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Mute Math, Yahoo, and Flickr

By - July 04, 2007

Mute Math 2

I know there has been some rustlings about Yahoo’s inclusion of Flickr into its image search. But today something happened that hasn’t in a very long time – I found myself proactively going to Yahoo Image Search to find something, because my default – Google – didn’t have it.

Mute Math

I was telling my son, who shares my love of music, about seeing Mute Math at Bonnaroo last month. It was an amazing show, with the lead singer flinging himself about the stage, the ultimate finale being a spread eagle belly flop into a bank of lights behind the band. I wanted to show Ian what I was talking about.

Mute Math in Concert“, I asked Google.

Good, but not, well, right.

Then I remembered that Yahoo had integrated Flickr into its results. I was somehow certain that through Flickr, I would see what I wanted to see.

And I was right. It was exactly what I expected to see. And then I could dive into a ton of Flickr streams and really show my son what I saw.

Nice work, Yahoo.

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Happy 4th

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No posting today.

Google and GrandCentral: Open MP3s No Longer Allowed

By - July 03, 2007

After Google’s GrandCentral acquisition, Reader Troy points out:

GrandCentral offers a range of truly useful features, but one that was just plain fun was “RingShare.” This allowed users to pick from a range of different ringtones (authentic Russian *beeeeeep*, anyone?), or — better yet — upload their own MP3 for a personalized ring, “please hold” message or muzak.

As of today, though, the MP3 option is no more. (See below)

I can’t complain about this decision; the legal liability for Google/GrandCentral isn’t worth it for what amounted to a non-essential, gee-whiz feature.

Well, I can complain. Why was this done? To avoid potential liability, right? In other words, caving to possible lawsuits instead of defending customer centric features. I hate the phone world.

Follow the FreeBurner

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My colleague Kevin Kelly popularized the phrase “Follow the free” whilst an editor at Wired. Google certainly seems to agree, making most every paid service it buys free. Next up: Feedburner’s paid services, TotalStats and MyBrand.

Fight For Mike

By - July 02, 2007

Homer

Mike Homer is an investor in my company, FM, and I’ve always enjoyed spending time with him. He’s smart, he’s connected, and he’s fun. Now, however, he’s very, very ill, with a disease that has precious little understanding in the medical community. But we can all help. His family and friends have started a “Fight for Mike” fund and I ask anyone who might help, to help. More details are here.

From the Fight for Mike page:

Your donation will help accelerate research on medication that might prolong Mike’s life as UCSF continues its work on a cure for CJD.

UCSF is the only place in the U.S. that conducts research, clinical trials, and treatment of CJD. UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center (MAC), directed by Dr. Bruce Miller, is the clinical program that provides assessment and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Dr. Michael Geschwind directs UCSF’s CJD clinical team. There are short-term treatments that can benefit Mike and your donation will go directly to research on medications that can prolong Mike’s life and make the quality of his remaining life better.

CJD is a rare, rapidly progressive, neurodegenerative disease. It is part of a family of diseases, called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, that are caused by an agent known as a “prion”, a proteinaceous infectious particle. Prions were named and discovered by Dr. Stanley Prusiner at the University of California, San Francisco, who was awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize for this work. Prion diseases also occur in animals, the most well-known infectious variant being mad cow disease. The incidence of CJD is roughly 1 case per million annually, with onset usually occurring in late middle age. At present, there is no known cure for CJD, and treatment options are extremely limited. Only a small percentage of patients survive past one year of the first symptom.

You can donate right here.

Yahoo's "Creative Assembly Platform"

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SEL does a nice job summarizing what’s “smart” in Yahoo’s new SmartAds.

Yahoo is introducing new SmartAds that deliver display ads to people across the web based on their demographic and geographic profiles, plus search and web browsing behaviors. These ads represent the future of graphical advertising at Yahoo, according to Gaude Lydia Paez, director of corporate communications at Yahoo.

…The really new thing about SmartAds is the “creative assembly platform,” for which Yahoo has applied for a patent. The idea, according to Paez, is to take “templates” of advertiser-generated creative (e.g., copy, logos, graphics) and assemble those elements dynamically depending on the targeting opportunity. An 18-year-old woman in New England looking for hybrid vehicles, for example, might see a different ad from the same marketer than a 50-year-old male in Texas.

More Yahoo

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I read this piece in the Sunday NYT on Sue Decker. If you want to grok Yahoo, you gotta read it too.

Interesting Study: Brand and Search

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Thanks to reader JG for this interesting writeup of a recent study on how brands effect search results. From it:

Web searchers who evaluated identical search-engine results overwhelmingly favored Yahoo! and Google, providing evidence that people go for brand names on the Internet just as they do in the real world, according to new research presented at the Computer/Human Interaction 2007 Conference in San Jose, California….

Despite the results pages being identical in content and presentation, participants indicated that Yahoo! and Google outperformed MSN Live Search and the in-house search engine.

I also found this very interesting:

This is in line with the finding last year by German researchers who showed using MRI scans that well-known brands activate positive emotional responses in people’s brains.

Link to the study. Link to the MRI study.

Universal Does Not Renew with Apple…At Least not on Same Terms…

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Remember my prediction from 2006:

8. iTunes will begin to get the speed wobbles as the music industry decides it wants to control its distribution just like in the good old days.

Well, it didn’t happen right away, but check this out from Forbes:

It’s about time.

That’d be the opinion of any sane music industry observer looking at Universal Music Group’s decision not to renew its annual contract with Apple’s iTunes Store.

The move means that Universal will treat Apple (nasdaq: AAPL – news – people ) like pretty much any other retailer it does business with, marking a first step in restoring some balance in the relationship between Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs and the struggling recording industry.

A revolution it isn’t. Vivendi’s Universal Music will continue providing iTunes with access to its new releases and older catalog titles. Apple isn’t about to drop the inventory of the world’s largest music company from iTunes. And consumers won’t notice any difference.

But it will give Universal some breathing room if, say, a big media company approaches them with a promising new way to distribute music digitally and wants to provide some oomph to its launch with exclusive, limited-time access to new releases from the label’s hottest-selling artists.