Tag Archives: CNET Networks

CNET Gets Newsmaps

Without wanting to sound pompous, CNET may have taken my advice. A few months back (May 13, 2005) I wrote in a WSJ.com column (subscription only; non-subscribers will have to take my word for it or check out News Visualization posts in Loose Wire’s Design & Innovation section) that

to me it’s slightly daft that most news Web sites stick to an online format that someone wandering in from the mid-17th century would recognize. Newspapers haven’t changed an awful lot in layout since they first appeared. There’s good reason for this: It works. But why has the Internet, with all its interactive links, clicking, visuals, sounds and promise of customizing to the individual’s needs, not at least tried to reconsider the newspaper model — headline, pictures, text — in favor of something better?

One of my suggestions was the newsmap, as impressively demonstrated by Marcos Weskamp’s newsmap itself, and concluded that

I would love to see more experimentation like this until we stumble on a way to view news online that is more exciting than it is right now.

Well, CNET (thanks Robin) has obliged with their Hot page, which looks remarkably like Marcos Weskamp’s newsmap:

Cnet

Click on the subject and the story pops up. The size of each block is determined by the story’s hotness — how many people have clicked on it. Excellently executed, and a great tool. Good for CNET. Hey, maybe they had the idea eons ago. Maybe they’ve been doing it for a while. But as my friend Robin says: “I can tell you where I first saw this technology…. on the looose wire blog!!!!!!!!!” Yeah!

Yahoo buys Flickr

Flickr is now part of Yahoo! As CNET reports, Yahoo has bought photo-sharing site Flickr :

Yahoo has purchased online photo-sharing service Flickr, less than a week after the Internet giant launched a beta test of a new blogging tool.

Vancouver, British Columbia-based Flickr lets users upload digital photos from computers and camera phones, put together photo albums, and post photos to blogs, among other things.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Flickr. According to a Yahoo spokesperson, Flickr will remain a standalone site for now. The company’s employees, however, will relocate to Sunnyvale later this year.

News: CNET Buys MP3.com from Vivendi

 More music download site musical chairs: CNET Networks will buy MP3.com, one of the first online music services, from Vivendi Universal Net USA. AP reports that CNET, an online magazine/download site, will launch new digital music service launching next year.
 
Vivendi acquired MP3.com in May 2001 in a $372 million cash-and-stock deal.

News: Software turns iTunes Into MP3 Downloader

 Sometimes I wonder whether it’s ever going to be possible to produce a watertight way of limiting access to digital music. Take Apple’s very popular iTunes, for example. CNET reports that an independent software developer has created a program that lets users of iTunes for Windows grab song files from other people on a computer network, using a streaming feature already available in iTunes. The MyTunes software fits neatly into iTunes and, unlike Apple’s software which makes no permanent copy of the song, captures that “stream” of music, making a copy that can be burned to a CD, uploaded to the Net or streamed to another PC.
 
As CNET says, “while stream recording is not new–a myriad programs exist for recording Web radio and other streaming Net services for Windows and Macintosh computers–the ease with which the MyTunes software fits into iTunes pushes the experience to a new, and perhaps legally risky, level. Running the program makes creating your own MP3 songs from someone else’s collection as easy or easier than grabbing MP3s via traditional file-swapping software like Kazaa. That could complicate things for Apple, which depends on the music industry’s support–and indeed, has won unprecedented kudos from labels and artists–for its iTunes music store.”

New: Gator Changes Name, But That’s All

 A rose by any other name? CNET reports that Gator, the controversial advertising software and e-wallet company, has “changed its name to better reflect its business in behavioral marketing”. The change, CNET says, distances the company from a name that has become synonymous with “spyware”–that is, ad-tracking software that can be installed surreptitiously.
 
Despite landing such Fortune 500 advertisers as American Express and Target, the company has had difficulty dispelling the negative connotations of its software. It also has faced several lawsuits for its advertising practices. In recent weeks it has gone on the offensive, launching a legal offensive to divorce its name from the hated term ‘spyware’, with some success. In response to a libel lawsuit, antispyware company PC Pitstop has settled with Gator and pulled Web pages critical of the company, its practices and its software.

News: Another Online Music Store

 Riding on the success of Apple’s iTunes, Musicmatch has announced its own digital song-selling business, according to CNET. The service has access to songs from five major labels and more than 30 independents, with pricing set at 99 cents per song and $9.99 for most albums.
 
 
Customers can play tracks on up to three PCs simultaneously and transfer them to Windows Media-supported music players. Songs can be burned to CDs, but a given playlist may be burned no more than five times.

Update: One Of Microsoft Security Report Authors Fired

 One of the authors of the security paper (PDF file) that said Microsoft was a threat to national security has been fired, according to CNET. Cambridge, Mass-based @Stake, where Dan Geer worked as chief technical officer, said in a statement Thursday that the researcher had not gotten his employers’ approval for the study’s release, and that he was no longer associated with the company. Although independently financed and researched, the study was distributed by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), a Washington-based trade association largely made up of Microsoft’s rivals.
 
A Microsoft spokesman said the software maker had not pressured @Stake to make any decision on Geer’s status. Bruce
Schneier, a security expert and co-author of the report, saw things differently, according to CNET. He said the idea for the report had come from Geer and the other researchers, not from the CCIA or other Microsoft rivals. The group had found it hard to find other researchers to sign on to the idea, even if those approached agreed with the study’s premises, he said. “When we were conceiving and writing the report, a surprising number of researchers said ‘No,’ because of the fear of Microsoft,” Schneier said. “Dan was not talking for @Stake. We were speaking as researchers. The fact that @Stake couldn’t get around that shows the pressure that Microsoft brings to bear.”

News: Bad News For Bandwith Hogs

 I guess it’s not a particularly liberal view of the Internet, this wondrous playground where everyone can find what they want and access it, but it’s probably inevitable: some high-volume users are going to find their usage curtailed. CNET reports that some cable Internet service subscribers are quietly capping the volume of downloading they allow their subscribers to do. So far, it’s only affecting the heaviest users.
 
These are a small minority: CNET quote ISPs as saying a tiny percentage of people are using an enormous percentage of their total bandwidth. This will inevitably slow down the connections of other folk in the same area. Personally, I’m all for capping: I don’t think the Internet should be for folk downloading and uploading gigabytes of data unless they’ve got a separate corporate connection. Give the rest of us a chance.
 

News: The Future of Music

 An interesting, post-weekend read on the future of music, courtesy of CNET and The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. In the end, they say, online music is just going to be too convenient, too cheap and too compelling to be ignored by the majors, and to be worthwhile for the pirates.
 
 
The article reckons that the glory days of the CD are over, even if what eventually replaces it  – a streaming environment where you can access your music on the go, wherever you are — is going to take some time to be sufficiently ubiquitous and conceptually appealing. I’d tend to agree, especially with the article’s closing words, from Lee Black, a senior analyst covering music and media for Jupiter Media, the Internet data firm: “I think you will always have a free (pirating) market,” Black says. “What you have to do is make the legitimate market much easier to use than the free market.”
 

News: Camera phone manufacturers ban camera phones

The limits to camera phones
 
 CNET Asia reports that some Korean manufacturers like Samsung and LG Electronics “may be fiercely promoting camera-equipped phones to consumers, but are wary about allowing their use on their own company grounds.” Both companies have barred employees from using the gadgets in some of their factories to prevent “industrial espionage and intellectual property theft”, the report says, quoting Korean daily Chosun Ilbo (here’s the original report).
 
This is another chapter in the fast moving saga of camera phones. They’ve been banned in some public areas — changing rooms and the like — and CNET says bookstore owners in Japan “are also mulling measures to stop female shoppers from snapping pictures of magazines with their camera-phones”. Korea, CNET says, is considering a law which makes it mandatory for phone makers to install a “noise emitter” in their camera-equipped handsets.
 
Hmm. It’s not all bad, though: I’ve read other stories about folk snapping shoplifters, hold-ups and other criminal activities. The debate is bound to go on, probably until it’s overtaken by miniature cameras that no one can see, built into ties, sun-glasses, or whatever. And of course, with wristwatches and PDAs sporting cameras, where exactly do you draw the line?