Latest speaker at GreenBeat 2009: Cisco’s Smart Grid guru, Laura Ipsen

laura-ipsenI’m pleased to announce that Laura Ipsen, VP and General Manager for Cisco Systems‘ Smart Grid Business Unit, will be joining us as a speaker at GreenBeat 2009.

Over the next several days, you’ll be hearing more announcements about our exciting lineup for GreenBeat 2009, the seminal conference on technologies that disrupt the Smart Grid.

The event will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area on Nov. 19. We’ve already got a great docket of speakers planned, from former vice president and father of the Smart Grid, Al Gore, to leading Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr.

Cisco Systems, the Bay Area giant that helped shape the internet over the past two decades, is now eying the nation’s energy transmission system as a major new area for growth. Cisco recently announced its own consortium of companies adopting common IP-based communications standards. In doing so, it hopes to foster an interoperable ecosystem for sending and receiving energy consumption data — a key part of the Smart Grid now that utilities are becoming more intelligent about when and where to route power. It joins a diverse range of companies, from Google to Tendril, that want to put consumers back in charge of how much power they use — and even allow them to contribute electricity from rooftop solar panels, wind turbines and other sources back to the grid. If history is any indication, Cisco will be one of the leaders in this charge.

Come see Ipsen discuss the company’s strategy in this fast-moving business: Sign up now to attend GreenBeat 2009, and get an early bird discount of $255 off the regular price!


YouTube Tries To Win Over Media Partners With More Data

YouTube is trying to create more incentives for media partners to keep content on the video-hosting site. Today, YouTube announced the integration of Content ID, which is an advanced set of copyright policies and content management tools, with YouTube Insight, a free tool that enables anyone with a YouTube account to view detailed statistics about the videos that they upload. One way to look at this is that YouTube is trying to offer this extra data and analytics to keep partners on board.

According to YouTube, over 1,000 partners are using Content ID to reveal user-uploaded versions of their videos on YouTube. The partners can then determine whether they to want block, track or make money from them. YouTube Insight shows stats, video rankings, demographics, discovery sources and other metrics for videos, giving partners a broader picture of how viral the content is. For example, YouTube says Sony Music learned that the JK Wedding Entrance Dance video is the music label’s 8th most popular video on YouTube via the Content ID and YouTube mashup.

While the integration may not seem like a huge deal, the underlying reasons why YouTube is offering this package to media partners is significant. YouTube is trying to show media partners the benefits of keeping related content on YouTube by showering them with data. With YouTube Insight, it is showing them detailed analytics of how vast a video’s reach actually is (or isn’t). It’s unclear if media partners, such as Sony, will buy into this, but if YouTube can prove the benefits of the Content ID program in new ways, it should continue to grow and help YouTube turn a liability (copyright infringing videos) into an asset.

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TechCrunch50 Conference 2009: September 14-15, 2009, San Francisco

ServicesEditor Makes Resetting and Tweaking Windows Services Simple [Services]

Windows: Whether you need to reset the Windows Services configuration back to stock after your over-zealous friend started modifying his computer or you'd like to make a pre-configured registry file for that friend, ServicesEditor makes configuration tweaking easy.

Years ago we showed you how to edit which Windows services are running on your computer to increase performance. What if, after a configuration-tweaking session gone wrong you want to reset everything to the default?

You can hop over to ServicesEditor and check out the default configurations for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. Not only can you see the default configuration but the list is interactive. You can toggle items to manual, automatic, or disabled, and then when you're done download a .REG file that will make the changes to your system registry on your behalf.

An application you may be interested in, if you're doing a fair amount of services tweaking, is previously reviewed Services Profiles which allows you to create custom service profiles for various tasks like gaming. ServicesEditor is a free, web-based, service.



M&A binge continues as Xerox buys ACS to get into services

xerox-1The acquisition binge continues in corporate America as Xerox said today it will buy Affiliated Computer Services in a cash and stock deal valued at $6.4 billion.

With ACS, the copier giant will now expand into services such as collecting tolls and installing computer systems in government agencies. The purchase price is $63.11 a share, a big premium on ACS’ Friday closing price of $47.50 a share.

Xerox will now join battle with HP in print managed services, something that HP expanded into with its $13 billion acquisition of EDS last year. It will also take on IBM global services as well as Dell, which last week bought Perot Systems for $3.9 billion.

Ursula Burns, Xerox chief executive, said in a statement that Xerox will become a $22 billion company, with $17 billion of that coming in the form of recurring revenues. Cerberus Capital Management tried to buy ACS two years ago for $6.2 billion, or $62 a share, but the private equity firm later withdrew the bid, which ACS rejected as too low. But those were the days before the big recession, and shareholders are likely to be quite happy with the deal, which provides $18.60 a share in cash and 4.935 Xerox shares for every ACS share. Xerox also assumes ACS’ $2 billion in debt.

Xerox said it will save $300 million to $400 million due to post-merger efficiencies in the first three years after the deal closes. Xerox’s services revenue will triple from $3.5 billion in 2008 to $10 billion next year, Burns said..

ACS, founded more than 20 years ago, has 74,000 employees, while Xerox has 54,000. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010, pending approvals. The ACS division of Xerox will be led by Lynn Blodgett, its current chief executive.


Alcatel Boosts Fiber Speed to 100 Petabits in Lab [GigaOM]

istock_000004000555xsmallAlcatel-Lucent today said that scientists at Bell Labs have set an optical transmission record that could deliver data about 10 times faster than current undersea cables, resulting in speeds of more than 100 Petabits per second.kilometer. A petawhat? This translates to the equivalent of about 100 million Gigabits per second.kilometer or sending about 400 DVDs per second over 7,000 kilometers, roughly the distance between Paris and Chicago.

Such capacity increases on our undersea cables are important. A single home isn’t sending about 400 DVDs per second, however, as video becomes increasingly available and downloaded on the web, entire neighborhoods and geographic regions will get there, and that capacity increase is reflected in the growth of long-haul networking demand. That’s why research such as this and new companies such as Cyan Optics are so important to maintaining the current pace of innovation on the web. Now that broadband is our platform we have to make sure it continues to get faster and faster.

The transmissions were not just faster, they were accomplished over a network whose repeaters are 20 percent farther apart than commonly maintained in such networks, which could decrease the costs of deploying such a network.

To achieve these results, researchers from the Bell Labs facility in Villarceaux, France used 155 lasers, each operating at a different frequency and carrying 100 Gigabits of data per second. The team multiplied the number of lasers by their transmission rate of 100 Gigabits per second and then multiplied the 15.5-Terabit-per-second result by the 7,000-kilometer distance achieved. The combination of speed multiplied by distance expressed as bit per second.kilometers is a standard measure for high-speed optical transmission.

Vid-Biz: Playboy, Video Ads, Verizon [NewTeeVee]

Playboy Getting into TV Everywhere; adult network in talks with operators about wrapping an online option into the pay channel’s subscription. (Multichannel News)

Shenanigans with Video Ad Delivery; some video ad networks being deceptive about the number of impressions they deliver by counting auto-playing ads that run below the fold. (MediaWeek)

Verizon Eyeing DirecTV Acquisition? Buying the satellite company would make the telco the No. 2 pay TV player, but AT&T’s relationship with DirecTV could complicate such a purchase. (Tech Trader Daily)

CBS Releases College Sports iPhone App; app will live stream 15 SEC football games and select SEC basketball games. (Contentinople)

TV Sales Down, As Is Advertising; sales of TV sets down 15 percent in the first quarter, with media spending by manufacturers down 28 percent year-over year to $58.3 million. (Ad Age)

Wikipedia Co-Founder to Launch Kids Education Video Site; Larry Sanger’s WatchKnow.org will be a directory of the best children’s educational vids. (Business Insider)

8 Really Bad Tech Videos; from Microsoft’s Songsmith to the Pets.com sock puppet, a round-up of truly awful technology clips. (Wired Gadget Lab)

TomTom’s Portable Navigation Device: Dash Revisited? [GigaOM]

tomtomAT&T is continuing to move into the connected-devices space with the new TomTom XL 340S LIVE, but the gadget’s $300 price tag — and $10-a-month service — will likely prevent it from gaining much traction. There’s a lot to like about the GPS-enabled navigation device: It delivers real-time traffic information, gas prices and weather, and it features Google’s Local Search. And it underscores AT&T’s eagerness to expand its business of adding network connectivity to consumer devices, which is quickly becoming a pillar in mobile carriers’ business models.

AT&T also is rumored to be the carrier behind Garmin’s upcoming nuvifone, which will compete with TomTom’s new device. It’s difficult to see many customers ponying up that much cash for a stand-alone device, though, when sophisticated, multimedia-friendly handsets such as the Palm Pre or iPhone 3G can be had for less than $100. Although TomTom’s new device is optimized for use behind the wheel — with its big screen and colorful display — and the price includes three free months of service, I’m not convinced that justifies what amounts to a $510 handset (including two years of service) for navigation purposes alone. After all, a knockout device wasn’t nearly enough to save Dash Navigation, which was acquired a few months ago for a mere fraction of the $71 million it raised from venture investors. We’re quickly entering the age of connected consumer gadgets, but there’s not a ton of demand for pricey navigation devices when today’s smartphones can do the job pretty well by themselves.

Unisfair captures $3.2M to host virtual events

unisfairUnisfair, a firm that hosts virtual events, particularly job fairs that you don’t have to attend in person, has brought in $3.2 million of an anticipated $9.3 million round of equity, according to a filing with the SEC. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company just bolstered its offerings by integrating Facebook and Twitter into its event experiences.

Unisfair’s platform allows you to create a digital character, or avatar, that you can navigate through a faux exhibition hall to interact with others, attend panel discussions and keynotes, or stop by booths set up by other companies. It targets its services at larger companies looking to host events with a large number of remote attendees. They usually find new clients through partnerships with marketing firms.

Unisfair competes with companies like InXpo (which just raised $9 million two weeks ago), iCongo and On24, which also provide platforms for hosting digital events. These firms reported an uptick in business during the economic downturn, mostly because companies wanted to save money on hosting elaborate, real-life events or paying for travel to conferences and fairs. Unisfair in particular saw a bump due to its focus on job events.

The company previously raised $19 million from Norwest Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. BCS Growth Fund has a representative on its board of directors.


GreenBeat 2009 Innovation Competition: Change the world with your Smart Grid company!

GreenBeat2009 logoTo avoid environmental catastrophe within the next century, we, as a world, desperately need to cut carbon emissions.

If you’re an entrepreneur, this is the calling of a lifetime — there’s massive economic opportunity here.

That’s why VentureBeat is hosting GreenBeat 2009, the seminal conference on the emergence of a “Smart Grid” — the movement toward a cleaner, more efficient electrical grid — one that champions transparency and puts consumers back in charge of how much power they use, and more importantly, how much they pay for it. We’ve got everyone coming, from former Vice President Al Gore (father of the Smart Grid), to John Doerr, a leading Silicon Valley investor with Kleiner Perkins (see his piece here), to Laura Ipsen, VP and GM of Cisco’s Smart Grid Business Unit, to executives from the leading utilities like PG&E.

We’re also looking for the biggest, boldest ideas entrepreneurs have to change the way we think about, build and use the existing grid. To spotlight these ideas, we’re holding a competition to award the best disruptors in the business. More details are below.

Today, the country’s energy market is at least $1 trillion. And if you look at the proposals being bandied about, tens of billions of dollars are on the move. In some areas, value is being destroyed (inefficiencies are being ironed out and old power plants are being phased out). But in other areas, value is being created (alternative energy projects built, smarter software installed, jobs created).

Heavy regulation and focus on efficiency means that large utilities won’t be able to keep generating more and more power, but they’ll resist change if they don’t see financial incentives. Federal and state governments are now anticipating this problem, and the legislative environment is ripe for breakthrough.

The Obama administration may be distracted by the healthcare debate today, but eventually, it push forward on the controversial Waxman-Markey Climate Bill, mandating a carbon trading system. Obama knows the U.S. needs to save face at the United Nations’ climate summit in Copenhagen in December. The House has already passed the bill, which would reduce gas emissions sharply. eric-schmidtIt now hinges on the Senate. All this should be coming to a head around the time of our conference on Nov. 19.

Despite what critics say, the cost of these legislative measures will be relatively little, and the benefits huge. California illustrates this best. It has led the nation in efficiency, establishing strong renewable energy requirements, and decoupling utility revenue from how much power their customers use (giving them reason to actually help people conserve). As a result, consumers and businesses alike have redirected their energy spending to other goods and services, creating more than a million jobs with a payroll of more than $45 billion, according to an estimate by Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, who wrote a good column on this over the weekend.

powermeterThe opportunities are so big that even Google is reaching for a piece of the pie with PowerMeter, a consumer-facing home energy management system rolling out to thousands of households as early as this year. The California Air Resources Board, the agency responsible for implementing a law that will reduce California greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, predicts $33 billion in increased economic production as a result of the policy, Schmidt notes. In addition, the state’s gross product will increase by $7 billion, and personal income will grow by $16 billion.

Indeed, entrepreneurial opportunities already abound. Lately, we’re seeing metering companies buy up or partner with home energy monitor makers. Itron just landed a partnership with OpenPeak, Silver Spring just bought Greenbox, Elster partnered with Blue Line Innovations — all in the last two weeks. All of these metering companies are looking to install dashboards in homes and businesses telling consumers exactly how much energy they are using and how much it is costing them in real time. The Smart Grid has never gotten so much attention.

Given the activity in the U.S., imagine the opportunity in China and India, countries with huge populations and growing economies in urgent need of modernized energy infrastructure. News is that India, which has long rejected adopting curbs on emissions, is now considering a proposal to do just that.

I hope you’ll join us at GreenBeat 2009 to find out more about this potential. Sign up now and get an early bird discount of $255 off the regular price!

Meanwhile, here’s more on the GreenBeat 2009 Innovation Competition:

We’re seeking path-breaking companies to achieve the goals of the Smart Grid, which are defined by GreenBeat 2009 as the following:

1) Decarbonize the grid
2) Transmit data alongside power between utilities AND consumers
3) Drive increased efficiency and conservation of power

The top 10 business models and technologies promising the “smartest” impact on the power grid will win.

We are seeking submissions from companies with the following:

Innovative business models — These companies will have strategies that either leverage the capabilities and data made available by the Smart Grid or help fulfill one or more of the goals above.  These companies will answer the questions:  Who will profit from the Smart Grid?  What is the next killer app everyone will use?  Now that there’s so much data available, who will make the best use of it and how?  The winning business models will have clear revenue models and have convincing arguments as to why their revenue models are sustainable in a rapidly changing space.

Innovative technologies — These companies or organizations (universities, research groups) will help decarbonize the grid, facilitate data transmission and monitoring of power use, or increase efficiency or conservation efforts. We’ll give preference to companies that have a pilot project already underway. We’ll also give preference to companies that plan to launch at GreenBeat 2009 or at least plan to reveal the latest release of their their existing products (GreenBeat is focused on the bleeding edge, so we’re less interested in showcasing companies with dated technology).

Eligible companies can operate in any of the following fields:

  • Advanced metering
  • Network architecture for power management
  • Energy storage
  • Fuel cells
  • Grid scale hardware and infrastructure
  • Transmission
  • Real-time power monitoring
  • Lighting and Appliances
  • Demand management software
  • Home area networking
  • Data transmission/ “Broadband over Power line”
  • Electric or other car systems that disrupt our reliance on carbon

If you have any questions regarding the competition, eligibility, or potentially demonstrating your new product at GreenBeat 2009, please contact editor@venturebeat.com.


Why Isn’t Microsoft Touting Number of Windows Mobile Apps? [jkOnTheRun]

windows-mobile-logoThe timing of news from Cupertino is eerie. They’re shouting from the rooftops that over two billion apps have been downloaded to the over 50 million iPhone and iPod Touch devices sold. Obviously, when we recorded our latest podcast a few days ago, we had no idea that Apple would hit these numbers today. But we focused our entire show on Windows Mobile — what was once a leader in the smartphone space. And I have to wonder: why isn’t Microsoft sharing the numbers of available applications for its platform?

See, that’s one of the common responses I get when I talk about Microsoft becoming a potential “also-ran” to Apple, Google and Research in Motion. Folks defend the platform passionately with quotes like “I can install any third party app on my Windows Mobile device and there are tens of thousands of them out there.” Or “Windows Mobile currently has every single other platform beat hands-down in terms of app library due to its long history.” Good points. Apple says there are now 85,000 applications in their store, but I really have no idea how that compares to the Windows Mobile space. Nor do any other consumers.

I know that I’ve used a fair share of third-party applications during my WinMo days. Some of them were outstanding and I’d load ‘em up on every WinMo handset I had. And I suspect that many of you have felt the same joy about certain programs in the past. So why then, isn’t Microsoft defending Windows Mobile in this regard? I’m sure it’s difficult to determine the exact number of applications available for Windows Mobile since there isn’t yet a centralized place to find them, but even an estimate would be handy, no?

MySpace Floods Twitter With Status Updates; Now No. 2 Source of Short Links.

Never underestimate the power of two-way sync and large social networks. A week ago, MySpace turned on two-way sync with Twitter, allowing members to post their status updates to Twitter directly from MySpace. Those updates appear in Twitter with a short link back to MySpace, using MySpace’s own link shortener, “http://lnk.ms/.”

MySpace status updates are now flooding Twitter. Those MySpace short links account for 17 percent of all passed links on Twitter, according to Tweetmeme, making it the No. 2 link shortener after bit.ly, which rules with 68 percent. The day of the launch, lnk.ms accounted for 8.56 percent of all passed links on Twitter. MySpace has had its own short URL for about six months, but it’s only now taking off with two-way sync.

The MySpace short links can be used for any URL, but it is the status updates which seem to be what they are being used for the most. So that’s not really a huge threat to bit.ly, even if it does represent a large and growing volume of short links on Twitter. Not everyone can see those status updates once they click through. You typically have to be that person’s friend on MySpace to even see the update. But the proliferation of lnk.ms links does show how easy it is for a large service like MySpace to inject itself into the conversation on Twitter with a simple feature like two-way sync.

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TechCrunch50 Conference 2009: September 14-15, 2009, San Francisco

Clothes Dryers Meet the Smart Grid, Courtesy of Whirlpool [Earth2Tech]

whirlpooldryerLarge manufacturers have been tinkering with smart appliances — dishwashers, microwaves and other devices embedded with communications technology — for years. During the height of the dot-com bubble, connected appliances saw renewed hype, with announcements like that of Sun Microsystems, whose CEO Scott McNealy paired a tablet PC with a Whirlpool fridge. But with the emergence of the smart grid, Whirlpool, as well as other appliance makers, finally seems to be taking some concrete steps toward commercializing networked appliances. Whirlpool said this morning that it plans to produce 1 million smart clothes dryers by the end of 2011.

Whirlpool has already pledged to be able to connect all of its appliances to the smart grid by 2015, but this latest production pledge suggests the company is seeking to move even more quickly. As the Wall Street Journal points out, 1 million dryers in 2011 will account for a quarter of Whirlpool’s expected production. GE plans to soon start selling a smart water heater that can reduce energy consumption by half compared to a traditional heat pump.

Like other smart appliances, Whirlpool’s smart dryers will react to a signal from the utility’s smart grid that will tell it to power down during times of peak energy use (right after work when everyone comes home, for example, or during a mid-summer day when air conditioning is on full blast) in exchange for a lower monthly energy bill. Whirlpool says the savings from the smart dryer (if your utility has variable pricing) would be on the order of $20-$40 per year.

With such modest savings, Whirlpool won’t be able to make those dryers too much more expensive than non-smart dryers if it wants to sell a lot of them. The Wall Street Journal notes that smart appliances “aren’t expected to be priced much higher than regular EnergyStar products.”

A company like Whirlpool is interested in smart appliances for a few reasons. First, any excuse to convince consumers to buy new products in this economy is being embraced by appliance makers. Second, adding digital intelligence and using low-cost chips and cheap wireless or powerline connections won’t be that expensive for appliance makers.

But a bigger draw is that the smart grid is finally getting significant attention and funding from the federal government — and smart appliances will play an important role in that buildout. Whirlpool says that the development of smart grid standards for the pricing signal that utilities will send to smart appliances (see our 5 Next Steps for Smart Grid Standards) is playing a major role in its aggressive commercialization timetable. Expect to see more announcements from big manufacturers that are starting to feel more comfortable with this technology as the standards mature.

At the end of the day, most consumers won’t want to play an active role in managing the energy consumption of their appliances, so machines and software that will do the job for them will be a necessity.

Ustream On Facebook Grows A Celebrity Following, Tops 6 Million Hours Streamed

Earlier this summer live video streaming service Ustream scored a big win as it was endorsed by Facebook as its preferred live video service. The app gives celebrities and brands a way to create their own live streams without having to build custom Live Stream Box applications, which also launched in June. Ustream on Facebook is only available to brands and celebrities at this point (you have to apply to the program if you want it), but it’s already seeing some impressive stats — to date, the app has seen nearly 4 million total viewers and more than 6 million hours streamed.

The app’s growing roster of celebrity users includes Miley Cyrus, CBS Mountain Dew, The Jonas Brothers, Ashton Kutcher, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Honors Society, Ashley Tisdale, Reba McEntire, Diddy’s White Party, Hurley Pro and U.S. Open surfing competitions, Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Global Summit, as well as a number of other live concerts and even Duke University’s office hours. Facebook executives have used the app as well, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg streaming from Brazil during a talk and COO Sheryl Sandberg using it for her Advertising Week keynote.

To be clear, Facebook and Ustream don’t have a financial relationship — rather, Facebook has chosen Ustream as its “preferred provider for live streaming video on Facebook”. Facebook was involved in helping develop the application and its initial testing during some massively popular Jonas Brothers events, and has previously recomended it in its blog posts.

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TechCrunch50 Conference 2009: September 14-15, 2009, San Francisco

From Monitor to Monetize: The Evolution of YouTube Content ID [NewTeeVee]

Two years ago, the launch of YouTube’s video fingerprinting scheme was viewed as an overdue attempt to appease copyright holders like Viacom, which had sued the site for more than $1 billion earlier in 2007. Content owners had to upload their entire libraries to YouTube, a company they weren’t sure if they trusted, in order to police its pages for infringing videos. But today, YouTube’s Content ID is a market standard, with every major U.S. network broadcaster, movie studio, and record label using it, including Viacom. More than 1,000 content owners have uploaded more than 1 million reference files to the system, and the majority of partners elect to leave infringing content up and try to monetize it by linking to official content or overlaying it with ads.

YouTube today is announcing it has tied together Content ID with its analytics tool, YouTube Insight. Now, content owners who choose to leave up YouTube user uploads of their content will be able to view stats about each video’s demographics, referrals and engagement. They’ll also be able to view stats about all their videos, official and unofficial, in one place. So for instance, Sony Music could see that the JK Wedding Entrance Dance is its eighth most popular music video on YouTube. No word yet on whether viewers of unofficial videos are demographically different than those who find the official ones — but perhaps the data will be instructive for Sony and UMG’s YouTube-powered Vevo music video site, set to launch in December

How else has Content ID evolved in the last two years? We visited YouTube HQ in San Bruno, Calif. last week, and spoke to Senior Product Manager David King to find out.

First of all, when the Content ID system launched, rights holders weren’t happy that it scanned videos shortly after they were posted to YouTube, not before. The delay was built in to avoid slowing down the upload process more than than necessary — users just want their videos to go live — and also, possibly, to protect YouTube from claims that it pre-screened videos, which could potentially make it more liable if they contained copyrighted content.

But content owners said they wanted all content fingerprinted before it ever got posted. “This was a religious point for some studios,” said King. And so, about nine months after Content ID launched, the entire YouTube infrastructure was migrated into the Google cloud “at great cost,” he said. Now, videos are checked for copyrighted content before they go live.

However, over the last two years, Content ID has been naturally migrating from an anti-piracy tool to a marketing and monetization tool. From the beginning, rights holders had the ability to leave unauthorized uploads up and monetize them with ads. The majority of partners now do so, said King. Those who leave user videos up have seen their overall views more than double.

On the flip side, Content ID is now being used to control videos on a more granular level. Content is increasingly geoblocked, said King, so for instance, something that was uploaded in France could potentially be unavailable there because of local rights issues, but viewable in the rest of world. Gets a little awkward when you were just hoping to show a video to your pals!

The other big infrastructure change YouTube has made is a fast-track reference system. As YouTube has grown, King’s team has actually decreased the amount of time it takes creates to create a match between uploaded content and a reference file. The site also has to constantly do legacy scans of its entire library as it intakes new reference files from rights holders. Where the underlying database used to be rebuilt three times a day, now it’s a RAM-based system instead of hard-disk based, and can be rebuilt entirely in under 30 minutes. That upgrade was done in advance of last year’s Beijing Olympics, when NBC took a particular interest in taking down content that had just aired live so it could drive the U.S. audience to its own site. “We’re continuing to focus on closing that live gap, and we will continue to have more announcements [about it],” said King.

So now that YouTube has put all this work into Content ID, would it want to license it out to other sites? “We’d be interested in opening it up to other people,” said King, but he didn’t have anything to announce yet.

Productivity Superstar: Can People Skills Shore Up Your Productivity? [WebWorkerDaily]

Creative Workgroup in a MeetingEditor’s note: With this post, we welcome Karen Leland, our new Productivity Superstar columnist, to the WebWorkerDaily team. Karen is the bestselling author of six books, including the recent “Time Management In An Instant: 60 Ways to Make the Most of Your Day,” and is the co-founder of Sterling Marketing Group. To find out more about Karen go to www.karenleland.com.

Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my professional life have been personal ones. There have been times when I’ve jumped the gun and made an incorrect assumption about a person or situation, sent the occasional indelicate email written in haste, or gone into a meeting in a grumpy mood. It’s not a pretty story, but one that needs to be told.

“When we are upset, we’re stupid,” says Randy Martin, a long-time executive coach. “So as a general rule, it’s never a good idea to communicate by phone, email or in person when angry or frustrated.” No kidding.

But despite my occasional bad behavior (and let’s tell the truth — who among us has not fallen off the courteous co-worker wagon from time to time?), I’ve had enough training and practice to know how to recover when I slip and fall on the road to interpersonal excellence.

As a consultant, I’ve seen my share of bad bosses throwing hissy fits, co-workers engaged in desk rage and customers going crazy — usually in the name of “getting the job done.” But does this justification really hold up? Not according to recent research.

In one August 2009 study, Wayne Hochwarter of the Florida State University College of Business asked more than 1,200 employees to provide opinions regarding the narcissistic tendencies of their immediate supervisor. Of those, 31 percent reported that their boss is prone to exaggerating his or her accomplishments to look good in front of others; 27 percent reported that their boss brags to others to get praise; 24 percent reported that their boss was self-centered; and 20 percent reported that their boss will do a favor only if guaranteed one in return.

“Having a narcissistic boss creates a toxic environment for virtually everyone who must come in contact with this individual,” Hochwarter said. “The team perspective ceases to exist, and the work environment becomes increasingly stressful. Productivity typically plummets as well.”

And the negative impact of poor people skills is not just reserved for those in charge. One survey of 1,500 workers by Christine Pearson at UNC-Chapel Hill found that 12 percent of staff surveyed had quit a job at some point to avoid nasty people at work and 45 percent were thinking about doing so. Moreover, more than half of those interviewed reported losing time at work worrying about other people’s rude behavior toward them.

So if all these anti-people attitudes and actions have a negative impact on productivity, does it stand to reason that having good people skills can make you more productive? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”

As part of the research for the second edition of his upcoming book, “250 Best-Paying Jobs,” Laurence Shatkin identified the skills associated with occupations with higher income. They included:

  • Active Listening: The ability to listen to what other people are saying and asking questions as appropriate.
  • Persuasion: The ability to enlist others to see and approach things differently.
  • Negotiation: The ability to bring others together to try and reconcile differences.
  • Teaching: The ability to impart to others how to do something.
  • Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react the way they do.

These are people skills, one and all. But beyond the benefits of bringing home the bigger bucks, Ben Leichtling, PhD and author of “How to Stop Bullies in Their Tracks,” says that good personal skills have the power to make your job easier as well.

“Having the support of other good people you work with is part of what makes us productive,” says Leichtling. “In fact, the Department of Labor Statistics estimates that workers and managers spend half to two-thirds of their time dealing with people problems. The bottom line is that good people skills reduce the people crap you have to deal with,” he says.

An aptitude for working with others is so important that the month of September has officially been declared International People Skills Month. So make a commitment to hone your people skills and play nice with the other kids in the company or customer sandbox. You may just find that it makes you not only popular, but more productive.

Has improving your people skills aided your productivity?

EU Says iPhones Will Be Pulled, If Proven Dangerous [TheAppleBlog]


iPhone_boomThe European Union isn’t taking reports of potentially dangerous iPhone malfunctions lightly. EU Commissioner for Consumer Protection Meglena Kuneva issued a warning today that iPhones will be pulled from store shelves if it turns out recent screen explosions are hardware-based problems.

Kuneva says the issue is now in the hands of independent labs checking to see if it is in fact something integral to the devices that’s led to the incidents. Apple maintains that the problems are freak exceptions, and seems to have suggested to the EU Commission investigating the matter that users overheating lithium-ion batteries is what’s to blame.

For those not up to date, iPhone owners have reported several separate exploding screen incidents in a number of different countries, including EU member states. The similarity of the accounts and the behavior of the devices up to and including the actual explosions themselves, in addition to the mounting number of incidents reported, led the EU’s Commissioner for Consumer Protection to mount a full-scale investigation into the matter.

Apple’s line has always been that the problems are due to user abuse, not something wrong with the devices themselves. Claims by Commission members that Apple is specifically citing overheated lithium-ion batteries is the closest the company has come to pointing out a specific cause for the incidents.

Commissioner Kuneva also discussed what information she needs to act, and cited another case in which a product was proven dangerous and removed from market:

We need to have 100 percent certainty from one member state that these goods are dangerous. If I receive from the French authorities information that they are dangerous, I will act in the interests of the consumer. I will ask my network for a recall of the product as we did with the Italian (Senseo) coffee machines. There, it was proven that they burned the hands of consumers.

If confirmation comes from any member state investigating the matter in which one of the incidents occurred, a group which includes Britain and Germany in addition to France, the EU will stop the sale of the iPhone across all member countries. This won’t directly affect sales in other international markets, like the U.S., but other countries may be prompted to impose bans of their own following the EU’s findings.

There is little Apple can do at this point besides await the commission’s decision, since any admission of a hardware defect on its part would lead to a product recall and a cessation of sales anyway. Better to wait and see what independent lab testing shows, and have its hand forced in a worst-case scenario.

Turn Your Windows 7 PC Into a Wireless Hotspot [Windows 7]

Everybody's got a wireless network at home, but if you've ever wanted to get your iPod touch, iPhone, or other wireless device connected but all you've got is a wired network at work, school, or elsewhere, Windows 7 makes this process trivial.

Not using Windows 7 yet? You can accomplish the same thing in Windows Vista, XP, and even OS X—the Windows Vista method is almost identical to Windows 7, but XP requires a few more steps.

Before we begin, you should make sure that you've got a laptop or desktop with a wireless card that isn't currently connected—if your laptop is connected to the wired network, your wireless card should be free, and we can use it to allow access to the internet. Note that you have to be plugged into a wired connection in order to share the connection wirelessly with others. Readers should also note that this won't work on (some) work networks that use group policies to enforce TPS report cover sheet boredom and prevent you from having any fun at all.

You'll want to start out by heading into the Network and Sharing Center through the Control Panel, or you can quickly get to it by right-clicking on the network icon in the system tray. Once you are there, find the link for "Set up a new connection or network".
You'll be prompted with a wizard that allows you to connect to VPNs, dial-up, or create a new ad hoc wireless network, which is what we want to do. You can easily use an ad hoc network to share files back and forth between two computers, but today we'll be using it for sharing the internet connection.

You'll need to give your network a name and choose some security options—remember that WEP is extremely easy to crack, and you'll want to make sure to use at least a decent sized key even for WPA2. The really important option on this page is to remember to check the box for "Save this network".


At this point your ad hoc network should be running and ready to start connecting your devices, but you'll want to hold off just a minute.

You'll notice that the ad hoc networks that you create get added to the quick-select wireless network list-when you disconnect from your ad hoc network—it's the same as stopping it. Connecting to the network is the same as starting it back up; this way you can quickly switch back and forth between connections with just a few clicks.

The last step is enabling connection sharing through your regular network card, which will allow anybody connected to your ad hoc wireless to use your internet connection. To do so, you'll want to head into the Network and Sharing Center, click the "Change adapter settings" link on the left, and then find your network connection in the list—it's very important that you only enable internet connection sharing on the adapter that is actually connected to the internet. In this case, my internet access at work goes through my Local Area Connection, so I've enabled it there.

At this point, you should be able to connect any wireless device to your new ad hoc network and access the internet, or even share files directly with your laptop.


Have you been able to successfully get your wireless device connected to your PC? Tell us about your experience in the comments.



The How-To Geek is having fun downloading apps to his iPod Touch while sitting at his desk at work. His geeky articles can be found daily here on Lifehacker, How-To Geek, and Twitter.



Android app audience more global than iPhone’s

iphone-android_The latest report from mobile applications reporting software maker Distimo finds a pattern no one has explained yet, but one that mobile app followers will want to know: iPhone apps, Distimo’s data shows, tend to be more popular in the geographic region from which they were created. The top paid apps bought the United States differ a lot from the top apps bought in the UK.

On Google’s Android market, there’s no such function. Power Manager Full and Advanced Task Manager are the most-bought app everywhere.

One more thing … Camera Genius and Camera Zoom are both among the top five most downloaded paid apps for the iPhone. I still have trouble believing Apple deliberately chose to leave a camera off the iPod Touch as some clever product differentiation strategy. I believe the other rumor, the one that says the camera failed in pre-production tests. When the next iPod Touch sprouts a camera, I’ll be re-reading old blog posts and laughing at them. Yeah, I have no life.


Vapore adds $500K to venture round for medical vaporizing device

Vapore, maker of a device that quickly and efficiently turns liquid medications into vapors for easier administration, has brought in $500,000 to add to its already $2 million first round of venture funding, reports Dow Jones VentureWire. The Alameda, Calif. company says it will now seek $2 million more in a second round of funding, slated to close in the first half of 2010. It is backed by RSH Ventures, Band of Angels, Kereitsu Forum and a handful of private investors.