Thoughts on technology, investing, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Skype coming on strong

After hearing more and more buzz surrounding Skype, I finally downloaded the software to see what it was all about. As far as VoIP providers go, I think Skype has a great business model – free calls to existing Skype users, cheap rates to everyone else on a per minute basis. Unlike other VoIP providers that allow customers to simply plug in their existing phones, to this point Skype has relied on an all-computer setup. This worked for a set of users, but couldn’t really hit mainstream usage in that form. New developments may be changing that reality. Skype recently announced a strategic alliance with Motorola. The announced partnership goals:

The initial focus of the collaboration will be on co-marketing of new optimized Motorola ‘Skype Ready’ companion products, such as Bluetooth(R) headsets, dongles, and speakerphones, as well as delivery of the Skype Internet Telephony experience on select Motorola mobile devices.

Skype is not without its challenges though. Poor performance of both Skype and SkypeOut have been reported. Although this is to be expected with any newer technology (especially as all VoIP providers have documented issues), it will be interesting to see if Skype can make the leap from an an all computer based server to one more integrated with how people are currently familiar with making voice calls.

As far as my experience with the service, Skype really looks like vocal instant messaging. When you sign up, you select a username. This username then becomes your “phone number” in the network. Much like IM, another user either needs to know your username or look it up in a directory. Unfortunately, my own trials are incomplete, as i don’t know anyone using Skype yet!

Related resources:
Skype, Xandros Bundle VoIP, Linux
Skype to provide WiFi VoIP service to Motorola mobile devices

Coffee may help prevent liver cancer

As a bona fide coffee addict, I take great joy in seeing articles positive on the effects of drinking coffee. Iâ??m obviously trying to justify my habit and Iâ??m completely aware of it. There are much worse things to be addicted to. With that said, I saw an article today on how coffee may prevent liver cancer.

A study of more than 90,000 Japanese found that people who drank coffee daily or nearly every day had half the liver cancer risk of those who never drank coffee. The protective effect occurred in people who drank one to two cups a day and increased at three to four cups.

RPI rankings and calculations

After a few big wins by my alma mater, I was curious to see if our pathetic RPI ranking had moved up a bit. For those uninitiated in this arcane metric for college basketball, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) is the formula used by the NCAA to rate both men’s and women’s college basketball teams. The RPI is then used by the for picking teams for the tournament and establishing the brackets.

The Rating Percentage Index (RPI) was created in 1981 to provide supplemental data for the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee in its evaluation of teams for at-large selection and seeding of the championship bracket.

The RPI is intended to be used as one of many resources used by the committee in the selection, seeding and bracketing process. It never should be considered anything but an additional evaluation tool. No computer program that is based on pure numbers can take into account subjective concepts, e.g., how well a team is playing down the stretch, what the loss or return of a top player means to a team, or how emotional a specific conference game may be.

Ken Pomeroy has a re-creation of the Ratings Percentage Index for the 2005 NCAA men’s college basketball season. Pomeroy discusses the formula calculation here and here.

As interesting as all this is, the bottom line to me is where Virginia Tech falls. As of 2/19, the Hokies have an RPI of 101. Still bad, but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

Study finds Windows more secure than Linux

Can it be true? Is a Windows server more secure than Linux? Common technical opinion tells us this cannot be. So, when I read this article from (and ), I was astounded.

Two Florida researchers presented their findings to an RSA Conference of computer-security professionals. Apparently, one was a Microsoft enthusiast, the other Linux. My first thought was that this was another Microsoft sponsored study, so that is obviously not the case. Comparing Windows Server 2003 and Red Hat Enterprise Server 3, their research computed a metric called days of risk described as “the period from when a vulnerability is first reported to when a patch is issued.” The researchers found that on average the Windows server configuration had just over 30 days of risk versus 71 days for the Red Hat configuration.

This is obviously going to be very controversial. Hopefully, though, more objective studies like this one will be performed to spark constructive debate on the topic.

Additional resources:
Linux fan concedes Microsoft is more secure
Study finds Windows more secure than Linux (Mikehall’s Embedded WebLog)
Windows More Secure Than Linux? (Say Anything)

Blogsnob from Pheedo removed

Some of my readers (and I suspect very few) may have noticed the two small ads at the bottom of the left navigation on this site. They’re gone now and there’s a big reason for it – the slow speed the pages were loading. from is a great idea. As an ad network for blogs, you promote your blog through the network for free by simply displayed other free blog ads. You receive credits for every ad your site displays and then those credits are used to display your ads. Now I didn’t expect to see tremendous traffic from this, so the low click through rate wasn’t my biggest concern. What prompted me to remove them was the fact that the ads were holding up my page load time. The Blogsnob ads were slowing my page loading to a crawl. My unscientific tests had them delaying a full page load by over 10 seconds after half of the other content loaded. This is wholly unacceptable and since I was getting very little traffic from them, it’s goodbye Blogsnob.

Digital music players market penetration report

A recent from shows that 11% of U.S. adults (or approx 22 million people) have or MP3 players. The study didnâ??t take into account teens or younger as the survey was only taken from those 18 years or older. Some of the other interesting stats from the survey:

– iPods/MP3 players are gadgets for the upscale. Fully a quarter (24%) of those who live in households earning more than $75,000 have them; 10% of those living in households earning $30,000 to $75,000 have them and 6% of those living in households earning less than $30,000 have them.

– Those who use the internet are four times as likely as non-internet users to have iPods/MP3 players, probably because internet users can get much of the music they enjoy online. Fully 15% of internet users have iPods/MP3 players, compared to 4% of non-internet users. And the more advanced the internet user, the more likely it is that he has an iPod/MP3 player. Those with six years or more of internet experience are twice as likely to have them as those who are relative internet newbies (those with less than three years experience).

– Broadband access is strongly associated with ownership of iPods/MP3 players. Some 23% of those with broadband at home have iPods/MP3 players, compared to 9% of those who have dialup connections. And those who have broadband access at home and at work, are the most likely of all to have iPods/MP3 players. Almost a third (31%) of those with broadband all around them have iPods/MP3 players.

Additional details can be found here. The study illustrates an impressive market penetration for these devices, but Iâ??d be interested in seeing some trends. Is the market growing? Has it stabilized? Iâ??m especially interested in seeing how digital music player usage correlates with the gains in the satellite radio market. Are these complementary markets or are the mutually exclusive? I own both, but as weâ??re starting to see convergence, it will be interested to see how it all plays out.

Using Blogs for Project Management

Cutting Through has an article (via on using blogs for project management. By improving communication and putting a human face on projects, the project owners are better able to keep all stakeholders in the loop thus minimizing issues as the project progresses. Using blogs for specific, more targeted business uses will likely fuel the growth of blogs in the enterprise. Super Bowl commercial pulled

On the way home, I listen to on . Dylan Ratigan, host of the Bullseye segment, had an interview with the CEO of , . Apparently, the NFL contacted Fox after their commercial aired in the first quarter and requested Fox pull the commercial. Fox complied and the spot was not aired a second time.

When asked on CNBC why he thought the ad was pulled, Parsons stated that it was the NFL censoring GoDaddy’s parody of censorship stemming from last year’s Super Bowl half time show controversy. Watching the commercial, I have to agree with Parsons as this is the only rationale that makes any sense. Fox reviewed the commercial two weeks in advance. In addition, the ad itself was rather tame when compared with standard beer commercials and the coverage of NFL cheerleaders on the sidelines. Honestly, I think the NFL is going overboard here and the league appears hypocritical.

Additional info:
Was the banned Go Daddy Super Bowl ad indecent?