Vidyo: Videoconferencing’s Best Hope?

A New Jersey startup gets pricey and basic systems communicating—and could be videoconferencing’s ticket to the mainstream

By Peter Burrows

At most companies, videoconferencing has yet to evolve from a technological parlor trick into an everyday utility like e-mail. One reason is there’s no cheap and easy way to make it available on all the devices people use. Even companies that opt for top-of-the-line equipment from Cisco Systems (CSCO) or Hewlett-Packard (HPQ)often pay nearly $1 million to upgrade the underlying corporate network, says IDC analyst Jonathan Edwards.

That’s why tech industry veterans are keeping a close eye on Vidyo, whose technology will soon be sold by HP. The 120-person startup, based in Hackensack, N.J., makes software it says can run on almost any device that connects to the Net—and adjusts whether that’s a high-speed link in the boardroom or a cell connection from the 18th hole. While most companies buy a few high-end videoconferencing systems for executives, “We want to connect millions of people,” says Vidyo Chief Executive Ofer Shapiro.

The aim is to bridge the gap between traditional systems costing up to $300,000 for a just-like-being-there telepresence room and cheap but low-quality PC-based services such as Skype—and in a way that lets people using all of these options participate in calls together. Seguir leyendo “Vidyo: Videoconferencing’s Best Hope?”

Companies in Brief

Barnes & Noble: After Booking Losses, a Bookseller on Sale

Yielding to pressure from investors as a shift to digital books hits the bottom line, the biggest U.S. bookstore chain has put itself on the block. In May billionaire Ron Burkle, who owns 19 percent of Barnes & Noble (BKS), launched a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the bookseller’s “poison pill” defense against takeovers to boost the value of his holding; the sale could give him what he wants. Chairman Leonard Riggio, B&N’s biggest shareholder, says he may join with a group that will bid for the company. In June the chain forecast a possible loss of 40 cents a share for the current fiscal year due to a $140 million investment in its digital book unit.

—By David Rocks, Edited by James E. Ellis Seguir leyendo “Companies in Brief”

Explore the Titanic Wreck Site via Social Media [EXCLUSIVE]

Jennifer Van Grove

A team of archaeologists, scientists and oceanographers will soon be revisiting the wreck of the Titanic for further scientific discovery and documentation. The entire process will be shared in near real-time with the world via social media.

The mission, Expedition Titanic, is meant to not only preserve the iconic ship — disintegrating two and half miles beneath the sea — but also to expose the wreck site to the public for the first time.

It’s a scientific undertaking like no other, but one with a very modern twist that relies heavily on social media to share the mission with the world.

The video below briefly introduces the mission behind the expedition.

The Mission: Virtually Raise the Titanic

The digital journey is the result of a partnership between RMS Titanic, Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Waitt Institute. The expert dive doesn’t officially kick off until August 22, but the site is live and should help build anticipation for the upcoming deep sea trek.

The Expedition Titanic launched late last night, and those curious about the research initiative can already use the interactive flash-based site to virtually dive down to the ocean floor and explore the ship’s remains for themselves.

At its core, Expedition Titanic is designed to give those at home a lens through which to see what the experts are seeing. After taking the 3D-animated journey down to the wreck site, visitors can explore the wreck site map, check out video and images that will be shared from the dive in near real time, and control a close-up 360 degree view of the equipment used for mapping the Titanic’s final resting place. There’s also informational tidbits scattered throughout the site, messages from team members and eventually a 3D model of the ship.

Chris Greco, vice president of digital at Premier Exhibitions, explains that Expedition Titanic aims to “capture the entire wreck site,” something that has never been done before. “We hope to create a site survey and archaeological map, which will help us create an archeological plan, and that would let us treat the Titanic the way you would the Pyramids or any of the wonders of the world,” he says. Seguir leyendo “Explore the Titanic Wreck Site via Social Media [EXCLUSIVE]”

The Case of the Stolen Laptop: How to Encrypt, and Why

By Barton Gellman

The Case of the Stolen Laptop: How to Encrypt, and Why

There’s an investigator I know, top of her profession, who once put her laptop in the trunk of a cab. By the time she reached her hotel, the laptop was gone. This happens thousands of times a year at airports, train stations, libraries and coffee shops. Sometimes the thief wants your hardware. Sometimes your data turns out to be more valuable, or its loss more damaging. (It’s pathetically easy to find examples.) And sometimes the victim is not a matter of chance.

In this case our investigator was onto something hot. She was closing in on a high-profile scandal that disturbed the interests of powerful and resourceful people. Maybe her bag was jacked by a petty thief, but Occam’s Razor pointed another way. She had to assume her targets now knew anything they could glean from her computer. I found her to be oddly undisturbed by this. She said she had followed the first rule of prudence, which is not to write anything down — especially in digital form — that you really, really need to keep secret. But I thought she was nuts to believe she lost nothing sensitive. It is astonishing what current forensic tools can learn from your computer. Seguir leyendo “The Case of the Stolen Laptop: How to Encrypt, and Why”

Innovation Dilemma: Open Up or Shut Up?

Science icon from Nuvola icon theme for KDE 3.x.
Image via Wikipedia

In a recent post, Where Big Companies Fail on Innovation, I argue that big companies fail to communicate well on their corporate innovation capabilities.

I believe this is a problem as most industries have begun adopting open innovation practices in which a key goal is to become the preferred partner of choice. This requires a significant higher visibility for corporate innovation departments.

Michael Fruhling and Kevin McFarthing contributed with comments in which they argue that companies can still do well with innovation – even open innovation – without communicating much about their efforts. Seguir leyendo “Innovation Dilemma: Open Up or Shut Up?”


Renault spreads a bit of French joy to the North of England

In a mission to bring joie de vivre to the town of Gisburn, Lancashire, in the North of England. Renault has teamed up with a French man called Claude, Publicis, Publicis Modem and Jam, London.

According to the story Gisburn has no Méganes, and therefore not so much joie de vivre.Our French friend Claude wants to find out if a car can change a village, and makes the trip from his stylish hometown of Menton on the Côte d’Azur to explain to the Gisburn locals that towns with more Mégane’s have higher fertility rates, and more of this ‘joie de vivre’ stuff. After meeting and greeting the people of the village, disrupting cattle markets and pubs along the way, Claude hosts the Festival de Joie on local playing fields, which despite very English weather still attracted around 300 bemused faces.

A Brief History of 9 Popular Blogging Platforms

Even though Microsoft’s spell check insists that “blog” and “blogger” are not real words, they’ve been been in the dictionary since 2003. Blogs and their platforms have a lengthy history.

The beginnings of blogging was a time not unlike today: Plaid was in style, a beloved rock star had passed, and the Internet (Internet) was just gaining momentum on college campuses. In 1994, then Swarthmore College student Justin Hall started an online diary called Justin’s Links from the Underground. The site, which first started as a guide to the web, soon became an account of Hall’s life, and earned him the surely coveted title of pioneer blogger. Three years later, Jorn Barger would coin the term “weblog,” and it’s short form, “blog,” was later coined by Peter Merholz.

Today, the web is comprised of millions of blogs covering every topic imaginable. Here is short history of some of the medium’s most popular platforms. Seguir leyendo “A Brief History of 9 Popular Blogging Platforms”

11 free open-source apps your small business can use now

Whatever your platform, you can find free and open-source software to help your business
By Katherine Noyes
August 6, 2010 06:00 AM ET

PC World – Despite the wealth of free applications out there, many small business owners continue to spend an inordinate amount of their all-too-scarce resources on software. Microsoft Office 2010? That’ll be $499.99 — or $279.99 if you can do without the Professional version. QuickBooks 2010? $159.95 or more. Adobe PhotoShop CS5? A whopping $699.

The good news is that there are free and open-source alternatives for virtually every package a small business might need, and most of them are excellent. Whether or not you’ve already made the switch to Linux — there are, after all, myriad security and other reasons for doing so — these free apps can be just what any small business needs to succeed. Seguir leyendo “11 free open-source apps your small business can use now”

YouGov Names Top Food/Beverage Brands

With summer in full swing, the buzz scores of beverage brands are also hot, driven by consumer need to quench their thirst. Overall in 2010, however, Ritz remains the most popular snack brand, and Subway steals the spotlight as the quick service restaurant that offers the most value to consumers, according to market research firm YouGov.

The Brandweek BrandIndex Report by YouGov is a weekly consumer perception report that analyzes the most talked about brands based on buzz: The scores are based on weighing positive and negative perceptions of a brand. A +100 score is positive, a -100 score is negative, and a rating of zero means that the score is neutral. This week’s report also measures brands based on value.

YouGov interviews 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. Respondents are drawn from an online panel of 1.5 million individuals.

Hot Weather Equals Hot Brands
Record July heat played right into the hands of savvy marketers. For the second month in a row, beverage brands dominated the rankings of the most improved buzz scores.

In July, four of the top 10 brands made up this sector: Country Time Lemonade, V8 juices, Crystal Light (a repeat winner), and Bacardi.

On the dining front, both Quiznos—which launched a new campaign featuring singing cats—and Long John Silver landed on the chart as well.

Cómo despedir con clase y consideración

Despedir un empleado no tiene por qué ser la peor experiencia del año, dice Susan M. Heathfield, experta en temas de manejo de personal. Se puede usar la ocasión para examinar lo que salió mal en la relación de empleo. Pero antes es preciso haber hecho algunas cosas.

Suponiendo que la terminación se produzca por incompatibilidad de caracteres, usted puede ayudar al empleado a reconstruir su autoestima a pesar del despido. Puede alentarlo a mirar hacia adelante y a iniciar la búsqueda de un nuevo empleo. Aun si el despido fuera porque no cumplió bien con sus obligaciones, usted debe terminar la relación con una nota positiva.
Despedir a un empleado que no logra un determinado nivel de producción es algo bastante común De manera que se trata de despedir a alguien que, aun con intensa capacitación, demuestra ser incapaz de desempeñarse a la altura de las expectativas.
Seguir leyendo “Cómo despedir con clase y consideración”

How’s Your Website’s Landing Page?

August 6, 2010

Question: Is your value proposition reflected in your landing page? Can people tell right away:

  • What you are offering?
  • Who you wish to appeal to?
  • Why they would be interested in your offer?
  • What they need to do to participate/purchase?

If you own a website, a particular challenge that you’ll face is how you can be found amidst a throng of like-minded individuals who are also grappling for a potential customer’s attention in this free-for-all space. What will make you stand out from the rest? What will set you apart?

As trivial as it may seem, first impressions really do last, so look your best the first time. And this is where landing pages, the first thing that they will see, will play a crucial role in your business. Seguir leyendo “How’s Your Website’s Landing Page?”

“Qué hacer cuando usted se convierte en jefe”

Tal el título del último libro del experto en liderazgo Bob Selden, donde explica que los directivos deben aprender a delegar poder de decisión.

Selden dice en “What to do when you become the boss”, que quienes acceden a cargos de liderazgo deben saber otorgar poder a quienes trabajan a su alrededor. El autor explica que, como elemento de liderazgo, el poder puede ser muy positivo si se deposita en manos de los empleados para que èstos se sientan en libertad de tomar sus propias decisiones sin temor a ser reconvenidos.

El poder es un elemento común de discusión en distintos ámbitos de la vida del ser humano, incluido el organizacional; el poder, cuando está demasiado concentrado o cuando es mal utilizado puede convertirse en un gran problema, obstaculizando el éxito de un equipo talentoso así este cuente con varias de las herramientas necesarias para obtener un desempeño positivo.

Pero existen facetas y enfoques que pueden hacer de él un elemento fundamental y decisivo cuando se trata de liderazgo; no el poder que concentra un líder, sino cómo éste puede hacer que quienes lo rodean vean beneficiados sus resultados gracias al poder que se les otorga.

El poder positivo

El poder se usar para fines positivos o negativos según sean las intenciones y la utilización que de él se haga. Bob Selden menciona dos tipos de poder positivo que pueden presentarse cuando se lo concibe como elemento de liderazgo:

1. El poder que sienten las personas cuando se encuentran en una situación en la que pueden tomar sus propias decisiones con respecto a su trabajo y a la forma en que deben llevarlo a cabo, sin estar dependiendo permanentemente de un directivo que tenga que dirigir todas sus acciones.

2. El poder que siente un equipo cuando logra algo que parecía imposible y que supera las expectativas de los demás, lo que se da, frecuentemente, cuando ese equipo cuenta con un líder carismático. El ejemplo que usa para demostrar esto es la forma en que Hitler logró convencer a tantos generales que eran tan poderosos que lograrían cualquier cosa. Seguir leyendo ““Qué hacer cuando usted se convierte en jefe””

A GearBox That Moves The Ball With Your Phone

Atoms and bits are coming together in interesting ways. A slew of geo apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt let you leave digital markings in the real world whenever you check into a location. Stickybits lets you put barcodes on physical objects which invokes a message, photo, or video which can be passed around with the object. And now we are beginning to see startups figuring out ways to control real-world objects with people’s phones and computers.

Of course there is AnyBot, the $15,000 remote-controlled robot. But even that is too complicated and expensive for the masses. Yesterday, one of the 11 TechStars companies that launched called GearBox showed an early version of an iPhone app that can control a robotic ball (see video below). GearBox wants to wants to help developers build games which involve players controlling a real robotic ball with their phones.

In a post for us, Don Dodge wrote:

GearBox is a smart toy company that has created a robotic ball which is controlled via a smartphone. Applications can be built on the smartphone via a simple API which requires minimal coding. Early applications include “Sumo,” where two people attempt to knock each other off of a table, “Golf,” where you swipe the phone to shoot the ball at the hole, and “Kittens,” in which users can earn points by playing with their cat and causing certain interactions. Seguir leyendo “A GearBox That Moves The Ball With Your Phone” Manages Ad Campaigns Across Different Social Networks

It’s no secret that advertisers are flocking to social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to connect with users. In fact, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently told Bloomberg BusinessWeek that the social network’s advertisers have increased spending by “at least 10-fold” over the past year as Facebook crossed the 500 million member mark.

But advertisers are moving beyond Facebook. is entering the field to allow marketers deploy ads simultaneously on multiple social networks ad platforms. The startup, which was incubated by DreamIt Ventures, is in private beta. We have invites for TechCrunch readers; enter the code ‘techcrunch’ here.

While there are a number of startups that offer self-serve ad platforms for search, is hoping to gain marketshare for social advertising platforms as opposed to search engines. allows businesses and marketers to deploy ads simultaneously on a number of social networks and platforms including Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Twitter ad platforms and 140proof. Seguir leyendo “ Manages Ad Campaigns Across Different Social Networks”