Friday, May 29, 2009

Bud-A-Bing - Befriend Microsoft's New Search Platform

Bing Type Logo - Bing, A better way to search ... A Decision Engine! [D7 Video Link] Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Bud-A-Bing - Befriend Microsoft's New Search Platform

This week, Microsoft unvield its new -- beefed up and bundled with other stand-alone internet function programs -- search engine approach that they hope will command attention and grab a share of almost everyone's favorite activity on the computer, finding information!

While Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz continue to court each other in ongoing discussions about a search and advertising partnership, Microsoft has been improving their search program approach, once known as Windows Live Search and, prior to that as MSN Search, marketed under the name Microsoft Live Search.

In an executive conference dubbed WEB 3.0 (because the conference promoters think something major is happening at the intersection of tech and media, and think it deserves its own new hyped-up name: Web 3.0), the seventh edition of D: All Things Digital - D7, Microsoft unveiled its long-awaited search engine (formerly known as Kumo) - Bing.

Microsoft believes that breaking down search into easier to understand categories, they will be able to move one from a "Search Engine" to a "Decision Engine" because as they say in their promotional video - "The world doesn't need just another search engine, it needs a decision engine."

Microsoft is hoping, now that they have re-made Live Search and combined it with other strong Microsoft web interface programs, that the world will decide make Bing it's search buddy ... so Bud-A-Bing!

D7 Video: Microsoft's Ballmer and Walt Mossberg - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talks with Walt Mossberg about the company's new search engine, "Bing", and other topics at the D7 conference.

This excerpted and edited from The Channel Wire -

5 Ways Microsoft's Bing Can Be A Contender
By Chad Berndtson, The Channel Wire - May 29, 2009

Bing's the thing -- and it's finally here.

Microsoft Thursday unveiled its long-awaited search engine at the D: All Things Digital Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer touting Bing as a platform for smarter, deeper search beyond what its biggest rivals, including Google, have to offer.
In addition [to the re-branding of Live Search], a number of its platforms, such as its Virtual Earth mapping, will be rebranded as Bing functions, in that case Big Maps for Enterprise. Microsoft is going to need a lot more than a rebranding effort, however, to gain back some of Google's massive search market share -- 64.2 percent in the U.S. Vs. Microsoft's paltry 8.2 percent, according to April numbers released by ComScore.

Here are five elements of the forthcoming Bing that will give it the oomph it needs to compete:

1. Visual Presentation

Microsoft's July 2008 acquisition of Powerset, a developer of semantic search technology, gives it tools for a richer, more visually agreeable search presentation than the usual digest of blue links from Google or Yahoo.

2. Keywords Help

As search words are being typed into Bing, the Bing search function offers keywords to help users narrow their searches. If Microsoft can improve these keywords so they go beyond what Google offers with its Google Suggest, it can start to sound more realistic when it claims its a "smarter search."

3. Shop-'Til-You-Droppers and Hypochondriacs

The Bing platform breaks down into four broad categories: shopping, local, travel and health. If a user enters a search query under those categories, Bing brings back results relevant to them. For example, searching in the "shopping" category would bring back search results that include pricing and availability, and a search in the health category would find symptoms or medical research. For those who spend all their time clicking "Buy it" or freaking out about a tickle in their throat on WebMD, Microsoft might get them to where they want to go faster than Google.

4. Best Match, Instant Answers and Quick Preview

Microsoft is including a few sleek features that lend more immediacy to search, including Best Match, in which Bing collects relevant results and puts what it deems to be the most relevant search link right at the top. Similar to Google's "I Feel Lucky" search function, but if you didn't know what "I Feel Lucky" does before, you're not clicking it with the intent to use it properly. Instant Answers also takes up the "I Feel Lucky" mantle with a bit more clarity, offering single-click access to information listed in search results. Finally, Quick Preview allows a user to hover over a search result and see a text excerpt from the page of that result -- a look at the search result without actually having to click through it.

5. It's Microsoft

"Microsoft's secret sauce is its marketing savvy and its persistence," wrote Everything Channel Editor/News Steve Burke in a Wednesday blog post on ChannelWeb. "Remember, there were a few people who believed Netscape was invincible until Microsoft focused all its guns on blowing the onetime browser pioneer out of the water."
Reference Here>>

Bing will be available to the general public in less than one week, starting June 3.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pocket Mobility - A Hot Spot That Travels

Novatel's MiFi, a 3G Wi-Fi router. A personal cellular Hot Spot that one can share ... that is NOT a USB stick and does not require a change in the network software settings of ones laptop [CLICK image for video]. Image Credit: Novatel

Pocket Mobility - A Hot Spot That Travels

That's right, a hot spot that becomes you. It's the Novatel MiFi 2200 that will be available from Verizon starting in mid-May that allows the person carrying the battery-powered, rechargeable, cellular, Wi-Fi hot spot to easily share the internet access.

The "MiFi" device has its Wi-Fi access password printed on the bottom, so if one wishes share (or sell time on) the uplink, one can can invite someone to join networking simply by showing the password to them (it's printed on each card).

This all sounds pretty cool until one realizes that this device is little more than a form factor change from a standard USB plug-in portal with its associated data upload/download limitations and costs (not to mention - RANGE - it is only about 30 feet).

So, why not get a "MiFi", a sandwich-board, and a busy, independent coffee shop and go into business? Sell access in areas where overcharging is rampant, like posh hotels, and airports. All one would have to do is go to critical time crunch convention centers where access may be limited, or purposely restricted, and open up shop for .... say 10 minutes, then move on?

It's a business model for a new age in these trying economic times ... or not!

This excerpted and edited from the New York Times -

Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed
By DAVID POGUE - Published: May 6, 2009

Someday, we’ll tell our grandchildren how we had to drive around town looking for a coffee shop when we needed to get online, and they’ll laugh their heads off. Every building in America has running water, electricity and ventilation; what’s the holdup on universal wireless Internet?

Getting online isn’t impossible, but today’s options are deeply flawed. Most of them involve sitting rooted in one spot — in the coffee shop or library, for example. (Sadly, the days when cities were blanketed by free Wi-Fi signals leaking from people’s apartments are over; they all require passwords these days.)

If you want to get online while you’re on the move, in fact, you’ve had only one option: buy one of those $60-a-month cellular modems from Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or AT&T. The speed isn’t exactly cable-modem speed, but it’s close enough. You can get a card-slot version, which has a nasty little antenna protuberance, or a U.S.B.-stick version, which cries out to be snapped off by a passing flight attendant’s beverage cart.

A few laptops have this cellular modem built in, which is less awkward but still drains the battery with gusto.

But imagine if you could get online anywhere you liked — in a taxi, on the beach, in a hotel with disgustingly overpriced Wi-Fi — without messing around with cellular modems. What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go?

Incredibly, there is such a thing. It’s the Novatel MiFi 2200.
In essence, the MiFi converts that cellular Internet signal into an umbrella of Wi-Fi coverage that up to five people can share. (The speed suffers if all five are doing heavy downloads at once, but that’s a rarity.)
How is this amazing? Let us count the ways.

First, you’re spared the plug-and-unplug ritual of cellular modems. You can leave the MiFi in your pocket, purse or laptop bag; whenever you fire up your laptop, netbook, Wi-Fi camera or game gadget, or wake up your iPhone or iPod Touch, you’re online.

Last week, I was stuck on a runway for two hours. As I merrily worked away online, complete with YouTube videos and file downloads, I became aware that my seatmate was sneaking glances. As I snuck counter-glances at him, I realized that he had no interest in what I was doing, but rather in the signal-strength icon on my laptop — on an airplane where there wasn’t otherwise any Wi-Fi signal. “I’m sorry,” he finally said, completely baffled, “but how are you getting a wireless signal?” He was floored when I pulled the MiFi from my pocket, its power light glowing evilly.

If he’d had a laptop, I would have happily shared my Wi-Fi cloud with him. The network password is printed right there on the bottom of the MiFi itself.
The second huge advantage of the MiFi is that, as with any wireless router, you can share its signal with other people; up to five road warriors can enjoy the same connection. Your youngsters with their iPod Touches in the back of the van could hop online, for example, or you and your colleagues could connect and collaborate on a corporate retreat.
Some footnotes: First, the MiFi goes into sleep mode after 30 minutes of inactivity, to prolong its battery life.

Yes, it means that a single charge can get you through a full day of on-and-off Internet noodling, even though the battery is supposed to run for only four hours a charge (it’s rated at 40 hours of standby). But once the MiFi is asleep, your Wi-Fi bubble is gone until you tap the power button.
A final note: If your laptop has a traditional cellular modem, you can turn on a Mac OS X or Windows feature called Internet Sharing, which rebroadcasts the signal via Wi-Fi, just like the MiFi.

But the MiFi is infinitely easier to use and start up, doesn’t lock you into carrying around your laptop all the time, has better range and works even when your laptop battery is dead. (The MiFi recharges from a wall outlet; it still works as a hot spot while it’s plugged in.)

It’s always exciting when someone invents a new product category, and this one is a jaw-dropper. All your gadgets can be online at once, wherever you go, without having to plug anything in — no coffee shop required. Heck, it might even be worth showing the grandchildren.
Reference Here>>