Only minutes after we posted an item bemoaning the demise of Kozmo.com did an eagle-eyed reader point out the existence of a fledgling successor to the defunct convenience service.
MaxDelivery.com provides a type of one-hour delivery service similar to that of Kozmo, though at present only for New York City , where it claims to be on time 99.5 out of 100 deliveries. The geographic limitation is probably a wise move, at least in these initial stages, given the logistical problems that helped take down other dot-com services.
MaxDelivery should be well aware of those pitfalls: A company spokesman tell us that it was started by the former chief technology officer for Kozmo. "Chris Siragusa and I were both early Kozmo.com employees, and I think one of the main reasons MaxDelivery was started was the incredible feedback we got from family, friends and random people about how much they enjoyed having a Kozmo around," said Stephen Carl, MaxDelivery's marketing director.
To that, we give a resounding amen. We just wish MaxDelivery was operating on the West Coast.
Actually, we really love our fluorocarbons when they're in a captive state. They help refrigeration systems keep our caviar chilled. They're used in pesticides and to reduce friction. We all know there's way too much of that around.
The problem: fluorine and carbon atoms bond very tightly at sea level. When fluorocarbons escape, they start unhelpful things: destroying ozone in the outer atmosphere and allowing more radiation to reach us Earthlings.
Now, a federal research project has a computer-designed molecule that could pull out that fluoride ion from the fluorocarbon molecule. This theoretical molecule was designed around an actual enzyme used by a South African bacterium. In the genus Burkholderia, these bacteria naturally pull fluoride ions out of sodium fluoroacetate.
This potentially potent artificial molecule will be synthesized at the University of Texas. And then they'll turn it loose on some loose fluorocarbons. Stay tuned for round one.
Windows breaks; it's a fact. Sometimes the only fix you need is a system restart, but other times you may feel like you'll never get your PC working again. While not even a building full of Microsoft engineers can promise solutions to every Windows problem, these tips will help you begin your quest for a cure.
Windows won't update First, make sure you're logged into an administrator account. Next, open the Windows Update log, which is at C:\Windows\Windows Update.log, and look for an error message, which may include an error code you can search for in Microsoft's knowledge bases.
Scan your Windows Update log file for clues to your system's update failures.
Now visit the Windows Update Troubleshooter and browse around for an entry relating to the error. If nothing on this page solves the problem, try disabling your antivirus and anti-spyware programs, your firewall, and any Web accelerators you've installed before going to the Windows Update page. Just be sure to reactivate your security programs before you browse anywhere else.
If you're still unable to update Windows, here are three more things you can try: Check your clock to make sure your PC is set to the correct time and date. Double-click the time in the bottom-right corner of the screen to open the Date and Time Properties dialog box . Log into another administrator account and try to update. If you don't have two administrator accounts, open the User Accounts Control Panel applet, click Create a new account , and step through the wizard, choosing Computer administrator as the account type . Start Windows in Safe Mode and retry the update. To enter Safe Mode, press F8 after your PC starts but before Windows loads, and choose Safe Mode from the resulting menu. You'll find more update-troubleshooting options on DTS-L.org's Windows Update Checklist .
The Registry has gone haywire The fastest and simplest way to repair a garbled Registry is via Windows' System Restore: In XP, click Start> All Programs> Accessories> System Tools> System Restore> Restore my computer to an earlier time > Next. Choose a restore point on the calendar, and step through the wizard. In Vista, press the Windows key, type "system restore," and press Enter. Vista recommends a restore point; if you approve, click Next> Finish. Otherwise, click Choose a different restore point> Next, make your selection, and step through the wizard.
Vista's System Restore applet chooses a restore point for you, or you can opt to select another.
You always have to be careful when you make changes to the Registry, which is why you should triple-check any Registry-cleaning utilities before you use them. One that has been around for a while is TweakNow's RegCleaner Standard .
Windows doesn't know when to quit Sometimes Windows reboots when you only want it to turn off. This may be caused by the OS thinking a shutdown is actually a crash, which it is programmed to respond to by restarting. To disable this feature, right-click My Computer , choose Properties> Advanced , and click Settings under Startup and Recovery. Uncheck Automatically restart under System failure, and click OK.
Stop Windows from restarting automatically after a crash by unchecking Automatically restart in the Startup and Recovery Settings dialog box.
This doesn't address the cause of the "crashes", however. A primary reason for such failures is a hardware or software conflict, so if you've recently installed some device or program, check the vendor's Web site for updated firmware or a new driver .
If your shutdowns are just slow, Windows may be clearing your virtual memory and system-hibernation cache when it closes, which adds considerably to the shutdown process. To reset this option, click Start> Run , type gpedit.msc, and press Enter to open the Group Policy Editor. Navigate in the left pane to Computer Configuration> Windows Settings> Security Settings> Local Policies> Security Options, double-click Shutdown: Clear virtual memory pagefile, choose Disabled , and click OK.
Tomorrow: Remedies for Windows networking and hardware failures.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is working with three other companies to launch a $150 million venture capital fund that will invest in companies developing new applications and services for mobile devices.
Electronic publisher Thomson Reuters and venture capital firms JLA Ventures and RBC Venture Partners have joined RIM to establish the fund. RIM said the fund won't be restricted to investing in BlackBerry-specific applications. It will also invest in start-ups as well as relatively mature software developers.
Specifically, investments will focus on services and applications such as mobile payments, advertising, retailing, and banking. It also will support companies developing applications for social networking, navigation and mapping, media and entertainment, lifestyle and personal productivity applications, and enterprise applications.
The fund will be co-managed by Canadian firm JLA Ventures and RBC Venture Partners.
The venture fund is part of RIM's bigger strategy. For one, the company wants to move more computer users from desktops to handheld devices. Earlier this month, it announced a partnership with enterprise software firm SAP to integrate all of the company's corporate software onto BlackBerrys.
The fund will also help the second prong in RIM's overall strategy, which is to expand its user base to the mass market. The company makes the bulk of its revenue from corporate customers, but over the past 18 months it has also targeted consumers with new devices and partnerships with companies like Facebook . The new venture fund should help spur more innovation among developers.
"The mobile world has evolved well beyond phone calls and simple messaging to become an empowering and liberating platform that connects people to everything that matters most to them," Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer at RIM, said in a statement. "And the BlackBerry Partners Fund is being formed to help fuel innovation and activity in the mobile ecosystem."
Thomson Reuters is one of the world's largest electronic news publishers, providing information to lawyers, doctors, and financial professionals. Many of its customers are already BlackBerry users. The company sees mobile devices and applications as a critical piece of its own strategy.
"Thomson Reuters is committed to supporting the development of next-generation mobile applications that will provide our professional and business customers with anywhere, anytime capabilities," Devin Wenig, CEO of the Markets Division of Thomson Reuters, said in a statement. "The ability to make business-critical decisions with intelligent information available on mobile devices will give our customers a clear competitive advantage."
Orgoo is a new service for aggregating all sorts of communication platforms together, in one solution. The easiest way to describe it is a mix between a Web mail client and an IM app. You might say, "well my Gmail and Yahoo Mail already have IM built in." To that I'd say you're right, but Orgoo's take is a little bit like Meebo --take all your existing services and integrate them together in one place.
To start out, just plug in any accounts you want to access. Orgoo will handle five of the major IM clients, along with a handful of Web mail providers including Gmail, .Mac , and Yahoo and Microsoft's premium Hotmail services. You can also drop in any old e-mail account that can be accessed via POP or IMAP. The service can save your passwords and login information, so every time you log in to Orgoo, it will pull in each and every account. I found it really helpful with Gmail, since I could be logged into several accounts at once--which usually requires juggling two different kinds of browsers.
Orgoo's interface is a mishmash of the classical mail inbox. Besides your e-mail reader, which takes on an appearance much like that of Yahoo Mail, you've also got an entire buddy list that resides on the right side of the screen. Orgoo employs drag-and-drop to organize your messages and IMchat logs, and you've got a list of folders which can contain several levels of user created nesting; meaning you can store a message within a folder within a folder within a folder, to your heart's content. You can also organize your IMs into tabs on the top, or pop them out if it's easier for you to manage.
Besides e-mail, Orgoo has a few neat features such as a video mail service that lets you record quick, 30-second messages. You can insert these into any e-mail . There's also live video chat with people on your buddy list, and video chat rooms to talk with several other users at once. The instant messaging portion of the app is really easy to set up, and scales multiple conversations as well as it can for a Web IM app, although once you're talking to about seven people or more, a single tabbed window would be a more elegant solution than tabs and pop-up windows.
The main drawback at this point is Orgoo's speed. The service simply isn't as fast at pulling up your Web mail as Gmail and Yahoo. If you're a Gmail buff, you're also missing out on the conversation view, and built-in calendaring integration. Despite these early shortcomings, Orgoo is on its way to being a really solid solution for integrating multiple chat and e-mail clients into one service--something that's convenient and useful for both power, and casual users with multiple accounts.
This service is launching at the TechCrunch40 conference this morning, although only opening up to a small group of individuals for private beta testing. If you'd like to sign up, you can visit their sign-up request page.Orgoo siphons in multiple e-mail accounts from all over. You've also got built-in multi-IM support right on the side of your inbox.
In the midst of Ars Technica's review of the utility of free online music , the tech site notes something of critical importance to open source, too:As free music becomes common, though, the real battle will shift to marketing/press/PR. When a few acts are releasing free albums, it's easy for listeners to sample them; when everyone does it, artists are suddenly competing for people's time and attention, and even free downloads won't be enough to attract listeners without building some buzz.
Exactly. At one time it was enough to be the "open source Exchange" or the "open source Siebel" or whatever. No longer. There's simply too much open-source software out there to stand out as the "open-source XXXX." You have to market the "XXXX" if you want to have a hope of success.
Yes, open source remains a viable development methodology, one that can deliver exceptional software . But it's not enough. To be disruptive, open source also requires viral distribution. The hidden requirement in all of this is that someone has to care enough about the project in the first place to download it, and then talk about it and spur further distribution.
The "caring" aspect? That's marketing.
Open-source companies and community projects that don't invest in marketing will fail . This may not mean traditional marketing and, in fact, probably does not. But it must involve some element of getting the word out.
Otherwise, who will know to download and try it out?
Of course, given that almost all locales are limited to at most two broadband carriers--the telephone and cable monopolies--there are already regulations that "limit consumer choice and investment in broadband facilities." The Justice Department seems to be tailoring its antitrust agenda in such a way as to serve the interests of certain big business interests and not the needs of the American people. If any company could enter the marketplace to offer high-speed Internet access then their position would at least be possible to defend. Were that the case, then people would be free to choose among a multitude of Internet offerings, some of which would likely offer neutrality while others would provide a preferential pipe. Only then would there be some teeth in the argument that the free market would ensure Americans get the best access at the best price. In reality, it is only the massive telecoms and cable companies that are able to provide high-speed Internet, and both camps have an economic incentive to abandon net neutrality.
As illustrated in Declan McCullagh's recent post on the Iconoclast, " Ten things that finally killed net neutrality ," the Bush administration has been instrumental in suffocating the call for a neutral net, and the recent DOJ statements are simply a continuation of this opposition.
In the release, the Justice Department attempts to equate the debate over net neutrality to that of the shipping grades offered by the U.S. Postal Service, "No one challenges the benefits to society of these differentiated products," the Department stated in its filing. "Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services will develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces, not regulatory intervention." Despite the FCC's call for specific information on harmful broadband activities, the Department noted that comments filed in response to this Notice of Inquiry did not provide evidence that would suggest the existence of a widespread problem that needs to be addressed. In addition, there is no consensus on what "net neutrality" means or what should be prohibited in the name of "neutrality." This comparison is flawed and deflects the reality of the situation. While an individual may decide that it's worth spending $13.85 as opposed to $0.41 to ensure that a letter arrives overnight , he or she could also choose to send that same letter through an assortment of other delivery options. When it comes to the Internet, that competition is significantly reduced. While the additional $13+ to send something overnight is going to hurt many people's finances it is unlikely to deal a death blow. On the other hand, the costs associated to secure a reliable stream for videos and other media content will undoubtedly be at a much higher price point and will likely take many hobbyist media makers off line and out of the running for your time.
From the DOJ's perspective a neutral Internet is an affront to the economic free market, but eliminating net neutrality will simultaneously eviscerate the other free market: the marketplace of ideas. Unlike radio, television and print, the barrier to entry on the Internet is quite low. Anyone with a computer and Internet access can create a venue for their voice to be heard. With that said, should it really come as too much of a surprise that the Department of Justice under the Bush administration would express their opposition to a structure that allows opposition and minority views to be as accessible as that of the massive media corporations that dominate almost all communication venues?