Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Google fall out of 20 Most Trusted Companies list, Facebook creeps in.

In 2007, Google featured in the top 10. In 2008, it doesn't make the top 20. As seen on Andy Beal who includes a top 10 comparison with 2007. Truste reckons that influential factors this year were:
  • Importance of privacy continues to rise.
  • Consumers feel they are losing control of personal information.
  • Identity theft is top of mind.
This is a US survey, not global.

2008 Ranking
1 American Express (remained number one)
2 eBay (+6)
3 IBM (no change)
4 Amazon (+1)
5 Johnson & Johnson (+1)
6 Hewlett Packard (+10)
6 U.S. Postal Service (+1)
7 Procter & Gamble (+2)
8 Apple (new to the top 20)
9 Nationwide (remained the same)
10 Charles Schwab (-8)
11 USAA (+4)
12 Intuit (+7)
13 WebMD (-1)
14 Yahoo! (new to the top 20)
15 Facebook (new to the top 20)
16 Disney (-1)
16 AOL (-12)
17 Verizon (new to the top 20)
18 FedEx (new to the top 20)
19 US Bank (-2)
20 Dell (-7)
20 eLoan (-9)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Warning: UK fraudsters target online car sales

I am selling my car and posted on Autotrader last weekend. So far I received no less than 4 scam emails from crooks trying to part me from my cash. Fortunately, I did my research and came across this excellent explanation from Jim at Autoshippers UK. I am trying to summarise it here but please read his comprehensive post.

The typical scam involves a "buyer" purporting to be a garage wanting to pay the price and pay you extra for you to pay his shipping agent directly. Say you sell your car for £5K and shipping costs £500. You accept his offer, receive a cheque for the car plus extra for the shipping (£5.5K). Your bank informs you that the cheque has been paid to your account. You pay the shipping agent as instructed for £500, usually through Moneygram. A few days later, your bank informs you that the cheque has bounced and withdraws the amount from your account. Leaving you with having paid "shipping fees" of £500 to some unknown untraceable "shipping agent".

You have been warned.

Zinio: Search and read over 50,000 international magazines... for free.

Goodbye press-clipping fees! See Zinio Inside. The coverage in Europe seems limited but worth adding to your "PR on the cheap" toolbox.

As read on Micropersuasion.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

World Philosophy Day: Something to think about.

Philosophy was one of my favourite subjects in school. Today it is world philosophy day (so I just learned) and the BBC has a thought-provoking article with 4 questions guaranteed to make you think... twice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

iPhone Google application baffled by British accents

"The free application, which allows iPhone owners to use the Google search engine with their voice, mistook the word "iPhone" variously for "sex," "Einstein" and "kitchen sink". AFP.
I can't imagine what my French accent would have produced...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The economics of Spam: 0.00000008% response rate = $3.5M turnover

Academics at Berkeley used the "Storm botnet" network to blast 350 million emails for "male enhancement products" at a cost of about $80 per million emails sent. 28 sales resulted with an average purchase price of $100. They estimated that such campaigns when fully utilising the network could mean gross revenues of $7,000 to $9,500 a day, or $3.5 million a year for the spammers.

First read in The Register.

Full study here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How to monetize bloggers' ego?

1. Create an award for "Best Blog". Include as many categories as possible so everyone stand a chance.
2. Mass-email bloggers to enter the award.
3. Charge $275 per blog for entry ($195 if you enter before November 14, $250 before December 15).
4. Mass-email bloggers to vote for their favourite blogs in the proposed categories (less work for you).
5. Laugh all the way to the bank. Repeat next year.

Chapeau!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The World has voted: Change we can finally believe in

Across the World, Obama won 9,115 electoral colleges vote against 203 for McCain. The only countries where McCain overtook Obama were Iraq, Algeria and Congo. See full results on the Economist website (Courtesy of El Blogador). In the U.S., the race was narrower with 52% of votes to Obama v. 47% for McCain (CNN).

Friday, October 31, 2008

Email error ends up on road sign

The Welsh sign reads "I am not in the office at the moment. Please send any work to be translated." From the BBC. Instant classic.

Amazon's one-click patent invalidated?

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. ruled that business methods are not patentable unless they meet fairly narrow rules.

Via TechCrunch.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ground breaking Youtube ad for Nintendo Wii Wario Land game

See for yourself. (wait 10 seconds in the video...).

Seller threatens lawsuit after negative eBay feedback

While it is important that businesses have means to protect their reputation (especially on the ground of defamation), a victory for the scorned seller will be bad news for buyers AND sellers. Buyers will have less incentive to post feedback due to the threat of lawsuits. They will also have less trust in reviews and ratings since they know it is forcibly positively biased. As a result, the reputation system that benefit sellers will lose its credibility. Everyone loses. From the Register.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The end of Web 2.0?

Less money for start-ups, business models solely based on advertising under strains and heavy posturing from VCs to freak out entrepreneurs and extract more equity for less cash. Well summarised in Rob Hof's post "Is That the Sound of the Silicon Valley Web 2.0 Bubble Bursting?" and John C Abell's Wired article "The End of Web 2.0?"


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Google puts 2001 search index back online to celebrate 10 years anniversary.

Clever and fun. A search for "iPod" brings back "Image Proof of Deposit Document Processing System" and Facebook brings back "ESPP FACEBOOK. A searchable database of all students and faculty in ESPP". Try the 2001 index here. Via the Google Blog.

Beyond PR in Advertising Age top 100 European marketing blogs

Number 66. This explains why I receive so many lame pitches from small PR outfits in Iowa.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

First skyscraper to be built in Paris for 30 years unveiled.

A 180 metres tall pyramid. Striking design. As the Onion would have put it: It will host the entire population of France and will be made of ivory :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Great Wine Swindle

Forget Facebook's redesign, here is an issue you should be really concerned about: According to Malcolm Gluck, wine producers use "a host of additives" to disguise the flavour or inferior grapes without listing them on the labels. The list includes sugar, hydrochloric acid, yeasts and ascorbic acid (sometimes they use harmful substances to raise alcohol content and traces of fertilisers have been found in some champagnes). I am not surprised here but what bothers me is that the Wine and Spirits Trade Association is exempt from labelling rules. Their spokesperson says that "it is possible for drinkers to find out what is in their wine by talking to the maker or importer". So the next time you are in Waitrose, make sure you brush up on your French or Italian to call the maker or importer of every bottle you are considering buying, should you find their phone number. Operators are on standby to confess that they top up their wine with ethanol... This is laughable in a pathetic way.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

CARNAGE AS FACEBOOK MOVES EVERYTHING SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT

The Daily Mash on the user-generated uproar following Facebook's slight redesign. For those who subscribed to the "bring the old Facebook" back groups, and those supporting the new design: Get a Life!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brands fight bloggers with 'fact' websites

Interesting article about companies setting-up dedicated websites to provide their point-of-view on rumours or perceptions relayed by bloggers.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wikipedia founder launches Green Wikipedia

Wikia Green aims to build the best resource for citizens of the Earth to learn about the environment and how to live a more sustainable life. Commendable.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Eat less meat to fight climate change

UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport (18% v. 13%). BBC.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Singapore Animated: First public screening of Singaporean animated short films at the ICA, London


If you like animation and short films, don't miss Singapore Animated at the Institute of Contemporary Art on the 25th of October.

Organised by the Singapore Creative Network UK, the event is the first public screening of some of the best animations from Singapore c
urated by Gavin Lim, an award-winning director in the Singapore International Film Festival.

Mysteries of the Universe to be solved next Wednesday

The Times' science editor reports on the Large Hadron Collider that will help us understand how the Universe works while creating a blackhole that will devour Earth.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Google v. Microsoft, the browser war

Microsoft's IE8 includes a feature to hide your tracks, making it harder for Google to collect data and to serve you targeted ads based on this data. Google's response? A new Google browser to compete with IE.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

UK to become the biggest country in the EU in 50 years' time,

By 2060, the population of major Europen countries will be:
  • UK 77 million
  • France 72
  • Germany 71
  • Italy 59
  • Spain 52
Article from the Guardian.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Qik.com: Stream video live from your phone

The power of a live broadcast studio in your hand. Love the concept. What is not answered in their FAQs is: How much does this really cost?

Update: Sandrine pointed to me that the service isfree. Data charges depend on your plan with your phone provider.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beware of a new Facebook scam!

Today you may receive a message on your wall saying "Hey. Somebody wrote something about you in their blog.. everybody needs to see this.. Go here" followed by a blogspot URL. This will redirect you to a fake Facebook page where you will be prompted to enter your Facebook login details. DON'T FALL FOR IT! It is a scam designed by people keen to get hold of your personal data. I almost went for it but noticed the unusual URL at the top of the "fake Facebook page". Consider it a civic duty to spread the word.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Apple removes I Am Rich, a $1,000 featureless iPhone application

"Eight people bought the software, which has no function except to alert other people that you have money"... so why did Apple blocked it? Story on the LA Times.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Google offers free music in China

The service will let users search songs by singer or song title then download them from partner website Top100.cn, a Chinese music site. From CNet.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Google Lively, a Second Life killer? Yes but a slow death.

Google launched Lively, a browser based Second Life style real-time 3d world. It looks good, clean and fun but if you thought Second Life was slow... wait till you try Lively. Will it kill Second Life? Most Second Life users don't speculate on virtual lands and use the platform to meet and chat. They are the ones most likely to be seduced by Google Lively. Especially if they are from South Korea, the country of mega-fast broadband. For everyone else, they will prefer not to use Second Life than not to use Google Lively until they get a 50MB broadband connection. Via Tech Crunch.


Nasa: There is water on Mars

From the Guardian.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Technorati state of the Blogosphere

The new results are not in but the survey leading to them is available here: http://v2.decipherinc.com/survey/mmc/mmc08001

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Google Knol, a Wikipedia rival?

The main difference between the two is that Google Knol puts the spotlight on authors and their opinions while Wikipedia strives to be factual. To that extent it is more a Squidoo or an about.com rival. It is very early day but the obvious pitfal for such venture is to prevent articles from turning into disguised sales pitches. Another concern is that Google will favour Google Knol articles over Wikipedia in its search queries.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Beyond PR #24 on top 50 PR blogs in the world

There is a bit of a ranking mania at the moment. This one was compiled by Matthew Watson from the excellent Rainier PR. All I can say is a big thank you for including Beyond PR.

Shapeways lets you create real 3D objects

Upload your 3D design on Netherlands based Shapeways' website (incubated by Philips). They will provide you with a quote for 3D printing with a choice of four kinds of plastics (metal is planned) and shipping it wherever you like. The site uses 3D industry standard file formats (STL, Collada, X3D) and the average cost of objects is $50 - $150. As seen on TechCrunch.

I am very excited about the possibilities for artists and designers, from anime figurines to limited edition jewelleries.

See how it works here:

Monday, July 21, 2008

StudiVZ sued by Facebook?

German's premier social network is apparently being sued by Facebook for "intellectual property infringement". Seen on TechCrunch.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Do problems with Wikipedia presage social networking’s end?

A provocative title but an otherwise thought provoking article about the fallacy of "democratic content" through user generated media. From Paul Murphy, ZDNet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is there a point to business training? Britain's most mickey mouse training courses

A funny article from

Monday, July 07, 2008

Google v. Your Privacy

Google is taking a lot of flack on user privacy. The company has been forced to handover Youtube's log data to Viacom and is now being questionned about its streetview pictures in Europe. See ZDNet Garett Rogers and dot.life for summaries/references.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Biofuels to blame for 75 per cent increase in price of food

The rise is far greater than previous estimates including a US Government claim that plant-derived fuels contribute less than three per cent to food price hikes. Telegraph.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Man sues old schoolfriend for libel after he made 'fake' entries on Facebook

A company boss whose personal details were displayed on Facebook under a fake entry yesterday launched a landmark High Court claim for damages. See This is London.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Icann's new naming system is a brand owner's nightmare

According to John Mackenzie, a partner with Pinsent Masons: "This has the potential for utter chaos (...) The attraction for domainers and cybersquatters is not going to be setting up a registry that matches someone else's brand, it will be in the generic TLDs. All of a sudden, every brand will be forced to register their name at .shop, .buy and .london to stop anyone else getting it."
Article on Outlaw.com
Given how companies are already struggling to cope with existing limited domain names, not to mention the confusion over the .eu domain name, this will fun to watch.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why are gas prices rising?

The Daily Mash has the answer with its article: "The bosses of Britain’s six biggest energy companies said the only control they had over the price of gas was deciding how much they were going to charge people for using it." Always funny, always spot on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Google launching research and media planning tool for professional ad planners

"Simply enter demographics and sites associated with your target audience, and the tool will return information about sites (both on and off the Google content network) that your audience is likely to visit. You can drill down further to get more detail like demographics and related searches for a particular site, or you can get aggregate statistics for the sites you've added to your media plan. (...) Using Google Ad Planner, you can quickly create media plans and export to a .csv file, which can be opened in most spreadsheet applications. Or, you can export to DoubleClick's MediaVisor, which helps you manage all your other media planning, buying and campaign management activities."

Apply for Google Ad Planner beta login here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Photoshop Disasters, the Blog

Lazy Photoshop work coming out of the woodwork, thanks to the Photoshop Disaster blog. Look at the Daily Mail... This has to be a prize winner.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

What makes a viral ad?

Great article and examples from the CEO of JWT India . His tips:
  • Controversy is the mother of advertising.
  • Get viewers to wonder whether it is real or not
  • Ignite communities
  • Thrown down the gaunglet
  • Make it hilarious if it has to be fun
  • Titillate...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Cannabis blunder at Tokyo airport

Amazing.... "A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security. Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in. Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials". Lucky they don't have the death penalty for drug traffickers in Japan.

From the BBC.

University of Southern California releases generally accepted PR practices study

This is an academic study conducted by Jerry Swerling, Professor and Director of PR at the USC. I am blogging about it as although this is a US study, the findings apply to European markets:

  • In 2007, PR budgets increased on average by 7%
  • Organizations remain reluctant or unable to allocate adequate resources to PR evaluation, preferring to focus on execution (so true...)
  • Increasingly the PR function reported directly to the C-Suite at 64% reporting to human resources, legal, finance and strategic planning.
  • PR was ranked as the top contributor to success among respondents at government agencies and among all but the very largest not-for-profits, suggesting that one of the benefits of working in the government or not-for-profit arena is the extent
    to which PR is seen as an important player.
The recommendation for best practices in PR are as follow:

  • GAP Best Practice #1: Maintain a higher than average ratio of PR budget to gross revenue (GAP PR/GR Ratio).
  • GAP Best Practice #2: Report directly and exclusively to the C-Suite.
  • GAP Best Practice #3: Optimize the C-Suite’s understanding of PR’s current and potential contributions to the success of the organization as a
  • whole.
  • GAP Best Practice #4: Establish an effective social responsibility strategy for your organization.
  • GAP Best Practice #5: Establish an effective digital-media strategy for your organization.
  • GAP Best Practice #6: Establish an effective issues-management strategy for your organization.
  • GAP Best Practice #7: Optimize integration and coordination within the PR/Communications function, and between it and other organizational functions.
  • GAP Best Practice #8: Encourage highly ethical practices across the organization, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #9: Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a long-term strategic point of view, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #10: Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a proactive mindset, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #11: Encourage the organization-wide adoption of a flexible mindset, beginning with communication.
  • GAP Best Practice #12: Optimize the integration of PR and reputational considerations into top-level organizational strategies.
  • GAP Best Practice #13: Measurably contribute to organizational success.
My suggestions for the next GAP are questions on how PR agencies or clients use/integrate the web in their programs.

Check out the full study at USC.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

BrandTags: See what people think of brands

This is brilliant! Look at a brand logo and enter the first word that comes to mind. You can see the collective brand association about each brand. If you could enter your demographics, this would be a nice market research tool. Trends data would be useful too so you could see how perception shifts and you could tie that back to campaign activities.

Check it out: BrandTags.

Do you know who I am! Ladbrokes CEO bullies British Airways.

Bookmakers Ladbrokes has instructed staff not to fly with British Airways following an incident involving its chief executive's daughter who was on her way back from Barbados (the flight was overbooked and they offered a standard compensation for her and her friend to take the next flight). I am with BA on that one. The Daily Mash sums up my feeling in a hilarious article: "A JUMPED-UP bookie has threatened to boycott British Airways after a stewardess refused to rearrange his caviar into the shape of Charles Bronson in Death Wish II". The customer is always right and some have more rights than others... or at least feel like it. BA apologized... But as the Daily Mash pointed out, they will certainly now be seeking their racing tips from the bloke that runs William Hill instead.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fifidel: real time negotiation engine for product sales

Fididel is an online marketplace based on real-time negotiation of sales. Interesting concept. Open to US transactions only at present.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Affordable Mobile Broadband on the go with Three

During my short stay in the US, at least as far as I recall, most public places offered free Wi-Fi access. It is a commodity. In the land of high price/low value, I found to my astonishment that even Starbucks (who pioneered free Wi-Fi in their shops in the States) is charging £5 for local Wi-Fi access, which is outrageously expensive. Some independent cafes offer free Wi-Fi such as the excellent Tuttis in Holborn but they are a rarity. The alternative is to use pay-as-you-go services such as The Cloud but not all the places I go to use it as their Wi-Fi provider and I wouldn’t want to pay for a service I could not access everywhere (prices start from a hefty £4.50 per hour on pay-as-you go or £10 a month for subscription).

If you are a business nomad, you would want to consider Three’s mobile broadband offer. I am testing it courtesy of the folks at 3MobileBuzz.

The first SIM I received was faulty but I got it replaced quickly. This is my second experience with their call centre and I must say that once again they did a great job: professional and courteous. So dealing with it wasn’t the hassle I anticipated.

Setting-up your connection is pretty easy, at least on a Mac:
- Insert the SIM card in the USB modem. You only need to do that once.
- Plug-in the dongle
- When it mounts, click on the “Mobile Connect” application.
- Click on “Connect”.

That’s it, you are online.

Connection speed varies a lot. My very first test was at my school in Baker Street. The connection was unfortunately too slow to check-out my emails. I did subsequent trials at various locations around London and the speed was good enough to check emails and surf the web. I plan to try a Skype video call this weekend, which would be the ultimate deal clincher for me.

Three has a special offer and retail their USB modem from £49.99. On contract plans, you get 1GB allowance for £10, 3GB for £15 and 7GB for £25. This is similar to the 2 other companies offering mobile broadband in the UK: Vodafone is also charging £15 for 3GB allowance so is T-Mobile. The latter has an “unlimited data” plan, which is in fact a 10GB allowance for £35 a month. Telecom plans are notoriously difficult to compare as companies have all incentives to make it look like it is different from their competitors so I am going to ask a few questions to my contacts there so I could work out where the real value is in the market.

In the meantime, I will make the most of the sunshine with some outdoor blogging.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The triumph of form over substance: Boris Johnson wins London

Prepare to turn the clock back as London enters 4 years of stagnation. What is Boris' policy on transport apart from bringing back the routemasters? (Tories like to romanticize the past). What is his policy on housing apart from hating any building taller than St Paul's? I could go on for ages. People forgot how bad London was before Ken, they are going to get a taste of it pretty soon.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

How Europe can shape the global system?

Good article about the end of the "unipolar" world doctrine as preached by the neocons (which is also the end of American influence) and how Europe could carve itself a role in today's multipolar world. Anecdotally, European standards are the reference in manufacturing processes across a wide range of goods in Asia. Financial Times

On a totally unrelated topic, I am testing Three's new mobile broadband offer and will report on it very shortly.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

SYSTEM NO LONGER WORKS, CONFIRMS UNITED NATIONS

All explained in the Daily Mash:

"We're planting crops for fuel instead of food in order to make it cheaper to drive to the shops where we then buy food that is much more expensive because we've planted crops for fuel instead of food."(...) "Meanwhile, the banks are borrowing money from taxpayers so that they can then lend the same money back to the taxpayers at a higher rate of interest than they borrowed it from them in the first place."

It is so funnily true that it is sad.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The world 50 best restaurants, where is Asia?

Published by Restaurant magazine, The San Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants is recognized around the world as the most credible indicator of the best places to eat on Earth.

In 2008, Spanish El Bulli is number one again, The UK's Fat Duck back to number 2, French Pierre Gagnaire is number 3.

I mapped the top 50 per countries only to find out that there are no restaurants listed in Asia. I can't believe that there are no kitchen in Hong Kong, Shanghai or Tokyo that serve better food than in Hakkasan or Nobu (just to mention 2 "asian fusion" restaurants listed in the UK).


Monday, April 07, 2008

Funny: how products differ between packaging and reality

100 products have been reviewed on the Pundo3000 website. Click on a picture to see the pack v. reality .

As seen on Mr Brown.

An iPhone for £78 (US$150)

That is 99 euros to you and only available from T-Mobile in Germany. O2 confirmed that it had no immediate intention to cut prices.

The secret strategy behind viral videos on Youtube

My friend Val flagged this article on Techcrunch US: The secret strategy behind viral video, written by the co-founder of Comotion, a viral marketing agency. This post apparently broke the record of the most commented post. It reveals some trade secrets on how to make a video popular on Youtube (and similar video sharing sites). Good read. The comments are interesting too as the article broke many "cluetrain manifesto's naive beliefs": internet users may have a bigger voice now but it is still corporations that are writing most of the script.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Technology of tomorrow, soon available in London

Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia, Richard Branson, Virgin, Carly Fiorina, ex HP and Steve Wozniak, ex Apple will gather at the Royal Albert Hall on the 3oth of September to talk about how we consume, use and apply technology in our lives and in business.

The event's website hosts a few video interviews. I might attend. These are the topics I am interested to hear about:
  • What are the strategic challenges in delivering new products or services to market?
  • How does a CEO manage through technological change?
  • How does the right leadership strategy influence the fostering of innovation in your people?
  • What new technologies are likely to shape the consumer technology market, and how will social lifestyles evolve as a result of these technologies?
  • Are we expecting to see greater network bandwidth, if so, how will that affect feature rich application software?
  • What does mobile computing look like in the next 5 years from the PDA/Mobile to PC computing?
  • What does Web 3.0 look like in terms of using the cloud (internet) to do more computing?
  • How will social and business networking technologies evolve on the web?
  • What new web-based applications can we expect to see in the next 5 years?

The Daily Mash

I discovered The Daily Mash too late... yet it almost beats the Onion on the satirical laughing scale. I'll have to make up by trolling through their archives.

Monday, March 17, 2008

You can opt-out of Facebook but you can never leave

Alex Pell writes on how Facebook makes it so difficult to resign from its services.

The way out? "To delete your details permanently you must first unearth the anonymous-looking customer service form that is hidden away at tinyurl.com/2xv52v. (...) When completing this form tell Facebook in both the subject and the message fields that you wish to have your account deleted. To check if this has been done properly either create a fake Facebook account or ask a friend to search for your details a few days later."

French ruling party taking a beating at local elections

From the Times. I think that while many French voters were put off by the President' showbiz approach to government, the majority just understood what he meant by "change"... As this election results shows, the French do not have an appetite for reforming their system yet. This could dampen the government's initiatives and push the country back into its well worn cycle of "immobilisme". Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Have you heard of eco-tourism? Help me test a new business idea and win...

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Thank you for your help, and good luck with the draw.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Misery makes Britons happy, says US writer

"Former New York Times journalist Eric Weiner claims Brits are never happier than when at their most miserable."
The Telegraph

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Warner music declares war on Apple with £5 iPod album

Warner: £5, Apple: £7.99. Price war! It is about time...

Daily Mail

Note2be, teachers rating website lost court case

A French tribunal condemned Note2be (see my previous post) to remove all personal and identifying informations regarding teachers. The website can still rate schools but not individuals. The site owner are appealing the ruling.

This could apply to any website ratings individuals (plumbers, accountants, consultants...).

French article in Liberation.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Man charged £11,000 to download 4 episodes of Friends on his mobile phone

Wife used an unlimited broadband package from Vodafone mobile to order the programs in the UK, husband went to Germany with the phone while the download was still in progress. The bill: £11,000 ($22,000). Ofcom said it will investigate.

Article in the Telegraph.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

'Pilgrim' abandons cashless 'peace walk' to India after encounter with the French

At least, this is how it sounds in the Evening Standard. Mark Boyle and two companions planned to walk to India relying solely on people's generosity to fund their trip. They made it as far as France: "Not only did no one speak the language, they also see us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about." They called off the trip and are now back in the UK.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

French teachers rating website to be sued, ruling to affect user generated content in France

Note2be (a play on "not" and "note" meaning a grade in French) allows French pupils to mark their teachers. Within 3 weeks or its launch, it was sued by the national teachers union on the grounds of "disrupting public order". The court is due to decide on the 3rd of March.
So why are teachers so unhappy? According to Aurelie, a 24 years old primary school teacher "On the Internet, everything is graded. We are not products». Oh the irony...

Article in French in communist paper Liberation.

Monday, February 25, 2008

French President: "Casse toi alors pauvre con!"

Nicolas Sarkozy is known for his "franc-parler" (straight-talking). While visiting the "Salon de l'agriculture", a customary political exercise for all French presidents, he came across a passer-by who refused to shake his hand "not to be dirtied". Sarkosy's response "then piss-off you jerk!". Reactions have been divided: those who were shocked by his language, those who sympathized (after all, he has been trailing in cow dungs for a few hours fending the crowds) and those who think he could have used more dignified insults.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Facebook's first decline in users

Users fell 5% to 8.5 million in January from 8.9 million in December in the UK, according to data from Nielsen Online. BBC article.

Blip or trend?

Edited: "Three Skypephone, second-thought due to lack of customer service". Happy ending.

I had the opportunity to experience Three's (lack of) customer service today and I am not impressed. I topped up my account on their website and got an error message, informing me that I may have been charged and should contact customer services. The irony is that none of the option on their automated service deals with this kind of queries. I tried another number and here again, I was trapped in endless automated loops. No option to speak to a human being. I was left to send an email and to hope for a reply within a few days...

I will keep you updated.

Update: I had a call from Three at lunch time. The error is now fixed. The option to speak to a human being is there but quite hidden. The guy I spoke to was courteous and efficient though so that makes up for it. Case closed.

Update 2: I have receive an email from an executive at Three regarding my negative experience. The issue I highlighted above was fixed in a matter of 2 hours by phone. I will suggest that an option to speak to customer rep be made more prominent in the automated options for phone support. Apart from that, I am still happy with my Three Skypephone and I am happy to recommend it as well.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cool Mobile Startups Products From the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

Article on BusinessWeek. It is not obvious but you have to click on the pictures at the bottom of their page to see each product.

My favorites: GestureTek (let you play games and use applications by detecting movements from your phone, like a Wii nunchak) and Audience, a noise suppression technology that recognizes your speech and filter out background noise for clearer voice chats.

Poor young people use Yahoo!, rich old people use Google


Intriguing research from Hitwise. Yahoo!'s users tend to be younger than Google too (which would partially explain the wealth gap). The size of the bubbles is the propensity to have spent $500 online.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Illegal Downloaders Will Not Face a UK Ban

There are been a lot of gesticulations from the music industry recently, culminating to a release about how ISPs could be forced to enforce a "three strikes" system and ensure that those found downloading copyrighted materials do not ever come close to an Internet connection again. Read the Telegraph among others on the subject.

I personally think that the music industry should be spending more time working out a business model that is in tune with 21st century consumers instead of threatening privacy laws and its customer base. For an enlightened viewpoint, read the Register: "ISPs are calling on the record industry to put its money where its mouth is on illegal file-sharing, by underwriting the cost of lawsuits brought by people who are wrongly accused of downloading or uploading music" and Matt's excellent analysis of why this is stupid on torrentfreak: "This idea makes as much sense as trying to ban people from singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to each other over the telephone network, or burning down libraries to protect the publishing industry."(...) "CD sales are falling because nobody uses them anymore, and Hollywood is in rude health despite the pirates. There should be no more talk about changing laws and spending tax payer’s money on this ‘problem’ until someone proves there really is one."


Monday, February 04, 2008

Our media are mass producers of distortion

Nick Davies, from the Guardian talks about his new book, Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion and Propaganda in the Global Media.

The most striking fact is a research on 2,000 UK news stories conducted by Cardiff University:
  • Only 12% of the stories were wholly composed of material researched by reporters.
  • 80%, of the stories were wholly, mainly or partially constructed from second-hand material, provided by news agencies and by the public relations industry.
  • On stories written from press releases only 12% had their facts thoroughly checked.
I am too lazy to research whether that study was properly conducted in order to reach its conclusion...

MacBook Air Unboxed!

Funny!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Microsoft to buy Yahoo! for $44.6Bn?

It if happens, Yahoo's shareholders won't believe their luck... Tim Weber, business editor of the BBC News website: "It is a shotgun marriage, but the person holding the shotgun is Google." That sums it up nicely. BBC News.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Monday, January 28, 2008

Qtrax, first music major endorsed P2P service... NOT!

Qtrax, a new free music P2P download service, backed off claims that it has deals with all four major music companies after they publicly denied agreed terms with the start-up.
Guardian

Choosing forgiveness over permission is a risky PR strategy. Qtrax got huge amount of coverage, especially after the majors denied their agreements. They will always be able to make further announcements when deals are finalized and blame their over-enthusiastic nature for their first release: Now there is media interest to hear what they have to say and users know they exist. On the other hand, it adds unnecessary pressure to their negotiations with the music industry and their credibility will be dented. The end result: A lot of confused users will check-out Qtrax.com. I hope that their PR strategy was planned and that they provide some explanations on their website to capture this spike in traffic.

French government sues Ryanair over Bruni-Sarkozy advertising

Carla: "With Ryanair, all my family can come to my wedding"

Seen in Le Figaro, en francais.