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Northern Dialogue

Erkko's Weblog on how the digital & analog life appear from far far in the north.

Last Build Date: Tue, 01 Jul 2014 04:15:19 +0000


Mobile Firefox, about time!

Wed, 10 Oct 2007 21:35:00 +0000

Mozilla is going mobile

Also, the last few weeks have been so hectic that there has been no time to read, think, and write but this will hopefully change soon again.


Need for mail clients in the future?

Mon, 24 Sep 2007 17:28:00 +0000

Last Week Mozilla span-off Thunderbird as a separate organization concentrating on communications and mail software.

This organization will start work from the Thunderbird code base and work themselves up from there. What I found most interesting from this move was how Mozilla is building on the assumption that people will need a desktop mail client still in the future.

In the future with connectivity becoming ubiquitous, wireless bandwidth not being a bottleneck, and browser based mails expanding through different technical enablers into offline mails also, is there really room for mail clients? We are so locked into Outlook at many work places, that now it might seem so, but what is really the reason for having an mail client compared to the webmail's services we have in 1 year? (image)

E-mail will be history?

Mon, 24 Sep 2007 17:10:00 +0000

Will E-mail be history in 5 years?

This is a relevant question raised first by John McKinley and Light Speed Venture Partners. There is an ever growing amount of Internet communications tools available for everyone, ranging from VoiP and IM to Facebook, MicroBlogging and even blogging.

All of these of course take attention and time away from E-mail, that has been the backbone of our Internet communication arsenal, but can they really substitute mail?

I actually don't believe so. At the moment, and my guess that for a while, E-mail will have an official element to it that other competing mediums will not have. The share infrastructure legacy behind E-mail will keep it as a relevant part of business communications for a long time to come. The technology is mature and well supported across devices and platforms.

What I see happening is E-mail merging into the right seem between Blogging/Microblogging & chatting. These are each clearly different mediums and the usage intensiveness varies.

Maybe I am shortsighted in this case, but I just don't believe that our everyday communication tool set will change so quickly and drastically. The new tools are not that much more powerful in the things that E-mail does well at the moment.


oSkope Visual Search

Sat, 22 Sep 2007 08:16:00 +0000

oSkope Visual Search is brilliant!

The service supports Amazon (reason I like it so much), YouTube, Flickr and Ebay among others, and the user-interface is really intuitive.

Visually driven search is just so much more comfortable for many people than plain text search, and it will definitely be a part of the future search industry.

Via AdvertisingLab.(image)

Moore's law will come to an end

Sat, 22 Sep 2007 07:47:00 +0000

With Moira Gunn Interviewing Gordon Moore at the Intel Developer forum, we heard what many people have been worried about, there is an end to Moore's Law.

The reasoning is that anything physical that grows with an exponential speed, will come to an end at some point, there are just limits to physical attributes.

Moore also identified one of the most valuable future technologies, how biology interfaces to computers. In his view, this will be one of the most important future enablers for technical innovation. Maybe it is time to buy stocks in the right companies.

You can catch a video of the interview at Silicon Valley Watcher.(image)

Web Semantics

Sat, 22 Sep 2007 07:18:00 +0000

In the last weeks I've been involved in discussions about semantics quite a lot. We have debated on product semantics at work, I've been reading books on semantics, and just plain thinking about it. (To get geared take a second and read the Wikipedia entry for Semantics.) Semantics as a topic is an intriguing brain exercise at least to me, and it can open doors to other valuable "aha" experiences.

Everyone has sometime ran into the discussion of what web 2.0 actually means, and what is the definition of Semantic Web. I am not going to start defining them myself, but I encourage you to read O'Reilly's recent post on confusion around semantic web. Valuable food for thought. (image)

Promised land of Mobile Social Networks

Sat, 22 Sep 2007 06:58:00 +0000

Mobile social networks have a seductive and mysterious aura around them. Everyone knows they will be bring a huge gazillion of gold chips for the service that is the first to really break through, but to this day everyone who has tried, has failed.

These networks are really a classic example of crossing the chasm, or Metcalfe's law. The value grows when there are more users, and crossing to the side of mass volumes is hard, very hard.

Is the barrier technical? I would say no. The spread of phones that can support advanced connectivity features and GPS is high enough. The hype is just ripe now for getting people to massively migrate to a service, and both phone vendors and operators are looking to service business so there is even a high motivation from the critical value chain.

TechCrunch posted a list of some of the start-up's working in this space, including Aka-Aki, MobiLuck, MeetMoi, and Imity.

When compared to social networks on the web, the complication comes from creating software for phones. It is so much harder to make well behaving and virally distributing software with phones where security models are strict and Operating systems binary compatibility is what it is.

Because of this my guess is that the breakthrough will come from an innovative startup partnering with a vendor early enough.(image)

Amazon S3 and EC2 to save the day!

Wed, 19 Sep 2007 18:19:00 +0000

When your applications Facebook traffic increases linearly, your computing requirements can grow exponentially.

As web development is easy, and getting easier all the time with the variety of RIA framework, facebook-like web platforms, the need for computing resources is growing all the time. But this growth is not easy to pattern out, and it can be fairly volatile, which is of course a killer for any small company where you don't have money for over resourcing, but can't take the hit of over heating.

Step in Amazon S3 and EC2 to save the day.(image)

Raving Opera

Wed, 19 Sep 2007 17:50:00 +0000

I've lately been diving more actively into what Opera is up to in the browser market, and I have to say that it has been an interesting experience. To be candid, the offering from Opera with their desktop 9.5 alpha launch and opera Mini, is something competition should not take lightly.

The desktop Opera 9.5 is getting praise for not only lightning fast performance and slimness, but also configurability and personalization. If I would make a new browser and concentrate on something, these 2 areas would be the clear winners. Performance is just such obvious, with the continuous struggle for all browsers, and personalization is the most important thing for the future. A sole browser is nothing special, but how it works as the window to exactly your Internet is the key.

Opera Mini on the other hand, keeps making strides in the purely Mobile phone targeted browsers with their server side optimizing delivering a casual and quick to use browsing experience. Even the New York Times got into the show, by talking about Mini in their business travel section.

At the moment Opera is doing exactly the right things to hit into the niche that has been left open by the open source based browsers. Low-end mobile phones, and lightning fast desktop performance. (image)

MySpace old news?

Wed, 19 Sep 2007 17:38:00 +0000

With the humangous hype around Facebook continuing and their still accelerating growth rate, it is easy to say that MySpace is old news.
Facebook has now climbed up to rank no. 3 in pageviews, and their growth continues in all relevant categories such as unique visitors, visits, pageviews, average stay and attention. MySpace is growing only in unique viewers, with a measly 1%.

The one thing MySpace really has going for them is intensity. People return on average 18 times a month and spend 26 minutes on the site. This is a metric we should not underestimate. Even if the momentum of growth has turned towards Facebook, intensity is a monetizable asset. Intense user's are the easiest to hook up with contextual advertising, that actually delivers good click through rates.

I would not count MySpace out of the game yet. (image)

Online video Economics

Tue, 18 Sep 2007 19:53:00 +0000

As online video is seen as one of the honey pots of Internet monetization whether it comes to advertising or another model, I suggest that everyone read Internet Outsider's articles on online video economics (Tough business & Unit Cost Analysis).

After reading the articles, I was surprised. I have always seen online video business as very promising, but the facts talk against it. The costs are high and variable (you need scale to compete), and profits margins are not spectacular (you need a sound approach to content creation). Content creating in comparison to the monetization capabilities is not an easy knot to solve also.


Being productive by limiting yourself

Tue, 18 Sep 2007 18:23:00 +0000

Everyone struggles with using their time efficiently at the work place and trying to follow what is happening in the world around us. I know that I struggle with this all the time, and usually fail miserably compared to what I expected from myself.

Today while reading Zen Habits, I came over a post "Haiku Productivity: The Fine art of Limiting yourself to the Essential".

The principles in the post just sound brilliant, and I will definitely have to try them out as soon as possible. (image)

Video with OLPC CTO

Tue, 18 Sep 2007 17:52:00 +0000 has an interview video with the OLPC CTO Mary Lou Jepsen, where Mary goes through some of the tidbits about OLPC.

It is a bit funny that one of their innovations is to actually turn of things when they are not needed. Anyone knowing anything about how mobile phones handle power management, there is not much new in this thinking, and actually laptops of our days are just done without thinking about power saving at all (software does so many stupid things to use a lot of power). Fairly simple optimization would help laptop battery usage a lot.

On the bright side, you have to love what they have done with the screen. It really works outside in direct sunlight, unlike most laptop or mobile device screens. This I really consider an great innovation.

And the best thing, OLPC is green. If we used OLPC's as our laptops, we would save 8.5 billion in electricity.... (image)

Open source impact on browser business

Mon, 17 Sep 2007 19:17:00 +0000

VisionMobile last week posted a piece on how Open Source is wrecking havoc in the browser business, especially visible with Openwave and Teleca closing shop.

I have to say that in principle I agree with the views presented in the post, but the picture however is not as simple. I wish it was so that the whole market would just converge to Webkit.

First off, Opera is doing well, especially in the Mobile market with Opera Mini. A fact is that low-end devices do not have the power to run a Webkit implementation, and they need something else to power their browsing experience. Opera is solving this problem with 2 major features, their new well performing rendering engine, and Opera Mini's server based optimization feature.

Secondly, even though Nokia and co. have made a huge push forward with Webkit, that engine alone will not commoditize the mobile browsing market. Do we really think Mozilla will just bend over in the largest browser market ever in the age of the browser? I don't think so, and there will be a tight competition between these 2 engines and a few proprietary engines for a long time. The market is just not big enough for many more providers. (image)

The new software companies

Mon, 17 Sep 2007 19:02:00 +0000

Never realized that a major company at Wall Street could have a higher developer to other employee ratio than an iconic software company like Oracle.

Luckily Paul Kedrosky enlightened me. Oracle 1 to 8 ratio, Renaissance technologies 2 to 3 ratio. Of course there are reasons why a smaller company can easily achieve a ratio like this, but still I would look at most "real" software company organizations with a skeptical view regarding their ratio.

At the end of the day, they create economic value with software, and if for example two thirds of your people are not creating that economic value, is the developer ratio really right?(image)

Mozilla Europe CEO interview

Sun, 16 Sep 2007 19:36:00 +0000

TechCrunch UK posted an interview with the Mozilla Europe CEO Tristan Nitot.

To conclude the most interesting questions and Tristan's opinions:
- Firefox is getting bloated? No it is getting speedier and speedier.
- How do you see Apple's Safari strategy? We see Safari and Firefox as allies bringing diversity to the web
- What do you think of DRM? It has no future.
- The future of Mozilla? There will be a stronger emphasize on embedding Mozilla code in mobilde devices and computers like the OLPC.

Personally I have to say I'm fairly happy about the answers Tristan gave (there is always a risk that a CEO's don't share a similar opinion with me). How he views Safari and Firefox as allies in an intriguing view, I'll need to digest that one a bit more. Importantly Tristan especially mentioned the need to embed Mozilla in mobile devices, that clearly states they do have a plan regarding mobile, even if it is not in full action yet. (image)

Google and Yahoo traffic trends

Sun, 16 Sep 2007 17:35:00 +0000

Internet Insider posted some interesting numbers on recent Yahoo and Google traffic trends.

For Google, the growth numbers are astonishing. As an example, US users are up 18% from 2006 July, counting in at 22% of the total. The dominance is especially clear in maps and video. Google maps is up 98% to almost 700 million pageviews a month, and Youtube is accounting for 28% of minutes spent on Google worldwide. (time spent growth 113%).

The similar trends for Yahoo are not that encouraging. Pageviews declined 9% and minutes spent 1% in the same period.

My conclusion would be that Google is still doing unbelievably well (and they have to hit some kind of wall at some point, right?) and Yahoo is in big trouble. The notion how Youtube might start eating into Google's profit margins is however a scary scenario for stock owners, and I would be a bit skeptical of future performance.


Google to integrate social applications

Sun, 16 Sep 2007 07:07:00 +0000

From the same leaked video, there is a notion that Google will be provide one feed, one could call it lifestream or utility feed, of all your social happenings in Gmail, Calendar, Docs, orkut, and probably others.

In short, a detailed copy of what Facebook is doing with their feed. The thing is that Google provides services like Docs & Spreadsheet, My books, and Gmail on the level of usage that Facebook will never provide, so tying those seamlessly into one feed should be interesting. Integrating these services that reside outside of the Facebook domain, would seem to have more opportunities than Facebook at the moment regarding pure utility. Especially document sharing and mapping that to a social feed sounds great.

Google also has the well working maps platform, that should be able to provide an added dimension to feeds with location that has been before missing mostly.

Google Reader metrics

Sun, 16 Sep 2007 06:50:00 +0000

When Google leaked a confidential introduction video on Google reader to the net, the guys over at Google Operating System were quick enough to gather some interesting material on the Reader.

As I have previously mentioned on Google's opportunity to leverage Google Reader as a part of their infrastructure, they are actually already doing it. The reader provides feed handling (the back-end of it) to not only iGoogle but also orkut, Gmail's web clips, Blogger widgets, Google Spreadsheets and Ajax API. You can read that as every service for Google that uses and will use feeds in some way. Bye bye Bloglines when Google does the integration stronger on the User interface level. As a tip, the future features are clearly pointing towards this integration, hurray!

The reader, even though in beta, also gives another glimpse of the immerse need for processing and storage when it comes to global web services. 10 TB to store data, craws 8 million feeds, stores the entire history of each feed, 200 computers doing the indexing with 650 million documents. Reader beta is no cheap investment for Google.


Why does thou create content?

Sat, 15 Sep 2007 22:21:00 +0000

OH users, why does thou create content???

The profilic consulting giant Mckinsey (via Marketing & Strategy Innovation) set out to figure out an answer to that question and arranged a survey of 600 users. They of course got some notable results out of the study.

According to the results, users are mostly driven by fame, fun, sharing and others benefiting. This gives nice guidance to what is important in creating a social sharing site.

More interestingly, as a person who has read a fair share of research into the motivations of Open Source developers, I was not very surprised to see the overlapping of these two similar areas. However there is one clear difference in the motivations. For open source developers toning their skills and learning is always cited as one of the most usual motivators, but it was not at all listed in user generated content. Does this mean that user generated content does not have the similar learning possibilities for example in photography as in coding and the feedback channel is not valuable enough, or that coding and content creation are just so different that they cannot be compared.

Don't know, but still the resemblance of motivations is very high...(image)

Mobile Meshing, maybe not yet...

Sat, 15 Sep 2007 21:53:00 +0000

So the Swedes have come up with a technology to let mobiles talk directly to each other without basestations up to an radius of one kilometer and act as a node.

With a radius like that and limited bandwith (if they are only talking about text messages) this would not really be that revolutionary. Of course noding will extend this limit, but as power is still the scarcest resource on mobiles, that won't fly at this point.

Meshing with mobiles will at some point be a revolutionary technology, but I don't see Terranova's offering yet taking us there. A lot of under lieng technologies need to grow older first. (image)

New Nokia Maps and 1 million downloads

Sat, 15 Sep 2007 21:44:00 +0000

The new release of Nokia Maps details the exact reason why location will fast become one of the key data elements on the Internet.

- One million downloads since the February launch
- 150 covered countries with over 50 navigable during 2H/2007
- Availability for an expanding list of phone models
- Integration to

Location will happen faster than we think, and Nokia is not the only company pushing this forward. (image)

Stanford course for Facebook

Sat, 15 Sep 2007 21:11:00 +0000

This fall Stanford launched a course on how to build Facebook applications (gotten via Scobleizer).

And we wonder how the area around Silicon valley is able to deliver technology innovation after innovation. I just wish any university outside of US would react to the changes in information technology this fast (Finish Universities must be the worse example of slow reactions).(image)

A PC for everyone, OLPC vs. nComputing

Sat, 15 Sep 2007 20:32:00 +0000

To get every single person on our green and loved globe into the digital age with access to their own PC is a noble (and most likely profitable) goal.

The most notorious project working with this goal must be OLPC, but they have some fierce competition including nComputing.

You can read on nComputing's approach to get a PC to everyone from BusinessWeek, and to me at least their plans sound more logical than OLPC in a variety of ways when we live in the age of saving the environment. More power efficient, less hardware creation and smaller maintenance costs are going to be a big part of delivering on the PC for everyone dream.(image)

Our Social life in a digital form

Sat, 15 Sep 2007 20:04:00 +0000

I keep struggling with updating, creating and re-creating my existing social connections to each and every interesting social service. I have gone or will go through the exact same work on Facebook, Linkedin, Pownce,... list goes on. At the same time as I choose one service to concentrate on, I end up being partially locked into it, and blocking myself (or at least making it hard) to successfully try out other similar services.

Engineer solution: I need to get my existing social network into a reusable and standard digital form.

This exact topic has happened to received wide debate from Joshua Porter and Brad Fitzpatrick and many others. Their articles and the ones tracing back to them give a fairly wide coverage of the need for "social graphs".

When we get a standard way to define and represent your social graph, we will officially step past web 2.0 to the next level of social Internet. A digital and standard form is just such a powerful tool for creating services, that we most likely can't even imagine the doors it will open. Of course it is also a very complicated problem to solve, as obviously social connections and objects are not an easy item to represent digitally with enough granularity. (image)