Monday, July 30, 2007

Facebook: More than the "New Myspace"

KXL Tech Expert Segment for 30 July 2007

So I've done it... I've signed up for Facebook.

Once limited to the college crowd, Facebook opened its online doors to anyone last year and that includes myself. The popular social networking site has gained momentum in recent months, even stealing the headlines away from Fox-owned Myspace.

What sets Facebook apart from Myspace, and Friendster before that, in my opinion, is it's reliance on interactive features. More than messages and blogs, Facebook allows anyone to write software that interacts with the social networking site creating a global network of plug-ins and additions to make the site more versatile. I appreciate the lack of "pimped out" profiles in favor of clean design and easy-to-navigate consistency.

With Facebook's recent popularity comes a challenge -- known sex offenders have joined the site as well.

“We want to be a good partner to the states in attempting to address this societal problem,” Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly said. “We’ve worked with them for quite some time now, and we look forward to continuing our fruitful partnership.” (quoted in this NY Times story)

Unique in its approach, Facebook offers limited profile viewing, in many cases only a thumbnail photo, for those not connected to you in some way. You can easily connect with members of a common group (say high school alumni or coworkers), but those not included are banned from viewing your details.

Like any online site, you should be aware of anything posted. Sharing personal details can be dangerous, especially for minors. Talk with your children and monitor their activity closely. Be cautious about sharing personal details about where you live or how to reach you. While steps ahead of Myspace, Facebook's privacy controls are not perfect -- an inherent trait of social networking sites.

So go ahead, get addicted... Join Facebook! And while you're there, look me up! You can find me by searching for my email: brian (AT) brianwestbrook (DOT) com

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Open Source Software / OSCON 2007

KXL Tech Expert Segment for 23 July 2007

Open Source Software is a standard for creating software by which the license or permission to use the software includes the availability of the source code. Popular examples of "Open Source" software include Linux, Open Office, and more peer-to-peer file sharing applications than you can imagine.

To learn more about Open Source Software, check out these links:

Do you use open source software at your home or workplace? Feel free to drop me a line or post to the comments! Listen to KXL at 6:40am and 8:40am each Monday for more Tech Expert features.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Internet Radio Faces Uncertain Future

KXL Tech Expert Segment for 16 July 2007

Fans of internet radio may find their favorite online music stations silent if new fees set to go in effect today are enforced...

Internet radio, like terrestrial stations heard up and down the FM dial, are obligated to compensate artists for each song played as part of their programming. New rates are threatening to shut down many online music channels that simply can’t afford to pay.

The per-song/per-listener fees double by 2010 at the top of the chart, but also of (perhaps larger) concern to smaller broadcasters is a $500 minimum charge per-channel and the discontinuation of a previous “percentage of revenue” plan that spared those who made little or no advertising revenue off their streams.

Congress, no doubt in response to constituents fearing their favorite internet radio stations will fold, has pending legislation that would reduce these fees in both the US House and Senate – though neither bill has made much progress.

Now it’s important to point out that these fees are retroactive to the beginning of 2006 – so some stations could face a hefty bill if the recording industry group SoundExchange -- they collect the fees on behalf of the artists – start enforcing the new rates, which do in fact go into effect today. In a welcome “sigh of relief” (albeit temporary), the recording industry has said they will hold off enforcement while negotiations are ongoing sparing some music channels – for now at least…

For an audio replay of this broadcast, please check back!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Apple iPhone: Will it Blend?

In an ingenious promotions strategy, the guys over at toss various items into their consumer blender (available for sale!) to answer the question: Will It Blend?

Now, they've sacrificed (GASP!) an Apple iPhone for yet another faux-scientific study. The answer to the question you've been begging to know...? Watch for yourself!

(or view the embedded YouTube clip below)

With the hot weather we've been experiencing lately... I think I'm going to go blend myself a margarita... ;-)

(Please, don't write me telling me you tried this at home despite warnings and now your iPhone doesn't work... I take absolutely no responsibility!)