Friday, January 26, 2007

Users go professional with online video

By Yinka Adegoke 9 minutes ago, 01/26/2007

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Martial arts expert Joe Eigo never imagined he'd win millions of fans and earn $25,000 when he posted a clip of himself performing a series of gravity defying acrobatics to a video sharing site.

In uploading his "Matrix - For Real" video to, Eigo joined the growing number of aspiring filmmakers who are benefiting from the new economics of online video sharing, a phenomenon made popular by YouTube.

YouTube, owned by Google Inc., took online video mainstream last year with a completely open format and easy-to-upload site, as well as a focus on short, low-resolution clips that are streamed for free.

Now, however, a growing number of users, particularly amateur filmmakers and wannabe stars, are seeking out other online video outlets. The promise is that not only might they find the fame they seek, but they could get paid for their work in the meantime.

A prime example of the movement is the Diet Coke/Mentos candy clip that ran last year on The clip, which shows how bottled Diet Coke erupts when you drop in Mentos, was popular enough to generate tens of thousands of dollars in advertising revenue to be shared with the original creators.

But money isn't everything in the online video world, or so it seems. Several sites are now offering users the ability to upload longer-form, high-quality, professionally edited videos that will likely be more attractive to advertisers and may even encourage some users to pay to watch the clips.

When Jordan Livingston, a 24-year-old filmmaker from the San Francisco area, posted two of his short films to the Internet last year he chose, another fledgling site focused on quality videos.

Founded in 2006 by Jason Holloway, Chris Neumann and Brett Levine, Dovetail targets up-and-coming filmmakers.

"These guys have a longer-term goal -- they want to be the next Martin Scorcese. And, you don't get that by being up alongside cell phone quality shots of the type seen on YouTube," says Holloway.

Because the cost structure of Internet technology had become more affordable, Holloway said, he and his partners realized they could run high-quality, high-definition videos online.

Livingston says that more and more independent filmmakers will use sites like Dovetail to make a name for themselves and earn money while they're at it. But it's the quality of the video that's most important to him.

Dovetail, which already has nearly a thousand short films though still in prelaunch mode, hopes to pay producers like Livingston by sharing in advertising and subscription revenues. It is initially looking at paying around 10 cents every time a user's film is downloaded.

The idea of paying producers for their videos is beginning to take hold online in much the same way popular personal blogs began to take advertising and become more professional a few years ago. And users are taking to it.

Joe Eigo's "Matrix - For Real" has been the top video in Metacafe's Producer Rewards scheme with 5 million views, making him over $25,000 in just a few months. Previously, he had spent thousands of dollars over the last four years just to keep it running on his own Web site.

Metacafe's scheme pays producers $5 for every thousand views a video gets on the site. It starts to pay out after it reaches 20,000 views, implying a minimum payment of $100.

Metacafe founder Arik Czerniak says that online video sites like his are changing the way so-called user-generated content is perceived by consumers as well as broadcasters and advertisers.

"We're being much more selective about the videos than other sites because we think this is about entertainment," said Czerniak.

And for Eigo the success of his Matrix video is a dream come true.

"I was really surprised," said Eigo, who occasionally lands stunt man roles in movie and theater productions. "I've bought some books to learn how to manage the money."

NEC technology fights IP phone spam

Nancy Gohring 1 hour, 3 minutes ago, 01/26/2007

San Francisco (IDGNS) - NEC has developed technology that can help prevent spam phone calls to VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) users.
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The company plans to demonstrate the technology next month at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona but still has more work to do before it can sell a commercial product.

The technology discovers whether a caller is a human or a machine by testing the machine's capability to perform human-like conversation. Once the technology determines that a machine has made the call, it blocks the connection, preventing the user's phone from ringing.

NEC has developed the technology so that new modules can quickly be added to the system to respond to new and different kinds of VOIP spam.

In addition, the product will be customizable to work with different types of hardware, such as SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) servers, home network equipment and session border controls.

NEC tested the technology during a simulated VOIP spam attack, using well-known botnets to create the attack. The technology detected nearly all of the VOIP spam in the test, NEC Said. A botnet is a collection of computers that have been infected by malicious code and can be remotely commanded to execute malicious activities.

Existing botnets can easily be modified to produce spam telephone calls, NEC said. The company warned that a high level of VOIP spam could discourage the growth of VOIP.

NEC did not say when a commercial product might become available.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

In Silicon Valley, polite nude jogger shocks hikers, bikers

Thu Jan 25, 11:18 PM ET

SARATOGA, Calif. - Who was that undressed man? That's the question startled hikers, bikers and horseback riders are asking about a jogger seen streaking through an open space preserve wearing nothing but sneakers, glasses and a black tam hat.

"He passed me and said `Good evening,'" said equestrian Sue Bowdoin, who spotted the naked man, middle-aged and sporting a pale paunch, while riding her horse, Randy, on a trail in Fremont Older Open Space Preserve last summer. "I thought: Ugh!"

Although numerous park users have reported seeing the exhibitionist over the last year-and-a-half, rangers have been unable to identify and arrest him for exposing himself, said Gordon Baillie of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District.

By most accounts, the man is polite and does nothing other than run in the buff.

A woman who saw him said he looked scared and backed away after she cornered him with her horse and told him he was offending people.

People who use the park regularly have not reported recent sightings in the cold weather, but they theorize he may be incognito because he is clothed. With dark hair, sweaty red skin and lack of body hair, he is easily recognizable, Bowdoin said.

"He's frumpy. Plain. Not in good physical shape," Bowdoin said. "It's not a pretty sight.'

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Upgrade Your Laptop

PC Magazine


By John Delaney

Upgrade Your Laptop
Rummaging through my office closet (the designated burial ground for non-­working PCs and other assorted aging electronic gadgets), I happened upon a dusty old Gateway laptop in a darkened corner. The notebook, a Solo 9550 "desktop replacement," is only five years old, but its Pentium III processor, CD-RW/DVD ­combo drive, and 128MB of memory are ancient tech­nology compared with today's mobile offerings. The system contained a painfully slow (4,200-rpm) 30GB hard drive, which was filled to capacity, but it still fired up once I found the correct AC adapter. Then I discovered why this seemingly capable laptop earned a spot in my version of an oversized junk drawer: The screen worked for 2 minutes before the image faded to black.

I had found the perfect upgrade candidate.

Let me say right up front that upgrading a laptop can be a costly endeavor, depending on how many components need replacing. At some point you have to decide if it makes more sense (financially) to scrap the older system for a shiny new model. For example, a new screen, hard drive, memory, optical drive, and PCMCIA TV tuner card set me back more than $700, which would go a long way toward purchasing a brand-new notebook.

I also didn't tackle the most complex part of a PC upgrade: the processor. Though it's possible to upgrade the processor in some notebooks, it's a complicated job that may require soldering skills, depending on the model. There are online parts suppliers that provide chips for various systems, but you must be certain that your power supply can handle the extra power draw and that the cooling fans will prevent overheating; otherwise, you run the risk of frying the motherboard and power supply (at which point you might as well go out and buy yourself a new notebook). Besides, the CPU on this Gateway was soldered in place. I located a replacement motherboard assembly for it for around $450, but it contained the same 1.13-GHz Pentium III Mobile CPU that I already had.

Chances are your laptop makeover won't be as extensive as mine. But if you want to breathe new life into an old road warrior, the job may be easier than you think. One more tip before you get started: Find a spacious, well-lit work area with a flat, level surface to perform the upgrades. I used my pool table—sorry, Minnesota Fats. You'll need a set of jeweler's screwdrivers to remove most of the components, as laptops use extremely small screws. While you're at it, have a few bowls or small containers on hand to collect all those screws; you'll need them to install the new parts.

Install a High-Gloss Display

Replacing your laptop's screen may seem like a job for the pros, but it's a fairly easy procedure that you can complete in less than an hour. A set of jeweler's screwdrivers is essential for removing the panel, however. I picked up a new 15.4-inch 1,280-by-1,024 replacement panel from ScreenTek, which has a huge list of screens for a variety of models. The panel sells for $249 on the company's Web site,, and I paid an extra $50 to have ScreenTek apply the high-gloss PixelBright coating. Like Dell's TruLife coating, PixelBright provides better viewing-angle performance and sharper image quality than traditional antiglare treatments. Although the panel did not come with written installation instructions, the site offers an excellent step-by-step instructional guide and a downloadable video to help you out. Live chat and telephone support are also available for the technically challenged, and if you absolutely feel that you'll botch the job, ScreenTek will perform the installation free of charge—but you'll have to ship your laptop to it. If your screen is in perfect working order and you just want a high-gloss finish, send your laptop in, and for $100 it will put a PixelBright coating on it.

Installation is basically the reverse of the ­removal process, and is just as easy. The toughest part is lining up the hinges with the panel frame; it took me three tries to get it right. The whole procedure took just 45 minutes from start to finish—including the search for a latch spring that popped out when I removed the broken screen.