Thursday, September 15, 2005

No Longer Free, Enlightening and Frightening for Half a Decade, Alert SNS Reader Hall of Fame, Support SNS, No Telling How Long This Will Remain True

Yes, that’s right. The StratVantage News Summary is no longer free – of advertising, that is. Of course, you can still receive SNS for free, but now you’ll be seeing Google AdSense ads along with the brilliant commentary.

This reversal of a long-standing SNS policy was not an easy decision, especially considering how much I hate advertising. It was based on a need to derive some value for the amount of work I put in to each issue without charging for subscriptions. Because, as we all know, information wants to be free and, as a corollary, no one wants to pay for stuff they get from the Internet unless it’s delivered to their door by a uniformed courier of some sort.

Years ago, I did actually drop an ad into SNS, basically because I thought the ad was funny. It generated at least one comment claiming that the newsletter had been hacked.

With the advent of Google AdSense, however, advertising has become a bit more palatable. What the service does is match its ads with the content of the page you are viewing. This means the ads are likely to be pretty relevant to your interests, since you’re obviously reading the page for a reason. Plus, the ads are text and not whirling, whizzy graphics.

I must say there is one pretty draconian restriction in AdSense’s Terms and Conditions, however. I must agree not to “engage in any action or practice that reflects poorly on Google or otherwise disparages or devalues Google’s reputation or goodwill.”

I always thought Google really sucked. They are up to no good and their real motto is “Evil, 24/7.”

We’ll see how that grabs them.

But seriously, he who pays the piper calls the tune, and any site that accepts advertising faces the possibility of being influenced by the advertiser. I’ve never said anything bad about Google, and I think they’re generally a fine company, except for their Gmail Privacy Policy (specifically, “Because we keep back-up copies of data for the purposes of recovery from errors or system failure, residual copies of email may remain on our systems for some time, even after you have deleted messages from your mailbox or after the termination of your account . . . Information displayed or clicked on in your Gmail account (including UI elements, ads, links, and other information) is also recorded.”) But I reserve the right to trash them in the future, ads or no ads.

Enlightening and Frightening for Half a Decade

As SNS approaches its fifth birthday September 24th, it’s appropriate to look back across a span of time that has seen the deflation of the dotcom bubble, the acceleration of outsourcing, and the explosion of Wi-Fi along with many other rapidly-accelerating technological trends. Over the next couple of issues, I’ll be dredging up some of the more interesting nuggets from SNS and taking a look at some of the predictions, by me and by others, and how they panned out.

Five years ago, were you thinking about wireless Internet via Wi-Fi, even across whole cities? I was. The very first SNS in 2000 mentioned it, and take a look at the analysis and predictions on this front from four years ago,

Speaking of the first SNS, here are the topics covered in the inaugural issue and the current status of each:

One-Third of Business Say E-Commerce Will Transform

Yeah, e-commerce has turned out to be somewhat of a big thing.

Microsoft Enhances bCentral

bCentral morphed from the probable category killer offering a collection of hosted Web tools, email, e-commerce and marketing applications and such to what appears to be a marketing site for Microsoft. Microsoft did not dominate small business IT through bCentral as many had feared they would.

City-Wide Wireless Service Provider

Metropolitan wireless is an extremely hot topic now, both on the commercial and the free-for-all side. I started a company to exploit this trend.

New Mobile Modem Hits Download Speeds of 128 kbps

Metricom has gone bye-bye, but Ricochet, their metropolitan wireless Internet service has been sold several times, ending up with Terabeam Wireless and offering just three markets: San Diego, Denver, and Aurora, CO. If they’d had the cash, they could have dominated back in the 56Kbps era.

Out on a Limb with M-Commerce

Here’s an example of an industry analyst prediction that actually panned out. In 2000, Forrester predicted there was latent demand for Internet-enabled mobile phones. This prediction is finally coming true with Verizon’s new high speed EV-DO data network and Sprint and Cingular playing catch-up.

Shakeout Looming in B2B Communities?

Um, yes, you could say there was a slight B2B online marketplace shakeout.

1 Million Businesses on DSL in 3 Years? Sounds light to me

Well, it wasn’t. I hadn’t counted on the strong performance of cable broadband, the incredible problems of early DSL, and the stupidity of the telcos. Business DSL lines numbered only 830,000 in 2003.

Preparing for the B2B Battle

The subject of this piece, VerticalNet, has survived, but hardly as the dominant force in online B2B marketplaces it once was. It is now a provider of supply chain solutions. When I worked at Virtualfund, we considered VerticalNet our major competition. Virtualfund imploded in late 2000, although its stock is still traded, after having been hijacked by sharks. At least VerticalNet is in the same business category as it was back in the dotcom day.

Wireless Web wave breaks over the IPO market

Yes, wireless was a hot VC market, and still is an area with some signs of venture capital life these days.

The Great Thing About Standards: There are so many of them!

RSS 1.0, the standard I was talking about in this item, spawned the blogger revolution and has indeed contributed to moving us toward Web inventor Tim Berners Lee's vision for the “semantic web”: one vast database of information. See Google.

Business guru Tom Peters sees major e-commerce shakeout

I doubted Tom Peters’ credentials in B2B e-commerce after seeing him speak in May 2000. Nonetheless, I agreed with his prediction that over 85 percent of e-commerce-based companies would bite the big one. At least.

Alert SNS Reader Hall of Fame

But of course, I don’t do SNS alone. I am backed up by legions of Alert SNS Readers who contribute the interesting, bizarre and poignant infonuggets that serve as starting points for my rants. Below is the Alert SNS Reader Hall of Fame, along with what each has contributed.

Alert SNS Reader (tally)


Roger Hamm (13)

PDA/cell phone convergence, selling bogus .usa domain names, wireless camera-in-a-capsule, Google’s uber-computer, Six Technologies That Will Change the World, Ray Kurzweil/The Jerk, Odd Todd, Young Scientist Round Table, GeekDIY, business plans of failed dotcoms, nanotube white paper, space elevator, teens wrote Goner worm

Andrew Hargreave (12)

Super DCMA laws, the “evil bit”, Acme Rent-A-Car fining $150 for speeding, Hasbro’s game, POX, Good Technology, hacking Xbox, software as a service patent, Microsoft’s dead supporters, fighting Code Red, hacked site liability, Arizona education ASP

David Dabbs (11)

Fast packet keying, implanted RFID chips, The Death of TCP/IP: Why the Age of Internet Innocence is Over, wireless LAN and Bluetooth network, DeCSS, next-bench marketing, disposable technology, wireless LAN security, PDF virus, Industry Standard demise, Hyper-Sonic Sound System

Larry Kuhn (10)

PC WAP browser, virtual keyboard, Microsoft’s SmartPhone, PC-Ephone, Valley Of the Geeks, broadband’s always-on-ness, Hitachi’s disk tutorial, Microsoft Toast, Java struggle, Microsoft Passport

Andy Stevko (5)

comments in Windows 2000 code, server admins fighting back, Code Reuse embarrassment, Burning Man survivor report, Microsoft security advisory parody

Nick Stanley (4)

Go FoneBlog™, broadband in the hinterland, Fiber To The Home, Solving the Broadband Paradox

Todd Mortenson (4)

BuzzWhack, Subservient Chicken, Wi-Fi players list, sports as broadband killer app

Bill Lehnertz (4)

Cat in peril, nano applications, nanowhizz, nano frankenfood

Tim Plas (3)

Wal-Mart’s RFID move, SeaCode, outsourcing to Native Americans

John Gehring (3)

Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003 (NeRD), Scan Based Trading, VenueMaitred, patents

Mike Todey (3)

Laser-read databases, IBM’s hard disk storage technology, Millipede

Jeff Ellsworth (3)

“There are more things out there; therefore more things can be conceived.” Wiretap Authority, PGP in 9/11 planning

Dr. Andrew Odlyzko (2)

Content is Not King, Privacy, Economics, and Price Discrimination on the Internet

John Skach (2)

Voice interfaces, position sensing and Big Brother

Dean Cowdery (2)

The Shredder, Darwin Magazine

Jacob Jaffe (2)

Microsoft Strategic Technology Protection Program, Smart Tags

Ken Florian (2)

Qurb, ‘Newfies’

Peter Ellsworth

iPods at Duke

Pete Simpson

Wallflower Plus wireless picture frame

Jacqueline Miller

Your House is Smarter Than a Vintage Bug

Eric Strauss

Cell phone pix

Valerie Janda

the ultimate car hack

Doug Laney

ACLU privacy piece

Steve Harr

Bandwidth priced like energy

Marv Vikla

Downside of offshoring

Bob Burkhart


Dave Harkins


Deb Ellsworth

POX game platform

Nick Caffarra

Registered sex offenders online

Claudia Swan

US behind in wireless

Robert Koerner

Alert SNS Reader secret handshake

I’d like to thank all the Alert SNS Readers for keeping me on my toes!

Want to get on this list? Send your infonuggets along and who knows? Immortality might be yours.

Support SNS

So one era ends, another begins. SNS will continue to clutter your inbox for as long as you care to subscribe. But if you’d like to tip your server, either click on the ads to the right (which you may not see if you're reading this in your email), or use the Support SNS button also on the right. Another thing you can do is forward each issue of SNS to everyone you know and encourage them to subscribe, for free.

See you next issue.

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: It’s here: A wireless networking company called The WiMAX Guys. Our main business is new installs for people who want to set up wireless hotspots such as hotels, warehouses, apartment buildings, and office buildings or hotzones that cover cities. We also sell a knowledge-based Web portal called the MAX K-Base. Check out our main Website at My wife created a bit of a stir when her op-ed piece was published in the Minneapolis StarTribune newspaper after the election. Her article, “Two Nations, Handcuffed Together,” has been commented on or linked to by more than 85 Websites. She’s now created a Website to capitalize on her newfound pundit status. Check it out at Several issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $91.48. Thanks Dave!
  • The Raw File – SNS is dedicated to delivering the scoop on the latest and greatest. However, I collect lots of information that never makes it into the newsletter before it gets old. I’ve collected all this aging info into a page called The Raw File. This page is the raw information I gather for SNS articles. It’s not pretty, and some may be a little incoherent, but chances are there are still things in TRF that might be news to you. So therefore, use The Raw File at your own risk – it’s 45+ pages of the best stuff that didn’t make it into SNS. The Raw File
  • No Telling How Long This Will Remain True: But if you perform the following steps, you’ll be taken to a surprising Website. 1.) Go to 2.) Type in the single word: failure 3.) Press the I'm feeling lucky button (instead of the Google search one) 4.) Figure out how it was done and email me. Thanks to Alert SNS Reader Seth Freeman for the pointer.
  • If You’ve Made it This Far: Well, there still has been only one entrant in our contest: Alert SNS Reader Todd Mortenson. You may recall the contest was to email me the retort to the partial music lyric buried somewhere in the previous newsletter. The prize was one stick of totally obsolete PC memory. The answer was: “And I said yes sir brother sheriff, and that's your wife on the back of my horse.” So the memory has remained unclaimed. I’ll award it to the first person who emails me the name of that song (so easy!), the partial lyric I was referring to, and who also answers the tiebreaker from last issue: Who is Hoops McCann? Twice. Good luck!

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