internet social

Monopolies of the Crowd: Our Near Future

Various federal commissions are keeping tabs on companies in order to prevent them from turning into monopolies. But the onerous “web crowd” might overpower them with ease by creating de facto monopolies.

Starting with my own area of expertise – web site creation. If your web site isn’t on Google’s first couple of pages for your search terms – you’re effectively off the market. Why? Because no matter what FTC would do, we, the people, will “google it” first. Google didn’t just buy those 80% of search market – we handed it to them on our own.

If your video isn’t on YouTube – there’s hardly any substitute on that. Recent TechCrunch post on percentage shares of US video streams confirms that. I don’t remember YouTube stalking me with a bat to make me use their services.

Next – social networking. While MySpace/Facebook/Ning leave some room for competition, Twitter is the only game in town so far and so are Flickr, and LinkedIn (to a point).

It’s not that these companies are brutal in extinguishing their competition, something Microsoft did to Netscape back in the old age of browser wars. Also, there are alternatives –  technically speaking. But there is no real competition in terms of services’ social population and  amount of interaction one would encounter. Heck, the reason Twitter crumbles every now and then because there is no competition, so there is no other place to tweet. It’s just that after we played with most social web sites out there, we tend to come back to one or two most populated, since being where the social action occurs is the whole point of exercise.

business internet services technology

Bandwidth Caps Are Bad, Speed Caps Are Better

Bandwidth Caps Are Bad, Speed Caps Better - iStudioWeb With the latest craze about Time Warner and AT&T introducing download caps for their subscribers, it doesn’t seem like companies care for anything but the short term profit, if that. Price-conscious consumers won’t buy into this game again, like we did with cell phones and limited minutes. Anyone who ever overused their cell phone plan knows how hard it was to pay off skyrocketed bill. Personally I had that experience only once – I was consulting some really large project over the phone and my phone bill went from regular $120/month to $653. Of course, it was a justified business expense, but still – it would have been just $240 if I had two separate plans. If you ask me today – I would go to any lengths available to keep my costs down these days. But I digress.

What beats me in the whole capped broadband picture is that ISPs are trying to implement a restaurant pricing. While at the same time forgetting that they are anything but. My cable provider claims that he provides speeds up to 15Mbps. My dedicated servers are on 10Mbps lines burstable to 100Mbps and I am yet to see speeds above 1 megabit. Between themselves servers swap stuff at very least at full 10Mbps which makes it painfully obvious that my cable provider lies is something like McDonalds – at best.

What is obvious to me is that download cap pricing structure is a loose-loose situation for everyone. Once consumers will get a feeling of what their limit will give them, most of those who, supposedly, would be a cash cow for ISP will leave for something else. Or keep their usage under strict control. Either way, ISPs will loose money. Or, rather, will earn less than they do now – just because they have caps. Wouldn’t you talk on your phone more if it was unlimited calls? Sure. Are you postponing calls to your friends until it’s “unlimited nights and weekends”? Most likely – yes. See the pattern?

If provider companies are so inclined to slice their services in tiers – why not turn the situation into a win-win? How could they do it? TIER THE SPEEDS, NOT THE DOWNLOADS. Some “old parents” setting wouldn’t need more than occasional e-mail checking, downloading pictures of their grandchildren and maybe a video or two. That would be a slowest and cheapest tier. A mom-pop-kids shop would probably need some more advanced tier – videos, music, iTunes for kids, heavy MySpace/Facebook and YouTube. And geeks, gamers and internet business owners would appreciate the fastest speeds and the lowest pings out there at the premium. Basically, companies would milk the same bunch of people, only do it so much different that it would make everyone happy.

e-mail internet microsoft technology

Hotmail Awakens With POP3 and SMTP

It’s only been a quarter into year 2009 when Microsoft had awakened to realities of the simple things on the web. Like e-mail.

As of March 12, 2009, POP3 access is now available to Hotmail users WORLDWIDE.

When you set up Hotmail in the e-mail program on your PC or mobile device, you may be asked for the following information:

POP server: (Port 995)
POP SSL required? Yes
User name: Your Windows Live ID, for example
Password: The password you usually use to sign in to Hotmail or Windows Live
SMTP server: (Port 25)
Authentication required? Yes (this matches your POP username and password)
TLS/SSL required? Yes

As you can see, in about 10 – 15 years Microsoft will add IMAP support. Stay tuned.

On the other hand, if you simply check Google, you will see that: and (those poor souls who got themselves an AIM instant messenger) total around 350 million results yields about 281 million results – 325 million results
which totals around 600 million – 1.48 billion resuls (first place so far) and in total produce well below 200 million results.

Or in other words, second largest e-mail provider has just realized that people may want to check their e-mails outside of the flashy advertising interface. Personally I have abandoned Hotmail a long time ago because the loading times were awful (compared to any other web mail back then) and all the advertisements were so in-your-face that I barely saw actual messages. Of course, Firefox was in early alpha (if that), there was no AdBlock plugin and Hotmail simply refused to work in any other browser except Internet Explorer. Add to this the fact that my Hotmail ID was even more popular target for spam then one with Yahoo and spam blocking options were largely non-existant… well, let’s just say I have logged into Hotmail today for the first time in three years. The ID was still alive primarily because of a few services that were tied into it, like MSN messenger, Webmaster Tools and MSDN subscriptions.

Of course, you may want to argue (at least those of you who paid attention during Outlook initial startup) that Microsoft had long availed checking Hotmail/ e-mails from Outlook and Outlook Express. Guess what? I only been using Outlook since 2007, I have been using a lot of other e-mail clients before. Even more so now, I use Outlook from home and Thunderbird on the go. And all my work-related messages are copied into Google account (both received AND SENT!). All this have been done using IMAP/SMTP. Which Microsoft, probably, hadn’t researched yet in their version of Civilization game they’re playing. Which is, honestly, surprising, given the advances the company makes with operating systems and developer tools.

Staying tuned for company’s response, there were a lot of requests for IMAP as far as I know…