Launch of Tailgate Scout!

September 15th, 2010
Bill Lazorik

Today is the launch of a new application I have been developing, Tailgate Scout! Tailgate Scout is a mobile web application that helps you find your friends’ location, their tailgates, and other tailgates nearby. Tailgate Scout was developed to solve the problem of finding a single tailgate located amongst the vast expanse of tents and grills. Tailgate Scout solves that problem and throws in a dash of fun for good measure. In addition to helping you find your friends this application turns tailgating into an experience that can be shared with those who can’t be there in person.

Built for iPhone and Android devices the mobile application can be used to set your location, create and check into tailgates, and earn points. To get started just point your Android or iPhone browser to www.TailgateScout.com and login using Facebook Connect.

More details coming soon.

MyWebEmbed Gets Page Support and First Bookmarklet

August 15th, 2009
Bill Lazorik

Released two new enhancements to the My Web Embed facebook application. The first is support for pages. If you are one of the admins for a page then at the top of the Edit tab you will see an option to switch between editing your profile or one of your pages. All admins of a page are capable of making changes. The second is the first in a string of Bookmarklets which will make adding videos easier. This first bookmarklet is for YouTube. It is available on the main MyWebEmbed.com site. It was not possible to include in the application since facebook strips out the javascript pieces of the bookmark url. After dragging the bookmark link to your bookmark bar in your browser you will be all set for one click embed adds. Simply navigate to a Youtube page and click the bookmark link. You will be taken to the MyWebEmbed app page for adding a Youtube video and all the fields will be prepopulated. Make any changes you desire and then click the add new embed button. After adding you will appear on the main edit page and at the very top there will be a link which you can click to return to the original Youtube page. I initially wanted to redirect you back automatically, but facebook limits the ability to redirect traffic to other sites. Hope you enjoy these new features and there will be more coming soon! Let me know in the comments if there are any sites for which you would like a bookmarklet added.

New Version Of My Web Embed Now Live

July 31st, 2009
Bill Lazorik

I just finished releasing the new version of the My Web Embed facebook application into the wild! This is a major update that has been in progress for quite some time. One can now add a My Web Embed tab to their Facebook profile and include a profile box on their wall. The user interface has been improved. One can easily move embeds up and down, and there are colors to seperate private and public embeds. There are now “boxes” to group pictures, videos, and other embeds together. The best enhancement is the ability to add pictures, flash objects, and videos directly into the My Web Embed profile tab! Their will be more updates and how to instructions to come soon. Please leave your questions or suggestions in the comments. Thanks for all your support!

My Web Embed Site

Facebook Applicaiton Page

Census Bureau Spends $1.3 Billion On Defective iPhone Like Handheld

January 30th, 2009
Bill Lazorik

Bloomberg posted an excellent article on the current state of federal contracting and the associated waste of tax payer funds. Billions are spent with little oversight and millions payed out in bonuses to companies that fail to deliver. One interesting example was the $1.3 billion spent by the Census Bureau for a handheld computer that would pinpoint the current address and allow for the electronic submission of census data. In comparison development costs for the original iPhone only ran about $150 million. Why contract with a defense company such as Harris when there were plenty of electronics manufacturers who already had capable devices? At least Lockheed had the sense to use modified PDAs in their DisOps system which was recently used for security at President Obama’s Inauguration. In the Bloomberg article Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn says it best, “It’s ridiculous. They didn’t even perform competently. You could do what they tried to do on a cell phone.”

Counting Crows Launch Live Download Site: 10,000 Free Downloads

August 2nd, 2008
Bill Lazorik

Live Counting Crows

Today the Counting Crows launched a new fan website http://www.livecountingcrows.com where live recordings of every future performance will be available for download. The first 10,000 users to register will receive a free download of the Charlotte, NC 7/28/2008 show. The site is operated by Nugs, a turn key music distribution service founded by former CTO of CinemaNow Brad Serling. Nugs operates download services for bands such as Dave Matthews, Metallica, Phish, and the Grateful Dead. Finding alternative sources of revenue is currently a key priority for the music industry and live download sites should continue to grow in popularity. The new site is straight forward and easy to navigate. The concerts come divided up into seperate files for each song. A pop up Java download applet offers a very fast and efficient means of retrieving the songs which are available for two days after purchase. Purchase formats include MP3 $10, FLAC $13, CD $21, CD+MP3 $26. The free Charlotte show was available in MP3 format only. There is no DRM on the downloads, but I was disappointed in the 128kbs bitrate. The only way that pay services can compete with free illegal downloads is buy offering simple to use, high quality products, at competitive prices. The Counting Crows win points for offering their fans a simple and easy way of obtaining DRM free live performances. However, the MP3 quality can be improved and $10 dollars is still too much for a product that requires little upfront expenses and hardly any incremental distribution costs.

3G iPhone: Whats New And Whats To Come

June 16th, 2008
Bill Lazorik

On Monday, June 9th Steve Jobs announced the second version of the iPhone at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2008 keynote. The announcement comes about a year after the initial launch of the first iPhone and today we see that apple has taken some major strides in upgrading its capabilities. Lets take a look at what is new, what is still missing, and what is to come in the future.

First Whats New?

Faster Data Downloads With 3G

Everyone knocked the first generation iPhone for its slow 2G cell connection, but the new version sports a much faster 3G connection that will take advantage of the billions AT&T spent upgrading their network. There was always the ability to connect to an open wi-fi connection, but now nearly wi-fi speeds will always be available for instant internet access whenever it is needed. Due to its large screen and excellent user interface the iPhone was already, in my opinion, the best mobile web device, but with the addition of 3G current Blackberry and Windows Mobile devices lose the claim of faster access and with it any right to the mobile web crown.

Enterprise Features

The initial iPhone was deemed to be just a consumer device by many analysts, but the potential for more was always there. Now the iPhone has the additional software features to make it a true competitor to the Blackberry. Support for email and calendar sync with Microsoft Exchange, remote wipe, encrypted VPN connections, and application push all make the iPhone very friendly to corporate IT departments. The real advantage over the Blackberry will be Apple’s easy to use software development kit which will allow enterprises to create their own apps to take advantage of the processing power, gps, large touchscreen, and simple user interface. Companies can enable all sorts of internal apps for remote use on the iPhone. Imagine delivery companies building remote monitoring, electronic signature, and real time routing software; or slick, simple, and easy to use sales force automation tools. The possibilities are really endless.

GPS For True Location Tracking

Apple introduced location tracking on the iPhone in January with the launch of a feature that triangulated your position using the known location of wifi access points and cell towers. This feature worked fairly well in urban areas, but the accuracy was greatly diminished outside of cities. With the addition of true GPS Apple can have the best of both worlds. GPS gives pinpoint accuracy when outside and is needed for accurate driving and routing programs. The wi-fi and cell towers provide location information if the user is inside or loses line of sight with the GPS satellites. This three pronged combination is referred to as Assisted GPS, and it will turn the iPhone into a powerful location aware platform. There are a number of location based social network startups that have been waiting for this addition to help spur mass adoption of their programs.

Third Party Applications

The real game changer announced at WWDC 2008 is not hardware based at all, but rather the addition of applications developed by companies and individuals other then apple. This is the feature that everyone wanted to see from the beginning, but were instead left with developing web only apps. Now everyone has the ability to create any program they can imagine and make it available on the Apple download site. This capability is what allows companies to create their own internal enterprise applications and startups to build new business based around the iPhone. A few of the launch apps were demoed at WWDC to give just a taste of what is possible.

Sega has a game called Super Monkey Ball for 9.99
Ebay created a free tool for using their site on the iPhone
Loopt is a free location aware social network
Typepad demonstrated a free blogging tool with mobile photo upload (WordPress says they will have one too)
Associated Press – Lauched an app with breaking photos and video, and the ability to send your own photos to them
Pangea Software demos two games ported from the mac in just three days, Enigmo and Cro-Mag Rally
Moo Cow Music’s Band allows users to play virtual instruments
MLB announced “At Bat” for score updates and even video clips available just minutes after they happen
Modality Medical is a educational tool for doctors and med students
MIMvista allows doctors to view medical imaging scans on the iPhone
Digital Legends Entertainment demoed a new 3D game

A quick review of this list shows the diverse areas and fields that can benefit from the iPhone as a platform. Also, if you check out some of the games on this list you will be very impressed with the capabilities of the iPhone as a gaming platform.

What Is Still Missing?

Video Camera

The camera in the iPhone only takes pictures and most phones today are capable of video. This was a feature lacking on the first generation iPhone and one which many thought would be resolved already. However, other companies are stepping in to fill this need using apple’s newly released SDK. Qik and Flixwagon are two such companies which will offer mobile to web streaming video from the iPhone. Hopefully, someone will release an app that also records video to the iPhone. Really Apple needs to step it up in this department and build this funcitonality into a later release of the iPhone software.

Application Persistence

Apple still won’t allow applications to run in the background due to performance and battery life concerns, but they did announce push notifications which will let developers get around the problem of app persitence by sending notifications and updates to the iPhone. The considerations concerning performance are legitimate and this does help certain apps such as instant messaging. However, many types of applications will still need to run in the background to be implemented successfully. I see Apple releasing a secure virtual environment for certain trusted applications in the future. This will allow the iPhone OS to remain independent and regulate the resources used by background applicaitons.

Proper Keyboard

Depending on your phone usage patterns an easy to use keyboard may be your make or break feature. If you live and breath on mobile email then obviously the Blackberry is still the best phone for you. However, if you drift more towards the mobile web, video, music, or gaming then the iPhone is untouchable. I don’t see Apple rushing to release a version of the iPhone with a keyboard anytime soon. Lets see how the 3G version does over the next six months. Apple may release a few UI tweaks to the virtual keyboard and I would think haptic feedback would be in the next version.

July 11th Launch? Why The Month Wait?

Most analysts predicted that the iPhone 3G would be available immediately or at most a week after its announcement. So why are we waiting for its arrival? More importantly, Why did apple allow current stock to run down with the 3G so far away? They are losing almost an entire month of iPhone sales. There were a few people who caught wind of the production delay early. Import Genius was not one of them and they probably need to go back and review their data, because there is no way Apple is sitting on over 3 million 3G iPhones. Their service is definitely interesting, but may still be in need of some fine tuning.

Final Thoughts And Future Features

The 3G iPhone is a welcome revision to Apple’s flagship product and one which adds a host of much desired features. Fast 3G data access, larger 16gb version, cheaper prices (8gb for $199 and 16gb for $299), true GPS, enterprise features, longer battery life, and third party applications. It is still missing a few features which would make life easier for consumers and developers. A better camera, true app persitenence, and a few keyboard tweaks could help the iPhone, but really can’t detract from all the things that Apple has done right. Apple will have its supply line busy trying to provide enough 3G iPhone’s for the world so I don’t predict any immediate hardware revisions. We may see a few tweaks such as more memory as Apple gains production scale due to the synergies of the iPhone/iPod Touch lines. I would also love to see the front facing camera and video conferencing capabilities in a future version. However, the third party applications are the real killer feature. It is this ability which unleashes the iPhone’s true potential as a mobile computing platform by harnessing the combined intellectual and development power of the world. By opening up the iPhone with a very intuitive SDK Apple has brought us the mobile computing platform of the future today. I know Google Android, Microsoft Mobile, and RIM’s Blackberry will provide tough competition in the future. However, it is Apple who has a solution today and will be remembered as the first to bring a mobile platform to the masses.

Photos Courtesy of Apple

WWDC 2008 Coverage:
Engadget
Gizmodo
CrunchGear
TechCrunch


Taaz A New Leader In Virtual Makeovers

April 20th, 2008
Bill Lazorik

Check out Taaz to experience an amazing product that showcases some fairly sophisticated technology. After uploading a picture to Taaz one can quickly modify it by trying out different hairstyles, makeup, and other beauty products. Basically it is a virtual makeover. Besides offering a fun product Taaz is a good example of a Web 2.0 product that is far superior to previous offerings and one which can be free to consumers, but still offer a level of sophistication upon which premium pay offerings can be built. Try it out and you won’t be disappointed.

KidZui Offers A Safe Internet Experience For Your Kids

March 21st, 2008
Bill Lazorik

KidZui BrowserThe internet is not a place to let your kids roam free. It is too easy to find inappropriate material that leads to way too many questions. There are plenty of services which offer the ability to filter the internet and make it a safer place. However, these services have never been truly effective because the internet expands and evolves faster then the filters. This made adding filtering technology in schools and the home a frustrating experience because it was still too easy to find the bad stuff and the filters often blocked material that would be helpful for research. This has always lead me to believe that the only real solution would be a program that allows a whitelist of approved sites instead of trying to blacklist all the bad ones. KidZui has created a product that provides just such a solution coupled with a fun and interactive browser easier for kids to use. It is designed for kids ages 3 – 12 and every website, image, and video accessible has been manually reviewed by trained parents and teachers. The program’s interface will change depending on the user’s age to make the experience easier for younger children and more valuable to older kids. Content is also filtered or allowed based on age and parents can approve additional sites at any time. KidZui is a powerful solution and one which can be expanded to become the defacto standard for a safe internet experience beyond even 12 years of age. The service costs $5 per month or $50 for a year in order to have enough money to pay the individuals who review and approve content. However, there are a few other products that offer a similar solution for free such as Kidzcd or the Glubble add-on for Firefox. The KidZui solution is slick and powerful, but it is difficult to compete with free. What this space really needs is a wiki based solution that parents and teachers can use to collaborate together in creating the whitelist of approved material, which then can be used by all filtering programs.

KidZui: The Kid Safe Browser
KidZui: Browser For Kids

WLazorik Icon Contest Winner

March 14th, 2008
Bill Lazorik

WLazorik IconYou may have noticed that this site lacked a proper icon. To remedy the situation I asked all the wlazorik fans to submit an icon they would like to see. I am pleased to announce that the winner of the icon contest is Kristin. The funny, futuristic, and slightly crazy robot you see to the left will be the new face of wlazorik across the web. Thanks to everyone who put forth all the great submissions, and thanks to Kristin for her winning selection. I would also like to thank my wonderful and very beautiful girlfriend Krista for organizing and running the competition.

GE Paves The Way For Your Next Generation OLED TV

March 12th, 2008
Bill Lazorik

Organic Light Emitting Diode ( OLED ) technology has been in development for a number of years and we have even seen the use of small screens in cell phones and mp3 players. However, the expense of making these screens kept the displays small and limited their uses. Now GE has made a breakthrough by demonstrating a roll-to-roll manufacturing process for organic light electronics. This will drive down the cost and make large living room sized OLED television possible much sooner. It will also be beneficial in the production of solar power cells and high-efficiency lighting. Did I mention that OLED devices are also flexible? Think screens that roll up and lighting where the lamp shade is the light bulb. OLED televisions are superior to today’s Plasma and LCD technologies in every category. If you can’t wait to get a hold of one you can purchase the 11 inch Sony XEL-1 today for $2,500.