Monday, January 29, 2007

Shiny Media sells 50% for $4.5m funding


The UK's largest blog network Shiny Media, has secured $4.5m in funding from Dan Wagner's venture capital arm, Bright Station. Dan Wagner bought the tech remnants of ill-fated Boo.com and built e-commerce supplier Venda and search engine Locayta.

Shiny Media set up by Guardian technology contributor Ashley Norris, Chris Price and Katie Lee has grown from the initial Tech Digest to now 22 blogs with 3 million readers monthly.

Their blogs are grouped in four main sections. Shiny Tech including 'James Murdoch's favourite' HDTV, Shiny Sport featuring Who Ate All The Pies, Shiny Fashion with Shoewawa and Shiny Lifestyle with the exquisitely named Bayraider.

Commenting on their funding, Ashley answers the question why they need $4.5m at a cost of 50% of the company:

1) competing with mainstream media.
2) developing the commercial side of our business.
3)
video is the future for blogging.
4)
expanding our range of blogs.
5)
eyeing up new horizons.

"Why Bright Station Ventures? Well we have worked really hard to develop Shiny and we wanted like-minded entrepreneurs who were prepared to ‘sweat’ with us, not just look over our shoulder. Shaa and Dan are both dynamos who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. They don’t just bring the backing of an exciting new fund to Shiny, they also bring experience, contacts and the kind of commercial nous Shiny needs to achieve its goals."

The significance of this deal is likely to be resonating around the blogosphere for some time to come.

Photo of Ashley Norris courtesy of ProBlogger

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tainted cookies from Downing Street


Like many people, part of their routine is running anti-spyware and adware programs to bolster their firewall and anti-virus defences.

So last night trawling through the usual suspects picked up by Ad-Aware, I found a couple of quarantined files from The Guardian and one from CNet plus a few clearly ad-related. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But lodged amongst them was a first appearance from "uk.stat.com/primeministersoffice/downingstreet."

Hunting down the cookie details shows it allegedly expiring at the end of the session as opposed to many that optimistically expire 35 years from now, such as Google's. (Show me a PC in regular use that will function and be active 35 years from now and I'll be impressed). As Simon Willison points out 'How many people are going to go a whole ten years without losing their browser’s cookies, through a browser upgrade, PC upgrade, change of job or just wiping the cookie directory?'

The question remains why would a cookie from Downing Street appear as spyware? and more generally 'when do cookies become spyware?' Stefanie Olsen at CNet looked at this way back in 2005. She defines 'Spyware as denying people reasonable control over the application -- the ability to easily uninstall it, for example. And, as its name implies, it typically spies on people while they're surfing the Web. It can collect passwords, bank statements and other personal data, down to the keystroke.'

Olsen reports that Richard Smith, a privacy and security consultant said "some anti-spyware audits are padding the potential threat to create the impression that they're doing more work than they really are to protect consumers."

It is curious that Ad-Aware picked up 'primeministersoffice/downingstreet' and makes one wonder why an 'innocuous cookie' would be quarantined as spyware. 10 Downing Street has a detailed Privacy Policy page that states 'Ned Stat, an independent measurement and research company gathers non-personal data regarding the visitors to our site on our behalf using cookies and code embedded in the site'.

Yet why
the Prime Minister's Office's cookies and code appear as spyware is not clear.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Does the iPhone live up to the hype?

First impressions of the iPhone are pretty damn good. After years of speculation regarding the iPhone, endless rumours and plenty of creative visualisations, the big day arrived.

Steve Jobs at Macworld in San Francisco unveiled a credible touchscreen device, with a high degree of innovation. It has 200 patents including the intriguingly named 'Accelerometer', plus Proximity sensors and Visual Voicemail. Priced at $499 for the 4GB version and a very steep $599 for 8GB Flash storage capacity.

Thankfully Engadget blogged the keynote in real time, with enough galleries to satisfy Apple's most enthusiastic fanatics. (Engadget had 10 times normal traffic during Job's keynote peaking at nearly 10 million page impressions, although there is still some confusion whether or not this takes into account page refreshes).

Mike Butcher also has an easy to digest round-up of the iPhone's key features gleaned from TUAW, Paidcontent, Crunchgear and Engadget.

In a refreshing note of balance, Ben King at Channel 4 asks "Why are we so obssessed with Apple?"






Tech Paparazzi's Verdict
: Without personally having used the the iPhone, this is mainly based on Steve's keynote: While there are always going to be detractors predicting failure it seems to exceed the hype, appearing to carry the iPod wow-factor and usability to the iPhone. Guy Kewney at the Reg thinks there will be a demand for the abandoned scroll wheel and reckons it will reappear in hardware version 1.5. But surely the scroll wheel could appear on the touchscreen in an upgrade.

Europe will have to wait until Christmas '07 or early 2008 until it ships this side of the pond.

Monday, January 08, 2007

on the way to Las Vegas for CES


There was no fog that day.
Originally uploaded by Tolka Rover.
from Flickr, tagged CES, originally uploaded by Tolka Rover

Sunday, January 07, 2007

keeping faith


keeping faith
Originally uploaded by stoneth.
Second image from a set of photos titled Poverty by Tom Stone (via kottke)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

life and death


life and death
Originally uploaded by stoneth.
From a powerful set of 161 photos titled Poverty by Tom Stone (via kottke)