Mozy on over and get your $76-million

Mike Arrington has the news over at TechCrunch that Mozy has reportedly been acquired by EMC for $76-million. If true, that’s a pretty nice payout for a company that has raised relatively little venture capital.

I don’t use Mozy on a day-to-day basis, but I tried out an early beta and have used it off and on over the past year or so (I’ve also tried and several other competitors), and I have to say I’ve been very impressed. It is easy to use and configure, and appears to be fairly light as far as system resources are concerned — everything one could want in a Web 2.0 storage app.

I interviewed CEO Josh Coates awhile back for a story I wrote for the Globe, and he impressed me as well — a very smart guy, who started Mozy’s parent company, Berkeley Systems, using technology developed while studying large-scale database management.

We talked about Google’s much-rumoured GDrive, as I recall, and he said a true “web-based hard drive” would be a difficult thing even for Google to do, let alone offer free of charge. But the rumours continue.

Randy Pausch: Grace under pressure

While browsing Metafilter — one of my favourite sites of all time — I came across the incredible story of Randy Pausch, a computer-science professor at Carnegie-Mellon and pioneer in the field of virtual reality who is dying of cancer. Even though he had about 12 tumors in his liver at the time he made this video presentation, and was given no more than three months to live, he appeared as healthy as any 46-year-old — and even dropped to the stage and did several one-handed pushups to prove it.

The video presentation, which he gave at Carnegie-Mellon to a packed auditorium, is called “The Last Lecture,” and is a tribute to his friends and colleagues, mentors and partners, his parents and his wife (the couple have three young children). He talks about his childhood dreams, and how he achieved or came close to achieving most of them — from being an astronaut (he flew on the Vomit Comet astronaut trainer) to writing an article in the World Book Encyclopedia and working at Disney as an Imagineer.

Along the way, he describes the lessons he learned in how to achieve your dreams, and how much fun it is to help others achieve theirs. Among other things, Pausch created a pioneering cross-disciplinary program in artificial reality at CMU, and also started the Alice project, which uses game design and video to help teach young students — and particularly young women — how to program and design video games.

I have to say that even without knowing Dr. Pausch, it’s difficult to watch the end of this video — when he effectively says goodbye to all of his friends, students and colleagues for the last time — without getting verklempt.

Techmeme and Google Shared Stuff: WTF?


It seems to be gone from Techmeme now — but still. Very weird.

Original post:

Tony Hung at Deep Jive Interests has mentioned this too, but I’m not sure whether the problem is Techmeme’s or something that has gone squirrely with Google’s Shared Reader. A post entitled “Full Video of Ukraine Air Show Disaster 2002” has been climbing up Techmeme for the past day or so, and as you can see from the screenshot it has reached the top.


That, as Tony points out, is pretty weird. But it’s not the weirdest thing. The weirdest thing is that the link goes to a Google’s Shared Stuff page — not the page of stuff that I’ve shared, as it turns out, but the page of stuff that my friends and contacts have shared. So when I go there, I don’t see anything about video of the Ukraine Air Disaster. I see links from Pete Cashmore of Mashable and K. Paul Mallasch and Mark Evans and people like that.

Whose page of shared stuff has the video? Why the heck is it at the top of Techmeme? These and other questions are crying out to be answered (okay, not crying out — begging maybe). The only sub-link to the Ukraine video post the last time I looked at Techmeme was a post by Kevin Gamble entitled “Google Shared Stuff confuses me.” You and me both, Kevin.

My eulogy: Good riddance

I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time on it, because frankly it isn’t worth it, but I thought I should take note of the fact that — the video-streaming experiment from Alliance Atlantis that launched with much fanfare (or at least a big, fancy party) in March — is getting the chop. According to an internal memo from CanWest, its new part-owner:

“When the site first launched back in March, initial traffic surged, but then declined and over the past quarter we’ve seen a steady decline, indicating that high usage is not likely.

Moreover, the site has not produced the sales interest we expected, and as such we felt that winding the site down was the most fiscally responsible option.”

In other words, it tanked. I don’t want to be accused of saying “I told you so,” but well… I told you so. Before the site was even out of beta, it seemed clear to me that it wasn’t going to work — primarily because it was restricted to Canadians only (in part because of a licensing agreement with the Israeli company that developed the platform).

As much as spokespeople for BlogTV and Alliance tried to argue (as they did in the comments on my post) that the restrictions were a feature rather than a bug, and that Canadians wanted a kind of playpen/ghetto where they could share with other Canadians, that just never proved to be the case.

Amanda splits with ABC — does anyone care?

I remember not so long ago, the news that Amanda Congdon was splitting from Rocketboom — the video blog she either co-created and co-owned or was hired to front, depending on whom you believe — was the biggest news in the blogosphere. It was all over Techmeme for days, as everyone pored over her blog posts and comments by Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron (which I wrote about here after he responded to an email).

rocketboom.jpgNow, there are reports (since confirmed) that she has parted company with ABC — where she was doing occasional video reports — and there has been barely a peep. Why? Hard to say, really. I think that the attention she got when she left had a lot to do with Rocketboom, and what her acrimonious departure said about it as a new media venture (hint: don’t give the talent 49 per cent of the venture unless you really mean it). And the fact that she could go from a video-blog to a major TV network also said something about old media turning to new media for talent.

So why the lack of interest now? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that one of the reasons is that she just isn’t very good. She was quirky and refreshing in a way when she was on a show filmed in some guy’s basement (and yes, she has a couple of prominent assets as a video-blogger), but on TV she is just… well, irritating. That hasn’t stopped other people from a successful TV career, but most of them have had actual talent to fall back on.

Is Google the new Global Crossing?

You know a Web company is getting big when they want their own undersea fiber-optic cable. According to a report at CommsDay, which appears to be a fairly reputable telecom site, Google is working on a plan with a group of other companies to lay an undersea cable to provide dedicated bandwidth between the U.S. and Asia. The perfect addition to the more than 35 massive, power and bandwidth-gobbling server farms the company runs.

Google’s involvement in this “Unity cable,” as it’s being called, would make plenty of sense. According to various reports, there is a glut of cable-laying ships, so a cable could be laid without costing too much — and owning a chunk of that bandwidth would give Google a cost advantage over Microsoft and Yahoo, the same rationale that has been given for buying all that “dark fiber” that the company has reportedly been accumulating.

So yes, it makes sense. But it still reminds me of Global Crossing, one of the stars of the late 1990s that eventually became one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history, with $12-billion in outstanding debt (the company was eventually acquired by Singapore Technologies).

Is Google in any danger of suffering the same fate? Unlikely. Global Crossing over-spent its way into debt, and made outlandish claims about the future demand for undersea bandwidth (claims which everyone agreed at the time were completely rational, of course). Google appears to simply be looking at buying a stake in one such cable. But it still makes me nervous 🙂

Goodbye magazines, hello blog-azines

Congratulations to Mike Arrington on hiring Erick Schonfeld as co-editor of TechCrunch — extending his hand to the Business 2.0 writer and editor as he stepped from the wreckage of Time Warner-owned magazine, which has gone down in flames. Erick seems like a solid writer and a pretty good blogger too, and should be a great addition to TechCrunch.

As Ashkan Karbasfrooshan also discusses here, this is just another in a series of dots connecting the decline of magazines — particularly tech-related magazines, although celebrity-oriented mags aren’t doing all that well either — and the rise of blogs. As Ash points out, Jason Calacanis and Nick Denton both gave the process a big push with Gawker and Weblogs Inc.

Om Malik gave things another boost when he left Business 2.0 to run GigaOm. That spurred editor Josh Quittner to give all of his writers blogs, in an attempt to blend the immediacy and community that blogs generate with the relatively stale environment of a monthly magazine. He even tried to compensate them based on the traffic they generated. And now, Business 2.0 is no more.

The inescapable fact is that if you’re interested in anything remotely time-sensitive — technology (and particularly the Internet), news about celebrities (where and PerezHilton rule) and even sports or investment-related news (Marketwatch) — then some kind of blog platform or Web-based magazine just makes more sense than print.

It’s not that the two can’t co-exist — they can, and Business 2.0 may have given up the fight too soon — but the Web is the most important part now, instead of just an add-on or afterthought. Tony Hung wonders whether TechCrunch will still be a blog, but in many ways it and GigaOm and the Gawker and Weblog sites are hybrids. Maybe we should call them blog-azines 🙂

Warning: bitchy Canadian telecom post

It’s all well and good that our dollar officially hit parity with the U.S. greenback today, but it sure would be nice if we could get something approaching real competition in the mobile telecom market in Canada. Then maybe certain carriers who shall remain nameless — but whose names start with a B and rhyme with “hell” — wouldn’t be able to pull stuff like this.

As Tony notes, and Michael Geist also describes here, Bell is promoting a $75-a-month “unlimited” data plan that uses a wireless PC card — but it has some pretty ridiculous restrictions. Not only does it have an umbrella clause that says you can’t use your connection in a way that “consumes excessive network capacity in Bell’s reasonable opinion,” but it also tells you what you can’t do with your connection, and that includes:

“multi-media streaming, voice over Internet protocol or any other application which uses excessive network capacity that is not made available to you by Bell [or is used to] operate an email, web, news, chat or other service.”

So you can’t use it to stream video, do VOIP or even run a chat server. What the hell else are you supposed to do with it? I’m surprised they didn’t throw file-sharing in there too — but that’s probably included in the definition of a “web service.” Tony says that there are also reports that this so-called “unlimited” data plan is capped at 250 megabytes. Classic.

Alec Saunders has been down the limited/unlimited road before, and it isn’t something that is confined to Canadian carriers either, as Mike Masnick notes over at Techdirt. But still — come on.

Google gets into the social swing

There’s a small army of Google-watchers out there, and one of the best has to be Ionut Chitu at Google Operating System, who regularly comes up with things that others miss (Google Blogoscoped is another one). And last night, he posted about an interesting move by the Web behemoth to expand its social-networking features by adding something called Google Shared Stuff.

social_penguin1.jpgThe new service isn’t exactly easy to get to, since you have to add a bookmarklet, and it isn’t exactly revolutionary — as both Ionut and Tony Ruscoe of Google Blogoscoped describe it, it is a fairly simple service that allows you to share links with your friends. You can create a rudimentary profile (mine is here) and that’s about it.

One interesting thing about Google Shared Stuff — apart from that thrillingly original name — is that it doesn’t try, as so many similar services do, to replace existing tools such as Digg or (which is like a backup brain for me). By clicking on a button after you share a link, you can easily post it to Delicious or Facebook, Reddit, Digg or Furl.

I also found it odd — as Ian Betteridge does — that Google’s new sharing service doesn’t integrate items that are shared with Google Reader, but perhaps that is coming. Radioactive Yak and others believe this could be the first piece of Google’s rumoured “Maka-maka” social net. Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read/Write Web says that it still needs a bit of work, and he is right.