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Archive for August, 2007

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August 9th, 2007

Photos to be obsolete in a snap?

Photos to be obsolete in a snap?

The BBC reports that researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing a software that can automatically remove unwanted elements from photographs and replace them. The example given is a photo of a bay, shot from behind a mountain. The software removes the meddlesome rock and replaces with a clear shot of the sea from an image library.

In the same way that professional comedians don’t steal each other’s jokes, there’s an ethic that professional photographers should not copy each other’s angles. Taking a photo is about composition and being in the right place, as much as it is about using a camera. And, like the secret of great comedy, the secret of a great photo is timing. So what’s left when you take away the need to be in the right place at the right time? Stock photography. Photos edited like this won’t be faithful souvenirs of what the photographer saw, so what’s the point of taking them?

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August 6th, 2007

Prompt shortlisted for B2B Marketing Awards

Prompt shortlisted for B2B Marketing Awards

Much excitement at Prompt today at the news we have been shortlisted for the B2B Marketing Awards, due to be held in November.

We entered our Blog Monitor product in the category of ‘Best New B2B Marketing Product or Service’. The Prompt Blog Monitor is a web portal that we customise for each client, which lets them track coverage of their brand and products across a wide range of social media platforms, from blogs and podcasts to online video-sharing sites, photosets and ‘citizen journalism’ sites.

We provide each subscribing client with daily email alerts and weekly reports to let them know who’s talking about them, and how influential those people are. We also make recommendations for engagement when appropriate.

We’re chuffed to have been shortlisted as we’ve put a lot of thought and effort into building this product. We’re already helping a very diverse set of clients to understand what’s being said about them in the social media world – which is the first step towards engaging with audiences on social media platforms.

For those clients who choose to engage further, we offer a portfolio of social media services ranging from blogging consultancy to the creation of professional podcasts and advice on the most effective use of social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

The awards ceremony will be held at The Brewery in the City of London on 1st November this year. Wish us luck!

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August 3rd, 2007

Why is Microsoft releasing an ad-supported word processor and spreadsheet package?

Why is Microsoft releasing an ad-supported word processor and spreadsheet package?

Microsoft doesn’t quite understand free software, does it? Its biggest threat comes from open source (even if that’s probably not a very big threat at the moment), but free software isn’t just about price competition. It’s also about how good the software is.

That’s why I’m stunned at Microsoft’s announcement that it will release an ad-supported version of its Works suite. Works includes a word processor and spreadsheet, both pretty basic last time I saw them although that was many versions ago now. In the US, it sells for £20. So the question is whether you would rather have adverts flickering away on screen all day while you’re trying to concentrate on your work, or whether you would prefer to stump up the £20. It’s a no-brainer.

If they were releasing the full Microsoft Office Suite for free, it might be different. You might reasonably think it’s worth tolerating adverts all day instead of forking out the price of a short holiday for the software. That might be a particularly good deal if you can’t afford to buy the software and really do need its additional features. You can probably stick a post-it note over the advert anyway.

I can’t see the release of an ad-supported version of Works being anything but a failed experiment if the goal is to get people to opt for the ad-supported software. There’s not enough value on offer in exchange for people tolerating the adverts. Although, given that most people receive Works pre-installed, perhaps this is just an opportunity for Microsoft to build in another revenue stream and bug customers into buying an upgrade sooner.

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August 1st, 2007

Let's just switch everything off and be done with it

Let's just switch everything off and be done with it

According to the BBC, delegates at the Professional Association of Teachers’ annual conference backed a motion calling for YouTube to be shut down. The reason is that the site has been used by students to communicate bullying messages and death threats against teachers.

Web forums can be used for communicating ideas and can sadly be abused by some to intimidate. Bad behaviour usually makes up a tiny minority of all activities. So web forums are basically a lot like schools. Given that they spend all day hanging around classrooms, I was surprised then that there was no mention of the Professional Association of Teachers voting to close down schools, then.

At first, I thought maybe the teachers’ argument was ill-conceived. But then I read that Elton John is calling for the whole internet to be banned. Elton John said: “The internet has stopped people from going out and being with each other, creating stuff. Instead they sit at home and make their own records, which is sometimes OK but it doesn’t bode well for long-term artistic vision. Hopefully the next movement in music will tear down the internet. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span.”

Can’t argue with that. Shall we switch it all off at half five then?

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