Not yet.

Jeremy is going to try web-only email for the next 30 days, comparing Gmail with the new Yahoo! mail.

I wish him luck, but I just couldn’t do it. It isn’t that I think that the tools aren’t adequate. It’s the state of net connectivity today.

I need access to my mail anytime, anywhere. But the current state of the net gives me access at home, at work, and at the occasional WiFi hotspot. This is by no means pervasive.

And even when I have a decent connection, it is far from a guaranteed service. Do I want to trust all of my email to my ISP, who may try to provide excellent service, but really has no backup plan there is a power outage, or a problem upstream from them.

I think that we have a little way to go before I feel comfortable switching to a web-obly service. It sure would make life simpler, but I just don’t have the confidence yet.

The Broadcast Flag returns.

Now the MPAA and RIAA are teaming up to control everything you see and hear with an even better (for them) Broadcast Flag:

This will be tricky, since the Broadcast Flag essentially demands government interference with every digital AV product on the market.

Ah, but how about — no, that’s far too sneaky. But…perhaps…

Listen. Suppose our sympatico politicos carve out a bunch of Digital TV provisions that, in fact, do have something to do with government finance? Suppose they stick those provisions in the Senate Commerce Committee’s reconciliations bill (due October 26th), where they’re practically untouchable?

But some key clauses on which these provisions depend will be omitted. Consequently, it will it be vitally important that Congress passes another Digital TV bill to fill the gaps.

That Digital TV bill will contain — oh, look at that! — the Broadcast Flag language. Oh, and the RIAA’s Digital Radio Broadcast Flag, too, just for the sake of completeness.

Now our friendly politicians can tell their colleagues that the Digital TV Completion (née SOCPUPT) bill is an essential part of the reconciliation process, and must be passed as a matter of urgency before the compulsory reconciliations come into effect!

Oh, yes. That is good. Really, you’ve outdone yourself, major Hollywood conglomerate!

Your only remaining challenge: choosing language to put in to the reconciliations bill that actively requires a Broadcast Flag in the secondary bill.

I’m not sure where the folks at the EFF are going for humor or horror. One thing’s for sure though. If this passes there will suddenly be a vibrant market for formerly useless VCRs, since that old technology is the only thing you’ll be able to use to record a program.

So much for 20 years of technological advancement. In the US anyway, because I’m sure that China will just move ahead.

Ed knows best.

Ed Zander, Motorola CEO, doesn’t like the iPod Nano:

“Screw the nano. What the hell does the nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?” Zander said. People are going to want devices that do more than just play music, something that can be seen in many other countries with more advanced mobile phone networks and savvy users, he said.

Lots of people apparently. Solutions Research Group found that on average, iPod users have 504 songs in their libraries [PDF]. Of course this is coming from the company whose phone is arbitrarily limited to 100 songs, but hey, Mr. Zander knows what you want to do much better than you do anyway.

I wonder how he would feel if Apple released their own phone? Let’s recall that iPod customers pay full price for their products, rather than the heavily discounted prices for cell phones, many of which are often free when customers sign up for a plan.

The Motorola cell phones are pretty slick, but it looks like all handset manufacturers are riding a wave of increasing mobile phone sales. Motorola is doing a good job improving their fortunes though, and Mr. Zander certainly deserves some of the credit for that. I’m not sure that the phone going to be the be-all and end-all platform of the future, especially given the current nickel and dime mentality of North America operators.

Update: There’s more at digg.

Garbage in, garbage out.

Robert is searching for the Toshiba Gigabeat music player and doesn’t find the Toshiba site. He thinks this is a search engine relevancy problem.

I actually went to http://www.toshiba.com and http://www.toshiba.co.jp/worldwide. No mention of the Gigabeat. No search box. No user friendly way for me to even know the Gigabeat exists. In fact, I couldn’t even find it there.

Search engines index web sites. If the manufacturer web site doesn’t mention the product, then the search engine will never know about it.

Toshiba is a big company, and consumer devices make up only a small part of the product line. They aren’t going to pay much attention to them. Apple on the other hand lives and breathes iPod. And the search engines have no problem finding Apple as the first hit when you search for “iPod”.

Search engines can only find what is there. They can’t yet make inferences. And that isn’t a relevancy problem.

Though Robert is correct in saying that there is still room for improvement in search.

Giving it away.

It seems that giving your software away, a la open source, is becoming a good way to get VCs to give money away to you:

Cornelius Willis, vice president of marketing at SourceLabs, admits that the market is hot, with the year-old company occasionally receiving unsolicited calls from venture capital firms.

“We have a healthy level of investor interest, but it doesn’t feel like a bubble to me,” said Willis, who led sales and marketing at Qpass during the Internet boom years. “In order for the lemmings to jump over the cliff, there has to be a lot of lemmings headed in the same direction. In Seattle, we just don’t have that many lemmings.”

Despite the worries of a bubble, venture capitalists say that the open source movement represents a huge opportunity. And some believe that creative business models are now being formed that resolve one of the biggest issues for the VCs. That is: How do you make money on something that is developed and distributed for free?

Andy Dale, a partner with Buerk Dale Victor in Seattle, said open source software companies such as SugarCRM and MySQL have demonstrated the power of dual licensing agreements where they bundle together proprietary and open source software. Other open source companies are encouraging free downloads, but then receive revenue from technical support contracts.

For Dale, those innovative ideas help resolve the money making question.

“What is so great about open source, from an investor and an intellectual viewpoint, is that it creates whole new ways of thinking about business models,” Dale said. “We are still at the early stage of understanding what the potential is, but five years from now, we will look back and realize that there all different ways to do this.”

Tip of the hat to the Venture & Angel Capital Report.

Get the Spark.

So your kids aren’t getting enough caffeine? That won’t be a problem anymore when your pre-teen starts drinking Spark, which provides the same caffeine as a cup and half of coffee, without the nasty aftertaste. And a different formulation for teens provides twice the caffeine.

And some parents love it:

But Angela B. Foster, whose 12-year-old daughter, Taylor, is featured in another endorsement for AdvoCare products, said in a telephone interview that Spark was safe and helpful for not only Taylor, who practices 20 hours a week and is hoping for a college scholarship in gymnastics, but also for her 11-year-old brother, who plays soccer and runs track, and her 7-year-old sister. “We use Spark for all of them,” Foster said.

The Foster children use the teenage and adult version, with 120 milligrams of caffeine, even though it is labeled as not for use by children. “They don’t use the kids’ stuff,” Foster said. “They said it tastes too much like Kool-Aid.”

In her endorsement for AdvoCare’s children’s products, Taylor said: “I have more energy and I like them a lot. I would suggest that anyone try them!”

Fortunately we started our kids on espresso as soon as they were off the bottle, but this would have made things a lot easier.

Looking a gifthorse in the mouth.

Edgar Bronfman, CEO of Warner Music Group, and the man who can seemingly turn $1 billion into $1 million, wants his cut of iPod revenues:

Mr. Bronfman said the music industry should not have to use its content to promote the sale of digital music devices for Apple or anyone else, and not truly share in the profits.

“We are selling our songs through iPod, but we don’t have a share of iPod’s revenue,” he said. “We want to share in those revenue streams. We have to get out of the mindset that our content has promotional value only.

“We have to keep thinking how we are going to monetize our product for our shareholders,” added Mr.Bronfman. “We are the arms supplier in the device wars between Samsung, Sony, Apple, and others.”

Funny, but the iPod was selling just fine when people were downloading music from Napster and Kazaa. It seems like iPods are the weapons, and you can get the bullets anywhere.

iTunes has save the record companies’ butts, and they are getting 65 cents per song for doing nothing, while Apple handles the sales and distribution.

The DVD business has taken off too, but Mr. Bronfman isn’t asking for a share of DVD player revenue. And he isn’t asking for a share of the iPod competitors’ revenue either.

It sounds a lot more like iTunes is promoting the sale of content than the other way around. Perhaps Mr. Bronfman should just shut up and take the money before customers find an alternative.

Hat tip to Engadget.

Driving less.

The mantra of those who purport to care about the environment is that Americans should drive less. But what if you just can’t?

The New York Times examines that thought today:

“People can’t change where they live,” said Richard Porter, an economics professor at the University of Michigan. “They can’t change where they work, and there aren’t any clear substitutes to gas. You can’t run your car on much else. It’s not like switching from oranges to grapefruits.”

I know this well. The company I am currently working with is about 60 miles from my home. They are very gracious in allowing me to telecommute, but I still need to go in a few days each week.

The hours and the location make it difficult to carpool, and I do not have the option of public transit. And most people in the same situation would have the option of reducing gas consumption at all.

We have built a society that is predicated on cars and roads. Wishing that away just isn’t going to happen, and unless we are willing to more to mass telecommuting, or companies are willing to locate smaller offices in different cities, then we can’t just suddenly change.