Archive for October, 2009

PostHeaderIcon Google Sends Another Letter to the FCC Explaining Voice

Google has provided additional information to the FCC’s regarding Google Voice. You might remember that Google already responded to FCC’s questions about Google Voice and why a mobile app for it was rejected for the iPhone.

This time, Google Voice is responding to concerns raised by AT&T about restricting calls to select area codes, something telecommunications carriers are prohibited by law from doing.

In the most recent letter to the FCC, Google said they’re not a telecommunications carrier because their service is not open to the public and it’s free. Indeed, Google Voice is available by invitation only and is free – for the most part. Still, the public can request Google Voice invitations and they must pay for international calls. Google says, though, that international calls only make up 4% of calls placed through Google Voice.

Instead, Google calls itself an information provider:

Google Voice constitutes an “information service” under the federal Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 153(20), because it offers users “a capability for generating, acquiring, storing, [and] transforming” information of the user’s choosing. The Google Voice number is a personal number for managing the user’s connectivity in one place, and it is not associated with an underlying telephone access service.

Google maintains that Voice as a web-based application, but stresses it’s not VOIP.

Google Voice is a Web-based software application. It is a single, integrated unified messaging and call management offering that is completely distinct from the user’s existing telephone access lines/services.

Google’s strongest argument is that you can’t simply sign up to Voice as a telecommunications provider. Instead, Google Voice is used to manage the telecommunications services you’re already signed up to.

Importantly, prospective users of Google Voice must subscribe to one or more traditional telecommunications services to be eligible to create a Google Voice account. The Google Voice system will require that a unique US telephone number be verified before an account will become active.

What truly looks to be the problem is that Google Voice is a combination of information and telecommunications services, which doesn’t fit existing (and now outdated) descriptions of providers as set by the FCC and Congress. Ironically, both AT&T and Google probably have similar goals here: to bring government regulation up to date with how technology has progressed.

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PostHeaderIcon DJ game aims to buck predictions

By Daniel Emery
BBC Technology reporter

A video-game that boasts rap artist Jay-Z amongst its advisors is hoping to capitalise on the popularity of music titles despite poor sales forecasts.

DJ Hero will be launched in the UK on Thursday and allows players to emulate their music-mixing idols.

Its publishers hope it will emulate the success of Guitar Hero, the rock-based game that let users jam along to tracks using a guitar-shaped controller.

However, games analysts believe the game will not sell as well as expected.

"We remain very cautious about the title’s prospects at launch," Doug Creutz at analysts Cowen and Company said in a report.

"A survey of online retailers indicates a demand profile that is well below what we would have expected to see just a few days before launch for a title that was destined to be a big (or even modest) hit."

The company has reduced its US sales estimates for the fourth quarter of the year from 1.6 million to 600,000 and its first year estimate from 2.5 million to 950,000.

"We still believe that DJ Hero will be an important part of Activision Blizzards music franchise strategy, but we think it may take a few versions of the game for it to reach its full market potential," he wrote.

‘Bonus tunes’

DJ Hero, which is developed by British studio FreeStyleGames, was announced in January 2009 and made its first major public debut at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles. It is already available in North America but goes on sale in the UK on Friday.

Players use a plastic turntable, three button controller, effects dial, and cross fader to mix over 100 tracks, triggered by on-screen prompts.

Rap artists Jay-Z and Eminem, who acted as advisors during the games development, will also offer a track as downloadable content for the game.

There are also 10 bonus tracks that can be played with the Guitar Hero controller and mixed alongside DJ Hero tracks, resulting in a hybrid song that is both rock-riff and scratch.

Johnny Minkley, editor of Eurogamer TV, said that he had been trying the game out for over a week and, so far, was hooked.

"I’ve played guitar most of my life, so playing Guitar Hero didn’t feel odd and I found that having played the real thing helped.

"However, I have never used a set of decks in my life, so I went into this game blind but it turned out to be really fun and it’s got me wanting to try out the real thing."

There are some big differences from other music games, beyond the obvious turntable controller. While other games have you jamming along to existing tracks, all the music on DJ Hero was custom made for the game.

"The game plays a very clever trick, in that you think you are changing the music, even though it is really a pre programmed soundtrack," said Mr Minkley.

There are no shortage of music games on the market.

In addition to new titles, there have been numerous add-ons to existing games, such as Beatles Rock Band and Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.

Mr Minkley said that users were getting a little wary of the sheer volume titles available, but that DJ Hero was different enough to set it apart from the pack.

DJ Hero controller

"There has been a lot of cynicism towards this title, but having played it, it feels genuinely fresh," said Mr Minkley.

However, the price of the game may put some users off.

DJ Hero has an recommended price of £109, although there are reports that retailers are reducing this to below £100. Guitar-based titles have retailed from between £49 and £75,

The concept of karaoke-style games, where players strum, sing, and drum along to musical tracks has grown into a multi-million pound industry following the launch of the first Guitar Hero by US developer Harmonix in November 2005.

Following a split with publisher Activision, Harmonix went on to launch the rival series Rock Band. The latest instalment – Beatles Rock Band – was released earlier this year.</p

This article is from the BBC News website. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

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PostHeaderIcon Advertising “Click Fraud” Rampant Online?

“Pay-per-click,” by far the most popular form of online advertising, recently came under fire as charges of rampant “click fraud” gather steam on the Web.

Google and Yahoo! earn the majority of their money through sales of advertising to tens-of-thousands of online merchants, companies, and professional.

In fact, some estimate that 99% of all Google’s revenue comes from advertising sales. Unfortunately, allegations of click fraud may well rain on Google’s otherwise sunny parade and cause a whole scale revamping of current online advertising practices.

Pay-per-click advertising does exactly what it sounds: advertisers pay for each click on their ad, usually mixed in among search engine results or displayed on relevant websites.

“Click fraud” occurs when, for whatever reason, an ad gets clicked by someone or something (usually an automated “bot” that simulates clicks) with no intention of ever buying anything from the advertiser.

The sole intention of click fraud is to simply drain an advertiser’s budget and leave them with nothing to show but an empty wallet.

Who commits click fraud?

Usually an unscrupulous competitor who wants to break a rival’s bank, online “vandals” who get their kicks causing other people grief, or search engine advertising affiliates who want to earn fat commissions by racking up piles of bogus clicks.

Regardless of who does it or why, click fraud appears to be a growing problem search engines hope stays under their advertising clients’ radar.

This problem isn’t exactly news to the search engine giants.

In fact, on page 60 of their 3rd quarter Report for 2004, Google admits that they have “regularly refunded revenue” to advertisers that was “attributed to click-through fraud.”

Google further states that if they don’t find a way to deal with this problem “these types of fraudulent activities could hurt our brand.”

Bottom line for Google and Yahoo! (which owns Overture, the Web’s largest pay-per-click search engine): as word of click fraud spreads across the Web, they must act quickly to calm the nerves of advertisers who could well abandon them over doubts about the veracity of their advertising charges.

The search engines all claim to carry measures that identify and detect click fraud, but details about how they do it and to what extent remain sketchy.

They claim revealing details about security would compromise their efforts and give the perpetrators a leg up on circumventing their defenses.

This sounds good, but affords little comfort to advertisers who feel caught between losing out on their best traffic sources and paying for advertising that won’t result in revenue.

One way to protect your business against click fraud is to closely monitor your website statistics.

Look for an unusually high number or regular pattern of clicks from the same IP address.

If you need help, enlist the aid of your hosting provider to aid you in spotting suspicious trends in your website traffic.

Also, a number of services have sprung up online to help advertisers spot and quickly analyze and compile the data necessary to effectively dispute fraudulent click charges with the search engines.

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%%Advertising “Click Fraud” Rampant Online?%%

Advertising “Click Fraud” Rampant Online?

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Article Source: The Only Yard For The Internet Junkie
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