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Firesheep And Protecting Your Wifi Connection – A Few Thoughts And Best Practices

You probably already knew that wireless network security isn’t perfect. If you travel anywhere and use wifi anyplace other than your own home network (with all of the proper security elements in place), you need to take a look at this Wikipedia Article on the topic.

What does this mean to the non geek? Enter Firesheep, a FREE Firefox plugin that will allow anyone on an open wifi network to do some damage to anyone else on the same network silly enough to be surfing without some form of protection. Does Firesheep do anything new? No, it just proves how stinking easy it is to do some real damage on an open wifi connection.

What do I do about the whole issue? I use WiTopia.net and their Personal VPN service. It’s just $40 a year and works on my laptop, iPad and iPhone.

A cheaper (free) option is Hotspot Shield. It’s a free (and reported Spyware/Adware free) program that works on both the Mac and PC. It’s provides a VPN without cost, but you do “pay” for it with a series of ads that they embed over your browser, etc. It could be worse, and you can’t beat the price – but the big issue is the face that it doesn’t provide an iPad, iPhone, or other portable device option.

Below is a video called “Firesheep And Wifi Security – What To Do And How To Protect Yourself” that I put together for eMarketing Vids. It puts pictures to the concepts. Click through if you can’t see the embed below.

What are you doing about Firesheep and/or Wifi security? I’d love your thoughts below.

Today’s Starz On Netflix Announcement Is Big

As reported, people who use the Netflix streaming service, can now get movies from Starz (the cable movie channel). Right now, out of the box, you can stream movies like Spider Man 3, Enchanted, and Dan in Real Life.

Earlier I reported on a product called PlayOn that let’s you stream Hulu.com and some other sources right to your Xbox. Their $30 product at the time “promised” coming Netflix integration but I really don’t like to report until we know for sure.

They turned on Netflix integration last week. It didn’t get much attention but was a very impressive implementation. I was going to do a quick video but then with this morning’s announcement …

So now, as you can see in the video embedded below, you can get streaming videos from most of the television networks on your television set. With the Netflix/Starz announcement, you’re not just stuck with Netflix’s “limited” streaming library but you now have access to a premium movie channel’s library, all on demand.

Remember that Microsoft will be introducing a direct Netflix option with their Fall Xbox update the eliminates the need for the Playon product. It also doesn’t bring you Hulu or any of the other sources (so far) and costs $50 a year.

Once you figure out how to connect this all, total access to all this goodness (via the Netflix account) is less than $10 a month.

Remind me why people pay for cable again?

2007 Podcast Predictions

As mentioned earlier in the month, I didn’t ace my 2006 predictions, but that won’t stop me from making my token predictions for 2007. Here they are:

  • All Podcast Crazy Money Q1 and Q2. There is more “crazy money” to be spent in this industry, but it will go quickly – and the VCs will soon start asking for profit over buzzwords. This will only be good for the industry as it will get us asking the right questions, not debating the benefits of one camera over another.
  • Microsoft “Embraces” Podcasting. It will happen at some point this year. I put “embrace” in quotes because, honestly, I don’t know how effective their embracing will be. It will, however, be a starting point, and it will be smart of us to play along. Read my Zune Manifesto for more on this point.
  • Multiple Paid Content Mechanisms. We’re already seeing a bunch of ways to buy television and movies online (see my Year of Living Digitally experiment for more) – the jump to people selling their own product can’t be far away. This mixed with a need to monetize will bring more pay-for-play Podcast content. Some of it will be worth the money.
  • Wireless iPods and “True” Wireless Zunes. The first “thrill” of Podcasting was watching your content (with incredible ease) whenever and wherever you wanted to. The next “thrill” of Podcasting will be the ability to grab that content (with incredible ease) you watch whenever/wherever you want to. The PMPs know that they need to add wireless to fight what the phones are doing. It will happen, en masses, in 2007l
  • Not A Single Blogger or Podcaster Gets On Oprah For Being A Blogger Or Podcaster. As we head into next year, we need to keep our heads on straight. The content we’re producing is incredible and the impact on the future of media is undenible – but our audiences are still tiny and it is still much more complicated than it needs to be to get this stuff. It is the responsbility of us early adopters and producers to fix these issues now, quickly and easily, so that one day (hopefully soon), we’ll see a Blogger or a Podcaster on Oprah for doing just that.

Will 2007 be Podcasting’s year? Don’t know yet. I do know that I’m betting my farm on the future of this channel and media. I also haven’t been more excited about a calendar year than this one.

And I’d love to hear your predictions as well. FWIW, I also talked these over with Alex Mandossian in Marketing Online Live #45. Please do post your comments and thoughts below.

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2007 – The Year Of Living Digitally

Update: The Year Of Living Digitally Blog Has Launched

Things are going to be a little different in the Colligan household next year.

In short, all media that comes into our house will be delivered, legally, over Internet.

How am I going to pull this off:

Music – Rented and digitally purchased only. I’m guessing at this point an iTunes/Yahoo Music hybrid for commercial stuff? Perhaps the Zune Marketplace if they clean it up a bit? Of course, I’ll need to stream this all over the house.

Television and Film – A mix of iTunes, Amazon Unbox and the Xbox Live Marketplace. Perhaps some of the online options like CBS Innertube if I go with a Media Center and can run it easily from a remote. I also expect/know that I’ll be watching a lot more IPTV stuff.

For TV and film, I (and the family) might be watching a lot less crap that I did this year. That’s just a bonus.

And, when the iTV project from Apple is finally released, I’ll be able to put it to the real test.

Mix that with a marked increase in Podcast consumption and, well, I think it will be a great year.

Magazines and Newspapers – PDFs on a Sony Portable Reader and RSS on a Nokia Internet tablet. Perhaps something printed now and then, but I’d love to go as green as possible here.

But, I’m the easy one to convince.

I ‘ve got a 1st grader and a preschooler who luv the kids show. I’ve got a wife who loves the fix-it-up-shows. I’ve parents who like to babysit and if I don’t have something for them to watch once the kids go down, that’s just cruel.

Sounds like the makings of a cool blog and Podcast series, eh?

This is also a pretty big investment on my side. Getting an entertainment system that will handle this hybrid won’t be cheap.

So, two things here.

1 – Any suggestions from my readers on how to make this as cool and as seemless as possible would be greatly appreciated. Tips on making it as affordable as possible would be great as well.

2 – Any corporations in this scene who want to sponsor this experience, go ahead and contact me. Sure would be cool to get your products in the videos audios, and blog mentions that will come from this, won’t it? Corps that don’t want me saying exactly what I think should not apply.

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The Mobile Podcasting Test, Report #4 – The “Experience”

So, what did I think of my Mobile Podcatching test?

Audible Air made it very possible for me to pluck content from the air.  Worked perfectly but, honestly, yesterday, it wasn’t the content I was looking for.

Everything else wasn’t worth the effort.

For you mobile/phone/Podcast companies – what do you have that “works?”

And, by the way, the whole “call a number to hear a Podcast” meme – doesn’t work for me at all.

On today’s (much smaller) roadtrip, I’m back to my Nano.

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The Mobile Podcasting Test, Report #3 – VoiceIndigo

O.k., now we get to the stories of what didn’t go well at all

First, disclaimer:  This was my very unscientific test.  Who knows, maybe my Treo 700p is a dud.  I was dealing only with the 700p out of the box (with Audible Air and Audible installed).
But, sadly, somehow I doubt it.

VoiceIndigo is the site the Palm brower homepage offers under the term “Podcasting.”  If you read the press releases they have this big strategic partnership.
The site offers a small directory of Podcasts, but let’s you sign up for your own account, which is what I did.  I put the usual suspects in there: This Week in Tech, Podcast 411, Podcasting Underground, etc.

Issue #1: Streaming – They have a streaming option for Podcasts.  Seems like an interesting approach.  You get that tinny thin sound that comes with low-bandwidth streaming (no matter what tech you use) but you don’t have to download any files ahead of time (and it works from your browser).  Problem was this – about 5 minutes into any stream (and I tried a number of them), the Palm would die on me with some sort of “Malformed” error in the media player.  My only option – to start the stream over again.

Streaming Suggestion:  If it don’t really work (and if I don’t work on a $500 smartphone with a EVDO connection, I can’t imagine where it really would work), don’t advertise it on the site.  It is only going to really frustrate users – as it did me.  Kill it until it is ready for prime time.

Issue #2: Downloading (and Chunking) – VoiceIndigo gives the user the option to download the file instead of streaming.  Makes sense – and I do have a 1 Gig card to put stuff on.  No option to download the original file (I do have me a 1-gig card and the EVDO) is problem number one.  They had “chapters” of each file (which, best I can tell, is an arbitrary chunking).  Since I had listened to the first 5 minutes of chapter 1 many times, I selected chapter 2 for download.  Listened to all of chapter 2, but then it ended and I realized I had to download chapters 3, 4 and 5 to listen to the rest.  At that point I gave up.

Downloading Suggestion:  A) Let me download the uncompressed file.  B) If I download a chunk, next screen ask me if I want to download the rest of the chunks in the series as well.

Issue #3: Personalized Pages – So, I went in (before the road trip) and signed up for some other shows.  I put them all under the default “My First Channel.”  When I logged in, there were only a few shows on the first screen – most of them I had already listened to.  No problem – I’ve already registered – I got shows in “My First Channel.”  When I click “My First Channel”, I get a blank screen.  Tried it multiple times at multiple different times (even once this morning).  That feature don’t work.

Personalized Pages Option:  They need to work before you let me click on them.

Issue #4: Podcatching App – They have an app called “VoiceIndigo Mobile.”  Description sounds great – screenshot looks good.  Nothing for me Treo.

Podcatching App Suggestion: Something for me Treo.

In short, VoiceIndigo – great idea – not ready for prime time yet – at least prime time on me Treo.

VoiceIndigo competitors – got something that works on me Treo?  I like the concept and got the phone (and a 1 gig card).  What can you do for me?

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The Mobile Podcasting Test, Report #2 – Audible Air

In short, it didn’t go well at all.  If it wasn’t for a few long phone calls on the trip, I would have gone out of my mind.

We’ll start with the good news.  The one shining star was Audible Air.  This did everything that it was supposed to do.

When I wanted to download an hour of content, it took a little less than 2 minutes (2 minutes of silence for one hour of content is a fine trade).  And, of course the “theory” behind Audible Air is that my phone would download that content the night before – so this wouldn’t be an issue.

I’ve been a monthly subscriber to Audible for some time now so I had a long library from which to choose from.

Had no current subscriptions in the queue, so there was no way to get some recent news on any topic.

The only problem – Audible Air only does Audible.  Not only was this restrictive in what I could get to work on the only wireless Podcatching engine I could get to “work” but I hate situations (and I think all customers do) where I have to switch between two different programs to do the same task.

Audible, want to make me really happy?  Let me use Audible Air to download any Podcast I want.  I can’t imagine it is that much more of a coding issue (maybe just add an import OPML) – and use the bandwidth of the host.  Yes, I know there are a few hoops to jump through but let me tell you this.

So far, you’re the only thing that works.  How would you like the whole market of wireless Podcasters running a program with your logo on it every day.

Just a thought.

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The Mobile Podcasting Test, Report #1

Here’s your first report on the Mobile Podcasting Test.

Could not, for the life of me, get the WLAN on the N91 to work.  I’m sure it works, I saw it work on the show floor, but it didn’t happen for me.  Got nothing to take with me on the road – it’s all Treo baby – and I haven’t even left yet.

I WILL NOT LISTEN TO RADIO ON THIS TRIP.

To Nokia’s defense, directions were for European audience who talk about WIFI in a very different way/meme than we do – I’m sure I’ll get a walkthrough once our friends overseas read this post 😉

It was a good episode of The Unit though.

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6 Hours in The Car – No iPod – Just Phones – The Mobile Podcasting Test

Tomorrow I’m visiting a few friends at a small software company in Redmond. Don’t worry, you’ve never heard of them.

It is a six hour drive round trip. I will be taking no iPods with me. No traditional single-purpose MP3 players go either. This a test of this phone Podcasting meme that everyone seems to be pushing these days.

In intend on listenin’ to a whole bunch of Podcasts on the trip.

The Rules: None of my content for tomorrow is retrieved via a computer. They all come wirelessly on the phones – or I don’t get to listen tomorrow. I can’t tell you how boring I find traditional radio.

Equipment: I will be armed with a Nokia N91 and a Treo 700p. The Nokia is compliments of a contact made at the last Corporate Podcasting Summit and the Treo 700p is thanks to me never being willing to sign anything less than a one year contract with any wireless provider.

Connectivity: I plan on syncing up my Nokia tonight on the house Wifi while watching The Unit (Tivo – of course – so we only got about 47 minutes). For the Treo – unlimited bandwidth by Verizon – and hopefully great EVDO for a good chunk of the trip.

Content: Podcasts from Nokia’s Podcast interface for their N9x series phones. For the Treo, Audible Air content and Podcasts from VoiceIndigo.com – the default Podcast engine for the Treo user.

Stero Integration: Purchased adapter from Radio Shack to put the Treo into my cassette adapter. Nokia providers adapter in box.

How will it turn out? I’ll let you know on Thursday.

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