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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Web 2.0 Conference Notes From The Field

Went to the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. It was a small show but it had some of the fun elements I look for in a high-tech trade show. There were plenty of companies I had never heard of, and no one could explain what "Web 2.0" means.

According to what I saw on the exhibit floor, Web 2.0 is either Enterprise Social Networking, Web Applications like Google Apps or "Platform As A Service" (PaaS). These are really three completely different things; it looks like the Web 2.0 moniker will have to live with this fractured definition, probably until the term becomes old hat.

Enterprise Social Networking seems to be MySpace for companies. I see FaceBook filling this market niche already, but there are a whole bunch of little startups who are making software or services that will outfit a big enterprise with a private version of MySpace. Related to these companies are the enterprise wiki companies all doing products like Google Sites.

There were plenty of web application companies on the show floor too. Again, Google is doing this with Google Apps. Honestly, I'm not quite ready to drink the web application koolaid quite yet. I still need the richness of an application like Microsoft Word to produce printed documents. But, given the size of the market represented by Microsoft Office I am sure it will only be a matter of time utill the quality of the applications, offline capabilities, and really useful groupware functions will drive a significant part of the market to web applications.

I suppose if I had to pick my personal favorite definition for Web 2.0, it would be Platform as a Service. I think this is the most important trend identified at the conference, because it represents the largest potential stake of the future of technology.

It doesn't take much to realize that what Platform as a Service represents could be as significant as Windows OS or the TCP/IP protocol stack. And the key to it is developers. As this idea begins to catch on, more big applications like salesforce.com will be deployed using a particular PaaS provider's APIs and other programming tools. Salesforce.com realizes this and they have been courting developers right from the beginning to get them to use Force.com as a programming platform.

There were plenty of other big players at the Web 2.0 show to court developers with their PaaS offerings, including Microsoft, Amazon.com, Entelos, and Yahoo. I suppose the real question here is whether any of them will be able to catch up with salesforce.com's tremendous lead. Experience shows that betting against the leader in high-tech marketing is usually a bad idea, so let's all start learning the force.com platform.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Berkeley Logic Knows Adwords

There is a lot to know about online advertising. From organic search results to pay per click models, content networks to "meta-tagging," online advertising seems to have a language of it's own. Every day, our emails link to claims of mastery, "27 secrets that adwords won't tell you," how to make a bazillion dollars, how to get hits, how to increase traffic, how to do just about anything with Google behind you. There are SERP's, CPC's, PPC's, URL's, CPM's, Keywords, Adwords, Adsense, Banner Ads, Radio Ads, Yahoo!, MicrosoftLive, and Google. Indeed, there seems to be an entire universe that you could get lost in if you only had the time.

Well, don't worry too much, because Berkeley Logic has been spending our time surveying the online advertising world. And, We have some good news- Online advertising works!!!

But beware, there are tricks. No, it doesn't mean that Google is trying to trick you, but there are ways to use their online advertising campaigns that simply work better than others. Berkeley Logic is dedicated to helping our customers get the best results for their advertising dollars. And yes, results in cyberspace can be linked to our willingness to spend. Indeed, we recommend refocusing those advertising budgets that traditionally went into print media, and re-allocating them to the new world of online ad campaigns.

If you have the time, read up on Adwords at the Google site. Once you've done that, try and apply your new-found knowledge to a real and active Adwords account. Make sure that it is linked to your website through the Google Analytics code. This is a "white hat" trick of the trade. "White hat" stands for an accepted practice. "Grey hat," and "black hat" marketing moves should be avoided by all but the unscrupulous. If your still not getting the hang of online advertising with Google, you may want to take a seminar on the topic. Berkeley Logic recommends the Google sponsored seminars like the one run by Sitening.com . They are fast paced and informative, but may help those who have a little bit of background in the field more than the laymen.

Remember, Online Advertising is a little bit art and a little bit science. Don't get too frustrated, be patient, it takes time to see results. If you would rather, Berkeley Logic can help you. In fact, running online advertising campaigns for our clients is the fastest growing sector of our business. We can create advertising campaigns for your website and/or business. We have reasonable fee structures that allow you to budget according to your needs and abilities. With Goolge Adwords, you set the limits. There are no surprise fee's on an account that is run correctly.

Whatever the case, Berkeley Logic recommends that you take your money out of the dying print market and move it to the blossoming online world. We know that it can bring newfound success. If for some reason you don't want to do it all yourself, We would be happy to help you!!!
Thank you for reading our blog.
Matt Angell at Berkeley Logic

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Review of Netgear Powerline HD Network Kit (HDXB101)

by Vernon Keenan, April 6, 2008

Powerline To The Rescue

Using an unreliable wireless network connection is huge waste of time, and can be quite infuriating. I'm sure many of you have had an unforgettable experience when your wireless connection failed at the most inopportune moment. Or, you might be mystified why you can't get a desktop computer to connect using WiFi to a new router in the next room.

What is the ambitious home networker to do? Is he or she doomed to spotty connections forever? Never fear,
Netgear comes to the rescue with its Powerline products. Using Powerline adapters is the smart way to network media centers, servers, and desktops in the home and small businesses.

Powerline technology works by plugging two-pronged adapters into regular home power sockets. When two or more of the adapters are plugged into the same power network they link up to create an Ethernet network.

I use these handy devices by connecting one to my router, and the other to my desktop computer upstairs. They work magically with no set up required. They also work well in very large home or dormitory. You can have up to 16 Powerline devices. I have used three Powerline devices to make a three-node Ethernet network in my home without any problems. It couldn't be simpler.

Once you have an Internet router plugged into one end of the Powerline Ethernet bridge and a computer plugged into the other end, the computer will have a direct Ethernet connection to the router. No special software is needed on the computer to use an Ethernet bridge.

Ethernet bridges are very useful because they are universally compatible with any Ethernet device. That means that Powerline Ethernet bridges are compatible with a game console, SlingBox, WiFi access point, and anything else with an Ethernet port. You can easily "split" an Ethernet connection with a $20 Ethernet switch. I think this will be pretty useful in a modern living room with a Media Center PC or MacMini hooked up to a HDTV setup.

The modulated signal used by Powerline encrypts the digital data, which enables separate data networks to exist on the same power network. There is a Windows application used to control these advanced features. Most users won't ever need them.

I have used several of Netgear's Powerline products. They have Ethernet bridge kits which include two matched devices. They also have WiFi versions where one end is an Ethernet bridge and the other is a WiFi access point. They also have three different speeds you can buy, and the speeds don't all interoperate! I have to say it is confusing picking just the right product to order.

I have used the Netgear Wall-Plugged Ethernet Extender Kit (
XE102G) with no problems whatsoever. I added a standalone Wall-Plugged Ethernet Bridge (XE102) to have a total of three Ethernet nodes. I have also used the WiFi access point Powerline Wireless Range Extender (WGXB102). I did have reliability problems with the WiFi access point functionality, and I don't recommend using Netgear's wireless Powerline devices. I worry about heat and other factors inherent in this design. I do definitely recommend the pure Ethernet solution.

I wasn't really impressed with the speed of the XE102 bridge, however. It wasn't any faster than a good wireless connection. So unless you need it, there really is not a speed advantage. That was why I was eager to try out the newer Powerline HD Network Kit (
HDXB101). They claim a 200 Mbps top speed.

I bought my adapters at Frys in Concord, California. They had them in stock for the same price ($169) as on their web site.

I set up my new adapters with one in the basement connected to the router and my servers, and its twin upstairs next to my desktop. Everything worked super smooth on the first try. I attained a top speed of approximately 40 Mbps. Now that is actually pretty good, hitting right in middle of the 100 Mbps capacity of most Ethernet devices. That speed should allow for streaming of an uncompressed DVD with no problems.

It is interesting that Netgear claims a top speed of 200 Mbps because the Ethernet port on the HDXB101 is 100 Mbps! Technically, it is impossible for the end user to ever see 200 Mbps. I suppose this marketing claim can be substantiated because they have overhead due to the encryption or some BS. Funny how things never change in Silicon Valley.

In conclusion I heartily recommend the Netgear Powerline Ethernet bridges. I'd recommend sticking with the kit packaging for the straight up bridges. That would be the HDXB101 for the high speed, the XE103G for the medium speed and the XE102G for the low speed. According to Netgear the XE* units will interoperate, but I have only tested the XE102G and have never used the medium speed units. I suppose a followup to this review would be to compare the speeds of all three units to make sure there is some real value in the faster, and more expensive, units.

Happy networking! I hope this ends a frustrating situation for someone. Please let us know with a comment below! -- Vern