Sunday, February 20, 2011

Help wanted in Kigali

So how could this happen? A newspaper in Kigali gets a sudden increase in traffic. May be it is because they are measuring hits not unique visitors. The website is full of ads, each of which generates several hits for each visitor. The website is actually quite good. But the reasoning is faulty. Don't go into a boast about will end in tears.

KIGALI - Shortly after featuring among the most visited websites on the African continent, The New Times web portal registered 13,178,261 hits last month alone.

It literally means that readers of The New Times exceeded the country’s total population by over 2 million, as the newspaper’s online version grows by the day.
At the beginning of this week, 8,254,317 had visited the website this month.

The January statistics show the second biggest number of hits following the over 14 million hits in September and October 2010.

February statistics indicate that on average, Wednesday is the day in the week when the is most visited registering 563,575.33 hits, followed by Thursday with 510, 998.33 hits and Monday with 501,337.50 hits.

The busiest time on website is between 7 a.m., and 9 a.m., 705,290 hits at 7am, 802,789 hits at 8 am and slightly dropping to 655,492 at 9am, indicating that most people in the country and region read the website first thing in the morning.

Rwanda leads the pack of countries where The New Times is widely read, registering 3,231,720 hits, followed by United States with 1,246, 607 and Canada at 647,449 in January and February.

Great Britain followed closely with 540,622, while on the African continent, South Africa leads with 164,793 hits. In the region, Uganda leads 18,216 followed by Kenya with 14,722.

According to The New Times IT and Production Manager, Jean Pierre Twizeyimana, the growing trend is a result of the improved quality in content and a redesigned website.

“Our website has continued to register a considerable amount of traffic in terms of visits and hits, whereby in December 2010 it had 12 million hits and more than 13 million in January 2011,” he said.

“The trend keeps going up by the day. We hope by the end of this year we will have moved to the top 15 of the most visited websites on the continent,” said Twizeyimana.

“The reason behind this growth is because the content has greatly improved in terms of quality and accuracy, and the new design implemented last year is more user-friendly. We are continuing to add more features to make it even better.”

The New Times emerged among the top 25 news website in Africa in a survey conducted by 4International Media & Newspapers (4IMN) of Australia, this year.

Intellgient, cheap USA charger. Unplug and it switches itself off

I have a power block that closes itself down when current is not being drawn. But this is the first time I have seen the technology in a USB charger. The video seems to be an over-the-top promotion for a 13 US dollar charge, but still. When you unplug the phone, the power consumption of the charger drops to near zero.

Monday, February 14, 2011

IPad Killers - Enter LG in Barcelona

I have not really been a fan of LG so far. Bought a phone a few years back and although it has great software and features, it was mechanically poorly constructed and fell apart in my pocket. Now, introducing the LG Optimus Pad designed to be a direct competitor to the Apple iPad. Sleek stuff. Curious to see how Apple is going to react with their iPad2. One point that surprises me is the fact that this iPad seems to have two cameras in it for 3D capture..if I understand the trailer completely.

For the moment I am going to wait and see. And take good note of the what the telecom guys add to the plan. The Motorola iPad likker called the 'Xoom' is still supposed to be launched in the US in a few weeks time on 24th February. Rumoured to cost 800 US dollars, look at the details of the 3G/Wifi plan. There were rumours that you had to buy a 3G plan in order to switch the wifi on! If true, its bonkers. So Xoom is off my shopping list from the start and I don't believe they are going to make the Feb 24th deadline. And the LG is so fresh at Mobile World Congress that I need time to take it all in. It will live of die by the strength of the apps, not just the beauty of the hardware. LG still win the prizes for rebranding. Remember when LG meant Lucky Goldstar and it was a plastics brand that also made toothpaste? I am sure that LG hope you don't.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

iPad for Presenters

It is inspiring to see what's happening in live event studios and the type of technology that is now being put in front of the presenter. During live sports or elections, you now see many anchors standing up and wandering around between tables of guests. So is there a need for them to be in control of the graphics or video sequences by tapping an iPad with a special app on it? You be the judge. I actually would find it useful as an autocue or memory jogger during live stand-ups. Beats a notepad.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Fraunhofer and the Future of Radio on Vimeo

Fraunhofer, the German labs that develop all kinds of coding technology are probably the best known for their MP3 audio encoding system used to squeeze lots of music onto portable music players in the 90's and 00's. They also developed a way to compress the audio onto the now defunct Worldspace satellite system. So what are they up to now? It seems from this interview on the Fraunhofer stand at the recent IBC that they are putting video and text into low bandwidth audio transmission systems. Whilst I see that they have managed to squeeze video into a very tiny pipe, I don't share the sort of Open University for Africa dream that I see demonstrated here. With the number of shortwave transmitters in the region being reduced, and few DRM capable transmitters in the region, that video option may have come too late. So what do you think?

Insights into Radio's Hybrid Future 2011 on Vimeo

It hasn't been an easy path for radio to go from analogue FM broadcasting to a digital future. But the arrival of new IP based platforms has forced a rethink - and I think the path forward is now much clearer. I think broadcasters should be thinking about how to integrate the notion of apps into their programme formats. At the European Broadcasting Union in Geneva, Switzerland they are developing practical proposals to show broadcasters the kind of content that can benefit from radios with screens. That is going to be important as the 2 trillion dollar car industry starts getting rid of the FM radio as a separate device in the dashboard. That is also important because radios with screens may be devices like tablets as well as discrete radios we know and love.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Soluto Antfrustration Software

I first saw this Israeli software mentioned by Robert Scoble and installed it to test it out. It's simply brilliant if you're a Windows 7 user and trying to work out what is causing your PC to slow down over time. Apparently there is more to come in a matter of weeks time. Still in glorious beta. The press room at LeWeb had this strange blue spotlight beaming in to the interview area.

Clipping the web - great tools for researchers

I have no problem stumbling upon all kinds of interesting material, but Googling your bookmarks history is not the best way finding documents, videos and web pages for a second time. As part of my quest to find relevant applications for editors and researchers, I've been comparing various clipping services. There are a few out there, but only a couple that seem to be actively developing new features. I've been playing with Memonics after a chance encounter with Keren Eldad at LeWeb10. I am very impressed. I think its better than Evernote. I see that Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) is also experimenting with it, though I don't think they really explain the potential of the service very well. Memonics really starts saving you time when you're able find the stats you were looking for without resorting to a search engine. Hope they prosper. Complements nicely the features I see in

Kodak's New Camera's

I have been impressed about how Eastman Kodak has embraced social media - and listened to its public of camera users. It has done a much better job than the likes of Sony, Canon and Nikon. And this from a former chemical company! I have been using the Kodak Zi8 for simple reporting work - and it turns out very acceptable video, especially if you add an external lavalier microphone. I'd put it well ahead of the Flip camera just because of the sound quality. I have also tried filimg with an iPhone, but not impressed. In Paris at Leweb10 I saw the camera that's coming next. And do download their tips for social media.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Radio DNS

This is the first in a series of short videos made at IBC-2010 to explain Radio's connected future, or perhaps "hybrid" is a better description. In this segment, Nick Piggott explains the bridging function that RadioDNS will provide and the problems it will solve for the global radio industry. I think the great thing about RadioDNS is that the concept is simple, it is already implemented in some countries and it works with any kind of FM or digital radio.

To me it is the equivalent of the decision in 1963 to adopt a 19 kHz pilot tone to switch on the "stereo" indicator on an FM radio. RadioDNS deserves the same instant global hit (and therefore rapid adoption). See for more information.

Radio and cars of the future

Leweb10 continues to surprise, becoming a sort of SxSW for European entrepreneurs. At the one just held in Paris, Renault Nissan gave away the keys to one of its new electric city vehicles, the Twizy. Delivery will be at LeWeb11 in Paris in December 2011. Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn suggested that there will always be a market for personal mobility. The car industry needs to adapt to maintain its position as the most desirable object for most people. That means responding to concerns about energy - but also opening up the car as a platform for application developers rather like the iPhone and Android. Hopefully the personal mobility industry, worth 2 trillion dollars we're told, will be able to agree on some open standards to avoid the developer nightmares we've seen in the mobile handset space. Sit back and watch the demo of the first in a series of new Renault electric cars. And then join me in working out what radio needs to do to be part of the application boom that is coming to in-car entertainment. Radio needs to remain part of personal mobility as the car radio disappears as a discrete device.

Camtasia, Lectures & Screen Capture

At the recent Leweb conference in Paris, I bumped into two people who know more than most about capturing conversations. Many colleges and universities spend a fortune providing lectures to under a hundred students at any one time. Even some of the better learning institutions have not found a way to capture that knowledge on video so that it can not only be viewed again later but also used for distance learning. I'm surprised this isn't being given a higher priority. Techsmith certainly have worked out a lot of answers, focussing on keeping capture as simple as possible. Yes you can capture a screen with a standard keyboard action. But you can't manipulate it as easily without SnagIt. Cheap program that's saved me hours making Powerpoints or Keynotes.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Christina Fox on what's better than DSLR

I need a new camera to replace my ageing HD cameras that rely on tape. I have done quite a lot of research into the use of DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) stills cameras for video work. And for that "cinema" look (shallow field of depth), I have been tempted.

Until I went to the Panasonic stand at IBC 2010.

Now that the PR hype around the show has finished for this year, time to reflect on what I really saw. I am helped in this video by Christina Fox, who is a brilliant trainer and camera specialist. She runs an excellent site at, where I see she is also changing the line-up of cameras she trains on. If you want a great briefing on video journalism, then Christina is definitely the one to hire. She's run several workshops at IBC and always manages to keep them fresh, practical and relevant.

Looks like this new breed of video cameras will turn up in January 2011. Hope my Sony lasts out until then.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Paper Li as a Production Tool

Launched in Spring 2010, Paper.Li (the Li is for Lichtenstein) turns your Facebook or Twitter feeds into a daily newspaper. Currently the service is being used in over 200 countries, with the main markets being the US, UK, The Netherlands and Japan. The site currently has software to support automated compilation in English, German, Spanish and French and there are plans for Dutch, Japanese and Mandarin. They have around 130,000 daily "newspapers" and the system is growing at a rate of 1000 a day. It will be curious to see how the public copes with this sudden explosion in on-line publications. I think the idea is great - although I am being very selective on the number of "subscriptions" I sign-up for. Even though they are free, they do take up valuable attention time. So keep to measured doses and follow people with important things to share. Frankly, I find the conversations are becoming stronger on Facebook - and that's reflected in my preference for for Facebook. A couple of radio producers and I are using to get reactions to the programmes formatted in a useful way. So its become a contribution tool rather than a distribution platform.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

PearlTrees - The next Delicious for collaboration

PearlTrees Presentation
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks

I understand the rumours are still quite strong that Yahoo wants to get rid of the collaborative bookmarking tool Delicious. Frankly, after experimenting with it in about 2005, I stopped using it. I had problems with plug-ins on various browsers. It had a cutsy URL in those days which I couldn't remember. It probably wasn't the Delicious extension that kept crashing my browser, but when I got rid of a lot of them, out it went too.

Since then I have been looking for three things:

- a method to keep and sort stuff I find on the web in a logical way, especially related videos.

- a method to share those collections with others and share bits of it with others who subscribe to an alert service I run for clients.

- a method to dynamically display the results, so that any updates are also reflected. That's the problem with blogs. Once you have snagged a copy of an Excel sheet or graph and put it into a blog, it's frozen.

I stumbled upon what could be the answer at a bloggers dinner organised in Paris by a French start-up called You first need to sign-up and sign-in, set up a free account and a simple profile. Then install extensions into your favorite browsers. Then, as you surf the web, you can bookmark your discoveries and send the links automatically to Pearltrees. Each website is a pearl and each pearl can be dragged and dropped into what I call an "interest tree". It's more like a virtual biscuit tin when you can store goodies, but also make very clear connections between the pearls rather like Mindmapping.

What struck me was the clever way in which you can then share this with other Pearltrees users. If someone else is working on a dossier about "community radio stations in Ghana", I can invite that person to collaborate on a document. That person does have the rights to change (and potentially destroy) the document rather like Wikipedia. But because you have only granted them access to that bit of your network, it is a great way to collaborate and build trust. I've found quite a few journalists and entrepreneurs working with Pearltrees - basically taking it for a ride to see what it can do.

You can also publish your trees and then embed them into a blog. Whenever you go to that entry, the website grabs the latest version of the pearltree.

Downsides? Not many. But you need to remember that what you're storing are links, not actual content. So if someone posts something like a video or a document which you capture as a pearl, it will disappear if that document/video ever goes off line. For that reason I am experimenting with downloading documents to my dropbox and then posting stuff from there.

Pearltrees was born at LeWeb2009. They have already come a long way since. It's a small team of 12 people working in Paris, but I got the impression its a tight-run ship and a brillian team of developers. I am expecting great things...(reposting now I finished the video).

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Boost to the Broadcast Industry - instant mobile sites

I've been following the progress of a Norwegian mobile technology company based in Trondheim, Northern Norway that keeps coming up with ideas that bridge the mobile space with creative broadcasters. have built template-based software which allows journalists and copywriters to build websites that look good on smartphones. The challenge is that most standard websites look great on a big screen - lousy on a small one. Broadcasters are finding that advertisers are interested in mobile sites (more so than banner ads) but they want to see results before they sign anything. That reminds me of the radio ad business where creatives spent hours in the studio writing dummy ads simply to impress the client. Oystein Skiri was at last year's IBC in Amsterdam and the recent WAN-IFRA conference for editors and publishers in Hamburg. I asked him to explain the problem they have solved.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Mobile Trends 2020

Met Rudy at Leweb10. What a nice guy. Lives in Barcelona.

My Plan for this site in 2011

Happy New Year. Currently working on a new series of presentations researching into the integration of social media with traditional broadcasting. A lot of international media seems to be collapsing at the moment, but the ways of storytelling on emerging platforms has never been more exciting than now. Would like to work with more creative companies working on the next steps for storytelling... I also really enjoy organising break-out sessions (2-3 days) to come up with a media strategy for the next three years. Trying to do more of that. I am using this site to share the stories that I find on my travels. It's kind of like what I used to do on Media Network, but more visual. So what are your plans?