In this special episode of the NosillaCast I tell you about the exciting new products I heard announced at DEMOfall 08. Check out all the videos at demo.com.
Say Where from dialdirections.com
Plastic Logic from www.plasticlogic.com/
TravelMuse from travelmuse.com
RealDVD from RealNetworks
YouGotPhoto from UGA Digital
Semantifind from semantifind.com/
Maverick Secure Mobile from maverickmobile.in
Rocketron from rocketron.com
Listen to the Podcast Once (39min)
Today is SATURDAY September 13th, 2008, and this is show number 169. No, I’m not doing the show a day early, and you DIDN’T miss the live show on Ustream.tv/nosillacast at 5pm GMT-8 on Sunday nights, this is a BONUS episode of the NosillaCast highlighting the tools I found most interesting at the conference DEMOfall 08. I have to be honest here, I had never heard of DEMO before Jan Ziff introduced me to Chris Shipley at the All Things Digital conference in May. Chris runs DEMO and graciously invited me to attend as her guest. I don’t know how I missed DEMO though, it’s been around for 18 years and is a FANTASTIC conference. you know I love to shmooze with the big guys, making people take their picture with me and all, but that’s not what DEMO is about. DEMO allows 72 vendors to come on stage and in SIX MINUTES demonstrate something they’ve never shown before. It’s a perfect format for people who have ADD like me – I only listen for six minutes ANYWAY, so why talk to me for 30? For the first time I was able to concentrate 100% of the time, not goofing around doing chat or Twittering at all because if you blink you miss an entire demonstration!
the conference was two days long, with about 3 hours straight of content followed by two hours in the Exhibit hall and then back for another 3 hours of content. Grueling but fascinating. One of the things that made DEMO so delightful was how well run it was. Chris and her team have been doing this for a long time and it shows. With a room for 800 attendees, there were tables for everyone, 4 wifi antennas along the walls, power at every other row, and even very high speed wired ethernet in the first 6 rows for the press. By high speed, i mean it was 4mbits down and 6 up! so I would have been pretty much in heaven anyway even if the conference were lame.
I did some audio interviews of some of the demonstrators and I also have some commentary on other ones I liked. Let me start with one I DIDN’T like though, just so you realize that I’m not a big ol’ fangirl yapping about everything being wonderful. I sat next to a guy at dinner who was VERY enthusiastic about his new product and couldn’t wait to tell me all about it. He was such a nice guy, but his vision was so very misguided. The software they’ve written runs at the OS level, supposedly not as an application, and it creates video of the keystrokes that someone with root privileges on the system creates. The idea is to track your employees so you can see what they’re doing when they have root access. ok….that’s a little weird, but I can see why you might be paranoid in that way, but VIDEO? How would you search video? keyloggers make more sense because that’s just a text file. He said they’d have metadata. lame. But the real comedy came when he talked about how the system he’s going to sell forces the system administrator to ask their MANAGER for PERMISSION to have root access! The software kicks in and tracks actions in video only after permission has been granted. you’ve GOT to be kidding. I was a manager of sys admins for 18 years and if I learned ANYTHING from that experience it was that I was too stupid (or uneducated or unskilled) to be able to provide any technical advice at all! I asked him why on earth he felt the manager would be QUALIFIED to decide whether someone should use root access, and he said, “oh, well, maybe they’re not qualified but many people like to feel as though they’re in control. YIKES! That’s when i realized that he will probably be financially successful because the people he would sell this to are the MANAGERS. What a horrific mess. anyway, he also told me that their tool is “uncrackable”. I was taking a sip of water at the time and it almost came out my nose when i started laughing. I tried to keep a straight face and asked him if he’d passed it by Black Hat and he said, “what’s that?” Holy cow. One last funny part, I asked him what he thought sys admins did all day that did NOT require root access, and he didn’t know. sigh.
Ok, let’s talk about some stuff that IS good and interesting.
Let’s star off with an iPhone application – Say Where from dialdirections.com.
========insert Say Where interview=============
One thing I noticed was that it’s not really a hands free application, because you do use the iPhone touch screen to choose the application and define what you want from Say Where, but the great part is you never have to type on the iPhone keyboard the name of what you’re looking for. The iPhone keyboard for me is pretty good for normal words and sentences, but when you have to type in someone’s name, or a company name, it’s a nightmare. I put the DIRECTIONS phone number (347-328-4667) in the shownotes for you if you want to try it out on a regular phone or if you can’t wait for the iPhone app to be approved!
If you’re interested in ereaders like the Kindle and the Sony eReader, you might be interested in the Plastic Logic device from www.plasticlogic.com/. Plastic Logic has developed a proprietary plastic electronics technology to create an 8.5×11 eReader targeted towards business. This is very much an in-development product, but their demonstration showed how durable the units will be because of the plastic rather than glass screen. I know of several people including my good friend David who had the screen spontaneously break on their eReaders (David actually contacted Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer to get his replaced as Sony wouldn’t replace it for him for free!) so having an indestructible screen sounds like a good plan. the guy showed a video of hitting a glass screen with the heel of a shoe and of course it shattered, but the Plastic Logic screen did not. Not exactly a controlled experiment but it was memorable. I got a chance to hold the prototype and some dummy mockups and the Plastic Logic is very thin, very light and had a huge display as I said. This will be interesting to watch when it comes out for the masses.
by the way, in case it wasn’t clear, it’s spelled MUSE. I’m the one in my family who plans all of our family vacations, and while we always end up on fantastic trips with great hotels, the planning process drives me bonkers. I hate trying to think up new places, trying to decide which hotel to stay in, trying to juggle my family’s calendars, and then get concurrence on the whole plan! this next interview about TravelMuse may be just what I need.
Now when I tested out TravelMuse, I found that it only returned four locations when I asked it to “inspire” me. I asked Eric about that and he explained that their system does such intense crawling of the sites they show you that they promised they wouldn’t do more than 4 at a time until they got their algorithm tuned a bit more to be less intense on the sites. Even with that restriction it’s a really interesting site. Check out travelmuse.com for your next trip!
One of the most ANNOYING demos at the show was by the folks over at RealNetworks who are FAMOUS for doing exactly what they did – demonstrating a Windows-only product. To be fair there WAS one whole entire other vendor who demo’d a Windows only product, but the other 70 did not! I should also mention that one vendor had a Mac only application. ANYWAY, Real claims they’re working on the Mac version, but it was so frustrating because their app looked really cool. the app is called RealDVD and it was a LEGAL way to rip and organize your DVD collection. Imagine iTunes for DVDs. You stick in a DVD, and you have a couple of choices – play, play and copy, or just copy. Believe it or not, you can play a move real time off of a DVD while it rips the movie! They demonstrated exactly that so I saw it with my own little eyes. Once the DVD is ripped in, they pull the actual album art and other info about the movie from the internet, and display it beautifully in the player. you can sort by genre, PG-13 type ratings, and title. they even demonstrated how you could keep a catalog of DVDs on an external drive and just plug it in and those movies joined seamlessly into your RealDVD library.
I’d really like to know how they got the movie labels to allow them to legally copy DVDs because I could have sworn it’s technically illegal according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act! On my tour through the exhibit hall I talked to the Real guys and tortured them for coming out with a Windows-only program, pointing out to him that 20% of the home market is now on Macs and why would they want to purposely blow off 20% of the market? the guy was cool and said “hey, we’re working on a Mac version!” to which I derisively pointed out, “Oh yeah, that’s what you said about Real Player a year ago at D5!” to which he quietly pointed out, “well, we DID come out with RealPlayer 11 with all the functionality we demonstrated at D5.” to which I said, “oh. never mind.”
Here’s an inteview with the General Manager of UGA Digital where he explains the concept behind their product called You Got Photo:
===========INSERT YOUGOTPHOTO INTERVIEW============
This sounded like a cool product to me, and I’m looking forward to it being integrated into some photo frames soon. For some reason even though I’m a big photo nutjob, I never seem to take the time to update the photos in my photo frame. I would totally use this just for myself!
I was at lunch and a guy started talking about “Semantic Web”. Have I ever explained how much I HATE IT SPEAK? IT people just LOVE to make up new meanings for real English words and rearrange them till you feel like a dope not understanding what they mean! I’ve heard of Semantic Web a bunch of times but I’ll be darned if I can figure out what it is. I asked the guy to explain it, and in one single sentence he use THREE MORE IT SPEAK words! I feel like that episode of Star Trek Next Generation the guy keeps yelling “Timba, when the walls fell!” to Captain Picard! anyway, he sensed my impatience, and sent me over to the Semantifind booth to see if they could explain it to me by explaining how their product worked. Here’s that interview:
Well I think I have a vague idea of what semantic web is all about – if nothing else this search tool sounds really useful and I’ll be trying it out for sure on Firefox. Semantifind is at semantifind.com/
Maverick Secure Mobile
Probably the biggest crowd pleaser at the show was Maverick Secure Mobile. Maverick is a unique product that gives you revenge on someone who has stolen your phone. if your phone gets stolen, you can retrieve the thief’s phone number from their SIM card, you can retrieve all of THEIR contacts in their address book so you can pester the thief’s mom, boyfriend, or boss, and finally after all of the data has been pulled from their sim card, it turns on a blaring air horn siren noise, turns the screen bright red, and flashes a message you have pre-programmed into the phone for just this purpose! the ONLY way the thief can make it stop is to pull the battery – so I guess if it’s on an iPhone they can’t even do THAT. If they put the battery back in, the noise and flashing starts right back up again. You may not get your phone back with maverick Secure Mobile from maverickmobile.in, but you sure will enjoy the experience of losing your phone more than the thief will! Maverick Secure Mobile is at maverickmobile.in
One of the most enjoyable interviews I did was with Hadley Watson who was representing Rocketron. I was especially grateful for the fact that she did the entire interview TWICE because I messed up and didn’t actually record us the first time through. She’s also my hero because she showed me this secret vent in the wall of the exhibit hall where freezing cold air was coming in – it was positively BOILING in the exhibit hall till she showed me that little trick! Anway let’s hear what Hadley has to say about Rocketron:
I also put the phone number (408)907-2323 in the shownotes so you can test out Rocketron. thanks Hadley for your patience!
now that I’ve talked about everything that excited me at DEMO, I wanted to tell you a couple of things. First, I had taken copious notes during the show, all of which were lost the next day when I had a hard drive melt down. I did all of this from the top of my head, aided by my photos (which luckily I hadn’t downloaded yet, but I never delete from the memory card until I do a backup) and by the terrific conference book the DEMO people put out with all the info you need to trigger your memory after the brain blast of hearing 72 vendors in 2 days!
I also wanted to tell you that all interviews ere done using my trusty Zoom H2 (that’s zoom, not zune) from Samson (that’s samson not samsung). I know you can hear noise in the background, but you wouldn’t BELIEVE how loud it actually was in that demo hall – the Zoom H2 came through like a champ! I must confess that I used Soundsoap on a couple of them that were REALLY bad, but I find that process annoying and time consuming and worse yet the sound gets kind of distorted, so most of them are just as I recorded.
Finally, if you want to watch any of the 6 minute demos from the show, they’re beautifully organized on the Demo.com website. There’s a separate page for each product with all the pertinent facts about them along with a video of each demo. It’s well worth spending some time there to catch even more than I was able to tell you about today. and if you ever get a chance to attend Demo, I really encourage you to do it. I met some fantastic people and felt that I was seeing the cutting edge of what’s coming in technology.