March 31, 2008 § 30 Comments
A friend of mine…I’ll call him Arnold Babar…is in the early stages of starting a company. Over a few beers the other night, Arnold asked me a few general questions about service providers we’ve used for various aspects of building the KnowledgeBid expert network management platform and other projects. A few came to mind immediately…then I thought of a few later that night…then a few more the next day. I’m putting them all into a post in the hopes that I might save someone else the hours of head + wall collisions it took me to find these guys. I’m only going to include services that I use heavily myself and would recommend to a close personal friend. I’ll add to this as more come to me. My top priorities: 1) cost; 2) functionality / flexibility; 3) quality; 4) reliability.
Best Corporate Telephony / PBX / Fax Service: RingCentral
My previous write-up on RingCentral is here. Super flexible PBX, digital fax delivery, digital voice mail delivery, $19.95/month. Can’t beat it. Mac friendly except for the sound recording / uploading feature.
Best Payment Processing Service: Braintree Payment Solutions
My previous write-up on Braintree is here. The payment processing industry is a total mess. The Braintree guys are straight shooters. Save yourself serious pain and go straight to them.
Best Press Release Services: PRZOOM, The Open Press
The web has antiquated the newswire industry. These two providers are free and get your PR messages on sites other than your own, which is all you really need. PRWeb and the others try to get you to pay, but it’s really not worth it.
Best Conference Call Service: Free Conference
My previous write-ups on the free conference call industry are here. The FCC says these guys can stay in business and so long as you just need them to work for your call tomorrow or next week, you’ll be fine. Call quality is good and reliability is good. I would advise against trying to bake them into your app though…you get what you pay for and who knows how long their loophole will be open.
Best Desktop Sharing Software: Glance
This a simple, functional, reliable piece of software perfect for sharing your desktop for demos. No install needed for your clients, but this means there is no way to see the screen of the person on the other end. It’s $39/month and WebEx has dropped prices in response. There may be some free stuff out there too but I would rather have my demos work and pay a little. Glance is Mac friendly, WebEx is not.
Best Domain Registrar: One and One
One and One is clean, easy to use, without constant upselling, ads and pop-ups. GoDaddy is a nightmare IMO.
Best Blog Platform: WordPress.com, WordPress.org
The best blogging and simple content management system out there, IMO. Open source so there are an amazing number of plug-ins, style sheets, and high quality WordPress designers out there so you can really make anything. WordPress.com is a free, hosted blogging platform (example here) while you need to host WordPress.org on your own server (example here, here, and here).
Best Corporate Email Solution: Google Apps for Your Domain
Face it, firstname.lastname@example.org is JV. Google Apps makes it free and easy to have Google tools under your own domain.
Best Bug Tracker: Mantis
We’re coming up on our 300th mantis ticket and so far, so good. Free, open source bug tracking & project management. We tried some of the more trendy solutions out there and were very disappointed.
Best Stock Photography: Stockxpert
High quality stock photography on a pay-as-you-go model. Many other players out there have high subscription fees which sucks when you only need 1 or 2 pictures. Examples here and here.
Best Professional Voice Recording: VoiceVector
These guys and gals are based in Alaska but you wouldn’t know it. $1o for your first 12 words and $8 for each additional group of 12 or fewer words in a single recording. Quick, easy, high quality, and they give you your recording in lots of formats. For example call here.
Best Screencast Solution: Camtasia
The web video world is like the credit card processing world…it’s a total mess. Camtasia makes it easy to record a screencast, polish it up, and host it so anyone can watch it. Example here. They have a free demo period. Tip: don’t try to cut and splice within a single recording – just go all the way through.
I’d love to hear comments on these and other solid services out there. I’m actively looking for these:
Best Headset for Blackberry 8703e
Best Low Volume SMS Solution
Best Free CRM
Best Password / Login Manager
March 26, 2008 § 2 Comments
One of the reasons my posting has slowed over the last month or so is because I have drastically cut down on my news consumption and a good amount of my posting was derivative of the random stuff I read on the web. I still check my Netvibes page every day or two, but in the past I spent at least an hour a day staying current on various tech, econ, VC, law and entrepreneur blogs and news sources. A major factor in my slimmed down news diet has been thanks to Google alerts. I’ve set up alerts for a variety of keywords that I’m interested in monitoring (my company name, competitive company names, friends’ company names, my name, etc.) and get emails from Google alerts when new material is on the web that includes those keywords. I didn’t realize it at the time, but a big driver behind my news consumption was the fear that I would “miss something” relevant to my life. Google Alerts is far more efficient in monitoring the web that I could ever be, and now I can spend my time on more important things without worry that I may be out of the loop.
October 31, 2007 § Leave a comment
I got fed up with the 2 week delay on the SDNY Pacer system and called Judge Sullivan’s office today to find out what’s going on with the Tiffany v. eBay case. Trial is slated to begin on November 13th. The latest round of settlement conferences were a result of the case being switched from Judge Karas to Judge Sullivan last spring.
Considering the timeline thus far, I’m not holding my breath.
October 27, 2007 § 1 Comment
Back in May, I compared the pending Viacom suit against Google/YouTube to the trajectory seen in the infamous Napster litigation.
Recent developments: Google has introduced “YouTube Video Identification” to help rights holders monitor infringing content. Predictably, Viacom has stated that this is an inadequate step and they are still being harmed by YouTube.
Thus far, the Napster trajectory has been followed. To continue on the same path, Viacom will ask for an injunction against YouTube alleging irreparable harm and will ask the court to order Napster-esq 100% compliance…which is what caused Napster to shut down before the case made it into a courtroom. Only time will tell whether the injunction will be granted, what level of compliance is deemed adequate, and what level of compliance YouTube can maintain.
Interestingly, the YouTube Video Identification technology is extremely similar to the Proactive Fraud Protection service created by eBay in response to the Tiffany & Co suit they are battling (or have settled on the sly). Both systems are “tools” that IP rights holders can use. Neither system puts any responsibilities on eBay or YouTube to proactively filter content or identify improper material. Tiffany & Co. and Viacom argue that the service providers are profiting from the infringing material and should carry the burden of monitoring it. YouTube and eBay argue that there is no way for them to tell what is a real Tiffany’s ring or Friends video clip.