Farecast goes into public beta!

Farecast the airline fare prediction tool is launched in public beta today, enabling travelers to leverage more than 60 billion records of past airfare prices to predict whether prices will rise or fall over the next 7 days. The beta still only covers flights departing from Seattle and Boston, but the company plans to roll out US-wide coverage through the end of this year and then at some point worldwide.

The only main upgrade that I can see from the private beta is the addition of ajax, making the functionality all the smoother, but thats a pretty good upgrade anyway so why not go ahead and check it out, also don’t forget to vote for your next US city to be included though I really do wish it was UK as well, oh well.

Via: TechCrunch

Microsoft Announces Plans for July 2008 Transition for Bill Gates

Microsoft Corp. today announced that effective July 2008 Bill Gates, chairman, will transition out of a day-to-day role in the company to spend more time on his global health and education work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The company announced a two-year transition process to ensure that there is a smooth and orderly transfer of Gates’ daily responsibilities, and said that after July 2008 Gates would continue to serve as the company’s chairman and an advisor on key development projects.

The company announced that Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie will immediately assume the title of chief software architect and begin working side by side with Gates on all technical architecture and product oversight responsibilities, to ensure a smooth transition. Similarly, Chief Technical Officer Craig Mundie will immediately take the new title of chief research and strategy officer and will work closely with Gates to assume his responsibility for the company’s research and incubation efforts; Mundie also will partner with general counsel Brad Smith to guide Microsoft’s intellectual property and technology policy efforts.

The news was announced after financial markets closed. Earlier, shares in Microsoft rose 19 cents, or 0.87 percent, to close Thursday at $22.07 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Shares gained 5 cents in after-hours trading.

Bill Gates, Craig Mundie, Ray Ozzie and Steve Ballmer

June 15, 2006, Redmond, Wash: (L-R) Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie, Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie and CEO Steve Ballmer gather prior to a news conference announcing plans for Gates to transition out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft over the next two years while Ozzie and Mundie assume increased roles in the company.

Live Webcast, 1:30 pm PDT, June 15:
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Best of luck to him I wish him all of the best for the future; I just hope that Microsoft doesn’t suffer because of this.

Via: PressPass

My thoughts on the Farecast Private Beta so far!

Ok so I’ve been on the Farecast Private Beta, an airline fare prediction tool, for less than a week now thanks to Mark and I kind of like what I’ve seen so far, but to be honest there’s still quite a lot of limitations.

Now I know this is a very early private beta (invite only) but I think they really need to start focusing on getting some other major cities from other places in the world added, London, Paris, and Rome etc.

Once they have done that then I can start some real beta testing that isn’t restricted to cities I haven’t flown to or from before!

Current limitations of the Farecast Private Beta include:

  • Only Seattle and Boston Searchable Farecast plans to add more markets and will eventually cover all major markets in the US and around the globe, something that many of us will be wating to see.
  • Only Roundtrip Airfare Available Farecast plans to add one-way and multi-city shopping capabilities in the futrure.
  • Not All of the Lowest Prices Most of these issues should be resolved soon but sometimes during the beta, you may find that Farecast is missing an itinerary or a price that you found on an airline site or even a competitor site that was low and didnt appear on Farecast, things like this take time but will eventually improve.
  • Improvement Needed on Links to Airline Booking During this beta, Farecast is investing heavily in technology to improve the transition from Farecast to the airline website but like a lot of the other limitacions with this beta, it’s better that they slowly implement it than implement everything in one.
  • Browser Incompatibilities – Farecast plans to support more browsers eventually but for the time being, Farecast is optimized for use only with certain browsers. For windows, they are: Firefox (1.5 or higher) and Internet Explorer (5.5 or higher) and for Mac users, they are recommending using Firefox (1.5 or higher).
  • Site performance issues, such as site outages, server busy errors, and slow search times.

Ohh and by the way before I forget, I do have Farecast Private Beta Invites, so if you would like a Farecast Private Beta Invite just leave me a comment asking for one and I’ll send you one.

Robert Scoble is leaving Microsoft for PodTech.net so what’s next?

Ok so you’ve probably already heard the news about how Robert Scoble, one of the worlds most noticed bloggers and technical evangelists for Microsoft, has announced (10th June 20060) that he is leaving Microsoft to join a new start up called PodTech.net where he will work as Vice President of Media Development.

But have you heard the new news about who intends to buy PodTech.net?

Well probably not as there isn’t any official news as of such yet, instead just rumours, so let’s speculate on them rumours a bit, will it be Yahoo who acquires PodTech.net, will it be Google who acquires PodTech.net, will it be Microsoft who acquires PodTech.net or will it be some other company, maybe Ebay! 😉

Well whoever acquires PodTech.net, if at all ever, they will sure to have a nice acquisition in their hands as video blogging (vlogging) is the next big thing to hit the streets or in this case the net!

I won’t bother telling you the details as to why Robert Scoble left Microsoft or as to what he hopes to accomplish by leaving Microsoft but what I will tell you is that he didn’t leave Microsoft because he feel out with them, in the contrary he still is a strong supporter of Microsoft and wouldn’t have left if he didn’t think Microsoft would have been able to cope without him!

Scoble just thought he could offer no more to Microsoft and could learn no more from Microsoft, so he wanted to try something new, wouldn’t you agree that we all do at times, it’s part of our human nature to try different experiences in life.
 
Now let me leave you with some quotes from other sites about Scoble leaving Microsoft and then after if you don’t mind you my readers can tell me what you think about all this and what you think will happen next, e.g. Will somebody acquire PodTech.net? Who will be the next top blogger at Microsoft? Etc…

Robert Scoble / Scobleizer:
Correcting the Record about Microsoft  —  I’m seeing some things on the blogs that just chap my hide.  —  First, I love Microsoft and Microsoft did not lose me at least as a supporter and friend.  I am not throwing away my Tablet PC or my Xbox or my other Microsoft stuff. 🙂

Second, my management team is awesome and I don’t have a beef with them at all. They have ALWAYS supported me. I have, in my pocket, a corporate American Express card and they never have questioned any of my expenses. The reason I shared rooms with other bloggers is because I always treated Microsoft as a startup. I don’t believe it’s proper to waste shareholder resources if you don’t need to…

Michael Arrington / TechCrunch:
Robert Scoble to Leave Microsoft, Joins PodTech.net  —  It looks like recently funded PodTech.net has hired Microsoft’s Robert Scoble, who writes one of the most popular blogs, and he’ll be moving from Washington to Silicon Valley.  —  I spoke to Robert briefly a few minutes ago. 

Niall Kennedy / Niall Kennedy’s Weblog:
Robert Scoble leaving Microsoft for a Silicon Valley startup  —  Reports are coming in from the Vloggercon conference about Robert Scoble‘s latest career move. According to Beet.TV and a few other verbal sources who were at the conference Scoble will publicly announce he is leaving Microsoft within the next few days and joining Silicon Valley startup PodTech.net as a videoblogger.

What does the news mean for Microsoft? More people in large companies now realize the value of an information aggregator for internal and external communication. In a 60,000 person company you need some internal connectors to help keep teams and projects working together and benefitting from the work and knowledge of others. If Microsoft does not already have a team or teams dedicated to internal corporate development, hopefully they’ll realize the value and create such a team…

Chris Pirillo:
Scoble is Leaving Microsoft  —  Yeah, it’s 100% true.  Scoble is heading to PodTech.net.  This is front page news if I’ve ever heard of it – and half the blogosphere won’t find out until Monday, most likely.  Congratulations, Robert.  😉 The blogosphere is already abuzz with speculation and discussion:

Dave Winer / Scripting News:
Scoble moves  —  Chris Pirillo says it’s “100 percent true” that Scoble is leaving Microsoft and joining Podtech.  —  A person like Scoble can have enormous influence just by adopting some very simple ideas. It’s the ideas that have power. But Microsoft hasn’t let the changes waft over them. They still think in old terms. I’m glad to see my old friend didn’t go down with the ship.

PodTech News
Vloggercon San Francisco: Robert Scoble Speaks About Moving from Microsoft to PodTech.net  —  Robert Scoble says it wasn’t a defection. We all know the code words: left to pursue other opportunities. But in the truest sense of those words, Robert says he leaves Microsoft because his work there was done and he comes to PodTech to participate in a nascent industry that promises to go nova. IP-based digital media is more than–and will be more than–just a delivery mechanism.

Best of luck Robert you’ve been an inspiration to many! 😀

Microsoft Windows Live and Qwest Team Up!

Today Qwest announced that it is now the first communications company to announce plans to offer co-branded Windows Live services in the U.S. providing personalized Internet experiences for customers. Marshall Kirkpatrick has posted on his blog that he thinks this was a very good deal and that this is going to help Web 2.0 take off to the road even more than what it is now. 

Software as a service, web applications, data portability – these are the sorts of themes that Microsoft is making moves in support of in the new computing world, in their own way. Tonight they announced a partnership with telecom provider Qwest to offer a custom, co-branded Windows Live software suite to every customer of Qwest’s internet services. This is the kind of thing that’s going to popularize Web 2.0 style software. For all the innovation and hotness of various inspiring start-ups – they are going to have a hard time competing with the market share of companies like MS and Qwest who are able to learn just fast enough to throw their weight around and really change large numbers of people’s computing experience.

Via: PressPass | Marshall Kirkpatrick

Microsoft in talks to buy EBay and merge it with MSN

According to the New York Post, Microsoft has been in discussions for several weeks about a possible acquisition of the online auctioneer eBay so they can merge it with its MSN Portal.

If this MSN/EBay acquisition was to go ahead it would surely give both MSN and EBay a great advantage over Google, but as the New York Post pointed, that though the talks are still active they have cooled down somewhat in the last two weeks or so as executives consider antitrust issues, which I’m sure Microsoft sont want to have to deal with.

Also will this not affect EBay and Yahoos recent deal they made, which will see EBay’s pay pal service getting used as a form of payment for a lot of Yahoos services while being advertised on Yahoo at the same time.

I say this because somehow I can’t see Yahoo liking the idea of Microsoft having control over pay pal, not to mention skype, unless the talks that Microsoft did have with Yahoo continue and a deal is made

There’s a problem with that though and that is that according to one source, Bill Gates has no interest in owning a content company!

Via: New York Post

Text Link Ads Calculator

The guys over at Text Link Ads, have just completed work on a tool that answers the timeless question of, “What is a link from my website worth?”

The new Text Link Ads Calculator will help answer that question for webmasters, while helping potential link buyers out there figure out what they might want to pay out in today’s marketplace.

Calculator factors include:

  • Traffic of your website the lower the Alexa ranking, the higher the price. Link
  • popularity of your website the more links (and more quality links), the higher the price.
  • Theme of your website – there is more demand for some themes than others.
  • Number of links to be sold the fewer the number of links on a page, the higher the price.
  • Sitewide or single page placement sitewide vs. on a single page of your website (slightly more value given to links that appear sitewide).
  • Location on the page – more value when the links are placed in an area where they have the best chance of being clicked.

Via: Text Link Ads Blog

Free Creativity Website Domain Name Giveaway!

Hey everyone, do you know of anybody, maybe even yourself, who would like to start a Creativity Website or Blog or maybe even a forum based website for discussing creativity, or anything else you can think of with your creative mind that involves creativeness!

Why am I asking this well I’m asking this because I have a domain name registered until the 2nd of January 2008 that’s got the word creativity in the domain name and I have no use for it so I would like somebody else to have it for FREE, yes for free, this is to save it being wasted, if I had the time I would do something with it but right now I have to concentrate on my course work and beta testing! 😉

The only thing that I can’t supply you with this domain is hosting but I’m sure you or somebody else can find some cheap hosting out there to get you started on, I know of a few good hosting companies so if you do need help in finding one just ask!

Also please let it be known once again that this domain name will expire on the 2nd of January 2008 so after that date I have no obligation to renew it for you but saying this depending on how successful your site becomes I might just renew it for you for free, so why not show me you have what it takes to start a great creativity website, blog or forum with that innovative mind of yours!

Ok enough chit chatter, I’m starting to make the domain name sound better than what it’s really worth, the domain name I’m giving away is:

http://www.creativitytops.com/

So what do you think? would you like Creativity Tops (www.creativitytops.com) if so then please comment on this post, or contact me directly, everyone will be considered equally!

Microsoft’s EU appeal case ends

The week-long anti-competition hearing involving Microsoft and the European Commission has finished – with neither side willing to predict the outcome.

Microsoft is appealing against a 2004 ruling when Brussels told it to change how it sells its Media Player software and fined it 497m euros ($613m; £344m).

The Court of First Instance may not deliver a verdict until early 2007.

Defeat could damage the Commission’s authority as a competition regulator or Microsoft’s future business model.

Microsoft lawyers spent much of the hearing arguing that its fine should be rescinded and that it should not have to produce a version of its Windows operating system without the Media Player software.

They also argued against the 2004 ruling’s stipulation that Microsoft should share information about Windows with rival software companies.

The Commission’s advocates told the court that the fine was needed as a deterrent and that Microsoft was abusing its market leading position in the desktop software market to stifle competition.

No predictions

Both sides left the court saying the case was too close to call.

“It would be a mistake to try and predict the outcome and I won’t try to do so,” said Microsoft lawyer Brad Smith.

Commission counterpart Cecilio Madero said he wouldn’t “speculate about the end result”.

When a verdict is eventually produced, Microsoft would still have the chance to make a further appeal to the European Court of Justice.

In the meantime, the Commission is threatening the software giant with fines of up to 2m euros a day if it is found to have delayed its compliance with the anti-competition ruling.

Microsoft has the added headache of the dispute overshadowing one of its most important software launches in years – that of its new operating system, called Vista, and a new suite of business software, Office 2007, due to make a simultaneous consumer debut early next year.

Via: BBC News