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Google & Firefox, and now “Explorer Destroyer” April 27, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT.
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Google is prominently pushing Firefox (for now in the US only) as reported by Gen and at Spread Firefox.

 [I see that John Battelle also covers it here]

US IE users will see this screen when they visit Google.com.

The download has Google Toolbar bundled as a default, but I assume you can remove it if you really want.

Now, a rather more proactive approach is being taken by a group going under the not so subtle name of Explorer Destroyer.

A group of "politically-oriented" open source activists have teamed up with Google, to incentivise site owners to prompt their viewers to switch to Firefox. They have put up scripts and instructions to make this feature addition relatively painless.

Site owners will get $1 for each new Firefox user referred.
If I were being cynical, I would suggest that Google might have another sub-plot, i.e. to increase AdSense registrations which could subsequently be targetted to run AdSense ads on the site…

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ブログ検索のTechnorati、中国当局がブロック? April 27, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japanese.
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TechnoratiのVP of EngineeringのAdam Hertzのブログによると、Technoratiへ中国からのアクセスが出来ないとの報告があるとのこと。

中国国内のブログ登録数は2005 Q3までに3300万超と報告されている

当然国内のブログは検閲対象となっている。

海外ブログへのアクセスを規制したり、中国人が海外のブログプロバイダーを利用し反体制の論調のブログを掲載している場合には当局がプロバイダーに圧力をかけているもある。

海外の華僑や人権活動家や反共産政治活動家のブログ活動を直接規制できない中国当局は、ブログ検索を締め出す新たな手に打って出たか。他のブログ検索へどう対応するのか注目される。

ネット上の情報が増えれば増えるほど、検索に頼る傾向が顕著となる。規制を求める当局(中国だけではない)と検索サービス提供者の関係は今後も要注目です。

Technorati blocked by China(?) April 27, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT.
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Technorati's Adam Hertz is blogging that it is getting reports that Technorati is not accessible from China, here.

With the growth of the blogosphere, it is understandable that China's censors see blog search as a threat.

Update 4/28 00:20 JST (GMT+9) Hugh Mcleod at Gaping Void says he got an email from Rick Segal (who is in China, HK to be precise) saying he can access Technorati. But other comments from people in China on various blogs appear to indicate that Technorati is inaccessible. Maybe it is a SAR (HK) vs "mainland" China thing. The SAR seems to operate a little bit autonomously sometimes. An insightful comment from a comment by dawanr at Tom Raftery's blog suggests the timing of the incident may not be unrelated to the fact that China's President Hu Jintao spent a few days in China recently which would likely prompt various comments relating to China in the blogosphere. I'm inclined to agree.

Update China based users are reporting that Technorati is back up. Was this a technical glitch? A trigger happy low level bureaucrat? Or was it an orchestrated affair designed to test the waters? Or a subtle game of psychological warfare to keep anti-censorship people on their toes (or even out these people to target more finely tuned filters)? Or was it that the authorities did a review of the search results and didn't find much that offended their sensibilities, allied to the fact that the blog search algorithms push fresh posts to the top so older postings are not likely to get much traffic once they fall off the top page?    

VC coffee April 27, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Food and Drink, Japan.
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Rick Segal's post turns me on to a new type of coffee.

Kopi Luwak (made from stones reclaimed from civet droppings) I knew of, but Chon Cafe, aka Weasel Coffee is something new.

Edible.com describes it as being more chocolatey than Kopi Luwak. Sounds right up my street. Next challenge, trying to find this in Tokyo….

From Seth’s Blog: Re group dating (aka gokon) April 25, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in general, Japan.
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"Marketing guru" Seth Godin picks up group dating:

Seth's Blog: Re invent an industry

I wonder how much these sites have caught on though, even here in the land of the gokon. Had a quick look around, but I found no real data. For those of you who don't know what a gokon is: Google

There are plenty of such sites, and there are gokon communities in all of the social networking sites. Is a single feature site the best way to facilitate gokons? From a trust perspective, having the feature in an SNS may provide users with some background information on the prospective gokon partners.

The typical gokon site takes money from users (all users, just the guys, just the gals, etc), or is advertising driven or affiliate revenue driven (such affiliate revenue sites usually have restaurant/bar/izakaya on-line reservations available, and the site gets rewarded on a cost per sale model, usually)

There was a gokon SNS set up by Netage and Cyberagent, but they closed it last June, probably due to lack of traffic and the inability to work out how to monetize the business.

Anyhow, "group dating" or "group blind dates" don't (IMO) really explain the gokon correctly. Maybe the word should be coopted into the english vocabulary.

Haven't been to a gokon in ages. <sniff>

Japanese Blog and SNS stats from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications April 25, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japan.
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Apologies for the rather stale nature of this post. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) released its half-yearly statistics tracking blog and SNS user numbers on April 13th. 

The MIC reports 8.68M registered blog accounts (at 53 of the major Japanese blog service providers), and 7.16M registered accounts on social networking sites (at 21 of the major Japanese social networking sites). (BSP and SNS lists are available on the Japanese version of the press release)

Rather predictably, meaningful analysis of the numbers is virtually absent in the press.

 The MIC press release itself uses the term "登録者" which would be rendered as "registered users", but the word "user" is potentially misleading, as there is evidence that bloggers 

Additionally, the number of active users is not mentioned. (In a report by the MIC last year, blog user numbers were given as 3.35M with 0.9M listed as "active" users as of March 2005)

At the Feed Business Conference held in March, the speaker from Technorati Japan mentioned that their data showed that for active users the average number of blogs they had was approximately two. I have 3 accounts at various BSPs provided in the list (all of which are dormant), and that doesn't include this blog. An acquaintance who is active in local politics (he is a councellor for the ward I live in) has 3 or 4 blogs mirroring the same content. 

The same goes for social networking sites. I have accounts at Mixi.jp, Gree.jp and Yahoo!360 in various degrees of use, with accounts at several other sites as well.

Furthermore, Livedoor has begun bundling SNS accounts automatically to all new Livedoor accounts. (They announced that they had surpassed Gree.jp as the 2nd largest SNS, but I wonder how many users signed up to Livedoor for some other service and are counted in the statistics although they have never accessed the Livedoor SNS?)

It would seem that the published numbers need to be handled with care, especially since the number of sites surveyed has also changed since the last figures were published for Sept 2005.

Yet I have yet to see any reporting which mentions these caveats when talking about the blog and SNS trends. I wonder if the media thinks it would detract from the hype they are trying to generate? 

Japanese SNS site “N@VIO” and comparisons to LinkedIn April 23, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japan.
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N@VIO is being compared to LinkedIn by SocialNetworking.jp a blog which is about, well, social networking. N@VIO has been receiving some press in Japan lately due to the exposure of LinkedIn in the US press.

N@VIO is operated by Humanworks Inc., an HR services company, which also operates this: http://job.navionet.com/
I don’t think the comparisons are valid.

Firstly, N@VIO is an open SNS site, anyone can join. LinkedIn requires an introduction from a member.

This is a fundamental difference.

Secondly, N@VIO is, according to the CEO of the operating company, a site which aims first and foremost to link students (read prospective employees) and companies. [Indeed, the SNS features (blogs, communities etc) seem to me to be either an afterthought, or bait to attract users who are matched to prospective employers.]

LinkedIn is about linking professionals (who actually have some business experience, or at least that is the idea), even though much of the revenue may indeed come from job listings. LinkedIn is a focused site with little in the way of features beyond linking people.

Seems to me that this particular piece on socialnetworking.jp is basically an infomercial, as there is little in the way of analysis. This is a pity, because we could do with sites offering some insight into local trends in this area which is receiving a lot of attention.

EOY Japan 2006 April 23, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Japan, VC.
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The “Entrepreneur of the Year” Awards programme was started by Ernst & Young in 1986, to “honor entrepreneurial men and women and the companies they build and grow”.

Past winners of the US EoY programme include Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, Pierre Omidyar of eBay, Inc., Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, Inc., Howard Schultz of Starbucks Corp.

A World Entrepreneur of the Year programme has been going since 2001, with previous winners including Narayana Murthy of Infosys Technologies and Wayne Huizenga, owner of the Miami Dolphins, who has founded 3 Fortune 500 companies including Waste Management, Inc. and Blockbuster Entertainment.

The Japanese version, “Entrepreneur of the Year Japan” supported by Ernst & Young ShinNihon, is now in its sixth year.

My colleague is the chairperson of the nominations committee, and I have been invited to sit on the committee and sift through the nominations and interview the nominees.

Nominations close on 30th June, and the details are on the EoY Japan website…..

A new feature launched this year is a EoY Japan community blog portal, featuring blogs from entrepreneurs who have featured in past EoY Japan competitions, EoY Japan judges, and members of the nominations committee. This is part of an initiative to transform EoY Japan from just an annual awards event to a community where fellow entrepreneurs can meet and interact with eachother. As well as the “virtual” component represented by the blog community portal, there are some “real”/”live” events, the first of which was a panel discussion and networking event held on the 6th of April.

We hope that the new initiatives are of value to entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs, and the other other people that support and make up the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Livedoor delisted April 17, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in IT, Japan.
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April 13th (thursday) was the final day of trading for Livedoor and Livedoor Marketing, which have been delisted as a result of the scandal which surfaced back in January.

Livedoor ended its final day on the MOTHERS exchange at JPY94, down JPY7 (-6.93%) from the day before. LD was trading at around JPY700 when the scandal broke (and was just a shade under JPY800 in mid-december), and as low as JPY55 in mid-feb.

On the other hand, Livedoor Marketing was up JPY34 to JPY310 (+12.32%). LM was above JPY6000 when the scandal broke, but was as low as JPY215 as recently as early april.

The effect of the Livedoor scandal on the Tokyo Stock Exchange was illustrated by the fact that trading volume on MOTHERS on the 14th was approximately 6.63 million shares, compared with 63.42 million shares the day before. Livedoor and Livedoor Marketing had still accounted for more than 3/4 of the trading on MOTHERS even though trading of the two stocks was limited to just one hour between 2pm and 3pm to keep transaction volumes manageable for the TSE system which was running out of capacity. 

At one point after the scandal broke on Jan 16th, Livedoor stock accounted for 97% of all transactions on MOTHERS and 45% of all transactions on the TSE.

The trials of the corporate officers who were arrested are to begin as early as next month. Horie is still denying all charges, and it is expected he will be tried after his ex-colleagues go before the courts and plead guilty.

On a related note, what happened to the investigation of the death ("suicide") of the guy from HS Securities who was involved in the scandal?  Haven't heard much about that in the media lately, have we?

ドーナツファンに朗報 April 13, 2006

Posted by fukumimi in Food and Drink, Japan, Japanese.
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Krispy Kreme 日本上陸決定!

ロッテリヴァンプがKrispy Kreme Japanを5月末までに設立するそうです。5年で30-50店舗の出店を予定しているとか。(日経新聞報道

Krispy KremeもIPO後色々ありましたが、個人的にはここのドーナツが好きなので期待大。

ミスドなんて論外です。最近首都圏で出店攻勢をかけているDoughnut Plant(Dean&Delucaでも購入可)も、いまひとつピンとこない。

米国出張の際にはよく朝ドーナツ買って食べてます。

早く東京でもKrispy Kremeが食べたい!