New Idea Monday #2 A new USA based mapping company

Now that TomTom has bought Tele Atlas and there are rumors that Google may purchase Navteq, it may be time to consider a new mapping company at least in the USA. While this isn’t a new idea in itself I beleive that my method of collection the data is. Here is how I would do it.

First I would start with Tiger Data maps supplied by the US Census Bureau. While this data is not totally accurate or complete it would offer a good basis. Then I would develop a gps/gprs device that could track and report where is was. It should run off of twelve volts and be very compact. It will report its position, heading and rate of speed back to a server through gprs. Thirdly I would offer truck drivers 0.10-0.20 cents per mile for every mile they drive with the device turned on. If you get enough truck drivers or even a trucking company to have your device on their trucks. The reported GPS tracks would then be used to “correct” the tiger and bring it in line with what the gps actually reports. As an added bonus you can use the network of devices to start collecting traffic data.

So I wonder why none of the mapping companies are already doing this……..

The 30 Day Challenge

I plan to participate in The Thirty Day Challenge this year. What is The Thirty Day Challenge you ask?

In a nutshell… The Thirty Day Challenge is about making your first $10 online. For a full 30 days we are going to be showing you exactly how to start your own Internet business and generate your first income online without spending a dime.

That’s right, this is going to cost zip, diddly, nothing, nada, ziltch. The entire training program is free, and you won’t have to spend a thing to get your business started and begin making money. No credit card required.

While if have already made more than 10 dollars online with my small little network, I plan to use this as a learning experience to see what tricks of the trade I can gather. Also this may be a good opportunity to make some contacts for any future projects that I might want to participate it. Perhaps I will use this as an excuse to get a new little site going that I was thinking about. The events starts on August 1 and I hope to blog about it here.

Adpinion: a recommender system for online ads

I learned about Adpinoin yesterday while surfing around. They are a recommender system for advertisements.  Essentially what happens is that users rate ads that they are show via a ratings widget on the ad itself. As you vote on ads the system builds up a profile for you, ads that you like remain visible, ads that you don’t like are remove and the system tells you “sorry”.  As you view and rate ads on the network it gets smarter about what ads to place in front of you based on what you and other like you vote on. From their overview page it appears they are using a clustering model for their collaborative filtering technique. This seems like a very nice way to model the user rating data.

This is really a neat idea and one that I have thinking about these past couple of weeks. I wonder if a better approach for gathering ratings on the ads would be using actual clicks on the ads as votes. If the user clicked on the ad then it is a thumbs up otherwise it is a thumbs down. Or perhaps use both, and have a graduated system where thumbs down = 0, no click = 1, click = 2, thumbs up = 3.  This might offer more data to the system and help build better clusters.  Also this would allow them to start gathering data on text ads instead of just banner ads that most people already ignore, or have their web browser filter out.

In any event I think this is a great first step and it will be interesting to see if these ads pop up on some of the websites that I frequent.

New Idea Monday idea #1

Every Monday I plan to post a new idea that I have. Right now I have countless text files, couple of notebook and some email full of ideas that I have come up with over the years. While not all the ideas are great I will just put them up here for the world to see. I don’t claim that these ideas are original either. I hope that this helps open up a conversation on this blog with other idea people and perhaps collaborating with another person or people to see one of these idea to fruition. Another blog that used to post some neat ideas was but it has been dead for a while, besides these are my ideas.

Idea #1

I call this idea Campiste Review/ Campground review. The basic idea is that people who like to camp and often use campgrounds can go here to get information on the place where they are going to pitch thier tent or setup their RV. The sites that currently exist that show this type of information, usually show general informatio about the whole facility but rarely do they tell you which site or what location is best. Each campground that is in the database of the site would have a map associated with it. The map would indicate where the best spots are, along with description about the campsite. This would be similar to SeatGuru but only for camping. Users could leave comments about the various aspects of the park, and research potential vacation spots. To make money the site owner/create could of course run ads but they could also charge a listing fee that the owner of the campground would pay to be listed on the site, minus state parks for good karma.

So there is it idea #1 read, discuss, share, create, enjoy.

Spotback Rate Everything

Today’s new recommender system is Spotback. According to thier website they are a recommender system that uses both collaborative filtering and aggregated knowledge technologies. They offer widgets that you use on your website or blogging platform. Once you add thier widget to your site you get instant Content recommendation, Rating tools, Top stories and Tag clouds. This is a very interesting approach to get adoption of your product.

They also offer a browser plugin that allows the user to rate items directly from the browser. I assume you are rating the whole page unless you are browsing flickr where their software seems to understand individual photos and that you want to rate only that photo.

If you are a user of their service you can login to the site and view your recommendations and what you have rated.

All of these services that they are offer makes this seem like they are trying to be many different things. This feels like a cross between MyBloglog + + Loomia without any operant way to make money other than inserting ads into the recommendations. As you can see I have installed thier widget on my blog as well to see how it works. It was the easiest intall of a service like this to date since it was a native WordPress plugin. You can see the rating widget below each post and a recommendation widget in the side bar.

Time To Find New VOIP Service

Last night I discovered by reading the forums over on DSLReports that Sunrocket my VOIP service provider of choice was shutting down by COB yesterday. I wondered if this was really the case since my phone was still working and I could get to thier website. However since this was all over the internets today I guess it is confirmed, they are shutting down and will be no more. Right now my phone service is working. I am able to make and receive calls however I am not able to access my voicemail.

All is not lost though according to a email the DSL reports received it looks like they are in negotiations for the customer base to be acquired. They should act fast as a lot of customers are bailing and Vonage is even making a nice deal for customers to switch ( I will never go back to Vonage). In any event something needs to happen by Friday since that is when the Gizmo (VOIP and analog phone interface) needs to get its next software download. If it does not receive the download the whole kit stops working.

This is really disappointing as I bailed Vonage and signed up with Sunrocket back in December. I got the one year plan and was having no problems what so ever. Then this!!!!!

Leassons I have learned:

Don’t prepay for service in advance.

Make sure the company can provide you service for what they are charging.

Run your own Asterisk Box and get dialtone from multiple vendors. I will be enacting this later this year

The Only question I have now is what provider should I go with? A lot of the Sunrocket users are bailing to Viatalk or packet8 ?

I saw a geoemersion bug!

While sitting at work today I spotted one of the Imersionmedia bugs rolling down Arlington Heights road in Arlington Heights IL. According to their website they are scheduled to be in Chicago but not this far out in the burbs. If they drive back I will try to get a snapshot of them. It would be cool if they provided real time tracking of the cars via their web page, even if it does violate Google’s TOS.

I don’t think they were snapping pictures as they cruised down the center lane instead of the right most one, but maybe that is how they operate. Pretty cool to see, amazing what you can see if you keep your eyes open.


SMS Directions Using Your Voice

According to an article in the SF Chronical a new company “Dial Directions” has created a ad supported service  that allows a user to get driving directions via their cell phone using their voice.  The directions come from Mapquest and are delivered to you phone via sms. Seems like a pretty cool way to get directions however the number that is published in the article goes to some guys voice mail so I wasn’t actually able to try it out.

Loomia adds big Client

widget_screen_shotAccording to Tech Crunch Loomia has landed a great cleint with The Wall Street Journal. Their widget shows stored that other people have read based on what you are reading. This is like Amazon’s people who bought this also bought this feature.

This is a nice deal for Loomia, it should help their exposure and having their “Powered By” link there really helps get the word out about them. Good Job Guys!

I really like the way Loomia works. They are a web service and have what appears to be three distinct products, a Free version a Media version and a Retail version. The free version is add supported, the media version is $50.00 per month. The reatail version is 2.5 percent referred sales. They are really covering the bases here with thier pricing models.

Setting up Loomia for you site is really easy. First you must publish feed of the items that you want recommendations for. Once you have done this you setup javascrip widgets in your site. These widgets interact with their service to produce content for you site. This is a very smart way to get rapid adoption of their service. This was so easy that I have set this up on my site here. I am using the clickstream widget with the recommendations showing on the left hand side of all my pages.

If Loomia really wants to get wide acceptance they will offer bloggers a rev-share with their free widget. A lot of bloggers are looking for a new way to make money from their blogs.