StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 08/17/01

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StratVantage Consulting, LLC — Mike’s Take on the News 08/17/01

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The News – 08/17/01

A POX on P2P

Once again consumers may lead a technology revolution that will advance technology that can be used by business. Many analysts have recognized that peer-to-peer (P2P) computing and wireless technology is a match made in heaven. You’ve got all these devices out there in people’s pockets. What if they could communicate directly with one another? The possibilities are endless. I particularly can’t wait for a wireless application to help me find kindred contacts at business networking meetings and conferences, for example.

Now it’s looking like gaming may be the killer app for wireless P2P. Alert SNS Reader Andrew Hargreave sends along an item on toymaker Hasbro’s efforts to market their new peer-to-peer handheld game, POX. In a twist to the tired cliché, “viral marketing,” Hasbro operatives hit the playgrounds of Chicago asking kids, “Who’s the coolest kid you know?” They then found the cool kids in question, and asked them the same question. They continued in this way until they found a kid who replied, “Me.” (Is it just me, or is this kind of a creepy way to do marketing? Do you want strange adults asking these questions of your kids?)

About 1,600 of these so-called alpha pups were corralled in small groups and given the pitch for the POX game (which Alert SNS Reader Deb Ellsworth says should be referred to as a “game platform.”) Playing POX involves creating alien warriors, called Infectors, to use to fight other players and collect their body parts. The game contains a radio frequency unit that allows players within 30 feet to play, even through walls. Each alpha pup was given 10 of the $25 units to give out to their friends. The characters the players create can be set to do battle automatically with any fellow player who walks by, even while the unit sits in a school locker.

In other infectious news , 10,000 middle-school-aged students in Detroit, Miami, and Union City, New Jersey, are testing a program called "Cooties" on donated and pre-owned Palm PDAs. The University of Michigan’s Center for Highly Interactive Computing developed the classroom learning program, backed by a $16 million Palm and National Science Foundation grant, with the aim of teaching kids about the ways diseases spread. To spread Cooties, teachers beam a fictitious virus to selected Palms. Students break into smaller groups and map how the virus spreads throughout the class. Palm obviously hopes the project will show teachers that teaching using Palms is easier than using personal computers.

In Sweden, Ericsson R520 cell phone owners play the game BotFighters, in which the object is to create a robot and send text attack messages to a central game server and thence to your intended victim. While the game does not use P2P technology, the “bullets” you use have a limited range. You can use the game’s “radar” to determine the location of an opponent and players often pursue each other trying to get into range for a wireless shot. I shudder to think of what real-world methods fanatic players will use to bag their prey. European cell phone carriers need to find some reason to extract extra money from users since many of them paid exorbitant prices for the radio spectrum necessary for the next generation 3G wireless services. BotFighters players pay an extra $5 to $10 a month on top of their cell phone charges for the privilege of playing the game.

There are likely to be many more P2P wireless games in the near future. This past spring Pocit Labs of Sweden released its BlueTalk development kit which enables wireless applications using Bluetooth, the popular short-range wireless standard. This week, Impart Technology released its Java-based Impart Technology SDK, which creates applications that automatically configure ad hoc infrared connections among mobile devices. Most PDAs and some cell phones feature infrared connectors. The company said Bluetooth will be supported by the end of the year.

Despite the fact that businesses are ordinarily not too concerned about games (except when they impair productivity), enterprises should keep an eye on the wireless P2P gaming arena, as it will probably generate several innovations that can be put into practice in business computing. Besides, knowing this stuff helps you look cool (OK, somewhat more cool) to your kids.

New York Times

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: My speech at the Minnesota Entrepreneurs Club pre-meeting workshop on Tuesday, “Will You Have to Have It? What You Need to Know About Future Tech and Your Business,” is now available .

    Also, my white paper, Taking Control of the B2B Exchange: What’s Next in the Supply Chain Evolution, is now available on Manyworlds and is rated four stars. I am honored to share the page with eCommerce expert Mohanbir Sawhney .

  • PDF Virus Spreading: One doesn’t often worry about virus infection when opening any of the myriad of Portable Document Format (PDF) files on the Internet. Traditionally, Adobe’s PDF files have been considered benign, much safer, for example, than Microsoft’s Word documents, which can contain nasty viruses. Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs passes along an item concerning a PDF virus called Outlook.pdf. Although the virus is considered experimental and not very deadly, it can presage a new infection type that is likely to now become popular. According to a ComputerWorld article:

In order to spread itself, the virus uses Adobe Acrobat and functions of Microsoft Corp.‘s Outlook that have never been used before. According to both researchers, the worm uses Outlook to send itself hidden in a PDF file. When opened using Acrobat, the file will launch a game that prompts the user to click on the image of a peach. After the user clicks on the image, a Visual Basic script is run and the virus gets activated, they said.

The virus spreads itself using all the addresses from the e-mails in any Outlook folder, not just the program’s Address Book, and it will send itself in a PDF file, and disguising itself by changing the e-mail’s subject, body and attachment lines every time, they said. An image from the game can be seen at HispaSec’s Web site.

Fortunately, you don’t need to worry unless you have the full version of Adobe’s Acrobat. Most people use the Acrobat Reader that allows you to read PDF files. The full $249 Acrobat package lets you create PDF files as well. There’s no telling whether just reading a PDF will ever spread a virus. So be careful out there.

  • Another One Bites the Dust: Apparently, the Industry Standard magazine is closing up shop and seeking a buyer. This is a pity, as I rather enjoyed their coverage of eBusiness. The company blames the cost of splitting off from IDG and readying for an IPO. The Web site will continue for the time being, employing the remaining 20 of the 180 workers. Thanks to Alert SNS Reader David Dabbs (in another SNS twofer) for the pointer. Also noted: Beenz follows Flooz into the dumper. Online currency vendor Beenz has declared the end of the Beenz economy as of August 26th. Their demise couldn’t have had anything to do with their stupid name, right?

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from . This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at . Let me know what you think. Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

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