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Archive for July, 2011


July 25th, 2011

Technology saves soccer one flop at a time

Technology saves soccer one flop at a time

I firmly believe sports benefits from technology. Football got the ball rolling (excuse the awful pun) with the you-never-realize-how-great-til-it’s-gone 1st and 10 line during broadcasts. Motion tracking in video game development has given everyone as close to an on-field/on-court experience playing on their favorite teams without actually suiting up. And Major League Baseball’s adoption of reviewing possible home runs with instant replay has finally moved the sport into the 21st century. It’s also given us some un-memorable blunders like the tail on hockey pucks for NHL broadcasts.

Soccer (Football) unfortunately still hasn’t quite figured things out with the technology. I’ll spare my British colleagues details, but the use of video could’ve helped their national side in last year’s World Cup, and even after watching the Women’s World Cup and some of the Copa America tournament, I’m not convinced there isn’t a way technology can make this sport better. Luckily my prayers might be close to being answered.

This new solution may not correct egregious errors on whether or not someone was offsides, but it should hopefully curb the disturbing (and annoying) occurrence of players diving and then acting as if they’ve just been shot in leg. No matter where we come from, whether it’s the Soccer newbies in the US or the hooligans across the UK, I think it’s safe to say, there’s too much diving in the sport. New technology that was tested in the UK is finally giving us answers to whether someone is faking it. Sensors are placed within shinpads and are able to grade impact upon a soccer player’s most delicate frame. Based on how hard they’re hit (if they’re hit at all), an alarm will be triggered that the head ref hears, and from there he can award the free kick.

It’s all great in theory, but with possibly causing a major shift in how the game is played and officiated, it won’t get pass overnight. And with FIFA’s track record with voting, who’s to say we’ll ever see this approved. And besides, it’s not like this can grade the impact made on someone’s chest.

And just because it’s out there:


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July 18th, 2011

From a Pos participant

From a Pos participant

The Possible Project, “Pos” as we’ve come to call it, is a program designed for Cambridge teens wanting to peek into or dive into the world of business. The program prepares the youth participants through extensive hands-on training, through presentations, guest speakers, lectures, and group and individual activities and projects. As a participant of the pilot program, I received the knowledge necessary to develop a business plan and became motivated to start my own business venture.

Looking back at my first day of the program, I was one who only wanted to peek into the world of business.  I had other goals and had no intention of being an entrepreneur later on in life. Although the goal was for the participants to use their acquired knowledge and ultimately start their own businesses, I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to do. I thought it was kind of impossible because I thought that starting a business meant that you invented something new and useful, or that you needed a lot of money to open up something already known and enticing. Well, with this mindset I didn’t think I was going to develop a business venture. As we dived into the curriculum and the program went on with guest speakers coming in and telling  their success stories, I became motivated because I saw that most of them hadn’t  invented anything new and hadn’t had a lot of capital to start with. They did what they knew how to do and they loved it. When we began brainstorming ideas for our own businesses, ideas flowed around, both short term and long term. Ultimately, I started to brainstorm possible things I could do with baking, as I loved to bake cookies especially. So there I had it– I would make decorated cookies for different occasions. I am still working on this idea, keeping in mind different terms I’ve learned such as marketing, branding, customer acquisition, and many more, all of which will help me along the way. Ventures from the pilot group vary from youth to youth– From Web design, to eBay, greeting cards, sewing with international fabrics and a few more.  I am truly appreciative of a program like this and I thank the founders, Mark and Becky Levin, both of whom are great, successful entrepreneurs. Mark once came in to speak to us, and his advice  was: “Do what you love to do, get lots of good advice, and never give up”. We at Pos will keep this advice, for we believe it will take us a long way down the road to success.

Additionally, The Possible Project has also collaborated with the Cambridge Innovation Center working to find internships for the program’s participants so that they can have first-hand experience working for or with a company. I am excited to start my internship here with Prompt Communications. I look forward to writing in different ways and using new software as well as learning about the different technology companies Prompt promotes.

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July 14th, 2011

What can Twitter do for you? Find out with Prompt’s guide

What can Twitter do for you? Find out with Prompt’s guide

Want to get more out of Twitter? The Prompt guide: ‘Making Twitter Work For You’ can help. Download your free copy here for the UK version or here for the US one. Each highlights the most influential influencers (mostly journalists and bloggers) on Twitter in each region.

You can do a lot with 140 characters. And you should – Twitter has grown into a phenomenally powerful business tool, bringing companies, customers, and influencers like the media closer together than ever before. It’s a channel with the potential to provide direct communications with the people that matter most to your business, so it’s a tremendously useful resource.

But it’s also a daunting one. Twitter evangelists encourage people to ‘become part of the global conversation’, but to the outsider, the global conversation is bloomin’ noisy. Fascinating insights from powerful journalists and analysts seem to mingle with inebriated students talking about belly button fluff. Links to up to the minute news apparently go head to head with videos of dancing cats.

But when you get into it, you realise that getting value out of Twitter is actually quite simple. You just need the correct approach. That’s what our latest Prompt guide is all about.

Our Twitter guide is invaluable for any communications professional that wants to start using Twitter. The guide helps you cut through the noise. It covers a wide range of topics, providing practical suggestions and tips about how to prove the value of the service to business owners, post interesting and useful content, the best way to interact with other people, and much more.

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July 11th, 2011

News of the World closes: A can of political, media and legal worms opens

News of the World closes: A can of political, media and legal worms opens

Yesterday saw the last edition of the ‘News of the World’, with a double print run and a promise that all profits would go to charity. The paper’s closure was announced earlier in the week by Rupert Murdoch, the CEO and chairman of News Corporation, in reaction to escalating stories of illegal news-gathering tactics used by the paper, including phone-hacking on what is now being called an ‘industrial scale’, as well as bribery of police officers. The alleged phone-hacking targets include celebrities, politicians, and even 13-year-old murder victim Milly Dowler, in which case it is alleged that messages were not only accessed but also deleted from her phone.

The story goes beyond the closure of Britain’s largest-selling Sunday newspaper, which had been printed for 168 years. There’s a whole set of legal and political battles to come, including the control of UK satellite broadcaster Sky (BSkyB).  Some other points for consideration:

* The Independent on Sunday reported that UK Prime Minister David Cameron had received a “personal guarantee” from Rupert Murdoch that the former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was a safe bet to take on as press chief for Downing Street. After Coulson’s recent arrest, there is speculation that he may be one of the central figures in the scandal. He says he will not “carry the can”.

* Scotland Yard’s assistant commissioner John Yates gave a public apology for the failure to uncover the scale of the phone-hacking and letting down the victims. Scotland Yard launched – and closed – an investigation of phone-hacking in 2009.

* Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, the British newspaper publisher owned by News Corporation, stated “I know nothing”.  There have been calls for her resignation and she faces questioning by police.

* There are calls for the Government to increase press regulation, a challenge to the historic freedom of the UK press.

The scandal is also disrupting Rupert Murdoch’s proposed takeover of BSkyB, Britain’s largest commercial broadcaster, as well as damaging his standing with the UK Government. This morning in the UK, analysts reported that the takeover was “all but dead”, and there’s even speculation that News Corporation will be stripped of its existing 39% share of BSkyB. Meanwhile, the company’s shares have plummeted. This morning, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said Rupert Murdoch should “do the decent thing” and reconsider his BSkyB bid.

Now the British press – and the British public – are trying to piece together who knew what and when. The twists and turns of the last week have been like a movie plot. Expect the sequel this week.

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Posted in UK press | 1 Comment »



July 8th, 2011

Technical innovation and US patent law reform

Technical innovation and US patent law reform

Patent law is complicated. Get into the intricacies, and it’s enough to make the smartest head spin. Take Albert Einstein – he worked in the patent office, before deciding to do something simpler like find out how the universe works.

Even so, patent law is something that a lot of people are talking about right now. A couple of bills have passed through the US Senate and the House of Representatives that propose major revisions to the way patents are awarded. A final vote’s likely to happen soon and if these changes are passed, it’s going to have a significant effect on business in the US.

The America Invents Act, as the bills are collectively known, changes a number of fundamental parts of patent law. Most notably, it replaces the ‘first to invent’ system to a ‘first to file’ system. Rather than a patent going to the person who can provide evidence that they were the first to think of an idea, it would be awarded to the first party who filed the application.

The hope seems to be to encourage more innovation by removing the possibility for patent disputes, which can often take years and millions of dollars to sort out. The US economy could use a kick up the behind, and new products, processes and ideas are exactly what’s needed.

But the revisions come with a downside. The new law provides a clear advantage to larger businesses, which have processes in place to file patent applications much faster than a small company, or an inventor who tinkers around in his or her basement. That means if there’s a race to patent an idea, big business is likely to win.

Opponents also argue that it’s risky. Inventors will be unable to rely on grace periods anymore. In addition, in the rush to file, there’s every chance that the average patent quality to markedly decrease. There’s also greater incentive for industrial espionage, and theft of ideas, and less protection for the victims.

As a business owner, and someone who has spent years working with small and mid-size companies, I’ll admit to having concerns. There is definite weight to the arguments that the bills favor larger enterprises. Any company that can afford to employ teams of lawyers, paper-pushers and clerks to handle things like patent applications has a clear advantage over an organization with just a few people. A boost to the economy sounds great, but it would do the country no good to have small businesses or startups steamrolled by the big guys. After all, these companies play a huge role in driving job growth and boosting the economy.

But although I’m unnerved by possibility of these changes, I’m an optimist. The law may change, but America will remain packed full of innovators, visionaries and crazy geniuses. They just might require more help protecting their ideas now.

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Posted in Innovation, Patent law | Comments Off on Technical innovation and US patent law reform



July 1st, 2011

(Free) Prompt Workshops: Ten ways to boost your tech company's profile

(Free) Prompt Workshops: Ten ways to boost your tech company's profile

Free PR workshop for tech companies from tech PR firm Prompt CommunicationsThis week we launched our ‘Tech Marketing Therapy’ workshops with our first in the series: ‘Ten ways to boost your technology company’s profile’.

Held at our Boston offices in the Cambridge Innovation Center, aka ‘the CIC’, it was an opportunity for local tech entrepreneurs and marketers to hear our views on good communication strategy – and discover ways to increase their visibility through tactics such as messaging, positioning, developing news, getting customer testimonials, working with the press, and creating a fun and relevant ‘narrative’ for their business.

A big thank you to everyone who took time out to participate in our first workshop – and thank you too for your contributions, openness and feedback.

One point we covered in yesterday’s workshop (and one close to my heart) is the development of a personal narrative. After all, people buy and work with people – so it’s important that you include compelling details about your personal perspective in your overall story.

So if you’re a CEO or CTO, what brought you to the market? What do you love about it – what’s your passion?  If you’re a tech entrepreneur, then what was the trigger moment where you thought: “right, that’s it, I’m going to bloody well do it”?

My first such moment involved Sir Tim Berners-Lee and a 1982 Volkswagen Jetta*.  Another one, which resulted in our launch in the US, involved a man called Paul, two glasses of red wine, and a sunny day in Manhattan (no, it’s not as dodgy as it sounds).

Another element we covered was how to build up your ‘milestones’ and use them to explain what your company does and how it got to where it is today. To create your ‘milestones’ document, write down – and share – all the great things you have achieved: patents secured, products launched, new joiners, clients signed, business partnerships, offices opened – any opportunities you seized.

By sharing your successes, enthusiasm and passion you’ll attract like-minded people: be they clients, business partners or colleagues. That’s certainly been my experience to date,  and the first set of attendees at today’s workshop reinforced that belief. It’s also a chance to reflect on all the great and good things you have achieved and celebrate your company’s successes – and which company wouldn’t welcome an excuse to do that?

The workshop brought home to me once again just how privileged we are to work in such a fun and engaging market. We’re keen to keep on sharing the tech marketing love – so we’ll be running these workshops twice a month in Boston, once a month in San Francisco and once a month in London. Look out for more details soon!

* Sir Tim was not in the Jetta.  Nor, to my knowledge, had he ever been close to it.

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