The blog formerly known as The Dobbs Method

Back to WordPress…

Posted in Internet, The Dobbs Method by Taylor Dobbs on 02/25/2010

After a two-week hiatus, I’m back to blogging here on wordpress. For the last two weeks, I was checking out a free trial of Squarespace, a browser-based site management service. It was awesome, and definitely a superior product (more customization, hosting, etc.), but it lacked one thing wordpress has: the price tag of 0.

As much as I’d like to be able to justify spending $7 per month on a website, this blog draws in some readers, but no money. Maybe once I’ve got a journalism gig and I can call it self-promotion, I’ll make the upgrade, but for now wordpress has me won.

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Google Pushes Broadband Market, Offers 1 Gbps Fiber-Optic Service

Posted in Internet by Taylor Dobbs on 02/11/2010

Think big with a gig.I posted earlier about the problem the U.S. has with broadband internet. Despite the availability of technologies that can offer extremely fast internet, as is in Japan and parts of Europe, the U.S. has stayed firmly behind. Part of the problem here is that, as with any economic market, suppliers (Internet Service Providers) won’t increase their own costs and keep prices the same just for the convenience of the consumer. They will, however, do this if it’s their only means of survival.

It appears that we’ll see a dramatic increase in speed in the broadband market over the next few years, as Google has just announced that they are running a small, 50,000 – 500,000 household internet service at 1 Gigabyte per second.That’s more than twice as fast as you can transfer songs to your iPod with that handy USB cable. Three entire DVDs, uncompressed, in the time it takes you to watch this video. In other words, it’s really fast.

What’s in it for Google? They want to test some experimental apps that will only run with extrmely high internet speeds, but I’m sure the income won’t hurt either. Another thing this means is that if Google takes a competitive market share, they can use that sway to push the net neutrality issues that they profit from so much.

The experiment is extremely small, which is definitely a bummer (if you’ were hoping to download Avatar in 3D HD before it came out on Blu-ray). Gmail started small too, then slowly spread from there. The model seems to be start small, stabilize, grow, stabilize, repeat. If Google follows this model, maybe Americans will finally be getting what they pay for by 2020. As it is now, we pay significantly more per megabyte per second than any other developed nation, and we run “broadband” that could be outmatched by Japan’s mobile carriers. Looks like the joke’s over for American ISPs.

As our favorite bartender would say, “Well it’s about damn time!”

The State of the Internet

Posted in Economics, Internet by Taylor Dobbs on 02/10/2010

Mashable posted a simple but very informative infographic about the state of the internet. It had information on demographics of internet users, usage statistics, a quick summary of the blogosphere, and probably most upsetting: internet statistics by nation.

The United States has the slowest broadband internet speed by far of all developed nations. If this isn’t depressing enough, my wonderful state of Vermont is ranked 47th in the nation for internet speed.

Considering America is forfeiting its manufacturing sector and moving almost entirely to an information economy, this is an extremely dangerous reality. It’s like being a fossil-fuel based economy and not producing any-

…well anyways, it isn’t good.

I’m all for Obama’s $8 billion rail stimulus, but I think (for once) AT&T is investing its billions more wisely this year, with $2 billion going to network improvements. This is a situation that will hopefully be fixed as quickly as American consumers realize how far behind the curve we are as a country and demand faster and more widespread broadband connectivity. Unfortunately for me and other tech-friendly Vermonters, I don’t think the movement is going to start anywhere near here.

Storage & Bandwidth: Media’s Best Friends

Posted in Internet, Technology by Taylor Dobbs on 01/28/2010

I grew up with Napster, Kazaa, Limewire, and all the rest. Back in the good old days when the government was more worried about Monica Lewinsky than how I got that copy of the new Backstreet Boys album. Legality aside, there is more media flying around the world than ever before. Sure, you could chalk it up to consumer culture and constant demand, but the real answer to the call came in the ability of technology to store and transmit all of this media.

A few months ago, Chris Anderson, author of Free: The Future of a Radical Price wrote an article in Wired titled “Waste is Good.” The premise of his idea is that in a world where the means are cheap and convenient, why not reach for ends that are a stretch?

With media, now more than ever, the means are cheap. Only three years ago my dad was telling me how shocked he was to find that external hard drives were selling at a dollar per gig of storage. Back then, I didn’t even know what a Terabyte was. Now I’m shopping around for a 1 TB drive under $150. With the access we have to storage devices that can hold so much for so cheap and computers that can create media for only $500 why not make that silly video you had an idea for? A few years ago, there was no point in making it because so few videos went viral. This was mostly the case because the idea of streaming a video was only out-dreaded by the idea of hosting one. YouTube changed all that. With the broadband technologies widely available and always speeding up and storage as cheap as we have, there are hardly any reasons left not to make that silly youtube video, check out that album you’ve been wondering about, download those pictures, or do any of the other things you can do with media.

It’s only going to get easier from here, so get to work on that viral video. You can’t afford not to.

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Digg Developing API

Posted in Internet by Taylor Dobbs on 08/05/2009

The social news site Digg (mentioned in my last post) has recently accounced that they are developing an Application Programming Interface, which will make it easy for programmers and web designers to create anything from desktop apps to online bots that automatically digg or submit stories.

This move by the site comes after it’s fallen somewhat to the background in the world of social media. Though it has a very large user-base, the average user does not use digg, whereas an average user has an account on either Facebook or Twitter. It appears as though digg is hoping to become an everyday part of the internet experience, with widgets on sites and maybe even a desktop application for heavy users.

As with any API, the effect of this decision will not be seen until developers get their hands on it. If digg is trying to catch up in the social media world, they’ve taken a step in the right direction.

[source: VentureBeat]
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Social Sites Decentralizing News

Posted in Internet by Taylor Dobbs on 08/04/2009

This isn’t news. It’s been clear for a while now that with the rise of blogs and other user-generated information, professional journalism (especially the stuff that comes on paper) is losing clout. As the influence of large sites like New York Times online and CNN fall, smaller news sites are on the rise. The unexpected side of this is that these sites are, in fact, reputable.


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Using Social Media and Tech to Keep in Touch

Posted in Internet, media, Personal by Taylor Dobbs on 07/14/2009

One of Facebook’s biggest selling points is its ability to string together a bunch of different phases in a person’s life into one place. Friends from High School can see what you’re doing now, and co-workers can get to know you in a more informal setting. One problem many people face is how to deal with family on social networks like Facebook. It can be pretty boring to hear about Aunt Sue’s recovery from knee surgery in your news feed, but if you don’t friend her, then there really isn’t much contact. Not to mention, most people in the two generations above mine don’t have Facebook. It’s a rapidly growing demographic on the social networking site, but of the sixteen aunts, uncles, and (grand)parents in my family, only three have a facebook. This brings up another tough question: When we almost solely rely on texting, Facebook, and instant messaging to run our lives, how do we stay close to relatives who aren’t so well-versed in such technologies?


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The Truth About Facebook (video)

Posted in Internet by Taylor Dobbs on 07/10/2009

A video about Facebook’s extremely sketchy privacy policies and the legal rights they have over their users. I would say the fact that they have these powers isn’t as scary as what they might do with them.

These arguments along with the amount of twisted people who are on Facebook make it a dangerous place to put personal information. I’m not advocating against Facebook, but I do believe everyone should take extreme care in knowing where their photos and status updates end up. As much as we’d like it to be, Facebook will never be as safe as being in a room with a group of friends. There is still a company that claims to own every piece of information you put on their site.

Update carefully!


Posted in Internet, Personal by Taylor Dobbs on 07/08/2009

In my never-ending quest to have a strong and enjoyable presence on the internet, I’ve created a tumblr page to compliment my blog as well as Twitter. There are so many thoughts I have that are worth more than a tweet, but that I don’t have time or energy to put into a blog post. I’m hoping tumblr will help me fill these gaps and help me get my two cents in.

You can find my page here. Tumblr is simply a mini-blogging site. I can make a quick post of a cool video I’ve found, an article I liked, or a quick story from my day. We’ll see how it goes. Enjoy!

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YouTube and Ustream: Internet Video Taking Over

Posted in Internet, media by Taylor Dobbs on 07/07/2009

Online VideoFor my birthday this past week, I got a Flip video camera. I already had a Mini DV Sony, but the Flip has the added bonus of being extremely lightweight and small, making its portability a huge benefit. Since I’ve had it, I’ve uploaded two YouTube videos and recorded about an hour of footage as I’m out and about with my friends.

My extra time on YouTube has also made me aware of a profession that I had no idea existed. People like Philip DeFranco make their living on YouTube. It’s a very, very simple business model: Record a 3-4 minute video three times a week of yourself stating your own opinions on news that already broke, put the video on youtube, have an ad pop up along the bottom, make lots of money. What? I, and the rest of America, has been stating our opinions about Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, and all of the other breaking news this week, but I don’t get paid. I suppose it’s DeFranco’s unique editing style and his great sense of humor that make his opinion so popular.