Friday, January 28, 2011

YouTube New Ideas Week: Is YouTube For Kids Like Totlol?

YouTube invited TechCrunch' Jason Kincaid to their offices to show what they're working on and how they roll out the new products during what is called "New Ideas Week." There are two new creations of note: one called "YouTube for Kids" and the other for the kind of "Qik-like streaming" I did at CES 2011, except that I actually used

But "YouTube For Kids" reopens a really thorny issue that, when re-consumed, causes one to wonder why YouTube would re-open a matter in such a way as to run the risk of placing it in a bad light. As a YouTube Partner, I'm not comfy about what I'm about to present. Blogging about this is not fun, but it's got to be done, and now.

The Brief Story Of Totlol

The December 29th 2009 TechCrunch featured a blog post by Erick Schonfeld called "The Sad Tale Of Totlol And How YouTube's Changing TOS Made It Hard To Make A Buck."

Totlol was a platform created by Developer and Entrepreneur Ron Ilan, that consists of videos from YouTube that were created by parents for kids. Cool, except that Ron created Totlol using YouTube's API (Application Program Interface), and Erick reports that Google "just happened" to change YouTube's Terms of Service (TOS) to prohibit the creation of something like Totlol or any system using its API for commercial use on the same day that YouTube featured Totlol on it's Google Code widget.

In other words, Google stepped in at the time and said, "OK, now no one can make something that makes money using our product that we didn't create ourselves." On the face of it, that would seem to not impact Totlol, which was first created in 2008. Right?

Well, not exactly. The change in the YouTube TOS hurt Ron's ability to make money because he could not place ads on Totlol anymore. He asked for permission from YouTube, but got no response at first.

Then a YouTube rep did reach out to Ron in June of 2009, and tried to understand how to avoid such a situation in the future as well as "What types of business models would we need to support in order to make this worth a developer’s while?," but nothing benefiting Ron came of the meeting.

In an account that is no longer available online, even in its cached version, Ron explains what he thinks was "up" at Google, according to TechCrunch:

When the YouTube API team saw Totlol they liked it. At about the same time someone else at Google saw it, realized the potential it, and - or similar implementations may have, and initiated a ToS modification. An instruction was given to delay public acknowledgement of Totlol until the modified ToS where published. Later an instruction was given to avoid public acknowledgement at all.
Now, Ron's site is down, as is any indication of criticism of YouTube, and the one bit of evidence that he created Totlol is on his Linkedin Page, which reads:

Founder / Creator
(Internet industry)
February 2008 — September 2010 (2 years 8 months)
Totlol was an award winning, community-moderated Video Website designed for kids and powered by YouTube.

- Sole developer.
- Identified the market opportunity, defined product use cases, architecture and UI. Preformed several feedback and usability driven upgrade cycles.
- Features included access to 10s of thousands of videos, extensive personalization, an Age Optimizer for content and multiple Age Optimized Interfaces. Web application was available in custom mobile versions for iPhone and iPad.
- Drove product marketing and positioning as first website of its kind and leader of the segment. Website been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today.
- Distinction and awards: Google Code Featured Project, Apple Featured Web App, PC Magazine Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites, Webby Awards Official Honoree.
- Working environment: Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, Zend Framework, YouTube Data API, Google Data API OAuth, JS, HTML/CSS and YouTube Chromeless Player.

Judging by the timing of things, where he shut down September of 2010, perhaps some kind of settlement was reached between Ron and Google / YouTube. One hope's so. Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports that "YouTube For Kids" is...

"a fully revamped version of YouTube designed specifically with children in mind. Heckmann says that children tend to use YouTube differently than adults, and obviously there is content on the site that kids shouldn’t be exposed to. What’s worse, sometimes kids stumble across this content accidentally because of the way the site’s automated suggestions work.

To remedy this, YouTube is building a version of the site that’s been reworked to have absolutely no text, save for the YouTube logo. Videos that do appear will be based off of whitelists, so there won’t be any chance of accidentally stumbling across something unsavory or scary. At this point it sounds like the project still has a ways to go (it was initially created during a New Ideas week last summer), but it’s on the way."

One clue to the current relationship between Ron and YouTube comes from his Twitter Page @ronilan. By the looks of tweets, he's got a cordial (ie: non-flaming and re-tweeting) Twitter relationship with YouTube CEO Chad Hurley and Project Engineer Hunter Walk, who's an all-around good guy, so by appearances it seems that Ron walked away happy, the case was closed, and YouTube's working on something based on what Ron developed.

I really hope I'm correct.

Stay tuned.

Soluto CEO Tomir Dvir Talks Startup, Has Fun At The Crunchies

Soluto's a company you've probably not known of until now. It started as an idea by Tomir Dvir. who's now its CEO, and his business partner and with a boffo presentation at TechCrunch Disrupt 2010 New York City, rapidly gained fans and funders. Now, with over 1 million users in less than a year, the Israel-based company is on its way toward Tech startdom.

(What's interesting is I met Tomir and his people over lunch at Tech Crunch Disrupt, and before their Startup Battlefield presentation.  It's interesting, and yet a standard habit if you're involved in the Tech Community in the Bay Area in some way, to meet a group of people - or be involved with that group - who are unknown but have a good product idea and company around it, then watch them "hit the match stick," where that company gains in popularity, then funding, then growth.  Such is the path Soluto's on.)

You use Soluto to get ideas on how to solve problems with your PC. Tomir says the idea was to access the brains of "the Geeks" as he says, to help solve anyone's problem via crowdsourcing.

Crowdsourcing is giving or "outsourcing" a task usually done by one person to a group of people. The Internet provides a great foundation for crowdsourcing efforts, and Soluto's platform accesses its user base to help a person deal with their computer problem. PC World reports that Soluto actually shortens PC boot times.

I caught up with Tomir at The 2011 Crunchies, the annual Tech awards show, where, as much as Tomir's a business person, he's also a lot of fun to hang out with and talk to. A runner up at The Crunchies, Tomir said "It's like the Oscars, but more fun."

And part of the fun was the party at The Exploratorium, which provided a great backdrop to talk about his company.

On the subject of Soluto's growth, he said "It's been amazing. We passed a million downloads already. TechCrunch Disrupt was the kick start for that." And now with investor backing, Soluto has a small staff that handles its day to day operations and issues.

Soluto Coming To Mac, Android

Right now, Soluto's only for the PC and not the Mac because the PC "represents 90 percent" of the computer market, he says. But, eventually Soluto will expand to include the Apple MacBook, and he specifically mentioned the Android mobile platform, as well.  

Yes, the iPhone OS too.

Stay tuned.  

Jersey Shore Season 3 Episode 5: Abusive Relationships

Jersey Shore picks up from last week with JWoww and Snooki at JWOww's place getting all her belongings. Ryder shows up at the house at Seaside and Vinny coincidently answers the door - remember now, those two smushed and Snooki walked in.

The group is planning to celebrate Ryder's birthday.

The title of the episode is "PUNCH DRUNK LOVE."

Things go insane from here - extremely insane. There's so much to comment on.

Sammi gets upset with Ronnie talking to a girl at the club, which - although having no experience with those types of clubs, why would a boyfriend be chatting with another girl in the first place? Well, whatever the case Sammi was very upset by this.

Meanwhile Vinny is trying to get with Gina, but her uncle is being a "cockblock." He compares his situation to Romeo and Juliet, ha.

Back at the house the "grenade whistle" is blown, how funny.

Image Courtesy of
Ronnie throws Sam's belongings telling her to GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT JUST LEAVEE!
Why does it still have "Sweetheart" next to Sammi's name? No one calls her that.

Then Sammi and Ronnie fight and Ronny talks to JWoww about this. Sammi goes crazy and repeats over and over "ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH HER?!?!?" Which is followed by a nice punch in his jaw, now this clip has been analyzed thoroughly and this girl knows what she is doing. She stepped back and really went in for it - that was not just a rookie shot, that was the kind of punch that really takes some effort.

Courtesy of
Jenni tells Ronnie that the ONLY reason SHE wrote the note to Sammi about what he did in Miami was so that Sammi would go home. Becoming friends with JWoww just like that after a fight with Sammi was not bright, especially after what went on. Big hugs? Too soon.

Ronnie cries a lot after being punched. Seriously, that punch was epic.

Meanwhile at the barbershop there is a rumor that Dean started that Deena likes to BLEEEEEP BLEEEP BLEEEP. All the "BLEEEEP"-ing was so confusing that it was difficult to understand what they were saying, but after consulting with others the general consensus is that Dean was basically saying that Deena likes to.. suck on butts... well, that was awkward to type. Yes, and then Deena saw Dean at the club after Mike confronted her at the gym and she confronted Dean and it was all just messy.

Snookie pays over $200 to get a stripper pole for the house with Vinny.

Sammi threatens to go home - she packs her bags and everything and even calls her mom.
But then she stays and she ends up cuddling with Ronnie -- talk about dysfunctional.

JWoww then offers to be friends with Sammi - oh boy, this will lead to something insane.

A common theme in this season is that it seems like there is less "smushing" or "hooking up" in reference to Situation and Pauly D. This episode Roger and JWoww got it on, and JWoww was annoyed with her puppies during that time.

Image Courtesy of MTV
The episode was epic - that punch was just, wow.

Vinny was the voice of reason saying, "You need sucky things in life to make you stronger." He also went on about Sammi's ego.

His tweets were quite hilarious and made it known that this would be quite the episode. However, this episode was not as good as last weeks, but it did have a lot of drama - violence in relationships, dysfunction; next Thursday will be another JERSDAY.

P.S. Ryder gets a birthday cake.

The vlog to accompany this post mostly deals with the abuse that went on within the episode and other thoughts:

Georgia Ban On Sunday Beer Sales May Fall Due To Economy

If you wanted to buy beer in Georgia on Sunday, known as the seat of The Bible Belt, you had to go to an Atlanta Falcons game to do it. But that may end as the Georgia Legislature considers removing the ban next week.

It's something that new Governor Nathan Deal is expected to approve into law if it passes, and it looks like it has the votes.


The economy here is at 10.3 percent and store business owners are tired of seeing Georgians hop the boarder between Georgia and Tennessee just for beer on Sunday.

The whole deal with liquor here is whacked. Some counties allow you to purchase hard liquor and others don't. If the Sunday beer ban falls, local counties and cities will have a choice regarding maintaining the law, but given the need for revenue and jobs, it's hard to see too many local municipalities doing that.

Stay tuned.