quality

Rice University And OpenStax Announce First Open-Source Textbooks

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/07/rice-university-and-openstax-announce-first-open-source-textbooks/

openstax

When we think about the distribution industry being disrupted, we tend to think about music and movies, whose physical media and vast shipment infrastructure have been rendered mostly obsolete over the last decade. To a lesser extent, we hear about print, and the effect of e-readers and web consumption on books and magazines. No one is making the change particularly gracefully, and the same can be said of the textbook business, which does millions of dollars of business every year selling incredibly expensive items to students — who likely consider them anachronisms.

Rice University, which has been pushing alternative distribution mechanisms for scholarly publications for years, has announced a new initiative, by which they hope to publish free, high-quality textbooks in core subjects like physics and biology via a non-profit publisher called OpenStax College. It’s the polar opposite of Apple’s iBooks textbooks, which, while they too help drag this dusty industry into the present, amount more to a new sales vector for the publishers than competition.

Rice and OpenStax aren’t the first people to propose open-source or free textbooks. There are collections here and there, like Flat World Knowledge and Apple’s iTunes U — but they’re decidedly short on the type of books a freshman might have to buy for their year of survey courses: Biology 1, Physics 1, Sociology 1, Psychology 1. And 11 Learning has a similar idea of collaboration producing a book, but their creation model may not be economically feasible.

And of course there are the many companies that want to remove textbooks from the equation entirely. Setting up textbook platforms on new devices like Kno and Inkling, making an environment for meta-curricular activities and non-traditional learning like Khan Academy, or virtualizing the whole education experience, something with which many universities are tinkering.

But textbooks are still big business, and their utility in the education system is difficult to argue with right now. So OpenStax splits the difference: fueled by grant money from a number of private foundations (i.e. not government grants), they’re putting together full-on textbooks, peer-reviewed, professionally laid out, and all that. These textbooks will be provided for free in file form. But supplementary materials — quizzes, videos, presentations, and the like, presumably — cost money.

It would be petty to call this a bait and switch, since the bulk of the material is being provided for free. And a savvy professor or TA can scrape quite a few supplementary materials from the web already, thanks to those post-textbook services already mentioned. Providing the meat for free and the potatoes for a price is perfectly reasonable.

What remains to be seen is the quality of the textbooks. So far OpenStax has signed up “in the low tens” of colleged and universities to use the books. Institutions probably are waiting to see how the next year or so plays out: everything is in flux and to commit to one platform over another when the true costs and benefits are still unclear would be a bad move.

OpenStax’s first textbooks, for physics and sociology, will be coming in March, with others following later in the year. A strange time to make a debut, in a way, as the school year is well underway and many intro courses won’t be offered. But it will give time for the creaking machinery of academia to notice, acknowledge, examine, and judge the OpenStax offering. It may be that they can demonstrate their agility in fixing, improving, and expanding the content on the fly, which could either impress or terrify nodding faculty members who use the same text for a decade at a time.

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Sunday, January 8th, 2012 news No Comments

On your mark, get set, GOMC!

Source: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/on-your-mark-get-set-gomc.html

Professor registration for the 2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) is now open.
GOMC is a global online marketing competition open to professors and their students in any higher education institution. Professors sign up for the contest and then serve as guides and mentors to their student participants throughout the competition. Over the course of three weeks, student teams are tasked with developing and running a successful online advertising campaign for real businesses or nonprofit organizations using Google AdWords. In the process, they sharpen their advertising, consulting and data analysis skills. (Note: student registration will open on January 31, 2012 and students can only enter if their professors have signed up already and must sign up under their own professors).

After running their online advertising campaign for three weeks, students summarize their experiences in campaign reports, which they submit online. Based on the performance of the campaigns and the quality of the reports, Googlers on the GOMC team and a panel of independent academics select the winning teams.

The global winners and their professor will receive a trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. The regional winners (and their professor) will win a trip to local Google offices, and the social impact award winners will be able to make donations to nonprofit organizations that were part of the GOMC competition.

Last year’s challenge had 50,000 participants representing 100 countries, and this year we expect even more. For more information, visit www.google.com/onlinechallenge. Professors, here is a chance to help your students sharpen their marketing skills and make a global impact!

Posted by AJ Pascua, GOMC Team


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Wednesday, December 28th, 2011 news No Comments

1 in 3 Viewers Despises Television And Wants To See It Die

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/poll-results-1-in-3-viewers-despises-television-and-wants-to-see-it-die-2011-12


tv death

We recently polled Business Insider readers on their attitudes to paying for cable and satellite TV, and we asked for your comments on the future of television itself.

The survey was prompted by the news that a generation of “cord-nevers” and “cord-cutters” is forming — young people who don’t want to pay for cable TV because their laptops and mobile devices provide plenty of free video.

By late Friday, 910 votes had been cast and the result was overwhelming:

  • One third of you (307) said you had already given up pay TV and were not going back.
  • Only 94 voters said they paid for basic cable.
  • Another 103 owned up to buying premium TV service.
  • Those low numbers were equalled by the 95 voters who said they could not ever imagine watching regular TV again.

Here are the full results:

tv death

(The live poll is still open, incidentally.) Obviously, the poll is biased: It’s a self-selecting audience of people who are already getting their news from the web.

Meet the “cord-haters”

Having said that, it indicates that “cord-nevers” may not be the TV industry’s main problem. Rather, judging by the comment boards underneath both the poll and the original story about the death of TV, it is the “cord-haters”: People who actively despise traditional television with its clutter of irrelevant advertising and brainless programming. They are overjoyed that the web now offers an alternative way to watch shows and movies at a fraction of the cost.

The Credit Suisse report identified new technology as the culprit that is now eating TV’s business. But as far as B.I. readers are concerned, it’s not just about the ease of watching movies on an iPad. Rather, it’s that they find TV to be of such low quality that they just don’t want to watch any more of it. Only now has new technology allowed them to watch shows and movies without all of TV’s baggage, such as paying for 500 channels when you really only watch about 10.

Here are some comments from the cord-haters (more here):

Steven: The thing I hate about TV is you only watch a couple stations 99% of the time, but you pay for 150+ stations.

dargoola: This year I cut most of the digital premium channels with on demand add-ons because I never have time to watch them.

There’s a core Of TV channels I watch but it’s shrinking. I’m getting more of my news from the Internet, i blog a lot, and spend more time socially on the net. But TV is still it for the pure pleasure of vegging out and being entertained.

realchuck: I’ve stopped paying some 5 years ago. I installed a ‘seedbox’ with a friendly 3rd-world country hosting provider and just leech torrents (automatically). It costs me some $50 per month including unlimited traffic. So I get TV-shows on the next day, auto-downloaded, and any blu-ray movie – also on the next day. I don’t have to respect any delays imposed by the assholes in the industry.

flubber: TV will fail because of the parent companies and advertisers. How many infomercials do we need?
How many times do they need to cut to commercial during a football game? Quite frankly I do not watch a lot of TV anymore because the amount of real content being aired is a joke and the amount of commercials is just downright insulting. I download everything or watch it on the net.

Dean Wormer: The traditional TV folks are stuck. But they think this is about Netflix, Hulu etc. It’s not. Their product stinks. It’s been this way for years and its getting worse. Hulu is just methadone to get you off the crack pipe.

Krissy: Let us be real here, most regular network TV on now is pure unadulterated shite.

iWonder: Cable isn’t what it used to be. I had cable primarily for channels like Discovery, Science and History but now it seems those networks are being overrun by the same trash programming that took over the big networks a decade ago. Cable isn’t worth it now, 150+ channels and nothing worth watching, that’s why I’m done with it.

jasno: I abandoned broadcast TV because of the incessant commercials. Even on the discovery channel it’s too much. Worse, the commercials are pretty much never for anything that I might possibly buy. For example, I am never going to buy a Chevy Silverado pickup, or any truck, but I have been subjected to about 97,391 commercials for pickup trucks.

Some readers defended TV, saying it still played a useful role in their lives:

rusty syringe: Gave it up for awhile but came back this year. Direct TV’s free Sunday Ticket offer was to good to pass up.

As with most guys I know, if it weren’t for ESPN, NFL, and NBA I wouldn’t get cable. Sports is all I watch on TV.

Frank Castle: I’ve tried all the streaming services and the image quality is crap. With Comcast I have a crystal clear 1080 signal with Dolby digital sound. I have no desire to gather everyone around the laptop to view a show. All these services also are geared to the solo viewer. What do you do when Mom wants to watch HGTV, I’m watching a game, the kids have on disney channel. Your telling me running all those sevices seperately is going to be cheaper then another cable connection?

SEE ALSO: The Facebook Advertising Hall Of Fame: Here’s Who Is Nailing It On The Social Network

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Monday, December 12th, 2011 news No Comments

The World’s Largest Blockbuster Drug Just Went Generic — Here Are The Winners And Losers (PFE, WPI, ABC, TEVA, MRK, MYL, CVS, WAG)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-nations-largest-blockbuster-drug-just-went-generic-2011-11


pfizerap1017

With the expiration of Pfizer’s patent exclusivity on Lipitor, the nation’s top selling drug will go generic and see a market share split that will force manufacturers into a share race.

Lipitor, a cholesterol drug that reduces cholesterol, came to market in 1997 and ultimately peaked with sales of $13 billion. Last year, it contributed $10.7 billion in revenue to Pfizer.

Analysts remain divided over how much market share Pfizer will be able to hold on to. The company is aggressively discounting the drug through a program to entice patients to remain on Lipitor. Over the coming 180 days, Watson Pharmaceuticals and Ranbaxy Laboratories of India will enter the market.

Eight Citi analysts poured over data and see Pfizer retaining 40-50% of market share over the next half year. Delays out of Ranbaxy, which were prompted by U.S. regulatory bans over questionable quality concerns, will aid Pfizer.

But after the 180 days, when another round of pharmaceuticals like Teva and Aurobindo are allowed entry, the cost of Lipitor will drop to “pennies a day,” Citi analyst John Boris writes.

However, most of Lipitor’s decline has already been priced into Pfizer stock over the past year. “We maintain our Pfizer 4Q11E/2012E Lipitor sales/EPS contribution at $930M/$640M,” Boris continues. That represents a Lipitor sales contribution of 14-18% of fourth EPS, before falling to just 2% of earnings in 2012.

The largest to benefit from the change may be drug stores like CVS and Walgreens, which may see an uptick as more patients can afford to take cholesterol medications, even as average drug prices decline.

“In addition, we believe that the drugstores will be able to generate stronger gross profit dollars as the average gross margin for generic drugs is generally 50 to 60%, while the average gross margin for branded drugs is approximately 20%,” Boris says. 

Meanwhile, Pfizer is betting its name on smaller blockbusters in other drug categories to contribute $4 billion in new revenue by 2014 as it re-emerges in a world post-Lipitor.

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 news No Comments

Spending Tons Of Money To Attract New Customers Is A Stupid Idea

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/spending-tons-of-money-to-attract-new-customers-is-a-stupid-idea-2011-11


If you’ve ever tried to explain the concept of “make new friends but keep your old ones” to a five-year-old, you have a pretty good perspective on how many high-growth businesses approach customer acquisition and retention.  Growing businesses tend to spend so much of their time and money acquiring new customers that they often overlook their best source of growth: retaining and growing their existing customer base.

One of our clients has more than 90 percent of its resources–people, marketing budget, etc.–focused on creating millions of new customers a year. Their business model is based on monthly recurring feeds, much like the cable or wireless industries. Customers come in and they stay…until they don’t. An analysis of the client’s historical data shows that the average customer stays for an average of 2.5 years. Because their customer acquisition cost is lower than their expected customer lifetime revenue, they reach a break-even point in less than two years. So it’s a great business, as long as they keep generating new customers, right?

Wrong. The problem is that as the management team’s growth expectations increase, it gets increasingly harder to acquire more customers. As a result, customer acquisition costs go up and the quality of customers, in terms of how long they stick around, goes down.

To solve this growth dilemma, the client needs to ask three key questions:

  • What revenue growth will we achieve if we keep our existing customers for just one additional month, on average?
  • What will it cost us to do this by, say, improving customer service or adding customer benefits?
  • How does this growth compare, both in magnitude and cost, to acquiring new customers?

The answer for our client will be the same as it is in almost all businesses. It’s cheaper, easier, and more effective to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones. In fact, if this business can retain all of its customers by just one additional month on average, they can achieve an additional 3 percent of annual growth. If they can retain their customer base for four additional months, they can create double-digit growth–without adding a single customer.

It’s simple math–something that even a five-year-old might understand.

This post originally appeared on Inc.

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 news No Comments

Switching to Private Label Products is Accelerating and Irreversible

See the charts below from comScore, Nielsen and Symphony/IRI.  The percent buying branded products of past has dropped to 43%.  The percentage switching (2nd graph) is most in OTC drugs and apparel. And even if the economy improves, consumers would continue to buy private label. Whole Foods has been offering their 365 “house brand” for many years and Trader Joe’s also has great private label products that are often equal to or arguably higher quality than branded alternatives.

Brand Loyalty is Declining

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

willingness to switch to generic or private label versus branded product

 

 

 

 

consumers will continue buying private label even when economy improves

 

 

 

Related Article:  Spend Polarization – consumers save money in the down economy by buying more from Costco, Sam’s Wholesale, and BJ’s but when they splurge, they buy ultra-high-end.

 

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Monday, November 28th, 2011 Branding No Comments

Here’s The Information Facebook Gathers On You As You Browse The Web

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-tracking-2011-11


mark zuckerberg f8

Facebook stirred up privacy concerns when it came out that its “Like” and “Share” buttons appearing all over the web actually report your visits back to Facebook servers.

Now Facebook engineering director Arturo Bejar has shared what personal information the company retains with its tracking cookies, as reported by USA Today.

When you’re logged in, Facebook will keep a timestamped list of the URLs you visit and pair it with your name, list of friends, Facebook preferences, email address, IP address, screen resolution, operating system, and browser.

When you’re logged out, it captures everything except your name, list of friends, and Facebook preferences. Instead, it uses a unique alphanumeric identifier to track you.

Keep in mind that Facebook isn’t tracking your entire browsing history, just your visits to sites with “Like” and “Share” buttons.

Bejar told USA Today that Facebook technically could link your name to your logged-out browsing data, but he “makes it a point not to do this.”

Why does Facebook gather all this info and what do they do with it? By keeping so many details, it makes it easier to identify fake accounts and scammers. By keeping track of what users “Like” around the web, Facebook can show people ads that will be the most interesting to them and generate more revenue.

Despite Facebook having the best intentions — wanting to maintain a high quality user experience and generate ad revenue — you can see why privacy experts are concerned.

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Friday, November 18th, 2011 news No Comments

Social Gaming Network OpenFeint Coming to Android

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5581997/social-gaming-network-openfeint-coming-to-android

Social Gaming Network OpenFeint Coming to AndroidGood news for Android users who are miserable due to the limited game selection on their devices: Social gaming network OpenFeint is coming to Android and it’ll hopefully encourage development of more games for the mobile operating system.

OpenFeint To Bring World’s Largest Mobile Gaming Developer Community To Google’s Android Platform

Mobile Social Games Network’s Expansion to Android will Accompany Titles from Glu Mobile, Digital Chocolate, And Hudson Entertainment.

Burlingame, CA – July 8, 2010 – OpenFeint, the leading mobile social gaming ecosystem for iOS devices, today announced that its 9,200 member game developer community with thousands of published games will soon have a complete solution to thrive in the Android apps economy. Launching later this summer, the company’s complete solution will include its de facto standard SDK, a game discovery store and mobile payment options. It will also include high quality content from leading publishers Astraware, Digital Chocolate, Glu Mobile, Hudson Soft and independent studios like Distinct Dev (Moron Test), ustwo (Dot Dot Dot), Pik Pok (Flick Kick Football) and RocketCat Games (Hook Champ).

With a strong set of partners at launch, OpenFeint’s ecosystem provides Android users the most compelling way to discover and buy high quality online games. In addition to incorporating Google Checkout and leading community features into its developer SDK, OpenFeint will extend its wildly successful Game Spotlight discovery app to Android. Interested parties can register at www.openfeint.com/developers/android for details as they emerge.

At the same time, OpenFeint continues to invest in and expand its efforts on Apple’s iOS devices and maintains the largest mobile social gaming ecosystem on that platform with over 28 million users and a presence in over 2,200 live games.

“Android is an evolving gaming platform that will greatly benefit from OpenFeint’s industry leading online gaming and community technologies,” said Niccolo de Masi, CEO of Glu Mobile. “OpenFeint is leading the charge for game developers on Android, helping simplify and improve the game discovery and purchase process for players on the platform.”

OpenFeint also announced that its expansion to Android is backed by a recent strategic investment by leading Chinese online gaming company, The9. This marks the path for a significant expansion for the company as it rolls out its cross platform strategy. As always, OpenFeint will remain open source and free for both developers and players.

“OpenFeint continues to demonstrate leadership and innovation in building community technologies which drive considerable discovery and monetization for publishers,” said Jason Loia, COO of Digital Chocolate, one of the industry’s most highly-rated publishers of mobile and social games. “We are excited about their entry into the Android ecosystem and we look forward to partnering with them to bring the best gaming experience to the Android platform.”

With over 160,000 Android powered devices shipping daily, Google’s mobile platform is growing rapidly and leading game developers recognize the tremendous opportunity to bring quality content to the platform.

“This is a big step for OpenFeint and an even bigger step for Android as it becomes a serious mobile gaming platform,” said Jonathan Goldberg, Analyst at Deutsche Bank Equity Research. “OpenFeint ushered in mobile online gaming for iOS devices and we think they’ll lead the revolution on Android.”

OpenFeint also re-affirmed its continued commitment to the Apple iOS device community where thousands of games are in development and several games are approved in the App Store daily with OpenFeint enablement.

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Friday, July 9th, 2010 news No Comments

Homemade 16TB NAS dwarfs the competition with insane build quality (video)

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2010/05/07/homemade-16tb-nas-dwarfs-the-competition-with-insane-build-quali/

From the man that brought you the OS Xbox Pro and the Cinematograph HD comes… a cockpit canopy filled with hard drives? Not quite. Meet the Black Dwarf, a custom network-attached-storage device from the mind of video editor Will Urbina, packing 16TB of RAID 5 magnetic media and a 1.66GHz Atom N270 CPU into a completely hand-built Lexan, aluminum and steel enclosure. Urbina says the Dwarf writes at 88MB per second and reads at a fantastic 266MB per second, making the shuttlecraft-shaped 12.7TB array nearly as speedy as an SSD but with massive capacity and some redundancy to boot. As usual, the DIY guru shot a professional time-lapse video of his entire build process, and this one’s not to be missed — it showcases some pretty spiffy camerawork as well as the man’s welding skills. See sparks fly after the break.

Continue reading Homemade 16TB NAS dwarfs the competition with insane build quality (video)

Homemade 16TB NAS dwarfs the competition with insane build quality (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 07 May 2010 04:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink Hack A Day  |  sourceWill U. Design  | Email this | Comments

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Friday, May 7th, 2010 news No Comments

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