If words were action

Last night, the President said: “Our goal is to get the work done quickly. … And taxpayers expect this work to be done honestly and wisely, so we will have a team of inspector generals reviewing all expenditures.” I hope he keeps that promise, for a change—in Iraq, his watch has allowed $9 billion in outright fraud and waste; he does not have a track record of success.

He also talked about creating incentives for small companies, getting people back to work and “confronting poverty.” Hopefully, he’ll see the error in cutting wage protection for workers as counteracting his high-minded words. Americans would like to see this president keep his promises in word and deed, another area where the results are always worse than the promise. In the high-tech industry, we talk about companies that “over-promise and under-deliver,” which has been the hallmark of the Bush years. Were Mr. Bush to succeed in confronting poverty, by supporting a fair wage, among other things, it would be a great victory for the country.

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Google Blog Search, the 85-word review

The new Google Blog Search is deceptively underwhelming. It simply returns a list of postings by Page Rank (based on number of inbound links and other flourishes) or by date. It’s comprehensive and offers no organizing interface to “add value” to the results, just like Google.

I like the ability to create an RSS feed of the results, making it an easy way to monitor keywords. Nice foundation to build on from one perspective and yet another way for Google to reap advertising inventory.

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Audible Launches EarBuds Podcast

John Federico, Tim Bourquin of The Podcast Brothers, and my friends at Audible introduced a new program, the EarBuds Podcast.

Lots of good ideas about podcasting and guests, including Doug Kaye of IT Conversations.

Like Evolution Media and This Just In, the EarBuds is available in Audible’s .aa format, which gives you great sound quality with bookmarking, playback from where you last stopped, and much more. The files play for free in iTunes 5.0, Windows Media Player and most portable devices.

Mitch says check it out. Here’s the feedlink.

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An archive of Katrina-related documents and testimony

GAO: GAO Reports and Testimonies Related to Disaster Preparedness, Response and Reconstruction

The Government Accountability Office has collected a comprehensive archive of documents and testimony about disaster preparedness, the potential role of the Department of Homeland Security in disaster response, and a variety of scenarios for which we are no longer prepared.

Dig in!

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Skype: Paypal for people talking

Om Malik’s Broadband Blog » SkypeBay done for $4.1 Billion.:

So the deed is done – $4.1 billion. EBay will pay $1.3 billion in cash and $1.3 billion in stock for the online communications company. It will make a further payout of up to $1.5 billion if certain financial targets are met, Reuters reports. Charlie Sierra calculates: “So at 50m downloads, that’s $52/download, or $26 In CASH per download.” Downloads, are the new “Pageviews” it seems!

Big, big deal, though it doesn’t change EBay’s core business the way some are arguing. Like PayPal, which focuses on a financial transaction, Skype will focus on a voice interaction that a.) supports EBay’s core business (you’ll be able to call a vendor from within a product listing), and b.) the Skype service will be sold to EBay’s vast audience as a standalone voice service, as well. Collectively, it is a big win for both sides.

Now, is EBay paying on a cost-per-download basis? Maybe for purposes of the pay-out portion of the deal (which confirms the notion that the test the companies agreed to is “We’ll see if we can get the EBay user base to install this”). The real basis of the deal, however, is some multiple of SkypeOut revenue that, if I had to guess, rivals the cost-per-subscriber fees paid by cable companies during the acquisition binge of the late 1990s, in the range of 150 to 200 times the monthly revenue of the business. When you’re betting on growth, that’s reasonable. And there’s definitely a lot of growth to be won in this market—EBay’s customer/seller base is probably the best platform for achieving that growth.

UPDATE: Based on James Enck’s comments, EBay is paying about 68 times current revenue for Skype at $4.1 billion. I don’t think that’s an absurd price, given that next year’s $200 billion in revenue represents growth of 333 percent over the next year. Congrats to Lenn Pryor on a well-time migration to Skype.

And more UPDATES: The Financial Times reports how EBay will offer a cost-per-call marketing service:

The most radical addition however would be “pay-per-call” services. This is a similar concept to pay-per-click, the advertising business that provides most of Google’s revenues. Google and other large search providers allow advertisers to place a link alongside search results for particular terms – for example, online coffee merchants can pay for an advertisement alongside the results that appear every time a web user searches for “coffee beans”.

Advertisers pay a fee for each time a web user clicks on their advertisement, and the “price-per-click” is determined on an ad-hoc basis, depending on the popularity of the keyword that the advertisement is connected to.

Ebay is proposing to a similar model, but with Skype phone calls instead of clicks.

Ms Whitman said advertisers in some industries would pay between $2 and $12 per telephone call. There are 1.9bn searches carried out on Ebay’s auction network every day, she said.

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First in line: Halliburton

Joho the Blog: Halliburton gets Katrina contracts:

War-profiteer Halliburton — after $1.5B in “questioned” and “unsupported” costs in its Iraq bonanza — has been awarded $29.8M to start rebuilding naval bases in Louisiana and Mississippi.

I know $29.8M is nothing to a company like Halliburton, but, can’t we get even a semblance of propriety?

Hear, hear! The first contracts go straight to the VP’s favorite company. This is a regional disaster where plenty of companies in the region could benefit from the contract to help bring local workers back on the job….

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Can we fire him now?

TIME.com: How Reliable Is Brown’s Resume? — Page 1:

Since Hurricane Katrina, the FEMA director has come under heavy criticism for his performance and scrutiny of his background. Now, an investigation by TIME has found discrepancies in his online legal profile and official bio, including a description of Brown released by the White House at the time of his nomination in 2001 to the job as deputy chief of FEMA.

Seriously, isn’t it time to fire this guy? Why leave him in charge after his performance of the last two weeks, compounded by the fact that, now that his incompetence is publicly evident, we’ve learned he and the White House exaggerated his qualifications?

UPDATE: Finally, but he shouldn’t still be at FEMA.

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