Pudding Media, a small San Jose startup, with development staff in Israel, founded by brothers Ariel and Ruben Maislos is “growing” a technology that marries voice recognition with ad-serving technology in a unique and potentially powerful way.

The company provides free phone calls via browser in exchange for tapping into or “eavesdropping” into your conversation. The system recognizes spoken keywords. Combined with profile data provided for the “free” service, algorithms will determine which ad offers are best suited to your profile during the conversation. Ads are displayed on your PC or e-mailed to you (eventually directed to your cell phone as well) with the expected result to be a click-to-action.

The company, whose management team is heavy with technology experience, is funded by VCs to include Opus Capital, an experienced venture team that has played an integral role in the early stages of many successful companies, such as Bridge Communications, DoubleClick and FedEx.

The single concern with the platform focuses on measuring real consumer need for free calls given broad, low cost (often free as well) VOIP access and the over-riding issue of privacy and security.

Although the technology is innovative, the business model will likely need to change.

For mode information, visit their website at
Pudding Media.


Yet another commercial, superimposed logo, pop-up promo or screen-crawl. Television broadcasters have run away with promotion overload pushing viewers to lash back by tuning out.

Scheduling commercials to satisfy revenue demands is understandable … some would argue to the point of driving audiences to the competition …. The Internet.

Today, the number of commercials is no longer regulated by the FTC (except for children’s programming). Broadcasters do, however, attempt to adhere to a maximum of 18 minutes (36 30-second commercials) per hour! That figure does not include in-program superimposed promotions.

I’ll interrupt my rant so that you can hear what the comic, Lewis Black, has to say …. humorous but true!

Enjoy the laugh.


As new forms of digital, or electronic, commerce and communication take root in our lives, so has the syntax that evolves to help us interact with one another.

The Oxford dictionary does not have a policy on e-words. It does, however, show the e-prefix denoting the use of electronic data transfer through the internet.

E-mail started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. E-mail was quickly extended to become network e-mail, allowing users to pass messages between different computers by at least 1966.

Other findings and polls taken over the last 10 years seem to support the hyphenated version, or e-mail, while some authorities claim the email version as most suitable.

A 1995 search on about 40 million words of Usenet news articles, counted the following forms:

email 19371
e-mail 15359
E-mail 7572
Email 5906
E-MAIL 3659
E-Mail 2986
EMAIL 1269
EMail 521
eMail 303
e-Mail 42

Total without hyphen: 27378
Total with hyphen: 29622

In yet another study, articles posted to alt.usage.englishbetween mid-May and mid-September 1995, found 604 instances of"e-mail" and 235 of "email".

Many dictionaries favour "E-mail", which can be justified by analogy with such forms as "A-bomb", "C-section", and "G-string".

The "other" G-String


From time to time I will happen upon a site that I believe deserves praise for the information it provides … at no cost, and the ease with which you can navigate its contents.

Zillow.com is, very simply, a real estate valuation tool. Type your home address into its search field and, in seconds, the site will provide you with a host of information ranging from an estimated property value and square footage to the year it was constructed. The site also provides an aerial photo (courtesy of Microsoft’s Virtual Earth), estimated taxes as well as the last sale date.

The site generates its information on over seventy million homes on a county by county basis. Naturally, not all county municipalities carry matching data and in some instances the estimates are provided as a range. The site will, however, let you know how complete the data is for the area you’re searching in. My guess is that the site originated as a tool for the real estate trade and has broadened to the consumer market with close to 1.7 million page views per month. And yes, it accepts advertising.

Want to know what your neighbor’s home is worth? Can’t wait to drop the “confidential” information on that house that sold in the Hamptons last month at the next cocktail party? Want to explore the value of your own home or NYC condo in today’s market and put it up for sale? Zillow it!

While the sale of a home is a matter of public record and is accessible with a simple visit to a town clerk’s office, most owners would rather the information be kept private …. or as private as possible and not necessarily open to broad public view “on demand”.

Although home values rise and fall with the country’s economy, the digital revolution has forever changed its landscape.


This commentary will likely not be the first you will read on the controversial new CBS reality show, Kid Nation.

The premise of the show is to take forty kids, aged eight to fifteen, to an abandoned ghost town in New Mexico and let them bring the town back to life and create a society complete with its own government. Parents were forbidden to interact in any way with the kids or the production … and that’s where the swirling controversy begins. Many are finding the production highly offensive.

Questions concerning adult supervision, child labor laws, physical and psychological health of the children and insulation from state authorities are now haunting CBS and the show’s producers. Advertisers are getting cold feet as well.

Although it can be argued that the parents willingly accepted the conditions under which filming would occur and that the children wanted to undertake the challenge, some would suggest that they are too young to make rational decisions and that their parents had no right to “sign certain rights over” to CBS.

In either case, the children were not forced to remain on the set and could opt out of the production.

The real question here, outside the legal issues, is what the purpose of the show is? Most, including those who argue against the show, believe it was to see how the kids survive the ordeal. Although we might never know the motive, beyond ratings, for CBS, there are valuable lessons to be learned …. not for the kids, but for adults.

As adults, we manage societies governed by rules that are often created by our governments, corrupt or otherwise. Children are unencumbered by rules and are “tainted” only as they mature into adulthood. A child’s innocence sparks creativity and nurtures an open and honest environment built on trust and confidence.

We can all learn by watching children play, work, laugh and ask questions. It is, perhaps the single most redeeming factor the show offers that may have been overlooked in the swirling controversy.