Contactless Visa SmartCards on the Horizon

CNET is reporting that Visa, Mastercard, and American Express are all experimenting with using contactless smartcards to make shopping easier for consumers.

Here’s an idea for Visa: How about working together with Microsoft and some hardware OEMs to make your new smartcards work as secure logins for Windows PCs & Servers? With the reader in-place, you could also allow users to use the contactless cards for e-shopping (note: make sure that commerce sites can’t spoof a login screen to get your payment info, maybe require two swipes separated by 5 seconds to authorize an internet transaction).

If that’s not enough, talk to Ford, GM, Toyota, etc, and get them to let me use my Visa card to unlock and start my car.

Maybe even talk to the folks at Weiserlock and get them to build a Powerbolt model with a reader built in.

Lastly, don’t make it a “card”, make it a fob. Or offer to build it into my phone, or let me wear it as a ring or bracelet.

The way I see it, this is a win-win-win. Consumers get easier identity management for shopping, computing, and even operating thier cars. Visa gets more consumers using thier product instead of cash or other means. Microsoft gets to partner with some big names in the financial and auto industry, and gets to build something better than passwords into Windows, which leads to better security. Everyone gets cheaper smartcard technology when there is a higher production volume.

Webmail.us Embraces Business Blogging

While it’s interesting to watch people like Robert Scoble instigating change at a large behemoth like Microsoft, I think it’ll be much more interesting to watch how smaller, agile businesses like Webmail.us (formerly Excedent Technologies) makes use of the technology to do better in business.

The key here is that this is a company that is not exclusively about blogs, who is embracing blogs and rss as a way of improving their business & improving their focus on customers. This isn’t just some stupid PR blog. If you peruse their website, or their CEO’s blog, or their company blog, you can see that they are drinking the Business Blogging Koolaid, and asking for more.

Best wishes for success to Pat and his team!

How to Market the TabletPC

Get Dell to sell one.

Simple isn’t it? Well, obviously, Dell is their own company, and they can’t be forced or coerced into doing somehting like this, but Microsoft should be working thier collective tails off trying to get a TabletPC on the Dell lineup.

Adoption by Dell is seen by the industry as an indication that a technology is ready for prime-time. Many companies use Dell computers exclusively, and only re-evaluate other company’s offerings every few years. For these companies, TabletPC’s aren’t an option yet. And really, if it was such a great platform, Dell would sell one right?

Improve your public speaking skills

Startup Journal has a good post on how to improve your public speaking skills.

I’ll just add one more suggestion:

Read to your kids.

This can be even more effective if you use funny voices, and try to convey the emotions of the story to your “audience”. Kids are pretty forgiving, they’re patient when you stumble over words or lose your place. For added technical challenges, read in a dimly lit room, or sit on the floor facing your “audience” with the book on the floor in-between and try to read upside-down. You will stumble, and stutter, and you’ll learn to get through the distractions.

Windows Server, Home Edition, Continued

I was pleased to see that my post about a proposed Windows Server, Home Edition, generated a fair amount of discussion accross the blogosphere.

Charlie Kindel provided support in this post.

Meandering-Blog had this post.

Chris Gonyea weighed in with this post.

Bill Lazar even likened my post to a Product Requirements Document.

And I received a mention and a link on Scoble’s main blog, in this post.

Most of the public discussion seemed to support the idea, with some detractors pointing out the unrealistic price point (I agree somewhat, but I still think that <$500 is the best target price.)

Other’s focused on my inclusion of MCE technology as a failing. My point #6, “Media Server – Take everything that Media Center does, and include it.” was probably a bit too broad. If you want digital video recording and time shifting, and a cool on-screen interface, then you should probably have a dedicated MCE PC. The home server should simply play nice with MCE, and serve as a media hub. Trying to include “everything” from MCE is unrealistic, and would drive the price up unecessarily.

I was a little disappointed that some of the other details went unmentioned: The idea that this would be derived from the Small Business Server code-base, the Remote-Backup subscription service, and the “Home Edition” licensing scheme. Each of these is a can of worms waiting to be spilled!

Thanks to everyone that weighed in on the dialogue!