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A menagerie of musings this week, if you’ll indulge me:

1. Things heat up in the war on Piracy, Oink in a Sty.

Aurgh me matey, or should I say Oink! In certain circles the Oink online file sharing service was a well known source for pirated record releases, often pre-release albums that were available to invited users only. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry some 60 albums were provided this year alone. Given the closed nature of the service, it was difficult to pinpoint any wrongdoing, however after being infiltrated by Dutch/UK officials (seemingly by performing a Whois query on the domain name to determine the proprietors address, funny that!) a 24 year old has been taken into custody and the site has been suspended.

2. Holiday Shopping heats up, according to Hitwise, but which are the more popular online categories?

I love the Hitwise guys (an Aussie entrepreneurial success story in its own right) and in this analysis they look at the popular online shopping categories leading up to the holiday season, with some predictions for 2007.

3. Microsoft and Facebook get cosy

This week penultimate social networking site Facebook expands its advertising deal with Microsoft to cover international markets. In addition, Microsoft will take an equity stake in Facebook (now valued at US$15b) and in doing so will gain access to Facebook’s nearly 50 million users. Do you have a facebook account? I must admit I’ve found it more valuable than I would have thought, perhaps not professionally (LinkedIn is my preferred choice there) but certainly in reconnection with old friends.

4. Can Google Track TV Audiences like never before?

Google and Nielsen Company will strike a deal this week to create a ‘vivid and more accurate snapshot’ of how many people are viewing commercials in real time, along with who those people are. A marketers dream, a libertarian’s nightmare, the natural progression in my mind might be to screen a Holden Ute commercial during Renevation Rescue and if the viewer is a tradesman book them in for a test drive. Or something. Oh I know, how about canceling shows like Viva Laughin BEFORE the first adbreak? Now theres some viewing democracy right there!

5. NASA Sat Pictures of the Southern Californian Fires

Courtesy of Treehugger blog and NASA, The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 12 large, uncontained fires have burned over 335,000 acres in Southern California.

6. A little design sexiness, Aaron Tang’s “Wall Stairs”

You know I’m a sucker for a well thought out idea, and here Aaron has created a simple pull out stair case. I want one! It doesn’t even have to go anywhere.

– Ben Prendergast

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