tech - hawg
Thursday, August 31, 2006
  What makes Google

I came across (via a fascinating article about Google today. It's basically an inside look at how Google in many cases has built their own technology in order to best fir their needs. From the article, you get a sense of just how important open source technology has been for Google and how it's beneiftted them. We also get a sneak peek (pictured) at that huge globe they have on display that shows queries being ran thru Google in real-time. What I would give to see this in person. Everytime I hear it, it just sounds so wickedly cool. Anyway, what I dug was how the article touched upon what Google has built and how they use it. Like their custom web server:

Google created its own Web server instead of using the open source Apache Web server, which underpins more than 60% of Web sites. Google's Web server can run on more machines and balance workloads among servers more effectively than Apache for Google's large code base, which contains lots of dependencies among programs, DiBona says. The company's approach to software like the Common Gateway Interface standard for linking databases to dynamic Web pages may be harder to use than with Apache, but it runs faster. "If we can eke out 10% to 20% better performance, we can save a lot of power, AC, and people," DiBona says.

Or thier application that tracks job applicants:

A tracking system automatically pulls information on job applicants, gives a hiring manager a job candidate's resumé, offers questions to ask, and sends the manager an e-mail after the interview asking what he or she thought of the candidate. Job interviews can involve logic questions, writing code, talking about software architecture, and generally proving to Google's brain trust that the applicant is a fast learner, since the company doesn't keep people working on the same problems for very long.

Overall, it just sounds like an awsome place to work if you're techinically minded. Good read.
  Firefox 2 beta 2 now available

Want to experience how Firefox 2 web browsing will work? Head on over and check out the Firefox 2 beta that was recently released. Being beta, if it breaks, don't come complaing to us :)

Austrailian-born social networking site seems to be positioning itself as a more colorful, multimedia-friendly site than the many other SoNet (short for social networking) sites out there (ie Myspace). While the site itself isn't new (you can view previous versions here), it's currently relaunching it's brand so to speak.

Now, you can easily share your photos and music or enable others to use widgets of your data on their sites. The business model is similar to the flickr business model. You can upload whatever you want but with a free account, you have limits on storage space and bandwidth. For $25.00 you can upgrade to a pro account which gives you unlimited space and bandwidth.

What's also notable about this SoNet site is it's music sharing capability. You can basically create your own playlist of your favorite songs and you can take that playlist and throw it up on your site. The MySpace crowd would dig this but this could also be of use on blogs. They also plan on building a music store service, so, I'm assuming, a person can purchase a song they may be listening to on the playlist you have playing on your site. Very cool. They're also supposed to be adding photo editing and the ability to upload from your mobile.

[noticed on mashable]
  Wall mounted aquarium..

I wish I had one of these in my cube right now. I almost feel calmer just looking at it.
  The iCarta, iPod on your toilet roll

For a device that sits on your roll of toilet, it sure does sound noble doesn't it? I mean, the iCarta? Sounds like something you should use on your next expedition...expedition to the toilet! This is too funny, the one product description that seemed a little "ick" to me was this one:

4 Integrated high performance moisture-free speakers deliver exceptional clarity and high quality sound

Moisture-free! I don't even want to know. I guess it doesn't hurt to be safe. That's better than them not being moisture free and blowing up right next to you while you're on the can.

[from fosfor]
  Light up your faucet

If your bathroom needs a little sprucing up, check out these Blue LED Faucet lights from the geek heaven known as ThinkGeek. This picutre just looks soo cool. Check out images of the lit up faucet in use and there's even some video . I would love to install this without telling my wife and just watch her use it for the first time at 2 in the morning when she has to go to the bathroom. Priceless.

[by way of fosfor]
  High capacity USB flash drives coming from Toshiba

Toshiba is set to launch four new models for their TransMemory line of USB drives. There are a few features that makes this drives stand out. First of all, these drives hold osme serious stoage, we're talking mulitple gigabytes here. The largest drive capacity-wise will be the 16 gigabyte drive that is set to be available around the end of December. The size of these drives makes it eaiser to make use of another interesting TransMemory U3 feature, the ability to store your desktop preferences and some programs on these drives so that they load up when you plug the drive into any USB friendly pc. That's only half of the coolness though, when you're done with your pgrograms and you go to remove the USB drive, the drives takes your programs and preferences with it, leaving nothing from the USB drive (neither your programs or preferences) behind on the pc you were just on. If I were a hacker, I would be all over this.
  Guba to pay users

Video sharing site and YouTube competitor Guba aims to pay users who send new users their way. For every person that signs up through your link (which could be from a Guba video you posted somewhere or a link to the site you used in a post somewhere) Guba will pay you $0.25. Will it work? They're getting good blogsphere coverage for this so if anything, they're getting some free press. As far as the long term sustainability I'm not so sure. Sooner or later people are going to try and game the site and trick Guba but siging up a whole bunch of fake accounts. Also, if it does take off, is it really a good idea to pay your users when the only way you make money is from contextual text ads? I guess we'll find out.
  Motion DSP makes your video look better
Beginning as a project funded by the military, Motion DSP is hoping to bring their video service to the masses. Motion DSP has developed technology that improves the quality of low-quality video. Frame by frame, it compares and looks for lost pixels and fills them in if possible. Thus, making the video look a lot sharper but not changing the overall filesize by much. It supposedly doesn't work as well with jerky video or action packed, fast paced video but I would imagine that you would still get some benefit from it. They have raised $500,000 so far and the company is actively trying to score a Series A round of financing.

  Apple to merge with Sun?
Is that the real reason Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, joined Apple's board? The speculation is that because of Schmidt's Sun connections, he may be the one to bring together the two companies, acting as the middle man who keeps it all together. Another reason would be that Apple is looking to get into the enterprise server side of the hardware business but they don't really have the credibility in that market to make much of a difference yet. That is where Sun would come in. Would come in if this were to ever happen. For now it remains just a rumor.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
  Trolltech's Linux loving Qtopia Greenphone

I noticed that this as yet unreleased, interesting phone from Trolltech was announced recently and it piqued my interest so I figured I should post about it. The Qtopia Greenphone seems to be a phone that linux application developers can use to basically test out their applications on. For example, you decide you want your Linux app to work on cell phones so you go out and pick up one of these to install your beta app on.

While the Greenphone isn't intended to be a full on consumer-ready typical mobile phone, if you use a sim card, you should be able to get away with plugging your sim card into a Qtopia Greenphone and have it work. Giving you the basic phone functionlity and access to your open source beta Linux apps. For some reason I just think that is pretty cool.
  Motorola to develop WiMax chipsets
Motorola announced their initiative for building WiMax chipsets to include in future mobile Motorola devices:

Motorola's initial chipset will focus on core 802.16e mobile WiMAX functionality supporting voice, video, and data for low power mobile applications in handsets and modules. These first chipsets are scheduled to support commercial Motorola WiMAX devices in 2008 for carriers in North America, Japan and around the world including Sprint and others. Motorola is working with its silicon vendors on the overall fabrication of the new chipsets.

So could we be getting some WiMax goodness no earlier than 2008? Do we really have to wait that long?
  Flickr's geotagging, 24 hrs later
Just 24 hours after Flickr unleashed their Geotagging feature set upon the world users geotagged 1,600,000(and counting) photos. That's in just 24 hours. I think that shows that users love this feature and Flickr did right by integrating it they way they did into their site. The only real complaint seems to come from the international users, or users who are geotagging their foriegn country travelling photos. The maps in some of these out of the way places aren't as complete or dependable as the more popular locations. Flickr knows this but it's up to the Yahoo Maps team to flesh these maps out, something that Flickr reassures us that they're doing.

Flickr also added some API features to enable the pulling and adding of geo information and searching by location. There's also some new integration with the Yahoo owned too. Too cool, Flickr continues to lead and innovate and just kick @ss.
  Microsoft launches adCenter beta
Micrisoft has invited a select few to join their just launched ContentAds beta program. For now, the ContentAds would be showing mostly on MSN owned properties which is a good way for Microsoft to sort of ease into this space and make sure they get all the kinks out first, before rolling it out to the whole world. I said mostly MSN properties because that's the kind of verbage they used so the ContentAds have a chance of showing up on a non-MSN site. I hope it goes well for them, Google is so far adhead in this space it's not even funny.
  Download ebooks free, courtesy of Google
Google will begin to let users download and/or print classic novels and other public domain books. Users will not be able to download any sort of copyrighted materials so there shouldn't be too big of a stink made about this from the book makers themselves. At least not on the same level as when they started indexing books for their book service. I did a quick search and found one title to download as a pdf, "The Inroduction to Dante's Inferno". Nice. Could this be the beginnings of something much larger that is to come later? I can't wait until I can download any book I want in either text or audio format. That would be ideal.
  Google CEO joins the Apple board
Google's CEO Eric Schmidt joins Apple's board of directors and everyone freaks out. I don't think this will lead to any big product changes or strategy shifts for either of the two companies, but they now have an obvious bond of sorts which could help them take on Microsoft.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
  Universal to give their music away for FREE!
Upcoming music service SpiralFrog (so new they don't even have a "coming soon" site yet) has apparently got Universal to hop onboard their free music train. This is big news because Universal has the largest catalog of music and they're partnering up with this music startup that is offering FREE music downloads. That's right, free as in beer. How is SprialFrog going to stay in business? Well, the service itself is going to be ad supported. Apparently, they did some reseach on this and found that users wouldn't mind watching some ads in order to get some free content.

I'm intested to see exactly how they're going to structure this. Will it be a video or flash advert that you have to watch before you get into the site or will it be specialized to the point that before you can get to a certain artist's page, you have to watch an ad for their upcoming concert or an ad to buy some of this artist's merchandise. I think the more specialized system would be the way to go but I'm just throwing out guesses at this point. With that being said, a lot of people are going to be watching SpiralFrog closely to see how their business progresses. Me included.
  Podango puts a spin on podcasts
Podango is going to make listening to podcasts a little more like listening to the radio. Although in this case it would be more like a station personalized to your tastes that only includes what you want to hear. From techcrunch:

Podango will recruit station directors, who in turn will recruit podcasters for their channels, manage the channel using an Ajax drag and drop admin interface, and help recruit advertisers. The hope is that listeners will gain from having a person select the best podcasts for a given category as well as avoid dead air time since shows will be queued one-after-another. Podcasters will gain an audience. Station Directors will have a chance to make “$25K to $250K a year or more.

Once they launch, their service could pick up pretty quickly, I can already think of a few channels I would subscribe to. This could also make it easier for advertisers to sneak ads inbetween shows. This is good for the podcasters themselves, which will open up a revenue stream for them and make it easier to monitize their content. That's always good. As long as the ads don't get to current radio level proportions, I'll be happy :)
  A new way to look at Google'sonline Office suite
Here's another way to look at why Google could be trying to achieve with their whole online suite of office like products, and it makes pretty good sense. Basically, Google isn't trying to replace Microsoft's Word of Excel with their Google Spreadsheet and Writely (and other office-type web apps), but they're aiming to make it easier to embed data from these apps into other applications. Similar to how basically everyone now an days is embedding YouTbe videos into their MySpace sites and/or blog posts. I never really thought of these Google apps in this context but it does make sense. Wouldn't it be great to pull some data out of a Google Spreadsheet and embed it into a blog post or someother site? Giving you that basic spreadsheet functionality in your site? You can kind of already see that this is the direction Google is heading towards with Writely and how you can integrate it into your blog. These type of paste-it functionality you can't really get from desktop apps. Each desktop app isn't it's own server that has it's own API that it could use to do this. Could a desktop app communicate back to a main server and provide this functionality? Perhaps, and maybe that's where Ray Ozzie is going to take Microsoft. Who knows but this age of easy embedability is going to create all kinds of interesting solutions.
  Ebay partners with Google
Ebay has choosen Google to help it sell international advertising that non-US users would see. While that's a big deal in itself (it kind of makes Microsoft's Facebook deal seem puny), it may also be a way for eBay to hopefully jumpstart Skype's earnings potential. You see, what Google will also be doing is giving these users who see these ads the oppotunity to call the advertisers directly through their pc via Skype, as opposed to having the users just click-through and vist that advertiser's website. The problem is, not everyone wants to make calls through their pc just yet:

But most of these tests so far, including those by Google, are focused on calling using regular phones, rather than calling by PC using services like Skype. Indeed, eStara, a company that provides pay-per-call advertising technology to companies including Verizon’s unit, offers both telephone and PC calling options. It has found that only 10 to 15 percent of people choose to talk using their computers, and that this proportion is not increasing.

Ouch. Hopefully the way Google integrates these ads in eBay will give eBay some hope that Skype can generate the big bucks they bought it for.
  The Nokia N93 camcorder phone gets reviewed

The way out of my price range Nokia N93 (£545) gets reviewed here. The phone has some nice features and the video stablization works pretty well, but when you go to snap a picutre, there's still that pause from the time you click the button till the time the phone actually snaps the picutre. I hate that. Other than that the phone looks like it's a pretty good little mobile. The 640 x 480, 30 fps video quality is pretty good. It looks a bit too bulky for my tastes since I sometimes like to just toss my mobile in my pocket. I don't think I would look right walking aroud with this bulky device bulging out from my pants pocket.
  Store your iPod earbuds with the earBuddy

This stylish keychain earbud holder comes to you from sendstation for only $14.95. It comes in the orange/siler pictured here and black. Although they say the earbuds are for the iPod earbuds, I doubt they'll hunt you down if you use them for some other ear phones.
  Pre-Order Microsoft Windows Vista right this second
If you are such a Microsoft fanatic that you've been anixously awaiting the moment you could purchase Microsoft's next offering, Windows Vista, fret no more. You can now pre-order the Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate DVD-Rom on Amazon for $399 ($259 for the upgrade). There, they have the shipping date listed January 30th, 2007.
  ATI recalls the ATI TV Wonder 650 graphic card

Apparently, ATI has recalled the just released ATI TV Wonder 650 graphic cards due to an unknown problem. Unknown just because ATI hasn't officially said anything yet. Rumor has it, that the cards just didn't work as expected:

The majority of the recall seems to affect Best Buy stores, where an ATI insider has noted that there is a problem with the boards. An ATI insider told DailyTech "the TV Wonder 650's have been removed and were mostly in Best Buy chains. They claimed to have 40 channels, but only about 30% to 50% of them worked."

The similar 200 models do not seem to be affected because, well, they're still in stores.
  Logitec's Skype-enabled phone
Just released in Japan is the new WiFi enabled Skype-ready LAN WSPH01WH phone from Logitech. It uses a b or g wireless modes and does not require you to be hooked up to a pc to use it. If I could still read some Japanese, I might be able to tell you some more information. But I can't so I won't :)

  Flickr releases geotagging
Now you can easily geotag your photos in flickr as easy as a dragging your photos and dropping them on your desired location. The accuracy of where you drop them depends on how zoomed in you are or not. Flickr is also goign to clean up the tags for the photos that were previously geotagged via third party tools. To geotag your photos, head into flickr's Organizr and you'll see the new map section. I f you just want to check out what's been geotagged, head on over to the new flickr map page and browse away.

  KidSmart smoke detector's for cheap!
Being that I just blogged about these KidSmart vocal smoke detectors recently, I figured I should also post that a pack of two of these smoke detectors are on sale for today only on Woot for $14.99...
Monday, August 28, 2006
  CrunchJobs set to take on all comers?
Michael Arrington comments on all these jobs sites popping up recently and how he tried to partner with them or team up with them in some way to create a more unique solution. Everyone turned him down but it's not stopping him from pressing on with his plans. By publicly letting us all know that this decentralized job board is where he wanted to go, he's going to get some major interest. Heck, Dave Winer even posted a comment saying that he would be willing to lend his help. Niall Kennedy comments on why these other job boards are actually better than Arrington is making them out to be:

Each site has their own core user base and any advertisements within are best when aimed for that audience. 37signals attracts Ruby developers, GigaOm attracts telecom types, and TechCrunch might attract JavaScript coders.

The success of each relies on the quality of the leads, not just the placement of a single listing. Each site should command a premium in their specialties, and over time the CPL/CPA will be evaluated for each.

Since all three companies target startups you provide value by providing the signal to noise that Monster cannot.

I think Niall is right, to an extent. Why not build an open service where you can give certain companies access to your API, from which they can specify the types of listings they wish to pull? A Java site can ping the job site for a list of Java related jobs or a design community site and ping the job site for a list of design jobs. So on and so forth. The sites who list these job have a revenue sharing deal with the main job site in which they get paid for every app submitted through the link on their site. I think this could very interesting and I hope someone builds it soon. If not, I'll have to build it myself.
  Microsoft Vista runs on Apple's Boot Camp
Apparently the latest Vista build works on Apple's dual boot software Boot Camp. Not only does it work, but it's also pretty snappy. The downside is not all of the drivers provided by Boot Camp work in Vista, leaving you without the iSight or Apple keyboard. That is probably something that will eventually be fixed and when it does, it will give users more of a reason to make a switch over to the Mac platform. When my Apple fund gets large enough, I plan on taking a chance with a Mac pc, most likely a Powerbook pro but we'll see. After being a PC user all my life, I kind of looking forward to it.
  Digg for hotspots
Hotspottin uses similar vote up/down Digg functionality to let users submit and vote for their favorite city hot spots. The hot spots now just seem to be either clubs or restaurants. It would be cool to see if they could offer more categories or an easier way to view hotspots by category. Something like family hotspots, or kid hotspots, teenager hotspots, hotspots for old people or even hotspots for adrenaline junkies. Even without all of these extra categories, Hotspottin could still turn out pretty useful. At the very least, it would give users a place do some research on a city they may be travelling to. A lot of the time, people don't want to read long reviews of why this place or this other place is a good visit. By letting users vote on what they think is or isn't hot, you get more of a quick digest of what's cool. Quick and easy.
  Coffin 2.0

From Andreas Spiegel comes The Cocoon. An oval shaped coffin that is made of baked soy-based resin and lined with either white cotton or silk. The coffins compose in 10-15 years and can even be used to hold the cremated. The reason Andreas reinvented the coffin? His father's death in 2000 provided him with the inspiration. His father was an artsy kind of guy so Andreas was disappointed in finding that most coffins look generally the same.

What Mr. Spiegel had in mind was to replace the customary rectangular box with an ovoid shape, one inspired by the organic structure that gives his product its name: the Cocoon. He liked the way the shape created an implicit analogy between the caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis and the life-to-death transition — a nod to the old chestnut that death is just another journey. On top of that, it was reminiscent of the so-called Jesus fish, a beloved Christian symbol.

The Cocoon will set you or the loved ones you leave behind $3,500 but there are various things you can upgrade and change about the intial configuration. This is cool and I'm sure a lot of people would be happy to use something other than the basic rectangular, wooden box. Reinventing something every once in a while, can be a good thing.

  Coolest ads
I came across these pictures of "clever advertising" on this site called "Sherb's blog" and I had to share them. It would have been awsome to see one of these in the wild. My favorites are these:

  Samsung's D900 gets reviewed

Cnet got a hold of Samsung's D900 slider mobile phone and they basically liked it. They didn't love it though, partly because the last row of keys on the key pad can be a little hard to use at times. What I like about it is that it's a slider phone and a very slim one at that. The D900 also has a microSD slot which you can purchase a microSD card for in order to build on the phone's 80mb of memory. You can read the full review here.
  Video of Toyota's new safety technology
Toyota demo'd their latest safety technologies that they've dubbed their "Integrated Safety Management Concept". Here's some video of how Toyota plans on keeping you nd your vehicle out of harms way.
  The iRiver D25 electronic dictionary...

Now this could be very handy for anyone who can't read/speak any language they desire. The iRiver D25 sports a 4.3 inch screen, 1.3 gigabytes of flash memory and a battery life of 16 hours. It comes with a number of dictionaries and the ability to convert text to actual speech. I'm assuming so you can type in what you woul dlike ot say and the device can read it out loud for you in that language. I don't think all of the dicitionaries it has work with this feature. Overall, it sounds like a pretty nifty device which would come in very handy whenever you travel to a foreign country.

  The chumby

Making a splash by being introduced to the world at Foo camp is the hardware hacker friendly Chumby. The Chumby can most easily be described as a glorified alarm clock, kind of. It is really a little wi-fi device onto which you can load various gadgets that are obtained from the net. It will then display whatever widgets you've configured it to use. Some of the (free) widgets include an alarm clock, weather, news, movies and even stock tickers.

As far as it's insides are concerned, I found a pretty good description here:

Chumby runs on a a 266MHz ARM controller, with 32MB SDRAM running at 133MHz bus speed and a six-layer board. The touchscreen is a 3.5" TFT LCD with LED backlighting, and an ambient light sensor tells chumby when to dim its backlighting. There are stereo speakers, a headphone jack, and a power supply that can use between 6 and 14 volts. A squeeze sensor allows users to open up the case after it's been nestled inside its soft, Tribble-like shell.

Nice. The makers of the Chumby want the so inclined to be able to hack away at the Chumby's innards without it being that much of a pain. So while those specs listed above is what the Chumby will ship with, you're definitely not stuck with that configuration. If the Chumby takes off, there will probalby various resources you could to go for instructions on how to hack it into something you may find even more useful.

[Christine, Techcrunch]
  Since everyone else is talking about it...

Google goes after the enterprise customers with their upcoming suite titled, "Google Apps for Your Domain". There will intially be be a free, ad-suported package that will include GMail, Google's calendar, Google Talk and web site creation software. All of this will be hosted with Google but the small to medium business who decides to use this can brand everything with their own branding and domain names.

Later this year, Google is planning on adding Writely and the Google Spreadsheet to the package, making it more of a direct threat to Microsoft's Office Suite. Google is also planning on marketing this whole package to big, enterprisey companies who would have to pay a fee to use these services. While they may get some takers initially, I don't see this taking off in a big way until it's been out for a few months so Google can work out the kinks and add more relevant business features. It'll be fun to watch how Microsoft handles this though.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
  Kiko, sold for $250,000
Kiko has now been sold to the highest bidder, to the tune of $250,000 ($258,100.00 to be exact). Who won the bid? What's in store for Kiko now? Who knows but i'm guessing we'll find out soon.

  Why this "free energy" company has me so very excited

Besides the obvious reasons (it's free! Energy!), the fact that this Irish based company called Steorn could have technology that disproves one of the basic fundamental truths of physics, just gets me giddy. They claim to have basically invented a device that produces more energy than it uses, creating energy out of thin air if you will. One of the basics law of physics states that energy cannot be created, only transformed or converted. From their site:

Steorn’s technology produces free, clean and constant energy. This provides a significant range of benefits, from the convenience of never having to refuel your car or recharge your mobile phone, to a genuine solution to the need for zero emission energy production. It also provides a secure supply of energy, since the components of the technology are readily available.

The technology is in a constant state of development. The company has focused for the past three years on increasing power output and the development of test systems that allow detailed analysis to be performed.

Steorn’s technology appears to violate the ‘Principle of the Conservation of Energy’, considered by many to be the most fundamental principle in our current understanding of the universe. This principle is stated simply as ‘energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can only change form’.

Steorn is making three claims for its technology:

The technology has a coefficient of performance greater than 100%.
The operation of the technology (i.e. the creation of energy) is not derived from the degradation of its component parts.
There is no identifiable environmental source of the energy (as might be witnessed by a cooling of ambient air temperature).

So why does this get me so giddy? Because if this previously thought impossible technology is in fact doable, why are self evident truths that we, as human beings (i'm going big here!), could also be false? If Steorn is validated through this challenge they've thrown out to the scientific community, could this open up the possibilities of other previously thought impossible ideas? What else could be possible? Not just for human kind but for yourself, on a personal level. What could one person be capable of doing? That gets me very excited. The very thought of what this company is doing leaves me empowered and very inspired. Can a young parent of three be successful in anything in life? Can I acheive what others assume I can't? But enough about me, can you achieve what your dream?

Now granted, this could be and most likely is a hoax, but still, could this be physics equivalent to the 4 minute mile? I'm just excited, empowerd and inspired. The possibilites and worldwide ramifcations are just facinating to me. Man, I hope this pans out to be true.
  Yahoo opens up site in prep for Hack Day
Yahoo is going to be throwing a Hack Day Saturday, September 30. They event really begins the day before on the 29th though. Yahoo will be hosting an all day developer workshop where I'm assuming they'll be going through the ins and outs of how to hack their data. Unfortunately, from reading the Hack Day site itself, it seems like you have to be invited...

Now we're opening up Yahoo! itself to a select group of hackers and special guests for a weekend festival of hacking, camping (yes, the tents-in-the-outdoors kind--we have really, really nice grass!), music, and good times.

But Techcrunch seems to spin it being more open than that...

If you are a developer, and have an idea for a cool one-day hack project, this will definitely be a fun event for you.

Sort of implying that if you can think of a good idea, you can participate. Hmmm. It doesn't matter to me either way because I most likely wouldn't be able to go if I wanted to (I'm no one special :( ) but it would be good for others to get that clarification.

The event will last all day that Saturday, with judges giving out prizes to the coolest hacks. Michael Arrington is set to be a guest speaker and he seems pretty keen on the whole Hack day premise itself since he had such a good time last year. It'll be interesting to see what comes out of Hack Day this year.
Friday, August 25, 2006
  Sprint releases EVDO Rev A card
Sprint's new EVDO Rev A, which is supposed to be that extra bit faster and better than regular EVDO is now available and shipping ($99 with a two year contract). While the card makes you ready to recieve data at fast speeds, you won't be getting faster speeds due to the network still being an EVDO Rev 0 (which the card is backwards compatible with) but when Sprint upgrades their network. You'll be ready.
  Video of the Volkswagen Iroc Concept car
To me, Volkswagen is like the Apple of the automotive industry. Everything they release just screams sleek, useful and just oozes cool. With that being said, this Iroc concept they recently unvieled is just flat out cool. So when I came across some video footage, I figured I'd post it. Check out the video here.

  Minti = MySpace for parents
Minti is kind of like Myspace for parents. I say kind of because not only does the site have the typical social networking features (messaging, friend tracking, blogging), the site also has more of a larger community feel. Through the site you can ask parenting/family related questions as well as read or post advice. This gives the site more of a community type feel which seems to be pretty comforting and useful.
  Internet Explorer 7 Release Canidate ready and willing
Looks like the Internet Explorer 7 release canidate is now available for the public to download. Here's some information on what systems it'll run on:

I’ll repeat some information from previous posts for the sake of completeness. IE7 Release Candidate 1 runs on Windows XP SP2, Windows XP x64, and Windows Server 2003 SP1. This release does not install on Windows Vista; a new version of IE7 in Windows Vista will be available with the next public Windows Vista release soon. IE7 still replaces IE6; if you’re a developer and need to have both IE6 and IE7 on a single machine, I recommend Microsoft Virtual PC available now for free.
  MySpace the magazine?
I think this could be a smart move if done properly but apparently MySpace is in talks to move out of digital domain of the web and into the real world by releasing a MySpace magazine. While nothing is official yet, they are apparently looking into it.
  Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud

Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service is a service that is supposed to take the pain and complexity out of quickly scaling your site when needed. It sounds pretty amazing. You basically get control of an Amazon Machine Image instance which supports only Linux for now. Amazon says an instance... roughly equivalent to a system with a 1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth (bursting to 1Gb)
Woah. You get all that power for 10 cents per full hour of usage plus the other base Amazon S3 fees. IF you used if all day everyday, this would equal out to around $72 a month. Is that worth the firepower you get? I'd say so. Just look at that RAM for crying out loud. To compare, take a look at popular web host Server Beach. Their cheapest dedicated server plan which begins at $169.00 is only offering 1 gig or RAM, 74 GB of hard disk space and an AMD Athlon 64 3500 processor. Awsome. Your Amazon Machine Image instance doesn't need to be just a web server though. It can be a database server, load balancer, web server or anything else you can thnk of. This DRAMATICALLY reduecs the cost of entry for aspiring web entrpreneurs and I wouldn't be surprise if we start seeing companies looking for people with skills in integrating and consuming Amazon's web services. What gets me excited...

Within a few minutes, you will be able to log into your own instance and start playing!
  Did Tribe's founder come back?
Mark Pincus founded Tribe but left his post as CEO back in April because it seemed like he tired of being CEO or being a day to day manager of operations. He opted to give Jan Gullet the CEO position. Now it apparently appears that he is back and he's kicked Jan out. Is he really back? Or did someone hi-jack hi account and post this message posing as him?
Thursday, August 24, 2006
  AOL to offer movie downloads from all the major players

And by major players I mean, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. But, from reading the release, not only will AOL be offering movie downloads but TV show downloads as well. Will AOL become the new downloadable movie destination? I believe their built in AOL audience gives them a strong case for becoming the leader. This is what most of these current online video providers (YouTube, Cinemanow, etc...) have most likely dreamed up. Good play by AOL. Here are some specifics:

+ Prices for movies will range from $9.99 to $19.99.

+ After purchase and download, "movies can be viewed offline as well as on other PCs and compatible portable devices". What I don't see is any specific verbiage about burning these movies to a DVD. Can you? If so, how many times?

There's also more information on what company will be providing what in the release which you can peruse here. As long as I can download my Lost eppies, I'm good to go :)
  The $100 laptop gets named
Instead of calling it by it's project name, the $100 dollar laptop has been officially named CM1 aka, The Children's Machine. I like it. No nations have yet made the minimum order of 1 million units but we'll see.

  iPod in your tub
Now you can blast your favorite tunes in style with the iPod (really, any digital music player) tub Speaker System. I like anything that helps me mask my shower singing, if I turn this up loud enough, they'll never know, bwa ha ha!

  Apple batteries get recalled

It's official, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has put out a recall for batteries used in certain iBook and PowerBook Computers due to the batteries getting way too hot. But how can one tell if your iBook or Powerbook is one that needs to be recalled? Easy. First, turn it on. Then set it on your lap, watch a movie on it or something because it needs to be there for a while. Sit there for two hours. After the two hours, look at your thighs, are they burnt to a crisp? If so, you need to turn that battery in pronto. If you don't want to burn your legs, you can always follow the Safety Commission's recommended advice, you can find the full release here.

  Podcast site comparison
Mr. Odeo himself (Evan Williams) posted a round up of the various podcasting sites out there and what they all have to offer and how they rank traffic wise. It's good to have all this data for these sites in one post. Here's what he says about his native Odeo:

Odeo has switched focus a few times since its launch in July of 2005. It started out as a podcast directory (audio-only) with, at the time, fairly advanced features like one-click subscribe, its own download client, play-on-the-page, and limited social functionality. Later, podcast creation (via web-based recorder and phone) was added, before launching a new home page that put more of a focus on personal audio messaging, rather than radio-show podcasting. In may, we moved the podcast publishing tools (including upload) to Odeo Studio, refocusing as an audio directory, with an emphasis on listening online (as opposed to subscribe and download) and more social features.
  Pictures of the $100 laptop
Here is a nice collection of photos of the $100 RedHat laptop that is being made as a means to get every child in a personal laptop. Initially aimed at children in developing countries, I think this benefit countries the world over.

  Stage6 from Divx
Can there be a better YouTube than YouTube itself? If the determining factor was video quality, then I would say yes. The quality of the videos at Stage6 is noticeably better than YouTube. It could have something to do with the videos being Divx encoded (the site is from Divx after all) but man it's slick. Head over there and check out some channels and see how much better it is than YouTube. Now all they need is rapid adoption and 100+ million users and they'll be a contender ;)
  Are Digg's days numbered?
Jason Dowdell at Marketing Shift preaches on about the oncoming downfall of Digg. Yeah, Digg's going to die out like Slashdot was supposed to right? Yeah, sure.
  Rise of the site/industry specific job boards
Problogger just recently launched their job board site for the blogging industry. Currently there are 14 companies looking for bloggers for their various blogs and this will probably grow as word gets out. What I, and probably everyone else, has noticed is how popular the whole job board concept has become. One of the first of these new wave job boards that I noticed was becasue I'm a Rails blogger and I probably noticed it on some Rails blog or mailing list. It's a site where only companies looking for Ruby on Rails programmers can post. Three are a decent number of job listings on this site, with new posting coming in at around a 1-3 every few days or so.

A while after I noticed that site, 37 Signals released their job board site. This site is pretty heavily trafficked and has posts from a number of companies looking for either web designers or coders. They even have an Executive Jobs section which has a few posts. While the is free to post to, 37 Signals site is not. There charge $250 to list your job post for 30 days. At that price and with the 123 jobs listed, their job site alone has ranked in at least $30,750 since the time it's been released.

Next up is the more recently released Crunchboard job site from Techcrunch. This site is very new (a week or two old) so it doesn't yet have as many jobs listed as the 37 Signals site does but they're not hurting for listings either. They current have 50 jobs listed across two pages. They charge $200 for 30 days per job post. At that price, Crunhboard has generated around $10,000 in revenue in the short time since it was opened.

The potential problem with these job sites is that their well being is dependant on the well being of the tech and start up industry. If, for whatever reason, the web startup market hits a rough patch, these job site's ability to make money could be somewhat hindered. With that being said, these sites can't cost too much to run and with hardware and hosting getting cheaper every year, their profit margins wll most likey increase (for the short term at least). The benefit they provide to the companies who post their available openings on their site is huge. It's a much better benefit to these companies to stick a post up on one of these sites, of which their ideal canidate most likely frequents, than to having to comb through stale profiles on a larger all-in-one job site like It'll be interesting to see how big these sites become, how long they last and how specific future job boards become.
  Apple and Creative settle their differences
Apple announced yesterday that they'll be handing over $100,000,000 US (that's one hundred million...ouch) to Creative to license the technology outline in Creative's Zen patent, which they sued Apple over in the first place. Not only did Creative basically win their legal battle with Apple, they are now also going to be making a load of iPod accessories. I guess Creative knows they can't directly beat Apple in the digital player market so they might as well hop on the bandwagon by making accessories for them.
  The Mju 1000 from Olypus packs some nice features

I thought the Mju 1000 from Olypus sounded pretty interesting. Other than packing 10 megapixels it also includes a "fine zoom" feature which lets you zoom in on or isolate specific details on the picture you're taking. That sounds interesting and I wonder how it works or what kind of benefits it provides. No matter, it's only getting a UK release, in October for 330 pounds, so far.
  Real-time traffic info on your mobile

Atlanta based IntelliOne is an up and comer who's hoping to better improve the traffic monitoring market. How their service works is dependant on IntelliOne having access to as many phones as possible by partnering with all of the major carriers. Their partners haven't been announced yet but hopefully, they'll be well recieved. Why? Becuase their traffic information could be fast and accurate. How they work is pretty unique, their servers pick up your cell phone calls and track your phone's location and movement. From this preview:

IntelliOne's software gets an ID number and latitude/longitude, by comparing the position data points of records with the same ID with the time stamp, speed and heading can be calculated with some simple calculus. Stretches of roads are sliced into chunks and averages can be calculated for each segment. Data is delivered to the user within 2 minutes, much faster than with previous monitoring methods.

As cool as this sounds, despite the privacy concerns, don't expect to be getting this information anytime soon. The only market using the service so far is Tampa. IntelliOne is planning on adding the top thirty markets by the end of next year and the top 75 markets by the end of 2008.
  Samsung launches 8GB "Super Music Phone"
Samsung launched their SCH-B570 mobile phone in Korea today. With 8GB of built in hard disc space, there's a lot you can do with the phone, like store over 1,500 mp3 files or 20,000 photos. The phone also sports 5.1 channel surround sound, picture in picture functionality and even a golf manager. The golfer manager lets you look up information for a given golf course as well as calculate the driving distance from a particular tree and even keep track of your score. A golf friendly music mobile phone? Sign me up!

  Logitech's MX Revolution mouse revoltionizes mousing

Here's a preview of Logitech's upcoming MX Revolution mouse that basically adds a multi-function scroll wheel. You can use it in two ways by having it either engaged or disengaged. While engaged, the wheel clicks, letting you tightly control you scrolling. Disengaged, the scroll wheel is "loose" letting you spin it once and have it keep going on it's own. Allowing you to scroll further, faster. It sounds cool and it looks like it fits like a glove.
  Wablet for serious IMers
Web IM service Wablet is still in private beta but they plan on opening up to 500 accounts in the next few weeks. Why is does Wablet deserve a mention, well because they're attempting to do some pretty serious integrating of all the majority IM clients. Not only will you because to chat with and connect through all of your IM accounts by using Wablet, the service will also let you set up different profiles that can be viewed by different types of people. For example, your buddies visiting your personal site can have access to your more relaxed profile while people attempting to chat with you via your companies site will get a more professional profile for you. You can even separately manage your presence settings for each profile. With Wablet, you can also build up reputation points by just using the service and letting people rate you thumbs up or down. The company also plans on releasing a public API to give Flash developers a chance to improve the service. Always a good thing.

As far as making money goes, the company plans to market the service to business CRM users as well for whom they'll have certain packages business user would be able to buy from them. Will it take enough and be well enough received for the company to be successful? With such a rich feature set, I don't see why not.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
  Nimbuzz for mobiles does basically everything

Nimbuzz is basically attemping to revolutionize what you can do from your mobile with their application. Nimbuzz is so feature-rich, it's almost ridiculous. Almost, but not quite. Nimbuzz will let you communiate with other mobile devices and even PCs through various means, for free. Basically, Nimbuzz will let you call, chat or text message back and forth between PCs and mobile devices. This is a way for mobile users to get access to some Skype-like functionality (and some) for their mobiles. I wonder how many carriers are going to actively block these program. I know someone will since that's what they do. Any company or innovation that limits a current or potential revenue stream, they don't like. That's not all carriers though so we'll see if Nimbuzz can reach a good penetration point since getting as many people as possible to use there software will be paramount to their success.
  It's a match...light!

These match light lamps seem like a pretty cool way to liven up a boring room. Pretty creative if you ask me.
  USB powered cooking plate
If you have 30 spare USB ports you aren't using, why not use them to power your own little hot plate so you can cook and compute at the same time? That's what this guy did...

  Slick covers for the Sony NW

These covers for the Sony NW gitial Music players from Elecon are pretty.
  KidSmart smoke alarm...

I thought this was interesting. Apparently some studies have shown that most modern smoke alrams aren't effective enough in waking up your kids when there's a fire. What those researchers did find was that children repsonded a lot better to their parent's own voice. The solution that Ergo guys came up is an alarm that they've dubbed the KidSmart Vocal Smoke Alarm. From their site:

The KidSmart® Vocal Smoke Alarm also allows you to provide customized fire escape instructions to your child that are replayed when the alarm sounds. This helps alleviate the child's fears and utilizes your calming voice to motivate your child into following your pre-practiced escape plan.


  Web-based promixity chatting with RadiusIM
RadiusIM recently launched their web-based promiximity chatting service to the public and it sports some nice functionality. Like the ability to use your Yahoo, AIM, Microsoft and even GTalk credentials to log into their service. This is great for users, keeping them from having to memorize yet another log in. RadiusIM can also determing where your chatting from and display your location on an integrated Google Map. Cool, yes, but is it enough? I guess well see but I like the ability to get the location of those I'm chatting with. I guess that the stalker in me talking ;)
  Sony combines the powers of an LCD TV with a desktop PC

"And by our powers combined...". Sony released information on their new Sony Vaio LS1 TV/PC combo desktop PC which is basically a somewhat beefy desktop PC with an LCD TV for the monitor. The PC component is pretty powerful in a typical Sony fashion. It's sporting 2 gigs of RAM, a 250GB hard drive, a wireless mouse and keyboard and is even Microsoft Vista-ready. The LCD TV is a flat 19 inches and just looks Sony sharp. This Sony TV/PC combo also comes with an integrated NTSC-tuner to make for easy TV viewing and DVR-like functionality. It also comes with a built-in camera and microphone to help bring video and podcast producing to the masses. Ok, I made that last one up but it's true isn't it?

Sony's PC/LCD TV combo will debut in mid-September-ish and will retail for around $2,100.

This finally gives pc users an option that almost competes with the Mac cinema quliaty displays.Almost.
  Facebook choose Microsoft over Google

Ouch. This has to be at least a little disappointing for Google. Microsoft is going to be the major provider of providing advertising for Facebook through Microsoft AdCenter links and ads. The terms of the deal have not been released nor have we seen any figures being tossed around. We're guessing that Microsoft put up some serious money to get into the contextual advertising game. Since Google landed a deal with Fox Interactive's MySpace in which they will pay out $900 in order to server the 100+ million MySpacers with contextual ads, I am betting Microsoft did not want this deal to slip away. Michael Arrington of Techcrunch fame goes as far to state that Microsoft may even be taking a loss in order for them to close this deal.

What's interesting to me though is that Yahoo actually forbode Yahoo Publisher members from advertising on/with MySpace due to low clickthrough quality. Basically, it was a waste of clicks and money for Yahoo's customers. So Yahoo moves away from advertising with MySpace and a few months later Google agrees to pay MySpace nearly $1 billion ($900 actually but $1 billion sounds so much...bigger) for the ability to advertise on the MySpace network. Then Microsoft hops into bed with Facebook. Doesn't this make Yahoo look like the only one who isn't getting it or are Microsoft and Google doomed to fail? My bet is on the former rather than the latter.
  Sony buys Grouper

Sony Picutres has bought video sharing site and YouTube wanna be Grouper for $65 million. What unique about Grouper is that they started out as a closed peer to peer application of sorts. They kind of morphed into this YouTube like clone that has some unique functionality, some of which includes their peer to peer sharing capabilities and their desktop video editor. This is encoraging news from Sony. Maybe their beginnging to realize that they don't have to build everyting themselves and that's it's ok to bring in outsiders who can get the job done. Sony plans on using Grouper for ditributing video content and DVD qulaity movies. I even read something about Sony wanting to enable users to mashup with some videos via Grouper, on TechCrunch I think. Interesting.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
  Facebook add some blogger-ish functionality...kind of
Facebook users can now add some fancy notes to their profile. These notes can include photos, comments, tags and the standard text. You can even limit who you want to see or comment on your notes. Whatever you do or however you use it, just don't call it a "blog". Facebook seems to have an aversion to the term, stating in their FAQ:
Why aren’t notes called blogs?

Answer: Because then you’d be a blogger.

On no, the horror!!
  Microsoft reaches out to FireFox devs
In an attempt to make Microsoft more open-source friendly, Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab Director Sam Ramji has extended an inviation (via posting a message in the "" newsgroup) to the Firefox developers to come vist their open source research center. Microsoft apparently wants to do their best to make sure Firefox will run pretty smooth on their (forever) upcoming Vista OS. Odd? Yes, but also encouraging.
  You know what I hate?
Verizon for making it nigh impossible to import my own mp3s into my Verizon phone. I can't create my own ringtones which means that if I want any kind of ringtones, I HAVE to purchase them from Verizon. That's why I'm switching to Cingular as soon as I can.
  Flexible e-paper from PlasticLogic
The whole idea of electronic, flexible paper just fascinates me so I figured I would post about this entry on TechEBlog. There's even video, cool stuff.

  The Verizon LG "Chocolate" VX8500, good but not great

According to this review of the much-hyped Verizon LG VX8500, aka the "Chocolate", cell phone, the phone itself is pretty slick looking but it's missing some basic functionality and has a some minor usability issues. First off, there is no speakphone functionality. Second, the reveiwers found it a bit easy to accidentally fire off a call with how sensative the navigation buttons on the front of the phone were. It does come with all of the flashy Verizon features, EV-DO, the ability to download music (from their servers only), Bluetooth and even a microSD slot. That's all well and good but a big turnoff for me is the ability to transfer mp3s from my computer to the phone. Matter of fact, I need to dedicate a post just for my dissatisfaction with Verizon.
  AOL heads roll for releasing search data
Color me unsurprised but AOL's ex-CTO Maureen Govern "has decided to leave" (because she got fired) as well as two other employees. Most likey the only other employees who had anything to do with releasing those search records. I can't imagine it's going to be easy for them to get jobs right away, the whole "I left my previous place of employment because they didn't like me releasing search records to the public" just has a certain negative vibe about it.
  Hullo bring free VOIP

The apparently still in beta Hullo is currently offering free VOIP to the masses (who live in the continental US or Canada). According to the FAQ page, this won't always be the case and they plan on offering a mix of free and pay-for services after they get out of beta so hurry up and go use it! Some of the unique features they're offering are the ability to easily initiate a group chat by dragging and dropping the contact you want to chat with onto your Hullo client. They even give you the ability to use Hullo from any phone. You just tell Hullo the phones you are going to be using and it will redirect your calls. The only downside, as with most VOIP services, is that it's not really a good service to make an emergency 911 call from. With Hullo you just can't, from their site:

WARNING: hullo does not support calls to any emergency number or emergency service (e.g. 211, 911, 999, etc.). To perform these calls please make sure to use a landline telephone or a cellular phone.

This is by no fault of their own I'm sure and is the result of the old telecoms attempting to keep some sort of a monopoly. How is this fair though? Why can't we get some legislation passed that opens these protocols up? I know the old behemots don't really want any competition because they know they can't compete price wise but since they missed the VOIP boat, would do they desrve to be relevant today? Oh well, I can rant all I want and nothing will change, so in conclusion, Hullo is great for all calls spare 911 emergency calls. So don't get hurt or get in any trouble :)
Monday, August 21, 2006
  Insta-web chat for everyone via Lingr

I develop apps with Ruby on Rails. I do. I do it because it's fun and Ruby is a nice language. One of the web servers that is pretty cozy with Rails is Zed Shaw's Mongrel. I was looking for some help on configuring something and I saw that Zed was using this site called Lingr as a support chat room for users of his magnificent Mongrel web sever. Logging in to the site was a snap and while looking through their "About Us" page, I noticed that you could even use images and youtube videos in your chat! How cool is that. Anyway. I like the idea of being able to set up a chat room this painlessly. It's quick, snappy, and not running on my server :) It's all right by me.
Cell phones, Gadgets, DVRs and DAPs. All around Tech-coolery....


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