Thursday, November 8, 2007

Microsoft rolls out Web services linked to Windows

Microsoft Corp. released on Tuesday a suite of free Web services that connect to its Windows operating system, delivering a major element of its strategy to maintain the dominance of its software while extending its reach on the Internet.

The package of “Windows Live” services, which was first released in a test version in September, makes available in a single download updated versions of e-mail, instant messaging, photo gallery, blogging and event planning applications.

As part of the new software suite, users can access their free Web e-mail through a downloaded desktop application — similar to Office Outlook used by many businesses — instead of using a Internet browser to check, reply or write e-mails.

Similarly, Windows PC users with a single click can either save photos to the computer’s hard drive or publish and store the pictures on the Web using Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Via (Reuters.)

TwitterSearch - find your friends that are using Twitter without inviting them

TwitterSearchSocial networks are certainly popular and useful these days, but if there's one annoyance they've created it would have to be the abundance of unsolicited emails that they produce. Unlike spam, which is unsolicited email for products and services you have nothing to do with, many are referring to the emails generated by social networks and the like as "bac'n". Basically, it's a more legitimate form of unsolicited email because you have some sort of relationship with the host service.

Most of these services grow in large part by finding ways to engineer their users into inviting as many friends as possible. In Twitter's case, the only way to find out if one of your friends is using the service is to send them an invitation. While I'm sure this is quite effective for Twitter, it's also a bit nasty.

If you've been hesitant to spam, sorry, "bac'n" your friends with signup requests for Twitter (a service they may have little or no interest in), you might be happy to learn that some enterprising individuals have generated TwitterSearch. With TwitterSearch you can enter a list of email addresses, and it will return links to each person's Twitter page that it can find.

This is a tool that really ought to be built in to Twitter, and it should be able to link in to your email address book the same way Facebook and other social tools do. In fact, it probably will, sooner or later.

Via (Mashable.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Miniature OSes let you perform tasks without booting your PC

HyperSpace
Unless you've got a blazing fast computer, it probably takes you a while to boot up your system. And even with the latest technology and the latest versions of Windows, OS X, or your favorite Linux distribution, odds are that your PC isn't ready for web surfing or watching movies until a few minutes after you press the power button.

But why do you need to load your complete operating system if all you want to do is watch a movie? Several companies are developing systems that let you perform tasks on a PC without booting up. What makes the magic happen is a tiny little operating system built right into the motherboard.

Phoenix Technologies is working on a miniature operating system called HyperSpace that loads in just 4 seconds. And we're not just talking about a firmware trick that lets you load DVD playing software. HyperSpace is a complete, but tiny operating system. It lets you launch Firefox and other full blown desktop applications. And it runs while your computer is loading. In other words, you can start surfing the web just a few seconds after turning your computer on, while Windows XP or Vista loads in the background.

Meanwhile, Asus seems to have similar goals in mind with its Linux-based SplashTop platform.

Via (Engadget.)

Facebook announces Facebook Ads

Facebook Verizon WirelessAs pretty much everybody expected (or everyone who cared anyway), Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg announced the launch of Facebook Ads today. More than 60 brands have already partnered with Facebook Ads, including Blockbuster, CBS, Chase, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Sony Pictures, and Verizon Wireless.

There are three components of Facebook Ads (the website is not live yet):
  1. Businesses can build pages on Facebook
  2. An Social Ads system that lets advertisers spread their brand message
  3. An interface for gathering data about users' Facebook activity for marketing purposes
More than 100,000 new Facebook pages have been added today, covering brands, businesses, organizations, and bands. A brand page is a lot like a typical user page, allowing advertisers to add information and Facebook apps for doing things like reserving movie or plane tickets or making purchases. Fandango, iLike, Zagat and a bunch of other companies are launching applications for pages.

So how does this all work? Well, users can identify with particular brands they like helping to build a brand network. Every time a user becomes a fan of a business or brand, for example, their news feed will be updated sending out info about that brand to all of the users' friends. Because we know that you just can't wait to let all of your friends know that you drink Coke and not Pepsi.

Facebook's new Social Ads also combine social information with advertising. For example, rather than just seeing an Ad for a new movie, you may see an ad show up on your screen along with a review that a friend has written on his or her page. The system attaches this information without delivering personally identifiable information to advertisers. Social Ads will show up in user news feeds or in the ad space on the left side of the Facebook page.

Facebook is also launching a service called Beacon that lets users send information to their Facebook page from other sites. For example, Blockbuster is launching a service that lets you add information about your Blockbuster queue to your Facebook news feeds. And eBay will let sellers include eBay listings in their Facebook news feeds.

Via (umd Facebook.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

MySpace launching its own ad network

MySpaceWhile the world waits with baited breath to see what kind of an ad network Facebook will announced tomorrow, other social networking sites aren't resting on their laurels. TechCrunch reports that MySpace will announce "SelfServe by MySpace" today, with a launch set for sometime in the next two months.

The image ads will show up on profile pages, unlike the site's Google text ads. The service will allow advertisers to buy, design, and analyze their advertisements all in one place.

This doesn't look like a game-changing technology. Rather it will give advertisers a new way to reach MySpace members on the site itself. Facebook, on the other hand, is rumored to be launching a complete advertising solution that will serve up ads on sites beside Facebook.com. The Facebook SocialAds platform will also reportedly track user data in order to serve up highly targeted ads.

Via (Tech Crunch.)

European police bust child pornography network

Police have dismantled a global child pornography network that produced ‘tailor-made’ videos for about 2,500 customers in 19 countries, European officials said on Monday.

Police seized thousands of computers, videos and photographs in a coordinated investigation, dubbed “Operation Koala”, that was launched after the arrest of an Italian national running a Web site selling videos of underage girls.

They said the videos were mainly produced in Ukraine and included a father sexually abusing his daughters aged nine and 11. Police have identified 23 children aged between nine and 16 who were abused by the network.

European police agency Europol and the European Union’s justice division Eurojust said in a joint statement representatives from 28 countries worked on the case.

Via (Reuters.)

Researcher Boosts ADSL Speeds X 100

An Australian researcher is on the road to riches after discovering a way to make broadband connections up to 100 times faster.

University of Melbourne research fellow Dr John Papandriopoulos is in the throes of moving to Silicon Valley after developing an algorithm to reduce the electromagnetic interference that slows down ADSL connections.

Most ADSL services around the world are effectively limited to speeds between 1 to 20Mbps, but if Dr Papandriopoulos’s technology is successfully commercialised that speed ceiling would be closer to 100Mbps.

Stanford University engineering professor John Cioffi, known by some as the “father of DSL”, was one of the external experts reviewing the research, which made up Dr Papandriopoulos’s PhD thesis.

Professor Cioffi, who developed the computer chips inside the first DSL modems, was so impressed he offered the 29-year-old a job at his Silicon Valley start-up company, ASSIA, which is developing ways to optimise the performance of DSL networks.

Via (Smh.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

China's Olympic ticketing system crashes on first day

The Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games' (BOCOG's) plans for a "high-tech" 2008 Olympics got off to a rocky start last week, when the online ticketing system for the games crashed under a crush of visitors shortly after tickets went on sale to the general public.

BOCOG's ticketing site received 8 million page views during the first hour of ticket sales October 30, with an average of 200,000 ticket requests hitting the system every minute, BOCOG said in a statement. In addition, more than 3.8 million telephone calls flooded the sales hotline as fans tried to book tickets for the games.

Via (ComputerWorld.)

"Because of the overwhelming volume of page visits, the technical system was unable to perform the tasks well enough, and many applicants were unable to successfully submit their applications," BOCOG said.

Iranian Reformist Website Hacked

Norooz news website has come under computer attack.

Norooz, the Internet organ of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, has been inaccessible over the past few days and when Internet users try to access the site, they see a message about the site not being operational.

The person in charge of the technical side of Norooz website told Emruz website's reporter that the site had been hacked and that efforts were being made to ensure that the problems are resolved over the next two days so that Norooz can resume its activities.

Over the past two years and after the banning of Eqbal newspaper, Norooz has been the Participation Front's only communication link with society.

Via (redorbit.)

Originally published by Iranian news website Emruz, in Persian 1143 3 Nov 07.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Apps Already Coming for Google's New OpenSocial

A day after MySpace and Google sent shockwaves through the Web 2.0 world - and a shot across the bow of current social networking darling Facebook - third-party developers have already started announcing plans to build applications using their jointly developed social network APIs.

MySpace and Google announced Thursday that they had joined forces

to create a set of APIs that can be used to by third parties to create social applications on a variety of sites.

Plaxo, for example, Friday unveiled new dynamic profiles that support Google's new OpenSocial APIs. Users of Plaxo's Pulse social network can now create distinct professional and personal profiles that include photos, contact information and privacy settings. Any applications written to the Google OpenSocial APIs can be embedded in the profiles, Plaxo said.

The impetus behind OpenSocial, Google said, was to allow developers to learn one API and then be able to write a social application for any OpenSocial partner site. "And because it's built on Web standards like HTML and JavaScript, developers don't have to learn a custom programming languages," noted Amar Gandhi and Peter Chane, group product managers at Google in a blog post.

Google estimates that more than 200 million users of the Web sites that have committed to OpenSocial, like MySpace, Friendster and LinkedIn, will have access to these applications.

"Perhaps most interestingly, we will see social capabilities move into new contexts," the two noted in the blog. "OpenSocial will also work in nontraditional social contexts, such as on Salesforce.com and Oracle. With a common set of APIs, it will be even easier to extend social functionality. Beyond the many fun and entertaining social applications we already have seen, we think we'll see a number of social applications emerge in business contexts."

Marc Andreessen, who co-founded Netscape (later acquired by AOL in 1998) blogged that OpenSocial dispels the common assumption held by some that Facebook has established unquestionable dominance in the social networking world. He noted that while many people assumed in the mid-1990s that AOL owned the Web because it had amassed tends of millions of users, it lost its dominance when broadband became widely available and people no longer needed a dial-up ISP.

"I am not predicting the death of Facebook," Andreesen blogged. "I think the Facebook people are brilliant and are going to do very well over the next several years. But the idea that you hear from time to time that 'all the users are on Facebook' and 'the game is over; the Facebook platform has won' is silly, as you can see every time you use a web site that doesn't end in aol.com."

Andreessen, of course, founded Ning, a company that allows users to build their own social networks and is an OpenSocial partner. Ning plans to make OpenSocial applications available to all of its 113,000 social networks later this year or early next spring, the company said. OpenSocial applications will run inside social networks across Ning, the company said.

"All of the partners finalizing and releasing all of the initial OpenSocial container and application implementations, of course," Andreessen noted in his blog. Everyone can just smell the opportunity, and people are going to drive to ship as quickly as possible."

Via (PCWorld.)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

JelloCar - fun and squishy Time Waster

JelloCar lets you drive jello like a pro
The best part about breaking your leg or your arm or your collar bone, aside from all the fringe benefits, is that you get to go to the hospital and eat all the Jello you want. JelloCar is a fun little game that takes that concept to the next level: by letting you DRIVE all the Jello you want.

Ok, so maybe that analogy doesn't work. This is still a fun little game though. Basically you are a 2D Jello Car in a 2D Jello World. Everything has Jello like physics and each level is more of a like a puzzle than a race track. Hit the space bar and the car grows by a 1000% -- very useful for cross large pot holes or pushing aside boulders. There are a lot of levels included and you can build your own using the included level editor.

This is, obviously, an independently produced game and the sound shows it. Just picture a 25 year old man standing behind your chair making "vroom!" sounds and you get the basic idea. Still, if this doesn't totally creep you out, the sounds are pretty amusing.

All and all a fun game and a fantastic example of 2D game physics. The game comes in Windows and XBOX 360 versions.

Via (The Night School.)

Google Notebook adds support for labels

Google Notebook labels
Google has added support for labels to Google Notebook. The move isn't surprising. You can use labels to organize Gmail, Google Documents, RSS feeds in Google Reader, and the list goes on. What is a bit surprising is that it's taken so long to roll out support for labels in Google Notebook.

Labels are automatically imported from your Google Bookmarks settings, if you use Google Bookmarks. You can then sort or filter your notes by label using either the Google Notebook web page or the Google Notebook browser plugin.

Via (Google Operating System.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Did the New York Times really launch a Techmeme killer?

New York Times tech page
The New York Times has launched a redesigned technology news page. The old school paper has partnered with some new school content partners, adding stories from third party sources like IDG and PaidContent. But probably the most interesting feature is that little column we highlighted in red. It's called "Technology Headlines From Around the Web," and it's being labeled a Techmeme killer. (Remember when people used to talk about Technorati killers? Ahh, those were the days).

That new columns is powered by BlogRunner, a news aggregator that the Times snatched up last year. The service does a pretty decent job of figuring out what stories people are talking about, posting those headlines and a list of blogs and websites linking to those stories. The New York Times/BlogRunner are hardly the only game in town when it comes to news/blog aggregation.

But here's why the paper might have a leg up on Technorati, Techmeme, or any other site that starts with the word "tech." A huge number of people already read the New York Times every day. You can't really say the same about Techmeme. It's a great place to find interesting stories, but as far as we can tell, it's primary audience is bloggers looking for good story ideas.

On the other hand, if you take a look at the screenshot above, you'll see that there's at least one major difference between the stories you find using BlogRunner and Techmeme. BlogRunner includes news from a lot of professional news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and Time Magazine. In fact, there seem to be more old media types getting links than new media websites and blogs.

Via (TechCrunch.)