Microsoft has launched its BI Labs site. This new labs site, spotted by Mary Jo Foley today, joins other labs sites such as Office Labs, and DevLabs.
The first batch of BI Labs projects are available to download for free.
The currently available Labs projects include:
PivotViewer Extension for Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services
Microsoft SQL Server Data Mining for the Cloud
Fuzzy Lookup Add-in for Microsoft Excel 2010
As Foley points out, Labs projects are unsupported and can be shut down at any time - so use them at your own risk.
The new labs site demonstrates Microsoft's increasing focus on data analysis. We recently covered Microsoft's Project Barcelona, and we've looked at the Microsoft Research projects Probase and Trinity.
It also highlights the growing interest in business intelligence in the enterprise.
Microsoft Quietly Launches Business...
Rackspace Vice President of Product, Mark Interrante, announced by e-mail today that Slicehost will be shut down within the next year and migrate its customers to Rackspace Cloud. "With two brands, two control panels and two sets of Support, Engineering and Operations teams it has been a challenge to keep development parity between the products," Interrante writes. The migration to IPv6 and OpenStack are cited as more specific reasons for the move.
Rackspace acquired Slicehost in 2008 and has been maintaining it as a mostly separate entity ever since.
"Converting from Slicehost accounts to Rackspace Cloud Servers accounts will enable you to prepare for IPv6, and give you access to Cloud Files, the Cloud Files CDN Powered by Akamai, and Cloud Load Balancers," Interrante writes.
The e-mail does not include any information on if and how pricing will change. Based on current Rackspace Cloud pricing, costs will be higher for Slicehost customers with high traffic requirements, but lower for customers with low bandwidth requirements. Rackspace did not discuss details about migrating customers.
Initial response from customers is negative. The top rated comment right now on the Hacker News thread about the announcement reads:
I have a ton of apps running on my old slices. A client pays monthly for the one slice and it really doesn't look like it will cover costs with the shift to their 'cloud' servers. I really don't want to have to go and reconfigure several versions of python and django and several apps. I don't want to migrate databases. I don't want to move various processes that have been running without being touched for 3-5 years.
The email doesn't give us any indication of the migration path. I don't care about your IPv6 problems or your OpenStack announcements.
Even something like domains hasn't been addressed. I use the slicehost interface to manage a dozen or so domains and their subdomains. Am I going to have to shift nameservers and reconfigure these domains?
Another commenter points to a tool for easily migrating DNS to Linode, a long time competitor of Slicehost. A few other migration tools were mentioned as well.
Rackspace Shutting Down Slicehost
On the heels of a site redesign in early April, the popular Q&A site Formspring has launched a new feature designed to help users more easily find and compare the answers from all their friends.
Aptly titled All Responses, the new feature will allow users to see everyone's responses all at once. While the site has long allowed users to ask all their friends the same question simultaneously, users haven't been able to see all the responses all together.
With this new feature, whenever a question gets more than a single response, you'll see the number of Formspring users who've answered. Clicking on that number will give you an expanded view so you can see everyone's responses all in one place.
The addition of this new feature follows a string of other features that the Q&A site has added in order to boost engagement on the site. Earlier this year, Formspring added "smiles," for example, the equivalent of the "like." It's also added SMS capabilities, so that users can respond to questions via their phones.
Formspring sees about 10 million questions asked on the site per day. There are about 5 million "smiles" on the site per week as well. Popular with the under-20 crowd, the ability to ask questions anonymously there led some to associate Formspring with cyberbullying. But the site has worked very hard to implement changes to make that behavior less acceptable there. The smiles are one. But with the All Responses feature too, the Q&A feels less isolated and more open to a community.
Q&A Site Formspring Continues To Fo...
It's one thing to understand the coming robot apocalypse. It's one thing, that is, to acknowledge and accept the fact that robot overlords (or "roboverlords") will calculate the location of, and then crush out of existence, our fragile human souls with their gigantic titanium pincers. That we expect. That is inevitable. But this? This is too, too much.
Robot vagrants, ladies and gentlemen, robot vagrants, are rattling and humming along our streets, beeping and booping and sticking their little metal clamps into the faces of old ladies and children. The implication is clear: You give me your change and I don't tear your face-meat off.
In an article on Singularity Hub, Peter Murray woefully underestimates the seriousness of the situation, not to mention the irritation that will surely follow from a robot reeking of acetone booting up error messages as he follows you down the street calling you "brother."
Murray lists three robots specifically designed to bum money off hardworking meatbags, probably for Robo-Night Train parties in some dustless, over-lit basement on the bad side of the industrial park.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
The robots in question are Don-8r, DONA and Gimme. They are all designed to badger you for cash. Because if, like mine, your town is running a deficit of meth-ravaged, retiree-menacing stink-pots lurching down the street, you'll be comforted by the realization that with just the swipe of a card you could send half a dozen whirling floor-polishers careening into a food court.
Of course, it works too. They always work, don't they? Don-8r made over $40 panhandling for about nine hours. That's when the cameras were on.
When the cameras shut down and the lights go out, it does dark and they go berserk.
"Excuse me, sir? I ran out of gas and I need to make it back to my pod before our Global Domination and Human Extermination Meeting. Can I borrow five dollars? I promise I'll pay you back . . . IN BLOOD! Ahahahaha! Beep boop beep."
(And no, I'm not going to tell you the names of the humans responsible for these sickening perversions of God's natural law. For one thing, I doubt they even exist. I think they were created as fronts for the Robot Agenda. If not, they are collaborators and do not deserve human names.)
Robo-Bums (Seriously, You Need More...
Unlike Scratch, you can view the code generated by Waterbear.
Elza's vision for the project is much like that of Alan Kay's vision for Squeak and the ideas in the book Mindstorms by Seymour Papert. Elza hopes it can be used in programming books and courses to allow learners to explore code in a more immersive environment, or enable individuals to become "casual programmers." He uses his own kids as examples.
His 10 year old son learned Scratch and has moved on to more advanced programming. He already thinks of himself as a programmer. But Elza's 14 year old daughter thinks of herself as an artist. She draws, and is working on a novel.She learned Scratch, however, and uses it every few months to create things to embed on her blog.
Elza named the project after the extromophile of the same name because he wants it to be an extremely robust language. For example, he hopes the Waterbear interface can eventually be used with other languages, such as Ruby and Python.
Waterbear Is Like Scratch, But For ...
What is the future of the mobile Internet? Are native applications going to be the dominant form of digital interaction? Will new and developing browser technologies like HTML5 make the mobile Web preferable to apps? Developers, engineers, product strategists and brands large and small want to know what the future will look like in order to make spending decisions.
Research firm Forrester took a deeper look at the mobile Web versus application debate and came to what some may find to be a startling conclusion: there is no debate at all. The mobile Web is not going to die and app stores are not going anywhere. As mobile usage increases worldwide, both sides of the equation will grow with it and become valuable aspects of product roadmaps.
Forrester finds that both the application ecosystem and mobile Web usage increased with feature and smartphone adoption across the world. A high tide raises all ships, so to speak.
"Sixty percent of US consumers who download apps also access the Internet via their mobile phones at least daily while 63 percent of US iPhone owners access the mobile Internet on a daily basis," Forrester said.
Consumer product strategy consultant at Forrester Thomas Husson advises product strategists that the equation is mostly irrelevant.
"Product strategists often forget to ask themselves the right questions: which product and services, for which audiences, at what cost, and when?" Husson wrote in a blog post.
Different Interface For Different Purposes
The Forrester report says that apps often fulfill a "lean-back" role for consumers while browsers fulfill a "lean-forward" role. It makes sense. When you consume content via a smartphone or a tablet, you are probably in an app that takes advantage of the deeper integrations of the device like accelerometers, ingrained video capabilities, cameras and yes, location-based services. The mobile Web is used more often for research and looking things up on the fly while out and about. Forrester contends that the distinction between the two ecosystems is blurring.
"The debate around web apps, hybrid apps, and optimized mobile website is nothing but industry jargon," the report argues.
A big part of the equation is that smartphones and tablets are not yet ubiquitous in the global economy. Feature phones access the mobile Web and some consumers are content with that. Even more do not, citing cost and lack of need as reasons for not accessing the Internet (through app or the mobile Web) on mobile devices.
So, where do you put your money? It depends on your audience. Looking to rally the Silicon Valley and South By Southwest crowd? Rich media integrated apps are probably the way to go. Wider reach at a lower cost? The mobile Web. The true answer will reside somewhere in between as mobile computing becomes more widespread.
Note on Forrester report: Data was used from the European Technographics Consumer Technology online Survey, Q4 2010, which surveyed 14,363 respondents in the seven markets of France, Germany, Italy, the netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
Web Vs. Native Mobile App? Forrest...
If I had my way, I'd never carry a business card again. I'd never accept one either. They're artifacts, relics of a different era and, more than anything, inevitably end up lost and tucked away in a drawer full of other business cards never to be seen again.
Cardcloud, the app that promises to replace your business cards, has taken a logical step forward by integrating LinkedIn directly into the app and helping you remember exactly who that person was by showing you where you met them.
We first wrote about Cardcloud last month, noting the simple approach the app takes to replacing business cards. It doesn't use gaming to incentivize your connections, it simply puts the one thing everyone has - an email address - at the center of your networking experience.
Today, Cardcloud announced that it has made it easier than ever to get started by turning LinkedIn profiles into business cards. When you sign up for Cardcloud, you can do so using LinkedIn and it will automatically pull all your information, like your name, job title and Twitter account, and add it to your virtual card.
When it comes to replacing business cards, however, we'd like to see a bit more than this. If you take a look at the latest version of Bump, you'll see an option to quickly and easily connect across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Hopefully following versions of Cardcloud will do the same.
Say Goodbye to the Conference Card Collection
Last week, Cardcloud announced event integration. Think about the last conference you went to and you'll realize how many cards you collect. More likely than not, however, they all end up in that same big pile. Cardcloud already records the time and place a meeting occurs, but not it connects then we certain events. The feature debuted last week at The Next Web's conference and will be available at upcoming conferences like Google I/O next week and Apple's WWDC in June.
Cardcloud for iPhone from Cardcloud on Vimeo.
Business Card App Cardcloud Links U...
Red Hat today announced JBoss Enterprise Data Grid 6, which it calls "a cloud-ready, highly scalable distributed data cache." Cameron Purdy defines a data grid as "a system composed of multiple servers that work together to manage information and related operations - such as computations - in a distributed environment."
Like Apache Cassandra and Riak, Red Hat's data grid is influenced by Amazon's distributed data store Dynamo. The product will cache data in-memory and distribute among multiple servers, which will be useful for cloud computing.
The new product is based on the JBoss community project Infinispan.
According to the announcement, "JBoss Enterprise Data Grid is part of Red Hat's vision to redefine middleware and provide a comprehensive, open source distributed service fabric to help developers and organizations build, deploy and manage applications in the cloud."
Those interested can sign-up for early access to Data Grid here.
JBoss Enterprise Data Grid will compete with data grids such as Oracle Coherence.
Red Hat Announces NoSQL Inspired Di...
Being able to do whatever I need with my bank account is one of my favorite parts of having a smartphone. Well, that and the 10,000 other things made simple by the tiny pocket super computer that I carry around everywhere I go, but today we're talking about mobile banking.
Never mind envelopes and trips to the post office for stamps, I pay my bills on the bus ride across town and today, Windows Phone 7 owners and Bank of America customers can too.
BoA's Windows Phone 7 app, which was announced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show, has officially been released. According to a release, the app will let Windows Phone 7 users do all the standard things that iPhone users have enjoyed for a while now - pay their bills, review account balances, transfer funds and find banks and ATMs.
According to MobileTechWorld, the app uses the latest for Bing Maps, meaning a smooth and responsive experience when looking for location banks and ATMs by map.
The only thing you'll miss is that bowl of lollipops on the teller counter. Do they still do that anymore? I don't know, I haven't stepped foot in a bank in years.
Get your copy of the app today.
Bank Of America App Comes To Window...
If you're an iPhone owner, you know the drill - leave your phone unattended for even the shortest period and suddenly you need to tap through one notification after another just to get back to the main screen. And that means, if you're in a hurry, you ignore many of them just to get to what you're doing.
iOS notifications are a problem many users want solved and one designer, Andreas Hellqvist, took a crack at solving it. Take a look after the jump. Just seeing the possibilities makes me sort of angry that I have to deal with notifications as they are.
Hellqvist proposes a method of handling the apps that would use all existing iOS design elements, but would get rid of the annoying, one-at-a-time method of displaying and dealing with notifications. Rather than having to deal with each notification in each app, all notifications could be centralized within a single "notifications" app - much as they are aggregated on Android and put onto a separate screen.
Enough talking, though, take a look:
iOS notifications concept from Andreas on Vimeo.
Hellqvists offers an entire proposal, going through each screen and showing how the app could work, right down to the internal settings.
Our favorite part might be the lock screen notifications. If you've ever had a jailbroken iPhone, then you know the joy of a lock screen that isn't completely useless. Hellqvist proposes a simple solution:
I was looking at the lock screen and felt that you simply had to be able to act on the individual notifications, but how? Just enabling the ability to click a notification seems dangerous. Pocket calling would increase ten fold Then it dawned on me, why not slide the app icon in the same way you slide to unlock. This way it's a reduced risk of accidentally calling your boss at a Friday night.
Like we said: Apple, please hire this man and fix your notifications? Your users have been asking for it. We're tired of accidentally opening Foursquare just because we wanted to use our phone at the same time as someone else checking in.
Apple, Please Hire This Man And Imp...
A problem sometimes occurs in the enterprise when it is time to backup and restore data from a cluster of virtual machines.
Here's what happens. Everything comes to a grinding halt.
In this white paper, learn how IBM Tivioli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments provides an effective solution to this challenge. The paper explore how to off load backup workloads from a VMware ESX or ESXi-based server to a centralized vStorage backup server.
Download White Paper Now
White Paper: How To Avoid A Breakdo...
Skyhook Wireless, the company that provides location services for a number of mobile apps, announced this morning that it would be integrating with MapQuest to provide a more accurate location for mobile app users. If you've ever tried to use something like Google Maps while navigating busy city streets, then you realize how important it is for your map to update quickly, lest you become lost in a maze of one-way streets and alleys.
MapQuest Integrates Skyhook: Can It...
This morning at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis was joined by RIM's industry partners to talk about and demonstrate the company's products and solutions in action. One of those partners was a surprise guest: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who announced Microsoft's new partnership with RIM on its BlackBerry smartphones.
Bing Becomes Default Search On Blac...
The Google offices in South Korea have been raided by police on the suspicion that Google's mobile advertising service, AdMob, has been illegally collecting location information, according to a report from Reuters.
Google's Seoul Offices Raided Over...
Kabam, the fast-growing social game maker, launched its Global Warfare game today as it continues to pursue the emerging market for hardcore gamers on Facebook. Redwood City, Calif.-based Kabam has the ambition of becoming bigger than the console game companies by making sophisticated hardcore games on Facebook, whose audience has mainly enjoyed casual games in the past. But the social network is so big now that its hardcore audience is huge and under-served. Global Warfare is another “massively multiplayer social game,” where users can band together in groups of 100 to establish city-based empires that fight with each other for control of key resources and territories. The game is similar in style to the company’s other multiplayer strategy games: Kingdoms of Camelot, Glory of Rome, and Dragons of Atlantis. But this one is set in the near-future world of warring city states and it takes the quality up a notch. This game, for instance, has “cut scenes,” or the cinematic storytelling trailers that are interspersed between game play sessions in console games. But the cut scenes aren’t over the top 3D animated productions. Rather, you see a still figure such as the character on the right and you hear a voice over. A camera pans over the character, Ken Burns style, and you get a mission assignment. In the game, you build your own city (pictured below), as you do in games such as Glory of Rome. Then you have to build your resources, defenses, and offensive military might. You get a seven-day grace period to build up and join an alliance. Then you enter the free-for-all combat, where anyone can attack you. In contrast to Glory of Rome, however, this game takes the multiplayer combat in a more sophisticated direction. For instance, key resources will spawn in a random location. All sides will have to fight for control of the resource and then use it to build key defenses or weaponry. Then it disappears and reappears in another location. To control the territory and the resources requires a lot of coordination and diplomacy with other factions. Tags: Global Warfare Companies: Kabam
Kabams Global Warfare Takes A Step ...
Nissan’s plug-in electric car, the Leaf, outsold General Motors’ Volt electric car for the first time in April — the first results of Nissan aggressively expanding its production of the Leaf to meet an almost insatiable demand for the electric car. Nissan sold 573 leafs last month, compared to General Motors’ 493 Volts sold in April. GM’s Volt has consistently outperformed the Nissan Leaf each month until April. Electric car buyers bought 326 Volts the month after the car went on sale, compared to 19 Nissan Leafs sold that same month. GM sold 608 Volts in March. It’s an accomplishment for Nissan, which regularly faces hurdles in bringing its Leaf to the United States. The company said it is on track to deliver 20,000 Nissan Leaf cars to people who have reserved them by September. But that’s because GM said its Volt sales would likely be lower because the company was shipping more cars to dealerships as demonstration models to bring in new electric car buyers. General Motors has also shipped around 1,700 Volts since the vehicle went on sale last year, while Nissan has shipped around 1,000 Leafs. Electric car buyers usually have higher incomes, so the higher price tags for the cars typically haven’t been an issue for those looking for an electric car. Leaf owners are in the top 15 percent of households with regards to income, according to Nissan. Both Nissan and General Motors are trying to produce electric cars with broader appeal by slapping smaller price tags on them, but it’s resulted in demand that the car manufacturers just can’t keep up with. GM said it expects to ship around 10,000 Volts this year, while Nissan has said it will ship around 20,000 Leafs by September. The U.S. government has set ambitious targets for both the Volt and Leaf, based on its goal of having more than 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. The U.S. government expects GM to sell around 500,000 Volts by 2015 and Nissan to sell 300,000 Leafs by 2015, according to the report. [Photo: mariordo59] Tags: Chevy Volt, Electric car, electric vehicle, Leaf, Nissan Leaf, Volt Companies: General Motors, Nissan
Nissan Leaf Slides Past Chevy Volt ...
Google’s recent launch of in-app billing in the Android Market gives app developers a way to make more money by letting them sell digital content within their applications. It’s a great improvement for game and app developers looking to do business on the Android platform. But before you commit, you should be aware of a number of challenges you’ll face in selling apps on the Android Market. 1. Cumbersome Check-Out Process: Most of the applications and games in Google’s Android Market are free, and the majority of games that are downloaded in large quantities (more than 250,000 times) are free. One of the main reasons games are free is Google’s inefficient check-out process. Contrary to iPhone users, who have a credit card correlated with their iTunes account that allows one-click purchasing, Android users use their Google account, which does not require that they sign up for Google checkout or provide their credit card information. iPhone’s success can be attributed to two main factors. The first is that iPhone users are requested to enter their credit card information when first activating their phone, and majority of users do so. The second has to do with the iTunes store, which had millions of registered users prior to the iPhone launch. It was a small leap for Apple to get their existing users to download games for their iPhone. But Android users are only prompted to provide their credit card information after choosing to buy a game. The fact that users need to haul out their credit cards at this stage, combined with a cumbersome purchase flow, lowers the conversion of paid games and applications. Consequently developers have to “sell” their games for free in Google’s Android market. 2. Device Fragmentation: With so many device manufacturers adapting the Android OS to their specific devices, fragmentation of the OS has become a problem. The issue of fragmentation reared its ugly head with Angry Birds’ Android first release and, according to the latest reports, it’s here to stay. Do not be mistaken, fragmentation is not only the developer’s problem. It can also be confusing (and frustrating) for users who need to figure out which flavor will work on their device and can be flustered at the multitude of choices. Angry Birds users reported performance problems with several Android devices. As a result, just one month after the game’s successful launch, Angry Birds maker Rovio developed a separate, lighter version of the game in an attempt to resolve fragmentation issues. Even then, though, users need to figure out which version to install on their device. As for developers, the plot thickens as Google separates smartphone and tablet OSes. A report from Pocket-lint suggests that Google will release a mid-way version of Android for smartphones that can run some Android 3.0 (“Honeycomb”) games on phones, which could ultimately result in a split of the Android OS. 3. Search Limitations: Despite the fact that users can search for content using various “categories”, searching for content in the Google Android Market can get somewhat confusing. When users search for a specific game or developer in the general search, the results aren’t displayed in the clearest way. For instance, a simple search for “Angry Birds” is likely to flood your screen with wallpaper collections, unofficial rip-offs, and plain old spam applications. Needless to say, this does not create the best user experience and presents another hurdle for users within the Google Android Market. 4. Lack of Marketing Tools: The Android Market lacks in marketing and promotional tools for developers, such as affiliate programs, coupons and more. Whereas third-party app marketplace GetJar lets developers promote free games in various ways such as paid promotions and affiliate programs, the Android Market presents developers with close to no options for marketing and promotion. 5. Limited Distribution: In the past, developers who wished to sell their games to users were limited geographically to a certain amount of countries that the Android Market supports. Google only added prominent regions such as Hong Kong, Brazil and 16 others towards the end of 2010. To date, developers can only sell their games in 29 countries. 6. Google’s Return Policy: To makes things even more complicated, Google’s has a problematic game return policy. Google initially allowed users to buy games and return them within 24 hours. Users, therefore, downloaded games, played them for one day and then were refunded for these games. Google recently updated this to 15 minutes, but the old policy might have created a misleading perception of the Google Android Market and the way users consume games and applications. A Few Solutions So how do you overcome these Android Market challenges? The trick is to combine a few solutions and adjust them to your specific goals. Developers are advised to be creative from a marketing perspective and make use of alternative business models in their monetizing efforts. 1. Lite Version of Games. Developers can allow users to play a “lite version” of their game apps (either based on the amount of levels or a time limited game) and buy the full version with a click of a button, easing the way users are required to purchase games today. Besides the fact that this is the most successful and popular model in the PC games market (“Try before you buy”), it also makes sense. If developers succeed in creating a cool, beautiful and addictive lite version of their games, users will hopefully become addicted, which will encourage them to purchase the full version of the game. 2. Virtual Goods. By the same token, developers can choose to include virtual goods in their games to support or enhance the user experience. Examples include unique weapons, extraordinary powers, and additional chapters in game apps. In general, users who enjoy a game are more likely to spend money on features that improve their achievements, increase their success and level of satisfaction. This is accomplished by designing a game that is complete on its own but can be enhanced with small additions. 3. Mobile Games Ads. Developers can also make use of mobile games ads. There are two main kinds of ads related to games. * Ads: These are ads that are displayed to users while playing games. Despite the criticism of this business model, it has shown great success and is expected to continue to do so in the future. Rovio’s Angry Birds generated net revenues of $1 million per month from ads alone in December 2010. * Branded/Product Placement Games: These games are designed to promote a specific product or brand. A most noted example is the Fishlabs game, which was designed to promote Volkswagen Touareg. This game was downloaded by millions of iPhone users. While this model is considered to be more lucrative, it is also more challenging to carry out for the simple reason that you need to put the cart before the horse — ie, you need to be “commissioned” to develop such a game before you start the development process. So this model isn’t always scalable and will only work for a minority of developers. Don’t Forget Third-Party App Stores Developers who have already developed Android games should also consider other app-stores in the market, which are steadily growing, including Amazon, GetJar, MobiHand, SlideMe, and more that allow developers to distribute their games, promote them and create brand awareness. These stores allow various pricing models and billing methods (like PayPal). You’ll want to study the requirements and limitations of these stores and weigh the pros and cons of each before launching your apps there. While the Google Android Market is slowly adding assets for profitability, developers should definitely tap into the many distribution channels in order to reap rewards from their hard work. Ora Weissenstern is marketing manager of MoMinis — a provider of development and distribution solutions for 2D mobile casual games. In MoMinis Ora manages the market research and business development with leading app-stores in the mobile market. Prior to joining MoMinis, Ora practiced law in various law firms and The State Attorney’s office. Tags: Android Market, app stores Companies: Amazon, GetJar, Google, MobiHand, SlideMe People: Ora Weissenstern
Why In-App Billing Doesnt Solve All...
Social email service Xobni just announced the launch of what it’s calling the Xobni Gadget Platform and Store, which will bring services like Dropbox and Evernote into Microsoft Outlook. San Francisco-based Xobni was among the earliest and best-known of a number of startups bringing social data into email. (One of those startups, Gist, was recently acquired by BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion.) In Xobni’s case, it allowed users to see their contacts’ Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter information directly in Outlook, giving them social context when writing emails. Now the company will allow other services to integrate with the email workflow by offering a gadget in Xobni. The store is launching with nearly 20 services, which include document sharing, lead-tracking, issue reporting, and more. Companies can make the apps available for free or for a $9.99 per month subscription. And they’re all built around the OpenSocial format. So why should developers go through this new gadget store? After all, they could already bring their apps into Outlook by building plug-ins — that’s what Xobni did itself. But company spokesperson Terra Carmichael said the process of developing an Outlook plug-in can be difficult: On the other hand, it’s incredibly easy to create Xobni Gadgets that live in Outlook. You don’t have to learn Outlook programming to create a gadget. Ours are based on open standards and web standards… so we make it very simple for developers to seamlessly integrate web-based services into Outlook – and use the same code to deploy in Gmail or Google Apps. Lastly, enterprises can build private gadgets based on their existing internal services to help employees be more productive (like an expense tracking gadget, etc.) Xobni has raised more than $31 million in funding from backers including Y Combinator, Khosla Ventures, Cisco Systems, First Round Capital, Baseline Ventures, Atomico Investments, and BlackBerry Partners Fund Tags: Outlook, social email, Xobni Gadget Platform and Store Companies: xobni People: Terra Carmichael
Xobnis New Gadget Store Could Make ...
Photo and video sharing service Photobucket launched a new feature today called Snapbucket, which will allow users to “snap” photos from their mobile device, personalize the photo through effects, vignettes and frames, and then share them instantly with their social network. Snapbucket will also let users create their own distinct sets of filter combinations and both the original and personalized photos will then be automatically stored online in the user’s Photobucket account. It is available across all mobile platforms and for all smartphone and tablet devices. Photobucket is a photo sharing and news-hosting site owned by Seattle mobile imaging startup Ontela, which bought it from News Corp in 2010. It offers its 100 million customers (including 20 million mobile users) permanent image hosting, a suite of web and mobile products, and a mobile auto-upload app. Still, despite its size, the Denver, Colo.-based company has struggled to keep pace with other photo sharing darlings such as Instagram, Path and Picplz, all of which have been growing at rapid rates and adding new features almost weekly. Photobucket CEO Tom Munro said Snapbucket will be the first of many upcoming additions to its mobile platform. “Our users told us what they wanted: a fast, easy, and fun way to express themselves creatively on mobile,” Munro told VentureBeat. “They asked for a broader array of self-expression, preservation of the original photo and access to both the original and the personalized photo at Photobucket.” Munro said that Snapbucket was created in three months and will complement the company’s new Photobucket Mobile App. “These are just two of many upcoming product releases for Photobucket that will take advantage of the spontaneity of mobile and the permanence of the web,” said Munro. The new features will be designed to help with Photobucket’s massive growth in the mobile upload space; the company said that mobile uploads through its Photobucket Mobile App increased more than 600 percent over the last year. As such, users have been uploading more than 20 million photos and videos to Photobucket.com every month — prompting the company to announce it will now offer free, unlimited photo storage for all users. It has also expanded video storage of 500 videos up to 10 minutes in length. The company also announced the hiring of three tech veterans to its executive ranks last week: Webroot Software’s Kate Hare, who now becomes Photobucket’s vice president of products; former CBS Interactive, Yahoo! and Dell Inc. exec David Toner, to become vice president of marketing; and former AOL ad honcho Allison Zweig, to helm the vice president of global branded sales spot. Companies: aol, Cbs Interactive, Covera Ventures, Dell Inc, Eastven Venture Partners, Instagram, News Corp, Oak INvestment Partners, Path, Photobucket, PicPlz, Steamboat Ventures, Voyager Capital, Webroot Software, Yahoo People: Allison Zweig, David Toner, Kate Hare, Tom Munro
Photobucket Launches Snapbucket App...
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The giants have woken up and after Rediff’s deal site, comes the launch of TimesDeal, which is currently available in 6 cities (NCR/Bangalore/Mumbai/Pune/Kolkata and Chennai). And like Rediff, you get deal voucher on email as well as SMS. The deals, … Read More »
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And Now, Times Internet Also Does T...
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Research In Motion announced today a new product intended to bridge the gap between personal and business uses on BlackBerry smartphones. BlackBerry Balance is a service tied through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that cordons work data from personal data for the always-connected worker.
BlackBerry Balance shows users a unified view of the applications and data on the smartphone allowing them to separate sensitive business information or personal uses like scheduling and activity management. As enterprise and consumers merge gadgets from a hodge podge of task specific devices to streamlining one device for many purposes, RIM keeps the IT administrators satisfied with security provisions while also allowing personal use.
Unlike Apple and especially Android, RIM is always thinking of how its devices can be more effectively used by businesses and employees. BlackBerry Bridge, the app that connects BlackBerry smartphones to the PlayBook tablet, is a good example of this. BlackBerry Balance in interesting because on the surface a user does not see how the phone is internally quartering information. Yet, if a user tries to perform an action that has been prohibited by a company IT department then Balance give the user a notification on the device.
"So, our task as a vendor has been to understand this whole, we call it dual-persona nature, that they devices have to have," said David Heit, director of product strategy at RIM in an interview in January. "So, looking forward that these devices and their solutions there is a personal element to them where the individual decides their own level of security."
Data leaks through social media is often a concern that IT departments have, especially when sensitive client information is stored next to a social media app. Balance will prevent business information to be copied into or used by Facebook, Twitter, Windows Lives, Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo accounts. Data created by business applications cannot be used by personal applications.
"In our designs for Playbook and even for all the Blackberry smartphones we are recognizing that dual-persona nature that you have to accommodate and that these devices will become capable of handling the combined scenario where it is used for both," Heit said.
Since Balance is tied through a BES 5.03 server, IT administrators get the level of control that makes them feel comfortable. If an employee leaves the organization with smartphone in tow, IT can remotely wipe the business information on the phone while keeping personal information intact. In the case of a lost of stolen phone, all data can be wiped remotely.
Dual-Persona Smartphones: BlackBerr...
Osama Bin Laden is dead.
You may have heard that last night or this morning. It has been all over the television, Twitter, Facebook. Really, any medium that you can possibly think of almost anywhere in the world has been entirely devoted to the death of Bin Laden.
Twitter was especially important in spreading the news. Social media monitoring company Sysomos was curious about just how fast and how much volume was created by the death of Bin Laden and broke down the numbers. Within 12 hours of the news being broken around 10:30 p.m. EST (UTC-4), there had been 40,000 blog posts and an incredible 2.2 million tweets.
Sysomos's numbers come as little surprise yet the volume and reach across the world was certainly impressive. Sysomos reported that around 11:45 p.m. EST, right around the time that the president was finishing his remarks, 583,017 tweets had been posted with 796 blog mentions. After Obama's address the blog mentions took off with 2,205 by 12:30 a.m. EST and 16,704 by 4 a.m. EST.
Sysomos posted a map of where the news was coming from. Mostly the news was concentrated in the United States but Bin Laden was a high-profile name across the world and tweets came in from all corners of the globe.
Even FourSquare got in on the act with people checking into a "Post Bin Laden World" as well as the town of Abbottabad, Pakistan where the firefight and killing of Bin Laden happened. Sysomos reported that by 10 a.m. EST there were 11,570 FourSquare check-ins related to Bin Laden.
Update: @TwitterGlobalPR has tweeted some factoids this afternoon. Twitter saw its highest rate of tweets per second last night with the peak coming with 5,106 at 11:00 p.m. EST. Between 10:45 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. EST Twitter average 3440 tweets per second. It is notable that Twitter did not crash under the load. A year ago at this time Twitter was having problems surrounding people tweeting about the soccer World Cup. This year the most notorious man in the world is killed and the company can handle it fine.
Sysomos On Osama Bin Laden: Wow, Do...
A number of new startup accelerator and incubator programs have popped up lately, a response no doubt to the success of the Y Combinator and TechStars programs and the success of the programs' participants. At some level, many of these programs offer similar features: networking, mentoring, office space, and funding.
Many of these new programs are modelled on YC or TechStars, but that doesn't really guarantee their success. So in order to help entrepreneurs have a better understanding of which programs were really worth the time and effort, Aziz Gilani from DFJ Mercury, working in conjunction with Tech Cocktail and the Kellogg School of Management, undertook a research project to actually rank the accelerator programs in the U.S.
Some of the results of his research were made available today on Tech Cocktail, and although the details of the methodology and the findings won't be released until later this summer, the initial results and rankings are interesting nonetheless.
According to Gilani's research, the best accelerator program in the country is TechStars Boulder, which narrowly beat out Y Combinator for the top spot. Rounding out the top 5 are Chicago's Excelerate Labs, Durham NC's LaunchBox Digital, and TechStars Boston.
The rankings were based on a number of factors, reports Tech Cocktail: qualified financing events of participating companies, success of those companies, and the characteristics of the startups (the money startups receive, the equity the accelerator takes, and so on). Gilani also interviewed investors and participants to get a better understanding of how the various programs are perceived in the industry.
And while the perception of "who's number one" will make headlines, some of this other data that Gilani will release will likely be even more important. It will help startups approach applications to accelerator programs with a fuller understanding of how these opportunities really compare.
TechStars Beats Y Combinator, Ranke...
I'm at JSConf in Portland, OR today. I just watched a presentation by John Hann from unscriptable making the case for modules instead of frameworks and libraries. Frameworks and libraries add a lot of weight to your applications. Also, they are difficult to migrate away from - creating some lock-in for a developer. Modules are meant to alleviate these problems, while still providing developers with a set of tools to speed-up development.
Hann talked about the Asynchronous Module Definition (AMD) module format, a CommonJS proposed standard that can be used today.You can find a previous presentation by Hann on the subject here.
Hann built a module loader called Curl.js. RequireJS is more established module loader.
The reaction to Hann's presentation from developers here might be described as optimistic skepticism. "It sounds good, but it seems utopian," says Keith Norman, a developer for GroupOn. "It seems like a little much to shoot for. I'd still like to take advantage of the benefits that frameworks provide."
Are Modules, Rather Than Frameworks...
We've known for months now that multiple user profiles were on their way to Google's Chrome browser, but now they've come even closer to reality as they hit the Canary build of Chrome.
Google watchdog blog Google Operating System reports today that the feature has made its way to the bleeding edge for early adopters and is even highlighted in Chrome documentation.
What does multiple profile support mean for you? It means that if you have multiple Google accounts, say one for work and one for your personal interactions, it will be much easier to switch between them. It could also be good for that shared family computer sitting in the living room.
According to the Chromium documentation, the feature will also allow users to bring in personalized browser settings associated with their Google profile:
"The multiple profiles feature will allow the user to associate a profile with a specific set of browser windows, rather than with an entire running instance of Chrome. Allowing different windows to run as different Chrome identities means that a user can have different open windows associated with different Google accounts, and correspondingly different sets of preferences, apps, bookmarks, and so on -- all those elements which are bound to a specific user's identity. Having multiple profiles in the Chrome browser also makes it easy to browse with separate identities without having to log in as separate users at the operating system level."
So, how do you get this feature for yourself? Two options - either wait until it comes out on the regular channel (our suggestion for the majority of users) or switch over to the Canary build of Chrome. The Canary Build's name refers to the old practice of miners bringing a canary into a coal mine. If poisonous gasses were present, the canary would die before it would kill the miners, acting as an alarm system. That might give you some idea on just how unstable this build channel is expected to be.
If you decide to jump into the early, early adopter set (or if you're already there), simply enter "about:flags" in the address bar, enable "Multiple profiles" and then click "Relaunch browser" at the bottom of the page. Voila.
[Image via Google Operating System]
Google Begins Testing Multiple Prof...
Today at BlackBerry World in Orlando, FL RIM announced it will add support for managing Android and iOS devices to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server platform. The technology will come from RIM's pending acquisition of ubitexx, which was announced today.
RIM also announced the availability of Gist for BlackBerry. RIM acquired Gist in February. Importantly, it looks like Gist will still be available for other platforms, which was a concern for some users.
These moves imply that RIM is finally moving towards a multi-platform approach to development.
Multi-Platform BES: A Smart Move or an Admission of Defeat?
R "Ray" Wang, Principal Analyst and CEO of Constellation Research, tweeted that this a strategic move for RIM. According to Wang, RIM must defend its core differentiators - and at the moment, that's BlackBerry Enterprise Server. "RIM is a great company w/ great assets," he wrote.
Wang thinks Asian manufacturers will commoditize the handset market, so RIM needs to emphasize its other strengths. I agree.
RIM: Multi-Platform Enterprise Information Management Company
Meanwhile, the Gist and Tungle acquisitions allow RIM to build on one of its key strengths - personal information management - while expanding into other platforms. Other mobile platforms, yes, but more importantly to the Web. RIM has been known for its simple and effective applications. But its PIM apps haven't kept up with the evolution the Web. New apps like Gist and Tungle bring RIM into the modern age.
Rumors have been circulating that BlackBerry Messenger is coming to Android and iOS. The most recent report turned out to be a hoax. But as recently as in March, Jim Tobin, RIM's senior vice-president for software and business services said that RIM didn't plan to add Android and iOS support to the BES. Hopefully a similar reversal will take place for Messenger.
RIM and Microsoft: An Odd Couple
RIM's relationship with Microsoft is getting interesting. In March, the two companies announced that Microsoft will host a cloud-based BES as part of its Office 365 offering. Later that month, Microsoft
Finally: RIM Taking BlackBerry Soft...
If you've ever used craigslist before then you know, it's just not very good. That's not to say you can't find what you need on there. The site is full of amazing deals and goods and services of all kinds, but navigating it involves opening new browser tab after browser tab, going back and forth and generally losing your way.
For those of you who are tired of the craigslist user experience from circa 1996, head on over to craiggers, the site that lets you interact with Craigslist the way you ought to.
As the craiggers' tagline says, the site is simply "craigslist data, better than craigslist!" It allows users a number of simple functions you've likely unconsciously wished for for years but didn't even realize you were desperately missing. For example, the site separates navigation into a number of columns, so you don't need to open listings in new tabs or hit the back and forward buttons all the time. Click on a result and it loads in the same page. Hit the down arrow or click on a different entry and it loads in the right most column without ever leaving the page.
Beyond navigation - which is quite an improvement already - craiggers adds on a new layer of functionality when it comes to searching. No longer do you have to search simply within a single geographic area. As the site points out, "there are cases when searching outside your immediate community benefits both seekers and providers," giving the example of searching for a stolen bike or adopting a dog. When you search on craiggers, you can specify that you want to see results from neighboring locations and it will show you those as well.
Furthermore, if you wanted to search craigslist repeatedly, say for a job or an apartment, craiggers will not only let you save the search to repeat later, but it will also send you an email notification twice a day of results.
craiggers: An Example for Developers
For those of you out there interested in more than simply craiglist searches, there's another interesting aspect to craiggers - it was built using the 3taps API. We first wrote about 3taps last month when the company launched at the Data 2.0 conference, explaining how the company wanted to "democratize the exchange of data."
Through the 3taps API, data from craigslist, eBay, Indeed, Etsy, Amazon and a host of other services is available in real-time, making mash-ups like this possible. Craiggers was built by the 3taps team as an example of the potential of its offering and we think it makes quite an argument.
Meet Craiggers: It Blows Craigslist...
Black Hat search engine optimization has raised its ugly head once again with the news of Osama Bin Laden's death. Facebook and Google users have been targeted by phishing scams and Trojan installers referencing the news. This time there is a new wrinkle: Mac users are being targeted.
Security researchers Kapersky Labs and Sophos Naked Security issued separate warnings on May 2, noting that these types of scams prey on almost any type of viral news stories as the insatiable appetite for information dulls people's normal common sense against clicking on suspicious links that promise something incredulous. Viral news events have become the breeding ground for "Zero Day" Black Hat SEO.
Kapersky found that Mac computers are being targeted this time around as well. A lot of times hackers will not bother with writing Mac script because the payoff is not worth it. The general adage is that where there is bountiful and rich information available that's where the criminals will go. Writing code for Windows was a much more efficient way to capture information. This round of phishing and hacks targets Mac installers through the trusted files system in Safari.
Hackers know Zero Day vulnerabilities as the aces up their sleeves. Security companies are constantly updating their databases, feeding user information and using honey pots to catch hacker codes to update their black lists. Once a code is in a security company's database it is not long before a fix against the malicious code is sent out and the hacker goes back to tweak the program to get around the fix. It is a never-ending dance.
Zero Day vulnerabilities are the new and powerful codes that hackers keep in reserve because the code is not in any of the security companies systems. Hence the term Zero Day - there have been zero days where this code has been exposed to potential security fix.
In the last several years, viral news has become a new way for scammers and spammers to trap consumers. Large breaking news stories, like the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, the election of Barak Obama as president and the death of Bin Laden have become breeding grounds for hackers to catch users in their nets. As more people come online and become more sophisticated in avoiding traditional phishing schemes, the hackers are also developing newer ways to prey on our consciousness. Whether that be a tweet that looks like it could be from a legitimate person (as opposed to a person-like bot) or preying on the emotions of people that just want to spread good or bad news.
It is one of the oldest tricks in history. When people are at their lowest, the cons will take the most advantage.
Hence, every time there is viral news, it is a new Zero Day gift thrown into the laps of the Black Hat SEO scammers.
The Windows rogueware is a Trojan known as Trojan.Win32.FakeAV.cvoo and comes "Best Antivirus 2011."
Scammers Delight: Viral News, Bin L...
Last month, rumors hit the Web that TweetDeck, the multi-columned, much-preferred desktop client of hardcore users, had been acquired by Twitter. Today, TechCrunch is reporting that the deal has gone through, with Twitter snapping up the company for $40 to $50 million.
While we don't want to be melodramatic, we're afraid that this deal could be the beginning of the end and here's why.
TweetDeck, It Was Nice To Know You...
The first, and most surface-level concern, is that Twitter will simply buy TweetDeck and shut it down. It wouldn't be the first time that a big company has snatched up the competition to merely put it out of business. And Twitter has a number of reasons to do just that.
In March, Twitter director of platform Ryan Sarver advised developers to quit building clients, as this was an area that the company intended on moving into in an effort to give users a uniform experience. Allowing users to view tweets alongside Facebook and LinkedIn updates, as well as sending tweets longer than 140 characters using Deck.ly, certainly doesn't sound like "uniform experience" to us, which brings us to our second point.
Where Art Thou, Facebook & LinkedIn Integration?
TweetDeck goes beyond Twitter, allowing users to track their Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Myspace and Google Buzz accounts all on one dashboard. Even if Twitter allows TweetDeck to continue on as a desktop client, there's no way Twitter is keeping the ability to track other services in the now-Twitter-owned client, right?
A N00bified TweetDeck Wouldn't Be TweetDeck at All
As we mentioned before, TweetDeck is generally the Twitter client of choice for the hardcore Twitter user, but this hasn't exactly been Twitter's focus, as of late. The general push for Twitter has been to portray the service as something that's good for anyone and everyone. TweetDeck is the opposite of a tool for new users. It has complicated settings and allows the end user to customize the experience greatly, setting up filters, custom columns and more.
Could they be making a play at being able to own the advanced user experience? Sure. More likely, the company is simply playing defense against UberMedia, which had reportedly bought TweetDeck last February. The deal would have given UberMedia control of nearly 20% of the Twitter client ecosystem, something Twitter certainly wasn't keen on.
What Happens If Twitter Kills TweetDeck?
When the news first hit about Twitter potentially acquiring TweetDeck last month, Mrinal Desai wrote a guest post on TechCrunch discussing the various reasons that Twitter will kill TweetDeck upon completing the purchase. Desai points to many of the same issues discussed here and comes to a singular conclusion: "If Twitter does end up buying Tweetdeck, the product as we know it is a goner."
But what happens then? Will Tweetdeck's many dedicated users simply switch over to Twitter.com? Would Twitter force a Web-only experience and bring TweetDeck's Chrome client to its Web experience? Or would Twitter turn TweetDeck into a pared down, paid product in an attempt to bring in revenue from its most hardcore users?
We don't know, but we know one thing - a Twitter acquisition of TweetDeck does not look like a promising move for the end user, but we're hoping for the best.
Why A TweetDeck Acquisition Could S...
Music recommendation service Pandora marked today what it calls perhaps its proudest milestone in 6 years since launching: 10 billion user interactions indicating approval or disapproval of a particular song. Those thumbs up or down are used to determine subsequent recommendations for a particular user's Pandora channels.
The 10 billionth thumb was pointed up and was for the song "Ridin' Solo" by Jason DeRulo, an autotuned song I personally consider annoying and repetitive. That's the beauty of Pandora: I don't have to listen to anything like that song if I don't want to.
Pandora faces far more competition today than it has at other times in its history, but as free, easy to use, lean-back music discovery experiences go - it's still very hard to beat. Unless you're not in the United States; in that case this whole conversation is likely a sore one.
None the less, the company and its capacity to turn user feedback into more intelligent recommendations have become a metaphor for many people. A Google search for the phrase "like Pandora for" returns almost 50,000 results, including links to things like a "Pandora for movies" (Jinni), a "Pandora for books" (many different sites) and "Pandora for bros" (fratmusic.com).
Above: A photo of Pandora's community manager Aaron Morgan, from Twitter.
Pandora Hits 10 Billion Thumbs Up O...
Joe was built by Dave Balmer, a veteran Yahoo developer now working for HP on WebOS.
According to Ballmer's JSConf presentation, the core principles of Jo are:
Let CSS3 do its job
Keep the code light
Custom extend() method
Supports either bind or this
Jo: A Lightwight Framework For Buil...
Google is allowing some users to search the web by voice on their desktop browsers, a spokesperson from the company confirmed to us today in an email. Selected users are shown a little grey microphone at the end of the search box. The experiment was first mentioned by San Francisco's Matt Schlicht, social product lead at live streaming video service Ustream, and was written up by the blog Mashable. (Turns out Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable posted on this even earlier, this morning.)
Voice search may or may not come to the desktop browser version of Google beyond this experiment, but it would good for Google's long term interests if it did. Would it be good for users? Do you want to use voice input for search when you have access to a full keyboard, as opposed to a little Android phone? I suspect for many people the size of a keyboard is a less limiting factor than comfort using it for input. Voice search on the desktop could change the nature of peoples' search queries and provide a lot more speech data for Google to analyze and learn from.
Most readers here may be able to type as fast or nearly as fast as they can speak, and feel comfortable doing so, but I imagine that's not the case for the vast majority of Google users. Most peoples' search queries are classically short and crude, generally 3 words or less; in many cases that may be because people simply grew tired of struggling to type. Web search by voice, in the comfort of your own home, could be a very different search experience for millions of people.
Google began incorporating speech to text into the newest stable build of its Chrome browser last week. Were it to allow everyone, including Internet Explorer and Firefox users, to search by voice at Google.com - that could be a big boost to the company's efforts to develop deep artificial intelligence and an understanding of the meaning in free-form text.
Speech to text is a fascinating example of a technology that offers some immediate benefit to the users who engage with it - but ultimately far more value in the form of intelligence that Google can make use of across many different applications now and in the future. Effective speech to text technology and the artificial intelligence behind it is expensive and challenging - and yet it's free for Android, Chrome and maybe Google.com users. As the saying goes, if you don't know what's being sold - then the product is probably you.
Google Experimenting With Voice Sea...
This morning, at the BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, RIM announced the forthcoming availability of a native Facebook application for its PlayBook tablet computer. Since no specific launch date was given at the time, it was expected the app would roll out at a later date, perhaps later in the week. Instead, we were pleasantly surprised when Facebook app appeared in the BlackBerry App World marketplace later this afternoon.
Like the PlayBook itself, this tablet-optimized version of the social networking site has room to improve, as there are still a few bugs and kinks to work out. But at least RIM can finally claim a high-profile app for its woefully app-lacking tablet - and this time, it's an app the iPad doesn't have.
Facebook on the PlayBook
When you first launch the Facebook for PlayBook application, it defaults to a view of your News Feed. From here, you can "like" and comment on your friends' posts, click on shared links and videos to view those items in the PlayBook's Web browser and, through the box at the top right of the screen, you can update your own status.
The status update box also provides a button that lets you share a photo from your camera or photo library. There is a little confusion when posting from the library, however, because it takes you to an interface that shows you tabs for "Pictures," "Video," "Music" and "Documents," which makes you assume that other, non-photo content can be posted, too. That is not the case.
The app also provides access to other standard Facebook features, available at any time by tapping the button at the top left of the screen. Here, in an interface greatly resembling what you see on the iPhone, there are options for viewing your Profile, your Friends lists, Photos, Messages and Chat.
When viewing your own profile, there is a button at the bottom which lets you switch between your Wall, your Info section and your Photos. You can't edit your Facebook profile info from the app, though.
Clicking on the Photos option from your Profile takes you to the same page you would see if you tapped on Photos from the main navigation. Here, you can see all your albums and there's a button to toggle between photos and videos, to better filter through your content. While viewing photos, you can tap on the photo itself to display a bar at the top that lets you like, comment or tag the photo you're viewing.
Your Friends list lets you view your friends in both a list view and a grid layout. Plus, you can search for friends and Pages, add new friends and respond to friend requests.
Facebook Chat is a two-paned interface, with contacts on the left and conversations on the right. New chat messages appear as notifications in the Nav Bar as pop-overs. However, if you're one of those folks who hates the distraction of Facebook Chat, you'll be happy to know that you can switch it off in the app's Settings.
Also available in the Settings are links to your Account Settings, Privacy Settings, the Help Center and Terms. All of these items open in a Web browser window.
In the Messages section, you can switch between your Inbox, Outbox and Updates using a button at the bottom of the screen.
There was a little bugginess here, as the Facebook for PlayBook app was showing I have four unread messages, although in reality, all my messages on Facebook.com have been read. The supposedly unread messages are so far back in my messages list, I can't even locate them to "read" them again so the message count will be appear accurately. (The app does not count unread updates from your Pages in its message count, however.)
Besides the small complaints mentioned above, the only other major issue - and this one is irksome - is that the application won't work in portrait mode. It's an odd oversight, to say the least, and hopefully not a design choice on either RIM or Facebook's part.
So that's one app down. Unfortunately, RIM has much further to go if it ever wants to compete with the likes of the iPad. The PlayBook's worst feature for now is the lack of apps - not just the missing email, calendaring and contacts applications, either - but all the "standard" big-name apps you expect to see on mobile platforms. They simply haven't arrived yet. Will they? Will Twitter for PlayBook come next? Fingers crossed, BlackBerry fans.
Facebook For The PlayBook Is Here
I do not envy the small business owner who has to make sense of the broad terms that are used to describe technology infrastructure.
The cloud is abstract enough. But the term "private cloud" is even worse. Luckily, it's a phrase that looks to have seen its day in the limelight.
Here's what does make sense. Build on what you have already done to make your organization better prepared for the disruptions that could always possibly occur.
For example, consider how you can use a virtual environment to make your business more secure. Many businesses have consolidated to some extent and virtualization has helped them do that.
The next step may be to develop a disaster recovery plan. We've seen what happened in Alabama and Japan. It's important to consider how your company may survive a major disaster. That might mean connecting your physical servers with a cloud infrastructure.
So don't worry about terms like "private cloud." It makes more sense to have a plan that actually protects your business and keeps resources available for the work you really need to do. And that means making sure your organization has a virtual infrastructure that has a plan for backup and recovery in case crisis ever does strike.
Confused? Don't Let The Private Cl...
Last week while I was working, I saw the sun set over Portland with one of my closest friends, right at the moment he posted a picture of it to Facebook. At four AM this morning, I had a groggy conversation on Facebook with a friend who couldn't sleep and was watching the first boats come into her corner of Puget Sound.
I've got around a thousand contacts on Facebook but there are about 30 people for whom I'm almost always the first person, no matter what hour of day or night it is, to see their new status messages and shared links. I'm able to post comments on messages from those friends, family members and key professional contacts consistently and in a high-profile way thanks to a new iPhone app that delivers push notifications when selected Facebook contacts post anything. It's called FavFriends and I like it a lot.
FavFriends is an independently developed iOS app that costs 99 cents and is super simple. It's also very useful in helping me keep up with my highest-priority people on the world's biggest social network. I've been testing it for a week and it's now on my short list of must-have apps. The web is a busy place and I love making sure I see news from a particular group of people in my life. You might feel the same way.
Right: Marie Deatherage isn't just a key leader in the non-profit technology community, she was also the officiant that married my wife and I when we eloped. Names of the non-faved deleted to protect their feelings.
It couldn't be simpler: you scroll through a list of your Facebook friends and check off who you want to get push notifications from, then when you click on those notifications the app opens up the Facebook page in question inside its browser. The app was a little buggy at first (that appears to be fixed) and its logo seems to scream out "copyright violation," but whatever - it's a great little app.
No matter what the social network, my philosophy is generally the same: oversubscribe to maximize serendipity, then segment based on priority and have the highest-priority streams of information delivered through the interface most-likely to interrupt whatever else I'm doing when someone important to me says anything.
I am, though, going to try to remember not to leave my phone flat on the table next to my head while I sleep. Being woken up before sunrise by the vibration of a Facebook status about boats on the water was fun this morning, but I don't want to make a habit of it.
Rock Facebook Like A Pro With The F...
Mobile gaming on smartphones is tied for the fifth-most used activity on a handheld. Some thing the handheld gaming market is different from that of smartphones, but that's old school. Cheaper software that can leverage connectivity for social or multi-player gaming is earning high scores.
Sorry, Mario: Smartphones Are The H...
Rumor has it we'll see refreshed Apple iMacs as soon as Tuesday, May 3, including new Intel Sandy Bridge processors and new Thunderbolt ports. Even if the iMac isn't something you're terribly interested in, this is a release that all Apple-watchers should be excited about.
Thunderbolt Makes New IMacs An Elec...
For Silicon Valley startups, good timing can be just as crucial as good technology. Just ask Bunchball, the six-year-old, San Jose, Calif.-based, social gaming, software startup. In 2005, when the company debuted its software platform, the current industry buzzword "gamification" hadn't even been coined yet.
For Startups, Timing Is Everything ...
Utility PG&E has hit another snag with its smart meter roll-out. This afternoon, the company announced it will replace 1,600 of its smart meters, which were manufactured by Landis+Gyr, because of a defect that causes the miscalculation of customer energy bills.
PG&E Replacing 1,600 Broken Smart M...
Now that Dish owns Blockbuster, it will try to build a profitable business from the ailing video rental store. Digital will be a part of Dish's plans, but CEO Charlie Ergen said it wouldn't compete with Netflix, in part because Netflix is already too big.
Dish CEO: Netflix Has An Insurmount...
Score one for RIM: its new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is getting an official Facebook application before Apple's iPad. Announced at this week's BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Florida, the new app is the first tablet-optimized interface for the PlayBook. With Facebook for PlayBook, users will be able to view and add friends, read through their News Feed, view photos and videos and chat with their Facebook friends.
BlackBerry PlayBook Gets Facebook A...
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