Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Twitter just got better

As noted by Biz Stone just a few moments ago on the Twitter Blog .... the team at Twitter just rolled out a few changes aimed at making it easier to work with your 'follower' and 'following' lists (directly from the web interface).

The ability to SMS, Follow, Direct Message, and more just went live.

I doubt anyone would argue that most of these changes are long overdue.

Simple on the surface, yet Twitter just got better.

Microsoft - 2 Huge New Green Data Centers

Microsoft announced the addition of two mega data centers to go online during July.

The first goes live tomorrow in Dublin, Ireland.

Spanning 303,000 square feet, this new data center currently has 5.4 megawatts of critical power available and is expected to be expanded to 22.2 mega watts.

The second is in the US. The Chicago data center will go online July 20th. The facility is 700,000 square feet (or the size of 16 football fields!) and will utilize the latest 'container' technology.

Both facilities have been built to new (Generation 3) energy efficiency standards.

More on the new Microsoft mega data denters can be found at TechNet here.

Details on Microsoft's practices for environmentally sustainable data centers can be found here.

Bing Photo Contest and Webmaster Toolbox

Microsoft's new search engine, Bing, continues to roll-out a variety of new marketing and webmaster initiatives.

The Bing Photo Contest on Facebook lets you enter your photos for your own 'moment of fame' on Bing's front page.

Webmasters were introduced to the Bing Toolbox over the weekend with updated information including how to get your website listed in Bing, submitting XML sitemaps, and a new Bing API.

It's worth noting that Bing, like it's predecessor Live.com, still relies heavily on the sitemaps.org robots.txt file standard (IE: Include that XML sitemap line in your robots.txt file!). 

You can also ping your new or updated XML sitemap to Bing directly from your browser.  The new layout is:
http://www.bing.com/webmaster/ping.aspx?siteMap=[your full xml sitemap URL]

Bing IS still producing a significantly higher organic return than Live.com on websites that I watch.

Is it novelty or do people like it?

Time will tell :)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Got News? Google and YouTube Want You!

Many of us have noted significant changes at YouTube over the past few months.
 As noted in a post of the YouTube Biz Blog as short time ago (and cross posted to the Google News Blog), the YouTube News Channel is partnering with Google News and is rolling out the welcome mat.

It's important to note that Google IS including 'citizen journalism' video as well as 'unique' news organizations  deemed to be 'authoritative' in the news partner program.

It's pretty apparent that Google and YouTube want to be 'the' online video news portal while making Google News faster and more relevant.

With Video and Mobile still on the cutting edge of search and no doubt the continuing next chapter on the Internet, Google wants to be all over this .... and right now, they're offering you a chance to be part of it.

More details on how to be featured on the YouTube News Channel (or other new channel) can be found here (or here).  The YouTube Partner program can be found here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Firefox 3.5 likely for this week (Updated)

Earlier today, I noticed a post on WebMonkey that the public 'final' version of Firefox 3.5 could be available as early as Tuesday.

Apparently, BetaNews confirmed this info a short time ago.

Firefox is still my default browser.  The reason, for the most part, is the myriad of extensions that just make it an easier and customizable Internet experience for me.  I do use Google Chrome (the dev versions), and seem to have had a better-than-most experience with the version of Internet Explorer 8 version that's comes with Windows 7 RC.

My earlier attempts with various release candidates of 3.5 were not as 'healthy' but that's what Beta and Release Candidates are all about......  To get those of us that like messing with this stuff to help get the bugs out (while getting the word out) ... for free :)

Late this afternoon, I downloaded the latest RC (3) of Firefox 3.5.  I installed it using Windows 7 RC on a laptop with reasonable system resources.

There IS a 'noticable' difference and it's been running smoothly with no crashes or huge 'memory blocks'.  While I don't (never have) benchmark software because I think it's a very safe assumption that there are too many variables (IE: Your hardware, Internet connection, existing running processes, etc.), I think it's safe to say that Mozilla has a fairly substantial improvement on the way with Firefox 3.5.

The Firefox 3.5 Release Candidate 3 can be downloaded here , or, you can 'play it safe' and wait for Tuesday :)

Great Weekend you guys ...

Update 1:  Some major websites are not yet recognizing Firefox 3.5 including the new Google Adwords PPC interface.

Update 2: June 30, 2009 11 AM ET:  Firefox 3.5 has been released.  The current 'available languages' download page can be found here, and the release notes are here.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Microsoft launches special Windows 7 pricing (Update 3)

Microsoft Investor Relations (NASDAQ: MSFT) announced they will be holding a conference call  / webcast at 8 AM PDT today to explain the new Windows 7 upgrade program (and discount program for early purchasers) and related accounting information for investors.

The Webcast and Powerpoint presentation will be available here.

Some insight was been provided earlier in this video from the Windows Team Blog:

Announcing the Windows 7 Upgrade Option Program & Windows 7 Pricing

Update 1 - 6 PM ET:  ArsTechnica appears to have the rundown on upgrade and full pricing in an updated piece here.

Update 2 - Channel 10 (owned by Microsoft) has confirmed the pricing being reported.

Update 3 - Friday June 26, 8 AM ET - The two Microsoft Windows 7 upgrade program websites are now live here and here, although some individual manufacturers are still putting up their own pages.

Microsoft is also now offering the Windows 7 pre-order pricing at the Microsoft Store.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's beyond a Black Belt ? A Gmail Master?

In a post to the Official Gmail Blog a short time ago titled So, you want to be a Gmail ninja? ....
in a way I suppose only Google can do, the Gmail team introduced a new chart explaining the in's and outs of Gmail, which ... ugh .. allows you to rank yourself:

White Belt .. Green Belt .. Black Belt, or (have a seat?) .... Gmail Master!

From what we can tell, there is no bodily harm potential (IE: Kicking, quick movements, splitting bricks).

Just a good understanding of what you can do with a Gmail account.

You can 'peek' at the chart right here. (Note: It will open as a PDF) ... or .... you can order an (official) laminated one from www.barcharts.com/gmail for $1.25 US.

The 1024 freebies that Google offered earlier today are already gone.
(Yeah, I know, bummer).

There's also a new online Gmail tip page just launched here.

I have a feeling we may see a few of the laminated babies floating around SMX East or the next Google get together ...

We'll see :)

Microsoft Unleashes Free Antivirus Beta (Updated)

Announced in November by Microsoft, the long awaiting (beta) successor to OneCare arrived a short time ago.

We downloaded copies from the Microsoft Connect Website for both XP and our Windows 7 RC box.

Set-up was essentially seamless.

Being a touch cautious, we offloaded Avast (on the XP3 box) and AVG (on the Windows 7 box) before installing.

The program goes through a validation check (IE: You must be using 'genuine Microsoft software') prior to installation, then in an easy step-by-step fashion, downloads current virus signatures and goes through a quick default scan of your PC.

Unlike other beta testers, Windows Essentials (previously code named 'Morro') found no spyware or viruses lurking here.

Perhaps that's because we use CCleaner on a regular basis to clean out our caches, junk files, cookies, etc ... or ... the other AntiVirus software just worked ? :)

Interestingly, there was no problem logging into Microsoft Connect using Firefox to download the new Beta.

While some other pre-release articles are noting a limit on downloads, we were unable to confirm this plus (check this out?), Microsoft is currently running ads on Google announcing the release:

Security Essentials will replace Windows Defender on your PC if you use it.  So far, memory use on both boxes appears minimal.

Microsoft has stated that Windows Essentials is not an attempt to replace commercially available AntiVirus solutions but to spread a touch more security to those that can't afford more elaborate programs.

Of course, with plenty of free programs out there, most notably AVG, there could be a bit of an argument to be made there.

On the other hand, if Redmond designed the program to run better with their own software as well as proprietary pieces, it might be 'a good thing'.....

Update 1 - 2 PM ET:  ZDNet is reporting that downloads will be capped at 75,000.  Liveside.net is saying it 'might be changed'.
Update 2 - 10 PM ET The beta is still available at this hour (no doubt exceeding 75,000 downloads) and is also available with an interesting write-up at BetaNews here.
Update 3 - 11 PM ET An alert Digg user (with thanks to 'diskserious') noted that the disabling of Windows Defender is not yet active.  The Microsoft explanation can be found here.
Final Update - 11 AM June 24 - As of this morning, downloads were no longer available in the US.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Google - A new landmark in computer vision

This morning, Google announced an initiative for computer recognition of thousands of landmarks around the world.

Cross-posted a short time ago from the Google Research Blog to the Official Google Blog, the research team is presenting a paper (see below) at the CVPR Conference in Miami that explains "a new technology that enables computers to quickly and efficiently identify images of more than 50,000 landmarks from all over the world with 80% accuracy".

The Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition conference is put on the by the IEEE Computer Society and is ongoing now until June 25th.

You can read the entire Google paper here (Note: will open as a PDF).

You can also follow the CVPR conference on Twitter @CVPR or check out their Facebook page here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The new (SEO-friendly) CBS News Beta website

As US and International news websites continue to position themselves for greater visibility to a wider audience, we couldn't help but notice the all-new CBS News website with a 'tour' now  online in Beta.

The site embraces four search marketing and user-friendly vehicles that others are also moving to:

1) It's easy, simple-to-navigate, and uncluttered.  (With a touch of rich media, simple is the new 'in').
2) It's more SEO friendly than the old CBS site. Perhaps less a few 'alt tags', the code is easier to crawl than ever.
3) User engagement is on board  "Tell us what you think" and ...
4) Lots of video. 

The tours offer you the choice of being introduced to the site by Katie Couric, Lara Logan, Charles Osgood, Bob Schieffer, Peter Van Sant, Lesley Stahl, or the CBS Early Show Anchor team.

It's a pretty good guess that they're keeping track off who you click on first :)

We did several pieces on CBS and their hyper web engagement during the CNET acquisition and after the 60 Minutes Stahl - Zuckerberg interview in January 2008. (It was well before the entire electronic world jumped on Facebook for promotional purposes).

CBS continues to innovate and do a little combat with their competitors here in the US, and now hundreds (thousands?) of news outlets around the world right here on the web.

The site designers also seem to have an affection for Darth Vader?!

If it's still there when you read this, the first line is within a comment tag (IE: You have to look at the source code to see it).  Just before the first head tag.

-- Vader loves you and chad --

Apparently a reference to these guys.

You can check out the new Beta CBS News format here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

TweetDeck Desktop upgrade now available

While everyone's bound to be writing and commenting later today on Tweetdeck for iPhone, Tweetdeck's Desktop client just got upgraded to version 0.26.2 as well!

Previously in beta, the public release today introduces a LOT of new features, among them :

Sync –Sync your TweetDeck and iPhone
Multiple account support - Manage multiple Twitter accounts
Local trends
Qik and 12seconds video clip integration.
A new ‘Block & Report Spam’ button (yeah!)
‘Reply All’ - Tweet everyone mentioned in a tweet in just a couple of clicks.
Share and preview YFrog photos inside TweetDeck.
Smart filter – Start typing a username to find a person and add them to a group quickly and easily.
.... and more.

You can checkout the new Desktop TweetDeck here and the new (free) TweetDeck for iPhone at the Apple iPhone app store here.

Great weekend everyone!

Update June 29, 2009 - TweetDeck moved to version 0.26.3 today adding a variety of new features and fixes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Windows Update - The Update That Isn't There

Ever since Sun managed to 'extract' the Java Virtual Machine from Microsoft, updates for Java SE have only been available to those checking the Java Website or those who have 'notify' or 'automatic update' turned on.

While Java has generally been declining in use, it still is used on many websites (and for many other apps and applications).

Earlier today, the Java 'engine' was upgraded to SE6 Update 14.
The Update has a host of bug fixes, speed enhancements and more. Release notes can be found here.

Unfortunately, there is still no mention of Google's Chrome Browser.

Two things to keep in mind:
1) On most Windows systems, you will see multiple versions of Java showing in your 'programs'.  It IS safe (and will save some hard disk space) to remove the older one.
2) Continuing the tradition of 'icky bundling', Java comes packaged with the Yahoo! toolbar on either fresh installs OR and updates.  If you don't want the toolbar, you can opt-out during the installation (or uninstall it afterwards).

Java SE Update 14 can be found at the dedicated Java website here.

Sidenotes:  Despite not being listed, the upgrade is working here under Windows 7 RC without conflicts.
Mac OS X users should use the software update feature to check for updates.

Update 1 (Correction):  The recent versions of Java are compatible with Google's Chrome browser (It's just not mentioned specifically on the Sun website).

It's Official - Traditional Journalism is Dead (Updated)

After a few brief forays into radio and print journalism in my somewhat (very?) eclectic career, the one thing I always had a serious beef with was editors.  Particularly editors that insisted that I use the NY Times Style book (which I felt was totally obsolete).

I wrote a piece a while back mentioning this,  A reader responded "Who cares about the style book anymore if you're trying to make an important point?".

 Enter the 'Citizen Journalism wav'e that started about a year or so and my comments at the time that it was cool but needed to be authenticated at times (not to mention the fact that thousands of reporters were probably being 'displaced').  Reaction was mixed.

Many may remember Dan Rather's exit from CBS and the reason given as 'bad information' on a political piece he had produced.  Rather may have been a bit dry but he was a 'follow the bosses orders' guy, as evidenced many times in his long tenure with the network.

The reality, of course, was ratings.

This past week, the hashtag #cnnfail trended on Twitter for almost 5 days.  People, real people, from all over the world .... wanted real-time coverage of events happening in Iran.

As of earlier today, the CNN 'Internet Desk' was in full swing, delivering video from YouTube, comments from Facebook and, comments from Twitter.  It was all done with a disclaimer "We have no way of verifying this information".  Amazing.  Twitter spoke.  CNN listened.

While there's no doubt that some if it is 'spam' or 'planted', the fact is that while the BBC was already using every vehicle to tell the Iran story, many wanted CNN reporting the story, regardless of how they did it.  Twitterers even managed to get CNN to very quickly stop using the sources' names (in less than an hour yesterday) after some complained they may be putting students and others in Iran in harms way.

It's a sad reality that television news, for the most part, relies on ratings.  On the other hand, maybe it is time for the rule book to be banished.  There's always the 'retraction', 'apology' and or a beefed up legal department if necessary.

With the wholesale shift to the web continuing (much of which is NOT verifiable), it's time to engage so-called citizen journalists and the tens of thousands of others that have 'real' information.  Younger viewers would probably be all over this as wanting to be 'a part' of the news.

I know a few reporters and journalists that were early adopters of new media.  Often, they had the stories first, and if necessary (and when possible) could travel to the scene.

A short time ago, I found Fox's Julie Banderas engaging her Twitter followers for opinion of how to best implement 'the new media' (and particularly to engage younger viewers without alienating existing ones).

It doesn't matter how you feel about Fox or any other network.  Times are changing at light speed.  I, for one, think it's exciting.

You can send your thoughts to Julie at @JulieBanderas on Twitter.

The people are speaking out.

Who knows what's next?


Update 1: June 20, 2009 8 :30 PM  Fox News is running continuous Live weekend coverage of the events unfolding in Iran.  The other cable news networks in the US are not.  It's apparent, whether this piece played a small role or not, many of you are continuing to speak out. 
Update 2: At 10 PM ET CNN did return to coverage of Iran.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Google - Hey, we can do that !

As the buzz continues to build around Microsoft's Bing 'decision engine', over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan commented on a new link appearing today on Google. 

Google took to their front page Wednesday with a 'small note' :

The bottom link goes here. It's not only a reminder to Bing users, but to WolframAlpha AND Twitter users (Quakes?) as well.

In the Search Engine Land piece, Danny also points to an older Google 'help' page showing even more search shortcuts.   I had forgotten entirely about the 'quakes' shortcut and find myself hopping over the the USGS pages every time a new one trends on TwitScoop.

The jury's still out on whether or not Bing can maintain and/or grow a double-digit search market share. In a piece by Reuters a short time ago citing comScore's recent 'search numbers' and titled 'Microsoft makes big gains with Bing', Steve Ballmer was quoted a calling Google 'a big dog competitor'.

Think I'll leave that one right there :)

The pessimists aren't laughing anymore

Over the past seven years, I've written more than a few articles in various places including right here about one of my 'dreams' for the future of the Internet.

For the most part, my comments were dismissed, even laughed at, almost every time I went in that direction.

The 'dream' was a simple one.  Connecting the people of the world, even bypassing governments, in a way that the average citizen of any country could learn the truth about each other, and the fact, that most people are generally good natured and want peace and friendship.

The recent events in Iran as well as the obvious 'cave' by US media outlets to the wishes of Twitter followers  is the first real example I've actually seen of 'the dream'.  Of course, it comes under very disheartening circumstances with many being hurt, injured or worse.

Yet, the evolution is here. It's here now.  The pieces to the puzzle are in place. The people are ready.

The only obstacle the the 'average citizens of the world' connecting and communicating over the coming years will be 'hate' teachings that have been handed down over generations.  It's up to all of us to educate each other and our children that these teachings are part of a completely obsolete bias.  That won't happen overnight.  It could even take a generation.

As I drove home this evening and listened to a US satellite news channel continuing their coverage (almost non stop) on the continuing protests in Iran, I couldn't help but wonder if my dream had begun.

That ..... we've witnessed a new beginning.

With all the financial gloom and doom worldwide, I'm viewing this first step as a very bright light for our childrens' future.

Charlie Anzman

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Music Royalty Fee for Sirius Satellite Subscribers

A short-time ago, Sirius satellite radio announced that a 'U.S. Music Royalty Fee" to take effect beginning beginning July 29, 2009.

Facing financial difficulties, Sirius recently received a government 'green light', and merged with XM Satellite radio, essentially creating a monopoly in the US for individual and commercial satellite radio subscribers.

According to the release, "100% of the U.S. Music Royalty Fee will be used to offset payments from SIRIUS and XM to the music industry."

Details and an explanation of the new charges can now be found on the Sirius radio website here.

Update June 17 PM:  Sirius is set to launch an iPhone app on Thursday June 18.  The app will work free on the iPod Touch (and Wi-Fi).  Others will pay approx. $3/month in the US.

Try Google Reader without a Google ID

Those of us that read Google Reader using Feedly or some other program may have missed the updated  Google Reader log-in page with 'live samples'.

The simple (yet informative and easy to try) interface provides a glance at some current feeds in three categories ... News, Popular, and Sports.

You can scroll down without logging in for some (current) sample feeds .... and, as you scroll down, the script adds more from the bottom up.

For those of you that are yet sharing via Google Reader (Huh??) or using the product, you can test it out here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Now I'm convinced. BING could be HUGE.

 On a day when the 'tech press' is talking up Hunch.com, the latest start-up in online 'decision making' (and a fun test drive no doubt).... a week or so into it's premier, I was taking Bing for a serious spin.

Is this just another 'search identity crisis' for Microsoft?

I know I've written numerous posts about Bing in the past week, but any SEO or SEM that's serious about what they do, should always be experimenting and researching any new product that comes along that 'has a chance' (while at the same time, keeping up with the latest changes from established players).

I think it's safe to say that after 13 years of doing this stuff, I have a decent feel for the web landscape .... where many authoritative answers come from .... and which websites (new and old) can be trusted in various spaces.

During the course of the day, (in between working and entertaining unexpected guests ?!), I asked Bing 40 or 50 questions.  Just like that.  Not in 'search form'.  I asked it questions.

Without hesitation, I can honestly say .... I was outright blown away 

This is NOT Live.com with a facelift.  This IS what ASK should have been ...

The questions ranged from very simple querys (in question form) to specific ones, some in newer and emerging industries.  Yes, I even asked a few tough 'out there' questions to see if websites that I am current 'involved with' would appear. 

Bing ... WE were right there.  (Ugh ... Wow?).

So was 'What time is it?' :)

It's no secret that I'm a huge Google fan.  I love (and use) just about everything they have out there.

This is an entirely different product and the 'Bing lovers' I've run in to on Twitter have a reason to be talking.

So this guy, whose been running around saying "Microsoft's next big thing IS Windows 7" (and pent up demand for PCs by businesses and individuals worldwide) .... is now thinking Redmond is on the verge of a major growth spurt on the web as well .... well beyond the enterprise level.

Bing works.  Period.

I'll tag this post to Friendfeed here (or as always, feed free to chime in below).

Did YOUR Bing questions work?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Did Facebook strike a deal with Bing?

It's hard for me to imagine that Microsoft's Bing is 'hyper-indexing' .... something that Google has been doing with select blogs and websites since last year.

About 7 hours ago, I (like so many others), decided to grab a Facebook vanity URL.

While running some SEO tests with Bing just now, I just noticed this :

While we know that Microsoft holds a small investment in Facebook ... Was there a deal here?

It's either that or Bing has made some significant changes since the name change from Live.com.

Verizon unleashes LG EnV Touch in the US

The long-rumored, LG enV Touch cellphone was rolled out over the last 3 days in the US by Verizon.

The predecessor to the LG Voyager is lookin' good....slimmer, lighter, and with improved features.

The VX11000 began hitting stores late Wednesday and the Verizon Wireless website yesterday.

As posted on Friendfeed last night, after putting it through it paces, I bought one.  It was bye-bye Blackberry for this guy.  Yes, I liked it (for my purposes) better than the 'Storm' which is still experiencing a few issues (with a promised software update coming).

The rundown:
It DOES have 'the network' .... so here in rural America with multi-band capability and the new Verizon 'Rev A', the Internet works with a flash-compatible HTML browser.

LG has yet to put out a phone that 'bombs' (to my memory).  Their quality control in this space is excellent.  In this short period of time, that appears to be the case for the Touch.

The phone not only has a unique 3 inch touchscreen (with vibrating feedback) but flip it open, the speakerphone goes on, and you have a second screen with a QWERTY keyboard that is not crowded, even for people with big fingers.

The onboard 3.2 MP camera has a flash, does video, and the phone accepts standard inexpensive microSD flash cards for expansion and easy transfer of music, photos and videos to your computer.

Dolby stereo (with 6 customizable EQ settings) for downloaded music is also included (the music isn't :), and the Touch is Bluetooth stereo compatible.

It's pretty obvious (with regional pricing and a slew of ongoing TV commercials) that Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have declared 'war'. 

With the original iPhone selling for about the price of this phone already. and the new G S on the way, I haven't seen phone prices at these levels for some time.  (Some stores are even sporting almost-crazy 2 for one deals).

I may not be able to 'get an app for that' but it's the closest thing to it .....

Have a Great Weekend All
staff edit June 13, 2009 3 PM

Friday, June 12, 2009

Will analog TV watchers turn to the net?

Estimates floating around the web the past few days have approxiamtely 2.8 million people here in the US without access to television signals this morning.

Yes, the once-delayed switch to DTV is now on .... and the analog signals are off.

There are numerous resources on the web to find your local DTV station.  Most are commercial in nature (Wanna buy an antenna ? :), but the government site now has a feature where you can simply enter your zip code for a list of stations and approximate signal strength.

The other important fact for over the air HD and DTV watchers is to remember to re-scan your TV.  Some stations will actually change frequency and a few are adding local simulcast transmitters in more rural areas.

In these more remote areas of the country, broadband Internet, in many cases, is actually easier to find (or get) than cable or an over-the-air TV signal.

If the numbers are right, and loads people waited til the last minute .... Will some go satellite?  (Competitors DirecTv and Dish Network are both advertising heavily on the web and elsewhere today).

With 2.8 million TV viewers without a signal today (for whatever reason) and a middle class dealing with a severe economic downturn, it's my guess that Hulu, YouTube, Sling.com and TV.com will see an immediate increase in users.

Will anyone give up the 'old tube' entirely?  Many already have but it's still mostly people in the tech sector and but all indications still a very small number. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Firefox moves to version 3.0.11

Earlier this afternoon, Mozilla started rolling out the latest patch to the stable version of Firefox (3.0).

The new version, Firefox 3.0.11, addresses several security and stability issues.  Release notes can be found here.

A few bugs were repaired as well.

If you haven't been offered the automatic upgrade yet, just tap on 'Help' at the top of the browser, the 'Check for Updates' and follow the prompts.

All language downloads can now be found on this page along with versions for Windows, Linux and Max OS X.

Update July 21, 2003 - Firefox 3.0 has moved to version 3.0.12.  Users that have opted to stay with the 3.0 series rather than move to 3.5.1 should download this security update.

WordPress 2.8 is here - Latest version posted for download

Earlier this morning, Matt Mullenweg announced the availability of Wordpress 2.8 on the Wordpress Blog, a significant upgrade to the popular blogging platform.

This latest version not only addresses over 790 bugs, but also changes the way it does styling and scripting  making it much easier to use.  In addition, you can now add a theme with one simple click.

The widget interface has been completely redesigned make that simpler and developers have a 'more robost API' to work with.

Overall, there are approx 180 changes in the codex that can be reviewed here.

WordPress 2.8 is available now and can be downloaded from Wordpress.org here.

Important Update 1: A few early users have been reporting some 'difficulties' on both Twitter and Friendfeed.  A good piece by Duncan Riley can be found here.

Updated 10:30 PM ET 6/11/2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Google and Virgin America take Cloud Computing to new heights

Like to fly?

The Google App Team and Virgin Atlantic have a little contest for you.

They're literally taking Cloud Computing to ...ugh .... the clouds!

As airlines continue to roll-out Wi-Fi in the US and abroad, a challenge in the air is taking place on June 24th.

All you need is a (free) Google account and one hour (only!)

'Day in the Cloud' is a scavenger hunt using Google Docs (and free Wi-Fi if you happen to be on Virgin Atlantic at the time).

Become one of the top scorers and you might win a brand-new HP netbook, 1 terabyte of Google Account storage for your photos and mail ... plus, you'll fly free for a year on Virgin America.

For those who absolutely must have their feet on the ground that day ... it's OK .... you can play too.

Details on 'Day in the Cloud' can be found on the recently launched website here.

You can also follow the 'challenge' on Twitter or participate with the hashtag #dayinthecloud.

The official eligibility rules will be posted here soon.

As of this post, flights were still available to select destinations on Virgin America if you want 'the full experience' .....

.... and you thought Spymaster was cool.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bing Ad Campaign goes into overdrive

You don't have to look far, at this stage, to find out about Microsoft's transition from Live.com to Bing.

It's gone well beyond the 'tech press' over the past few days. Even a few 'regular people' are Bing ... ing.

Those using the MSN.com front page have already seen the switch:

The 80+ million dollar Microsoft Bing ad campaign is now well under way.

On the web, Bing ads can now be found on news sites (and many others) premiering the new 'decision engine' with animated searches for answers such as the one below running this morning on WashingtonPost.com :

The TV campaign is growing as well, not only in major markets. but in rural (US) markets as well.
This is one of the new Bing ads (as seen on YouTube):

Bing is even running PPC ads on Google !

There are 'Bingers' on Twitter .... and more.

Opinions from the Tech community seem to be improving as Bing fine-tunes their results a bit.

Former Microsoft employee Robert Scoble (currently working with RackSpace) kicked off a discussion on Friendfeed last night here.

There are many other discussions going on around the web with the initial mixed reactions turning mostly positive.

Can Bing challenge Google?

While I doubt 'Bing-it' will ever enter the vernacular ... an 80 million dollar ad campaign spread out across numerous media spaces will definitely keep the buzz alive for a while.

The questions become ....  Will the buzz continue (and 'stick'?).  Will Google, at any stage, feel a need to counter the massive advertising? ... and ... despite discounting most of it publicly so far ..... Could Yahoo lose their prized front page position on many desktops?

More importantly ....

Have you .. ugh ... 'Bung' yet?

Great weekend all

Friday, June 5, 2009

Terms of Service - New website monitoring changes

Yesterday, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched TOSBack.org.

The new website monitors changes to 'Terms of Service' of (currently) 44 major websites including Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, The White House, and 39 others .... not exclusive of themselves.

While it's a safe assumption that MOST people don't take the time to read the Terms of Service even when they're loading software and the terms are usually right in front of them, the new website is probably more useful in noticing when a company or websites changes their Terms of Service.

Huge headlines blared across the Tech space when Facebook made 'some adjustments'.  It makes good copy on a slow news day :)

While we all should probably read them (at least, read your mortgage??!! :), the intent of the Electronic Frontier Foundation appears to be to raise awareness of when your information is be shared or sold.

The new TOSBack website can be found here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Twitter for Drew Olanoff - Just incredible.

If you've been around the Social Media space for any amount of time, there's a good chance you've crossed paths with Drew Olanoff.

My first impressions of Drew were that he was somewhat of a 'character'.

As I read his blog posts over a few years and followed his career, I realized, in many ways, he's very much like me.

Drew is a compassionate and giving person. He cares about EVERYBODY. If someone's in trouble or something touches him deeply, chances are, you'll read about it somewhere on the Net.

Image my SHOCK when I arrived home last night and caught the very disturbing news (in my Google Reader and on FriendFeed), that Drew has been diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma.

Louis Gray, Duncan Riley, and others had already done blog posts trying to help.

In the meantime, Drew was ... ugh ... Drew. An incredible strong yet soft attitude, with an outright ambition to beat his cancer and help OTHERS by launching BlameDrewsCancer.com.

Last night (and this morning), the site is BUSY (and it'll take about 15 seconds for YOU to help!).

In typical Olanoff style, Drew is asking anyone with a gripe about anything to use the hashtag #blamedrewscancer on Twitter (link from Twitter's search).

Hundreds of people (most of whom I've never heard of) are chiming in and doing just that as I write this. (The tweets appear on the website).

I chatted briefly with Drew this morning on GChat and asked .... "Is there a sponsor yet?". Drew, (incredibly upbeat and extremely grateful for the outpouring of support) replied "Not yet but I've had a few inquiries. Right now, we're trying to get a counter on the website".

Check out the website. Then go over to Twitter and blame Drew's cancer for something.

Can Twitter help cure cancer? There's only one way to find out.

Update: Google is all over this :

Update 2: Here's the feed from Topsy
Update 3 June 5, 2009 8 AM ET: Some prominent websites join the cause (from TechMeMe):
Update 4: June 7, 2009 9 AM ET: A new twitter address has been set up for updates etc at @drewscancer .

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Google adds more Free SEO content

In recent weeks, Google has been ramping up free SEO video content on the Google Webmaster Central Channel on YouTube.

Uploading new videos as often as three times a week, the channel is quickly becoming a large repository of Google's current (and past) views on Search Engine Optimization.

Many of the videos feature Matt Cutts who (modestly) refers to himself as the 'head of Google's Webspam team' but factually has become the industry voice for the company on SEO-related and other issues.

Many of Cutts' presentations at conferences and internally can now be found on the growing YouTube channel.  You'll find a few other Googlers there as well along with a behind the scenes look at Google Webmaster Central.

Google Webmaster Central was originally started by ex-Googler Vanessa Fox whose opinion and commentary can now be found on Danny Sullivan's Search Engine Land, another excellent resource for those who are new to the ever-growing online marketing landscape.

While I've never advocated 'do it yourself' SEO, the information on the slowly growing YouTube channel certainly can serve to see if your local SEO company is up-to-date with the latest advice and tips coming from Mountainview.

Correction 6/3/2009 PM: Google Webmaster Central was renamed Google Webmaster Tools last month.  The new logo look for Webmaster tools is below:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

WolframAlpha - Live Webcast Thursday

It was just a couple of weeks ago that the new 'computational knowledge engine', WolframAlpha was load-testing and providing previews to an anxious Internet search audience. 

The buzz was beyond high as WolframAlpha went live to mixed reviews.

Since that time, most became aware that the search product had very little to do with Internet indexing but instead, was very specific in nature, providing information on Mathematics, Engineering, Dates & Times, Physics, Money and Finance, Units and Measures, Chemistry, Geography and other targeted spaces.

In fact, in many of these areas, WolframAlpha has already exceeded the expectations of those working in the fields that would utilize this type of web-based product.

Since that time, WolfRamAlpha has started to monetize with 'featured sponsors' ads beginning to appear on many result pages.  (A few that have been noted recently are Scottrade and Lenovo).

Google apparently is liking the search product as well raising their Page Rank to 7 in last week's PR update.  (That's pretty hefty for a start-up ! :)

WolframAlpha is alive and well.  The team is busy sifting through tens of thousands of comments, questions and suggestions, many of which have been sent via Twitter.

In response to these questions from a growing community, Stephen Wolfram will be holding a live webcast on justin.tv this Thursday, June 4 at 4 PM US CDT .

Have a question you'd like to be considered for the webcast?  Just post it to the comments on the announcement blog post here.

Windows 7 set to launch before holidays

CNet's Ina Fried is reporting general availability of Windows 7 Final before the holidays.  Over on  Microsoft's Channel 10, Sarah Perez is confirming a release to manufacturing (RTM) target date of the last two weeks of July followed by general availability on October 22nd.

This doesn't come as too much of a surprise to those of us that have been using the beta release, followed by the RC.  The operating system is simply a huge improvement in many ways over Vista and is much more configurable.

Recent updates / add-ons and driver releases (as well as 31+ new language packs) just keep adding the to appeal (and ease of use). 

In my own personal tests, the native Windows 7 RC operating system runs Firefox, IE8, Chrome and almost all of my XP programs flawlessly, without having to turn on the XP virtualization add-on.

From networking with others, I can say fairly certainly that if you're using a recent PC (IE: Last two years), it's a pretty good bet that the Windows 7 will find your drivers (unlike early versions of Vista), make backing-up easier than ever ... and much more.

So once again we have Microsoft 'firing on all cylinders'.  First Bing, then the Xbox announcement and now Windows 7 just months away.

Despite others' predictions, my own take is that pent up demand by both individuals and industry along with the lowest prices of good PC's in years will bring Windows 7 out-of-the-box quickly.  Once IT guys (and gals :) get their hands on it, as well as some of the tools already available on TechNet, they're going to realize that their productivity will go up dramatically as they no longer have to write scripts or go to the command line to get things done, and, Windows 7 is MUCH more self-repairing than any previous Microsoft operating system.

Of all the announcements from Redmond this week, this is the one to be watching.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Microsoft's Bing goes live in preview (Update 2)

The buzz last week and building overnight (on Twitter) was that Microsoft's new search product, Bing, was going live early.

This morning, users of Live.com as well as MSN search got a little surprise ... two days early.

Prior to an upcoming multi media advertising blitz valued at 80-100 million dollars, Bing is now live in most time zones in 'preview mode'.

Bing Travel, born out of Microsoft's Farecast acquisition, is also now live as well as other new members of the 'Bing family', not exclusive of Bing Cashback.

The Bing preview video (using Silverlight) had been up for the past three days.  Search experts and those just wondering how Bing will effect the search landscape can now test the product without invitation and, no doubt, we'll see a few thousand articles posted throughout the day.

Bing is being promoted not as a 'Internet Search Engine' but as a decision making product.  Users with specific questions will be able, if all goes well for Microsoft, to type in a question or phrase and receive some relevant links in return.

With a few memories of 'Ask Jeeves' or maybe Yahoo Answers ... Bing is here.

Update 1: Mouse over the below on Bing (to the right of the result) and you'll see contents of
our last blog post .... pretty cool.

Update 2:  The Bing Community is also now active and getting busy along with a forum for feedback and questions.  A few blogs within the community: Bing Maps, Bing Travel, Bing Developer, and the new Webmaster Community in Bing.

Edited 11:46 AM ET 6/1/2009