Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bing Celebrates 1 Year

Microsoft Advertising has launched a special interactive page to celebrate the 1 year milestone of Microsoft's re-branded search engine .... Bing.

You won't be able to see it on your iPad.

The page isn't written in HTML5 or Silverlight. 

You guessed it.

The anniversary page is rendered in Adobe Flash  .....

.... and can be found here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Microsoft Betting More on SkyDrive Brand

Microsoft has been leveraging their SkyDrive brand more often lately.

The recently announced free cloud based version of Microsoft Office 2010 is located within SkyDrive.

Those who downloaded the new Live Essentials beta last week not only noticed Office 2010 - like 'ribbons' and a significantly improved suite of free add-ons to Windows 7, but also may have noticed interaction with SkyDrive.

Now, Microsoft's Office Live Workspace is becoming part of Windows Live SkyDrive.

Some information on the Office Live Workspace upgrade is now available here.

Firefox 3.6.6 Unleashed - Tweaks Crash Protection

It's been less than a week since Mozilla announced the latest stable version of Firefox (Version 3.6.4).

Late yesterday, they did it again .... jumping the latest build to version 3.6.6.

This week's Firefox was primarily introduced to stop the browser from occasionally crashing (particularly of Mac - based systems) by providing crash protection from some plug-ins.

Today's upgrade .... available here ... tweaks that feature allowing a bit more time for the plug in to load before disabling it.

The Firefox web browser has long been a favorite among the blogging and tech crowd because of the availability of thousands of extensions (and plug-ins).  This latest release addresses concerns by some that have experienced ongoing crashing with specific plug-ins ..... and works with Windows, OS X and Linux.

Mozilla has also been updating their Firefox Developer Preview (currently 3.7 build 5) which is not only fast, but embraces the Google promoted Web-M video standard.  It's an open early build which can be found here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quora Opens to the Public - Early

Due to launch tomorrow, Quora has already opened to the public.

The start up, funded by Benchmark Capital and located in Palo Alto, came out of limited beta a short time ago.

What is Quora?

The Wall Street Journal has a good piece on Quora here and Marshall Kirkpatrick appears to have broken to early launch story at ReadWriteWeb here.

For now, early adopters have a shiny new toy.

Will it gain traction?

From what I've seen so far, the answer could be YES.

Hopefully a full review later this week but Quora has (so far) captured my imagination.  It's a unique and interesting approach and has 'some' fascinating activity.

You can follow me on Quora here.

BTW - They're hiring.


Are You Using the New or Old Google Docs?

Google recently upgraded Google Docs with a variety of new features including new keyboard shortcuts, offline access, HTML editing, and CSS editing.

I use Google Docs fairly often. The template gallery is nothing less than incredible (and money-saving in many ways). I also maintain at least 5 legacy accounts that I intend on using more often later this year.

This morning, I opened a doc from one of those accounts.  Nothing looked new?

According to the Google Docs info page, the new version should be the default:

In my case, it was the opposite. The new version was not activated ... but easily taken care of.

So far I haven't found any downside to the newer version but you might want to check and see which one you're using. The HTML editing and shortcuts, at least for me, are a win.

PS: You might also want to check out the recently released Collaborative Drawing Editor while you're there as well as the new Google Docs sharing features announced this past Friday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Simple Ideas - Another News Site Chimes In

Back in April, I wrote about a simple idea that the NY Times had implemented to keep you on-site.

Now, it's Reuters with a non-invasive way to keep you coming back.

Simply mouse over any headline on the front page and you can save the article for later reading.  More importantly, you can do it without logging in.

Of course, if you're in the habit of clearing cookies, you'll probably wipe these out but I seriously doubt most web users do (otherwise most affiliate programs simply wouldn't work).

It's little ideas like this, that don't invade the user experience but add value, that have the potential to make or break some online publications as time goes on.

You can check it out and see what you think at Reuters.com here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Twitter Launches Their Own World Cup Pages

After some serious service disruptions, Twitter seems not only to be back up and running but has launched their own World Cup coverage,  powered by ... you guessed it ... tweets.

Using the arrows from the home page you can go match by match and see what fans worldwide are posting to the popular micro-blogging service.

You can check out your favorite teams and what others are saying in real-time at the Twitter World Cup home page here.

Yahoo! Ramps Up TV Move with New Sony Deal

In what is still a virgin market, more than a few companies are targeting software and hardware to bring the Internet (and more) into your living room .... and on to your TV.

MG Siegler writes about Google's new TV initiative at TechCrunch here. The video clears up a lot of questions about Google's intentions. The TechCrunch piece also mentions Apple TV and Microsoft's Xbox 360.

There are (a lot) of other players.

Microsoft has built-in (free to registered users) the new Windows Media Center in Windows 7 and while it doesn't have the content of say, Apple's iTunes, it does offer the functionality to stream video, record, search and port to almost any TV assuming your PC has the system resources and ports. It also comes pre-loaded with Netflix and a variety of 'channels' which continue to grow (and be automatically updated).

Yahoo! entered this market last year with the Yahoo! TV widget and deals with numerous TV manufacturers to build-in Yahoo! content. Last night, the company went a step further entering into a worldwide agreement with Sony that will bring their product to over 100 countries or, as their blog post says, increasing the availability of Yahoo! on your TV by seven-fold.

It's a pretty safe bet that most people 'connecting' their TV's today are using an Xbox or simply porting video and audio from PCs and watching Hulu or one of the multitude of other emerging TV programming online aggregators. CBS continues an online push with TV.com, and of course, the TV networks themselves are already streaming. Google's YouTube is there as well with increased HD content.

Comcast, barring regulatory issues, will most likely soon own NBC Universal. The company has already launched several TV-related Internet portals.

A 30 billion dollar merger currently under heavy scrutiny by the FCC.

Sound confusing?

Think about this.

Advertising buyers are already having a tough time deciding where to place their 'recession-limited' ad dollars.

That's all going to change .... and it could happen a lot sooner than most anticipate.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Google Caffeine Update Adds Right Click

Last week, Google announced that their new hyper indexing system was live across all data centers.

Dubbed Google Caffeine, a variety of changes were made.

While doing a vanity search this morning, I noticed that not only 'freshness' (last update) is displayed in the main index search results .... but a right click on your mouse drops down more information.

In this case, 'Get more results from the past 24 hours'.

Talk about speed ?  Wow!

Update: The right click functionality seems to have 'turned off' in the past hour ... however the index is still running at an incredible speed.  Will the feature come back?  We'll see :)

The New Hotmail Takes a Lesson From Facebook (Update)

Microsoft's Live Wave 4 (and the new Hotmail) began it's roll-out in numerous countries this morning.

Apparently, Microsoft has picked up on an important lesson from the recent Facebook debacle.

Logging on briefly this morning, I was greeted with this:
Yes, it was right there .... before I could get much further.

While some new set-up cues might be considered a little confusing ... for the most part, you don't need instructions (or a lot of time) to set up the new MSN, LIVE, or HOTMAIL account you are about to get.

Keep in mind if you haven't visited your old inbox lately that Windows Live incorporates numerous social networks and you want to set those settings carefully and/or to your liking.

More on what's going to appear today in 'Wave 4' can be found here on Liveside.net where they've been watching this build and roll-out closely.

Update:  More information has now been posted to the Windows blog here.

Well This Is New - Bing Background Advertising

Those visiting the website of News Corp's NY Post this morning got a glimpse of unusual, or at least new, web advertising.

While in the traditional days of journalism, the front and back page of a newspaper or magazine were typically the most expensive to advertise on, this morning, Microsoft's Bing search engine bought .... the background.

To the dismay of many, the Post still uses pop-up ads but most are now blocked by modern web browser pop-up blockers.

This somewhat unconventional approach not only is 'above the fold' but actually makes the Post look better :)

Bing ads are also found throughout today's morning edition but there's a new and useful twist here, that may just help news and other sites monetize effectively.

Assuming it's still up when you read this, you can check it out here.

New Social Search for Bing - More Real-Time Indexing

Bing has launched a new Social Search product according to Sarah Perez writing earlier today for Microsoft's Channel 10.

A little history.

Almost exactly 1 year ago, we implied that Microsoft had stuck an early deal with Facebook to include more of their content in 'Bing'.  (It's no secret that Microsoft also holds a small financial interest in Facebook).

The results on Bing seemed, at that time, to return more in depth content from Facebook than Google, or for that matter ... anyone else.

Enter 2010. 'Real-Time' gets noticed in a big way.  Twitter licenses their 'firehose' to a variety of companies including both Google and Microsoft's Bing.  Facebook, makes numerous changes to 'open' their data (or yours, depending on how you looked at it).

Then came the whole Facebook privacy explosion, with numerous changes to Facebook that were met with opposition by many, and culminated with a 'Disconnect from Facebook' day last month.  A day which predictably was NOT successful with just a small percentage of users disengaging from the social network.

If you're not familiar with the drama ... you can read back some of it ... here, here, here and here.

Essentially, Bing has expanded their previously launched Twitter trend product (which looks very much like TwitScoop?!) to include public Facebook information.

As for No.1 search competitor Google, if you haven't noticed it yet, they too are hyper-indexing social networks. As part of last month's left column redesign, searching for something then going to 'updates' will return results from Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, MySpace and yes, Google Buzz:

The real-time wave continues.  In reality, it's all pretty amazing to watch.

Note: Bing Social actually went live on June 9th when it was announced at SMX Advanced in a 'keynote chat' featuring Bing Vice President Yusef Mehdi on stage with Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Google Chrome Extensions - Another Marketing Channel?

Google's Chrome Web Browser has been slowly gaining market share since it's introduction.

The lightweight and highly compatible browser is best known for it's speed, which has recently been improved ... in most cases still commanding a (speed) lead over the recently released new version of Apple's Safari, Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Developers have flocked to the API and the 'Extension' gallery is growing exponentially.

A couple of days ago, I noticed the Huffington Post pushing their 'own' Chrome extension.

This is what it looked like tonight.  Instant audience if you push the install button?! (Click to enlarge):

Carefully grouped with other social and micro-blogging platforms, they realize the very simple premise that every and any new channel could bring a new audience and most can be implemented without taking away from your content (or ads).

Apparently Google has noticed too.  I revisited the extension Gallery a short time ago after reading this Buzz post by Googler Matt Cutts. HuffPo is the featured extension (with almost 19,000 users already) :

The simple advantage of 'early adoption' is the head start.  Anyone that used Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, or many other social environments in the very early stages can probably tell you some great networking  stories.  You're more visible when the community is still relatively small.

I re-wrote this post a bit before I posted it after reading Robert Scoble's post on Google Buzz.

While Buzz still has a way to go, it's still a 'relatively' small community.  You can have fun ... network ... etc ... It's up to you .... but chances are ...You will be noticed and engaged, especially if you integrate the Google Reader sharing feature (which now not only appears at the right here but in my Buzz as well).

It just makes sense.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Twitter, Earthquakes and Its Different Now (Update)

One of the things Twitter became famous for as it became clear the micro-blogging service would be around for some time was announcing and verifying first hand accounts of earthquakes.

Visiting late Saturday (Eastern Time US), I noticed the TwitScoop box (lower right) with the now infamous Twitter trend appearing once again.  One click .. it was pretty clear ... we had an earthquake ... somewhere :

Considering the increase in activity in Twitter over the past year and the 'size' of this ongoing trend, I decided to bypass the tweets and go directly to the USGS site for more info.

Why was the trend so large, as confirmed on the Twitter front page .... and for so long?

My suspicions were confirmed.

It wasn't just California that was shakin' today.  In fact, there were more than a few that ranged into the 'tweet level' :

I suppose the next step is if you're going to help by tweeting an earthquake, either turn on your location in Twitter (in most cases Twitter will find you ... if you let them) OR simply Tweet your location.

Twitter can be an actual lifesaver during real-time events but we need to adapt as the times continue to rapidly change.

Update: Apparently we can expect 'Earthquake' to continue trending tonight:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yikes! Google Defaults to Picture Background

As reported here on Friday, Google made it easy to put a photo (or your own) as a background on the main Google search page.

Just after midnight tonight, visitors (at least year on the east coast of the US) saw this 'Google' :

Update: June 10, 2010 7 AM ET - Apparently, a few people noticed :) ...

Update 2 - June 6, 2010 8 PM ET: TechCrunch is reporting that the 'experiment' was cut short early as confirmed by a post to the Official Google Blog.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Windows Update Tuesday - This One Is Big (Updated)

A short time ago, Microsoft released a rather large set of updates in this latest round of Tuesday security and other fixes and changes.

While most boxes aren't seeing them yet, IT people and others may want to get this batch done.
Why? It's a significant update ..... and may be slow.

In most parts of the country (here in the US) you can manually go to Windows Update and get it done now.

The Windows 7 updates (totaling 9 on numerous Windows 7 boxes here) were faster than the older XP3 boxes (which ranged from 12-16). Some had to be rebooted twice.  Hint:  Do the optional updates after - if you need them.

Overall, it wasn't the size of the downloads.  The .Net framework updates (and others) went right to the 'core'  requiring a restart .... even by Windows 7 users.

On the two (older) Windows XP3 boxes here, the updates took 20-30 minutes to install (after the download).

Today's updates were anticipated and mostly deal with security.

If your system is set to auto-update, it's a pretty safe bet it will slow down a bit during the process, depending, of course, on your system resources.

Just a heads up.

If you allow Windows 7 to automatically update this time ... be prepared to see one of these :

Monday, June 7, 2010

What Did Apple Do Today?

Apple's WWDC keynote was delivered by Steve Jobs on Monday and among other things introduced the latest iPhone (4).  Numerous articles and reviews have already been written, many of which can be found on Gabe Rivera's Techmeme technology news aggregator  here.

Edit: Link updated June 8, 2010 4:45 AM ET

Hello Google Apps - Microsoft Office 2010 Goes Live on SkyDrive

The war between Microsoft and Google went into high gear thse past few months and continued today with the announcement that Office 2010 apps were now live (and free) in the US, UK, Canada and Ireland on Microsoft's Live SkyDrive.

More on the just published post to the Windows blog here

Google Cloud Print - Print from anything to anywhere (Video)

Imagine printing from your phone to a printer in your office ... or  ... ugh .... to anywhere .... on any platform.

Imagine printing from your Windows Desktop to someone elses network half-way around the world .. running Linux or OS X.

Imagine Google Cloud Print.

Any printer will ultimately work but specific printers are being developed including a full line of 'cloud aware' printers from HP announced today.

Google has been making significant progress and two Googlers joined H-P in the announcement today (video below).

Watch live streaming video from hpkickoff at livestream.com

More documentation can be found here and today's update can be found on the Chromium Blog here.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wibiya Teams With Kehalim to Offer Affiliate Ads - Instantly

In what could be their latest stroke of brilliance, Israeli start-up Wibiya has integrated Kehalim's cooperative affiliate marketing program into the popular blog and website tool bar.

Brief background.  I started using the Wibiya toolbar here when it first launched.  The response was instantaneous.  "Nice toolbar" ... even a tweet from Microsoft.

Microsoft later gave Wibiya a BizSpark award.

The company launched with a simple premise.  Help bloggers and webmasters reduce real estate while offering a variety of social and other options in a very non-invasive toolbar.

I loved the Twitter integration.  Since then Wibiya has added Google Buzz, Friendfeed and more.

It's time for the bucks?

Kehalim is a contextual and semantic affiliate marketing network partnered with many (if not most) of the major affiliate programs already in existence.  Google Affiliate, Commission Junction, LinkShare, Amazon, and many others are onboard.

Monetization - The new 'partnership' just makes it too easy and the Wibiya bar has already transcended many industries.  Factually, it's in use by some VERY high volume websites and growing in popularity.

This blog was never really intended to be monetized.  The Adsense ads at right have been turned on and off many times over the years simply as an experiment.  As part of this post, I have enabled the Kehalim / Wibiya feature as well so we can all see how it looks (and if it delivers?).

The 'magic' to Kehalim is that it makes it turnkey for bloggers to tap in to numerous affiliate programs simply and easily.  They've been at it for some time but the 'Express Ads' feature that launched in February was significant.  This parternership could literally take BOTH start-ups over the top .... (Just my humble opinion :)

So ... before Apple's WWDC no doubt takes over the tech headlines for a few days ... be sure and check this out!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Google Now Comes In Your Favorite Flavors !

Over the past few months, some subtle changes have been main to the main Google Search page, most notably a flattening of the Google logo and font size changes.

The page remained plain, simple and easy-to-use.

Assuming you're not using a personalized version (ala Firefox, private branded portals, or numerous Linux builds), you're greeted with a simple logo and search bar.  Google's 'universal search' fades in at the top.

When Microsoft launched their re-vamped search engine Bing, one of the default features was a new photo each day in the background.  The photos were later ported as downloadable collections for use as background slideshows in Windows 7.

Google remained plain old vanilla (unless you customized with iGoogle) ... until this past week.

Yes you can now 'skin' your Google ... or .. ugh .... put a high resolution photo in the background of the Google home page.

Of course, you need to create a Google account if you don't already have one ... and log-in.  (For you non-techies, a Google account is free.  Perhaps obviously, Gmail accounts are Google accounts and will work fine).

You can pick your pic for google.com here.

Instructions for adding your own photos, editors picks and more can be found here.

Update:  The original launch announcement was made by Google VP Marissa Mayer on the Official Google Blog on Wednesday with a request to tweet a clip of yours with the hashtag #myGooglepage ...

(I'm thinking I may Buzz mine :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Facebook Finally Puts It In Your Face

I've written (more times than I care to think about?) that this whole Facebook privacy saga wasn't being followed by too many people.

Despite the fact that the last chapter made it (briefly) to the mainstream media, it was pretty much just us (those that follow tech and/or marketing and media stuff) that were paying attention.

The 'Leave Facebook Day' was a huge FAIL and I think it's safe to say most of 'us' predicted that as well.

My big issue with the whole deal, written here and elsewhere, was that Facebook themselves had the vehicle to bring the latest privacy changes to their users.

I was just helping someone change their privacy settings.  It appears that Facebook just woke up?? (Yeah?)

At the top of the page, I found this:

The 'learn more' link actually goes to a VERY straightforward and simple page on how to reset the new Facebook privacy changes.  Better yet, the page is public.

Long overdue.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

OK - Twitter Marketing Just Worked on Me ?!

Sometimes I suppose we just get jaded.  I can't count how many times something was retweeted or someone new followed me over the years on Twitter and I didn't bother or have time to completely check out who (or what) it was.

Going through a pile of e-mail tonight, I noticed this:

My initial reaction was 'Jinni' ?  Oh good, another person marketing something I'm really not interested in.  Spammer??  I took notice of the followers and tweets and decided to follow the trail.

In these days of information overload, it's literally impossible for any of us to read every article, follow every start-up or discover every cool website. 

This time, it was Twitter that delivered the juice.

Apparently 'Jinni' has already been covered numerous times by a variety of tech publications.  For one reason or other, I missed them all.

Re-tweeting may not be the 'only' Twitter currency in town.  Just following someone 'could' buy you a little unsolicited press?!

I just spent about fifteen minutes with Jinni (Dot Com).  If you're a movie or TV buff ... whether or not you're downloading from iTunes. NetFlix, Amazon or watching Hulu (or following Google TV developments),  you have to check this out.

This intuitive search engine is absolutely amazing (When was the last time I said that?!).

Jinni.com can be found here ....

..... plan to hang out for a while :)

BP Turns to Social Media to Deliver Their Message

The 3-day Memorial Day weekend here in the United States was considered crucial by many for 'some' progress to moderate the anger and frustration of Gulf Coast residents and businesses (and many others worldwide) that is continuing to build over the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Platform which killed 11 workers and continues to spill oil into the sea.

Political leaders and media outlets also 'crossed lines' with CNN continuing live 'Breaking News' coverage and personalities such as long-time democratic strategist (and CNN political contributor) James Carville delivering numerous interviews lambasting the Obama administation for their handling of what has been called the 'worst environmental disaster in America's history'.

The Huffington Post is all over it as well with a dedicated page.

Earlier today, rival cable new networks CNN and Fox News both delivered reports (with similar stories published Sunday by The New York Times and BusinessWeek) that BP and the US Minerals Management Service knew as early as March of this year that there were serious problems growing at the drilling site. 

For BP, it has been an ongoing public relations nightmare.  Hundreds of news outlets broadcast the live underwater camera that actually started on BP's own website.

As it became clearer that the latest effort would not be completed by Tuesday, BP revamped it's corporate website to default, at least here in the US, to ongoing coverage of the spill.  New local pages were added as well.

BP's social media team is now ramping up in a big way with streams, information, photos and video on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube.

The Internet is telling this story. No doubt the largest Internet public outcry since the Iran protests took to Twitter last year.

This year ... the news is coming from right here.