Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tracking Santa .. with Google Earth (and more)

The announcement was made on the Google PR Blog a short time ago ... and then cross-posted to the Official Google Blog.

Google has taken a long-time Internet tradition and enhanced it ... just in time for Christmas.

NORAD has been tracking Santa on the Internet for over a decade. For many, it has become an online tradition. Links to the Official Santa Government Website have been increasing exponentially each year.

Google has just made Santa a little cooler (if that's possible?!), adding a plug in for Google Earth, Santa on your cellphone, and more.

Have some fun with the kids over the next day or two (or become one again yourself?).

Details and links are here (with a little Google Video below).

From our family to yours .... Happy Holidays to all!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Firefox moves to version 3.5.6

A short time ago, Mozilla's Firefox browser moved to version 3.5.6 adding more security and stability updates.

If you use Firefox and haven't been automatically updated, simply tap the 'Help' tab at the top and click 'Check for Updates'.

The latest version has already been posted in over 70 languages and for the Mac OS X, Windows and Linux platforms.

In other Firefox news, Mozilla continues work on Firefox 3.6 (code named Namoroka) with (test) nightly builds, some of which have been pretty impressive, and currently at Beta 6 Preview. (Note: Mozilla has also been busy with a 3.7 Alpha version in their nightly builds .....)

Yesterday, in a stunning development in the never-ending web browser wars, ZDNet and others reported that Google's Chrome Browser had ousted Apple's Safari for the No. 3 position behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer and  Firefox.  Google recently added extensions and other updates to the developer level version of it's relatively new browser offering ... and, of course, you can always give Chrome for the holidays ... :)

Google's Blogger adds Amazon (Updated)

Blogger in Draft has been rolling out features relatively quietly over the past few months including easy embedding of videos, inline translation, and more.

Many bloggers use the build-in  interface to display Google's Adsense ads on their pages (and in their RSS feeds).

Apparently, Google has cut a deal with Amazon, as the Blogger log-in page now offers Amazon as an alternate and / or additional way to monetize a Blogger-hosted blog.  Just enter your Amazon Associates ID and you're set to go.

Amazon introduced one of the very first affiliate programs on the Internet.  Now there are thousands of affiliate programs and networks, not only from individual companies but from 'networks' such as those from Federated Media, Commission Junction, the PepperJam Network and others.

With hundreds of thousands of Blogger-powered blogs now online, this 'shortcut' of sorts, directly to Amazon (IE: Without needing to know code or JavaScript) could be a substantial hit for the online retailer in the coming months.

Whether or not there is some sort of revenue sharing between Google and Amazon was not clear as of this post. 

What is clear is that Google continues to grow Blogger as an alternative to WordPress and other popular blogging platforms.

Update 1 - Dec 16, 2009 10 PM ET:  A Press Release was issued today at 6 PM ET by Google and Amazon (via BusinessWire) and a new joint Google / Amazon Associates page has now been launched as well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ahearn 1 - Murdoch 0. The Future of Journalism

It was about a year and a half ago that I humbly declared that News Corp and Rupert Murdoch were doing all the right things on the 'Net, going to the extent of calling Murdoch a genius.

At the time, it may very well have been true but statements made throughout this year have changed the tide.

Murdoch has talked about outright blocking Google.  He's also talked a lot, along with a few others on micropayments, or paying for content on demand per article.

Some publications have been doing this for some time alongside News Corp's Wall Street Journal.  Long Island's Newsday and others have fielded the possibility.

Micropayments won't work.  They won't and can't generate the revenue needed to sustain the expenses (and payrolls) of news organizations.

For some reason, everyone's blaming Google.  While Google is increasing it's market share in search and trying a host of news delivery systems, there are numerous other ways to read the news on the Internet, whether it's local (the biggest challenge), regional or international ... and it's been that way since before Google was 'born'.

Enter Reuters' Chris Ahearn.  Like a true visionary, Ahearn is just excited and according to a brief speech at the FTC's Workshop on how the Internet has effected journalism, Ahearn declared the complete opposite of his competitors "I believe and support the value of the link economy".

While ad agencies are having a tough time deciding where and which media are best for clients despite tools such Google's Ad Planner, it's all part of the transition.

While citizen journalism may be difficult to filter, CNN has an assigned desk (for Twitter) ... and just this week Google embraced real-time from a variety of sources.

(Google's move may have been premature.  Not only did it remove some valuable landscape from the much coveted SERPs (Search Engine Relative Positions) but is also going to be VERY difficult to filter for relevant results).

Murdoch declared last week that 'the traditional ad model is dead'.  Assuming that may be true, what about a non-traditional ad model?

Embracing syndication (as Reuters did several years ago).  Embracing re-distribution ... maybe even promoting it, and, embracing the aggregators instead of blaming declining circulation on them.

Ahearn's  speech, as posted yesterday to can be found here.

See what you think.

Good weekend all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah (and I couldn't resist ?!)

Just a brief post to my friends around the world for a blessed and Happy Chanukah ...

(Address for the 8 gifts will follow :)

Be Healthy, Happy and Enjoy!

Here's a little (dated but still great) message from Adam Sandler.

I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

VEVO goes live in the US. Will it be a hit?

It was set to go live (on the Internet) after a huge launch party in New York City last night featuring Bono, Mariah Carey, Lada Gaga and numerous other big name recording artists speaking and performing.

In reality, most visiting the 'next generation music video site' either couldn't reach it, or were redirected to the company blog.

This morning, most that I spoke with briefly here in the US could now access VEVO here .... and it has now been officially indexed by Google as well:

Makes sense.  VEVO is using Google's YouTube technology to deliver music and music videos from a long list of participating labels including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Hollywood Records, Walt Disney Records, CBS Interactive Music Group, Big Machine Records, Concord Music Group, Lyric Street Records, ABKCO, Caroline Distribution, Fontana Distribution, INgrooves, IODA, RED and The Orchard, and more.

Videos are also being cross-posted to YouTube, with channels for each artist and the new VEVO logo appearing embedded in the videos. 

No surprise that among the honored guests at the launch part was Google's CEO Eric Schmidt.

Hulu revenge?  Maybe.

It's been an interesting month for music on the web.  Google announced their 'music search' which works extremely well and often delivers results from Lala .... which, it was revealed last week, is being acquired by Apple.

All of this may be a defining turn for an industry that has been badly hurt by illegal downloads and counterfeit media.

The VEVO launch library (first noticed on YouTube late last night) is very limited.  This could be the key to keeping the buzz alive for VEVO.  A local client for slower speed connections might not be a bad idea either.

Regardless, another 'publishing industry' just took a big turn.

Will it be a hit?

We'll see.

Monday, December 7, 2009

FedEx welcomes Google Real Time Search. Tiger Woods .. Not so much.

This is 2009. A year that very simply is redefining the Internet, both for regular and casual users.  A year where the word 'journalist' is changing at hyperspeed, and a year, where a 'ping' can now be heard around the world, in nanoseconds.

Google has made no secret of their need to embrace the latest trend in search. Numerous Google executives had noted the rise in popularity and importance of real-time search over the past few months.

Real-time search was already being delivered to the Internet by Twitter, Friendfeed, and most recently Friendfeed's new parent company, yes Facebook.

As I write this, Google Real-Time Search is already LIVE here in the US.  A visit to Google Trends, and then to the new Hot Topics column and you might see something like this screen shot taken a short time ago:

Clicking on any of the hot topics displays a 'classic' Google search page with a brand new embedded and scrolling real-time display with current, up to the minute results from a variety of sources including Twitter, Friendfeed,, Jaiku, and Facebook ..... while integrating associated news headlines within those results.

Needless to say, there are huge implications for all of the included services as well ...

I would guess that there are a few people at Google watching right now to see if their own news today from the GooglePlex tops 'Hot Topics', and then, of course, to watch the results stream in ....

..... in real-time.

Other views:
Google's Matt Cutts live blogged the presentation on his personal blog this morning here.  The Official Google Blog announcement can be found here.  Kara Swisher's report for WSJ's AllThingsDigital is here and Danny Sullivan wraps things up for Search Engine Land here.

Update: An interesting take on Googling Facebook from ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick has been posted here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Google - Search in other languages ... easily!

The World Wide Web just got a little 'worldlier' with an announcement from Google a short time ago.

While still somewhat (and admittedly) experimental and needing some fine tuning, Google is rolling out a global translate service for their main search index over the next 24 hours.

Pretty cool stuff.

Example: If you're in Spain, and you don't speak Spanish, Google will now automatically translate your query (at your request) so that you can not only see the 'English' version results (for us Americans) but the Spanish returns for your query, which typically would be different.

If all of this works, it could be one of the most significant announcements Google has made in some time. "Search in 51 languages and display up to 5 at a time".


While it's still possible to access or , or any number of the localized country versions of Google from here in the US, I seriously doubt many do ... and for that matter ... there's a good chance those results are different as well.

We've been using Google Translate here on SEO and Tech Daily since it's introduction (for turn-key insertion in blogs). It's simply a given that it broadens your audience.

Now Google is introducing that technology directly to the Google search page.

A more in-depth explanation of the feature can be found on the Official Google Blog here.

Although a rather subtle start, there are global communications implications to this change and I, for one, am anxious to see how it all works.

Caio ... :)


Update 2 - Dec 3 8:47 PM ET

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Your Facebook is about to change ... again.

Facebook has been making lots of changes and not everyone is happy.

Over the next few weeks, they're doing it again.  This time you should be ready.

Late last night, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg blogged about the upcoming changes. The news traveled like lightning across the Internet.  I even re-tweeted it .... because it's significant.

In these much different (and much faster) times, in less than 10 minutes, Zuckerberg's post was No. 1 on the Technology aggregator TechMeMe and as of this writing, it still is.

If you talk to the average Facebook user (I'm not sure exactly what that is but you should be able to find one ...).  Ask them if they've read the 'Terms of Service'.

Let me make this easy.

Unless they're a journalist, they didn't.

The users I've spoken with like Facebook and/or it use it for a variety of reasons from staying in touch with family to promoting a product or idea, and yes, some just get on and play Farmville... It's an all encompassing platform.

Many have just figured out that to get the latest posts in their  'News Feed' they need to switch the view at the top.  The Friendfeed-like feed (most popular to the top) is now the default.

At least for now.

With Bret Taylor now heading the platform team, I expect that some of that is about to change but people don't like change ....... even though it may be a change for the better.

It's no secret that schools, employers and others may visit your Facebook page.  There have been a LOT of articles aimed at those who need to, or should be, concerned about that.

How many times have you let in a 'Friend' that you don't know.  The permissions are now out the window.  That person can now see you, and, there are actually companies hired to see what you're saying.

Regardless of where you have your permissions set, Facebook is about to change all that.  There were no specifics but my guess is a 'block' feature, maybe even 'delete' is among the group of changes being rolled out soon.

According to Zuckerberg, there are now 350 MILLION Facebook users worldwide.  Pretty incredible.

If you're a college professor, aspiring student, lawyer .... ugh .... brain surgeon, maybe you should think about checking out your permissions .... and your 'friends'?

.... and do it again in a few weeks.

You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More watching TV online - Hulu ads near sellout for year!

A look at Google Trends (current in the lower right column) or Twitter trends (TwitScoop at right) on any given weeknight and one thing becomes apparent in the US.  TV drives search in a big way.

That trend continues, and provides an insight into viewing habits as the trends almost always peak as the episodes air live (and gobs of people on the east coast 'take the ending out' for those in the west ... here in the US ?!).

The tech crowd was, no doubt, first viewing TV online and then a younger audience ditching their DVRs but with broadband now reaching more homes in the US and higher speeds enabling HD, an article today in AdAge confirms that Hulu is rocketing to new heights ... and their advertising is almost sold out for the year!

AdAge attributes much of this to the new TV season and the addition of ABC to the Hulu (now massive) line-up.  While that may be true, there's much more going on here.

First, the Hulu desktop app enables you switch to two lower resolutions, making it possible to catch up on   your favorite shows on slower connections.

Second .... Yes, it's Windows 7.

The video drivers on many Windows 7 computers and laptops, particularly Intel drivers (that are being updated often), simply make video on Windows better then ever.

Add the new Windows Media Center in Windows 7 that not only records TV, but also provides online programming from CBS (not on Hulu) and also recently added a huge online library of diverse online programming.

Port from your TV ... to your TV .... and while your at it, NetFlix on demand.  Hmmm.

While all of this has been around in various forms (Apple TV?) for some time, the landscape in now dramatically changing.

More and more PC's will be shipped with Windows 7 and people will slowly change their habits.

I once called the Internet "The World on Your Time".

'TV on Your Time' is here and it will be adopted a lot faster than most pundits are predicting (although if Hulu begins to charge a fee as has been rumored, as opposed to raising ad rates, that could throw a huge wrench into their market share ...)

It's important to note that there are two considerations if you are thinking about TV on your PC this holiday season.

Make sure your new box has 'decent' inputs and outputs for what you plan to do as well as 'reasonable' system resources (IE: At minimum, a dual core processor and 3-4 GB of memory).

Your broadband connection needs to be around 4 Mps for any decent low resolution rendering with current technology.  For HD, you could need as much as 15 or 20.

So what will all of this do to YouTube?

Now that YouTube support 1080p HD, they too will continue to grow with the very distinct possibility of becoming 35 per cent (or higher) of Google's searches.

Will I watch NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles (on cable) in prime time tonight?

Yeah ... probably ......

..... but maybe not next year :)

Links updated 11/24 8 PM ET

Seesmic for Windows Preview Version now available

A short time ago, the new 'Seesmic for Windows' Twitter client (which we previewed here) went through a significant update and the program also came out of 'closed preview' and is now downloadable (in an enhanced  Preview Version) from the Seesmic Website.

What makes it different?

So far, a variety of features mentioned earlier but most notably ... seemless (and excellent) integration with Windows 7 plus support for Twitter lists (as well as multiple accounts). 

You can read about this latest version here or download it and check it out here.

Note: This past week Seesmic also introduced products for Android and Blackberry based cellphones as well as enabling Twitter's 'location awareness' in the Seesmic web-based product.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Money is in Redistribution

While the tech world continues to spin the story that Murdoch (News Corp / Fox) wants to block Google and cut a deal with Bing, this whole deal could be missing the point altogether.

Anyone who follows this blog knows that almost everything I've done here has been some sort of experiment in marketing (while providing a little stuff you may want to know at the same time).

Over the past year, we've seen some dramatic changes in the Internet distribution landscape.  One of those trends is 'shared feeds' like the one I try to update at least daily to the right of this page.

There are others that share with me while others port their 'shares' to Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed and a bunch of other places.  That trend seems to be increasing as those who were worried about creating too much 'noise' on other peoples pages are returning to the sharing vehicle.

You don't really need that 'Fan Page' ?!

For the tech crowd, RSS feeds have become important.  For many, it's the way they get their morning news.

Enter advertising.

It blows my mind when I go to a blog or website and there are 5 or 10 ads all over the page.  In some cases,  you have a hard time even finding the actual content.

The same can be said for feeds.

While I have no problem sharing feeds with one or two ads at the bottom, when they're hyper-stuffed with 5 or ten (or they're HUGE compared to the content), I'm much more likely NOT to share it.

The publishers should (and need to) profit from advertising and at least I have no problem redistributing their ads as long as they keep it within reason and don't make my shared feed look like a huge billboard.

A few weeks ago, I tried a small, non-scientific experiment.

First, after years of having NO advertising here, I put a few subtle AdSense ads in the lower right hand column.  That was about 6 weeks ago.

Considering the fact that I've been blogging a little less, the return was 'reasonable' but certainly not earth shattering as compared to page views.

About 3 weeks ago, I added Google's AdSense to the RSS feed.  No, not 19 ads blaring 'click me' ... just one 'block' at the bottom.

The return was instantaneous and continues.

Is the mainstream missing the point by not having RSS? (Note: Some do but most don't monetize them..).

While the entire universe is embracing Twitter and Facebook, they're missing an important vehicle.

Redistribution, which continues to be assaulted by numerous large organizations, can actually make more money than your home page.  Certainly this isn't universal but considering all the website and blogs looking for YOUR attention, it's important.

Keeping it reasonable (one or two small ads) and keeping ALL the content in the feed, as opposed to a 'teaser' to your blog or website, could be the answer for many .... at least during this chapter.

As the landscape continues to change very quickly, I suppose we'll see.

For now, it's certainly worth a try.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Microsoft Office 2010 Betas now available

As short time ago, Microsoft made it official.

Office 2010 and Sharepoint 2010 betas are both now available to the public.

The news came first today in an article by Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet who, over the years, has very much been in the loop of breaking Microsoft news.

Microsoft appears to be continuing a tradition started with Windows 7 of releasing betas in the general public for evaluation and feedback (and, of course, to help create a buzz).  Prior to Windows 7, most if not all Microsoft test products were evaluated by a smaller group of Microsoft beta testers.

The confirmation process (which I just went through) appears different than in the past, routing you to your exisiting Microsoft profile to determine which product version is right for you and then confirming your email.

There seems to be no shortage of servers for this event and my 684 MB download of Micorsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 is zipping along as I write this blog post.

With Google holding a launch event tomorrow for the much anticipated Chrome OS, Microsoft also got the jump on them by one day with this release.

Will Office 2010 be a HUGE improvement over previous versions?

I'll be sure and share some of those opinions in the shared reader feed (at the right) over the next week or two .... and hopefully have some time to do a review right here as well.

One thing is becoming clear.  Microsoft and Google are looking right at each others territory.

Yes ... the war for your desktop (AND your Internet pageviews) is on. 

Seesmic for Windows previewed at PDC09

It wasn't just new and enhanced Microsoft programs being launched yesterday, the first day of Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference (or PDC09) in Los Angeles.

Loic Le Meur 's team revealed a preview of  'Seesmic for Windows'.  A new version of the popular Twitter client optimized for Windows 7.

I received a copy of the preview bits this morning and did a quick run under Windows 7, and while all the features aren't yet available, the Windows native client seemed much 'lighter' and more responsive than the cross platform version powered by Adobe Air.

Here's a rundown from the Team Seesmic announcement:

"Fully functional with Twitter, we continue to make Seesmic for Windows a simple yet powerful client application:

Manage and posts from multiple twitter accounts
View aggregated Home, Replies, Private and Sent columns.
Create and save searches
View your Twitter lists and create your own groups
Create unlimited columns
Enable choice of multiple image and url shortening services
Manage notification of your messages.

Utilizing the best of what Windows 7 has to offer, Seesmic for Windows provides users managing Twitter the best experience available:
Drag and drop to add user lists
Sleek and Smooth User Interface
Increased performance
Full panel Twitter user profile
Tabbed view of Accounts and Twitter lists"

Facebook support is expected to be added in a few weeks as well.

Not yet in 'general release', you can sign up at the Seesmic website to be among the first to try it when the application is released here.

Excellent coverage of PDC09 is being provided by Microsoft's MSDN Channel 9 here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don Dodge already has a new job

It's becoming more and more apparent that Google totally gets it (and despite numerous significant product announcements this year).... Microsoft is losing touch with a huge portion of their own base.

We live in a time where different groups of users want to be 'in the loop'.

Whether they're developers, system builders, IT professionals or just regular everyday users, people want to put a real face on a company more than ever, and more importantly, be able to communicate with a 'human' to answer questions .... and begin to 'trust' a significant change or new product.

Just before Twitter arrived on the scene, Google's then 'top secret' webmaster contact who made numerous appearances on message boards as 'GoogleGuy' outed himself.  We know him now as Matt Cutts.

Matt now makes regular rounds of trade shows, has numerous videos all over the web explaining how Google works and is (very) closely followed by almost every SEO in the world.

Microsoft has a small army of product evangelists. They're even divided by 'region'. Can you name more than two?

Many are relatively new to the scene.  Some answer e-mails and some don't.

A few I've encountered since falling in love with Windows 7 simply have no clue of who to turn to within the organization for what.  This, at least, has been my experience so far  this past year.

In the meantime, Microsoft is spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting Windows 7.  In networking with a few of my peers, they forgot one thing.  The 'evangelists' of my generation.  The guys that used to get the 'pre-release discs' back in the Windows 2000 era and before ...

I didn't making any 'public noise' after contacting 6 or 7 Microsoft folks about dropping 'the old dog' a few RTMs of Windows 7 and getting no reply?!  ("No" ... with a reason ... would have been OK).

You'd think that after ten years of belonging to just about every Microsoft program there was (on and off) including the somewhat controversial Freedom the Innovate Network,  OEM System Builder program (one of the first), TechNet, MSDN, Connect, Partner etc. etc ... they'd make an exception for a guy that just didn't have time to throw a party?

I basically just wanted to share a few downloads or discs with people in my circle so they could discover what I had in the Release Candidate .... (and wrote about many times here .... and elsewhere).  Maybe they thought I needed a few Christmas presents ? :)

I decided the just buy a family pack (as a few Microsoft employees that DID communicate know).  Ballmer got my $150  (Wow?!) ... but probably lost a bunch of IT demos that could have turned to $$$$$$ because I decided I had spent enough time trying to find the right person in Redmond .... or wherever.

So TechCrunch is reporting tonight that Don Dodge is onboard with Google.  Another familiar face to many of us and one case where I can totally see bypassing the Google hiring process to snag him quickly before someone else did.

It doesn't matter how big a company is.  In fact, it may not matter how great a product is.  In today's market, it's all about the buzz and trust

Dodge, like Cutts (and many others) have that trust from the tech community.

From huge corporations to small business and new entrepreneurs, there's nobody that doesn't prefer 'a contact' or at the very least, someone they can read on the web ... and trust what they're reading.

Google just set another example of their understanding of the landscape, the market and the competition.

I tweeted when Dodge was 'fired' (above) and again yesterday tongue and cheek about Windows 7.

I never expected to go public with these thoughts because I honestly think Microsoft made huge inroads over the past few months, not only with Windows 7 but with Bing, the Yahoo search deal, and more.  I didn't want it to sound like sour grapes .... but the fact is the marketing effort and networking off-line just seems to be a mess.

'Free evangelists' never ask for compensation.  I never did and people currently much more visible than myself talk and blog about products and companies simply because enjoy it.  The FTC now wants to see some disclosure.  I'm confident most will do it when they get NFR's or freebies of significance.

Give the writers and networkers the tools.

Just imagine.  You might save a few million bucks??

Good luck to Don.  I sincerely hope he enjoys his time at Google as much as he seemed to enjoy the years he spent at Microsoft.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Breaking: Verizon FIXES overcharging issue

Yesterday, NY Times' David Pogue took Verizon Wireless to task over miscellaneous charges appearing on his bill .... due to 'hitting the wrong key' and receiving a data charge.

I seriously doubt that anyone that owns a Verizon web-enabled cellphone  would disagree with this. It's a known problem.  I've been told about it by numerous Verizon Wireless employees ...... and it has caused them huge headaches (and lots of calls to customer service).  This, despite employees trained to warn customers when selling the phones as well as demonstrating locking features.

In my case, I took the time to call and have the charges deleted when they occurred.  It was easy and fast but no doubt, an unnecessary call and waste of time.

One of the phones in my family plan, an LG Env Touch (or VX11000), despite a locking touchpad and other security features, still managed to access services I don't use and incur monthly charges.

I phoned Verizon and simply had those services blocked a few months ago.  (Yes, you CAN do that).

A better fix??

A few hours ago, I received a text from Verizon informing of an impending software update. It was the first I had seen in a while and mentioned 'a change in the Verizon Home front page'.  (Verizon sends texts in advance of most software updates because the updates automatically re-boot the phone).

About an hour or so after the text, I heard the phone re-boot.

Of course, curiously got the best of me and I visited the Verizon home mobile page.

It read "For (as little as) $1.95 a day, you can access the WWW .... Click here".

While this is still somewhat misleading (the mobile web on some plans is charged by megabyte), it is a huge improvement over the past when many users simply accessed the home page or Verizon's GPS navigator (which is excellent) and at the end of the month .... received 'the bill surprise'.

While I didn't get much of a chance to network with others today to see if other phones were updated (yet), it's my guess that this will mean more revenue for Verizon and not less. Blocked phones can now use any feature and it's almost impossible to just stumble on them.

Smart move by Verizon.

Now if there was only a Google Voice app .... hmmm.

Clarifications: (1) Blackberry contracts (which automatically get billed the data plan) may differ from the above. (2) Verizon now offers blocking of various services and downloads (as well as specific  e-mail addresses and other features) directly from 'your account' at

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Google's PR machine goes into overdrive (Updated)

I honestly can't remember a time when Google has made the amount of product and service announcements as they have in the past two weeks.  Some were subtle, others very direct.

Regardless, Google has managed to be in the headlines (in a myriad of spaces) almost every day.

The 'Wave' continues ....

For well over two weeks, Google Wave has been 'trending' on Twitter.  

The team has been sending invites to existing users on a fairly regular basis and 'techie curiosity', as always, is running at a fever pitch.  I gave a few away back here, and just today received 30 more.  The 'buzz' on this product continues.  The invite-only roll-out is HOT, very hot.

In a salute to Veterans Day, the Google Voice team announced a partnership with Blue Star Families. (Unless I was sleeping, this important initiative was barely covered by anyone?!).

The headline today (actually announced yesterday along with the launch of a special website) is that Google is paying your Wi-Fi bill at numerous airports.  This program is hitting the main stream media like a bullet ... (and probably will be 'sticky' for a week or more).

Google's new integrated dashboard, announced last week, helped calm the fears of privacy advocates (and also helped users correct a lot of old data!).

Most likely hitting a completely different audience (and probably a coincidence), Google VP Marissa Mayer made Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year list.  (Think techies still wear goggle glasses? .... That stereotype is history :)

Late yesterday, the Picasa team announced a dramatic price decrease in storage fees (Hello Flickr??) along with some of the same from the Gmail team.

The Google Latitude team also announced an enhancement yesterday.  You may want to look over your shoulder for this one.... :)

On top of all of this, Google's open-source Android operating system made it's largest appearance on the scene yet with the release of two Android powered phones in the US by Verizon.  The Motorola Droid (very cool animation) and HTC's ERIS.

Like downloading music? Here's another surprise partnering announcement last week.

There's actually more.  Yes, Google is firing on all cylinders.

It's readily apparent that Google wants very much to be looking at you this holiday season ... or more importantly, they want as many people as possible .... looking at them.

After one of the most dynamic years in tech history that I can remember, I can only begin to imagine what's next from Mountainview .... and their competitors.

Finally ... If you have the opportunity.  Take a minute to Thank a Vet today. You'll feel good about it and so will they.


Update: A few moments ago, Google announced yet another feature, this time for the main index.  Parents, educators and others can now lock 'SafeSearch'.  Details have been posted to the Official Google Blog here.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Firefox issues fix prior to version 3.6

Mozilla has issued a maintenance release for Firefox 3.5

The release handles a several stability issues which can be found here.

On our end, it appears that this latest version is no longer locking up under Windows 7, which was a problem on some PCs.  (Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer have been running seemlessly under Windows 7 with Firefox exhibiting a more-than-occasional lock-up).

If you are a Firefox user and haven't been automatically updated, you can click 'Help' at the top of the browser and then 'Check for Updates' for the latest version, now 3.5.5

Updated versions in most languages, for Windows, MAC, and Linux, have been posted to the Mozilla website here.

Update (Nov 11, 2009 9 AM ET) Mozilla has now released the second Beta of Firefox 3.6 (which so far looks like a screamer?!).  Over 190 changes since Firefox 3.6 Beta 1.  You can find out more here.
Updated Sat Nov 7, 2009 8 AM ET

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The media should be thanking aggregators

Let's face it.  This isn't 1985.

Most magazines are getting smaller. Newspapers are having more-than-serious financial issues and so are TV networks.

This isn't the first wholesale change in our every day habits that the Internet has created.  It's one of many, and somehow everyone is blaming Google.

We're probably only a few short years away from 'regular people' adopting broadband for TV viewing ....  and mobile is another story altogether.  It's still in it's infancy.

It's an all-out fight for your eyeballs! ... and it's on, in a big way, right now.

While habits are hard to break, people are exploring the 'net more than ever.  They're changing their reading habits ... and even their daily routines.  With the economy still a wholesale mess, many are busier (working?) and many simply want a quick 'daily take' when they get online.

The problem for marketers, advertisers and anyone else that want YOU to see them is that instead of 5 or 50 'channels', the are now literally millions.

The idea of micropayments, or charging you for exclusive access, isn't the answer despite ongoing  pronouncements from CEOs saying "We're going to start charging for web content soon".

In most cases they wont.

Huge websites are being challenged every day but some brilliant bloggers.  It's been going on for a long time .. but nobody complained until ad budgets were cut deeply during the so-called recession.

Aggregators like AllTop, PopUrls, TechMeMe and many others featured here over the last few years aren't 'stealing' content.  

They're delivering visitors.

If you did your SEO homework (or read the instructions on how to get included in Google News?!), there's simply no reason to blame Google.

Imagine an Internet right now without search engines.  It could be a vast wasteland.  Think about it.

So instead of playing the blame game or dreaming about micropayments, maybe it's a good idea to get a better understanding of SEO, PPC, Social Networking and more importantly, welcoming your inclusion on aggregators ....

.... before you're extinct.

Just my two cents.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Facebook changes flip out users

Those of us that follow this kind of stuff knew on Friday (or earlier) that changes to Facebook were coming.

The Facebook blog (and several hundred tech blogs) highlighted the story.

In reality, most Facebook users don't read tech news ....and even if they did, the story disappeared entirely under the weight of the Windows 7 launch on Thursday.

For the majority, the changes to the so-called 'newsfeed' log-on page came as a complete surprise, and as with any change, the reaction from the masses was ..... "Huh? ... Where's my stuff?".

So here's a quick explanation.

This isn't Facebook's first change.  They've tested and implemented changes to the interface numerous times.

This IS the first time that I can remember that they changed it without letting you preview it first.  They simply went ahead and did it.


If the numbers posted by founder Mark Zuckerberg are accurate, Facebook has over 300 million registered users worldwide (Yes, you read that right .....approx the entire population of the United States!).

Talk about messing with success?

Even though Facebook is trying to be a little bit of everything to everybody, and while that may be a good idea, it complicates the formula for the everyday user. From the reactions so far, that's probably an understatement.

An easier-to-navigate new front page, with a user option to try it first, probably would have been a better path.

So what goin' on here ??

As most 'techies' know, not long ago Facebook BOUGHT Friendfeed .  Most loyal Friendfeed users were not only a little 'upset' at the time that their favorite network was being acquired in the early stages, but the odds were on a Google acquisition and this deal caught almost everyone off guard.

The new newsfeed you're currently seeing on Facebook is more-than Friendfeed inspired.  It is a little bit of Friendfeed (without some of Friendfeed's awesome features).

The posts with the most 'Likes' or comments will now bump up to the top ... or at least that's what it's doing for now.  Potentially a good move over time as more people will be seen interacting .... and you'll discover more users.  (IE: Works for them ... and may work for you).

For now, almost everyone I know outside of tech is not happy with this.  It's not just change, or resistance to change, it's a wholesale change to the page you first see when you log on, without any prior explanation for most users.

On the other hand ... Friendfeed loyalists probably love it.  I actually do and already spent more time on Facebook this weekend than I have in months.

This is gonna be a rough one but since Facebook is far and away the largest social network in the world, I suppose they felt they could get away with it.

We'll see.

For now, it's either get just used to it, let you comments be heard on the Facebook blog ... or you can always just give up ..... and play Farmville :)

Update:  While we're on the subject for those that haven't noticed, CNN has also re-launched their website as well.

edited for content Oct 25 11 AM ET

Friday, October 23, 2009

Verizon - Yes, we're looking at you iPhone (Video)

Over the course of the last few weeks, a variety of new cellphones based on Google's Android Operating System have been introduced by several major cellular carriers.

Earlier today, here in the US, Verizon outright dashed rumors about adopting a version of Apple's iPhone (when the US exclusive with AT&T expires).

It's been about two weeks since Verizon launched the "There's a Map for That" TV campaign targeting AT&T directly.

Now, they're looking at Apple.

A new buzz-building campaign on TV and the Internet went live a few hours ago, on the iPhone offensive with numerous mentions of "i" doesn't do this and "i" doesn't do that .... while promoting what Verizon has dubbed 'Droid' ... coming in November.

The website (a redirect to a special Verizon Wireless page) lets you enter your e-mail to be 'among the first'.

You can preview the new Verizon website, here.

Update: 1 AM ET Oct 23:  InformationWeek has more on the Verizon advertising launch here and Boy Genius Report covered Motorola's Droid Internet debut here.

Update 2: Video of the ad now embedded below.

Update Oct 27, 2009 3 AM ET: According to a piece in the Wall Street Journal, Verizon is still interested in the iPhone saying it's Apple's decision.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Google and Apple didn't derail Windows 7

The timing couldn't have been a coincidence ... but it won't work.

On Monday, Google announced a massive push (worldwide) for Google apps.  Yesterday, Apple announced all-new MacBooks and iMacs.

Tomorrow is the official release date on Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7.

The 'buzz', which has been around in tech circles for almost a year, is now hitting the (so-called) mainstream media ... and we all know what that means.

I asked some 'regular people' yesterday (IE: non-techies) if they knew what Google Apps or Windows 7 were.  The answer (without getting into some very funny 'Jay-walking' type stuff) was a resounding NO.

On the other hand both Facebook and Twitter were a YES (with over 75% saying they had Facebook accounts and visit them at least twice a week).

Keeping in mind that this was a very limited and completely non-scientific survey, it still points to an important factor. 

People are busy.  They're trying to hedge against the economy, and, in many cases, just trying to make a living. 

If it's not in they're face, they're going to miss it.  (Kinda like marketing YOUR blog? :).

Here in the US, the Windows 7 buzz is already building.  Major news networks are set to cover it .... or already are.


Well, it may not get the same ratings as Jon and Kate ... (ugh!) ... but NOT covering the Windows 7 launch would almost be like not covering a Space Shuttle landing.

Windows still owns the PC desktop, both by home and enterprise users, by a very large margin.  Despite Apple's gains and stellar earnings this week, they're still less than 10 percent of the market.  To most people, Google is where they go to find something.

One of the best pieces I've seen this morning so far comes from CBS News (keeping in mind that CBS owns CNET, one of the oldest and strongest technology news brands).  The piece (for regular people :) can be found here.

It's no secret that I love Windows 7.  It's the closest thing to plug and play ever, and despite numerous claims by blog authors to the contrary, it's a HUGE improvement over XP or Vista.

It's what the public doesn't see (yet) that's the most interesting.  The new war between Google, Apple and Microsoft.  It has now morphed to almost every front and 'could' redefine all of this over the next 5 or ten YEARS.

Google's mobile operating system, Android, is hitting Verizon, the largest mobile carrier in the US, and you'll be hearing a lot more about Verizon's 'Droid'. Google Voice, Apps, Gmail and many other products are viable 'players'.

Apple continues on the 'style' streak.  There's just no disputing that Apple computers look cool (and even make you look cool).  A fashion statement that works.  There's also no disputing that when (or if) the masses adopt smartphones, currently the iPhone wins.  Period. Apple's iTunes still dominates the podcast and music scene despite numerous challenges.

Windows 7 was critical to Microsoft.  They did it right on a variety of fronts.  In fact, it's going to be a lot easier to get Grandma on the Internet soon .... without those daily phone calls "Can you come over ... something went wrong". 

No joke .....

I don't remember one piece even mentioning this demographic.  While traditional marketers are all over it (and A LOT of scams), tech is ignoring one of the largest spending groups, at least here in the US.

That may change .... and it may change soon.

Regardless.  Ask someone this Friday is if they know what Windows 7 is.  More importantly, if they plan to get it.  My guess is YES and YES.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Google - We got a lotta green goin on ....

Blog Action Day has been around for some time and although, as of this writing, it doesn't appear to be eclipsing last year's numbers, it just got a boost on the Official Google Blog.

Blog Action Day 2009 is dedicated to Climate Change and has some notable participants and new media partners.

The Google post by Googler Anthony Ravitz showcases some extraordinary sustainable initiatives at the Googleplex including "9,212 photovoltaic solar panels that produce 1.6 MW of electricity — enough energy to power about 1,000 California homes". (Ugh .... Wow!)

For those that don't remember it, or weren't around 'the scene' when it made headlines, the post also makes reference to the company's use of .... ugh .... goats to mow the lawn .

Yes, you read that right .... :).

It's a safe guess that the early morning post from Google will drive a lot of blogs to get onboard the Blog Action Day bandwagon at the last minute (Blog Action Day 2009 is today).

This blog participated in some of the earliest Blog Action Days.  The concept is good and is now being played out in different ways on a variety of platforms.

Blogging, Tweeting (or whatever) for a variety of charities, initiatives etc. certainly can't hurt.  In fact, in many cases, it has solved problems and/or helped a lot.

There it is .... We're in ....

Monday, October 12, 2009

Muck Rack grows - Adds Beer

One of the more interesting Twitter - based websites launched early this year is Muck Rack.

Well-known by the web's 'social' PR crowd but not so well-known (yet) by the masses, Muck Rack is to Twitter what Alltop is to blogs, or at least that's the direction they appear to be going.

Originally, Muck Rack was an aggregator of Tweets by Journalists.  I often went there (after TechMeMe for my 'tech take'), to see what Journalists around the globe were saying, and writing about.  The site does a pretty good job sorting through the so-called noise.

Muck Rack has matured.  Not only have they added features such as 'Mass Follow' for particular News organizations (and lots more), but scrolling across the top, there's now 'racks' for Designers, Coders, Tech, Celebs (gotta have that one :), Humor, Beauty, Musicians, VCs, Sports, Science, Pets, Travel, Colleges, and yes, Beer.

Hey, Beer is the No. 1 consumed alcoholic beverage in America (and probably recession - proof).  Makes  sense to me?

MuckRack also tracks links.  I found this reference to Louis Gray in No. 1 post position pretty interesting. 

No, it was under Beer, it was under Tech.

So if you're one of the many that have cut your Twitter list down because of spam or just too much noise, you may just find what you're looking for on Muck Rack.

You will find a lot of the people behind the blogs you probably read already.

..... not to mention a slew of beer breweries you probably had no idea existed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Google got me to re-try Opera - Huh?

Earlier today, the Official Google Blog announced a new website called

The new website is a simple explanation of what a web browser is, and provides direct links not only to Google's Chrome, but also to Apple's Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, and yes, the latest version of Opera.

To see Google continue to embrace 'basics' is refreshing.

There are brand new web users every day and tens of thousands of people worldwide discovering coding, search marketing, the latest Internet landscape and more each week.

Factually, there's a lot that many of us probably take for granted. Factually, it's not just kids that are just getting with the 'net.

Emerging countries rolling out broadband, seniors right here in the US, rural communities just getting broadband, and many other groups are just testing the waters for the first time.

The easier it is for them to get information (and reliable information about Internet safety and security), the better.

Opera has been around for a lot of years but doesn't get much press here in the states.  The browser is used extensively on cellphones and also PC's, particularly in Europe. While the market share is relatively low, the browser has, for the most part, always been good.

I gave it a fresh run today, writing this piece using it, and it's just fine on a PC with a few features not offered by other browsers ... (probably something that can be said about each one of them).

I'm not going to look for Google's motivation here.  (It's obvious they'd love if all of us used Chrome as it continues to evolve).  I just think it's great that a major Internet company is continuing to address newcomers.

To keep it fair, Microsoft's recent efforts with Microsoft Security Essentials, a 100% free virus scanner for PC's, was a good move as well.  While it may infringe on the 'pay-for' antivirus market a bit, the 'basic' anti-virus program release, just before the public release of Windows 7 (October 22nd) was important and smart.   Many newcomers, in this economy, simply can't afford a few extra bucks for still necessary add-ons.

Google's Browser Video is below.  While all of these browsers will see new versions emerge, it's a great starter kit!

FTC Rules - 50,000 bloggers move to Canada

In what seemed like a well intentioned move on Monday, the US Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines for endorsements, clarifying an existing law, but for the first time, mentioning bloggers.

I, for one, have always wondered why the same disclosures that appear (and have appeared) on websites for years somehow escaped bloggers and blogging (but never felt it necessary to put any kind of disclosure here).

The ruling has caused nothing less than a firestorm with some embracing the new 'clarification', and others outright hating it.

Personally, I have no problem if I'm helping someone with a website, writing (sometimes along with their lawyers) extensive disclosure pages.  Factually. they usually address typos more than anything else.

On the other hand, this truly seems like an attempt to apply old rules to a new world .... that simply won't work.

First, here in the US, many of us write blogs almost assuming that our audience is in the US.  An FTC ruling will most likely only effect US bloggers (and Tweeters?).  That alone could result in a legal mess.

The World Wide Web is just that ..... and it's getting bigger.  The small audience for this blog comes from  numerous countries (and even more since I added Google Translate above and before that, the Wibiya bar below).

At times, I have turned on Google's Adsense here as more of an experiment than anything else.

Anyone who knows that landscape knows that I am not in full control of those ads .... Google is.

So if I were to disclose something here (not that there's much to disclose?!), and Google matched my writing with Adsense Ads, am I responsible for those advertisers now?

At the very least, it'll be interesting to see what ads appear below this post.

For me, the FTC's time could be much better spent going after virus-laden malware blogs and websites that still proliferate the web.  They are still the biggest problem for average Internet users.

"By the way .... if you buy this FREE product, we are taking control of your computer ... because we need the bandwidth ... and haven't decided what to do with it yet"

Now there's a disclosure.

Links updated 10/6/2009  9:30 ET

Friday, October 2, 2009

Disqus adds Yahoo Log-In ... more

In an e-mail to the Disqus community today, Daniel Ha introduced a variety of features that have been added to the commenting platform over the past few weeks (and seem to have have been overlooked by many).

For those of you that haven't noticed ... Disqus went real-time some time ago.  Comments appear instantaneously and can be imported by a variety of platforms, many now also in real-time.

About a week ago, Disqus added Yahoo! alongside Twitter, OpenID and Facebook (and their own log-in) for commenting on Disqus - enabled websites.

There are also new plug-ins available for WordPress and Movable Type as well as new comment importers.

Finally, the 'reaction list' is now HUGE and includes Friendfeed, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Hacker News, Blogger, WordPress, YouTube, Vimeo, Picasa, Flickr, Typepad, Movable Type and others.

I have enabled Yahoo! along with the recently released Narcissus theme in the comments below as an example (along with Facebook log-in which is now functional here).

You can view all of the recent changes to Disqus here or follow the Disqus blog here.

Have a great weekend all

Updated Oct 2 2009 8:15 AM ET

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Google Syncs Desktop Searches To Your Phone

A few hours ago, Google announced that you can now sync your mobile and desktop Google search history.

Available for Android, iPhone and Palm Web OS, all users need to do is log-in to their Google account. From there it's a matter of enabling or disabling from the settings tab.

More information can be found at the Google Mobile blog here.

Monday, September 28, 2009

SMX East rolls in to NYC October 5-7

The countdown is on .... and this blog post is just a reminder for those of us n the Northeast.

Search Marketing Expo East (or SMX East), the search engine trade show from Danny Sullivan (and company's) Search Engine Land (and Sphinn) comes to New York City in less than two weeks.

The 'show' will be held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from October 5th through the 7th.

The complete agenda has been posted here and you can still register here.

Face to face wins the race.

I seriously doubt there are too many people that would argue the fact that networking in person can be a lot more productive (and enjoyable) than sitting behind a computer screen on various social networks.

This is one of those opportunities for those of us in the Northeast that practice within and/or 'keep an eye on' the search engine landscape .... and more.

There have been a lot of changes in search this year. Most notably Yahoo! dropping their search efforts entirely (soon to be partnered with Microsoft's Bing for results).  Google is always making changes.

The industry is very simply more dynamic than ever.

Bottom line?  In my humble opinion ... If you're a web advertiser, SEO, ad agency, or Internet marketer of any kind, you should be there.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Another Mystery Google Logo ? - Not Really

Once again this morning, Google users were greeted with a 'slightly modified' Google logo on the (recently super-sized)  home page.

No, someone didn't goof and drop an extra 'L' in the logo, and no, the crew in Mountainview isn't teasing us (again :).

The second 'L' is actually a '1', and in this case .... so is the first.

It didn't take a lot of investigative work to figure this one out.

Mouse over the logo and it says "Google's 11th Birthday".  (Tapping the logo brings a search of Google .. ugh ... on Google ... which doesn't reflect anything about a birthday).

Google has been low key about this one.  Maybe we'll see something on the Official Google Blog this week.   On the last Google Birthday, (the big ten), I wrote this piece over on Louis Gray's blog.

In reality, according to the incorporation papers, Google was founded on September 4th, 1998.

Will it become a news story?  Probably.  Almost every 'special' Google logo over the past ten years has made the news.

So, to the whole crew at Google (around the world) .... and the few Googlers I've come to know (mostly electronically)  over the past few years... Happy 11th Birthday Google!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Overlooked Feature in Picasa 3.5 ?

I was reading with interest numerous articles about Google's latest version of Picasa earlier today.

Coincidentally, I did have a few photos to edit and send by e-mail so I replaced the old version to try out some of the new features.

The new Picasa (version 3.5) adds facial recognition, name tags, easier geotagging, and more seamless integration with Picasaweb.

To those of you that take a lot of photos with your cellphone, or just don't have the time to stop and set camera settings, I wandered across a feature you may want to try out.

The redeye correction automatically finds the eyes!

While this may not sound exciting to you if you're already using more elaborate commercial photo editing software, I found it pretty huge for a free product.  Picasa's right up there now for me with Microsoft's Phototools and

Give it a try.

With gobs of photos now being uploaded from iPhones (and other camera phones) this one feature is an outright WIN.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meta Tags and Rank - Drawing a line in the sand

As some of you know, I've had an 'issue' with the literally hundreds (maybe thousands?!) of 'new experts' that have come along in the past year in the web marketing space.

I've written numerous posts in other places, such as my "Ten things you should ask your new SEO company".

In a post to the Google Webmaster Central blog on Monday, one fact was made 'perfectly clear'.

Google does not use the Meta Keyword tag as part of it's scoring process for ranking purposes.

The post was followed by a video by Google's Matt Cutts (which I've embedded below).  You may want to read the dialog in the comments on Cutts' personal blog and / or the Google Webmaster Central Blog for more questions and answers.

Google has been more and more transparent in recent years regarding their process for getting 'rank'.  I would urge those that think they should be ranking, that aren't, to, at the very least, subscribe to the Google Webmaster Central RSS feed.

Whether some chose to believe it or not, the fact is that SEO is essentially free advertising.  Google currently is over 60 per cent of that market.

The Cutts video is below.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Find Cheap Gas with new Bing Maps Beta

Microsoft has launched a new beta 'Interactive Gas Finder' on MSN.

The new page uses Bing Maps to let you easily view current prices in your area or scroll across the map when planning a trip to see where the best gas prices are.

The new MSN Gas Prices Beta page can be found here.

The page works equally well with most major browsers including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari.

Microsoft Free Antivirus Program Just Weeks Away

In a limited (very short window) public beta release just a few months ago, Microsoft introduced it's predecessor to their paid antivirus program, OneCare.

The team has been very active updating not only the core product but also releasing new virus definitions (almost daily) to beta testers using XP, Vista, and the Windows 7 RC and RTM.

Known as Microsoft Security Essentials, the new program is not intended to be a replacement for commercially available products but rather to "provide comprehensive anti-malware protection from threats including viruses, spyware, rootkits, Trojans, and other emerging threats in a single lightweight anti-malware solution".

The program so far has been effective and uses a minimal amount of system resources and sports a clean and easy-to-use interface (pictured below):

In a letter to beta testers just a few hours ago, Microsoft asked that everyone update to the latest core product (version 1.0.1500.0) prior to the public release 'in a few weeks'.

It seems likely that the launch of Security Essentials is being timed close to, or just before the full public release of Windows 7 on October 22nd.

Additional information on Microsoft Security Essentials can be found on the original page launch page here along with links to a few open forums. (Note: The download link in non-functional at this time).

Members of Microsoft Connect can also access an information channel.

Friday, September 18, 2009

25,000 Flickr Galleries (and more from Yahoo!)

A few days ago, Yahoo! announced the launch of Flickr Galleries.

According to a press post this evening, over 25,000 galleries have already been produced by Flickr users.

Even more interesting in the multifaceted weekend corporate post was the fact that Flickr now hosts over 3.4 billion photos.

(That's billion ... with a 'b').

Indeed, I have often told friends and colleagues that I use Flickr more for viewing than posting.

Example: Looking at a particular travel destination?  Why not look at a few photos from a few people that have actually been there?  There's a (very) good chance you'll find them on Flickr.

With the increase in mobile uploads from a variety of smart (and semi-smart) phones, it's getting to a point where there's a picture of almost everything on Flickr. (This may be getting a little creepy :) Some of the photos are interesting, some fun, others amazing, and while there are numerous competitors, it's safe to say most professional photographers maintain some presence on Yahoo's photo sharing website.

Noted photographer Thomas Hawk recently blogged about his 30,000th upload to Flickr (despite the fact that he started his own competing site some time ago).

Yahoo's press piece this evening also makes mention of the retiring of all older versions of Yahoo! Messenger on September 30th with users needing to upgrade to version 8 or higher to be able to continue using the service.

Details on the Yahoo! Messenger migration and 'Yahoo! Messenger on the Web' are now posted on the Messenger blog here.

The late Friday post from Sunnyvale also includes Yahoo's salute to pirates (Hmm...) ..... and a cooperative Yahoo / Kodak tribute to Hispanic Heritage Month.

The complete post can be found here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ReadyBoost in Windows 7 - It Rocks

With the official launch of Windows 7 just a few weeks away, I thought it might be a good time to take a look at some overlooked and improved features that were first introduced in Windows Vista.

Far and away the least mentioned and most effective carryover for many may very well be ReadyBoost, particularly in the case of enterprise deployment .. and a  few 'older' PCs.

One of the boxes I tested Windows 7 on would be considered 'legacy' at this stage.  A single core processor, 1 GB of RAM onboard and shared graphics memory.  Honestly, while I expected a little 'search' for some drivers, I wasn't sure if any of the versions would work at all.

The 'Beta', RC, and Enterprise version all ran fine and at about the same speed as XP.  Memory intensive graphics and video were a challenge but still an improvement over XP using the latest Windows 7 drivers.

Then came the magic.


I plugged in an 8 GB flash drive (ReadyBoost certified ... IE: 1 ms or less access time) and dedicated the drive to ReadyBoost via the pop-up dialog.

Microsoft should be talking more about this.  Not only did ReadyBoost under Windows 7 improve overall system performance and speed, but it literally felt like I had changed the CPU or added more memory.  On the same computer, XP was now a very slow 'turtle'.

There was absolutely no comparison in access times, video or graphics.

I'm not encouraging installation of the operating system on computers with less than the recommended system resources but if you 'need' to push one or two boxes on your network to 'the next level', ReadyBoost might be the answer.  (In the chance that it isn't, obviously back everything up first?!).

On to other stuff ... Vista also introduced the 'Snipping Tool'.  After a little networking last night, apparently I'm not the only one that missed it entirely.

Bottom line .... Screen capture (with annotation) is build into the operating system.  Couple that with a significantly upgraded version of yes, Microsoft Paint, and you can actually do some pretty neat stuff without launching another 'big' program.

(Left - 'Snipped' on the fly while writing this piece)

Like any other operating system, Windows 7 is going to behave differently with different hardware configurations.  It's a pretty safe bet that if your box ran well (or great) with Vista, it should not only 'like' Windows 7, but from everything I've experienced to date, it should find all the drivers you need automatically.

Finally a suggestion.  After visiting your PC manufacturer's website, take an inventory of your computer's components and head over to the component manufacturer's website(s) to see if any newer Windows 7 specific drivers have been released for your chipset(s), wireless adapter, audio, etc.

As has been the case for me since the initial release of the Windows 7 Beta .... you may get a very pleasant surprise.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Google Flips, Microsoft sorta does too?

Google today announced a new experiment in Google Labs dubbed Google Fast Flip.

Essentially a collection of websites from newspapers, magazines, already out-of-print magazines (and a few Internet-only resources), Fast Flip wants to make it easy for you to 'Flip' through current front pages of various publications and select which ones you want to view.

Fast Flip's launch line-up is very limited for a product grouped by category but Google is inviting YOUR feedback to this Google News Feedback Form.  (The complete list of launch sources, as of this post, can be found here).

It's almost a given that the initial feedback will come from publications that didn't make the first cut (and/or loyal readers of those publications).

Essentially Fast Flip is a visual aggregator of Google Partner websites competing in a sense with such products as Alltop, TechMeMe and PopUrls, but with a visual flair.  It also appears to be updating very frequently (as in 'almost' real-time) which could be part of the project's goal.

A picture is worth a thousand words?

Also on the visual web-based front on the same day, Microsoft launched it's new Bing search product Visual Search Beta at today's TechCrunch TC50 Conference.

The new Bing search offering brings to mind the visual search product CoolIris (formerly PicLens) with similar functionality. While CoolIris still clearly stands out as a useful, refined, fun and time-saving product, Visual Search gets a different edge by have their own search product integrated.

Both Google and Microsoft continue to deliver new format products, most likely to see if any generate a significant enough buzz to take to the next level.

While Bing's entry today was more fun and interesting to test out, it's a safe bet that hundreds of publications across all media are knocking on Google's door tonight wanting to be part of Fast Flip.

In fact, it's not a stretch to think of a few hard-working current Google partners that might be Fast Flipping out right about now ....