Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Quiet Black Friday Deal from Microsoft

Many of us expressed disappointment when Microsoft discontinued the Windows 7 Family Pack, especially those of us that had extensively tested the beta(s) and provided extensive feedback.

Last month, Microsoft returned the Family 3-Pack to the Microsoft Store (... at least for now).

While the software giant is busy promoting the new Windows Phone on TV, radio, newspapers and the Internet, the best deal from Microsoft is hiding in the fine print at the Microsoft Store.

It's a safe bet that many aren't ready to adopt cloud computing and there are still tens of millions of people using (very) outdated versions of Microsoft Office.

For the holidays, Microsoft has cut the price of Office Home and Student 2010 .... but it's the fine print that makes the difference.

The special includes 3 licenses (for use on home PCs only) making it a family pack. 

The Home and Student version includes Word 2010, Excel 2010, Powerpoint 2010 and OneNote 2010, and unlike the Windows 7 copies I've purchased so far, this bundle includes both 32 and 64 bit versions.

As with the Windows 7 Family Pack, there's no saying whether or not the Office Family Pack will continue, but at this price,  it's simply a great way to upgrade those home PC's .... including the one you'll probably come home with tomorrow :)

More info can be found at the Microsoft Store here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Google Doodle You Can Eat ?!

Google is rolling out their latest home page 'Doodle' here in the US, celebrating the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Clicking on the Doodle, you'll find six (inspiring!) recipies from cookbook author and TV chef Ina Garten.

Hunting for that last minute recipe?

Google's got you covered from the main dish to desert.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The New Google Journalism Tag Could Work in Reverse

Yesterday, Google announced a new Meta tag for journalists and bloggers.

The new tag is designed to give credit to the publisher who originally 'broke' or published a story.

Anyone who's worked in the news field knows that breaking a story is considered a huge accomplishment.

The writer, publication, and every one who worked on the piece feels good .... not to mention bringing additional credibility to the organization.

Back in the day, you had a local news team and two teletype machines.  One was from UPI and the other, if I remember correctly, was AP.  You paid for these services and could use the content in your publications and/or broadcasts.

These days, especially since the advent of 'real-time' and more specifically Twitter, coupled with almost instant RSS delivery of press releases, the lines of who's breaking what have not only become grey, but at times, it's simply been impossible to determine who published what first.

Last year, the FTC issue a ruling (PDF) that bloggers and others disclose any affiliation between their posts (tweets ?!) and the company they were promoting.  I wrote this at the time and it's pretty much panned out.  The ruling has gone largely ignored, even by some pretty prominent writers.

Now, in what appears to be a good faith effort by Google, they re proposing two news Meta tags.  One for attribution and the other for syndication.

Two problems:

1) Many reputable blogs and news organizations have, in fact, been crediting their source with a link.  They could decide to drop that protocol and just use the tag in which case the original writer loses ... big time.

2) With LOTS of publications switching to popular blogging software, it would take time for some sort of plug-in to be developed for this, and, in some cases, would necessitate a complete re-write of code.

At one point, 'copping stories' from Twitter became so prevalent that Reuters informed their staff NOT to break stories there.

My thinking is that those that have been 'generous' enough to cite the original article (complete with a link) will now implement the tags instead, feeling completely justified with their 'lift and run'.

The syndication tag, on the other hand makes complete sense.  Google is trying to prevent duplicate content in their index but that too could be ignored as some content appears in the main index and some syndicated content appears in Google News.

Time will tell but, over time, there's gotta be a better way.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Google Launches hotpot - Your Reviews in Places and More

Google has just launched a new product called Google hotpot.

hotpot (not capitalized) let's you join the reviewers from Google's partners and others in Google Places.  You can network and review restaurants, hotels, and just about any type of place ... in any place.

In addition, hotpot is it's own social network (surprise ? :), letting you connect with others using your contact list from Gmail.

Accessing hotspot, you are greeted by a welcome screen which lets you upload a photo and choose a hotpot nickname:

From there, you're taken to a simple screen (which seemed very accurate in both city and rural searches), where you can look for hotels, restaurants and more.

Photos, ratings and existing reviews all come together there with links mostly going to Google Maps.

Photos are collected from both Google and non-Google web properties, making extensive use of Google owned Panoramio, which up until now appeared mostly in Google Earth.

If all of this is starting to sound confusing, perhaps the best part is .... that it's not.

Using hotpot is a snap and self-explanatory.

Your recommendations could appear in Google Places as well as your own Google Profile and you can select whether to view Friends, Rated or ALL reviews.

Privacy?  Google makes absolutely no secret that the more you interact with hotpot, the more Google is going to try and tune recommendations to your specific tastes:

In fact, the second time you log in, Google will try and geo-locate you and provide a local page full of restaurants, hospitals, even public school systems ... and you can do it right from your PC (No smartphone required).

You can try out Google hotspot right now here.

It's live ..... and no 'invite' is required.

Refreshing :)

Update: You can find out more about Google hotpot on the Google LatLong blog here.
Two more good pieces have been published by Vanessa Fox here and Jolie O'Dell here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GoDaddy and Columbia - Crazy (Updated)

GoDaddy is trying a little experiment on their front page.

At first, I thought it was a web designer's mistake.

Not so much.

Domain Name Wire first reported the story here.

It's virgin territory for domainers (or squatters?) ..... for as long as it lasts.

In a move that 'domainers' are considering brilliant and others are calling an outrage, the largest domain registrar in the world has defaulted their home page domain search to the .co domain.

You read that right.  DOT CO.  Not DOT COM.

So what gives?

Large brands (and even small brands), as well as lots of others, are always cognizant of owning their own name.  Most also buy a variety of misspells just to be sure you land on their page when you're typing in the browser bar.

It's BIG business.

Back when I did in-house SEO in the travel industry, the company I worked for owned hundreds of domains for this very reason.  The other reason, of course, is that there are still those that type domains into the browser address bar thinking they're automatically searching.

Nobody wants you to 'land' somewhere else.

Back to GoDaddy.

I've had relatively good experiences with them over the years.  I even still host some stuff there for myself and others.  Say what you will about his edgy advertising, Bob Parsons has been a marketing genius.

In this case, I'm hoping GoDaddy has doubled their customer service staff.

.co is the domain name for the country of Columbia.  GoDaddy is betting that you'll want to reserve this potential mispell to preserve your brand or website (at 29.99 US).

Back when Twitter was a brand new company (and when Facebook offered personalized suffixes), the prevailing wisdom among social media experts was to grab those before someone else did.  Of course, they were FREE.  You can see just a few of mine here.  I still do it, and so do MANY others.

If you combine the social media logic with big brands outright fear, GoDaddy already has a potential million dollar hit on their hands.   

On the flip side, the amount of people registering these by mistake will probably also be pretty huge considering it's the default.

It's brilliant.  It's sneaky.  It'll probably work well for GoDaddy.

I seriously doubt Google or any other search engine is going to be hot on this although most buyers will probably redirect those domains (if they're smart) to their primary.

I'm not buying it.

Are you?

Update: Nov 14, 2010 10 PM ET: The Next Web is reporting that GoDaddy was running an experiment and has returned to .com as the default on their main page.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mozilla - The Browser Wars Are Far From Over

The browser buzz this week was all about RockMelt.

There were many that wondered why anyone would enter this crowded field, especially with 'giants' like Google, Apple and Microsoft competing ... with FREE products.

There actually are some pretty good answers but that's another post for another time.

Of course, the continued favorite of many bloggers and techies remains alive 'in the wings'.  Mozilla's Firefox remains a favorite of many, especially developers and Linux users.

With the 'big three' actively playing in the browser space, some had expressed some wonder about the future of Mozilla.

Then, there was ... ugh ... today.

Mozilla released the latest beta of Firefox 4.0, now version 7.

Simply put, these guys aren't kidding around.  They're not done yet.  Nowhere close.

I wrote this a while back.  Sure .... "Your results may vary ..." but there was simply no question, at that time,  that Firefox (using Windows 7) showed visibly improved speed on several test boxes.

Earlier today, Mozilla raised that bar again (for real) with the release of Firefox 4b7.

On two computers with completely different configurations (both Windows 7), Firefox 4 Beta 7 screamed speed, especially when I wandered over to Hulu to take in a few favorite shows.

No Steve, Flash isn't dead.

It's even faster, smoother ....

..... and hasn't crashed here at all least, so far :)

More info can be found on the Mozilla blog here.

The download is here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

RockMelt Updates Already

The latest browser to hit the Internet landscape on Sunday has already issued an upgrade.

There's already been enough written about RockMelt to fill several books.  Some love it, some like it and some are viewing it as Chrome with Facebook and Twitter attached.

My personal feelings after two days on the RockMelt train?

1) It might tempt me to go to Facebook more often (or at least look at others statuses).

2) It works .... and the team is working on making it better. (Keeping in mind that Google's Chrome works, and RockMelt is using the Chrome architecture).

3) I'd expect something slightly more revolutionary from the person that originally brought us Netscape, but then again, simplicity these days seems to be the ticket.

RockMelt rolled out slowly all day Monday on an invitation basis (and more invites are included in each  install).

Logging in briefly this morning, it appears that the RockMelt team is listening and are already addressing user comments and concerns:

(click to enlarge)

In any event, the buzz is still alive but RockMelt still has a long way to go to win over users of other browsers.

You get the feeling that they're headed there.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

TweetDeck on Steroids

One of the most popular desktop clients for Twitter (and more), TweetDeck, took a quantum leap in real-time updating on Friday, introducing version 0.36.1.

Yes, TweetDeck now updates in Real Time ... which they readily recognize "may be a little overwhelming".

TweetDeck is one of those apps that has been improving steadily since it's introduction.  The new real-time feature can be throttled making it easier to get used to.  Other new features have also been added.

In addition, previous releases have added Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, and Foursquare (Yes, you CAN post to Foursquare from your desktop.  I'm not sure why you'd want to, but you can :)

Other versions of TweetDeck support iPhone, iPad, and Android.

The latest hyper-active desktop version of TweetDeck is powered be the latest version of Adobe's Air cross platform engine, version 2.5 and can be downloaded free here.

Warning.  If you follow as many people as I do, You WILL be overwhelmed ... but that's part of the fun .. and there are some tips and help (to calm any fear?) here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Yahoo! launches Weekend Edition

It's probably not a bad idea.

While most of the the web players have become obsessed with 'real-time', Yahoo! is trying something in the opposite direction.

After posted moderately bad financials this week, Yahoo! has announced another initiative.

Sponsored by General Motors division Buick, Yahoo! is introducing Weekend Edition on Yahoo! News.

While it may sound relatively simple, the fact remains that there are lots of people that simply don't have the time to soak up much of anything other than work during the week.  Both AOL and Yahoo! have made significant investments in original content this past year, so the announcement by Yahoo! just makes sense as an extension of capabilities.

The question becomes ...

Will they be able to steer a large enough audience there and more importantly, not only make it 'sticky' but keep people coming back.

I guess we'll see, starting tomorrow, possibly today.

The press release from Yahoo! is here (at Business Wire) and the announcement just made to the Yahoo! Corporate blog is here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Google Chrome goes to NINE

Google's Chrome Browser took a leap today (in the dev channel) to Version 9.

To be exact, 9.0.570.0.

This is the first time that Chrome, the web browser that will be the foundation for the upcoming Google Chrome Operating System, expected to be released during this quarter, has hit the '9' number, usually signaling a significant release.

According to a post late today to the Google Chrome Release Blog, this new version effects Windows, Linux and Mac versions of Chrome, and addresses a variety of known issues and a security fix.

To easily update the Windows version, tap the small 'tool' in the upper right corner, then 'About Google Chrome'.  Chrome will update itself and prompt you to restart.

Microsoft recently released an open beta of their next generation browser Internet Explorer 9 ... to the public.

Coincidence?  In this case ... probably :)