Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dell slots in 24-inch widescreen S2409W LCD monitor

Source: http://feeds.engadget.com/~r/weblogsinc/engadget/~3/349392494/

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Just over a month after Dell added in a new 27-incher to its (admittedly unwieldy) LCD monitor family, along comes a sibling with a few less pixels and a much smaller price tag. The 24-inch widescreen S2409W checks in with a 1,920 x 1,080 panel, 300 cd/m2 brightness, 5-millisecond response time, 1,000:1 contrast ratio, VGA / DVI / HDMI sockets, and 160- / 170-degree viewing angles. The best part(s)? It's available for just $379, and it's shipping within one to two days. Hooray!

[Via Electronista]
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Amazon Watcher Auto-Orders Items When They're In-Stock [Shopping]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/lifehacker/full/~3/347513116/amazon-watcher-auto+orders-items-when-theyre-in+stock

amazon_watcher.jpgWindows/Mac OS X: Amazon Watcher isn't the first gadget that can monitor Amazon items for price drops and availability, but it is the rare tool that can automatically buy your rare gear for you. Once you add your account information (and assuming you have payment methods stored on that account), you're set to have Amazon Watcher buy x units of whatever you're hunting, but it can also pop up the order page or email you, if you're less jumpy. Having all your must-grab items constantly ready for purchase can probably break strong wills, however, so, luckily, this app can reduce to the system tray. Amazon Watcher is a free download for Windows or Mac OS X systems.


Click to Call Dials Calls from Your Browser [Featured Firefox Extension]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/lifehacker/full/~3/347771515/click-to-call-dials-calls-from-your-browser

click-to-call-gc.pngFirefox only (Windows/Mac/Linux): The GrandCentral Click to Call Firefox extension calls phone numbers on web pages using your GrandCentral account with the click of your mouse. That means whenever a web page loads, the extension recognizes phone numbers on the page and turns them into clickable links. Clicking the number will call the phones you've connected with GrandCentral, and when you answer, GrandCentral connects you to the number you've clicked on. The extension is a little rough around the edges, but if you've been using the previously mentioned phone consolidation service (that's also been bought up by Google), it's a definite timesaver. Click to Call is free, works wherever Firefox does.


Meet Moondo, Multiplayer, Multi-game Network

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/OmMalik/~3/347551371/

Moondo, a new “cross-gaming universe” from Funtactix (an Israeli game studio that’s backed by $6 million in Series A funding from Benchmark Capital and Jerusalem Venture Partners) has come out of limited beta. Sort of like Xbox Live for the web, Moondo lets you create your own characters, which can jump into a variety of 3-D action and sports games. All along, points and virtual items are collected and retained across the network, so you can track your accomplishments against friends and competitors.

Since it’s free to play, Funtactix CEO Sam Glassenberg tells me, the company plans to make money through virtual item sales. Moondo’s a fun idea with potential stickiness, especially for young teens, but I strongly suspect the site’s somewhat odd cartoonish graphics will turn off older players, as will the 85 MB client install (though a web version is planned for October.)


Want to Buy Xdrive? AOL Is Trying To Sell It For $5 Million.

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/346840985/

Continuing the tradition of selling bad Web businesses for less than they were bought for (in the vein of Cnet selling Webshots for $45 million three years after paying $70 million for it), AOL is trying to unload online storage service Xdrive. Three years after buying Xdrive for a rumored $30 million (never officially disclosed), the price it is now trying to fetch is $5 million, and going south, says a source. Maybe AOL should put it on eBay.

It is a sad ending for Xdrive, which now will be best known for giving birth to MySpace (both Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe worked there). In an e-mail to staff explaining why AOL is powering down Xdrive and other businesses, EVP Kevin Conroy explained (bold added for emphasis}:

The changes described below are in no way a reflection of the hard work and creativity of the people who built and maintain them.

- Personal Media: Bluestring, Xdrive and AOL Pictures will be sunset. These consumer storage products haven't gained sufficient traction in the marketplace or the monetization levels necessary to offset the high cost of their operation. We have found that building media management applications within the context of a social experience is a more rapid and effective way to grow the business. For example, today the Bebo audience is uploading over three million photos per day. To effectively grow the XDrive online storage business we would need to focus on subscription revenues vs. monetizing through advertising revenue, and this business model is not in strategic alignment with our company's goals. We are exploring plans to migrate our users assets to ensure the best possible transition experience.

Subscription businesses are so AOL, circa 1999.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.


Who Is Johng77536 And How Did He Game Twitter?

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/347691796/

One of the reasons Twitter is such a useful platform for publishing is that it is largely spam free - you only received messages from people you choose to follow. So even though a large number of spammy accounts have appeared on the service, the only real damage they do is when they trick people into following them (a lot of people just auto-follow whoever follows them as a courtesy).

Recently Twitter has tried to raise the bar even higher by removing accounts that appear to be trying to game the system. A lot of spammy accounts are just being deleted.

But what happens if someone finds a way to get others to follow them by exploiting some vulnerability in Twitter? The service would be overrun with spam overnight.

That appears to have happened today - I, along with 7,000+ other people, are now following user johng77536, even though I never hit the follow button (the account is following zero other users). The account, which is just two hours old, is now one of the top 100 Twitter accounts (it is currently #63), and growing fast. There are two posts in the account, both linking to a site called hotmoda.com.

This is the first time we’ve heard about Twitter being exploited in this way. Our guess is they found a vulnerability in the API and are going to push this for all its worth before being shut down. We’ll see how quickly Twitter responds.

We did a search for the username and came up with this link, where a user with the same name purports to be John and/or Lena Granger (who may well have nothing to do with this).

Update: Per the comments below, it looks like the vulnerability is being used for at least one other account (image), which links off to the same hotmoda site.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.


Great Apps Using The CrunchBase API

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/347840357/

crunchbase graphs

Since launching the CrunchBase API less than two weeks ago we’ve seen a great response from developers, who have already developed a number of impressive plugins and applications. The CrunchBase API offers access to information from thousands of tech companies, VCs and startup entrepreneurs. It's free to use, there are no accounts to sign up for and no request throttling. The API returns clean, pretty-printed JSON, and only basic attribution is required. Here are some of great applications already in the wild:

CrunchBase WordPress Plugins

Two plugins sprung up that make it easy to insert the CrunchBase widget into WordPress blog posts. The first, developed by Vaibhav Gadodia, queries the CrunchBase API to determine the CrunchBase URL for a company. Joost de Valk, the author of numerous WordPress plugins, also released a CrunchBase widget plugin that supports all of the CrunchBase entity types (companies, products, people, and financial organizations).

CrunchBase Social Graphs

cb-people-graph cb-companies-graph

Finnish readers Mikko Kivelä and Bemmu Sepponen have generated whopper social graphs using the full web of CrunchBase data. One of the graphs maps company connections in CrunchBase, while the other is concerned with the people involved. They also created a fun text file that counts the degrees of separation from any company to Google (TechCrunch is 2 away). We’d love to see a version of They Rule using financial organizations instead of board members.

Semantic CrunchBase

Quite possibly the most exciting use of the CrunchBase API is Semantic CrunchBase, a RDF/SPARQL mirror of CrunchBase that adheres to the principles of the Semantic Web. Semantic CrunchBase comes to us from active Semantic/RDF community developer Benjamin Nowack. A RDF/SPARQL interface enables queries to be run against the CrunchBase data. For example, you can query for all the companies that were funded during January 2008 (which you can already do via a web interface with our advanced search page). Semantic CrunchBase is a great add-on that will open up new doors with respect to the applications people can create with CrunchBase data.

If you are doing something cool with CrunchBase data we’d love to see it. Become a member and post on the CrunchBase Google Group. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to the CrunchBase Blog.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.


Moondo Fuses Casual Gaming With Massively Multiplayer Games

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/348012168/

One of the biggest draws for massively multiplayer online games (MMO’s) is the satisfaction that comes from earning in-game items and abilities. Unlike simple Flash games where your accomplishments vanish the moment you step away from your computer, MMO’s allow you to acquire virtual goods and work your way up a skill ladder, in the hopes of eventually becoming powerful enough to dominate over everyone else. Unfortunately, many people simply can’t spare the hundreds of hours a game like World of Warcraft takes to finally reach this leet status.

Today sees the launch of Moondo, a new gaming “world” that is trying to merge the best parts of MMOs and the casual games that litter the web. The Moondo world is comprised of a number of multiplayer minigames that feature 3D graphics that rival those seen on most MMOs. Each minigame is intended to require only about 15-20 minutes, though they include multiple levels that should keep gamers satisfied for hours at a time.

What differentiates Moondo from most other multiplayer minigames is the introduction of persistent goods and a leveling system. For example, a shield that a user might acquire during the course of a shooting game could later be used on the platform’s driving game. As gamers continue playing, they progressively acquire more goods and skills, and the platform’s matching system ensures that they are only pitted against players of comparable experience. At launch, there are two games available (an FPS and a racing game), but that number should grow quickly, as Moondo says that the platform is designed so that it can pump out a new game every 8 weeks.

Moondo’s biggest challenge lies in making the powerups and levels acquired by each gamer seem worthwhile. It’s one thing to be known as a powerful wizard or knight in a persistent world like World of Warcraft - everyone knows you’ve earned it. But when such advantages are carried over to smaller minigames, it might just make them unbalanced and less fun.

For the time being Moondo is only available as a standalone client on Windows, but the company plans to roll out browser support (so that it should be platform-agnostic) by October. The game is the first product from Funtactix, a Benchmark and JVP-funded company that has spent the last eighteen months developing the platform that powers Moondo. Another company that is introducing persistent accomplishments to casual gaming is CasualCafe which we covered here.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.


Google Beats Cuil Hands Down In Size And Relevance, But That Isnât The Whole Story

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/348058066/

Search engine Cuil launched earlier this evening, claiming a bigger index size (120 billion web pages) than Google or any other search engine. The pedigree of the founders and execs, which includes three ex senior Googlers, means the service will be compared to Google from day one. And the way they will be compared is index size and, more importantly, relevance/ranking of results.

We’ve been testing the engine for the last hour. Based on our test queries Cuil is an excellent search engine, particularly since it is all of an hour old. But it doesn’t appear to have the depth of results that Google has, despite their claims. And the results are not nearly as relevant.

A search for Dog returns 280 million results on Cuil and 498 million on Google. Judging relevance of results is subjective, but Google returns Wikipedia as the first result, then dog.com. Cuil returns Dog.com, wikipedia isn’t listed on the first page of results. Both are meaningful results, but Google is better.

More searches, Cuil v. Google: Apple (83 m v. 571 million) - neither mention the fruit. France (102 m v. 1.5 billion) - Cuil’s category refinement makes their results better for this query. Stonehenge (800k v. 8.5 million). Silicon Valley (3.2 m v. 24 m). Techcrunch (600k v. 6.5 m).

It seems pretty clear that Google’s index of web pages is significantly larger than Cuil’s unless we’re randomly choosing the wrong queries. Based on the queries above, Google is averaging nearly 10x the number of results of Cuil.

And Cuil’s ranking isn’t as good as Google’s based on the pure results returned from both queries. Where Cuil excels is with the related categories, which return results that are extremely relevant. With Google, we’ve all gotten used to trying a slightly different search to get the refined results we need. Cuil does a good job of guessing what we’ll want next and presents that in the top right widget. That means Cuil saves time for more research based queries.

And I want to reemphasize that Cuil is only an hour old at this point, Google has had a decade to perfect their search engine.

Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.


Highway to the Danger Zone!

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/yankodesign/~3/345398624/

When you think of Military Air Bases, what do you think about? Over- budgeted super secret spy planes by Bruce Wayne? Maverick and Iceman in a pissing contest, high five-ing each other to bad 80s music? Well that was the question put forth in the latest design contest by auto design site Localmotors.com. They want the undiscovered Top Guns of automotive design to step up and show their true grit. Like this super rad racer by Popa Lucian (aka: Sleepy) inspired by jet fighters. He included a side mounted engine and exhaust, a tubular chasis with carbon fiber body paneling, side mounted cooling system and a fighter style HUD (heads up display). All that and some cool fighter style stickers make me want to go vroom vroom rattatatatatat while gnawing on a cigar.

Designer: Popa Lucian [ Via: Local Motors ]


The Softer Side of Hard Drives

Source: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/yankodesign/~3/345407258/

Designing electronic gadgets specifically for women has always seemed like either an insult to their sensibilities or simple pink pandering. Either way, you run the risk of a ton of pink back stock or pissing them off. My advice, design gadgets for humans. Except when it is done to the high degree of slickness as this “Costume” Samsung 2.5″ Hard Drive by Joongoo Lee. Joongoo’s design was inspired by a ladies make-up compact found at the bottom of most hand bags. Fitting comfortably in the palm of your hand (not that hard drives need to be in the palm of your hand) this design makes me want to explore my feminine side a bit further. Do these jeans make me look fat?

Designer: Joongoo Lee


Ex-Googlers Build Cuil Search Engine, Say it's Bigger Than Google [Search]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/348235805/ex+googlers-build-cuil-search-engine-say-its-bigger-than-google

"Search 121,617,892,992 web pages" claims the front page of the new search engine Cuil (pronounced "cool" apparently.) Those 120 billion pages are about three times as many as Google actually indexes, according to developer Anna Patterson... and she should know as until 2006 she worked there. Presented in a kind of "magazine style," Cuil will apparently get more pertinent results as it drills into the contents of a page, unlike Google's complex ranking system. Since two more of the development team also worked for Google, and there's $33 million of venture capital behind the new site, it is certainly going to be an interesting development to keep tabs on. Cuil starts taking search requests today. [ via Physorg]


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pantel readies trio of weatherproof Mirror TVs

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2008/07/26/pantel-readies-trio-of-weatherproof-mirror-tvs/

Just because you haven't been remotely interested in seen a mirror TV in, oh, years, doesn't mean that companies aren't still interested in exploiting the niche. Take Pantel, for instance, who is totally stoked about debuting a trio of 'em at CEDIA 2008. Set to launch in 20-, 32- and 42-inch flavors, the Mirror TV line is aimed at folks looking to add a multipurpose display in their bathroom, shower or sauna. The 20- and 32-inch editions arrive with a 720p panel, while the 42-incher checks in with a full 1080p resolution. Price wise, you're looking at $1,200 for the little guy, $2,755 for the 32-inch sibling and $5,800 for the mack daddy.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Moore's Law Revitalized by 12-Nanometer Chip-Fabbing Invention [Chips]

Source: http://feeds.gawker.com/~r/gizmodo/full/~3/345642202/moores-law-revitalized-by-12+nanometer-chip+fabbing-invention

A year ago we reported on Intel's nifty technique for 22nm chip fabrication, which may extend the life of Moore's Law. Now MIT is reporting a new technique for optical lithography which should make 12nm chip manufacture possible, making for smaller, denser future chip tech.

By combining laser interference technology with a new "scanning beam" wafer technique, the team at the Space Nanotecnology Lab has demonstrated manufacturing of semiconductor wafers with 25nm detail. And it's easily extendable to 12nm. In the scanning technique, Doppler shifts affect the laser's ability to create accurate patterns, so the clever MIT guys synchronize the wafer under construction by oscillating the laser elements with 100Hz sound waves. Looks like that venerable old law will hold true for a while yet. [EETimes]