Friday, August 24, 2007

The Power of the People

Student’s program sends PR chaos in Wiki-scandal
Thu, 16 August 2007
One American student sent major corporations, governments and even the Vatican on the defensive after coming up with Wikipedia Scanner, a software program that reveals who changed Wikipedia entries. is an online encyclopedia edited by general users, who write articles on every imaginable subject. Since it is written by users, anyone can edit, delete and arrange the articles on Wikipedia.
What Virgil Griffith did was come up with a program that reveals who edits these articles, via a system where it scans the I.P address and cross-references it with the I.P. directory.
As soon as the software was launched on the internet, chaos erupted.
Among many revelations, Wikipedia Scanner reported that:
- Microsoft tried to cover up the XBOX 360 failure rate
- Apple edit Microsoft entries, adding more negative comments about its rival
- Bill Gates revenge? Microsoft edits Apple entries, adding more negative comments about its rival
- The Vatican edits Irish Catholic politician Gerry Adams page
- In the 9/11 Wikipedia article, the NRA added that “Iraq was involved in 9/11”
- Exxon Mobil edits spillages and eco-system destruction from oil spillages article
- FBI edits Guantanamo Bay, removing numerous pictures
- Oil company ChevronTexaco removes informative biodiesel article and deletes a paragraph regarding fines against the company
- Scientology removes criticism and negatives article from Scientology page
- Al Jazeera TV station adds that the foundation of Iraq was just as bad as the Holocaust
- Amnesty International removes negative comments
- Dell Computers deletes negative comments on customer services and removes a passage how the company outsources work to third world countries
- MySpace removes paragraph when their website was hacked
- EA Games deletes whole paragraphs of criticism about employment practices and business methods
- Dog breeding association deletes whole paragraphs about fatal attacks by dogs on humans
- US Republican Party changes the "Post-Saddam" section of the Baath Party article to a different account of the war, changing the language from "US-led occupation" to "US-led liberation"
- Fox News removes all controversial topics against the network from the Fox News page
- News of the World deletes a number of criticism against the paper
- Nestle removes negative comments on its business practices from its page
- UN address calls journalist Oriana Fallaci a racist ‘prostitute’
- Portuguese government removes entries about Prime Minister’s scandals
- DieBold, the company that controversially supplied computerised polling stations in the US elections, removes numerous paragraphs with negative comments
- Walmart removes criticism of outsourcing work. The retailer also changes negative paragraphs of underpaid workforce
- Sony removes harmful paragraphs against blu-ray systems
- Someone at Reuters calls Bush “a mass murderer”
- Coca Cola removes negative content about its effects
- British Conservative Party removes negative references of its MPs and deletes paragraph of the party’s old policies
- US University adds the “prestigious” adjective to its page
- Boeing edits from “Boeing is a leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer” to “Boeing is the leading American aircraft and aerospace manufacturer”
- MSN Search is “a major competitor to Google”. That’s what MSN added to their page
- BBC changes Blair's drink from coffee to vodka and his workout from the gym to the bedroom. Someone from the BBC also changes Bush’s page, changing the name from ”George Walker Bush” to “George Wan*** Bush”
- Someone from The Guardian edits the Wikipedia page of rival newspaper The Times. Originally in the article it is said that The Times sells more than The Guardian. After the edit, The Guardian sells more.
Griffith created the tool to "create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike," he said on his web site. He admitted that it's impossible to be sure if the edits were made by someone working at one of the organizations, although the I.P. address reveals that they were made by someone with access to their network, he says.
Griffith came up with the idea when he "heard about Congressmen being caught for white-washing their Wikipedia pages," he said.

"If the edit occurred during working hours, then we can reasonably assume that the person is either an agent of that company or a guest that was allowed access to their network," he wrote.He said he believes that anonymous speech is important for open projects like Wikipedia. The online encyclopedia works fine today for "noncontroversial topics," he said, but tools like Wikipedia Scanner can help make the site more reliable for controversial topics, he said.


Ordinary Guys Send Picture-Taking Balloon 22.27 Miles High

front117597ft.jpgBehold the view from 117,597 feet, taken on August 11, 2007 by a camera hanging from a helium balloon launched by a group of guys in Alberta, Canada. Called the SABLE-3 (Southern Alberta Balloon Launch Experiment #3), it was packed with a Byonics MicroTrak 300 APRS tracking device, a Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera set to snap one picture per minute, and filled with enough helium to take it to the edge of the earth's atmosphere.

Just 2 1/2 hours later, the balloon reached its pinnacle of 117,597 feet—holy moly, that's 22.27 miles above the earth! At that point, the helium balloon burst and its payload parachuted safely back to Earth, where there were a few recovery teams close enough to see its soft landing. Cool pix, indeed! [SABLE-3]


iPhone unlocked: AT&T loses iPhone exclusivity, August 24, 2007, 12:00PM EDT

It's high noon, Apple and AT&T -- we really hate to break it to you, but the jig is up. Last night the impossible was made possible: right in front of our very eyes we witnessed a full SIM unlock of our iPhone with a small piece of software. It's all over, guys.

The team called us up to prove their claim that they cracked Apple's iPhone SIM lock system, and prove it they did. (No, we don't have a copy of the unlock software, so don't even ask us, ok?) The six-man team has been working non-stop since launch day, and they're officially the first to break Apple's SIM locks on the iPhone. It's done. Seriously. They wouldn't tell us when and how they would release it to the public, but you can certainly bet that they'll try to make a buck on their solution (and rightly so). We can hardly believe the iPhone's finally been cracked. No, scratch that -- we just can't believe it took this long.

Again: we can confirm with 100% certainty that's software solution completely SIM unlocks the iPhone, is restore-resistant, and should make the iPhone fully functional for users outside of the US. Read on for details and links to our video, and check out the gallery of images below.

Notes on the install
  • The unlock process took only a couple of minutes. From our end it was totally painless.
  • Once you put your new, non AT&T SIM in the device, you have to go through the usual activation process. This can, of course, be done by anyone anywhere with the right tools (like iASign or iActivator)
  • We tested with an active T-Mobile SIM -- after the hack was finished and we reactivated we immediately got full bars and the T-Mobile carrier info popped up in the top bar.
  • Everything is otherwise the same, except the menu system now has a couple more options. The root menu has Carrier settings where you can select your preferred network if you don't want to roam.
  • The General -> Network menu now has an EDGE network settings area where you can input your carrier's APN and username / password. We put in our T-Mobile info, and were immediately online. (Apparently these hidden menus were added in the 1.0.1 update, they tell us. How convenient!)
  • Visual voicemail isn't in the cards -- sorry. That was, of course, to be expected because it's a special AT&T network-specific feature right now. When you hit the voicemail button you are taken immediately to your carrier's default voicemail line though, and that works just like it would on any other phone.
  • Everything is confirmed as working on a non-AT&T network: SMS send / receive, internet (including Safari, Mail, Google maps, etc.). YouTube doesn't work out of the box, but that's to be expected. If you're not on AT&T you have to manually activate YouTube -- here's the guide on how to do that. (YouTube is the only app you have to activate like this.)
  • We know, it's kind of crazy, but this isn't a hoax.
  • No, sorry, you can't have our unlocked iPhone.
Restore / upgrade resistance
  • The guys claim this method is restore and upgrade resistant. We have no way of knowing whether Apple will be able to disable this SIM unlock with future iPhone software updates, but we can confirm that it is restore-resistant.
  • We performed a full restore (v1.0.2) on our iPhone and successfully activated it using an inactive AT&T SIM.
  • After fake-activating our iPhone, you merely pop out the AT&T SIM, put in the foreign SIM of your choosing, reactivate, and you're done. "Boom," as Steve might say.
  • Restoring from an iPhone backup in iTunes worked perfectly despite the lock and foreign SIM. The only thing to notice was the phone number is now listed as "n/a" in iTunes. Big whoop.
  • No, seriously. You can't have our unlocked iPhone.
Before you get in a tizzy claiming it's a faked video, please note that:
  • We show the T-Mobile SIM at the beginning and end.
  • The video stream does get cropped toward the end. That's actually just a crop to make sure the phone number on the second iPhone isn't shown. No frames of the video stream were removed, it wasn't a cut.
  • Just so you could be extra sure it's real, we even left in the GSM radio noise.
  • Dude, you can unlock your own iPhone soon, ok? You can't have ours.
[MP4] Download in 720p HD (44MB)
[MP4] Download in wide VGA (14MB)
[AVI] Download in 720p HD (44MB)
[AVI] Download in wide VGA (14MB)


MusicSamplr - music discovery


China's Wistar rolls out A1 PMP

China's Wistar has tossed yet another entry into the flood of PMPs coming out of the country these days, with its new A1 model seemingly doing little to distinguish itself but packing some decent specs all the same. This one keeps things fairly small with a 3-inch, 16:9 display, along with support for MP3, WMA and WAV audio and Xvid video at 320 x 240 and 20fps (DRM9, too). Otherwise, you'll get the usual FM radio and SD card slot, as well as a built-in speaker and microphone, which we presume also means a voice recording feature. No word on what it'll cost, but you (or your company looking to rebrand them) will apparently be able to pick one up in your choice of 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB varieties.

[Via PMP Today]


Future Players: Samsung Shows Off Wild-Ass Flexible Displays

samsung_flexdisplay1.jpgThis is probably more fantasy than reality, but at Samsung's recent "Sdium" showroom in Korea earlier this week, the company was showing off radical-looking models of flexible displays. We especially like the Samsung SDI flexible display shown here, which is apparently rolled up within its two scrolls until you want to watch a cartoonish-looking still of Star Wars. Someday, these screens may actually show moving, color pictures. Take the jump for a look at the technology as it might appear on a bracelet viewing device.

Now that's one bracelet any self-respecting geek wouldn't mind wearing. [AVing]


Princeton's itty bitty USB Bluetooth 2.0+EDR module

Remember that crazy small, RF receiver used with Logitech's VX Nano? Meet the Bluetooth 2.0+EDR equiv, the Princeton's PTM-UBT3S which measures just 19-mm (0.75-inches) long. So yeah, it's small, in fact, it's claimed to be the smallest available in Japan when it ships in September. Whether or not it's the world's smallest is irrelevant as it's surely suitable for full-time laptop or handheld bunging without concern for sheering it off. Yours for ¥2,480 or $21 beans.

[Via Impress]




Thursday, August 23, 2007

Digital Cameras: Olympus Rolls Out Stylus 820, 830 and 1200, a Trio of Pretty, Pocketable Minishooterso

stylii_family_front.jpgOlympus, trying to set a record for the number of cameras introduced in one day, also updated its Stylus line of point-and-shoot cameras with three colorful new models, the 820, 830 and 1200. All of them have what Olympus calls an "all weather" body, image stabilization, shadow adjustment goodness, and now they all have face detection to help you focus on what's really important.

The Stylus 820 is a bargain-priced $249.99, and it has a 2.7-inch viewscreen, a 5x optical zoom and 8-megapixel sensor on board. Spend 80 more bucks ($329.99) and you get an 8-megapixel Stylus 830 that now has dual image stabilization, combining both digital image stabilization (which we haven't been too impressed with on its own) with good old mechanical sensor-shift stabilization. Olympus says this trickery can smooth out camera shake and also somehow reaches out and stabilizes subjects who are moving around a lot. Got kids? Good luck with that. For that wizardry you sacrifice .2 inches on the LCD viewscreen, slightly smaller at 2.5 inches.

That Stylus 830 shares a cool feature with the Stylus 1200, called In-Camera Panorama, just like what was introduced on the Olympus SP-560 UZ. Instead of futzing with putting together all those groups of panoramic shots in an image editing application, this baby can take three pictures for you as you pan across a scene, and then stitches them all together for you right there inside the camera. Neat. That 12-megapixel Stylus 1200, the top of the Stylus group for $349.99, gives you a faster f/2.8 lens (the other two are f/3.5) but for that you have to give up a bit of zoomosity; it packs a 3x optical zoom instead of the 5x of the other two Styli.

All three of these pocket-sized point-and-shooters will be available next month. [Olympus]


Wireless: Plantronics Calisto Pro Can Do Skype, Landline and Cellphone

plantronics.jpg This Plantronics Calisto Pro set takes your standard Bluetooth headset and adds in landline and Skype dialing, which means you get the big three (Skype, home, cell) all in one dorky-looking device. The base station has a USB connector to hook into your PC for Skype and Yahoo calls, a DECT 6.0 handset to handle landline calls, and the headset to connect to both these plus a cellphone. The price for all this convenience while you work at home in your underpants? $279 starting September.


SpiralFrog: Free Music Alive And Hopping

Remember SpiralFrog that free music download service that announced itself nearly a year ago? Well, after slowly releasing invites to Canadians, we received a private beta invitation.

SpiralFrog originally made a splash when they sealed a deal with Universal BMG to give away free downloads of some of their songs in exchange for a share of on-site ad revenue. Later they closed a deal with EMI and have since added a bunch of smaller labels totaling over 700,000 songs. However, now we know a little more about how their free system works.

spiralfrogsmall.pngSongs on SpiralFrog are not ad-supported through interstitial advertising or free in the sense that you can bring them anywhere. Instead, you get DRMed songs (WMA) leased to you for a free 30 day membership (or you can buy on Amazon). You can renew your membership, and the lease to play your songs, by answering survey questions (# concerts per year, how you discover music, etc). All that data helps SpiralFrog know what kind of ads to serve on the site.

To keep the whole system secure, they’ve locked down the download process end to end DRM controls. First you have to get a download manager, and then ensure you have Windows Media Player 9.0 or up. The system is kind of annoying and only works on Windows machines since it uses Microsoft DRM. Although, Microsoft DRM has already been cracked. The DRM requirement also means the songs only play through Windows Media Player, making them unportable. Unlike other DRM setups, though, there doesn’t appear to be a limit to the number of computers you can download to as long as you set SpiralFrog up on them.

Once the system is in place, you can search for artists and download their songs/videos individually. The songs are queued in a download manager and stored locally by artist and album in your SpiralFrog folder. The system seems to have intentionally been crippled so you view more advertising, with downloads happening one at a time and only while on the site. Using the site, I was able to download a bunch of songs and play them with no problem, but other early beta user have had trouble.

I don’t know if SpiralFrog will be able to sustain their business off of on-site advertising and affiliate music sales. A lot of other services are simply going DRM free, not download free. Blogmusik also recently went legit in France, but the US courts and music industry are a lot harder to sway. However, limiting the lease time on the songs means they can continuously tweak what hoops their users need to hop through to keep playing the music they download. For now it may be a simple option if you want a (legal) source of free tunes.


Pantone Your Coffee

Pantone Your Coffee

Posted in Random by Jon at 3:19 pm | Share This
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Ever wonder how dark/light to make your coffee/tea? Ever get a scolding cup of joe thrown in your face by your over zealous boss for not having just the right amount of milk in it?

Well, for £7.50 (around $15) you can color coordinate your morning beverage of choice.

[Product Page] Available in late September


StartUp Profile: SmartSynch


Who: SmartSynch, whose smart meter technology uses broadband networks like AT&T's (T) to connect electricity meters to utilities, expects to bring in $20 million in revenues in 2007. To date, the company has raised $57 million in funding from a long list of investors including Nth Power, JP Morgan Partners, Siemens Venture Capital, and Duke Ventures. CEO Stephen Johnston said SmartSynch isn't looking to raise more funds just yet, but that it will be aiming for another round in six to 12 months.

Why: The established "smart grid' cleantech company is hardly a startup anymore, but that doesn't mean it isn't still trying to innovate. In February, SmartSynch started selling a residential version of one of its meters that is already being used by 10 utility customers (check with your utility and see if they offer it). Next year, the company plans to add a wireless local area network (LAN) chip into the meter (probably ZigBee) so utilities could possibly monitor and even turn off specific networked appliances such as pool pumps or a thermostat. Kind of like Mom and Dad Utility turning off your lights for you.

What: Smart meters and smart grid technology are important because the electricity grid is one of the most unintelligent networks around. To get the grid to be smarter, more robust, equipped with 2-way connections and able to work with supply and demand, billions of dollars of investment will be made into intelligent grid technology over the next decade.

SmartSynch uses IP-based networks like AT&T's or even muniFi networks, which the company says costs less, is more easily upgradable and just generally makes more sense than other systems, which use proprietary networks. Companies like Eka Systems and Trilliant Networks use wireless mesh to do metering.

Where: Jackson, Miss.

When: The company was founded in 2000.


ImageTrail - google adwords inside search results

Looks kinda desperate for a viable revenue model


Interior Design: Light-Emitting Wallpaper Does Just What it Says

jonas_samson_led_wallpaper.jpgI can't tell you much about this wallpaper, except for that I think it rules the school. It's basically a two-dimensional light source that switches on and off. Please, someone put Jonas Samson's idea into practice, because I'd have no hesitation in putting this up in my bedroom. Just one question, though: does it come in a roll? [Design Scoops]


Mempile's TeraDisc fits 1TB on a single optical disc

We've heard a lot of talk about the death of optical media, but for inexpensive high-capacity storage, it's pretty hard to beat -- which is why the TeraDisc, from Israel's Mempile, look like it has such promise. Eschewing the reflectivity principles in current optical media entirely, the TeraDisc system uses light-sensitive molecules called chromophores to create hologram-like matrices that can be used to store a full terabyte of data on a single disc using a red laser -- and Mempile says that an eventual transition to a blue laser system will enable storage capacities of up to 5TB. The company is hoping to get a prototype ready in 18 months, and plans to ship the first version a year after that, priced around $3,000 for the drive and $30-60 for a 600GB disc. No word on the price of those 1TB discs, but you can bet they won't be cheap.

Read - Mempile website
Read - In-depth article about TeraDisc at The Future of Things


iPhone Safari does NOT support Flash (of ANY flavor)


scroll down to near the bottom

Unsupported Technologies

You’ll want to avoid using Flash and Java for iPhone content. You’ll also want to avoid encouraging users from downloading the latest Flash to their iPhone, because neither Flash nor downloads are supported by Safari on iPhone.

Safari on iPhone does not support:

  • window.showModalDialog()
  • Mouse-over events
  • Hover styles
  • Tool tips
  • Java applets
  • Flash
  • Plug-in installation
  • Custom x.509 certificates


Rubik's Cube solvable in 26 moves or less

David Pescovitz: No matter how scrambled a Rubik's Cube may be, it can be solved in 26 moves or fewer -- by a supercomputer anyway. The previous record was 27 moves, but Northeastern University computer science grad student Daniel Kunkle and his advisor Gene Cooperman developed new algorithms to save a step in the process and optimize the problem for a supercomputer. Their next step is to bring the magic number down to 25, which is still 5 more than the minimum number of steps that most researchers believe is possible. From Science News:
After 63 hours of calculation, the supercomputer found that it took no more than 16 steps to turn any random configuration into a special configuration that can be solved using only half-turns. And since those special puzzles can be solved in no more than 13 steps, this approach showed that 29 steps were enough to solve any Rubik's Cube.

But this answer wasn't good enough to set a new record. Last year, Silviu Radu of the Lund Institute of Technology in Sweden showed that any Rubik's Cube can be solved in no more than 27 steps. Kunkle and Cooperman realized that to set a new record, they would need to eliminate three steps.

Their existing method had established that all but about 80 million sets of configurations could be solved in 26 steps or fewer. By searching through all possible moves starting from those relatively few configurations, they succeeded in finding a solution for each one that took 26 steps or fewer.

Previously on BB:
• Video of tot solving Rubik's Cube Link
• Table shaped like huge Rubik's Cube Link
• Michel Gondry solves Rubik's Cube with feet Link


500 Web APIs

1001MashupsWith this week’s addition of Google’s latest APIs we now have an even 500 APIs cataloged. Over the past two years this list has grown 10 fold from the original 50 we had listed in 2005. And connected to these are 2250 mashups built using hundreds of API combinations.

Using our Top APIs for Mashups pie chart you get a sense of which APIs have been mostly frequently used in our mashup sample with the top 10 APIs being Google Maps, Flickr, Amazon, YouTube, VirtualEarth, Yahoo Maps, eBay, 411Sync, and Yahoo. You can get a sense of this by viewing our directory of APIs by Mashup Count.


If you view them sorted by category here’s the breakdown of those categories with the most competing APIs (top 20 categories):

If you want to get a sense of which major providers offer the most APIs, check API Scorecard.


WEB OS RUNDOWN: 45+ Web Operating Systems

August 22, 2007 — 09:42 PM PDT — by Andrew MinShare This


Facebook wants to be the operating system for the web, it says, and this week’s changes to its email system are a tiny part of that puzzle. But there are many more web operating systems hoping to bring all your usual desktop applications online in one place. Some replicate the entire desktop, while others are startpages with info from around the web - here are more than 45 of our favorites.

Remotely Hosted WebOS

  • AstraNOS - Picture Windows 98. Then picture an OS X dock. Then picture a night sky. Then throw them all together. You now have a pretty good picture of AstraNOS.
  • BeDesk - Basic wrapper for other online tools.
  • cmyOS - Free hosted webtop powered by eyeOS.
  • Desktoptwo - Not only do you get 1GB of space, you get a fully-featured suite. No, not a basic online editor that has simple formatting options. The full 2.0 suite from Sun, converted into a Java applet.
  • DoxBoard - Slick WebOS with some basic features.
  • GCOE X - Nice WebOS with a powerful terminal and support for the iPhone.
  • eyeOS - Beautiful webtop powered by the eyeOS software.
  • Glide - Online operating system with support for BlackBerry, Palm, Windows Mobile, Symbian and iPhone users.
  • - With 3GB of space, FTP access, and Zoho Office support, what’s not to like?
  • goowy - Great webtop with your own email account (, IM, 1GB of space (via, and much more.
  • jooce - Slick invite-only online OS.
  • mybooo - Invite-only webtop with a ton of features.
  • myGoya - Nice WebOS with PIM features, a media player, and much more.
  • OOS - Basic online operating system that offers a personal webpage.
  • Parakey - Not much is known about Blake Ross’s newest invention, but we do know that Facebook liked it enough to purchase it for an undisclosed sum.
  • Psych Desktop - GPLed webtop with a powerful UNIX-like console.
  • Purefect Desktop - Web desktop with a powerful IDE.
  • SSOE - Flash-based webtop a lot of features.
  • StartForce - Powerful WebOS with tons of apps and features makes the descendant of Orca Desktop a hit.
  • Xindesk - File sync, a powerful API, and much more are included in this great WebOS.
  • Webdesk - This Indian webtop includes 1GB of space, POP3 client, PIM, and a nice modules API.
  • Webdows - We don’t know how long it will take Microsoft to sue these guys, but it’s a real enjoyment in the meantime. It has XP and Vista styles (including a few Vista effects), FTP, file sharing, IM, and much more.
  • Widgets Gadgets - AJAX desktop with tons of apps and a working API.
  • YouOS - File sharing, powerful shell, and 700+ applications are all available with this wildly popular operating system.
  • ZimDesk - Slick WebOS with tons of apps.

Self-Hosted WebOS

  • eyeOS - One of the most popular webtops on the planet, eyeOS boasts tons of apps, a booming community, and a lot more features.
  • Fenestela - There’s still quite a few bugs to be ironed out in this French WebOS, but you get a cool XP interface and basic PHP apps.
  • Psych Desktop - GPLed desktop with a powerful UNIX-like console.
  • Purefect Desktop - Web desktop with a powerful IDE.
  • Virtual-OS - Includes powerful API, web server sync, forum integration, and offline AJAX support.
  • ZKDesktop - Powerful open source Java-based WebOS.

Remote Desktops

  • DesktopOnDemand - A fully featured Linux-based desktop with Gnome, Gaim, AbiWord, Evolution, GIMP, WebDAV, VNC, web login, and much more.
  • Free Live OS Zoo - Java applet
  • Nivio - Subscription-based ($12.99/month) service that offers Windows XP, Adobe Reader, iTunes, Google Talk/aMSN/Windows Live Messenger,, Thunderbird, Nvu, and much more. All through a Java-based web interface.



See also: 14 Personalized Homepages Compared, Feature by Feature

  • Favoor - Basic startpage with a nice folder option.
  • iGoogle (formerly Google IG) - Great startpage with the most amount of apps I’ve seen for a portal.
  • iStyled - Simple startpage with basic customization.
  • - Customizable page with basic features.
  • (formerly - Basic news page backed by Microsoft.
  • My Yahoo! - Yahoo!’s entry into the startpage market isn’t bad: it offers news, Yahoo! Mail notification, podcasts, videos, and photo galleries to your startpage.
  • Netvibes - There’s a reason everyone uses Netvibes. It has tons of apps, tabs, skins, and a great interface.
  • Pageflakes - Popular, easy-to-use page with a simple interface.
  • Schmedley - Powerful startpage with tons of features.
  • Webwag - The main appeal here isn’t the widget on demand feature (a quick way to build a widget for the site of your choice), the toolbar, the apps, or the content directory. It’s the External widget feature, which allows you to convert and add Netvibes and iGoogle widgets to your Webwag page.
  • Widgetop - Nice looking AJAX start page.
  • yourminis - Great start page with tons of apps and a bunch of skins by the creator of goowy.

For more in-depth reviews, check out 10 Web Operating Systems Reviewed over on FranticIndustries.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Design Concept: Tilting Vase Lets You Know When It Needs Water


If you have trouble remembering when to water your plants, you might be interested in this self-tilting vase design concept that gets horizontal when its plant gets thirsty. Once it's properly hydrated, this pewter container stands up—albeit at a somewhat tilted angle—held up by the weight of the water within. Simple, yet elegant. [Yanko Design]


NEW Zune for $149 on Woot, took a disappointing 21 hrs to sell out


VideoEgg SNIPES At YouTube: Who Thunk It First? Maybe Old TV Guys

YouTube last night said it’s offering a new kind of embedded in-video advertising that’s going to help its parent company, Google (GOOG), and its media partners make money off what has thus far been a fallow field — online video.

YouTube’s in-video advertising techniques have resulted in many pointing out that VideoEgg, a San Francisco-based startup that goes through identity changes more often The Talented Mr. Ripley has already offered these kinds of ads. (It’s a Facebook-ad network now!)

VideoEgg is “welcoming” YouTube to the party, pointing out that Google’s YouTube is imitating them. That’s nothing new, however. The text-links-as-ads were someone else’s idea, too, but Google ended up making billions off of it. Nevertheless, it is interesting to point out that the source of inspiration for the in-video ads of both VideoEgg and YouTube is actually a business they are both trying to take to the cleaners: broadcast and cable television.

If you watch baseball games on Fox or some of the cable networks like TBS, they use a technique (known as “snipes” in broadcast lingo) in which a promotional ad is overlaid on top of the regular broadcast stream. GE Co. (GE), parent of NBC, has a patent (United States Patent 20070143786) that talks about advertising based on this methodology.

A technique is provided for advertising. The technique includes a combining of two or more video streams to form a unified video stream and broadcasting the unified video stream. At least one of the two or more video streams is a program content stream comprising program content that is filmed by a camera and at least one of the two or more video streams is an advertisement material stream comprising advertisement material.
Does this patent apply to Internet video? I am not sure, but if it does – oh boy, have we got trouble. Wired News’ Epicenter blog also points to patents filed by VideoEgg. Interestingly, this whole issue might end up becoming a patent nightmare


Stade de Suisse becomes "world's largest" solar stadium

Bern's Stade de Suisse stadium was already a pretty impressive example of solar power, with 7,930 solar modules soaking up the rays, but a recent addition of 2,808 more solar modules from Japan's Kyocera looks to have been enough to earn it some new bragging rights as the "world's largest stadium-integrated photovoltaic system." With the new modules up and running, the stadium now boasts an overall power output of 1,346.774 kWp, or 1,134,045 kWh per year, which is apparently the equivalent of 350 four-person households. While that's certainly impressive as far stadiums go, it's far from the largest solar power project around, some of which are even aiming to power entire cities. [Via MetaEfficient]


Anonymous Chinese Bloggers May Become Extinct Very Soon

chinese bloggers

"Don't spread rumours online. Delete bad comments immediately. Don't write about porn. Be sensitive to other nationalities, races, religions and cultural customs." - if you agree to all these conditions, you are welcome to write a blog in China.

The Chinese Government has asked blog companies to sign a "self-discipline pledge" that encourages bloggers in China to register using their real name, email, phone number and other contact information.

This directive is likely to become effective very soon as most blog providers in China have already agreed to sign the pledge meaning if any blogger in China were to use their service for writing a blog, he or she will be have share his contact information.

Surprisingly, China already has over 30 million registered bloggers.


Seagate patent decision could prompt more settlements

Source: Financial Week

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears most of the country's appeals of patent litigation, provided a new precedent for attorney-client privilege in patent lawsuits late yesterday. The decision is likely to make it more difficult for plantiffs to prove infringement and thus lead to more settlements, according to patent attorneys.

The ruling came in a closely watched intellectual property case involving a suit filed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and private technology company Convolve against disk-drive manufacturer Seagate Technology in 2000 for patent infringement.

The decision was not about the underlying patent and whether or not Seagate infringed on it, but rather the definition of willful infringement and the extent of attorney-client privilege in patent cases.

When the court agreed to take the case in January, it announced that it would hear it "en banc." In other words, all ten judges on the appeals court would hear the case as opposed to the customary panel of three. "The court recognized that this was a very important issue, and they had to consider it as a full court," said Charles Barquist, a patent litigation partner with Morrison & Foerster, based in Los Angeles. Mr. Barquist, along with several colleagues, filed an amicus brief in support of Seagate's position.

The issue was whether Seagate should be forced to hand over communications with its trial lawyers to the plaintiffs in the case. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District ruled that the company did have to, which prompted Seagate to file its appeal.

The appeals court indicated it would also review its 1983 decision in a case known as Underwater Devices that established a standard for individuals and companies regarding patent infringement. That decision stated that parties had a duty of care to make sure that they weren't infringing on a patent. If they didn't meet that duty of care, they could be charged with willful infringement, which carries treble damages. In practice, that meant getting a legal opinion.

In the Seagate case, plaintiffs argued that Seagate waived its attorney-client privilege by turning over the opinion from separate counsel on the matter in question. It demanded that all communications between the company and its trial lawyers on the matter should also be disclosed. The district court agreed, at which point Seagate appealed.

The appeals court not only overturned the lower court's decision on the waiver of privilege issue, it also raised the bar for proving willfulness on the part of the defendant. Plaintiffs must now prove "objective recklessness" by defendants rather than just a failure to take due care.

"The new standard won't change the frequency with which willfulness is alleged, but it will be harder to prove," said Mr. Barquist. "It may facilitate more settlements too, as plaintiffs develop more moderate expectations."


Google Adds Embedding To Google Maps

Google announced the addition of YouTube style embedding to Google Maps this morning.

Google Map mashups have been popular for a long time now, however for the non-programming inclined including a Google Map on a blog or website hasn’t always been easy. The new embed feature (as above) now provides an easy way for anyone to include an active map on their site.

Embedded maps can be customized in terms of size and can also include driving directions, search results, or a user generated map.


BlogMusik To Go Legit; Launches Free & Legal Music On Demand

Back in September last year Michael suggested everyone check out BlogMusik quickly before it was shut down. BlogMusik is a service born in France that lets you search for mp3 files on the web and listen to them in streaming mode for free. At the time the service was young and had no particular licensing agreements. A few months later, the SACEM, the organization in charge of collecting payments for artists’ rights sent them a cease and desist letter with a view to stop the service. A lot has happened since (beyond a rather nice site redesign and addition of sharing features).

BlogMusik will announce tomorrow that they came to an agreement with the SACEM, clearing the service of copyright infrigement accusations. The details of this agreement are not are not being disclosed, but other deals suggest it is based on a revenue sharing mode. BlogMusik’s business model is relying on advertising and affiliate revenue coming from the sales of songs on iTunes and Amazon. This agreement should cover BlogMusik for any music they host wherever the music is listened from. However they still have to come to an agreement with organizations representing majors and labels (Pandora had to face new webradio rates imposed by the RIAA). This is being taken care of according to the CEO of the company and new agreements should be announced soon.

All in all this is a good news for BlogMusik The company now has an opportunity to become a true free legal alternative to listen to music on the internet. Unlike Pandora this is a music on demand service where you choose the titles you want to listen to (although you have a smart playlist option to generate automatically radios out of a song or an artist). will also change name and become This is a good thing i had a hard time getting the UR/nameL right with this “k” in the middle (not mentionning the .net). RadioBlogClub, another popular french service was forced a few months ago to change hosting provider following a complaint sent by the same SACEM. The service was interupted a few days and opened again as fresh as new. To date no official licensing agreement was made with the company.


It's Full Of Stars: Google Conquers the Stars After Fully Invading Earth

google-sky.jpgAfter taking over planet Earth Google is all over the stars like James T. Kirk on blonde alien chicks: they just added a new option to watch the skies in Google Earth. We tried it and it's quite good, even if some of the photos don't smoothly blend into each other. The search works great and they even have a time lapse mode to watch planet movements in relation to the stars. Go get it at Warp 9. [Google Earth]