Friday, November 09, 2007

Google gas pumps: the savior of lost men

from Engadget by

Soon, you will never have to admit that you're lost and suffer the humiliation of asking for directions. Google is expected to announce a partnership today with Gilbarco Veeder-Root, to include Google's mapping service on 3,500 Internet enabled gasoline pumps across the US. The maps will be available on the pump's small screen giving motorists the ability to scroll through local landmarks, hotels, restaurants, and hospitals to the bemusement of the guy waiting behind you. The pump will even print directions. The service is said to be ad-free but will offer coupons -- that sounds a lot like advertising to us. Look for the gPumps to arrive courtesy of that Encore S rig pictured above.


SlySoft's latest AnyDVD beta cracks BD+

Filed under: ,

Regardless of what those oh-so-knowledgeable analysts had to say, we all knew this day was coming. Yep, that highly-touted, totally "impenetrable" copy protection technology known as BD+ has officially been brought to its knees, and it's not at all surprising to hear that we have SlySoft to thank. The AnyDVD beta has quite a comical change log too, and aside from noting that users now have the ability to backup their BD+ movies and watch titles sans the need for HDCP-compliant equipment, it also includes a candid note to Twentieth Century Fox informing the studio that its prior assumptions about BD+'s effectiveness were apparently incorrect. You know the drill, hit the read link below to try 'er out. [Thanks, Aaron]


Water Pistol Umbrella Makes the Rain a Hell of a Lot More Fun [Brilliance]

gunumbrella1.gifHoly crap, this is the coolest umbrella I've ever seen. It's got a little funnel at the top that sends rain water down the handle into the water pistol grip at the bottom. It'll keep you dry and give you the opportunity to get others wet at the same time. It appears to be just a concept at the moment, but someone needs to make some phone calls and get it into production right now. I'm not kidding, go. Now. Check a picture of it in action after the jump.

gunumbrella2.jpg[Product Page via]


Cyber-Rain XCI Waters Your Lawn When The Internet Commands It [Going Green]

cyber_rain.jpgI love green technology, especially when it doesn't involve me lifting so much as a finger. With the Cyber-Rain XCI, you can take control of your sprinkler system across eight zones and help conserve water and a little cash at the same time. Via a wireless connection with your PC, the Cyber-Rain can make adjustments to scheduled watering times using current weather data.

If the forecast looks like rain, the unit is smart enough to suspend operations. It can even optimize its schedule based on the changing seasons. And the best part is that it isn't as expensive as you might expect. If you already have an irrigation system in place, Cyber-Rain can be added for only $295. So it may actually pay for itself in a short amount of time. [Product Page via GTW via Sci Fi Tech]


Facebook’s New Ad Platform Illegal?

facebooklogo7.gif We've already seen a backlash against Facebook's Social Ads platform, however something far more serious may get in the way of Mark Zuckerberg's quest for social networking domination.

According to the NY Times, Facebook's Social Ad platform may be illegal in New York under a 100 year old privacy law that states that "any person whose name, portrait, picture, or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without the written consent first obtained" can sue for damages, and doing so is a criminal misdemeanor.

Facebook unsurprisingly are suggesting this isn't the case, arguing that William McGeveran, the professor at the University of Minnesota Law School who came to the illegality conclusion, is taking the law too broadly. Facebook say that it would be difficult for someone used in these ads to argue against the use given they will have already identified themselves publicly, implying consent.

Whilst the lawyers can sort out the legality of Facebook's advertising program now, the real risk for Facebook is that given the growing backlash certain jurisdictions may enact laws that outlaw Facebook's program. Concern about privacy online isn't new; who doesn't remember the Government mudslinging when Google launched Gmail. The question is whether States or even the United States Government will care enough to do something about it. The chances are unlikely; law makers are far too busy trying to pass laws that would see the US Government sue Bit Torrent users to care about the privacy of those very users, but you never know.


Apple posts iPod touch 1.1.2 update -- already hacked

As you'd expect, Apple has released version 1.1.2 of the iPod touch firmware hot on the jailbreak-breaking heels of its iPhone update. Early reports on MacRumors indicate a new "Add Event" functionality in the Calendar -- something that should have been included in v 1.0. Anyone else getting dirty with the firmware who wants to share changes? We'll keep you updated of course as this and the iPhone 1.1.2 status develops.

Update: Whoa, TUAW's in-house hacker -- Erica Sadun -- is reporting that v1.1.2 is already hacked on the iPod touch. That bodes well for opening up your new UK and German iPhone, eh readers? Oh, and that's a screenshot up there -- proof of the deed since that functionality is only available from your friendly third party development community.

Download - iPod1,1_1.1.2_3B48b_Restore.ipsw, 158MB


iPod Touch 1.1.2 Firmware Kinda Out [Apple]

calendar-ipod.jpgMacRumors is reporting that the iPod Touch firmware is out for some via iTunes, and it's main improvement is the added ability to create calendar appointments. Apple previously called this a bug, but in my opinion its more likely that Apple heard the complaints and added the functionality back. (The image shows old firmware's calendar.)[MacRumors]


HOWTO make a speaker out of a magnet, a cup, legos and wire

This homebrew speaker was hacked together from some legos, wire, magnets and a plastic cup -- according to the build-log, it "performs very well"! I didn't expect a high quality of the sound from this made-from-scratch speaker but it performs very well, better than I expected.

A speaker is just a magnet, a coil, frame and a cone or any material that can make the air vibrate. Here is the bill of materials that I used to build this speaker:

# List of materials 1 Magnet (neodymium magnet works great) # 1 Business card # Wire 32 or 34 AWG (you may use 30AWG) # Paper bond # Tape # Glue # Scissors # Ballpoint pen # Lego bricks or wood. # Ruler.


Blockbuster Planning In-Store Movie Download Kiosks [Backwards]

blockbusted.jpgBlockbuster really is falling back hard on its B&M outlets, so hard they're missing half the point of digital distribution, which is not having to drive to the store to grab a movie. Part of their revival plan is to install kiosks at B&M stores where you can download movies straight to your portable media player. Awesome! Except that I have one of those at my house: a computer.

I wouldn't really call having to trudge all the way to a Blockbuster location to jack my iPod or whatever player into a big blue box to download a movie "bypassing the need for...transferring videos from a computer." It takes the worst aspect of each form of distribution—leaving your easy chair and middling quality video that's not easy to throw up on my TV—and combines them into one totally not ideal experience. Better idea on Blockbuster's part: integrating MovieLink's direct download store with the Blockbuster site and services. That's the way digital distribution is supposed to work. If I come to your store, I expect to walk out with a piece of shiny plastic. [Electronista, Flickr]


Eee PC heads to the desktop in 2008

Like your Eee PC do ya? Good, how about a desktop version to go with it? With the unexpected success of their new ultra-portable, Asus is looking to RAZR that momentum with a desktop version of the Eee PC. Jonathan Tseng, Asus president of marketing, says that the new Eee -- Easy to learn, Easy to play, Easy to Work -- will launch in 2008. Good news for us consumers but likely unwelcome tattle for Redmond. As you may have noticed, the recent onslaught of low-cost, low-powered, low-priced (Lll?) PCs are all Linux-happy slabs in order to avoid those heavy Microsoft licensing fees .




Thursday, November 08, 2007

New Earth, Home Wind Maker Raising Cash

newearth1.jpg New Earth makes the prettiest small-scale wind turbine on the market — its vertical-axis design uses a double helix to capture wind energy. And the San Diego-based startup is raising money to get its eye-catching product out there. New Earth CEO Ian Gardner tells us that the company is looking to raise a series A round "in the neighborhood of $3 million to $5 million."

New Earth's 2- and 5-kilowatt turbines, sold under the Savonious brand name, are small and designed for the urban and home environment. Think of them as the Mini Cooper of wind turbines. We first read about New Earth when EcoGeek wrote about how the turbine could halve a home's energy bill.

New Earth's systems are just reaching commercialization — the company "soft-launched" in September and its first turbine was only installed in July. But Gardner tells us that already the company has "a pipeline of orders approaching seven figures in revenue," and they "should be delivering on that pipeline in early '08."

The official web site doesn't list a price but, if you trust crowdsourcing, an informative Digg commenter claimed the systems range from $6,500 to $16,500.

There's plenty of competition in the home wind power space. Southwest Wind Power, manufacturers of the Skystream turbines, has received investment from the likes of Denver's Altira Group and Chevron's (CVX) venture capital arm.

Home wind systems works well for off-grid, rural, and even suburban homes, but, despite a few rare exceptions, it's difficult to find turbines installed in the urban settings in which most people live. The fact of the matter is that they are big and quite difficult to install.

Still, wind power is an important part of a future in which distributed energy is a major component of electricity generation. Finding a solution for wind power in urban settings is a good goal, and the first step is bringing turbines to market that have a form factor that can work for cities and the urban cohorts most likely to adopt the technologies.


Zipit Z2 Wireless Messenger Lets Teens IM For Free (Gallery) [Gadgets]

Zipit Wireless introduced its second stab at instant messaging without needing a computer with the Z2. The flip-open handheld device allows teens to IM their pals over Wi-Fi and supports AOL, MSN and Yahoo instant messaging services without any monthly fees. Kids can also sideload photos and their favorite tunes through the miniSD slot, or stream music directly from the internet. The Z2 will set you back $150, and according Zipit reps, will be available in the next few weeks. [Zipit Wireless]


Bluetooth Lanyard Keeps Cables at Bay, Stores Earphones [Design Concept]

headphone_holder.jpgAre your earphone cables always in auto-tangle mode? Here's a good idea from designer Jaehyung Hong: a Bluetooth lanyard with transport controls on board, letting you control your MP3 player while you're listening, and then store your earphones in its handy slot when you're not. Roll those messy cables up inside the device, keeping that spaghetti bowl of wires from tangling up so much. Neat. [Yanko Design]


Pacific Defence Pen Doubles As James Bond Bluetooth Camcorder [Penmanship]

Pacific_Defence_Camcorder_Pen.jpgThis working pen is ridiculously awesome, if you believe the uncorroborated early reports:
• At under 6 inches long and just a half inch thick, it records 320x240 video at 30fps, even in low light.
• You can set it to start recording video when it detects motion, or recording audio when it hears a sound.
• It takes MicroSD flash cards, and can transfer video wirelessly via Bluetooth.
• You can program it to send an alarm wirelessly to a "remote location."
Gizmag warns "some specs may be altered before final release"—I'm more concerned that there's no mention of it on Pacific Defence's website. [ Gizmag]


Nokia Successfully Tests 100Mbps Wireless Data Network [Wireless]

Nokia_Aeon_with_Antenna.jpg Today Nokia said that in technical trials, the target of 100Mbps download speed and 50Mbps upload speed for its next-gen cellular data network "can be met," and promised initial deployment by 2010. Americans probably won't see it until later, since the 3GPP LTE (don't ask) initiative has more momentum across the Atlantic. The founding members are all Euros, though some Asian companies just joined in, including LG Electronics, NTT DoCoMo and Samsung. Still, it's grounds for excitement, since those superfast wireless data rates will get here sooner or later. (FYI: The phone pictured is Nokia's concept Aeon, and no, that's not a real 100Mbps antenna.) [Gadget Lab]


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Is Facebook Beacon a Privacy Nightmare?

Mark Zuckerberg & Co. stood up in front of the advertising community in New York today and unveiled Facebook Ads, an ad system that allows companies to use the Facebook social graph and to develop highly targeted ads. Large brands such as Coca-Cola (KO), Sony Pictures (SNE) and Verizon (VZ) have signed on for this effort. Part of the engine powering this new ad system is called Beacon, which takes data from 44 web destinations and mashes it up with Facebook's internal information to help build more focused advertising messages.

While it seems to be a clever idea, a quick review reveals that Beacon might turn out to be a privacy hairball for the company.

The 44 sites that have partnered with Facebook include everyone from Kongregate, LiveJournal, NYTimes (NYT), Sony Online, Blockbuster (BBI),, STA Travel, The Knot, TripAdvisor, Travel Ticker, TypePad, viagogo, Vox, Yelp, and

These partner sites put a little a piece of Facebook javascript on their web site and certain information, cleverly (and innocuously) labeled as a user alert, is sent to Facebook. For instance, Fandago users can publish information about the movies they saw. It all seems like a clever idea because it lets Facebook triangulate your likes and dislikes even more, and deliver more focused ads.

Facebook Beacon provides advanced privacy controls so Facebook users can decide whether to distribute specific actions from participating sites with their friends.

Reading that line prompted the following questions, which I put to Facebook:

  1. Can consumers opt out of this?
  2. If yes, does their data get erased?
  3. Will the sites for example, Fandango, stop sending all personal and any kind of information to Facebook once the user opts out?
  4. Why didn't they make this an opt-in feature, instead of being an opt-out feature?

Their PR spokesperson emailed me this response:

Users can opt-out of Beacon on a per-site basis. They can opt-out for each action, or they can opt-out to never have an affiliated site send stories to Facebook. For instance, a user that buys The Notebook from Blockbuster can stop a story from being published about it, or she can opt-out of having Blockbuster publish any actions she takes on the Blockbuster site.

The response doesn't seem to answer my questions and basically makes it seem like users have control over this data, when in reality, this is a privacy disaster waiting to happen. The javascript on the Fandango site pops up a little screen which asks if you want to publish the information on Facebook. If you say no, your friends won't see the information, but apparently Facebook still receives it. This means that if you are a Facebook member, Facebook will know what you are doing on each of their partner sites. And there is no way for you to opt out of that. Or is there? I asked Facebook to clarify and I am still waiting for them to write back.

As for the rest of their announcement, while long and elaborate, it doesn't contain any information we haven't already seen. MySpace (NWS) has been doing brand specific-pages for a while now, in addition to using other targeting techniques.


great article from Forrester

Augustine: Facebook's method is right and it's the next thing after Adwords.

Why Hyper Targeting, Social Ads and rise of the "Fan-Sumer" matter to brands

Both Facebook and MySpace have launched profile and network targeted advertising and marketing products.  As they both use member interests and the communities which they are part of, trust continues to become key in adoption as information is passed along the network.  The sheer size of MySpace's member base, as well as the thriving local business membership will lead to success.  Facebook, which brings a unique solution evolves advertisements to endorsements and encourages members to subscribe to a brand in what we are calling "Fan-Sumers" (an evolution of the consumer).  As consumers share their affinities, brands can advertise using trusted social relationships.

Data: Highest trust comes from friends or acquaintances

(Left Graph: Consumers trust their friends and acquaintances far more than any other sources --Forrester Research, 2007) Trust is and will continue to be one of the most important attributes in the decision making process. 

Communities form online, trust develops How we get information continues to evolve as communities form online organized by individuals with similar interests.  Just like in real life, we identify our interests, and are often influenced by opinions and experiences of trusted peers in our communities.  For many, social networking sites embody these relationships and influence how trusted decisions are made.

MySpace: Brands have a home and can hyper-target ads The already active MySpace platform is leveraging their already active member profile pages, encouraging the many small and medium businesses to setup a online storefront and providing tools to make it easy to self-serve advertisements to their customers.  It's easy to make the case that demand and inventory are present.

[Brands can now self-serve a targeted marketing and advertising campaign within the already thriving MySpace community]

Webmaster not needed: MySpace profile for businesses Small businesses can continue to build their online profile on MySpace (many of them already have), but now, because of their familiarity with self-marketing (restaurant, nightclub, and other local businesses and their customers) on Myspace.

Self-service ads remove middle man When friction is removed, efficiency is created.  With MySpace's "Self-Service" ad network small businesses can target ads across a variety of affinities (over 300) and deploy ads on users' profile pages.  These ads, which should (by theory) be relevant and contextual to a user who has self-populated their profile page will have these ads displayed.

Advertising balance required in already busy MySpace With marketers already with a strong presence in MySpace this could continue to erode away at early adopter "cool kids" from embracing MySpace.  But as cycles have shown, where communities form, marketers follow.

User experience continues to be free-form  These ads, which will conform to IAB advertising standards (sizes) will give advertisers the freedom to create the ads in the style accustomed to the network. Yes, expect more blinking text.

To watch: OpenSocial As OpenSocial starts to be deployed across MySpace and other partners, expect profile ads to be tied to widgets and vice versa; a fabric of links.  I've already outlined How to explain OpenSocial to your executives.

Inaccurate user profiles could result in mis-targeting of ads We know that many members do not make their profiles accurate which could yield inconsistencies in how and where ads are displayed.  While MySpace has assured they're accounting for rogue outliers, expect some inefficiencies in advertisements.

Our Call: Sheer mass will yield successWe think this to be a win for MySpace, given their great reach, there are millions of users with active profiles, and there's also plenty of inventory as many small and local businesses that are present will be comfortable deploying ads where their community already exists.

Facebook: Rise of the Fan-Sumer Going beyond just profile matching of advertisements, Facebook allows consumers to self-identify with brands and becoming fans.  In turn, brands can use these "Fan-Sumers" as endorsers to their own trusted networks, resulting in trusted word-of-mouth.  Brands can also self-manage their own campaigns, and there's some unique opportunities for eCommerce widgets or applications to be part of this formula.

[Using Facebook, consumers will publicly endorse brands, resulting in the birth of the "Fan-Sumer", resulting in efficient word-of-mouth marketing in their trusted network]

There are three major components to today's announcement, they include the following:

1) Facebook Pages: Brands get their own profile For the first time, businesses will legitimately be able to setup profile pages, much like MySpace's business profiles feature. Next, Facebook members will add these brands as 'fans' (much like friends) and this will produce a connection between the parties. Members will self-identify with brands in what we are calling "Fan-Sumers".  Furthermore, this service, called "Beacon" gives third parties the ability to share information on the newsfeed and provides lots of unique opportunities. Sponsored groups will start to evolve into this new form brand profile as this system gets adopted.

2) SocialAds: Endorsements at the friend level lead to eCommerce Once a member has indicated they are a fan of a brand, that brand can choose to purchase SocialAds (from Facebook Sales or via a self-service platform).  A unique endorsement of a product or brand will now appear on that individuals news feed or banner or skyscraper ads. Advertisers can purchase social ads target by profile demographics and profiles, as well as by activities done in Facebook.  Payment is an auction-based system available to marketers via both CPM and CPC pricing.

3) Use "Insight" for control and flexibility This self-service dashboard called Insight gives the marketer detailed knowledge how their advertising campaign is working on Facebook.  It's expected that advertisers will have flexibility, control over the type of ads they deploy, in what quantity, and the demographics they want to target.

A likely scenario: Shauna, who enjoys Revlon products, indicates she's a fan of the brand and becomes a Fan-Sumer.  Marketers at Revlon can then purchase SocialAds, which will then display on Shauna's newsfeed or on ads on her profile.  If Shauna purchases Revlon makeup from Amazon, her newsfeed could indicate an eCommerce links recommending it to her 100 trusted friends, resulting in further sales.

[The traditional marketing funnel as we know it is distorted; endorsements are now passed from trusted customers to prospects, not direct from the brands themselves]

Implications for Facebook:

Members have more control over ads Facebook users can opt to turn off social ads, and friends of that user can 'dial down' endorsements they see using preferences.  We believe that Facebook is attempting to respect the rights of users by giving control to members to 'opt-in' to become a Fan-Sumer.

Quest for Fans will cause brands to beg Since social ads only work if a member has indicated they are a fan, brands will be working to earn and buy fans to accept them as members.  Expect a lot of noise to be generated from this activity as brands run campaigns to encourage members to add them as fans through discussion boards, banner ads, and special offers.

Hard to qualify a "business" Facebook is limiting these features to 'real' businesses and organizations.  Expect an entire team to be crawling and dealing with this qualifying the issue.  As recent member accounts have been disabled from Facebook, expect businesses and organizations to encounter same issues.

Limited ad supply to raise prices Because Facebook members will see only two social ads per day, we expect the supply of ads to be in scarce supply and thus raising prices and not matching the value.  This could shift ad buying to large brands who have experience buying and managing search and direct response ads.

Our Call: Brand affinity leads to community endorsements and more trusted marketing. We see this as a win for Facebook, this highly targeted system isn't just about web advertising but about brand affinity and hooks into what's really important, trusted endorsements from people in a network. This truly is the next generation of advertising. Facebook tells us that the worst case it will be 2 times click through rate over the performance of (existing is 4-26%)

Next Steps For Brands

Experiment: Because of the control and flexibility, we recommend to brands that are currently on either of these social networks to experiment and test.

Learn how to efficiently manage your campaigns. There's clearly a trend towards self-service, which provides efficiencies for both businesses and the platforms.

To know: Marketing has changed, advertising is no longer a sole-solution.  Marketers must also learn how to be part of communities, engage with them, and be part of the conversation.

To know: Marketing is now distributed, brands must embrace communities where they currently exist, rather than solely driving them to their corporate website.

[While traditional search advertisers like Google and Yahoo match by keyword, My Space and Facebook match on something far more powerful: people and their relationships]

This digest not only explains what is happening, but why it matters to you. If this was helpful, please pass it on.  Love to hear your thoughts, please leave a comment, even if you don't agree.


H2O Audio H3 Earphones Good for Water Lovers and Landlubbers [Watery Tunes]

h20audioh3-lg.jpgIf you've got some serious underwater basket weaving to do, these H2O Audio H3 earbuds might be just what you need to keep you entertained. The company says it's improved the sound of these earphones over their predecessors, boosting the bass response as well as increasing their overall output by 10dB. The H3s are made for use either in the water, where you place the "aquatic silencer" earplugs in place for a watertight seal, or you can remove those for use on dry land. Get these for $50, and don't forget that waterproof housing for your iPod. [Macnn]


HTC Omni = Google Dream?

C'mon, you knew this was coming. Not a moment after Google does its big reveal on the Android OS and forthcoming multi-manufacturer GPhone, the rumor mill has already starting churning with wild imaginings and fantastic leaps of logic. A not-so gigantic jump comes as speculation that HTC's Omni -- which we first heard about nearly a year ago -- is actually the phone that has been referred to as the " Dream," Google's OS demo unit. We have to admit, there are some similarities between the two, not the least of which are the 3-inch by 5-inch size, rectangular touchscreen, full QWERTY that swivels out (which according to this earlier rendering, goes in more than one direction), and a beveled edge that "nestles in the palm." We remind you, of course, that this is just the first in a long line of rumors trying to pinpoint the "real" GPhone -- HTC or otherwise -- so don't get too excited just yet.


MOCKUP Apple iPad Touch Tablet Mock-Up Is Shiny, iPhone-y [Apple]

ipadtouchcover.jpgAesthetically, Factory Joe's "iPad Touch" tablet mockup doesn't wholly differ from the pretty slick one our own Jesus Diaz conjured with his magic Photoshop fingers, but it does ratchet up the iPhone design elements. Oh, and MacBook Touch is a much better, if less reflective, name in our book. Another shot after the jump or scope the rest over there. [Factory Joe via Gadget Lab]



HiveLive’s Social Networking Platform Puts Users in Control

I've covered a lot of white label social networking platforms in my fairly short time here at TechCrunch (see here and here). So when I initially heard of a new platform called HiveLive, which launched Monday at the DeFrag Show in Denver, I expected to see much of the same features that are available elsewhere.

In large part, my expectations were realized - HiveLive is a platform with a lot of standard social networking functionality. However, it also has some unique capabilities that organizations ought to note when trying to decide which SaaS platform to go with. These capabilities, in essence, give ordinary users the ability to control the modules deployed within a social network.

Social networks often incorporate many Web 2.0 tools that could stand alone elsewhere, such as blogs, forums, and wikis. With most platforms, the network administrator determines how these tools are deployed on the site: drop in a forum here, add a wiki there, and so on. The network users for the most part then have equal access to these predefined areas of interaction.

HiveLive is attempting to mix things up a bit by introducing customizable components they call "Hives". Network users can choose to add their own hives to an existing social network, configure the type of hive (blog, forum, wiki, etc.), and then determine who within the network gets to use them (everyone or just a subset of friends and colleagues). This allows users to stake off their own areas of interaction and undergo activities from there.

Want to join with friends to run a blog about a shared interest? Create a new blog hive that everyone can see but only a few can edit. Want to collaborate on a project with team members using a wiki? Create a wiki hive that only a few people can access at all. The HiveLive platform is flexible enough so that you don't even have to create a hive that's easily categorized. If you just want to share a string of items with friends, you can create a blog-like page with a variety of data types. Users can also create their own hives by copying other hives with a few clicks of the button.

HiveLive was self-funded for its first couple of years but raised $1.6M from institutional angels towards the end of 2006. They're calling their product the "LiveConnect Community Platform."


Monday, November 05, 2007

Airbox CM3 Turns Your Car Into a 100MPH Hotspot [Wireless]

airbox.jpgThe new Airbox CM3 mobile router allows devices like PDAs, laptops, and gaming consoles to be simultaneously connected to the internet in a moving vehicle via Wi-Fi or one of two Ethernet jacks —no additional software or PCMCIA cards required. When connected to a 3G digital cellular telephone network (generally EV-DO), speeds average out at 400-800 Kbps with bursts up to 2.4 Mbps. When no 3G signals are available, the Airbox will switch to 2G and average speeds of 120 Kbps. According to product tests, the wireless range extends up to 300 feet and the connection has proven reliable —even when traveling at 100 mph.

As you might have guessed, the Airbox is powered by a car cigarette lighter, but what is really interesting is the compact size. The weight is comparable to a paperback book, and the dimensions are small enough to place it under a car seat. You can even take it indoors and connect it to a standard electrical socket for home use. Available for a whopping $499 (cellular data plan required.) [WAAV via Gizmag]


9 Takes on Asus Eee PC [Frankenreview]

asustop.jpgThe Asus Eee PC is one of the most innovative and promising laptops to hit the consumer market in years. With an introductory model priced at a mere $399, Asus is offering an extremely compact, 2lb laptop with a 4GB solid state drive. But most importantly, the Eee isn't gimped for office tasks or internet browsing like the closest-sized and priced mobile devices. Indeed, Asus has brought ultraportables to a mass market price.

But while all these ideas sound fantastic on paper, how does the Asus Eee actually perform in testing? Hit the jump for our Frankenreview—nine different perspectives on the ultraportable we're all hoping to be great.

graph%284%29.jpg PCPerspective
The physical feel of the notebook is pretty solid for such a small piece - I have definitely had 11" screen notebooks that felt more fragile than this system does. As long as you don't expect the build quality of an IBM ThinkPad, you will not be let down.

The obvious limitations of the tiny hard drive, low-power CPU, and lack of the Windows operating system may be enough to scare away many potential users...

The Intel Celeron M CPU runs at 900MHz with 9x clock multiplier. The L1 cache is 64KB, the L2 cache size is 512KB and the Bus speed is rated at 400MHz...The TDP of the chip is a very low 5.5W. This low heat signature makes it ideal for a platform of this type.
Given that there's only 1.3GB of space after the OS and applications, external storage through USB keys and hard drives will be essential. As such, it's pleasing that Asus has managed to squeeze as many as three USB ports into the diminutive chassis.

NoteBook Review
Most low-priced notebooks currently on the market feature poorly built keyboards...Much to our surprise, the keyboard on the Eee PC is remarkably firm, though the keys are small and have a large degree of "wiggle" when pressed.

For the Eee PC, ASUS developed its own full-blown operating system based on Xandros Linux. The user interface is easy to understand and navigate. It's similar to a Web page with multiple tabs.
The Asus Eee PC comes preloaded with more than 40 applications...almost none of the applications on the Eee PC can be considered "bloatware." In fact, almost every application on this notebook is both useful and easy to use.
...we didn't see any new applications we could add, although Asus promises to certify applications as they become available and make them available to users via software updates. The intrepid can install applications themselves, but you'll have to dig into the File Manager and launch them manually each time.


Shih [Asustek President] says Asustek will tap into a new market--consumers unable to buy computers because they're too expensive or just too intimidating. Indeed, the Eee name comes from easy to learn, easy to play and easy to work.
Studentnew.jpgThe Asus Eee PC looks like a good buy if you mind the caveats. Little known fact? That girl in the picture above is only 4 inches tall.


US Consumers Clueless About Online Tracking

Arashtamere writes "A study on consumer perceptions about online privacy, undertaken by the Samuelson Clinic at the University of California and the Annenberg Public Policy Center, found that the average American consumer is largely unaware that every move they make online can be, and often is, tracked by online marketers and advertising networks. Those surveyed showed little knowledge on the extent to which online tracking is happening or how the information obtained can be used. More than half of those surveyed — about 55 percent — falsely assumed that a company's privacy polices prohibited it from sharing their addresses and purchases with affiliated companies. Nearly four out of 10 online shoppers falsely believed that a company's privacy policy prohibits it from using information to analyze an individuals' activities online. And a similar number assumed that an online privacy policy meant that a company they're doing business with wouldn't collect data on their online activities and combine it with other information to create a behavioral profile."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Lil'Grams Launches -- It's Twitter/Pownce/Dogster for Newborns

Augustine: drag and drop simplicity for social networking

Lil GramsLast week I had the opportunity to meet NY-based developer and entrepreneur Greg Narain. Greg is a new father and he has created a new Web application based out of necessity. The application is called Lil'Grams and sits between Twitter, Pownce and Dogster. Greg is a new dad and son Aiden needed a memory book/journal but none of the current social media apps provided what he was looking for. I think of Lil'Grams as a digital replacement for the baby book, the 8mm tapes (that was in my day) and the ability to keep Gramma up-to-date on baby's progress. If interested, signup for the alpha on their main page.

Lil'Grams allows you to keep every aspect of your baby updated - from text snippits "he just burped" to video "baby's first walk" to height "damn, looks like those 2 cm's mean new clothing" to food "he really likes those orange pez" and a 1st category for everything baby does "first".

I think Lil'Grams has great potential and exporting select content will be a large benefit as well. Post a quick message on Lil'Grams, click transfer to Twitter and let everyone see what's going on. Same with YouTube, Flickr, etc. I could also see buying a domain name for your new baby and redirecting it to Lil'Grams.

This is a niche site and making sure there is a large enough market is critical. Greg notes below that 1.6 million first-time moms, but the market is larger than that. Moms with multiple children work as each baby will want a book. And the site seems simple enough that translation to other languages should be easy to implement which could provide an entirely new marketing opportunity for expansion.

One monetization strategy for Lil'Grams would be partnering with the team at Sharedbook - I would bet a great marriage could take place as SharedBook can provide the printed books for those who want an offline version for family members who aren't online.


Study Says P2P Downloaders Buy More Music

from Slashdot by

An anonymous reader writes "Michael Geist posts to his site about a study commissioned by the Canadian government intended to look into the buying habits of music fans. What the study found is that 'there is a positive correlation between peer-to-peer downloading and CD purchasing.' The report is entitled The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the Purchase of Music: A Study For Industry Canada, and it was 'conducted collaboratively by two professors from the University of London, Industry Canada, and Decima Research, who surveyed over 2,000 Canadians on their music downloading and purchasing habits. The authors believe this is the first ever empirical study to employ representative microeconomic data.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


A New Way To Make Water, And Fuel Cells

from Slashdot by

Roland Piquepaille writes "You probably know that it is easy to combine hydrogen and oxygen to make water. After all, this chemical reaction is known for more than two centuries. But now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have discovered a new way to make water. As states the UIUC report, 'not only can they make water from unlikely starting materials, such as alcohols, their work could also lead to better catalysts and less expensive fuel cells.' But be warned: don't read the technical paper itself. It could win an obfuscated contest — if such a contest existed for scientific papers." Yet another advance in fuel cell technology; we discussed a different one just the other day.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


E-TEN's VGA and HSDPA-packin' Glofiish X800 now shipping

Filed under:

We've had our eye on this willowy little minnow ever since we first gave it a proper once over at CeBIT earlier this year, and now E-TEN has announced that its everything-but-the-keyboard Glofiish X800 WM6 Pocket PC is finally shipping (we saw it unlocked on MobilePlanet for $650). Very similar to a number of 3.5G HTC devices already on the market, the X800 steps up the game by offering a sexy 2.8-inch, 640 x 480 screen, 500MHz Samsung processor, and dedicated SiRFstar III GPS chipset. Still, if you can hold out just a little bit longer, a QWERTY-fied M800 boasting the same specs is right around the corner.


Share Your News Tips and Photographs with Mainstream Media

from Digital Inspiration by

citizen journalists Have you witnessed a news story in your area that could interest mainstream media ? Did you capture the scene on a mobile phone or a camera ?

If yes, here are some prominent websites where you can send in those news photos and video clips:

Reuters - You can share your news photographs and videos to Reuters by sending them to or upload here. Reuters is not just looking for news events, they are also very interested in offbeat news like a model falling over her huge heels on the catwalk or fans cheering inside the sports stadium.

BBC News - You can send pictures or news video clips to BBC at . Web cam users can directly record and send a video message to BBC editors here. Other than news images, BBC also accepts images related to both local and global issues as well as just great pictures of your daily lives. - You can send your news videos, audio tips and photos to CNN at Like Reuters, CNN also accepts non-news events. CNN has an excellent toolkit for amateur citizen journalists to help them quickly learn tricks of the trade - how to capture good video and photographs.

CNN IBN - This is only applicable to events and issues related to India. This popular TV channel airs a separate program featuring content that's supplied by citizen journalists across the country. You can either upload the media files on the CNN IBN website or send your news reports via SMS and MMS messages (CJ to 2622).

Nokia Reporter Toolkit for Citizen Journalists


Alley Mogul Launches Gilt Groupe, We Get You In

alexis_maybank.jpg Alley mogul Kevin Ryan and friends still had time on their hands after launching five start-ups in the past two years (including this site), so they have launched a sixth: Gilt Groupe (  Judging from the early member sign-ups (3,500 in 8 hours), it's a hit.

Gilt runs private sales of high-fashion merchandise at sample-sale prices.  The next sale, for example, will feature the designer Zac Posen. 

The sales are for members only--you have to be invited--but, thankfully, we have some connections here, and we can get (some of) you in.  If you're interested, visit this special SAI referral page and register while you can (Gilt is doing the exclusivity thing and has so far refused to endow us with permanent membership granting capabilities, so hurry).

Gilt Groupe is run by CEO Alexis Maybank (above left), a talented AOL and eBay veteran, and the rest of the management team is equally, well, fabulous (check this page out and see if you disagree).  The company is in the process of raising a major Series A round with premier VCs at a startling valuation, and interest, by all accounts, has been high.

Disclosure: Yes, yes, we know, we're conflicted up the wazoo here.  Gilt's chairman Kevin Ryan is our chairman, Alexis Maybank, Mike Bryzek, and co are basically colleagues, etc.  Whatever.  You want pure objectivity without a hint of favoritism, emotion, or relationship conflict, visit TechCrunch.


Launch Apps Without Booting Windows Using Phoenix HyperSpace Mini OS [Software]

Phoenix_HyperSpace_.jpgThe Windows boot-time backlash is in full effect. BIOS-builder Phoenix Technologies is introducing a mini operating system called HyperSpace that can boot up in seconds in place of Windows, to run e-mail managers, web browsers and other apps. Such a system could prolong battery life by 50%, and would give laptop makers a chance to show off their own personalities, rather than act as mere vessels to the Microsoft experience. There are some catches:

Though the Wired story didn't specifically say it, the applications probably wouldn't be the exact same ones you'd run in Windows. There might be a word processor, but it probably wouldn't be Word.

Lenovos, Dells and Acers of the world can start tailoring computers with HyperSpace functionality to very specific demographics. A student-aimed laptop, for instance, could come with apps like word processing, e-mail and IM preloaded into HyperSpace.
Also, not only is it probably Linux-based, but as one Wired commenter pointed out, it's likely similar to code that experienced software ninjas have been messing around with for years. Some PC makers such as HP and Gateway have offered Windows-free quick-start media players already, though nothing to this degree.

A widespread implementation of HyperSpace across consumer laptops would still be a coup and a half.

Microsoft regards HyperSpace as "outside their sphere of influence," and is not too happy with Phoenix's offering, which adds yet another voice to the already loud chorus of voices complaining about operating-system bloat.
Look out for HyperSpace in laptops starting in mid to late 2008. [Wired Tech Biz] UPDATE: Here's a link to the press release.


Sexy LG KS20 Now Shipping (At Least For Some) [Smartphones]

LG_KS20.jpgEuropeans get lucky this week, as the Prada successor LG KS20 hits stores in France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. (What up, UK?) The final specs on this baby are in, and they make us terribly jealous.

It's got 3.6Mbps HSDPA and Wi-Fi B and G, and what looks like a half-way decent web browser. There will be some built-in games and video on demand, video telephony, and a media player that will read MP3, MPEG4, WAV, 3GP, AMR-NB, WMA, AAC, AAC+ and eAAC+. We don't even mind the Windows Mobile 6 part, given the fact that there's a customized interface like the T-Mobile HTC Shadow or the Sprint's HTC Touch.

I suppose the upcoming entry of Verizon's LG Voyager to the US doesn't preclude us from getting a KS20, but the powers that be might not want the competition this early, and LG's relationships with other carriers are not as cuddly. [LG via Akihabara News]


Lancôme Makes Itself Useful With Unique Magnetic Nail Polish Gadget for Gals

lancome_nailpolish3.jpgOverpriced makeup purveyor Lancôme decided to actually do something innovative for a change rather than just creating fancy containers. The result is a Le Magnetique, nail polish with different-colored magnetic particles mixed in. Here's where Lancôme's specialty, the container, comes into play. While the polish is still wet, hold the container's sleeve next to that goop on your nails, and the shiny metallic particles organize themselves into charming starburst patterns. Those magnetically organized designs are even more noticeable in direct sunlight. Get yourself a bottle for $17 and try it out yourself. Told ya it was overpriced. [All Lacquered Up, via bb Gadgets]


EMI Selling WAVs of Radiohead's Back Catalog for a Mere $167 [Anti-Dealzmodo]

radioheadusb.gifRadiohead made waves with their latest album, selling it in digital form for whatever price you wanted to pay for it. Now EMI, their old label, is looking to hop on that bandwagon of goodwill by offering a set of all of the band's past studio albums and one live album in a number of formats, including uncompressed WAV files on a custom Radiohead Bear USB drive.

In case you've been living under a rock for the past 14 years and don't own a single Radiohead release, now's your chance to get on board. The first way to buy it is in a set with all seven discs in digipacks with original artwork. That'll set you back £40, or about $83, which isn't much of a discount (thanks mostly to the insane exchange rate).

The next option is to buy all seven albums as digital downloads, all encoded as 320kbps MP3s, along with digital artwork. The price for this is an unforgiving £35, or $73.

The last option is probably the most appealing to Radiohead die-hards, as it comes with a limited-edition USB drive. The 4GB drive will come loaded with the seven albums encoded as uncompressed WAV files as well as digital artwork. The price for this "strictly limited edition" piece of hardware? £80, or $167. Yes, $167 for a thumb drive loaded up with WAV files.

So, how many of these sets do you think EMI will sell? You've got to appreciate the choice of encoding options, but those prices are beyond insane. And the real problem is that only the most devoted of fans would even consider spending this kind of coin on RH materials, and they obviously own all the back catalog already. So, uh, what the hell, EMI? [Product Page]


PG&E and Ausra Partner on Solar Thermal Power

ausra.jpg The solar thermal startup Ausra only started talking publicly in September, but already the Khosla and Kleiner Perkins-backed Silicon Valley company is one of the more high-profile cleantech startups around. This morning, Ausra provided additional details about a planned solar thermal power plant in California and an agreement to sell solar power to California utility PG&E (PCG).

PG&E says it will buy 177 megawatts of solar power generated from a one-square-mile plant that Ausra will build in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The solar thermal plant is expected to start generating power in 2010. PG&E previously entered into an agreement with Israeli solar thermal company Solel and is in talks with Oakland, Calif.-based solar thermal company BrightSource, too.

Solar thermal systems use mirrors and lenses to focus sunlight onto liquid-filled tubes, which in turn power steam turbines. The plants can provide large amounts of power at lower costs than other renewable sources, and Ausra is working to deliver electricity at the price of 10 cents per kilowatt hour or lower. When solar thermal technology can provide a price that is low enough, Ausra's co-founder and chairman David Mills told us that he thinks it could one day replace coal. ausradiagram1.jpg
How Ausra's technology works.


Sierra Wireless intros Apex 880 USB HSUPA modem

Sierra Wireless sure doesn't seem to be skimping when it comes to USB HSUPA modems, with it now following up its recently-released 880U and 881U models with its new and somewhat improved Apex 880 modem. About the biggest addition here is an always useful microSD card slot, which should let you ditch at least one USB thumb drive from your bag. The modem itself is also slightly smaller than the previous models, measuring just 85mm x 37.5mm x 15mm. Otherwise, you'll get the same peak data speeds of 7.2 Mbps on the downlink and 2.0 Mpbs on the uplink as before, and support for tri-band UMTS and quad-band GSM/ EDGE networks to keep you connected at all times. No word on a price just yet, but it'll apparently be available in January.

[Via Electronista]


Google and HTC's "Dream" phone prototype semi-revealed

Sure, a Google-sponsored phone OS in the way of Android is pretty great news for mobile phone land, but what if your really had your heart set on some Google hardware this Monday morning? Well take heart, because Forbes has the skinny on an HTC device labeled "Dream," (most likely not pictured above) which could very well be oft-rumored hardware of legend, and could also be hitting the market as early as next year. Apparently the phone is one of roughly five prototypes that Google had built to demonstrate the Open Handset Alliance software to potential members, and HTC's Peter Chou says in the two years it's been working on OHA designs, "this is the best one we've seen." The device itself, which measures about 3 x 5-inches, sports a touchscreen, navigational controls at the base, and a full swivel out keyboard. When swiveled the screen goes from portrait to landscape mode, but unfortunately that's the limit of info on the actual hardware. The software apparently has "time-sensitive" touch controls that expands your area control the longer you touch. Icons for your most important apps -- which are apparently email, text documents, and YouTube -- are lined up across the top of the screen. There's also some fancy stuff under the hood to keep an ongoing browser session open to speed launch times, and the browser downloads large files in stages to speed delivery. HTC is considering a commercial version of the phone, which we could be seeing as soon as the second half of 2008.


I Honor the Place Where the MARK Bookmark and I Become One [Bookmark]

mark_book2.jpgAvnish Gautam has designed an amazing concept bookmark that lights up at night and covers the area you're reading. The MARK uses flexible OLED technology on a thin piece of plastic to illuminate the reading area to your preferred brightness. I know when I'm reading the Fake Steve Jobs book , the only thing that irritates me more than that frigtard Tom Bowditch is my dim and clunky book light that is never in the right place. This concept won the Red Dot Award for best design in 2007, so if OLED technology is up to speed expect it to be available sometime soon. Namaste Avnish, and hit the jump for a bonus picture of the MARK in daylight. [Yanko Design]

mark_book.jpg[Yanko Design ]


Wearable VholdR Palm-Sized Camcorder is Tiny, Convenient and Sturdy [Camcorders]

vholdr_three-quarter.jpgTake your first look at the new VholdR, a wearable, palm-sized camcorder created especially for shooting extreme video for quick uploading to YouTube. Notice that its lens takes up most of its volume, and its 4.8-ounce weight and 3.7-inch length encourage you take it along. It even includes helmet-mounting hardware for those wild snowboarding and whitewater rafting sessions, as well as proprietary shake management so you can keep your clips from inducing viewer vomit sessions. When you're done shooting, its VholdR desktop software lets you keep your videos organized or upload them to YouTube with a single click.

The VholdR is built tough for taking plenty of abuse, too, made of anodized aluminum that's splashproof. The hardware compression engine on board is impressive, crunching down its 640x480 30fps video to manageable file sizes. We especially like that single button to roll, easy to operate even with gloves on. And there's no tape or fragile hard disk to worry about—it records everything onto a microSD card. The first few are expected to be available by Christmas, retailing for $349.99. [VholdR]


Airbox CM3 Turns Your Car Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot, Even at 100 MPH [Wireless]

airbox.jpgThe new Airbox CM3 mobile router allows devices like PDAs, laptops, and gaming consoles to be simultaneously connected to the internet in a moving vehicle via Wi-Fi or one of two Ethernet jacks —no additional software or PCMCIA cards required. When connected to a 3G digital cellular telephone network (generally EV-DO), speeds average out at 400-800 Kbps with bursts up to 2.4 Mbps. When no 3G signals are available, the Airbox will switch to 2G and average speeds of 120 Kbps. According to product tests, the wireless range extends up to 300 feet and the connection has proven reliable —even when traveling at 100 mph.

As you might have guessed, the Airbox is powered by a car cigarette lighter, but what is really interesting is the compact size. The weight is comparable to a paperback book, and the dimensions are small enough to place it under a car seat. You can even take it indoors and connect it to a standard electrical socket for home use. Available for a whopping $499 (cellular data plan required.) [WAAV via Gizmag]


Salesforce Lets Loose Digg-For-Ideas

Just when you thought Digg cloning was dead, Salesforce has thrown its hat into the ring. The company best known for their SaaS CRM is unleashing their Digg-for-ideas, “Salesforce Ideas”, into the wild. Although announced back in October, they are now releasing the product publicly. Now any enterprise can order their own clone of Salesforce’s IdeaExchange, which lets customers post ideas on how the company can improve their product.

It’s targeted at, and works best for, existing Salesforce customers with a specific community of customers. Unlike the free opensource Pligg, this software may cost you. It’s being release for free to professional, enterprise, and unlimited customers. But anyone off the Salesforce platform using the service has to buy a license, which can cost anywhere from $50-$100 per user per month. I’d recommend (free) Satisfaction’s help and idea board for businesses with larger audiences.

Salesforce is pushing the platform integration because unlike Pligg, Ideas’ will know who your customers are. The system will integrate with your CRM account to let only those users in.

The concept is pretty straight forward and a bit more exciting than a straight idea forum. Yahoo has even launched a similar product for their own use. On Salesforce Ideas Users can post product ideas to a moderated board, which everyone can promote or demote up and down the board. The most popular ideas, based on the frequency of promotions over a period of time, make it to the top of the board. Attached to each idea is a discussion thread, where members can leave comments building on the idea.

Salesforce claims to have used ideas on the board to improve their product, and even drive ideas for some AppExchange startups (AppExtremes, Appirio). After a year, their board has about 13,000 users, 5,000 ideas, and drives 100K pageviews per month. Dell runs an instance of the board on Dell Idea Storm, which it credits with the idea to pre-install the Ubuntu Linux operating system on select consumer desktops and notebooks in the U.S, UK, France and Germany.


BuzzLogic Launches Innovative Advertising Platform - Combining Buzz and Ads

BuzzLogicEarlier this year I had the chance to sit down with the BuzzLogic executive team for an interesting interview. As many of you know, one of my passion areas is analytics and BuzzLogic provides a tool that helps companies and individuals track "buzz" around the online space. This is what Technorati should have been. Last week I had the chance to speak with them again and learn about their new advertising platform launching today.

Tonight they launch what I believe is an excellent addition to their service offering. When a company uses the BuzzLogic monitoring service, they can track who is talking about their product/service (the influencers and the conversations) and monitor the buzz. BuzzLogic has their own ranking systems and provide a more rounded view on what's going on. Just because a blog is ranked 1st for a specific term/category does not mean they will rank the same across any topics they cover. I like this because it allows their clients to see everyone who is speaking about a specific product, not just what some top x list says.

Their new offering is an advertising platform build on top of Google AdSense with other ad networks coming in the near future. The idea is simple in description: once you find out which blogs are talking about your product, you want to advertise your product on those sites to reinforce the message. The actual ad creation process is the same as with AdWords, actually it's exactly the same except it's in the BuzzLogic framework. The real difference is the site targeting. You use the BuzzLogic service to select the sites based on the analysis you have completed. Then you buy ads on those sites. You can see a sample screenshot of the pre-AdWords piece below.

I asked about sites that aren't using Google AdWords and basically those sites won't be available for purchase. As I noted above, more networks are coming soon they tell me. What I don't know is if a site has site-targeting off, what happens. I have site targeting off but would like to be included in the ad buys.

It's an interesting way to "join the conversation" - it's not as effective as actually joining the conversation in comments and reaching out to the writer, but it is a way to get a message out to specific sites discussing a specific product or service.

If you remember back to when the iPhone dropped price and Nokia had some keyword buys, this tool would work well for that type of ad purchase - Nokia could select the blogs that are influencers around the iPhone and get quick access to their readerbase.

One of the quotes they sent over after our conversation comes from Lending Club, a company covered many times on CN. Renaud Laplanche, founder and CEO says, "Social media is becoming the go-to place for our potential customers to learn about Lending Club as they seek advice and information regarding personal finance. BuzzLogic makes it possible for us to target our advertising placements in association with those personal finance conversations, creating a greater value in our advertising spend."

Again, this should be viewed as a complement and not a replacement to joining the conversation. But it is a powerful complement.

Here is a sample of the interface for selecting the "influencers":