Tuesday, March 1, 2011

High tech gadgets used to trigger medieval weapon

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters Life!) - Workers at a Google data center combined 12 century know how and space age technology to trigger a medieval weapon that was used to hurl rocks, balls of fire and dead animals over castle walls.

They used an Android cellphone, a computer the size of a credit card and a Blue Tooth receiver to trigger the wooden weapon, known as a trebuchet, during the first "Storm the Citadel Trebuchet Competition" in Charleston over the weekend.

The trebuchet was used during medieval times to break down fortifications.

"They also threw dead people," said Dennis Fallon, dean of engineering at The Citadel, a military college with about 2,100 male and female cadets. "What we have done in military history is not always something to be proud of."

More powerful than the ballistas and catapults of ancient empires, the trebuchet used a long swing arm, triggered by the pull of gravity on a counterweight placed at the other end, to slingshot its payload into the air.
The brutal weapon played a large part in the medieval Crusades. According to histories of the time, Richard the Lionheart called his best weapon "Malvoisine." Edward I supposedly brought about the surrender of Scotland's Sterling Castle in 1304 with a giant trebuchet named "Warwolf."

The trebuchet made a comeback in the late 20th century among medievalists, college professors and fans of the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" in which a cow is hurled over a castle wall.
In the 1990s in Britain, armament enthusiast Hew Kennedy built a massive machine on his Shropshire estate and used it to throw compact cars and flaming pianos across his field.

Saturday's competition was sponsored by Google during The Citadel's National Engineering Week to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs in the schools, local employees said.
In November 2009, President Barack Obama announced a major initiative to support STEM education over the next decade to keep Americans globally competitive in innovation and technology.

South Carolina high school students competed along with engineering majors and corporate teams in designing, building and firing the trebuchets.

"There's a lot of engineering principles involved. There's a lot of math principles involved. And it's just fun," said Jeff Stevenson, a manager at the Google Data Center in nearby Berkeley County.
Competing teams launched oranges and colored balls at a target, and with a larger machine Google built for demonstration purposes, squashes, melons and bags of flour.

"We're playing real-life Angry Birds," said Eric Wages, data center operations manager, referring to the iPhone and Android game in which angry birds are flung at pigs.

The Citadel Cadet Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers won the trophy for the best of the college and professional teams.

(Editing by Jerry Norton and Patricia Reaney; For the latest Reuters lifestyle news see: http://www.reuters.com/news/lifestyle))

Facebook really can lead to divorce

Washington, Mar 1 (ANI): Facebook and other social networking sites can help you meet that special someone if you're single. But improper use of social media can turn even the healthiest of marriages into disasters.

Facebook is cited in one in five divorces in the United States, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Also, more than 80 percent of divorce lawyers reported a rising number of people are using social media to engage in extramarital affairs.

"We're coming across it more and more," said licensed clinical psychologist Steven Kimmons, of Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill.

"One spouse connects online with someone they knew from high school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook. Within a short amount of time, the sharing of personal stories can lead to a deepened sense of intimacy, which in turn can point the couple in the direction of physical contact."

Though already-strained marriages are most vulnerable, a couple doesn't have to be experiencing marital difficulties in order for an online relationship to blossom from mere talk into a full-fledged affair, Kimmons said. In most instances, people enter into online relationships with the most innocent of intentions.

"I don't think these people typically set out to have affairs," said Kimmons, whose practice includes couples therapy and marriage counseling. "A lot of it is curiosity. They see an old friend or someone they dated and decide to say 'hello' and catch up on where that person is and how they're doing."

It all boils down to the amount of contact two people in any type of relationships -ncluding online - have with each other, Kimmons said. The more contact they have, the more likely they are to begin developing feelings for each other.

"If I'm talking to one person five times a week versus another person one time a week, you don't need a fancy psychological study to conclude that I'm more likely to fall in love with the person I talk to five times a week because I have more contact with that person," Kimmons said.

Stories of people whose marriages were destroyed by affairs that began on social networking sites abound on the Internet. It's enough to make some people swear off online technology for life. Though there are no hard-and-fast rules to follow, there are some safeguards couples can apply to decrease the chance of online relationships getting out of control. For starters, do a self-assessment of why you're using online sites.
"Look at the population of the people who are your online friends," Kimmons said. "Is it a good mixture of men and women? Do you spend more time talking to females versus males or do you favor a certain type of friend over another? That can tell you something about how you're using social networks. You may not even be aware that you're heading down a road that can get quickly get pretty dangerous, pretty fast to your marriage."

Another safeguard is to spell out from the beginning with your online contacts what your expectations are of social networking relationships. Also, it's a good idea to not engage in intimate conversation with someone who is not your spouse.

"From the start tell your online friend that you're not looking for anything more than establishing old contacts with people to find out how they're doing," Kimmons said.

In some instances, couples could share passwords with each other and place the computer in a common area in the house or apartment.

"It's not that people are going to read what you're writing but they'll see what you're doing," he said. "Then it's not a secret."

Couples can also set parameters around how much time and when they are online each day.
"If you're doing this at 2 o'clock in the morning with no one watching because you don't want anyone else to know about it, that should be a signal to you that this is something approaching a boundary line or you're at least moving in that direction," Kimmons said. (ANI)

E-books on the rise with sales of digital books growing 18-fold in 2010

London, Mar 1 (ANI): The sale of e-books is on the rise, with Bloomsbury, the publisher of the Harry Potter books, saying its digital book sales grew 18-fold in 2010.

Now e-books account for 10 percent of Bloomsbury print sales as more customers download titles to read on iPads, Kindles and other hand-held devices.

The publishing house said revenues of 90.7 million pounds were up 4 percent in the year to December 31, while profits excluding one-off items went up to 8.4 million pounds from 7.7 million pounds a year earlier.
Strong demand for Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Eat, Pray, Love', which was turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts, and the Harry Potter books following the film release of 'Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows', helped Bloomsbury's sales in the final quarter of the year.

Bloomsbury predicted that 2011 will be "the year of the e-book" as more titles become available for download and sales of hand-held devices such as Amazon's Kindle and Apple's iPad grow rapidly.
The company also predicts that Britain is gaining the kind of momentum seen in the U.S., where e-books account for 15 percent of sales.

The trend was highlighted by the success of the 2010 Man Booker Prize winner Howard Jacobson's 'The Finkler Question', which saw 42 percent of its U.S. sales through e-books in its first month.
"Bloomsbury had an excellent year with a number of best-selling titles and particularly buoyant sales in the final quarter," the Daily Mail quoted chief executive Nigel Newton as saying.

"We are also benefiting from our strong position in digital publishing which continues to experience exciting and unprecedented growth," he stated. (ANI)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Burning Chrome

“A good player goes where the puck is. A great player goes where the puck is going to be”—The Great One
Google made a few interesting announcements this week. First, Google Docs Viewer support for a sheaf of new document types, including Excel, Powerpoint, Photoshop and PostScript. Second, Chrome’s new ability to run background apps that run seamlessly and invisibly behind the browser. Third, they released Google Cloud Connect, which lets Windows users sync Office documents to Google Docs. They also announced the Android 3.0 SDK – but despite the ongoing tablet hysteria, in the long run, the first three are more important.
Little by little, iteration by iteration, the Chrome browser is quietly morphing into a full-fledged multitasking operating system in its own right. Oh, sure, technically it’s actually running on another OS, but you increasingly never need to launch anything else. View and edit documents in Google Docs, watch and listen to HTML5 video and audio, communicate via Gmail and its Google Voice plugin, use Google Docs as a file system – and the line between “Chrome OS” and “Chrome on any other OS” suddenly grows very fine.

AppBoy Releases A Check-in SDK For iOS Apps

With the number of iOS apps now well over 300,000, app discovery is becoming an increasing frustration for users. It’s also become a major challenge for developers as the increasing number of apps is making it more and more difficult for them to attain exposure for their apps.
Now, straight from the “What Took So Long for Something Like This to be Released” department, mobile developer community site AppBoy has released an iOS app check-in SDK.

Peers Or Not? Comcast And Level 3 Slug It Out At FCC’s Doorstep

The big headlines about the dispute between Level 3 Communications and Comcast over the latter’s access charges may have subsided, but don’t let that fool you. Like so many telecom wars, this one has migrated to the antechambers of the Federal Communications Commission. There, both sides are battling over whether the feud comes under the FCC’s authority via its still-unofficial net neutrality rules.
“It would be ironic and unfortunate if, as we begin the era of growing broadband connectivity and use, the Commission effectively abdicated jurisdiction over broadband Internet services in a way that reduces choice and openness for the American consumer,” Level 3 is warning the agency.
Au contraire, insists Comcast. “This has been, is, and will remain a dispute about the terms of an existing arrangement for network interconnection. It is not properly before this Commission.”
Is not? Is too? Let’s recap this story and see how the behind-the-scenes slugfest is going.
Continue reading …

Did Google Pre-Emptively Block a 4G iPhone on Verizon?

In 2008, after much protest, Verizon accepted openness conditions attached to valuable spectrum being auctioned off by the FCC, and spent $4.7 billion to buy nationwide capacity that would ensure it could build a robust 4G network for the next generation of mobile devices.
But in doing so, Verizon may have screwed itself out of ever being able to offer a 4G-capable iPhone.
The problem is that the “open access” rules attached to the so-called 700 Mhz C block require the carrier to allow the use of any hardware or software that it can’t prove won’t damage the network.
The rules were inserted at the behest of Google, which was bidding for the spectrum but who some cynics contended got involved not to win but to ensure that whoever got the spectrum couldn’t hamper its business, which requires a free and robust internet.
Google’s idea was to create an open space for innovation where a person could buy any device (including one from Google) and run any app that met open standards with no interference by the carrier.
And depending upon how you interpret the rules, which Verizon fought in court before the auction, they also required that the wireless carrier only offer devices that are open and able to run any app. That interpretation would clearly rule out the iPhone, which is locked down by design, and only apps approved by Apple can be loaded onto the device without breaking the device’s warranty.
That’s how Markham Erickson, a technology lawyer and the executive director of the Open Internet Coalition, sees it.
“The interpretation that the rules would ensure all handsets sold by the licensee would be unlocked was the clear intent from Chairman Martin at the time,” Markham said, referring to Kevin Martin, the Republican who headed the FCC at the time the auction rules were set.
When Martin testified to Congress about the provision, Martin made it clear that that “this condition means all handsets will be unlocked and open to all apps,” according to Markham.
Penn State University professor of law and technology Robert Frieden also thinks Verizon might find itself in a pickle.
“I would think the requirement would apply to any device Verizon marketed using that spectrum,” Frieden told Wired.com.
Verizon told the FCC it thinks the rules mean that it has to allow any third-party app or device that doesn’t harm the network, but that it can sell restricted devices and restrict apps on those devices.
As the company said in a September 2007 letter to the FCC: “Verizon Wireless’s position [is] that the Commission should not force C-block licensees to allow any and all lawful applications to be downloaded to any devices that licensees provide, including devices that are not configured to accommodate any and all applications.”
That’s not how Google interprets the rule, according to a 2008 filing calling on the FCC to make sure Verizon follows the rules.
Continue reading …

Nokia 5530 Xpress Music

Nokia 5530 Xpress Music

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bloomberg Launching Daily Live Tech TV Show Called Bloomberg West On Monday

Bloomberg is launching a new daily hourly television show called Bloomberg West next week, we hear. It’s on the air daily at 3 pm Pacific and then again at 8 pm. The show will focus on technology, innovation and business, says the promo clip that has been running regularly on Bloomberg. It’s being recorded from their new San Francisco offices.
The show is hosted by Emily Chang, formerly with CNN in Bejing, and Cory Johnson, who was most recently a hedge fund manager and is a long time journalist. It’ll will be available to 250 million people worldwide who have Bloomberg TV.
Promo clip is below.

Chrome Extension Fixes Twitter’s Grammar, Tells Us “Whom” We Should Follow

All is right with the world, as genius (and Googler!) Thomas Steiner has made this beautiful Chrome extension that corrects Twitter’s subject/object discrepancy on its “Who to Follow” feature. Grammar snobs  (I KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU COMMENT), rejoice!
In case anyone’s still confused about ”Who” vs. “Whom” usage, here’s a quick tip to differentiate courtesy of Shit You Should Know:
“To determine proper usage of who/whom, separate the who/whom clause and pose it as a question.  If that question can be answered with “he”, use “who”; if it can be answered with “him”, use ‘whom’.”

Facebook Valuation Back At A Cool $70 Billion On SecondMarket

And we’re back again with our now weekly update on the insanity surrounding Facebook’s stock in the SecondMarket auctions. Last week, the stock saw the beginning of a rally back to $27 a share, good for a $67.5 billion valuation (based on roughly 2.5 billion shares outstanding). This week, the good times continued to roll. Facebook’s stock hit $28 a share, to push the valuation of the company back to a cool $70 billion or so.
This is still slightly off the record high of $28.26 a share (a $70.65 billion valuation) set in mid January, but it’s clear that Facebook’s stock is storming ahead once again, and quickly. This was the 11th auction SecondMarket has done on the stock.

Crush Notifier, From The Makers Of Breakup Notifier, Finds Mutual Crushes

Breakup Notifier creator Dan Lowenhertz should just give up on Crate (his actual job) and just make a whole network of these types of things. After having his wildly popular app Breakup Notifier blocked by Facebook, Lowenhertz has dusted himself off and is back in the game, trying to “turn a negative to a positive” with Crush Notifier.
From his blog:
“So what does the popularity of Breakup Notifier tell us? I believe it’s that human beings, above all else, value relationships. I never knew how many people would end up using Breakup Notifier.

Weekend Giveaway: Rebtel Wants You To Have A Motorola Atrix

Rebtel is offering us one hot little Motorola Atrix to give away this weekend to one lucky reader. How do you win? Well first you have to be very very nice to animals and the environment and then you need to click through to comment.

My Message To Google: Stop Cheating

In mid February, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt expressed pride in Google employee Wael Ghonim’s brave struggle against the autocratic Mubarak regime to establish political transparency in Egypt. “We are very, very proud of what Wael and that group was able to do in Egypt,” Schmidt said in Barcelona. But what Schmidt needs to do now is apply Ghonim’s views about political transparency to Google’s own search business.
With its 70% control of the global online search market, Google’s power to make and break online businesses is unrivalled. So it’s not surprising that website owners want more transparency over the reasons why the often autocratic Google sometimes impose penalties on their businesses. But a report issued last week by the newsnavigator OneNewsPage found a distinct lack of transparency in the search business with 88% of respondents saying that paid search advertising costs lacked transparency, while 24% said that they had experienced large, unexplained falls in site traffic as a consequence of changes in their search engine status.

Let’s Calm Down On The Google-ITA Deal

This guest post is written by Daniel A. Crane, who is Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. He is an expert in antitrust law.
Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software, which provides a management system for airfare pricing and shopping services, has become ground zero for the burgeoning coalition of interests intent on stopping Google’s perceived dominance in Internet search. The Justice Department is reviewing the deal and is reportedly preparing to block it if Google does not agree to substantial concessions. Meanwhile, an anti-Google coalition has made stopping the acquisition its Maginot line. The “FairSearch” coalition, consisting of a host of anti-Google forces including Microsoft, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Kayak, and Hotwire, presents the ITA deal as Exhibit A on its website, warning that the deal will bring “consumers higher prices and less choice in travel.”
These claims are overblown. Google’s competitors naturally fear Google’s emergence as a formidable rival in travel search, but that is hardly a reason to block the transaction. Indeed, it’s a reason to approve the deal. The most likely scenario is that Google’s acquisition of ITA would allow Google a quick and efficient entry point into travel search that would expand consumer options and increase rather than decrease competition.

Fly Or Die (Tablet Edition): The Motorola Xoom And The Kno

In this week’s episode of Fly or Die, CrunchGear editor John Biggs and I do a special tablet edition where we take on the new Motorola Xoom and the Kno. (Watch the video above).
The Xoom is the first tablet to come out with the Android Honeycomb operating system, which is optimized for tablets. So you can basically forget about all of those other Android tablets that came out in January at CES. Those run the Android OS built for phones. What you want is Honeycomb, and the Xoom is your first chance to get it. Still, with the iPad 2 set to be announced next week, you might want to wait to see if there is anything the Xoom will still have over the next-gen iPad. Check out John’s in-depth review and the video below, which shows its speed and what it looks like in action.

Apple’s iPad Still Has No Competition

Editor’s Note: Jim Dalrymple has been writing about Apple for more than 15 years. You can follow him on Twitter @jdalrymple and on his Web site at The Loop.
It’s been almost a year since Apple released the iPad and we’re less than a week away from the unveiling of the iPad 2, and still there’s no competition.
There are a few very good reasons for Apple’s success and why its competitors are finding it difficult to gain any traction against the king of digital devices. There’s the infrastructure, the combination of hardware and software, and the fact that its competitors are content to settle for second best.

What’s The Real Deal With AngelList?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Mark Suster (@msuster), a 2x entrepreneur, now VC at GRP Partners. Read more about Suster at Bothsidesofthetable
There’s lots of discussion out there about a new and much-loved service called AngelList that connects entrepreneurs to angel investors.
I was reluctant to write about AngelList because the debate on pros / cons is pretty nuanced. But with some heat flying I felt it worthwhile to give anybody on the sidelines a better understanding of the issues.

The Separation of Church And Zynga: Wedding Chapels Stripped From CityVille

Zynga made a small but fascinating change to its young-yet-ubiquitous game CityVille over the weekend. Players could previously buy “Wedding Chapels,” which looked like small country churches but without a cross or other religious symbols, to add to their city. But the virtual item has been removed and replaced with the more secular and nondescript “Wedding Hall.” With two gold ring things that somehow makes me think only of McDonalds.
Err, ok.
I asked Zynga if this was in response to complaints, or otherwise why they did this. No comment from them so far. They could, of course, simply add other icons for other religions, and let people choose.
But perhaps even that would be too insensitive. Players who had previously purchased the Wedding Chapel still have it, but it’s also been renamed to “Wedding Hall.” Presumably friends visiting the city might get offended.

Memes Could Hit The Silver Screen In “The Chronicles of Rick Roll”

Move over, Chronicles of Narnia, there’s a new dreamworld of magic in town. That’s right. Andrew Fischer, CEO of Colorado-based marketing company NURV, has recruited a stellar cast of Meme-lebrities, including Antoine Dodson of Hide Yo Wife, Hide Yo Kids fame, Double Rainbow videographer Paul Vasquez, Brian Collins (the “Boom goes the dynamite” kid), and “Numa Numa” vocalist Gary Brolsma, for a feature-length film entitled “The Chronicles of Rick Roll”. The title, as you probably know, is derived from the meme to rule them all: the music video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”, which became the source of a viral prank, called “Rick Rolling”. Thanks to Rick Rolling, never again will you be able to say to your friend, “hey, you should check out this amazing video of Steve Jobs singing karaoke,” without being suspected of collusion with Rick Astley.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Zoner Photo Studio 12 Professional

Verdict: A very good package for beginners but certainly not for experts.

For: Lots of features, good user interface, RAW editor is good.

Against: No non-destructive editing, slightly sluggish, some average results.

Zoner photo studio 12 professional offers more than just an image viewer. It offers an image manager as well as an editor in one package and presents them in a slick user interface. The program comprises four components, which can be accessed via tabs on the top right corner – Manager, Viewer, Editor and RAW.

At startup, you’re taken to the Manager module which is meant for organizing your photos. The UI is very neat with a folder navigator, preview panel and browser, which are all you require for browsing your photos. The images can be sorted by name, file size, extension type, date and all the parameters present in the EXIF information. On top of the browser is a tiny tool bar that provides instant access to functions such as Quick fix, Levels, Curves, Enhance colors, color temperature and Resize. Each of these, when clicked, opens up a dialog box with a preview and sliders for adjusting parameters. You get fine grain control over the parameters, and you also have the automatic button if you wish to let the program suggest the optimal value. But be warned that once you hit Apply, you cannot undo the changes in this module; a dialog box pops up displaying the warning. It would have been better if the user could undo undesired changes, especially while tinkering with the parameters. The preview box is too small to judge the overall outcome. It would have been even better if there was support for nondestructive editing (like in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom), where the original files isn’t overwritten, but results have to be exported.

The important functions of the module are present in the menus. The Acquire menu lets you import images from storage devices, digital cameras, scanners, websites and even PDF files. The Edit menu has all the functions related to resizing, rotating, effects, etc. which is repeated in the Editor module. No doubt it provides quick access, but we feel it’s in the wrong place. The information menu has a common but very useful tool – the keyword editor. You can assign keywords to images, which makes searching for specific photos easy. The Batch Edit EXIF is another useful tool, which lets you add information such as author, description, copyright message; location, date and time to the selected images in one go.

The publish menu has the most interesting function such as Slideshow, Panorama, 3D images, HRD, Create web gallery, Upload via FTP and DVD slideshow. Using these functions is a cakewalk. It’s as simple as selecting the images, applying the parameters and saving the result after processing.

The viewer module is the simplest out of the four. You can use the arrow keys or mouse wheel to view next/previous image. Pressing the middle click button toggles full screen mode. Shortcuts for zooming are [+] and [-] on the numeric pad. Zoom steps are large and the zoom percentage isn’t displayed anywhere on the screen. The only thing we liked here is the slideshow function, which is very customizable. There are lots of transition effects to choose from, the background music can be specified, and you can add header and footer text.

The editor isn’t as elaborate as Photoshop, but you get a good set of features for basic editing and enhancements. The vertical toolbar to the left of workspace has buttons for cropping, panning, alignment, red eye reduction, selection tools and gradient. On selecting a tool, its parameters are displayed above the workspace with buttons for increasing or decreasing value. The edit menu has tools for advanced resizing wherein you can set custom image size (in pixels or percentage), set values for longer/shorter side while maintaining proportions, resampling method, etc. The adjust menu has tools for enhancing colors, levels, exposure, noise reduction, chromatic aberration and vignetting. We tried the noise reduction tool, but the results were average. The effect menu has filters and tools for an added punch to your pictures. Options such as Equalize Histogramand Mix Channels come in very handy for color correction, while effects like Explosion, Oil paint, Pencil drawing and Emboss are fun. We would have liked built in presets for each effect, but you can save the values you’d like to recall as custom presets.

The editor also supports layers and blending modes. The RAW module offers a slew of tools for processing RAW files. These are more advanced than the tools in the adjust and effect menus of the editor and they’re all grouped under various categories – Exposure, white balance, sharpness, Tone curve, Color, Noise reduction and Rotation. You just have to drag the sliders to change the parameter values, but the effect isn’t as spontaneous as in Lightroom. So it actually takes a while to arrive at the desired value, especially after trial and error. The processed RAW file can be sent to the Editor for further editing and enhancements.

Final Words 

Considering the number of features you get for its price, Zoner Photo Studio 12 Professional is a very good package. It’s very easy to use, doesn’t hog system resources, and most of the functions deliver good results. We recommend this software to those who are new to image enhancement and management, but if you’re an ace photographer who has thousands of photos to manage and is meticulous about getting pro quality results, you should consider Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or Apple Aperture instead.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

HOW TO: Turn Your Facebook Profile Photo Into a Video

Some Facebook users — myself formerly among them — are obsessive profile tweakers. We edit our list of interests. We reorganize our photo albums and experiment with awesome profile photo hacks. We weigh carefully whether we want to “Like” this Page or that, because we wonder how that information will be inferred. And we’re always just a little bit, well, bored with our profiles.

Enter FlipYourProfile, a new Facebook app slash browser plugin that allows you to replace your profile photo with a video. That’s right. You no longer have to have a boring still image in your profile photo box. You can have a moving, breathing, sound-generating profile video on loop.

The app was built by Cisco and DDB Singapore as a way of promoting the former’s line of Flip video cameras.

The application has two catches: First, only those who have the plugin installed will be able to see your video, otherwise they’ll just see your regular Facebook profile photo. Thus, if you want your friends to see your new profile video, you’ll need to persuade them to install it (and perhaps upload a video to their own profiles as well). Secondly, an ad saying, “Amazing! You can post videos on your Facebook profile. Get the app to view my profile vid,” will be automatically posted to your wall should you decide to upload a video, which is rather annoying.

Still interested? Follow these four steps to upload your own Facebook profile video.
  1. Go to facebook.com/FlipSG and download the browser plugin for Chrome, Safari, Firefox or IE.
  2. Restart your browser.
  3. Connect your profile with the app.
  4. Shoot and send video by e-mailing a video from your Flip Video cam to me@flipyourprofile.com, or by using the Profile Maker to shoot a video using your webcam or to upload an existing video (less than 10MB, .flv, .mp4, h.264 only).*
*Note: If you’re using, for example, your iPhone to shoot video, you’ll need to use a free file converter like Get Miro to convert your .mov file to one of the compatible formats. You should also shoot your video in horizontal mode; otherwise, it will appear sideways on your profile.
Try it out for yourself and let us know what you think.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Apple Now The Most Valuable Tech Company By $100 Billion; Google Closing In On Microsoft

It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t even a year ago when I wrote the following post: What Happens When Apple Passes Microsoft In Value? Yes, When. It’s even harder to believe just how many people thought I was crazy for saying that — it happened just two months later! And while plenty seemed to think that the passing of the torch to Apple as the most valuable tech company would be short-lived, let’s look at where we are today. As of market close this afternoon, Apple is now a full $100 billion past Microsoft.

Yes, Apple is the most valuable tech company in the world by $100 billion dollars. To put that in some perspective: the market cap of HP is $105 billion. Apple is now worth an HP more than every other tech company.

When I wrote the initial post last March, Apple’s market cap was at $208 billion, while Microsoft stood at $261 billion. By the time Apple passed Microsoft in May, both had market caps around $227 billion. As of today, Apple’s market cap is now $330 billion while Microsoft’s is $228 billion. In these past 9 months, Apple has gained $100 billion in value. Microsoft? $1 billion.

In fact, not only is it clear now that Microsoft will not be re-taking the crown as the most-valuable tech company any time soon, but they’re flirting with being knocked down to the number three — or even number four spot. In the past year, while Microsoft’s stock is down slightly, Google’s is up nearly $100-a-share. This has allowed the search giant to surpass the $200 billion market cap themselves. And they’re now just $28 billion away from Microsoft.

To put it another way, Google is much closer to Microsoft in terms of market cap than Apple was when I wrote that post last year. Another killer quarter and Google may be able to take them down as well.
Meanwhile, IBM is a little bit closer at $202 billion. Their stock is up nearly 40 points in the past year. They have a shot of passing Microsoft too.

And just to pre-empt all the “market cap doesn’t mean anything” comments that are inevitable, time has proven that it may mean something. When Apple passed Microsoft last year, Microsoft was still comfortably ahead of Apple in terms of both revenue and profit. Wall Street didn’t care. Investors saw the writing on the wall. Sure enough, by October, Apple rocketed past Microsoft in revenue for the first time about two decades. This part quarter, Microsoft was able to hold a narrow edge in profit, but that is very likely to fall next quarter as well. Apple is the most valuable tech company for a very good reason.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, Apple is still a little over $90 billion away from becoming the overall most valuable public company in the world. Exxon’s market cap stands at $422 billion — and the stock, much like Apple’s, continues to be on a tear.

App Filters What Pages You’ve “Liked” On Facebook: Why Isn’t This A Facebook Feature?

The meaning of a Facebook Like has been getting more and more vague ever since Facebook changed the wording from “Become a fan” to “Like” on Facebook Fan Pages. What’s even more frustrating than this is that there’s no simple way, aside from visiting the “Activities,” “Interests” and “Other Pages” part of your Facebook profile, to figure out what Pages you have liked in the past.

In essence: It’s complicated.

As many Pages employ tactics in order to “force” people to like stuff (in order to access content for example), it’s about time users had a simple way to view and manage what they’ve Liked, especially as the new Facebook “Sponsored Story” features cull information from your Likes in order to show ads to your friends.

As rough and scrappy as it is, the MyLikesBox Facebook app shows you the Pages you’ve Liked, lets you sort by them category and allows you easily remove Pages you’d like to un-Like (Note: webpages that use Open Graph tags also show up as Likes, because Facebook holds them equivalent to Pages).

I have no idea why Facebook has yet to build something like this, especially as Like button use becomes a more and more predominant marker of brand engagement. And while I wish the MyLikesBox tracking was more comprehensive than just Facebook Pages, i.e. it showed me every article and status update and person I have ever liked, Pages is a good start, for now.

Proof: Through the use of MyLikesBox, I have un-Liked at least two pages I hadn’t really meant to Like. Like.

You can try out the app here.

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