New Augmented Reality Cards for Valentines Day

When you think of a High Tech Media company,  the name Hallmark doesn’t normally come to mind.

However, this Valentines day, you might just change your toon…

Hallmark will be offering new Web Based Augmented reality greeting cards for Valentines day!

Video of the technology after the jump.

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The Lie That Will Ultimately Kill Facebook

Yesterday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke to an audience at the TechCrunch Crunchie awards about privacy and their descision to automatically make all content open and publicly available by default.

His statement and reasoning is that privacy is no longer a “social norm”.  Essentially that we should assume everything we say and do will be made publicaly available.

Bullshit.

This is an all-out lie, plain and simple.

The reasoning for Facebook to open up their content – and actually their users content – to the public is about money and nothing else.

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Brilliant Move by Twitter: Allowing Big 3 to DataMine

It came to light today that Twitter is in talks with Google and Microsoft (and by default, Yahoo!) that would allow open access to Twitter’s Data feed.

The aparent non-exclusive deal that Twitter is signing would allow the Search Engine Heavyweights to display and monetize twitter results along side of regular search engine results.

This is an absolute brilliant move by Twitter on multiple fronts; Establishing a foothold in the “real time” search realm, monetizing their extremely popular service, and also reducing future possible development costs.

 

A Win-Win for both sides

As I’ve said before, Twitter’s strength lies in Search and real time data.

Up until now, in order to take advantage of it’s unique position, Twitter would need to develop a very intuititive – and expensive – search algorythm Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have spent years and billions of dollars developing.

On the other side of that coin, the big three search engines would need to invest an equally large amount of money creating, marketing, and maintaining a service in size and scope to match Twitter.

Now, with this agreement, both sides can take advantage of this new found arena of search… real-time.

A monetization method for Twitter

In addition to the market share Twitter will be receiving from this deal, it also answers the very old question of  Twitter’s monetization strategy. 

This is something that Twitter has been grappling with for a while… how to monetize it’s vast amounts of data and subscriber base WITHOUT alienating it’s users by placing ads within the content.

The monetization of this deal will come two fold:  First, there’s the licensing fee from the search engines which will probably total in the Millions of dollars.  Second, Twitter will more than likely construct a deal that allows them a share of the ad revenue other sites would use to display the service.

So, in a sense, Twitter would be making money off advertising, without having to worry about those pesky ads.

The Internet Manifesto… A Must Read for ANY Journalist

This has been stirring up some controversy lately in and around the journalism field over the past few days.

The Internet Manifesto – How journalism works today. Seventeen declarations.

What originally started as small declaration by a few German bloggers has recently been translated into English and several other languages and has quickly turned into the front line of the fight between “traditional” journalism and the web.

Since I work in both the print and the web side of this issue, it’s interesting to see how these declarations play out from both perspectives.

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Is Twitter the Google-Killer we’ve been looking for?

Twitter Replacing GoogleThere are literally hundreds of thousands of articles on, about, or around Twitter.  Most of them have to do with the communication side of things.

It is a change-agent to the way we communicate and consume information from person-to-person.

However, what most people don’t realize is Twitter’s real future, may lie in search… in one form or another.  More info after the jump.

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Amazon gets into the URL shorten biz with amzn.com

a_com_logo_rgbHere’s a nice little tid-bit I found today… Amazon.com has (unofficially) launched a URL shortening service for it’s products.

This really doesn’t come as a huge suprise, considering Jeff Bezos has invested in Twitter and the huge explosion in Twitter’s popularity lately, it only make sense that they would harness this power to integrate with their services.

How it Works:

First, find the product ID of the item you’d like to distribute… in this case, let’s use Amazon’s Kindle eBook reader: B00154JDAI then simply add it to the url http://amzn.com/ like this http://amzn.com/B00154JDAI

This link will bring you directly to to the product’s page on Amazon. 

How Will This Be Integrated?

So, the big question will be, how will they integrate this into their service and interface.  Secondly, how will they integrate this with their affiliate program?

I anticipate two different types of URL short codes will develop… one for the public facing site (as seen above) and a second that will automatically create an additional code for the associate id.  However, with so many associates out there, it will add additional length to the overall URL… but, it sure beats the old ones:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00154JDAI?ie=UTF8&tag=currentevents03-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00154JDAI

Let the Clone Wars Begin!

With many of Amazon’s features, this will surely be adopted by many other retailers out there, offering shortened URL’s to provide quick and easy access to other sites.  Hmm… maybe it’s time I invested in a URL shortening service.

My Article on FreelanceFolder.com

freelancefolder-logo

For those of you unfamiliar with the site, FreelanceFolder is a great blog centered around the Freelance way of life.  It’s an indispensible resource for freelance designers, developers, and writers looking for insights and advice on a freelancing career.

Last month I submitted an article on the proper way to handle issues and problems that WILL arise throughout your working career: How To Handle Screwups When They DO Happen.

Google Earthquakes

I recieved my monthly Google Friends newsletter today and noticed an interesting new feature… Google Earthquake.

Like other built in search functions like showtimes, stock quotes, and definitions, by simply typing in “earthquake” into the search engine, it returns the most recent, measurable earthquakes across the globe.

The data is provided by the United States Geological Survey (www.usgs.gov) and includes the magnitude, the location, the time, and even a cool little link to a Google Map of the epicenter.

This might not be something extremely useful, but it’s still kinda cool.

Google EarthQuakes

A Pet Airline… or an April Fools Joke?

So, It’s 5:00 and I’m browsing blogs and news for the afternoon and I came across this little post on TechCrunch… About a new service called PetAirways.com.

Essentially, it’s an airline dedicated solely for shipping pets around the country.

At first, I wouldn’t believe this, but then again… there’s pet daycares, pet hotels, and even pet spas, so this isn’t too far out of the question for someone to actually invest in.

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Bespin: A Cloud Based HTML Editor Even Lando Would Use.

bespinlogoOk, so I apologize for the uber-geek star wars reference in the title… but, i couldn’t pass it up… And for those of you who aren’t Star Wars geeks, Bespin is the name of the Cloud City from Star Wars Episode 5.

Bespin is an experimental online Code Editor by Mozilla Labs. 

I had a chance to login and check out the service for a few minutes today and it has some promise.  Even though this is just a technology preview and not a full production tool, it has some interesting capabilities.

Working with a few of the sample files included in the preview, it has many of the standard features you would find on a basic code editor… code highlighting, code repository, view files in a browser, etc.

It also includes an interesting command line option below the editing screen.  This provides you with a quick access to a few common functions.  So, instead of crowding a screen with hundreds of buttons, you have access to them through a command line.

As I was playing around with it, I tried to find the option to upload a single page, but it does allow you to load a project .zip or .gz file.

As a freelance developer, having the tools available to quickly modify a file online and on the fly is a great advantage.

It’s going to be interesting to see this grow and if it becomes a viable product in the future. 

Newspapers: It’s not the Format, It’s the Experience.

NewsPapers

For years now, the publishing industry has been having problems.  From Magazines to Newspapers, readers are leaving in droves to the web.

So, what is the obsession with having an newspaper delivered to your door every morning?  Why does it matter if the same content is delivered via email, on a phone, or on a browser?  Why are so many people so upset about having their local newspaper shut down? 

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Unbelievable Picture of the Inaguration

This may be old news, but it’s a great example of how technology is moving forward.

It’s a picture of the President Barack Obama’s inaguration.  What makes it unique is that it’s an extremely EXTREMELY high resolution picture, which allows you to zoom in to the entire picture. 

What I find most fascinating is looking into the crowd at some of the people’s expressions and faces.  They have no idea they’re being watched. 

The picture first provides you with a panoramic shot of the inaguration and it’s attendees.  Then, the controls on the left – similar to Google Map’s controls – allow you to zoom in, out and pan in all directions. 

When you zoom in, you can view objects and people with remarkable clarity for the distance they’re being shot from. 

Click Here to View

GigaPan Image of the Inaguration

UPDATE: It looks like you can also purchase the equipment from http://www.gigapansystems.com/ that will allow you to take a normal digital camera and turn it into a GigaPixel picture.

Which Came First, the Science or the Logo?

New Pepsi LogoAs some of you may have noticed, Pepsi recently redesigned their logo with a fresh new twist on their old design. 

Now, this may not be something most people would comment about, but a recently leaked document on the design process, attributed to the Arnell Group, shows the process behind the remaking of this iconic brand identity.

If you’re into design or branding, I recommend you take a look at this pdf.

Here’s a small excerpt from this document:

 The Pepsi ethos has evolved over time. The vocabulary of truth and simplicity is a reoccurring phenomena in the brand’s history. It communicates the brand in a timeless manner and with an expression of clarity.

Once you go into the document, it’s clear that a lot of time and effort has been put into the concept of the new logo and branding. 

They examined everything, from the history of the logo, the bottles, even into classical art and concepts of the early masters.

So, I have to wonder… was all of this research prior to the launch of the new logo… or did they come up with it afterwards?  However, if you’re spending millions of dollars on a new logo, you probably want more than a napkin sketch.

Great job to the people over at Arnell Group. It’s a brilliant piece of work.

An API With a Social Conscious

KivaEarlier this month I wrote about a new type of lending and investing service called “Micro Finance” which enables anyone to make a small investment and help end poverty.  The blog post I wrote about was an eBay organization called MicroPlace

Today, a similar service called Kiva.org released an interesting API that allows outside developers to connect to their database and build applications around their data.

Web Services and API’s are nothing new… companies like Google, Amazon, and eBay have been integrating them into their services for years.  However, this is the first time I’ve seen a non-profit organization open up their data for outside developers.

Here’s a few examples of the types of data available through this service:

  • all of the loans at Kiva currently raising funds
  • all of the entrepreneurs from Uganda and Peru which have fully repaid their loans
  • the latest lending activity on Kiva
  • financial nitty-gritty for any of our loans
  • the list of loans made by any one of Kiva’s lenders with a public lender page

API’s can be a very successful way of extending the brand and reach of an application and I’m extremely pleased to see Kiva embrace this type of model.  It will be interesting to see what developers create.

Google Bans the Internet… Give that Man a Raise!

We’ve all been there before… accidentally hit the “reply-all” at an innappropriate time, do the time zone conversion wrong and don’t show up for the big meeting, forget to do a 3rd spell check before an email newsletter gets blasted out to 2 million subscribers.

Most of the time, these types of mistakes are either brushed off or overlooked because, hey… they happen.

Simple Global Error

However, as you may have heard this weekend… a simple mistake by a Google employee essentially banned the entire internet for about an hour. 

It was later explained in a Google Blog Post that it was a simple error made by an employee, who mistakingly put in a “/” instead of an actual domain name.  Essentially, marking the entire internet as Malware.

Give That Man a Raise.

Now, why would I say to give that man a raise?  Well, first and foremost, I certainly hope he didn’t loose his job over this.  These kinds of mistakes happen and if Google seriously doesn’t have the safeguards in place to prevent this type of thing from happening… it’s their own fault. 

He should get a raise, or at least a bonus, for the Millions of dollars worth of free publicity they’re recieving over this.  Not to mention the amount of exposure to the fact that they actually mark malicious sites for you… how many people do you think actually knew about that?

This story has been on all the major Tech Blogs, Reuters.com, and CNN.com… so literally, Millions of dollars worth of free publicity.

Reacting to the Unexpected

Ok… Ok… I know this is a fluke and not something he should be given a raise for.  We don’t want to reward carelessness.  But, at the same time it just goes to show that you never know when a tragedy could turn into an opportunity. So, always be prepared.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Day of Service

mlk2005_cncs_smallTo coincide with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, an effort is being made to transform MLK Day into a day of service.

To take part of this program, I’m pledging to create one post per day this week highlighting various charities, organizations, and efforts both within the United States and across the world.

In addition to my blog posts, I’ll also be pushing this across various social applications and profiles I belong to, including Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, delicious.com, myspace, and other profiles.

I encourage you to take part in this transformation and spread the word, serve, or donate to honor this great man.

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Work for Google… Sort-of

Google today announced a new reseller program that allows “qualified” individuals and businesses to resell Google Apps.

What I find interesting about this move, is that it’s one of the first steps Google has taken to move it’s marketing and business outside of the automated route it normally takes with applications like Google Adsense and Adwords.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, Google seems to be working it’s way to becoming a major player in net based operating systems.  Obviously, this can’t be successful without the support of business clients as well as personal accounts.  Since most real business is still handled face to face, this is a natural move.

How it works

The premise is pretty simple… Google will offer the services to qualified resellers at a 20% discount.  This means that the normal charge of $50.00 / account / year would be offered for $40 to resellers.  Then, the resellers simply keep the profits above and beyond the standard charge.

Essentially, Google bills you… then you bill the customer with a markup.

The business opportunity here is interesting, because it’s one of the first offerings for a cloud based application with a business level of service.

I do have to wonder though, if the $10 profit per year, per user would be enough to support a full time job, or if it would just be an add on to an existing business.  I guess we’ll have to see.

Brick and Mortar?

An interesting idea and one that we might see in the near future, are these services being offered in brick and mortar retailers like Best Buy.  It would be interesting to see a nice, clean box with a Google logo on it sitting right next to boxes for Lotus and Microsoft Office.  Or, maybe even a card similar to to the itunes cards you see at the checkout lines at your local Walmart or convenience stores offering yearly subscriptions, or monthly for that matter.

Twitter Updates It’s Design!… But Still No Search?

Well Well Well… I logged in to Twitter this afternoon to go on a little rant about the new McCain campaign ads and got a nice little suprise… Twitter updated it’s interface.

UI and AJAX

Most of the changes in the interface center around the navigation elements, and I have to say they are definately an improvement.  I especially like the Following, Followers, and Updates section on the top right hand side.   Because, if you’re like me… that’s the first thing you look at when you log on.  It’s always a nice little ego boost (or killer) when it changes.

They also added a few back-end performancing enhancements in the form of AJAX additions.  While this isn’t a big improvement, every little addition counts.

Be Different… Like Everyone Else.

In addition to the AJAX and navigation additions, they also included some improved design customizations as well.  Aside from the normal “add your own background images” (which never worked well), they added a few pre-made background designs to help liven up your profile.

Doh!… No Search.

The one thing I don’t understand is why they didn’t integrate their newly acquired search capabilities?  This is the one feature I was looking forward to in an update and you would think it would be pretty simple… just add a form that redirects people to search.twitter.com.

But, at the same time, I do realize that they have a good reason for this… I’m just a little bummed.

Either way, Great job guys! Keep those updates coming!

P.S.  No Screenshot… server is acting wonky.