Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Got yourself a netbook, but you're a bit underwhelmed with the OS on it? Looking to squeeze a little more juice out of the low-power processor onboard? Easy Peasy is a Linux distribution designed to make netbooks better.
Click on the above image for a bigger view.
Netbooks are smaller than regular laptops, have lightweight processors—no dual cores, that's for sure!—and smaller screens. Easy Peasy is a distribution of Ubuntu Linux that works within those constraints. By default, it boots into a customized menu with large icons and easy to navigate menus. Those menus definitely have more of a computer-as-appliance feel to it than a normal desktop does. Luckily, if you're not into the extra-large icons and the simplified menu, you can always switch to a regular GNOME-style desktop.
Easy Peasy aims to require little or no additional tweaking or app installation beyond what you first get. Right out of the box, you can browse the web, organize media, watch flash video, and more. Easy Peasy includes Firefox, Pidgin, Skype, Transmission BitTorrent Client, Open Office, Banshee Media Player, Picasa, Cheese Webcam Booth, and the Open Office Suite, among other free and open-source tools.
Easy Peasy can be installed from both a disc or from a USB drive. Both methods of installation have a LiveCD component included so you can take EasyPeasy for a spin before committing to an installation.
Have a netbook OS or set of netbook tweaks to share? Let's hear about them in the comments.
Ubuntu has released the sixth alpha of its Linux distribution, and it firms up two of the five features we want to see in Ubuntu: a faster, graphical boot-up sequence, and an integrated software store.
They're both still in somewhat early shape, but their inclusion in the last Karmic Koala alpha before beta indicates they're here to stay. The new xplash bootup will transition directly from a BIOS boot-up screen—and a newer GRUB chooser, if it's a dual-boot setup—to a graphical loader with a progress indicator, and then straight to the desktop if the user doesn't select a username chooser or password protection. It's not a complete design-forward rethinking of the interface, but it does remove the unsettling experience of watching indecipherable text scroll past as the system boots. Check out a (suspiciously slow-moving) video capture below:
As for the Software Store, it's present in Alpha 6, embedded in the System menu. It has a spare, unfinished look at the moment, but it also seems dead set on making software installation simple, which is a promising direction.
You can check out more screenshots and details of the latest Ubuntu 9.10 alpha release at Softpedia. While we're peeking at the next release of Ubuntu, check out a few of the community-developed themes that could make their way into the default offerings for Ubuntu 9.10.
Windows/Mac/Linux: VLC—the most popular video player among Lifehacker readers—just released an update to version 1.0.2. The update addresses a serious security issue, adds 64-bit support for OS X, and fixes several bugs. The full changelog mentions a completely reworked interface for OS X (though we're not seeing any major differences anywhere except the preferences), as well as integration with the Windows 7 taskbar (which again doesn't seem all that changed to us). Still, grab it for the security update, and let us know if you notice any significant changes in the comments. [VLC 1.0.2]
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
We've been covering the story of a bank's email screw-up and the highly controversial judge's ruling that ordered Google to suspend the Gmail account of the innocent recipient of 1,300 bank customers' personal information.
Apparently Rocky Mountain Bank and Google have now reached an agreement to dismiss the case, reports CNet. However, the Gmail user in question will sadly still not have access restored to the account until the court approves the motion to toss out the case.
We're happy to see this one end somewhat more amicably than things seemed to be shaping up. But with neither Google nor the bank specifying how the issue was resolved, we're left with a nagging worry that Judge Ware's ruling might have set a negative precedent.
After all, the bank was able to use the court to successfully strongarm Google into deactivating an innocent Gmail user's email account through no fault of their own — and that's troubling, regardless of the fact that this case won't ever see the inside of a courtroom.
Many of you expressed similar sentiments in the comments of our previous two posts on this issue — do you think the case ended appropriately? Should there be repercussions for the bank who made the original error? What's your prediction on the fallout from this story: will we see more related lawsuits come flying after the dust settles?
Image courtesy of Thomas Roche
Reviews: Gmail, Google
Friday, September 25, 2009
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
You're probably familiar with Google AdSense and AdWords, Google's flagship advertising products. It's how Google makes its billion of dollars. Highly targeted text ads appear on Google search and third party websites that are part of the AdSense program. Advertisers buy ads based on keywords, with more popular keywords costing more per click than less popular terms.
This has only applied to text ads though, not banner or display ads. But speculation was rampant that Google would apply its unique and lucrative ad model to display ads after its $3.1 Billion DoubleClick acquisition.
Now that speculation has become reality. Google has just launched the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, and it is just like AdWords and AdSense, except that it is a marketplace for display ads.
First, here is what Google said in its announcement:
"We've been working hard to put these principles into practice, and today we're excited to announce the new DoubleClick Ad Exchange, a step towards creating a more open display advertising ecosystem for everyone. The Ad Exchange is a real-time marketplace that helps large online publishers on one side; and ad networks and agency networks on the other, buy and sell display advertising space.
These publishers and ad networks manage and represent large volumes of ads and ad space from lots of advertisers and websites. By bringing them together in an open marketplace in which prices are set in a real-time auction, the Ad Exchange enables display ads and ad space to be allocated much more efficiently. This improves returns for advertisers and enables publishers to get the most value out of their online content."
Essentially, the small-time advertiser or business can now buy targeted display ads on thousands of DoubleClick ad-serving websites. This could have some major repercussions on the entire web. Some possibilities:
- It could significantly increase revenue for Google, as a highly targeted ad marketplace means people are paying more for the ads they want to serve.
- It increases Google's competition with Yahoo, the current leader in display advertising.
- Highly targeted ad campaigns could effectively reach everywhere. This could be a major boon to marketers.
If you want to learn more, Google has a PDF explaining the Ad Exchange, as well as a video overview:
Microsoft has recently taken promising steps forward by engaging with the standards community and adding much-needed features in Internet Explorer 8. Although this demonstrates a willingness to improve, it doesn't change the fact that Microsoft is still lagging far behind other browser vendors. Perhaps more troubling than the deficiencies of IE8 is the tragic longevity of IE6, which was released in 2001 and is long overdue for retirement. Some companies unfortunately cannot give it up, either, because they depend on proprietary Web software that only supports legacy versions of IE.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The lack of SMS integration is a perennial complaint for Australian Twitter users. Chime goes a fair way to solving that problem, letting you update your Twitter status via an Australian phone account. (more…)
Web-based productivity suite Zoho is launching a brand new product today called Zoho Discussions. Zoho lets any business, individual or organization create public or private support forums where employees or customers can share comments around a particular discussion topic. We have a special offer for TechCrunch readers; the first 25 readers (who are paid Zoho users) to email firstname.lastname@example.org will be able to use the product for free for up to 6 months.
I had the opportunity to test out Zoho Discussions and it's both remarkably easy for anyone to set up and filled with useful features. With the new product you can create a platform for discussion forums, similar to Google Groups. The differentiating factor is that your forums can be customized and branded to adopt the look and feel of your site. Zoho even lets you pick out a domain name that coincides with your site. Plus, Zoho Discussions can be integrated with many of Zoho's other productivity applications.
Similar to any forum, Zoho Discussion lets users create threads based on a particular topic. In terms of features, Zoho has focused in creating plenty of social tools to make the discussions more interactive and engaging. For example, users can vote on comments within a forum, indicating whether they "Like" a particular comment or forum. Aside from posting in the forums, users can interact in real-time through the built-in chat feature. Within the forum, users can create a profile, follow other users, bookmark particular threads and send private messages to administrators and users.
On the administrator side, you can make announcements, make particular threads more "sticky," assign different users as moderators, remove inappropriate content and more. Plus, users and moderators can embed images and most types of files into threads as well. Like all of Zoho's products, Zoho Discussion has a freemium model, with additional features like more storage, number of forums, number of moderators priced at $25 and $75 per month.
Zoho's Evangelist, Raju Vegesna, told me that Zoho Discussions is designed to fulfill two kinds of purposes. The first is to serve as way for businesses to host a discussion forum to communicate with customers. The second purpose of the product is to be an internal platform for discussion within a business, in which case the product will be private.
This product seems to be representative of Zoho's strategy to continue to innovate and iterate by launching new products and add-ons to its existing offerings. It's almost reminiscent of Salesforce.com's strategy. Over the past two years, Zohos has added support for Sharepoint, mobile, Google and Yahoo IDs and group sharing. Perhaps Zoho knows that it will have to fight a battle to keep users from flocking to Google Apps and soon Microsoft's Web-based version of Microsoft 2010. But Zoho's strategy may be sound—the startup has reached 2 million users in just 4 years.
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