Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Indie+Relief brings Mac, iPhone devs together for Haiti

As you likely already know, Port-au-Prince Haiti was struck last week by a devastating earthquake. The rescue, relief, and rebuilding process, will continue to be a long, intensive, and very expensive one; thus, most humanitarian agencies are looking for donations to help with their efforts.

On Wednesday, January 20 (that's tomorrow), a group of over 140 Mac and iPhone developers will donate 100 percent of their software sales from the day to a charity of their choice through Indie+Relief. The charities are all helping with the relief efforts in Haiti and include such organizations as Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross, and UNICEF. Applications range in price, but they start at $0.99 so there really is something that practically everyone can afford.

Justin Williams of Second Gear Software came up with the idea of donating a day's worth of sales last week when the earthquakes hit. He was a bit shocked at the response other developers had: "I mentioned it on Twitter and asked if anyone else would be interested in doing the same," Williams told Ars. "It picked up steam fairly quickly, with companies coming on board to participate. I honestly thought I'd have about 25 companies at most. We have over 140."

Soon after Justin's inquiry, Garret Murray of pinch/zoom jumped on board, helping Justin get the website up and running in an extremely short amount of time. Manton Reece of Riverfold Software said that he thought Indie+Relief was "the perfect opportunity to be a part of something that would make a bigger difference and reach more charities than we could alone."

The list of software is quite staggering—donations aren't only being made for those listed on the front page, but also those in the "See also" sections. Some of the more popular applications on the list include Acorn from Flying Meat, Billings from Marektcircle Inc., Delicious Library 2 by Delicious Monster, MarsEdit by Red Sweater, and SubEthaEdit by Coding Monkeys. I'm a personal fan of MoneyWell for personal finance, Capo for any musician who likes to learn by ear, Tweetie for Twitter on the iPhone and Mac, and Clipstart if you own a video camera of the Flip variety. Let us know in comments if you see any other gems in the list!

[link to original | source: Ars Technica - Infinite Loop | published: 6 hours ago | shared via feedly]

Will Google stand up to France and Italy, too? | Rebecca MacKinnon | Comment is free | The Guardian

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Here's to the crazy ones: a decade of Mac OS X reviews

Internode launches 3G "MiFi" router for automatic hotspot connectivity - News - PC Authority

Adding up the explanations for ACTA's "shameful secret"

Why is an intellectual property treaty being negotiated in the name of the US public kept quiet as a matter of national security and treated as "some shameful secret"?

Solid information on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been hard to come by, but Google on Monday hosted a panel discussion on ACTA at its DC offices. Much of the discussion focused on transparency, and why there's so little of it on ACTA, even from an administration that has made transparency one of its key goals.

The reason for that was obvious: there's little of substance that's known about the treaty, and those lawyers in the room and on the panel who had seen one small part of it were under a nondisclosure agreement.

Read the rest of this article...

Ubuntu 10.04 to Include Beginner's Manual

The Ubuntu Forums are helpful, if slightly chaotic. The wikis are better organized, but inconsistent and occasionally outdated. Now a team of users and contributors to the free Linux distribution have organized to create a beginner's manual for Ubuntu, to be included by default with the next release (Lucid Lynx) in April. The manual aims to include "comprehensive guides, how-tos and information on anything you need to know after first installing Ubuntu," and is, as you might imagine, being written in wiki form, so anyone can contribute. What newcomer topics and how-tos would you like to see covered in an Ubuntu manual? [via Kabatology]

[link to original | source: Lifehacker: Ubuntu | published: 12 days ago | shared via feedly]

Google Brings Friend Connect, Social Features to Drupal & Joomla

Google has just announced that its powerfully social Friend Connect features are now available for open-source content management systems Drupal and Joomla.

Google Friend Connect (GFC) allows sites with these CMSes to integrate many social features without having to write any code. The impact of the integration has the potential to be significant, as Drupal in particular is one of the most widely-used content management systems in use on the Web today, powering sites from and to and websites for celebrities and musicians like Britney Spears and Eric Clapton. Joomla is used by such institutions as Harvard, MTV and Citibank.


Friend Connect essentially allows site visitors to become site members by using profile information from services such as Google, Yahoo!, Twitter and more. With user accounts authenticated via OpenID, site administrators can add Friend Connect's social bar, a site members gadget, the Friend Connect comments gadget or recommendations in any part of the site they choose.

In addition to adding social gadgets, Friend Connect also allows site admins to conduct polls, monitor community growth, create and distribute email newsletters, run ads through AdSense, export user data for a site's entire community (as XML or JSON) or create their own apps using the GFC APIs.

"Even site owners without programming experience can add these plugins," writes developer and open-source aficionado Mauro González in Google's Social Web blog post. "Now that Friend Connect is integrated with these popular open source CMS platforms, site owners can make registration easier for users and offer them a set of social features - all without writing a single line of code."

GFC represents an interesting - and perhaps underused - suite of tools in an increasingly competitive space. Many site owners are adding social features to blogs and sites through systems such as JS-Kit's Echo or Disqus, and Joomla and Drupal both have many extensions and plugins to allow for the same kinds of features and functions. Still, making GFC available for the CMSes that power many highly visible sites around the Web might do a lot of good for that product.

Overall, we see this announcement as indicative of a set of trends: Portable user identities, highly interactive content, portable communities and open-source software.

What do you think: Will more site users be integrating Friend Connect to allow for more social website experiences? Let us know your opinions in the comments.


[link to original | source: ReadWriteWeb | published: 7 days ago | shared via feedly]

Google Docs Adds Support for File Storage

Ever wanted to use your Google account as a storage system? Now you can. Google has announced that it will be rolling out a new feature to Google Docs over the next few weeks: the ability to upload files of any type to store in Google Docs.

For years, services like and Dropbox have offered the ability to store files in the cloud that can then be shared with other individuals or accessed easily from other computers. Google has offered Picasa Web Album users the ability to purchase additional storage space for photos, but now that space can be shared across Google Docs, Gmail and Picasa.

Free users will get 1 GB of storage to store non-Google Docs files. Google's pricing is competitive — $0.25 a gigabyte per year (so $5 gets you 20 GB of storage space). The only middling detail is that files can't be larger than 250 MB. That means that Google Docs and the Google cloud will be perfectly fine for most users, but for individuals who need to frequently share or access files above 250 MB, this probably isn't going to be the solution for you.

Google is also going to allow users to search for shared or uploaded files using Google's document search, and common file types will be viewable in the Google Docs viewer.

This is a move that users have been asking for for quite some time — and with a competitive additional storage option, we're sure it will be popular. Even for competing storage and collaboration systems, this offers an opportunity to distinguish features and offerings that Google might not match.

What do you think about Google finally adding the ability to store different file types in Google Docs? Will you purchase additional storage options or will you stick with other solutions? Let us know!

Reviews:, Dropbox, Gmail, Google, Google Docs, Picasa

Tags: file storage, Google, google docs

[link to original | source: Mashable! | published: 6 days ago | shared via feedly]

How Smallness is Changing Hardware

Sling Media's Sling Touch Control 100

In the past decade, few design trends for electronic devices have had such a seismic impact as the revolution of smallness. It's not just that the sizes of devices have shrunk; the mindsets of designers and the whole culture of design have shifted toward all things Lilliputian.

I've been an industrial designer for many years, and recently, while I was attending a medical device conference, I began to think about downsized designs and the effect that they've had on designers and device users. While medical device developers, as well as some others, have largely continued to observe the "form-follows-function" mantra of yesterday, I am spending most of my time focused on the mantra of smallness. Many of us designers are now dealing with problems that scale down to one-tenth of a millimeter, and our clients are, too.

Great skill at design and development of diminutive things is seen as a novelty by some, but is in fact rare — and in high demand. The types of decision-making and talents required to do effective design of small things differ quite widely from norms in the overall design field. Increasingly, these talents are differentiating the design leaders from the losers.

To get a sense of how companies and designers alike are affected by this trend, consider, for example, a design problem involving integrating electronics, batteries, an antenna and other components into the slimmest possible product possible. Is this just an engineering task? No, it's a company-wide problem to solve, affecting product branding and more. Designers must develop the best possible relationships with clients and employers to solve such problems in a holistic way.

Here are some bottom-up ideas for designers and those who work with them to consider, especially when optimizing work done at the small scale:

  • Management of vendors and manufacturers that you work with is critical. These are collaborative relationships where it may be very important for, say, a part provider to actually deliver products at below tenth-of-a-millimeter accuracy. Accuracy and skill at these kinds of tasks are rare. These days, a supplier who delivers "OK" quality can actually be a strategic impediment to an entire organization.
  • Off-the-shelf part selection is essentially over. If you're in need of a strategic part, you'd better secure a good source for it and work collaboratively with that source. Customization is in high demand. Components in devices now need to be nested optimally alongside others, which almost always rules out the use of off-the-shelf parts.
  • Establishing a collaborative product design process means new kinds of interdependencies within organizations. No longer is it fine to just say, "First, let's define the core of our technology, then let's productize it with some secondary technology and then we'll package it and ship it." Customizing and optimizing parts and designs that are tiny and perfect requires that core technology and design teams work effectively with marketing, sales, and operations teams on branding and many more issues.
  • Management has to adjust to new design paradigms that go on at the small scale. Executives overseeing the production of devices and components implemented at the small scale can't get by with half-hearted, uninvolved managerial gestures. They may need to know exactly how a piece of detail done at the sub-millimeter level affects an overall product, or know when an engineering team has reached physical limits.

These days, device designers are used to hearing the annoying refrain that "This device is going to be bigger than the iPhone." More likely than not, if a product really is going to be that big, it's because shrewd people were thinking about small things.

Gadi Amit is president of NewDealDesign.

In-post image courtesy of Sling Media, thumbnail of Glide TV.

[link to original | source: GigaOM | published: 17 hours ago | shared via feedly]

Asus E-Reader Has Potential To Change The Market

Reportedly, Asus will introduce the DR-570 by the end of 2010, but it won't be just another one in the crowd. The reader will supposedly have a 6" screen, but rather than using e-ink, this one will utilize a color OLED screen. They haven't been used in too many commercial products yet, mostly because of the prohibitive costs involved.

[link to original | source: Digg / Technology | published: 8 hours ago | shared via feedly]

Microsoft: Better Off Split Up?

Ten years on, Microsoft is struggling to maintain its dominance in a world in which Google thrives, Apple is resurgent, and the Internet has arguably become more important than operating systems. Where would Microsoft be today if it had been split in two a decade ago

[link to original | source: Digg / Technology | published: 10 hours ago | shared via feedly]