Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ge.tt Is A Real-Time File-Sharing Pipe, No Add-ons Required

Ge.tt Is A Real-Time File-Sharing Pipe, No Add-ons Required
Published on Lifehacker Australia | shared via feedly

Ge.tt is a clever, instant file-sharing webapp that makes sharing files simple and fast. You can share a link to your file(s) immediately, without waiting for the upload to complete, and it doesn't use Flash, Java applets or any other plug-ins. (more…)

Flickr Hack Makes 3D Model of Any City in a Day

Flickr Hack Makes 3D Model of Any City in a Day
Published on ReadWriteWeb | shared via feedly

unc.pngScholars at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a method for creating 3D models of pretty much anything in pretty much no time.

Using a sexy algorithm and the millions of photographs available from Flickr, the team can create a sophisticated three-dimensional model on a single personal computer in under a day.


The process was created by a team made of specialists from UNC and colleagues at Swiss university, ETH-Zurich, led by Jan-Michael Frahm. Their proof-of-concept was Rome, which was constructed out of 3 million images in under a day using over-the-counter graphics software, according to UNC.

"Our technique would be the equivalent of processing a stack of photos as high as the 828-meter Dubai Towers, using a single PC, versus the next best technique, which is the equivalent of processing a stack of photos 42 meters tall - as high as the ceiling of Notre Dame - using 62 PCs. This efficiency is essential if one is to fully utilize the billions of user-provided images continuously being uploaded to the Internet."

They follow-up Rome with the same process on Berlin.

The implications are interesting. Such a process could be, Frahm said, folded into consumer tools like Google Earth and Bing Maps. It could also help both disaster responders, who need a full picture of where they're headed, and tourists, who want to find out all they can about a location with a click.

Other sources: Futurity


Flock Social Browser Declares War on RockMelt with Version 3.5

Flock Social Browser Declares War on RockMelt with Version 3.5
Published on Mashable! | shared via feedly

Flock, the self-described "social web browser," is responding to the launch of RockMelt with the release of Flock 3.5, which boasts greater speed and added functionality.

The browser touts social integration, primarily through a sidebar that lets users update their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn statuses. It also has a multitude of link-sharing features, the ability to group friends across multiple services and a "Social Search" feature that displays what a user's friends are saying about a specific query.

The major change from version 3.0 to 3.5 though is that Flock is now based off of Chromium 7, an upgrade from Flock 3.0's Chromium 5 roots. Flock's Mac version is also now based on Chromium; the previous version ran off of Gecko.

In addition to the version 3.5 release, Flock also announced that it now has 9.5 million users based on installs.

Flock vs. RockMelt

Flock, first released in 2005, has been known for its social networking elements. For years, the browser was based off of the Gecko rendering engine, the same one used in Firefox. In June though, the company abandoned Gecko in favor of Google's open source Chromium engine in an attempt to completely reinvent itself.

The social browser space gained renewed attention when RockMelt made its debut earlier this month. Based on the premise that current browsers are designed for an antiquated web and that the modern browser needs to live in the cloud, the Chromium-based browser was able gain a lot of traction for its limited beta launch. It also doesn't hurt that one of its financial backers is Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape.

Flock is clearly aware of the threat that RockMelt poses to its browser and to its business. In fact, it's so acutely aware of RockMelt that it created a 24 point comparison chart where it slams its upstart competitor for being cumbersome and new to the social browser game.

Here are just a few of Flock's counterpoints to RockMelt:

- "We think RockMelt will be difficult for average users to use, given the configuration and clicking required. Three years of user testing and input has told us that they don't want to go to all this work in their social browser and they don't want to open up multiple windows to see what's going on. They want to see what's important to them in a glance."

- "RockMelt's search experience is cumbersome and it doesn't give you all the goodness of Google. RockMelt has added a Firefox era-like features of two search boxes — you put something in search box, a panel pops up that just gives you Google results in a panel without taking you to Google. This introduces a pop up window on top of Google and duplicates functionality already available from Google."

- "Sharing is multi-click and cumbersome. You have to click the Share button — pick what you want from a drop down box. Several clicks are involved — up to three clicks."

Today's release makes it clear that Flock isn't about to roll over and play dead to the competition presented by RockMelt. This is just the opening salvo of the social browser wars.

More About: Browsers, chrome, Chromium, Firefox, flock, RockMelt, Social Browsers

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Forget Net Neutrality, Comcast Might Break the Web

Forget Net Neutrality, Comcast Might Break the Web
Published on GigaOM | shared via feedly

The fight that erupted today between Level 3 and Comcast involves an esoteric agreement between two of the Internet's big players providers colliding with a series of equally arcane policy arguments, but at its core this fight is about money. Yet what has begun as commercial dispute may end up fundamentally changing how the web works and who pays for it.

So what's the issue? Level 3 told the world that Comcast had hit it up for more money in order to deliver traffic from Level 3′s customers (such as Netflix) to Comcast's 17 million broadband subscribers. Level 3 said that Comcast's demand for more dough violated the principles of the Open Internet, which is shorthand for network net neutrality. On the other side, Comcast, said Level 3 was trying to sell itself as a CDN while not having to pay fees to Comcast as other CDNs do. In short Level 3 was calling itself a CDN to its customers and a backbone provider to Comcast. This (plus the fact that it owns  one of the largest Internet backbones networks) enabled it to undercut its competitors in the CDN business because it didn't have to pay the fees that Akamai or Limelight did to get content onto Comcast's network.

For example, Level 3 even told people back in 2007 that it can deliver CDN services for the same price as Internet access– a feat made possible because it owned its own networks. So when Comcast pointed out that Level 3′s traffic was increasing by more than double to reach a 5:1 ratio when compared to the Comcast traffic sent over Level 3′s network, it was justifying its decision to act, something that is covered in Comcast's peering agreement. (For detailed analysis of Comcast's peering agreement check out this post from Vijay Gill.)

Peering is the face of this issue — the idea that Internet Service Provider A allow traffic from similarly sized and loaded networks to traverse its own at no cost because its traffic gets a pass when it's on networks owned by ISP B or ISP C. However, the soul of this issue is how it exposes how uncompetitive the nation's broadband networks really are. The very threat that Level 3 alleges Comcast made — essentially that Level 3 could accept the proposed fee or Comcast wouldn't deliver Level 3′s content — should lead to concern.

This is a problem the Congress and regulators cannot ignore. Just as in the recent retransmission fights in the pay TV world, these rumblings between giant companies leaves consumers in the lurch, even though they actually have paid for access to the Internet — that is the whole Internet, not one that is approved by Comcast or some other company. The problem of course is lack of competition in the broadband markets.

For the consumers who aren't confused by their inability to access certain content and decide to switch to a provider that is working with Level 3, there aren't a lot of choices. Typically areas have only two ISPs– a cable company and a telco, and many ISPs are now offering service with annual contracts which could lock a consumer in. Plus, what happens if AT&T or Verizon decide to address this imbalance of traffic with Level 3? It is after all not uncommon for there to be an imbalance of traffic given that consumers tend to request data from Level 3 and backbone providers far more often than they upload contant to Level 3′s end customers.

It's not far-fetched, given that by getting Level 3 to pay more for delivering a CDN service that essentially is the same as its interent access, but does send more Level 3-specific traffic onto Comcast's network, Comcast is getting Level 3 to pay for the increase in traffic on its network. One can wonder if Akamai's CDN fees are calculated on the traffic it sends to an ISP or how much space its servers take up in the ISP's data center, but with Level 3 and Comcast there's no need to wonder. It's about the traffic. This idea of content providers paying ISPs to deliver the traffic to consumers, while consumers pay ISPs for access to the pipe isn't a new one.

If that flies, then companies such as Google or Hulu may find themselves paying more for peering. That's great for the ISPs, but again it's not like there are myriad opportunities for a company like Google to exert its market power short of building its own networks. For example if a large content provider wants its services to reach folks in Rochester, New York, it has to work with either Frontier or Time Warner Cable. So while Comcast and Level 3 fight their commercial disagreement over peering in the press and possibly in front of regulators, the real people to suffer will be those who depend on the web. Not because Comcast has decided to call Level 3 on it being a CDN, but because of the lack of real competition in our broadband networks.

Yup, we have a problem!

Related GigaOM Pro Content (sub req'd):

WatchMouse Transaction Monitoring: Set up a public web status page in six minutes!

Kinect is Selling 2X as Fast as the iPad

Kinect is Selling 2X as Fast as the iPad
Published on ReadWriteWeb | shared via feedly

kinect150logo.jpgThe iPad was crowned the fastest-adopted consumer electronic device ever last month, stealing the title from the once-coveted DVD player. Records are made to be broken, though, and the Microsoft Kinect has already come out of the gate twice as fast.

25 days after its launch, Microsoft said today that it has sold 2.5 million motion-detecting Kinect devices. Granted, that includes sales over the Black Friday shopping holiday, but reviews of the device have been positive. Apple took twice as long to sell its 2 millionth iPad. These seem to be the days of the radically new interface.


Kinect Sales

2.5m in 25 days = 100k per day
$150-$399 each

iPad Sales

2m in 60 days
3m in 80 days
4.5m every 90 days = 50k per day
$500-$830 each
In May of 2010, Apple announced that it sold 2 million iPads after two months of availability. At a base price of $500 each, that meant that Yankee Group analyst Carl Howe's prediction that the iPad would become the fastest consumer product to hit $1 billion in sales in history was proven correct.

ReadWriteWeb's Audrey Watters reported in October that the iPad kept up a torrid pace for months. "The iPad sold 3 million units in the first 80 days after its release in April, and its current sales rate is about 4.5 million units per quarter," she wrote. That pace of sales, according to analysts at Bernstein Research, made it the fastest growing consumer electronics device of all time.

Now this. The Kinect sells for substantially less than the iPad ($150-$399 at Best Buy vs. $500-$830 for the iPad) but more have been sold in the product's first 25 days than were sold in the first 60 days after the iPad launched.

Can the Kinect sustain that rate of sales? Only time will tell, but early adopters appear likely to spread positive word of mouth about the product - as will Microsoft's massive advertising machine. For context (and to put a grain of salt in play here), the Wii has sold 75 million units in 4 years. That's a little bit more than 50k per day, on average.

For now the Kinect is focused on game play, but some people believe it's only a matter of time until it becomes the interface for many other tasks, from browsing the web to controlling various devices around the home. If Microsoft learns as well from the nascent Kinect jailbreaking community as Apple has from the iPhone jailbreakers, the Kinect could soon gain official support for all kinds of different uses.

Above: The MIT Media Lab hacks the Kinect to browse the web with it.