April 30, 2009
Posted: 09:27 AM ET
The Pirate Bay defendants may have been unsuccessful when they tried to compare their site to Google before a judge, but that didn't stop one anonymous web designer from launching The Pirate Google, a Google search gateway which tries to make the point that digital files can be accessed through Google as well.
Ars Technica scored an interview with the mysterious coder and he (or she) explained the site's intention.
While The Pirate Google doesn't add any additional search functionality, it clearly demonstrates Google's ability to satisfy a searcher's thirst for torrents, both legal and otherwise.
A short mission statement on the fledgling site's homepage reads:
Does the Pirate Google further the Pirate Bay's cause or is it simply rehashing an already failed argument? Will Google be the next victim in the entertainment industry's fight against the Internet?
April 29, 2009
Posted: 05:59 PM ET
There's been much talk in the past couple days about how useful social media is, or isn't, for disseminating information during an emergency.
A writer from CNET sums up the situation well:
On Tuesday afternoon, I posted an update to my story about the controversy over swine flu info on Twitter. I found it interesting that the top spokesman for the CDC told me he thinks social media's role in the swine flu outbreak has been positive, on the whole. From the story:
Furthermore, Nowak said studies show that, in a crisis, people tend to get their information from multiple sources. They also rely most heavily on information from the medical community, he said.
The social media conversation continues today. Check out Facebook's maps and charts that show how much traffic this story is getting there. And, of course, CNN has interactives and a map to help you understand the story.
Or, you can always follow the CDC on Twitter.
Posted: 10:45 AM ET
For President Obama's 100th day in office, the White House rolled out a stream of photos on Flickr, the photo-sharing site.
My personal favorite is the one at right, which shows the president and first lady watching the Super Bowl in 3D glasses. Thanks to a co-worker at iReport for passing that along.
As Wonkette notes, Obama used a Flickr account during his campaign, but his photographer hadn't posted any photos of his time in the White House until today. (check out CNN's special coverage of Obama's first 100 days).
The stream seems to reinforce the message that Obama is hip to social media. Instead of pushing out photos and information only through official sites - like WhiteHouse.gov - the administration has become known for using social media like Twitter and Facebook to get its message across.
I find it interesting that celebrities and politicians seem to use these mediums to get closer to their fans and constituents. Never before could so many people talk so directly with famous people as they can now online. The Flickr photos also are a technological follow-up to Obama's national address where he took Internet questions and streamed the answers online in video format.
As a counterpoint, the UK's Telegraph writes about how today's milestone is merely another opportunity for the American media to gush about the president:
What do you think? Which photos are your favorites? Do you find politicians on social media to be genuine? Is it more than a PR stunt? Feel free to weigh in on this post with comments.
Posted: 09:35 AM ET
Sorry for the swarm of Twitter news, but I thought even some of you Twitter haters out there (yeah, I see you in the comments ... ) might find a new report from Nielsen interesting.
The main finding: Only 40 percent of people who start using Twitter come back a month later. So while lots of people are trying the site, most of them aren't with the trend for very long.
That 40-percent rate is much lower than MySpace and Facebook, other social media sites, Nielsen says:
Nielsen has more on what this could mean for Twitter's growth:
On a brighter note, the ratings group also says Twitter's retention rate - those who come back to the site - has increased since Ashton Kutcher started the much-publicized Twitter race with CNN and Oprah jumped on the micro-blogging bandwagon. And there are plenty of new-media observers who say Twitter is the next big thing for news and conversation online.
It's hard not to argue that the site is already changing the way people communicate.
And it's also hard to avoid being a little amazed at the sheer pace of Twitter's expansion: the site saw more than 1,300 percent growth in roughly the last year.
April 28, 2009
Posted: 12:48 PM ET
Here are a few stories CNN.com is watching today:
INDIA: By now, you've probably heard of the One Laptop Per Child project (background from CNN), which seeks to lift poverty and spread peace by giving kids in developing countries inexpensive laptops. Ars Technica, the tech blog, writes about an interesting development in that effort: India has decided to jump on board after it opposed the program. The country also has stopped trying to create a $10 laptop after that turned out not to be possible, the site reports:
OBAMA: President Obama wants us to be creative, NYTimes staffer Andrew Revkin writes on his blog DotEarth. The president made the remark in front of a group of scientists, saying also that the scientific community needs to get out in the public. The remarks seem to go right along with Obama's apparent philosophy that innovation will help the U.S. address many of its problems. More from the post:
CREATIVITY: CBSNews.com has a blog post saying the economic recession has put Obama's technology agenda on hold. Here are some of the projects and appointments that have been delayed, according to the post:
What's on your mind today? Any technology or science stories catching your attention? Feel free to weigh in with a comment.
Posted: 09:09 AM ET
Computers are getting way smarter - or at least are trying to, as a few recent news reports indicate. Here are a few stories CNN.com finds interesting:
JEOPARDY: NYT says IBM computers soon will compete against contestants on the game show "Jeopardy!" Unlike in chess, where there are fewer possible moves or questions, it's unclear if the computers will be able to beat humans on the show:
MONITORS: CNET writes about computer monitors that can "see" whether or not you're at your desk. That's a little creepy, but it does save energy. The monitors sense motion, which leads the author to joke about trying to sit with ninja-like stillness to trick the screen:
APP WINNER: Wired has a follow-up to the buzz over the billionth download of an iPhone app. A 13-year-old apparently downloaded the billionth app - a free program that lets users exchange contact info by knocking their iPhones together.
April 27, 2009
Posted: 09:30 AM ET
That's significant, as TechCrunch notes, because Facebook largely has sought to control information on its site. The announcement could lead to programs that allow social media users with several profiles - one on Facebook, on Twitter, on Google, etc. - to update information through a central hub.
More on that from TechCrunch:
The Journal says Facebook is taking a cue from Twitter, which has been all over the news lately and has seen rapid growth in the past year:
A formal announcement is expected at 1 p.m. ET, TechCrunch says.
Posted: 07:50 AM ET
In researching a story about what it might look like if you were to fall into a black hole, I came across the concept of white holes.
This is not a new idea, but it’s fascinating, so for those of you who have never heard about it, here’s a primer.
Think of a white hole as an “anti-black hole,” according to Cornell University’s Curious About Astronomy Web site. So if black holes are places where matter is sucked in, white holes could be where it spews out, like water through a fire hose.
“Some people say maybe all that material that’s collapsing into this black hole… goes through a worm hole or some theoretical idea and blasts out in some other place in the universe,” said Jeff McClintock, senior astrophysicist, at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
Another way to look at it is through the waterfall analogy. If you think of a black hole as space falling down one side of a ravine, imagine it bouncing off the bottom and climbing back up the other side, said Andrew Hamilton, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
“But you never see that thing in nature and it doesn’t happen in real black holes,” Hamilton said.
The concept of white holes is totally theoretical and most people don’t give it much credence, McClintock added.
“Thousands of astronomers are just grinding their brains away on black holes,” he said. “You compare that to a white hole, I don’t think you’ll find one astronomer grinding his brain away.”
April 24, 2009
Posted: 10:00 AM ET
The biofuel industry has lost its battle against California regulators over rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from various fuels, including corn-based ethanol.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) late Thursday approved the controversial Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which would force fuel producers to lower their “carbon intensity” of their products by 10 percent by 2020.
“They have made a huge mistake in demonizing first generation biofuels,” said Brooke Coleman of the New Fuels Alliance, a biofuel lobbying group. Coleman called the new rules a “biased regulation that drives investment away from all biofuels.”
Carbon intensity is what fueled the controversy. It’s a rating system meant to classify each fuel by how much greenhouse gases they produce for every unit of energy that they create.
CARB Chairman Mary Nichols touted the board’s decision, predicting that the new rules will reduce air pollution, create new jobs and “continue California’s leadership in the fight against global warming.”
Makers of ethanol said the rating system unfairly ties their U.S.-made corn-based fuel to mass deforestation – not in the United States – but in developing nations. Ethanol critics say the entire biofuel industry should bear global responsibility for clearing of trees to make farmland to grow crops that will be used to make the fuel.
The rules have taken on a pretty high profile since they were proposed. Several U.S. states are considering similar measures and even the European Union watching with interest.
In the months that the debate has been raging, people have been voicing a lot of strong opinions about this issue. So, what do you think about the ruling? Fire away!
In other news, CNN's iReport wants to know what you think of iPhone apps. How do you use them? What's your favorite? Tell us about your iPhone app experience!
April 23, 2009
Posted: 06:02 PM ET
The billionth iPhone app was downloaded from Apple's App Store shortly after 5 p.m. ET today. All of those App Store downloads took place in only 9 months, so that's about 5.5 million iPhone app downloads per day, on average.
It's clear that the iPhone and its many applications are a key part of our culture and the way people communicate with each other these days. TechCrunch has some more on the speed of the iPhone global takeover (and a hilarious McDonald's spin-off headline: "1 billion served"):
The Silicon Alley Insider also wrote about the pace of downloads - and the sheer volume. By their estimate, the average iPhone user has 30 apps:
The race to 1 billion stalled the iPhone app store for a bit this afternoon, tuaw.com writes:
In honor of the milestone, I pulled in a few lists of the best iPhone apps. What do you all think of them? Tell us in the comments.
How do you use iPhone apps? What’s your favorite? Tell us about your iPhone app experience!
Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.