April 23, 2009
Posted: 01:28 PM ET
Here are a few stories CNN.com is watching today:
ECO-DATA: Wired magazine writer Alexis Madrigal has a must-read piece on how data is the key to making environmentally conscious decisions. My inbox has been flooded lately with companies that claimed they were "going green" for Earth Day. Madrigal writes about how a few data crunchers are actually trying to figure out what works and doesn't (turns out: solar backpacks, not so helpful).
SPAM: An NYT blog raises conflict-of-interest questions about a study that says spam wastes a bunch energy. One strangely phrased statistic stuck out for me: one spam message produces the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving 3 feet.
IPHONE: You may have thought that nothing could spoil the day for Apple, since the billionth iPhone app likely will be downloaded today. But you're wrong. One iPhone application is diverting attention from that milestone because it let users shake a crying, digital baby until it dies. Apple reportedly decided to pull the Baby Shaker app after parenting groups expressed outrage.
The incident raises questions about Apple's quality control measures for iPhone apps, many of which are developed independently. Here's what some news orgs are saying on that:
From the Telegraph in the UK:
And from Huffington:
April 22, 2009
Posted: 03:55 PM ET
It seems counting is all the rage on the Internet these days - particularly when it involves nice, even numbers.
Take a look at the recent news:
What's more interesting, however, is that each event gives observers a chance to weigh in on the state of the Internet, and what this tells us about our culture.
In the case of iPhone apps, there are several angles blogs and news organizations are taking:
There's plenty of talk about the most popular iPhone apps. According to ReadWriteWeb, the majority are used for entertainment. News is the next-hottest category. Apple says the Facebook app is the most popular of the free applications, and Crash Bandicoot tops the paid list (at about $6).
TechCruch writes that Apple seems to be estimating its billionth app download off of your computer's clock. At one point, Apple's counter was set to switch to 1 billion at 3:24 a.m. ET, the site says. Now the clock has been set back a bit, according to TechCrunch.
For those of you new to the app world, here's a guide.
In the comments sections, feel free to tell CNN what apps you find interesting, and how you use them. Has the iPhone changed the way you live and interact with other people? What about other phones? Are the apps as good?
Posted: 01:12 PM ET
There have been several reports of privacy scams on Facebook, and "Facebook ghosts" have surfaced as a new iteration of the trend.
Earlier this month, Yahoo! Sports created a ton of buzz when it reported one NFL team allegedly uses fake Facebook profiles to tempt recruits into unknowingly handing over their personal information.
One popular Facebook "ghost" was a blond female temptress, the site reports.
The team allegedly would use these fake profiles to get friend-level access to recruits' information on the site. The thinking there is that if a team official spots a player in Facebook photos smoking dope or partying hard, the team might avoid a bad draft pick and a potential public relations problem.
The fake profiles are called "ghosts" because they disappear soon after they surface.
I wonder if this technique exists in other spheres of recruiting? At law firms? At banks? In other sports?
More often, people leak information from their Facebook pages accidentally by posting messages their bosses or colleagues can see.
It would be difficult for Facebook to prevent scams similar to the one allegedly used by NFL teams without requiring users to input personal information when setting up an account, Smith said. That's something that's unlikely to happen, he said, because social network users would move elsewhere.
The best trick, perhaps, is to be leery of strangers who want to be your friend on the site. Here are some other tips for protecting your profile:
Do you know of examples of Facebook "ghost" profiles appearing in an effort to access your private information? Is this a concern, and if so, what should be done? Your thoughts could turn into a future CNN.com story.
Posted: 10:47 AM ET
Today in technology news, CNN.com brings you a few neat - and slightly frightening - Internet trends:
FACES: A company called Polar Rose offers a relatively new service that scans photos and determines who's in them - using facial-recognition technology. As CNET reports, the service currently exists as an add-on for the photo-sharing site Flickr. It could have future applications for Facebook (which means we'll all just have to wake up earlier to untag ourselves from embarrassing photos).
PROFILE: Google offers a new service that lets you set up a Google profile, which, a Wired blogger writes, soon could be the first search item to pop up with your name is searched on the site. Beware, the blog says, because this gives Google unprecedented power over your online persona.
DATING: Sick of the dating scene? SkyeCandy is a new speed-dating service that lets would-be love birds hold 5-minute video chats online through Skype. Check out this slightly creepy intro video on SkyeCandy's homepage.
BOOKS: For those weary of dusty library shelves (and free public services), BookSwim now offers a Netflix-like service that will ship new books to your home for a monthly fee. That paper-bound service hasn't gotten as much buzz as the e-book scene. Check out this WSJ story. The writer says digital books, an old-ish idea that seems to be catching on more because of Amazon's Kindle reader, will change the way we read and write:
What's on your mind today? Found any interesting sites or new online services? Share your thought in the comments section below.
April 21, 2009
Posted: 03:40 PM ET
Here are a few fun/interesting tech trends of the day. Making the Internet a more visual experience - and less of a text overload - seems to be on quote a few minds:
SEARCH: Cooliris has a cool tool out that lets you scan through photos and search results on a massive, 3-D wall of images. This spawned a Fortune magazine story about the future of search engines: will they always be text-based? Perhaps not.
BLOGS: There are several stories out about new government data that says there are now more paid bloggers in the country than there are paid lawyers. Not that they make the same kind of cash, although the Wall Street Journal says a blogger with 100,000 unique visitors per month can make $75,000 per year.
MAPS: IRLConnect is trying to make a name for itself with map-based social media. Using the site, you can pull in your Facebook and Twitter accounts to get a visual representation of what your posse is up to.
GOOGLE: Finally, in case you haven't seen it, Google's News Timeline is worth a look. You can pull in RSS feeds to make a weekly news timeline of your own.
Posted: 11:26 AM ET
Earth Day is tomorrow, and several news sites have ideas about how you can use technology to save energy and help the environment. Here's a sample:
SAVE ENERGY: CNET has a good overview of how technology can gobble up energy, and another story on power-saving green technologies to watch. When it come to computer energy savings, screen savers don't cut it, one story says:
DIY: On the DIY (do it yourself) side of things, NPR has a first-person story about a man who made a solar backpack that charges his iPod while he walks around Manhattan.
SMART GRID: Here's a Chicago Tribune blog about GE's "plug" on Monday of Miami's new smart grid, which an exec says is the largest project of its kind. Smart grids use automated meters to save energy. The technology is a government priority in the U.S. and in Europe these days.
ONLINE NEWS: The New York Times quotes experts who say ditching newspapers for online information may be the sustainable thing to do. The paper notes that Marriott hotels no longer will leave papers on their guests' doorsteps.
FINANCIAL CRUNCH: PC World reports on a survey that says investors are turning away from green technology because of the economic recession. But some still would like to see green tech be a priority, the site says.
AT SCHOOL: If you're a student or a parent, earthday.net has some ideas about greening your school. Among them: talk to administrators about switching to lower-energy LED "Exit" signs. One old-school "Exit" sign costs about $24 per year to operate, according to the EPA.
BICYCLE: Finally, it's worth noting that low-tech solutions can be green, too. The New York Times magazine recently interviewed the nation's energy secretary, Steven Chu (pictured above), who indicates he feels guilty that security officials won't let him ride his bike to work anymore. An excerpt:
What technology helps you be green? Tell us about it in the comments. You also can share your views on local environmental issues on iReport.com.
April 20, 2009
Posted: 09:50 AM ET
There was plenty of online chatter this weekend about file sharing and Internet piracy.
This follows Friday's news that four people who ran a popular file-sharing site called Pirate Bay were found guilty of violating copyright law in Sweden.
On Forbes.com, a Harvard professor says Google is the new Pirate Bay. The search engine serves the same function as the piracy sites by enabling people to steal copyrighted content, the professor says. An interesting example from the story:
DownloadSquad responded with a counterpoint to Forbes' story.
On CNET.com, a writer wonders if we've reached a tipping point. Will illegal file-sharing soon come to an end? Here's the article's evidence of a regulatory crackdown:
On the BBC, Paul McCartney spoke out in favor of the guilty verdict against Pirate Bay. Here's some of what he told the station:
Do you download pirated media? What should governments do about this issue? If you're an artist, what do you think? Feel free to weigh in with comments to this post.
April 17, 2009
Posted: 04:59 PM ET
Here are a few technology stories CNN.com is watching today:
ROBOTS: BBC News reports that two (likely unrelated) trends are driving robotics these days: older people and violent conflict. One expert in the story sees it this way: "Even just having robots do lightweight transport of objects from one room to another, whether it's grandma's knitting or a cup of coffee, could be tremendously valuable."
INTERNET: Is there an end to the Internet? Maybe, if your cable company says so. Nielsen Online says Internet service providers and cable companies are putting caps on how much bandwidth their customers can use. That comes as Internet users are downloading more video, particularly from Hulu, the site says.
CLOUD COMPUTING: There's been a bunch of news about cloud computing lately, and a lot of it may be hype, ars technica writes today. The notoriously vague concept generally refers to the process of hosting computer programs online. Many companies are interested, but that may not make financial sense, the site says.
FACEBOOK: Finally, what blog would be complete these days without a Facebook reference. A CNET writer wonders today whether or not the uber-popular social networking site should charge users $1 per month to avoid financial stress. What would you pay?
April 16, 2009
Posted: 11:31 AM ET
Facebook may have started in the U.S., but its fastest growth is now overseas in places like Europe, where it's spreading like crazy.
According to new data from comScore, Inc., which measures Internet use, Facebook now accounts for more than 4 percent of all minutes spent online in Europe - up from 1.1 percent a year ago.
As of February the social-networking site had almost 100 million users in Europe - a 314-percent increase over February 2008. In Italy alone, Facebook grew by more than 2,700 percent over the past year, suggesting that some Italians may be giving up face-to-face socializing over espressos for networking online instead.
In other news: Back on the other side of the pond, Americans conducted 14.3 billion online searches in March, a 9-percent gain over February, according to new data released Wednesday by comScore.
As usual, Google sites led the way 63.7 percent of the searches conducted in the U.S., followed by Yahoo! sites (20.5 percent), Microsoft sites (8.3 percent), Ask Network (3.8 percent) and AOL (3.7 percent).
Google search sites gained almost half a percentage point since February, while all the others dipped slightly except Microsoft, which gained 0.1 percent.
April 15, 2009
Posted: 11:42 AM ET
Are you thinking about buying an iPhone but waiting until the device is available on wireless carriers other than AT&T? You may have to wait a while.
Apple and AT&T met last August and agreed to extend AT&T's contract as exclusive carrier of the iPhone through the end of 2009 - at which time Apple would presumably be allowed to start selling the popular smartphone on other carriers.
Now, AT&T wants to extend that deal another two years, according to a report Tuesday evening in The Wall Street Journal.
An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment, saying only, "We have a great relationship with AT&T."
Some iPhone users have grumbled about spotty AT&T service - notably during last month's South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, where thousands of iPhone-carrying attendees overloaded AT&T's network.
It'll be interesting to see if Apple agrees to AT&T's request or seeks to broaden the iPhone's popularity by opening the device to Verizon, Sprint and other carriers.
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.