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New Hiptop OS Update gives Sidekick Javascript Support

Word is out that T-Mobile and Danger, Inc. will be rolling out a new over-the-air (OTA) update for the Sidekick phone. This update, as per the Danger site, is likely to be well-received because it answers several user complaints.

Some of my favorites:

  1. The Web Browser will now support Javascript, quite an accomplishment for mobile devices. The Hiptop forums are full of posts where the nontechnical users get Java (which powers every application on the device) and Javascript confused- hopefully this will cut down on that noise in addition to making the web browser usable on modern sites. An interesting test will be to use it on AJAX sites and see if it can keep up. I also wonder how the device handles Javascript pop-ups or other annoyances and vulnerabilities. Perhaps they are filtered out at the proxy server.
  2. Text Editing now has Undo! Such a basic UI refinement on PCs will be welcome on the mobile front, lthough I'm sure the beefier smart phones and PDAs have had this for some time.
  3. Search text in web pages. I've often loaded large web pages from Google results, only to find myself  scrolling... and scrolling... and scrolling to find what specifically I was searching for.
  4. Camera app now supports slideshows and can rotate your images on the phone.
  5. Select multiple messages from the email app, allowing them to be moved or deleted.
  6. Moving contacts between the Sidekick and your SIM card.

Although it's not listed explicitly, there seems to be some kind of contextual menu functionality added. The page refers to default link actions (by hitting enter) versus hitting Menu and having alternative link actions appear.

Posted on September 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What Made Opera free (as in beer)

Source: http://gigaom.com/2005/09/21/google-made-opera-browser-free/

Blogger Om Malik discovers how Oslo-based Opera was able to maintain revenue while making their browsers free (as in beer):

Well, little digging around, and hounding the Opera PR team, I found out that the decision to give away the browser came after the company struck ìcompensation dealsî with some of the search engines. Apparently, the premier tenant for browserís built-in search window, is Google. ìThe current most important deal now is with Google,î company spokesperson Eskil Siversten wrote in an email. The company indicated that it has similar referral-for-dollars agreements with the likes of eBay and Amazon.

Opera is a very nice browser. I don't know anybody that uses it except for webmasters and people using the mobile version on their PDA/phones, so perhaps the zero-cost will help drive adoption up for this browser with a history of innovation.

Posted on September 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Removes Index Size Bragging from Site

Google seems to have declared that size doesn't matter in the latest development in their continual jockeying for top index size position with rival Yahoo!

Quoting Google's Marissa Mayer, the Yahoo! News article reports:
"Mayer said that since apples-to-apples comparison are no longer possible, Google decided to stop listing the size of its index and instead invite Web surfers to conduct the equivalent of a "taste test" to see which engine consistently delivers the most results, Mayer said."

Google initially launched a debate with Yahoo! over whose index was the larger after Yahoo! disclosed that their index had topped 20.8 billion documents. Now that it appears they can't compete on size, they will have to reframe the argument to be about how they use it.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050927/ap_on_hi_te/google_page_count;_ylt=AhapTrRmbPG6fDYizcfg8gFk24cA;_ylu=X3oDMTA3cjE0b2MwBHNlYwM3Mzg-

Posted on September 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SixApart Announces Social Blogging Features in 2006

Just got an interesting announcement email from SixApart. They are developing a comprehensive upgrade to the Typepad service, to be launched in 2006, which appears to be centered around adding social features.

From the announcement:

Community Aggregation: Gives you the ability to create individual blogs and share sections of them with other users in an elegant and customizable way.

Multiple Streams: Provides a single place to keep everything that is important to you. A record of your life is created by incorporating streams from various media, like music, photos, videos and other blogs into a single customized blog with an identity of its own.

From this language, it seems like they are going to be using more RSS technology, along with some kind of content management and aggregation features. Additional information gleaned from their site alludes to their learnings from LiveJournal and will include permissions-based content management of some sort.

I've always wanted some aggregation features built into Typepad. It would be nice to be able to hit your own site, see outside content that perhaps you want to comment upon, and begin writing. So your site becomes more than a publishing medium; it's a resource for yourself. Kind of like what's going on with the Backpack site.

Posted on September 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sun Microsystems' Edgy New Ad Campaign

Sun Microsystems has been making noise lately, directly taking on Dell in their new ad campaign.
Their site features bold ads, and includes an amusing section showing advertisements that
were actually rejected by the magazines in which they attempted to place the pieces.
This buzz is surrounding the launch of several new products featuring x64 processors
that can run Linux, Solaris, and Windows, with the low-end model starting at $745 US.

See their page http://www.sun.com/emrkt/rejected/index.html to view these edgy adverts, including
"100% More Bitchin Than Dell", "Now That's What We Call An Ass-Whoopin", and "Benchmark Studies Prove
That Dell Sucks." The site even solicits new ad slogan ideas along these lines.

Posted on September 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting Use of Market Forecasting in Google

Tyler Cowen writes about Google's internal use of market forecasting to create a predictive tool for launch dates and other decisions. Market forecasting uses competitive bidding to determine the likelihood that an event will occur, and on a specific date.

Says Google: "We designed the market so that the price of an event should, in theory, reflect a consensus probability that the event will occur. To determine accuracy of the market, we looked at the connection between prices of events and the frequency with which they actually occurred. If prices are correct, events priced at 10 cents should occur about 10 percent of the time."

Market tools like this have been getting some attention in the media lately as they continue to be applied in new and interesting ways. It's an intriguing model to say the least, though I'm not sure if there are limits to their accuracy when, as in the Google case, no actual money is at stake on the part of the bidders themselves.

Posted on September 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Google Secures WiFi for Windows

John Batelle, among others, mention that some telling Google URLs have been floating around. http://wifi.google.com/faq.html
being the only one that doesn't redirect you to the Google search page, proves most informative.

Many have been speculating about Google using its newly-acquired dark fiber network to create a second Internet,
or to launch its own nationwide free wifi service. While I believe the simplest explanation for that dark fiber is the most
likely - they need that fiber to move their massive datasets around - there is a faint possibility of something very exciting coming
out of it.

Enter wifi.google.com with its beta (of course) download of Google Secure Access. From reading the FAQ, I think the rumor-mill is missing
the point on this one. This IS a relevant, exciting development in and of itself! Secure Access appears to be a simple VPN or encrypted proxy client meant for
users to employ on their laptops when using public, and therefore untrusted, wifi networks. This really is huge because of the security vulnerabilities inherent
in public wifi acccess. The FAQ states that a Google employee used his 20% time to develop this app, which tunnels traffic through a Google proxy server via an encrypted
connection. Does this remind anyone of the Web Accelerator? Let's put privacy implications aside for one moment and trust that Google won't be executing man in the middle attacks
against our data... this could help drive the adoption of public wifi usage, especially for security-minded businessfolk.

Google Secure Access is also reminiscent of the older peer-to-peer proxy networks designed to secure traffic against prying corporate
firewalls. But for those who don't want to be running a P2P traffic app on their machine, thus providing free bandwidth to unknown entities,
the public encrypted proxy model becomes more attractive.

Although it seems that Google does in fact have a few public wifi networks in operation now, and this client is meant for use there specifically,
the FAQ does state that the Secure Access system should work with other networks. It would certainly be exciting to see a large-scale deployment of free wifi,
but for now, let's recognize this small but greatly significant development for its own merit.

Posted on September 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ROKR Buzz Unimpressive... Or Is It?

It seems the ROKR phone, which I regarded as a tentative and incomplete but reasonable first step in testing the waters of a music player/phone convergence device, has not impressed the tech media and the bloggers.

Keep in mind that this is not an Apple phone, and was not designed by Apple's industrial design gurus. To see the iPod Nano and try and compare the Nano to the ROKR is comparing apples and bananas- there are similarities but there's more to contrast than there is to compare. Instead, the ROKR is a Motorola phone that runs a mobile version of the iTunes software. The distinction is an important one to make- if you view the ROKR alongside other Motorola phones, you see it fits in with their design style. Whether for good or ill is another discussion; I certainly have mixed feelings about Motorola phones in terms of design but they have a solid functional offering.

The ROKR E1 may be a testing of the waters. Perhaps Apple wanted to start small so as to avoid cannibalizing precious iPod sales. Rather than make the huge investment into building their own iPhone, which would have large R&D costs due to the high level of Mac integration that will be required for such a device to succeed, they partnered with an established phone manufacturer so that the risk is not as great.

If the ROKR concept takes off, great. If the market decides that phones are not good mp3 players, the damage will be kept somewhat at bay. But the biggest risk may be in not producing such a phone at all- there are other players in this space, and if the market takes off, Apple risks being left behind.

Put in that light, the ROKR might be good business strategy as a test balloon.

Posted on September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Free Mac Mini Contest

The Apple Matters site is running a contest to help drive forum membership.
Beginning 9am EST September 19th, 2005. until 12 AM October 21st, 2005 any forum
post counts as an entry for the first prize of a Mac Mini and 250 GB Newer Tech miniStack.
There will also be five copies of Hadley Sternís iPod and iTunes Hacks book given
out as a runner-up prize.

Posted on September 14, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Samsung Announces Improving Flash Memory Capacity

A 32 GB flash iPod may be in our future. Samsung has announced that they've
developed a 16 Gb (that's giga-BIT, not -BYTE) flash memory chip. These chips, when
assembled into a flash memory card for use in, for instance, USB keys, mp3 players, or
digital cameras, would constitute a 32 GB (that's -BYTE) flash memory card.

With the positive buzz surrounding the iPod Nano, which at present has a 2- and a 4-
GB version, I forsee a future with larger and larger mp3 devices, sans hard disk technology.
Even more interesting is the proposition that these drives, if made at a large enough
scala that their price points would be affordable, could also go into portable computing
devices and mobile phones, which seem to be held back in part by the power and size requirements
of mini hard disks, and which instead remain in the low-capacity flash realm.

Posted on September 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack