Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holiday Cell Phone Shopping Tips

"Now is the wrong time to buy a new cellphone."

Jackson Miller provides some astute analysis of the current and near-term mobile phone market, covering iPhone, Blackberry Curve, Nokia N95 and others.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why Leopard’s Time Machine Doesn’t Support AirPort Disks

Recently, I discussed how Time Machine as released in Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard does not support backing up to a hard drive connected to an Airport Extreme despite that having been a feature listed prior to release. Well, now we've got the "why."

Turns out that, as currently configured, Airport Extreme doesn't provide a safe acknowledgment of received packets and therefore data could potentially be lost during a backup without any notice given or corrective action taken. Clearly, not a situation on which you'd want to rely.

According to Alex Curylo (via RoughlyDrafted):

This was explained on one of the developer lists a couple weeks back. The problem is that integrity cannot be guaranteed — the AirPort acknowledges receipt of the data before it’s actually written, and if power is interrupted, the disk disconnected, yadayadayada in the window between the Airport acknowledging receipt and the data actually getting written out to disk, it’s gone forever with no way to recover it or even realize it’s gone missing.
The good news is that this seems fixable in a future update to Airport and so it would seem reasonable to believe that Apple will eventually release updates to both Airport and Time Machine to allow over-the-air file backups. Jump for the deets. Let's hope that comes sooner rather than later, as there are lots of other people out there besides me who think automated wireless file backup to an external hard drive is a great enhancement for laptop users.


Monday, November 19, 2007

TinyURL Drops the Ball, Twitter All Aflutter

TinyURL appeared to have the hard crash today, causing significant disruption for loads of Twitter users, and untold others, who have come to rely on the service. Twitter has been experiencing issues with TinyURL lately. Today's outage prompted this message from Twitter Status:

The automatic shortening of URLs via tinyurl is removed for the time being due to problems with that service. Alternatives being looked at.

For all those Twitter/TinyURL addicts out there, here are some alternatives to TinyURL to get you by (in no particular order and with no guarantees of reliability): - free click tracking - add optional comment/tag to the link - free click tracking - free click tracking

UPDATE: A related story and some additional alternatives:

TinyURL Outage Illustrates the Service's Risks free click tracking - free click tracking

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Costco offers major Apple TV discounts

AppleInsider reports that Costco is offering a $50 rebate on the 160GB Apple TV that reduces the price at checkout from the usual $390 to $340. The rebate is effective until November 24th, but it's unclear whether the move to clear stock is from Apple or Costco.

If it's Cosco, it could mean the larger Apple TV isn't selling as well as expected. If it's Apple, it could mean they're clearing inventory to make room for a new version. I'm hoping for the latter, but I suspect, especially in the absence of other indicators, that it's the former.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Papa John's takes texted pizza orders

I'm thinking, "Why would anyone want to order a pizza by text message? They're reaching on this one." And then they roll out the answer.

Nigel Travis, Papa John's president and chief executive officer, envisions hungry customers text messaging from malls or theaters so when they get home their pizza orders will be on the way.
Ah, I get it now. Clever.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

Sprint to Prorate ETFs, Improve Customer Service

Maybe I'll be getting an iPhone a little sooner than anticipated....

Starting in 2008, Sprint will begin prorating early termination fees.
For those not on Sprint: T-Mobile Will Prorate ETFs, Too
T-Mobile joins Verizon and AT&T, both of which introduced pro-rated ETFs earlier this year.


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Facebook Launches Social Ads

Facebook leaps forward with Social Ads, essentially allowing feed-embedded ads to target specific user behavior -- you add a band to your favorites, Facebook notes that in your feed and inserts an ad for that band. Meanwhile, MySpace is still playing catch-up, allowing ads only for big spenders and nothing by self-service.

In this announcement, Facebook also plays a little catch-up themselves, allowing advertisers to set up their own Facebook Pages (as opposed to Facebook Profiles for individuals). Facebook Pages are "distinct, customized profiles designed for businesses, bands, celebrities and more to represent themselves on Facebook." Hmm, any bands looking to migrate from MySpace?

Oh, and just for good measure, Facebook now allows you to integrate activity at third-party sites, like Blockbuster, into your feed. Nice.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sync up with the all-new Plaxo

Version 3 of Plaxo can sync your contacts and calendars across multiple platforms -- Mac and Windows apps (Outlook, iCal, Thunderbird, etc.) and web (Google, Yahoo!, AOL, etc.), oh, plus your mobile phone. Dang.

On top of that, it will sync changes when you or one of your contacts updates contact info. And notify you of upcoming events, like birthdays. Plus, it has a nice web interface so you can access it from other computers.

And if that's not enough, the Pulse add-on consolidates your feeds from various social networks (MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, etc.). Watch this short video for a quick demo.

Yeah, it's sick. I think I'll have to try it out.


MySpace gets social with Google

Right on the heels of Google's OpenSocial announcement comes word that MySpace has signed on to support the new API. This nearly guarantees that OpenSocial will become a de facto standard for developing social networking plug-in applications and it means pretty much all the major (and minor) players in social networking have aligned against Facebook. Unless Facebook decides to sign on.

As indicated in this AP article (ironically hosted at Yahoo), that still leaves Yahoo!, eBay and Amazon (and my personal fav, Multiply) on the sidelines. Unless Yahoo! decides to dance with Facebook and Microsoft, they'll have a tough time launching their own API (read: attracting developers) for Yahoo! 360°. That's right, Yahoo! has a social network you've probably never heard of.

What about eBay and Amazon? I don't think anyone expects them to suddenly launch their own general purpose social networking platforms, but either of them could write apps for other social networks or find other ways of integrating their substantial memberships into other social networks. And if you don't think eBay and Amazon are themselves specialized versions of a social network, then you haven't been shopping online in a while. Imagine what happens when all sites that feature some kind of social networking integrate with each other to some degree. Talk about your deep profiles....

Best coverage I've seen (so far):
AP: MySpace gets social with Google
ZDNet: Google’s OpenSocial: What it means
TechCrunch: Details Revealed: Google OpenSocial To Launch Thursday
O'Reilly: Google Announces the OpenSocial API
GigaOM: OpenSocial, Google’s Open Answer to Facebook
Marc Andreessen: Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web
Google Blog: OpenSocial makes the web better
NY Times: Google and Friends to Gang Up on Facebook