All posts by Tehseen Baweja

Tehseen likes to write about Internet tools that make life easier. Check out his blog at Ijaar.com for more good stuff or follow him on Twitter @tehseenbaweja

Google Launches eBookstore With 3 Million eBooks

Simply put, Google’s eBookstore is an effort to create the largest digital store for books, independent of publisher, device or cost. This massive collection of over 3 million ebooks can be read on the web or any device including Android, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad using a wireless collection. Your reading experience automatically synchronizes across various platforms, so if you left reading page 3 of Pride and Prejudice on your Android device, you can pick at the same spot even if you later switch to your iPad or iPhone.  Besides apps for smart phones, Google also as a Web Reader Application that can be used to read the books from any web browser.

Many of the classics can be read free of cost, while others are offered at a price range of $5.49 to $19.99. Unlike many of its other products though, Google has really made significant effort on providing a great browsing experience for the eBookstore. Books can be searched by author, title or keywords and search can be restricted by choosing one of the many categories. Results can also be narrowed down to display free titles only and can be sorted by publish date.

Consumers, however, are not the only one to benefit from this eBookstore as nearly 4,000 publishers are already in negotiations with Google to sell their eBooks through this massive platform. Major publishers are already offering their collections for a small price and sharing their revenue with Google, and Google is encouraging publishers of all sizes to use the marketplace to promote/sell their books.

Its Not Just You, Tumblr Has Been Down For Several Hours

Tumblr, the blogging platform, has been down for at least last two hours and counting. The downtime error originally only appeared when new users tried to sign up or log into their dashboard (the Tumblr homepage was working fine) but after a few minutes the whole network collapsed.

An hour ago they finally issued a public statement via their Twitter account:

We’re working quickly to recover from a major issue in one of our database clusters. We’re incredibly sorry for the inconvenience.

This is the message one gets when trying to log onto tumblr:

It is a quite  embarrassing  state of affairs for a web service that is ranked amongst the top 50 in the world and is becoming increasingly popular as a medium of expression. As a tip, if you ever want to check whether a website is really down, http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com is a great tool to do so. The tool, as of now, confirms that Tumblr is down for every one.

An Interactive Map Of Worldwide Internet Growth

Getting a speedy 15 MBPS connection for just a few dollars a month can easily make us forget the state of internet just a few years ago. All those sluggish dial up connections and that too something only a handful were able to enjoy. We have come a long way since then and a very good tool to depict that is an interactive map put together by BBC.

The map shows the expansion of cable networks and internet from 1998 to 2010. Browsing the late 1990s show the percentage of people online from most of the world was below 5% but has grown to double digits now even for some countries in the remote regions of Africa and Asia. Hovering your mouse over any country also displays the total number of internet users for that particular year. The yellow lines between continents represent the submarine cable system and it is remarkable to see how they have multiplied within last 10 years.

The best way to witness the growth is to click the play button on the slider and see the network change year to year.

With $2 Billion Annual Revenue, Groupon Says NO To Google

Google has been on an acquisition frenzy since last couple of years but not every attempt works out in its favor. Groupon, the social deal giant that has grown exponentially in popularity within last 2 years has rejected an offer by Google. The offer of $6 Billion was one of the largest offers in the internet industry, but Groupon thinks it can do better by staying independent.

Many blogs in the last few days had speculated Groupon’s annual revenue to be around $500 Million, but as it turns out, that figure only represents a single quarter. With $2 Billion in annual sales, Groupon’s decision to say NO to Google doesn’t come as a big surprise. Analysts estimate that Groupon will make an attempt to go public in 2011, but with no official statement from Groupon, its exit strategy is still unclear.

The Chicago-based daily deal startup was launched couple of years ago and now employs around 3000 people with a presence in 35 countries. The site offers group-powered discounts on everything local ranging from food and yoga classes to music lessons and oil changes. There has also been speculation about CEO Andrew Mason’s disagreement with the other two founders regarding Groupon’s exit strategy, but nothing concrete has turned up.

A similar site LivingSocial also recently received a $175 Million offer from Amazon.

London80GigaPixels: The Largest 360 Panorama In The World

A picture is worth a thousand words. How about a picture that is 80 Giga Pixels and is claimed to be the largest 360 panorama image ever created? This gigantic panorama has been created by Jeffrey Martin and captures a very large part of the city of London.

The panorama is hosted at 360Cities and provides a great opportunity to tour the city of London without leaving your couch. The best way to enjoy the image is to click on the start tour button which will then take you through different parts of the city allowing you to enjoy several landmarks and monuments. On the other hand, if landmarks are what interest you, you can also click on the landmarks button which will display a thumbnail list of around 15 different landmarks in the city of London. Clicking on any of the thumbnails will then take the image to that exact location.

You can also use the mouse arrows to move around and zoom-in and zoom-out to a great degree. The quality and clarity of the image is pretty decent even at the most detailed level. 360Cities also has panraomas from other major cities of the world giving you a 360 degree tour right from your desktop.

Steve Jobs and Murdoch Launching First iPad Based Newspaper

If you thought iPad is only a platform to host third-party apps, thing again. Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch have been working, for quiet a few months now, to launch first ever tablet-based newspaper. The paper will be called Daily and will be exclusively available on iPad. That’s right, there will be no print or web edition, a fact that will help Murdoch sell the newspaper for a small fee of 99 cents per week.

Newscorp has hired a team of 100 journalists that will be working exclusively on the Daily out of the New York office. Murdoch, as reported, originally came up with the idea after reading a research report that people spend more time reading on their iPad then on the web. And adding to that the estimate of 40 million iPads by the end of 2011, Murdoch has very high hopes from this venture.

The newspaper is set to be launched in early 2011 and if everything goes right, it may be the answer to the recent worries of ailing newspaper industry around the world. Steve Jobs is reported to be a big fan of the media legend Murdoch has become and will be glad to include this additional revenue stream to the growing collection of iPad apps.

So, Is Facebook Really Building a Phone?

The blogosphere has been hyped today about a possible Facebook phone in works. It all started with the TechCrunch post about Facebook Is Secretly Building a Phone which was quickly picked up by other major media sources including Silicon Alley Insider, CNET and even Gizmodo. Speculations ranged from building an actual phone to building a mobile platform.

Facebook, however, quickly denied the news in an official statement to Mashable:

The story, which originated in Techcrunch, is not accurate. Facebook is not building a phone. Our approach has always been to make phones and apps more social. Current projects include include everything from an HTML5 version of the site to apps on major platforms to full Connect support with SDKs to deeper integrations with some manufacturers.  Our view is that almost all experiences would be better if they were social, so integrating deeply into existing platforms and operating systems is a good way to enable this. For an example, check out Connect for iPhone and the integration we have with contact syncing through our iPhone app.  Another example is the INQ1 phone with Facebook integration (the first so-called Facebook Phone’). The people mentioned in the story are working on these projects. The bottom line is that whenever we work on a deep integration, people want to call it a Facebook Phone’ because that’s such an attractive soundbite, but building phones is just not what we do.

Many blogs, however, calling this denial a playing-around-with-words still think that Facebook is building something. Silicon Alley Insider claims that Facebook has simply denied the manufacturing of phone hardware but not the highly speculated premise that Facebook is taking Android and making it into a Facebook-flavored platform. Something that will give Facebook much more control over the smart phone industry than it currently has. That means Facebook can have their own unique mobile advertising service and many third-party apps features which currently don’t make it to mobile Facebook due to platform restrictions.

So, even though, we are unlikely to see a Facebook branded phone soon, we may see a highly customized platform that will make Facebook users less dependent on Android or iPhone.

How To Unblock Craigslist From Work/School ?

IT departments at some companies and schools are more strict than others when it comes to browsing. If your workplace or school has blocked access to Craigslist as a part of their policy, here are a couple of things that will work.

The first option is to try some general methods that would work for 90% of the users like using a proxy or playing around with your IP. But if nothing works, just head over to CraigLook.com. CraigLook is like a mirror site to Craigslist that has all the CraigsList’s content but with tons of extra features.

CraigLook lets you search Craigslist by simply entering your zip code and the keyword you are looking for. For example “TV” in “Dallas” would automatically scan all the listings and grab the ones that have the keyword TV. It will show you total number of results along with the results in each category such as “Sale’, “Jobs” , “Services’ e.t.c. You can check the box next to any of the categories to only include results from that category.

You can also restrict search results by specifying the radius you want to search in and even specify a price range you are looking to be in. You can also choose to hide listings that don’t have an image and sort the results based on date or price. CraigLook also displays information for new items from Amazon.com.

However, the most useful features of CraigLook is the ability to save your search and even set up alerts so you receive an email any time a new listing matches your specified criteria. CraigLook can also be used to post new listings without actually going to CraigsList.

Former HP CEO Mark Hurd May Join Oracle as No. 2

HP CEO Mark Hurd who is widely accredited for turning around the fortunes of HP in last decade was forced to resign from his post last month following some sexual  harassment  allegations. As events unrolled, it seemed that one of the strongest voices to speak in favor of Mark Hurd was that of Oracle CEO Lawrence Ellison who suggested that HP’s board made a wrong move.

Now, it seems like Oracle’s soft spot for Mark Hurd has  strengthened  since the two are in conversation to bring in Mark Hurd at an executive position. Even though it is not 100% confirmed what role Mark hurd would be offered, there is a great chance that he would act as No. 2 reporting directly to Lawrence Ellison. The circumstances are proving to be quite generous for Mark Hurd who will get back into business so soon, but several media outlets and analysts are bashing Oracle for this decision claiming this will demonstrate Oracle’s willingness to accept people who have compromised over work ethics.

The decision now lies with Oracle’s board of directors who will meet within next few days to make a decision. During Hurd’s tenure as CEO, HP surpassed IBM as the number one technology company with annual revenues jumping to $110 Billion from $80 Billion previously.

Google Acquires Like.com For Over $100 Million

Like.com is the latest addition to the long list of acquisitions made by Google in last couple of years. Like.com is a visual search and shopping tool that uses an advanced image recognition technology to offer an automated cross-matching system for clothes and accessories.

The CEO of Like.com, Manjul Shah, has confirmed the acquisition on Like.com’s home page, though no specific details have been mentioned about the future of the startup. Would Google simply use the technology to optimize its visual search? Is Google planning to enter the visual eCommerce arena?  Google’s intentions in buying Like.com are still unclear but what’s obvious is that Google has been wanting to get their hands on the technology for a while now. Back in 2006, Google tried to buy Riya, the original startup by Manjul Shah that used the same technology which now fuels Like.com.

The technology behind Like.com also powers some other visual shopping and fashion sites including Weardrobe, Covet and Couturious.  The rumors of acquisition first surfaced last week when TechCrunch mentioned the deal.

World’s Longest Email Address [DYK]

Here is a fun fact for the nerd in you. World’s longest email address is 345 characters long and belongs to Peter Craig. The address has actually been put together by appending a ridiculously long sub-domain and using that as par tof the email address. Here is the complete address:

contact-admin-hello-webmaster-info-services-peter-crazy-but-oh-so[email protected][email protected][email protected][email protected]-forever.pacraig.com

The address has practically no use, unless we count the effort to get attention for having the longest email address.

On the other hand, when it comes to world’s shortest email address, there are probably many candidates. Any email address associated with domains like in.com or 1.fm can claim to have a 6 character email address.

[Via Gizmodo]

Caderno Is a Free Notepad Replacement With Tabs

To me, Notepad is an  indispensable  piece of software, however, there are many times when I wish Notepad had a little more features. If you are looking for a text editor that is not as heavy-duty as MS Word or Notepad ++ but does a little more than Windows Notepad, Caderno is a pretty good choice.

In addition to all the basic features of Notepad, Caderno optimizes your editing by letting you work in tabs, display line numbers and even does syntax high-lighting for many programming languages including INI, XML, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and Java.

Along with built-in crash recovery, unicode support and code and parameter completion for PHP functions, Caderno also lets you manage your work in sessions. The Firefox style find/replace feature also comes in pretty handy when you are editing your text files. The tool works with all Windows OS including XP, Vista and 7, and also has a portable and a U3 version for USB drives.

Here is a quick summary of features that Caderno offers:

  • Tabs
  • Crash recovery
  • Session management
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Unicode support
  • Line numbers
  • Portable versions
  • Supports all Windows OS.

It is a great tool to create and edit simple text documents or code and the main reason why it is so useful is the option to use it as simply as Notepad or as extensively as Notepad ++ depending on your requirements.

Download Caderno here

Learn How To Swear In 200 Different Languages With YouSwear

Let’s face it, swearing in a foreign language is cool. Not only that, if you have a group of friends from another culture, the best way to get close to them is to learn some swear words from their language so you can feel more like a part of their team. And YouSwear is fantastic tool to learn that.

YouSwear teaches you how to swear in over 200 different languages from all over the world. The languages are sorted in alphabetical order and clicking on any language displays the swear word, its translation in English, and an option for you to vote it up or down based on its accuracy. Many words and phrases are also accompanied by handy pronunciations.  While some languages only contain 5-6 swearing terms, some have a large list for you to choose from.  These include simple words as well as large phrases describing actions. You can also search the collection, submit your own swearing words or browse through the ‘Swear of the Day’ feature.

The website is not ideal for minors or people who easily get offended with this stuff.

Yogile Is The Most User-Friendly and Collaborative Photo Sharing Tool

Photo sharing tools are dime a dozen and it takes some significant innovation for a new tool to make its mark. Yogile has done just that in the past few days. Yogile is a new photo sharing tool that makes sharing photos a painless procedure.

The sign-up process takes less than 10 seconds and is only required for the user who originally creates the album. Other users who are just viewing the album need not register at all. You can upload photos using the web interface, your mobile phone or even upload photos by sending as email attachments. Yogile assigns a random email address to every album you create, however, you can edit it to something that will be easy remembered.

Each album also gets a permanent URL so it can be easily shared via email or social network. When sharing albums by sending email to your friends, Yogile let’s you import contacts from Gmail, MSN and Yahoo! When a user clicks on an album, the pictures are initially displayed as regular size thumbnails but can be switched to smaller or larger thumbnails with a single click. Albums can also be viewed as a slide show or downloaded with a single click. Once inside an album, you can browse through photos by using the “right” and “left” arrow keys, download the image in original resolution or rotate it.

You can rename your album or change the assigned email address at any time. The albums can also be protected with an optional password or made public by checking the “List Publicly” box. The only issue is that Yogile gives you a limited space of 100 MB so it cannot be used as a photo storage website but rather a quick and easy way to share photos with friends and family.

Law Suit Alleges Disney and Playlist.com Tracked Users and Breached Privacy

A recent lawsuit filed last week alleges that Disney, Playlist.com and some other top sites using ClearSpring technology to serve widgets on their websites, did more than just that. The suit alleges that in addition to traditional cookies, the ClearSpring scripts also installed flash cookies on a user’s computer. Interestingly, when a user deletes traditional cookies, the flash cookies remain intact and were used in this case to track user behavior beyond the scope of the website.

The suit claims that users were tracked even as they moved from one computer to another and private information such as their video viewing preferences or profile  characteristics  were also collected by ClearSpring. It is still not clear if Disney and other affiliate websites that ran ClearSpring widgets were aware of the abusive tracking or not, but even if they were not it doesn’t totally make them free of  responsibility.

The suit traces its roots back to a study performed by UC Berkley researches showing that websites use Adobe Flash to  surreptitiously  collect data on users. The study claimed that ClearSpring and its rival QuantCast even use the flash cookies to re-instate traditional cookies after a user had removed them; a strategy knows as “re-spawning”.

All this doesn’t help the already troubled state of privacy when it comes to web and social media. With Google and Facebook already in hot water for allegedly compromising privacy of millions of users, something like this would even make things worse for internet companies. On the brighter side, the increased number of suits and claims of compromised privacy may just prove to be enough for the federal authorities to take serious action and come up with adequate regulations.