Digg Founder Claims Google Is Launching a Facebook Killer?

Digg Founder, Kevin Rose posted this on his Twitter account recently:

Ok, umm, huge rumor: Google to launch Facebook competitor very soon “Google Me”, very credible source

While he labels it as a huge rumor, he is not somebody who would throw stuff in the air without any concrete support. So is Google really launching a new social service that could kill Facebook? The answer is both Yes and No. Facebook is as strong in the social media market as Google is in the search engine market. It would be nearly impossible for a new comer to move either of them from their respective positions. However, there is another very interesting option Google has.

As The Next Web reports, Google’s social network Orkut is still used by over 100 Million users worldwide and while Google Buzz failed to meet users’ expectations, it has another tens of millions of users. If Google launches a new service by combining these two, it can have half of Facebook’s traffic i.e. 250 Million users in no time.  Throw in improved privacy features and a half decent interface and many users would leave Facebook for an alternative, specially if it is backed by a brand like Google.

Do you think Google will succeed if it launches a serious  competitor  to Facebook?

[Via SFWeekly]

ViewAt: Explore/Share Panoramic Photos Online

You don’t have to be a photography expert to appreciate the beauties in panoramas. These wide angle photographs encompass the view so amazingly that it looks almost real. If you have an interest in panoramic images, ViewAt is a great website to check out.

ViewAt has a large collection of panoramic photos that can be views, shared and rated. The images with highest ratings are automatically displayed on the home page along with their creators. You can browse through the images using categories like nature,  technology, historical places e.t.c. or search for them by location. Once you click on a panorama to view, it does take a few seconds to load but the wait is worth it. You can click and move your mouse in any direction to see that side of the panorama. The image allows you to zoom in and zoom out to get a closer look.

Panoramic Images

You can view the image in regular or high resolution, post comments on it, share it with your friends or find other panoramas for nearby locations.  You can also sort the  collection  by ratings or add the ones you like to your favorites. Each listing also includes a brief description of the location/event and the type of equipment use to capture the image. You can click on the creator of the panorama to see more of their work. If you like something, share it with the world by email or by embedding it on your web page. Embedded below is an example of a panoramic photo from ViewAt:

It is a great site for photography inspiration and to share your amazing work with the world.

Create Gantt Charts Online Using Tom’s Planner

If you have ever participated in Software Development Life Cycle or Project Management, you know how helpful Gantt charts can be. They allow you to easily illustrate the project schedule and sum up different stages and timeline of a project in a single view. Software like MS Project let you create Gantt charts but can be too time consuming and complex. Tom’s Planner is a web-based alternative that lets you create Gantt charts easily without requiring much effort or resources.

Tom’s Planner not only provides you a super easy Drag and Drop interface, but also gives you helpful instructions and tips to create an  efficient  Gantt chart. Use the right click of your mouse to add more periods or symbols to your chart or double click to edit any chart details. You can save your schedules, open existing ones, print them, export them as image or even export them to MS Project. The tool also has a number of templates that you can refer to as an example, or use as a starting point for your chart.

Create Gantt Charts Online

This is all good but the best part is collaboration. You can invite other users to work on your Gantt charts or simply embed your chart on a website or blog using an iframe. The tool keep tracks of which user modified the chart last and when. Over all, it is one of the must-have tools for any project.

TeenChatDecoder: A Guide To Chat/SMS Abbreviations

Adults may be experts when it comes to technology but nobody has mastered the art of chatting/texting like teenagers. Always short on time but having a lot to say, teenagers use a wide variety of abbreviations to get the message across. Some of these may be really straight forward like LOL or GTG, but many have developed into complex codes such as ROFLGO (Rolling On The Floor Laughing Guts Out) or PAL (Parents Are Listening).

If you have often come across terms like these but never knew what they mean, here is a tool that you’ll love. TeenChatDecoder is a huge collection of abbreviations commonly used by teens to chat or text with their friends. Just start typing an abbreviation and the auto-suggest will show you several matching terms along with their meanings. The site also offers several online safety tips for parents and links to many parental control software.

Teen Chat Decoder

Here are some of the more interesting abbreviations we found:

  • PABG – Pack a big gun
  • GJP – Good job partner
  • ROFFNAR – Rolling on the floor for no apparent reason
  • dfw – don\’t f*cking worry
  • SSDD – Same sh*t different day
  • VH – Virtual hug
  • TYCLO – Turn Your CAPS LOCK Off (You’re Shouting)
  • TYVL, YWEL – Thank you very little, you’re welcome even less

If you know some that are not listed on the site, you can contribute by adding them to the list.

SleepBlaster Wakes You Up When You Have Reached Your Destination [iPhone]

For all those times when you cannot sleep on a train/bus just because you don’t want to miss your stop, SleepBlaster will be your savior. This iPhone app has a smart alarm system that works with the GPS and wakes you up when you have reached your destination. To avoid any GPS inaccuracies, SleepBlaster lets you choose a small area instead of a specific point.

Moreover, SleepBlaster also lets you snooze your alarm by just yelling at it. So, no more reaching out across the room to turn off your alarm clock. In addition to the iPhone app, SleepBlaster also works on your Mac and has a lot of soothing voices to put you to sleep. You can set SleepBlaster to wake up on your favorite iTunes playlist and also snooze the alarm by pressing any key.

If you are one of those sleepers who need a big bang to wake them up, fear not since SleepBlaster has a dynamite mode that will wake you up with the sound of an explosion, literally. The iPhone app is not free but given the usefulness of it, it is totally worth spending 2 bucks on it.

Download SleepBlaster from iTunes.

[Via DownloadSquad]

High School Students Forced To Buy a MacBook

It is one thing to require students to have a laptop and a completely different thing to force them into buying a Mac laptop.  Massachusetts  based Beverly High school thinks every student needs a laptop to keep up with the technology oriented teaching methodologies of the school, and interestingly they think Mac is the only platform that will do. The policy would be enforced starting Fall 2011 but the school is already making announcements so the parents can prepare.

However, as one can imagine, many parents are not happy with this decision. Specially those who have already bought their kids laptops that run on Windows. Who would want to buy their kid another laptop just because the school requires a different operating system? Last time I checked, choice of operating system was still a matter of personal preference and not something that can be dictated. Currently, an average MacBook sells for $900 and an average PC laptop sells for around $500.  The school does say that students who don’t want to buy will be able to lease the laptops from school at a charge of $20/month but that doesn’t make a lot of parents happy either. Many insist that the school bears the cost of the new laptops but the district claims they are unable to spend around $1 Million on buying laptops for around 1,200 students.

This even in itself is not huge but it may become a serious issue if other schools start following this trend. Before we know, colleges and universities will also start demanding that every student buys a MacBook and that will be something really preposterous.

What do you think, is the school justified in requiring students to buy a MacBook?

Twitter May Offer “Sponsored” Trending Topics

Despite billions of tweets each month, Twitter still struggles to come up with a plausible business model. They recently started testing out Promoted Tweets but that may not be enough. The latest experiment of Twitter may be sponsored Trending topics. That means, along with user generated trending topics, we soon might see topics manually inserted by advertisers for tens of thousands of dollars a day.

As All Things Digital reports, the negotiations with potential advertisers are still at an early stage and there is no word on when we will see this implemented. However, given the increasing power of Twitter, there is absolutely no doubt that many advertisers are ready to grab the opportunity. This mode of marketing would be specially good for brands that want to create a big splash in a short period of time for example movies and TV shows.

Another factor to consider in this regard is the limited number of trending topics Twitter can display. Once rolled out, this might see advertisers bidding for a spot which would obviously mean increased revenue for Twitter. The likelihood of Twitter making this location-based is also very high. This would allow advertisers to tailor their ads to specific markets and would allow Twitter to accommodate multiple advertisers at the same time.

Do you think this will finally be the money-maker for Twitter, or does Twitter need to come up with something more integrated and intelligent to monetize their platform?

iPhone 4 Will Be Available At Wal-Mart On June 24th

Pre-ordering for the latest iPhone starts June 15th and it will be available at Apple and AT&T stores on June 24th. However, it seems like Apple has a more aggressive sale goals this time. For the first time, the new iPhone will also be sold through a number of large retail chains including Wal-Mart and BestBuy.

iPhone 4

Lot of retailers have previously carry iPhones but none of them have been lucky enough to sell the device on its launch day. This will provide people some convenient alternatives and cut the lines short at Apple and AT&T stores. From Apple’s point of view, it will be easier to cater to the already huge and growing demand of iPhone buyers and not make them wait for hours. Plus, this strategy is in sync with Apple’s plan to sell more iPhone units than ever before. According to this latest report from Apple Insider, Apple has ordered enough parts to sell an average of 3 Million iPhone 4’s per month.

Asia Optical is a company that makes VGA lens kits for Apple iPhone 4 camera and according to its chairman Robert Lai, they are currently delivering 3 million units per month to Apple. If Apple does sell 3 million units per month, this will be a 20% increase in year-over-year sales.

New York Times Tells Staff Not To Use The Word “Tweet”

An internal memo at New York Times has instructed reporters to abstain from using the word “Tweet” in their stories. The memo was sent out yesterday by Phill Corbett, the standards editor and goes on to explain that despite being heavily used in some circles, “Tweet” is not a part of standard English language yet.

The memo claims that there are still a large number of people who may be unfamiliar with the social media and would be at a loss to understand the context. The full text of the memo is below courtesy of  AWL:

How About Chirp?

Some social-media fans may disagree, but outside of ornithological contexts, tweethas not yet achieved the status of standard English. And standard English is what we should use in news articles.

Except for special effect, we try to avoid colloquialisms, neologisms and jargon. And tweet— as a noun or a verb, referring to messages on Twitter — is all three. Yet it has appeared 18 times in articles in the past month, in a range of sections.

Of course, new technology terms sprout and spread faster than ever. And we don’t want to seem paleolithic. But we favor established usage and ordinary words over the latest jargon or buzzwords.

One test is to ask yourself whether people outside of a target group regularly employ the terms in question. Many people use Twitter, but many don’t; my guess is that few in the latter group routinely refer to tweetsor tweeting.Someday, tweetmay be as common as e-mail.Or another service may elbow Twitter aside next year, and tweetmay fade into oblivion. (Of course, it doesn’t help that the word itself seems so inherently silly.)

Tweetmay be acceptable occasionally for special effect. But let’s look for deft, English alternatives: use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update. Or, once you’ve established that Twitter is the medium, simply use sayor write.

To me, it is a clear proof of why newspapers are failing and can’t seem to keep up with blogs and citizen journalism. They are more worried about following absurd principles than about the quality and timeliness of the message. What do you think, should newspapers avoid using newly coined terms just because they are not part of standard English yet, or should they scratch these policies and be more flexible?


China Blocks Foursquare Over Tian’anmen Square Controversy

It seems like the list of banned web services in China keeps getting longer. After Twitter, Flickr and YouTube, China has recently blocked access to the social networking service Foursquare. A popular Chinese tech blog TechBlog86 reports that people were using Foursquare to check in to Tian’anmen square and leaving sensitive comments. This clearly upset Chinese authorities who go to any length to prevent any highlight of the 1989 Tian’anmen square massacre.

On June 4th 1989, Chinese authorities killed over 3,000 protestors and have been trying since to burry the issue. Last year, China banned Twitter and Flickr on the Tian’anmen square anniversary when people started tweeting about the controversial issue and this year its Foursquare. As reported, the service is blocked nation wide.

To protest the Tian’anmen square killings, people from all over China were using Foursquare to check in to the square even when they were not physically there.  This can be done by going to the Foursquare site through mobile or web and changing your location. The ban is not expected to last long but definitely shows how serious Chinese authorities are about censorship. Here are some more details if you want to know about what happened at Tian’anmen square 21 years ago.

Tiananmen Square[Image Credit]