Category Archives: Tech News

Get Real-time Search Results on Google with HashPlug Chrome Extension

An agreement between Google and Twitter that enabled Google to include live Twitter updates in their search results through a special feed was discontinued last year in July as Twitter chose not to renew the agreement. With that real-time updates from Twitter were no more showing up on Google’s search results.

However, a really cool Google Chrome extension called HashPlug allows Chrome users to get real-time results on the latest topics that they search on Google. The extension adds a search results widget on the right hand side of Google’s search results page, displaying the latest tweets of that particular search term.

The results are updated automatically along with which you can retweet, favorite or even reply right from the widget box itself.

HashPlug - Real-time Twitter Updates on Google Search

HashPlug integrates Twitter search results into Google in an unobtrusive manner – so that you get real-time results on latest topics like Election, Storms, etc. It also allows you to favorite, reply or retweet any result.

The Chrome extension is developed by a Indian start-up called Fenopix, which is based out of Bangalore, who claims to love building apps on HTML5, JavaScript and Windows 8. According to the developers, “while you are searching on Google it picks up the search term and displays real time results in an unobtrusive manner. It also allows you to favorite a tweet, reply to a tweet, or retweet any result. ”

The team have also stated that they have plans to extend the tool and integrate Facebook results as well – “As of now it only supports twitter results. But we have plans to integrate Facebook results too in future.”

This tool can also be helpful if you’re finding reviews about movies, books, or any products. Check it out and tell us what you think – HashPlug Chrome extension

New Horizontal Menus in Google Search Results

Earlier in June, Keith had first reported that Google is testing out a new layout for it’s search results page by moving the vertical menu on the left over to the top. It looks like Google has permanently implemented the change as several numbers of users have started to see the new look for Google’s search results pages.

However, I find the new Google search horizontal menu completely unnecessary, or the old menu which was on the left hand side served better. There is also the dark horizontal navigation menu on top, which is pretty much same as the new one, just that the options (services) are shuffled. This makes the new menu redundant.

New Google Search Layout

Google should have at least the made the position of one of the navigation bars fixed, so that the bar sticks to the top when the user scrolls down, and does not have to scroll back to the top when they want to change page.

Jon Wiley, Lead Designer, Google Search says that,

“You’ll notice a new simpler, cleaner design on the search results page – we’ve been working on ways to create a consistent search experience across the wide variety of devices and screen sizes people use today. We started with tablets last year, got it to mobile phones a few weeks ago, and are now rolling out to the desktop.

With the new design, there’s a bit more breathing room, and more focus on the answers you’re looking for, whether from web results or from a feature like the Knowledge Graph”

There’s a whole lot of space on the left hand side and we’re not clear whether how Google will make use of it. Google also enhanced the search results page by adding several new features including Knowledge Graph and a dedicated application search for Mobile, PC & Browser Apps.

Google Celebrates Bram Stoker’s 165th Birthday

Bram Stoker

Today, Google celebrates Bram Stoker with a doodle on his 165th birthday. Bram Stoker’s claim to fame is what many consider to be the first horror novel, Dracula. This imaginative and captivating novel introduced the world to the vampire, Count Dracula. Though vampire stories were nothing new, Dracula pretty much set the standard for the modern day vampire character. The story basically tells the story of Count Dracula’s intent to move from Transylvania to England. There is no telling how many sleepless nights and frightening nightmares have occurred as a result of reading Stoker’s great novel.

Oddly enough, Stoker wasn’t known as much as a writer in his day as was known for being an assistant to the Actor, Henry Irving, and for running the affairs of the Lyceum Theater which Irving owned. Through this association with Irving, Stoker quickly attained status as a member of London’s high society. He forged many friendships and ran the most successful theater of his day. He also traveled abroad, even visiting the United States. Another odd fact however, is that he never visited Eastern Europe during these travels which is the setting for his famous novel Dracula.

Stoker’s life is pretty interesting and inspirational. He was born in a small town near Dublin, Ireland called Clontarf. According to Wikipedia, he spent most of his early childhood bedridden. It wasn’t until he was seven years old that he made a complete recovery. No one is quite sure what illness he suffered from so long. It didn’t keep him down very long, however. He eventually became an athlete and did very well. Though he was most noted for the humanities, he actually graduated with a B.A. in Mathematics from Trinity College in Dublin. He is the epitome of the well-rounded man. Take a moment today to go and click the Google doodle. Maybe you will learn something about this interesting man and his contributions to our world.

Of Voting Machines and Accurate Miscalibrations

The whole world watches closely as the next president is being elected in the United States. The results of this election will affect many decisions the world over. In the midst of this world-changing event, an interesting and embarrassing matter has come to light. A voting machine in Pennsylvania was found to have an amusing miscalibration. Pennsylvania is the sixth most populous state in the US, and the news has attracted a wide coverage from major media outlets.

The miscalibration seems to be with the on-screen vote button for Barack Obama, which places the vote in favor of Mitt Romney instead! The touch vote for Romney works just fine, and so do the other two buttons for two other candidates. The irregularity has been discovered by a Reddit user who goes by the name of “centrapavote”. He commented on the video showing the glitch around five hours ago, and has become the talk of the town since it was submitted to Reddit by his friend.

There are three manufacturers involved in making voting machines for this election, and one of them has links to Bain Capital, which has links to Romney. However, this is not the first incident of voting machines behaving badly. Voting machines are far from secure and this is a well-established fact. These machines have been ridiculed enough by hackers at DEFCON.

A similar issue was detected with a voting machine in North Carolina too. These voting machines are designed for one single purpose, and they failed to do just that! Somewhere, someone in charge of QA is having a bad day.

Google’s Election Day Doodle

Election Day Google Doodle

Google has gotten into the election day spirit by offering up an U.S. election day doodle. The doodle sports the U.S. colors red, white, and blue and depicts ballots being cast in a patriotic ballot box.

Today’s doodle isn’t animated but it is plenty useful. If you click the “Find your voting location and hours” link at the bottom of the doodle, you will see something similar to what is in the picture below. Notice that the voting location is conveniently listed with a map on the left hand side. Highlighted in red, you will where you can click through the ballot and see what candidates are running. If the candidate has a website, Facebook, or Twitter feed, a link to that is provided as well.

Voter Information

At this point in time, a great deal of Americans are pretty much worn out by all the political rhetoric that is filling the airwaves and Facebook news feeds. Unfortunately, this election has the possibility of being so close that it may take weeks to find out who the winner will be. As tiring as this process is however, voting is one of the most important rights we as U.S. citizens have and exercising that right is an important duty that shouldn’t be taken lightly. No nation is perfect and the U.S. has seen its fair share of wrongs, but there have been many good people who have stood up to the injustices of our country and our world. I think about the citizen soldiers who stood up to an oppressive tyrant and began a great experiment. I think about the many men who died at the hands of their brothers while fighting to set slaves free in this country. I think about men and women who risked their lives to make voting a right for blacks and for women. You see, if you’re a U.S. citizen, your right to vote came at a heavy price no matter what your race, creed, color, or sex. Take a moment today to make your voice known if for no other reason than to honor the many who died giving you the right to do so.

LG Launches 84-inch Ultra High Definition 3D TV in India

LG Electronics India launched its new 84-inch 3D TV in the country at the Stuff Gadget Show being held in Mumbai. The gigantic SmartTV flaunts a 4K resolution (3840 x 2160), and sports the same bunch of cutting edge features that has made LG a leader in the 3D space.

LG-84-inch-3D-TV-1

LG is not the first to release a 4K TV; however, it is the world’s first to offer an 84 inch 3D television with a 4K display resolution. The enhanced resolution means that pixels are barely discernable even when viewed from a close distance. LG’s latest offering sports all of the swanky new features we saw in the previously released 2012 range of LG 3D TVs. This includes dual-play, smartshare plus, 2D to 3D conversion, and magic remote. Check out our previous coverage for a more in-depth look at each of these features.

LG-84-inch-3D-TV-Glasses

LG utilizes polarized passive glasses for its 3D technology. This has enabled it to overcome one of the biggest pain points of 3D – picture quality. Even with the glasses, color reproduction and contrast is excellent. During my brief hands-on time, I didn’t notice any significant display artifacts. Viewing angles were also pretty good. In brief, when it comes to picture quality, LG’s 3D TV offers very little room for complaint. However, 3D viewing on the larger screen did appear to be more stressful for the eyes.

LG-84-inch-3D-TV-India

The biggest problem with an 84-inch 4k display is not something that LG can control – the lack of source material. HD content is rare, but Ultra HD is almost impossible to get. As far as I know, DTH service providers in India only offer 720p or 1080p streams. Presumably, LG will leverage the dual-core processor powering its 84-inch monster to upscale the content. However, I couldn’t test how well this works, since LG was not demoing any live television streams. One also has to wonder how well a 720p or 1080p 3D content will look on a display this big. However, these are the prices one has to pay for staying on the cutting-edge, and this beast from LG is certainly cutting-edge.

LG 84LM9600 will be available in select stores in the metros, and is being released with a MRP of Rs. 17,00,000. However, I am told that you should be able to pick it up for something in the range of fourteen to fifteen lakhs.

Kim Dotcom Teases the Mega Relaunch with the Me.ga Domain

Back in August, Kim Dotcom was spotted talking about revenge for the intimidation that the police had caused him. He tweeted about his plans for a comeback of Megaupload. Soon thereafter, there were talks of a mega plan for a relaunch of Megaupload that would be secured with encryption and now, Kim Dotcom has teased a revamped Mega website with the final launch to happen on 19 January 2013.

Currently, www.me.ga redirects to kim.com/mega , which looks quite interesting. It promises of a better Megaupload, which will be harder to take down for the Government, and Me.ga explains this as,

In the past, securely storing and transferring confidential information required the installation of dedicated software. The new Mega encrypts and decrypts your data transparently in your browser, on the fly. You hold the keys to what you store in the cloud, not us.

mega-megaupload

The date of 19 January has significance, as Dotcom was arrested and his beloved Megaupload shutdown on 19 January this year. This makes 19 January the one-year anniversary of his arrest. Dotcom has the domain in place, but he is reportedly looking for a hosting provider, which is located outside the US.  This will save the content and the website from DMCA.

Besides Megaupload, Dotcom also launched a music service called MegaBox, back in July. Dotcom is having a busy after his arrest, and perhaps this arrest has provided his Megaupload business the much needed reboot.

Patent Troll Sues Microsoft Over Windows Live Tiles

Microsoft has just launched Windows 8 and it has already been downloaded over 4 million times in four days. With the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft has also attracted a patent troll that claims its rights over the Live Tiles used on Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the Surface tablet.

live-tiles

A company called SurfCast that claims to design operating systems is suing Microsoft for the use of Live Tiles. If you visit the SurfCast website, you will clearly see that their technical expertise is still stuck in the 1990’s but their legal and patent-trolling expertise seems to have kept pace with the industry. SurfCast owns four patents, one of which deals with Live Tiles. The verge writes,

SurfCast owns US Patent #6,724,403, which was filed in October 2000 and issued in April 2004. Broadly, the patent covers selecting a variety of information sources, assigning each of those sources to a tile, and updating those tiles at variable refresh rates.

SurfCast defines its own patent as,

Tiles can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live — containing refreshed content that provides a real-time or near-real-time view of the underlying information.

This is as abstract as it gets, because this description matches all kinds of widgets.

Live Tiles constitutes the flagship UI of Windows Phone and Windows 8. Microsoft showed off the Windows 8 UI for the first time back in June 2011. It has been 16 months since then, and Microsoft has come a long way with Live Tiles. SurfCast on the other hand, own this patent for the last eight years, and has been sitting atop it all this time, waiting for someone to use it so that it can cry foul.

Skydrive Pictures Now Showing Inline on Twitter

Looks like there is some close work Microsoft is doing with Twitter. In addition to announcing a Windows Phone 8-specific Twitter application coming with Windows Phone 8, looks like the behind-the-scenes work is complete for showing SkyDrive pictures inline on Twitter.

If you use a Windows Phone and share pictures natively (select a picture > share > Twitter), it uploads the picture to SkyDrive and then publishes the SkyDrive link to Twitter along with the tweet message. Below is an example:

Tweet with SkyDrive picture link
Tweet with SkyDrive picture link

Until now, that “View Photo” link was not visible and as a result, expanding the tweet would not show the photo. In order to see the photo you’d have to click on the link which would take you to SkyDrive’s website and open it there. Compared to inline, that was a bad experience.

Now, you can see the picture inline by just clicking on “View Photo” as I did here:

SkyDrive picture inline on Twitter
SkyDrive picture inline on Twitter

It doesn’t look like SkyDrive pictures are integrated into Twitter’s “Recent Images” section on the profile page yet. Hopefully the Image Gallery update will roll out soon as well.

Regardless, it is a good thing that Twitter (with or without Microsoft) has worked out the technical stuff to make SkyDrive pictures show up inline. After all, we know that SkyDrive now has 200 million users and stores 11 billion photos so it is not a small operation. With Windows 8 and Windows RT (along with, of course, Windows Phone 8) relying heavily on SkyDrive as the personal cloud of choice, the usage will only go up.

A final note, given that Twitter’s iOS and Android apps behave much like the website, I suppose these pictures from SkyDrive will also show inline in those apps, although I have not been able to confirm that.

Rapidshare Lifts Download Speed Cap

RapidShare is one of the most popular file-sharing website on the Internet. Like all other file-sharing websites, it too grew extremely notorious for hosting massive amounts of pirated and illegal content. During the recent crackdown on Megaupload, RapidShare made a quick move and enforced various limitations on its users to stay in business and to drive away pirates.

RapidShare

Earlier this year when Megaupload was raided and shut down, millions of users sought refuge in RapidShare. RapidShare was well aware of the fate of Megaupload, and decided to shoo away freeloaders (think free users) by capping their download speeds to unusable limits. This was an attempt to make RapidShare unpopular amongst pirates and drive them away. However, it could not continue with that decision, as it was an unusual one. Now, RapidShare has decided to undo the download speed capping, and some users have started seeing higher download speeds than usual. This has been confirmed by RapidShare CEO Alexandra Zwingli, who says,

We can confirm that we have removed all download limits for free users, which is part of a new strategy. Even though the limit was initially introduced to deter piracy, we have since then come to realize that there are more efficient counter-measures. Further details will be announced towards the end of 2012.

RapidShare has been responsible in its dealing with copyright owners. It will be interesting to see what alternative measures it implements to curb piracy, after lifting off the download-speed cap.