Thursday, March 31, 2011
With the tagline 'The easiest way to get a girlfriend is to already have one,' Cloud Girlfriend promises to be a very interesting startup indeed. The brains of the operation, David Fuhriman, speaking to CNET, says it's all about fulfilling Maslow's hierarchy of needs. "CloudGirlfriend.com can fulfill Maslow's higher needs, even though the users know that the interaction is virtual. They will interact with a real person and see real profile images of the girl with whom they interact. This interaction can build confidence and esteem as well as provide real training experiences in navigating a friendship and a relationship."
Our concern, of course, is that it's very nearly April 1. We're also worried by the fact that Fuhriman has a name that sounds ominously like a social subculture that we've grown strangely attracted to here in the Download Squad bunker.
Finally, just stop and think about it for a second. Because your cloud girlfriend will be entirely virtual, she could be based anywhere. She could be underage -- or overage -- or she might be someone who you know in real life. She could even be a relative of yours, and you'd never know.
Let's not forget this is the Internet we're talking about, folks. Worst case scenario, she could turn out to be a hairy, male truck driver from Texas. Such as... your dad, perhaps?
Words with Friends, 4G or dual core?, iPad 2 Element Case Joule Chroma give away, iPad light leak ? From the Forums
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Some keyboard shortcuts only work from some pages, but we'll mark those where appropriate.
- n -- post a new status update (works from any page)
- r -- reply to your selected tweet
- t -- retweet (only works on Twitter profiles other than your own)
- m -- direct message (but it doesn't auto-fill the recipient)
- / -- move the cursor to the search box
- . -- move back to the top of the page, and check feed for updates
- g then h -- go to your home page (twitter.com)
- g then r -- see your @ mentions
- g then m -- see your direct messages
- g then p -- go to your profile page (twitter.com/username)
- g then u -- go to a specific user's profile page (it pops up a dialog box)
Now, if you don't use Twitter.com (which is about 65% of Twitter's users), these keyboard shortcuts probably won't work. Every installed Twitter client has different keyboard shortcuts (and some don't have any at all). If you want to lessen your mouse hand dependency, your best bet is to simply head to Google and type the name of your client + "keyboard shortcuts".
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If you comment on a friend's status update, link or photo, you can now press the 'X' in the top right corner to edit it. Your comment instantly turns into a text box where you can alter what you've written; then just press Enter to save it again.
There are some caveats, though! First, if someone comments after you, your comment is locked; you can still delete it, but you can't edit. Second, there seems to be some kind of time limit on editing. The editing window might be as short as 60 seconds. Still, for those of you that have 'accidentally' submitted comments by pressing Enter, the ability to edit is a godsend.
It's also worth noting that everyone still gets email (and SMS!) notifications when you comment, and when you edit comments.
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The idea is very simple, and far from original: You get a board with pieces arranged in a particular pattern; you have to slide those around until you get the special piece into its target location.
It's not even about finding out where the target location is - you can just hover over "dim tiles" and instantly see where you're supposed to bring the special piece. But getting it there is a whole different story.
There are five tutorial levels, which I strongly recommend you do. Then there are twenty "beginner" levels, but that's really a misnomer. If those are the beginner levels, I don't want to know what the intermediate and advanced levels look like!
Every time you finish a level you get a score based on how many clicks it took you - each level has a "par" (the minimum number of clicks it could be completed in), and your performance is compared to that gold standard. Because it's such a brainy game, getting it right is quite satisfying. I was downright proud of myself when I managed to finish a few levels. All in all, quite recommended, especially if you've got a few minutes of quiet. It might actually help you focus better later on.
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Likewise, Internet Explorer 8 and 9 will get you safely around the Web -- and quickly, in the case of IE9 -- but if you want to change the UI, or strap on extra functionality, you're bang out of luck because it has less add-ons than Opera has users. Internet Explorer is, in short, the Volvo of Browser Land.
If you want speed, security, functionality and full-featured add-ons, Firefox 4 is the only browser worth talking about. Let's dive in and check out the best add-ons for first-time users and browser converts.
Interlocked takes that spirit and turns it into a beautiful Flash game. It's a good thing the soundtrack is soothing, because the game itself can get pretty frustrating.
At the start of each level, you're presented with a box built out of blocks in different colors. You can click and drag the mouse to rotate the box any which way. Once you decide you want to shift a part of the box, hit SPACE to switch into "move" mode. You can then click any part of the box and drag it. Of course, you can only move a part as long as nothing is in its way. So it becomes a matter of understanding how the box is built, and what parts you need to move around so you could eventually take the box apart.
It's a tricky, difficult game, but it's a great brain teaser -- and definitely a keeper.
There's also an improved support process for when you need to submit feedback or bug reports to Skyfire's team of developers. User agent switching has been enhanced as well, allowing you to choose among desktop, iPad, and iPhone views of the websites you browse. Skyfire has added a 'related sites' feature, bringing a nice discovery element to the app, too.
You can find the new version of Skyfire in the App Store -- existing users can simply check for updates, of course.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
With the awesomely vague title "Systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site" we can only hope that Google isn't in a particularly litigious mood. Wouldn't such a patent cover animated Flash splash screens? And with the steady rise of HTML5esque Web apps and Web-based add-ons, will their shiny, enticing front pages fall under the auspices of Google's patent?
The USPTO has seen weirder days, though. Sun, the company behind Java, famously ran a contest to see which developer could secure the 'goofiest' patent -- and then there was the time that British Telecom tried to enforce a patent issued in 1976 that apparently gave it ownership of the ubiquitous HTML hyperlink. BT lost that court case, thankfully.
Interestingly, we can see IE9 dipping between March 20 and 21, just before the 'Important' Windows Update rolled out. It's hard to say whether IE9 is only growing because of the installed-by-default Windows Update, but that small dip definitely sticks out -- did excitement peter out? Did people download IE9, try it out, and summarily uninstall it? Perhaps, given their close proximity, the stats show an attention shift from Microsoft to Mozilla?
Numbers-wise, if the bottom left corner of the graph shows 2.3 million downloads for IE9, we can guesstimate that that it has now been downloaded 5 million times. Firefox is clocking in at 37 million downloads after five days of public availability.
We wonder whether Microsoft knew its release schedule would coincide so closely with Firefox 4. Internet Explorer 9 -- a great browser by almost every metric -- was never going to do well against anything emanating from the maws of Mozilla. The main thing, though, is that Microsoft has now shown that it's serious when it comes to the Open Web. If Internet Explorer 10 is good, and 11 and 12, then we might finally see it compete with the zealous Mozillan horde.
Of course, the bigger story here is that Amazon's free Cloud Player is going head-to-head with Sony's Music Unlimited streaming subscription service, which was pushed out last month after plenty of money talk with various record labels. Understandably, Sony isn't willing to let Amazon cut through the red tape here without a fight, and this may also affect similar music locker services like mSpot and MP3Tunes, albeit at a much smaller scale. In fact, Sony's already expressed its discomfort with those particular companies' mode of operation, so you can probably expect to see this tension boiling over to some form of legal action before long. Now that a big shot like Amazon's involved, it's almost inevitable."Cloud Player is an application that lets customers manage and play their own music. It's like any number of existing media management applications. We do not need a license to make Cloud Player available. The functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes."
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Dubbed GNU Free Call, the program will rely on a "self-aware, meshed calling network" to deliver secure, anonymous VoIP. The GNU SIP Witch server will provide the back end, which will be extended to communicate with peers and cache routing information.
The aim is to deliver a cross-platform experience, so smartphone clients are in the work as well -- and with this being a GNU project, the open-source Android is a likely target. Other platforms which don't play as well with FSF and GNU licensing probably won't get in on the action.