Yahoo Meme Opens Up Its API

Twitter has produced a vibrant ecosystem of third party applications thanks to the release of its API. If you take a look at Twitter app store oneforty, there are thousands of applications and sites that are using Twitter’s various APIs to build useful and innovative applications. Which is why Yahoo Meme, Yahoo’s microblogging tool that hopes to compete against Twitter and Tumblr, is releasing its own API for third party developer use. The problem: Yahoo Meme doesn’t have many users.

Yahoo is offering Meme’s open API built on top of the YQL (Yahoo Query Language) platform. The API features compliance with OAuth for access to user data. Yahoo meme lets users post their own content (including text, photos, videos, links and more) and repost the content of others with one-click publishing, allows users to follow other Meme users (via one-way connections, no friend authorization is required) and comment on their posts. Meme’s content limits are higher than Twitter’s—the limit is 2,000 characters.

And Yahoo says that they used Meme’s open APIs to build the mobile version of Meme for smartphones. Yahoo also shed some light on where Meme is being used; apparently, Meme is gaining a following in Brazil, China, the Philippines, India and Turkey. Yahoo initially rolled out Meme in Portuguese, then Spanish and then English most recently.

It’s interesting that Yahoo has been relatively quiet about Meme, launching new functionality without much fanfare or press outreach. Perhaps Yahoo wants to see if there is viral usage of Meme before pouring marketing dollars into the product. But there has been relatively

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iTunes LP $10,000 Fee Too Much For You? Make Your Own

The whole world was bullish on iTunes LPs when they were announced; I called it a black eye for the majors, whose CMX format has yet to be popularized. But the hype was curbed when it was discovered that there was a $10,000 fee associated with the service, putting it completely out of reach for less affluent artists and small labels who can't afford that price for promotion. Luckily for them, Apple was nice enough to make the format rather basic. It turns out anyone versed in a little HTML and Javascript can put together an LP that's just as good as a "real" one. It's not as simple as drag-and-drop, and without Apple's proprietary TuneKit library, some functionality is difficult or impossible to replicate at this point. But iTunesLP.net is trying to collect all the information you need into a few tutorials and demo files.

Tune in to UN anti-poverty campaign on Ustream

standupStand Up 2009 is a UN-sponsored event during which hopeful people all over the world will stand up, literally, and demand that world leaders do something about poverty. I’ve heard Bono has threatened to write more guest columns for the New York Times if Wall Street doesn’t cancel more African debt fast.

Skype and Ustream have gotten together to stream live calls featuring two African entertainers and one overachieving former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Wednesday 10/14 at 4a Pacific Time/7a Eastern Time: Femi Kuti will be in Nigeria doing a Skype call and Ustream broadcast with Uganda youth.

Wednesday 10/14 at 10a Pacific Time/1p Eastern Time: Angelique Kidjo will be in New York doing a Skype call and Ustream broadcast with citizens in Sierra Leone or Benin.

Thursday 10/15 at 7a Pacific Time/10a Eastern Time: Mary Robinson will be in New York doing a Skype call and Ustream broadcast with youth in Delhi.

All events will be streamed on Ustream’s Stand Up Against Poverty channel.


The Crew Boldly Exploring a Second Season on Babelgum [NewTeeVee]

One of online video’s odd quirks is that sci-fi comedy, on the surface an extremely niche category, is one of the most popular genres — probably because among early adopters of the medium, a natural inclination for technology often translates into a fond appreciation for science fiction. And The Crew has definitely been a trendsetter in this regard.

Created, written and directed by Brett Register (who also wrote for The Elevator Show), the low-budget series is sort of a “lower decks” take on the world of space travel, told in a mockumentary style. Each episode documents the lives and loves of engine room Tom and his underlings, the essentially blue-collar crew of a spaceship touring the galaxy.

The Crew’s sense of humor is subtle and intelligent, with a great deal of deadpan comedy that definitely earns the series its frequent comparisons to The Office. But its exploration of class differences gives the series a greater heft; much of the comedy is founded in the ship’s extreme separation between the titular crew and their commanders, which at the end of the first season took on a literal element. Early episodes definitely suffer from extremely uneven sound design, which has always been key to successfully setting a program of any medium off-world. But that’s a kink that gets ironed out as the show progresses and the cast expands beyond the original trio.

While the first season was produced independently prior to a Koldcast distribution deal, today the series is one of the latest shows to benefit from Babelgum’s recent investment in original content, with the second season premiering exclusively on its player. Newcomers to the show would be best advised to start at the beginning, as the new episode jumps right into the ongoing action, but there’s pretty much a bevvy of web series stars making cameos, including The Guild’s Robin Thorsen, Dave and Tom’s Tom Konkle, and Awkward Pictures’ Payman Benz.

However, even with a bigger cast, stronger effects, and a high-stakes adventure, the show’s strongest points remain the one-on-one interactions, where the characters are allowed to be as petty and self-serving as…well, anyone else. Even those who aren’t on a spaceship.

The Crew Boldly Exploring a Second Season on Babelgum [NewTeeVee Station]

One of online video’s odd quirks is that sci-fi comedy, on the surface an extremely niche category, is one of the most popular genres — probably because among early adopters of the medium, a natural inclination for technology often translates into a fond appreciation for science fiction. And The Crew has definitely been a trendsetter in this regard.

Created, written and directed by Brett Register (who also wrote for The Elevator Show), the low-budget series is sort of a “lower decks” take on the world of space travel, told in a mockumentary style. Each episode documents the lives and loves of engine room Tom and his underlings, the essentially blue-collar crew of a spaceship touring the galaxy.

The Crew’s sense of humor is subtle and intelligent, with a great deal of deadpan comedy that definitely earns the series its frequent comparisons to The Office. But its exploration of class differences gives the series a greater heft; much of the comedy is founded in the ship’s extreme separation between the titular crew and their commanders, which at the end of the first season took on a literal element. Early episodes definitely suffer from extremely uneven sound design, which has always been key to successfully setting a program of any medium off-world. But that’s a kink that gets ironed out as the show progresses and the cast expands beyond the original trio.

While the first season was produced independently prior to a Koldcast distribution deal, today the series is one of the latest shows to benefit from Babelgum’s recent investment in original content, with the second season premiering exclusively on its player. Newcomers to the show would be best advised to start at the beginning, as the new episode jumps right into the ongoing action, but there’s pretty much a bevvy of web series stars making cameos, including The Guild’s Robin Thorsen, Dave and Tom’s Tom Konkle, and Awkward Pictures’ Payman Benz.

However, even with a bigger cast, stronger effects, and a high-stakes adventure, the show’s strongest points remain the one-on-one interactions, where the characters are allowed to be as petty and self-serving as…well, anyone else. Even those who aren’t on a spaceship.

Smart Grid Data About to Swamp Utilities [Earth2Tech]

smartmeter2The buildout of smart grid infrastructure is about to drown utilities in a sea of information. So points out Jack Danahy in an interesting article in Smart Grid News recently, in which he presents data that shows how much information a typical smart meter will produce. If 140 million smart meters are installed over the next ten years they could produce a massive 100 petabytes (1 PB is 1 quadrillion bytes) of information, according to FERC data he cites. Info from utility trials suggests that a smart meter that updates energy info every 15 minutes can deliver 400 MB per smart meter per year. For perspective, Google processes about 20 PB of data per day, and 1 PB is equivalent to the amount of data contained in 20 million four-drawer filing cabinets filled with text.

On a grand scale, and for individual utilities, the idea of collecting, processing and storing this much data is daunting. While 400 MB is less than an average CD worth of data, multiply that amount by hundreds of thousands, and even millions, for each smart meter for each utility. The result is that the utility sector will need to invest a very sizable amount into data storage infrastructure and information management programs.

First off, that means utilities will be purchasing a lot more memory and storage capacity — in other words a place to house all that smart meter data. Danahy says that California utility PG&E has added about 1.2 PB of memory for 700,000 meters that will update twice a day and could produce 170 MB per meter per year, and plans to add more capacity for the rest of its buildout. For the case of Austin Energy’s 500,000 meters, the utility’s yearly data storage needs grew from 20 TB to 200 TB.

Utilities will also increasingly be investing in traditional data centers. Cisco predicts that utility spending on traditional data centers could make up “a large chunk” of the potential $20 billion that will spent on the smart grid over the next several years, reported CNET’s Martin LaMonica reported earlier this year.

On both fronts, utilities will be looking to the computing industry’s memory, storage and data center leaders for products and services. Any company that has built a business off of storing, securing and managing data would be smart to launch a utility-focused service or division. In addition entrepreneurs interested in jumping into this soon-to be-booming market should consider what unique needs utilities have compared to other sectors and target services to fill those needs. Security and privacy will also be major areas of growth for smart meter energy information.

Utilities will have a range of information storage and management needs. Small rural utilities and large investor-owned utilities will have different levels of storage needs, and the information unearthed from smart meters will also depend on how sophisticated those meters are. As you can see from the earlier example, smart meters that update energy info every 15 minutes, compared to twice a day, produce more than double the amount of energy info.

Through investment, utilities will be able to ultimately manage the flow of information, but will need to pay very a close attention to the practices that the computing industry has built, including keeping data safe and secure.

How to Clean Your Debit and Credit Cards [Cleaning]

There's a certain list of things we routinely clean, but your debit and credit cards probably aren't on that list—but they should be! It's easy and can greatly extend the life of your card.

Photo by ohadweb.

You might be wondering why you should bother, but if you've gone cardless for a few days while waiting on a replacement, the extra step of cleaning your cards can go a long way toward preventing such a hiccup.

All you need is an eraser and a damp towel. Wipe the card clean with the towel to remove any grimey build up deposited onto your card from your wallets or card reader machines. It's not something that gets extra dirty, but the small particles when compacted with continuous swiping/use can rub off the magnetic strip holding your card's information.

Next take the eraser (we prefer Pink Pearl erasers, but the one on the end of a pencil will do just fine) and gently erase/rub the magnetic strip on the back. It will remove any gunk that's built up over time. This trick also works with old school cartridge based gaming systems, just in case you really have the urge to play some NES Duck Hunt.

Got your own methods for successfully cleaning off your grimy credit card and getting more mileage out of it—at least while you're waiting for a replacement? Sound off in the comments.



Quick Tip: Activity Monitor Dock Icon [TheAppleBlog]


ActivityMonitorIcon

I’m sorta picky about what I put in my Menu Bar. It probably stems from my MacBook’s 13″ screen turning pixels into a premium. Whatever the case, I audit the icons that are displayed there on a regular basis. If this sounds remotely familiar, the following tip may be a good way to remove System Usage info from the Menu Bar (if you use something like iStat Menus, for example).

The Apple-provided Activity Monitor (found in /Applications/Utilities) is a great source of information about how your system is currently running. Often, when I have a system slow down, or the fan’s running abnormally, a quick peek at Activity Monitor can pinpoint the application that’s gone rogue on me. But better yet, if you don’t want to keep it in view all the time, you can set Activity Monitor to display a selected bit of system info in place of its Dock icon.

activity monitor dock

It’s a simple setup, you just have to know that the feature is available.

With Activity Monitor open, select the View menu, and then Dock Icon. There are 5 options to view in the Dock Icon:

  1. CPU Usage
  2. CPU History
  3. Network Usage
  4. Disk Activity
  5. Memory Usage

activity monitor dock icon right clickThe CPU Usage display is the cleanest looking by far, while the rest are high contrast line graph style views. I’ll point out too (and this is only tested in Snow Leopard, but I’m guessing it’s valid for Leopard too) that you can right click (or CMD click) the Activity Monitor icon in the Dock, and the same Dock Icon menu is available from there.

You can’t monitor everything at once this way, but if — for example — your CPU seems to be running slow, watching that for a little while may be helpful to you. Of course if you hide your Dock it’s not immediately available all the time, but it still saves you some clutter in your Menu Bar.

Aiming To “Make Meaning,” Jaiku Co-Founder Leaves Google

Screen shot 2009-10-12 at 2.41.07 PMIn October 2007, Google bought the Finnish social networking site Jaiku. In the following couple of years, they somehow managed to do absolutely nothing with it, even as rival Twitter rose in popularity. Today, co-founder Jyri Engeström is leaving Google.

Now, to be fair, by all accounts, Engeström enjoyed his time at Google despite what happened to Jaiku. As he told us in January, “We’re not dying, we’re morphing,” after Google decided to cease internal development of Jaiku. Rather than killing off Jaiku completely, like it did with Dodgeball and others, Google decided to allow Jaiku to be ported over to App Engine, and open-sourced. Sadly, still not much has come of that. And now, it’s unclear how much Engeström will have to do with the project from this point on.

The reason is that he’s moving on to other things. As he notes in his tweet, he’s aiming to do something that “makes meaning,” borrowing from something Guy Kawasaki says in one of his books. We know a little bit about what that will be.

We’re updating this with more details

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Trailing Google Maps, MapQuest Upgrades Developer Tools

Can developers help MapQuest regain its luster? Trailing Google Maps, Mapquest is courting developers by rebuilding its Developer Network and introducing two products to make developing applications off of the map platform easier. The Developer Network is a resource for developers to learn about and work with MapQuest’s APIs and SDKs.

The updated network includes simple documentation of SDKs letting developers view instructions, samples and source code at a glance. MapQuest has also added a consolidated application management tool that lets developers find all information about a particular app in a centralized place. And the UI of the network has gotten a makeover, with information about products and technology organized more efficiently.

Directions Web Service frees developers from using a language-specific SDK for directions data, giving programmers more flexibility in developing applications with basic and advanced routing, route matrix, and draggable routes. MapQuest’s new Long URL service tries to resolve a longstanding issue with Internet Explorer and long GET requests. IE has a 2048 character limit, which is problematic for long requests. The new URL service allows for GET requests to be broken up into chunks, and MapQuest provides a single response.

MapQuest is seeking to engage the developer community more deeply as the company battles with Google for web and mobile map domination. According to Hitwise, Google Maps passed MapQuest in visits earlier this year. ComScore shows that Google Maps surpassed Mapquest last January, and by August, 2009, Google Maps had 51.3 million unique visitors, compared to 42.2 million for MapQuest.

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How to Backup your Gmail [jkOnTheRun]

gmail-backup

The inadvertent loss of all data on the Sidekick servers and devices has certainly questioned the viability of storing important data on the web. The situation has generated some good discussion around the need for redundant data. I think reader Dave said it best in his approach : “Everything is backed up in multiple places. It’s the only way to go, cloud based or not.” I completely agree and very little of my data isn’t living in two places, either on the web, on local storage or a combination of both. If it’s not, it’s data that I’ve deemed as data I can live without.

Having said that — and as a big user of Google’s Gmail — here’s a list of three ways to backup your Gmail.

1. Use a desktop client. This sounds like a no-brainer but some folks (like me) only use the web to access Gmail. If you simply use Gmail with a desktop client such as Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird or any other standard email client, you can include the mail data as part of your standard computer backup approach. You are backing up your computer, right? ;)

2. Gmail-Backup for PC or Linux. This free download exports all of your Gmail conversations and attachments into EML files which you can then backup or store somewhere else online. EML files can be opened with mail clients like Outlook, Thunderbird and Entourage. Lifehacker says the Linux version will work on a Mac as well.

3. Forward all mail to a different mail platform. I’d use this strictly for archive and backup purposes because it can be a pain to manage multiple mail addresses. Also, by sending the mail to a different platform, you reduce the risk that one disaster can take out both your primary and secondary copies of mail. Of course, if the web-at-large goes down, you’re generally stuck.

I’m all for other ways too, so if you have them, please don’t hesitate to share. In the end, a combination of web and local backup may be the best of both worlds. This whole situation has me thinking of installing Outlook on my Windows Home Server! ;)

The Great Software Freedom Debate, Part 368 [OStatic]

It seems that we can never quite get away from our industry's version of "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin." Namely, how open source are you? Or, as it is usually expressed: I'm more open source than you. I'm 'the real' open source, whereas you're just badgeware/runtware/freeware/fauxpen source. Sun's Simon Phipps has re-opened this debate by proposing a software freedom scorecard that the OSI can use to gauge the openness of open source participants.

If you read my previous blog entry about open core, you may notice a slight contradiction there. That's because I'm conflicted on this issue. On one hand,I was the guy who pointed out that the major impetus towards open source was economic, and that the trends which made an open source ecosystem possible would only intensify - the pragmatic case, you might say. On the other hand, I also recognize that taking these trends and turning it into a regulated market - which is essentially what the OSI has done - does not happen by accident. It happens because a few stakeholders with a vision of how they wanted the industry to behave formulated a plan and executed it. Their primary question was "how can we make free software palatable to mainstream IT?" That question is not merely an expression of pragmatic concern. There's an idealist quality to it, too, because many of us wanted a more transparent IT ecosystem that didn't actively screw over customers, with far-reaching ramifications that transcended the immediate benefits.

I think the OSI has had some success with that, along with a few failures. I, for one, felt that not emphasizing the "free software" aspect was a mistake. I've also advocated in the past for a better taxonomy to describe the various levels and types of "free" and "open" - because everybody likes to describe themselves as such. It seems that Phipps agrees with this. For the most part, I agree with his proposal, with some reservations, and I'll explain why.

Matt Asay doesn't think it's a great idea because, in his opinion, companies don't care about freedom, they just want stuff that works. Well, yes and no. If you ask companies whether they think software freedom is important, they're going to say no. However, something I've learned over the years is that, well, customers are actually kind of... stupid. In my years of involvement with LinuxWorld, most of the things that sponsors demanded actually crippled the show and sucked the life force out of it. These esteemed industry heavyweights would say things like "get rid of the .org pavilion!" "we don't need developers, we want customers!" - basically, get rid of the stuff that actually attracts attendees. Of course, they didn't actually want to kill the show; they just had no inkling of the bigger picture and acted only in their immediate self interest. When speaking with an IT customer, they naturally aren't thinking of the big picture with respect to the free software ecosystem. Their only question is - understandably - will this solution work for me? It's not really the customer's job to think about the overall health of the ecosystem, but it would be silly to claim that a healthy free software ecosystem has no benefit to customers - it's just not an immediate, tangible benefit that comes up in a sales call.

I disagree with Jason Perlow who writes that "Open source, however, is not about ethics or who or what should determine what is ethical." Frankly, I don't see how anyone can read the open source definition and conclude that it's not about ethics. If it weren't about ethics, why bother with the OSD at all? What's the point? Of course it's about ethics - it's about a more fair system, a better way of doing business, with freedom and goodness for all. And pie. Mmmmm... pie.... That the OSI has chosen to ignore or softpedal this aspect of their charter has led to some market confusion. The OSI has long seemed afraid of pushing the ethics or morals viewpoint, presumably because some vendors told them not to. You see where I'm going there... How many times have businesses fought reforms over the years that sought to more clearly define employees' or customers' rights? How about nearly 100%? Businesses simply cannot reliably provide an honest answer to such questions.

Back to Phipps' actual proposal - I like the idea, in theory. As usual, the devil is in the details, and I think we have to move beyond the discussion of just code. I want SaaS and cloud providers to answer the question about how easy it is to migrate data and whether they are "distributing" software when you load their app in your browser - I say they are and should be subjected to the terms of reciprocal software licenses, but I accept that others beg to differ. Mostly, I would like that info on a handy report card.

As Matt Aslett observed in his analysis, this could quickly and destructively degenerate into a game of approving and disapproving of business models, which I cannot see as beneficial for anyone. At a minimum, I just want to see where companies fall on the openness spectrum.

Maybe we're asking the wrong questions with the wrong terminology. Perhaps instead of asking whether businesses care about software freedom, ask them instead, should customers have the right to modify vendor code? Should customers have the right to fork and redistribute their modified code? Should customers have the right to migrate their data to another platform on their terms? Should vendors have the right to integrate open source software into their products? But the question we should ultimately ask has to take the form of, what has the best chance of creating a healthier ecosystem that benefits users, developers, vendors, and customers - even if they don't know it yet?

I lean to the side that says more information is better in this case and can only help. After all, if there's one thing we've learned from the past couple of years, it's that markets don't regulate themselves and require some amount of oversight.

Related Activities

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Automotive Market to Fuel Apps and App Stores [GigaOM]

idriveThe automotive industry is fertile soil for the kind of apps that have revolutionized the mobile space over the last year, according to a report released today from iSuppli. The appeal of in-car applications is easy to see. Drivers could use such offerings for navigation purposes and location-aware services, while passengers could pass the time with casual games or other entertainment genres. And as we become increasingly connected, we’re likely to see a host of other gadgets and platforms embrace such models, from TVs to dedicated portable music players and gaming devices.

A handful of companies showcased auto-application initiatives at last month’s Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany: BMW demonstrated a new app store that delivers offerings directly to the vehicle or via a PC; Nokia unveiled a solution that integrates a smartphone with the car’s in-dash computer systems; and Parrot is developing an Android-based device that offers “automotive implementation of all smartphone features.”

But I think the key to success in the era of the app store will be interoperability. Consumers won’t want to establish accounts at multiple app stores and shop at device-specific outlets every time they want to check out the latest offerings, which is why I think Nokia and Parrot have the right idea — and why BMW is moving down the wrong path with its own branded app store. The smartphone won’t necessarily have to serve as the hub of any scenario where consumers use apps across a bunch of different devices, but it should serve as a kind of vehicle for apps, enabling users to access them from multiple platforms in different ways. BMW would be wise to partner with a mobile player — or at least a player like Amazon or Facebook looking to enter the app-store space — as applications move well beyond smartphones.

Snow Leopard Bug Deleting Entire User Accounts [Data Loss]

Tech news site ITWire reports that a reproducible bug related to guest accounts in Snow Leopard is deleting entire user account data. That's a very bad thing. From ITWire, here's what's happening:

According to multiple topics on the Apple Support discussion boards, the problem can occur when a user logs into their Mac's Guest account — whether by accident or on purpose — and then tries to log back into their regular account.

In some cases, users have reported finding their regular account empty of data, as though it were a brand new account.

The current workaround: disable the Guest account. Apple isn't offering any response to this yet, and details are slim, but just to be safe, you may want to at the very least steer clear of your guest account for the time being. [ITWire via Neowin]



StackOverflow Shares its Mojo: White Label Q&A for All

stackexchange_stackoverflow_oct09.jpgAt this point, most programmers have already heard about StackOverflow. First started last year by celebrity coders Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood, coding Q&A site StackOverflow crowdsources programming solutions for all to see. The site is popular for its Digg-like voting interface, clean design and, of course, its useful information. The duo has since begun licensing the software behind StackOverflow to provide companies with customizable Q&A forums on a number of topics.

Sponsor

stackexchange_stackoverflow_oct09a.jpgWhen ReadWriteWeb last covered StackOverflow in January, the company was planning to produce a spin-off site for IT professionals. The group has since launched StackExchange: a white-label service that allows users to create Q&A forums on topics of their choice. Some of the existing StackExchange sites include SharePoint Overflow, Math Overflow and Epic Advice for World of Warcraft players. Because the company allows users to rebrand the tool, override style sheets and insert HTML, forum owners can insert advertisements and generate their own revenue. StackExchange then takes care of your site infrastructure and hosting. For small communities with 1 million monthly viewers or less, the service is available for $129 per month. For those with higher-traffic sites, the service costs between $1000 and $2500 per month.

Last month Wikia CEO Gil Penchina spoke to ReadWriteWeb about the revenue potential of enthusiast sites. If you already have a dedicated niche community, StackExchange may be a good add-on solution for you. While there are only a few gaming, parenting and language-specific white-label communities, there's plenty of room for fan site expansions. Can someone say Vulcan trivia site? To check out StackExchange, visit stackexchange.com.

Discuss


Hey Chicken Little, The Cloud Is Not Falling

chicken little(the sky is falling)We sure are hearing the chickens running around in a panic about the dangers of cloud computing following the massive data loss involving T-Mobile Sidekick customers. And, as usual, the cacophony sounds more like a bunch of pundits ruminating about the great dangers that may be ahead instead of the reality at hand.

The problem is - most of them are making zero distinction about what constitutes a cloud computing service.The Sidekick disaster was not the result of a cloud disaster. It was a centralized data center that had poor oversight.

Sponsor

DevCentral clears things up with their distinction between cloud services and applications.


A "cloud service" is used by IT, by developers, by the technical community at large. What consumers access is an application, and nothing more. They aren't the user of the cloud service, they are the consumer of an application deployed in a cloud environment. Google Docs is an application. Gmail is an application. Twitter is an application. None of these are "cloud" services, even when using APIs designed to integrate them with other applications; they are still, always and forever, applications.

We do not question the severity of what happened to Sidekick customers. It looks like about 1 million people are affected. They lost it all. Pictures, calendars and a whole host of information.

These customers had no choice about what happened. They relied on T-Mobile. And T-Mobile relied on Microsoft/Danger for storing the data. This was not a cloud catastrophe. Update: Hitachi Datasystems is now being fingered as the source of the problem.

But since we are on the topic, there are some basic lessons that can be learned about what to think about when working with a cloud service provider. This is not a complete list. Feel free to add your own pieces of advice.

Lesson #1

If you are storing your data in the cloud for your customers to access, you better know if the company you hired is actually the one managing your data. If your vendor is outsourcing your data to another provider it could be a recipe for trouble.

Lesson #2

Know who you are working with and make sure there will be no surprises. Sofftware-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers who don't keep customers posted about changes or upgrades can be real trouble makers. All kinds of mix ups can occur. A SaaS vendor recently pulled this one on its users. Customers had no idea about the upgrade. They had no control.

Lesson #3

Make sure your provider has safety valves in place. How is the data backed up? Let's say, again, that the SaaS provider does an upgrade but there's a nasty bug fouling things up. If the cloud configuration has a safety valve in place then the customer can mitigate the issue pretty easily

Lesson #4

Don't use just one cloud service provider. Security experts make the point that you don't put all your eggs in one basket. Look at multiple cloud service providers so if there are issues, damage is limited.

Perhaps, overall, the greatest lesson out of the Sidekick disaster has nothing to do with the cloud at all but more so about the applications that people use in the enterprise. Facebook? Twitter? Those are applications that may be more troublesome than cloud computing services due to their vulnerability to attack and lack of control over the data.


Discuss


So, Tweetie 2 Is Awesome. What’s Next?

Screen shot 2009-10-12 at 1.14.22 PMAs we noted on Friday, Tweetie 2, the new iPhone Twitter client by Atebits, launched in the App Store. We did a preview of it a few weeks ago, noting that it was the best Twitter client out there. Judging from the response on Twitter and elsewhere, most seem to agree. So what’s next?

Atebits has a short post today outlining what we can expect from them coming up. First and foremost are all the small bug fixes for Tweetie 2. Noting that despite the name, Tweetie 2 is a 1.0 release, developer Loren Brichter says the bugs will be fixed “soon.” But the bigger story is what he wants to squeeze into the next release of Tweetie:

  • New-style retweets
  • Per-tweet geotagging
  • Lists

Of course, all of those are contingent upon Twitter having the APIs for those features ready to go. But the Geolocation API, for example, is already partially deployed and should be a go soon. Brichter notes that Tweetie 2 was built to take advantage of all of these new features, and we saw that the other week when geolocation unexpectedly went live and tagged everyone’s tweets just off the coast of Africa.

Both the Retweet and Lists features are also currently being tested and tweaked as they near launch.

We also know that Atebits is preparing a new version of its Tweetie for Mac client, that will sync with Tweetie 2. And in his blog post, Brichter hints at another project he’s been working on not related to Tweetie. “Oh, and I haven’t been all Tweetie all the time, there is this other thing… stay tuned,” he writes.

In terms of how well Tweetie 2 is actually doing post-launch, Brichter declined to comment on specifics, but noted that it was the “#1 Top Grossing app in less than 24 hours, and currently #2 Top Paid overall.  Pretty frickin’ insane,” he wrote to us in an email.

Update: Oh yes, and I have asked Brichter about the all-important Push Notification functionality. I will update when I hear back, but it is coming at some point. For now, try Boxcar.

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German Chancellor Tells Google: “You Can’t Just Go Around Scanning Books”

google_germany_flag_logo.pngOn Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel used her weekly video podcast to attack Google and the Google Book Settlement. According to Merkel, the Google Book Settlement disregards international copyright laws. Merkel, who mostly focuses on the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair in her rather anemic video, also stressed that Germany will do its best to protect German authors against what the government considers to be blatant copyright infringement. Both Germany and France filed complaints against the Google Book settlement last month.

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"The Internet Should Not Be Exempt From Copyright Laws"

According to Merkel, the German government wants to protect its authors. Google, according to Merkel, is "just scanning books without any regard to copyright law," and "the Internet should not be exempt from copyright laws," she also adds.

In this context, it is important to note that Germany has always been extremely protective of books as a cultural product. Book retailers, for example, have to sell all new books at a set price and can only discount older or damaged books under a limited set of circumstances. It's currently not clear if these price-fixing rules also apply to eBooks.

"eBooks Won't Replace Traditional Books"

merkel_small_library.jpgMerkel also stressed that she doesn't believe that eBooks will ever replace traditional books  - though she does mention that 'new' technologies like audio books have changed the book market over the last few years.

Google Books and the Google Book Settlement have obviously been mired in controversy from the beginning. Just last week, Google's Sergey Brin defended the project in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. The Google Book Settlement is currently on hold, and Google has until November to present a revised version of its plan.

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Online Audiences Demand Paranormal Activity Into Theaters [NewTeeVee]

Halloween is here, which means that it’s scary movie season — otherwise known as the only time a year I’ll willingly sit through a horror flick, because I get scared EASY. But when I do watch them, I definitely prefer the theatrical experience, because it’s gonna be a long long time before at-home technology can capture the magic of sitting in the dark with a hundred other terrified people.

It’s that experience which is the key to Paramount Pictures’s release of Paranormal Activity, a DV horror film with no stars, no budget, and some of the year’s biggest scares. Directed by Oren Peli and released by Paramount Pictures, the film has been gathering Blair Witch Project-esque buzz for a while now, thanks to two years of test screenings and a limited release schedule driven by intrigued fans like myself, who were able to literally demand the film be distributed widely.

The start-up Eventful used the pre-release buzz for the official website, where visitors could hit a Demand button on the front page — if the site received 1,000,000 million Demands, the film would receive a wide release. When I voted on Friday afternoon, the tally was approximately at 930,000 (I couldn’t actually tell for sure, because of how fast the numbers were flying upwards) and it was cool to see it tip over 1,000,000 shortly afterwards. The film will go national on October 16.

This weekend, Paranormal earned $7.1 million playing on 160 screens, setting a major record for a limited release. All that with only a $2 million advertising budget, according to the LA Times.

There’s some irony to the fact that people are turning online to request a theatrical experience, but it works in conjunction with the official trailer (embedded above). For the trailer doesn’t get into plot, doesn’t tell you about the actors — it just shows audiences reacting in terror to an unsettling and scary set of images, with plenty of people physically shaken by what’s happening.

Speaking from my own experience, yeah, it’s a slow build, but it really is that scary. And maybe it would have been just as terrifying in my own home on my own TV, but when I see a horror movie, I prefer to know that I’m not the only one scared to death.