Are You Ready for the NFL at NewTeeVee Live? [NewTeeVee]


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Laura_goldbergWe are excited to announce that the National Football League will be at our upcoming NewTeeVee Live conference on November 12.

Laura Goldberg, general manager for NFL.com, will talk about fantasy football. Yes, fantasy football. As we’ve written recently, fantasy football isn’t just for fun — it’s big business that’s growing thanks to the web.

Fantasy sports is more than just a past time, it extends the TV watching experience in a way that gives audiences a personal stake in what they see. Fantasy football players don’t just care about their home team games, they care about every game, and traffic to sites like NFL.com is up on non-game days as people constantly check back in for news on their players.

There are lessons to be learned from the NFL when it comes to harnessing the power of audiences. Fantasy hobbies are spreading beyond football into most major sports and even non-sporting entertainment like American Idol, and there are opportunities for web businesses and entrepreneurs alike.

The NFL is a fantastic addition to our NewTeeVee Live conference, which also includes talks and chats with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix; Amy Banse, president of Comcast Interactive; Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive; Marc Whitten, general manager of Xbox LIVE; Anthony Wood, CEO of Roku, and much more.

Get your tickets today!

SearchMe’s Intellectual Assets Being Broken Up And Sold In Parts


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Anyone want to buy $45 million worth of visual search patents and other intellectual property? That’s about how much venture capital went into visual search engine SearchMe, which closed down in July and was looking for a buyer. It looks like that search was not successful, and now it is offering to sell its portfolio of intellectual property, in whole or in part, to the highest bidder.

In an offering document which is now available on the site (and embedded below), SearchMe’s senior secured lender, Lighthouse Capital Partners, is looking to get whatever it can from the sale of the search startup’s IP. From the document:

Lighthouse is seeking a buyer for the SearchMe’s Assets, in whole or in part. Interested parties may bid on all or any part of SearchMe’s brand name, core technology, front-end user interface, or back-end search and advertising architecture, enabling the purchaser to leverage SearchMe’s brand name, core technology, front-end user interface, and/or back-end architecture, to establish an Internet search engine with a visual approach, to enhance the user interface of an existing search engine, to leverage the potential relevancy improvements.

So what exactly is for sale? SearchMe’s visual search user interface, search relevance algorithm, a total of 23 patent applications, its brand and trademarks, thumbnail server, visual advertising technology, and more.

Searchme Ip Details

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Offers.com Launches ‘Locker’, Makes It Easier For You To Track Great Deals Online


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Offers.com has been in business for about 6 years, half of which it was using the web address as its company name after acquiring the domain name, and has managed to achieve profitability in a field that’s becoming more saturated every day: online offers and coupons.

The company now runs a profitable web-based operation with 30 employees without raising a dime of external capital, so it’s time to take a look at what they’re doing.

Offers.com is a place where anyone (well, anyone located in the U.S.) can go to find and compare great online deals across a wide range of categories like travel, food, printed media, insurances and virtually every web retailer out there. It doesn’t require people to register to be able to use, which is a big plus. It relies on retailers to provide information about current promotions, although it has a team in place that checks everything that comes in and also does some editorial work to make the website more attractive to visit.

The site is pretty straightforward: you can search for offers on items that you’d consider purchasing, and the service will take you to the location where you can redeem a code or coupon associated with whatever deal you find. You can also alert others to the offer at hand by e-mail a link or posting a message on Twitter. Today, the company is launching a new feature that should make it easier for people to keep tabs on specific offers, retailers or entire categories of items.

Dubbed the ‘Locker’, it’s essentially a sort of ‘Offers.com My Account’ with a slightly sexier name. Using a ‘watch this’ button next to specific offers, stores or categories, you can place what’s interesting to you on a so-called Watch List. That way, you can for instance obtain a feed of new offers from the Apple Store or get updated on when there’s a promotion on that Power Juicer you’ve always wanted. You can also view the feeds for all your watched items separately and share them with others via Twitter, Facebook or by simply e-mailing a link.

Again, you don’t even need to register to use the Offers.com Locker, although you might want to if you’d like to receive updates via e-mail and not lose your data when you clear your cookies or change computers. If you’re a Firefox user, an alternative to e-mail notifications is this handy add-on, which will alert you when offers are available on the website you’re browsing.

Offers.com, which also owns another killer domain with Offer.com, faces competition from many websites aggregating local offers for retailers or aggregating deals from other sources. Other companies it’s battling with include Savings.com and Coupons.com.

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Show Us Your Best Unlaunched iPhone Apps [Contest]


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IPhone app sharing service AppsFire (our review) has announced a contest to highlight the best still-unlaunched iPhone apps under development and ReadWriteWeb will be part of the judging. Called the App Star Awards, the contest will evaluate 30-second videos about apps under development.

The iPhone app environment is absurdly overcrowded and hard to navigate – AppsFire is one of my favorite solutions to that problem. The service lets you email links to apps you want to share on your phone. It’s simple but so useful! A contest to start the hype for apps before they get buried in the app store is smart.

Sponsor

Below are my favorite iPhone apps right now, shared in an AppsFire widget. I hope this contest will expose me to all kinds of new apps that will eventually land on this list as well.

We’ll get to learn about great apps and the app makers will get a small amount of cash and a large amount of publicity. You can register to participate at the page for the AppStar Contest.


Discuss


What’s Next for the Web? [WebWorkerDaily]


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Monday’s GigaOM Bunker Event looked at where the web is headed. As Jennifer Martinez reported at GigaOM, “A group of technologists explored how the next generation of the web will use location, sensors built into devices such as our mobile phones, and other context clues to ‘give the Internet a body.’” We call this future the NewNet. This topic is hot right now — it is also the focus of this week’s Web 2.0 Summit, under way in San Francisco, with the theme “Web Squared.” As explained in the event’s introductory white paper, it is the five-years-on evolution of Web 2.0. If Web 2.0 was about utilizing — and making sense of — user-generated content, Web Squared is about harnessing the mountain of data generated automatically by real-time devices and sensors connected to the Internet of Things (objects, devices and household appliances, all connected to the Internet). If a pervasive, always-connected web that’s gathering data and using it intelligently and automatically is just around the corner, what does that mean for all of us? How will our working lives be affected when we’re not just connected to the web 24/7, but actively contributing data to it all the time? What are the implications for privacy and security?

In my latest post over on our subscription research site, GigaOM Pro, “Call it Real-Time, Squared, or NewNet, The Web Is Changing,” I look at some of the issues raised by these new technologies: information overload, end-user privacy and enterprise security. I also take a look at some of the opportunities that might exist for startups and app developers. Web workers have a lot to look forward to in the not-very-distant future — much more intelligent, context-aware apps should make all of our lives easier.

Microsoft Inks Twitter, Facebook Data Mining Deal [GigaOM]


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bingUpdated with detail from the Web 2.0 conference: Microsoft is set to announced this morning during the Web 2.0 Summit separate nonexclusive deals with Twitter and Facebook, deals that were first reported by Kara Swisher over at AllThingsD, which would enable Microsoft to serve real-time status updates from those two social sites within its Bing search engine. This news comes one day after Twitter CEO Evan Williams deferred a question about pending data mining deals with Microsoft and Google.

Financial terms of the deals are unknown. And the implications will be different for Twitter than for Facebook. While most status updates on Twitter are publicly searchable, updates on Facebook are primarily kept private between users and their friends. Not all of Facebook’s status updates will be searchable in Bing’s real-time feed, according to Swisher.

Update:
Yusef Medhi, senior vice president of Microsoft’s online audience business, took the stage at the conference to demo a beta version of its Twitter real-time search feed, which is now live. Medhi identified Twitter as the leader in the real-time space and said its Facebook search feed will be rolled out later.

In the Bing Twitter feed, you can choose to see either the most recent tweets about a search term or the most relevant tweets about that term. To render a list of the most relevant tweets, Bing takes into account the author of the tweet, the quality of the message and how often it’s been retweeted.

Bing also provides a tag cloud of the most popular terms being discussed across the Twitter network and lets you see popular embedded links about a certain topic. For example, you can view a list of NY Yankees articles people are tweeting most about. Another plus is that Bing identifies the source of the article’s shortened URL, which prevents you from unknowingly clicking on a bad link.

Grid-Connected Lithium-ion Batteries to Soar to $1B Biz by 2018 [Earth2Tech]


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A123Systems1The investment and innovation pouring into lithium-ion battery technology for electric cars could be a major boon for a greener power grid. According to a new report out today from Pike Research, the global market for lithium-ion batteries in utility-scale applications (storing energy from intermittent renewable sources like solar and wind) is set to grow to $1.1 billion by 2018 — at a rate faster than at least 10 other energy storage options for the grid, including pumped hydro, compressed air and flow batteries.

“Utilities will be the downstream beneficiaries of innovation and investment in Lithium Ion batteries for the transportation sector,” explains Pike Research senior analyst David Link in today’s release. Lithium-ion is “quickly becoming the battery of choice for electric vehicle manufacturers,” he says, and this trend will deliver improvements in storage capacity and economics that will spur the utility sector to follow suit. By 2018, Pike expects lithium-ion batteries to make up more than a quarter of the $4.1 billion stationary energy storage business.

While investment in lithium-ion batteries for electric cars could help drive down costs for grid storage applications, utilities adopting the technology for grid storage could also give something in return. Batteries degenerate to about 80 percent storage capacity after 8-10 years in an electric car, but still hold value for grid storage and other applications at that point. So if auto and battery makers can find a healthy market for recycled lithium-ion batteries on the grid, it could help make electric vehicles more affordable. That’s part of why Nissan (part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which is targeting global domination of the electric vehicle market) is now getting into the battery recycling business.

A number of battery makers, including A123Systems, Ener1 and Altairnano are hoping to ride the lithium-ion grid storage boom. But as the power grid gets more digital intelligence and renewable energy in coming years, there’s plenty of room for other energy storage technologies. As Katie has explained in our FAQ about energy storage for the smart grid, “next-generation smart grid without energy storage is like a computer without a hard drive: severely limited.” According to Pike Research, other “important storage technologies” will include advanced batteries like sodium sulfur, as well as kinetic storage tech including pumped hydro and compressed air.

Stoke clings to dream of seamless WiFi-to-cellular roaming, raises $5M more


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stokeA few years ago, some companies like Stoke and Bridgeport Networks emerged with a noble vision: Create a super phone network technology that lets you move seamlessly back and forth from your home WiFi connection to the cellular network outside. That way, you’d use the strongest and least expensive network available to you at the time.

While the vision has partly been realized — there are phone plans that let you do this — the sector has been encumbered by consumers unable to figure out the confusing technology, and carriers who who aren’t aggressively pushing or explaining it very well.

Still, Stoke, one of the players leading the charge, is hanging on to its mission, and has raised $5 million more from DOCOMO Capital, a firm affiliated with one Japan’s largest network carrier, and Mobile Internet Capital. This extends the company’s fourth round of funding to $20 million (earlier this year, a number of other investors, including Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital, invested $15 million).

Soon after Stoke launched two years ago, the company’s VP of marketing Keith Higgins was telling me that the carriers were stalling in upgrading their technology, and he sounded frustrated. No wonder that he soon left the company.

stoke-_-products-_-ssx-3000-overviewBasically, WiFi/WAN roaming never quite took off quite the way some people expected, and it’s unclear whether the it will ever be substantial. But Stoke is still around, and striking deals. As people use mobile devices for more data-intensive applications, i.e, YouTube, Slingbox, it make sense for operators to want to let, or even push, their customers onto WiFi or femtocell technology in order to conserve costs. However, at the same time, they don’t want to lose their customers to other providers, and so want to control the process. Another problem is that femtocell technology is more costly to manage than some initially thought. However, the fixed-wireless convergence movement does continue: Vikash Varma, chief executive officer at Stoke, said earlier this year that 2009 would be the year when carriers moved “to reduce the cost per bit of mobile data and off-load internet bound traffic as quickly as possible to allow them to support the surge in demand.”

Stoke has now raised a total of $70 million. Other investors include DAG Ventures, Integral Capital Partners, Net One Systems, Pilot House Ventures and Reliance Technology Ventures.

The company said the most recent funding will be used to support Stoke’s commercial deployments in Asia Pacific, of which Japan is the most advanced, and the imminent launch of new 3G “offload” capabilities for the Western European market. In June Stoke announced it had been selected to supply NTT DOCOMO with its advanced mobile broadband gateways for commercial deployment.


Apple Europe VP Talks Macs, iPhones, iPods and Surprises [TheAppleBlog]


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apple_europe_countriesPascal Cagni, Apple vice president and general manager for Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, did in an interview with Katie Allen of the Guardian. Speaking after Apple’s earnings report for the fourth fiscal quarter, Cagni was optimistic on the Mac in Europe, guarded about the iPod, and enigmatic about “surprises” in the future.

Questioned on Apple’s success in Europe during the recession, Cagni responded that the Mac is “typically above 20-25 [percent] market share in each of the countries.” That’s about twice the market share in the U.S., and you have to wonder how the numbers add up to worldwide figures that put the Mac under 5 percent. Still, at Monday’s conference call, it was noted that Mac growth was around 40 percent in Spain, Germany and France, so the Mac is doing very well indeed in Europe. Less so, the iPod.

On declining sales, Cagni stated that Apple needs “to carry the message out there much better” regarding the new iPod nano, and that the decline has not yet hit Europe. Again, this is in keeping with comments from the conference call, in which it was stated that the iPod is gaining market share year over year in nearly every country tracked. While Apple does not break out iPod sales by geographic region, 40 percent of all revenue comes from North America, so it would seem then that the decline is largely in the U.S. It’s possible the iPod has hit a saturation point, though another possibility would be cannibalization of iPod sales by the iPhone.

As for the iPhone, the question was whether multiple carriers in the UK will affect pricing in the future. Again, the response lined up with the conference call. Apple does not “dictate” price. Personally, I wonder if AT&T feels that way.

Besides a non-response to the Beatles for Christmas at the iTunes Store — “nothing to announce” — the most interesting comment was another oblique reference to new products in 2010. While Apple executives routinely talk about the great and mysterious “product pipeline,” chief Steve Jobs elevated that hype in Apple’s press release for the fourth fiscal quarter. Cagni echoed that in the interview:

And guess what, as Steve stated, we are going to continue to surprise you in the year to come.

It doesn’t take 20 questions to get to the tablet, the only question now is when?

Linux Prospects, Post-Windows 7 [OStatic]


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With the release of Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system slated for tomorrow, several Linux releases and announcements are arriving. Paula Rooney at ZDNet suggests that the Linux flurry may represent wave-making in reaction to the release of the much discussed new version of Windows. Does Windows 7 threaten to stifle Linux, and what are the prospects for Linux as Windows 7 rolls out?

As Rooney notes, this week IBM and Canonical announced the launch of the IBM Cliet for Smart Work package. It allows cloud- and Linux-based online work via Ubuntu and IBM’s Lotus Symphony suite of productivity applications. Novell has also introduced SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 Service Pack 3, which brings many software upgrades and more support for hardware. Meanwhile, Red Hat is out with a new beta release of its Fedora Linux dubbed “Constantine.” Is the timing of all of this meant to make waves as Windows 7 approaches?

As we noted here, Microsoft was very shrewd to open its beta and release candidate testing for its new operating system to anyone, and the company got a slew of pre-orders for Windows 7 through the effort, as well as good early reviews. The company has also already delivered the new OS to Microsoft’s volume licensees. The actual Windows 7 rollout has been a multi-step process and doesn’t just consist of fanfare to take place tomorrow.

Microsoft has stated that it is aiming Windows 7 squarely at the hot netbook market, and it’s there that I’m hoping Linux and Linux-based platforms can maintain some entrenchment. Large computer makers such as Acer and Dell have continued with efforts to keep Linux and Linux-based operating systems alive on netbooks. Acer is even going to offer a dual-boot version of its Aspire One netbook that runs Windows as well as Android.

The netbook market has largely been driven by rock-bottom pricing, and open source operating systems and applications can continue to usher in impressive prices. That’s the stated goal with netbooks that will run the Moblin operating system, for example.

But Windows 7 is also likely to gain strong market share as a desktop operating system, partly because there hasn’t been a completely trustworthy version of Windows for businesses to bank on in many years. Microsoft hopes to reverse that trend with Windows 7. Large players on the Linux front continue to fail to market Linux with the same fervor that Microsoft markets Windows, and the marketing blitz that will surround Windows 7 could be a blow to desktop Linux. We’ll see how this all plays out soon, but I’m especially watching the prospects for Linux and variants on mobile devices. There, where cost and choice have been so important, Linux has a chance to make a difference. 

 

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Microsoft To Announce Bing Deals With Facebook And Twitter


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Microsoft will announce the integration of real time status updates from both Twitter and Facebook into Bing at the Web 2.0 Summit today, we’ve heard from a source with knowledge of the deals. The announcement will be made by Qi Lu, President of Microsoft’s Online Services Group, later this morning.

The deals will integrate real time updates from users of the services into search results. Google and Bing aren’t good at pulling in this real time data today because of the need to constantly index user pages, and the difficulty in knowing when those pages have been updated. Users have turned to Twitter Search and other real time search engines like Topsy and OneRiot to get this information.

Similar deals with Google have been rumored for some time, and we’ve confirmed that at least Twitter has been in discussions with Google around a data deal for months. But Bing is going to be first to announce these deals.

It will be weeks before the new features are live on Bing, we’ve heard from our source.

Facebook swamps Twitter in the number of status updates, with some 45 million of the short emotional grunts by users daily. However, Twitter updates are by default public. Facebook, in contrast, is default private and the vast majority of updates are currently protected from search engines.

Twitter has recently been criticized for exposing messages from users that have turned their accounts private – previously public messages remain indexable by search engines even after privacy settings have changed. Facebook is creating privacy controls, we’ve learned, that will allow users to set even previously public status updates to private, meaning search engines will be prohibited from indexing the content. It won’t be perfect, since anything published on the Internet is often spread far and wide. But it may allow users to hide previously public data to some extent.

There are two big questions that remain unanswered at this point. First, what will Google’s response to the Bing announcements be? And second, is Bing paying for this data? Twitter is clearly counting on data streams as a revenue source, but our position has been that the data is simply too valuable to give to competitors. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free and all that.

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Online Art Store 20×200 Scores $800,000 From True Ventures And Angels


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Jen Bekman Projects, which runs an e-commerce site for art collectors, 20×200, has raised over $800,000 in Series A funding led by True Ventures with angel investors participating. Notable investors included Caterina Fake, Chris Dixon, Zach Klein, James Joaquin, Scott Heiferman and others.

20×200’s platform simulates the feel of a gallery, except online. Each “online exhibit” is curated with limited-edition prints and photos, all priced affordably. The site introduces two new pieces a week: one photo and one work on paper.

Bekman also has a gallery in New York, which exhibits a variety of art in different mediums. And she sponsors a competition to help discover and promote photographers. Bekman herself is a techie turned curator, who was the former Chief Creative Officer of a video streaming company and the VP of User Development at Meetup.

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German Mobile Social Network aka-aki Gets Another Capital Infusion


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Berlin-based aka-aki, which offers a location-based social network for mobiles, has raised additional funding. The amount of this second round of financing was not disclosed, although the company did say it was ‘several millions of euros’.

Investors were Creathor Venture and Innovacom.

Aka-aki has been running its mobile social networking service for about two years now and says its community is growing much faster than anticipated. Aka-aki’s Roman Hänsler tells me the user base is currently 350,000 users strong and located around the world. The company started generating revenue only last August, mainly through advertising.


The Power User’s Guide to Google Chrome, 2009 Edition [Google Chrome]


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Google Chrome has come a long way in the past year, steadily adding subtle but useful features for power users. Let’s take a fresh look at Chrome’s current offerings—especially for those willing to brave its early developer builds.

Not long after Chrome’s release, our 2008 Chrome Power User’s Guide covered its best features for savvy surfers, such as keyboard shortcuts and startup switches. We won’t rehash those here; instead we’re going to round up the new stuff that’s come out since in both the stable and developer build of Chrome. (For reference, as of writing, the stable build of Google Chrome is version number 3.0.195.27, and the developer release is version 4.0.222.12.)

Turn Chrome into a Site-Specific Browser with Application Shortcuts

If webapps like Gmail have replaced desktop apps like an old-school email client for you, you’ll like Chrome’s ability to act as a site-specific browser (SSB) with Application Shortcuts. Chrome’s minimal interface makes it a great candidate to get the heck out of your webapps’ way, and just act as a window to it. To put a Chrome Application Shortcut to Gmail, Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, or any other webapp you like to keep open in a separate window, open the site in Chrome. From the Page menu, choose “Create application shortcuts.” From there decide to put your shortcut on the desktop, quick launch bar, and/or Start Menu. You can create as many Application Shortcuts as you like to all your favorite webapps or sites. When you open your webapp from the Application Shortcut icon, you won’t see Chrome’s address bar, or tabs, or your bookmarks bar. Any link that you click inside the application window will open in a different window in a full-on instance of Chrome.

Assign Keywords to Your Search Engines

One of Chrome’s most touted features is how you can search the web by just typing into its address bar (a.k.a, the “omnibox”). To search specific sites, you can even type certain domain names (like “youtube.com”) and then press Tab to search that site specifically. However, power users want to configure custom searches to happen in as few keystrokes as possible. Like Firefox’s keyword bookmark capabilities, you can assign a keyword to a search engine bookmark in Chrome, which uses the %s variable to pass parameters to the URL.

To do so, right-click in Chrome’s address bar and choose “Edit Search Engines.” There, you can add, edit, or remove searches and assign keywords in the Keyword field.

Using this technique you can, for instance, update Twitter with a keyword as well as search Lifehacker.com via Google. (Set the URL to http://google.com/search?q=site:lifehacker.com+%s and the keyword to lh. Then, to search Lifehacker’s archives in Chrome, type lh "your search here" into the address bar.)

Customize the “New Tab” Page

Chrome’s other slick headliner feature is its “New Tab” page, which displays a grid of frequently-visited web site thumbnails that help you get to where you’re most likely to go when you create a new tab. That list is more customizable than ever, with options to rearrange the thumbnails (just drag and drop) and pin thumbnails to specific locations on the grid (hover over a thumbnail and press the thumbtack button to do so). If you don’t need so much eye candy, you can switch to a list view by clicking on the view buttons on the upper right.

Get to Know New Chrome Startup Switches

Last year we covered several Chrome startup switches that let you do things like use multiple user profiles, always start Chrome in a maximized window, and disable certain features like Flash or JavaScript. Today there are three more startup switches worth mentioning. The --bookmark-menu switch adds a bookmark button to Chrome’s toolbar. The -incognito switch starts up Google Chrome in private, incognito mode. Finally, Greasemonkey fans will want to try the --enable-user-scripts switch to see if their favorite scripts work in Chrome. (A few other steps are required; here’s how to get Greasemonkey user scripts going.)

Choose Your Chrome Theme

As if ad-heavy web sites weren’t enough, web browser themes can add even more visual distractions to your surfing experience. However, since Chrome’s—well, chrome—is so minimal, its themes are less annoying than in other browsers. I prefer Google’s more muted in-house themes, but there are more vibrant artist themes as well. To activate a theme, from the Wrench menu, choose Personal Options, click “Get Themes.” Choose the theme you like from the Themes Gallery and click the “Apply Theme” button under it.

Master Mouse and Keyboard Shortcuts for Managing Tabs

Every power user has a few essential keyboard shortcuts in their arsenal, and Chrome offers some mouse-and-keyboard combinations for managing tabs, too. Like Firefox, you can middle-mouse-button click any link to open it in a background tab (or Ctrl+click for the same result). Shift+Click opens a link in a new window, Shift+middle+click (or Shift+Ctrl+click) opens a link in a new tab and switches to it, and Alt+click saves the contents of a link to your computer.

Switch to the Dev Channel Release for Extensions (and More)

Brave devotees to Google Chrome want to take advantage of its open development, and subscribe to the developer channel of early Chrome releases to get a preview of new features. Using Chrome’s Channel Changer tool you can switch from the stable release to the no-guarantees-on-stability beta or developer build. The risk you take in running into unexpected bugs is worth it for features the early builds offer. In the current Developer build version 4.0.222.12, you can sync your bookmarks, test extensions, and pin tabs. (Also, Mac and Linux users can finally try out Chrome via the developer channel, as a stable release is not yet available.)

(Dev Build Only) Synchronize Your Bookmarks

You use Chrome at home and at the office, and you want your bookmarks synced in both places, In the dev build of Chrome, from the Wrench menu, choose “Sync my bookmarks” to save your Chrome bookmarks in your Google account. (You’ll have to sign in to start syncing.) If you’re already using the Xmarks extension for Firefox or IE, you can use that in the dev build of Chrome, which includes the foundation of extension support with a few alpha add-ons ready for testing.

(Dev Build Only) Install Extensions

Chrome’s extension support is still young, but several alpha/beta extensions give you a glimpse of Firefox-like extension goodness in Chrome. Here are a few of our favorite Chrome extensions.

  • Gmail Checker: While it doesn’t appear to work for Google Apps accounts (someone? prove me wrong?), the Gmail checker puts the number of unread messages in your inbox on Chrome’s bottom toolbar.
  • Xmarks: Our favorite bookmark syncing extension for Firefox and IE is available for Chrome dev build testers as an alpha version. You must sign into Xmarks and sign up for the alpha test to get the Chrome extension.
  • AdSweep and Adblock+: Scrub annoying flashing ads from your favorite web sites.
  • Session Saver: As previously covered, this extension enables multi-tab saving and reloading.
  • WOT: Integrates web site reputation ratings a la Web of Trust into Google Chrome.
  • LastPass: Adds deeper auto-fill password management to Chrome.

To view and manage what extensions you’ve got installed in Google Chrome, from the Wrench menu, choose Extensions to open the Extensions manager, where you can reload, disable, and uninstall extensions.

(Dev Build Only) Shrink and Affix Tabs with “Pin Tab” Option

Finally, a tiny little tab feature that everyone seems to love is available in the dev build of Chrome: the ability to shrink a tab down to only its favicon, and pin it to your tab bar. Right-click on any tab and choose “Pin tab” from the context menu to try it out.

What other power tips for Chrome, stable or developer build, are out there? Share your best ones in the comments.

Gina Trapani, Lifehacker’s founding editor, strongly suspects 2010 will be a big year for Google Chrome. Her weekly feature, Smarterware, appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Smarterware tag feed to get new installments in your newsreader.






How to Convince Colleagues to Collaborate Online [WebWorkerDaily]


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Picture 1Last week, I met a new client who accepts that she needs to use the web much more effectively than she does now. Over the coming months, she’s planning to build her personal brand online, with the help of various promotions experts. Right now? “I just don’t have time for it,” she says. And when we discussed our next meeting, her suggested venue was her house — which is at least two hours’ travel time from mine.

The size of the job simply doesn’t warrant me traveling for four hours for a meeting. But my client’s professional services firm operates its business very much on a face-to-face basis, and both of us would prefer to meet like this, rather than simply talking over the phone. Other than meeting halfway, we could try videoconferencing. But how will I convince someone I’ve just met, who obviously isn’t particularly comfortable operating in the online sphere, to use videoconferencing technology?

I’ve often experienced resistance to technology among people who, whether they like it or not, work online. I’m sure you have, too — recent research has shown that collaborative technology hasn’t had as broad an impact in workplaces as we might like. As we know, overcoming such resistance can be a challenge, especially when we don’t know the person particularly well.

However, there are strong arguments you can use to convince people to give collaborative technology a try. None of these arguments, on its own, is likely to get someone over the line, though — usually they need to be combined to be effective.

Cost

My client is on a tight budget, so she won’t want to pay me to travel for four hours to meet with her. This could be a strong motivator for her to try a technology like using a webcam. By the same token, I expect she won’t want to pay for any technological solution, so I’ll need to suggest free solutions to this problem.

Cost is often a strong motivator for my freelance clients, but can be less important when you’re working within an organization. When I suggested to a remote colleague in a large corporate that instead of calling each other ten times a day we should just use IM, she had no motivation at all to do so: she wasn’t paying for the calls she made, so cost was not a motivator for her.

Convenience

One benefit of using multiple contact methods is that you can communicate with someone at virtually any time. Forget the old leave-a-voicemail-and-follow-it-up-with-an-email syndrome; you can do so much more than that. You can tweet or text your client or colleague a link or reminder; send them a quick message via IM; email them the minutes from your last meeting; call them using a free VoIP service.

How can you communicate the benefits of convenience to your colleague? Think of a specific case in your recent history with this individual where technology would have smoothed or sped up the process, or made a real difference to the work flow. Explain this to your colleague, and make clear the difference that your preferred piece of technology could have made to the situation.

Workplace Pressure

If enough people within an organization are using a particular application, piece of software, or technology, it can be difficult for others to maintain their resistance.

For clients who manage their own operations, or are solo operators, there can be less pressure internally to adopt collaborative technology. However, as in the case of my client, who runs her own face-to-face business and feels no such pressure, but is looking to expand her reach online, the pressure of external competition and the potential for missed opportunities may be a strong motivator.

Knowing that my client is looking to develop an online presence, I could suggest trialling video chats via Skype as a way to become more comfortable in the online space. Since she’ll be operating internationally soon, I could present the chance to skill up now as an opportunity to get ahead — it’ll make it much easier for her to communicate with key contacts in the near future.

Productivity Benefits

Studies have shown that collaborative technology pays off. That’s good, but it’s not likely to convince an individual who’s just trying to do their job with a minimum of hassle that they should change, or even augment, the way they operate.

Quoting statistics may not convince my client to climb aboard the collaborative technology bandwagon, but illustrating the realities of our situation may. The four hours I’ll need to travel, in total, to meet my client will not be productive time — that’s why she won’t want to pay me for it. If I travel to meet her, the meeting will effectively take up an entire day. For a client on a tight deadline, this is an enormous waste of time as well as money.

One the other hand, if we made a video call at nine in the morning, I could action the outcomes of the meeting on the same day. This would likely put me at least a half — if not a whole — day ahead of the face-to-face meeting scenario. I have the feeling this is going to be a very strong motivator for my client.

Support

Though it may surprise some of us, many people are still scared of technology. It takes a long time to set up, may not work properly, takes up valuable space on their computers, is yet another thing they have to learn, means they have to carry more stuff around, leaves them with no free time — the list of arguments against using technology is almost limitless.

Worse still is the fact that most people don’t want to admit that we’re scared of the prospect of having to learn something new, to adopt it and make it part of our daily operations.

Offering support to colleagues as an encouragement for them to try a new technology may make all the difference to your professional relationship, as well as your productivity. If I were to discuss the prospect of setting up video calling with my client, I’d send her links to the service and help information, ask her to call me if she had any problems with the setup, and suggest we had a trial run video call a week ahead of time.

Personalization

As I said, my client operates her business almost entirely in person. Many people who are unfamiliar with technology feel that online communication is somehow less personal than face-to-face conversations. Whether or not this is true, the fact is that the more opportunities you create for people to communicate with you, and for yourself to communicate with others, the stronger your relationships with those people will be.

People will often communicate via chat in a far less formal, more personal way than they would in an email. The great thing about reading tweets that your contact has directed specifically at other individuals is that they give you an insight into other facets of that contact. If I really want to establish empathy and rapport with someone, I’ll call them rather than emailing or IMing. Each technology has its place, and I use as many as I can to get a clearer picture of the people I work, and are friends, with. This, in turn, helps us work more effectively together.

These are the arguments I usually use to convince a colleague to give collaborative technology a try. Ultimately, though, the success of my efforts will depend on how well I understand their situation, and their reasons for not wanting to try an alternative to the status quo.

What arguments have you used to convince clients and colleagues to communicate with you online?

Will the Pre Bask in a Verizon Ad Blitz? [GigaOM]


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palmprePalm’s App Catalog took another step toward maturity as the company opened an online version of the store, allowing consumers (and, just as importantly, potential users) to browse through webOS offerings on PCs in addition to their handsets. While the move was entirely expected, it is sure to raise awareness of the platform among both consumers and developers. But the real test for webOS — and for Palm as a company — will come early next year when Verizon Wireless launches the Pre.

The Pre’s momentum has dissipated since its June launch on Sprint’s network, and Palm last month had to raise roughly $313 million for working capital and general corporate purposes with a public offering of 20 million common shares of its stock. But while the company could get a boost from the Pixi — an affordable webOS handset aimed at younger users and scheduled to hit the market in time for the holidays — Verizon could play the role of Palm’s redeemer. The nation’s largest carrier operates arguably the best network around, and Verizon has consistently demonstrated its acumen at marketing smartphones.

But it’s that latest factor — marketing — that’s a concern. Verizon is already promoting the Droid with an impressive ad blitz, and it’s likely to back the upcoming Storm 2 with some serious marketing muscle as well. It’s possible the Pre could get lost in Verizon’s suddenly impressive smartphone portfolio. If Verizon chooses to invest heavily to promote the Pre, the handset could be a huge hit. If not, Palm’s days may be numbered.

Gen Y Says: You Can Take Facebook, but Please Don’t Take our Email!


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A recent study by industry group the Participatory Marketing Network has unearthed some surprising data on Gen Y behavior. Apparently, the members of this young demographic (ages 18-24) would rather give up their social networking accounts before they would abandon their email. Given that this generation is typically viewed as “plugged in” digital natives who don’t have any use for email, the study raises many questions. Have the previous reports about Generation Y’s disdain for email simply been wrong? Or has Gen Y grown up a bit now and has learned the necessity of the medium?

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Gen Y Chooses to Keep Email, Text Messaging over Social Networks

PMN asked 203 panel members about their day-to-day behavior including the time they spent visiting social networks, reading and writing email, texting, talking on the phone, watching TV, reading magazines and surfing the web (visiting non-social networking sites).

When asked what activity they would be least willing to give up for an entire week, only 9% responded with “social networks.” However, 26% responded “email.” Another 26% said they wouldn’t give up texting, although that finding is less surprising and fits in with other known behavioral traits of this particular demographic.

The report also notes that the time spent on social networks is now nearly the same as the time spent emailing. Panelists reported spending 33 hours per month on social networks and 31 hours per month on email. The difference of 2 hours per month is somewhat negligible. What’s unexpected is how close those two numbers are to each other.

Questionable Findings?

According to Michael Della Penna, PMN co-founder and Executive Chairman, Gen Y finds email more critical because it remains the central hub for “social networking updates, including alerts around new followers, discussion updates and friend requests.” While that may be true to a point, if the only reason Gen Y desired email access was for the social networking updates, it seems they would just go to the source instead: the social networks themselves. Given a choice between the two, it would be likely that they would have chosen to give up email and not their Facebook accounts. Something else must be going on here.

These findings also somewhat contradict a wider study done by Pew Internet and American Life earlier this year which more deeply examined how the different generations use the Internet. At that time, the study showed that email was still “for old people,” so to speak, and email usage among teens had dropped from 89% in 2004 to 73% in 2009. Meanwhile, Pew also found that out of all the demographic groups surveyed, Gen Y was the most likely to use social networks.

Then last month, the Online Publishers Association revealed that web surfers’ use of social networking sites like Facebook had become so rampant that it was actually causing a decline in email use.

While neither study specifically compares Gen Y’s use of email against that of social networking sites, both seem to imply that email use is trending down thanks to the impact of social networking. That’s why it’s odd to find that one of the more “connected” generations would be quicker to abandon those social sites in favor of the more antiquated medium.

So Why Would Gen Y Give Up Facebook, but Not Email?

The answer to that question could be something as simple as how the survey question was worded. After all, the survey asked which activity they would give up for a week. Ask them again which one they could give up permanently and you may get a different answer.

Another theory is that all the hype about how Generation Y doesn’t care for email is just an overblown stereotype about a demographic that, in reality, isn’t all that different from the rest of us…at least when it comes to our inbox addiction.

Or perhaps Gen Y is starting to grow up a bit. Now that a large majority of them have exited their “teen” years and have entered the job market, they have begun to learn the importance of email communications. And no, they aren’t just for receiving Facebook updates and friend requests. Email may now involve business-critical messages which jobs depend upon.

Finally, it could be that Gen Y has just a touch of Facebook ennui. The network, which used to be an exclusive hang out, has now been overrun by Baby Boomers and other “old folks” including bosses, parents, and sometimes even grandparents. Meanwhile, many have “aged out” of MySpace, finding themselves no longer as interested in the glittery profiles and loud music that seemed much more attractive in their high school days.

In addition, although we don’t have any hard data yet, there are reports that Gen Y users are finding solace in alternative, niche social media sites like FML, Failblog, TextsFromLastNight, and Sporcle. Though not typical “social networks,” these timewaster sites skew heavily towards young, college-aged adults says Carol Phillips, president of Brand Amplitude, a marketing firm that focuses heavily on the millennial demographic.

In any event, there’s no need to take the PMN’s study as gospel, especially given its relatively small sample set. Still, it raises the question whether this purported change in behavior deserves further study. Has Gen Y succumbed to email addiction like the rest of us? Or have they always felt this way? We hope some more in-depth research will reveal those answers in the future.

Image credit: Mac guy via Apple


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Vid-Biz: HealthGuru, Mio.TV, Netflix [NewTeeVee]


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HealthGuru Raises $3.2 Million; health site and provider of online health videos get Series C led by Castile Ventures. (emailed release)

Mio.TV Files for Bankruptcy; online destination for Latinos to watch TV and interact ran out of cash. (Multichannel News)

Best Buy Adds Netflix to Insignia; retailer adds the streaming service to select Blu-ray players. (Electronic House)

New Web Series: Endemol USA to launch a new online show in conjunction with CouponMom.com to help viewers save money. (MediaWeek). Next New Networks has created FLDetours, a spin-off of Fast Lane Daily that will feature reviews of autos by real drivers. (MediaWeek)

National Film Board of Canada Launches iPhone App; allows free, full viewing of documentaries, cartoons and trailers. (The Hollywood Reporter)

NCR Creates New DVD Kiosk with More Capacity; machine can hold up to 950 discs, compared with the 700 most kiosks can currently handle. (Video Business)