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Tag Archives: Online Services

Live3D Gives Google Earth Live Updates, Adds Potential For Creepiness

By Evan Ackerman

Google Earth lets you view the entire world. It’s sweet. But most of the time, you’re viewing the entire world as it was a year ago or more. If you’ve played with Google Earth, the first thing you probably did was go find your house. The second thing you probably did was go find your ex-girlfriend’s house and then get really disappointed when you couldn’t actually peek in the windows.

Now you can! (Maybe.)

A project called Live3D, brought to you by the Media and Machines lab of Washington University in St. Louis, takes live webcam images and overlays them on Google Earth. This is something that you could do before, but Live3D makes it fast and easy and integrates the images onto Google Earth’s 3D models. There’s a database of live webcam images, and it’s super easy to add your own via drag ‘n drop tools in Google Earth itself. So as long as there’s a webcam operating in the area, you get a constantly updating view of whatever the webcam sees (in stills, not video yet). Cars driving, people walking, everything, with a level of detail limited only by the resolution of the webcam.

Of course, this brings up all kinds of potential privacy issues, since you can set a webcam up wherever you want and have it pointed wherever you want and make the image accessible on Google Earth. People have always been able to do this, but somehow when it’s easy, it tends to become a problem.

[ Live3D ] VIA [ New Scientist ]

Twitter Trends Goes Local

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By Gaurav Kheterpal

Twitter has recently added a local flavor to the popular Twitter Trends service. It’s now possible to select a geographic region to see what’s hot and what’s not in your city or any city of your interest. The current Twitter Local Trends serves 15 major US cities and 5 countries aside from the United States and I’m sure that it’s a matter of time before more countries and cities are added.

This latest offering further strengthens Twitter’s portfolio of location aware services. Last year, it had launched a Geolocation API which helped make twitter applications location aware. For a start, Twitter offered the Local Trends facility to 1% of its user base and I’m lucky to be amongst the chosen ones. From what I’ve seen so far, Local Trends seems to work well without any major issues.

It will be interesting to see how Twitter refines it as it adds more countries and cities.

Twitter ] VIA [ CNET ]

[CES 2010] Lacie’s Wuala Takes A Bite Of Cloud Storage Out Of Your Drive

wuala_logo By Evan Ackerman

Lacie would like to offer you some free cloud storage to back up your data and make it accessible to you and your friends anywhere, anytime. It’s called Wuala, and you can get as much of it as you want. Really. Infinite cloud storage, for free. Absolutely free.

Well, sort of free.

Kinda.

Okay, so it’s not totally free. But you don’t exactly have to pay for it, either. Wuala (it’s pronounced like “voilà”) functions by transforming your local storage into cloud storage for someone else. Here’s how it works: if you want a gig of cloud storage, you donate a gig of your local hard drive to the Wuala cloud. Wuala will dump a bunch of data onto your drive, and in return, you’ll get up to a gig on Wuala. Unlike most cloud storage solutions, Wuala itself isn’t a bunch of servers somewhere, but rather a bunch of users who have donated drive space to other users. Your data is encrypted before it leaves your computer, and it’s stored in several different places (like a big distributed RAID system), so it’s safe. Essentially, you’re just trading storage with other people, and Wuala is managing everything.

Now, this does mean that you’ve got some random stranger’s files on your computer. They’re encrypted, so you can’t DO anything with them, but I could see being bothered by having a bunch of random crap sitting on one of my drives. Plus, if random stranger dude wants to get at his stuff, it’s going to cost you bandwidth. Since the storage network is distributed, it’s not a big deal, but again, it’s the principle of other people using your resources that I could see being mentally problematic, even if it does make a lot of practical sense. The other catch is that this system collapses if everybody shuts their computers off, so unless you leave your computer on pretty much all the time, you won’t get a 1:1 trade for your storage.

Any way you look at it, Wuala is an interesting communal storage idea. You can try it for free from Wuala.com, and it comes bundled with Lacie’s hard drives and flash drives, including these durable little flash drives shaped like keys:

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The key drives start at $20 for 4 gigs and are available at 32 gigs for $100.

[ Wuala ]
[ Lacie USB Keys ]

Will The Real Time Web Take Off? (Updated)

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This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of LeapFish Inc. All opinions are 100% mine.

By David Ponce

You might have heard over the last few months: the Internet is entering what many are referring to as “The Real-Time Web”. In other words, where static pages were all the rage in the 90’s, and blogs, social networks and interconnectivity became popular in the early part of the new millennium, we’re now entering a phase preoccupied with what’s happening now. As in right this minute. One salient example where this played a critical role was in the controversial Iranian presidential election, where Twitterers on the ground were able to get reports out live, without any help from the press.

Of course, like any emerging movements the early days can be a little confusing. Everyone is a content creator and at any given moment, hundreds of thousands of people are updating their Twitter accounts, their MySpace pages or Facebook profiles causing a cacophony. To filter through the noise, tap into what is effectively democratized journalism and allow an orderly Real Time Web to emerge, several companies are getting into “Real Time Search”. Recently Google joined the fray with the display of scrolling live results to a large number of searches. Watch the video we’ve embedded below for more on this. Another company is LeapFish who’ve launched a portal that includes a Live Search section with content from Digg, Twitter ([Update] Yeah… that’s it) and other social networks.

Again, watch their video at the end of the article if you’re interested.

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Pogoplug 2 Includes More Pink

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By Evan Ackerman

Cloud Engines has unveiled a new version of their Pogoplug hard drive mobile access networker sharing thingy. Um, let me take another stab at that: Pogoplug (which we first saw last year at CES) is a little tiny computer that talks to USB hard drives and makes their content accessible from anywhere, and easily sharable with anyone. It doesn’t do anything that you couldn’t do with all kinds of major networking headaches, but that’s exactly why it’s so useful: you just plug it in, it works, and you’re done.

Version 2 of the Pogoplug features a redesign that incorporates a few more USB ports, making it easier to add multiple drives, although you can also use a USB hub to do the same thing. It comes on a weird pink sled, which personally I’m not a big fan of… I kinda liked the unapologetic functionality and smaller form factor of the original. There are also a host of new features on the software side, the most notable of which are automatic media syncing and global search, but you’ll also find new tools for creating and sharing media slide shows and other social features like a sharing address book.

The Pogoplug 2 is currently on pre-order for $129 (looks like the original version is still an even $100), which includes a lifetime of web sharing service.

[ Pogoplug ]

$30/month iTunes “Cable Killer” Subscription Service On The Way?

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By David Ponce

The word on the street (meaning Peter Kafka from AllThingsD) is that Apple has been going around TV networks over the last few weeks pitching a $30/month subscription service that would make it possible to watch TV through iTunes. It’s not clear exactly how this would work. For instance, we don’t know whether this would make live programs available live or as a later download, nor whether you’d have access to the same kind of programming that you get currently from cable companies. This of course would depend on how many networks jump on board, a selling task left up to iTunes boss Eddy Cue. Rumor has it

“that if anyone jumps first, it will be Disney (DIS), since CEO Bob Iger has shown a willingness to experiment with Apple and iTunes in the past: In 2005, Disney was the first player to sell its programming on iTunes, via a-la-carte downloads. And Apple CEO Steve Jobs is Disney’s largest single shareholder, a result of Disney’s 2006 acquisition of Jobs’s Pixar animation studio. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.”

Whatever happens, Apple’s in a hurry as they’d like to launch this early 2010.

The question is, would you pay $30 for a service like this? Would you ditch your cable company? Everything is moving to the web as it is, so this seems like a natural and perhaps inevitable evolution for broadcast… but is it too ambitious, too soon?

[ AllThingsD ] VIA [ Dvice ]

The Venn Diagram Of Social Media

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By David Ponce

There really isn’t much to say about the above picture except that I love it, and that you can get it as a $20 T-Shirt.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ BoingBoing Gadgets ]

Behold The “Love Cave”, Or How Not To PM On Facebook (Slightly NSFW Language) [UPDATED: Awesome 4chan Hack!]

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By David Ponce

[
Update: Turns out that while this image does depict an actual Facebook account, it wasn’t written by Tracy herself but by someone from 4chan who gained access to her account. It’s part of a larger attack by 4chan on Christians on Facebook. It’s still funny as hell if you ask us, perhaps even more so now. Maybe not for Tracy though…
-Ed.]

41-year old Tracy thought she was sending a private message on Facebook. She wasn’t. She was writing on her own wall. Big deal, right? Well, just read the above and you might be convinced otherwise.

Moral? Never. Have. Sex. Again.

I’m talking to you, Tracy. Oh, and aren’t you engaged anyway?

VIA [ Geekologie ]

Eye-Fi Card Update Lets You Selectively Upload Pics From Your Camera, Plus New Pro Version

eyefi

By Evan Ackerman

When I reviewed the Eye-Fi wireless SD card back in May, one of the quibbles I had with it was that there was no way to decide which pictures you wanted to upload. The card would send ’em all… Good ones, bad ones, naked ones, everything you take just goes. In fact, here’s what I said: “there isn’t any way to designate specific pictures to upload, or not to upload. But of course, there isn’t really a way to integrate that sort of functionality into the card itself.” Yep, I said that. Happily, I’m here to report that I’m an idiot and Eye-Fi is a genius, because they’ve made it happen: you can now selectively upload pictures from your camera.

It’s quite simple, really: using the online manager, you can set up the card to only upload pictures (or videos) that you’ve designated on your camera as locked. That’s it. The rest of the pictures will stay on your card for you to do whatever you like with. On my Nikon D40x, the lock button is right next to my thumb. It’s easy, it works, and as of today it’s available for free for all Eye-Fi cards.

Also released today is a new, uh, level? of Eye-Fi card, the Eye-Fi Pro. It costs $150, and is able to handle RAW files, as well as connect to a computer via an ad-hoc wireless network, i.e. no router necessary. These are certainly nice features, although RAW support at least seems more like a firmware upgrade, and it would be cool if Eye-Fi would push that option out to their other cards, even if it’s for a small fee, so that people who want to be able to upload RAW don’t have to buy a whole new card. I guess I shouldn’t really complain, though, since we’re getting the selective upload update for free.

[ Eye-Fi ]