Sony is offereing its Reader users half a million public domain books. The Google optimized books are added to the 100,000 already available for the e-book. Included are such titles as “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” “The Awakening” and “The Letters of Jane Austen.” Google has been encoding books in the open electronic format ePub to make such titles more available to Sony and other e-book distributors.
Read More | NY Times
Google has a new tool that they are testing. PowerMeter will show home energy usage in real time on your PC. You set the rate of your electricity charge, plug in your appliance and a monitor will calculate the cost. Forty million trackers are already in use and Google predicts that another 100 million will be bought in the next few years. Studies show that those who have access to home energy information can save up to 15% of their electricity bills. PowerMeter is not yet available but should be soon.
Read More | CNN
YouTube has begun testing a sub-set of their partners with a charge for download. Most of them are available for about $.99 but only as MP4 files. They can be purchased through Google Checkout. This may put an end to the problems that site has had with studios like Warner. If the program is successful, look for them to allow all of its partners to charge for movies and TV shows on the site.
Read More | Read Write Web
Google has added 3D renderings of the ocean floor in its latest update since 4.3. Google Earth 5.0 is still free to download. Track gray whales, explore shipwrecks and see what the water looked like up to 50 years ago. Also in the new Google Earth are maps and satellite images of Mars, including probe landing spots, and you can save your toured places to share with other GE users.
Read More | Google Earth
Even Google can screw up. If you noticed yesterday that when you hit a search you got the error screen “may harm your computer,” you weren’t the only one. The period only lasted about 40 minutes but we guess that was long enough to freak a few Googlers out. Their engine works with stopbadware.org that helps find malicious software then sends a list to them. After updating Saturday, Google accidentally flagged all of their sites. The company attributed the problem to “human error.”
Read More | BBC
This should be a lesson to all those parents who complain when their kids ask for cell phones. Utilizing Google Street View and a mobile phone signal, a 9 year-old girl has been found after she was allegedly kidnapped by her grandmother. After Natalie Maltais went missing in Athol, Massachusettes in what was supposed to only be a weekend, police officer Todd Neale used the girl’s cell phone to track them. Fire chief Thomas Lozier used View to locate the hotel in Virginia where the child and grandmother were found.
Read More | BBC
Word has come down that after the Chinese government decided to limit Internet usage, 3 of the sites in question decided to apologize. Gaming sites NetEase and SINA were two of them. Baidu also issued one “to the netizens at large for the negative impacts we brought upon the society.” They also claimed that they had deleted the content and links in question. The oddest remark came from the BBC’s Micky Bristow who said China is trying to protect its young people. We will see where this goes and get back to you “youngsters.”
Read More | BBC
China has decided to cut back on their country’s Internet access to porn and obscene content by blacklisting 19 portals and sites. Included in that list are Netease, Baidu and Google. The deputy director of the State Council Information Office, Cai Mingzhao, said “Immediate action is needed to purify the Internet environment.”
Supposedly the Chinese Google has links to porn sites and although China’s Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center asked them to take them off, nothing was done. A spokesperson there said, “Google is neither the owner of those Web sites and porn nor does it spread (that) information intentionally.” We figure if someone wants to find that sort of content, there is always a way.
Read More | CNN
During his first (and only) MacWorld keynote speech, Phil Schiller announced the latest update to the iLife suite of software, iLife ‘09. Let’s take each app, one by one, and look at the changes and additions:
iPhoto ‘09: New to iPhoto is Faces. Faces uses facial recognition to organize and tag photos of people. iPhoto will find a face in a photo, and you tell it who it is. It will then find other photos that it thinks are of the same person. Easy way to grab snapshots that feature the same person. Another new organization feature is called Places. This uses the geotagging feature available on a lot of modern cameraa, and puts pins on a map showing the different places that the images were taken. If you have photos that aren’t geotagged, you simply tell iPhoto where the image (or event images) was taken, and it fills in the rest. The map feature is based on Google Maps, so you can zoom in on a location, look at satellite or street view, etc.
Apple has also added in built-in support for Facebook and Flickr to iPhoto - that means no more fumbling around with clunky plugins to get your pictures out of iPhoto and onto those services. A very welcome addition. Facebook users can add the names of people in their images, and iPhoto will retain that info as well (presumedly for the Faces feature.)
iPhoto also gets new slideshow themes. You choose a theme and photos, and iPhoto puts it all together. It uses the Faces to find the faces in images so that those are centered and zoomed. You can save slideshows to iTunes, and they can be synced to an iPhone or iPod touch. Something new for the Books too, you can now automatically get maps included, with pins that show your location. Great for making travel books.
iMovie ‘09: Apple has admitted that, since it was new, iMovie ‘08 didn’t have all the features that older customer wanted. This year, they aim to change that. iMovie ‘09 gets a new Precision Editor, Advanced drag & drop (that give you context-sensitive menus,) dynamic themes, and even animated travel maps. So, again, you can use your location data to insert 2D and 3D maps of those locations into your movies.
GarageBand ‘09: GarageBand ‘09 is being updated with a new feature called “Learn to Play,” which brings up an instructor which plays video lessons. If that’s not enough to get you excited, there are even Artist Lessons. You get people like John Fogerty, Colbie Caillat, Sting, Sarah McLachlan, Norah Jones, and Patrick Stump, who will teach you how to play instruments like the guitar or piano.
iLife ‘09 also includes updated versions of iWeb and iDVD, and ships free on new Macs. You can purchase an upgrade for $79, or buy a family pack (good on up to five Macs) for $99, and it will be available in “late January.”
For those wondering, Apple has also released a new version of iWork - iWork ‘09.
On the eve of MacWorld 2009, Google has finally gone and released a Mac version of Picasa. Picasa 3 for OS X is a beta version of the massively popular Picasa photo management software that Windows users have been enjoying for about five years now. If you are unfamiliar, unlike iPhoto, Picasa doesn’t wrangle all your images into one area - instead, if finds them and leaves them where they are. If you move an image, it will know where it went. You can do simple editing, and since Picasa is a Google product, it ties in to all the other Google offerings in exactly the ways you are thinking. Yup, emailing photos using your Gmail account, uploading videos to YouTube, and sending both photos and videos to the free Picasa Web Albums service, where you can then share them with friends, the world, or keep them private.
Picasa is free, and you can grab it immediately.
Read More | Picasa for OS X