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
The number 1 search on Google yesterday morning was “ihop.” We guess that it wasn’t enough to gorge on holiday roast beast. Or maybe some just wanted to get an omelet before last minute shopping, since the #2 search was “stores open on Christmas day.” Included on the list was “Waffle House” (#9,) Denny’s (#10,) “Wal-Mart Christmas Day hours” (No. 16,) and “Is Best Buy open on Christmas” (No. 18.) Find the complete list via the link.
Read More | LA Times
Kids are fairly sophisticated these days, but even the oldest still believes in the Claus. Since 1996, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense) has been tracking Santa online. Last year the site received over 10 million visitors worldwide. Now you can follow his journey on your iPhone, T-Mobile G1, BlackBerry, Nokia or Windows Mobile Phone by using Google Maps for mobile by searching “norad santa” beginning 6 a.m. Eastern time December 24. Put the official Santa site on your favorites to keep track of the countdown.
Read More | NORAD
Nielsen has come up with its Top Ten lists for 2008 trends. Included are lists for televisions shows, DVDs, music, books, mobile games, advertisers and consumer spending. We thought you might like to see the top 10 Internet sites (no surprise.) The calculation is an average monthly audience in millions through October. To see the others, hit the link below.
1. Google 120.5
2. Yahoo 114.9
3. MSN/Windows Live 98.4
4. Microsoft 95.5
5. AOL Media Network 90.2
6. YouTube 72.6
7. Fox Interactive Media 68.8
8. eBay 54.7
9. Wikipedia 54.5
10. Apple 49.3
Read More | Nielsen
The folks over at Google Labs have been hard at work, trying to tighten the grip of your virtual leash, and today introduced a new way to feed the desire for instant gratification: SMS text messaging for chat. How often have you tried to chat with somebody, but they don’t respond because they “just walked away from their computer?” Well, Gmail chat will now send those messages along to your intended recipient’s cell phone so it’ll be that much harder to ignore you; and if you’re in the middle of a conversation you want to continue, but they need to leave their computer, you can now do that seamlessly.
Just go to the Labs area in Preferences to turn it on - you can type any US phone number into the search box in the chat window on the left, then select “Send SMS.” You can also select the contact you want to SMS first and then add their phone number. You can send messages to US numbers from anywhere in the world. If you’re on the receiving end, when you get a text message from Gmail on your phone, messages from each contact will come from a unique number with a 406 area code (406 spells G0O…), reply like you would to any other text message and the reply will be routed through Gmail’s servers straight to your friend’s Gmail chat window.
If your recipient REALLY doesn’t want to talk to you, it’s easy enough to reply to the message with the word BLOCK and you’re just out of luck, no more SMS delivery to that contact! If you’re someone who doesn’t have a text messaging plan or are limited in the number of messages you can receive for free, you can simply reply with the word STOP and you won’t receive texts from anybody using Gmail. Another awesome innovation that makes it that much harder to hide…
Read More | Gmail Blog
We found a nifty site that can save you some bucks in this time of adversity. Tiphero helps you keep your hard earned money in such areas as food, entertainment, finance, and office expenses. We are especially fond of the Google Alert. If you are thinking of buying something and want reviews or prices, enter the specific product information. If you buy certain groceries regularly, it will alert you if there are coupons. Sign up to keep abreast of their latest tips or submit your own.
Read More | Tiphero
So you don’t have an iPhone or other web-enabled phone, you’re away from your computer and you’re tired of shelling out your precious greenbacks for 411 services; is there any other option? Well, you could just keep on calling 411, the phone companies love it when you do that – a quick check reveals that Verizon charges $1.49 per call and both AT&T and Sprint charge a piggy bank busting $1.79 per call – or you could give Google or Microsoft a call, they’ll take care of you for free. Google’s service, “GOOG-411” can be accessed by calling 1-800-GOOG-411, while Microsoft’s “Live Search 411” can be accessed by calling 1-800-CALL-411.
Both systems use voice recognition technology (you won’t be able to speak with a real human) to provide directions to and phone numbers of millions of destinations across the United States and Canada, connecting you to your destination and sending you a text message containing the requested information if you so desire.
Which service is right for you? You’ll have to try them both out and decide for yourself. I surprised myself by choosing the Microsoft service as my favorite. Stranger things have happened…
Check out the video (up top) for an introduction to the Google service.
Well, I guess that November 21 rumor was true, because the iPhone 2.2 firmware update is now available. This one is pretty hefty in the feature department too, so color us excited. You’ve got the a few nice enhancements to Maps, including Google Street View, public transit directions, walking directions, and the ability to share your GPS location with others via email. Speaking of email, the Mail client enjoys some stability improvements in this release as well, along with better handling of wide HTML email. Safari picks up performance improvements, we get the promise of fewer set-up failures and call drops, and better sound quality for Visual Voicemail.
If you’re a podcast lover (and seriously, we know that you love our shows,) you’ll be ecstatic to hear that, finally, podcasts are available for download in the iTunes application. Seriously, this thing is packed. Connect your iPhone up to your computer and grab the 246MB update now.
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