First HD TV and HD audio … now introducing HD voice, courtesy of XConnect

Gerald Lynch Mobile phones, Science, Tech Digest news Leave a Comment

We've had HD TV and HD audio, and next on the list of old tech to get the high-definition makeover is voice calling. XConnect are offering a high-definition voice trial through their IP-peering federation to several US operators. The aim…

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Facebook testing native Twitter integration?

Daniel Sung Facebook Applications, Web 2.0 Leave a Comment

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A Facebook engineer has been spotted tweeting from an application called Penguin FB, as you can see in the picture, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the FB probably is probably short for Facebook.

So, putting two and two together combined with denials from Facebook and the removal of the tweet by engineer Ross Blake, there’s a very good chance that this was a test of a Twitter application on Facebook which allows users to tweet directly from the world’s biggest social network.

The move would be in line with Facebook’s drive to get in on the act in some way, whether that be by aping Twitter or, in this case, by trying to hold on to a lot of the traffic through the API. Doubtless, we’ll hear more about it soon.

(via Facebook Insider)

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MySpace looking shaky as 'restructuring' begins

Daniel Sung Web 2.0 Leave a Comment

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MySpace is ditching two thirds of their international staff and closing down at least four of their offices in a global restructuring strategy. The move will see 300 jobs lost outside of the US, leaving London, Berlin, and Sydney as the regional hubs and Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and Spain offices all ominously “under review”.

MySpace chief executive officer Owen Van Natta said:

“As we conducted our review of the company, it was clear that internationally, just as in the U.S., MySpace’s staffing had become too big and cumbersome to be sustainable in current market conditions. Today’s proposed changes are designed to transform and refine our international growth strategy.”

Half of MySpace’s traffic comes from outside the US but it’s in America where the network has been strongest, only being surpassed by Facebook a few weeks ago. A smaller wage bill isn’t going to help growing traffic any but it’s clear that the once darling of the web 2.0 world needs to start trimming the fat as their power continues to wain.

I’d still like to think that MySpace has its place – in the music world if nowhere else – but I’m sure it’ll see numbers tumble a long way before it levels out again.

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Google Waves hello with its the social media aggregator to end all others

Daniel Sung Web 2.0 2 Comments

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Google is introducing some frighteningly integrated web software that I can best describe as a kind of live, collaborative Facebook page. Google Wave will bring together all of your social media apps and all your media itself together in a place where it can be accessed by as many people as you like at one time. It can be added to, commented on and edited in more ways than I can get my tiny little mind around at 5pm in the afternoon the day after the Champions League final.

In a phone interview with Google software engineering manager, Lars Rasmussen, Tech Radar got the full low down on precisely what Wave can do but, suffice to say, it looks like a lot of fun.

Wave’s being shown off at Google’s I/O in San Franciso. It is, of course, all open source so that people can write extensions for it much like Firefox, it works in a browser, embedded in sites and the big G is also releasing an API for it.

They’ll be more on it including a video demo as soon as it goes official in America and doubtless we’ll all be addicted to it about three days after it’s ours to use. The mind blowing continues.

Google Wave

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Scalextric enters the world of social media

Duncan Geere Toys, Web 2.0 1 Comment

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Scalextric phoned me earlier. If you were a child of a certain part of the late 80s and early 90s, then you’ll immediately be envious. In actual fact, though, all that happened was that my inner eight-year-old immediately took the fore and started babbling excitedly. It was quite embarrassing. All they were trying to tell me is that Scalextric has entered the world of social media.

The company has launched a Facebook application, a YouTube channel and a blog. That wouldn’t normally be terribly exciting news, but the app and the channel seem pretty cool. The Facebook app lets you build a garage of cars that you can send to other people using the app. A few people will also win real-life Scalextric vouchers, so you can fill your real-life garage up with that instead.

The YouTube channel is also pretty awesome. There’s video of Jensen Button playing with the diminutive cars, but also guides on how to replace the contacts under the cars if they get worn, and footage of an attempt at the world record for biggest Scalextric track.

Lastly, the blog. It’s a little clunky, but there’s sections for news about the toys and space for news about motorsports. There’s also a ‘coming soon’ section for technical help on Scalextric builds, which I’m sure will come in handy.

The only thing missing in this list is a Twitter account. What’s that all about, Scalextric? I want to message @scalextric and not have some bloke from Warwickshire reply.

Blog, YouTube and Facebook App

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Skittles changes homepage to Twitter search for "Skittles"

Duncan Geere Twitter, Web 2.0, Websites Leave a Comment

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Skittles, the little fruity sweets, have done a bit of a makeover on the Skittles.com homepage. The page now shows the real-time results for a Twitter search for “Skittles”, with a floating box to tell you a little more about the page.

There are several aspects to this that are interesting. It’s another massive step towards mainstream for Twitter (I bet Skittles is hoping that the service doesn’t go down). It’s also a massive step towards “the conversation” for Mars, which is a company that’s been plagued with criticism in the past, though admittedly not as much as rival Nestl√©.

In fact, although there’s not been much stirring on the PETA message boards at the time of writing, it’s surely only a matter of time before the people behind sites like MarsCandyKills.com start flooding the service with highly-negative Tweets.

Some call this the campaign backfiring. I don’t think so. I think that it shows bravery, and a belief that the general public doesn’t really care. Personally, I think far more positively about the company that it’s happy to publicise its criticism, and I’ll be disappointed if they cave.

Skittles.com (via @robbrown)

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OPINION: Here's what I want from Google Latitude

Duncan Geere Columns & Opinion, Web 2.0 Leave a Comment

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I don’t really care about privacy. I recognise the fact that other people do, but I don’t have anything to hide. Add that to the fact that I’m not especially interesting, and that I’ve been on the internet so long, and have such a unique name, that there’s a lot of me out there already.

That’s why I’m not bothered by commenters saying that Latitude is a massive privacy invasion. For me, the social proprioception offered by Latitude far outweighs the downsides of having my location available to my friends.

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Encyclopaedia Britannica admits defeat – allows users to add content

Duncan Geere Web 2.0, Websites Leave a Comment

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Encyclopaedia Britannica has for years resisted pressure to join Wikipedia in allowing just anyone to submit content – relying instead on 100 full-time editors and 4,000 ‘expert contributors’. As a result, it’s slow to react to events and studies have shown that it’s comparably error-ridden .

In the next 24 hours, however, the Encyclopaedia’s website will begin accepting user-generated content. However, it still won’t be as free as Wikipedia – any changes or additions will have to be vetted by the site’s “experts”, and any would-be editors will have to register their real name and address(!) before being allowed to contribute.

Still, any changes made will eventually appear in the printed version of the Encylopaedia, which only gets reprinted every two years. I’ll stick with editing Wikipedia, thanks, and take my chances with the spammer police, endless bureaucracy and edit wars.

Encyclopaedia Britannica (via Sydney Morning Herald)

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Inauguration 2.0 – Presidents' speeches broken down into tag clouds

Duncan Geere Home cinema, Personal video players Leave a Comment

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You can tell it’s the 21st Century. The good folks over at ReadWriteWeb have broken down the full text of Barack Obama’s inauguration speech yesterday into a tag cloud using Wordle.net. The results are interesting – “nation” and “new” come out on top. Click for embiggening.

Just for fun, they’ve also analysed the speeches of Bush in 2005, Clinton in 1999, Reagan in 1981 and Lincoln in 1861 and 1865. You can see the clouds after the jump, but it’s quite interesting to see how much Bush relied on the word ‘freedom’ Reagan on ‘government’ and Lincoln on ‘constitution’ first, and then ‘war’.

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