YouTube began building its full-length streaming movie stronghold today, announcing a partnership between the Google-owned company and MGM Studios.
Late last week rumors flew about when and which movie studios would start offering content on the video Website. MGM Studios was the first on board with ten-year-old episodes of “American Gladiators” and a baby-sized handful of films, including “Legally Blonde” and “Bulletproof Monk.”
Though the announcement is exciting in that more studios are likely to come fast on MGM’s heels, the initial offerings are less than enticing; in fact, they’re depressing.
The big unaddressed issue? Quality of the videos. YouTube’s main competitor for streaming movies, Hulu, has a history of posting quality content via exclusive partnerships. While YouTube may grab some hot tickets as time goes on, the implementation will be little more than worthless if the streaming quality on YouTube does not increase exponentially. (Maybe MGM is trying ensure we keep buying DVDs).
MGM co-president Jim Packer seems to agree. Packer told the New York Times that MGM is starting out slowly with YouTube, but doesn’t feel it is the platform to have a vast catalog. “I feel much more comfortable doing that on a site like Hulu,” Packer said.
It’s not a good sign when MGM itself doesn’t sound psyched. If you haven’t checked out Hulu.com you’re missing the boat on Internet Video. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.
Social networking site MySpace is launching a new music service backed by three of the world’s biggest record companies. Users will be able to listen to songs and watch videos free and buy downloads from the site.
MySpace Music has done a deal with Universal, Sony BMG and Warner. EMI, whose artists include Robbie Williams, Coldplay and KT Tunstall, is not part of the deal though.
The service will make money through music download sales, advertising and sales of concert tickets, artist wallpaper, t-shirts and ringtones.
MySpace users will be able to customize their chosen content into playlists and will be able to buy tracks from the MySpace Music home page, on each of the site’s five million artist profile pages or on individual user home pages. It can’t get mush easier or more interactive than this – you see the artist, watch the video, listen to the tracks and buy just the ones you want.
According to MySpace, the music will not have copy protection on it which means you should be able to load it onto your MP3 player. The company has not said yet whether ALL the music will be copy protection, or DRM, free. That will most likely be up to the music label or perhaps the individual artists
Launch this year
MySpace CEO and co-founder, Chris DeWolfe, said: “Today represents the beginning of a new chapter in the story of modern music.
“We’re proud to announce the marriage of the world’s biggest collection of music content to the world’s most popular music community.”
The move is likely to worry Apple whose iTunes store is the market leader and currently, eight out of 10 songs sold online are purchased through iTunes.
The MySpace entry could mean cheaper downloads as competition heats up. MySpace has a readymade market of more than 100 million users and is likely to be more popular than services like SpiralFrog. www.spiralfrog.com
MySpace Music will be launched later this year.
Here’s the current link to MySpace Music where you can listen to music tracks and watch the videos – keep checking the site for changes coming later this year.
April 1st , 2008
Why use MediaFire?
MediaFire is the simplest way to host files and images and share them with others.
MediaFire is a free and unlimited file and image hosting web site with no strings attached. Our goal is to help make the internet a more interesting and media rich place by provide the fastest and most simple to use tool for sharing all kinds of files in almost any way imaginable. Registration is completely optional and every feature of the service is available to you whether you choose to create an account or not. If you choose to, creating an account is easy and free, allowing you to quick and secure access to your saved files from any computer.
Organize Your Files and Images
Create folders, instantly sort, search, move and browse your uploaded files with a fast Ajax powered file system.
Creating folders on MediaFire is easy! You can create an unlimited number of folders and sub folders to store, organize and share your files and images. MediaFire also provides easy to use privacy tools allowing you to keep some files hidden as private and other files downloadable as public. You can even set passwords for your sensitive files allowing you a flexible and adaptable free file hosting system.
Uploading your files couldn’t be easier – choose up to 10 files at a time using their simple point and click interface and you’re off and running.
Share Your Files and Images
Easily share large files and images by Email, Instant Messenger, and on your web site or MySpace page.
With MediaFire’s easy to use sharing tools and embedding links you can share entire folders of files and images by email, instant messenger, or on your MySpace page, blog or forum. Folders also double as image galleries so sharing all your vacation photos or graphic design work in one place just got a whole lot simpler.
MediaFire currently has a file size limit of 100MB because bandwidth for serving downloads is the most expensive part of running a file hosting service. For example, 200MB files are 2x more expensive to serve to downloaders as 100MB files, 1GB files are 10x more expensive to serve than 100MB files, etc.
By limiting the maximum file size to 100MB, MediaFire can offer features that no other single file hosting service offers for free:
Unlimited disk space
Unlimited bandwidth to serve any files under 100MB
Unlimited downloads of any files under 100MB
No waits, lines, or queues to download files
No daily download limits
No download speed limits
Support for most popular download managers/accelerators
Multiple simultaneous downloads
In Q2 of 2008, MediaFire will be launching a subscription based service that will let you upload much larger files and provide a Flash uploader with additional bells and whistles. Yes – this will be a paid for service. The FREE accounts will be maintained and continue to be advertising supported.
MediaFire was rated one of the Top 100 Undiscoverd WebSites by PC Magazine. To learn more about MediaFire from their FAQ’s :
Some three and half years from the general release of Windows XP Service Pack 2, and with the support of corporate IT managers waning, Microsoft is preparing to release an update to its seven year-old desktop operating system. However, Microsoft has said that Service Pack 3 will once again focus on security, and so those expecting to see features from Windows Vista will be sorely disappointed. Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) includes all previously released updates for the operating system, and is designed to improve overall system performance and stability.
One issue worth considering is the supposed shelf-life of Windows XP. With System Builder licenses available only until the end of January 2009 (June 2008 for the retail channel), and with demand for Windows Vista in the enterprise extremely weak, Microsoft is coming under increasing pressure to re-think its Windows lifecycle policy. Indeed, InfoWorld is asking users to register their objections to this forced migration by signing its ‘Help Save XP’ petition.
We spoke of this in an earlier report and the site is still getting plenty of action. InfoWorld, a popular website for IT professionals, has the following to say on the matter: “Microsoft plans to end most sales of Windows XP on June 30, despite a deep reluctance by many business and individuals about moving to Vista .InfoWorld believes such an expensive, time-consuming shift with problematic benefits should not be forced on Windows users, so we have decided to rally XP users to demand that XP be kept available.” With Windows Vista a year in the market and Windows XP a year or so away from its supposed retirement, Microsoft is in danger of letting its Windows lifecycle policy get out of sync with reality. In the meantime, however, Windows XP SP3 provides Microsoft with yet another opportunity to address real and significant security concerns, and so the company would do well to promote Windows XP SP3 over Windows Vista SP1. However, whether or not the company will adopt this policy remains to be seen.
In related news: Microsoft is lowering the price of consumer versions of Windows Vista. Microsoft’s plans to lower prices on consumer versions of Windows Vista are a clear indication that Vista has not had the expected uptake in the home market. While the company is keen to point out that retail sales are only a small part of total Windows-based revenue, there has always been a correlation between home and business users, which suggests business uptake is similarly disappointing.
Hot off the heels of Internet Explorer 7 comes the next “end all-be all” internet browser from Microsoft.
Are YOU ready to take the plunge? If so, keep a few things in mind…
1: IE8 is in BETA release– CRASHES ARE GUARANTEED!
2: IE7 and IE8 cannot co-exist. If you install this beta 1 version, IE* becomes your primary browser.
3: There seems to be a compatibility issue between IE8 and the widely used Google and Yahoo toolbars. You will have to forgo these add-ons for the immediate future.
4: Read through the articles I’ve provided links for at the bottom of this page and make sure you know the implications if you intend to go down this path. I, for one, intend to pass on this initial beta release. We still aren’t fully satisfied with IE7 so why mess with this version.
Once we get a later BETA version installed and working on a test machine, I’ll revisit this with our personal experience.
So- according to Microsoft, here are some of the New and exciting features:
Activities are contextual services to quickly accessa service from any webpage. Users typically copy and paste from one webpage to another. Internet Explorer 8 Activities make this common pattern easier to do.Activities typically involve two types of scenarios: “look up” information within a webpage or “send” web content to a web application. For example, a user is interested in a restaurant and wants to see the location of it. This is the form of a “look up” Activity where the user selects the address and views an in-place view of the map using his favorite map service.
An example of a “send” Activity is a user reads an interesting article and wants to blog about a portion of the article. The user can select a portion of the article and uses the blog activity. This navigates to the user’s blog site with the selection already available in the edit feild.
Activities are services that the user can install and manage. Users can install them from the Internet Explorer 8 Service Guide or through any website that advertises Activities.
WebSlices is a new feature for websites to connect to thier users by subscribing to content directly within a webpage. WebSlices behave just like feeds where clients can subscribe to get updates and notify the user of changes.
Internet Explorer 8 users can discover WebSlices within a webpage and add them to the Favorites bar, a dedicated row below the Address bar for easy access to links. Internet Explorer 8 subscribes to the webpage, detects changes in the WebSlice, and notifies the user of updates. Users can preview these updates directly from the Favorites bar and click-through to the website to get more information.
In Internet Explorer 7, the links bar provided users with one-click access to thier favorite sites. The links bar has undergone a complete makeover for Internet Explorer 8. It has been renamed the Favorites bar to enable users to associate this bar as a place to put and easily access all their favorite web content such as links, feeds, WebSlices and even Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.
A user can easily ass a link to the Favorites bar by using the Add to Favorites button and selecting the Add to Favorites Bar option.
Automatic Crash Recovery
Automatic Crash Recovery (ACR) is a feature of Windows Internet Explorer 8 that can help to prevent the loss of work and productivity in the inlikely event of the browser crashing or hanging. The ACR feature takes advantage of the Loosely-Coupled Internet Explorer feature to provide new crash recovery capabilities, such as tab recovery, which will minimize interruptions to users browsing sessions.
see Automatic Crash Recovery white paper for more information
Improved Phishing Filter
Internet Explorer 7 introduced the Phishing Filter, a feature which helps warn users when they visit a Phishing site. Phishing sites spoof a trusted legitimate site, with the goal of stealing the user’s personal or financial information. For Internet Explorer 8, we are building on the success of the Phishing Filter with a more comprehensive feature called the “Safety Filter.”
For IT administrators, new Group Policy options are available to remove the user-override option and fully block access to known unsafe sites.
Five things you’ll love (or hate) about IE8
PC Magazines take and screenshots
Washington Post Article
If you STILL want to experience Internet Explorer 8 after reviewing the articles above, here’s the link to all the Internet Explorer 8 BETA downloads
Is this site really necessary?
Well, it was bound to happen. Now there’s an online repository for all the email jokes “some” people are so fond of sharing.
You know who I mean – friends, family, co-workers – even people you’ve never met think nothing of adding you to their joke list.
Here’s one response to these types of forwards (yup – you guessed it – this graphic came from a forwarded email
So What’s This All About?
FWDitOn.com states it’s a repository for all of the funny emails circulating the Internet.
What Is A Forward?
A FWD is one of those funny/gross/disgusting/interesting/amazing/heart-warming emails we all get in our inboxes (almost) every day. We call these emails “FWD’s” (pronounced as “forwards”) due to the long list of “FWD: FWD: FW: FWD:” which these emails always seem to have in their subject lines from continuously being forwarded on from person to person
Users of this website can rate the fwd’s out of 5 stars. The site records this information to create a list of the best fwd’s circulating around the internet.
You don’t need to have an account in order to use this website, however, members do get access to some extra features. Thanks but I think I’ll pass…
For those of you who would like to review the site and see what it offers and how it works go to:
Now for the rest of us, if anyone out there knows of a site to counteract this sites purpose, please let me know. I’d love to find a way to get my email address removed from junk email lists – perhaps something similar to the governments Do Not Call List would be appropriate.
Now that’s a service that would probably be a real money maker!
Windows Vista SP1 is right around the corner…
Microsoft has finally ended the “beta” test on their MS Vista Service Pack 1 and we should expect to see the release candidate available for download over the next few weeks.
Microsoft released the latest pre-release build of SP1 – ‘Windows Vista SP1 RC Refresh’ to approximately 15,000 beta testers. This group includes corporate customers, consumer enthusiasts, software and hardware vendors, and others. The code is not available for public download yet. You may recall that Microsoft released a publicly available test build of Windows Vista SP1 back in December 2007.
A Microsoft spokesperson said “We are still on schedule to deliver SP1 RTM in Q1 2008. The final release date is based on quality, so we will continue to track customer and partner feedback from the beta program before setting a final date.”
Word on the Microsoft street is the Vista team is aiming to deliver the final SP1 code at the same time as Windows Server 2008 becomes available, which is expected in February (and some time before the big Windows Server 2008/SQL Server 2008/Visual Studio 2008 launch on February 27, 2008).
Microsoft also pushed out this week several new Windows Vista reliability and performance updates via Windows Update, as well as an update to the BitLocker encryption component of Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate that will be a prerequisite for successful installation of SP1.
What will this mean for users?
Hopefully a more stable and robust version of the Vista operating system – here’s some of the info Microsoft has decided to share.
First, Windows Vista SP1 will include all previously released updates for Windows Vista. It also will include security, reliability, and performance improvements. These improvements target some of the issues Microsoft has identified as the most common causes of operating system crashes and hangs, giving customers a more reliable experience. These updates also improve performance in key scenarios-for example, when copying files or shutting down the computer.
The following sections describe many of the security, reliability, and performance improvements that will be in Windows Vista SP1.
Security improvements that will be in Windows Vista SP1 include:
Provides security software vendors a more secure way to communicate with Windows Security Center .
Includes application programming interfaces (APIs) by which third-party security and malicious software detection applications can work with kernel patch protection on x64 versions of Windows Vista. These APIs help ISVs develop software that extends the functionality of the Windows kernel on x64 computers without disabling or weakening the protection offered by kernel patch protection.
Improves the security of running RemoteApp programs and desktops by allowing Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) files to be signed. Customers can differentiate user experiences based on publisher identity.
Adds an Elliptical Curve Cryptography (ECC) pseudo-random number generator (PRNG) to the list of available PRNGs in Windows Vista.
Enhances BitLocker Drive Encryption (BDE) to offer an additional multifactor authentication method that combines a key protected by the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) with a Startup key stored on a USB storage device and a user-generated personal identification number (PIN).
Windows Vista SP1 will include improvements that target some of the most common causes of crashes and hangs, giving users a more consistent experience. Many of these improvements will specifically address issues identified from the Windows Error Reporting tool. The following list describes some of the reliability improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:
Improved reliability and compatibility of Windows Vista when used with newer graphics cards in several specific scenarios and configurations.
-Improved reliability when working with external displays on a laptop.
-Improved Windows Vista reliability in networking configuration scenarios.
-Improved reliability of systems that were upgraded from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
-Increased compatibility with many printer drivers.
-Increased reliability and performance of Windows Vista when entering sleep and resuming from sleep.
The following list describes some of the performance improvements that Windows Vista SP1 will include:
Improves the speed of copying and extracting files.
Improves the time to become active from Hibernate and Resume modes.
Improves the performance of domain-joined PCs when operating off the domain; in the current release version of Windows Vista, users would experience long delays when opening the File dialog box.
Improves battery life by reducing CPU utilization by not redrawing the screen as frequently, on certain computers.
Improves the logon experience by removing the occasional 10-second delay between pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and the password prompt displaying.
Addresses an issue in the current version of Windows Vista that makes browsing network file shares consume significant bandwidth and not perform as fast as expected.
For the complete list, or perhaps just as much as Microsoft wants us to know today, check out this whitepaper.
This is going to be a BIG download and only time will tell if the wait will have been worth it.
Remember you can still opt to try and SAVE WINDOWS XP by adding your name to the list on the InfoWorld website.
December 18th , 2007
Norad has been successfully tracking Santa for 51 years – with 2007 being 52.
First, it may help to know what NORAD stands for. NORAD is an abbreviation for the North American Air Defense Command, which was known as CONAD, or the Continental Air Defense Command, until the late 1950s. In 1958, the
That also started back in the 1950s and came about because of a simple mistake. In 1955, a Sears store, at the time known as Sears Roebuck and Company, placed Christmas advertising that included a phone number where children could call and reach Santa Claus. The only problem was that the phone number was printed incorrectly. As excited children began dialing on Christmas Eve, they reached CONAD, instead of Santa. The Colonel in charge recognized what had occurred, and in an act of kindness, had his team check the radar to see where Santa might be. Children were told of his speculated location when they called. Tracking Santa became a Christmas Eve custom after that. When CONAD became NORAD, the custom was passed along and is still in practice today. Information about Santa is now available in six different languages and children and their families can track Santa by calling or by viewing the NORAD website.
The NORAD site also has a countdown that shows exactly how long it will be until Santa leaves the North Pole which includes the days, the hours, the minutes, and even the seconds. Children can learn the very second Santa begins his journey, and track his progress toward their locations. For those “Grinch’ type folks who might be concerned about this use of taxpayer’s dollars, remember that much of this effort is simply an exercise in creativity and imagination. In addition, NORAD states that people from both the
New for 2008 check out the Official Santa Mail website for fun games and much more:
From the entire ACTSmart team, Merry Christmas to all and to Santa, good flight!
December 4, 2007
Decisions, Decisions, Decision
With the holidays coming up, way to quickly I might add, perhaps it’s time to investigate getting a new PC. Dell is selling its PCs in Staples office supply stores as evidenced by the Staples flyer in this past Sunday’s newspaper. The PC lineup includes Dell’s Inspiron 530 desktop PCs and two versions of Inspiron notebooks, as well as supplemental Dell products like all-in-one printers and flat-panel LCD monitors. These are consumer based PC’s with limited warranties and most likely off shore technical support. Buying through a retailer also limits the add-ons and bells and whistles available. These systems are pre-configured, cash and carry boxes with no customization is available.
Will this help Dell have a strong holiday sales push?
Dell’s deal with Wal-Mart was grand when it was announced, but since the company has given no specific performance figures on how well its retail effort in Wal-Mart has fared, it’s hard to gauge how customers will react to Dell’s brand in Staples. Does Staples even sell many PCs?Dell systems in Wal-Mart stores reflected an aura of older or overstocked parts assembled into PCs and dumped into Wal-Mart’s parking lot, rather than any specific computer build made for the retailer, and I’m not so sure customers have responded in droves to buy Dells inside those local Wal-Mart stores. Not enough time has gone by, though, so I could be jumping the gun here.
Last month, Wal-Mart started selling a $200 Linux-based machine
(the Everex TC2052 gPC) that we spoke of a few months ago. The initial run was around 10,000 units and now Wal-Mart is sold out. Perhaps Linux has found a niche. These PC’s don’t have what it takes to run Windows Vista, but they have enough power to do pretty much everything that users want from a PC.Dell’s latest partnership with Staples will put its PCs and products into 1,400 more retail locations, which will instantly give it more exposure to the American buying public. Perhaps that is what Dell is going after here — mass exposure (which generates a certain amount of purchases) instead of strategic, slower partnerships. Dell is expected to strike more retail agreements in the next 12 to 18 months. Dell is now significantly behind competitor Hewlett-Packard in overall computer system sales, and these retail efforts are considered by many to be a desperate attempt to win back market share. Right now, it’s too early to attribute any success or failure in that effort.As the seasons roll around so do the quarterly PC sales numbers. It will be a chilly fall for Dell. In the third quarter, the Texas-based PC company shipped 9.8 million PCs. That was an increase of less than 4% over the same period last year, and gave the company 14% of the global market, according to The Wall Street Journal.By way of contrast, Hewlett-Packard shipped 12.8 million PCs world-wide, enough for 19% of the market and a 33% increase from the year earlier period.
Ouch…..It would appear that HP is going to report especially strong PC sales when it releases its third quarter earnings. Its shares are already at almost $53, near their 52-week high.
So, Santa… your choices are varied and numerous. Be sure to do your homework before plunking down your hard earned cash. Remember, extended warranties and effective technical support are worth a little extra money.
October 16th, 2007
It’s Official. Discovery Communications said Monday that it has acquired HowStuffWorks, a how-to site. This site has been one of my personal favorites and we’ve talked about it many times in the past.
Founded by North Carolina State University Professor Marshall Brain in 1998, HowStuffWorks is the leading source of credible, unbiased, and easy-to-understand explanations of how the world and the things in it actually works. HowStuffWorks built its audience in part by focusing its content on topics that are often the subject of search queries on Google and other search engines.
It has won multiple Webby awards, was among Time magazine’s “25 Websites We Can’t Live Without” in 2006 and 2007, and was among PC Magazine’s “Top 100 Web Sites” four times including in 2007. HowStuffWorks is headquartered in Atlanta , GA , and has been a subsidiary of The Convex Group, a media and technology company, since 2003.
Discovery will add HowStuffWorks.com to its portfolio of properties, which includes Animal Planet and the Discovery channel. Discovery will also launch a new show based on the website.
According to a statement , HowStuffWorks has 11 million global monthly unique users, up 25 percent from a year ago. Discovery didn’t disclose the price tag for HowStuffWorks, but the Wall Street Journal put the price at about $250 million ( see Techmeme ).
Discovery said it will integrate its TV and video assets such as Mythbusters and How It’s Made with HowStuffWorks.com. Meanwhile, How Stuff Works will become a new show on the Discovery channel in the summer of 2008. Discovery has been making a series of moves to expand its online offerings. It also owns Petfinder.com to complement the Animal Planet channel and TreeHugger.com, which will go with Discovery’s Planet Green television network.
I like the Discovery channel for its desire to broadcast shows that may not be quite mainstream. How about Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe (the guy is whacked) or perhaps Deadliest Catch (fishing for Alaska King Crab – my mother-in-laws favorite meal)? Coming soon – Storm Chasers – the promo’s look very exciting, are they chasing twisters or is it the other way around?
I’m looking forward to seeing what Discovery does for HowStuffWorks. Hopefully they’ll continue to build the brand and keep the 160 existing HowStuffWorks employees working for many years to come.