Just because the Red Cross is a non-profit organization doesn’t mean they can’t have a little fun sometimes! And since I tend to pay a good bit of attention to social media and social media campaigns, I noticed when the folks at the Red Cross made this little mixup with their Twitter account. The result? The above image.
Anyone who’s ever managed multiple Twitter accounts or been responsible for an “official” Twitter account as well as their personal one can empathize with what the folks at the Red Cross had to deal with – and since nothing on the Internet these days is as simple as deleting the offending tweet and moving on, they deleted the tweet, made sure to tweet that there was an error in the first place, and then move on. It’s also worth noting that a couple of breweries (including Dogfish Head!) stepped up with some donations shortly after the faux pas!
Honestly, their reaction was the best way to go about it – by acknowledging the error they didn’t try to artificially wipe it away, and they wound up garnering positive reaction from their community. After all, who wouldn’t have laughed and offered to join in? #gettngslizzerd
If you’re a fan of Netflix Instant Watch, and you enjoy streaming Netflix video to your game console, your PC or Mac, your handheld device or tablet, or even directly to your television as much as I do, you’ll want to make sure to bookmark Instant Watcher.
The site lets you know when various titles that are scheduled to land on DVD or Blu-Ray are headed to Netflix Instant, meaning you don’t ever have to worry about missing one of your favorite shows or movies. The best part is that as you start to pay attention to what’s available when, you can make a point to check out some of the new stuff that lands as soon as it’s available, instead of catching something when it appears and you stumble on it later.
In addition to the newly added titles to Netflix Instant, you can also check out some of the most popular movies and television shows available. You also have one-click access to some of the New York Times’ Critics Picks, things the folks at Rotten Tomatoes thinks are actually good, specific genres, and of course, what’s available on Netflix Canada if you’re north of the border.
If you have a Netflix streaming only account or you just spend a lot of time watching streaming video, it’s definitely worth checking in on regularly.
I’m one of those people who always loves to stare and drool at other peoples’ workspaces: especially if they’re shiny and well put together. Every now and again I stumble on a blog entry like this one – it’s a bit old, but it has a massive list of amazing workspaces from web designers and developers that I can scroll through, drool over, and ponder possibilities for my own setup at home and at the office.
Among them? One Luke Whitson’s workspace, shown above – but it’s hardly the only one, this piece has fifty different workspaces, some of them practical and some of them clearly ornamental. Some of them look like they’d be good in any home office, and others are clearly destined for organizational magazines and furniture catalogs.
Regardless, head over and take a look – and let me know which one is your favorite! Leave a comment!
I covered this story for Gearlog today, but I think it’s interesting enough to discuss here as well. Paul Thurott, for all his often-crack-smoking-goodness, often gets the inside scoop at Microsoft earlier than a lot of people, and he has a pretty good track record for being right. So when he implies that part of the fallout of the Nokia and Microsoft partnership is that the Zune brand may be dropped so Microsoft can combine and focus all of its efforts into one unified mobile platform for both media players and mobile phones.
It likely doesn’t mean the end of the name, but it might mean the end of the Zune “brand,” but what exactly that really means? No one’s sure yet. Here’s what Thurott had to say over at his blog:
And what about Zune? Although both companies talked up virtually all Windows Phone-based services, Zune was conspicuously missing–both in discussions from both Elop and Ballmer and on a global reach marketing slide that was created by both companies. My sources tell me that the Zune brand is on the way out and that all Zune products and services will be moved into other businesses, including Windows Live. Zune will essentially cease to exist under this plan.
And here’s what I had to say:
Whether this means that new Zune and Zune HD digital media players will suddenly be renamed to something else, or that the Zune Marketplace will fold into the Windows Phone Marketplace, or that some new branding will appear to unify all of Microsoft’s mobile devices remains to be seen.
Even so, and assuming Thurott’s sources are correct, wiping away the Zune as a brand would be a pretty big feat for Microsoft considering how entrenched it is in XBox Live, in WIndows Phone 7, and as a name in the digital music space. It’s unlikely to be as dramatic as it seems, but it will be interesting to see what happens.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
I’m not just saying this because I had the opportunity to do some writing for Lifehacker, but every now and again the site puts together a feature that’s so incredible that it’s difficult not to bookmark it and vow to use it the next time you have the opportunity: or to make it a weekend project of your own.
That’s how I felt when The Geek’s Guide to Rebooting Your Kitchen popped up – complete with the video above of a very determined Kevin Purdy working his way through his kitchen, cleaning things out as he went and organizing them in the process. He did something that I’ve suggested people do when they move to a new workspace: think about the way you use the space, and then organize it from the ground up to match the way you work in it. That way you have a space that’s always useful and never a pain to work in or around.
Here’s a tidbit I adored from the piece:
To be honest, the heart of my own kitchen’s recent reboot was not cheap—it was a total gut and remodel, with contractors and drywall and all that fun stuff. Putting the root-level changes aside, it was also a chance to empty out our cabinets and drawers, pack up all the dry goods and spices, and rethink where we wanted everything to go. You can do this, too: piece by piece, or, you know, you can jam it all into four hours of French-press-fueled mania on a Saturday night, as shown in the clip above. Your call.
Hey – just because I love my French press doesn’t mean I’m any less dedicated. Seriously though – with a move on the horizon for yours truly, this will be incredibly helpful. Here’s hoping you can find some use out of it too!
Everything is a Remix is something of a documentary project that’s done an excellent job of cataloging the fact that so much of the popular culture and media that we’ve enjoyed and cherished in recent years heavily draws upon influences and ideas put forth in earlier works. And by “recent years,” we can go back 30 or 40 if we have to.
The beauty of the Everything is a Remix project is that it draws a very clear and bright line between work being influenced by versus derivative of other work. The latter can be a problem and generally is a bad thing – the former however is completely natural and should be encouraged. Everyone – no matter how “original” they may be perceived or their work reviewed as – is influenced by someone else or something else. It’s impossible to be creative in a vacuum.
So embedded above is Part 2 of the Everything is a Remix project, the one that focuses a great deal on movies – some of the most popular in recent history, like Avatar and Star Wars. Take a look – it’s a great short film, and will really get you thinking about how just because someone is inspired by someone else’s work doesn’t mean they somehow create bad work that’s not really their own.
If you’re not familiar with Agloves, peep this Gearlog article I wrote about them a little while back – they’re comfortable, warm, and conductive gloves that allow you to use your touch-sensitive devices even while you’re wearing them. This means you don’t have to pull a glove off while you’re standing out in the cold to answer the phone, or to respond to a text message. See how this could be useful? Best of all, unlike a lot of competing products, Agloves work with every part of the glove, not just the fingertips, or a special pad on the finger – the whole glove is conductive.
Here’s what I wrote:
The silver-coated nylon means that you don’t have to have the fingertips of your gloves exposed and you aren’t limited to only using the very tip of your fingers with your touch-sensitive display. The material makes the entire glove a conductor, so you can use multi-touch gestures with all of your fingers or your whole hand if you choose to. Best of all, the uniform knitting means your hands stay nice and warm while you use your phone.
Now, the fine folks at Agloves e-mailed me to let me know that if you’re looking for a way to keep your sweetie’s hands warm for Valentine’s Day, their “Twice the Love” Valentine’s Day bundle is designed for geek guys and girls who want a little something sweet, but can also really appreciate the ability to use their phone without baring their hands first.
The bundle includes: a pair of Agloves, a gourmet Chocolove chocolate bar, and a mini “I (g)love you” card in a beautiful red organza bag. If you haven’t picked up a gift for your smartphone-loving Valentine, this would make a great gift.
The fine folks at Lifehacker were kind enough to allow me to guest post for them last Friday, and now that the furor around it has died down a little bit and my nerves have calmed a bit, allow me to share those guest posts with you:
[ Lifehacker :: Roll a Powerful Media HTPC for Less than $500 ]
This piece was tons of fun to write – partially because of the speed with which I had to assemble the component build for the HTPC, and the fact that I had to stick to a budget. I wanted to stay under $500, but I wanted to make sure it was chock full of quality components that would get the job done. As usual, the comments are great for my piece, with lots of great critiques of some of the areas even I think are most flexible.
For example, a lot of commenters suggested going AMD instead of Intel to save money – great idea, I just went Intel because it was tried and true and proven to me, and frankly I’m not as familiar with the AMD chipset and its current-gen processors. A number of others suggested going with less RAM (something I don’t agree with at all) or with an Atom/Ion processor/chipset combo (skeptical, but open to the idea,) but if you’re planning on building an HTPC anytime in the future, this is a good guide and parts list.
Alternatively, you can accomplish much of the same by installing XBMC on your Apple TV 2, but the article was really targeted at people who wanted the ability to have complete and utter control over their home media solution – and who could drop the media management software anytime they chose to stream Hulu and Netflix even if those two services block the set-top software they’re using.
[ Should I Go Back to School? ]
This “Ask Lifehacker” column was partially torn from the pages of my own life: back in 2002 I was debating the same thing. I was stuck in a job where I didn’t think there was much career growth for me, and I had to make the decision whether I wanted to go to grad school or stick it out in my current job and hope for the best.
I decided to go back to school, get a Master’s, and stick it out in the job at the same time – partially for tuition benefits from my employer but partially because I didn’t want to just quit my job wholesale and go back to school full time. I had an apartment I had to keep and bills I had to pay, and while the tuition assistance was great, it wasn’t everything. When I did graduate though, it was clear that my current employer at the time still didn’t have any growth opportunities for me, so I left in favor of an employer who did. Best decision of my life.
But it may not be the best decision for everyone – and that’s what I point out in the Ask Lifehacker piece: weigh your options, your pros and cons, and whether you’re actually going back to school for something that will make a difference in your career. Discuss with your family and determine whether you can pay for it or get help from your employer to pay for it. Then make your decision.
[ IRS2Go Tracks Your Tax Return from Your Phone ]
A simple little piece on a handy mobile app that – even though it has some pros and cons – allows you to track your tax return from your smartphone and get tax tips and updates from the IRS…if you actually want them. Handy!
And that does it! I’m incredibly grateful to the Lifehacker team for allowing me to guest post for them, and hope I’ll have the opportunity to do it again soon. In the meantime though, enjoy! It was a huge accomplishment for me as a writer, and hopefully it can help you out in the process.
Google had a huge announcement today: partially unveiling Android 3.0 “Honeycomb,” which we all knew was coming and were waiting for details on, and partially to show off a new, revamped Android App Market (finally with a Web-based store that can do push-installs to your Android phone, much like AppBrain can) complete with a much more unified payment system for apps that cost money.
I was sitting in the live chat for the announcement at PC Mag, who I think has wrapped up the news very nicely:
The first part of Google’s Wednesday event was dedicated to a demo of Honeycomb, its next-generation Android platform. Google showed it off at CES this year, and Hugo Barra, director of products for mobile at Google, took the stage again today for another look.
Google has revamped how users navigate on Android, with a new button dedicated solely to multi-tasking. There is a notification and systems status area on the bottom right, but the rest of the screen is dedicated entirely to apps, he said. The home screen is not just a “warehouse of apps; it’s an app development platform in itself,” he said. Widgets can be stacked for easy scrolling through things like baseball stats or YouTube videos.
“What really matters is, despite the clever computer science we have to enable the smooth experience, it’s just about quick and easy access to important information,” Barra said.
Barra showed off Honeycomb’s IM options, video chat functionality, and notifications, which he said were designed to be “completely non-intrusive.”
Barra also said Google has “spent a significant amount of effort to make sure existing Android apps run really well on tablets.” He pulled up Fruit Ninja on a Honeycomb tablet, a game he said was built before Honeycomb even existed. “It works amazingly well,” Barra said.
Coming out of the event today, it looks like Honeycomb won’t just be for tablets – it may make its way to mobile phones as well, but time will tell. [ update: Google is driving this point home. Honeycomb is for TABLETS, it is NOT FOR SMARTPHONES. ] Honeycomb looks like a complete revamp of the operating system, here’s hoping it’s a good one.
As for the updates to the Market:
At its Wednesday Honeycomb event, Google unveiled the Android Market Web Store, a Web-based version of the Android app store.
Google also announced in-app purchasing for Android apps, and new currency options for developers.
“The Android Market Web Store is basically the new way that users can get apps on their devices,” said Chris Yerga, Android engineering director for cloud services at Google.
Until today, users could only access Android Market apps via the app store client on their phone. Now, users can go to market.android.com and peruse all the available apps. It is live now.
The Android Web Store includes a carousel with promotional banners for apps, as well as familiar categories like features, top paid, and top free, Yerga said. To purchase, click the buy option and a pop-up window will appear, asking you which device on which you want to install the app. Select payment option and the Web Store will send the app directly to your mobile device.
Definitely an improvement over the hodge-podge methodology previously and the ad-hoc payment methods of the Android App Market before today, but I’m not sure if that’s saying too much considering how horrible paying for apps in the Market used to be. Still – the fact that the store is live now and ready to go is a great sign, and the push-installs are great features.
We’ll have to wait and see whether Google’s made the right set of changes to the Market to make app purchases take off. We’ll have to wait even longer to see if Honeycomb pans out to be the boon that Google hopes it will be.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the Motorola Xoom as much as the next person, but the tone they’re taking with this new piece – which points fun directly at Apple’s iconic 1984 ad and clearly calls Apple out for its closed and curated App Store and hardware policies – is a little disheartening. They do finally get past the attention-getting part and spend some time telling me what’s good about their product as opposed to what’s bad about their competition – my pet peeve in a lot of advertising – but not enough time in my opinion.
The video is reportedly a teaser for an ad that will air during the Super Bowl this coming Sunday, and I’m more interested in what that video will tell us, and in how much the Motorola Xoom will actually cost: if it’s anywhere near the reported $700 or as much as $800 that’s floating around the Web, I don’t know if any amount of fun-poking ads will be enough to really save the Xoom from itself.
But the ad is kind of cute.