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Android-based Ouya game console shipping soon

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Friday 30 November 2012 7:19 pm

Early birds get their hands on Ouya after December 28.


(Credit:
Ouya)

Let the gamers,
Android nuts, and open-source geeks rejoice — the Ouya is shipping on time!

Well, at least the developers’ consoles are, that is. Ouya first garnered attention by raising more than $8.5 million on Kickstarter this summer to create an inexpensive, open-source, Android-based game system.

Early supporters of the crowdfunding campaign got first dibs on a finished Ouya for as little as $95, but those aren’t scheduled to ship until March. However, the hundreds of folks who ponied up $699 or more for a first-run, rooted developers’ system with early SDK access get to experience Christmas twice in the same week when their consoles ship on December 28.

If creators of the Ouya do fulfill their original commitment to ship the dev kits in December, they’ll deserve kudos. Plenty of other Kickstarter-funded projects have run into snags meeting original timelines and commitments — the Pebble watch is now months late on its original ship date and still working out production issues, for example.

Ouya points out that all consoles will actually be dev kits, but the late December batch is a special group that cost more to produce and give big early backers a first crack at working with the platform. The only catch for developers is that at least some part of the game play has to be available for free, be it a demo or the whole shebang.

Ouya is also working on its own ODK (Ouya development kit) that game designers will be able to access. At the same time, Ouya says it’s been busy optimizing Android Jelly Bean for gameplay on a large screen.

If Ouya takes off, 2013 could be a year in which a certain segment of the population gets even less exposure to the sun than in the past.

If you missed out on the first Ouya rush, there’s still a chance to get in on the ground floor noob level. Ouya is giving away 10 developers’ consoles next month.

Top 5 Spotify Apps For Music Discovery

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Friday 30 November 2012 1:01 pm
Top 5 Spotify Apps For Music Discovery

Spotify wasn’t built for discovery. The Swedish music streaming company realizes this and instead of trying to natively bake a zillion features into its service, it launched a platform for third party developers about a year ago. 

Spotify’s app directory now features almost 60 HTML5-based add-ons for the service’s desktop client. These apps perform a lot of different functions – some are social, while others sonically augment album reviews from big name publishers. The thing for which they’re probably most useful is discovering music you might like but may never have heard otherwise.



1. Moodagent

Since launching on Spotify last year, Moodagent has been one of the most interesting apps on the platform. That’s because it takes standard algorithmic music recommendations and beefs them up with emotional intelligence. 

There are at least a dozen apps that let you build a playlist based on related artists, but Moodagent factors in the mood of each song to build out something that feels more consistent. The options look broad, but are surprisingly powerful. A playlist can be sensual, angry, happy, tender or some combination of all four. You can even base them on tempo, playing back a series of similarly paced songs. Tie these characteristics to the same kind of artist-to-artist matching algorithm that fuels so many other music-discovery apps, and you have a uniquely intelligent system for finding new music. 



2. Last.fm

Last.fm has been around for a decade now, but the Internet radio and music recommendation service is still a reliable tool for discovering new artists. It works by keeping track of everything you listen to and using a Pandora-style algorithm to recommend related artists and albums. It’s a simple concept, but one that apparently holds up quite well over time. 

Existing users of Last.fm will feel right at home in its Spotify app, which more or less frames a slightly modified version of the service’s usual interface into Spotify’s desktop client. The results occasionally need to be tweaked, but on the whole the recommendations are pretty solid. A few albums in my own physical record collection landed there thanks to Last.fm’s ability to turn up hidden gems.  



3. Swarm.fm

Oh great, another social music-discovery app. Ho-hum.

Actually, Swarm.fm is pretty useful. It uses data from Facebook to show you what music your friends are listening to, even if they’re not signed up for Swarm.fm. If they are, that data becomes much more detailed and easily explored. Swarm.fm will also let you know if any artists in your own collection have new releases, which is far more relevant than the new releases coughed up by Spotify itself. 

That tag cloud on the home tab might look like just another collection of metadata, but it’s actually informed by your social music data. I listen to a number of artists who don the tag “space rock” – and when I click that tag, it shows me dozens of similar bands. I can then sort those artists by popularity and what’s trending on Swarm.fm, which is a good way to pinpoint worthwhile listens.



4. ShareMyPlaylists

When I first opened ShareMyPlaylists, I thought “Oh, this is looks fairly generic.” Alternative, Classical, Blues, Dance. One-size-fits-all playlists.

I was wrong. 

When you scroll down, you see a wide variety of very specific playlists: Beatles covers, the songs sampled by Nas and music from Quentin Tarantino films, songs featuring Moog synthesizers. It’s a random conglomeration of curated listening experiences, but one that is well worth browsing. 

ShareMyPlaylists has something for absolutely everyone. Devotees of popular music from the charts can browse the “Top 50” tab while those with more under-the-radar tastes will find plenty of new stuff under the “Recommended” tab, which finds playlists based on the artists you listen to the most. If nothing in either section suits your mood, you can always run a search or use the app’s built-in playlist generator. 



5. The Hype Machine

It’s been a wildly popular MP3 aggregator on the Web for years, so it only makes sense that The Hype Machine would find its way into Spotify’s app store. It’s right at home on top of the streaming service’s massive library of music. 

The Hype Machine eschews the complex algorithm in favor of human-curated playlists. Specifically, it aggregates tracks from popular music blogs across a wide range of genres, each of them very heavily populated. Dream Pop, for example, isn’t exactly a top 40 genre of music, but the Hype Machine pulls together no fewer than 100 different blogs classified as such. It’s loaded with music, all hand-selected by Internet tastemakers and guaranteed to introduce you to something you haven’t heard before. 

A Growing Universe Of Music Discovery Apps

Narrowing this list to just five selections wasn’t easy. There are plenty of discovery apps on Spotify worth checking out – top charts from We Are Hunted and Billboard and social music from TweetVine, Soundrop and Sifter. Depending on your tastes, the critic-curated recommendations from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, NME or KCRW can be invaluable. 

It’s also worth mentioning that the new, supposedly Pandora-killing Spotify Radio feature is worth playing with. Its Echo Nest-powered recommendations are not quite as granular and effective as Pandora’s, but they’re quite good. Not only can you create a station based on any album or artist, but you can build one off of an entire playlist. This is pretty powerful. For instance, if you’ve starred a lot of music on Spotify, you can build a radio station based solely on those favorites. 

Here’s another Spotify Radio trick: The Last.fm app will let you generate a Spotify a playlist based on your dozen or so most-played  albums of all time. You can then start a Spotify radio station based on that playlist, which is sure to contain a few tracks you’ll love, but have never heard before. And isn’t that the point of music discovery?

Will Mozilla Firefox 20 Fix Private Browsing?

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Friday 30 November 2012 6:51 am

firefoxFrom the ‘Enhanced Porn Mode’ files:

All the way back in 2008, Mozilla brought Private Mode (aka Porn Mode) to Firefox 3.1. Over the last four years, not a whole lot has changed in Firefox’s implementation of private mode, but that might change with Firefox 20 in 2013.

Currently when a user enters Private Mode, a new browser window spins up in Firefox (it works the same for Google Chrome’s Incognito mode). The problem with Firefox is that the Private Browsing mode can only operate with the one Private window – that is users cannot concurrently have a regular Firefox window and a Private Browsing Firefox Window open at the same time.

Firefox 20 could change that model (maybe)

There is a ‘bug’that has been in Mozilla Bugzilla since November of 2008 to fix the issue. It’s a bug that has also had some ‘heated’ discussion.

“Keeping a highly frustrating bug like this around for nearly four years has certainly caused some users to switch to Chrome,” one bugzilla commenter wrote.

On a positive note, this week I noticed at least 8 code checkins on Mozilla Central for Private Tab features on Firefox for Android. It looks to me like this is work that would likely show up as Firefox 20, though it’s unclear exactly how and if that would finally actually fix the private browsing bug – but I am hopeful and I have seen some chatter that makes me think that this bug might finally be squashed in 2013.

 

**UPDATE** Experimental builds are now available with the Private Browsing fix!!

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Zynga shares down 6 percent after Facebook deal amendment

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Friday 30 November 2012 12:40 am

Zynga, the embattled social-gaming company, has watched its shares fall as investors get the first chance to react to a modified contract the company signed with Facebook.

According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday, the amended agreement between the companies no longer requires Zynga to display Facebook ads on its site, use Facebook Credits, or develop titles only for the social network’s platform. In exchange, Zynga won’t be allowed to promote its games inside other titles it has developed that people are playing on the social network.

The news was apparently bad news for investors. Zynga’s shares are currently down 6.5 percent to $2.45. That share price is up compared to its 52-week low of $2.09, but far off from Zynga’s 52-week high of $15.91.

In its last quarterly earnings report, Zynga revealed that it generated 80 percent of its revenue from Facebook. Although neither Facebook nor Zynga would say how the modified deal might impact revenue, investors ostensibly believe that Zynga will get hit hard in the modified arrangement.

Still, Zynga, which has watched its financial performance dwindle as it’s trying to refocus its operation on mobile and partnerships with third-party developers, is still offering some of the most popular games on Facebook. A modified agreement between the companies likely won’t stop a committed CityVille player from continuing to play that game on the social network. The loss of the ability to draw those players to other Zynga games through cross-promotion, however, could prove troublesome.

To allay fears, Zynga Chief Revenue Officer Barry Cottle yesterday issued a statement on the amended agreement, saying that the deal will help Zynga achieve its overarching goals.

“Our amended agreement with Facebook continues our long and successful partnership while also allowing us the flexibility to ensure the universal availability of our products and services,” Cottle said.

The Anti-SMS: Kik Texting App Adds Image/Video Sharing

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Thursday 29 November 2012 6:33 pm
The Anti-SMS: Kik Texting App Adds Image/Video Sharing

Hey, wanna Kik me?

No?

Well, I wasn’t aware that Kik had been verbified either – but it’s no surprise. The dead-simple messaging app is nothing short of a runaway hit among the text-crazed, sociallysavvy younger set. And with SMS text messaging on the decline for the first time ever, non-SMS alternatives like Kik are soaring. To put that in perspective, over the last few months, Kik has added 100,000 new users – per day. Kik is now 30 million Kiksters strong – with no signs of slowing down.

New Kinds Of Content To Swap

On Thursday, Kik expanded the kind of content users can share on the service. Up till now, the service was just a method of texting without incurring SMS charges. With the update, Kik now lets its massive user base send three new types of content – but that’s just the pilot set. Kik founder Ted Livingston envisions the app as a platform for instantly sharing content – any kind of content – plain and simple.

In a Skype interview, Livingston’s casual enthusiasm for his product belied both his precocity (he is 24) and his earnest commitment to maintaining the general, shall we say awesomeness, of his product. “We haven’t really added any user-facing feature since South by Southwest 2011. And the reason why is like, we looked at our app; for us, this is exactly what we want. We want it to be very clean, we want it to be simple, we want it to be this very raw messenger.”

Keep It Simple, Kik

Livingston insisted on developing the new release at a snail’s pace to keep from wrecking the service’s essential simplicity. The update handles this dilemma cleverly, offering two branching paths: keep using Kik as is, or swipe to the left and access the new feature set.

The new Kik launches with Image Search, YouTube and Sketch, a Draw Something-esque option that lets users swap digital doodles. The app conjures the new content offerings as “Cards,” designed to slide to the fore and be hidden just as easily. Kik’s Cards are built entirely in HTML5 and woven into Kik’s existing native mobile platforms. The result is a surprisingly smooth kind of optional upgrade, so users loyal to text-exclusive Kik can ignore the new stuff altogether.  “If you just want the core experience, it stays exactly the same,” Livingston says. “We watched like a lot of other apps add all these features and try to innovate, just to rip out all the features 18 months later – and sort of alienate their user base along the way. 


Kik’s appeal is easy to see. The messenger is simple by design, accessible on every platform imaginable (even BlackBerry, how kind!) and user handles aren’t linked to a phone number. According to Livingston, Kik is the perfect unifier. While SMS alternatives like iMessage are platform specific (no iOS or OS X? no iMessage), Kik is universal and not linked to anything like an Apple ID. Just pick a handle, hand it out and Kik somebody.

It’s All Free – For Now

So far, Kik really isn’t all about the Benjamins. With $8 million in funding tucked away, Livingston declines to litter ads throughout the app, and dismisses premium models as arbitrarily holding features hostage to turn a buck. “We make zero dollars of revenue today,” says Livingston, who explains that the newly multimedia-rich Cards could also be Kik’s ticket to profitability – though that bit hasn’t quite been hammered out yet. 

One of the most interesting things about the messaging app, is that Kik has actually crept onto other social platforms. A search for #kik on Instagram yields more than 4 million results, and that’s just the tip of the hashtag iceberg. Hybrid Instagram/Kiksters – most of them teens posing for their front-facing cameras – generously sprinkle tags like #kikme #kikback and even #kikmeimbored into their photo posts, inviting adds on the messaging platform. 

Joining Kik, I thought my 20-something cohort might be better represented among those 30 million users, but Livingston remains my only friend on the app. It’ll be interesting to see where Kik’s enthusiastic, duck-faced users steer the social chat app next. 

Global Carrier Switch and Router Market Declines

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Thursday 29 November 2012 12:23 pm

According to the 3Q12 Service Provider Routers and Switches report, from Infonetics Research, revenues for carrier routers and switch is also on the down swing.

Infonetics reported that global service provider router and switch market came in at almost $3.4 billion for the third quarter of 2012, for a 5 percent year-over-year decline.

In terms of vendors, Cisco remains in the top spot, followed by Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei.

Read the full story at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet:
WAN Optimization and ADC Markets Decline in 3Q12

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Syria goes dark

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Thursday 29 November 2012 6:18 am

Early this morning Syria went offline.

Some more scary news is coming out of Syria early this morning. Apparently the entire country has gone dark, completely vanishing from the Internet over the course of just a few minutes. According to Renesys, a company that operates a real-time Internet monitoring grid, all of Syria’s IP connectivity has become unreachable.

Today Google has announced the acquisition of Incentive Targeting, a maker of coupon programs that tailor to users behaviors and likes. The company has worked with retailers to design trackable coupons that help gauge their performance and usefulness.

CNET has a review of the Jawbone Up going live today. If you don’t know, the Jawbone Up is a health-monitoring electronic bracelet from the earpiece and speaker manufacturer Jawbone. The e-jewelery hooks up to a mobile app and can track your heart rate, sleeping patterns, among other things.

After a bit of a delay, apple is finally pushing out iTunes 11, which features a redesign for the music player/store. Apple is touting iTunes 11 as an easier program to use with its new “up next” song feature, revamped mini player and simpler search functionality. We’ll have a full review of iTunes 11 soon.

And finally, be sure to take part in the CNET 100 contest where by nominating your favorite tech of 2012 can win you $5000. For the full rules head on over to cnet.com/100.

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Fantastical Fixes The iPhone’s Calendar

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Thursday 29 November 2012 12:04 am
Fantastical Fixes The iPhone's Calendar

Smartphones are still kind of dumb. Even for features as essential as the calendar, built-in apps usually deliver the bare minimum instead of nailing the experience. That’s why there’s Fantastical for iPhone from Flexibits, which came out Thursday.



Fantastical is something I have used constantly since the Mac version debuted in 2011, and the iPhone app is superb. Its main feature is the ability to type in events in plain English (or French, German, Italian or Spanish), like “go to the thing at 6 on Thursday,” and have the app translate it into an event on your calendar with the right description, date, time and everything.

There are no time spinners or drop-down menus or fiddly controls. Just describe the event the way it is in your head, and it shows up on your calendar.

Fantastical for iPhone also has the best mobile calendar view that I’ve ever seen. The default view shows a ticker of the past and next two days with today in the center, and there are dots on days where you have events. Below, your upcoming events are listed in chronological order. You can scroll up and down in that list, and the ticker above ticks along accordingly. You can always tap the title bar to return to today.

If you swipe down, it switches to a month calendar, with today’s events displayed below. Swipe down again to return to the ticker. I find that kind of confusing — seems like swiping back up should return to the first view — but it’s still very convenient.


How Fantastical For iPhone Was Made

“We’ve always been thinking about the iPhone,” says Michael Simmons of Flexibits. “We’ve always wanted to do an iPhone version, but we never had something that let us say, ‘This is right. This is going to solve the problem.'” Until May, that is, when Kent Sutherland, the other half of Flexibits, came up with the DayTicker concept.

The Flexibits team was working on a new contacts app for the Mac at the time (teaser screenshots), and they actually put that on hold to build Fantastical for iPhone. It took less than six months.

“For us, Fantastical as an application isn’t about whether it’s a Mac app or an iPhone app,” Simmons says. “It’s about solving a problem with calendaring.” You can enter the event as a single stream of words; it even interprets shortcut words like “lunch” as meaning Noon. The natural language input makes life much easier on screens both big and small.

But phone typing is easier to fumble, so Simmons points to the built-in speech-to-text features of the iPhones 4S and 5 as an even easier way to add events. It’s faster than the interaction with Siri, since it doesn’t have to talk back to you, and having the rest of your calendar at a glance is a much more useful context.

Fantastical for iPhone is available Thursday for $1.99. It will be $3.99 when the launch sale ends.

Alcatel-Lucent Delivers SDN with REST

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Wednesday 28 November 2012 6:03 pm

Alcatel-Lucent this week unveiled its SDN strategy, expanding on the company’s existing Application Fluency approach to intelligent application aware networks.

Cliff Grossner, Senior Director, Networks Solutions Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent explained to EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet that to date there has been a lot of hype around SDN in general. He added that the Alcatel-Lucent SDN strategy is all about taking a practical approach for the enterprise

“We saw all the hype and confusion around SDN and we felt that there was a need to be the voice of reason of what is practical to the enterprise, while all the others focus on big grandiose ideas,” Grossner said.

Instead of focusing on OpenFlow as a protocol to enable network control and programmability, Alcatel-Lucent’s SDN strategy begins with adding RESTful interface to its OmniSwitch switches. On top of that the plan is to have controller functionality as well, as service orchestration that is vendor agnostic across an enterprise networking infrastructure.

Read the full story at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet:
Alcatel Lucent Outlines Enterprise SDN Strategy

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Alcatel-Lucent Delivers SDN with REST

Posted by eXactBot Hosting | News | Wednesday 28 November 2012 6:03 pm

Alcatel-Lucent this week unveiled its SDN strategy, expanding on the company’s existing Application Fluency approach to intelligent application aware networks.

Cliff Grossner, Senior Director, Networks Solutions Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent explained to EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet that to date there has been a lot of hype around SDN in general. He added that the Alcatel-Lucent SDN strategy is all about taking a practical approach for the enterprise

“We saw all the hype and confusion around SDN and we felt that there was a need to be the voice of reason of what is practical to the enterprise, while all the others focus on big grandiose ideas,” Grossner said.

Instead of focusing on OpenFlow as a protocol to enable network control and programmability, Alcatel-Lucent’s SDN strategy begins with adding RESTful interface to its OmniSwitch switches. On top of that the plan is to have controller functionality as well, as service orchestration that is vendor agnostic across an enterprise networking infrastructure.

Read the full story at EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet:
Alcatel Lucent Outlines Enterprise SDN Strategy

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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