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The Heart of Tomorrow’s High-Tech Cars: Smartphones

Last week, even GM’s OnStar decided to take the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach, announcing that it would start running popular smartphone apps such as the social-networking phenomenon Facebook and online music service Pandora on its connected car systems. I’m still not sure WHY?!?

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Jeffrey Sauger/General Motors

Rather than struggle to keep pace with new technology, car manufacturers are increasingly relying on smartphones to provide tech features.

While technology races ahead, gear built into cars is increasingly left in the dust. And that’s about to change: Your car is about to join the app revolution.

For years, car manufacturers have struggled to keep pace with new technology. They add old wireless connections even as faster, newer standards are introduced. They hide hard drives in headrests while larger, cheaper drives keep coming out.

Just look at GPS navigation: A new $170 portable navigation device is more accurate and has more features than the built-in $2,000 option the dealership wants to sell you. That’s because it takes years for a car to make it from the drawing board to the showroom, while new gadgets and apps appear every day.

So automakers like BMW, Ford, and GM are changing their tack. Instead of trying to stuff dashboards with the latest technology, like gigabytes of memory or dedicated computer systems, they’re designing more streamlined systems that simply connect to drivers’ smartphones. 

The idea is to rely on those devices to provide the communications

and computing power to deliver new services and features. After all, what’s more current, your iPhone or your 6-year-old SUV — which was designed before there was such a thing as Facebook, or Twitter?


Flash Defeats HTML5 in Round One by a Knockout… or so they say…

I get it, Adobe Flash is kicking HTML 5 in the butt. This is not good news for our team, who has to develop products for our clients. It’s great news for our sister company, a design team, because they get to charge double the price for double the work to come up with two versions of the same product. Personally, I long for the day when HTML 5 can raise the bar and set the standard but alas, I don’t think that day is coming… at least not anytime soon. Now, let the Apple haters take center stage… I’m ready for you!

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Developer Chris Black made this video showing how Adobe Flash and HTML5 perform head-to-head on a simple Web animation (in this case, a bouncing ball). He uses both an iPod Touch and a Google Nexus One–the latter of which is tested both on Flash and HTML5–to test frame rate and smoothness while zooming and panning.

The results are pretty interesting. Many key figures in the tech industry, most notably Steve Jobs, have forsaken Adobe Flash, mostly used for Web video and animations, in favor of the possibility of HTML5 performing those same duties more efficiently, sometime down the road. Google’s Android supports Adobe Flash, though reports on its usefulness have been mixed (most say to only use it when needed for video, otherwise load times will be painfully slow during normal use). But most people haven’t seen HTML5 in action compared head-to-head with Flash.

This video shows Flash absolutely crushing HTML5 in frames per second, as well as in its ability to continue to play the animation while zooming and panning. HTML5 is consistently several times slower in framerate, and often stops completely during a zoom, not to mention requiring far more battery life than Flash.

The caveats, well laid out by Wired, are many: HTML5 is a very early project, and probably wasn’t optimized properly for this test. Black even admits that some things, like “Gradient fonts, drop shadows, basic video and simple transitions are probably better suited for HTML5.” But his conclusion is that HTML5 won’t necessarily destroy Flash and that some applications are better suited for Flash than HTML5 (and vice versa, of course). Maybe that’s why Apple allowed Adobe back into the App Store.

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Making The Web A Better Place: Guidelines For “Green” Web Design

“What needs to be highlighted here is the fact that the richer and more interactive website experiences we are creating are not going unnoticed. The files we create to build websites are stored on servers, viewed by personal computers, and connected via networks”. This all requires energy to then house, cool, power and deliver the data that makes up a website.” So, how we go “green”?

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Dr. Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist and Environmental Fellow, has researched the environmental impact of computing and calculated the CO2 emissions caused by individual use of the internet. His research, published in 2009, indicates that viewing a simple web page generates about 20 milligrams of CO2 per second. This rises to about 300mg of CO2 a second when viewing a website with complex images, animations or videos.

“So, when you are sitting in London viewing a website hosted in California, there are power plants on at least two continents actively pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in order for you to watch that video or read that online newspaper…

Since millions of people are surfing the web every hour of every day, that carbon footprint adds up to an astounding 2% of international emissions each year. In fact, according to the American research firm Gartner, the carbon footprint of information and communications technology exceeded that of the global aviation industry for the first time in 2007.”

Now while scientific measurements of CO2 and kilowatt hours are, to the average person, still a foggy area to get our heads around, what is important to consider is simply that every website we produce has a consequence. According to figures from, as of the 31st August 2010, there are at least 15.26 billion indexed pages. A very simplistic analysis here would be that, contrary how fast my broadband service is, because we make our graphic files larger together with the fact that we are producing more web pages, any new efficiency is counteracted. As noted, this would be a very generalized conclusion to draw.

One measuring tool

Dr. Wissner-Gross has co-founded CO2Stats, an online “environmental trustmark” calculator, designed to allow web designers and bloggers make their sites greener in an accountable way. CO2Stats says that it automatically monitors and neutralizes the end-to-end carbon footprint of websites — “not just the servers, but the visitors’ computers (while they are on your site) and the networks that connect them”.

Green-Certified-Site-by-CO2Stats 12822368450051 in Making The Web A Better Place: Guidelines For Green Web Design

CO2Stats allows web designers and bloggers to analyze their websites and put in place greener measures. It monitors and neutralizes the end-to-end carbon footprint of websites.

The changing face of an average web page

Results of various web optimization studies published at in July 2010 state that:

“In 1997, 90% of videos were under 45 seconds in length (Acharya & Smith 1998). In 2005, the median video was about 120 seconds long (Li et al. 2005). By 2007, the median video was 192.6 seconds in duration (Gill et al. 2007). The median bit rate of web videos grew from 200Kbps in 2005 to 328Kbps on YouTube in 2007. So by late 2007, the median video weighed in at over 63MB in file size. On YouTube, the average video size is 10MB, with over 65,000 new videos added every day”.

The conclusion of the report is:

“Within the last five years, the size of the average web page has more than tripled, and the number of external objects (EO) has nearly doubled. While broadband users have experienced faster load times, narrowband users have been left behind. With the average web page sporting more than 50 external objects, object overhead now dominates most web page delays. Minimizing HTTP requests by using CSS sprites, combining JavaScript or CSS files, reducing the number of EOs, and converting graphic effects to CSS while still retaining attractiveness, has become the most important skill set for web performance optimizers”.


Weekly Whitepaper: How to Build the Business Case for Virtualization

This from the ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing, and

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vmwareintel.whitepaper.jpgWhat do you need to do to build a case for virtualization? It can be a cultural shift for a company to adopt virtualization. It requires different skill sets and an approach that turns a data center into a network that optimizes an infrastructure according to the principles of a shared infrastructure.

But there are steps you can take that provide executives with a clear path to return on investment.

It starts with telling a compelling story.


Google Docs Coming to iPad in “the Next Few Weeks” to Slap iWork Around

It’s time for a new laptop. My current Mac Book Pro is four years old, it is on borrowed time and it will only run for about seven hours before it starts to make the most awful sound that you do NOT want to hear coming from a computer. With that in mind, I’ve been struggling with the idea of just getting an iPad as a replacement for my MacBook. Can I get away with not having a full blown laptop? Now with Google Apps coming on board and playing nice with the iPad I’m leaning more and more towards the iPad and less and less towards a new MacBook. Thoughts?

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iPad Google DocsThe iPad is slowly moving toward full laptop capabilities. With the release of the newest firmware update, the iPad can now both print and run multiple apps at a time, two of the shortcomings most frequently cited by those wanting to use the iPad as a full laptop or netbook replacement.

Though the iPad may never be quite as able a workhorse as a laptop, Apple has done its best to bring productivity tasks to the platform with iWork. iWork is a suite of three apps, including Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheets), and Keynote (presentations), sold separately at $10 per app. The three iWork apps are consistently near the top of the iPad App Store charts and are very well regarded, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement–or competition.

Google‘s Docs web apps are widely used, from consumers to business to government, and praised for their low (or free) price, cloud-based benefits like simultaneous editing, and flexibility. Up until now, Google Docs has had a very limited presence on the iPad, allowing documents to be viewed but not edited. Today, however, Google very casually (as in, mentioned among small updates in a blog post about a European cloud-computing convention) announced that Google Docs will be coming to the iPad as well as Google’s own Android.


Bing Overtook Yahoo in Search Share but Google is still KING

Did Microsoft’s Bing just overtake Yahoo as the second-largest search engine? And after the two are integrated this fall, does that really matter?

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On the heels of a $100 million branding campaign, Bing actually overtook Yahoo in August with a 13.9% share in the U.S. search market, compared to Yahoo’s 13.1%, according to data released today by Nielsen Co. Bing gained 2% from July to August, while Yahoo lost 8%. Google gained a percentage point and rose to a 65.1% share.Read more at

YouTube Launches Live Stream

How will the launch of YouTube’s live streaming impact Ustream? Will the Flash/HTML5 battle keep me from uploading a YouTube live stream to my iPhone? These and other burning questions “As The World Turns”.

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YouTube’s tagline has always been “broadcast yourself.” Now  video site is taking that concept to another  the launch of YouTube live streaming as it looks to  upstarts like Ustream.

On Sunday (Sept. 12) YouTube kicked off a test of the new  with four partners: Howcast, Next New Networks,  Young Hollywood.

Through the end of day Monday, each will stream several live programming blocks. For example, at 10:30 PST on Monday,  will broadcast an interview with skateboarding legend Tony Hawk live from the company’s studio. Besides live video, the new streaming platform allows users to post comments in realtime.

While starting with professionally produced content, YouTube is billing its streaming platform as a way for anybody with a Webcam to become a broadcaster. It’s that open access that has driven the success of Ustream, and live-streaming outlets.

YouTube officials said that it will review the results of this weeks test, but plans are in the works to roll out live streaming to more partners.Read more at


Twitter’s new look… does it remind you of something?

Twitter has revealed it’s new design. They tweeted us (how else would we get this information) that these changes “will be rolling out over the next several weeks”. In a sneak peek into what’s to come, Twitter posted the video below to spark our interest.

I have no complaints about the new design. We’ll be able to embed photos and videos directly to Twitter from a variety of third party multimedia partnerships. Among them, some of my favorites to include Flickr, TwitPic, USTREAM and YouTube. We will also have more content details and a quicker, faster, easier way to read bios. This is all good stuff. But suddenly, Twitter is starting to remind me of the “social utility” we call Facebook.

I’m one of those rare people who love Twitter and Facebook equally. Usually you get a die hard Twitter fan and a loyal Facebook fanatic but rarely do people enjoy using both. I happen to enjoy both of them for many different reasons. I get my news, social media, technology and gadget information from Twitter. The folks I follow are very cutting edge and they keep me informed and on my toes. On Facebook, for my own page and the ones I manage for my client, it is more about community building, community involvement and the sharing of ideas, events, resources and interests. If you asked be to chose between the two I really could not do it.

Then, there are all the geo-location based apps that I suddenly can’t live without. I have at least seven on my iPhone but Foursquare is the clear front runner for me. Then, Facebook added “location” as did almost every other site that has started running towards the latest and greatest “next big thing”.

I’m starting to wonder if things will trickle down to just one social network of choice. I remember being asked this question during the interview for my current social media job. I thought to myself, “what a silly question. Of course people won’t chose between Facebook and Twitter and there will never be just one social networking site that dominates the space.” Foursquare, Gowalla and the others where not even on my radar at the time. Yelp, another favorite of mine, was just about reviews with very little “social” networking and the use of apps wasn’t as widespread as it is now. I’m talking just 18 months ago.

Now I’m starting to wonder if maybe my boss was on to something. Will we end up with just one social network that meets all of our needs? Will one of these giants knock the other out the game? I tend to think that as much as the human mind can stretch and grow there will be more sites than we can keep up with. Although, I really would like to have just one tool that will interface with all of my social networking sites. Of course, if I need it I would imagine someone is working on it as I type this. That is… after all… the mother of invention right?

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An easier, faster, and richer experience.

New design

You will now find @mentions, retweets, searches, and lists just above your timeline – creating a single, streamlined view on the left of the screen. On the right, you can see the features you’re familiar with, including whom you recently followed and who recently followed you, favorites, and Trending Topics.

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YouTube Launches Live Stream

How will the launch of YouTube’s live streaming impact Ustream? Will the Flash/HTML5 battle keep me from uploading a YouTube live stream to my iPhone? These and other burning questions “As The World Turns”.

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YouTube’s tagline has always been “broadcast yourself.” Now the
Google-owned video site is taking that concept to another level
with the launch of YouTube live streaming as it looks to compete
with upstarts like Ustream.

On Sunday (Sept. 12) YouTube kicked off a test of the new live
platform with four partners: Howcast, Next New Networks, Rocketboom
and Young Hollywood.

Through the end of day Monday, each will stream several live
programming blocks. For example, at 10:30 PST on Monday, Young
Hollywood will broadcast an interview with skateboarding legend
Tony Hawk live from the company’s studio. Besides live video, the
new streaming platform allows users to post comments in real

While starting with professionally produced content, YouTube is
billing its streaming platform as a way for anybody with a Webcam
to become a broadcaster. It’s that open access that has driven the
success of Ustream, and live-streaming outlets.

YouTube officials said that it will review the results of this
weeks test, but plans are in the works to roll out live streaming
to more partners.


Facebook Integration Coming To GM’s OnStar

Can someone please tell me WHY we would want to incorporate social networking into our cars? General Motors’ OnStar communications business will begin this month to offer in-car connections allowing subscribers “the chance to have their Facebook and text messages read to them. Users will also be able to text and update their Facebook accounts through voice commands.” As if drivers aren’t distracted enough now we want to tempt them with social networking while on the road? Really?!?

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It’s safe to say we’ve reached the pinnacle of humanity with this next bit of news: you’ll soon be able to update your Facebook status using OnStar. It’s the first “entertainment-y” option to be offered by OnStar, perhaps designed to cash in on some of the goodwill that has gone Ford’s way with its Sync system.

Read the rest of this entry »


And in more Google World Domination news – Google taps State Dept. vet for Google Ideas

Google plans to launch a new policy organization called Google Ideas, which appears to be a Google-ish take on the think tank.

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Jared Cohen (left), formerly a member of the State Department's Policy Planning staff, is joining Google to lead a new think tank called Google Ideas.

Jared Cohen (left), formerly a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff, is joining Google to lead a new think tank called Google Ideas.


Center for American Progress on Flickr

Jared Cohen, who until recently was employed by the U.S. Department of State, will lead the new division of Google starting in mid-October, he said in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine tweeted by Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Cohen has been known as a digital guru for the State Department, helping focus attention within the government on emerging social-media technologies like YouTube and Twitter.

Google Ideas will examine a wide range of issues, according to Cohen: “… the range of challenges that it may focus on include everything from the sort of hard challenges like counterterrorism, counterradicalization, and nonproliferation, to some of the ones people might expect it to focus on, like development and citizen empowerment.” Cohen is calling this a “think/do tank” in the sense that Google Ideas will attempt to put some of the concepts it generates into action by working with government and third-party organizations.

Google already operates as an idea factory for topics a little outside of its core business, such as Google PowerMeter and Google Flu Trends. And Schmidt is a member of the Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, which provides advice on technology issues to President Obama.

Google and the State Department bonded earlier this year over Google’s dispute with China over censored search results, leading to a policy speech on Internet freedom by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that invoked Google on several occasions. Last year, Cohen was said to be behind the government request that Twitter delay scheduled maintenance during a critical period for street protests in Iran.



Apple-Facebook Friction Erupts Over Ping

As if Steve Jobs fights with Adobe Flash aren’t enough, now he’s in the ring doing the tango with Facebook. This time regarding Ping, his music social networking site.

I joined Ping last week after I sat in on the much anticipated live, world-wide Apple press conference. I am not happy with it because I find it to be… well… not very social. I have NO ONE checking me our or my music. At this point you can color me red hot. I LOVE music and I LOVE sharing my tastes with others so you know I’m just a little salty about this. Meanwhile, I see some Ping members with over 30,000 followers already and they aren’t even musicians, I mean really… it’s been less than a week and 30K followers already… how can this be… where are my people? But I digress…

I joined Ping because I wanted to commune with my fellow music lovers. I signed up and then waited for the thousands of people Jobs said would be flocking to my side out of the 160 million iTunes users. You know what I got? Not one single person following me. Wait, that’s not true… ONE person is following but he hasn’t engaged with me and we don’t share the same share the same tastes in music so there you go.

Could it be that Apple really needs the Facebook interface? Will I have better luck out of a pool of 500 million users rather than a mere 160 mill? Or, will Goggle and Facebook continue to join forces in an strange sort of combined power play to push Apple and Ping out of the way for good. Will Johnny get Adobe Flash on his iTouch? Will Sally be able to share her songs from Ping on her Facebook page? Will Danielle get any followers on Ping? These and other important questions will be addressed next week on “As the Social Network Turns”.

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If it is true that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, then Apple and Facebook ought to be friends. Their common enemy, of course, is Google.

But Apple’s entry into social networking with the iTunes music social network Ping on Wednesday, has made them frenemies (or friend-enemies). And like with all frenemies, issues need to be worked out.

After introducing Ping on Wednesday, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, was asked why Apple built its own social network, rather than, say, build services on top of Facebook, as other music sites have done. Mr. Jobs, who was strolling around a demo room where reporters could try Apple’s new products, said that Apple considered that and held discussions with Facebook, but that the social networking company’s terms were “onerous.”

Still, Apple used some of Facebook open programming interfaces to allow users to find their Facebook friends on Ping. But that stopped working on Thursday.

Why? Facebook blocked Apple from that because Ping had the potential to send so much traffic Facebook’s way and cause “site stability” and “infrastructure” problems, according to people familiar with the situation, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity because they did not want the friction between the companies to escalate. Facebook insists that businesses that send a lot of traffic to its servers first work with the company to make sure those problems can be handled smoothly, these people said.

In a statement, Facebook said: “We’re working with Apple to resolve this issue. We’ve worked together successfully in the past, and we look forward to doing so in the future.” Facebook did not specify what the “issue” was.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

ITunes has 160 million users, according to Apple. But since only a small fraction of those users have enrolled in Ping, it is not clear how Apple could have exceeded Facebook’s limits for traffic. In its Developer Principles, Facebook says that developers who exceed 100 million calls every day must contact the company because they may be subject to additional contract terms.

It is also not clear why Facebook did not call Apple to resolve the issue before it pulled the plug on Ping connections.

In the meantime, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has been testing Apple’s social network, opening his own account on Ping. So has another Mark Zuckerberg, whose profile says “It’s true, I invented Facebook.” One of them is fake. From the looks of it, the one that doesn’t have a picture and doesn’t boast of having invented Facebook is the real one, as that user is connected to at least one other Facebook executive, Bret Taylor. Mr. “I invented Facebook” appears to have no connections to other Facebook execs.