I'm a big fan of Google Earth and have been known to spend hours just cruising around the globe. But now I fear I'll spend even more online aerial time with my recent discovery of one of the coolest Web apps in the universe. You've probably heard of Web sites like FboWeb and FlightAware that allow you to track the position of an airline flight and see data like the plane's speed and altitude. While that's cool enough by itself, the map is a boring two-dimensional graphic that shows little beyond state boundaries and the … Read more
"Yachting season is in full swing. Owning a luxury yacht CAN be a reality for small to mid-sized businesses."
That's from The Moorings, which now sells fractional shares in yachts. You know, like those fractional business jet companies, but even harder to justify to shareholders and funders... unless they're in on the scam, too.
And what yacht would be complete without...
"Brondell Inc., the nation's leading developer of advanced toilet seats, today [April 17] announced the official consumer launch and availability of their deodorizing Breeza toilet seat line."
Newsvine, an increasingly popular news aggregation and community content publishing site, re-launched yesterday, re-branding its front page as a single page aggregator. Users can now add and re-order content modules such as weather, sports tickers, and photo slide shows. They can also add RSS feeds from external Web sites (like ours). According to the team's blog post, the addition of modules was the most commonly requested feature by users.
Universal phone service company Grand Central (review) released last night a version of its browser-based control panel designed for mobile phones. It gives you access to your Grand Central voice mail and can connect you to people in your Grand Central address book as well.
Grand Central does its magic via the Web, not through a downloadable app on your phone, which makes the service a bit of a hack on a mobile. When you want to play a voice mail, you have to download an MP3, which on all the phones I know of will bring up a separate … Read more
Microsoft showed off one of its famous videos at this morning's keynote speech at the Gartner IT Expo conference in San Francisco. Eric Horvitz, principal researcher at Microsoft Research rolled a clip of some gesture recognition technology that looked like something out of Minority Report.
One of the coolest uses for this was maneuvering around Microsoft Virtual Earth using your hands. Microsoft showed off two methods, the first using a projector that gleams down on a tabletop. Using your hands, you can pull the map around and zoom in and out by pinching, in a similar fashion to what … Read more
When looking for a new spot to eat or shop, I tend to turn to Yelp (controversy aside) more than to other business rating sites. But I could be missing crucial comments made by someone outside of Yelp.
Happily, I just checked out a cool service that displays ratings from around the Web at a single glance. The browser add-on Palore aggregates business reviews from a variety of Web sites and displays them next to Google and Yahoo's local search results in Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Currently Palore has data for some 2.4 million businesses in big cities … Read more
Flektor is a new Flash-based content mashup tool. Users can pull in photos from several hosting services like flickr, MySpace, and Photobucket to make slick-looking, embeddable media slide shows for blogs, Web sites or social networks. It's a lot like Mixercast, and other media mashup services like RockYou and SplashCast.
Flektor's interface is drag-and-drop, and has a very short learning curve. To add media to your show, just drag imported media files down to a timeline at the bottom of the screen, where they can be rearranged or removed at any time. There are also "Flidgets" which can be inserted into your show to add live chat, a live broadcast from your Webcam, or cliched film effects like color bars or static. What's really neat is the ability to edit any picture with some easy-to-use sliders that let you do simple, on-the-fly alterations to your photographs--something you'd find on a Web-based photo editing tool like Picnik.
To add a little flair to your show, there are nearly 100 transitions, effects, and filters that can be put on top of or in between your media. You can also edit each effect and change its appearance. Out of the many transitions I've seen on some of these Flash editors (Photobucket's Remix in particular), Flektor has some really snappy and good-looking effects.
The main hindrance in using Flektor is how long it takes to communicate with the third-party services. Flickr in particular takes quite a while to sync up photos from various albums. On the upside, the MySpace integration is very simple; just give it a username and it will pull up photos members have uploaded in addition to any images that have been embedded in user comments. It's also easy to embed your Flektor player on a number of services, with a handy export page that provides special embedding codes for a dozen services (including Google's Orkut).
I've embedded a sample "Flek" I put together using some photo and video clips. For screenshots of the editing interface, keep reading.
I tried livestreaming a panel I was participating in last night using ComVu's new (and not yet public) Windows streaming service. I think it was a technical success--the stream worked, but the software gave me neither viewer numbers nor a way to chat with people. Slightly disappointed in the lack of feedback, I sat down with ComVu CEO William Mutual this morning to learn more about the company and its products.
While Mutual vaguely acknowledged that he plans to add user interactivity (chat) to his service, he doesn't think his product should be lumped in with the current … Read more
General Motors and MapQuest have teamed up on a new service enabling drivers of GM's OnStar-enabled cars to use the Web to select and store destinations for their turn-by-turn guidance when out on the road. The new service, called OnStar Web Destination Entry, will allow drivers to find up to five destinations on MapQuest's Web site, then send them to the OnStar system directly from their computers.
The theory goes that these destinations can then be accessed while out on the road by connecting to the OnStar service center and selecting a stored destination via OnStar's automated … Read more
There's another livestream technology company out there, competing with UStream, Kyte.tv (review), and Veodia (review). ComVu's PocketCaster. I tried the mobile version of it yesterday, and it didn't work on my Cingular Blackjack, but the company has a desktop Windows version that I'll be experimenting with tonight at a panel I'm sitting on, at VC Taskforce event called, "Meet the Press."
Technology willing, I'll be live from 7:00pm to 8:30pm Pacific time tonight, April 24.
PocketCaster doesn't have a chat function, … Read more