Thrillist, a NYC-based e-mail list that features everything from bar picks to gadgets, has tipped us off to some pretty cool webware recently. (The site currently operates "everywhere," NYC, and LA versions with San Francisco coming soon.) They do, however, tend to be targeted toward Thrillist's key demographic of party-ready slackers. Like this one, for example: Do My Stuff. It's a way for you to find people to, well, do your stuff: lawn mowing, house painting, moving, posing for photographs (ahem), you name it.
This morning, SplashCast, the media syndication service, is launching MyPodcastNetwork, a new feature that lets users create a single player to aggregate and play audio and video content via RSS feeds. If you're a podcast listener, you might already be using an aggregation service such as iTunes or Odeo to pull in your favorite shows. What's neat about doing this on SplashCast is that you can mix it in with other audio, video, and pictures in one big mashup, then share your creation with others by embedding it on blogs or social networking profiles.
To find podcast or … 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.
Google long has been known to be a user of the open-source MySQL database software, but the search powerhouse this week published its own changes to the project.
"We think MySQL is a fantastic data storage solution, and as our projects push the requirements for the database in certain areas, we've made changes to enhance MySQL itself, mainly in the areas of high availability and manageability," Google software engineer Mark Callaghan said on the company's Google Code blog on Monday.
High availability refers to the idea of keeping computing services working even if the server they'… Read more
The much-anticipated Digg-like news service from MySpace launched early this morning. The front page combines popular stories from the service's 24 categories and a user-democratized voting system for promotion and demotion. Stories are pulled from various sources by using technology from Newroo, an aggregation service MySpace acquired last year.
The voting system isn't based on simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down, as on Digg, Netscape, and Reddit. Instead, MySpace News uses a five-star rating system, with "loved it" and "hated it" on opposite ends of the spectrum.
MySpace News also features a local events section for 12 major cities. We tried out the San Francisco page, and there were a number of events listed, but no dates or locations for them, just small text summaries.
Any time you click on a story, MySpace will redirect you to the site where the story resides, and add a small navigation pane to bring you back to MySpace (like Netscape did when it launched its community news site). The navigation pane has a rating tool, a listing of three related stories, and a link to the story's URL to send to friends. Interestingly enough, MySpace will take over the site's URL and give it a news.myspace.com designation, so if you send that link to friends, the MySpace News branding will come with it. Very sneaky.
Tuite a few things are missing from MySpace News. The first is integration with MySpace proper. There's no way to show which stories you've been rating (or reading) on your MySpace profile. Likewise, you can't see what your friends have been up to, something that is critical for a social network. There's also no way to submit stories. According to the FAQ, this will be added later down the road. For now, stories are fed to the service from blogs or Web sites and put into a pool to be picked up by users. Finally, there's no way to discuss stories that are on the service.
In other words, almost all the features that make Digg worth coming back to are missing from MySpace News. While the service will likely flourish because of its built-in user base of MySpace millions, it hasn't been built from the start to let its users take the reins beyond just clicking buttons. It's a very thin social news experience.
For more screenshots, keep reading.
A test version of MySpace News is expected to launch Thursday and will debut with some of the same features offered by the top news-aggregation sites.
Click here to read more.
YouTube has announced a new series on content for political candidates, called Spotlight. Candidates will be able to ask the YouTube community a question and monitor comments and video responses sent in from users. They'll then get a chance to respond to the group discussion later in the week. The goal is to provide an open forum for users to know candidates a little better, and for people to ask questions directly--an option that's historically been out of reach (outside members of the press or those involved in campaign events). The project is also taking advantage of a … Read more
This morning, MySpace quietly blocked Photobucket content from user profiles, a move that cuts out a reported 25 to 30 percent of Photobucket's 17 million monthly users from sharing content on the popular social network. Photo slide shows and video embeds are completely blocked, including those edited using the remix tool we covered in March.
The move came under the guise of Photobucket users posting ad content in their embeds, a move that's expressly forbidden in MySpace's user agreement. Previous MySpace blocks include Stickam, Revver and Imeem.
The big question is what major service MySpace will decide … Read more
MySpace quietly launched Trailer Park this morning, a new area showcasing trailers for upcoming movies. All videos are played on the in-house MySpace player and can be embedded on member pages. Trailer Park is launching with five trailers from Lionsgate, Warner Bros., Independent, and Buena Vista Pictures.
The page is designed to feel like a member's profile, with forums, a friends list, and a comment board. The dearth of actual content about a movie (actors, ratings, and so on) can be found at the movie's marketing site, which gets its own link alongside the trailer.
Unfortunately, from the … Read more