Charitable causes are getting hit hard these days, but the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, formed by the eponymous Microsoft founder and his wife, announced Thursday the donation of nearly $14 million. About half, or $6.9 million, is going to two U.S. organizations promoting broadband connectivity, and another $7 million has been awarded to fight a parasitic illness that threatens millions of people in developing countries.
VoIP service Jaxtr has a new feature called FreeConnect that lets users make free international phone calls. It works by having both parties call in to local access numbers, then connecting the call via VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol).
There is one large caveat here, and that is both members must be registered users of Jaxtr, otherwise the caller must dole out some real world money for "Jax," which are credits that can be used for calling out to phones. Using this system the person on the other end doesn't have to deal with the fuss of … Read more
Universal comment add-on system Disqus is the latest company to pledge allegiance to Facebook's Connect platform. Users will soon be able log in to comment on Disqus-powered blog posts with their Facebook ID. Meanwhile these comments can be pushed back to the user's Facebook news feed, completing the circle.
This is a big deal for blog owners who may feel a little finicky about going through with a full Facebook Connect install on their blog. Considering the main point of registration often comes when users want to dip into a discussion this was the next logical step for … Read more
These data portability announcements keep rolling on: On Monday, Google announced that its Google Friend Connect product, which plugs social-networking features into participating sites, is now compatible with Twitter.
So what does this mean? Well, if you go to a site that uses Google Friend Connect, you can opt to use your Twitter credentials to log in to it. Then, as the official Google blog explained, you can then find which of your other Twitter friends are using the same site. Also, you can send out a "tweet" announcing that you've joined up.
Twitter was one of … Read more
The marketing push for Facebook Connect, the social network's new data-portability project, goes on. Their angle: It's really easy to install on any site or blog.
A post on Facebook's developer blog contains a video that explains the most basic way to integrate Facebook Connect. The just-under-ten-minute video is the first of several instructional pieces, Facebook engineers said.
Focusing on ease of use is particularly important as Facebook attempts to win over site owners and publishers. There are other data-portability options out there, like OpenID and the just-launched MySpaceID, and Facebook's best bet is to convince … Read more
I've just been informed by the engineering team here that we have completed integration of the Facebook Connect log-in system with CNET. Now, when you want to comment on a blog post on a CNET site, or add a user review, you can log in with your Facebook ID and password. If your computer is already logged in to Facebook, you won't have to log in at all.
There's a one-time step you might have to take first: If you already have a CNET ID and password, you can connect your CNET account and your Facebook account. … Read more
Touch4 is a fun, free app that lets you play the classic game Connect Four (similar to the iconic game from Milton Bradley, whose TV commercial spawned the famous line "Pretty sneaky, sis...."). Playing against an AI or a fellow human (on the same device or over Wi-Fi or the Internet), opponents take turns dropping checkers onto a 6-by-7 grid, and the first to connect four in a row wins. Gameplay is simple but satisfying, and Touch4 offers ample customization options, everything from different-size game boards to multiple AI skill levels. Touch4 also goes the extra step of … Read more
As part of the Le Web conference in Paris, News Corp.'s MySpace announced that it has taken a deeper plunge into the data portability pool.
The social network has announced its support for Google Friend Connect, which launched in full last week, and is using the standard to help power a new set of tools called the MySpace Open Platform. In conjunction, MySpace has ditched the distinctly unsexy moniker of "Data Availability" in favor of the new sobriquet "MySpaceID" for its universal log-in project. The Open Platform, in addition to MySpaceID, encompasses its OpenSocial-compatible app … Read more
At Monday's Le Web 3 conference in Paris, Netvibes announced the launch of its latest version which adds support for Google's OpenSocial and Facebook Connect, alongside several new ways to view widgetized content.
The OpenSocial element may be one of the most interesting aspects, as it's now paired with Netvibe's Universal Widget API, allowing developers to create widgets that can pull information from a user's social network. In the example demoed at the conference, Netvibes showed off a weather widget which displayed the user's weather, along with that of their friends. The user didn'… Read more
It has only been a few days since Facebook and Google released their dueling press statements announcing that their identity platforms, Facebook Connect and Friend Connect, respectively, were open to the public.
I still think that Facebook will win this battle. But after I wrote my first posts, I was convinced to modify my early opinion with these qualifiers: it will win in the United States, and in the short term.
In the States, Facebook's trump card is its social network. Google doesn't have a big U.S. social network, though in other countries (India and Brazil, notably), it has a strong presence with Orkut. And only a fool would discount Google in any market for good. In 1999, did anyone expect that the company would someday make a credible mobile-phone operating system?
So how are Facebook and Google doing so far in this battle? I asked both companies to send me a list of users for their identity services. Facebook quickly sent a list, which it claims is only partial, of sites from about 30 companies adopting Facebook Connect. Standouts include CitySearch, CNN.com Forum, TechCrunch, Xobni, MoveOn, and SFGate. To be fair, not all of the sites in the Facebook list have yet integrated the platform into their log-ins.
Getting competitive information from Google was more of a challenge. The list, I can say fairly, was not forthcoming. During a tortured telephone conversation, I was given a poor excuse about why I couldn't get the full list, and then later got a list of seven representative English-speaking sites, plus two in Portuguese, and one Chinese. The top sites on the list: The Inquistr and Go2Web20. The full list is after the jump.
Advantage, so far: Facebook
As I've said previously, Google does not have technically inferior registration platform, by my estimation. But that's not its issue. For users, as least based on what I've seen so far, Facebook Connect can be more straightforward. Logging in via Google's Friend Connect is a little too different from what users may be accustomed to: You sign on in an Open Social widget and join the site as you would do with MyBlogLog. Once you join, other users can see that you're a member.
The advantage Google's widget-based approach has, though, is that it's pretty much the same on all the sites that use Friend Connect. And it gives users the option to sign in via not just a Google ID, but one from Yahoo, AOL, or an OpenID provider.
In the best implementations, logging into a site with Facebook pops up a blue-theme Facebook-branded log-in page. It can be more similar (though not identical) to logging in to any old site the old-fashioned way. And once you're in, your affiliation with the site isn't broadcast to the next hundred visitors to the site. Using Facebook Connect can be a smoother transition for users. … Read more