baltimoresun.com

May 17, 2011

Paying with your iPhone, browsing menus with your iPad

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In today's story about technology in the Baltimore area, we take you to two popular destinations in Howard County, Md.: Houlihan's and Victoria's Gastro Pub.

At Houlihan's, the Columbia restaurant has enabled a smartphone app called Tabbedout to work with its point-of-sale terminals, where orders are punched in and credit cards are run. Tabbedout is made by an Austin, Tex.-based company and it's being marketed in partnership with MICROS Systems Inc., a big player in POS terminals for restaurants.

Basically, you input your credit card info once into the Tabbedout app and then you can request the tab -- and pay it -- with a few swipes of your finger while at the restaurant.

At Victoria's, also in Columbia, management there is allowing its restaurant to be used as a test bed for MICROS's iPad menu app, which is under development. The app allows beer and wine drinkers to browse the restaurant's extensive libations selection (250 beers enough for you?), and keep track of the beers you drink as a beer club member.

It remains to be seen in which direction MICROS will go with the iPad app, but don't be surprised if one day soon you're able to download your favorite restaurant's iPad app and interact with it, say, as a member of a diner's club, even when you're not there.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

May 13, 2011

Stolen laptop recovered with help of technology, Twitter followers

Sean Power (or @seanpower) riveted the Twitterverse last night with his play-by-play of his efforts to use technology and the Twitter crowd to reclaim his stolen laptop.

His computer had been stolen days before in New York City and Sean had to fly to Canada in the meantime. But on his computer, he had free, open-source location-tracking software, called Prey, that alerted him when his laptop was being used. His laptop's webcam took pictures of the alleged thief, and tracked him as he surfed the Web, used Skype and even logged in to his bank account!

Sean ends up calling the guy and arranging for his computer to be given to two people, who apparently heard about the drama as it unfolded on Twitter, and offered to help Sean.

It's a crazy tale of high-tech and, um, crowdsourcing, I suppose, your stolen laptop's recovery. Hit up the links over in Geekwire to dig further into the story.

Here's a question: how popular is the Prey software today after Sean's story?

Here's their video of how the software works:

Prey Project introduction from Carlos Yaconi on Vimeo.



This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech

April 5, 2011

Baltimore's Tixato: Ticketmaster, beware

Chris Ashworth's small Baltimore company -- Figure 53 -- has already scored a huge hit in the niche field of theater show management software, with thousands of paying customers and even more users of its free product. QLab is a "live show" controller that makes it possible for theater geeks to control all their multimedia special effects from their Macs. BaltTech covered QLab's success last year.

Now Ashworth and his motley crew of computer geeks have built a new Web-based product: Tixato. It's an online ticketing service for small theater and event companies -- and it's entering a highly competitive field that ranges from TicketMaster to smaller regional and local players.

But QLab is such a beloved piece of software in the independent theater community (oh, it's used on Broadway, too) that Ashworth has the kind of street cred among theater geeks that may be missing from certain competitors.

I spoke with Ashworth this afternoon and he said he thinks there's good potential for crossover in theater customers who use QLab and those who may be in search of an inexpensive box office solution. He sees his company building out a suite of features for small theater operators looking for affordable software and online products to run their businesses.

"Our approach is to pay attention to the smaller guys, because we are a smaller company and we can afford to do that," said Ashworth.

If Tixato takes off as well as QLab has, Ashworth and crew might be on to something big.

Alas, Figure 53 ain't THAT small anymore. On Friday, Ashworth moved the five-person company to a new office on St. Paul Street in Baltimore's Charles Village neighborhood. Before that, they had been working out of his house in Charles Village.

Here's Ashworth explaining how the QLab software works:


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:18 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Apps, Big Ideas, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Web Dev & Apps
        

January 26, 2011

Big news: Baltimore city opens up data spigot

Big news today out of Baltimore: the long-anticipated (by this blog) release of data sets by the city has finally arrived.

There's crime data, 311 data, tax data, parking citation data -- and much, much more. The data is available at this site: http://data.baltimorecity.gov/

What's cool about this new site is that it doesn't only allow you to view the data. Programmers and hackers and web geeks can export the data and come up with their own presentation methods for displaying the data.

What do you think? I want to see the mash-ups that get created with this data. Ping me if you plan on doing interesting things with it: gus.sentementes@baltsun.com.

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This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech, Web Dev & Apps
        

October 4, 2010

Google TV wants to rock your living room

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Google released more information today about Google TV, their attempt to marry Web content (video, social media, etc.) to that big flat-panel TV you wish you could do more with in your living room.

It's basically a big tease, meant to get geeks like you and me salivating about channeling Internet content -- and apps! -- through your TV. But can Google and its partners deliver a software/hardware experience that makes Internet-on-your-TV a fun and effortless experience. (There are two ways to get Google TV: 1) through a TV specially built with Google TV inside or 2) through a small Google TV box you plug into your TV set.)

That's the thing about my TV now -- all I need is .001 percent of my brain cells to operate it. I turn to my TV when I want something completely brainless to do. All I have to say, Google, is that you better make Google TV as dumb-proof as possible.

Don't make me think!

That said, I must admit, I'm feeling the tech-lust organ in my body starting to tingle (it's right next to my spleen, folks)... Google TV is starting to look sweeter and sweeter. Let's hope it lives up to the mounting hype.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:01 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, For The Home, Gadgets, Web Dev & Apps
        

October 1, 2010

Happy Hour Baltimore: the app that helps you find post-work nirvana

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happyhour_1.PNGThere's a new app in Baltimore that is targeting the city's bars and restaurants, and the happy hour deals they're offering.

It's called Happy Hour Baltimore, and it's available for free in the Apple App Store. (The creators are working on an Android version.) Here's its website.

The two guys behind the app are Brian Champlin and Tom Camposano, who got the idea about a year ago while lounging in hammocks at Camposano's home in Southeast Baltimore.

After a year of development, planning and investment (the guys pumped in about $20K to get the app and website off the ground), they launched it about three weeks ago.

The app does a couple things well. It allows you to browse a map of the city with bars and restaurants that offering specials.

It enables each establishment to post up-to-the-minute offers and deals through the "dispatch" section.

It can connect you with a taxi cab (Raven, Yellow or Blue cab companies) by phone.

And it allows you to share these happy hour spots with friends on Facebook and Twitter, or by email.

 

"Even the old school baltimore bars that have been there forever, even those guys are going for it," Champlin said. "They get to pull in some of the younger crowd."

Now, what's most impressive, in my book, is that Champlin and Camposano have hammered out a nifty business model. For $250 a year (introductory offer), a restaurant/bar can be included in the app, and they get access to the Dispatch section. That means each restaurateur or bar owner can control the message he/she wants to put out through this app.

This is smart on two levels: it gives the establishment full editorial control over the advertising content they're putting out to consumers. And it means Champlin and Camposano don't have to have a staff manually inputting new happy hour information into the app every day or week.

Right now though, the tough part for the pair, whose business is called Dilly Dally Apps, is getting the word out on the app to establishments and to iPhone users. It's a marketing challenge. So far, they've gotten about 70 bars and restaurants as subscribers (which is pretty good so far, I'd say) and hope to break even this year, and turn a profit next year.

"We basically are in the process of covering the entire city on foot and showing them the app, and selling bars and restaurants on the service," Champlin said. So how'd they build the app and website? Champlin tells me that he and his partner don't have much web design/programming experience, so they hired to computer/Web geeks to build the iPhone app and the website. (Geeks make the world go round.)

Word of mouth works, especially in Baltimore, where people who love this city can be quite chatty. I first learned about the app from following The Falls, a Mt. Washington restaurant on Facebook. That restaurant (full disclosure: which is owned by some friends of mine) put out to their Facebook followers that they were offering specials through the Happy Hour Baltimore iPhone app. Smalltimore. :-) 

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This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Apps, Smartphones, Social Media, Web Dev & Apps
        

September 23, 2010

Spotted: Zynga's chief game designer in natural habitat

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I recently visited Zynga East in Timonium, Md., just north of Baltimore, where I had a long chat with legendary (to the gaming masses) game designer Brian Reynolds.

Zynga, which runs online social games, such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars and FrontierVille, launched its first game studio outside of its San Francisco headquarters here in the Baltimore area last year. They started with about a dozen or so people and have now grown to about 30.

You couldn't tell it from the humble signage outside Zynga East's office, but the company is on a huge tear in the world of online social gaming, thanks to its success on Facebook.

This Baltimore (er, Timonium) office, including Zynga's chief game designer Reynolds, is responsible for the successful FrontierVille, which has about 35 million users. Reynolds, in his past life in the Baltimore area video game scene, worked for Microprose and co-founded Firaxis Games and Big Huge Games.

I'll be doing an in-depth story about Zynga that will appear shortly in the print Baltimore Sun and here online, but I wanted to give you a little photo peek. That's Reynolds below, holding a cup of black tea.

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This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:49 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: East Coast, Gamers, Social Media, Web Dev & Apps
        

May 19, 2010

An online sarcasm detector? Yeah, that's useful.

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Israeli researchers have developed an algorithm and machine-learning method for identifying sarcasm in online comments that is accurate about 77 percent of the time.

The researchers at Hebrew University turned to a huge trove of review comments on Amazon.com to refine their method. Understanding sarcasm in real-life conversations can sometimes be tricky, and online chatter can get even more confusing. So it would seem a pretty good rate that the researchers' method is accurate about three out of four times.

From the research paper:

We experimented on a data set of about 66,000 Amazon reviews for various books and products. Using a gold standard in which each sentence was tagged by 3 annotators, we obtained precision of 77% and recall of 83.1% for identifying sarcastic sentences. We found some strong features that characterize sarcastic utterances. However, a combination of more subtle pattern-based features proved more promising in identifying the various facets of sarcasm.

And now, a poll:


Via Popular Science


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:03 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Geeks, Web Dev & Apps
        

May 14, 2010

Diaspora* -- seeds of a Facebook competitor?

Four nerds have big hopes of creating a more privacy friendly Web application as an alternative to Facebook. They're calling it Diaspora*.

They wanted to raise $10,000 by June 1, to fund their start-up efforts through the summer. Guess what? Thanks to the power of the Web (and a New York Times article) -- they've raised more than $131,000.

Watch their pitch video here:

Their efforts received a huge boost with this profile of their efforts in the New York Times this week. Their goal is to "decentralize" the Web by building an "open source personal web server that will put users in charge of their own data."

Basically, they raised money to support their efforts by making a plea essentially on the open Web. And people responded by donating their dollars. The NYT article surmises that people are getting tired of the privacy issues that keep cropping up between Facebook and their millions of users -- so they're looking to support another platform. Even if it hasn't even been built yet.

Ahhh, the power of the Web....


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:29 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Geeks, Web Dev & Apps
        

April 12, 2010

Adobe Creative Suite 5 debuts today -- will you buy?

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If you're a design geek, you probably know this news already: The latest installment of Adobe Inc.'s popular Web/publishing design software -- Creative Suite 5, aka CS5 -- debuts today.

Adobe will preview the top five new features of CS5 online, at 11 a.m. ET. Here's the link to the company's site where it'll take place: http://cs5launch.adobe.com/

Adobe's been in the tech news lately thanks to Apple, which has taken steps to cut out Adobe's Flash platform -- common for video and animations on the Web -- from the iPhone and iPad. Apple's decision has caused tension between the two companies.

Check out this angry blog post from an Adobe employee, who tells Apple to go screw themselves. Really. He says that.





This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps, Web Dev & Apps
        

March 18, 2010

The year of the Internet on your TV?

This may well be the year of the Web on your television.

Now there's word that Google is looking to partner with Sony and Intel to bring Web videos and other apps to the television through a set-top box. The New York Times reports that Google plans to base the platform on its Android operating system for smartphones.

Televisions are being sold now that that can hook up to the Web and use at least some apps, such as social networking sites. There's also the set-top boxes made by Roku (I own one) and video console systems like the Xbox, Wii and PlayStation that have some Web connectivity.

Meanwhile, TechCrunch theorized that Google's entry into this area would finally spur Apple to do something more with its own offering, called Apple TV. Apple TV, which is a very closed system right now, has a long way to go because, I think, people will want variety in their TV/Web offerings (Netflix, Amazon video, etc) -- and not just a commitment to Apple's iTunes environment alone.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:26 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Apps, Media, Web Dev & Apps
        

March 15, 2010

South-by-Southwest Website honorees

Looking for cool new Websites to discover?

Here's Wired's list of the Websites that were honored at the 13th Annual South-by-Southwest Web Awards in Austin, Tex. yesterday.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Geeks, Web Dev & Apps
        

February 1, 2010

A free Hulu makes the Web great

hulu-logo.jpg Nothing casts a chill in the heart of a fancy-free Web surfer than all this talk lately of Hulu incorporating some type of a subscription model.

Yes, you heard me right. That free site of the latest (and even archival) programs you love to watch is trying to figure out how to squeeze a buck or two (or more) out of you each month.

Fight the tyranny of the subscription rate! Free Hulu!

But seriously, Hulu shows some of the best video content on the web. This stuff is in demand and people are watching -- you're telling me they can't command healthy advertising rates due to all their users? Come. On. Or are they just getting greedy?

Here's a Tribune story on the topic, titled For Hulu, Free May Soon Turn Into Free. Looks like whiney cable companies are at least partly behind the push to make people pay for the content. But of course.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:56 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*, For The Home, Media, Web Dev & Apps
        

January 20, 2010

More companies now have to worry about "advanced persistent threat"

mroesch.jpg"The phrase 'advanced persistent threat' is something you're going to be hearing a lot more of the next two years," said Martin Roesch, founder of Sourcefire Inc.

That's one bit of perspective Roesch has to offer on last week's news of Google (and 30+ other companies) getting hacked by someone from inside China, by perhaps the Chinese government itself.

Roesch's company, based in Columbia, Md., crafts intrusion detection and prevention defenses for major government and military agencies and, increasingly, major companies.

Roesch says that government military networks have been accustomed to seeing the kind of sophisticated cyber attacks that Google Inc. experienced last week.

But the attack on Google may have been a watershed moment for corporations.

"This is the first time that nation-state-grade tactics were used against a commercial target," Roesch said. "They were trying to hide. They were taking the time to cover the tracks."

Hence the hacking term "advanced persistent threat," or APT. HackingUniverse.com defines APT as:

...cyber attacks mounted by organizational teams that have deep resources, advanced penetration skills, specific target profiles and are remarkably persisent in their efforts. They tend to use sophisticated custom malware that can circumvent most defenses, stealthy tactics and demonstrate good situational awareness by evaluating defenders responses and escalating their attack techniques accordingly.
Indeed, what may be remarkable in Google's case is not the hacking itself, but the fact that Google was able to sniff it out.

What the attack on Google means is that more companies in different industries will need to pay more attention to APT, from defense contractors to banks to health care systems, Roesch told me.

"I think you are seeing a new level of attacking taking place here," Roesch said. "I think this [attack on Google and others] does change the game and the scope of the problem. You have to consider a whole new security posture."


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:00 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, Government Tech, Web Dev & Apps
        

December 4, 2009

Ruins of Pompeii now on Google Streetview

Check this out:


View Larger Map

This is cool: Google mapped and photographed the ruins of ancient Pompeii in Italy. Pompeii was a Roman city that was covered in volcanic ash after nearby Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.

I visited Pompeii in 1997 and was struck by its relatively immense size, and appreciated how big of a disaster the eruption must have been for what was once a thriving little seaside city in the Roman empire.

Google Streetview gives you a good peek inside the place, but it's definitely worth a visit with your feet on the ground, if you're ever in Italy. Anybody else been there?

[via Mashable and USAToday]


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:04 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Web Dev & Apps
        

November 18, 2009

Towson U., National Federation of the Blind re-invent CAPTCHA

HIPUUtowson

Researchers at Towson University and the National Federation of the Blind, based here in Baltimore, have come up with a new and more accessible twist on the CAPTCHA services -- you know, those squiggly, hard-to-read letters us humans are forced to enter in a Web application to verify that we're human and not malicious bots.

CAPTCHA technology has been around for more than 10 years and its history has been a sort of arms race between security geeks and hackers. New types of CAPTCHAs are devised, but hackers can write programs that can "read" the letters and numbers. Meanwhile, people with disabilities can struggle with trying to get past the CAPTCHA security, because they have trouble seeing or hearing the CAPTCHA codes.

Computer viruses have an easier time than people with disabilities in getting past some CAPTCHA systems, according to Towson professor Jonathan Lazar, who worked on the new system with the NFB.

"Unfortunately what happens is it becomes very often not a test of if you're human, but a test of whether you can see," Lazar said. "Basically, computer viruses are twice as successful as blind people on the old captchas. It's a problem, and that's why we've been working on building this."

Here's how the Towson system works: The user is shown both a picture and a sound of an easy to identify object. In the case above, we see birds, drums, lion.

Corresponding sounds for each object are then played for the user, who types in what she hears. Lazar said their algorithms can accept variations of the user input, such as plurals, i.e. bird/birds, drum/drums, lion/lions. This type of security approach works because humans are still far better than computers at recognizing sounds and putting names to them, according to Lazar.

The Towson researchers recently filed a patent application for their system, which they call HIPUU (Human Interacting Proof Universally Usable.)

Who knows -- maybe sometime soon this will become the new standard.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:18 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: *NEWS*, University Tech, Web Dev & Apps
        

November 12, 2009

Are you Binging more?

It's not all the marketing hype that's gotten to me when it comes to Bing, Microsoft's upgraded search engine (er, excuse me, I mean: decision engine.) It's the quality of the results.

More and more, I'm starting to feel lucky whenever I use the search engine. Yesterday, I noticed that it indexed a blog post I wrote for BaltTech quicker than Google did. If Bing can do that consistently with blog posts, that's a win for it.

It's nice to see Bing integrating with Twitter and offering robust video and image search options. But its meat and potatoes will have to be raw, un-gimmicky search. News that it's going to offer Wolfram Alpha search results (which broke yesterday) is nice, but I doubt that that feature will mean that much to most users.

I can't even estimate how often I use Google in a day to search through news, blog posts, videos, and images. But Google -- which seemingly has ventured into all sorts of new businesses this year -- has a competitor on its home turf, IMO.

Now it's time for a poll:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:00 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Web Dev & Apps
        

October 16, 2009

Amazon introduces same-day shipping in Baltimore, other cities

Amazon yesterday announced that it will offer same-day delivery on thousands of products bought off its juggernaut of a website. The Seattle-based company is rolling out the same-day service just in time for the holidays in seven cities: Baltimore, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Las Vegas and Seattle. More cities to come include Chicago, Indianapolis and Phoenix.

The charge? $5.99 per item, but only if you're an Amazon Prime member. The rates are more than double if you're not. Some catches: In Baltimore, you have to order by 10:30 a.m. for you to get your purchase the same day. Similar cut-off times apply in other cities. And same day delivery isn't offered on the weekends.

For you procrastinating Christmas-time shoppers, the service will help you put off shopping till the very last minute: Amazon will offer same-day delivery on Christmas Eve.

Being able to offer same-day delivery on online purchases is somewhat of a Holy Grail for e-commerce companies who can better satisfy the instant-gratification itch of their customers. We'll see how well it pans out for Amazon. I'm sure if it works well, they'll expand it to even more cities.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 7:05 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Web Dev & Apps
        

September 16, 2009

Would you pay for the mobile version of the WSJ?

The_Wall_Street_Journal_app_270x404.jpgI never understood why the Wall Street Journal, which charges for its online edition, launched an iPhone app (two, if you count All Things D) that gave away its content for free.

Now we know that free doesn't mean free forever.

The Journal's owner, Rupert Murdoch, said the news publisher plans to charge non-subscribers $2 a week for the mobile version (on BlackBerries and iPhones), and $1 per week for online-only subscribers.

Subscribers to both the print and online editions would get it for free, according to this <ahem> free report from Reuters.

I used to have a WSJ online-only subscription, until they more-than-doubled my rate over the course of two years.

I was stupefied they gave away their content on the iPhone for free. But now that experiment in free appears to be over.

And I, of course, wonder how many people who are not already subscribers will be willing to pay to read it on their smartphones.

The truth is, though it was free, I didn't really use the WSJ iPhone app that much. The content that was funneled through it was good, but not overwhelmingly special.

All Things D satisfied my tech itch, and I hope that stays a free app. But even if not, there are still numerous sources on the Web and on my iPhone that will fill the gap.

What do you think? Would you pay for the WSJ app now that you've had a chance to experience it for free for so many months?

(photo credit: Image of WSJ via CNET)


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:26 AM | | Comments (8)
Categories: Apps, Gadgets, Media, Smartphones, Web Dev & Apps
        

August 27, 2009

Should Facebook be allowed to patent "community translation"?

My blog post on Tuesday about Facebook trying to patent their "community translation" process, which they've been using to crowd-source the translation of their site around the world, really did end up going around the world, thanks to tons of retweets.

The issue even got picked up yesterday by TechCrunch, in a thoughtful post by Jason Kincaid who noted some other sites that have used crowd-sourcing in this way.

Which brings me to the poll of the day below. [Note: The first five people who vote and leave a comment will get a free "BaltTech" magnet for their fridge!]




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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Big Ideas, Social Media, Web Dev & Apps, West Coast
        

July 9, 2009

More Google Voice accounts starting to roll-out?

If you just look at Twitter, dozens and dozens of people today are tweeting about recently receiving an invitation to launch their new Google Voice accounts.

Google Voice, as you may know, is Google's revamping of the Grand Central phone app that the company bought a few years back. Google lets you use one phone number to manage multiple phone numbers. Some think it'll be revolutionary. Check out the list of goodies it promises to offer us, such as free voicemail transcription and answering any of your multiple phone lines (home, work, cell) on one phone.

I'm wondering if the big roll-out wave has finally begun. Can anybody help confirm? I know Google started sending out invites to some in late June. Is this just another big batch of invites, or the whole enchilada?

Baltimorean Patrick Knight sent me a copy of his invite. Here it is below:

You are invited to open a free Google Voice account.

To accept this invitation and create your account, visit https://www.google.com/voice/

If you haven't already heard about it, Google Voice is a service that makes using your current phones much better!

Here's what it offers:

• A personal phone number that rings all of your existing phones when people call

• All of your voicemail in one inbox with unlimited online storage and free voicemail transcripts sent to your phone and email • Low-priced international calling to over 200 countries and free SMS

• Other powerful features like the first phone spam filter to protect you from unwanted callers, the ability to ListenInTM on your voicemail messages while they are being left, conference calling and more

To learn more about Google Voice before registering, visit: http://www.google.com/voice/about Please note that Google Voice is only available for sign up in the US.

We hope you enjoy Google Voice,

The Google Voice Team


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:07 AM | | Comments (17)
Categories: Apps, Social Media, Web Dev & Apps
        

June 1, 2009

Bing it on!

So Microsoft debuted its new search engine today and it's called Bing.

Tired and loopy after a long day, I started randomly wondering if Microsoft had a nifty slogan for it yet. The best I could find on their site was "Live Search is Evolving. Welcome to Bing."

But does the software giant -- which hopes to become a contenda in search -- need a punchier slogan, something unique to Bing that's not Microsoft's overall slogan: "Your Potential. Our Passion"? A phrase that'll plant itself in the technoratis' consciousness and help frame peoples' choice to choose to search the Web via Bing, rather than Google?

Bing it on? Ba-da-Bing?

Add your slogan recommendation to the comments below and I'll tweet a couple to Microsoft next chance I get. :-)

So here's a question, and one especially for all you ad and marketing gurus out there: Are slogans even critical to a new technology's success if the tech itself can stand on its own and immediately deliver groundbreaking results for the people who use it?

Google's quasi-informal slogan is 'Don't Be Evil,' which doesn't refer to what its tech can do, but rather, the corporate approach it's marketing itself as taking. How vital is sloganeering now to a company, especially a tech company in a hyper-competitive space? Is it gonna go the way of the 20th century?


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 6:03 PM | | Comments (3)
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech
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