Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tech News - Members Blast Facebook.

Ever since i started a new category on technological news to keep up with the rapid changes in the Web, traffic had bumped up and it seems to be well received by readers. So, here is this week's update on the latest tech news :

1. Members Blast Facebook
Users of Facebook are up in arms over the social networking site's decision to make money from its success by plastering users' photos on advertisements for products that they like. Discussion groups have sprung up lambasting the company for selling out its users to the highest bidders, like Coca-Cola, Sony and Blockbuster.
The site, started in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg as a way to keep in touch with his classmates, has exploded into a global social networking phenomenon with more than 54 million users. The 23-year-old is now trying to turn those users into dollars and had sold a 1.6 per cent stake to Microsoft for US$240 million, valuing the site at a staggering US$15 billion.

His latest "social advertising" strategy will turn its users unwittingly into cyber ambassadors for commercial brands. The new strategy will allow businesses to build custom-designed "pages" and users can become "fans" of a company's page which means any interaction with that brand will be broadcast to their Facebook friends. Users are upset because they know about the site's plans via a very brief blog posting only when they logged in.

Privacy experts says what Facebook is doing amounted to massive invasion of privacy with some indicating that users can sue Facebook for damages if their photos are being used for advertising purposes without their consent. My take is that Facebook is cashing in on its popularity with minimum consideration for users who have made it the success it is today. It has also broken the illusion that online activities are not being monitored and might just face a rebellion from users.

2. Twine
The buzz words today are "Google it" and "Facebook me" but in future you might say "Twine it". Twine is a new online service that promises to automatically collect and organise all your information, like contacts, e-mail and even YouTube videos in a way that makes sense.

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Using Semantic Web - Web 3.0 technologies, Twine is now in a closed beta trial now and promises to manage your personal data better than say, Facebook does now. These technologies have the ability to sieve through all the information, sort out the relationships between them and then display it in a manner useful to you, all without your intervention.

As an example, Facebook currently reminds you of birthdays and hooked you up with people of the same interests but Twine promises to be smarter, for example, it can tell the difference between J.P.Morgan the person and J.P. Morgan the firm. Being one of the first to launch a commercial application using Web 3.0 technologies, watch out for the name "Twine".

3. Amazon e-Book Reader
Online book retailer Amazon has recently launched its own electronic book reader called Kindle. The paperback-sized device can stored up to 200 books and sells for US$399. Kindle comes with a 6-inch black-and-white display with a memory of 256 MB that allows users to download e-books onto it. At present, more than 90,000 titles including bestsellers are available for Kindle.

With its steep price, the reception for Kindle might be luke-warm as it has only one function - reading and does not allow for surfing the Web or organising your address book like a personal digital assistant, which can be brought for about the same price. And most PDAs can already download and read electronic books. Kindle also lack international appeal as it currently supports the EVDO wireless broadband network which is available only in America which means all transactions must be done within the United States.

There are also issues with users comfort and avid readers like me, would prefer the touch and feel of a book when i read and e-readers are at best, cold comfort.
4. Spidey Climbs Onto The Web
Here is something for fans of Marvel Comics. In a major move to go digital, Marvel Comics is putting up Spiderman and Captain Planet comics on the Web, with back issues of popular comics like X-Men and Fantastic Four slated to go online soon.

Subscribers can access Marvel's library from the comfort of their homes and using a Flash player, read the comics on their PC screens. The service is expected to cost about US$9.99 per month but new comics, however, will only be available 6 months after they hit the shops and fans can only read them, not download them. Their rival, DC Comics, already has Batman and Superman online.

Just like what is happening in the music industry, it is inevitable that comics move from paper to the digital realm and will be appealing to a whole new generation of wired-up kids who do everything online. A bit of romance is loss though for the many fans who grew up collecting rare copies and storing them in acid-proof containers for posterity.

5. Eye For A Spy
Recruitment of spies has just enter cyberspace with British intelligence service, GCHQ, the high-tech surveillance arm, saying it will embed job ads within video games in a bid to attract Internet-savy graduates. Ads like "Careers in British Intelligence" will be place in games like Enemy Territory and Splinter Cell Double Agent and will be fed to computers and Microsoft Xbox consoles connected to the Internet. Guess what? The advertising agency responsible for the ads is New York-based Massive, which was brought over by Microsoft last year.

*Related post :
- Tech News - Google Opens Up Orkut To Developers

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Video-Sharing Sites And Alternatives To YouTube.

Everyone have heard of the video-sharing site YouTube and the site has been such a success that a price tag of US$1.65 billion was put on it, dwarfing the US$649 million that Rupert Murdoch paid for MySpace. The wide variety of footage available, from music videos, homemade videos, comedies to drama serials has grown YouTube's American user base, according to AC Nielson, by a whopping 297 per cent for the first half of 2006.

Along with that success came competition and an explosion of other video-sharing sites, which offer options that many users felt have better video quality and more features than YouTube. Revver, for instance, share advertising revenue with creators of video clips and this strategy seems to be paying off - it has managed to attract some of YouTube's top producers including the makers of the popular Lonelygirl15 comedy series. So, here are some alternatives to YouTube :

If you cannot tell the difference between JPEG and FLV or the word "video-remixing" sounds like something from Mars, then Eyespot is the perfect video-sharing site for you. With a user-friendly and easy-to-use interface, Eyespot editing features allows you to trim the beginning and ending of your footage, add effects and even re-order the timeline. Through ISend, you can even send your cell phone video to your account via MMS and due to its partnership with music labels, users can add music to their clips from artistes like Five for Fighting without having to worry about copyright infringements.

IFilm is one of the leading streaming media networks on the internet and provides video producers with their own personalized MyIFilm page, Clip of the Day and many other cool features. Their extensive library of music videos, short films and the popular "viral videos" is just the right thing if you found yourself bored stiff in a seminar or a presentation. This video-sharing site has also joined forces with MTV to let you catch their latest programmes and users not looking for any particular video would like its dedicated video channels like anime and horror. These channels screen random videos from selected genres so that you can enjoy an array of videos. iFilm also allows you to send your footage directly from the site to Flickr, MySpace and

Veoh is a diverse, virtual community of independent filmmakers and content producers and is the video-sharing site for all pop-star wannabe as Veoh have partnered United Talent Agency to talent spot The Next Big Thing through footage submitted by users. It also boasts of a great variety of user-generated Internet drama serials like the popular homemade horror drama Buried Alive.

Part of Yahoo, Jumpcut makes video publishing fun and easy. Its features-rich editing tool allows users to easily create their own version of someone else's movie, create effects, re-order the timeline and even undo all the effects if you have gone overboard with the editing. Unlike Youtube, however, the videos do not play automatically, which is a bit of a hassle if you are streaming videos from your mobile phone.

Other than the standard YouTube features like tagging and rating videos, Revver's list of video categories is also impressive, with dedicated channels for DIY and Celebrity News. It is the only video-sharing site that shares revenue with creators of video clips and this strategy has attracted some of YouTube's top producers like the popular Lonelygirl15 series to switch camps. The site has promised to pay 20 to 50 per cent of their advertising dollars to video producers if people watch their videos.

Google Video
Google video may looked clean and boring but what Google Video lacks in design, it more than makes up for in features. And it even lets you sell your clips to viewers. Uploading your videos is a singe by either using their web-based uploader, for file size under 100 MB, or through a Video Uploader client software if your video is over 100 MB or if you want to upload multiple files at once. The only bugbear is that your footage is subjected to review and approval before it is posted on the site.

*Related posts :
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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Free Specialised Software For Your Desktop.

Always wanted desktop extras for some specialised tasks like managing your cash flow or printing a CD or DVD cover but unwilling to pay a bundle for them? Well, the following specialised desktop utilities for those difficult tasks are totally free and will allow you to manage and organize your life and most importantly, save money at the same time :

1. Organize Your Tasks And To-Do List With Easy To-Do
A simple but powerful program from Xanadu Tools, Easy To-Do helps you to manage your To-Do lists and is a great tool for anyone with too much on their mind. With Easy To-Do you can become more efficient and get more things done in less time. Easy To-Do can also function as project-management software, letting you assign tasks to a resource, e.g. a project or a person responsible for the task. With an easy to use interface, features like the ability to categorize tasks, customized reports, creating recurring tasks and sound and speech reminders make Easy To-Do a nifty tool for organizing your life.

2. Manage Your Cash Flow With Easy Cash Manager
Easy Cash Manager is a great tool for managing your finances and is extremely user friendly. Unlike Excel, there is no need to create a spreadsheet of columns and cells or rack your brains to come up with complicated formulas to crunch those numbers. You simply input your expenses and income day by day and the software will generate graphs to help you track your finances by month and year.

3. Read Out Your Text Files With SmartRead
A nifty tool that makes your PC seem loaded with artificial intelligence, SmartRead will read out your text files if you get tired of reading long documents. Simply load a text document - those files that end in ".txt" or ".rtf" - and the software will read it out. Imagine your daughter's surprise if the computer were to read out a text greeting you have prepared for her birthday!

4. Make Movies For Your iPod With Free Video to iPod Converter
Here is a great utility for the many who own an iPod that can play video files - a software that lets you convert almost any video file into one supported by your iPod. Without having the need to spent hundreds of dollars for video editing software to convert those files, the Free Video to iPod Converter also works for the Sony PlayStation Portable and mobile phones. Simply point the software to the desired video file, which can be in formats like MPEG, QuickTime or Windows Media Video, and it will happily produce a new iPod-friendly version for you.

5. Print CD or DVD Cover With UndercoverXP
A very handy free software for creative souls who cut their own music and want their own personalised CD or DVD covers. With UndercoverXP, simply drag and drop the desired images into the template's slots and once the design is done, print it out with your photo printer.

6. Manage Your Photo Library With PICASA 2
PICASA may be old hat but it still one of the most useful free software for managing the thousands of photos in your PC's hard drive. Together with simple editing tools for enhancing photos like the Fill Light tuning tool, PICASA 2 should be the choice as long as you have photos that need sorting.

7. Convert Image Files With Irfan View
If all you want is to view and convert those picture attachments that your friends sent over e-mail, put aside an expensive and complex software like Adobe Photoshop and opt for Irfan View. Irfan View converts images into various file formats - from RAW or EPS files to, say, JPEG - and can even create quick slideshows.

*Related post : Linux - The Free Alternative To Windows

WordTracker - For The Best Keywords

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Getting The Right Mortgage Leads With Red Clay Media.

With more than 1 million foreclosures in the US arising from the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the spectacular collapse of more than 100 mortgage lenders including US investment bank Bear
Sterns and Northern Rock in UK, the resultant turbulent market makes finding suitable mortgage leads an uphill task for mortgage lenders.

And it is times like these that mortgage lenders should adopt currently available marketing intelligence services such as those offered by Red Clay Media, who generates premium mortgage leads of people who can actually afford to take out a mortgage. Rather than adopting aggressive marketing campaigns that push interest-only products and homes at people who actually cannot afford them and contributing to defaults and foreclosures, Red Clay Media's targeted marketing results in mortgage leads that need and most importantly, are able to afford a mortgage loan.

Red Clay Media provides a range of solutions specially tailored for mortgage lenders, from acquiring exclusive mortgage leads, live transfer mortgage leads to online mortgage lead generation. And with all the screening work done by Red Clay Media, all the leads come pre-qualified and are ready to buy. Their online mortgage leads can also help mortgage lenders set up multiple internet marketing campaigns to drive leads directly to their sites. Red Clay Media's highly targeted mortgage lead generation programs and extensive network of websites that generate quality leads for re-finance, debt consolidation and new home loans can also lead to cost reduction per funded loans of up to 40 per cent.

With lessons learned from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, adopting targeted marketing intelligence services and exclusive mortgage leads generation offered by Red Clay Media is the
prudent way to go for mortgage lenders.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tech News - A Round Up Of The Latest News.

With new software releases and advances happening so rapidly in the Web, I thought it will be a good idea to start a new category on technological news to keep up with the rapid changes. I hope readers will find this informative and useful. Here is a round up of what is hot :

1. Google Opens Its Social Networking Sites To Developers
Google recently opened its social networking site, Orkut, to third party developers by making available a tool kit for writing user applications, an initiative called OpenSocial. Echoes of what Facebook is doing but Google is going one extra step by making its software interface workable on other social networking sites like Friendster, LinkedIn, Ning and Plaxo.
Great news for developers because this allows them to develop applications that can be used across the various social networking sites thus making it more efficient and productive. Google is playing catch up with Facebook who already have this facility which has attracted over 21 million users and the accompanying advertisers.

2. MySpace Opens Up
With increasing competition for users, online social network MySpace will finally open its code to outside developers. MySpace CEO Chris Dewolfe has announced that he is seeking to create a far more lucrative environment for outside developers than currently exist on Facebook, by providing advertising opportunities for independent application developers.

After witnessing the effects of Facebook's open invitation to developers, which resulted in more than 6,000 independent applications for its sites, MySpace plans to give developers control over advertising that runs on the webpages they create to host new services.

3. Google's New OS For Mobile Phones
Google recently announced that it was going to build software for mobile gizmos. Called Android, the software is expected give Microsoft's Windows Mobile and the Nokia-backed Symbian software, common on smart phones now, a run for the money. To push Android's adoption by users, Google also tied up with 33 partners through the Open Handset Alliance, which includes phone maker HTC and German cell phone maker T-mobile. Will Google's entry in the mobile phone market and more choices in devices for users be a good thing? We will have to wait and see.
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4. PDF Files Contains Malicious Code
A warning, released last week by IT security firm F-Secure, indicated that pdf files are not as secured as once thought. According to F-Secure it has recently seen tens of thousands of such malicious pdf files being spammed via mass e-mail messages. When such files are viewed on vulnerable machines, PCs get infected. The malicious files exploit a recently discovered frailty in Adobe Acrobat and Internet Explorer 7 and downloads vicious malware from a server in Malaysia with the aim of setting up a network of zombie machines.

The malicious e-mail contains subject headings like "Your credit report" and "Personal financial statement" and has no content in the main body except for the pdf attachment. Adobe has advised users to upgrade to Adobe Reader 8.1.1 or Acrobat 8.1.1 as it affects versions 8.1. My advice is to arm your PC with the necessary firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spyware software and get them updated regularly and not to open suspicious e-mails.

5. Internet Mapped Out
An attempt was made recently by the University of Southern California's Information Science Institute (ISI) to create a map of the Internet. Over two months, ISI computers sent queries to about 2.8 billion numeric Internet Protocol addresses that identify individual computers on the Web. Replies came from about 187 million of the IP addresses and researchers used that data to map out where computers exist on the Internet. At one dot per address using a regular printer and with only a portion of replies, the resulting map was about 2.7m by 2.7m.

The map will help show how densely populated the Internet is and could help the researchers study the spread of computer viruses.

*Related posts :
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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Linux - A Free Alternative To Windows.

Disappointed with Windows but can't afford a Mac? Then try Linux, the free and open-source Operating System. Long termed the "OS for geeks", Linux-based systems are now getting a new lease of life after user-friendly versions hit the market.

There are currently more than 300 different Linux versions and one of the most popular is Ubuntu, which has over 8 million users worldwide since it's release in 2004. With the emergence of more user-friendly versions like PCLinuxOS and Feather Linux the number of users is expected to rise dramatically and large computer manufacturers are taking heed - Dell and Lenovo now offer laptops pre-installed with Linux rather than Windows.

Not only does a Linux-based operating system like Ubuntu contains all the applications you need - from web browser, document and spreadsheet software to instant messaging and e-mail applications, it is also completely free. Some distributions like Ubuntu, even promised that their releases will remain free of charge and be constantly updated. That means you'll always have the latest and the best that the open source world has to offer.

Contrary to popular beliefs, you do not need to be an expert in computer programming to use a Linux-based operating system. User-friendly versions like PCLinuxOS and Ubuntu have a similar point-and-click interface with Windows and are able to recognise and install drivers for most common hardware.

If you are still unable to cut Microsoft's umbilical cord, some versions allow you to try out the software first without installing them into your PC. Simply download the software from the website, burn it onto a CD or DVD-ROM and boot your computer into Linux using the CD. Distributions that offer this feature include Knoppix, Ubuntu and Feather Linux, to name a few. And if you really cannot let go of Windows, try dual-booting, an option that allows you a choice of which system to boot into when you turn on your PC.

Stable, secure and with thousands of free and useful applications available, you really have nothing to lose in using Linux and if you need further convincing to switch, here are 5 more reasons :

1. No Crashes
Windows users will be very familiar with the infamous "blue screen of death" that greets them whenever their system crashes. In contrast, Linux users rarely experienced it and have been known to run their PCs continuously over a year without a single crash or reboot.

2. Fewer Viruses
Windows currently has more than a hundred thousand known bugs, while Linux has less than a hundred and being open source, this figure is expected to dwindle. Linus also uses smart authorisation management, as it requires you to authorise any action that may potentially harm your PC by entering your password. That results in lower incidences of being tricked into installing malware and running virus programs, simply because it will not let you.

3. Tech support
If you ever come against a wall, there is round-the-clock support provided by any of the Linux online forums. Just post the problem there and the very helpful and active Linux community will answer your call for help within a day or two.

4. Free software
There are thousands of free programs and applications - from web browsers, media players, office productivity tools to games, available for downloads. Most of them serves as alternatives to commercial software, the most notably being Mozilla Firefox ( for Internet Explorer) and OpenOffice ( for Microsoft Office).

5. Runs on old machines.
Many new computers struggle to handle the memory and capacity demands of Vista, which requires 512MB RAM and an 800MHz processor. In contrast, the latest Ubuntu version, the Feisty Fawn, needs a measly 64MB RAM and a 300MHz processor. Other versions of Linux require even less. That means you can actually run a ten-year-old PC on Linux with few worries.

*Related post : Free Desktop Utilities

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Free Keywords Suggestion Tools.

Keywords are simply the words that people use when they search the Web and keyword research and selection is essential in any online marketing activity. Incorporating these keywords in your articles have a tremendous bearing on search engines results of your blog or site and will lead to increase traffic and improves your monetization efforts and chances of closing that sale.

Other than Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Google Trends and paid subscriptions, there are free online keywords suggestion tools that can help you to generate relevant keyword phrases and increase the visibility of your blog or site. Besides being free, they are also extremely accurate, considering they check for keyword phrase usage at multiple conflicting search engines. The following are some of the more popular free keywords suggestion tools :

Launched in January 2007 by market leader, which provides keyword research services to search engine marketing professionals and website owners worldwide, the free online keyword suggestion tool gives webmasters up to 100 keywords in each session. It also shows the number of searches for a keyword in the last 90 days.

The results are also extremely accurate as they get their data from metacrawlers, rather than from the search engines themselves. Wordtracker collects search term volume from and, which together, account for 63% of the search engine market. One further benefit of using metacrawler results is that one do not have to contend with the skew from people using software robots checking keyword positions. And if you want to go the full hog, try out the features packed Wordtracker paid version for free with a 30-day money backed guarantee.

Keyword Discovery
Similiar to Wordtracker, this free online keyword suggestion tool provided by Trellian generates the top 100 keywords in each session from a database of 180 search engines worldwide and 32 billion searches over the last 12 months, along with the number of times it has been searched for over the last one year. According to Trellian, their data is compiled and collected from a number of search engines to provide a far more accurate cross section of searches performed world wide.

Good Keywords
Unlike Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery, Good Keywords is a free Windows downloadable software for finding the perfect set of keywords for your web pages. Good Keywords is completely free, requires no registration and is adware and spyware free. It is a small 500Kb download and comes packed with nifty features like misspelled word generator, site popularity meter and link popularity meter. Good Keywords makes use of various tools provided by search engines like Yahoo, Google, MSN, Ask and other services like Alexa. One major advantage of using a downloadable software like Good Keywords over online services like Wordtracker is the massive savings in time as there is no need to visit, input and then extract the output files, each time you need to do your keyword research.

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WordTracker - For The Best Keywords