Friday, January 29, 2010

Google searches getting more social

Google's new Social Search function lets users get more results from their friends

(CNN) -- Google's move to include social networking information in its searches has gotten personal.

The search-engine giant has announced that, with a few tweaks, people using Google can now see search results related to friends, co-workers and other members of their social networks above all other results.

The Social Search feature was introduced to a limited number of Google users last year and was made available to everyone in beta status this week.

"This is just a first step in our ongoing effort to ensure that Google Web search is always as social as the Web itself," the company said in an instructional video posted to its official blog.

Watch the Google instructional video on how to use Social Search.

The tool requires a Google account. Then, a user can link their profile to friends and family via their blogs or profiles on networking sites like Twitter.

The world's largest social-networking site may prove tricky, though. Many of Facebook's roughly 350 million users responded to Google's addition of results from the site by tightening their privacy settings. The result is that Google -- and other search engines -- can only access people's public profile pages, which usually don't have much information.

If they choose, Facebook users and administrators of Facebook groups and fan pages can adjust their privacy settings to make their data accessible to others on the Web.

When searching, a Google user can now click a link -- "My Social Circle" -- to bring up anything members of the user's network had written or otherwise posted on that topic.

The user would be able to add or remove people from their profile.

In its blog, Google said that enabling Social Search could make results more valuable because they come from sources that the user trusts.

"We think there's tremendous potential for social information to improve search, and we're just beginning to scratch the surface," Google said in the blog post.

Google's move comes as some of the Web's most popular sites are moving to make user experiences more personal.

Last week, Twitter changed its "Suggestions" list, moving away from celebrities and major media outlets to rotating lists of experts in various fields that users may find interesting.

The site also allows users to switch away from the site's top trending topics and instead view the most popular discussions among people who live in their area.

"[D]oes Twitter really want to serve up celebrity musings and general interest news, or would it rather provide the most interesting information streams to individuals -- reflecting our interests, perhaps, or helping us to connect with friends and local happenings?" founder and CEO Pete Cashmore said this week in a column for "Late last week, Twitter provided the answer: Celebrities aren't for everyone."

By Doug Gross, CNN

Apple's iPad Event Broke the Internet

We knew Apple's tablet announcement was a big deal. We didn't know it was big enough to slowdown the Internet by JR Raphael

We knew that Apple's tablet announcement was a big deal. We didn't know, however, that it was big enough to bring the Internet to a near-standstill.

While Steve Jobs was discussing the highly anticipated iPad, IT workers across the country were discussing how to get their servers back up and running. And this time, it wasn't just Twitter taking the nosedive.

Apple's iPad and the Internet

The virtual tremors began at the start of the iPad's world-changing debut, shortly after 10 a.m. PST. Twitter was already at a crawl by that point, with users complaining of missing and long-delayed tweets. Thus far, Twitter has only acknowledged the existence of the problem and said it is "investigating the source."

Next came Cover It Live. The software, used by numerous sites to power live-blogging of major events, melted down for about 20 minutes. PCWorld and Technologizer were among the sites relying on the platform for live coverage of the Apple gala.

"It's been a tough day for us and our customers," Cover It Live President Keith McSpurren tells me. "We've got smart people who generally try very hard to make this thing work, but we didn't even see the breadth and depth of today's coverage."

All Eyes on iPad

McSpurren estimates his service was slammed with nearly twice the traffic it's experienced on past events, including previous Apple announcements. That same surge may have been to blame for other more localized outages: Several sites using Cover It Live were themselves down during the iPad's revelation, McSpurren says -- some of them sites with recognizable names.

Both Engadget and Gizmodo, two of the Web's biggest tech blogs, were inaccessible during parts of the Apple event, according to user reports on Twitter and other places. Web broadcaster Leo Laporte's live audio stream of the event is also said to have crashed during the iPad's introduction.

And it wasn't just tech sites suffering: Some Internet service providers, such as the UK's Level1 Internet Services, told customers all the iPad attention was putting pretty much the entire Internet in a chokehold.

"Apple iPad launch still slowing down the Internet. Popular web sites are slow to load, and e-mails still taking longer to deliver," the company said in a support advisory.

iPad, iMad

The iPad-inspired user-written tweets may be the most telling of all. Some were sent in good humor; others seem to show an underlying resentment of Jobs and the "Apple fanboy" frenzy.

"I think the Internet is about to go down...going so slow. Thanks, Apple," wrote Twitter user nickbell79.

"Every site I look for latest news on the Apple event is running really slow," agreed user dbslone. "Waiting on the whole Internet to crash."

"S. Jobs and fanboys breaking the Internet...great!" OrantesM quipped.

So all in all, we got an iPad -- even if it damn near caused an iPocalypse. iDon't know about you, but iAm glad the day's almost over.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of eSarcasm. He has his own theories as to how the iPad will change the world.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Firefox 3.6 Brings Performance Improvements

Firefox 3.6 is here. While it isn't bursting at the seams with new features, it's an update that users should pick up by Nick Mediati

Earlier today, Mozilla released Firefox 3.6, the latest version of its popular browser. While it's not as big of an update as the more ambitious Firefox 3.5, it includes a number of under-the-hood improvements, and a handful of changes that you might discover as you use it. Here are some of the most notable improvements.

Plugin Check for Better Security

Firefox 3.6 can now detect whether any of your installed browser plugins (Flash, etc...) are out of date. Why is this important? Cyber-criminals often use bugs in outdated versions of some browser plugins--particularly Flash and QuickTime--to attack your PC and potentially install malware that can be used to steal your personal information, or turn your PC into a spam bot. In essence, Firefox 3.6 now automatically does what Mozilla's Plugin Check page did for earlier versions of Firefox.

Full-screen Video

You can now watch certain types of videos in full screen with Firefox 3.6. If the video is in the Oog Vorbis format, you can right-click the video and select an option to see it in full-screen. To give this a try, check out this time-lapse video of a drive through Downtown Seattle. To view it in full-screen, start playing it, right-click it and select Full Screen from the menu. Just like that, you're going down the streets of Seattle.

Well, sort of.

The downside to this feature, of course, is that it only works with certain videos, and unless you pay close attention to video formats, you may be confused as to why this only works part of the time.

Under the Hood

When we last tested browser page loading speed, we found that Firefox 3.5 was a good deal faster than earlier Firefox versions. Mozilla claims that Firefox 3.6 is even faster, with improvements to JavaScript performance in particular, which should result in faster load times for Web pages and Web apps. Firefox also improves support for some of the latest Web design technologies, which should make it easier for designers to create better, more attractive sites.

And, perhaps as a sign of things to come (with tablets starting to gain more attention), if your notebook or tablet (or whatever gadget you're using) has an accelerometer that detects changes in orientation, Firefox 3.6 will now be able to tell when you rotate your gadget, and it'll rotate with it.

Skins Come to Firefox

The most noticeable change--at least from a visual perspective--is support for Firefox Personas. Personas are basically interface skins that you can apply with one click, and they're actually pretty similar to the skins available for the Google Chrome browser. Mozilla has a gallery of personas at that features over 35,000 designs to choose from.

Applying a Persona is easy: Visit the Personas gallery using Firefox 3.6. To "try on" a Persona, mouse over it; Firefox will temporarily change its appearance to that Persona. If you like it, click it. If you decide to revert to the default theme, select Add-ons from the Tools menu, click Themes, then select Default.

One thing I noticed is that these themes look better on the Windows version than the Mac version; it looks like Personas were designed to take the Windows titlebar into account, but not the "unified" look of a Firefox window on Mac OS X (where the toolbar and titlebar appear to be one). Also, while Personas won't necessarily boost your productivity, some of the ones I toyed with make the text in the toolbar difficult to read.

If you use Firefox 3.5, upgrading to 3.6 should be a no-brainer. And if you use an earlier version, you too should upgrade, if for no other reason than to avoid any known security flaws that might affect older versions. It's a free download (of course) from

Win One of 4 VIP Accounts from Grafpedia


Grafpedia is currently one of my favorite design blogs, frequently posting top-notch tutorials and design-related content.

Better yet, they provide one of the best member areas out there providing:

The Prizes

All winners of this giveaway receive access to the Grafpedia VIP area, which includes: PSD files for tutorials, layer styles, gradients, vector files/icons, stock images/textures and thousands of brushes.


1 VIP account for one year with commercial license ( $199 value )


3 VIP accounts for one month each ( 9.95 $ each )
How to Enter

To enter simply you have to either:

Follow Grafpedia on Twitter


Fan Grafpedia on Facebook.

Then leave a comment to this post with your Twitter id or Facebook profile.


RComm offers comics on mobiles

Reliance users will be able to browse through comics of Cartoon Network’s globally popular and iconic toon stars on their mobiles

BANGALORE, INDIA:Reliance Communications, India's leading service provider that has spearheaded the launch of several unique services, has announced the launch of yet another value added service - Cartoon Network Comics on Mobile.

With this service, Reliance users can now browse through comics of Cartoon Network's globally popular and iconic toon stars on their mobiles. The service is available to all Reliance GSM customers nationally.

Reliance Communications' exciting new offering allows users to explore the amazing world of comics that have been an integral part of our world. It has teamed up with Cartoon Network, which has been a pioneer in bringing alive popular comics, to provide the service. Nazara Technologies, a mobile content provider, helps subscribers access these comics and cartoons exclusively on their mobiles.

By subscribing to the service, users can read Cartoon Network's Ben 10, Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Laboratory and the Powerpuff Girls at a subscription price of Re 1 per day. Not just these, users can also read the popular Archie's series on their mobiles at a subscription price of Re 1 per day. By opting for this service, users will receive one comic strip from each of the titles mentioned everyday.

The subscription option is valid for a month. A comic book will be divided into a number of pages and each page will be divided into two screens, the visual and its text. Regardless of the subscription date, users can read from page one of the first comic books.

© CIOL Bureau

Astronauts can now surf the Web, use Twitter from space

A software upgrade this week connected the International Space Station to the Web
by Nick Barber

The International Space Station received an upgrade this week that gives astronauts aboard personal access to the Internet.

Shortly after the software update, flight engineer T.J. Creamer sent the first unassisted update to his Twitter account.

"Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station -- the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s," wrote Creamer.

Typically astronauts would e-mail messages from space to the ground where support personnel would post them to Twitter. Prior to the rollout of personal Web access, called the Crew Support LAN, astronauts had access to official e-mail, but weren't able to surf the Web, according to NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries. The crew now has access to the Internet via a ground computer when the space station is actively communicating with Earth using high-speed Ku-band communications. Humphries said that he could not discuss the speed of the connection due to security reasons.

Despite some "hiccups" that Humphries could not discuss the astronauts and ground crew had been working for about a month to get the service online. The space station crew is subject to the same computer usage policies as Earth-based employees. These rules prohibit visits to pornography, gambling and other sites. Humphries said that there are content filters on the network level that prohibit access to those and other sites.

At some points the space station can be viewed from Earth by the naked eye. It looks like a bright star moving quickly through the sky and typically can only be seen for a few minutes. NASA provides a Web site to track the station and can tell sky watchers exactly when and where it can be seen. A service on Twitter called Twisst creates custom alerts, based on a user's location, and alerts them when the space station will pass through the sky.

NASA astronauts weren't the only newcomers to Twitter this week. President Barack Obama and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates also joined.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The best poem of 2006, Written by an African Kid

This poem was nominated by UN as the best poem of 2006, Written by an African Kid.

When I born, I black
When I grow up, I black
When I go in Sun, I black
When I scared, I black
When I sick, I black
And when I die, I still black

And you white fellow

When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white(white)
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you gray
And you calling me colored??

Monday, January 18, 2010

Facebook Headquarters by Studio O+A

Employees of Facebook recently moved to a new headquarters that facilitates interaction and connection, reflecting the company’s mission as a social networking website provider. Formerly a laboratory facility for high-tech manufacturer Agilent Technologies, the 150,000-square-foot structure at Palo Alto’s Stanford Research Park brings together more than 700 employees originally scattered throughout 10 locations in and around downtown Palo Alto.

The design of the space relied heavily on input from the users, appropriate for a flatly structured company that weights every employee’s opinion equally. O+A designers interviewed employees about what they wanted from their new headquarters. The Facebook platform was used to conduct company-wide polls about design decisions, post construction photos and updates, and keep everyone informed of the thought process behind the project. An advisory board of employees from every department collaborated with the design team on the design process, from space planning to finishes to final move coordination.

Because the new facility houses employees coming from various locations, the company wanted to maintain each division’s distinct identity. The design takes its inspiration from the patchwork nature of Facebook users and employees, bringing together seemingly disparate elements to form a cohesive pattern and using color and interior spacing to create neighborhoods within the open plan space. The company’s executives sit in central areas, accessible to all employees. Large lounges and open spaces provide venues for the community to come together. A kitchen and café continue Facebook’s tradition of providing gourmet meals to staff at all hours, while drinks and snacks are available at micro-kitchens throughout the headquarters.

Reflecting employees’ desire for a green headquarters, the facility is the first commercial project completed under Palo Alto’s 2008 Green Building Ordinance, making extensive use of existing architectural features, recycling millwork from the original lab, and repurposing industrial components for post-industrial use. Other sustainable features include high recycled-content carpet and energyefficient lighting.

The design goal for the new facility was to maintain the history and raw aesthetic of the building and create a fun dynamic appropriate for the company’s youthful staff. Many walls and spaces are left unfinished: employees are encouraged to write on the walls, add artwork, and move furniture as needed, allowing the building to evolve continuously.

A bright orange industrial crane, left over from the building’s previous user, was repurposed by San Francisco sculptor Oliver DiCicco to support a table surface from its heavyweight hoist, offering maximum maneuverability. Referencing the industrial aesthetic of the building, a felt canopy spreads up one wall and onto the ceiling, defining a central meeting area that can double as an impromptu auditorium. Mounted on threaded rods of varying length to achieve an undulating effect, the canopy absorbs sound and is penetrated at intervals by overhead lighting. An outdoor basketball court and indoor ping-pong table offer opportunities for recreation. And it is not unusual to see employees zipping along the concrete floors on two-wheeled skateboards.

Visit the Studio O+A website – here.

San Francisco based interior design firm Studio O+A have designed the new offices for Facebook
in Palo Alto, California.

powerd by:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Showcase of Excellent Kinetic Typography

Kinetic typography is technically defined as an animation technique mixing motion and text. It is presented in a manner intended to convey or evoke a particular idea or emotion… As designers, our options to create new and interesting designs should not be limited. Hence, innovation should be always considered to grow as an artist. With this in mind, Naldz Graphics brings you A Showcase of Excellent Motion Typography for artists who craves change and is not afraid to take chances and tries new things…

The lists below are some exceptional Motion Typography videos of designers in the community. Take time to view the short list we have here. This may give you an idea how kinetic typography works -for neophytes out there, that is. Feel free to leave a comment as to how you perceive the creations posted here… Enjoy!

Motion Typography (Dumb and Dumber) from James Campbell on Vimeo.

Typography Project from Stephen Siegel on Vimeo.

Portal - Still Alive typography from Trickster on Vimeo.

Dexter Typography from Koos Dekker on Vimeo.

House Typography from Koos Dekker on Vimeo.

Kinetic Typography from samskee. on Vimeo.

Motion Typography from Ahmad Ghazi on Vimeo.

Kinetic Typography from Aidan Keith-Hynes on Vimeo.

kinetic typography from Mihai Militaru on Vimeo.

kansas city shuffle typography from krwawyjepetto on Vimeo.

Usual suspects Kinetic typography from Gary Dumbill on Vimeo.

Video Apresentacao DMS Box from Douglas Frigeri on Vimeo.

"Love Away" kinetic typography from chris brice on Vimeo.

Women At The Well from matthew borrett on Vimeo.

Ocean's 11 Motion Typography from Carlos Batlló on Vimeo.

Law & Order Typography from Koos Dekker on Vimeo.

Yahoo helps IIT Bombay set up Hadoop cluster lab

The cluster at IIT is the first among three similar collaborations with academic institutions outside the U.S. by John Ribeiro

Yahoo has helped the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay to set up a Hadoop cluster lab in Mumbai by donating a cluster of servers running the open-source Hadoop software.

Apache Hadoop is an open-source distributed-computing project of the Apache Software Foundation that Yahoo supports.

Yahoo runs a large number of its critical operations using Hadoop, and it cannot do all the research required around Hadoop within the company, said Prabhakar Raghavan, senior vice president and head of Yahoo Labs, in a telephone interview on Thursday.

Yahoo announced in June last year its own distribution of Hadoop, citing interest from the Apache Hadoop community that it publish the version of Hadoop it tests and deploys on its own large clusters.

The cluster lab at Mumbai will help researchers at the institute study areas such as searching and ranking techniques, information extraction and natural language processing.

Academic researchers wanting to research Web-related issues have typically not been able to get access to the compute resources and terabytes of data that is required for research into "Web-scale problems", Raghavan said.

Starting with providing Hadoop researchers at Carnegie Mellon University with a 4,000-processor supercomputer in 2007, Yahoo has helped other universities in the U.S. to set up Hadoop clusters, he said.

Raghavan did not give more details on the cluster installed at the IIT, only saying that servers with hundreds of CPUs and capability to handle terabytes of data have been deployed there.

Besides IIT Bombay, Yahoo is helping set up similar clusters at academic institutions in Germany and Singapore, Raghavan said. These are the first three academic institutions outside the U.S. where Yahoo is helping set up such clusters, he added.

Yahoo plans to later network some of the clusters around the world to create a "bigger utility". Before that, the system administration capabilities of Hadoop have to be strengthened to prevent a student in one institution crashing the work at another institution, Raghavan said.

Yahoo teamed in 2008 with Computational Research Laboratories (CRL), a lab run by India's Tata Group, to offer supercomputing facilities free to academic institutions in India that are researching large scale computing, particularly around Hadoop. That collaboration continues, but is focused on high-performance supercomputing, Raghavan said.

Partnering with academic institutions on Hadoop helps Yahoo build a pool of engineers familiar with the Hadoop platform, according to Raghavan. Some of them have even been hired by Yahoo, he added.

Yahoo has also benefited from ideas that have come up from academic institutions doing research using Hadoop, Raghavan said. He did not however give specific instances of ideas that were picked up from this collaboration with academic institutions.

Group behind Twitter hack takes down

Baidu's domain name records appear to have been tampered with, experts say by Robert McMillan

The group that took down last month has apparently claimed another victim: China's largest search engine was offline late Monday, but at one point it displayed an image saying "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army," according to a report in the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party and other Web sites.

With more than half of China's Internet search market, Baidu is by far China's most-used search engine. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

Not much is known about the Iranian Cyber Army, which first gained notoriety with its December 18 Twitter attack. Hacking groups such as this are constantly defacing Web sites, but it is extremely rare for them to take down a site as widely used as Twitter or

According to security experts, Baidu's domain name records appear to have been tampered with. On Monday, the company was using domain name servers belonging to HostGator, a Florida ISP, instead of the nameservers the company normally uses. "It looks like their domain account credentials may have been snagged," said Paul Ferguson, a researcher with the antivirus vendor Trend Micro.

That's the same technique that was used to hijack Twitter, when Iranian Cyber Army hackers were apparently able to log in to the account used to manage Twitter's DNS records and redirect visitors to another Web server that posted a message similar to the one spotted on That attack knocked Twitter offline for more than an hour.

Baidu's domain name registrar,, could not be reached immediately for comment.

Owen Fletcher in Beijing contributed to this story.