It’s a big day for Google’s popular Gmail product as some features from the Lab section are moving into full production, while a few others are headed for the trash bin.

Google announced today that six features are moving out of the Lab area and in to full production use:

  • Search Autocomplete
  • Go To Label
  • Forgotten Attachment Detector
  • YouTube Previews
  • Custom Label Colors
  • Vacation Dates

These have been some of the most useful features in the Lab, and now you won’t have to do anything extra to use them.

At the same time, five features are being cut:

  • Muzzle
  • Fixed Width Font
  • Email Addict
  • Location in Signature
  • Random Signature

None of these were that terribly useful, so not too sad to see them go.

Enjoy the new features if you hadn’t already added them via Labs to your account (like I had done with most of them).  I particularly like the YouTube Previews as it saves you having to go out to the site.

Categories: Google   

The official launch of Bloom Energy was today, and with that comes even more evidence that this company could really change the future of the world.

Just the other day we brought you the story of Bloom Energy and its new product called Bloom Energy Servers (the press has been instructed to stop calling them Bloom Boxes for some reason).  Essentially these devices are renewable fuel cell power sources, and depending on what type of fuel you use in them, they can be completely carbon neutral.

The Bloom Energy website has also finally launched, and if you check out the stories of corporations that have been testing the technology, it’s easy to see how this new system may change the world.  Imagine Walmart stores that are totally carbon neutral in their energy consumption.  The mega-retailer has installed the devices at two stores in California, and while they are not yet on biofuel, which is the option for completely eliminating their carbon footprint, each store eliminated 1 million pounds of carbon.  If you read through the rest, you will quickly see the potential benefits if even these devices never make it to homes.  Obviously something is seriously going on here when the likes of eBay, Google, Coca-Cola and so on send representatives to speak glowing words about another company at their press conference.

However, homes are in the plans, albeit ten years down the road.  Imagine having a Bloom Energy Server in your garage, hooked up to a solar panel on the roof.  Completely clean energy running your entire home.  The power companies are going to have a fit.

Now, imagine Bloom Energy Servers taken to remote villages in rural portions of countries.

It isn’t that often that you see a new technology which could actually change the world, but for once I think we have.  I think we are seeing the dawn of an entirely new paradigm in energy generation.  Not only will this be cheaper in the long run, but it could help save the environment.  I’m ready to sign up for a consumer version of these devices tomorrow if I could.

Categories: Green Living   

Pretty much every one out there has wanted to make a video at some point from a wedding, a graduation and so on, but who has the time to learn a difficult video editing program for this one time event? Enter Flixtime.

A joint effort by the folks from AudioMicro and Fotolia, Flixtime is a site that allows you to import your own photos and videos, as well as use some royalty free options from Fotolia, and then set them to music provided by AudioMicro to produce a high definition video to share with friends and family.

That really is it.  In about three minutes you can create a free 60-second video to do with as you please, and due to the royalty free nature of the music and photos you may use as filler, you have no concerns about copyright infringement when you place your video on a site such as YouTube.

“We have been getting more and more demand from users who want a tool that easily creates stunning videos by using images and text. Companies from all over the world have video needs, whether for websites, projects, or presentations. Until now, production costs were very high,” says Fotolia and Flixtime CEO Oleg Tscheltzoff. “Just like we democratized stock images on Fotolia by offering images for under $1 USD, we have made videos accessible and affordable to countless companies. Instead of investing tons of money in equipment, talent, and a location to produce videos, our users can simply use their content, or the images and music provided by Flixtime, to create the videos they envision.”

Ryan Born, CEO of AudioMicro says, “We are very pleased to partner with Flixtime to provide the music for such an amazing technology. With just one click, Flixtime users can bring energy and emotion to their videos by adding music. We’ve supplied a handpicked selection, spanning nearly every musical genre and style. With tracks for everyone, Flixtime users are sure to have the perfect soundtrack and take their videos to the next level.”

It’s worth a definite look, and if all you need to do is make one video, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to go anywhere else.

Categories: Video   

Every so often someone comes along that claims they have found a solution to the energy problems of the world, but rarely do they have real world examples of their technology in place before they start blowing their own horn.  Luckily it looks like Bloom Energy decided to hold its tongue until it could point to actual emplacements of its technology that were up and running.

Last night on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl interviewed former NASA employee, K.R. Sridhar about his company, Bloom Energy. The company has been working in secret in Silicon Valley for nearly a decade, but it has been building a technology that is exciting enough that it got a staggering $400 million in venture capital to get going.

The company’s sole product is a device called a Bloom Box.  Powered by fuel cells that are made from sand, and coated in specially developed paints, the system uses a mixture of oxygen and fuels such as natural gas, bio gas or solar, and generates energy from the chemical reaction that occurs.

While it sounds like some sort of alchemy, but Bloom Energy has been powering a Google data center for 18-months, and has been supplying 15 percent of the power to the main campus of eBay for nine months.  While the boxes cost between $700,000 to $800,000 each, California, where all the boxes are so far, give tax breaks and incentives that cut the cost nearly in half.  EBay says that in the nine months of operation it has saved $100,000 in energy costs.  Considering the company purchased eight boxes, it is going to take quite a while to recoup their costs, but it is definitely making them a greener company.

Dr. Sridhar says his company goal is to get the cost down to $3000 within ten years, which does seem a bit ambitious, but the hope is to get every home to own one of these, and reduce the strain on the national power grid.

We’ve embedded the full segment below, and it is definitely worth watching.  Perhaps the Bloom Box isn’t the ultimate solution, but it is certainly interesting to ponder what this device could lead other companies to try.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Categories: Green Living   

It seems that Apple is taking an amazingly harsh and prudish stance against anything that can be construed as remotely “titillating” in its popular App Store.

According to PC World, the new policy that has taken effect in Apple’s App Store is banning anything that is remotely adult-themed in the iPhone and iPod Touch applications.  While truly adult apps have never been allowed, the new rules ban anything that is even remotely suggestive, and this includes things like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue app, but by far one of the oddest is the fact that women in skating tights are not allowed.

You know, the outfits you are currently seeing in prime time television in the Olympics?  Yeah … those.

ChiliFresh has a rundown of a conversation it had with Apple about the new rules:

1. No images of women in bikinis (Ice skating tights are not OK either)

2. No images of men in bikinis! (I didn’t ask about Ice Skating tights for men)

3. No skin (he seriously said this) (I asked if a Burqa was OK, and the Apple guy got angry)

4. No silhouettes that indicate that Wobble can be used for wobbling boobs (yes – I am serious, we have to remove the silhouette in this pic)
PLEASE NOTE: The images below are as strong as our App got – do you call this “overtly sexual”?? I DON’T

5. No sexual connotations or innuendo: boobs, babes, booty, sex – all banned

6. Nothing that can be sexually arousing!! (I doubt many people could get aroused with the pic above but those puritanical guys at Apple must get off on pretty mundane things to find Wobble “overtly sexual!)

7. No apps will be approved that in any way imply sexual content (not sure how Playboy is still in the store, but …)

While it is quite true that there had been a proliferation of apps that skirted the adult rules by showing women in lingerie, these new rules really do seem to go to some extremes. I’m sorry, but I am completely baffled by the ice skating tights rule.  Under this new rule you couldn’t have an instructional application for ice skaters, nor an app about ice skating news if you wanted to show a picture of a famous skater.  What about an Olympics news app?  Are they supposed to not show pictures of medal winning female ice skaters because I might get … gasp … TITILLATED!  ”Oh yeah, you wear that medal … WEAR THAT MEDAL!”

This is one of the major problems with the Apple App Store: It’s their playground, and they can do anything they please at any time.  Want to develop an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch?  Go right ahead … just don’t expect it to always be there because they might decide it breaks some new rule you’ve never heard of.

Categories: Apple   

No, it isn’t your imagination, Facebook is acting up today.

It seems that there are a lot of issues with popular social networking site Facebook today.  There are reports of image uploads not working, slow performance, mobile app issues and so on.  The company took to its Twitter account to issue the following message:

Some people are having trouble accessing Facebook and site features because of an isolated server issue. We are working to fix this ASAP.

So, don’t panic, you’ll be able to get back to tending your crops in FarmVille soon enough.  In the meantime, if you are desperate for fun, you can come shovel out my driveway.

Categories: Facebook   

If you own a BlackBerry, and you one day pick it up to find the screen all white with a message about reloading the software, don’t panic, there is hope!

The other night I discovered my BlackBerry Tour showing me nothing but a white screen with a message about reloading my operating system (OS).  After a few seconds of panic, I started doing a search for information and found the video embedded below on

If you follow it exactly you will get your system back up and running, but it will completely wipe all data on your phone. If you have backed up your phone via the desktop manager recently, you’ll be able to restore your phone without much pain, but if you haven’t … then welcome to setting up your phone all over again.

In short, make sure to back up your phone, and for added safety, we also recommend using Google Sync.  Even if you aren’t a huge fun of Google, don’t worry about it, just set up an account to use it for storage, and then with Google Sync installed you can backup your contacts and calendar on a constant basis to the Google servers.  If your phone should get “nuked”, install Sync again and you can pull the information back to your phone.

Just like a computer crash, a cell phone crash isn’t a whole lot of fun either.

Categories: How To   

Be careful on what links you click on, or what you download, folks. There’s a new virus in town.

Known as the Knebet Botnet virus, this new attack of malware has already hit major companies and banking institutions, and has harvested at least 68,000 online identities thus far according to The Wall Street Journal.  According to a statement from NetWitness, it seems to only be targeting larger networks at this time, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe at home.  Amit Yoran, CEO of NetWitness, said that the attacks have harvested online credentials from mission critical systems at banks down to user’s Facebook logins.

The virus seems to be spreading via malicious links in e-mails, so always make sure you trust the source of any link you click on in an e-mail, and never download anything from a site you don’t trust implicitly.  These are good rules of thumb at all times, but with a new virus spreading, it never hurts to up your caution.

Categories: Security   

Do you ever sit around thinking, “Wow, I wish I could turn on my Web cam and talk to a completely random stranger who also has their Web cam on …” Well, today is your lucky day since that is exactly what ChatRoulette is all about.

Created by Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old high school student in Moscow, ChatRoulette launched in Nov. 2009, and while it got some traffic, it was just this month that the media picked up on it.  Having been featured on Good Morning America and in The New York Times, the site has now grown to tens-of-thousands of visitors at a time.

The concept is a simple one: Turn on your Web cam, click “Start”, and you are soon connected to some other random person from around the world that is on the site at the same time.  Don’t see a person you want to talk to?  Click “Next” and you are immediately sent to the next person in the line.

As I am sure you have guessed by now, the site is quickly filling up with men looking for women, and, yes, you do see a whole lot of … um … “excited men” as you randomly click through the various “strangers”, as the site calls them.  You do, however, also see a lot of very bored looking teens, people just looking for someone to chat with, and occasionally a demon playing a violin.  (I took that screenshot about five minutes before I started writing this)

The site doesn’t require any registration to use, but if you do see something you’d rather not see, you simply click the “Report” button, and if they get enough reports on a user, their computer will be blocked from the site.

While the site is gaining in popularity, there are some definite risks for the younger folks out there, and, well, really anyone who doesn’t want to see that which can not be unseen.  We’re not going to say “Stay Away!  This Way Lies Madness!”, but we are going to suggest you tread cautiously if your curiosity gets the better of you.

(for the record, the violin playing demon wasn’t half bad!)

Categories: Internet, What Is   

Verizon customers are getting an extra big gift next month in the form of unlimited Skype calling over 3G connections.

A few months ago AT&T got pressured into allowing VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls over its 3G network, and now Verizon is following suit.  Users will be able to make unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls, Skype Out calls, instant messaging, text messages and more beginning in March whenever they have a 3G connection to the Verizon network.

At launch, nine phones will be supported:

  • BlackBerry Storm 9530
  • BlackBerry Storm2 9550
  • BlackBerry Curve 8330
  • BlackBerry Curve 8530
  • BlackBerry 8830 World Edition
  • BlackBerry Tour 9630
  • DROID by Motorola
  • Motorola DEVOUR

More phones are expected to be added at a later date, but no time line was given.

The benefit to this is that these calls will not be deducted from your calling minutes each month, and only requires a data plan, which all of these phones already come with.

With AT&T and Verizon locked in an all out war with each other right now, the users are the ones that are benefiting.  Hopefully Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile will follow suit.

Categories: Cell Phones, VoIP   
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