Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2011 - 04:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: google, Internet, social networking
If you've spent any time using Google's new Plus (+) social network for the past few months, the lack of business and brand pages has likely made itself readily apparent. While Google has been working on a method for allowing businesses and brands to join in on the Google + fun for some time now, it has been in a very limited capacity. Until yesterday, that is. The big G has finally taken the velvet ropes and training wheels off of the business pages, and opened up a new Pages feature to everyone. What this means for you, fine readers, is that we are finally (unfortunately I was never able to pester Google enough to allow us beta access ;) ) able to fill that small void in your Google + world with your very own Official PC Perspective Google + Page!
Now do you see why I'm excited? It's PC Per on your Google + (what could be better?)!
What the new business pages bring to the table is the ability for cool things that are not people to finally join the social network, obviously. The Pages are then able to represent the brand in much the same capacity as a person is able to interact with the service by adding and following others, starting and joining hangouts, and sharing text, photos, videos, and links with people in the group's circle(s). Where the business pages differentiate themselves from a normal user is in the new +Direct Connect service. This allows people to jump straight to any brand (with a Google+ Page) they want simply by searching Google with a plus (+) sign followed by the name of the brand they want to connect with. For example, users are able to jump straight to the Angry Birds page by typing "+Angry Birds" into a Google search. Pretty neat. The new feature is only available for certain brands right now but will roll out to every Google + page shortly.
Vic Gundotra, the Senior VP of Engineering stated that although the Google + Pages are now live, they still have a slew of new features to implement before they will be complete and the programmers can get some rest. "Stay Tuned," he ends. What sort of additional functionality would you like to see in Pages? Feel free to head over to the PC Perspective page and let us know what you think!
Introduction, Specs, Design and Ergonomics
Samsung's Galaxy S II smartphone debuted in the U.S. with Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile in September and we finally got our hands on a review sample. The Samsung smartphone runs on Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system and includes an 8 MP camera with LED flash and 1080p video, front facing 2 MP camera, and Samsung’s custom TouchWiz user interface.
T-Mobile and Sprint’s version sports a 4.52-inch display, but AT&T’s version has a 4.3-inch screen that matches the original international version of the Galaxy S II. We are reviewing T-Mobile's Galaxy S II with 16GB of internal memory (there are two options for 16 and 32 GB). The Sprint and AT&T versions are outfitted with a dual-core 1.2 GHz Orion processor, but the T-Mobile version we are reviewing today sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU.
Subject: General Tech | October 27, 2011 - 12:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Internet, google, chrome, browser
Google has been playing around with the "new tab" page in the beta and development builds of Chrome to streamline the interface, and the company has recently rolled one such update into the latest stable release of the popular browser.
The new tab page is the page that you are presented with when first firing up Chrome or hitting the new tab button(s). The new interface is much more streamlined than the old one, and has rearranged several items. The old interface showed everything all on one canvas; however, the updated new tab page has separated the most visited tabs from the Chrome Apps which now have their own page. Users are able to navigate between the most visited tabs page and applications page by clicking on the tabs at the bottom of the screen or moving the mouse to the side of the browser window and using the arrows that appear upon mouse-over.
Further, where the recently visited/closed web pages horizontal list resided below the most visited tabs on the old interface, in the new interface Google has decided to hide the recently used list. It can now be accessed by clicking on a menu item in the bottom right corner of the browser window.
Google has also made it a bit easier to organize applications. You can now click and drag applications around to organize them. When clicking and holding an application, a new recycle bin option appears in the lower right corner of the window that will allow you to remove applications. Removing is now a matter of clicking and dragging items into the "Remove from Chrome" area. This remove / uninstall feature is also available when clicking and holding on the most visited tabs on the tabs page. Finally, the various icons have been given a slight makeover and now are presented with a shiny mouse-over effect.
Google has provided a quick video overview of the interface changes.
Personally, after playing around with the new interface for a few hours now I prefer it to the old way of doing things as it allows for larger "most visited" icons due to having a greater percentage of the Chrome window area available to it (as opposed to the old interface where it was a bit crowded and things tended to fight to attention). Further, I rarely use the applications, so having them hidden away in their own section is okay with me. It definitely seems to have been (at least slightly) by tablets and touch interfaces; however, unlike Netflix's recent tablet inspired redesign i actually like the improvements Google has made. What are your thoughts on the improvements?
Subject: General Tech | October 21, 2011 - 03:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: store, music, mp3, itunes, Internet, google
Google seems to be slowly surrounding itself in our online lives, and their soon to be released Google Music Store is sure to ensnare users even more tightly (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing). The company’s music service has been in beta for a few months now and currently operates as a virtual music locker and allows users to upload their music collection to Google’s servers so that they can stream their music to computers and mobile devices. Unfortunately, the lack of a store required users to buy their music elsewhere and rip or download and then upload their music to Google Music which was kind of a pain. A store is on the way; however, so not all hope is lost. To make the upcoming music store exciting, the company hinted at a mysterious “twist” that would accompany the launch of the MP3 purchase and download service.
According to Business Insider, a source who claims to be in the know has stated that the “twist” in the Google Music Store is not only a twist tie but is a huge space warping, planet sized twist that will allow users to share their purchased music with their friends and family. This is a huge leap into the current decade for the music industry, and is sure to be a popular feature for Google. Google is allegedly paying hefty upfront payment advances to the music industry for the rights to allow users to share music with others. It seems that streaming subscription services like Spotify and Zune have been successful in softening the outlook of the RIAA after all, at least to the point that allowing users to share their own music is something the music industry will at least consider for the right price (I apologize for the ire/tongue in cheek nature of this particular paragraph).
Unfortunately, the source was not able to detail exactly how this sharing service would work, but will likely involve the ability to share a link with a Google (+?) contact or over email that would then allow the recipient to stream the song for a limited amount of time (say 30 days?). Google being Google, the process may require or “suggest” that the user set up a Google Music account in order to listen to shared music, and thus get new users foot in the door and hopefully buy music to help Google overcome all the RIAA fees. In a further bit of bad news; while the large music labels are able to (bully) their way into charging for the rights to share music, smaller indie labels and independent artists will not be getting any piece of the Google money pie for sharing their music.
Have you gotten a chance to check out the Google Music beta yet? Personally, the sharing ability will be nice and will definitely push me into using the service a bit more than I do now, especially if I can coerce some of my friends away from Itunes so that we can share the new music we find with each other.
Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2011 - 01:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: purchase, motorola, google
The tech world is always going through changes; much like life in a pond, the small things either grow into big things or something big eats them. Motorola was once a big fish, but went through some lean times, losing about $4 billion from 2007 to 2009. They started off more than 50 years ago, designing chips for radios and TVs and even providing communication chips to NASA for many missions including the first moon landing. From there they sold off the TV portion to a little known company called Panasonic, so that they could focus on their communications chips and to start dabbling in what became the 6800 and 68000 series of chips. Those chips powered Amigas, the original Apple MacIntoshes; even the joint IBM and Apple PowerPC chips were Motorola and that architecture is still used today.
As of today that once big fish is now a part of Google, as they purchased it at a premium of 63% above market value. That is certainly a decent deal for stockholders and may well be a great deal for Motorola employees as well as they move to a strictly Android based development regime. That may lead to some interesting times in the future, as Google claims that Android will remain open and run on any architecture. However, now that they own a complete closed development chain, in the form of Motorola's patents and hardware, the open philosophy may run counter to the development of hardware. John McCarthy of Forrester Blogs, as well as many others are following this story; though it will be quite a while before we know the full repercussions of the purchase.
"Earlier this morning, Google announced its intention to buy Motorola Mobility for 12.5 Billion in cash or $40/share. There are three broad justifications for the deal:
- Access to the Motorola patent portfolio which it could then license to partners like HTC and Samsung to protect against the long arm of Apple's lawyers.
- An integrated hardware/software play to compete with Apple. The problem with this logic is that the deal does not address the fragmentation on the Android platform which is the bigger issue.
- The set-top business to bolster its lagging Google TV offering."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel To Offer CPU Upgrades Via Software @ Slashdot
- Sandy Bridge-E to ship without cooler @ VR-Zone
- Does Chrome Burn Through More Power Than Firefox? @ Phoronix
- Flash controller turns noise into data @ SemiAccurate
- Mozilla quietly releases Firefox 6 @ The Inquirer
- Antikeylogger01-USB from Eksitdata @ Rbmods
- OCZ Virtualized Controller Architecture 2.0 @ Benchmark Reviews
- C.O.D. Giveaway: StarTech InfoSAFE External Raid Enclosure: S354UFER
- Win AN OWC Electra SATA 3 240GB SSD @ The SSD Review
Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2011 - 04:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: networking, voip, google
The Gmail blog recently showed off a new feature that allows you to put one call on hold while accepting another, a feature that standard phones have had for a long time now. Inside Gmail, you are able to start a call to another computer or a physical phone and then you are free to place this call on hold by hitting the “hold” button. When you wish to return to the call, you simply hit the “Resume” button- just like a normal phone. When a second person calls you, you will be asked to accept or reject it, and if you accept the call the first call will automatically be placed on hold.
According to Google, the call hold feature “works across all call types (voice, video, and phone)” and the only caveat is a limit of two outgoing calls to physical phones can be active at a time. The only feature I see missing from this function is integration with Google Music that would allow me to set up custom hold music to the chagrin to telemarketers and customer support everywhere. After all, it is almost a Friday and everyone would just love to hear some Rebecca Black, right!?
Subject: General Tech | May 25, 2011 - 04:55 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: webp, mozilla, google
Google made news over the last year by butting heads with MPEG-LA with their royalty-free and open-sourced video codec: WebM. The hope was to provide an alternative to H.264 which was on a temporary royalty-free basis to end-users wishing to encode videos in the format (it has since been changed to a perpetual royalty-free license for end-users, 3 months after WebM’s release). WebM was mostly received with open arms from vendors, especially of free and open-sourced software such as Mozilla, and really shook up the industry. Google is now hoping to catch lightning twice by releasing a similar project for still images to replace the aging JPEG format. Mozilla’s response is suggesting that Google might just end up burnt by this experience.
WebP was requested to Mozilla Firefox’s bug tracker, Bugzilla, late last September as an enhancement request for Firefox. Since then, Mozilla closed the bug with a status of “RESOLVED WONTFIX” and a statement that they would not accept a patch for it but will re-evaluate their stance in the future if the format changes.
So for the near future it is looking like Jpeg, GIF, and PNG will reign Kings of the web. Mozilla’s Jeff Muizelaar goes into quite a bit of detail about their complaints with WebP in their personal blog. If you are a web developer you do not need to rush out and re-encode your images yet; however, you also do not have the option to if you still wish support the majority of web browsers. Typically that is a desire that web designers have.
Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2011 - 01:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: youtube, sandwich, music, ice cream, honeycomb, google, cloud, Android
The fourth Google I/O took place over the past two days and AnandTech was there to bear witness on the keynote speech and other presentations. As you might well expect Android was the most talked about, the new Honeycomb update was discussed in great detail and with good reason. The update allows Android powered devices to use USB peripherals in the same way as a PC, powering mice, keyboards and even XBox controllers which is a big change from only being able to be used as a USB device and offers even more for those interested in the Open Accessory Library.
Others will be more interested in Google's Music Beta which will let you upload your music collection to the web and includes the ability to make playlists and albums as well as gatherig meta artist information. You can think of it like Amazon's Cloud service, though hopefully more reliable, but as Google seems not to have got the permission of the record companies it may not be.
"Google’s I/O 2011 keynote may have suffered from a few choice leaks, namely the new Music service and Ice Cream Sandwich announcement, but Google still managed to include some surprises. Android 3.1, the update to Honeycomb, was announced along with a slew of development platforms, including one committed to bringing better introduction of accessories to Android devices of all types, and a home integration platform based on Android."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- First-tier motherboard makers to ship nearly 400,000 Z68-based motherboards in May @ DigiTimes
- Twitpic Owns your Pictures @ XSReviews
- Linux Kernel Benchmarks Of 2.6.24 Through 2.6.39 @ Linux.com
- A Look At Nouveau Driver Power Usage @ Phoronix
- Finding, Not Searching: How to Use Search Engines Correctly @ TechwareLabs
- Nikon Coolpix P500 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Tech-Reviews Prize Giveaway
- We're giving away a P67 mobo, a GTX 560, and a dozen games @ The Tech Report