Archive for August, 2009

Palm lays the smack down on Pre theme for Android

Posted on August 13, 2009. Filed under: Google, Mobile World | Tags: , , |

By Chris Ziegler, Engadget


Android’s supposed to be all about peace, love, and openness, but that apparently doesn’t exempt it from copyright law and trigger-happy general counsels (who knew?). In a move that should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, Palm has sicced its legal team on the makers of the aptly-named “Palm Pre Android Theme” that borrows icons, wallpapers, and mojo (not to be confused with Mojo) directly from webOS. The concerns center around the usual suspects — graphics copyrights and trademark infringement — and the company is demanding that they cease use of the Pre’s interface, name, and all that good stuff by some date that’s been redacted from the leaked letter (we’re assuming it’s soon). To be fair, Palm comes out and says that it “appreciates that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery,” but at the end of the day, they’re concerned about the potential for consumer confusion. Interestingly, to the best of our knowledge, they haven’t given the iPhone-based theme the same treatment — but hey, maybe it’s easier to confuse a Hero with a Pre than it is an iPhone… or something.

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Google Chrome to reach v4 before Firefox? Work begins on Chromium 4.0

Posted on August 13, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , |

google chrome
Version numbers probably mean more to the general public than to regulars at DownloadSquad. When it comes to Chrome, however, Google seems like they’re hoping to catch up with Opera by the end of next year.

After doing an install from Buildbot’s snapshots, I checked Chromium’s about screen. Lo and behold, build 23129 is tagged as While it’s just a number, it means, of course, Chrome will likely hit v4 long before Firefox ever does.

Other than the version number I haven’t noted any obvious changes as of yet.

Technical Program Manager Anthony LaForge posted a note to the Chromium-dev board announcing that the move was made to reflect the code freeze on Chrome v3. “There is still a bit of work that needs to be done for 3.0 in terms of stability and fixes,” he wrote. “To that end we will be pulling changes into the 195 branch (what will become the stable release).”

This isn’t the first quick version-to-version jump Chrome has seen. Chrome 3 hit the dev channel less than a week after Chrome 2’s release back in May. Looks like I was off the mark about Chrome hitting version 8 or 9 before Google ditched the beta tag on GMail…

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Xbox 360 Elite to Replace Pro at $299.99

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Gadget News, Microsoft | Tags: , |

By Shane McGlaun, Dailytech


The game console market is not doing as well as it once was and the more expensive consoles are especially feeling the pinch of the poor economy. The Nintendo Wii at $249 still reigns supreme when it comes to sales and the PS3 remains the most expensive of the game consoles.

There have been rumors swirling this week that the Xbox 360 Pro would go the way of the dinosaur and the Xbox 360 Elite would be reduced in price to replace it. The rumor has the Elite being cut to the $299.99 effectively pushing the Xbox 360 Pro out of the lineup.

This will mean that only two Xbox 360s will be offered from Microsoft: the Arcade and the Elite. A picture of a catalog from Meijer due to hit on August 30 has been leaked that shows the $299.99 price tag for the Elite. No official statement on the retirement of the 360 Pro or a price cut for the Elite has been offered from Microsoft at this time.

Microsoft may be cutting the price of its console, but Sony has not. There have been persistent rumblings that Sony will drop the price of its PS3, but so far, that has not happened.

Rumors cropped up earlier this month that the rumored PS3 Slim would be debuting on August 18 and that a price cut may come along with the new console.

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Facebook plans to introduce “lite” version

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad


A large number of Facebook users received a message yesterday, telling them they’d been invited to test something called Facebook Lite. The messages turned out to be an accident, and the users who received them couldn’t sign up. Because nobody’s seen it yet, there’s still a lot of speculation about what Facebook Lite actually is.

Facebook’s recent acquisition of FriendFeed has led some people to believe that Facebook Lite is a bare-bones, status-updates-only version of Facebook, designed to compete with Twitter. Although this would make some sense, TechCrunch says it’s the wrong answer. Based on information that Facebook Lite is already being tested in India, they’re reporting that Facebook Lite is just a slimmer, low-bandwidth version of the site, targeted for users whose Internet connections are too slow to properly use the current version.

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La petite url is a personal URL shortener for Wordpress

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Internet Market | Tags: , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad


The recent shutdown and reopening of URL-shrinking service drew a lot of attention to one of the most troubling questions about short URL sites: when one of them shuts down, what happens to the links? To avoid worrying about what a URL shortener might do with your links, you might want to scope out la petite url, a WordPress plugin for creating tiny links using your own domain name.

La petite url creates links to your WordPress pages using 5 lowercase characters, something like This way, your domain name stays in the URL, letting people know which site they’re clicking through to. You can also automatically display a short link next to each post, making it easier for readers to spread your links. The disadvantage? Unless you have a tiny domain name, your shrunken URL is going to be significantly longer than the ones you get from, or

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So long RealDVD, it’s been

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Multimedia | Tags: , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

Real DVD

A US district Court has issued an injunction preventing RealNetworks from selling its RealDVD software. RealDVD is basically a DVD ripper, but unlike most applications that let you crack DVD copy protection and copy videos to your hard drive, RealDVD includes its own DRM scheme which prevents users from making multiple copies or watching ripped movies on another computer or portable device.

RealNetworks had been hoping that these restrictions would help the software survive against any legal claims. After all, the courts have a long history of deciding that you have a right to create backup copies of media you purchase for personal use. Unfortunately, the DCMA circumvents this right by declaring that you can’t use technology that circumvents copy-protection.

The long and short of it is that the court ruled against the company because its software violates the DCMA. It’s not clear whether RealNetworks will appeal the case. Honestly, I doubt there were throngs of people clamoring to buy copies of RealDVD at $30 a pop when there are plenty of free alternatives that don’t restrict what you can do with ripped movies.

But RealNetworks had been hoping to launch a version of the software that could be included on set-top boxes like DVD players that would allow users to insert a disc and save the data to a hard drive so they could browse through their movie collections and watch videos without swapping discs. And that’s a feature I could see people spending a few bucks for.

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How to opt out of Google and protect your privacy: Move to remote village

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

google remote village

may be the top search engine in the world, and it may collect a lot of data about you if you use its email, chat, photo, or video services. Heck, even if you’ve avoided every Google product, Google probably still knows a few things about you if you’ve ever done anything that might have possibly left a trail on the web.

But America’s finest news source, The Onion, lets us know that Google has a new service that lets you opt out. All you have to do is click the opt-out button and a van will show up at your door and relocate you to a remote 22 acre village where you’ll be expected to sever all contact with the outside world. Your home will be destroyed to protect your privacy.

You can check out The Onion’s satirical video after the break. Sure, it’s all a joke. But you know what? It does highlight just how difficult it is to stay off the grid in the age of the internet.

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Advertising gone wrong: 23 poorly placed banner ads

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Internet | Tags: , |

By Adam Maras, Downloadsquad

Have you ever come across an advertisement on a web page that just made you think, “wow. That really shouldn’t be there.”? I’ve come across a few in my time, but it looks like the folks over at BuzzFeed have been running into them left and right; they’ve compiled a collection of 23 examples of web advertising gone bad.feet-ad

Their collection runs the gamut, having everything from an article linking coffee to heart attacks brandishing an ad from Folgers to Google providing “Are you a male virgin?” as a sponsored result to the search query “world of warcraft.” BuzzFeed’s commenters also provided a handful of user-submitted additions to the madness.

Also, if you’re interested in more advertising faux pas, BuzzFeed has compiled 15 examples of poorly-placed billboard advertisements.

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Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Internet Market | Tags: , |

trimbackBy Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad, one of the most popular URL-shortening services, shut down last week because its owners saw no way to monetize the service in such a competitive market. Twitter’s choice of as its default link-shrinker means that service dominates the market, with smaller players like abd fighting over what’s left. has its supporters, though, and they apparently contacted’s owners, Nambu, in such high numbers that the service has now re-opened. Creating new links seems to work fine, and all of your old URLs should be right where you left them.

Was this whole thing a publicity stunt, intended to bring greater visibility to Nambu says no.

They’re still looking to sell so it can live on, but not to “an unknown group or individual” who might compromise users’ existing links in some way. I believe that this wasn’t a publicity stunt, although there’s little doubt it brought the service quite a bit of extra attention.

Nambu just seems to have realized that they had little to gain by shutting down abruptly with a message that basically claimed was practically worthless. The overwhelming user response seems to have made Nambu realize that’s no way to sell something.

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Now on Twitter, Facebook, 65-Year-Old Smokey the Bear Is Young at Heart

Posted on August 12, 2009. Filed under: Internet Market | Tags: , , , |

 Nearly everyone is familiar with the big, brown, fuzzy bear who reminds us that “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

 The U.S. Forest Service mascot celebrates his 65th birthday in August 2009.smokey the bear

(ABC News Photo Illustration)

The sweet, but serious Smokey, also known as Smokey the Bear, is America’s most well-known wildfire prevention icon, and today, people across the nation are honoring Smokey on his 65th birthday.

The U.S. Forest Service mascot represents one of the longest running public service announcement campaigns in U.S. history and has taken his popularity to a new level.

Now, kids can interact with Smokey and the Forest Service through interactive games and programs on the USFS Web site.

Smokey also has a fan page on Facebook with more than 7,000 fans. Several Smokey the Bear groups are also sprinkled throughout Facebook, such as “I Support Smokey the Bear” and the “Smokey the Bear Fan Club.”

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µTorrent 2.0 beta released

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad

Ubuntu netbook

The latest stable version of the popular Bittorrent client µTorrent is version 1.83. But the developers decided that the next major release packed in too much to simply call it µTorrent 1.9, so the next version will be called version 2.0. And µTorrent 2.0 beta is already available for download.

The update brings:

  • Support for UDP trackers, a new protocol for BitTorrent trackers that uses less CPU power on the tracker end
  • Improved setup dialog with built-in speed test
  • Transfer Cap options that help you track and control how much data you transfer (which helps if your ISP caps your data transfer rates)

The beta is only available for Windows at the moment. The latest version of µTorrent for OS X is

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OMG Yahoo Gets For Cheap

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Tech News | Tags: , , |

By MG Siegler, Tech crunch

Yahoo has been active in the domain buying and selling space the past few months. Today, it was revealed to be the buyer of, which sold last week for $80,000, according to Domain Name Wire.

It’s a great domain, and a really, really great price especially considering the image-centric it has called yes, OMG. (Note: I had no idea it actually existed, at least partially because it didn’t have the domain — well, and also cause I’m not into celebrity gossip. But supposedly, it’s big.)

Of course, Yahoo has a history of obtaining good domain names and doing nothing or next to nothing with them. It sold in June for $380,000 after sitting on it for many years. It also sold to WordPress parent Automattic in April of this year.

Given the numbers for recent sales, it does seem like Yahoo scooped for a bargain basement price. As we said, it sold for $380,000, which also seemed cheap at the time when you compare it to something like, which sold for $3 million in June. And in February, sold for $5.1 million.

Sure, “OMG” is not even really a word, but it has become a common phrase in pop culture and would seem to be worth more than $80K in a world where sells for $3M — especially since it’s only 3 letters.

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Ubuntu Netbook Remix gets an interface overhaul

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Notebook, Tech News | Tags: |

Ubuntu netbook

The folks at Canonical are in the process of redesigning the user interface for Ubuntu Netbook Remix. UNR is basically a custom version of Ubuntu that includes optimizations for netbooks with Intel Atom processors as well as a desktop environment and program launcher designed for computers with small, low resolution displays.

The first version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix introduced a few key concepts. By default, all program windows opened up in full screen. And instead of a typical desktop and start menu approach, you had a list of application categories on the right side of the screen, program shortcuts with big icons in the middle, and a list of places on the right side.

The new version eliminates the toolbars on the right side of the screen to give you more space for program shortcuts. Instead, the places menu has been integrated with the right-side panel. There’s also a slightly refined color scheme, and it’s easier to add program shortcuts to your Favorites area.

The updated version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix should be ready in time for the launch of Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala in October. You can get an early peek by downloading the pre-release version of the operating system. Make sure to select the ISO labeled “netbook remix.”

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Facebook Flips The Switch On Real-Time Search, Goes After Twitter Where It Hurts

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Facebook News | Tags: , , |

By Jason Kincaid, Tech crunch


Just hours after we broke the news that Facebook had acquired FriendFeed comes Facebook’s announcement that it’s deploying its improved search product to everyone. This improved search functionality, which has been in testing since June, gives users the ability to search through shared media and status updates from their friends and the Pages they follow. And, perhaps more importantly, it lets users search through updates shared to ‘everyone’. The gloves are off — Facebook is going after Twitter where it hurts.

The new search will be a breath of fresh air to anyone who has previously tried to search Facebook for, well, anything. Under the old system, users had to browse through clunky categories to find their results, and there wasn’t a way to search though status updates or shared items at all. Now you’ll be able to simply click through different tabs on the left side of the page to jump between different categories, much as your would jump between Friends List on the Facebook News Feed. Another change is the way Facebook lets users ‘Search The Web’ — now these results are shown as a filter, rather than on their own page. And Facebook has also changed the search engine from to Bing, Microsoft’s rebranded and improved search engine.

These changes are especially important because search has long been one area where Facebook fell well behind Twitter. Twitter Search has become an amazing tool for finding the most up-to-date information on a variety of topics, including everything from breaking news to movie reviews. Facebook has slowly been making headway in this area by allowing users to share status updates with ‘everyone‘ (before that only your friends could see status updates). But until now there hasn’t been an easy way to actually search through those public updates, which made the feature useless to most people.

Now you’ll be able to jump over to Facebook search, click ”Posts By Everyone” and use it in much the same way you would use Twitter Search. You’ll see a list of matching updates from other users on Facebook, and a message at the top of the screen will update in real-time, alerting you as new updates containing your query come in.

For the time being it looks like Facebook isn’t promoting the feature too heavily — the ‘Posts By Everyone’ is the last item in the list of search filters, and I suspect that Facebook has relatively few users who are sharing their updates with the public in the first place. That will likely change soon though, as Facebook is planning to roll out a new suite of privacy options that will suggest that users begin sharing some of their data publicly.

Facebook’s 250+ million active users still dwarfs Twitter’s userbase, so even if only a small fraction of them begin using these new features, it won’t be hard for Facebook to become a serious contender in the real-time search race.

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Fast forward to 4.0 with a new Firefox theme

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Internet, Tech News | Tags: , |

By Lee Mathews, Downloadsquad

Mozilla firefox

Not long ago a DeviantArt user put together a Firefox 3/3.5 theme based on Mozilla’s concept for Firefox 3.7. Want to go the extra .3 and jump ahead to version 4? Take a look at Strata40.

By using the them in conjunction with a few Firefox addons – All Glass, Personal Menu, Fission, Omnibar, and Stylish – and following some lengthy but simple instructions you’ll have yet another slick, futuristic look for your browser. The complete rundown is available on SpewBoy’s DevArt page. I didn’t adhere strictly to the 4.0 look (I added bookmarks and downloads buttons), but you’re free to tweak the layout to your liking.

As before, don’t forget to change the FF window title text using Titlebar Tweak or Nightly Tester Tools to make the illusion even more believable. You’ll need NTT anyway to get the theme working on Firefox 3.6, so you may as well have some fun with it.

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Dell to launch China-only mobile phone after all, calls it “Ophone mini3i”

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Mobile World | Tags: , , |

By Serkan Toto, Tech crunch

We broke the news on Dell launching a China-only cell phone on Sunday, and today major Chinese news portal reports the device is on its way: What Dell will be offering in China is an Android-powered “Ophone” called the mini3i.

China Mobile, the world’s biggest carrier, will distribute the device and plans to launch it as early as “in the middle of this month” (which could mean any day this week). China Mobile plans to establish Ophone as a new brand and sell a number of devices from different makers under it. Apart from Dell, Lenovo and another Chinese company called Dopod [CN] (aka HTC) are expected to release Ophones in the next few days.

All Ophones will support TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), a China-only 3G standard, which means it will be hard to get the Dell Ophone to work outside China.

No updates yet on Dell China’s or China Mobile’s (Chinese) site. We’ll bring you pictures and specs of the mini3i as soon as we get them.

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BatteryCare provides detailed laptop battery info

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Tech News | Tags: |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad


Sure, Windows will do a decent job of estimating how much juice is left in your laptop battery and let you adjust your power management settings accordingly. But BatteryCare goes a few steps further, by providing you with information like the battery’s total capacity, voltage, CPU temperature, and manufacturer, if the information is available.

The program also tracks your battery’s discharge cycle. After a certain number of partial discharges, a notification pops up recommending you completely discharge the battery to optimize performance.

You can also use BatteryCare to automatically adjust your laptop power plan. For instance, it could switch to the home/office profile when plugged in, and the portable/laptop power pan when you unplug the laptop.

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Delicious Creator Quietly Launches Threaded Twitter Conversations

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Twitter News | Tags: , , |

By MG Siegler, Tech crunch

Joshua Schachter is best known as the creator of Delicious. But a few years after he sold it to Yahoo in 2005, he left the company and joined Google. Since then, he’s been known to speak his mind about Delicious’ overall direction (which he doesn’t seem to like), and it’s pretty clear that he still has the desire to create. And that’s exactly what he did tonight, quietly launching a new service he’s developed called a tiny thread.Twitter

The idea is simple, take tweets and thread them together to form conversations, adding context. This works by using the a tiny thread site to both start new conversation threads, and add your comments to old ones. After authenticating via OAuth, your comment is then sent back to Twitter, with a link back to the a tiny thread conversation page.

The site’s look is sparse (not entirely unlike early Delicious), but it’s very easy to follow conversations. You can see a good example thread here. Right now, the threads only go one level deep, so it actually very much resembles a FriendFeed comment section. FriendFeed, was of course just bought today by Facebook, and its future is uncertain.

Other sites have attempted to thread tweets together in the past, but the results vary because of things like retweets that either break threads or add too much noise. Right now, it appears you can only add to these a tiny thread conversations on the site itself, so it works pretty well. But when you send the tweet back to Twitter, it just reads, “I joined a thread: is this thing on?” followed by a link to a tiny thread. It might be more interesting if it said what you actually said in the thread, enticing people to click on the link to read the full context.

It would seem that Schachter, who has been tweeting out links to this for about the past hour or so, did this on his own time, rather than his Google 20% time. Again, it’s extremely simple, but kind of interesting — especially in a post-FriendFeed acquisition world.


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Apple Planning Some Super Secret Social App?

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Apple | Tags: , , |

iFriendfeedBy MG Siegler, Tech crunch

Again, this is nothing but a very vague rumor for the time being, but it’s also very interesting. Following up on its iTunes 9 rumors, Boy Genius Report claims to have new details from the same trusted source about what iTunes 9, and specifically the social aspects of it, will entail.

As expected, the tipster says you’ll be able to broadcast songs you’re listening to out to various social networks. But the really interesting thing is the reference to some new social application that Apple is supposedly getting ready to launch. It’s not clear at all if this would be a desktop app or an iPhone app, but it is said to be something that consolidates your various social networking activity from around the web into one place.

Is Apple planning a FriendFeed-killer after Facebook has already essentially killed FriendFeed? That would certainly give the team a good reason to sell, if they caught wind of that. But who knows, it could be anything, or it could very well be nothing. Hopefully we all know by now how rumors, especially Apple rumors, work.

Regardless of what Apple has in store, if there are social elements added to iTunes, it will be a big move for the company. Right now, they basically have absolutely no social strategy beyond a bit of Facebook and Flickr integration in iPhoto. And yes, there are plenty of apps that use Facebook Connect, but that has basically nothing to do with Apple itself.

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Hot Gloo: web-based wireframing for information architects

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Jay Hathaway, Downloadsquad


Hot Gloo is an online wireframing tool designed with information architects in mind. The heart of the app is a palette of the main site elements IAs use in wireframes every day. The elements can be easily positioned and resized by dragged, making Hot Gloo a cinch to use. Throw in the ability to share your designs with clients via the web, and this app could the wireframer’s new best friend.

You can add multiple users for collaboration, too, either as editors or reviewers. The ability to add comments to any part of your work helps you explain things to clients effectively. The full featureset will be active During Hot Gloo’s fee beta period, with one exception: you only get 3 projects and 5 people. This should be enough to get a feel for the app before it’s completely finished, but the sharing limit means Hot Gloo is not the kind of beta product you can immediately start using professionally.

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Hands-on with the Zune HD

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Gadget News | Tags: , |

By Peter Ha, Tech crunch


Can Microsoft’s latest Zune, the Zune HD, take down the king? It depends on which king you’re talking about. As it stands, the iPod Touch is a whole different beast because of the App Store. What Microsoft has done with the Zune HD is nothing short of spectacular, but who is it really competing with? My BlackBerry can play videos and show me pictures taken on a recent trip. The HTC Hero and/or myTouch 3G can stream music from the likes of or Slacker. I can download MP3s from my iPhone. Everything the Zune HD does, I’ve been able to do with a slew of different devices that I already own.

You see, the features that the Zune team has been touting don’t interest me much. I don’t really care to see an artist’s bio, their pictures or anything of that nature. Sure, the modified IE browser is nice and works great, but I want to know how deeply integrated the Zune HD is going to be with other Microsoft devices like the Xbox 360. I don’t need to fork over extra cash for an HD dock to stream 720p content onto my TV. I can already do that through my Xbox 360, FiOS and whatever content is stored on my NAS. Tell me what the plans are for the next six months. Tell me when the damn thing is actually going to launch.

With that being said, please enjoy the short video that I took of the Zune HD in action. One thing I failed to capture was the on-screen keyboard. MS has taken a different twist, which may or may not be unique to the Zune HD, but it’s different than most other on-screen keyboards that I’ve seen. Unlike the iPhone (or any other device that lacks a physical keyboard) when you’re tapping away at the Zune HD’s on-screen keyboard; characters don’t pop up by themselves. Tap a character and its neighboring chums to the right and left will create a small arch with the center character popping up just a little more than the rest. It seemed to work well, but the firmware isn’t final so I’m unable to fully comment.


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20 Great Google Secrets

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Google, Internet Market, SEO | Tags: , , |,4149,1306756,00.asp

excl.gif No Active Links, Read the Rules – Edit by Ninja excl.gif

Google is clearly the best general-purpose search engine on the Web (see

But most people don’t use it to its best advantage. Do you just plug in a keyword or two and hope for the best? That may be the quickest way to search, but with more than 3 billion pages in Google’s index, it’s still a struggle to pare results to a manageable number.

But Google is an remarkably powerful tool that can ease and enhance your Internet exploration. Google’s search options go beyond simple keywords, the Web, and even its own programmers. Let’s look at some of Google’s lesser-known options.

Syntax Search Tricks

Using a special syntax is a way to tell Google that you want to restrict your searches to certain elements or characteristics of Web pages. Google has a fairly complete list of its syntax elements at

. Here are some advanced operators that can help narrow down your search results.

Intitle: at the beginning of a query word or phrase (intitle:”Three Blind Mice”) restricts your search results to just the titles of Web pages.

Intext: does the opposite of intitle:, searching only the body text, ignoring titles, links, and so forth. Intext: is perfect when what you’re searching for might commonly appear in URLs. If you’re looking for the term HTML, for example, and you don’t want to get results such as

, you can enter intext:html.

Link: lets you see which pages are linking to your Web page or to another page you’re interested in. For example, try typing in


Try using site: (which restricts results to top-level domains) with intitle: to find certain types of pages. For example, get scholarly pages about Mark Twain by searching for intitle:”Mark Twain”site:edu. Experiment with mixing various elements; you’ll develop several strategies for finding the stuff you want more effectively. The site: command is very helpful as an alternative to the mediocre search engines built into many sites.

Swiss Army Google

Google has a number of services that can help you accomplish tasks you may never have thought to use Google for. For example, the new calculator feature


lets you do both math and a variety of conversions from the search box. For extra fun, try the query “Answer to life the universe and everything.”

Let Google help you figure out whether you’ve got the right spelling—and the right word—for your search. Enter a misspelled word or phrase into the query box (try “thre blund mise”) and Google may suggest a proper spelling. This doesn’t always succeed; it works best when the word you’re searching for can be found in a dictionary. Once you search for a properly spelled word, look at the results page, which repeats your query. (If you’re searching for “three blind mice,” underneath the search window will appear a statement such as Searched the web for “three blind mice.”) You’ll discover that you can click on each word in your search phrase and get a definition from a dictionary.

Suppose you want to contact someone and don’t have his phone number handy. Google can help you with that, too. Just enter a name, city, and state. (The city is optional, but you must enter a state.) If a phone number matches the listing, you’ll see it at the top of the search results along with a map link to the address. If you’d rather restrict your results, use rphonebook: for residential listings or bphonebook: for business listings. If you’d rather use a search form for business phone listings, try Yellow Search


Extended Googling

Google offers several services that give you a head start in focusing your search. Google Groups


indexes literally millions of messages from decades of discussion on Usenet. Google even helps you with your shopping via two tools: Froogle

which indexes products from online stores, and Google Catalogs

which features products from more 6,000 paper catalogs in a searchable index. And this only scratches the surface. You can get a complete list of Google’s tools and services at

You’re probably used to using Google in your browser. But have you ever thought of using Google outside your browser?

Google Alert


monitors your search terms and e-mails you information about new additions to Google’s Web index. (Google Alert is not affiliated with Google; it uses Google’s Web services API to perform its searches.) If you’re more interested in news stories than general Web content, check out the beta version of Google News Alerts


This service (which is affiliated with Google) will monitor up to 50 news queries per e-mail address and send you information about news stories that match your query. (Hint: Use the intitle: and source: syntax elements with Google News to limit the number of alerts you get.)

Google on the telephone? Yup. This service is brought to you by the folks at Google Labs


a place for experimental Google ideas and features (which may come and go, so what’s there at this writing might not be there when you decide to check it out). With Google Voice Search


you dial the Voice Search phone number, speak your keywords, and then click on the indicated link. Every time you say a new search term, the results page will refresh with your new query (you must have JavaScript enabled for this to work). Remember, this service is still in an experimental phase, so don’t expect 100 percent success.

In 2002, Google released the Google API (application programming interface), a way for programmers to access Google’s search engine results without violating the Google Terms of Service. A lot of people have created useful (and occasionally not-so-useful but interesting) applications not available from Google itself, such as Google Alert. For many applications, you’ll need an API key, which is available free from

. See the figures for two more examples, and visit

for more.

Thanks to its many different search properties, Google goes far beyond a regular search engine. Give the tricks in this article a try. You’ll be amazed at how many different ways Google can improve your Internet searching.

Online Extra: More Google Tips

Here are a few more clever ways to tweak your Google searches.

Search Within a Timeframe

Daterange: (start date–end date). You can restrict your searches to pages that were indexed within a certain time period. Daterange: searches by when Google indexed a page, not when the page itself was created. This operator can help you ensure that results will have fresh content (by using recent dates), or you can use it to avoid a topic’s current-news blizzard and concentrate only on older results. Daterange: is actually more useful if you go elsewhere to take advantage of it, because daterange: requires Julian dates, not standard Gregorian dates. You can find converters on the Web (such as


excl.gif No Active Links, Read the Rules – Edit by Ninja excl.gif

), but an easier way is to do a Google daterange: search by filling in a form at or

. If one special syntax element is good, two must be better, right? Sometimes. Though some operators can’t be mixed (you can’t use the link: operator with anything else) many can be, quickly narrowing your results to a less overwhelming number.

More Google API Applications offers three tools based on the Google API. The Google API Web Search by Host (GAWSH) lists the Web hosts of the results for a given query


When you click on the triangle next to each host, you get a list of results for that host. The Google API Relation Browsing Outliner (GARBO) is a little more complicated: You enter a URL and choose whether you want pages that related to the URL or linked to the URL


Click on the triangle next to an URL to get a list of pages linked or related to that particular URL. CapeMail is an e-mail search application that allows you to send an e-mail to with the text of your query in the subject line and get the first ten results for that query back. Maybe it’s not something you’d do every day, but if your cell phone does e-mail and doesn’t do Web browsing, this is a very handy address to know.

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LiveEdge adds Expose-like hotspots to Windows desktop edges

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Microsoft, Windows | Tags: , |

By Lee Mathews, Downloadsquad


Its author refers to LiveEdge as “a radically simple approach to mouse gestures,” and that’s pretty well bang-on. Install and launch LiveEdge and it adds eight hotspots to the edges of your desktop, each one capable of executing a custom action. To execute, just move your mouse to the appropriate spot and pause for a moment.

I’d like to be able to use the Windows key in the settings, but it’s not an option just yet. Just about every other key on your keyboard is, however. The included help file provides a full listing of the possibilities.

In some apps I run full-screen like Photoshop accidentally triggering a command can be a nuisance. You can toggle LiveEdge on and off with a simple left-click on the taskbar icon if you’re working in a program where you need the entire screen. You can also create as many settings files as you like and roll custom configurations for different scenarios.

Unlike the previous app – Hot Corners – you shouldn’t have to worry about a false positive from your AV software. NoVirusThanks gives LiveEdge a clean bill of health. The .Net 3.5 framework is required, and you need to be running Vista or Windows 7.

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Google unveils Caffeine: Next-generation search tech

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , |

By Brad Linder, Downloadsquad


Google is turning to the public (or rather, web developers) for help testing its next-generation search infrastructure, code-named “Caffeine.” The changes have to do with the way Google crawls the web and indexes content, so you shouldn’t notice any changes int he search engine interface.

In order to try out the new version, visit, and start searching. You can share feedback with Google by hitting the “Dissatisfied? Help us improve” box at the bottom of the page and sending a message with the word “caffeine” in it.

Overall, the search results look pretty similar, but there are a few minor changes. Some items may be ordered a little differently, while the text descriptions of some pages look different.

If you aren’t particularly interested in testing the new technology to help Google out, here’s another reason to give it a try: As far as I can tell, there are no ads on the Caffeine interface. I’ve conducted a few dozen searches, and so far I haven’t seen a single sponsored result. Of course, that’ll change by the time the new code is integrated into Google’s main product. But it’s nice while it lasts.

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Internet Explorer 8 becomes a gentleman today

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Microsoft, Tech News | Tags: , , |

By Lee Mathews, Downloadsquad

Internet Explorer 8

Back in July, Microsoft detailed a few changes that were “coming soon” to the Internet Explorer 8 installer. In a nutshell, the new version was designed to be less…well…presumptuous.

Previously, the installer’s Express mode would automatically set IE as your default browser without so much as an “excuse me.” That’s no longer the case. As stated in the official blog post, “IE will never install, or become the default browser without your explicit consent.”

In a nutshell, if you’re the click-first-and-read-warnings-later type, you no longer have to worry about your browser of choice getting hijacked during a Windows Update-related mishap. The change is all part of Microsoft’s commitment to user choice and control. Stop snickering.

Clearly Microsoft has learned not to make the same mistake as Corbin Dallas.

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