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  • Steven Woda

links for 2009-06-16

Competition on Facebook was fierce late Friday night, as scores of users scrambled to personalize their Facebook pages in what many have likened to a virtual land rush. It’s a land rush Friday night for personal domain names. At exactly 12:01 a.m. ET Saturday, on a first-come, first-served basis, the vast social networking site gave users the green light to claim variations of their names or other nicknames of their choosing. Within three minutes, 200,000 usernames were registered, according to the social media blog Mashable, which covered the registration process live from Facebook’s headquarters Friday night.

(tags: facebook)

Anyone worried that AT&T (NYSE: T) was going to charge a price premium for the ability to send picture and/or video messages can breath easy. AT&T recently noted that it won’t charge more to add the feature. As far as I am concerned, AT&T had zero wiggle room here. Every other carrier offers unlimited messaging — which typically includes text, picture, video and instant messaging — for $20 per month. iPhone users who have unlimited messaging plans today are already paying $20 per month — just for text messages.

In the latest addition to the Android version of Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Maps for Mobile, users can now speak their search queries rather than typing them in. Google also made a bunch of other tweaks that make the overall experience better. Google’s main search product has been voice-enabled for some time. Now, Google has given voice searching powers to its Maps for Mobile product — at least for the Android platform. Basically, when using Google Maps on Android, rather than typing in your search query (a.k.a., “123 Main Street, Anytown, USA”), you can speak the query instead. Google said its voice recognition engine currently understands English in American, Australian, and British accents.

A question: If you have 347 followers on the Twitter microblogging service, what are the chances that they’ll click on the same online ad you clicked on last night? Advertisers are dying to know. Or, say you and a colleague exchange e-mails on a Saturday night. Can managers assume that you have a tight working relationship? Researchers at IBM and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are investigating. Friendships aren’t what they used to be. We now have tools, from e-mail to social networks, to keep in touch with people who a decade ago would have drifted into distant memories. Practically every hand we shake and every business card we exchange can lead to an invitation, sometimes within minutes, for a “friendship” on LinkedIn or Facebook. And unless we sever them, these ties could linger for the rest of our lives.

Many original iPhone adopters have their contracts ending this summer and many others are simply looking to take the plunge on a new smartphone. There’s never been as many solid choices in smartphone market than there are right now with the new Palm Pre and iPhone 3G S, plus the Google Android G1, the Nokia N97, the BlackBerry Bold, and the BlackBerry Curve 8900., which runs a Web site dedicated to helping consumers save money on their every day bills, has put together an excellent chart (see below) comparing the features and total cost of the iPhone 3G S, Palm Pre, and Google Android G1.

The imminent arrival of Apple’s new iPhone 3G S and the new iPhone 3.0 software has stirred excitement among iPhone users and iPhone developers. But iPhone developers, enticed by tales of earning $600,000 in a single month, should face the fact that such breakout success stories are the exception rather than the rule. To use a phrase popular among other online observers who have weighed in on the subject: Don’t quit your day job.

The big news in insurance today comes out of Hartford, Conn. where The Hartford Financial Services Group announced that CEO Ramani Ayer is set to retire by the end of the year. At first glance, the announcement was curiously timed as just yesterday Ayer was reelected to the company’s board of directors during the company’s annual shareholders meeting. Then again, Ayer was also blasted during that same meeting — by the only shareholder in attendance who chose to speak during the question and answer session, according to the Hartford Business Journal.

(tags: hartford)

Hackers who attack defence or commercial computers in the US and UK in future may be in for a surprise: a counterattack, authorised and carried out by the police and defence agencies that aims to disrupt and even knock them off the net. The secret plans, prompted by the explosion in the number of computer-crime incidents from east Asia targeting commercially or politically sensitive information, are known as “strikeback”, and are intended to target hackers’ computers and disrupt them, in some cases involving denial of service attacks.

(tags: Security)

At times it feels like the ad industry is constantly besieged by bad news: Budgets are getting trimmed, mass audiences are splintering into niches, display ad click-through rates are at all-time lows and no one has figured out the social-media equation just yet. Couple that with an increasingly cluttered and information-saturated marketplace and it’s no wonder advertisers and agencies are constantly looking for new strategies and approaches. Funny then how few have looked to Mozilla and Firefox for guidance. The tiny nonprofit Mozilla Corp., whose open-source Firefox web browser has 22.51% of the market and is the second-most-popular browser behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, practices grass-roots marketing at its finest.

It’s not every day that you see tech executives and government officials hobnobbing while sipping a Malware Mojito or Cloud Martini, and snacking on Phishing Tacos and Silicon Valley Sliders. That was the scene last Wednesday at TechAmerica’s reception held at the Mayflower Hotel. Attendees could flit between the “Cloud Computing Cafe” and the “Cyber Security Lounge” while discussing government opportunities for technology firms. Vint Cerf, chief Internet evangelist for Google, who’s also called the “father of the Internet,” was the keynote speaker, though it was tough to hear him over the chatter in the room.

(tags: technology)

When Apple Inc. launched an updated iPhone at its annual gathering of software developers last June, its biggest competitor was the iPhone that Apple had introduced the year before. That won’t be the case at this year’s conference, which opens Monday. Now the next version of Apple’s touch-screen phone has to outdo a slew of rival gadgets — including one that comes out this weekend — that emulate or improve on some of the iPhone’s best features. Much is riding on Apple’s ability to appear well ahead of its competitors. Apple’s shares have jumped 73 percent since March — even in the absence of revered CEO Steve Jobs, who is on medical leave — largely because of high expectations for the iPhone. Just two years after entering the fray, Apple enjoys a 19.5 percent share of the smart phone market, according to IDC, and investors are betting on a continued run of success.

Just in case you needed another reason to secure your wireless Internet connection: Pedophiles. Gail Hoffmaster was getting her kids ready for school Wednesday morning when state agents knocked on the door of her Falls home. Her first thought was that her husband was dead. The good news was that he was alive – and not a pedophile. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office could’ve thought otherwise, Hoffmaster said. One of their neighbors was allegedly stealing the Hoffmasters’ unsecured wireless Internet connection to solicit sex from an undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old girl.

(tags: Security)

It’s finally here. Android 1.5, otherwise known as Cupcake. InformationWeek takes the new Android software — and its new features — out for a spin. Is it truly better? Last week, the HTC G1 I have in my office managed to snag the Android 1.5 firmware update over the air from T-Mobile. The download took about 30 seconds, the install another 30 seconds. That’s painless in my book. Many of Android 1.5’s upgrades are under the hood and don’t play an obvious role in day-to-day use of the HTC G1. There are several new features that stand out, however, including the new software keyboard, voice search, tighter YouTube integration, and overall feel of the user interface.

I hate to be a whiny blogger — I know; are there any other kind? — but with news swirling that Apple is set to call its third-generation funky mobile device the iPhone Video, what can I say except I told you so? Back in February, I was first to uncover hints about video, in a patent document, and posted the news in Apple Planning Video-Call iPhone. Eric Zeman summarizes the chatter about what Apple is going to call the third-generation iPhone that’s expected to be unveiled at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which begins Monday. (Thanks, Eric, for credit my February in post.) What I’m going to do is pretty much reprise my post which speculated on Apple’s video plans. Although it’s four months old, I don’t think it’ll be that much off the mark, come next week. So here goes:

(tags: apple iphone)

Jim Basara of Falls Church came up with an idea to offer luxury goods over the Internet. As an executive and amateur musician, he wanted to be able to rent a nice guitar that would be waiting for him at his hotel while he was on the road. When he couldn’t find such a business, he started his own. Guitar Affair lets enthusiasts rent boutique and high-end instruments by the week. Consumers pay a one-time fee, and then pay each time they want a guitar sent to their home or a hotel. If they like the instrument, they can buy it.

Microblogging site Twitter has the potential to be a powerful marketing and brand-building tool for ecommerce businesses interested in engaging their customers and being part of a community. But successful marketing on Twitter, or any microblogging site, requires more than just posting tweets about your newest products. Rather, it takes commitment to and honest interest in the things that matter to your potential customers. Recently, I had the opportunity to see a presentation from Mike Volpe, Vice President of Marketing at HubSpot, about successful marketing on Twitter. Using one of Mr. Volpe tweeting techniques, I contacted him and got some advice specific to ecommerce. So, in this edition of “Ecommerce Know-How,” I will (1) share some of Volpe’s basic steps to getting more follows, (2) describe what you should tweet about, and (3) make some suggestions regarding retweets (tweeting about other users’ tweets) and gaining more followers.

Your answers to the following eight important questions were chosen from over 30 questions used in analyzing a business’s odds of success. Whether you’re just starting up or you’ve been in business for a while, this calculator can help you better understand your odds of success and how to improve them. The results are based on real-world data gathered by our partner, EquityNet, from over 500,000 small businesses across America.

In March, the organizers of a computer-security conference called CanSecWest challenged attendees to break into any one of five smart phones, among them Apple’s popular iPhone. The perceived difficulty of the task–especially breaking into the iPhone–meant that few researchers made any attempt to hack the devices, and none succeeded. Now two researchers hope to make things considerably easier for would-be iPhone hackers. Next month, Charles Miller, a principal analyst at Independent Security Evaluators, and Vincenzo Iozzo, a student at the University of Milan, in Italy, will present a way to run nonapproved code on Apple’s mobile device at the Black Hat Security Conference, in Las Vegas.

When Guy Kawasaki talks about business innovation, as he did recently at a University of Pennsylvania technology conference, he brings more than 25 years of major-league experience to the conversation — a background that the good-humored investor and entrepreneur calls “my checkered past.” After getting a psychology degree at Stanford and an MBA at UCLA, the Hawaii-born Kawasaki became the second software “evangelist” at Apple Computer, where his job from 1983 to 1987 was to convince people to create software for the Macintosh. Kawasaki fondly recalls his colleagues at Apple as visionary, driven and “arguably the greatest collection of egomaniacs in the history of California — though the record has subsequently been broken by Google.”

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