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| Sunday, December 17, 2006

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The transfer of this site to franticindustries.com is now complete. The switch to Wordpress has been relatively painless, and almost all of the content has been transfered to the new site - except the comments, sorry.

The RSS feed should be automatically transfered to the new location.

Please point your bookmarks to the new site, as this site will no longer be updated. Thank you.






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0 comments | Friday, December 15, 2006

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Microsoft.com received a complete redesign, featuring lots of unused space and less clutter (that's good), no tables (that's also good), and, most importantly, a menu that gives you quick access to all Microsoft products and services.

Microsoft's pages have mostly been hell in the last couple of years. The homepage itself wasn't bad, but god help you if you tried actually finding some precise info about a Microsoft product or service.

Since Microsoft's pages are a never ending jungle of tutorials, help articles, technological explanations, updates and whatnot, I don't reckon they've actually managed to set all that in order. But, at least the new home page is clean and pretty. And, they've added a menu which at least points you in the right (general) direction - on the upper right side of the page you know choose between "Products and related technologies", "Downloads and trials", Using Microsoft products", "Security and Updates", "Training and events", "Support" and "About Microsoft". Click on "Products" and you actually get info on all Microsoft products in one place. Well, almost - each link leads you to a part of the old Microsoft site, but at least it's all there in one place. Finally - less confusion, less noise, more actual info.

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There aren't many sites big enough that they can say something like "iPhone will be launched on monday. It's completely different than what we expected" and have people actually pay attention. Gizmodo is one of them, and since they can't afford being dead wrong on news like this, I guess we'll all have to believe them.

As far as iPhone hype goes, I never rode the bandwagon. The cell phone market is a completely different beast than the MP3 player market, and same rules do not apply here.

Although (for some strange reason) none of Apple's competitors in the multimedia player market managed to create an equally intuitive user interface, when it comes to cell phone UIs, Nokia, Sony Ericsson and others call the shots - and people who use cell phones - and that's pretty much all people - are used to their UIs. So, fancy touchwheels won't be much help here.

Furthermore, while iPod is popular all over the world, Apple is strong only in the US. Here's an example. In Croatia, where I live, I reckon 3 out of 10 people on the street would know what an iPod is, but maybe 1 in 20 would know what Apple or a Mac is and what they do. On the other hand, they all know what Nokia is. Croatian market is a small one, but this is indicative for all other eastern-european countries. So, I reckon, while it may not be the case in the US, that the rest of the world might react to the news of iPhone rather mildly.

There are also those pesky things called mobile operators, which kinda own much of the cell phone market right now. Apple has to reach an agreement with them, because if they don't support the iPhone, including it in their device+subscription cheap bundles, it will be a lot harder for iPhone to get wide acceptance.

If you ask me, the multimedia-player-meets-cell-phone functionality is where Apple needs to make a breakthrough. Althouth all big cell phone manufacturers have multimedia capabilities in their products, none of them has been able to really nail it down perfectly yet. Photo functionality? Sure. Video recording? Yes. Occasional MP3 listening/video playing? Well, sometimes, but not really. If iPhone manages to offer a good cell phone with great multimedia player capabilities (and I mean great, not just good enough), it might have a chance of a big worldwide impact.

All this said, let's wait for monday and see if Gizmodo was right about the launch in the first place.

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Adobe has released a beta version of Photoshop CS3, sporting some interesting changes, most notably the one-column toolbar.

Photoshop CS3 beta is shippped with a a pre-release version of a major upgrade to Adobe Bridge, and a new tool integrated in CS3 called Adobe Device Central, which enables you to optimize your content for devices with smaller screens.

If you want to give CS3 beta a test run, you need a serial number from either Adobe Photoshop CS2, Adobe Creative SuiteĀ® 2, Adobe Creative Suite Production Studio, Adobe Design Bundle, Adobe Web Bundle or Adobe Video Bundle, and you can download Adobe Photoshop CS3 here.

I haven't gotten my hands on CS3 just yet, but you can read a review of the new features in this article. The most interesting change seems to be the new user interface with the all-new one-column toolbar, which - luckily for people that don't like change in their life - can be reverted to the standard two-column version. I'm also quite excited about the new Quick Select Tool, which makes selecting objects from a background much easier.

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Nintendo decided to recall all of the hand straps delivered with their Wii console because of user complaints that the strap simply isn't strong enough.



I hope this news doesn't spur as much controversy as the Sony battery recall, because it simply isn't worth it. Nintendo weighed the options they have, and they decided that the best thing to do is to recall the straps and replace them with better ones. Good move.

According to Nintendo, the recall will not cause a big financial loss for them.

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There's no sense postponing the inevitable. After a month-long experimental phase, franticindustries is moving to its own server and web domain - www.franticindustries.com. Don't go there just yet - there's nothing on at the moment. The move will be done on Saturday/Sunday, so don't expect too many updates over that period.

Hopefully, all the links to articles on franticindustries.blogspot.com will be redirected to the new domain. The RSS feed at feeds.feedburner.com/Franticindustries should also automatically start pointing to the new website.

In case of any bugs, or weird behaviour of the site, don't hesitate to contact me at franticindustries@gmail.com.

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0 comments | Thursday, December 14, 2006

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New service from Google lets you search the entire text of the U.S. patent corpus (that's over 7 million patents), together with images.

Google Patent search lets you search by criteria - patent number, inventor, and filing date. It is similar to Google Book Search, which means that you can scroll through pages and zoom in on the text and images.

I've tried it out and got several server-not-responding errors, which were probably just coincidence. Other than that, it works fine, and will surely be an invaluable resource to all those folks who think that immeasurable wealth is just one patent away. I've immediately tried searching for a "Car seat with integrated side light", and - damn! - it already exists. So much for my dreams of wealth and glory.

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Techcrunch UK, the United Kingdom + Ireland arm of the popular Web 2.0 blogging authority Techcrunch, has been put on hold and its editor, Sam Sethi, is fired by Mike Arrington, the owner of all things Crunch.

Problems arose from Sam Sethi's negative (and kind of half-assed, if I may add) comment on the Le Web3 conference, which spurred some insults from the conference organizer Loic Le Meur. Sethi fired back by trying to make Loic look like a jerk in front of everyone, although Loic had apologized, and Mike had specifically asked Sam not to do that. So, Sam gets fired. It's basically your standard editorial stuff, happens every day in journalism. You can read Mike's account of the whole incident here.

This will all be very well covered by, well, everyone, so I hope you'll forgive me if I give a bit of a personal commentary myself.

I'm not saying that Mike was wrong or right, but this type of thing is exactly why blogs should never become big business. When you have one guy behind the computer, working on his blog, then his only concern is quality of content. On the other hand, when you have ten or more websites, dozens of people working for you, conference organizers calling you because they didn't like your post, and, ultimately, hundreds of blogs writing about your decision to fire someone, then you're no longer a blog; you're a business, and we all know that business don't only think about quality of content.

This is not to be taken as an attack on Techcrunch or Mike Arrington; it's just my view on the advantages simple blogs have over traditional journalism. Working professionally in IT journalism for over three years, I very well know that you have to compromise all the time. You're doing a laptop test? If you say (it's just an example) that all Toshiba laptops are crap, Toshiba won't advertise with you any more. It's what happens - it's reality in IT journalism. That's why people write blogs, that's why people READ blogs. Because bloggers can truly write what they really think.

Looking back at Sam Sethi's comment on the Le Web3 conference, from a professional, IT journalist point of view - it's bad. It's short, it's not really objective, it makes things look worse than they are (The wifi for the event did not work and this has annoyed many people - that's your main argument for the whole event being horrible?). But from a blogger's point of view, it's perfectly OK. The guy came to the conference, it was boring, Wi-Fi didn't work, soda was warm, whatever.

So, even if Mike Arrington doesn't consider himself to be a pro journalist, firing Sam was a real pro journalist move he had to make. Welcome to the club.

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0 comments | Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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Google has announced the release of the beta 3 version of Google Toolbar for Firefox, which sports some really interesting options.

Among other things, the new Google toolbar lets you share pages via Blogger, Gmail and SMS, and add custom buttons to your Toolbar, and share web pages via Blogger, Gmail, and SMS.

But the most important feature which might make me a user (I'm not a big fan of any extra toolbars in Firefox because they take away my precious screen space, so I don't use Google Toolbar) is this: it now lets you access your bookmarks from any computer. Finally, an end to the torments of having two different sets of bookmarks at work and at home.

Get Google Toolbar here.

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7 comments | Tuesday, December 12, 2006

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New social content websites are appearing every day, but I don't see any of them gaining a really big following. I've done a little research to find if there is a secret ingredient that can make a new social content website successful.

If you've compare the traffic of the big 5 social news sites - Digg, Reddit, Care2, Netscape and Shoutwire, like I did in my Top 5 social news sites roundup, you can see that the top 2 are growing. Care2 seems to be slowly losing momentum, Netscape's real quality traffic is indistinguishable from the huge amount of traffic they get on their name alone, while Shoutwire seems to stall (and if they keep having 2-3 days old articles on the front page, they'll probably start plummeting pretty soon).

But what about the newcomers? Are there still some cookies left for them, or have the big ones scooped the entire bowl, leaving only scraps for the little sites? Unfortunately, it seems so.

As you can see by this fantastic list over at 3Spots, there's more than enough new social content services around, and new ones are probably being created every day. But a quick Alexa check shows that not only are most of these sites poorly visited (which isn't that surprising, given that they're, well, new), but their traffic doesn't have a strong tendency of going up - it mostly just stalls with occasional peaks when news of these sites appear on Digg or some other big site.

Still, careful examination of these sites can give us some valuable info on what works and what doesn't in the social news arena.

First of all, let's divide these sites into some broad categories so we can notice the trends easier. Bear in mind that, for simplicity's sake, I'm leaving out many new somewhat similar services like Spotback, Megite, or Tailrank, and focusing only on the more or less "standard" social content websites.

1. English Digg-like social news sites. This means sites which cover a broad range of categories, and are in concept similar to Digg, with standard browse-submit-vote-comment functionality. This includes Pligg sites, which aren't that much different from Digg, but tend to be similar between each other.
2. English specific social news sites. These are sites with functionality similar to Digg, but instead of covering all possible topics, they focus on one category.
3. Non-English social news sites. From Meneame to Fresqui.com, these are the sites that cater to the social news needs in a language other than English.

I've extracted the Alexa traffic data for all of the sites on 3spots list (yes, all of them), and I've compiled a list of top 5 sites for these three categories. (*I've excluded pornography sites, because I their rate of success probably depends on vastly different factors than other sites. I've also excluded the five big sites I've covered in my recent article.).

In the first category, the list is:

1. Newsvine.com - traffic stalling
2. Blinkbits.com - medium growth
3. Hubpages.com - medium growth
4. Thebeststuffintheworld.com - medium growth
5. Wikio.com - slow growth




The second category looks like this:

1. Flurl.com - theme: videos, slow fall
2. QJ.net - theme: gaming, slow growth
3. Dzone.com - theme: developers, medium growth
4. Bestweekever.tv/ble/ - theme: TV, slow growth
5. Bad.webpagesthatsuck.com - theme: bad web sites, medium growth







NB: at this point between 50 and 100 in Alexa's charts you can find as much as 50 new topic-specific social content websites. I'll name some of the ones that are doing well: dogster.com, videosift.com, indianpad.com, blosker.com, dealigg.com.

In the third category, instead of making a top list I decided to just randomly pull out some of the big growers, as it is difficult to me to discern which of these sites get most of their traffic from the social news component and which get it from completely different sources (btw, the obvious winner is Meneame.net):

- Meneame.net - fast growth
- Fresqui.com - fast growth
- Fuzz.fr - slow growth
- Overmundo.com.br - medium growth
- Mywowo.com - traffic stalling
- Wykop.pl - slow growth







So, what have we learned from this exercise? The top 5 lists might not show all that much, but sifting through all of the websites I've learned a lot.

1. There is no viral growth. If you make a social news website, do not expect exponential growth or a boom of new users overnight. Like any other website, the users you get are the users interested in your topic(s), they will only stick if you have quality content, and you have to fight for every one of them.

2. Growth is hard to come by at all. Of all the sites mentioned here, only about a third is actually growing at a noticeable rate. Moreover, huge spikes (probably from Digg or Slashdot traffic) didn't help them at all, the traffic almost universally goes back to the same volume as before the spike.

2a. Non-English websites are the only ones that are universally experiencing growth.

3. Specific topics don't do much better than general topics. This came as a huge surprise to me, as I was pretty certain I'll see a pattern of growth amongst websites that cover specific topics. But, lo and behold, there aren't many that made it big. However, there's definitely more specific-topic sites appearing, and they have a tendency to grow - up to a point. My conclusion here is this: if you have a big web portal or a service behind you with an established community and lots of traffic, you might do well with a site that covers a broad area of interest. If you're a startup, go with a very specific topic.

3a. Technology news are not dominating, nor is any other specific topic.

4. Websites in other languages do much better than English-based websites. However, I think that this is simply due to language barrier winning over Digg. It means that non-English users, if given an alternative, will rather use a good Digg clone in their own language than Digg itself. Consequences of this are easy to predict: if a country doesn't have its own Digg yet, go ahead and make one; you'll do well. But if a good Digg-like site exists and has at least decent traffic already, then it's the same as fighting against Digg itself.

4b. Social news sites are most popular among the Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese population.

5. Technology, design and approach DO matter. Sites that are more technologically advanced, better designed, or have an original approach, tend to do better than run-of-the-mill Digg clones. Examples of this are Newsvine, and thebeststuffintheworld.com. This might seem natural, but on the Internet design and technology often yield to virality and content; just remember MySpace.

Conclusion:

The prospect for upcoming social news websites is grim. It seems that it takes a combination of an interesting specific topic, great design and functionality, and an original approach to achieve at least moderate popularity. And even then there's a chance your website will just stall at the same traffic volume for months, and maybe years, before it finally shuts down. There's still some room for growth if your website is non-english and/or covering a specific geographic area. Of course, I cannot rule out that some ingenious site will show up and take the world by storm, but from what I've seen in this research, none of the newcomers show signs of greatness.

The way I see it, the concept of social content websites does not work on its own - except in rare cases of Digg and Reddit. It's a great addition to a website that already has good content, or plans to build good content in the future, but it's definitely not driving growth by itself. For now, the Digg effect seems to be reserved for Digg only; the future lies somewhere else.

*Disclaimer: the data used for the comparisons in this article are taken from Alexa and need not be correct or exact. Furthermore, I did not use any exact statistical means of comparing data; all comparisons in the article are my own interpretation of Alexa's data and many other individual factors.

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A social news service was launched today at Wikio.com (together with versions for Spain and Germany at Wikio.es and Wikio.de). Wikio was already live and quite active in France and Italy, where they have around 700.000 users altogether. I tried out the service and while I can't say it's bad, it failed to really impress me.

Social news (if you're wondering, I've changed my terminology from community news to social news. It relates better to social networking and social bookmarking) sites cannot succed with the "standard" design and the "standard" features anymore - unless they have a lot of traffic from another source already, like Netscape and Care2.

I've tried out what Wikio has to offer, and I have to conclude it's just that - a standard, run-of-the-mill social news sites. It's not bad by any means (although I have found bugs really quick, more on that later), but it doesn't offer anything really new.

So, a quick rundown of the features:
- you have the standard post, browse, submit, comment functions. Not many news here, except the fact that you can use a bit of advanced formatting in your descriptions, like bold, italic, font color, paragraph positioning etc.
- There are editors, so it's not all completely society-driven. However, the editors aren't really visible as in Netscape.
- no e-mail registration is required to post.
- there are 14 available categories, items are colored according to the category - nice touch.
- tags are also available, which is good. You can browse articles via a tag cloud on the front page
- if you sign in, you have a personalizable page, but there isn't really much you can do here except write some text.

Those were the good points, let's go over the bugs:

- "lastest contributions" should probable be "latest contributions"
- while browsing through latest contributions, you can't choose just one category to browse, which is annoying
- if an article you're trying to publish is already published, you get a message "An article has already been written on this news item. Do you want to comment this article?". First, I'd like to see the article immediately, so I can compare it with mine. Secondly, when you do try to click on "comment this article", you get a HTTP Status 500 error.

All in all, these minor bugs will probably soon be ironed, and they're not the main problem of the service. Wikio's biggest problem is that it simply doesn't offer enough novelty to separate itself from many other similar sites. What it does it does relatively well, but there are other, bigger sites that do it better. Furthermore, it has a broad, general scope, with standard categories, which will probably make it harder for them to create a solid and devoted user-base. Wikio.com will probably drive some traffic from its international sites, but will it be enough to make an impact? We'll see.

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Google blatantly stole a design template from Yahoo for their get IE7 campaign. It wouldn't be a big deal if they had just used Microsoft's template, but it's pretty obvious that they actually stole from Yahoo. Matt Cutts of Google apologizes to Yahoo's designer team, but doesn't forget to point out how Yahoo copied their AdSense template.

To be honest, the fact that big G stole a design for the promotion of a third party product would hardly be newsworthy, but the fact that their design actually has Yahoo's recognizable 'Y' all over it, and badly erased in Photoshop, makes it funny (and worth firing the guy/girl who did it).

What Matt points out about Yahoo stealing their AdSense template, is actually far more important, since this is their original product that makes money. But, it's a little too late to be digging through old design mistakes now; Google will have to take some public beating for their dumb move, and will probably make sure stuff like that doesn't happen again.

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It's no big secret that I'm not really a fan of iPod Shuffle, because to me the absence a feature (in this case, the display) isn't really an advantage. However, if you're gonna do it, at least make it look nice. Apple has done it with its Shuffle, and now iRiver announced S7, a nice little piece of MP3 art.

As far as features go, iRiver S7 connects to the computer via USB 2.0, supports MP3, WMA, ASF and OGG Q10 formats, and it also sports an FM tuner.

Its front side consists entirely of control buttons, and the whole thing is just 30mm long and 9.6mm thick. More pictures at iRiver site.

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0 comments | Monday, December 11, 2006

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New York Times stories now include links that enable users to submit them to community news services, in this case Digg, Newsvine and Facebook.

Seems that even the biggest and the most "traditional" are yielding to the trend of increasing exposure through community news services. Sites like ZDnet and The Register already have them, and now New York Times has also joined in.

However, for some weird reason, they decided not to make direct links to Digg, Newsvine and Facebook but to use popups instead, which will surely annoy many users.

According to this report, NYTimes did this mostly to keep the pace with new trends, but I think that they also realized that additional traffic surely can't hurt them.

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Innovations in the field of USB/firewire hubs aren't really that common, but LaCie thinks different. Their LaCie Huby is one hub you simply have to see.



This gadget is available for quite some time, but I've just noticed it now. LaCie Huby has 4 USB 2.0 ports & 2 FireWire 400 ports, a USB fan, a USB light, a USB extension cable and a FireWire 400 extension cable. Furthermore, it has different-colored lights which light up as you connect devices to the ports.

It looks like...well, just check out the picture. I'm sure it's at least partly aimed at Mac users who will appreciate the clear white lines and the overall coolness of the product.

The price, though, is pretty steep for this type of device - $79.99. You can find the full specifications over at LaCie's site.

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A report commissioned by Microsoft and created by IDC claims that Vista will create 157.000 new jobs in the IT industry and generate $70 billion of revenue.

Basically, what IDC claims to have done here, is compare their standard prediction of IT growth in 2007 and then compare that to their prediction of Vista's impact on the IT market, which they call the "Vista effect".

Among other things, the report claims the following:

- that 60% of growth in Windows-related employment will be driven directly with Windows Vista, which approximates to over 100.000 new jobs (1% of 10.3 million currently employed in the IT industry
- that every dollar of Windows Vista-related revenue Microsoft in 2007 translates to $18 dollars for the entire Windows-related IT industry, which means $70 in revenues

Although IDC clearly states that it has taken into account the growth IT market would achieve without Vista, I'm still not convinced that these numbers have much to do with Vista. The simple fact that there is a new Windows OS coming is what creates these numbers; it has nothing to do with the quality or any feature of the OS itself.

Full report here.

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Every time I see one of Vista's "gadgets" it reminds me of a bad naming decision by Microsoft.

This is not really anything new, but I have to say it: Microsoft's decision to name small specialized desktop applications that show up on Vista's desktop (or Windows Live) "Microsoft Gadgets" is poor for at least two reasons.

1. Everyone else calls these types of applications "widgets". Yahoo's Konfabulator and Apple call it that, why couldn't Microsoft simply adopt the name? They didn't invent anything new, it's the same thing. If copyright issues were involved, they could have invented some variation of the word, or a completely new word - it's what all the new web 2.0 companies do.

2. The word "gadget" already has a widespread meaning in the IT world - an often small mechanical or electronic device with a practical use. Using that name for something completely different only causes confusion.

It's not the end of the world, but it's annoying, it's confusing, and - most importantly - when two different things have the same name, it's harder to distinguish among them when you use search engines. Lesson to software developers: don't try to take over the word.

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2 comments | Sunday, December 10, 2006

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Gmail introduced a new feature called Mail Fetcher, which lets you read mail from other accounts in Gmail. It's a great feature, and Gmail has already been declared perfect because of it, but let's not get too enthusiastic yet

This great new feature (currently available to only a small fraction of Gmail users) enables you to use only Gmail for all your e-mail purposes, which is great. Gmail, which is in my opinion already the best web-based e-mail client, just got a little better.

However, I don't think it's time to call it 'perfect' yet. It's a great service, but as an e-mail client it's far from the best. I use Ritlabs' The Bat, a sometimes quirky and moderately buggy e-mail client, but also the most powerful client out there.

While Gmail is good and simple to use, The Bat! has at least 50 features that Gmail doesn't. Instead of listing them all here, I'll just name a couple I really use:

- Threaded view. You can set your view to be threaded with sender's address being the thread anchor, which makes your e-mail infinitely more organized and less cluttered than in standard view. Since i receive a lot of email, this feature is invaluable to me.

- Different passwords for different accounts. A minor feature that I use in the following way - I have some simple password for my business accounts, which I share with some of my colleagues, so they can read it on my computer when I'm not in the office. On my private accounts, I have a different password.

- Fine tuning of your spam filter. Gmail's spam filter is nice, but you can't really fine tune it as you can in The Bat!

The list goes on. As I've said, Gmail is great, it offers a lot, and maybe in time it will render all desktop e-mail applications obsolete. But not yet.

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When it comes to mobile phones, I've seen many innovations that will probably be forgotten in history as just another curiosity, but this one is one of the most bizarre - a cell phone with a dual LCD screen

Credit for this invention goes to Seok Hong Jeong, who revealed this weird-looking device at the Seoul International Invention Fair 2006.

The phone does give you a lot of screen estate, but at the cost of looking pretty clumsy. Since mobile phone manufacturers are always desperate for a larger screen, this might look like a good idea, however it seems to me like a kind of device that would perhaps sell only in the innovation-hungry market of the far east.

The device was spotted at the Fair by Aving.

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Like many seasoned web surfers, I too barely notice pleas for donations on websites, even those I've frequented for years. Strangely enough, in the last couple of days several websites have attracted my attention with their donation request. Here's what they've done right

Just to clarify, I do not at this time ask for any donations, nor have I ever done it before, so this text comes strictly from a user perspective. When you browse literally hundreds of websites daily, like I do, ads and donation requests that you actually notice must be doing something right.

1. Cuteness and good intentions


It may not seem like much at first, but Abandonia's donation link on the upper right side of the page seems like a perfect donation request to me. Abandonia is a site devoted to freely distributing abandonware games, so the cute pixel character hits the mark perfectly. It's subtly animated to drag your attention to it. It's practically begging for money, however it doesn't come of as cheesy because it fits into the site perfectly. Lastly, when you do click it, you see that the authors are spending all donated money only for web hosting costs, and if they raise more than they need, they give everything back to the users as prizes in various contests. I don't know how much donations they receive, but if this doesn't work, I don't know what does.

2. Be precise, make a progress bar.


When I work, I mostly listen to chillout/downtempo music for relaxation. One of my favorite web radio stations is www.lounge-radio.com, which is more or less completely donation-driven. Since they reached their donations goal for 2007 they changed the donation page to a thank you page, but I'm going to describe what it consisted of. It was a detailed explanation of how much money they exactly (down to the dollar) need, and what they will spend it for. They've made it perfectly clear that the site will cease to function if they don't get that sum until the end of 2006. They've made a progress bar, showing how much funds they've raised so far. And lastly, they included a list (which is still visible) of all donors. Needless to say, they easily got the required sum of money, which will enable them to keep on lounging for one more year.

3. No ads, only donations.

DropBoks, a simple free online file repository service, simplifies things to the extreme. They have no ads, the design of the site is very minimal. They make it clear through a small, unobtrusive yet visible button on the bottom of the page that the site is donation-driven, which enables them to have no ads whatsoever. So far, it works for them.

4. Be completely honest about everything.

Kottke.org, one of the most famous blogs on the net, currently has no ads and asks for no donations. However, when he needed donations, Jason Kottke wrote a very detailed post explaining exactly what he asks for and why he does it, going into somewhat personal details of his life and work. And it worked fantastic; the response was overwhelming.

5. Ask for something specific and important to your audience

This particular donation wasn't completely successful, but I still think it was a great way to attract attention and to communicate directly with your fans. Scott Kurtz, the guy who draws the comic at PVPonline, was constantly bombarded with fan-mail from Mac users who thought it would be cool if he bought a Mac. In this post, he asked them to put their money where their mouth is, asking for just one dollar from each visitor, which would be spent by him to buy various Apple hardware. He even included a cool progress bar showing how far had he got - as you can see, he barely made it to a 15'' Mac. Not perfect, but not bad also.

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When something is really simple to use, it stands out. The folks over at DropBoks know this, so they've made their online file storage service as simple as it can possibly be.

When you open the site, you're greeted with a window which shows the contents of your online folder. Sign up, and you can upload your files from any computer connected to the net. It's fast, it's simple, and it works.

The total size of your files must not exceed 1 GB, while an individual file can be as large as 50 MB. This pretty much sums up all that can be said about this little service, and I wouldn't want it any other way. I reckon the size limits might increase in the future, but the service is really new - give it time.

What's better, the site doesn't have any ads - it is funded entirely through donations. According to Luke, the site founder, this funding model is so far working well. This doesn't surprise me, because when there aren't annoying 'YOU WON' flashing banners, people probably feel more inclined to click that 'donate' button.


www.dropboks.com


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0 comments | Saturday, December 9, 2006

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Franticindustries has had another redesign, I hope you like it. It's 98% done, expect some minor quirks, especially if you use IE6 or earlier.

The simplicity of the Blogger template makes me constantly want to redesign everything, but I think I'm now close to the final version that will serve the site for at least several months.

To make all this work the way it does, I've done a lot of different hacks, both for Blogger and to display stuff correctly in IE6. If you want to know how I did something on the site, don't hesitate to ask. And, if you like the site, by all means do send us words of praise (:

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0 comments | Friday, December 8, 2006

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An interesting discussion is hot these days about top diggers getting paid to Digg someone's story. Kevin Rose stated clearly that "Diggers will never get paid" because it would create an inequality among those that do get paid and those who do it for free. I offer a solution: give the Diggers some of Digg's traffic.

It's obvious that many Diggers consider they should have some benefit from their hard work (and it is hard work; just try and get 20% of your stories promoted to the front page and you'll see).

What I propose is very simple: instead of the line:

submitted by XXX 2 days ago (via xxx.com)

put the line

submitted by XXX (website: XXX.com) 2 days ago (via xxx.com)

Or, even more simple, make the submitter's name a link to his website, not his profile.

This way, Diggers would get some amount of traffic from their submission, which they can use as they please. The top Diggers - the ones who put in the most effort and have most stories promoted to front page - would receive more, in proportion, than Digg beginners; but that's only fair.

What's important to say here is that this traffic wouldn't make anyone a millionaire. People will still click on the story in 99.999% of cases. But, if you're good enough, you're going to get a few hits by Diggers who will undoubtedly be interested in your success.


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After a long and painful wait, Wii is finally available here in Croatia. And would I be a respectable geek if I didn't try it out immediately? Of course not
The only games available at the moment are the ones you get with the Wii - Golf, Baseball, Boxing, Tennis and Bowling.

I didn't actually play the games to finish them, I've just tried them all out to get the feel of the controller, and I must say that I'm impressed with its responsiveness. You can especially see that while playing Boxing - every movement you make is correctly registered by the Wii, and you actually have to hold your hands up to protect yourself.

I can understand why they initally wanted to call it Revolution - it definitely will revolutionize gaming as we know it. Can't wait to try out Zelda, which should be available soon.

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More and more journalists end up in jail for their work every day. There are currently 134 imprisoned journalists all over the world, 49 of which are bloggers and Internet journalists. Is blogging real journalism or not, you ask? Well, the jail is certainly real.

As reported by CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists), 134 journalists all over the world are imprisoned because of their work, which is an increase of 9 since last year. What you would call "regular journalists" - print reporters, editors, and photographers are still the largest category with 67 cases of imprisonment, however, it's interesting that Internet journalists are now imprisoned in 49 cases, which is over one third of the overall number.

This means that, although some (especially the traditional media) still don't perceive bloggers and rogue journalists as real journalists, the absolutist governments and regimes definitely see them as a threat. On top of that, it's probably easier for them to imprison bloggers because the public outcry is far less than when a renowned journalist is jailed.

China, Cuba, Eritrea and Ethiopia lead on this sad list with 31, 24, 23, and 18 cases of imprisonment respectively. If you're wondering, US also made the list, with one journalist in detention at the infamous Guantanamo Bay. You can read about each of the cases in detail here.

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