Please note that all these articles are just linked from other websites. I don't own or write any of them. Moreover, this blog is being under construction, so some functions might not work properly. Be patient!!! :)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Non-Threaded Conversations Coming to Gmail, E-Mail Purists Rejoice

Google will today announce the ability to disable Gmail’s conversation view e-mail threading feature. Conversation view has been one of its most hotly debated features since the service launched in 2004.
Google will be rolling out conversation view settings over the next several days. It will first be available to Google Apps users who have selected “Enabled pre-release features” for their organizations.
Even with the release of a toggle for conversation view, it’s doubtful that the debate over its effectiveness will end any time soon. Fans of conversation view cite its ability un-clutter inboxes by threading conversations based on message connections. Naysayers, however, have complained that threading is simply a distraction that complicates the way e-mail has worked for nearly 20 years in clients like Outlook.
What side of the argument do you fall on? Are you a threaded conversation advocate or an e-mail purist?

[via mashable]

10 iPhone Apps for the Global Foodie

iPhone Food ImageDo you “eat to live” or “live to eat?” Regardless of your munching motto, in this day and age, there are endless food options available, and those that were once considered unusual and exotic are now mainstream. Sushi drive-thru, anyone? Yes, it actually does exist. With curious palates and a willingness to experiment, amateur eaters and gourmands alike literally have a world of food at their disposal.
However, entering a new culture and food experience can be a little daunting. Unrecognizable smells, cluelessness about food pronunciations, and ingredients that you haven’t seen before can leave even an adventurous eater longing for the nearest burger joint.
Luckily, there’s an app for that.
Here are 10 iPhone apps that can help guide anyone through uncharted food territory and set the stage for enjoyable eating adventures.

1. Global Eater Food Dictionary

You’re at an authentic Indian restaurant and you hear fellow diners contemplating ordering either dhaal or ghost curry. Huh? You can sneak a peek at the Global Eater Food Dictionary app while you snack on some naan bread and realize that they’re discussing lentils or lamb. With food definitions from cuisines all over the world including France, Spain, China, Thailand, Mexico and others, you can rely on this handy guide as a reference whenever you’re food-confused.
Cost: $0.99

2. Yum Cha Dim Sum

Those push carts with the steaming bamboo baskets are such a beautiful sight and smell. But when that cart comes by with the mile-high stack of steamers, the lids come off and it can be hard to know what exactly you’re looking at. The Yum Cha Dim Sum app is a great dim sum decoder, and even provides color photos, calorie counts and key ingredients for a variety of dim sum fare.
Cost: $2.99

3. 365 World Recipe

Imagine following a new international food recipe for every day of the year. That would be an ambitious goal, but with this app, even the loftiest cooks can achieve this. Although it is a very simple app with no photographs, the variety of recipes is impressive. Some samples from the month of October include Austrian Baked Eggs, Swedish Baked Fish, India Beef Curry, and much more. There’s also an option within the app to send each recipe via e-mail.
Cost: $0.99

4. Sushipedia

Sushi is so commonplace now (please refer to earlier drive-thru reference), but with myriad raw fish options such as hamachi, kanpachi and mebachi, not to mention the numerous maki sushi options, you begin to realize that sushi goes far beyond California rolls. Sushipedia is a great app that provides color photography of sushi varieties, descriptions and even fun facts –- and it’s free.
Cost: Free

5. GlobeTipping

For those fortunate enough to travel internationally and experience these cuisines in their native countries, it is important to know how to tip appropriately, since each region is different. Did you know that tipping is not the norm in restaurants in Indonesia and is even considered an insult in China and Japan? Now you do. The GlobeTipping app is a must-have app for any world traveler.
Cost: $0.99

6. 42 Restaurants

True foodies will be able to appreciate all this app has to offer. 42 Restaurants features recipes, descriptions, chef bios and stunning photography from some of the world’s most highly-rated restaurants. The lengthy listing includes Le Gavroche in London; Picholine in New York; Tantris in Munich; La Rosetta in Rome and 38 more. Each restaurant features a recipe that has been hand-picked by each head chef (many of whom who have earned Michelin stars) and with the beautiful photos of each locale, this app offers the next best thing to being there. A lite free version is also available, but only includes four restaurant descriptions.
Cost: $4.99

7. Korean Cuisine

Korean food has grown in popularity, thanks in part to celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay who make bulgogi (marinated, grilled beef) and side dishes like kimchi (pickled cabbage) on the Food Network. Like all world cuisines however, it goes far beyond the two or three dishes it is best known for. With some similarities to Chinese and Japanese food, but still quite different, Korean food is still a mystery to many. With this free Korean cuisine app, users can learn more about the ingredients in 52 different dishes, how to make them, and how to eat them.
Cost: Free

8. FoodFinder

What are you in the mood for tonight? Cambodian, Ethiopian or how about some Peruvian? Whatever your palate fancies can be located with the FoodFinder app. It provides an A through Z listing of foods from every country you can imagine, and then maps the restaurant nearest you via Google. FoodFinder also provides phone numbers for each restaurant so you can place and order or reservation directly from the app.
Cost: Free

9. Mexi-Pedia

What’s the difference between a burrito and a chimichanga? The latter is a fried version of the former. The Taco Bell chihuahua actually did a good job of improving the Mexican food vernacular in pop culture, but there’s so much more to the cuisine than the fast food chain offers. The Mexi-Pedia app provides overviews of popular Mexican dishes and includes color photography as well.
Cost: $0.99

10. iCooking Moroccan Cuisine

The iCooking Moroccan Cuisine app is one of many by this app developer featuring recipes from regions all over the world. Any cook who wants to try different recipes should look into the iCooking series which features 16 different apps on foods like BBQ, Chinese, French, Greek, Indian, Spanish and more. This app in particular features 50 popular Moroccan dishes and is well-organized with photos, ingredients and preparation tips.
Cost: $0.99
If you find some tasty recipes or discover a delicious restaurant via the social web, let us know in the comments below.

[via mashable]

New Twitter Design Based on the Golden Ratio [IMAGE]

From Pythagoras to Darren Aronofsky, the Golden Ratio — an irrational mathematical constant found in everything from art to architecture — has come pretty far. Lately, it was apparently the basis of the design for the new Twitter.
Check out the above picture from Twitter’s Creative Director Doug Bowman, found on Twitter’s Flickr page. According to the caption: “To anyone curious about #NewTwitter proportions, know that we didn’t leave those ratios to chance. This, of course, only applies to the narrowest version of the UI. If your browser window is wider, your details pane will expand to provide greater utility, throwing off these proportions. But the narrowest width shows where we started, ratio-wise.”
Personally, I think the inclusion of the mind-bending and mythical ratio is rather elegant (but then I have a weird obsession with hypertexts like Fibonacci’s Daughter). What do you think of the new Twitter design?

How Popular Is the iPhone, Really? [INFOGRAPHIC]

When it comes to tech news coverage, sometimes it seems like Apple is the biggest phone manufacturer in the world. While it is true that the iPhone is a very popular smartphone, Apple’s overall share in the mobile phone market is still very low compared to giants such as Nokia and Samsung.
The folks from BillShrink have created a nifty infographic that puts many facts about the iPhone into perspective. Check it out below; an even bigger version is available here.

[via mashable]

Skype and Facebook to Announce Partnership [REPORT]

Facebook and Skype are working on a deal that would integrate Facebook Connect with Skype accounts, AllThingsD has learned, citing sources familiar with the situation.
ATD has managed to get a hold of a screenshot showing the new features in action. Once you connect Skype with Facebook, you’ll be able to SMS, chat with or call your Facebook friends directly from Skype. You should also be able to log in to Skype with your Facebook credentials.
The new features should go live on Skype 5.0 when the new version goes out of beta in a couple of weeks.
It’s a logical step for both companies. Facebook’s chat capabilities are somewhat limited compared toGoogle Talk, which is deeply integrated with Gmail, and offers voice and video chat capabilities. Enabling new ways to communicate with your Facebook friends is definitely one of Facebook’s goals. Skype, on the other hand, will be very happy to extend its user base to Facebook’s 500+ million users.
If the story turns out to be true, it will be interesting to see whether Facebook will also integrate Skype features into its web interface, or perhaps its mobile application.

[via mashable]

Nintendo 3DS Comes to Japan in February

Nintendo’s handheld gaming console with 3D capabilities, the Nintendo 3DS, now has an official launch date: February 26.
According to Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata, the 3DS will first launch in Japan, and it will cost about 25,000 yen ($300). The U.S. and Europe release date is sometime in March, but the price for those markets is still unknown.
While Nintendo’s original announcement left room for speculation that the 3DS will launch by the end of 2010 and in time for the holiday shopping season, the folks from Nintendo claim they originally planned to launch it by the end of March 2011, and then hurried the release date to February.
Nintendo 3DS is a portable gaming console that doesn’t require the user to wear glasses to experience the 3D effect on the screen. The device, which we previewed[mashable link] at the E3 conference in June, looks quite similar to the previous model — the Nintendo DS[mashable link]. However, the 3D effect — its most important new feature — cannot be captured on photos. You have to experience it first hand to appreciate it.
Nintendo’s biggest competitor in the 3D gaming is Sony, whose PlayStation 3 recently got updated with 3D capabilities (which work only if you own a 3D-capable TV).

[via mashable]

Which Words Does Google Instant Blacklist?

Some folks at the Hacker publication 2600 decided to compile a list of words that are restricted by Google Instant.
Except in extreme and special cases, GoogleGoogle is known for anything but censorship, but as we’ve said before, there are some terms the web giant’s new instant search feature won’t work with.
We understand Google’s intentions; the team over there is trying to make sure that no one sees pornographic or violent results they might fight disturbing unless they really mean to search for them. When asked about this feature a few weeks ago, Google’s Johanna Wright said the restrictions are in place to protect children.
But Google has opened itself up to a potential PR problem, because some of these omissions will be at best bewildering and at worst offensive to particularly sensitive (or progressive) users who don’t understand how Google Instant actually works.
For example, “bisexual” and “lesbian” are among the restricted words. Type them in to Google and the instant search will immediately stop delivering new results. You have to hit enter to confirm, yes, you really do want to know about something in some way related to bisexuals or lesbians.

Why Did Google Block These Words?

You can still search for these terms. The issue is that when you type them, Google Instant stops reporting results on the fly, and you must hit “enter” to see results.
That happens because Google Instant doesn’t just use what you’ve typed to display results. It reads data collected over the years about previous users’ searches to predict what you’re going to type. It’s the same algorithm that handles auto-complete, or the Google Suggest pop-ups in the old, not-so-instant Google search. Google searches only display for the exact text that you’ve typed after you’ve hit enter.
When results fail to appear after you’ve typed “lesbian” or “butt,” it’s not because the results are being censored. Google is struggling to prevent the text of offensive searches users have made in the past (there have been other controversies[mashable link] on this subject before) from jumping up in front of you when you’re looking for something innocuous.
Since countless users may have followed the word lesbian with “porn,” generating results inappropriate for children, Google’s algorithm has decided not to immediately throw 20 links to lesbian porn sites in your face when you type “lesbian,” even if that’s the most common search based on the algorithmic data.
When we contacted Google for comment, we received this statement from a spokesperson:
“There are a number of reasons you may not be seeing search queries for a particular topic. Among other things, we apply a narrow set of removal policies for pornography, violence, and hate speech. It’s important to note that removing queries from Autocomplete is a hard problem, and not as simple as blacklisting particular terms and phrases.
In search, we get more than one billion searches each day. Because of this, we take an algorithmic approach to removals, and just like our search algorithms, these are imperfect. We will continue to work to improve our approach to removals in Autocomplete, and are listening carefully to feedback from our users.
Our algorithms look not only at specific words, but compound queries based on those words, and across all languages. So, for example, if there’s a bad word in Russian, we may remove a compound word including the transliteration of the Russian word into English. We also look at the search results themselves for given queries. So, for example, if the results for a particular query seem pornographic, our algorithms may remove that query from Autocomplete, even if the query itself wouldn’t otherwise violate our policies. This system is neither perfect nor instantaneous, and we will continue to work to make it better.”
Google’s highly effective SafeSearch algorithm still applies to instant search results. SafeSearch can filter out potentially offensive search results quite effectively after a user has hit “enter” — the first page of results for “lesbian” with moderate safe search enabled is completely innocuous — and it works for searches in progress too.
Google’s current implementation is far from perfect — the company rep admitted that. If nothing else, we’d like to see Google manually re-enter safe suggestions for some common terms that have been restricted because they’re sometimes connected with sexual, violent or hateful results.
The rep told us that Google is working on improving the system, but wouldn’t give us any specifics about future changes. In the meantime, check out the complete list at 2600 if you’re curious.
[Via Nerve]

Motorola Aims to Optimize Comfort with Oasis Bluetooth Headset

The Motorola Oasis Bluetooth Headset will be released on October 3 through AT&T stores and online retailers. Motorola has developed the Oasis with a behind-the-ear design and a set of customizable gel ear cushions for optimum comfort.
From a technological perspective, the Motorola Oasis isn’t a slouch. Not only does the device allow you to connect to two phones, it also has a sweet swivel boom mic with noise and echo cancellation for clear sound in crowds and wind. The Motorola Oasis Bluetooth Headset will be available for $80 on October 3.
The price tag will put the Motorola Oasis squarely in contention with the Jawbone Icon and the Plantronics Discovery 975, which are generally considered two of the best Bluetooth headsets currently on the market. That said, if your primary objective is comfort, the Oasis might be a better bet.
Here’s a video that shows the headset from all angles:

[via mashable]

Foursquare for BlackBerry Gets Push Notifications and Upgraded Interface

Popular location and checkin app Foursquare has just announced push notifications for BlackBerry.

With this new feature, BlackBerry users will instantly be able to know when and where their friends check in, all without having to leave the app running in the background (and eating up battery life).

This is just one of the new features for Foursquare’s BlackBerry app. Push notifications are one way the app is saving on battery life; the company says it made a few other tweaks to ensure Foursquare’s app won’t unduly drain your battery, as well.

Foursquare also says everything in the app will load faster and touch navigation has been improved.

Do you use Foursquare on your BlackBerry? If so, will push notifications help you out — either by saving your battery or by helping you meet up with friends?

[via mashable]

5 Ways to Use Google Voice for Your Business

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.
Google Voice, which the search giant introduced in 2009, recently became freely available to everyone in the United States. Even though the service hasn’t dramatically changed since then, it’s still very useful to those that run small businesses, because it can give them an extra edge and make professional life much easier — at least, it can if you know how to use it.
When you register you can choose a virtual phone number in any area code. You can use that number to send and receive text messages, record voicemails and even receive and make calls over the Internet, but it becomes particularly useful when you attach it to the number associated with your mobile or landline phone.
There are some features we’d like to see added, but the current suite is still impressive. Google Voice can forward calls directed at your virtual line to your physical line, record voicemails and calls at both numbers, transcribe voicemails, share those voicemails with other contacts, block callers, apply special rules for individual callers or groups of callers, receive e-mail notifications of calls and text messages, and make unlimited free domestic calls and very cheap international calls. It even enables you to listen in on voicemails as they’re being recorded, giving you the option to pick up if you want to talk to the person who’s leaving the voicemail.
Here are our picks for five ways you can use all these features to make your small business more efficient. Add your tips in the comments below.

1. Search and Prioritize Your Calls

Most of Google Voice’s features fall into this category, but be aware that you have to actually provide contacts with your Google Voice phone number to use them. You can’t use many of the features we’re listing for calls received at your old number. This is a huge problem for small business owners who have already amassed an extensive list of contacts using their old number(s), but if you’re planning on switching pace and only handing out your Google Voice number, you’re all set.
Google will record voicemails on your behalf, then e-mail or text message you digitally made transcripts of every voicemail you receive. The robot transcripts aren’t perfect, but they’re usually clear enough that you can tell who is calling and what he or she is calling about. More importantly, they’re searchable.
Just like you can search your Gmail inbox or the web using Google, you can search the transcribed text of your voicemails. Voicemails have never been searchable before. If your business gets a high volume of calls, this is a killer feature because it allows you to avoid losing important calls.
Since voicemails and text messages are all up on the web for you to search and sort, you can process a lot of calls more efficiently than you would be able to with a regular, call-in voicemail system.

2. Use Different Rules and Greetings for Different Contacts

You can assign contacts to user-defined groups when you dig into Google Voice’s settings menu, then adjust behavior for those groups. You can say that certain individuals or groups should be connected to certain numbers when they call, or block some people from contacting you at all should you become harassed by unnecessary calls.
For example, you can determine which contacts will be calling to discuss business development deals and which contacts will be calling for product support, and forward those calls to the appropriate team member inboxes automatically.
You can also create custom voicemail messages for important clients or to represent certain divisions of your business. For example, the voicemail messages for your customer support and sales divisions could greet callers in different ways and with more relevant information on who to contact.

3. Share Calls with Your Assistant or Partner

Because calls, text messages and voicemails are sent to you via e-mail, you can easily forward them to other people working at your business. But that’s not all you can do. You can actually embed the audio recordings of voicemails and share them via e-mail or other communications media with anyone you want.
Furthermore, you can press a button while on a call to begin recording that call. The recorded audio will appear on the web, and it will be shareable as well. This can be very helpful for collaboration, or for looping a partner in on an important conference call that he or she couldn’t attend.
As we mentioned in the previous point, you can configure calls from certain contacts to go to specific team members, but you can easily transfer a call to a different number once you’ve received it, too. This is of course standard for normal office phone systems, but many of today’s small businesses are operated via mobile phones on the go. This is a welcome feature for business owners in that situation.

4. Set Up Shop Anywhere, or Nowhere At All

Google Voice allows you to pick virtually any U.S. area code, and that can be a boon for small businesses in a big world. Do you have a large concentration of clients in Chicago, but you’re based in San Francisco? Set up a Google Voice number in the 773 or 312 area codes so they have a local number to call for support.
From your perspective, the area code is completely irrelevant because all your domestic calls through Google Voice are free, but that might not be the case for clients, customers and other important contacts.
Let’s say you run a consulting business for Hollywood screenwriters, but you’re actually working from Dallas. Some of your potential clients won’t take you seriously if they feel you’re not connected to the City of Angels, so set up a number in area code 323 — downtown Los Angeles.
You can also use Google Voice to make dirt-cheap international calls. That can save you a sizable sum in this age of Internet business and e-commerce, when national borders have little bearing on who you might do business with.

5. Specify When and Where You Want to Receive Calls

You can tell Google Voice which times of day you’ll be at which numbers, or recover your sanity by saying you don’t want the phone to ring at all outside of business hours. You can also change these rules for specific contacts or groups, as described above.
Let’s say you’re about to go on vacation; you’re leaving the office at 1:00 p.m., then you’ll be in transit until 7:00 p.m. After 7:00, you want to clock out. Just tell Google Voice to connect calls received before 1:00 p.m. to your office landline, to connect calls received between 1:00 and 7:00 p.m. to your mobile phone and to block all calls after 7:00 p.m.
And of course, you can make exceptions for important contacts, such as your business partner, who’s holding the fort while you’re gone and who knows what news is important enough to merit an interruption. Specify that his or her number can reach you on your mobile at any time and you’re all set.
Do you use Google Voice for your small business? If so, let us know how you’ve found it most helpful or hindering in the comments below.

[via mashable]