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!!! :)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dell’s Hybrid Tablet Coming Next Week [REPORT]

Dell Inspiron Duo, the hybrid tablet that flips open to become a netbook, is due for a launch next week, Cnet has learned from sources familiar with the matter.

The Duo is a Windows 7 machine with a dual core Intel Atom CPU, a 10-inch touchscreen, and a full QWERTY keyboard that is revealed when you flip the lid open. Close it, and you have a device that looks and operates pretty much like a regular tablet.

According to Cnet, the Inspiron Duo will be launched “early next week,” possibly on November 23.

Check out a teaser trailer for Dell Inspiron Duo below.
[via mashable] Introduces Bundles: Multi-Link Sharing With One URL

Link-sharing service has just launched a new tool for people who really, really love sharing links. Bundles allow you to package multiple long links in a single shortened URL.

This is a highly useful feature with an almost endless string of use cases. You can tweet a string of YouTube videos, e-mail all your Thanksgiving recipes, post a collection of study materials to Facebook — all with just one short URL.You can add multiple links to the entry field; just separate them with a space, then click “shorten” and “bundle” to quickly and simply create an all-in-one package of multiple links.

Every link you add will include a rich media preview and’s valuable metrics; your bundle can also be customized with a title and description.

We’ve actually seen other companies with this exact feature — in fact, just last week, we introduced our readers to BridgeURL, a service for packaging multiple links as a single URL. Sadly, this startup doesn’t have the market share and brand power of; we’ll see what happens to the company and product in the months to come.
In the meantime, however, give Bundles a shot and let us know what you think of this new feature in the comments. [via mashable]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kinect for Xbox 360 Sells 1 Million Units in 10 Days

With any luck, the next house party you attend will feature Dance Central instead of the usual Rock Band fare.

Microsoft has just announced it has sold more than 1 million units of Kinect for Xbox 360 worldwide in the first 10 days after the product’s launch.

Additionally, Microsoft says it’s pacing to sell more than 5 million units by the end of the year. This news comes just a week after Sony visualized sales figures for its Kinect competitor, PlayStation 3 Move.When you consider that Kinect for Xbox 360 won’t even reach most of Asia until November 18 and Japan until November 20, the 1 million units in 10 days figure is even more impressive.

Buoyed by positive reviews and a solid game lineup, Kinect for Xbox 360 is shaping up to be a big winner this holiday season. The controller-free system, which includes the Kinect sensor, can be purchased separately or in a package. Microsoft didn’t break out sales of the systems and the add-on, only saying that 1 million Kinect units were sold.

Existing Xbox 360 owners can buy the Kinect system for $149.99. An Xbox 360 console with 4GB of storage and the Kinect kit sells for $299.99. For $399.99, consumers can get an Xbox 360 with a 250GB hard drive and the Kinect add-on.

Microsoft says that according to NPD, the Xbox 360 has led video game console sales in the United States for the past four months. Another part of the console’s allure is the ability to watch premium video content from Netflix and Hulu Plus and the ever-expanding library of Xbox Live titles.

As motion-controlled consoles go, Kinect takes a different approach from what Nintendo pioneered with the Wii, and even beyond what Sony is doing with PlayStation Move. By making the controller disappear and capturing full body movements, Kinect shows some really interesting possibilities for immersive gaming.

Have you played with Kinect? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

[via mashable]

Examining the Security Implications of Facebook Messages

Facebook has officially launched its new “modern messaging system,” and as Mashable’s walkthrough of the new features illustrated, there’s a lot to like about the company’s approach to unifying the social inbox.

While Facebook should be applauded for some of the privacy settings built into its new messages system — for example, you can choose against receiving messages from people not on a trusted list — we can’t help but question some of its security implications.

The biggest advantage of a system like the new Facebook messages, which involves the ability to aggregate and combine all of your communications channels in one place, also makes our security sense go a little haywire. 

Facebook Is Now More of a Target

To be clear, we’re not necessarily talking about the security of Facebook’s servers or its login system. By and large, Facebook has a pretty solid track record in regards to keeping its systems clean.
Instead, what we fear is that the continued use of phishing scams, tools like Firesheep and other forms of social engineering will make the bounty of information encompassed within a Facebook account that much more targeted.
Facebook is already the fourth largest online phishing target and the spate of attacks using the social network have only increased in recent months. Rogue Facebook apps and augmented e-mail scams are just some of what Facebook users can already be expected to look out for in the current messaging system.
We’ll echo Graham Cluley from Sophos, who remarked that, “It will be critical for Facebook to implement more effective filtering mechanisms to prevent fraudsters from manipulating Facebook users into falling victim to new spams, scams and phishing attacks.”

Keep Vigilant

Furthermore, if users are going to transition to using Facebook as a central repository for social messaging, keeping your computers patched, your browsers up-to-date and your passwords unique is going to become even more important.
We’ve covered some tools that help manage and create hard-to-crack passwords [mashable link]. If you aren’t already using some sort of uniquely generated password for Facebook, consider doing so.
Also keep in mind that if you choose to communicate with someone who has an e-mail address, what you send over is being archived and stored in their messages account. Now, this is true for all hosted e-mail platforms, but most e-mail accounts aren’t tied seamlessly to your social graph. When celebrities or politicians have their e-mail accounts hacked [mashable link], it’s often a reminder of just what sort of information we all have that we might not want to be made public.

Our Questions for Facebook

Because Facebook’s new messaging system is still rolling out, we have some questions for the company regarding how it will handle security, malware and spam.
Some as-yet-unanswered questions include:
  • How will Facebook deal with spam messages that are sent from a user you call a friend? As we’ve seen in the past, it’s not difficult for rogue apps to take over your message account and send malware links or spam to people on your friends list.
  • What types of attachments can be sent and received via e-mail addresses? Will these attachments be scanned for malware before being delivered to your inbox?
  • Will Facebook consider enforcing SSL-logins for messaging?
  • How will Facebook address sandboxing the message system from what information is available to app developers? Yes, we know applications aren’t supposed to be able to access certain information anyway, but how will e-mail data be segmented from any other application layers?
It’s too early to be too critical or too fawning of Facebook’s new message system. That said, we do think it’s important to point out the very real-world security implications that are inherent in any platform that encompasses so much potential information.
Do you trust Facebook to be your e-mail address?
[via mashable]

Google CEO: Android Is for Touch, Chrome OS Is for Keyboards

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has finally made it clear what differentiates Google’s Android OS from the soon-to-be-released Chrome OS: keyboards.

That’s a rather simplified expression of the bigger picture, but ultimately, Google sees Chrome OS as the operating system for traditional computers, such as PCs, netbooks and laptops, which may include touch interfaces but always include keyboards; and the company sees Android as an operating system best suited to mobile devices, which may include keyboards but almost always include touch interfaces.During his talk at Web 2.0 Summit, Schmidt was asked by a member of the audience about Android’s perceived fragmentation. In addition, Schmidt was asked about where Chrome OS should be used vs. Android and where they overlap. The audience member professed that he was confused about Google’s strategy surrounding both platforms.

Schmidt responded in a few parts. His first point was that Android isn’t fragmented, stating that you can still run the same app on all Android phones — a point which our readers are welcome to dispute in the comments. However, Schmidt emphasized that he wants to make sure you can run the same apps on all Android devices.

What I found more interesting was his response to the difference between Chrome OS and Android. He iterated multiple times that it seems like Android is optimal for touch devices, while Chrome OS is best suited for traditional keyboard devices. This explanation makes perfect sense to us, but we’ve never heard this explanation from Google’s CEO until now.

In other words, if Google builds a touch-based tablet, it’s going to run Android. If it builds a new type of keyboard computer device, it’ll run Chrome OS. Schmidt says to expect Chrome OS “in the next few months” and the new version of Android (a.k.a. Gingerbread) in the next few weeks. [via mashable]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Apple Announces Mac Pro Server, Kills Xserve

Apple made a number of announcements Friday pertaining to its server market strategy, the most significant of which is that Xserve, its rack-mountable server solution, will be phased out beginning January 31, 2011.

At the same time, a new system was introduced to the Apple Store, called the Mac Pro Server. The server comes with an OS X Server unlimited license and is powered by an Intel 2.8GHz Quad-Core processor with 8GB of DDR3 memory. While the Mac Pro Server is on the lower end of the Mac Pro spectrum, it comes with substantially more horsepower than the Mac Mini Server.

Nevertheless, given its form factor, it’s likely that the Mac Mini Server will become the primary focus of Apple’s server strategy. Since the Mac Pro Server is boxed in a tower, it’s not conducive to the rack mounts found in many server environments.

Companies like Macessity stepped in long ago with rack mount trays for the Mac Mini. With Apple walking away from the Xserve [PDF], the question is whether it will begin offering its own rack mount for the Mac Mini Server.

[via ]

BBC iPlayer App Arrives for BlackBerry

The BBC had made its iPlayer website accessible to BlackBerry users for quite some time, but now UK BlackBerry users have an official app that they can use to catch up on radio and television broadcasts while on the go.

The BBC has offered official apps for Nokia’s Symbian platform and an iOS-optimized website since 2008. Earlier this year, the BBC also introduced a BlackBerry shortcut app for its mobile website. The iPlayer website is also unofficially supported on Android 2.2 using Flash 10.1.

UK users can download BBC iPlayer for BlackBerry from the BlackBerry App World. The app is free and works on BlackBerry Storm 2, BlackBerry Bold 9700 and BlackBerry Torch 9800 smartphones.

The app will work over 3G, but for optimum experience you’ll want to use Wi-Fi. We’re not in the UK so we can’t check to see if the app allows you to download programs for offline consumption — as you can with the Symbian app — but we’re assuming this is a streaming-only application.

BBC journalists are currently striking over pension plan changes, so if you’re looking for news content on your BlackBerry, you might be stuck in reruns for the next 48 hours.

[via mashable]

Dell Inspiron Duo Gets an Official Teaser Video

If the first thing you say when you try to describe the concept of a tablet computer to someone is “it doesn’t have a keyboard”, you might want to reconsider that description. Dell’s Inspiron Duo is an upcoming tablet that has a full QWERTY keyboard, and Dell has released an official teaser video which makes this concept look really good.

The trick is in Inspiron Duo’s flip lid, which places the touch screen on the outside when you close it. Flip it open, and you have a quite standard-looking netbook. Add to that a sexy JBL speaker dock, and you have a very interesting gadget that seems to bridge the gap between a netbook, tablet and a home entertainment device quite successfully.

The device should be coming to the market before the end of 2010; until then, check out the 35-second teaser below.

[via mashable]

Sunday, November 7, 2010

China’s State-Owned Mobile Company Joins Linux Foundation

The world’s largest mobile enterprise has just joined the Linux Foundation as a Gold Member.

The company in question is China Mobile, the largest and most valuable nationwide telecom enterprise in the world. With 570 million subscribers, it also has the largest user base of any such company.

Linux is a collection of free and open-source software; Linux operating systems are the most popular FOSS OSes in the world. The goal of the Linux Foundation is to protect, standardize and promote the Linux platform by giving it the services and features to compete withproprietary software.

In an announcement, Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin said, “China Mobile’s decision to join The Linux Foundation and their commitment to Linux could represent a seismic step toward a realignment of OSes in China and in the telecommunications industry.

“For The Linux Foundation, the opportunity to present Linux as a choice to 560 million users is a power-packed proposition.”

Both in terms of getting Linux products — particularly Linux mobile OSes, which currently account for a paltry 3% of the U.S. smartphone market — in front of users and getting more developer contributions to its ever-growing platform, the move is a huge win for the Linux Foundation.

Sure, there’s some inherent irony in the mass adoption of FOSS software and principles by a country that’s traditionally been closed to information technology in many other ways — and much has been made of that ongoing debacle by mainstream media and tech blogs.

But what’s less discussed — but much more important to this deal — is the fact that Chinese commercial and educational entities already make up a large part of Linux’ user base. Moreover, Chinese developers have been making great contributions to the Linux kernel lately. And Chinese Internet and hardware companies — again, some of the largest in the world — also use Linux for infrastructure and on their devices.

China Mobile will be the tenth Linux Foundation Gold Member. Other Gold Member companies include Google, Cisco, HP and Motorola.

[via mashable]

Here’s What Makes the Xbox Kinect Tick [PICS]

Today was the launch of the much-anticipated Xbox Kinect, Microsoft’s gesture-based, controller-free gaming system. The $150 device is filled with cameras and sensors that detect 3-D gestures and commands with surprising accuracy.

What makes the Kinect really tick, though? What’s the magic behind the Kinect’s motion-sensing technology? What has Microsoft packed into its gaming device?

Thanks to the people over at iFixit, we’ve got some answers. They’ve torn the Kinect apart (much like they did with the iPad), revealing the guts of the device.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The device has two cameras and an infrared projector. The left camera is infrared (320×240) and the center camera is color (640×480).

  • It utilizes Prime Sense technology for its 3-D gesture recognition. Interestingly enough, Microsoft recently acquired its primary competitor, Canesta.

  • It has four separate microphones, three on the right side and one on the left side.

  • Its motherboard includes a Wolfson Microelectronics WM8737G, a Fairchild Semiconductor FDS8984, and 512 MB of DDR2 SDRAM.

  • The Kinect packs a lot of sensory devices into one package, but it’s really the gesture recognition technology that makes this thing tick. We’ve tried out the Kinect and have been impressed by its responsiveness and initial library of games. Whether consumers are willing to stand up for hours at a time to play Xbox games though remains to be seen.

    If you’re a hardware geek and want to learn more, we suggest checking out the full teardown.

    [via mashable]

    Google Instant Goes Mobile

    A beta version of Google Instant is now available on many U.S. iPhone and Android mobile devices.

    According to the Google Blog, the Instant search option is presently on Android 2.2 devices, as well as iPhones and iPods running on iOS 4. As of right now, Google Instant is only available in English, although Google plans on adding more languages and bringing the service to other countries and devices.

    In order to test out Instant’s latest incarnation, one must tap the “turn on” link beneath the search box while on a mobile device. Users are advised to wait for a bit and refresh the page if the “turn on” option isn’t immediately visible.

    Mobile Google Instant is similar to its desktop counterpart — it offers a list predicting what users are searching for based on what they type. The first prediction’s results will automatically appear on the screen. To access the remaining results, users just have to tap their fingers on the other listed predictions. If they press “enter” or the search button, the predictions will be skipped in favor of results that match the exact search terms.

    The service, best designed to work on 3G and Wi-Fi networks, can also be enabled or disabled without causing users to leave the page they’re on. All one needs to do is tap the “turn on” or “turn off” link.

    Google Instant made its desktop debut in September, which is when a mobile sneak peek was also made available. By the end of the month, while in the midst of rolling out Instant to other countries, Google also added keyboard navigation to the service.

    Check out a demo of how Google Instant for mobile works below. Have you tried it yet?

    [via mashable]

    Google Chrome Gets Its Own PDF Viewer

    For Google Chrome users, viewing PDFs in the browser has been a collosal pain for lo these many moons. That’s why we are (and you should be) thrilled to learn that Google is rolling out a better way to look at PDFs in Chrome.

    For the time being, Chrome’s built-in PDF viewer will be available through the beta version only. If you’re using the non-beta version of Chrome, you can download the beta to get the PDF-related improvements.

    Googler John Abd-El-Malek wrote today on the Google Chrome blog, “To open a PDF document, you’d typically need to install additional software or browser plug-in in order to view it in a web browser.

    “With the integrated Chrome PDF viewer now available in Chrome’s beta, you can open a PDF document in Chrome without installing additional software. The PDF document will load as quickly and seamlessly as a normal web page in the browser.” [Emphasis ours.]

    With any luck, this will mean less waiting, less reloading and fewer blank pages where that pesky PDF should have been. We don’t see this so much as a slam on Adobe’s software; Google and Adobe play nicely in many other ways. The web simply needs faster ways to view and manipulate PDFs, and we’re glad Google’s working on the problem.

    Chrome’s PDF viewer is sandboxed in the same way Chrome web pages are; this helps protect you, the end user, from malware embedded in PDFs.

    Google’s team is still working on a few features for Chrome’s PDF viewer. Once those are finished, the stable version of Chrome will also ship with the PDF viewer included.

    What do you think of this improvement? Will it make your browsing experience faster and easier?

    [via mashable]

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Stan Schroeder About 2 days ago Stan Schroeder 3 Motorola Droid Pro Pre-Sale Starts November 9 [RUMOR]

    An internal document from Verizon suggests that the Motorola Droid Pro will be available for pre-sale at Verizon on November 9 and will arrive in stores on
    November 18.

    The document calls the Droid Pro an “iconic device… Projected to be in high demand once officially announced, even before launch.” This is a bit confusing, as another similar document has surfaced that also mentions an “iconic device” without naming the Droid Pro.

    Could this other “iconic device” be the iPhone 4, which is rumored to be coming to Verizon soon, or does the second document refer to the Droid Pro, or possibly even a third device?
    We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out.

    [via Android Central]

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Samsung Galaxy Tab Now Available in the UK

    As previously announced, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is now available for purchase in the UK.
    The tablet is available at a variety of prices with various contracts attached, ranging from £99.99 and a £40 monthly plan with a two-year contract, to £499.99 and a £10 one-month Talk Mobile plan at the Carphone Warehouse.
    The Galaxy Tab should also be coming to the stores of the Dixons Store Group and T-Mobile, as well as other major UK mobile carriers today.

    [via mashable]

    “Def Jam Rapstar” Raises the Roof Just Short of Greatness [REVIEW]

    SingStar or Guitar Hero for hip hop and rap is an obvious idea, but nobody’s done it right — or really at all — before today. Now PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii gamers have Def Jam Rapstar, an intriguing mash of hip hop sensibilities and social media savvy.
    Def Jam Rapstar is better than 2004’s Get On Da Mic (the only other release in the category) and leaves little to be desired for rap karaoke hosts and attendees. We’re just disappointed that the innovative social and community features that drew us to the game in the first place do more talking than walking.
    You can only sort of call this digital karaoke machine a game. The entire gaming experience is gambled on the online features, but they look more like a failed experiment than the next social gaming breakthrough. The Def Jam Rapstar team had the right idea, but a few miscalculations in the execution shut down the vision.
    The vision is this: A YouTube-inspired community where players can upload videos of their performances, rate them, share them and even win badges and other metagame incentives with them. There are also badges, a Twitter-like follow system for forming social connections, and “crews” that resemble the guilds or clans in other online games.
    You’ll be impressed by what 4mm Games, Terminal Reality and Def Jam Interactive attempted to do but disappointed by most of the user-generated content. This is partly because the developers limited clips to 30 seconds, and because most gamers are using cheap Guitar Hero microphones that weren’t made for quality recording. It’s also because not that many people are playing the game — at least not in the seriously social way the makers intended.
    Whether it’s because there are too few players to lift the community to critical mass, that the sharing and content creation tools are too limited, or the online talent just isn’t strong enough, the community features that looked so great on paper don’t satisfy.
    The local game options are few. You can play through a career mode, which simply lets you unlock new track by accurately matching beats and lyrics in their predecessors. The alternatives are playing party mode to do almost any track either alone or with friends in duets or battles, or using some of the pre-packaged beats to lay it down freestyle.
    Career mode lacks the polish and features it needs to be memorable. It’s the open-ended party mode that carries the appeal for most wannabe rappers, though particularly talented MCs will enjoy freestyle. In either case, it feels great rapping along with T.I. in “Live Your Life” with a friend backing you up as Rihanna, then playing back the ridiculous-looking video that results.
    If you like hip hop and your friends do too, Def Jam Rapstar belongs in your party game collection. Anyone can play, and the selection of songs is strong — albeit a bit Kanye-heavy. But hey, he’s big, alright?

    Buy It or Skip It?

    Most people who pick up a copy of Def Jam Rapstar just want to have hip hop parties with their friends. The beats are hot, and the lyric and beat-matching work. There’s ultimately no arguing with that.
    No matter what criticisms gamers have for Def Jam Rapstar as a social network, the game’s creators can go on and brush their shoulders off because the limited options won’t hold those living room MCs back from personal stardom.

    [via mashable]

    5 Stylish iPhone Alarm Clock Apps to Wake You Up On Time

    Although the iPhone’s alarm clock is functional, it has limited features. If you use your phone to wake up in the morning instead of a standalone device, then you’ll want to get the most out of it.
    There are a large number of alarm clock apps available in the App Store, but, almost unbelievably, not all of them work, and some of them are downright duds.
    We’ve tried and tested five great alarm clocks apps for the iPhone and iPod touch that can’t make getting out of bed any easier, but at least you’ll be woken in a way of your own choosing.

    1. Radio Alarm

    iPhone App Image
    Radio Alarm may be at the higher end of the pricing scale, but it’s a good looking creation that packs in a lot of functionality — you really do get what you pay for (and then some!) with this app.
    As far as looks go, you’ve got a great retro design with a flip calendar, analogue clock and two “dials,” one for volume, which can be controlled in-app and — essential for a bedside alarm clock — a brightness control. There are three knobs that represent the three main functions: the alarm clock, the radio and the sleep options.
    The “radio” can be listened to as a standalone Internet radio option and offers more than 30,000 stations from SHOUTcast Radio that be be browsed via genre, country or search, although you can manually add your personal fave Internet radio stations via their URL.
    Alarm functionality is superb — you can choose to wake to a variety of what we’d call standard alarm sounds, your own music stored on your iDevice, one of the many Internet radio stations, one of the sleep sounds (more on that later), and there’s even the fab option to record your own sound or message to wake up to.
    Alarm options include some nice touches such as vibration, the ability to “fix” the volume so you can’t turn it down accidentally, different snooze durations, and the option to have the sound “fade in” so you don’t wake with a start.
    iPhone App Image
    Finally, there’s an excellent selection of soothing sleep sounds, including waves, rain on a window, a campfire or the sound of seagulls. You can set the timer to turn the audio off after whatever amount of time suits you, and you can make it fade out quietly. This also works with the radio and your own music too.
    There’s some design thought gone into this app — when you hit the radio knob a little analogue tuner comes on screen accompanied by tuning noise, and you can opt to shake your iPhone a certain number of times to stop the alarm. It’s little touches like this that make you smile.
    Developer: EnSight Media
    Cost: $1.99

    2. iFlipClock Plus

    iPhone App Image
    There’s more retro to be had here with a classic, realistic flip clock design that can be jazzed up with a choice of 65 backgrounds, three colors for the numerals, portrait or landscape display and two different time display formats.
    That’s it as far as the app goes for looks; simplicity is the key word here, and that theme continues with the settings which are bound to only one screen.
    iPhone App Image
    We can imagine the one-screen design will be too fiddly for anyone with big fingers, but it works for us — you can just zip around the screen touching various areas to change the settings. With the ability to set two alarms, you can leave the default alarm noise to wake you or select a song from your device.
    Features include a snooze button, the ability to dim the screen for use on a bedside table and sound effects for when the time flips over. With simple, but perfectly decent alarm functionality, it’s a good-looking app for design lovers.
    Developer: Exedria
    Cost: $0.99

    3. Nightstand Central

    iPhone App Image
    Another good-looking app, Nightstand Central’s design is somewhat reminiscent of HTC phones. With a big, easy-to-read flip clock, the date and the weather for your current location are also displayed. You can choose backgrounds from a selection of beautiful pre-loaded images or ones from your device, either as a static display or slideshow of multiple images.
    The customization is great — you can move the clock and change its size by tapping on the screen with two fingers, have it display portrait or landscape, have alarms displayed, and to keep up with the weather, show the temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit or not at all.
    On the alarm front, you can set as many alarms as you’ll ever need with an interface that’s very similar to the iPhone’s. There’s also “background alarms” that can be set up for those who want to be super-sure to get out of bed. You can give alarms names and wake to a range of sounds or music from your library. Snooze times can be changed and you can make the sound fade in so as not to be too abrupt.
    The sleep timer will see you dropping off to a relaxing soundtrack (though without nearly as wide a selection as Radio Alarm, we must say), or your choice of music, while brightness control is very swanky — slide your finger on the screen to dim it.

    iPhone App Image
    Lastly, Nightstand Central’s bonus feature is the “flashlight” (a white screen basically, but adequate illumination in the dead of night), which you can turn on and off by shaking your handset.
    And if you’re not picky about using your own music as an alarm, or want to try before you buy, there’s a limited but decent free version of this app available too, although we think $0.99 for the full app is very reasonable.
    Developer: Thomas Huntington
    Cost: $0.99

    4. Alarm Clock Pro

    iPhone App Image
    There’s more great design here with the Alarm Clock Pro, which shares a similar feature set to Nightstand Central, but has a very different, yet equally stylish look.
    Alarm Clock Pro looks like a classic bedside alarm clock with a digital display. You can change the color of the numerals and what info is actually displayed, but as far as looks go, this app keeps it clock-like and simple.
    iPhone App Image
    Behind the scenes you’re looking at a very familiar iPhone interface that makes setting alarms easy. The options are similar to those we’ve seen in other apps — some pre-loaded alarm sounds, the ability to use your own music, snooze settings, fade-in options, background alarms and the great option to dim the screen with the slide of your finger.
    Alarm Clock Pro also produces a white screen as a flashlight if you shake it and a sleep timer is promised in a future update, which will be a nice addition to a very competent, no-nonsense alarm clock app.
    Developer: iHandySoft Inc
    Cost: $0.99

    5. The Alarm Clock

    iPhone App Image
    This alarm clock option doesn’t give you any meaningful way to customize the display, so it’s just as well the three-dimensional white letters on a blue background look as good as they do.
    Alarm options are simple to set up and what you’d expect. You can name alarms, set them up to go off regularly on certain days, choose from pre-loaded sounds or use your own (we had a few crashes with this part, but did get there), set snooze times, auto-snooze, and there’s a sleep timer too.
    However, where this app really shines is its ability to tell you the time at a touch of the screen. Hidden away in the app’s “Advanced Options” menu are some nifty perks that will let the app speak the time, say how long until the next alarm or speak the next alarm time.
    iPhone App Image
    You can set these up to work with one, two or three taps of the screen, and the robo-voice will speak up — a really nice feature for when you’re half-asleep fumbling with your iPhone to try and work out how much longer you’ve got in bed.
    Developer: Kirk Andrews
    Cost: $0.99

    BONUS: Nightstand – The Professional Alarm Clock

    iPhone App Image
    This app gets an honorable mention as it offers some nice functionality. In addition to being a fully featured alarm clock with radio, there’s weather data and a “news and Internet” section that you can set up to display all your favorite sites from one page, so you can quickly get your dose of morning news from within your alarm clock.
    Cost: $1.99

    [via mashable]

    Alternative Search Engine Blekko Launches to Eliminate Spam in Search

    Blekko’s alternative search engine — a $24 million venture-backed project that’s been three years in the making — is today launching its public beta. With the official rollout, Blekko is also releasing several new features designed for both mainstream and the site’s super users.
    As you may recall, Blekko is designed to eliminate spam search results, allowing users to search just a subset of the web through its proprietary slashtag technology.
    The most significant upgrade to Blekko’s search engine is the addition of slashtags that auto-fire for queries that fall into one of seven categories: health, colleges, autos, personal finance, lyrics, recipes and hotels. Every time a Blekko user’s query is determined to be in one of these categories, Blekko will automatically append the associated slashtag to the query and limit results to just the subset of URLs that fall under that slashtag.
    The auto-fire functionality is designed with passive searchers in mind and aims to eliminate friction for first-time users. The technology that powers these auto-slashtags was developed through an extensive research and development phase that involved analyzing the relationship between queries and the type of spam results they typically generate.
    Blekko plans to introduce auto-slashing for additional categories moving forward, but selected to launch with ones that represent a high volume of search traffic and are typically laden with spammy results. Health, lyric and financial queries on Google or Bing, for instance, will return results dominated by poor quality content farms or malware-hosting sites. Those same searches on Blekko yield results only from high quality sites.
    Blekko’s slashtag formula works because of passionate users who take the time to add and edit URLs for category slashtags. As such, the company has released new features to enable users to apply to be editors for slashtags as well as share their comments and feedback on individual slashtags. Think of this as the Wikipedia formula but applied to search, so a small percentage of users will work together to build out slashtags for the majority of Blekko searchers.
    Blekko has been testing its solution to search with roughly 8,000 beta testers who have created more than 3,000 different slashtags. Blekko tells us that 11% of its existing user base come back to the site on a weekly basis. CEO Rich Skrenta and founder Mike Markson have modest projections for the immediate future, but believe that once the site hits 1 million to 2 million queries per day, it can be profitable.
    Blekko is currently available on the web or as a mobile-optimized site, but mobile applications are also said to be in the works.

    [via mashable]