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Facebook Chat – Pluses and Deltas

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Recently, facebook.com began allowing users access to a new “chat” feature, reminiscent of gchat. Presented are some initial evaluations of the feature’s implementation.

Δ There should be a way to bring up a person’s profile from their chat window – this feeds directly into primary site content (people’s profiles) and increases advertising revenue as the raw number of impressions per ad would increase correspondingly.

+ Use of a horizontal bar maximizes screen real estate more effectively than gchat

+ Only one conversation can be open at a time -this will be especially useful as what was previously a relatively “passive” social network (in terms of the social aspect) becomes a large center of real-time activity and interaction

Δ Privacy settings seem unclear and are currently uncontrollable – at first it seemed linked to the newsfeed but this appears to not actually be the case (my friend didn’t see that I posted on someone’s wall but did see that I commented on a photo, as per my newsfeed settings, but then I didn’t see her post on someone’s walls although this appeared in her newsfeed )

Δ Lack of settings in general, and fuzzy status as a feature (is it an app?)

Δ Elitist roll-out plan, typical of facebook – first the Ivies, then the major regional networks … but what about everyone else?

Δ Lacking in advanced functionality – why not go the extra mile and allow group chat? Recent history is logged, but is the historical information currently only stored locally? These and many other questions remain unanswered.

+ Drunken “hook ups” in the dorms will have never been easier for college freshman nation/world-wide

Expect updates to this post as facebook chat becomes available to more and more people – specifically to see how scalable that little pale-blue horizontal bar really is.

Written by generalsam

April 21, 2008 at 12:43 am

Is Qtrax the Future of Digital Music?

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220px-Qtrax Well as of now, no.

Today marks the two-week anniversary of Qtrax’s beta release to the public, and while the thought of having all four major record labels agreeing to license agreements sounded revolutionary, as of now it is nothing more than a pipe dream.

As many others have said, Qtrax’s initial launch may go down as one of the worst in recent history. Announced at the beginning of the 2008, Qtrax is supposed to be the Napster of 2008; users of the Qtrax service download the Qtrax software at the site, register for the service, and proceed to download as many songs as they please from the database of 25 million songs. In order to pay the record labels, each song has an advertisement at the beginning of the song and Microsoft Windows Media DRM applied to it in order to curb illegal copying of the songs. The Qtrax software is also laced with multiple advertisements across the top and right side of the viewport.

Eager to try out the software for myself, I proceeded to the Qtrax website and attempted to download the software to no avail. The problem: there was no download link! I gave up on downloading Qtrax for the night, even though the beta was supposed to be released at this point. The next day I managed to download the Qtrax software on my laptop and install it for the first time. As I booted up the Qtrax software for the first time and I was presented with this screen:qtrax

When you are planning on making a release of software that is supposed to become a competitor to iTunes, this is definitely not the way to do it. After failing to get anywhere on Qtrax again (mind you this is 2 days after the release) I gave up on Qtrax again.

As of today Qtrax is still in limbo. The four major labels have not agreed to a license agreement with Qtrax, and the users of the software still cannot download songs from the software. I tried to register an account today and when I clicked on the ‘Check Availability’ link on for my user ID I was given a friendly ‘about:blank’ page. Even with all these problems I still feel that Qtrax will be able to pull out of the mess they are in right now and get their service going. They already have the hype from multiple blogs/media outlets and tons of potential users, now all they need is the actual music.

Written by Daryn

February 11, 2008 at 1:40 am

Posted in Music, Review, Technology

Cut the Cord

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The danger inherent in a cord connecting millions of people to a vital, now-ubiquitous infrastructure network being strung along the bottom of the sea should be obvious to most. However, due to cost implications, upgrading the physical security and redundancy of major internet pathways has been a back-burner issue.

No longer.

While the blogosphere is currently full of insinuations of US-Israeli conspiracies to attack Iran under an internet blackout, in reality that seems fairly far-fetched and, frankly, frivolous. The real concern here should be that actual threats to international stability get wind of how incredibly easy it is to disrupt these lines, considering the anchor of a ship is currently regarded as the most likely cause of this disruption.

Written by generalsam

February 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm

What to think of the Macbook Air

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 Update: Looks like I’m not the only one that had concerns with the Macbook Air.
Photo of Macbook Air

Every year the annual Macworld Expo brings the blogosphere to a complete halt with the multiple announcements of Apple products that are to dominate the new year. 2006 was the Intel iMacs. 2007 was the iPhone. 2008 is the Macbook Air. In move that is similar to last year’s unveiling of the iPhone, the Macbook Air is sure to revolutionize the way laptops are used in the years to come. Or is it?

While the design and aesthetic look of the Macbook Air makes it one of the best looking Apple computers to date, I feel there is one problem with the Macbook Air that is preventing it from taking off like the iPod did way back in 2001: there is no clear type of consumer that the Macbook Air is intended for. At first I thought that the Air was intended for college students, seeing as Apple is one of the most popular brands for the 18-24 demographic group, and the Air is basically a computer version of the popular iPod Nano. The main thing I see going against this line of thinking is the lack of features on the laptop, specifically the absence of any optical drive and the lack of USB ports. While the idea of wirelessly installing software from a different computer’s drive sounds really cool, it just isn’t realistic for a college student who more than likely is not going to have a spare computer lying around. Also the idea of having to exclusively download music/movies off of iTunes is pretty unrealistic for a community that is much more likely to pirate

So if college students are not going to purchase a Macbook Air, that leaves the business users. Ultraportable laptops have been “the thing” in the business world for a while now, and it doesn’t look like that is going to change any time soon. My reason for not thinking that business consumers will be pumped about the goes back to the same reasons I mentioned before, namely a lack of the features. While the price will be within a business consumer’s price range and the 5 hour battery life is sure to turn some heads, the combination of a non-removal battery and no optical drive really hurts it chances at standing out from the rest of the ultraportables on the market. This is due to the fact that most ultraportables have an extra battery (not possible with the Macbook Air) and more input devices than 1 USB port (more USB ports, Firewire, etc.) than the Macbook Air.

All in all I really don’t see any reason for anyone to purchase a Macbook Air within the given features and starting price. If anyone is interested in using a Mac as an ultraportable it’s a much better move to go with the Macbook, which has several more features at almost half the cost.

Written by Daryn

January 23, 2008 at 1:33 am

A small, brave new world …

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Technology has historically served as an impetus for profound changes throughout human civilization. From the advent of farming to the internet, the past is replete with examples of the transformative power of applying the mind to its environment.

In the modern day, the next transformative advancement appears focused upon extending the control and accessibility the internet gave us over information to the realm of matter … one atom at a time.

The possibilities nanotechnology will enable are currently predicted to be literally endless. From futuristic disease-isolating biomarkers, to reparable, super-strong chains of carbon nanotubes, this scientific field is advancing at a rate that may be outpacing public awareness.

While it is clear that advertisers are capitalizing upon public awareness of this “diminutive” trend, and policymakers are starting to pay attention to the potential health risks, the discussion of potential future abuse seems limited in scope.

The US military has made the development and mastery of this technology a high priority. This, when viewed in light of the increasing levels of (and efforts towards) militarization of our society, especially at the highest echelons of executive power, indicate that the wariness seen today needs to be extended beyond the standard policy formulations of risk, especially as we approach the realization of these tools of infinite potential. Without an eye to the greatest possible abuses, future defensive mechanisms and regulatory structures designed to preserve the notion of freedom currently enjoyed by many US citizens may prove woefully inadequate for their purpose.

Written by generalsam

January 14, 2008 at 6:57 am