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    August 30, 2012
    Amazon Rolls Out App Store In Europe

    In March 2011, the Amazon Android App Store made its US debut, selling smart phone and tablet apps for the Android operating system.  It has taken more than a year, but now it looks as if the App Store is ready for prime time across the pond.  Amazon’s App Store is finally making its debut in Europe, bowing in Britain, Germany, France, and Italy with a litany of awesome free apps and assorted goodies to make up for the fact Europeans had to wait over a year for the chance to buy apps from Amazon.

    What’s next, the Kindle Fire will finally come to Europe?  Well, Amazon does have a press conference upcoming on September 6, so… anything is possible, either a second-gen Kindle Fire (my hope), a European version of the Kindle Fire, or both.

    “Customers in the US have purchased millions of apps, games, in-app items and subscriptions since the store launched last year, and we’ve received great feedback about discovery features like Free App of the Day,” says Amazon’s vice president of Amazon Appstore Jim Adkins, in a statement.  ”Amazon has spent years developing innovative features that help customers find and discover the products that are right for them and have applied that know-how to the Amazon Appstore.  We’re delighted to extend that experience to our European customers.”

    Among the free apps on the opening day of the Amazon Android App Store are Rovio’s premium version of Angry Birds, PopCap’s Plants Vs. Zombies, and a host of other fun apps, both familiar to Americans and European-centric.

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    August 29, 2012
    Wordless Wednesday: Faceborg

    Image:  Failbook 

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    August 27, 2012
    Google’s Lucky Button Gets A Makeover

    For years, Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button was the only way to instantly find your way to search results.  However, since Google added the instant search function to their standard search–it gives you instant results as you type in your queries–that button has become increasingly meaningless.  Who needs to go to the top result when they can just type a few letters and the top result shows up?  Well, Google isn’t a company to allow a feature to outlive its usefulness, not when they can do something fun with it.  Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button has changed into a random fun button.

    When you mouse over “I’m Feeling Lucky,” it now changes.  It’s still the “I’m Feeling” button, but the adjective changes.  ”I’m Feeling Hungry” takes you to nearby restaurant listings.  ”I’m Feeling Doodley” takes you to the Doodle homepage.  ”I’m Feeling Trendy” takes you to Google Trends.   It doesn’t connect to your expected search, but it is a whole lot of fun what with the spinning button and the random element of what pops up when you point your mouse at it.

    Try it!  It’s fun, right?  I’ve been playing with it for the past 10 minutes… because I needed yet another distraction in my day.

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    August 26, 2012
    Free WiFi In NYC and SF From Wall Street Journal

    If you’re a visitor (or resident) of New York City or San Francisco, California, you’re in luck.  You’re going to get your greedy little gadgets hooked up to some free WiFi.  However, there is a catch.  The Wall Street Journal is providing free WiFi in exchange for people checking out their product.  If you sign into your account or sign up for a new account (it’s free), then you can hook yourself into one of 1300 WiFi hotspots throughout both cities.  Just look for the WiFi spots titled, “The Wall Street Journal Wi-Fi.”

    New York City’s WiFi extends far beyond Manhattan, with hot spots set up in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Queens.  The San Francisco hot spots include Nob Hill, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Washington Square, among other urban locations where the cool kids and business folk gather.  When you try to access the WiFi, all you have to do is sign into your account or sign up for a new account with the Wall Street Journal.

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    August 25, 2012
    Rest In Peace, Neil Armstrong

    On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins achieved something that humans had never achieved.  The astronauts of Apollo 11 successfully landed a man on the surface of the moon.  That man, who took one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind, was Neil Armstrong.  Now, America is missing a hero.  Neil Armstrong has died at age 82.  According to his family, Armstrong had complications from recent cardiovascular surgeries.

    Neil Armstrong is one of only twelve men who have stepped foot on the surface of the moon.  He was a trailblazer, a Korean War veteran who flew hundreds of experimental aircraft before he joined up with NASA as part of the second class of astronauts.  Somehow, due to skill and luck, he was chosen for Apollo 11 and ended up taking those historic steps out onto the surface of our closest neighboring planet, in spite of almost dying three times as a result of various NASA equipment malfunctions.

    Rest in peace, Neil.  You were a true American legend.

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    August 24, 2012
    Moleskine And Evernote Team For Smart Paper

    There are lots of notebooks out there, and for most of us, we’ve got extensive books of notes and leftover little bits of writing, research, or just plain history written on actual dead trees.  For me, you can’t replace the feeling of a notebook and a pen, which is why I love the idea that Evernote and Moleskine have come up with.  The note-taking app and the Italian notebook manufacturer are bringing paper into the 21st century.  Evernote and Moleskine have teamed up to produce a line of smart paper designed for easy digital archiving.

    Moleskine has lined the paper with tiny dots designed to help orient handwriting and make it sortable and trackable via handwriting recognition software.  Included is a collection of so-called smart stickers that, when processed by Evernote, will properly tag entries based on the tags you set up.  Evernote also updated its app to introduce “Page Camera,” which increased the contrast of a page once it  has been photographed to make it easier to read from the digital archive.  The only drawback is that the Evernote handwriting recognition software works on Evernote’s servers, meaning there may be some processing time and you’ll need to sync the app.  Other than that, it seems like a great, useful tool for those not quite ready to leap from paper completely.

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    August 23, 2012
    Microsoft’s Logo Through The Years

    Microsoft has a new operating system coming out here shortly, and as such, they’ve got a new look coming up.  Microsoft has used basically the same logo for decades, the familiar black choppy semi-futuristic but not modernistic logo that they have been using since 1987.  The new Microsoft logo features a fairly plain sans-serif font with one key addition:  the familiar Windows color box.

    It’s weird to see a new logo after all this time, but I have to confess:  I like the new Microsoft logo.  It’s sedated, kind of muted in terms of color, and it’s not obnoxious or needing attention.  It’s a logo that says “I’m going to let the products do the talking here.”  The addition of the Windows logo box is also a positive step, indicating (at least to me) that Microsoft isn’t about to abandon its core products or disregard its core business of making operating systems and software products any time soon.

    That said, how about the second logo from the 80′s?  That thing is pretty boss, right?  It’s like the Flying V guitar of corporate logos:  totally 80′s and dated but also totally awesome at the same time.

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    August 23, 2012
    Apple Pulls Genius Ads

    One of the worst ad campaigns in recent memory has been expunged from the official Apple YouTube page.  Those awful Apple Genius ads, where Apple painted its users out to be completely computer ignorant, are coming to an end.  That’s right, Apple is trying to get rid of the Genius ads, although this being the Internet, getting rid of anything is next to impossible.

    The Apple Genius ads were designed to show users just how much help they had available to them at the local Apple Store, and they basically depicted people too dumb to tie their own shoes failing to execute simple programs on their laptops.  Thus, they turned to a handy Apple Genius who just happened to be on the airplane (or wherever).  The ads were supposed to show how helpful the Apple Genius Bar is supposed to be, and that Apple Geniuses are friendly and competent.

    Personally, I think the ads just showed Apple has a very low opinion of its average user, and I am not the only one.  There’s a reason Apple is trying to disappear its Olympics ad campaign; you don’t shelve something like that without a good reason.

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    August 21, 2012
    Google Play Rolls Out Gift Cards

    You could tell that iTunes had arrived when it stopped being something you did online and something you saw everywhere.  When iTunes gift cards became hot gifts, the go-to replacement for the generic cash gift cards of old, because people love free… whatever, and iTunes sells just about everything imaginable in the entertainment media industry.  That’s a tough nut to crack, but Google is giving it a go with Google Play.  Unfortunately, Google Play is the sort of thing you can’t give a gift card for… or is it?  That’s right; Google Play gift cards are coming to a store near you!

    Google has announced the gift cards, and said that they will be in meatspace via the stores Target, Gamestop, and Radioshack.  The gift cards will also be available online at Wal-Mart’s website, but not in stores yet.  The cards come in three denominations:  $10, $25, and $50.  While the cards aren’t good for magazine subscriptions, app subscriptions, or hardware/accessories, they’re good for basically everything else Google Play sells.

    “You can use them to purchase your favorite music, movies, books, apps, games and more,” said Google’s press release.  ”You can even use them to purchase in-app goods in your favorite games.”

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    August 17, 2012
    Steve Jobs’ Stolen iPad Ends Up In The Hands Of A Clown

    In a daring overnight robbery that took some 15 hours to complete, Kariem McFarlin completely burglarized the home of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.  The home, in Palo Alto, California, was undergoing renovation and as such, it was very easy to get into.  McFarlin made off with thousands of dollars worth of Jobs’ stuff, including iPods, iPhones, Macs, jewelry, and Jobs’ iPad.  That iPad disappeared shortly after McFarlin made off with it, but it ended up in good hands.  Kenny the Clown had Steve Jobs’ stolen iPad.

    “It would be like getting a football from Joe Montana that was stolen out of his house.  If this thing weren’t so tragic, it would be comical,” said Kenny, whose real name is Kenneth Kahn, who defended his acquaintance McFarlin.  ”He’s a nice guy who made a horrible, horrible decision.  Before the public sees him as this horrible monster, I’d like to hopefully think we can somehow get across that he just made the worst mistake of his life.”

    Kahn was planning on using the iPad for his clowning business.  He had downloaded some songs for use in his act entertaining tourists, but he never actually checked the contents of the iPad.  When police came looking for Jobs’ iPad (a 64 GB model), he turned it over without complaint.  Kenny says he had not connected the two events until after McFarlin was arrested on August 2.  McFarlin has been jailed on $500,000 bond and faces up to 8 years in prison if convicted.

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