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First Suite of Google Android Applications

Androidsdk_2 USA Today is reporting that A La Mobile, a small software developer, plans to announce today a host of new applications designed to run on the Google-backed operating system, Android. For now the applications are installed in an HTC smartphone, and include a browser, camera, games, contacts manager, audio player and more. HTC is just one of 34 companies in Google's Open Handset Alliance, so this is really just the start. Google says to expect an Android-based phone later this year.

Netflix Without the Mailings

Netflix Netflix just announced plans to begin dispatching movies straight to televisions through an LG-Electronics-made, Internet-connected set-top box. Netflix distributes most of its content—movies, TV shows and more—the old-fashioned way: through the mail. More than 7 million subscribers take part in one of its many rental plans, sending and receiving DVDs in small square envelopes. Now, thanks to high-speed Internet connections, the company is hoping to quicken the process, and allow customers to rent movies via the Web.

Netflix has already dipped its toes into this arena, but its "Watch Instantly" program hasn't fully caught on, in part because most users had to watch the content on their computers. The LG box will change that, allowing users to watch up to 40 hours of movies and shows per month. The selection isn't as great, but it's still significant. The company's DVD library is 90,000 titles strong, and the online selection currently has more than 6,000 options.

The LG partnership is also just a first step. Netflix plans to sign deals with numerous electronics companies, and transform itself into more of a movie channel than an Internet-age Blockbuster. Will it be the leader in online video rentals? Apple might have something to say about that.—Gregory Mone

How Americans Use the Web

Library The Pew Internet & American Life Project released a study this past weekend that details how we use the Internet. Apparently, 58 percent of Americans go online when looking for information about health, school, taxes, jobs, voting, legal issues, immigration and other key issues. That may seem low, but relative to other potential sources, it's surprisingly high. Only 36 percent, for example, looked to traditional media such as magazines and newspapers, and 45 percent turned to friends and family. Furthermore, only 13 percent went to the library. Surprisingly, though, 40 percent of respondents in the 18 to 30 age bracket known as Generation Y said they'd go to those book-filled buildings for information. Not necessarily for the stacks, though. 65 percent of them said they'd go to libraries because they have computers.—Gregory Mone

Via Information Week

Beware Holiday Email Scams

It's the time of year for parties, sitting around the fire, relaxing with the family and, for many people, opening strange email attachments and allowing their machines to become infected. Last year, security researchers identified an enormous botnet—a network of infected computers controlled by hackers - that built much of its illicit network through holiday-themed emails. An infected computer might then be used to spam other users, potentially implicating the innocent owner of the machine in cybercrime. We should all know better than to click on or open something suspicious, but, for this holiday season, the computer forensics research team at the university of Alabama Birmingham has put together a helpful list of suspect subject lines. Check it out here.—Gregory Mone

Via NewsWise

The Annual Google Zeitgeist

Teenstars_large Google just released its annual summary of the hottest topics on the Web, the 2007 Year-End Zeitgeist. In the U.S., the fastest-rising search was—surprise, surprise—the iPhone. But besides that obvious winner, the other winners are certainly interesting. Kids clearly had some influence, as Webkinz grabbed the number two slot, and Club Penguin, a Disney-owned, child-safe online community, wasn't too far behind. The most popular lawsuit? That honor belongs to Borat. It's an interesting compilation to sort through, though not always reassuring for science-minded type. After spotting "Who is Keppler?" on the top ten list of "Who is" questions, I wondered if 2007 had brought a sudden surge of interest in the history of cosmology, even if the name wasn't spelled quite right. Alas, that's not the case. All those Internet sleuths were looking for the Keppler of CSI fame.—Gregory Mone

A Techie Word of the Year

Wootcoffee Merriam-Webster, the dictionary publisher, awarded "w00t" with the title of word of the year. The word, which is typically spelled with two zeros in the middle, is the equivalent of "yay." It's an expression of joy. The origin of the word is debated - some say it's derived from a sound made in the game Quake III. Others say it came from Dungeons and Dragons, and is shorthand for "Wow, loot!" Still others attribute it to hackers, calling it code for root access to a computer.

Regardless, it's one of a host of new alphanumeric words that have popped out of our text-messaging and game-loving culture.—Gregory Mone

YouTube To Open Ad Program to Amateur Filmmakers

YouTube, the online video giant, announced plans yesterday to expand its advertising program to a number of amateur movie-makers. Ads will be spliced into the videos, and the creators will get the chance to share the revenue with Google, YouTube's corporate parent.

The ad program itself isn't brand new. YouTube picked a small group of established content producers to test its pilot program. But now the site will let users apply to be part of the revenue-generating machine. The favorites will be those who post frequently, have a loyal following, and stick to YouTube's rules. Currently, it's available in the US and Canada, but will probably expand soon, if the community's demands have anything to do with it. The very first comment to YouTube's blog post on the subject: When are you going to expand this to Slovenia? It's the big question on all of our minds.—Gregory Mone


Facebook Founder Apologizes for Ad System

Zuckerberg The social-networking site Facebook may have to find another way to cash in on its huge user base. The company's new "social ads" program, called Beacon, has been controversial, forcing company founder Mark Zuckerberg (pictured here) to apologize, and tell users that they can turn it off if they like.

With Beacon, if a user bought a ticket through the movie site Fandango.com, his or her entire network would be informed. This didn't go over well. Moveon.org put together a protest and overstock.com, one of Facebook's ad partners, backed out after getting too many complaints. So, it looks like the company will keep looking for less invasive or annoying ways to generate revenue, and justify its enormous valuation. This isn't necessarily a devastating blow to Facebook, though. Some experts say the company simply needs to learn how to mind its manners, and all will be well again in its corner of Web 2.0.—Gregory Mone

MySpace Trick Gone Wrong Yields No Charges

Artmyspacemegan In September of last year, a 13-year-old girl was contacted through MySpace by someone claiming to be a teenage boy named Josh Evans. The two corresponded for a month, but then the tone of their exchanges switched, and "Evans" accused the girl of treating her friends poorly, and told her that he wanted to end their friendship. A day later, the girl hanged herself. Eventually it came out that an older neighbor was posing as Josh Evans to learn what she thought of another girl. Yesterday, the local police department announced that no charges will be filed, provoking outrage from the victim's family.—Gregory Mone

Avoiding the Awkward Moments Through IM

Kid_computer Could it be that instant-messaging is making those teen years a bit more bearable? A new poll shows that 43 percent of teens use instant-messaging to express something they wouldn't say face-to-face. Some use it to ask others on dates. Others use it to break-up.

While a bit frightening, this doesn't exactly mean that instant-messaging is creating a population of kids who use technology to avoid confrontation, discomfort and more of life's little unpleasantries. Plenty of people used parchment and quill for the same purposes years ago. They probably just took a little more time to pick their words.

Some other stats from the poll: Overall, nearly half of teens say they use the quick and easy form of communication. Ten percent use it for more than three hours a day. Which is so sad, since they could be using that time for more productive ends, like watching TV.—Gregory Mone

Via Yahoo News

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