SEMGURU – A Web 2.0 Blog

According to Apple, the marketplace is launching with over 1,000 paid and free apps in categories ranging from games to productivity. As with the company’s mobile store available on the iPad and iPhone, users can search for apps, find out “what’s hot,” check out staff favorites, and see the most-downloaded programs in different categories.

Apple itself is selling iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand for $14.99 each. Its Pages, Keynote, and Numbers apps are available for $19.99 in the store. It’s also selling Aperture 3, its photo-editing software, for $79.99.

“With more than 1,000 apps, the Mac App Store is off to a great start,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a statement. “We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps.”

But it’s important to note that the Mac App Store won’t be offered to every Mac owner. The store is available only to Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard users through the free 10.6.6 software update. It will also be made available in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion when it launches later this year.

On the development side, Apple is keeping the same revenue-sharing policy it has in place for its mobile app store. Developers selling paid apps will keep 70 percent of the revenue generated from sales, while Apple will take the remaining 30 percent. Developers offering free apps won’t be charged anything to make their programs available in the Mac marketplace.

 

The 2010 Hockey World Cup will be the twelfth instalment of the Men’s Hockey World Cup. On November 14, 2007, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced that the championship would be held in India, taking place over two weeks from Feb 28 to March 13, 2010 at New Delhi’s Dhyan Chand National Stadium.

Many of us have even forgotten about “Hockey”, our national game which had brought laurels for our country, a record of six Olympic gold medals, from 1928-56 which has been till today an unbreakable record. But hockey and its players are not getting their due respect, recognition and money in our country. So Indian hockey players boycotting training sessions for world cup should not sound shocking.

Lets collect together funds to support our team and cheer up our players for world cup.

Its time to give our National Game its due respect, so all Indians- CHAK DE!

Mozilla has released its first release candidate, RC1, for Firefox 3.6 for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

The new version includes Personas, which lets people customize the browser’s appearance; blocks third-party software from encroaching on its file system turf to increase stability; and perhaps most significantly given the competitive threat from Google Chrome, shortens start-up time and improves responsiveness and JavaScript performance.

Firefox 3.6 RC1 is also available from Mozilla’s download site.

People can notice skins and better performance, but there also are changes deeper under the hood that developers should know about. One is support for the File interface, which can help with tasks like uploading multiple photos and is part of the draft HTML5 standard effort. Another deeper change is running scripts asynchronously, which can help load a Web page faster by putting off some work until the high-priority chores are complete.

Mozilla had hoped to release the updated browser in 2009 as part of a higher-frequency release schedule, but gave itself a bit more time for Firefox 3.6 and 4.0.

The web has been abuzz the past few weeks with chatter about Microsoft’s announcement today at its Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans about the new version of Microsoft Office 2010. There’s even a mini-movie about its debut. Facing potential challenges from Google’s browser-based Apps products and its new Chrome OS, Microsoft has been touting its three screens strategy, which is the ability for products to synchronize across the phone, browser, and desktop, for some time now.

With the release of Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010 and Visio 2010, we finally see the implementation of Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie’s mantra. We had the opportunity to see an in-depth demo of the new suite of products from Microsoft’s Group Product Manager for Office 2010, Chris Bryant. Here’s a complete breakdown of all the functionality that has been added, including screenshots:

The Move To The Browser

Most certainly a direct response to Google Apps, Microsoft is rolling out lightweight, FREE, Web browser versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. All based in the cloud, the web-based versions of these products have fewer features than their desktop cousins but still give users basic tools to edit and change documents.

PowerPoint 2010

PowerPoint has been upgraded not only with a new browser version, but also a slew of bells and whistles have been added to the desktop version. Users now have the capability of editing video and images within PowerPoint with a basic video editing tool (not so different from the capabilities of iMovie) and an image editing tool, which is like a basic, simple version of Adobe Photoshop. Microsoft has also added the ability for users to launch a WebEx-like live sharing feature with other users. So if you create a slideshow in PowerPoint, you can share it with other people in real-time (which can be run on top of Sharepoint).

Here’s what the video editing tools look like in PowerPoint:

To share a deck with other users, you send an email to individuals with a link. Once they click the link, they will see the slideshow within the browser. This feature can also be used on a mobile phone’s browser. You can also create a slideshow in the desktop version and then publish it to the web version to access it via the browser. The browser version of PowerPoint doesn’t include the video editing features, but most of the functionality of 2008 is included in the browser version.

Excel 2010

Excel spreadsheets can now run in the browser, and similar to PowerPoint, spreadsheets can be published to the browser via the desktop version. The browser version of Excel has limited features, but offers more in-depth functionality than Google Spreadsheets. Microsoft has added a particularly innovative feature called Sparklines, which gives a visual snapshot image of a data trend over time within a cell. You can also share Excel via the browser with other users and set special permissions on who can access the document.

Here’s what the web version of Excel looks like:

Word 2010

Bryant says that the number one piece of feedback from users producing documents on Microsoft Word is that they want to preserve the look and feel of a document created in the desktop version in the browser. Microsoft calls this “document fidelity” and created the browser version of MS Word accordingly. In the browser, documents retain the same look and feel as in the desktop. The browser version still has the “ribbon user interface,” where you can change fonts, size, formatting, styles etc.

An image of the web version of Word:

Microsoft has also updated the desktop version to have collaborative features so that multiple users can be editing a document at once. This collaboration is not available in the web version, unfortunately. Microsoft says that users don’t want this feature but this might be a move to protect the Office revenue model.

When two people are editing the same document (in the desktop version) at the same time, Word will notify each user when there are changes that need to be synced with their document. The copy/paste function of the desktop version has also received an upgrade, where you can see see a live preview for the paste function. The paste function also has an advanced option to create and insert screenshots. To make moving around a long document easier, Word now has a visual navigation pane and section header breakdown which makes it easy to jump around different sections of a document.

Outlook 2010

Outlook 2010 now has a ribbon user interface, like Word, PowerPoint and Excel. The UI of email conversations has been upgraded to look almost like a message tree, allowing users a more visual view of sent and incoming emails. Search functionality has been improved as well, making it much easier to find content. Also, you can preview calendars in emails and choose to ignore selective email conversations.

Sharepoint 2010

Like Outlook, Sharepoint now gets a ribbon UI, making the document-hosting product more similar to Microsoft’s flagship products, like Word. You can tag authors of documents now and can share documents and files more easily.

Microsoft says that its browser versions have been tested on all major browsers aside from internet Explorer, including Firefox and Safari. Office 2010 is still being tested and reworked to function on Chrome. Microsoft also announced that it is streamlining the number of Office editions from eight to five. Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; via on-premises versions; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription of MS Office. Microsoft says Office 2010 will be available in the first half of next year.

The key part of all of this news is the free, browser-based versions of Microsoft’s most popular Office products. Bryant says that Microsoft expects the browser products to be especially popular amongst student, but I think that the web-based applications will be hugely popular in the enterprise space as well, as long as there are security precautions taken to put documents in a secure part of the cloud.

But as more and more businesses are becoming comfortable with trusting cloud environments, Microsoft’s move to the browser could pay off in a big way, especially because it’s so easy to use both the desktop and browser versions of products interchangeably. The more successful Microsoft is in its browser strategy, the more they validate Google’s approach in the space, which will eventually put price pressure on Office.

To run these samples you need a recent trunk build or the Chrome dev channel release.

Google Mail Checker

Displays a toolbar button that shows how many messages are in your Google Mail inbox.

Install

Subscribe in Feed Reader

Adds a button to the URL bar when a page has a feed that can be subscribed to. Clicking the button takes you to subscribe to a feed.

Install

BuildBot Monitor

Shows the current status of the Chromium Build Bot.

Install

Google’s Matt Cutts hinted this past week that Google is considering using a site’s speed as part of the algorithm that ranks the order of pages in its search results. Fast sites might rank higher, while slower-loading sites might suffer. It’s a proposal that’s proving controversial.

To quote from Cutts’ video interview on WebProNews:

“We’re starting to think more and more about should speed be a factor in Google’sGoogle rankings?

…A lot of people within Google think that the web should be fast, it should be a good experience; and so it’s sort of fair to say if you’re a fast site, maybe you should get a little bit of a bonus. Or maybe if you have a really awfully slow site, users don’t want that as much.”


Reasons for Ranking Fast Sites Higher


I can think of plenty of good reasons why Google might pursue this strategy: a fast web is better for users, site owners, and Google itself. For instance:

1. Google searches are more productive: Giving fast-loading sites a boost in the rankings improves the user experience for those coming from Google.com. You’ll know that if a site is near the top of the results, you won’t be waiting an eternity after clicking.

2. User experience improvements on wider web: with site owners incentivized to improve speed to appease Google, the whole web might speed up. That’s better for users.

3. More revenue for everyone: Google ads are everywhere on the web, so giving site owners an incentive to address speed issues increases pageviews, clicks and revenue for both the publishers and Google itself.


Reasons Against Ranking Fast Sites Higher


Some are none too pleased with the proposal, however. In particular, blogger Douglas Karr is up in arms about the idea that Google would prioritize fast sites and penalize slow ones.

His main argument against the move: penalizing slow sites would mean that the “little guy”, running a successful site on his GoDaddy hosting account, would be knocked out of the Google rankings by big companies that could afford “loadsharing, caching, web acceleration or cloud technologies”. There are other strong reasons against too:

1. Favors big / powerful sites: As Karr notes, big companies are best able to plow resources into technical prowess. This could disrupt Google’s egalitarian basis, and the whole idea of the web as a meritocracy.

2. Greatest benefits go to Google: Who benefits most from Google.com results loading fast for the user? Who gets the most benefit when millions of sites running AdSense suddenly have a lot more inventory (users click more on faster sites)? Who saves masses of money on crawling the web if web site owners optimize their pages for speed? Which company is able to grow its stock price faster the more people get online and have a good web experience? Google, Google, Google. Publishers get an individual benefit, of course, but in aggregate the value is really greatest for Google itself.

3. The fastest site isn’t always the best result: If I’m searching for a local business, I probably want to find its website. But local businesses rarely have sites optimized for speed; the big business listings sites would almost certainly score higher on the speed metric. The same rule applies across numerous industries: speed and relevance are not related.

Google updated the music search OneBox, which used to include song titles, album names and some other information licensed from AllMusic. The new music search OneBox is only focused on finding music, previewing songs and easily buying them.

Search for an artist, an album name or even some lyrics and Google returns a list of songs that can be played with one click. Full music previews are provided by iLike andLala, but Google also links to other music sites: PandoraRhapsody and imeem. When you click on a music result, Google opens a player in a pop-up window, which isn’t very user-friendly.

“With Lala, you can hear one full length preview per song. Each subsequent play will be a 0:30 clip,” explains Lala. This limitation is very easy to bypass: just clear the cookies for lala.com.

The OneBox is limited to the US, probably because the music sites that partnered with Google can provide full previews only in the US. I didn’t manage to trigger the OneBox, not even using a US proxyThe sample searches provided by Google include some additional parameters that need to be added to a Google URL:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Bob+Dylan&esrch=MusicOneboxDemoOptin::LaunchDemoOptIn

Google says it will be “rolling this feature out gradually to users across the U.S. over the next day”.

google-music


Not wanting to feel left out, Yahoo reminds users that it launched a similar feature last year. “Since launching a partnership with Rhapsody in September 2008 and launching the FoxyPlayer last year, music has been an integral part of the Yahoo! Search experience as well. We have found that nearly 6 percent of all Yahoo! searches are music-related.”

 

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