I'm back from Barcelona and the GSMA World Congress. For five days I was up to my ears in cell phones and tapas (not at the same time) but I came away with some fresh insights into our global mobile world. As the largest cell phone show on the planet, GSMA produced a lot of news this year. Samsung, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson all announced new models, and hundreds of other companies jockeyed for the spotlight, as well. Senior Editor Bonnie Cha and I were just two of 55,000 GSMA attendees, but we manged to track down the … Read more
One of the best choices for online telephony for Mac just got better. The latest Skype update pushes the program to version 2.7.257 adding support for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and higher-resolution video for face-to-face video calls. The new default resolution is 640x480 pixels at 25 frames per second. You are only limited by your Webcam, so get out there and upgrade so that your friends and family can have a bigger, crisper view of your smiling mug on their desktop.
Skype has always been one of my favorite applications for its familiar chat-like interface, and … Read more
Are you new to Download.com Music and don't yet know what to do or where to start? Or maybe you're tired of iTunes and are looking for alternative ways to get new music. Or perhaps you're simply a Download Music regular who just wants to chat.
Whatever the case, join me today Thursday Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. Pacific time (2 p.m. Eastern) for a live online Q-and-A session, where I'll do my best to answer any and all music- or site-related questions you might have. To participate, just visit the live chat page … Read more
Remember ooVoo, that iChat-like video conferencing and chat tool we took a look at back in June? Today they've launched a new version that has got a handful of useful, powerful tools that make it a viable alternative for small workgroups using conference calls and screen-sharing applications, such as WebEx.
First up is a new recording feature that lets users tape video chats with other participants. Since the video and audio are being recorded to the hard drive, the only time limit is how much free space the computer has. In testing, I managed to get a nearly 15 minute, four-way video conversation down to 95 MB file. The application took about 10 minutes to convert my conversation into workable FLV file that was at a full 1MB/S quality. It can also step it down to 256kb/s or 512kb/s if the file needs to be smaller.
The other really useful feature is a new conference calling tool that gives host and participants a landline number to call. Other ooVoo users who call this conference line get plugged right into the audio that's a part of the video chat, and just like the video recordings, this audio gets archived too. The new call in lines support up to six people, meaning users can have up to a dozen participants--including those on the video side. The call in service is free this month, but it is moving to a by-the-minute model in March.
Besides the video recording, the other new feature that I think people are going to like is an optional piece of software that's a companion for ooVoo's video player. The companion has two main uses. The first is a screen sharing application that lets users show off an entire screen, or certain zoom levels, to other video chat participants. Users can also drop media files, such as music, pictures, or video into the stream for other users to view. Secondly, it's got a built-in facial overlay tool, like Fix8, that applies digital overlays either to users faces or to replace backgrounds. It's great fun.… Read more
Are you new to Download.com Music and don't yet know what to do or where to start? Or maybe you have a brand-new iPod (or other MP3 player), and you need some advice on (free) music to fill it up. Or perhaps you're simply a Download Music regular who just wants to chat. Whatever the case, join me on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 11 a.m. Pacific time (2 p.m. Eastern) for a live online Q-and-A session, where I'll do my best to answer any and all music- or site-related questions you might have.
To … Read more
You've got to hand it to Microsoft. The company knows how to go against the grain. Just at the moment that the rest of the planet has discovered that there is huge value in opening up, Microsoft has been stalking the web, demanding payment from startups that want to allow users to import their MSN contact lists to other web services, as Fortune notes.
Here's the "deal":If the company wants to offer other IM services (from Yahoo, Google or AOL, say), Messenger must get top billing. And if the startup wants to offer any other IM service, it must pay Microsoft 25 cents a user per year for a site license.
However, if a company wants to force its users to abandon 73% of their friends (assuming it's roughly a three-way race between AIM (53 million active users), MSN (27 million active users), and Yahoo! (22 million active users), then they can use MSN for free! Wow! Dave Rosenberg calls this "bizarre and stupid." I think he's being overly generous.… Read more
Update 8 a.m. PST January 14: Sorry, I ran out of invitations, but you can request them from Photophlow's home page. Update 8 a.m. PST January 11: I added links to a couple of helpful videos.
For a Web 2.0 powerhouse, Flickr feels awfully Web 1.0. At least that was my conclusion after spending a few hours in the chat rooms of Photophlow, a start-up that grafts a highly interactive experience on top of Yahoo's photo-sharing Web site.
Flickr deserves credit for pioneering what can be done with photos on the Internet beyond merely displaying photos and albums. Flickr advantages include tags that let members sort and search photos, groups for finding like-minded photographers and sharing photos, and maps to sift through pictures geographically.
But Photophlow, which presents a chat room interface to the act of browsing Flickr, makes all those interfaces seem static. For me, the site felt like wandering through a museum with a group of new acquaintances, commenting on pictures as we went from room to room. And some of the rooms featured our own pictures.
The site is invitation-only right now so that Oortle, the start-up behind Photophlow, can keep up with growth. I ran out of invitations, but you also can request one at the site, which is how I got in.
I'm not the only person who's favorably impressed.
'A comfy coffee lounge'"It really changes the way I use Flickr," said Alex Almeida, who publishes the Phat Photographer blog, who described Photophlow with a different metaphor. With its instant interaction, "it really is like a comfy coffee lounge with a big shoe box of photos where people can chat comfortably and pull any of those photos out of the shoebox and discuss them."
So whichever gift-giving deity you believe in has smiled on you this season and you're the recipient of a brand-new machine. Or maybe the computer gods have decided that December was the time for your PC to join that great server farm in the sky.
Either way, you're in need of some new programs. Free programs. You're in luck: CNET Download.com has compiled a brand-new Windows Starter Kit, complete with all that your freeware-coveting heart could ever desire. This year we bring you a Web Browser, an E-mail Client, Office and Productivity tools, Image Editors, Music and Video Jukeboxes, … Read more
The move to archive nearly everything we do online has been spearheaded mainly by Google in both Gmail as well as Google Web history. The same thing is happening in the chat space with Meebo and Google Talk, as well as desktop chat clients that have had integrated chat logging for years now. The one thing missing has been a way to take those locally saved conversations and make them available for search and reading while away from your home machine. IM History and Simkl are two companies have jumped on the task in an attempt to let people archive … Read more
Looking at previous iterations of Camfrog, the popular and free video chatting software, it was hard to deny that it offered a wide range of options and experiences for video chat aficionados. It was also hard to deny that the user interface was a disastrous mess of modular windows that made maneuvering through the program a frustrating and sometimes confusing journey. The new version of Camfrog has fixed that.