Category Archives: Technology

The Next Cool Tool for Twitter—Live Activity Heatmaps

Twitter, my obsession for the past few weeks, has a bunch of great third-party tools being developed for it as we speak.  Twhirl, TweetStats, and MyMileMarker are a few examples of amazing creative ingenuity.  There is still much uncharted territory that has yet to be explored.  One tool I think that would receive a ton of exposure is a sort of live activity/heat map.

Think about it: how cool would it be to see a map of the entire world, and right after a huge news story (e.g. another earthquake), you are able to see where activity on Twitter picks up, and perhaps even have the application analyze keywords to create invidiaul groupings for that heatmap.  If “earthquake” is contained in the tweet, it will be available as another heatmap, and then you can see the activity of where “earthquake” tweets are involved.  I simply think this would be a fun tool to watch.

Heatmap

I would love to develop a tool like this, and if I was a programmer, this is what I’d be spending my time working on.  Perhaps, any of you programmers watching this right now should consider developing a tool like this for Twitter.  It is bound to explode in popularity, and I would be interested in testing it.

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Condé Nast Acquired One of My Favorite Blogs—Ars Technica

Ars Technica, known for bringing thorough and professional content to the blogosphere, has been acquired by Condé Nast Publications for an estimated $25 million.  Nice chunk of change for a blog.  Truth be told, I think it was a brilliant move by the company, and I hope they integrate more of the great content on Ars to the Wired.com site.

Is it good or bad that premiere journalistic publications are now snatching up blogs?  Truth be told, I am not sure.  On the one hand, you can assume that blogs are becoming a more valuable resource, and large publications are willing to shell out the green stuff to snatch them up.  However, it also shows the willingness of bloggers to sell out.  What happens when all the large publications reap the profits of smaller blogs that are snatched up left and right, and then, perhaps, gain monopolistic ties with advertising entities?

However, I would just like to congratulate Ars Technica.  I really do like Wired Magazine and Wired.com.  Hopefully this combination works out well, and I am looking forward to more great content from Ars Technica in the future.

Automatically Change Your Mac’s Background Wallpaper

I have recently installed a nifty application called Desktoptopia, and I am fairly impressed with the usefulness and quality this application provides.  It used to be a pay-for application, but now it is free.  Desktoptopia essentially gives you the ability to subscribe to pictorial feeds, and with this ability, you can keep your desktop fresh with new and changing content.

This video, unfortunately, does not show off the ability to subscribe to feeds of pictures, but it is an awesome functionality.  I mean, for example, if you go to a Flickr group, then go to all the pictures contained within that group, and finally click on the “pool” feed near the bottom of the page, you can paste that link to the feed into Desktoptopia and have those pics streaming to your desktop in no time.

There is a catch—Desktoptopia seems to be integrating a way to make money from their efforts, but I can’t knock them for that.  The application reserves a special feed for advertisers.  I have a “films” feed activated that I can not disabled, and I am certain that hollywood would appreciate the opportunity to advertise on our desktops.  I hope it won’t be too distracting, and there were no pictures in that group at the time of testing the application, but it seems a small price to pay (especially if the advertiser’s backgrounds are cool) for a great application.

There is an alternative, and that would be DeskLickr which I have previously used as well.  Unfortunately, the application will work for awhile, but then the pictures will stop rotating for some unknown reason. I have yet to figure out why, but if any of you have experienced the same issue, then please let me know.  It does work as advertised, but that minor quirk with it is fairly disappointing.

An Obsession So Great—Twitter

Twitter Logo

Okay, so it is almost an understatement to say that Twitter has become my new obsession. It has simply changed my way of thinking when it comes to the social web. Twitter is a glimpse into the future, and while it isn’t perfect (information overload comes to mind), it is fascinating to be in touch with others.

My Twitter account has quickly grown, and I think I am going to end up having over 100 followers by the end of the month, but it is even more fascinating how I can get answers, ideas, and feedback in an instant from people.  I just absolutely love knowing what my friends are up to at this very moment.  Sure there are those people that can abuse Twitter, but beyond those few that abuse it, I just absolutely love it.

If you want to be my friend on Twitter, please feel free to follow me.  If you seem like an interesting person, I will surely follow you back (especially if your a tech geek like me).  I try to post links to interesting stories that relate to web 2.0, technology, and blogging.  I might just turn out to be a valuable resource!

Oh, and I just wanted to appologize for not posting all that much recently.  My new obsession has taken away from personal blogging time, but I think things have calmed down.  I am back!

The Best Way To Perform An Assassination? Use Lightning Storms!

Lightning

European students at the University of Lyon are flirting with the idea of controlling lightning. Scientists believe that being able to control lightning will allow researchers to study lightning’s affects on our planet, transportation, and power lines, but I think it will make quite the impressive weapon for the future. Soon will we be questioning if a freak accident by mother nature was a successful assassination?

Considering my fascination with weather—specifically lightning—I say let the Europeans do their thing. I would love to understand how lightning works, and I guess it would be a great thing. I don’t know how feasible it would be to create a weapon out of lightning, and I am not sure I would even want to know about it. A scary thought, I say. However, I think this is a cool story.

What do you think?

[Source: Optics Express VIA Popular Science | Image Credit: Ominous—Warren Rohne]

Getting Your Webcam To Work On Stickam

I see a lot of search terms similar to “how to get this (insert webcam model) webcam to work on Stickam” bringing people to this blog. This was even before my latest post about HD webcams. I don’t know why, but I am feeling helpful. This is a guide on how to get your new (or old) webcam to work on that wonderful site called Stickam.

Step 1: Install Your Camera Drivers (If Required)

If your webcam did not come pre-installed or built-in on your computer, then chances are high that you will need to install drivers to have your webcam work correctly on your operating system. Almost every webcam should have drivers for Windows XP, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Windows Vista. Mac OS X is becoming popular as well, and most major webcam manufacturers will provide you with drivers for that operating system as well. if you are running Linux, this is where things get quite difficult, unfortunately—Google becomes your best friend in this case.

Step 2: Check to See If the Webcam Works

After you have installed the drivers, there should be an application with the drivers to use for taking pictures, recording video, etc. Take the time to ensure that the webcam works, and also use this time to adjust video settings to your liking. If you do not have software that does this, try WebcamMax or CamTwist.

Step 3: Enter a Room on Stickam

This part of the guide is obvious. Either pick a room to enter or go live. You might be lucky if the webcam automagically turns on, but if not, just read on.

Step 4: Change the Video Source Settings

If you are outputting audio (if you have a built-in mic or external mic) but your webcam screen is blank, it is likely because your video source has not been properly selected. In this case, you should right click anywhere within the Stickam room until you have a popup that allows you to chose Settings. Do this, and then you will presented with a popup window that has a few tabs on the bottom—you are looking for the webcam. Select the proper video source (keep trying every one until it works correctly), and then it should be mission accomplished.

Step 5: Bust a Move

Congratulations. You are now ready to interact with other people on one of the first impressive live video communication sites ever. If you have any additional questions, leave them in the comments.

Where Are The High-Definition (HD) Webcams?

Continuing my discussion of high-definition technology, Tekzilla brought to everyone’s attention about the lack of HD webcam technology. To put it simply, even some of the former TechTV staff couldn’t locate an HD webcam. That is pretty pathetic considering how the price of high-def televisions and camcorders are rapidly dropping.

logitech_quickcam_9000_quickcam_pro.jpg

Sure, doing HD video conversations might piss off your local internet service provider if you do it all the time, but we are pretty much screwed anyway as the desire for high-definition content rapidly increases. The first company to release an HD webcam is likely to pick up plenty of customers, and I am slightly annoyed that there is only one company, Logitech, that offers quality products like these. Logitech doesn’t even offer Linux support.

To all consumer electronics companies that need a great idea:

Create an affordable high-definition webcam that will shoot and record true 720p (1280 x 720) at 30 frames-per-second. Make it compatible with everything, and for goodness sake, offer Mac and Linux support! We shouldn’t have to wait until CES 2009 to have this technology on the market, but if we do, another company (like Logitech) will gladly step up to the challenge.