We hear a lot about Google’s relationship with publishers, but this week the search giant also quietly launched it’s own publication in the UK. Think Quarterly, which calls itself a “a breathing space in a busy world” is, as the name implies, a quarterly online magazine. The design almost feels somewhat reminiscent of of Wired, with a strong focus on infographics and large photos. The articles themselves come both from writers inside of Google and freelancers. The first edition focuses on “data,” but the articles run the gamut from a discussion of Near Field Communication to an interview with “data superstar” Hans Rosling. The bias is obviously towards Google products, though some of the interviews could easily stand on their own in other publications.
Yahoo just launched some interesting updates to its search product. Even though Yahoo's search backend is now powered by Microsoft's Bing, Yahoo remains in charge of how it presents this data. The new Yahoo Search somewhat resembles Google Instant, but is actually, in some way, a cleverer solution that brings together Bing's "Bing boxes" and Google Instant.
Wikipedia is undoubtedly among the most useful websites on the Internet, but it definitely is not among the prettiest. Its utilitarian design doesn’t exactly look inviting, but if you are a Chrome user, a new extension now makes the site far more readable. The Readability-inspired Wikipedia Beautifier fades out all the extra crud around the text and allows you to fully focus on the article itself.
It took more than 10 years, but after filing for a patent for a "provides a periodically changing story line and/or a special event company logo to entice users to access a web page" in April 2001, the U.S. Patent Office today granted Google's Segey Brin a patent for the company's iconic Doodles. Google Doodles are the variations on the company's logo that it uses celebrating holidays and special events. They appear on Google.com and its international versions.
Google just granted $1 million to a team of Georgia Tech researchers in order to enable them to build a "suite of web-based, Internet-scale measurement tools that any user around the world could access for free." Once released, this test will include traditional speed measurement tools, but most importantly, it is also meant to tell users if their ISPs or governments are tampering with the data they send and receive. The project is funded by Google's Focused Research program
Mozilla just released Firefox 4, the next generation of its popular Internet browser. The new version is not just significantly faster than Firefox 3, but it also features a new, highly streamlined interface and a number of new tools that should make Firefox 4 even more popular among power users (many of which moved to Google Chrome during Firefox 4's prolonged development phase).
Firefox 4's official release data is tomorrow, but the final version of Mozilla's latest browser is already available on the project's FTP servers. Just pick the right version and language for your system (Windows, Linux or Mac) and you are ready to go.
In a few years time, the story of Digg – the once popular social news/bookmarking service – will likely be a textbook case of a big brand didn’t manage to change with the times. For now, Digg is still a decently large site, though down significantly from its heights pre-Digg v4. The end for Digg as we know it could be near, though. According to TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington, Digg founder Kevin Rose has resigned from the company. Rumor is that he is closing a $1 million financing round for a new startup.
To my surprise, I just received free access to NYTimes.com for the rest of 2011. Sponsored by Ford's Lincoln brand, the New York Times is offering free accounts to "an exclusive group of frequent visitors to NYTimes.com."
The New York Times today erected an online paywall for its readers in Canada and plans to roll this system out worldwide on March 28. NYTimes.com readers will be able to access 20 articles per month for free. The New York Times will also charge users of its smartphone and tablet apps, though the Top News section in these apps will remain free. Monthly subscriptions will start at $15 per month for access to the website and smartphone app. For access to the website and tablet app - but not the smartphone apps - user have to pay $20. Full access to NYTimes.com content on all platforms will cost $35. There is no website-only subscription.
The developers of Readability, the service that makes reading text online better by stripping sites down to their basics and allowing readers to just focus on the text, just launched their newest project at the SXSW conference in Austin. This new application, Donahue, provides conference attendees and presenters with a new way to interact during talks. The idea behind Donahue is based on the reality that the audience members at most tech conferences today often spend more time looking at their screens than at the presenters.
The Internet today is brimming with social sharing buttons. As social networks now drive more traffic than virtually any other kind of site, there is hardly any site left today that doesn't at least feature a Twitter and Facebook button to make sharing stories easier. Spread.ly is the latest entrant in the market of third-party sharing buttons and introduces an innovative twist to social sharing: deals.
A few weeks ago, Google introduced a Chrome plugin that allowed you to block sites you didn't want to see in your results pages. Now, the search giant is taking this concept a step further and allows anybody to block sites right from the search results page. There is a slight twist to this, though. The link to the block feature will only appear after you have visited a site. So if you want to block a site that you deem to be offensive or of low quality, you first have to visit it before you can block it.
I'm a jaded tech blogger, but Microsoft's HoloLens project is without doubt the most exciting project to come out of Redmond in years. After years of talk about augmented reality, this may be the first project that actually lives up to the hype.