Opinion

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Drinking and driving is never a good idea, but if you to ensure that your DUI mugshot never goes viral, it'd be a good idea to stay especially sober while driving through the city of Huntington Beach, CA. According to the Associated Press, Huntington Beach's city council is currently considering a proposal that would allow the city's police department to post mugshots of everyone arrested for DUI on the city's Facebook page.

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According to research firm ChangeWave, 15% of AT&T's mobile subscribers plan to switch carriers in the next 90 days. Even worse for AT&T, 26% of its iPhone users plan to defect to Verizon once it gets the iPhone (41% within the 90 days after the release of the iPhone and 31% within a year). With numbers like this and the general undercurrent of dislike for AT&T in the tech blogosphere, these statistics are obviously catnip for the tech press and most outlets reported them as simple facts.

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One trend that's very clear at this year's CES is that the Internet is slowly making its way into cars. Of course, you can already browser the net and play music from Pandora through your smartphone, but the next generation of cars - and especially electric cars - are making the Internet an integral part of the car's feature set.

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Lots of great stuff happened in the tech world in 2010, but for every success like the iPad and Roku, there was also a major disappointment along the way. The bigger the hype, the greater the disappointment, of course, so this lists features the top three products and events in 2010 that, in my view, were the biggest letdowns.

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Augemented reality was one of the most overused buzzwords of the year, but for the most part, the applications we saw weren't really augmenting reality. Instead, like Layar and others, they take a phone's camera picture, GPS coordinates and compass heading and provide users with an overlay of nearby sights and shops. For some apps - especially stargazing apps like Star Walk - this is fine, but for most use cases, it's not really useful. Another type of augmented reality (AR) app that's hot right now uses paper markers and replaces them with 3D animation on your phone's screen - even Hallmark is getting in this business now, but it's more of a gimmick than a useful application of AR. The real promise of AR reaches far beyond this, however.

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As the year draws to an end, it's hard not to look back and think about all the cool apps that I looked at over the last 12 months. I'll talk a little bit about my favorite apps and biggest disappointments in other posts, but I also wanted to highlight some of the coolest apps and Web Services that I use all the time but that didn't get a lot of mainstream (or even tech blog) coverage in the last year and that deserve another look. Without further ado, here is my list for 2010.

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Facebook is launching an email service on Monday. While that's only a rumor for now, I think it’s a well substantiated one and there is little doubt in my mind that that's what we are going to get. But this won't be a "Gmail killer" as the project is apparently internally known at Facebook. Sadly, though, the meme that this could really be a Gmail killer is already making its rounds and won't let up until Monday - when exhausted bloggers will likely split into two camps: those who think Facebook just killed Gmail and those who are disappointed that it didn't.

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Somehow I completely missed the fact that those new blue "shared by" links on Google News results that appeared on my main search results pages a few days were new. Given the pace of the search giant's development cycle, I have to admit that I'm sometimes actually rather confused about what's new and what's been around for a while on Google.

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As I'm thinking about the sale of TechCrunch to AOL and Jason Calacanis' ideas for how to take tech reporting to the next level (in the form of an email newsletter), I can't help but think about what the next generation of tech blogs will look like. Since the early days of tech blogging, the field has become more professionalized and the major blogs now have plenty of full- and half-time staffers who ensure that no nuance of the tech world goes uncovered. While Twitter and Facebook have changed the way these publications find readers for their stories (in the early days, RSS feeds used to be a huge source of traffic), the blogs themselves all still look pretty much the same (one exception - at least with regards to their homepage, is the rapidly expanding The Next Web).

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Apple just released a new version of iTunes for Mac and PC that makes some much-needed changes to how the company integrates its social network Ping into the application. Until now, not only was Ping somewhat hidden in iTunes, but you could also only really interact with it from within the iTunes store and not from within your iTunes library. Unless your friends are compulsive music shoppers, chances are that few of them ever went through the store to mark their favorite songs. Now, however, in the new version of iTunes (10.0.1), you can very easily like songs right from within your music library and you can choose to see a sidebar with the latest activity from your Ping friends while browsing your library. Chances are that this will raise the activity level on Ping, though it remains to be seen if this will be a dramatic change.

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Whenever I hear people discussing Microsoft, it usually doesn't take long before somebody mentions that the Redmond-based giant is like a huge oil tanker. It takes a while to turn such a huge company around and get it back on track. When Microsoft stumbled after the dotcom boom and couldn't even produce a viable browser to compete with the open-source offerings of Mozilla, quite a few pundits assumed that the age of Microsoft was about to come to an end (the less said about the disaster that was Windows Vista, the better).

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Yesterday, Facebook launched Facebook Places, its new location-sharing service. As a location-sharing service, Facebook as about as barebones as they come. The functionality is limited to checking in and sharing your location with your Facebook friends. Thanks to its enormous number of users, Facebook is able to bring location-sharing back to its basics, while others...

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I used to think that location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Brightkite and all of their clones represented the next big thing in mobile. The reality, however, is that even though these companies are still growing (or at least say they are), I just can't figure out why I should continue to check in when I arrive at a restaurant...