I hate platform wars

Hulu Plus on Roku.I hate them. Hate them hate them hate them. News broke this week that Hulu would be launching on Roku streaming devices, as well as TiVo premiere. It’s only Hulu Plus, for now, but the whole world is crying out against AppleTV as a result.

I think they’re right, too. AppleTV doesn’t have nearly enough options to merit spending money on. It’s a gamble right now, and unless you’re confident in your cracking skills and have a lot of your own video to stream, AppleTV just doesn’t make sense. EXCEPT…

That it’s the best looking software out there and the growth potential is huge. Unfortunately, Apple could pull together the support for launch, mostly because networks didn’t want to go down to $.99 rentals (but most networks show for free online – seriously, just give me free streaming already). Apple launched, thinking success would change some opinions, but with the market the way it is, there might not be massive support behind Apple, which means we get to watch the streaming marketplace splinter, just like Blu-ray/HD-DVD, and hope that whoever we picked wins out in the end. I realize this is kinda the point of capitalism, but I want to make my choice based on how good the product is, not who managed to buddy up with the owner of Hulu over the weekend.

The Photoshop photobomb tool from College Humor

If you’ve ever seen a Photoshop tutorial video, you know the program can often look a lot like magic. Well, this video offers you a different kind of magic. The magic that allows you to photobomb your friends and family with ease. If you don’t know, photobombing is the practice of ruining a photo by appearing in the background, typically doing something distracting. As you can guess, that often means something crude, so this video isn’t quite safe for work, unless, like me, you work from home.

Official Google Voice app might already be approved

Google Voice logo.It’s been more than a year since Apple pulled the original Google Voice app from the App Store, claiming that the product “duplicated existing functionality.” Some third-party GV apps have since made their way to the App Store, thanks in part to Apple’s decision to release app guidelines to the public. If TechCrunch is right, it sounds like the official Google Voice app may already be approved, marking the triumphant return of one of the most anticipated applications to the iPhone.

Here’s what TC had to say:

The App Store review office at 1 Infinite Loop has officially frozen over: we’ve gotten word that the official Google Voice application is on its way to the iPhone in the next few weeks. In fact, we’ve heard from a source close to Google that it’s already been approved — Google just needs to revamp the application to work with the iPhone 4 and iOS’s multitasking capabilities. If you’re a Google Voice user and you’re on an iPhone, this is great news.

No word from Google, but I’m hoping it’s only a matter of time.

Instapaper is officially a startup


Marco Arment, the CTO at Tumblr, has been working a personal project for a while that you might know about. I’ve been using Instapaper on and off for a couple months, but I never seem to remember why I go on streaks of abstinence. The service is the best method I’ve found for storing links and reading them across multiple devices.

Arment is officially taking Instapaper from a personal hobby to a startup. Arment has 800,000 users registered to his service, with 200,000 regular users. Arment is self-financing the startup by himself.

“It’s all self-funded so far and has been for the first six months of the service. My only costs are my time, server fees and paying the contractor for some Web work.”

As for the future of the product, Arment is looking at developing an HTML5 version that could be supported across all mobile platforms into the future.

U.S. Netflix subscribers may get a streaming-only plan

Netflix Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings speaks during the launch of streaming internet subscription service for movies and TV shows to TVs and computers in Canada at a news conference in Toronto September 22, 2010. The Canadian introduction marks the first availability of the Netflix service outside of the United States.  REUTERS/ Mike Cassese  (CANADA - Tags: MEDIA BUSINESS)

Netflix has been going through a bit of a rough patch with regards to PR. First there were the actors, paid to look excited about the service’s Canadian launch, and then Reed Hastings made an “awkward joke” when asked if he thought there would be an American backlash about the lower subscription prices.

How much has it been your experience that Americans follow what happens in the world? It’s something we’ll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed.

Hastings did do something a little out of character the other day when he hinted at a streaming-only option for US customers in a recent blog post.

Gene Weingarten quantifies his Facebook disdain

PALO ALTO, CA - AUGUST 18: Facebook employees write on the Facebook 'wall' following a news conference at Facebook headquarters August 18, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Facebook Places, a new application that allows Facebook users to document places they have visited. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Gene Weingarten at the Washington Post has made a name for himself as an outspoken Facebook critic, and he’s finally got some data to back up that hatred. Using youropenbook.org, Weingarten put together some of Facebook’s most banal status updates.

It’s a stark look at what people are willing to share, but let’s not forget just how many people are on Facebook. To say that the updates are different than a typical conversation you could potentially have over the course of a week seems like a stretch to me. Do I want to hear about my neighbor’s pimple? No. But that person likely wasn’t sharing the thought for me. Would a couple of my college buddies share that same information with me unsolicited if we were sitting in the same room? Absolutely.

It seems like Weingarten really takes issue with an observed lack of propriety/formality on Facebook, or really the internet in general. He talks about the ubiquitous “LOL” this way:

Facebook users may be bored, but, paradoxically, they also are easily amused. We know this, because they are always laughing out loud. LOLs occur with such frequency they are literally impossible to count: Dozens arrive every second. A subset of those laughers are simultaneously rolling on the floor — but still in numbers too large to tally. It is only with a third winnowing — those both rolling and laughing their behinds off — that the numbers become manageable: 390 per day.

It’s a funny interpretation, but LOL is the internet chuckle, something I think Weingarten could stand to do a little more often.

Mozilla Seabird – you thought your iPhone was cool

I tend to pass over concept videos as though they don’t exist. Honestly, so few of these things come to pass, and the ideas they present are often so far-fetched that it’s hard to give them even a moment’s notice. This, though, this is something different.

A designer named Billy May cooked up this video for Mozilla. It shows a concept phone, the Seabird, equipped with virtually every capability you would want from a mobile companion, including the ability to project a full size keyboard onto the table around the phone for those longer email responses. A lot of what’s shown is situational, but it’s damn cool and a lot of it is actually feasible.

Stephen Colbert talks with Eric Schmidt

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Eric Schmidt
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Eric Schmidt made an appearance on “The Colbert Report” last night to talk a little bit about his company’s algorithms, what it’s like to be a billionaire, and his “Want privacy? Change your name!” joke that no one on the planet seemed to get. It’s a funny, sort of awkward interview.

iTunes Instant delivers instant search results

iTunes Instant

It’s no secret that iTunes is one of the more bloated pieces of software in use by millions of people every day. Ever tried to find an album or song quickly in the iTunes store? I’m pretty sure that’s some sort of oxymoron.

A 15-year-old put together a little web service he’s calling iTunes Instant, which is just about what it sounds like. You type in your search and get treated to instant results, replete with links to pull up each result in iTunes.

Just buy it, Apple. Please.

JetBlue’s revolutionary in-flight Wi-Fi solution? Satellites

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 26:  A JetBlue Airways jet sits on the tarmac at O'Hare Airport October 26, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois. JetBlue today announced the start of service to the city. The airline will service New York's JFK Airport and Long Beach Airport from Chicago.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Wait, what? That was exactly my response when I first read the news that JetBlue was introducing new technology for in-flight Wi-Fi service, a new technology called a satellite. For those of you who can’t detect sarcasm, satellites aren’t new. They’ve been around a very long time. For some reason, it has taken this long for an airline to use satellite signals to deliver Wi-Fi access on a plane. Airlines currently offering Wi-Fi services get their signal from the ground.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that this is becoming more widespread. I don’t fly often, but when I do it certainly would be nice to keep up on some reading or even do a little bit of work. This serves to prove, though, just how in-the-box many industries are when it comes to modernizing their services. You’re 35,000 feet up with a clear shot at the upper atmosphere – why in god’s name would you use anything other than a satellite?