Google releases news reading app Currents

LAST week, Google finally released for Android devices, iPad and iPhone its long-awaited mobile news reading application Google Currents.

The application, however, is still only available for devices in the US. The decision to allow only US users to test the application has sparked criticisms in some website comments sections. While previous Google products came out first as invitation-only beta programs, they offered everyone the same chances of getting into the testing pool.

Android users outside the US, however, can still install the application by downloading the installer from other sources. I got mine from the XDA Developers forum.

My first impression of the app was that it was visually appealing in that less-is-more kind of way that has become the trend nowadays. There has been a general movement toward simpler design in interfaces and Google Currents reflects that. It was also much more functional and easier to manage than some of the RSS and mobile readers that I am currently using.

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Disintermediation

TO do well online, close your website department.

The website department as we know it today is approaching obsolescence, even anachronism.

It’s like a typists’ pool-–convenient but unessential, an extra layer of fat that is fatal in today’s time of lean startups and agile companies.

Today, the Internet should be central to everything that you do. It should be the base on which you add layers for your specific business processes – not the other way around. Having one department do online tasks while the other sections stay offline is as old-fashioned as the typists’ pool.

In today’s business environment, the Internet should be a core component. Everyone in the company should be mindful of and take part in the Internet strategy, which must permeate every department.

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Becoming a better blogger

(The following is a condensed version of my talk on how to improve your blogging skills during the Visayas Blogging Summit last Saturday. The summit was well-attended and had several corporate sponsors, an indication that blogging has indeed gone mainstream in Cebu)

WHAT’s the goal of effective blogging? What should you strive for if you want to build a blog following beyond your circle of family and friends?

Make it worth readers’ time

Why should readers take time to visit your blog? Why should people read your article? Today’s high-paced, technology-driven culture offers a lot of distractions. There are billions of web pages on the Internet. Why should people, who are not your friends or relatives, take time to read your blog?

People visit a blog or read an article because of either or both of two things: 1) they’ll learn something from it, or 2) they’ll enjoy the experience of reading it. Strive to provide both but one out of two isn’t bad.

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asana1

Manage your projects, tasks with Asana

The company started by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and programming genius Justin Rosenstein opened to the public last week its productivity product Asana, a web application that allows users to manage teams and projects.

Moskovitz is listed by Forbes as the world’s youngest billionaire, being eight days younger than Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, owing to the success of the social networking site. He was Facebook’s first chief technology officer before becoming vice president of engineering.

Rosenstein, on the other hand, led the team that built Facebook’s Like button, Bloomberg Businessweek said.

Dustin Moskovitz wants the Asana application (above) to serve as “a home screen for work in the same way that Facebook is a home screen for goofing off.” (CLICK ON PHOTO TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)

Dustin Moskovitz wants the Asana application (above) to serve as “a home screen for work in the same way that Facebook is a home screen for goofing off.” (CLICK ON PHOTO TO VIEW LARGER IMAGE)

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FINDING PEOPLE. The Find My Friends app for the iPhone allows people to share location data with friends.

Location, location, location

Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

A man in New York City has reportedly caught his wife cheating using the Find My Friends app of the iPhone 4S he gave her.

Find My Friends uses global positioning system (GPS) to let people share their locations with friends. The locations of people are indicated by a tooltip on a satellite map. And since the app uses GPS, the locations are accurate up to several meters.

According to a post in a Mac website message board, a New York City man bought his wife a new iPhone 4S and installed Find My Friends without informing her. He said he had suspicions his wife was meeting a man who lived uptown. His suspicion was confirmed by Find My Friends, who showed her there. He then texted her to ask where she was and she answered that she was with friends in a completely different location.

He said he would be using the data he gathered to divorce his wife. “Thankfully, she’s the rich one,” he said.

There is no definite confirmation of the incident but the post shows the extent of location data gathered by consumer devices like smartphones.

FINDING PEOPLE. The Find My Friends app for the iPhone allows people to share location data with friends.

FINDING PEOPLE. The Find My Friends app for the iPhone allows people to share location data with friends.

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2 crazy ones

TWO giants of technology died in recent weeks in widely contrasting fashion. Many mourned the passing of the genius who was Steve Jobs, only a few marked the demise of the genius who was Dennis Ritchie.

But despite that disparity, in life as in death, there is a thread that binds Jobs and Ritchie – that of greatness, genius and Unix.

Jobs changed technology and made it elegant, producing product after product that transformed industries — the Apple II, Mac, iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad. Any one of those products would have been enough to cement the legacy of a technology entrepreneur.

Jobs was uncanny in seeing technology trends. “He told us what we needed before we wanted it,” the Associated Press said in reporting his death. And it was something he was particularly proud of.

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very, very beginning. And we always will,” Jobs said in 2007.

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Making money in new media

HOW long do you support a losing website? Two years? Three? Five?

Failing is okay so long as you fail fast, Inquirer director for mobile JV Rufino said in a forum last Monday held as part of this year’s Press Freedom Week celebration.

Speed is even more crucial on the Internet, where one year zips by in just six months. Running a losing website for five years is akin to running a brick-and-mortar business for 10 years.

Fail fast, fail often and learn from these failures to build better products, Rufino said in the forum organized by Cebu Daily News, “Where is Journalism in the Digital World?”

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Edmon Joson, Smart Communications Inc. product development manager, demonstrates features of the Netphone 701 during a press conference in Cebu. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Smartphones, Smart’s Netphone

In the US, 89 percent of those with smartphones use it throughout the day, according to a study published last April by Google. The study, based on interviews of 5,013 American adults who identified themselves as users of smartphones, said the device has become a consumer’s “always-on companion” and 93 percent use it at home, 87 percent while commuting or walking, 77 percent while in a store and 72 percent while at work.

Smartphones, according to the study, “serve as pocket PCs and extend the desktop experience” with 81 percent of smartphone users browsing the Internet, 77 percent using search engines and 68 percent using an app. Seventy-two percent of users also report using their phones while consuming other media like listening to music, 44 percent; watching TV, 33 percent; reading a book, 16 percent; and reading a newspaper or magazine, 22 percent.

The study offers a peek into the quickly rising use of mobile devices to access the Internet. It’s just a peek because local usage scenario would likely be slightly different. For instance, the study said 89 percent of US respondents use their smartphones to stay connected with 82 percent saying they check and send emails with their phones and 63 percent using it for social networking. The numbers will likely be the other way around for Filipinos, who are among the world’s most active group of people in social networks.

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Innovation gospel according to Steve Jobs

DEATH is the “single best invention of Life,” Steve Jobs told graduates of Stanford University in 2005. It is life’s change agent, clearing out the old to make way for the new, he said in his commencement speech that regained popularity online with his resignation last week as Apple chief executive officer over medical reasons.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

Jobs said that starting at 17, he’d look in the mirror every morning and asked himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”

That question, however, became more than rhetorical when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and underwent surgery. He was fine for a while but needed a liver transplant, which he had in 2009. He had been on medical leave since January.

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matt

WordPress rides the open source juggernaut

Eight years after it was started by a 19-year-old college freshman as a blogging software, WordPress now powers 14.7 percent of the world’s top one million websites. It is used in 55 million websites.

In his annual State of The Word address last week, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg also said the open source content management system (CMS) now runs 22 out of every 100 new websites created in the US.

The velocity in WordPress adoption and its dominance illustrate the strength of the open source model, where the community is involved in the development of the software. It is not a coincidence that the top open source CMS packages today, WordPress and Drupal, also have the most active developer and user communities.

Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address

Matt Mullenweg giving his State of the Word 2011 address.

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