Android vs iPhone - Truly The Clash of the Titans!!

If there are two names that are creating a buzz in the mobile world today, they have to be "google android" and "iphone sdk". Both are aiming at providing young developers with free tools to design their own mobile applications, and also make some money off it! Both are backed by big tech giants, and both are ready to go to extreme lengths to woo the people, especially young talented developers. Its pretty interesting to see how people react to this unending competition; for some, it may actually create several opportunities to showcase their talents and get some serious attention!

With all of that money floating around, developers are rushing to build the next big widget, social network, or mapping technology for the mobile phone. Not only are developers lured by the idea of making money on the mobile phone, but they're also drawn by financial incentives coming from both camps that might seal their future.

Howard Chau, for example, has been developing a mobile application that's designed to alert people to their next calendar appointment, factoring in data like the person's physical location and traffic conditions en route to a meeting. In the next two weeks, Chau plans to submit the GPS-based application, called Mappily, to Google in the hopes of winning its Android Developer Challenge, a developer contest with $10 million in total prize money. Because Chau only stands to win tens of thousands of dollars in the first round of the challenge, the money would just be gravy. But Chau is not the only one contesting for it; apparently, this talent hunt has created quite a buzz, challenging and ispiring Silicon Valley's developers to create the hottest new mobile technology applications.

So who's pulling all these strings? Well, besides Google and Apple in a simmering battle in the handset market with respective new platforms and software development kits, venture capitalists, such as KPCB (with $100 million iFund for iphone apps) and Charles River Ventures(likely to fun Android apps) are also involved. Google's Android Developer Challenge is its own version of the iFund at a 10th the size. But surely other VCs are ruminating on forming the Android Fund to rival KPCB.

For many developers, Apple's iPhone is more alluring as a development platform because of the established customer list. Craig Hockenberry, CTO at IconFactory and a longtime Mac developer, said the iPhone offers a clear business path.(His company is developing a Twitter messaging tool called Twitterific for the iPhone, among other applications) "We just want to build small, fun apps and leave it at that. Those are the ideal apps for the iPhone." As for the Android contest, he quotes that "It's a bit of a gamble as there's no hardware yet. You can maybe make a million dollars, but what if you don't? You have nothing. I think what we have going onto the iPhone, it's going to sell.

On the other hand, Hank Williams company Kloudshare(develops an application that will help people manage data on their phone and desktop) aims to enter the Android contest. "The idea that Google's putting $10 million on the table to give it to the best companies by this deadline is more direct in my mind. I would imagine Google will write more checks than the Kleiner folks."

So while Apple seems to have the advantage of an established product, Android seems to be a developer's choice as the platform is easier to create applications for because of built-in mapping intelligence technology and so-called background processing. That's why Chau chose the Android platform, for its in-build mapping technology. Ultimately, it all ends on who succeeds in enticing the mass as well as the talent; but with such huge chunks of money on the market, it sure is an exciting race to witness!!

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The Much-Awaited Hybrid Electric Car From Aptera Debuts in California

We've been hearing a lot about Hybrid and All-Electric cars with high mileage promises for quite some time now. But looks like finally the long wait is over as one of them succeeds to move from R&D to actual production! Aptera has officially unveiled two vehicles (which look more like mini-planes to me!) that could change the future of automotive design, and is ready to find its place on California streets by end of 2008! Modestly-priced at 26,900(all-electric) and 29,900(plug-in-hybrid), both the Aptera's Typ-1 models are sure to create a buzz, especially as they boast a really attractive mileage figure of 300 miles per charge!!

"Aptera" is a greek word for "wingless flight". And just as the name and shape suggests, this car looks more like an airplane rather than a car. With 3-wheels, a perfectly aero-dynamic design, and doors that flip open upwards, the Aptera looks like something out of a stylish James Bond movie! Through extensive fluid dynamics modeling and materials engineering, the Aptera team has created the most efficient, lowest-drag shape that can surround two occupants side-by-side, and has safety as a priority in the design.

Some Features
The car has three wheels, making it eligible for most carpool lanes(HOV), even with only one person in the vehicle. It also has "two plus one" seating offering ample room for driver and passenger while an infant seat (for newborns to age three) can be located in the middle behind them. Storage room is also generous with enough space to fit 15 bags of groceries, two full-size golf club bags or even a couple of seven foot surf boards with the infant seat removed. Solar cells embedded under the roof operate an always-on climate control system, ensuring the interior never gets too hot or too cold. The dashboard display and info-entertainment system is controlled by an in-vehicle computer, which also controls the "Eyes Forward" vision system which gives the driver complete situational awareness without taking their eyes off of the road. And yes, it also comes with an Advanced drive computer with GPS navigation, CD/MP3/DVD player and XM satellite radio!!

Is this Car Safe?
Unlike many 3-wheel vehicle designs that were abandoned in the 80's due to their instability the Aptera has two wheels in the front and a single rear wheel eliminating any tendency to roll-over. The Aptera also features traction control for more stability control.

Performance Specs
So how fast witll this mini-plane travel on the road, you'd think! Well, the Aptera team and the conducted test trials claim that top speed for the production model will exceed 85 mph, going from 0-60 in under 10 seconds.

A Few Concerns
I love the concept, and the design meets the requirements for an efficient Hybrid Car. But they say the top speed is around 85mph, so can you imagine trying to drive this car in the HOV lane at around 60-70mph?? If you do, be prepared for some swearing and honking!:) Also, despite their safety commitments, I find it a bit hard to imagine that such a design could be stable and safe, and car doesn't really start "flying" in the high-california-winds!! So take a moment and check out the detailed Specs and FAQs on their website.

Aptera is initially going to be launched exclusively in California only, but slowly the team would expand to other US, Asian and European markets. Jump over to their website and take a look at more pictures and cool videos. If you like what you see, they are accepting fully refundable $500 deposits from California residents.

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Considering an Executive MBA??

There used to be a time when an MBA was considered to be something special. But now, it has pretty much become a required degree for executives and senior managers looking to climb up the corporate ladder. True, you need to show potential to be a leader or manager, but getting an executive MBA from one of the good schools can totally separate you from your competition and put you out there! It can be expensive, and often difficult with work and family, but if you are really keen on getting ahead, this might be your best option.

Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are designed to train senior managers, leaders or executives, who have preferably worked for 3-5 years. These programs are perfect for someone who has been in a field for quite some time, but needs additional leadership skills to climb the tech ladder. Full-time MBA's generally take upto two years, while the part-time options may need more time; irrespective of which one you choose, they focus on general management and business principles, Finance, HR or other specialised fields. Getting aid for an EMBA from your workplace may be the best way to meet the tuition needs, but there are also schools which provide financial assistance.

Leaning towards joining one myself, I know one of the primary concerns is to find a good yet affordable school. There are several great schools offering such programs, but if you reside in California, Pepperdine University offers a really good executive MBA program; it is not only ranked, but also competitive and affordable compared to other options. And with locations in LA, Irvine, Malibu and Silicon Valley, you have several locations to choose from. The curriculum looks pretty complete, but what really caught my eye was their International Project session, which involves eight days of international travel and onsite visits with faculty-directed discussions and interactions with business, government, and community leaders. In the highly frowing global culture, I think this would be really helpful. The executive MBA program is ranked among the top 50 worldwide, and offers loans, financial aid and scholarships. They conduct open houses from time to time, so be sure to check it out if you are interested.

If you are reading this article, you probably already know the importance of an EMBA, as well as that of getting a degree from an accredited university. Remember, a great school that is ranked and offers more onsite projects and internships is best suited to groom the leader in you. So, as I get back to my research, check out pepperdine and see if it works for you! Learning is a lifetime process, and if you are struggling in leaping ahead from your manager position, an EMBA could surely make things a bit easier!

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Google's Open Letter to FCC for Opening Up the White Space for Wireless Internet

After losing to Verizon in the much-hyped spectrum auction, it is speculated that Google has written a letter to the FCC asking for permission to use the "White-Space" between channels 2 and 51 on TV sets (which is not used by cable services) to offer wireless broadband services. Such a move would offer up more coverage and maybe even faster, more reliable and affordable internet over air-waves. This could surely open a lot more possibilities for consumers, but what urges Google to take the lead?

Google was outbid by Verizon Wireless, but its not yet out of the game. Looks like it has already convinced the FCC to require the winner of a specific portion of the spectrum to allow subscribers to use any compatible wireless device they want. And now it has written a "public letter" to FCC urging it to open up the unused white-space for wireless internet. It feels that opening up the spectrum would enable the much-needed competition to the incumbent broadband service providers.

Google, who recently launched its own mobile OS called Android, is betting that it can boost its online advertising business by making it easier for mobile consumers to get access to the Internet on their mobile phones. But there's also a bit of speculation that Google has bigger plans, and it's push for an open space could be related to LTE and WiMAX technologies which would need space for the 4G network. And what's more, looks like this time the 2 giants Microsoft and Google are on the same side!! Bill Gates was quoted saying "I am hopeful that white-space will be made available so that Wi-Fi can explode in terms of its usage, even out into some of these less dense areas (of the United States) where distance has been a big problem for Wi-Fi."

As quoted by a company lawyer named Richard Witt, "Google would be willing to provide, at no cost to third parties, the technical support necessary to make these plans happen; This could include intellectual property and reference designs for underlying technologies, open geo-databases maintained by Google, and other supporting infrastructure. Of course we welcome others as well with an interest in helping to provide such support."

But the TV broadcasters are currently opposing the use of white space, fearing such usage would cause interference with television programming and could cause problems with a federally mandated transition from analog to digital broadcasting signals scheduled for Feb 2009. But Google in its letter urged the FCC to adopt a series of overlapping technologies, including "spectrum sensing," designed to prevent signals from interfering with each other. So for now, the war is on! Wait and watch to know who finally wins!

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Smitten by the iPhone Bug? - Here's Something Cool for iPhone SDK developers

As eccentric as the Apple CEO Steve Jobs might seem to be, he hit a jackpot with the launch of iPhone, and generated an even bigger mass and critical appeal with the announcement of iPhone 2.0 and SDK. iPhone undoubtedly has to be the most hype-worthy device at least for the tech world last year, and the buzz still seems to be going on. If you are one of the several aspiring developers who downloaded the iPhone-SDK with hopes of creating cool applications, you may have witnessed that in order to publish any apps you must have applied to, been accepted to, and paid $99 for the iPhone Developer program!

I was browsing the web for some interesting iphone applications in the making, when I stumbled upon this amazing site that is like a heaven for all iphone SDK developers. It's like the ultimate iphone online community where you can share and download apps, wallpapers, games, ringtones, accessories and much more related to the device. Not only that, it's a cool site that seems to be buzzing with active readers and developers ready to showcase their ingenious apps. They have a forum which has discussions to appease a hungry iphone-lover, hard-core techie or newbie alike. And they have recently launched a cool Live Chat Feature for registered memebers so you can interact and find answers to your queries any time of the day!

If you are one of those crazy iPhone fans, or looking for new ideas about iphone apps, I think you need to take a look at planet-iphones. Not only is it a great resource for iphone SDK developers, but also for simple geeks like me who are looking for more information or views about the device. That's where I found that becoming an iphone developer is not that easy, nor is it free! Anyways, I just thought I'd share this site with you before I countinued with my idle browsing. Hope you have fun meeting fellow iphone geeks on that planet!!:) By the way, they have also made their site iphone-friendly so you can browse it on your phone too! Now that's what I call commited to a cause!!:)

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Forgot where you Left Your Car Keys? - Smart Glasses Can Help!

How many times have you been detained for a meeting because you are in a hurry to leave but cannot find your wallet and your keys?? Or remember the times when everyone's settled in the car and you suddenly figure out that you've forgotten your keys inside and can't remember where you left them? yeah, sounds familiar, right!! Misplacing something is bad, and forgetting where you kept it last is even worse! Luckily for people like these suffering from "short-term amnesia", frustrating incidents like these may finally have found a cure. Japanese scientists have invented a pair of intelligent glasses, or rather "Smart Goggles" that remembers where people last saw their keys, handbag, iPod or mobile phone.

The smart spectacles - which come with a built in camera, display screen and computer brain - can even identify unfamiliar plants or faces. In fact, the only thing it can't help you find are your glasses(ironic, huh! well, at least you need to keep track of just one thing:)) These Smart Goggles are the brainchild of Prof Kuniyoshi at the University of Tokyo. He believes they could revolutionise the lives of people who suffer from regular "senior moments", as well as those suffering from serious memory problems caused by dementia.

The Smart Goggles contain a compact video camera which films everything the wearer looks at - and a viewfinder which fits snugly in front of the right lens. The glasses are connected to a small, but smart computer processor worn on the back which can learn to recognise shapes extremely quickly. To use these glasses, the wearer first wanders around a house or workplace for an hour or so, looking at the objects he or she may later want to find in a hurry. Each time the camera focuses on a object, the wearer should speak out the object's name aloud, which is then recorded and stored into the memory. Once the names have been programmed in, the glasses will try to find the right name for any object they come across. The names appear in small type on the viewfinder. The glasses search its video memory and show its last known location on the display. And if they cannot recognise an object they make a guess and adapt from their mistakes!!

In a demonstration at the university last week, the team were able to programme in the names and identity of 60 everyday objects, including a compact disc, a hammer, a potted begonia and a mobile phone. Prof Kuniyoshi believes the invention could become a useful memory aid for the elderly, as well as for people suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. The high speed, image recognition technology could also help develop robots or other educational purposes. More sophisticated versions could also help people who are bad at remembering names get through awkward social situations (read "my husband" here!).

But as fancy as it sounds, its a dumb programmable invention, and certainly has its flaws.( like hide or move an object from its original place and your smart glasses won't be so smart anymore) And the prototype version is still too bulky and obtrusive to use, as you can see from the picture above. However, they are trying to shrink the camera and viewfinder down to a more sensible and fashionable size within a few years. For now, its a start, and the concept can be really useful, so we wish them all the luck! But remember to not forget your glasses, or you are back to square one:)

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Exmocare BT2 - A New Look at Emotion Interpretation and Medical Monitoring

Decades ago, people would never have accepted the fact that human brain can be demystefied, studied and emotional responses can be recreated. But with the advent of latest technology, scientists know a lot more about the anatomy and response of the human brain. Exmocare is one such device-maker whoc creates wearable, multi-sensor devices that use signals from your body to infer things about your emotional state. Their motive: "Sometimes, dangerous situations are actually predicted from individual physiological patterns, allowing responders to handle the problem before it even happens."

Exmocare had given us a revolutionary, limited edition wearable medical monitoring wristwatch, called the BT1, that tracks several key vital signs 24/7, stores the information and transmits data to a physician. The Exmocare BT2 builds on the critical success of the BT1 to enable businesses and researchers to evaluate the patent-pending sensor technology of the forthcoming Exmocare Empath. They believe that by interpreting an information-rich, individually-tailored physiological context, you can determine the emotional state of a person wearing an Exmocare device. In addition to highly accurate heart rate and heart-rate variability, the BT2 is capable of simultaneously monitoring skin conductance, skin temperature, and relative movement. The BT2 basically works in the following way:

1. The Exmocare watch monitors its wearer and tells a PC if something is wrong.
2. The PC passes this information along to the Internet.
3. If something is wrong, Exmocare alerts a caregiver or family member's PC, PDA or cell phone.
4. The first responder knows instantly when something is wrong.

Every human responds in a different way to a situation, but the Exmocare emotion interpretation system is based on the belief that fairly accurate emotional interpretation is possible, given good general guidelines for a physiologically similar group of people. In addition to these, the system also adapts to individuals wearing it, thereby getting more accurate over time.

The Exmocare BT2 is capable of streaming real time data over Bluetooth for more than 18 hours. It charges over USB, allowing you to continue using it while the battery charges. When connected over USB, the BT2 can stream data for an indefinitely long period of time. Exmocare Inc. makes the world's only all-in-one wireless human diagnostic wristwatch for automated, online 24/7 chronic care. You can get detailed features or download a prospectus from their website.

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Wetpaint - The Cool New Way to Make Your Own Wikis

If you are working in a technology company, you probably have an intranet or a bundle of wiki pages where teams and colleagues share their documents, findings, project plans, timelines, tasks or just about anything else! But in this rapidly growing world of social networking, what if you needed to share a an online space with your friends or fans? Yeah, you'd probably write a blog, but that still doesn't provide you with a complete web portal, does it! In such a case, Wetpaint comes to your rescue. Just like wikipedia, your free online resource for almost any topic, Wetpaint lets you create your own personal wikis which is basically like a free website that you can share with whomever you want to.

I came across Wetpaint trying to find some online portals for technology stuff, and I was pretty happy with the way these wikis looked. A little more research told me that unlike other websites where you might need to have some HTML knowledge or know the way the web works, wetpaint wikis are very simple to create and in just 3 easy steps you are on your way to making your own website! It's pretty similar to a blog, so you should not find it difficult at all. But its more suited for people who just need their own page where they can share news, views or opinions, catch up on stuff, upload images and videos; basically, a true collaborative exchange where anyone (or the invited few) can add and edit any of the site's content.

The 3-step process for adding text, web links, photos and video to a Wetpaint wiki is highly intuitive, but there are video tutorials just in caseyou create a name and wiki name for your site, then you say whether you want to keep it open to all or just to a few invited members, then you select a cool wiki template (and I have to tell you, they really have some wonderful designs for templates!), add your contact information, send invitations to your friends, and click "Done"! You are all set to start putting up stuff on your webpage! I think it's similar to Google Pages, just better designed and offers more features. You can add more pages later, and it works similar to a blog, with the added advantage that you already have a discussion forum feature available for your readers. And of course, you can change your settings and permissions any time you want. I think it's really cool for making a family website, or adding more connectivity and reader feedback to your primary site by linking to your wiki and engaging people to start discussions and more.

Based in Seattle, Wetpaint was named as one of the 50 Best Sites of 2007 by The Time Magazine. It is basically an online hosting service that targets non-technical internet users who want to collaborate with each other. They have lots of categories to fit your wikis in, so try creating your own wiki and see if it works out for you! And while you are there, be sure to check out the big names like Food & Wine magazine, CBS for CSI fans and the one for AppleTV.

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Axacore- An Affordable Solution for Document Management and Fax Services

As the enterprise world moves towards Telepresence, Fax and IP for all their telecommunication needs, large corporations may find it difficult to find solutions that are scalable yet affordable and easy to implement. Luckily for them, Axacore provides fax services that totally fit the bill. This is a document imaging and data conversion software engineering shop with a mission to develop tools that make capturing, delivering, digitizing and archiving paper documents faster, easier and more affordable. Many traditional fax-based vendors have abandoned efforts to advance their technologies, but Axacore has found a niche in the market providing archiving and search and retrieval capabilities in document intensive environments.

Axacore offers two solutions: FaxAgent and XDOC, which cater to fax software and document management respectively. Talking about FaxAgent, this is a software/hardware solution designed to track, manage and deliver fax traffic over enterprise networks of any size. It automatically indexes incoming and outgoing documents and users can quickly retrieve specific faxes by conducting targeted searches. FaxAgent’s .NET architecture and SQL scalability make the product an attractive option for any IT professional seeking a fax server solution. It also offers some really useful features like the ability to send faxes directly over IP, and the ability to have unlimited user accounts and profiles, alongwith security and system tracking, to name a few.

XDOC, on the other hand, compliments the fax-software by facilitating the document management part including scan, fax, print and upload, all through a broadband internet connection. The web-based design needs no client installation, and also offers scalability and higher standards over the past solutions. It comes with Advanced Imaging options, authenticated accounts, faster integration and tonnes of other features that you can check out on their website.

I think Axacore has succeeded in terms of innovating the age-old fax and document management model, and no wonder it won the Editor's Choice Award in the Network Computing Magazine. It is a class-apart form the traditional software we've been used to handling, and affordable too. It can surely be an efficient and cost-effective solution for big or small companies, so go check it out!

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Hulu Goes Live and is All Set to Compete with YouTube in Online Video Services

After the unprecedented success of YouTube, lots of video-upload and sharing services cropped up in the online world, but none could compete with the Google baby. Fox and NBC declared the intention of launching their own online video service that would show lots of popular TV shows and feature films, exclusively to its customers. Though it sounded enticing, no one gave it a sincere thought as fighting with youtube is more challenging that you'd think, especially as it had become a household name. But after over a year of development, testing and refining, online video service Hulu launches Wednesday and viewers will get to chance to see if it lives up to all the hullabaloo.

A joint venture between News Corp.’s Fox and NBC Universal, Los Angeles-based Hulu says it aims to bring together the widest selection of free, premium videos on the Web. But unlike Google’s YouTube, where unauthorized clips often end up, Hulu’s content is the result of pre-established partnerships with entertainment companies like Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Television.

When plans for the then-unnamed site were announced last year, many ridiculed the idea, discarding the thought based on the belief that media-moguls could never get into the the Internet side of the world. But when Hulu gave select viewers a look at the site, some critics changed their tune. The company received rave reviews for its site’s ease-of-use and simplicity.

The site features more than 250 television shows and 100 full-length feature films from Fox and NBC as well as content from companies like Warner Bros. Clips of other shows, including Saturday Night Live, will also be available on the site. However, it is yet to avail the support of the 2 other big television networks ABC and CBS. "The networks have the power to do big things with online video", says Morgan Guenther, CEO of interactive media startup AirPlay and the former president of TiVo. “If they do it right this thing will definitely have legs.”

Unlike YouTube, Hulu has an ad network already up and working at launch time, though its lineup of advertisers is still limited. Hulu is experimenting with letting viewers choose which commercials they watch, and doesn’t let them fast forward through ads. But like its rival YouTube, Hulu is also encouraging viral distribution and social networking. People can edit shows down to a few seconds and then e-mail those clips to friends. They can also embed videos on blogs and their MySpace or Facebook pages. I think Hulu has the potential to engage a large audience, but it'll still not compare to youtube's popularity for uploading small personal videos. But the layout and design on Hulu look great; its user-friendly and attractive, not to mention the high-quality videos that it features. Everything is ver well-organised and looks connected. You could easily spend hours on this site! I think there's definitely room for Hulu to make its mark in onine video services! Hop on to the Hulu website and see what you think.

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Camcorder Buying Guide - Choosing What's Best For You

Ok people, this might sound like an off-topic, but lots of readers have emailed me to write about how-to guides if possible, and here's the first step, a Camcorder Buying Guide. Today, a whole slew of camcorders exist with a variety of options available regarding recording media, features, and price. Contemporary lightweight models often fit in the palm of your hand, and that too without leaving a dent in your pocket. However, with the range of features and prices available in today's camcorder market, you may be asking yourself how to know which one is right for you, depending on your needs. Here are some tips and pointers that I cam across while trying to choose a camcorder for myself.

Doing some research before hitting the stores is not only a great idea, but highly recommended. You would be swarmed with the large pool of devices out there and get a headache trying to choose or listening to the rant of the salesman trying to sell you something. So take some time to ask yourself these questions before you are ready to shop!

1. How much are you going to use this camcorder? Are you looking for something professsional, or just a camcorder for recording your vacation trips, grandkids and family events?

2. How much can you afford to spend up front?

3. Am I willing to pay for removable media such as tapes or DVDs?

4. What kind of video-shooting knowledge/skills do you have? Are you taking this up as a serious passion or profession? Then you might have to expand your budget a bit.

5. Are you ready for the additional accessories with your camcorder purchase? And what things would you need? ( like hard drive, more memory upgrade, DVD burner, or HDTV for HD camcorders)

6. Are you interested in a simple VHS tape camcorder (which I think is not a great choice) or the latest Digital MiniDV ones?

7. Is there a specific brand that you've used before and trust more than others? (like Panasonic or Sony)

Analog VHS Camcorders are a thing of the past, and I would strongly recommend spending on the Digital ones as they are small, light, flexible, have better video quality, larger record time and tonnes of other cool features. For novices, I think it's better to stick with deals offered by top brand names like Sony, Panasonic or Canon. The latest in tiny palm-sized devices are the Flip Video Camcorders From what I've seen, there's a wide range of Sony MiniDV camcorders that start from an affordable price tag.

Digital8 camcorders are another digital alternative to more traditional types of camcorders. These digital tapes do not offer as many benefits as the competing MiniDV technology, but they are able to run both 8mm and Hi8 tapes, making them a good choice for people upgrading from an existing 8mm or Hi8 setup. With the affordability of recordable media and portable storage, a few new types of digital camcorders have recently begun to rise in popularity. These include DVD camcorders, flash camcorders, and hard-drive based camcorders.

You'll want to think about how you'll use the camcorder. Do you plan to do a lot of still photography with your camcorder? If so, look for a model with a built-in flash. Like shooting video at night? Then get one with a video light or, even better, a Night mode that makes the CCD hypersensitive to ambient light. Some folks have a large collection of VHS tapes that they hope to someday convert to DVD. If that sounds like you, be sure your camcorder has analog video inputs. And don't be taken in by a fancy zoom. Just like with a digital camera, a camcorder's digital zoom rating isn't very important: You'll rarely need more than 75X or perhaps 100X. After that, the video becomes a pixely mess.

Camcorders range widely in price, depending on the media and level of quality. A decent MiniDV camcorder may be found for under US$300, while a hard-drive based camcorder will cost around US$600, and professional level camcorders cost between US$1500 and US$6000. If you are more of a tech geek, you should definitely take a look at the latest breed of HD and blu-ray camcorders. Also check out camcorder reviews as first-hand experience by users will always be your best guide. Hope this article helps you in your quest for buying the best video camcorder!!

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Alight Kitchen - A Cool Concept in Eco-friendly Kitchen Designs

With every passing day, we see more and more people tend to lean on designing their homes and interiors to be more "green and eco-friendly". Some people go to extreme lengths to hire reputed designers that can give meaning to their ideas and design something captivating yet useful. "Conceptual Kitchens" that are in sync with the decor of your home, but at the same time add an element of "green" seem to be the in-thing these days. But looks like some Turkish designers have come up with a truly revolutionary kitchen set-up with a host of features to give it a stylish modern look, at the same time designing it to minimise wastage of food and water. It looks too fancy to be true, but you have to read on to admire the motive behind such an innovative design!

Altera Design Studio’s latest concept comes in the form of a retro-looking kitchen design called "Alight Kitchens". It was recently awarded a design win at the Incheon International Design Competition 2007 and will be exhibited at International Design Fair this December. The project deals with global shortages of clean water, food, resources. What role can a designer play in minimising wastage of resources became the theme behind the birth of this beautiful kichen. The system is designed to not only minimize waste materials but to make people aware of how much they are consuming.

If you can take your eyes off the vibrant kitchen, take a look at some of the cool features that the Alight Kitchen boasts of:
Only ready-made food and beverages can be consumed in sheet-metal packaging so people will be conscious about what and how much they eat.

The cooling unit provided in the design will only allow storage of 3 days' worth of food.

A Smart oven warms up the food in groups to minimize how often it’s used. It arranges the ideal time and temperature for the packs by reading their barcodes!!

There are 4 hollow plates located on the main dining table. Each of them can rotate on its center-axis so you can eat on the either side of the plate. The center of the table also features a small flatware station.

The integrated dishwasher conserves water by using a biological solution for filtering and reusing the dirty water. On the table, there are two lids for detergent and capsules of filtering solution, and also a lid under the table for changing water after several usages.

All plates are stored underneath the table in their own compartments, in sheet-metal packages which is easy to collect, store and recycle after usage.

This may not be a kitchen that you cook in daily; I for one simply CANNOT imagine myself using this for my everyday chores, especially as cooking for me is an elaborate affair, and I'd prefer a spacious open kitchen with a window overlooking some green field!:) But even then, I really admire the intention behind this design.
It brings an innovative kitchen concept that focusses on minimizing waste of time, food, energy used in appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers, and the need for a large kitchen space. This design can surely fit the bill for bachelors or vacation homes, condos or places that you use occasionally. I love the look and design, and I'm sure more and more people would eventually warm up to the idea of such innovations!

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Kleiner Perkins Launches iFund To Invest in Companies Developing Applications for Apple's iPhone

Everything related to Apple or Steve Jobs has to be a style statement, just like the recent announcement of opening up the iPhone SDK to 3-rd party applications. In fact, this one step seems to be so powerful and attractive that people have already started launching patents and publishings, and many have gone as far as dreaming about establishing their own startups just for this! Well, here's a piece of good news for those people. Thanks to the Apple and Steve Jobs appeal, Kleiner Perkins is all set to dedicate a large pool of money just to feed the frenzy behind iPhone and iPod applications! So if you have a great idea and need some capital investment, you know where to look!

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) today announced the launch of the iFund with $100 million in venture capital to invest in companies developing applications and services for Apple's innovative iPhone and iPod touch.

The iFund, managed by KPCB, will be invested in companies with market-changing ideas and products that extend the revolutionary new iPhone and iPod touch platform. Apple will provide KPCB with market insight and support. "A revolutionary new platform is a rare and prized opportunity for entrepreneurs, and that's exactly what Apple has created with iPhone and iPod touch," said John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "We think several significant new companies will emerge as this new platform evolves, and the iFund will empower them to realize their full potential."

"Developers are already bursting with ideas and applications for the iPhone and iPod touch, and now they have the chance to turn those ideas into great companies with the help of world-class venture capitalists," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We can't wait to start working with Kleiner Perkins and the companies they fund through this new initiative."

The iFund will be led by KPCB partner Matt Murphy in collaboration with partners John Doerr, Bill Joy, Randy Komisar, Ted Schlein, Chi-Hua Chien and Ellen Pao. The initiative will be agnostic to stage and size of investment with a focus on areas including location based services, social networking, mCommerce, communication, and entertainment. The iFund will seek to fund entrepreneurs pursuing transformative ideas with the potential to become standalone, public companies. In addition to providing capital, KPCB will assist with company-building expertise, business development relationships and access to its vast network of talented entrepreneurs.

Since its founding in 1972, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has backed entrepreneurs in over 500 ventures, including AOL,, Citrix, Compaq Computer, Electronic Arts, Genentech, Google, Intuit, and more! KPCB portfolio companies employ more than 250,000 people, and have seen more than 150 companies go public. Current portfolio companies including Pelago, Dash, GOGII, and Pinger will collaborate closely with the iFund initiative.

Do you have an idea for a "killer iPhone application"?? Then maybe you should pick up the phone and talk to KPCB!

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB):
Tia Smith

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Bidding War between Microsoft and Google Over Digg!!

The name and fame of "Digg This" is not unknown to the blogger and online-reader fraternity. This is one news aggregating service that has successfully carved an irreplaceable place for itself, and very few, if at all, could deny this fact! Rumors about potential buyers for Digg have been floating around for quite some time now, but looks like for the first time, there might be some depth to it. Current rumors about Digg's sale may not be exaggerated, as the link aggregator appears to be the target of a bidding war between giants like Microsoft and Google, who would both benefit from access to the surfing profiles of Digg's diggers.

User-generated news site Digg has been working with influential investment bank Allen & Co. (the ones that recently got Slide a half billion dollar valuation) for a few months now, and pitching big tech and media companies on a sale. Founded in late 2004, the site exploded early in 2005 when a user posted a link to Paris Hilton’s hacked cell phone information on Digg, resulting in a surge of traffic that made people realize the enormous appeal of this simple creation. It has raised $11.3 million in funding since then!

The recent news from sources very close to the Digg-Sale deal reveal that four companies are in heavy due diligence with Digg - two media/news companies, and two big Internet companies - Google and Microsoft. And Google and Microsoft are on the verge of making their bids.

Digg is prepared to take less than the $300 million Allen & Co. were floating late last year. Google is expected to bid $200-$225 million, which Digg, I think, would willingly accept! Microsoft might be looking at a somewhat lower price, which is obvious as most of Digg’s revenue today comes from a three year advertising deal that Digg signed with Microsoft last year. That deal has revenue guarantees, and Microsoft may be hesitant to value Digg based on revenue that they supply.

Any sale is likely to give Microsoft an option to terminate that advertising deal, which means Google isn’t valuing Digg based on revenue, either. But Google can certainly generate revenue on all those page views on Digg, not to mention it just cannot afford to lose a market chunk to Microsoft at this time!!

But will Microsoft be able to take Digg and Yahoo together?? Isn't that a bit too optimistic for the software giant?? Plus, if Microsoft succeeds, Google will lose a lot, and I don't think it would risk that much, so outbidding Microsoft may well be high on Google's radar. Given that Digg founders Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson are starting another company, Revision 3, maybe they’re ready to move on! More developments to this "rumor" will come out over the next few weeks, but it surely puts Digg at a welcome advantage! So go along, and "Digg This Post!!"

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"sQuba" -World's First Zero-Emission Underwater Sports Car

The Swiss have been known for their outrageous yet creative innovations, and albeit pricey, they surely attract buzz from those who seek to own something fancy and exclusive. From watches to cars, it has been an interesting journey, and their latest offering goes well beyond one's imagination as they develop a Concept Car called "sQuba" which can instantly grant you the "Bond Appeal"!! Remember James Bond’s amphibious car, Lotus Esprit from "The Spy Who Loved Me", the all-in-one fictional vehicle that looked like a car on land, but when chased by bad guys in a helicopter, plunged into the water and became an airtight submarine — complete with "torpedoes" and "depth charges"!! Looks like the Swiss are about to realize your fantasy with their latest design!

The concept car, named as "sQuba", was developed by Swiss designer Rinspeed Inc. and is already making a splash at the Geneva Auto Show that's going on right now. The company's 52-year old CEO Frank Rinderknecht, a self-professed Bond fan, had been waiting 30 years to recreate the car he saw Roger Moore use to drive off a dock, and has finally achived his dream! Just to let you know, this innovative company has presented transparent, flying and voice-activated cars too in previous Auto Shows!

Some of sQuba's cool features include the ability to plow through the water at a depth of 30 feet (with electrical motors to turn the underwater screw). The car has an open top, making that a convertible sports car! The open car helps if passengers need to get out to explore the aquatic wealth around, or to make a quick emergency exit! I would have felt more protected with a covered shelter when I'm in the midst of sharks and whales though, but the open top was necessary to counteract the unwanted buoyancy within water.

To enable normal breathing, the car is equipped with an integrated tank of compressed air similar to what is used in scuba diving. And if you are thinking whether this fancy underwater car can be used on land too or not - then let me tell you that the sQuba’s top speed on land is about 77 mph, but it slows down to 3 mph on the surface of the water, and 1.8 mph underwater.

So how does this underwater car work?? He removed the combustion engine from a sports car and replaced it with several electrical motors. Three are located in the rear, and one provides propulsion on land while the other two drive the screw for underwater driving. When you take the car into the water, it floats. But the moment you open the door a little to let the water in, it starts going "underwater", like a submarine! Without occupants the "sQuba" surfaces automatically. It is even capable of autonomous driving on land thanks to a sophisticated laser sensor system from the Hamburg company Ibeo - without any help from the driver!! You can get more first-hand details here.

This highly innovative concept car runs on rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries, and is also a totally "zero-emission" vehicle! And it's not just a car, its a sports-car convertible, and can strongly be categorised as a "Green Underwater Car". Even the Motorex lubricants used in the ‘sQuba” are biodegradable!! Can you beleive that! Hats off to the designers for having thought about everything. It's truly an innovation that not only realizes a fantasy, but actually stands out in terms of creativity, planning and achievement!

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Google Sites - A Nifty Addition to the Free Google App Services

In this global environment where most businesses and corporates have teams spread world-wide, having a team portal where you can add, edit and share your ideas and information is extremely important. Lots of people have been using Sharepoint for this purpose, but Google throws an addition to its Enterprise Management offerings by launching Google Sites! Check out the key features with which it plans to attract an audience.

Google today introduced Google Sites, an application that makes creating a team web site as easy as editing a document. With Google Sites, people can quickly gather a variety of information in one place – including videos, calendars, presentations, attachments, and text – and easily share it for viewing or editing with a small group, their entire organization, or the world. With Google Sites, anyone can create an entirely customized site in minutes and invite others to contribute. its like adding an "edit" button to the web. It is based on JotSpot technology and is available in the Team, Standard, Premier, and Education Editions of Google Apps.

Creating and editing a set of pages requires no knowledge of HTML or web design skills. People can start a new page with one click. Adding content is as easy as clicking the edit button. Sharing is as simple as sending an invitation. All content is instantly searchable, and Google Sites is accessible through any web browser.

Anyone inside an organization can begin using Google Sites by signing up for Google Apps communication and collaboration services through Team Edition. After verifying their business or school email address, people can instantly invite others to join, or easily identify people within their organization already using Google Apps.

Some basic implementations with Google Sites include:
- An intranet to centralize company information
- A team site to manage a project
- A profile site including an individual's resume, areas of expertise, and goals
- A virtual classroom to post homework assignments, class notes and other resources.

Google Sites is secure and scalable, and maintains a version history. It requires no hardware or software to buy, install, or maintain. Additional features include embed content from other Google products, upload files of any type and customize a site's look and feel.

With Google Sites, the giant is entering an arena that is already dominated by a few. And yet, bundling up all the office apps has been Google's dream for quite some time, and also an answer to Microsoft's Office. I'm surely going to try this and see for myself. It sure looks easy, just like the rest of the Google services, and it also combined all the services in one neat little page! Try it yourself and come back to share your experience!

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Next-Generation iPhone May Soon Hit the Markets!

Steve Jobs has a way of unfolding Apple devices from time to time, thereby satiating the needs of Apple-lovers world-wide. but when the iPhone was unveiled and only US could avail of the benefits, people in the other parts of the world felt left-out. So hackers devised ways to make iPhone work anywhere you want! But here's some more good news for the faithful followers! The day when Apple's next-generation 3G iPhone version rolls out may not be too far. Will this give a boost to the company's stock that has been plummeting down since 2 months now?

An industry analyst's note on Fox News hinted that Apple has lined up the German chipmaker Infineon Technologies to supply parts for its next-generation iPhone, and may release the product as soon as June or July, which would be about 12 months after the iPhone's initial release in the U.S. The 3G iPhone is expected to trigger a flurry of sales to fans who are enamored of the iPhone but feel that its most innovative features — such as the Web browser — are hampered by the slower network.

Speculation has been fuelled by the reports that Apple has begun to reduce its focus on the current iPhone platform — which runs on the slower 2.5G cellular high-speed network known as EDGE — in favor of developing software for the newer device, which will support a software that will allow developers to write applications for the iPhone, says UBS analyst, Ben Reitzes. The second generation iPhone also promises exciting new enterprise features! If Apple can announce fuller connectivity with Microsoft's mail and calendar platforms and Lotus Notes, and other initiatives to make the iPhone a real alternative to the Blackberry for the serious business user, the newer version will likely beat the predecessor in terms of sales!

Another coveted feature is the GPS integrated within iPhone. Rumours have been floating around that Apple might install a SiRF Star III chip (or similar) within the iphone-2. This GPS which will be installed in the phone will be very fast and would give accurate information in crowded cities with mega buildings. SiRF has earlier talked about their link up with NXP's software to improve their existing technology. GPS integration would certainly take iPhone to the next level. Not to mention that Google is specially designing their apps like Maps, Gmail and more to match iPhone resolution and specifications!

Yesterday Apple shares gained more than 4% backed by the theory that if software developers could write applications for its iPhone, it would trigger the demand for the device. That's quite a bit of speculation, and good for Apple investors as it could boost the stock, same as Microsoft bid worked for Yahoo! Apple is due to unveil a "software roadmap" for the next-generation iPhone at a meeting at its headquarters in Cupertino next week, so we'll know for sure what Mr. Steve Jobs has in store for us!

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Yahoo Buzz - Is it Good Enough to Create a Buzz??!!

The power of social networking needs no second mention, and almost everyone has started looking at the web to remain updated about what's new, what's cool, and what's happening in the other parts of the world! Google News, MSN News, Digg, Newsgator and many more that I couldn't even list here have services that bring you the latest and most read stories so you don't have to take the trouble of actually surfing and searching. And looks like Yahoo, who's recently been in a lot of limelight, has joined this bandwagon too! Yahoo Buzz, their latest gig is an attempt to get more readers, and perhaps create more "buzz"!

Yahoo has introduced Yahoo Buzz!, a service that lets you vote for user selected stories from around the web. It is very similar to digg which allows users to vote for there stories which should appear on the homepage. However, it ranks the stories based on votes, search-term popularity and what everyone is reading and emailing at this moment.

While browsing the web, yahoo users will be able to send message to Yahoo Buzz! about the content they like. Yahoo will then compute the information and publish it if they like. If your content is really buzzed, then it also has a chance of getting featured on the Yahoo homepage. It is currently in beta phase and includes content from around 100 publishers ranging from large online sites and small influential blogs. Similar to MSN News, but just something that focusses on blog stories to a larget extent. The participating publishers will also be given an online badge which will enable there readers to submit and vote for stories in real time.

Unlike Digg, Yahoo Buzz publishes only hand-selected stories, which means you can't publish unless they approve of your content. However, if you want to become a publisher, you can visit the Publishers section. I don’t think it can pose a very serious challenge to Digg unless it starts accepting user content from around the web and not from just a handful of blogs.

There is a lot of competition with similar concepts, and whether we really need one more is definitely questionable. Yet, if Yahoo expands on their current service, makes it more user-friendly and opens it up to a lot more bloggers, it could create some "buzz". But whether it succeeds or not, only time will tell!

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