published Friday, March 18th, 2011

News and notes from the tech world

TECH TALK


by Donnie Jenkins

I’ve mentioned the excellent service called Animoto here a few times. Basically, it produces slide shows online and can use photos from social networks as well as video.

The company announced this week that it will be partnering with Kodak and several other companies to bundle services. This could be handy for anyone needing to quickly produce slide shows or presentations using cameras or other devices or to customize content for a website.

• The recent earthquakes and nuclear reactor problems in Japan have brought attention once again to just how quickly the status quo can be turned upside down. I was reminded of how valuable citizen participation can be in times of emergency.

In terms of technology it is another reminder of how important it is to have backup systems or policies in place for such disasters. I have long believed that the best approach to the future is always to at least imagine the worst scenario and to plan around it. While this may seem negative, it is realistic. While no one could prevent the scale of human suffering in such a catastrophe, we can at least try to minimize the damage to systems and to aid efforts for those affected.

• Several sites reported that AT&T will soon impose caps or limits on its broadband DSL service for their heaviest users. I have long dreaded the coming of any broadband caps, since it has been the freedom of no limits on usage that led to the Internet’s success. While this development may be inevitable, I will take writer Dylan Thomas’ advice and “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

• Bloomberg.com ran a story this week on a new Facebook offering in the works which will try to compete with the daily deal service Groupon. Facebook is a formidable foe when it enters any existing market since the service has so many users and access to their personal information.

•Groupon has dominated the daily deal area for some time and they are excellent and profitable, but they may be forced to innovate and change quickly when Facebook gets involved. This could get interesting quickly.

• Twitter caused a bit of a firestorm this week when the company announced changes to its API’s terms of service. An API is basically a digital hook that allows a tongue in groove relationship to exist between two formerly unconnected services.

Twitter has long had a fairly loose approach to companies producing third-party clients for the service, but they now have laid down the law and redefined what a company may do in this regard. The bottom line seems to be that they will no longer allow companies to create competitive Twitter clients.

This has enraged many who feel that Twitter is killing the very ecosystem that has made it so popular. I was reminded of the Ebay fiasco a few years back in which they totally changed the user feedback system to favor users over dealers. There was a huge backlash and the company lost hundreds of dealers over the changes. Twitter may be facing a similar situation here, time will tell.

• Speaking of time, some Verizon iPhones allegedly blew the recent time change by setting the time back rather than forward. While this is easy to correct, it does point out the need to be alert to anything that changes automatically.

E-mail Donnie Jenkins at donniejenkins@yahoo.com.

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