To Make Twitter More Useful: a “Replies to This Tweet” Link

A while back Twitter announced that their API would begin supporting the ability to specify what tweet someone was replying to. Of course this is a fantastic feature but there isn’t a single way users are benefiting from that information.

Here is my suggestion, put a “Replies to this Tweet” link next to every tweet. Here’s an example of why that would be unbelievably useful, often times I look at past tweets and see that someone asked a question that I would love to know the answer to. Searching for replies to that user can be helpful but if they are a popular user it is often too difficult to find replies to that specific tweet that asked the question.

A link sending you to a list of tweets made in reply to the original would make searching for information on Twitter infinitely more useful.

Update: apperently Twitter does have this feature, but it appears to only work when the tweet specifies which tweet it is replying to (this happens if the repliers twitter client supports it). I really wish that Twitter would have this feature for all tweets though, even if it just guessed by showing that users most recent tweet as the replied to tweet.

Categorized as Internet

References to GDrive Appear in Google Pack File

GDrive Reference

Some references to the long rumored Google service “GDrive” have appeared in a file used by Google Pack. The file categorizes GDrive as a Online file backup and Storage service and has the following description:

“GDrive provides reliable storage for all of your files, including photos, music and documents. GDrive allows you to access your files from anywhere, anytime, and from any device – be it from your desktop, web browser or cellular phone.”

This is some pretty hard evidence that GDrive is indeed a reality but truthfully other than the fact that it will be done in Google’s own style the service will really only be an online storage service.

Currently the online storage service is chock full of competitors and even though Google will come in a bully them around a bit there is no indication to me that Google will do it right. To have a great online storage service you need to have some sort of desktop app. I can’t think of a single desktop application from Google that I would actually install on my computer. The only app that is even worth looking at is Picasa, but that is only because in the Windows world there aren’t any good free photo management applications and Picasa is the best option.

I know that everyone wants to look at Google as this big friendly company that can do no wrong but from what I can see, the only services that they built themselves that are worth using is their search engine and Gmail, everything else that I use (and probably most of you use) are apps that Google acquired.

I hope that Google can get it right, I really do, but from my perspective there really are no indications that they can do it.

First Official Description of GDrive.

TechCrunch Tablet Update: Prototype A

The TechCrunch tablet first appeared about a month ago and seems to actually be moving along. The first prototype has been built. The current design is in an aluminum case that a local sheet metal shop put together for them but the final design will most likely use plastic and be almost twice as thin as the current prototype.

They booted the hardware for the first time today and were able to use it to navigate to a web page using the touch screen. The hardware specs are practically final and the rest of the work is going to be done on the design of the case itself, the software, and UI.

They have a team working on the project and Michael Arrington also said: “We’ve learned a lot about building a hardware device over the last few weeks, and it’s clear that it is quite possible to build a high performance web tablet in the price range we anticipated.”

They originally suggested a price range of about $200 and I think it might actually be possible. I was a little down on the project originally but I’m getting a little bit more hopefully for the project, the picture below doesn’t exactly get me excited but I sure as heck would love to have a 10″ (or so) touch screen that I can surf the web on while I’m sitting on the couch.


Pandora Is Near Closing Down

Pandora is an internet radio service that uses the music genome project to give you personalized radio stations based on songs and artists that you like. You aren’t able to pick songs specifically but you can fine tune what the radio station plays by giving each song a thumbs up or thumbs down.

Pandora has also released an application for the iPhone that lets you listen to those internet radio stations on the go. The app is considered by many (and I) to be the best iPhone app out there.

But, even with its 1 million plus users Tim Westergren (founder) has stated that the service is approaching a “pull-the-plug kind of decision.” All of this is happening because last year internet radio stations were hit with incredibly high fees by a federal panel for every song played on their stations. At that time many internet radio stations just shut down, Pandora however has been able to hold on until now but who know what the future will hold for the service.

Rep. Howard L. Berman has been leading a fight that would arrange a few last minute deals between web radio stations and SoundExchange (the company that represents artists and record companies) that would reduce the fees and hopefully keep these internet radio stations in business. Westergren isn’t waiting forever though, saying “the moment we think this problem in Washington is not going to get solved, we have to pull the plug because all we’re doing is wasting money.”

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that we can do, the only things I would suggest one do to save Pandora, is visit (where they list several things you can do to help) and subscribe to Pandora, it only costs $36 a year and it will help them out immensely.


Twitter Ends SMS Updates For UK Users

In a move that will help Twitter save a lot of money and hopefully improve the service for the bulk of the users, they have decided to stop sending SMS updates to UK users.

The reason for this is that (according to Twitter) it costs them $1,000 per user per year to support SMS in the UK, and that’s with a cap of 250 updates per week per user. The fees in the UK are simply too high for Twitter to pay and it reached the point where they realized something needed to be done.

Twitter is seeming to pull more and more features away form its users and I haven’t seen any progress towards bringing them back. I don’t want to go too far down this rabbit hole because I know how much non Twitter users hate hearing about Twitter, but Twitter needs to change. The only improvement is that Twitter is down much less often, but I don’t really call that a change because the service is up as much as it was about a year ago.

I understand that a lot of the features that have been taken away are still possible with api calls but I don’t see the developers stepping in. I hope developers come up with some way to build in track-like features into their Twitter clients because not having track is the biggest issue (that isn’t even that big) I have with Twitter.

Categorized as Internet

NetShare for the iPhone

You may have heard about NetShare by now since it was up on the App Store, and then down, and then up again, and then down again. If you were one of the lucky ones (as I was) to be able to purchase the app while it then good for you and for all of you who weren’t able to purchase it, hopefully it will come back to the App Store.

The app was developed by Nullriver and costs $9.99 and here’s the description:

“Share your iPhone’s EDGE or 3G Internet connection with your computer using NetShare. NetShare provides a SOCKS5 proxy for your computer to connect to.”

Why this app made it through the review process in the first place is beyond me but the fact that it was taken down and then went up again is even weirder. What’s strange about it being taken down is that if I’m not mistaken the app doesn’t break any of the restrictions put upon the SDK, the only agreement it breaks is the AT&T agreement, but in some countries tethering is allowed. So technically Apple doesn’t have any reason to take it down but may be able to argue that since it is not allowed by AT&T you shouldn’t be able to even purchase it (which I don’t agree with).

If you do have the application and are having some trouble getting it set up I suggest using this guide (the troubleshooting tip at the bottom is what fixed issues for me). And if you use Windows here is a guide for you.

Time Warner Cable Testing 40GB Download Cap

Time Warner Cable will beginning testing a broadband service cap of 40GB/month in Beaumont, Texas. The first thing I want to say is that this would end up costing me roughly $40 more per month then what I am paying now.

I would not consider myself to be a heavy user, I probably download roughly 3GB per day though, which, in my opinion, would be considered some one who uses it more than the average joe but not nearly as heavy as the user who has bittorrent running 24/7.

I pay $45 per month and get roughly 4.5Mbps download speeds, they advertise up to 4Mb so I am very happy with the speed compared to what they advertise (I’m not very happy with my speed compared to many of the other people I know throughout the country who are paying just as much as me using Time Warner and routinely getting 8-10Mbps, but that’s another story) but if they brought this pricing to my neck of the woods I would be paying $55 per month for the 40GB and another $20 for the extra downloads (and that’s assuming they aren’t going to charge me for uploads which, if they did, would probably cost me another $20-30).

Many have said that this seems to be an anti-competative move by Time Warner Cable to keep other VOD and VOIP services from being very economical to their users, this would keep almost all of the people who know and use these services on Time Warners side of the fence and away from Skype, Vonage, iTunes, etc. I absolutely agree with that statement, it seems to me that the cable companies, just like the record industry and the movie studios are trying to hold on to a business model that. when you consider what’s possible on the internet, is incapable of doing anything but crashing and burning.

I’m sure many of the people who work for Time Warner Cable are smart but until they start to realize that the best way to fight off competitors isn’t by annoying and hurting customers, they might as well just start throwing their money down the toilet, because that’s where it’s going to end up sooner or later.

AT&T Gives Free Wifi to iPhone Users In It’s 71,000 Hotspots

AT&T hotspots are now offering free Wifi access to iPhone users. Barnes and Noble, Starbucks, and AT&T’s other Wifi hotspot locations are now offering iPhone users a custom portal to access free Wifi. All you have to do is input your iPhone’s phone number and you can access the Wifi for free.

AT&T recently took over as the provider of Wifi hotspots from the previous provider of T-Mobile for 7,000+ Starbucks nationwide. AT&T had already announced that current AT&T broadband customers would also have free access and would “soon extend the benefits of Wifi at Starbucks to its wireless customers,” but up until now no signs of it had come about.

What’s great about this news is that if you have an iPhone but would also like to access the Wifi for free on your notebook, you can change the user agent of your browser to the iPhone’s User Agent and by inputing a valid iPhone phone number you will also get access on your notebook.


The Funnest Way To Improve Your Typing… Ever

I’ve always been the fastest at typing my family, I am sure that many of you out there are faster than me, but in my little bubble of friends and family, I’m the best. Occasionally I’ll go over to my girlfriends house and for some reason, while we are waiting for dinner to finish cooking we’ll decide to do a little online typing test.

Well I’ve found my new favorite site for testing how fast you type. The web site is called TypeRacer and it basically puts you up against 4-5 other people on the website and you play a little game against them to see who is the fastest. The game gives you a small excerpt from a book to type and after the game is finished it presents you with a link to buy that book on Amazon (that means that the web site is monetized with affiliate links and from what I’ve seen is very non-obtrusive).

The game displays the 4-5 other players as different colored cars that move along a track to help show you how far you’ve gone into the excerpt and how much longer until you are finished. There is a leader board showing recent high scores so you can compare your score to others.

I suggest you head on over to TypeRacer and check it out, oh, and if you are curious I type at about 60-65 WPM.

Google Gears Syncs Its Teeth Into Google Docs

Google Gears has been around for a while now and it has been one of my favorite features of Google Reader. But now Google has added similar functionality to Google Docs allowing users to edit and view there documents offline, just as they would if they were online, and when they reconnect the Google Gears plugin will resync all of your changes back up to Google’s servers.

This is the next step in trying to take some of the office application market from Microsoft and I think Google did it right. I would still love to see more features added to Google Docs but for now I think they’re doing just fine.

Video After the jump

YouTube Plugin For MobileSafari and New iPhone 2.0 Screenshots

The Boy Genius Report has been very good recently at posting about iPhone 2.0 and they didn’t disappoint this time. They have posted a gallery of the latest iPhone 2.0 beta. This gallery shows off some of the cool sample applications that Apple has made and they look great, even if they are just sample apps. If you want to check out there earlier gallery I wrote about it here.

The next thing that The Boy Genius Report has found is that the latest release of iPhone beta firmware has a YouTube plugin for MobileSafari. They didn’t say what it was exactly, just saying that they will dive a little deeper to find out. If I was to guess what it was I would say that it was support for embedded YouTube videos. Currently when you visit a webpage with an embedded YouTube video it gives you the blue ?, what this plugin may do is give you a link that, if clicked on, opens up the iPhones YouTube app and finds that embedded video and starts playing it, but of course, this is just speculation. I’ll post again if The Boy Genius Report fills us all in as to what exactly the plugin does.