Mapping Addresses in Yahoo! Mail

yahoo mail addressThe folks at Yahoo! have added a little feature to Yahoo! Mail that recognizes addresses and phone numbers. The new features will automatically recognize and underline all phone numbers and addresses in mail messages, and easily get directions or view locations. The new feature will also allow for the ability to instantly add addresses to your address book. Google’s Gmail has had this feature for a while, however they have taken a much more subtle approach by tossing a link in the corner. So with this new Yahoo Mail feature, I hereby announce the start of email wars. Challenging Google, Yahoo!, and MSN to come up with and release some additional helpful features for its users. What would you like to see added to online email applications to make your communications easier? How about some folders in Gmail? Or a notepad?
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GooSync – Sync mobile devices with Google Calendar

GooSyncGoogle Calendar kicks some serious butt. Unfortunately, being a web application, it doesn’t natively synchronize with mobile devices like Pocket PCs, Palm devices, or cell phones. If you want to do that, you’ll need a 3rd-party application, like GooSync. GooSync is a little application that actually lives on your mobile device, and can synchronize to Google Calendar “over the air”. This means that in the case of phones, it will connect to the internet and perform a synchronization, while Pocket PCs and Palm devices can use either a WiFi or phone data connection (if available), or the pass-through internet connection provided by ActiveSync or HotSync, respectively.

This concept is wonderful, and by many accounts works flawlessly. Unfortunately, after importing my massive Outlook calendar into Google Calendar, it turns out my Google Calendar account is somewhat of a challenge for synchronization tools. GooSync fails about 80% through the synchronization, but I’m not willing to pin that problem on them. I’ve also tried other applications that claim to be able to synchronize Google Calendar to tools like Outlook, and they fail as well.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve tried GooSync, and what your results are.

Spy death radiation probe widens

Spy death radiation probe widens

The number of sites contaminated in the Russian spy radiation alert has doubled to around 12 and is likely to rise again, British Home Secretary John Reid said. He disclosed that a fourth and fifth jetliner have also been caught up in the scare — although one was later given a clean bill of health.

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Why MSN (Live) Search is losing share: the blog conversation

An interesting discussion is shaping up across a number of blogs, all relating to Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Watch posting a number of graphs showing MSN (Live) Search to be losing market share to Google. Sullivan posts this graph showing the drop in market share over the last year:

A number of bloggers chimed in with their takes, including Greg Linden of Findory and Nathan Weinberg of Inside Microsoft (who can’t resist Office 2007izing the chart):

Weinberg goes on to offer his thoughts on why Live Search is losing share:

Theories:

  • Change is bad: Users don’t like two redesigns in two years, and the unfamiliarity is sending them away.
  • Windows Live Search looks cheap: The old MSN search looked cheap. It was too white, too sparse. The layout and colors didn’t have the right “feel”, seeming like a low rent search engine, rather than a serious competitor to Google. While Google shares many of the same properties, users know it is the search leader, and are willing to overlook its design. MSN doesn’t get the same pass. While the newer MSN Search and now Live.com improved the look and feel, they retain some sort of cheapness. Personally, I think its the white and blue. Something dramatic and dynamic to make the page more exciting. Ask.com has it (the red bar) Yahoo has some of it (the red Yahoo logo, plus they rip off Google well). Perhaps Widncows Live needs a new color on the page, or an animated element. Anything to break it up. A suggestion: Animate the flair on page load.
  • Lack of marketing: Most people don’t know Windows Live Search exists. Microsoft is counting on (a) community evangelism (and besides myself and some other bloggers, I’m not sure there is much of that), as well as (b) MSN and Internet Explorer users discovering the search engine in random use. For god sakes, buy some good commercials, ones people can’t ignore, something undeniably cool and memorable. Also: Say Live.com in your ads, leave out Microsoft, and I guarantee they become more effective.
  • Beta feel: Regardless of how popular Gmail invites used to be, the average user hates betas, and will not use products that appear under construction. Windows Live has so many products that don’t work, don’t work all the time, are behind invite-only walls, or have a beta tag, that users instinctively say “I’ll wait for when its done”. Focus on core products (Live.com, search, image search, news search, Live Mail) and demand a full release by the day Windows Vista hits retail. If you have to, stop designing new features and stabilize the damn code. I don’t care how good the product will be, because your users are leaving now.

..and goes on to say that he has a “geek crush” on Windows Live and wants them to win.

Then Eric Selberg of Microsoft and Live Search chimed in with two posts, where he comments: “Well, what did anyone really expect?” and continues on to provide a very realistic summary of what Microsoft is in for to try and compete in Search. In a comment on Linden’s post, Selberg goes into more detail about the complexity of competing in Search:

“Now… to be fair and critical… let’s say Microsoft did invest a few more billion into search. It’s not clear hiring could have happened much faster, nor would we have wanted it as bringing on that many new people is a recipe for disaster. But certainly, the hardware infrastructure could have been built out such that it’d be much closer now (you’ll notice we’ve been rather quiet about the size of the index since the Google / Yahoo 20 billion index scuffle a year and a half ago). That’s happening, and I suspect in a year or two the size of one’s data centers won’t be as big a competitive advantage as it is now. But it’s a fair point.
I think the real question is whether we’re talking about a matter of 1-2 years vs 4-5 years. If we’re arguing about 1-2 years, well, OK, fine, you win. We could have done a bit better. But as I told Steve Hanks the other week, if I knew everything I knew at the end of my PhD as I did when I started, it would have taken me a lot less than the 6 years it did. But of course, that’s the point of it all!”

Very interesting to have Selberg chime in on the discussion – this is the kind of blogging we have been missing – maybe it’s not dead after all!

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Hot Holiday Gadgets: Motorola KRZR

krzr.jpg

Even if you’re relatively out of touch you’re probably familiar with the Motorola RAZR, the iPod of cellphones and the most popular flip phone out there. It’s gotten so ubiquitous that Moto had to go and release a half-update to it to try to get RAZR lovers to drop another chunk of change on a similarly designed, yet not all that improved, new phone. Hence the KRZR was born. Think of it as the RAZRs bratty little brother. If you’ve got one on a holiday shopping list, here are all the deets you need to have.

What it is: The new flip phone from Motorola.

Why it’s cool: It’s narrower than the original RAZR, but it’s also a bit longer. It’s shiny and small, two of the most important attributes of any fashionable phone. It has a rather unimpressive 1.3-megapixel digital camera, but that should be plenty for taking photos of your drunk friends at the bars.

How much it costs: The KRZR will set you back $200 if you sign your life away to Verizon for two years. Seeing that the original RAZR was $500 when it was first released and can now be picked up for around $30, it’s safe to say that the KRZR’s price will be dropping significantly over the next few months. It might be worth holding out on this one, if you can.

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Excitable Nintendo fanboys smash TVs with flying Wiimotes

Wii Smash

It seems that some overeager Wii users have gotten a bit too worked up while playing Wii Sports, bowling so hard that the strap of their Wiimote snapped, sending the controller barreling into their TVs. Is there anything worse than bowling for a spare and ending up with a busted big screen TV? As easy as it would be to blame Nintendo for making shoddy wrist straps, let’s be honest here: if you’re whipping your controller around so fast that it reaches TV-smashing velocity, you’re playing the game with a bit too much energy. It seems likely to me that people might have been playing without the wrist strap, got a bit too worked up, had their palmsweat send the Wiimote flying, then snipped the strap afterwards for sympathy/free TV from Nintendo points. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you, wear the strap, and simmer down.

~PS. What the hell size tv is that???

Hot Holiday Gadgets: Slingbox

Slingbox

One of the most innovative products to come out this year is the Slingbox, a little box that goes on top of your cable box and broadcasts your TV to the internet. It’s garnered tons of buzz by doing something that not many new gadgets can claim to do: change how people use their TVs and computers. It’s a stunningly simple premise: placeshifting. It might sound complicated, but it isn’t. If you’ve got someone asking for a Slingbox this year, here’s the info you should have before hitting the stores.

What it is: The Slingbox AV, Slingbox Tuner, and Slingbox Pro all hook up to your TV and allow you to control it via the internet.

Why it’s cool: It lets you watch your TV from anywhere, including using your DVR, OnDemand services, and Pay-Per-View. It works on both computers and hand held devices hooked up to a 3G wireless network. You can control your TV with no additional monthly fees and it’s a breeze to set up.

How much it costs: The AV and Tuner models both cost $170, while the Pro model is $250. The Pro model is for people who have lots of devices they want to hook up, and it also supports HD. The Tuner model connects via coaxial and the AV via RCA or S-video cables.

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