Yesterday MyStrands, the music discovery service/social network launched MyStrands.TV, a new offering that serves up music videos related to your tastes. If you've ever used Last.fm, the idea is similar--just type in an artist name and you'll get a playlist full of their videos, along with several recommendations for similar artists or genres. The service keeps track of which videos you've watched, and shows you a listing of members who have added that artist to their own playlists. There's also a social element with user pages full of custom band picks you can … Read more
I spent some time today talking with Cosimo Sperais, CEO of Zipidy. Zipidy provides an interesting mobile solution that currently helps end-users find and pay for parking (the technology, however, has uses well beyond parking). Funny enough, the company was born from Cosimo's problem one day in finding parking in San Francisco.
While Zipidy's platform will allow the deployment of any service for the mobile customers, in this first phase Zipidy is focusing only to support and deploy services that are categorized as "info mobility," and specifically a wireless closed loop parking solution that is designed to provide substantial incremental value to all core parking participants: End-Users, municipalities (making it a lot cheaper to collect parking fees, rather than sending out parking fee collection agents), and merchants. The solution supports all forms of parking mechanisms, including On/Off street meters, gated garages, permit driven spaces and parking lots.
While I find the parking solution interesting (and, yes, I've had the same problem finding parking in San Francisco), I wanted to hear how open source helps a company like Zipidy, which is not in itself an open-source company. The answer was interesting:… Read more
We bet you never thought you could one day design shirts from your phone, but with My Custom Product Designer, you can. With this little application for iPhone, you can design any number of shirts, hats or other items at CafePress.com. Simply start with a blank T-shirt and add text and artwork to make your ideal design.
iPhone Link: http://www.cafepress.com/iphonecart
In a move that further shapes its image as an MTV-like pop-culture hub as well as a social network, News Corp.'s MySpace.com has announced that it will be sponsoring a concert tour this fall.
Appropriately called the MySpace Music Tour, the series of shows will kick off October 16 in Seattle and will host more than 30 performances before winding down in Las Vegas around Thanksgiving.
The tour will also … Read more
Embeddable widget powerhouse Slide gained buzz as a way to display photo slide shows on MySpace, but then saw meteoric growth as part of the Facebook Platform initiative. Now, the company has announced that 1 million of its Flash-based widgets are added to the network's servers every day for non-Facebook social media platforms. Slide's Facebook widgets, which rank No. 1, No. 2, and No. 6 on the list of most popular embeddable applications on the white-hot social network, are not Flash-based and consequently were not included in the tally.
Note that this refers to widgets created, not "… Read more
Short of keeping a pen, paper, and notebook in your glove compartment, there's not really an easy way to track your driving habits between gas fill-ups. Enter MyMileMarker, a simple and useful solution for figuring out how much driving is costing you in gas, and how many miles you're likely to put on your vehicle in the course of a year. Best of all, you can upload your data to the service for free on the Web, or using your mobile phone.
Setting up your vehicle with MyMileMarker is about as simple as it gets--just put in the … Read more
If you've ever used Picnik (review) before, you have an idea of how far online photo editing has come. Similarly, there's Fotoflexer, a user-friendly photo editor that offers one-click tweaks, along with some advanced tools on par with desktop class photo editing software. The service has been around since late last year, and is launching version two this morning.
Like several other online photo editors, Fotoflexer integrates major services like Flickr, MySpace, Picasa, and Facebook to pull your photos down for editing. Short of MySpace (which doesn't have an open API), you can send your edited photos back to all of them if you've plugged in your login credentials. Once you've found a photo you want to "flex," the app will jump you out to a full-screen editing canvas, where you have quick tabbed controls for all the usual editing goodies like rotation, a cropping tool and a resizer. You'll also find some fun distortion effects similar to the liquefy tool in Photoshop (as seen in the screenshot below). This is probably the most enjoyable of the bunch, since it processes the effect in real-time.
The real claim to fame however, is Fotoflexer's Smart Cutout and Recolor effects, which can help you cut out various pieces of a photo, or recolor them to match the tone of your choice. The cutout is the more useful of the two, and lets you cut people or objects out from a shot without having to trace their outline. If you've ever used Photoshop's magnetic lasso or masking tool, you'll know full well how tedious a process this can be. Instead, you use a small paintbrush to "tag" objects you'd like to keep or remove. One click later, and the app will do its best to single out those parts of the photo. If it makes slight mistakes, you can then go back in and remove or replace bits and pieces manually.
Once you've got a cutout, you can add it into another photo, or bring another shot in to the workspace. Fotoflexer lets you have as many layers as you want, and you can move them up and down, or merge them by simply right-clicking. Again, it's probably one of the few Web apps for photo editing that offers contextual menus.
Despite its beauty, there are a few snags here and there. For one thing, even in full screen, the editor remains the same size, which looks and feels very odd if you're using a wide screen monitor. The feature is being added as early as this week according to the Fotoflexer team, although in the meantime, if you're working with a landscape shot, things feel a bit cramped. There's also a lack of some of the advanced editing controls on the quick color effects. For example, clicking the "stamp" button will do its best to make your shot black and white shot with an excess of contrast, however there's no slider or option to tweak it. You either like it or you don't. Luckily, if you know what you're doing, you can achieve similar effects by using the advanced options to recreate each effect manually.
All in all, Fotoflexer is a really well put together app that could make a solid piece of standalone software. The fact that it's free and runs in your browser makes it even better.
Playboy has launched its own social network, aimed at college students and built on Ning, the create-your-own social networking service. The site is called PlayboyU, and from the start it's taking a very early-Facebook approach, including an .edu-only e-mail domain requirement for potential users. For many there's still an allure for a service that's privatized by an educational pedigree the way Facebook used to be. But that's far from the most interesting distinction. This is Playboy we're talking about--but there's no nudity allowed.
The site is advertising the typical offerings made available through … Read more
FreeWebs has officially launched the WYSIWYG Site Builder tool we blogged about last month. In short, it lets anyone build a site without any knowledge of HTML, or having to refresh the page to see changes. The service soft-launched the tool early last week, and I took it for a spin this morning.
Site Builder emulates a desktop app, with a small floating tool bar, and context-sensitive menus that will serve up different actions depending on what tool you're using. For example, if you've inserted an image, the menu will give you options to align it with text, … Read more
In an appeal to the coveted youth vote in the upcoming presidential elections, MySpace and MTV announced Thursday that they have joined forces for a series of "one-on-one dialogues" with all the major candidates from both political parties--televised and Webcast events in which presidential hopefuls will answer questions from MySpace members and MTV watchers. Formally, it's a collaboration between MySpace's "Impact" political channel and MTV's "Choose or Lose" election effort (which it has been operating since the dinosaur days of the 1992 election), and it's the first collaboration that the … Read more