I've always preferred prognostication to nostalgia, so rather than replay the best of 2007, I'll use these late December doldrums to make 10 predictions for the coming year. Some editors will warn you that this kind of list is suicide--it's too easy for everybody to look back a year later and see where you were wrong--but it hasn't hurt Cringely, so here goes. In no particular order.
It's still under wraps, but the report says WhatsOpen.com offers a Web application that shows people nearby stores that are open for business.
Valleywag has screenshots that show that the application appears to use a Google map mashup to display stores that are open in your area. It also looks like it includes user written reviews.
Looks like a no-brainer to me; who wouldn't want to get that kind of information on a phone based on your … Read more
Microsoft started an open beta program for its consumer-oriented mashup builder Popfly on Thursday at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
Popfly is a hosted application that enables people to assemble mashups by dragging and dropping components, rather than writing code. It's built with Microsoft's Silverlight Web browser plug-in.
When Microsoft released the alpha in May, it had prebuilt "blocks," or connections, to popular Web sites Flickr and MySpace.
Now it integrates with Facebook and people can create gadgets (also called widgets) that run on Windows Vista or Windows Live.
There are a growing … Read more
I got a little bit obsessed with JibJab.com's "Starring You!" video creator when it allowed me to create videos of my co-workers dancing the Charleston in drag while horrifically bored on a slow news day. (Josh Lowensohn looks awesome in flapper garb.)
Now, as I've just learned, the site has created a politics-meets-Halloween gimmick so that you can edit a likeness of yourself into mini-movies called "Night of the Living Democrats" or "Night of the Living Republicans" and battle zombified versions of politicians from the political party you abhor the most. … Read more
This morning's addition of a YouTube layer to Google Earth added a whole new dimension of utility to the popular mapping application, but if you're looking to take advantage of some of that geo-tagged video goodness without installing anything, there's Mappeo. This Portugual-based site offers up nearly the same thing as Google Earth, with the addition of a search tool that lets you limit the videos to a specific area by keyword. Admittedly the service falls a little flat when you compare it to the catalog of video clips you're getting with Google Earth. There's … Read more
There's something deeply satisfying about creating a video, and in the spirit of discovery, National Geographic Digital Media has announced Wildlife Filmmaker, an online video mashup to make you look like a wildlife documenter.
At first glance this is a nice-looking package for targeted video creation--all stylish black with bold accents in a Flash application. Putting together fun film clips is dead easy when you drag National Geographic's video footage of a variety of animals from the clips library to the corresponding clip bin on the storyboard. Repeat with sound snippets, music themes, and captions you author in the Web application's tab. Then click "play" and try to choke back the lump of pride you experience watching little Susie's--or your own--masterpiece.
It's a fun trifle, but from a Web application perspective, Wildlife Filmmaker is flimsy. Footage is limited, and there doesn't appear to be a way to import your own sounds, music, or video clips. Also absent is a way to preview the visual and audio media before dragging it to the storyboard. Once there, the clips lock into time slots graduated at every 5 seconds. The unfortunate result in my film was a caption that spilled over the crux of the clip. I should also note that I couldn't delete unwanted captions from the caption creation tab.… Read more
Zude, a new Web site by Fifth Generation Systems (5g), lets you make a collage of all your favorite items from the Web and present them in one spot.
The site took down its password-only entrance and went into "soft launch" last week. In other words, it's testing the waters to see who in the public sphere will find and use it.
IBM released on Tuesday a tool that it says will let businesspeople, rather than professional programmers, build their own Web applications.
Called the the Mashup Starter Kit, it is an updated version of QEDWiki tool. The starter kit lets people view and access Web information and company databases in order to build mash-ups--applications that combine information from different sources in a single screen.
IBM, which sells to corporate customers, sees a lot of potential in giving businesspeople the ability to build their own applications via tapping into various information sources.
For example, an insurance agent could combine internal rate information … Read more
According to a McKinsey & Company study of US economic activity, "Raising the productivity of employees whose jobs can't be automated is the next big performance challenge." The study argues that "as more companies come to specialize in core activities and outsource the rest, they have greater need for workers who can interact with co-workers, partners, and vendors," supported by highly personalized organizing and communication tools. 40 percent of labor activity, says McKinsey, comes not from making things or from traditional transactions but from what the consultancy calls the "Interaction Economy," which it … Read more
Looking for new areas of revenue, infrastructure software company BEA Systems intends to introduce a new set of products, according to the company's CEO.
BEA's second-quarter earnings, which the company reported on Thursday, exceeded analysts estimates but did not allay concerns about the company.
The infrastructure software company said its revenues were $365 million in the quarter but did not report earnings because of an ongoing review of its accounting. Services revenue was up, but its license revenue was down 9 percent.
Financial analysts said the consistent license revenue slide has raised concerns about the company's competitive … Read more