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Today Amazon officially launched its Matchbook service that we reported on a while back. The service offers electronic versions of hard copies of books customers purchase for an additional $3 or less. Amazon says that the service is retroactive and any books you have purchased over the years qualify if they are in e-book form.
The books are in Kindle format and include all the features one would expect when buying a book for their kindle. Whispersync, X-ray and everything else functions as normal. The company says that it will continue adding titles to the service and new releases will be added as well. Personally, I love this new service. Last year I lost my entire book collection when my home was destroyed in a fire, and now I can go to Amazon, and replace a lot of those books in digital form for just $3 each!
Today Google announced that two of its largest web services now support handwriting input. Thats right, both Gmail and Google Docs now let you transcribe text using input from a handwriting peripheral such as a stylus or usb-based pen. While this is useful for some, the real benefit comes when you combine this with Google Translate.
When combined with Google Translate, users who have to send an email to China or Japan can significantly speed up the writing process as users can simply handwrite the email in their own language, and let Translate handle the hard work for them. Unfortunately, anyone who has ever used Google Translate knows that it is notorious for inaccuracies so beware.
It appears that Hollywood has won one of its larger battles in the "war on bittorrent." Long time torrent search engine, isoHunt, will be closing its site forever as the result of a pre-trial settlement. The settlement includes an agreement that sees isoHunt paying $110 million in damages to Hollywood studios.
This settlement ended what has been an ongoing battle over the last seven years between isoHunt founder Gary Fung, and was filed on grounds that the website enticed internet users to torrent movies and TV shows. The settlement comes after a ruling against isoHunt back in March of this year, where the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that there was ample evidence that Fung offered his service with the intent to promote piracy.
Chris Dodd, chairman of the MPAA, said in a statement that the settlement "sends a strong message that those who build businesses around encouraging, enabling and helping others to commit copyright infringement are themselves infringers, and will be held accountable for their actions."
Kickstarter has been absolutely massive for some companies, with products like Oculus Rift and OUYA being born from the crowdfunding website. Now Kickstarter will make the jump to Australia and New Zealand starting November 13.
The crowdfunding site has requested that interested parties begin their projects now in preparation for the launch, with Kickstarter holding a "school" in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney. Those who are interested should sign up now, as it should be capped out in no time. You can check out the Kickstarter site for more details.
Just a few months ago, Yahoo announced that it had completely redesigned Flickr in an attempt to make the service more modern and user friendly. Yahoo has once again updated its image hosting and sharing service and has focused on making individual photos as large as possible.
Alongside the large photos, Flickr has moved all of the extra info, additional images, and relevant information off to the left hand sidebar. This really cleans things up and makes navigation easier than ever. Additionally, the new layout really speeds things up, which is something many Flickr users had complained about since the redesign was launched.
"With the new photo experience the image is about 25% bigger than on the previous photo page," Flickr said in a blog post. "You'll see more pixels, get a cleaner view without any elements on the top or the bottom of the screen, so that photos can really be the center point."
The day has come: every single major Internet organization has pledged to free themselves of the influence of the US government's control at a summit in Uruguay.
The parties involved include the directors of ICANN, the Internet Engineering Task Force, the Internet Architecture Board, the World Wide Web Consortium, the Internet Society and all five of the regional Internet address registries have promised to cut ties with the US government. During a statement, the group asked for "accelerating the globalization of ICANN and IANA functions, towards an environment in which all stakeholders, including all governments, participate on an equal footing."
Right now, the US department of commerce has oversight in the operations of ICANN, but not for long. During a separate part of the statement, the group "expressed strong concern over the undermining of the trust and confidence of Internet users globally due to recent revelations of pervasive monitoring and surveillance."
YouTube has provided some more details on how its upcoming offline viewing mode will work: if you add a video to your device to view later, and then disconnect that device from the Internet, you'll be able to watch that video for up to 48 hours without Internet connectivity.
Once those 48 hours are up, you'll need to reconnect to the Internet if you want to watch the videos again, it will refresh that you're connected, and the videos will still be playable, for another 48 hours. The offline videos and playlists will be stored on your device, under an "on device" section of the YouTube sidebar. You can add more content to your device directly from the watch page, or from wherever you are viewing a video from.
Google will push out an update of YouTube for mobile in the coming weeks, where this new feature will be front and center.
Today Google announced that it has updated its Slides service with two new features that help improve the presentation experience. For those who are not familiar with Google Slides, the service is part of Google Drive and is the company's answer to a free PowerPoint-like tool for building presentations.
The update adds new editable master slides which allow the user to change the overall theme of their presentation by selecting "Edit Master from the slide menu. This lets you do things such as setting all of your first level bullets to bold, or change the font of your header. The program now defaults to widescreen now as well which makes building a presentation on a widescreen monitor much easier.
Recently Slashdot announced the websites third redesign in its thirteen year lifespan, and TweakTown was invited over to take a look at the new diggs. This morning I was given a personal walkthrough with Slashdot's Senior Editor, Tim Lord, who emphasized that Slashdot's goal with the redesign is to help better deliver content to its readers across all devices.
The first thing that really caught my eye is the website's new modern theme. The old sites rounded corners and "Web 2.0" gradients are no more, and the new layout is very appealing to the eye. Lord told me that they really focused hard on simplifying the overall layout, and wanted to make things easy to navigate. The removal of the sites old left-hand navigation bar has greatly cleaned up the overall appearance as well.
Lord said that while Slashdot has always been more heavily weighted towards text, the new layout allows Slashdot to display a single eye catching image atop some of the frontpage post. While some users prefer an image along with their teaser, so do not, and Slashdot has kept those users in mind. A new widget has been placed at the top of the news feed that allows users to switch between three viewing modes. The Standard View will appear as default and will display a single image along with the content teaser. Additionally users can select Headline and Classic views that will set the site to display just the post headlines or the classic view which displays the full post.
Over the last year, Yahoo's Marissa Meyer has been working hard at revitalizing the stale company with new looks, new services, and changing the companys image to something more modern and hip. Today the company has unveiled a complete redesign for its Mail service that brings forth a more refined and elegant email experience.
The new Yahoo Mail is being rolled out today across all platforms and features a new compose screen as well as a new Flickr-generated theme that gives the service a transparent UI. Users now also have a data cap of 1TB, which is much larger than Gmail, but still not unlimited like previously given. Yahoo does say that 1TB of email storage is enough room for 6,000 years of email though.
Yahoo chose to roll out the new design today, on what is the service's 16th birthday, and personally I love the look and feel of the new Yahoo Mail. As an avid Gmail user I really hope that Google takes a long and hard look at this new UI from Yahoo and implements some changes of its own to Gmail. What do you think about the new layout? Are you a fan of Gmail or Yahoo? Let me know in the comments.