The Branding of DROIDs

Right now, two companies are promoting their Google-Android-powered mobile phones as DROIDs. The first is the Motorola DROID, the second being the HTC DROID ERIS.

It struck me as strange that two competing companies would brand their devices so similarly, notwithstanding the obvious tie-in with the Android platform.

As it turns out, “DROID is a trademark of Lucasfilm Ltd. and its related companies. Used under license.” Both the Verizon Wireless online store and the company’s commercials promoting the devices provide this clarification.

So, that answers that question. George Lucas’ Star Wars empire receives a royalty for each DROID-branded device sold and can license the name to whoever it likes.

Flavors.me vs. AIM Lifestream & Streamy

A new service called Flavors.me, currently in invitation-only beta mode, hopes to become your online destination for all things social. The idea behind the service is simple, and certainly not new, but Flavors.me’s execution far surpasses its competitors such as AIM Lifestream and Streamy.

Flavors.me, as well as AIM Lifestream and Streamy, creates a central location to display tweets, Facebook posts, pictures, reading lists, music interests, and much more in something referred to as a lifestream (little L makes a big difference).

The idea behind Flavors.me is somewhat different, though, as it creates a publicly-accessible page. With the new service, rather than having multiple online destinations where interested people can find your web presence, you can direct them to one place that aggregates the otherwise-disjointed information.

I recently received an invitation to the Flavors.me beta, and I have to say, the service far surpasses that of AIM Lifestream or any other competitor. First, unlike its competitors, Flavors.me pages are meant for sharing and cannot be password protected. Second, its interface is much simpler, yet it boasts some important features that other services lack. In addition, the overall design is much cleaner without sacrificing aesthetics.

Continue reading Flavors.me vs. AIM Lifestream & Streamy

Condescending Mobile Phone Carrier Nicknames

There are certain things I’m quite outspoken about, and my preference for Verizon Wireless over every one of its competitors is one such example. My disdain for Verizon’s competitors largely stems from living in New England, where Verizon dominates.

Over the years, I’ve come up with condescending nicknames for two of its three nationwide competitors, but T-Mobile has always been one carrier that escaped my venom.

AT&T became AT&WeSuck, while Sprint, following its merger with Nextel, became SprintSuckTel.

Have you devised a creative name that both derides T-Mobile’s inferior service while clearly identifying the carrier?

I ask because I’m working on a future post regarding the four nationwide carriers. If you have any suggestions, leave a comment below.

Has the Internet Gone from Luxury to Commodity?

As a decade of significant change draws to a close, has the internet moved from luxury to commodity?

I would argue that the internet is a necessary part of everyday life, be it as a communication tool and social medium, news source, or even a method for seeking employment. Nowadays, it seems there is little that doesn’t have a home on the internet, from the local soup kitchen to the PTA to one’s financial institutions.

As more information becomes available exclusively online and countries move to eliminate non-electronic payment methods, internet access will become as necessary to everyday life as reliable electricity and telephone service.

Perhaps this reasoning is, at least in part, behind the FCC’s push to expand broadband access nationwide.

Second BlackBerry Outage In A Week!?

Last Thursday, the company that makes BlackBerry smartphones had a problem with its equipment that prevented some users from receiving email on their devices.

Tonight, Research in Motion (RIM) is experiencing a total service outage effecting North and South America. For at least an hour, I’ve been unable to access any data services from my device, including internet service and email.

In the case of BlackBerry, all emails routed to the device travel first through its data center, a setup intended to reduce the load on individual corporate email servers. As the recent problems highlight, however, such a design can have devastating consequences if RIM’s data center goes offline or experiences some other downtime.

One very minor lesson learned: BlackBerry users now know what it’s like to be an iPhone user on AT&WeSuck.

Update: It appears that the problem was resolved around 3:05 EST on December 23 as I received a number of previously-undelivered emails at that early hour.

Trackback Mystery Solved, At Last

I’ve written recently and with much frustration of the disappearance of trackbacks from my site.

At first, I erroneously attributed this problem to my theme’s omission of the trackback RDF and URL codes. After adding both codes to the Journalist theme, it seemed that trackbacks had returned, but I soon realized that the links were only intermittently appearing.

Then, in the process of upgrading my site to the latest version of WordPress, I identified the true reason for my missing trackbacks. As part of the upgrade, I eliminated a few redundant plugins, including WP Captcha-Free. This plugin, which claims that it won’t block pingbacks or trackbacks, did just that.

I can confidently attribute the cause of this mystery to WP Captcha-Free because trackbacks from uberVU and Topsy once again appear in the IntenseDebate moderation queue.

After a month of confusion and consternation, I can happily report that I’ve resolved the mystery of the missing trackbacks.

Google’s Holiday Gift: Donations to Charity the Rest of Us Can’t Afford

Google, in recognition of the difficult financial situation brought on by the recession, pledged $20 million to various charities “to thank [its users] for the time, energy, commitment, and trust you’ve shared with [Google] in 2009.”

Google’s announcement continues,

“This gift is for someone very special: Everyone. Because charities are experiencing their toughest year in decades, we have committed $20 million to helping those who help us all. Our gift to you is a gift to them. Happy Holidays.”

The groups receiving the funds are:

Their announcement came in an email to users with a page on its site to accompany it: http://www.google.com/advertising/holiday2009/.

Happy Holidays from Google
Happy Holidays from Google

Google Wave Invite Contest Redux

Last month, I tried to give away fifteen Google Wave nominations, without success. I can only imagine that anyone interested found the contest rules too onerous.

So, in recognition of the fact that I have more nominations than I know what to do with, I’m reviving the contest in much simpler fashion.

To participate, simply leave a comment on this post. The first fifteen (15) individuals to do so will be nominated. Be sure to include a valid email address with your comment (email addresses aren’t made public).

Because all comments are moderated (unless you’ve commented on this site before), you will not immediately see your remarks listed. Nonetheless, all comments are timestamped, so once I approve your posting, it will appear in the order I received it.

My disclaimer from the previous contest bears repeating, so:

“Know…that these are not invitations in the typical sense. Google instead allows current Wave users to nominate others to receive invitations. Of the few I’ve sent so far, all have been accepted within a few days. That being said, I cannot guarantee that you will receive an invitation immediately.”

With that in mind, I suspect that being nominated is a faster route to receiving a Google Wave invitation than adding your name to the waiting list.

If you have no clue what Google Wave is, check out “First Impressions of Google Wave.”

BlackBerry Storm with OS 5 Runs Faster With Less Free Memory

My biggest complaint about the BlackBerry device software is that application memory is limited to whatever space is left after the operating system is installed. This means that, while my first-generation Storm has a MicroSD memory card, I cannot run applications from the card. As a result, I am somewhat limited in how many applications I can add to my device. To address this problem, newer BlackBerry models include significantly more Flash RAM than does my Storm or did previous BlackBerries.

Ironically enough, while OS 5 takes up more space than its predecessor, my Storm is more responsive with the new software. I regularly run low on memory, but even when the device prompts me to delete unused applications, its performance isn’t impacted. This revelation came as quite a surprise, considering the improvements to the interface’s appearance that OS 5 brought.

Perhaps the minor changes, such as reducing the 3D effect on buttons, reduced the processing power needed to render the Storm’s user interface just enough to improve the device’s overall response. Whatever the reason, I certainly don’t mind that my device rarely displays its clock-face-like “please wait” icon.