How Twitter Can Help You Quit Smoking


In this Sunday’s New York Times, reporter Brian Stelter outlines his using Twitter as a tool for weight loss by setting up a @brianstelter25 account for his progress and tweeting out his exercise plan and meals.

“I knew that I could not diet alone; I needed the help of a cheering section.”

He ended up losing 75 pounds.

On my birthday this year, I decided that 15 years of smoking were enough and tossed cigarettes. I didn’t tweet about it at first, mostly because I felt really sick from nicotine withdrawals –- but on day three I mustered enough energy to pound out the above missive.

The amount of support I received then and in the days afterward was overwhelming, and much like Stelter I would have felt like I’d let people down if I picked up a cigarette instead of my iPhone.

I stuck to my guns and stuck on my nicotine patches, tweeting instead of smoking when in at-risk situations like parties with friends and passing by airport entrances.

I loved smoking like Stelter loved Dunkin’ Donuts, but seeing the support tweets like this one from Lowercase Capital’s Chris Sacca and this one from Twitter’s Troy Holden made me think twice before buying a pack of cigarettes, no matter how much the urge to smoke burned.

I could not quit alone, I needed the help of a cheering section.

Why do people overeat, or smoke or drink in the first place? In my experience it’s either because they want attention or need to be soothed. If you can replace the “stress relief” or whatever satisfaction unhealthy behaviors give you with the positive feelings engendered by reinforcement from the people you’re connected with on Twitter, then Twitter becomes a powerful supplemental tool in the management of addiction.

“Then she mentioned, casually, ‘By the way, I’ve lost 50 pounds along with you.”

The idea of using Twitter as a support group is as new as Twitter itself, but I’ve heard countless stories like Stelter’s, whether it’s OneForty’s Laura Fitton using it to make sure she does her yoga poses every day or our own Paul Carr and his successful attempt at quitting drinking.

One of the more haunting Twit-quitting stories: ZDNet blogger Marc Orchant’s last tweet before his death was in support of blogger Aaron Brazell’s efforts to kick the habit.

And sure some may argue that the gross self-indulgence of the first vice is replaced by the gross self-indulgence of the second. But I’ll take TMI over black lungs any day.

And of course, there’s a Twitter app for that.

Information provided by CrunchBase


AngelPad: Seven Ex-Googlers Are About To Launch A New Incubator

The problem is obvious: it’s hard to launch a startup. But one potential solution, great mentorship and support, isn’t so easy to come by. With their own startup of sorts, seven ex-Googlers are going to attempt to solve that.

While there isn’t too much information out there just yet about AngelPad, it should be something very interesting to watch in the next couple of weeks. A tweet today (the first from their account), reveals a launch date of Friday, September 10 and the opening of an office in San Francisco.

So what exactly is AngelPad? As they briefly state on their site:

AngelPad is a mentorship program founded by a team of ex-Googlers to help web-technology startups build better products, attract additional funding and ultimately grow more successful businesses.

As they also note on their site, AngelPad is about “founders and angels working together to build great startups.” In other words, it’s an incubator.

While at first, it undoubtedly won’t be as structured as something like Y Combinator or TechStars, given the pedigree of the people involved, AngelPad could be a hit among young startups in the Valley.

Here are the seven ex-Googlers involved complete with the bios they included on their team page:

Thomas Korte
Thomas is an active angel investor and startup advisor. Before investing in web technology startups, Thomas was a longtime Product Evangelist for Google and the company’s first international product marketing manager responsible for European advertiser and partner acquisition.

Richard Chen
Rich is an active investor and board member with several technology startups. Previously, Rich led Google’s product strategy for international versions of its advertising, content, and distribution products. He also founded an interactive marketing agency based in Tokyo, Japan.

David Scacco
David is the Chief Revenue Office of Mylikes and an active angel investor. Prior to Mylikes, David was a longtime Google business executive and the company’s first advertising sales executive. He was responsible for Google’s sales strategy dating back to 2000.

Vibuh Mittal
Vibhu is the founder of Root-1 Research and an active angel investor. Prior to Root-1, Vibhu was at Google Research where he worked on a variety of machine learning technologies – several of which made it to publicly facing products. He has also worked at Xerox PARC, Carnegie Mellon University and TIFR, Bombay.

Gokul Rajaram
Gokul is the founder and CEO of Chai Labs and a board member for several internet startups. Prior to founding his own company, Gokul was a Google Product Management executive who helped start Google’s Adsense partner business and other key products.

Deep Nishar
Deep is the Vice President of Products & User Experience at LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, he was a Google executive who helped start Google’s mobile business and was responsible for the product strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Keval Dasai
Keval is the VP of Product at Digg. Prior to Digg, Keval was a Google Product Management executive responsible for Google’s AdWords, Syndication & TV Advertising products.

As I said, this a solid list of people that could undoubtedly help any startup. Expect to hear more about this in the coming weeks an months.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Hunch Tries Local Recommendations

Recommendation site Hunch has been going through a reboot lately. Back in June, it stopped showing results to people who are not signed in, and earlier this month it redesigned its home page to offer personalized taste recommendations across a wide variety of categories such as dog breeds, U.S. national parks, camcorders, soft drinks, luggage, and film directors.

Now it is testing out local recommendations on a map with a sidebar showing restaurants, nightlife, hotels, spas, clothing stores, and more. Hunch local tries to figure out which spots your friends on different services might like (you can sign in with your Twitter or Facebook account) and offers them up at the top of its local search results. Each spot has a corresponding pin on the map. You can filter by different types of venues, and there is also a slider which lets you select more personalized “unique” results or more “popular” ones.

The restaurant recommendations it gave me are pretty decent for an early alpha. In New York City, it suggested Katz’s Delicatessen (a classic), Artichoke Pizza (trendy), Momofuku Noodle Bar (if only I could get in), and Hundred Acres (my wife went there last night! no joke). Each spot contains links back to profiles on Foursquare, Yelp, Hunch, or other places, just like a local search engine.

“It starts out looking at what your Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare friends like, and then gets smarter over time as people give feedback,” says Hunch founder Chris Dixon. He notes that the feature just launched in alpha and is far from fully baked. His plan is to partner with Foursquare, Yelp and others to get their direct data feed of all of their places, which should improve the data.

Hunch took a hit when it started requiring that all visitors sign in. According to comScore, the site went from about 750,000 unique visitors in May, to 250,000 in June, but it already started rebounding in July to 350,000. These numbers undercount Hunch’s actual visitors by at least half, but the trend is right. By focusing on its core “taste graph” and giving people actionable recommendations every time they log in, Hunch is making the right moves to get back on track. Before, Hunch was interesting, but vague. I wasn’t really sure why I needed to go there. Now there are more and more specific reasons, and Hunch Local is something I will definitely go back to try out when I need to find a new place for lunch.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Federated Media Buys Semantic Profiling Technology From TextDigger

Ad network Federated Media is announcing an acquisition today, buying a semantic profiling technology platform from semantic search startup TextDigger today. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

TextDigger, which was incubated at CNET in 2005, spun out a platform for semantic search and related services. TextDigger’s technology allows owners of large content
collections to add semantics indexing on top of an existing keyword search engine.

Federated Media will use the new technology to add semantic technology to content tagging, filtering, topic extraction, and SEO. The technology will also be used for ad targeting, and semantic search engine optimization for a site or network of sites. As you may know, Federated went beyond just serving ads a few years ago, to giving advertisers and publishers a marketing toolbox to see how people interact with these ads.

Tim Musgrove, TextDigger’s founder, will join Federated as Chief Scientist, while retaining an affiliation with TextDigger as their Senior Research Fellow. TextDigger will continue its search business. TextDigger will bring over 5 customers to Federated

Federated Medias founder John Battelle tells me that the acquisition (which he says is the first in the company’s history), will help website owners make their content more engaging. He says the buy is part of of the company’s aggressive strategt towards boosting its product offerings. Last fall, the Federates launched more ad-units and social media-focused ads. The company also recently brought on a Chief Product Officer as well.

After shopping the company around in 2008 and not finding a buyer willing to pay his price, Federated raised a $50 million investment round instead. The company is now profitable and reaches 70 million uniques worldwide.


PocketGear Pockets $15 Million B Round From Trident, Blackberry Partners, And Eric Schmidt

When it comes to mobile app stores, there’s iTunes and then there is everyone else. PocketGear which bills itself as the “World’s Largest Mobile App Store,” closed a $15 million series B round. The round was led by Trident Capital, with the Blackberry Partners Fund and Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s personal investment vehicle, TomorrowVentures.

PocketGear isn’t the prettiest app store in the world, but it sells apps for practically every smartphone platform except one (that would be the other App Store). PocketGear sells apps for Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm, Symbian, and Java phones. It distributes more than 140,000 paid and free titles, and claims that it has sold more than $2.5 billion worth of apps total (which would make it bigger than iTunes, which just recently crossed the $1 billion mark).

Obviously, there is a large and growing market for mobile apps across multiple smartphones that are not made by Apple, and PocketGear aims to be a one-stop shop for all of those apps. PocketGear is based in Durham, NC and was bought out from mobile phone software platform Motricity by Jud Bowman, who was CTO and co-founder of Motricity and now acts as CEO of PocketGear. Previous investors include Noro-Moseley Partners and Wakefield Group.

Information provided by CrunchBase


Thnks Fr Th Mmrs: The Rise Of Microblogging, The Death Of Posterity

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and star
e
– W.H. Davies, Leisure

A little over a week ago, I closed down all of my social media accounts, with the exception of Twitter, which I locked. The explanation I gave was that, in an age when everyone and their dog is sharing every aspect of their life, being a digital recluse is the new “Internet famous”.

Since then, some people have criticized my logic – pointing out that if I really wanted to be a digital recluse then I’d close Twitter too. By drawing attention to myself for becoming a semi-hermit, am I not just trying to have my social media cake and eat it too?

Perhaps. The truth is that there were numerous reasons for me wanting to dial down my use of social media, but presenting numerous arguments in one column is the kiss of death to a columnist. The neo-narcissistic benefits of locking Twitter were what finally made my decision, and so that was the reason I gave. The others would keep.

This morning, though, Leo Laporte wrote a hugely revealing blog post and, in doing so, artfully proved the misquoted maxim that the medium is the message. In short: Laporte discovered last night that, due to a glitch in Google Buzz, several weeks of his updates had failed to reach either Buzz or Twitter. The kicker? Not one of his tens of thousands of followers had noticed, or cared.

Leo’s response was a vow to turn his attentions back to his blog – a place where people visit specifically to read about Leo, and where they email in the hundreds if he skips an update. By contrast, he argues, people on Twitter are so busy broadcasting their own updates that they’re unable or unwilling to listen to others’.

But, while I certainly agree with Leo’s reasoning for abandoning Buzz and going back to macro-blogging, it was another – almost throw-away – line in his post that chimed most loudly with me.

“I should have been posting [on his blog] all along. Had I been doing so I’d have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs.”

Reading that line, I instantly felt Leo’s pain. When I was researching my most recent book – which mainly focusses on the events of the past three years of my life – I spent several days going back through my blog archives, plus Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and the rest – to remind myself of details and events that may have been missing from my more traditional notes. What I found – or rather didn’t find – shocked me.

Throughout my earlier archives, I was able to find lengthy, sometimes surprisingly personal, posts – recounting the highs and lows of starting companies, making and losing friends, leaving London, beginning to travel around America and Europe… and countless other published episodes that backed up, and enhanced the contents of my private notebooks. But then, as I clicked forward through the archives to more recent years, something odd happened. At a certain point, the number of posts in each monthly archive dropped off a cliff, particularly where details of my personal life were concerned.

The reason, of course, was that I’d started to use Twitter for that kind of personal stuff. Unperturbed, I moved my research attentions away from my blog archives and over to my Twitter archives – and that’s when I started to panic: for all the dozens of updates I wrote each month, there was absolutely no substance to any of them.

“I am learning a lot about pens.” reads one update from last year. What does that even mean? “Ok, that’s quite enough of all this. I’m going out”, reads another. Enough of all what? And where was I going? Of course, the fact that I’m a particularly boring tweeter doesn’t help, but look at anyone’s Twitter account and it’s the same story – 140 characters simply doesn’t give enough depth or breadth to commit events, memories or feelings to the permanent record.

I’m one of the lucky ones: I hand-write a lot – and I mean a lot – of notes. Recalling personal experiences is what pays my rent so I have dozens of Moleskine books full of memories to look back on. I also have a similar number of published columns and a couple of memoirs to refer to if my recollection gets patchy.

Others aren’t so fortunate. A decade or so ago, a new generation who would previously have kept diaries instead started to set up blogs. Sure those blogs may have been twee or self-absorbed or clumsily written or emo or just plain boring – isn’t that the joy of a diary? – but they at least required the writer to take the time to process the events of their life, and the attendant emotions they generated – before putting finger to keyboard. The result, in many cases, was a detailed archive of events and memories that they can look back on now and say “that was how I was then”.

And then along came micro-blogging – and, with a finite amount of time and effort available, the blog generation turned into the Twitter (or Facebook) generation. A million blogs withered and died as their authors stopped taking the time to process their thoughts and switched instead to simply copying and pasting them into the world, 140 meaningless characters at a time. The result: a whole lot of sound and mundanity, signifying nothing.

To argue for a mass switch back from Tweeting to Livejournaling (or Bloggering, or Movable Typing…) in the interests of the permanent record is as ridiculous as campaigning for everyone to abandon instant messaging and return to letter-writing. The fact is people are busy (or lazy, depending on your view of humanity) and for the vast majority, immediacy will always trump posterity.

But for those of us who have had reason to look back at the past few years – like me writing my book, or Leo having “woken up to a bad social media dream in terms of the content I’ve put in others’ hands” – the realisation is slightly terrifying: by constantly micro-broadcasting everything, we’ve ended up macro-remembering almost nothing.


Chatroulette Taken Down. Get Ready For Chatroulette V.2

Chatroulette, the service that lets strangers meet over video, has been taken down. A message reads “The experiment #1 is over for now. Thanks for participating – Redesigned and updated version of the website will be launched tomorrow.”

We’ve also heard, but haven’t confirmed, that Napster founder Shawn Fanning has broken ties with the company and is no longer advising founder Andrey Ternovskiy.


You Can Block Any Facebook User Except Mark Zuckerberg

The title of this post kind of says it all. As pointed out by blockzuck.com, you can block anyone on Facebook except CEO Mark Zuckerberg. If you try to do it (we did), you’ll get a message saying “General Block failed error: Block failed.”

This kind of thing is funny, and adds a little personality to the site. But Facebook is getting way too big and culturally important for things like this to continue. In 2005 it was cool for Zuckerberg to have a business card that said “I’m CEO…Bitch.” And we can forgive early Facebook engineers from perusing confidential user data in their leisure time. But it’s time for this company to go through puberty and start acting more like a teenager than a fifth grader. If you want to block Zuckerberg, you should be able to block Zuckerberg.


One Kings Lane: Q3 Sales Up 500 Percent; ‘We’re Not Afraid Of Gilt’

Flash sales sites like Gilt Groupe have proven to not only be a popular e-commerce experience, but also a profitable business model. In fact, Gilt is on track to hit $450 million in revenue this year, with rumors of an IPO swirling. But while Gilt pioneered clothing and accessory-focused flash sales, One Kings Lane entered the space last year as one of the first sites to go after the home goods market.

Launched in April of 2009, One Kings Lane runs brand- and theme-specific sales, at least two to three per day, five days a week. During the 72-hour window that items are on sale, members have can move to purchase limited quantity of hand-selected home goods products at significantly reduced prices. Luxury items range from Ralph Lauren home accessories, to Missoni towels to Frette sheets.

Founded by Alison Gelb Pincus (the wife of Zynga’s founder Mark Pincus) and Susan Feldman, One Kings Lane raised an undisclosed amount of funding from led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, First Round Capital and angel investor Reid Hoffman last December.

However, as other flash sales site, such as Gilt and Ideeli; have entered the luxury home goods vertical, One Kings Lane is now facing a considerable amount of competition to the space. But Pincus doesn’t seem to be to worried about the added players in the arena and tells me that she welcomes the challenge of competing with Gilt in the home goods space.

Pincus and Feldman just brought on a new CEO Doug Mack, a seasoned e-commerce exec. Mack co-founded Scene7, a rich media platform provider for the e-commerce industry, which was eventually sold to Adobe. The site has also added Tastemaker Tag Sales, which allows renown interior designers to create curated sales of items that reflect their style. Mack tells me that these sales are meant to give users fresh content and design inspiration from professionals. And for designers, Tastemaker Tag sales are an opportunity to draw attention to their brand and style.

And One Kings Lane is seeing significant growth. Q3 sales are up 561 percent year over year and the site is seeing high loyalty from consumers, with more than 50% of customers as repeat purchasers. One Kings Lane is now getting into other verticals and will be launching food category in the near future.

It should be interesting to see how One Kings Lane continues to compete with challengers like Gilt. One way the startup could drive traffic is via partnerships with retail stores. Gilt just launched a sale with Target to feature the store’s designer-created home goods and fashions. While One Kings Lane would want to retain its focus on the luxury home goods market, a deal with stores like Restoration Hardware or Design Within Reach could be a good fit.

Regardless, the flash sales model for e-commerce is here to stay and One Kings Lane is proving that vertical-focused sites can grow in the crowded space.


“Stop being weak.” An Interview with Angelo Sotira, CEO of deviantART.com (TCTV)

This week’s episode of Speaking Of… is the CEO of deviantART.

One of the greatest things about TechCrunch is that they celebrate and reward each writer’s own voice rather than forcing every writer to sing from the same hymn-sheet. They encourage differences of opinion. While deviantART isn’t Erick Schonfeld’s cup of tea, I’m definitely a huge fan. I have five pictures up on my wall that I’ve purchased from the site, and they’re absolutely beautiful.

Deviant recently passed the milestone of their 100 millionth submission or “Deviation” as they’re called. I think that’s pretty cool, but what I think is even cooler, is that they just celebrated their 10th year of being in business. I don’t know how old Angelo is, but I imagine that’s about 1/3rd of his life. For a startup entrepreneur, that’s a very long time.

DeviantArt was bootstrapped with 15k in cash, was profitable immediately and the company ran without any additional investment for 7 years. That too is pretty damn cool.  Today on Alexa it has a US traffic rank of 104, making it one of the country’s highest trafficked sites. And yet what’s interesting is that people think of them as being small. Maybe that’s the charm and what’s so special about their site for artists – it doesn’t feel large.

During my interview with Sotira, we traveled back to the site’s roots. DevaintART was originally formed during an era where there was no such thing as a social network. Their artist profile pages, ability to add friendships and commenting system was new and filled an amazing market need for people to connect, share and sell their works. Sotira’s inspiration came from the early days of creating a site for Winamp skins. Their artists made other forms of art such as paintings and were looking for a digital home. Ten years later, you have one of the largest and most vibrant community-driven art sites online.

What advice does Sotira have for new entrepreneurs? For one thing, don’t be weak. He feels that the new crop of entrepreneurs has it a lot easier than he did and needs to do more with very little. He also feels that his generation built platforms while the new generation will be all about marketing, creating the most powerful generation of marketers the world has ever seen.

The title of the episode is Speaking Of… Flying, because of Angelo’s love for flying RC helicopters and the fact that our interview takes place in a cockpit of a plane. How cool is that?



Solar Charger For iPhone Swiftly Sucks Up The Sun

Product: P-Flip Foldable Solar-Powered Dock DCA 199

Manufacturer: Dexim

Wired Rating: 8

The very concept of keeping an iPhone fully charged? Laughable. But using the sun as a power source? That’s positively preposterous.

Apparently crazy is on the menu over at Dexim HQ. Their new solar-powered P-Flip promises to juice an iPhone’s talk time up to eight hours.

The rigging basically looks like a bulky black and camouflage case. You slide the iPhone in (there’s a version for BlackBerry schlepers too) and the panels soak up sunlight and transfer it over to the phone’s power-hungry battery.

While the P-Flip manual claims a full solar charge takes 10-12 hours, Dexim’s website says 15 hours. Whatevah! In our testing we found it takes at least half a day of sun exposure to get the power meter full. But check it out: It doesn’t matter if it’s cloudy, foggy or smoggy — the battery charges up at the same rate no matter the conditions.

Want to know just how much charge the P-Flip battery has? Push the side button and an array of three LED mini-lights tell you how much energy you’ve got left. The middle light also keeps you informed if a solar or USB charge is taking place.

The P-Flip is also digitally ambidextrous, flipping both horizontally or vertically — cool for hands-free viewing of videos in either direction. There’s an included USB cord too that you can use to sync the phone with iTunes on a PC or Mac.

The dock folds up for compact storage, although we suspect sensitivity to dings and scratches of the exposed solar panels. A form-fitting storage case might be a good idea if you don’t mind added bulk.

In any event this solar charging case isn’t a bad idea. Anyone who needs their phone charged and won’t be near an electrical outlet for a while would be smart to get one. After all, it looks like those crazy kids from Hair were right to demand that we let the sunshine in.

WIRED Unique solar-paneled charger and sync dock for iPhones (and BlackBerry) keeps you talking for extra hours. Collapsible clamshell dock can be used as a kickstand for viewing video and for syncing as well. With a male-female iPod extension cord, you can recharge an iPad as well.

TIRED Charging the dock via the solar panels takes half a day. Plastic covered solar panels get ouch-worthy hot when left in direct sunlight.

product image

Amazon’s Third-Generation Kindle Keeps e-Reader Fire Burning

Product: Kindle Third Generation With 3G + Wi-Fi

Manufacturer: Amazon

Wired Rating: 9

Though Amazon.com won’t say how many units it has sold, its Kindle e-reader has been a tremendous success for the e-commerce giant. Some analysts estimate Amazon sold 3 million before this year, and will double that total in 2010. Despite some predictions that the iPad and other Web-oriented tablets would start the Kindle doom clock ticking, its continued popularity bodes well for the future of single-purpose long-form reading devices.

The new third-generation Kindle only makes that future brighter. All its basic virtues—instant downloading from an abundantly stocked store, light weight, ability to read in sunlight—are still there, with significant improvements in text readability, physical design, and battery life. And the Kindle’s march towards an inevitable double-digit price point continues, with a new, Wi-Fi only version priced at $139, fifty dollars cheaper than the standard 3G wireless version (which also adds Wi-Fi.) Both versions begin shipping on August 27, but are back-ordered well into September.

Compared to the 2007 original (whose weird shape was the butt of cruel jokes from design snobs) the new Kindle is so svelte and understated that you wonder whether Amazon hired Apple’s Jony Ive for a brief consultancy. Weighing in at 8.7 ounces—barely half the weight of the one-pound paperback version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo—it’s less than a third of an inch thick, cutting an even tinier profile than an iPhone 4. The color is now graphite, which supposedly heightens the text contrast. (The 3G connected higher-end version can still be ordered in white.)

No matter what the color of the plastic, the denser e-ink on the new Kindle is going to make a lot of previous Kindle owners jealous. Amazon says it’s a 50 percent boost in contrast; stats aside, the clarity of text makes what was a good reading device even better, largely mitigating the grayish background of the screen display. The new Kindle also offers more flexibility in font size, spacing and words per line. The other reading improvement that Amazon boasts about—a 20 percent reduction in the brief blackout that occurs when you turn the virtual page of an e-book—is less significant. After hours of Kindle use, I have come to hardly notice that blackout anyway (though many novices are bugged by it). The one feature I do miss—and actually exists on the iPad Kindle app—is a slider that allows you quickly “thumb” through the pages of text to an approximate area you want to find. (When it comes to reading publications with more complicated layouts, like newspapers or magazines, though, touch-screen, backlit tablet computers still have the edge.)

Speaking of navigation, each generation of Kindle has discarded the previous interface hardware for selecting and getting around your reading material. This Kindle discards the stubby joystick for a “five way” display that’s a select button surrounded by directional keys to help with cursor movements. Also, the “menu” and “home” buttons have been moved from the side panels to the keyboard, leaving just slim page-forward and page-back buttons on both sides of the unit. Big win. For the first time, you can grab a Kindle without worrying about accidentally pressing a button that loses your place. Unfortunately, Amazon still hasn’t gotten it exactly right—the “up” and “down” movements on the 5-way button are too close to the “menu” and “back” buttons and if you’re not careful, you can easily hit them by mistake. Maybe the fourth generation will be the charm.

Since I only had my new Kindle for less than a week, I couldn’t test Amazon’s claim that the battery would last ten days with the 3G on, and a month with the radio shut off. (The low-end version claims 3 weeks with the Wi-Fi on.) But even if the specs come close, that seems like a nice boost to those who want to travel without worrying about keeping their charger close. There’s twice as much on board storage from the previous gen Kindle, enough for 3500 books. And the basic Kindle finally has the native PDF support of its bigger brother, the Kindle DX.

Should you get the low-end Wi-Fi version for $139 or the one with free 3G mobile connectivity for fifty bucks more? I didn’t get a chance to test the low-end Kindle, but after using the Wi-Fi on the deluxe version, I found it simple to access and use my password-protected network. The Amazon store (and other web pages) loaded a little more nimbly via Wi-Fi and it seemed to me that books downloaded more quickly, too. Basically, unless you plan to use your Kindle in a lot of situations where you dont have Wi-Fi access, or are traveling internationally (Kindle’s AT&T 3G broadband works overseas for free), I think that the lower-end version would be fine. Even though Amazon has sped up its web browser (buried under the “experimental” menu option) it’s still monochromatic, sluggish, and awkward compared to a computer, iPad, or even your smart phone.

Amazon is also offering a new case for the Kindle with a built-in book light that draws power from the device itself. Snaking above the page, the light does a decent job, but the case adds considerably to the bulk to the Kindle, which is really nice to use in its naked form. At $60, the case is expensive in comparison to the gadget. If Kindle prices keep going down, and the price of a cover keeps inching up, will users soon pay more to shield the Kindle than they do to buy it?

Even though it’s not part of the new Kindle launch, I should mention a feature that Amazon rolled out in the last operating system upgrade. You may now come across passages in a downloaded book that have been highlighted by other users. (You have the option of turning it off.) You can also access a list of such “meaningful passages” through a menu item. Though this seems spooky the first time you see it, I think it’s a hint of how reading itself may be creeping towards a social experience.

The subtle implementation of this feature shows Amazon’s awareness that it is at the forefront of a movement that may have powerful and unexpected consequences on the centuries-old practice of reading. But the company’s primary mission with Kindle is to establish it as something readers will want to carry around with them, even in the emerging age of tablet computers. The third generation Kindle, with its aggressive pricing and its improved design and features, does that job nicely.

WIRED Amazon keeps pace with a more competitive e-reading marketplace with a smaller device, more readable text, yet and another improved hardware interface. $139 price for Wi-Fi version will open the door for multi-Kindle families. Battery life is long enough for space shuttle missions.

TIRED Still the same DRM, no touch-screen navigation, the book-light case is too costly. Only those with tiniest fingers will avoid hitting the “back” button when moving the cursor down. Interface for newspaper and magazines still clunky.

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Boost USB Port Voltage

ixp1-500-ipad-usb-300x168.jpg

Most larger gadgets that recharge via USB require at least 10 watts of power like Apple’s iPad. The iXP1-500 dongle claims it will allow devices to recharge from underpowered USB ports.

I’m not quite sure how they accomplish this for $5, but I assume it must have some sort of capacitor inside that stores juice from these underpowered ports and then sends it down the USB port.

XMultiple Technologies (the makers of the iXP1-500) say that its “100% guaranteed to work”. Hocus pocus or simple electronics? I’m not sure, but if anyone out there gets one be sure to let us know.

tech.nocr.atBoost USB Port Voltage originally appeared on tech.nocr.at on 2010/08/20.

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Replace Batteries With USB Power

battery-sized-adapter.jpg

If you can avoid using disposable batteries then you should. Landfills are full of them and we are doing nothing more than killing our environment by using them. I know that rechargeable batteries are better, but there is always the hassle of having to recharge them and then you eventually have to toss them out as well.

When Apple recently released their desktop trackpad I was surprised to see that it was using batteries as opposed to USB power. Apparently others thought the same thing and did something about it.

battery-adapter-in-use-e.jpg

Markbog over at the MacRumors.com forums did just that. He crafted together a battery size dowel and stripped down a USB cable to make it all happen.

I’m assuming the trackpad must have a voltage regulator or voltage step up since 2 AA batteries only give off 3V and the USB power spec if 5V. Either way, it seems to be working just fine for him.

tech.nocr.atReplace Batteries With USB Power originally appeared on tech.nocr.at on 2010/08/20.

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