Sunday, October 5, 2008
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Virtual Personal Assistants Make Life Easier
Too busy to book airline tickets, order takeout food, or call your parents? For $19 per month, virtual personal assistants from AskSunday.com will run 10 such errands for you.
Welcome to the world of online errand outsourcing, where on sites like AskSunday.com and GetFriday.com, ordinary people can get assistance with everyday tasks, for a small amount. SFGate recently ran an Associated Press article on the phenomenon, citing the growing number of Web sites that are making it easier to outsource virtual errands overseas to countries like India, China, and Bangladesh.
Some of the more unusual tasks handled by GetFriday.com include:
- Daily wakeup calls that also deliver the local weather report and instructions to get up, make the bed, and exercise
- Reading bedtime stories to children over the phone
- Buying underwear on behalf of clients (online purchase only, the company points out)
- Talking to mom and dad in a client's stead
AskSunday.com provides its service 24-7. At GetFriday.com, clients get a personal assistant working in time-zone-specific shifts, available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., for instance.
Virtual assistants for individuals and small businesses represent a small but growing market. Last year, the estimated revenue for these services was $250 million, according to research firm Evalueserve, which expects the market to grow to $2 billion by 2015.
For more specific tasks, there are sites like Guru.com, a Pittsburgh-based company that helps employers find freelancers helping with Web design, language translation, and photography. Guru.com launched its online job board in 2000 and has a rating system similar to that of eBay, with reviews from earlier customers, as well as hourly rates, yearly earnings, and locations of the freelancers.
Another site where customers can search professionals based on rate, location, earnings, or feedback is Mountain View, Calif.-based Elance.
Elance and Guru.com are not only platforms for low-wage workers in the developing world, but also for Westerners. Will sites like this level the playing field of the global economy?
Posted by Europe Hotels at 5:18 AM
Sunday, July 13, 2008
It's official Summer Olympics Will Be Streaming to a PC Near You
By Melissa J. Perenson, PC World
If you're a fan of rhythmic gymnastics or badminton (or maybe you're just bored at work), this year's Summer Olympics will be a bonanza for you, as NBC plans to stream video of thousands of hours of the competition.
The 2008 Summer Olympics, which begin on Aug. 8, will captivate audiences worldwide. No other sporting event captures the spirit of sportsmanship and athletics quite like this quadrennial gathering. But the Olympics can be a source of frustration for remote watchers. A complex schedule that mimics a 14-ring circus often makes following your favorite sports difficult. That is, until now.
NBC Universal hopes to transform your Olympics viewing experience via an ambitious Web strategy that includes more than 2,200 hours of live streaming video (with the option of viewing up to four streams at once) and interactive data to help you move smoothly between text, such as athletes' biographies, and video of their performance.
Seeds planted in 2006
Besides streaming live video at its official Beijing Olympics Web site, NBC plans to post 3,500 hours of recorded video online at the conclusion of each event, for the duration of the Olympics. Previously, NBC's only streaming-video presentation during an Olympics was a single hockey game, which it streamed live during the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.
The Silverlight-Microsoft connection
NBC turned to Microsoft's Silverlight technology to get the necessary link between data available elsewhere on its NBCOlympics.com Web site and the network's Olympics video. Silverlight is Microsoft's programming environment for producing slick, interactive content that can be played on any Web browser; the platform ties into Microsoft's .Net framework and its myriad services, including Microsoft Live Search. As with Flash, you must download a browser plug-in in order to support the content. Silverlight 2.0 is also supposed to have smoother video playback performance as compared with Silverlight 1.0.
Viewing online: What to expect
NBC's media player supports three interactive modes: Enhanced, Live Control Room and Popup. Enhanced mode is playable in wide-aspect ratio, at full screen (1060 by 600 pixels) or at small screen (848 by 480 pixels). The player will use the highest bit rate that your PC allows -- up to 650 kbps for live events and up to 1.5 mbps for on-demand (that is, recorded) events, as determined by a combination of your bandwidth, your PC's components, and your choice of live or on-demand video. (See "Better Streaming Video" for tips on how to optimize your hardware and your broadband connection.) Enhanced mode also gives you access to extra features like expert commentary and live blogging that will appear in an accompanying text window -- a handy option if you are catching the competition while at work and can't listen to the audio action.
Multiple simultaneous live video streams
Live Control Room mode may be the most appealing option for true Olympics junkies. It lets you view up to four live streams of video at once, via one primary window and three smaller picture-in-picture windows. The primary video in this mode is presented at 320-by-176-pixel resolution, with a 350-kbps video stream; picture-in-picture views are presented at 128-by-96-pixel resolution, with a 50-kbps video stream.
Where the content will come from
According to NBC, the video available for playback will hail from a mix of sources, including feeds from the International Olympic Committee's international pool of broadcasts, NBC's cameras and NBC's studio commentary operations in Stamford, Conn., and at its New York City facilities.
Mobile streaming video planned
Access to NBC's multimedia streaming won't be limited to desktop PCs. NBC will have a dedicated live-streaming mobile channel, NBC-to-Go, that will carry feeds from NBC's television networks. However, the channel will be available only on AT&T cellular phones. Don't have an AT&T phone? Then you won't be able to watch live feeds -- but you can access video highlights of various events via a WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) version of NBCOlympics.com on any WAP-enabled cellular phone.
Beefy broadband needed for Olympics viewing
Want to enjoy the Olympics online? You'll need a broadband pipe that's big enough to meet the demands of NBC's Silverlight video player. According to Schematic, the Popup mode (a small pop-up screen that coexists with your spreadsheets and Word docs) will require a 512-kbps broadband connection plus either a PC with a 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 CPU and 512MB of RAM or an Intel-based Mac PC.
Posted by Europe Hotels at 5:15 AM
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
11. Gordon Moore
24. Vic Hayes
Sunday, June 8, 2008
Top 10 Signs you're Addicted to Google
10. Your kids still believe the Googlebot is bringing the Christmas
9. When someone asks “How are you?” you mouse-click in mid-air at
them and say “I'm feeling lucky.”
8. You shout at the librarian when she takes more than a tenth of a
second to find your book.
7. You just lost a case in court to name your newborn son “Google.”
6. Google is your second-best friend... and you're thinking maybe it
should be first.
5. Your Google shirt is losing color.
4. When people talk to you, you try to optimize their keywords.
3. Your last three Sunday family trips have been to the Googleplex.
2. You are convinced “What’s your PageRank?” is a good pick-up line.
And the number one sign you are addicted to Google:
1. You are completely clueless without a computer.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Stop Thieves From Stealing Your Laptop
Stop Thieves From Stealing Your LaptopStop Thieves From Stealing Your Laptop // Kensington MicroSaver Keyed Retractable Notebook Lock (© PC World)
Posted by Europe Hotels at 10:47 PM
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Apple's New Line of iPods for 2008
Leading up to Apple's grand unveiling of its refreshed iPod line, the chatter was all about the so-called "phat" iPod Nano. Turns out the "phat" Nano is anything but: Sure, it's wider than the previous slim Nano stick; but, its form is actually svelte, stylish, and lightweight. The new Nano is packed with more capabilities--namely, video playback and casual gaming--than its music-only predecessor. Plus, it carries a rated battery life of 24 hours for audio, and 5 hours for video--about enough to get you through the first two installments of The Pirates of the Caribbean series.
How Far We've Come?
In early 2005, the second-generation 6GB Apple iPod Mini, seen at left, shipped. That model sported a 1.67-inch monochrome display, weighed 3.6 ounces, and measured 3.6 by 2 by 0.5 inches. At the time, its size was considered fairly compact. Fast forward more than two years later to the new iPod Nano (the first Nano replaced the Mini in Apple's lineup), seen at right. The tiny Nano is a marvel, with a 2-inch color screen and less than half the Mini's weight and half its depth. The Nano weighs just 1.7 ounces, and measures 2.8 by 2.1 by 0.26 inches.