Monthly Archives: September 2010

TechCrunch Aquired by AOL

As you may have already heard, the popular technology blog, TechCrunch, was recently acquired by AOL, which was announced on Tuesday by AOL’s CEO  Tim Armstrong, as well as the website’s founder, Michael Arrington on the stage at TechCrunch Disrupt.

They even signed the acquisition agreement on stage, in front of the audience at TechCrunch Disrupt. According to Armstrong, AOL has been interested in TechCrunch “for a while”.

In addition to the main TechCrunch.com blog, the acquisition also includes other TechCrunch sites, including CrunchGear, CrunchBase, and MobileCrunch.

Michael Arrington also posted the reasons why TechCrunch was sold to AOL in a blog post from the TechCrunch website, stating:

“The truth is I was tired. But I wasn’t tired of writing, or speaking at events. I was tired of our endless tech problems, our inability to find enough talented engineers who wanted to work, ultimately, on blog and CrunchBase software. And when we did find those engineers, as we so often did, how to keep them happy. Unlike most startups in Silicon Valley, the center of attention at TechCrunch is squarely on the writers. It’s certainly not an engineering driven company.

AOL of course fixes that problem perfectly. They run the largest blogging network in the world and if we sold to them we’d never have to worry about tech issues again. We could focus our engineering resources on higher end things and I, for one, could spend more of my day writing and a lot less time dealing with other stuff.”

If you would like more information about TechCrunch being acquired by AOL, you should check out this post by Michael Arrington, as well as this post by Tim Armstrong, both of which are from the TechCrunch website.

FaceBook Downtime

If you’re a FaceBook user, chances are you’ve probably already heard about the two and a half hour downtime that the site faced yesterday, during which people were not able to access FaceBook’s website. Also affected were FaceBook’s “Like” buttons, which are used on a variety of different pages throughout the Internet. Yesterday’s downtime was the worst outage that FaceBook has experienced in over four years.

FaceBook’s Director of Engineering, Robert Johnson, has posted a note on his FaceBook profile, which explains what caused the website’s outage, which you can view at this link.

Basically, what happened was that an automated system, which checks for invalid configuration value’s in the cache and replaces them with updated values from the persistent store. According to Johnson, this process works well for transient problems in FaceBook’s cache, but does not work when the persistent store is invalid, as well.

When FaceBook made a change to a persistent copy of a configuration value, it was was interpreted as being invalid. Because of this, every client saw the invalid value and attempted to fix it, which involves making a query to a cluster of databases. All of the queries caused the databases to become overwhelmed, as there were hundreds of thousands of requests being made a second.

Also, each time the client made a query and received an error, it interpreted it as an invalid value and then deleted the corresponding cache key. Because of this, even after the original problem had been fixed, the queries still continued. As long as the databases were failing to service some of the requests that were being received, they were causing more requests themselves, thus causing a feedback loop, which did not allow for FaceBook’s databases to recover.

In order to rectify this problem, all traffic to the database cluster had to be stopped, which meant that FaceBook had to essentially be “turned off”, which is why users were unable to access the website. After the databases had recovered from this error, FaceBook allowed more people to access the website again.

In addition, the system that checks for and attempts to correct invalid configuration values has been turned off and other options for this system are being explored.

If you would like more information about FaceBook’s recent downtime, you may want to check out this note from FaceBook’s Director of Engineering, Robert Johnson’s, profile, as well as this post from TechCrunch.

New Twitter

As you may have already heard, Twitter has announced some new updates to their popular social networking service, including a new design, as well as making the service work better with various forms of media, such as pictures and videos.

Twitter’s new design will feature links to your @replies, mentions, retweets, lists, and searches above your timeline, instead of on the right sidebar, like it was before this update. Instead, the right sidebar will feature users who recently followed you and vice versa, as well as your favorites and the list of trending topics.

Also, Twitter’s new design is more “media friendly”, as users can now view pictures, videos, and other media right in their timeline, rather than having to click on a link and go to a third-party website. Some of Twitter’s partners, which enable this feature are DailyBooth, DevianArt, Etsy, Flickr, TwitPic, TwitVid, YouTube, Vimeo, yFrog, UStream, as well as other partners.

The new redesign of Twitter also enables users to discover related content, which they can do by clicking on a tweet, which will provide users with a “details” pane that displays more information about the author or subject of the tweet. Some examples of what you may see in the “details” pane include @replies, other tweets by the user, a map where a geotagged tweet was sent from, as well as other things.

Another new feature would be Mini Profiles, which enable a user to find out more information about another user by clicking on someone’s @username. Doing this will display account information, the user’s bio, as well as their recent tweets.

According to Twitter, these new features will be rolling out over the next few weeks as a preview. During this time, users will be able to switch back and forth between both the new and previous version of Twitter.

If you’d like to learn more about the new version of Twitter, you can do so by going to Twitter.com/newtwitter.

The Creeps

If you’re looking for a new game to try playing on your iPhone or iPod Touch, perhaps you should try playing a game called “The Creeps!”, which is a fun tower defense game by Super Squawk Software.

When you first launch The Creeps!, you will see a loading screen, featuring the company’s name and logo. After the game loads, you will be taken to the game’s main menu, where you can view news, switch players, view the high scores, credits, get help with the game, as well as start the game.

When you tap on the “Start” button, you will be presented with the maps that you have unlocked and are able to play on, as well as some information about the level, such as the game type, how many waves of “creeps” you’ll have to defeat, as well as what defenses are available in a particular. There are also two arrows that enable you to switch between the three different game modes, which are “Survival”, “Endurance”, as well as “Door Buster”.

When you are ready to begin the game, you can do so by simply tapping on the map you’d like to play yon.

Once the game begins, you will have a few seconds in which you are able to place your towers, in order to defend against the various “creeps” or monsters that are trying to attack a character who is hiding in his bed. However, each tower costs money and you only start off with a certain amount, earning more when you defeat monsters. Towers can also be upgraded to increase range and firepower, but the upgrades also cost money. Also, you can still place towers once the monsters have started coming.

If some monsters happen to get through your defenses, getting to the hiding character, you will lose a hit point. Be careful, however, as your character only has 10 hit points and some monsters, such as a “boss”, cause you to lose two hit points if they get through your defenses. Once you run out of hit points, the game is over and you’ll have to try again, in order to get to the next level.

If you would like to try playing “The Creeps!”, you can download it from the iTunes App Store for free.

Google Instant Search

As you may have already heard, Google recently unveiled a new version of their search, called Google Instant. Google Instant enables users to essentially search as they type, with new search results being displayed as if a user has entered a search query and pressed the “Search” button.

Google has tested their new Instant Search feature before and states that while it was “thought-provoking—fun, fast and interactive”, it was also “fundamentally flawed.” The reason Google’s Instant Search was “fundamentally” flawed was because nobody wants search results for something that doesn’t really make sense, such as half of a word or a few letters. Google states that users want “search-before you type”, which means that users want search results for the most likely thing that they were searching for.

Some new features that are included in Google’s Instant Search are dynamic results, which means that search results are displayed as a user is typing, which can speed up searches, predictions, which means that the rest of your search query will be predicted and shown in light gray text as you’re typing it, which can help you get the results you were looking for more quickly. Another feature is the ability for users to scroll through the predictions that Google Instant Search has made.

Google also states that their new Instant Search saves the average user about two to five seconds per search, which will end up saving users 11 hours with each passing second. Also, Google will become the “core search experience” on Google.com for Google’s Chrome browser, Mozilla FireFox, Safari, as well as Internet Explorer 8.

Google Instant will also be offered to Google users in a variety of different countries, such as France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and the United Kingdom when they are logged in and who’s browsers support Google’s new Instant Search feature. In the next few weeks and months, Google is hoping to expand their Instant Search feature to more locations and platforms.

If you would like to try using Google’s Instant Search, you can do so by going to Google.com/Instant.

If you would like to learn more about Google’s new Instant Search feature, you can do so by reading this post from the Official Google Blog.

iTunes Ping

As you may already know, Apple recently announced a variety of new things, including new iPods, iTunes 10, as well as new social networking service called Ping, which enables users to share and follow their favorite artists, as well as discover new music that their friends like, are listening to, and downloading.

In order to access Ping, you should download the newest version of iTunes, which is iTunes 10. When you launch iTunes 10, you should see a new “Ping” option under the “Store” section of the sidebar.

When you first click on the “Ping” link, you will be asked if you’d like to turn on Ping, which you can do by simply clicking on the “Turn On Ping” button.

After you’ve chosen to enable Ping, you will be able to create your new Ping profile, which includes information, such as your first and last name, gender, the option to add a photo, where you live, a brief description of yourself, as well as up to three genres of music you’re interested in.

From there, you should then be presented with some options, such as what is displayed on your Ping profile, as well as other preferences, such as how people follow you.

Then, you should be presented with your dashboard, where there are artists and people that are recommended for you to follow. You can also search for people that you are interested in following, as well. Another thing that you should see is the “Ping Charts”, which includes the top music and albums that were purchased by you followers. Also, you can view your follower’s recent activity from the main page, which includes songs and albums they’ve purchased or downloaded, as well as other things, such as who they’ve recently followed.

If you would like to learn more about Ping, you can do so from this page of the Apple website. If you would like to try using Ping, you can do so from iTunes 10, which can be downloaded from the iTunes section of the Apple website.

iPod Updates

As you may already know, Apple held a special event yesterday, where Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, announced a variety of different things, including updates to the iPod Touch, iPod Nano, and iPod Shuffle.

Also announced was iTunes 10, as well as the new Ping service, which is a new social network, enabling users to follow their favorite artists, as well as their friends, in order to find out what music they’re talking about, listening to or downloading.

iPod Touch

The newest version of Apple’s iPod Touch features a variety of upgrades, including adding two cameras to the device, similar to the iPhone 4, with one camera on the back and one camera on the front, which can be used for Apple’s FaceTime service. The iPod Touch’s rear camera can also record HD video in 720p, but can take photos with a lesser resolution of 920 x 76o. The front facing camera is VGA quality, similar to what is found on the iPhone 4.

Also, users can edit the videos that they take using the iMovie application, which enables users to combine, as well as edit videos on the go. In addition, the iMovie application enables users to add themes, transitions, as well as music to their videos. If you would like to try using the iMovie application, you can purchase it from the iTunes App Store for $4.99.

The new iPod Touch also features a Retina Display, like the iPhone 4, which is made up of pixels that are 78 micrometers wide and has a resolution of 920 x 760. According to Apple, the Retina Display packs four times more pixels into a screen that is the same size as the previous versions of the iPod Touch.

Another new feature is Apple’s new Game Center, which enables users to play games with their friends or soon-to-be friends, as well people they haven’t met before.

The new iPod Touch runs Apple’s iOS 4, and also features Apple’s A4 processor, which can also be found in both the iPhone 4, as well as the iPad.

As for aesthetics, the new version of the iPod Touch is thinner by about a tenth of an inch, with a chrome backing, similar to the older versions of the device.

The iPod Touch is available in an 8 GB model, which sells for $229, a 16 GB model, which sells for $299, as well as a 32 GB model, which sells for $399.

If you would like to learn more about the new version of Apple’s iPod Touch, you can do so from this page of Apple’s website.

iPod Nano

Apple also announced an update to it’s iPod Nano, which has a new look and features a touch screen that supports multi-touch.

The new version of the iPod Nano is 46 percent smaller, 42 percent lighter, with a height of just 1.48 inches and a width of 1.61 inches. Including the clip, the depth of the iPod Nano is now only 0.35 inches. Also, the new iPod Nano weighs just 0.74 ounces.

The new iPod Nano also features a 1.54 inch display, with a resolution of 240 x 240 pixels.

Also, the iPod Nano now features a built in FM radio, with a tuner that shows the user the name of the artist, song, or program that is being listened to. The FM radio also enables users to pause live radio, and rewind up to 15 minutes, as well as fast forward in order to catch up with the broadcast.

Another feature is the ability for the iPod Nano to record your fitness results, as it also features a pedometer so that you can see how many steps you’ve taken, as well as other information. You can also sync your iPod Nano with Nike+ website so that you can keep track of your fitness progress.

The iPod Nano also features Apple’s Genius, which allows users to find music similar to what they’re listening to. You can also create Genius lists using Apple’s iTunes software and then sync the lists to your iPod Nano.

Apple’s iPod Nano is available in two models, an 8 GB model, which sells for $149, as well as a 16 GB model, which sells for $179.

For more information about the new version of Apple’s iPod Nano, you can visit this page of Apple’s website.

iPod Shuffle

Apple’s iPod Shuffle also received an update, which features a clickable control pad that is 18 percent larger than on the previous version of the iPod Shuffle.

The new iPod Shuffle also has a “Shuffle” switch, which allows users to have songs played randomly when moved to the left, played in order when moved to the center, and disabled when moved to the right.

Another new feature on the iPod Shuffle is the new “Voice Over” feature, which enables users to find out the name of a song or artist. In order to use this feature, a user can do so by simply pressing the “Voice Over” button, which is located next to the “Shuffle” switch on the top of the iPod.

Also, the new iPod Shuffle supports multiple playlists, which users can set up using iTunes and then sync the playlists to their iPod Shuffle. The “Voice Over” feature can be used in order to let the user know which playlist they are listening to.

The iPod Shuffle also supports Apple’s Genius, which can be used by enabling the Genius feature in iTunes and then syncing the Genius lists to your iPod Shuffle.

The new iPod Shuffle is only available in a 2 GB model, which sells for $49. Also, users can choose between five different colors, including gray, blue, green, orange, and pink.

If you’d like more information about the new version of the iPod Shuffle, you should visit this page of the Apple website.