Friday, November 28, 2008

More Online travel tools to choose from.

Despite the the turbulent economy, a large batch of new Online travel tools have surfaced this past year in a ever crowded market field. These new travel services offerings range from price alerts on a ticket for a specific flight, to an automatic travel journal generator to sites aggregators.
Among a few sample of these new sites, are, Yapta who goes beyond the traditional e-mail alert on a cheap ticket to alert you on a price drop on a specific flight or flights. One of the nice things about Yapta service, is that it offers its users a refund in the form of a travel credit if a ticket price drops after they have made their purchase. It also tracks the availability of reward tickets that its users plan to buy with frequent flyer miles, therefore, taking away the need for its users to regularly check with their airlines to find out when rewards seats are available. For more of Yapta offerings, check their site at
Another interesting travel site, is TripJane, at

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Microsoft to become the default search provider for Verizon.

Despite an intense competition with Google, Microsoft is close to becoming the default search provider on Verizon Wireless cellphones. Under the agreement being finalized, Microsoft would enter into a revenue sharing deal with Verizon for the ads shown next to cellphone Web searches. The deal would also guarantee Microsoft payments to the carrier of between $550 million to $650 million for the next five years.
That may have been the sweetener that helped Microsoft clinch the deal. There are some separate negotiations under way right now which if they come thorough, would put Windows Mobile software in more Verizon devices.

For more, see

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VideoSurf offers a new way to search for videos Online.

With today's overwhelming popularity of Web videos and the many sources that make them available, the biggest challenge now is to know exactly what to look for and where to look to find it. For most of the Web video sites like YouTube, their contents are catalogued by the their original publishers using tags and keywords or "contextual metadata" before they are uploaded for the search engines to be able to find them. One of the drawbacks of that practice is the results can be very unpredictable as they depend on the accuracy of the tagging itself. And since there was no way for a human or a machine to double checking the tags and keywords used, the potential for abuse and misleading were very high. Now, a few start-ups have seized on the need for a more reliable way of sifting through millions of videos and pick the right one. One of those start-ups is a California based company called VideoSurf Inc. What distinguish this video-search site from the rest, is its revolutionary concept to conduct search by "seeing" through a video's images for a particular content as well as using metadata. The company claims to have analyzed and categorized more than 12 billion visual moments lifted from various Web sources at its site Another unique characteristic of the site, is the way it displays the search results in a film stripe like format differentiating one scene from another. It also allow users to search by showing only people faces' , useful if you are looking for a particular person in a movie or a long video. The site is in its public beta phase which may explains its lack of a hundred percent accuracy for displaying the right video or listing the actual available ones. It plans to be much improved and fully operational early next year.

For more, see

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fees and rates increase for credit-cards

Despite the Federal Reserve cut of its benchmark rate to 1%, a lot of people are still being hit by higher rates and rising credit-cards fees.
To make up for their mounting operational losses, many credit-cards companies are raising rates and fees across a broader range of existing customers. For that matter, even customers who pay their bills on time, are not immune. Here are a few examples of credit-cards issuers recent rates or fees hikes:
- Chase J.P. Morgan plans to raise its rates on credit-card cash advances and over-draft protection as well as default rate triggered by late payments or balances going over the limit. Chase will also start charging a new $10 monthly service fee to cardholders carrying large balances for at least two years, while raising their monthly minimum payments for outstanding balances, to 5% from 2%.
- Citigroup and American Express have for their part been notifying cardholders about impending interest rates raises by 2% to 3% .

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bush administration hurries up business regulatory changes.

Following what seems to be a tradition from past administrations in their last weeks in office, the Bush administration this week hurried up to pass several regulatory changes sought after by various business groups.
Among the changes are new rules that open the way for commercial development of oil shale on federal land; a new requirement in the Family and Medical Leave Act that allow employers to ask an employee's health care provider to give the reasons why a medical leave is necessary; the extension of the maximum consecutive hours for truckers to be behind the wheel to 11 hours.
All these new changes are opposed by Democrats lawmakers and some of them are proposing legislation to make any changes by an ongoing administration within its last three months, to be approved by the relevant incoming administration.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

PC makers are slashing the prices

Faced with rapid declining demand, PC makers are racing to cut prices in anticipation of a gloomy holiday season. Dell for instance is offering 20% to 30% discounts on new notebook models; recently, an Inspiron laptop with a 13.3' screen who previously sold for $984, was on sale for $713 plus a free printer on its Web-site.
Other PC makers like Asustek Computer Inc are selling their products in non traditional places like Toys "R" Us and Target in order to broaden their customers base to include children and women.

For more, see

Monday, November 17, 2008

Google Flu Trends to track the spread of flu.

Last week, Google introduced a new service called Google Flu Trends designed to predict faster and more accurately, flu outbreaks. The service developed in collaboration with the Center for Diseases Control or CDC, analyzes information gathered from flu related search terms. The key idea here is that the more people in a certain geographical region are searching Google for flu related terms such as coughs, fever, headache, runny noise etc, the more likely there will be a flu outbreak in that area. The CDC is helping validate and refine the model and is providing data over a five year period. The new system is said to be capable of predicting flu outbreaks in a particular area up to two weeks faster than traditional methods.

For more, see

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Microsoft to add social networking capabilities to Windows Live.

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it was adding social networking features to its latest release of its Windows Live Web services.
In coming weeks, Microsoft plans to offer its users new ways to engage and share with friends online. They can assemble contact lists, set up networks of people and create news feeds that feature Twitter updates, Flickr photos, Yelp reviews and other popular online activities.

For more, see

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Host of spam groups is blocked from accessing the Internet.

The volume of junk e-mail sent worldwide should start dropping soon after a Web-hosting firm, identified by many in the computer security community as a major host of organizations engaged in spam activity, was taken offline yesterday.

For more, see

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Google adds video,chat and audio Gmail

Google announced Tuesday it is adding video and audio chat to its free e-mail service, joining Microsoft and Yahoo in a race to make communication on the Web a more social experience.

For more see,

Monday, November 10, 2008

United Airlines cancels plans to increase charge for second bag.

On Friday, United Airlines announced that it is abandoning its plans to double the price of a second checked bag to $50. Also announced was a holiday promotion during which, the fees to check a first bag will be discounted by 20% if paid online between now and January 31 .

For more, see

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Junk mail lists removal services.

According to the United States Postal Service, American households receive 100.5 billion pieces of junk mail, or 868 pieces for each household each year. If you are among the many tired of receiving junk mail, help is available from some services offering to remove you from unwanted mailers' lists.
At first there is the Direct Marketing Association which last month started a tool called DMA Choice that let you choose between four categories (magazines, catalogs, credit cards, other) or individual business to allow or disallow to receive junk mail from. If you choose to opt out of a particular category or individual business mailing list, that will be good for three years.
Another opt-out service is .What makes this service particular is that it removes your name only from lists that are used to send preapproved or prescreened offers of credit or insurance. It is run by the three majors credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) and Innovis. It lets you opt out for five years or permanently either online or by phone at 1-888-5 OPT OUT.

For more, see

Friday, November 7, 2008

Smart phones bar code scanners.

If you were among the many hesitating to make the jump to smart phones, maybe this bit of information will give you a reason to take another look at them. The news here is that most of the smart phones like Google's G1, Apple's iphone or Samsung' s Instinct, are outfitted with third parties applications that can turn them into virtual shopping assistants. Take the case of the G1 for instance, it is loaded with an application from ShopSavvy which turns the phone into a bar code scanner. Here how it works: You go to a store and point the phone lens to a product bar code and it scans it and send the data to ShopSavvy's database for a quick price comparison online and at local stores and product reviews.
Another cool feature of this application is an email alert. For that to work, you submit your e-mail address and your preferred price for a particular product; ShopSavvy will then send you an alert when the price drops to your likening.

For more, see

Thursday, November 6, 2008

NFL games to be broadcast on Sprint cell phones.

Starting this Thursday with the game between Cleveland Brown and Denver Bronco, and for the next seven weeks, NFL games broadcast in the NFL Network television will be simultaneously shown on Sprint Nextel mobile phones as part of the wireless company exclusive partnership with the league.
The phone-casts as they are called, will be available in two packages. In the first one, the games will be available as part of the company's Everything plans priced at $69.99 a month; the second package can be purchased separately at $15 a month.

For more, see

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Picasa offers face recognition feature

Picasa, Google's photo organizing, editing and sharing software has a new version out that offers a nice face recognition feature. The new feature in Picasa 3 will take the manual work of identifying peoples in your shared pictures by automatically isolating the faces in them and prompt you to identify them by name. It then goes to work by recognizing those faces every time they appear in future pictures so they can be tagged with one click without any taping.

For more, see

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

AT&T is testing Internet broadband cap.

The days of all you can eat Internet broadband usage are closer to an end that you may realize. Slowly but surely, Internet service providers are rolling in Internet broadband usage caps. The latest in that string of companies putting in place cap limits, is AT&T who is following the footsteps of Comcast who has started a similar system at the beginning of last month in Texas. AT&T just confirmed that it is testing a new system for users in Reno Nevada. In that test, new users will be subject to two different caps depending on either they are using slow or high speed DSL service. Members of the first group will see their limit caped at 20GB of bandwidth per month while users of the fastest DSL service will see their limit set at 150GB per month.
Users in both groups who exceed their monthly limits will be billed $1 per gigabyte of data transfer following a one month grace period after their initial sign up.
In the meantime, all existing subscribers are not affected , but when they will as the company plans, they will all receive the 150GB limit. To help its subscribers monitor their bandwidth usage, AT&T is planning to provide them with a measuring tool; other third parties like are already offering some types of measuring tools.
Anticipating no major setback, AT&T is planning to expand the new system to other markets soon.

For more see

Monday, November 3, 2008

WildChargemat allows charging multiple gadgets.

Ever dreamed of a single device that allow you to charge multiple mobile gadgets all at once ? Well now that dream is reality with a new device called WildCharge mat by a company of the same name.
The device is the size of a typical mouse pad with a surface covered by 12 shiny chrome stripes. It plugs in to one wall outlet and can accommodate five electronic gadgets. It costs $60 and each gadget that you want to charge using the WildCharge mat has to be fitted underneath with a contact dots panel to assure the electricity passage from the charger to the gadget. Some gadgets like the BlackBerry Pearl come already outfitted with the "underneath skin" that provides the necessary contact points. Otherwise, you will have to buy a contact dots panel for $35.
The WildCharge mat does not emit radiation or produce magnetic fields and shuts off automatically when a foreign object comes in contact with it, preventing any possibility for electrocution.

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