Now playing: New Paltalk Messenger screens original Web shows

Picking what to watch on TV from the crowd of new season premieres just got more complicated. Webtainment is ramping up in a big way, with content both created by and for the public now playing on various outlets across the Internet. One such notable is the migration of Paltalk from a social network congealed through an IM client, to an online media network.

One with edgy aspirations at that. This fall, Paltalk will show several original series that have been produced to fit the updated chat platform, now called PaltalkScene (download here.) The updated application expands on Paltalk Messenger's existing multimedia capabilities with Screening Rooms--private and public chat spaces of up to 5,000 viewers where users can watch, voice chat, and instant message about uploaded user videos and Paltalk's new shows.… Read more

Hate your friend's avatar? Redo it

The truth is, some people just don't have much style; and it's up to you to usher in the revelation.

That's one way to look at a Yahoo Messenger plug-in that helps you give your buddies' avatars a makeover (see special feature for more on avatars). Back in the old days, before plug-ins were invented, we had to coax and needle our contacts for permission to outfit them with some fancy new 'dos and duds. Now we can mount an indirect atta--suggestion--for avatar rebirth, all in the name of good chatting fun.… Read more

Yahoo Messenger for Mac adds archiving, smiley faces

Yahoo Messenger for Mac 3.0, which remains in beta testing, received new features today. Mac users now have a full set of emoticons to express their inner smiley, monkey, or other faces. In addition to allowing you to save chats to a hard drive, the IM client enables direct access to Yahoo Chat rooms. The Mac-friendly Messenger also organizes multiple conversations within a tabbed window.

And as with the Windows edition, the free Yahoo Messenger for Mac allows users to chat with contacts who use Windows Live Messenger. The application requires Mac OS 10.4 or later. Yahoo hopes … Read more

Jaiku gets IM interface

Jaiku (more), the microblogging service that does more than Twitter but has fewer users, just added IM capability. You can now update your Jaiku account from an IM client, and get updates sent to you on IM from your Jaiku network as well.

This feature rounds out the access system for Jaiku. The service already has a robust mobile phone app for Series 60 phones, and it has a Web site optimized for mobile devices. The Jaiku IM interface works on Jabber, so LiveJournal and Google users can access it. Users of other IM networks (AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft), might want … Read more

Non-lethal defense from 40 feet away

The problem with Tasers and Mace is that they often still require you to be at an uncomfortably close distance to an attacker to work most effectively. And with the general population getting taller all the time--with accompanying wing spans--the art of self-defense can be all the more difficult.

The Avurt IM-5 aims to change all that, quite literally, as a "personal protection launcher" that can incapacitate a would-be perp from a distance of 40 feet, which Gizmodo says is 25 feet more than a Taser's range. The $300 flashlight-sized device can fire five pellets containing PAVA … Read more

Meebo re-launches improved iPhone chat app

This morning Meebo is releasing a freshly updated version of their chat app for the iPhone. The new iteration is more finger-friendly, requiring none of that pinching nor chat window management of the previous version--which was admittedly a quick fix to accommodate early adopters of Apple's handset. Gone is the classic desktop feel of Meebo, which has been replaced by a simple buddy list that takes up the entire screen, and can be perused with one finger. To begin a chat, simply click on somebody's name. It's very intuitive.

With this latest version, Meebo has done something really cool by pulling up the last few lines of your last conversation, assuming you were using Meebo as your client. Likewise, your saved Meebo away messages are there, along with a spiffy new status changer that lets you choose them from a wheel.

All in all, the update is a nice addition to the lineup of IM apps for the iPhone. I'm still partial to Mundu's offerings, which I believe to be the best of the bunch, but already we've come a long way in a short time towards removing the need for client-side IM apps.

More shots of the new interface after the jump.… Read more

Preview: Streamy--yes, it's a Digg killer

I'm not going to beat around the bush here, Streamy is a Web service I've been looking forward to getting my hands on for some time now. Well, to be exact, it's been just more than a month since I first heard about it, from a mysterious YouTube video that caught my attention. I was lucky enough to get an invite to the still-private service earlier today. I've been testing it for the last hour or so and am already impressed. Not because it looks really flashy (which it does), but because it has the groundwork for a very socialized surfing experience without requiring you to install a new Web browser, or discontinue using services you're already familiar with.

In a nutshell, the service is a hybrid between Digg, Facebook, your favorite instant-messaging client, Google Reader, Twitter, and By its very name, Streamy is a mashup service. It pulls together a variety of your social streams: be it your favorite blog feeds, news alerts, or friends updates, and rolls them up into a slick package.

On the social networking and bookmarking side of things, every user gets a profile and an online presence. You can fill the profile with all sorts of information about yourself, but the real clincher here is a listing of what feeds you're subscribed to and groups you've joined. The feed reader itself lets you subscribe to as many RSS feeds as you'd like and view them all without having to leave the page. If there's any embedded content like video or music players, that comes along for the ride too.

If you find anything interesting while browsing, you can share it in several ways. There's the typical "e-mail this" option and quick links to publish it to the Streamy community, to a group you're a member of, or your friends. Much of the interface is drag and drop, and as an "aha!" moment earlier, I shared something with another Streamy user by simply dragging a story headline onto their buddy icon. Cool.

I intend on giving Streamy some more of my time to really get a feel for how it handles a huge influx of feed subscriptions and a growing user base as the service opens up. In the meantime, here are some screenshots of the interface. There are several more after the jump, so be sure to click the "read more" link below.

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Altec Lansing's iM600 is a great road trip iPod speaker system

FARMINGTON, N.M.--One of the many gadgets I've been carting around with me on Road Trip 2007 is Altec Lansing's iM600 iPod speaker system.

I personally own a much earlier iPod speaker from Altec Lansing, and I've enjoyed it for a long time, though I've often wished it had a little more oomph.

Well, the iM600 has answered that desire, and for a remarkably affordable price: only $150 gets you this sweet compact little device.

Here's what it has: an easy-to-fit iPod dock (with plug-ins for iPod Nanos and older models), as well as … Read more

Mundu's got a slick, multiclient IM for iPhone

Amid the growing group of instant-messaging solutions for the IM-less iPhone, Mundu (a Webware 100 winner) has just released a new contender that handles four of the most popular chatting protocols with a fantastic interface. If you're an iPhone user, just navigate your Safari browser to, which takes you to a log-in screen with access to your AIM, Yahoo, MSN, .Mac, and Google Talk accounts. You can log into all of them simultaneously, although there's no master password system like you get with Meebo.

Each client gets its own buddy list, and any additional … Read more

Trillian: First Look

Trillian's all-in-one instant messaging client made its name by offering chat-happy users a single account where they could connect with friends from all the major IM networks. While the popularity of some networks it supports has dwindled, Trillian has only improved.

Check out Trillian's moves in the First Look video below, or see how it stacks up to competing all-in-one IM clients in a CNET video with Neha Tiwari.