Popular Apple Support Discussions going social, becoming Communities

As a long-time Mac troubleshooting researcher and consultant, one of my favorite and perhaps the most valuable Mac knowledge sites online is Apple's own Support Discussions forums. According to an official post on the site, the forums will be receiving a makeover, becoming more socially inclined by adding feature sets like avatars, homepages, and widgets. … Read more

Make playlists social with Songvote

According to a study conducted by Slacker in 2007, about 70 percent of music enthusiasts don't want to spend hours creating the perfect playlists, meaning that unless you're a DJ--or just really hard-core about music arrangement--you'd probably prefer to just listen to your library on shuffle or have someone else do the mixing for you. Internet radio stations such as Pandora and Slacker, and social recommendation sites such as iLike and already do a good job providing the latter.

However, if you're craving a mix for a specific mood or activity--or if you want to limit the DJ powers to a specific set of personal acquaintances--Songvote is the service for you. This extremely nifty (and completely free) Web-based app lets users create collaborative playlists based on a simple time-restrained voting system. Using it is ridiculously straightforward: visit the site; create a theme-, event-, or activity-based contest; and then sit back and wait for the votes to roll in. Once the time is up (based on an end date you specify), Songvote provides a final playlist based upon the results of the voting. Each mix also includes direct links to AmazonMP3 and iTunes to spur song purchasing.

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Adobe releasing Puppet code for managing Hadoop

Puppet Labs announced on Thursday that Adobe Systems is publishing code for managing Hadoop on the Puppet Forge community development site. (Disclosure: I am an adviser to Puppet Labs.)

Puppet is an open-source data center automation and configuration management framework aiming to provide system administrators a platform for consistent, transparent, and flexible systems management.

The necessity of data center automation and management tools (often grouped into the DevOps category) is becoming ever more apparent, as cloud principles and large-scale systems that process data in a parallel manner continue to emerge.

Case in point: Hadoop is an open-source platform powering hugely … Read more

Immunet offers peace of mind

Common Windows security wisdom says it's a bad idea to run multiple antivirus apps simultaneously. Generally that's true, but Immunet 2.0 intends to play nice with your existing protection and bolster it with help from the cloud and the crowd. Immunet's latest update introduces new scanning tools, detection engines, and support in a bid to persuade users that the program is the spackle they need to plug the holes in their security wall.

Installation and setup The installation of Immunet 2.0 asks for registration, which you can skip to avoid sending your data up to … Read more

Cloud security upstart Immunet aims for antiviruses

Common Windows security wisdom says it's a bad idea to run multiple antivirus apps simultaneously. However, that's not always the case, and Immunet's latest update intends to bolster your existing protection with help from the cloud and the crowd. Available exclusively Thursday on CNET, Immunet 2.0 introduces new scanning tools, detection engines, and support in a bid to convince users that the program is the spackle they need to plug the holes in their security wall.

Similar to PC Tools' ThreatFire, which didn't originally address virus-related threats but does now, Immunet seeks to … Read more

Facebookipedia? Here come 'Community Pages'

It might not seem like much, but a Monday announcement from Facebook to unveil its new "Community Pages" feature is one of the boldest steps that the social-networking site has taken toward, well, consuming your life.

"Community Pages" take the concept of a Facebook "fan page" and apply them to concepts, places, and ideas, rather than brands. An announcement at the top of Facebook's prototype community page for "cooking" explains that it aims to be "the best collection of shared knowledge on this topic," and sources quite a bit … Read more

'Why Firefox?' and 'Why Windows?'--same answer?

Is Mozilla becoming too much like Microsoft?

In a strange bit of irony, Mozilla, the foundation behind the popular open-source Firefox browser, increasingly relies on Microsoft's playbook to promote Firefox adoption. No, Mozilla executives aren't secretly plotting an open-source monopoly to replace Microsoft's, and, indeed, are focusing precisely on doing the opposite.

But the answer to the "Why Firefox?" question increasingly sounds the same as the answer to "Why Windows?"

Namely, community/application support, to the exclusion of significant improvements in its performance.

I've been using Google's Chrome browser on Linux, … Read more

Silicon Valley faces rough road to recovery

Silicon Valley has faced tough times before. But climbing out of its current downturn may prove more challenging than ever, says a new report.

Hit by the recession, overseas competition, and political gridlock in California, Silicon Valley--a region virtually synonymous with the high-tech industry--has lost its competitive edge and appeal, according to the "2010 Silicon Valley Index" (PDF) released Thursday by Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. As a result, the region has been less able to attract and retain talented workers, leaving it at a standstill with recovery uncertain.

"Silicon Valley'… Read more

One Block Off the Grid: Bulk solar, tell your friends

Corrections made at 8:20 a.m. PT to number of Twitter followers and number or regions it works in.

Just like you need an accountant to navigate the tax code, you need an agent to get a good deal on solar panels, according to One Block Off the Grid.

The San Francisco-based start-up on Thursday announced that it has secured a series A funding round of $5 million from New Enterprise Associations to expand its operations. It follows angel funding it raised a little over one year ago.

One Block Off the Grid seeks to make it cheaper and … Read more

Lithium batteries tapped for community storage

A smart-grid project in Ohio will test whether the electricity business will follow the history of computing, with storage moving from center to the edge of the network.

Start-up International Battery on Monday said that it has been chosen to supply lithium ion batteries for a community energy storage pilot project run by utility AEP set to go online by the middle of this year.

The storage units will be about the size of pad-mounted transformers, the roughly refrigerator-size boxes that step down high-voltage current from transmission lines for local service, said Ake Almgren, the CEO of International Battery.

The … Read more