How I got my third iPhone: dropping it on its power switch hits a sweet spot

There comes a point where every early adopter realizes they are no longer really adopting anything unique any more. This happens when a product becomes saturated, more available and more universal. For me, as I've seen over the past few days, that point has come to pass - at least in San Francisco.

Walking around, eating out, and driving around San Francisco, all I see are iPhones. But it's not only the young yupppie/guppie types any more. Rather, there are kids, young professionals, middle-aged folks (not so many older folks though), men, women, white, Black, Latino, Asian, … Read more

Why didn't AOL open-source its IM client?

AOL is getting a lot of credit for "opening" its ubiquitous AIM instant-messaging software "to open source." However, like Microsoft did recently by revealing documentation to its APIs and protocols, all AOL has done here is open access to OSCAR protocols necessary to create open-source implementations.

This is great, but consider just how much more AOL could have done--and for its benefit--such as open-sourcing its instant-messaging server and client software.

Think about it. What revenue does AOL protect by keeping its IM software closed? Sure, there's advertising revenue from the obnoxious ads it sprays around the client, but that is thinking far too small.

The real money is in abundance. Or in "adoption-led markets," to borrow Sun Microsystems' nomenclature.… Read more

Twing lets you search forum and online communities

Twing is launching a new site on Tuesday where you can find out what people have written about specific topics in forums and other online communities.

The site shows search results for keywords in individual posts, topics, and whole forums and allows a lot of fine tuning for results. You can choose to include or exclude specific terms and filter so you only see items in a certain time frame, items from certain sources, or those that mention specific people or companies.

Twing searches the Web for sites and allows forum owners to submit their sites to the directory. It … Read more

Dell to acquire enterprise e-mail service MessageOne

Updated at 5:55 AM PT to include comments from Dell.

Dell is expanding its horizons a bit further.

The PC maker plans to acquire enterprise e-mail service MessageOne for $155 million in cash, the company said early Tuesday.

Though Dell has made very few acquisitions over its two decades in business, this one isn't that much of a stretch: Austin, Texas-based MessageOne, which manages the process of archiving, e-discovery, and long-term storage of e-mail, was founded by Adam Dell, the brother of the PC maker's CEO, Michael Dell.

To ensure fairness, the company says founder and chairman … Read more

Digsby links all IMs with e-mail, Facebook, MySpace

If you're the type of person who communicates with friends, co-workers, relatives, and such via several different IM services, e-mail, and Facebook--and you know you are--software could soon offer you one of the cleanest ways ever to link them all together.

The software, called Digsby, went into private beta Tuesday, and its goal is to give people a way to organize their contacts from Yahoo Messenger, AOL IM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber, and Windows Live Messenger, as well as e-mail, Facebook, and into a single client.

According to Jeff Hester, who runs instant message community site BigBlueBall.… Read more

ChaCha: More a fact finder than a Magic 8-ball

When I learned that a company called ChaCha had partnered with the Sundance Film Festival to answer festivalgoer questions via text messaging, I was a little skeptical. I wondered, what makes ChaCha the expert on all things Sundance, and who's going to text in questions when there are festival volunteers, smartphones, laptops, and wireless everywhere?

That was before, however, I found myself stuck in a traffic jam on a crowded shuttle bus, sans laptop and in dire need of a piece of scheduling information. What time was the U2 3D screening and where? That would tell me whether I … Read more

Pingie turns your favorite feeds into SMS alerts

A lot of folks have discovered the wonders of going over their monthly SMS allotments because of the alert systems built into popular Web apps like Twitter. But what about getting SMS alerts for other sites, too? A service called Pingie is doing just that, letting you plug in whatever RSS feeds you'd like to keep an eye on (like ours), and sending you a portion of the latest post as an SMS message. The service notes its usefulness for sites like Slickdeals and Woot (two of my personal favorites) as well as news sites for getting the most … Read more

Microsoft tries to close off the web, one MSN contact at a time

You've got to hand it to Microsoft. The company knows how to go against the grain. Just at the moment that the rest of the planet has discovered that there is huge value in opening up, Microsoft has been stalking the web, demanding payment from startups that want to allow users to import their MSN contact lists to other web services, as Fortune notes.

Here's the "deal":

If the company wants to offer other IM services (from Yahoo, Google or AOL, say), Messenger must get top billing. And if the startup wants to offer any other IM service, it must pay Microsoft 25 cents a user per year for a site license.

However, if a company wants to force its users to abandon 73% of their friends (assuming it's roughly a three-way race between AIM (53 million active users), MSN (27 million active users), and Yahoo! (22 million active users), then they can use MSN for free! Wow! Dave Rosenberg calls this "bizarre and stupid." I think he's being overly generous.… Read more

Modern vacation: Fully wired, totally ruined

Weekend getaways and romantic dinners used to be sweet escapes from the daily grind. Nowadays, R&R is often interrupted by a buzzing Blackberry or the ding of an instant message on the wireless laptop.

Yes, staying connected is simple for employees. So is getting burned out.

Read the full story on LiveScience: "The modern vacation: Fully wired, totally ruined"

Weeding out toxic toys

2007 has been the year of toy insecurity. Few parents of young kids escaped the unpleasant task of removing a favorite toy--from Aqua Dots to Thomas the Tank Engine--that had been recalled.

And all parents were left with a feeling of unease, that globalization and lax US consumer standards have left us vulnerable to toxic chemicals being routinely used to make our toys (and cosmetics, food, electronics...but that's a larger topic for another day).

I predict that the big story next year will be the growing realization that European and Japanese standards for chemicals used in plastic toys are much more stringent than those in the USA, and that as a result, toys that are banned elsewhere are getting dumped into the US market.

But right now, Christmas is rapidly approaching, and families are busily shopping for gifts, and will unwrap gifts given by others over the next week. What's a parent to do? The Web site gives parents way to weed out toxic toys, by searching the HealthyToys database that provides a detailed breakdown of the substances found in over 1,200 toys they tested for lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, and PVC plastic. The results are alarming: of the 10 toys with the most lead, two of them are tea sets, with cups and teapots that are inevitably going to be filled with water that little kids will drink. Some plastic bath toys test high for lead and Chlorine/PVC, and these toys tend to go into toddlers' mouths as well.… Read more