AT&T Will Provide 3G For Sony’s $250/$300 Portable, ‘Vita’

/* Posted June 7th, 2011 at 2:50am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */


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Live coverage begins at 5 p.m. Pacific, 8 p.m. Eastern on Monday. Refresh page for latest additions.

LOS ANGELES — Want more power in your portable gaming? Sony will give it to you in the form of PlayStation Vita.

Sony unveiled the final name and pricing — but not a launch window — for its next-generation portable game system at its E3 2011 press conference on Monday evening. Officially called PlayStation Vita, the handheld will cost $300, or $250 for a version without 3G connectivity.

Sony announced — to audible groans from the packed stadium crowd — that it had chosen ATT as its exclusive service provider for the system’s 3G data plan. It did not say how much the service would cost.

The PlayStation maker spent a great deal of time showing games for Vita, announcing that a new BioShock and Street Fighter x Tekken would be released on the system, as well as previously announced games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss.

Sony briefly addressed its continued partial outage of PlayStation Network following a massive security breach in April. It made no further announcements about increased security, and simply apologized to consumers for the length of the outage. It said that the network was 90% online at this time.

Sony did not talk at all about any new home game machine, as expected. It instead used its conference to shore up more games for its PlayStation 3, announcing that the highly anticipated BioShock Infinite would feature support for its Move motion controller, as would many other games.

Wired.com’s live-blog coverage of the event follows:

4:52 p.m. — We’re in the venue. The Wi-Fi seems to be working not very well and this place is kind of a cellular dead zone, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed I’ll be able to live blog effectively throughout the whole show.

4:57 p.m. — I’m right that E3 has been pretty disappointing so far, right? Lots of deeper dives on games we already knew about, tons and tons of shooters, and no surprising big announcements. It would be great if Sony would come out and change all of that with some shocking PlayStation news. But no pressure or anything.

5:05 p.m. — This event is getting started on Sony time, which is somewhere between 10 and 30 minutes behind the rest of us.

5:10 p.m. — Oh, did I mention we all got pairs of 3-D glasses as we came into the venue? This is gonna be like watching one of them newfangled movies they have now.

5:12 — They want us to put the glasses on now. Show begins in two minutes, they say. “They” is the disembodied voice of a woman. Not GlaDOS.

5:15 — No, really, it’ll start at some point apparently. Like, any minute now. Yep. Aaaaany minute now.

5:16 — Hey, it started! My seat is rumbling because the sound is so loud. Oh, there’s a 3-D video of the PlayStation family of products. Sizzle reel of games kicks into high gear. Uncharted, God of War, Mortal Kombat, Green Lantern. Was that all NGP? They’re not saying specifically. No, here’s some NGP games: Little Big Planet, Hot Shots, Little Deviants, etc. PlayStation Move games. Looks like Sony’s doing a dance game. And Carnival Games. And now they’re showing Captain America, Sonic… tons and tons of quick snippets of games.

5:19 — Sizzle reel keeps game snippets coming. There was definitely an early-looking God of War game shoved in there — maybe NGP? It looked a little rough, unfinished from the two seconds of footage. But anyway, the video’s over now!

5:20 — “What a crowd,” says SCEA CEO Jack Tretton. Well, you did invite them. Lots and lots of applause at this show from the audience, more so than other conferences. Lots of Sony members and their partners in the house?

“To our esteemed members of the press, I say: You’re welcome,” says Tretton about the PlayStation Network outage, implying that journalists were happy to cover the bad news. Big laugh. Tretton addresses consumers: “I want to apologize both personally and on behalf of the company for any anxiety we have caused you.”

5:24 — “Virtually anything” Sony talks about today will be playable immediately following the conference, Tretton says, segueing straight from the apology about PlayStation Network directly into selling today’s games. “Recent studies show that PlayStation 3 is the leading device for streaming Netflix,” he says. Interesting. Announces partnership with CinemaNow content.

5:26 — To show us the latest stuff from Naughty Dog, here’s… Naughty Dog. They’re going to show us Uncharted 3.

5:28 — Uncharted 3 demo continues to play. Nathan Drake is being all stealthy and killing guys. Now he is being totally not stealthy but still killing guys.

5:31 — Okay, this is honestly impressive stuff. The (oil tanker?) that Drake is on tips over, flooding with water and sending him and several cars spilling into it, and he just keeps on going. The things that happen are very cinematic, surprising stuff. This is fun to watch.

5:33 — Multiplayer beta begins on June 28. Working with Subway restaurants — you’ll be able to go to Subway and get early access to the entire competitive part of the game before it hits stores in November. Now they want us to put on our glasses again and watch another movie of this game! It’ll be out November 1, 2011.

5:36 — “We are going to sell a few copies of that,” says Tretton. Now it’s time for Insomniac Games. They’ll be showing off Resistance 3, which as you may have heard is a shooter.

5:41 — Sony will be bundling Resistance 3 with the Sharpshooter and PlayStation Move (and a Navigation Controller and a PS Eye camera) for $150, in case you want to play it with the full motion control setup.

5:41 — God of War Origins Collection for PS3 is a remastered version of the PSP God of War games. Both this and the previously announced Ico/Shadow of the Colossus remaster edition for PS3 will be available in September. Well, that explains why that God of War footage they showed looked a little janky, anyway.

“We’re going to break the mold on pricing for 3-D this year,” Tretton says. Two new 3-D hardware products available in PlayStation family, he says. A PlayStation-branded 24? 3-D display — perfect for dorm rooms and bedrooms. Allows two people playing a game to see individual, unique full-screen images rather than a split screen image.

5:45 — The PlayStation monitor package, which includes the TV, a pair of glasses, HDMI cable and Resistance 3 will be available this fall for $500. Additional glasses will cost $70. Trying to drive 3-D adoption.

5:47 — 2K Sports is here to talk up NBA 2K11, which sold incredibly well last year, in great part because Electronic Arts screwed up their basketball game and had to cancel it. They’re showing how the new game will work with PlayStation Move motion control to quickly target a player and pass the ball to them.

5:49 — Kobe Bryant walks out to play the game. He wastes no time in referring to the PlayStation Move as “the remote,” and then as “the thing.” Branding!

5:55 — We’re watching a demo of Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest, a Move game in which you play as a skeleton who uses a sword and shield to play through a cute, haunted castle. Realistic sword-and-shield gameplay. Arrow-shooting, puzzles, etc. Looks pretty fun. Playable in Sony booth.

5:58 — Infamous 2 demo. This is a game that is coming out tomorrow, so it’s not like there’s anything major we don’t know about it yet. I personally am really looking forward to leaving Los Angeles and playing this.

6:00 — Oh, here’s the new bit of information then: Sony won’t be adding the much-touted user-generated levels to Infamous 2 until this fall. It is also adding Move support to LittleBigPlanet 2, as in you’ll be able to create levels that are played with Move. The next game comes from the Warhawk team — a run-and-gun third person shooter (!) called Starhawk.

6:03 — Oh heck, they’re doing another Sly Cooper. Nice. Animated intro movie is playing now. Called Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, available 2012.

6:05 — CCP, makers of Eve Online, doing Dust 514, a game exclusive to PlayStation 3 that will connect to the Eve Online PC MMO game. Will support the Move and “extend the experience to NGP,” they say.

6:07 — Dust 514 is — I know you will never believe this — a shooter.

6:10 — Ken Levine of Irrational Games joins us on stage to talk about BioShock Infinite. Ken said he expressed some “skepticism” about PlayStation Move and motion control in a recent interview. But Sony, he said, called him up and said that they wanted to “make him a believer” in motion control. Levine said Irrational didn’t do waggle. Sony responded by saying they want to “remove the barrier to entry” and get more casual players to play BioShock Infinite who don’t like to use a usual controller.

6:13 — We’re going to have PlayStation Move in BioShock Infinite, he says. He’s not going to talk specifically about that. But he is going to talk about how they’re making a game in the BioShock universe for the NGP! No, wait, he’s not, but he did say they were making one, and then left the stage. Wow. BioShock on NGP.

6:15 — The PS3 version of Infinite will include a free copy of the first BioShock on the same Blu-ray, Jack Tretton says. They’ll also do exclusive content for Saints Row 2. Paramount will be releasing a PlayStation Move-compatible Star Trek game, he says, as well as a PlayStation Move accessory in the shape of a Star Trek phaser. They’ll also be doing a downloadable prequel of sorts for the game, also Move compatible. Coming in 2012.

6:17 — Three exclusive offers from Electronic Arts on PlayStation 3. SSX will have a “death-defying race down Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji” only on PS3. Need For Speed: The Run will feature a special Blu-ray disc with 7 additional cars. Battlefield 3 will be bigger on PS3 too — EA is using the extra storage capacity of Blu-ray to add Battlefield 1943 on the disc. Sony’s all about getting publishers to put exclusive freebies on the PS3.

6:18 — Kazuo Hirai takes the stage to discuss the NGP. Here we go.

6:21 — Looks like Hirai will be talking about “networked entertainment” for portable devices. How do we deliver a PlayStation-level experience to a wider audience, he asks. Answer is PlayStation Suite. Android smartphones and tablets. More information on this in the “very near future.” It’s “only a matter of time,” Hirai says, until consumers who “get a taste” of PlayStation with Suite will buy a PlayStation 3.

6:23 — Okay, now he’s talking about the NGP. Running down the feature set.

6:25 — It’s official: This thing is actually called PlayStation Vita (pronounced “vee-ta”).

6:26 — ATT will be the exclusive 3G data provider for Vita, Hirai says. First actual boos of the conference. Of E3. Of any E3, possibly.

6:27 — Two different social network apps for Vita are called “Party” and “Near.” These are about your friends lists, what you’re doing online, etc. More info coming soon.

6:30 — They’re showing a demo of Uncharted: Golden Abyss. You can read our hands-on impressions of this elsewhere on the site.

6:32 — Just in case you guys don’t want touch controls cluttering up your Uncharted experience, you don’t ever have to use them. Just a PSA from your friendly local liveblogger.

6:35 — Ruin is an action RPG for the Vita. They’re showing how the combat works. It’s a standard top-down loot-oriented ARPG.

6:38 — I am going to blow your minds. You can save your game on the Vita via “cloud saving” and then pick it up again on the PlayStation 3. This is like Transfarring [sic], and yet somehow better because you can do it over the Internet. And on the Vita, which is something that Kojima was only dreaming about doing some time in the future. And yet… how could anything be better than Transfarring [sic]?

6:39 — Mod Nation Racers announced for Vita. You can draw on the touch panel and make a course just by dragging your finger around, then play it.

6:41 — I actually tried Mod Nation at Sony’s pre-E3 preview event. Impressions were embargoed until right now. Here are my impressions: The track editor didn’t work very well. When I dragged my finger around to make the track, it wasn’t very responsive at all. It was clearly very early. Hopefully the game shapes up a little better when it is released — it needs to be a lot more responsive to be fun to create.

6:42 — An extensive video of LittleBigPlanet on Vita.

6:48 — Capcom will now show us Street Fighter x Tekken on Vita, apparently. Yoshinori Ono from Capcom is here to talk about it. This is the first time I’ve actually heard somebody speaking Japanese this entire E3.

6:49 — Cole from Infamous will join the SF vs. Tekken party on Vita. We’re going to check out what he’s like in the game. You know, with his electricity powers, he actually fits in well. Who would win, Cole vs. Blanka?

6:54 — Oh hey, Sony dropped a press release 24 minutes ago (!) with the Vita’s price in it. $250 for no 3G, $300 for 3G. A bit lower than I predicted. I wonder how many people will go low-end, and what the data plans will cost.

6:56 — And they officially announce it. $250, 249 Euro, 24,980 yen. 3G model will be $300, 299 Euro, 29,980 yen.

6:57 — Jack Tretton back on stage. Surprise announcement, maybe? They’re showing a sizzle reel of stuff we’ve already seen… Huh. The conference is over, but the whole venue just seamlessly segued into a performance by MixMaster Mike. The arcade is open, and people are filtering down into the stage area to play the hands-on games. Sony said that “virtually everything” will be playable, so here’s hoping that means all the good stuff! Signing off for now.

A brief tour of iOS 5

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:50pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Web    */

Apple’s WWDC keynote is now behind us and if they’re not at E3, tech journalists around the blogsphere are taking a rest. We didn’t get a new
iPhone or any new hardware, but Apple rolled out the company’s new iCloud service, its Lion OS, and iOS 5, the latest version of its mobile operating system.

We’ve detailed the full list of changes in our iOS 5 first take–and frankly, they aren’t terribly extensive–but we also downloaded the developer’s version of the update for a test drive. Keep in mind that the final consumer version of iOS 5 may show changes when it becomes available this fall, but this gallery will give you at least a taste of what’s to come. We’ve only started investigated so we’ll add additional conversations and “Easter egg” features (Apple says the update will bring 200 new features) as we find them

iOS 5 hands on






New Barnes & Noble Nook Adds Touchscreen, Improves Interface

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:50pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under News    */

Nook Wi-Fi (2nd gen.)As soon as I removed the new Barnes Noble Nook from its box, I could tell that this petite e-reader was going to be a worthy challenger to the third-generation Amazon Kindle. Impressively, when I tested the Nook and its new touchscreen, I found that it does indeed out-Kindle the Kindle at its own game in some respects; but in others, the Nook falls shy of topping Amazon’s e-reading staple.

The new Nook ($139 as of 7/1/2011) has been completely redesigned, yet retains the same moniker as the original Nook, which is now referred to as Nook First Edition. That year-and-a-half-old Nook missed the mark with a clunky LCD screen for navigating the E-Ink display above it. This new Nook is lighter, more svelte, and introduces Neonode’s Zeforce infrared touch technology to simplify access and navigation, as well as a Wi-Fi connection.

An E-Reader for Reading

Where the Nook First Edition’s weight and size made it bulky, unwieldly, and generally unpleasant to use, the new Nook is the polar opposite: It weighs 0.47 pounds–35 percent lighter than the original Nook, and slightly lighter than the Kindle (0.60 pounds). It’s also more compact–6 percent thinner and more than an inch shorter the first Nook. It now measures 6.5 by 5.0 by 0.47 inches–notably smaller than its older sibling.

In hand, the difference between the two versions is palpable. The new Nook is clearly made for curling up with and holding in one hand for an hours-long dive into another universe; that’s exactly what I did with it on its maiden voyage. Its size and weight do make it easier to hold than the First Edition, and it’s even slightly easier to hold than the current Amazon Kindle, which integrates a physical keyboard and has no touchscreen display. It’s remarkably well-balanced to hold, be it in one hand or two; I found it quite comfortable to hold with my thumbs along the bottom bezel, and my index fingers and forefingers bracing the back.

The physical shape of Nook is pleasing in-hand, too: The e-reader’s front and back both have a textured rubber finish, much like you’ll find on a cell phone. The backplate cover dips in; those millimeters effectively give the Nook a built-in grip to make it even easier to hold. Nice touch.

Now that the Nook has a touchscreen, most navigation will be done on the display, not via the buttons. As on the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet, the main home button is a lowercase “n” beneath the screen. Here, the “n” starts the display’s wake-up process (as with cell phones, you also have to slide your finger along the screen to wake it fully), and returns you to the quick navigation buttons on-screen. These buttons are similar to the ones that were the central navigation mode on Nook First Edition, but they’ve been refreshed and updated to reflect the new Nook’s interface, and bring it in line with the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet. Gone are options like “the daily” and “reading now”–both of these options have been combined under the “home” screen, which shows what you’re reading now, what’s new in your library (be they new purchases or newly delivered subscriptions), and, at bottom, what to read next based on BN’s recommendation engine.

Design

The Nook has a power button on the back top that feels well-matched to a fingertip, but the button is surprisingly noisy, and borderline chintzy, when I pressed on it. This button doubles as another way to wake the e-reader, and can power down the unit entirely. Good thing you can, because this was the only way to fix a snafu I ran into with the on-board Shop: After some use, the Shop would no longer connect to the server, in spite of the Wi-Fi connection working fine. To rectify this, I had to power off the device and reboot it. BN is looking into the problem, but didn’t have an answer for me as to why it happened in the first place. Nook Wi-Fi (2nd gen.)

My biggest gripe with the Nook’s design happens to be with its physical navigation buttons. The easy-to-depress, outward-facing buttons on Nook First Edition have been replaced by cheap-feeling, raised rubber strips that run along the left and right bezel. The buttons are stiff and require a very precise and deep press to activate; and even though your finger can bleed a bit towards the edge of the e-reader and still manage to activate the button action, ultimately the experience is nothing like the buttons on Nook First Edition and on Kindle, which are both easier to depress and can work with your whole finger, not just your fingertip. If you’re wedded to the use of buttons for changing pages, I’d actually steer you away from this Nook–that’s how poorly implemented I consider these buttons. And that’s a disappointment, since the new Nook gets so much else right.

Now, if you’re comfortable with the idea of swipes and on-screen touches, then Nook is a great choice. The fully redesigned interface is finger-friendly, and makes it easy to navigate and perform operations with the touch of a finger. And I found the touchscreen highly responsive; the on-screen keyboard even kept up with my speedy touch-typing. (See “Remodeled Interface” below for more on the touchscreen navigation.)

The case is now charcoal gray, as opposed to white, a move that helps enhance readability. But that wasn’t the only step BN took to boost the readability of the display.

The significant remaining addition to the Nook is its new E-Ink Pearl display. E-Ink Pearl brings Nook up to speed with the other monochrome e-readers on the market today. The new Nook uses the same 6-inch, 800-by-600-pixel Pearl display that Amazon and Sony integrated in their e-readers last summer and fall, respectively, and the same display as in Kobo’s eReader Touch Edition. The Pearl display is known for providing better contrast than earlier-generation E-Ink displays, but oddly, in my hands-on tests with the three e-readers side-by-side, I observed different results.

I found that the new Nook’s display provided only nominally better contrast than the one on Nook First Edition, and that the Amazon Kindle actually has the best contrast of the three, with blacker blacks, and a brighter gray background than on the new Nook. I had the three e-readers set to similar text passages, with closely matching if not identical fonts (at the least, I observed behavior with all e-readers set to nonserif fonts, and to serif fonts). However, the Kindle and the new Nook flipped places on the home-screen display: There, the Nook looked better than the Kindle. I chalk this up to the vagaries of the different fonts and text sizes, and to the fact that these differences cause the blacks to appear different on the different devices. They’re close, but by no means identical, in spite of using the same display technology.

In truth, I found the Nook’s text not as crisp or dark as on Amazon’s Kindle. I liked it better than original Nook, but preferred the Kindle’s text presentation the best.

Where BN hits one out of the park: Its page refresh rates and speedy page turns. BN says that on text pages, it has reduced the flashing between page turns by up to 80 percent. It does so by doing a full refresh only every sixth page, a move that minimizes the annoying page-flashing effect long associated with E-Ink. BN does targeted refreshes on a page that has just graphics changing (for example, in the e-reader’s bookstore), and on areas that will have a heavy redraw. Page turn speed is up, too: If you hold and press the page forward and back buttons to scan by page, the pages will blow by with an impressive speed not seen before on an E-Ink e-reader.

Remodeled Interface

Though touch makes the Nook easy to navigate, occasionally where you can swipe and where you can’t isn’t always clear. For example, you can swipe through some modules in the bookstore, down on some pages, but not on others. For the most part, this is stuff you’ll learn through trial and error.

You can turn pages by tapping on either the left or right side of the screen; or you can swipe left to right (and, on some screens, even vertically) to change pages, too. While reading, tap at the top of the screen to reveal a status bar–the bar will show battery status, a clock, and a tap-to-add bookmark; it will also reveal the same book navigation buttons you’d get if you tap in the center of the page. The buttons jump you to the table of contents, let you search for a word or passage within a book, go to a specific page within a book using a slider (and kudos to BN for including here just how many pages are left in the chapter), or adjust text options (choose from six not-so-different fonts and seven very different font sizes). The “more” option was confusing, though: I’m already in the book, and reading it, so why would I want to go to the book’s profile from the Shop, showing editorial content, reviews, and related titles? I get the share and LendMe options as being appropriate while reading, but the rest of this menu option left me puzzled.

Similarly, I found it annoying that in the interface, I’d often have to move my hand all the way up to the top to find the X to close out of a page. Practically all other on-screen navigation is in the lower half of the screen, which made that finger travel feel inefficient.

Beyond that one interface annoyance, though, I was largely impressed by the BN’s otherwise clean, logical software design. BN clearly gave some thought to the layout, and to how things operate. The interface is good, at times even great–but not perfect.

An example is how BN has implemented its notes and highlights features. Really, these are the most usable examples of such features that I’ve seen on an e-reader to date. Tap and hold your finger on a word to select it; then you can either drag the pins to select a passage, or choose an action such as adding a note or looking up the word in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. Unfortunately, I had trouble grabbing quotation marks to complete a passage; also, right now you can’t view all notes, highlights, or a combination of the two. Instead, you just see a teaser of the passage under a tab for Notes and Highlights in the table of contents. BN says it expects to offer some way to view and share notes and highlights when it launches the My Nook portal, but that portal isn’t ready yet.

Nook Wi-Fi (2nd gen.)For now, you can view and share highlighted quotes with Gmail contacts, via Facebook or Twitter. You can also share information about books you’re reading, to make a recommendation, post your reading status, rate and review a book, or like it on Facebook. Nook has the same Nook Friends capabilities as on Nook Color; this social platform moves reading away from being a solitary exercise, but it does so in a less intrusive, less all-about-me way than on competitor Kobo’s social platform. And it makes these functions far easier than on Amazon’s Kindle.

Other Features

The bookstore portal has also been redesigned, and its new interface, coupled with the touchscreen, does make shopping far simpler than before. The Nook has 2GB of built-in storage, and a microSDHC card slot hidden beneath a secure flap door on the side for additional storage. In addition to sideloading ePub and PDF files, Nook reads JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP image files. Unlike many other e-readers, Nook reflows the PDF text, which makes it great for reading text, but a mixed bag if you’re trying to read a document that’s heavy on its particular layout.

The e-reader runs Android 2.1, which makes changes and tweaks via firmware update viable. Sadly, as of now BN says it has no plans for opening up its E-Ink Nook to apps. The device also has no Web browser, and no on-board e-mail, disappointing omissions given how central these can be to reading.

Setting up the 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi was easy, and the device automatically searches for and reconnects to your last network, even when booting up after a complete shutdown. Users get free Wi-Fi access at ATT hotspots nationwide.

Battery life should be up notably: Barnes Noble says that the Nook can last up to 2 months on a single charge, with the Wi-Fi turned off. We’ll have to check in later with an update on how its battery life does in the real world.

At $139, the new Nook is competitively priced with Amazon’s Kindle. It also replaces current Wi-Fi-only and 3G Nook models, and will co-exist going forward with the Nook Color/Reader’s Tablet.

I can’t say that the Nook is the absolute best e-reader available today, but it comes close. Nook gets marked down for its terrible button design and inconsistent contrast; and yet, it wins favor for its interface and touch navigation. Those factors, coupled with its light weight and long battery life rating, make Nook a solid choice, as long as you plan to use the touchscreen and not the buttons to page through your books.

How to Use Twitter in Online Marketing

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:50pm [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under SEO    */

Social networking is a huge part of online marketing today, with Facebook being the leader and Twitter being the newest addition to the world of social communication that also has online marketing advantages. Both Facebook and Twitter have gained popularity due to their unique features that allow people to provide constant updates to their friends and followers regarding their personal life and business projects.

This not only makes them useful ways of staying in contact with friends and family, but extremely compelling online marketing tools for business owners, particularly small business owners who are now making Twitter an essential element of their online marketing plans.

Online stores and other companies whose profits are based on products and services in particular have a lot to gain from Twitter’s huge network of potential customers – so long as they use the powerful social networking site in the right way. Here are four tips to help you turn Twitter into a top online marketing tool for your business:

1. Pick the right username: One of the first and most important steps in making Twitter work for you as an online marketing technique is to select the correct Twitter username to begin with. Your Twitter username is a significant feature of your account and must be related to the business or product that your account will be promoting.

There are several ways to approach this. If you are a sole trader, your own name may be the most appropriate choice for your Twitter username, with your products and services falling under the umbrella of your name as a recognisable brand.

The second most popular approach to twitter usernames in online marketing is to establish a different account for each specific product with a username that identifies the product. For example, if one of your products was a floor polisher, you would establish a Twitter account for that with a related username, and then another for your second product, that may be a vacuum.

2. Create an identity: Once you have chosen an appropriate username, your second step in using Twitter effectively for online marketing is to create an identity for your Twitter account, or multiple Twitter accounts, depending on which approach you have taken.

Because Twitter updates, or “tweets” as they are termed, are text-based, you will need to concentrate on evoking a unique and authentic voice for your product or brand. Twitter also allows for the customisation of profiles to add personality to your page. Customisations can include additional information regarding your business, unique backgrounds, or including your corporate logo and statistics that you may wish to share with the world.

3. Gather a following: Although Twitter is a very popular site for social networking, with hundreds of millions of members contacting and communicating with friends and family in a simple and quick manner, your business profile won’t necessarily have the same luck – immediately.

For your Twitter account to be a valuable online marketing tool, you will need to have a lot of followers, which is something that simply having an account does not in any way guarantee. To gather followers and get your online marketing strategy rolling, begin by responding to other Twitter members’ Tweets on topics related to your business and make a knowledgeable contribution to the discussion. In this way, you will attract a group of interested and relevant followers that are within the appropriate demographic for your company.

4. Take the time to learn: Once you get started, using Twitter as an online marketing tool will seem like a simple and effective approach, but in order to keep up with the pack, you’ll need to constantly revise your tactics and develop new methods of attracting and maintaining a following.

To make sure that your Twitter profile is an effective part of your online marketing campaign, you will need to constantly stay ahead of your competition by observing the profiles of competitors and others in your industry to understand how they operate their Twitter pages and build up their following. By taking the time to observe and learn from other Twitter profiles, you will be able to pick up tips and learn strategies to forge a plan for how your own business will dominate the Twitter-sphere!

John has been working as freelance writer for a Melbourne Web Design Company popularly known as Infinite IT Solutions that has been serving web designing, web development and online marketing services to its clients in Melbourne and Sydney for 10 years now.

Windows 8 premiere raises more questions than answers

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:50am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Web    */

The successor to
Windows 7 debuted today at the D9 conference, and so far it appears to be
Windows Phone 7‘s interface and tile-style of app management bolted on top of Windows 7.

Code-named “Windows 8″ by Microsoft, the next-generation operating system is notable for two features: it’s the first major attempt by the operating system giants to elevate a mobile OS to desktop status, and it’s expected to be touch-friendly and work seamlessly on
tablets, desktops, and laptops.

Like Windows Phone, Windows 8 on tablets (and every other platform for that matter) has a screen of “Live Tiles” that provide rich data and launch deeper apps. Users can slide the tiles around on the screen.

(Credit:
Rafe Needleman/CNET)

This Windows 8 preview video from Jensen Harris, director of program management for Windows, certainly looks impressive. The “app tiles” concept from Windows Phone 7 has been blown up, expanded to suit a larger, horizontal screen. In many ways, this makes sense. Having a persistent, real-time weather or traffic feature on your desktop is something that you can now achieve with a multitude of programs and widgets, but making them look and feel like mobile apps better positions Windows to reach younger consumers whose first computing experience is likely to be a high-powered tablet or phone, not a 186 running DOS.

Windows 8 also appears to meld Windows 7′s file-sharing tools to the friendlier, touch-tacular mobile interface. You can easily tap locally stored and networked photos to select them, adding them to your albums, the implication being that this would work for documents, videos, and music. Perhaps the world is, in fact, ready for a dual-input computer, one that you can use a keyboard and mouse with as naturally as you can tap, swipe, and pinch its screen. This is definitely one aspect of Windows 8 that must be watched.

Most importantly for legacy Windows users, including all of us on Windows 7, getting to the Windows 7-based view is simple. All you’ll have to do is swipe up from the bottom of the screen, although it’s not really clear how well this would work with a mouse. Windows 7 programs are expected to work on this new version, said Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows, although this doesn’t jibe with what we heard at Mix 2011 about Internet Explorer 10. The next version of IE, at least as of April, was not expected to work on pre-Windows 8 computers. What’s more logical to conclude, although not guaranteed, of course, is that the Windows 8-specific features of Internet Explorer 10 won’t function in Windows 7 or older, although the more traditional aspects of the browser will.

Another important nod to current users is that legacy Windows 7 hardware is expected to support Windows 8–again, at least so far. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Microsoft could pull an Apple here and force people who want to upgrade to buy newer hardware.

So, we’ve got probable legacy hardware support, potentially easy access to the traditional interface, what appears to be some smart sharing features, and a nifty split keyboard for mobile usability. We also know that there are questions surrounding programs, how many major core Windows legacy programs will be supported, and how the traditional Windows 7 programs that do work on Windows 8 will function under the greasy touch of a finger when they currently require the precise control of a mouse.

Screenshot of Windows 8

Screenshot of Windows 8

(Credit:
via AllThingsD)

That leaves us with the two biggest questions, ones that will only get answered once consumers get their hands on whatever Windows 8 winds up getting called. The first is, do people really want a dual-operating system setup? BlueStacks seems to think so, offering an intriguing marriage of Windows 7 and Android, but that hasn’t hit the public yet. Although Microsoft says that the integration between the HTML5 and JavaScript-powered Windows Phone 7 side and the traditional Windows 7 side is tighter than many would expect, that doesn’t mean that a double-dose of Windows is the upgrade people want.

Riding the tail of that question, we’re also left wondering whether Windows Phone 7 has had the kind of consumer impact that warrants this elevation. According to Neilsen market research, Windows Phone 7 commands only 1 percent of the U.S. smartphone marketshare, and as CNET’s Donald Bell noted during CNET’s Live Blog of the Windows 8 reveal at D9 (read the transcript here), the WP7 interface is the successor to the discontinued ZuneHD.

There’s too many reasons that this isn’t “Vista II: Electric Boogaloo.” Windows 7, and this successor, are both Microsoft’s first hardware-downgrade compatible operating systems in more than a decade. That means that the new operating system will run on less than cutting-edge hardware. Windows 7 is also a proven, successful base to bolt a more touch-friendly interface to, a critically acclaimed one that users have demonstrated they want by the still-increasing Windows 7 adoption rates in the marketplace, more than a year and a half after its release.

Were Apple to do this–bolting the popular and intuitive iOS on top of OS X with a smooth way to transition between the two–there would be far fewer uncertainties. Still, hedging bets on a look and feel that has not set the world on fire is a gutsy move, and congratulations are due to Microsoft for being the first to attempt it.

Explorer Replacement Directory Opus 10 Improves on a Great Thing

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:50am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under News    */

Directory Opus has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most powerful Windows file managers, and version 10.0 keeps its old functionality while piling on even more. It’s unlikely any user will need every function, tool, option, and setting available–but if you do need something, it’s probably there. Directory Opus comes in a 32-bit and a 64-bit edition ($85 AUD, 60-day free trial)

Directory Opus screenshotFile explorer Directory Opus give you multiple windows, multiple tabs, and endless options.First, the basics: Directory Opus displays your files in “Listers”, which most of us would just call “windows”. Each lister can be configured in a variety of ways–single or dual display, file viewer or no, folder tree or no–and these settings can be altered at will. You can save favored combinations of settings and instantly set a lister to that format or style. You can have as many listers open at one time as you wish (within reason; if you try to open thousands, you’ll probably hit memory limits), but my experience has been that I rarely need more than one or two, because each lister supports multiple tabs. My default lister with Directory Opus has two displays, two folder trees, and multiple tabs in each display. You can sort listings on more than one column (by modified date and then by name, for example), and version 10 adds in grouping–you can group files by any column, in addition to sorting (Sorting takes place within groups). Groups can be collapsed, making it easy to navigate large directories.

New in this version of Directory Opus is the metadata panel. Many file types, such as WMV, contain extensive properties which can record genre, artist, year of production, and so on. This information is often not displayed or is difficult to find and edit. Directory Opus allows you to easily view and change metadata, including standard Windows file properties, such as if the file is compressed or the creation and modification dates.

Also new is expanded support for file compression formats. Directory Opus 9 had built-in ZIP support; Directory Opus 10 extends this to RAR, 7ZIP, and several other formats, easily accessed from a right-click menu option (or a toolbar menu, or the menu bar). This feature provides several options for file extraction (such as selecting a group of archive files and extracting them each to a new folder) and compression.

The only real drawback to Directory Opus is that there is a lot of it, and there’s usually more than one way to do something. Getting full value out of the program, as compared to just using Windows File Explorer, requires some effort on the part of the user, both to learn the functions and configure them. Tab Sets, for example, allow you to save and restore groups of tabs, but finding this feature takes a little digging, as does specifying the tabs you wish to use. After using Directory Opus for over a year, I still haven’t dived into the command line functionality, which is extensive.

Directory Opus is not cheap at 85 Australian dollars, but it’s not overpriced, given the range of functionality–if you take advantage of it. The sixty-day trial is more than adequate to test the full range of options, tools, and features. I strongly recommend downloading it.

GameStop: Modern Warfare 3 pre-orders outpacing Black Ops’

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:50am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

 

mw3-logo

 

the past few years, the newest Call of Duty installment has consistently been selling more than the one that immediately preceded it. It seems that same thing will be happening when Modern Warfare 3 rolls out this November.

 

Retail giant GameStop has announced that the Modern Warfare 3‘s pre-order numbers are already eclipsing those set by Black Ops. The latter previously set a new pre-order record, beating out its predecessor, Modern Warfare 2

 

“Last year, Call of Duty: Black Ops became the most pre-ordered title in our history,” said McKenzie in a press release, although actual numbers were not specified. “Already, this year, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is significantly ahead of that pace. Our customers’ response to the reveal of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has been amazing.”

 

McKenzie also laid some praise on Activision’s Call of Duty Elite service, characterizing it as “a win for gamers with new services like social networking components and access to great DLC, but without changing key game functionality like multiplayer access.” The premium Call of Duty Elite service will officially go live alongside Modern Warfare 3‘s launch.

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Download DAZ Studio 4 Free Reg Serial Code

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 8:50am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under Gadgets    */

Delicious Delicious

DAZ Studio 4 (the newest version to date), from DAZ 3D, is a powerful, comprehensive 3D figure creation, posing, art and animation tool, which is designed to allow hobbyists and beginners who’re new to 3D art and animation as well as professionals to easily create their unique stunning artwork and animation by utilizing virtual people, pets, vehicles, accessories, environments, props and so forth. For folks who like to enjoy optimal freedom in the diversity of 3D figures creation without sacrificing the integrity of the character itself, the latest DAZ Studio also introduces an interesting new Genesis figure platform that offers a virtually limitless set of additional figure shape variations that can be built from a common base.



Main features of DAZ Studio 4:

  • TriAx Weight-Map System utilizes hand-painted weight-maps per-axis joint to manage the bending of a character
  • Auto-Rigging to automatically rig a custom figures
  • Optional Auto-Fit Plug-in lets users up-convert their existing clothing and hairstyling from the prior generation of characters for use with the new Genesis series
  • Smart Content tells the 3D character creation tool what type of asset it is, and what other assets are compatible with it
  • Content Management Service (CMS) to easily find 3D models and accessories thanks top the simple meta-data structure
  • Redefined user-friendly interface adds an in-app video tutorials to help beginners understanding the new UI and features

DAZ Studio 4 normally costs $49.95 for purchase. As part of DAZ 3D promotion offer, interested users are now entitled to download the full version of DAZ Studio 4 at no cost. This time-limited promotion will be expired on 31 July, 2011.

To grab a free copy of DAZ Studio 4, follow these steps:

  1. Create a DAZ 3D account from here, and an email which contains an activation link will be delivered to your registered email address shortly.

  2. Click the link to activate your new DAZ 3D account.
  3. Once your account is activated, visit DAZ 3D promotion page at http://www.daz3d.com/i/3d-models/-/daz-studio-4?item=12194_m=d.

  4. Click “add to cart” button followed by “Subscribe me” button, and log into your account using the email address and password that you submitted in step 1.

  5. Press “checkout” button to continue.

  6. Press “Place Order” button and an email which contains an account page link and free license serial code of the animation creation software will hit your email inbox.
  7. Log into the account page and download your desired setup installer of DAZ Studio 4 from “Available Downloads” category.
    Note: Mac and PC versions are available
  8. Input the received license serial key to activate the app to a full version.

DAZ Studio 4 supports Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP and Intel-based Mac OS X 10.5 or newer platforms.

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MP3PlayerPlugin v1.9 fix – An Update for the music plugin

/* Posted June 6th, 2011 at 2:50am [Comments: none]    */
/* Filed under PSP    */

 

MP3PlayerPlugin v1.9 is released. MP3PlayerPlugin is a plugin for PSP. It’s a nifty app that allows you to listen to your favorite tracks while on game mode. The plugin is compatible with CFW 5.00 M33, 5.03HEN, 5.50GEN, 6.20TN and 6.35 PRO.

MP3PlayerPlugin v1.9 Changlog:
- Improved SYSCALL
- Supported the channel MUTE
- Changed access to kernel memory of the MP3 in order to ensure the list of file paths.

Controls:

L + R + START = on / off Hold
L + R + [] = Play / Pause
L + R + O = switch to playback mode
L + R + ? = next song
L + R + ? = previous song
L + R + up / down = volume control

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Is Dust 514 a PS3 exclusive?

/* Posted June 5th, 2011 at 2:50pm [Comments: 1]    */
/* Filed under Video Games    */

 

When Dust 514 was originally announced a couple of years ago, developer CCP didn’t mention any specific target platforms other than saying it was going to be a console shooter. CCP now appears to be gearing up to a full reveal of the game, as evidenced by a countdown site, and one fan seems to have unearthed a few details regarding its console destination.

 

Gaming news blog Kotaku reports that among the interesting tidbits uncovered by the fan was a bunch of screenshots. All seven can be seen at the source link, and it’s worth noting that all of them have the PlayStation 3 logo as seen below.

 

dust514

 

Once the countdown clock ends there will be a live stream of the Dust 514 announcement. The intrepid fan also found an XML file that redirects visitors to the PlayStation blog to replace the countdown clock. In addition, the countdown will end on Monday at 5PM Pacific, which just so happens to be the start of Sony’s E3 2011 press conferece.

 

Via [Kotaku]

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