quinta-feira, 30 de junho de 2011

Google+ code reveals intent to unleash Games and Questions to the social world

Google+ code reveals intent to unleash Games and Questions to the social world: "

Having a difficult time getting your honeydew list checked off because you're trying to level up in Mafia Wars? You may want to just chuck the whole sheet of paper in the trash. Buried deep in Google Plus' source code are a few curious references to at least two new services that may very well be destined for the invite-only social networking suite. The first is Google Games, the tech giant's first venture into the world of social gaming. While this isn't a big stunner -- recent job postings insinuated that this feature would come around sooner or later -- it makes perfect sense for it to be included as part of the Google+ experience to help strengthen Mountain View's bid against the likes of Facebook.

Also on the company's white board is Questions, a likely love child of Google's $50 million acquisition of Aardvark. When the source code offers up hints like 'you might try rephrasing or tagging your question to make it easier for someone to answer,' along with the utterance of sharing questions with others and commenting on answers, nothing could be more indicative of a social service. There still isn't a strong indication that we'll see these two features pop up anytime soon, but the hamster wheels are definitely turning right now, and we're piecing the clues together. At the rate things are going, these services may easily be ready before we all get invites.

[Thanks, Ian]

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Google+ code reveals intent to unleash Games and Questions to the social world originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 30 Jun 2011 14:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Google Books Downloader Downloads Google Books to PDF and JPG

Google Books Downloader Downloads Google Books to PDF and JPG: "

If you’re looking for a way to download and format shift books and magazines found in Google Books, Google Books Downloader can help.

Google Books Downloader takes what you can see in Google Books and downloads it either as a PDF file or as a series of JPGs. The key to using Google Books Downloader successfully is to understand that it can only download what you can see sitting at your computer. It isn’t tapping into some secret back-end resource at Google to siphon books down; it is simply converting the pages you see that are “stuck” in Google Books into a format you can use elsewhere.

As such you can download the entire book if it is marked “Full Preview”, part of the book if it is marked “Preview” (useful if you’re trying to save pages for a research project and don’t need the whole book), and none of the book if it is only “Snippet View”. The process works on anything you can find in Google Books including magazines.

Google Books Downloader is free, Windows only.

Google Books Downloader [via Addictive Tips]

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quarta-feira, 29 de junho de 2011

Google+ App Available for Android

Google+ App Available for Android: "

If you haven’t heard yet, Google+ is Google’s shiny new full blown take on social networking. If you have been so lucky as to be part of the initial field test, there is an official Android app now available on the market. For the rest of us, we can take a quick peek at what the app will offer once the service has rolled out for public consumption, whenever that may be.

Google+ is obviously a bit of a big deal. Of course what social networking service would be complete without a mobile app or two. Google+ will be bringing several of the key features to your Android phone in a neat, pretty package to help you get hooked on the new service. The main features are your Stream, Circles, Huddles, and Instant Upload.

One of the big differentiating points for Google+ is that it will let you divide your friends into “Circles,” something any high schooler who is friends with their grandma will tell you is a great idea. The Circles feature of the app lets you share statuses, pictures, etc. with your particular groups of friends. Likewise, you’ll be able to view all of your friends, from any Circle’s updates in the Stream.

Huddle, pictured below, is for group chats, and if the Market’s description is to be trusted, its fast. This is probably what I’m most excited about for Google+ in general. Huddles will be part of the Google+ app, but a seperate Huddle+ app is installed with it. Texting multiple people on Android, or any smartphone isn’t very clean and this looks like it just might be. We’ll have to see if it can live up to my expectations whenever Google decides to let me into the party.

The last major feature is Instant Upload. This will let you upload any pictures and videos you take on your phone automatically to the Google+. The app has permissions to Picasa albums, so it may just be storing them there, but you will be able to view and share them from Google+ as well as the app.

If this app doesn’t have you convinced yet, Google’s serious about this one. What do you think? Are you ready to replace your Facebook app with a Google+ app? Or do you need to give it a try first? Either way you can bet if Android continues to be a big part of it we’re excited to see how things shape up!

[via Android Market]



terça-feira, 28 de junho de 2011

Google Launches Google+ To Battle Facebook [PICS]

Google Launches Google+ To Battle Facebook [PICS]: "

Google has finally unveiled Google+, the company’s top secret social layer that turns all of the search engine into one giant social network.

Google+, which begins rolling out a very limited field test on Tuesday, is the culmination of a year-long project led by Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of social. The project, which has been delayed several times, constitutes Google’s answer to Facebook.

The search giant’s new social project will be omnipresent on its products, thanks to a complete redesign of the navigation bar. The familiar gray strip at the top of every Google page will turn black, and come with several new options for accessing your Google+ profile, viewing notifications and instantly sharing content. The notification system is similar to how Facebook handles notifications, complete with a red number that increases with each additional notice.

SEE ALSO: VIDEOS | REVIEW | POLL: What do you think of Google+?

At its core, Google+ is a social network. The first thing users are introduced to is the Stream. It’s much like the Facebook News Feed, allowing users to share photos, videos, links or their location with friends.

Screenshots: What Google+ Looks Like

Google+ Logo

This is the Google+ logo.

Google+ Icons

The Google+ icons. Starting top left and circling to the right: Circles, Hangouts, Home, Sparks, Profile, Photos.

New Google+ Navigation Bar

All Google sites will sport the new Google+ navigation bar. It includes notifications, profile information and content sharing options.

Google+ Stream

This is the Google+ Stream, where users share content and see what their friends are sharing. It is similar to the Facebook News Feed.

Google+ Circles

Google+ Circles is Google's version of the Facebook friend list or the Twitter List. Users can select multiple friends and drag-and-drop them into groups. This makes it easier to send stuff to friends, family or the entire world.

Google+ Circles Editor

This is the Google+ Circles editor in action. Google has created unique animations for adding and removing friends through HTML5.

Google+ Sparks

Google+ Sparks is Google's content recommendation and discovery engine. Users can search different topics and find relevant articles, videos and photos. Users can then share that content with their friends.


That’s where Google+ begins to diverge from Facebook, though. The focus of this social project is not on sharing with a mass group of friends, but on targeted sharing with your various social groups. To do this, Google uses a system called Circles.

Gundotra explained that most social media services (read: Facebook, Twitter) haven’t been successful with friend lists because they’ve been designed as a “tack-on” product rather than being integrated at every level. Gundotra also believes that current friend list products are awkward and not rewarding to use.

Google+ Circles is an attempt to address that challenge. The HTML5 system allows users to drag-and-drop their friends into different social circles for friends, family, classmates, co-workers and other custom groups. Users can drag groups of friends in and out of these circles.

One of the nice things about the product is its whimsical nature — a puff of smoke and a -1 animation appears when you remove a friend, and when you remove a social circle, it rolls away off the screen.

Photos & Group Video Chat

It’s clear from the extended demo that Gundotra and his team have thought about every aspect and detail of Google+ thoroughly. The photo, video and mobile experiences are no exception.

Google has created a section specifically for viewing, managing and editing multimedia. The photo tab takes a user to all of the photos he or she has shared, as well as the ones he or she is tagged in. It’s not just photo tagging, though: Google+ includes an image editor (complete with Instagram-like photo effects), privacy options and sharing features.

The video chat feature might be one of the most interesting aspects of Google+. Gundotra and his team thought about why group chat hasn’t become a mainstream phenomenon. He compared it to knocking on a neighbor’s door at 8 p.m. — most people don’t do it because it isn’t a social norm. However, if a group of friends are sitting on a porch and you just happen to walk by, it’s almost rude not to say hi.

That’s the concept behind “Hangouts,” Google’s new group chat feature. Instead of directly asking a friend to join a group chat, users instead click “start a hangout” and they’re instantly in a video chatroom alone. At the same time, a message goes out to their social circles, letting them know that their friend is “hanging out.” The result, Google has found in internal testing, is that friends quickly join.

One cool feature of Hangouts is that it doesn’t place a chat window on the screen for each participant. Instead, Google changes the chat screen to whoever is currently talking. It quickly switches from video feed to video feed, moving faster in bigger groups. The maximum members in any video Hangout is 10, though users can get on a waitlist and wait for someone to leave.

Content Discovery Through Sparks

To spur sharing, Google has added a recommendation engine for finding interesting content. The feature, Google+ Sparks, is a collection of articles, videos, photos and other content grouped by interest. For example, the “Movies” spark will have a listing of recent and relevant content for that topic.

The system is algorithmic — it relies on information from other Google products (e.g. Google Search) as well as what is being shared via Google+ and through +1 buttons.

The goal, according to Gundotra, is to make it dead-simple for users to explore their interests and share what they find with their friends. Google+ is attempting to become the one-stop shop not only for sharing content, but for finding it as well. In some ways, it reminds us of Twitter and its mission to become an information network, and “instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.”


Google will also be launching mobile apps for Google+, starting with Android. The Android app includes access to the Stream, Circles, Sparks and multimedia.

The addition of these features in a mobile app isn’t a surprise. What is a surprise, though, is the app’s auto-upload feature. Any photo or video you take on your phone through Google+ will automatically be uploaded to your computer, ready to share. These uploads aren’t public, but the next time you log onto your desktop, the photos button in the status bar will have a number, indicating how many new uploads are available for sharing. It keeps these photos and videos available for sharing for eight hours after upload.

Gundotra says that Google intends to launch apps for Google+ on other platforms in the future.


Google freely admitted to me during our conversation that its previous attempt at social, Google Buzz, did not live up to expectations. Bradley Horowitz, Google’s vice president of product, says that part of the problem was that Buzz was just “tacked on” as a link on millions of Gmail accounts, something that Google won’t be repeating. Horowitz also says that, unlike the Buzz rollout, Google+ is a project that will roll out in stages.

In many ways, it reminds us of Gmail’s rollout. Invites to Google’s email service were so sought after at one point that people were selling them for $50 or more on eBay. While that type of fervor may not hit Google+, we expect the artificial scarcity will drive up interest while giving Google time to work out the kinks.

No matter what Google says, Google+ is the company’s response to the rise of Facebook. The two companies are in heated competition for talent, page views and consumers. While Google controls the search market and has a strong presence on mobile with Android, it hasn’t been able to crack the social nut. Its most successful social product, YouTube, had to be acquired, and it still ranks as one of the most expensive acquisitions in the company’s history.

Has Google finally nailed social with Google+? We’re going to publish more of our thoughts on Google’s new social network in the next few hours, but we will say this: Google no longer gets a free pass in social. It must prove that it can draw users and keep them engaged in a way that doesn’t replicate Facebook or Twitter’s functionality. Only time will tell if Google has finally found its magical arrow.

Readers are invited to follow both Mashable and Ben Parr on Google

More About: Circles, Google, Google Circles, Google Plus, Google Sparks, Google Stream, social media, social networking, Sparks, stream, trending

For more Social Media coverage:


segunda-feira, 27 de junho de 2011

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide [Night School]

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide [Night School]: "

Basics of Photography: The Complete GuideWe spent the last week learning all about the basics of photography, from the way your camera works to composing your photos to editing them in post. Here's the complete guide, along with a PDF of all the lessons and some additional resources fo learning more.

Note: Click the lesson title to view the lesson—it's a link!

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide

Part I: Understanding How Your Digital Camera Works

With so many cameras available, figuring out how all the specifications and options translate into your everyday use is complicated. For our first lesson in the Basics of Photography, we learn how cameras work and make sense of what that means in terms of choosing a camera to buy and how that choice affects your photographs.

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide

Part II: Your Camera's Automatic and Assisted Settings

In this lesson we take a look at your camera's various assisted and automatic settings.

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide

Part III: Your Camera's Manual Settings

In this lesson we take away our handicap and jump into the fun stuff: manual mode. We look at the details of shutter speed, ISO, and aperture, as well as how those settings affect your photos.

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide

Part IV: Composition and Technique

A well-composed photograph is really a matter of opinion, but there are a few tricks that tend to result in better pictures. That's what we take a look at in this lesson.

Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide

Part V: Editing Images in Post

For our final photography lesson, we look at the final step: editing your images. We try different kinds of techniques for color correction, touch ups, and a few other fun effects.

If you'd like all of these lessons in a printable PDF file, click here to download one. (Note: The photos in the composition lesson were cropped because they didn't fit, so visit the original post to see them in their entirety.)

Additional Resources

If you want to learn more about digital photography, there are plenty of resources to help you out. We've broken them up into three sections so you can focus on the resources that are most appropriate for your needs.

Understanding the Way Your camera Works

  • Curtin's Guide to Digital Cameras will take you through every little thing your camera can possibly do. If you still don't have a digital camera yet, this guide also contains a ton of advice on what to buy based on your needs and intended use.

  • The Shortcourses Bookstore has books on tons of popular digital cameras so you can learn more about how they work. You can even get digital copies of the books for your mobile devices.

  • Geoff Lawrence offers up a lot of information, ranging from the basic to more complex. This site will teach you simple things, like holding your camera properly, as well as more complex things, like exposure bracketing.

Composing Better Photographs

  • Samy's Camera, which is a great camera store (that happens to be down the street from me) also has a bunch of online photo lessons that will teach you a lot about lighting and composing your photos. They even have some lessons in Spanish.

  • Web Photo School has a few free lessons to help you shoot better photos.

  • This short course on Digital Desktop Studio Photography will teach you all about photographing objects in a controlled studio environment. It's pretty much something anyone can do on their desk (hence the name).

  • Best Photo Lessons contains a bunch of basic lessons on the principles of photography, including a few things we didn't cover.

Editing Your Photos

  • If you want to learn Photoshop, we've got a night school for that, too. It's not all about Photography, but you'll learn about how the application works and plenty about color-correcting and touching up your images.

  • Lynda.com is an online training service that'll teach you all sorts of things about Photoshop. It costs $25 per month, but if you're on a tight budget you can just pay for a single month, learn what you need to learn, and then cancel your membership.

  • The National Association of Photoshop Professionals is the organization that puts out the great Photoshop magazine Photoshop User. For $99 a year you get that magazine plus a membership. You probably don't want to sign up for this if you're not going to spend a lot of time learning about Photoshop techniques, as it's pricey, but there's tons of great info and tutorials. I used to subscribe back when I did more photography and learned a ton of great Photoshop tricks this way. It's not for everyone, but if you've got the time it is a great resource.

  • You Suck At Photoshop is free training and comedy rolled into one. It's been around for awhile and you've probably heard about it, but it's still awesome. The videos aren't just funny—they actually teach you Photoshop.

Other Stuff

  • DIY Photography is a great resource for projects for your camera. Photography can be a really expensive hobby, but you can build a lot of the equipment you want/need yourself. DIY Photography has plenty of light rings, diffusers, camera straps, and even cameras you can build yourself.

  • Here's a lesson on Displaying and Sharing Your Photos—a topic we didn't have time to cover.

  • We have an Ask Lifehacker focused on how to take better photos in low light. If that's your primary concern, this should cover all the bases for you.

You can follow Adam Dachis, the author of this post, on Twitter and Facebook. Twitter's the best way to contact him, too.


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