Archives For Web

The New York Times is starting to roll out digital subscription plans in Canada this week, with US and international subscriptions set to take effect on march 28th. Readers will be able to view the paper’s home page for free, and read up to 20 articles per month at no cost. You’ll also be able to access the “Top News” section of the company’s mobile apps for Android, BlackBerry, and iOS for free. For anything else, you’ll need to pay up.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • If you want full access to the web site and smartphone apps, you’ll need to pay $15 every four weeks.
  • For full access to the web site and the tablet app for the iPad you’ll need to find $20 in the couch cushions.
  • Full access to the tablet and smartphone apps plus the web site will run you $35 every four weeks.

Existing newspaper subscribers will be able to continue accessing all of the digital content for no additional charge. That includes customers who sign up for weekday only, or Weekender Friday-Sunday only service. Because the New York Times is currently offering a 50% discount for up to 12 weeks on some print subscriptions, I can actually sign up for the weekday print edition and digital editions for $3.70 per week, compared with $3.75 per week for the web and smartphone plan. But after a few months that price would double.

Read the rest of this entry »

google-2-step

A few weeks back, Google flipped the switch on two-factor authentication for the masses. While folks traditionally sign into online properties and computing devices using merely a password, two factor authentication adds another layer of defense. The password is something you know (and set), whereas a second factor is typically something only you possess. In this case, it’s rotating numeric codes provided by Google. And many may be familiar with this sort authentication procedure via work (or through E*Trade) using RSA SecurID tokens.

To enable Google’s “2-step verification” you’d hit the relevant link from your Account Settings. As part of the registration process, you identify what sort of mobile device you intend to receive your code on. In my case, it’s the iPhone – and Google kindly provides an Authentication app to handle these duties (see pics, below). So when I sign into Google, I provide my password and now, additionally, whatever current code is displayed.

gmail-authenticator-iphone

Thus far, I’m impressed. As someone on Twitter quipped, my Gmail is now more secure than my online banking.

Yet I seem to have hit a snag. Some third party applications just aren’t designed to handle two factor authentication. Google attempts to overcome this by providing unique “Application-specific passwords.” I utilize Google Sync (powered by Microsoft Exchange  ActiveSync) to not only receive Gmail via my iPhone’s native mail client, but also to keep contacts and calendar events current. In theory, I should be able to authenticate using an application-specific password. And, indeed I can. But only for a short period of time… before Google no longer recognizes it as valid. I’m not sure if this has been a temporary glitch on Google’s end or if it’s an issue triggered by signing in from different networks (Verizon vs. various WiFi access points). But I’m hopeful this can be resolved. Because, as much as I support additional security, if even I can’t get to my data it’s of limited value.

Eye-Fi is out with an API update this week that enables personal web publishing. Their clever WiFi-endowed SD card lineup has traditionally beamed one’s digital photos from the camera to a personal computer or photo sharing services in the cloud (Flickr, Picasa, etc). Now, the more technically savvy amongst us, have the opportunity to transmit photographs to their own Gallery 3 powered web site via Eye-Fi. From the email blast:

Eye-Fi has just made available a document that shows you how to use simple APIs to have the Eye-Fi card send photos & videos to your own site. This has been one of the most requested features.

Head on over to Eye-Fi’s Developer page or grab the PDF integration doc for inetegration details. Continue Reading…

amazon-text-trace

So I’m about two years late on this bit of “news” … but if I’m just discovering it, there could be others in a similar boat. You see, I’m such an early adopter that I’ve largely missed out on the text messaging phenomenom. I picked up the original Sidekick in 2002 and have been emailing and IMing via cellphone ever since. I only grudgingly enabled a basic text messaging plan within the last few months as folks in my circle (and inappropriate marketing personel) have cost me money (with every incoming SMS). But now that I’m retro modern, I’ve been keeping my eye open for texting opportunities. And it turns out Amazon offers “Text Trace” – a service to provide package tracking/shipment updates. Pretty cool, and much more efficient than babying the UPS site for status. In fact, beyond just ‘out for delivery’ and ‘delivery’ notifications, I’d be OK with even more info. Like when a product leaves the warehouse and later lands in my region. Although I’d prefer to see more real-time alerts. If you’re as behind the times as I, check out Text Trace at the bottom of your Amazon Order Summary, Shipment Tracking status page.

AOL, Google, The News, & I

Dave Zatz —  February 21, 2011

In the last couple of days, two respected Engadget editors have resigned (details here & here). Amongst their publicly disclosed grievances, both cited the AOL Way – which appears to favor assembly line content. Quantity over quality, current, and search engine optimized. While Engadget hasn’t yet been subjected to the AOL Way, these defections make many wonder if the writing’s on the wall. Instead of continuing to evolve as a largely independent (and loved) entity, will Engadget be consumed Borg-like into newly appointed Huffington’s AOL media empire?

Along with this discussion is a renewed debate over ‘blogs as journalism’ and eHow Google might deemphasize the likes of low quality content farms. From a blogger with stints at Mashable and Engadget:

Almost everyone uses Google to find out more about news that’s happening right now, whether it’s tech industry stuff, celebrity breakups, or political revolutions. Unfortunately, the rules Google uses to determine which websites gain strong rankings — and thus frequent traffic, high impressions and strong ad revenues — betray journalists and the people who need them at every turn. Google’s algorithms and the blog linking customs built around them favor those who write first, not those who write accurately. I have no qualms about producing entertainment and other products to meet demand. But journalism must not function this way if it is to remain useful.

And it certainly seems like many pander to Google. For example, TechCrunch (another AOL property) was once a blog purely dedicated to Web 2.0. They were extremely successful and I was a regular. But I suspect it’s been even better for business to expand their reach by covering Apple’s every move.

Yet, building a business around Google’s indexing and oversized influence shouldn’t necessarily be burdened with negative connotation Continue Reading…

I’ve been an online group buy participant as long as the World Wide Web has been a viable tool of commerce. Heck, I picked up one of the very first DVD players at a steep discount on uBid back in 1998 and did time on Paul Allen’s Mercata before they folded in early 2001. As far as I can tell, solely focused group buying branded sites never really went mainstream. Woot’s probably come closest with a large draw amongst of geeky and their $110 million exit (thank you, Amazon). Mercata once proclaimed “The more people who buy, the lower the price.” And even if most sites featuring that particular hook haven’t found long term success, the trend is in full effect as large retailers such Best Buy and Amazon demonstrate on a fairly regular basis.

As ZNF readers know, local, but still online, group buying has taken off in the last year via Groupon and LivingSocial. Yet, for me, it’s been a mixed bag. Instead of actually buying physical merchandise, these sites essentially sell coupons or vouchers to local businesses. In my experience, most haven’t been conveniently located or particularly compelling. But we’re always on the lookout for a deal, and have purchased three dining-related Groupons in recent months.

First off, the lack of instant gratification has been an issue… because, beyond cyberspace, I’m not the most organized. Specifically, I purchased a $50 food and beverage voucher for $25 (to Vinifera Wine Bar & Bistro) and forgot to put it to use before it expired. The other two Groupons were to Chicken Out, a local chain similar to Boston Market. The first dealio was redeemed with no problem, just beating the expiration date. But the second experience was kinda bizarre. Much like Groupon’s Super Bowl commercials (above). Continue Reading…

netflix-psych

I’m so confused… Netflix, known for streaming commercial-free movie content has launched a whole bunch of new television shows (and modernized TV site organization, as shown above). While Hulu Plus, a product of the television studios themselves, lands the Criterion Collection of classic films. The lines are obviously blurring.

Although monthly subscription fees are similar, the two services still take somewhat different approaches in presentation. Namely, Hulu insists on running commercial advertising on its paid tier. But wait, might even that be up for renegotiation? From the Hulu blog:

Criterion Hulu Plus subscribers will be able to watch the Criterion Collection free of interruption. (Any ads will play up front.)

Also interesting, as highlighted on Hacking Netflix, is Criterion’s rational for choosing Hulu over Netflix: Continue Reading…