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While Google CEO Eric Schmidt is over on the East Coast helping the Washington Post and the New York Times work out how best to make money out of their content, Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience, along with a team of Googlers is in building 40 at the Googleplex giving the press of Silicon Valley an "insider's perspective on search."
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Google is providing a live webcast of the event, named Searchology, which is scheduled to begin at 10 PDT and conclude at 11.30 PDT after product demos. We'll be live blogging the event, and updating this post throughout the day.
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Live blogging starts here

Speaker line up today:

  • Udi Manber, VB Engineering
  • Patrick Riley, Software Engineer
  • Scott Huffman Engineering Director
  • Marissa Mayer, VP, Search Products and User Experience
  • Nundu Janakiram, Associate Product Manager
  • Alex Komoroske, Associate Product Manager
  • Kavi Goel, Product Manager
  • John Taylor, Software Engineer


Udi Manber kicks the event off saying "our job is to do rocket science that will be taken for granted." But, he adds, "there is still a lot of work to do."

He continues talking about growth throughout the centuries. "In the 20th century," he explains, the dream was to conquer nature; I think the 21st centure will be about understanding people."

"We have made a lot of progress, and you'll see some more today. But, the most promising advance is that we are starting to 'understand.'"

"We have very high confidence that this is what you're looking for. It's actually hard to do, but it looks easy to you."

"Search has to be lightening fast, relevant comprehensive fresh, but the main point is that even that is not enough."

He ends by juggling three eggs. Then saying "I wanted to highlight that things are not always what they seem," he throws the eggs, and they bounce off the stage.

Semantic search?

Patrick Riley begins by saying "it's all about user intent." By tweaking the algorithm, and operating at scale, Google can update the search results page so that it offers results for not only the query, but for what Google thinks the query could be should what you typed into the search box be incorrect.

"We know that everything we do on the search results page, and we really care about every pixel on that page," Riley says.

"We liked the 'did you mean' link so did not want to take it off." Instead they expanded it.

Mobile search

Scott Huffman talks about mobile search: "There are a few things that make mobile search interesting," he begins. "Mobile search is growing fast -- faster than search for the PC."

"Another thing that makes mobile search interesting is the challenge of devices," he adds. "There are hundreds of them, with widely varying capabilities. Search is generally difficult to use... The third thing inherently interesting about mobile search is location."

"Our dream," he said, "is that people use mobile search every day because it is":


  • Complete: all of Google is on my device; easy access; "one click" ability to dig deeper;

  • Easy: effortless to search and get answers.

  • Local: knows where I am and acts accordingly



One thing that isn't out yet but should be in the next few weeks is the ability to share your desktop environment with your mobile environment.

Universal Search and a Brand New Search Feature

Marissa Mayer begins with an anecdotal story about a friend of hers who needed to tie a bow tie and was convinced that by searching on Google he would be greeted with incomprehensible information. As it turned out, he told Mayer, the results were brilliant; he got videos, diagrams, and a lot of explanations.

"This is Universal Search," Mayer said, "which we introduced a couple of years ago."

Universal search began with images, maps, books, news, and video. Mayer explained that over the past two years, Google has added products and blog search.

"Universal Search now runs in 174 countries," said Mayer, and it's getting better.

"The Universal Search experience is displayed in a 'bento box' environment," Mayer said.

Google also now has "location-less" Universal Search. That is, you don't need to include your location; Google works that out by either your profile or your cookie information.

In November, Google introduced SearchWiki: the ability to add, annotate, and remove results to "really make the page your own."

But with Search Wiki and Universal Search, there is more media and more interaction. Google wants to help you find more and do more with it.

The hard, unsolved problems in search are:


  • Finding the most recent info

  • Expressing what you want just one type of result

  • Accessing which results are best

  • Knowing what you want

  • Being tied to keywords can be limiting



"We need a slice-and-dice mechanism," Mayer explained, something that will help you find a particular type of result.

As a result, Google today is launching "Search Options," which, according to Mayer, is going live as she speaks. With Search Options, the results page gives you more options and allows you to show and hide options. It ultimately provides more useful results and a better search experience.

Google Squared

Another product Google is launching and will be available in Google Labs later this month is called "Google Squared," which offers data extraction (using sentiment analysis) for values and facts and that includes rich information. Could this be similar to what we can expect from Wolfram Alpha?

Rich Snippets

A third product(!) announced today is "Rich Snippets," which will show extra metadata in results -- things like user reviews and the cost of products. According to Mayer, "It's a way for us to enrich our results page and help users make a more informed decision about what is relevant to them."

New Android App

The last announcement was of a new Android application that looks at stars. Known as "Sky Map," it was built by John Taylor in his 20% time and will be available on the Android Market later today.

Much like other apps, it allows you to pan, zoom in, and zoom out. What is special about this, asks Mayer? The G1 phone has built-in GPS, so it knows where in the world you are and can produce maps specific to you. Using the accelerometer technology, you can point the device to the stars and see the night sky beyond. Of course (having been announced at Searchology), the app also allows you to search for a star -- say, Orion -- and then it shows you where to point your device to see that star in your night sky.

Q&A coming up...
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It appears Twitter is experimenting with some additional tweaks that may make status updates easier and faster for its users and could help decrease the back end load on its servers.

A semi transparent notification bar (see screenshot below), slides down from the top of the screen when you update your status via the Web. While in itself, the feature may not appear earth shattering, the fact that updating now feels extremely fluid and is almost instantaneous makes us wonder whether Twitter will begin caching tweets for delivery to its servers.
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In the past, when you hit the update button, it would take several seconds for Twitter to 'confirm' that the tweet has been created before updating your page. With the notification bar, the process is immediate and will definitely be seen as a plus by users.



Is it possible that Twitter is employing some mechanism between the browser and the back end? For instance batching tweets (or any request) before they hit the server, to decrease load?

Twitter hasn't made a formal announcement yet, and clearly they're still testing the new bar as it is not yet available to all users. But if you are one of the fortunate few, as always, we'd love your opinion.

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For a service that simply takes 140 characters of input and then blasts them out in front of potentially hundreds of thousands of readers at a time, there has been a lot of work by people and businesses to figure out the best way to re-interpret and re-group Twitter posts in to meaningful categories, trends and threads.

Two common ways that have developed are link tracking and meme tracking. In the first case, it's fairly simple - just take all the URLs posted on Twitter, uncompress them if necessary, add up the uniques, and sort th
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em by popularity. But today we are going to focus on the latter case, services that look for a specific keyword, topic, or hashtag (all falling under the fuzzy category of meme or viral idea) and cluster related tweets together.
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There are two types of topic trackers out there: List and waterfall. The first category (and first four on our list) are basically search engines for Twitter keywords, perhaps with a little extra thrown in. The second category is very much as it sounds - real-time Twitter results that flow down the screen like a waterfall.

Tweetizen

Tweetizen (sounds like citizen) is a relatively new discovery that was brought to my attention via a comment on my Tinker post. Tweetizen has a lot of power hidden behind its simple facade. There are two main types of groups that you can create, friends and interests. Friend groups are just that: friend groups. Add a bunch of your Twitter friends' nicknames here and generate an instant stream with just their updates. Very nice!



Interest groups are more complex, they are similar to, but more powerful (in some ways) than Tinker, which we covered here. You can start out by giving your new group a name, and then choosing any combinations of keywords to search for. The real power here is anything you enter here gets passed directly through to the Twitter search API. So if you want to search for #followfriday, but only see tweets including the word 'Saturday', use Saturday as your search term, and #followfriday as your tag term, then go to advanced options and select 'use all of these tags & text'. You can also remove keywords from your search results by putting a minus (-) in front of the term. As a demonstration, I constructed this simple group as an example: FollowFriday Saturday. I'll leave experimenting with other Twitter search terms (like from:) as an exercise to the reader.

Some other great features of Tweetizen is the ability to embed groups on external web pages, using Twitter OAuth to be able to directly create or reply to tweets in a group you've made, a live refresh option, and extra filtering options to remove tweets without URLs and retweets.

Twitscoop

Twitscoop is a clever site that shows a constantly-updating cloud of popular terms (although not necessarily hashtags) that you can click on to get some more details. You can also grab a widget that creates a new cloud every time it is refreshed. Finally, there is trend tracking that gives you a constantly-refreshing list based on username, tag or keyword, plus a little graph on the popularity of the search term over time. An expanded view of search results is also available, like this one.

TweetChannel

TweetChannel is a very clean site that is similar to Tinker in that it attempts to link a user's login with certain hashtag topics. In order to create your own channel, you must provide your Twitter login and password, which causes you to automatically start following Twitter user @tweet_channel. This is the listener account for the service. Once logged in, you can create your own hashtag-based channel and any subsequent tweets you send out with that hashtag will show up in TweetChannel, under that channel. You can then grab an RSS feed of anything from that channel (or any other channel registered in the service). For example, you can check out the #sandbox channel.

Tweetscan

Tweetscan is the only application in this round-up that costs a subscription fee. But after we tell you some of its features, you may find subscribing worthwhile. Its unassuming front page offers a trending topic cloud, that you can click on to bring up a quick search result, or you can use the search bar. Once search results are up, you will notice some unusual refinements; first is choice of service! Yes, Tweetscan supports identi.ca. You can also narrow results by user, and grab an RSS feed of any search, even tweet your custom search link. Example #followfriday search here.

Additionally, Tweetscan offers the paying customer the ability to download any search result as a CSV (comma separated value) file, suitable for import into a spreadsheet or database application, as well as sending regular search result updates via email. Also, Tweetscan has a separate portal specifically for searching user profiles! We are actually fairly impressed with this tool, it is trying to bring more to the table in exchange for a small subscription fee.

Twistori

Twistori (not to be confused with Twistory, which lets you add tweets to a calendar) is one of the original Twitter meme waterfalls. It is based on an infographic art project by Jonathan Harris called We Feel Fine, and its mission is very straightforward: You can choose from 6 verbs that show up quite commonly on Twitter, and once chosen, you get a reverse waterfall highlighting recent, anonymous tweets containing a personal use of that verb. Very zen and relaxing, but more art that function.

Extra features include a mac screensaver version and a custom mac application.

Twitterfall

Twitterfall is basically where twitterers go after they watched Twistori for a while and wanted a tool they could use to make their own custom waterfalls. Twitterfall supports searching for keywords and hashtags, and will support additional search parameters like the minus to exclude terms (mentioned above) and the from: operator to limit tweets from a single account. You can see my FollowFriday Saturday example here.



All the parameters for your waterfall experience are adjustable, from the background color theme to the appearance speed of new tweets. You can log in via Twitter OAuth (although that didn't work for me, it falls back to a traditional login prompt) in order to perform operations on tweets in the waterfall, such as replying and retweeting. The waterfall helpfully pauses if you hover over a tweet. You can limit search results to a specific geographic region.

There are also widgets for the Mac and Windows desktop but no javascript embed or RSS output, which is unfortunate. You can save your custom searches if you log in, though.

Monitter

Monitter takes the Twitterfall concept a step further by giving you not one but three fully-customizable keyword search waterfalls that are constantly updated with recent tweets. Each search, like with Tweetizen and Twitterfall, is passed directly to the search API so you can add advanced parameters to fine-tune your results. There is also support for regional tweets, although it looks like imposing a region affects every column, which may be overkill.



Monitter pipes Twitter search results directly back out into the columns in a waterfall format. Oddly, the RSS icons link directly to Twitter search query results. Also, there doesn't seem to be any way of sharing columns with other people. I did discover though that apparently the session is saved in a cookie so, you can feel safe leaving the page and returning to it later.

Extras include the ability to add or remove columns and a customizable jquery widget that, with a bit of PHP programming skill, you can add to your blog's web page.

A final note we would like to mention about Monitter: It seems to like Chrome a lot more than Firefox. It may just be my setup, but as a warning, your mileage may vary.

Honorable Mentions

There are a number of very similar web apps, which I am calling "Twitter search front-ends," that all replicate the same functionality in slightly different ways:


Twendz: Created by marketing firm Waggener Edstrom, Twendz is just a nice, clean Twitter search utility that supports a waterfall result and advanced search term constructions. Here is an example Followfriday search.

Tweetzi: No affiliation or creator name attached to this search, but it has the distinction of using the biggest Courier font we've ever seen plus the ability to filter by mood. Good stuff. Example search here.

Twemes: Twemes is one of the few web sites we looked at that doesn't seem to use the Twitter search API directly. Unfortunately, as a result it is extremely slow on certain searches. It does have a couple of unusual features but the interface and responsiveness get in the way of this being a useful tool.


Finally, we would like to give a shout out to Birdsall's Massive Twitter Sites & Tools Directory page that made finding these apps much less of a chore than it could have been.
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39

campaign-monitor-blog.pngThese days, it's no longer enough to have an inviting storefront and amazing products on your shelves, whether physical or digital. Fueled by social networking and search engines scrambling to keep up, the Web is now happening in real time. How can a small company stay competitive?



One critical component of the answer to that question is something that most businesses have never had to consider doing in the past: Become a publisher.

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Your Site Needs a Blog



Having somebody design and build your website is only half the battle. That site needs regularly-updated content and the easiest way to make that happen is with a blog.

First, you'll need a blog content management system (CMS) like Wordpress.org or Movable Type. For best results, you should work with your Web guru to set up a self-hosted blogging engine on your own server, rather than going with a hosted solution like Blogger, TypePad or Wordpress.com, since a self-hosted blog will be easier to customize and can integrate more seamlessly into your site's existing architecture and design.



When you first start out, your company blog should be set up as a subdirectory (www.company.com/blog) rather than a subdomain (blog.company.com). This way, Google will view your blog as part of your site, as opposed to a separate entity with its own PageRank.



From a design standpoint, the blog should be visually consistent with the rest of your site, at least as far as the header and navigation are concerned. This will undoubtedly require some custom-coding, and there are ample resources online for Wordpress and Movable Type theme development. One approach might be to find a pre-built theme that comes relatively close to your site's general layout and then have a Web ninja dig into the code to customize the color scheme and branding.



While you're at it, it's worth considering moving the rest of your site onto the CMS as well to make updating that content easier. Any static pages (About, Products, Contact, etc) can be carried over as static pages on Wordpress or Movable Type with relative ease.



Once the nitty gritty technical stuff is taken care of and your blog is set up, you'll be ready for the fun part: creating content.





Not a Writer? Hire Somebody.



I know what you're saying: Hey, I'm an entrepreneur, not a writer. You don't have to be a prize-winning novelist to blog effectively, but you should be pretty good with grammar and be able to write in a readable voice. If blogging is not something you have the time or background to get into right now, you can hire somebody pretty easily.



Job boards like those found on Freelance Switch and CrowdSPRING are great places to find writers at an affordable rate. Craigslist is ubiquitous and inexpensive, but be prepared to wade through numerous responses of varied quality, including a from few Nigerian princes.



Another place to look is your closest journalism school. College journalism programs are brimming with talented writers who need writing samples to help them build their budding careers. Reach out to the head of the school's journalism department to ask how to go about posting a job to the department's list serv or website.



Starting out at $10-15 per post is reasonable, but consider increasing your budget for a writer who has a couple years of experience under their belt, especially if they have a solid background in research and reporting.





Develop a Content Mission



Your site should ideally be updated with fresh content at least once a week, and certainly more frequently if you can swing it. Before you (or your writer) can get started you need to forge a content mission: What is the blog going to cover? It can be the end-all-be-all, one-stop-shop for information about your entire industry, or it can be a series of press releases about your products. The ideal solution for most blogs is probably somewhere in the middle.



As awesome and innovative as your company is, let's face it: Most people won't want to subscribe to information strictly about your company's latest offerings. It has to be relevant and useful to them. By including news, how-to's and other informative posts about your particular industry, you'll gain the trust of readers, who will be much more attentive when you're ready to make that next big product announcement.



This approach will also help with audience development. The more timely, useful information you can publish, the more traffic your site will get from search engines and social media referrals.





Getting Exposure



One of the benefits of using a CMS is that, with the help of plug-ins, it can take much of the heavy lifting out of search engine optimization (SEO). That said, you'll stilll want to ensure posts are written with SEO principles in mind, especially when it comes to headlines, which should be straight forward and include keywords. To snag a couple page views from image search engines, any images included in your blog posts should have concise, descriptive file names and ALT tags that clearly describe the image is of.



Once SEO is taken care of, the next crucial aspect of building an audience is, of course, social media. Use Twitter and Facebook to post links to your latest blog posts, as well as to converse with your readers and customers. Tools like HootSuite, CoTweet and plug-ins like Twitter Tools for Wordpress will let you automate your social media updates, but be careful not to become a bot-like firehose with no personality.



Finally, you'll want to get the word out among relevant blogs and news sites that cover your industry. Use analytics sites like Alexa or Compete.com to identify 3-5 relevant sites with significantly-sized audiences. Email the editors of these sites to introduce your new blog or notify them of a big announcement you're hoping to get press coverage for, but as with social media, be mindful not to become too overbearing or impersonal or your emails will end up in the spam folder.





A Few Examples of Great Company Blogs



There are thousands of company blogs out there, many of which are excellent. Here is a handful of particularly effective ones.





Yelp Official Blog>



The official company blog maintained by Yelp keeps users up-to-date with product releases and upgrades, but also gets personal with Q&A profiles of Yelp staffers in their ongoing "Day in the Life" series.



Campaign Monitor



Email marketing platform Campaign Monitor is a good example of a company with a well-written blog that not only covers product announcements but also serves as all-encompassing resource for email marketing in general. In fact, of the six categories on their blog, the one with the most posts is "Tips & Resources," a repository of information about everything from email subscriber management to how to get images to display properly in Gmail.





Conversation Marketing



Conversation Marketing is a blog about SEO, social media and Web marketing in general written by Ian Lurie, the president of Seattle-based SEO firm Portent Interactive. While it's technically not a company blog for Portent Interactive, Conversation Marketing does a great job of selling Lurie's expertise and, by extension, the services offered by his company. Indeed, Portent Interactive is rarely mentioned in his posts, which are typically how-to's, analysis and rants about everything related to Web marketing and SEO.






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A website brings presence to your business online.Successful businesses in the 21st century often rely on their website to communicate with clients and partners, and getting started is often intimidating and a little tricky without prior experience or help. Additionally, there are many types of... Recent Article published on 5/25/2010 by JohnJordan

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guest_watercooler.jpgThere's been a lot of anxiety provoked (and money made) predicting a "parade of terribles" in the workplace as a result of social networking sites and employee blogs. While there is no doubt that these sites provide additional opportunities for employees to be distracted from getting their work done, I contend that not all that much has changed.



Employees that are wasting their time on social networking sites today were gossiping at the water cooler in yesteryear, and th

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e solution is the same: thoughtful policy implementation and vigilant managerial oversight.


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Guest author Gary M. Gansle is a partner in Dorsey & Whitney's Labor and Employment practice, based in the firm's Silicon Valley office. Gary has a highly successful track record litigating employment-related claims on behalf of clients, and provides expert advice and counseling with respect to a wide range of employment law issues. He has established a nationwide training practice, conducting programs for managers and employees on employment-related topics such as "Managing within the Law" and "Preventing Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace." Gary is also a contributor to Dorsey's Northern California startup blog.



While there are clearly some updates to how we manage the workplace, in context I don't think it is as revolutionary as many doomsayers would have us believe. The implications of social networking fall into three categories: pre-employment, during employment, and post-employment. Below is what I see as the key considerations.



Pre-Employment

I recommend against using social media to screen applicants because of the risk of inadvertently obtaining information that cannot lawfully be taken into consideration in the hiring process. However, if you are using social media to screen applicants, consider these steps:




  • Do so consistently, rather than pick and choose who to screen.

  • Have a low-level, non-decision maker screen first to filter out any protected class information that is inappropriate for decision makers to consider. Then have them report out only what can be lawfully considered.

  • Don't friend applicants on Facebook to access non-public information.



During Employment

Consider adding new language to existing policies, such as your technology policy, code of conduct, harassment and discrimination policy, and confidentiality policy. The types of specific modifications to consider include:




  • an unequivocal policy statement that abuse of social media can be grounds for discipline, up to and including termination.

  • an express prohibition on disclosure of confidential and proprietary information and trade secrets.

  • a directive that employees should keep company logos or trademarks off their blogs or profiles, and a request that employees not mention the company in commentary unless for business purposes (and then only with prior approval of the company).

  • a prohibition on employees posting or blogging during business hours, unless for business purposes pre-authorized by the company.

  • a request that employees bring work-related complaints to HR before blogging or posting about such issues.

  • a prohibition on posting false information about the company, its employees, customers, affiliates, or business partners.

  • a general instruction that employees use good judgment and take responsibility, personally and professionally, for what they publish online.

  • a requirement that all employees who identify the company in their blog include a disclaimer that the views expressed are those of the blogger, not the employer.



Post-Employment

In this category, the single biggest issue is recommendations. Companies should consider updating their written policies on providing references (which should already limit such information to last position held and dates of employment) to include a prohibition on managers giving LinkedIn recommendations to employees or former employees unless pre-authorized by HR.



I suggest this not because I thrill at the Big Brother quality of it, but because of the risk of defamation claims for references that go wrong, and the fact that manager statements - even statements not on company letterhead or made through a formal corporate communication - are attributable to the company and may be inconsistent with legal positions confidentially being taken by the employer.



With the addition of some of these common sense updates to existing policies, your company can feel confident that the "revolution" of social networking won't have nearly the devastating impact predicted by most commentators.



Photo by Jason Pratt.


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Twitter just launched an updated, more dynamic homepage. The old, static homepage that didn't really explain how Twitter really works and just showed a list of trending topic and a search form. The new homepage, on the other hand, features a scrolling list of trending topics, a constantly updating view of tweets from popular Twitter users, a random sampling of suggested users and a new explanation of what Twitter is.
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We have to say, though, that Twitter's new explanation of itself sounds a bit odd:

"Twitter is a rich source of instant information. Stay updated. Keep others updated. It's a whole thing. You choose and customize every aspect of the service. Lots of people like it. We'd love it if you joined us."

Interestingly, Twitter de-emphasizes the social networking features of the service here and stresses that Twitter is a source of "instant information." The old homepage simply said: "Share and discover what's happening right now, anywhere in the world." According to Twitter's own announcement, the company wants to stress that Twitter is "not just for status updates anymore"

The new homepage also now feature a link to Twitter's FAQ for business users.

A Better Homepage for Novice Users?

Given that Twitter has always had a hard time converting new users to regular users, this new homepage is clearly an attempt to better explain the service's features and functionality to new users. We will have to wait and see if this new homepage will do a better job at converting visitors to regular users. tweetmeme_url = 'http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/twitter_gets_a_new_homepage_-_its_a_whole_thing.php';tweetmeme_source = 'rww';The new explanation of Twitter on the homepage could surely use some tweaking, but the new focus on interesting tweets and users will immediately give newcomers a good idea of how they can use Twitter themselves.
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You think your smartphone is cool now? Wait till it gets RFID chips, then it'll truly be 'smart.' That's the promise of two emerging RFID-based mobile technologies called NFC and DASH7. We've already looked at NFC (Near Field Communication), which holds great promise as an enabler of mobile payments. Today we look at DASH7, a wireless sensor networking standard that complements NFC.
Both NFC and DASH7 may soon be a part of the mobile pho
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ne that you carry around everywhere - they'll enable mobile payments, building access, advanced location-based services, ticketing, and more. We spoke to Pat Burns, co-founder and president of the DASH7 Alliance, to find out what DASH7 can do.

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DASH7 was originally created for military use - and it's still being used for those purposes. In January 2009 the U.S. Department of Defense announced a $429 million contract for DASH7 devices, to four vendors: Savi Technology, SPEC, Northrop Grumman, and Unisys. Pat Burns works for one of those vendors, Savi Technology. He also writes the DASH7 blog, which is an excellent daily read.
According to an upcoming report by the DASH7 Alliance, which ReadWriteWeb got an early peak at, DASH7 is typically used for applications requiring low power, "bursty" wireless communication. The report states that DASH7 is "ideal for large area sensor networking or supporting reliable communication with things on the move."
That means that DASH7 is going to be an integral part of the Internet of Things, as it can acquire sensor data and help run social networking applications that use sensor data.

Both DASH7 and NFC are technologies that enable your phone to communicate with other devices. So for example, these technologies allow your phone to read a 'smart poster' (a poster with a barcode or chip in it). The major difference between the two is that NFC is a short-range communications technology, with a range of about 10 centimeters. DASH7 however has a much longer range, of hundreds of meters.
DASH7 is also a low power wireless technology, meaning batteries can last for many years. The main disadvantage of DASH7 is that it can't handle high bandwidth data transfers.
DASH7 competes directly with a wireless data protocol called ZigBee. However DASH7 and NFC complement each other, according to the upcoming DASH7 report. Both technologies can potentially be hosted on the same phone. The report states:

"NFC is a short-range passive RFID technology whose "killer" application is the enormous-but-elusive mobile payments opportunity. [...] in the future we will probably just ditch our credit cards and instead wave our smartphones next to a cash register or vending machine in order to complete a purchase. Enhancing NFC silicon to include DASH7 functionality will accelerate the adoption of NFC for non-payment applications and ultimately for NFC generally."

The reason why DASH7 is hitching its wagon to NFC is that NFC has received the most interest so far by mobile handset manufacturers. Nokia is an early adopter of NFC, while both Apple and Google are rumored to be close to adopting it in 2010.
Pat Burns told ReadWriteWeb that DASH7 could play at the intersection of location-based services, Internet of Things, social networking, and other mobile services. Examples include enhanced location-based apps, building automation smart energy, tire pressure monitoring, and in-transit temperature monitoring of perishable goods. We will look into these and other DASH7 use cases in Part 2 of this post tomorrow.

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Just a few days after the launch of the iPad, Apple plans to reveal more details about the next version of the iPhone operating system tomorrow. As with any Apple product, rumors about the new iPhone OS, which runs on the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad, are already floating around the Internet, but the reality is that nobody outside of Apple really knows what the company plans to unveil tomorrow.

Here are a f
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ew features we would like to see in the new version of the iPhone OS.
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Multitasking

The iPad, which is far more powerful than the iPhone, still runs what is basically a modified version of the current iPhone OS. Currently, Apple still doesn't allow developers to access the OS's multitasking features and prevents them from running their programs in the background. We expect to see some support for multitasking in the 4.0 release, but it isn't clear what form this will take.

The latest rumors point towards an Expose-like interface for switching between apps.

Even if Apple just allowed some music apps to stream in the background or allowed some apps to regularly send location pings or wake their programs up remotely or at regular intervals, this would already be a huge step forward for what developers can do with the iPhone OS.


Better Notifications Management

Push notifications were supposed to be a stop-gap measure until Apple opened up the floodgates for background applications. However, for breaking news updates, email alerts and Twitter notifications, these push alerts will still be useful (if only to maximize battery life). Right now, however, the iPhone OS doesn't manage these notifications well. There is no way to see all recent notifications in one place and no way to just turn off notifications for certain hours of the day (and night) without having to turn them off altogether.

New Home Screen

This new notifications system could be integrated into a new home screen that shows new email, notifications and text messages instead of just dropping users into a list of apps.

File Management

As Apple continues to push the idea that the iPhone OS family isn't just for surfing the web and gaming, but also for using serious productivity tools, managing and transferring files becomes a must. That, of course, represents a serious challenge for Apple's user interface designers, so we don't expect to see this anytime soon - but we still hope that Apple will surprise us.

Reduced Need for iTunes

iTunes wasn't designed as a file management tool and it's starting to show. With the iPad, you now have to use iTunes - a music player - to manage your books and documents. Why can't we just get this data right from our email inbox or just use a dropbox folder on the iPad and iPhone to drag data onto the device?

Easier Podcast Management

Sure, you can use third-party apps to manage your podcasts, but why Apple hasn't included an easy to use podcast client is beyond us. We can see why Apple wouldn't want people to transfer hundreds of megabytes over the cellular network, but why not just make this a WiFi-only service? Instead of having to sync with iTunes on a laptop while traveling, for example, wouldn't it be nice if you could just use the hotel or airport WiFi to download all of your podcasts with one click?

Of course, we will bring you all the news about the new iPhone OS tomorrow. The announcement is scheduled to begin at 10am Pacific.
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