GE shows off pocket-size ultrasound scanner

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Jeff Immelt holds the GE Vscan ultrasound scanner.

(Credit:
Rafe Needleman/CNET)

SAN FRANCISCO–In a wide-ranging interview at the Web 2.0 Summit, Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, announced a low-cost and very portable ultrasound scanner called the Vscan.

“It’s about the same size as a BlackBerry,” Immelt said, holding up a white device that appeared to fold in the middle like a flip-phone. The top of the device showed an ultrasound image (of a patient’s liver, we were told), while the bottom showed control keys.

“This is Moore’s law,” he said, saying that the device had the same power as a console ultrasound from two to three years ago that would cost $250,000.

The price of the device was not revealed, but Immelt asked the audience to imagine these devices going to Africa and helping health care providers there determine “if a baby is breech,” for example. “This could be the stethoscope of the 21st century,” he said.

Immelt also gave a demo of an enhanced online medical records system, in which patient data is combined with clinical outcome data and research to help caregivers apply effective and current treatments to patients. Medical records, he said, don’t win only because they give patients portable electronic files, but rather, “it’s about making better clinical decisions faster.”

On the topic that the Web 2.0 audience was expecting to learn more about, the potential sale of GE’s NBC Universal, Immelt said, “An IPO would be fine.” Also: “You’ve got to think a couple of years head in this space and think, there might be other partnerships. We’ve got all the options.”

See also: Comcast CEO: We are not a dead duck.

See also: Smallest ultrasound system for fast diagnoses .

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GE shows off pocket-size ultrasound scanner



Not much to tweet about in Twitter CEO talk

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Evan Williams and John Battelle

Evan Williams (left) and John Battelle (right)

(Credit:
James Martin/CNET)

SAN FRANCISCO–In anticipation of an onstage interview with Twitter CEO Evan Williams at the Web 2.0 Summit on Tuesday afternoon, conference organizer and Federated Media CEO John Battelle told the audience to expect “a surprise” during the talk.

Turns out that “surprise” was actually a recently unearthed video clip of Williams in 1994, explaining the Internet on behalf of a company called Illumination Labs and sporting a haircut that looked like it belonged on the set of ’90s alterna-teen flick “Empire Records.” (No, we don’t have a snapshot of it yet.)

Williams didn’t really say a whole lot else about where Twitter’s going, beyond what the world already knows: it’s been growing fast. It turned down a buyout offer from Facebook. It just raised a ton of money. It still hasn’t disclosed a long-term revenue model.

Evan Williams

Evan Williams

(Credit:
James Martin/CNET)

“It’s not like we’re spending our days looking in the couch cushions for the elusive revenue model, but obviously we’ve done a lot of thinking about it,” Williams said, declining to comment on the potential of search deals with Google or Microsoft. “I can’t tell you exactly what the model is, but it’s pretty obvious to you that there may be some advertising that makes sense…there’s a lot of commercial activity on Twitter today, there’s a lot of brand marketers who use Twitter today, and it works. We think of Twitter (as) not a social network, it’s an information network…a substantial part of that is commercial and theoretically monetizable information.”

Williams, who previously founded Pyra Labs and sold its flagship Blogger product to Google, took over as CEO of Twitter from fellow co-founder Jack Dorsey last year. Dorsey, who remains Twitter chairman, is working on a new mobile commerce start-up called Square.

In his talk at Web 2.0 Summit, Williams mentioned new features like user-generated “lists,” currently in beta, and said that they may end up replacing the site’s current (and much-maligned) “suggested user” list altogether. (“It’s gone on too long, and I desperately want to kill it or evolve it.”) He also said that “some things we’re launching” may counteract recent slowdowns in Twitter’s U.S. Web-based traffic, which was growing exponentially not so long ago.

“We are seeing slowing of growth in some areas and accelerating growth in other areas. Twitter is very hard to measure, even for us,” Williams said. “The biggest two areas that we’re seeing growth is on mobile and internationally.” Last week, the company inked new mobile deals in India and Japan; currently, its five biggest markets are the U.S., the U.K., Japan, Brazil, and Indonesia, which has been “growing like crazy lately.”

So what does he think of the other players in the real-time Web? He’s not sure what to make of Google Wave (“I sure as hell don’t know what Google Wave is going to be. I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet”) but underscored that in Twitter’s early days he wasn’t sure what that would turn out to be either. And as for Facebook, he shrugged off speculation that the social-networking giant started aping Twitter when it was unable to actually buy it.

“I don’t know how Facebook’s feature prioritization works. I suspect that they came to a lot of the same conclusions we did,” Williams said. “In the global sense, I’m pretty sure the world is big enough for Facebook and Twitter, and fundamentally I think they’re good at different things. Facebook is phenomenal at communications among people who know each other.”

Facebook ultimately purchased a far smaller streaming-information start-up, FriendFeed, this summer.

“We had a few conversations with our friends in Palo Alto (Facebook) and ultimately I just didn’t see a reason to sell if that opportunity would have presented itself because it’s not the point,” he continued regarding the failed acquisition. “The point is really to see what we can build. We believe very strongly in that at Twitter, and enabling the open exchange of information is a good thing for the world.”

It’s his usual schpiel. Aside from the Nirvana-era haircut, there wasn’t a whole lot to tweet about here.

Originally posted at The Social

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Not much to tweet about in Twitter CEO talk



WordPress makes blogs more mobile-friendly

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Wptouch

WPtouch from WordPress.

(Credit:
Wordpress)

In an attempt to make its blogs more mobile-friendly, WordPress has launched two themes that will automatically be displayed when a WordPress.com blog is accessed from a cell phone, the company announced Tuesday.

The type of mobile phone a user employs dictates what the different blogs will look like, the company said in a blog post. A modified version of WPtouch will be displayed on phones with “modern Web browsers like those on the iPhone and Android phones,” the company wrote. A second, unnamed theme from an old version of WordPress Mobile Edition will be displayed on all other mobile devices.

The themes will be displayed automatically, regardless of the themes used for normal browsing.

According to WordPress, those who access WordPress.com blogs from their iPhone or Android-based devices will be able to access the particular blog’s “posts, pages, and archives.” WPtouch will also support AJAX-based “commenting and post-loading.” Header images will be scaled to fit the device’s screen.

Those accessing blogs on other phones won’t be treated to all the bells and whistles. According to the company, those visitors will see a simple page that focuses mainly on loading blog content as quickly as possible.

The decision to automatically display two themes was rooted in the success of mobile devices, WordPress said in the blog post. So far, the company said, mobile devices have helped its WordPress.com blogs generate 60 million page views per month. But content was loading slowly or, in some cases, not at all. By automatically displaying these two themes, WordPress can limit those issues.

If you’re a WordPress.com blogger and you want to learn more, click here.

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WordPress makes blogs more mobile-friendly



Online cancer-fighting inititive sets Guinness record

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

#BeatCancer, a charitable campaign that launched at the BlogWorld & New Media Expo, started making its way around the social Web last week. The goal was to set a new Guinness World Record for the most social mentions in a 24-hour period while raising cash for cancer organizations. Users were asked to include the #BeatCancer hash tag in tweets, Facebook status updates, and blog posts.

According to Everywhere, the social-media communications firm behind the charitable event, 209,771 social messages were sent during the 24-hour period ending 9 a.m. PDT on October 18. The campaign tallied more than 100 million impressions. Both figures set new Guinness World Records.

Most importantly, the organization was able to raise more than $70,000 from sponsors eBay/PayPal and MillerCoors Brewing Company. The companies donated one cent for each tweet, status update, or blog post that featured #BeatCancer. There have been more than 620,000 mentions of #BeatCancer as of this writing.

The idea for #BeatCancer came from Everywhere’s managing partner and cancer survivor Tamara Knechtel. She said in a statement that her company wanted to use “social media for social good.” It looks like she succeeded.

If you’re interested in getting in on the #BeatCancer donations, you still can. Everywhere said that it plans to keep the program running. Like before, any tweet, blog-post mention, or Facebook status update containing the #BeatCancer hash tag will send one cent to cancer organizations.

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Online cancer-fighting inititive sets Guinness record



Yahoo widgets for the iTunes fanatic

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

If you’re a frequent iTunes user, you’re probably looking for some helpful tools that will allow you to get more out of the software. If so, you might want to check out Yahoo Widgets. They’re simple, fast applications that run on your desktop to provide a little more functionality than you’ll find in iTunes itself.

To save you from doing all the footwork yourself, I’ve compiled a list of some really neat Yahoo widgets that extend the functionality of iTunes. Let’s check them out.

Music time

iPhones: If you’re wondering what the top songs are on iTunes at any time, iPhones is for you.

iPhones is designed like an iPhone. It displays the top 10 albums and songs, as well as new releases, featured content, and more. When you click on one of those options, you’ll be brought to the song’s individual listing page in iTunes. There’s not much more to the app than that.

iPhones

iPhones shows off all the top content on iTunes.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

iTunes Alarm Clock: If you want to personalize alarms and reminders with your favorite songs, try out the iTunes Alarm Clock widget.

iTunes Alarm Clock is what you might expect: an alarm clock that uses your music to wake you up or alert you to an event. In the app’s preferences, you can set the alarm, choose any song you want from your catalog, and have it play at a specified volume. It’s an extremely simple app, but I found it useful.

iTunes Alarm Clock

iTunes Alarm Clock is what you might expect.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

iTunes Bar: iTunes Bar is simple: it adds a taskbar to your desktop, allowing you to control iTunes without opening the application.

When you start using iTunes Bar, the app will display a particular track’s artwork. Above that, you’ll find a bar that displays the track’s singer and name. You can turn the volume up or down, change songs, shuffle tunes, access your playlists, and more. It’s like having all the most often used features of iTunes with you when it isn’t up. It’s highly useful.

iTunes Bar

iTunes Bar gives you control over your favorite songs.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

iTunes Companion: Unless you purchased a track in iTunes, finding the album art for all those other songs can be time-consuming. But with the help of iTunes Companion, all those headaches go away.

iTunes Companion analyzes the song you’re playing and automatically finds its album art on Amazon.com. If it can’t find the album art, you can search for it yourself and drag-and-drop the image into the widget. That drag-and-drop option worked beautifully, in my experience. The app also features song lyrics. All that content can be quickly downloaded into your iTunes library, making the art and lyrics available anywhere you listen to the song. It’s a great app.

iTunes Companion

iTunes Companion is a really helpful app.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

iTunes Remote: If you’re having trouble controlling the songs in your iTunes library, iTunes Remote is the tool to use.

Once downloaded, the widget displays a remote that lets you play or pause songs, skip through tracks, or shuffle tunes. There isn’t much to it, but thanks to the ability to place it over any window on your computer, you can quickly play the songs you want without much trouble.

iTunes Remote

iTunes Remote helps you sift through songs.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

SongWidget: SongWidget is easily one of the most capable widgets in this roundup. It allows you to do much more than simply control iTunes.

SongWidget recognizes all the tracks you’re playing in iTunes. It gives you the option of playing or pausing songs, and skipping to find the song you want. But where SongWidget shines is in all the extras. The app provides a direct link to the track’s Amazon MP3 page, customer reviews, and (my favorite feature) YouTube videos of the songs you’re listening to. When you click on that option, the video is automatically played in your browser. If you like a particular track, you can even search for the artist on Google. I really liked SongWidget.

SongWidget

SongWidget displays all kinds of useful information.

(Credit:
Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET)

My top three

1. SongWidget: With so many neat features, SongWidget is a must-see.

2. iTunes Companion: iTunes Companion makes finding album art and lyrics much easier.

3. iTunes Alarm Clock: iTunes Alarm Clock is simple and easy to use. I like it a lot.

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Yahoo widgets for the iTunes fanatic