Weekend Update 2.20.10–Set It and Forget It Edition
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Whoa! Sorry, we may have gotten just a little over excited about Walt’s Personal Technology column this week. He responded to popular demand and submitted a full review of the magicJack. Yes, that magicJack. No one can ever accuse Walt Mossberg of not being a man of the people. So what did he find? Well, the little plastic USB dongle that ranks up there with rotisseries, Chia pets and The Clapper in the pantheon of hard-sell TV adds actually delivered on its promise. MagicJack connects via USB to a computer, and has a standard land-line telephone jack on the other end. Walt started it up, made some calls, and even tried out the customer service center, which turned out to be efficient and helpful. Among the few drawbacks were the need to use the phone number that comes with the device and the fact that it only works when your computer is on and connected to the Internet. Mossberg’s Mailbox was full to the brim this week with some pretty targeted questions about security, the grim future of the dedicated PDA and e-readers for libraries. As it turns out, running a virtual Windows machine on a Mac can lead to a very real virus if you aren’t careful. Katie’s piece at Mossberg Solution made sense of this week’s biggest question mark. What the heck is Google (GOOG) Buzz? She broke the new social network from Google down to its bare bones and explained some of the controversy surrounding how it decides who’s added to you Buzz list. The new social feature is now built into Gmail, but it seems the exact relationship between your Gmail contacts and Buzz is still being worked out. Katie nails it all with an expertly simple explanation of the service and controversies.
BoomTown started the week off with a little insider info about Micheal Dearing, the hottest angel investor you’ve never heard of. Dearing, a former eBay (EBAY) exec and current professor at Stanford’s design school, has been inside early on high-profile start-ups like Aardvark, Xoopit and Mixer Labs. Kara shared a meal with the start-up whisperer and got more out of him than most, even if he still kept pretty tight-lipped. Kara also shared some viral video love featuring some hardcore Avatar fans. We can’t tell if these live action Na’vi role players are kidding. Maybe we’ll ask their king, James Cameron, when he joins Kara on stage at the next D conference. Toward the end of the week, Kara posted about what may be the strangest love triangle of the modern era. The Facebook-Snickers-Betty White trifecta is so strange we can barely even comprehend the letters in it. It seems that Facebook users loved the Betty White Super Bowl ad for Snickers so much that they held a social media gun to Lorne Micheals’s head until he got the Golden Girl to host “Saturday Night Live.” The only thing that could unseat the Betty White triangle from weirdest social media moment of ’10 is the much rumored Barry White-KFC-America’s Next Top Model episode we’ve been hearing about. There: Rumor started.
MediaMemo led off the week with Weekend Update’s favorite sort of post. It was yet another beautiful e-mag concept, this time from Condé Nast’s Wired. The mag looked snappy, beautiful and functional–even if no one, besides maybe Stephen Colbert, has a device that can display it yet. Peter also covered the second instance of an emerging trend in the video rental business. It looks like Redbox, the ever-present rental kiosk company, has agreed to go the way of Netflix (NFLX) and keep recently released DVDs out of the rental pool in exchange for a cash break from Warner. Peter rounded things out with a post about Web TV service Hulu and the likelihood of a Hulu player for the iPad. Peter’s post explores the probability that an iPad Hulu would not be a free Hulu. This situation is pretty bounded and specific, but the deeper question is one facing a great many media companies right now. Will users be willing to pay for convenience of displaying a service on the iPad that they can get for free on there home computer, and by extension, will they pay by the app or pay for the content? Weekend Update can’t wait to see how that one shakes out.
Over at Digital Daily, John started early in the week with a quick peek at Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Phone, the new smartphone operating system from the maker of Windows Mobile and Windows Vista. As it turns out, Windows Phone looks pretty slick. The interface isn’t a shrunken version of the desktop OS, which is a very good thing. Midweek, John scaled a mountain of tweets to report from the very top. It seems that Twitter’s traffic has grown over 1,000 percent since last year, according to comScore’s (SCOR) January report. It may now be impossible to shut the flock up. To button up the week, John covered a decision by the Federal Trade Commission that allows Google to buy and sell power wholesale, just like an energy utility. Google execs insist that the move doesn’t signal their intention to enter the power arena as a utility. They just want to buy power like anyone else. After all, electricity is the raw material of Googling.
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