Picnik is the leading online photo editing site serving thousands and thousands of users daily. It boasts of user friendly one click tools that guarantees users complete satisfaction with its photo perfect results! It fixes photos in just one click, uses advanced controls to fine-tune your results, crops, resizes, and rotates in real-time, tons of special effects, from artsy to fun and fast, all within your browser!
Imagine what Google (with its gazillion funding!) is going to do with this website and how they will integrate it to their other services such as Picasa… We are excited to know! Read more
In October 2009, the Federal Trade Commission or the FTC approved new guidelines on disclosure specifically targeting bloggers and celebrity endorsers.
The short of it:
The revised Guides also add new examples to illustrate the long standing principle that “material connections” (sometimes payments or free products) between advertisers and endorsers – connections that consumers would not expect – must be disclosed. These examples address what constitutes an endorsement when the message is conveyed by bloggers or other “word-of-mouth” marketers. The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose the connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.
With the latest releases of Opera, Google Chrome and Firefox continuing to push the boundaries of the web, the once-dominant Internet Explorer is looking less and less relevant every day.
But we should expect Microsoft to go on the offensive at its upcoming MIX 2010 developer conference in Las Vegas, where, it has been speculated, the company will demonstrate the first beta builds of Internet Explorer 9 and possibly offer a preview release of the browser to developers. Several clues point to the possibility that the next version of IE will include broad support for HTML5 elements, vector graphics and emerging CSS standards. If Microsoft plays its cards right in Vegas, IE 9 could be the release that helps IE get its groove back in the web browser game.
The biggest clue comes from the scheduled sessions for MIX, which takes place mid-March. There’s a two-part talk scheduled on HTML5, entitled HTML5 Now: The Future of Web Markup Today, by Opera Software’s Molly Holzschlag.
Indeed, Holzschlag tells Webmonkey she expects Microsoft to step up HTML5 support in IE9. “Look especially for Microsoft to be working on browser storage and other HTML5 features,” she said in an e-mail.
There’s also a session on IE and SVG, the vector graphics tools supported by pretty much every other browser. IE Senior Program Manager Patrick Dengler is scheduled to present on the Future of Vector Graphics for the Web.
Such a shift in thinking would be welcome. Picking on Internet Explorer Explorer is like fishing with dynamite — it’s just too easy to be fun anymore. In fact, many prominent forces on the web have stopped arguing against IE and simply started waving their hands in dismissal. It started with a few developers, but recently even Google has turned up its nose at IE, referring to it as a “non-modern” browser when talking about web standards and releasing its Chrome Frame plug-in to enable IE7 and IE8 users to run more advanced web apps. Worse, third-party developers have started to one-up Microsoft by hacking features into IE, like giving it the ability to display HTML5 video playback when none existed.
The current release, IE8, which shipped on every Windows 7 desktop in 2009, caught Microsoft up to where other browsers were in 2007 with support for CSS 2.1 and a couple of token HTML5 tools — most notably the offline storage elements. But that’s where its support for emerging standards ends.
But Sinofsky tempered his statements by saying Microsoft will continue to be “responsible” about how much it supports HTML5, so that “we don’t generate a hype cycle for things that aren’t there yet across the board for developers to take advantage of.”
While Microsoft is technically correct when it keeps saying that HTML5 isn’t finished, its failure to offer broad support for the new markup language has held IE back from the web’s cutting edge. The company has traditionally been reticent to support emerging standards, viewing them as a moving target and choosing only to concentrate on standards that have been ratified by the W3C, the web’s governing body. But delays at the W3C haven’t stopped the competition from forging ahead with HTML5, and if IE doesn’t start embracing the new laws of the land now, the browser’s dominance on the web is going to continue to crumble.
We contacted a Microsoft rep for this story, but they chose to save any further talk of IE9 until MIX.
The latest beta release of Google Chrome adds a slew of much needed privacy and content controls — as well as automatic page translation — to Google’s fast, but slightly feature-deficient browser.
The new features — which put Chrome on par with other browsers when it comes to privacy controls — are so far only available to those using the beta channel. Google says the new privacy controls will make it to the stable channel in the coming weeks. If you’d like to switch channels, and try out the new features now, head to the Chrome channel changer page.
To access the new controls in the latest release, head to the wrench menu and select “Options.” From there, click the “Under the Hood” tab and chose “Content settings.”
If you elect to disable cookies (or any of the other options) Chrome will display an icon in the URL bar which you can click to add an exception. The process is unfortunately a bit awkward, requiring you to type in the domain exceptions yourself. Choosing the “Ask me” option provides a more automated experience (and a quick lesson in just how many cookies are being set in your browser).
In a particularly nice touch, Chrome offers a link to control Flash cookies via Adobe’s setting page. Other browsers do not (without extensions) provide a way to stop these particularly pernicious cookies.
Chrome’s new features aren’t just for privacy either. The image-blocking feature could be used as a primitive ad blocker, provided you’re willing add the necessary domains. Image blocking can also be handy in situations where your internet connection speeds are slow.
Also part of the new beta release is automatic web page translation. When the language of the page you’re visiting is different from your language setting, Chrome will now offer to translate the page using Google Translate. While machine translations aren’t perfect, Google Translate isn’t bad for conveying the basics of a multilingual page.
If you’d like to take Chrome 4.1 beta for a spin, head over to the beta download page. For more details on the privacy controls, here’s Google’s video intro:
JagerMonkey will change that, handling the code that the existing Tracemonkey engine cannot.
Of course it will be some time before JagerMonkey makes it into Firefox proper. In fact, as of right now it isn’t even in the Firefox nightly builds. If you really must try it for yourself right now, you’ll find a link to the source code on the Mozilla wiki.
So far, the project doesn’t have a roadmap and the wiki page indicates that there are still many optimizations to be done, but when JagerMonkey finally lands, it may well put Firefox back on top in the web browser speed wars.
Sony’s newest catchphrase, “make.believe,” is a fitting reminder that Sony ads make no sense. Laptops take flight, PlayStations become monsters, and pitchmen state plainly that Sony TVs make you better at playing sports. Most of all—look! Play-doh bunnies!
Back when Sony had only electronics to sell, they sold them like no other—to borrow a more sensible slogan that the company recently retired. You bought a Trinitron TV because it was the best, you bought a Walkman because it was the coolest, and you told everyone else they were dumb if they didn’t do the same. “It’s a Sony!” you’d shout at any half-witted amigo who was reluctant to pay the Sony premium.
Sony worked hard to make you a part of its marketing team. They even went so far as to indoctrinate the children. When the My First Sony line was launched, it actually made sense, because it reinforced what you already believed: that you would buy in and keep on buying. Brand did matter, but only by standing for specific, high-quality products. There were 170 different Walkman models released during its first decade, sure, but this was before MP3 players, cellphones, PDAs, laptops, portable game consoles and pocket-sized camcorders. Besides perhaps a 35mm compact camera, this was the only portable gadget to buy. You knew you were getting it, so choosing which one became a connoisseur’s dilemma. Even gorillas knew this.
By the time Sony got into the movie and record business, and the iconic cassette Walkman gave way to the less iconic CD Walkman, the Sony brand became bigger than the gadgets. With the eventual exception of PlayStation, the electronics lost their own identities. That’s not to say the gadget well dried up. On the contrary, Sony released more and more, jazzing up tried-and-true businesses with progressive industrial design and catchy-sounding sub-brands. It’s not a clock radio, it’s a Dream Machine. Sony’s brand momentum carried it successfully into new areas where they really could make a superior product. In addition to the videogame consoles, this included digital cameras, portable computers and dog-shaped robots.
Sony started losing Number 1 positions in TVs, cameras and even videogame consoles, and found themselves unable to get the market leadership they assumed they’d easily grab in other areas, such as PCs or ebook readers. As they slipped, their advertising just got weirder and weirder. Ads now ranged from purely artistic—products saw hardly any airtime—to trippy—products were shown, but not in a way that a buyer could relate to—to sarcastic—where pitchmen and pitchwomen spouted nonsense and openly mocked customers, as if consciously parodying Sony’s own classic advertisements.
Thanks to the miracle of YouTube, we can see how all three of these categories failed to hit their targets.
What can you say about this category, except that who doesn’t like rainbow-colored Claymation bunnies hopping to late-’60s Rolling Stones?
If you answered “no” to the above questions, you are lying. But to drive the point of failure home, let’s hear from one of YouTube’s commenters: “It’s visually interesting but it comes across as some kind of dystopian vision of the future. An Orwellian kind of hell sponsored by Sony.” Hell. By Sony. And I am not entirely sure I ever saw anything I could actually buy.
But Will It Bite?
Another batch of ads featured real Sony products, but not in any way that helped the consumer decision. We begin with the PlayStation 3, according to this video, a dangerous, volatile and ugly beast that does… something:
Somehow they manage to convey all the tension of gaming without any of the fun. It’s violent through and through, except for that quick bit with the butterflies.
Here is the Bloggie camcorder, whose simple demonstration has been so perverted, it would cause Steve Jobs—or even Steve Ballmer—to shoot the director between the eyes:
Never mind that, on this complicated-looking copy of a Flip camera, the 270º swivel lens is the only thing everyone would figure out immediately, why does the product have to be man-sized? And what’s with the fingers guy?
In this whole mess, the most organic ad I could find was for Rolly, the short-lived zany Bluetooth music robot. I love the ad, but I actually know the product. The ad, to a lay person, would be confusing at best, and at worst would suggest a degree of interactivity that the product simply didn’t have:
F*** You, Buy a Sony
The ads that Sony should really be ashamed of, though, are the so-called expert ads, some of which ran on our own site this past holiday season. I will admit to being a fan of Peyton Manning and Justin Timberlake, but they’re not experts, and I wouldn’t trust them any more than I trust any of the other people on the so-called panel.
In the Sony Reader ad, when the poor actress has to ask the incredibly dumb question “Can I read a lot of books on this thing?” Amy Sedaris says yes and holds up her book, I Like You. It’s worth noting that unlike her brother’s works, Amy’s book is highly visual, with color photos and lots of sight gags. It’s excellent, but you would never ever read it on a Sony Reader—or on a Kindle.
In the camera ad, when the actress mentions that all the cameras look the same, baby-seal photographer Nigel Barker explains that “the technology in their cameras and camcorders makes it easy to get the best shot.” This is something every camera maker would say about their cameras. It doesn’t differentiate, and it can never be proven wrong.
During the TV ad, Peyton and Justin play pingpong. ESPN’s Erin Andrews says to a bewildered family, “You can’t fake Sony quality.” Justin chimes in with, “The more sports you watch on a Sony, the better you get. At sports.” And then a TV appears with the words HDNA scrawled across it, though the announcer says it’s called a Bravia. I don’t know what HDNA is, and I was there when they unveiled it.
In a rather ironic twist, these ads got remix treatment by the Gregory Brothers of Auto-tune the News fame. This isn’t some Gray Album bootleg, but a viral video sanctioned by Sony’s marketing department, an approval that shows Sony can make some daring choices when they want to. But was it the right move? I enjoy this remix more than any of the original ads, but it doesn’t clear up any frustration either. It is a distortion of a distortion of a message.
Don’t you feel like the Gregory Brothers know this? They openly mock the customers, and they repeat “these all seem the same” over and over—and over. I couldn’t help but flash a knowing smile when Julia Allison explains that the Sony PC is different because it has a Blu-ray drive and an HD screen. Like every other Windows laptop in that range.
Where Do They Go From Here?
When criticizing advertising, the easiest thing to do is to point to Apple as the counter example. “Well, Apple would’ve done it this way.” But truthfully, Apple achieves what most companies strive to pull off, an entertaining but earnest look at the product being sold, or a comedic vignette that drives a single sales point home. (Say what you want about Justin Long, but Hodgman’s Eeyore of a PC sure sells Macs.) Like everything else, Sony needs to focus. Instead of hiring 20 different artists to conceive of crazy shit, why not create a global ad campaign that focuses on specific actual products, and portrays their standout features in a way that doesn’t sound like it’s mocking the products or the customers? My only fear is that as Sony has less and less to brag about, this strategy will be harder to work out. Still, it’s worth a shot: Pick your best products, get closeup shots, play some baby music in the background, and tell us why we should buy them. No psychedelia, no anthropomorphic gimmicks, and no smirking.
This take is built on the same mobile OS core as Windows Phone 7 and Zune HD, powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 hardware. It’s supposedly thinner than an inch, under a pound, and about the size of a 5×7 photo when closed.
As you can see, the device seems even smaller (Update: maybe not), the interface, though still pen-based, seems less whizzy based on these stills than the wildly complex and sophisticated (or maybe just complex) interface shown earlier:
Is Courier progressing or regressing? It’s hard to tell—we’re not sure where in Courier’s development these concepts are from vs. our initial reportage. But if they are newer, a few things stand out.
• Courier’s grown to be more realstic and less different, which is not uncommon for mind-bogglingly radical-seeming products. (Our mind was blown by the original interface, anyway, for better or worse.)