Bye Bye Summer

With Labor Day weekend upon us we bid summer a fond good-bye, or in Kellies’ world adieu/adios. You know I did try to talk Kellie in to just using bablefish to translate everything, but it kind of blows everything up when you do that…see? It was great to finally have some face time in Memphis this last week. This is especially true with so many new faces. Now that we are seeing temperatures in the 80’s during the afternoon instead of 6am we can enjoy being outside…

HDTV News
It has been a busy couple of weeks in HDTV news so I’ll try to keep it short. Tivo is just a couple of weeks away from releasing the long sought after Series 3 that supports HDTV and all sorts of goodies. The downside is the rumored $799 pricetag.

Football season is set for kickoff this weekend in the college ranks. UT, not U of T, the Texas team, just installed the largest HDTV display in the US. The $8 million Godzillatron is 55 feet tall and 134 wide. Rumors have it the players are dying to hook up their Xbox 360’s on this thing.

Some new technology is the use of LED’s to light DLP sets. Which will further confuse everyone when it comes to buying an HDTV. There are two sets coming this fall that have good reviews so far. Basically the LED lights are more efficient, with better contrast, longer lasting and brighter which makes for pretty pictures. The first sets are going to be just over $4,000. Samsung NuVision

If you’re looking for a big screen TV for the holidays how about the largest Plasma Display? 103”! It is 95 x 55.9” and weights a paltry 474 lbs! Oh, the cost you ask, $70K. I was trying to come up with something witty, but a $70K TV is pretty funny without my help.

AJAX
A recent review of Ajax applications put Google right at the top of several categories. In the list were: Google Calendar, Gmail, Notebook, and Spreadsheets. The only one we haven’t talked about before is Notebook. Have you ever read an article and you want to save a paragraph or two, but not bookmark the whole page? But then where do you stick the saved text? How do you keep it organized? Google, as usual, makes it so easy. In Firefox you will download a helper application that will allow you to select text and imagery and save just that piece to your Google Notebook.

You might notice that Writely, Google’s word processor is missing. Instead Zoho Writer. Google’s personalized homepage also didn’t make it in favor of some very slick creations from YouOS and Pageflakes (which is really nice).

I have to mention that the above mentioned applications are now being packaged together to businesses. I wasn’t sure it would happen but what do I know. This is ideal for small companies that don’t mind their information ending up on Google servers. They have plans in place to include an enterprise edition that would allow larger corporations to host the content internally. This is exciting stuff. I’ll never shed a tear for Microsoft, but as long as we use exchange I’ll suffer in silence.

AJAX Games
If you get busted for playing these games it better not come back to me. Remember, no flash or java games here.
Chihuahua – It is kind of a word finding game you play against other people. You use your keyboard to enter letters and delete.
Sudoku Craving – Has this fad died yet? I don’t know it is mildly addicting…I guess.
Trendio – I admit this is kind of cheesy but it is kind of like an idea stock market.
Morfik Chess – Uhh, can anyone beat these computer chess things?
Sink My Ship – You sank my battleship!

Air Fare predictions
Farecast is generating some buzz on the way it predicts the price of air fare in US cities and then recommends a purchase strategy. They offer suggestions to buy now or hold off and wait fares are dropping. I have attached some screen grabs to help explain this, but this is really one of those sites you need to visit and play around with. I really like they way they display flexible travel dates. This site does use flash as part of the Ajax implementation.
Screen 1 – Shows the fixed travel dates with a recommendation to buy now as rates could rise. You may notice the left side of the screen resembles the Yahoo Farechase model to narrow the results in real time.
Screen 2 – Shows the “Select Times” tab which is a grid view with leave and return times.
Screen 3 – Shows flexible dates in a graph. Mouseover the circles displays more information.
Screnn 4 – Displays the grid view. Clicking a square will pop open a small box with details and link to search for that fare.

And finally…
W hotels new brand “aloft” is heading out into cyberspace to build some buzz about the brand. Kudos to Rich for point this on out! There is a virtual community in the game called Second Life. In the game the brand is building an aloft hotel and allowing people to take part in the process by “using” the hotel. The designers are allowing themselves and opportunity to see the design in three dimensions. This is almost like a covert usability study.

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