Tag Archives | TIME

Ask.com Lives!

In my new Technologizer column for TIME.com, I write about Google alternatives, including Bing and Blekko. I also say I’m sorry there aren’t more of them: Among both big longtime Google rivals and startups, there seems to be a widespread assumption that Google has the search-engine market locked up and investing in core search-engine technology is therefore pointless.

One of those big longtime Google rivals is Ask.com, which announced last week that it’s going to cease work on its own search engine, use one provided by an unnamed third party, and focus on its Q&A service. Yesterday, I met up with Ask CEO Doug Leeds here at the Web 2.0 Summit conference in San Francisco, and we talked a bit about the company’s change in focus.

Leeds, first of all, said that he was sorry that it didn’t make sense for Ask to continue to build its own search engine from scratch. He pointed out, accurately, that Ask had a history of doing inventive stuff that later showed up in in its larger competitors. (Parts of this 2007 Ask redesign look like a blueprint for Google and Bing in 2010.) He said that made it tough for a smaller site such as Ask to compete based on pure innovation, and factored into the company’s decision to outsource search.

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Microsoft. Mojo. Discuss!

My weekly Technologizer column for TIME.com is about Microsoft, and whether it can regain the mojo it had back when the tech universe unquestionably revolved around the PC. The jury is still very much out. But between Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, Bing, and Internet Explorer 9, the company is less the sleeping giant it was a few years ago, and more of a giant running at a decent clip–for a giant, I mean–and in the right general direction, at least.

Of course, I could have written another seven hundred words on stuff Microsoft apparently hasn’t figured out yet. It hasn’t articulated a plausible strategy for tablets, for instance–by which I mean that “Windows 7 is the best tablet operating system” just isn’t going to cut it. (In this case, I suspect there’s a very strong chance that the company is closer to having its act together than its public statements would suggest, and just doesn’t want to say much until it has more to show.) I also think that the company is still struggling with the whole concept of low-cost browser-based Office suites; it doesn’t want to be the company that proves it’s possible to build one so good that traditional desktop-based Office looks unnecessary.

Anyhow, here’s a silly little poll. Please take it and share further thoughts in the comments…


Technologizer, Now in Convenient Wood-Pulp Form

If you pick up the issue of TIME magazine that came out today–it’s cover dated November 1st, with the cover story “How to Restore the American Dream”–you’ll find a name you may know on page 75: mine. Actually, two familiar names, since it’s my byline appearing on Technologizer’s first appearance in print. (The article is an updated version of a TIME.com column I did recently on Internet TV boxes–Apple TV, Roku, Google TV, and the upcoming Boxee Box.)

As much fun as it is to write for the Web, it’s fun for the world of Technologizer to burst off the Internet and into a magazine, too–and I couldn’t ask for a cooler home than TIME. Buy a few copies and tell your friends!


Facebook: How to Love It (or Leave It)

Hey, it’s Tuesday, the day that TIME.com publishes the original Technologizer column which I write for it each week. The new one is titled “A Five-Step Program for Facebook Happiness,” and  I was moved to write it after Facebook introduced a new Groups feature last week that managed to be simultaneously neat and annoying. It dawned on me that while I sometimes grouse about the site–especially its chaotic approach to introducing new features–I’m ultimately a fan, because I’ve figured out how to make it work for me. In this column, I share some tips for making it work for you. (Or acknowledging that it doesn’t work for you: Quitting Facebook is a perfectly defensible decision, although there seem to be a lot more people who say they will leave than actually pull the trigger…)


iPhone vs. Android: The State of the Smartphone Wars (and More to Come)

It’s Tuesday, so there’s a new Technologizer column up over at TIME.com. This one’s on iPhone vs. Android, and as I wrote it yesterday, I realized that I had bitten off a pretty gigantic topic for one 700-word column. It ended up being a 1,000 word column, but even then, I could have written on for another 2,000 or 3,000 words. Considering how fast both platforms are changing, the shelf life of this column will be short, so it’s a topic I’ll come back to repeatedly.

Actually, I might return to the smartphone wars as soon as next week. I got an e-mail from a reader who assumed that the fact I don’t mention Windows Phone 7 in the column was a sign I was a Microsoft hater. Nope–I just chose to focus on the big battle well underway between two platforms that are already on the market. I’ll be at the Windows Phone 7 launch in New York next Monday–stay tuned for live coverage of it, and for lots more thoughts about Windows Phone and its chances of success.


Internet Explorer 9: Finally, a 21st Century Browser From Microsoft

My Technologizer column for TIME.com is up: It’s a look at the Internet Explorer 9 beta:

Last week, Microsoft unveiled the first beta release of Internet Explorer 9, or IE9 for short. It’s easily the most impressive browser upgrade to hail from Redmond, Wash., since the original skirmishes with Netscape. And I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that it’s the first one the company has hatched since its scariest current competitor, Google, got into the browser business by launching Chrome two years ago this month.

Read the whole column here.

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Technologizer on TIME.com

I mentioned a month ago that I’d be writing a weekly column for TIME.com starting in September. Well, here we are: My first column is live, and new ones will show up each Tuesday. I’ll give you a heads up as they appear.

Column #1 is about how tough it’s going to be for the result of the industry to build iPad competitors that are, indeed, competitive. It’s called “Will the First Real iPad Rivals Please Show Up?

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TIME and Me

Neat news: Starting next month, I’ll be contributing to TIME.com, including writing a weekly tech column. It should be a lot of fun–I’ll let you know when my stuff starts to show up there…


TIME’s Games of the Year: Some Shockers from the Mainstream Media

timegamingTIME magazine has delivered its top 10 list for Games of the Year, and I’m not the only one who’s surprised.

The indie darling Braid ranked second,  beating out big budget sequels to Rock Band and Gears of War. There’s also an iPhone Game (Fieldrunners) and a Flash game (Hunted Forever) in the mix.  If you’re curious, Grand Theft Auto IV was picked as the winner.

Overall, this year’s choices look smarter than 2007’s snoozer of a list, and Cole Stryker at 61 Frames Per Second rightly suggests that this represents “a meaningful shift in the way media evaluates games.”

It reminds me of a personal anecdote from a few months ago. A representative from The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric sent me an e-mail saying they were about to air a series on video games, and would I mind posting about it on my personal blog. Now, the Mainstream Media has a reputation for being unkind in their portrayal of video games and gamer culture, so my first reaction, without reading the rest of the e-mail, was to get on the defensive.

But when I read about the stories this rep was peddling, I found them to be fairly tame, and certainly pro-gamer in their coverage. One story discussed gaming’s  positive effects on children. Another talked about Spore, and the third featured Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry’s thoughts on how Rock Band 2 helped him bond with his son. Behind the curve? Sure, but it was a far cry from the usual “video games will eat your children” angle.

It gave the distinct whiff of an olive branch. After all, gamers had staged a massive backlash less than a year ago against a television pundit, who blasted one of 2007’s best games without playing it. Mass Effect gained notoriety for including a sex scene with partial nudity, and when Cooper Lawrence appeared on Fox News to decry the game, the result was an Amazon Bomb — a barrage of zero-star ratings for Lawrence’s latest book. She later apologized, telling the New York Times that she “misspoke’ about the game.

Since then, we’ve seen a terrific profile of Gears of War 2 designer Cliff Bleszinski in the New Yorker, this series of stories from Katie Couric’s program and now Time’s top 10 list. Sure, there was some hysteria over Grand Theft Auto IV, but that’s just tradition at this point.

I’d like to think there is a change in mainstream games coverage on the horizon, and less as a result of threats from angry gamers and more from a desire to participate in thoughtful reporting and criticism. Either way, it’d be great to see even more of it.

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