April 25, 2010

HOW TO: Turn Your Android Phone Into a Killer MP3 Player

So, you’re an Android mobile device owner who also likes music. Welcome to the resistance!

We all know That Other Company has a pretty tight marketing grip on the digital music scene, and all that is cool, but your Hero, Droid or Nexus One is not only your best friend — it’s a killer music-playing device.

Here’s how to transform your Android-powered machine into an amazing MP3 player for you and your friends to enjoy.

1. Grab Your Music

First, you’re going to want to get your massive music collection onto your device. We’ve found great tutorials and step-by-step instructions all around the web for doing this. Here are some good links if you own a Droid, a Hero, a Nexus One, an Eris or a G1/Magic/Dream. If your device isn’t listed here, just do a quick web search for your device’s name and terms such as “get music library.” We road-tested the Droid instructions, and they worked like a charm.

Of course, if you can’t find your USB cable to connect your device to your computer, you can always try WebSharing File/Media Sync. For $2.99, this 4.5-star rated app lets users upload and download files, including music, between a mobile device and a computer through a WiFi connection.

2. Sync With iTunes (Optional)

If you’re already an iTunes user, and you don’t want the hassle of lurking through forums, migrating your library or dealing with DRM issues, we recommend you check out doubleTwist. This genius app, which is billed as “the cure for iPhone envy,” will let you port your iTunes library to any device. Cheeky, just like the app’s ad campaign.

Also, if you’re a really big iTunes junkie and don’t like the Android interface for music, check out bTunes Music Player. This app costs $1.49, is rated 4.5 stars on the five-star scale, and is in the 1,000-5,000 downloads range.

3. Download New Tunes For Free

There are quite a few apps on the Android Market for getting new tunes without visiting the Amazon music store. Music Junk is a popular title with a 4-star rating and between 10,000 and 50,000 downloads to date. This app allows users to search, download and store any song for free.

You could also use TubeDroid, a $1.99, 4.5-star app, to download YouTube videos (or just the audio alone) to your media library.

Of course, use these apps at your own risk — downloading free music from sites in search results and YouTube can be a legal gray area in terms of copyright.

If discovery is your middle name, and you’re into finding new music from indie and underground scenes around the world, you might want to check out New Music Junky. For £2.50 (that’s $3.84), users can get music from unsigned artists “before DJs even get it,” as the creators claim. They also offer to e-mail tracks if needed.

4. Stream Audio

Of course, Pandora for Android is free, popular, and highly rated in the Android Market. Pandora users will have access to their usual stations. PlayMe is another free, streaming solution with a library of three million tracks, all on-demand.

If you don’t mind paying for your streaming media, StreamFurious for $5.99 ranks high on many lists. This app is great if you’re looking for a lightweight app to stream radio content, from music, to ESPN, to NPR and more. DroidLive, a popular 4.5-star app, costs $3.99 and streams music and online radio in a plethora of formats, with great search and tagging capabilities built in as well.

5. Get the Right Peripherals

Whether you’re listening alone or with friends, you want the best sound you can get. Essentially, any 3.5mm jack should work with your device (G1 owners will also need a USB to stereo adapter). From iPod earbuds to top-of-the-line audio docks, you’ve got a wide range of options.

For personal listening, we’ve heard great things about Bang & Olufsen Earphones, which are reputed to be of excellent quality as well as comfortable and stylish. And we’ve always had a soft spot for Skull Candy’s vibrant line of headgear, which includes earbuds and headphones.

When it comes to sharing music with others, you could go for Bose quality for less than $100 with a pair of handsome graphite speakers. If you’re going for something more compact, we love this Altec Lansing speaker.

6. Customize Your Tunes for Your Lifestyle

Want to turn a snippet of one of those tunes into a ringtone? Try RingDroid. It lets you edit your favorite songs or record your own sounds to create custom ringtones right from your phone.

And if you hate waking up to an annoying alarm sound, you’ve got to try the 4 star-rated Playlist Alarm. You can create multiple custom playlists from your device’s library of tunes and wake up in delight every morning… or afternoon, whatever. If insomnia is your problem, you could also try MusicSleep, a $1.59, 5-star app that lets you set a timer and listen to your tunes as you drift into slumber.

Those are a few tips, tricks and apps we can recommend for putting all your iClone friends to shame. Android owners, what are your favorite music apps in the Market? Let us know in the comments.

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April 20, 2010

Google Acquires Stealth Startup Founded by Ex-Apple Employees

Google has acquired Agnilux, a very secretive stealth startup founded by former Apple employees that reportedly was working on new server technology.

The company was founded by a group of engineers from P.A. Semi, which was acquired by Apple in April 2008 for $278 million — their technology is what powers the Apple iPad’s A4 microprocessor.

After the acquisition, several employees left Apple to found Agnilux, including Amarjit Gill, the former EVP of Sales and Business Development for P.A. Semi. Very little is known about the startup, with a recent report from NYT’s Bits Blog uncovering only that it’s working on some type of server and that it has a partnership with Cisco.

A Google (Google) spokesperson told us the following: “We’re pleased to welcome the Agnilux team to Google, but we don’t have any additional information to share right now.”

Google could be using Agnilux to upgrade or enhance its server technology. The search giant owns hundreds of thousands, if not millions of servers to power the world’s search queries. Any improvement in efficiency would be a boon to Google’s bottom line.

The acquisition was first reported by peHUB. Agnilux’s website has been taken down since the report.
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Hitler “Downfall” Parodies Removed from YouTube

Hitler “Downfall” Parodies Removed from YouTube

The movie studio responsible for the award-winning, German-Austrian film Downfall (German: Der Untergang) has asked YouTube to take down several videos from the massively popular subtitled “Hitler finds out…” meme, and the site has complied.

Search YouTube and you’ll still find hundreds of Downfall parodies, but click through to some of the bigger ones and you’ll now get the message, “This video contains content from Constantin Film, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.”

According to TechCrunch, the first Downfall parody to be taken down was the one about the iPhone 4G leak, but other popular parodies followed. At four million views, “Hitler Gets Banned from Xbox Live” was one of the most watched and thus among the casualties. The remaining videos might get taken down soon as well.

Each parody video takes a scene from Downfall in which Hitler throws a tantrum when he learns that he cannot win the war. Fake subtitles are then applied to make it appear as if he’s having a tantrum about something else. The topics have ranged from Michael Jackson’s death to Hitler learning that he’s the subject of an out-of-control YouTube video meme.

Downfall director Oliver Hirschbiegel told New York Magazine that he laughs at the parodies. “You couldn’t get a better compliment as a director,” he said. Unfortunately, Constantin Film’s legal team isn’t as easygoing about it.
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April 14, 2010

Xperia X10 Available at Telstra Come May 4

Wireless carrier Telstra recently announced plans to launch another Android-based mobile phone, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. Australian users will be able to enjoy the features and capabilities of this handset starting with May 4, and those interested in the Xperia X10 can head to the carrier's website now to register for updates on the matter.

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 comes to the market with a 4-inch touchscreen display, it is powered by a fast 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and users will enjoy Google's Android 1.6 operating system on it (the platform is upgradeable to 2.1). Popular apps from the Internet giant, including Gmail and Google search, are also present with the device, along with a series of solutions from Telstra, such as Mobile FOXTEL, Whereis Navigator and Yellow Pages Mobile.

“A piano black finish, metal highlights and a stunning 4-inch screen make the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 one of the most distinctive looking smartphones available. Telstra Next G customers will also be able to personalise their Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 by selecting from thousands of free and paid-for applications available from the Android Market - including games, transport apps, productivity tools, fitness apps and news services,” Telstra Executive Director, Mobility Products, Ross Fielding said.

The specifications list of Xperia X10 includes an 8.1-megapixel photo snapper with auto focus, smile detection, face recognition, video recording, or 16x digital zoom, Bluetooth A2DP, TrackID, microSD memory card slot for additional storage space (an 8GB card included in the package), Assisted-GPS, Wi-Fi, 3.5mm audio jack, and support for Microsoft Exchange Active Sync, IM, MMS, SMS. The phone measures 119 x 63 x 13mm and weighs in at 135g.

When launched on May 4, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 will be available for free on Telstra's $110 Ultimate plan, which offers 150MB of data each month, for 24 months. Users will be able to acquire the device for free on the $99 cap plan for 24 months too, while those interested in getting the phone without a contract will have to pay $1099 for it.

“Two apps unique to the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 allow customers to view all of their communication or media in one screen. Timescape displays all of a customer's communication in one view including SMS, email, Facebook posts and tweets making it easier to keep up to date. Meanwhile, Mediascape allows customers to browse and access media content saved on their phone or available online - for instance on YouTube. Unique integration with the BigPond Music service lets customers view and purchase associated songs from inside the app,” Fielding added.
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Windows 7 SP1 Early Testing Under Way

Microsoft is currently cooking the first service pack to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, a release described as a minor upgrade, but an upgrade nonetheless. The first official details on Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 SP1 were shared in mid-March, 2010, but it is clear that the Redmond company is doing much more than simply offering information on upcoming SP1 features. Windows 7 SP1 Build 6.1.7601.16537 v.153 being leaked to BitTorrent trackers and warez websites is an indication that the software giant has already kicked off early testing of the service pack outside of Redmond.

After all, confirmation was already offered that the company was gearing up to offer the first taste of Windows 7 SP1. “Microsoft is preparing partners and customers for early testing of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Windows 7 SP1 will include only minor updates while Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 will offer two significant new features, enabling greater scalability and a richer user experience for desktop virtualization,” a message on the Microsoft Partner Network associated with an article titled “Microsoft Takes First Steps Toward Developing Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2” notes.

Windows 7 SP1 Build 6.1.7601.16537 v.153 (6.1.7601.16537.amd64fre.win7.100327-0053) was compiled on March 27, according to the information in the Build string. Third-party sources claim that this is a pre-Beta release of the service pack, and that Microsoft is working to produce the first fully fledged Beta.

I had a look at Windows 7 SP1 Build 6.1.7601.16537 v.153, and you can read more about this development milestone here, including viewing screenshots of the deployment process and post-installation. The leaked documentation accompanying the Windows 7 SP1 Build 6.1.7601.16537 v.153 contains additional information on the service pack, also available via the link above. Of course, neither Windows 7 RTM nor Windows Server 2008 R2 RTM actually need SP1 in order to be ready for deployment. “Continue to deploy Windows 7 now, and check back for more information in the coming months about SP1,” the company adds on the Microsoft Partner Network page.

Members of the Microsoft Partner Network can access WNS204PAL: Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Overview on the Partner Learning Center for additional details on the service pack.

“On March 18th at the Desktop Virtualization Hour, Microsoft announced that Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 were in development. Alongside this announcement, Microsoft also announced that the Dynamic Memory and RemoteFX technologies will be shipped in Service Pack 1. This live meeting will give an overview of Service Pack 1, the two new features, and how to adjust your sales conversations to take advantage. We will hold additional Academy Lives that will go deep into the new features,” it is noted in the description of the resource.
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