Today in Cloud

Open source hardware projects like Open Compute are all very well, but there are significant barriers that can make it difficult for small groups and individuals to engage in the process. Unveiled at Demo yesterday, Upverter is a SaaS solution that sets out to make it easier for virtual teams to coalesce and collaborate at a distance. It remains to be seen whether this new tool is enough to unleash a flood of creative individuals.

Apple: No Trials in the Mac App Store

If you want to provide potential customers with a function-limited version of your game so they can test it before purchase, Apple wants you to do it on your own time and in your own space. The Mac App Store will be trial- and demo-free.

FaceTime for Mac Video Demo

For those without access to a computer that can use FaceTime, or if you just haven’t had a chance to test it out, here’s a demo by GigaOM’s Chris Albrecht. As you can see from the clip, it works pretty much exactly the way it should.

Primal Makes Content Automation Almost Too Easy

Primal, which launched at the DEMO conference today, thinks its content-publication service has something extra: Its semantic tools allow publishers to create an entire site of inter-related webpages around a topic automatically. Unfortunately, this could be very useful for spammers as well as regular content publishers.

Instead of Taking Payments Mobile, How About Making Cards Smarter?

Mobile payments introduce many opportunities for innovation: better accessibility for customers, better integration with web services, flexibility and social features. One new mobile payments startup is trying to do all that without phones or phone numbers. Dynamics is coming out of stealth at DEMO this week

Try Before You Buy Comes to the App Store…Sort of

Apple has introduced a new Try Before You Buy section to the ever popular App Store. However, it’s not something that you should get yourself too excited about — the new section only highlights the free and lite applications already available within the store.

Supposed Apple Tablet Video Surfaces

Late Friday, French website Nowhereelse.fr posted a YouTube video it claims is footage of the mythical Apple (s aapl) tablet that has long been the source of many a rumor. The video is quite convincing, as you can see for yourself in the embedded clip below:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHRSDWZC_m4&feature=player_embedded]

The tablet isn’t doing any of the amazing things we’ve heard about, like acting as an e-reader for a new magazine format. Instead, its user appears to be shopping for IKEA furniture or something similar. Regardless, the UI and hardware design does look like something that Apple could’ve made. Note also the tantalizing images of past Apple products in the background, including the Apple Newton.

It could be an elaborate fake, of course, and the video quality isn’t terrific, but it isn’t bad either. So far, this is the best example I’ve seen of a tablet rumor that could turn out to be solid evidence of what’s to come from the Mac maker. Thoughts?

DEMO Video Launches: Twirl TV, Faculte, Third Iris, Zorap, SkyRoom

We’re not down at the DEMO conference in San Diego this week, but there are quite a few online video startups presenting. I wrote up Vitamin D’s smart security video software this morning, and Chris is planning to get an in-person demo (and I can see why) of Hand Eye, which syncs phones and television content via software that’s downloaded onto users’ cell phones and set-top boxes. Here are some others in the space:

Twirl TV
has built an interface for watching prime-time TV and sharing it with friends. It’s Boxee-like, with a focus on what it calls the “4-foot experience” of watching TV on a laptop set out in front of you.
Faculte is a dedicated web tool for making corporate video demonstrations. The company includes both production and hosting in its monthly subscription fees, starting from free up to $750 per month.
Third Iris’ VIASS system is a surveillance video camera that conserves resources by only recording when it detects motion and processing video in the cloud. Here’s a write-up on VentureBeat (which puts on DEMO).
Zorap makes online video chat rooms with media sharing. Looks like it requires a plug-in.
Hewlett-Packard launched SkyRoom, a $149 version of its fancy video conferencing software that accommodates up to three simultaneous users as well as rich media sharing. (VentureBeat)

An App Store for the Mac? Say Hello to Bodega

Bodega Icon

The idea of an App Store for the Mac is nothing new but finally, one company is transitioning the idea from a website to an actual application. Bodega, inspired by the Spanish word for “small convenience store,” is a freeware app that does just what we want: It acts as a storefront to lots of great applications for the Mac.

The storefront itself is organized much like a store, with applications represented by their icons residing on “shelves.” This is a bit of an adjustment, as immediately my instinct is to prefer something organized more like iTunes with a more minimal UI and a greater focus within each category of which apps are popular. In the interest of fairness to developers though, perhaps Bodega’s approach isn’t a bad one.
Applications are, as one would expect, grouped by different categories (audio, entertainment, etc.). At the moment, these categories are a bit sparse and slow loading, but since Bodega hasn’t reached 1.0 status yet, I’m betting that they are still working hard on performance improvements. Read More about An App Store for the Mac? Say Hello to Bodega

Media Production on a Budget: Adobe Creative Suite Alternatives

adobe_cs4

OS X has long been labeled the platform for “creatives,” though in recent years it’s finally becoming known for more than that. Adobe’s (s adbe) Creative Suite is generally regarded as the crown-jewel of digital design, and they’re priced to match.

So what if you’re a cash-strapped creative who wants to find some alternatives to Adobe’s popular suite of applications? Here’s a look at several great options that run at a mere fraction of the cost of a Creative Suite package.
Before we begin, we should identify the core applications of the Adobe Creative Suite.

  • InDesign – Page and print layout
  • Photoshop – Image retouching and alterations
  • Illustrator – Vector graphics
  • Dreamweaver – Web development editor
  • Fireworks – Graphics drawing and web optimization
  • Flash – Animated and programmable graphics
  • Premiere – Video editing and creation
  • After Effects – Motion graphics and modeling

First, the bad news. Adobe Flash is unique and proprietary enough in nature that in my hunt, no Mac alternatives were found. (Microsoft’s Silverlight may be an option, but then again, it’s an entirely different beast.) So I’m sorry to say, this post can’t help if you’ve been looking for a way to skirt the world of Adobe’s Flash editor. Also, for our purposes here, I’ve lumped Photoshop and Fireworks together, as the alternatives generally blur the lines between the two offerings. Read More about Media Production on a Budget: Adobe Creative Suite Alternatives