Weekly App Store Roundup: Oct. 18, 2008

Amidst the hubbub of this week’s Apple announcements, the App Store continued to bubble away with a host of new apps joining the fray. As ever, The Apple Blog is here to separate the signal from the noise and sound off on a selection of the freshest apps to hit the store.

This time we’re casting a big thoughtful eye over Jobs, TeeDroid 3G and PuzzleManiak.
Jobs 1.0 ($4.99) – There’s been a panoply of freelancer time-tracking tools arriving at the App Store of late, many of which seem a tad on the rushed side. Jobs 1.0, though, looks to have a well-considered feature-set and a clear, concise interface.
The problem is that there are already several sites (with integrated iPhone web apps) that do the job much better and are rich in exactly the kind of features freelancers need. To name but two, Tempo and Harvest are incredibly accomplished time-trackers and in the case of the latter, handles expenses, invoices and even an OS X widget. Despite the solid feature-set, including CSV export of time-sheets, Jobs 1.0 may not be a prudent investment for the savvy freelancer looking to track time more efficiently.
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Xcel Energy: Did We Say Profit? Not When We Count Carbon

Xcel Energy will disclose in SEC filings the risks of future climate change regulation and legislation, climate-change related litigation and physical impacts of climate change. The company estimates that carbon emission would have cost $603 million last year, more than its 2007 profits.

I Want My Three Minutes Back Goes Behind the Vlogging Scene

Most documentarians tackling a somewhat obscure subculture have little guarantee that their subjects will be comfortable on camera. But by choosing to capture the lives of prominent YouTube vloggers, Chuck Potter of 3rd Career Films was spared that difficulty.

I Want My Three Minutes Back is a fantastic title for Potter’s documentary about video creators, which stars Nick “Nickynic” James, Cory “Mr. Safety” Williams and Kevin “Nalts” Nalty, and also features, among others, Phillip “sxePhil” DeFranco, Michael Buckley (What The Buck), Christine Gambito (Happy Slip), Tay Zonday, Paul Robenett (“Renetto”), and Judson Laipply (The Evolution Of Dance).

Click to see the trailer for I Want My Three Minutes Back

Click to see the trailer for I Want My Three Minutes Back

The film is currently in post-production, and according to Nalty will be released this fall. The trailer, posted last Friday, doesn’t reveal much about its point of view, beyond taking the chance to explore the intimate details of these lives. And it’s hard to imagine what Potter will be able to reveal about these guys that they haven’t already divulged to their subscribers.

However, it’s quite the lineup (lacking only Chris Crocker to achieve ultimate completeness) — the question is how many people who aren’t on YouTube actually care about the people on YouTube? Will mainstream audiences tune in? Or is this another niche documentary that never escapes its niche?

It’s 8.8.08! Five mobile methods to catch Olympic action

BasketballoniphoneIn my little part of the world, it’s now August 8th, 2008 and that means the Olympics are beginning! For some of you in other parts of the world, they already have and to be honest, I snuck in a little Olympic Football in HD yesterday. What if you’re not at a television for the next two weeks? You’ve got choices to catch Olympic action and highlights:

  • NBC’s official Olympics site offers updated information and plenty of on line viewing of live events. Note: you’ll need to install Microsoft Silverlight to watch the streams. The broadcaster also offers a solid lineup list for both television and on line coverage, both by hour and sport.
  • Download and install Orb, a free application that streams your home television content to you over the Internet. You’ll need a television tuner in a home computer to capture the signal for this solution. Jailbroken iPhones can use Orb to stream the Olympics, or any other television content, to their handset.
  • Nab a Slingbox at your local electronics retailer. The Slingbox is a solution that’s similar to Orb, but is more of a plug-and-play, consumer electronics solution. You simply connect it to your TV set and use the included software to watch content over the web. The new beta player adds a nice DVR-like function: play, pause and fast-forward up to an hours worth of content.
  • Verizon VCAST customers can tune in for daily highlights, breaking news, scores and results,features, and more.
  • Catch "one man and his camera" as Mike covers sports and tourist spots on his BeijingOlympics2008 YouTube channel.

There’s just way too much coverage to watch it all, but with these options and strategic scheduling (or heave use of a DVR), you can definitely catch plenty of Olympic action away from the television. In fact, there’s so much coverage this year, I may need to dust off my old Windows Media Center desktop for additional recording!

Viva Las Vegas! T-Mobile rolls out 3G in Sin City

TmobilelogoNo Elvis, EDGE hasn’t left the building, but it has been augmented by much faster HSDPA service in Las Vegas. T-Mobile appears to be doing a very staged 3G rollout in service areas; for example, New York, New York (the city, not the casino) saw service a few months back. Good timing too since CES is right around the corner and we need to see some customer offloading from Verizon’s EV-DO. It seems to get more clogged in January than McCarran Airport does the day after a convention.

T-Mobile says they’re on track for a 3G rollout in 20 markets by the end of 2008, but they haven’t introduced any heavy-duty hardware that can take serious advantage of the faster up- and down-link. That should be changing in the near future based on this quote from the PR: "T-Mobileplans to soon offer its first HSDPA device, along with new andcompelling data-centric, all-in-one devices that help make the most ofT-Mobile‚Äôs high-speed data network. " Read into that what you will, but I suspect we’ll see an HTC device or two with 1700 MHz support in the very near future. Any guesses on what they might be? A handheld built upon the Android platform should be in the cards, no?

Freener-g Brings Hope to Solar Rental

Freenerg LogoIt looks like Citizenr?, the pie-in-sky solar-as-service provider that aspires to “silicon to service” vertical integration, now has some competition in the world of residential solar renters. Out of Minnesota comes another solar-as-service residential provider — Freener-g, which was just awarded $1.49 million from Xcel Energy as part of the utility’s renewable development fund.

How does Freener-g (pronounced “free energy”) compare to Citizenr?? For a start, Freener-g is focusing its efforts on being a downstream installer. Also, while Citizenr? has yet to make good on one of its 25,000-plus “signed” customers, Freener-g, Ruiz told us, has just finished wiring an eight-panel “pre-pilot” house that will be going online in Minneapolis as soon as the state inspectors give it the OK, which Ruiz hopes will happen next Monday. And in my book, eight panels is better than zero. (Update: Citizenr? has a few promotional installations showcasing residential solar, but they do not yet use Citizenr? solar equipment.)
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Xcel Energy Doling Out $23M for Renewables

Xcel Logo Minneapolis-based utility Xcel Energy said today it will distribute nearly $23 million from its Renewable Development Fund to 22 separate projects. As decided by an advisory board consisting of representatives from the company, its customers, environmental groups and the Prairie Island Indian Community, more than $8 million will go into five projects that will generate renewable power, while over $14 million will go into research and development of 17 clean energy proposals. The projects and research are all over the cleantech board, including wind, hydroelectric, solar, biomass and biofuel technologies.

Xcel has doled out over $52 million to renewable energy projects since the fund’s creation in 1999. Each year since 2003 the company transfers $16 million to the Renewable Development Fund in accordance with a state statute.
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3 lessons from Marc Andreessen’s productivity heresy

Former Netscape CEO and now Ning overlord, Marc Andreessen recently posted something of a manifesto with respect to personal productivity. Given productivity is an issue dear to the hearts of WWD readers, I thought we’d take a look at some of Marc’s ideas and see if we couldn’t draw some inspiration from them.

Marc’s first suggestion is to do away with your schedule. While this is a tempting idea, and certainly one we’d all benefit from at times, it’s probably only useful for people with more than a little power in their hands, as demonstrated by Marc’s example of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Marc admits as much in his post.

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Cablevision to Fight for your DVR Rights

Is it broadcast, or is it networked TiVo? That’s (sort of) the question being dragged through the courts now, as Cablevision prepares to appeal a federal court ruling that stopped the New York-region provider from offering more potent DVR services to its customers.

Mark Cuban, among others, has called the studios who sued CableVision stupid for equating DVR functionality with alleged YouTube copyright infringements. And those with a more legal bent worried that the case could have wider, longer impacts, perhaps weakening the 1984 Supreme Court Betamax decision that let everyone use their VHS recorders without breaking the law.

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Google Helping Thai Government Censor

Google has agreed to help Thailand block parts of YouTube as an alternative to the entire site being unavailable in the country due to government outrage over clips which were deemed defamatory of its king. The site will be available to Thais, minus any offensive content.

Communications Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said that Google’s Andrew McLaughlin assured him the company could “block certain pages not to be seen in Thailand,” according to Reuters. “It will be a few days before we lift the ban on the entire site.”

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