Someone at Sony is a serious cat lover, and we know this because they've gone and assembled a team tasked with building a lifelogging device for felines. It's basically a collar with a camera, acceleration sensor, GPS, and a few other goodies designed to record what your cat Peaches is doing and where she's doing it.
Ready for the kicker? Sony's cat collar can be used with Twitter to automatically posts comments based on what's going on. Using Bluetooth, data is first whisked over to your PC, where the software then logs into your cat's Twitter account (Peaches does have a Twitter account, right?) and posts an update.
Shown off in prototype form, the current version only uses fixed phrases, of which there are 11 so far. You might see an update that says "Meals taste better after a walk," for example, or "This tastes good" when your cat is eating.
In a blog post on Friday, Twitter announced it had acquired Cloudhopper, a small SMS technology company and the second acquisition by the microblogging service so far this month.
"Over the last eight months we have been working with a startup called Cloudhopper to become one of the highest volume SMS programs in the world—Twitter processes close to a billion SMS tweets per month and that number is growing around the world from Indonesia to Australia, the UK, the US, and beyond," Twitter said.
Twitter will use the Seattle-based Cloudhopper acquisition to help connect directly to mobile carrier networks around the world. The microblogging service will also retain Cloudhopper's two-man development team, Twitter said.
Google launched Buzz just a few months ago, but it's already looking grim for the Twitter competitor. Media analytics firm PostRank conducted a survey of Buzz content and found that fully 90% of the content comes from automated (or bot) accounts. That works out to 63% of Buzz content coming direct from a linked Twitter account, and 27% is from an automated RSS feed.
So why is it that Buzz isn't catching on? It seemed to make sense on the surface. Gmail has a large user base and many people kept their contacts there. The early security issues most likely scared some users off. Add to that the still cumbersome commenting system, and inbox cluttering capacity, and many people probably turned it off. The only bright spot is that almost 11% of content on Buzz is unique to it. However, we suspect much of that could be made up of comments.
Do you still use Buzz? If not, let us know why. Security concerns? Or do you just not need another social networking tool?
Concerned about your carbon footprint? Spend more time tweeting and less time Googling. Quirky as it may seem, Raffi Krikorian, a developer for Twitter's Platform Team, has crunched some numbers and found that using Twitter is better for the environment than using Google.
According to Krikorian, each tweet sent consumes about 90 joules, or 0.02 grams of CO2. On a larger scale, there are some 50 million tweets sent on any given day, which works out to about a metric ton of CO2.
A single Google search, on the other hand, consumes about 1 kilojoule and emits 0.2 grams of CO2. So what does it all mean? That "we can do better," apparently.
See all of what Krikorian had to say on the matter in this video (NSFW - language) and skip to the 3m15sec mark.
Yes, we actually made an "All Your Base" reference, and trust us, we feel terrible about it. But it was the first thought that came to mind when we caught wind that the Library of Congress had acquired every public tweet ever made. That's right, all your spelling errors -- intentional or otherwise -- and witty 140-character musings are now forever preserved in the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States.
"It is out pleasure to donate access to the entire archive of public tweets to the Library of Congress for preservation and research," Twitter announced on its blog. "It's very exciting that tweets are becoming part of history. It should be noted that there are some specifics regarding this arrangement. Only after a six-month delay can the tweets be used for internal library use for non-commercial research, public display by the library itself, and preservation."
This 'only' includes public twitter messages and not direct messages or the "tiny percentage of accounts that are protected." According to Twitter, 105 million registered users send out some 55 million tweets a day, "and that number is climbing sharply."
Twitter's challenge has never been about finding users. According to comScore, the microblogging service had 22.3 million unique visitors in March, an increase of 524,000 from one year ago. And that doesn't even include the millions of users who access Twitter from third-party smartphone and Web applications.
The challenge, then, has been about turning those usage numbers into revenue. Twitter has so far relied on cash infusions from investors and some deals to license its stream of posts to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, but that's about to change. Twitter this week unveiled an advertising platform called Promoted Tweets, finally answering the question of how Twitter plans to turn a profit.
The way it works is users will see these Promoted Tweets when searching for keywords that advertisers have purchased to link to their ads. A handful of companies are already on board with this, including Best Buy, Virgin America, Starbucks, and Bravo.
"The idea behind Promoted Tweets is that we want to enhance the communications that companies are already having with customers on Twitter," said Dick Costolo, Twitter's chief operating officer.
These ads will appear at the top of the search results, even if it was written much earlier, and in small type. Roll over the message and the post will turn yellow. Companies will also be able to enter the conversation should things take a turn for the worse. For example, a movie studio could link to positive reviews if a flick is getting a negative reaction on Twitter.
Fans of Twitter who own a BlackBerry can cast aside any lingering feelings of Android or iPhone OS envy. Why so? The uber popular microblogging site has teamed up with Research in Motion to develop a Twitter app for BlackBerry, which is now available for download.
"When you talk about messaging and mobile phones, BlackBerry immediately comes to mind and it was no surprise to us that it has become one of the most popular mobile platforms for Twitter around the world," Twitter's Kevin Thau wrote in a blog post.
The app features real-time BlackBerry push of Twitter direct messages, camera and photo gallery integration, browser integration for Tweeting links, a customizable interface for changing fonts and hiding toolbars, notifications of @mentions, the ability to search for users, content, and trending topics, and a few other odds and ends.
When Twitter was first developed, the microblogging service built up a following mostly concentrated in San Francisco. Boy how times have changed. According to Matt Sanford, lead engineer for Twitter's International team, the social networking site is seeing phenomenal growth around the globe.
Over 60 percent of registered Twitter accounts originate from outside the US, Sanford notes, including some from smaller countries like the Vatican City. Technically, there's an even an account that originated from outer space.
Part of Twitter's International success has come from making the service available in different language. When Twitter was made available in Spanish, for example, Sanford says the site saw a 50 percent boost in signups from Spanish-speaking countries. World events also have played a big role, such as the Chilean earthquake, in which signups shot up 12000 percent, almost all of which were from those who use Spanish as their primary language.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Sanford said. "Twitter's realtime information network gets more useful as our users grow more diverse and we're continually impressed with the results."
Google Buzz is making all the wrong noises. It has been the talking point among privacy and digital rights activists ever since it launched. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a non-profit privacy advocacy group, wasted little time in highlighting several privacy issues with Buzz in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In fact, it went ahead with the complaint despite Google making some crucial changes to address some of the major concerns.
Now, Google's failure to make Buzz an opt-in service has landed the company in further trouble. This time around, a bipartisan group comprising 11 congressmen has formally raised the matter with the FTC. "We are writing to express our concern over claims that Google's 'Google Buzz' social networking tool breaches online consumer privacy and trust. Due to the high number of individuals whose online privacy is affected by tools like this—either directly or indirectly—we feel that these claims warrant the Commission's review of Google's public disclosure of personal information of consumers through Google Buzz," they wrote in a letter to the FTC. Google would want to avoid a probe by making Buzz an opt-in service.
The real victim here might be Fancois Cousteix, an unemployed Frenchman who goes by the online handle "Hacker Croll." Sure, he's accused of hacking into Twitter and poking around the accounts of President Barack Obama and singers Britney Spears and Lily Allen, but he's a nice guy - just ask him.
"I'm a nice hacker," Cousteix told France 3 television on Thursday, a day after he was released from police questioning.
According to "Hacker Croll," there was no malicious intent, and in fact he wanted to warn Internet users about data security. By breaking into celebrity and high profile accounts. On Twitter.
"He says it's the challenge, the game, that made him do it," said Jean-Yves Coquillat, prosecutor in Clermont-Ferrand, where the suspect will go to trial in June for hacking.
Though he didn't profit from the hacked accounts, Cousteix stands to serve up to two years in prison and a fine of nearly $41,000 if convicted on the charge of breaking into a data system.