Hopefully, you don't hand out your phone number to just anybody you meet on the street or online. But if you'd like to gab with people while retaining some anonymity, Jangl can hook you up. Launched today, this service provides users with virtual telephone numbers that route calls to your real phone number and messages to your e-mail in-box. Rather than being designed as a buffer between you and the masses you meet out on the town, Jangl focuses on allowing voice calls for relationships that begin on the Internet.
This privacy screen could add a safety layer if you're selling stuff or dating online . You can add Jangl widgets to your blog, MySpace account, e-mail signature, and elsewhere. Sure, you could use Skype or other VoIP services to click and call people from your computer, but most of those options are tied to a PC and could lead inadvertently to sharing more about yourself than you intend.
I found Jangl's concept tricky to grasp at first. It doesn't assign you a single phone number that anyone can dial. Instead, each Jangl user receives a different Jangl number to reach you. As this works in 31 countries throughout North America and Europe as well as in Israel, Mexico, Hong Kong and Brazil, you're spared from high long-distance fees. When you call someone's Jangl number, the recipient finds out once you leave them a voice-mail, which directs them to sign up with and respond to you via Jangl.Jangl lets people ring you without knowing your real number.
Unfortunately, if someone wants to cold call you, they only need to know your e-mail address. So if you're already tired of receiving contact requests via e-mail from users of LinkedIn and the like, brace yourself for potential Jangl voice-mail spam--especially if your e-mail is listed publicly. Just imagine the time you could waste listening to voice-mails from advertisers, suitors, or crank-calling middle-schoolers who decide to Jangl you. Of course, you can block pesky contacts permanently, but it could feel crueler to reject a voice-mail than an e-mail from a caller who seems to mean well. It's not Jangl's fault if you put your e-mail address on display , so be forewarned. At this point at least, you can't import contacts en masse from various e-mail or social networking accounts, so perhaps this will slow down potential Jangl spammers.
There are some other downsides. For instance, Jangl's 4-digit, sign-in PIN feels weak. If somebody guesses your PIN, they'd only need your real telephone number to sign onto Jangl and check out your messages and settings.
The founders of Jangl want its name to become a verb, a la Google and Photoshop. The success of their grand plan will depend upon how easy and cheap Jangl remains--and how it can minimize potential annoyances. To their credit, you don't need to hassle with any equipment or software; just visit Jangl.com to set up an account, and then click a link from a verification e-mail. You'll also need to make a call from your registered telephone. This process is simple enough, although I wish the verification note described the setup steps better.
You'll need to visit Jangl's site to organize messages and contacts, but within the next several weeks, you should also be able to check voice-mails via telephone. Jangl is currently free, but pricing plans are set to come within the next month.
To use the worst of bad plays on words, YouTube has thrown itself into the Ocean: Youth-oriented mobile carrier Helio announced Wednesday that it has souped up the YouTube video offerings for its Ocean handset.
Owners of the double-keyboard smartphone are now able to upload videos to the Google-owned service more easily, fill in various criteria for them and "geotag" them thanks to the handset's GPS capability. Additionally, the Ocean YouTube application facilitates access to some of the social-networking features previously unavailable to most mobile versions of YouTube--rating, commenting, and access to personal videos through a full log-in.
The enhanced mobile YouTube is available free of charge on the Ocean, which has a 3G mobile Web connection. It's not the first time that a handset manufacturer has touted YouTube integration--Apple's iPhone prominently features a player for the wildly popular video-sharing service, and LG makes a " YouTube phone ," the KU990 Viewty.The new YouTube on the Helio Ocean.
But Helio considers its YouTube interface to be a step above the fray, and apparently YouTube's honchos agree. "Helio has taken the mobile YouTube experience to the next level," Chad Hurley, YouTube co-founder and CEO, said in a statement from Helio. "This innovative application offers people even more customization and provides them with instant access to interact with the YouTube community whenever and wherever they go."
Helio, a joint venture between EarthLink and SK Telecom that offers a regularly changing lineup of handsets, apparently has a new phone on the way called the "Mysto." No details on the gadget are available aside from a $150 price tag and a screenshot that appeared in the December issue of hipster fashion magazine Nylon .
But even though Helio continually rolls out new gadgets and high-profile partnership deals like the YouTube application, the company's future is still up in the air. The company has yet to convince the public that its business model can succeed, especially as competitors like Amp'd Mobile have shuttered.
On Thursday, MessageLabs reported in its April Intelligence Report a marked decrease in the number of malware links connected to the Storm botnet. "It's not too often that a security company says that things are getting better," said Mark Sunner, Chief Security Analyst.
At its peak, Sunner said, the Storm botnet resided upon one million computers worldwide. That number has since come down to between 85,000 IP addresses at the end of April. He said that over the last eighteen months Storm has been constant, and never decreased according to MessageLabs research. "Other security companies have reported decreases in the past," he said because of different methods of studying the botnet, "but this is first decrease we've seen."
He credited the most recent patches from Microsoft with the decline. He said that in the weeks following the most recent Patch Tuesday there was a sharp drop off.
Given that the creators of Storm managed and maintained a constant flood of variations for more than one year, it's a little odd that they would just take their money and walk away. Sunner said that they are seeing an increase in Srizbi, named for the one of the Web sites from which is downloaded. A Trojan, Srizbi uses rootkit technology to hide on an infected machine but, like Storm, it is also known to relay spam.
Topics: Bots and botnets Tags: security , Messagelabs , Storm , botnet , malware , Srizbi Bookmark: Digg Del.icio.us Reddit cnet_news406:http://news.cnet.com/8301-10789_3-9933683-57.html
Despite a recent downturn due to missing its earnings expectations , Google is still riding high. Its stock is close to $400 a share and, in the tech world, few places are as cool to say you work.
So maybe that's why a British DJ called Flavorjenkins is petitioning for a job at the Mountain View, Calif., search giant in a unique and entertaining way: He created a music video using Google Earth .
The video shows a fictional van--then a tractor trailer--superimposed on a series of Google Earth images and driving around the streets near the dozen or so record companies Flavorjenkins sent his demo to. All of them turned him down.
But he uses the video to imagine what would happen when he does finally sign his deal: scads of money, champagne, cigars and a fast car, which he then has driving around the Google Earth images instead of the truck; paparazzi following him everywhere; shopping at Harrod's; visiting Buckingham Palace; flying on a private jet with scantily clad models; and finally landing on his own private island.
Now, these are pretty lofty goals. Especially for someone whose demo tape has been more likely to be used as a door stop or paper weight than a moneymaker. But, hey, a DJ is allowed to dream, right?
In fact, based on the success that Paul Rademacher had with his Google Maps/Craigslist mashup, HousingMaps --after which he got a job at Google, Flavorjenkins might well be on to something.
Thus, the message that floats at the top of the page throughout the video: "Dear Larry & Sergey, Brighton is so cold...I am looking for a job in the Silicon Valley. :-)"
Now that Google has acquired DoubleClick--the display advertising feather in its proverbial cap--it's time to see if the hat fits.
The $3.1 billion acquisition, which finally closed last week upon European regulator approval, gives Google a much needed boost in the market for display advertising.
Google hasn't offered many clues as to what its plans are with DoubleClick, other than to hint at layoffs . But Google pundits and executives at small ad outfits do have concerns and plenty of opinions about what the search king should do.
Google's AdSense serves up pay-per-click text ads to Web sites within its publisher network, while DoubleClick, which markets a product called Dart, places banner ads on Web sites. DoubleClick also runs an advertising exchange and a search-engine marketing business called Performics.
There are some basic conflict-of-interest questions with some of the additions to Google. As the largest search engine, Google has kept its distance from search engine optimization, or SEO, which is the science of increasing a Web page's rankings in search results. But with Performics, Google owns an SEO company.
"Even if Performics is kept completely separate from the Google search team, there's the impression that Performics might have some special 'in' with Google's non-paid search results," writes Danny Sullivan in a Search Engine Land blog post in which he urges Google to get rid of Performics.
Granted, Microsoft finds itself in the same SEO-owning boat after acquiring Avenue A/Razorfish and Sullivan poses this question to both companies: "You own the pie; do you really need to sell the pie cutters too?"
There's another conflict Google bumps up against with DoubleClick--the fact that it risks alienating publishers who don't want Google to have too much control. Google could integrate DoubleClick's Dart ad management and serving technology into AdWords to offer one unified dashboard and see into even more Web sites across the Internet."Now, if Google owns all the technology they have access to that data, they know what's being bought and sold. It puts customers in a tough situation." --Frank Addante, The Rubicon Project
"A lot of DoubleClick's customers consider Google a competitor," says Frank Addante, chief executive of The Rubicon Project, which offers a dashboard for sites to manage the more than 300 online ad networks.
"Now, if Google owns all the technology they have access to that data, they know what's being bought and sold," Addante says. "It puts customers in a tough situation."
The merger "cements Google's position as 'frienemy' with major publishers," says Jim Barnett, chief executive of Turn, an automated online ad market.
And there's the question of whether Google will continue to restrict its customers from working with third-party ad servers. "Advertisers working with Google couldn't use third-party ad serving, so a lot of people wouldn't use Google," says Michael Cassidy, chief executive of online ad network Undertone Networks.
"Our clients on DoubleClick that have contracts expiring with DoubleClick are saying it's a dead end," that it will be eclipsed by Google technology, which will impact customers, said Ruben Buell, chief executive of AdShuffle, an ad serving company.
Google also has to figure out what the best business model is for ad serving. DoubleClick charges customers for it, but Google is testing a free ad management service called Ad Manager .
Beyond the technical integration issues, the two merged companies face a culture clash. It's "Madison Avenue hipsters" meets "Silicon Valley geek types," according to Addante.
"Display is more brand advertising, more emotional," he says. "I think it's going to take Google some time to learn that side of the business because they're so data driven."
Apple could be readying a notebook trackpad that lets you practice your Rock Band form while using your Mac.
A patent application unearthed by MacRumors.com seeks protection for multitouch technology similar to that introduced by Apple on the MacBook Air's trackpad . This time, however, MacBook users could use as many as four fingers positioned in "chords" to execute different tasks in Mac OS X, such as bringing all the application windows to the front or opening up the Dashboard.A new Apple patent could bring new multitouch trackpad features to future Macs.
This could even be extended to individual tasks within applications, such as cut and paste. Those were the examples provided in the patent application, but it wouldn't be hard to imagine extending this to things like a browser, such as opening a link in a new tab or performing different tasks within iTunes.
A word of warning, as always, about patent applications: there's no guarantee that this technology will make it into a shipping product, or if it does, whether that will be out anytime soon. Still, it's clear that Apple has made developing advanced multitouch input methods a priority, as it continues to evolve the way people interact with their Macs and iPhones.
Could it be that Sprint has a heart? According to a proposed settlement for a California class action lawsuit it may just have one. Sprint announced today that if the settlement is reached the carrier will provide customers with the necessary codes to unlock their handsets for use on other carrier networks.
If enacted, the move would allow departing Sprint customers to take their phones with them when they leave the carrier. Locked phones, or handsets that are tied to one carrier, have have long dominated the U.S. market but in the last couple years the practice has earned the wrath of consumers.
The suit, which was filed last year in Northern California, alleged that phone locking is anticompetitive. Because a locked phone stops being able to make calls when a customer leaves a carrier, they are unable to use it on a new carrier unless it is unlocked. And because unlocking requires a code, customers are forced to buy a new phone when they sign up for new service.
Sprint's decision is momentous for the U.S. market, and if other carriers follow suit it could cause a huge shift in how cell phones are used here. Unlocked phones provide customers with much more freedom to use a cell phone of their choice. A Sprint spokesman said the carrier would provide the unlock codes once a departing customer's bill is paid. Also, the company would tell new customers how to obtain the unlock codes and it will allow its customer service reps to connect a non-Sprint phone to the carrier's network.
Of course there are a few catches. Like Verizon Wireless , Alltel , and U.S. Cellular , Sprint uses a technology called CDMA so only cell phones that use CDMA will be compatible with its network . CDMA phones will not work on AT&T or T-Mobile , or vice versa, because those carriers use an incompatible technology called GSM. And finally, though an unlocked Sprint handset is technically compatible with another CDMA carrier like Verizon, the new carrier would have to activate the phone for you because CDMA phones don't use SIM cards . And as of now, there's no guarantee they'll do so.
Kent German is a senior editor for cell phone reviews at CNET. When he's not testing the newest handsets on the market, he's blogging about cell phone news for Crave. In his On Call column, he answers reader questions and gives his take on the rapidly changing mobile industry. E-mail Kent .