Facebook is actively trying to block Facebook Friend Exporter, a Google Chrome extension that lets you export the list and contact info of your Facebook friends for use in other services, the extension developer Mohamed Mansour claims.
“Facebook is trying so hard to not allow you to export your friends. They started to remove emails of your friends from your profile by today July 5th 2011. (The extension) will no longer work for many people,” Mansour wrote on the extension’s homepage.
The Facebook Friend Exporter is a simple tool that lets you grab phone numbers, e-mails and other data from your Facebook friends, and directly import them into Google Contacts. The current version doesn’t work anymore, but the author promises to build and maintain new version that uses a different design.
CNET, however, notes that the tool is probably against Facebook’s Terms of Service, which states: “you will not collect users’ content or information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our permission.”
Google, an online giant but a heavy underdog in the social networking race, has taken the opposite stance, having recently launched Takeout, a tool that lets you export all your data from various Google services.
A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
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Chrome extension Exfm is out with a new iPhone app that deftly blends expert curation with friends’ suggestions for truly immersive music discovery.
Exfm launched last year under the moniker ExtensionFM and touted itself as an easy way to scrape music blogs for all the free MP3s they offer. Those MP3s were then organized into playable tracklists, letting you listen to a constant stream of jams without having to actually read reviews.
The company later relaunched the plugin as Exfm, a version 2.0 packed with new features, including integration with Last.fm, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. Now users could collect MP3s as they browsed and share them via their social networks. They could also follow other users and tastemakers and see what tunes were on others’ radars.
The free iOS app is basically the mobile iteration of that service, a new tool that lets users take all the music they’ve discovered on the go, as well as get suggestions from other users. And, of course, all the tracks can be purchased in-app.
Here’s how the whole deal works: If you don’t already have Exfm installed, do so. You’ll still need the web version to get the complete experience (the mobile iteration does not yoink MP3s from blogs you visit on your iPhone). Go about your regularly scheduled surfing, letting the web plugin pluck the sweet musical fruit from the wordy blog trees. Listen to jams via the plugin and “Note” those that you like — this is basically Exfm’s version of “Liking.”
When you fire up the Exfm app on your walk home (there’s no offline caching, sadly, so it won’t work on the train), all of your “Noted” songs with be in a listenable stream. If you’re like me, you download about 20-plus free MP3s per day, and it can be a pain to drag those all over to iTunes and add them to your music library. Exfm gets rid of that hassle.
In addition, you can also follow friends and what Exfm calls “Tastemakers” (music bloggers, etc.) and check out what they’re listening to. “Note” their songs to add them to your stream. You can also listen to music from your iPod app inside of Exfm, “Note” those songs, and share them via Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
Ask some pundits about the future of music discovery, and they’ll likely say something to the effect of: “Critics will become obsolete. We will henceforth trust the opinions of our friends alone.” In fact, a lot of music discovery apps rely on one’s social graph to surface results: Rdio and Soundtracker spring to mind.
What we like about Exfm’s app is that it doesn’t wholly rely on social in order to function. It scrapes music blogs — that premiere and curate music daily — for new jams and allows you to pick and choose what you like. Yes, friend recommendations are important, but even your most musically inclined bud has to find music somewhere. Exfm recognizes that fact by making blogs the source of its content.
Still, the app doesn’t lock you into curated content — like the Hype Machine’s Hype Radio app does in many ways — letting you still have access to musically savvy friends and their varied deep cuts and basement tapes.
Check out Exfm’s new app and let us know what you think. Did you find any new jams?
Image courtesy of Flickr, Carnoodles
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Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist and activist, has been set free on bail after pleading guilty to charges of tax evasion,
Ai was arrested April 3 for evading “huge amounts” of taxes, according to Chinese state media. However, many were not satisfied by this explanation — Ai frequently spoke out against the Chinese government, which some think was a likelier reason for his detainment.
In protest, FAT Lab member Greg Leuch created a browser plugin called Chinablocker for Chrome, Firefox and Safari that blocks all Chinese websites. When you come across such a website, a middle finger (a homage to one of Ai’s works) will pop up, along with information detailing how long Ai — and other artists — have been detained.
In light of Ai’s release, Leuch let fly a minor update to the plugin “to announce his release and disable the blocking,” he says.
Leuch wasn’t the only one to protest Ai’s detention: Online petition platform Change.org also hosted a campaign calling for his release and subsequently suffered distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which sent the site offline for different periods of time.
According to The Washington Post, there’s no word yet on the other lawyers, activists and intellectuals who were also detained. Ai, however, has agreed to repay his back taxes. He is also apparently in poor health.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Daquella manera
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We decided to take the Google voice search for a test drive. As you can see in the video, Google’s voice search works quite well. It looks like the same engine that Google has used across mobile devices is integrated with the desktop.
Out of 22 attempted searches shown in our video, Google correctly recognized what we were saying 15 times. That puts its accuracy at about 68%. If you don’t count the number of do-overs, however, the accuracy is more in the range of 85%.
Google recognizes words, phrases and names, for the most part. However, the search engine does have issues with special characters, unusual names and URLs.
One nice feature — you can use the Google calculator feature with voice search.
What do you think of Google voice search? Let us know in the comments.
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Google Chrome 12 is now the stable release of Google’s web browser, bringing several improvements in security, privacy and graphics capabilities.
Chrome now checks downloaded files for malware, and Google claims it has designed the feature in such a way that it doesn’t have to know which URLs you visited or which files you downloaded to be able to detect malicious files.
You can now also fine tune the data that websites store on your computer, including Flash Player’s Local Shared Objects (also known as Flash cookies), directly from Chrome.
On the graphics front, Chrome 12 includes support for hardware-accelerated 3D CSS, which enables some nifty effects such as rotating and scaling videos. Try this Chrome Experiment to see some of the new features in action.
Finally, Chrome 12 brings several minor improvements such as an improved interface for setting a homepage and searching for Chrome Apps directly from the address bar.
Google Chrome 12 is available at www.google.com/chrome. Existing users will be automatically updated to the new version in the next couple of days.
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Music video director Chris Milk has once again pushed the boundaries of the traditional music video, demonstrating how HTML5 and WebGL technology can be used to create intriguing stories in-browser.
At Google’s I/O conference, Milk and @radical.media, along with Aaron Koblin from Google Creative Labs, unveiled their most recent project, “3 Dreams in Black.” The video was created for “Black,” which comes off the upcoming album Rome, presented by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi, featuring Jack White and Norah Jones on vocals. Now, anyone can check out the video experience on a dedicated website. (Make sure you’re using Chrome to view it.)
The video takes users through the dream world of a character named Temple, a girl who exists in a post-apocalyptic realm. Gorgeous images of trains, bedrooms and bison in a lush landscape are interspersed with 3D animations of twisting creatures and images, evoking the unreality of a dream.
Users can explore the landscape with their mouses and can contribute creatures using a 3D-model creator. Those creatures reside in a desert that Temple arrives in at the end of the video (look out for Reddit guy).
According to Milk and Co., this is just the first in many experiences — spanning various and sundry forms of media — associated with the album.
Milk and @radical.media were also responsible for “The Wilderness Downtown,” an HTML5 experience created for the Arcade Fire’s album, as well as the accompanying Wilderness Machine (a machine that spits out user-generated postcards during the band’s stage show). Milk also created a crowdsourced video titled “The Johnny Cash Project,” which earned him a Grammy nomination.
If you check out the video now, fair warning: It is a little wonky. However, keep in mind that it is an experiment designed to showcase and test the abilities of new technologies, the same way “The Wilderness Downtown” did. That video experience showed off the capabilities offered by HTML5, including audio, video and canvas tags.
This particular video boasts WebGL, a new technology that brings hardware-accelerated 3D graphics to the browser. (You can play with the tech here.)
The traditional music video has morphed and evolved in the past year or so, due in no small part to Milk. “We have greater capacity for tracking complex stories on multiple platforms for longer periods of time,” he says in an announcement.
Yes, film-based music videos can still be revolutionary and inspired, but technologies like HTML5 open the opportunities for creating landscapes and evoking moods not otherwise possible in the leanback space of the tried-and-true video format.
Still, we have a long way to go before this kind of video is truly embraced (for one, HTML5 is still in an experimental phase, and there are some hiccups) — take the panel in which the MTV OMA for “Most Innovative Music Video” was awarded. (Disclosure: I was on said panel.) Panelists questioned whether a video like “The Wildness Downtown” was exclusionary, because it only works online and not on television. They also pointed out that it didn’t always work.
However, we are only on the cusp of such artistic frontiers, remember, and as more and more of our entertainment becomes web-based, we can see videos like “3 Dreams in Black” becoming more ubiquitous.
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Google and Samsung have unveiled the “world’s first chromebook,” the Chromebook Series 5. We had the opportunity to take it for a test drive.
On Wednesday, Google announced the upcoming availability of Google Chrome OS notebooks. The first devices will make their debut on June 15 on Amazon.com, Best Buy and other stores in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands. Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Chrome, revealed that Acer and Samsung would produce the initial devices.
At a starting price of $429, the Samsung Chromebook Series 5 is cheaper than an iPad, standard laptop or MacBook. But is its hardware, speed and Chrome OS software enough to get consumers to pull out their credit cards?
Check our our first impression and photo gallery of the device below, and let us know what you think in the comments.
For anyone who has used the Cr-48 prototype Chrome OS notebook, you can breathe a sigh of relief: The Samsung Chromebook is much faster. The biggest change from the Cr-48 is that the Chromebook boasts an Intel dual-core processor, providing a noticeable performance boost. The Chromebook is also sleeker and includes a more vibrant screen.
Here’s an overview of the specs for the Samsung Chromebook:
With the help of Google Chrome OS Product Manager Kan Liu, I tested the device.
If you’ve seen the Google Cr-48, then the interface of the device should be familiar to you. Google Chrome OS loads fast and is simple to use, thanks to the lack of desktop apps. Thanks to the improved hardware of the Samsung Chromebook, you won’t be screaming every three minutes at it for failing to load a simple Flash video. The dual-core processor makes a huge difference.
One important change to Chrome OS is its ability to link to web apps for uploading images, videos and other multimedia. I downloaded several images from the web and was able to quickly upload them to a Box.net account right from the file folder. Once Flickr, Picnik, Vimeo and other multimedia-sharing services sync with the Chrome OS API, it should make uploading and downloading images a lot easier to manage.
Still, Chrome OS takes some time to get used to, and it isn’t for everyone. It can’t run Skype, it can’t run Photoshop, and it simply isn’t a good machine for a power user. However, it’s ideal for businesses that only need machines for data entry. Casual users may find some use out of the Samsung Chromebook (here’s Google’s video explaining the Chromebook), but they will probably be better off with an iPad 2 or an Android tablet.
The device itself, though, is sleek and sexy. It’s light, portable and pleasing to the eyes. I wouldn’t mind dropping into a coffee shop with the Arctic White version of the device. Its hardware is solid, but I need to test it more extensively to see whether it can take the use and abuse of daily work.
Here’s a front view of the Chromebook
Here’s the top of the Arctic White version. The Chromebook comes with the Samsung and the Google Chrome logos. Google and Samsung didn’t have any of the Titan Silver version for us to photograph, unfortunately.
The Chromebook sports an island-style chiclet keyboard.
It only takes seconds to reach the login screen.
This gives you an idea of the screen brightness and resolution on the Samsung Chomebook.
This store becomes a very important page for launching your web apps.
The left side of the Chromebook includes the headphone jack, power plug, a monitor slot and a USB port.
A closer look at the USB port.
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After two years of development, the first Google Chrome OS notebooks will make their worldwide debut June 15.
Samsung and Acer will be the first companies to launch Chrome OS devices. Samsung’s device will sport a 12.1-inch screen with an 8-hour battery life, while Acer’s device will be a 11.6-inch display and a 6.5-hour battery life. Samsung’s device will retail for $429 for the Wi-Fi version and $499 for the 3G version. Acer’s more portable notebook will start at $349 and up.
Google SVP of Chrome Sundar Pichai said during Wednesday’s keynote at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco that both Chrome OS notebooks will be available starting June 15. It will launch in the U.S. on Amazon.com and in Best Buy stores nationwide, but the United Kingdom, France and other countries will get the chance to buy Chrome OS notebooks at the same time.
Google has been testing Chrome OS in the wild through the CR-48 notebook, but those devices sport unstable developer versions of Google’s web-centric OS. Since then, Google has fixed most of Chrome’s bugs and made it compatible with Intel’s dual-core processors.
Chrome OS is the search giant’s attempt to create a cloud-based operating system. Unlike traditional desktop operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X, Chrome OS only runs web-based applications through a modified version of the Chrome browser. As a result, Chrome OS can start up in a matter of seconds and has a longer battery life.
Originally designed for netbooks, the rise of tablets has forced Chrome OS to evolve into a notebook OS and could even make its way onto tablets and other form factors.
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Google’s Chrome web browser has added 90 million active users in the past year, more than doubling its total user base.
During a keynote Wednesday at the Google I/O developers conference, Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of Chrome, revealed that the browser now has 160 million active users. Compare that to last May, when Google said Chome had 70 million users.
Pichai also revealed that Chome is now at version 12, up from version 5 in May 2010. He explained that Google decided to change to a six-week release cycle in order to ensure that users have the most advanced browser technology at their fingertips.
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The ad, called “Dear Sophie,” shows a father using Google products to catalog his daughter’s life events from birth to a hospital stay for an unnamed illness, to the loss of her baby teeth. He writes her notes using Gmail, for instance, and posts videos of her on YouTube.
Although some might see it as slightly creepy (Are those YouTube videos public? Does the girl know?), the story of a child’s first years boiled down to 90 seconds is bound to evoke the specter of time’s passage and life’s ephemerality. Not bad for a TV commercial. The extended length (most TV spots are 30 seconds) also seems to help deliver more of an emotional effect.
The ad is part of Google’s largest-ever offline ad campaign. It comes after another emotional ad from Google that aired earlier this week during Glee. That ad supported the LGBT community with a 91-second compilation of “It Gets Better” clips on YouTube (that video already has more than 400,000 views). And Google has presented its human side before with the 2010 Super Bowl ad “Parisian Love” that told the story of a love affair enabled by Google technology.
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