Ask.com lets you ask for directions on mobile

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Ask.com on Thursday launched a free service that lets users of Web-enabled mobile devices get directions just by speaking.

With “Click to Speak” you say your location and the address of where you want to go or the closest intersection. Within a few seconds you will receive a text message with a link to directions that can be used for walking or driving. No need to type in addresses.

The system uses technology from Dial Directions, a provider of voice-activated location-based services.

Ask.com Mobile works on any mobile Web browser and does not require a download. Carrier and data charges may apply.

EU plans a single market for online films, music & games

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The European Commission said Thursday it would draw up plans to boost the online market for music, films and games while promising to uphold intellectual property rights.

The commission said content providers, telecom companies and Internet service providers should work together to make more online content available, while ensuring the robust protection of intellectual property rights.

Europe’s content sector is suffering due to diverse and opaque rules on accessing online content amid “serious disagreements between stakeholders about fundamental issues such as levies and private copying,” said EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media Viviane Reding.

“We have to make a choice in Europe: Do we want to have a strong music, film and games industry? Then we should give industry legal certainty, content creators a fair remuneration and consumers broad access to a rich diversity of content online,” she added.

Reding said she would make recommendations by mid-year “on new ways for achieving a single market for online content.”

Apache Wicket 1.3 set for Java Web development

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Looking to make Web development easier for Java developers, the Apache Software Foundation began offering this week Apache Wicket 1.3, an open source component-based Web framework.

Formerly housed at SourceForge, the Wicket project moved over to Apache last year; version 1.3 is the first release bearing the Apache nameplate, said Martijn Dashorst, chairman of the project and a senior software developer at Web application development firm Topicus. Enhancements have been made in areas such as AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) and portal support.

“The purpose [of Apache Wicket] is to make development for Java developers simple as a possible,” Dashorst said. “We use a component model for that.”

Developers can create components with plain old Java and HTML, Dashorst said. Apache Wicket 1.3 is downloadable here.

Microsoft promises free game after online woes

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Microsoft Corp said on Thursday it will offer a free downloadable video game to users of its Xbox online gaming service after the network was plagued with connection troubles over the holidays.

Xbox Live General Manager Mark Whitten said the problems stemmed from a “massive increase” in new users of the service over the holiday season, when sales of video game hardware and software surge.

“While the service was not completely offline at any given time, we are disappointed in our performance,” Whitten said in a statement.

Whitten said all Xbox Live members around the world would be able to freely download one game over the service. Games sold on Xbox Live typically cost from $5 to $20, and Whitten said Microsoft would give details of the offer in the coming weeks.

Stock beats sex on Google China

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

The names of three banks and the word “stocks” beat “sex” to become four of the most Googled words in China last year, according to a Google China list seen on Thursday.

China Merchants Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank ranked second, third and sixth, according to a list supplied by Google China on its website (www.google.cn).

“On the Chinese mainland, it was money and technology that took the honors last year,” the China Daily said, pointing out that “sex” was the most popular keyword for Google users in some other countries.

Fourth on the list was “stock”, not surprising with Shanghai shares having risen 97 percent last year. At number 1 was “QQ”, a Chinese instant message service and a brand of car.

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