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Friday, June 18, 2010

Discover Movies You Should Watch with HelloMovies

Calling all film and movie fanatics – which is your online home for movie information and its sharing? Please don’t say IMDB or RottenTomatoes. I agree these two and a few others are almost encyclopedic movie sites and first stops for things that are cinematic. But there are some movie and film sites that have grown up in the shadow of these biggies.
HelloMovies is one such Web 2.0 app that helps to narrow down on which movie to watch next. HelloMovies is very similar to Jinni in the way that it can search and recommend movies. That’s not surprising because both dig deep into the Movie Genome project for its search power. You can read a lot about the Movie Genome project in Wikipedia, but here’s a gist.

The Movie Genome is a way to tag all movies based on genre, mood, tone, plot, tastes etc. The index is generated from the words people use to describe a movie in internet discussions and reviews. All that web shoveling has resulted in a database that’s 22,000 movies strong and is swelling up with every release.
That’s the source of HelloMovies power. Now, let’s see how it benefits us, the film fan.
With HelloMovies you can…
  • Find out which movie to watch.
  • Find out where to watch it online.
  • Find out what others are watching and share notes with them.
discover movies
Finding out which movies to watch is the core job of the search feature on the site. There are many ways you can reach into its database and get the right movie for your taste or mood. You can search by Genres, Tastes, Release Year, Language, or Awards. You can use them one at a time or in combination like filters. You can further sort the results by release, recommended, popularity, or rating.
discover movies
Or you can directly use the search bar (with auto-suggest) on top. I don’t, because I hate missing out on the cover flows of the related movies. The search box also leads to an Attic search, that is a listing of movies with the keywords in the title.

All of the information on one neat page

That’s one of the most organized aspects about HelloMovies. You get a brief synopsis with a mouseover on the poster. Click on your choice of movie and you get the full info about the movie. I won’t be able to put down everything here as you can see for yourself. But there are a few things you can focus on immediately.
HelloMovies describes the movie with a few adjectives under Tastes. The attributes along with the Genre frame the type of movie perfectly. These attributes are linkable and with a click, they will take you to other movies with the same qualities. The Trailer gives you a preview. Some movie pages though do not display trailers for lack of availability. Clicking on the white buttons helps you with recommendations to your friend list or adding it to your personal watch list for later viewing.
discover new movies
As you scroll down, you can roam your eyes over the ratings from IMDB and Critics Choice (from BFCA). If you are a film buff, these scores are instant indicators of movie worthiness. Then, further below, you get to read first-hand user reviews and those from sites like IMDB.
discover new movies
From the Recent Activity lookup, you can directly connect to others interested in the movie. What’s the world saying about the flick? Get the news from Twitter and Google News with a click.
discover new movies

Watching some movies online

find new movies
Though not all movies are available for online viewing, you can source the ones which are available from the single click functions available under Where to Get It. The sources range from Hulu, YouTube, Veoh to subscription based sources (Netflix) and other DVD on-demand sources like Amazon. You can use the Where to Get It choices along with the other filters ranged above and below it.

The nerve center lies in the profile page

The user profile page is the starting point for building your own community of friends. It is almost Facebook-ish, with a Wall that displays what others post on your profile. You get to follow your friends’ movie liking-hating activities. Then there is the playlist which is your own watch list of movies that you are planning to see.
find new movies
There’s a fun user activity monitoring feature that awards you points for rating movies, uploading movies, inviting users, uploading posters and trailers, reviewing movies, etc. You get to move through levels — starting from Newbie, through Movie Star and end up at the apex as a Godfather. For all that, you get rewarded with free gifts like HelloMovies Bumper Stickers, T-shirts, and even free tickets.
find new movies
That will certainly keep me interested. I have seen my share of movie sites but I still like a slick way to get the scoop on a movie of my choice. HelloMovies makes it uncomplicated and right from the moment you land on the homepage, it’s a matter of 2-3 clicks.
Right now, I am happily clicking away on the movies I plan to watch. What about you?
If you’re a late-comer, do check out our freely downloadable The Internet Guide to the Movie Addict.

Connect To Radio Stations on The Internet From Any Computer with RadioSure

I have loads of portable software not only on my USB drive, but also on my PC. There’s something uncomplicated about them. While video and mp3 takes over our senses, we forget that the listening experience of radio is still a part of the airwaves; or the digital waves that makes up the internet.
As I listen to Jazz guitarist Peter White in the background, let me introduce you to RadioSure. RadioSure (ver.2.0.886 ) is an internet radio player and a really cool and simple one at that. This attribute along with its unzipped size of 4.57 MB makes it a great media software to include in your portable apps lineup.

You have a choice of an installer version too, but the portable version comes without the hassle of an installation and can be run straight off a USB drive. RadioSure runs on Win XP/Vista/7.
But the yardstick of a great portability loops back to how good the app really is. That’s where RadioSure is pretty much surefooted in its performance. So, let’s tune it up and catch a few song streams.

A Clean Simple Look

radio stations on the internet
The radio interface is as simple as it can get. The design is like a traditional media player. You have a small button on the right corner that can collapse or expand the radio interface.

The Options On Stations

radio stations on the internet
12,120 radio stations on the Internet from across the globe are enough for even an ardent audiophile. The stations are listed by name, country, genre, and language. Alongside the station names, you also get the bitrate of the radio stream on offer for some of the radio stations. You get to hear lots of FM stations too which stream online.
RadioSure supports most audio formats like mp3, wma, ogg, vorbis, aac, and more. The track and the singer are displayed on the interface, the title bar and the status bar.
Got your own radio station on the Internet? Add it to RadioSure by adding a few details.
internet radio station list

Picking The One To Hear

You really need good and precise filters to narrow down to the station of your choice. RadioSure doesn’t make it obvious, but choosing stations from the 12,000+ on offer is easy. Use the little search box on top and narrow it down. Or you can go with the filters.
internet radio station list
Right click on the column heads and check any of the filters that are available. You can use the search and filters in combination to quickly narrow down to the right station. Clear the search field and the filters to get the entire 12,000+ strong list of radio stations again.

Recording From The Stream

Recording tracks while it’s streaming into your computer is also uncomplicated. You just have to toggle the red button to start and stop recording. RadioSure’s Options has a Recording tab for more hands-on control with setting a custom folder, choosing a bitrate, splitting recordings by track, and avoiding duplicates.
internet radio station list
You can open up multiple instances of RadioSure and simultaneously record multiple radio stations on the Internet.

Skin It!

Skinning is a must have for all media players. So it is with RadioSure. There is a whole gallery of skins developed by others and made available on the site for free or paid downloads. You can even make yours and upload it to the site for sale.

The Listening Experience

The sound quality of course depends on your bandwidth (and the station). I have a slowpoke 256kbps connection and I can vouch that the buffering and streaming is more than adequate. Bandwidth is a variable, but what’s impressive is the smooth switching between stations.
You can polish it further by ticking on crossfading and volume normalization from the General tab under Options.
RadioSure lacks a full fledged graphic equalizer but it has presets like jazz, pop, rock, and classic.
Internet radio comes with the rider that you will hit and miss some stations while browsing. With RadioSure’s large list of stations globally, you can dip into the radio stream and come away with something.
RadioSure lacks a help file but with the simple features, you really don’t need one.
Play it by the ear and let us know your impressions on RadioSure ver 2.0.886 (portable or the installer version).
Compare it with something like the online RadioTime which we have covered earlier or Screamer Radio. Then there are The 3 Best Online Radio Players for Your Desktop.

Google TV

Television, as we know it, is changing.  Just look at developments like DVR, Movies On Demand, Netflix Instant Watch, and Hulu – “old TV” is going away, and “new TV” is interactive, available whenever we want, and portable. Never missing an opportunity to integrate into in a new market, Google announced Google TV at this year’s Google I/O convention.
Google states that 4 billion people across the world watch TV – but many of us are not getting the modern experience we expect of media in the Internet Age. With Google TV, Google plans to combine the familiarity of “old TV” with the freedom and power of the internet.
But what is it exactly?

What is Google TV?

As with any exciting new technology, it isn’t always clear what it actually does. The goal of Google TV is to turn television and web into a seamless experience, giving you access to online content and videos from the comfort of your living room.
Google puts it this way: the traditional way to watch a television show is to wait for it to air on a network, meaning you change your schedule to match that of the show you want to watch.  The internet breaks that barrier, allowing you to watch shows whenever you feel like through outlets like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
With Google TV, you can watch online content out of the confined space of your computer’s monitor and instead play it on your TV – together with standard TV content.

Getting Google TV

Google is working with companies like Sony and LG to integrate Google TV into televisions and BluRay players which will be available exclusively through Best Buy.  If you alredy have a TV or BluRay player, you can instead purchase an external Google TV box that will connect to your TV via an HDMI connection.  The great news: the Google TV service will be offered completely free (minus the cost of hardware).
Future plans have also been announced that Google TV will integrate with video game consoles, like Netflix has done.

Searching and Browsing

Google TV will include a powerful search engine (of course) so you can easily find the shows you’re looking for without browsing through lists and guides. When you find a show you want to watch or subscribe to, you can quickly add it to your home screen which makes it just like a traditional TV channel. Google TV merges content from sources like Netflix, YouTube, sports websites, and many other sources along with your traditional television content, so everything is available in one central location.
A full version of Google’s Chrome browser will also be included with Google TV, so you can browse the internet just like you would on your computer. You’ll also have access to your photos and web applications like Pandora.

Apps

This is exciting news for Android fans: Google TV will include the Android Market so you can download and install Android apps right to your television. Beyond that, you can use your Android phone as the remote control for your TV, including voice search.
Popular Android applications like Google Listen will be updated to provide many more features for Google TV. The best part about including the Android Market is that new features will constantly be added to your TV, as we’ve seen with Android phones.
Google TV itself is based on Android 2.1 and Google Chrome software. Google has stated that the Google TV software will become fully open-source in 2011.

Multitasking

Multitasking is a big deal for most people, and Google TV will not disappoint. With this software, you’ll be able to watch a TV show in the corner of your screen while browsing the internet with Chrome. Google TV will also be able to interact with hardware you already own like a DVR to schedule recording of TV shows while you continue to watch TV as usual.

Automatic Subtitles (with translations)

Using Google’s tremendous translation and voice transcription resources, Google TV will be able to automatically generate subtitles for content and even translate those subtitles to your native language (as long as Google supports the language).

Availability

Google TV is slated to be released to customers in the United States this fall, and international expansion will take place throughout 2011. The Android Market for Google TV will also launch in 2011.

Conclusion

The announcement of Google TV is exciting and really broadens our concept of what we consider television. Since it includes Android software, the sky is the limit for what developers can do – I expect dozens of new features to appear after the Google TV Android Market opens.
Are you excited about Google TV, or are you worried it will be doomed to the same existence as Apple TV? Would you buy a new TV for Google TV or just the companion box? Share with us in the comments!

Sources To Watch The FIFA World Cup 2010 Online

The FIFA World Cup 2010 started with the match of South Africa vs. Mexico in Johannesburg on June 11th. South Africa gained a draw, thus continuing the straight record that no World Cup host country ever lost their opening match. In the meantime, most nations have played their first match, with the exception of group H.
Have you caught the FIFA World Cup fever, yet? This year FIFA decided to grant TV stations the right to live broadcast all matches online. Depending on where you are in the world, you may be lucky to find that a local TV station provides live streaming of the matches. If you’re not so lucky, have a look at the worldwide workarounds at the bottom.
So, enter the best sources to watch FIFA World Cup 2010 online.

USA

ESPN 3

watch fifa world cup 2010 online
The US Entertainment Sports Programming Network will broadcast all 64 games live online.

Canada

CBC Sports

watch fifa world cup 2010 online
In Canada, you can catch the FIFA World Cup online through the CBC Sports website.

UK

BBC Sport

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The BBC will broadcast all their matches online in high quality video. A schedule of its coverage can be found at the bottom of this article.

ITV Live

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For the FIFA World Cup ITV has introduced ITV Live, a dual-screen, live online companion that feeds you with information, replays, and of course live streaming of all 64 matches.

Germany

ARD & ZDF

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fifa world cup games
Traditionally, ARD and ZDF share broadcasting rights for big sports events. Here is the schedule that reveals the alternating coverage of both live TV and live web streaming.
Additionally, you can tune into ARD and ZDF via Zattoo.

RTL

fifa world cup games
It is yet undecided, whether or not RTL will broadcast any of the finals. In the meantime you can watch the group games.

Worldwide Workarounds

So you’re located in none of the above countries. Don’t despair, you can still watch the tournament online. Here are further online sources that stream the World Cup live.

ATDHE.Net

ATDHE.Net provides live streams of several TV stations, including ESPN. There are several additional live streams for each match that use other sources, including South American TV stations.
Before you can use ATDHE.Net’s live stream, you need to install a browser plugin. In Firefox the plugin will work without restarting the browser.

TVU networks

fifa world cup gamesTVU works much like ATDH.Net, but it comes with a much nicer interface.
To stream content, you first need to install a plugin. Only IE, Firefox, and Safari are supported. Reboot your browser after installing the plugin and you’re good to go!

MyP2P

watch fifa world cup 2010 onlineMyP2P streams TV live sports from all over the world to your PC.
Before you can start watching the FIFA World Cup, you have to download the P2P programs. It’s not straight forward, but it’s worth the hassle. Get all the details from this Beginner’s Guide.
In addition, you can fool the above the websites and pretend you’re accessing them from another location. Check out the following articles for all the tools and details you’ll need. The first post is targeted at Hulu, however, Hotspot Shield and Ultra Surf generally  cloak your location.
To keep up with the schedule, the scores, and everything else that is happening around the World Cup, check out Saikat’s article 10 Weblinks To Catch The Football Fever At FIFA World Cup 2010.
Are you familiar with any other source to watch FIFA World Cup 2010 online? Due to language barriers many football nations are lacking from the above list. Please help us out and share your links in the comments!

Ways To Sync Your iPod To Computer Without iTunes

There has always been one universal constant for purchasers of an iPod – that they would be using Apple’s iTunes to sync it. Apple’s iTunes has been downloaded millions of times and is adored by many, but what if you’re looking for an alternative?
Last year, we covered a similar topic entitled 6 Ways To Sync Music To Your iPhone Without iTunes. The article was very popular and it covered 6 great applications. There has since been many capable alternatives to iTunes, each program having its own pros and cons.
In this article, I am going to cover some of the best free alternatives to using iTunes to sync iPod to computer without iTunes.

[Note]: Depending on which model of iPod you own, you may want to still keep iTunes around for firmware updates, application downloads, and other advanced features that one or more of these programs may not be capable of.

Floola (Cross Platform)

sync ipod to computer without itunes
Floola is a freeware application that will effectively manage your iPod’s music, videos, podcasts, and photos. It is a standalone application that can be run directly from your iPod and needs no installation under Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. The current version supports every type of iPod except for the iPhone/iTouch.
Floola supports almost all of the features offered by iPods. It can convert incompatible audio and video files, add YouTube videos to your device, and sync Google Calendars. With Floola you can copy almost any file to your iPod. It is also very easy to uninstall, which makes it worth giving a try.

Songbird (Windows & Mac)

sync ipod to computer without itunes
Songbird is a Mac and PC compatible application that handles all of your digital media management needs. It is an open source media manager that will sync your music, video, and photos to and from iTunes with ease.
Songbird allows you to set up watch folders to keep Songbird in sync as your media changes over time. It also supports hundreds of add-ons that can add features, integrate services, and customize the application.  We have covered Songbird a lot in the past.   Just click here to see the search results.

Amarok (Cross Platform)

sync ipod to computer no itunes
Amarok is a powerful music player that is supported by Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It has an automated playlist generator, a similar artists and upcoming events applet, and support for the Last.fm database. Amarok is integrated with a lot of web services and features support for all iPods.

EphPod (Windows)

sync ipod to computer
EphPod is a full-featured Windows application that connects with Apple’s iPod. It supports standard Winamp playlists and will synchronize an entire music collection with one click. It imports Microsoft Outlook contacts and can download the latest news, weather, e-books, and movie listings to an iPod.
On the download page it is noted that EphPod may not work properly with new iPods, but it is worth investigating.

YamiPod (Cross Platform)

sync ipod to computer
YamiPod is yet another cross platform iPod manager that is supported on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Like Floola, it is a standalone application which requires no installation. Your iPod is automatically recognized and synced with your computer. It supports multiple iPods and can copy/sync your music, playlists, and song lists.

Banshee (Linux)

sync ipod to computer
Banshee is packaged for many Linux distributions and is even the default media player for several. According to the site, it will soon be available for Windows and Mac OS X as well.
Banshee allows you to sync your music and videos to your iPod, Android, and other devices. It supports audio, video, podcasts, album art, playlists, and more.

Conclusion

As I mentioned previously, we wrote a similar article last year for syncing music to the iPhone. Although I did not cover any of those applications in this article, I strongly suggest you explore those options as well because they are still relevant and continue to be viable alternatives to iTunes.
What did you think of the programs provided? Will you be ditching iTunes for one of these installations? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

10 Weblinks To Catch The Football Fever At FIFA World Cup 2010

Did you know that the lowest number of spectators for a match was 300 for the match between Romania & Peru in the first World Cup held at Uruguay? That was 80 years back.
You can be sure that it’s a record that’s never going to be beaten because we are talking about the most popular game on Earth – football. The last World Cup held in Germany had a global viewership of 26.3 billion.
If you match it with the number of nations participating, the FIFA World Cup 2010 matches the last Olympics. That’s counting the qualification process that involved 204 countries in all. The 2010 World Cup, a month long football carnival will have kicked off in South Africa by the time you read this.

Just to gauge its popularity, popular media is going to be filled to the front pages with football World Cup news. If you scan papers, you won’t even have to come online to get your daily fix of World Cup news.
If you do decide to switch on, here are ten places to visit to catch everything that happens between the first whistle and the last.

Wikipedia

fifa world cup
That’s where I will go if I am a total football ignoramus who gets caught in a bar argument. One long page helps you to get familiar with what’s what on the World Cup in particular and football in general. I am pretty much in the know on football, but I did learn that Sony would be capturing 25 of the matches in 3D. Wow!

Google

fifa world cup
We all head there with a browser launch. But Google is sure to reserve something special for the football event. Type ‘World Cup’ into the search bar and you will get the day’s schedule fixed for your local time. Google updated its search with Caffeine, so expect better (and fresher) real time results with any search on the football World Cup.
Google is in no way going to be caught left footed at the FIFA World Cup. We had a Doodle for the last Cup. For this one you get a long ‘Goooooal!’ when you type ‘World Cup’ into the search. Head down to where the page numbers for the search pages are.
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I am sure there will be others too as the Doodle 4 Google competition is on.

Google Maps

fifa world cup soccer
You can end up going around South Africa like a virtual tourist. All ten stadiums and the nine host cities are covered on Google Earth and Google Maps. You may not have the tickets to the matches, but you can go right down to the ten stadiums, thanks to the 3D imagery on Google Maps and Google Earth.
On Google Earth, turn on the 3D buildings layer.

Picnik

fifa world cup soccer
Football fever is on at Google. Check out the ways you can add football colors to your photos. All 32 nation colors are covered. Take your pick with Picnik.

YouTube

fifa club world cup
YouTube isn’t broadcasting live streams of the FIFA World Cup, but there are some places to go and catch the World Cup fever. Here’s a selection. Feel free to add your own favorite YouTube links in the comments -
  • Go Fans is a football sweepstakes announced by VISA who are sponsors of the World Cup. You can participate for free by viewing and uploading great World Cup moments. Winners get a trip to see the next World Cup in Brazil. The competition is open to residents of the United States, Japan, Mexico and Brazil.
  • Nike ads really pump up the adrenalin. Catch the Write the Future video and get football inspired.
  • Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) is the song that will flag off the World Cup. Tune in to Shakira and the South African band Freshlyground. Watch it in full HD glory.
  • Street Soccer Tour is kind of a World Cup sideshow but it’s fun to watch on YouTube. Edgar Davids (a Dutch professional footballer) takes his team across Europe and Africa to battle the best local teams in rounds of street soccer.

ESPN – SoccerNet

fifa club world cup
ESPN is providing umbrella coverage to the 2010 World Cup. The other things on its extensive sports menu are live streaming via its broadband network for live sports programming. You will be able to catch it if your ISP carries ESPN3 in your area. ESPN also has an iPhone app but it’s not free. So the SoccerNet website is the place to be for free updates.

Goal.com

fifa club world cup
Goal.com provides a free toolbar for download which delivers soccer news straight to your browser. You get the latest with the help of a news ticker. You have a large forum which already has nearly 3,000 posts. That’s all apart from the website’s regular fares and live scores.

LiveSoccerTV

LiveSoccerTV.com lists soccer TV schedules available in the US, Canada, and the UK. Web viewers across the world can catch live streaming football matches on the browser. If the live broadcast is available for your region, you can learn the schedule and watch it on LiveSoccerTV. I couldn’t yet check out the site in live action as the World Cup is yet to start but it seems like a good free deal.

World Cup Blog

As the About page says – it started off with the World Cup in 2002 when ‘three intrepid football fans stayed up until the middle of the night writing about the games they were watching and the player haircuts that horrified and amused them’. So we can expect the same daily dose of offbeat football news this time too.

FIFA.com

It’s the mouthpiece for everything that’s football around the world. Be sure to catch breaking World Cup news here. As the tournament goes on, check out the popular videos and photos sections for some exclusives. Stay updated on how’s each team is doing from the standings page. FIFA’s official Twitter account is @fifaworldcuptm.

Waze Worldcup Challenge

Ok, this one is a bonus competition from Waze (Free turn by turn navigation application for mobile). Like in the regular worldcup competition, the users will be competing tournament style, in different phases of the game. Soccer balls will be distributed all over the map and the countries that munch the most soccer ball road goodies will advance to the next round. Three iPads will be given out to the final winners. The game sounds interesting and fun, and there’s no reason not to give it a shot.
So, where will you be for the next month? Let us know the web places you might visit if the TV goes on the blink. In the meantime, I will leave you with this cool FIFA World Cup 2010 calendar to stay on track for the next month.