Now, you can add videos to your Instagram

Just when you thought oversharing with pictures wasn’t enough, the latest update on popular app, Instagram, now features videos, presumably to compete with Vine.

“The new feature is video. It’s neat: Now you can record video on Instagram. I wish I could say more, but that’s kind of it. When you update the app on your phone, you’ll find a Record button. To do video, hold that button down. You can capture multiple clips, but the total length of your video is capped at 15 seconds long. Why 15 seconds? Because Vine, the near-identical video app that Twitter launched in January, lets you record 6 seconds total, and Facebook wanted to do something 150 percent better.*

“That’s a joke, but I worry it’s one Facebook takes seriously. In the past, I’ve praised Facebook’s talent for quickly, deftly stealing other people’s good ideas. It copied subscriptions from Twitter, automatic groups from Google Plus, check-ins from Foursquare, and created versions of Snapchat and (before purchasing it) Instagram. Nobody should be surprised that Facebook has now cloned Vine, too.”

On Slate: Attack of the Clones

Finally, a replacement for Mr. Moto

I had been planning to replace my trusty Motorola Q9H, which I got more than two years ago. Back then, the Moto looked so serious yet so sexy; and then the pesky iPhone and all manners of touchscreen mobiles arrived, so my trusty Moto looked just serious, full stop.

After having fully recovered what I had paid for the unit and knowing that I should get one that was both a smartphone (messaging, documents, calendar, internet) and a toy (apps, wi-fi, camera, sharing) and wouldn’t put a gaping hole in my pocket, I narrowed down my selection to mid-range offerings from both Korean brands, the unsexy Nokia line, and the sexy for-business Blackberry.  I spotted a somewhat nice LG running on Eclair, but the salesperson sweet talked me into upgrading to a brand that’s roughly P2k more expensive but with better specs, the HTC Wildfire, which runs on Android Eclair and sports a good 5MP camera with autofocus and a few basic white balance and ISO options. Basically, something that’s great for stealth picture taking 🙂

The box comes with a 2GB microSD, which is already preloaded with some apps that I don’t think I really need, but I have to check. For the longest time, I was satisfied with a 512MB microSD, so this is somewhat a huge leap. If I upgrade to 16GB, then we’re talking real business. For now, typing on touchscreen needs a lot of getting used to, but I will get by.

Here be the new toy mobile:

 
Sample shot: the dude who sold me the camera.  His salesmanship is good, and processes transactions in a jiffy. Say kimcheeee!

What I had, following the realization that I just made another charge on my plastic.

Wow! As in, scary WOW!

A ginormous sinkhole opened in Guatemala City as a result of relentless rains that pounded South America for days due to typhoon Agatha. The 200-foot-deep sinkhole with a diameter of roughly 35 meters swallowed houses and a three-story building.

Yikes! This is one of those stuffs that nightmares are made of.

I love Facebooking, I really do, but…

“Care to write a status update to your friends? Facebook sets the default for those messages to be published to the entire internet through direct funnels to the net’s top search engines. You can use a dropdown field to restrict your publishing, but it’s seemingly too hard for Facebook to actually remember that’s what you do. (Google Buzz, for all the criticism it has taken, remembers your setting from your last post and uses that as the new default.)

Now, say you you write a public update, saying, “My boss had a crazy great idea for a new product!” Now, you might not know it, but there is a Facebook page for “My Crazy Boss” and because your post had all the right words, your post now shows up on that page. Include the words “FBI” or “CIA,” and you show up on the FBI or CIA page.

Then there’s the new Facebook “Like” button littering the internet. It’s a great idea, in theory — but it’s completely tied to your Facebook account, and you have no control over how it is used. (No, you can’t like something and not have it be totally public.)”

The future of books as multimedia entertainment

According to Grandinetti, publishers are asking the wrong questions. “The real competition here is not, in our view, between the hardcover book and the e-book,” he says. “TV, movies, Web browsing, video games are all competing for people’s valuable time. And if the book doesn’t compete we think that over time the industry will suffer. Look at the price points of digital goods in other media. I read a newspaper this morning online, and it didn’t cost me anything. Look at the price of rental movies. Look at the price of music. In a lot of respects, teaching a customer to pay ten dollars for a digital book is a great accomplishment.”

In Grandinetti’s view, book publishers—like executives in other media—are making the same mistake the railroad companies made more than a century ago: thinking they were in the train business rather than the transportation business. To thrive, he believes, publishers have to reimagine the book as multimedia entertainment. David Rosenthal, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, says that his company is racing “to embed audio and video and other value-added features in e-books. It could be an author discussing his book, or a clip from a movie that touches on the book’s topic.” The other major publishers are working on similar projects, experimenting with music, video from news clips, and animation. Publishers hope that consumers will be willing to pay more for the added features. The iPad, Rosenthal says, “has opened up the possibility that we are no longer dealing with a static book. You have tremendous possibilities.”

It remains an open question whether consumers accustomed to paying $9.99 for an e-book will be willing to pay $13.99, or more, regardless of extras. Tim O’Reilly, the e-books publisher, has found that the lower the price the more books he sells. O’Reilly’s company sells e-books as apps for the iPhone for $4.95, and he says that they generate “a lot more volume” and profit than his company loses in hardcover sales.

On The New Yorker: The iPad, The Kindle, and The Future of Books

Aside from the “Cool!” factor, the only other attraction that an iPad or a Kindle holds for me is the convenience of having my entire library available all the time, and that would be especially helpful during long commutes or while lining up at the cab station. On the other hand, I’m a little worried about embedding multimedia and links in books, as it could take away the pleasure of being engrossed in a good story without anything else competing for my attention. In the always-on age, attention, not just time, is a rare commodity, and adding bells and whistles to a reading experience is something I’m a little skeptic about. And an ADD-inducing $13 e-book is also something that I am hesitant to trade my $7 paperback (or $2 bargain hard cover) for.

Still, of course, an iPad or a Kindle is cool and I wantss one, precious! And me likes the colored illustrations.

Damn you, Steve Jobs, for making me want to spend again for one of your pretties! Can you make them smell like real books, too?

::Mouse pointer hovers on Buy button::