Viddler Brackets plugin for WordPress 3.0

Have you ever envied how WordPress.com users could embed YouTube videos into their blog posts by simply putting the URL of the video into their blog post with square brackets around them? Wanted to do this with Viddler videos for some reason? Envy no more!

Here’s the Viddler Brackets plugin for standalone WordPress 3.0.x installations as developed by Gregory Lam. The code is heavily based on the Quicktime Posting plugin by Shawn Van Every and YouTube Brackets by Robert Buzink.

This mimics WordPress.com’s functionality with YouTube shortcodes but with Viddler.com. It’s really no frills. There are no GUI settings to configure; you open up viddler-brackets.php into a text editor and adjust $width and $height variables on Line 40 to taste.

There will most likely be no upgrades or enhancements, however I can vouch that it works in WordPress 2.9 and 3.0 perfectly fine.

Download Viddler Brackets 1.1.1

Sony Pictures: We’re against the Internet, common business sense

Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton recently had this to say in a meeting in Syracuse, NY:

“I’m a guy who doesn’t see anything good having come from the Internet…(The Internet) created this notion that anyone can have whatever they want at any given time. It’s as if the stores on Madison Avenue were open 24 hours a day. They feel entitled. They say, ‘Give it to me now,’ and if you don’t give it to them for free, they’ll steal it.”

In other news, Sony has just announced a $1.1 billion loss, and expect to lose a further $1.2 billion by the end of fiscal 2009 . Sony’s Entertainment division, responsible for pushing proprietary disc-based formats such as music CDs, Blu-Ray and the PSP’s UMD discs, have seen decreased sales.

Is Sony focusing on selling entertainment, or little circular bits of plastic?

GeoCities: Pioneer town to ghost town

Before Facebook or blogs or cheap web hosting, netizens had GeoCities – the guiding light for those who wanted a website but couldn’t afford their own.

It quickly became the self-publishing printing press of the online world – there were personal pages, and sites on people’s favourite TV shows. Animated GIF backgrounds, blink tags and crackpot ramblings were par for the course. Let’s just say people often referred to it as “GeoShitties”, and it wasn’t an unfair moniker.

Perhaps PC World sums up most peoples’ reaction with the title of their article, “So Long, GeoCities: We Forgot You Still Existed“.

But, as a kid in the proto-WWW of 1996, I cut my teeth on HTML with the help of Geocities. Back then, GeoCities didn’t even have FTP access – you uploaded files via online form, one at a time. They only supported JavaScript – no SQL databases or widgets. We started out with a formidable 1 MB of webspace. And it was good.

That was 13 years ago. I hear Yahoo! has decided to put GeoCities to pasture later this year. I can’t say I blame them. I do have to thank them, for introducing me to the online publishing world.

Microsoft’s electric dreams, circa 1999 and 2009

The Internet is currently abuzz with Microsoft Office Lab’s video detailing their vision of how computing (and Microsoft) would look like in 2019.

It got me thinking on a different track, however. Microsoft is showing us what they think the world will look like in ten years, but what if they had made a video with the same idea ten years ago?

Then I remembered, they did. I went digging through my collection of CD-ROMs, and found this video on a promo disc a Microsoft college recruiter handed me in 1999.

Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I present you “Meet the Family” – a Microsoft video created ten years ago showcasing how a future family would partake in a trip to the zoo, high-tech Microsoft style.

Before you watch this video, you have to think back to what 1999 was like. The latest Windows was Windows ME; corporate types used Windows 2000. Microsoft Internet Explorer was fresh from its victory in the browser wars with Netscape. The dot-com boom was in full swing. Microsoft was about to launch a new video game console called the Xbox. Instant messaging was only a couple years old, and ICQ was top dog. There was no such thing as a smartphone; but if you were really hot stuff, you might have carried around an expensive email pager known as a Blackberry.

Oh, and kids listened to a band known as Fatboy Slim:

As you may have noticed, the 21st century has not been kind to Microsoft’s 1999 vision. Many things have come to pass in a limited fashion, such as the Tablet PC and Windows Mobile smartphones with location-based services. There are other things that seem embarrassing in hindsight, like the UI concept that resembled the quickly-forgotten MSN Explorer. Probably the only totally whiz-bang idea that actually made it to fruition was the face sculpting video game feature – and that took seven years.

Here’s Microsoft’s 2009 prediction of 2019, courtesy of Long Zheng @ istartedsomething:

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-GB&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

In 1999, it was all about the PC. Microsoft’s vision of 2019 is a future of portable devices wrapped in e-ink and flexible OLEDs. Time will tell if Microsoft’s latest crystal ball readings will pan out. Maybe it’s not the accuracy of predictions that count, but whether they are dreamt of at all.

Jay Walker’s own miniature museum of technology

Yes, that's a real Sputnik satellite, one of the few backups.

Wired reports on Priceline.com founder Jay Walker’s sumptuous 3,600 square foot personal library. Like a mini-Smithsonian, it’s decked from top to bottom with rare books, artifacts and gadgets, from a WWII Enigma machine to fossilized dinosaur eggs. And yes, that’s a real Sputnik satellite prototype hanging there.

Perhaps the only tragic thing about this wonderful space is that only one man can contemplate and enjoy its surroundings. Others have visited his library, albeit by invitation only. His world, his rules, I guess. But what a world.

Aside: Here’s some photos of beautiful libraries around the world that you and I can visit.

The Cheapest Car on Earth

tataThe citizens of India will soon be able to purchase the cheapest car on earth. It is only USD $2,500. It has no radio, no tachometer, no power steering, no power windows, no air conditioning, and one windshield wiper.

Indian engineers at Tata Motors have pared the car down in an effort that would make IKEA proud. The analog speedometer is only precise within +/-10 kph – but that’s okay, since it is fitted with a 30 horsepower engine.

Some corners were also cut with respect to safety, durability and emissions. Nevertheless, like discount airlines, or Ford’s Model T in turn-of-the-century America or MIT’s OLPC (aka the “$100 laptop”), this car will revolutionize travel in the moped and bicycle clogged streets of India.

Bubble 2.0? Time will tell.

With Google reaching $700 per share and other zany happenings in Silicon Valley, some are predicting a second dot-com crash. Here’s an amusing song sung to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” stating just that. (And it’s made by an online marketing firm too, natch.)

Personally, I think we need a lot more Web 2.0 companies paying employees with stock and giving things out for free before things get more dire.

Oh, and for us Gen-X and Gen-Yers, here is the definitive pictorial animation of the Billy Joel original.

Two thumbs up for copyrights

Crackberry users can breathe a sigh of relief (before going back to their Blackberries whilst zoning out their colleagues and loved ones): an Ontario Court has sided with RIM over Atari in a copyright infringement battle regarding RIM’s seminal time-wasting games, BrickBreaker and Meteor Crusher. Atari had alleged that those two games were plagarisms of Atari’s ’80’s arcade games, Breakout and Asteroids.

Historians and anthropologists agree that “BrickBreaker” has been one of the largest timewasters in the history of mankind, next to “the Great Wall of China”, “the Canadian goverment gun registry”, “the Dark Ages”, and “Australia’s $89 million Internet porn filter“. Incidentally, BrickBreaker is followed by “Blackberry Mail” on the list.

I spy with my little eye on Google Maps

I know, you were just minding your own business. You were probably pensive and didn’t notice that tinted van driving past you that day. Even if you did, you definitely wouldn’t have guessed all those funny black boxes on its roof where rapid-fire panoramic cameras.  And I bet you didn’t realize that, several months later, the population of the Internet – that’s some 6.5 billion people – can now look at you, and we’re blogging and caching and archiving and indexing you for all of eternity:

streetview_oops

Maybe you got lost and you wanted to ask for directions. Or your car broke down and you want to use a phone. Or it’s for a friend…yeah that’s it, a friend. Or maybe hey, sometimes a Daniel Steele novel just doesn’t cut the mustard.

Google Street View currently covers a handful of American cities. So for the watched, it’s become a bit of a privacy concern. For those of us who live outside these cities, it’s simply been good fun watching you guys.

Don’t worry, we won’t tell.