Luxury sample sale sites Gilt Groupe and RueLaLa pick up traffic

Luxury spending may be down, but that doesn’t mean fashionistas aren’t clamoring for deals. Sample sales, which have been around for years, are often a way for designers to get rid of overstocked pieces and clothes that didn’t sell well in stores — at a steep discount. Shoppers in the know can get onto mailing lists to attend boutique and warehouse sales. But now it looks as if that exclusive trend is progressively moving online, with unique visitors to online sample sale sites increasing over the past year — and among them — according to a recent report from Compete.

A new force has entered Yahoo: Carol Bartz, CEO

Carol Bartz, former chief executive at software services company Autodesk, has accepted the chief executive job at Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal and BoomTown are reporting. Bartz has years of experience leading Autodesk and serving on the boards other technology giants like Cisco and Intel. Although her experience is in tech-heavy companies, not Yahoo’s core business of consumer web services and advertising, she’s one of the more respected executives in the Valley.

Palm Pre: Possibly as low as $149?

Now that everyone has seen Palm’s new phone, the Pre, and wants one, the biggest question is pricing. Initially, it seemed that Palm planned to charge more than the $199 (and $299) that AT&T and Apple charge for the iPhone, since Palm’s chief executive Ed Colligan indicated it was a better device that could command a higher price tag. This was seemingly confirmed by a report a few days ago that the Pre may be $399 on Sprint’s network. But those numbers have since been clarified a bit further.

The first video recorded on the G1 — and it looks awful

Everyone knows that the iPhone doesn’t have video recording capabilities built in, but most people don’t realize that the T-Mobile’s G1 doesn’t either. Both require software solutions to keep the camera lens open and to decode video. Apple doesn’t currently allow for this software in the App Store, but the Android Marketplace lacks the same restrictions — it’s just taken awhile to come up with a solution. But now someone has — and it looks awful.

The U.S. Congress: The new stars of YouTube?

Move over, C-SPAN. The 111th Congress opens today with a virtual bang — YouTube is launching channels for The Senate and the House of Representatives to make it easier for average viewers to connect with their Senators and Representatives (we know you’ve been procrastinating on your letter writing campaigns). An explanation of the new service (delivered with obvious help from a teleprompter) can be seen here:

Sling Media's top execs sling out of the company

Much of the key management team at Sling Media is leaving the company, paidContent reports. Those on their way out include chief executive Blake Krikorian, senior vice president of business development Jason Krikorian, president Jason Hirschhorn, chief creative officer Ben White and vice president of sales Greg Wilkes.

Extra guac: Chipotle gets an iPhone app

One largely untapped but potentially big market for mobile applications is in remote ordering. Think about it. Who wants to make a call or wait in line at a crowded fast food place, when you can place your order from wherever you are, on your phone? The Mexican-food chain Chipotle is apparently thinking the same thing, with its new iPhone app.

With a big N-trig investment, Microsoft is racing Apple to multi-touch

The keyboard has been around since the 19th century. The mouse is 40 years old. Yet we still use both as our main points of interaction with computers, even as their technology grows by leaps and bounds each year. But a new $24 million investment, led by none other than Microsoft, in Israeli startup N-trig, points to a different future for input mechanisms.

Yodle lands $10M for local web advertising

Yodle, a company that helps small businesses buy online ads to market themselves locally, has raised $10 million in third-round funding to continue product development and expand sales nationally. An alternative to Yellow Pages, the New York-based company aims to turn click-throughs into direct-response phone calls and new customers for small, local businesses like salons and mechanics.

iPlurk brings a bland Plurk to the iPhone

In the micro-messaging space there is Twitter and then everyone else. But Plurk is one of those “everyone elses” that is somewhat interesting because it at least attempts to look different than a straight-up Twitter clone. Unfortunately, a new iPhone app for the service fails to take advantage of that differentiating factor.

Windows 7: 2009 or 2010?

It’s pretty clear that Microsoft would rather see its next operating system, Windows 7, sooner rather than later. But conflicting reports and opinions have it launching anywhere from mid-2009, to sometime in 2010.

Twitter moves beyond blaming top users for its issues

I wrote a headline back in May that got quite a bit of play around the Internet: Twitter: Don’t blame Ruby, blame Scoble. The post was based on Twitter developer (now the service’s API lead) Alex Payne suggesting that Twitter’s scaling problems were due to “popular users” (like blogger Robert Scoble) sending messages to their thousands of followers quickly. While Twitter later clarified that statement a bit more, Scoble and other top Twitter users were angry at blame being pointed at them for Twitter’s failings. But Twitter is beyond pointing fingers at its users now, as it writes on its blog today.

Windows 7 public beta — hold the "public," for now

Microsoft was set to release the first public beta version of its Windows 7 operating system at noon today, but a rush of traffic has forced it to delay the roll-out, a post on the Windows Blog states. While some potential testers are understandably upset, I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing for Microsoft.

93 of top 100 brands don't control their Twitter name

By now just about everyone is aware of domain squatters — users who buy a web site domain name thinking or knowing that someone else will want it in the future, hoping to get money for it. But with the rise in popularity of services like Twitter, the problem is spreading to usernames as well. How bad is it? Consider this: 93 of the top 100 global brands aren’t in control of their brand names on Twitter, blogger Erik J. Heels points out.

Stop the presses: Google gets another new favicon

Reports are lighting up the web that Google has a new favicon, those little icons associated with a website that show up in the web browser. I just reloaded my iGoogle homepage, and sure enough, there it is. Gone is the boring silver and blue “g,” now we get a more colorful “g.”

MySpace and Wall Street Journal contest to make World Economic Forum in Davos "a place for friends"?

MySpace has joined forces with the Wall Street Journal for “MySpace Journal,” a competition to send one lucky MySpace user to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The winner will be a “special correspondent” on behalf of the entire MySpace community and get to join the Davos press corps. If this sounds familiar, it’s because YouTube has a Davos contest too.

Burger King: Will sacrifice Facebook friends for free Whopper

It looks like Burger King has been reading into the prediction that cutting down on Facebook friends is going to be trendy in 2009. The fast food chain has developed Whopper Sacrifice, a Facebook application that rewards you for doing just that — delete 10 of your friends on Facebook and score a coupon for the company’s signature burger. That’s much easier than the embarrassing tasks (naked handstand, anyone?) suggested by the application page. As Homer Simpson would say, “Mmm…burger.”

Change Chrome's channel to get beta features

“Release early, release often,” that’s apparently the creed the Google Chrome team lives by, as it describes today on its blog. To that end, Google is taking a bit of a different approach when it comes to launching new features for its Chrome web browser: It’s splitting features up into three different channels tailored to different kinds of users.

DECE gets some new members for its league of extraordinary DRM — still no Apple

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), a consortium attempting to set new standards for the transfer and storage of copyrighted digital content, announced that six new members signed on today at the CES conference in Las Vegas. Deluxe, Panasonic, Samsung, MOD Systems, Sonic Solutions/CinemaNow and Widevine Technologies join a roster that already included many of the prominent names in digital content. One name still missing, however, is Apple.

New York Times' new API frees congressional data

I’ve been quite impressed by The New York Times’ efforts to expose its data for use in outside web applications. And despite The Gray Lady’s apparently dire financial troubles, it continues to release new application programming interfaces, or APIs. The most recent addition is the Congress API, which allows developers to access data about which congresspeople represent which districts, and how they voted on specific issues.

The new prolific iPhone app developer: Microsoft

For a company whose chief executive laughed off the iPhone when it was first announced, Microsoft is sure making a lot of iPhone applications. The company unveiled another app, Tag Reader [iTunes], at CES today, marking the second time it’s released an app to Apple’s App Store in the past month.

Cisco study: U.S. wins TV and mobile-watching world olympics

Cisco Systems has released results from its new Visual Networking Index survey looking at video consumption habits around the world, and some of them may surprise you. Among other things, it gauged people’s attitudes toward online, mobile and television viewing of video content in the U.S., China, Germany and Sweden. Below, we’ve broken down the report’s findings for optimum factoid digestion:

Details about Google's layoffs — actually, no, none

Rumors circulated late last year that Google was planning to make significant cuts to its temporary workers to cut costs. That definitely did happen, but details remain murky, even after a new regulatory filing showed up this week. Interestingly, Google seems to be going to some lengths to keep some of this information under wraps.

A hard day's night: Norwegian Beatles podcast yanked

The rumors are true, the Beatles have fled Norway. NRK, the Norwegian public broadcasting company, had to pull all 212 episodes of its podcast “Our Daily Beatles” last night. The free podcasts, which we discovered on Monday, included anecdotes behind the songs and offered the original Beatles tunes in their entirety.