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.

If the New York Times dies, does the news die?

The death of an institution isn’t far off, writes the Atlantic in an article titled End Times, and with it an entire industry may be preparing to slip underwater. Low on cash, high in debt, the legendary New York Times is reeling from the recession. There’s no guarantee that it, or many others of our best newspapers, will survive the next year.

Vain model Googles herself, sues over "skanky" findings

The internet is serious business. Just ask Canadian ex-model Liskula Cohen, who’s suing Google to unmask the individual or individuals behind the blog Skanks in New York, a site hosted by Google’s Blogger publishing service. The blog didn’t release Cohen’s social security number, credit card info or home address — it just crowned her its “#1 skanky superstar,” among other glowing accolades, according to the New York Daily News.

Fair weather fanboys

Apple’s final Macworld Expo keynote today drew reviews that ranged from boring to awful. For a company that has been no stranger to praise from the press in recent years, there’s a growing concern that Apple can no longer live up to expectations, and that this may be a sign of a larger problem for the company going forward. I have to laugh at that notion.

F-A-I-L: Official Scrabble Facebook apps still smaller than Scrabulous was

This summer, board game makers Hasbro and Mattel forced the popular Facebook gaming application Scrabulous to shut down, claiming that it violated the companies’ copyrights on the crossword board game Scrabble. But nearly half a year later, the official Scrabble applications that Hasbro and Mattel replaced Scrabulous with have yet to reach the user traffic numbers of their erstwhile opponent.

Facebook: The new battleground for popstars? Lily Allen takes on Katy Perry

British singer/songwriter Lily Allen has revived a feud with U.S. pop star Katy Perry (of “I Kissed a Girl” song fame), threatening to post Perry’s phone number on Facebook should Perry make any more disparaging comments about her. Isn’t that the sort of drama that MySpace is usually associated with, not Facebook? It looks like celebrity tastes in social networking sites are changing, if not exactly growing up.

Pandora Radio version 2.0 launching for iPhone today

Pandora Radio, Pandora’s iPhone application, was the top downloaded app in Apple’s App Store for all of 2008. By the end of the year, it had been downloaded over 2 million times. But the streaming music discovery service apparently isn’t content to rest on its laurels: Version 2 of the app launches today.

One prediction down: iTunes goes DRM-free

When most people make predictions for the coming year, they probably don’t expect them to come true six days in. But that’s the case with our 2009 prediction that iTunes would go DRM-free this year. Apple announced that its music store will lose its DRM at the Macworld Expo today. But in reality it was an easy prediction to make, because it just makes sense.

Replaceable battery be damned, give me 8 hours of life!

One thing announced at today’s Macworld event in San Francisco that is sure to cause a lot of discussion is the new 17-inch MacBook’s eight-hour battery. That discussion will undoubtedly be both positive and negative as there will be two camps: Those who will hate that the battery is no longer replaceable, and those who will drool over the new battery’s supposed eight-hour lifespan. Count me in the latter category.