Sad news hits the airwaves: Layoffs at NPR

It’s a sad day. We saw Yahoo! go through its second mass layoff in under a year. And now it’s being reported that National Public Radio — of which shows including All Things Considered, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Car Talk have attracted a wide audience via iTunes — has eliminated 7 percent of its workforce, or 64 positions, and canceled two shows, News & Notes and Day to Day, in what is the organization’s first major layoff in more than 25 years, The Washington Post reports.

Text messaging comes to Gmail Labs — SRSLY this time

It happens to all of us. You’re chatting with someone online through instant messenger and they leave abruptly when you still have something to say. Maybe they lost their Internet connection or maybe they “lost their Internet connection” (you know, the excuse version), but either way, you have something that you still need to say to them. Now you can thanks to the SMS text messaging option now available in Gmail Labs.

Le Web: Like a web conference, without the web

I didn’t go to Le Web. No offense to Parisians, but I much prefer visiting Europe in the non-winter and non-conference months. Still, I know some folks who were headed there with much excitement, so I figured I’d tag along virtually (can one still use that expression?) via blog and Twitter feeds. After all, it was Europe’s largest web 2.0 conference, with 1,800 entrepreneurs each forking over €1,500 for the chance to demo their startups and meet with their peers from around the world.

Where are all the Android apps?

[Editor's note: With the iPhone and Google's Android dominating media attention in the mobile space, it's only natural to start drawing comparisons. Applications represent a prime arena for such a competition, except for one thing -- Android doesn't even come close to rivaling the iPhone when it comes to app offerings. Below, ad network executive Rana Sobhany, explains why Google seems to be dragging its feet.]

Hollywood is pulling movies from iTunes so my grandma can watch her movie of the week

You have got to be kidding me. Maybe you’ve seen some movies disappear from services like iTunes over the past few weeks, I know I have, and I’m not alone. Well, that’s because the movie and television powers in Hollywood are demanding they be yanked while these movies get special treatment on television. You know, like being the movie of the week on some channel my grandparents watch.

Computing pioneer Alan Kay on the future of tech (he wants you to play less Guitar Hero)

Fellow VentureBeat writer Dean Takahashi and I caught up with computing pioneer Alan Kay at Stanford University yesterday, at an event celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first public demonstration of the computer mouse. Yesterday he said that Engelbart was far ahead of his time with inventions such as a computer display for viewing computer output.

First on Mars launches, wants to be a TV show aggregator

First on Mars, an application that aggregates network and cable television shows for online viewing, officially launches today. The site, which has been in public beta-testing since September, lets users create custom playlists (along the lines of personalized music sites Pandora and last.fm) of shows they’re watching online. First on Mars brings you directly to the network sites of available shows but lets you stream and watch the shows within the frame of the First on Mars’ site. In essence, the company wants to be a programming guide for TV on the internet, a cable box for the web.

Can't get tickets to the NBA All Star game? Watch it in a movie theater in 3D

The NBA’s All Star game is rarely a good game because no one wants to play defense. But it’s fun to watch because all of the world’s most talented players take the stage trying to one-up one another. Naturally, it’s nearly impossible to get a ticket to the game, but the NBA, TNT and Cinedigm hope to provide fans not able to go with the best possible viewing experience this year by showing the game in movie theaters around the county — in 3D.

Why did Apple kill the iTunes $5 movie deals?

A month ago I wrote about a potentially problematic new section of iTunes — potentially problematic because it was going to bankrupt me with its great deals. The section was an “Under $5″ area which offered up a handful of movies for $4.99 or less. But now, it’s gone.

The Dark Knight: Buy the movie, not the iPhone game

In some circles, today is “Dark Knight Day.” That is, the ultra successful Batman film, The Dark Knight, was released on DVD and to digital stores like iTunes today. And people were apparently excited enough about the release to make it the top-selling film on iTunes for all of 2008 — before it was even released (thanks to pre-sales). For those who were thinking about celebrating Dark Knight Day with The Dark Knight: Batmobile iPhone game based on the movie, I have one word of advice: Don’t.

Google Book Search: now with magazines!

Google announced today that its Book Search engine is now home to magazine archives. Partnerships with publishers such as Hearst mean you can read magazine articles in full-color, from page-to-page, in their original context. And you don’t have to be afraid of papercuts.

Twitter fixes TwitterFon because Apple takes too long

The Twitter iPhone application TwitterFon started having some major issues last week. Essentially bad data being passed to it from Twitter caused it to fail on load. It was unusable. TwitterFon developer Kazuho Okui was quickly on top of the issue and coded a new version to fix it. The problem is that while he sent it to Apple six days ago, they still haven’t approved it. Luckily, today Twitter stepped up and fixed the issue on their end.

They. Are. Watching. Google Street View doubles U.S. coverage

Google Street View, a service that provides real street-level pictures in Google Maps, started out as equal parts creepy and cool. While some users were up in arms over the personal privacy ramifications, others were anxious for it to roll out to their hometowns so they, too, could see their homes up close in a web browser. Today, with coverage being doubled, love it or hate it, Google Street View seems here to stay.

Clerk Dogs is the know-it-all video store nerd in your browser

To work at a video store, it’s pretty much a requirement that you not only love movies but also know a lot about them — or at least think you do. We’ve all been to a local video store where the clerk dishes out recommendations. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re awful, but they’re always opinionated. A new service, Clerk Dogs, hopes to take the best of those recommendations to the web.

Monopoly passes Go, comes to the iPhone

I’m going to assume that everyone reading this post was once a child. And with that assumption, I will make another one: That you’ve played the board game Monopoly at some point in your life. If that’s the case, you probably have fond memories of it. So I’m pleased to report that those memories translate well to the new iPhone version of the game.

Will Microsoft's CES keynote yield a ZunePhone?

Yes, the rumor is back again. And it will keep coming back until Microsoft eventually releases its own phone (which I think it will and should). The rumor today is that Microsoft could use chief executive Steve Ballmer’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) keynote to unveil a device based on both its Zune portable music device and the Danger-made Sidekick device, Tech Trader Daily reports.

Google Talk is failing says Twitter

In the past, when a service I use regularly failed, I’d send out some instant messages to friends to see if they were noticing the same thing. Of course, that’s a problem when the instant messaging service you use goes down, as Google Talk (or “Gchat”) has today. Luckily, with the miracle service that is Twitter Search, I know that I’m not alone.

Strands launches first lifestreaming iPhone app

Strands has become the first “lifestreaming” company to get an app in Apple’s iPhone App Store. Like other aggregator services, including FriendFeed and socialmedian, Strands’ web service (in beta) lets you share your activity on Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and many other sites, and see what your friends on Strands are sharing.

FreundFeed? FriendFeed launches in six new languages

FriendFeed as a concept makes sense. You take your social data from all around the web and gather it in one place so as to facilitate conversations around your content. And so if a concept makes sense in English, it makes sense in other languages too — and that’s why FriendFeed is rolling out interface support for six new languages today.

Apple killed GPS to get the iPhone in Egypt. What will it kill for China?

One of the centerpieces of the iPhone 3G is its global positioning systems (GPS) capabilities. While the first iteration of the device didn’t have it, the new version uses it fairly extensively for a wide range of third-party apps as well as the Google Maps built-in app. So it’s interesting that Apple was forced to kill the GPS functionality of the iPhone in order to sell the device in Egypt, The New York Times reports.