Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Gmail's Mark As Unread Now Selects Specific Messages

Until now, hitting “Mark as Unread” on a multi-message Gmail conversation meant that everything in that thread was reset to an as-new, white, unread message. Gmail made a subtle change to that yesterday, marking only the messages that were new when you clicked open the thread as new again. It only works on the standard “desktop” Gmail web interface, though Gmail’s blog hints at a mobile implementation coming soon. [Official Gmail Blog]


Use Clever Questions To Ease Into Small Talk

For some most of us, making “small talk” while in an elevator, waiting in line, or made to “network” isn’t fun, or easy. Thomas Farley, editor of Modern Manners, offers a few tips on getting by. Farley recommends opening any socially-forced conversation with a “wry observation phrased as a question,” rather than jamming out your hand for a shake or blurting your name. You could, in certain situations, wonder aloud whether you’re at a popular tech conference or a massive iPhone field test. Or wonder aloud what everyone at the office is thinking, with just a hint of rebellious humor. However you break in, you should start thinking ahead into how you’ll further affirm your rapport: As you listen to the reply, prep your next move. Aim for 15-second bursts that segue into further questions.

The How-To snippets are short enough you could almost text them to yourself, and certainly condense with some acronyms, if you really needed a last-minute guide. What’s the most surprisingly effective way you’ve found to get over shyness and chat someone up? Hit us up in the comments. Photo by dominiekth. Make Small Talk [Wired How-To Wiki]


Has iTunes 8.1 Wrecked Your Burner? Here's A Possible Fix

When Apple rolled out iTunes 8.1 a fortnight ago, we noted right off the bat that some early adopters were experiencing issues with using the Genius feature. Now there seems to be a more worrying bug for Windows users. On some machines, iTunes 8.1 is no longer able to burn to otherwise functional drives, and in some cases can’t even read discs from that drive. A long support thread on Apple’s own site identifies one potential fix via a registry edit to disable device filters, although many of the users on the thread are reporting that it hasn’t helped either. But if iTunes has gone haywire on your drive, it’s probably worth following the suggested steps to see if that maes any difference. If you have any other wisdom to impart on this problem, share in the comments below. (Me, I’m unimpressed that merely checking the ‘About’ dialogue in 8.1 crashed my copy of iTunes, but then I’ve always thought it was way too buggy for something with that much market share.)


Tivo Home Networking Package Pricing Vexes Users

One of the limitations of using a Tivo as your PVR of choice is that there’s no straightforward way of transferring recordings of shows you want to keep permanently onto an external device. The recently released Home Networking Package makes that possible, but at $199 it’s a fairly pricey solution. Some Tivo owners are arguing that the pricing is unfair, given that when the original Tivo was released Tivo executives suggested the pricing for networking mobility would be much lower (“tens of dollars”) was the phrase used. I somehow doubt that this would constitute grounds for taking Tivo to the ACCC over deceptive behaviour, but the suggestion that early adopters should get a discount on the new gear, which is being floated on mailing lists such as OzTivo, still seems like the right thing to do.


Woolworths Offering 10% Off iTunes Cards

If you’ve been planning to stock up on a few iTunes tracks, this week might be a good time to do it: Woolworths is offering 10% off $20, $30 and $50 iTunes vouchers in (as far as we can tell) any of its supermarkets. They’re also not a bad item to stockpile for last-minute emergency gifts. [via OzBargain]


One Million Bags Get Lost By Airlines Every Year

Feel nervous every time you queue up at a baggage carousel to wait for your luggage? You might have some ground for that worry. According to the Air Transport Users Council, more than 42 million bags were “mishandled” (that is, sent to the wrong place) in 2008, and one million of those were never found. A bigger worry is that many airlines then contest the value of the lost luggage or offer minimal compensation for essential items needed while the luggage is being located, BBC News reports. All of which sounds like a good case for travelling only with hand luggage if you can manage it (though you’ll still need room for the business travel essentials if it’s a work trip).

Airlines attacked over lost bags [BBC News]

Why Link Deletion Notices Might Threaten Your Site

Many of us find the prospect of mandatory Internet censorship worrying, but we often ignore the fact that there’s already a system in place that allows content to be effectively removed from Australian sites. Over at APC, I’ve written up an explanation of how ACMA uses “link deletion notices” to stop links to content it has deemed objectionable. The legislation isn’t just a hollow threat, as it was recently used to remove a link on respected broadband site Whirlpool. Of course, with broader-based censorship (as favoured by the government) this process would become more widespread, and the list of content deemed “prohibited” much longer. Photo from Wikimedia Commons BLACKLIST: Government cracks down on Whirlpool.net.au [APC]


Get 6GB Of Free Music From SXSW '09

Looking for a whole lot of new, free music? The unofficial SXSW 2009 torrent compiles every song freely available on the SXSW Music web site into three multi-gigabyte BitTorrent downloads.

So just head over to the SXSW 2009 torrent page and get your download on. It’s a great way to get your hands on some legitimate, free, and new music.

Home of the (UNOFFICIAL) SXSW 2009 Torrent [via TorrentFreak]

Google Chrome Beta Updates, Boasts Speed And New Features

Windows only: Google Chrome has released a fresh new beta that integrates many of the features available in the nightly releases, including significant speed improvements and a few cool new features. Apart from the speed increases—which claim a 25% boost in their V8 benchmarks and 35% on Sunspider (see the graphs below for a better idea)—the new beta includes form autofill, full page zoom, autoscroll, and the snazzy tab drag feature you see in the video for breaking tabs into a side-by-side view. As I said, none of these are all that new if you’ve been keeping up with the latest and greatest in the nightly builds, but if you prefer the slightly more stable beta build, you’ll need to download the Google Chrome Channel Changer and change to the Beta channel.

Google Chrome Beta [via Google Chrome Blog]