Amazon Cloud Drive Showers you with Free Storage for Your Music, Documents, Photos and Videos #clouddrive #cloudplayer

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Amazon has just launched “Amazon Cloud Player” (www.amazon.com/cloudplayer) which allows you to upload, store and play your favorite music tunes right from the new Amazon Cloud Drive service (www.amazon.com/clouddrive). Now, you can access and play your music right from the Amazon Cloud Player (web app) or on your Android phone (get free Android app here – requires Android version 1.6 or higher).

In a nutshell, Amazon has just deployed a FREE*, simple-to-use cloud storage solution for not only your music collection, but also your documents, photos and videos. The entry level Amazon Cloud Drive account gets you 5 GB of free* storage. Later in this post, I will tell you how you can get 20GB of free* storage.

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Personally, I love that I can now access my data, photos, videos and music all from the cloud via multiple devices that are located throughout our house, under the couch, our cars, our offices.; oh, and each is running different operating systems. Cloud Drive Here’s a screenshot below of my brand new Amazon Cloud Drive. Notice that there are pre-configured folders already there for you to start uploading and storing your Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos.  How cool is that? So this Cloud Drive is NOT just for music. You get Amazon’s free* Cloud Drive storage space for multiple kinds of content. For years, I’ve been using Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service S3) cloud storage for my own personal, offsite backup storage and love it. I use Jungle Disk desktop software to manage it all, which looks a lot like this new web app below. So this new Cloud Drive offering is a fantastic solution, very impressive and highly useful as it’s accessible via the web.

Cloud Player for Live Music Streaming on your Android device or Computer’s Web Browser So now that you know about the new Cloud Drive storage service, let’s look at the Cloud Player which is accessible via web browser: http://www.amazon.com/cloudplayer or via your Android device (smartphone or tablet). Now, you can easily access your Cloud Drive music from multiple devices at the same time (except I’m hearing that it does not work on the Safari browser, per MG Siegler’s TechCrunch post).

amazon cloud 20GB

Via web browser on my Dell Laptop

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The Android ecosystem just got a lot bigger. Amazon just put a huge stake down in the ground and established itself as the first personal cloud storage service that provides you with 24/7 live streaming of your stored music from the web or your Android phone. Oh, and it’s free*. And it’s not stuck in a proprietary desktop application.

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Cables vs. Cloud We all know the drill: you get super excited about some cool new music you just heard *live* at SXSW, you quickly Google the band/song info, then go download the new music onto your computer’s music player; wait… where’s that stupid sync cable?! …ok, you finally found the cable under the couch just before your cat chewed off the plug (phew!). Then you then run back to your computer to attempt a ‘sync’ of the music to your smartphone and also go copy that 1 song across all your other computers and mobile devices all so you can be sure to find it later when you want to hear it (yea right) … what a mess.

This conundrum of managing music across multiple devices has been vexing the mobile generation for some time now. There are a number of rumors circulating on the ‘net about supposed, futuristic music storage services, music “lockers”, MobileX personal cloud/sync services, etc. that all promise this type of seamless and easy-to-use cloud storage solution, but none have yet come to life. That’s why last  year I finally gave up on buying, storing, organizing, syncing, copying and managing my own music (not to mention the DRM issues on multiple devices!).  To simplify things and save my sanity, I just went with Pandora for live streaming of music on demand, which I love –don’t get me wrong– however, this really wasn’t an ideal solution since I don’t have *my* own music collection on Pandora. So, my music collection was pretty much forgotten and only collecting dust.

So Amazon’s new Cloud Drive and matching Cloud Player solution, which integrates nicely with the accompanying Android app, now allows you to put your music in the cloud (yay!) and play it whenever and wherever you want; whether that be on your work laptop, your personal laptop, your Android tablet on the coffee table, or your new brand new Android smartphone… you get the idea.  Finally, no more stupid sync’ing and endless copying of files and trying to manage all those cumbersome music collections, chewed-up cables and lost devices!  Now, you can just upload music right to Amazon Cloud Player (or buy MP3s on Amazon for even faster access) and that’s it… just start enjoying the freedom of YOUR music, on demand from the cloud, wherever you want… nice!  Of course, this cloud service probably won’t work in Antarctica as you’ll need to have internet access to access the cloud. Sorry polar bears, no cloud drive or cloud player for you! Go get your piece of the Cloud So, now it’s your turn. Go get your piece of the cloud! Amazon’s Cloud Drive makes this whole process dead simple and super easy to use. I think this will convert a lot of folks to the “cloud” once and for all.

When you first get started on Amazon’s new Cloud Drive service, you can immediately access the 5 GB of free* storage. However, if you’ve got mounds of music to upload, like I do, then go for the promotional deal and get the 20GB account for free* when you purchase an album on Amazon’s MP3 store site* (there’s a bunch of $5 albums they have for you to choose from). Of course, there’s always more storage and pricing options* you can choose instead to store even more stuff in the cloud; you know, for all of your music that’s currently stuck on your computer’s hard drive, that pen drive rolling around under your car seat for two years, your old cracked MP3 player and your bright, shiny new smartphone.

Remember, this isn’t JUST for music. You can also upload photos, videos and documents. I think some well known music and photo sharing sites will be noticing Amazon’s bold moves today. Personally, I applaud Amazon’s swift, bold move and thank them for being the first to market with this highly useful, cloud-based solution.

Here’s a video from Amazon introducing their new Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services. See Amazon’s full press release.

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Thanks Amazon for liberating music from the shackles of proprietary desktop music software!

So what do you think of this new service from Amazon? Will this get more people interested in the cloud for personal data storage and retrieval? I think this just might do it. Not to mention, the impact this announcement will have on the Android mobile ecosystem, which just got a lot bigger! *See Amazon’s web site for the full details and legal disclaimers regarding their new cloud offerings, mentioned above.

Updated for 2014 -- SXSW 2012 - Map of Austin Venues

Get around SXSW with my handy web application (useful for desktop, tablet and smartphone).

SXSW 2012 custom venue map
SXSW 2012 custom venue map
SXSW 2012 custom venue map

[caption id="attachment_1505" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="SXSW 2012 custom venue map"][/caption] SXSW is next week, so guess who is going a million miles an hour to prepare? Yep, you guessed it, yours truly. One of the hardest things about going to SXSW is that it is a conference that is spreadout all over downtown; so, if you're not a local, it's very challenging to find your way around to make your schedule without losing your mind. So, I know I needed to solve this problem and develop a solution fast. I've only been in Austin a little over a year and half and live about 30 minutes NW of the city and don't have the exact map in my mind just yet.

Well, this is where I needed a quick and easy map on my phone to help me in a pinch, without having to type in every address as I am avoiding throngs of people and trying to focus on what's next. My first thought was to develop a schedule in evernote or a google spreadsheet with a link out to the google map url for each venue, which is nice, but i needed something visual so I could quickly assess feasibility of any last minute changes to my plans (this always! happens at sxsw for a variety of reasons, so be flexible and ready to go at a moments notice).

In order to solve my map dilema, I googled for a solution but nothing turned up. There are no SXSW maps for this mobile-attendee-looking-at-all-options purpose, so I developed my own today and am now sharing it with you so you can use it too! There are two "views" of my SXSW Map (web and mobile). First, a view via web browser of Google Maps to use on your laptop. Second, a mobile version optimized to display nicely on your smartphone or tablet. My phone always wants to open up the Google Maps application and doesn't allow me to access Google Maps directly via the web, so there was a huge problem right away with trying to view my new custom SXSW map that way.

So next, I found a solution to address that very issue. That was all I needed to develop a highly useful mobile version of my custom SXSW venue map, so here it is: Custom Google Map designed just for SXSW - list of Austin venues / mapped locations

1. Web browser - SXSW Map (good for your laptop, see image above elow)

2. Mobile view - SXSW Map   (good for your smartphone or tablet, see both images below)

Using #2 Mobile view above, select the venue location you want to go to then the Google Maps application will pop up with on your device with the map, from there you know the drill, see the visual map, select the button to do more options like "get directions from here" (tip: select the pedestrian icon if you're walking!).

Here are some screenshots below from my phone so you can see what the experience is like. Let me know if you have any feedback or ideas for improvements. I hope this is useful for you - let me know. Perhaps I will bump into you while you're navigating your way around SXSW with my map on your phone! Happy mapping.

SXSW Venue Map - mobile version
SXSW Venue Map - mobile version

[caption id="attachment_1508" align="alignleft" width="433" caption="SXSW Venue Map - Mobile version (TIP: Click arrow, set Bookmark on Home Screen)"][/caption]

SXSW map google app
SXSW map google app

[caption id="attachment_1430" align="alignnone" width="433" caption="SXSW map google app (appears after you select a venue above)"][/caption]

See the MAP here as well... Feel free to re-use / embed on your site; of course, please attribute back to me and link to this blog post here. Thank you.

View SXSW 2012 in a larger map

Girl Scout cookie pie chart (popularity breakdown) 25% thin mints #infographic

Girl Scout cookie pie chart

September 9, 2011 to Statistical Visualization  •  Share on Twitter  •  Comments (2)

Girl scout cookies

With Girl Scout cookie season around the corner, Wired pies it up with cookies showing percentage of sales. It's all about the Caramel deLites. [Thanks, Elise] via Girl Scout cookie pie chart.

- via Flowing Data.

Google+ Auto Post to Twitter & Facebook -- Pro Tips Round-Up: Week 3 « Google+ Insider's Guide

This is an interesting way to share your updates to Facebook, identi.ca, and Twitter without having to install an extension. Add +Agent G to your circle, and then log in to your desired account here. You'll receive an authentication string, which you'll need to share with +Agent G in order to authorize syncing. Once you're done, all you have to do when you post updates is share your post with +Agent G.

Go See Your LinkedIn Social Graph - Visualization Tool

[caption id="attachment_1082" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Click to Enlarge"][/caption] Today, I stumbled upon a really cool social network graphing tool from the creative folks over at LinkedIn (part of the LinkedIn labs projects).

Basically, once you connect your account with this LinkedIn web application, you'll see a visual rendering of your LinkedIn network, neatly organized by colorful groups of your network connections you've created over time.

So, for example, my connections relating to my 10 years in New York and my Social Media Club group in Rochester, NY are grouped together. Not only are physical connections like these obvious, but also virtual connections, such as "social media" connections. My largest network is comprised of my Technology industry connections; no surprise there as technology permeates my entire career.

[caption id="attachment_1083" align="aligncenter" width="550" caption="Click to Enlarge"][/caption]

To get started go here: http://inmaps.linkedinlabs.com/network and allow LinkedIn labs to connect with your profile.

When complete, you can view the social graph rendered and then "label"your networks.

TIP: Use the magnifier tool in to zoom in and read the names in each color area. Then begin labeling accordingly.

I find this sort of visual rendering to be very appealing, not only because I am a visual learner, but because it allows one to see how their career connections are related. You can also easily spot key influencials and people who are very connected to the same circles of friends and industry connections you have. Some of those folks are the same ones who helped me make connections... very interesting data!!

What do you think of this? Do you find this useful and intriguing like I do? Does this kind of tool make it easier or harder to group your network of friends and professional connections?

Here's a visual step-by-step of the screens you'll see as  you generate your very own LinkedIn network social graph:

[slideshow]

Facebook mobile -- Facebook for Every Phone

At Facebook, we work to ensure people around the world have a great Facebook experience no matter where they are or how they access our site.

Today, we're launching the new Facebook for Every Phone app, which offers a fast and comprehensive Facebook experience on over 2,500 different phones. This app not only includes Facebook’s most popular features, such as News Feed, Inbox, and Photos, but also enables you to upload photos and find friends from your phone’s contacts.  People all over the world can download the app by visiting m.facebook.com and scrolling down to the download link, or by entering d.facebook.com/install directly into their mobile browser. You can also find it in leading app stores, including GetJar, Appia, and Mobile Weaver.

We also want to make sure the Facebook for Every Phone app is affordable to try and use, which is why we’ve collaborated with many carriers worldwide (see list below) to offer you free data access to this app for 90 days. This experience is optimized to use less data than other Java apps or mobile sites, making it much more affordable for people to use when the 90-day period ends.

The Facebook for Every Phone app will be available globally on Java-enabled phones starting today, and we are working on making the app compatible with even more handsets in the future.

With one easy download of this app, get all of what Facebook has to offer on your mobile device so you can stay connected with your family and friends wherever you are. For more information on how to download and use this application, you can check out the video below.