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Noman Ali: Gadgets, Websites, Google, Social Media and SEO


Monthly Archives: October 2010

According to a recent international survey of 2,200 mothers, 81% of children under the age of two currently have some form of online presence — ranging from photos uploaded and shared by their parents, to a full-fledged profile on a social networking site. A full 92% of children in the U.S. have an online presence by the time they are two, compared to 73% in western Europe.

The study, which was conducted by Internet () security firm AVG, found that nearly one in four children have an online presence before they are even born. On average, 23% of parents share images from prenatal sonograms on the web; a full third do so in the U.S. The practice is even more common in Canada (37%), and significantly less popular in western Europe (13-15%) and Japan (14%).

After birth, 7% of babies and toddlers have an e-mail address created for them (12% in Spain), and 5% have their own profile on a social network.

When asked why they were inspired to post images of their infants online, more than 70% of parents said it was because they wanted to share them with friends and family; 22% of mothers said they wanted to expand the content on their social networking profiles, while 18% admitted they were merely mimicking their peers. Few (3.5%) expressed concern about the amount of information that would be available about their children in future years.

AVG CEO J.R. Smith said he found it “shocking” that most 30-year-olds have an “online footprint stretching back 10 to 15 years at most, while the vast majority of children today will have online presence by the time they are two years old — a presence that will continue to build throughout their whole lives.”

He cautions parents to think about the kinds of information they upload about their children to the web, since that content “will follow him or her for the rest of their life.”

Personally, I’m grateful that my parents weren’t able to chronicle my childhood online. It’s infinitely reassuring to know that home videos of spaghetti-eating and squabbling with my little sister are safely stored not in the Google ()-optimized archives of YouTube () but in obsolete videocasettes, where they belong.


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Welcome to Panasonic’s Jungle

Panasonic’s new portable online games machine, The Jungle, is out of the bag and now 100% official. What’s the company line on the handheld designed exclusively for online gaming and MMORPGs?

The Jungle’s official web site calls it a “new mobile device concept designed specifically for online gamers,” a “mean little machine features a kick ass display, touch pad, keyboard, and other gaming controls,” they claim.

What’s it for? Well, The Jungle will someday be able to play a mix of “content” and “experiences.” In real world speak, that means The Jungle will at least be compatible with the browser-based MMO from SyFy and BigPoint, Battlestar Galactica Online. The new platform’s web site also makes a couple references to free-to-play browser game RuneScape as well, so don’t be surprised if Jagex’s fantasy MMORPG announced at some point.

The Jungle’s creators say they’re “working with leading online game developers to create some exciting new content.” Sure sounds like The Jungle will be able to play many browser-based MMOs and may have the ability to serve as your on-the-go Farmville player, but probably isn’t up to the task of running World of Warcraft remotely.

The platform holder is also working with video game web site on a “hilarious” new show call Online Underground, which looks to feature the platform’s cartoon mascots delivering “news and information in the world of online gaming.”

No date has been specified for The Jungle.

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It’s been a big couple of months for Facebook — the site launched its Places feature in August, had a major gaming-focused event two weeks ago, and recently revamped its photos feature to allow for high-resolution uploads (which is a big deal). And it’s not done: an invite just landed in our inbox for a special event this Wednesday morning at 10 AM. Facebook isn’t giving any hints as to what this event will cover (sometimes they do — they told us in advance that the last event was focused on gaming). But the fact that they’re trying to get a bunch of reporters down to Palo Alto at 10AM would seem to indicate that this is important (please). Oh, and they’re giving us shuttle service, which probably means they’re inviting a lot of press.

We’re going to try to find out what’s being announced, but here are a few guesses:

  • iPad: The lack of an official Facebook iPad app has been glaring since the device launched six months ago, and while some third party apps have stepped up to the plate (and done very well financially), a Facebook app is still nowhere to be seen.
  • (More) Places: Facebook Places launched in mid-August, and it’s still missing some key features, particularly on the desktop version of the website. Likewise, we could see a much larger campaign urging local businesses to become active on Facebook Places.
  • Credits: Facebook Credits are being used in more games (they frequently came up in the gaming event last month). But what about a broader launch that lets anyone use them?
  • The Facebook Bar – Facebook has been working on a Meebo Bar clone for ages now — they even announced it at f8. Where is it?
  • The Facebook Phone: They denied it existed. Then they said it sort of does. A full launch is the next logical step, obviously.

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Now What’s Next….


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The phrase “Google it” is getting a whole new meaning today; the search giant has just released its URL shortener to the public and created a standalone website so that anyone can use Google to shorten and track the URLs they share via social media sites and e-mail. initially debuted last December as a feature integrated into other Google products. Google’s newly public URL shortener competes with a myriad of other popular services, being the most notable of the bunch.

The company claims that its shortener boasts stability, security and speed. The former two are especially important as several other services have been plagued by both downtime and malicious parties masking deceptive links. features automatic spam detection, and “near 100% uptime since our initial launch,” according to the company’s announcement.

The product also comes with expected URL-tracking features. As a user, you can log in to your Google account to view URL history, traffic sources, referrers and visitor profiles for countries, browsers and platforms.

Google is known to hide bonus easter egg features in its products, and is no different. Earlier today, Google engineer Matt Cutts tweeted one such easter egg — add .qr to a shortened URL and you’ll create a QR code that, when scanned, will redirect to the original URL. It’s a quirky additive that makes all the more friendly for brands and marketers experimenting with QR codes. A Twitter tipster also informed us that you can add .info to the URL to check out analytics.

As for why Google is going public with, it’s anybody’s guess. Initially, was designed because the company didn’t want to rely on other URL shorteners for the same purpose. Our guess is that it’s another small part to the much speculated about social strategy. After all, Google is the business of URLs, and URLs are the fabric of the social web. What’s your take? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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