Google Makes Awesome Happen – Web Fonts API

google open font apiGoogle is awesome. The company has been redefining the word — a popular exclamatory for things far less breathtaking during my adolescence — as often as it customizes its logo over the past dozen years.

This week’s Google I/O keynote fiesta brought plenty of big, exciting, game-changing announcements, but nothing more immediately exciting to me than the launch of the Google Font API (Read Google’s blogpost). Suddenly adding sleek, new fonts to any web page is as easy as visiting the Google Font Directory, copying, pasting, and voila.

There are a few key reasons why I’m so excited about this and I’ll elaborate a bit below:

  1. The fonts are all open source-licensed
  2. It works on all current browsers (cross-platform)
  3. The fonts are cool and the possibilities are endless

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Apple to Shut Down Lala.com, Continue Sucking the Fun out of Music Discovery

Why must Apple crap on everything I love. First – the mp3 player gets abolished by big bro iPod. Now, Lala.com – which I’ve participated in since Beta – is on a respirator for one more month before Apple officially pulls the plug.

lala.com original logo apple eats
Apple’s acquisition of Lala.com in late 2009, led to speculation that an online store — independent of the iTunes application platform — would take over the space. An iTunes.com — or iTunes in the cloud — if you will.

Lala’s humble beginning in 2006 was based on a business model involving the actual physical swapping of CDs through the mail. Or as they not-so-humbly declared at launch, “The Largest Record Store on Earth.” The site would be full of album covers and users would check “have” or “want” and then arrange to send and receive via Lala’s Netflix-like shipping envelopes, for $1 each.

As the tide turned decidedly away from CDs and toward digital music purchases, along with pressure and legal action from artists and labels, Lala launched 2.0 by 2008. The new Lala was a music “community” from which you could play, share, and discover music. Essentially taking the ultimate music store and putting it in the cloud with licenses for unlimited listens of songs and album at a fraction of what iTunes and Amazon charged – about 10 cents.

Lala.com’s valuation jumped to over $100 million by the end of 2009, aided by a $20 million investment by Warner Music Group. Warner dumped both Lala and iMeem in May 2009 citing losses of $33 million. Lala was acquired for an alleged $80-85 million by Apple in December 2009 (or as low as $17 million and even $3 million if you ask some).

Today Lala is integral to the music industry and serves up one of Billboard’s few weekly charts based on Web-plays and purchases.

On May 31th the service will be put down and customers who’ve enjoyed the fast rise and faster fall of the service are not too happy about it and now have until June 14th to apply for iTunes credits.

I wonder how many or the services that I listed on my September 2008 Socializing the Music Industry Guide even still exist. Here’s a list of alternatives posted at RWW today. I’m fortunate to be an early user of Spotify.

Personally, I’m still happy to buy CDs directly from the bands at their shows or from the labels. Otherwise I buy mp3’s at Amazon. Apple is evil.

Official note from LaLa.com posted below:

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Facebook Goes Live with Eventbrite Integration

Facebook Eventbrite Partnership Goes Live on Event Pages

I Just noticed this for the first time moments ago — the first fruits of the Facebook / Eventbrite partnership that was sealed last month. I believe this is somewhat of a first for Facebook — actually marrying an exclusive partner into enabling event payments. It sure seems to be part of an ongoing trend — Facebook began taking PayPal payments in mid-February. Why not just incorporate PayPal into Facebook events? It probably wouldn’t be as messy as the Eventbrite link-up is, at least at launch. For months Eventbrite has leveraged Facebook Connect and users’ propensity for cross-posting about events they had RSVP’d for — one of the more effective uses of Connect, to bolster paid registration by maintaining a presence on users’ Facebook News Feeds. If nothing else this proves Eventbrite to be a winner in the who-will-be-the-next eVite.com sweepstakes.

Upcoming Facebook changes will remove this box. Save your music!

Music No More?

But is this just a test? Is it just a partnership or a precursor to acquisition? Will we see gold coins? Remember, Facebook once co-opted iLike and renamed the iLike app THE “Music” app. iLike was later acquired by MySpace (last August) and now the iLike-powered music app is about to vanish from everyone’s Facebook wall.

Music no more?

It is also now impossible to feature photos and videos in an event post — another sign that Facebook is looking to focus on paid event implementation. Any photos I post as an admin show up on the wall but they will not appear by default as new comments take precedence. Let’s walk through the Eventbrite + Facebook process. It’s not at all intuitive from either the event host or user point of view and in fact, it isn’t truly implemented into Facebook — it’s little more than a link to Eventbrite.

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UN Report: 4.6 Billion Mobile Phone Subscriptions Worldwide, Cell Penetration Doubles in Developing Countries

Amazing to read this latest report from the United Nations’ International Telecommunications Union (emphasis mine):

By the end of 2009, there were an estimated 4.6 billion mobile cellular subscriptions, corresponding to 67 per 100 inhabitants globally (Chart 1). Last year, mobile cellular penetration in developing countries passed the 50 per cent mark reaching an estimated 57 per 100 inhabitants at the end of 2009. Even though this remains well below the average in developed countries, where penetration exceeds 100 per cent, the rate of progress remains remarkable. Indeed, mobile cellular penetration in developing countries has more than doubled since 2005, when it stood at only 23 per cent.
Internet use has also continued to expand, albeit at a slower pace. In 2009, an estimated 26 per cent of the world’s population (or 1.7 billion people) were using the Internet. In developed countries the percentage remains much higher than in the developing world where four out of five people are still excluded from the benefits of being online.

Can only hope that broadband internet penetration access is the next to take off — in the U.S. more than one-third are without it, largely due to cost, according to a Pew Study also released today. Hopefully the U.S. FCC’s National Broadband plan, due to be formally announced March 17, is aggressive enough to make a difference. It’s our future.

The executive summary of the UN report:

Measuring the Information Society 2010 – United Nations International Telecommunications Union

Will All Major U.S. Cities be Connected by High Speed Rail by 2050?

It’s possible, according to a new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) calling for a New Deal-like public works juggernaut that would eventually connect all major cities located within 100 and 500 miles of each other.

Here in Los Angeles, we’d be happy to see our long-promised subway to the sea come to fruition (it’s still due this year). Check out the U.S. PIRG report below:


The Right Track: Building a 21st Century High-Speed Rail System for America