Announcing the Digital Lust Google Music Giveaway Spectacular!

Greetings, internets!

I have returned from an unannounced, week-long vacation with some great news for my readers! I’ve gotten into Google Music, and I have 3 invites that I am very excited to give away!

That’s why I am announcing tonight my Google Music Giveaway Spectacular! All this week, we’re giving readers the chance to let their voices be heard, and get something in return! To enter, all you have to do is post a comment, on any Digital Lust post except for this one. Comments need to be well-thought out responses to the post, not a simple “I want the Google Music invite.”. Posts should also be at least 50 words or longer.

On Friday, August 12, 2011, I will announce the winners of the contest. Winners will be selected based on the quality of the content written in their post.

But wait! Theres more! I also have hundreds of Google+ invites to give away too. So, to make things even more enticing, all entrants to this giveaway will receive a Google+ invite, just for making a post (as long as it follows all rules listed both above and below). Everyone gets one. Winning!!!

Now that we have the basics down, let’s take a look at the official rules.

Official Rules
1. Comments posted must be 50 words or more, with relevant responses to the post you have selected to write about. Simply stating “I want a Google Music invite” in your post will disqualify you from the Google Music invite, as well as the Google+ invite.

2. Due to the friendly nature of Digital Lust, anything deemed inflammatory or inappropriate will not be tolerated, and will immediately disqualify you from both parts of this giveaway.

3. All posters must ensure that their Gmail address is listed in either their profile, or somewhere in their post. Failure to provide a Gmail account will disqualify you from the giveaway. Gmail accounts are available for free at <a href="http://www.gmail.com. It takes only a minute to register, and is the only email address permitted for use in this giveaway.

4. Promotion of any other website or product is strictly prohibited in all Digital Lust comments, and will disqualify entrants. Exceptions to this include links to other WordPress blogs that are listed ONLY in their profile (do not include these links in your post).

5. Contest opens August 7th, 2011 at 9:30pm EST and closes on August 12th, 2011 at 5:00pm EST. Winners will be selected after the closing time and will be announced shortly thereafter. For Google+ invites, winners will receive shortly after their post is approved.

I’m looking forward to reading your comments and responses. Be sure to check out Digital Lust all this week for some awesome features that I have planned, and especially check back on Friday evening for the announcement of the winners!

The Hot List: July 12, 2011

The Hot List is the newest feature here on Digital Lust, and will highlight 5 things in the media world that are at the top of my mind. Let’s take a look at this week’s list:

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5. Batman: Arkham City
Batman is back in an all-new game coming to your favorite gaming console later this year. In this followup to the massively amazing 2009 title Batman: Arkham Asylum, gamers will explore Arkham City, a city known for it’s psychotic residents. As Arkham Asylum was one of my personal favorite games of this generation, it will be no shocker if this one tops or even surpasses it. Arkham City will open it’s gates this fall.

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4. Cowboys and Aliens
Universal’s upcoming film Cowboys and Aliens has me excited–two classic genres coming together into an incredibly unusual pic. Starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, the new film looks as if it will be one of the more exciting (or disappointing) films of the year. Look for my official review later this month. It releases on July 29th.

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3. HTC Evo 3D
Sprint’s new flagship phone was reviewed in one of the first posts here on Digital Lust just a couple weeks ago, and as I am learning more about how much this phone truly differs from the original Evo 4G, the more I really like it. This phone features a stereoscopic 3D display, allowing you to take and view 3D images and video. The phone also comes with a copy of The Green Hornet in 3D, as well as a demo of Spiderman 3D: The Game. The phone is also dual-core, making it the greatest option on The Now Network, whether you care for the 3D capabilities or not.

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2. Google+
If you’ve read anything here on Digital Lust in the past week, you would know just how excited I am about Google+. The new social network shows a lot of promise, especially when it comes to sharing and communicating with others. With it’s amazing group chat feature in “Huddle,” as well as spectacular video chatting on Hangouts, and much much more, Google+ is making even Facebook just a little bit scared.

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1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The final installment of the Harry Potter franchise is FINALLY upon us. The movie will pick up where Part 1 left off, so if you’re about to go see the movie, make sure to either read up or watch Part 1 again to make sure you’re prepared! The Battle of Hogwarts and the answer to pretty much every loose end in the series will finally be answered. It’s interesting, after reading the books and watching the movies over the past year, how this tale transformed from something of a children’s book to a dark tale of life and death and many other themes. This one proves to be the most exciting yet, and if the RottenTomatoes TomatoMeter for the movie is any indication of how good it truly is (currently at 97%), then we are all in for a nice conclusion to this epic film series 10 years in the making. I will be seeing Deathly Hallows tomorrow, and I will have an exclusive review available right at midnight on Friday (as everyone else is seeing it).

Google+ Invites Still Up for Grabs!!!!

Google hasn’t stopped letting people in to Google+ in quite a few days!!! Digital Lust wants to invite readers to join the service, so that everyone can join in on the fun.

To receive an invite, you can do one of two things:

1. Submit a comment to any post here on Digital Lust. If you are a WordPress user, make sure your Gmail account is listed as your primary email address. If you are not a WordPress user, make sure to include your Gmail address in your comment (or, just sign up for WordPress).

2. Follow me on Twitter @DigiLust. Send me a Direct Message with your Gmail address, and you’re all set.

That’s all you have to do!!! I’ve gotten several people onto Google+ in the past week, and ready to get several more on. Submit your comments or follow me on Twitter!!!

Quick Impressions: YouTube Redesign

Google seems to be the top story on many different topics in the Internet world right now. They recently launched Google+, which, if you’ve read any of my other posts this week, has been the only thing I’ve really wanted to talk about. Google is also in the midst of redesigning other products and services, giving them a fresh look very consistent to the new Google+ look. Gmail and YouTube both are the current targets in this redesign, and it definitely has some pros and cons to it.

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YouTube is beta testing an all new look…and it’s just okay, for now.

In the above image, you see that addicting-to-watch, lovable dog being teased about food. But thats not the main focus here. The video-interface has changed drastically, with it’s new black background and adjustable screen size. What is absolutely terrible, however, is the placement of the ad in that interface. I would have much rather seen the video centered on the screen, and have the ad outside of the black box. Its very distracting to look at. Playback controls are similar, and the only thing missing seems to be the ability to skip frames and playback frames. The video interface, in general, is just okay to me.

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The Comments and Suggested Videos Section is a lot better to look at.

The redesigned Comments and Suggested Videos section is something I could get used to, on the other hand. It seems a whole lot more organized. Your suggested videos show up on large icons with a still from the video, which looks a whole lot cleaner and more sophisticated. The comments are more spaced out, giving them a neater look as well. Overall, this section of the redesign is quite welcomed.

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I think Google needs to do a little more work to perfect this. While I do like the overall look that Google is trying to go for, I really can’t stand how the video interface looks. They really should consider ditching the ads or having a banner at the top or bottom of the page. My biggest gripe is how large and out of place the advertisements look. After that, center the video on the page, and this will look so much better. But as of now, this “Cosmic Panda,” as the project is called, isn’t ready for launch.

The Social War Begins!

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A war is brewing in the social front. Google+ is starting to get the people’s attention after invites have opened up and not shut down. Facebook is unveiling new chat services aimed at keeping people on Facebook longer. Twitter is working to implement it’s own photo sharing service. LinkedIn is making it’s presence more well known. It’s definitely not quiet in the social media world, and we may be getting ready to see a massive outbreak of changes as the social empires prepare to duke it out to keep people away from the others.

As you may have seen, in the past week, Digital Lust has been extensively covering Google+, the new social experience created by the masterminds of Google. After a successful “field testing period,” the media empire began to open up invites, closing them as needed. This time around, however, the site hasn’t shut down the ability to invite your friends, and it’s been about 24 hours since it started. People are going crazy, trying to get their hands on a shiny Google+ invite (which, by the way, I’m still having a giveaway for!). It’s very reminiscent of when Google first launched Gmail back in 2004. And if Google+ even gets close to the popularity of Gmail at its launch, then the other social networks should be concerned. Very, very concerned.

Last week, Facebook announced that they were partnering with Skype to provide an all new video chatting service, directly from the browser, and only on Facebook.com. That all sounds well and good, except, Google+ got there first. Google implemented a video chatting service, Hangouts, right as Google+ started it’s launch, and it works well. Very, very well. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has signed up for a Google+ account, and has a very serious image as his profile picture. Almost as if he fears what Google is hoping to accomplish with G+. Google+ shows up very less cluttered than Facebook. Posts are better organized. You can organize your friends ij a unique way. In a sense, Google+ is everything that Facebook should improve upon.

And then there’s Twitter. 140 characters of fun every time you want to post. Your friends become your “followers,” and you follow your friends. Google+ has a similar way of “following” people…except your posts can be as long as you want. It has it’s own photo streaming service. In a sense, Google+ is everything that Twitter should improve on (is anyone catching what I’m trying to say here?).

I can’t speak much about LinkedIn, as I find it to be extremely boring. But the point being, is that Google is not just in this to be an extra social experience. It’s here to be THE social experience. If Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn don’t want to become the next Myspace, they really need to get to work to make some improvements. My prediction for the first casualty of this new war: LinkedIn, of course. It’s a service that isn’t used as widely as the others, and I feel like some of the features that G+ has implemented could steer people away. And as for Twitter…it should really get to work. It might be next to go to that great social network resting place in the sky.

Digital Lust Daily Feed: July 7, 2011

Slow news day today! No breaking news or anything like that. Heres just a couple of quick stories that we saw today:

Wii U Will Launch After April 1, 2012
Nintendo spokesman Reggie Fils-Aime said today that the Wii U will not launch any earlier than April 1, 2012. He did not specify any other details about the new console, which features new HD graphics and a touch screen controller. He did mention, however, that the console will sell alongside the DSi, the Wii, and the 3DS.

Google Docs Gets Refresh, New YouTube in Testing
Ever since the launch of Google+ last week, Google has been working to give it’s different services a new, uniform look that matches the new social network. Gmail got the refresh a few days ago, and now, Google Docs has gotten the treatment, making it easier and cleaner than ever. It’s also been reported that a new interface for YouTube is currently in testing. More details as they become available!

Google+ Giveaway Sees Biggest Day Ever!
Thank you to everyone who participated in today’s Google+ Giveaway. Anyone who posted a comment today received a shared story, which will get you an invite. The giveaway will continue tomorrow, but as I will be away from my computer all day tomorrow, I will not send those until late tomorrow night. Again, all you have to do is leave a comment on the blog(make sure that your Gmail account is in your profile before submitting!), and I will send you one!

Honestly, thats it for today. I will be taking tomorrow off for the (hopeful) launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis, maybe returning tomorrow night for a couple of quick things. Enjoy your Friday!

App Attack: Google+ (Android)

A disclaimer before beginning this edition of App Attack: As I reviewed it last week, I am currently using the HTC Evo 3D as my new phone of choice. The phone has yet to achieve a permanent root solution, and therefore, I am unable to take screenshots of the Google+ app without having some issues. As a result of this, I have pulled a couple of pictures from various different sources. My thanks go out to the following:

TechStuffs4U
AndroidShine
Pocket-Lint

And now, let’s get on with the review. As you’ve seen in my continuing coverage this week of everything Google+, this new service is poised to help redefine the social networking world by introducing a new set of features that are unlike any other. The Google+ app for Android has already been released, and, at first glance, looks a little bit like the Facebook app. There are only five buttons on the main menu, to access your Stream, your Photos, your Circles, your profile, and Huddle, the chat service offered on Google+. There is also a bar at the bottom to bring up your notifications. Everything on the main menu looks very clean, neat, and uncluttered. The icons are in that new, sophisticated Google styling that has come to life recently. In general, there is a lot less going on here than there is on the Facebook app, and I am completely okay with that. Let’s start to take a look at each of the different pages.

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The home screen on Google+ is incredibly simplistic. It’s very clean, and gets you exactly where you need to go very quickly.

Stream
Your stream is essentially the News Feed of Google+. In the main screen, you can view stories from people you have in your circles. One feature that seems to be missing here is the ability to select which circle you want to view–they all show up together. That functionality is something that they seem to be pushing on Google+, and to have that missing seems to be a little weird. Swiping to the left side of the screen reveals posts made by people that have added you, but you have not added to your circles. Swiping to the right side of the screen will show you posts from people in your immediate area, something that seems like a pretty cool addition. Even with my GPS off, I was still able to get posts based on a 10 mile radius from my house.

Posting onto your Stream is incredibly easy. Just click the pencil at the top right of the screen and you’re good to go. You can add photos or your location to a post, as well. There are also buttons at the top of the main stream page to just add a check-in or to add a photo. When posting, you do have the capability to just share with specific circles, which is definitely a nice feature.

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Your Stream. Swiping to the left side of the screen will pull up your Incoming posts, from people you have not added to your circles that have you in their circles. Swiping to the right will show posts from people in your area.

Huddle
I haven’t gotten to use Huddle for anything just yet, and I’m imagining that I probably won’t until after more people get signed in to Google+. The concept of it though is pretty simple. You can initiate a chat with any of your friends, or even entire circles. Its a really cool concept that seems very easy to use.

Photos
This is my favorite feature of the app so far. By bringing up the Photos section, you can view photos from within your circles (again, missing the option to filter based on circle). You can also view your photos, and do something called Instant Upload. I personally love this feature, as it was able to upload a picture from my phone to the service within a matter of seconds. When I tried this out, I uploaded 8 photos from a concert I recently went to into a Stream post, and they were all there within a couple of seconds. You can then view these photos on your Stream or in the photos section, under “Photos From Posts” under your albums.

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Photo viewing on Google+ is fast, simple, and clean. Just like everything else.

Profile
I won’t spend too much time talking about the profile features, as they aren’t too extremely different from Facebook. Your profile shows your posts, photos, and your About Me section. You can access the different features by the three buttons at the bottom. Posts are organized by time, and you can view who was able to see that post based on the circle they are in.

Circles
Circles are what really differentiate Google+ from other social networks. You can group people you’re connected with into different circles. You can then choose to share posts with different circles. This is especially a great feature if you’re working on a project for school or work and don’t want details getting to everyone. You can just choose to share it with whoever is within a specific circle. The one thing that I could not figure out is how to add email addresses from the app to be able to add to a circle. This is something pretty big right now as people are wanting invites (doing this from Safari on my iPad is sufficient enough, but incredibly slowwww). You can edit your circles in app, which is really nice. I want to see more functionality though when it comes to the circles in future installations of the app.

To summarize everything here, the app is not perfect yet, but, as a first version, it’s pretty damn close. The big deal with Google+ is the Circles feature, and I don’t feel like Google has completely implemented everything that they want to in regards to them. But again, as a first version of the app, it’s really, really good.

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