Fotobabble launches Talking Photo Valentine’s Day Cards

Fotobabble talking Valentine's greetings
Fotobabble talking Valentine's greetings

Fotobabble talking Valentine's greetings

Fotobabble, Berkeley, Calif., launched Talking Photo Valentine’s Day Cards via iPhone app or web greeting. The digital greetings are personalized with a photo, a voice message and a festive Valentine’s background.
“Valentine’s Day is about sharing your feelings with the people in your life,” says Kamal Shah, founder and CEO ofFotobabble. “Forget the old paper cards, and the box of chocolates. Using Fotobabble you can now send your Valentine something new, creative and fun. ”

From the Fotobabble iPhone App or the Fotobabble website, users can create and send free Talking Photo Valentines Day cards with a few clicks. They choose or take a photo, select a Valentine-themed background, record a voice message, and share it immediately via Facebook, Twitter or e-mail.

Amazon closing Texas center over sales tax dispute

The Associated Press is reporting online retailer Amazon.com would rather close an established suburban Dallas distribution center and cancel future Texas expansion plans than pay the state millions in sales taxes, an executive informed employees Thursday in an e-mail obtained by the AP.

According to the report, Dave Clark, Amazon’s vice president of operations, writes in the e-mail that the center will close April 12 due to Texas’ “unfavorable regulatory climate.” The Texas comptroller’s office last year demanded $269 million in uncollected sales taxes from Amazon, the report states, adding the company subsequently filed a lawsuit against the state, demanding it produce the audit that generated the figure. Clark said in his e-mail Amazon is also scrapping plans “to build additional facilities and expand in Texas, bringing more than 1,000 new jobs and tens of millions of investment dollars to the state.”

The state contends Amazon.com is responsible for sales taxes not collected on online sales in Texas.

“We regret losing any business in Texas, but our position hasn’t changed: If you have a presence in the state of Texas you are required to pay sales tax, just like any other business that has a presence in Texas,” says Allen Spelce, a spokesman for Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. He estimates Texas loses an estimated $600 million in Internet sales taxes every year.

Amazon has been the target of numerous lawsuits filed by states seeking sales taxes on online purchases made from within their borders, according to the AP.

Google getting into wedding planning

Google Inc., Mountain View, Calif., announced via blog post today a wedding planning site, which includes integrating printed invitations with it’s Picnik photo-editing service. The site provides wedding-specific: “templates in Google Sites, Google Docs and Picnik, and gathered tips and tricks for using these and other Google products at google.com/weddings. From wedding websites to save-the-date cards, these tools simplify wedding planning, letting you focus your time on the fun things—like tasting cakes!”

Google teamed up with wedding planner Michelle Rago to guide the designs you’ll find on this new site.


Google is including photo products in its wedding planning site

Zacuto releases Zonitor handheld kit for 15mm or 19mm rods

The new handheld kit from Zacuto

The new handheld kit from Zacuto

High-end DSLR filmmaking accessories manufacturer Zacuto USA, Chicago, Ill., introduces the Zonitor Kit for 15mm rods or 19mm rods, allowing you to easily mount a monitor onto a rail system. The Zonitor kit simplifies the art of attaching and un-attaching a monitor, or other accessories to a Zamerican articulating arm by using the Z-Release technology. The Zicromount allows you to mount anything with a 1/4 20-inch (or 3/8 16-inch with 1/4 20-inch to 3/8 16-inch adapter) thread to the Zamerican Arm. Zacuto’s 15mm Z-mount or 19mm Zandy is used to mount the Zamerican Arm with your accessory to your existing camera rig.

The Zonitor handheld Kit includes:

* Zmount II

* Zamerican V3 Large Arm

* Zicromount III

E-commerce stays strong in the New Year

MyBuys, Redwood City, Calif., released the January 2011 edition of the MyBuys E-commerce Wellness Index. The index measures the overall health of U.S. e-commerce and tracks key trends among retailers. Total revenue for U.S. e-commerce increased 8 percent versus same period last year and the very important metric of revenue from full-priced item sales was up 22 percent during the month of January. These increases drove the index up 18 percent compared to the same month one year ago. Industry health improvements are also attributed to a 15 percent decrease in the number of orders with promoted items present. The average depth of discount dropped 2.5 percent points to 26 percent.

DxO presents Optics Pro for three new cameras, 69 new camera/lens profiles

DxO Labs released DxO Optics Pro v6.5.4 for Mac and Windows, which adds RAW support for the Olympus E-PL2, Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and for the Sony Alpha DSLR-A580 in both its Standard and Elite editions. Further, 69 new DxO Optics Modules are now available to DxO Optics Pro users, covering numerous Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Panasonic, Pentax and Sony cameras.

DxO Optics Pro v6.5.4 for Windows and Mac, Standard and Elite editions are available from DxO Labs’ e-store and selected resellers at the following prices:

- DxO Optics Pro v6.5.3 Standard edition: US$169 / 149 € / £ 99

- DxO Optics Pro v6.5.3 Elite edition: US$299 / 299 € / £ 199

€ and £ prices include sales taxes and VAT.

All customers who purchased DxO Optics Pro since June 1st, 2009 are entitled to a free upgrade to version 6.5.4.

DxO Optics Pro is an automatic image enhancement software for enthusiastic amateur and professional photographers shooting in JPEG or RAW format. It offers automated optical corrections (distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberrations, lens softness) and RAW conversion, DxO Optics Pro addresses a  spectrum of image quality issues, including noise removal, exposure optimization, keystoning correction, color control and dust removal.

Redrock has Really Right Stuff clamp for HDSLR rigs

Redrock Micro microRRS adapter clamp and Really Right Stuff quick release clamp

Redrock Micro microRRS adapter clamp and Really Right Stuff quick release clamp

The microRRS clamp has been announced by Redrock Micro, Hollywood, Calif., for adapting the Really Right Stuff line of quick release clamps and plates for use with Redrock’s HDSLR camera rigs. Still photographers, says Redrock, who want to get into video have said they want to adapt and use Really Right Stuff products.

Redrock users now have a choice of camera mounts for their rigs: the Redrock DSLR baseplate or the microRRS adapter clamp with Really Right Stuff.

The key advantages of the microRRS clamp, says Redrock: quick release system for fast camera or lens repositioning; camera can be used vertically; works with virtually all Redrock rigs.

Impossible institutes battery return program

impossible recycling

Remember how SX70 Polaroid film – and the ensuing PX70 Impossible film follow-up – incorporates a battery in the pack? The folks at The Impossible Project, Vienna, Austria, after using up the last existing stock of original Polaroid batteries, introduced their own, more powerful battery version in 2010, developed and produced by HCB SuperPower. Now there’s a recycling program for the batteries.

Take apart the pack, take out the battery, and put nine other such pack batteries in the pre-paid and addressed return envelope. That’s it, says Impossible. All batteries will be collected and forwarded to the Impossible factory in Enschede, Netherlands, where they will be tested and either re-used or recycled.

Alternatively, Impossible is going to be supplying Impossible Battery collection boxes to outlets selling its film.

To add a bit of excitement, and incentive, 10 of the envelopes returned will be selected for a 100 euro ($130) gift voucher.

Nokia outlines new strategy, new leadership, operational structure

Nokia of Espoo, Finland, today outlined its new strategic direction, including changes in leadership and operational structure to accelerate the company’s speed of execution in a competitive environment. Major elements of the new strategy include plans for a broad strategic partnership with Microsoft to build a new global mobile ecosystem with Windows Phone serving as Nokia’s primary smartphone platform. A renewed approach is underway to capture volume and value growth by connecting “the next billion” to the Internet  in developing growth markets. The company also plans focused investments in next-generation disruptive technologies and has named a new leadership team and organizational structure.

“Nokia is at a critical juncture, where significant change is necessary and inevitable in our journey forward,” says Stephen Elop, president and CEO, Nokia. “Today, we are accelerating that change through a new path, aimed at regaining our smartphone leadership, reinforcing our mobile device platform and realizing our investments in the future.”
With Nokia’s planned move to Windows Phone as its primary smartphone platform, Symbian becomes a franchise platform, leveraging previous investments to harvest additional value. This strategy recognizes the opportunity to retain and transition the installed base of 200 million Symbian owners. Nokia expects to sell approximately 150 million more Symbian devices in the years to come.

Under the new strategy, MeeGo becomes an open-source, mobile operating system project. MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices, platforms and user experiences. Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year.

This new strategy is supported by significant changes in Nokia’s leadership, operational structure and approach. The Nokia Leadership Team, previously the Group Executive Board, will consist of the following members: Stephen Elop, Esko Aho, Juha Akras, Jerri DeVard, Colin Giles, Rich Green, Jo Harlow, Timo Ihamuotila, Mary McDowell, Kai Oistamo, Tero Ojanpera, Louise Pentland and Niklas Savander. Alberto Torres has stepped down from the management team.

As of April 1, Nokia will have a new company structure, which features two distinct business units: Smart Devices and Mobile Phones. Each unit will have profit-and-loss responsibility and end-to-end accountability for the full consumer experience, including product development, product management and product marketing.

Smart Devices will be responsible for building Nokia’s leadership in smartphones and will be led by Jo Harlow. The following sub-units now in Mobile Solutions will move under Smart Devices: Symbian Smartphones, MeeGo Computers and Strategic Business Operations. To support the planned new partnership with Microsoft, Smart Devices will be responsible for creating a winning Windows Phone portfolio.

The Mobile Phones unit will be led by Mary McDowell.

Markets will be responsible for selling products, executing compelling marketing and communications, creating a competitive local ecosystem, sourcing, customer care, manufacturing, IT and logistics across all Nokia products. It will be headed by Niklas Savander.

Services and Developer Experience under the leadership of Tero Ojanpera will be responsible for Nokia’s global services portfolio, developer offering, developer relations and integration of partner service offerings.

NAVTEQ, an integral part of Nokia’s location and advertising business, will be headed by Larry Kaplan, and continue as a separate reporting entity.

The CTO Office will be responsible for Nokia’s technology strategy and forward-looking technology activities, including Nokia Research Center. It will be headed by Rich Green.

Design, responsible for Nokia product and user experience design, will be led by Marko Ahtisaari.

The CFO Office, responsible for all financial activity, will be headed by Timo Ihamuotila.

Corporate Development, responsible for driving implementation of Nokia’s ecosystem strategy and strategic partnerships, will be headed by Kai Oistamo.

Corporate Relations & Responsibility, responsible for Nokia’s government and public affairs, sustainable development and social responsibility, will be led by Esko Aho. Human Resources will be led by Juha Akras. Legal and Intellectual Property will be led by Louise Pentland.

Nokia Siemens Networks continues in the Nokia Group as a separate reporting entity.