Question by HIM N: Incometaxes are an automatic stabilizer because when income rises, ceteris paribus, tax receipts:?
A)Fall since automatic stabilizers work against the cyclical movements of the GDP.
B) Fall as taxpayers experience bracket creep.
C) Fall since income taxes are regressive.
D) Rise since taxes are computed on the basis of income.
Devices like Amazon’s Kindle have kickstarted mainstream demand for ebooks, but if Kindle is the ‘iTunes of electronic books’, where’s the Spotify equivalent? 24symbols is a new service which opens to all from today after a period in closed beta, offering on-demand access to a library of popular titles in a similar way to how streaming music services work.
Launching with a modest library of 1000 titles, 24signals features a range of classic books along with commercial releases from a number of small and medium-sized publishers. The idea is simple enough – you log in, look for a book you want to read and then… read it! Like Spotify, there a re no restrictions – you can simply hop around between titles as much as you like. Facebook integration adds a social element, letting you get recommendations from your friends.
The product of a Spanish team, the Web-based service is working to a freemium model, offering a free, ad-supported version along with an ad-free option in return for a monthly payment prices at either €9.99 per month, €19.99 per quarter or #59.99 per year. The startup pays publishers based on how many pages users read from their books as a proportion of the overall number of pages read across all titles.
At present 24symbols is entirely browser-based, and reading books on a computer monitor isn’t exactly an ideal situation. Luckily, an iPad app is due to be available in a few days’ time, potentially making this a really enjoyable way to enjoy and discover books. iPhone and Android app are also on the way.
The library’s current small size means that 24symbols can presently be largely viewed as a demonstration of its future potential. Co-founder Justo Hidalgo says that the company is currently finalising deals to bring more publishers on board.
However, it’s worth considering that in order to guarantee a decent level of revenue, 24symbols may have to work on the balance between the free and premium options. At present, the ads in the free version are simply too unobtrusive to encourage anyone to pay up, and subscriptions will definitely be more lucrative for 24symbols than ads. If 24symbols can get top-flight publishers on board, it would probably find itself having to lock the most desirable books behind the premium account paywall.
These are concerns for the future though, for now, 24symbols is a great first draft of what it could grow to become. You can sign up to try it right away here.
WordPress 3.1.4 is available now and is a maintenance and security update for all previous versions.
Thisrelease fixes an issue that could allow a malicious Editor-level user to gain further access to the site. Thanks K. Gudinavicius of SEC Consult for bringing this to our attention. Version 3.1.4 also incorporates several other security fixes and hardening measures thanks to the work of WordPress developers Alexander Concha and Jon Cave of our security team. Consult the change log for more details.
Among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others. With a smile, a laugh, a whisper or a cheer, we connect with others every single day.
Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools.
In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.
We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project:
+Circles: share what matters, with the people who matter most
Not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss. The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers:
It’s sloppy. We only want to connect with certain people at certain times, but online we hear from everyone all the time.
It’s scary. Every online conversation (with over 100 “friends”) is a public performance, so we often share less because of stage fright.
It’s insensitive. We all define “friend” and “family” differently—in our own way, on our own terms—but we lose this nuance online.
In light of these shortcomings we asked ourselves, “What do people actually do?” And we didn’t have to search far for the answer. People in fact share selectively all the time—with their circles.
From close family to foodies, we found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks. So we did the only thing that made sense: we brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what’s new—just like any other day:
+Sparks: strike up a conversation, about pretty much anything
Healthy obsessions inspire sharing, and we’ve all got one (or two, or three…). Maybe it’s muscle cars, or comic books, or fashion, but the attraction is always the same: it comes up in conversation, we immediately jump in, and we share back and forth with other fans. Often for hours. The trick is getting things started, and getting over that initial hump. Fortunately, the web is the ultimate icebreaker.
The web, of course, is filled with great content—from timely articles to vibrant photos to funny videos. And great content can lead to great conversations. We noticed, however, that it’s still too hard to find and share the things we care about—not without lots of work, and lots of noise. So, we built an online sharing engine called Sparks.
Thanks to Google’s web expertise, Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet. On any topic you want, in over 40 languages. Simply add your interests, and you’ll always have something to watch, read and share—with just the right circle of friends:
+Hangouts: stop by and say hello, face-to-face-to-face
Whether it’s inside a pub or on a front porch, human beings have always enjoyed hanging out. And why not? It’s how we unwind, recharge, and spend unscheduled time with old and new friends alike. Hanging out is deceptively simple though, and the nuance gets lost online.
Just think: when you walk into the pub or step onto your front porch, you’re in fact signaling to everyone around, “Hey, I’ve got some time, so feel free to stop by.” Further, it’s this unspoken understanding that puts people at ease, and encourages conversation. But today’s online communication tools (like instant messaging and video-calling) don’t understand this subtlety:
They’re annoying, for starters. You can ping everyone that’s “available,” but you’re bound to interrupt someone’s plans.
They’re also really awkward. When someone doesn’t respond, you don’t know if they’re just not there, or just not interested.
With Google+ we wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so we created Hangouts. By combining the casual meetup with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you’re free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face:
+Mobile: share what’s around, right now, without any hassle
These days a phone is the perfect sharing accessory: it’s always with you, it’s always online, and it’s how we stay close with our closest friends. We didn’t want “just” a mobile experience, however, so with Google+ we focused on things (like GPS, cameras, and messaging) to make your pocket computer even more personal.
+Location, location, location
In life, the places we visit shape conversations in lots of meaningful ways. If we call John from the airport, he’ll likely ask about our trip. Or if Jane texts from a nearby restaurant, we might join her for dessert. With Google+ you can add your location to every post. (Or not. It’s always up to you.)
Getting photos off your phone is a huge pain, so most of us don’t even bother. Of course pictures are meant to be shared, not stranded, so we created Instant Upload to help you never leave a photo behind. While you’re snapping pictures, and with your permission, Google+ adds your photos to a private album in the cloud. This way they’re always available across your devices—ready to share as you see fit.
Coordinating with friends and family in real-time is really hard in real life. After all, everyone’s on different schedules, in different places, and plans can change at any moment. Phone calls and text messages can work in a pinch, but they’re not quite right for getting the gang together. So Google+ includes Huddle, a group messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what’s going on, right this second.
Starting today Google+ is available on Android Market and the mobile web, and it’s coming soon to the App Store.
+You: putting you first, all across Google
That’s the Google+ project so far: Circles, Sparks, Hangouts and mobile. We’re beginning in Field Trial, so you may find some rough edges, and the project is by invitation only. But online sharing needs a serious re-think, so it’s time we got started. There’s just one more thing—really the only thing: You.
You and over a billion others trust Google, and we don’t take this lightly. In fact we’ve focused on the user for over a decade: liberating data, working for an open Internet, and respecting people’s freedom to be who they want to be. We realize, however, that Google+ is a different kind of project, requiring a different kind of focus—on you. That’s why we’re giving you more ways to stay private or go public; more meaningful choices around your friends and your data; and more ways to let us know how we’re doing. All across Google.
When your invite arrives we hope you’ll join the project. But it’s entirely up to +You.
Posted by Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President, Engineering
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The great thing about an online service going mainstream is how many great third party apps are built around it, to enhance the experience – and Dropbox is certainly no exception to that rule.
SideCLOUDload is the latest of many free services that make Dropbox all the more useful, allowing you to savefiles directly from your browser into your Dropbox account, all from the convenience of one web page.
To use the service, no sign up is necessary. Simply plug in your Dropbox details, paste the link to the file you want to save and you can even choose, or create, a folder to save it in.
In addition to saving files to your Dropbox directly from your browser, SideCLOUDload also gives you the capability to send files directly from their site. The catch for both is, of course, that you have to have the direct link to the file, although with most online files that shouldn’t be an issue.
SideCLOUDload also provides a handy bookmarklet if you want a quick and easy way to save files to Dropbox while you’re browsing, without having to leave your browser.
SideCLOUDload comes in really handy if you’re using a public computer, and is also pretty handy for iPhone and iPad users. While the Android version of Dropbox allows you to upload any kind of file to your account, sadly if you’re on an iOS device, you’re limited to uploading images only. This great little service gives you the ideal work around to save files from the ‘net straight to your Dropbox account.
Starting today, you might begin noticing that things look a little different across Google products. We’re working on a project to bring you a new and improved Googleexperience, and over the next few months, you’ll continue to see more updates to our look and feel. Even our classic homepage is getting a bit of a makeover:
New Google homepage with a smaller logo and links moved to the top and bottom edges of the browser for a cleaner look
The way people use and experience the web is evolving, and our goal is to give you a more seamless and consistent online experience—one that works no matter which Google product you’re using or what device you’re using it on. The new Google experience that we’ve begun working toward is founded on three key design principles: focus, elasticity and effortlessness.
Focus: Whether you’re searching, emailing or looking for a map, the only thing you should be concerned about is getting what you want. Our job is to provide the tools and features that will get you there quickly and easily. With the design changes in the coming weeks and months, we’re bringing forward the stuff that matters to you and getting all the other clutter out of your way. Even simple changes, like using bolder colors for actionable buttons or hiding navigation buttons until they’re actually needed, can help you better focus on only what you need at the moment.
Elasticity: In the early days, there was pretty much just one way to use Google: on a desktop computer with an average-sized monitor. Over a decade later, all it takes is a look around one’s home or office at the various mobile devices, tablets, high-resolution monitors and TVs to see a plethora of ways to access the web. The new design will soon allow you to seamlessly transition from one device to another and have a consistent visual experience. We aim to bring you this flexibility without sacrificing style or usefulness.
Effortlessness: Our design philosophy is to combine power with simplicity. We want to keep our look simple and clean, but behind the seemingly simple design, use new technologies like HTML5, WebGL and the latest, fastest browsers to make sure you have all the power of the web behind you.
Constant revision and improvement is part of our overarching philosophy. For example, last year we introduced an updated look and feel to our search results, and if you compare the original Google homepage to today’s version, you’ll see that a makeover every so often can certainly be refreshing:
Original Google homepage in 1997
Starting today and over the course of the next few months, look for a series of design improvements across all our products, including Google Search, Google Maps and Gmail.
Posted by Chris Wiggins, Creative Director, Digital
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Over the years, WordPress has introduced more and more features, which, although make the software a more robust blogging platform, have made the writing UI more cluttered.
Nevertheless, I have gotten so accustomed to it, so much so that I have found myself preferring it over many other writing tools and applications simply because it works, autosaves and I need nothing else.
There came a time however when I realized that I was becoming more focused on formatting than the actual content and to be quite frank, the standard WordPress editor isn’t exactly the most user-friendly interface, and it’s not particularly eye-catching either.
Artsy Editor, developed by Stephen Ou, is a premium WordPress plugin that strips away the unnecessary stuff in the editor, giving you a focused writing interface not unlike desktop apps like iA Writer, Byword and Ommwriter. It’s an ultra-minimalist overhaul of the WordPress editor UI, a classic example of “less is more” while at the same time giving quick access to the most commonly used features in an aesthetic manner.
More Than What You See
When I loaded Artsy Editor for the first time, it took a while before I realized that the editor had already loaded. It’s almost blank with the exception of the four visible buttons – a publish/preview button on the top right, a close button in the top left, a settings button in the bottom left, and an upload button in the bottom right. Before you go bonkers thinking that this editor is a joke, wait, there’s much more to it than meets the eye.
First things first; customize the UI according to your needs.
Artsy Editor is intentionally minimalist but also come provides a few choice settings for those who want them. With background color options, font selection, font size and also the ability to open directly into Artsy’s Editor rather than WordPress’ default editor, you should be able to find the interface that works for you.
The way Artsy Editor’s formatting works is that whenever you select a portion of the text you want to format, a neat little pop-over editor appears with all the basic text formatting options. Clicking elsewhere hides the editor so you’re able to continue focusing on your writing. Of course you still have access to all the standard keyboard shortcuts as well.
Photo Uploading Made Ridiculously Easy
Perhaps the feature I love about it the most is the photo uploader, which takes away the unnecessarily tedious process for photo uploading when using the standard WordPress feature. In contrast, Artsy Editor makes it ridiculously simple to upload photos – simply drag a file from your computer and it automatically gets inserted into the post.
Moving or resizing is just as easy and can all be done within the post. Just like in text selection, there are also options that appear whenever you highlight an image.
The thing about Artsy Editor is that whenever you can’t find a WordPress feature that you need, you can simply shift back to the standard editor by clicking on the close button or simply hitting escape. You’re probably going to need to do so too if you’re using other WordPress plugins that allow for customization within the editor, or when embedding links to songs and videos.
Not For Everyone
Artsy Editor is a premium WordPress plugin with a price tag of $ 19. The price is reasonable considering the unique features and drastic overhaul of the WordPress interface but many will consider it expensive simply because they won’t be accustomed to paying for WordPress plugins.
It’s also important to note WordPress 3.2 is to introduce distraction free writing. Whether it will be quite as feature rich as Arsty Editor is questionable but it is definitely something to consider.
Also if you’re a formatting or HTML-intensive blogger, it might not be the best tool but if you’re the type who writes lengthy stories with minimal HTML requirements, this plugin will definitely be something worth getting your hands on that should radically transport your WordPress writing experience into something both simple and enjoyable.
TNW readers interested in trying out the app can earn a 20% discount using the code TNW20 that you can enter at checkout. If you’re still unsure whether Arsty Editor is for you however, there’s a fully featured demo of the tool available here. Written with Artsy Editor
SEO is such a new field – it’s growing right along with the industry of blogging! Many website owners – several I know, at least – haven’t a clue what SEO stands for, much less what it means to their business. There have been many SEO plugins in the past, but one recently crossed our desk … Continue Reading Best WordPress Plugins