Redbox Now Offering $1.50 Blu-ray Rentals

Coinstar’s Redbox announced today that it is has started rolling out Blu-ray rentals. The company says titles will be available at 13,300 kiosks nationwide.

Google Earth Starts To Depict Rain, Snow
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Google Earth is meant to give its users a realistic view of the world, and the program by and large accomplishes that.  A new upgrade will make it even more accurate, though, by showing users whether or not they’d be getting wet if they were to visit certain parts of the globe.

Yes, Google Earth 5.2 is now supposed to account for both rain and snow – everything "from light drizzle and snow to hurricanes and blizzards," in fact – at least in some regions of North America and Europe. 

Google Launches New Product Search Ad Format with Product Extensions
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Google has announced a new advertising format for Google Merchant Center users. The format is based on the product extensions AdWords format that lets advertisers add specific product listings.

Report Shows Google *Is* Mobile Search Market
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To a person with poor eyesight, Yahoo, Bing, and just about every other organization trying to compete in the mobile search market might as well not exist.  New stats indicate that Google has an overwhelming lead, allowing it to dwarf competitors by comparison.

Playdom (Fresh off Disney Acquisition News) Launches World Series of Poker Facebook App

Playdom has been in the news a lot over the week as Disney announced its agreement to acquire the social gaming company. Today, Playdom announced a partnership with Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment to launch the Official World Series of Poker game on Facebook and other social networks.

NetChoice Voices Opposition To Online Retail Tax

Representative Paul Hodes (D-NH) introduced today a bipartisan resolution to protect online out-of-state sellers from having to collect taxes in states where they have no physical presence.

The resolution (H.R. 1570) "Supporting the Preservation of Internet Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses," says that Congress should not impose unfair tax collection burdens that would hurt the U.S. economy and consumers.

Google Launches New Mobile Ad Format with Location Extensions

Google has announced a new location extensions ad format with map features. Businesses can feature their locations and phone numbers on an expandable map ad that can appear on mobile sites and apps in the Google Display Network.

This format shows up as a banner text ad with a business icon that expands to show the business location on a Google map, including ad creative, a click-to-call phone number and an option to get directions.

YouTube Ups Upload Limit to 15 Minutes Per Video
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YouTube announced today that it has extended the upload limit to 15 minutes for all users. It was 10 minutes before. If you’ve tried to upload one in the past that was rejected for length, but would qualify now, you’ll have delete it from "My Videos" and do it again.

Which Sites Drive the Most Referral Traffic?
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John Pozadzides of the Web analytics company Woopra wrote a guest post for ReadWriteWeb looking at the web’s top sources of referral traffic. He breaks it down in to the following categories: social network, social bookmark, search, and media.

Buick Taps Facebook, Twitter And YouTube To Promote Regal
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GM is working on a campaign to promote its 2011 Buick Regal and has launched a website called "Moment of Truth."

GM promises its Moment of Truth site will include all reviews and consumer opinions no matter if they are negative or positive.

"We are inviting consumers to find out on their own that Regal is a true performance sedan and worthy of their consideration," said Craig Bierley, Buick advertising director. 


Groupon Personalized Deals Will Be Huge for Customers, Businesses

Groupon, the service that provides daily deals that save customers money, is getting a lot of attention these days. Now, they’ll be getting much more. Late yesterday, the company announced a big feature in Personalized Deals. Today, they have released an FAQ for those.

Microsoft Names Impressive New Cloud Customers

Microsoft’s cloud computing division has scored a significant victory.  Three of them, even, as this morning, the company was able to announce that Dow Chemical, Hyatt Hotels, and the University of Georgia will use Microsoft cloud computing solutions.

Motorola Announces Second Quarter Sales of $5.4 Billion

Motorola announced its Q2 financial results today. These include sales of $5.4 billion. The company shipped 2.7 million smartphones during the quarter, but mobile device sales were down 6% from the previous year.

Other highlights include:

Wallpaper App Causes Android Security Scare

Android device owners can perhaps stop frantically deleting apps from their phones.  An app that appeared to represent a serious security risk – supposedly transmitting users’ passwords, browsing histories, and text messages to someone in China – has been found to mine much less data than early reports indicated.

Gamerang Launches New Game Rental Site with Social and API Features

Gamerang is launching a new site (currently in beta) with "the ever-important social media aspect of games" . If you’re unfamiliar with Gamerang, it’s been renting video games since 2003, with four distribution centers across the United States. Gamerang boasts over 9,000 titles for every major platform. It works essentially like a Netflix for video games, or a Gamefly if you will.

House Panel Approves Bill To Legalize Online Gambling
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A House committee yesterday voted on legislation that would legalize and regulate online gambling in the United States.

Another Reason for Murdoch Not to Like Google
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News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch has had a lot of issues with search engines – most notably, Google. He has repeatedly threatened to block News Corp. content from search engines, but content from the Wall Street Journal, for example, still populates a significant amount of Google search results to this day.

Opera Mini Serves a Billion Page Views in a Day
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Opera has announced that its Opera Mini users viewed over a billion pages on July 25. On that day, every second, Opera Mini servers compressed over 11,500 pages before sending that content to phones around the world.

"Opera Mini has experienced tremendous page view growth in recent years," the company says. "In June 2008, Opera Mini servers processed 100 million page views per day for the first time. In June 2010, Opera Mini users viewed more than 910 million pages on average every day, an increase of more than 161% since June 2009."

Facebook Questions Debuts In Beta
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Inquisitive people, rejoice.  Facebook, with its enormous user base and familiar layout, entered the question and answer space this afternoon by launching Facebook Questions.  The product’s still in beta right now, meaning not everyone can use it, but it’s already looking well-integrated and rather interesting.

Google Adds Page Load Time Metrics to Chrome
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As you probably know by now, Google considers page speed as one of its many signals for search engine rankings. With that in mind, you may also be interested in knowing that in Chrome 6, developers can access web timing metrics for measuring web page load time across browsers.

Netflix Adds Search to the Playstation 3 Version

Netflix announced today that it has added search capabilities to its service on the Sony Playstation 3. This is part of a software upgrade from the company.

The Social Network Movie Trailer

The Social Network is an upcoming 2010 drama film directed by David Fincher about the founding of Facebook, I saw the trailer for it yesterday at the Cinemas and it reminded me a little of The Pirates of Silicon Valley Movie (1999), a film about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

Anyhow The Social Network film features an ensemble cast which consists of Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Brenda Song, Rashida Jones, Max Minghella, Rooney Mara, Malese Jow, and Joseph Mazzello.

Amazon Embraces Facebook Recommendation Feature

Personal Facebook Info Reportedly Leaked, Gawker Invades Zuckerberg’s Privacy

ThinQ.co.uk reports that a directory containing personal details of over 100 million Facebook users has surfaced on a file-sharing site. That’s about a fifth of Facebook’s total user base.