Snow, Gifts, Other Holiday Season Bits
Article by George Norman
On 23 Dec 2011
Here’s a bunch of holiday season news from around the web, news I thought you may want to know about. Before we get to the news, I would just like to say this:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!


Now here are the news. Like in the title above, let’s start with snow. Google, and now YouTube as well, have a nice snowy surprise for you. If you search for “let it snow” on Google, you will see that it starts snowing in your browser window. YouTube can make it snow as well. There’s a little snow button on some YouTube videos; click the button and it will start snowing.

That’s not the only Christmassy Easter Egg available on Google this holiday season. If you search for “Christmas”, a string of Christmas lights will be displayed. And if you search for “Hanukkah”, a string of stars will show up.

Let’s move on to gifts now, shall we? First up, you may want to know that security company Avira ran a survey and uncovered that most people want to get a tablet or a smartphone for the winter holidays. If you’re going to get someone a tablet for example, you can take advantage of some newly added functionality in Wolfram Alpha. The team behind the computational knowledge engine announced earlier this month that Wolfram Alpha displays information on more than 35,000 appliances and consumer electronics products by leveraging leveraging data from Best Buy’s public APIs.

“We’ve taken the strengths we’ve developed in math, science, and socioeconomic data and created something equally unique and useful for online shoppers. Type in the name of a product category—”dishwashers” or “tablet computers,” for example—and Wolfram|Alpha generates a comprehensive, custom analysis. What are the typical dimensions and other physical characteristics of other products in this class? How common is a given product feature? Wolfram|Alpha helps you to answer these questions,” said the Wolfram Alpha team.

Getting presents for friends and family can prove to be expensive. The good news is that in honor of the winter holidays, several software developers are offering their products for a discounted price. Here are the sales I am aware of:
  • Limited-time offer to upgrade to Winamp Pro for Android for $2.99 instead of $4.99.
  • 25% off Intego products if you purchase them from Intego’s online store. This offer expires on December 26th.
  • Select Wolfram Alpha apps are 50% off until the end of the month.
  • F-Secure Online Backup is 50% off, down to $24.99 from the regular price of $49.99. This offer expires on January 15th.
  • Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, and Angry Birds Rio for PC go on sale from December 23 to December 35. They will cost $0.99 in the Angry Birds Shop.

Let’s move on and focus on getting in touch with others this holiday season. Yahoo! announced that you can use the holiday stationery in Yahoo! Mail to infuse personality and warmth into the messages you’ll be sending out. Google announced that you could brighten someone’s day with a scribble. Gmail for the mobile and the Gmail app for iOS feature a scribble button; hit it and you will be able to draw something. You could use this new feature to send out a handmade, festive greeting, like the one below.

And speaking about brightening someone’s day, perhaps your child would like to get a phone call from Santa. Just like last year when Santa got his Google Voice number, this year you can go to the Send a Call from Santa website and set it up so that Santa will make a customized phone call to a number in the US.

Or you can set it up so that a personalized cartoon video message from Santa will be sent to anyone you know, anywhere in the world. The video below shed some light on what to expect.

Perhaps you want to contact Santa instead of having Santa contact you. The news is that you can call Santa from within Gmail. Santa’s Google Voice number is 855-34-SANTA. So call him and leave his a message.

Speaking about making calls, in 2011 you could make free domestic calls with the US and Canada with Google Voice. Google’s present is that calls will remain free in 2012 as well. “This is our way of helping you connect with friends and family across the country,” said the Gmail Team.

You’re going to call Santa and tell him what you want, but will he be able to get to your house? He sure will seeing how he’s got Siri to help him out. Check out the video below.

Let’s end this article with some songs, shall we?

Here’s Bruce Lawson singing a carol dedicated to Opera 11.60 codename Tunny.

Here’s the Angry Birds Peace Song.

And here's the Google Android team singing.

Tags: Google, YouTube, Avira, Wolfram Alpha, Winamp, Android, Intego, F-Secure, Angry Birds, Yahoo!, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Apple, App Store, Siri, Opera Software
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter

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