Freebase makes their data available as free CC-licensed data dumps. You can import this into any database you want. There's no requirement for Metaweb's technology to use the data. It's just a very convenient way to do so!
Early on, we knew we'd have to make a UI so that users could have as close to a free-text experience as possible while still contributing structured data. Freebase lets you create a topic that is generic, and then co-type it with multiple specific types later. It allows ontology geeks to do their thing, and regular users to just work where they are comfortable. It's a tough balance to strike, but Metaweb's Freebase was populated by a small team of data wranglers using a mix of automated methods and coordinated manual cleanup and entry, along with power users who were especially interested in particular data domains.
At one point I was really interested in submarines. I created a type describing the key characterists of subs and then spent a few days finding all the generic topics in Freebase on subs (many from Wikipedia) and filling them in. Others, either at Metaweb or outside, have done similar efforts on other domains.
Few contributors ever say or even have to consider ontologies. If they want to dig in, it's there, but almost never presented in a way that requires a PhD and a pipe.
This is a good point. I don't know if this was a factor in Google's acquisition, but Powerset (acquired by Microsoft and now part of Bing) uses Metaweb's Freebase.
I was on the founding team at Metaweb when we spun out of Applied Minds. I can answer some questions here, but first I wanted to congratulate the team that brought this company all the way to acquisition.
So, from the beginning we knew that semantic this and ontology that would be a non-starter for most contributors from Planet Earth. While Freebase is a complex system under the hood, the user interface makes contributing data to an existing type (schema) pretty easy. You can add content from a browser window and never know that all of your entries are typed by the system. You can upload a spreadsheet of data and not have to do anything more than say which column is linked to what field in Freebase.
My startup, 24 Hr. Diner, uses Freebase to demo our artist to artist recommendation engine, Jukebox. We have recommendations for 100k artists, and for each of them, we can look up their genre info and photo on Freebase without having to maintain all of that data ourselves.
And if anyone on Slashdot is working for a co. that could use an excellent recommendation engine that handles music, videos, and general web content, ping me!
I have an 18 Megapixel Canon 7D DSLR that shoots gorgeous 1920x1080x30p hi-def video. While I don't expect that in a consumer webcam, their recently released T2i uses the same chip and sells for $800. And heck, point-n-shoots are a couple of hundred bucks and now many cell phones have cameras built in, so there's plenty of low power speedy CPU's in small packages these days to handle the signal processing.
So why hasn't someone taken a sensor with good image quality sensor, downsized to around 1024x768, and put it in a PTZ webcam package with 802.11n wireless for around $500?
I am a quality assurance engineer at a software development company. In my day job, I have to use an application to track every task that I do throughout every day. The application requires time, project, application, case numbers, place, and a whole array of dropdown menus, radio buttons, and checkboxes to mark each time I change tasks. Needless to say, doing this is annoying and can take anywhere from an hour to two hours out of my day. This is time I could spend making a better product for our clients.
After some research, it looks like this application was created for the QA department because of Internal Revenue Code 41 aka the Research & Experimentation Tax Credit. IANACPA, but for receiving the credit for software tester's wages, it appears that testers only need to track the time they spend testing new projects, not tracking every employee's every move. (Bug fixes do not quality for the tax credit.)
How do you track new projects for this tax credit? Is time estimated by a manager, do you have a simple time tracking application, or do you have a "big brother" tracker too?