At the Activate conference in New York, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark talked about his work with non-profits and his views on the importance of a free press, and Electronic Frontier Foundation co-founder Lawrence Lessig talked about his efforts to fight corruption with a project called Rootstrikers.
Craig Newmark: Media Is The Immune ...
Amazon Web Services released its official statement and apology regarding the four-day outage that began on April 21, vowing, as expected, to improve the design of its Elastic Block Storage service and generally improve availability across the AWS platform.
AWS On Outage: Network Overhaul And...
As with most collaboration apps, Central Desktop is general-purpose tool, trying to pack in all the features that every organization needs. But what if it could be focused on a specific industry? SocialBridge is, essentially, Central Desktop built only for use by creative agencies.
SocialBridge: A Collaboration App B...
Something I've believed since I began work for ReadWriteWeb is that nothing we write about here exists in a vacuum. No matter how obscure or specific or rarefied, every story we tell is about someone somewhere doing something. War, the economy, revolution, social movements - everyone everywhere is affected by everything. So when I saw what my best friend, Kelvin Holland, had done, I saw, among other things, a story about us.
Love & Tech Give A Jazzman An Etern...
Amazon promised a detailed postmortem of its massive Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) crash from last week, and it certainly delivered today with a nearly 6,000 word breakdown of the fiasco by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team. But despite being more open about the problem, it still took the company around 5,700 words before it finally apologized to its customers, which included major sites and services like Foursquare, Reddit, and Quora. Amazon will be offering affected users 10 days of credit, but that certainly won’t make up for the business lost from sites that depend on it. The post is incredibly dense and technical, but there are a few compelling points to note: Amazon says that the crash event was caused by a network configuration changed, and it will make sure that similar changes in the future go smoothly. The company also says that its experience with this crash will inform how they protect its cloud service in the future. “The issues affecting EC2 customers last week primarily involved a subset of the Amazon Elastic Block Store (“EBS”) volumes in a single Availability Zone within the US East Region that became unable to service read and write operations,” Amazon wrote. The company refers to those troublesome volumes as “stuck.” The event has also led Amazon to reassess the structure of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which currently consists of “Regions” (isolated sections of EC2) and “Availability Zones” (located within Regions). “Our EBS control plane is designed to allow users to access resources in multiple Availability Zones while still being tolerant to failures in individual zones. This event has taught us that we must make further investments to realize this design goal,” Amazon wrote. The company says it will make it easier for customers to create fault tolerant services by more easily taking advantage of multiple Availability Zones. It will also host a series of webinars, free starting May 2, on how companies can better build their services for the cloud. Additionally, Amazon says that it will “invest in increasing our visibility, control, and automation to recover volumes in an EBS cluster.” Amazon also responded to complaints about its lack of communication during the event. The AWS group says that it felt that focusing its energy on fixing the problem at hand was initially more important than communication, though it recognizes now that it will need to step up with keeping customers in the loop. The company began to make more frequent updates towards the end of the cloud crash, and it will staff up its developer support team in the future to update customers. It’s also working on tools that will let you see if your Amazon service is being disrupted. Tags: cloud computing, EC2 Companies: Amazon, Amazon Web Services
Amazon Takes 5,700 Words Before It ...
Another day, another Apple “scandal” — at least, according to tech world. Apparently a 0.2 millimeter difference in thickness between the black iPhone 4 and its new white sibling is enough to spawn tremendous interest across the web. But while the difference is almost negligible, it is having an impact on some new customers that switched from the black iPhone 4 to its newest white counterpart. Rigid cases designed for the black iPhone 4 are not fitting the white iPhone 4 snugly because of the slight difference in thickness. That means any transition customers with rigid cases will have to pick up new cases — though Apple’s flexible “bumper” cases will still work for the white iPhone 4. Rigid case designers and manufacturers will also have to release separate cases for the white iPhone. That could also pose a few concerns for the stability of the glass on the white iPhone 4 — especially for users that will try to use rigid cases designed for the black iPhone 4. Rigid cases that aren’t designed by Apple run the risk of scratching and fracturing the glass on the back on the iPhone 4. That’s because particulates can get stuck between the case and the black iPhone 4. I personally use a rigid case because I drop my black iPhone 4 on a regular basis. Thankfully those cases are structurally sound and protect the phone. Without that kind of structural security — because the cases won’t fit snugly with the new phone — they are practically useless and might even do more harm than good. So why is the white iPhone 4 thicker than its predecessor? Here are a few crackpot theories both the Internet — and VentureBeat — have come up with to find out why the white iPhone is that much fatter than its earlier counterpart. 1. Apple has introduced a fix for the iPhone 4’s antennae woes. The iPhone 4 has a hardware flaw that causes the phone to lose reception when held a certain way. At face value, it doesn’t look like the phone carries any kind of design differences. 2. The white paint for the new iPhone 4 required a different game plan. The white iPhone’s case did not insulate the its camera’s flash and leaked light when taking photos, according to reports. White iPhone 4 parts also caused some issues with the phone’s proximity sensor, which disables the screen when talking on the phone so owners don’t accidentally hang up, according to Apple’s Steve Wozniak. 3. The white iPhone needed additional protection from external light sources. Any light leaking into the phone could disrupt the iPhone 4’s screen and make the image less clear, which would be a sore point for Apple because it touts its “retina display” as one of the best smartphone displays in the business. 4. Apple is just trolling tech geeks everywhere to try to generate some additional publicity for the white iPhone 4 — because even a 0.2 millimeter difference is enough to generate news buzz when it comes to an Apple product. Tags: antennagate, Glassgate, iPhone 4, white iPhone 4 Companies: Apple
Why Is The White IPhone 4 Chunkier ...
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek today refuted the rumors (reported by TechCrunch and others) that the Swedish streaming music service had negotiated a number of deals with major movie studios to stream their content. On his Twitter stream Ek said “Soon I’ll be reading that Spotify is launching a space rocket.” Spotify offers a number of subscriptions. Spotify Free comes with ads. The Unlimited subscription is ad-free and costs €4.99 ($7.22) a month. Premium, which allows Spotify to be accessed on mobile and other non-PC devices, is priced a €9.99 ($14.46) a month. Possibly in anticipation of the long-awaited U.S. launch, Spotify recently announced changes to the service which reduce the number of listening hours available per month to free users and the number of times that tracks can be played. On a side note, I recently asked fellow Swedish music startup founder Alexander Ljung of Soundcloud why so many music startups come out of the country. “There’s been a lot of quite successful music artists from Sweden. That comes partly from the fact that there’s a lot of music education in school. It’s free to learn instruments. Almost everybody I knew was learning at least one instrument. And then it’s dark 6 months of the year.” Ljung told me. Spotify is based in Sweden and has 10 million users around the world (1 million of which are paying subscribers), mainly in Europe. The company has received funding of $120 million and is valued at around $1 billion. Tags: movies, music, streaming Companies: spotify People: daniel ek
Spotify CEO Laughs Off Movie Rumors
Group-buying powerhouse Groupon wants to be clear: It isn’t endorsing Donald Trump. Specifically, the company just published a blog post clarifying the presence of its advertising on the web page of Trump’s TV show The Apprentice. Apparently, someone believing that Groupon was an Apprentice sponsor started a petition calling for a boycott after Trump used his show as a platform for a possible presidential campaign and to dredge up the tired old rumors that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. However, Groupon says it has “never been a sponsor of The Apprentice on TV or on the web.” Instead, it placed ads on NBC.com knowing that they would appear on an NBC site but “not specifically which page.” Moving forward, Groupon says that it will make sure it doesn’t advertise on The Apprentice again: It’s the same reason we don’t run deals on guns or abortion…this isn’t a political statement, it’s avoiding intentionally upsetting a segment of our customers. Groupon is probably still smarting from the controversy over its Super Bowl ads in January, which were heavily criticized for trivializing the troubles in Tibet. The company is in a challenging position now, since it’s fending off existing competitors like LivingSocial while big tech players like Facebook and Google enter the field. The deals industry isn’t really tech-driven, so it’s harder to differentiate. One of Groupon’s assets is its edgy sense of humor, but it has to be funny and compelling without crossing the line and driving a large segment of users away. Tags: group buying Companies: Groupon People: Donald Trump
Groupon Tries To Defuse Controversy...
The success of downloadable smartphone apps will continue at least through the next five years. A new study from ABI Research estimates that app industry will achieve 44 billion cumulative downloads by 2016. If the forecast is correct, it means that native apps will still rule over HTML5 and other new web programming technologies for websites in the browser. At least in the near future. The latest figures from vendors suggest that the cumulative download number is now around 15-16 billion. Not surprisingly, the two biggest sources for downloadable apps are Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. Apple announced on January that its App Store has now crossed 10 billion downloads of both free and paid apps. Android Market estimates that users have downloaded 4.2 billion apps so far. http://www.androlib.com/appstats.aspx. The numbers are quite impressive –- Apple’s App Store and the Android Market have been around less than three years. The App Store opened on June 10, 2008 and Android Market on October 22, 2008. Right now there are around 350,000 apps in Apple’s App Store and 330,000 apps in Android Market. Nokia’s Ovi Store has 54,000 apps, RIM’s App World 16,000 applications and Windows Marketplace 15,000 downloadable applications. Apple will face increasing competition from Android and Windows Phone 7. According to ABI Research, the competitors are steadily catching up with Apple as adoption picks up pace and expansion of their mobile OS installed bases continues to grow. The mobile app ecosystem and market model is also expected to evolve with the increasing pool of smartphone and tablet users. Tags: Android Market, App Store, HTML5, native apps
App Downloads Will Hit 44 Billion I...
The second generation Google Nexus phone has arrived in India and is called the Nexus S. This time around its Samsung that is offering the phone and promises a ‘Pure Google’ experience. The phone is available with Google’s official gingerbread … Read More »
Review: Samsung Nexus S
A few years back, startups would simply say ‘We have shutdown our product and moving on to something new’. But these days, the buzzword is ‘Yay! We have pivoted!’ That is, ‘We have shut down the product and moving on … Read More »
Is Pivoting Your Latest Excuse To N...
If you work with Hadoop, or want to, check out Antonio Piccolboni's overview of eight MapReduce languages. Piccolboni explores each language in search of a language that provides both concise syntax and the power to run both the "'inside' of map reduce, that is the code for the mapper and the reducer, as well as the 'outside', the logic that decides which map reduce jobs to run." He also looked to whether he could write MapReduce programs that require multiple MapReduce jobs " including the case of a data dependent number and type of jobs."
He decided Rhipe, which integrates R with Hadoop, was the closest to what he was looking for. However, one notable absence from his overview is Wukong, which brings Ruby to Hadoop. (Though I'm not sure whether this would meet his requirements).
Which language do you prefer for creating MapReduce jobs, and why?
What Is Your Favorite MapReduce Language for Hadoop?online surveys
Hacker Poll: What Is Your Favorite ...
Google and Facebook are now some of Intel's biggest customers for server technology, which is significant in a few ways.
It shows the fast adoption of Web-based technologies that have bloomed in the past several years and the rise of mobile in the marketplace that in turn fuels the demand for Intel processors that are used in the data center.
It also marks the rise of the "micro server," designed for Internet services that have a deeper need for a scaled out architecture to quickly serve up streaming video, pictures and billions of updates. Micro servers are an emerging type of shared infrastructure designed for data center workloads where many low-power dense servers may be more efficient than fewer, more robust ones.
Stacy Smith, chief financial officer at Intel said in an interview with Bloomberg that Google and Facebook each buy Intel chips which they use to fashion their own servers. I find that interesting. It is exactly what we heard from Facebook when it announced OpenCompute. Google, though, is quite secretive about its server technology. This news shines a bit more light on Google, though hardly not surprising considering the sophistication of its architecture for serving data.
The large purchases by Facebook also reflects on its micro server approach, which it developed with Intel. Facebook has decided not to use virtualization for its data centers. It finds that it is far less disruptive to the social network if one server goes down. Virtualization would put an elevated level of importance on the server that is not needed with the kind of tasks that Facebook requires its servers to perform.
Microservers are an emerging category for Intel. Logically, they are most popular with Internet services. From an Intel fact sheet:
Since late 2009, early adoption in the micro server category has been and continues to be in large Internet datacenters and service providers where compute density and electricity savings are critical for such applications as low-end hosting, lightweight Web servers and simple content delivery servers.
Intel sees the micro server category, in aggregate, making up less than 10 percent of the overall server market for the next 4-5 years. By offering server-optimized processors for this emerging category, Intel helps its customers deliver new levels of power efficiency and density while allowing them to also benefit from common software compatibility across Intel-based micro servers and traditional servers.
So what does that mean for virtualization? Virtualization has more relevant uses in enterprise settings. In that environment, companies do not need a scaled out node-based environment that leverages the microserver technology.
Intel is a ReadWriteWeb sponsor.
Google And Facebook Are Some Of Int...
Android phone owners will soon be able to video chat with each other using Google Talk over WiFi, 3G or 4G networks, Google announced in a blog post this afternoon. The feature will roll out first to Nexus S phone owners over the coming weeks and to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and newer devices "in the future." It's a start!
The offering, when it ships, sounds like it will be more compelling than Apple's Facetime but less useful than independent mobile video chat apps like Tango that offer iPhone to Android video chat. A number of mobile video chat apps have been launched in just the past few weeks from Skype, Qik, Fring (now with group video calling on iPhone!) and others. But how long will we have to wait until Android users can video call iPhone owners without any more thought than voice calls require today?
Why all this video chat going live now? Tech blog VentureBeat ran a guest post earlier this month from Rebtel CEO Andreas Bernstrom about why now is the time for mobile video chat to take off. Bernstrom argues it's because of four factors: social networking, improved call quality, increasingly common cross-device compatibility thanks to software and the network effect of exploding sales of mobile devices with front-facing cameras.
From dreams of remote medicine to already deployed high-end hotel concierge consultations, video chat has a lot of potential in a lot of different circumstances.
That potential, though, is hobbled by the contemporary equivalent of an inability for customers of two different telephone companies to call each other by voice or different trains to make it across the whole country over different rail line company tracks.
Where's the Open Technology Standard?
When Apple launched Facetime a year ago June, Steve Jobs said it was going to become an open, universal technical standard. We haven't seen that happen though, or at least we haven't seen much development on top of it. Might Google try to accomplish that big picture goal to go post-silo in mobile video chat?
Will the Google Talk implementation be as well executed as Apple's is? Will it be available anytime soon for iPhone and thus be at least that close to cross-platform? Will we someday be able to video chat from one phone to another regardless of its maker or OS, as easily as we can do voice calls today? Presuming that's something people really want beyond the initial wow factor (and to be honest, I'm not sure it is) then those will be big questions to watch for answers to.
Android Joins The Mobile Video Chat...
In the still nascent tablet market, research is ongoing about how consumers interact with this new computing medium. Whether it is how users interact with tablet magazines or how much time they spend using various apps, there is still a lot to learn.
Advertising network Chitika released a study today showing that when perusing Google search results, users are more likely to scroll past the first couple of results than they are from a PC. The study showed that 20% of iPad users click the top search result in Google, a decline from the 34% who do so from a personal computer.
The study was done using data from the Chitika ad network that serves three billion monthly ad impressions on the Web across 100,000 sites. The company compared it against a similar study they did last year for Google position results from desktop computers.
"It appears from the data that iPad users are more willing to scroll to find the answers to their queries, and even go to multiple pages," Chitika wrote in the study. "Perhaps this can be attributed to the touchscreen interface, or the fact that search behavior isn't yet ingrained in tablet users like it is in desktop and laptop users."
Chitika said that it is not certain if this is true across all tablet or touch screen devices or whether it is just an "iPad phenomenon" and has promised to study mobile gadgets
Chitika is active in studying analytics of web trends. In August, 2010 it was one of the first to report that Bing had overtaken Yahoo in search market share and did a study shortly after the first iPad was released on where the early adopters call home. The company spends a lot of time studying on search trends, which would make sense for an ad network that wants to know where the eyeballs are going to be.
IPad Users Scroll More Google Searc...
A Google-commissioned study on smartphone usage has confirmed just how addicted we are to our devices and revealed how we use them to help make purchasing decisions.
The data, which were laid out by Google in detail during a webinar yesterday, revealed a ton of information about how we use the devices in general. A couple of takeaways were particularly interesting for businesses large and small.
Yeah, So We're Addicted. So What?
For starters, 89% of smartphone owners use them on a daily basis, and many of them interact with their devices several times per day. People even said they'd rather give up such pleasures as chocolate, beer and cable TV than do without their treasured electronic companions. This is hardly shocking news, but it confirms just how connected smartphone owners are to their devices, a fact that has a slew of implications for marketers and businesses in general.
The research showed where (at home and on the go, mostly) and how people use their smartphones. Interestingly, more people (81%) said they browse the Web on their device than said they use native applications (68%). For ecommerce sites and other businesses, these numbers suggest that investing in one's mobile-optimized Website could be more important than building native apps.
How Smartphones Help Us Buy Things
One thing for which people seem to use their iPhones, Blackberrys and Android devices quite a bit is shopping. Nearly 80% said they use their phones for shopping and shopping-related activities and 70% use their phones in stores.
Most people (67%) said they use their smartphone to do product research and then purchase an item in a store, followed by the 23% who research on their phones, check the product out in the store but then ultimately purchase it online.
The researchers also looked at what types of actions people take after conducting a mobile search. More than half (53%) ended up making a purchase and 68% visited a business online or in person.
Google Says Mobile Ads Work
People are far more likely to notice ads when using their smartphones than they are in many other circumstances. Eighty-two percent of respondents said they noticed mobile ads, and about half of them said they were likely to take some kind of action as a result, whether it be conducting more research or actually making a purchase.
The study was conducted by interviewing 5,013 U.S. adults (aged 18-64) about their phone usage. Although these results pertain to American users, a representative from Google said they've seen similar data in other countries.
For more details on the study's findings, see this post on the Google Mobile Ads blog.
Google Research Shows How People Us...
Project management seems like an obvious use case for iPads, so we were surprised to see a relatively small number of professional project management applications. But we found a few. For this article we decided to focus only on native iPad applications - we'll look at tablet-optimized Web apps another time.
Which of these is your favorite? Are there any you think we should have included?
Project Planner HD
If you're a users of the open source Gantt Project, or just need a simple Gantt chart app for the iPad, Project Planner HD is worth a look. It can import and export Gannt Project files, export PDFs, and manage tasks and multiple projects.
Projector is a popular and slick looking project management app for both OSX and iOS. Macintosh users starting fresh might want to give it a try.
SG Project 2 and SG Project Pro are some of the most fully featured project management apps available for the iPad. SG Project can import and export Microsoft Project files.
Trackerbot is an iOS client for the popular Pivotal Tracker agile project management SaaS. Trackerbot is a project of Vulpine Labs and is not related to Pivotal Labs, the makers of Pivotal Tracker.
Trackerbot lets uses create, edit, reject, delete and comment on Pivotal Tracker stories. Attachments are supported. Vulpine Labs claims the app will support large projects.
Which Is the Best?
Which of These Project Management Apps for the iPad is Best?online surveys
Thanks to the readers who suggested iPad project management apps via Twitter!
4 Best Project Management Apps For ...
"The main experiment here is that Fargo supports Ruby-style fibers for pausing and resuming async work," Coglan writes on the Fargo site.
According to the ReadMe, Fargo features the following syntax elements from Scheme:
define for binding variables and creating functions
begin for bundling blocks of code as single expressions
if for conditional branching
lambda for creating first-class anonymous functions
quote for defining immutable lists
and and or for boolean logic
It also adds more predicates, operators, list primitives and library functions.
Fargo is available under an MIT license.
Fargo: A Scheme-like Programming La...
You may have seen the new web services that make it easy for anyone to create a lightweight iPhone or Android app, just using drag and drop, text entry and feed URLs. The apps are then hosted for a monthly fee. Those are cool but how about an iPad version? If that's of interest to you, check out a new service just launched today by a company called Bizness Apps.
Bizness has an iPhone app creation system similar to Widgetbox or Genwi's iSites (my favorite) but now it lets you create a dynamic and native (not web) iPad app and host it for $39 per month. I tested it out and the Content Management System is easy to use, relatively powerful and rich with features. It's particularly well suited to restaurants and other small local businesses. Bizness also positions itself well for designer resellers.
Photo galleries, menus, RSS feeds, Twitter streams, Wufoo forms, QR codes, coupons and other features are included. The interface gets a little bit confusing at times (I'm sure I could have gotten used to it) but a live chat is enabled for help and the company will finish creating your app for you at no cost at any time. That surprised me a little - but I suppose if they are signing customers up for recurring payments they can put a touch of labor into a simple design without it being of much consequence.
Once the app is done, Bizness Apps can upload it to iTunes or the Android Marketplace for you under its account, or you can pay the $99 developer account fee to Apple and do it yourself.
Technologies like this represent a fascinating democratization of a new means of communication. The mobile world is a big, beautiful place and I suspect that many small businesses have spent enough time and money on a designed web page that a revamped mobile webpage is less appealing than a lightweight new app.
Presuming that the service is a good deal long run (good customer service, stable etc.) then this represents something the world really needs. It's an easy way for anyone to get into the iPad app world. Tools like this are to mobile apps what blogging was to publishing. Most blogs may not read like the New York Times, but thank goodness for them (us!) anyway, right? Likewise, lightweight mobile app creation tools may not produce the next award winning design miracle but they could deliver a whole lot of functionality and value to a large number of people.
Create Your Own IPad App In Minutes...
I think it was about a decade ago now when I downloaded my first camcorder movie off the Internet and a love affair was born. Why bother going out and renting something from Blockbuster or forfeiting your first born for a movie ticket and a bucket of popcorn when you could nearly replicate the entire experience, for free, on your couch with Orville Redenbacher at your side?
As time went on and peer-to-peer file sharing grew - and the movies went from shaky, "down in front!" home movies to near-DVD quality replicas - it only got worse. And then, suddenly, it all came to an end. "Cold turkey," as they say. But why?
Today, after reading an article over on TorrentFreak about how Netflix is killing BitTorrent, I suddenly felt like a reformed smoker who never intentionally put down the cancer stick. It all made sense.
As TorrentFreak's Ernesto writes, "It doesn't take a genius to conclude that Netflix' popularity has a negative effect on the movie piracy rates in the US."
In the States, Netflix nearly doubled the number of new subscribers in the first quarter of 2010, from 1.7 to 3.3 million. In total, Netflix now has 22.8 million paid subscribers in the US, which generated a total revenue of $706 million in the first quarter of this year.
But where did this influx of subscribers come from? Everyone in the know will point to one thing - streaming video. When Netflix first began offering unlimited streaming in 2008, some forecast that it would only erode the companies profits and spell gloom for the company. Quite the opposite. By November 2010, streaming surpassed DVD subscriptions. Rather than cost Netflix the bottom line, streaming - thus far, though we'll see what happens - has saved the company enormous amounts of money from delivery costs.
When Neftlix finally came around and said it would give me as many movies as I'd like for $8 a month, the love affair with free movies was over. After all, $8 barely gets you in the door at most movie theaters and in some cities it won't even cover a matinee. For the convenience of never having to plan, eat up my bandwidth and risk getting a letter from the MPAA, $8 is but a pittance. I was one of the 7.7 million new subscribers that jumped on board in 2010 and I haven't looked back since. It wasn't a conscience decision, it wasn't a pang of guilt, it was a simple, cheap way to fulfill my desire to go on Battlestar Gallactica benders and quickly queue up whatever movie everyone else had raved about six months ago that I'd never gone to see.
Sure, Netflix doesn't get first-run movies, or those not-yet-in-the-theater screeners, like peer-to-peer networks do, but my eight bucks buys me a peace of mind and enough content to keep me happy until it makes its way around. As Ernesto concludes, "Netflix shows that people are willing to pay for access to movies online, even when plenty of pirated copies are available. The next step is to offer easy access to movies in the rest of the world, and get rid of the artificial delays in release dates."
Besides, if the movie is that good, I might actually hit the theater...and once again be convinced that the only logical approach to movie theater popcorn is the large, because who can justify paying 75 cents less for half as much popcorn? That's just silly.
How Netflix Stole My Eyepatch & I S...
Startup Weekend always sounds like mission impossible: you have 54 hours - from Friday night until Sunday night - to pitch, then build, then demo a product. But the intensity and creativity of the teams that come together for these events are impressive. Great ideas, great products, great teams, and yes despite the short duration, great startups are hatched there.
That's why it's pretty exciting to see the next San Francisco Startup Weekend turn its sights on the education technology industry.
Startup Weekend EDU will be held June 3 -5 at the Grockit offices in San Francisco, and will bring together "makers, founders, creators, developers, teachers, students, designers, and the business-inclined to launch real startups to address the real problems in the multi-trillion dollar education, training and learning markets."
The weekend will follow the same pattern as other Startup Weekend events: ideas will be pitched on Friday night, and the teams will come together to work on their chosen ones, hacking all weekend in preparation for a demo on Sunday evening.
Speakers at Startup Weekend EDU will include Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup methodology, and the judges panel will include Prashant Fuloria, Director of Product Management at Facebook. More judges, speakers, and mentors will be announced soon.
The judges panel will offer feedback to the presenting teams and will hand out over $5000 in cash for the startups.
"SFEDU Startup Weekend is about people passionate about improving education giving up their weekend to create real solutions," says Grockit CEO Farbood Nivi. Education technology can definitely use more hackers, and you can register here to attend the event.
Building An Ed-Tech Startup In A (S...
It looks like PayPal has mobile on the mind. Last week, parent company eBay bought the location-based media company Where and today, PayPal announced that it has acquired Fig Card.
PayPal has been working on a number of ways to enable mobile payments, from bumping iPhone together to using NFC chips, but this acquisition could focus on giving merchants the ability to accept mobile payments quickly, easily and cheaply.
What is Fig Card's innovation that moved PayPal to snatch them up? According to the PayPal blog, the company "developed an extremely easy way for merchants to accept mobile payments in stores by using a simple and very low cost USB device that plugs into the cash register or point-of-sale terminal." Once the merchant added the USB device, the customer simply needed the app to make a mobile payment.
PayPal doesn't make any mention of its plans for Fig Card, other than that founders Max Metral and Hasty Granbery will be joining the team, but it seems likely that this sort of technology could help ease mobile payments into the mainstream. While NFC is certainly on the way, it won't be ubiquitous for some time. According to a report by Juniper Research, one in five smartphones will have the technology by 2014, but how many point-of-sales systems will be NFC enabled? A low cost device, such as the one offered by Fig Card, could make the transition to mobile payments for vendors much easier.
Take a look at Fig Card demo video below:
PayPal Buys Fig Card: A Stepping St...
You'll need an Impact license to download it. There's some basic documentation here
There are some drawbacks. This is still entirely experimental and make not always work. Also:
All told, this is an interesting approach.
Use Impact To Build IOS Games With ...
Twitter has taken to redesign the OAuth screen - the screen you see whenever you decide to login to an application using your Twitter account - in an attempt to better show what you are agreeing to when you hit the "Allow," err, "Authorize app" button.
Twitter developer advocate Matt Harris announced on the developer Google group this afternoon that they were working on refreshing the screen to offer "better clarity about what an application can see and do with an account."
If you've ever wondered what you're signing up for when you click that button - whatever it will be called in the end - it's now made a bit more explicit. As you can see from the image, giving an application access to your Twitter account allows that app to read tweets from your timeline, see who you follow, follow accounts, update your profile and post tweets.
Twitter developer Orian Marx points out, however, that a few key permissions are omitted from this screen: the ability to unfollow users and, more importantly, access their private DMs.
"Obviously it's been to everyone's benefit who has built apps that rely on OAuth up to this point that there has been specific mentioning of access to DMs as this would likely turn off a lot of people from granting access to experimental apps," writes Marx. "The reality is that the OAuth system needs finer-grained controls."
While Facebook allows developers to select what content to request authorization for, with Twitter it's all or none. By giving a Twitter app access to your account, that includes everything mentioned above - including those DMs that you might have thought were totally private. This isn't the first we've heard of this - GigaOm's Mathew Ingram pointed out last October that DMs aren't exactly private, but it seems notable that this fact might not show up on the new login screen. Or maybe they will.
Harris writes on the developer list that "This is a first release of these pages to get a feel for if they are going in the right direction. We tried to select a number of phrases that explain the access that's being granted to an application but that are also easy to understand. I think there will always be some that don't make it, but there are others, like the ones you raise, which would help aid transparency more."
Here's hoping that either users are made explicitly aware that their DMs are not exactly private or that developers are given the granular security permissions necessary to say "No, we don't want access to that." Or both.
What Can An App Do With Your Twitte...
Zynga has been on a tear recently, buying 12 smaller games studios in the past year. But its latest purchase, British mobile development outfit Wonderland, gives a strong indication of what the red-hot company intends all of its spending to achieve.
How Zynga Is Playing To Win With Wo...
Freemium game apps have an outsized influence in the Apple App Store, making up 40 percent of all free game downloads in the App Store in March. But with the recent crackdown by Apple on incentivized installs, freemium app makers are having to adjust.
Freemium Apps Boom, But New Hurdles...
Logitech's Google TV sales tanked in the first three months of this year: The company missed its previous forecast on Google TV sales by more than 70 percent. Logitech now hopes that the next generation of the Google TV platform will turn things around.
Logitech Makes A Measly $5M From Go...
Interested in buying an electric car, but not sure if it fits your lifestyle? BMW -- which has been rather hesitant when it comes to EVs -- recently launched an iPhone app designed to help users discover if they are a good fit for owning an EV.
BMW Launches Electric Car Compatibi...
For years, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes has been one of Netflix's most outspoken critics. But he softened his stance, no longer comparing Netflix to the Albanian Army, but saying the subscription video service had the opportunity to be more like HBO.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes Loves N...
Mobile marketing solutions provider Blue Bite and digital media company Reach Media Group (RMG) are teaming up to deploy NFC technology to over a third of RMG's 200,000 digital screens over the next six months. In addition, Blue Bite is working with other partner networks to bring its total NFC deployment to 200,000 screens across the U.S. These digital screens, such as those found in malls, theaters, bars, clubs, gyms, airplanes, taxis, and elsewhere, allow advertisers to display video ads to millions of viewers per month. RMG, in particular, provides access to over 70 million viewers monthly.
NFC In 2011: NFC Network Launching ...
City-jumping, history-loving, smartphone-toting nerds are getting a fun new tool for Android and iOS today. .Location discovery app It Happened Here has updated its catalogue today to bring rich information to users in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco.
It Happened Here: An App For Serend...
Tomorrow, Friday, April 29, the penultimate space shuttle mission launches and a 30 year shuttle program draws to a close. Mark Kelley, NASA Commander of Space Shuttle Endeavor's final flight, aka mission STS-134, will take questions live on May 2.
YouTube With The Astronauts
The Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan organization that uses the Internet to promote government transparency and openness, is celebrating its fifth anniversary this week. The foundation uses data analysis to report on government activity and trains journalists in the use of data to tell the story about what the federal government is actually up to.
Celebrating Open Government: Sunlig...
India's New Laws Silence Online Speech. An innocuous-sounding set of rules called the "Information Technology (Electronic Service Delivery) Rules, 2011" [pdf] went quietly into effect last month in India. These rules, possessing the force of law, practically guarantee that no user of electronic communications in one of the world's largest countries will ever be completely safe from persecution again.
India's New Laws Silence Online Sp...
Virtual events company Unisfair has released its annual marketing survey, and it shows that even more advertisers will be advancing their brands through virtual happenings this year, with 62 percent saying they would be increasing spending on that medium in 2011, and 42 percent saying they will cut down on how much they budget for physical events. The survey from the Menlo Park, Calif.-based outfit polled more than 550 marketers about how they are using events – both physical, virtual and a combination of the two – to reach their core audience and the role they see virtual environments playing in their current and future marketing plans. “What we learned from the 2011 marketing survey was that even more marketers are planning to increase their spending on virtual engagement compared to last year,” Joerg Rathenberg, vice president of marketing for Unisfair, told VentureBeat. “It is interesting that more marketers are increasing their virtual event budget, where only 32 percent were planning to increase their physical event budget.” They found that 67 percent would like to host 10 or more virtual events this year, while a whopping 87 predict hybrid (part physical, part virtual) events will represent at least half of all events in the next five years. Proving the rapid-fire growth in the popularity of smartphones and products like the iPad, 62 percent said they want the ability to attend a virtual event from a mobile device. The numbers confirm what much of the business world is already experiencing: That physical attendance at conferences and tradeshows is becoming less frequent as companies switch to cheaper, easier-to-access virtual events. Proving virtual events offer broad business benefits to diverse audiences, respondents said they will host virtual events for a variety of reasons in 2011, including training (42 percent); customer engagement (36 percent); internal collaboration (34 percent); lead generation (29 percent); and networking (8 percent). When asked what the best part about attending a virtual event is, 58 percent cited the ability to multitask, while 14 percent find the ability to be “invisible” until they want to engage with colleagues or vendors to be a primary benefit of attending virtual events. Unisfair has created a web-based virtual events platform that customers can use to stage their own online events, from virtual job fairs to trade shows. New customers include EMC, Genentech, Q-Center and Tourism Fiji. The latter used the virtual event to provide training for real world travel professionals. Unisfair has staged hundreds of virtual events for customers like Ariba, IBM, CA Intuit and others. Rivals include InXpo and On24. As we noted at the VirtualEdge conference last March, virtual events are catching on because of concerns about saving travel costs and the greater efficiency of networking online. In August, Unisfair reported it had added 20 new event customers in the first half and grew revenues 60 percent compared to a year ago. Companies: Ariba, ca intuit, Emc, Genentech, IBM, Inxpo, On24, Q-Center, Tourism Fiji, unisfair People: Joerg Rathenberg
Forget Business Travel: Survey Says...
Soundcloud may be the biggest music startup you have never heard of. A large-scale platform for people to share the sounds they create, it has quietly conquered the professional music community, amassed 4 million users and expanded into all kinds of sound from podcasts and public earnings calls to cat impersonations. I talked to CEO and co-founder Alexander Ljung about how sound will become the sixth sense of the social graph. “We want to unmute the web. We think the web is very silent at the moment” says Ljung. SoundCloud started off as a way for Ljung and his co-founder Eric Wahlforss to share a piece of music with someone privately and get feedback. This led to the Soundcloud waveform; a visual representation which allows listeners to add comments at any point in the recording. “We both came from the creator side of music. Eric was an artist creating music. I worked as a sound designer creating sounds and music for TV and films. We had both been tech geeks all our lives and were really into the whole social web movement around the time of Flickr. But there was no Flickr for music. There was nothing built for artists”. Soundcloud had an API from the beginning and now has around 150 apps. I asked Ljung about some of his favorites. “I made some beats on the Gorillaz beatbox app (for iPad) this weekend and then 50 cent put up a vocal track where it’s only him rapping and he asked people to produce it. So now I have a track that I produced for 50 cent!”. The Berkley school of music, one of the premier music schools in the world, recently rebuilt its environment to run its online courses entirely from Soundcloud. Initially, Soundcloud was a set of tools for professional and semi-professional music creators. It’s now the standard way for many DJs and music makers to send and receive music. But Ljung soon noticed that people were using the platform in other ways too. “We saw how people were using SoundCloud for other things: podcasts, radio interviews, sound effects. It started to dawn on us that the distinction between sound and music is fake. Music is one genre of sound but there are many others.” Ljung points out that many services now make it easy to create and capture sounds. “If you think of Twitter, it’s the simplest thing you can imagine. 140 characters. Even a sentence is an object.” Combine this simplicity and granularity with the emotional impact of sound and you get something special. “If you want to stop being scared when watching a horror movie, you mute the sound. Sound is the emotional carrier” Ljung told me. Human beings derive richer layers of meaning from a voice than a written sentence. The background sounds when you call someone give them an instant impression of your situation. So why not do status updates in sound? Ljung calls these “social sounds”. Soundcloud has a variety of mobile apps to capture and share sound anywhere and anyplace. This is part of the thinking behind one of SoundCloud’s latest services. “Last week we launched a service called TakesQuestions. You can record a question for me and I will record an answer. It’s like this asynchronous conversation. Somebody from the X-factor in the UK is doing it for instance.” Ljung told me. Soundcloud doesn’t seem to have any direct competitors. Like Flickr, its business model is based on a hierarchy of accounts from free to premium. The company opened an office in San Francisco recently and Ljung now splits his time between the U.S. and Soundcloud’s headquarters in Berlin. Union Square Ventures invested $10 million in SoundCloud in 2010. I asked Ljung for his thoughts on the future of the music business.“The general discussion is still that the music industry is in so much trouble, which is really not true. There are more people today than ever before who are involved in creating music. It’s time for a different definition of what the music industry is. The musical instrument market is twice as large as the recorded music market and that’s been stable for 30 years. You need to look at what people are actually spending on engaging with music, not just listening to it. A guitar costs $1000 or $1500. That’s a lot of iTunes tracks.” Amen to that. Tags: audio, gorillaz, iPad, music, sound Companies: Soundcloud People: alexander ljung
SoundCloud CEO On Unmuting The Web
An Alabama-based nuclear power plant with similar specifications to the Fukushima Daiichi plant that was ravaged by an earthquake in Japan outlasted catastrophic weather in the southeast and has shut down without incident. The second line of defense — one in a long line of safety precautions — in the Alabama plant that keeps the reactors from melting down was not disabled by the severe weather. Diesel reactors kicked in and provided emergency power to the plant after its main power lines were cut during the severe weather. The Alabama plant didn’t follow the same fate as the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, which faced risks of a meltdown, because the nuclear disaster in Japan was a result of an extreme natural disaster. Most nuclear reactors will never face those circumstances and have a large number of safety precautions — like Alabama’s Browns Ferry nuclear power plant. Dozens of tornadoes and severe weather ripped through the midwest and southeast yesterday, killing 248 people and dealing leveling entire neighborhoods. It dealt a massive blow to the power infrastructure in the area, cutting power to Alabama’s Browns Ferry nuclear power plant. The storms spawned the deadliest outbreak of tornadoes in nearly 40 years, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s a disaster that is nowhere near the scale of the earthquake in Japan, but still significant enough to question whether a nuclear plant would hold up against an assault from mother nature in the United States. A natural disaster — in this case, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in Japan — also knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s power supply. That cut off the flow of clean water into the reactor that cools the fuel rods, leading to the risk of a meltdown. Normally, emergency diesel reactors would kick in and supply emergency power to the plant and keep the fuel rods cool during the shut-down process — like they did in Alabama. But a massive tsunami spawned by the earthquake knocked out those reactors, forcing the plant to go onto reserve battery power. Damage from the 9.0-magnitude quake that struck off the northeast coast of Japan and spawned a massive tsunami far exceeded what nuclear plants are built to withstand, so it was difficult to restore power in the quake-ravaged region. Even the U.S. government considers what happened in Japan to be a fringe case, because it still plans to continue funding nuclear power projects as part of a push to promote energy that is cleaner than that produced by fossil-fuel-burning plants. President Barack Obama and U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu have also lobbied hard to bring nuclear power to the forefront as a potential alternative to fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. [Photo: Argonne National Laboratory] Tags: clean energy, clean technology, fossil fuels, nuclear power
Alabama Nuclear Plant Outlasts Natu...
99designs, the popular site where startups and other small businesses can crowdsource their graphic design needs, has raised $35 million in a first round of funding from Accel Partners. A first round of this size may seem like another sign of a venture capital bubble, but 99designs isn’t your typical early-stage investment. It was founded in February 2008, and has been bootstrapped and profitable until now. Customers can buy customizable logo designs off-the-shelf (metaphorically speaking) for just $99, or they can host design contests for things like logos and websites, where they only pay for the design that they like best. 99designs says that it has hosted more than 75,000 designs already and that it has paid designers $19 million to-date. Accel is most famous for being an early investor in Facebook, but it has also succeeded in bringing relatively mature, bootstrapped companies into the venture capital fold in the past, most notably with Atlassian, a project-management company that raised a $65 million first round led by Accel last year. In fact, Atlassian and 99designs also share an Australian origin — 99designs is based in Melbourne and San Francisco. Angle investors Michael Dearing, Dave Goldberg, Stewart Butterfield, and Anthony Casalena also participated in the round. “99designs caught my attention when I realized that nearly every one of the early stage companies and entrepreneurs I work with was turning to them to get great design work done,” Dearing said in a press release. “The team has created a marketplace that is easy for companies to get onboard with, and also a boon for designers who can go after any of the hundreds of jobs open at any one time.” Companies: 99designs, Accel Partners
Crowdsourced Design Site 99designs ...
Japan-based Panasonic announced today that it will cut 17,000 jobs worldwide through March 2013 and reduce the number of its business divisions from five to three. Panasonic reported a $499 million loss for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2011, largely due to $61 billion in restructuring costs. The restructuring will be done during fiscal year 2012. Panasonic expects that synergies from the restructuring will contribute $735 million to its annual operating profit. The company said that the Japanese earthquake and tsunami had an impact of at least $258 million. Operations at Panasonic’s factories have been recovering but disruptions in the supply chain still affect the company’s operations. The company could not give any forecasts to fiscal year 2012 because the full damage of the disaster cannot yet be calculated. Panasonic has been hurt by competition from South Korea, including Samsung and LG. Tags: layoffs, Reorganization Companies: Lg, Panasonic, Samsung
Panasonic Cuts 17,000 Jobs
A recent report by mobile app development platform Appcelerator has revealed some very interesting facts about the views that the developer community is taking on the emerging trends in the mobile platform war. App developers using the Appcelerator Titanium platform … Read More »
App Report: Android Losing Develope...
Samsung is set to capitalize on the success of its Galaxy range of phones in India by introducing its flagship successor the Galaxy S 2. To say that this phone has impressive features is an understatement. The hardware that this piece of awesome engineering boasts is sure to blow your mind away. Read More »
Samsung Galaxy S2 In India : The Se...
Behind the cloud is not about cloud computing. It is not about the journey of salesforce.com from an idea to a billion dollar company as the cover claims either. It is Marc Benioff’s way of patting himself on his back … Read More »
Book Review: Behind The Cloud [Sale...
India’s high end android market is growing tremendously and its getting harder and harder to choose the right phone for you, especially with new phones expected to arrive anytime in the very very near future. Here’s our low down on … Read More »
Compared: Three High End Android De...
When we told you on April 4th that Apple is launching iPad2 in India this month, following were (some of the) evolved comments from a few evolved readers : “Please check your source of news. News copy writing could be … Read More »
IPad2 Officially Arriving In India ...
Apple recently took actions to dissuade developers from participating in incentivized install programs, meaning programs that encouraged consumers to download new apps in return for virtual goods and other bonuses which could be used in mobile gaming and other apps. But while those changes may have negatively affected some companies' programs, for example, Tapjoy, it has led to opportunities for others.
Today, one of those hoping to benefit from the increasingly important marketing needs of app developers is Appia. It's launching a pay-per-install ad network that it says offers guaranteed ROI to developers. The service launched today at the 2011 AppNation conference in San Francisco.
Appia Launches Pay Per Download
The new ad network supports Android, iOS, Java, Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry and Palm, and developers will only have to pay for the actual downloads of their apps.
The company's distribution network offered 22 million downloads in March, the company says, and now reaches over 200 million mobile users in over 200 countries worldwide. A recent partnership with Opera to power its Opera Mobile Store allows Appia to reach 100 million Opera users and a partnership with Mexico's Telcel for its Ideas Appstore reaches another 64 million mobile subscribers. In total, Appia now has a network of 40 different app stores.
On Appia's network, consumers know that the ads they see are sponsored, similar to how Google Ad Words works. When you search Google, you see Sponsored Results clearly marked; the same will be true here, the company explains. This is more transparent for the end user, which is an obvious benefit, and those users will then only download the app because they think they might like it, not because they were somehow tricked or bribed into doing so.
Targeting Capabilities and More Details
Currently, developers can target ads by platform and country only, but Dov Cohn, VP, Product & Marketing told us that more criteria, including categories and sub-categories of apps, will be available in the future. So far, developers using the platform have seen average cost per user at anywhere from $.05 to $1.25 so far, but the actual price will depend highly on the platform and country being targeted.
To use the service, developers upload their app to Appia's developer portal and set the bid price they way to pay, choose their target areas or devices, then select a payment method. A dashboard displays how the campaign progresses, showing details of activity by device, platform and geography.
Jo Ryall, a Marketing Manager at Flirtomatic and one of the program's earliest users, has positive words, noting that, "for most developers, if you’re not in the top 25 search results for your category, your app has little chance for success." Ryall says Appia’s new program gives the company greater control over marketing and distribution, so it can reach new users and drive downloads more effectively.
Other interested developers can sign up here: www.appia.com/ppd
Appia Announces Pay-Per-Downloads F...
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