HTC One with stock Android arrives June 26 for $599

This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Sundar Pichai HTC One Stock Android

The HTC One is a highly impressive Android device, but many users wish that they could get the beautiful hardware with stock Android Jelly Bean software. Luckily, that wish is becoming reality, as Android head Sundar Pichai announced during his D11 talk that the HTC One with Nexus UI will go on sale on June 26th on the Google Play store, and will work on both AT&T and T-Mobile.

Be sure to check out our HTC One review as well.


HTC One with stock Android arrives June 26 for $599 originally appeared on Gear Live on Fri, May 31, 2013 – 1:07:10

Understanding skepticism

This post is by Mike Loukides from O'Reilly Radar - Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

I’d like to correct the impression, given by Derrick Harris on GigaOm, that I’m part of a backlash against “big data.”

I’m not skeptical about data or the power of data, but you don’t have to look very far or very hard to see data abused. The best people to be skeptical about the data, and to point out the abuse of data, are data scientists because they understand problems such as overfitting, bias, and much more.

Cathy O’Neil recently wrote about a Congressional hearing in which a teacher at a new data science program dodged some perceptive questions about whether he was teaching students to be skeptical about results, whether he was teaching students how to test whether their observations were real signals or just noise. Anyone who has worked with data knows that false correlations come cheaply, particularly when you’re working with a lot of data. But ducking that question is not the attitude we need.

Data is valuable. I see no end to the collection or analysis of data, nor should their be an and. But like any tool, we have to be careful about how we use it. Skepticism isn’t a blanket rejection of data; it’s central to understanding data. That’s precisely what makes “science” science.

And of all people, journalists should understand what skepticism means, even if they don’t have the technical tools to practice it.

When Smartphones Are The Wrong Tool For The Wrong Job

This post is by Dan Rowinski from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Normally I am all for using smartphones to make you better at your job or businesses more efficient. But sometimes things just cross the line.

The Chicago Sun-Times, a newspaper with a long and rich history, just fired its entire staff of photo journalists. It their place? The Sun-Times is going to teach every reporter the basics of iPhone photography. 

“In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be working with all editorial employees to train and outfit you as much as possible to produce the content we need,” said Sun-Times managing editor Craig Newman in a memo to the staff, according to media critic Robert Feder in a Facebook post.

This comes under the category of, “just because you can do something and it will be cheaper and easier, doesn’t mean you bloody well should.”

I take a lot of photos for articles with my array of smartphones. That doesn’t mean all of them are any damn good. Sometimes it can be damn hard to take a professional photograph of something with a smartphone for publication. You become a lot more aware of lighting conditions, distance, hand movement and stabilization. These are things that a good photo journalist with a decent camera just knows how to take care of to produce much better quality work than me and my point-and-shoot smartphone hack jobs.

In comparison to large newspapers, ReadWrite’s staff is small and we can only do so many things. Yet, we have a person on a photo desk (that serves other SAY Media-owned properties, as well) and we have been trying to be more proactive with original pictures and visual elements in our story. The Web is more and more a visual place, and quality photos are what make publications stand out from the dreck of social media and amateur blogs. Add in the fact that the Chicago Sun-Times actually prints a paper newspaper, and the matter becomes complicated. You ever seen a pixelated, blurry iPhone picture blown up and printed on newspaper parchment? No? There is a reason for that.

If newspapers are going to turn reporters into “backpack journalists” (where everything they need from camera, to notebooks to computer,smartphone and tablets is in  backpack), then they need to equip reporters better for photos than just a smartphone. The industry has made tremendous strides with smartphone camera technology (with Samsung, Nokia and HTC’s recent flagship smartphones all boasting terrific digital point-and-shoot apps).

For the most part though, they just aren’t going to be good enough for the professional-grade photography a major American newspaper is supposed to have. It would be better if the if the Sun-Times reporters issued high-quality digital cameras like the Samsung Galaxy Camera. They would be much better equipped to enter the fray than just with their smartphone. 

We can extend the bad decision of the Sun-Times to a variety of industries. Just because mobile might be cheaper, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be better. The right tool for the right job makes everybody’s lives easier and more efficient. Sometimes, perhaps most of the time, that tool is not going to be a smartphone. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

LG Nexus 4 now available in white

This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

White LG Nexus 4

The LG Nexus 4 is arguably the best Android phone on the market right now (if you don't care about LTE,) but if you were bored by the black hue, you can now get it on the Google Play store and T-Mobile in white. In fact, if you buy it from Google Play directly, you also get a free bumper case thrown in for good measure. It should be stated, though, that the only difference here is the color–otherwise, it's the same Nexus 4 that was released over six months ago, running the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean 4.2.2.


LG Nexus 4 now available in white originally appeared on Gear Live on Fri, May 31, 2013 – 12:04:59

Are Driverless Cars Legal?

This post is by NIck Statt from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

The autonomous vehicle industry has been given its first Federal blessing Friday morning. The Department of Transportation is recognizing that it must work alongside technology companies and carmakers if it wants regulations and laws to have a hope of keeping up with driverless cars. But the outstanding question still on every drivers’ mind: are these vehicles actually legal? 

While not condoning the use of fully driverless cars, the DOT issued a non-binding policy statement to states, advising them to use driverless cars for testing only. The DOT also stressed that some forms of autonomy in vehicles can save lives, like speed adjustment, lane-centering and driver monitoring to watch for dangers like falling asleep at the wheel. 

As it stands, driverless cars are not fully legal, but they’re also not illegal. It depends on the state, the level of autonomy in question and the various regulatory layers that stretch from a state-enforced law to a Federal one. 

The Legislative Puzzle Behind Driverless Cars

First of all, the decision of whether to allow driverless cars on the road is not up to the Federal government. States have the power to set driving laws, like the age requirement for a driver’s license and the range of penalties for driving while talking on your cellphone. 

Because of this state power, California, Nevada and Florida have all legalized the use of fully autonomous cars in the last two years. It’s those laws that make it legal for Google employees to cruise down to Mountain View without their hands on the wheel. In the case of Nevada, driverless vehicles are specifically licensed one-by-one by the state with a special license plate and a requirement that at least two people, one in the driver’s seat, be in the car at all times. 

That’s not to say that a company like Google couldn’t test a driverless car in another state. New York, for instance, does not have any laws on the books that say using a driverless car is explicitly illegal, though it wouldn’t be smart to take an autonomous Prius to the streets of Brooklyn, considering the liabilities involved if a crash occurs. In fact, for every other state in the U.S., driverless cars are not technically illegal because no law says cars must have drivers.

So where does the Federal government fit in? The DOT, which oversees the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) agency that issued the policy statement Friday morning, is the governmental body that manages a number of regulations, like vehicle safety and fuel economy standards, that currently keep companies like Toyota and Ford from selling a street-legal consumer model of an autonomous car. 

But while a fully driverless car is technically not available to consumers right now, different levels of autonomy are present in every modern vehicle and exist solely because of regulatory loopholes that don’t take into account the vast levels of sophistication humming under the hoods of many software-equipped cars. Some of these technologies include adaptive cruise-control, which automatically alters speed depending on your proximity to other vehicles and lane-assist systems that, while not physically moving the car for you, alert drivers and suggest ways to drive safer. And future models of Mercedes-Benz vehicles will include auto-braking systems to prevent potential collisions. 

Given these advancements and the occasionally anachronistic laws on the books that date back to the time of horse-drawn carriages, the NHTSA policy statement was a two-fold move. It both publicly recognized government regulations are being far outpaced by technological advancements, but also acknowledged the government is willing to take it step by step to ensure that the ultimate goal – to increase driver safety and efficiency – is met within reasonable limits. 

The final verdict: “Self-driving vehicle technology is not yet at the stage of sophistication or demonstrated safety capability that it should be authorized for use by members of the public for general driving purposes,” the statement read. Also included were recommendations that states begin drafting up special licenses and carmakers consider the easiest way to implement and place a feature that would quickly switch from an autonomous to driver-control mode. 

The Pace Of Autonomous Advancement 

The commonly repeated timetable for driverless cars to hit the market is within the next decade, which poses a siginficiant legal hurdle for lawmakers and car manufacturers alike. While Google may be covering all the bases required to convince people a driverless car is safe – including its significant lobbying efforts to get laws on the books like it did in Nevada – it doesn’t mean that the DOT will easily wave the green flag for Ford, Toyota, GM and the handful of other companies who are currently developing autonomous technology for their product lines. 

Without a significant joint effort from states, technology companies, carmakers and Federal legislative bodies, the future of autonomous cars will remain cloudy. All of the confusing layers of bureaucracy and the technology vs. government back-and-forths seem to hide a central question: driverless may be safer, but does the public really want to adopt them? 

According to a recent Cisco report on the consumer experience within the automotive industry, the answer is yes, mostly. 57% of global consumers trust driverless cars, the report cites. The trust is heavily weighted in emerging markets like Brazil, India, and China, but still comes in at 60% for the U.S. 

So it seems that Google and others have done a solid job convincing people that a driverless car is a good idea – after all, only two recorded crashes of the Google Prius included one where a driver was manually controlling it and another where the vehicle was rear-ended by another driver. With the Federal government keeping a watchful, but encouraging eye, on the market, regular drivers can only sit and wait for the laws to match the technology, presumably in traffic while Larry Page chides us for not using our time efficiently


Image courtesy of Flickr user jurvetson

Two-Factor Authentication Is For Wusses, Get A Tattoo

This post is by Brian Proffitt from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Think you’re all bad-ass with your two-factor authentication and 40-character passwords? If Motorola’s vision of the future comes to pass, that kind of security is for wusses.

In a conversation at All Things D’s D:11 conference this week, Motorola Mobility’s head of advanced technology and projects group Regina Dugan lamented the fact that for all of the technological advances that we have made over the decades, we are still relying on outmoded password-based authentication, the kind the guys in the lab coats were using back in the day.

And we’re doing it a lot. Dugan speculated that power users would have to authenticate themselves nearly a hundred times a day.

(See also Two-Factor Authorization Is Awesome – Until You Lose the Damn Token.)

Dugan presented two options for better ways to securely access information in the near future: tattoos and “authentication vitamins.”

The electronic tattoo, which Dugan demonstrated on stage at the conference, are biostamps made by the firm MC10, which can be used by healthcare professionals to monitor a patient’s vital signs. In a medical context, these tattoos, which are thin and stretchable, could be implanted within the body to monitor conditions like irregular heartbeats or brain activity.

The technology, Dugan explained, can also be used as an authentication tool, worn right on the user’s skin.

Ink not your thing? Dugan pulled out another conceptual idea: a small pill-like device that, when swallowed, would turn your whole body into a authentication device.

The device runs “like a reverse potato battery,” Dugan explained, pulling power from the acids in your stomach to generate an 18-bit authentication signal from the embedded chip inside. The pill has reportedly been approved already by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Motorola seems to be taking a shortcut to the coveted holy grail of pure biometric identification with these interim bio/tech hybridized tools. The more technology that an authentication system employs, however, the bigger the more chance it can be hacked.

That said, tattoos and pills are a pretty interesting place to move the authentication conversation.

Image courtesy AllThingsD.

Check out Apple’s new 16GB camera-less iPod touch [Video]

This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

iPod touch 16GB fifth generation

Apple's new fifth-generation 16GB iPod touch (which doesn't include a rear camera) was announced yesterday, and is starting to show up at Apple retail stores today. Ben Pasternak over in Australia was one of the first to get his hands on one of the new iOS devices, and put together a short video showing off the two-toned iPod touch. As a refresher, the new 16GB touch costs $229, and replaces the discontinued fourth-generation iPod touch. You can get the new iPod touch now, and check out the video after the break.

Continue reading Check out Apple’s new 16GB camera-less iPod touch [Video]


Check out Apple’s new 16GB camera-less iPod touch [Video] originally appeared on Gear Live on Fri, May 31, 2013 – 8:51:44

Check out Apple’s new 16GB camera-less iPod touch [Video]

This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

iPod touch 16GB fifth generation

Apple's new fifth-generation 16GB iPod touch (which doesn't include a rear camera) was announced yesterday, and is starting to show up at Apple retail stores today. Ben Pasternak over in Australia was one of the first to get his hands on one of the new iOS devices, and put together a short video showing off the two-toned iPod touch. As a refresher, the new 16GB touch costs $229, and replaces the discontinued fourth-generation iPod touch. You can get the new iPod touch now, and check out the video after the break.

Continue reading Check out Apple’s new 16GB camera-less iPod touch [Video]


Check out Apple’s new 16GB camera-less iPod touch [Video] originally appeared on Gear Live on Fri, May 31, 2013 – 8:51:44

MySQL Co-Founder Wants You To Pay Up For Open Source

This post is by Matt Asay from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Monty Widenius, co-founder of MySQL and founder of MariaDB, just came to a surprise revelation: most people use open source for free. What’s so surprising, however, is not this fact, but the idea that Widenius wouldn’t have learned this 13 years ago when he first released MySQL under the GNU General Public License (GPL) and his company’s revenues dropped 80%. The lesson here, however, isn’t that there’s no money in open-source software, but rather that some strategies for monetizing open source are effective, while others are not.

Monty Got A Raw Deal

For anyone that has been around open source for the past 10 years, hearing Widenius complain about open source free riders is irony at its finest. Widenius, after all, was a technical mastermind at MySQL, and was generally more concerned with MySQL’s development community than making money, fighting efforts to monetize the otherwise free database.

Not that this is a bad thing. At any open-source company, developers are the lifeblood of the project and particular care must be taken to cater to their interests and needs. Widenius filled that role admirably.

But Widenius also made it harder to cover the real costs of open-source development, and continues to do so. Recently Widenius attacked Oracle for “suffocating” MySQL through proprietary enterprise extensions, among other things. This may be true, in part, but it’s also true that Oracle has 400-plus engineers working on MySQL, and somehow their work needs to be paid for.

In an interview with ZDNet, Widenius (mis)remembers the halcyon of people happily paying for open-source software, and suggests that “Now the problem is that you have companies that are heavily using open source but refuse to pay anything back because they don’t have to.” This has, of course, always been the case, and yet it hasn’t stopped open source from booming, both as a community development and corporate revenue perspective.

Monty’s Solution: “Business Source”

Still, Widenius pines for a business model that will help feed development while generating a profit. His strategy, called “business source,” effectively amounts to dumping open source entirely, but only for a few years:

[Business source] is a commercial licence that is time-based and which will become open source after a given time, usually three years. But you can get access to all the source. You can use it in any way but the source has a comment that says you can use it freely except in these circumstances when you have to pay.

In other words, it’s not open source. It doesn’t fit the parameters of the canonical Open Source Definition. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but let’s call a spade a spade. Business source is simply proprietary software released under a Microsoft-esque shared source license that magically becomes fully open source after a period of time.

Surely this must rankle the free software-loving Widenius, but he comes to terms with it by espousing the exact same rationale used by those that advocate Open Core or similar strategies for open source:

You’re forcing a small part of your user base to pay for the restrictions, which can be if you’re making money from [the software], if you have more than 100 employees, or you’re a big company or something like that. So you’re forcing one portion of your users to pay.

Exactly. But this is the same as the various strategies MySQL tried, which Widenius fought.

It’s Not About The License

Jim Jagielski, president and co-founder of the Apache Software Foundation, suggests that “if your open source project isn’t successful with FOSS licensing, it’s not the license’s fault.” Rather, it’s a matter of trying to charge for the wrong things:

To wit, Facebook, Google, Amazon and others make billions of dollars selling services around open-source infrastructure, while Red Hat mints over a billion dollars annually selling a certified, binary distribution of community-developed Linux. There is plenty of money in and around open-source software. The open-source license doesn’t prevent this. It enables this.

Widenius is a smart person. He’ll figure it out. It’s only surprising that his experience at MySQL didn’t already teach him this lesson.

Image courtesy of James Duncan Davidson/O’Reilly Media.

How To Be Relevant On Twitter Without The Help Of Influencers

This post is by Muhammad Yasin from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Guest author Muhammad Yasin is the marketing director at HCC Medical Insurance Services and the co-author of Nothing New: An Irreverent History of Storytelling and Social Media.

There’s a gold rush going on – online marketers are frantically searching for influencers to share their content through social media platforms like Twitter. The idea is that the influencer’s seal-of-approval can make all the difference in how consumers view a product or piece of content.

But influencer endorsements are not the only way to achieve relevance on Twitter:

1. Edit Your Content Ruthlessly

With thousands upon thousands of brands to follow on Twitter, why should someone pay attention to your brand instead of the competition? The content you create has to be worthy of their time.

Think quality over quantity: instead of posting multiple times a day with content that may not relate to your consumers, make sure that everything you post is interesting to the people who should be following you. This doesn’t mean you should post only once a day, but don’t stretch to meet an arbitrary production number by padding your account with sub-par social shares. Research your target market obsessively and base your content on exactly what they find interesting

2. Be On Time

Producing great content also means making sure it is timely. Focus on saying the right thing at the right time. I once had a colleague who wrote an amazing blog post on dog sledding. Problem, it was in the middle of a summer heat wave. I filed away this post, and her accompanying tweets, and waited until December to post them. Staying timely can be as simple as creating a high-level editorial plan mapping out what topics to discuss each week or month.

Being timely also means keeping up up with conversation trends. If everyone on Twitter is talking about a hot new TV show, you need to weigh in with related content before they move on to another topic.

(See also New ‘Social’ Businesses Want To Know All About You: No Thanks!

3. Don’t Be A Stick In The Mud

Your business is not a bland, faceless entity, and neither are you! Let your Twitter account reflect some personality. At its core, Twitter is about being social. Even people following brands want to feel like they are interacting with a person, not a machine. Engage users and carry on conversations. Develop relationships with followers in the same way that you would nurture a face-to-face business relationship. I reached out to my Twitter network and received a really interesting response:

Being relevant on Twitter is a multi-step process and it takes time to gain traction organically. Unlike the immediate exposure you can receive by leveraging an existing influencer, the organic approach can sometimes feel like shouting in the woods. However, once your account finally “pops,” the results can be dramatic. Best of all, you – not the influencer – fully own your brand’s network and can reap the benefits.

Apple Should Think Differently About Wall Street

This post is by Noah Kravitz from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

Apple can’t win when it comes to Wall St. Today’s Street is more about high-stakes betting on fast growth than investing in the long term, and Apple’s piled up enough assets to take care of their own financial well-being for years to come. Apple has a responsibility to long-term investors that, conveniently enough, matches up nicely with their own corporate DNA. 

Profits aren’t necessarily driving share prices and big money deals right now. But potential sure is. So what? Play the long game, Apple, and share price will take care of itself.

Show Me The Money? No, Show Me The Potential

Apple has exhibited staggering growth over the past decade or so, blowing out its own revenue records quarter after quarter while amassing close to $200 billion in total assets according to March 2013 filings (see chart below). That’s more than twice the value of Google’s assets, in case you’re keeping score. Both iPad and iPhone sales continued to show year-over-year growth last quarter, and both broke company sales records during the previous quarter, which included the 2012 holiday shopping season. As Brian Proffitt noted, tablets are hot right now and they’re particularly hot for Apple; Q2 iPad sales were up 65% from the same quarter last year.

AAPL Total Assets Chart

AAPL Total Assets data by YCharts

But shares of AAPL are still off more than 35% since peaking at 705 last September. Meanwhile, Tumblr – a company with revenues somewhere between minimal and “underreported” – just sold for $1.1B. Instagram can tell a similar story. Why? Instagram and Tumblr had both racked up tens of millions of users churning hundreds of millions of page impressions with hardly an ad in sight. That spells potential – boundless untapped monetization potential – in their suitors’ eyes. 

Shares of Tesla have spiked nearly 400% over the past year and the electric car maker literally just posted its first-ever profitable quarter. To compare, Apple posted a $9.5 billion profit in Q1 2013; Tesla reported profits of $15 million for the same quarter.  And yet Apple’s share prices tumble while Tesla’s climb a hockey stick growth curve. Why? Tesla’s just now showing the kind of traction that could really disrupt a big industry. Again, potential. Poor old Apple has already torn up the music and wireless businesses. Unless they make a serious push to tear another dinosaur of an industry apart, there’s no high growth opportunity in AAPL stock.

(See Also: 10 Reasons Why Now Is Not A Good Time To Buy Apple Stock)

Keep Calm And Carry On… Towards Disruption

So what’s a shareholder-accountable Tim Cook to do? Keep his poker face steady and solider on towards Apple’s next game changer while continuing to grow iPad and iPhone revenues in the meantime. Cook’s already done the right things in giving Jony Ive the keys to the kingdom, readying iOS and OS X updates for WWDC, issuing dividends and stock buy-backs and managing expectations ahead of a slow summer for products.

Cook even teased major disruptions during an interview at D:11 earlier in the week, naming television and wearable technology as two big markets Apple is keenly interested in exploring further. Of course Apple’s been talking TV for a while now, which is part of the investor frustration Cook also acknowledged Tuesday night. And then there’s the $10 billion Apple plans to spend on capital expenditures this year: $1B is earmarked for retail stores, leaving $9B for “a variety of areas,” including manufacturing equipment and data centers. 

In other words, any suggestion that Apple is adrift without a plan for the future is utterly unfounded. Apple may not be telling the public what it’s next move is, but it’s clearly got a big thing or two in the works. 

(See Also: Yes Apple, Bake iOS Into My Watch, My Walls And Wherever Else.) 

Whether an Apple led by Tim Cook and Sir Jonathan Ive can remake a company like Steve Jobs’ Apple did remains to be seen. But with nearly $200 billion to work with, there’s literally no need for Cook and company to rush or investors to panic. Yes, Apple should take a moonshot soon; iPad isn’t (yet) the volume product iPhone is, and iPhone’s epic success might not last forever in wake of the Samsung-led Android charge. Iteration will only serve the company for so long.

Apple execs will tell you that innovation is key to Apple’s corporate culture. It’s in their DNA. Perhaps Apple would do well to take a page from their arch-rival’s playbook when it comes to public risk taking. Whatever you think of Google’s Glass and self-driving car projects, nobody’s accusing Larry Page and company of resting on their laurels. Google’s got a million and one projects coming and going and dropping out of the sky at developer conferences. Apple and Google are very different companies with very different philosophies around developing and shipping products, but Google has gained mindshare – and driven up their share price – at least partly due to their brash, cutting-edge experiments in the future of human-computer interaction. 

Funny as it sounds, maybe Apple should look to Google as a source of inspiration. No, I don’t expect Tim Cook to skydive into WWDC next month. But Google found its cash cow in optimizing ads against search and now it can afford to experiment with basically whatever it sees fit. iPod and iOS devices have given Apple unimaginable financial resources of its own, and Tim Cook’s bunch should ignore the naysayers, keep refining iOS and swing for the fences when they’re good and ready.

Though someting tells me they’ve already got those fences in sight.

Four short links: 31 May 2013

This post is by Nat Torkington from O'Reilly Radar - Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

  1. Modeling Users’ Activity on Twitter Networks: Validation of Dunbar’s Number (PLoSone) — In this paper we analyze a dataset of Twitter conversations collected across six months involving 1.7 million individuals and test the theoretical cognitive limit on the number of stable social relationships known as Dunbar’s number. We find that the data are in agreement with Dunbar’s result; users can entertain a maximum of 100–200 stable relationships. Thus, the ‘economy of attention’ is limited in the online world by cognitive and biological constraints as predicted by Dunbar’s theory. We propose a simple model for users’ behavior that includes finite priority queuing and time resources that reproduces the observed social behavior.
  2. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends (Slideshare) — check out slide 24, ~2x month-on-month growth for MyFitnessPal’s number of API calls, which Meeker users as a proxy for “fitness data on mobile + wearable devices”.
  3. What I Learned as an Oompa Loompa (Elaine Wherry) — working in a chocolate factory, learning the differences and overlaps between a web startup and an more traditional physical goods business. It’s so much easier to build a sustainable organization around a simple revenue model. There are no tensions between ad partners, distribution sites, engineering, and sales teams. There are fewer points of failure. Instead, everyone is aligned towards a simple goal: make something people want.
  4. Augmented Reality Futures (Quartz) — wrap-up of tech in the works and coming. Instruction is the bit that interests me, scaffolding our lives: While it isn’t on the market yet, Inglobe Technologies just previewed an augmented reality app that tracks and virtually labels the components of a car engine in real time. That would make popping the hood of your car on the side of the road much less scary. The app claims to simplify tasks like checking oil and topping up coolant fluid, even for novice mechanics.

Why Programming Is The Core Skill Of The 21st Century

This post is by Lauren Orsini from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

In the 20th Century, meaningful education was all about learning your ABCs. Today, it’s centered on Alphas, Betas and C++.

Programming skills are becoming ever more important, quickly turning into the core competency for all kinds of 21st Century workers. That inescapable fact is leading individuals to seek out new ways of learning to code, startups and non-profits to find ways to help them and businesses to search for innovative approaches to finding the coders they so desperately need.

When daily deal site Living Social couldn’t find the coding help it needed, for example, the company took matters into its own hands and successfully created its own qualified programmers. Through an experiment called Hungry Academy,  Living Social paid 24 people to learn computer programming within five months. All two dozen passed the class and became full-time developers at Living Social following their graduation. 

“We believe that intelligence and passion are far harder to hire for and much more important than a specific technical skill,” Chad Fowler, LivingSocial’s senior vice president of technology, told the Washington Post last year. “We have enough of the kind of DIY sort of mentality here and, maybe it’s a little bit of hubris, we can teach faster than the industry.”

Likely due to Living Social’s larger troubles, the company won’t be repeating the experiment. However the concept it nurtured – teaching untechnical people technical skills – is gaining in popularity in a wide variety of ways. Learn-to-code programs bent on teaching anyone, even children, programming skills are on the upswing, at non-profits, at startups and at companies that need to hire programmers.

See also:

Plenty Of Ways To Learn Programming

Mark Lassoff, founder of, believes it’s not the place you learn to code that counts. It’s the portfolio you can show potential employers.

“People think you have to go back to school to learn programming and other computer skills, but you don’t,” he said in a statement. “There’s also the myth that you have to be some kind of math or science genius to learn it. Not true. You just need to learn the process, and then practice it. You can build a portfolio by doing volunteer work for a church or charity.”

Ordinarily, newly minted developers would be less desirable than experienced ones for employers. But the current developer drought means there are far more jobs that require programming skills than people who have those skills.  So companies are more accepting of programming newbies.

Lots Of Coding Jobs Going Begging

(See also Don’t Look Now, But We Might Be In A Developer Drought.)

The number of coding jobs is only expected to increase over time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 913,000 computer programmer jobs in 2010. That number is expected to jump 30% from 2010 to 2020. Meanwhile, the average growth of all other U.S. jobs is predicted to be just 14%

“There aren’t enough people to fill these jobs because technology and the job market are moving much faster than education in high schools and colleges,” Lassoff said. 

How Coding Can Boost Everyone’s Career

Developer and mentor Joe O’Brien believes that computer skills are essential even if you’ve already got a non-technical job. 

“We all interact with computers in such a way that they’re no longer this extra thing you do on the side,” O’Brien told ReadWrite. “Computing is a vital part of what everybody does nowadays.

“Not that we want everyone to go out and create Web programs and write the next Twitter, but I think having a base understanding of what happens behind the curtain can be huge,” he added.

O’Brien never graduated from college, but he did recently sell Edgecase, the software development company he founded and operated himself. He thinks that his programming skills made him a better CEO than he would have been without them. Today, he mentors aspiring programmers in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. 

“Even if a CEO never codes for her company, just understanding what is happening is going to be huge for her from a risk standpoint, from an understanding standpoint,” he said. “CEOs need to have a lot of knowledge of a lot of different things and programming is a large part of that.”

Teaching Programming Is Big Business

CEOs who think like O’Brien might be the reason that learn-to-code startups have been able to fundraise millions in venture capital. Investors seem to realize that companies like Treehouse and Codecademy don’t just train the next generation of developers, but that the skill they teach are essential for managers, too. 

(See also There’s A Boom In Teaching People How To Code.)

Whether to boost your career or just to keep pace with the rest of the world, learning to code has never been more important or more accessible. If you haven’t started yet, what’s stopping you?

Second image courtesy of Team Round of APPlause. Final image courtesy of Girls Who Code.

Tablet/Laptop Hybrids Are A Great Idea, But Can The HP Envy x2 Live Up To The Promise?

This post is by Fredric Paul from ReadWrite

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

I think the idea of combining a tablet with a removable keyboard to create tablet/laptop hybrid is a great idea – and the HP Envy X2 makes a brave attempt to combine the two form factors into a viable hybrid. But after using it for several weeks, the truth is that device can’t quite measure up on either side of the equation. Suprisingly, though, the Envy X2 works better as a tablet than as a laptop.

(See also HP Envy x2 Tablet/Laptop Combo Cust Across Categories.)

I’ve always been a big fan of using multi-function devices instead of carrying multiple specialized devices for particular purposes. I was thrilled with my first smartphone, for example, because I could finally leave my music player and PalmPilot at home. So I was really excited when I first saw the Envy X2, and thrilled when HP sent one over to let me try it out for a while.

Great Form Factor, Solid Construction

The form factor and hardware construction made me feel even better. Both halves of the 3.1-pound unit come finished in natty brushed aluminum. The tablet portion, which also serves as the screen/lid when attached to the keyboard base, sports an 11.6” touchscreen (1366 x 768 resolution), as well as 2GB of RAM, a 64GB solid-state hard drive (in the $650 base version), an HD webcam on the front and an 8-megapixel camera on the back, plus dual-speaker “Beats Audio” sound. My only issue was the extreme widescreen aspect ratio, which made the unit awkward in some use cases.

Connectivity and ports include a propriatary charging connector (boo!), headphone jack, micro SD card slot and Near Field Communications (NFC) wireless connections.

Finally, A Real Keyboard

The separate base unit has an honest-to-God laptop-style keyboard: I had no problem touch-typing on it right from the start. That’s critical to this type of device, and frankly better than any of the keyboard covers, add-ons and excuses offered for everything from the Apple iPad to the Microsoft Surface. The keyboard also sports its own USB and HDMI ports and a full-size SD card slot – as well as its own battery that gets used up first when the x2 is is fully assembled.

Best of all, the two parts snap together with a solid, easy to use hinge – and you don’t have to worry about turning off the device to go from laptop mode to tablet mode, or vice versa.

(See also HP’s New ElitePad Business Tablet Is All About The Accessories.)

The Envy x2 I tested runs on Windows 8, which I believe works best in these kinds of small, touchscreen devices. (HP has also released a $480 version running Android called the Slatebook x2.)

(See also How Windows 8 Throws Computer Users Under The Bus.)

Trading Performance For Battery Life: = A Bad Idea

In a deliberate move to extend battery life, HP chose to power the Envy x2 with a Intel Atom Z2760 processor running at 1.8GHz. The company claims battery life of up to 10.75 hours for the tablet portion, and up to 19.25 hours for the combined unit (continuous video playback was rated at up to 7 hours for the tablet only, 12.25 hours for the combined unit). In my informal tests, I was never able to use the x2 enough in one day to empty the battery, which I guess is the point. But leaving the machine off for a couple days did seem to drain power.

But there’s a steep trade-off here. The Atom processor is simply too wimpy to provide full-fledged laptop performance. I noticed lags and delays constantly just moving around the Windows 8 interface, using simple programs and watching videos. Think netbook, not notebook, and those things faded away for a reason. Using the x2 as a tablet was less bothersome, but still not up to the smoothness and responsiveness standards set by iPads and leading Android tablets.

More Netbook Than Notebook?

In the end, I could probably live with the tablet-side performance (hardly a ringing endorsement, I know), but there’s no way I could give up a “real” laptop for the x2. And that, right there, turns the Envy x2 into an interesting experiment instead of a useful computing solution. If you still need a real laptop, you might as well get a real tablet.

One final note: Earlier this month, HP announced the $800 Split x2, with a 13.3-inch touchscreen and a much more powerful Intel Core processor. This version is not due out until August, but could solve the performance issues. On the other hand, the faster chip will challenge battery life. And with a 13.3-inch screen, that’s going to be one heckuva big tablet!

(See also Forget the iPad Mini – Is There Room For An iPad Maxi?)


All images by Madeleine Weiss for Readwrite, except Split x2, courtesy of HP.


Fun Friday: Favorite Sport

This post is by Fred from A VC

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

I was at my friend Vanessa’s birthday party last night and another friend Cliff was saying to me that baseball is falling fast in popularity amoung the younger people in america. So we asked all the kids who were in attendance and sure enough baseball was considered “boring” and was not interesting to them. Soccer (football) on the other hand was rising fast. Among the kids in attendance last night, basketball was first, football and soccer were in a close second, with hockey and baseball in the rear view mirror.

So for fun friday today, I thought I would poll the AVC readers on our favorite sport:

Please participate in the poll and in the comments. After all, this is fun friday.

Why the perfectly shareable Pinterest pin is a red or orange close-up product shot

This post is by John Koetsier from VentureBeat

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

pinterest most pinnedVisual analytics and marketing platform Curalate studied 500,000 images on Pinterest to discover what drives the most likes and repins. The results might astonish you.

First of all ixnay on the faces: brand images without faces drive many more repins than images with faces.

And generally, color is good, particularly images with more than one dominant color, which are repinned 3.25 times more often than images with just one dominant color. But even though blue seems to be many people’s favorite color, it’s a bad choice for repin-seeking Pinteresters. Red images get more repins than primarily blue images, and pictures that contain a mixture of red, orange, and brown, oddly enough, are repinned twice as as often as blue images.

pinterestWhich makes the header photo for this post — a decadent Loaded Baked Potato Soup at a Disney theme park– a just-about perfect pin: it’s been repinned almost 60,000 times and liked almost 8,000 times.

To generate its guidelines for creating more-shareable pins, Curulate analyzed 30 visual characteristics of images on Pinterest, such as color, texture, size, format (portrait or landscape), and saturation (how light or dark an image is).

Another interesting finding: never, ever post a rough-textured image to Pinterest. According to the Curulate data, images with smooth texture are repinned a massive 17 times more often than images with rough texture. In addition, to maximize repinnability of products or objects, make the shot a close-up. Imagines with less than 30 percent background are repinned most often, while images that contain 40 percent or more background are two to four times less likely to be repinned.

One more guideline: saturation.

Very light and very dark images are seldom repinned. In fact, images with medium lightness are repinned 20 times more often than mostly dark images, and eight times more often than images which are mostly white.

Another very pinnable post with 165 re-pins

Another very pinnable post with 165 re-pins

Finally, while it’s not an image guideline, brands need to be careful that their images on Pinterest actually lead somewhere. Pinterest is the fourth-largest traffic-generating site on the internet, but 48 percent of the most popular pins lead to expired pages on retailers’ sites.

It would, after all, be a complete waste of time to engineer the perfectly-repinnable Pinterest pin … only to have it lead straight to a 404 error page on your website.

Image credits: Pinterest; Baked Potato Soup/DisneyPinterest Cake by Shards of Blue/Flickr

Filed under: Big Data, Business, Entrepreneur, Media, Social


Funding Daily: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This post is by Rebecca Grant from VentureBeat

Click here to view on the original site: Original Post

TNMTToday’s big funding story was Softbank Capital’s additional funding for early-stage startups in New York City. New York City is an exciting and growing tech scene and thus it seemed fitting to dedicate today’s funding roundup to a fearless group that, like New York VCs and entrepreneurs, are dedicated to helping New York achieve its full potential – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They are named after artists, they love pizza, and they fight crime using ninja skills. What’s not to love?

Softbank Capital raises $51M to invest in early-stage NYC startups

Softbank Capital announced today that it has raised an additional $51 million for early-stage investments in NYC startups. The firm is the investment arm of Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank, which is in the midst of a bidding war for Sprint. If the Sprint deal goes through, we may see SoftBank play an even bigger role in the U.S. technology world. Softbank Capital currently has 32 active investments in New York City, including Buzzfeed, Gilt Group, Huffington Post, Buddy Media, and Betaworks. Read more on VentureBeat.

Visier gets $15M to bring your boss a hot, steaming cup of analytics

Workforce analytics company Visier has just raised a $15 million round of funding. Visier makes software for the oversight and management of “human capital” for “people that have a need to know.” The app crunches HR data for enterprise workers into a consumer-friendly interface designed to make measuring, reporting on, and improving the activities of a given workplace easier, faster, and more accurate. This cash infusion is the startup’s second institutional round; it was led by growth equity investor Summit Partners, with participation from repeat investor Foundation Capital. Read more on VentureBeat.

Google pumps $12M into African solar energy project

In its bajillionth green energy investment, Google has targeted the Jasper Power Project, a South African solar plant. The investment totals $12 million and marks the search company’s first investment in Africa. This sum is part of a larger $260 million round including investors such as SolarReserve, a U.S. solar power developer; Intikon Energy, a South African renewable energy developer; and the Kensani Group, a South African empowerment investment firm. Read more on VentureBeat.

Beautylish dabs on $6.5M to grow community that really (really) loves cosmetics

Beautylish is using mascara wands and lipstick tubes to attract the attention of investors. According to an SEC filing, the online beauty company has closed $6.5 million of a $8.64 million round. Beautylish is an online community of beauty enthusiasts. Members of the community post reviews and articles, share video tutorials and photos, and pose questions to others to generate dialogue about beauty products and brands. There is also an e-commerce component where brands can sell their wares to members in a virtual boutique. This first round was led by CMEA Ventures. Ron Conway, Steve Chen, and Jeremy Stoppelman are previous investors. Read more on VentureBeat.

Captricity raises $4.5M to turn handwritten documents into structured data 

Captricity has disclosed a $4.5 million round of funding led by Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social+Capital Partnership. Captricity quickly and easily turns paper information into structured, digital data using data capture technology. The system is self-serve and geared towards organizations that are low on resources and need a better solution to manage their paperwork. This is Captricity’s first round of institutional funding. It previously raised money from The Knight Foundation Enterprise Fund for media innovations, Atlas Ventures, Founders Fund, Greylock Partners, and Kapor Capital. Read more on VentureBeat. 

Qriously raises $3.5M for hyper-accurate ‘askvertising’

Polling platform Qriously has just grabbed itself a nice $3.5 million sack o’ change from Spark Capital and Accel Partners for its own special brand of mobile ads called ‘asQvertising.’ AsQvertising can be used for research or for marketing. For research purposes, users get to see the results of the mini-poll, and researchers get location data on poll results. For marketing, users get sorted into virtual bins: Serve the ad and Don’t serve the ad. And of course, Qriously gives marketers analytics on the poll results. Today’s announced funding is Qriously’s first institutional round. The startup was founded in 2010 and has headquarters in New York and London with outposts in Atlanta and Vienna. Read more on VentureBeat.

Dering Hall raises $1.4M to showcase the best of home design

Interior design startup Dering Hall has closed $1.4 million in financing to grow its platform, which includes products, design portfolios, a designer director, and other content for design inspiration and ideas. The marketplace brings to designers together with architects, artisans, and and design galleries to showcase and sell their work to consumers. Lerer Ventures, Softbank Capital, and Hearst Corporation participating in this seed round.

Weotta raises money to help you have more fun

Weotta has closed a new round of funding, according to a report in TechCrunch. Weotta is an activity-planning app that offers up potential locations and activities for users to save or remove. The app learns your preferences and presents you with recommended activities. You can slo filter recommendations and book through the app. This round of funding was led by Google Ventures with participations from Slow Ventures and TenOneTen Capital. Weotta also released a new version of its iPhone app today the makes it more social.

Photo Credit: calsidyrose/Flickr

Filed under: Business, Deals, Entrepreneur