Wacom announces Intuos5 tablets with multitouch, soft-touch finish, and heads-up display software


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Intuos5

Wacom has announced four new Intuos5 tablets, refreshing the Intuos line with multitouch gesture support, “Express View” heads-up display software, and a soft-touch matte finish — and they’re available starting today. Wacom says that the Intuous line now supports standard Mac and Windows multitouch gestures simultaneously with pen use, and that users can create custom gestures in various applications. It’s also announcing its new Express View heads-up display feature that shows current settings for the tablet on the computer screen.

According to Engadget, three of the tablets support pen and multitouch input, and come in small (4 x 6 inches for £200), medium (6 x 8 for £330), and large (13 x 8 for £430). Wacom is also offering a…

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How Larry Smarr’s data obsession changed his health


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larry smarr

There are all types of data-driven people out there. But for Larry Smarr, gathering as much data about his body, figuring out what it means, and applying it to improve his health has become an obsession. Smarr spent 25 years as an astrophysicist and now directs the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, so he knows a little bit about data-driven analysis. Aside from gathering data using gadgets such as a FitBit, Smarr routinely has his blood and stool analyzed for certain biochemicals. It may seem excessive, but Smarr’s “quantified health” fixation led him to drop over 20 pounds and, more importantly, helped his doctors make a startling discovery.

The MIT Technology Review interviewed Smarr; read his…

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SmugMug launches ‘Camera Awesome’ app for iPhone (hands-on)


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SmugMug Camera Awesome stock 1020

Having established a strong reputation for its photo hosting services, SmugMug today enters a new segment: iPhone photography. Its freshly-released Camera Awesome app is now available in the App Store, and you’d do well not to judge the software based solely on that somewhat unfortunate name. Our hands-on time with the app reveals that SmugMug has delivered an incredibly strong first effort: one that will unquestionably appeal to an exploding Instagram and Hipstamatic crowd, while also offering first-rate tools for those who take shooting with Apple’s handset seriously.

At first glance, Camera Awesome bears a fairly close resemblance to its iOS counterparts in terms of look and feel. The shooting modes on tap (burst, timed, interval,…

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Cisco’s servers now tuned for Hadoop


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Cisco’s UCS server.

Server makers of all stripes have been trying to capitalize on the big data buzz by pushing Hadoop-optimized systems, and now we can count Cisco among them thanks to its latest partnership with EMC. The companies have come up with a reference architecture featuring Cisco UCS server gear that’s designed to run the EMC Greenplum MR software, the company’s “enterprise-class” Hadoop distribution that features technology it OEMs from Hadoop startup MapR.

The reason behind this arrangement — as well as behind similar deals EMC competitor Cloudera has with Dell and SGI, and Oracle’s aptly named Big Data Appliance — is to try to turn a profit on software that was designed to run on commodity hardware that can scale out cheaply and be replaced easily when it dies. However, server vendors are wisely banking on a few key considerations, mostly stemming from the fact that large mainstream enterprises don’t have the systems engineering resources of early Hadoop adopters such as Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

As I explained recently in GigaOM Pro, big data appliances and reference architectures could be a lucrative business (sub req’d) because many companies don’t want to go through the hassle of learning the ins and outs of Hadoop cluster management. It can be pretty tricky to design a system optimized for Hadoop, where users aren’t sacrificing performance at some level or wasting energy running more servers than they actually need just to accommodate growing storage volumes. Having someone deliver a system including all the right gear and management software, and then actually deploy it and provide professional services can be pretty appealing.

In the case of the Cisco-EMC architecture, the we’re talking about single-rack or multi-rack fabrics packed Intel processors, memory and storage, with the units connected via 10 GbE. Cisco has been able to move a relatively high number of its UCS servers thus far without the Hadoop connection, so it has to be confident that enterprise interest in pinning their big data strategies on Hadoop will only help Cisco sell more, especially as the company tries to rebound after a recent restructuring.

Actually, the Cisco partnership wasn’t EMC’s only nod to Hadoop’s need for high performance on Thursday. The company also released version 4.2 of the Greenplum Database, which includes a new feature called gNet. According to the press release announcing the updated software, it “enables high-performance parallel import and export of all data (compressed and uncompressed) from Hadoop using gNet for Hadoop, a parallel communications transport. This achievement represents the industry’s first direct query interoperability between Greenplum Database and Hadoop.”

Not that it hasn’t been driving the bus of big data hype for a couple years, but Hadoop has been particularly hot lately as more large vendors pin their big data hopes on the open source platform. This week alone, Microsoft  and VMware  enhanced their Hadoop efforts with new products aimed at making it more accessible by mainstream developers and business users. We’ll be talking a lot more about Hadoop and how it will evolve at our Structure: Data conference March 21-22 in New York.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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Flipboard’s Latest Brings Cover Stories To The iPad, Plus A New French Edition


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flipboard-ipad-cover

Flipboard is rolling out the first major update to its social magazine tonight since its December launch on the iPhone. The new release brings the iPhone app’s most popular feature, “Cover Stories,” to the iPad’s bigger screen. Now, iPad users will see a large, double-tiled pane on the first page of their Flipboard app. There, you’ll find a mix of stories popular among your friends, those that are popular across Flipboard’s network, as well as those that are uniquely relevant to you.

Also new in tonight’s release are a number of design tweaks, meant to give Flipboard a print magazine-like appeal, as well as a much-requested third page in Flipboard’s Table of Contents. And for international users, there’s even more big news: Flipboard just launched its first standalone European edition with the arrival of Flipboard in France, and is promising more localized editions to come.

The company already has a localized version in the Chinese iTunes App Store, however, so this isn’t Flipboard’s first effort at targeting the international market with specialized content. But it is the start of a planned rollout that will bring localized editions to other regional markets. The company tells us that it expects to launch versions of its magazine app in other countries, including the U.K., Japan, Korea, as well as in other European and Asian countries where readership is high.

The regional versions are written entirely in that country’s language and include editorial selections and social networking options popular in that given locale. For example, the Chinese edition supports that country’s social networks, Renren and Sina Weibo.

All the regional editions will include the same features that are being launched today in Flipboard’s flagship product. The most notable change here, of course, is the arrival of Cover Stories on the iPad. As a regular Flipboard mobile user, I know from personal experience how useful this feature is, and have missed it myself when reading on the iPad. It’s Flipboard’s one-stop shop for catching up with the day’s news.

Cover Stories, for those unfamiliar, are those stories selected using technology Flipboard acquired from Ellerdale, an early semantic web startup. It’s how Flipboard knows which stories you – and you alone – would want to see. The system doesn’t just focus on general popularity (likes, retweets, etc.) but on relevance. That means, for example, if you always interact with a particular person on Facebook, even if they post infrequently and receive few likes or comments, that’s still a post you would want to see. Every single time.

This is just one of a handful of improvements found in Flipboard’s update tonight, but it’s by far the most critical. Personalization is key to startups like this (and there are plenty!), as it’s the noise-reducing functionality that helps you actually enjoy reading the news, without being consumed by it.

Also new today are improvements to layouts on interior pages, which involve more full-bleed layout designs, and text that overlays the graphics in the right places. These are features that are easy to do in print, but harder when done algorithmically.

In addition, users will have a new, third page for subscriptions, a new set up process on iPad that now mirrors the iPhone, adjustable font selections, access to international content from the Settings menu, and improved handling of Google Reader subscriptions. (For the 10 of us still using Google Reader, that means folders as tiles! Hooray!)

The Flipboard app updates and the French edition are rolling out starting now (midnight Eastern). Check your local iTunes App Store for the download.


AngelList Takes A Shot At Standardizing The Startup Pitch Deck


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Screen shot 2012-02-29 at 7.01.12 PM

If you’re a new entrepreneur or an angel investor and you haven’t heard of AngelList, it’s time to get a clue. The hybrid social network, communication and crowdsourcing tool is designed to connect first-time entrepreneurs with angel investors. It’s “easily the most important innovation in the industry,” as 500 Startups’ Dave McClure commented in response to our coverage last month of AngelList’s 2011 Yearbook. That product offers users, among other things, a highlight reel of all the activity that went down in the community (500 startups and 2,500 investors joined, resulting in a total of 12,500 introductions), fundings, and more.

Now, we’ve learned that AngelList is in the process of experimenting with more than just timelines plus CrunchBase data. AngelList Venture Hacker (and former Head of Product at Friend.ly and WePay) Khang Tran says that the company’s goal is simple: Help great startups connect with great investors, and, in doing so, it’s experimenting with how startups present themselves to investors with a new “pitch deck page.”

Co-founder Babak Nivi tells us that the deck remains experimental and that the team may decide not to launch it officially, or may simply incorporate components of it into startup profiles. But, as StartupStats pointed out, while the team is not explicitly saying it, the potential here is to offer its community a standardized format for the oft-used pitch deck, which startups use to introduce their business to investors.

As Polaris Ventures Principal Partner Ryan Spoon wrote earlier this month, the pitch deck is never more important than the actual product/business itself, but finding the best, most succinct way to describe or present your startup is essential to piquing the curiosity of investors and getting them to want to learn more.

Most investors (and journalists) receive hundreds of pitches every month, so finding (as he says) crisp yet complete ways to express your startup’s vision, impact, traction, and so on can be the difference between going on to success or finding yourself in irrelevance. Seeing as AngelList has become an extremely valuable resource for founders to be introduced to investors, it’s no wonder that they are experimenting with optimizing the design, layout, and media by which startups make themselves known.

As you can see from this example here , or the one below, the new pitch deck includes the startup’s name, location, logo, domain, as well as a carousel that features video and images of the product. Below that, you’ll find the team, where they’ve worked, their areas of expertise, investors, quotes from investors, and the ability to follow or share their profile.

Khang Tran has been the man in charge of the project, and he says that the team drew its inspiration from the original deck of Tailored (a.k.a. DressRush). As most entrepreneurs are well aware, creating a pitch deck is pretty much the best way to get a meeting with an investor. But it’s also annoying, time-consuming, and it’s difficult as all hell to design a beautiful, succinct presentation that gets investors clamoring for more. Most people struggle when talking about themselves, let alone something as close to their heart as their business.

AngelList’s new approach could be a great way to reduce the friction, standardizing the way in which startups format their pitch decks, but the key for AngelList is making sure that they continue offering startups the same (and increased) opportunities for engagement, across the whole slew of profiles on the site, while still bringing them quality investors. That’s a pretty tough line to walk, but if AngelList can make profiles less of an eyesore overall, this could be a boon for startups, as investors will spend more time on the site, click on more profiles, hopefully resulting in more introductions.

Personally, I think the pitch decks look great, and streamlining and optimizing the design of the site seems to naturally lead to more engagement. Of course, standardization is double-edged, as it gives those great companies who might not shine in a pitch more equal footing, though it could dilute and make it harder for the great companies to stand out, considering they all come in the same package. But even if it leads to more meetings, is that ever a bad thing? More meetings yes, but more opportunities for startups to shine outside of the page.

While Twitter seems to like it, chime in and let us hear your reaction. Yay or nay?


‘Gunna’ to ‘gunman’ autocorrect mishap leads to lockdown at two Georgia schools


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Autocorrect fail

Text message autocorrect may not often lead to more than mildly comical mishaps, but today one instance of an unintended correction spread fears about a possible gunman and led to the lockdown of two Georgia schools, Gainesville Times reports. Police say that the text message, which was sent to the wrong phone number, was supposed to say “gunna be at west hall today” but was instead changed to “gunman be at west hall today.” The recipient then passed on the message to the police, who coordinated a lockdown at West Hall middle and high schools. The lockdown was later cancelled after authorities traced the message to a student and discovered that there was no actual threat. We’re not sure which platform performed the correction, but mobile…

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Flying robot swarm plays James Bond theme on real instruments (video)


This post is by Jeff Blagdon from The Verge - All Posts


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swarm

We’ve seen some pretty impressive tricks from the University of Pennsylvania’s swarm of quadrocopter drones, but nothing prepared us for this. In its time off from navigating obstacle courses, formation flying, building structures, and literally flying through hoops, the swarm managed to pick up some impressive musical chops, bringing us this flawless rendition of the James Bond theme. The tiny robots all play actual musical instruments, too — either by landing on organ keys, dragging a stick across a harp, or beating a drum with a mechanical arm.

The trick is actually accomplished by filling the “stage” with infrared lights and cameras that capture the locations of the individual drones. The team then sets a series of 3D waypoints —…

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Study: U.S. Consumers Spending On Virtual Goods Grew To $2.3 Billion In 2011


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virtual-currency

It’s not exactly a secret that gaming has found new life on the web, social and mobile platforms. Of course, with it, especially the rise in free-to-play gaming, developers need to find ways to monetize their apps, or their browser-based games. Beyond mobile or banner advertising, there is the option of in-app or in-game purchases — the old in-game freemium model. Give your game away for free, sell new levels, armor, weapons, life for a buck or two. Lots of games have incorporated virtual marketplaces to hawk virtual goods of all kinds.

And good news for game developers: Virtual goods are hot and getting hotter. PlaySpan, the Visa-owned Monetization-as-a-service provider released a study today that reveals, among other things, that consumer spending on virtual goods has doubled since 2009. (Virtual goods, by the way, being a combination of both virtual currency and virtual items.) Not only that, but $2.3 billion worth of virtual goods were purchased in 2011 in the U.S., up nearly 30 percent from 2009. That means, on average, gamers spent $64 on virtual goods in 2011, roughly equivalent to the price of a console game.

Again, it’s all up-trending, as 35 percent of U.S. gamers have purchased a virtual good, a 50 percent increase from 2010. Of course, unsurprisingly, the gender breakdown shows that men are twice as likely as women to purchase virtual goods. To break that down further, nearly 50 percent of males under the age of 24 said they bought a virtual good in 2011, whereas only 15 percent of females in the same age group had done so.

Karl Mehta, founder of PlaySpan, said that he thinks we’re getting to a point where consumers are truly becoming comfortable with buying virtual goods on the web and on mobile devices. For example, the study found that, of those in the U.S. who had not purchased virtual goods, 70 percent expressed a willingness to do so. This comfort and openness to virtual transactions represents not only a huge opportunity for gaming, he said, but for the majority of digital content companies — those trafficking in music, movies, social gifting, rewards, etc.

This demographic data could be a big boost to producers and distributors of all digital content, allowing them to hone their strategies for reaching the right audience — across platforms. For instance, when it comes to why users purchase a certain game, 64 percent said that their choice was based on the price of the game, 51 percent was based on genre, while 48 percent said that their friends’ recommendations were a factor in their choice. This latter bit, in particular, is a huge validation for social gaming companies, or studios considering whether to integrate with the social graph, or enable users to friendsource recommendations, or share what they’re playing (or their achievements) with friends.

Again, when it comes to purchasing virtual goods, PlayData’s report shows that it’s important for game developers to find the right structure for incentivizing virtual good purchases. Hiding too much of the game under the promise of unlocking if they pull out their credit card is counterproductive, but creating some really terrific premium features that can be bought for a certain price is key — if they are integral to gameplay, and really improve the experience of the game, users will pay.

To that point, the study found that the top reason for gamers purchasing virtual goods, according to 55 percent of the population, is “to be able to do more in a game,” followed closely by the second reason: “To get a better experience playing the game.” Next was to advance a level or state, and developing one’s avatar or identity within the gameworld.

Lastly, when it comes to what platforms or media are fueling virtual goods purchasing, the leading source in 2011 was connected consoles, like Xbox Live or the PlayStation Store, for example. In all, 48 percent of gamers purchased their virtual goods on connected consoles, but that behavior is clearly changing, as users who purchased goods directly from within the game rose to 42 percent, followed by prepaid game cards and online virtual stores, at 40 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

In all, consumer habits really seem to be changing, as twice as many gamers are buying virtual goods today compared to two years ago. With the right strategy for in-game or in-app purchases, developers certainly have an increasing opportunity to monetize their free games, which, in the end, hopefully means a greater selection (and hopefully quality) of games for the end user.

Below, PlaySpan has given us permission to include the entire study, so check it out:


Daily Wrap: What Matters at Mobile World Congress and more


This post is by Robyn Tippins from ReadWriteWeb


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dailywrap-150x150.pngDan Frommer tells you the only five things that matter at Mobile World Congress. This and more in today’s Daily Wrap.

Sometimes it’s difficult to catch everything that hits tech media in a day, so we wrap up some of the most talked about stories. We give you a daily recap of what you missed in the ReadWriteWeb Community, including a link to some of the most popular discussions in our offsite communities on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as well.

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The Only 5 Things That Matter at Mobile World Congress

Beyond the distractions of tons of people, hundreds of booths and great panels, Dan Frommer reminds us that there are five things that we can’t miss at this year’s Mobile World Congress. One of those is that the show itself is amazing, but beyond that, there are some significant lessons to learn about Google, Apple, Samsung and telecoms. Read “The Only 5 Things That Matter at Mobile World Congress” to stay up to date on this year’s upcoming mobile trends.

From our readers:

rawryree – That’s the sad part. Until WebOS and Tizen get their act together, even the open source realm is pretty much monopolized by Android, allowing mediocrity to reign. The only reason Android is flourishing right now is that it’s the only alternative to Apple.

(Yeah, there’s Windows Phone 7, but it’s not going Open Source any time soon so they’re relegated to the third-party status like BlackBerry OS.)

More Must Read Stories:

Company Reactions to Facebook Timeline for Brands

Company Reactions to Facebook Timeline for Brands

This morning Facebook launched Timeline For Brands, which will give brand pages the same look, feel and functionality as the personal page Timelines the social network has been rolling out since September. (more)

FBI Searches Social Media for Insider Trading

FBI Searches Social Media for Insider Trading

The FBI launched Perfect Hedge Investigations, an effort to root out insider trading that includes monitoring of social networks.

The emphasis on social media and online communications platforms like Skype accents how complex law enforcement is becoming in the connected era: a simple phone tap or document subpoena is no longer enough to catch Gordon Gecko-like figures in an age where people have dozens of options for sending information to associates. (more)

WordPress For Musicians: CASH Music Wants to Open Source the Industry

WordPress For Musicians: CASH Music Wants to Open Source the Industry

We hear a lot about how dramatically the music industry is changing. And indeed, there are plenty of positive trends amidst the disruption. Music creation is easier than ever. So is music discovery. Streaming services offer a new model for the consumption of music on any device, in any location. Whether from within a startup or at Music Hack Day, developers are building new things everyday that will help shape the future of music. (more)

Marketing Your App: Find Market Weaknesses and Exploit Them

Marketing Your App: Find Market Weaknesses and Exploit Them

There are more smartphones in the hands of consumers than ever. The natural consequence of smartphone penetration is that more users are downloading more apps. It comes down to simple economic theory: as volume increases the cost of acquiring loyal users goes down. (more)

Art of Entrepreneurship: Who to Listen to and Why

Art of Entrepreneurship: Who to Listen to and Why

The art of entrepreneurship and the science of customer development is not just getting out of the building and listening to prospective customers. It’s understanding who to listen to and why. (more)

How to Enhance Your Community Using Twitter, a New O'Reilly Book

How to Enhance Your Community Using Twitter, a New O’Reilly Book

Are you seemingly stuck with trying to suss out what to do with Twitter? Don’t know how to get started? Does 140 characters seem daunting? Then you might want to take a look at a new O’Reilly book called Tweetsmart. (more)

Strata 2012: 3 Essential Skills of a Data Driven CEO

Strata 2012: 3 Essential Skills of a Data Driven CEO

At the Strata Jumpstart session on Tuesday, Diego Saenz of Data Driven CEO made the case for three skills that are must haves for CEOs to become “data driven.”

Much of Saenz’s talk focused on one specific data-driven CEO: Robert McDonald of Procter and Gamble (P&G). (more)

RSA 2012: Former McAfee CTO Demonstrates Remote Access Exploits on WebKit

RSA 2012: Former McAfee CTO Demonstrates Remote Access Exploits on WebKit

The company is called CrowdStrike (not “CloudStrike”), and most folks attending the NSA session featuring the company Wednesday morning had never heard of it. That wasn’t why they were there. The man behind CrowdStrike is George Kurtz, the former chief technology officer of McAfee, and the man widely credited with bringing that company into the realm of seriousness. (more)

Why Video Games Are Good for Your Kids

Why Video Games Are Good for Your Kids

In addition to understanding the many real concerns that today’s parents have with video games, it’s also worth considering the benefits and positive aspects that contemporary interactive entertainment choices provide. (more)

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Discuss


We need to recycle Anonymous’ talent into the companies they attack


This post is by Meghan Kelly from VentureBeat


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hiring hacktivists

Rehabilitating criminals is not a new concept, but their skills aren’t always as specific as those of a cyber criminal. With hacktivist arrests on the rise, perhaps it’s time for companies to realize the potential gain in employing the very people they’re fighting against.

“There is no rehabilitation structure for hackers,” said author Mischa Glenny at the RSA Conference today in San Francisco. “If your only skill is using a computer, and you’re not able to do that, I think that’s likely to put you back into the underground.”

A rehabilitated cyber criminal, such as the many Anonymous members being cuffed by law enforcement now, could provide valuable insight, as well as real hacking skills.

Kevin Mitnick is a good example example. Mitnick spent the 90′s in and out of jail, hacking into well-known companies such as Sun Microsystems and Nokia. He also stole a lot of precious source code, which he considered trophies. After being caught for the last time and spending years in jail, he reemerged to create Mitnick Security Consulting. The company performs penetration tests to find vulnerabilities exploitable from the outside as well as test how weak security is at physical buildings and how easy it is to gain access to systems.

However, not everyone comes with such a resume. Like any organization, Anonymous is filled with people of varying levels of skill. There are very talented hackers who have spent time in the industry and can be considered “professionals.” And then there are the impressionable younger people, the minors, who have enough technical savvy to launch a low orbit ion cannon. Their skills in technology are transferable, and Glenny believes it’s time to grab hold of it.

“Most of [Anonymous members] are minors,” said special agent Eric Strom of the FBI at RSA. “How do prosecute someone like that?”

According to Strom, when the FBI does minors involved in cyber crime, they don’t storm in immediately with handcuffs. Instead, they knock on the perpetrator’s door and do the worst. They talk to their parents. He explained it as a “wake up call,” that the child isn’t actually up there doing homework. That they “need to be better parents.”

“I think a lot of people think these are just a bunch of kids fooling around, but they can really hurt a company,” said Strom. However, “A minor child will just get slapped on the wrist.”

Grady Summers, the vice president of security company Mandiant, isn’t yet convinced. Taking in rehabilitated cyber criminals might come off as community service — a responsibility not all companies want.

Glenny says the result is that a lot of knowledge is going to waste.

“We have a lot of skills out there with young people who are persuaded to go … to the dark side,” said Glenny, “But there’s a large grey area here. I think there ought to be a mechanism for bringing them in, to see if any of those skills can be used in a positive way.”

Filed under: security


Delicious Founder Creates New People Search Engine, Skills.to


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tastylabslogo.jpgJoshua Schachter and his team of star developers at TastyLabs have begun work on a second project, an endorsement and people search engine called Skills.to. The site lets you endorse people for their skills in various fields, see what the people you know have been endorsed for and search for people with particular skills.

The site is just beginning. “We have a lot to do, lots of ideas here and lots of places we can go next,” Schachter told me by Twitter DM today. What’s the core idea behind the site? “Search engine for people by property of the person,” he says. “Portable reputation someday.” There’s certainly something refreshingly Delicious-like about it, the way you can navigate around the site by clicking any link and navigating by a few simple properties.

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Things like this have been tried before, from WeFollow to Endor.se to other related efforts (disclosure: I may just be building something related myself).

SkillsScreen.jpg

The TastyLabs team, which is full of rock-stars beyond just Schachter, first built a social-help site called Jig last Summer. That site works well and is fun to use, but it’s not clear how much traction it’s seen yet. That service launched an iPhone app earlier this month, a welcome move since Jig is particularly conducive to mobile use.

Schachter is best-known for building archetypal social bookmarking site Delicious, which he sold to Yahoo who didn’t know how to love it. The site has since been sold again to a team led by the founders of YouTube, who may be even worse still at loving it. Delicious offered something simple on the surface – the ability to save links you wanted to read later – but surfaced far more interesting information when analyzed in aggregate.

That potential was never really realized but it’s the same kind of thinking behind Jig, and I presume behind Skills.to. These are services that offer a clear and simple value proposition to the end user, but that can offer even more derivative value once patterns of use are analyzed and used as a platform to reform the user experience.

Lots of people have tried to create a discovery-through-endorsement website, but I’d be willing to bet that the TastyLabs team is going to bring some extra special insight and creativity to this seemingly simple space.

The portable identity angle that Schachter mentions could be the first example of that dynamic: imagine taking your Skills.to endorsements with you to sites around the web. That could prove useful in all kinds of circumstances – from establishing credibility to targeting content to powering recommended social and content connections.

Disclosure #2: Upon announcing internally that I was going to write about this, RWW Community Manager Robyn Tippins also disclosed that she has done some marketing consulting for TastyLabs. Lucky them, their team of smart people goes on and on.

Discuss


Researchers Propose “Computational Sprinting” To Speed Up Chips By 1000% – But Only For A Second


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computational-sprintingLogo-lead-2012-02-28

A research team with members from University of Michigan and University of Pennsylvania has been investigating the feasibility of what they call “computational sprinting,” a technique by which existing chips could be made to operate at hugely increased speeds for short periods of time. They have concluded that “it is indeed possible to engineer such a system.”

Not the best of news to readers who were hoping for these sprinting chips to hit the market next year, but the news shouldn’t be set aside just because at the moment the implementation is theoretical. It could change the way you use your devices.

The processing and storage in our phones, usually in system on a chip form, have been gaining speed for the last few years, but there are a few physical restrictions that prevent them from working at full capacity. First there is the fact that fast chips require a lot of power, and battery technology isn’t up to the task.

Then there is the heat generated by these chips — our laptops and desktops have lots of space for air to move, by comparison, and fans to usher hot air out and cool air in. Phones don’t have those luxuries, so the amount of work they can do at any given time is limited. The transistors on the chips can’t be active for long or they’ll cause too much heat and melt themselves or surrounding components.

But the kinds of things that require a large exertion from the processor are rarely sustained for long: converting the information from a camera sensor to a JPEG, or unpacking a compressed file. The researchers asked themselves whether they could design a chip that could spin up to a much higher speed, but only for a limited time, as the heat generated would be, for the system, immense. The transistors involved would have to “rest” afterward.

Their research suggests that a chip could be designed with (in their implementation) 15 additional cores sitting dormant, but available to be activated instantly for a full second, pushing the device to ten times its “resting” speed. The heat generated would be handled by non-traditional means, like a phase-change heatsink.

The implications of being able to put a processor into overdrive for just a second are huge. Loading assets into RAM, reading and decompressing files, tasks which often slow the launch or operation of an app, could be blasted through and the phone returned to a normal state once the heavy lifting was done.

Whether the researchers’ model or another will be used, the concept of a sprinting CPU seems sound. Others are implementing ideas that seem parallel (so to speak) to this one: multiple cores, specialty on-call silicon, and ARM’s big-little chips.

The paper was presented yesterday at an event in New Orleans; the researchers are Arun Raghavan and Milo Martin at Penn, with Marios Papaefthymiou, Kevin Pipe, Yixin Luo, and Anuj Chandawalla, from Michigan.


How to Remove Your Google Web History Before The New Privacy Policy Change [Google]


This post is by from Lifehacker


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Starting tomorrow, March 1, Google is unifying its privacy policies to share the data it collects about users between all of its products. That means your web searches and sites you visit will be combined with other Google products like Google+ and YouTube. If you’d rather avoid that, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reminds us you can remove your Google search history and stop it from being recorded. More »







Amazon’s Kindle Lending Library balloons to 100k books


This post is by Jennifer Van Grove from VentureBeat


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Get cozy. Amazon has expanded the shelves of its digital library to include enough books to let you borrow for a lifetime.

The Kindle Owner’s Lending Library now sports more than 100,000 titles, including one third of the top 20 Kindle best-sellers, all free for the borrowing, Amazon announced Wednesday.

Launched late last year, the Lending Library is a delightful little Kindle perk for Amazon Prime customers who pay a $79 annual fee for two-day shipping and unlimited video streaming — and now free book-borrowing. Prime customers can borrow one book a month to read on their Kindles, and there are no due dates.

The library’s selection has already grown 20 fold in its short lifespan, with readers showing a collective appreciation for self-published titles. Readers checked out more than 1 million books from independent authors, Amazon said. Altogether, the independent authors participating in the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select service have earned more than $1.8 million in royalty fees from the Lending Library books borrowed by Kindle owners.

Not all authors and publishers are keen on the expanding library, however. Right after launch, The Authors Guild, which represents more than 8,000 U.S. writers, said the Lending Library constituted a breach of contract.

Filed under: media, VentureBeat


Troubled U.K. retailer Game will not be stocking Mass Effect 3


This post is by Dan Crawley from VentureBeat


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Fresh concerns about the future of European game retailer Game Group have risen today, as it was revealed that the company will not be stocking the highly anticipated role-playing-game Mass Effect 3. A company spokesperson blamed this on a “supply issue”, while a leaked memo to store staff suggested Game could not agree to credit terms with publisher Electronic Arts.

The beleaguered U.K.-based retailer has already seen its shares lose 90 percent of their value over the past year. Today’s news that it will not be stocking Mass Effect 3, or any of EA’s other March releases — including FIFA Street, Tiger Woods 13, and Sims 3 Showtime — saw its share value drop a further 16 percent, to less than £0.05.

With Game set to post an £18m loss for the year to January 31, and lenders pressing for the company to sell its stores in continental Europe, credit issues have come to the fore. The retailer recently failed to stock Wii RPG The Last Story, Tekken 3DS, as well as Ubisoft’s entire PlayStation Vita launch line-up.

Game’s problems are partly due to a general lack of activity at brick-and-mortar stores, with strong competition for sales coming from online giants such as Play.com and Amazon. Its position has not been helped by the general decline in video game sales seen during 2011, alongside the increasing number of people downloading games directly from digital marketplaces.

In addition to the EA titles missing from Game’s shelves this March, there will be no copies of Mario Party 9. A Game spokesperson said, “We are in talks with Nintendo to resolve this, and we apologize to our customers for this disappointing news.”

Game has issued a statement on its website, explaining the problem with Mass Effect 3 to its customers. The statement says, “The high street is having a tough time at the moment because people have less money to spend. We’re doing as much as we can to give our customers the widest possible range during this time, but as flagged before, we need our partners’ help in order to do this. We want to be in a position where we’re selling as much of their products as we possibly can. We need their help to do this and that’s what we’re working on at the moment.”

EA’s Q3 financial statement, issued on February 1, spoke of concerns “with the financial condition of one of our major European retail partners, which could lead to both increased bad debt and lost sales.” The current situation at Game certainly reflects these concerns, and a leaked internal memo, obtained by Eurogamer, indicates that the failure of Game and EA to agree to credit terms is the cause of the situation.

The memo reads as follows:

“Last week we held an event for our partners in the industry and explained the challenges we are facing in the short term – and we asked for their support. We asked them to trade with us using manageable credit terms, and for them to continue to do that whilst we work through the strategic review and refinancing our business.

“We gave the industry commitments – we committed to integrity and openness in our dealings, and working with everyone equally.

“We committed to only stocking products on which we could get the right credit terms, regardless of the title or the supplier. We will not stock products if the terms are not right for our business – we will not sacrifice long-term credit requirements for short-term sales opportunities.

“As a result of us taking this position – a position that we believe is critical to our long-term health as a business – we have taken the very difficult decision not to stock EA’s March releases, including Mass Effect 3.

“As a specialist retailer dedicated to games and gaming, it is never easy to make a decision not to stock a title, particularly one with such a strong fan base, it is imperative that we treat every supplier evenly, that we stick to our commitments, and that we don’t sign up to payment terms that will hamper us further in the future.

A spokesman for EA told The Guardian newspaper, “Game’s challenges with several of its suppliers is regrettable, however given the incredibly high demand for Mass Effect 3 we want our consumers to know that the game is available at a wide variety of retailers across the UK and Europe.”

Piers Harding-Rolls, from research firm IHS Screen Digest, said: “It’s a big blow that they can’t stock these bigger titles.” He added that it was in EA’s interest to help resolve the problem: “Game is a vitally important partner in terms of their distribution network. They will both be working for a solution that works for both companies.”

With Mass Effect 3 set to be a sure-fire hit this month, Game will no doubt be counting the cost of lost revenue from its failure to stock the title. In the long term, it remains to be seen whether these financial troubles can be overcome, or whether they will eventually lead to the closure of Europe’s largest brick-and-mortar video games retailer.

VentureBeat has reached out to EA for further comment but has yet to hear back.

Filed under: games


RSA Security Giants on the State of Crypto: Can Whit Be Right and Ron Be Right?


This post is by Scott M. Fulton, III from ReadWriteWeb


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




120228 Whit Diffie & Ron Rivest.JPG

Two weeks ago, a security researcher set off an intentional firestorm over the discovery of data that seemed to indicate a flaw in the way cryptographic systems using “multiple secrets” (more than one key) protect a session. Since the report of that discovery was published, experts have claimed its author may have reached an unsubstantiated conclusion.

In any event, yesterday at the RSA Security conference in San Francisco, the man the report’s very title praised for being “right” all along – cryptographic pioneer Whitfield “Whit” Diffie – told attendees that if a problem actually does exist, its solution may be deceptively simple.

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The problem, as the report “Ron was wrong, Whit was right” indicated, was that a substantial percentage of generated RSA keys contained common factors, thus rendering them ineffective or untrustworthy. “That seemed very serious to me, and sort of a phenomenon unique to RSA,” Diffie told a packed keynote session. “And eventually I realized – and as I thought about it for a week, it’s come to seem just as charming, but as a practical matter, much less serious than it did to start with, but something that probably does need a bit of addressing.”

Diffie noted, with perhaps a hint of sarcasm, that the report’s authors – who included Swiss professor Arjen K. Lenstra – avoided sensationalism by refraining from alleging that RSA keys had been “cracked.” But he posited that what Lenstra’s data could actually be indicating is a flaw in as few as one bad random number generators. “It seems unlikely that two independent prime random number generators are going to be producing the same 500-bit primes.” He then expressed skepticism at the idea that one person’s key could be compromised by someone else, simply by virtue of that person holding a key generated by a common factor – when that fact is not automatically made evident to either party.

120228 Whit Diffie & Ron Rivest 03.JPG“But the fact is, if you manufacture your key material correctly – that is to say, you’re very careful about production testing of your own random numbers – this is simply not going to happen to you,” he said. “If you adopt a random number generator that has whatever this fault is, you might get this effect.”

To help improve the system, Diffie suggested it might be necessary to “out” the bad random number generators. “So my notion is, why don’t we just publish hash codes for all of the primes selected to go into keys? As a matter of fact, you might publish hash codes for all of the keys that you’ve selected for any purpose… and then anytime you generate one, if you see that it’s already in the database, you know two things immediately: One, you probably have the same random number generator they did. Two, it’s no good.”

120228 Whit Diffie & Ron Rivest 02.JPGAt that point, Diffie turned to the fellow that Prof. Lenstra called “wrong,” who was seated to his immediate left: Ron Rivest, the “R” in “RSA.” “I think if I get a chance to referee the paper, I’ll suggest a change of title,” Rivest said. “You are often right, and I am sometimes wrong.”

Switching back to serious mode, Rivest suggested that behind the firestorm in the report, there really wasn’t much substance. He noted a much earlier work in 1996 by Adam Young and Moti Yung on cryptovirology – the intentional creation of deceptively secret and malicious software, often for extortion. A maliciously bad random prime number generator could theoretically be written, Rivest said, so that the public key may be computed in such a way to reveal the corresponding secret key to an adversary. “I don’t think we’ve paid enough attention to that possibility,” he remarked, noting the much more serious prospect for damage.

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With E-Book Ban, Apple’s "Closed" Nature Goes Too Far


This post is by from ReadWriteWeb


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were-closed-150.jpgIt’s easy to take jabs at Apple for sometimes being too “closed.” From restrictions on mobile apps to the limited customizability of the iPad, it’s a reputation that the company has earned even as it sells millions upon millions of devices. Even the original Macintosh infamously discouraged tinkerers by requiring specialized tools to physically open it up.

While it may frustrate many hobbyists and hackers, this approach is simply a cost of being one of Apple’s millions of otherwise satisfied customers. It’s rare that the company crosses over the line between closed and alarming. But that’s exactly what just happened.

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The trouble started shortly after Seth Godin submitted his latest e-book to Apple’s iBookstore. The marketing pundit and super-prolific author penned a book titled “Stop Stealing Dreams” and sent the finished copy along to Apple for approval. Much to his shock, the book was rejected.

The reason? An email from Apple identified “too many links to Amazon store” as the prime offense. Yes, simply linking to one of Apple’s competitors is a bold and forbidden enough gesture to cause a book to get banned from its digital storefront.

As Godin himself outlines on PaidContent, this is pretty disturbing stuff. “What’s inside the book shouldn’t be of concern to a bookstore with a substantial choke on the marketplace,” Godin writes. “If it’s legal, they ought to let people read it if they choose to.”

On the iPhone, Apple has certain obligations to the carriers and its own market dominance, which sometimes lead the company to forbid certain features from finding their way onto the iOS platform. In many cases, this is understandable.

But this is different from free mobile WiFi tethering or other app features that directly compete with Apple or the carriers. These are books. You know, the things that have historically been banned and burned when the powers that be don’t appreciate their contents. Books contain ideas and information. You know, the stuff that’s supposed to be much more fluid and accessible thanks to technology.

Of course, the book-burning analogy has its limitations. Anybody who really wants to read Godin’s book can go get it from Amazon or in another format outside the iBookstore. But there’s something unsettling about a dominant player in a information-centric marketplace such as this refusing to offer a piece of content strictly for competitive reasons. How would we feel if Barnes and Noble refused to carry a book about the history or corporate philosophy of Borders or Amazon? Or if they wouldn’t order a book written by the CEO of a competitor, simply because doing so would inadvertently aid the enemy? Many people would rightly be freaked out by that.

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Microsoft Windows 8 Consumer Preview event videos now available online


This post is by Bryan Bishop from The Verge - All Posts


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Windows 8 Consumer Preview Event Steven Sinofsky

Microsoft covered a lot of ground this morning, giving us a look at the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the new OS running on ARM tablets, and the Windows Store. If you’ve read our live coverage and hands-on articles and still want more, you’re in luck: Redmond has posted videos of the event on its website for streaming or download. Head on over here to see it all for yourself.

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