PRO: A field guide to 3D printing

This post is by toddagrimm from GigaOM

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Over the past 24 months, the 3D printing industry has enjoyed a tsunami of media coverage and a tidal wave of social-media conversations. But stories of phenomenal growth and the idea that consumers will soon manufacture their own goods aren’t entirely accurate. To understand this fragmented industry and the opportunities presented, one must begin with a fundamental understanding of the language of 3D printing, which this piece explores and clarifies.

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UK Daily Deals Aggregator Coupobox Sells Up To DealCollector In Another Sign Of Consolidation

This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch

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Today comes news of a small but indicative acquisition in the area of daily deals: the UK-based deals aggregator Coupobox has been bought by rival site DealCollector for a song: the price was in the “lower six figures,” according to Stavros Prodromou, the founder and former CEO of the company.

The acquisition is a sign of how consolidation in the sector is hitting aggregators, too. Counting flash sales and private buying clubs with daily deals, there are an estimated 105 sites in the UK alone, with 1,400 across all of Europe, and there will likely be more companies bought or cast by the wayside going forward. ”From the consumer point of view we are currently too overloaded with daily deals,” says Prodromou.

Prodromou, who in the past was general manager for Groupon in the UK and is now CEO of an industry organisation called the Global Daily Deal Association, says that part of the reason he has sold up is so that he can spend more time on the GDDA, campaigning for better standards and practices among other sites. In fact, the acquisition is the opposite of an aqui-hire: none of Coupobox’s founders or small staff went along with the sale.

The deal will help DealCollector, which started in Germany as Tagesangebote, continue its expansion in the UK.

This is part of a wider strategy for Dealcollector, according to Prodromou. The company, he says, plans to make even further inroads across all of Europe and beyond, through the acquisition of local aggregators rather than grow organically.

“Our acquisition of Coupobox will bolster the company’s position in the daily deal sector and enhance our strategic partnerships; it’s an exciting prospect for DealCollector,” said Mathias Jacobs, CEO of DealCollector, in a statement. The company does not disclose its total number of subscribers, but it was one of the very first aggregators to emerge in the wake of Groupon’s growth and the many cloning sites that followed.

Coupobox was founded in 2010 by Prodromou with Tolga Oenal and Alex Petrov and was bootstrapped in funding. But despite its small user base — between 60,000 and 70,000 subscribers — it claims to be profitable.

Partly, that was because of its proportion of repeat users — between 15 and 20 percent, he says. It also had a very small number of employees — only four, and developed its software in-house with no outsourcing. And the company had a robust data analytics and advisory service and provided consulting to the selection of deals sites that it aggregated, which included Groupon, Gumtree, Time Out and others.

Extending beyond basic daily deals is probably the smart strategy for companies in this maturing area — it’s the same one being taken by Groupon, whose CEO Andrew Mason envisions the company as the “operating system for local commerce.”

Vint Cerf testifies to US House against possible UN internet regulations

This post is by Dieter Bohn from The Verge - All Posts

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Vinton Cerf

A debate that’s been ongoing for decaces is back in the news, as Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf testified before a US House committee about the future of the internet. Specifically, Cerf is concerned with possible regulations and powers that could be granted to the International Telecommunication Union, the ITU.The ITU is a UN-based organization that will be meeting later this year in Dubai to discuss the rules and regulations of the internet. More specifically, some UN member countries are hoping that the ITU could take over some of the roles and responsibilities currently handled by a “multi-stakeholder” group of entities like the non-profit ICANN, governments, and other corporations — many of which are US-centric.


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Fifteen Signs You’re a Fitbit Fanatic

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Two years ago (to the day, surprisingly), I highlighted four squared (16) ways to tell if you’ve become a Foursquare addict. In the ensuing two years, I’ve continued to enjoy my regular checkins from place to place, but I’ve got another obsession that also tracks my comings and goings – not in where I go, but what I do, with the Fitbit. Fitbit, as I described in March, has the potential to take your every day activity and match you up against friends, rewarding you with virtual badges and making you exercise more than you might otherwise.

I’m having a blast telling everyone I know who doesn’t already have a Fitbit tracker to go get one, and those who do, I’m recommending we connect so we can trade stats and urge each other on. I even picked up a Fitbit Aria scale to wirelessly track my daily weigh-ins and see if that number is trending the wrong way. With that in mind, I thought it was time to trot out fifteen ways you can check if you’re a Fitbit fanatic.

1. You take the long way everywhere – and find yourself scheduling meetings or lunches at a place far more convenient for those you’re meeting than yourself. You walk, of course.

I’ll take the stairs, thank you.

2. You look incredulously at people who take the elevator, even if you’re going to the top floor.

3. You’ve figured out what optimizes you for the most steps across a distance – walking, biking, skipping or jogging.

Time to fall asleep: 5 minutes! I can beat that!

4. You’d pretend to be asleep when your partner wants attention at night because you don’t want to mess up your “Time to sleep” statistics, and you think you can set a new record.

Yes, that would be me, pounding out 20,000+ steps on the last day I’d get credit.

5. You read that Foursquare was about to discontinue their 20k step Fitbit badge on June 1st, so you spent much of May 31st walking around in circles, just so you could get it.

6. If people ask to friend you on Fitbit, you ask them their daily average of steps, and only accept their friendship if you think you will beat them. (I’m looking at you, Matt Cutts)

7. You don’t talk about how far things are in the number of miles or kilometers, but instead in steps.

8. You consider getting one of those fancy walking treadmill desks.

9. You find yourself wanting to look at how many flights of stairs you’ve climbed in the middle of the flight, and you have to restrain yourself until you get to the top, just so you make sure it counts.

Good luck Matt! Hope you reach 10,000 by midnight!

10. You find yourself just a few steps away from your usual goal, consider if you can hit that number before the clock hits midnight, and then go do some laps in the kitchen.

11. While on a walk with a friend who also has the Fitbit, you look at each other’s starting step count, and ending step count, compare it to yours and wonder aloud as to whether Fitbit is accurate, if your units are calibrated correctly, or if it’s something to do with the other person’s height and stride. (My mom and I actually did this on Monday)

12. You memorize your daily weigh-ins and body fat percentages from each morning’s weigh-in, and can correctly anticipate both the next day to the tenth of a pound or percentage point.

13. You actively contemplate whether it makes sense to adjust your Fitbit goals to match your real world activity, or adjust your real world activity to match your Fitbit goals.

14. When you type F into your browser’s URL bar, it autocompletes Fitbit instead of Facebook.

15. Every time you take a step while not wearing the Fitbit, you’re annoyed.

Are you as silly about Fitbit as I am? I am loading up on people to connect with on that service. Find me at and we’ll compare steps.

PS Vita YouTube app coming at the end of June

This post is by Sam Byford from The Verge - All Posts

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PS Vita Facebook US stock 1020

Sony has announced that a YouTube app will come to the PS Vita next month. It’ll feature standard features like comments and favorites, and is set to be released by the end of June. It follows the recent release of Skype, Facebook, and other non-gaming apps for Sony’s latest handheld, and should be useful for anyone interested in watching mobile video on the device — in our review, we noted that the Vita’s browser doesn’t even support HTML5, let alone Flash. There aren’t many details or any screenshots yet, but chances are we’ll get to see the app shown off at E3 next week.

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Fact Checking: Has Mobile Traffic Really Surpassed Desktop in India?

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One of the most interesting statistics in Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends presentation was that in India, the world’s second largest Internet market, the Mobile Web surpassed the Desktop Web during May 2012. A closer analysis reveals that a) mobile only passed desktop during weekends; and b) India’s mobile stats are vastly different from any other country’s. The global average is only 10% mobile traffic, so has India’s mobile traffic been miscounted?

The extraordinary graph above, from Meeker’s slides and sourced from web traffic monitoring company Statcounter, shows that mobile Internet traffic in India was almost zero in 2009 and the Desktop Internet close to 100%. Just three short years later, mobile traffic edged past desktop traffic. Or at least it did during parts of May 2012.

It turns out you can check these statistics for yourself, on the Statcounter Global Stats website. This shows that although mobile traffic may have surpassed desktop traffic in India on some days during May, on average desktop traffic was still slightly ahead: 51.29% desktop vs. 48.71% mobile.

The daily traffic graph for India in May reveals that mobile Internet overtook desktop only during the weekends. As a Statcounter representative put it, “mobile browsing peaks at weekends, while desktop browsing is more popular during the working week.”

Incidentally, while it’s a bit harder to spot the trend in the following graph, U.S. daily data also shows upward bumps every weekend. So the mobile = weekend trend appears to be a global one.

Why Are India’s Stats So Different To Other Countries?

The main mystery is why India’s mobile traffic statistics are so different from other countries, since the global mobile traffic average is only 10%.

In Japan, which has traditionally been ahead of the curve in mobile, traffic from mobile devices only accounts for 6.4% of its total traffic. In China, it’s 4.18%. In the entire continent of Africa, where mobile phone technology is widely used, it’s 12.96% (the trend line there has actually dipped in 2012, from a high of 19.17% in January). Meanwhile in the United States, the home of the world’s most popular smartphone operating systems iOS and Android, mobile traffic is 9.13% (see graph below).

Faulty Stats?

There has been some suggestion from within India that these statistics aren’t representative.

The argument is that Statcounter’s data is over-represented by mobile Internet early adopters in India. On its Twitter account, Statcounter responded that it tracks over 900 million page views from Indian IPs per month. While it admits that this is only a sampling of total India traffic, Statcounter insists that it is “a large enough statistical sample [to] approximate the real population.”

What’s Behind The Mobile Growth in India?

While I think Statcounter’s data may be a little suspect, I do agree that 900 million is a significant enough sampling to show the trend. Which leads us to question what is behind that trend; and should we pay it much heed?

One answer is from another slide from Mary Meeker, which showed that 3G subscriptions in India grew by 841% over the past year. India now has 39 million 3G subscribers, up from 4 million a year ago. It should be noted that India still trails the U.S., which has 208 million 3G subscribers, by quite a margin. The difference is that India has a much lower market penetration for mobile than the U.S. (4% in India, 64% in the U.S.).

It’s also likely that mobile Internet is more cost efficient and convenient than desktop in many parts of India.

The bottom line is that India is still a very young market for mobile Internet. So readers in more mature mobile markets, like the U.S. and Japan, shouldn’t read too much into the India stats. One thing is for sure though, mobile traffic is increasing fast in most countries in the world. Of that statistic, there is no doubt.

Asus, Acer, and Toshiba to unveil Windows 8 tablets next week, says Bloomberg

This post is by Sam Byford from The Verge - All Posts

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asus windows android computex teaser

Bloomberg is reporting that several companies will use next week’s Computex show in Taipei to reveal their Windows 8 tablets. According to the site’s sources, we’ll see an Intel-based tablet from Acer and a Toshiba tablet using a Texas Instruments ARM processor, along with Intel and ARM Windows 8 products from Asus. The Asus ARM tablet will reportedly be using a Tegra chip from Nvidia and use the same detachable keyboard form factor seen in the company’s Transformer Android devices. Bloomberg also expects Qualcomm to demonstrate Windows 8 running on a Snapdragon processor.

Asus has been whirring the fans of speculation itself by releasing a couple of teaser videos ahead of Computex that hint at the company’s plans. The running theme…

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AdMob Founder’s Churn Labs To Shut Down, Team Lured Away By Their New Startups

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churn labs logo

The end is in sight for Churn Labs, the startup generator created by AdMob founder Omar Hamoui and AdMob’s first engineer Mike Rowehl. Two new companies will be spinning out in mid-July, Hamoui tells me, and they’ll be taking the Churn team with them.

This doesn’t mean Churn Labs has failed, he says. In a way, Hamoui argues that it has succeeded. After all, the plan was never to create another Y Combinator, but instead to bring entrepreneurs together (the organization has offices in Irvine and San Mateo), have them churn through ideas, and then eventually spin those ideas out into startups that took the entrepreneurs with them.

“We actually wanted to start companies,” Hamoui says. “We did, and now there’s nobody left.”

His description is pretty consistent with the way he described Churn when it launched in March 2011. At the time, Hamoui suggested that he and Rowehl would be the only people who remained indefinitely — everyone else would be joining new companies.

But it looks like the startup life (or at least the specific startups that were created at Churn) was too tempting. Rowehl decided to join the first spinoff, Metaresolver. And now Hamoui has been lured away by one of the startups that’s planning to launch this summer. (He says it’s too early to reveal any details about either of them.)

Churn Labs was funded by Sequoia Capital and Hamoui himself. He says there’s still a little investment money left, and they’re still deciding what to do with it.

Facebook Finally Cracks Down On Auto-Sharing Spam With “10-Second Rule”

This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch

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If you hate accidental auto-sharing, you’re in luck. Now you have to be watching or reading something for at least 10 seconds before Facebook apps can auto-share the activity to your Timeline. That should drastically reduce the amount of crappy click-bait articles and video clips you see in the news feed and ticker. Video apps must also now inform you that they auto-share and provide an option to opt out on the page where a video is watched.

It also recently added more requirements to its comprehensive checklist auto-sharing apps must follow. The debate rages on about whether “frictionless sharing” is the future of discovery or the death of curation, but at least Facebook is taking decisive steps to keep the worst content from spreading friend to friend.

Facebook launched its Frictionless sharing apps eight months ago, where users authorize an app once and it can then publish on their behalf when they take certain actions. But rather than firm requirements for privacy controls it has merely encouraged best practices that developers “should” follow.

Unfortunately many developers only care about maximizing referral traffic and user counts, not the health of the Facebook experience. Back then I said Facebook might need to come up with a solution on its end rather than relying on the good hearts of developers. Now its is finally getting tough on spam, making the 10-second rule a firm requirement for news and video apps.

Here’s the exact text, with my emphasis added in bold: “Built-in watch and read actions can only be published after someone engages with the content for 10 or more seconds. If a video is shorter than 10 seconds, the viewer must watch the entire video.” For contrast, Facebook’s policy on providing sharing controls for most apps only says “You should allow people to turn sharing on or off for the content in your app, and the setting a user selects should persist.”

Thankfully, video apps are now more tightly controlled. That’s important because unlike utility apps or news readers where most content is professionally made or there’s little opportunity for deception, video apps like Viddy and Socialcam often feature user generated content that can be misleadingly titled. Spam and link-bait are in the eye of the beholder so some 15 year old might really want to share a “Sexy Girl’s Top Comes Off” video, even if others find that video of a girl putting down the top of her convertible to be misleading spam.

For instance, I was pissed off when Socialcam auto-shared that I had watched “Lil Wayne Fights A Basketball Player” when it was really a video pulled from YouTube of the rapper celebrating a NBA team’s win by chest-bumping with one of the athletes. A lack of regulation and suspected favoring by Facebook’s EdgeRank news feed sorting algorithm led video apps to grow like weeds during April. In fact, they’re springing up and growing so fast they can’t moderate their user generated content in real-time, so Facebook minimizing the spread of low-quality content is critical.

Now for video apps, “You must provide users with the ability to remove any video stories you publish to Facebook, and include this option on the same page where you host the video content” and “You must give the user clear, ongoing, and in-context messaging that their watch actions will be published on Facebook.” That means even if you get tricked into clicking, it will be obvious that your viewing activity will be shared and you can instantly nuke the story.

Beyond policy changes, Facebook has been tweaking how its displays auto-shared stories. It switched to a Trending Articles design that shows a blurb about a news article and not just link bait-prone headlines. Expect more product changes as Facebook adapts to emergent developer behavior.

Frictionless sharing and the Open Graph platform are hugely ambitious moves for Facebook. They could provide the content and ad targeting necessary to grow its revenue such that it can justify its $104 billion IPO price, or at least its current $81 billion market cap. But they also push the limits of privacy and fundamentally change how we share from an explicit to an implicit action.

Developers can’t be left to police themselves, or many will be as spammy as possible. If the average user is going to get comfortable with auto-sharing, they need to know an impulse or accidental click won’t instantly share something awful with all their friends. A 10-second grace period is a good start.

[Image Credit: HackThePC]

Sony SmartWatch update adds always-on watch face and performance tweaks

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

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Gallery Photo: Sony SmartWatch Review images

While we liked the concept of Sony’ SmartWatch, we had a few issues with it when we took a look earlier this year. Sony is continuing to iterate upon the device, delivering a new software update with bug fixes and several new feature tweaks. Most importantly, the watch face is now always on, even if the device is in standby, immediately improving upon the “watch” portion of the SmartWatch. Sony has also added Endomondo’s Sports Tracker app to the list of recommended applications, pushing the fitness angle of the device, while also delivering a number of speed and performance enhancements that will improve the music player and weather apps, as well as third-party software offerings. The update is available through a new version of the…

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Windows 8 Release Preview Shows Improved Media Apps, Same Bipolar Interface

This post is by Scott M. Fulton from ReadWriteWeb

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Microsoft may be listening to its customers, though the final preview edition of Windows 8 before the product ships this fall indicates that it turned its customers’ volume knob down to about two.

Today’s release, with its improvements to Start screen customizability, shows that Microsoft is at least slightly aware of users’ chief complaints about the two previous Windows 8 previews.  The big customizability option revealed today is a wider range of color scheme choices for the Start Screen.

Now, users may choose a variety of different colors for their Start Screen backgrounds, including brighter reds and oranges, pastels, and combinations of bright colors on grey or charcoal backgrounds.  That’s not exactly the tweaks that some early Windows 8 testers – admittedly, including this one – were hoping for.

But there are improvements, and they’re worth noting.  The previous Consumer Preview had difficulty logging in to some Microsoft Exchange servers.  For business users who keep their email, contacts, and calendars in Exchange, it’s this feature that could very well justify making Windows 8 more similar to Windows Phone 7.

Our freshly installed Release Preview on our test machine did not allow us to keep any of the existing settings we configured in the Consumer Preview, but that may have been just as well.  The Release Preview had a considerably easier time recognizing the existing Windows homegroup in our office.  Because of this, the revised versions of the Metro-style Music, Video, and Photos apps could more quickly connect with media that is not being stored in the cloud.  Connectivity with one’s own local media was, after all, the whole point of adding Libraries to Windows 7 in the first place.

This quick connectivity gives the updated Start screen a bit more life.  More like what was originally advertised last September, the Photos tile rotates with photos in your library, the Mail tile shows the subject line of the most recent item received, and the People app tile rotates the faces of people to whom you frequently send mail.  Ironically, with earlier previews, these tiles would only “come alive” for us when we kept Exchange out of the mix, and when we took Windows 8 out of the homegroup.  With the Release Preview, these beta bugs appear to have been fixed.

Also checked off Microsoft’s to-do list was a reminder to make error messages associated with apps sound something less like an edict of condemnation.  Although one of Windows 8’s prominent “charms” (functional icons pulled up from the right side of the screen) is called “Share,” few Metro-style apps and no Desktop apps have been endowed with the ability to share data with other people or other apps in the network (beyond the typical Clipboard).  In a previous article, for example, I showed how an attempt by a well-meaning though ill-informed user (portrayed by myself, of course) to share data with someone appearing inside the People app was met by the anti-prophecy, “People can’t share.”

That message has since been edited to read, “This app can’t share.”  Elsewhere, other Windows 8 apps that lack the ability to share greet their users with more friendly-sounding messages.  This doesn’t change the fundamental fact, however, that despite the undeniable prominence of a “charm” that conveys a message of sharing all-around, this feature remains a singular link to a concentration of dead-ends.

There remain two modes of operation for applications in Windows 8: the as-yet-unnamed Metro-style world of “apps,” and the conventional Desktop.  Previously, I showed how this dualism leads to the confusing existence of two taskbars: one on the Desktop, and one tucked inside the left side of the screen for Metro apps.  Running apps in the Consumer Preview were represented by thumbnails of the apps’ screens – which, in many cases, didn’t accurately convey their own identities.

Now in the Release Preview, we can see that these thumbnails have now been adorned by titles, making it far easier to recall which Metro apps are running.  From here – just as with applications on the Desktop taskbar – you can right-click a thumbnail (assuming you’re using a mouse, which I’ve recently been told is old fashioned) and from the popup menu, select Close to make that app exit.  You could do this with the Consumer Preview too, but some thumbnails didn’t make it easy for you to know which app you would be exiting.  And when a Metro app hung, as a few did in our tests, exiting this way didn’t seem to work; only the Task Manager could help us there.  The Task Manager, by the way, is a Desktop app, meaning you have to switch to the Desktop to manage Metro.  We’ve only had the Release Preview running for a few hours, and have yet to experience a “hung” Metro app, so we don’t know yet whether this behavior persists.

As we mentioned earlier today, the Windows 8 Release Preview is being offered by Microsoft as an upgrade only.  Thus, if you try to run it from Windows 7 (or Vista), it will begin assessing your existing Windows installation for an upgrade candidate.  Since the Release Preview is a release candidate, we don’t recommend you do this.  If you’ve never installed the Consumer Preview or the first Developer Preview, then although this may seem difficult, and you don’t have access to the Consumer Preview, then we recommend that you install Windows 7 on a separate partition of a different drive (one connected by SATA), and then immediately upgrade it to the Release Preview.  It’s an extra headache, for sure, but it only lasts an hour, which is true of most reality shows anyway.

One very noteworthy addition we saw to the Windows 8 Store (which has a few dozen more items for download now) is the prominent addition of as a featured app. Windows SkyDrive already comes pre-installed on the Desktop, and is used by default by the Photo app for sharing photos through a cloud-based service. But Box is adding features to its system enabling users of tablets, including iPads, to read and even edit Microsoft Office documents. So the availability of Box as a Metro app not only is a step in the right direction for multi-device users, but a show of graciousness by Microsoft towards one of its more important competitors in the cloud storage field.

Microsoft also made available its Release Candidate for what is now being called (no surprise) Visual Studio 2012, and we’ll let you know more about how it works soon.

More bad news for Facebook, as site crashes

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Engineers are working overtime at Facebook’s new HQ

Facebook isn’t having a good May. First its IPO didn’t “pop” and then the stock traded down the week after it went public. And on Thursday night the social network experienced a substantial outage, going dark for up to 80 minutes for some people. The site is still loading slowly for me and is apparently out for some people at 6:35 PT.

This isn’t just an inconvenience for users — it’s a big deal for Facebook, which can’t make money when users can’t access the site. As it said in the risks section of its IPO filings with the SEC, if Facebook is “unavailable when users attempt to access it, or if it does not load as quickly as they expect, users may not return to our website as often in the future, or at all.”

Like Google, Facebook can’t make money if users can’t see ads, so keeping it up is both a necessity and the source of a huge amount of spending and engineering talent.

I’ve emailed the crew responsible for keeping Facebook up and running for comment. The site has had its share of hiccups, as well as outright outages such as this one in 2010 caused by database error. It also went down briefly earlier this year. But for a site with almost one billion users, Facebook has proven to be remarkably resilient. I expect we’ll soon hear from the company on what caused its latest problem, given its openness around engineering efforts. Remember, delivering five nines (99.999 percent) reliability — which means your site is down less than 5.26 minutes a year — on the web is hard, so hard it may indeed be a pipe dream.

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Google warning users in China of censor-prone searches

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

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google hk stock 1020

Google is now letting search users in mainland China know when search terms they’ve entered are likely to break their connection to the company’s servers. Apparently, the Great Firewall doesn’t like queries containing characters like 江 (river) and 周 (week), which are frequently used in Chinese surnames. Searches containing the unsanctioned characters have been shown to generate error messages like “this webpage is not available” and “the connection was reset,” at which point users become unable to connect to Google for a minute or so (video below). To let people know that certain searches could potentially break their connection to Google, the company is now generating dialog boxes under the search bar to warn users…

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Now At 17M+ Users, Rebtel Brings Cheap VoIP Calls, Texts To The iPad

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Screen shot 2012-05-31 at 5.39.08 PM

With Skype under Microsoft ownership, Rebtel now claims to be the largest independent mobile VoIP provider, with 17 million users in over 200 countries accessing its service over WiFi and 3G on iPhone, Android, and PCs. Rebtel has added two million users since February, and is seeing an average of 650K new users a month — many of whom have been attracted by its low-cost calling to landlines and mobile, along with the ability to switch between data and voice connections to avoid dropped calls and busy networks.

Previously, Rebtel users have been able to download its iPhone app and use it on their iPads, but today the company is launching its first iPad app, with new navigation, graphics, and phonebook integration all optimized for Apple’s tablet.

The app allows users to make calls to other Rebtellers for free over WiFi and 3G, or select a number in their address book and call outside lines for cheap — rates which CEO Andreas Bernstrom says can be up to 60 percent less expensive than Skype.

The app integrates with the iPad’s address book, enabling users to instantly see which contacts are available to call for free (are using Rebtel) and which they can call for cheap. The app also boasts low-cost international SMS at rates it claims are up to 60 percent lower than the average carrier, and allows users to let their friends reply to text messages for free by selecting “Collect Reply” and including a link to the message that lets them reply via mobile web page, while you pick up the tab. And because long calls over data networks can be unreliable, the company added its “KeepTalking” feature to let users talk over voice networks instead.

With Rebtel expecting to hit $85 million in revenues this year — with what the Rebtel CEO adds is an average revenue per user that’s three times higher than Skype — it believes its timing on the release of its new iPad app is looking good. The iPad reached 11.8 million in sales during the last quarter, with Apple selling 3 million of its new iPads in the first three days it was on the market, giving Apple a 68 percent share of the tablet market.

To this point, Bernstrom added:

We are squarely in the middle of the post-PC era, marked by an increasing amount of consumers who have leapfrogged the classic desktop PC in favor of multi-purpose mobile devices that allow for greater creativity and social interaction. We are excited to expand our development pipeline to respond to this growing global demand for tablets and iPads.

That being said, Rebtel plans to release an Android tablet app over the course of the next months, with a Windows Phone app due by the end of the summer. With Forrester research predicting that there will be 760 million tablets in use globally by 2016, the need for quality, tablet-optimized apps is becoming essential, and, offering cheap, flexible VoIP calling across tablet platforms will put Rebtel in a good position to continue its current growth.

For more, check out the free Rebtel iPad app here.

4-inch iPhone display leaked on video?

This post is by Andru Edwards from Gear Live

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iPhone 4-inch screen leak

It looks like the leaks regarding the new iPhone just keep on coming! Today we've got a video that purportedly shows off the front glass of the device, showing that it's indeed taller than that of the iPhone 4S (and every other iPhone before it.) The glass has space for a 4.07-inch display, and maintains the same width and home button. Also similar to previous leaks, the FaceTime camera has been moved to be centered above the earpiece. It's looking more and more like we'll be seeing a larger screen on the next iPhone.

Continue reading 4-inch iPhone display leaked on video?


4-inch iPhone display leaked on video? originally appeared on Gear Live on Thu, May 31, 2012 – 5:03:03

Fred Wilson Talks NYC’s Tech Scene, The Effect Of Angel Investors, And More [TCTV]

This post is by Colleen Taylor from TechCrunch

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If you want to learn more about the booming tech startup scene in New York City, it doesn’t get much better than talking to Fred Wilson. Wilson has emerged as perhaps the most recognizable figure of the New York tech world, through his 25-year career as a venture capitalist (currently he’s a partner at venture capital firm Union Square Ventures) and also through his very popular “A VC” blog.

So, TechCrunch TV was glad to have the chance to sit down with Wilson last week after he came offstage from his fireside chat with TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington at the Disrupt NYC conference. Watch the video above to hear his thoughts on the rise of angel and seed investing, how the Facebook IPO is impacting the larger ecosystem, the importance of geography when it comes to building a tech business, and more.

Verizon launches Viewdini video search app exclusively for LTE Android devices (hands-on)

This post is by Chris Welch from The Verge - All Posts

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Viewdini Verizon app 1020

At least week’s Cable Show, Verizon Wireless chief Dan Mead wasn’t shy about hyping the carrier’s upcoming Viewdini app for Android as one of its most important initiatives this year. In Mead’s own words, the app is “a mobile video portal for aggregation and delivery of mobile content.” Essentially, it’s supposed to help users quickly discover where they can stream a specific TV show or movie instantly using their handset or tablet. Kristi Crum, executive director of marketing at Verizon Wireless, explains: “Our motivation was to solve for a problem we saw facing our customers, that discovery of video content was very challenging given the fragmented nature of content rights across disparate video distributors.”

Starting today, Viewdini…

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Judge Sides With Google Over Oracle: APIs Were "Fair Use"

This post is by Dan Rowinski from ReadWriteWeb

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Oracle has been dealt a final blow in its court case over the use of Java in Android. U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed Oracle’s copyright infringement claim, bringing to an end a dramatic court case that saw Google win in nearly every single important aspect. Oracle has said it will appeal.

The ruling over whether Google violated the structure, sequence and organization (SSO) of 37 copyrighted APIs fell to the hands of Judge Alsup after the jury came to an impasse during the copyright phase of the trial. The jury was asked to determine several questions concerning whether Google had copied code copyrighted by Oracle after it had acquired the Java programming language when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010. The jury did not return a complete verdict, ruling that Google had copied the SSO of the 37 APIs but could not decide whether or not that was considered fair use. 

When viewed as a whole, Oracle lost every significant aspect of the case. The jury found that Google had not infringed on any of Oracle’s patents and was innocent on copyright violations except for nine lines of specific code out of the 15 million lines that constitute the Android mobile operating system. Oracle, which was rumored to be seeking billions of dollars from Google, will now likely only be awarded between $150,000 and $300,000 in statutory copyright damages. 

“The court’s decision upholds the principle that open and interoperable computer languages form an essential basis for software development. It’s a good day for collaboration and innovation,” Google said in an emailed statement to the Los Angeles Times

Oracle’s stance on the ruling is profound. While many have viewed the database company’s efforts as a pure money grab, Oracle is trying to present itself and the Java community as victims of what it implies is unabashed theft by Google. As a programming language, Java was created by Sun Microsystems in the 1990s as a way to “write once, run every” and designed to supersede the closed system created by Microsoft Windows. Oracle alleges that Google has violated the promise of Java and betrayed the entire development ecosystem that relies on the code. 

“Oracle is committed to the protection of Java as both a valuable development platform and a valuable intellectual property asset. It will vigorously pursue an appeal of this decision in order to maintain that protection and to continue to support the broader Java community of over 9 million developers and countless law abiding enterprises. Google’s implementation of the accused APIs is not a free pass, since a license has always been required for an implementation of the Java Specification,” Oracle stated in am email to technology publication The Verge. “And the court’s reliance on ‘interoperability’ ignores the undisputed fact that Google deliberately eliminated interoperability between Android and all other Java platforms. Google’s implementation intentionally fragmented Java and broke the “write once, run anywhere” promise. This ruling, if permitted to stand, would undermine the protection for innovation and invention in the United States and make it far more difficult to defend intellectual property rights against companies anywhere in the world that simply takes them as their own.”

While Google’s victory in the case is a big win for the company and its Android platform, the legal proceedings are by no means over. Oracle’s eventual appeal will have legs based on both Judge Alsup’s ruling on the fair use aspect and the jury’s split decision over the most important copyright issues. 


Is Facebook Down? Yes For Some. Outage Has Lasted An Hour And Counting

This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch

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“Let me tell you the difference between Facebook and everyone else, we don’t crash EVER!” – ‘Mark Zuckerberg’, The Social Network. Not quite. Facebook has been offline or slow to load for some users around the world for an hour now. Reports started flooding in to Twitter at roughly 4:26pm PST today with many users quipping that “Facebook is down. Just like it’s stock price.”

One hour later and DownForEveryoneOrJustMe confirms the outage continues for some users, though others are having no trouble. We’re awaiting a response from Facebook on the cause.

Similar to Facebook’s IPO, which was largely chronicled with tweets rather than the social network itself, Facebook users are turning to Twitter to vent their frustration with the downtime. The site so rarely encounters loading problems that the outage is coming as quite a shock to some.

[Update 5:46pm PST: 80 minutes after the outage began we’re hearing reports that users in Brazil and Tunisia lost service, but the site seems to be coming back to life for others, including me.]

As Jesse Eisenberg fumed as ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ in Aaron Sorkin’s dramatized history of Facebook:

“If those servers are down for even a day, our entire reputation is irreversibly destroyed! Users are fickle, Friendster has proved that. Even a few people leaving would reverberate through the entire userbase. The users are interconnected, that is the whole point. College kids are online because their friends are online, and if one domino goes, the other dominos go, don’t you get that? I am not going back to the Caribbean Night at AEPi!”

Honestly, Facebook has been remarkably reliable over the last few years, even as its user base swells. But hopefully the site’s engineering team doesn’t mine sipping on a Caribbean piña colada while they sort things out.

Google takes back one of its few losses in the Oracle patent trial

This post is by Meghan Kelly from VentureBeat

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Android Verdict

Google just put another win under its belt in the Google-Oracle patent lawsuit. The case looked to be wrapped up when a jury found Google not guilty of infringing on Oracle’s patents earlier this month.

In the first part of the trial, which focused on copyrights held by Oracle, a jury found that Google had infringed on Oracle’s structure, sequence, and organization (SSO) of its application programming interfaces (API). At the time, Judge William Alsup said he was reviewing Oracle’s claim to copyright an SSO, but requested that the jury consider it copyrighted. Now, the judge is reversing the jury’s decision saying that Oracle doesn’t have the right to copyright the SSO of an API.

In essence, letting Oracle win this one is to say that competing technologies are not allowed to come up with a similar structure to their APIs, lest they be subjected to a copyright lawsuit.

“To accept Oracle’s claim would be to allow anyone to copyright one version of code to carry out a system of commands and thereby bar all others from writing their own different versions to carry out all or part of the same commands,” said Alsup in a statement. “No holding has ever endorsed such a sweeping proposition.”

Oracle will appeal the decision and has released the following statement:

Oracle is committed to the protection of Java as both a valuable development platform and a valuable intellectual property asset. It will vigorously pursue an appeal of this decision in order to maintain that protection and to continue to support the broader Java community of over 9 million developers and countless law abiding enterprises. Google’s implementation of the accused APIs is not a free pass, since a license has always been required for an implementation of the Java Specification. And the court’s reliance on “interoperability” ignores the undisputed fact that Google deliberately eliminated interoperability between Android and all other Java platforms. Google’s implementation intentionally fragmented Java and broke the “write once, run anywhere” promise. This ruling, if permitted to stand, would undermine the protection for innovation and invention in the United States and make it far more difficult to defend intellectual property rights against companies anywhere in the world that simply takes them as their own.

via The Verge; Image photoshop by Tom Cheredar

Filed under: VentureBeat