SparkLabs Presents Its Second Demo Day In Seoul With Eight Startups

SparkLabs, the accelerator that brings Silicon Valley mentorship to Seoul’s young startup ecosystem, presented its second Demo Day today.

It also added 12 new people to its roster of over 100 mentors, including Dr. Sang Cha, the creator of SAP HANA, one of the enterprise software’s core platforms; Pat Kinsel, Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Polaris Partners and co-founder of Spindle (which was recently acquired by Twitter); and Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Head of Smart TV Services At Samsung Electronics. Each of the up to 15 startups that participates in each SparkLabs class is matched with four to six mentors during the three-month program.

Past SparkLabs participants that have been covered on TechCrunch include KnowRe, an adaptive learning platform for math that announced an $1.4 million investment from SoftBank in January and WePlanet’s Step Journal.

The latest batch of startups “reflect major trends in Asia in terms of what you’ll see in coming years, such as growth in the e-commerce space, new targeted social networks and completely new innovations,” said Eugene Kim, Principal at SparkLabs.

One company presenting today that has already launched a product for a worldwide audience is DesignplusD, the creator of productivity app MemoZy, which has reached the App Store’s top slot for productivity apps in 12 countries. The app announced new features including a registration-based service, a new “Timeline” and synchronization between users’ iPhones and iPads.

Currently live in beta, TrakInvest is a global social investment platform for equities built on a learn-share-earn model. Users receive a phantom cash allocation to start investing and have access to 12,000 research reports updated daily through TrakInvest’s partnership with Reuters. The startup recently signed a deal with Religare, one of the largest brokerage houses in India, to allow its users to execute real money trades through TrakInvest.

Lateral’s search platform COGO is also currently available for sign-ups in beta. COGO automatically retrieves, indexes and organizes your search sessions.

Other startups presenting today include:

iBabyBox, a social marketplace for baby items created by Yong Hyoung, the founder of Korea’s first major social network CyWorld.

HeyBread, an e-commerce company that delivers fresh organic bread from premium bakeries to customers. The startup plans to expand into new categories.

MangoPlate, a restaurant discovery service for Seoul that launched a new UI and service. Their app is currently available on iOS and Android.

StyleWiki, a social wiki for fashion fans that just launched an Android app and will soon have a Web version.

Zoyi, which recently launched Walk Analytics to help stores glean data from offline data like foot-traffic, visit duration and engagement. Walk Analytics is currently targeted at businesses in Seoul because of its high population density and strong mobile penetration.

via TechCrunch

Social Analytics Startup Socialbakers Hires Its First CMO, Former Adobe VP Neil Morgan

Socialbakers, a social analytics startup headquartered in Prague, is announcing that it has hired its first chief marketing officer — Neil Morgan, who recently left Adobe.

The company says it has 190 employees in 10 offices worldwide. When I spoke to founder and CEO Jan Rezab last week, he described it as as the largest independent player in the market (following the acquisition of competitors like Buddy Media) and as a “hidden gem”. By hiring Morgan (who he described as “a star”), Rezab is probably hoping to remove the “hidden” part of that description.

Morgan was most recently vice president of digital marketing solutions for Europe, Middle East, and Asia at Adobe, a role in which he led marketing efforts for Adobe’s Marketing Cloud products (yes, it’s kind of meta). His marketing experience also includes time at Oracle, Chordiant, Siebel, and Omniture (which was acquired by Omniture).

Socialbakers allows big brands to monitor their activity, and that of their competitors, on social networks. Last week, it launched a new Ad Analytics product. Rezab suggested that the ads that will be successful on social media are the content-driven ones that show up in newsfeeds. So Socialbakers’ Ad Analytics is focused on ads that run in Facebook’s News Feed for now, with plans to add new platforms every eight to 12 weeks.

The product also includes features for testing different ad types and managing campaigns.

“Basically, we’re trying to make ads more intelligent,” Rezab said.

via TechCrunch

Why the Nissan Leaf is labeled “made in the USA” even though 80 percent of it is actually made in Japan

The 2013 Nissan Leaf electric car is assembled in Smyrna, Tennessee, for North American sales.

In fact, Nissan got a low-interest loan for $1.6 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy to make that possible.

So why does every 2013 Leaf carry a window sticker saying that its U.S. and Canadian content is just 15 percent–while 80 percent of its parts content comes from Japan?

Sticker shock

Nissan Leaf label shows most of it is not made in America The question arose in late July, coming from electric-car enthusiast Andrew Chiang, who photographed the sticker on a brand-new 2013 Leaf at Nissan Sunnyvale, in California.

Chiang posted the photo in the San Francisco Bay Area Nissan Leaf Owners Group on Facebook, and it seemed worthy of an answer.

Ten weeks later, after multiple queries, responses, phone calls, and in-person conversations with various Nissan officials, we’ve pieced together the story.

You can think of it as a Good News/Bad News story.

It gets better

First, the bad news: The earliest 2013 Leafs did indeed have only 15 percent of their parts manufactured in the U.S.

The bulk of the cars’ content was imported from Japan, whether directly by Nissan or by its parts suppliers–even if those suppliers were U.S.-based.

The good news, however, is that the U.S. content will be considerably higher for 2014 Leaf models.

Nissan declined to specify that number, saying that the 2014 models (which will arrive at dealers in December) were still being finalized.

Similar to Focus Electric, soon

But Brian Brockman, a senior manager of corporate communications, suggested that the 2014 Leaf percentage for U.S./Canadian parts content would be “roughly similar to other U.S.-built advanced technology vehicles.”

Asked for an example, Brockman suggested the 2013 Ford Focus Electric–which has a U.S./Canadian parts content of 40 percent, according to the listings of American Automobile Labeling Act (AALA) content compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The 2014 Chevrolet Volt, for purposes of comparison, has a U.S./Canadian parts content of 45 percent. Of the remainder, 19 percent comes from Korea and 17 percent from Japan.

GM did not receive DoE low-interest loans following its 2009 bankruptcy and Federally-backed restructuring.

The Tesla Model S is the third of the three best-selling U.S.-built plug-in electric cars; it is not listed in the 2012, 2013, or 2014 AALA reports.

Tesla paid back its entire $465 million DoE loan in May, several years early.

The fine print

Both Brockman and Billy Hayes, Nissan’s Japan-based vice president for global electric car sales, noted that a number of factors played into the low domestic content number for 2013.

  • Most important, the AALA percentage reflects the country of origin of the materials and parts–even if Nissan purchased them from a U.S. company.

  • The labeling doesn’t reflect any of the labor costs to assemble the Leaf; it’s solely based on the value of the car’s component parts.

  • While the lithium-ion cells for the Leaf’s battery are assembled in Tennessee, the critical electrode material is fabricated in Japan and shipped in huge rolls to Smyrna.

  • Similarly, many of the car’s power electronics, control systems, and other electromechanical components–essentially the rest of its powertrain–are from Japan.

  • The 2013 label was calculated for the very earliest Smyrna-built pre-production Leafs, before Nissan had finished local sourcing for all parts.

  • Those first Leafs used electric motors built in Japan, but production of motors for U.S. Leafs has now been transferred to Decherd, Tennessee.

  • The AALA label is calculated only once a year, and is not modified for running changes.

No other info

Nissan says that the U.S. and Canadian content of the 2013 Leaf has risen during the year’s production, but declined to provide more recent numbers.

The company, indeed, would not offer any other metrics that might provide an alternative picture of the car’s total U.S. economic impact.

“We do not provide other localization metrics outside of the company,” Brockman wrote.

Expanding on the points above, Brockman also provided the following written statement:

The AALA reporting protocols do not fully comprehend the localization effort with Nissan Leaf for a number of reasons. First, due to reporting requirements, 2013 Leaf label values reflect content in vehicles that were built prior to start of production, which included imported content that were subsequently sourced locally.

For example, the label lists the eMotor production source as Japan, but we began producing electric motors for Leaf at Decherd, Tennessee, shortly into the production year.

Nissan is currently tabulating the 2014 Leaf data for AALA, but we expect the percentage of US/Canada content to increase to a level similar to comparable, advanced-technology vehicles.

In addition, AALA does not include production cost in its calculation, and therefore does not reflect the value add that takes place while turning raw materials and basic components into battery packs, electric motors and the fully assembled vehicle.

Finally, AALA is cost-weighted. So an advanced technology vehicle such as Leaf contains specialized components that drive a higher percentage of cost compared to an internal-combustion-engine-powered vehicle.

Since Leaf is just starting to build higher volumes, economies of scale can still, in some cases, be on the side of a global supplier rather than a localized source for materials. As Leaf continues to grow in global volume, Nissan is looking for opportunities to increase efficiency by finding local sources.

What’s an ‘American car’?

For plug-in electric cars, the question of what’s a “U.S. car” can get confusing.

While the 2008-2011 Tesla Roadster was assembled as a rolling “glider” chassis in the U.K., its battery pack (using Japanese cells) and motor and electronics were installed in the U.S. That qualified it to be deemed “made in the U.S.”

Similarly, the short-lived 2012 Coda Sedan was put together in California from a Chinese glider, Chinese lithium-ion cells, and various electric components from other sources. It too was considered to be built in the U.S.

Nissan intersperses Leafs with Altimas, Maximas, and other passenger vehicles on an existing assembly line in its Smyrna plant.

But the adjacent battery-cell assembly plant was built from the ground up–even if the most valuable components it assembles are fabricated overseas.

So if next year’s Leaf has 40 percent of its parts value sourced in the U.S. and Canada, and it’s built in Tennessee, does that make it a U.S.-built car in your mind?

Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]

This story originally appeared on

This story originally appeared on

via VentureBeat

Hands-on with the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631

There are some people who just won't use a trackpad, even when the pad is built into a laptop like your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air. For those folks, there are a lot of cheap USB and Bluetooth mice, but many of them are either designed primarily for use with Windows machines or -- in the case of Apple's own Magic Mouse -- somewhat bulky. Logitech has the perfect solution for those who love both laptops and mice in the new Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 for Mac (US$69.99).

Apple's Magic Mouse weighs 3.8 ounces (107.7 grams), while the Ultrathin Touch Mouse weighs just 2.4 ounces (68 grams). The Ultrathin Touch Mouse is smaller in size than the Magic Mouse as well; while Apple's mouse is 4.5" long x 2.25" wide x .75" at its thickest point, the Logitech mouse is just 3.375" long x 2.31" wide x .625" at its thickest.

Like the Apple device, the Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse uses Bluetooth to connect to your Mac. But the Logitech mouse has the ability to be paired to two different Macs -- say, a work MacBook and a home iMac. To switch between the two, there's a simple toggle switch on the bottom of the mouse.

Rather than using disposable or rechargeable AA batteries like the Apple mouse, Logitech's rodent has a built-in rechargeable battery. There's a standard micro-USB port on the bottom for charging, and if you happen to run out of charge while working, Logitech says that just a minute of charging can give you up to an hour of mouse usage.

To get all of the features of the Magic Mouse's touch-sensitive surface, you must install Logitech's free Preference Manager app. That app provides right and middle clicks, swipe left/right to go between pages or full-screen apps, swipe up and down for scrolling, and more.

Looks-wise, the Ultrathin Touch Mouse is a nice match for any Mac. The sides are aluminum, while the top is white with a very discreet Logitech logo. There's also a tiny LED that flashes blue when pairing is underway, and turns green to indicate that power has been switched on.

How does it feel? Well, Apple's Magic Mouse has a pretty good feel and is designed to fit an average-sized hand. Your entire hand takes part in moving it around. With the Ultrathin Touch Mouse, just the fingers on your "mouse hand" are involved in moving the mouse around. For me it took just a few moments to get used to the feel of the Ultrathin Touch Mouse.


The Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 is perfect for any Mac user and especially for those who want a compact and lightweight Bluetooth mouse that they can toss into a bag alongside a MacBook.


  • Very lightweight and streamlined design

  • Provides a very positive click response

  • Built-in rechargable battery; no need to swap out batteries

  • Can be paired to two different Macs with easy switching between devices

  • Has a number of surface touch gestures that it responds to, all controlled by the Logitech Preference Manager app

  • Just a buck more expensive than Apple's Magic Mouse


  • Might be "too small" for those who are used to the larger Apple Magic Mouse

Who is it for?

  • Anyone who has a Mac or two and would like a compact, rechargeable Bluetooth mouse with a touch surface


Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.

  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.

  • The entry must be made before October 3, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.

  • You may enter only once.

  • One winner will be selected and will receive a Logitech Ultrathin Touch Mouse T631 valued at $69.99

  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

You can now turn your iPhone into the iFruit from GTA V

Grand Theft Auto V does a great job of skewering modern tech culture, as well as Apple itself, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the "iFruit" smartphones that are seen in the game. Now, with the help of a handy skin from Mobile Fun, you can turn your iPhone 4, 4s, 5 or 5s into an iFruit too.

The covering is pretty basic, with the key changes being the name "iFruit" replacing the "iPhone" moniker on your smartphone's backside, along with the fruit bowl logo. The skin is made of vinyl and retails for a reasonable US$12.99.

[via Inventor Spot]


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Reality Absorption Field: Why Microsoft was no Google

In the height of the PC era, competition between Apple and Microsoft was of a vertically integrated creator of hardware and operating systems versus that of a dominant licensed operating system. In the smartphone era, Apple has expanded its degree of integration to include chip design, core apps, retail and cloud services. But while the opposition is still a dominant licensed operating system, it is now Android from Google.

For a few reasons that could fill another column, Apple has been able to attain much higher market share in the smartphone market than it did in the PC market. But that is particularly impressive given that Google is a very different company than Microsoft was during the heyday of Windows, and in many ways is a stronger competitor:


After it had established desktop supremacy, Microsoft began investing heavily in R&D and today Microsoft Research is home to some to many fascinating projects. Call its research's goals more focused if you will, but its clear that Google is interested in attacking issues that reach far beyond any near-term business goals with such far-out projects as Google Glass, the self-driving car, and Project Loon. Who knows what humanity-saving skunkworks may be brewing at Google X?

Business model

Steve Jobs once said of Bill Gates that his friend and adversary was the first to recognize the potential of software and for many years, Microsoft certainly did do the best job of monetizing it directly. Microsoft is still so dedicated to the idea of recognizing software as a discrete asset that its Windows team changes its Surface team a license fee so as not to give it an unfair advantage over other PC makers that have to pay the fee. In contrast, the engine that fuels Google's growth is advertising, and so a mandate to drive audience is tantamount. This is one reason why Google is so intent on keeping its iOS apps fresh and prominent; to reach a huge set of eyeballs on behalf of its advertisers.


Even today, Microsoft caters strongly to the business market and many of its users are IT professionals. There are divisions of the company that are virtually unknown to consumers, such as its Dynamics customer relationship management software. Windows, Windows Phone, and their server counterparts include many features for enterprise management.

Unlike troubled companies such as BlackBerry and Dell, though, Microsoft does have explicitly consumer-focused businesses in Bing and Xbox, but those are relatively small forces steering the ship compared to the predominant focus on consumers that is Apple's and Google's business. Google has certainly stepped up its corporate push with Google Apps, which has attracted a string of attack ads from Microsoft. Still, Google Wave, its attempt at a collaborative environment that might have challenged Microsoft SharePoint, flopped.

Next week's RAF will conclude our look at how Google is a stronger competitor to Apple today than Microsoft was even at the height of its strength.

Ross Rubin is principal analyst at Reticle Research, a research and advisory firm focusing on consumer technology adoption. He shares commentary at Techspressive and on Twitter at @rossrubin.


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Bang With Friends To Change Names After Trademark Settlement With Zynga

Bang With Friends’ catchy name unfortunately is getting tossed after the startup reached a settlement with Zynga.

The social gaming company had accused the casual sex app of infringing on its “With Friends” line-up. But now both are saying they’ve reached a settlement. Neither company is talking about the terms, however.

It seems like a clear win for Zynga. Bang With Friends had to acknowledge Zynga’s trademark rights and it’s now changing its name. They have a placeholder site called The Next Bang. It seems like there was some worry that Bang With Friends — if it ever got big enough — could color the reputation of Zynga’s more family-friendly games.

Both companies said in a statement:

Zynga Inc. and Bang With Friends, Inc. are pleased that they have reached an amicable resolution of their dispute. Although the terms of the settlement are confidential, Bang With Friends, Inc. acknowledges the trademark rights that Zynga has in its WITH FRIENDS marks and will be changing its corporate name and rebranding its services in the near future. Details on the next version of Bang With Friends can be found at

The settlement is yet another in a recent string: Zynga recently settled with an executive who defected to mid-core social game-maker Kixeye over theft of trade secrets. Zynga also settled with EA earlier this year over whether an earlier game “The Ville” was a copy of EA’s classic “The Sims.”

via TechCrunch

Funding Daily: Felina

And speaking of the Breaking Bad series finale, we’ve got a lovely little smattering of funding stories for you today.

Video-gaming powerhouse Twitch managed to scrape together a respectable round, and all (presumably?) without the aiming laser pointers at their VCs. The foodies at HelloFresh put together a nice bowl of lettuce, as well, hold the ricin.

But the biggest deal of the day was a health care company that went all in on Obamacare. Why bet the farm on a controversial piece of legislation? we asked. “I did it for me,” the CEO replied.*

*Not really, obviously.

Without further ado or spoilers, here’s the conclusion to an epic September’s investment activity.

Evolent Health seals a $100M deal

San Francisco-based Evolent Health just raised $100 million in its second round of funding, an unprecedented sum for such an early-stage health care startup. Evolent is a particularly attractive prospect for investors, as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes into effect. The health exchanges open for enrollment tomorrow. Evolent has aligned its messaging with the goals of the ACA, claiming to provide software and services to help doctors move from fee-for-service-based care to outcomes-based care. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

Twitch takes $20M

Livestreaming has become a cultural force in the video game business, and that explains why streaming leader Twitch is announcing today that it has raised $20 million in a third round of funding. The investors include Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of big hit Grand Theft Auto V. San Francisco-based Twitch now counts 45 million monthly unique viewers for its streams, which show videos of players’ sessions in real-time over the Internet. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

Dataguise gets $13M

Big-data startup Dataguise has taken $13 million in its second round of institutional funding. The company offers services for data privacy-protection and compliance intelligence for sensitive data assets. THis money comes from Toba Capital and an unnamed “leading electronic conglomerate.” Dataguise is based in Freemont, Calif., and was founded in 2006.

Varentec grabs $8M

Power management company Varentec has raised another $8 million — with a little help from Bill Gates. The San Jose, Calif.-based company wants to decentralize today’s power grids, a reinvention that creates faster, more efficient systems at reduced cost. The latest funding round, which Khosla Ventures led, joins the $7.7 million Series A round it raised last January.

Core to Varentec’s effort is “Edge of Network Grid Optimization” (ENGO), its hardware-software solution that, in real time, monitors and controls the voltage going over systems. The company calls the technology the “eyes, brain, and muscle” of its future decentralized power grid. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

HelloFresh reels in $7.5M

HelloFresh, a Berlin, Germany-based company that aims to make tasty, healthy meals at home as effortless as possible, has nabbed another $7.5 million to boost its market share in the U.S. and elsewhere. This is the third round of financing for the company, which has now raised a total of $20 million. The Moscow-based VC firm Phenomen led the round, and Vorwerk Ventures and Holtzbrinck Ventures participated. Rocket Internet and Investment AB Kinnevik are existing investors. Read the full story on VentureBeat.

Tackk raises $1.2M

Is it a blog? Is it a microsite? Is it yet another WYSIWYG editor soon to be lost in the mists of digital history? We’ll go with a “yes” on all three! Tackk has scraped together a $1.2 million round for… that thing it does, which can be broadly described as “content creation.” The (app? site? service? sure!) also has social sharing and following features. This is Tackk’s second round of seed funding; we’ll see if the product makes it to a Series A.

via VentureBeat

Check those privacy settings! Facebook’s Graph Search supports posts

As it stands, you probably don’t use Facebook’s Graph Search, but this new feature might make you want to.

The company is slowly rolling out the ability to search “post” content. “Posts” is defined as any of your status updates, comments, captions on pictures, and check-ins.

For example, you’ll be able to search “posts about Coachella” and see all the posts that aren’t blocked by privacy settings about the music festival. Facebook promises that you’ll still be able to block people from searching your content by changing your privacy settings to only allow certain friends to see certain content.

The problem that we saw with Graph Search when it first emerged is that while some bits of data on their own don’t seem like a big deal, in aggregate things can get pretty weird. For example, a friend may be in a group called “I like big butts and I cannot lie” as a joke, but when you suddenly find 30 of your friends in groups about “big butts” the joke gets lost.

Facebook notes that beyond posts about a certain topic, you can also search for posts created in a specific place or a specific time. You can also search posts by person.

Not everyone will get this feature immediately. The company says it is currently testing it with a group of people who already have Graph Search, but will open it up after receiving feedback.

via VentureBeat

Fantasy football is apparently the killer app for data science

Hey, you, data science startup that has cool technology but is struggling to find a compelling way to demonstrate it. Here’s some free advice: fantasy football. It’s huge business, the National Football League has mountains of statistical data available and, better yet, people might actually pay you for a service that works.

You might think I’m joking, but hear me out. A few weeks ago, a co-worker came to me asking me for any big data tools that would help with his fantasy draft (if he had specific data and specific questions to ask, I told him, he should use Statwing). When I said I was writing this post, someone replied within seconds, “So you’re saying it’s not too late to save my season?”

People love fantasy football — enough to support a whole industry of fantasy football stats services — so it’s a great way to get some attention for something a lot more powerful. If you do it well enough, there could be a business in it.

However, I think the application of proper data science to this field to make predictions more accurate or stats easier to access seems to open the door for a new breed of fantasy statistics. There are probably fewer of those types of services around right now. One that stands out is the Player Comparison tool that SAP provides as a part of the fantasy football product.

Here are two more services to add to the list.

SkyPhrase does NLP for the NFL

Even if you don’t care about making money, fantasy football is still a great proving ground for data-based technologies. On Monday, for example, a natural-language search startup called SkyPhrase launched two demo versions of its service — one for Google Analytics and the other for football statistics. The company’s strategy appears to be adding more categories and actually porting its NLP and artificial intelligence technologies on any datasets via API, but football and web analytics make good case studies.

The football tool lets users compare players, ask for specific stats and even set up alerts for when specific things happen on during games. This week, my Green Bay Packers are playing the Detroit Lions. So I searched for the quarterbacks with the most yards against the Lions since 2010. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers didn’t make the top 20.


But he has scored a lot of touchdowns against them.


And since 2008, he has absolutely owned them.


And the coolest thing about SkyPhrase it that you can ask it questions via Twitter, too. Send it a question, and it sends back an answer via DM (in like a second, in my case).

The link from the Twitter DM SkyPhrase sent me (notice TweetDeck open behind my browser).

The link from the Twitter DM SkyPhrase sent me (notice TweetDeck open behind my browser).

Coaches aren’t businesspeople — so sell stats to businesspeople

A couple weeks ago, I spoke with Diane Bloodworth, the founder and CEO of an Atlanta-based sports data startup called Competitive Sports Analysis. Her company started off life trying to sell its analysis to coaches, based on the idea that its unique method of analysis could help coaches figure out what matchups to exploit in any given week. For a quarterback, for example, the company’s software looks at data such as the player’s current stats and his past performance against this week’s opponent, but also data about the quarterback’s offensive line, its past performance against that defensive line, and even the size and strength of relevant players.

But Bloodworth realized that selling software to coaches was a taller order than anticipated. “They’re not like businesspeople,” she said, “I have to think like a coach.” (Which is a diplomatic way of saying coaches often care more about their own expertise than what the data says.)

But you know who is like businesspeople? Businesspeople! Many of them work with data everyday and they embrace it, Bloodworth realized. Plus, many of them play fantasy football.

Fast-forward a couple years to the present, and Competitive Sports Analysis’s primary business is fantasy sports via a product called scoutPRO. Its free version offers preseason draft predictions, as well a variety of weekly rankings about the best players at each position, with scoring projections tailor-made for the specific rules of each about a dozen popular fantasy football platforms. The company has a Georgia Tech Ph.D. candidate on staff whose job is to measure and improve scoutPRO’s algorithms.

Peyton Manning actually scored 29.08 points.

Peyton Manning actually scored 29.08 points.

For people willing to pay up to $29.99 a season — and many people are — scoutPRO goes even deeper into the stats and will make projections based on a user’s actual roster. The company also sells a version for fantasy baseball, and there’s still an edition designed for coaches, which Bloodworth says is starting to catch on thanks to the company’s success in the fantasy realm.

Of course accuracy is a relative term in a sport where, as the old cliche goes, anything can happen on any given Sunday. A service that could accurately predict those anomalous events where a relatively unknown player breaks out for a career day would be priceless.

And, I’m sorry to say, my GigaOM co-worker who asked about saving his season is probably hopeless even with the smartest analytics around.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user ulegundo.

via GigaOM

Rewired nerves control robotic leg

For the first time ever, a person was able to walk with a robotic leg controlled by thought alone. A video shows a man walking through downtown Chicago and even kicking a football with the leg.

Story posted at:

via GigaOM

How to find the right data-protection solution in the cloud era

Research & Analysis

This report underwitten by: Axcient

While natural disasters account for most news headlines, they comprise only a small percentage of IT downtime. The majority of IT outages come from accidents, sabotage, and technical failures. Additionally, most data-loss events and outages are due to the failure of single hard-disk drives, machines, or servers.

These outages reinforce the critical importance of thorough disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) planning so an organization can rapidly recover from data-loss events and resume business operations as quickly as possible. Since the survival of a business depends on rapid BC, failure to develop a BC/DR plan can result in lost productivity, customers, and revenue as well as decreases in customer satisfaction, sales, reputation, and stock price.

This report examines the limitations of various cloud-based data-protection solutions in the market today and describes a best practice for enabling local area network (LAN)-powered and cloud-powered near-instantaneous BC by virtualizing the IT environment. Doing so creates both a local and a cloud copy of all applications and data, which allows employees to follow a data-loss event. It will illustrate for CIOs, IT decision-makers and managers, system administrators, and cloud service providers that:

  • Constantly evolving IT infrastructures require data-protection solutions with easy-to-use interfaces. At the same time, economic considerations require moving away from IT specialists to IT generalists, as well as a deliberate shift to cohesive solutions.

  • Following a disaster, the time to receive “thawed data” from a public-cloud provider, acquire new hardware, install operating systems and applications, restore files from portable storage media, and test to ensure everything works could spell the difference between an organization remaining competitive or going out of business following a disaster.

  • Many cloud-enabled solutions have been architected for enterprise data-protection environments as well as cloud-washed without any significant change to the underlying technology architecture or functionality.

Recently, some data-protection vendors have addressed the difference between data restore and data recovery to resume BC by introducing offerings that enable near-instant recovery.

via GigaOM

Libratone introduces wireless, wall-mountable Loop speaker

There are plenty of wireless speakers out there, but few are as versatile as the new Libratone Loop. It connects wirelessly to virtually any device via Apple’s AirPlay, DLNA, or Libratone’s own PlayDirect. And it can be mounted on a wall or balanced on a kickstand and placed anywhere throughout your home. At $499.99 it’s a little pricey, but that’s actually not bad for an AirPlay speaker – especially one that’s covered in Italian cashmere wool.

The Loop works wirelessly via Apple’s AirPlay, which allows it to connect with any Mac or iOS device that supports the technology. And while AirPlay streams audio over your Wi-Fi network, the Loop also supports PlayDirect, which lets you connect your iOS device directly to the speaker itself. Finally, DLNA support means it should work with many Android devices, PCs and televisions as well.

On the audio front, the Loop features digital signal processing (DSP) and digital amplification, along with two ribbon-based tweeters and 120 watts of power. Libratone claims the round shape of the speaker creates a fuller sound by bouncing audio off of the walls and dispersing it throughout the room.

I got a chance to listen to it in GigaOM’s New York offices, and while I didn’t quite have enough time to take in the whole “FullRoom” experience, the speaker was certainly loud and clear enough for the rest of the office to hear as well — even though we were testing it behind closed doors. The speaker delivered a very clear midrange with resonant bass response, and did not distort at maximum volume. Part of that is due to the DSP, which won’t please audiophiles but kept music sounding clear no matter the genre and volume.

Libratone Loop

Libratone’s speakers are just as focused on design as they are on sound. The Loop’s design is pure Danish modern, which makes it a perfect fit for any Mad Men-meets-the-future interior design scheme. And though it isn’t designed to be portable like the battery-powered Libratone Zipp, the speaker is small and light enough fit pretty much anywhere in the house.

The Loop will be available directly from Apple and a handful of other retailers starting October 15 for $499.99. The speaker comes with both a white kickstand and a bracket for wall mounting. It is covered in removable Italian wool and colors include black, grey or red. Libratone plans to offer additional covers in blue, pink, purple and yellow but it has not yet announced a price for them.

via GigaOM

Another wall tumbles: The Dallas Morning News dismantles its paywall, tries to sell premium features instead

When the San Francisco Chronicle said that it was demolishing its news paywall in August, we wondered whether it might be the beginning of a paywall rollback trend. Now a second metro newspaper has decided to go the same route: the Dallas Morning News announced that its news content will once again be free to all web visitors starting on Tuesday, October 1.

Much like the SF Chronicle, the Dallas newspaper said it will continue to offer a premium service to paying readers, and it hopes to add more unique features to that service in the future, such as customization and access to events.

Not enough interest in digital subscriptions

In a comment to a reporter from the Morning News, the chief marketing officer for the paper — which is owned by A.H. Belo Corp. — was fairly blunt in his assessment of the paywall’s benefits, or lack thereof. Unlike successful paywalls at newspapers like the New York Times, the one at the Morning News didn’t generate much return, CMO Jason Dyer said:

“The pay wall solution hasn’t worked. The pay wall didn’t create a massive groundswell of [digital] subscribers.”

So what Morning News readers who decide to pay $11.96 per month will get access to instead is an “image-oriented, collage-style display” of the news — one that appears to be inspired by tablet-based content offerings such as Flipboard or Pulse, and is also similar to the new site Topicly that was recently launched by the Washington Post (although it is free).

Dallas Morning News

The Morning News paid site will also have fewer ads, the newspaper said. According to publisher Jim Moroney:

“In the first quarter of 2011, we became one of the first daily newspapers to ask consumers to pay for the content we distributed digitally. Now, we are going to experiment with another approach.”

Readers don’t want to pay for news online

Moroney said that research the newspaper did with print subscribers showed that what readers were willing to pay for wasn’t the actual content itself, but the method of delivery — that is, the printed newspaper. When offered the exact same content online for a price that was 90-percent less than the average print subscription rate, only five percent of readers said they were interested.

“What we concluded from this research was that subscribers were not paying for the content, so much as paying for how they wanted to consume the content we published. They were paying for a print experience. Now, we want to see if there are sufficient consumers who will pay for a premium digital experience.”

The Morning News says that in addition to a more visual browsing experience, readers who pay for the premium content will eventually be able to personalize the content they receive and will also have access to a “loyalty program” of some kind that could include access to events and tickets to baseball games. Early responses to the new strategy were not kind, however:

My rough early estimate for how many people will pay for the DMN’s “premium” visual version of the same stories is 0

Joshua Benton (@jbenton) September 30, 2013

This post was updated to reflect the fact that the premium version of the Morning News doesn’t include extra content but only premium features or services.

Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock / flyinglife

via GigaOM

Apple's online store begins selling refurbished 128GB iPads for the first time

If you've been eyeing a 128 GB 4th-generation iPad but couldn't bring yourself to shell out the US$799 asking price, you'll be glad to know that Apple is now offering a refurbished option at a solid discount, MacRumors reports. The previously-owned tablets are now available for $679.00 and are currently shipping within five to seven business days.

Of course, rumors have been swirling regarding the next generation of Apple's iconic tablet for a number of months now, so if you're already in the market for an iPad, you may want to wait just a little bit and see if Apple has another surprise for us before the year ends.


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

iOS 7 video tip: Using Reminders

One of the unsung heroes among the built-in apps on iOS devices is Reminders. Reminders are different from calendar events. Calendars mark your appointments, while reminders tell you what you have to do.

In this short video, I'll show you how to create a new reminder list, enter a reminder, set a deadline or prioritize a reminder, and show items as completed. We'll also cover deleting reminders and creating then with Siri.

As with all of our video tips, this one can be expanded to full screen for more detail.


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Gold iPhone stickers a hit in China following iPhone 5s release

Ahead of Apple's official iPhone 5s announcement, rumors circulated that Apple, for the first time, was going to introduce a gold colored iPhone. Naturally, the reaction was somewhat muted as folks envisioned an over-the-top and gaudy-looking iPhone being introduced into the mix.

In truth, the gold-colored iPhone 5s is an elegant looking device that actually looks much better in person than online photos would otherwise portray.

Since first going on sale, Apple's gold-colored iPhone 5s has been in extremely short supply. What's more, demand for the gold-colored addition to Apple's iPhone lineup has been so great that Apple reportedly asked suppliers to increase production by 33%.

Not everyone, however, is content to wait for iPhone 5s supply to firm up. Of course, many folks who own the iPhone 5 aren't planning to upgrade to the 5s regardless of availability.

That being the case, the Wall Street Journal reports that vendors in China are capitalizing on the popularity of the gold-colored iPhone by offering gold stickers users can affix to the backside of their iPhones.

Thousands of the stickers have been sold through stores on in less than a month, reflecting strong demand for the golden device in China. While most of the consumer reviews for the stickers are positive, some users complained about discrepancies in color and size.

In China, the color gold symbolizes wealth, and Chinese view the metal as a valuable asset to hold. That explains why Chinese consumers are so passionate about the gold-colored iPhone 5S. Chinese media have called the new iPhone color "Tuhao Jin" or "local tyrant's gold", referring to the phone as a new status symbol.

It's not the worst business idea I've seen, but don't expect to find these stickers showing up at your local Apple retail store anytime soon, if ever.


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog

Tackk Raises $1.2M For Its Content Creation Tools

Tackk, which offers tools for creating content that combines text, images, audio and video, is coming out of beta today and announcing that it has raised $1.2 million in a second round of seed funding.

If the premise sounds a bit general, well, it is. When I wrote about Tackk a year ago, the company described the content that users could create as “e-fliers” — the online equivalent of the fliers that you’d see pinned on the bulletin boards of neighborhood coffee shops. That was pretty broad already, but when I spoke to CEO Christopher Celeste about the funding, he said his goal is to build a “universal content creation tool.”

There were two big advantages for Tackk that Celeste and the company’s co-founder Eric Brockmuller touted in our conversation. First, there’s the simplicity — using the Tackk template, it shouldn’t take much work or expertise to combine different types of media in a non-ugly way. Second, Tackk doesn’t force users to be “locked in” with all of their media stuck on a single network. Users don’t need to create a Tackk account to create a Tackk, and they can post their content to social networks, as well download the content as a PDF.

Since launching a year ago, Tackk says it has received 700,000 unique visitors (despite minimal marketing), and its users have used the platform to create photo journals, Craigslist postings, recipes, real estate listings, and more. You can see featured Tackk content here.

Brockmuller told me that Tackk was originally built to serve solely as a content creation platform, but it has added social features since then, like profiles and the ability to follow other users. Celeste said this allows Tackk to address both the creation and the consumption of content, but he added, “We’re not trying to create a Tackk social network. We want to empower people with the ability to tag and organize their content so that they can push it out for discovery.”

The new funding was led by ff Venture Capital, with participation from previous investors Hatch Partners and Drummond Road Capital. Celeste (who joined Tackk from Hatch) said that one of the appealing things about working with ff is that the partners aren’t forcing Tackk to specialize: “They know how to be patient with an early-stage play like this.”

via TechCrunch

TechCrunch Is Coming Your Way, Boston

As TechCrunch powers through the major tech hubs of the world we’ve consistently missed Boston. That’s about to change. I’m pleased to announce our second Boston meetup on November 13, 2013, at the Estate, 1 Boylston Pl .

These meetups offer you guys the chance to hang out with TechCrunch writers and editors and take part in our pitch-offs, contests that allow start-ups from all over the world to compete to win a table at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York or San Francisco. The meetup will cost $5 to attend and include booze and lots of networking.

You can buy tickets here and we will open submissions for the pitch-offs later this month. You can read more about the event here.

Participants interested in competing in the pitch-off will have 60 seconds to explain why their startup is awesome. These products must currently be in stealth or private beta. We also offer Office Hours during our visit to your city. Office Hours are for companies selected for the Pitch-off, these 15 minute 1 on 1 talks will be held on the day of the event. We’ll hear about your company, give feedback, and talk about the best pitch strategy for the 60-second rapid-fire competition. Think of us as Adam Levine on The Voice. More information on Office Hours will follow in a post on TechCrunch.

We will have 3-5 judges, including TechCrunch writers and local VC’s, who will decide on the winners of the Pitch-off. First place will receive a table in Start Up Alley at the upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt. Second Place will receive 2 tickets to the upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt. Third Place will receive 1 ticket to the upcoming TechCrunch Disrupt.

If you have any questions you can email and if you’d like to sponsor the event drop the folks at a line. We’re looking forward to rolling into Boston and hope to see you there!

via TechCrunch

Google Analytics For Android Gets Card-Based UI, New Visualizations And Improved Real-Time Reporting

If it’s a Google product and it’s on mobile, it’s getting a card-based user interface. The latest product to get this treatment is Google Analytics for Android. With today’s update, though, the app isn’t just getting a new look. It’s also getting a slew of new features based on feedback Google received from the 700,000 users who have already downloaded it.

In addition to the card-based UI, Google added a few other design-centric features, including its standard slide-out side navigation bar. This update also introduces new visualizations for your stats that automatically resize to fit your screen size and orientation. On a small screen, Google argues, users can quickly become overwhelmed with too much information, so with this update, all the relevant metrics are now spread out over multiple cards so users can get an overview of what’s happening on their sites and then drill down deeper as needed.

mobile-app-3 As for features, the app now puts a stronger emphasis on real-time data, a feature Analytics first introduced in 2011 but only really started to emphasize over the last few months. The app now also supports Analytics’ Advanced Segments for isolating and analyzing specific types of traffic (say visitors from users who also recently purchased something from your online store) and presents an overview screen for each one of your Analytics reports that allows you to drill down deeper into your most relevant stats to get a closer look at your data.

The app now also allows users to access both web and app reporting views so, as Google notes, “you can keep track of all of your important data with reports that are optimized for whatever device you’re using, ensuring a beautiful and intuitive experience.”

Google developed the app using the Google Tag Manager for Mobile Apps, which allows developers to make small changes to their installed apps on the fly without having users download a new version of the app. Because of this, the Google App team says, it will be able to quickly add new reports and visualizations to the app without having to update it.


via TechCrunch

Need To Print Teeny-Weenie Things? The LumiFold Has You Covered

I never thought I’d see the day when someone would find a reason to build a wee tiny foldable 3D printer that can make things about as big as a few matchboxes. This printer, called the LumiFold, is a 3D printer with a build envelope of 90x90x90mm and uses UV sensitive resin to print fairly high-quality objects in a few minutes.


I personally am at a loss to explain why exactly you’d want a portable, small-format 3D printer but I’m sure someone out there can set me straight. The creators are looking for a teeny-weenie $1,500 to fund the project and they’re selling the printer for $429. You can also buy parts kits for a bit less.

The creator, Marin Davide of Italy, explains his reasoning thusly:

It was first designed when a customer asked for a small, portable 3D printer that he wanted ot use for printing dentals molds. He wanted the printer to be cheap and easy to use too. We started developing the LumiFold, and after some months of designing, building prototypes, going back to design again we came up with the current design of the LumiFold. And it proved to be so good, we decided to launch a crowdfounding campaign to provide everyone interested a cheap, portable and easy to use 3d printer!

If television has taught us anything it’s that it takes different strokes to move the world. That said, this compact little resin printer seems to be filling a niche I never knew existed. Portable 3D printers could help designers build prototypes in the field and artists to create projects on the fly. It could also be a way to build replacement parts far from a machine shop. The possibilities, while beguiling, are endless.

via TechCrunch

To Put Its Listening Rooms On More Platforms, Soundrop Picks Up $3.4M Led By Spotify Investor Northzone

Norwegian startup Soundrop first made its name as an app on Spotify, tapping into the streaming platform’s catalog to create real-time group listening rooms that were popular places for Spotify users to congregate for more social listening experiences. But as Spotify itself has become a more social platform by default, Soundrop is expanding what it does, and where it does it. Today, it is today announcing a $3.4 million round of funding — led by none other than Spotify’s lead investor, Northzone — that it wants to use to turn up the volume on its growth to more platforms beyond Spotify and into more areas beyond simple listening rooms.

In addition to Northzone, Norwegian-government-back Investinor also participated. Northzone also led the previous $3 million round in the company last year.

The news comes at the same time that another listening room service,, is also expanding its focus, in its case from listening rooms into shared live music experiences online.

Inge Sandvik, the CEO and co-founder of Soundrop, tells me that while Spotify is currently the only music platform where Soundrop has an app, in the coming weeks this is due to grow. As for where Soundrop apps might appear in future, think about other music streaming platforms such as Deezer that also offer app stores as one likely port of call. Another could be other kinds of streaming services that may operate more around video rather than audio; Soundrop already offers an integration with YouTube on its standalone service for its web app at, its Facebook integrations and its standalone apps for iOS and Android.

While it makes sense that Soundrop will expand to be used in more places as a way of capturing more users, on the other this is quite a change for a company that started out at first working very closely with just one: not only was Spotify its first platform, but the two share an investor, and for a while Soundrop was actually working out of Spotify’s offices.

As Soundrop looks to expand its scope to more platforms, so too, is the focus of the app changing somewhat. “We are quite tired of talking about ‘music discovery,’” Sandvik told me. “That is a crowded space and everyone wants to solve music discovery.”

So, Soundrop is gravitating to where it has seen not just a lot of interest from users, but from labels on the business side, too — specifically in the creation of rooms dedicated to specific artists. Those who have created rooms on Soundrop include Imagine Dragons, Robin Thicke, Zedd, Owl City and some 130 others. The most successful of these are not trivial: Universal Music’s DJs Sebastian Ingrosso & Alesso picked up 28 million OTS users (a traffic metric standing for “opportunities to see”) after heavy marketing from both Universal and Spotify.

“Labels see us as a promotional platform,” Sandvik told me, noting that this is also where the company is generating the most revenues today, too. “We have seen that our artist events have been growing a lot. We are doing artist events almost every day now and several per day and we think we can scale this up quite a lot. This will again drive up their market share where music has been licensed and their revenue will grow.”

That is not to say that larger user-generated listening rooms are disappearing but they will increasingly be complemented by these artist-specific or label-specific rooms. “Music discovery and engaging a crowd is living in symbioses,” he said. “We think we are very well positioned to help out in both areas, but we think we need to focus on what tools we can give artists to amplify themselves when they are aiming to create a engaging relationship with listeners.”

At a time when Spotify is still looking for the magic formula to turn its popularity with consumers into a profitable enterprise, it’s interesting to see Soundrop making a sharp turn to services that, while popular, are also squarely aimed at revenue generation effectively as a music marketing platform. This is one of the reasons that Northzone re-invested. “In the year since Northzone invested in Soundrop, the company has had a focus on product development and tight integration with Spotify,” noted Torleif Ahlsand, General Partner in Northzone and Chairman of Soundrop’s Board of Directors. “Now that the product has reached a new level of maturity, the company is ready to take its next steps. It feels so very right to bring Investinor in to provide additional rocket fuel. With the product well-established, Soundrop is now in pole position to drive revenue and growth in 2014.”

via TechCrunch

AOL preps TV commercial for its new ‘Gathr’ bundled subscription service

The last time I remember an AOL television commercial was probably when their dialup business was still marketing itself by sending out CDs through snail mail. Soon, however, the company is planning to return to the small screen with a multi-plaform advertising campaign for its new service Gathr, according to AllThingsD.

Gathr, which launched in beta testing earlier this year, is attempting to bundle lots of different premium services into a single subscription that you can customize and add on to. For example, a bundle might consist of deals from LivingSocial, the ad-free music offering from Pandora (Pandora One), five RedBox one-night DVD rentals, and more. Initially, there are six pre packaged bundles that range in price from $15 to $30.

It’s an interesting move for AOL to push this service, because it does have a rather successful history in the subscription service business. It’s dialup subscriptions — while nearly useless at this point (when considering the amount of free options available, anyways) — still generates a good chunk of revenue for the company. If AOL can manage to jump start a subscription bundle service it can continue making this a viable part of the business.

As for the TV commercials, AOL plans to advertise Gathr in only three major markets (Seattle, Philadelphia, and Atlanta), for now. The commercials are tentatively schedule to start airing later this fall.

via VentureBeat

Facebook expands Graph Search to statuses and posts

While Facebook has worked very hard to perfect real-time news for friends in the Newsfeed and big-picture past events in the Timeline, granular details of past activity on the social media site are very difficult to pick out. Trying to find a specific status message or wall post can involve endless scrolling chronologically through the timeline — not necessarily the most efficient of methods.

But the social media giant has finally solved that today, announcing an expansion of Graph Search to include posts and status updates.

Facebook’s Graph Search debuted to a limited number of users in January, but only rolled out to all English-speaking U.S. customers in July. The current system relies on a proprietary algorithm that allows users to search for people and topics directly from their search bar, like “People who went to Yale University.” Results are not only based on information given by friends, but also any publicly available information on the site. Graph search has thus far been limited to user-listed information, comments, check-ins and photo captions.


With expanded Graph Search users will be able to search for topics that friends and other users on Facebook are discussing, like “The Superbowl,” as well as conversations from period of time, like “Posts by my friends from 2010.” The former search will likely be a boon for marketers, who will be able to use Graph Search to take an inside peek into brand conversations and sentiments.

A spokesperson for Facebook said a select few users will be able to access the features today, but most will have to wait patiently for the new functionality, in keeping with its usual launch policy.

via GigaOM

Spotify app Soundrop nabs another $3.4 million in funding

Soundrop, the Spotify app turned collaborative listening platform, has secured another $3.4 million in funding from Northzone and Investinor. Soundrop offers Spotify users listening rooms that can best be described as a mix of and Reddit. The Norwegian startup was the first maker of a Spotify app to receive funding back in June of 2012, and has since launched listening rooms on Facebook and the web as well.

via GigaOM

Dropbox can now automatically save your screenshots when you take them, and import photos from iPhoto

Dropbox today added a nifty feature for all its desktop users: support for automatic uploading of screenshots. At the same time, the company has added an iPhoto import tool for its Mac users.

The first addition means all the screenshots you take can be automatically saved to your Dropbox account. Furthermore, Dropbox will also create a link to your screenshot and copy it to your clipboard.

This means that your picture is instantly available for sharing online. This should be useful for anyone who takes screenshots on a regular basis and wants to avoid the hassle of pasting, saving, and then uploading them.

margoscreenshots Dropbox can now automatically save your screenshots when you take them, and import photos from iPhoto

The downside to all this is if you want to crop the screenshot or edit it in some way before you upload it. For those cases, you’ll want to disable this feature as Dropbox will just get in the way of your “screenshotting” process.

As for Dropbox users on OS X, today’s Dropbox update also includes an importer that copies your photos from iPhoto directly to your Dropbox. Here’s the prompt to look for:

iPhoto splash Dropbox can now automatically save your screenshots when you take them, and import photos from iPhoto

This is a good way to back up all your snaps, as well as have them handy for sharing. It’s of course entirely optional, so if you already have them backed up elsewhere and want to use your Dropbox storage for just files, you can.

Both these new features, which shouldn’t surprised you if you read TNW, are minor ones with a potentially big impact. If you take advantage of either of them, chances are you’ll end up using Dropbox a lot more, which is of course exactly what the company hopes you’ll do.

See also – The Dropbox Platform arrives to ‘replace the hard drive’ with a sync API, a ‘universal file picker’, and more and Dropbox gives users 1GB of extra space just for linking their account with Mailbox

Photo credit: Thinkstock

via The Next Web

Yahoo beefs up account security by launching temporary passwords for its Android and iOS apps

Yahoo today announced yet another layer of security for its users: app passwords for Android and iOS. The new feature means you can control who has access to your apps even when your mobile device is lost or stolen.

Yahoo describes an App Password as a temporary password that you can enter into its native Android and iOS apps “for added protection” and thus authorize a device to access them. A new temporary password is created for each app and device.

tumblr inline mtyfckTbm81qhxx5s 1 Yahoo beefs up account security by launching temporary passwords for its Android and iOS apps

To enable the feature, go into your Yahoo account settings, turn on second sign-in verification, and generate a one-time app password. Next, enter the password in your mobile app, and your device will be permanently logged-in.

If you misplace your device, you can easily revoke access to each individual app and device from the settings page. This means whoever finds your device will be locked out of your Yahoo apps even though you left them logged-in.

yahoo app passwords Yahoo beefs up account security by launching temporary passwords for its Android and iOS apps

This also means you don’t have to change your Yahoo password when you lose your device, unless of course you forgot to logout of your account in the browser. That being said, you should probably change your password as often as possible.

If you’re as annoyed with Yahoo’s small screenshots as we are, you’ll like this YouTube video for explaining the new feature a bit better:

While temporary app passwords aren’t perfect (they require quite a bit of setup time that most users simply don’t have) but they’re certainly a move in the right direction. Yahoo needs to make improvements like this one as its security track record, especially when it comes to its email accounts, is abysmal.

See also – Yahoo Mail users quietly given HTTPS security option following pressure from privacy advocates and Despite its efforts to fix vulnerabilities, Yahoo’s Mail users continue reporting hacking incidents

Top Image Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

via The Next Web

How carbon nanotubes could lead to more reliable speakers

New speakers developed at China’s Tsinghua University create sound by warming and cooling air instead of producing vibrations, potentially leading to speakers that break less and can be incorporated into nearly any surface.

Traditional speakers, such as headphones, have moving parts that produce vibrations to create sound. More moving parts means more opportunities for something to break. The Tsinghua researchers instead turned to 100-year-old knowledge of the thermoacoustic effect, which uses a conductor material like carbon nanotubes to heat and cool the surrounding air to create sound waves.

Carbon nanotubes, which are made of rolled up sheets of carbon atoms, are excellent conductors. With other materials, it would be impossible to produce enough of the thermoacoustic effect to get quality sound.

Chemical & Engineering News reports that Tsinghua researchers first developed nanotube speakers in 2008, when they incorporated a film of carbon nanotubes into a flag, turning it into a flexible speaker. But the device quickly overheated, leaving it inoperable.

They have now overcome the heat problem by manufacturing a silicon chip that contains grooves. The nanotubes rest on top of the grooves, which allow heat to escape. A pair of carbon nanotube headphones they made has now lasted a year without overheating.

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 10.54.31 AM The researchers say the chips could be manufactured in a facility similar to where computer chips are currently made, cutting down on cost. But further work needs to be done on manufacturing carbon nanotubes on a mass scale at an affordable price. Researchers are already experimenting with unusual techniques, such as building nanotubes with carbon atoms recycled from plastic bags.

via GigaOM

Bye-bye, MSN TV: Microsoft finally shuts down online TV pioneer

Online television just lost a pioneer — and hardly anyone noticed: On Monday, Microsoft finally pulled the plug on its long-sidelined MSN TV service. The shutdown puts and end to a service that launched in 1996 under the name WebTV, at the time promising to use the TV as a way to connect the masses to the internet.

On the MSN TV website, Microsoft explained the closure this way:

“WebTV (later called MSN TV) started in 1996 with the goal to bring new people “online” and to give those already online an easy, hassle-free means of accessing the internet from the comfort of their homes. Later, MSN TV 2 was released with vastly greater power and features. Since then, the web has continued to evolve at a breathtaking pace, and there are many new ways to access the internet. Accordingly, we have made the difficult decision to end the MSN TV service …”

WebTV was founded in 1995 by Steve Perlman, who later went on to found the cloud gaming service Onlive. The company launched its service in 1996, offering consumers a dedicated set-top box that connected their TV screen via dial-up to the internet. In 1997, the startup was bought by Microsoft for $425 million, and the service was eventually rebranded as MSN TV in 2001.

MSN TV received a refresh and slightly updated hardware with the roll-out of MSN TV 2 in 2004, offering subscribers access to email, messaging, a simple web browser and some online video content through their TV.

However, the hardware was underpowered, and Microsoft’s attention quickly shifted to other platforms, including game consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is already primarily used as a media consumption device, and the company wants to double down on the delivery of TV and video services with the Xbox One, which is going to start shipping in November.

via GigaOM

Straight Talk confirms its “unlimited plan” is throttled after 2.5 GB per month

Straight Talk has long advertised its mobile broadband service as unlimited even though customers often bumped against a limit. Liliputing notes that the company has clarified the details of its $45 monthly plan, which uses airwaves it buys from AT&T and T-Mobile, saying there’s a 2.5 GB monthly data cap: Exceed that and you’ll be relegated to 2G speeds for the remainder of your plan month.

It’s nice to see Straight Talk confirm the caps and even better to see it actively educating customers on how much data different activities use; on an explanation page, the company says you can listen to 88 hours of Pandora or view nearly 35,000 emails before you’ve used up your 2.5 GB allotment.

Even with the cap, the deal isn’t a bad one. After personally switching my phone service over to Straight Talk’s month-to-month plans in 2012, I explained how it can help you dump the larger carriers and save some money. Straight Talk became a little more attractive earlier this month when it added support for AT&T’s LTE network.

For the $45 per month, you also get unlimited voice calls and text messages, so if you can live with 2.5 GB of high-speed data a month, it may be worth the look. Since the service works on AT&T or T-Mobile — depending on the plan you choose — you’ll get the same coverage you would by being a direct customer of the carrier.

via GigaOM

Surgeon Simulator may hack away on iPad in 2014

Developers of the surprise hit Surgeon Simulator 2013 are currently working on a tablet version that could see release in 2014, Joystiq reports. The game -- which gives players the chance to operate on patients using intentionally sketchy controls -- became an overnight hit in 2013 and eventually found its way to Steam via the Greenlight program.

It's unclear at this time whether a tablet iteration would simply attempt to replicate the existing procedures offered by the Steam version, or if new surgeries would be included -- tooth pulling, for example. Joystiq's Sinan Kubba saw a version of the game running on an iPad firsthand, but it's still a toss-up whether tablet gamers will actually get a chance to play it. If developer Bossa Studios decides to move forward, the game will likely see release sometime in 2014.


via TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog