Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Latest from TechCrunch

The Latest from TechCrunch

Link to TechCrunch

Rooted MotoACTV Brings Web Browsing And Angry Birds To Your Wrist

Posted: 25 Dec 2011 07:06 AM PST


Fitness watches are one thing, but how about a fitness watch that lets you play a few levels of Angry Birds in between wind sprints? Motorola’s MotoACTV debuted alongside the Droid RAZR not too long ago, and one developer has finally taken it upon itself to unleash its full potential.

The hack comes courtesy of developer Chris Wade, whose past endeavors include the Dingleberry PlayBook root method and the (ill-fated) iEmu project. While he’s best known for his software projects, he’s quite the hardware buff too — before working getting to work on a root process, he felt the need to tear the thing apart first.

Unlike some of the other Android-powered watches we’ve seen pop up in recent months, the MotoACTV actually sports a half-decent spec sheet. During the teardown, Wade found a 600 MHz OMAP 3630 processor and 256 MB of RAM, which provides enough oomph to handle nearly everything Wade threw at it. After he managed to finagle the Honeycomb launcher and Market access onto the little guy (check the video below), the end result was a compelling lilliputian Android tablet.

I’ve got to admit — I always thought that the idea of a fitness-focused Android watch would be a tough sell, but between Motorola’s recent updates and Wade’s new root method, the MotoACTV is shaping up to be a pretty tempting buy for fans of wearable tech.

If you already own a MotoACTV and you’re itching to make your MotoACTV all that it can be, Wade has posted a tutorial for rooting the device on his site. Happy hacking!

Need A Last Minute Gift? There’s A Subscription For That

Posted: 25 Dec 2011 12:28 AM PST


Brit Morin is the Founder and CEO of Brit, a new company focused on providing people with innovative ideas, software, and products for creative living.

Subscription services have been around for more than a century. Generations before us were the first to enjoy subscriptions to magazines, newspapers, and more. As a kid, I even remember being forced to go door-to-door to sell subscriptions for wrapping paper. (Side note: Who really needs a monthly subscription to wrapping paper?)

Only in the past several years has our friend, the Internet, disrupted the traditional subscription model of the media monoliths, forcing them to think about new ways to offer online subscriptions as well as free versions of their content. In doing so, more and more new companies began to see the opportunity to apply the subscription model in unique ways to Internet businesses. But, it wasn’t until 2011 that light bulbs went off across the industry – today, there are subscription service options for everything from monthly beauty supplies to dog toys.

And so far, the economics of these new models still seem quite lucrative. Subscription service companies are able to strike deals with manufacturers, distributors, or wholesalers and then spend a small amount on packaging and distribution for the [fill-in-the-blank] box of goods. In exchange, their customers offer to pay a recurring fee, typically starting at $10/month and up.

It’s a powerful model, which is why we’re seeing so many companies doing it. As a personal subscriber to at least a handful of these types of services, I can also testify that I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth as a customer. Even better, I’ve found that gifting a subscription is one of the easiest and longest-lasting gifts I could give to a friend. In fact, I’ve already purchased nearly a dozen subscriptions for friends and family this Christmas. There’s no wrapping involved, and you can buy at the very last-minute – that’s my kind of gift.

So, if you are searching for your very own last-minute holiday gift, why not try a subscription? Below is a round-up of my personal favorites, along with some of the most interesting options out there.

Craft Coffee – $20/month – Three 5-cup samples of coffee from various artisan roasters around the country.
Steepster Select – $17/month – The Craft Coffee of the tea world, get three samples of hand-selected teas each month.
Foodzie – $30/month – A quality tasting box full of small batch, artisanal food products.
Healthy Surprise – $49/month – An assortment of 18+ healthy treats – a package big enough to last as your "snack cabinet" for the entire month.
Lollihop – $68/3-month – Similar to Healthy Surprise, Lollihop offers at least 8 healthy, organic snacks delivered each month.
CSA (Community Supported Aggriculture) – $ Varies – Just plug in your zip code to see which nearby farms offer monthly or weekly food subscriptions. A popular way to get fresh food while also giving back to your local farmers.
Culture Kitchen – $98/3-month – All of the hard-to-find ingredients and instructions for preparing a different authentic ethnic cuisine each month.
Bacon of the Month Club – $99/6-month – As featured in one of our Brit Gift Guides, the title says it all on this one.

Birchbox – $10/month – A collection of 4-6 monthly beauty samples, with options to buy full-sized versions on the site.
BeautyFix – $50/season – Full-sized beauty products selected to match your personal beauty profile, delivered every 3-months.
Joliebox – €13/month – The Birchbox of Europe.
Panty by Post – $55/3-month – Marketed as "a pretty panty, mailed monthly," this is one that all dads should NOT think to get their daughters.
Manpacks – $ Varies – A subscription to all the things that men often seem to forget to buy themselves, including undershirts, boxers, and socks.
UmbaBox – $26/month – A monthly variety of accessories, jewelry and homegoods.
Put This On – $45/bi-monthly- A subscription to hand-selected pocket squares for the bespoke gentlemen.
TrunkClub – $ Varies – Your own virtual personal stylist will shop and send you men's apparel. Try it all on and send back whatever you don't want to purchase. Sorry gals, this one is for the boys only.

Netflix – $8/month – Give them the gift of unlimited streaming video (especially great if they own devices like Google TV or Roku).
Spotify Premium – $10/month – No ads, higher bit rates, and offline services are just a few of the pro features of Spotify's premium subscription service.
Pandora – $36/year – The world's most popular Internet radio service; with their innovative Music Genome technology, Pandora helps you discover new music you will love by creating personalized radio streams for you from the artists and songs you already love.
Hulu Plus – $10/month – A much more affordable TV solution, Hulu Plus gives you monthly access to some of the most popular TV and movies, watchable online or via many other streaming devices, with limited advertising.
MoviePass – $50/month – Unlimited movies in theaters nationwide. The service was banned earlier this year but re-launched a few months ago, much to consumer delight.
Amazon Prime – $79/year – This service has changed my life. With free 2-day shipping or $4 overnight delivery on most items, I hardly ever have to go shopping in real life anymore.
Dropbox – $10/month – Dropbox is by far the easiest and best way to back-up and store all of your data in the cloud. This invite link will get you 250MB for free (and, full disclosure, will also up my own storage).
Digital News – $15+/month – Gift subscriptions to digital access for the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Or, if you read other news sites, I'm sure you can Google yourself the subscription link to their own purchase page.

Kiwi Crate – $20/month – A monthly craft kit for kids 3-6 years old.
The Quarterly – $25/quarter – Curated gifts from influencers you care about, every 3-months.
TaskRabbit – $ Varies – Give the gift of a helping hand. Your giftee can set up their own recurring subscription to the service. I personally use TaskRabbit for bi-weekly grocery delivery services.
Flowers of the Month – $ Varies – Not nearly as innovative as some of the others, but an obvious choice for any woman in your life.
Tattly – $60/6-months – Great for kids (or those who will always be kids at heart), Tattly's subscription service offers eight high quality, non-permanent tattoos each month.
Barkbox – $25/month – As a new puppy owner, this is the one service I'm most excited about. Each month, my dog, Pixel, will receive his own box of treats and goodies to play with, making for much less boredom (and therefore, less furniture destruction) around the house.

Whether you get them a beauty fix, news fix, or puppy fix – know that you’re getting them a gift that (literally) keeps on giving.

Am I missing any subscription services that you think should be on the list? Tweet me or leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to check it out.

Image:  Ariwasabi via Shutterstock

In Today’s Competitive VC Holiday Video Climate, Better Step Up Your Game Scale Venture

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 09:31 PM PST

Screen Shot 2011-12-24 at 9.40.47 PM

The video above came to me in a message from an entrepreneur, “FRC does an awesome holiday video — and this is what Scale Venture sends out …”

I thought perhaps he/she was being unfair, and then clicked on the link: Snowflakes! Mittens! “Wishing you a sparkling holiday season” in Helvetica! What is this, 1998?

Okay I get it, you were just trying to do something nice around the holidays (Bah humbug!) but seriously Scale (can I call you Scale?), it’s 2012. When you’ve got First Round Capital and Techstars and who knows who else producing holiday vids worthy of Hollywood, you can’t just throw down some clip art snowflakes and call it a day.

At least change the file name to something other than … My point is I’m expecting a lot more from you guys next year — CGI? A Ryan Gosling cameo? Sound? I don’t know, get creative.

Merry Christmas! (Or whatever else you celebrate, or don’t)

Why Hasn’t Safari Skyrocketed Like Chrome Has?

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 05:05 PM PST


The past few days, there’s been a lot of talk about web browsers. The report that Google will be paying Mozilla close to one billion dollars over the next three years to ensure that their search engine remains the default for Firefox is fascinating for a few reasons. The biggest is that Google now makes a Firefox competitor, Chrome. And it got me thinking about Safari.

Remember Safari?

While Chrome has skyrocketed from 0 percent market share in August 2008 to over 25 percent last month, Apple’s web browser lingers somewhere between 5 and 8 percent, depending on what numbers you look at. While its growth seemed to stall out in late 2008/early 2009, Safari has been growing again since then. But it has been at a very slow, methodical pace compared to the Google browser.

Given the fact that both browsers are based on WebKit — a layout engine which was born out of Apple — why hasn’t it been Safari that has taken off, instead of Chrome?

The easy answer that most people jump to is Windows. Microsoft’s OS is still by far the dominant one even with record Mac sales quarter after quarter. But while Safari is usually associated with the Mac (since it’s baked into OS X), it has actually been available for Windows quite a bit longer than Chrome has been.

Safari for Windows was unveiled in beta in June 2007. It was formally released in March 2008. Chrome wasn’t unveiled until September of that year. Incidentally, it was Windows-only at the time. But it took Google’s browser just a year to surpass Safari in market share.

So if it wasn’t Windows, what else led to Chrome’s rise?

Another thing people often point to is speed. A number of benchmarks point to Chrome being the fastest browser available in terms of both page rendering and JavaScript performance.

But remember too that when Safari for Windows was announced, several of the same tests showed that it was the fastest browser available for both Macs and PCs (remember, Chrome didn’t exist yet). If this was just about speed, shouldn’t Safari have taken off starting in June 2007 similar to the way that Chrome did in September 2008?

On the flip side, most users throughout the years have complained that Safari for Windows more or less sucks. It’s been a long while since I’ve used it myself, but I recall it being somewhere between Firefox and Internet Explorer in terms of practical performance (that is, how fast it actually feels when using it, tests be damned). But Apple has continued to iterate on it and the latest version, 5.1, is still available on both platforms.

Others point to Google itself as the reason for Chrome’s rise compared to Safari. It’s true that Google does quite a bit of promotion for their browser, including on every once in a while. But it’s hard to imagine that being a bigger advantage then either IE or Safari which are both baked into Windows and OS X respectively. To get Chrome, a user still has to download something (unless they’re using Chrome OS — but if that’s the case, they’re already probably going to be using Chrome on their other machines). I would imagine that most IE and Safari users don’t download their browser, they use it because it’s the default that comes pre-installed on their machines.

Plus, Safari being bundled by default with iTunes for a time should have helped it gain massive Windows market share. But it would appear that many people downloading it simply weren’t using it.

Maybe it’s extensions that give Chrome the advantage? Maybe, but Safari has had them as well since mid-2010. Sure, Chrome’s extensions are better and much more plentiful, but if that is all that was holding Safari back, developers probably would have stepped up their game there. Plus, Firefox had extensions way before either Chrome or Safari and while they undoubtedly helped grow that browser, it’s also shrinking now in the face of Chrome.

With the launch of OS X Lion, it seemed as if Safari might be poised for a bit of a renaissance. Because the default controls were inverted, third-party software like Chrome was largely broken to begin with on the new OS. Safari also offered features like better multi-touch support and Reading List (which syncs between iOS and OS X Lion) which rivals didn’t match. But with a few months of data in, it looks like the Safari growth is still the same slow and methodical variety, likely rising simply as more Macs are sold.

Given the rise of mobile, it would seem that the massive usage mobile Safari is seeing might help Safari on desktops/laptops too. But again, the numbers don’t really suggest that. Safari is growing, but slowly. Meanwhile Chrome, which isn’t actually a part of Android — not yet, anyway — is skyrocketing without any sort of mobile presence.

Personally, I’m a Chrome user myself. I’ve tried a few times to use Safari as my primary browser (most recently with the OS X Lion upgrade), but I always end up switching back. To me, it’s still about practical performance. Things like: with a dozen or more tabs open, Chrome seems to perform in a way that Safari cannot.

Plus, I can’t live without the URL/Search Omnibox that Chrome offers. And I’m addicted to “pinned” tabs (browser tabs I always have open and are shoved to the left and shrunken down, out of the way from general tabbed web browsing).

It has been nearly 9 years since Safari was first formally introduced on stage by Steve Jobs at Macworld 2003. It has steadily improved and grown market share, but the rise of Chrome in less than half of that time has made Safari look a bit silly.

Of course, that could all change rather quickly if devices like the iPad really are the future of general purpose computing. On mobile devices in general, there’s no question in my mind right now that mobile Safari is ahead of what Google is doing. That’s why it’s odd that the opposite is true on more traditional computers.

And it’s not entirely clear why. Some point to Apple neglect — since the App Store has been such a phenomenon, they’re more inclined to throw resources at native work rather than web work, is the basic argument — but again, given the state of mobile Safari versus the other mobile web browsers, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It could simply be that Google’s Chrome team is really good at what they do, and nailed it from the get go. Good things happen to good products.

The Top 30 Android Apps And Games Of 2011

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 03:15 PM PST


Editor's note: Contributor Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of mobile app discovery services Appolicious, AndroidApps and AppVee. After having looked into the best iOS apps and games of 2011, Spirrison now turns his attention to the best Android apps of the year.

Android apps come in all shapes and sizes – literally.

Unlike iOS applications, which are basically created for two form factors, Android apps need to be developed with dozens (if not hundreds) of device-types in mind. This is on top of the inconsistent operating system releases still mucking things up. While all of this fragmentation is a headache for developers, ignoring a platform with 50 percent market share would ultimately lead to their peril.

The best Android apps are thus the ones that can both push the technological envelope while also remaining accessible to the vast majority of users. This is no easy feat.

We divided our list of the best 30 Android apps into four distinct categories. The top ten apps come from third-party developers, and, if not exclusive to Android, were created primarily for the platform. Additional sections include the best new or significantly updated apps from Google, as well as the best apps and games that appeared first on iOS but later arrived to Android in 2011.

As is the case with our lists of best iOS apps and games of 2011, hundreds of additional titles are worthy of consideration. Our top 30 showcase the growth and maturation of Android apps over the last year. They are also worthy downloads.

1. Any.DO: To Do List | Task List (full AndroidApps review)

Funded by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Any.DO is the best productivity and to-do application tailored specifically for Android devices. The app's elegant interface is optimized to limit actual typing through voice-driven commands. Users can swipe each task when complete, and shake their phones to clear them from the screen. The app also offers (mostly) seamless integration with Google accounts.


2. Lightbox – Photos & Effects (full AndroidApps review)

More than just an Instagram for Android, Lightbox offers features like photo journals and the ability to arrange pictures by personal timelines that make it unique and, to some, indispensable. The app's stunning visual display and compatibility on multiple Android devices set the standard moving forward for photo-sharing apps on the platform.


3. Amazon MP3 (full AndroidApps review)

Along with Google Music (see below), Amazon MP3 is the best way for an Android smartphone and tablet owner to kick an iTunes habit. The app provides access to a library of nearly 20 million songs, 5GB of free storage, and reliable offline listening. Subscriptions to Amazon's Cloud Drive service start at a reasonable $20/year for 20GB of storage, but you can store as much of your own music as you like with that subscription.


4. AirDroid (full AndroidApps review)

Android devices offer so many customization features that sometimes using a larger screen, mouse and full-sized keyboard will help you get the most out of your smartphone or tablet device. This free app lets users operate their smartphones from a PC with a Wi-Fi connection. Additionally, AirDroid emphasizes privacy protection with password changes for each use.


5. SwiftKey X Keyboard (full AndroidApps review)

After launching a beta app last year, SwiftKey X arrived on Android smartphones and tablets in 2011. The app has larger keys as well as superior word and sentence prediction algorithms than what is typically found on Androids. SwiftKey also learns from previously typed emails and messages, and offers three color schemes to simplify the process and brighten things up.


6. Skitch (full AndroidApps review)

Acquired by Evernote, Skitch lets users annotate photos with sketches, images and words. The app has dead simple editing tools and the ability for users to draw with multi-colored crayons. Skitch is a great app for kids in addition to serving as a functional and unique photo-sharing service.


7. BlueStacks Cloud Connect (full AndroidApps review)

While still in Alpha, BlueStacks is demonstrating how Android applications can run on Windows-based PCs. The Android app works in concert with the Windows-based BlueStacks App Player to run mobile applications on PCs. The venture-backed company and application, which has attracted more than 500,000 early adopters since launch, expects to debut a Mac OS version in 2012.


8. Qello (full AndroidApps review)

Available as separate applications for Android smartphones and tablets, Qello offers a great catalog of high definition concerts (mostly rock, but with other genres sprinkled in). Users can sample the 500+ titles for free, or lease any of them on a weekly ($1.99) or monthly basis ($4.99).


9. AccuWeather for Honeycomb (full AndroidApps review)

Developed specifically for Honeycomb-based tablet devices, this all-inclusive weather application showcases the beauty and utility of Android on larger form factors. The Lifestyle section, which informs users on things like whether it is a good day for biking or bad day for allergies, is a nice humanized touch.


10. HD Widgets (full AndroidApps review)

Android is all about customization, and there is no better and more comprehensive widget app available than this one. Optimized for Android tablets and smartphones, HD Widgets is great for Android experts and first-timers alike. Users will also appreciate the "fanatical" customer service of the developers.


Here are the five best Android apps developed by Google that were released or received significant updates in 2011.

11. Google Currents (full AndroidApps review)

As long as Flipboard remains exclusive to iOS devices, this new release from Google serves as the premier news reader on Android smartphones and tablets. More of a fast and elegant aggregator than social magazine, Google Currents benefits from an organized layout and dead simple third-party publisher platform. There is also — shockingly — nice integration with Google+, including curated content from the likes of Robert Scoble and Guy Kawasaki.


12. Google+ (full AndroidApps review)

Google became a relevant player in social networking this year with the successful launch of Google+. While the service is also available as an iPhone app as well as a web app through BlackBerry, Windows and Symbian platforms, Google understandably treats its own platform as first among equals. Check-ins for business, for instance, rolled out first on the Android app.


13. Google Maps (full AndroidApps review)

A November update to this trailblazing application introduced indoor mapping functionality to mobile devices. Google Maps 6.0 helps users more easily navigate within airports, shopping malls and other locations where GPS technology is spotty.


14. Google Docs (full AndroidApps review)

While no mobile application matches the utility of Google Docs on a desktop or laptop, this official version for Android is pretty close. If you're a hardcore Google Docs user, this app will help you break free from your desk and still read and edit docs and spreadsheets on the fly.


15. Google Music (full AndroidApps review)

Like Amazon MP3 cited above, Google Music is a way for Android users to comfortably cut the cord (or cloud) on iTunes (at least on their mobile devices). The app lets users store up to 20,000 songs for free in the cloud, with a portion available for offline access.


These next 10 apps were initially released for iOS devices. They are included here for their utility, entertainment value and impact on the Android ecosystem.

16. Price Check by Amazon (full AndroidApps review)

When Amazon unveiled this price-comparison app to Android devices just before Black Friday, the company's retail Death Star became fully operational. Sure, Price Check was available to iPhone owners a year earlier, and there are similar apps across all major mobile platforms. But having an Android app gives Amazon critical mass in this category, and allows the company to (again) upend physical retail as we know it. This includes offering discounts to consumers on their phones during the point of comparison.


17. Netflix (full AndroidApps review)

There were a lot of things that Netflix did horribly wrong in 2011. Releasing a killer Android app for smartphones and tablet devices was not one of them. As Android tablets become ready for prime time and more plausibly compete against the iPad, entertainment apps like Netflix will flourish.


18. SoundTracking (full AndroidApps review)

The most innovative music detection and discovery app of the year finally arrived to Android in December. SoundTracking not only identifies a song a user is listening to, but shares it with Facebook, Twitter and foursquare friends and followers. The advantage of the Android app, relative to the iOS version which launched earlier this year, is that users with Spotify and Rdio can listen to entire tracks (as opposed to 30-second snippets from iTunes).


19. Hipmunk Flight Search (full AndroidApps review)

Hipmunk differentiates from the run-of-the-mill flight search applications by predicting how painful your traveling might be. The app's "Agony Index" takes into account factors beyond price including flight duration, Wi-Fi access and other variables. Once users choose the least painful flight, the app accommodates direct booking and provides access to third-party services.


20. Fooducate Shopping Scanner (full AndroidApps review)

This app translates nutritional information found on food packaging into plain English, and offers a letter grade as to how healthy or harmful an item can be. The app offers comprehensive coverage of both mainstream brands and niche delicacies via the scanning of barcodes. Best of all? The app suggests healthier, similar alternatives to the worst offenders.


21. Marvel Comics (full AndroidApps review)

Reading classic comics within this app works on virtually any size Android screen — which is no easy feat. Marvel Comics also offers panel-by-panel viewing that features beautiful art and more legible word balloons. While most titles require a subscription, there are an ample amount of classic comics available for free.


22. Syncplicity (full AndroidApps review)

For digitally promiscuous users who store and share files on multiple devices and operating systems powered by Android, iOS and Windows, Syncplicity is a useful way to manage libraries found within all of them. Unlike many cloud-based alternatives, Syncplicity uses encryption to secure files.


23. Starbucks (full AndroidApps review)

After launching initially on iOS and BlackBerry smartphones, the official Starbucks app finally arrived on Android earlier this year. Better late than never. The app lets users manage their Starbucks Cards and purchase coffee and the like at nearly 7,000 U.S. locations.


24. LinkedIn (full AndroidApps review)

After what seemed like an eternity in beta, LinkedIn finally launched an Android app ready for prime time in the spring. While not perfect, the LinkedIn app is a much better alternative than the company's more limited mobile site. Finally, this indispensable professional networking service found a full-time gig on Android.


25. Path (full AndroidApps review)

A significant December update to this social blogging app on Android and iOS devices served as an early holiday present to its passionate and vocal adherents. Beyond sharing photos, users can now tell the world about what music they are listening to and other activities they are doing. The app's new design and "Automatic" feature, which recognizes when users deviate from routine schedules, also separate Path from the pack.


And finally, we present the five best games to arrive to Android devices in 2011. Notably, they all first appeared on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

26. Cut the Rope (full AndroidApps review)

While not a household name like Angry Birds, Cut the Rope is among the most addictive and popular mobile games of all time. The graphics and music are superb, and Cut the Rope is optimized and plays very well on larger Android tablet devices. This is another multi-platform grand slam for (Angry Birds) publisher Chillingo.


27. World of Goo (full AndroidApps review)

One of the most original and well-crafted physics-based puzzle games around finally made its way to Android devices in late November. Originally an indie hit on PCs, World of Goo is a construction game in which users must connect goo balls together to build structures so that other goo balls can get to the end of each stage. The abstract art and imagery alone make it worth the five bucks to download.


28. Where’s My Water? (full AndroidApps review)

A clever and addictive puzzle game by Disney, Where's My Water? combines whimsical design with killer gameplay. Players are tasked with keeping a sewer-dwelling alligator named Swampy clean and pristine while guiding him through urban terrain. Easier said than done, particularly with Swampy's alligator buddies standing in the way.


29. Plants vs. Zombies (full AndroidApps review)

This classic title from PopCap, which was acquired by Electronic Arts in July, first came to Android earlier this year via the Amazon App Store. It was sold exclusively on Amazon until early December. Fans of the cartoony tower defense game will enjoy tapping into Plants vs. Zombies on Android devices.


30. Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD (full AndroidApps review)

The best racing game available for Android devices, Asphalt 6: Adrenaline HD combines plenty of cars and game modes — including a psychedelic "Adrenaline" boost — with superlative visuals and gameplay. This one deserves the checkered flag.

Dropbox For Android Gets A Major Revamp, New Features

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 02:45 PM PST


The new year is right around the corner, and many of us are in dire need of some organization. Luckily for all you fandroids out there, DropBox 2.0 has finally made its way onto the Android Market. The app has brand new features and a totally revamped layout.

You’ll find a little arrow to the right of each file in the app, which will then lead you to a pop-out menu. From there you can share, delete, and favorite, which is a brand new feature to DropBox. From the main menu, you’ll see three tabs up top including Dropbox, Uploads and the newly added Favorites.

Some files are put into Dropbox simply because they are pictures so cute, or documents so brag-worthy that you need them on all your devices (just in case the opportunity arises to show them off). Once a file is favorited, you can access it even without an internet connection because it’ll be saved straight to the device. That said, I’m willing to bet the Favorites tab will be oft-used.

Dropbox 2.0 also includes the ability to rename files straight from the app, along with bulk upload. Speaking of the Uploads tab, users are now able to upload from and export to local storage, which is a welcome addition.

Past that, you’ll also find a few bug fixes in the update which is pretty standard for a huge roll-out like this, along with support for ICS. (You G-Nex owners were worried there for a second, huh?)

If you’re looking to get more out of your Dropbox then head on over to the Android Market and start updating.

Merry Christmas!

[via IntoMobile]

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas (Revisited)

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 01:54 PM PST


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not an ultrabook was whirring, not a touchpad nor mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
With hopes they were stuffed with Thunderbolt MacBook Airs.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Galaxy Tabs danced in their heads.
And ma in her 'kerchief, and I with my apps,
Had settled our texting thumbs for a long winter's nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my standing desk to see what was the matter.
To the Nest thermostat I flew like a flash,
I turned up the heat, and to the window I dashed.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Was no task for my PowerShot, even when light is low.
Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an iPhone 4S! At it, everyone leered.

With a little A5 chip, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment: this new iPhone is slick.
More rapid than eagles, web pages they came,
And the camera, and iOS 5, and the Retina Display!

“Now Siri! You listen to what I command!
You are but a humble female in my hand!
The words that I say may give you some trouble,
but don’t go around bursting everyone’s bubble!”

And though it was welcome, the new Nexus was shy,
It took more than a month to finally arrive.
But once it appeared with LTE, it flew,
With a big-ass touchscreen, and ICS, too.

Santa couldn’t compete with the gadgets we owned,
And his new Nissan Leaf was running on low,
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Speaking Of Christmas Miracles… This Guy Can Fly (Almost)

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 01:30 PM PST


If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Mind control would be my answer (I hope to be an evil genius when I grow up). But it seems the most popular answer to that question is the ability to fly. Jarnos Smeets, a mechanical engineer from the Netherlands, is working really hard to make that a reality.

How, you ask? Well, he’s building real-life wings (just like the wings on a bird). By first combining the accelerometers of the WiiMote and an HTC Wildfire S, he can now measure the arm-speed of his own movements and thus control the outrunner motors on his DIY wings.

Just take a look at this crazy sketch:

As far as hacks go, this one may really fly high (cheesiness is forgiven on Christmas Eve, right?). Of course, there’s still no proof that Smeets’ project will yield the results he wants. In fact, he may be venturing into some dangerous territory.

Either way, we’ll keep you posted on whether or not he can actually take flight. In the meantime, check out these videos of him tapping into the WiiMote and Wildfire S accelerometers, along with a clip of him controlling the outrunners and further explaining just how these wings came to be.

Secrets Of The Accidental Entrepreneur

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 10:38 AM PST


Editor's noteJames Altucher is an investor, programmer, author, and entrepreneur. He is Managing Director of Formula Capital and has written 6 books on investing. His latest book is I Was Blind But Now I See. You can follow him@jaltucher.

I was in a meeting with Uri Geller. You know who he is. He's the psychic that bends spoons. He's been doing it since he was a kid. Marvel Comics even did an issue once where Uri Geller was helping out Daredevil. The cover has Daredevil wearing an extremely tight uniform where you could see the outline of his genitalia (putting it delicately for SOPA Nazis). Daredvil was swinging around punching people while Uri Geller (“the Most Shocking Guest Star of All” according to the cover) was melting tanks.

So now Uri Geller was sitting right in front of me pitching a business.

That's the way I roll.

First there were the demos. Uri ("call me Uri") gave me a 3×3 piece of paper and a very squeaky magic marker. I made two lines and a bunch of squiggly lines. All sqeaking very loud. Try to imagine how they would sound. "A tree!" he said with his eyes closed. He was right. Then he took a letter opener and we stood by the heater in the office. He rubbed it very hard until it started to bend.

Ok, I said, what's the idea?

An entire website on how to generate psychic powers. Including, he said, a big button in the middle of the page that if you kept pushing it, it would increase your potential to have psychic powers.

It's a free country. He's allowed to pitch me that idea. I don't know whatever happened to it. Most ideas don't work. Clearly he didn't become the next Google.

In fact, Google almost didn't become the next Google. They tried to sell to Yahoo for $1 million and they were rejected. So they were forced into actually making a business out of their pet project. And it took them four years to find a business model that worked. And to this day it's still the only business model that works. (Feel free to argue with me about this. I won't respond).

Groupon almost didn't become Groupon.  They were originally "" and they were focused on raising money for charities. I don't know how they raised the money to do that. The idea was that once enough charitable people would be willing to donate, the charity would get the money. ThePoint, I guess, would get a cut. I once pitched something similar to the CEO of one of the two largest media companies in the world. His instant (and only) response to me was, "Charity sucks! What else do you have?"

So Groupon had charity and, of course, the CEO of the media company had been right. Charity does suck and the Point was probably going to go out of business. Instead, they sent out emails for anything, not just charity, and guess what!? It's now a $14 billion market cap company three years later. Magic!

(I applaud the CEO of Groupon for doing yoga)

Yelp started as an email recommendation service before they became a more general review site. Twitter started out as a phone-to-podcast service (called Odeo ) that then turned into a way to SMS your friends  (called twttr ) that finally became Twitter. All of these companies were accidents.

And, like most accidents, I’m sure there was a lot of blood, a car upside down in the woods, ambulances, flares in the ground to keep out traffic, and policemen with blowhorns yelling, “keep it moving, people. Nothing to see here.” And meanwhile, Jack Dorsey, trying to turn Evan Williams’ little podcast thing into the best thing that ever happened to Charlie Sheen.

Accidents happen. My two best investments at the moment are two accidents. They started as one thing, and after much agony later, ended up as something completely different and better. It takes a special person to survive these accidents. In other words, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, knows what’s going to work in advance. An abililty to see the future makes Uri Geller famous but does not make a successful entrepreneur.

Many of these accidental successes had an "oh shit" moment where it seemed like everything was going to fall apart, they had to come up with a way to transition (I hate the word "pivot" –its very February, 2011) and then they figured out a way to flourish and get over the hump.

Uri Geller didn't have what it takes. I don't know what happened to his online company. I'm not even going to Google it right now even though I can. It magically disappeared as far as I'm concerned.

(Geller and Jackson, and I guess me, were all friends)

But the accidental entrepreneurs mentioned above had it. The combination of luck, health, and flexibility that allows one to roll with disappointments, learn from them, move forward, and repeat when necessary.

Train your body, mind, and soul before you jump into your startup to be able to handle the following:

  • Get used to vomiting. Because you’re going to do it a lot before it’s all over. And guess what—it’s never going to be over. Once you’re an entrepreneur, you will be one for the rest of your life. Make sure you don’t eat too much junk food—that feels horrible when you throw it up—and make sure you keep a lot of Maalox around for gas.
  • The economy doesn’t matter. Groupon started in November, 2008. The news media is always going to say the economy is in the crapper. For once in your life, and for the rest of your entrepreneurship, turn the TV off.
  • You have no idea what’s going to be successful or not. Nobody is going to hit that big button in the middle of your page. They might hit that random little button that is the size of the dot on an “i” in the corner of your page. Don’t argue with that dot! Change directions and build your business around it. In 2006, I really really wanted to get out of the whole online finance game. So I made a dating website. I made ten dating websites. None of them worked. I built and got a million users a month. So that’s the one I stuck with even though I felt like shooting myself in the head. I really wanted to get into online dating but online dating took one look at me and said, “uhhh…you better get back where you came from, sugar.” Hmm, that sort of came out in a transvestite thought bubble. The point is: a good entrepreneur probably has no clue what’s going to be good or bad. That’s not the key to success.
  • You have to kiss a ton of ass. More asses than you can ever have imagined kissing. Every customer wants to be your friend. And friends call each other at four in the morning, right? Get used to it. I had, and still have, a lot of four AM calls. But finally about a year ago I stopped picking them up. Hence my phone number.
  • You have to travel 60,000 miles at least. In coach. Everyone needs to meet. Lots of meetings. maybe 10 of those miles will result in actual revenues. Try to avoid meetings since 99% of them are worthless. And if you go to meetings, do this: no dougnuts and chairs in the meeting room. Then the meetings will at least be fast.
  • You have to learn how to use a lead pipe or a baseball bat if you want to get paid by all of your clients.
  • Your website is always  going to be too slow. When I started I once went bowling with my then five year old. I was constantly reloading the site on my now-antique phone and doing "one Mississippi, two Mississippi,.." to see how fast it was loading (not fast enough and it would be hours before the guys in India woke up and it was random whether or not it was a religious holiday or the power was out all over Bangalore in a freak lightning storm).  Finally, my five year old dropped the bowling ball on her toes while I was doing this. Then I got divorced.
  • You're always going to have three features in your head that need to go on the site now and that's just not possible.  (Remember: freak lightning storm).
  • Your investors, by the way, are going to have six features they want on your website and none of them make sense and they want to know from you right now why the features weren't on your site yesterday. And if you don't return their call right now they are going to take legal action. Which brings me to…
  • Investors have lawyers and you don't.
  • Your employees are going to have sex with each other and somehow you're going to be in the middle. And not in a good way.
  • You are constantly going to be gripped with thoughts that your competitors are all better than you. And guess what, they are. So now you have to lie to all of your investors who are constantly calling you before their "Monday morning meetings" asking you, "can you tell me one more time why you're better than so-and-so?"
  • The only way to really secure a client is to get them money or sex. You didn't read that here. I  forget already what I just said.
  • You are going to, at least once, hire a PR firm and only realize much later that it was the worst thing you ever did. PR people are very charismatic so it takes awhile before you stop being snowed over by them. Corollary: the launch of your site will have no publicity anywhere. Not even on TechCrunch. Corollary number two: successful CEOs often divorce their wives and marry their PR people.
  • Practice saying this in front of the mirror and pretend you are talking to an employee: "the pay is not a lot but we're heading to an eventual IPO. We're working on an option plan but it's not done yet." Watch how your eyebrows move while you say that.
  • Then practice saying this in the mirror: "yes". Imagine all of your customers are squeezed into your mirror. Maybe it's like a group Skype Mirror. Or a Google+ Hangout Mirror. “Yes”. “Yes, I can do that in three days.” “Yes, you can call me at four in the morning.”

(the Google logo on Halloween - EVIL)

  • When you are raising money, you have to be able to answer the question, “what if Google decides to get in this business?” The question is rhetorical. It’s like asking, “what happened to you the last time you were in the center of a black hole.” But, I don’t know why—everyone asks that question. Heck, I’ve asked that question. I’ve been asked it. It’s just something that happens. You need to answer it with absolute seriousness. Like, “Fortunately I was wearing Neutrino Block 90 and only got a minor burn in a past life.”
  • Finally, one more mirror item (your mirror is going to get sick of looking at you. Because if you are an entrepreneur you’re probably ugly): Practice saying, "your sales are going to triple after you hire us". You might have to stretch the muscles in your mouth a little for that one. Try it right now. Stretch your mouth until dry lips start to crack. Practice makes perfect. If it's too hard just start with "triple". "TRIP" "POOL".
  • Lying awake at 3 in the morning wondering how you are going to make payroll next October (note: it's December now. But every three in the morning that October looms one day closer).  It is critical to sleep through that anxiety. I’m not kidding. Better to dream about missing payroll than lie awake thinking about it.
  • Getting that thought out of your head of the crush you have on employee #6. Fire her (him). It’s not sexual harassment if you fire them before you sexually harass them.
  • Calling your buddy and saying, "I hate this stupid company already. I wish I can sell it and start the other five ideas I have." And, by the way, you might be right. Time to transform your crappy company into one of those five ideas. My first company made websites for Fortune 500 companies. At different points we almost became a record label, a tea company, a TV production company, and a half-dozen other things. Maybe one of those would’ve worked out even better. I’m not smart enough to know. But always be writing down the next ideas and see how your company can transform. If you aren’t writing down ten ideas a day then you’re failing.
  • And note: Its ok to fail. We all make mistakes. We all crush the hope and spirit out of our friends, investors, and loved ones. It’s ok if you do it also. But be ready to start again and do it again. Avoid the shame. Crush them again and again. Until finally you squeeze juice out of them. Then it’s all worth it. Did that analogy just work? If so, then congratulations. You’re an entrepreneur.

If you can handle all of the above and still retain health and sanity then you are probably ready to start a business. Uri Geller could bend spoons, melt tanks, and be friends with both Daredevil and Michael Jackson.  But he probably doesn't have the magic powers you have. And he never will.

See, “The Hundred Rules for Being an Entrepreneur”.

Oh, and critical to your success: follow me on Twitter.

Gillmor Gang 12.24.11 (TCTV)

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 10:00 AM PST

Gillmore Gang test pattern

The Gillmor Gang — Robert Scoble, John Taschek, Kevin Marks, and Steve Gillmor — took a WiFi stroll through the forest that is Hollywood’s attempt to lock down our TVs. And by stroll, this one features @stevegillmor at a leisurely somewhat brain-cell challenged pace. You can almost see him think, except that there’s not much thought going on there. No, really. The others are in good condition, unless you count @scobleizer once he starts hitting the whiskey toward the end.

As to the battle for control of our TV, it’s really too late, what with SOPA boycotts, reverse engineering of the Apple AirPlay bus, and Microsoft’s slow fade from CES underway. But that doesn’t stop the Cartel from trying. It may turn out that you can someday move network news shows from Slingbox to iPad and back up to Apple TV over WiFi; for now the realtime bus is getting choked. In fact all things streaming are about to collide with bandwidth caps, at least in our house. With 4 Apple TVs and counting, it won’t be long before WiFi consulting becomes a trade school offering. Me, I’m off to Fry’s to follow the chat room advice. Happy Holidays.

@stevegillmor, @scobleizer, @jtaschek, @kevinmarks

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

A Christmas Miracle! Facebook Chat (Kind Of) Supports Extended Rage Faces

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 09:30 AM PST


First, if you want to get right down to it, here are the codes you type into Facebook chat to get various faces:

Poker face [[129627277060203]]
Forever Alone [[227644903931785]]
OK guy [[100002752520227]]
Me Gusta [[164413893600463]]
Lol guy [[189637151067601]]
Fuck Yeah [[105387672833401]]
Problem? [[171108522930776]]

Huzzah! We are truly living in an age of wonder!

Second, why does this work?

There are various ways to bring Facebook content into chats. For example, you use Facebook Pages like a little TC by typing [[techcrunch]]. The numbers above are actually the IDs for pages that someone, for some terrible reason, made featuring all of those rage faces (, for example). There are more to be found here thanks to Reddit so I’ll leave further discovery as an exercise for the reader.

All I can say is I’m glad there’s an Internet because the long minutes between sips of whiskey on Christmas Eve, spent staring malevolently at the fire, fingering my ratty smoking jacket, drawing from an unlit cheroot that had gone out hours before, and plotting the destruction of my many enemies would be a lot darker without the MeGusta face keeping me going. Happy holidays!

via Reddit [upvote Sky_Prodigy]

Watch Out Yammer And Jive, Google Is About To Enter The Social Enterprise Space

Posted: 24 Dec 2011 09:17 AM PST

Google Apps

The social enterprise has been growing as more and more companies look to incorporate Facebook-like communications among workers. Jive (which just debuted on the Nasdaq), Yammer, and Salesforce are all betting on the social as an integral part of productivity and business processes in the future. And it looks like Google will be entering the space soon. Google’s Vice President of Enterprise Amit Singh tells us that Google will soon bring a more in-depth Google+ social experience to businesses and institutions using Google Apps.

In October, Google announced that Google Apps users could sign up for Google+, allowing businesses and educational institutions to share posts directly to other users within their workgroups and/or universities.

But Google has further ambitions for Google+ in the enterprise, says Singh, and that involves creating a collaborative environment for businesses. Internally at Google, Singh says that the company is already using Google+ as a collaboration platform and it’s going well. “This can become a new social platform for collaboration across Docs, Gmail, video and other apps,” he explains.

Singh explains that there’s a shift towards moving from individual productivity based applications to more social applications, and this is only going to accelerate. Part of 2012 will entail bringing the Google+ social experience to businesses.

“Google+ is the next big thing for the enterprise,” he says.” “We are going to do the same thing with Google+ that we’ve done with Gmail, and other consumer-facing apps so that Google+ can be adopted in more of enterprise setting.”

While Singh says the specifics of how this is going work for businesses with Google Apps is still being developed, he says that in 2012 Google will offer “some good choices for businesses to take advantage of both internal and external communication capabilities.”

Google entering the social enterprise market isn’t particularly surprising considering the search giant’s ambitions when it comes to social. In terms of usage, Google Apps is a major product for the company (Apps now has 40 million users, and 5,000 firms are joining per day, as per Eric Schmidt). What should be interesting is how Google’s communications and collaboration platform for Apps will affect the current leaders in the market such as Jive and Yammer. Stay tuned.

No comments:

Post a Comment