Showing posts tagged technology

Top 15 Cities for Tech Startups

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Silicon Valley is still the epicenter of the tech startup world, but there’s a long list of cities looking for a piece of the entrepreneurial pie.

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This Book Unfolds Into a Lamp

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Never judge a book by its cover. Its contents could be invaluable or better yet, illuminating.

One book that’s sure to shed some light is Lumio, a multi-purpose foldable lamp disguised as a hardcover. The cordless light source’s wooden surface has built-in magnets to attach to most metal surfaces, and its flexible spine allows for brightness control.

Lumio creator Max Gunawan says London’s Rolling Bridge, an urban sculpture that unfolds into a bridge, inspired his design.

"At its core, Lumio represents this very same idea but in a much smaller scale: a beautiful object that unexpectedly transforms into a functional device," Gunawan tells _Mashable_.

The lightweight lamp is an i…
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Did Technology Kill Traditional Dating?

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Today’s the day, in case you didn’t notice. But we’re sure your Instagram is flooded with perfectly-filtered flower and teddy bear photos, your Twitter feed’s filled with sickeningly sweet hashtags, and love statuses abound on Facebook.

Yet this Valentine’s Day may not be as traditionally romantic, one study says, as social networks and online dating take the place of time-honored courtship.

When did revealing the intimacies of your relationship (or lack thereof) online become the norm? How many unfamiliar acquaintances flirtatiously Facebook poke you before even starting a conversation? Technology both helps and hinders the romantic process. It may be lack of time, a call for consta…
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How Obama-endorsed P-TECH high school is changing education [Q&A]

#SuryaRay #Surya In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama made several sweeping statements about how he’d like to improve education, but he saved a specific mention for Brooklyn, NY-based P-TECH, or Pathways in Technology Early College High School.

Talking about the importance of aligning education with employment opportunities, he said in countries like Germany, students finish high school armed with the skills they need for the jobs that are available.

“Now at schools like P-TECH in Brooklyn, a collaboration between New York public schools and City University of New York and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in computers or engineering,” Obama said. “We need to give every American student opportunities like this.”

Opened in September 2011, P-TECH is an IBM-backed, six-year program for New York City public high school students. At the end of the program, students get a high school degree, an associate’s degree and better chances for an entry-level position at IBM upon graduation. Even before the president’s endorsement, educators in Chicago, Maine, Massachusetts and elsewhere had started to explore the model, but given last night’s recognition you can be sure P-TECH will be getting even more attention.

In a chat with GigaOM Wednesday, Rashid Davis, P-TECH’s founding principal, talked about what makes P-TECH work, how it could be replicated and what could make the model even better.

GigaOM: As we write about frequently on GigaOM, the digital economy is creating the demand for new skills and new ways of learning those skills. From your perspective, what’s driving the momentum behind P-Tech and new schools like it? 

Davis: I think, really, it’s industry coming forward and saying these are the skills that are important and working with secondary and post-secondary institutions to say how do we make sure those gaps and skills are filled.

GigaOM: Corporations have worked with educators in the past but what really distinguishes P-Tech’s model?

Davis: Every student has a mentor from IBM and the expectation is for students to complete the post-secondary credential, not just earn a college credit. And it’s an open-admission school that starts in grade 9. We’re not taking students that have taken an academic test or have been academically screened for this particular model. 

GigaOM: Why is it a model that can succeed in different cities and school districts across the country?

Davis: Because you’re talking about the diversification that’s necessary – how do you get people who are underrepresented and you’re broadening the applicant pool for areas where jobs are not getting filled. … It can also be replicated for other industries – not just IT. It could be manufacturing, it could be fashion, it could be sports.  It really depends on the industry and the skills that you want to address and the post-secondary institutions that could give you that credential.

GigaOM: The first wave of students will graduate in 2017, but what early indicators can you look at to evaluate how the program is doing and measure success?

Davis: There are some students that may complete this program in four years or five years. But so far, we have 103 students who started with us in grade 9 last year and, of those, 62 are enrolled in at least one college course. … It’s important to understand that this an open-admissions population, with many students who may be the first in their family to even graduate from high school. I don’t want people to try to compare these students to traditional students who may have a different economic background or different levels of support and then [give less value to] measures of success from not really understanding [that difference].

GigaOM: What kinds of challenges have you encountered so far? 

Davis: The challenge is to have 13- and 14-year-olds who may have thought of themselves as students who have not done well, and now we’re telling them that they’re college students from day one. That becomes a challenge because students need to not only make a mental shift, but change their habits so they can… believe in themselves and be consistent in their outcomes.

GigaOM: How do you support them in that shift?

Davis: In addition to every student having a professional IBM mentor, every teacher mentors students and we’re having students adopt each other.

GigaOM: If you could do more to make this model a success, what would it be?

Davis: I would add a boarding component for six months in the summer and I’d try to find a way to house the students for the last two years… 85 percent of my students are on free or reduced lunch and they’re not coming from within walking distance of the community. And it’s important to remember that 76 percent of our population are boys, with 73 percent being young men of color. Every day they go into their communities and we’re at risk of losing them or having them sidetracked to other realities. With boarding, I think it’s essential to make sure we can continue the learning.

GigaOM: Aside from schools like yours, what else would you like to see in NYC schools?

Davis: I’d like to see every high school in NYC attached to one of the [City University of New York] schools to allow this same opportunity to exist for all NYC public school students. We know it’s hard for students to actually get meaningful employment – we need to start off by saying that it’s important for every NYC student who graduates from public school leaves with a post-secondary credential or associates degree.

GigaOM: And, as other schools around the country create P-Tech like schools, what would you advise them?

Davis: They should keep in mind: how do we move quicker? How do we really think of the ways that postsecondary schools could be dual-credentialed for students to actually let them do more while they’re younger and before life gets in the way?

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How Do Humans Really Feel About Robots?

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In a world where mannequins track your every move and the waiter at that restaurant is made of metal, robots are inevitably becoming more commonplace.

But how much do we really care about these cold, controlled helpers? Most robots we encounter are far from the emotionally-capable interpretations in Steven Spielberg’s _A.I. Artificial Intelligence_. One robotics professor in New Zealand put it to the test, analyzing whether a robot’s intelligence and agreeableness influence human interaction.

In Christoph Bartneck’s study (loosely based on the Milgram obedience experiment), he sought to determine how people would react if a robot begged for its “life.” Bartneck found that participant…
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Iran Claims to Have Launched This Monkey Into Space

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Iran is claiming to have successfully launched a monkey into space and brought it back alive, according to Iranian state television.

Iranian television says the craft carrying the monkey reached 72 miles above the Earth before safely returning, as reported by _Time_. Here’s a picture of the monkey, via Mahir Zeynalov:

The Iranian astronaut monkey.…— Mahir Zeynalov (@MahirZeynalov) January 28, 2013

Iran’s previous space-borne animal cargo has included a mouse, a turtle and worms.

SEE ALSO: The Second Space Race: It’s On

The American and Soviet space programs experimented in their infancy with sending animals to space to test if the venture wou…
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Mini penguincam catches birds’ hunting success

#SuryaRay #Surya One Adélie penguin nabbed 14 fish in 20 seconds. @suryaray

Technology Ranks World’s Most-Trusted Industry in 2013

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The technology industry has been ranked most-trusted for the second consecutive year, ahead of the automotive, and food and beverage industries, according to the 2013 Edelman Trust Barometer.

"As an industry, I think tech companies pre-anticipate and solve problems for consumers," Ben Boyd, Edelman’s corporate global practice chairman, told _Mashable_. "I also think in today’s world where technology is connecting people, it’s the companies that get credit for making it happen. It really creates a halo effect for the industry itself."

The findings of the Trust Barometer, an annual survey of 31,000 people in 26 countries evaluating trust in leaders, institutions and industries, were releas…
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Warning: Java Exploit Potentially Affecting More Than 850 Million Computers

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Security experts are recommending computer users disable or uninstall Java following the discovery of a zero-day Java exploit which allows hackers to take control of vulnerable Macs, PCs and Linux computers.

The exploit takes advantage of a vulnerability left open in Java 7 Update 10, released in October of last year. It works by getting Java users to visit a website with malicious code that takes advantage of a security gap to take control of users’ computers.

What’s worse is this particular exploit is reportedly being used to push ransomware, a type of attack that demands users pay to have control of their computers returned from a hacker’s grasp.

Java’s creator, Oracle, hasn’t s…
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How to Prepare for CES 2013

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CEA president Gary Shapiro gives his personal suggestions on how to “survive” this year’s CES forum.

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CEA President Gary Shapiro Talks SOPA, CES

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CEA President Gary Shapiro talks to Mashable about CES and the people that make it possible.

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Watch This LEGO Drone Soar Across the Sky

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We’ve seen people do some pretty creative things with Legos, but programmer and LEGO enthusiast Ed Scott may have just taken the cake with this LEGO quadcopter drone.

While it’s certainly no Predator, the LEGO drone is well-equipped: Four motors give it lift and thrust, autopilot helps keep it flying right and two cameras provide still and live-streaming video capability.

It would be perfect for spying on roommates or coworkers — if it weren’t bright yellow and red, at least.

Scott programmed the drone’s software, but he credits his kids with doing most of the LEGO work.

"Most people go to their favorite hobby store to get parts for their UAV," Scott told drone enthusiast site…
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Stop crowing, London: it’s time to step it up

#SuryaRay #Surya The big news in London this week was the announcement that the government was pumping £50 million, or $80 million, into rebuilding Old Street, the startup-heavy area at the heart of what some call “Silicon Roundabout”. The great and good turned out to hear — yet again — how the British authorities were putting their weight behind the cluster of tech and web companies circling around East London.

Listen to the noises coming out of the local companies, and it’s clear that they feel good about this. Former Facebook executive Joanna Shields, now working for the government’s Tech City organization, said it would help turn a “vibrant community” into a “global leader in tech innovation”. And the head of Google Campus, the internet giant’s local bridge-building effort, said it would “help to establish London as a global center for tech entrepreneurs”.

London’s time, you’d assume, is now.

But here’s the message I took away from it all: it’s time to step things up.

Promised unfulfilled

Britain’s government has been one of the biggest cheerleaders of London’s nascent startup scene over the last few years. While the Old Street area has been a center for the country’s digital economy ever since the birth of interactive media, the decision to create an official “Tech City” movement has seen a concerted effort to court technology companies.

This is for a few reasons. It’s partly an attempt to find some light in the economic gloom. It’s partly an attempt by Prime Minister David Cameron to appear connected, forward-thinking and switched on (look at his relationship with Google to understand the positioning here). And it’s partly an attempt to turn the legacy of the Olympics into something more by enticing big tech firms to the area — even if they don’t contribute much in the way of tax revenue to the British economy.

But Cameron’s commitment to bolstering the startup economy is actually even deeper than that.

Right now, I think the British government — or at least it’s team, which is rebuilding government services to be “digital by default” — is actually the most exciting startup in the country.

It’s dealing with big problems in a smart way, tackling and operating in a lean, mean, aggressive manner: a world-leading approach that Tim O’Reilly recently said set the standard for governments. And to do that, it’s hired some of the most impressive coding, design and strategic talent around. Over the last couple of years a sequence of great talent — mainly from London, many of them friends of mine — have been sucked into the machine as they try to reinvent the way Britons connect to their public services.

Don’t get me wrong: tackling big problems is great, and the work that Government Digital Service is doing is extremely important. But I think it’s an indictment of the local scene that so many great people are choosing to work for the civil service, and that the apparently thriving scene around Old Street seems to be more and more reliant on government boosters.

So how do you fix that?

The challenge to Britain’s startup community

A few months ago, I wrote that London’s tech community was looking at “golden moment”: a confluence of circumstances that could see the region really push on and make good on its promise.

Now, however, I’m less optimistic. There are lots of great companies and strong ideas floating around the UK startup scene, but right now there are too many poseurs and very few world beaters. The latent potential is not being achieved, and the signal is being crowded out by all the noise of bearded startup hipsters tapping away aimlessly in local coffee shops.

Still, I believe this is a glass-half-full situation. Those who are really taking the bit between their teeth and developing serious businesses are doing very well. Moshi Monsters has turned into a massive children’s brand; online loans company Wonga is doing things that banks can’t; innovative smaller outfits like BERG and Makie and others are making waves in their industries.

But the scene needs an injection of real talent and ambition — in part from the same people who have been subsumed into the government’s digital efforts. While they get down to Important Public Service stuff, the hangers-on have fallen into a self-congratulatory funk, drunk on applause from boosters and ego massages from investors looking to pump up their own interests.

Fortunately, most of the talented individuals working on are contractors, not staff. When their time is up, they’ll be back out. Let’s hope they do something great when they’re free again.

In the meantime, listen up, Silicon Roundabout: don’t buy into the mirage of success. It’s time to stop combing your mustaches and build something important.

_Glass of wine photo courtesy of Flickr user Davide Restivo_ @suryaray

One banker’s predictions for the future of digital media

#SuryaRay #Surya The fact that there is a public debate about the maturation of digital media is a fair sign that real change is afoot. That one of New York’s most prominent angels is branching out from his collective of founders to a mega fund is another, reasonably symbolic, clue.

To be clear, this isn’t about finality or absolutes, and we should especially not think in that fashion in a field such as digital media and its technologies – a field that is forever transforming. We should, however, consider the subject of maturity in its relative sense, in comparison to points of reference: a time, a sector, a different pace, perspectives that always evolve.

Media, as a segment, has always been unique (and fortunate) in its public relations. After all, it’s perhaps the only sector that reports on itself. The challenge then is to sift through the noise and vested interest. To help us out, we can rely on the cold, disinterested financial markets.

Here’s what we have observed:

(1) There has been venture capital consolidation, leading to fewer individual points with bigger and possibly less adventurous pools to deploy.

(2) There is an increased emphasis on revenues and earnings (as distinct from pure potential and option value), accentuated by post-IPO flagship properties that have been penalized as the operation has not kept up with the optionality.

(3) A significant portion of M&A activity has consisted of smallish “acqui-hires“ that take out the upside of willing sellers before the startup has hit its theoretical stride.

(4) Cash accumulation by some of the largest competitors continues, and sometimes the cash is even sent back to shareholders through dividends or buybacks.

(5) Many of the sector leaders have underperformed relative to analyst growth expectations in the latest reporting period.

With this backdrop, a number of predictions are in order. Think of these as New Year’s forecasts if you like, considering the season, but more truly they’re observations for the visible future.

* With maturation in the underlying assets, look for maturation in the way these are funded. As we climb up from small and early venture equity to mid-stage to late-stage to growth equity, buyout finance, and even debt capital, look for all of these follow-on pieces to increase in prominence and traffic. Some of the sector linchpins are already tapping the bond markets and securing debt ratings, which reminds us that media was at one time a borrowing sector (when it was old enough).

* Look for greater business emphasis on volume, capabilities and capitalization. While it pays to be small, nimble, and agile – able to navigate sharp turns in periods of high volatility and find plenty of new openings into which to dive – when the terrain is calmer and the openings narrower, this value proposition can start to lose its charm. Look for _dominance_ (if not _survival_) to overtake _iteration_ as buzzword of choice in our vernacular.

* In the strategic community, look for M&A activity to take place based on the integration of disparate parts. We have already observed the confluence of media and commerce, of finance and technology, of media and finance, and obviously media and technology. Look for these combinations to continue and for strategic directions to be set on an increasingly integrated field, where the distinctions will be blurrier between retailer and media outlet, between hardware and software company, and, most notably, between information and money flows.

* In keeping with the motifs of size, capital and integration, look for hardware to assume a more central place in the imagination of founders and the strike zones of buyers and investors. In comparison to software, this realm is more capital intensive, longer cycled, and difficult to “pivot” – which is alright when the turbulence is diminished and the money is perhaps more patient.

* Lastly, look for traditional media to garner increased attention from new media. This sub-segment that was at one time the only segment had been of late forgotten. As the breathlessness for novelty subsides and competition for market share and revenue intensifies, traditional media will be revisited and its audience and communities recognized for untapped value.

There are two overarching themes in these assorted observations and the handful of forecasts presented: On one hand, convergence and overlap (of sectors as well as capital sources); and, on the other, a progression from an era that was arguably defined by its financial ventures to one that is more highly strategic in nature.

Seeing these parallel patterns from another angle still, we note a transition from the more or less speculative gambit to a market that is structured, calculated, and framed within a narrower band of potential outcomes. We are seeing, in short, that digital media is verging on adulthood at last.

_Dan Ramsden is founder and partner at CoRise. He blogs at; follow him on Twitter @d_ramsden._ @suryaray

What’s a WCIT? UN Internet Conference Explained

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By now, you’ve likely heard _something_ about a United Nations meeting revolving around, and possibly determining, the future of the Internet. It’s called the World Conference on International Telecommunications, or WCIT, and it started Monday. Here’s what you need to know.

Acronym Soup

First, let’s get stop by the UN cafeteria and get an order of acronym soup: WCIT, being held in Dubai, was convened by the International Telecommunications Union, or ITU. The purpose of WCIT is to discuss and possibly act upon updates to the International Telecommunications Regulations, or ITRs, a global treaty that governs cross-border communications. The ITRs haven’t been updated in more than two de…
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