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Archive for February, 2011

Mozilla Adds Do-Not-Track Feature To Firefox 4 Pre-Beta Builds

February 1st, 2011 02:11 admin View Comments

Firefox

An anonymous reader writes “Mozilla cranked out a new version of Firefox 4 (Beta 11-pre) that includes the proposed do-not-track feature. Both the nightly builds and latest trunk builds integrate the do-not-track feature. You could accuse Mozilla of wasting time with Firefox 4 beta-testing, but this feature certainly has surfaced fast.”

Source: Mozilla Adds Do-Not-Track Feature To Firefox 4 Pre-Beta Builds

Aria Systems Raises $20 Million For Cloud-Based Billing And Subscription Platform

February 1st, 2011 02:58 admin View Comments

On demand billing and recurring subscription management company,Aria Systems has raised $20 million in new funding led by InterWest Partners with Hummer-Winblad and Venrock participating in the round. This brings Aria System’s total funding to $34 million.

Aria’s platform handles the entire online transactions process, from start to finish, for online companies who have subscription models. Companies rely on Aria Systems to automate their recurring revenue models and manage the entire lifecycle of their subscribers.

Aria works with a suite of payment processors, which include the likes of Authorize.net, Chase Paymentech, Cybersource, PayPal, TransFirst, and RBS Worldpay, to offer consumers a way sign up for subscription payments.

Clients include Disney, Taleo, Internap, DreamWorks, VMware, Roku, and Ingersoll-Rand. Aria plans to used the funding for product development, marketing and sales, and international expansion in Europe and Asia.

Source: Aria Systems Raises $20 Million For Cloud-Based Billing And Subscription Platform

Oregon Trail — How 3 Minnesotans Forged Its Path

February 1st, 2011 02:28 admin View Comments

Education

antdude writes “City Pages has a story and a visual history about the creation and development of Oregon Trail, one of the most popular educational games of all time. Quoting: ‘With no monitor, the original version of Oregon Trail was played by answering prompts that printed out on a roll of paper. At 10 characters per second, the teletype spat out, “How much do you want to spend on your oxen team?” or, “Do you want to eat (1) poorly (2) moderately or (3) well?” Students typed in the numerical responses, then the program chugged through a few basic formulas and spat out the next prompt along with a status update. “Bad illness—medicine used,” it might say. “Do you want to (1) hunt or (2) continue?” Hunting required the greatest stretch of the user’s imagination. Instead of a point-and-shoot game, the teletype wrote back, “Type BANG.”‘”

Source: Oregon Trail — How 3 Minnesotans Forged Its Path

Nokia Leads $8 Million Funding Round For Voddler, The ‘Netflix Of Scandinavia’

February 1st, 2011 02:21 admin View Comments

Voddler, the Netflix / Hulu / Spotify of Scandinavia, whichever comparison you fancy, has raised $8 million in funding in a round led by Nokia’s venture capital arm Nokia Growth Partners.

The video-on-demand company’s previous backers (undisclosed private individual investors) also participated.

Voddler says it served 5 million movies from a catalog of some 3,500 titles (it has been securing distribution agreements with studios since 2009) in 2010, its first full year of operations.

Content comes from both international and domestic media majors, and videos are made available to over 850,000 customers throughout Scandinavia. More than 80% of the content on Voddler is said to be made available free of charge, though it comes with ads.

Voddler is now focusing its development efforts on making its content available on handheld devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as on Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes. Hence the partnership with Nokia.

Founded in 2005, Voddler is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, and builds its service on patented peer-to-peer technology for managed distributed streaming. The service is currently available in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

Source: Nokia Leads $8 Million Funding Round For Voddler, The ‘Netflix Of Scandinavia’

Facebook Averaged Almost 8 New Registrations Per Second In 2010

February 1st, 2011 02:37 admin View Comments

Candytech, a Czech company that helps companies create and measure Facebook marketing campaigns, has gathered a wealth of Facebook-specific data over the years via its statistics portal SocialBakers.

The company has put together this great infographic, offering an overview of Facebook’s growth and population throughout 2010. Some key stats:

- Facebook ballooned from 337 million to 585 million users in 2010
- That means roughly 7.9 new users signed up every second of the year, on average
- USA and the UK are in the top 3 countries, but Indonesia is second with 32.1 million users
- The top 10 countries make up nearly 60% of all users
- The large majority of users is between 18 and 34 years old
- … but the fastest growing age group is 65+ (+124%)
- Three food brands (Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Oreo) make up the top 3 brands on Facebook
- Michael Jackson may have passed away, but his legacy is strong: 26.2 million fans

Source: Facebook Averaged Almost 8 New Registrations Per Second In 2010

Scientists Work To Grow Meat In a Lab

February 1st, 2011 02:12 admin View Comments

Biotech

codeman07 writes “In a small laboratory on an upper floor of the basic science building at the Medical University of South Carolina, Vladimir Mironov, M.D., Ph.D., has been working for a decade to grow meat. A developmental biologist and tissue engineer, Dr. Mironov, 56, is one of only a few scientists worldwide involved in bioengineering ‘cultured’ meat. It’s a product he believes could help solve future global food crises resulting from shrinking amounts of land available for growing meat the old-fashioned way… on the hoof. Growth of ‘in-vitro’ or cultured meat is also underway in the Netherlands, Mironov told Reuters in an interview, but in the United States, it is science in search of funding and demand.”

Source: Scientists Work To Grow Meat In a Lab

“Apple Is Evil! Boycott The iPad! – Sent From My iPad”

February 1st, 2011 02:34 admin View Comments

Here we go again.

It has been a few weeks since we had a story about how Apple is evil, or how the relatively closed system the fuels the iPad and iPhone will be the downfall of society. We were due. And tonight we got such a story. Maybe. Or maybe not at all. It doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that Apple is closed! Closed, I tell you! The empire is going to collapse any moment now.

Tonight, The New York Times is reporting that Apple is “further tightening its control of the App Store”. How? Apparently, they rejected a Sony e-book reader app. Here’s the key blurb:

The company has told some applications developers, including Sony, that they can no longer sell content, like e-books, within their apps, or let customers have access to purchases they have made outside the App Store.

While no one actually cares about the Sony eReader app, everyone is quick to jump on the Kindle angle here. This means the Kindle app on the iPad is dead, right? As my colleague Jason Kincaid wrote earlier, “An alternative title, should the report prove accurate, could be, Apple Underscores The Downsides Of Its Closed Platform. Really, things look like they are going to get nasty.

Here’s the thing: apps like this have actually never been allowed to sell their content within their apps. Instead, Amazon’s Kindle app dumps you out onto the web where you have to buy it. So there’s absolutely no difference there.

Now, if Apple were to block the Kindle app from recognizing content bought outside of iTunes (through Amazon) that would be a change of policy. And yes, that would be very annoying. But it’s simply not clear if that’s the case yet. Again, here’s how NYT puts it, “Apple rejected Sony’s iPhone application, which would have let people buy and read e-books bought from the Sony Reader Store.” Did Apple reject it because Sony was trying to let users buy e-books through their app (again, an old policy)? Or because it simply allowed them to access those e-books bought outside the app? Hard to say.

Later, NYT specifically notes that this change in policy “could” affect Amazon’s Kindle app. But they only say it “may” change, and cite a Sony president on the matter — no one from Apple, no one from Amazon.

Regardless, here are a few bigger picture items that everyone seems to be overlooking. If Apple really wants their iBookstore to succeed, playing hardball is inevitable. Right now, you can’t buy books within the Kindle app. The reason for this is probably twofold. First, since the purchases wouldn’t go through iTunes, Apple wouldn’t make its 30 percent in-app purchase cut. And second, Amazon still has a much better selection of e-books than Apple does. So allowing users to easily buy Amazon books through the Kindle app would be cutting their own product off at the knees. That’s not evil. That’s business.

Apple could conceivable try to force Amazon (and others like Sony) to use iTunes for e-book in-app purchases — similar to how Facebook is now starting to force app developers to use their credit system. And who knows, maybe this even plays into their upcoming iTunes revamp that will allow for new models like content subscriptions. But would Amazon really play along and pay Apple 30 percent off of every sale? Probably not.

Actually, that’s too weak. No way in hell, is more like it.

Sony’s statement sounds as if that they were looking forward to taking advantage of the success of the iPad to bolster their own struggling e-book products. But it’s not like they can sell their books on the Kindle either. Instead, the Kindle exists so Amazon can move their own products. And no one is calling Amazon “evil” because of it.

But the larger point goes back to what I poked fun at in the beginning of this post. There seems to be this desire to paint Apple’s relatively closed system as “evil” in some way. But the reality, of course, is that it’s not evil. If anything, it has just proven to be good business. In fact, one of the most successful business models ever. Once again we’re simply seeing that the case against Apple is just as much a case for Apple.

The larger public simply doesn’t care about this whole open versus closed debate. And it doesn’t really seem like developers actually making the apps do either. But the press certainly seems to for some reason. We get so damn angry about things like this — when we read them on our iPads.

Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads in just 8 months last year. Does anyone really believe the product is going to crash and burn this year? I can hear the masses, “You know, I was going to buy an iPad, if only they had accepted that Sony eReader app. Damn…”

[photo: flickr/atmasphere]

Source: “Apple Is Evil! Boycott The iPad! – Sent From My iPad”

Are Gamers Safer Drivers?

February 1st, 2011 02:30 admin View Comments

Transportation

thecarchik writes “Racing video games: many of us play them and love them. But do they really make us better drivers, as some say, or do they make us more dangerous on real-life tarmac? Two studies go head-to-head on the issue.”

Source: Are Gamers Safer Drivers?

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