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Archive for February, 2011

MobileNotifier: Jailbreak App Aims To Revamp iOS Push Notification System

February 28th, 2011 02:48 admin View Comments

White iPad 2

Apple’s Push Notification system has been maligned for being intrusive and modal. iOS competitors on the other hand have been doing a good job on this front of late. HP’s webOS for example has a banner notification system that has been widely acclaimed.

We’ve also heard rumors that Apple is acquiring a small developer to help them fix the Push notification system.

If you’ve jailbroken your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch then you probably don’t have to wait for Apple to fix it as developer, Peter Hajas has released a jailbreak app called MobileNotifier, which is pretty cool.

Mobile Notifier is inspired by Android’s notification system so unlike iOS’s push notification system, MobileNotifier prevents notifications from interrupting you and allows you to access your notifications from a drop-down drawer. You can also access the notifications from your iOS device’s lock screen.

Peter has also cleverly used the unused area when you activate the multitasking switcher for the Alert Dashboard to show the pending alerts/notifications.

You can checkout the demo video of see how MobileNotifier works:

Peter has recently released the third beta version of MobileNotifier, which you can install from the Cydia App Store by following these steps:

  • Launch Cydia from your jailbroken iOS device homescreen.
  • Tap on the Manage Tab and then tap on Sources.
  • Tap on the Edit button and then tap the Add button to add the following repo URL: http://phajas.xen.prgmr.com/repo
  • After it is successfully added, tap on the Search tab and search for MobileNotifier.
  • Tap on MobileNotifier from the search results
  • Then tap on the Install button and then Confirm to install it on your iOS device
  • You will be prompted to Restart SpringBoard, tap on the button to proceed.

That’s it, you should now be able to use the revamped notification system courtesy MobileNotifier.

As always, please don’t forget to tell us if you like it.

[via Peter Hajas, thanks Jeff for the tip]

Source: MobileNotifier: Jailbreak App Aims To Revamp iOS Push Notification System

How Rich Are the Companies of DEMO 2011?

February 28th, 2011 02:28 admin View Comments

Over the next two days at the DEMO conference in Palm Springs, California, more than 50 companies will take the stage and introduce their product in six minutes flat. It’s a format that has become an industry standard, with conferences like TechCrunch 50, TechCrunch Disrupt and LAUNCH following in its footsteps.

A continual criticism of DEMO over the years, however, has been that the price of entry is simply too high. At nearly $20,000, the cost of getting on stage at one of the world’s pre-eminent tech conferences can be prohibitive to say the least, so we decided to take a look at how funding broke down for the $1,000,000 in presentations we’re seeing over the 48-hours.

To examine the funding of the 52 companies crossing the stage this week, we used DIY database tool Needlebase to quickly scrape the DEMO website of all the funding disclosures and then sort the numbers. Of the 52 companies, we found data for 46 companies. Here are the numbers:

DemofundingSpread.jpg

52% of companies that disclosed funding disclosed $1m in funding or less.  85% less than $5 million.  32% disclosed between $1m and $5m, the most popular category.  10% disclosed $10m in funding or more.  The most funded of the group is content security firm WebSense, which reported more than $50m in funding.

How does this compare to the Launch conference last week, which argued DEMO was too pricey for bootstrapped startups to launch at? Though the data is incomplete (we could only find funding data for 7 of 37 companies at Launch), it’s worth at least a passing mention that the Launch companies that disclosed any funding on Crunchbase have raised an average of $2m each.  That’s roughly in the same sweet spot as DEMO.

Source: How Rich Are the Companies of DEMO 2011?

New MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals ‘Shoddy Assembly’

February 28th, 2011 02:12 admin View Comments

Apple

CWmike writes “Apple’s new MacBook Pro shows some build-quality problems that shouldn’t be seen in a notebook that costs $1,800, a teardown expert said on Monday. iFixit.com found several signs of substandard assembly while disassembling a 15-in. MacBook Pro. Among them: A stripped screw near the subwoofer enclosure and an unlocked ZIF (zero insertion force) socket for the IR (infrared) sensor. ‘[These] should not be things found inside a completely unmolested computer with an $1,800 base price,’ iFixit said in the teardown description. iFixit also spotted an unusual amount of thermal paste applied to both the CPU and the GPU. ‘Holy thermal paste! Time will tell if the gobs of thermal paste applied to the CPU and GPU will cause overheating issues down the road,’ iFixit said. The refreshed MacBook Pro models launched last Thursday in what one analyst called a ‘ho-hum’ upgrade.”

Source: New MacBook Pro Teardown Reveals ‘Shoddy Assembly’

Why Is It Taking So Long For Amazon To Close Its Diapers.com Deal?

February 28th, 2011 02:02 admin View Comments

It’s been about four months since Amazon announced its plans to acquire of Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com and Soap.com, for $540 million. The deal has not yet closed, primarily due to an extended review by the FTC.

The FTC took nearly seven months to approve the Google AdMob deal, so it is not yet as bad as it could be. But it is also unclear what antitrust concerns the FTC might have with this particular deal. Is the FTC worried that a combined Amazon-Quidsi will corner the online diapers market and provide free overnight shipping to parents all across the country?

Yes, Diapers.com and Amazon are the No. 1 and No. 2 online retailers of diapers, respectively. (Last year, Quidsi CEO Marc Lore boasted to me that Diapers.com shipped four times as many diapers as Amazon). But their combined sales are a drop in the bucket compared to the overall diapers market. Diapers.com probably did about $300 million in revenues last year. Quidsi also moved into family care products with Soap.com. Diapers are a multi-billion dollar industry, and family care is even bigger. Procter& Gamble alone sold nearly $15 billion worth of baby and family care products combined last year (including diapers, baby wipes, facial tissues, bath tissues, and paper towels).

E-commerce does not exist in a vacuum. It is rarely a market unto itself. Perhaps the FTC is just being thorough. But the longer it takes to either approve or block big deals above $500 million, the bigger a deterrent it becomes to those deals ever happening in the first place (see Groupon). If Amazon was allowed to buy Zappos, there is no reason why it should not be allowed to buy Diapers.com. Unless the concern is that Amazon dominates too many e-commerce markets overall, and allowing it to buy online dominance in adjacent markets sets a bad precedent. So how should the FTC define the market in this case—diapers or online commerce?

Source: Why Is It Taking So Long For Amazon To Close Its Diapers.com Deal?

As Profits Dip, Salesforce Exec Talks Up Chatter

February 28th, 2011 02:00 admin View Comments

Today, at the DEMO Conference in Palm Springs, Salesforce VP of Platform and Marketing George Hu remained markedly confident over Salesforce’s future, smiling broadly in the face of rising costs and dipping profits.

Hu has good reason to be smiling. Salesforce is the talk of the town these days, and one of the preeminent cloud companies in the market. It had a big fourth quarter, with sales growing 29 percent to $457 million. “It was a monster quarter, and the deal flow in the fourth quarter was just awesome,” CEO Marc Benioff gushed in a recent earnings call.

In addition to its customer gains, Salesforce has also been in an acquisitions tear. The company acquired Heroku, the Ruby application platform-as-a-service for $212 million in December and DimDim, a web conferencing service for $31 million, in January — on top of the addition of GroupSwim, a SaaS cloud enterprise service, back in December 2009.

While sales grew 29 percent in Q4, Salesforce’s total operating expenses tipped past 40 percent to $365 million, resulting in a $391,000 loss in operations. The company also made a measly $97 million at the operating income level, compared to its $1.55 billion in sales.

Yet, in spite of these lackluster numbers, back at DEMO, Hu’s expectations remain positive, largely thanks to Salesforce’s enterprise social messaging application, Chatter. Though you may only know Chatter from unpopular Super Bowl ads, Hu said that their team has “cracked the distribution code”, as 80,000 of Salesforce’s 92,000 customers are currently using Chatter. He remained unfazed over competition from other enterprise social networks like Yammer, which claims to have over 100,000 users.

“Today, we are seeing a confluence of cloud, social and mobile, and the best sales person in today’s world is not properly armed unless they’re combining those three key features,” Hu said. He continued on to say that the market in social enterprise, for those who can combine these three components successfully, remains a green field. This is why the company continues to build their human sales force, which the Salesforce (ha) executive said remains a high priority for the company going forward.

Hu’s conclusion, seen in the big picture, shows that 2011 may well be the year of the expanding sales force. Two weeks ago, I attended an “Online Local” panel at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, where representatives from Foursquare, Yodle, Living Social, and Angie’s List said that they are in the process of drastically expanding their own sales staffs in 2011 due to their impression that local merchants lack the technology prowess to buy through self service models. Living Social, for example, has a sales staff of over 450.

In business-to-business decisions, where there are multiple stakeholders, and huge strategic decisions are on the line, Hu said, it takes a real person — those customer-facing sales employees — to explain the details of how the service works, to work through obstacles, and help the customer see the bigger picture.

In light of Salesforce’s flurry of M&A activity and rapid growth, Hu said that what is keeping him up at nights is the education of this massive sales force. As the company has grown from a single application (Salesforce Automation) to a CRM platform, collaboration through social enterprise, and Data-as-a-Service, it has become increasingly difficult to train each new employee to manage their products.

Going forward, Hu said, he would like to see Saleforce become less reliant on their Website or app and become, instead, an invisible and pervasive service. He referred to David Kirkpatrick’s conception of the future of Facebook, in which the social networking giant will look nothing like its current form, but instead its social graph will be inherent to the very plumbing of the Web.

“We have a smiliar view,” Hu said. “Yes, people may still go to salesforce via a browser and login, but we think that collaborative data should be ubiquitous, not just through our app, but through whatever reader you use … We want to be pervasive and invisible, to be embedded in everything that you do.”

Though Hu’s lofty visions of the future may hold weight, you can check out a more dour financial perspective in the WSJ’s coverage of the Salesforce stock run up here.

Source: As Profits Dip, Salesforce Exec Talks Up Chatter

Palestine Prime Minster Crowdsources Cabinet with Facebook

February 28th, 2011 02:00 admin View Comments

SalamFayyad_150x150.pngPalestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is one of the Mideast leaders who isn’t reacting to the social media pointed in his direction with a knee-jerk ban. Instead, he is rolling his Facebook pageout as a platform for crowdsourcing his cabinet.

Dr. Fayyad dismissed his old cabinet on February 14, in the wake of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. He is obliged to appoint a new cabinet in less than six weeks, so he’s reached out to the young people to ask them to be a part of the process.

According to Foreign Policy, the reaction to the outreach was quite strong, with a thousand responses posted within only a couple of hours.

Like most situations in which people who’ve held things bottled up get a chance to directly address a decision maker, there were both statements of encouragement and indictments of the collusion between Fayyad’s Fatah party and Hamas.

ramallah.JPGFayyad’s goal seems to be to bring the Gaza Strip, under Hamas, and the West Bank, under Fatah, back together as a single polity. One way he hopes to do that is get the youth of Palestine on his side using social media.

Long before the Jasmine Uprisings, Palestinian youth used Facebook. One group, Gaza Youth Break Out!, issued a stunning manifesto, condemning all the old fogies they believe have united to keep them down for years. Walid Husayin used Facebook to satirize Islam and was arrested for it.

Time will tell if Dr. Fayyad actually intends to act on the feelings of his constituents, or if this was merely a stunt. If he does, it could create a sense of investment in the process that seems to be in short supplyin Palestine these days.

Fayyad and Ramallah photos via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Palestine Prime Minster Crowdsources Cabinet with Facebook

In Bird Flu-Swine Flu Hybrids, a Clue To What Makes a Super-Strain

February 28th, 2011 02:45 admin View Comments

Swine flu is not gone, and it is not stagnant. Though the public health scare about the 2009 swine flu pandemic subsided, the virus—like avian flu—remains in pockets of animals, shuffling its genes while hidden from the watchful eyes of virus experts. Virologists call this genetic switcheroo “reassortment,” and it’s how new and dangerous strains of flu snuck up on humankind in the past—and how they could do it again. This time, though, virologist Jinhua Liu and colleagues are trying to get a jump on the viruses.

For a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, this team of Chinese researchers simulated what could be a dire situation for humans: swine flu (H1N1) and avian flu (H9N2) together in one animal. When these flu strains are together they can exchange genetic material. So to test what that mixing might produce, Liu’s team swapped genes between the two and created 127 hybrid viruses, testing each on mice.

Eight of these hybrid strains turned out to be more virulent and dangerous in the mice than their parent strains of swine flu and bird flu. [National Geographic]

According to Dutch virologist Ab Osterhaus, we can’t be sure that these eight nasty strains are the ones that would hit humans hardest—animal studies aren’t perfect.

“Mice mirror, to a certain extent, what happens in humans,” he says, but they are not perfect model animals. Liu agrees. He plans to investigate how contagious his new viral blends are in guinea pigs and ferrets—animals whose respiratory system better reflects our own feverish battle with flu. [ScienceNOW]

But Liu’s mouse study provides a insight into why those few mutants became more virulent than their predecessors. According to the study, all eight of the extra-powerful viral strains possessed the PA gene of the swine flu strain that traveled the world in 2009. In addition, the scientists also created pairs of viruses they could study side-by-side, in which everything was the same except for the PA gene—one virus in each pair had the 2009 swine flu version and the other had a different version. Looking at 24 such pairs, 11 times the version with the swine flu PA gene was deadlier than its counterpart, and only twice was it less virulent (in the 11 other pairs there was no discernable difference).

What would happen if, say, bird flu strains carrying the swine flu PA gene emerged in people? From the study:

Our results indicate that some avian H9-pandemic reassortants could emerge with a potentially higher threat for humans and also highlight the importance of monitoring the H9-pandemic reassortant viruses that may arise, especially those that possess the PA gene of H1N1/2009 origin.

It’s an important clue. Reassortment between viruses, Liu writes, is what created the terrible strains that killed millions during flu pandemics in 1957 and 1968. The 2009 version of H1N1 contained genes mostly from the pig lineage of the virus, earning it the name swine flu, but it also contained genes swapped in from human and avian versions of the flu. (Evolutionary biologist Michael Worobey, who was part of the team tracking swine flu’s evolution, describes it in detail in this video.) Liu says we ought to do all we can to keep animals (and ourselves) from becoming infected with multiple strains, giving the viruses the chance to exchange genetic material. But we can’t stop reassortment altogether; we simply can search for clues like this PA gene that might identify the next big one before it spreads too far.

Image: CDC

Source: In Bird Flu-Swine Flu Hybrids, a Clue To What Makes a Super-Strain

Smart Systems: Using Data to Find New Space in an Old World

February 28th, 2011 02:45 admin View Comments

#4 - Jenna Rose Mayle | Abraham LincolnThe water system that serves the U.S. capital city of Washington, D.C. dates back to the nation’s civil war. Just think – in the time of Lincoln people dug into the ground with hand-made shovels to lay a water system.

Today, that 19th century water system for the District of Columbia is now arguably one of the smartest in the world.

Why? Those water pipes are now fitted with sensors that analyze data on valves, storm drains, service vehicles and truck routes.

It’s representative of a trend we see in hosted environments everywhere. At the Parallels Summit last week, discussion centered on making the most of data centers. They discussed optimizing servers to provide more virtual space. That reflects on what we are hearing at IBM Pulse. And that’s finding new spaces in an old world. We can’t afford to replace our highways, airports and the buildings where we work and live. But we can optimize this physical infrastructure by creating a virtual space that gives us a view into how these aging systems can be improved.

This new space is a virtual one. But the data is also spreading deeper into new spaces that come with the ubiquity of sensors on physical objects, smart grid networks, RFID tags and 4G networks. And now we can more easily read this data, too. People have tablets and smartphones to manage the streams of data that comes from these various devices.

IBM is moving deep into this new data world. It announced software today from its Tivioli group that will do predictive monitoring and event management across complex networks and operations.

Some of the benefits to the D.C. water system that the technology is providing:

  • Field Services trucks can be automatically routed to optimize work management. They are seeing up to 20% reduction of fuel costs related to fewer truck rolls and reduced “windshield” time.
  • Cost savings will come from the analytics that will know if a water meter is degrading. They can identify and replace those meters far more effectively.
  • Predictive analytics helps schedule the replacement of aging infrastructure to prevent costly incidents that reduce service quality, such as outages and water main breaks.

We are seeing the optimization of the virtual and the physical space. And through it we are finding new spaces to make the systems better. That means we can keep systems as old as the Civil War by outfitting with data collection and analytics technology that will transform the way we view space and what it means.

Source: Smart Systems: Using Data to Find New Space in an Old World

Control Any Desktop Computer From Your iPad with GoToMyPC

February 28th, 2011 02:30 admin View Comments

gotomypc-logo.pngHave you ever wanted to operate an old Windows XP desktop computer from a multi-touch, tablet-based interface? Now’s your chance.

GoToMyPC, the remote desktop application from Citrix, launched an iPad app today, allowing you to access a desktop or laptop computer from Apple’s popular tablet. Using the app, one can control any machine with the GoToMYPC software installed on it and operate it as though they were sitting in front of it.

During our test drive of the app, it was pretty responsive. We could edit a document on the iPad and watch the desktop monitor reflect those changes in real time. Pretty nifty.

Citrix has done a pretty impressive job of bridging the gap between the keyboard-and-mouse user interface and a mobile, multi-touch one. To do this, they’ve established a few multi-touch gestures to help make navigating the desktop UI from a tablet easier. For example, taping the screen with two fingers is analogous to a right-click on a desktop. A three-finger tap of the screen will toggle the virtual keyboard.

Flash Comes to the iPad… Sort Of

For those who have been dying to load Flash content on their iPads, well, have at it. We navigated to a few Flash-based Websites and streamed an FLV video with no trouble. Of course, this is possible because GoToMyPC relies on the computing power of the machine being remotely accessed. So while Flash is still not rendered natively on the iPad, this is a decent workaround if you need it.

GoToMyPC costs $9.95 per month per computer, making it a relatively affordable remote desktop solution for small and medium-sized businesses. Companies who pay for the product in an annual lump sum get a 20% discount.

Source: Control Any Desktop Computer From Your iPad with GoToMyPC

Linus Goes Hollywood At Pre-Oscars Party

February 28th, 2011 02:30 admin View Comments

Movies

alphadogg writes “For those who feel like Linux and open source have been slighted by Tinseltown in the face of its embrace of Facebook and The Social Network, you’ll be heartened to know that the Father of Linux, Linux Torvalds, and his wife Tove were among the beautiful people at Saturday’s pre-Oscars Night Before Party in Beverly Hills. Torvalds blogged about the Oscars party experience Monday, recounting a series of awkward encounters with movie stars.”

Source: Linus Goes Hollywood At Pre-Oscars Party

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