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Archive for April, 2012

Tor Researchers’ Tool Aims To Map Out Internet Censorship

April 30th, 2012 04:03 admin View Comments

Censorship

Sparrowvsrevolution writes “Tor developers Arturo Filasto and Jacob Appelbaum have released OONI-probe, an open-source software tool designed to be installed on any PC and run to collect data about local meddling with the computer’s network connections, whether it be website blocking, surveillance or selective bandwidth slowdowns. Unlike other censorship tracking projects like HerdictWeb or the Open Net Initiative, OONI will allow anyone to run the testing application and share their results publicly. The tool has already been used to expose censorship by T-Mobile of its prepaid phones’ browser and also by the Palestinian Authority, which was found to be blocking opposition websites. The minister responsible for the Palestinian censorship was forced to resign last week.”

Source: Tor Researchers’ Tool Aims To Map Out Internet Censorship

KegDroid: Combining Arduino, Android, and NFC to Dispense Beer

April 30th, 2012 04:20 admin View Comments

Beer

mikejuk writes, quoting I Programmer: “If you are looking for an exciting hardware project, KegDroid deserves a look. It is a sophisticated system that involves Android, Arduino, NFC, plumbing and — beer. Perhaps the final stroke of genius is to package the whole thing in a Droid body. Some how the little green fella looks at home on the bar. You have heard of desktop and laptop apps now we have bartop apps to add to the list Details are fuzzy currently, but from all appearances this is a repackaged KegBot in a very fancy shell. (Video for those without Flash.)

Source: KegDroid: Combining Arduino, Android, and NFC to Dispense Beer

Cash For Tweets and Facebook Posts? Aussie Startup Pays You to Astroturf

April 30th, 2012 04:50 admin View Comments

Facebook

An anonymous reader writes “While the celebs are already charging big money for their Tweets, an Aussie startup is ranking everyday people and turning them into product salespeople. After a successful start Down Under they have now hit Silicon Valley, but will Americans embrace selling to their friends?” From the article: “In a nutshell, individuals sign up to the Social Loot website and are assigned companies to promote to their circle of online friends. They are then paid on a sliding scale based on the amount of traffic their posts generate, and the quality of referrals and number of resulting sales. This is tracked by a code embedded in the links promoted by Social Loot’s spruikers.”

Source: Cash For Tweets and Facebook Posts? Aussie Startup Pays You to Astroturf

The Rise of Beautiful Apps

April 30th, 2012 04:55 admin View Comments

A noticeable trend this year is beautiful apps or websites. It’s all part of a larger trend that I’m calling The Visual Web, meaning that images and video are becoming an increasingly important part of what we consume online. Pinterest is the best example of that larger trend. But by “beautiful apps or websites,” I’m specifically referring to extremely well-designed apps or websites. Ones that make you drool. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I think we all agree that Johnny Depp and Reece Witherspoon are particularly fine examples of beauty in human form. So what’s the app equivalent of Johnny Depp? Or the website version of Reece Witherspoon?

One beautiful site I came across today is Art.sy, an art social network currently in private beta. The colorful art works are visually stunning. The images contrast nicely with the white background and black navigation fonts of the site. The art works are displayed as high resolution images, which allows you to zoom in for a much closer look. Here are some screenshots showing how I was able to get an up-close-and-personal view of an art piece called ‘Kaleidoscope’ by Marcelo Silveira.

The photo sharing app is one of the most common types of apps on the Web. Flickr was the darling of the Web 2.0 era, Instagram became the mobile web photo tool of choice. Could 500px become the photo sharing app for the Visual Web?

Our own Jon Mitchell nailed it, when he compared 500px to Flickr: “…500px has a stylish interface and more attractive photo presentation, arguably the most important feature for a photo site. It has a great new uploader app for the Mac and a gorgeous new viewer on the iPad. Flickr’s growth has slowed under Yahoo, and 500px is shipping worthy features for the 2012 Web at a prodigious rate.”

Being beautiful is just part of the equation, of course. Johnny Depp may be an incredibly handsome man, but it was his intelligence, quirkiness and charm that made him a superstar. So the likes of Art.sy and 500px will need to do a lot more than just look pretty. They need network effects, which means there must be a compelling reason for people to come back and use these services every day.

Being beautiful isn’t that reason, although it doesn’t harm their prospects for success.

Let us know your favorite beautiful app or website, in the comments – or via Twitter, Facebook or Google+. We’ll follow-up with another post after we compile your picks.

Source: The Rise of Beautiful Apps

The Rise of Beautiful Apps

April 30th, 2012 04:55 admin View Comments

A noticeable trend this year is beautiful apps or websites. It’s all part of a larger trend that I’m calling The Visual Web, meaning that images and video are becoming an increasingly important part of what we consume online. Pinterest is the best example of that larger trend. But by “beautiful apps or websites,” I’m specifically referring to extremely well-designed apps or websites. Ones that make you drool. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I think we all agree that Johnny Depp and Reece Witherspoon are particularly fine examples of beauty in human form. So what’s the app equivalent of Johnny Depp? Or the website version of Reece Witherspoon?

One beautiful site I came across today is Art.sy, an art social network currently in private beta. The colorful art works are visually stunning. The images contrast nicely with the white background and black navigation fonts of the site. The art works are displayed as high resolution images, which allows you to zoom in for a much closer look. Here are some screenshots showing how I was able to get an up-close-and-personal view of an art piece called ‘Kaleidoscope’ by Marcelo Silveira.

The photo sharing app is one of the most common types of apps on the Web. Flickr was the darling of the Web 2.0 era, Instagram became the mobile web photo tool of choice. Could 500px become the photo sharing app for the Visual Web?

Our own Jon Mitchell nailed it, when he compared 500px to Flickr: “…500px has a stylish interface and more attractive photo presentation, arguably the most important feature for a photo site. It has a great new uploader app for the Mac and a gorgeous new viewer on the iPad. Flickr’s growth has slowed under Yahoo, and 500px is shipping worthy features for the 2012 Web at a prodigious rate.”

Being beautiful is just part of the equation, of course. Johnny Depp may be an incredibly handsome man, but it was his intelligence, quirkiness and charm that made him a superstar. So the likes of Art.sy and 500px will need to do a lot more than just look pretty. They need network effects, which means there must be a compelling reason for people to come back and use these services every day.

Being beautiful isn’t that reason, although it doesn’t harm their prospects for success.

Let us know your favorite beautiful app or website, in the comments – or via Twitter, Facebook or Google+. We’ll follow-up with another post after we compile your picks.

Source: The Rise of Beautiful Apps

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Intuit Grabs for Bigger Chunk Of Small-Business SaaS Market With Demandforce Buy

April 30th, 2012 04:41 admin View Comments

In announcing plans to buy Demandforce, a marketing Software-as-a-Service provider, Intuit is signaling its intention to grab a bigger share of the high-end of the small business market.

With its market-leading Quickbooks product, Intuit is already the dominant force in sales of accounting and payroll software for small businesses. In an attempt to expand its portfolio – especially in the fast-growing SaaS segment, the company said Friday it would acquire Demandforce in May for $423.5 million in cash, making it the company’s most expensive purchase under chief executive Brad Smith.

From the Yellow Pages to the Web

Demandforce would bring Intuit customers SaaS tools for leveraging Twitter, Facebook and email for scheduling and marketing. The vendor’s service is meant as an alternative to newspapers and the Yellow pages. Demandforce’s target markets include dentists, automotive shops, spas and salons, optometry and chiropractors.

Intuit has not said whether it will fold Demandforce into existing products or let it continue as a separate operation and cross-sell to Demandforce’s 35,000 customers. Founded in 2003, Demandforce had $37.5 million in sales last year, Patrick Barry, the company’s chief marketing officer, told financial news agency Bloomberg.

Whichever path Intuit chooses, the company is looking to take advantage of what analysts see as a trend toward selling small businesses online services with software capabilities once available only to enterprises. “Our view is that the next decade of growth in software will come from small businesses who can now buy enterprise class software at very compelling prices,” Peter Goldmacher, analysts for Cowen & Co., said in a research note. “This market remains wide open and very competitive.”

Raising Revenue per Customer

In addition to Demandforce’s own business, the acquisition will also help Intuit target online customers used to paying $200 to $300 a month for a subscription service, versus the $13 to $100 a month Intuit charges for the online versions of QuickBooks. As a result, analysts expect Demandforce to raise Intuit’s revenue per customer. Intuit already offers a marketing management product called QuickBase.

Demandforce could also complement Intuit’s QuickBooks Enterprise, which is available through a software license or online subscription. Revenue from QuickBooks Enterprise and the rest of Intuit’s Quickbooks online services rose 31% in the quarter ended Jan. 31, according to the company.

Benchmark Capital was among the largest investors in Demandforce. Bill Gurley, a general partner at Benchmark, said the Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm saw Demandforce as part of a trend in which small businesses are turning to the Web as a marketing tool over traditional media. Small businesses spend more than $125 billion a year on non-digital media, according to Gurley.

“These business owners know they need new solutions, and these dollars will be reallocated to these exciting new platforms,” he said in his blog.

It appears Intuit thinks he’s right.

Competition in Tax-Prep Software

The company could use the growth, because competition is getting tougher in the tax preparation business, Intuit’s largest revenue generator. Last week, Intuit warned that revenue in the current quarter would be “at or slightly below the low end” of its previous projections. The drop is due to disappointing sales of its online tax prep software. Analysts have said they expect the setback to be temporary.

Source: Intuit Grabs for Bigger Chunk Of Small-Business SaaS Market With Demandforce Buy

Ask Slashdot: Building A Server Rack Into a New Home?

April 30th, 2012 04:54 admin View Comments

Network

jawtheshark writes “I’m building a house, and obviously I want a modest network built-in. Nothing fancy, two RJ-45 per room, four in the living room, and that’s basically it. I already got myself a rack mountable Cisco Small Business switch and I have a self-built 4U server (low-power, won’t make much heat) which can be rack mounted (505mm deep). Now, the construction company suggests a wall mounted rack (6U: 340mm x 600mm x 480mm — 6U definitely won’t be enough, but a 12U model exists). It’s not expensive, but I have never worked on a rack where the backside is unreachable. (For work, I get to work in a data center with huge racks that are accessible from both sides). Now obviously, I don’t need a data center-grade rack, but these wall-mounted racks scream ‘switch-only’ racks to me. What are your experiences? Is it possible to put servers in racks like these, or should I find a ‘both-side-accessible’ rack instead?”

Source: Ask Slashdot: Building A Server Rack Into a New Home?

Ask Slashdot: Building A Server Rack Into a New Home?

April 30th, 2012 04:54 admin View Comments

Network

jawtheshark writes “I’m building a house, and obviously I want a modest network built-in. Nothing fancy, two RJ-45 per room, four in the living room, and that’s basically it. I already got myself a rack mountable Cisco Small Business switch and I have a self-built 4U server (low-power, won’t make much heat) which can be rack mounted (505mm deep). Now, the construction company suggests a wall mounted rack (6U: 340mm x 600mm x 480mm — 6U definitely won’t be enough, but a 12U model exists). It’s not expensive, but I have never worked on a rack where the backside is unreachable. (For work, I get to work in a data center with huge racks that are accessible from both sides). Now obviously, I don’t need a data center-grade rack, but these wall-mounted racks scream ‘switch-only’ racks to me. What are your experiences? Is it possible to put servers in racks like these, or should I find a ‘both-side-accessible’ rack instead?”

Source: Ask Slashdot: Building A Server Rack Into a New Home?

Congress Wants To Resurrect Laser-Wielding 747

April 30th, 2012 04:11 admin View Comments

Shark

Harperdog writes “Noah Schactman has a great piece on the Airborne Laser, the ray gun-equipped 747 that became a symbol of wasteful Pentagon weaponeering. Despite sixteen years and billions of dollars in development, the jet could never reliably blast a missile in trials. Now the House Armed Services Committee’s Strategic Forces wants the Airborne Laser to be used to defend us against the threat of North Korea‘s failed missiles.”

Source: Congress Wants To Resurrect Laser-Wielding 747

First Look at Informatica’s Cloud Data Integration Apps Store

April 30th, 2012 04:48 admin View Comments

There are two competing approaches to the emerging field of cloud-oriented data management. One is tied to the field of “big data,” and is based on the theory that unique data from disparate sources can be unified through a single repository or warehouse – this is the IBM ideal that is making advances this week at the company’s Impact 2012 conference in Las Vegas.

The other may seem just as wild: Every enterprise will have a unique repertoire of data sources, some of which will need to be paired. Informatica’s theory is that IT departments will discover the ways to integrate these disparate data sources on their own, and then once they attain a solution, will be willing to share their discoveries with the rest of the world through a kind of apps store. It’s the basis behind the Informatica Cloud platform, to which ReadWriteWeb introduced you last November (Informatica’s Integration Cloud Bridges SAP, Salesforce, Others), and which today took the next critical step: the launch of a Developer Edition of the tool kit Informatica customers will use to create these integration apps.

“One of our core technologies is data federation,” stated Informatica’s cloud marketing vice president, Darren Cunningham, in an interview with ReadWriteWeb today. Yes, he’s seizing upon IBM’s key phrase these days and using it for what IBM would likely describe as its own purposes. But the point he’s making is that you might not need a completely separate, new and barely manageable “big data” repository just to make existing data interoperable.

“What’s happened is, these cloud applications have come in [to the enterprise] through what we call ‘outside-in’ purchasing – divisions, departments. And the result in many organizations is siloed information,” Cunningham continued, “siloed data, data fragmentation.” Up to now, he said, Informatica has been approaching its data integration services as “purpose-built” applications that utilize a cloud-based platform to interleave one format with another – making existing data from SAP and SQL Server, for example, immediately accessible to Salesforce.

In our first interview with the company last November, Informatica flat-out admitted it would not be able to conceive, let alone produce, every foreseeable input/output connection between data sources on its own. It intended to build tools to let customers not only do some of this for themselves, but discover instances where other companies have already done the job. With Informatica’s scheduled Spring Release, whose rollout begins now, IT departments are getting a new Cloud Connector Toolkit – a kind of IDE for homemade, purpose-built cloud integration.

It’s a bit of a stretch, especially since cloud services and nearly anything that gets the “-aaS” treatment these days is being purchased by operations managers, not the typical procurement managers and CIOs. So won’t Cloud Connector have two different audiences: the buyer and the user?

Cunningham responded this way: “Really, how this business started was through selling to the one group that was really dominating the purchasing and implementation. In the last six months in particular, we’ve seen a real tipping point where enterprise IT can no longer run from the cloud. More organizations are becoming cloud-first, where they have to justify why a purchase isn’t cloud-based. Over the last few releases, we’ve focused on the enterprise IT set of requirements, to make this something they would even consider. We’ve introduced things like fine-grained access control, and the ability for one master instance of Informatica Cloud to be deployed to different groups, and centrally manage who can access what data when. We’ve really tried to meet the needs of the group whom we saw emerging as the buyers.”

Nearly every viable cloud service platform today offers a RESTful API – it’s becoming part of the definition of a platform. Cunningham believes that as APIs become a regular part of the enterprise-computing landscape, the need for some kind of ecosystem to enable data-driven connections between the platforms exposing those APIs will be obvious.  By contrast, he argued, “With IBM, it’s hard to know where things are going to fit within their different InfoSphere and WebSphere buckets.”

Once developers make connections, they may voluntarily make them available through the Informatica Cloud. Though some templates will be made available through the Template Repository (above), other partners will be able to certify their products through Informatica and sell them through its marketplace – so it’s literally building an apps store, even in the retail sense. “In future phases of delivery, we envision this benefitting customers as well,” explained Cunningham, “where internal IT might build a privately built connector or tool, and make it available within Informatica Cloud. That will be Phase II of our Cloud Connector Toolkit; Phase I is really designed for systems integrators and applications developers.”

One example of a working partnership Informatica shared involves sales incentive compensation management solution provider Xactly (say that three times fast!), which built an SMB version of its application, called Xactly Express, on Salesforce’s Force.com platform. Xactly Express needs to connect with small-business accounting packages such as QuickBooks or NetSuite (which may not be a requirement for the enterprise), but the company’s R&D team was already committed full-time with the core product.

So Xactly partnered with Informatica in the production of connectivity templates, using tools like the one depicted above. Now Xactly customers are connecting to their database-bound tables by way of RESTful API calls placed to the Informatica Cloud, which reinterprets the data and presents results back in real time. “The Xactly Express buyer and user doesn’t know that Informatica is in there; we look like part of their administration screen,” explained Cunningham, noting the company’s less-than-unique-but-fitting new marketing slogan, “Informatica Inside.”

His argument is somewhat the opposite of IBM’s, and to some extent SAP’s as well – the notion that information workers must get smarter and build new skills for overseeing and analyzing a plethora of data sources through a single, overarching repository. Informatica is arguing that if integration and federation are truly working properly, the customer actually won’t notice anything new or overarching at all.

“Integration cannot really be pushed out. It needs to be dealt with early and thought through,” Cunningham added. “Security will always be a big question as it relates to cloud computing, but integration has become much more top-of-mind, whether it’s a Software-as-a-Service platform or Infrastructure-as-a-Service. That’s where companies like Informatica have a great opportunity, and that’s why we’re trying to make our technology as easy to adopt and easy to embed as possible.”

Source: First Look at Informatica’s Cloud Data Integration Apps Store

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