Archive for October, 2010

LeWeb ’10 Program Revealed — With A Whole Lot Of TechCrunch

October 31st, 2010 10:31 admin View Comments

"Screen shot 2010-10-31 at 10.29.03 PM" src=
alt="" width="161" height="137" />About a month ago, we noted that
LeWeb would be getting a bit
more TechCrunch
this year. For the seventh iteration of the popular tech
conference based in Paris, France, organizers Geraldine and
Loic Le
decided to make their startup competition a bit more like
a mini-TechCrunch Disrupt. That is, of the 16 startups launching, 3
will get time on the big stage to present in front of everyone and
a winner will be chosen. And that won’t be the only
TechCrunch influence felt.

As you can see on the just-released program for LeWeb
’10, TechCrunch names are all over the agenda. A group
of us are slated to interview some of the big names in tech on
stage during the two-day conference, which takes place on December
8 and 9 this year. And there seem to be a range of other
interesting talks and panels as well.

A taste of the highlights:

  • Leaders from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Mozilla,
    Foursquare, WordPress, EA, MySpace, UStream, Evernote, Microsoft,
    PayPal, Nokia, RIM, and more on stage.
  • You can learn about how to get your company acquired (with
    people from Microsoft and Twitter).
  • You can learn about how to create a top mobile game (with the
    CEO behind the company responsible for Angry Birds).
  • You can hear about innovation in other parts of the world, such
    as Japan (with the CEO of DeNA).
  • You can hear about where the media is heading (with people from
    CNN and Techmeme).
  • A partner at DST will talk about investing hundreds of millions
    in Zynga and Facebook.
  • You can learn about the building of a solar pane plane.
  • Howard
    , Gary
    , Leo Laporte,
    , Yossi Vardi,
    , and more will all be on hand for talks.

And, of course, the Disrupt-like startup competition finals with
be hosted by our own Michael
and August Capital partner David

For a longer intro, be sure to check out Loic and
Geraldine’s full rundown in the video below. And if
you’re interested in attending, use this
for a 200 euro discount for TechCrunch readers. Hopefully
we’ll see some of you in Paris in a few weeks.

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Source: LeWeb ’10 Program Revealed — With A Whole Lot Of TechCrunch

Categories: techcrunch Tags: , , , ,

Facebook Buys a Private File Sharing Service

October 31st, 2010 10:46 admin View Comments

writes “Facebook
has purchased most of
, an online content-sharing
service, but the social-networking giant sounds more interested in
acquiring the company’s developers than its technology. is
a service that lets users create a ‘drop’ where they can share
documents, videos and other digital content. The user can set a
time for how long the drop will exist, decide who can view the
content, set permissions for who can alter the content and share
content in a variety of ways, including on Facebook.”

Source: Facebook Buys a Private File Sharing Service

If You’re Not in Pain, You’re Not in an Emerging Market

October 31st, 2010 10:30 admin View Comments

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alt="" width="300" height="262" />
JAKARTA–It was only a
few days ago I was sitting in a wheelchair getting a blood

It was Friday night in Singapore, and I was at Clarke Quay– a
pseudo-outdoor mall of clubs that was like a smaller scale version
of the Las Vegas strip frequented by Singaporean college kids,
goofy Western expats and hot Asian girls, mind-bogglingly shimmied
into too-tight dresses.

Everything in Clarke Quay — and Singapore for that
matter– is highly competitive, and the clubs rotate in and
out of business. So to stay popular, it’s important to have a
gimmick. There was Highlands, the scotch bar, where the waitresses
wore short kilts and the chandeliers had antlers. There was Lunar,
where the gimmick was simply being “cold”– indeed
that can be a novelty in Singapore’s sweltering heat and
humidity. Then there was the Pump Room where a large cross-dresser
belted out tunes, in between the thumping techno music.

But I was at the most over-the-top, a bar called Clinic. You sit
in a wheelchair, and you get your drink in the form of an IV–
with a name like the blood transfusion–delivered by a young
nurse. Want a shot? It comes in an oversized plastic syringe. It
felt a little wrong– I mean, I’ve seen enough of Asia
to know people could have used those medical supplies for more than
partying. But there I was nonetheless, doing wheelies and sucking
on an IV.

It was the essence of Singapore: An Asian themepark developed
for Asians who want a Western lifestyle and Westerners who want an
Asian lifestyle– but can’t quite commit to either. A
true sign you’re in Singapore? I didn’t have to use a
single squat toilet– even in the dodgier areas of the city.
In Asia, the toilets don’t lie.

Singapore times how long it takes to get through its immigration
line, obsessive trying to get it under 11 minutes. I breezed
through on arrival and departure. “I’m here because of
the airport,” said KF Lai, founder and CEO of BuzzCity, an ad
network that monetizes the throng of mobile users in
Singapore’s chaotic neighboring nations. Compare
that to Jakarta. I arrived Saturday and despite being on one of the
only arriving flights at that time, I stood in the immigration line
for about 45 minutes.

It’s not that Jakarta doesn’t have its Western
bubbles. But they’re smaller and colliding with the
city’s larger reality much more frequently. The walk in
between the comfortable apartment I’m borrowing in Jakarta
and the cavernous, Western shopping mall, the Grand Indonesian,
took me through a sprawling slum and along streets so jammed with
traffic, I almost got clipped by a motorbike a few times. My first
day in town, walking through the slum– getting deeper and
deeper as I kept taking wrong turns– I stuck out like a sore
thumb. A big, tall, pale-white American woman who only knows about
three words in Bahasa. One of those was “pulsa,” which
means “credit.” I was wandering this neighborhood
seeking a top-up on my pre-paid SIM card– something that is
ironically easier to do in the slum here than in that opulent

This is the disconnect of Southeast Asia right now: There is
enough of a middle class that Western companies want to be
here– and Web companies want to make sure they don’t
miss out like they did in China. But a place like Jakarta is still
a Wild West. A neighborhood like the one I wandered through is so
far from the consumer reality in the US– it’s hard to
imagine the opportunity is as big as it is for Western companies.
Trying to do business in Indonesia, particularly in the Web space,
is about vacillating between the fear that
it will take another ten years to build a $1 billion Web business
(ala India) and the fear that it’ll take off overnight
without you (ala China.)

Progress on this kind of scale is just messy and
putting a comfort bandaid on it only hides the issues and the
opportunities. Almost every day in Jakarta
there’s a protest in front of the city’s Soviet-esque
Welcome statue, that people get plenty of time to look at because
the roundabout is always clogged with traffic. It’s the
incarnation of democracy and capitalism: Democracy means people
dissent and capitalism means everyone who can afford a car wants a
car. In my opinion, parts of Jakarta can put on a better face than
India– where there’s been so much rapid urbanization
the big cities are an out-of-control infrastructure mess. But
plenty of Jakarta is scary and unpredictable, plagued with poverty
and corruption.

It’s this disconnect that Singapore is hoping to bridge, a
sort of economic and cultural translator for the West. And on
paper– and in a few industries that I’ll detail in my
next post– that makes sense. Singapore is, after all, just a
short flight from India, China, most of Southeast Asia. And because
it is 40% made up of immigrants, you can find a lot of local market
expertise on the tiny island. But is Singapore really that much
closer to the market? Physically yes, but don’t kid
yourself– if it’s this comfortable, you’re not
experiencing an emerging market and you’re not going to
understand your customers. You aren’t going to understand how
the five-tower pricy apartment building I’m staying in sold
out in a flash, how the Grand Indonesian was packed with
affluence-seekers on a Sunday afternoon and yet how so many people
on the walk in between still live like it’s 100 years ago. If
that’s what you want to understand in Asia, Singapore might
as well be on the moon.

Sure, Singapore is growing at
an economically drool-worthy 18% a year but
that’s not because of an exploding middle class climbing the
prosperity ladder. Lai and others tell me between 50% and 70% of
the economy is in providing comfort for the region’s wealthy,
whether it’s five-star hotels,
expensive expat penthouses
, or the real cash king–
financial services for offshore money. Singapore is like a summer
camp for the region’s rich, and that’s mostly who
you’ll find there.

There’s just no hack around the pain of building a
consumer business in emerging markets. Living in Singapore
won’t teach you the market, any more than living in an expat
enclave in Jakarta will. Without experiencing the pain and
frustration of everyday life, you can’t understand this new
customer. Like the old West, it’s exactly that unstructured
inefficiency that creates so many opportunities. By the time
problems like local talent, infrastructure are all figured out,
you’ve got China– a place where local companies have
grabbed most of the opportunities.

Source: If You’re Not in Pain, You’re Not in an Emerging Market

UK Wants ISPs to be Responsible for Third Party Content Online

October 31st, 2010 10:05 admin View Comments

An anonymous reader writes “A key UK government minister, Ed
Vaizey (Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative
Industries), has ominously proposed that internet providers (ISPs)
should introduce a new Mediation Service that would allow them the

freedom to censor third party content on the internet
, without
court intervention, in response to little more than a public
complaint. Vaizey anticipates that internet users could use the
‘service’ to request that any material deemed to be ‘inaccurate’
(good luck with that) or privacy infringing is removed. No doubt
any genuine complaints would probably get lost in a sea of abuse by
commercial firms trying to attack freedom of speech and

Source: UK Wants ISPs to be Responsible for Third Party Content Online

VLC Media Player Might Be Pulled From the App Store; Grab It Now

October 31st, 2010 10:53 admin View Comments

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Applidium had released the target="_self">VLC Media Player for iPhone and iPod Touch
earlier in the week after releasing VLC Media Player for iPad a month back.

If you haven’t
downloaded it already then do it quickly as it might be removed
from the App

Rémi Denis-Courmont,
one of the primary developers of the VLC Media Player has filed a
formal copyright complaint to Apple regarding distribution of the
VLC media player for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch on the App

Rémi Denis-Courmont
has issued the following statement:

Today, a formal notification of
copyright infringement was sent to Apple Inc. regarding
distribution of the VLC media player for iPad, iPhone and iPod
Touch. VLC media player is free software licensed solely under the
terms of the open source GNU General Public License (a.k.a. GPL).
Those terms are contradicted by the products usage rules of the
AppStore through which Apple delivers applications to users of its
mobile devices.

However, the folks at VideoLAN who
also have limited rights on VLC had given Applidium the green
signal to port VLC to iOS don’t seem to agree
with Denis-Courmont’s stance. They have
responded with the following "_blank">tweets:

Maybe the FSF should actually ask us our opinion instead of
writing misleading articles about VLC…

@dougsymon @Lrichie_london So far, VLC is not going out of
the AppStore…

As of now VLC Media Player is still
available on the App Store but don’t take any
chances and download it right now using this target="_blank">iTunes link, after all its free.

[via target="_blank">iLounge]

Source: VLC Media Player Might Be Pulled From the App Store; Grab It Now

Mr. Pike, Tear Down This ASCII Wall!

October 31st, 2010 10:07 admin View Comments

theodp writes “To move forward with programming languages,
argues Poul-Henning Kamp, we need to break free
from the tyranny of ASCII
. While Kamp admires programming
language designers like the Father-of-Go Rob Pike, he simply can’t
forgive Pike for ‘trying to cram an expressive syntax into the
straitjacket of the 95 glyphs
when Unicode has been the new black for most of the
past decade.’ Kamp adds: ‘For some reason computer people are so
conservative that we still find it more uncompromisingly important
for our source code to be compatible with a Teletype ASR-33
terminal and its 1963-vintage ASCII table than it is for us to be
able to express our intentions clearly.’ So, should the new
look more
like this

Crazy Slashdot!

Source: Mr. Pike, Tear Down This ASCII Wall!

Zuckerberg Vs. D’Angelo, Before They Were Stars And Where Are They Now?

October 31st, 2010 10:37 admin View Comments

“The playlist ran out on my computer, and I thought, ‘You know, there’s really no reason why my computer shouldn’t just know what I want to learn next,”

he explains.

“So that’s what we made.”

Mark Zuckerberg,

Harvard Crimson interview,


Above is the

Team page for Synapse

, the Pandora-like music recommendation plugin Facebook CEO

Mark Zuckerberg

and former Facebook employee and Quora founder

Adam D’Angelo

built in 2002, while they were in high school together. You can access the entire site through its

Google cache here


Aol, WinAmp, and Microsoft all

expressed interest

in buying the WinAmp program and Zuckerberg and D’Angelo reportedly received up offers of up to 2 million dollars, which they famously turned down.

Items in the above image presented without commentary: The fact that high school student D’Angelo is described as being

“hung like a horse.”

The consistent references to “Programmer Gods” woven throughout the site. The fact that the Synapse slogan is

“My brain is better than yours.”

The Coolio reference. Whatever

“If you hit it and that thing feels deeper, say his name”

means (shudder).

Hey, we’ve all written strange things on the Internet, and most of us would have lived our lives differently had we known they would one day be searchable (or in this case, cache-able). However, what is most interesting about this page is the fact that D’Angelo’s Quora and Zuckerberg’s Facebook are now in direct competition over their respective Q&A products.

And there seems to be some contention over just how friendly this competition is: Facebook’s Director of Product

Blake Ross

is the subject of an entire thread on Quora called

“The Oct 2010 Blake Ross Quoragate Farrago”

where there is much speculation over exactly why he unable to login to Quora and why his account there was deleted in early October.

There’s also lot of talk on



Facebook Questions

about a possible dispute between Facebook and Quora, with one thread accusing

Facebook of blocking Quora users from gaining access to Questions

over the summer. Ross tells TechCrunch that this is not the case and that,


e don’t feel animosity toward Quora. It’s a terrific product. I worked closely with all of the founders in the past

. I wish the media would stop trying to turn Silicon Valley into TMZ.”

Ross also tells TechCrunch that whatever happened with his Quora account has

“been resolved.”

Yet he still doesn’t know what exactly happened to his account. Busy Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who

recently asked his first Facebook Question

, hasn’t been active on Quora since January 2009.

No matter which



Facebook Questions

thread you subscribe to, the reality is that Facebook Questions, if rolled out to all users and executed correctly, could kill Quora. The Facebook Questions beta currently has one million users, while the Quora site has around 155K (very passionate) users.

Facebook wins the numbers game by default, but many hold that Quora retains a better user experience in terms of quality of answers and a strong community — So it remains to be seen which former Synapse co-founder will ultimately be

“the king of the spreadsheets,”

at least in the Q&A space.

Source: Zuckerberg Vs. D’Angelo, Before They Were Stars And Where Are They Now?

NSFW: Yep, Montblanc Killed my MacBook Pro Today

October 31st, 2010 10:41 admin View Comments

Last Wednesday, I got my hands on a new

Meisterstück Le Grand Traveller pen

. I haven’t touched my MacBook Pro since. It’s twelve months old. RIP.

Stop. Take a deep breath. Before my opening paragraph gets you all worked up, consider what I’m saying here. I’m saying that my TechCrunch options just

cashed out

and I’ve just used some of the money to buy an awesome new pen. And it’s beautiful. And I want to write a post all about how awesome and beautiful it is.

No – wait – I’ve just looked back at that lede, and you’re right. I am saying more than that. I’m saying that my new pen is so perfect in every way that my purchasing it spells the inevitable end of my MacBook. What’s more, I genuinely and unironically believe that the awesomeness of my pen is such that its halo effect will render your MacBook – and those of everyone you hold dear – useless as well.

But, still, hear me out.

In the next few hundred words I’ll explain all of the myriad reasons why my new Meisterstück Le Grand Traveller – a snip at just shy of $800 (inc tax and ink) – is superior in every way to my $1200 Mac Book Pro. And when you’ve finished reading, I’m confident that you too will want to trade in your clunky old laptop for this masterpiece of German manufacturing. If you don’t, I’ll eat my power cable. After all, I don’t need it any more.

I mean, seriously, did I mention how amazing my freaking pen is?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “but the Meisterstück has been around since 1924 and it hasn’t killed the MacBook yet”. That’s true, but until this week I hadn’t bought one. Now that I have, and now that I’ve written this post about it, surely we can all agree that it’s only a matter of time before the streets are filled with the smell of burning aluminum and glass while former bloggers look on, describing the scenes in their diaries using shiny black fountain pens.

But I’m getting ahead of myself: let’s make a side by side comparison…

My MacBook Pro is 14.35 wide and weighs 5.6lbs. The Meisterstück Le Grand? How about 4.2 inches long and less than a pound in weight. Unbelievable. Of course much of that size difference is down to the lack of a hard drive or battery or any electronic parts in the Meisterstück, but that just adds to its awesomeness. Also, when my MacBook gets warm it sounds like a jetplane taking off – my Meisterstück? It’s


silent, even when it’s operating at full speed. No one believes me when I tell them that, but it’s true.

And how about battery life? My MacBook manages a decent 3-4 hours on a full charge, but compare that to the Meisterstück: I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket for five days – using it constantly – and I haven’t had to plug it in once. Montblanc are killing it with this pen!

But there’s more! When you get your Meisterstück and remove the cap, you will find exactly zero keys inside. My MacBook has 78! In the Meisterstück all of those have been replaced with a single nib, capable of producing not just letters and numbers but also signs, shapes and runes. For a writer like me, that’s gold! (Note: the nib is actually gold) To be honest, I feel a bit silly having carried around all those keys for so long – the truth is, there are at least 10% that I haven’t ever used. I mean what’s the “^” even



Ok, so that’s hardware: how about applications? Of course, this is where the MacBook should have the edge: after all, with my MacBook I’m able to listen to music, write and send documents and use social media tools like Twitter. Surely my Meisterstück can’t compete with all that?

You wanna bet?

Here I am, not just listening to music, but ACTUALLY PLAYING IT….

Twitter? No problem!

And how about writing and mailing documents, or publishing blog posts? Well, ok, I admit that’s a little slower with the Meisterstück. I started writing this column shortly after MG published his





to his new MacBook Air, and it would definitely have been funnier if I’d been able to publish sooner – but first I had to write it longhand….

…..then mail it to AOL to be transcribed….

….the wait for it to be published. But, as any MacBook Air user will tell you, sometimes you have to take a few technological steps backward in order to make a giant leap forward.

And those leaps just go on and on: my Meisterstück has a pocket clip, a removable cap and a brass insert capable of holding


ink cartridges (along with the six spares kept in the leather carry pouch). I called Apple a few hours ago and asked if ANY ONE of these features was on their roadmap for the MacBook. They hung up on me, but I think we all know the answer! Yeah – Rest In Pieces, MacBook!

With my purchase of a

Moleskine notebook

three years ago, I put the wheels in motion to kill my MacBook. This week, by purchasing an awesome pen, I kicked off my final assault. There will be no survivors.

Now if you’ll excuse us, my pen and I are heading to Hawaii for a few days of “couple time” away from all you lameos and your tired old “crap books”. Try not to be too jealous when you see my pen gliding through the x-ray machine without me having to remove it from its case!

See you in the future, suckers!

Source: NSFW: Yep, Montblanc Killed my MacBook Pro Today

KDE Developers Discuss Merging Libraries With Qt

October 31st, 2010 10:38 admin View Comments

An anonymous reader writes

“A proposal has been brought up with KDE developers by Cornelius Schumacher to

merge the KDE libraries with the upstream Qt project

. This could potentially lead to KDE5 coming about sooner than anticipated, but there’s very mixed views on whether merging kdelibs with Qt would actually be beneficial to the KDE project, which has already led to two lengthy mailing list talks (

the first



threads). What do you think?”

Source: KDE Developers Discuss Merging Libraries With Qt

KDE Developers Discuss Merging Libraries With Qt

October 31st, 2010 10:38 admin View Comments

An anonymous reader writes

“A proposal has been brought up with KDE developers by Cornelius Schumacher to

merge the KDE libraries with the upstream Qt project

. This could potentially lead to KDE5 coming about sooner than anticipated, but there’s very mixed views on whether merging kdelibs with Qt would actually be beneficial to the KDE project, which has already led to two lengthy mailing list talks (

the first



threads). What do you think?”

Source: KDE Developers Discuss Merging Libraries With Qt