iMessage DDoS attacks foreshadow a bigger threat

Recently, several iOS developers became victims to an iMessage DDoS attack that crashed their app and inhibited their devices. The attacks were executed using a simple AppleScript, where the attackers are able to send out an unlimited, fast-pace amount of messages to the recipient. Depending on the content of the message, the app would either crash, or would shell out notifications at an annoyingly, alarming rate.

iMessage DDoS attacks foreshadow a bigger threat

The good news for right now is that the attacks only seem to be limited to a small group of people, and only to devices that have been jailbroken. However, the bad news is that anybody, jailbroken iPhone or not, can become a victim to these attacks. One of the victims, Grant Paul, stated, “What’s happening is a simple flood: Apple doesn’t seem to limit how fast messages can be sent, so the attacker is able to send thousands of messages very quickly.” It also looks like the hackers are using throwaway emails, so simply blocking their email will not solve the issue.

iMessage DDoS attacks foreshadow a bigger threat 1

Another victim, iH8sn0w, stated that he was attacked on Wednesday night. He received a blast of messages saying “Hello Human” and “We are Anonymous…” He was able to track down the sender’s email. The developers have discovered that the attacks originated from a Twitter account that sells UDIDs, and that the account was also responsible for facilitating the installation of pirated apps.

While these attacks are small now, they have the potential of becoming widespread. All the attacker needs is your email address. These attacks are able to stall your device because you would need to clear you iMessage queue in order to perform any other actions. Another version of the attack involves mass sending of unicode characters and/or large messages, which ends up crashing your iMessage app and prevents you from re-opening it. Right now, there are no real solutions to the problem besides disabling your iMessage app. Hopefully Apple is able to come up with an effective solution soon.

[via The Next Web]

iMessage DDoS attacks foreshadow a bigger threat is written by Brian Sin & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.

Tunable app shows musicians what pitch-perfect means as they play (video)

Tunable for Android and iOS shows musicians what it takes to be pitchperfect video

Musicians who’ve had some degree of practice will know the lack of sophistication involved in getting an instrument in tune and on time: a light-up tuning box and a swinging metronome may be their only real resources. Affinity Blue knows that mobile apps allow better, and recently unveiled Tunable as a one-stop shop for more exacting performers. The Android and iOS release provides a live graph that shows where the sweet spot is for pitch, and how closely the music has followed along for the past few seconds — a boon for brass players, vocalists and others who need to sustain a note for more than a moment. There’s also a simple tone generator and a customizable metronome that’s easily seen from a distance. While it’s $1 to try Tunable, that might be a pittance for anyone who’d rather spend time mastering a riff than rehashing the basics.

Filed under: Cellphones, Tablets


Via: Fast Company

Source: Affinity Blue

Find treasure with Google’s new treasure map

Following up on YouTube’s April Fool’s Day prank, Google has launched one of its own. It’s similar to its prank last year, when it launched an awesome 8-bit version of its Maps service. This year, Google has transformed Google Maps into a treasure map. In order to access the map, all you have to do is click on “Treasure Mode” on the top right of the Google Maps page. Then you can watch as your location is magically transformed into a treasure map.

Find treasure with Google's treasure map

Google provided an informational video that goes in-depth with its prank. It says that the Google Maps Street View Team discovered the treasures maps of William “Captain” Kid on September 16th, 2012, while they were on an expedition in Madagascar. There are several locations, like San Francisco’s Treasure Island, or San Jose State University, that have the “X” symbol marking treasure spots.

In the video, Google shows that there are many ways to decrypt the codes on Google Maps. Some symbols are revealed with sunlight and others when you align your mobile device with other mobile devices. There are more dangerous ways to decrypt symbols, such as holding your mobile device or laptop over an open fire, or skydiving in order to align your device with the landscape. Of course, Google is courteous (and pre-cautious) and has labeled some of these methods with “Don’t not attempt at home”.

All in all, it’s a well-executed and in-depth April Fool’s Day prank, expected from a company like Google. Throughout today and tomorrow, we should see some more awesomely thought-out pranks, so keep a lookout for them. If you haven’t already, check out YouTube’s April Fool’s Day prank, where they say that YouTube was actually an 8-year long contest where the winner is awarded an MP3 player and a $500 stipend.

Find treasure with Google’s new treasure map is written by Brian Sin & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.

Would Android Matter As Much Without Google?

Android is the dominant force in the mobile operating system landscape. And now more than ever, people are finding that the operating system is not only a strong competitor to iOS, but in some respects, might just be even better.

Now, I’m sure that Apple fans won’t want to hear such a thing. After all, for years, they’ve been supporting Apple’s iOS platform and to hear that Android could possibly come with features that surpass those of iOS is anathema to them. But perhaps it’s time that we all agree that, at the very least, Android and iOS are in a neck-and-neck battle for mobile operating system dominance.


But how did Android get here? The fact is, Android wasn’t even close to iOS in terms of featureset when it launched. But over the last several years, as more vendors brought the operating system to their devices, it gained on Apple. And now, it’s far and away the most dominant operating system in the land.

Although many reasons for Android’s dominance can be drawn, and many of those are valid, I just don’t think any of them are as important or as noteworthy as Google’s shepherding of the platform. Without Google, Android wouldn’t be what it is today.

“An industry created by startups is now dominated by major companies”

If we’ve learned anything of the technology industry over the last few years, it’s that big companies determine the fate of most products. Save for a few cool Kickstarter ideas, the vast majority of successful products today come from major companies. It’s unfortunate that an industry created by startups is now so dominated by major companies, but it’s the reality. And we must begrudgingly accept that.

If an unknown company trying to deliver a new operating system to mobile vendors had delivered Android to the marketplace, it’s unlikely that it would have succeeded. At its launch, few tech media outlets would have picked up the news because of the company’s lack of notoriety, and vendors would have been suspect of such a small firm. A perfect storm would have developed that would have scuttled Android from the outset.

“Success was practically guaranteed”

But with Google behind the operating system, everything is different. When a company of that size and importance in the industry delivers an operating system, people listen. And because of its clout, the company has the unique ability to sign deals with other major firms and get its operating system out to the wild in no time. Success was practically guaranteed when Google, not a small, unknown company, delivered Android.

Now, I’ll freely admit that there have been other major companies that have brought up mobile operating systems, including the company formerly known as Palm and Samsung. And those two companies watched their operating systems fall short. But that’s more about time and a desire to control the hardware-software complex than about winning the OS market. The same might be said for BlackBerry. But Google is different. And its success has proven that.

But, I want to pose this question to you: would Android be Android if not for Google? I’d agree that other major companies could have made it work, but do you think smaller firms would have, as well?

Let us know in the comments below.

Would Android Matter As Much Without Google? is written by Don Reisinger & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.

All Quiet On The Western Front: Gaming M&A May Be In A Lull As A New Generation Grows Up


When you step off the elevator into Kixeye’s new downtown San Francisco office, a guy in military fatigues has you sign an NDA. After you do (I didn’t), a receptionist with a lot of piercings takes your name, while The White Panda’s “Foolish Monsters” blares in the background. Kixeye has whale harpoons stapled to its office walls, bad oil paintings (see left), ceiling-to-floor drawings of fire-breathing dragons and jacked unicorns, a 3-D printer of questionable purpose and little desire to answer to anyone else.

All while remaining profitable, the midcore social gaming company has quintupled its headcount over the last year to more than 450 employees. The company says it has “several” times the $19 million in capital they raised stowed away in the bank.

Too expensive for acquirers and still too small and unproven for public markets, privately-held gaming companies like Kixeye are chugging along profitably and doing things their own way.

“We don’t talk about exit scenarios here. The employees are not here for that,” said Brandon Barber, who is Kixeye’s chief marketing officer. “Most people are here because they love making games and that’s what they want to do. Focusing on that stuff at this point in our trajectory is super distracting.” (If you want to know what Kixeye really thinks of everyone else in the industry, watch this video.)

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, other privately-held gaming companies such as Finland’s Rovio and Supercell, the U.K.’s King and Germany’s Wooga are also growing profitable businesses.

Buyers Beware

That feeling is mutual on the buyers’ side too. Warner Bros said last week that it would be opening a gaming studio in San Francisco. In other words, it is choosing to build, not buy.

“Every time we looked at a company that was really interesting, we found that the price tag was more money than we thought was reasonable to pay,” said Greg Ballard, who is Warner Bros. senior vice president of digital games.

Similarly, EA is holding off after some big ticket deals in the last few years to buy Seattle’s PopCap for up to $1.3 billion.

“With regards to a large acquisition, we’re probably OK for the time being,” said Nick Earl, who oversees most of EA’s free-to-play games as a senior vice president there. “If the right deal presents itself, we would make that deal. But we’re not actively seeking it.” He said his arm of EA’s business, the All Play label, is putting more effort into a smaller number of games this year.

Likewise, Zynga’s COO David Ko emphasized a more “disciplined” approach toward acquisitions in an interview with me last month. Zynga’s shares were burned after the $180 million deal to buy Draw Something-maker OMGPOP. After some layoffs and a hard pivot to mobile platforms, Ko said the company is a lot more rigorous about what it looks for. Since OMGPOP, Zynga has only done a few talent deals with startups such as A Bit Lucky.

Basically, buyers and sellers are at odds over what these companies should be worth. Sellers want several times annualized revenues — based on the months where they have hits. Buyers have limited cash and are aware of how difficult it is to integrate acquisitions and retain talent in such a competitive market. GREE’s U.S. CEO Naoki Aoyagi told me in a panel at an event put on by investment bank Covert & Co. earlier this week that the company was much more careful about structuring retention with the $210 million deal to buy Funzio compared to the time that they spent $104 million to buy OpenFeint. He said he was much “happier” with the Funzio outcome, given that the co-founders have stayed on.

“Just a few years ago top media companies would pay high multiples for game companies on emerging platforms whose ultimate profitability was still unclear,” said Kristian Segerstrale, who just stepped down as executive vice president of EA’s digital business and came to EA through the $300 million acquisition of Playfish. “Most large media companies are still digesting past acquisitions and can simply not afford a reasonable multiple on today’s stars.”

Why Sell?

At the same time, if you can run a creative business that generates loads of cash when you have a hit, why work for anyone else?

On the back of two hit iOS games “Clash of Clans” and “Hay Day”, Finland’s Supercell is opting for a massive round of more than $100 million over acquisition conversations, sources tell me.

“There is a set of profitable, cash generating companies that feel they have a very legitimate shot at challenging the existing cadre of public game companies as the industry’s next leaders,” added Segerstrale, who didn’t comment specifically about Supercell. His early-stage firm Initial Capital is one of Supercell’s largest shareholders.

What that means is that is that the M&A market for big gaming deals might be quiet in the short-term — at least in the West. (The Japanese market is an exception with deals like GREE’s deal to buy Pokelabo, Nexon’s acquisition of Gloops and Softbank’s recent investment in Gung Ho Entertainment.)

It’s possible that the big gaming companies could start to feel comfortable with public markets in a few years, if they have a broad enough portfolio of hit franchises. Companies like San Francisco’s Kabam, Seattle’s Big Fish Games and Finland’s Rovio already regularly report basic revenue figures to generate interest — either from future public shareholders or buyers.

On top of that, it looks like this year is the first one where a single mobile game’s revenues could rival that of a traditional console blockbuster. Japan’s Gung Ho Entertainment published a financial statement a few days ago suggesting that its iOS game Puzzle & Dragons made somewhere between $62 million and 86 million, all in a single month and all from Japan. That company’s stock has surged by more than 2,000% in the last year because of that single title, and Gung Ho is now worth more than $4.8 billion, according to its market capitalization.

IPO Window Still Feels Closed

But none of these companies are going out to market now, especially considering that Zynga shares fell by almost three-quarters in the first year after the company went public.

Instead, this generation of gaming companies is biding its time, riding the wave of surging iOS and Android revenues and making sure that their businesses are more hit-proof.

“IPOs are fine, but there have also been scenarios where it was too much of a focus. Ultimately, they’ve been very destructive to companies that were doing notable and amazing things,” Barber said. “Those variables have to be weighed super carefully, so we’re not in a rush.”

King, an arcade-gaming company that started more than a decade ago, just made the leap to mobile last fall. Its game Candy Crush Saga has been competing with Supercell’s “Clash of Clans” for the top-grossing spot in the U.S. That single title blew through all of the’s company 2013 financial targets in a single month and brought them more mobile daily active users than Zynga had last quarter. They’ve quadrupled their headcount in the last two years ago, haven’t taken funding for eight and have always been profitable.

“We’re not planning to be acquired. There’s a bright future for us, whether we will do an IPO or not,” said King’s CEO Riccardo Zacconi. “We’re just working on execution.”

Switched On: Higher stakes, higher ground for crowdfunding, part 2

Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

DNP Switched On Higher stakes, higher ground for crowdfunding, part 2

Last week’s Switched On discussed the issues around crowdfunding liability, offering examples of some recent tech projects that delivered late or inconsistently, and explaining the justification for sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo denying accountability. Given this, there are a few options in how consumers choose to engage with crowdfunding sites.

Filed under: Misc, Internet


Mysterious Blackberry 10 roadmap leaks

A new Blackberry 10 roadmap, leaked by a mysterious Twitter account, shows that Blackberry has a few interesting devices heading our way. Of course, we have to take this information with a grain of salt, but nonetheless, it does show us an interesting new future for Blackberry. In the leaked roadmap, we see that Blackberry is planning on releasing a 10-inch tablet, a phablet, and another touchscreen device with a fully QWERTY keyboard.

Blackberry 10 roadmap reveals interest new devices 1

Blackberry planned on releasing a 10-inch version of its Blackberry Playbook last year, but ended up cancelling the device due to poor sales of its 7-inch Blackberry Playbook device. Many Blackberry fanatics will be pleased to know that an even better, 10-inch tablet may be headed their way sometime in Q3/Q4 of this year. Instead of running the Playbook’s QNX operating system, it will run the more polished, Blackberry 10 OS.

Blackberry 10 roadmap reveals interest new devices

The roadmap also shows that Blackberry intends on releasing another touchscreen device between Q4 of this year and Q1 of next year. The device may be a phablet because it looks much bigger than the Z10 and the Q10 on the roadmap. It’s speculated to be the Blackberry Aristo that was rumored before, which is said to have a display that’s 5-inches or larger.

The last device looks to have both a touchscreen display as well as a full-QWERTY keyboard. It resembles the Blackberry Q10, however it looks like it will have a much bigger display. It is also speculated to be a mid-ranged Curve device that’s part of the rumored Blackberry R-Series. Thorsten Heins, Blackberry’s CEO, confirmed that there will be plans for mid-ranged Blackberry 10 devices this year.

What’s strange about this roadmap is that recently, Martyn Mallick, VP for Global Alliances and Business Development for Blackberry, stated that Blackberry devices will come in 1 of 2 screen sizes this year. He may have believed that the Blackberry phablet and the touchscreen full-QWERTY phone would be coming next year however. Whatever the case may be, these devices will be able to fully utilize the 100,000 apps in the Blackberry World, 20% of which are Android ports. Be sure to check out our review of Blackberry’s first Blackberry 10 device, the Blackberry Z10.

[via Crackberry]

Mysterious Blackberry 10 roadmap leaks is written by Brian Sin & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.

What Games Are: My Three GDC Themes


Editor’s note: Tadhg Kelly is a veteran game designer, creator of leading game design blog What Games Are and creative director of Jawfish Games. You can follow him on Twitter here.

The Game Developer’s Conference was, as expected, a whirlwind. Folks from all across the games industry and associated media came together, ate, drank, talked, queued, played, partied and even danced with wild abandon, and everyone’s takeaways from the event were different.

GDC is so big that nobody is able to objectively summarize what it is, but the separation between the talk and the business sides is palpable. If you mostly hung around in Moscone West and North then your GDC was probably all about education and big ideas. If you stayed more in the Expo, Moscone South or around the W hotel, it was more likely a sea of business cards. Depending on where you spent your time, there were whole parts of GDC you’d never see, news that you heard indirectly, rumors and issues which emerged on one side that the other either misunderstood or was completely unaware of.

This year I found myself straddling the divide, with many meetings and talks filling my calendar to bursting. I saw some things, learned some stuff and met some people, and some themes emerged for me. No doubt others who attended had a completely different experience.

My first theme was the increasing voice of women in games. The role, perception and treatment of women in the industry has been a long-standing issue. The most visible sign of this is the use of booth babes at trade shows to promote games, but it goes way beyond that. Female game makers have long felt that they have to struggle twice as hard to be taken seriously. They also feel woefully underrepresented by the industry’s output – even though women make up the majority market for casual and social games, for example, representations of women are often anodyne at best.

As a result of the #1reasonwhy meme of last year (which saw many female game makers express their frustrations on Twitter) this issue of women in games was the subject of the #1reasontobe talk. It also featured heavily in the “microtalks” and “rants” sessions, with Leigh Alexander talking about the tone-deaf practises of game marketing and Anna Anthropy advocating that male conference panelists should refuse to participate on a panel that doesn’t feature at least one woman. (As someone who participated on an all-male panel this year, this talk in particular has made me think hard about the unconscious culture in which I participate.)

Yet these noble expressions were undermined by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) party, which featured skimpily dressed female dancers. A catastrophic misjudgment of sentiment, the party – sponsored by Yetizen – led to many outbursts on Twitter and the subsequent resignations in protest of many high-profile IGDA members. Most notable was Brenda Romero, who only hours previously had been the leading light of the #1reason talk. It seems that the issue of women-in-games has gained much (rightful) traction on the Moscone West side of the conference. However it has yet to permeate through to the Expo side, the people who run marketing departments and PR events. Calls such as Anthropy’s are a start, but there is still a great deal to do to get those who aren’t really aware of the issue to care about it.

My second theme was microconsoles. There were two parties, one for OUYA and another for GameStick, where unveilings and announcements were made. Perhaps most impressively, Julie Uhrman announced that OUYA had shipped in March as the original Kickstarter had promised, that a much larger network of retail partnerships have been formed than most industry insiders expect, and that there are around 100 games available at launch (including a mix of vintage titles like Canabalt along with brand-new games). The GameStick event was also apparently very interesting (I wasn’t there) and it too is set to ship very soon (June, by all accounts). And there are other microconsoles in the pipeline.

However the resistance from the main industry to an app-style console that costs little and runs free, free-to-play and cheap games is very high. Many really don’t see what the fuss is about, comparing the microconsole to the console in a like-for-like comparison. Many question who the devices are for exactly, and what they are supposed to achieve. Personally I think this resistance comes from the same mindset that led many game developers to misunderstand the importance of social games, netbooks, tablets and a whole host of similar left-field market movements. It will probably take a year for a Supercell, Zynga or Rovio to emerge on microconsoles for game developers to suddenly realise that they’ve missed the boat.

The more relevant question is whether any of the existing microconsole contenders will be the ones to ultimately win. A rumour surfaced, for example, that Apple is almost ready to release a dedicated iOS game controller – which led some tweeters to tell me that this means microconsoles are already dead when it actually validates the idea. There is also the haunting feeling that Samsung and some of the other big Android handset makers are eyeing the space. Could Amazon get in on it? It’s entirely possible.

My final theme was the idea that real-money gaming is becoming respectable. This is a time when many publishers are facing up to the hard reality of making money in online gaming (and many are still advancing deals that will likely lead to game-a-day or vertical operations down the road), while retail games are capable of selling 3.4 million copies and still not meeting expectations. Real-money wagering, betting and the like were prevalent in back-channel talk at the conference. There is the expectation that at some point the United States will legalize real-money gaming in the form of small wagering, sports betting and similar, and various companies are poised to provide solutions when it does.

What surprises me is how less stygmatized that idea has become. There was a time, perhaps five years ago, when the games industry considered itself entirely separate from real money, but not quite so much any more. Perhaps as a result of free-to-play gaming starting to go indie (such as through games from Nimblebit and Spry Fox, both of whom talked about their experiences), sensitivity to the very idea of real-money seemed a little more confined to sensitivity about predatory practises. Provided the model is well-managed and controlled, some game makers seem quietly open to the idea. Personally I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but the sentiment on the Expo side was palpable.

I wonder whether the ethics, morality and practise of real-money gaming will be next year’s hot button issue in Moscone West.

(PS: if there’s one GDC game that I recommend you look at Jason Rohrer’s The Castle Doctrine.)

Facebook's Android Homescreen Could Expose Apple's Inflexibility

Game Of Phones Sigils

The mainstream has had little reason to care that Android gives developers much more customization freedom than iOS. But if Facebook’s fabled Android homescreen is a hit, the stubbornness of Apple’s closed mobile platform could be framed as a drawback after years of its cohesive design and ease being seen as assets.

Cheapness and handset/carrier choice are two of the biggest factors convincing people to pick up Android phones today. There’s its premier integration of Google’s app suite and the “rebel without an iPhone” attitude too. But Android’s flexibility for app developers has been more of a selling point for geeks and early adopters than for the average Joe.

Meanwhile, the straight forward “it just works” aspect of iOS that leans on its rigidity has made it a popular introduction to smartphones for hundreds of millions of people. There just hasn’t been a killer brand name app to grab the mainstream’s attention that depends on Android’s cooperative architecture and that iOS won’t support. No one has forced the issue of open vs closed on the common man.

But six years after the iPhone’s debut, the average mobile consumer has matured. They crave more personalization through homescreen widgets and custom launchers. They want to make their phone truly theira. The mobile world may finally have reached the turning point where the benefits of Android’s customization outweigh the benefits of iOS’ simplicity. And it’s Facebook homescreen for Android that could crystallize this moment.

Last week, Facebook sent out invites to a big press event to “see our new home on Android”. My sources got us the scoop that Facebook plans to unveil a new homescreen for Android that pipes in its news feed content and notifications for instant access. We’re told this experience will be debuted on an HTC handset running a version of Android that’s been modified by Facebook. The homescreen replacement is also likely to make its way to other handsets, either in the form a launcher app that can run on standard Android builds, or through Facebook partnerships with other OEMs.

The kicker is that Facebook’s homescreen cannot run on iOS as it exists today.

Now, for any of this to actually alter the mobile landscape, Facebook “Home” as it may be called will have to be a real success. Not just “Oh that looks cool”, but “I need to have that on my phone”. A lot people will never say that, because they just don’t care that much about Facebook. Beyond that, it may be tough to add a lot of value on top of the full-featured Facebook For Android app that’s just a few taps away.

Still, it’s possible that Facebook’ heads up display, a sixth sense for your social life, could be good enough to shift the balance in the Game Of Phones. Even if not directly or immediately, the mere existence of Facebook Home could bring the open/closed debate into the sphere of public consciousness. In that sense, it could at least begin to generate momentum for Android’s “do as you please” ecosystem.

Apple is typically resistant to diverging from its roadmap to head off potential threats. As I’ve said, Apple doesn’t care what competitors do. But if it stays locked down, we might outgrow its hand-holding. For all Google’s talk off Android being open, it could take Facebook to make us realize its liberty we really want.

Apple will reportedly launch iRadio by Summer

Apple is reportedly gearing up to launch its own web-based music streaming service, and one that will rival Pandora. The new music service will be called iRadio, and will follow Pandora’s example of music streaming. Music services like Spotify and Pandora provide a great revenue stream for music labels. According to the labels, Pandora accounted for 25% of their revenue last year.

Apple plans on launching iRadio by summer

However, the labels are getting worried because Pandora is attempting to negotiate for lower royalty fees. Currently, it pays 12 cents per 100 songs, but it needs to have a lower rate in order to generate a profit. Despite it not generating a profit, Pandora’s 12 cents per 100 songs fee is much lower than the 21 cents per 100 songs recommendation provided by the Copyright Royalty Board. Even Spotify, with its millions of users, is paying 35 cents per 100 songs.

The labels aren’t planning on lowering Pandora’s royalty fees however. They believe that the web radio industry is still growing, and that there will be other services that will be just as good as Pandora. They’re banking on Apple’s iRadio becoming a success. A source told The Verge that there is no doubt that Apple’s iRadio is coming, and that Apple has achieved a lot of progress with music labels. The sources say, “Apple is pushing really hard for a summertime launch”.

If Apple really is far into negotiations with music labels, perhaps the music labels were able to convince the company that a 6 cents per 100 songs royalty fee was too low. Regardless, with Apple’s power, its iRadio service would most likely be an instant hit, and it may deal incredible damage to Pandora’s business, especially since Pandora has just restricted its mobile users to only 40 hours of free music streaming per month. If the music labels offer Apple a better rate than Pandora, Pandora is expected to make a case in front of Congress with the Internet Radio Fairness Act (IRFA) bill. The bill, if approved by Congress, would lower Pandora’s (and other web radio’s) royalty fees so that they can generate a profit.

[via The Verge]

Apple will reportedly launch iRadio by Summer is written by Brian Sin & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.

Eventbrite's Julia And Kevin Hartz On Building A Business As A Couple, And More [Video]

julia hartz

We all know that co-founders with a longstanding personal bond have a better chance of building a successful company than co-founders who don’t share a strong friendship. But what about when that bond between two co-founders is a bit deeper, as a romantic relationship?

Eventbrite co-founders Julia and Kevin Hartz have shown that building a business with your significant other — in this case, a spouse — can lead to big success. The online event planning and ticketing platform, which is understood to be making its way to an IPO, just hit a major milestone this week, crossing $1.5 billion in gross sales and 100 million tickets sold.

I had the pleasure of interviewing the Hartzes in a fireside chat last month at the really fantastic Startup Grind 2013 conference headed up by tech entrepreneur Derek Andersen in Silicon Valley. In our 30-minute conversation, we talked about all things Eventbrite, from the early days as a budding startup to its current status as a sizable tech company, and you can watch it all in the video embedded above.

But, being that today is said to be the wedding of Wildfire Interactive co-founders Victoria Ransom and Alain Chuard, another uber successful co-founding couple (congratulations!), I especially wanted to highlight Julia and Kevin’s comments about running a business with a loved one.

Kevin and Julia said placing a priority on keeping their interpersonal relationship strong was a smart decision that should be used by other co-founding teams, whether they’re in a romantic relationship or not. Starting at around 4:50, Kevin said:

“There’s been famous husband and wife teams where it’s worked out remarkably, and famous husband and wife teams, as in the case of Cisco, where it’s kind of a disaster — but, you know, Cisco became a great company. Like anything, it’s a co-founder relationship, and in our case we had to be extra sensitive about it because there was this extra personal relationship important aspect about it.

So, we approached it somewhat cautiously. We had many different chances where we would say, ‘OK, we’re not going to ruin the marriage,’ so you know, one of us steps out, and we have this kind of a Plan B if things went poorly. I also think it’s a great exercise in really ensuring we’re compatible founders, and we were very conscientious of it. When you’re working with founders, your fellow founders, that relationship is fundamental whether it’s romantic or not.”

And Julia added:

“We were so cautious about the decisions we made and what kind of modes of operations we would have. We had this law that we would divide and conquer, and wouldn’t work on the same thing at the same time. It just so happened we had complimentary skills so that was an easy thing to do.

When I overlay that over any co-founder relationship, it’s vital actually to be talking about those kinds of things.”

There was much more where that came from, and you can see it all in the video above.

Happy World Backup Day! Go Backup Your Stuff! Seriously.

hard drive

Hard drive backups are like the socks of gifts you give yourself. They’re initially about as unexciting as gifts can get, only to become the best gift ever in a pinch. Got a meeting in 20 minutes and your normal sock reserve is empty? Thanks for the bag-o-socks, Uncle Steve! Your hard drive just exploded, taking the past 3 years of your digital life with it? Thanks for the backup, past-me!

Besides being the day that keeps the people who make Peeps in business, today also marks the Third Annual World Backup Day. World Backup Day is a tradition that started on reddit back in 2011, and has been rippling out through the rest of the tech-loving world ever since.

Making today’s Backup Day particularly special is the fact that it falls on Easter, which, if nothing else, means you get to use “BRB! Gotta go check my backups!” as a way to escape any awkward family conversations that pop up before the ham is done. Or you could be a cool guy and introduce your less tech-centric family members to the concept of backin’ up their bits.

Oh, and tomorrow is April Fool’s day. Probably not the safest day for data, you know?

So, how should you go about backing things up?

If you’re trying to keep it simple, just go buy/find a big ol’ external hard drive, plug it into your operating system’s built-in backup tool (Here’s a guide to Backup on Windows, or Time Machine on OS X), let it do its thing, and then stick the backup somewhere safe. If you can find somewhere off-site (like a trusted friend’s house), that’ll help you retain your data in case of fire or flood.

If you want to get fancy and push your backups online, a couple of the big backup guys are doing deals in honor of today’s techno-holiday. Crashplan dropped their annual price from $71 down to $42 for the day, and Backblaze is giving away 3-months free to all newcomers.

Hard drives are cheap. Lost data isn’t. Go, go, go!

Cowon D20 launches in Japan, keeps MP3 players alive 90 hours at a time

Cowon D20 launches in Japan, keeps MP3 players alive 90 hours at a time

There’s no denying it: the MP3 player market is in free fall, and competitors often have to either go big or go home if they want to justify their work over the many smartphone alternatives. Cowon is still kicking, and the extreme battery life of its new D20 player may be a good explanation as to why. Along with 13 hours of video, it can play 90 hours of music on a charge — enough that the tunes could blast non-stop through a long weekend. Not that the player will otherwise rock the boat, as it’s still carrying a 2.5-inch, 320 x 240 resistive touchscreen, 8GB to 32GB of built-in storage, an SD card slot and Cowon’s familiar (if hyper-stylized) interface. The company is partly counting on a low cost to get its foot in the door. Following a tease earlier this month in Russia, the D20 is launching in Japan at prices between ¥11,800 ($125) and ¥16,800 ($178) — not a bad deal, so long as endurance rules your world.

Filed under: Portable Audio/Video


Via: Akihabara News

Source: Cowon

Tomb Raider interview: The apocalyptic art of Lara Croft

When Tomb Raider—the reboot of the game franchise with which it shares a name—came out earlier in March, many a column inch was devoted to Lara Croft’s evolution from archaeological adventurer to concerningly capable killer. Rather fewer were given over to the use of apocalyptic artwork, invisible cameramen, birth metaphors, and emotional color palettes. To redress the balance, quizzed Brian Horton, Senior Art Director at Crystal Dynamics, on all of the above and then a little bit more.

The Tomb Raider games are iconic—how do you even get started reworking a game with such a strong visual legacy?

As a fan of the classic games, I played Tomb Raider 1 and 2 again to remember why I loved them so much. Lara Croft was a confident and totally capable anti-hero, but she didn’t have much room to grow in ability or characterization.

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PlayStation 4 demand will reportedly outpace supplies at launch

There is speculation going around that the demand for the PlayStation 4 will outpace the available supply for the console system at launch. Gamestop stated that around 900,000 of its members have signed up for its “PlayStation 4 First To Know List”. While it’s more of a pre-registration than it is pre-orders, Gamestop says that its lists are usually a “strong indicator” for the number of people planning on pre-ordering the device.

PlayStation 4 demand to overwhelm supplies at launch

The news came from Gamestop’s President Tony Bartel. He stated, “Although we have been given no official numbers by Sony, we do believe that demand will far outpace the supply of this product during the launch window”. If his statement is true, the high-demand for Sony’s PlayStation 4 is a good sign for the video game industry. The industry has been on the decline for quite some time now, with recent numbers showing the industry dropping 25% in sales.

Also, in other good news, the PlayStation is looking to launch globally by the holiday season this year. There were rumors circulating around that stated that Europe would have to wait until 2014 to get their hands on the game console due to distribution issues, however Gamestop assures consumers that that’s not the case. Sony has yet to release images of the PlayStation 4, however, it has released information regarding the PlayStation 4′s specs and its peripherals, like its DualShock 4 controller.

The PlayStation 4 is an impressive console. The PlayStation 4 demonstrations showed off the stunning graphics that games on its system will be capable of. There were also a bunch of features announced that make the system much more than a game console centered around the living room. You will be able to use the remote play feature to stream games onto your PS Vita, tablet, or smartphone so that you can play your games anywhere in the house. Check out our PlayStation 4 guide on everything you need to know about the console.

[via CNET]

PlayStation 4 demand will reportedly outpace supplies at launch is written by Brian Sin & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.

With S3, The Walking Dead is a “different show”—the most interesting one yet

Warning: This post—and likely its comment thread—contain speculation and potential spoilers.

The Walking Dead is many things to many different people—compelling, gory, frustrating, mind-numbing, pioneering for its genre on TV—but it’s never dull. Season three comes to an end this Sunday, and there are as many thickening plots off camera as there are on it. Some major TV recappers have sworn off the show completely for its nihilism. And when AMC renewed the series, showrunner Glen Mazzara resigned over a “difference of opinion” about which direction the series should go. This triggered major backlash from the creative community, with Kurt Sutter of Sons of Anarchy saying AMC disrespects writers and Shawn Ryan of The Shield wondering aloud why anyone would sell a good show to the network.

No matter where anyone stands on these issues (or on the show itself, promise we’re getting there), The Walking Dead inevitably powers forward like its signature, unrelenting walkers. S3 was the highest rated season to date, besting shows like American Idol and The Big Bang Theory in the 18-49 demographic last fall and scoring the most watched single episode in broadcast this year (the premier of this season’s second half). If you want to taunt an NBC programming exec, ask where the zombie series’ talk show spin-off Talking Dead would rank among their network’s offerings. Not bad for a comic-adaptation, right?

On with the show…

Now, is all the attention paid to the show merited by what happens in it? While opinions can certainly change if this weekend’s episode, “Welcome to the Tombs,” is a clunker, S3 as a whole is The Walking Dead‘s most interesting to date.

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As Crowdfunding Takes Off, SEC Greenlights AngelList's Investment Platform


The Securities and Exchange Commission is making way for a number of startups and online investment platforms to enable startups to crowdsource investment. Early last week, Y Combinator-backed FundersClub received notice from the SEC that the agency would not pursue action against its crowdfunding platform. But it wasn’t alone: a few days later, AngelList received a similar letter from the SEC. [hat tip to Danielle Morrill]

The regulatory response came after AngelList requested its own assurance from the SEC that the agency wouldn’t pursue enforcement action against its investment platform, AngelList Invest.

In its letter to the agency, AngelList noted that it was going to form a limited liability corporation that would serve as investment advisors, and would operate a platform through which accredited investors would be able to put money into startups. Like other crowdfunding investment platforms that are popping up, under AngelList’s plan, the company would introduce individual investment vehicles for each portfolio company that its users invested in.

According to the filing, AngelList Advisors would determine whether to create an investment vehicle for particular startups, then negotiate the terms of the investment for the larger pool. It would also exercise all voting rights for the investment vehicle and decide on whether it should distribute cash and marketable securities to investors, subject to any lock-up agreements or similar restrictions.

Already, AngelList is being used to help raise funds for some companies and funds, through its investing tool. Open only to accredited investors, the tool lets users put as little as $1,000 each into startup companies that it’s created an investment vehicle for.

The whole idea is to allow a larger number of individual investors to make small investments in interesting startups, but to do so in a way that reduces the friction of most funding rounds today. Under current SEC rules, startups can’t advertise or announce that they’re raising funding, which means that investors might not even know that they can put money into a certain company. And, in a sense, to increase the efficiency with which startups can get funded.

According to a filing from the SEC last week, AngelList has gotten the green light to operate this online investment platform. You can read the full letter here, but it all comes down to this paragraph:

“Based on the facts and representations set forth in your letter, and without necessarily agreeing with your conclusions and analysis, the Staff will not recommend enforcement action against AngelList, AngelList Advisors or any Lead Angel to the Commission under Section 15(a) of the Exchange Act, ifthe parties engage in the activities described herein without registering as a broker or dealer in accordance with Section 15(b) ofthe Exchange Act.”

With both AngelList and FundersClub receiving the blessings of the SEC, we can expect more platforms for crowdfunding investment in startups to take off. A few weeks ago, for instance, another Y Combinator-backed startup called WeFunder launched with its own crowdfunding platform for startup investing.

These letters are also being sent in the wake of the passage of the JOBS Act, which is expected to go into effect by the end of the year. That act will make it easier for non-accredited investors to make investments in non-public companies, while also enabling startups to publicize that they are raising funds.

We’ve requested comment from AngeList and will update when we hear back.

IBM Roadrunner retires from the supercomputer race

IBM Roadrunner retires from the supercomputer race

For all the money and effort poured into supercomputers, their lifespans can be brutally short. See IBM’s Roadrunner as a textbook example: the 116,640-core cluster was smashing records just five years ago, and yet it’s already considered so behind the times that Los Alamos National Laboratory is taking it out of action today. Don’t mourn too much for the one-time legend, however. The blend of Opteron and Cell processors proved instrumental to understanding energy flow in weapons while also advancing the studies of HIV, nanowires and the known universe. Roadrunner should even be useful in its last gasps, as researchers will have a month to experiment with the system’s data routing and OS memory compression before it’s dismantled in earnest. It’s true that the supercomputer has been eclipsed by cheaper, faster or greener competitors, including its reborn Cray arch-nemesis — but there’s no question that we’ll have learned from Roadrunner’s brief moment in the spotlight.

Filed under: Science


Via: NBC

Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory

Thousands of paroled CA sex offenders, felons easily disable GPS monitors

When working properly, GPS anklets can be used to keep an eye on parolees.

A February 2013 investigation by the Los Angeles Times showed that “thousands” of high-risk sex offenders and parolees were routinely removing or disabling their GPS tracking devices. And these individuals have little risk of being caught because California’s jails are apparently too full to hold them.

On Saturday, the Times revealed significant portions of previously-redacted documents from state reports on two rival GPS tracking device manufacturers (3M and Satellite Tracking of People [STOP], based in Houston). Last year, California judges concealed significant sections of these after state officials argued publicizing such information could inform potential violators and “erode public trust” in the system. The newly released information shows just how problematic the tracking anklets made by 3M were.

California began this statewide monitoring program in 2008, splitting the device contracts between 3M and STOP. More than a year ago, California began testing the monitors currently in place on the nearly 8,000 convicted-but-now-released sex offenders, parolees, and felons within the state. As the Times reported regarding the 3M devices, “Corrections officials found the devices used in half the state were so inaccurate and unreliable that the public was ‘in imminent danger.’” State officials immediately ordered a mass replacement of all 3M ankle monitors in use, opting instead for the STOP products.

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Apple gets denied the iPad Mini trademark

Apple has been denied the trademark for its iPad Mini devices in the U.S. The United States Patent and Trademark Office denied Apple’s application because it says that the word “Mini” is “merely descriptive” of Apple’s iPad. The reviewer of the application stated, “the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or characteristic of the applicant’s goods.” Apple is able to appeal the decision, however, and will most likely be granted the trademark as long as it addresses all of the reasons why the application was denied.

Apple gets denied iPad Mini trademark

The rejection letter was sent to Apple back in January 24th. The reviewer stated that the term Mini just described “something that is distinctively smaller than other members of its type or class.” The reviewer referred to other products with the term Mini slapped onto their descriptions as well, and stated that the word is so common, and that Apple’s use of it only describes “a small sized handheld tablet computer.

Apple needs to find a better way to distinguish the iPad Mini from the regular iPad in order to obtain the trademark. Alongside these grounds for refusal, the reviewer also stated that Apple is not allowed to submit images from its product webpages in its trademark applications. Something strange about that refusal is that it’s actually common for Apple to use images from its product webpages, and that this is the first time that USPTO has had a problem with it.

Apple has until July 24th to appeal its trademark application with the appropriate amendments, but Apple should already be well on its way to solving the issue. Apple’s iPad Mini has gained a lot of popularity in the past 6 months, with consumer interest in the device almost doubling from what it was before. You can check out our iPad Mini review in order to see if its a tablet you should get.

[via Apple Insider]

Apple gets denied the iPad Mini trademark is written by Brian Sin & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 – 2012, SlashGear. All right reserved.