How a total n00b mined $700 in bitcoins

Aurich Lawson

This is the second in a two-part series exploring Butterfly Labs and its lineup of dedicated Bitcoin-mining hardware. In part one, we looked at the company and the experiences customers have had with it. In part two, we share our experiences running a Bitcoin miner for a couple weeks.

There is a whirring, whining presence in my dining room. I notice it every time I walk through. Every day, it sucks down about one full kilowatt-hour of electricity. In a year, it will consume almost $100 worth of juice—and that’s on top of the $274 it costs to buy the box in the first place. Oh, and it’s hot, too. If I moved it into my office and could stand the noise, I could keep a cup of coffee comfortably warm on top of the thing. Why on earth would anyone want such a disagreeable little machine in their home?

The short answer: every day, that machine magically generates something like $20 in bitcoins.

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CrunchWeek: Sean Parker's TechCrunch Post, VCs Get Into PR And Journalism, SnapChat Snaps Up $80 Million

Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 2.17.53 PM

Whatever happened to the slow and lazy summer news weeks of yore? This past week certainly wasn’t one of them, as evidenced by all the fun stuff we had to talk about during this episode of CrunchWeek.

Leena Rao, Anthony Ha and I piled ourselves into the TechCrunch TV studio to discuss some of the most interesting tech news stories from the past seven days: Sean Parker’s epic guest post on TechCrunch in which he tackled the criticism of his wedding and the larger state of modern journalism, venture capital firms such as First Round Capital expanding into publishing their own content, and SnapChat’s $80 million round of funding ($20 million of which went straight to the app’s two young cofounders.)

This will be our last CrunchWeek for a little while, as we’re taking a two week summer hiatus — next week, we’ll be off at our July 4th barbecues grooving to Andrew Mason’s upcoming Hardly Workin’ album, and the week after that a bunch of us will be in Los Angeles covering the startup scene there. So enjoy this episode, and until we meet again, enjoy the next couple weeks of summer!

Alt-week 6.29.13: DARPA's robot finalists, the IRIS solar mission and empathetic computers

Alt-week takes a look at the best science and alternative tech stories from the last seven days.

Altweek 62913 Darpa's robot finalists, IRIS solar mission launch and computers that feel your pain

Sure, DARPA is slightly sinister, but it’s so into robots that we’re willing to let that slide. In fact, last year it launched the DARPA Robotics Challenge, and it just announced the top six nine seven teams to advance. But if just the idea of figuring out robotics frustrates you, NC State’s face tracking program literally gets that, and NASA just launched the IRIS solar probe from the belly of a transport jet. It’s Alt-week, baby.


How to stop a more senior colleague from making unannounced code improvements?

Stack Exchange

This Q&A is part of a weekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 100+ Q&A sites.

Jesslyn asks:

One of my teammates is a jack of all trades in our IT shop and I respect his insight.

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You Can't Quit, Google Reader, Because I Already Fired You


Google Reader is dying come Monday, and the whole Internet is sad. I’m not sad. I won’t miss it at all.

I used to use Google Reader a lot, as in every day, and it was once a key component of my arsenal of work tools, too. Reader was the pulse of the Internet, my way of staying up to date with everything that happened while I was waking or sleeping. In tech news, having a resource like Google reader is important. Or wait no: was. Was important.

At one time, news happened at a pace that allowed it to be digested relatively slowly, in batches resembling what we were used to from the one or two-times a day print newspaper schedules. Google and RSS were fine for that; it’s like a digest that builds in near real-time, putting everything in one convenient place for you to come back to whenever you need to. Which is what some people still need it for, and that’s great.

But for me, and I’m sure for others like me who work in the online news space, at some point Google Reader just stopped feeling current enough, fast enough, and comprehensive enough. If Reader was the Model T, tools like Twitter and more timely and true real-time reporting tools that tell you when pages are updated the instant they’re updated became Edsel’s Model A.

Reader is still arguably a nice way to keep up with more evergreen and long-form content, from blogs that post irregularly and that you’d like to collect in one place. But for that, I again trust recommendations from my Twitter peeps, and add content to Instapaper or Pocket for later reading instead of looking to individual sources. This adds an additional filter layer for longer content, meaning I’m less likely to end up wasting my time reading something I’m not all that interested in. And recently, endeavours like The Magazine and Medium have made tracking that evergreen content even easier.

At first, I stopped using Reader for work around two years ago. I’d actually open it as an escape, tracking things that I was personally interested in but that weren’t really relevant to my specific coverage areas, per se, including gaming news. Tapping it open via Reeder on the iPad was a pre-bedtime activity, designed to provide some relaxing light reading before hitting the sack.

Then, eventually, I’d tap that icon less and less, finding fewer and fewer articles that I hadn’t already seen, or grasped the content of from Twitter posts and interactions. Finally, I moved it from my iOS dock to the standard homescreen, and by around a year ago it was relegated to a page towards the end of my series of iOS homescreens. I haven’t used it in months.

Reader was good stuff, and plenty of people still use it. But there are no shortage of alternatives, and by and large, the Internet has moved on. If people haven’t, it might be because Reader provided a comfortable standard that was easy, giving them little reason to look around. Reader’s death isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a chance to put your head up and look around to see what’s changed in aggregation over the course of the past few years.

Weird Science makes friends with atheists to keep them happy

A fisher in the woods at night.

Christians have happy tweets, atheists think too much. Social networking services allow behavioral questions to be examined using a large subject population and this one is no different, involving 16,000 Twitter users. The group was split in two based on a simple criterium: do you follow one of a list of famous Christian figures, or do you follow someone from a comparable list of atheists (no word on how many people followed both). The researchers then analyzed the content of the tweets. Christians ended up using terms that suggested an intuitive thinking style and a focus on community; they were also generally happier. In contrast, atheists tended to be more analytic and less focused on social connections. This latter bit is important, as having social connections tends to keep people happier, and the authors think religion can help provide those connections.

Maybe we just need to give investment bankers smaller chairs. When yelling at you to stop slouching, your parents may have emphasized how posture influences the ways in which others perceive us. What they probably neglected to mention is that posture also influences how we see ourselves. And the truly weird thing is that this works even if we don’t make any conscious choices about our posture.

The researchers set up chairs that either kept their subjects a bit constrained or allowed them to spread out into an expansive posture. Those who ended up with an open posture were more likely to steal money, cheat on a test, or break the law when in a driving simulator. The authors ascribe this to the fact that this sort of posture is generally associated with people being in a position of power. To see if there were any real-world consequences, the authors then turned to the streets of New York City, finding that cars that allowed their drivers to adopt an expansive posture were more likely to be illegally parked.

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IE11 Gives Microsoft A Shot At Browser Redemption


Internet Explorer is a hard product to love. It was so bad for so long and Microsoft abused its position of having the dominant browser for so many years that even today, with a few solid releases under its belt, IE still feels like the browser you should hate. But with IE11, which just launched with the Windows 8.1 Preview, Microsoft is finally stepping up its game to the point where there’s a reason to take IE seriously again. And it deserves another look from both developers and users.

Microsoft didn’t go into all that much depth when it discussed IE11 during its Build keynotes, but during an IE-focused press briefing, the company opened up a bit more about the state of its browser. The main takeaway from that session, at least for me, was that Microsoft believes that the fact that it only has to focus on one platform allows it to build a superior browser. Other browsers, the message was, have to work on so many platforms and that means the developers have to make too many compromises.

With being fully focused on Windows and Windows RT, Microsoft argues, it can include fast hardware-accelerated features like WebGL and even significantly faster font rendering. It’s not just 3D content where IE is now competitive (and often ahead of the competition). While Microsoft often shied away from putting standard JavaScript benchmarks on it screen and argued that “real world” performance was more important, it now proudly put the usual Kraken, Octane and SunSpider numbers on the screen. The results are indeed impressive. I repeated some of these benchmarks myself and IE11 always easily beat Chrome and Firefox in all of these (arguably unscientific) tests.

If you want to see an impressive example of IE11 in action, try out Microsoft’s new Lawn Mark 2013 and Levitation demos.

There are other features that make IE11 interesting, too. The new pinned sites feature in the Start Menu, for example, allows any site to create an app-like experience on the Windows 8.1 desktop. Bookmarks are now synced over SkyDrive and the browser is integrated with the new Reading List feature in Windows 8.1 (though sadly, there is no Instapaper-like, distraction-free reading mode).

Microsoft is really focusing on touch in the browser, and with Pointer Events, it’s working to make this a W3C standard for all browsers.

All of this doesn’t mean IE11 is perfect, though. Far from it. While it now finally supports standards like WebGL and has support for SPDY (something Microsoft did not exactly highlight), WebRTC is still missing in action. The Metro/Windows 8-style version of IE is also still decoupled from the desktop version. It’s also still not clear whether IE11 will ever come to Windows 7, though Microsoft pretty clearly hinted at this during its Build press briefing.

Overall, IE11 gives Microsoft a shot at being taken seriously again in the browser game. Even though it’s not a dominant player anymore, it still owns a lot of market share around the world. And no matter how you feel about Microsoft, a better IE makes for a better web ecosystem for both developers and users.

iPad 5 schematics leak with iPad mini-size sides

The fifth generation full-sized iPad appears to be popping up this week for the first time in schematics – not the average leak vehicle, to be sure. Information included in this set of plans suggests that the upcoming iPad model will take on many of the characteristics of the iPad mini, especially those at the

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iPhone plastic shell leaks in China

It’s time to get green, it would seem, as a brightly colored back shell of what’s said to be a next-generation iPhone leaks in China. This leak is consistent with several tips and suggestions over the past week involving the so-called “budget” iPhone, including the color similarity to current iPhone bumpers. This device would, if

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PSA: Google Play Music All Access $8 promotion ends soon


Listen, we’re all for waiting until the last possible minute, but that time is now. If you happen to be looking for a deal on Google’s fancy new music service, the clock is ticking. Once June 30th rolls around, Google Play Music All Access’s $7.99 price tag will bump up to the standard $9.99 a month. That’s a full $2 a month more for access to those millions of unlimited songs. You can sign up at the source link below — that same page can also hook you up with a free 30-day trial, if not paying money is your thing.

Filed under: Internet, Software, Mobile, Google


Source: Google Play Music All Access

DFJ Restructures Firm Partner Network

DFJ | Network

Back in 1990, then relatively young venture firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson started thinking about how to expand the firm’s presence outside of Silicon Valley and share ideas and diligence with other VCs in the industry. DFJ created a partner network of independent VC firms across the globe that adopted DFJ branding. It was the closest thing to VC franchising at the time.

The first firm who joined was DFJ Polaris, who was based in Alaska. This network was an early version of the agency model that many VCs have adopted in the past few years as the affiliate VCs and DFJ combined created an extended network of resources (both in the U.S. and globally) for portfolio startups. Now DFJ is announcing that the firm is restructuring the network to clarify branding and create a governing board around the body.

To date, there have been 16 outside funds who have joined the network, 11 of which are outside the U.S. These include DFJ Mercury, DFJ Athena Korea, DFJ Frontier, DFJ Esprit, among others. As mentioned above, these firms are independent when it came to fundraising, LPs, and decision-making on when to fund startups. In turn for the branding and access, DFJ would have some carry in the funds that joined DFJ’s network (and there was also income paid to DFJ in the form of dues).

As part of the restructuring, DFJ will be creating a governing board, who will oversee the entire network, which includes DFJ’s own funds, DFJ, and DFJ Growth. The board is composed of a DFJ partner and includes representation from other network partners. Along with the board, the partner networks will be dropping the DFJ-branding from their names. For example, DFJ Mercury is now Mercury Fund.

So why the change? As the firm explains, the partner funds have matured, and are self-sustaining, meaning the DFJ branding is no longer necessary for these funds to create deal flow and more. DFJ Partner Don Wood, who also holds a seat on the governing board of the DFJ network, says the “restructuring wasn’t necessary per say, but instead it was an evolution and improvement of network.” He adds, “The benefits of the network remains the same, it’s just that the governance of the network has changed and actually gives a strong and equal voice to all the members of the DFJ family.”

In terms of the branding decision, Wood explains that the DFJ name attached to these independent funds caused confusion, especially amongst LPs and entrepreneurs.

As for the board, the benefit is two-fold, he says. First, it clarifies any confusion on how the network works. And second, it makes the network more of a democracy. For example, if a new firm wanted to join the network, the board will make the decision. This was previously made by DFJ in the past.

The board itself will help coordinate benefits, such as discounts to office services, to all startups in the network’s portfolio. Another interesting change–DFJ itself will no longer have any direct economic benefit to firms joining the network. Member firms still pay their dues (though now to the board), and DFJ will not get any carry in network firms. Dues from the partner networks will go towards creating services and making hires that can manage the relationships and networks between firms.

The question many may ask how the network firms have responded to this change. According to DFJ, they have embraced these changes and also found the existing structure to be confusing to both LPs and startups.

DFJ JAIC, which is going to be known as Draper Nexus, launches a cross border VC firm with around $50 million to invest in Japanese and US startups. The firm joined the network in 2011, and saw DFJ as an opportunity to give startups a global network of access points. “Our four person fund has limited brainpower and we wanted to tap into a larger knowledge base, and take a more global view to managing and helping our startups,” says Quaaed Motiwala, Managing Director of the firm.

Wood says that since the decision was made (which was unilateral across the network), no firm has dropped out of the DFJ partner program. In fact, many of the partners from DFJ network firms decided on the new infrastructure themselves.

DFJ, who last closed its tenth, $327 million fund back in 2010, says that this was the natural evolution of the partner program. You also have to wonder if the firm is raising a new fund, and decided to take some of this feedback from LPs into account. It should also be interesting to see whether any other VC firms follow suit in creating a similar structure.

Welcome to Windows 8.1: Ars readers react

Testing out pressure sensitivity on a tablet at Microsoft’s BUILD conference.
Ars Technica

This week, Microsoft held its annual BUILD conference for developers at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Ars had Peter Bright on the scene when the company announced the new features that will be added into Windows 8.1. In the comments section beneath Bright’s article, What does Windows 8.1 offer to desktop die-hards?, there were some mixed opinions about how meaningful Microsoft’s changes will prove for desktop users.

dkazaz thinks the changes don’t really solve the problem that Windows 8 really has: that the OS is trying to be all things for all devices. “I don’t understand why the use of the two interfaces needs to be intermingled.” dkazaz writes. “I’m quite interested in a hybrid desktop/touch OS. I just don’t want to use a touch interface with a keyboard/mouse and I don’t want (obviously) to have to use desktop elements on a touchscreen… Merging the two forces compromises on both. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have both in the same OS as long as you have clean switching between them.  Is that really so hard for MS to figure out?”

robotic_tourist was a bit more charitable about the design choice: “I think the Start Screen is the new version of the ActiveX desktop. I never saw it used to good effect but it allowed animated widgets connected to the Web to display info on the desktop. What do most people have on their desktop? Application launcher icons. What do you get if you cross application launcher icons with animated widgets sucking down information from the web? The Start Screen. Yes we laughed when we first saw the ActiveX Desktop, but now may be the time when it finally fulfils its potential!”

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A Year After Launch (And With 300K Sites Created), ‘Social Front Page' RebelMouse Mulls Ad Strategy

rebelmouse office

It’s been a little more than a year since former Huffington Post CTO Paul Berry first launched RebelMouse, a service allowing users to pull their content together from across social networks. To mark the occasion, Berry stopped by the TechCrunch office to look back at the past year and hint at his plans for the future.

Overall, Berry said that the service’s growth has backed up his initial vision.

“We haven’t done any pivots — we’ve just been following the core path,” he said. “A year ago, I had all these hypotheticals of how people could use the product. Now there’s an insane amount of anecdotal evidence.”

As shared in a company post, RebelMouse is now reaching 5 million unique monthly visitors, and its users have created 300,000 sites. Publishers like the Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch- and Huffington Post-owner AOL, and Time have used the technology, as have brands like GE, Patagonia, and Sprout Organic Foods.

One thing you might notice about all of those links is that they don’t go to RebelMouse site itself, but instead to the websites of the publishers in question. Berry said that’s as it should be: “We want to be very clear to everyone that it’s not as important to us to be the destination as it is to help the open web.” That goes back to the original vision, where Berry realized that it’s “too hard” for many people to build and update a website using a traditional content management systems. With RebelMouse, you can take advantage of all the content that you’re already posting on other sites to create a unified, up-to-date presence, whether the “you” in question is a person or a company.

And if you want to pay RebelMouse for the privilege, even better. The company is already making money through a subscription program where users pay $9.99 a month to host their RebelMouse site at their own domain. The next step in Berry’s monetization plan is advertising, specifically the term that everyone is embracing nowadays, native ads.

Berry acknowledged that native “is a highly abused term” (in his view, native advertising means that the ad has to match the look and the content of the site), but he argued that RebelMouse can deliver sponsored content in a real-time way that’s sensitive to the user’s context: “We can give publishers native advertising at scale.”

Other future plans include the launch of smartphone apps (although Berry noted that mobile already accounts for a significant part of RebelMouse’s traffic.)

And of course, as RebelMouse evolves, so does the social media context in which it’s operating. The past year has seen the new social apps explode in popularity, and Berry predicted that the process will continue.

“It’s surprising, but social graphs, instead of gaining value over time, well, there’s an aspect that’s true, but there’s the opposite, where they lose value over time — people enjoy new networks,” he said. “That’s why RebelMouse’s goal is to remain the Switzerland of all of this.”

Nokia Launches Nimbuzz Chat App To Tell Indian Users To Trade Up To A Smartphone

nmbuz (1)

After biding it’s time in emerging markets, free messaging app Nimbuzz has ben ratcheting up the news and partnerships lately. It’s hit 150m users globally, is strong in Asia, India and Saudi Arabia, has been adding new apps for platforms like Windows 8, and signing telco deals.

Of course, Viber, WhatsApp and GroupMe are doing well, but these startups concentrate on smartphone apps. Nimbuzz emerged on feature phones and still has a story feature phone user base. But Nimbuzz is unique in that is has opened up its platform for third party messaging services which behave like little chat bot apps.

These bots are called Chat Buddies. There are Weather bot apps, or you can chat with a horoscope app that behaves rather like a text-based Siri. Independent developers have added ‘chat games’ like Hangman or an app called “Stranger Buddy” which is like Chat Roulette in text form. Brands are gradually realising this is a very clever way to interact with users, especially in emerging markets. These chat apps are hugely popular in regions where text messaging works and where data is expensive.

Now Nokia has developed its own Chat Buddy called Nokia Lucky Sunday. From tomorrow this will appear as a contact on the roster of all Nimbuzz users in India and start to quiz users and reward them with prizes. That’s over 25 million users, or a quarter of the entire mobile Internet population of the country.

With every correct answer, the user moves a leaderboard and the top users stand a chance to win Nokia smartphones at the end of every Sunday. Vikas Saxena, CEO, Nimbuzz, says the move “is a translation of the belief that brands have in our platform.”

This is obviously going to remind feature phone users who may still be on Nokia to opt for a Nokia smartphone when they change handsets. But because Nimbuzz works across all smartphones, it means Nokia can try and entice them back via the Chat Buddy.

Nimbuzz is available on all major platforms such as BlackBerry 10, Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone, and J2ME, as well as Windows and Mac computers. It’s pre-loaded onto all local OEM handsets in India apart from Nokia, Samsung, LG.

Web Served 8: Node.js, Redis, and real-time writing with Etherpad Lite

Web Served is nearly over! This is the last regular part in the series, and so I want to kick it up a notch—several notches, actually!—and get away from installing tired old PHP applications. Instead, we’re going to go a little nutty and install Etherpad Lite. Some parts of this piece have previously appeared on my blog, but I’m aiming to expand a bit on that write-up and give you all something fun to play with.

Etherpad Lite is a tool born out of the ashes of Google Wave, the abandoned and decommissioned real-time “e-mail replacement” that Google launched and then quickly killed. EPL is a real-time collaborative document editing application: it presents the user(s) with a blank canvas and lets them all make changes to it, and everyone’s changes are visible to everyone else in nearly real-time.

It’s a lot like Google Docs, except that the changes are generally shown a whole lot faster, and everyone’s changes are tracked and can be replayed like a VCR. Plus, it’s yours—that’s one of the main points of this entire series, after all! Rather than living in Google’s ephemeral application cloud, Etherpad Lite lives on your server and you always have access to it (at least, assuming you have access to your server).

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Topographic maps illustrate where Twitter's bird flies highest

Topographic maps illustrate where Twitter's bird flies highest

Not every Twitter user geotags their musings, but there are enough who do to generate some very insightful data. On its blog today, Twitter shared images from Data Visualization Scientist Nicolas Belmonte, who created topographic maps visualizing the density of geotagged tweets. The result is striking, as tweets clearly correlate with roads, geographic features and even lines of public transit. In addition to the blog’s stills, you can futz around with interactive maps of New York, San Francisco and… Istanbul. When you realize the implications of all those tweets from the Bay Bridge, it’s frightening enough to consider taking BART across the Bay instead.

Filed under: Meta, Internet


Source: Twitter Blog

Gillmor Gang: Interdependance Day


The Gillmor Gang — John Borthwick, Robert Scoble, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor — marvel at the mutually assured creation of a partnership between Larry Ellison’s Oracle and Marc Benioff’s Few would have predicted such a stunning partnership just a few years ago, but the crescendoing intersection of cloud, social, and mobile has borne sudden fruit.

The only constant is change. Google Reader’s demise gives way to @borthwick’s Digg Reader, seeds @scobleizer’s Flipboard magazines, and tracks the proliferation of a shiny new red Glass to replace Robert’s original accessory. Managing the tweet notifications can quickly overrun the Twitter for Glass app, but we’re living in a material world where the innovation surge of the last few years is now ripe for absorbing. Gentle men and women, start your engines.

@stevegillmor, @borthwick, @scobleizer, @kteare, @kevinmarks

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

Live chat stream

Gillmor Gang: Interdependance Day


The Gillmor Gang — John Borthwick, Robert Scoble, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor — marvel at the mutually assured creation of a partnership between Larry Ellison’s Oracle and Marc Benioff’s Few would have predicted such a stunning partnership just a few years ago, but the crescendoing intersection of cloud, social, and mobile has borne sudden fruit.

The only constant is change. Google Reader’s demise gives way to @borthwick’s Digg Reader, seeds @scobleizer’s Flipboard magazines, and tracks the proliferation of a shiny new red Glass to replace Robert’s original accessory. Managing the tweet notifications can quickly overrun the Twitter for Glass app, but we’re living in a material world where the innovation surge of the last few years is now ripe for absorbing. Gentle men and women, start your engines.

@stevegillmor, @borthwick, @scobleizer, @kteare, @kevinmarks

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

Live chat stream

Just Stay Away from Console Games

My son gets into the car and before I have a chance to slide into the driver’s seat and buckle myself in, he’s already reaching for the iPad. He’s fastened his seatbelt, obviously, because he knows he can’t touch the iPad until he’s buckled up. He starts with his current favorite game, Mr. Crab. The

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It’s time to say goodbye to Google Reader and hello to something new

The time has come and it’s finally happening: Google will shut down Reader’s doors on Monday, which means if you haven’t already done so, you should probably start migrating over to a new reader application on your Android device. Thankfully, the Google Play store is chock full of applications that serve this exact purpose. They all work the same way, but they all offer different interfaces and some different features. You might find one of these applications worth downloading this weekend. And if you’ve found an app you particularly like, let us know.

Feedly, Free 

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