Jan 25 2011
Jan 24 2011
College can undoubtedly cause loads of stress, so you should take every measure possible to make life a little easier. Enter your Android phone. This little device is capable of a lot, including everything from calculating your GPA to finding and purchasing the cheapest available textbooks. So, do your homework, and find the best apps for school and college life. Here are 40 great ones to consider right off the bat — most are free, but if they aren’t, it’s indicated in the brief descriptions.
CoursePro manages your workload
For just $2.99, CoursePro can keep track of your courses, assignments and grades. With this app, you’ll never be out of the loop.
myDAY for your notes
myDay is a journal and note application that allows you to keep a chronological record of your daily activities.
Thinking Space organizes your thoughts
The official Mind Mapping app allows you to organize and plan ideas and activities.
Jan 24 2011
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the new wave of 4G phones hitting the market this year.
Just because a device is labeled 4G, doesn’t mean it will run as fast as rival networks.
Carriers have different definitions of how they market 4G networks, even if they don’t technically meet the proper standards. The speed, availability, and delivery method of each major 4G network varies greatly.
We took a look at each 4G network in the US and broke down their top speeds, pricing, and availability to help you decide which one will work best for you.
Verizon is making a huge 4G push this year
Speed: Verizon claims speeds of 5-12 Mbps. Even at its slowest, that’s still faster than AT&T and Sprint. What does that mean for you? Assuming your connection speed is hovering around the middle of Verizon’s range, you would be able to download a song in less than 10 seconds.
Availability: You can sign up now for a 4G plan on your laptop with a USB modem. Verizon’s 4G network is available in 38 metropolitan areas. Click here to see if it’s available near you.
Phones: There aren’t any 4G phones available right now on Verizon, but several are on the way, including the Droid Bionic and HTC Thunderbolt.
Pricing: A Verizon 4G USB modem will cost you $99 with a two-year contract. Data plans start at $50 per month for 5 GB and $80 for 10 GB.
Sprint has bragging rights as the first 4G network
Speed: Sprint says its average download speed over 4G is 3-6 Mbps. Compare that to Sprint’s 3G speeds of around 1Mbps.
Availability: More than 40 US cities now have Sprint 4G. Click here to see if your city is included.
Phones: HTC EVO 4G, HTC EVO Shift 4G, and Samsung Epic 4G
Pricing: An additional $10 to your current Sprint plan.
Details are scarce on AT&T’s upcoming 4G network
Speed: AT&T’s 4G network isn’t available yet, but it is claiming speeds up to 6 Mbps on its 4G network in testing. It’s current 3G network hovers around 1.5 Mbps. It gets complicated though. AT&T will have two delivery systems for 4G: HSPA+ and LTE. LTE will probably be faster, but there’s no word just how fast right now.
Availability: AT&T hasn’t launched its 4G network yet. Like most others, it will probably be available in major metropolitan areas at first. AT&T says it will launch LTE by mid-2011.
Phones: These phones aren’t available yet, but AT&T has announced they will work on its 4G network: HTC Inspire, Motorola Atrix, and Samsung Infuse.
Pricing: AT&T hasn’t announced pricing yet.
Jan 24 2011
Tunisia is in the midst of what increasingly looks like a happy, democratic revolution. People are wondering about the role social media played in that revolution. It turns out Facebook played a great role — for good and for bad.
For good, Facebook became the primary means by which the people communicated among each other and to the outside world. Grainy cell phone footage of people beaten up by police spread virally on Facebook, helping spark outrage. Useful informations like numbers to reach the army (the police cracked down harsh on the protesters but the army, crucially, sided with them) were also spread.
But the bad was “unprecedented”, according to Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan. The Atlantic has a great article on the Tunisian government’s online efforts and Facebook’s response.
Basically, the Tunisian government, through internet service providers, tried to steal the Facebook login info (usernames and passwords) of everyone in Tunisia. They did this through keyloggers, a piece of software that records the keys you hit on your computer.
When Facebook realized this was going on, they quickly switched the entire Tunisian site to https, the encrypted version of the HTTP protocol on which the web is built. (As an aside, we wonder why they don’t do this by default for everyone. Https is slower, but it would sitll be more secure.)
Obviously, the Tunisian government getting ahold of these passwords would not only have kneecapped the fledgling democracy movement, but meant the uncovering, and subsequent imprisonment, torture and possible death of dozens of activists, at least.
What interested us in the article was how non-political Facebook has decided to be about all this. Sullivan is at pain to stress many times that the reason they protected those logins was because they saw it not as a political issue but as a security issue (which it almost certainly was).
As Facebook is increasingly globalized, it’s going to have to learn to deal more and more with authoritarian governments and developed a policy, which it doesn’t seem to have done, so far. But it needs to, because the information it holds on its users is potentially even more sensitive than what Google holds, and which was the reason why that company eventually left China.
I’ve been on both sides of the table, but there are seven hard questions I’d ask my deal lead at a firm from which I’m considering taking venture investment.
There are certainly more questions to ask, but the responses to the following questions will give you a good sense of who you’re dealing with.
Working with a VC is not unlike marriage: it is a relationship that contemplates long-term commitment, is sure to involve myriad struggles and uncertainty and is very hard and painful to exit.
So those questions that are seemingly uncool or uncomfortable to as your potential VC? ASK THEM ANYWAY.
1. Is this a core investment or something in which you have interest but would walk away from if things get difficult?
2. Does this investment fit with your firm’s thesis or primarily your own world view? If you are expending significant relationship capital to get this done, how will this impact us if things get challenging?
3. On how many boards do you sit? Do you really have enough time to impact the outcome of this investment through your involvement and engagement?
Jan 24 2011
WikiLeaks Defector Explains What’s Wrong With WikiLeaks And Why He’s Creating A New Site Called "OpenLeaks"Posted by: siliconalleyinsider in 13
The problem with WikiLeaks, Domscheit-Berg says, is that it is trying to do too many things and reinvent too many wheels.
Specifically, it is not only allowing companies and individuals to make public information that might not otherwise be made public–a noble and worthwhile goal, according to Domscheit-Berg–it is also pronouncing judgement on that information and choosing which information to release based on its own political goals.
OpenLeaks, says Domscheit-Berg, will focus only on the former goal.
It will create a site in which anonymous sources can submit information while remaining anonymous. Then it publish the information–or not–depending on its assessment of whether it is worth knowing.
It will then partner with a handful of other media outlets who will provide the second part of what WikiLeaks is trying to provide, which is analyzing, editorializing, and publicizing the information.
OpenLeaks was supposed to begin testing this month but it has been delayed until an undetermined date, in part because Domscheit-Berg is busy with other things.
Jan 24 2011
Madonna’s manager Guy O’Seary say the Hollywood mantra is "Never put up your own money." This makes Silicon Valley p…Posted by: siliconalleyinsider in 13
Madonna’s manager Guy O’Seary says the Hollywood mantra is “Never put up your own money.” This makes Silicon Valley partnerships with Hollywood very challenging, because Silicon Valley is all about taking risk and Hollywood is all about avoiding it. — via Bill Gross at DLD.
Esther Dyson posts the following update from DLD, needling moderator David Kirkpatrick, who wrote (and hawked on stage), The Facebook Effect:
Jan 24 2011
Qwiki is a startup that does neat visual and audio slideshows of search and got a ton of hype after winning an award at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference and recently raising $8 million from a bunch of people including Facebook billionaire Eduardo Saverin.
Qwiki is one of the few startups we’re bearish on. Sitting back and watching a slideshow sounds less interesting and useful than browsing the web and using Google and Wikipedia. And it seems to us that most of what Qwiki does is putting Wikipedia through a speech to text engine and putting up images from Google and Flickr.
When you start Fqwiki, the first entry it shows out of the gate is “snake oil.” Fqwiki is pretty buggy and unpolished, but it proves the point: what Qwiki does isn’t very extraordinary.
This tweet, sent out earlier this morning, certainly sounds like the group has the NYT in its sights.
The link in the tweet is to a week-old post on the site Firedoglake titled ‘So Much For The NYT Investigation Of Bradley Manning’s Confinement Conditions,’ which was written the day after the Times published their piece on the conditions of alleged WikiLeaker Manning. From FDL.
I guess we should be glad The New York Times is checking up on Bradley Manning at all. Between August 9 and December 16 they published exactly zero articles about the man Julian Assange called “the world’s pre-eminent prisoner of conscience.” Meanwhile Bradley has been in the brig at Quantico Marine Corps Base since July. Supporters have become increasingly concerned that he is being mistreated, perhaps to pressure him to testify against Mr. Assange.
Julian Assange’s relationship with the NYT has been strained ever since the paper ran what Assange dubbed a ‘hit piece’ on him last October. But tough to tell whether this tweet is a call to action or simply the equivalent of an angry reader complaint.
[h/t Greg Mitchell]
Last weekend we looked at resources to teach you how to code, but writing your app is only half the battle. It needs to look good, too. Here are resources to help you learn the basics of design this weekend.
To get started, you’re going to need two things: a basic understanding of design and Adobe Photoshop. Of course, not everyone wants to drop hundreds of dollars on Photoshop (or the entire Adobe Creative Suite), so check out these alternatives (or these) if Photoshop is too expensive for your taste. As for the knowledge portion, here are the main things you want to learn:
Be sure you know how to use the software you’ve chosen as well. If it’s Photoshop, there are excellent classes on lynda.com. If you’d rather go the free route, you can find plenty of stuff online. These tutorials provide plenty of good exercises to try so you can get acquainted with your toolset. You Suck at Photoshop is probably the most entertaining way to learn. We also post a few Photoshop tutorials here and there as well. If you want to learn specific, undoubtedly there is someone online who has posted some kind of help (likely in video form) which you can find with a quick web search.
Inspiration is what’s going to help you find your style. Understanding how things work and what has worked in the past is important in most fields, but it’s very important when it comes to design. That’s not to say you should learn the rules and follow them with rigidly, but that it’s extremely useful to know 1) what you like, 2) why you like it, and 3) how to create the designs you find most compelling. Once you’ve got those three things down, experimentation will come naturally.
So where do you find inspiration? One option is the design blog Web Design Ledger (WDL). They post tons of great examples of design elements to help you keep an eye on what’s working and giving you a source of inspiration. Here are a few good posts to get you started:
Another great option is the design community Forrst. While the community is member-only, anyone can apply. It’s a wonderful place to find other good design work and get feedback on your own to help you progress. A less-exclusive option is Ember, which is a similar type of site but was designed to work with some specific apps meant for clipping.
Once you start to find people you like, however, keep and eye on what they’re doing and who they like so you can explore more points of inspiration. For example, Tina Roth Eisenberg (a.k.a. Swissmiss, designer of TeuxDeux) plays a very active role in promoting design she likes and sharing relevant designs resources on her blog.
No designer is without his or her fonts, and there are numerous free options to choose from. Font Park will start you off with over 70,000 to choose from. Da Font is a smaller, more curated collection with tons of great options. There are plenty of other free font tools and resources, but it’s more important to first understand typography. WDL offers up seven free typography ebooks to get you started. If you want additional portability, you can download the Typography Manual iPhone app. One you’ve got a basic understanding of typography, take a look at mastering font combinations. Rarely will you stick with a single typeface in a design, so understanding the principles of combining fonts can save you a lot of frustration.
What’s the font in all the images? If you don’t recognize it, head on over to the League of Movable type to download their wonderful font League Gothic.
Jan 22 2011
Someone Tried To Buy Twitter In 2008 But Evan Williams Talked The Board Out Of It With An "Amazing Memo"Posted by: siliconalleyinsider in 13
Someone tried to buy Twitter right after co-founder Evan Williams took over the CEO job from co-founder Jack Dorsey in late 2008, Twitter board member Fred Wilson discloses in a blog post about leadership traits.
But Williams helped talk the board out of accepting the deal with an “amazing memo.”
Smart move, given how much Twitter’s value has grown since then.
“Another key strategic issue is whether to sell the business or keep going as an independent company,” Wilson writes. “Just after Twitter’s leadership passed from Jack Dorsey to Evan Williams, Twitter was faced with that issue. Evan Williams wrote an amazing memo to the board on the subject at that time that is among the strongest acts of founder leadership I have ever witnessed.“
This is the first time we’d heard about this memo. Anyone have a copy? We’d love to read it. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymity guaranteed.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said that someone had tried to buy Twitter LAST FALL, which isn’t what Wilson wrote. (For a few moments, we had thought that Wilson was referencing Twitter’s most recent CEO change, to Dick Costolo from Evan Williams. But that’s not what Wilson’s post says.) We apologize for the error.
Jan 22 2011
Looks like the US is ready for cyberwar. A hacker put up a storefront to sell access to sites, which is not very unusual (sadly) these days, but also to military, government and university (.mil, .gov and .edu) sites, which is more so.
What’s crazy about this is the brazenness of it all: the hacker basically put up an online storefront, like any e-commerce site, except instead of buying shoes and books, you’re buying government sites.
So for example, for just $499, you can buy root access (full control) to cecom.army.mil, a site whose stated purpose is “to develop, acquire, provide and sustain world-class…systems and Battle Command capabilities for the joint warfighter.”
Interestingly, the hacker doesn’t accept credit cards but accepts the virtual currency Liberty Reserve.
Here’s a screenshot of the storefront:
Jan 21 2011
We Just Got Subpoenaed For User Info In A Criminal Harassment Investigation — Here’s How We Handled ItPosted by: siliconalleyinsider in 13
A few weeks back, the US government subpoenaed Twitter, demanding detailed information about users who follow WikiLeaks.
Twitter complied with the subpoena, but only after challenging the government on one point in court and winning.
Specifically, the government wanted Twitter not to tell the users whose information had been subpoenaed that the information had been subpoenaed. Twitter challenged that demand in court and won. Then it told the users that the info had been subpoenaed, and announced this news publicly.
Twitter’s handling of the subpoena, in which the company took its users’ interests into account but still complied with the judge’s order, differed from some prior cases, in which online companies have handed over user information to the government without making the subpoenas public. Twitter was praised for this, and for good reason.
The evolving standards in this arena–the way in which sites provide information to government investigators–are closely watched. So we figured we would relate a recent experience of our own.
THE COURT ORDER
Earlier this week, we received a court order from the Supreme Court of Connecticut asking us to provide information to the police in New Canaan, Connecticut, for use in a local harassment investigation.
The Court Order explained that the investigation concerns a financial journalist, Teri Buhl, who was arrested in November for allegedly harassing a local teenager. Buhl, a Forbes blogger and occasional contributor to Business Insider, contends that she was merely doing some research into underage drinking in New Canaan and is fighting the charges. We wrote about the arrest, the charges, and Buhl’s response here.
The Court Order asked for the “INTERNET RECORDS” and “BASIC SUBSCRIBER INFORMATION” for a reader who left a comment on one of our stories about the Teri Buhl case. According to the Court Order, the father of the 17-year old girl who Buhl allegedly harassed read the comment, believed it to have been left by Buhl herself under an assumed name, viewed it as ongoing harassment, and reported it to the police. The police then asked a judge to order us to divulge the information above, including the commenter’s IP address.
Ordinarily, when companies are ordered to provide user or customer information to the police, they are required to notify the users by mail within 48 hours from the time they provide the information.
In this case, however, in a parallel to the Twitter case, the police asked that we be ordered to DELAY NOTIFICATION of the user in question for 90 days because the police felt notification might “seriously jeopardize the investigation.”
When the Court Order arrived, we discussed it internally and with legal counsel. Because the order had been granted by a judge, we decided to comply with it. Another decision we need to make was whether to challenge the judge’s “DELAYED NOTIFICATION” order, the way Twitter had.
Before we made that decision, we did some research on the “user” in question. And we learned the following:
Our system stores no information for drive-by commenters other than the information above: user-name, email address, and IP-address. Thus, we had no way of determining the user’s physical identity–either for the purposes of providing that information to the police OR for notifying the user about the Court Order.
Now, our user had provided us with an email address, which we require from everyone who comments on the site, even anonymously. We sent an email to this address asking, “Is this a real email address?” We did not receive a reply. Given this, plus the lengths our reader went to to disguise his or her identity, we assumed that the email address had been created with the same IP-anonymizer used above and that the email box is not monitored by the person who created it.
In any event, we did not know the identity or address of the user–information that the user deliberately did not provide us with–so we decided not to challenge the judge’s “DELAYED NOTIFICATION” order. We also decided to publish the Court Order on the site, which we have now done.
Then we complied with the order and provided the user’s IP address and email address to the police.
* Police can and will try to use data stored by online sites in criminal investigations
* Sites like ours will comply with Court Orders requiring that we divulge such information. (To not do so, in our opinion, would be to protest the legitimacy of the United States’ legal system, and we do not regard the United States legal system as illegitimate. Importantly, the reader who left the comment was not a journalistic “source,” so no shield laws or source-confidentiality agreements applied).
* People who wish to disguise their identities when leaving comments on sites like this one appear to have tools at their disposal to do so, including IP-address “anonymizers”
HERE’S THE COURT ORDER: