New devices want to sense and command your Home-as-a-Platform


Where you live is not simply your home. It’s a sensing, universally controllable system for your life.

Two new sets of products — from startup Notion and veteran peripheral maker Logitech — point to new directions for both the sensing side and the control side of what I’d call your Home-as-a-Platform (HaaP). Although the new products have no direct connection, both companies are pledging to work with everything else out there for the automated home.

Notion’s devices — developed at the Techstars accelerator in Boulder, Colorado — are prepared to add remote sensing to virtually anything in your home with a surface.

CEO Brett Jurgens and chief technical officer Ryan Margoles (both are co-founders), along with some others, started work on their product a year ago. They initially raised “just under $500,000″ in a seed round, and funding from their current Kickstarter campaign — already twice their initial goal of $50,000 with more than three weeks to go — goes toward manufacturing their product.

“Our plan is to play well with [other devices],” Jurgens told VentureBeat.

In fact, Notion already has its place in the home picked out — fourth place. In Notion’s ideal home, there would be an automated thermostat from Google-owned Nest, one or more video cameras from Google-owned Dropcam, Kwikset connected door locks, and then Notion devices all over.

“With our product,” he said, “you don’t have to replace anything.”

An oversized pill

A round and flat Notion sensing device, looking like an oversized pill, can attach to a door, window, dishwasher, or sit inside a refrigerator, among other locations. It is a sensor wonderland, able to detect water leaks, acceleration (as in an opening door), direction, temperature, sound — even, via a piezoelectric transducer, how much gas is left in your propane tank.

It can not only detect if your (ordinary, non-Nest) smoke alarm has gone off, but, due to differences in the audio alarm, can tell if the alarm is signaling a smoke emergency or simply beeping that it needs a new battery.

Notion has also suggested such use cases as being able to remotely know when someone opens your liquor cabinet or your gun safe — although hopefully not both at the same time.

The Denver-based company envisions a dozen or more multi-sensor devices monitoring your home, all talking via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to a central hub that communicates with their cloud and then back down to your smartphone app or computer.

You can see on your app if your monitored back door has been opened and, because Notion knows the smartphone IDs of the home’s occupants, you know if the person opening the door was your smartphone-carrying daughter or someone unauthorized.

You can label each multisensor device in your iOS or Android app from a dropdown menu, so that the sensor knows what it’s supposed to be looking for if it’s mounted on a door. The startup is also integrating weather information, so you can be bothered at work when you leave a window open and the forecast is for rain.

A Notion hub can manage up to approximately 1,200 multisensor devices, and Notion said that “an unlimited number of hubs” can talk to one dashboard. Unless you’re the Koch brothers, those numbers probably exceed the number of windows, doors and refrigerators in your home, but Notion anticipates that businesses will also use this system.

Logitech’s über-manager

A beta test is scheduled for April of next year, with a full release in July. A starter kit, with three sensors and a hub, will go for $200. Additional sensors will most likely be in three-packs for $100.

Competitors, Jurgen told us, include “overlap” from larger home automation systems like Honeywell, other sensors like the Quirky , and do-it-yourself security devices from iSmartAlarm or SimpliSafe. But, he said, Notion’s multiple sensors offer several times the capabilities of those products.

“We’ve combined all those devices,” he said, into smaller devices with longer battery lives.

While Notion is looking to add sensors throughout your HaaP, Logitech is focusing on the other end of your home’s system — an über-manager that goes beyond its traditional product of controllers for entertainment systems and looks to be the device in charge of your house. This week, it expanded its emerging line of home-automation products.

Its central Harmony Home Hub can talk to other devices around the home via infrared, radio frequency, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi — more than a quarter million compatible devices, now increased by another 11,000. The Logitech hub can be controlled by a smartphone/tablet app or the new $150 Harmony Home Control remote.

The Logitech home control set

Above: The Logitech home control set

Image Credit: Logitech

“Our No. 1 value proposition has been to wipe out six remotes with one,” Logitech senior director of product marketing Chad Thompson told us. “We want to do for home automation what we did for the universal remote,” which is now used in millions of home to centrally control entertainment systems.

And the collected data?

“We’re the guys putting [the automated home] together as an experience,” he said, the orchestra leader among the Nests, Honeywells, Phillips, and Notions.

Thompson told us about some of the experiences he has preset in his home with a Logitech controller and cooperating home-automation products. At wine time in his house, for instance, “the music [automatically] comes on, lights [dim to] a certain cue — it’s smoky and kind of like a restaurant.”

In addition to transforming your home, those sensors and controllers are also collecting a helluva lot of data about how you live your life.

HaaP companies will be able to know, for example, exactly which equipment you use in your entertainment system, if you have a dishwasher, how many times you’ve had unauthorized entries and, possibly at some point, how often you need milk. (When asked, Notion said its sensors, although sound-sensitive, can only listen to thresholds of sounds and not conversations.)

Notion said it will give people access to their own data, and will never sell personally identifiable or anonymous individual data. It said it was still deciding about anonymous, aggregate data.

Logitech sent this statement:

“Harmony doesn’t store any personal information regarding the status of customer’s home automation devices. The Harmony Home Hub collects the data of a customer’s home automation devices (e.g. lights are on) sends that information to the cloud and then to the customer’s Harmony App (either smartphone or tablet). This is how Harmony customers can see the status of their various home control devices in their home. However, that information isn’t stored anywhere by Harmony. The information is only used to inform the customer of the status of their home control devices.”

Which is good to know from both companies, given that their army of sensors and the commanding controller will know more about our homes than we will.


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Honeywell is a Fortune 100 company that invents and manufactures technologies to address tough challenges linked to global macrotrends such as safety, security, and energy. With approximately 132,000 employees worldwide, including more... read more »

Logitech designs and manufactures computer and electronics peripherals such as mice, keyboards, speakers. They have been making computer keyboards and mice for HP, Apple, Dell, and also for platforms such as PlayStation. Their products... read more »

13 DIY Tricks for Fashion Emergencies at Work

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Even the biggest hot shot in the office can't always be prepared for an unexpected fashion emergency when you're at work.

Scuffed shoes and loose buttons happen to everyone, and you don't always have the tools to fix those little problems when they arise. Nobody carries around a shoe-shining kit in their back pocket, after all.

But if you're ever caught in an emergency, Dr. Ngozi Etufugh, a fashion expert and blogger for IHENAEWU.com has some tips and tricks help you out of a scrape, just in time for that big meeting.

Don't panic, DIY is coming to your rescue. Read more...

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White House Intruder Wielding Knife Prompts More Security

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WASHINGTON — The Secret Service is boosting security outside the White House following an embarrassing security breach in which an intruder with a knife scaled the White House fence, dashed across the lawn and made it all the way inside before agents managed to stop him.

Increased surveillance and more officer patrols are among the measures that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson has ordered, as the elite agency strives to ensure such an incident can't happen again. Pierson has also launched a full investigation into what went wrong.

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6 Expert Tips for Keeping Your Kids Safe on Social Media

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Today's kids are more social media savvy than ever. A whopping 80% of teens online use some form of social media, and they're sharing more information about themselves on social networks than they have in the past.

While growing up online has its benefits, it poses new risks. Between cyberbullying, oversharing and giving into peer pressure, a child's misuse of a social network can turn into a serious problem.

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The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy

The coming era of unlimited — and free — clean energy
Image Credit: Schwarzerkater/Flickr

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones. McKinsey & Co. noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant. It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units and advised AT&T to pull out. McKinsey was wrong, of course. There were more than 100 million cellular phones in use 2000; there are billions now. Costs have fallen so far that even the poor, all over world, can afford cellular phones.

The experts are saying the same about solar energy now. They note that after decades of development, solar power hardly supplies 1 percent of the world’s energy needs. They say that solar is inefficient, too expensive to install, and unreliable, and will fail without government subsidies. They too are wrong. Solar will be as ubiquitous as cellular phones are.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years, as costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings, or less than 14 years, away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. Energy usage will keep increasing, so this is a moving target. But, by Kurzweil’s estimates, inexpensive renewable sources will provide more energy than the world needs in less than 20 years. Even then, we will be using only one part in 10,000 of the sunlight that falls on the Earth.

In places such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Australia, and the Southwest U.S., residential-scale solar production has already reached “grid parity” with average residential electricity prices. In other words, it costs no more in the long term to install solar panels than to buy electricity from utility companies. The prices of solar panels have fallen 75 percent in the past five years alone and will fall much further as the technologies to create them improve and scale of production increases. By 2020, solar energy will be price-competitive with energy generated from fossil fuels on an unsubsidized basis in most parts of the world. Within the next decade, it will cost a fraction of what fossil fuel-based alternatives do.

It isn’t just solar production that is advancing at a rapid rate. There are also technologies to harness the power of wind, biomass, thermal, tidal, and waste-breakdown energy, and research projects all over the world are working on improving their efficiency and effectiveness. Wind power, for example, has also come down sharply in price and is now competitive with the cost of new coal-burning power plants in the U.S. It will, without doubt, give solar energy a run for its money. There will be breakthroughs in many different technologies, and these will accelerate overall progress.

Despite the skepticism of experts and criticism by naysayers, there is little doubt that we are heading into an era of unlimited and almost free clean energy. This has profound implications.

First, there will be disruption of the entire fossil-fuel industry, starting with utility companies, which will face declining demand and then bankruptcy. Several of them see the writing on the wall. The smart ones are embracing solar and wind power. Others are lobbying to stop the progress of solar power — at all costs. Witness how groups in Oklahoma persuaded lawmakers to approve a surcharge on solar installations; the limited victory that groups backed by the Koch brothers won in Arizona to impose a $5 per month surcharge; and the battles being waged in other states. They are fighting a losing battle, however, because the advances aren’t confined to the United States. Countries such as Germany, China, and Japan are leading the charge in the adoption of clean energies. Solar installations still depend on other power sources to supply energy when the sun isn’t shining, but battery-storage technologies will improve so much over the next two decades that homes won’t be dependent on the utility companies. We will go from debating incentives for installing clean energies to debating subsidies for utility companies to keep their operations going.

The environment will surely benefit from the elimination of fossil fuels, which will also boost most sectors of the economy. Electric cars will become cheaper to operate than fossil-fuel-burning ones, for example. We will be able to create unlimited clean water, by boiling ocean water and condensing it. With inexpensive energy, our farmers can also grow hydroponic fruits and vegetables in vertical farms located near consumers. Imagine skyscrapers located in cities that grow food in glass buildings without the need for pesticides, and that recycle nutrients and materials to ensure there is no ecological impact. We will have the energy needed to 3D-print our everyday goods and to heat our homes.

We are surely heading into the era of abundance that Peter Diamandis has written about: the era when the basic needs of humanity are met through advancing technologies. The challenge for mankind will be to share this abundance, ensuring that these technologies make the world a better place.

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How to hire a great engineering manager

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How to hire a great engineering manager
Image Credit: Eileen Kane/Flickr

How do you hire a great engineering manager?

It’s a question I’ve been grappling with a lot, as the company I’ve been leading has doubled in size every year for the past five years. At times, I’ve thought great engineering managers might not even exist. What is it that a great engineering manager has? Obviously, technical ability is key, but the purpose of this job isn’t just to hack technical problems. It’s to hack the very different human and business problems. There are certain attributes they need, such as the ability to be critically introspective, to be able to drive to root causes, challenging underlying assumptions, and obviously, they need great interpersonal skills.

But is that it? If I could test for all these attributes, and a candidate had them, would I have a great leader in front of me?

We learned the hard way that the answer to that question is actually no. Testing for all the various attributes of a great candidate in isolation isn’t enough. What matters even more is the way in which all these attributes interact together. That’s what makes for a truly great engineering leader.

So, as the final step in our selection process, we sought a way to see if a candidate’s whole was greater than the sum of their parts. This is the test we came up with:

It’s been a year since you joined Medallia as an engineering leader. You were chartered to lead a group of our finest engineers. Please prepare a retrospective presentation with the engineering leadership team explaining:

  • What did you do during the first six weeks on the job?
  • How did you manage your engineers?
  • How did you lead them?
  • What have you accomplished during this first year?
  • What has your team accomplished?
  • How did you and your team evolve?
  • Please provide examples illustrating best practices that can be shared with others in your position.

As part of forming answers to these questions, we give candidates the opportunity to join the engineering team’s daily stand-up meetings and then hold one-on-one meetings with team members of their choosing. Afterward, we give them 48 hours or so to let those experiences percolate before coming back in for their presentation. The results of this challenge don’t just provide a depth of insight into candidates that was previously unavailable; they leave us with 100 percent certainty of whether we are hiring the right person or not.

How is that possible? Think about what it shows us. Right from the get-go, as they spend real time with the team and watch us work, we get to see who the candidate chooses to interact with and the person does so. We can gauge if the person has the right instincts around the team’s resources and dynamics, if he or she is able to envision how to positively leverage those resources. Even the language the person uses can be very telling of personal philosophy and world view.

For example, subtle word choices can reveal the difference between someone who is all about empowering others and someone who is all about power. And given that candidates give their presentations in a room filled with senior leaders at Medallia, how they react to feedback in this environment is a great reveal, not just of their dynamism in the face of questions, criticism, and pushback, but specifically how well their skills will fit into the context of our engineering team.

While some tech companies require you to sign an non-disclosure agreement before taking their engineering challenges, I’m sharing ours with everyone. Simply put, it’s a process that is respectful of candidates’ time (truly great managers rarely have much of it) and accurately separates the great from the good. Its interactive nature means sharing it publicly provides no advantage to future candidates. And in the spirit of open-source, I’m hoping others will find it useful in recruiting their own engineering managers.

Happy hiring.

Juan Pablo DellarroquelleJuan Pablo Dellarroquelle is the vice president of engineering at Medallia. Prior to joining Medallia, he worked as an engineer at Redmond Software, consulted to numerous Silicon Valley companies, and built Argentina’s first voice portal, which won him Intel’s Application of the Year Award.


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How to navigate your first acquisition as a startup

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How to navigate your first acquisition as a startup
Image Credit: Rawpixel/Shutterstock

Navigating your first acquisition can be both a terrifying and thrilling experience. Growth is one of the core goals of every startup, and making the right acquisition can be a game changer. At the same time, the odds aren’t in your favor, with studies suggesting that two out of every three acquisitions fail. So how can you ensure that your first attempt at inorganic growth isn’t your last?

At DesignCrowd, we’ve acquired three businesses in the past five years and experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly that inorganic growth has to offer. Here are some of our key learnings on what you can do to give your company the best chance of success.

Be crystal clear on your investment thesis

In my experience working as an advisor on mergers and acquisitions for large listed companies, I was gob-smacked at how often executives from the same company would express different views on the rationale for doing an acquisition. How can you hope to have a successful acquisition when you are unclear about what success would look like?

An investment thesis is a clear and concrete statement about how the acquisition will add value to your company. A good investment thesis will contain specific objectives that advance the overarching strategy for your business. It’s something you should be able to capture in one or two sentences and something that everyone on your leadership team can articulate in basically the same terms.

The investment thesis is the backbone of all your acquisition (and post-acquisition) activity. It is not only used to inform your data-collection efforts before completing the transaction. It’s the measuring stick by which the success of the acquisition should be subsequently tracked and judged.

Identify the “threshold issues”

Your investment thesis is a hypothesis that needs to be tested by examining the key (threshold) issues that will impact your ability to realize value from the deal. Before embarking on due diligence, take time to identify these key issues and map out what data you need to collect to evaluate each issue thoroughly.

Focus your diligence efforts on these threshold issues, rather than developing an understanding of absolutely every facet of the business you’re looking at. Threshold issues are for every acquisition, as they’re inextricably linked to your investment thesis. That said, some common threshold issues include customer economics (growth rates, acquisition costs, lifetime value, churn), staff capabilities (breadth, depth, engagement), and cultural fit.

Stay objective

As a startup, the possibility of breakthrough growth can be very seductive and can influence your ability to think objectively about the deal. In addition to having a clearly articulated deal thesis, you need to find ways of staying objective when evaluating whether or not to proceed with the acquisition. Think of yourself as a judge, weighing the facts and data that you have before you, rather than a principal who really, really wants to do a deal.

It’s also useful to have multiple people involved in due diligence. Gathering different perspectives and being open about potential concerns helps to ensure objectivity. Create specific checkpoints in your diligence where you review the threshold issues with your team and make a formal go-or-no-go decision. Always return to your investment thesis and gauge whether proceeding with the acquisition will still deliver value as you had expected.

Invest time in communication

So, you’ve made it through diligence, and you’ve decided to proceed with the deal. At this point, it’s easy to become laser-focused on nailing the operational aspects of executing the transaction, but getting the communications right for all stakeholders — like customers, employees, and your board — is no less important. The most perfectly laid integration plans can be blown to pieces if your communication isn’t timely, transparent, or empathetic enough.

Acquisitions mean change, change creates uncertainty and uncertainty creates resistance. Communication is the antidote to this nasty post-purchase toxicology. Building a robust communications plan for all stakeholders will help you to reduce uncertainty and get buy-in. Put yourself in their shoes – what questions would you want answered if you were them? Use this lens to inform the content of your communication and create space for them to ask you questions openly and directly, as this process helps them to participate in the change, rather than feel like victims of it.

Doing the deal is only the beginning

“To buy or not to buy?” is only the start of your journey. Acquiring a company and realizing the benefits of your acquisition are two different things. Achieving the objectives of your investment thesis will hinge on how you approach integration of the new entity.

Most startups are used to traveling at the speed of light, but faster isn’t always better when it comes to integrating a new business. Integrating most companies takes time and ongoing effort. As a starting point, it’s useful to deeply understand what you’ve just bought, before charging full speed ahead with integration. You will also need to dedicate resources and attention to these post-acquisition activities, which can be really challenging in the context of a startup, where so many projects demand your attention. Be realistic about your integration timeframes given everything else you need to tend to.

Chris McNamara is the chief operating officer at DesignCrowd.com, an online graphic-design marketplace that recently acquired Worth1000.com. He previously worked in mergers and acquisitions as a consultant with Booz & Co. McNamara holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.


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3 Things to Know Before Embarking on an International Job Assignment

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As corporations expand across borders and move into new markets, the business world is truly becoming a global marketplace. So why limit yourself to working your entire career in just one country? Leaving home in search of new career experiences can position you as a sought-after player in the global economy, and potentially lead to a big leap forward in your career, either abroad or back at home. But fair warning: International assignments are not necessarily for the faint-hearted or unadventurous.

We spoke to three women leaders about why they signed up for international roles, what it did for their careers and what they wish they had known before they went. Each responded with similar, yet unique, experiences, offering up three distinct pieces of advice for those seeking international assignments. Read more...

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Weird Sennheiser Ad Says Urbanite Headphones Were ‘Born to Pamper’ Ears

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Are your ears longing for some pampering? A nice, hot bath perhaps? Sennheiser's quirky new ad claims its Urbanite headphones will help them "feel oh so good."

Launched at this year's IFA consumer-electronics show in Berlin, the Urbanite is best described as Sennheiser's answer to Beats: stylish, bass-heavy, on-ear headphones that cost $199

But Sennheiser seems to know that all those offerings — plus its pedigree as a maker of great headphones — might not be enough to draw attention. So in its new ad, the company showcases a man with a heavy German accent (Sennheiser is a German company) who is wearing an Urbanite headphones costume, while seducing a giant ear. Yes, you read that correctly Read more...

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Why Consumers Shrug Off Lousy Battery Life

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At this point, pretty much every tech publication has reviewed the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus and found them to be an improvement over the last models in every way

Except one: battery life.

Some reviewers, such as Geoffrey Fowler of The Wall Street Journal and Brad Molen of Engadget found the iPhone 6's battery life was worse than the iPhone 5S. (The elephantine iPhone 6 Plus did better on this score.)

It's not surprising that mediocre battery life has failed to torpedo the new iPhones

In surveys, consumers say the attribute is a big concern when it comes to buying a phone. In practice, though, consumers have shunned phones with superior battery life — such as the LG G2. Rationalizing that middling battery performance is the price you pay for bigger and better screens and greater connectivity, most consumers seem content to live with charging anxiety. Read more...

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Apple iPhone 6: Is It the Best Point-and-Shoot?

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After months of waiting, we finally have Apple iPhone 6 (and its big brother, the iPhone 6 Plus). It’s the 7th or 8th edition of the iPhone (depending on how you count the 5C) and with each passing year, the “phone” designation appears less and less on the nose. Isn’t it really the iCamera?

No matter what you call it, photography stands at or near the center of the iPhone 6’s key attributes. Considering where smartphone photography began, it’s a surprising turn of events.

Years ago I wrote an angry post begging consumers to stop using their puny, 1 megapixel flip phone cameras to capture precious moments. It was a futile effort and also quite wrongheaded. What I did not understand at the time is that consumers were not settling for bad smartphone photography, they were grabbing with both hands the ability to share instantly with friends and family visual news of the birth of their daughter or of their son graduating from college. Having any camera of any quality on always-connected devices was, quite simply, a revelation for consumers. Read more...

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Look out, iCloud. Microsoft buffs up OneDrive with more free storage

Look out, iCloud. Microsoft buffs up OneDrive with more free storage
Image Credit: Wonderlane/Flickr

Amid all the fresh interest in Apple’s iCloud cloud-storage option following the company’s rollout of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Microsoft doesn’t want you to forget about its cloud-storage service, OneDrive. Late yesterday the company announced a promotion that bumps up OneDrive’s free storage tier — and not only for iPhone users, but for Android and Windows Phone owners as well.

Douglas Pearce, group program manager for OneDrive, walked people through the offer and its implications in a blog post:

All you have to do is sign up for OneDrive and activate the auto upload feature for your camera roll sometime between now and the end of September, and you will get 30 GB of free OneDrive storage moving forward (15 GB base and 15 GB camera roll bonus). For those getting ready to install iOS8, this means you won’t have to delete a bunch of photos or apps to make room for the upgrade. For those buying a new phone, it means you can take all the high resolution photos and videos you want without worrying about the amount of storage you have. 

The storage increase also applies out to iPhone owners who already send their pictures to OneDrive, Pearce wrote.

Microsoft can make such moves quickly and defend itself in the cloud-storage business because it operates data centers and buys storage at scale. Companies like Google and Amazon can do so as well, and now that its Zocalo file-sharing service is available, it’s reasonable to expect price cuts, storage boosts, and other teasers from Amazon in the future. Box and Dropbox, which are still privately owned, have been making driving up storage capacity as well, but they’re just not as large as Microsoft.

Apple, for its part, boasted of 300 million iCloud users in June 2013, and that number has probably increased since then. And Apple is also depending heavily on more of its own infrastructure, like an in-house content-distribution network. So Apple can likely buy the infrastructure at scale and, as a result, potentially lower prices and increase storage supplies for customers. But Microsoft and others have a more extensive history there.

In the light of Apple’s iCloud price cut this month, it’s worth keeping an eye on Apple to see if it becomes even more aggressive in challenging Microsoft and others in the cloud-storage business in the future.



Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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Firefighter Who Suffered Electric Shock During Ice Bucket Challenge Has Died

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Tony Grider, one of the Kentucky firefighters injured last month during an ice bucket challenge gone wrong, has died.

The 16-year veteran of the Campbellsville Fire Department was among four firefighters who sustained injuries from electric shock after a fire truck they were on came too close to a power line. Grider, 41, sustained the most severe injuries of the four and had remained hospitalized since the accident in August.

A central Kentucky firefighter injured in an "ice bucket challenge" has diedhttp://t.co/j9iPsB47Bz pic.twitter.com/jHKTOLq6eS

— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 20, 2014

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The One Big Problem With The Enormous New iPhone

Just typing in your passcode to unlock the 6 Plus requires either a second hand or a feat of manual acrobatics. Reaching the top buttons on the home screen — you know, trivial things like “messages,” “photos,” and “camera” — is out of the question, unless you’re Kawhi Leonard.

Are You ‘The Flash’? Step Into the S.T.A.R. Labs Mobile Unit and Find Out

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LOS ANGELES — Think you can compete with Barry Allen?

To promote next month's premiere of The Flash, the CW, working with Two Bit Circus and media agency OMD, have created a mobile installation that'll give you the chance to find out

SEE ALSO: 'The Flash' Trailer Hits: 9 Cool Blink-And-You-Missed-It Screenshots

Starting Saturday outside the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas, up to 20 people at a time can step inside the S.T.A.R. Labs mobile research unit to get a taste of what it's like to have super speed.

van

The exterior of the S.T.A.R. Labs mobile research unit in Los Angeles.

Image: Josh Dickey/Mashable Read more...

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NASA Plans to Launch 3D Printer Into Space Sunday

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The International Space Station may soon get its first 3D printer.

A 3D printer is planned to be among the supplies sent to the the space station on SpaceX's resupply mission, slated for 2:00 a.m. ET Sunday morning

Once there, the 3D printer, NASA says, will be used to make replacement parts and tools aboard the space station. It will be the first time astronauts on the ISS will have access to a 3D printer. The astronauts are expected to also conduct research on 3D printing in space and study how the process works in zero gravity Read more...

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These StartX startups make tablets into tools for teachers and students


When Apple announced the iPad in 2010, some people mocked it, some couldn’t understand why anyone would need it, and many Apple fans ran to the stores to stand in line for it (much like they did today for the new iPhone).

But it also opened up new opportunities in education. Less expensive and complex to use than desktops or laptops, but with large enough screens and interactive abilities thanks to the touch screens, iPads and other tablets have been the talk of the education circles since the beginning. Two companies, Score Beyond and Nearpod, which recently graduated from StartX’s accelerator program, are working to change learning and teaching through tablets.

ScoreBeyond

Every year, high school students spend millions on college entrance test prep, mostly in the form of brick-sized paper books and costly classes and tutors within travel distance. But ScoreBeyond is taking on that market with its iPad apps, currently offering the equivalent of SAT and ACT prep books (and lessons).

There’s a dedicated iPad app available for each of those tests. Both apps come with assessment tests, personalized content, and “daily workout” exercises. For $4.99 and $9.99 per month for the SAT and ACT tests, respectively, students can upgrade to a premium version with additional materials and features, including 1,000 additional questions, unlimited daily practice, and twice as many vocabulary words as the free editions of the apps.

Recently the startup added video chat tutoring to its apps. For about $45 per hour, students can take a tutoring lesson over video chat with one of ScoreBeyond’s tutors. The company has been hiring local college students that it vets for skills and prior tutoring experience. Students can also provide feedback on their tutors, both for quality control as well as to help ScoreBeyond best match students up with tutors. To illustrate, if Bob and Suzy both really liked two of the same tutors, a third tutor Bob likes could be a good match for Suzy.

Although only about 10 percent of ScoreBeyond’s students are signed up for video-chat tutoring, founder and chief executive Emrecan Dogan says all students who have signed up and still using the service, and many are pre-paying for multiple sessions in one shot.

The startup plans to add tests such as high school Advanced Placement tests for high schoolers and SAT subject tests.

ScoreBeyond competes with the many other iOS apps for SAT and ACT prep. The company was founded in 2012.

Nearpod

Nearpod is also turning the tablet into a multifaceted teaching tool. Teachers can create a variety of interactive materials, including slideshows, quizzes, essay prompts, and interactive diagrams.

Teachers can also monitor their students’ work through the teacher app. Not only does it serve up reports on performance and trends, but it also provides that information in real time, enabling teachers catch troublesome questions right away.

Although most teachers already have materials they’ve developed on their own that they digitize with Nearpod, the startup has also built a marketplace of content. Along with a fair amount of free materials, it also contain premium content, some of it teacher-generated. Nearpod invites teachers with high-quality content to contribute it to the store, giving them $2,000 up front instead of paying them later.

While the app itself is free, some premium features aren’t. When a class has 30 and more students, for instance, teachers will have to pay.

Nearpod has a few peers in the space, including Top Hat and Socrative.

Nearpod is available on iOS, Android, the Web, and as a Chrome app. The company is profitable, with $2 million in revenue so far this year. It raised $1.5 million in seed funding in March 2013 from NewSchools Venture Fund, Clarence So, and Sina Shekou.

Wife of ISIS Captive, Alan Henning, Asks for His Release

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The wife of a man whose life was threatened by the Islamic State has asked the terrorist group to "see it in their hearts to release" her husband, Alan Henning, according to a statement provided by the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office Saturday.

The statement, as reported by The Daily Mirror, describes Henning, who was threatened last Saturday in another ISIS video showing the death of British aid worker, David Haines, as a "peaceful, selfless man."

Henning, 47, left his job as a taxi driver to go to Syria with Muslim friends to help the needy out of an act of compassion, his wife said. When he was taken captive last December, "he was driving an ambulance full of food and water to be handed out to anyone in need." Read more...

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Forget GMOs. The Future of Food Is Data — Mountains of It

A team of recently hired mathematicians is building an online database that one day could catalog the behavior of practically every plant protein on earth —a collection of digital information that could allow Hampton Creek to model the creation of new foods using computer software.

5 Can’t-Miss Apps: A Goblin-Themed RPG, Storehouse and More

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Between the rollout of iOS 8 and Apple's two new iPhones going on sale, you may have missed some of this week's best new apps.

Luckily, Mashable creates a roundup each weekend of our favorite new and updated apps, so you won't miss out.

This week's list includes a goblin-themed RPG, Findery coming to Android and a big update for one of iOS' best photo apps.

Check out the gallery, above, to see all the apps that made our list of top picks. And if you're looking for more, check out last week's roundup of can't-miss apps.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more...

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New study shows some benefits to telecommuting


If you’ve been hoping for permission to telecommute more, a new study could help you convince your boss. The University of Illinois found that telecommuters make more of an effort to help out their coworkers (so-called “corporate citizenship”), and in some cases they can also be more productive.

The study seems to have been inspired by Marissa Mayer’s abrupt scorched earth telecommuting policy in 2013, when she effectively mandated that every Yahoo employee work in the office every day.

“After Yahoo changed its telecommuting policy, this question of, ‘Is telecommuting good for performance?’ came to the fore,” said Professor, Ravi Gajendran, lead author of the study. “At the time, there was a lot of debate about it, but there was very little evidence available. Well, now we have some evidence that says telecommuters are good performers as well as good coworkers on the job.”

Published in the recent edition of the Journal of Personnel Psychology, the study looked at 323 employees and 143 supervisors across a variety of organizations. The research team found that so-called “corporate citizenship,” where employees make extra effort to improve life at the office, improves with telecommuting. “Apart from doing your job well, citizenship behavior is, ‘Are you helpful to others? Are you a dedicated member of the organization? Are you committed?'” said Gajendran.

The team also found that telecommuting had little or no impact on employee productivity. Although, interestingly, it did find one use case where telecommuting actually improved performance: instances where there was conflict between boss and employee.

“When the employee-employer relationship is strained, and then the boss says, ‘OK, I’m going to allow you to work from home,’ it improves the employee’s performance, possibly because they feel more beholden toward their boss,” explained Gajendran.

To be sure, it’s not all roses and sunshine for telecommuting. One MIT/IBM study found that telecommuting software engineers were less likely to use their colleagues’ code, resulting in significant delays.

Perhaps some type of hybrid solution would be most effective, where employees get to work at home a few days a week but still get some face-to-face time with coworkers. The average American spends 38 hours a year stuck in traffic commuting, so cutting that in half, without hurting productivity, would be a win for everyone.


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Microsoft Courts iOS 8 Users With OneDrive Free Space Promotion

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Amid all the iOS 8, iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus excitement, Microsoft wants to remind the world that OneDrive is still a thing.

Through the end of September, Microsoft is offering new OneDrive users 30GB of free OneDrive space. That's up from the 15GB that Microsoft traditionally offers.

To get an extra 15GB of space, you'll need to login to the OneDrive app for iOS, Android or Windows Phone and enable the auto upload feature for the camera roll. You'll need to enable his feature by the end of September to get the extra space.

On the one hand, we can't help but poke a little fun at Microsoft for trying to take advantage of iOS 8 mania. On the other hand, 30GB of free cloud storage really could be useful. Especially for anyone wanting to backup an iPhone before moving to iOS 8 who doesn't have the cloud space for their camera roll and isn't interested in Apple's paid offerings. Read more...

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Verizon launching the Motorola Moto X (2014) on September 26

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On September 26, the Moto X (2014) will be available through Verizon. A leaked internal document shows that the wait for the Motorola flagship is almost over. Verizon will have both 16 and 32GB versions with Moto Maker customizations being an option. As expected, it will cost $99/$149 with a new two-year contract. Forgoing the contract route and using the Edge payment plan will be $24.99/$27.49 per month.

To really generate some excitement, Big Red is hosting a promotion in which the bamboo back panel with white will not carry any extra cost. The Edge price stays at $27.49 for this promotion.

Source: Phandroid


Come comment on this article: Verizon launching the Motorola Moto X (2014) on September 26

Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens Targeted in Latest Celebrity Photo Hack

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Another wave of stolen explicit celebrity photos has reportedly surfaced on 4chan and Reddit.

This time, the celebrities affected include Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Hayden Panettiere, Mary-Kate Olsen, Avril Lavigne and soccer player Hope Solo among others. Jennifer Lawrence, who was a victim of a separate hack earlier this summer, is also reportedly among the stars to fall victim to the hackers' latest exploits.

The photos were allegedly posted first on 4Chan, according to UpRoxx though they were promptly removed by the site's administrators. The photos were also posted— and subsequently removed— on Reddit Read more...

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Motorola Moto 360 owners reporting image persistence on display

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Across the web, there are reports that Moto 360 owners are experiencing something called image persistence. It is similar to burn-in on an AMOLED displays, but this round Android Wear smartwatch features an LCD. The problem is identifiable when an image is basically imprinted onto the display. Displaying the same image for a lengthy period of time without moving is to blame. Many of the reports supporting that this is a widespread issue show that the charging screen is a big contributor.

Have you experienced this issue with your Moto 360? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Reddit
Via: Android Police


Come comment on this article: Motorola Moto 360 owners reporting image persistence on display

Do Toy Companies Need More Women At The Top?

Lego has two women on its senior leadership team; Mattel has one. Is this lack of diversity holding them back?

French Vegetable Farmers Torch Tax And Insurance Offices In Protest

French vegetable farmers protesting against falling living standards have set fire to tax and insurance offices in town of Morlaix, in Brittany.

US Quietly Releases 14 Pakistani Detainees From Afghanistan Jail

Pakistani human rights group announces the transfer and says it is the largest number of Pakistanis US has released so far.

Oculus Rift’s Latest Prototype Headset Is Even Closer to Consumer Version

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Oculus VR announced its latest prototype headset, which the company says is very similar to how its consumer version will look.

Company CEO Brendan Iribe unveiled "Crescent Bay" at the Oculus Connect Developers Conference in Los Angeles Saturday morning. He described the third-generation of Oculus Rift as a huge leap forward for virtual-reality technology.

Iribe said the progress made between the current prototype and the second-generation Oculus Rift development kits is similar to the progress made between the first- and second-generation ones. Read more...

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Samsung introduces KNOX Express and Premium, pricing is free to start

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Samsung is making some changes, for the better, to its enterprise mobile security solution. KNOX is getting two knew offerings called KNOX Express and KNOX Premium.

At no cost at all, KNOX Express has basic features that are useful to IT managers. Devices can be managed through an online portal and it includes KNOX Workspace and KNOX EMM. The two latter features are not very deep with add-ons, though. KNOX Marketplace is here, too, for IT managers to push cloud apps.

KNOX Premium expands upon its free partner with a $1 per license price. The cost, along with enhanced multi-layered security, brings enhanced features to the table. KNOX Premium does allow add-ons for KNOX Workspace. The premium tier of KNOX also supplies online/phone ticket support.

KNOX Premium is better suited for a larger company while KNOX Express would work very well with a small business.

Source: Samsung


Come comment on this article: Samsung introduces KNOX Express and Premium, pricing is free to start

Firefighters Drop ‘Record Amounts’ of Retardant on Vast California Wildfire

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PLACERVILLE, Calif. — Firefighters are dropping record-breaking amounts of retardants on a massive Northern California wildfire that is burning explosively because of the prolonged drought.

California firefighters and the U.S. Forest Service together had bombarded the conflagration with more than a half-million gallons of retardant, fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said Friday. That included more than 203,000 gallons in a single day.

Retardant — a water-and-fertilizer mix colored with red dye — are used as an initial attack tool on wildfires to buy time for crews to get to the scene and dig fire lines. Read more...

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56M cards boosted in Home Depot hacker breach, the biggest retail hit ever in U.S.

56M cards boosted in Home Depot hacker breach, the biggest retail hit ever in U.S.

Cyber experts are calling the breach at Home Depot the biggest hack in the history of American retail. The breach began in April and coursed through the retailer’s systems for five months undetected.

Atlanta-based Home Depot admitted Thursday that 56 million customer credit card and pin numbers had been stolen. Many of those ended up for sale on cyber black markets, dumped in batches with names like “American Sanctions.” In a press release, Home Depot did not say how much damage, at least in dollars, had been caused.

“Looks like they got more credit card numbers from Home Depot than they did at Target,” said cyberwarfare expert Robert Twitchell, who has followed the mysterious attack.

Hackers attacked Target in December with an aggressively quiet strain of malware called BlackPOS that remained undetected long enough for the cyber thugs to siphon over 40 million credit card and pin numbers. And, as with the Home Depot breach, the malware was inserted into Target’s Point of Service terminals.

That attack cost Target more than $100 million. Till now, Target was considered the biggest hit ever unleashed in the United States.

Home Depot’s release emphasized what it has been doing to fix the issue:

“To protect customer data until the malware was eliminated, any terminals identified with malware were taken out of service, and the company quickly put in place other security enhancements. The hackers’ method of entry has been closed off, the malware has been eliminated from the company’s systems, and the company has rolled out enhanced encryption of payment data to all U.S. stores.”

No matter how much information is uncovered by Secret Service forensic investigators, who are leading the investigation, or Symantec, which is also working the case, Twitchell said more breaches like this are assuredly on their way. Since cyber defense technologies that help prevent such breaches are not yet in place, at least not with big retailers, the victim tally will mount.

“It’s a Confucious type of question,” said Twitchell, founder of Dispersive Technologies in Atlanta, just down the street from Home Depot’s HQ.

In the case of the Home Depot, Twitchell, who maintains a security clearance for his work for the U.S. Department of Defense, said one of the main problems is that existing detection systems used by U.S. retailers are available right off the shelf.

What this means, he said, is that hackers have access to the systems used by their targets, so they spend time quietly hacking them, which prepares them for their actual hit.

“Hackers have an advantage in that they can practice against firewalls, ISP systems, and RTP’s, or Real-time Transport Protocols,” a standard packet format that facilitates delivery of real-time video and audio over IP networks, he said.

“Point of Sale devices typically use DES (Data Encryption Standard) or TDES. Many retail companies such as Home Depot will use the Microsoft 56 bit or 128 bit encryption. The data from the PoS devices typically aggregate the transaction information at a server and then send it out,” he said.

“It’s a well-known fact that encryption can be broken. Hackers aren’t necessarily doing it real time; they may be grabbing the traffic and using man-in-the-middle attacks to gather the data, but it doesn’t matter. If the data isn’t time sensitive, and here it’s not, the hackers can spend a couple of days if necessary to crack the encryption,” he added.

“And, they can probably do it with a couple of computers, so their cost may be all of $25,000 or $50,000, including their labor. Not a bad return!”

In fact, the power of modern processors, whose speed Intel doubles every 18 months, is assisting cyber thugs, who harness their power for brute force attempts at encrypted passwords. Brute force attacks are thought to be responsible for the recent penetration of Apple’s iCloud moat in August. Criminals lifted nude pictures of celebrities from their accounts and posted them online.

For Twitchell, who has worked at Nokia and Motorola, the only reasonable remedy at this point is to adapt advanced electronic warfare tactics. Otherwise, the cyber security veteran said, the next serious intrusion, already in the planning stages, will succeed like Target and Home Depot.

Ban Ki-Moon Urges Iran To Free Journalists

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has directly appealed to Iran to release the Washington Post’s Iranian-American reporter, Jason Rezaian, and his journalist wife, Yeganeh Salehi, Ban told Foreign Policy in an interview on Friday.

Hundreds Search for Missing University Of Virginia Student

Hundreds of volunteers, some driven by worry for the safety of their own families, fanned out from the University of Virginia campus Saturday to search for a sophomore who disappeared a week ago.

Thousands of Students Take Over Kolkata Streets to Protest Police Brutality

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As part of a conflict that has been escalating for days, tens of thousands of university students flooded the streets of Kolkata, India, on Saturday to protest what they called police brutality on their campus.

Images of the gathering and messages of support flooded Twitter and Facebook under the hashtag #Hokkolorob, which means "Let's make noise" or "Let there be shouts" in Hindi

The unrest stems from an incident last month, in which a student at Jadavpur University in Kolkata was allegedly sexually assaulted on campus, according to multiple reports. Unsatisfied with officials' response, students began to protest, demanding an independent investigation into the attack. Those demonstrations boiled over in in the wee hours of the morning on Sept. 18 outside vice-chancellor Abhijit Chakraborti's office Read more...

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The “Oculus Platform” Marketplace For Virtual Reality App Launches This Fall

Oculus Platform Oculus announced the “Oculus Platform” store for developers to distribute their virtual reality apps and experiences today at the Oculus Connect conference. Starting this fall on the Samsung Gear VR made by Oculus, this revamp of the Oculus Share marketplace will let users browse the Oculus Platform within virtual reality and download apps, games, and entertainment… Read More

White House Intruder Sparks A Security Review

The Secret Service is reviewing its response to a White House security breach after an intruder scaled a fence and ran through a set of doors into the executive mansion.

On The Trail Of Nazi Counterfeiters

With the recent declassification of hundreds of CIA case files, some strange tales of history have come to light.

Ex-Employees Say Home Depot Left Data Vulnerable

The risks were clear to computer experts inside Home Depot: The home improvement chain, they warned for years, might be easy prey for hackers.

5 Inmates Escape from Madera County Jail Near Fresno, California

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Five inmates have escaped from the Madera County jail near Fresno, California.

It's not clear how the men, who are believed to be gang members escaped, from the jail.

Juan Lopez was the first inmate to be reported missing from the jail. Lopez, 33, who was serving time for armed robbery and attempted murder, escaped "sometime around 10 p.m." on Friday night according to the Madera County Sheriff's Office, who did not say how he eluded authorities.

Later, Saturday morning, multiple reports surfaced that four other inmates had also escaped from the jail. Read more...

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See the Effects of Climate Change in Side-by-Side Images

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In 2014 alone, our planet has seen the hottest August on record, the western U.S. got snow in September, the Southwest saw record rainfall, Pakistan had flash floods and the U.S. bundled up for polar vortices (even in July!). And that's just a fraction of the climatological effects humans are experiencing on a daily basis.

Climate change is real. And while you may hear the statistics and see some effects of climate change in your own backyard, sometimes pictures really are worth a thousand words. The photos below show places on earth that have taken a beating because of climate change. The images compare these locations to other points throughout history — sometimes more than 100 years prior, and sometimes just a few years prior. Read more...

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Ukraine Agrees to Buffer Zone After Signing Deal With Pro-Russian Rebels

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DNIPROPETROVSK, Ukraine – It just might be the most significant attempt at a truce yet.

Ukrainian authorities and Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine agreed overnight in Belarus to create a wide buffer zone between each side’s forces, to withdraw heavy weapons out of reach of one another and to send foreign fighters home.


The deal hashed out in Minsk, attended by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the rebels and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), aims to stop the bloody conflict. Since mid-April, it has plagued eastern Ukraine, costing more than 3,000 lives and sparking the greatest crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

It has been two weeks since a preliminary cease-fire was announced after a meeting between the same negotiating parties in Minsk on Sept. 5. During that time, both sides went light on the cease and heavy on the fire, with shelling occurring daily throughout the conflict zone. Read more...

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AI expert predicts half of web searches will soon be speech and images


SAN FRANCISCO — Here in the U.S., we like our Google search box. We type into it almost without thinking, and we revise our searches again and again. It feels natural.

But in the future, we might depend on additional interfaces to find information on the Internet, namely by speaking and by taking pictures of the things around us. Large groups of computers in the cloud can now understand the words and sentences we dictate into our phones and identify objects that appear in the photographs.

And Baidu — the second-largest web search provider in the world, with its biggest user base in its home country of China — has been preparing its systems for a time when text will be just another option for searching, and not necessarily the default.

“In five years, we think 50 percent of queries will be on speech or images,” Andrew Ng, Baidu’s chief scientist and the head of Baidu Research, said Wednesday during a Gigaom meetup on his area of expertise, deep learning.

Andrew Ng, Baidu's chief scientist and the head of Baidu Research.

Above: Andrew Ng, Baidu’s chief scientist and the head of Baidu Research.

Image Credit: Dawn Endico/Flickr
A type of artificial intelligence, deep learning involves training systems called artificial neural networks on lots of information derived from audio, images, and other inputs, and then presenting the systems with new information and receiving inferences about it in response.

The technology has appealed to people at companies that handle loads of content, like Facebook, Netflix, Spotify, and Twitter.

And startups like Nervana and Skymind.

But before all of those developments, web search providers like Google, Microsoft, and Baidu have made strides to integrate deep learning into multiple applications.

At Baidu in particular, deep learning has informed speech recognition, image search, web ranking, and advertising systems, said Ng, who joined Baidu from Google earlier this year.

Making Baidu’s neural networks more accurate — a key focus for Ng now — could yield more effective searches in countries where significant percentages of populations are illiterate.

“Speech and images are, in my view, a much more natural way to communicate [than text],” Ng said.

Indeed, already one out of all 10 queries Baidu receives comes through speech, he said. And pointing a smartphone camera at a handbag might identify a particular model more quickly than endlessly rephrasing a typed query. As Ng put it, “It’s easier to show us a picture.”

But regardless of the ways consumers attempt to search the web, it sounds like the underlying technology will matter a lot.

I think that whoever wins AI will win the Internet,” Ng said.


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Baidu was founded in 2000 by Internet pioneer Robin Li, creator of visionary search technology Hyperlink Analysis, with the mission of providing the best way for people to find what they’re looking for online. Over the past decade we... read more »

Andrew Ng is a Co-founder of Coursera and the Director of the Stanford AI Lab. In 2011 he led the development of Stanford University’s main MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platform and also taught an online Machine Learning class ... read more »

Oculus Rift Unveils New Prototype

While we don't have full tech specs yet, it's higher resolution, with improved optics and 360-degree tracking — meaning unlike the last developer kit, it has tracking LEDs on the rear of the unit so you can spin around in your chair (or hopefully, stand up) and not get sick while using it.

Bill Cosby’s Huge, Complicated Post-‘Cosby Show’ Legacy

Cosby's renown has become less neat in the years since the show went off the air, his squeaky-clean family image tarnished by confessions of infidelity and allegations of sexual assault. His politics have become polarizing, and his name is invoked as a shorthand for a specific strain of black conservatism.

Neal Stephenson’s Failed $500,000 Video Game And The Perils Of Using Kickstarter

Neal Stephenson, the celebrated author of sci-fi classics Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon, began working on a sword-fighting video game called 'Clang' in 2012 and raised $526,000 on Kickstarter. It turns out that after two years of work, the game that Stephenson and his team, Subutai, delivered was boring.

Extreme Rituals Forge Intense Social Bonds

From fire-walking and head-slashing to the ice-bucket challenge, ritual pain and suffering forge intense social bonds.

Samsung SM-A300 shows up in UAProf file

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After the Samsung Galaxy Alpha was released earlier this year, word got out that Samsung was working on a whole series of smartphones based on the metal chassis design. Despite the apparent “premium” design, the devices appear to be decidedly mid-range in nature. We have already seen several bits of information surface about the Samsung SM-A500 like a render that surfaced a few days ago. Now we have the first bits of info about the Samsung SM-A300 thanks to a UAProf file that was discovered.

Similar to the other “A series” smartphone, the SM-A300 comes with a 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor and seems to run as slow as its sibling. In a GFX Bench entry for the device, it was listed as running at 1.2GHz while the UAProf file lists it at 1.4GHz. The SM-A300 gets 1GB of RAM and appears to come installed with 8GB of storage. The screen measures 4.8-inches and runs at 960 x 540 resolution. As far as cameras, the SM-A300 gets an 8MP and a 5MP camera, rear and front respectively, both capable of recording 1080p video. The good news is the device runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat.

source: GSMArena


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Oculus VR announces new prototype: Crescent Bay

Oculus VR announces new prototype: Crescent Bay

Above: Oculus Rift's second development kit, which has many of the features consumers will end up using.

Image Credit: Oculus VR

Oculus VR is getting closer to the consumer version of its Rift headset.

The third major revision of the Oculus Rift virtual-reality development kit is called Crescent Bay. It has improved optics, 360-degree motion tracking, and it is much lighter. It also features integrated audio, but that is optional. You can move the headphones out of the way to use your own headphones.

“None of this is perfect yet, but it’s much, much better,” Oculus chief executive officer Brendan Iribe told an audience of developers at the Oculus Connect conference in Hollywood. “It’s in a state that we are prepared to show you today.”

Oculus Rift's Crescent Bay prototype includes several new features.

Above: Oculus Rift’s Crescent Bay prototype includes several new features.

Image Credit: Jeff Grubb/GamesBeat

Oculus VR is holding its Connect conference right now, where it is working with developers to prepare for the consumer launch of the Rift headset. The company handmade the Crescent Bay versions of the development kit, and they will let the Connect attendees try out the device for themselves.

“The progress we have made is incredible,” said Iribe. “I cannot wait to see what we accomplish over the next few decades.”

In addition to the new headset, Iribe touched on Oculus’s growth. Earlier this year, social-network Facebook acquired the virtual-reality company for $2 billion. Since then, Oculus has brought on more than 100 new engineers to work on the product. That was double the number of employees that the company had prior to the Facebook acquisition.



Oculus VR™ was founded by Palmer Luckey, self-described virtual reality enthusiast and hardware geek. The company launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund development of their first product, the Oculus Rift, a ground-breaking vir... read more »

Brendan Iribe is co-founder, president and CEO of Scaleform Corporation where he oversees product development, marketing and sales, and business development, and has established the company as the leading user interface technology prov... read more »

The Backed Pack: Concussion protection, a universal remote, & a sensor pack

The Backed Pack: Concussion protection, a universal remote, & a sensor pack

Each week, our friends at Backerjack bring us updates on some of the most successful gadget crowdfunding campaigns.

Jolt Sensor

The Jolt Sensor is a small device that lives on an athlete’s helmet, headband, or goggles. It’s white, discrete and hooks up via Bluetooth to smartphones. This smart head protectant is sensitive enough that it can detect when a concussion may have occurred based on the wearer’s head’s acceleration rate. When such an injury has been sustained, it sends a signal to a parent or coach altering them to the player’s condition. Jolt runs on a multi-week battery and can be recharged using a USB cord.

While Jolt Sensor has not reached its goal yet, at 2/3 of the way there it has support from hundreds of backers along with a Kickstarter Staff Pick designation. Any way that athletes can be safer is always welcome. Many are pressured to push through their injuries in the name of the game, so it’s great that Jolt Sensor has found a way to support an athlete’s claim that they may be seriously hurt. The only apparent drawback of the Jolt Sensor is that, if fallen directly upon, it may break or push a dent into the wearer’s head. Still, the idea that concussions can be detected early and treated is a welcome concept for members of any sports team.

anymote

AnyMote Home

AnyMote Home is designed to take the core idea of a universal remote, eliminating the need for multiple confusing and similar remote controls, and pairs it with modern technological perks. AnyMote Home is a simple Bluetooth LE hub that takes phone or tablet inputs and converts them into IR signals that can control almost any device, with thousands of devices supported already and updates constantly rolling out.

With over a thousand backers, this universal remote with a twist has already doubled its campaign goal. AnyMote definitely has a strong degree of adoption possibility because of the way that it combines home automation with the familiar button layouts of existing remotes on a touch screen device. Still, the universal remote never found favor beyond the technologically challenged for the lack of precise control and features. If AnyMote doesn’t offer complete 1:1 remote simulation, there will always be a need for the familiar feel of the plastic wand that makes the entertainment magic of the living room a possibility. However, AnyMote supports over 800,000 remotes (and is already up on Google Play, meaning that some customers are already accustomed to using the AnyMote system, and the Home hub will just make it even more convenient.

verve2

VERVE2

VERVE2 is an easily programmable, highly customizable family of sensors that allow users to give any item a degree of online functionality. Detecting touch, light, heat, or motion, VERVE2 can be clipped or affixed to anything and then programmed to interact with computer programs or Web sites to create new and exciting functions.

VERVE2 is not sweating anything. With over a week to go, it’s doubled its goal and have captured the imagination of hundreds of backers. Just by how easy the VERVE2 system is to set up and tweak to accomplish different tasks, it’s an incredible way to bring the power of connecting objects to the Internet to even the most average end user. That being said, from a practicality standpoint, the system may not be as flexible as promised, offering a lot of options to use, but not a lot of outstanding features that would be intuitive to many.

The creative and curious will derive a great sense of joy from getting their hands (and fingers, and voices, and lights) on VERVE2, but for the person who just wants something they can plug in and use to make their lives easier, VERVE2 might not be the right buy. However, being able to turn any object into computer input is what makes VERVE2 an exciting alternative.

 

 

 

How to Follow Social Good Summit 2014 Online

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Social Good Summit is back!

On Sunday, Sept. 21 and Monday, Sept. 22, advocates from across the globe are coming together to discuss some of the biggest challenges our world is facing. Whether it's at local Meetups or at the main stage event at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, speakers will be initiating conversations about how our global community can start working today to help build a better future

Want to join the conversation but can't attend a Social Good Summit event? Don't worry — here's how you can join the discussion online. Read more...

More about Social Media, Social Good Summit, Facebook, Twitter, and Google

Microsoft delays Xbox One launch just days before China debut

Microsoft delays Xbox One launch just days before China debut

Above: Microsoft's Xbox One at ChinaJoy.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

Microsoft announced Saturday morning that it is going to delay its launch of the Xbox One video game console in China until later this year. The joint launch with partner BesTV was scheduled to happen on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

Microsoft will proceed with an event in Shanghai at the Oriental Pearl Tower with fans and partners on Monday, Sept. 22. Attendees will be able to enjoy gameplay, great music and entertainment. Microsoft will also be giving away 100 consoles to fans that attend, which they will receive when the console launches. It just won’t be shipping consoles at that time.

Microsoft said those in China who preordered will still be the first to receive the Chinese version of the console, and they will also get an unspecified added bonus. The company still says it is working with 25 leading developers to deliver 70 games for Xbox One fans in China. It is also working with more than 4,000 retail locations in 37 cities to finalize the launch in in China.

“We are excited to bring game and entertainment innovation to China,” said Yusuf Mehdi, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft, in a statement. “We have an ambitious vision and we’re working hard with our partners to deliver Xbox One and great games and entertainment to China. We are thrilled with the response we’ve seen in China, including pre-orders beyond our expectations and growing anticipation of our launch. Ultimately, our commitment is first and foremost to our fans – and we want to deliver a world-class experience to our fans in China.”

“We are grateful for Microsoft’s commitment to game and entertainment fans in China and we’re pleased with the progress we’re making,” said Zhang Dazhong, head of E-Home entertainment at BesTV, in a statement. “Together, we are working hard to deliver experiences to China which will delight our customers.”

“We have one opportunity to launch Xbox in China and we want to deliver a world-class experience for our fans,” said Enwei Xie, General Manager, China. “For our first fans who have pre-ordered, we are committed to ensuring you are the first to receive Xbox One, along with an added bonus. We also promised our fans a great party and we’re committed to delivering. We can’t wait to see many of you on Monday at the Oriental Pearl Tower, where we will give-away 100 Xbox One consoles*, and we look forward to our official launch soon.”
*Consoles will be delivered once available at Xbox One launch date


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Alex Salmond Resigns As First Minister After Scotland Rejects Independence

Leader of the Scottish National party will stand down in November, as the vote foreshadowed months of constitutional turmoil

How The Ray Rice Scandal Unfolded Between The Baltimore Ravens, Roger Goodell And The NFL

ESPN's "Outside the Lines" interviewed more than 20 sources over the past 11 days — team officials, current and former league officials, NFL Players Association representatives and associates, advisers and friends of Rice — and found a pattern of misinformation and misdirection employed by the Ravens and the NFL since that February night.

The iPhone 6 Lines And The Chinese Mafia

Sleeping on the street, enduring abuse from police and angry Apple fanatics, humoring faux-enthusiasm from Apple store employees, and ending with back-alley hand-offs with suspicious characters — turns out waiting in line for a phone isn't as uneventful as you might think.

The fine line of recognizing talented women in tech

The fine line of recognizing talented women in tech

Thursday night roboticist Cynthia Breazeal was one one of three women to win L’Oreal’s Women in Digital award. During the ceremony it occurred to me, wait, Cynthia Breazeal is a woman?

If you look at all the interviews, profiles, and stories about Breazeal, they describe about her achievements as a scientist in the field of robotics. They talk about Breazeal’s work at the MIT Media Lab, or they talk about Kismet, Breazeal’s doe-eyed social robot, or they talk about Jibo. But whatever they discuss, they never once mention that she’s a woman.

Has gender has ever come up in regards to her work? “It hasn’t, because I’m pioneering my field,” Breazeal tells VentureBeat at the award ceremony. This is no small feat. Most women in tech are identified exactly as such. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is constantly under a magnifying glass, because she’s one of a few female CEOs in the U.S. Meanwhile Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg actively confronts her femaleness in her book “Lean In,” a how-to/call to action for women to seek out leadership roles.

And women in tech are constantly reminded that there are not enough of us in the field with employee breakdowns from Facebook, Google, and the like, where women represent roughly a third of all employees. In the greater world of Science Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, women occupy a quarter of all jobs, according to a census report for 2011. And within that, women are only lightly represented in computer science and engineering. As a result, when women in these fields make noteworthy accomplishments, they’re often recognized as talented … women.

But perhaps Breazeal marks a turning point in the way we treat professional women.

At first glance, this is something to be commended. Women have worked hard to be able to seamlessly coexist with their male counterparts, a genderless existence where we are recognized for our accomplishments outside of our femaleness. The way that Breazeal is treated professionally is something we all hope for in our careers.

Yet there are still countless women who don’t know that it’s okay to pursue STEM degrees and careers. And there are also many women in STEM careers who are reminded of their gender everyday. Is it taboo to say, yes, Breazeal is a female scientist and her accomplishment means a great deal to other women who have struggled or are struggling for recognition? Breazeal and I agreed: “It’s a fine line.”

The professional female struggle is real even if Breazeal has managed to avoid it. And for the sake of future women entrepreneurs, scientists, programmers, and chief technology officers, it may be necessary to recognize her womanness — even if it’s just among us girls.

And that’s why it’s pretty amazing that Cynthia Breazeal sat on a stage last night and accepted an award for being a female entrepreneur and scientist. Because even though we want to be recognized for our talents alone, it’s good to high-five over what we as women have been able to accomplish.


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L'Oral Paris - All the information about L'Oral Paris complete product range of skincare, cosmetics, makeup, haircare, haircolor, hair styling and men's line, as well as professional tips and advice... read more »

9 Hacks For Custom Automation [Webinar Recording]

Automating some of your PPC workload not only makes it easier on you, but puts those mundane and tedious tasks in their place. You’ve probably already done some automation with …

Read more at PPCHero.com

Guinea Mob Kills Team of 8 Health Officials, Journalists on Ebola Awareness Trip

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CONAKRY, Guinea — The team of health officials accompanied by journalists came to the village to educate people about how to avoid contracting Ebola. Instead, a group of local residents turned on their would-be benefactors, attacking them with knives and rocks and killing eight of them, witnesses say.

Guinea's government said in a statement Friday that six people have been arrested in connection with the attack earlier this week on the health and government officials, who were conducting disinfection and providing education on prevention methods.

More about Guinea, Us World, World, and Ebola

The Craziest Colombian Bullfighting Story Ever

According to the man collecting tickets, the village has put on this bullfight event annually since about 1930. In an Afro-Colombian community founded on the rejection of everything Spanish, a tiny village where two small beers from a corner store cost about $1 and the best restaurant in town is an older woman's backyard, well, an 80-year-old bullfighting tradition and enormous wooden bullring feel out of place.

World Wide Web Inventor Slams Internet Fast Lanes

In a visit to The Washington Post, on Thursday, Berners-Lee said that system is now in danger from Internet service providers (ISPs) who stand to amass too much power over what was intentionally built as a decentralized network — one where no single actor could dictate outcomes to everyone else.

FAA Bars Drone From Delivering Game Ball To College Football Matchup

The Federal Aviation Administration has blocked plans for a small drone to deliver the game football for the University of Michigan kickoff Saturday against the University of Utah before a crowd of about 110,000 fans.

The Pitfalls of Working From Home

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netflix weekend

You're sick, your mind is clouded, you've been stuck on the couch with a box of tissues and a 16-gallon drum of herbal tea for two days. And yet, your company expects you to work from home. Life isn't fair.

On top of everything, your beautiful television is constantly tempting you with daytime infomercials and Netflix. Sometimes you can find the strength to fight, sometimes you can't.

In this comic, Safely Endangered explores those times when you can't. Read more...

More about Netflix, Comics, Telecommuting, Watercooler, and Home

A wireless speaker showdown: Denon’s HEOS vs. Sonos (review)

A wireless speaker showdown: Denon’s HEOS vs. Sonos (review)

No longer the only Wi-Fi audio game in town, Sonos now faces stiff competition from consumer audio heavyweight Denon and its HEOS range of Wi-Fi speakers.

Denon isn’t the first company to take a shot at Sonos’s crown – competitors now include LG, Samsung, and Bose – but it’s the most recent and possibly the most serious threat, given its stellar reputation in the home audio world.

HEOS is Denon’s line of home Wi-Fi audio gear that launched earlier this year and closely mirrors the Sonos approach of embedding Wi-Fi-capable independent systems within powered speaker units, all controlled via a free app for iOS or Android.

If you’re familiar with the Sonos product line, you’ll get a serious case of déjà-vu looking at the HEOS offering. Price for price and product for product, the core product offering is nearly identical.

The HEOS 5

Above: The HEOS 5

Here’s how it looks:

HEOS Sonos
HEOS 3 – $299 Play:1 – $199
HEOS 5 – $399 Play:3 – $299
HEOS 7 – $599 Play:5 – $399
HEOS Extend – $99 Bridge – $49
HEOS Amp – $499 Connect:Amp – $499
HEOS Link – $349 Connect – $349
SUB – $699
PlayBar – $699

 

Let’s take a look at how these two systems compare:

Setup

In the past, Sonos required you to buy its Bridge, a small, inexpensive device that connects directly to your home’s router and forms the first element in the proprietary SonosNet Wi-Fi network. (Alternatively, you could also plug Sonos speakers directly into your router.)

As of last month however, Sonos no longer requires a Bridge — speakers can now be connected directly to Wi-Fi. With a Bridge installed, setting up a Sonos speaker is ridiculously easy. Simply fire up the app, choose to add a speaker, press the play/pause and volume button simultaneously on the new speaker, and you’re done. Without the Bridge, set-up is a bit more complex … but only for the first speaker you add, since it will have to be configured to speak to your Wi-Fi network. All additional speakers follow the same set-up as the ‘with Bridge’ arrangement.

The HEOS set-up on the left must be done each time a new speaker is added. The Sonos set-up (right) is much more simple.

Above: The HEOS set-up on the left must be done each time a new speaker is added. The Sonos set-up (right) is much simpler.

With Denon’s HEOS, things are somewhat more complicated.

Just as with a Sonos non-Bridge set-up, you’ll need to configure HEOS to speak to your Wi-Fi network. This is done using the free app on any iOS or Android device that has a headphone jack (which is pretty much ever device, as far as I know).

You plug one end of the included mini-jack patch cord into your phone/tablet and the other into the HEOS unit’s AUX jack located in the back. Following the instructions as the app gives them, you then press the Connect button on the back of the HEOS speaker to begin the configuration process. I found that this could take anywhere between 30 seconds to 2 minutes. You must repeat this process for every new HEOS unit you want to add. It’s time consuming, though not difficult. But it isn’t as smooth or as fast as the Sonos set-up.

Winner: Sonos

Physical Features

The Sonos system is minimalist in terms of additional connections. The Play:1 and Play:3 possess only Ethernet ports and standard speaker-mount threaded inserts, while the Play:5 adds a line-in and headphone mini-jack ports and a second Ethernet port. This means if you opt for a Sonos setup that only includes Play:1 and Play:3 speakers, you won’t have the ability to add an external sound source, e.g., a friend’s phone or iPod.

The Sonos Play:5 (above) has the most inputs of any Sonos speaker. All HEOS speakers have the same ports except for the HEOS 7 (inset) which offers a headphone jack as well.

Above: The Sonos Play:5 (above) has the most inputs of any Sonos speaker. All HEOS speakers have the same ports except for the HEOS 7 (below and inset) which offers a headphone jack as well.

The HEOS, on the other hand, uses a consistent set of inputs on the back of all of their components, which include: one Ethernet port, one AUX mini-jack and one USB port. Only the range-topping HEOS 7 offers a headphone jack.

It’s worth noting that Sonos Ethernet jacks can be used as an extension of its wireless network, letting you plug in any Ethernet-equipped device for Internet access. That’s a neat feature, given that these products are all about the music.

Winner: HEOS

Physical Design

Anything as subjective as the look of a product will always be difficult to judge on an empirical basis, but here’s how the two systems stack up: both are available in black or white, which should give them equal standing as far as home décor goes.

Sonos favors a minimalist design with a solid build and strong metal non-removable grilles. Button placement and design are consistent and easy to access, with the sole indicator light a tiny LED placed between the volume and play/pause buttons.

Which looks better (HEOS on the left Vs. Sonos on the right) will come down to taste.

Above: Which looks better (HEOS on the left Vs. Sonos on the right) will come down to taste.

Denon’s HEOS has a more whimsical look and feel, with speaker grilles that are non-removable cloth-wrapped plastic. Volume and mute buttons appear on the top of the HEOS 3 and the sides of the HEOS 5 & 7. The HEOS indicator light is built into the bottom of the units and glows a pleasing blue color when the unit is connected and operating.

All Sonos units have built-in power adapters, so your only concern is how to run the single, color-matched power cord. The HEOS units, however, all use external (brick) adapters, with the HEOS 3 using a wall-wart variety. I’m not a fan of external adapters, and Sonos earns solid marks for doing away with them.

Every HEOS speaker comes with some form of external power adapter.

Above: Every HEOS speaker comes with some form of external power adapter.

Extra points go to Sonos for their clever multi-function play/pause and volume buttons. One press on play/pause pauses playback or resumes it. A double-press skips to the next track in the playlist. A long press on the volume down button mutes the volume and a single press on the volume up button restores it to its previous level. The HEOS buttons, which use an identical layout, don’t possess such smarts.

Based on the power adapter (or lack thereof) and clever buttons (all else being personal preference)…

Winner: Sonos

Software/Ease-of-Use

First, let’s compare the system requirements and features:

HEOS Sonos
iOS 5+ iOS 6+
Android 2.3 + Android 2.1 +
Mac OSX 10.6.8 +
Windows XP3 +

This might already create problems for people who want to control their music from a computer — it’s simply not an option for HEOS. On the other hand, any iOS device that can’t run iOS 6+ isn’t invited to the Sonos party (sorry first-gen iPad).

How about music sources?

HEOS Sonos
NAS, PC/Mac via DLNA NAS, PC or Mac, no DLNA required
USB (all units)
Analog line-in (all units)Digital line-in (Amp, Link) Analog line-in (only Play:5, Connect and Connect:Amp)Digital line-in (Connect, Connect Amp, Playbar)
Local music on iOS/Android Local music on iOS/Android
Online (Pandora, Spotify*, Rhapsody and tunein only for now) 28 Online music sources including Pandora, Spotify*, Google Play, Songza and Rdio

*Spotify Premium required

HEOS proves more flexible in terms of local sources, but when it comes to online music services, Sonos comes out way ahead.

The HEOS app does a good job letting you drag and drop speaker to rearrange their groups.

Above: The HEOS app does a good job letting you drag and drop speaker to rearrange their groups.

The DLNA (a universal streaming media standard) requirement for HEOS could prove an annoyance for some users. Macs for instance, don’t come equipped with a DLNA server, so you’ll need to install one. Not all NAS devices implement DLNA in a way that HEOS likes; you’ll need to check their compatibility list. Sonos meanwhile, is the king of connectivity and can easily access any music in your network regardless of DLNA compatibility.

Both systems let you stream music to each speaker independently, or you can group as many speakers as you like into a single zone where all speakers play in perfect sync, with the HEOS app offering a friendly drag-and-drop method for configuring zones.

Both systems let you access speaker volumes and EQ (treble and bass only), though only Sonos gives you a Loudness setting.

Both systems do a good job of displaying album art, but the Sonos renders this art faster when music is viewed as a list.

With Sonos, you can pair any two Sonos speakers to form a left and right channel stereo setup. HEOS only lets you do this with the HEOS 3 speakers.

Overall navigation on both apps takes some getting used to, with Sonos feeling a tad faster and more responsive. HEOS employs a three-tabs design that give you quick access to Rooms, Music, and Now Playing, while the Sonos app uses tap-able labels (e.g., tapping on the name of the current room takes you to the Rooms screen). It’s hard to say which is better. If I prefer the Sonos layout it’s probably because I’m more familiar with it.

HEOS (left) can only return search results based on the source you've selected. Sonos (right) can search them all.

Above: HEOS (left) can only return search results based on the source you’ve selected. Sonos (right) can search them all.

One area where Sonos really dominates is with its global search function. This lets you find matches on a plethora of criteria such as artists, albums, tracks, playlists, etc. not just against the music on your network or your device, but on every online service that you’re subscribed to. HEOS has a search function too, but it is limited to matching only album, artist, and track and – more importantly – can only search the music on your network and only one source at a time. There is no support for searching online music sources.

Sonos has always described themselves as a software company, and it shows.

Winner: Sonos

Sound Quality & Performance

Of course the big question is … which sounds better?

It’s not as easy to answer this as you might think. At first glance, based on how HEOS has set up their speaker line to coincide with the Sonos models, it’s tempting to match up the HEOS 3 with the Play:1, the HEOS 5 with the Play:3 and the HEOS 7 with the Play:5. At first, that’s exactly what I did, with the result being that the HEOS units trounced their Sonos rivals. Each HEOS speaker performed significantly better in every describable way.

But that’s not the right way to compare these products, because from a technical point of view, that’s not how they line up. Time for another table!

Speaker model Number of drivers Number of amps Price
Play:1 2 2 $199
HEOS 3 2 2 $299
Play:3 3 3 $299
HEOS 5 5 4 $399
Play:5 5 5 $399
HEOS 7 7 5 $599

 

You can’t expect a three-driver, three-amp speaker to sound as good as one with five drivers and five amps. So comparing a Play:3 to a HEOS 5 simply doesn’t work. You’re paying $100 more for the HEOS 5 and you can tell right away. Likewise, the 7-driver 5-amp $599 HEOS 7 outclasses the 5-driver, 5-amp $399 Play:5. There’s a huge difference in how these two speakers sound.

The blue glow of the HEOS's indicator light can be mesmerizing

Above: The blue glow of the HEOS’s indicator light can be mesmerizing

So what to do?

What I can say is that, for the price and to my ears, each of these speakers sounds terrific. The HEOS speakers do possess a slightly warmer tone than the Sonos, though not by a significant amount, and when two similar units like the HEOS 5 and the Play:5 are compared, the HEOS offers slightly lower bass.

Is the HEOS 3's bold looks, extra inputs and horizontal placement option worth $100 more than the Play:1?

Above: Is the HEOS 3’s bold looks, extra inputs and horizontal placement option worth $100 more than the Play:1?

The Play:1 for its part, feels like a better value at $199 than the $299 HEOS 3. Even though the HEOS costs 50 percent more than the Sonos, I’m not sure it sounds 50 percent better. But the extra inputs on the back of the HEOS, combined with its sexy shape and ability to sit horizontally as well as vertically might help someone rationalize the difference.

Also, the HEOS 7 might not be worth $599 to you, but I can tell you that it sounds a lot better than Sony’s comparable SRSX9 at $699, with more features too.

Winner: Undecided

Conclusion

For most people, the appeal of creating a whole-home wireless audio system is convenience. They want the music that they love wherever and whenever they want it. Quality sound matters and so does flexibility, but these can’t come at the price of ease of use.

While there are strong arguments to be made that Denon’s new line of HEOS wireless speakers are a match for Sonos (and then some), when it comes to sound quality and versatility of external music source, the strength of the Sonos set-up and software ease of use have yet to meet their match at any price.

I’m sure that in time, Denon will improve the HEOS software (after all, Sonos has a significant head start) and add more online music services, to create a more level playing field with Sonos. But for now, Sonos has the edge and ultimately wins this comparison.

White House Fence-Jumper Made It Inside Before Getting Caught

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The Secret Service is coming under renewed scrutiny after a man scaled the White House fence, and made it all the way through the front door before he was apprehended.

U.S. President Barack Obama and his daughters had just left the White House on Friday evening when the intruder climbed the north fence, darted across the lawn and into the residence, where agents nabbed him.

The security breach triggered a rare evacuation of much of the White House. Secret Service officers drew their guns, as they rushed staffers and journalists out a side door. Read more...

More about White House, Us World, and Us

16 Ways to Photoshop Your Boring Baby Pics Into Works of Art

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Parents of the Internet, we hate to break it to you, but the baby pictures you've flood our News Feed with are, well, boring.

Sure, to you and most of your family, a photograph of your child is precious, adorable, and brings you joy. But to the vast majority of us, it's just another picture of your weird-looking baby and when you've seen one, you've seen them all

It's not that we don't want to see any photo of your child. Maybe just mix things up a bit, instead of attempting to show off your kids' talents, which are sleeping and barely being able to keep his head up Read more...

More about List, Pics, Children, Baby, and Photoshop

Hitler’s Former Food Taster Reveals The Horrors Of The Wolf’s Lair

Every meal could have been her last. And when she had finished eating the bland vegetarian dishes put before her, 25-year-old Margot Wölk and her young female colleagues would burst into tears and “cry like dogs” because they were grateful still to be alive.

Why Obama’s Plan To Fight Ebola Might Actually Work

It’s too soon to tell whether President Barack Obama’s decision to dispatch troops to West Africa to assist in the fight against Ebola — an announcement squeezed in just before his big ISIS policy offensive — is the right intervention at the right time. I believe it is, for several reasons, but there are some very real pitfalls that U.S. personnel must avoid in order for their presence to be constructive rather than inflammatory.

Around The World In Eight Hospital Meals

From tasty tempura to gross gruel, hospital meals across the globe vary wildly. Highbrow institutions in China and India have long served top-notch food. U.S. hospitals are starting to follow suit.

A practical guide to writing an effective social media policy

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Brian Honigman is a marketing consultant, a professional speaker and freelance writer. This post originally appeared on his blog. For many organizations, social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can help spread goodwill about an organization in an organic and genuine way. However, the same characteristics that enable social media to benefit a company make it capable of destroying reputations if used incorrectly. To help encourage positive use of social media, while carefully mitigating any potential for risk, companies are finding it increasingly necessary to outline clear social media policies. In much the same way that a mission statement provides overall direction...

This story continues at The Next Web

The post A practical guide to writing an effective social media policy appeared first on The Next Web.

3 Steps to Improve Your Writing on Twitter

3 Steps To Improving Your Writing On Twitter

Whether you studied English Literature for your four-year undergrad or you read the back of a cereal box this morning, if you’re on Twitter, you’re a writer. Here’s how to be better.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Why Apple Pay might succeed where Google, PayPal, and Visa have failed

Why Apple Pay might succeed where Google, PayPal, and Visa have failed
Image Credit: Eric Blattberg / VentureBeat

Apple may be in the process of creating a better climate for mobile payments to succeed in the United States.

The payment sector is watching to see if Apple and its popular iPhone can get consumers to adopt near-field communication (NFC) methods to pay for things. NFC technology enables devices, like a point-of-sale terminal and a mobile phone, to communicate without contact. And just in case Apple Pay (and NFC) take off, all of the major U.S. credit card companies and payment processors — like Stripe, Square, and Braintree — are saying that they’ll support it.

But others have attempted this same feat before with little success. You know the players: PayPal, Google Wallet, and the unfortunately named Isis (now, in the wake of events in the Middle East, renamed Softcard — also not a great name).

Google Wallet had issues with major carriers, who said that the application was harmful to their networks because it required integration with a proprietary piece of hardware called the “secure element.”

Meanwhile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-mobile were all collaborating on their own NFC mobile payment solution called Isis, which also required the secure element. The mobile payment tug-of-war has resulted in a stalemate.

PayPal’s mobile app has shown the most promise. According to an IDC mobile payments report in April, 58 percent of respondents who use mobile payments said they used PayPal. Still, that’s small consolation for PayPal, because only 37 percent of respondents said they use mobile payments at all.

But this hasn’t deterred Apple — it actually seems to have inspired the company. And the notion that Apple is somehow late to the party, because it’s only now developing a digital payment method several years after early innovators, is wrong. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Apple is the one throwing the party.

Timing

Before even announcing its new payment platform (reminder, it’s not even available yet), Apple struck up a series of partnerships.

These deals include confirmations from all major U.S. credit card companies and some key merchants that they will participate: Macy’s, Duane Reade, McDonald’s, and Whole Foods (all which already support NFC payments).

In addition to a strategic invite list, the iPhone maker timed Apple Pay’s roll out just as credit card companies are gearing up to switch over to chip and PIN cards in the U.S. Credit card companies are pushing retailers to switch over their payment systems to chip and PIN readers by October 2015 or else be liable for any fraudulent charges resulting from older card-swipe systems. That means merchants are going to be updating their card readers regardless. It’s reasonable to think when merchants upgrade to new card readers, they will opt for systems that are both EMV- and NFC-friendly. (EMV stands for Euro, Mastercard, Visa and is global standard for use with chip and PIN credit cards.)

Apply Pay is also launching amid an increasing number of security breaches at major retailers like Home Depot and Target that have led to compromised credit card data. The new payment method wisely hinges on the use of tokens to secure credit card information. Apple Pay assigns a randomized code to your credit card and then encrypts and secures that number in your phone. Every time you make a purchase, Apple Pay issues a one-time secure transaction code, making it incredibly difficult to track your credit card number. Couple that with biometric touch security and you have a pretty secure transaction.

“I would say the fact that your credit cards aren’t being exposed to skimmers and that the credit card is not being given to the retailers increases the security. [Your credit card] is just held in the phone as a representation and it’s not being held by the merchant,” says Aaron Cherrington, a senior threat analyst at FireEye. He co-authored a blog post heralding Apple Pay’s security measures.

Apple also makes a point of not storing your credit card data in its servers. Of course, others say Apple Pay’s security is questionable (i.e., if a hacker were to replicate someone’s biometrics, replacing a finger poses some problems). Ultimately, all things being hackable, Apple Pay will likely succumb to some sort of infringement at some point. Still, using secure transaction codes is a major improvement from swiping a credit card at a terminal.

Unfortunately, security doesn’t sell products. Apple will still have to find a way to get customers onboard with Apple Pay.

Consumers

Consumers are going to be the toughest sell of all. One of the main reasons that Google Wallet and Softcard (née Isis) struck out is because contact-less payments don’t solve a consumer problem.

“The issue has been that swiping a card at checkout is one of the easiest things they’ll ever do,” says Bill Ready, the CEO of Braintree. While some have security concerns, consumers aren’t the ones paying for fraudulent charges on their cards, so they don’t really care about securing them. Besides, most people are just as likely to have their phone on them as their wallet.

Except, of course, when don’t you have your phone or wallet on you, like when you’re taking your dog for a walk or maybe when you’re out for a long run. Enter the Apple Watch, which is compatible with Apple Pay even without a paired iPhone nearby. Say goodbye to the days when you stuffed cash into your sports bra just in case you needed something while you were out. Being able to pay for things with a wrist device solves a real consumer problem and may be the most compelling reason to buy one of those watches.

And Apple already has lots of credit card data stored in iTunes. In a recent earnings call, Tim Cook said iTunes had amassed 800 million accounts. PayPal, by comparison, only has 152 million active online accounts, according to Statista.

Merchants

Some retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy, have already said that they have no plans to adopt Apple Pay. Merchants have the burden of having to buy expensive NFC card readers, which can cost upward of $250 each, and must deal with installation and infrastructure costs. But they may have to eat the cost of new readers, anyway, for the chip and PIN era.

Other retailers are less reluctant.

“We’ve had mobile payments on our radar for some time, so we were excited when Apple came to us with this,” said Julie Bornstein, makeup retailer Sephora’s chief digital officer. “What makes Apple Pay so appealing is that it doesn’t require consumers to adopt a new form of payment. It uses the iPhone they already have and leverages pre-established NFC technology, making it simple and convenient for our customers.”

Bornstein emphasized that she’s been watching mobile payments for a while, waiting for something to emerge that she thinks consumers will get on board with. Merchants are going to want to be compatible with a payment method that takes off.

Still, Sephora is a resource-rich company. Smaller companies, or those with tighter budgets, might have a hard time implementing expensive EMV- and NFC-reading hardware.

But what if it were easier or cheaper? Square is working on a contact-less payment solution so it can integrate with Apple Pay, though details on what that means are scant. And it would be interesting if companies known for their small business solutions built hardware that made the installation both easy and cheap — and worked with EMV and NFC.

The winner?

Ultimately, Apple has positioned itself better than its predecessors by having more control of the hardware (unlike Google) and by giving consumers a reason to want to use mobile payments (unlike PayPal).

Like Apple, PayPal did forge a number of partnerships with restaurants and retailers. But PayPal may not have had enough customers onboard to begin with. Apple potentially has 800 million credit cards on file through iTunes, giving it more than four times the reach of PayPal.

And Apple did one more thing. Even if mobile NFC payments don’t catch on via iPhone, because it’s just as easy to use a credit card, the Apple Watch gives people an excuse to run out of the house without a wallet and still buy something.

So sure, Apple may have waited longer to launch its own mobile payments party. But when it did, it gave everyone it invited a better reason to attend.


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Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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Charles Dance Drops ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 5 Hint About Tywin’s Future

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This video contains spoilers for Season 4 of Game of Thrones.

No Hodor in Season 5 of Game of Thrones. No Bran, either. But Tywin?

You might need to be sitting down for this one: Charles Dance, who plays the Machiavellian patriarch Tywin Lannister on the series, dropped a hint about his future role on the show in an interview with MTV UK, above — and now, GoT fans are speculating about just what it might mean.

Given what happened to Tywin at the end of Season 4, there might not be much for Dance to do in any Season 5 appearances. Nor has the show engaged in flashbacks before, but that could change; Lannisters have pretty good memories. Read more...

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49 Hostages of ISIS Have Been Freed, Turkish PM Says

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ANKARA, Turkey — Dozens of Turkish hostages seized by the Islamic State group in Iraq were freed Saturday, resolving a serious crisis which Turkish officials had long cited as a reason to avoid moving aggressively against the violent militant group.

The 49 hostages were captured from the Turkish Consulate in Mosul, Iraq, on June 11, when ISIS overran the city in its surge to seize large swaths of Iraq and Syria. But the circumstances of their release — which drew flag-waving crowds to the Turkish capital's airport — were clouded in mystery.

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50 Simple Ways to Make Someone Happy

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It doesn't take a lot to make someone smile.

It's the small acts of kindness, like taking the time to hand write a note or making the effort to remember your friend's favorite coffee order, that can make a big difference in someone's day.

We asked Mashable staff members to share their favorite ways to make someone else's day. Share your own favorite small acts of kindness in the comments below

Now go out there and turn someone's morning around. Read more...

1. Send him the perfect viral video.

2. Help her pick up the change that just tumbled out of her wallet.

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Why the Women’s Empowerment Movement Is So Important

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We're currently experiencing a global gender revolution. Women are not only finding their voices — they’re using them.

And we can't afford to ignore the dormant social and economic power that lies within those voices. Diminishing the importance of women means failing to make use of humankind's full potential.

The topic of women's empowerment is ripe for conversation, and there are multiple panels at this year’s Social Good Summit to help push the topic forward and bring these critical issues to light.

As the Summit approaches, several LinkedIn Influencers have contributed their thoughts on the issues that matter most to them. Below, we have excerpts from three Influencers who share a passion for including women in global issues at all levels. Read more...

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Ebola Worst-Case Scenario Has More Than 500,000 Cases

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This Week in Social: Expiration Dates for Social Media

Does the saying “The Internet never forgets” still hold up? This reverse amnesia of the Information Age has sparked many global discussions on privacy and online reputation, and it is reflected more and more in the changes made by those in charge of our online information, like social networks and ISPs.

But there’s a different side to our collective online footprint: with so much data constantly streaming into your email inbox, smartphone notifications, and social media feeds, it’s no wonder some things escape our attention. Our weekly roundup delivers what’s happened in the world of social—so you hear about the latest social media news, even if it’s past their expiration date.

Now that you have some time, let’s retrace our (online) steps.

Latest from the Big 4

Every week Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ announce policy changes, updates, design tweaks, new features and other changes that can affect how you use their tools. Here are this week’s highlights:

Facebook works on a more timely News Feed

Can you remember a News Feed that delivered the most recent posts from your Friends, instead of the ones with the most “congratulations”? It seems that many of Facebook’s recent changes are going back to the basics: first, Facebook cracked down on click-bait in articles shared on your Feed, and now the company has announced a move towards deliver you more timely news from your friends.

This means two changes to your Feed: first, you will see more posts your Facebook friends share about topics trending in real-time (for example, those also reflected in the Trending bar at the top right corner of the Feed). Additionally, instead of seeing posts that received a lot of attention earlier, you will see posts being liked, shared and commented on at the time you open Facebook.

There have been some reports from Facebook for iOS users about seeing an option with expiration dates for their posts. A spokesperson for the social network has confirmed Facebook is indeed toying with the idea, where users could determine whether their posts will remain live for times ranging from one hour to seven days.

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Image via @jenflitter/Twitter

Twitter shows off a slick new iOS 8 interface

Excitement about new Apple products hasn’t abated since last week’s Apple Live event, with the launch of both iOS 8 and new Apple devices steadily keeping the company in the trending topics on social media. Part of this buzz was generated by major social media networks rolling out new iPhone features to match the new capabilities of iOS 8. Twitter rolled out the biggest change to the profile design on their iOS app, with a prominent user bio, and separate tabs for easier viewing of Tweets, Photos and Favorites. The new version also allows you to retweet, favorite and follow directly from push notifications. The update is available to anyone with iOS 7 version and higher.

Twitter interfact TWIS

The next big thing

Reduce your online footprint with Xpire app

While Facebook tests out expiration dates for posts, iOS users can already download an app that allows them to do so. In addition to Facebook statuses, Xpire lets you schedule content for Tweets and Tumblr posts that automatically self-destructs after a given time. Xpire’s creator Jesse Stauffer told Techcrunch this was inspired by the increasing concerns with the online footprint on social media, and how that can affect your real-life reputation and credibility. But Stauffer says the expiration dates have a more practical use, too: a Facebook status inquiring about the happenings on a given Friday night soon loses its relevance, so it would only make sense for it to disappear once its purpose is served.

Xpire app expiration dates

This new app lets you make your own GIFs

We love GIFs: we use them to tweet our reactions to news, and some even find ways to incorporate it into their social media strategy. Since moving images are such a big part of our Internet lives, it’s surprising an app like PHHHOTO is only emerging now: this app lets you create GIFs out of your photos, and then share them on popular social networks, such as Instagram. The app’s creators made a smart move to launch on the eve of New York Fashion Week. The GIFs are made up of four photos taken in succession, which apparently is a great way to show off outfits and accessories.

Phhhoto app GIF

Another fun thing about PHHHOTO app is trying to figure out how to refer to this social network when trying to convince your friends to join. “F-h-h-oto”? “Ffffoto?” I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Netropolitan wants rich people to feel included

Have you ever been plagued with a tough choice between a new Aston-Martin or a Lamborghini, with no one to advise you? Are you tired of your social media followers tagging each one of your posts with #richpeopleproblems? The Netropolitan Club, a new “global online community for affluent and accomplished individuals,” is here to help. This social network costs $9000 to join, with $3000 annual fees to stay connected to like-minded individuals in the upper economic classes. If you think those fees are outrageous, think again: at least this social network, unlike the plebeian Facebook, is totally ad-free.

Long read: Why social media failed to predict #Indyref results

On Thursday, the much-discussed referendum vote on the Scottish independence from the United Kingdom has come to a conclusion, with the No votes leading by just over ten percent.

However, just a day prior to the final vote count, social media predicted the opposite outcome. As with the majority of the campaigns that garner a lot of attention, a social media battle between the two sides has been developing for the past few months, culminating in thousands of interactions in the weeks leading up to the final count. A summary of direct interactions and Likes on Facebook saw the Yes side in the lead by several thousand, while the Twitter accounts of the party leader Alex Salmond and the official campaign account Yes Scotland also beat the No side by several thousand followers.

What went wrong? Since this is far from the first time social media fails to predict the outcome of a political campaign, those who follow social media trends were not surprised. A recent Pew Internet study revealed that social media, much like any other way of public polling, doesn’t yet provide a safe platform where people who perceive their opinion to be unpopular feel free to express their views. This means that what is repeatedly liked and retweeted on social media does not necessarily reflect which box is checked off on the ballot—all it shows is what is considered a more socially accepted opinion.

Schedule your social media posts without a need for expiration dates with the Hootsuite dashboard.

The post This Week in Social: Expiration Dates for Social Media appeared first on Hootsuite Social Media Management.

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Before & After: 11 Brands That Gave Their Slogans a Makeover

sb10065243e-001 This post originally appeared on the Insiders section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Insiders.

Ah, slogans: Those easily identified and often game-changing phrases that can come to symbolize a brand for an entire generation or more. READ MORE »

In YouTube Battle, Apple and Samsung Wield Different Weapons


In the courtroom, Apple and Samsung like to accuse the over of being a copycat. Neither could make that claim when it comes to digital advertising tactics.

This week, as both device makers rolled out spots on YouTube for their latest flagship smartphones, the marketing contrast was clear.

Apple introduced its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus with just three digital creative pieces. By Thursday, the trio netted 19.6 million impressions, according to Visible Measures, which catalogues overall spread with its 'True Reach' metric. Apple also accrued 162,000 social interactions.

Continue reading at AdAge.com

8 Places That Are Pricier in Times Square Than the Rest of NYC

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Times Square is nothing short of glitz and glam

But along with its neon lights and flashy billboards come some heavy price tags. As 50 million tourists flock to the heart of New York City each year, megastores and big-name chain restaurants in the area have no problem inflating their rates.

But just how high are these markups? Take a look at the infographic below to see how prices in Times Square stack up against prices elsewhere in New York City

Prices in Times Square vs. Prices Elsewhere in NYC

Image: Mashable, Christopher Mineses

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. Read more...

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Weekend Favs September Twenty

Weekend Favs September Twenty written by John Jantsch read more at Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

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photo credit: TumblingRun via photopin cc

Good stuff I found this week:

Heyo – The easiest way to create compelling campaigns for Facebook that are mobile optimized

Pitcherific – Tool that helps you hone and improve your product, idea or company pitch

MailTime – Tool that turns your long email conversations into text message style chats

The Stunning Velocity Of The Marriage Equality Movement

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Facebook Alters News Feed: This Week in Social Media

Welcome to our weekly edition of what’s hot in social media news. To help you stay up to date with social media, here are some of the news items that caught our attention. What’s New This Week? Facebook Updates News Feed by Showing More Timely Stories From Friends and Pages: With this new change, “when [...]

This post Facebook Alters News Feed: This Week in Social Media first appeared on Social Media Examiner.
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