Archive for October 7, 2011

LEAKED: A Bunch Of Screenshots Of Android Ice Cream Sandwich (GOOG)

android ice cream sandwich video

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andy rubin


The big Android Ice Cream Sandwich event next week may be postponed, but that hasn’t stopped the leaks.

Today we found a bunch of screenshots via PocketNow, who found them on the site Mobilissimo.

From what we can tell, Ice Cream Sandwich will be a unique blend of Gingerbread for phones and Honeycomb for tablets. Which makes sense since the OS is now designed to run on both.

Flip through the photos below for more.

UPDATE: The kind folks at Android Police have a leaked version of Ice Cream Sandwich’s new Music app. We’ve added the screenshots to the slideshow below.

Demand Media Is Cutting Back On Its Massive Volume Of Writing (DMD)

joanne bradford demand media

Joanne Bradford

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In an email sent to Demand Media’s thousands of freelance writers the company laid out a rather significant shift in strategy.

The so-called “content farm” is cutting back, a process it mentioned in its Q1 report. It will be assigning fewer stories because it feels like it already has a strong backlog of material.

“With our eHow.com library already so comprehensive, we saw the opportunity to shift our focus to more targeted categories and other forms of content such as slide shows, video series and feature articles,” the company said.

It continued, “Looking ahead, as we continue to publish articles for eHow and our other sites, we want to be sure we are building on what already exists, not replicating it. This is not to say we will stop assigning standard titles in How to and Topic View format for eHow.com. But it does mean that we will have fewer eHow.com assignments for the foreseeable future.”

A freelancer forwarded us the email and wrote Demand “effectively lays off writers via email.”

We reached out to Demand and chief revenue officer Joanne Bradford (obviously) disagreed with this person’s assessment.

She told us, “It’s still one of the largest pools of writing assignments available in the world. We don’t feel like it’s that dramatic of a change because it’s not like every assignment was being taken. It’s all about quality for us.”

Bradford admitted that some writers would be cut, but that is a part of the process. They are always looking to get rid of the lowest rated writers and replace them with better once.

Work for Demand? We’d love to hear from you (ndavis@businessinsider.com, 646.376.6016).

Here’s the full email:

Dear Writers and Editors,
 
We realize there has been recent concern around assignment availability. We know many of you rely on Demand Media Studios as a regular income source and as a way to grow your careers. For those reasons and others, we want to be as transparent as we can about the future.
 
In just a few years, we’ve worked together to grow the eHow.com library to an astounding 3 million articles. While eHow has been the main publisher of content produced by DMS writers, we’ve also developed other writing outlets on our own properties like typeF.com and LIVESTRONG.COM as well as through partnerships like Chron.com and USAToday. With our eHow.com library already so comprehensive, we saw the opportunity to shift our focus to more targeted categories and other forms of content such as slide shows, video series and feature articles. Good examples of these new formats can be found on  eHow and LIVESTRONG.COM.
 
None of this would have been possible without having spent so many years working with you, our writers and editors, to build our comprehensive library.
 
Looking ahead, as we continue to publish articles for eHow and our other sites, we want to be sure we are building on what already exists, not replicating it. This is not to say we will stop assigning standard titles in How to and Topic View format for eHow.com. But it does mean that we will have fewer eHow.com assignments for the foreseeable future.
 
However, we will continue to add more publishers and sections as we’ve done over the years, and ultimately the work and opportunities will grow for our best writers and editors. We are also excited to completely execute on our vision of having the most qualified writers and editors working on titles within their areas of expertise.
 
In order for this to happen, we need to make sure of a few things:

  • That only executable, valid and unique titles make it to your Work Desk.
  • That every article is written and copy edited by a qualified professional with background, knowledge or experience in the topic.
  • That every article has the appropriate format and word count for the topic to be comprehensively covered.

What bear market? Groupon pressing on with IPO plans

Reports of the death of Groupon’s IPO plans have apparently been greatly exaggerated. The online daily deals pioneer filed an updated version of its S-1 document with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, as part of its preparation for a planned initial public offering of its stock.

Since the company first filed its S-1 in June, Groupon has been roundly criticized for its seemingly shady accounting practices and that its early founders and investors have already cashed out billions of dollars worth of the company’s stock. CEO Andrew Mason was so irked by the negative press that he sent a long email to Groupon’s employees filled with talking points they could use to defend the company. Ironically, when that email was inevitably leaked to the press, it only attracted more criticism; the missive was seen as a violation of the SEC’s quiet period rules.

These issues coupled with the larger environment of economic unrest have fueled rumors that Groupon had put its stock market plans on ice. But Friday’s S-1 update — the third revision since June — shows that the company is still keen to go public. Despite Groupon’s swaggering reputation and Mason’s grumbling about haters, the company’s management is showing that underneath it all, it’s actually willing to make changes and respond to criticism. Specifically, the latest filing has a few notable tweaks: Groupon said it plans to scale back its marketing budget, reported that its revenue bookings were slightly higher in the second quarter of the year, and reprinted the full text of Mason’s leaked email.

More than anything, though, updating the S-1 shows that Groupon is still serious about making its stock market debut at some point soon. But ultimately, that will only happen if investors show that they have an appetite for the company’s shares.

Photo of “Hear, speak, see no evil” statue © 2003 David Monniaux, used courtesy of Creative Commons

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Politician’s Twitter slip shows it’s time for a fix

It looked like an ordinary Friday afternoon for Chris Huhne, Britain’s secretary of state for energy and a member of the British coalition government. The day was ending. Things were wrapping up for the weekend. And then it all went haywire.

A mysterious message appeared on his Twitter stream: “From someone else fine,” it said. “But I do not want my fingerprints on the story C.”

It was rapidly deleted, but by then, of course, it was too late. Some of his 7,500 followers — some of them reporters — had picked up the message and began questioning it.

Was it genuine? Almost certainly: The message, obviously sent by mistake, apparently came in by text. But what was the story he was referring to? Was it a leak? Was it an attempt to undermine a rival… or even an ally? In these fractious political times, the mere hint of conspiracy was enough to send the political machine into overdrive, while Huhne himself appears to have gone silent.

This mini scandal will probably blow over, but the idea of a public figure being skewered by private messages let loose is far from new. Technology can accelerate leaks and slips; just ask Anthony Weiner, whose groin probably has spent as much time on the air as the man himself, or British prime minister Gordon Brown, who called a supporter “bigoted” without realizing his microphone was still on.

But these leaks have always happened whenever somebody fails to control their message or the people around them. Just look at the famous Zimmerman telegram, which hastened America’s entry into the First World War.

Some argue that these slips — in the long run — are no bad thing, since everything should happen in public. In a way, the “frictionless sharing” Facebook has championed is a euphemism for precisely that. And it’s an idea that media critic Jeff Jarvis argues forcefully in favor of in his book Public Parts.

But here’s the problem with slips like Huhne’s: They aren’t failures of control; they are failures of technology.

Regardless of the content of his message, the real issue is that Twitter’s architecture makes it incredibly easy to make the same mistake. There can’t be many of us who have never sent a direct message to our public accounts by mistake. Twitter has made changes to the system over the years, but day after day, people are still making this mistake.

Will Twitter ever fix this? Can it?

I don’t know, but I fear if they don’t, the service risks losing people who worry about these kind of mistakes happening. Whatever you think about Twitter’s value to the public sphere, it’s been refreshing for many people to be able to contact their representatives directly this way. But every slip-up makes it a little harder for conservative politicians and public figures to make the decision to sign up.

Can you blame them? I doubt any of us would press send so hastily if there were a button labelled “IMPLODE CAREER”.

But it would be a shame to lose out simply because politicians and public figures get too worried about pressing the wrong button. So please, Twitter, do something. You may regret it otherwise.

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Can Nuance Help Bring Swype To the iPhone?

swypelogo150150.jpgNews broke last night that speech-to-text software creators Nuance has acquired mobile text software designer Swype for $102.5 million. This is a big merger in the information input vertical of mobile ecosystem as it combines two of the hottest and most used features on smartphones today.

This could be the first steps to bringing Swype to the iPhone. We lamented after the iPhone 4S announcement that Siri, the voice input “assistant” coming in iOS 5, should have been Swype. Apple was a good working relationship with Nuance and if the parties can figure out a good graphical interface for Swype on the iPhone, it may be the next important feature in iOS.

Kleiner Perkins, SV Angel Back Personalized, Designer Quality E-Commerce Platform Everlane

everlane

Stealthy e-commerce platform Everlane has raised $1.1 million from a number of high-profile investors including Kleiner Perkins, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, Betaworks and angel investors including Brian Sugar, Keith Rabois, Dave Morin, Ben Ling, Nils Johnson, and Karl Jacob.

Everlane is still a month away from its public launch but we’ve received a few details on what the e-commerce company will offer come November 1. Co-founder Michael Preysman tells me that the site will offer designer-quality goods, always under $100. The plan is to build the next American Apparel or J Crew, but all online through a highly personalized, collaborative experience.

How does Everlane promise designer-quality duds at low prices? Similar to fellow e-commerce platform JustFabulous, Everlane bypasses the middlemen in the manufacturing process, which cuts 90% of traditional retail costs, and incorporating consumer feedback in realtime. You have to be a member to join, and each month the site launches a new collection of goods. Members can vote and comments on what new accessories and clothes Everlane offers each month.

Preysman tells me that the site will focus on offering American Apparel-style clothing, including high-quality t-shirts, sweatshirts, and more. Each month, Everlane will also launch a new line of accessories, including jewelry, that will expire each month. Preysman also says that Everlane has brought on a number of retail executives and employees from American Apparel, including the company’s former brand director and former content director.

Everlane will merge the tech and branding world, says Preysman, and create a new platform for finding high-quality basics at low prices. Plus, members get input on design and new products. Similar to American Apparel and J. Crew, Everland has ambitions of being a “broader lifestyle brand.”

Everlane is certainly capitalizing on a new wave of personalized (and well-funded) e-commerce startups that include JustFabulous, ShoeDazzle, BeachMint, BirchBox and many others. The space is still relatively new, but has been gaining traction amongst users as an affordable way to shop online, customize your purchases, and receive high-quality goods.

Dalai Lama To Host Google Plus Hangout Tomorrow

dalailama150.jpgThe Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile, has joined Google Plus, and he’s hosting a live Hangout tomorrow with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The conversation is part of the inaugural Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s an On Air Hangout, so there’s no limit to the number of viewers.

The Hangout will be held tomorrow (Saturday, October 8) at 10:30 a.m. South African time (GMT +2:00). Unfortunately for U.S. readers, that’s 4:30 a.m. Eastern, 1:30 a.m. Pacific. Google SVP Vic Gundotra says the video will be available shortly thereafter. You can follow the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Google Plus.

Startup Fastly offers radical new CDN using flash memory

Fastly, a startup created this year is turning the economics of delivering content on its head with a content delivery network composed of solid state drives. By placing two servers packed with SSDs in each company’s data center, Artur Bergman, Fastly’s CEO, has managed to speed up the load times of his former employer Wikia, as well as a few other customers.

Bergman says he first realized that he had a business model when he was CTO at Wikia, which provides wikis. The site was seeing its load times slow, and it wanted to improve them, so it shopped around to major CDNs to see if anyone could help. The challenge was that Wikia needed pages to load almost instantly, as opposed to every few minutes or a few times an hour. When the season finale of True Blood  is occurring, users want their Wiki edits to update now.

But Bergman couldn’t find a provider that was as dynamic as he needed. So, he decided to build it himself. He had previously boosted Wikia’s page times in the U.K. by bringing in two servers and popping them into a rack at a data center in London. That made pages load a little more than five times faster. So, he decided to do the same thing in five other data centers and create his own business.

The company raised less than $2 million (he wouldn’t disclose specifics) in funding earlier this year from Battery Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Bergman launched the service in July. It now carries more than a billion HTTP requests a day for customers that include Instructables and Y Combinator startup Imgix, which bills itself as a CDN for images. But the big disruption here is economic. Bergman can create his CDN using dozens of machines that cost about $10,000. Compared to Akamai, which has tens of thousands of servers in thousands of locations, Fastly is both smaller in scale and in terms of the cost it takes to build out the service.

But Bergman believes his way is as fast as, if not faster than, traditional CDNs for hosting dynamic web content as well as being more transparent to the site owner. Bergman was careful to make a distinction between delivering short video clips such as YouTube content and HD-quality iTunes or Netflix streams, but he’s confident his CDN could deliver performance improvements for the former market and just hasn’t modeled out the latter. CDNs are almost a dime a dozen nowadays, with several services from established players and newer services such as Amazon’s CloudFront and offerings from ISPs to contend with. Fastly’s all-SSD effort is certainly unique though.

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Fastly: Building a CDN with less money and SSDs

Fastly, a startup created this year is turning the economics of delivering content on its head with a content delivery network comprised of solid state drives. By placing two servers packed with SSDs Artur Bergman, Fastly’s CEO, has managed to speed up the load times of his former employer Wikia, as well as a few other customers.

Bergman says that he first realized that he had a business model when he was VP of engineering and operations at Wikia, which provides wikis. The site was seeing its load times slow and it wanted to improve them, so it shopped around to major CDNs to see if anyone could help. The challenge was that Wikia needed pages to load almost instantly as opposed to every few minutes or a few times an hour. When the season finale of True Blood is occurring, users want their Wiki edits to update now.

But Bergman couldn’t find a provider that was as dynamic as he needed. So, he decided to build it himself. He had previously boosted Wikia’s page times in the UK by bring two servers and popping them in a rack at a data center in London. That made pages load a little more than five times faster. So, he decided to do the same thing in five other data centers and create his own business.

The company raised less than $2 million (he wouldn’t disclose specifics) in funding earlier this year from Battery Ventures and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Bergman launched the service in July. It now carries more than a billion HTTP requests a day for customers that include Instructables and Y Combinator startup Imgix, which bills itself as a CDN for images. But the big disruption here is economic. Bergman can create his CDN using dozens of machines that cost about $40,000. Compared to Akamai, which has tens of thousands of servers in thousands of locations, Fastly is both smaller in scale and in terms of the cost it takes to build out the service.

But Bergman believes his way is as fast if not faster for hosting dynamic web content as well as being more transparent to the site owner. Bergman was careful to make a distinction between delivering short video clips such as YouTube content and HD-quality iTunes or Netflix streams, but he’s confident his CDN could deliver performance improvements for the former market and just hasn’t modeled out the latter. CDNs are almost a dime a dozen nowadays with several services from established players and newer services such as Amazon’s CloudFront and offerings from ISPs to contend with. Fastly’s all-SSD effort is certainly unique though.

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Hipchat Adds Custom Emoticons… For A Price

Screen Shot 2011-10-07 at 11.36.51 AM

Hipchat, the group chat service we use internally, has just added DIY emoticons – with a catch. If you’re not familiar with them, Hipchat’s emoticons are quite fun. They have most of the major memes as well as famous faces (try (arrington)). Now, however, you can add your own famous faces. Our favorites are (jobs) and (gates) as well as (yuno) and (lol). Try them.

In a clever bit of viral marketing, the site allows you to refer friends and you get four emoticons for each paid referral. We were able to get a few so far, adding Matt Burns and myself to the pantheon of 25 pixel by 25 pixel icons available to us during our daily bull sessions.

The emoticons are only visible for your group, so there is little if any duplication.

Hipchat was co-founded by Pete Curley and most recently added iPad and iPhone apps in an effort to beat competitors like Campfire.


  • HIPCHAT

HipChat is a private instant messaging network for companies, teams, and organizations.

Features include: chat rooms, file sharing, and searchable chat history.

Learn more

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