Archive for April 13, 2012

Boobstagram Wants Women To Instagram Their Breasts To Fight Breast Cancer

boobstagram

Boobstagram Screengrab

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Two French men have created Boobstagram, a website that collects Instagrams of women’s breasts as a part of the “fight against breast cancer.

(They also subscribe to Playboy for the articles.)

Making use of the backlogs of lingerie pics on Instagram, Boobstagram has compiled 54 pages of images and uses the tagline (translated from French) “Showing breasts on the web is good, show[ing] them to a doctor is better.” There are currently 24,322 pictures tagged #boobstagram on Instagram.

The site’s “About” section gives statistics about the prevalence of breast cancer and explains, “We can not all be surgeons or oncologists. But we can all take our share of prevention, for ourselves, for our loved ones and others. But how? How to be heard in the public sphere saturated with messages? How to avoid the pitfall of moralism?

Unfortunately for Boobstagram’s fighting cancer platform, the only picture that might help breast cancer detection is a mammogram.

Boobstagram’s Facebook page has almost 5,000 likes and features the “boob of the day,” and comments include “Now this would be worth a billion dollars, Mark!

Meet TempoDB, a database startup with an eye for time

TempoDB, a startup out of Chicago, has built a database-as-a-service offering specifically for time-series data. CEO and co-founder Andrew Cronk presented at the TechStars Cloud demo day earlier this week, and laid out the need for a specialty database for data that comes from thermostats, sensor networks, networking gear and other machines that spit out both values and times. But does the world (or the Internet of Things) need a specialty time-series database?

Customers using TempoDB surely say yes. One company, a startup making a connected thermostat, throws off 20 pieces of data per second. The company, InThrMa, used to only be able to store its data for 30 days in its MySQL database before tossing it. Putting it into Hadoop wasn’t really an option because the records need to be stored and read in the same order they come in (although the TemboDB service is built on open source tools including Hadoop and Hbase.) In addition to the storage, though, TempoDB adds analytics. “We’re basically an API call to your data,” says Cronk.

TempoDB in action.

Cronk and his two other co-founders build TempoDB to serve the needs of the nascent sensor market, the oil-and-gas industry and any other industry that might care about measuring data confined by when the data was collected. Cronk said the solar panel market likes the technology because they can track efficiency and performance of individual cells and write algorithms that can help optimize energy generation. Outside of smart grid and energy, e-commerce might use this or even the insurance industry as it attempts to track drivers’ habits in real-time.

But an issue for TempoDB, which like Google’s Big Query or 1010data, offers its database as a service, may be the type of data involved and a customers’ willingness to send it to a cloud, even one hosted by TempoDB. For example, sensor data in oil and gas that can help detect new oil reserves would be highly sensitive and not something easily trusted to a startup or a cloud. Auto insurers might have the same qualms. Cronk said so far he’s steering customers with those concerns to the idea of storing it in a private cloud, since building a software solution is very different business than the services business he’s built the company for.

“Right now the people we’re talking to want to measure this data, so we are focused on a solution,” Cronk said. “They don’t want us to ask them to download this stuff, build out a Hadoop cluster and figure out how to run queries against it.”

Another issue is the potential for an open source competitors to emerge. Cronk says he has no plans to open source the software and says that the closest open source competition is a project called OpenTSDB that arose out of StumbleUpon for measuring server log data every minutes. He says it’s not nearly as robust as TempoDB’s product. There are also potential competitors such as SpaceCurve or Space-Time Insight, databases for measuring location and time, but their solutions are built for more complicated data.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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Urbantag is like Pinterest for real-world places

A year or so ago, I took a trip to Austin, Texas, for the first time. Before I jumped on a plane, I asked for bar and restaurant recommendations from a friend of mine who had spent a few years living there. What I received in response was a 1,200-word exegesis of this person’s favorite culinary picks from around town, complete with Yelp links to each of the locations and a short description of each.

When it came to go to any of those places or do any of those things, I’d have to open the Yelp link, find the place on a map and then chart my journey to and from and try to figure out where else I wanted to go while I was out. It wasn’t very intuitive. But, silly boy that I am, when a friend of mine asked me about places to hang out in Austin when he moved there, I sent the same goddamn list, with my own additions and annotations. And he has since passed it on to his friends who have been visiting.

I refer to this anecdote because, in the year or so since I had this experience, not much has changed. The way we provide location-based recommendations to friends and the way that they parse those recommendation is still a not very pretty process.

Which is why Urbantag is worth a look. The app allows you to curate and build lists of your favorite, and then share them with friends, either online or on your iPhone. They can then create their own lists or provide input to your own, giving recommendations for where to go or where not to go. It’s kind of like Pinterest, but for real-world places.

Take, for instance, this awesome list of beer spots — in San Francisco and beyond. In Urbantag, all of the places are located on a map, and the tips and photos provided give you a good idea of what they’re getting into before they go. There’s no fussing around bouncing from Yelp link to Yelp link to decide on a place.

More importantly, there’s a community aspect to the app, allowing people to follow each other’s lists and discover new recommendations from other people in the network. Urbantag is trying to build an editorially curated group of “tastemakers” who provide recommendations in a number of categories like food and fashion in major cities. But if you’re more interested in your own social circle, you can also connect with Facebook and Twitter to see your friends’ list of where to go — or where not to go.

Of course, there are other apps, like Foursquare, which help you keep track of where you’ve gone. Foursquare also lets users create lists and make notes and provide recommendations, but it’s not the primary use case (and in my experience, very few people actually use those tools). And it’s getting more into the social discovery game, with the ‘Explore’ tab to help recommend new places to users. That’s helpful, but if you just want to start creating and sharing lists with friends, Urbantag is probably the better way to do it.

Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now

The art of type design is for a special breed of designer. The insane attention to detail required to create typefaces is enough to drive the average person crazy, as every subtle curve and rule matters.

If you’re a novice to the world of typography, you’ll most likely be familiar with text type, or fonts created to be legible and readable at small sizes. Display typefaces, on the other hand, are less about legibility (though it is still important), and more about personality, character and distinctiveness.

Both styes are incredibly useful for designers, serving a unique purpose for every project. With this in mind, here’s a list of 17 free display and text typefaces you can download right now:

1. Valentina

15 520x196 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowThis one literally blew me away when I first saw it: “Valentina typeface is a sincere tribute to my grandmother in the form of typography and therefore bears her name. Valentina is a classic didone that follows some of the canons proposed by Bodoni in the eighteenth century but incorporates many of the characteristics of the antique Spanish punches of the time. It is a complete font of 457 glyphs, in which there are 125 alternative lower cases or the 46 ligatures.”

➤ Valentina

2. Sullivan

22 520x222 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowNot your traditional modular typeface, Sullivan is a bold display face that comes in three variations. Each can be used effectively on their own or layered for a uniquely modern, industrial effect.

➤ Sullivan

3. Nagasaki

31 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowInspired by the ’57 poster “Hiroshima” designed by Wim Crowell, Nagasaki is a very intense, bold and condensed face. It’s particularly legible in short words and phrases.

➤ Nagasakivia WDD

4. FV Almelo

41 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now“This is an all caps condensed rounded free font ideal for logo design, packaging, headline or editorial design. The capitals are the standard glyphs, if a character has an alternative you’ll find it using lower case. Because of its nod to the past I named it Almelo, city where I was born.”

➤ FV Almelo

5. Sablon

5 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowSablon is a handmade EPS font “based on din-bold outlines using the add and subtract circles around the edges.” It’s distinct, with a high-fashion feel.

➤ Sablonvia WDD

6. Edding 850

6 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowEdding 850 is a free modular font built by the famous Büro Destruct design studio. As the font evolved, it was broken down to its simplest form, based only on the thick and thin strokes, which created a modular system that could be assembled digitally. Read our full review here.

➤ Edding 850

 7. Average

7 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowSurprisingly legible, Average was created in a very mechanical and scientific process. From the creator:  ”Average is a typeface that emerged from a long process of research into text typeface families from various different historical periods, both classical and contemprary. The idea was to design an average font for use in text, through a lengthy process of shape measurement and data gathering in spreadsheets. Once the parameters were defined and best values were selected, the forms for the Average Regular typeface were drawn.”

Averagevia WDD

8. Static

8 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now“Static is contemporary free font constructed with strong geometric forms in monospaced style. Applicable for any type of graphic design – web, print, motion graphics etc and perfect for t-shirts and other items like posters, logos.”

➤ Static

9. Bobber

9 520x212 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowFrom the creator: “I always liked to draw some typefaces and this is my first slab serif. It’s grid based and it’s called Bobber because it’s vintage style. If you like it and want to use it, just give me a heads up. It is totally free, even for commercial use.”

➤ Bobbervia WDD

10. Archive

10 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowArchive is a free contemporary font “constructed with strong geometric forms. Applicable for any type of graphic design – web, print, motion graphics etc and perfect for t-shirts and other items like posters, logos.”

➤ Archive

11. Handwritten Fonts by Kevin Amanda

111 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowKevin Amanda turn submitted samples into fonts, which yield a very authentic look. This style won’t work for most projects, but if you’re ever in need of that handwritten look, this site is basically a never-ending supply.

➤ Handwritten Fonts by Kevin Amanda

12. Frontage Outline

121 520x343 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now“Frontage is a charming layered type system with endless design possibilities using different combinations of fonts and colors. Achieve a realistic 3D effect by adding the shadow font or just use the capital letters of the regular and bold cut for stark artwork.”

Note: only Frontage Outline is free.

➤ Frontage Outline

13. Silverfake

131 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now“Silverfake is a new contemporary slab serif wide free font designed Alexey Frolov a.k.a MRfrukta. He brings us some unique ‘old style’ feeling which is presented in contemporary curves that make the font applicable for both – retro and modern designs.”

➤ Silverfakevia WDD

14. (15, 16) Free fonts from House Industries

14 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now15 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now16 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right nowHouse Industries is giving away 3 fonts: House Slant, United Stencil and Spaceage Round. All are excellent in their own right, and are definitely worth a peak for any type obsessed designer. Read our full review here.

➤ Slant, United Stencil Spaceage Round

17. Oil Can

17 17 Free display and text typefaces you should download right now“Remember when service meant something? This font is inspired by those early day service stations.”

It’s quite quirky, but comes together nicely.

Oil Can

Microsoft Launches A Whole New Company To Deal With Open Source (MSFT)

Microsoft Jean Paoli

Flickr/Kevin Shockey

Jean Paoli is the president of Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc

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Microsoft has spun off a subsidiary just to deal with its work on open source software and standards.

The new company is called Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc., and it will be run by Microsoft’s long-term open source advocate, Jean Paoli. The group will manage all the work that Microsoft does with standards bodies as well as the contributions Microsoft makes to open source projects.

Microsoft has had a stormy relationship with open source developers over the years — embracing open source in some ways and antagonizing its proponents in others.

The issue is open source licenses, which govern how the code can be used.

Some of them require that any code contributed to a project remain open source. And while that sounds fair, it gets crazy tricky for a company that owns so much proprietary software. Microsoft wants and needs some of its software to work with big open source projects, but it doesn’t necessarily want to give its software away to that open source community and never charge for that software again.

Legally separating Microsoft’s growing work with open source projects might be the reason for this new company.

Over the years, Microsoft has supported a lot of open source projects. Today, it contributes to a number of big ones including Hadoop, MongoDB, Drupal, Joomla and others. 

It also contributes to Linux, mostly making its Hyper-V virtualization technology work with Linux. This helps it sell more Microsoft’s Windows Server 2008 R2 licenses because servers can use that operating system and run Linux on a virtual machine.

Still, Microsoft isn’t 100% in love with open source projects that it competes with. It’s been a predator with Android, threatening device makers that use Android with patent infringement lawsuits if they don’t pay Microsoft royalties on all their Android devices.

So this new company may also help Microsoft separate its good work with standards and open source versus its legal fights, too.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has spun out open source resources into a separate organization. A couple years ago, Microsoft started its own open source foundation, the OuterCurve Foundation (formerly CodePlex). OuterCurve includes a few other companies — including Red Hat — but is still mostly Microsoft’s baby. Over time OuterCurve’s mission has slowly changed from managing all of Microsoft’s open source projects to helping Microsoft’s developer partners work with open source software.

So now Microsoft has two legally separate entities dealing with open source.

Microsoft could not be reached for comment.

Nokia Lumia 900 Vs. iPhone: Guess Who Wins? (NOK, MSFT, AAPL)

nokia lumia 900 and iphone

Steve Kovach, Business Insider

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There were high hopes for Nokia’s Lumia 900, the device that’s supposed to finally prove Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 has legs.

But reviews are just so-so. A lot of people love the Lumia 900. A lot of people hate it.

So how does it stand up to the iPhone, the number one smartphone on the planet? Keep reading to find out.

This week at Microsoft: Bing, Windows 8, and Open Source

TNW loves it some Microsoft, and while Apple has kept itself from the news, and Google has mired in it, Redmond has been chugging right along in the last few days. The company, however, is in that awkward moment between major releases, as it readies the release candidate (RC) of Windows 8, works on wrapping Office 15 (shipping early 2013), and preps the next round of Windows Phone software.

That in mind, the next big thing to drop should be the Windows 8 RC, but more on that in a moment. Today, as it is a lovely Friday, we are going to meander back through the last week’s Microsoft news to make sure that you know exactly what is up.

Now, we can’t fit it all into this post, so hit the archives for a full dose. Ensure that you are following TNW Microsoft on both Twitter, and Facebook, and let’s get into the news.

Bing Goes Paid

No, not the search product itself, but its API will soon cost some dough for developers to use. However, Microsoft is being quite smart about this shift. Instead of just slapping a paywall on its API, the company is fusing it into its Azure line.

Yes, Bing API’s will be offered in the Windows Azure Marketplace. This matters for two reasons. First, it helps seed the Azure market. Bing has some users that will convert over to the paid APIs as they depend on the product. This will boost the Azure store, and perhaps even bring Azure proper more customers in the long run. Secondly, what momentum Azure has may now help Bing. By bringing Bing into the Azure market, it could become the defacto search product of choice for those who use Microsoft’s cloud system.

And that would be great for Bing, a Microsoft division that could use a revenue arm-shot. As I said earlier, I think that this is ‘an effective cross-seeding between two huge investments.’ Prices will start at $40 per month for 20,000 queries.

Windows 8: RC A’ Comin’

Leaked slides have a way of making things quite open, if you get me. Here’s the gist: a confidential slide from the end of 2011 showed that Internet Explorer 10 is set to wrap up and hit the market in the middle of 2012. Nothing surprising about that.

However, I’ve long thought that IE10 and the Windows 8 RC were going to launch into the market as a unit, or at least in a very narrow time frame. Why? If Windows 8 is put out as an RC, but not a final version of IE10, chances are the browser product would remain buggy.

And therefore, testers might fault Windows 8 for IE10′s bugs. This means the Windows 8 could suffer. Therefore, Windows 8 can’t RC until IE10 has its druthers straight. And if IE10 is coming out in the middle of this year, just when we thought that the RC of Windows 8 is due, well, we think we can read those tea leaves.

Microsoft and Open Source

This one is straight out of the Twilight Zone (this one, you fool, not this one). From our own Drew Olanoff:

Microsoft is stepping up its game when it comes to involvement in open-source initiatives. The company has announced a new subsidiary called “Microsoft Open Technologies Inc.”, which will handle open-source products and standards projects for the company.

While Microsoft hasn’t always had the best relationship with the open-source community, it has taken steps to involve itself more and to build a stronger developer ecosystem around its products. Since this new venture is an entirely separate company, it will have its own board of directors and will be able to work independently from Microsoft’s money-making efforts.

I’ll give you time to clear the coffee you just spit all over your monitor. This is hard to believe. Yes, Microsoft has been investing into open source projects, such as Hadoop, but it has always done so when there has been a very clear reason to do so. With Hadoop, it had to support the tech, or it would have fallen grossly behind. I’m not trying to sound cynical; Microsoft is a business, and should, and does, behave like one.

But now it has a brand new, independent (to a point) venture into open source. Woah. Start to process this one. As the subsidiary gets into gear, we’ll bring you more.

Lumia Roundup

Roundup in your roundup. Hit the button. Here’s the big Lumia stories from the week:

  • Nokia’s big ad spend on Lumia also covers this funny Russian viral video [link]
  • Nokia sold 2 million+ Lumia devices in Q1 2012, lowers outlook in light of ‘disappointing’ results [link]
  • Nokia Lumia 610 NFC becomes official with Orange, will launch with Visa and Mastercard NFC support in Q3 [link]
  • Nokia jumps the gun, unveils its first NFC Windows Phone handset: The Lumia 610 NFC [link]
  • Nokia acknowledges Lumia 900 issue, plans software update and $100 discount [link]
  • About face: ATT Lumia 900 launch budget not $150 million after all [link]
  • Report shows that Nokia leads smartphone sales in the Middle East [link]

Alright, that’s enough of all that. When the time comes, make a delicious, and proper, scotch.

Why Facebook Terrifies Google

google-facebook-ad-chart.gifAll that profile information you’ve filled out over the years on Facebook? That’s not just there for your friends and colleagues to see, or for self-expression. Facebook is also able to use much of it to target the advertising you see on Facebook. (And, eventually, potentially all over the Web, the way Google does.)

The easiest way to see how powerful this is would be to take a quick spin through Facebook’s ad-creation tool. It’s remarkably simple and straightforward. Just figure out what your ad is for and give it a title, some body text and an image.

And then you’ll get to the magic: Facebook’s targeting page. Here, you can narrow your ad’s target by an incredible basket of options. Location, age, gender, precise interests (as volunteered!), Facebook connections, sexual orientation, relationship status, languages, education and specific workplaces.

So if you want to reach the 100 people on Facebook who live in California, are between 18 and 36 years old, like “space” and work at Apple or Google, you can. Amazing.

Here’s what it looks like:

facebook-targeting.gif

Google’s search advertising product, on the other hand, only offers a fraction of this targeting. You can target by location, languages and devices. But it mostly comes down to keywords: What are people searching for or looking at?

google-search-keywords.gif

That’s useful information, for sure, especially when you’re selling something. But it would be nicer to also be able to target much deeper, the way you can on Facebook.

That’s why Facebook, even though its business is much smaller than Google’s today, represents such a threat to Google. It’s only a matter of time until Facebook expands its advertising scale by opening the equivalent of “AdSense” – self-service ads for any site, using Facebook’s superior targeting capabilities. That actually goes directly after Google’s core business; that could hurt.

In the meantime, Facebook has a huge and growing set of data about its users that Google just doesn’t. Heck, many (most?) of Google’s search users aren’t even really “users” at all – they’re not logged in, they don’t volunteer any personal information, etc.

And that’s why Google+ is such a crucial project for Google – to get people logged in, sharing their information and interests with Google – not because Google suddenly wants to be social for the fun of it, but because it’s crucial to catch up in ad targeting before Facebook becomes even more of a threat.

Also: Facebook’s Real Mobile Question, Post-Instagram: Can It Challenge Apple and Google?

Forget Med School

shutterstock_startupdoctor.jpg

Late last year, Mark Cuban (self-made billionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks) wrote that entrepreneurs should ignore what their customers want. This may sound shocking, but it’s nothing new. In fact, it’s practically common knowledge for start-up companies; many entrepreneurs (including Steve Jobs) consider it one of the “best practices” of developing a product.

In Cuban’s words, “Entrepreneurs need to be reminded that it’s not the job of their customers to know what they don’t. In other words, your customers have a tough enough time doing their jobs. They don’t spend time trying to reinvent their industries or how their jobs are performed.” While it’s important to stay in touch with a customer base, we shouldn’t ask customers to solve a problem that they expect us to solve. This scenario can be called the “Doctor’s Dilemma.” Many startups would benefit from tackling their product feedback with the Doctor’s Dilemma in mind.

Making News Useful

The Problems

“We need to rethink every facet of the journalism model,” said Richard Gingras, VP of News at Google, to start off the event. “I’m not saying everything must change,” he clarified, but news providers need to find new ways to understand how their job should be done.

The newspaper is a sticky idea. It worked for a long time. But because we love it so much, we’ve wound up with a model for news websites that sticks to the idea of “front page news.” The few hits of the day are visible, and then the content drops into an archive.

The news audience is evolving faster than news providers, though. Gingras told us that, only a few years ago, 50% of the inbound audience went to the front page, and the other 50% went straight to stories or other pages. By now, 75% of traffic is going to stories. A minority of visitors ever see a site’s front-page curated presentation of the news.

But the problems go deeper than just presentation. News is a commodity now. It spreads virally across many media through new tellings and retellings. The Web is finally real-time. It doesn’t happen in instants and static pages. It happens constantly. News organizations no longer get to control the story. They have to do more than inform to stay relevant. News sites have to be useful.

The Solutions

To be useful, news sites need to be information tools, not just sources. Journalists are the people with the time and skills to gather all the needed information into one place and filter out the rest. Data, machine-readable information, has to become human-readable somehow. But the value of information is not just in the knowledge of it; it’s in what you can do with it.

Site designs need a do-over to work the way audiences want them to. News organizations need to think of their sites as products needing constant innovation. We can build software around public data sets or data gathered through investigation. Instead of just telling readers how to interpret the data, news organizations can give them the tools to look at it, figure it out and use it.

News isn’t just about information. It’s also storytelling. Anyone can publish text, photos or even video to the Web now. But technology enables new, compelling storytelling techniques that could shine in the hands of dedicated news organizations. For example, Nonny de la Peña taught us her notion of immersive journalism, using video or virtual reality to show customers what it was like to be there for an event in the news.

High technology has shaken up journalism, but it offers the industry promising ways to relearn its craft. The most important opportunity we have is to get to know our audiences better. Getting to know you will help us inform you and build things that you need.

Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock

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