Day: May 25, 2011
A Silicon Valley investment fund seeking startups founded by designers hopes to spawn a new breed of tech companies.
Credit: 500 Startups
Facebook, Google, Apple: all companies that were started by hackers of one kind or another, grew fast, and changed the world. It’s a model that still motivates computer scientists and engineers who bet everything on their own tech startups. But the next company to join that list of successes may be founded by a designer, not a hacker, if the backers of a new Silicon Valley investment fund are right. The Designer Fund will focus on companies led by Web and product designers rather than solely engineers, in hopes of creating more tech startups that specialize in compelling user experiences.
The fund is being put together by 500 Startups, a company that acts as an incubator for early-stage tech companies, trading seed funding and mentoring for a stake in a venture.
Starting tomorrow, recommendations from your Facebook friends will become a regular part of Web search results, at least if you use Microsoft’s Bing search engine. A slew of new Bing features will use Facebook data to make its results more personalized, and to create opportunities to discuss what you are searching for with friends.
“All the stuff we’ve deployed previously for Web search doesn’t acknowledge the human, social side of our users,” says Stefan Weitz, director of Bing search. “We were looking at it like engineers, and built a purely logic-based experience,” Weitz says. Web search should support people’s instincts to consult and discuss things with other people. A survey of Bing users found that 90 percent would talk with a friend before they acted on any information they found when searching online for product information, he says.
The new features will push Bing ahead of Google in the race to make search more social. Last month, Google launched +1, its own close analogue of the Like button, with the intention of using it to shape search results. However, +1 is off to a slow start, because it is not hitched to a large social network, giving users little motivation to use it.
Bing’s new features primarily use data that comes from the clicks on Facebook’s Like buttons. These buttons appear on sites across the Web. The Like button started as a low-cost way to communicate recommendations with friends online, but in recent years, it’s been adapted by Facebook to drive the ambitious “open graph” project, whose goal is tointertwine Facebook‘s network of connections with the Web.
President Obama recently held a town hall meeting on the economy at Facebook’s headquarters
In Paris for the next couple of days, the world’s most powerful leaders meet for a summit. No, not the G8 – Obama, Sarkozy, Cameron et al meet in Deauville later.
I’m talking about the e-G8, which has assembled a stellar cast list to discuss how the internet can contribute to economic growth.
Along with the likes of Google’s Eric Schmidt and News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch will be the man who’s arguably more powerful than any of them, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Just seven years ago he was a geeky student at Harvard with a vision of a new way of connecting people on the internet.
Now he has the ear of prime ministers and presidents, who understand and perhaps fear the power of the social network where more than 600 million share their lives.
So what made Facebook what it is today – and was its rise inevitable? How did Mark Zuckerberg – described by a colleague as “the man from the future” – steer the company through repeated crises?
Twitter’s new European boss has suggested that users who break privacy injunctions by posting on the site could face the UK courts.
Tony Wang said people who did “bad things” needed to defend themselves.
He warned that the site would hand over user information to the authorities where they were “legally required”.
Lawyers are challenging Twitter in court to reveal the identities of Twitter users who violated a super-injunction.
MP John Hemming named Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs in Parliament on Monday as the footballer who had used a super-injunction to hide an alleged affair, after Mr Giggs’ name had been widely aired on Twitter.
Responding to a question from BBC News at the e-G8 forum in Paris, Mr Wang said: “Platforms have a responsibility, not to defend that user but to protect that user’s right to defend him or herself”.
He declined to comment on the case directly but explained that in general, when dealing with cases of illegal activity, Twitter would comply with local laws to turn over user details.
He stressed that the site would also notify those individuals of any such request.
Mr Wang made it clear that if the matter came to court, those people would be on their own.
He said Twitter would, “let them exercise their own legal rights under their own jurisdiction, whether that is a motion to quash the order or to oppose it or do a number of other things to defend themselves.”
The subject of legal jurisdictions and the internet has been hotly debated at the first e-G8 summit.
Technology industry leaders including Google’s Eric Schmidt and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg were among the speakers at the event.
While many attendees felt that there was a need for further discussion, among delegates from the United States, there was little sympathy for the British legal position.
“I do view it to being similar to the Chinese situation where they also cover up misdeeds of high ranking people,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales told the BBC.
He said that, although the internet was a global phenomenon, it was unlikely to pander to those countries with stricter rules.
“The US is going to be absolutely inflexible on this point. It is in the constitution,” he said, referring to freedom of speech provisions.
“I think that puts intergovernmental communication and co-operation on this issue into a different light, which is, there’s not a whole lot to co-operate on.”
After years of research, Microsoft hopes to provide a system that lets data communications weave through TV frequencies.
The first “white spaces” devices, which thread long-range wireless data signals through gaps in TV spectrum, will start to appear later this year. Microsoft is bidding to play a central role in how they operate.
The coming devices are expected to include home routers to bring Internet to the home and even mobile devices such as phones or tablets. To avoid interfering with TV broadcasts, they will check with a government-appoved online database to learn of available white spaces between channels in their area. Microsoft has applied to the FCC to become an approved administrator of such a system, built using technology developed by its research wing, dubbed SenseLess. This would give the company an influential stake in the world’s first attempt to find a new way to free up the airwaves—an approach that is likely to be adopted worldwide. Google and eight other companies have already been granted permission to operate white spaces databases, but they have revealed little of their technology.
Microsoft’s system was recently demonstrated in Las Vegas, where it enabled an Xbox games console to get online using a prototype white spaces device made by startupAdaptrum.
TV spectrum signals have a longer wavelength than Wi-Fi or cellular signals, which means TV spectrum can support longer-range data connections. Microsoft’s trial white spaces network, on its Redmond, Washington, campus, can provide high-speed Internet at a range of over a mile.
To use the system, a device first supplies its location to the database, using a frequency that is known to be permanently free in that area. The system then tells the device which other chunks of spectrum are available to use at that time. SenseLess combines knowledge of every licensed TV signal in the U.S. with detailed topographic maps and models to determine how signals dissipate over distance and terrain.
Development of SenseLess has been led by Microsoft researcher Ranveer Chandra with colleagues Thomas Moscibroda and Victor Bahl. Another collaborator, Rohan Murty of Harvard University, drove 1500 miles around Washington state to gather data that tested SenseLess’s predictions against the real world. “We had zero false positives,” says Chandra. “Never did we say that a channel was free but was actually occupied.”
Trials of SenseLess have also shown that devices do not need to have a very accurate location fix, says Chandra—good news, because many white spaces devices will need to work indoors, where GPS is less accurate. “With the right models, a device can be only accurate to within 0.6 miles and lose access to less than 2 percent of spectrum,” says Chandra. A description of the SenseLess system was presented at the the IEEE Dynamic Spectrum Access Networks conference in Aachen, Germany, earlier this month. It was one of three papers chosen to be fast-tracked for publication.
Scientists have found a way to store, encrypt and retrieve complex data in the DNA of E. coli.
- A group of students at Hong Kong’s Chinese University have developed a way to store complex information in bacteria.
- This opens up a way to saving text, images, music, and even video within living cells.
- One gram of bacteria could store the same amount of information as 450 2,000-gigabyte hard disks.
A group of students at Hong Kong’s Chinese University are making strides towards storing such vast amounts of information in an unexpected home: the E. coli bacterium better known as a potential source of serious food poisoning.
“This means you will be able to keep large datasets for the long term in a box of bacteria in the refrigerator,” said Aldrin Yim, a student instructor on the university’s biostorage project, a 2010 gold medallist in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology prestigious iGEMcompetition.
Biostorage — the art of storing and encrypting information in living organisms — is a young field, having existed for about a decade.
In 2007, a team at Japan’s Keio University said they had successfully encoded the equation that represents Einstein’s theory of relativity, E=MC², in the DNA of a common soil bacterium.
They pointed out that because bacteria constantly reproduce, a group of the single-celled organisms could store a piece of information for thousands of years.
But the Hong Kong researchers have leaped beyond this early step, developing methods to store more complex data and starting to overcome practical problems which have lent weight to skeptics who see the method as science fiction.
The group has developed a method of compressing data, splitting it into chunks and distributing it between different bacterial cells, which helps to overcome limits on storage capacity. They are also able to “map” the DNA so information can be easily located.
This opens up the way to storing not only text, but images, music, and even video within cells.
As a storage method it is extremely compact — because each cell is minuscule, the group says that one gram of bacteria could store the same amount of information as 450 2,000-gigabyte hard disks.
They have also developed a three-tier security fence to encode the data, which may come as welcome news to U.S. diplomats, who have seen their thoughts splashed over the Internet thanks to WikiLeaks.
“Bacteria can’t be hacked,” points out Allen Yu, another student instructor.
“All kinds of computers are vulnerable to electrical failures or data theft. But bacteria are immune from cyber attacks. You can safeguard the information.”
The team have even coined a word for this field — biocryptography — and the encoding mechanism contains built-in checks to ensure that mutations in some bacterial cells do not corrupt the data as a whole.
Professor Chan Ting Fung, who supervised the student team, told AFP that practical work in the field — fostered by MIT, who have helped develop standards enabling researchers to collaborate — was in its early stages.
But he said: “What the students did was to try it out and make sure some of the fundamental principles are actually achievable.”
The Hong Kong group’s work may have a more immediate application.
The techniques they use — removing DNA from bacterial cells, manipulating them using enzymes and returning them to a new cell — are similar to those used to create genetically modified foods.
But rather than changing the building blocks of an organism, the Hong Kong group allows extra information to piggyback on the DNA of the cell, after checking their changes against a master database to make sure they do not have accidental toxic effects.
Their work could enable extra information to be added to a genetically modified crop in the form of a “bio barcode”, Chan said.
“For example, a company that makes a GM tomato that grows extra large with a gene that promotes growth — on top of that we can actually encode additional information like safety protocols, things that are not directly related to the biological system.”
Other types of information, like copyright and design history, could help to monitor the spread of GM crops, he said.
“It’s kind of a safety net for synthetic organisms,” said Wong Kit Ying, from the student team.
Beyond this, Chan and the students are evangelical about the future possibilities of synthetic biology.
“The field is getting popular because of the energy crisis, environmental pollution, climate change. They are thinking that a biological system will be a future solution to those — as alternative energy sources, as a remedy for pollution. For these, micro-organisms are the obvious choice,” Chan said.
One type of bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans, can even survive nuclear radiation.
“Bacteria are everywhere: they can survive on things that are unthinkable to humans. So we can make use of this,” Chan said.
So is it possible that a home computer could one day consist of a dish filled with micro-organisms?
The group dismisses concerns that this could be dangerous, pointing out that despite E. coli‘s poor reputation, they use an altered form that cannot exist outside a rich synthetic medium.
In fact, says Chan, while safety rules are strict, more measures are taken to protect the bacteria from contamination than to protect the researchers from the bacteria.
However, Yim admitted that while the group’s work is a “foundational advance”, a Petri dish PC is not likely to be on the market in the coming years, not least because the method of retrieving the data requires experts in a laboratory.
“It’s possible,” he said, “but there’s a long way to go.”
“Cigar is my fren, and Internet is my Girl Fren”_bijay_deadbj
I am Mentally Ill and that is why I am creative. “Creative people, like those with psychotic illnesses, tend to see the world differently to most. It’s like looking at a shattered mirror. They see the world in a fractured way” My thought processes are like a shattered mirror. Fragments and shards everywhere! My mind moves so quickly that I couldn’t keep up with my own thoughts. I still find comfort when I’m producing something artistic and my strengths as an individual have always been in the arts i.e.(Designing Pics,Designing Blogs and Imagination.) Mathematics I have always looked upon with horror! My mind simply cannot compute a logic behind it. Once again, I cannot live inside the normal box. I am different from my Family, frens, and this world. So I got the name Psycho.[bijay_deadbj]
‘I woke up one day and I
realized that the race that
I’d been running has already
finished and I’ve been left
far behind. Now, I have a
long way to go. I ran but
the path blurs and the poor
world spins madly.
I am now defeated, I am now
lost somwhere in hell. Now,
I AM A SHADOW MAN.
My aim is too big and that
my arms are too short to
Hi, my name is Bijay_deadbj. I am software engineering student. And I work as a blogger nxt to my study. I am working on these blogs, totally all creations by me. HOPE YOU LIKED IT TOO.
YouTube is celebrating its sixth birthday this month, and theGoogle subsidiary is doing it partly by sharing some big numbers that underscore its overwhelming dominance in the online video streaming space.
YouTube says global daily views have gone up 50 percent in the past 12 months, which means they currently handle a whopping 3 billion views per day.
To put that in some perspective: comScore said last week that the total U.S. Internet audience engaged in roughly 5.1 billion viewing sessions for the entire month of April 2011 (which also tells you something about YouTube’s global appeal).
Or as the company puts it in the announcement blog post:
“That’s the equivalent of nearly half the world’s population watching a YouTube video each day, or every U.S. resident watching at least nine videos a day.”
Also worth noting: YouTube says it has exceeded over 48 hours of video uploaded to the siteevery single minute (which, they add, represents a 100 percent increase year over year).
According to comScore’s Video Metrix, YouTube ranked as the top online video content property in April (U.S. only) with 142.7 million unique viewers, followed by VEVO with 55.2 million viewers, Yahoo Sites with 53.2 million viewers and Facebook with 46.7 million viewers.
Facebook secretly hired a PR firm to plant negative stories about Google, says Dan Lyons in a jaw dropping story at the Daily Beast.
For the past few days, a mystery has been unfolding in Silicon Valley. Somebody, it seems, hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers, urging them to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy. Burson even offered to help an influential blogger write a Google-bashing op-ed, which it promised it could place in outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, and The Huffington Post.
The plot backfired when the blogger turned down Burson’s offer and posted the emails that Burson had sent him. It got worse when USA Today broke a story accusing Burson of spreading a “whisper campaign” about Google “on behalf of an unnamed client.”
The source emails are here.
I’ve been patient with Facebook over the years as they’ve had their privacy stumbles. They’re forging new ground, and it’s not an exaggeration to say they’re changing the world’s notions on what privacy is. Give them time. They’ll figure it out eventually.
But secretly paying a PR firm to pitch bloggers on stories going after Google, even offering to help write those stories and then get them published elsewhere, is not just offensive, dishonest and cowardly. It’s also really, really dumb. I have no idea how the Facebook PR team thought that they’d avoid being caught doing this.
First, it lets the tech world know that Facebook is scared enough of what Google’s up to to pull a stunt like this. Facebook isn’t supposed to be scared, ever, about anything. Supreme confidence in their destiny is the the way they should be acting.
Second, it shows a willingness by Facebook to engage in cowardly behavior in battle. It’s hard to trust them on other things when we know they’ll engage in these types of campaigns.
And third, some of these criticisms of Google are probably valid, but it doesn’t matter any more. The story from now on will only be about how Facebook went about trying to secretly smear Google, and got caught.
The truth is Google is probably engaging in some somewhat borderline behavior by scraping Facebook content, and are almost certainly violating Facebook’s terms and conditions. But many people argue, me included, that the key data, the social graph, really should belong to the users, not Facebook. And regardless, users probably don’t mind that this is happening at all. It’s just Facebook trying to protect something that it considers to be its property.
Next time Facebook should take a page from Google’s playbook when they want to trash a competitor. Catch them in the act and then go toe to toe with them, slugging it out in person. Right or wrong, no one called Google a coward when they duped Bing earlier this year.
You’ve lost much face today, Facebook.
- Sleazy PR Firm Throws Scummy Facebook Under The Sordid Bus
- Facebook, You’re Going To Need A Better Answer For Your Slimeball Stunt
|Location:||Palo Alto, California, United States|
|Founded:||February 1, 2004|
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with over 500 million users.
Facebook was founded by… Learn More
IT security powerhouse Check Point is on a mission to make the management of security products unified and simplified, and nowhere has that message been more clear than at its annual conference in Barcelona, where some 1,100 attendees – and Help Net Security among them – had the opportunity to see and hear everything they wanted to know about the company.
Established eighteen years ago, the company has made history with its first product – simply named FireWall-1 – which was the first commercially available software firewall to use stateful inspection.
Because of this, they were – and are – known as “The Firewall Company”, but after it executed a number of acquisitions (ZoneLabs and the Nokia Security Appliances division – among others) that allowed it to offer software and hardware for data, network and endpoint security, and security management, its CEO hopes that people will come to know it as a company that offers security on many fronts.
Gil Shwed, Check Point’s co-founder and CEO, has put a lot on emphasis on the fact that the company’s approach to security is based on an effective and seamless integration of policy, people and enforcement. They call it 3D security, and they stress that users need to be engaged and educated on security policy enforcement.
As I was able to see, a lot of their solutions include education directly into the program, which usually takes the form of warnings popping up when users are about to do something that could endanger the enterprise – for example, send out confidential data to a private email.
It is not enough just to say to the user that he can’t do something, says Shwed. He argues that an explanation about why the alert has popped up is necessary, along with an elucidation of the implications of the attempted action, and an offered solution. “Users should be made to take ownership and responsibility for their actions,” he says.
It is not a foolproof method, to be sure, but he insist that it helps inform users who don’t yet know what they are expected to do or not to do and makes malicious ones think twice about proceeding. The system also logs all these actions and/or attempts, leaving a mark that may help solve questions in the future or allow the company to react in time and prevent further damage caused by the action.
“Security today is a collection of many different technologies, many point solutions bought from different vendors. But that is no longer enough,” he says. “Security is not just about technology, security should become a business process.”
And why are people at the center of this vision? For Shwed, the answer is obvious – “They are the ones who use the technology, and they are the ones that usually make mistakes that lead to insecurity.”
When talking about policy as the anchor of security, he insists that corporate policies must be simple, meaningful and usable. “And not too long. At Check Point, for example, every new user that joins the company must read some security material – which takes about half an hour – and before he can access the network, he must go through and answer correctly some 20 questions (online) in order to get access to the network,” he says.
When it comes to enforcement, he believes that Check Point is on the right track with its software blade architecture. IPS, DLP, mobile access, firewall, application control and more – all working within the same architecture, the same environment, managed from the same console.
He not only considers it more effective and easier to manage, but cheaper, too. Instead of 15-20 point solutions on its network, an enterprise can have five and add software blades as the need arises, paying for the additional capability less than for additional appliances that do only one thing.
Both Shwed and John Vecchi, Check Point’s head of global product marketing, point out that the time for proactive security has definitely come, and the 3D security vision that they begun implementing with the introduction of Check Point R75 network security suite in February is a way to change an enterprise’s approach to security, make it proactive.
Comparing the state of security today to a picket fence – a range of point products with gaping holes between them – Vecchi says that the biggest challenge today is managing the complexity of security. Instead of dealing with threats, enterprises are struggling to manage and coordinate the bevy of point products they have, and to solve that problem, security unification is crucial.
Having listened to a number of presentations of various Check Point technologies and solutions, I couldn’t help but be a little impressed with how the company practices what it preaches. Theory is all good and well, but when you are given examples of how those technologies work in an actual enterprise environment – Check Point’s enterprise environment – it’s easy to see where their confidence comes from.
Sharing some of the results of the latest NSS Labs tests of IPS andfirewall solutions, Shwed proudly says that their firewall is the only one that passed the test, and that, for the first time, an integrated IPS solution proved to be more effective than a dedicated one – whether when out-of-the-box or fine-tuned. “It shows you that when we speak about security is not just words – it’s real.”