Friday, March 29, 2013

17 year old makes $30 million from selling his company to Yahoo.

Yahoo announced today that it has acquired Summly, a mobile news aggregation app from British entrepreneur Nick D'Aloisio.

D'Aloisio is only 17-years-old. When he started Summly, he was only 15.

Summly scans the Web for news and uses an algorithm to find the type of content you want to read. Then it summarizes it for you.

Yahoo is going to shut down Summly as a stand alone app, but it says it's going to incorporate Summly technology into its own mobile apps and sites.

Clearly, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wanted to hire D'Aloisio. She has been making a lot of small acquisitions like Summly. She wants to bring young, fresh, mobile-focused talent to Yahoo.

Humorously, Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud storage company Box, notes on Twitter that D'Aloisio was born after Yahoo was founded.

There was no price announced with the deal. However, All Things D reporter Kara Swisher says Yahoo paid just under $30 million. The app generated no revenue.

According to Crunchbase, Summly has raised $1.53 million in venture funding from an impressive list of investors.
Hong Kong billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing put $300,000 in the company in September of 2011.

A year later, the rest of the money came from people like Brian Chesky, the CEO and founder of AirBnb, Mark Pincus, the founder and CEO of Zynga, Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono, Wendy Murdoch, and a few other big names in tech.

When Steve Jobs opened the iPhone's App Store, Nick D'Aloisio was only 12-years-old.

D'Aloisio taught himself how to make an app. Three years later he launched his own startup, Trimit, which truncated a news story into 140 characters for people that wanted to tweet out stories.

He realized people didn't want to truncate the news. They wanted the news truncated for them. So, he flipped the app and made Summly.

Previously it was reported Summly only had 500,000 downloads, which is not much for an app. D'Aloisio says Summly has had "90 million summaries read," whatever that metric means.

Here's the release from Yahoo announcing the deal:
Today, we’re excited to share that we’re acquiring Summly, a mobile product company founded with a vision to simplify the way we get information, making it faster, easier and more concise.
At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio created the Summly app at his home in London. It started with an insight -- that we live in a world of constant information and need new ways to simplify how we find the stories that are important to us, at a glance. Mobile devices are shifting our daily routines, and users have changed not only what, but how much information they consume. Yet most articles and web pages were formatted for browsing with mouse clicks. The ability to skim them on a phone or a tablet can be a real challenge -- we want easier ways to identify what’s important to us.
Summly solves this by delivering snapshots of stories, giving you a simple and elegant way to find the news you want, faster than ever before. For publishers, the Summly technology provides a new approach to drive interest in stories and reach a generation of mobile users that want information on the go.
Nick and the Summly team are joining Yahoo! in the coming weeks. While the Summly app will close, you will see the technology come to life throughout Yahoo!’s mobile experiences soon. So stay tuned!
Mobile devices are at the center of how we engage with the people, experiences and interests we love. Across Yahoo!, we’re focused on creating beautiful experiences that people are excited to use every day -- products that inspire and delight. We can’t wait to work with Nick and the Summly team to do just that.

And here's Summly's announcement:
In true Summly fashion, I will keep this short and sweet.
I am delighted to announce Summly has signed an agreement to be acquired by Yahoo!. Our vision is to simplify how we get information and we are thrilled to continue this mission with Yahoo!'s global scale and expertise. After spending some time on campus, I discovered that Yahoo! has an inspirational goal to make people's daily routines entertaining and meaningful, and mobile will be a central part of that vision. For us, it's the perfect fit.
When I founded Summly at 15, I would have never imagined being in this position so suddenly. I'd personally like to thank Li Ka-Shing and Horizons Ventures for having the foresight to back a teenager pursuing his dream. Also to our investors, advisors and of course the fantastic team for believing in the potential of Summly. Without you all, this never would have been possible. I'd also like to thank my family, friends and school for supporting me.
Most importantly, thank you to our wonderful users who have helped contribute to us receiving Apple's Best Apps of 2012 award for Intuitive Touch! We will be removing Summly from the App Store today but expect our summarization technology will soon return to multiple Yahoo! products - see this as a ‘power nap' so to speak.
With over 90 million summaries read in just a few short months, this is just the beginning for our technology. As we move towards a more refined, liberated and intelligent mobile web, summaries will continue to help navigate through our ever expanding information universe.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Web tool warns people if their tweet will get them fired.

Researchers from Hannover, Germany, have come up the FireMe! Web tool as a way of warning Twitter users if their tweets will get them fired.

Ever wondered if your tweets will get you fired?

A team from the University of Hannover in Germany has created a Web tool that warns people about their reckless tweets.

FireMe!'s goal is to raise awareness about the dangers and consequences of people being reckless online.

Kawase said he thought of the idea after attending a talk at his university about how the Web is influencing the work environment.

"After the talk I immediately started working on FireMe!," Kawase said, adding that he thought it would be a fun topic for research.

According to New Scientist, the team found that in a single week last June, nearly 22,000 people had tweeted about their boss or work in a negative way.

In order to illustrate just how extreme some tweets can get, FireMe! provides examples of actual tweets that got people fired.

Gilbert Gottfried was fired by Aflac for joking about the tsunami that hit Japan. New York University law fellow Nir Rosen resigned from his fellowship after his remarks about Lara Logan's sexual assault.

So how does FireMe! work?

According to Kawase, the system crawls Twitter with a set of predefined sentences that mention something negative about bosses or the workplace.

"Before it was an alert system — once we identified the user who had said something bad, a tweet was sent to warn them about the dangers of sharing such comments," Kawase said.

The alert system received a mixed response, Kawase said.

"Most people didn't care about getting fired," he said. "Still, 6 percent of users who got the alert actually deleted the tweets."

Twitter recently requested Kawaze to stop this alert system because it was violating the company's policy.

Today, Kawase's team has a website where people can see "bad tweets" via a live stream and check their own FireMe! score on the FireMeter.

Kawaze adds that the FireMeter is non-scientific. "It's goal is to improve engagement with the website," he said. "It's a mixed calculation considering the number of mentions to the boss, work and profanity in the users' timeline."

Source: MSN, New Scientist

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How you get to see hashtags clogging up your Facebook feed, just like Twitter.

Facebook is working on incorporating the hashtag, one of Twitter's most iconic markers, into its service by using the symbol as a way to group conversations, said people familiar with the matter. It is unclear how far along Facebook's work on the hashtag is and the feature isn't likely to be introduced imminently, these people said.

On short-messaging service Twitter, the hashtag—a word or phrase preceded by the "#" pound symbol—is a way for people to collate many Twitter messages about a single news event or topic, like the selection of the Pope (#PopeFrancis). The hashtag is closely associated with Twitter, and fans of the service use the hashtag as short-form creative expression.

Facebook is testing whether to follow Twitter's lead and allow users to click on a hashtag to pull up all posts about similar topics or events so it can quickly index conversations around trending topics and build those conversations up, giving users more reason to stay logged in and see more ads. Instagram, which Facebook acquired last year, already uses hashtags, allowing users to sort photos by the symbol.

Facebook's work on a hashtag is a sign of the heightening battle between Facebook and Twitter, as both compete for mobile users and fight for advertising dollars. For years, Twitter and Facebook seemed to occupy different poles of the social-media spectrum. While Facebook was the home of close friends and family, Twitter was the real-time broadcasting device for the rest of the world.
Facebook has now increasingly moved onto Twitter's turf. The Menlo Park, Calif., social network is prodding users to share more content with the public. In recent years it has mirrored some of Twitter's features by creating "subscriber" lists for users, and allowing people to tag celebrities and brands with the "@" sign.

Earlier this month, Facebook unveiled a simplified website redesign. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook was building the foundation to be the best "personalized newspaper" for users, an ambition Twitter has also expressed by working closely with publishers and improving its news-surfacing engine. Facebook, which also recently revamped its search engine, has also said it plans to make public posts searchable in the future.
And while closely held Twitter is a fraction of Facebook's size, it is competing with Facebook for mobile and online advertisers, especially as some advertisers flock to Twitter to advertise against real-time moments. Twitter has bulked up its sales staff and released more advertiser-friendly products. Last month, Twitter opened its ads platform to third-party partners so that advertisers do not have to directly buy ads from Twitter.
"Historically, Facebook has come first for advertisers and Twitter has been a nice add-on," said Debbie Williamson, an analyst for eMarketer. "Twitter has been more aggressive."
Twitter is expected to make about half a billion dollars in advertising revenue this year, according to eMarketer. Facebook generated $4.3 billion last year from advertising.

The gap is narrower in mobile advertising, where Twitter is expected to make $249 million this year, versus Facebook's $851 million, according to eMarketer.

So, if you love seeing people #always #use #hashtags #on #every #single #word #in #their #post, you're in luck! Thanks a lot Facebook.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Monday, March 25, 2013

Use Bluetooth? Protect yourself from hacking scams.

Cell phone users are increasingly turning to Bluetooth technology to talk - hands free - on their phones. But as this high tech tool gains popularity in the US and Canada, scammers are finding ways to exploit it.

How the Scam Works:   
Scammers use specialized software to intercept your Bluetooth signal and hack into your device. It’s called “bluebugging.”  Doing this gives them access to all your texts, contacts, photos, call history… everything on your phone.
Scammers sometimes use hacked phones to make long distance calls. Other times, they access your private text messages or photos. But unless you are a celebrity, government official or high-powered corporate executive, you are unlikely to be a target.
Recently, the newest scheme is for scammers to set up a pay-per-minute phone number. Then, they hang out in a busy area and hack into phones. Scammers use the phones to dial the number and rack up charges by the minute.

Tips to Ensure Your Bluetooth Isn’t Hacked: 
  • Always use a minimum of eight characters in your PIN. The longer your code, the more difficult it is to crack.
  • Switch Bluetooth into “not discoverable” mode when you aren’t using it. If you make a call from your car, be sure to switch it off when you get out. Crowded public places are top spots for hackers.
  • Don’t accept pairing requests from unknown parties. If you happen to pair your phone with a hacker’s computer, then all your data will be at risk.
  • When pairing devices for the first time, do so at home or in the office.
  • Make sure you download and install regular security updates. Device manufactures will release updates to address threats and correct weaknesses.
For More Information
Check out for tips on using products with Bluetooth technology. Also, see your cellphone manufacturer’s website for more advice.

Source: BBB

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Latest study gives some pretty interesting statistics...

Each and every one of us sees them every day....those annoying banner ads. You know, the advertisements that almost always drops down in your face when you open most news sites? The worst are the ones that expand when you scroll over them, forcing you to click on them no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

If you hate banner ads as much as we do, you are not alone: most people do not click on them. Solve Media, an advertising consulting company, has discovered how much more likely you are to do even the most statistically unlikely of things than click on one of these intrusive advertisements. For example, "you are 31.25 times more likely to win a prize in the Mega Millions than you are to click on a banner ad." Not only that, "you are 87.8 times more likely to apply to Harvard and get in...112.50 times more likely to sign up for and complete Navy Seal training...279.64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest...and 475.28 times more likely to survive a plane crash than you are to click on a banner ad."

It's unclear how they figured this out, or if the methodology is all that sound, but we're going to guess that people hate banner ads enough to enjoy the numbers anyway.

Source: Business Insider 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ever drop an iPhone? Apple's creative team has just the thing to prevent damage.

iPhone owners who drop their phones could avoid serious damage if an Apple patent filing ever results in real technology...

Published today by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent application dubbed "Protective Mechanism for an Electronic Device" describes a couple of methods to help a dropped iPhone or other electronic device better survive its fall.

In one method, on-board sensors would detect how far and how fast the phone is falling and reorient its position. As such, the phone would actually be rotated mid-flight to land on a more durable spot, such as its edge or back, rather than on a more fragile location, such as its display screen.
To achieve this feat, the phone would be equipped with a "protective mechanism" that might use a canister of compressed gas to alter its orientation.

In another method, the descent of a falling iPhone could actually be slowed, almost like a parachute slows the descent of a skydiver. To pull off this trick, the protective mechanism would trigger an airfoil that would lessen the velocity of the device and cushion the blow once it reaches the ground.

Talk about an advancement in technology...

Source: CNET

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Talk about a phishing expedition by law enforcement...

A newly proposed law states that AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and other wireless providers would be required to capture and store Americans' confidential text messages.

The law enforcement proposal would require wireless providers to record and store customers' SMS messages -- a controversial idea similar to requiring them to record audio of their customers' phone calls -- in case police decide to obtain them at some point in the future.

"Billions of texts are sent every day, and some surely contain key evidence about criminal activity," Richard Littlehale from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation will tell Congress, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. "In some cases, this means that critical evidence is lost. Text messaging often plays a big role in investigations related to domestic violence, stalking, menacing, drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking."

So, for all of you that talk about private matters through text message, I'd suggest you stop doing that. Face to face is the only way that can even be considered private anymore.

Source: CNET

Monday, March 18, 2013

Best Buy selling $100 iTunes gift card for $80 (20% off)!

Best Buy has kicked off another one of its iTunes gift card promotions...

The retailer is selling the $100 iTunes gift card for $80 in store or online. (Online option allows you to have the gift card shipped directly to your house or pick up in your local store).

The sale applies only to the $100 gift card. All other iTunes gift cards from Best Buy remain at their usual price.

Best Buy periodically holds a sale on its iTunes gift cards, sometimes just a single card and other times the entire lineup. Customers can typically save at least 15 percent on the full retail price.

How long will the offer last? That question always seems to be a bit of a mystery when Best Buy does this promotion.

The promotion is hard to find on the Best Buy site, but here's the direct link for our readers to take advantage of the offer:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Surfing is so 1990....

If paddling out to that wave is getting a little too tiring, this electric body board puts you right in the water while pulling you along effortlessly.

Catch a wave with the Kymera electric body board and zip along the water at speeds of 15 MPH!

Kymera is a lightweight, motorized jet board that can send you crashing through waves to help a struggling swimmer. Mainly intended for lifeguards and search and rescue teams, it's designed to be placed in the water more quickly and easily than personal watercraft. Kymera weighs 48 pounds with the rechargeable lithium polymer battery pack, and 29 pounds without it.

The batteries power a 1,000-watt RMS brushless motor, and the average run time per charge is one hour, giving you a 5-6 mile range. It has a leaning steering mechanism with trigger throttle control.

Kymera starts at $2,500, with delivery in July. For $5,500 or more, you'll get the board and equipment including a transport roof rack that doubles as a solar charger. It can juice the board in 3.5 hours in full sunshine.

Source: CNET

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

With the World Wide Web, no one's information is private, including the Vice President's, First Lady's, Beyonce, and other politicians & entertainers.

Some hackers have it out for a handful of celebrities, politicians, and law enforcement officials, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and pop singer Beyonce.
Collected onto one Web site called "The Secret Files", browser's will find a slew of financial and personal information on these public figures. The data is so sensitive that it has sparked investigations by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced yesterday that the government agencies are looking into how obtained the Social Security numbers, credit reports, telephone numbers, and addresses of these individuals, according to Reuters.

So far, it looks like a lot of the private information came from illegally obtained consumer credit reports from the companies Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. According to Bloomberg, the hackers got the reports by collecting personal details about the celebrities and politicians from the Web or other sources. Armed with this preliminary information, the hackers were able to impersonate the victims and fool the credit report Web sites into giving them each person's credit history.

"We are aware of recent media reports pertaining to unauthorized access to files belonging to high-profile individuals," Equifax spokesman Tim Klein told Bloomberg. "Equifax can confirm that fraudulent and unauthorized access to four consumer credit reports has occurred."

It's unclear exactly how much of the information posted on The Secret Files is accurate or when it was gathered. According to Politico, a handful of the credit reports were generated last week. A Twitter account for The Secret Files has been suspended.

Besides the First Lady, Vice President, and Beyonce, the list of people exposed on The Secret Files include:
  • socialite Kim Kardashian
  • FBI Director Robert Mueller
  • former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck
  • actor Mel Gibson
  • actor Ashton Kutcher
  • rapper Jay-Z
  • socialite Paris Hilton
  • pop singer Britney Spears
  • former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
  • wrestler Hulk Hogan
  • property mogul Donald Trump
  • former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • former Vice President Al Gore
  • rapper Kanye West
  • socialite Kris Jenner

Source: Reuters, Bloomberg, Politico, CNET

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Want a cool new tech toy? This minifridge can plug into your computer to keep your favorite beverage cold!

What happens when you just want one can at your desk and you want it cold? Well, plug in this small single-can beverage cooler into a USB port and chill a can on your desk. Then you won't have to get up to get your drink!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Despite increased privacy concerns, Facebook users are sharing more personal information.

Carnegie Mellon University conducted a study following more than 5,000 Facebook users over six years, from 2005 and 2011, and found that changes in the social network's privacy policies caused users to share more -- not less -- personal data. Lest you think this means that users suddenly trusted the site more, Carnegie Mellon says that Facebookers became more and more protective of their personal details as the social network grew in membership -- and that the uptick in shared information is a result of increasingly granular privacy settings. If you recall, Facebook introduced new in-depth privacy controls in 2010, and the study found that the release of these new settings corresponded to users sharing more personal data, both within their network of friends and with strangers and third-party applications.

It's been quite some time since the new privacy policy was introduced, but the university says the sample group didn't reduce the amount of info shared with non-friends on the network, even as of 2011. The takeaway? Well, it's safe to say that more privacy controls doesn't equal more vigilance in protecting personal data, and it's certainly not a stretch to call Facebook's settings confusing. The researchers' comparison of the struggle for privacy to the eternal plight of Sisyphus? That might be a touch more dramatic.

Source: Engadget

Thursday, March 7, 2013

iPhone 5s production rumored to have already begun.

iPhone 5S production has already kicked off, a Japanese-language Apple blog reported today.
Foxconn has begun "partial production" of the iPhone 5S, a "reliable source" has told Macotakara. Both MacRumors and AppleInsider cited the report earlier today.

The 5S is being built on the same production line as the iPhone 5, according to Macotakara.
The Japanese blog goes on to claim that NTT Docomo is cutting back on orders for Android devices to make way for introduction of the iPhone. NTT Docomo does not currently carry the iPhone

Rumors have been swirling in the last 24 hours as to when the iPhone 5S will become available. One analyst claims August, while another anticipates a June-July scenario. Whichever it is, it would make sense for limited production to begin in March.

The 5S may use a new A7 Apple chip, a better camera based on a LED technology referred to as Smart Flash, a fingerprint chip, and versions will support China's time-division duplexing (TDD) standard, according to recent speculation.

Source: CNET

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Want a new dog? This one plays catch with concrete blocks!

Today we get to see a different kind of robot animal in action. I'll give you a hint on the type: fetch!

The robot on display in the video is BigDog, a DARPA-funded all-terrain cyber-canine meant for military use. It can tackle slopes up to 35 degrees, rubble, snow, mud, and water, and can carry a 340-pound load. Boston Dynamics writes of the monster dog's latest trick:
BigDog handles heavy objects. The goal is to use the strength of the legs and torso to help power motions of the arm. This sort of dynamic, whole-body approach is routinely used by human athletes and animals, and will enhance the performance of advanced robots. The control techniques and actuators needed for dynamic manipulation are being developed by Boston Dynamics with funding from the Army Research Laboratory's RCTA program.

Source: CNET

Monday, March 4, 2013

Internet Explorer 10 compatibility issues with online banking sites.

During the month of March, Microsoft will be making its Internet Explorer 10 browser available for Windows 7 and 8. This browser update will be automatically propagated and installed as part of the next Microsoft Windows update.

Preliminary testing has identified compatibility issues between the new Internet Explorer browser and many online banking sites. Since many banking sites do not support Internet Explorer 10 at this time, we STRONGLY recommend that you do NOT install the new browser on computers that access any cash management or banking sites.

If Explorer 10 gets installed by mistake, there is no guarantee that we will be able to simply remove it and restore online banking functionality.

If you have any questions please feel free to give IES a call at 781-816-9437.

Friday, March 1, 2013

“It’s not the economy….”

Fiscal cliff, sequester, debt-ceiling, meteors crashing down on Earth’s surface…..

From the headlines, it seems that the end of the world is near. Maybe the Mayans really knew the world would end in 2014 but just told us 2012 so they could get the last laugh. Despite this, we still have to get up and go to work in the morning, but one cannot help but wonder about the always dreaded R word - recession.

The truth is, if you are worried about the possibility of another recession and its impact on your business, you are normal just like the rest of us. However, if you constantly worry about it, even if you are in a more cyclical industry, there is something wrong with your business. If you truly believe in what you are selling, and you are providing something of value at a reasonable price and treating your customers right, you should not be worried about another recession. Even now current economic conditions do not meet the requirements to be classified as a “recession” but my opinion is that the economy is slightly contracting or extremely weak at best (maybe 0.2%-0.5% GDP growth if any).

But I majored in Economics, so what the heck do I know? Especially when I am only at the Bachelor’s Level and most renowned economists with PhD’s still get it wrong. I seriously considered underwater basket-weaving but almost drowned when I accidentally weaved my hands together in UBW 101.

Back to the economy…uncertainty from Washington’s theatrics, Europe’s sovereign debt woes, and China’s banking system reminiscent of ours in 2006, has driven many consumers to curb spending and businesses to curb investment. Credit is also hard to come by and consumers do not seem to be rebounding back to their pre-recession spending tendencies, even those who have deleveraged (another factor behind weaker demand).

So we can say there is less demand in the macro economy. This means there are probably fewer prospective customers out there now than there were a year ago. But this is by no means a death sentence. You simply have to work harder to keep existing customers, and work smarter and harder to get new customers. You are competing with other businesses for fewer and fewer customers. Separate your business from your competition and you will do fine. Again, the businesses that sell something of value that is needed or desired will do fine regardless of the economy.

Clearly, all of us would prefer the economy be booming with 5% GDP growth but like that classic song, “you can’t always get what you want”. Maybe a tougher environment could be “what you need” to kick-start your creativity. Maybe you will come up with your next big idea.

The Myth of SEO and Why CONTENT is KING.

SEO is just an acronym used by IT professionals to make clients believe they are doing magic or brain surgery in order to hit them with a massive invoice. Search Engine Optimization sounds so complex and astounding, as if the IT guy you probably have can even spell it out. The plain old truth is that SEO can be done by anyone. It should by no means cost you much money. Regardless, it won't do much for you alone. What is the key to moving up in those search results? Key="Hits", plain and simple. Your site is not going to get hits if you have no content. Have as many pages as you can squeeze into your budget. Blog or at least do something. Post pictures of your dogs or 47 cats. (If you do have 47 cats, please do not call us, at least not to your house as walking onto the set of an episode of "Hoarders" is not something we want to do). You can have every keyword possible but if your content is not interesting, it will not be disseminated (i.e.…go viral) and thus you will never get enough hits. The best bet is to combine sound SEO with great content. Do the best you can and be creative, don't be boring.

Rumor alert: bigger, thicker, cheaper, plastic iPhone to come next year.

Holdouts expecting a larger version of the iPhone this year will have to keep on waiting, a new report says.

Citing sources, Japanese Apple-news site Macotakara says such a device is instead slated for next year, and will use plastic instead of aluminum for its body.

Macotakara says the device will sport a polycarbonate plastic enclosure much like the one found on the MacBook and iBook before it. Other rumored details include a 4.5-inch screen, which would be half an inch larger than the one found on the iPhone 5 and iPod Touch; Apple's usual home button; and a $330 price tag that would be a little less than half of the average selling price of the iPhone 5 (without carrier subsidy).

As MacRumors notes, Macotakara has had a mixed rumor scorecard, but it had accurate information about Apple's latest batch of iPods, some two months before they were officially unveiled.

Source: Macotakara, CNET