When T-Mobile announced it would carry the LG Optimus L9 earlier today, I bemoaned the carrier’s lack of impressive, exclusive devices. As it turns out, that may have been a bit hasty of me — Nokia has just let slip that its new Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia 810 will hit T-Mobile’s shelves in the coming weeks.
As the name implies, the Lumia 810 is a mildly-tweaked version of the Lumia 820 that rival carrier AT&T will carry later this year. Most of the device’s basics remain the same — it still sports a 4.3-inch OLED Clear Black display (running at WVGA, for better or worse), Nokia’s slew of software additions, and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera — but the 810 is (obviously) tuned to work on T-Mobile’s 4G network. What’s more, the 810′s 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera is just a hair more robust than the VGA shooter used on the 820.
Jive CEO Tony Zingale zinged Zynga, Yammer, Oracle and you name who else in an interview with Box CEO Aaron Levie at Boxworks. But the real story comes with Zingale appearing as a mystery guest for the company’s annual event — fueling speculation that the two young enterprise challengers may have some news to share as the week goes on.
Jive and Box are close partners and compete directly with the enterprise giants. Box has its strengths in content management while Jive has a collaboration service that trades on the NASADAQ. Box has made moves of its own to signal a potential IPO.
Constellation Research Analyst Alan Lepofsky said in an email interview with me that it’s possible these two companies may have more to say as the week goes on:
…I think it significant that Tony was on stage with Aaron and the two are often at Silicon Valley CEO events together, especially around the VC gathering. I would not start to speculate about things like an acquisition though. Instead, think tighter integration. Both Jive and Box are “top players” in what they do. However, Box’s strength is not currently collaboration and Jive’s strength is not around file-centric actions. With JiveWorld this week, I’d think we can expect a few more announcements.
It makes sense that the two would form a deeper partnership. Krishnan Subramanian made that point in a post he wrote yesterday about Box and its strategic direction as a best-of-breed player that forms partnerships instead of developing a suite of services such as what we have seen from companies like Yammer, which Microsoft recently acquired. You see a similar story playing out at Socialcast — bought by VMware — as it seeks to move further up the stack with more end-user offerings.
You can see this singular approach in the Box partnerships it announced today with SAP and others. Big companies want to partner with Box for the excellence of its cotent management service and its primary focus om mobile.
Lepofsky also said in our email interview:
Box announced integrations with SAP Afari, ProofPoint and GoodData. Afari and ProofPoint are about security; GoodData is about Business Intelligence. What I think is significant is that Box is building a robust partner ecosystem with key enterprise application services and providers. When 3rd parties want to build for you, that is great indication that your platform is successful.
But then what about Box hiring Writely Founder Sam Schillace as the company’s a vice president of engineering? As Lepofsky tweeted, Google acquired Writely and then made it the foundation for Google Docs.
So the question becomes how Box will compete with the likes of Google, which earlier this year launched Google Drive. The service allows for syncing documents between your desktop and Google’s cloud storage and collaboration environment.
In summary, though, Box is about building out features and working in third-party ecosystems, which is what it now does with Jive. But it’s also just the first day of the show, so we will have to see what else Box has to say over the next three days.
Google’s Nexus 7 tablet has been quite a hit, but there can be little doubt that the average quality of Android tablet apps still ranks behind iOS. Google is clearly aware of this and today, the company is making a new push to get developers to ensure that their apps run well on tablets. To do this, Google just launched a Tablet App Quality Checklist that walks developers through the process of getting their apps tablet-ready.
In concert with this launch, Google also just announced that it plans to launch a series of tablet-focused app collections in the Google Play store ahead of the holiday season.
Until the launch of the Nexus 7, developers didn’t have any real incentives to make their apps tablet-ready. The lackluster sales of the first generation of Android tablets just didn’t make this effort worthwhile. This, of course, now creates somewhat of a vicious cycle, as the small number of tablet-ready Android apps could keep potential tablet buyers away from Android, despite the fact that the Nexus 7 is a pretty stellar piece of hardware.
The checklist, says Google, will help developers “focus on key aspects of quality, feature set, and UI that can have a significant impact on the app’s success.” Before publishing an app to Google Play, the company says, “it’s important to make sure that the app meets the basic expectations of tablet users through compelling features and an intuitive, well-designed UI.”
To change developers’ impressions of Android on the tablet, Google is highlighting a number of tablet success stories from companies like Mint.com, TinyCo and Instapaper. Instapaper, for example, which worked with mobile development shop Mobelux to launch its tablet app, says that it saw a 600 percent jump in downloads of its app the day pre-orders of the Nexus 7 began arriving. TinyCo, which brought its casual game Tiny Village to Android tablets, says that it saw a 35 percent increase in average revenue per paying users on tablets compared to users on Android phones.
The telecom company Sprint is currently experiencing issues with its network. We first heard reports of the outage on Twitter but a recording message from Sprint confirmed the issue. The incident is due to a fiber cut and teams are currently working on it. As a result, Alaska Airlines flights are currently delayed until the network is back up because the carrier can’t check in passengers.
The official statement from Sprint:
Due to a fiber cut in the Pacific northwest, you may have issues making or receiving calls, or accessing data services if you are in the Minnesota, Washington, or Oregon areas. The issue has been identified and crews are working diligently to correct the problem. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
According to Alaska Airlines’ status page, a fiber network was cut in Wisconsin at 7:30AM PST. The two companies seem to report different stories, but at least one cable was cut and network issues are real. While the carrier is figuring out a way to manually check in customers, flights are greatly delayed. According to the AP, CEO Brad Tilden doesn’t expect a full resolution before 5PM PST.
Sprint users are expressing their frustration on Twitter — they first had to find a way to send their tweets without using the network:
Kevin Meyer (@Remote__Control) October 08, 2012
So the systems are down for 2 hours or more! Thank you Sprint—
Oromiya Hassen (@ayimororose) October 08, 2012
Sprint data has been down all morning! #Iwantmymoneybacksprintpcs!—
Heliege (@Heliege360) October 08, 2012
Yay. So happy to be flying on a day that Sprint takes down the Alaska Airlines computer system and grounds the entire fleet.—
Nancy DeWitt (@AKbirder) October 08, 2012
Thanks #sprint you have taken down Alaska airlines network so no one is getting out. They are hand writing tickets at the gate!—
Ryan Keyes (@rnkeyes) October 08, 2012
Kevin Rockwood (@photobyrockwood) October 08, 2012
Wayne Plimmer, a retiree living in Sechelt, British Columbia, filed a class action lawsuit against Google last week. In it, he and his attorney allege that Google’s Gmail service “intercepts, obtains and uses personal information it collections from emails sent to Gmail users.”
Gmail users, of course, can only use the service if they consent to Google’s terms of service, which explicitly allow the company’s algorithms to scan your email in order to present you with targeted ads. The twist in this lawsuit, and a number of previous ones filed against Yahoo and Google in a number of courts in the U.S. earlier this year, is that the plaintiff is not a Gmail user, which would immediately render his arguments moot. Instead, Plimmer argues that Google is invading his privacy by readings emails he sends to Gmail users. In addition, the lawsuit also argues that Google infringes on the email senders’ copyright, as well as solicitor-client, physician-patient, priest-penitent and journalist-source privileges.
The class action lawsuit, which Plimmer is launching on behalf of “all persons in the province of British Columbia who have sent email to a Gmail account,” asks for an injunction that would stop Google from intercepting any emails sent from British Columbia, as well as statutory damages for breach of copyright of $500 per email. Google is also supposed to delete “any and all” emails sent by members of the class action lawsuit. The company has 35 days to respond to these claims.
Talking to the Calgary Herald, Santa Clara University School of Law professor Eric Goldman argues that this is an “are-you-kidding-me” lawsuit. One could argue, he says, that if Google’s automatic scanning of incoming mail is a violation of the sender’s privacy, so is the use of anti-spam and anti-virus software. It’s also worth noting that these kinds of Gmail-related privacy concerns go all the way back to the launch of Gmail in 2004.
You can read the full lawsuit (via the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email), below:
Google announced today that it’s bringing Google Play movies, TV shows and music to its Google TV platform, through an update that will allow users to rent or buy content through the included Google Play store on Google TV devices. In addition, purchases users have made on other supported devices will also be available on Google TV following this update (and vice versa).
The new content will be included in the Google Play store’s “TV & Movies” app, which also houses competing offerings from both Amazon and Netflix, as well as content recommendations. While more content is the big news for Google’s consumer install base, which earlier this year was estimated at less than 1 million, the update also brings a number of new features for developers, too. Specifically, developers will now gain access to auto-updates, subscription billing, and smart app updates, the company announced via blog post this afternoon.
While Google didn’t provide details as to the size of its catalog, it said that it includes “millions” of songs and “thousands” of movie and TV shows. A few months ago, that catalog included 100,000 TV episodes and movies. Google declined to provide exact numbers when asked today, but noted that was working with all major film studios and indies. The company recently signed a deal with Twentieth Century Fox to bring 600+ more titles to its catalog.
It’s been a tough year for Google TV, which didn’t even get a shout-out during Google’s I/O conference this time around, and whose hardware partners have been suffering from a lack of sales. Google is not revealing the size of its install base publicly.. But needless to say, Google’s optimistic projection from last year – that the majority of TVs sold in stores would have Google TV embedded by this summer – has not come to pass. (For more detailed analysis on Google TV’s fizzle, see: “Google TV Needs To Decide: Platform Or Closed Ecosystem“ and “Google’s TV Strategy is Doomed“).
In June, Google announced support for the Google Play store on Google TV, promising movies, music and TV would be “coming soon.” October, apparently, is what it meant by soon? The update is rolling out starting today, and will continue to hit devices over the next few weeks.
Makers of the most viral video in Internet history, Kony 2012, launched their next phase to bring down child soldier Kingpin, Joseph Kony: release a new video, explain their co-founder’s infamous naked meltdown, and plan a massive protest in DC. “I was not in control of my mind or my body,” Invisible Children co-founder, Jason Russell, said on the TODAY show, explaining the public breakdown he had after mounting criticism of the wildly successful video, which accumulated over 100 million views in just six days. Invisible Children seem to have recovered from the overwhelming episode, releasing a 30 minute video explanation (posted at the end of the post, a shorter call to action (below this paragraph), revamped their website, and are planning a march on the White House on November 17th.
Invisible Children were well-known documentarians within social justice circles long before their viral hit. Dedicated to galvanizing global political and military resources to stop the Central African paramilitary group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, from forcibly recruiting child soldiers, Invisible Children successfully lobbied congress to authorize military action in 2009 (after students staged a protest outside U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s freezing Oklahoma City office). However, The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act only authorized support for local military groups, not preemptive assaults.
Frustrated with progress, the group then released the now famous Kony 2012, which got picked up by everyone from Justin Bieber to Oprah
— Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) March 8, 2012
The accompanying media frenzy brought with it accusations of libel and oversimplification, most notably that Kony was an infamous war criminal and advocating military intervention required a nuanced approach to international efforts that had been ongoing for many years.
The overwhelming response took a psychological toll on Russell, ultimately resulting in a naked public breakdown, publicized in the proudly salacious, paparazzi-loving outlet, TMZ.
After Russell, 33, spent 6 weeks in care facilities, has now recovered and is promoting his new video and call to march in Washington, DC. “Move DC” plans to line the 10 city blocks surrounding the white house with young supporters to urge even more action against the LRA. Interestingly enough, the group has also chosen Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker’s new social media service, #waywire, as the conversational hub of the new video, rather than YouTube, where comments are disabled.
Invisible Children, for all their criticisms, have been one of the few unqualified success stories in social media, a world where moving young citizens to offline action has proven elusive more often than not. Move DC will be worth keeping an eye on, and if lightning strikes twice for the group on November 17th, they will surely be sought-after experts in the Holy Grail of Internet activism: real world action.
Social commerce network Lockerz, which just lost its founder and CEO Kathy Savitt to Yahoo, has raised $7.5 million in new funding, according to an SEC filing. A spokesperson for the company confirmed the new funding, and said the round was raised from existing investors. The filing lists both Kleiner Perkins and Liberty Media. Other investors in the company include Live Nation and DAG Ventures. This new infusion brings Lockerz’ total funding to nearly $80 million.
As we’ve reported in the past, Lockerz revolves around the idea that influencers within a social network can become brand and content advocates and affect the behavior of their friends. The network, which says it is seeing 45 million monthly uniques, is primarily targeted towards men and women ages 13 to 30, attempting to build a community of trendsetters and tastemakers who love to shop, play and connect on the Web.
Members earn what the network calls ‘PTZ’ for nearly everything they do on the site, which are used to get discounts on hundreds of products offered in the Lockerz Store. At last count, Lockerz members had used nearly 3 billion PTZ for millions of dollars of savings on brands, including 7 for All Mankind, James Jeans, Xbox 360, Nintendo, SkullCandy, Canon, and Olympus.
It’s unclear what the fate of Lockerz would be after its founder left. But Savitt remains as chairman of the Lockerz’ board and the company appointed Lockerz’ former COO Mark Stabingas as CEO following Savitz’ departure.
Hands up if you know what Ericsson does? Yes, we all know about that Sony-Ericsson smartphone thingamajig. But as Hans Vestberg, Ericsson’s surprisingly youthful CEO and President told me, Ericsson can claim, as much as any other company, to actually run the network. Forty percent of all the world’s digital infrastructure is provided by Ericsson and 50% of the world’s smartphone traffic goes through Ericsson, Vestberg explained to me when we met at the SIME conference in London. And you ain’t seen nothing yet, Vestberg insists. By 2017, there will be 15 times more data traveling on the network and there will be 3 times as many networked devices as there actually are people on earth. So Ericsson’s role – as the company enabling the Internet – is only going to become more central in the next few years. But if Ericsson can handle tomorrow’s network with the ease with which Vestberg dealt with my question about how many babies will be born during our interview, then I’m confident we are in good hands.
Facebook has just begun testing “Collections” — a new feature it says is “unrelated” to Pinterest but could be a competitor. It allows retailers to add “Want” or “Collect” buttons to news feed posts about products. These save and share products to a “Wishlist” on user profiles that host a “Buy” button that can be clicked through to make purchases offsite.
Seven retail partners including Pottery Barn and Fab can now share Collections posts to their fans.
Collections could help retailers score viral click-throughs to their product pages by making things their fans are interested in more discoverable to friends. Facebook isn’t earning affiliate fees on Collections click throughs, but it could get brands to buy ads to get more fans.
Facebook told us this about the product:
“We’ve seen that businesses often use Pages to share information about their products through photo albums. Today, we are beginning a small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections. Collections can be discovered in News Feed, and people will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends. People can click through and buy these items off of Facebook.”
Facebook is currently testing a few different versions of Collections, which has now rolled out to 100% of users. Fans of the seven partners – Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria’s Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics, and Fab.com — may see one of three designs for the button overlaid on photos these Pages post to the news feed.
The “Want” button adds a product to a Timeline section called “Wishlist” visible to friends of friends, the “Collect” button saves to to a Collection called “Products” that’s visible to friends only, and a special version of the “Like” button will also add to “Products” but that’s visible to friends of friends.
Facebook is showing each version to a third of users, and will be watching to see which generates the most traction and satisfaction. Note that this is all different from the “Want” button social plugin for external sites that we think Facebook is working on.
Retailers aren’t charged to share Collections posts instead of standard photos or status updates, and Facebook will not collect affiliate fees or a revenue share on purchases from Collections clicks. Still, the feature could earn it money.
Collections posts only go to a Page’s fans. That means if Pages want more people Collecting, resharing, and clicking through to purchase sites, they’ll need to be building a fan base. Facebook sells ads specifically designed to get brands more Likes for their Pages, and those ads might become a lot more valuable to retailers because of Collections. Notably, these Page Like ad units are a core part of Facebook’s mobile advertising offering.
Beyond earning money indirectly, Collections could also challenge Pinterest. If users can Collect and share products on Facebook where they and their friends already spend time, they might have less need to join Pinterest. Collections certainly isn’t robust enough to dissuade hardcore Pinners, but it could evolve to become sufficient for casual curators who don’t want to start a profile on another social network. This good-enough strategy is similar to how Facebook’s Subscribe feature limits the mainstream growth potential of Twitter.
While Facebook Timeline does a good job of letting you tell the story of your entire life, it still doesn’t offer strong enough curation for highlighting your favorite things. Personally, I’d love the ability to show off the links, photos, and status updates I love most in a sort of collage. Collections might bring us one step closer to that, even if it it has a decidedly consumerist focus for now.
AT&T and Sprint have already laid claim to LG’s flagship Optimus G handset, but what of the rest of the Big 4 national carriers? Verizon has been keeping awfully quiet on the subject — maybe because it’s still trying to push LG’s curious Intuition phablet — and for now it seems T-Mobile is making do with another, less illustrious Korean handset.
The carrier has just announced that it will launch the LG Optimus L9, but like nearly every other phone announcement made in the past few weeks, there’s nary a hint at pricing to be found. Even its release date is shrouded in secrecy — all T-Mobile will say is that it’s set to launch “later this fall”.
Even though T-Mobile and LG are clearly keeping key details hush-hush at this point, they couldn’t completely keep the news under wraps.
Here’s the skinny on the Ice Cream Sandwich-powered L9: it packs a 4.5-inch, Gorilla Glass 2-coated display running at 960×540, and a dual-core 1GHz processor of unknown make. Meanwhile, a 5-megapixel camera can be found on the 9.1mm-thick device’s rear end, while the device’s 2,150mAh battery should keep things ticking along for quite some time. Alright, fine, it’s not the most exciting spec sheet you’re going to see over these next few months, and the L9 announcement may highlight an even bigger issue for T-Mobile — what’s going to be their big holiday seller?
For a while there it seemed like the natural heavy-hitter would be HTC’s One X+, which appeared on a T-Mobile document under a pseudonym. As it turns out though, the One X+ is an AT&T exclusive, and the perhaps the only top-tier device that the magenta-clad carrier is expected to carry (the Galaxy Note II) is slated to launch on most other carriers as well.
Skype isn’t exactly immune to malware and spam, but criminals are hoping that its users are perhaps less vigilant about clicking through on random links sent to their accounts. According to multiple reports from security firms, as well as from a community forum thread on Skype.com, the popular communications service is the latest target of a malicious online worm. The worm, identified as “Dorkbot,” has previously infected both Twitter and Facebook, and is known to send out messages that use social engineering tactics to trick users into clicking on links.
For example, if anyone has ever tweeted or messaged you with some variation on “lol is this your new profile pic?” followed by a link, that could have been the Dorkbot worm in action. On security firm Trend Micro’s blog post today, researcher Rik Ferguson refers to the Skype worm as “spreading fast.” He says users have seen messages in both English and German, and links point to a download on Hotfile.com labeled as “Skype_todaysupdate.zip,” containing the payload.
While the emergence of the worm is now leading to several media reports – yes, such as this one – the good news, at least according to competing firm Sophos, is that the worm is not all that widespread on Skype just yet. Sophos tells us that their investigation into the scale of the attack is still underway (as is Trend Micro’s), but so far, they’ve only seen a small number of reports. Still, the firm hedges that they may not have the full picture, since their software is for home users, not for businesses. Historically, however, there have been many variants of the Dorkbot attack on other social networks, and it can also spread on USB sticks and via IM.
The worm’s payload is rather vicious - after compromising the affected machine, it joins the machine to a botnet and locks users out of their computer. While in the past, Dorkbot went after user credentials, this new attack uses what’s known as “ransomware.” Users are informed that their files have been encrypted, and are warned they’ll be deleted if they don’t pay $200 within 24 hours. Sophos’ Graham Cluley describes this as being like “kidnappers shooting hostages one by one, if their demands aren’t met…it’s really creepy, unpleasant behavior – and sadly becoming more common,” he says.
As always, both firms remind users (for like the millionth time) not to click on unexpected links. Unfortunately, those who need to hear that message aren’t generally reading tech blogs. They’re reading Yahoo Answers…sigh.
We reached out to Skype for additional information on the worm’s status first thing this morning, but have yet to hear back. Likely, the response, when and if received, will be something along the lines of the worm not being widespread, or affecting a small number of users, as is usually the case with official statements.
Update, 2 PM ET: Skype has responded with the following statement:
Skype takes the user experience very seriously, particularly when it comes to security. We are aware of this malicious activity and are working quickly to mitigate its impact. We strongly recommend upgrading to the newest Skype version and applying updated security features on your computer. Additionally, following links – even when from your contacts – that look strange or are unexpected is not advisable.
Image credit: Sophos
First Uber, now Sidecar and Lyft.
The California Public Utilities Commission, which sought to shut down Uber two years ago, has been serving cease-and-desist letters to ride-sharing startups like Lyft, Sidecar, and Tickengo. The Commission, which is tasked with regulating privately owned electric, telecommunications, water, transit, and passenger transportation companies, is now trying to figure out how ride-sharing companies fall into its regulatory framework. But in the meantime, it’s been asking them to get off the road.
The letters sent to ride-sharing startups have apparently had little effect: While served more than a month ago, they’re just coming into the public eye now. And in the meantime, Lyft, Sidecar, and Tickengo have all remained on the road with no apparent shutdown in service.
Zimride co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green have addressed the letter in a blog post this morning, defending Lyft’s operations in spite of the regulatory scrutiny. Zimmer and Green characterized Lyft as just one more evolution in ride-sharing, which moved from physical ride boards at universities, to postings on Craigslist, to Zimride’s own social platform online, to mobile devices through apps like Lyft.
According to Zimmer, the letters that were sent out were part of the CPUC’s effort to understand how new technologies would fit under its current regulatory framework. “It’s clear that the technologies we use were never imagined when these regulations were written,” Zimmer told me by phone.
Since receiving the letter, he says Lyft has been engaged in productive conversations with the Commission, and that the regulator has a better understanding of how its service works. Key to that understanding is convincing the Commission that Lyft operates in full compliance with that law, and that it already holds itself to a higher standard than other transportation services are expected to comply with. “When you look at our criteria for background or driver checks, it’s above and beyond what the limo services do,” Zimmer told me.
For its part, Lyft runs potential drivers through a number of checks before allowing them to affix a pink moustache to their cars. That includes DMV and criminal background checks, followed by in-person interviews and vehicle inspections. Last we checked, about 5 percent of applicants are accepted as drivers, though it’s been ramping up its fleet quickly, so that percentage might have changed. Lyft now has upwards of 250 drivers on board, compared to just 100 when it officially launched to the public in August.
Sidecar also received a notice, even before Lyft, founder Sunil Paul told me by email. According to Paul, the letter asked Sidecar to cease and desist operating a “charter party carrier,” which requires a license. Since he believes Sidecar is not a charter party carrier, the startup has remained on the road.
Paul writes that Sidecar is coming under scrutiny because it is a successful innovator “upsetting the status quo,” but that it was carefully designed to be 100 percent legal. “We are innovators committed to public safety. We built a system with safety in mind and will continue to expand safety and insurance features in the coming months,” Paul wrote.
He also sought to differentiate Sidecar from other ride-sharing services. For one thing, he wrote, drivers know the destination of potential passengers, and so can choose whether or not they would like to pick them up. It also doesn’t suggest a donation or set a price like other apps, instead using software to calculate the average price of a ride.
Meanwhile, Tickengo co-founder Geoff Mathieux claims to be a true peer-to-peer collaborative transportation platform “meant to fill empty seats in regular cars,” and is not to be used for commercial purposes. While drivers on some other services are taking several passengers a day, that’s not Tickengo’s goal. In fact, it limits the amount drivers can make on a yearly basis to AAA’s official annual cost of vehicle ownership, which is currently $8,776 per year.
Mathieux also sets Tickengo apart by saying that it’s merely a platform for connecting individuals, not unlike the old ride boards Lyft alluded to above. “We are not engaged in the operation, hiring, or maintenance of driving professionals or commercial transportation vehicles,” he wrote in an email.
While other services have either booked additional insurance to cover accidents during shared rides (Lyft), or are looking to do so (Sidecar), Tickengo says it has no need to. “Drivers on Tickengo don’t give rides several times a day like the others,” Mathieux writes, therefore the trips shouldn’t be considered livery or commercial. On that basis, driver insurance policies should be adequate to cover any damages that occur during one of its rides.
Of course, the new ride-sharing companies are hardly the first tech startups to face scrutiny from local regulatory agencies: Uber also received a cease-and-desist letter from the CPUC, and has come under fire from regulators and government agencies in a number of other markets that it operates in, including New York, Chicago, and Boston. Like Uber before it, Lyft plans to continue operating while the regulatory issues are worked out.
While the CPUC is still trying to figure out how ride-sharing fits under its regulatory purview, Lyft and others might get some aid from San Francisco’s new Collaborative Consumption Working Group, which is trying to understand the issues faced by companies like Airbnb, TaskRabbit, Getaround, and others that have created peer-to-peer marketplaces that allow users to more efficiently share resources, assets, or skills. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is a big fan of the sharing economy, and this group seems committed to helping those companies overcome challenges related to entrenched industries and regulations that don’t take into account new technologies.
As if it wasn’t tough enough being an entrepreneur in France right now (OK, it’s not impossible, but let’s face it it could be easier) news reaches us that a global tech company like Twitter is having issues putting boots on the ground in the nation’s capital. The news is not exactly an advert for Paris’s tech ecosystem, but it may also of course be a function of the weird market right now, especially post Facebook/Zynga/Groupon IPO. Whatever the case, Twitter has confirmed to us that although they have been looking for people to staff its planned Paris office, nothing is shaking so far. A spokesperson told us: “We’ve said for a long time that we’ll eventually have an office in Paris. [We have] Nothing specific to announce (about when or what roles will be there) at this point.”
It’s something of a mystery why this has happened. Twitter put a London office in place some time ago and has already placed it’s European HQ Dublin, where corporation tax has lead others such as Yahoo, Google and others. We’ve done some digging into this and there’s an indication that Twitter is either setting its bar pretty high, (as well they might), or that there is a lack of, well, direction?
Contacts we’ve spoken to say they have been bashing their heads with Twitter’s HR people for some time this year, but, as one put it to us, “It looks like they don’t know what they want, or who they want.”
The process for hiring a Paris team – built largely to engage with French advertising agencies around the platform – started in March, apparently when Jack Dorsey came to Paris and met the candidates of the French Presidential election.
Indeed, the wooing was mutual. In the Spring the mayor of Paris went to SF and visited Twitter, later tweeting about Twitter opening an office in Paris. Perhaps he tweeted too soon?
In April, Twitter’s HR machine spun up to try and pull names together. Contacts on the ground in Paris were called, names were sent, mainly for a country manager, to but also for account managers. The tech and media echo-system in Paris did their best to help out, we gather.
There are unconfirmed rumours that Twitter is also looking for an additional person to run operations for other French-speaking countries (Belgium, but also Morocco for example).
Then in June, Katie Stanton, Twitter’s head of international came to Paris with some other people from her team, and ran a number of interviews. There was also a Twitter developer meetup.
But, inexplicably, no one was selected for the Paris office.
Time passed over the Summer and other people were contacted. And we last heard that the hiring conversations were still going on in September. Tough gig huh.
So, that dear reader, is what we know for now. Any more information will be gladly received on the situation.
For now Twitter says it’s not announcing anything, France-wise.
C’est le bordel ?
Twice, a secondhand clothing marketplace with $4 million in funding, has come up with a creative way to hire new talent. The company is now putting up $1 million to acquire any Y Combinator, 500 Startups or TechStars company, or any similarly qualified team. Twice is calling this hiring initiative the “Restart Fund,” a tongue-in-cheek play on “Start Fund,” the joint venture that currently provides $150,000 to every graduating YC startup.
The $1 million is coming out of the $4 million Twice raised in August, but will be a mixture of cash and equity, explains CEO Noah Ready-Campbell.
With this initiative, the company is hoping to capitalize on what’s known as the Series A crunch – that is, because of the glut of startups raising seed and angel funding, some are now struggling to raise a Series A round. But Twice is also hoping to take advantage of a more common problem startups face: the majority of these companies simply fail. Failing doesn’t mean that the founders weren’t talented. However, it does mean there are many folks out there who may need to gain some additional experience before trying again.
“The best way to learn about starting a company is starting one yourself, but that will only take you so far if things don’t work out,” says Ready-Campbell. “The second best way, or maybe even the best way, is to join a company and have a very hands-on role. I think the people we see who are interested in [Restart Fund] will come at it from that perspective,” he adds.
In terms of the candidates themselves, while those from YC, TechStars and 500 Startups are specifically being sought after, that’s not to say that Twice won’t consider founders who didn’t participate in these accelerator programs. “We’re looking for very strong technical founders, that’s the main thing,” explains Ready-Campbell. “People who have executed well, shipped an impressive product, but for whatever reason haven’t been able to take their company in the direction they initially wanted to.” Interest in e-commerce and transactional businesses is also of interest, and he notes that Twice is a Python shop. This doesn’t necessarily disqualify candidates, though – it’s probably more of a wish list for the ideal team.
Ready-Campbell also says he realizes that by hiring entrepreneurs, there’s a good chance that the new hires will eventually want to go out again on their own at some point – and that’s OK. But the mechanics of the deal, while not exactly set in stone yet, will see the options vesting over some number of years, as is standard, in order to keep the hires around for at least a little while.
So why entrepreneurs, given their itch to leave? “We’ve seen a pattern in the people that we’ve found who were really good – a lot of time they have an entrepreneurial background,” says Ready-Campbell. He says he expects to hire at least three, probably two engineers and a designer through Restart Fund. The offer will only be available until year-end, or until the hires are made, whichever comes first.
“Given the current state of Silicon Valley’s hiring environment, it’s a super smart move for Twice to acquire a talented team with proven execution ability but whose own products haven’t found traction,” said Elad Gil, founder of Mixer Labs, former Twitter VP, and Twice investor, in a statement released today.
Twice has set up a special email for the candidates, email@example.com, which is live now.
A number of leading browser vendors and other tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Adobe, Facebook, HP, Nokia, Mozilla, Opera and the W3C, just announced the launch of the Web Platform Docs project at WebPlatform.org. The project aims to create “a new, authoritative open web standards documentation site,” says Opera Software. The wiki-like site, says Opera, wants to ensure that developers can easily find “accurate, quality information on all the latest HTML5, CSS4 and other standards features across the multitude of available web-based resources.”
Currently, the companies behind WebPlatform.org argue, developers struggle to find authoritative answers to their questions about modern web technologies and often, developers have to resort to figuring out the right solutions through trial and error (the Google team describes this as a “scavenger hunt”). The new site, says Adobe, will change this by providing developers a “single, definitive resource to go to.” On the site, users will find API documentation, information on browser compatibility, examples, best practices and the status of the various specifications.
The site has been seeded with information from the participating organizations, but anyone will be able to contribute content to the project. The W3C will serve as the site’s convener and curator, but the various participating organizations stress that this is a community effort.
“People in the web community — including browser makers, authoring tool makers, and leading-edge developers and designers — have tremendous experience and practical knowledge about the web,” said W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee in a canned statement today. “Web Platform Docs is an ambitious project where all of us who are passionate about the web can share knowledge and help one another.”
Whenever I use a food or restaurant review app, I sometimes feel like I’m being overwhelmed with recommendations, and it can be hard to distinguish between recommendations and reviews that are trustworthy from those that aren’t. Chefs Feed offers an intriguing solution to that problem — offer recommendations from high-profile, professional chefs.
Chefs, after all, are presumably more knowledgeable about good food than your average Yelp reviewer, and they’re often looking to either build or maintain a relationship with fans. The app actually launched about a year ago, but today the company is unveiling version 2.0 of its iOS app, with updated social features.
Co-founders Steve and Jared Rivera (the CEO and CMO, respectively — and yes, they’re brothers) gave me a demo of the new app a couple of weeks ago, and also showed me the old one to illustrate the difference. The previous version of Chefs Feed was mostly limited to browsing food recommendations. The update, however, is much more social. You’re not just looking at dishes recommended by chefs, but you can also “follow” each chef to receive their updates — what they’re eating and also what’s new and unique at their own restaurants. Chefs Feed has also added social profiles for users, where they track dishes they’ve already eaten and build an itinerary of dishes that they want to try in the future.
There are now nearly 600 chefs in the system, the Riveras say, including the French Laundry’s Thomas Keller, Spago’s Wolfgang Puck, and Babbo’s Mario Batali. With the growing interest in celebrity chefs and chef culture, the Riveras say most chefs take intense pride in their profiles and recommendations. That should only increase with the new following feature. Version 2.0 makes it even easier for those chefs to add dishes to the system — instead of sending their recommendations to the Chefs Feed team, they can just post updates from the app itself (although the team is still fact-checking each update).
One thing I wondered about the model — it seems like a great idea in a city like New York, where there are lots of professional chefs who can add content to the system, but does it really work in other locations? Steve Rivera argues that even in cities with fewer chefs using the app, Chefs Feed still has something to offer. Austin, for example, has a relatively small number of dish recommendations (about 200), but Rivera says, “Two hundred dishes can keep users happy for a long time.”
He also admits that not every participating chef is as super-active, but he says the company can work with different levels of engagement. If some chefs want to add new dishes every day, well, the new app accommodates that. If others don’t have the time or inclination for that kind of activity, the company will still reach out every once in a while to ask for new recommendations.
As for making money, Steve Rivera says, “We think of this thing going into a media property, and we’re going to monetize all the traditional ways a media company would.” In fact, Chefs Feed seems to have a pretty good start on that front, having provided short video documentaries that were shown in Virgin America flights. There’s also a book and a pilot for a TV show in the works, the Riveras say.
You can download the Chefs Feed app here.
It’s no secret the U.K. has been a 4G laggard, with LTE only now finally starting to get off the ground — a small local broadband provider has just switched on the first commercial 4G network, while the first big 4G deployment from a mobile operator won’t go live until October 30. But today a project has been green-lit by the government that’s aiming to ensure the country takes a pioneering role in developing the next generation of cellular technologies coming down the pipe: 5G.
A funding bid by the University of Surrey to establish a specialised 5G research centre at its location in the south east of England has been approved by the department for Business Innovation and Skills, subject to final due diligence from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The Center will see 5G technologies developed and tested in the U.K., as the industry works to establish a standard for the next next generation of cellular (albeit, don’t expect this one to come on-stream for many years yet).
The research center will be established with £35 million in financial backing — £11.6 million of which is coming from the government, via the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UK RPIF) which supports long-term university capital projects. An additional sum of around £24 million is being put up by a consortium of mobile operators and infrastructure providers — including Huawei, Samsung, Telefonica Europe, Fujitsu Laboratories Europe, Rohde-Schwarz and AIRCOM International.
Commenting on the success of the funding bid, Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of the University of Surrey’s Centre for Communication Systems Research, said there are ”massive challenges and opportunities facing the sector” in the years ahead — with “unprecedented” growth in mobile data usage driving revenues but also putting increased strain on networks — making it imperative that 5G standards are developed to increase the spectrum efficiency of carrier technologies.
“The global telecommunications industry, valued at $2.1 trillion per annum, is already responsible for 6 percent of world GDP. Mobile communications data traffic is expected to increase 1,000 fold by 2020, by which time there will be an estimated at least 50 billion Internet-capable devices,” he noted in a statement.
“The growth in the number of new applications running on the networks is accelerating, as ever more mobile devices become the preferred route for Internet access. Such unprecedented data traffic growth requires the urgent introduction of new 5G advanced technologies that maximise the use of the limited available radio spectrum and provide for Greener technologies and solutions.”
Tafazolli also noted that the U.K. has “increasingly fallen behind” in succeeding generations of 3G and 4G standards — making it all the more imperative for the country to play an active role in developing 5G standards. “The University’s industry partners have identified this proposal as the single biggest opportunity for the U.K. to regain a world leading position in the development of 5G technologies and for the development of vibrant businesses around the technologies,” he said.
The University of Surrey’s 5G research center is one of seven successful bidders for this round of UK RPIF funds, each garnering between £10 million and £35 million in government funds. To access the public funds universities must at least match those funds with additional investment from private companies or charities.
In addition to allowing you to create labels, Koha can print out patron cards. This tutorial walks you through some of the basics of creating a patron membership card.
As always, if you have an idea for a video, please just let me know and I’ll add it to my list of things to record.
Microsoft has rolled out a notable update to its Kinect for Windows SDK today, while also announcing the availability of the Kinect for Windows sensor in China. The new version of the SDK introduces a number of improvements which allow developers greater access to sensor data, plus it adds support for Windows 8, and offers improvement to the Kinect Studio developer tools.
The Kinect for Windows platform allows for more commercial implementations of the Kinect technology, and has been designed specifically for use with Windows PCs, as opposed to the Xbox 360. The sensor connects with the PC via a USB cable, and is now available in 32 markets worldwide where it’s sold for $249 USD. The SDK is free, however, and Microsoft doesn’t charge fees for runtime licenses.
For developers building on the Kinect platform, the updated SDK now opens up API access to a wider range of sensor data, including the sensor’s 3-axis accelerometer (for detecting orientation), the infrared stream, and it provides extended-range depth data details beyond 4 meters. Developers can also build applications that set the color camera settings, like the brightness and exposure, and the SDK now allows for faster toggling of the IR to support overlapping sensors, says Microsoft.
What this means, for those who don’t speak developer, is that the Kinect commercial ecosystem can now expand to support a broader number of applications, including those meant for use in manufacturing (this one, thanks to its new ability to access extended-range depth data), as well as apps that could run in low-light settings. Microsoft hints that movie theaters and museums might take advantage of some of these latter changes, specifically.
In addition to the SDK update, Kinect Studio, which allows developers to work with the sensor SDK has been updated as well, and it includes samples that show how to use all the new SDK features, among other things.
Also new today is Windows 8 support, meaning developers can build a Kinect for Windows solution for Windows 8 desktop apps. The SDK supports development with Visual Studio 2012, Microsoft .NET Framework 4.5, and now works on Windows running in a virtual machine.Microsoft Hyper -V, VMWare, and Parallels has been tested. (Previously, Windows 8′s “Consumer Preview” was supported, but not the final release.)
The Kinect for Windows Sensor is now available in China, as noted above, and is soon rolling out to Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland, and Puerto Rico.
The Kinect for Windows platform is being used to develop several interesting experiments in motion detection, like a virtual dressing room which lets consumers try on clothes via Kinect, for example. It has also been used in education, in hospitals, and Nissan used Kinect to build buzz around the Pathfinder pre-launch.
On November 7, TechCrunch is rolling into Motown, ready to party at the TC Detroit Meetup. Hopefully, the budding startup scene of Detroit will be down for a party, too.
As part of our Northern Meetup Tour, during which we’ll hit up Toronto, Chicago, and of course Detroit, we’ll be on the hunt for the latest and greatest startups, the coolest investors, and the best possible conversation we can have.
Thanks to our sponsors, there’ll be plenty of food and beer at the famous Hockeytown Cafe, the shadow of Comerica Park, home of the Tigers.
But before the party even begins, we’ll be holding Office Hours in the area. Office Hours, if you are unfamiliar with the terms, are short 20 minute sessions of one-on-one time with TC writers. We’ll open up registration for these soon, so stay tuned.
If you’d like to sponsor one or all of these fantastic gatherings, or know someone that should, shoot a message to our amazing sponsorship team here.
For general meetup questions, please email our awesome events team here.Click to view slideshow.
“1. Read with a purpose.
2. Skim first.
3. Get the reading mechanics right.
4. Be judicious in highlighting and note taking.
5. Think in pictures.
6. Rehearse as you go along.
7. Stay within your attention span and work to increase that span.
8. Rehearse again soon.”
Check the post out.
Some of the skinny on the business models used by our institutions of higher learning:
The Business of Higher Education
How Harvard Spends Student Tuition
I was honored to present at the Library 2.012 Conference this year. I did two talks back to back for folks from all over the world. Here are the presentation links:
“23 Things” as Transformative Learning: Promoting Confidence, Curiosity and Communication via Library Staff Professional Development: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/StephensL2.012Learning2.0.pdf
Our Common Purpose: Libraries and LIS Education in Flux: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/StephensOurCommonPurpose.pdf
The recordings for the conference are here: http://www.library20.com/page/library-2-012-session-recording-links-and-information - Don’t miss the excellent keynote presentations!
I zipped down to Carmel, Indiana last week and did two talks for the Indiana Library federation’s Public Library Association’s conference. Here are the slides:
Trends & Tech: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/239835/InPLATrends.pdf
Government intervention MIGHT only be part of the solution.
Librarians and other info professionals can and should play a massive role in informing/teaching on this and other digital literacy issues. Yes, you’ve heard this before but we think it needs to be repeated on a regular basis.
From Gartner Research:
Consumers’ increased reliance on social media ratings and reviews will see enterprise spending on paid social media ratings and reviews increase, making up 10 to 15 percent of all reviews by 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. However, analysts predict that increased media attention on fake social media ratings and reviews will result in at least two Fortune 500 brands facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.
“With over half of the Internet’s population on social networks, organizations are scrambling for new ways to build bigger follower bases, generate more hits on videos, garner more positive reviews than their competitors and solicit ‘likes’ on their Facebook pages,” said Jenny Sussin, senior research analyst at Gartner. “Many marketers have turned to paying for positive reviews with cash, coupons and promotions including additional hits on YouTube videos in order to pique site visitors’ interests in the hope of increasing sales, customer loyalty and customer advocacy through social media ‘word of mouth’ campaigns.”
As the FTC begins to crack down on this practice of fake reviews/ratings, some reputation management companies are taking a different approach, not posting new, fake, favorable reviews, but identifying fake and defaming reviews and requesting the reviewers or host site remove them or face legal repercussions. Gartner analysts said they expect a similar market of companies to emerge specializing in reputation defense versus reputation creation.
Gartner believes that although consumer trust in social media is currently low, consumer perception of tightened government regulation and increased media exposure of fake social media ratings and reviews will ultimately increase consumer trust in new and existing social media ratings and reviews.
“Organizations engaging in social media can help to promote trust by openly embracing both positive and negative reviews and leveraging negative reviews as a way to encourage customers with positive product or service experiences to share them on review sites as well,” Ms. Sussin said.“They should also respond to ratings and reviews in an official capacity to demonstrate willingness to engage in productive conversation with anyone.””
From Sam Laird at Mashable Tech…
“when it comes to encouraging people to embrace the written word, e-readers trump their physical counterparts.” – Are Books Doomed? The Rise of E-Reading [INFOGRAPHIC]
But from Dan Turner at UX Magazine…
“Reading on an iPad, or a tablet, just isn’t the same as reading a book. And for me, it’s not better. Even though I was, of course, excited about the prospect of an infinitely accessible library in a carry-on form, the fact is that when I try to read on the iPad, I’m doing so reluctantly, and I get through far fewer pages in a sitting than I’m used to.” – A Tablet Still is Not a Book … Not Yet.
And on Gruen Planet – The Pitch segment features ads promoting paper books.
What’s your take? I’m really only reading ebooks at present. It’s the size factor for me. A book is just too big to be bothered carrying around, especially when I’m carrying an ipad anywhere (for it’s other features). And my kobo vox is working out well for reading in bed as I don’t have to turn on the light to read it, it’s smaller than many hardbacks or longer paperbacks, and the night-time reading option means that it’s not generating much light to bother my partner.
The Libraries and Access to Justice Webinar Series continues with our third webinar Thursday, October 11. Pro Bono Net is producing these webinars in collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of Louisville, Central Minnesota Legal Services and Legal Services State Support (MN), with funding from the Legal Services Corporation's Technology Initiative Grants program. The series will help librarians better assist library patrons with legal needs by presenting a range of free online access to justice resources, and will showcase successful models for legal aid-library collaboration. A description with the link to register for the third in our series of four webinars, Helping Patrons Find Legal Assistance in their Community: Online Referral Tools, can be found below.
Webinar 3: Helping Patrons Find Legal Assistance in their Community: Online Referral Tools
Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Time: 10am PDT / 11am MTN / noon CDT / 1pm EDT
This webinar will highlight online resources for people looking for a lawyer, including where to find referral information for nonprofit legal aid programs, lawyer referral services and state bar programs. Panelists will also discuss a national website with legal help for military members and veterans, and a national directory for individuals seeking assistance with immigration issues. In addition, we'll share tips for how to assess whether an online referral resource is reputable, and common scams to watch out for.
These webinars are free to public library and public law library staff, as well as stakeholders from the legal aid, court and access to justice communities. Attendees are welcome to join for the entire series or attend individual webinars on topics of interest. Recordings and presentation materials will be made available online afterwards.
For more information, to register for the upcoming webinar, or to view our past two webinars, please visit us at http://www.probono.net/librarywebinars/. If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on Delicious.
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I’ve been using Gmail so long that I take it for granted that it can be foreign to some people. A friend of mine just got a Nexus 7 and had to sign up for Google (and Gmail) to use it and after 15 to 20 years of using the same email client that can be a bit terrifying. Mashable has a guide to help my friend and your patrons (who might be new to Gmail too).
Native Gmail users have become so adapted to the service, it’s hard to think anyone doesn’t know the basics.
Luckily, Google supplies us with practically unlimited data, so there’s plenty of room for newcomers.
Whether you’re just getting started on email or jumping ship from another client, this guide will help you get started. From setting up an account to organizing your inbox for maximum efficiency, you’ll be a Gmail warrior by the time you hit the end of this post.
View streaming video of the LITA National Forum 2012 keynote speakers:
At http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lita-forum (Recordings will be available via USTREAM after the event.)
Also, check out photos of the forum via the Flickr group Pix4LITA
From an Introductory Blog Post:
This report updates previous work researching the usage and adoption of ebooks within academic institutions and examines recent developments that are shaping how academic institutions can respond to growing interest in ebooks:
As ebooks become mainstream and the percentage of academic publications delivered as ebooks rises steadily, this report explains the importance of preparing for the increasing adoption and usage of ebooks in academic institutions. Specifically, this report: 1) introduces the historical and present context of ebooks; 2) reviews the basics of ebooks; 3) considers scenarios for ebook adoption and usage; 4) addresses current challenges; and 5) considers the future. This report also provides a glossary to help clarify key terms and a ‘References’ section listing works cited.
The preview version of this report is open for public comments from 27 September to 8 October 2012.
Alongside this report, JISC is developing further practical guidance. Building on JISC Collections ebook expertise, the Digital Monographs Study and JISC Digital Media expertise, later this year we will be releasing Digital Infrastructure Directions guidance on the Challenge of eBooks in Academic Institutions.
Direct to Report and Info About How To Comment”
This Is Where We Live (2:43 Minutes)
“Welcome to our city – to our world – of books. This is where we live.
A film for 4th Estate Publishers’ 25th Anniversary. Produced by Apt Studio and Asylum Films.
The film was produced in stop-motion over 3 weeks in Autumn 2008. Each scene was shot on a home-made dolly by an insane bunch of animators; you can see time-lapse films of each sequence being prepared and shot in our other films.”
Issue 18 of the Code4Lib Journal is now available!
Here is a list of what you find inside Issue 18:
Editorial Introduction – Share Your Ideas
The Code4Lib Journal’s mission is to foster community and share information. It is my hope that reading the articles in this issue will help you develop your own ideas and solutions. And that you will share your ideas with the community.
Prototyping as a Process for Improved User Experience with Library and Archives Websites
Shaun Ellis and Maureen Callahan
Prototypes can be persuasive tools for proposing changes within an organization through “imagine if” scenarios. They not only show how to enhance the online experience, but can provide a way to improve the overall organizational environment as well. In redesigning the Princeton University Finding Aids site (http://findingaids.princeton.edu), we used a flexible subset of Agile practices based around measurable goals, iterative prototypes, meetings with institutional stakeholders, and “discount usability testing” to deliver an innovative and much-improved user experience. This article discusses how integrating relatively untested, but promising new ideas for online finding aids required us to adopt a development process that would allow us to better understand the goals of both general and staff users and in turn foster an environment for innovation that thrives on collaboration, iteration, and managed risk.
Hacking 360 Link: A hybrid approach
Jarrow, Electronic Thesis, and Dissertation Software
James MacDonald and Daniel Yule
Collecting and disseminating theses and dissertations electronically is not a new concept. Tools and platforms have emerged to handle various components of the submission and distribution process. However, there is not a tool that handles the entirety of the process from the moment the student begins work on their thesis to the dissemination of the final thesis. The authors have created such a tool which they have called Jarrow. After reviewing available open-source software for theses submission and open-source institutional repository software this paper discusses why and how Jarrow was created and how it works. Jarrow can be downloaded and the project followed athttp://code.library.unbc.ca.
A Hybrid Solution for Improving Single Sign-On to a Proxy Service with Squid and EZproxy through Shibboleth and ExLibris’ Aleph X-Server
Alexander Jerabek and Minh-Quang Nguyen
This paper describes an implementation of a hybrid solution for improving the library’s proxy service by integrating Shibboleth and ExLibris’ Aleph’s X-server using a proxy server running both EZproxy and Squid applications.
We will describe in detail the hybrid solution of a proxy service within the context of our institution and explain how this service improves the user experience. We will explain how we developed and implemented this solution with a minimum of development cost and describe some of the preliminary empirical research undertaken.
The main benefit of this solution is that instead of relying on e-resource vendors to become Shibboleth-compliant, we are able to prepare and deploy a Shibboleth-ready environment while granting our patrons reliable and stable access to e-resources via different types of connections. As of December 2011, the hybrid solution is running in production.
Modular Mobile Application Design
Jim Hahn and Nathaniel Ryckman
This article describes the development of the Minrva library app for Android phones. The decisions to build a native application with Java and use a modular design are discussed. The application includes five modules: catalog search, in-building navigation, a barcode scanning feature, and up to date notifications of circulating technology availability. A sixth module, Amazon recommendations, that is not included in the version of the app that was released is also discussed. The article also reports on the findings of two rounds of usability testing and the plans for future development of the app.
Patron-Driven Expedited Cataloging Enhancement to WebPAC Pro
Steven Jay Bernstein
This article outlines the development of an integrated patron-driven expedited cataloging feature in the catalog of the Connecticut State University Library System (CONSULS). The proposed enhancement to the library’s Innovative Millennium ILS provides users with a direct method for obtaining newly-arrived library materials and allows the Cataloging & Metadata Services Departments at the four Connecticut State University campuses a way to better identify priority materials in their queues. While the project was developed with a single ILS in mind, the idea behind it can easily be implemented on most any other integrated library system. Two versions of the enhancement are covered: one for standalone libraries and one for libraries that share a union catalog. The source-codes for both versions of the enhancement are provided, as are instructions for implementing the enhancement on any Millennium installation.
The Ursula C. Schwerin library needed to create a page for its mobile website devoted to subscribed eBooks. These resources, however, were only available through the main desktop website. These resources were organized using the Drupal 6 content management system with contributed and core modules. It was necessary to create a solution to retrieve the eBook databases from the Drupal installation to a separate mobile site.
LibALERTS: An author-level subscription system
Patron requests for the ability to subscribe to their favorite authors so they could receive notifications when new titles are released, presented an opportunity for Westlake Porter Public Library to learn, to build, and to engage with patrons on the development of a new service. The library’s libALERTS service, which launched in June 2012, was the culmination of a process that involved the development of a Drupal-based website augmented with a hand-coded preprocess interface that addressed critical concerns for the effectiveness of the service.
North Bethesda, MD, October 4, 2012 LibLime, a division of PTFS, announces that Rocky View School District is adding five more libraries to their district-wide LibLime Koha union catalog. Out of the five new schools, there are two elementary schools, two middle schools, and one K-8 school.
During the upcoming months, Rocky View School District will work with LibLime’s project management staff on data migration, system configuration, and training. As each of the five libraries is added, each of the libraries will enjoy the benefits of LibLime’s support and hosting in our distributed computing cloud platform.
About The Rocky View School District
Rocky View Schools serves residents to the west, north and east of the City of Calgary. The jurisdiction provides educational services to over 18,000 public students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Rocky View Schools is the fifth-largest school board in Alberta, employing more than 2,000 staff.
About LibLime - PTFS
LibLime – PTFS is the global leader in providing support for the Koha open source ILS. Rather than sell software licenses for static, hard-to-customize software products, the PTFS LibLime Division educates libraries about the benefits of open source, enabling them to make choices about how best to provide their communities and staff with better technology services. The PTFS LibLime Division then facilitates deployment of Koha in libraries by providing outstanding consulting, development, implementation, and support/hosting for libraries of all types and sizes. PTFS is also the developer of the world’s leading content management software, ArchivalWare, and specializes in meeting library personnel staffing requirements, digitization, and metadata keying services. For more information, see http://liblime.com or http://ptfs.com or http://archivalware.net.
Today I found the following resources and bookmarked them on Delicious.
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You probably don’t realize it, but Python’s capabilities are pushed every time you use YouTube and Dropbox. During our interview, Van Rossum said both of these services are at the forefront of Python’s development.
“Whenever someone clicks on a [YouTube] video, they will see HTML that was generated from Python,” he said. “That’s definitely pushing the limits.” [Discussed 27 seconds in — you can see the scalability presentation that Van Rossum mentions during this segment here.]
On the Dropbox side, Van Rossum said the service’s clients for Linux, Windows and Mac are all implemented in Python. You’re also downloading a miniature version of the Python runtime when you’re using Dropbox. [Noted at 1:20.]
Van Rossum also spoke about the lengthy transition Python has undergone from Python 2 to Python 3. “If you want improvements to your Python … now is the time to start trying out Python 3.” Why? While the changes to the language are actually quite small, with the exception of unicode handling being completely overhauled, Python 3 is a better, faster version of Python. In addition, many third parties like Django are coming on line with libraries and frameworks for Python 3. [Discussed at the 7:01 mark.]
Additional topics discussed during the interview include:
You can view the full discussion in the following video.
Little Elm Public Library Goes Live on Koha with ByWater Solutions
ByWater Solutions, an open source community supporter and the U.S.’ forefront provider of Koha (www.koha-community.org) support, announced today that Little Elm Public Library in Little Elm, TX. is now live on their installation of the Koha integrated library system.
ByWater Solutions completed the migration for Little Elm Public Library in September and will be providing ongoing support and hosting services for them.
Spencer Smith, Director, commented on their experience with migrating to, going live on and using Koha:
“ByWater Solutions has been everything you could ask for in a vendor. From the initial meeting through the migration everything has gone as smoothly as possible. We even went live a full day or two early! We are so happy with the level of service and the quality of the product. If you’re not already using Koha – we highly recommend you talk with ByWater Solutions about changing that!”
Brendan Gallagher, CEO of ByWater, commented on the Little Elm Public Library’s decision to partner with them:
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Spencer and the staff and patrons of the Little Elm Public Library. We look forward to supplying the high levels of service and support throughout the long and productive relationship we have just begun. Thank you for joining the thousands of libraries worldwide using Koha, and for choosing ByWater to meet your support and implementation needs!”
Little Elm Public Library’s collection is made up of over 35,500 items. Their customized online catalog can be viewed here: http://littleelm.bywatersolutions.com.
About Little Elm Public Library:
The Little Elm Public Library offers a wide range of services to Adults, Teens, and Children to their population of over 26,000 residents. It houses a collection of over 35,500 print and electronic resources for the public. For more information about Little Elm Public Library, please visit: http://www.littleelmlibrary.org
Koha is the first open-source Integrated Library System (ILS). In use worldwide, its development is steered by a growing community of libraries collaborating to achieve their technology goals. Koha’s impressive feature set continues to evolve and expand to meet the needs of its user base. It includes modules for circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, serials, reserves, patron management, branch relationships, and more.
About ByWater Solutions:
ByWater Solutions is a full service, high quality support and implementation company dedicated to providing libraries with a lower cost, more advanced level of support for their ILS than a traditional proprietary solution can offer. ByWater Solutions has a proven track record in first rate Koha implementation and support with library systems of all sizes. Our highly ranked, comprehensive support is what sets our company apart from any other vendor in the industry. Partnering with ByWater Solutions to support Koha not only lowers the cost of implementing and maintaining an ILS, but more importantly empowers libraries by giving them the flexibility and freedom they deserve. For more information please visit: http://bywatersolutions.com/
Here are the commerce stories that caught my eye this week.
The Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) got a boost this week as several more big brands joined the mobile payments network. Nivedita Bhattacharjee reports at Reuters that the new members include Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dillard’s and Dunkin’ Brands, bringing the total to 21 publicly traded members to date.
“MCX said its platform is under development and the company is trying to focus on integrating payments with offers and promotions delivered to a smartphone. But a source familiar with MCX’s effort said the consortium is still working through an RFP process to find technology vendors to help bring its solution to market.”
Wester says MCX officials described the vision for the payment solution as including discounts and promotions, and requiring little involvement from merchants in terms of equipment and technology investments. The platform also reportedly will “take a ‘hands-off’ approach to retailer’s transaction and customer data,” which is a major factor in some retailers choosing MCX over other payment options, such as Google Wallet. Mike Cook, vice president and assistant treasurer at Wal-Mart, one of the MCX partners, made it clear this week that Wal-Mart is not interested in sharing consumer and transaction data and that that played a role in the company choosing to back MCX over Google or Isis.
Mobile wallet startup Lemon stepped up its game in the mobile payment arena this week, launching its developer platform “Lemonade,” or “Lemon Application Development Engine.” Sarah Perez reports at TechCrunch that third-party developers now will be able to create branded interactive “smart cards” to better connect with consumers. She writes:
“Using the SmartCard Wizard, developers can customize their cards in terms of design as well as functionality. … A gift card could display the current balance, which is updated as the money is spent. Cards can also be used as mechanisms to allow the card providers to communicate with users, letting users send messages, respond to surveys, receive offers, discounts, and more. Other card add-ons might include integrated loyalty programs, coupon tracking tools, or price comparison tools. Support for tickets is also possible, and these can now be made interactive as well, alerting users to venue or time changes for the event, among other things.”
Ryan Kim at GigaOm says that opening the API “will pit Lemon against Passbook and perhaps Google’s larger vision for Google Wallet,” though he also reports that Lemon founder and CEO Wences Casares told him there are plans to integrate with Passbook. Perez reports that Lemon sees itself more as a complement than a competitor to Passbook and that the planned integration is about two months out.
While NFC technology continues to take hits in the payment space, it looks like QR codes might be enjoying a comeback. Apple employs the codes in its new Passbook service, and this week Target announced a new holiday shopping campaign using the codes; the idea is to steer “showrooming” consumers to Target’s website in hopes of retaining the sale.
Leena Rao at TechCrunch reports that Target will add the codes to the top 20 selling toys this holiday season. Consumers can scan the codes to purchase the toys with their mobile phones — even if they’re out of stock in the physical store — and then ship them anywhere in the U.S. for free. Rao notes this may be a preemptive strike against any holiday campaign plans Amazon may have up its sleeve — last year, the Internet retailer gave consumers a discount for “showrooming” at physical stores and then buying the products from its own retail platform.
News tips and suggestions are always welcome, so please send them along.
Commerce Weekly is produced as part of a partnership between O’Reilly and PayPal.
IPSWICH, Mass. — October 4, 2012 — EBSCO Publishing (EBSCO) and Elsevier have come to an agreement allowing mutual customers to access Scopus within EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS). Scopus is a bibliographic, abstract and citation database provided by Elsevier. The agreement enables researchers at institutions that subscribe to both Scopus and EDS to conduct their search via the single search box of EBSCO Discovery Service, access the extensive content in Scopus within the results and be able to link to the full record. This agreement will benefit mutual customers by providing increased exposure to scientific, technical, medical, and social sciences content.
“Expanding the discoverability of Scopus content for researchers is one of our most important goals,” commented Cameron Ross, Head of Product Management for Scopus at Elsevier. “EBSCO Discovery Service will let Scopus subscribers use their library’s standard search interface to widen their search to quickly find information. Researchers at institutions that subscribe to both will now have access to citation data as well as other in-depth analytical tools that will enable them to achieve better research outcomes.”
Scopus is the world’s largest abstract and citation database with broad interdisciplinary coverage. The Scopus database includes the abstracts and references of 19,500 peer-reviewed journals from more than 5,000 international publishers. Scopus offers scholars a comprehensive resource to support their research needs in the scientific, technical, medical, and social sciences fields, as well as in the arts and humanities.
Elsevier is part of a growing list of publishers and other content partners that are taking part in EDS to bring more visibility to their content. Partners include the world’s largest scholarly journal and book publishers including Wiley Blackwell, Springer Science & Business Media, Taylor & Francis Informa, Sage Publications, Nature Publishing, IEEE, ACM and thousands of others. Partners also include content providers, such as LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters (Web of Science), JSTOR, ARTstor, Credo Reference, Encyclopedia Britannica, World Book, ABC-CLIO, The Hathi Trust and many others.
The EDS Base Index represents content from approximately 20,000 providers (and growing), which accounts for more than 350,000 publications from the world’s top publishers and information providers. However, because EDS is a custom solution, the complete index to materials for any given customer may be expanded greatly beyond the coverage referenced for the Base Index. In terms of depth of coverage for publications in the EBSCO Discovery Service Base Index, content extends back to the 15th century, and in some cases, even earlier. The inclusion of custom catalogs, repositories and other resources may certainly further extend the dates of archival coverage for a given institution.
EBSCO Discovery Service creates a unified, customized index of an institution’s information resources, and an easy, yet powerful means of accessing all of that content from a single search box—searching made even more powerful because of the quality of metadata and depth and breadth of coverage.
EBSCO Discovery Service is quickly becoming the discovery selection for many libraries (www.ebscohost.com/discovery/eds-news), and an obvious partner for content providers. Because the service builds on the foundation provided by the EBSCOhost® platform, libraries gain a full user experience for discovering their collections/OPAC—which is not typical in the discovery space. Further still, in the many universities and other libraries where EBSCOhost is the most-used platform for premium research, users are not asked to change their pathways or habits for searching. There’s simply more to discover on the familiar EBSCOhost platform, and the same can be said for library administrators who can leverage their previous work with EBSCOadmin™.
About EBSCO Publishing
EBSCO Publishing is the producer of EBSCOhost®, the world’s premier for-fee online research service, including full-text databases, subject indexes, point-of-care medical reference, historical digital archives, and e-books. The company provides more than 350 databases and nearly 300,000 e-books. Through a library of tens of thousands of full-text journals and magazines from renowned publishers, EBSCO serves the content needs of all researchers (Academic, Medical, K-12, Public Library, Corporate, Government, etc.). EBSCO is also the provider of EBSCO Discovery Service™ (EDS), which provides each institution with a fast, single search box for its entire collection, offering deeper indexing and more full-text searching of journals and magazines than any other discovery service (www.ebscohost.com/discovery). For more information, visit the EBSCO Publishing Web site at: www.ebscohost.com, or contact: email@example.com. EBSCO Publishing is a division of EBSCO Industries Inc., one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.
Covering the world's research literature, Scopus is the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature. Featuring smart tools to track, analyze, and visualize research, Scopus was designed and developed with input from over 500 users and librarians internationally. Its unique database contains abstracts and references from nearly 19,500 peer-reviewed journals from more than 5,000 publishers worldwide, ensuring broad interdisciplinary coverage. In addition, Scopus not only offers users citation information about the articles covered but also directly integrates Web and patent searches. Direct links to subscribed full-text articles, library resources, and other applications, such as reference management software, make Scopus quicker, easier, and more comprehensive to use than any other literature research tool.
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of scientific, technical, and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier’s online solutions include ScienceDirect, Scopus, Reaxys, MD Consult and Nursing Consult which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals; and the SciVal suite and MEDai’s Pinpoint Review, which help research and health-care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.
This from OStatic:
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has issued a missive to French ministers, including a complete action plan urging government usage of LibreOffice and PostgreSQL. But the action plan calls for more. As noted on Slashdot: “He also wants them to reinvest between 5 percent and 10 percent of the money they save through not paying for proprietary software licenses, spending it instead on contributing to the development of the free software.
France is just the most recent in a list of other governments that I’ve seen encouraging the use of open source software. Recently I read about Italy on The H Open:
On 7 August, a law was passed by the Italian Parliament that requires the use of open source software by public administrations where possible. Article 68 of the Italian Digital Administration Code (Codice dell’amministrazione digitale) states that, from 12 August, public administrations looking for a new software solution must either use an application which they have already developed in-house, develop their own new program, use open source software, or any combination of these.
Let me know of other open source government movements and I’ll share that info with everyone … also I have to note that if entire governments can do it … why can’t more libraries??