05 February, 2012



A web geek’s round-up for watching the Super Bowl

Posted: 05 Feb 2012 09:08 AM PST


The NFL’s Super Bowl championship football game is routinely one of the most watched televised event of the year with over 100 million viewers. But increasingly, people don’t just want to watch the game, they want to interact with it. For me, that means keeping my iPhone and iPad open while the television is on. And this year’s game will actually allow me to use both devices for more than just a distraction during the commercial interruption. With that in mind, we’ve put together a round-up of sites and services that are taking full advantage of the Super Bowl hype.

Watch the Super Bowl online (legally)

While there are probably a handful of tech savvy sports fans without cable (or a reliable HD signal) who were bummed out after the Department of Justice seized their favorite site that was illegally streaming live sporting events. But fear not, this year the NFL has decided to put the game online for free. Starting at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET), anyone on a desktop computer can access a live stream of Super Bowl coverage via NBCSports.com. Not only that, but its possible that the web broadcast will offer a better experience than the one on your TV screen. The video streams are HD-quality, feature multiple camera angles, DVR-like functionality, and lots of integration with social media.

Watch the game from a mobile device

Anyone with a connected mobile device through Verizon is in luck this year. The NFL is streaming the big game in its entirety from its official mobile app on iOS and Android for Verizon customers. Alternately, anyone in Canada that doesn’t want to miss out on watching the biggest American Football game of the year can do so by checking out the official NFL app via wireless carrier Bell.

Watch the commercials online

If you don’t care much about the game, but want to see all the great commercials, you’ve got a few options. Anyone in the U.S. can once again watch the round-up of Super Bowl ad spots on Hulu via the site’s Adzone channel. Thus far, my favorite of the bunch is definitely the Volkswagen overweight dog/Star Wars commercial, while my least favorite is the tasteless Go Daddy commercial featuring Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels.

YouTube is also offering people a way to watch this year’s Super Bowl commercials via its AdBlitz channel. The channel also offers plenty of pre game videos, snack recipes, game predictions, and more. I don’t think YouTube’s video coverage is region specific, so everyone in the world should be able to watch. Meanwhile, Facebook and USA Today have teamed up to offer their own version of commercial watching/tracking with a new Super Bowl AdMeter app.

Following the game on Twitter

Microblogging social network Twitter is also getting into the Super Bowl mix. The site has set up new accounts for both teams — @GiantsTweets and @NEPatriotTweets — that will automatically select and retweet the top tweets from official team accounts, coaches, players, owners and local media. The site is also setting up a way for people to share their reactions to commercial via a new “AdScrimmage” site, which will allow people to vote on favorites. Results from the voting will be announced Feb. 12.

Interactive social experiences 
Social TV network Miso is offering its users a way to get an enhanced experience while watching the big game. Miso’s SideShows feature on  the iPhone will deliver  rich multimedia content during key moments of the game from videos, polls, music and more  — all while engaging with its brand partner, automobile company Hyundai while engaging with the brand. Miso users watching the game will also be able to unlock a badge for their profile.

Sports-specific social network PlayUp is also participating in the Super Bowl action. The site has teamed up with St. Louis Rams Running Back Steven Jackson and Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson to interact with football fans during the game. The two will be corresponding with fans all over the world by creating their own interactive virtual hangouts.

The previously exclusive music social app Shazam has now expanded into the realm of television. So naturally, the company is getting in on the Super Bowl festivities. Users will be able to tag the screen during specific parts of both the game and commercials for a chance to unlock exclusive music videos, prizes, and more. The company is also teaming up with Delivery Agent to offer Shazam users a way to buy exclusive Super Bowl merchandise during the game.

[Image via NFL Network's Twitter account]

Filed under: media, social, VentureBeat

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Google hires a senior director at Apple for a top secret project (exclusive)

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 11:59 PM PST

Google has pulled off a coup by hiring an Apple senior director of product integrity for a secret project, VentureBeat has learned.

The recruiting feat is historic since Google has never hired such a senior person away from Apple. The hiring is also interesting because the Department of Justice is investigating Google and Apple for allegedly working out a “no poach” agreement where the companies — along with Pixar, Lucasfilm, Intel and Intuit — allegedly conspired to suppress employee compensation by not poaching each other’s employees.

Simon Prakash worked at Apple for more than eight years and was most recently the senior director of product integrity at Apple, according to his LinkedIn page. That means he was responsible for product quality across all of Apple’s products, from iPhones to Macs. Apple has the best reputation for product quality, according to consumer satisfaction surveys by J.D. Power.

Now he’ll be working for Google on a secret project, presumably run by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who is in charge of a variety of secret research and development projects at Google. The company recently acquired Motorola Mobility, and it has a wide variety of hardware projects under way that Prakash might be working on.

Prakash started at Apple more than eight years ago as a senior reliability manager. Before that, he was director of engineering design validation at Cielo Communications. He was also a reliability and FA manager at 3Com. Prakash is scheduled to begin work on Monday. We’re checking with Google and Apple for comment.

If there really was a “no poaching” agreement between Apple and Google, it’s clear that it no longer exists. That’s probably a good thing, considering that the Justice Department is now paying attention.

Filed under: VentureBeat

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The evolution of the businessman (infographic)

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 08:00 PM PST

Business EvolutionBusiness is so easy, even a caveman could do it – and he did. What was once the business of surviving has evolved over the years, but with one underlying similarity – the best will outlast the rest. The infographic below demonstrates significant eras of business by reintroducing prominent characters throughout history, a skill set for the time, and tools used and created to get the job done. As you journey through the prehistoric man, the medieval knight, and the poet of the renaissance, you may find yourself looking toward the future, and what we have contributed.

Today's businessman is highly educated and always connected. The technology we have been armed with allows us to take advantage of far more opportunities than those who came before us. Unfortunately, the recession has left many businessmen working harder, longer, and for less. The future is bright, however, the next generation is highly self-aware, motivated, and very conscious when it comes to their health and their environment. With these tools, and natural skills, the businessman of the future promises to be an entirely new breed of success.

Innovation has historically driven our economy. And there’s still hope yet. While unemployment is still a whopping 8.5%, there are changes coming. Obama’s state of the union address made mention of reforms to support the next Steve Jobs.

We live in interesting times. Technology is ushering a wellspring of information at speeds and bandwidth faster than ever before. It’s our very innovation that leads to a new divide between the haves and have-nots. Still, a combination of hope for the future, tenacity, and harnessing our past will enable the businessman to continue to march on and win.

Brian WallaceBrian Wallace is the President of NowSourcing, a premier social media firm specializing in infographic design, development and content marketing promotion. The company is based in Louisville, Ky. and works with companies that range from small business to Fortune 500.

(Click the image to enlarge.)


Infographic via Business MBA

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Before “it gets better,” gay youth still need help. Enter AnonyMouse.

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 02:29 PM PST

“In college, I wanted someone to talk to about being gay and found someone through Craigslist. Clearly a poor decision in retrospect, despite the fact that I did end up finding a mentor who helped me come out.

“However, I don’t want other naive youngsters to be forced to make the same decision and find an unsatisfactory or unsavory result.”

These are the words of Aaron Moy, co-founder of AnonyMouse.

AnonyMouse is a web-based network of vetted mentors who are available to coach young, closeted, or struggling LGBT folks through the tough times.

AnonyMouse is more than just Q&A and more than just crisis intervention, said Moy. It is focused on long-lasting relationships between gay youth and mentors with a range of experiences, from kids and marriage to conservative families and careers in athletics.

We first ran into the AnonyMouse team at a hackathon in San Francisco last year. The Hack for Change event brought together many bright engineers who also wanted to have some positive social impact through their work. AnonyMouse ended up being a runner-up in the hackathon, but the team kept building the concept and website long after the hackers had gone home.

“The version we have now is actually a from-scratch rewrite versus the hackathon version,” said Moy in an email conversation with VentureBeat. “We learned a lot (especially technically) from implementing our ideas but ultimately decided to rethink the entire experience.”

Aashay Desai is the technical mind behind the app. He built a quick SMS-based interface using the Twilio API; the app would allow mentees to talk to mentors simply and confidentially. His stack also includes Node.js with socket.io (via Now.js) and the Express framework. You can read the full run-down on Desai’s blog.

“What started as a pet programming project quickly became a true passion,” he told us. “I began to develop a true empathy for the cause.”

Soon enough, AnonyMouse will include a mobile app, as well, Moy revealed. Also, the co-founder told us the team sees uses for the concept far beyond the gay community.

“I think an anonymity-based platform could effect a plethora of demographics,” said Moy, “from recovering drug addicts and alcoholics to battered women — pretty much any group of people who are too afraid or ashamed to speak to their friends and family and want to speak to others who have gone through a similar experience. An anonymous online app could serve as a stepping stone before you gather the courage to physically attend a meeting.”

Moy told us the story of a young man that he had mentored who had tried many times in the past to find guidance only to be taken advantage of.

“He was also pertubed by the fact that there weren’t any sites that focused on the everyday, closeted gay man. He wasn’t in a crisis mode and didn’t have any particular questions he wanted answered; he just wanted someone to talk to where he could vent and blow off steam. He wanted to talk about things he’d never voiced before, like his attraction to guys in his class.

“Though I was able to help him, the experience was very clunky and took too long to develop,” Moy concluded. “With AnonyMouse, I hope to speed up this process and give anyone in the closet the helping hand they need.”

Image courtesy of prodkov, Shutterstock

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Gamer found dead in internet cafe…nine hours later

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 11:59 AM PST

23-year-old Chen Jung-yu was found dead at an internet cafe in New Taipei, Taiwan on Tuesday night.

Jung-yu was rigid in his chair with hands on the keyboard and mouse, according to local police. He had been playing the popular online multiplayer game World of Warcraft when he died (though another outlet is suggesting the game may have been League of Legends). Reports state that he had been dead up to nine hours going unnoticed by over 30 cafe patrons during that time.

Even after the discovery of his body, police say that gamers were disinterested and wanted to keep playing during the investigation.

The family of the deceased noted that he had been treated for heart problems in September of 2011. While an autopsy is being performed to determine the specific cause of death, this is not the first time an Asian gamer has died after a prolonged play session in an internet cafe.

Recent studies have shown that sitting for long stretches of time can contribute to heart disease. While the studies are aimed at people who work behind a desk all day, they most certainly apply to gamers as well, especially when coupled with a lack of sleep and malnutrition.

Via Taipei Times (warning: includes image of crime scene and corpse)

Filed under: games

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The Internet makes you stupid, but this app might make you smarter

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 10:43 AM PST

Undisputed fact I just made up: The more time we spend online, the dumber and more myopic we get.

Hacker Noah Litvin set out to combat that observable phenomenon with DailyPag.es, an app that works a lot like an online book club.

The app is a simple, email-based system that delivers a chpater of a book to your inbox every so often. Sign yourself into the Art of War group, for example, and you’ll get periodical deliveries of Sun Tzu’s classic manual on martial (or business) competition.

Anyone is free to join in the readings, and you can do so without a complicated login process. Just provide your email address to start getting the book of your choosing delivered to you.

If you’ve got a particular selection you want to read through alone or with a group, you can fairly easily add the text to the site. For example, I’ve been meaning to reread Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. I added the 24 poems in the first “book” of the volume and designated that one be emailed each day.

Litvin has been using Project Gutenberg files for common domain books to populate the site, and other users are adding texts, as well.

“I’m currently wrapping up my senior year at St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, known for ‘The Great Books Program’,” Litvin said in an email conversation with VentureBeat.

“Reading has become a very big part of my life (especially over the last four years), but as my freelance work picks up, I can definitely understand how difficult it can be for someone in the workplace to find time and motivation to sit down and read.”

The app itself is a free side project that Litvin built in a weekend. Although he’s spent a few hours here and there polishing rough edges and squashing bugs, he said he doesn’t have any plans to release a paid version of the app.

“Many people treat their inboxes as to-do lists (including myself),” Litvin said. “If a chapter is waiting in my inbox, it can serve as a welcome break from my day-to-day activities.”

We like the simplicity of the app. It comes without the now-ubiquitous ties to “sharing” and social media networks, and it invites the individual to pursue intellectual growth without egotistically trumpeting that growth around the web.

We can see the tool being extremely useful for casual book groups, for university study groups (or professors who wish to assign extracurricular texts), or for digitally absorbed person who just needs a gentle reminder to read for refreshment and enlightenment, not just the news of the day.

Image courtesy of Helder Almeida, Shutterstock

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Pauly Shore versus the Internet: Funny man takes on online video (interview)

Posted: 04 Feb 2012 09:22 AM PST

Comedian Pauly Shore spent the month of January shilling for a web startup, YouToo, by participating in a contest on the site.

We asked him why he thought a partnership with the relatively unknown startup was a good idea.

“People will ask me to do things once in a while,” he said. “This just seemed cool. Anything that’s outside the norm is kind of up my alley.”

Even over the phone, Shore was the picture of nonchalance about Youtoo, which lets users upload their videos to the site in the hopes of being seen on millions of living room screens as a “Peoplemercial.”

But pretty soon, it becomes that this — the pursuit of fame via the web — is a hot topic that gets Shore pretty passionate.

“The concept they came up with, that’s how people are becoming known now,” he told us. “At the end of the day, it’s about eyeballs, and all the eyeballs have shifted online.”

Shore realized a few years ago that the web was going to be an interesting new playground for comics. His first experience with engineered virality came in 2006 with a spoofed clip seen around the world.

“I did a video a while ago where I got punched in the face onstage,” he said. But it’s all fake, and there’s a making-of video. But the video where I got punched went viral, people were even talking about it on the news.”

“If it’s good, it’ll have legs,” said Shore. “If people spend some time on it, they can actually go somewhere.”

Later, the star started doing more polished online work for comedy site Funny or Die. But even though he was working with professionals and a script, he told us the process was a lot faster and a lot simpler than anything else he’d seen happen in Hollywood.

“That’s the cool thing about the [online video] industry — anyone can shoot anything, edit anything. There’s not a lot of pressure in the process. When I was shooting it, it was like, ‘Hey, it’s for the Internet.’”

And Shore continued to say that online video isn’t just a promotional vehicle for the famous or an American’s Funniest Home Videos-style blooper reel; rather, truly talented folks are gaining an entirely new level of access to Hollywood’s elite.

Referencing the cable-cutting phenomenon, he continued, “A lot of my younger friends are just starting out on their own, and they don’t have TV and cable; they just watch stuff on their computers.”

As a result, he explained, the studios are following the eyeballs to the Internet, and the intake side of the entertainment industry has shifted from audition tapes to viral YouTube clips.

“I have the email address for the head of Comedy Central. I can send him a clip right now. Back in the old days, you could never get to this person.”

Filed under: VentureBeat

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