Ryan Parillo is regarded as a prodigy when it comes to his work behind the camera lens.
The 15-year-old (yep, born in 1998) first picked up a camera at age 7, taking photos of random things around his house. He didn't have any technical skill, of course, but by trial and error he would figure out what worked and what didn't based on the outcome of his snapping.
A few years later, his parents surprised him with a Canon DSLR, but it was too overwhelming to learn. His parents told him that unless he took the camera seriously and really learned how to use it, he couldn't bring it out of the house. Discouraged, Parillo's interest in photography began to fade.
Until the day his sister got an iPod Touch and with it, an app called Instagram.
He soon made an account for himself (@Novess on Instagram) and fell right back in love with photography again. He learned how to use the Canon, and joined a community of Instagrammers in New York, building his following as he posted his photos, some taken with his Canon and some taken on the app.
Parillo uses Instagram as a platform to promote his website, where he sells prints of his stunning photos, mostly of urban backdrops.
Parillo says ultimately, he'd like to study photography in college, and then build a consulting business where he works with brands to promote them on Instagram.
Ryan Parillo is only 15-years-old.
But he has had an eye for what makes a good photo...
...ever since he picked up a camera when he was 7-years-old.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Apple is reportedly planning to change some of the policies in its retail stores, especially when it comes to the Genius Bar, according to 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman.
One change involves giving customers more time with Genius Bar employees when they're in need of assistance.
As the current policy stands, customers can make appointments in 15-minute increments to meet with Genius Bar technicians. However, you need to make separate appointments for each device you're having an issue with, as Gurman notes.
In the future, Apple will supposedly allow customers to create appointments in varying time durations depending on how many issues they are experiencing.
So, for example, if you have a small issue with your iPhone, you may only need to meet with a Genius Bar representative for 15 minutes. But, if your Mac and your iPhone are both giving you trouble, you may need to book a 30-minute session.
There's no timetable for when this policy would be implemented, but Gurman reports that some Apple stores have already begun training for this change. A small scale roll out could happen over the coming weeks or months.
Another more secretive initiative will also come into effect soon. Apple is preparing to train employees on a new effort between August 10 and 28, Gurman's sources say. This could be tied to training procedures for iPhone 6 in-store activations, but that's unclear at this time.
In her first memo to Apple employee's the company's new retail chief Angela Ahrendts wrote that she wants to "evolve the customer journey online and in our stores," hinting that there could be some changes in the works.
Google may be working on a gigantic 5.9-inch smartphone to be released in November, according to a new report from Android Police.
The company is reportedly working with Motorola on the phablet, which will supposedly come with a fingerprint sensor and will launch with major US carriers.
It's unclear what the device will be called, but Google and Motorola are said to be calling it "Shamu" internally.
That size is unusually large for a smartphone. It's one inch shy from being the same size as most mini tablets, such as the Google Nexus 7. Samsung's Galaxy Mega, which comes in both 5.8-inch and 6.3-inch screen sizes, is the only other phablet that compares in size. Most phablets fall into the 5.3-5.7-inch range.
An unnamed source reportedly shared this information with Android Police, and a tipster sent the website a screenshot from Google's issue tracker for developers showing a clear reference to the device. The issue mentioned in the screenshot refers to a bug in Android L, Google's upcoming version of Android that debuted at Google I/O.
Android L only works with Google's Nexus devices, which is part of the reason Android Police believes this could be an unannounced Nexus smartphone. The Android news blog also mentions that the so-called "Shamu" phablet is running on a Google-built kernel, which is usually only present in Nexus phones and tablets.
A kernel is the central component of an operating system that manages the way software and hardware components interact with one another. Think of the kernel as a bridge that allows the software and hardware to work together.
There's been some confusion about what will happen to Google's line of Nexus devices over the past several months. Rumors have suggested that Google will axe the brand in favor of a new Android Silver program, but Google denied any changes to the Nexus line in an interview with ReadWrite in June.
It’s hard to imagine a world in which our smartphones are faster than they already are today.
You can already reach for your phone, ask Google a question, and receive the answer within seconds.
The forthcoming generation of wireless technology will be even faster, but it's not just about sheer speed.
The next major network upgrade will solve one of the most aggravating problems we experience today — searching for a reliable, fast connection.
The primary goal with 5G is to make it feel like the end user is always connected, regardless of whether or not you're inside or outside, near a window or buried in a basement.
Part of the reason we'll need such strong connectivity is because 5G will be about powering much more than just smartphones — it'll be designed to connect smart watches, fitness bands, and smart household gadgets like the Nest Learning Thermostat among others.
First, what is 5G?
The term 5G refers to the true next generation of wireless networks. Since 4G rolled on a widespread scale over the past few years, we’ve seen numerous advancements, including LTE, LTE Advanced, and Verizon’s XLTE, which essentially means the carrier is using more bandwidth.
All of these improvements build on the same core requirements and are categorized under the 4G umbrella. But 5G will be the real successor to 4G, and it will be founded on a different set of requirements than today’s existing network technology.
It’s important to understand the differences between these networks because your phone’s performance greatly depends on the type of network you’re connected to. It’s more than just a little symbol that sits in the upper right-hand corner of your phone.
The jump from 3G to 4G represented a massive improvement in high-speed downloads. It would be nearly impossible to use a service like Netflix with a 3G connection, which is one example of why 4G-level speeds became necessary for consumers within the past few years.
So what will 5G bring, and what will we need it for in the future? Those questions are hard to address at this stage since it’s so early, but industry analysts are already making projections.
Speed isn’t the most important thing
There’s a common misconception that 5G simply means super fast data speeds. That’s because the early testing we've seen so far has emphasized how much faster 5G will be than today's existing technology.
Last May, Samsung claimed that its upcoming 5G technology will be able to transfer more than 1 gigabit of data per second, as MIT Technology Review reported.
To put that in perspective, a relatively speedy LTE connection today transfers data at about 60 megabits per second, which translates to roughly 0.05 gigabits.
A gigabit connection is much faster than any data speeds you've experienced with your smartphone yet. Google claims that even at a rate of one gigabit per second, you can download a full HD movie in less than two minutes.
Next-generation wireless networks will certainly be faster than our connections today, but that’s the least important priority for 5G, says Tod Sizer, vice president of the Wireless Research Program at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs.
“If you say speed is the real thing we need to improve in 5G, you’re missing the point,” Sizer told Business Insider in an interview. “The end user doesn’t really care about speed. They care about what the application [they’re using] needs.”
One of the biggest improvements we’ll see in 5G is the flexibility to support many different types of devices. In addition to connecting to phones and tablets, 5G will need to support wearable devices like fitness trackers and smart watches, smart-home gadgets like the Nest Learning Thermostat, and all sorts of sensors.
“Being able to support a hundred-thousand machines in a given area is what we’re designing for today,” Sizer said. “We do believe that in the future every person will have 10 to 100 machines they need to work for them.”
"In the future every person will have 10 to 100 machines they need to work for them.”
That’s part of why it’s so hard to confirm the requirements for what type of technology will go into 5G. It’s hard to figure out the data capacity necessary to power all of these devices.
“[It’s] not just in terms of supporting more data, but in terms of supporting more usage,” Peter Jarich, vice president, consumer and infrastructure at Current Analysis, told Business Insider. “And that becomes the real challenge. That’s an answer we don’t know yet, what capacity is needed.”
Improving end-to-end performance will be another big focus when it come to 5G, Sizer said. End-to-end performance refers to how well the cellular radio in your smartphone can maintain connections with the servers it retrieves information from.
Poor end-to-end performance isn’t very noticeable while you’re sending a text message or viewing a web page, but it can be really shows when you’re making a video call through Skype or watching Netflix, Sizer said. If you experience latency and lag when streaming video, it’s likely due to a weak end-to-end connection.
Sizer said that this next generation cellular network will also usher in significant battery life enhancements for smartphones and mobile devices. According to Sizer, there are a lot of small tasks that applications need to run properly.
For example, an email application sends a bunch of tiny requests back and forth from the host service’s servers to check for new emails.
These requests, although small, end up chipping away at your phone’s battery life over time. Part of what Sizer’s team is researching at Bell Labs involves finding a better way to handle these requests.
“There are a lot of applications that have all these little messages,” Sizer said. “If I can take care of these little messages, I can dramatically improve the life of tablets.”
Don’t expect to see 5G for another 10 years
Part of the reason it’s difficult to understand exactly what 5G will offer is because it hasn’t even been defined. The International Telecommunication Union hasn’t revealed the specific requirements and the types of technology that will be incorporated into 5G just yet.
Nailing down the correct specifications and setting up infrastructure to deploy these networks is a slow, gradual process, Jarich explained.
The task involves defining the requirements for 5G and the technology that goes into meeting those requirements, such as achieving a certain speed benchmark and deciding which components and antennas should be added to smartphones to meet those benchmarks.
It typically takes 10 years to get a next-generation network up-and-running. Sizer and Jarich say that initial 5G deployment will probably start in 2020, and we’ll see widespread adoption by 2025.
“In order to deploy a wireless network it requires a massive investment of money and effort,” Sizer said. “It takes time to recoup that investment, which is usually several billion dollars or euros for wireless networks.”
Earlier this year, Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korea would invest $1.49 billion into building a 5G network for the country. At the end of 2013, the European Commission kicked off a partnership that would involve the European Union investing $963 million in 5G research.
It usually requires billions of dollars to get a new wireless network fully deployed, and the cost of building 5G shouldn’t be any different than years past, Sizer said. Back in 2012, AT&T invested $14 billion to expand its LTE footprint to 300 million people by the end of 2014. That's $14 billion one carrier spent building up LTE over the course of three years — imagine how much each carrier could spend creating 5G networks over a span of 10 years.
Both Sizer and Jarich agree that the ultimate goal of 5G is to make it feel like you’re never without an internet connection, whether you’re underground or in a remote area. But that doesn't mean wired broadband will become obsolete just yet, Jarich said. There simply isn't enough spectrum available to handle internet traffic without some help from wired connections.
But 5G will do its best to try.
“Those people who were born in the year 2000, they’ve never known a world where they had to share a phone with their sister, where they couldn’t get access to any information they wanted simply by reaching into their pocket,” Sizer said. “And so it’s for these folks who have never known a world where they weren’t always connected, that we’re designing the next generation.”
A new leak claims to show some of the internal components Apple will use in its iPhone 6. The photos, which were published by French blog Nowhereelse.fr (via MacRumors), show iPhone parts that seem larger than those in the iPhone 5s —adding to rumors that Apple's next smartphone will come with a bigger screen.
Nowhereelse.fr editor Steve Hemmerstoffer claims that he recieved these photos from a trusted source.
Take a look at the iPhone 6's alleged circuit board compared to that of the iPhone 5s. The most noticeable difference appears to be its size and the placement of certain components.
As MacRumors points out, the piece that extends across what would be the top of the iPhone 6 is longer than that of the Phone 5s. An even more interesting observation, however, is that the screw holes on the board seem to line up with those we've seen in previous leaks of the iPhone 6's rear shell, as MacRumors also notes.
Here's an image showing the newly leaked logic board for the iPhone 6 over a previous leak of the phone's rear casing.
This purported source also told Hemmerstoffer that the iPhone 6 could come with Near Field Communication Support (NFC), which means you would be able to share content and perform certain tasks by simply tapping the back of your iPhone against another surface.
However, the addition of NFC seems unlikely. Apple has been rumored to add NFC to its iPhone for years, but still has yet to do so. If the iPhone 6 does come with NFC, it'll likely be tied with some sort of new mobile payments feature.
Over the past few months, rumors have suggested that Apple is preparing to dig deeper into the mobile payments space. According to 9to5Mac's Mark Gurman, emphasizing mobile payments is part of Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts' new three-point plan for the future of the company's retail sector.
A previous report from VentureBeat also suggested that Apple will include NFC in its next iPhone. According to VentureBeat, NFC was supposed to be built into the iPhone 5s, but Apple passed on it since the mobile payment landscape wasn't mature enough yet.
Apple is expected to release two new iPhones this year — one with a 4.7-inch screen and another with a larger 5.5-inch display. The 4.7-inch version is believed to be Apple's flagship successor to the iPhone 5s. Other than a larger screen, Apple's next major smartphone could come with a new processor that may offer more battery life and improved performance.
We also may see an improved camera that comes with optical image stabilization, which means it'll be easier to take photos and shoot videos while moving. Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone in September.
The Pirate Bay is one of the biggest websites for downloading movies, music, books, TV shows, games, and other multimedia — even if it isn’t totally legal.
But starting this week, users can now search through that endless trove of pirated content directly on their smartphones and tablets now that Pirate Bay has launched a mobile-friendly version of its website.
Called “The Mobile Bay,” the mobile-optimized Pirate Bay offers the full search capabilities of the popular file-sharing site, but it’s all been redesigned from the ground up to be clear and concise on mobile, according to The New York Times’ Nick Bilton. It’s also the first major design overhaul for the website in nearly a decade.
Anyone using a mobile device will be redirected to the Mobile Bay website, but you'll still be able to access the desktop version of the site if you so desire. The Mobile Bay was built to be just as powerful as the full desktop site, but easier to use. Sure, all the ads are still there, but the layout, large buttons, filters, and search options make the site much easier to peruse on a smaller screen.
“The normal version of the site renders like crap on mobile devices,” The Pirate Bay told TorrentFreak in an interview.
While iOS users won’t be able to download torrents unless their iPhone or iPad is jailbroken, TechCrunch's Sarah Perez says Android users can visit the Google Play store to find a variety of torrent app clients to choose from — same goes for BlackBerry owners — to let you enjoy The Pirate Bay’s multimedia on your mobile device.
The Pirate Bay is also working on adding other mobile-friendly features. One in particular, called “RSSBay,” will offer personalized RSS feeds that let people use their phones to download torrents to their computers remotely.
The Pirate Bay’s new mobile initiatives are a boon for users, as it makes it easy to find and discover the site's wide array of content, but it also works as a side benefit to the The Pirate Bay in a rather big way.
The company’s legal battles with countries and their ISPs around the world is well-documented, but all of these various domains and mobile websites will make it more difficult for The Pirate Bay to be taken down by the authorities, which are consistently pressured by movie and music organizations fighting to enforce the copyrights on their content.
Still, as Bilton points out, many of those same companies say they’ve used The Pirate Bay to their advantage, since it helps show them what viewers are watching.
According to TorrentFreak, the US is The Pirate Bay’s single biggest source of traffic, which “is somewhat ironic, as American record labels and movie studios are the driving force behind the blockades in other countries.” Still, despite the company's legal issues, the site continues to grow. It's doubled its unique visitors since 2011 and people are uploading about 75,000 files per month.
The Pirate Bay refused to share its total number of visitors, but TorrentFreak says its “page views are believed to run into the hundreds of millions.”
In this week's Barron's cover story, Tiernan Ray tackles one of tech's biggest buzz phrases: the "Internet of Things."
Ray notes, however, that the wearable devices and "supposedly smart watches" that have so far emerged from this new category of technology have underwhelmed. But these tepid early results do not mean companies have stopped — or will stop — trying to make wearable, connected devices.
As a result, there are a number of companies ready to benefit from this continued push.
Ray notes that computer chip makers like Texas Instruments and Atmel could benefit from a comeback in the Internet of Things after losing the battle for smartphones.
Chip makers OmniVision and InvenSense, however, could be set for a real boom in a wearable revolution.
Ray notes that Amazon's Fire phone already includes four OmniVision chips, and cites a source close to the company that says, "OmniVision sells 900 million units a year, but what if they get to 20 billion units?"
InvenSense, which Ray notes makes accelerometers, could benefit from wearable fitness devices that track your movement while cycling or playing tennis, for example.
With all of these chips being added to devices, however, battery life is a concern, which is where Ray says QuickLogic's technology comes in. Ray writes that QuickLogic's, "programmable chips can be designed and manufactured and then modified numerous times for use in difference devices," allowing them to be used to maximize battery-life efficiency.
And as chips go in more and more places, NXP Semiconductors, which already provides sensor hub technology inside Apple's iPhone 5S, as well as hearing aids and passports, is well-positioned.
Read the whole feature over at Barrons.com.
Jawbone's UP bracelets are different from other fitness trackers.
Unlike the Fitbit Flex and Nike FuelBand, Jawbone's UP bands don't have small screens on them, which means you can't glance down and look at how many calories you've burned, check the time, or see if you've missed any calls.
But, according to one Jawbone executive, that's part of what makes the Jawbone platform work so well.
Travis Bogard, vice president of product management and strategy at Jawbone, explained that it's really the advice and feedback you get from a fitness app that matters, not just the sheer number of calories burned or steps taken.
"Although we like to distill everything down to a single number, it's more complicated than that," Bogard said in an interview with Business Insider. "So the ability to get things like insights ends up becoming really important to actually driving behavioral change."
The information you can get from a larger screen like the one on your smartphone is more valuable than the small bits of data you can glean by looking down at your watch, Bogard explained.
If a person already sees their progress by looking down at their fitness tracker, he or she may not be motivated to open the full app and view that deeper information and feedback.
"People get bored of the data after a while," Bogard said. "They know how many steps they take. That's because people [competitors] aren't focused on the 'so what.'"
The "so what" that Bogard refers to is the actual interpretation of the data obtained by these fitness trackers, not just the presentation of it.
Jawbone's most recent 3.2 update for its UP app places a much larger emphasis on this "so what" aspect. For example, rather than just being able to log your food more easily to keep track of your diet, the app's Common Pairings feature also suggests sides for you to make the process quicker.
Its revamped Insights engine, which provide daily tips, now cater those bits of advice based on your lifestyle and the information you log.
"It starts to help people really make sense of their day," Bogard said. "I think that ultimately becomes the differentiator."
Buzzfeed Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith announced his decision to fire the site's "viral politics" writer Benny Johnson after finding at least "40 instances" of plagiarism in his work on Friday evening in a memo to staff and a post on the site.
"After carefully reviewing more than 500 of Benny’s posts, we have found 41 instances of sentences or phrases copied word for word from other sites," Smith wrote. "Benny is a friend, colleague, and, at his best, a creative force, but we had no choice other than letting him go."
Questions about Johnson's work first came to light after two pseudonymous Twitter users, @blippoblappo and @crushingbort, published a blog post chronicling three instances of plagiarism in Johnson's writing for Buzzfeed.
Smith initially issued a statement to Gawker wherein he defended Johnson as "one of the web’s deeply original writers" and described the issues identified on the blog as "serious failures to properly attribute two quotations and to credit a source." @blippoblappo and @crushingbort subsequently published another blog post identifying several more posts written by Johnson containing content lifted from other sources. After the second post, Smith posted a message on Twitter that said Buzzfeed was "reviewing Benny's work."
Smith's post about the situation on Buzzfeed was entitled "an apology to our readers."
"This plagiarism is a breach of our fundamental responsibility to be honest with you — in this case, about who wrote the words on our site," wrote Smith. "Plagiarism, much less copying unchecked facts from Wikipedia or other sources, is an act of disrespect to the reader. We are deeply embarrassed and sorry to have misled you."
Smith added the site had " corrected the instances of plagiarism, and added an editor’s note to each." On Twitter, Smith refuted suggestions he made the announcement late on Friday evening in order to minimize news coverage. He indicated Buzzfeed staffers began working on the review of Johnson's work Friday morning "and were at the office til 2 am."
"We hardly chose the timing," Smith wrote.
This was not the first time Buzzfeed has faced allegations of taking content from other sources without adequate attribution. In 2012, Gawker and Slate published a pair of articles that described how Buzzfeed writers took ideas and materials from other websites, typically Reddit.
The memo to staff, which was provided to Business Insider by a company spokesperson, was entitled "What we're doing about plagiarism at BuzzFeed." It was co-signed by Smith, Deputy Editor-In-Chief Shani Hilton, Political Editor Katherine Miller, and D.C. Bureau Chief John Stanton.
"Tonight’s decision is not a knee-jerk response to outside criticism, though we are genuinely grateful to the people who helped point out instances of plagiarism. Nor is it meant as a personal condemnation: Benny at his best is a creative force, and we wish him the best," they wrote. "Finally, it is not a warning that you’ll be fired for a small mistake or an isolated error. We will always have a more forgiving attitude toward bold failures, innocent errors, and misfired jokes than more skittish old media organizations. We have more responsibility now than ever now to keep raising our standards and our ambitions, and to continue getting better."
Johnson did not respond to a Facebook message from Business Insider on Saturday morning. A message to his work email address received an automated response that said he was "no longer with BuzzFeed."
Update (12:20 p.m.): Johnson posted an apology of his own on Twitter Saturday morning:
To the writers who were not properly attributed and anyone who ever read my byline, I am sincerely sorry. http://t.co/WpkZIi4g9k— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 26, 2014
Read Buzzfeed's full memo about Johnson below.
From: Ben Smith <email@example.com>
Date: July 25, 2014 at 8:50:29 PM PDT
Subject: What we're doing about plagiarism at BuzzFeed
After a review of all of his work at BuzzFeed, we’ve decided to let Benny Johnson go.
This isn’t a decision we took lightly. Shani, Katherine, and I spent today reviewing about 500 posts. In them, we found 40 instances of sentences or phrases copied, word for word, from other sites, many of them inappropriate sources in the first place. This pattern is not a minor slip. This is a breach of faith with our readers; a violation of a basic rule of writing; and the reflection of an unserious attitude to our work that is wildly out of line with both our standards and our ambition.
The most important of these principles is that we owe our readers absolute honesty. When you write, the implication is that the words are yours; if they aren’t, you’ve tricked the reader. We are in the process of correcting and noting the plagiarism.
Today’s review has also been a reminder of how much we’ve grown. BuzzFeed started seven years ago as a laboratory for content. Our writers didn’t have journalistic backgrounds and weren't held to traditional journalistic standards, because we weren't doing journalism. But that started changing a long time ago.
Today, we are one of the largest news and entertainment sites on the web. On the journalistic side, we have scores of aggressive reporters around the United States and the world, holding the people we cover to high standards. We must — and we will — hold ourselves to the same high standards. BuzzTeam, too, has, over the last two years, raised its game dramatically, focusing on creative and ambitious work, and increasingly careful attribution.
We, Benny’s editors, also owe our writers more: We should have caught what are now obvious differences in tone and style, and caught this very early on. We will be more vigilant in the future. We will also change our onboarding procedures to make sure that the high standards of training that come with our fellowship program extend to everyone who arrives at BuzzFeed — and particularly to those without a background in traditional journalism.
Tonight’s decision is not a knee-jerk response to outside criticism, though we are genuinely grateful to the people who helped point out instances of plagiarism. Nor is it meant as a personal condemnation: Benny at his best is a creative force, and we wish him the best. Finally, it is not a warning that you’ll be fired for a small mistake or an isolated error. We will always have a more forgiving attitude toward bold failures, innocent errors, and misfired jokes than more skittish old media organizations.
We have more responsibility now than ever now to keep raising our standards and our ambitions, and to continue getting better.
Ben, Shani, Katherine, and John
A new startup, Fixed, is helping San Francisco residents fight parking tickets with a mobile app.
David Hegarty and DJ Burdick cofounded Fixed last fall after Hegarty received five parking tickets in three weeks. Hegarty knew how to contest tickets, but he realized that his friends didn't and often just paid the fine.
"I'm a stickler for protesting all my parking tickets," he told Business Insider over the phone. "I really think it's a racket by the city. It's become a form of revenue. When you start giving officers quotas, people lose respect for the [authorities issuing] parking tickets," he says.
In San Francisco, there are a number of ways to get parking tickets contested. Fixed's team of seven look for errors on the ticket write-ups; sometimes police neglect to fill out mandatory line items, which gets drivers off the hook.
The startup also uses Google Street View to look at signage where tickets are issued; if a parking sign can't be seen by a reasonably observant person, tickets can often be waived.
Without much effort, the startup got noticed by Square founder Jack Dorsey who tweeted about it along with Ivanka Trump. By the end of that week, Hegarty says 25,000 people had signed up for Fixed's waitlist.
In March, Fixed launched its iPhone app, which asks users to take photos of their tickets. For every ticket Fixed gets waived, it charges 25% of the fee the person would have had to pay.
If Fixed doesn't get the ticket waived, it will pay the ticket with a pre-uploaded credit card. Hegarty says his team processes about 300 tickets per week.
The startup recently raised a $1.2 million seed round from Y Combinator, Merus Capital, and angel investors. Hegarty hopes to expand Fixed to the nation's top 100 cities within two years.
To get an idea how much money San Francisco makes issuing parking tickets, take a look at the chart below.
"There are a lot of times where the little guy gets screwed," Hegarty says of his startup's mission. "For most people it’s really hard to fight [a big company] the first time...That’s a perfect problem to get solved by software."
Earlier this year the internet went crazy for beautiful charts of IMDB ratings for episodes of TV shows over time, which showed when your favorite shows peaked. Created by data visualization guru Kevin Wu, Graph TV is fun to explore for a few minutes, and it's also surprisingly useful.
I've found myself checking Graph TV before starting any new show. Sure, I could find ratings directly on IMDB or elsewhere, but Graph TV offers a simple user interface, and its graphs are a fun and useful way to see how a show will play out.
The site is even more useful when you are uncertain about whether to continue watching a flagging show.
After a string of bad episodes in the second season of "Dollhouse," for instance, Graph TV convinced me to ride out an upward trend.
Likewise, after a low point in the third new season of "Doctor Who," Graph TV convinced me to hunker down and wait for it to get much better.
In an email to Business Insider, Wu pointed to "Breaking Bad" as one of the coolest graphs: "It seems to just get better within each season and season by season."
How could you not want to watch this?
In contrast, Wu noted gradual declines on "The Simpsons": "It's marked how the show is decreasing in quality. There's a point between season 14 and 15 where it went from sporadic episodes being better than the average, to episodes sporadically being below the average."
Wu is working on adding even more data, he tells Business Insider — and for the foreseeable future, he's doing all of this for free:
I have no plans for monetization, but am planning a redesign and new functionality. One thing I'd really love is viewership data. I've attempted to reach out to people at Nielsen since they seem to have the most data, but have been unsuccessful. I'm also attempting to add a portion where teachers can use the data to teach students about linear regression. Some teachers have contacted me saying thinking that it would be a good way to use data to educate. However all this is bottlenecked at the amount that I can finish in a day, it's too bad I don't have more time to work on it day to day.
On Friday, Apple confirmed that it had acquired book recommendation service BookLamp, as TechCrunch and Re/code first reported. Apple is believed to have paid between the $10 million and $15 million for the company, according to TechCrunch, although Apple didn't officially disclose any numbers.
It's unclear exactly why Apple decided to purchase the Idaho-based startup, but the company issued a statement saying the following: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
Apple will presumably use the company's technology to improve its own book store, iBooks, which houses more than 2 million free and paid book titles.
BookLamp.org has since shut down its service, but here's a look at what we know about the company and its technology.
The 'Pandora of books'
Think of BookLamp as a Pandora-style service for books. When the service was still up-and-running, it would connect readers to books they would enjoy using its Book Genome technology.
The platform is capable of breaking a single book down into thousands of separate data points that tell you what the book is about, and why or why not it may be suitable for you. Here's what BookLamp CEO Aaron Stanton told Publishing Perspectives back in 2011 when the service launched its beta program:
We do this by taking the full text provided by a publisher in a digital format and running it though our computer...Our program breaks a book up into 100 scenes and measures the ‘DNA’ of each scene, looking for 132 different thematic ingredients, and another 2,000 variables.
So, for example, a user could go to BookLamp's website and search for very specific criteria that goes beyond basic genres, as Publishing Perspectives points out. A parent, for instance, could search for "explicit depictions of intimacy" to rule out book titles that may be inappropriate for a young child.
BookLamp's Book Genome Project can supposedly assess the content of a book just as well as a human can, Stanton told Publishing Perspectives. The company created a training model for its technology by tasking it with analyzing both low density and high density scenes.
As a result, the platform can also provide information on stylistic elements such as pacing and dialogue as well. Using all this data, the service would be able to provide books with similar content and style based on your history.
The Game of Books
Aside from the Book Genome Project, Stanton created another project that aimed to gamify reading called Game of Books. A reader could level up or earn badges by reading a specific number of books within a certain genre or theme. The project raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter in 2012 to meet its fundraising goal.
Each book is worth a different amount of reader points, which is determined by the Book Genome Project's technology.
It's unclear exactly what the BookLamp acquisition means for Apple or iBooks, but a source reportedly told TechCrunch that it could be an effort to challenge Amazon in the space.
Lately, Cisco CEO John Chambers has been predicting that "brutal" times are coming for the IT industry.
He thinks of the top five players, only two or three will be around in a "meaningful" way in as little as five years, Cisco included.
"If we don’t disrupt ourselves, if we don’t have the courage to change, if we don’t change before the market forces us to, we’ll get left behind," he told attendees at the Fortune Brainstorm conference in Aspen earlier this month.
You think Cisco would need a hard, driven, competitive person at its helm to keep the company lean and mean while squeezing the competition.
But that's not at all how Chambers sees himself.
In an interview with Business Insider, he explained, "I’m not a tough person. I cry at movies. (I’m not particularly proud of that, but I do)," he told us.
He also takes an almost fatherly interest in the company's 75,000-some employees.
"I follow every illness of every employee, their spouse, children that’s life threatening. This last week there was a number of them," he says. "It's about getting a person who has breast cancer into the right doctors at Duke, or getting a secondary opinion, or helping someone who has lost a spouse unexpectedly, talking to the person see what we can do."
He has mixed feelings about this approach. On the one hand, he hints that Cisco might carry more fat on its payroll than it should, but that he "doesn't have the heart" to implement some kind of brutal, competitive HR practice, like a stack ranking performance review, where employees are rated against each other and the bottom percent are let go.
"A well-run organizations turns over 10% of their organizations, including senior leadership. I don’t have the heart to do that. But we need to run at 3-5% in voluntary attrition. (We need to do that a little better, we run at 3%.)," he tells us.
Even though he's not as tough on this as he thinks he should be, he's proud of the company's culture.
"You can say we’re too soft, but we are family and it's actually very powerful," he says.
Follow BI Video: On Facebook
What's on your smartphone home screen says a lot about you: How you spend your time online, how you get stuff done, and how you like to have fun.
We asked a mix of CEOs, VCs, and entrepreneurs to share what's on their home screens.
Yext CEO Howard Lerman loaded his screen up with other apps he's involved with — private messaging app Confide and Yo competitor AHOY. He also loves Dropbox so he can pull out financial plans whenever he needs to.
Google Ventures partner MG Siegler is doing an experiment where he replaces one app on his home screen with something new every few days. He's currently using Taptalk, a photo messaging app.
New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo says he doesn't believe in the home screen. Instead, he uses Spotlight search to find the app he wants. He's also way behind on email.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Few tech companies guard their forthcoming products as closely as Apple does.
After the iPod's massive success, Apple began limiting access to information on developing products, both inside and outside the company.
Leander Kahney, author of "Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products" is well-versed in the company's cult of secrecy.
Kahney details how Apple went to great lengths to restrict knowledge about new products to as few employees as possible in order to avoid leaks.
In a section titled "The Iron Curtain," Kahney underscores Apple's intense devotion to keeping products under wraps right up until their launch. This paragraph is especially telling (emphasis ours):
A former Apple engineer who worked closely with Jony's group in the product design team said the secrecy could get exhausting," writes Kahney. 'Out of everything I've done in my life, I've never seen a more secret environment than working there,' he said. 'We were constantly under threat of losing our jobs for revealing any shred of anything. And even within Apple, your neighbors often didn't know what you were working on...The secrecy was like a gun to your head. Make one false move and we'll pull this trigger.'
Because Apple's engineers work in small, closed-off groups, Kahney says designers rarely receive public credit for their work. This seems not to bother them, though, as their leader Jony Ive is effusive with praise internally.
Nonetheless, Apple's commitment to secrecy is impressive, especially considering its size. The company's "gun to your head" attitude about leaks seems to be working, since most product leaks come from their supply chain, not Apple itself.
The Internet Of Things represents a major departure in the history of the Internet, as connections move beyond computing devices, and begin to power billions of everyday devices, from parking meters to home thermostats.
Estimates for Internet of Things or IoT market value are massive, since by definition the IoT will be a diffuse layer of devices, sensors, and computing power that overlays entire consumer, business-to-business, and government industries. The IoT will account for an increasingly huge number of connections: 1.9 billion devices today, and 9 billion by 2018. That year, it will be roughly equal to the number of smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, wearable computers, and PCs combined.
In a new report from BI Intelligence, we look at the transition of once-inert objects into sensor-laden intelligent devices that can communicate with the other gadgets in our lives. In the consumer space, many products and services have already crossed over into the IoT, including kitchen and home appliances, lighting and heating products, and insurance company-issued car monitoring devices that allow motorists to pay insurance only for the amount of driving they do.
Here are the top business-to-business and government applications:
- Connected advertising and marketing. Cisco believes that this category (think Internet-connected billboards) will be one of the top three IoT categories, along with smart factories, and telecommuting support systems.
- Intelligent traffic management systems. Machina research, in a paper prepared for the GSM Association, sees $100 billion in revenue by 2020 for applications such as toll-taking and congestion penalties. A related revenue source will be smart parking-space management, expected to drive $30 billion in revenue.
- Waste management systems. In Cincinnati, residential waste volume fell 17% and recycling volume grew by 49% through use of a “pay as you throw” program that used IoT technology to monitor those who exceed waste limits.
- Smart electricity grids that adjust rates for peak energy usage. These will represent savings of $200 billion to $500 billion per year by 2025, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
- Smart water systems and meters. The cities of Doha, São Paulo, and Beijing have reduced leaks by 40 to 50% by putting sensors on pumps and other water infrastructure.
- Industrial uses including Internet-managed assembly lines, connected factories, and warehouses, etc.
The report is full of charts and data that can be easily downloaded and put to use.
In full, the report:
- Breaks down which products and industries on the consumer and enterprise sides are seeing the biggest investment in the IoT, and what sorts of technologies are gaining the most traction
- Considers where growth will come from in the future
- Sizes the market for the IoT in terms of total devices, revenue, and economic value
- Explores what the building blocks of IoT devices are, how these devices will be linked with consumers, and what solutions the smart objects will be designed to address
- Considers the obstacles that could hinder the IoT from realizing its full potential, including differing standards and uncertain ROI
To access BI Intelligence's full report, Here Comes The Internet Of Things, sign up for a free trial subscription here. Subscribers also gain access to over 100 in-depth reports on social and mobile, and hundreds of charts and datasets.
Facebook stock blasted to new highs this week after blow-out earnings with astounding user growth and vast revenue opportunities ahead.
Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who was an early Facebook investor and currently sits on the company board, is taking the opportunity to call out people who have doubted the company over the years.
The world is awash in data.
The advent of smartphone-based computing had led to much more internet-based activity, as well as new opportunities to collect location data. The consumer stampede into social media means that the tastes, preferences, and frustrations of billions are shared online.
In a couple of recent reports from BI Intelligence, we take stock of how all this data is the bedrock for a new generation of business tactics and applications. We focus on dispelling hype around big data, and describe clearly what it is — and what it isn't.
- Facebook ingests approximately 500 times more data each day than the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Twitter is storing at least 12 times more data each day than the NYSE.
CIBC, a Canadian bank, predicts that information-generation growth will increase 50 times over the next decade. IDC, a market research firm, similarly forecasts a 44-fold increase in data volumes between 2009 and 2020. Carry-everywhere devices are playing a large part in driving this explosion in data.
- Audience targeting and personalized predictive marketing using social data are expected to be some of the business areas that benefit the most from mining big data — 61% of data professionals say big data will overhaul marketing for the better, according to Booz & Company.
- Most companies are underusing data: Seventy-one percent of chief marketing officers around the globe say their organization is unprepared to deal with the explosion of big data over the next few years, according to an IBM survey. They cited it as their top challenge, ahead of device fragmentation and shifting demographics.
Only BI Intelligence subscribers can download the reports in PDF form and download all the charts and datasets for their own research and presentations. Subscribers also gain full-access to all our ongoing charts and in-depth reports on the mobile and social industries.
- Define what big data is
- Look at the top business areas that will benefit from big data
- Examine mobile's and social's connections to big data
- Analyze big data potential, practical applications, and pitfalls on mobile devices
- Look at how big data is collected
- Answer some of the most frequently asked questions about big data and mobile
- Describe how advances in cutting-edge AI research are allowing marketers to classify and extract information from "unstructured" social big data — the billions of photos, videos, and messages uploaded and shared on social networks each day.
In the wake of a string of tech companies releasing their diversity statistics, the subject has become a hot debate around the internet. Y Combinator President Sam Altman thinks that's a dumb thing to debate. To Altman and his startup accelerator, diversity is an important issue that needs to be addressed industry-wide, he wrote in a Friday blog post.
"One of the most insidious things happening in the debate is people claiming versions of 'other industries may have problems with sexism, but our industry doesn’t,'" he wrote. "Both men and women claim this, even though it keeps getting harder to do in the face of shocks like the Tinder texts."
Altman went on to say diversity, especially gender diversity, is important because he believes women will found some of the most important startups in the future. And he pulled from Y Combinator's stats to back this up.
According to the post, the accelerator accepts a higher percentage of applying technical women than men, though more men apply in total. Altman reports that of the 25% of startups who apply to Y Combinator with women founders, almost 20% are accepted. In a separate post, Altman wrote Y Combinator has a very low acceptance rate, so this isn't too bad. He also reports that of all the YC companies worth more than $100 million, 10% are led by female CEOs.
Besides touting numbers and percentages, Altman also detailed some advice he gives to startups to help curb the sexism so prevalent in his industry. Though many startups wait until they have 50 employees or more before investing in human resources infrastructure, he thinks this is far too late.
"Our sense is that many will benefit by doing it earlier. Traditionally, startups have thought of HR as a drag on moving fast and openness, but a well-running team is one of the best assets a company can ever have," Altman writes.
He says Y Combinator has plans involving this concept in process, but isn't sharing details yet.