Gillmor Gang – John Taschek, Robert Scoble, Kevin Marks, Keith Teare, and Steve Gillmor. Recording has concluded.
from TechCrunch http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/4eBqlTpyZBg/
Google, with its fully decked-out media lounge, backstage "Conversation Room" and end-of-the-week epic party, was inarguably the most prominent of the technology companies at the Republican National Convention -- a list that also included Facebook and Twitter.
That makes sense - Google and YouTube were the official social network and live stream provider of the convention, a role they're also serving for the Democratic Convention. The company streamed content to hundreds of thousands of viewers and also used the event as a coming of age celebration for Google Hangouts, which were all the rage among media outlets covering the event and the convention organizers.
Twitter and Facebook…
biNu, a startup backed by Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, allows owners of feature phones and lower-end smartphones to access apps like Facebook and Twitter. Now the company is getting more ambitious on the social networking side.
CEO Gour Lentell tells me that it wasn’t really his plan to build a social network. Instead, biNu focused initially on making content accessible — whether it’s Wikipedia, the Bible, or a news site like TechCrunch. But users wanted to share and interact around the content, so biNu has been slowly adding social features over time, until the team realized that it was becoming “fully social,” Lentell says. A few weeks ago, the company launched its own social app on biNu home screen, and next week, it’s adding the last big piece, a news stream where you can follow updates from other users.
Lentell came by the TechCrunch office earlier this week to show me the app and its social features. Users can friend others, they can share photos, and they can send instant messages and SMS. It is, in other words, it’s optimized for a small screen and a slow wireless connection, but other it’s pretty much what you’d expect from a mobile social network — Lentell says that even though biNu is focused on emerging markets, its users have “the same social needs and desires no matter who they are.”
There are other social services aimed at feature phones, such as mig33, but the real competitor may be Facebook, which is looking to grow on lower-end phones in emerging markets, thanks its acquisition of Snaptu. However, Lentell says that with the billions of feature phones in the world, “there’s a lot of ocean out there,” so he doesn’t think he’ll be fighting with Facebook for users anytime soon. In fact, as I noted above, biNu also offers Facebook and Twitter apps as part of its platform.
Lentell also notes that since biNu is based in the cloud, the service could eventually be made available other devices too. For example, someone might create a social account on biNu’s mobile app, but they could also log in and access their social connections (and other biNu services) when they’re on a desktop computer at an Internet cafe.
biNu says it currently has 4.2 million unique monthly users.
Everyone likes a happy ending. Even more so, everyone likes a happy ending with an added bonus. Make tells the story of how a victim of a theft not only caught the perpetrator, but how his sleuthing also resulted in a drug bust.
Here’s what happened. Two guys rented a car, left their computer equipment in backpacks in the trunk, and went off to Maker Faire in Detroit. Using a screwdriver, the thief unlocked the car, popped the trunk, and made off with a MacBook Pro, an iPad, and other equipment. His job was easy. The victims’ job was a lot harder.
First, they found a police station and started giving local officials all the information they could remember. The ball really started rolling when a police officer asked “Was there an iPad or any way to track your computers?” The owner of the iPad tried to use the “Find my iPad” service to no avail. Thankfully, the owner of the MacBook Pro also had something similar: he had subscribed to an online backup service called Backblaze. Not only was everything on his computer (personal files and photos) backed up, but there was a little “Locate My Computer” button that was worth a shot.
The first time the button was clicked, it showed the computer’s last position (based on Wi-Fi networks in the area), before it was stolen. Since the criminal hadn’t used the Internet on the computer, Backblaze couldn’t do much. They had reached a dead end, and the case wasn’t exactly a priority for local police:
Officer said to call if we had updates. While very nice, he didn’t sound overly hopeful. Clearly, the officers in Detroit had more important things to do like catch murderers, rapists, and other criminals than find our missing electronics. I can’t say I blame them.
The next morning, Backblaze and “Find My iPad” were still not showing anything. Later in the day though, the MacBook Pro owner was presented with this map when clicking on Backblaze’s “Locate My Computer” button:
Unfortunately, contacting Detroit’s police department only resulted in another: officials couldn’t do anything without an exact address. Thankfully, the thief was looking to sell his car and put a few photos of it on the MacBook Pro, which Backblaze then in turn backed up to the cloud. As a result, the victim managed to get the perpetrator’s address and phone number by doing two things: comparing the house in the background of the photos against what Google StreetView showed, and finding a Craigslist ad for the sale of the car.
The police eventually did the rest:
According to the detective, he assembled a team, and search warrant in hand, knocked on the door of the house. Receiving no answer, they turned on sirens and lights and announced their intention to enter — which they then did, with the aid of a Halligan bar and door ram. Once in, the house was swept and declared clear. Well, except for the drugs.
A search of the house, “designed for narcotics distribution,” yielded “multiple, large jars of suspected Marijuana, multiple individually packaged vials of suspected Marijuana and multiple knotted baggies of suspected Marijuana.” My computer was located in an upstairs bedroom next to a mattress.
Unfortunately, the iPad and other content in the bags still haven’t been found. The victims did, however, learn a few lessons that everyone should keep in mind:
If I had to add something to that, I would say: don’t despair and never give up! Oh, and always let the cops do the actual busting.
Image credit: stock.xchng
It’s rare that any modern-day app can take me back to my childhood, but the brand new and rather intriguing ReadQuick speed-reading app for the Apple iPad did just that — and in a good way.
Back in the 70’s when there were no personal computers or giant LCD screens, I sat in my elementary classroom staring at a projector screen, rapt by the image streaming before my eyes. It was a single line of text, whizzing by as fast as my eyes and brain could take them in. In other words, it was a very early speed-reading device for grade school kids. I have no idea how it worked. All I do know is that competitive, little 9-year-old Lance wanted to read faster than any of his classmates.