Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Cool and Geeky Ice Cube Trays


Ordinary ice cubes are just so ... square. We strongly suggest livening things up by adding some geek chic to your beverage of choice with the addition of nerd-tastic, novelty-shaped, frigid H2O

Take a look through our selection of frozen-water-making-equipment in the gallery above. If you've seen a geeky ice cube tray we have not featured, please link us to it in the comments below

Homepage image courtesy of Mustard

More about Features, Home, Geek, Accessories, and Kitchen Accessories

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Confirmed: Nokia takes full control of Nokia Siemens Networks after buying out Siemens for $2.2B

nokia2 520x245 Confirmed: Nokia takes full control of Nokia Siemens Networks after buying out Siemens for $2.2B

Nokia has announced that it has taken full control of its telecoms equipment joint-venture Nokia Siemens Network, after it agree to buy out partner Siemens in a €1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) deal.

The transaction had been speculated by Bloomberg — which quoted three sources close to the deal — and full control of the now-profitable business it will help offset loses that Nokia has incurred from its hardware and Windows Phone business.

Under pressure from the likes of Huawei and ZTE, Nokia Siemens Networks was an unprofitable venture that both Nokia and Siemens had unsuccessfully tried to sell to private investors last year. However, a series of cost-cutting initiatives — which included the slashing of 17,000 jobs (just shy of one-quarter of the total workforce) — have seen earnings improve significantly and turn the company into a lucrative one.

Nokia Siemens Network posted profit of €899 million ($1.2 billion) during Q1 2013, which represented a 117 percent increase on the previous year. That’s despite the value of net sales actually contracting 5 percent annually. Profit in Q4 2012 was actually higher, coming in at €1.197 billion ($1.56 billion).

Nokia expcts the deal to be completed during the third quarter of 2013. It says that the business will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Nokia.

Stephen Elop, President and CEO of Nokia, said in a statement:

“With its clear strategic focus and strong leadership team, Nokia Siemens Networks has structurally improved its operational and financial performance. Furthermore, Nokia Siemens Networks has established a clear leadership position in LTE, which provides an attractive growth opportunity. Nokia is pleased with these developments and looks forward to continue supporting these efforts to create more shareholder value for the Nokia group.”

The €1.7 billion, includes €1.2 billion in cash. The remainder will come via a secured loan that is due with Siemens one year after the deal is closed.

Headline image via AFP/Getty Images

from The Next Web Feed

Go Camping Like James Bond With This Crazy Tech Gear


Camping and espionage go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or — scratch that — like peanut butter and something completely unrelated to peanut butter. But with the right tech, you can change that.

Many people choose camping as a means to escape from technology. Not you. You're the person who plans ahead, who always expects the unexpected. You won't buy a watch unless it's also a heart monitor. You don't understand why your friends don't always carry a Swiss Army knife, or why their phones don't also double as a hadron collider. When you're camping out this summer, you want your pack to reflect that. Read more...

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13 Computer Fails From '90s TV


Prepare for a cringe-worthy tech flashback.

Half the fun of watching '90s television shows is laughing at all of the outdated references, from the slang to the unfortunate hair styles. Even more amusing than the giant scrunchies and sunflower hats are the moments of fossilized tech. The computers are humungous and jumping online involves horrible sounds. The internet is something new and exciting to be approached with caution and confusion.

Now the question is how long before we'll be marveling at those outdated MacBooks on vintage episodes of Gossip Girl? Read more...

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from Mashable

Will Apple Sideline Siri Before She Kills Google?


Editor’s note: Dan Kaplan is a freelance Content Strategist and armchair futurist. He has worked in marketing for Asana, Twilio and Salesforce. Follow him on Twitter @dankaplan.

In the wake of Apple’s big iOS 7 reveal, there has been much hoopla and quibbling. The bulk about it has centered around the design choices made by Jony Ive, his team and (apparently) some icon designers in marketing.

Left out of the commentary has been what can only reasonably be described as a lackluster update to Siri.

In Siri’s incarnation in iOS 7, I can ask her to pull up a quick list of someone’s latest tweets or find me an entry on Wikipedia. I can change the sex of her voice. And if she comes up blank on something, I can now have her Google it on Bing, instead of Googling it on Google. At some point in the near future, I will also be able to do all of this in a car.

But what I still can’t do is anything new that actually harnesses Siri’s real potential as a task-completion engine. This is too bad, because that potential is dazzling.

A Short Refresher On Siri’s Dazzling Potential

Fully realized, Siri would change the way humans interact with the Internet. Instead of typing in a bunch of keywords and getting back links, 156-character snippets and ads, you would speak your request and Siri would connect directly to the Internet service best equipped to deliver on it.

The video embedded below demonstrates a piece of this: In it, the protagonist tells Siri to order a pizza: “Siri, tell Pizza Hut to deliver a small cheese pizza, two large pizzas with pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon, and mushrooms, and a medium pizza with only mushrooms.”

While the guy who made this video staged the scenario with a Twilio hack, the central point is that Siri is a search engine that doesn’t just go out onto the Internet and fetch a bunch of links and ads, but actually takes your “query” and executes your intended task.

If you don’t see how that paradigm would be disruptive to Google Search, you might be a redneck.

The Story Of The Siri Assistant

When Siri was just a wee standalone app in the App Store (in that small window between when she launched when Apple snapped her up), she was already more powerful than Apple’s version is today.

Back in those days, she was known as the Siri Assistant, and she could not only buy you movie tickets and make reservations to restaurants, she could order you a cab. You could ask her about local concerts happening in the next two weeks and she’d go out and find out what bands were playing at any given venue nearby.

These things were going to be just the beginning. Siri’s founders planned to add more services over time, blend them with the predictive awareness that you get a taste of in Google Now, and combine both with Siri’s task-completion capabilities:

  • “Hey Dan, your flight to NYC has just been canceled! Would you like me to book the next one?”
  • “Hey Dan, you weren’t at home when your package got delivered. Would you like me to redirect it to your office?”
  • “Hey Dan, you’ve got a coffee meeting downtown in 25 minutes. How about I summon a Lyft?”

Unfortunately for Siri in her days as standalone iPhone app, the Siri Assistant presented too much friction to be useful. The process of going to your home screen, tapping on the app, waiting for it to open, giving it a voice command and getting something back presented too many steps. Siri may have been stacked with some of the best artificial intelligence around, but she was just too damn slow.

Her acquisition by Apple promised to change all that.

Siri + iOS: The Google Slayer?

Indeed, when I last wrote about Siri — around the time of her rebirth as a feature of the iPhone 4S — I wrote that the integration of Siri’s technology and iOS meant that Google’s glory days were numbered. I wrote this for two reasons.

First, it was clear to me (and still is) that, should Apple develop Siri’s task-completion engine, she represented a deadly threat to the heart of Google’s search-revenue machine. And second, given the combination of Apple’s decade-long penchant for innovation and Steve Jobs’ burning desire to injure Google, I believed that Apple would do whatever it took to follow through on Siri’s promise and on Jobs’ desire for revenge.

But now that Siri’s latest update is a snooze and Jobs’ hatred for Google seems to have been laid to rest with Jobs himself, my initial expectations look to me like a burst of premature excitement.

The signs haven’t been good.

  • Apple took more than two years to integrate Siri. Maybe this had to do with hardware limitations, the technical and business challenges of deploying Nuance’s voice recognition, or whatever. But more than two years is a long time in technology.
  • Two-thirds of Siri’s founders left the company shortly after the iOS integration was announced. When founders leave an acquiring company quickly, it tends not to bode well for the execution of their vision.
  • Improvements have been coming in at a trickle, and have been timid, at best. Compared to the disruptive goals of Siri’s founders, her core features (getting sports scores, asking for directions, checking the weather, and setting reminders and alarms) are relative weak sauce.
  • The Apple Maps fiasco. Apple has cash reserves on par with some national governments and at least as much technical competence, but the launch of Apple Maps was a dud. To be fair, doing maps right is very hard and very expensive in people and treasure. But it is nothing compared to nurturing an artificially intelligent personal assistant.
  • For all of Apple’s prowess at building operating systems and shipping the devices that run them, the company has not proven nearly as adept at navigating the landscape of the Internet.

That last point may be the most important one: Woven into the fabric of the Internet, Siri becomes a juggernaut. But outside of it — without seamless connections to the Internet’s wide-ranging ecosystem of apps, databases and services — she remains a fancy toy.

An Uncertain Road Ahead

For Apple, the road to making Siri as remarkable in practice as she is in concept is fraught with technical obstacles, business challenges, and legal risks of every size and kind. But the rewards of surmounting them would be extraordinary — disruptive in the fullest sense of the word: a revolutionary technology that changes the way we interact with machines, shakes up industries, and brings Google to its knees.

Siri’s potential may be game-changing, but more than four years after Apple spent hundreds of millions of dollars on her acquisition, we’re still just trying to get her to understand our words.

from TechCrunch

RIP: Every Product Ever Axed By Google


On Monday, Google will pull the plug on Google Reader, despite much general online despair about the death of the most popular RSS reader.

While this is definitely the most popular tool Google has put on ice, it's certainly not the first. The company is known for dabbling in all sorts of products, and dropping the ones it didn't feel were well-supported

So if you were ever a fan of Google Wave, Google Labs or maybe even Google Buzz, you're probably a little nostalgic for the services of Google's past

If you want to take the trip down memory lane, check out the infographic below, courtesy of Wordstream. Read more...

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from Mashable

Looking For A Show? Builds A Music Video Playlist Of Bands Playing Nearby


Oh, my. I think someone has actually done it.

Someone has built a system that promises to help me find fun things to do near me that… actually makes me want to do fun things near me.

Like many a concept before it, is so simple, yet so clever, that it drives me crazy that I didn’t think of it first. finds a bunch of artists playing shows in venues near you, then builds an old-school MTV-esque video playlist with one video for each band in hopes that you’ll like one enough to go see the show.

Simple, right? But it works so well.

Maybe I’m lame. Maybe I’m just not very good at this whole concert-going thing. Whatever the case, I tend to not go see shows unless I hear that a band I already love is coming to town. Of the half dozen-or-so concerts I go to each year, almost all of them are bands I’ve already been listening to for the better part of a decade. Most of them are bands I’ve seen a bunch of times already. If variety is the spice of life, my concert hopping life is… pretty friggin’ bland.

In the first thirty minutes or so of playing with, I’ve already found 3 new bands I want to go see.

Here’s how works: You pick your city, and it starts playing videos from bands playing soon. That’s it. You can skip to the next band, bring up a big list of all the shows they’ve found happening over the next two weeks, or just sit back and let’em roll. In the bottom left of each video is a “Get Tickets” button that pushes you to the venue’s purchasing system.

And therein lies their business model: they’ll collect a commission on tickets, whenever a venue allows it. If they can get you to buy a ticket, they might make a few bucks off the sale. Meanwhile, all of the videos — the heaviest part of the site, traffic wise — are being piped in from Youtube, so’s hosting costs are presumably pretty dang low. The users finds new bands, the bands get more fans and exposure, the venues make more sales, and Preamp makes money for bringing them all together. Everyone wins! Hurray!

Alas, isn’t a nationwide thing yet. In fact, it only works in four major cities right now: Los Angeles, New York City, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. Every city has different venues, and every venue shares their upcoming shows differently, so building its coverage out quickly might prove to be something of a challenge. is hoping to find a “global crew of local music experts” to help them curate things.

Is it perfect? Nah — of course not — but remember, it just launched, built by a small, bootstrapped team. It’s not going to have every venue right off the bat, even in the cities that it supports. It also doesn’t seem to tell you when a show is already sold out — something which might get a bit annoying, if you’re consistently finding bands you like only to be unable to get tickets. But this concept is excellent, and the execution so far is quite solid; if they can figure out how to scale it up, I see myself using it regularly. was built by Charles Worthington, a freelance developer/product designer out of Washington, DC. You can check out here.

from TechCrunch

Job Hunting? 160+ Openings at Viacom, CafeMom and More


Unemployed, underemployed or somewhere in between? The Mashable Job Board is here to help with your job hunting.

Since 2005, Mashable has been dedicated to providing the hottest digital, social and tech news to our readership of 20 million and counting. Top companies know you excel in the digital world, so they come to Mashable to find the best and brightest minds. New jobs — including those exclusive to us — are added every day to the Mashable Job Board. Take a look.

Below, we've gathered 10 recently posted marketing positions. Keep coming back to the Mashable Job Board for new openings, and don't forget to read our Job Search Series for advice on how to achieve your dream job. Read more...

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Paul Graham's Prescription For VCs: Move Fast, Take Less Equity

paul graham

At the 500 Startups’ PreMoney Conference last week, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham gave a presentation in which he suggested a new way for Series A investments to get done. Graham provided a few suggestions for innovative early stage investors to differentiate themselves. It basically comes down to: move fast, and don’t over-invest in startups just to get a certain percentage of equity.

“One of the biggest things investors do not get about the fund raising process is what an immense cost talking to them imposes on the startups that are raising money, especially when a startup consists just of the founders. Everything completely grinds to a halt during fundraising,” Graham said at the conference.

Graham suggested that as a result, there’s room for an investor to undercut the competition by moving more quickly with early stage investments. If there existed a reputable investor who would invest $100,000 on market terms within 24 hours, they would be able to corner the market on the best startups, he said. That firm would be approached by all the worst startups as well, Graham said, but at least they’d see everything. In contrast, firms which have a reputation for taking a long time to make their investments would be approached last.

Another way that venture firms could differentiate themselves is by breaking from the typical 20 percent in equity that they ask for during Series A investments. VCs are investing too much and startups are raising too much during that fund raising period, but that could change if someone were willing to break ranks and actually invest less, but for less equity.

“I think the biggest danger for VCs, and also the biggest opportunity is in the Series A stage,” Graham said. “Right now, VCs knowingly invest too much in the Series A stage.”

When there’s a lot of competition for deals, the number that moves isn’t the amount of equity that VCs take, but the amount that they invest and thus the valuation of the company, Graham said. In the case of the most promising startups, Series A investors force companies to take more money than they want to raise.

“Some VCs lie and say that the company needs that much,” he said. “Others are more candid and admit that their business models require them to own a certain percentage of the company, but we all know that the amounts being invested are not determined by the amount that the companies need.”

It used to be that startups needed to give up that much of their company to raise money, but those days are over. With that in mind, Graham thinks that the first VC who breaks ranks and starts doing Series A investments for the amount of equity that the founder is willing to sell stands to reap huge benefits.

“If there were a reputable top tier firm that was willing to do a Series A round for as much stock as the founders wanted to sell, they would instantly get almost all the best startups,” Graham said. “And the best startups are where the money is.”

I talked to him about that theory and about how Y Combinator has scaled in the video above. (Skip ahead to about 5:30 to hear his thoughts on changing equity structures.)

from TechCrunch

Tarzan and Vine Don't Mix as Well as You'd Expect


Tarzan Comic, Jerry King
Vine, the video-sharing service owned by Twitter, doesn't explicitly prohibit nudity in its terms of service, but it can get inappropriate when all you're looking for is comedy or perfect loops.

In this Sunday comic, we see how some innocent Vine videos of Tarzan could go terribly wrong

Comic written by Larry Lambert; illustrated by Jerry King. Read more...

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