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Martian’s Smartphone Watch Will Make You Feel Like James Bond [HANDS-ON]


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Skype Fixing Bug That Sends Messages to Wrong Person


Skype announced on Tuesday it will be rolling out a fix over the next few days to correct a system bug that is sending private instant messages to the wrong recipients.

Following a series of reports from Skype users that their accounts were misdirecting messages to others on their contact list, the video-chat company will be releasing updated versions of Skype likely later this week.

The Skype versions affected by the bug that will receive an update as follows: Skype 5.10 for Windows, Skype 5.8 for Mac, Skype 4.0 for Linux and Skype 1.2 for Windows Phone.

“The hotfix addresses an issue that occurs only when a user’s Skype client crashes during a Skype IM session, which may in some cases result in the last IM entered or sent prior to the crash being delivered to a different IM contact after the Skype client is rebooted or logged in as a new user,” Skype said in a statement on its company blog. “Although we cannot determine precisely how many users may have been affected by this error, we believe the number is small given the very specific circumstances under which the error occurs.”

Skype also noted that not all versions were affected — users of Skype 5.9 for Windows, Skype 2.8 for Android and Skype 4.0 for IOS have not experienced any issues.

The company has also corrected an issue with File Sending on the desktop versions of Skype, which prevented users from saving files if they used a hard disk drive in FAT32 format.

BONUS: 10 Skype Chat Tricks for Power Users

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Pogoseat App Spares You From Seat-Swapping Humiliation on Gameday


It’s a familiar scenario for any sports fan: Go to the game and settle into your nosebleed seats, only to spot a bunch of empty primo spots closer to the action. So you give it a few minutes, and then move down. Everything is awesome and you’re engrossed in the game — until an usher shows up and asks to see your ticket stubs. Red-faced, you’re forced to take the walk of shame back to the boondocks.

Pogoseat aims to kill that humiliation once and for all.

The California startup allows fans to upgrade to better seats while at the game, and lets teams recoup some of the money lost on good tickets that go unsold. Pogoseat just launched in the App Store for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and co-founder Evan Owens tells Mashable he expects the free app to be available for Android devices within the next week.

Here’s how you’d use it at a game: First, notice a slew of empty seats, and decide to see what’s out there. Then, fire up the app and sign in using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a separate Pogoseat account. Peruse the app for available upgrades — which, in many cases, will be dynamically priced to provide discounts closer to game time or after the action starts — and pay the difference between your new seats and the old ones using PayPal, Amazon or credit card. Your new ticket will be delivered electronically, giving you the green light to prance down to your new location. Pogoseat and the team split the money you pay for the upgrade.

“When you’re actually there in the moment with your fellow fans around, you’re much more willing to pull your wallet out and pay for that better seat,” co-founder Abel Cuskelly says.

Pogoseat comes embedded in the Golden State Warriors’ official team app, its first ongoing partnership with a professional team. The company has also done one-off deals with Stanford football, and is aiming to finalize partnerships with up to 10 more NBA teams this season, as well as a few NFL franchises during the second half of the pro-football season.

Pogoseat was named “Next Wave Shopping and Commerce Winner” at last month’s iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Austin, which has helped lead to increased attention from non-sports brands, the app’s co-founders say. A phone carrier, for example, could pay for upgrades for a few dozen customers. It would then send texts informing them about the promotion, resulting in more publicity should customers choose to share the deal via their social networks.

Pogoseat raised $500,000 in seed funding last year, and is currently in the midst of raising another comparable seed round.

Would you use Pogoseat? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adamkaz

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In-Store App Smartly Syncs Shoppers And Sales Staff


The Spark of Genius Series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. Each post highlights a unique feature of a startup. If you’d like your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Signature

Quick Pitch: iPhone app connects customers with sales associates 24/7.

Genius Idea: Leveraging mobile to provide an unprecedented level of customer service.

Though online shopping has undergone multiple transformations over the past two decades, the same can not be said for brick-and-mortar retail. Shoppers are still brought in using approximately the same marketing tactics (think direct mail catalogs, window displays, seasonal sales). Product is still refreshed at the same rates and customers still line up and check out, with few exceptions, at cash registers.

Signature, a mobile app company that bills itself as the “ultimate personal shopping assistant,” is looking to reengineer the way consumers shop in stores — namely, the stores of upscale clothing retailers. The San Francisco-based startup has partnered with Neiman Marcus to develop a custom iPhone app to better facilitate communications between stores and customers.

The app, called NM Service, is currently being piloted at four Neiman Marcus locations: San Francisco, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Neiman Marcus’s flagship store in Dallas, Texas.

It has two interfaces: one for shoppers and one for sales associates. Shoppers are able to able to browse event schedules, new arrivals and promotions. As they browse, they can favorite products and even arrange for them to be placed in a dressing room ahead of arrival, Signature CEO David Hegarty tells Mashable. They can also make appointments and leave messages for associates, and see which ones are on the floor. A built-in QR code reader lets them scan signage for trend and product information displayed in-store.

Sales associates’ version of the app has tools designed to help them provide better service. They can view a shoppers’ online and in-store purchase history, helping them better understand their preferences and suggest items that might compliment previous purchases. They can also see which products a customer has favorited. They will be notified when a preferred customer arrives in-store, accompanied by a Facebook photograph.

All sales associates have been provided with iPhones and app training, Ginger Reeder, VP of corporate communications at Neiman Marcus, tells Mashable. Customers can learn about the app by picking up booklet instructions in kiosks around the store, and by speaking to their regular sales associates.

Hegarty says that future iterations of the app will be more personalized. Users will receive notifications about new merchandise based on their previous purchase history, and have the option to list not just favorite products but also favorite designers.

Beyond the custom app he and his team have developed for Neiman Marcus, Signature also has a general platform app which works with two Seven for all Mankind locations: one at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, Calif., and another in the Flatiron district of New York City. A few more retail partners will be onboarded later this year, and an Android version of the app should also arrive in time for the holidays, he says.

Signature currently has eight employees and has raised $1.1 million in angel funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Triangle Peak Partners, Amicus Capital, Don Hutchison and Dave Pell.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

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Glocal Wants to Be the Hulu of Local News Videos



Forget the six o’clock news, Glocal wants to be your all-in-one distribution channel for news videos online. It’s an ambitious goal, to say the least, but the Detroit-based startup has raised $1 million in funding from Compuware’s venture capital arm to make it happen.

Glocal, which came out of beta on Wednesday after a three-year development period, bills itself as the first online service to aggregate local and national news videos, and organizes these videos by city so viewers can find the most relevant news clips in their region.

The startup launched with 1,900 video providers in 68 cities, including New York, San Francisco, Austin and Memphis. Each of these cities has between 25 to 65 video content providers, ranging from big name national publications like CNN and The Associated Press to local news sources. Glocal also uses YouTube’s API to populate it with videos from various outlets and local news bloggers.

“We give a place for news organizations to distribute their videos and we do focus on smaller organizations,” Lincoln Cavalieri, the company’s founder, told Mashable. Of those 1,900 video providers, 250 are national in scope. Cavalieri says he was inspired in part by video services like Hulu, which provide an “aggregation platform” for TV shows, and Vimeo, which does the same for independent videos. “There wasn’t really an aggregation platform for news videos in general,” he said. That’s the niche that he hopes to fill with Glocal.

When users open up Glocal’s web page, they’ll see a list of national trends — similar to Twitter tending topics — each of which has a collection of videos. There is also a map of the U.S., where users can search for and find their city to view the top videos in their area. The service isn’t perfect — while looking through videos in the San Francisco area, for example, many of the top clips we came across were from lectures at Berkeley, which may be educational, but are probably not the kind of entertainment one would seek out in this situation. Still, at its best, Glocal helps to surface news videos from lesser-known publications that might be buried on other general video services like YouTube.

Going forward, Cavalieri says the plan is to release an iPhone application in the next month or so, followed by apps for Android and the iPad. The startup also plans to expand and aggregate videos for cities in other countries. As for revenue generation, Glocal is building an advertising platform that features video editing tools on the site to make it easy for marketers to create videos and then bid to air them targeting specific cities.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr, jsawkins

Get Your Tickets to Mashable Media Summit

The Mashable Media Summit 2012 will explore the impact that technology is having on media, and how digital media is affecting our lives and changing the world. This one-day conference will bring together the brightest minds in media, including content creators, technology leaders, entrepreneurs, social media executives and journalists.

Date: Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

Time: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: The TimesCenter, 242 West 41st Street, New York, NY 10036

Tickets: Purchase tickets on Eventbrite.

A Look Back at Last Year’s Mashable Media Summit

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New Touchscreen Tech ‘Listens’ to Your Taps


When the iPhone debuted with its multitouch screen, people were amazed. Instead of poking with a stylus at the old-fashioned screens on Palm Pilots, users could use their fingers to drag, flick and pinch to zoom.

But touchscreens can do even more — by listening — said Chris Harrison, co-founder of a startup called Qeexo. The company has just debuted new technology called FingerSense that adds a tiny acoustic sensor inside a smartphone to listen for and measure the vibrations of the object that touches it. (The technology can be used in tablets, too.)

The modified screen is easily able to tell, for example, the difference between a fingertip and a knuckle tap — just like any of us tell the difference between drumming our fingers and knocking our knuckle on a tabletop. FingerSense can also register the tap of a fingernail, which has no effect on a regular touchscreen that relies on the electrical disruption caused when someone touches the capacitive screens found on smartphones and tablets.

In a demonstration at the New York Tech Meetup this week, Harrison showed how the technology could trigger additional functions. When touching the screen of a modified Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone with his fingertip, it worked like any other capacitive touchscreen, allowing Harrison, in this case, to scroll through and select photos to view. But when he tapped the screen using his knuckle, the screen showed a popup menu (analogous to right-clicking a mouse) that brought up options such as emailing the photo or sending it to Facebook.

Because it doesn’t rely on the electrical properties of the user, FingerSense can also register other objects. For example, Harrison used a stylus to draw on the screen of the smartphone, even though a standard Galaxy S III isn’t designed to work with a stylus. If touching the screen makes any noise or vibration, the screen can read it.

Trying it myself, I found the screen to be extremely sensitive. Even when I moved my finger ever-so-slowly toward the screen, scarcely touching it — much more gingerly than someone would in real life — the technology could generally tell the difference between a fingertip, a knuckle, a fingernail and a stylus. When I touched the screen as I normally would with any other smartphone, it interpreted the gesture correctly every time.

Harrison is now pitching this technology to device makers, so he didn’t provide exact details of how it works. But he did tell me that it uses a standard, off-the-shelf acoustic sensor that is small enough to fit inside the jam-packed innards of a smartphone — though he declined to say whether it is attached to the screen or placed elsewhere. He didn’t give any indication of whether any company has decided to definitely use the technology, and when it might appear in products.

The choice of a Galaxy S III for his test model may not be an indicator of the companies with which Harrison is working. But it wouldn’t be a far-fetched partnership. Samsung has equipped its Galaxy Note smartphones and Galaxy Note tablets to work with an included stylus, called an S Pen (which uses electromagnetic rather than acoustic technology), to allow sketching as well as handwriting on a touchscreen. And that seems to be a technology that Apple — embroiled in patent lawsuits with Samsung — can’t claim as its invention.

This article originally published at TechNewsDaily

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Startup Gives Merchants Free Tablet to Use Its App


It’s not enough to make an app free. These days, you have to throw in a free tablet as well.

At least that’s the approach that GoPago, a San Francisco startup is taking. The company is offering merchants a free Android-based Motorola Xyboard 10.1 tablet (a $500 value) if they use its app. The tablets arrive fully loaded with GoPago’s LIVE mobile payment software. A Verizon 4G connection is also free thanks to a deal between GoPago and the carrier.

The goal is to further the adoption of the GoPago app, which lets consumers order and pay for goods via their iPhone or Android-based smartphone without having to wait in line. The app went live in San Francisco in April and since then it’s been downloaded 52,000 times. Given the nature of the app, it has mostly been adopted by restaurants, but the company would like to draw other types of businesses, including salons and dry cleaners.

GoPago’s not the only one in the mobile payment space. Square introduced an iPad-based app for merchants called Square Register in March and last month NCR introduced NCR Silver, an iOS-based mobile payment app as well. Neither, however, gives away tablets like GoPago does.

However, don’t get too excited about that part. A GoPago rep says the tablets are dedicated to the app and don’t do anything else. Nevertheless, if yours breaks, GoPago will just send you a new one. “That’s the whole point — they don’t have to worry about any of that stuff. GoPago has them covered.”

Of course, it’s not completely free: GoPago charges merchants a 2.85% transaction fee. That jumps to 5% if the order and payment both come via a customer’s phone. (The 2.85% fee is if you order, but pay in store.)

The deal, which went live on Tuesday, apparently sounds good to some: More than 100 merchants have signed up so far.

What do you think? Does this sound like a good deal? Let us know in the comments.

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Announcing a Live Chat With FCancer Founder Yael Cohen


At 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT) tomorrow, July 26, streaming live on Mashable, FCancer Founder Yael Cohen will take questions from readers. As part of the Young Entrepreneur Council’s program, YEC StartupLab, Cohen will appear live via video chat broadcast on this site.

When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Yael Cohen decided to use the “F word” to fight the “C word.”

Yael is founder, president, and CCF (Chief Cancer Fucker) of FCancer, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading the word about the importance of early detection — and one that does things very differently.

In a very short time, FCancer attracted thousands of Gen Y Millenials, including a host of A-list celebrities, who have participated in the movement and are using their influence to foster awareness and gather support from the public.

Yael has quickly become an influential member of the not-for-profit world. She was invited to participate at the Summit Series in Washington D.C., Miami and Tahoe, Calif., and has participated in the Next Generation Leadership discussions at the White House, the Clinton Global Initiative, TED Women, TEDGlobal, TEDMED and the UN Nexus conference.

The Globe and Mail named Yael one of 12 people who are transforming philanthropy, and Chatelaine Magazine listed her one of the “Hot 20 Under 30” for her influence in the non-profit sector. Finally, she was named one of Fast Company‘s Most Creative People in Business for 2012.

YEC StartupLab StartupLab is a free virtual mentorship program created by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of nearly 500 of America’s most successful young entrepreneurs who have, collectively, generated tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. StartupLab uses a Facebook app and a free, plug-and-play social media campaign to help millions of entrepreneurs, small business owners and startup founders from all industries launch and grow new businesses via live, interactive video chats, educational content and mentorship forums.

Check Mashable tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. ET (12 p.m. PT), when Cohen will answer questions from the audience live via video chat.

You can also sign up for an email reminder of the chat by visiting this registration page.


Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, author (Never Get a ‘Real’ Job), TV commentator and founder of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneur…More

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Spotify Acquires Music Data Company The Echo Nest


Spotify’s platform on Android.
Image: Mashable, Will Fenstermaker

Spotify wants you to spend more time discovering music on its platform, so it just bought the company that’s been helping you do so for years.

Spotify announced it is buying music data company The Echo Nest as a part of a greater effort to grow its global music-streaming service. The financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The Echo Nest, founded in 2005, is known for web crawling and data mining to determine what people want to listen to and make music suggestions. It’s already been working with Spotify for years, but also provides its services to MTV, BBC, Nokia, VEVO and other companies.

“Spotify was one of the first companies to access The Echo Nest’s API starting as far back as 2008, so we’ve been friends with them for years,” a Spotify spokesperson told Mashable. “The overall goal is to get people to listen to more music and make music discovery better for fans.”

The Echo Nest API will still be free to use and support the developer community, which has been a key component to both companies’ successes. The acquisition will also allow Spotify to help brands and partners build out their music experiences for users.

The startup will continue to work from its main office in Somerville, Mass. offices and satellite bureau in San Francisco.

The news comes just a day after on-demand music service Beats Music acquired Topspin Media to help musicians grow sales and increase their marketing efforts. Although the move from the newly-launched Beats Music service is focused on giving artists tools to get music heard, it also ramps up its music discovery strategy, which directly competes with Spotify.

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4 Ways Startups Can Leverage Employee-Owned Tech


The concept of BYOD, or “Bring Your Own Device,” has gained plenty of traction as the mode du jour for budding startups. And it’s easy to see why more companies — both big and small — are willing to take the plunge: The savings involved in allowing employees to utilize their own devices for work can be staggering.

But don’t get too caught up in the savings, or you’ll expose yourself to a world of risk. What companies gain in convenience and extra cash can be lost in poor control and flimsy policy. The unknown elements that can happen with a BYOD policy have led critics to call it “Bring Your Own Disaster,” and it’s easy to see how even the best intentions can lead to a serious security breach or aggravating compatibility problems.

Thinking of switching to BYOD? Here are four things to keep in mind when crafting and enforcing your policy. It’s important to note that the preferences and cultures of each company are different, so use your own needs as a guideline to developing a BYOD system that works for you.

Are you a BYOD master? Let us know your must-do BYOD tip in the comments.

1. Security is Priority


One of the most discussed and visible challenges in developing a BYOD policy is security — ensuring that your company’s IP and trade secrets are consistently protected against hacking. Because employees are taking their work devices home with them, there is an inherent risk that the computer or mobile device can link to a dangerous network or be used for phishing and hacking. There is also no way to regulate the level of information an employee can keep on his or her computer, meaning that vital information could be compromised if left in an unencrypted state. In short, a BYOD policy needs to be coupled with a stringent and universal security policy to ensure safety and peace of mind.

A good way to standardize and implement security on computers is to create a work-specific identity or profile for employees to work in while they’re on the clock. This separate profile can act as a home-base for work-specific applications and security measures and have a different administrator password to safeguard against the transfer of files or workers installing potentially hazardous software. While this step isn’t applicable for much mobile or tablet use, you should consider installing a security monitoring software such as Air Watch to amplify control and detection within a mobile device. In putting these systems in place, you can get the best of both worlds: Employees get the freedom of using their familiar device, while you can feel better about your company’s trade secrets.

Another key piece of security management is providing a safe and effective way for employees to access the Internet or share data. It goes without saying that a highly secure encrypted network, such as WPA-2 Enterprise, with standardized user access is a great way to monitor and control BYOD access. But, it also would be smart to create a pseudo-intranet via an encrypted cloud like Dropbox, which also includes a handy two-step authentication system to bolster your defenses. For mobile devices, it would be keen to invest in a VNC client such as LogMeIn so employees can have a secure way to do their business via mobile.

But, perhaps most important of all: make your employees aware of their own liability. Setting up proper written policy that underscores the seriousness of BYOD — and the employee’s potential fault in leaking data — is key to having a successful program. Ensure that measures are in place that detail protocol should an employee’s device be hacked or stolen, and make it known to them what will happen if their devices are damaged. It’s always important to prepare for the worst, and keeping a written document that outlines everything will make it much easier to deal with challenges in the future.

2. Maintain Universal Software

It can be tough to comprehend that BYOD really means BYOD. In instating a policy that allows employees to use their own computers and mobile devices, you may find that not all of your employees operate on the same OS, and with that comes some complications. For example, 95% of your company could be sending word documents through iWork in a .pages format, but an important team member on a Windows computer will remain out of the loop due to the unsupported file extension in his OS. But minor annoyances can give way to frustration in a hurry — how do you help troubleshoot a single employee’s software system when you’re completely foreign to Linux?

Much of these headaches can be taken away simply by standardizing universal software for work purposes. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a mint in order to get your company operating on the same software. Many freemium software models are browser-based and can therefore be operated on any computer. And, pesky document sharing can be circumvented with ample use of Google Docs or, if you prefer a browser-based option, a standardized installation of Open Office. Furthermore, keep an eye out for mobile applications that are supported for both iPhone and Android, to ensure that all employees have equal access.

By making a conscious effort to standardize software and application usage, you not only prevent compatibility headaches but also unify your team. Employees will not be left out because they don’t operate on the majority system, and IT woes can be minimized because the software is designed for universality. Furthermore, the synergy will keep you in the loop, and narrow down your IT focus to just a handful of need-to-know items.

3. Want to Standardize? Incentivize.


Do you dream of an all-Apple workforce? Or, are you anxious to get your company on the much-anticipated Windows 8 platform? While enforcing a standard make, model and year of a device naturally goes against the BYOD, it can be an ideal situation for small teams to run on the same OS. It’s important to understand that while you cannot demand your employee to change their computer, you should entice them to make the decision through use of incentives.

For example, it’s not feasible to issue $1,100 MacBook Airs for every employee, but you could find it a worthwhile investment to subsidize an employee’s device to a more reasonable point of purchase or perhaps buy the device and deploy it when needed. This system could also be used to issue smartphones: Employees can buy their own and then the company can pay for cell and data service until upgrade or termination. Keep in mind that this, like all other policies, should be fully baked before implementation. Make sure you and your employees know who is responsible for the device and what will happen if termination were to occur, and set up different protocol for different use cases.

While this sounds a lot of work, it’s a tradeoff if having a singular platform is something that’s important to you. This could also give you considerably more control over your IT and move your company towards a BYOD-hybrid that could be safer and more convenient in the long run.

4. Always Keep a Failsafe

The best laid plans always have a smart exit strategy, and BYOD is no different. It’s imperative that you prepare for the absolute worst — a security breach or theft of a device — with software that will allow you to remotely wipe endangered mobile gadgets or computers. This is perhaps the most important aspect of BYOD because it is the ultimate failsafe that can keep your IP from falling into the wrong hands.

We’ve already discussed preventative security measures to ensure all BYOD devices, both computers and mobile, maintain an ample amount of security and monitoring in the event of a breach. But it’s important to consider the option of nuking of BYOD gadgets (and knowing the right time to do so) because it can make the difference in the event of a lost or stolen device. While critics have argued that wiping a device doesn’t account for computers and gadgets that have already been compromised, there’s still a peace of mind that comes with putting a wiping protocol in place. Furthermore, when coupled with an up-to-date backup system, the risk of information loss after a wipe can be minimized.

Because BYOD is still a budding trend among startups and enterprises, it’s important to put as many measures in place to control, distribute, and delete the information that flows through your company. Don’t be afraid to employ a failsafe, or you may continue to wonder what information an intruder could have found instead of cutting it off at the source.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alejandrophotography, ymgerman