Archive for the ‘All category’ Category

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Artkive, an app designed to eliminate the overwhelming guilt you get tossing your children’s
brilliant artwork into the garbage, now has another
purpose, too: you can order printed out books of
their creations. Instead of just hiding the child’s
crumpled up drawings and precious finger-paint
covered handprints that school sends home – what is now, like every day? – under cereal boxes and empty bags of chips, you can assure yourself that
you’ve found a more efficient means of saving these
items instead. You snapped a photo of them. The sense of relief is overwhelming, I tell you. OK, I kid…a little. But as any parent will tell you, kids’ art output is overwhelming, forcing you to curate with a heavy hand.
That’s why so many moms (and some dads, too) have begun snapping photos of the art before it hits the
trash. Explains CEO Jedd Gold, who has extensive experience working in kids’ entertainment, including with the
relaunch of nostalgic 80′s brands like Strawberry Shortcake and Trolls, he was inspired to build Artkive after
witnessing this very behavior at home. “I was watching my wife take pictures of our kids’ artwork on her camera, that she would upload to her
computer, and then she would upload from her computer to one of these photo sites. But by then she wouldn’t
remember who created what piece, or when they were created, and they’d be out of order,” he says. “I thought,
‘there’s gotta be an app for that.’ But there really wasn’t.” So he launched one. The Kive Company raised $500,000 late last year for its mobile application that helps you to not just take the photos, but also annotate them with things like the child’s name, date of creation, and other comments. Although the original goal was to make the art archiving process easier – as you can tell by the name – the
app’s small but growing customer base of 105,000 (almost all moms) have already found other uses for it.
They’re documenting everything that you would save for a kids’ scrapbook, including report cards, photos,
other items from events and school activities, and more. One woman even used the app to document the last
seven months of her pregnancy.

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With this expanded focus, the printed book option begins to make more sense. Because as much as I love
my own daughter’s art, I’m not sure how often I’d really revisit it in hardcover book format. But a scrapbook of
her pre-kindergarten years? That I could get on board with. Gold initially tested the concept with an alpha product launched in December. He added a “print” button to the
app, without offering an explanation or any details as to what the final product would be. Despite this lack of
information, a couple hundred Artkive users ordered books. With the app’s recent update, the book purchasing feature has been overhauled. Users can now review and
edit their books, changing things like the title, text on the page, the pictures it includes, and more. Books can
either be 8×8″ or 8×11″, and start at $25 for 20 pages. Each additional page is $1.00 more. Before the holidays, the plan is to expand into gifts, like calendars and mugs, for example. Also new in the recent update is social sharing – something Gold had originally limited, thinking that the last
thing anyone would want to see on Facebook was other people’s kids’ drawings. But Artkive’s user base
disagreed. In addition, Artkive has also recently come to Android, however it’s not yet feature-complete with the iOS
version due to the company’s limited resources. I love the idea behind Artkive, but the app itself needs to streamline things a bit. There are too many manual
steps involved on almost all screens, from sign-up to upload. These are mainly minor inconveniences, but
anything that takes more time that it should – or could – is something that will eventually find itself dropped in
favor of quicker, smoother alternatives…like Shutterfly’s automatic upload on its mobile app, perhaps.

 

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So far, the Pebble smart watch has done little besides offer up watch faces for users to tinker with, but the apps are starting to come in, and today marks the much-anticipated debut of early marquee partner RunKeeper. RunKeeper was an early player in the smartphone-based activity tracker market, and continues to be an industry leader. It was a natural partnership for both Pebble and RunKeeper, and now consumers get to see what the two can do together.

The new Pebble RunKeeper integration works with both Android and iOS apps, and provides the same functionality for both. RunKeeper CEO Jason Jacobs says that his company is very interested in the wearable tech market, and he believes that the key to cracking open a much broader audience for fitness and health tracking tech could be gadgets like the Pebble, which make it even easier to access and use information gathered by tools like RunKeeper.

“What’s really exciting for me is that what people were expecting was that it just makes it easier to have a RunKeeper controller on your wrist,” he said, describing the experience of the Pebble integration’s early beta testers. “But what they’re finding is not only can it do that, but it’s actually more powerful than an app because it’s starting to change the way they’re interacting with the data, it’s more seamless to their experience, it’s not disrupting their flow.”

Jacobs says RunKeeper’s thesis as a company is that that’s exactly what needs to happen in order to help this kind of activity tracker technology find wider purchase among a mainstream audience. “The data needs to be more actionable, and it needs to be proactively given to you so that you don’t need to hunt and look for it,” he said. The Pebble is a good way to achieve that, since it can surface any data that a smartphone, either Android or iPhone, can gather on its wrist-mounted display.

On the Pebble, RunKeeper will display pace, speed, and distance travelled and offer workout start and stop features. It can work with runs, and also bike rides and walks, and does everything most will need to get a lot more out of their smartphone supported workouts right away. It offers RunKeeper a way to compete with wearables like the Nike+ GPS sport watch, all the while allowing them to focus on the tech they do best, leaving hardware to more specialized partners.

“The software is really hard, and we think it’s a really big opportunity, and we want to be the best at the software piece,” Jacobs explained. “Part of that is pushing the phone’s capabilities so that you don’t need hardware, but part of that is also playing nice with all the best of breed hardware that comes out. In terms of being that best of breed hardware ourselves, it’s not in our roadmap or aspirations. It is in our road or aspirations to be a good neighbour.”

cycling_2013This version of RunKeeper for Pebble is just a start, Jacobs says, noting that during the development process they realized they could add in much more, like setting pace on the smart watch, setting distance targets and more. RunKeeper also worked closely with Pebble to get this particular integration developed, and says we’ll see similar UI elements used as other fitness tracking apps come on board. Future work could go into helping RunKeeper differentiate its experience further as the development ecosystem for Pebble progresses.

Jacobs leads me to believe that RunKeeper will be opportunistic about partnerships with hardware companies and other software efforts operating in the same general space, and this Pebble partnership is just one part of a larger strategy to try to find the key to cracking the mainstream market with a product that, while successful, has had more niche appeal up until now. The Pebble is also arguably a niche product, but taken together, it’s possible two things aimed at a very specific audience could combine in just the right way to attract a much broader following.

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If anything on the Internet is like a mall right now, it’s social shopping site Wanelo. Call it the Pinterest for products or the Twitter for products or the whatever for products, the platform is starting to leave “X for X” territory and become its own thing like Madonna or Beyoncé. Search Twitter for Wanelo and you get stuff like this.

It’s up there with “Victoria’s Secret” and “Tanning.” And today it’s trying to further its inherent stickiness with Wanelo 3.0.

Like Pinterest, Wanelo allows you to upload and explore images uploaded by other users, saving the ones you love to collections. Unlike Pinterest, items you painstakingly save, like this Instagram monster cozy, also can be bought through a big “Buy” link on Wanelo itself, and this is what sets it apart. The company currently monetizes through affiliate revenue, but has its sights set on wider (stealthier) horizons.

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Wanelo 3.0 emphasizes the other users part of the above equation, onboarding web and iOS shoppers by directing them to follow stores like Nasty Gal and people like the site’s founder Deena Varshavskaya.

Until today, users on the site and the iOS app (Sorry, Android users, you guys are SOL) discovered products mainly through the “Trending” feed and the search box simply said, “Find products.” With Wanelo 3.0, your shopping graph, i.e. aforementioned sites and people you follow, are aggregated into “My Feed” which becomes the first thing you see when you visit and the first icon in the navigation dashboard. You can now search for “Stores and People” in addition to just products.

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“Today’s consumers make sense of the world through the people around them and expect a social experience for every basic human need,” Varshavskaya explains the philosophy behind the new changes, “We’ve lacked one until now with Wanelo which connects stores and people in one social platform.” The prominence of the follow model could be a boon for brands like Nasty Gal, which boasts over 300k followers and 40k products on the platform.

Wanelo has gone from 1 million registered users to 8 million in six months according to today’s press release, which also asserts that the startup is seeing over 5 million products saved over 8 million times a day, from over 200k stores. Users are spending an average of 50 minutes a day on the site, and, while Wanelo declined to confirm its DAU and MAU numbers, this Slideshare on its scale pegs them at 4 million monthly.

It’s no small feat: Last time we checked in on more heavily funded competitor TheFancy, it had 2 million registered users and was trying all sorts of ways to make it work, like subscription commerce and giftcards. And last time we checked in on Wanelo it was rumored to have closed a hot Series A, though the company has yet to confirm specifics officially.

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What it did confirm, at TechCrunch Disrupt last week, was that last time it had an app update, it included a developer’s name and email in the “Details” section because it updated on his birthday.Kaan Meralan then became the recipient of an avalanche of emails from the fervent Wanelo community, including stuff like this.

I have no idea who you are…but Happppyyyy birthday!!!! :D DDD

 

yes…I actually read the wanelo update thing.  And yes I am about to write you a touching, endearing birthday message…

 

I can’t believe it’s your birthday!  It seems like yesterday you were just a young tot bobblin’ around trying to walk…and now you’re all grown up :,)  OH how the time flies!  I have loved getting to know you and seeing you grow up! ❤ thanks for being you, kaan.  Stay true to YO SELF.  Don’t be changin’ fo’ nobody, dawg.  …aslo on a realistic note, thanks for workin at wanelo and stuff…cuz that site be poppin’.

 

Yours truly,

Brooklyn

(aka your best bud…aka not really, but virtually…aka the girl that would be your actual best friend but I don’t actually know you, but if I did we would probably be besties…aka the stranger that read the wanelo update and wrote you an email to wish you a happy birthday)

 

P.S. happy birthday! Luv you!!! xoxo

Watch Deena Varshavskaya tell the story, below.

Now that we have confirmation that the Liberator 3D-printed pistol can be fired without destroying the body, let’s address what this means for 3D printed weapons and, presumably, weapons in general.

I’ve prepared a FAQ as this story begins to expand.

Does the pistol work? Yes, it can be fired at least once without damage to the body of the gun or the person behind the trigger. Andy Greenberg at Forbes has seen the gun fire multiple times and the video above shows one shot.

Is it a real pistol? No. This is more of a zip gun than a pistol. Zip guns were improvised firearmsmade of tubes, rubber bands, and nails. Kids fool-hardy enough to shoot one (this cohort included my own father who showed me how to make them) were promised a second of hair-raising and potentially deadly excitement. To fire one, you fitted the cartridge into the tube and pulled back on the nail attached to the rubber band. If it hit the charger properly the bullet would fire. A similar thing is happening here: a spring-loaded nail is hitting a cartridge.

The barrel of the gun is threaded but I wouldn’t expect this weapon to be very accurate. Think of this gun as a controlled explosion generator. It uses a very small .380 caliber bullet which is deadly, to be sure, but quite small.

Could I print one? Yes. You can easily download the 3D-printable files from DEFCAD.org (here is a private mirror) and if you have a printer you can easily print any of these parts.

The creators built this gun using the Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer, a high-resolution printer that works similarly to the Makerbot but offers a far finer and more durable print. This printer has a layer thickness of .25mm, however, which the Makerbot can easily match.

Would I print and fire this using on my Replicator? No. I’m far too risk averse. I asked multiple 3D printer manufactures and none would comment specifically on firearms.

Will someone try to print it on home equipment? Probably.

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Is this legal? Yes, but I’m no lawyer. It is a legal, homemade firearm and those have been made in basement workshops for most of this century. In most cases, a Federal Firearms License is mandatory to begin making or manufacturing weapons. For example, anyone building this gun would be a “Manufacturer of Destructive Devices, Ammunition for Destructive Devices or Armor Piercing Ammunition.” Anyone can apply for this license, thereby making the manufacture of this thing legal. For decades, however, the need to license was a minor barrier to entry into what would be a non-trivial process. The tools and materials necessary to build a real gun in your basement were expensive and it made economic sense to legally safeguard your home workshop. The 3D-printed weapon, however, is trivial, and can be built by anyone with an investment of $8,000 or so for a Stratasys printer or, for the less risk-averse, a home 3D printer that costs about $2,000.

It is also designed to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 because it contains a small block of steel. From the print instructions:

How to legally assemble the DD Liberator:
-Print (ONLY) the frame sideways (the shortest dimension is the Z axis). USC18 922(p)(2)(A)*: “For the purposes of this subsection (The Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988) – the term ‘firearm’ does not include the frame or receiver of any such weapon;”
Thus, you can legally print ONLY the frame entirely in plastic, even without 3.7 ounces of steel.-Once the frame is finished, epoxy a 1.19×1.19×0.99″ block of steel in the 1.2×1.2×1.0″ hole in front of the trigger guard. Add the bottom cover over the metal if you don’t want it to show.-Once the epoxy has tried, the steel is no longer removable, and is an integral part of the frame. Now your gun has ~6 ounces of steel and is thus considered a ‘detectable’ firearm. So now you can print all the other parts.

It is, in short, legal to make a gun and this is a gun.

Can this be stopped? No.

What’s next? The cynic would say we will soon see the first murder with a 3D-printed gun. The cynic will also say that this will cast 3D printing in an entirely new, more sinister light and could affect the home printing industry dramatically. The cynic would expect a great deal of messy legislature to come out of this that will, depending on which side of the gun debate you fall on, “get these off the streets” or “infringe on our rights.”

A cynic would also say that the entire Defense Distributed agenda is a massive troll that will eventually do more harm than good. The cynic would also say that a harsh government crackdown would also be an equal troll.

A nuanced approach is absolutely necessary.

The non-cynical would find this to be more a proof of concept than a real manufactured weapon and that it was bound to happen eventually. 3D printing has made manufacturing trivial. This is a logical evolution of an entrenched industry and a centuries-old product. Gunsmithing is not a new hobby. However, it just got much easier.

Mobile security company Lookout claims to have discovered BadNews, a new malware family that’s affecting Android apps.

The company found the malware in 32 apps across four different developer accounts in the Google Play store. Talking about it in a blogpost, Lookout mentioned that the affected apps have been downloaded between 2,000,000 – 9,000,000 times. Google has removed all the apps and suspended accounts of the specific developers, as per Lookout.

Half of the affected apps were found to be in Russian and AlphaSMS, an SMS fraud malware that was also being pushed by BadNews is found to be involved in committing premium rate SMS fraud in the Russian Federation and neighbouring countries such as the Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan. The apps that feature the malware range from Russian dictionary apps to popular games to even innocent ones like apps offering salad recipes.

BadNews works by disguising as an ad network and later pushes malware to the user’s device after an affected app is installed. It sends fake news messages, prompts users to install apps and sends sensitive information such as the user’s phone number and device ID to its Command and Control server.

Following initial activation, the BadNews contacts its server every four hours for new instructions while sending sensitive information such as the device’s phone number and its serial number (IMEI) to the server. The server replies with instructions including displaying (fake) news to users, and asking them to install new app updates. The app updates are new malware apps disguised with names of popular apps like Skype.

The malware acts as a challenge to the people who filter apps for malware at the Play Store as it’s not directly included in the app and comes into existence after the app connects to the malware server.

However, Lookout mentions that it is not clear whether some or all of these apps were launched with the intent of spreading the BadNews malware or developers were caught unaware as they included code to earn money thinking that BadNews was just an ad network for monetization, as it’s disguised as a fraudulent monetization SDK.