A Peek Inside A Tech Startup

This week, I had the opportunity to visit with the founder of one of the many startups in San Francisco. They are mostly in curated workspaces, not the garages of days gone by in Silicon Valley now. Here’s a little peek behind the curtain.


Rumor: Solar Charging iPhone

As the rumors continue to fly about the iPhone 6, here’s a new one that includes an earlier one. We already knew Apple has done a trial production run of sapphire screens, now bgr.com tells us that analyst Seeking Alpha has found that the sapphire glass may actually include tiny solar panels to solar charge your phone.

Smartphones have hit a big milestone…theverge.com says last year, more than a billion were shipped worldwide. That’s according to International Data Corporation. 314 million of those were just from Samsung.

Can’t wait to start making things with that 3D printer? Gigaom.com reports that on February 20th, Makerbot 3D printers will be available from Dell’s online shop. You can also get them from Microsoft and Amazon.

A Few Thoughts on the Mac at 30

Google’s Ad Sponsored Free Ride Idea

Slashdot.org notes that Google has gotten a patent for what they call ‘Transportation-Aware Physical Advertising Conversions.’ In English, it’s a system for arranging free or discounted rides to an advertiser’s business location…in Google driverless cars! A lot of patents don’t ever result in something tangible, of course. If this one does, it will be a huge change that will affect private cars in addition to taxis and busses.

Microsoft’s Surface tablet had a solid quarter with revenue of $893 million…up from $400 million the preceding quarter. Techcrunch.com says it may not be a smash hit for Redmond, but is a big move in the right direction

Here’s something that a South Korean court just ruled that should be done here…zdnet.com reports that they are making smartphone makers give users the option to delete pre-installed ‘bloatware’ starting in April.

Downside of the Internet of Things

One of the downsides of the wired house or so-called ‘internet of things’ has showed up. Cnet.com reports that a smart fridge has been caught acting in a botnet that sent out 750,000 spam emails. No malware protection. That will have to change! A real challenge will then be seeing if appliance and household electronics makers will be willing to keep updates coming to those devices…otherwise, it’s a moot point.

It happened with cameras….film has disappeared, and now the LATimes says Paramount has stopped releasing major movies on film. Other studios are expected to go digital only quickly, following their lead.

Microsoft CEO rumors continue to circulate, and recode.net notes that as a sidebar, look for none other than Bill Gates to take a more active role in the company, providing guidance and opening doors for the new CEO…who may be announced any time now. Is the (obviously Microsoft approved) move by HP to sell computers with Windows 7 instead of the latest version of 8 something Gates might have bought into to keep customers happy until Windows 9 is ready a little over a year from now?

Facebook Looks to Standalone Apps

After coming out with Facebook Messenger last year, the company is getting ready to release a suite of standalone mobile apps this year. Theverge.com reports. It hasn’t been obvious, but Facebook Messenger hit number one at the App Store over the holidays, beating Instagram and Snapchat. A personalized newsfeed and calendar are thought to be part of the suite.

Recode.net says Twitter is just about ready to make in app payments available with startup Stripe. This could be particularly handy when a tweet pops up that tickets are on sale for a game or concert.

With Microsoft dropping support of Windows XP in just a matter of weeks, banks have started buying extended support agreements from them. Slashdot.org says this is because 95% of ATMs worldwide still use XP!

Learn Perfect Pitch With a Pill

A new study has found that an FDA approved drug called valproate can essentially retrain the brain, allowing adults with little or no musical training to acquire some degree of absolute…or perfect…pitch. This is the ability to pick out and sing and name a note with no reference point. CNET.com reports that the drug…which is normally used to treat epileptic seizures, migraines, and manic episodes…reopens the critical learning period, normally gone after young childhood, for absolute pitch. Researchers are now moving on to see if the drug will have a similar effect on learning other information and tasks. It’s not quite a ‘smart pill,’ but appears to be a step in that direction. As an aside…most musicians would call this relative perfect pitch…actual perfect pitch seems not to be learned, one is born with it!

From Today’s Tech Blogs:

In a market where Samsung and Apple are dominating, you’d think rolling out a line of smartphones might be crazy, but bgr.com reports that HP may be getting set to drop a new smartphone in a matter of days. They are shooting for the lower end of the market…under $250.

Twitter has launched a redesign of its web app, making it look more like its mobile apps for Android and iOS. Theverge.com says all the elements: connect, discover, and so on…stay the same. You will be able to add accent colors to your profile.

Microsoft with a phone that runs Android instead of Windows? That’s apparently going to be the case. Before Nokia’s mobile phone business was absorbed by Microsoft, the Finnish phone company was working on a small entry level phone called Normady internally. Bgr.com reports that some clear pictures have leaked out, and the phone is still being tested, and may launch this year. This little Android phone is reportedly what forced Redmond’s hand, and pushed them into the deal with Nokia. Microsoft seems to be hedging their smartphone bets, looking to run duel tracks of Windows and Android phones moving forward.

Laser Bike Light

Riding a bike at night can be a hair raising experience, for both riders and drivers. Even with lights front and back, and reflectors, accidents and near misses happen far too often. Techcrunch.com has a report on an amazing bike light from startup Blaze. It is not only a very bright headlight, it produces a green laser projection of the bicycle up to 20 feet ahead of the cyclist’s actual location, to give a heads up to drivers. Since almost 80% of bike accidents happen whild cyclists are biking straight ahead and a car turns into them, this could really be a boon. It’s rechargeable, and available for preorder for $200.

Android & Apple Grow, and Intel Drops McAfee Name

Android continues to grow at a brisk pace….thenextweb.com reports that the mobile system will be on over a billion active devices by the end of the year. 75% of users expected in emerging markets.

Meanwhile, don’t feel bad for Apple…according to a Kantner market share report picked up by zdnet.com, the iPhone’s market share has increased the last 3 months on the strength of overseas markets like China and Japan. iPhone share is down from 53% to 43% the last year in the US, however.

With all the antics the past year by John McAfee, this isn’t too surprising, but Intel announced yesterday at CES that the name will be dropped in favor of Intel Security. CNET.com says they’ll keep the iconic red shield, though.