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Microsoft Confirms Decision To Kill The Surface Mini


Remember the Surface Mini, a device that got axed at the last minute? Microsoft gave it a shout out in its earnings report today.

The company noted in its hardware section that its “[c]urrent year cost of revenue included Surface inventory adjustments resulting from our transition to newer generation devices and a decision to not ship a new form factor.” Ding.

The Mini was yanked from the Surface Pro 3 event at what I’ve heard was the last possible minute. The Mini, so hastily squirreled away, has cropped up here and there in manuals and the like.

Microsoft’s earnings call is now, so we’ll have to see if the company addresses it specifically. Surface revenue for the period was $409 million, down from its sequential quarter’s tally of $494 million.

We’ll have more from the call shortly.

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Apple Has Paid $20 Billion To iOS Devs, Half Of It In The Past Year


A quick update for those keeping track of how well the iOS developer money train is chugging along: As of its earnings call this morning, Apple has paid out over $20 billion to iOS developers.

More surprising than the overall amount, however, is the rate at which the money is coming in. Of the $20 billion paid out since the App Store launched in 2008, “nearly half” of it has been paid out in the last 12 months.

As of January of this year, Apple had paid out $15 billion. That means around $5 billion was paid out in the last six months. By comparison, Google mentioned back at I/O that they’d paid out $5 billion to developers in the past year.

(For those curious about what Apple’s cut of all this was, a quick calculation: Apple’s share is 30 percent, with the developer taking 70 percent. $20B is 70 percent of around $28.57 billion, meaning Apple has made around $8.5 billion from app sales so far.)

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POP Gets $700K To Make Prototyping Apps Easy, Releases Second Version


POP, an app that lets developers quickly turn paper sketches into prototypes for mobile apps, has raised an angel round of $700,000 from ZPark, Golden Gate Ventures, 500 Startups (which POP participated in last year) , and other investors. POP, which launched for iPhone first, also released a new version that can be used to create apps for iPads, Android devices, and desktop as well.

Created by Taipei-based startup Woomoo Inc., POP was launched in November 2012. Since then, it has signed up 150,000 users, including designers at Facebook, Google, Dropbox, Evernote, and Twitter, and been used to create 1.5 million sketches, founder Ben Lin tells TechCrunch.

The aim of the first version of the app was to make prototyping as simple as possible. To use POP, developers simply sketched their app’s wireframe and took a photo of it. POP then turned the sketch into a prototype. Lin says that before POP 1.0 launched, they handed it to a seven-year-old, who was able to figure out how to use the app after playing with it for five minutes.

POP’s second version includes features intended to make it easier for developers to get their finalized wireframes from POP onto their desktop computers for further tinkering in Photoshop, such as Dropbox sync. Duplicate projects, mockups, and links allow users to collaborate from different devices.

Other additions include the ability to scroll, which lets developers import mockups with longer page views; and support for gestures such as swiping, zooming, and tapping so designers have a better idea of how their prototype will work once it is an app.

Since POP first made its debut, more easy app prototyping tools have made it to the market. Some of POP’s most notable competitors include and Flinto. In order to keep attracting users, Woomoo Inc.’s team expanded POP’s range of platforms (which is potentially helpful for developers creating cross-platform apps) and also added new features to make the prototyping process smoother.

“POP is the first to provide a prototyping solution on mobile and it has the lowest entry barrier, which lead to a group of loyal customers when we first launched the service. Since we now support multiple platforms on iPhone, iPad, Android, and even the Web, users can be connected through POP, which is not yet available for other prototyping services,” says Lin.

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Can’t Manage A Standing Desk? Meet Cubii, The Sitting Exerciser


Sitting down — and the sedentary lifestyle it encourages — is killing you, slowly but surely. The problem is, standing desks aren’t for everyone. Making the switch is a big deal. I love mine but it took a week of pain and suffering to go from seat to feet, and it still feels pretty tough on calves and soles after a full day-long standing stretch.

So here’s a third way: Cubii is a sitting exerciser that’s been designed to fit under an office desk so those who are stuck in their office chairs can push its pedals while they work and get some exercise, rather than being entirely sedentary.

The Cubii is a pretty simple elliptical trainer but the design has been tweaked so the trajectory of the pedals keeps the user’s knees low enough not to bang the underside of the desk.

It also includes a Bluetooth radio and there’s a companion app — so your underdesk mileage can be quantified. Top marks for tapping the zeitgeist there, Cubii.

Cubii’s Chicago-based makers took to Kickstarter to raise funds to get their device to market and have now crowdfunded their way past their original target of $80,000, with five days left on their campaign.

The  early bird Kickstarter price for Cubii was $279. It’s now stepped up to $299, with an estimated shipping date of January next year — just in time for your New Year’s fitness revolution.

There’s not a whole lot else to say about the Cubii, since it’s not hugely innovative. Arguably it fills a fitness hole for those who can’t manage the transition to a standing or walking desk. Or for people who have other health issues that make standing all day a no-no.

I do take issue with Cubii’s claim that standing desks are prohibitively expensive. Sure they can be, if you want something super fancy with lots of bells and whistles. Or you can spend $19 on an Ikea Lack coffee table, saw its legs down to size and put it on top of your existing desk — for a shoestring standing desk, like mine.

Oh, and another fringe benefit of a standing desk: loads of underdesk storage space. In my experience it’s a great place to keep boxes of unused gadgets.


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Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen To Talk Philanthropy, Open-Source Education At Disrupt SF 2014


Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen is the founder and president of the Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation, a private operating foundation that functions as a philanthropic innovation lab. The foundation’s mission is to inspire, educate and empower people to give in a way that matters more. Arrillaga-Andreessen is trying to radically change the way we give, and we’re thrilled to announce that she’ll be joining us on-stage at Disrupt SF 2014.

The Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation’s innovation lab uses technology to scale open-source education innovations to help individuals change how they give money and time. They also create philanthropic resources to advance the educational, institutional and individual fields of philanthropy and amplify their measurable social impact. In September, the foundation will launch their first MOOC to bring their expert philanthropic lessons to the broader online learning community.

Speaking of the MOOC, enrollees will have a fantastic teacher in Arrillaga-Andreessen, who currently serves as a professor of Business Strategy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, leading their courses on strategic philanthropy since creating the program in 2000. She also developed Stanford’s first courses in philanthropy and social innovation, philanthropic design thinking, collaborative grant making, and philanthropy and technology.

Arrillaga-Andreessen is well-connected in Silicon Valley. She advises the likes of Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky, on their philanthropic ventures. Perhaps most notably, her work with Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan led to the couple donating $100 million to education in Newark, N.J.

Oh, and she’s married to Marc Andreessen, the entrepreneur who coauthored Mosaic, co-founded Netscape, and co-founded and serves as partner at the powerful venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. The two also run the Marc and Laura Andreessen Foundation, a proactive, strategic grant maker committed to several current initiatives.

Come to Disrupt SF 2014 and listen to Arrillaga-Andreessen talk about philanthropy and how to give in a way that matters more. Tickets for Disrupt are now on sale, and if you’d like to help sponsor the event, sponsorship packages are also available.

Anthony Domanico contributed to this article.

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InMobi’s New Suite For Game Developers Sports Voxel’s Playable Ads


Independent ad network InMobi is touting a new solution for developers to take advantage of gamers’ emotional states to produce high click-through rates on advertisements in their games. Along with tools for including interstitials that look like part of the game experience and ads that give you gameplay bonuses for watching videos, the company’s SDK now includes playable ads powered by TechCrunch Startup Battlefield alum Voxel‘s app virtualization tech.

To better take advantage of the different ad units available, InMobi decided to take a more in-depth look at how ad placement could be informed by gameplay. The company claims that its research shows (PDF) that using these different ads at different points in the gameplay experience can significantly boost engagement by playing off of their emotional state.

For instance, let’s say you’re playing a game like Flappy Bird. You die pretty regularly, which makes you pretty frustrated. Are you going to click on a banner ad that pops up, or will that only upset you more? Apparently 20 to 40 seconds playing something else — the approximate length of demos in InMobi’s playable ads — is a welcome respite when a game is wearing you down. According to InMobi, gamers in this state clicked on its playable ads 275 percent more than traditional banner ad units. 

The following graphic shows which ad unit works best based on what a player is going through:


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