Apple’s Tim Cook Is Right, Anti-gay Policies Hurt The Economy

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The elusive CEO of the richest company in the world, Apple’s Tim Cook, has taken a rare step into the spotlight to urge Congress to ban sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.

In a Wall Street Journal OpEd, Cook argues that passing the Employment Nondiscrimination Act is not only a moral imperative, but sound economic policy:

“Those who have suffered discrimination have paid the greatest price for this lack of legal protection. But ultimately we all pay a price. If our coworkers cannot be themselves in the workplace, they certainly cannot be their best selves. When that happens, we undermine people’s potential and deny ourselves and our society the full benefits of those individuals’ talents.”

I’m no fan of bigotry, but is Cook, who is widely thought to be gay himself, right that discrimination hurts the economy? In short, yes, but it’s hard to determine the impact.

A UCLA Law review of research finds that anti-discrimination policies make for healthier, more cooperative, and committed workers [PDF]. IBM-sponsored ethnographic research finds that gay workers who feel accepted in the workplace are also more willing to share creative ideas [PDF]. “If I’m not out at work, I spend more time trying to conceal my home life and therefore not concentrating on my job.” explained one respondent.

To some extent, we’re lucky to live in a country where our economy isn’t held hostage to Congress’s inability to promote equality. Nearly every major company in America supports gay workers and knows they’d face crippling public backlash on top of missing out on top-notch talent by discriminating. The companies most in charge of innovation won’t be impacted by legislation.

Still, every sick, disparaged, and fearful worker hurts the economy. Innovation comes from unexpected places: every fired teacher and bullied teenager makes it that much less likely innovative Americans will ever reach their potential.

One of the godfathers of modern computing, Alan Turing, died shortly after the British government forced him into chemical castration for being gay. Turing’s revolutionary mathematical theorems proved how computers could be more than simple calculators. He died at the young age of 41 directly from discriminatory legislation. Who knows what he could have contributed to computing in the later years of his life?

[Image Credit: Flickr User Goedegebuure]

Link: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/04/apples-tim-cook-is-right-anti-gay-policies-hurt-the-economy/

Thepresent.co Mines Public Facebook Data To Make Choosing A Gift Less Of A Pain

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If you’re in the business of gift-giving, they say it’s the thought that counts. That’s all well and good unless of course you can’t think of anything to buy. Launching officialy today, UK startup ThePresent.co promises to numb that pain-point.

Using its own recommendation engine and algorithms, linked to its database of gifts – ranging in price from £8 to £80,000 – the smart personal shopper asks you to link the service to your Facebook account so it can glean demographic and interest-graph data from your intended recipient. Alternatively, you can fill out a simple survey on who they are and their interests.

Using this data, the web app will suggest suitable gift ideas within the target price you enter, let you go on to purchase the gift from the merchants it works with, wrap the gift and dispatch it for delivery. In theory, it’s a company after my own heart.

Yet, when I took the app for a brief spin, I was faced with further indecision: should I link ThePresent.co to my Facebook account and send it off to mine (albeit, publicly available) data on my intended recipient. I hate handing any app the keys to my social media profiles at the best of times, but when it’s for the purpose of interrogating data on my friends without their explicit permission, my uneasiness increases. Opting out of Facebook and filling out a survey also feels a little intrusive, not least because the first thing that ThePresent.co asks for is the name of your intended recipient.

More broadly it opens up a whole can of worms around who not only owns your data, but how that data can be used by the friends you’ve connected with on various services, even if that data is publicly scrape-able anyway.

However, in the case of ThePresent.co, I likely have nothing to worry about. “We are really against spam and the misuse of data in general, it’s for that reason that we never store any data after a search,” says CEO and co-founder David Yalland.

“On your question around storing data, we absolutely allow people to bypass Facebook. Whether you are nervous around using Facebook Connect or simply that the person you are buying for may not be connected to you (i.e. your Grandmother), then you can just use the dynamic hints filters (i.e. style / interests) to allow our technology to still recommend a relevant selection of gifts for the recipient.”

(I’d humbly suggest that the site makes its no data storage policy clearer from the outset.)

And certainly, for a time limited shopper (read: lazy) like me, a service like ThePresent.co does make a lot of sense, although it will be dependent on the reliability and quality of its recommendation engine and inventory of gifts.

Its founding team looks decent, too. Alongside CEO Yalland, it comprises Rupert Hambro (former Chairman of Hambros Bank, currently Chairman of JO Hambro), COO Charlotte-Anne Swerling (former Balderton VC), and Chairman Dominic Perks (serial entrepreneur and active investor).

Meanwhile, ThePresent.co is backed to the tune of £1.5m from various London-based investors, including a Goldman Sachs syndicate.

Go: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/18/its-the-thought-that-counts/

Metromile Launches Per Mile Car Insurance And Free Driving Analytics Device

Steve Pretre and Dan Preston

Seventy percent of American car owners overpay for insurance because they don’t drive much. Luckily, today MetroMile comes out of stealth to launch its per mile car insurance. The $14 million-funded MetroMile gives away a plug-in device for your car that connects to a free app that teaches you how to spend less on gas and shorten commutes. If you drive under 10,000 miles a year, you can buy its insurance to save an average of $400 a year.

“The existing instance companies want to see us fail”, MetroMile co-founder and CEO Steve Pretre tells me. I’m inside the startup’s hip gallery-style office space behind The Creamery in San Francisco, where little brown boxes covered most of the services. MetroMile was frantically preparing to ship 10,000 of its free car analytics devices today, – devices that could disrupt the whole car insurance business.

Data-Driven

You see, until now, insurance companies couldn’t measure how much people actually drive. They couldn’t tell who drove tens or hundreds of thousands a mile a year and who drove just a few. So instead they the 70% of car owners who drive less than the mean subsidize those who drive much more. Pretre exclaims “that’s not fair.”

If you live in a city, you probably don’t drive much. You park it and use a bike, public transportation, or car service like Uber during the week; but drive for recreation or errands on weekends. “For these people, insurance can be over half the annual cost of the vehicle. They’re paying a lot for insurance but not using the car much” Pretre explains.

Dave Friedberg had a revelation two years ago while running The Climate Corporation, a startup that used weather prediction machine learning to sell real-time priced crop insurance to farmers. Friedberg sold The Climate Corporation to Monsanto for roughly $1.1 billion. But by 2011, he’d already realized that transparent pricing for insurance could be revolutionary for urban car owners, not just rural farmers. MetroMile was born.

Soon Friedberg had raised $4 million from First Round Ventures and SV Angel as well as Climate Corp investors NEA and Index Ventures. Friedberg became chairman of the board to concentrate his day to day on Climate Corp, but assembled a team of including Pretre, who’d worked at insurance-related companies like Asurion and Risk Management Solutions, and CTO Dan Preston, the former CTO of AisleBuyer which was acquired by Intuit.  In April 2013 the squad raised another $10 million from existing investors as well as AmTrust Ventures, Allen and Company, and Felicis Ventures, and set off to change the way we drive.

A FitBit For Your Car

It starts today, as MetroMile distributes 10,000 of its free Metronome devices that plug into the diagnostic system under the dashboard of any car made since 1996. The GPS and cellular-activated box reads various metrics and diagnostic codes from your car, and relays the info to the MetroMile iOS app on your smartphone. ”The devices are pretty much off the shelf. We focus on the software layer” Pretre tells me.

The iOS app (Android in development) shows you miles per gallon, how much that gas costs you, the minutes you spend driving, and a slew of weekly summary statistics. Over time it tracks your common commutes, and can tell you which routes get you there the fastest and cheapest. It’s like Waze but that factors in gas costs. The MetroMile insights go as deep as to tell you that if you started your commute 10 minutes earlier each day, you’d save 15 minutes in traffic and $30 a month on gas.

MetroMile’s app even helps you call roadside assistance, report a broken window, or a keep a copy of your proof of insurance card.

The Metronome’s GPS also allows it to function as a great “find my car” app, and even track down your vehicle if its towed or stolen (though the device can be ripped out so it’s not sold as a Lojack competitor). “One customer had a Ferris Bueller moment and said she found her mechanic was using her car to drive to the mall” Pretre laughs.

The device will compete with other car analytics systems like Y Combinator’s Automatic, whose device provides real-time driving feedback by beeping when you stop or start too fast. There’s also the Kickstarted Dash dongle, crash detection plug-in Splitsecnd, car health checker apps/devices CarvoyantCarMD, AutoMD, and RepairPal. The problem is most of these devices cost an upfront fee, charge a subscription, or run off Bluetooth tethered to your car. MetroMile’s free device and cellular service could help it grow faster than competitors.

Fair-Priced Insurance

MetroMile can give away its app and device for free because it plans to earn money selling insurance. Today, its pay by the mile insurance service launches in private beta in the state of Washington after a successful alpha test in Oregon. The startup is pushing hard to get the insurance plans approved in more states by the beginning of 2014, and every state eventually.

MetroMile insurance works just like any other plan. It assesses your demographic and driving history, and you get an array of deductible and liability options. What’s new is that your final price includes a base price but is mostly made up of a per mile rate that averages around two to four cents.

If you drive under 10,000 miles a year you’ll save money, and tests find the average customer who does saves $400 a year, or about 40% off their insurance bill. And if you go on a road trip, you won’t pay past 150 miles a day in Oregon or 250 miles a day in Washington, so it still works if the open highway calls to you on occasion.

“The best customers are being discriminated against, because traditional models are priced off of averages. If you’re a good customer, the models aren’t aligned with you” Pretre notes.

Though MetroMile is a startup, it essentially white-labels the insurance from a major carrier that carries the risk and pays out if there’s an accident. MetroMile gets a cut of the insurance fees.

Typically the car insurance business has 65% of fees paid out as claims, and a 5% margin after factoring in marketing costs, which are big since so many insurance plans are essentially the same. MetroMile hopes the other services it offers will bring in customers, so it can make a bigger cut because it handles sales but doesn’t have to buy television ads.

The model could uproot the insurance business, which Pretre tells me “still runs on mainframes. We threaten the model they’ve put in place. They’re reluctant to see this model succeed because they would have to restructure their model and cannibalize their existing business” Pretre says. “We’re a significant challenge to them…and insurance is a $180 billion a year market in the US.”

These old, giant companies aren’t to be underestimated, but I think MetroMile has a really appealing value proposition

“You Own The Car, We Take Care Of Everything Else”

“It’s about fairness, simplicity, and transparency. The data in the car should be an asset to the consumer. Insurance is the first proof point that we can take a complex service, reinvent it, and deliver it” Pretre says, looking to the future.

Eventually, MetroMile wants to put these values to work on car maintenance and gas pricing. It could tell you where the best place to fill up your car along your route is. And in what could be a huge wallet-saver, the app could give you a read-out of all the issues with your car so when you go to the mechanic, they can’t scam you. Pretre says “When the ‘check engine’ light comes on it shouldn’t be a moment off fear for the customer. We’ll take care of it for you.”

With Metronome boxes piled high around the office and just a few days to launch, CTO Dan Preston concludes “Driving used to be fun. Taking kids to the lake. Now it’s a commenting hassle, you have all these stresses around it.  We want to give people a chance to enjoy driving again.”

You can sign up now for MetroMile insurance in Oregon and Washington, and people there and in San Francisco can get a free Metronome.

More: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/19/metromile/

Vota Por El Fail De 2013 [pila De Oro]

La mayor parte del tiempo no queremos que las cosas salgan mal, pero existe la Ley de Murphy y lo impredecible, los accidentes y las negligencias, y todo puede resultar peor. Así, llegó el momento de votar por el Fail de 2013, aquel suceso, producto o situación que se merece una Pila de Oro por salir tan pero tan mal.

Este año las nominaciones nos dejaron la siguiente lista:

PRISM y la NSA

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Dos publicaciones en el Washington Post y The Guardian dieron la alarma: El gobierno de Estados Unidos estaba recolectando una cantidad masiva de datos de personas de todo el mundo. El plan original era combatir el terrorismo, sin embargo, de paso se viola la privacidad de millones de ciudadanos y se espía a personas que no han sido sospechosas de ningún tipo de crimen. PRISM fue el primer programa dado a conocer, sin embargo, con el correr de los meses se destaparon una serie de sistemas usados por la NSA, el GCHQ británico y otras agencias de espionaje para obtener datos de servicios en Internet, llamadas telefónicas y más.

Es un Fail porque EE.UU. sigue intentando justificar la operación de estos planes, y todavía no se han logrado tomar medidas para detener el espionaje. Además, las reacciones de los demás países podrían provocar cambios permanentes en la forma en que funciona Internet.

Windows RT

Microsoft Surface RT

“RT” fue el sufijo que le puso Microsoft a la versión de Windows que corre sobre procesadores ARM, disponibles en la mayoría de los tablets. Para un comprador común, sin embargo, sólo resultaba en una confusión: Los equipos se veían igual, Windows funcionaba (casi) igual, y al final había desconfianza respecto a por qué se debía preferir una u otra versión. Así, las ventas de los equipos RT terminaron siendo malas.

El problema persiste, pero Microsoft desistió de usar el nombre “RT” y está tratando de clarificar de qué se trata, separando más claramente a los tablets de los equipos para trabajar.

iPhone 5c

iphone5c2Aunque Apple nunca llamaría “cheap” a un producto, muchos esperaban que la “c” del iPhone 5c diera inicio a una gama de equipos más accesibles, dirigido a mercados emergentes y de gran crecimiento, como China. Sin embargo, la “c” sólo era de color, y el precio del aparato no podría ubicarlo jamás en la gama baja o gama media. Aun así, Apple no parece preocupado.

BlackBerry

(cc) Janitors / Flickr (cc) Janitors / Flickr

Fue un año bastante malo para BlackBerry en general. Después de tratar de sorprender con un renovado sistema operativo y una nueva gama de equipos, la compañía terminó evaluando ponerse a la venta. Recibió una oferta, la que luego fracasó y provocó la salida del CEO, Thorsten Heins. Nadie sabe qué ocurrirá ahora con la empresa. Puede que salga otro comprador, pero en cualquier caso la competencia en el mundo de los smartphones ya está muy cuesta arriba, con la disputa entre Android, iOS y Windows Phone.

Facebook Home

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Facebook anunció con bombos y platillos a través de una conferencia mundial Home, un launcher para Android que cambia la interfaz para que veas actualizaciones de Facebook cada vez que enciendes el teléfono. Según la compañía, la idea era poner a las personas al centro del smartphone, usando la información de la red social. De cierta forma Facebook se apoderaba de todos los aspectos de tu teléfono. Pero la app apenas logró una calificación de 2,6 en la tienda Google Play, y nunca se hizo popular.






Este artículo, fue publicado originalmente aquí: http://www.fayerwayer.com/2013/11/vota-por-el-fail-de-2013-pila-de-oro/

How To Understand All The Features Of Your Ipad


An iPad can be many things to many people. By adding a keyboard, you can use it as a word processing tool. With a joystick, you can game well. Apps can also completely change the way you see your iPad. The tips here are going to help you do what you want with the iPad and even more.



Watch how much money you spend on apps. It’s easy to rack up credit card bills with such engaging and entertaining applications that are just a click away. You should monitor the spending and limit the time to a strict deadline.



Almost everyone finds it difficult to accurately type on a tablet’s keyboard. That said, a button for speech dictation exists on your iPad. Simply depress your home button two times, and hit the small microphone icon. When you are finished you just hit the microphone again and the text will appear on the screen.



Your iPad is defaulted to show the first two lines of an email in preview. It is helpful sometimes to get a preview of the email contact. Go to ‘mail’ under ‘settings’. You should then choose contacts. tap on calendar and adjust the preview mail option.



If you would like to include your Google Calender on your iPad’s calender app, go to mail, then contacts and then calenders. Go to Add An Account and tap Other. Tap the Add CalDAV Account icon and put in your Google information. Then exit the settings appplication. Next, tap your calendar app. Your information should now be there!



Because the iPad is not the cheapest gadget around, it’s important that you care for it properly. Get a screen protection if you plan on transporting your iPad. Although the screen protectors are made of plastic and are very thin, they can help protect the screen of your iPad. When you clean your iPad screen, use a little water on a soft cloth. Never use a household cleaning product!



The quickest way to paste and copy on the iPad is to tap and select the needed text and hold your finger on it for a few seconds. Then push “copy” and move over into a different app. Push the screen and hold down for a second. A pop-up menu will appear, from which you should tap ‘paste.’ If you want to copy and paste a complete paragraph, tap four times.



Go to the apps that you usually run easier and quicker. Double-click the Home button to have them immediately appear near the bottom of your screen. This little trick saves a ton of time, as you don’t have to scroll through screens to access something.



Sync pages using iTunes to share documents with both a Mac and a PC. This can be done quick and efficiently to save time. This is actually the best way to access the PDFs stored on your iPad.



Your iPad is a great tool to help you do your homework, play some games and stay in touch with your friends. It just requires you know how to use the iPad, so use the advice in this article and get ready to use it. Enjoy these tips and your iPad.

The Practical Meter Speeds Up Charging Your Smartphone Over Usb

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Here’s a neat gizmo for speeding up charging your smartphone over USB. The Practical Meter plugs into the USB socket you intend to use to charge your phone and has built-in indicator lights to show how fast the charging connection is. The problem its creators are attacking is the vast difference in charging rates over USB. Charge speed can vary depending on the device you’re charging and the USB port and charger cable you’re using. Yet this difference isn’t usually flagged up to the user.

The Practical Meter solves that problem by displaying the charging strength of the current combination – using signal bar style indicator lights – so it’s possible to figure out whether the phone is going to be fully charged in about an hour. Or require more like four hours to get juiced up. Here’s an example of the Practical Meter’s signal scale when charging an iPhone:

The Practical Meter has already passed its $10,000 funding goal on Kickstarter, with more than 3,200 backers and still more than 20 days to run on the campaign. Shipping date is pegged at September. Price per Meter is now $19, which also includes a three-in-one charger cable that’s designed to enhance charging performance. This cable has an Apple dock, Micro USB and Mini USB ends so it’s compatible with a range of phones.

Each of the three connectors has built-in circuits to maximise its charge rate – meaning the cable alone can speed up charging performance, according to its creators (the price for just the cable is $7).

Another possible use for the Practical Meter is in combination with a solar charging panel, as it allows the user to figure out the best position to place the panel to maximise its power output. The device can also be used for figuring out tablet charging rates too – although its creators note that it only meters the first 1000 mA (1 amp) of current, adding: “With our charging tips you will be able to draw 5 watts or 1000 mA of current into your ipad from your PC/Laptop! Stay tuned to learn about the possibility of a 10-watt version or stretch goal.”

Reference: http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/03/practical-meter/

Facebook Picks Sportstream To Beef Up Its Real-time Sports Data For News Outlets

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You post “Goal!!!!11!!” but who scored? Facebook’s on a drive to host more sports talk and get its trends shown on the news, so today it’s partnering with SportStream to structure, enhance, and make sense of its messy real-time data.

SportStream will offer broadcasters and sports teams a search interface for Facebook’s Keyword Insights and Public Feed APIs that leverages its “SportsBase” of metadata on teams, players, leagues, and games to surface who’s saying what about the biggest moments in athletics.

Facebook knows chatter about real-time, global events like sports is a huge opportunity for engagement, but many people are bringing this talk to Twitter. By getting TV, print, and web news outlets plus the sports teams themselves sharing Facebook sports chatter trends, Facebook hopes users will make it their water cooler for the big game.

The problem is jumbled data. When you write “RG3 touchdown” you mean Robert Griffin the third scored a touchdown for the Washington Redskins NFL football team. Facebook can’t parse that, but SportStream can.

Launched last June, SportStream monitors every major game, organization, and player plus all their social media accounts to understand what’s going on in games. It would break this content down into feeds about specific games or rivalries that news outlets could reference or sports teams could embed on their sites. At first the company was making consumer apps, but has shifted its focus towards being a data provider.

Until now SportStream was predominantly looking at public Facebook Pages, Instagrams, and Twitter accounts, but its new partnership with Facebook gives it access to the Keyword Insights API that anonymously aggregates trends of what Facebook users are privately posting about, and the Public Feed API that’s a firehouse of what users are specifically sharing in public posts.

It’s now releasing a search interface for these APIs that makes it easy to construct queries like “What part of the country talks about football the most?”, “Do young people chat more about Kobe Bryant or LeBron James”, and “Which home city is talking more about the big Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees game?” SportStream then visualizes that data with graphs and maps as clips for TV news or embeds for news websites.

The ability to license access to its platform filled with this Facebook data could be a huge boon to SportStream, which has raised $3.5 million, has 10 employees, and serves about 50 teams and media outlets already.

By making its sports data easier to understand, Facebook might get more outlets and teams to use it. Facebook hopes the perception that it’s a home for real-time event chatter will trickle down to users.

But it’s not built for this kind of talk. The News Feed is algorithmically sorted for relevance, rather than reverse chronologically sorted for up-to-the-minute information. Facebook has been testing a solution to this problem that would show updates in the proper time sequence if it recognizes that you’re posting about a real-time event, but this formatting modification isn’t ready yet.

As much as Facebook wants to be a place for public talk about world events, it was built for sharing updates about your own life with friends. Facebook lets you be your offline self online, but now the service is encountering growing pains as it seeks to define its own identity.

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Learn more: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/18/facebook-sports-data/

Cody Adds Personal Training To Its Social Fitness Community With Hundreds Of New Workouts

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When it comes to exercise, both motivation and enjoyment tend to be a lot higher when friends are involved. They cheer us on, challenge us and make exercise more social. The App Store is stuffed with exercise, fitness and wellness apps of all kinds, and by this point, eyes roll every time a new fitness app launches.

Two former Microsoft product managers beg to differ. They launched Cody earlier this year because they believe that a key part of the fitness puzzle is still missing: Social. Cody set out to create a mobile platform and community that encouraged people to share their workout-focused content with their friends – be they pictures, images or tips. Basically, an Instagram/Facebook for exercise.

Of course, with Endomondo, GAIN Fitness, Fitocracy and others already trying to build their own permutations of “The Facebook for Fitness,” Cody has tried to set itself apart by reducing the friction. In other words, by become a mobile fitness coach that people aren’t frustrated or intimidated by. Rather than cater to hardcore fitness enthusiasts like so many other fitness apps, Cody avoids going to deep into the fitness-tracking world and is far less reliant on graphs and metrics.

When it started out, the app focused on increasing the success and enjoyment level of workouts by using its own friendly robot (named Cody) to provide users with access to their own workouts and curated content (like articles) which Cody aimed to personalize to the individual. (To varying degrees of success.)

With its most recent update, however, Cody has moved in the direction of GAIN Fitness and now allows trainers to post their favorite workouts and fitness programs into the community and your feed (if you’re following those trainers). The idea is allow trainers who already have their own followings to leverage that audience and bring it to Cody, which is both a bonus for Cody (its user base grows) and the trainer’s audience as it gets access to a new mobile and social fitness community. Or at least that’s the idea.

The new version of Cody allows trainers to share multimedia content within Cody as well, bringing video to the app’s community, and allowing users to watch these short videos and try 10-day cardio challenges, upper body workouts and so on. The trainers can then add to those videos as they go, providing feedback, pointers or striking up a conversation with their audience via Cody.

At the outset, most of this content was free and curated by Cody’s editorial team itself, but as it goes forward, the Cody community will see trainers begin charging for their expert routines, along with more content. By helping its best trainers to start making money, Cody hopes that it can begin generating some revenue as well.

Furthermore, by slowly relinquishing editorial control and allowing trainers to post more of their own content, the founders hope that more multimedia content will start to flow through the network, increasing engagement and enjoyment as a result. As another way to encourage that, Cody has made its “Training Programs” available on the Web, in addition to mobile.

For more, find the startup’s announcement here.

More: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/19/cody-adds-personal-training-to-its-social-fitness-community-with-hundreds-of-new-workouts/

Valta Turns To Kickstarter To Fund Home Gadget Energy Management Platform

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Toronto-based startup Valta is looking for Kickstarter funding to help it bring its remote energy-management system to life, in order to give homeowners complete control over power usage by devices in any home. It combines special socket attachments with a hub, iPhone app and web-based application to deliver energy waste monitoring, as well as remote control of unused devices sapping juice.

Valta works by combining sockets with built-in chipsets designed for energy management that can detect inert power vampires with an app that can receive push alerts for when energy is wasted. You can turn off the socket completely from your phone to save energy when that happens, and view which of your home devices are in a “standby” state, where they’re plugged in and consuming juice but not actively being used.

The system also uses geofencing to turn off gadgets when you leave the house and turn them back on when you return, which takes away the chance that you simply forget to do it on your own. You can also schedule power off and on events, like turning on the coffee maker or turning off your home theatre, as well as group devices together for easy management of a number at one time. Valta tracks all data and presents it via app- and web-based dashboards that fetch info from cloud-based servers, so you can see how your energy consumption is trending over time.

The Internet-connected v-Hub is what ties the cloud to the socket adapters to the iPhone and web apps, which plugs into your home router via Ethernet and can pair with up to 16 individual sockets. Valta also plans to release an Android app in addition to the iPhone app that will be available at launch, the company says. The founding team has lots of experience in hardware engineering, iOS and cloud computing programming and electrical engineering. They have the chops to pull this off, and now they need the cash, which is why they’re looking for $100,000 to get it off the ground.

Backer pre-order systems start at $139, which gets the v-Hub and three sockets, which is around $55 less than what Valta plans to charge at retail when it ships sometime around November.

Reference: http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/04/valta-turns-to-kickstarter-to-fund-home-gadget-energy-management-platform/

Loveroom Lets You Share Your Home, And Bed, With Strangers

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Sometimes the thrill of letting a perfect stranger stay your home just isn’t enough. That’s why an Airbnb with benefits has emerged called LoveRoom, which marries the idea of room/house-sharing with online dating.

Word has it that the startup began as a half-baked joke of sorts, and after getting plenty of media attention, founder Josh Bocanegra has decided to stick it out with a live beta.

Forbes reports that he should have a live version of the site ready by Valentine’s Day, provided he finds the right developers to help build the service.

But what is the service?

According to a post on Medium, LoveRoom helps you find attractive people to share your home with you, or your bed. Whatever.

Though coverage abounds, actual user figures remain low. Fast Company notes that less than 50 people signed up for the beta on launch day, and a quick glance at the member profiles show that around 90 percent of the user base is male (without a profile picture, no less).

Talk about Stranger Danger.

Update: Bocanegra has reached out to clarify sign-up stats, saying that around 1,100 people have signed up in the four days since the beta went live.

Fortunately, LoveRoom suggests to use caution by researching potential guests on Facebook or having a friend join the sleepover.

All I have to say is that I can’t wait for the “Law & Order: SVU” episode that will eventually be based around this new “service”.

Let us know what you think of LoveRoom below.


Reference: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/19/loveroom-lets-you-share-your-home-and-bed-with-strangers/