new web technologies

Yahoo Just Bought A Massive Trove Of Mobile Data With Its Flurry Deal

Yahoo just acquired Flurry Mobile, a leading analytics and advertising company whose services are widely used among app developers and publishers.

The deal could be a big one for Yahoo. Flurry has long been considered a standout in the business of collecting and interpreting data that show how people use their mobile devices, ahead of other third-party solutions like Upsight, Localytics, Distimo and Mixpanel and even analytics from Google and Apple.

Under CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo now thinks of itself as a "mobile first" company and has scooped up many mobile-related startups in the past couple of years to fill out its mobile portfolio. According to its latest earnings statement, Yahoo's mobile apps and search services have 450 million monthly users.

See also: Yahoo: Destroyer Of Startups

As with any Yahoo acquisition, it's unclear what Flurry's long-term outlook might be. Under Mayer, Yahoo has a habit of buying startups and closing them down while keep the employees and the intellectual property.

Yahoo clearly thinks Flurry can help grow its mobile advertising business. Announcing  acquisition on Yahoo's corporate Tumblr account was Scott Burke, the company's senior vice president of advertising technology.

"After the transaction closes, the Flurry team will remain in its present locations, where their vision, mission, and focus will stay the same. Flurry’s products will continue to operate and innovate with Yahoo’s support and investment," Burke wrote.

Yahoo is purchasing a window into everything that's going on in the world of mobile apps. Flurry has a massive trove of data on just about every app category; roughly 170,000 developers currently use its analytics. Flurry sees 5.5 billion app sessions (the act of opening an app, performing an action and closing an app) a day and is on 1.4 billion devices across the world. In his statement, Burke said that Flurry analytics are on an average of seven apps on any individual smartphone.

Flurry's pile of data has made it one of the best spotters of mobile trends across the industry, whether noting the rise of mobile apps over use of the open Web or that the craze for dating apps was extremely popular with men. Flurry's mobile data reports have been seen as go-to reading for anybody interested in what is happening in the app economy for several years.

Terms of the acquisition weren't disclosed, but reports indicate that the deal is between $300 million and $1 billion.

Lead image of Simon Khalaf at ReadWrite Mix by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2014 02:27:32 -0700
Author: :: Category: Mobile

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An Ode To Jim Rockford's Answering Machine

No respectable obituary for actor James Garner is complete without a reference to the answering machine gag that opened each episode of the iconic actor’s equally iconic, tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek detective series, The Rockford Files, which ran from 1974 to 1980.

Eulogizing Garner, 86, who died Saturday in Los Angeles, the New York Times recalled The Rockford Files opening in pitch-perfect tone that make Gen-Xers and Boomers alike misty, the "distinctive theme song featuring a synthesizer and a blues harmonica and a message coming in on a newfangled gadget—Rockford’s telephone answering machine—that underscored his unheroic existence."

"It's Norma at the market. It bounced. You want me to tear it up, send it back, or put it with the others?" is the message cited by the NYT, the second of 127 messages, each one memorialized on YouTube and Wikipedia.

Another message, also from the first season, recalls how these clunky, analog boxes that required two cassette tapes to operate—one for the outgoing message, the other to record the caller—were still new on the commercial market in 1974, and so expensive that most early adopters rented them.

"This is the message phone company. I see you're using our unit, now how about paying for it?"

"It was such a great way to open the show," crime novelist (and my former colleague) R.G. Belsky commented on my Facebook status about Rockford’s answering machine. 

"That and the terrific theme song. I loved the fact that Rockford would talk at various points about still having 'payments' due for the cost of the answering machine," said Belsky, (who, incidentally, is the editor who fact-checked the infamous New York Post headline, "Headless Body Found in Topless Bar.")

"I also remember reading once that it really became a challenge for them to come up with a clever message each week. They did though…"

True enough. It was those messages—often suggested to the show’s writers by random crew members—that sentimentalized this bit analog technology in the memories of latchkey kids who spent hours after school binge-watching "Rockford Files" reruns.

See also: How Code Has Changed Since The Apollo 11 Moon Landing

"When 'Rockford Files' was first on and answering machines were pretty new, I got really sick of people who taped the opening of the show and used it as their answering machine message," another Boomer pal, the writer Marty Clear, added.

For my fellow former latchkey kid (now college writing professor), Gina Vivinetto, James Garner is forever tied into technology, for both Jim Rockford’s dual cassette answering machine and his classic TV commercials for Polaroid with Mariette Hartley. 

"Garner may have been a relic of the macho, beef-eating, chain-smoking guys of yesteryear, but damn if his finger wasn't on the pulse of cutting edge technology all through the 1970s and early 80s," said Vivinetto, who emphasizes to her  students the importance of popular culture in understanding what actually mattered to people at specific points in history. "The Polaroid camera pantheon: Andy Warhol, Andre 3000, James Garner."

But I digress.

"Answering machines are an integral part of the culture's digital DNA, which is why Rockford Files voice messages are being celebrated on YouTube," Rick Schindler, culture critic and author of “Fandemonium,” a satire of nerd culture and corporate folly. "It’s the same reason that when Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake did the History of Rap, they included 'Wait for the Beep.'"

The dual-cassette answering machine, so new and shiny at the time, is iconic in a way solid state technology will never be. You can see the parts moving, you can understand how it works. It’s the charm of a needle hitting a record, or the manual TV channel dial clicking to a favorite TV show. 

The sound of a landline ringing followed by the click of the answering machine turning on. The anticipation of a message in the days before caller ID. These sounds of analog technology incite memories of a certain place and time never to be revisited. Except: Those machines still work.

Lead image courtesy of  MCA/Universal's The Rockford Files.

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:02:45 -0700
Author: :: Category: Web

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What Banana Republic's "Startup Guy" Collection Gets All Wrong

Bravo, Banana Republic! We hail your valiant effort to inject some fashion sense into Silicon Valley. And purely from a fashion perspective, your new collection The Startup Guy is pretty on point; the clothes are unquestionably nice.

But we have to talk. It’s kind of tone deaf to try to “disrupt” Silicon Valley fashion without first understanding the culture and style that already permeates techland. Free startup-branded t-shirts, messenger bags, and hoodies are more on par for the real-life "startup guy."

There's also your approach to diversity in tech. With two white guys and one Asian male as models, The Startup Guy collection helps perpetuate the notion that there aren’t any women or many minorities beyond Asians in startups. (Neither is true.)

Still, I respect your desire to up SV’s male fashion game.

I scrolled through The Startup Guy collection on my daily ride into the city, and took a moment to close my eyes and imagine what a Caltrain car full of Banana Republic startup guys would look like. In my mind, there were jeans rolled up to the ankles, chunky wool sweaters, and all the loafers filling the seats. It felt a little "finance fratty," if you get my meaning.

The fact is, people don’t look like this in Silicon Valley. I opened my eyes back into the real world, and it was peppered with backpacks, plaid shirts, and scooters. Your man-purses, salmon shorts, and earth tones would be more at home on a yacht off the Hamptons than they would be on Muni. The straight-out-of-university style rules in San Francisco startup land, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon.

But the biggest problem here might just be the simple idea that you went and named this collection The Startup Guy. That pretty much guarantees that no actual person from a startup will forgo all self-awareness and buy these clothes.

Images courtesy of Banana Republic, illustration by Nigel Sussman and Madeleine Weiss 

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2014 02:15:10 -0700
Author: :: Category: Play

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Here's What Teens Think It Takes To Work In Tech

It’s easy to get swept up in the media myths of the technology world. The good news is that a new generation readying themselves for careers in tech are looking past the stereotypes and embracing opportunity.

On Friday, LinkedIn hosted an event as part of its LinkedIn For Good initiative, in which it encouraged 2,500 employees around the world to spend the day giving back to their community.

As part of that "InDay" event, the company hosted 100 teenagers from the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula at its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters to talk about career opportunities, create a LinkedIn profile, and learn about the skills needed to achieve their dream jobs.

Breaking Down Media Myths About Silicon Valley

The event looked nothing like the Hollywood versions of the tech world we see in movies like The Internship and HBO’s Silicon Valley. While those shows satirize what it takes to make it in tech, they also risk celebrating and elevating the screen-friendly “brogrammer” cultural myth of hard-partying code jocks. While brogrammers are easier to find on TV than on the actual streets of San Francisco, the brogrammer stereotype has life because Silicon Valley does have a real problem attracting a diverse workforce.

Statistics recently released by major tech companies show that there are real numbers behind the stereotypes: The tech workforce is disproportionally Caucasian and male. (LinkedIn was one of the companies to share its numbers.)

Against this backdrop, it's easy to understand why some get dispirited. But organizations and companies are working to change the culture of technology and nurture diverse voices, and women are fighting to change the culture of tech from within. And the teens we talked to weren't paying much attention to Hollywood's version of what a programmer looks like.

Teens In Tech

In a crowded room on the company’s leafy campus, LinkedIn employees and students from the Boys and Girls Club exchanged wisdom. Students discovered what it means to network, while employees reminisced about their own high-school days, and the angst and frustration of figuring out a career path.

Salvador Rodriguez, human resources intern at LinkedIn, and past Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula student, interviews LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and Boys and Girls Club executive director Peter Fortenbaugh.

After hearing from LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Peter Fortenbaugh, executive director of the Peninsula Boys and Girls Club, LinkedIn employees teamed up with students in one-on-one sessions to help build their online resumes, and, hopefully, put them en route to their future careers.

I shadowed three students who have dreams of working in tech to find out what drives them, and whether or not the culture of the tech community, often portrayed as toxic or excluding, now deters them from pursuing their future dreams.

All three were steadfast in their desire to become the next generation of builders. They weren't worried about culture fit. They were more worried about mastering math.

"There's no way [gender inequality] will be balanced by the time I'm coding." 

Dana Levinthal, 14, snacked on Lay’s potato chips and sipped on a raw-sugar Coca-Cola as she talked to me about wanting to become a programmer at Facebook or Google. What about a startup, I asked.

“There’s always a chance they could go under," she replied. "I want something more secure.”

The sage teen from Redwood City doesn’t have any coding experience yet, though she’s heard of languages like Java and C++. But she thinks her experience in “modding” Minecraft, a popular game, has already taught her one of the most important skills about being a programmer: patience.

She does understand it takes more than creativity, patience and boundless energy to become a programmer; Dana wants to go to MIT, and is aiming to finish calculus by her senior year.

As a high-school freshman, she's familiar with the imbalance of women in tech, but that only fuels her desire to be among the next generation of Googlers.

“I’m aware that only ten percent of women hold IT jobs,” she said. “There’s no way it will be balanced by the time I’m coding, in 10 to 15 years.”

Dana Levinthal volunteered to take photos for the Boys and Girls Club during the event. 

For some, the gender gap can be discouraging, especially since just 18 percent of computer science graduates in the U.S. are female, and reports of harassment and discrimination have cast shadows on the tech community. To Dana though, this imbalance presents an opportunity.

“Because women are a minority in that field, I’m more likely to get a scholarship and get hired,” she said.

"Don’t gain the world, and lose your soul."

Diquan Richard was all smiles at inDay.

Diquan Richard’s idols are Steve Jobs and Bob Marley—two very different innovators whose passion and breakthroughs in creative and technical fields inspire him to pursue his career goal of becoming a Pixar animator. He’s been involved with the Boys and Girls Club for 14 years, and is a native of East Palo Alto.

He discovered his dream of working at Pixar in 7th grade, and he’s been perfecting his talent for drawing and storytelling while overcoming personal hardships ever since.

“Technology has given me comfort,” Diquan said. “It’s allowed me to connect with people during the most challenging times.”

Like most teenagers, 18-year-old Diquan uses applications like Snapchat and Instagram to connect with friends. On his Lenovo computer, he uses more sophisticated technology to build creatures with Photoshop, Flash and Maya, the animation software. Those will prove crucial to his burgeoning career.

LinkedIn employees used Diquan's profile as an example of how students can connect with mentors and alumni. 

Diquan is a student at Cañada College, a two-year institution in Redwood City, Calif., where he's taking general-education courses before applying to a university for a digital arts and animation degree.

“My biggest challenge in school is math,” he said. “It’s something I’m going to have to work with everyday—using geometry and algebra. Making sure everything cooperates.”

At the InDay event, LinkedIn employees helped Diquan take the first step to achieving his career. In a demonstration, two of them used Diquan’s profile as an example of how to connect with college alumni and ask for advice from people whose careers they admire. They discovered a Cañada College graduate who worked at Pixar, and the team offered to facilitate an introduction.

Diquan could not stop smiling.

Though technology will become an invaluable resource for him in the future, Diquan noted that it’s not all perfect. Some apps, he said, are a huge waste of time.

“Bob Marley once said, ‘Don’t gain the world, and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver and gold,’” he told me.

“One stereotype I know about tech, is that they think guys are better."

Anna Gomez at LinkedIn's InDay event.

“I was kind of a weird child,” Anna Gomez, 14, said, as I sat down to ask her about her career plans. “One time I had cardboard boxes, and I would pretend they were metal and make a robot.”

“That’s not weird,” I told her. “That’s awesome.”

Anna wants to be a computer engineer and eventually a video game designer. Her favorite video game is Assassin's Creed, which she plays regularly on her PlayStation 3.

She’s trying to learn coding, but she’s conflicted. Her high school offers computer engineering, but she also wants to take cooking as an elective. Anna hadn't heard of organizations like Girls Who Code.

“Most of my friends are girls, and they don’t really play video games,” she said, and looked down at her hands. “Most of my guy friends play video games, though.”

Through the Boys and Girls Club, Anna has visited numerous tech companies, including Google, Intel, Facebook and LinkedIn. She says the experience has only encouraged her pursuit of working in technology, though she thinks it is very hard to get a job in tech.

Anna was also taking photos around the LinkedIn campus. 

The biggest skill she thinks engineers need is, like the other students, math. Anna said math classes are going to be hard for her, but, with her brother as an influence, she’s going to learn coding, and eventually take computer science in college.

Like Dana, she’s not deterred by inequality or lack of women in engineering fields.

“One stereotype I know about tech, is that they think guys are better,” she said. “But I don’t think that’s true.”

A Promising Future

After setting up personal LinkedIn accounts and taking a handful of profile pictures, both silly and serious, the students made their way back to the crowded room, which was getting warmer by the minute.

A group of observers and participants trailed behind, as the girls took extra time photographing the LinkedIn campus with cameras provided by the Boys and Girls Club. They wanted to document everything.

By the afternoon’s end, Dana, Diquan, and Anna, along with many other club members, had their own LinkedIn profiles, which would help them discover career opportunities and connect with people just like them, in jobs they want to explore.

Back in the room, the students and mentors were asked to take a picture—and the smiling teens looked back at the camera promisingly.

The next generation of coders and makers don’t see the same frustration their counterparts working in tech right now face on a regular basis. Instead, they have hope that—although their path may not be perfect or easy—a passion for technology and education will get them started.

And once they're inside those campuses they've visited as students, they'll have the power to take on those challenges—and, eventually, change those stereotypes. 

At the end of the day, students and mentors posed for a photo.

Photos by Selena Larson for ReadWrite

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2014 02:20:55 -0700
Author: :: Category: Web

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Facebook Save Lets You Bookmark For Later

Since you're not spending enough time on Facebook, you can now save things to read or view later ... on Facebook.

On Monday, the company announced the Save feature, which allows users to bookmark things like links, photos or videos to view when they actually have time to sit down and enjoy them. It's Facebook's answer to Pocket and Evernote—sort of.

Unlike these other services, stuff saved on Facebook can only be saved and viewed while using Facebook mobile and Web services. 

Though the feature lets you bookmark things like pictures, it's clear this is geared more towards news and information shared on Facebook—the stuff we usually don't have time to check out when we're quickly scrolling through the news feed. The company has put an increased focus on putting news higher in your feed than, say, pictures of Grumpy Cat. 

Good on Facebook for calling this feature "Save" instead of "Read Later," because, let's be real, who has time to read it later anyway?

Lead image via Connie Ma on Flickr. Save photo via Facebook. 

Date: Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:14:35 -0700
Author: :: Category: Social

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