Posts tagged wants
Pinterest is looking to change its female-oriented reputation by expanding its search functionality to include more topics that it thinks will appeal to men.
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If security is the first, second and third priority for your business, then does a Vancouver startup have a collaboration suite for you.
Witkit, founded three years ago by serial entrepreneur Sean Merat, aims to offer multiple enterprise software functions—messaging, groups, file-sharing, etc.—under one roof. Most important, it plans to do so securely, by encrypting your data so that neither the company nor anyone else can read it.
Why a suite? Merat said that in the course of running prior companies, he felt overwhelmed by the number of disparate solutions for work collaboration.
“There were too many solutions,” he said in an interview with ReadWrite. “Stuff like Hipchat, Dropbox, Evernote…. Individually they’re all great, but the problem becomes when you’re trying to juggle too many things.” So together with two co-founders, Sohrab Merat and Ma’en Haq, Merat started Witkit.
This concept isn’t brand new—Huddle, for instance, is also based on an all-in-one functionality. Where Witkit plans to make a name for itself is security—in particular, by encrypting all data on the user end (using a technique the company too-cutely calls “Witcrypt”) and storing it on the Witkit server in protected fashion.
What that means, a Merat explained in a Witkit press release (no link), is this:
Witcrypt technology ensures that the encryption and decryption of user data is only done on user devices locally. All data that is sent to the Witkit servers is fully encrypted and can only be decrypted by the user’s WitCrypt passphrase.
In his interview with ReadWrite, Merat argued that end-to-end encryption for all functions of a work suite—file sharing, group discussions, calendars, cloud storage, instant messaging, etc.—is Witkit’s main selling point. With all data encrypted, he said, a company or organization could have online group discussions with members from outside that company as well as internal discussion channels without worrying about compromising security. Witkit calls these virtual discussion spaces “kits.”
Locked In A Box
Of course, the drawback of any suite like this one is that you have to be happy with all the components. If you like Witkit’s security and calendar but aren’t crazy about its messaging, you’re still stuck with it. And at this point, it’s impossible to say how Witkit’s individual services stack up.
But Navid Soofi, the founder and president of Qube Film studios in Vancouver, has been using Witkit in a beta form for several months. The security aspect of it has been the primary allure.
“Cyber security has been a very prominent concern in my industry the past few months,” Soofi said in an email interview, making an obvious allusion to the major Sony hack in December. He continued:
My team and I have been actively looking for secure ways to sync files, records, documents and conversations. I can confidently say that Witkit fitted the bill perfectly. Our IT team has gone through the security code that has been made public by Witkit and reassured me that our conversations, contracts and footage would be as secure as keeping everything offline.
Merat said Witkit is in the process of having its code, which it has also posted on Github for public perusal, audited by another company for any vulnerabilities. Witkit has no definite plans for making money quite yet. Right now, all the features and storage will be free.
“We can confidently say that we’re not going to charge for what we’re offering today,” Merat said. “The base functionality up to 50GB will always be free.” He said the company would wait to develop a strong user base and develop revenue streams based on their feedback. Witkit has received $5 million in funding so far.
Lead photo by Anonymous Account; photo of Sean Mirat courtesy of Witkit
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British Prime Minister David Cameron will enlist President Barack Obama’s help in accessing user info on Facebook and Twitter’s when the world leaders meet in the Oval Office on Friday, the Guardian reports. Good luck with that.
Cameron proposed on Monday banning encrypted messaging apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime that are inaccessible to Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) eavesdropping center. (Good luck with that, too.)
As the first world leader to meet with Obama following the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Cameron will ask the president to urge U.S. Internet companies such as Facebook and Twitter to surrender user communications upon request. “Comprehensive legislation” expanding electronic surveillance in the hunt for terrorists is a major part of Cameron’s re-election campaign. And it’s one he’s pushing to gain traction on following the terrorist attack on the Paris office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
“The prime minister’s objective here is to get the U.S. companies to cooperate with us more, to make sure that our intelligence agencies get the information they need to keep us safe,” a U.K. government source told the Guardian. “That will be his approach in the discussion with President Obama–how can we work together to get them to cooperate more, what is the best approach to encourage them to do more.”
It’s an ambitious goal, given the ongoing revelations from Edward Snowden about the extent of government surveillance on U.S. citizens, as well as other world leaders. Since Snowden first shared classified information from the the National Security Agency (NSA), tech companies continue a public relations offensive to distance themselves from government interference. Published transparency reports detailing government requests for information are now de rigueur in Silicon Vally.
Last May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed on his Facebook page a phone call he made to Obama to tell the president he is, “confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”
Whats more, Cameron’s requests run somewhat counter to Obama’s own call for tech security. On Monday, while Cameron demanded access to Snapchat and the like, Obama called for stronger cybersecurity laws in connection to data breaches, including the recent attack on Sony. The president also champions better communication between corporations and the government in detecting cyber threats.
Lead image courtesy U.K. Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Here is your chance to give feedback to Google in order to improve both Google Web Search and their Google Webmaster Tools product. Don’t miss out on sharing your two-cents.
The post Google Wants Webmaster Feedback On Web Search & Webmaster Tools appeared first on Search Engine Land.
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Samsung has supposedly approached BlackBerry in a $7.5 billion takeover bid, reports Reuters. Its sources say that executives from both companies were in talks as recently as last week—presumably during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
If true, the deal could offer relief to the venerable but ailing smartphone maker. It would also presumably give the South Korean tech giant a slew of patents covering everything from enterprise technology, security and to Internet of Things initiatives, where BlackBerry has recently been making its push.
Samsung’s mobile business also had a dismal earnings year. Now it appears to be pursuing mid-tier devices, including its just-announced Z1 smartphone in India, the company’s first handset powered by its own homegrown Tizen software. Samsung hopes to turn the open-source mobile operating system into a platform for its own take on the Internet of Things. A BlackBerry acquisition might help it strengthen its position.
BlackBerry has been struggling back to relevance in recent years, though its stock has jumped 29% on the heels of the Reuters report.
Screen shot of BlackBerry press conference captured by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
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If the lack of broadband competition in your state is keeping your community down, President Obama has your back. On Tuesday, he called on the Federal Communications Commission to crack down on state laws that prevent cities and towns from building their own networks, and thus providing citizens potentially faster and less expensive alternatives to AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.
“Laws in 19 states—some specifically written by special interests trying to stifle new competitors—have held back broadband access and, with it, economic opportunity,” reads a White House statement announcing a new report on community-based broadband solutions. “President Obama is announcing a new effort to support local choice in broadband, formally opposing measures that limit the range of options available to communities to spur expanded local broadband infrastructure, including ownership of networks.”
Obama will outline his plan Wednesday in Cedar Falls, Iowa, one of the cities that built its own broadband network offering Internet speeds nearly 100 times faster than the national average. This is the second time since November that the president has called on the FCC to make major changes in rules regarding the Internet. Last year, he strongly advised in favor of net neutrality by reclassifying broadband as a common carrier service.
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ReadWriteBuilders is a series of interviews with developers, designers and other architects of the programmable future.
Ustream founder and CEO Brad Hunstable initially created his livestream video platform for a very niche market, and in the seven years since its launch, has seen the online video site explode to momentous proportions all around the world.
Hunstable, a West Point graduate, entered the Army in 2001. The Texas native observed that those in the military deployed across the world were missing some of the most important events in their lives—birthdays, soccer games, or just seeing the faces of their friends and families. For Hunstable, whose younger brother was in a rock band, it was witnessing one of his sibling’s concerts.
That desire to build a video solution that could help people experience events around the world birthed Ustream, a video streaming service launched in 2007 and based in San Francisco that helps everyone from big businesses to the everyman broadcast live video online.
The first few years of Ustream’s life were laser-focused on content creators, media companies, and citizen journalism. The livestreaming company now caters to businesses, who more and more try to emulate media companies, and aids in video for enterprise use.
Today, a large section of Ustream’s clients are companies that use the product to livestream internally and also to their own customers, managing high-profile events like Lady Gaga concerts, the Playstation 4 launch, and music festival Outside Lands.
But when talking livestream video, Hunstable seems more enthusiastic about those recording events in areas like Ukraine or Ferguson, Missouri. Video relays passion better than any other medium, Hunstable tells me. And it’s his goal to get everyone involved.
ReadWrite: What were you like growing up? Was video an area you knew you wanted to go into?
Brad Hunstable: I was definitely more of a hacker as a kid. As a pre-teen, I coded and built a Bulletin Board Service (BBS – the Internet before there was an Internet) in Texas. Individuals around the country were able to call into my computer to download files, share photos, play games and chat. It was very much like today’s modern Internet. Terms such as Gopher, MUDs, Usenet and Sysops were commonplace.
This was the early days of consumer tech. It certainly was not “cool” to be a programmer back then and the many times I was called ”geek” were not terms of endearment.
RW: Did Ustream start small or was there funding from the get go?
BH: The original funding came from angel investors, Ross Perot Jr. being the first. This initial capital allowed us to build out the original engineering team and get a prototype product to market in the customer’s hands. Once we showed traction, we were lucky enough to have an amazing venture capital firm, DCM (based in Silicon Valley) take a bet on Ustream.
RW: Can you tell me what Ustream is like today?
BH: Ustream is one of the largest video solutions on the Web, and we are primarily focused on enterprises. We want to help businesses communicate more effectively with their two most important constituents— customers and their employees.
What’s interesting today is that a lot of companies—like TechCrunch, Cisco, Salesforce, Sony—they all act like media companies. Today everyone is a content creator, not just us as individuals but companies as well. So we work with media companies, and we really want to be the video layer across enterprise.
RW: Livestreaming has recently come into the media forefront with Amazon’s acquisition of livestream video gaming site, Twitch. What does this mean for the current state of livestream video?
BH: It’s really hot, and it’s growing really fast.
At Ustream we surpassed, earlier in the summer, our 2 billionth viewer hour consumed since we started the company. The curves look amazing, even on the business side. In the last year alone, in business, we had one billion hours of live video content, and that’s going to grow to 3 billion by 2017.
Business videos could be a webinar, or a CEO inspiring a company through live communication from video, which is something that I do for our offices. I do them live, I take call-in guests. I treat it just like a media company.
Video is reaching a point where it’s really becoming a foundation piece of the Internet. By 2017, according to Cisco, it will be 55% of the Internet’s traffic. It’s incredible. We did a Sony Playstation 4 launch a couple months ago, and it was 2% of the Internet’s traffic.
RW: How does Ustream set to differentiate themselves from YouTube or other livestream competitors?
BH: Ustream is the leader in video that focuses on our platform as a business solution, rather than a consumer-driven vehicle. Our bandwidth and streaming capabilities also differentiate us from others in the space, allowing Ustream to broadcast major events to a global audience.
RW: How do you make money?
BH: Our old model was more advertising based. We realized quickly that the better monetization path was going to be SaaS, software-as-a-service.
Take the most recent Apple event. I tried to watch it. It was really unfortunate, but that’s a perfect example of a company acting like a media company, trying to do the technology themselves, and it doesn’t work. Most companies don’t want to do it themselves. Solutions companies like ours can solve that. Some of our broadcasts can have millions and millions of people tune in and watching simultaneously.
Getting The President On Board And Going To Mars
BH: t’s not just a video getting a bunch of views, we’re talking live, simultaneous number of viewers. Some of them are in gaming, some of them are corporate in nature. We have really robust technology to pull that off, and that’s our solution.
RW: How did the bigger name sponsored events come about?
BH: Some of our biggest events include the Sony Playstation 4 launch (which received 8 million viewers), Verizon-sponsored Lady Gaga concert, Apple iPhone 5 launch and Dreamforce (from Salesforce, one of the largest broadcasters on Ustream) to President Obama’s presidential victory speech.
The process to get high-profile customers takes time. When you are a startup, you have no brand or reputation. The way to overcome this is by building an amazing product that customers need and begin knocking on doors, sometimes literally, to find those early adopters willing to take a chance. Success then breeds success, which brings you closer to higher profile opportunities.
RW: What are some of your best moments and accomplishments since starting Ustream?
BH: More people watched live the landing of the Mars Curiosity rover on Ustream than all of CNN and MSNBC combined. I think in many regions we nearly broke the Internet.
But there were many other broadcasts that demonstrated the power of Ustream, from President Obama’s Presidential Victory Speech and Charlie Sheen’s Tiger Blood streams, to many streams from the Arab Spring. In addition, 50 million people tuned in to watch coverage of the 2011 Japanese Earthquake on Ustream.
We also started a non-profit called Ustream for Change. As we’ve moved towards enterprise, what I’ve realized is that our platform could still be used as a force for good.
This non-profit is where we donate our platform, energy, time, and training to people who are doing really powerful things and who need the video to do it. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were donated to citizen journalists in Ukraine.
We just announced a group that helps wounded soldiers get back on their feet. I think Ustream can be a mission driven company. What we have is so powerful—we can help with Internet freedom, emerging democracies, stability around the world. I think we have a moral obligation to do that.
RW: What’s next for you and Ustream?
BH: I’m a big believer that there’s going to be a company that can be a video layer across enterprise. Everything I’m doing today in terms of our product is really about helping businesses be more transparent to their customers, more transparent to their employees. We help them use video to build those relationships.
The thing about video, it’s so powerful. It’s the only medium in the world that can build such a strong connection—that’s why the Ice Bucket Challenge worked. That’s why KONY 2012 worked. That’s why Jony Ive is in a room, apparently an all white room, and he talks so passionately about the product. Video can really relay that passion better than any medium, better than Twitter, better than photos. It is so powerful.
In our mission, we want to bring that same thing to companies, to help them get more customers, and help them inspire employees to do good work. On the side we do really cool things like Ustream for change, which is continuing to have a major impact in the world.
At one of the recent conferences we were at, one of the guys from Ukraine saw our logo and came up to us and said, you don’t realize the impact you’ve had on our country. In Syria, they would put the Ustream logo on their phones and hold it up. It would show that they were broadcasting live, and then others would walk away and leave them alone because they saw that logo.
Photos courtesy of Brad Hunstable
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Three months after Marriott got a $600,000 fine from the Federal Communications Commission for blocking Wi-Fi devices at its Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center in Nashville, the hotel chain is petitioning regulators to let it do pretty much the same thing on all its other properties, too.
Marriott said it’s not seeking to block Wi-Fi access from personal devices in its guest rooms or lobbies, just its meeting spaces and conference rooms—and solely for security purposes.
Marriott, along with the American Hotel & Lodging Association trade group, filed the petition to block Wi-Fi access on its properties in August, before the hotel chain was fined. The FCC however, opened up the petition for public comment in December, and there’s been a lot of criticism voiced by tech companies, security experts and hotel patrons.
With few exceptions, the FCC permits almost all Wi-Fi devices to freely access unlicensed wireless spectrum. Preventing access can result in hefty fines, as the Marriott learned in October. But according to the hotel chain’s recent statement, guests are encouraged to “use these Internet connectivity devices in our hotels.” It just wants the FCC to spell out how far a hotel can go towards securing its network:
The question at hand is what measures a network operator can take to detect and contain rogue and imposter Wi-Fi hotspots used in our meeting and conference spaces that pose a security threat to meeting or conference attendees or cause interference to the conference guest wireless network.
Security experts do believe that hackers are using deceptively named Wi-Fi networks to trick hotel guests into logging on and exposing their computers to danger. It’s not clear what that problem—which should mostly be addressed by educating people about not connecting to unknown Wi-Fi networks—has to do with people using personal Wi-Fi hotspots.
Critics believe that profit, not security, is the goal of this petition. As Recode reported last week, while Marriott was jamming personal hotspots at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, “it was charging exhibitors and attendees anywhere from $250 to $1,000 for Wi-Fi service.”
These meeting-room fees are typically far higher than what hotel guests pay for daily Wi-Fi access in their rooms.
Google and Microsoft are among the major tech companies to criticize Marriott’s Wi-Fi blocking plan, which, if allowed, could become standard practice throughout the hotel industry.
“Hilton could not meet its guests’ expectations were it unable to manage its Wi-Fi networks, including taking steps to protect against unauthorized access points that pose a threat to the reliability and security of that network,” Hilton Worldwide added in support of Marriott and the hotel trade industry’s petition.
If you’ve got something to say to the FCC about the petition filed by Marriott International and American Hotel & Lodging Association to block personal Wi-Fi access, you can do that on the FCC website.
Marriott photos courtesy of Marriott Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.
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Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: New Widget In AdWords Makes Countdown Copy Easy Quickly set up dynamic countdowns in ads without having to type variable strings. Quickly set up dynamic…
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Facebook finally made Trending, its Twitter-like zeitgeist-monitoring feature, available for mobile on Wednesday, along with updates designed to keep all eyes focused on the social media app.
Trending, introduced in January, was limited to Facebook’s desktop interface. Appearing on the right side of the screen, Trending lists top conversations on the social network, including a summary and links to topical posts from friends and Pages. The new mobile rollout, available for Android now and coming to iOS soon, adds five separate, easy-to-navigate sections. With this update, Facebook is attempting to cover every aspect of how we ingest information in the social media era.
Mobile users will now be able to monitor information as it is reported by news outlets. They will also be able to see news as it is commented on by friends—as well as any Facebook user posting publicly or even in the vicinity of a news event—by scrolling through these five Trending categories:
- Articles: News stories about the trending topic.
- In the Story: Facebook posts from people involved in the story, which you don’t need to be their Facebook “friend” to view.
- Friends and Groups: What people you are connected to on Facebook are saying about the topic.
- Near the Scene: Geo-located posts from people near a news event.
- Live Feed: The most Twitter-like feature which shows you a real-time stream of reactions from Facebook users.
Facebook is keenly focused on usurping Twitter’s reputation as the go-to social network for breaking serious news. While this latest update won’t shake the cred Twitter has accumulated over the years, it may go far towards training its mobile users to turn to Facebook for the news.
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