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Category: user interface

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Top Startup and Tech News Today-7 Things You Missed Today

1. YCombinator’s Paul Graham Now Taking Applications for Startup School 2013 (and it’s Free)


Beginning a startup company is not an easy thing to do, but what if there’ was a school of sorts that can teach you how to do so?  Paul Graham of YCombinator created such an institution called Startup School. The best part about it is that it’s free, making it affordable for anyone interested.


With speakers like “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, superangel Ron Conway, Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann, and Uber founder Travis Kalanick,” it’s guaranteed that the limited seats will fill up quickly. In order to gain access, the application due September 20 will also include telling “YCombinator about your education, work, developer tools, and ‘the coolest thing you’ve built.’”


The school has definitely shown some results—as Graham has written on his website: “Many founders have told us that this event was what finally made them take the leap.”


2. Google Announces Android 4.4 KitKat, Celebrates More than 1 million Android Activations


Google’s new Android software, originally rumored to be dubbed “Key Lime Pie,” is announced to be “KitKat.” While Android releases have always maintained a sweet treated title, this is the first time that it borrows a name from a famous sweets company—in this case, Nestle, their new partner.


The significance of passing over another generic name coincides with their goals with their million plus users. “It’s our goal with Android KitKat to make an amazing Android experience available for everybody,” Google exclaims. In addition to the newly formed partnership and the associated aspirations of both companies, over 50 million specially branded KitKat bars will be distributed with each one will leading the consumer to a special, prize offering web page.


3. 7 Things Going Against You as a First-Time Entrepreneur


Rajesh Setty, a serial entrepreneur talks about the 7 major problems that entrepeneurs need to overcome in order to be successful. The first issue mentioned is that people need to be able to see escalating friction. Just having an idea alone will not result in friction whatsoever, it’s when you start to do something about it—whether you start reflecting on the idea or bringing it to prospective clients. The main thing you must remember is to be able to understand how much friction each action will cause.


You must also not confuse activity with progress. “In general, any activity that cannot create value to your customers in a measurable way needs to be questioned. There is a good chance that it’s just activity leading nowhere,” Setty says. In the same vein, a lack of valuable accomplishments is an important hurdle to jump over. If the product you have is not amazingly awesome, you must build an identity to the venture.


Not knowing what to do is fourth on the list. This, of course, comes with experience and, for those who haven’t yet gained any, this is where you should listen to the wisdom of others who have been there. Next is called “concluding for convenience,” where Setty says to tackle problems early and head on; playing the blame game will not and does not help the venture.


The penultimate item on his list is “trying to fix your weaknesses fast.”  In entrepreneurship, there “is no trial run…everything is real.” Instead, it’s suggested to invest in your strengths and then to invest in a team to compensate for your weakness. Finally, don’t think that you have it all under control. Setty ends with “Entrepreneurship is a game that you win in the long term. It is a game that is beyond just you. It is a myth to think that you alone will have it all under control, however smart you are.”


4. The Messiah’ Gives His Reasons for Hacking Sun Ho’s Site


A hacker by then pseudonym “The Messiah” hacked into the website of Sun Ho, the co-founder of City Harvest Church. The hacker reappeared on a Q&A site, stating his affiliation with a group called “Anonymous Collective” and detailing the weak security of the site. “It took us less than 15 minutes to gain access,” he said.


The information he says he obtained and plans on exposing includes addresses, phone numbers, emails, and passwords. Due to the security leak, it was found out that the City Harvest Church had been embezzling church funds of about $50 million to fund Sun Ho’s U.S. singing career.


5. Top 6 Regions With the Most High-Tech Startups


Research was published stating that one of the biggest source of employment opportunities lie in high-tech startups. In fact, the job creation at these high-tech companies far offsets the initial destruction that occurs when startups meet with early-stage business failures.” If you’re looking for a high-tech job, where would you be likely to find a high-tech startup company? The Ewing Marion Kaufmann foundation created a list of 6 places with the most startups in the nation.


Denver has a large community of startups with over 500 companies—it has the sixth largest high-tech startup growth since 2011. Seattle comes in fifth, with the title of the “historical birthplace of significant IT infrastructure and business services.” Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Massachusetts comes in fourth with a strong talent pool. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California houses Google and many other similarly powerful companies. Fort Collins-Loveland, Colorado has Colorado State University—their resources and research facilities is enough to have many high-tech companies relocating here. Finally, Boulder, Colorado comes in first, with 6.3 times the national average for the number of startups it holds. This place is also praised for “its education, health, quality of life, and well-being.”


6. Bitcoin 0.8.4 Update Offers Security Improvements


Bitcoin-qt has come out with the new 0.8.4 update, trivializing bugs in the old code. The first issue in the previous version was in reference to the amount of block chain to be downloaded in order to view relevant transactions; it was possible for an attacker to overwhelm bitcoin-qt’s nodes and cause lagging or crashing.


This new update also fixes a security issue in previous version of bitcoin-qt. The password system would check the password by looping through each letter to check for accuracy. This meant that the more accurate a guess at the first letters of a password, the longer it would take to verify. This promotes a trial and error style attempt at guessing others’ passwords.


The last of the list of improvements prevents transaction attacks. These attacks could work in 2 different ways. The first allows an attacker to send an invalid transaction to one client and a valid transaction to someone else, which can allow for double spending of bitcoins. The next involves sending malicious transactions to others, causing disconnection from and harming the nodes used.


7. One-on-One Tutoring? Tech Startups Finally Catch On


InstaEDU, a San Francisco startup, allows students to connect to tutors online. InstaEDU, founded by couple, Dan and Alison Johnsoton is part of a market that is expected to grow from $11 billion to $13.1 billion in the United States between 2012 and 2015.  The idea was conceptualized when they realized how having an in-home tutor was a luxury coupled with students mostly asking for last minute help in the middle of the night.


Using mainly Ivy league students as tutors, InstaEDU has been able to further build on the idea of online education, allowing for quality and affordable tutors to anyone around the world. “I think it will reach more students who aren’t willing to go out of the way,” a tutor and UC Berkeley student says.


Take A Bite Into Apple's New iOS7 Beta 3

Apple has finally released the third beta version of iOS7, giving users a tantalizing tease of how the new operating system, (which is speculated for release in mid-October, near the release of the new iPhone, and iPad) is going to be so much more smoother, and so much more stable than the current iOS.

The new version of the beta software (which has been released exactly 2 weeks after the 2nd integration of the software) is very much improved from iOS6, and even iO 7 Beta 2.

The problems that the second beta version had with iCloud, iMessage, and AirPlay have been resolved in the third beta version. Although some issues still have not been addressed (i.e., volumes increase dramatically, and unsuspectedly in AirPlay; if sometimes you disable iCloud Keychain, you may not be able to enable it again), the improvements are still greater in magnitude.

The folders have become transparent in view, and the control panel has been regenerated as well. FaceTime, and notifications have seen new enhancements, and our favorite Siri, has also been given a new voice, and has seemingly become more of an assistant, than an app on a smart phone.

The overall look of the iPhone, (and iPads) has become a lot more appealing with the arrival of iOS7 Beta 3. With the introduction of leaner fonts, and delicate design, it seems that Apple has finally started to take full advantage of its Retina display.

Even Apple’s ‘black sheep’, Safari has had remarkable changes made to it’s functionality. The search engine has not only become faster and cleaner, it has a better interface, allowing the use of multiple windows, and a navigation bar.

Although the user interface has allowed for a little more customization, it is still rather restricting as compared to Android devices.

However, with it’s cleaner, and more sensitive interface, and appearance, the new iO7 has beautiful promises about upcoming Apple devices, for which we should all, be excited.


Disappearing UI: You are the User Interface

I remember watching Minority Report for the first time back in 2002.

Today, over a decade later, the scenes where Tom Cruise interacted with a computer display using only hand gestures are no longer in the realm of fiction.  We have technologies that enable us to interact with computers and TV screens in the same way.  We are in the midst of amazing technological innovations in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) where reality is indistinguishable from magic. The next decade of computing will be the era of ‘disappearing UI.’

ENIAC to Siri


From punch card readers to touch screens and voice recognition, computer interfaces have come a long way. This journey, fueled by Moore’s law, has shrunk computers from room sized monstrosities to pocket sized smart phones. This is not a mere technological evolution. It is a sociological revolution. Computing power has gone from the hands of a very few ‘computer professionals’ into the pockets of everyone. This democratization of computing was possible only because the computer interfaces have become more accessible and intuitive. The innovations of mouse and graphical user interface (GUI), originally invented at Xerox Parc, have revolutionized personal computers. While pen based computing, pioneered by Go and Apple’s Newton, never caught on, touch screens triggered the widespread adoption of smart phones and tablets. Voice recognition technology has been around for a long time but hasn’t gone mainstream until the introduction of Siri in iPhone 4S. While its usage still remains limited, voice recognition has surely crossed the tipping point. What comes next after touch and voice?

You are the Interface


Widely adopted technologies are those that disappear and weave themselves into the fabric of life. Availability of cheap and powerful sensors is enabling a whole new generation of interfaces called Natural User Interfaces (NUI) or Gesture Interfaces. With this technology, users can control computers and other devices through spatial gestures. Microsoft Kinect and Leap Motion are examples of 3D gesture control that tracks users’ hand and body motions by using depth-sensing cameras to control computing devices. Such gesture sensing technology moves HCI closer to the way humans interact with things in the real world. This is a huge leap in HCI that promises many interesting possibilities. For example, our startup ZeroUI uses NUI to allow anyone to make digital 3D models with their hands, just like potters and sculptors. They can print them out using affordable 3D printers like Makerbot or using 3D printing services like Shapeways. NUI can make education more hands on and fun. Students can hold and examine virtual 3D models of molecules to get a closer look or navigate inside an archeological dig by just walking around their living room. Surgeons can manipulate a scope inside of patient body just by moving their hands. We will be able to change the volume of our car stereo using hand gestures.


Some companies are expanding the boundaries of NUI beyond gestures. Eye tracking software from Tobii, Cube26, and Eye Tribe can augment gestures to focus on where the user is looking. MYO armband from Thalmic Labs uses electrical activity in our muscles to control the computers. Emotiv systems, Neurosky, and Interaxon are developing brain computer interfaces (BCI) that attempt to understand user intent from our brain signals. When all these technologies come together, HCI will surpass real world interactions. NUI will be pervasive in our lives. This is the way we will be interacting with computing in the future. You are the interface.

Sensors on You


Moore’s Law has made it possible for us to wear computers on our bodies. Google Glass and Pebble watch are good examples. Google Glass is a head mounted display (HMD) technology that is integrated into eyeglasses and displays information in our line of sight. Users can take pictures or video of what they are seeing while on the move and store them in the cloud. How will people control computers that are on their bodies? New technology promises to bring radical innovations in HCI over the next few years. This should be really fun to watch.

Maker in You


Intersecting trends of ‘Disappearing UI’ and ‘Consumerization of Manufacturing’ will bring out the maker in all of us.  These trends are enabled by affordable 3D sensors and 3D printers. ‘Bringing out the maker in everyone’ is the simple but powerful vision that compelled us to start our company, ZeroUI. This has the potential to transform the global manufacturing industry the same way PCs and now smart phones and tablets have revolutionized the computing industry.


Imagine a world where you can 3D print your ideas right at your home or office. This world is much closer to reality than we think. Recently doctors at University of Michigan 3D printed an emergency airway right in the hospital to save a 20-month old baby boy’s life. NASA is exploring 3D printing custom meals on the fly for their astronauts in space. It is not far fetched to imagine consumers designing and 3D printing household items right in their home. The critical missing piece for making this vision a reality is the software that enables anyone to quickly design things on the fly with minimal or no training. This is precisely where ‘Disappearing UI’ can play a key role and the reason why we come to work excited everyday at ZeroUI.