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Mayans Shmayans. 2012—It’s Simply Time to Move with the Cheese! Q&A with David Siemer on M&A, Venture Cap Trends & the LA Tech Scene in 2012.

Mayans Shmayans. 2012—It’s Simply Time to Move with the Cheese! Q&A with David Siemer on M&A, Venture Cap Trends & the LA Tech Scene in 2012.

by Kathleen Blackwell

Welcome, 2012. I, for one, am happy 2012 is underway and look forward to a year of opportunity and change, even amidst global uncertainty. On my holiday reading list was a pay-it-forward book passed to me by a friend: Who Moved My Cheese, a New York Times business bestseller since it’s release. The book describes change in one’s career and life and the four typical reactions to change by two mice—Sniff and Scurry—and two “littlepeople”—Hem and Haw—during their hunt for cheese. Cheese is a metaphor for what we want to have in life, such as a job, a relationship, money or a big house. Cheese can even be an activity, like jogging or golf—or starting a business, or investing in one with traction.

2011 brought widespread disruption across the globe on all levels, from the Occupy movement in the U.S., to the tsunami devastation in Japan, to the Grecian fallout, and the ending of the U.S. invasion in Iraq—this list barely touches the surface and left many people wondering what 2012 would bring against the backdrop of events that will undoubtedly lead us into a new future—yes, change. When the only constant is change, how you manage change can make all the difference in the world. How do you handle change? How do you lead your business into a new year and navigate the high seas amidst uncertainty? Do you “sniff and scurry” or do you “hem and haw”?

David Siemer – Siemer & Associates LLC / Siemer Ventures

Let’s check in with David Siemer, Managing Director of Siemer & Associates LLC, a global boutique merchant bank, and Managing Partner of Siemer Ventures, its early-stage investment arm and an active investment fund in Southern California, to see how he handles change with some Q&A on the global M&A market, 2012 venture capital trends, the LA tech startup scene, plus Siemer’s golden nugget advice for success as an entrepreneur.

Prior to the mad-dash holiday rush, I had an opportunity to interview David Siemer, and while it’s common knowledge the Mayans predicted the end of the world as we know it in 2012, Siemer and company have another perspective. Siemer sees ample opportunity in the right places, in the right sectors, and at the right time. Pursued with excitement and armed with data—moving with the cheese is Siemer’s golden ticket to success in 2012. While Europe is in a funk, Southeast Asia is wide open, brimming with momentum for investments and growth, and the LA tech scene is stamping its mark. Change is your ally—welcome to the future. Now let’s get cozy with Dave Siemer:

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Strange Bedfellows: Can Gaga, Madonna, and Katy Perry Coexist? UMG to Buy EMI’s Record Labels—When 4 Really Become 3

Strange Bedfellows: Can Gaga, Madonna, and Katy Perry Coexist? UMG to Buy EMI’s Record Labels—When 4 Really Become 3

Back in May 2011, I wrote about Citigroup-owned EMI facing a possible buyout from Len Blavatnik’s recently-purchased Warner Music Group [WMG] and some implications of what would happen when 4 major recording companies get narrowed down to 3.

But when the sale of EMI’s recorded music product was announced while Americans were honoring the people who have served their country’s military, the big winner turned out to be someone bigger than WMG. It was Universal Music Group [UMG], once co-owned with the Universal Studios motion picture business but spun off into its own company back in 2006 by its current owner, France’s Vivendi, which, until 2000, also owned water and waste systems in addition to entertainment.

UMG put up almost $2 billion for EMI’s catalog of recordings, just a few weeks after WMG, which had put up a $1.6 billion bid that many thought would have been enough to win, but pulled out over unresolved pension liability issues for EMI’s office employees.

IMPALA, the European organization of independent record labels, is pushing the European Commission to not only block Vivendi/UMG’s purchase of EMI, but also prohibit UMG from distributing recorded music released by the new record label owned by concert promoter LiveNation, which includes a forthcoming album by the legendaryMadonna.

Katy Perry, Madonna, Lady Gaga

IMPALA might be right to be concerned, because the EMI/UMG merger, plus the latter’s partnership with LiveNation, could make for strange bedfellows. For instance, can Gaga, Madonna and Katy coexist? Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are perhaps two of the most popular singers over just the last 2 to 3 years, each with catchy chart-topping hits and successful, yet sensationally-staged, concert tours. And then, there’s Madonna…what’s been said about this Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and mother of self-reinvention that hasn’t already been said over the last three decades?

Gaga, as mentioned previously, has that “360 deal” going with UMG and its Interscope label, while Katy Perry is signed to EMI’s Capitol on what could be a standard contract, and Madonna’s $120 million deal with LiveNation, signed way back in 2007 while she was still under contract to Warner Music Group, but now in full effect and given even more weight by LiveNation’s new partnership with UMG, also falls into that 360 realm.

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Stopping Online Piracy: 5 Internet Injustices of #SOPA Bill

Stopping Online Piracy: 5 Internet Injustices of #SOPA Bill

Democratic Congressmember, Zoe Lofgren, represents a constituency in central California that includes parts of San Jose and the Silicon Valley. In late October 2011, after some of her colleagues in the US House of Representatives, led by Congressmember and Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith of Texas, introduced a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA], Ms. Lofgren declared her opposition to the proposals as “the end of the Internet as we know it.”

SOPA, sometimes known as E-PARASITE [Enforcing and Protecting American Rights Against Sites Intent on Theft and Exploitation], is the House’s equivalent of the Senate’s PROTECT-IP [Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property] bill, in that both are meant to put a stop to websites that carry content that infringes on copyrights, combined with Senate Bill 978, which would criminalize online streaming even of people who sing others’ songs on YouTube. Whatever kind of anti-online piracy legislation gets passed, there is the thinking that it could do more harm than whatever good may come of it. How so? Let us count some of the ways:

1. No due process.

Under the proposals, any copyright holder can get a court order to shut down a website that posts any infringing material without giving the accused website an opportunity to challenge such a shutdown in court. On top of that, the owner of such a website could even be denied Internet access…again, without due process.

2.  Guilt by association.

Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford told the public radio program “Marketplace” that if you so much as put up a link to a website that carries the infringed copyright material, you’ll end up just as guilty of “facilitating infringement” as the website that infringes copyright. Even Google, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube could be all but put out of business as a result.

3.  What constitutes a ‘copyright infringement’?

David Sohn of the Center for Democracy & Technology commented that under SOPA, “a central issue is that the bill’s definitions of bad websites are vague and broad.” So much so that the Future of Music Coalition commented that even legitimate sites, both within and outside of the US, could be held for violations of SOPA, thus making the Internet “too wide for comfort.” On top of that, copyright owners, by filing a court order against an infringing website, don’t have to go to court and explain their actions, which adds to there being no opportunity at justice for the accused.

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Siemer Silicon Beach Summit Aims to Brand Southern California as the Epicenter for Technology Investing — Banking on the Power of Hollywood

Siemer Silicon Beach Summit Aims to Brand Southern California as the Epicenter for Technology Investing — Banking on the Power of Hollywood

HOLLYISCO is excited to be covering The Siemer Silicon Beach Summit—a premier event formulated to meet today’s hottest trends in entertainment technology. In this article:

  • Siemer Silicon Beach Summit (Keynote by Arianna Huffington)
  • The Rise of “Silicon Beach” (The Next Wave)
  • The Emerging Celebrity-Tech Crossover (Celebrity Branding)
  • The Boom of Digital Multi-Media Companies in L.A. (Global Interest in Hollywood)

Siemer & Associates, LLC—a global, boutique, merchant bank serving digital media, software, and technology companies will host a specialized invite-only conference at the famous ‘Shutters on the Beach Hotel’ in Santa Monica next week, aptly named Siemer Silicon Beach Summit—bringing together an elite group of leading players in digital media and emerging entertainment technology companies from around the world. Co-hosted by Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP—a leading national law firm representing a sophisticated client base from Fortune 500 to a diverse range of emerging companies—the Siemer Silicon Beach Summit will draw 300+ CEOs, VC’s, and global media executives with a focused intent on increasing the recognition of Southern California as the premier epicenter for technology investing—banking on the power of Hollywood. Online media pioneer Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group, who launched HuffPo right here in Los Angeles—aka “Silicon Beach”—will present the opening keynote.

The Siemer Silicon Beach Summit is seen as a way to foster relationships and connections throughout the burgeoning international tech community—especially those companies centered on entertainment technology that comprise a large part of the “entech” startup scene currently thriving in Southern California.

“The Siemer Summit presents tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and innovators to shape the future of digital media. Connections and networks define the new media landscape, and this Summit will build both,” said Hale Boggs, a partner at Manatt who, with firm partner Jonathan Bloch, created the Summit with Siemer & Associates.

The Siemer Summit is on the cutting edge and poised to become the premier “must-attend” conference on the West Coast—“SoCal is leading the world in digital content creation, content monetization, game development, and celebrity-focused media and commerce, fueled by the expanding focus on major film, television, and music studios who are increasingly becoming purveyors of streaming video, music, and digital content,” says Seimer & Associates, LLC.

The Siemer Summit will provide 50 industry-leading companies an opportunity to showcase their visions. A sampling of presenters in attendance include:

BuzzMedia: the web’s fastest growing entertainment publisher reaching more than 50MM monthly pop culture, music, and celebrity enthusiasts worldwide. BUZZMEDIA’S more than 40-category leading brands include Buzznet, Celebuzz, Absolute Pink, and GoFugYourself to name a few, plus the official sites for celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Whitney Port, Kimora Lee Simmons, and others.

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Crowdfunding Is Totally Punk Rock! 7 Crowdfunding Musical Sights Reveiwed.

Crowdfunding Is Totally Punk Rock! 7 Crowdfunding Musical Sights Reveiwed.

So you’re a struggling musician, and you’re looking for a way to raise money toward recording an album or going on tour. In recent years, some of these struggling musicians, and even a few well-known acts, have turned to “crowdfunding” as a way of raising such money—yes, crowdfunding is totally punk rock. While crowdfunding is as grassroots as you can get when trying to raise money from friends, fans and contacts, it can also be troubling if the response isn’t so good.

Yet that hasn’t stopped what has become a crowded house of websites dedicated to crowdfunding from springing up online. Some of those sites have been used to raise money for music-related projects. Here are a few of them in review, beginning with what is perhaps the more popular crowdfunding site for music:

1. Kickstarter.com

Many musical acts, as well as many other creative types, have used Kickstarter to raise money. A fundraising goal is set, as well as a time limit to reach that goal. If the goal is met before the time runs out, the project is funded; if it’s not met in time, no money changes hands.

Over the past summer, female musicians like Julia Nunes, whose videos have been on YouTube since 2006, and Nataly Dawn, of the duo Pomplamoose, have each used Kickstarter to raise more than 5x their intended goals to fund the recording of their albums. Even the husband/wife team of author Neil Gaiman and musician Amanda Palmer—the latter very well-known both as a solo musician and as one-half of the cabaret-punk duo Dresden Dolls—used Kickstarter to raise over $100,000—also 5x their goal—for a West Coast mini-tour set to begin on Halloween 2011 in Los Angeles.

Kickstarter is free to participate, but says that it charges fees for certain services.

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Thoughts on Amy Winehouse by a Celebrity Vocal Coach and Powerful VS. Empowered Singing +3 Harmful C’s

Thoughts on Amy Winehouse by a Celebrity Vocal Coach and Powerful VS. Empowered Singing +3 Harmful C’s

Guest post by Celebrity Vocal Coach Dot Todman (C.O.R.E. Vocal Power)

Amy Winehouse as a Singer—Powerful, or Empowered?


Powerful vs. Empowered Singing

Part of why I take an emphasis on empowerment as a vocal coach is because of the short-lived careers of many artists who fall so quickly after they rise, or never even make it to the top, because they suffer the consequences of making choices that permanently damage their mind, soul, and body. And sadly, many are deceived to feel it’s part of “living the rock star lifestyle.” Unlike a guitar or a piano, which I can replace if damaged, I only have one mind, one soul, and one voice. Why not enjoy my gift of expression with clarity, good health, abundance, and longevity?

Question: Do I just want to be a powerful singer, or an empowered singer?

Was Amy Winehouse a powerful singer? Yes. Was she an empowered singer? No. While Amy Winehouse was the perfect example of being a very powerful singer, perhaps it is clear now, that just singing powerfully does not guarantee a life full of joy and success.

Life can be tough, and it’s easy to fall into traps and develop bad habits. We’re only human. Practicing empowering principles and developing positive habits help us to become powerful masters of creativity and our unique gifts. What does it take to create the confidence, ease, and grace of a truly empowered singer?

  • Time
  • Effort
  • Persistence

Amy Winehouse was just another example of how an incredible voice and all the talent in the world alone does not guarantee personal fulfillment and self empowerment. It’s a shame…and a powerful reminder of how important your Mind, Soul, and VOICE are! It’s a tough world out there. We all need to look after ourselves from the CORE.

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Wider Wifi—”White Space”

Wider Wifi—”White Space”

Previously, I wrote about how a neighborhood in Houston, Texas was experimenting with wireless broadband [a.k.a. wifi] that used unlicensed “white spaces” between TV channels. Now, it looks like this idea, based on what the Federal Communications Commission authorized back in September 2010, has bred a standard that will increase its availability.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, who sanctioned the “wireless local area network” standard known numerically as 802.11, has given a number to this new “wireless regional area network” idea…802.22. According to IEEE’s press release, the “Wireless Regional Area Networks” that can be spawned from this new standard can cover a radius of up to 62 miles [100 km], based on flat terrain, and can deliver speeds of up to 22 mbps, which, by itself, would rival most existing available broadband services, wired or wireless.

But just because a new wireless broadband standard can provide speeds equal to much of what’s available now doesn’t quite mean it will. A more realistic scenario that could occur if twelve users are on any one unoccupied “white space” channel would have speeds at just 1.5 mbps for downloading, and 384k for uploading, on a par with DSL systems.

Even so, rural areas of the US, as well as in many underdeveloped parts of the world, are reported to be the most likely of areas to gain this new wireless broadband technology once it takes hold by 2013 or so, because those areas don’t have as much Internet access, but are certain to have plenty of white spaces due to less over-the-air digital TV channels. Larger cities, which have more TV channels on air, are less likely to have “white spaces,” though “channel bonding” [more than one empty TV channel] can increase the available bandwidth.

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Followups: Rebecca Black and Rupert Murdoch on the Fame Clock

Followups: Rebecca Black and Rupert Murdoch on the Fame Clock

A couple of subjects from some of my past blogs have been getting some press lately. The first has been doing some new things, while the second has gotten into some deep trouble.

Let’s start with Rebecca Black, whom I’ve written about twice already in light of her instant success from, as well as the controversies behind, her song “Friday.” Lately, it seems like Black’s fame clock hasn’t quite run out yet. First, she did a quickie cameo appearance in the video of Katy Perry’s hit “Last Friday Night.”

Play Youtube VideoKaty Perry: Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)


Now, just as this is being written, Black is about to release a followup to “Friday,” entitled “My Moment,” which she will put up first on YouTube and iTunes, to be followed in August 2011 by a 5-song EP, which she will release herself rather than through a label, so at least she and her mom are already learning to hang on to those master recordings.

Just a few words of advice to Ms. Black, from a layperson’s perspective…just make sure you put together a grassroots tour that would benefit you financially. Options would range from a “mall tour,” like everyone from Tiffany to Selena Gomez has done over the years, with a corporate sponsor to back it; to maybe playing some small auditoriums. I was going to suggest “house concerts,” but I think you’re a bit too popular for those.

While Rebecca Black is getting more time added to her fame clock, Rupert Murdoch, the media magnate whom I wrote about last month for his plans to innovate digital education, is loosing the fame clock. Maybe you’ve known by now that Murdoch had to shut down one of his newspapers in London after charges circulated that the paper’s staff had hacked cellphones of everyone from victims of murder and 9/11/01 terrorism to celebrities and government officials.

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Three Terrific New Net Thingies: 1) Google+, 2) Skype/Facebook, and 3) Spotify U.S. Debut

Three Terrific New Net Thingies: 1) Google+, 2) Skype/Facebook, and 3) Spotify U.S. Debut

In no particular order, here are three terrific new things that are making, or are about to make, their presence felt on the Nets.

1. Google+

MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook, but can Google+ eclipse Facebook? Currently in test mode with limited invitations, which may explain why I haven’t tried it yet, Google+ is already getting some writeups all over the Web.

Google handled its late June 2011 launch of Google+ rather modestly, with just a blog and some video demos, but it does give some idea of what it will offer. Like “Circles” that could be a modern-day variation on those “Friends & Family” calling circles that the old long-distance company MCI had way back in the pre-Net 1990′s.

Google+ is also going to feature “Sparks” that enable content to be shared, because Google considers the Web to be “the ultimate icebreaker.”

Also, in a twist on the ideas of online chats and instant messaging, Google+ offers “Hangouts” that allow for multiple, in addition to one-on-one, communication. Oh, yes, and they’ll also extend the ideas to “Mobile,” thus furthering the experience.

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What’s the Problem With the Economy? ‘The Truth’ In Less Than Two Minutes Fifteen Seconds.

What’s the Problem With the Economy? ‘The Truth’ In Less Than Two Minutes Fifteen Seconds.

Whenever a complex issue like the economy can be summed up in a matter of seconds, or in this case a matter of minutes, regardless of viewpoint—it’s worth a  post.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich delivers “the big picture in less than two minutes fifteen seconds.”

  • Economy doubles since 1980, but wages flat

1. Since 1980, the American economy has doubled in size. But adjusting for inflation, most people’s wages have barely increased.

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Does The ‘TV Everywhere’ (Almost, But Not Quite) Business Model Violate Antitrust Laws?

Does The ‘TV Everywhere’ (Almost, But Not Quite) Business Model Violate Antitrust Laws?

During a video advertising summit meeting held in New York during the first week of June 2011, representatives from Comcast/NBC, TimeWarner’s Turner, and Disney’s ESPN, predicted that TV “everywhere” was imminent, and that by 2013, three-fourths of TV content would be available online and on mobile devices.

The representatives are already aware of the impact that Netflix is making, but they also think that broadband caps could be what would hold it back, to say nothing of trying to clear the rights for much of that content.

Since Comcast is both an owner of cable-phone-broadband systems, as well as a content provider through its ownership of NBC, USA, Syfy, MSNBC, CNBC, Versus, Golf Channel, Weather Channel, Bravo, Oxygen and a few other channels, it can be argued that the idea of “TV everywhere” advocated by Comcast, among others, could clash with their own idea of capping their subscribers’ use of broadband.

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Rupert Murdoch…Digital Education Innovator?

Rupert Murdoch…Digital Education Innovator?

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about school being out and virtual school being in. The latest twist on this idea could come from someone you never thought would involve himself in education, but this person has what he thinks is a good reason why.

Say what you want about media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, but at a Paris forum of Internet entrepreneurs and European policymakers, the 20th Century-Fox / Wall Street Journal / Sky News owner said that education was “the last holdout from the digital revolution,” and that “today’s classroom looks almost exactly the same as it did in the Victorian age.” That’s the 19th century he was just referencing.

Mr. Murdoch also told this forum, the e-G8 conference, attended by everyone from Google head Eric Schmidt and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to President Sarkozy of France, that throwing money at the problem doesn’t work, and challenged the assembled to “bring to our schools the same creative force that makes businesses competitive and nations thrive.”

Rupert Murdoch

Given that this is the same Rupert Murdoch who’s had his hands in everything over the years from those naked “Page 3 Girls” in his daily Sun tabloid in London to such “wild” TV cartoon shows as “The Simpsons” and “Family Guy,” to the “fair and balanced” Fox News Channel, who knew that he would go into the education business? And to help him out in this cause, he hired a former New York City schools chancellor named Joel Klein.

Even while he was running the schools in New York City, then-Chancellor Klein supervised a pilot project in the Chinatown neighborhood back in 2009 called “School of One,” which implies the kind of online individualized instruction that Mr. Murdoch has been pushing for, in a variation on that “Victorian age” model of an adult giving lessons to a group of young students who learn at different levels.

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SF MusicTech Summit—Music. People. Tech.

SF MusicTech Summit—Music. People. Tech.

On Monday, May 9, visionaries and high-tech players from all parts of the music technology spectrum will meet in San Francisco for the SF MusicTech Summit to “talk shop” on the evolving music industry ecosystem—converging culture and commerce and bringing together the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians, and organizations in a proactive dealmaking environment.

The range of guest speakers, panelists, and attendees include founders and representatives from leading music-tech companies like Slacker, SoundExchange, Pandora, Topspin Media, Live Nation, and MOG, to tech and business press like TechCrunch, Bloomberg / Businessweek Magazine, and Billboard Magazine, to musicians like Lead Singer of Incubus, Brandon Boyd, and Incubus Guitarist, Mike Einziger, to VC groups like Walden Venture Capital, and organizations like GoGirls Music —”Cuz Chicks Rock!” says their Fearless Leader and Founder of Social Networks for Business, Madaln Sklar.

One of my favorite, new music-tech businesses in attendance is StageIt—a platform that brings together artists and fans, akin to a modern-day fireside chat. StageIt was founded by Evan Lowenstein of Evan and Jaron—the Pop/Rock, Top 40 hit-making duo who topped the charts in 2000 while signed with Columbia Records with their self-titled album Evan and Jaron—the StageIt concept is ripe and ready to blow-open living room doors across the globe by providing a platform for artists to “interact with your fans LIVE at anytime and from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have millions of fans or just a few, you now have an online stage where you can showcase your talents to the world and make money!”

“StageIt isn’t about broadcasting concerts online. It’s about sharing the amazing moments that happen in between. Did a friend drop by to jam? StageIt. Got a new tune you’re working on? StageIt. Getting ready to go on stage? StageIt. The front row seat is the most expensive in the house, but the place everyone wants to be is backstage. We made it so easy for you to finally give your fans a row seat to your ‘backstage’ experiences.”

How cool is that? What’s even cooler? Alongside an artist’s live performance onscreen is a tip jar, merchandise store, and chat window—clever, classy, brilliant, and 100% on par with the future.

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Apple Tracking: Who Would Have Thought They Would Become Big Brother?

Apple Tracking: Who Would Have Thought They Would Become Big Brother?

Yesterday, O’Reilly Media researchers, Alasdair Allan and Pete Warden released an article exposing a hidden file that records every movement  of an iPhone. All iPhones store location data in a file called consolidated.db. Warden released an OS X application to show users the significance of their discovery. The application shows each user where they have been since last July. Not only is the data stored on your phone but also your computer.

This database of your locations is stored on your iPhone as well as in any of the automatic backups that are made when you sync it with iTunes.

This isn’t the first time we have heard of the file. In fact in February 2011, Sean Morrissey and Alex Levinson previewed Lantern 2.0 at a Cyber Crimes Conference in Washington DC.  Lantern 2.0 however is a commercial forensics product that retails from $600-700. And before that, Alex Levinson began work on the vulenerabilities of iPhone and iPad. Check that out by clicking here.

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Reality is Broken: Gaming Makes the World Better!

Reality is Broken: Gaming Makes the World Better!

Gaming has always made me happy. But now, I have proof that I NEED to play. Last year, relatively unknown game designer, Jane McGonigal gave a speech at TED that began a movement by which a new term, and industry would evolve. Jane postulated that playing games, makes us better people. And now, she is launching a book that describes in detail that theory. To be honest, this is something I already knew being an avid gamer, but what makes her “studies” more poignant is the fact that we are starting to believe the science behind Gamification.

Jane said some, at the time, outrageous thing like: “If we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, I believe that we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week, by the end of the next decade.”

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Google Management: Musical Chairs, Facebook Frenemies, and One Man Overboard—Possibly

Google Management: Musical Chairs, Facebook Frenemies, and One Man Overboard—Possibly

Jonathan Rosenberg, the Chief of Product Development at Google, said Monday that he plans to step down in coming months. A nine year veteran at Google, Rosenberg makes the announcement on the very day that Co-Founder Larry Page takes the reins in the CEO chair.

Jonathan Rosenberg

San Jose Mercury News reported that as Page reclaims the role of CEO from Eric Schmidt, Google’s co-founder has asked his senior executives to make long-term, multiyear commitments that they will remain at the company. Rosenberg, a member of the executive committee that makes Google’s key strategic decisions, said in an interview Monday that he decided he could not fulfill that promise to Page, given his long-held plans to leave the company around the time his daughter goes to college in 2013.

Larry Page, CEO Google, and Wife Lucy

This just can’t be good. If after all these years the tight-knitted group of the executive team begins to unravel as Page comes in, there is more a-brewing at the company than the normal anti-trust lawsuits and Facebook frenemy fighting. Clearly Rosenberg saw something that has weighed on him. Is it Page? Or is it because he was one of the trusted ones on team Schmidt? And is it important to anyone, especially Page, that he decided to announce the decision on the very day that Page starts as CEO?

Googleplex Culture

It’s not lost on any of us that Google has had some retention problems. They started a mass hiring a few months back and are still trying to attract great talent. But at what cost? Google isn’t necessarily the place people love to go to work, but to be fair it’s not the most hated either. Whatever it is about the company culture at Google, what is clear is that the ship is turning and one of the top officers is about to jump overboard.

This doesn’t mean that things cannot be great or on the verge of getting better. Sometimes change is needed. This.. this is a big one!

Geocaching: A SmartPhone Adventure

Geocaching: A SmartPhone Adventure

As much as I love being indoors playing on some computing device, there are times when I want to be out playing in the sun. I am fortunate that I live in Southern California. I spend weekends exploring the many things to do from Ventura to San Diego. But something caught my eye recently. Geocaching.

What is this thing might you ask? Let me tell you.

Geocaching Hide-and-Seek Container

Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver, or other navigational techniques, to hunt hide-and-seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches,” anywhere in the world. Simply: It’s a treasure hunting game that requires some sort of GPS. Think pirate maps where “X” marks the spot, but then add technology.

Geocaching is more similar to the 150-year-old game letterboxing, which uses clues and references to landmarks embed into stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 1, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon.

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Textbooks Go Kindle, Grades Increase

Textbooks Go Kindle, Grades Increase

When the school term started in August 2010, Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida USA, embarked on a new approach to that old scholastic standby known as the textbook.

You remember textbooks? They were those big, clunky, printed things you had to lug around from class to class 5 or 6 times each day, and you weren’t supposed to write on, or otherwise mess, with them. Then, when the day was done, you either had to store the books in a locker and hope no one broke in and stole them. Or, perhaps, you took one or more of those books home with you if you had to do some homework.

But the new approach that Clearwater High took was one that was never tried before, at least not on-campus, and that was giving each student an e-reader; specifically, a Kindle. This “Kindle-ization” at Clearwater High not only made it easier on the students as far as carrying books around, but it also made it easier on the school itself because of the savings in costs versus buying hard-copy textbooks.

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Social Media to the Rescue: Helps with Network Congestion

Social Media to the Rescue: Helps with Network Congestion

The state of the mobile network during and after Japan’s earthquake was in shambles. The emergency services and local authorities used what was left of the badly damaged network. But fear not my little social media peeps; during such emergencies, it seems Twitter, Facebook, and in Japan’s case Mixi all remained untouched by the natural disaster.

Ok kids, let’s explore what happens and how social networks are the best source of communication during major catastrophes.

  1. The primary objective of any network provider during an emergency is to immediately limit the cell phone (voice) usage on the network. It needs to be maintained for emergency purposes only. Having everyone on the network is usually not a good thing in normal circumstances, but especially in emergency situations. And the gut reaction, we all have them, is to make a phone call to hear the voice of a friend or loved one.
  2. The second objective of the network provider is that it needs to control its sms (text) service. As with all techie nations Japan uses text as a viable form of communication, not just to find which bar the friends are headed to. But communication with all circles in their lives.

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Shaken Up! The iShake App Measures Earthquake Damage—A Valuable Emergency Tool.

Shaken Up! The iShake App Measures Earthquake Damage—A Valuable Emergency Tool.

As seen in Japan, earthquakes are monsters. The latest info and technology has been aimed at prediction and awareness. However, the latest in earthquake technology has turned to the community at large. The iShake Project developed by University of California, Berkeley Civil Engineering is using the smartphone network to help emergency responders locate the most heavily damaged areas during an earthquake through its user base. The new “social media,” and I hesitate to label it that, application uses the accelerometer to collect ground motion intensity and runs in the background of your smartphone. When an earthquake hits, it sends a report to emergency services to assess the most damaged areas so that they are able to respond accordingly.

This turns every phone with the app into an effective earthquake measuring device. The data gleaned from the application is a valuable source of information, not only for emergency responders, but for us John Q. Public. The application allows us to see the damaged areas as well through its iShake map. We then can avoid areas of heavy damage and allow the responders to get in. Through iShake people will be able to make use of their own smartphones and participate in an effective and valuable process to inform emergency responders in the event of an earthquake.

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Developer Notebook: Watch Out!! They Want To Ruin Your Creation!

Developer Notebook: Watch Out!! They Want To Ruin Your Creation!

Every developer of mobile applications faces the same issues: discovery, monetization, and security. Well, security wasn’t at the forefront until something happened that changed the industry. As seen recently, the mobile world for the first “real” time has been under attack. Last week’s attack on Android has shown there are serious flaws in security. Experts in security have predicted that smartphones will be targeted heavily as more users migrate from computers to smartphones in 2011. Moreover, the attack is even new to the world of computing. For the first time hackers can send malware packets and it costs the user real money.

While Google has reportedly expunged over 50 apps on the Android Market, it is very clear that malware and piracy on mobile devices are at the forefront of the new generation of hackers. It is important for mobile developers to begin a paradigm shift in the business and technology models in maintaining a healthy marketplace for mobile users. And more importantly, for the business. In the meantime Google and the likes will have to battle quickly to change the mindset of the community. After last week’s attack Google responded with some vague notions of their plans to help in the cyber war.

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SXSW 2011 ‘The Power of the International Geek Community’ and Sound-Bites with Tim O’Reilly

SXSW 2011 ‘The Power of the International Geek Community’ and Sound-Bites with Tim O’Reilly

I’m at the Austin Convention Center as SXSW “Day 1″ is officially underway. Parking was almost a nightmare, but I narrowly escaped the loop-around by finding an open lot on 7th & Trinity, phew. On the way in, I spotted one of Chris Sacca’s latest ventures—Uber Cab. I had seen him tweet that Uber was making its debut in the Austin market during SXSW.

While awaiting keynote speakers, or interview rather, with the amazing Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media) by Jason Calacanis in Ballroom D on Level 4, everybody is friendly and opening up conversations centered around technology and living. For example, the two guys next to me are talking about the latest trends in education-based technology, Bill Gates, and The Food Network.

The opening remarks from the SXSW camp centered around “The power of the international geek community,” and indeed, that is the feeling of the day and perhaps the week here as the SXSW Interactive, Film & Music Conference rolls on. As well, SXSW has set up relief efforts for Japan, hoping to raise $10,000 this week. To donate, please visit SXSW4Japan. Yes, the power of the international geek community is alive.

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