YC-Funded PagerDuty Makes Sure Your Team Knows When A Server Goes Down

Server downtime is a fact of life for most web administrators, and there’s no shortage of products and software that make it easy to monitor when something has gone awry. Of course, an inbox full of urgent emails telling you your server is frying isn’t too helpful when you’re sound asleep.That’s where PagerDuty, a startup that launched a year ago, is looking to help. Today the company is announcing that it has received funding from Y Combinator; it’s also forged a deal with monitoring platform CloudKick, is launching an API, and is losing its beta tag.

PagerDuty lets you set up and prioritize alerts for an entire team, with the ability to send SMS and voice messages along with the standard email alerts. And if a team member isn’t responding, the system can automatically escalate the alerts — for example, if an email isn’t answered quickly, an SMS could be sent a few minutes later, and so on. Another option is to start alerting other team members if someone isn’t responding. The service also lets you set up on-duty calendars, allowing you to alternate who you want to alert first depending on the date.

PagerDuty isn’t the only solution for receiving alerts about your server status — just about all server status software offers email alerts; some offer SMS as well. And there are also plugins available for some open-source software that add some of these features. That said, the PagerDuty team says that it’s a pretty involved process to implement these features, and they have a few that the others dont.

For one, they offer two-way SMS (you can respond to an SMS alert with a message saying you’re on the case). And it’s also SaaS, whereas other solutions generally involve uploading and installing the software yourself. Another SaaS service that offers some similar features is Wormly.

The process for getting PagerDuty working with your system varies a bit depending on your setup. If you’re using Nagios (which is quite popular), PagerDuty offers a plugin that should work seamlessly. The service also recently launched an API feature that lets you use any service that can make an API call. And if that isn’t an option, you can just have your monitoring system send alert emails to PagerDuty, which can in turn send SMS/Voice alerts according to the rules you’ve set up.

Pricing for PagerDuty runs $12 a month for a single user, and runs $300/month for a bigger team (there are also custom plans for large organizations).

PagerDuty was founded by ex-Amazon employees, who say that as engineers they were using a similar system that was built in-house (they say that other large companies like Google have also built similar systems). They’re hoping to serve the large number of smaller businesses who could also benefit from less downtime, but don’t have the resources to build tools of their own.

Information provided by CrunchBase

TechCrunch Friday Giveaway: We Don’t Want This Xbox, So You Can Have It

A few weeks ago Microsoft sent us the new Xbox 360. No note or explanation, just a another random box delivered to our address. It’s been sitting here unopened and no one in the office seems to want it. So, we’re going to give it away. This is the new slim version that’s Kinect-ready.

There’s also a bunch of additional stuff that came with it, we’ll send all that to you, too (see photo below).

Here’s how you can win: Just “like” (fan) the TechCrunch Facebook page and/or the TechCrunch Google Buzz page and then do one of two things: either retweet this post, and make sure to include the #crunch hashtag, or leave a comment below telling us why this device must be yours.

Anyone in the world is eligible, as long as you can receive delivered packages. And we’ll throw in a TechCrunch tshirt. The contest ends at noon California time tomorrow (Saturday). Please only tweet the message once, anyone tweeting repeatedly will be disqualified. We’ll randomly select a winner tomorrow afternoon and contact you for more details.

Breaking: French Government Still Can’t Get France.fr live

On July 13, three days ago, France launched France.fr to give the world a multilingual website with information about the country. It shortly went down. And stayed down. Today we checked back in to see how the little site was doing. Not so well, it turns out.

This is more than a mild embarrassment for France’s senior government official overseeing the Internet, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. When the site launched she tweeted out “Lancement aujourd’hui du portail officiel de la France dans le monde” (“Today’s launch of official website of France in the world”). She’s been rather quiet since then.

We’ll let you know if/when the French government is able to make the site live. If the country’s experience with building aircraft carriers is any indication of their ability to build websites, we should see it limping along sometime in 2013.

Bonus link: click the flag.

Update: Huh. they did manage to change the site is down message though. It used to say it was a victim of its own success, or something similar. Now it says, roughly “The team France.fr regret not being able to help you find the gate of France. We are currently facing a problem configuring our servers. We have undertaken an audit of all systems to allow us to reopen as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and very quick!”

Skype Mysteriously Vanishes From The iPhone App Store (Updated)

This is odd. Skype, which has offered an iPhone application for quite a while and recently released a version that gives users the ability to make calls over 3G, has vanished from the App Store. This is especially strange because Skype was recently featured on stage during the debut of iPhone’s OS 4.0, which will allow for the application to run in the background. We reached out to Skype about this and were told that they’re currently investigating:

We’re not seeing the Skype app in the App store. We’re very eager to get to the bottom of this, and I can tell you this has nothing to do with our Verizon deal. The Skype for iPhone app and the Skype Mobile app on Verizon Wireless phones have co-existed.

Update: Skype says that this is due to the fact that they just uploaded a new version of Skype for iPhone 4.0 which had “some difficulties” and that they’re working to fix it:

Today, Skype just submitted a new version of its iOS4 build to Apple. In the process we encountered some difficulties. Skype will work quickly to get its current Skype for iPhone app back up as soon as possible.”

Update 2: Alright, looks like it’s back.
There’s still a page on Skype’s official site that details the application’s features and doesn’t give any indication that the application is being killed off. But Skype’s mobile site oddly omits any mention of it — it only talks about BlackBerry and Android devices from Verizon. We’ll update as we learn more.

Thanks to Will Shanklin for the tip

Information provided by CrunchBase

Yelp’s Android App Approaching One Million Downloads

Yelp has one of the most popular apps on the iPhone, but its Android app is catching on too. Launched last December, the app is approaching one million downloads and activity on the app is picking up like crazy due to a recent upgrade that adds the ability to check into Yelp locations and Tweet them out or share them on Facebook. The number of active users is growing 50 percent week over week, according to Yelp.

Across all mobile phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android), Yelp has 2.5 million active users a month. The vast majority of those are still on the iPhone. And while, this is only a small fraction (7 percent) of the 34 million monthly unique visitors going to the Website, mobile users account for 27 percent of Yelp’s local searches. CEO Jeremy Stoppleman tells me that mobile is Yelps’ “fastest area of growth.”

With 2.5 million active mobile app users, Yelp has slightly more active mobile users than Foursquare has total registered users, and it is definitely moving into Foursquare’s territory with its check-ins and recent addition of badges, dukedoms, and kingdoms. And while you can broadcast your check-ins to Twitter or Facebook, Yelp does not let you check into Foursquare from its apps.

The game mechanics are definitely driving usage, but one thing you can’t do on Yelp’s mobile apps is post reviews! “It would just be annoying if the average review had punctuation errors and was obviously written on the phone,” explains Stoppleman, “so we added quick tips instead.” I predict he will have to bend and let mobile reviews take over. I’ll be sure to ask him about his stance at our Social Currency Crunchup on July 30, where Stoppleman will be speaking along with Google VP John Hanke (who heads up Google Places, Maps, earth, and local search).

Information provided by CrunchBase

Mapping Earthquake Recovery Projects in Haiti

Haiti is still struggling to recover from the 7-point magnitude earthquake that struck on January 12th. The natural disaster disrupted everything there, including the systems that keep water clean, garbage away from homes and farm land, and people (let alone habitat and animals) healthy.

Despite an outpouring of donations and promises to help from international nonprofits, shelter, food and medical care are still hard to find and hard to deliver in Haiti, according to recent reports from the United Nations. A new website — HaitiAidMap.org – aims to increase the efficacy and visibility of U.S. non-government orgnizations relief efforts on the ground in Haiti, though.

It maps NGO projects in country, updates them in real time, and makes information about these searchable by category, location or the NGO’s name. The site was created by InterAction, a Washington D.C. based alliance of 192 poverty-alleviating NGOs, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center. It is sponsored by FedEx.

The president and chief executive of InterAction, Samuel A. Worthington, says he was inspired to use mapping innovation for NGOs originally while working on a special report for former president Bill Clinton about the relief efforts following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 that killed 230,000 people across 14 countries.

“We wanted to apply lessons learned from the Tsunami immediately following the earthquake in Haiti. One of the first things we did was to establish an NGO Coordination Office there, associated with the United Nations, to ensure better coordination among nonprofits with the UN-system and Haiti’s government both. [We] clearly needed to know where the NGO community was working at all times. A map had been done after earlier hurricanes, but it was static, a sheet of paper. Given the size of the engagement, we needed better data,” he says.

InterAction began working on the pilot site in February. Geo-location software makers FortiusOne and open source tech consultants Development Seed built the site using GeoIQ and OpenStreetMap technology.

HaitiAidMap.org allows NGOs to link their databases (which can be as simple as Excel spreadsheets) to the site. It renders all of their data about in-country projects on a single, easily readable, interactive map. The projects are searchable by name, location, or “cluster,” through check boxes, drop-down menus, and the interactive map itself. (There’s no search field, however.)

Clusters, or categories of relief work include things like: shelter and non-food items, water sanitation and hygiene, protection or health.

Clicking on the map, it’s easy to learn things like: large central cities such as Delmas, Port Au Prince and Carrefour have more than 100 water sanitation and hygiene relief projects, while the Southern city of Port Salut has just two. Yes, Port Salut was further from the epicenter of the earthquake. But it was still damaged badly enough that many of its communities still lack necessities, and electricty though temperatures this summer have routinely ranged above 100 degrees Fahrenheit there.

Because HaitiAidMap.org aggregates NGOs’ data, relief workers and philanthropists can use it to identify where there may be a gap in services, and thus where their help is needed.

InterAction, Worthington says, has a broader goal for its mapping project: “We want to be able to map all U.S. non-government organizations’ projects globally, to see all of their billions of dollars of work around the world. By harmonizing data, and providing this mapping tool that’s linked to the databases of NGOs, starting with members of InterAction, we think we can do this within the decade.”

Eighty-one InterAction members are involved in Haiti relief efforts, and about 50 have projects operating there.

Information provided by CrunchBase

Happy Friday: 100 More Tickets Released for July 30 Summer Party

>>Groupon Clone Script<<

groupon clone script

Just $89, Full Featured ,Paypal, Tweet Machine

UPDATE: Batch if tickets is sold out. Check back again next week.

We’re releasing another 100 tickets now to our July 30 summer party at August Capital. Act fast if you want one, these things sell out in less than an hour.

If you don’t get a ticket, don’t email me begging for one. Come to our Social Currency Crunchup earlier that day instead. A ticket to the CrunchUp gives you entry to the party afterwards.

We’ve got a great lineup of startups and investors ready to explore the rapidly growing realms of social commerce, the local Web, Geo, and game mechanics.

  • Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and Google VP of Product Management John Hanke (who is in charge of Google Places, Google Maps, Google Earth, and local search) will discuss how the Web is taking over the Yellow Pages for local businesses and how mobile is accelerating that trend.
  • Groupon CEO Andrew Mason will explain what’s behind the explosive growth of social buying talk about how the online coupon business is changing with News America Marketing president Chris Mixson.
  • Twitter product manager Shiva Rajaraman (who runs @earlybird), Foursquare’s biz dev dynamo Tristan Walker, and CityGrid Media’s Kara Nortman will discuss how social media and commerce can go hand-in-hand.
  • Tapulous founder (and now Disney Mobile exec) Bart Decrem and SGN CEO Shervin Pishevar will talk about what makes social and mobile games addictive and how game mechanics are filtering beyond games to other types of products.  You can see the full agenda here

Summer Party Details:
July 30, 2010
5:30 – 10:00 pm
2480 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park CA
Get Summer Party Tickets Now @ Eventbrite: $30. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferrable, based on availability.

And while the summer party is always a lot of fun, we encourage you to spend the whole day with TechCrunch and join our Social Currency CrunchUp at Stanford’s amazing Arrillaga Alumni Center. We have an amazing line up and lots of fun surprises still to be announced. Trust us. And you get expedited fast-pass entry into the summer party at August Capital.

About the Social Currency CrunchUp:
July 30, 2010
9 am – 4:00 pm
Arrillaga Alumni Center, Stanford University
326 Galvez Street, Palo Alto, CA 94305
Get CrunchUp-Party Combo Tickets Now @ Eventbrite: $295 INCLUDES admission for one (1) to the August Capital party and expedited fast-pass door entry. You DO NOT need to purchase a separate August Capital Party ticket if you purchase a CrunchUp ticket. Tickets are non-transferrable, based on availability. Capacity limited to 500 attendees.
All details here.

Please contact Heather Harde or Jeanne Logozzo for sponsorship opportunities and help support our summer tech fest.

Contact Laura Boychenko to request a press pass.

Social Fundraising Engine BlueSwarm Raises Angel Round, Heads West [Video]

Since its launch, BlueSwarm has raised more than $172 million for fundraising campaigns, with the vast majority of those funds directed towards political election campaigns.

The startup, which is a platform that leverages social media tools to attract and track donations, has wooed many politicians, including several gubernatorial candidates like Massachusetts’ Charlie Baker, Wisconsin’s Tom Barrett and California’s Meg Whitman. Whitman, who has already invested a decent portion of her personal fortune into her campaign, has also amassed more than $20 million through BlueSwarm.

Now, it’s time for BlueSwarm to do a bit of fundraising on its own.

Although far from $172 million, the startup has raised an $800,000 angel round from a collection of individual investors, including Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen. Originally founded in Boston in 2009 by Erik Nilsson, the company is also decamping for Silicon Valley. Last week, BlueSwarm officially moved its headquarters to Palo Alto as part of its larger expansion plan and a growing need to attract top tier talent in social media and consumer software development.

Political fundraising is going through a dramatic transformation.

Traditionally, politicians have heavily relied on sophisticated fundraisers who bundled donations from a network of wealthy patrons.  Now, with varying degrees of success, politicians are becoming more web-focused to take advantage of social networking channels. One of the most notable examples is, of course, President Obama’s 2008 campaign. By developing a sharp online portal and tapping into Facebook’s power, the candidate raised roughly half a billion online from 3 million donors and some 6.5 million donations— most of those donations were in increments of $100 or less.

BlueSwarm, along with its competitors, are trying to facilitate this evolution by creation a platform to help politicians connect with small and large donors and ultimately, transform those donors into fundraisers. BlueSwarm is a program that lets any campaign manage and track all online donations, recruit new fundraisers and review their progress.

There is also a Facebook app, which allows anyone to sign up to donate for your campaign and promote the cause within their social circle. The idea is to create a tree of donors and fundraisers that constantly expands, as people use their personal connections to pull in their friends.”The key is that I get my personal brand on it before it gets to you…and then it becomes a personal request,” says Dave Boyce, BlueSwarm’s newly minted CEO.

According to Boyce, BlueSwarm is processing more and more transactions — the number of contributions doubled in the second quarter from the first quarter.

The company says the platform is currently being used in 50% of US Senate races and 30% of gubernatorial races, in addition to many local races. However, despite the high volume of transactions, the amount of revenues is still fairly low because BlueSwarm only takes a 2.9% cut.

In order for the team of 12 employees to expand and turn profitable, the platform will need to see a major growth in transactions. US political campaigns, which form a $3 billion annual market, currently serve as the backbone BlueSwarm’s business. Thus, BlueSwarm will need to aggressively expand in other markets, such as university and alumni giving organizations, to get a major lift in volume. Boyce contends, it’s a matter of when, not if, “We’re just entering those markets now, we’re in a dozen conversations with universities, three of whom are saying they want to go live this summer,” Boyce says. “Universities in the US raise $30 billion a year, so it’s 10 times larger from a market size.

Full interview above.

Boyce also joined us, along with angel investor Chris Sacca, for our daily episode of TechCrunch NOW. We discuss a PR roadmap for Apple and those hilariously odd The Social Network trailers.

Information provided by CrunchBase

European Ministers Push to Increase Target for EU Carbon Emissions

Ministers from France, Germany and the UK are calling for the EU to cut its carbon emissions by 30% on 1990 levels by 2020, arguing that failure to reach the goal will have long-term economic consequences. The current target is a 20% reduction from 1990 levels.

The officials say increasing the target will help create jobs in clean energy sectors and help keep the EU competitive with China, Japan and the US, each of which is investing in green technology and sustainable energy. The US has set a goal of reducing 2005 greenhouse gas emissions 17% by 2020.

Renewable power sources such as wind and solar made for more than half of all new electricity capacity added in Europe and the US last year, according to a report from the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).

This chart from the European Wind Energy Association that the EU as a whole has been on target to meet its 20% carbon emissions goal, though it might need to ramp things up to reach 30%:

(You can download the original PDF here.)

This is good news for green tech, and supported by the continued growth of sustainable energy investments worldwide, despite the economic downturn.

DA Withdraws iPhone 4 Warrant, Returns Gizmodo Editor Jason Chen’s Possessions

The iPhone 4 may be available to the general public, but the police investigation into the leaked device that Gizmodo purchased last spring is still going strong. Now there’s been a new development: the EFF reports that the San Mateo District Attorney has withdrawn the warrant it used to search Gizmodo editor Jason Chen’s house last April, when it confiscated multiple computers, hard drives, and other electronics.

Update: The Wall Street Journal reports that Gawker has reached an agreement with investigators. Chen’s materials will be returned, and Gawker/Chen will be voluntarily handing over materials deemed “relevant to the case” by a court appointee.

The seizure of these possessions was quite controversial — the EFF said it was illegal and should have been protected by California’s Shield Law. When I called the District Attorney about the case in April, I was told that the investigation was on hold as these issues were considered, and that Chen’s property was sitting in a warehouse untouched. It’s apparently been sitting there for months. At the time, I noted how bizarre the series of events were:

When I asked if it was typical for the DA to evaluate the relevance of these shield laws after removing evidence, Wagstaffe did concede that it was unusual. Which makes the situation extremely od d— it should have been readily apparent that Gawker would defend its actions using this shield law defense, why put the brakes on after the fact?

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Chen is in the clear. The EFF says that police could “attempt to subpoena the same material without running afoul of section 1524(g) and still proceed with their case.”

Document via EFF

Google Acquires Metaweb To Make Search Smarter

Google has bought semantic search startup Metaweb, according to recent post on the search giant’s blog. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Metaweb develops both semantic data storage infrastructure for the web, and Freebase, an “open, shared database of the world’s knowledge”. Freebase is a massive, collaboratively edited database of cross-linked data. The idea behind the product is to create a system for building the semantic web. Freebase allows anyone to contribute, structure, search, copy and use data. It sounds like Wikipedia, but instead of arranging by articles, it is more of an almanac, organized like a database, and readable by people and software. You can read our previous coverage of Freebase here.

Clearly, Google is acquiring Metaweb to boost its own search offerings. Metaweb’s database of tagged data will help make Google search smarter. And Freebase will be maintained as a free and open database but Google will continue to develop and contribute to Freebase. According to a blog post on the Freebase site, the site will increase the frequency of its downloadable database dumps from quarterly to weekly. The company says that it will continue to support Metaweb’s existing partners, but won’t be taking on new partners.

Co-founded by Danny Hills, Metaweb has raised close to $60 million from Omidyar Network, Millennium technology Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Goldman Sachs.

Apple: iPhone 4 Antenna Software Fix Claim “Patently False”

Today during the Q&A session after the iPhone 4 antenna press conference a question was asked about the report in the New York Times yesterday that there will be a software fix for the issue. CEO Steve Jobs fielded the question but was confused as to how anyone would think there could be a software fix for a problem that’s an issue with many smartphones, as he put it. But SVP Scott Forstall spoke up to directly answer it. “That statement is incorrect,” Forstall stated.

He then stood up to elaborate. He says the report in NYT (which cited an anonymous source) was “patently false.” He said that there is no bug in the baseband software that is causing the issue — and so no software update can fix it.

That said, he did note that they continue to tune the way baseband works. And that they’ll continue to do that all the time. These may help certain issues, but for this issue specifically, there will be no software fix.

Earlier, Jobs also reiterated Apple’s stance that a BusinessWeek report stating Jobs was told about the antenuation issue before the iPhone 4 launched. ”Yeah, it’s a total crock,” Jobs said. He continued, “total bullshit.”

iPhone 4: Consumer Reports Needs To Get It Together

Sometimes I want to buy something like a blender or a car or a washing machine. And sometimes my wonderful and loving mother (her birthday is coming up) finds out because I accidentally tell her, or my dad does, or she uses that mom ESP thing that she used to find out I was hiding beer in my closet in high school.

Anyway, she finds out. And then I can’t buy the one I want to buy, the shiny one on Amazon, because some issue of Consumer Reports said that the better one is the boring unshiny one and I need to be more responsible and stop wasting money on stupid stuff. And so a chart of red and black dots gets to decide for me. Because one thing I’ve learned in life is to never make mom unhappy. She’s upset enough that her son turned out to be a blogger, whatever that is.

But the thing is, that trust that my mom gives to Consumer Reports was hard earned over decades of obsessive use. She trusts Consumer Reports. And if I read it I might trust it too. If they rated stuff on shininess I’d definitely subscribe. Or if they rated robots.

But suddenly Consumer Reports is crazy for the link bait. This iPhone 4 antenna problem has them going absolutely batshit crazy, and nearly every day they’re firing off a new set of recommendations, or demands, that conflict with the old recommendations and demands.

I would like to say this is just process journalism and applaud it. But they actually seem completely schizophrenic. It’s not a process, it’s chaos theory.

The best parts are the constant updates to all the old articles where they try to justify all of their conflicting justifications simultaneously.

July 2: “iPhone 4′s supposed signal woes aren’t unique, and may not be serious”

July 3: “iPhone 4 signal debate rages; we experience signal loss in some calls”

July 12: “Consumer Reports can’t recommend the iPhone 4,” adding “Cover the antenna gap with a piece of duct tape or another thick, non-conductive material. It may not be pretty, but it works.”

July 13: “Why Apple—and not its customers—should fix the iPhone 4″ (what happened to the duct tape?)

July 14: Forget the duct tape! “Apple’s Bumper case alleviates the iPhone 4 signal-loss problem”

People who subscribe to Consumer Reports don’t want to read about using duct tape to fix their stuff. They aren’t early adopters and they do want to be given a clear buy rating. They don’t need breathless up to the minute updates on what sticky non-conductive material will be best suited to make a broken phone work. My poor mother must be so confused right now.

So I’ll just tell her what she needs to know: Don’t buy anything that needs duct tape to work properly. DO NOT BUY an iPhone 4 until this problem is fixed. And then still don’t buy one because AT&T is awful. Buy an Android instead.

How I Think The iPhone 4 Antenna Press Conference Is Going To Play Out

Perhaps you heard, Apple is having a little press conference on Friday. The reason? Officially, it’s about the iPhone 4. That’s all they’ll say. But everyone knows the slightly more detailed reason: the iPhone 4′s antenna.

The only details Apple is giving out about the event is that it’s going to take place on their campus on Friday morning at 10 AM PT. But talking to some other people who got calls from Apple as well about the event may hold some clues as to what we can expect.

First and foremost, the whole thing is bizarre. Apple has announced events with very little notification before, but never this little notification. The event is Friday morning and they notified people on Wednesday evening (or night for those people on the east coast). This essentially gives people one day notice.

And they’re calling people across the U.S. about it, and asking if they can make it. For some, this means last-minute cross country flights. Obviously, Apple isn’t going to be paying for those, so it’s not clear how many people from outside the Bay Area are going to attend.

And many are unsure if they should attend because Apple is being so vague about what they’ll be talking about. But you have to imagine if it’s a last-second press conference, it has to be pretty major, right? Not necessarily.

My sense is that the main idea behind this event is to get a bunch of big publications and other key Apple influencers into a room to go over the iPhone 4 antenna issue once and for all. I have little doubt that Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself will be leading this discussion, with other Apple executives talking as well. I also suspect we may see some antenna and wireless industry experts to offer their insights as well.

The purpose of such a gathering would be to cut off the backlash against the iPhone 4 at the knees. The Consumer Reports flip-flop would seem to be the major catalyst here. And regardless of what you think of Consumer Reports, Apple knows that it is a brand many average consumers trust. In fact, Apple has had no problem citing it before when they rate the iPhone favorably (incidentally, the iPhone 4 is Consumer Reports’ highest-rated smartphone, despite the non-recommendation).

Still, the Consumer Reports story is just one thing. More troubling to Apple has to be the cascade effect it has had on the media. CNN is talking about it, MSNBC is talking about it, local news is talking about it — even David Letterman is talking about it. The situation has gotten out of control in a way the tightly-controlled Apple cannot find comfortable at all.

So that’s what I believe this event is about. A way to pivot the message back to what Apple perceives to be the facts. Apple will undoubtedly acknowledge that holding the iPhone 4 does affect the signal. But they’ll note once again that this is true of all cellphones. And perhaps some experts will chime in to show some results to prove this to be the case.

They’ll also undoubtedly point out how the iPhone 4 actually has the best antenna Apple has ever produced. They’ll probably have results to back this up as well.

The focus will be on the facts that Apple has studies to prove. And the idea behind all of this is to drill it into our heads that the antenna issue is being blown out of proportion. That it’s an easy headline about a hot product.

And Apple’s tactic may just work. Because it’s a lot harder to blindly write about one side of a topic when the other side has very directly addressed and refuted the issues with you.

Apple will also likely talk about the software fix that is currently testing (iOS 4.1) which they say will help the issue as well. Our early tests show iOS 4.1 doesn’t fix the antenna issue at all (it is, after all, a hardware issue). But it does alter the bar indicators to make them more accurately reflect your actual signal, which is what Apple said it would do.

Earlier tonight, a MacRumors forum poster laid out a similar scenario about how this event may play out. The difference is that he believes Apple will give out $50 gift cards that iPhone 4 purchasers can use to buy iPhone bumpers (cases) if they wish. I’m not sure how likely that is. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple does announce a way to specifically give away these bumpers (which are normally $29) to people who buy (or have bought) the iPhone 4.

Another thing the forum post didn’t really hit on was the importance of who is invited to this event. As I said, Apple seems to be focusing on key influencers in the tech media. My belief is that Apple is hoping that by aiming at the top, the message will trickle down and overwhelm the Consumer Reports fall-out. Again, whether you agree with it or not, it seems like a pretty good strategy.

Of course, all of that is just speculation. With this little amount of time before the event, it’s unlikely that anything will leak out before it happens. But there is always the possibility of one giant curveball.

While I still find it hard to believe that Apple is thinking about an iPhone 4 recall at this point, the possibility is interesting for this Friday event. After all, it makes more sense to issue a recall in a controlled manner (where journalists can digest the news and ask questions), rather than to issue a statement about it and have everyone scream bloody murder.

Again, I don’t think that is going to happen, but it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility if say, Apple is willing to acknowledge that there are at least some defective iPhone 4 antennas.

The thing that’s a bit curious about this press conference is that Apple has already set a precedent by issuing a statement about the antenna issue on July 2. If they’re now doing a full press conference, surely their announcement must be more significant, right? But again, that statement was before Consumer Reports changed its mind and decided you shouldn’t buy the iPhone 4 due to the antenna issue. And that report has led us to where we are now.

To combat that, Apple may feel the time is right to pull out their not-so-secret weapon: Steve Jobs. On a stage. Talking.

[photo: flickr/acaben]

Gendai Games Raises Over $1 Million For iPhone And iPad Game Creation Tool

Gendai Games, a startup that offers a simple game creation tool, has raised over $1 million in Series A funding led by DFJ Mercury with Steamboat Ventures, DFJ Frontier and ff Asset Management as well as angel investors Paul Bricault, Paige Craig, Tom McInerney, Josh Resnick and and Mark Suster participating in the round.

The game creation tool, called GameSalad, is allows non-programmers to build, develop and publish 2D casual games games for the iPhone and iPad. GameSalad has been downloaded more than 70,000 times and in the nine months since the launch of its iPhone publishing service, GameSalad has powered over 800 titles in the iTunes App Store including Asplosion! HD and Doodle Cannon.

The new funding will be used for product development and to hire additional talent. The startup faces competition from a number of other companies who also have democratized game development, including Playcrafter, and WIldpockets.