Sharp-Shooting Sony Cam Guides You, Even When Lost

Product: Cyber-Shot DSC-HX5V

Manufacturer: Sony

Wired Rating: 8

The days of forgetting where you took a photo are over. The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX5V, and several other cameras we tested recently, has built-in GPS receivers to geo-tag your shots so you can show jealous friends your globetrotting exploits and never lose track of what side of an international border you were on.

Though it works exceptionally well, the Sony HX5V doesn’t exactly flaunt its GPS chops. In fact, if it weren’t for the picture of a satellite on the side of the camera, you might not even know this slick little pocket shooter had a GPS receiver inside its black metallic body. The camera’s GPS feature itself is similarly stealth: You have to dig through menus just to turn it on and it can take up to a minute to lock in on a signal. This is kind of annoying.

Once we switched on sat-tracking, though, the 10.2-megapixel HX5V geotagged our shots with sniper-like accuracy during a five-borough photo tour in New York City. Reception is charted in bars on the camera’s large 3-inch LCD screen so it’s easy to tell how strong the GPS signal is. Unfortunately, New York’s skyscrapers (and even the comparatively squat Madison Square Garden) knocked out the reception, so our photos of the Empire State Building were left untagged. (Not a biggie though. Most people know it’s in NYC.)

Along with GPS, the HX5V has a few more tech tricks up its sleeve. When we got lost in Brooklyn during our photo tour, the camera’s digital compass on the LCD led us north toward our final stop in Queens. Image quality was also near the best of four other GPS-enabled cameras we tried, thanks to several helpful features like the multishot high dynamic range (HDR) mode, which combined highlight and shadow detail of two late-afternoon shots of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into one evenly balanced photo.

WIRED GPS automatically sets the camera’s clock depending on the time zone you’re traveling in. Intelligent Sweep Panorama captures wide or tall subject matter — think Grand Canyon or the Sears Tower — just by pressing the shutter and sweeping the camera in front of you. Records full 1080p HD video in popular AVCHD format with stereo sound.

TIRED GPS signal quickly surrendered to buildings or even overhanging trees. Doesn’t display nearby place names or points of interest during playback. Confusing menu system makes adjusting GPS setting a chore.

product image

Twitter Begins User Streams Testing. Realtime Tech Should Help Ease API Strain

For some time now, Twitter has been working on a new API: the Twitter Streaming API. The idea behind it is to allow third-party Twitter clients to receive continuous tweet updates in realtime. As developer advocate Taylor Singletary notes today on the Twitter Development Talk Google Group, limited testing of this new feature (also called “User Streams”) for desktop clients has now begun.

Currently, TweetDeck and Echofon, two popular Twitter desktop clients, have access to the new API for testing. Singletary notes that not all users of these clients will see this new tech in action at first. Instead, there will be a more gradual roll-out with each app. Once that occurs, Twitter will start opening up the Streaming API to other clients as well.

Twitter first started talking about this new API this past April at their Chirp conference. Others have already been internally testing it for some time as Twitter is also testing out its new Annotations feature through the API.

While the feature is very cool and makes third-party clients much more interesting, the Streaming API also helps Twitter significantly. As Singletary notes, “The transition to User Streams should return considerable capacity to the
REST and Search APIs, increasing stability for Twitter users & developers alike.
” With their recent scaling problems, one of the aspects hurt the most by limits Twitter had to impose is the API. Services like TweetDeck and Seesmic rely heavily on the Search API for their various windows — so obviously, this was a problem. The Streaming API should alleviate that quite a bit.

And there’s more. Singletary notes that:

Additionally, several interesting new event types are available: Favoriting, retweeting, following, and list additions are also streamed along with direct messages, mentions, the user timeline and the home timeline.

Again, all of this should help ease strain on the rest of Twitter’s APIs. The only question is: how long will it take to roll-out in a meaningful way? Twitter says that an open beta is tentatively scheduled for Q3 or Q4 of 2010.

At the end of the message, Singletary also hints at a new API product called Site Streams:

Application developers needing to consume multiple, simultaneous user streams will be served by an upcoming Streaming API product called Site Streams. Stay tuned for more information on that when we’re ready.

[thanks Richard]

Information provided by CrunchBase Gets 200,000 Video Answers From 5Min

Every big publisher on the Web wants to be able to serve up ad-friendly videos, but creating them can be a pain. But there are already plenty of high-quality videos out there in every subject imaginable. With that in mind, has quietly launched Video Answers with about 200,000 videos from video distribution network 5min on everything from home repair and fashion tips to cars and travel.

5Min is already one of the largest video networks, with more than 110 million video views a month and 30 million unique visitors across 800 partner sites. But will become its biggest partner by far. 5Min syndicates videos from about 1,000 online video producers, including CBS, Hearst, Scripps, and WatchMojo. Anytime one of 5Min’s videos matches a question asked on, WikiAnswers, or ReferenceAnswers, video results will show up and they will play on the new Video Answers page. Advertising revenues will be split between, 5Min, and the video publisher, with roughly a third going to each.

“What we are really building here is ability for every publisher to have their own video section without producing because I think there is no ROI for production,” says CEO Ran Harnevo. The videos in his network are all in highly-targeted, evergreen niches like yoga or food videos with low double-digit CPMs. Video producers ca extend their reach beyond their own sites by syndicating with 5Min and make some extra cash.

5Min’s model contrasts with Demand Media’s, which produces its own videos at $50 or so a pop and shows them on eHow and its portfolio of search-friendly niche sites. AOL also wants to get into this game with its recent acquisition of Studio Now. But 5Min’s philosophy is to let others produce the best videos, and focus on distributing them at scale, while splitting the downstream revenues. “Destinations are just not big enough today,” he says.

Facebook To Pay $10 Million Cash For Hot Potato, Says Source

We broke the news yesterday on Facebook’s most recent acquisition – social activity service Hot Potato. Like most of Facebook’s acquisitions, this deal looks to be mostly about getting a great team of engineers on board, not about the product.

And like many of these acquisitions, investors in the acquired company don’t stand to make much money. Facebook is paying around $10 million in cash for Hot Potato, we’ve heard from a source with knowledge of the deal. Employees will also be getting stock options which could prove to be very lucrative down the road. But investors aren’t getting any stock in Facebook.

This is very similar to Facebook’s very first acquisition, Parakey, back in 2007. That deal gave shareholders just $4 million or so in cash to split – giving them their initial investment back plus a small return. All the stock went to employees.

Hot Potato raised around $1.4 million in a single round of financing prior to the acquisition.

Most investors won’t balk publicly at deals like this, they’re way too concerned that they’re seen as entrepreneur-friendly so that they can get access to future deals. But privately they gripe. Putting money to work for only a 1x or 2x return is a great way to go out of business for startup investors, when so many of their deals never pay anything back at all.

In fact some of these deals could theoretically be a violation of various corporate and securities laws that require shareholders of a given class to be treated equally in an acquisition. But without investors actually complaining, it’s unlikely any lawyers will ever get involved.

Also, stock options are clearly being granted for future services of the acquired employees, not for past work done at the acquired startup.

Another way investors can “complain” is by simply scuttling the deal – they usually have veto rights over an acquisition baked into their deal agreements when they invest. But that, again, would be seen as completely anti-entrepreneur and would kill future deal flow.

So for now investors will simply grin and bear it. But as these types of deals become more and more common we may see changes to various state corporate laws in the future that put limits on how much consideration might be given in cash to investors in an acquisition v. how much is given to active employees in stock options on an acquisition.

Could This Be the Eve Of the Kindle 3?

It seems that all Kindle orders have been frozen and, it seems, that Jeff Bezos is hanging around New York right now and will speak on Charlie Rose tonight. While I seriously doubt that Bezos will whip out the Kindle 3 on the Charlie Rose show (he’ll probably talk about ebooks outselling hardbacks) it seems there is definitely something afoot.

Read more…

Google Rolls Out Android’s New Anti-Piracy Mechanism

If we’re hearing any one thing from developers that is scaring’em away from Android, it’s that Android apps are just way, way too easy to pirate. Hell, you don’t even have to go through shady third party download sites; just buy an app, copy it to the sd card, and refund the application. Ta-da! (Read: Don’t do that.)

Google’s been talking for some time about a new, considerably more secure system for protecting applications from pirates and dishonest refunders. Today, that system goes live.

Read the rest at MobileCrunch >>

RIM Buys “”, Presumably As A Home For The BlackBerry Tablet

Unless someone at Research In Motion is taking the time to screw with all of us, it looks like we might have an official name for their long-rumored BlackBerry tablet project: BlackPad.

Word of the name comes not from a disgruntled employee, nor from a prototype left at a bar; this one’s straight out of a good ol’ fashion WHOIS lookup on a domain. According to registration records, RIM purchased just days ago.

Read the rest at MobileCrunch >>

Looks Like Even Google Forgot Knol Existed

Knol, Google’s platform for sharing articles about specific topics, appears to have been shutdown. It’s unclear if this is a temporary or permanent situation. We’ve reached out to Google for comment.

We’ve long been speculating as to when Google will shut down Knol. The knowledge-sharing site has essentially been reduced to a “Craigslist wannabe.” The original idea behind Knol was that people could collaboratively write definitive articles about any topic they like and get rewarded by earning a share of the AdSense revenues for each page they author. Unfortunately, no one seems to be reading anything on Knol and the product never really panned out.

Eventhough this outage may be temporary, it may be time to put Knol out of its misery. Google has previously shutdown other under-performing projects such as Lively and Google Notebooks.

Update 2:49 PM PDT: Google informs us that this down time is in fact temporary, “We’re working on restoring it for users as soon as possible.”

Information provided by CrunchBase

Facebook Q&A Service ‘Questions’ Begins Rolling Out, Could Be Massive

Facebook’s worst-kept secret is finally ready for its closeup: the company is starting to roll out Facebook Questions, a Q&A service that allows users to poll all of Facebook. Facebook has been inviting users to apply to join a sneak peek of Questions for months now, so we’ve seen much of this before, but this marks the first time that it will begin rolling out to users who didn’t apply for the beta program. Facebook says that this is intiitally rolling out to 3-5 million users, with plans for a broader rollout down the line.

The motivations behind the launch are clear: millions of people already use Facebook status updates to poll their friends — it’s only natural that the site would offer a dedicated mechanism to do this (and it’s also likely to be a boon for page views, especially once Questions are syndicated to search engines). But if you were hoping the new product would incorporate Facebook’s extensive privacy settings, you’ll be disappointed: everything in Questions is shared with everyone else on Facebook, and every question you ask is tied to your real name; likewise, anyone who answers will have their response tied to their account.

Of course, having all questions set to public does have one nice side effect: you’ll be able to poll from Facebook’s massive audience of 500 million users. Facebook obviously isn’t going to ask your question to everyone else on Facebook; instead, its system is going to try to analyze a user’s interests to determine who would be best able to answer your question. The service will also show the question to some of your friends, so ideally you’ll receive answers from a healthy mix of friends and experts (we’ll see how well it actually works).

You’ll be able to ask a question from a few places: the Questions tab that appears in the site’s left navigation area, the publisher that appears at the top of the page (where you typically post things like status updates), and, most interestingly, the search box. When you start typing a question into Facebook’s search box, the site will start displaying a list of similar questions that have already been asked on the site. If yours doesn’t pop up, or you really want to re-ask the same thing, you can ask it directly from the search field.

Questions can include photos and polls, and you can also tag questions with topics. If you come across someone else’s question that you’d also like to know the answer to, you can opt to follow it. And the site also supports keyboard shortcuts, which should make the soon-to-be Questions addicts happy.

This could be a big, big deal for the site. Given its size, it won’t take long for Facebook to build up a massive amount of data — if that data is consistently reliable, Questions could turn into a viable alternative to Google for many queries. Facebook will also be integrating Questions and their answers into the Community Pages that launched in April, which already include content from Wikipedia and Facebook user status updates. Finally, this is a big SEO opportunity for the site, though a Facebook spokeswoman said that there are no plans to include the content in search engines yet.

Of course, some of this success will lie in how well Facebook’s matching algorithms work, and how good typical answers are — I’m not going to use this at all if the quality is on par with Yahoo Answers. Facebook will be competing on this front with Quora, a Q&A service that was cofounded by Facebook’s former longtime CTO, and has been widely praised for the quality of its content (though whether or not it can maintain that quality as the site scales remains to be seen). Still, even if the quality isn’t quite up to par, the massive built-in userbase means Facebook Questions will be a success regardless.

One other thing to note: Facebook does not offer any way to ask a question anonymously (remember, everything is tied to your name). While I see the benefit in forcing responses to include a user name (you can better tell if the person answering knows what they’re talking about), I’m less sure that this is a good policy to enforce on the people asking the question. There may well be times when you may have a question that might appear a bit less than professional (“Best place to get my friend hammered for his bachelor’s party?”), or perhaps a little embarrassing to admit to your peers (“Why does my microwave popcorn always start smoking?”).

More People, And Inevitably Scammers, Are Using Twitter

2010 thus far has been a year of milestones in terms of online population, with Facebook hitting 500 million active users and Twitter reaching 100 million users. This growth explosion is not without its dark side; a rising tide lifts all boats, even the more miscreant ones.

According to a report by Barracuda Labs, both general and questionable activity is increasing on Twitter, due primarily to the company’s open API and easy account set-up. With more than 50 million tweets per day, and 600 million search queries per day, user activity is at an all time high: Nielsen posits unique visits to the site have grown at a rate of 45% compared to last year.

Highlights from the report:

– Only 28.87% of Twitter users have tweeted more than 10 times, have more than 10 followers and more than 10 friends.

– One in every eight Twitter users has at least 10 times more followers than they are following.

– Only one in 10 users is following more than 100 users, and almost half are following less than five.

– Half of Twitter users tweet less than once a day, yet one in 10 users tweet five or more times a day.

– 30 percent of Twitter accounts have never tweeted.

– 15.8% of Twitter users have no followers, 47% decrease from June 2009 when it was 30%.

– 33% have 10+ followers, a 65% increase from June 2009 when it was 20%.

“True Twitter Users”, which Barracuda defines as people who have tweeted at least 10 times, who have at least 10 followers and in turn follow at least 10 people, have increased to 29%, up from 21% in January 2010. Less people now have zero followers (15.8% of all users) and more people have 10+ followers (65% of all users) than in June 2009.

These new levels of user interaction are inevitably punctuated by an increase in “Twitter Crime”, or the percentage of accounts created per month that are eventually suspended by Twitter. According to the data, this rate is now at 2.38% vs. 1.08% in February 2010, which could mean simply that Twitter is ramping up deletions. The average rate of account suspension for the first half of 2010 was 1.67% of all accounts.

June 2010′s numbers are comparable to the high crime rate during Twitter’s “Red Carpet” era in January 2010 (i.e. the @aplusk celebrity dogpile) where a similar growth explosion lead to a 2.20% account suspension rate. Just like in real life, when populations become more dense, malicious activity tends to follow suit by increasing.

According to Barracuda Labs, some strong indicators of illegitimate account growth are a low Followers (people who follow you) minus Friends (people who you follow) number and a low Followers/Friends ratio – presumably because no one wants to follow a SPAM account – as well as a high volume of tweets. Data also shows that a high volume of tweets and a low volume of followers are directly correlated (basically, STFU if you want to increase followers).

Both scammers and legitimate users are engaging on Twitter more, as in tweeting and gaining followers. While illegitimate account deletions do seem to be increasing, perhaps this is because of better policing on Twitter’s part. By paying attention to patterns in scammer behavior such as the correlation between the Followers/Friends ratio, Follower – Friend delta and frequency of tweets,  Twitter could perhaps enact measures that would lower the possibility that your next Twitter follower is @sexyfreeipod.

Information provided by CrunchBase

HBO Sinks Its Teeth Into GetGlue To Reward Fans For Checking-In To Hit Shows

Forget about checking-in to venues. Apparently, the new thing to do is to check-in to whatever you’re doing — like watching television shows, or reading a book. It’s something that Hot Potato offers, and they’re in the process of being acquired by Facebook. It’s what GetGlue offers as well, and they’re already seeing over 4.5 million ratings and check-ins a month now. And today, the service is announcing a new exclusive partnership with HBO.

Starting on August 1, when you use GetGlue to check-in watching one of HBO’s hit shows, you’ll earn exclusive stickers designed by HBO. If you’re aware of Foursquare badges or Gowalla pins, it’s the same idea, except based around content. The three shows HBO has selected for this promotion are True Blood, Hung, and Entourage — three of their hottest shows.

To earn these stickers, all you have to do is use the GetGlue iPhone app or one of their web browser extensions and check-in to say you’re watching one of the mentioned shows. There are also several other stickers for each show that you can earn by doing other things such as commenting on shows or checking-in multiple times to a show. GetGlue won’t reveal the secrets to earn them all (it is a game, after all), but they make it seem as if loyal fans (meaning loyal GetGlue users in this case too) will be able to get all the stickers.

GetGlue also sets itself apart by sending users actual stickers when they ask for them. Thousands of these stickers have been sent out to users already, I’m told. It’s a gimmick, but an interesting one that seems great for promotional purposes.

These types of deals are becoming an increasingly important means for these services to rope in users. Rival Miso has also been doing similar deals (here’s one for the movie Hot Tub Time Machine). Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Whrrl, and all the other location check-in services have also been signing similar deals left and right in an attempt to lure in users to their respective games. And it’s more than that, as we’ve seen with Foursquare, if a brand is really sold on the idea, they’ll even start promoting you — like VH1 and Bravo.

That said, these deals usually don’t mean a lot (if any) money for these startups yet. These badges and stickers aren’t easily monetizable, GetGlue CEO Alex Iskold tells us. That said, they establish a relationship with the brand, and eventually the plan is to offer other things to them in exchange for money — such as detailed analytics about who is checking-in to their products.

It was just last month that GetGlue said it was doing 1.5 million ratings and check-ins every month — again, now that’s surged to 4.5 million. The plan for the service’s over 500,000 users is to offer up content recommendations based on these check-ins and ratings. So the more, the better, obviously.

You can find GetGlue’s iPhone app here. Iskold says iPad and Android apps should be out in a matter of weeks as well.

Toolbar Developer Wibiya Takes On Meebo As Traffic Soars

Watch out Meebo, there’s a new kid on the block. Israeli startup Wibiya, which publicly launched its web-based, customizable toolbar to publishers in January of this year, is seeing impressive traffic for a year-old company.

According to Quantcast, Wibiya is seeing 151 million monthly visitors to its toolbars. In contrast, Quantcast also reports that Meebo is currently seeing 143 million monthly visitors. Currently, Wibiya has more than 70,000 active websites using its toolbar, including TheStreet, TheOnion, Playboy,, and more. Wibiya says that nearly 1000 new websites are adding the toolbar per day.

Wibiya’s toolbar for blogs and publishers integrates services from social media sites, applications and widgets. Everything is customizable, giving publishers the ability to add Facebook Connect, enabling Twitter alerts, and tap into chat app TinyChat fairly easily. The toolbar has a fairly in-depth integration with Twitter, featuring search, latest Tweets, Tweets about each page and more. Publishers can also bring their Facebook Fan Page stream to the toolbar. Wibiya also has an “app store” of sorts, where publishers can customize their bars with a variety of apps, including Google Translate, YouTube, Cooliris’s 3D video galleries, games and more.

In the future, Wibiya plans to roll out an API to developers, allowing others to integrate their own applications onto the Wibiya platform and track their application’s performance.

Of course, Meebo is seeing steady growth as well, and they are much better known. But it should be interesting to see how Facebook’s planned social bar, which was announced this year at the social network’s developer conference, will effect the growth of both Meebo and Wibiya.

Facebook’s new bar will apparently allow third party sites to quickly integrate a ‘Like’ button and Facebook Chat. But the details are still unclear as to how customizable Facebook’s social bar will be, and if it will include support for Twitter, email, MySpace and other media platforms. Meebo and Wibiya could stand out as more flexible alternatives to publishers if the social network’s new toolbar is too Facebook-centric.

Information provided by CrunchBase

Kanye West Finally Has A F*cking Twitter

Last May, Kanye West was pissed off. Why? Because people were impersonating him on Twitter. He was so mad that he even wrote a blog post about it — entirely in CAPS. It began, “(This spaz comes courtesy of losers making fake Kanye West Twitter accounts) I DON’T HAVE A FUCKING TWITTER… WHY WOULD I USE TWITTER???

Well, apparently someone has convinced the hip hop star why he should use Twitter, because as of two hours ago he’s on the service and tweeting away.

The first tweet from his verified account reads, “Up early in the morning taking meetings in Silicone Valley.” In true Twitter fashion, he quickly followed up with, “Lol I spelled Silicon wrong ( I guess I was still thinking about the other type of silicone ITS A PROCESS!! : )” And then like all good Twitter users, he proceeds to link to self-promotional content for the next half dozen tweets.

What’s interesting about those links is that they’re to big sites that covered his impromptu freestyle session at Facebook’s headquarters yesterday (sadly, we got no shout-out even though we were the first — no love Kanye?). But what’s most interesting about that is that he actually complains about Twitter in his freestyle, noting that Twitter users were directing racial slurs at him after the whole Taylor Swift fiasco — you know, the situation that led to brilliant sites like this. Now, just a day later, West has apparently made peace with the service and has started doing what he didn’t have time for last year — tweeting.

West seems to have changed his blog since last year, so the old link to his rant doesn’t work anymore, so I’ll paste it below. Meanwhile, his latest blog post confirms that the new Twitter account is in fact his.


Information provided by CrunchBase

Patent Trolling Doesn’t Pay: Intellectual Ventures Shows A Negative 73 Percent Return

You can always count on Hunch founder Chris Dixon for interesting Tweets.  He just sent out this one:

turns out patent trolling might not pay. Intellectual Ventures has negative 78% return.

The link is a PDf download of a document from the University of Texas Management Company listing all of its private investments in venture funds and private equity funds, along with their internal rates of return (IRR). One of the worst performers is Intellectual Ventures, the patent portfolio fund started by Nathan Myrhvold that has a reputation for patent extortion. One of its funds, the Invention Development Fund I, has a negative 73 percent IRR (Dixon mistakenly thought it was negative 78 percent, but close enough). Another fund, the Invention Investment Fund II, has a negative 10 percent return. The two funds combined are delivering a negative 36.66 percent IRR for the University of Texas.

These figures only show the returns to the University of Texas, which may have invested at the wrong time. They are from inception to May 31, 2010. The University of Texas invested a total of $28 million in those two funds, and may still get a return on its investment, but this glimpse into how Intellectual Ventures is doing for one of its limited partners suggests that at least those two funds are having trouble.

The University of Texas is doing better with some of its more traditional venture funds. For instance, its average return across seven Austin Venture funds is 28.76 percent, with Austin Ventures IV up 73.14 percent. According to the document, Union Square Ventures 2004 fund is up 48.37 percent. But there are some lackluster VC returns too. For instance, the IRR on Union Square Ventures 2008 so far is negative 15.75 percent and Integral Capital Partners is showing a lackluster 1.56 percent IRR. Again these numbers are admittedly only snapshot, but they are informative nonetheless.

The document is embedded below.

Mortgage Recommender Home-Account Acquired By

Last year, we covered the launch of Home-Account, a mortgage search and counseling service. Though launched in the implosion of the housing market, the site raised funding from an impressive group of investors, including Charles River Ventures, Marc Benioff, Ron Conway, Mark Pincus, and Jeff Clavier. One of the seed investors in the round was personal finance site, which put close to a million dollars in Home-Account. Today, Home-Account is announcing that it has been acquired by Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A for mortgages, Home-Account offers a free and paid service for those who are looking for mortgage or to re-finance. Home-Account helps consumers find the right mortgage for their needs and credit histories from its partner lenders. Home-Account doesn’t make commissions from the buyers or the lenders, like some online mortgage services like and It makes money solely from the consumer subscriptions. Home-Account’s founder Mark Goldstein says that since the company’s launch last year, the startup helped close “hundreds of mortgages.”

Since was an investor, the company worked closely with Home-Account and found that it would fit well with’s mission to be a resource to help people make better financial decisions. Ethan Ewing, President of says that the company plans to take the Home-Account platform, and scale to other financial decisions, such as paying off credit card debt.