WebOS on the Mac


If you missed out on the $99 HP TouchPad deals that seem to have the entire tech web in a frenzy, don’t forget that you can experience WebOS for free right now on Mac OS X, just by using the SDK’s emulator. You’ll need to download VirtualBox and then the WebOS SDK which comes as a preconfigured virtual machine, but then you can toy around in WebOS and get a feel for the (possibly defunct) touch OS.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

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Stoke a Long Tail itch. Get love.

From my coworker, Matt Clark:

Lego 1962 VW Camper


But $100? Yikes.  Pretty fun interview with the designer about the "challenges of capturing the 1962 VW Splitty"

Comes with working pop-top, curtains, fold-out bed, lava lamp, surfing poster and little shirt that says, "Make LEGO models, not war"  Far out, man.


Also notice the cute little lego head scrubber in the video player. Nice touch.



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Portland Incubator Experiment attracts 290 applicants



Erickson's online startup, Spice Apps, is among nearly 300 companies that applied this week to join the inaugural class of the Portland Incubator Experiment, the Pearl District entrepreneurship lab hosted by advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy

Historically, Portland hasn't been a go-to destination for Internet entrepreneurs. There isn't a single truly large online company based in Oregon and the state hasn't grown a really big tech business in decades. 

But Wieden+Kennedy enlisted three of its big-name clients -- Coke, Nike and Target -- along with Internet titan Google, to provide mentorship and financial support for the Portland incubator. 

In exchange for a 6 percent ownership stake, PIE offers access to its brand partners, office space at Wieden+Kennedy for three months, mentorship and $18,000. 

Goal: An incubator for technology startups serving consumer brands.
Sponsors: Wieden+Kennedy and three of its clients -- Coca-Cola, Target & Nike -- plus Google.
Participating mentors: Technology managers from Coke, Target, Nike and Google, and several Portland tech stalwarts. Voyager Capital and Intel Capital will also participate.
Selections: PIE received 290 applications for its first class, 60 percent from outside Oregon. The first class starts September 1 with eight to 10 startups. PIE expects to select a second class for the spring of 2012.
Terms: Participants will receive an $18,000 in exchange for a 6 percent equity stake in their company.
Location: Wieden+Kennedy's offices in Portland's Pearl District.
That's captured the attention of entrepreneurs around the country. 

PIE is casting itself as an open, freewheeling experience, Erickson said, with a brand orientation that dovetails neatly with what Spice Apps is trying to do: build "niche communities" online, for household brands. 

"They can connect us to major brands and have mentors with real world experience in areas we're trying to solve/improve," Erickson wrote in an email. 

PIE's application deadline closed Monday night and its managers have spent the week combing through the submissions. Of the 290 applicants, general manager Rick Turoczy says, 60 percent are from outside Oregon. 

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Patenting Math (and Software)



Does not compute: court says only hard math is patentable

Published about 5 hours ago
Does not compute: court says only hard math is patentable

On Tuesday, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit rejected a patent on a method of detecting credit card fraud. The result was unsurprising, but the court broke new ground with its reasoning. Citing the Supreme Court's famous rulings against software patents from the 1970s, the court ruled that you can't patent mental processes—even if they are carried out by a computer program.

Of course, all computer programs implement mathematical algorithms that could, in principle, be implemented with a pencil and paper. So is this the end of software patents? Unfortunately not. The court ruled that the no-patenting-math rule doesn't apply if the math in question complicated enough that "as a practical matter, the use of a computer is required" to perform the calculations.

In order to justify this result, the court gives the most thorough defense of software patents that we've ever seen from the judiciary. We don't think the line they draw—between ordinary math and math that requires a computer—makes much sense from either a legal or policy perspective. But the ruling at least signals that, for the first time in over a decade, the courts are thinking hard about how to apply the Supreme Court's old software patent cases in the modern world. We're hopeful that as the confusion in this week's decision becomes more obvious, we'll see further progress.

You can't patent math...

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The Six Levels of Trust - Forbes


New York Times interview with Peter Loscher, the president and chief executive of Siemens, was titled “The Trust That Makes a Team Click.” Mr. Loscher talked about the importance of  trust between team members. When I speak on “The Power of Collaboration,” I also address this issue — but with a slightly twist. Here are the six levels of trust as I present them:

1. Trust in yourself and in the value of your contribution

Human beings are a “teaching/learning species.” We take pride in the specific knowledge we’ve accumulated, we enjoy adding to our expertise, and we gets a psychological lift from communicating our knowledge to others. But to be a vital contributor, we must believe that our opinions and insights matter, and that our knowledge and experience are valuable to someone else. Unless people trust the innate wisdom and creativity of their ideas, there is little impetus to offer them to others.

2. Trust between team members

Well-placed trust grows out of experience and interaction – usually extended over time. (In fact, there are studies of the “mere exposure effect” which find that just seeing someone repeatedly — making them more familiar — increases our liking and trust of that person.)  Effective team leaders have learned that the time to get to know one another and to build valuable “social capital” at the beginning of a project leads to building trusting relationships that pay off in increased productivity later on.

3. Trust in the team’s leader

Regardless of the overall corporate culture, individual managers and team leaders can create mini-cultures of trust within their own work group or staff. The best of these leaders do so by taking the time and effort necessary to make people feel safe and valued. They emphasize team cohesiveness while encouraging candid and constructive conflict. They set clear expectations for outcomes and clarify individual roles. They help all members recognize what each of them brings to the team.  They tell stories of group successes — and the lessons learned in failures. They share the credit and the reward or recognition. And, most of all, they encourage everyone’s input, using body language that projects openness, inclusiveness and respect.

4. Trust in the importance of the project

People are not likely to care about collaborating on projects they feel are unworthy of their contribution (a derisive term for this kind of project is WOMBAT — Waste Of Money, Brains And Time). Conversely, human beings are more willing to share information when there is a compelling, emotional reason to do so, or when working on a project they believe has real meaning and importance. Part of the leader’s role is to clearly illustrate the organization’s crucial business need for the fruits of a team’s collaboration.

5. Leadership’s trust in employees

People learn what is important to leaders by the behaviors they see modeled by those leaders. Too often, there is a leadership “say-do” gap around the area of trust. People hear leaders asking for participation and then using exclusionary and dismissive body language that clearly shows they are uninterested in other opinions. Employees hear leaders saying that knowledge sharing is essential, but they don’t see leaders trusting them by being candid and forthcoming.

6. Trust in the collective genius

Human beings thrive in collaborative relationships. Given the right context, they can do great things together. There is a phenomenal sense of accomplishment in achieving as a group what could not have been achieved as individuals. But that won’t happen unless everyone on the team understands and trusts that none of us is smarter than all of us.

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If you’re working in a big group, you’re fighting human nature


When you’ve got a small group, you don’t need to constantly formalize things. You communicate and you know what’s going on. If you have a question about something, you ask someone. Formalized rules, deadlines, and documents start to seem silly. Everyone’s already on the same page anyway.

According to British author Antony Jay, there are centuries of evidence to support the idea that small groups are the most efficient. In “The Corporation Man,” he talks about how humans have worked in small groups, usually five to fifteen people, as hunters and farmers for hundreds of generations. The ideal group size is a ten-group:

He found the most efficient to be organised in groups of eight to fourteen people which he came to call ‘ten-groups’, each group free to find its own way towards a target set for it within the general objects of the corporation…

“The basic unit is [a group] which varies from three to twelve or fifteen in number, and perhaps optimizes somewhere around ten; that this group is bound together by a common objective, and that the bond of trust and loyalty thus formed can become an extremely powerful uniting force; that the group needs to decide on (or at least take part in deciding on) its own objective, and to work out for itself how that objective shall be achieved…”

He offers up interesting examples to back up the theory, from sports teams to juries to army squads:

Jay draws attention to units of around this size in many fields beyond the corporation. A committee works best with about ten members; if it grows much beyond that size the extra people do not take a fully active part. Nearly all team games use a group of about ten on each side. Juries have 12 members and the Jewish minyan 10. In an army, organization often decides life and death, and under this pressure armies, too, adopt a basic unit of about ten; the British army, the US army, the ancient Roman army and that of Genghiz Khan, in fact every long-standing successful army, has built up its larger formations from squads or sections of about this size.

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Power of Small Teams


In a guest post on SvN, Marc Hedlundwrote “I’m beginning to think three people is optimal for a 1.0 product release.” I hadn’t thought about it before, but I definitely agree.

If you can’t build your version 1 with three people, then 1. you need different people, or 2. you need to slim down your version 1. Now, before I get yelled at, this doesn’t apply to every project, but I do believe it applies to the majority. And sure, if you are building a weapons system, a nuclear control plant, a banking system for millions of customers, or some other life/finance-critical system, then you may need a fourth.

But keep it in mind: three for version 1. Remember, it’s better to make version 1 half a product than a half-assed product. Three people will keep you closer to half a product and a cleaner, tighter, simpler base on which you can grow later.

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A Bold New Strategy: Give Away Your Product For Free


hamptons free ride

This article originally appeared onAmerican Express OpenForum

The Internet has forever changed the way we do business. For some companies it has brought in easy revenues, for others -- like movie and book stores -- it has seriously dug into profits. For companies that are trying to regain their former market share, it may be time to consider a bold new strategy. This may mean targeting an entire new set of customers and even giving away your product for free -- at least in the short term.

Consider Luke Skurman, CEO of College Prowler. His business model was based around the idea that people would pay an annual subscription to access hundreds of student reviews of different colleges. Things turned out differently: not enough people were willing to pay the subscription, and Skurman found himself in a tough position.

He reappropriated his company to revolve around selling sales leads to advertisers and universities. It was certainly a pivot, but what made this pivot unusual was that he decided to give away all the college reviews by students for free. College Prowler collected data from those who had signed up to read the reviews (with their permission) and turned it into a very profitable set of information.

College Prowler's page views are now up 500 percent and the company has partnered with 10 other companies that sell sales leads to universities. This type of strategy won't work for every business, but it's worth considering an unconventional approach if you're in a position to do so.

Here are two things you need to do before deciding to give your own product away for free:

1. Consider what you already have

In Skurman's case, he realized that he had valuable information in his user database -- information about a person's age, location and interests. It wasn't especially profitable to College Prowler, and he hadn't previously thought about the revenue-driving resource it could turn into.

In the case of Google, given the mass popularity of its search engine, the company had an endless supply of search terms that people were plugging into the site. The challenge then became figuring out how to turn that vast body of information into profits.

2. Figure out who your product is valuable to

Skurman determined that College Prowler's user information would be highly valuable to advertising agencies and universities. He got in touch with these entities and turned unused information into profits.

To continue with the Google example, the company developed a system of targeting ads to people based on what they were searching for. The search results are free, but the ads bring in the profits.

Keep in mind that this certainly will not be appropriate for all businesses. But if it's time to shake things up, it's hard to think of a more radical way to do so than to stop charging for your product.

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The Eight Pillars of Innovation | Think Quarterly by Google



As the leader of our Ads products, I want to hear ideas from everyone – and that includes our partners, advertisers and all of the people on my team. I also want to be a part of the conversations Googlers are having in the hallways.

Several years ago, we took this quite literally and posted an ideas board on a wall at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. On a Friday night, an engineer went to the board and wrote down the details of a convoluted problem we had with our ads system. A group of Googlers lacking exciting plans for the evening began re-writing the algorithm within hours and had solved the problem by Tuesday.

Some of the best ideas at Google are sparked just like that – when small groups of Googlers take a break on a random afternoon and start talking about things that excite them. TheGoogle Art Project, which brought thousands of museum works online, and successful AdWords features like Automated Rules, are great examples of projects that started out in our ‘microkitchens.’ This is why we make sure Google is stocked with plenty of snacks at all times.


Our employees know pretty much everything that’s going on and why decisions are made. Every quarter, we share the entire Board Letter with all 26,000 employees, and we present the same slides presented to the Board of Directors in a company-wide meeting.

By sharing everything, you encourage the discussion, exchange and re-interpretation of ideas, which can lead to unexpected and innovative outcomes. We try to facilitate this by working in small, crowded teams in open cube arrangements, rather than individual offices.

When someone has an idea or needs input on a decision, they can just look up and say, ‘Hey…’ to the person sitting next to them. Maybe that cube-mate will have something to contribute as well. The idea for language translation inGoogle Talk (our Gmail chat client) came out of conversations between the Google Talk andGoogle Translate teams when they happened to be working near one another.

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What If Food Labels Looked Like This?

Maybe the real reason Americans are so fat is because our food labels are so ugly. If they were easier on the eye to read, maybe more people would read them and make better eating choices. That was the idea in mind behind a recent design contest at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Journalism aiming to give the standard government-mandated food label a much-needed makeover. The winning entry uses colored boxes for each ingredient that are sized in proportion to how much of each is inside the package.

The entry submitted by designer Renee Walker is a big improvement in terms of readability. The simple graphical approach makes it easier to understand what's inside. The question is whether it would be able to deal with products that have a more complicated series of ingredients. You can look through the juried selections yourself and vote for the best one by sharing it on Facebook. The winners will be forwarded onto the FDA for consideration.

Rethink the food label [News21]
Designing a Better Food Label [NYT]

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