Tech + Gadgets
Get ready for an app that will have you walking into poles, missing your stop on Muni and cooing at your phone screen. The California Academy of Sciences just released their free Pocket Penguin app, which is a live webcam continuously pointed at their tiny colony of African penguins, and essentially the biggest time suck to ever hit your phone (both Android and iPhone). Trust us–it's hard to look away.
Silicon Valley NewTech, the Bay Area's largest and oldest tech meetup group, gets together every month inside a conference room at DLA Piper in Palo Alto to eat pizza, drink some beers and listen to presentations from startups. At nearly 7,000 members strong, SVNewTech chooses four startups every month to showcase their product through a 5-minute demo and presentation, followed by a rapid-fire question and answer period from the audience.
How many times has a song instantly reminded you of an experience from years ago buried in the back of your brain? Maybe it was the first time that band ever blew your mind, or something you listened to during your move to a new life in a new city. With SF-grown app Soundtracking, whatever songs impact moments of your life can now be broadcast to the world via your social nets.
Few people are better situated to evaluate the current tech boom than Harjeet Taggar, a partner at Y Combinator, which twice a year, invests a small amount of money (~$20k) in dozens of promising startups from all over the country.
The startup teams move to Silicon Valley for three months, during which YC works with them to get their companies into a position where they can appeal to investors at Demo Day, when a bunch of big-time investors show up.
During the past few funding cycles, Taggar told 7x7 that he has noticed a definite pattern.
When it comes to a legacy technology that badly needs to be disrupted, it's hard to imagine a better example than the college textbook.
Students have to lug these anachronisms around in backpacks, only to read a chapter here and there as assigned by their professors. New editions appear every two or three years, rendering the older editions essentially worthless.
Second-hand bookstores do a thriving business on campuses as students try to stay within their budgets. Book-sharing, renting, and lending as well as illegal copying all occur as well.
A professor trying to teach from a core textbook in many subjects often finds it resembles the Winchester Mystery House, with chapters added on willy-nilly to a structure that originated many editions in the past, often decades ago.
Jack Dorsey's Square, which may just make old-school registers obsolete with their Square Card Readers, Square Registers and Card Cases, is HQ-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle Building on 5th and Mission. In what some might say is a changing of the guard, the start up's original 10 employees set up shop in the Chronicle's Human Resources floor in December of 2009.
Hipster or Homeless, an SF-grown site which launched on Monday, is the latest ammo for anyone who loves to hate hipsters. In a comic nod to ridiculous hipster fashions, the site asks you to decipher between photos of hipsters and homeless (even Rebecca Black and Jared Leto have fallen victim).
The Brothers Morin — Jeff and Dan — as business partners fit together like peanut butter and jam, which is a good thing because the company they've built, Outgoing.me, organizes dinners for people with shared interests to meet up and talk.
This Thursday night, for example, at the Ironside, there are still a few seats left for a chat with Dan Nguyen-Tan of Public Bikes, where the conversation will revolve around cycling and high-end design. But that's just one of six to seven dinners each week organized by the Morins and their team around themes ranging from nonprofits to photography, wine tasting, hiking and running.
"We're about helping people, especially people new to the city, to meet other interesting people like them," says Jeff Morin. "It can be hard to meet anyone outside of your workplace at first. This beats going to the bars alone on a Friday night."
If you follow some of those, how do you say, "influencers," on Twitter, you may have noticed a "w/" popping up in their tweets lately. It's generated by a new app called With, a side project hammered out by the developers over at Path. For those unfamiliar with Path, it's a photo and video-sharing tool for your own private network of close family and friends that's HQ-ed in SoMa and headed up by early Facebook team member (and co-inventor of Facebook Connect) Dave Morin.
A main theme behind steampunk design is trying to discover how products would look today if technology advanced, but never quite changed, from its late 19th century aesthetic. Hence, a cell phone with a rotary dial. Designer Richard Clarkson has created the Rotary Mechanical Smartphone that features two interchangeable brass dials (a true rotary dial and a button dial.)