Tech + Gadgets
We wrote last October about Ratio Finder, the site that tells you the real time ratio of gents to ladies at city hot spots. But if sheer data's not enough for you, Barspace.tv (which just launched a new website January 3rd) now turns real-time video cams on your favorite watering holes, so you can check to see if the scene meets your standards before you venture out.
A little Big Brotherish, yes, but it's popular - they report more than 50,000 monthly visitors and 10,000 mobile app downloads so far.
If this is the first time you've heard the name Darian Shirazi, it's a good bet it won't be the last.
The 24-year-old UC Berkeley dropout heads up a Soma-based operation called Fwix, which is an early leader in what he calls the "fourth wave" of the Internet -- local search -- or "what's nearby, right now."
Under this formulation, the first three Internet waves were directory, search, and social media. Shirazi's tiny company (19 employees) appears to have opened an early technological lead on corporations that are trying to catch the same local search wave like AOL’s "Patch" and Google’s "Places," among others.
The idea, essentially, is to bring you the hyperlocal - the best information about what is happening right around you in as close to real time as possible. It depends on identifying content that has been accurately geo-coded. That presents an extremely difficult technical challenge.
First, let's back up a second.
photo credit: dbking (from Wikimedia Commons)
When the news broke a few days ago that Twitter had successfully challenged a gag order in the federal government's investigation into the WikiLeaks case, it was a reminder that the Bay Area is on the front lines of the battle to protect our First Amendment rights in the digital age.
A federal grand jury in Virginia had subpoenaed user account data from Twitter about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, among others, as part of its probe into how that large trove of classified records recently became public.
Twitter has a company policy of informing users before complying with court orders such as this one, which is significant because that allows the user to exercise the legal right to challenge the subpoena in court, where it may get quashed for any number of reasons.
But since government investigators routinely request -- and get -- gag orders in these types of cases, Twitter was barred by law from telling Assange and the others involved in this particular case. So it fought back, and won what may prove to be an important legal precedent in the process.
Things move so fast in the world of technology that we can sometimes lose sight of just how new some of it still is. And sometimes that very newness can cause problems.
As I was sitting in a Cole Valley café recently, watching Craig Newmark of Craigslist demonstrate how he uses his iPad (on a tiny easel) to handle customer support issues, it struck me that only a year ago this scene never could have happened.
After all, Cupertino-based Apple only introduced the iPad, probably the most super-hyped tech product of all time, in late January 2009.
We’ll have to wait until all the holiday sales are added up to know for sure, but it’s a good guess that digital books accounted for roughly ten percent of all book sales in 2010 --a remarkable figure that will only be going up in the future.
All along the waterfront in modern San Francisco, businesses catering to tourists occupy the wharves where longshoremen used to work.
But down at Pier 17, there also is an industrial enterprise -- a chocolate factory, owned and operated by none other than the team of Louis Rossetto and Jane Metcalfe, the visionaries who launched Wired magazine in SoMa back in 1993.
They are still innovators in technology, though no longer in the publishing industry. Instead they manufacture and sell premium chocolate with their company TCHO, which in its own way may prove to be as disruptive in the global chocolate industry as Wired was in publishing.
If you want to find out who drives innovation at a company like Facebook, it’s best not to look from the top down. Thus, while most of the press focused on 26-year-old CEO Mark Zuckerberg for being chosen as Time’s “Person of the Year,” a virtually unknown intern, Paul Butler, released his data visualization of human relationships globally based on ten million friend pair samples from the site (see image).
Butler, who hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is a math/computer science student at the University of Waterloo, told TechCrunch he came up with the map by doing this:
My friend Carrie* doesn’t like to just sit around when there’s a problem that needs fixing. Thus when a bug eliminated all of her (and many others’) Twitter followers last year, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
Using Google, she located the Twitter office on Folsom Street and set out for a visit, stopping by a local bakery along the way to buy several dozen cookies in the hope that they might her gain entrée to one of the hottest companies on the planet.
When she showed up at the social networking site’s front door, it was locked, but by lucky coincidence, someone just leaving the office held the door open to let her in.
Once inside, she stood in the entryway wondering what to do next.
Green With Envy
If you haven’t already heard of the Olive O3HD, tune in. This stunner of a music server stores up to 1,500 CDs, tunes in more than 3,000 radio stations, plays HD music in the original quality used in the recording studio, and even comes with a free iPhone/iPad remote control app. And it couldn’t be prettier.
$999 at olive.us
If the thought of Black Friday shopping scares the bejesus out of you, there's good news. Signpost, the local community-powered deal site, just announced the launch of its free iPhone app. An extension of its member-driven site (which launched earlier this year), this new app will clue you in while you're out—whether it’s a steep clothing discount from your favorite boutique or a dinner special from a trendy local restaurant that would make for the perfect post-shopping date.