lunes, 1 de agosto de 2016

Skip Down the Seine in a Flying River Taxi

It may be a thing as soon as next summer.
The flying river taxi, which floats above the water
The flying river taxi, which floats above the water

To unclog the busy streets of Paris, two entrepreneurs are building an egg-shaped river shuttle that will essentially fly above the Seine, the next iteration of which will be summoned by a smartphone and piloted by a robot.

If that's not incredible enough, a founder of SeaBubbles said on Thursday the company raised 500,000 euros ($555,000) to do just that, with backers including the founder of drone-maker Parrot SA, Partech Ventures and the French government-backed BPI fund. Another funding round will take place by the end of August to develop a taxi app and docking stations around the pod.

The company wants to build battery-powered bubble-shaped ships that hover a few inches above water and transport as many as five people at a time. The founders intend to be operating by the summer of 2017.

As it seeks more cash to turn its bubbles into cabs, the startup says it’s reached out to car-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc. as well as construction company Vinci SA and luxury-goods maker LVMH. There are discussions but no commitments have been made.

“You’ve got packed roads and empty waterways in a lot of cities -- there’s an obvious opportunity,” co-founder Alain Thebault said in an interview. “We want to build water taxis.”

Founders Anders Bringdal and Thebault, a surfer and a math-loving sailor respectively, together broke the record for speed on a floating sailboat they’d designed in 2009. They said SeaBubbles has the support of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has pledged to cut pollution in the city.

Each shuttle will carry five people, including a pilot, but the goal is to forgo the pilot and make the system fully autonomous in a few years once regulation allows it, Thebault said. Currently, navigation rules on the Seine don’t permit the operation of vessels that lack a skipper. Carmakers, battery vendors and software engineering companies have expressed interest in helping develop upgrades and scale production, he said, declining to cite any names.

The Sea Bubbles are coming.
The Sea Bubbles are coming
The bubbles would get a lift and hover above water thanks to a similar physics phenomenon to the one that propels their record-setting Hydroptere sailboat in the air.
The startup will sell the pods to individuals as well as countries, cities and companies, but its founders are still debating whether they want to manage a taxi service themselves or outsource it.
SeaBubbles plans to spend the money from its seed funding round on building full-size prototype pods of 4.3 meters by 2.3 meters (14.1 feet by 7.5 feet), that can go as fast as 25 knots (29 miles per hour). Bringdal and Thebault have so far demonstrated an operational pod one-eighth that size, and they want to showcase the first bubble at the 2017 Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January.
The entrepreneurs are relying on an extensive address book built through years of sailing. On the Hydroptere, the boat they designed in 2009, they hosted guests including Alphabet Inc. co-founder Larry Page, Prince Albert of Monaco and solar-powered plane aviator Bertrand Piccard.
Just wait for the convertible version.

viernes, 29 de julio de 2016

How to Share a Google Calendar with Other People

We all lead busy lives, and keeping track of appointments and events is key to maintaining your sanity. Lots of people use Google Calendar to manage their schedules, which means it’s very useful to share some of your calendars with other people, like co-workers or family members.
Maybe you’re in charge of scheduling employees’ work shifts, so you share a calendar with all the employees. Or, say you want to share a calendar with your family members so you can more easily see what everyone’s doing. Google Calendar allows you to create multiple calendars so you can share different calendars with different groups of people for different purposes.
You can either create a new calendar specifically for sharing with a specific group of people, or you can share a currently existing calendar. We’ll start with creating a new calendar to share and then show you how to share an existing calendar.
To create a new calendar, open the Google Calendar page in a browser and sign in to the Google account you want to share a calendar from. In the left pane, click the down arrow next to My calendars and select “Create new calendar” from the drop-down menu. (Alternatively, click the arrow next to an existing calendar, choose “Calendar settings”, then go to the “Share this calendar” tab.)
The Create New Calendar screen displays. Enter a name for the calendar in the “Calendar Name” box and enter a description for the calendar, if you want, in the “Description” box. Use the Location box to optionally specify a general location. We entered a Description for our calendar and left the Location box blank.
The time zone for your calendar should be automatically set to your current time zone. If not, or you want to use a different time zone, use the Calendar Time Zone section to change it.
If you want to make the calendar available to the general public, check the “Make this calendar public” box. If you choose to make your calendar public, you can also choose to hide the details by checking the “Share only my free/busy information (Hide details)” box. This will only show when your free and busy, and not reveal any other information about those times. The calendar we’re sharing in our example is a family calendar, so we’re not making it public.
NOTE: If you make your calendar public, it will be included in Google search results, so be careful what you enter on a public calendar.
In the Share with specific people section, enter the email address for one of the people you want to share your calendar with in the “Person” box. Then, select an option from the “Permission Settings” drop-down list to indicate what the person will be allowed to do with this calendar. You can allow them to only see free or busy with no details about the events (“See only free/busy”), see all the details for the events (“See all event details”), or allow them to see and make changes to events (“Make changes to events”). You can also allow the person to make changes and add people to and remove people from the sharing list
If you want the person to be able to make changes and add people to and remove people from the sharing list, select “Make changes AND manage sharing”. Be careful with this option, though. You’re giving this person the same full privileges you have with this calendar.
Click “Add Person” to share the calendar with the person.
If you want to stop sharing a calendar with someone, click the trash can icon in the Remove column in the Share with specific people section for that person. The calendar will be removed from their account.
To finish creating the new calendar you’re going to share, click “Create Calendar”. (If you’re editing an existing calendar, click the “Save” button in the same place.)
 If the person you’re sharing the calendar with has not yet set up or used the Calendar associated with their Google account, a dialog box displays allowing you to send them an invitation.
Otherwise, if the person already uses the Calendar in their Google account, the calendar you shared will automatically be added to their account. That person also receives an email saying you shared a calendar with them and they can click the “View Your Calendar” link in the email to quickly access the calendar.
Your default Google Calendar and any other calendars you create are listed under My calendars in the left pane.
Calendars other people shared with you, as well as any other calendars you’ve added, are listed under Other calendars in the left pane.
Shared calendars can also be accessed on your mobile device. You can add your Google Calendar to your iPhone or iPad. If you have an Android device, make sure the Google Account containing the shared calendar is added to your device to automatically have access to your calendars on that device, both shared and not.

viernes, 22 de julio de 2016

Utah teen launches consumer drone that can fly over 70 mph

Teal founder and CEO George Matus Jr. believes we've only seen five percent of what drones can do.

George Matus Jr. is 18 years old and just graduated from his Utah high school. He created a drone company backed by $2.8 million in funding. His Teal drone can fly over 70 mph, but what's more impressive is his vision to launch an open API.

A new drone company called Teal came out of stealth mode on Wednesday, offering preorders of a consumer drone that can fly at racing speeds straight of the box.

When he was 11 years old, the company's founder and CEO, George Matus Jr., started flying drones in a field behind his Utah home. At 12, he became a test pilot for a drone company, where he honed his technical skills. Soon, he started modifying drones, developing apps, and competing in races and hackathons. At 16, he decided it was time to start his own company.

In an interview with ZDNet, he said "I was able to fly all the products on the market and learn about the technology, and throughout that time, I built this wish list of everything that I would want in a drone if I were to professionally build one of my own."
While he was tinkering in his high school robotics lab, George earned a $100,00 fellowship from the Thiel Foundation, which PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel started to encourage young innovators to skip or postpone college so they could focus on becoming entrepreneurs.

At 17, George -- still sporting a full set of braces -- had his dad give him a ride to meet with investors, since he didn't have his driver's license yet. He quickly raised $2.8 million in funding to launch Teal.

"After spending an hour with George, I was overwhelmingly impressed by his vision for a drone platform as well as his presence as an entrepreneur," wrote Ben Lambert, from Pelion Venture Partners, in a post on Medium. George clearly has an engineering mindset, but he's also a savvy businessman. When he was a kid (which wasn't that long ago, after all), he always had lemonade stands or some other way to make a few bucks. "I was always an entrepreneur at heart," he told me.

In these early days, Teal has been operating out of Pelion's Salt Lake City office. George says he's managing to stay grounded while handling large responsibility at such a young age with the support from his family and school, but he also mentioned "half-jokingly" that spending quality time with his investors has helped. "Ben tells me every day that I suck," George said.

Teal can fly over 70 mph, which is double the maximum speed of typical consumer drones . Racing drones can hit 50 mph, and DIY drones (including some that George has built) can reach higher speeds, but this is the fastest drone to be offered to the mass market.

Hardcore drone enthusiasts will be able to fly Teal year-round, because it is built to withstand just about any weather condition, including rain, snow, hail, and even 40 mph winds. A built-in Inertial Navigation system provides GPS and sensors that ensure controlled flight performance and accuracy.

Teal can fly over 70 mph, which is double the maximum speed of typical consumer drones.

Newbies shouldn't be intimidated by the powerful drone, since it has an optional beginner setting that lets the drone fly 20 feet in the air with a virtual bubble that prevents users from smashing their new drones into trees or other objects.

The drone's camera supports 4K video recording and 3-axis electronic stabilization. Teal is powered by Nvidia TX1, a mini supercomputer that can handle machine learning, autonomous flight, and image recognition. There are a couple of downsides: the high performance battery only lasts 10 minutes, and at this time, there is no integrated obstacle avoidance.

Users only need their smartphones to get started. Teal is launching with three basic apps:

  1. Command and Control: A basic flight-and-control app that gets the user flying. It has an Inertial Navigation System, speed and pitch governing, geofencing, and the "beginner bubble" feature.
  2. Follow­Me: An app that allows you to have the drone follow a specific person or object based on advanced image recognition software, which was originally developed by Boston-based Neurala for NASA and the US Air Force.
  3. Racing: This app will allow racers to log flights, challenges, awards, and rank up through leader boards.

It was important to George to launch an SDK and open API so that developers can build unlimited apps for anything from gaming and augmented reality to commercial uses like inspections and agricultural monitoring. He explained:

Even though it's geared toward consumers, what we're able to do is take it to commercial, start building apps for it, and because it has this incredible capability built in -- the supercomputer, the inertia navigation system, the modularity, and upgradability -- it can be used for something like search and rescue. Somebody can send a swarm of these, and with machine learning, it can autonomously find a human and distinguish them versus a rock or a tree and alert somebody.

George believes we've only seen five percent of what drones can do. He predicted that in the next few years we'll continue to see more commercial drone use, plus a gamification of drones, with more racing and augmented reality similar to Pokemon Go that will continue the trend of taking video games outdoors.

"Drones will become as ubiquitous as a smartphone," he said.

"They'll be smaller, more powerful, and less intrusive."

Preorders from Teal's website start July 20, for $1,299, with plans to ship before Christmas. The first 500 people to order Teal will get the Signature Series, which come with a free Endurance Package that doubles the battery life, plus one rather unusual perk for extra support: the CEO's direct phone number.

jueves, 21 de julio de 2016

The $4 Million Battle Over Inflatable Pool Toys

As much as $20,000 a day in sales of floating doughnuts, pineapples, and flamingos are at stake in a pair of federal lawsuits.

Image result for Inflatable toys for pools

It's doughnut versus doughnut in a $4 million fight over your pool party. 

Best known for baked goods-shaped pool toys, novelty manufacturer BigMouth Inc. sued two companies it claims are hawking infringing floaties on The complaints name "SoloFleet" and "Floating Panda," identifying them by their seller handles since their true identities are unknown. The five products Floating Panda currently sells are pool toys, three of which resemble those sold by BigMouth. SoloFleet has 10 products for sale, one of which is a doughnut similar to one sold by BigMouth. 

The aggrieved pool toy purveyor also claims one defendant used to sell a flamingo floatie that infringed its designs, but it was later withdrawn.

BigMouth alleged the sellers made counterfeit goods and sold them under the BigMouth Amazon Standard Identification Number, attempting to pass them off as the real deal, according to complaints filed earlier this month in a Connecticut federal court.

The differences between products are slight but noticeable to the discerning eye, BigMouth said, such as using less colors on the doughnut, not shading in sprinkles and using thinner plastic. The company also said the defendants used BigMouth product shots without permission.

Prior to hitting the courthouse, BigMouth founder Steve Wampold said his company reached out to both sellers and was either rebuffed or ignored. In a copy of an email he provided, a man who identified himself as the owner of Floating Panda tells him to "stop messing with us" or "I will not let it go next time." (Floating Panda and SoloFleet didn’t reply to requests through Amazon's web site for comment on the email or the lawsuit.)

BigMouth also filed counterfeit and copyright claims with Amazon. 

In response to one such complaint, the online retailer removed product images on a Floating Panda listing of a pineapple float, Wampold said. BigMouth has assigned two of its 22 employees to police Amazon listings and keeps a law firm on retainer to investigate their findings, Wampold said. But he added that notifying Amazon can be frustrating. "It's a slow process to get them to take action against these sellers," he said. (Amazon didn't reply to a request for comment on the matter.)

BigMouth had been tracking alleged counterfeiters on Amazon for over a year, he said, but didn't pursue legal action until losing the "Buy Box" to Floating Panda and SoloFleet for a doughnut float. 

The Buy Box is the place on an Amazon page where the customer selects "Add to Cart," and being featured there ensures a steady stream of sales. Because multiple sellers deal in the same products on Amazon, the box is highly prized. Typically, the seller with the best price lands in the box. Wampold alleged the rivals undercut his price by a few cents, bumping him from the box. The move cost his company about $20,000 a day in doughnut floatie sales, he estimated.

Because the defendants in his lawsuits may be hard to identify and are possibly based overseas, Wampold said he doesn't expect them to respond to his complaints. If that's the case, the judge may issue a default ruling. "We don't expect to recover $2 million," Wampold admits. "I'd just love for them to appear in court and try to defend themselves, but how could they?" 

All of this alleged floatie theft though has taken an emotional toll on Wampold. He worries that BigMouth's reputation will be unfairly sullied and that online shoppers may unknowingly purchase an inferior, or potentially unsafe, product. 

"It ruins all the joy and the pride of coming up with a good product," he said. "It's heartbreaking. It's absolutely heartbreaking." 

miércoles, 20 de julio de 2016

The Hip, Orange Super Food Increasingly Displacing French Fries

  • Americans are eating twice as many sweet potatoes since 2002
  • U.S. farmers plant most since 1965 as exports to Europe surge

The once lowly sweet potato is being reborn as a kind of hip, orange super food.
Gone are the days when the only time Americans encountered the tuber was mashed up and topped with marshmallows alongside a Thanksgiving turkey. Today, sweet potatoes turn up everywhere, as healthier, nutrient-dense alternatives to French fries at burger joints or colorful side dishes for swanky restaurants. They have more fiber and fewer calories than white potatoes.
And the appeal isn’t just among Americans, who are eating twice as many sweet potatoes as they did in 2002. Demand also is surging in Europe. In the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter, farmers are planting their biggest crop in five decades after their shipments overseas doubled in five years to an all-time high. Nutritionists say consumers who want to eat fewer grains and processed foods are choosing sweet potatoes.
“We’ve seen various different plants emerge as new superstars,” said Kristin Kirkpatrick, manager of wellness nutrition services at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. “From a diet perspective, people are so interested in really eating much closer to the farm. Sweet potatoes could be clumped in with beets and kale and some of these other things that are coming from the ground and not coming from a plant where people are wearing hairnets.”
While Americans still eat far more white potatoes -- as French fries or just baked or mashed -- demand has slowed. Consumption was 113.7 pounds (51.6 kilograms) per person last year, down from 125.4 pounds a decade ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Meanwhile, sweet potatoes are catching on and growers are marketing them as a year-round staple. In 2015, consumers ate 7.5 pounds, up from 4.5 pounds in 2005 and 3.7 pounds in 2002, USDA data show.

American Root

Sweet potatoes, which belong to a different plant family than white potatoes and yams, were already well-established as a root vegetable in Central America and South America by the time explorer Christopher Columbus arrived in the late 1400s. They were a big part of the U.S. diet almost a century ago, peaking in the 1930s, before falling out of favor over the next six decades. With demand and output now rebounding, the crop is marketed in everything from dog food to vodka.
“They’ve been phenomenally popular” at DMK Burger Bar in Chicago, where sweet-potato fries served with a lemon-Tabasco aioli have been on the menu since the first restaurant opened in the Lakeview neighborhood in 2009, said David Morton, co-founder of DMK Restaurants, which operates three of the burger joints in the Chicago area, as well as locations in Soldier Field. “They have a very, very loyal following.”
Most of the U.S. crop is grown in the Southeast, where land has traditionally been usedfor tobacco and cotton. More than half comes from North Carolina. Total domestic output last year jumped 4.8 percent to 31 billion pounds, the highest since 1946, USDAdata show.

Planting More

Seedings this year are forecast at the highest since 1965, the USDA estimates, providing a profit boost to farmers at a time when global surpluses of grain and oilseeds have led to lower prices and losses on those crops. A farmer can generate $1,200 to $1,400 of operating income per acre growing sweet potatoes, up from $827 in 2012, according to an analysis by Elizabeth Canales, an assistant professor of agricultural economics at Mississippi State University. By comparison, U.S. farm income is falling for many crops, and some Midwest corn growers may barely break even.
Sweet potatoes have a “really positive demand-side story,” said Roland Fumasi, a senior fresh-produce analyst with Rabobank Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory in Fresno, California. “While you’ve seen production really, really rapidly rise, price has also gone up over that time period. It gives those producers an incentive to spend more and drive yields.”

Packing Potatoes

Kornegay Family Farms in Princeton, North Carolina, sowed 800 acres of sweet potatoes this year, up from 600 in 2015 and double the amount a decade ago, said Kim Kornegay-LeQuire, vice president of the company’s sweet-potato packing and marketing unit. The family, which began farming in 1953, also grows tobacco, soybeans, peanuts, wheat, watermelon and asparagus. It packages about 760,000 pounds of sweet potatoes a week, with three-quarters of that exported, she said.
“If you’re a commodities farmer just dealing with soybeans or wheat or corn, you’re very thankful to have sweet potatoes in your arsenal because, not only does everything help each other out with crop rotation, but you don’t have all your eggs in one basket when it comes to row crops,” said Kornegay-LeQuire, who is part of the family’s fourth generation of farmers.
Demand growth domestically is partly driven not by raw sweet potatoes but value-added products like pre-cut cubes or fries, said Jennifer Campuzano, a Chicago-based director at Nielsen’s Perishables Group, which tracks food consumption. While retail sales climbed 3.2 percent by volume in the year ended April 30, outpacing a 2.6 percent gain for all produce, value-added products rose 18 percent, Nielsen data show.

Export Strength

China is by far the biggest consumer and produced 70.5 million metric tons in 2013, more than 20 times any other country, according to the latest United Nations data. But demand for U.S. exports is being driven mostly by increased sales to Europe, including the U.K., Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland. Exports last year of 179,881 tons were more than double those in 2010, and sales in the first five months of 2016 are running 24 percent ahead of the prior year’s pace, according to USDA data.
“It has certainly got more popular than it used to before because maybe we finally worked it out how to cook it properly,” said Scott Hallsworth, owner of Kurobuta, a Japanese restaurant in London, where he serves sweet-potato fries. “People don’t realize how versatile it is.”
At Habanera, a Mexican restaurant in London, owner Lorraine Cais said she’s using more sweet potato because it “marries very well with hot and spicy Mexican food and offers us a chance to challenge ourselves, innovate and get more flexibility in designing our dishes with it, unlike regular fries, which are boring.”
A 2015 USDA report said further domestic and foreign demand growth “looks promising,” given a continued focus on healthy eating and value-added products.
“This crop appears to be benefiting in some changes in taste and preferences,” said Jennifer Bond, an economist with USDA’s Economic Research Service in Washington. “They’re seen as a little more gourmet than the regular potato.”

viernes, 15 de julio de 2016

Where is the future of tech?


“For decades Silicon Valley has served as a tech mecca, and blue chip firms such as Facebook, Apple, and Google headquartered there are constantly in the news. However while tech worker interest in Silicon Valley is strong, it’s hardly the only place tech workers see opportunity—not by a long shot." —Indeed's report on high-demand tech professionals. [Indeed]

By The Numbers

Percentage of tech workers who plan to leave their current jobs for another opportunity in the future. [Indeed]

Percentage of tech workers who consider working in Silicon Valley to be "not important." [Indeed]

Percentage of all U.S. venture capital that goes to the Bay Area in 2016. [WSJ]

Percentage of all U.S. venture capital that went to the Bay Area in 1995. [WSJ]




"Why not choose both?" you might ask. What starts as a low-cost, local business can eventually scale (at some risk to investors) as demand increases. This is true, but it's also useful to divide businesses into different categories, with "low-cost" at one end and "high-risk" at the other. Why would an entrepreneur favor one over the other? Here are some responses from the thread:
  • Low-cost business

    -Better odds:  A low-cost business is more likely to have a return on investment, albeit a much lower return than that of a successful high-risk startup company.
-Work/Life Balance: Many low cost business have small staffs and the owner "does it all. But many high-risk startups require injections of personal funds to stay afloat. Compare what you think your business requires and what you and your family are willing to agree to. Low-cost can also mean low-stress.
  • High-risk startup

    -Ambition: If you have ambitions to be something more than just your average Joe entrepreneur running a hot dog stand, then you have to take risks. Launching a startup is your chance to aim big and produce a product or service that changes the world.
    -Income: Most startups assume the founders and the key team members work for little or nothing for the first year or two, while other businesses starting generating revenue for salaries much earlier. What is your own personal financial situation?
What do you think? What type of business would suggest to other entrepreneurs—especially those just dipping their toes in the water? Please let us know!


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