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Gamers Chipping Away At Digital Cube Are Promised ‘Life-Changing’ Secret

Source: http://www.popsci.com/gadgets/article/2012-11/gamers-not-taking-amazing-social-experiment-seriously

This is how the just-released game Curiosity: What’s Inside The Cube? works: Anyone with an iPhone or iPad can download the iOS app. With the app, the players connect on the Internet, furiously tapping on their screens to remove pixely chunks of a single, gigantic cube. The one player lucky enough to remove the final pixel from the cube gets to see what creator Peter Molyneux calls a “life-changing” secret. So naturally, the gamers have already worked together to chip out pixels that form swear words. But still. Pretty neat game idea. [Kotaku]

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Friday, November 9th, 2012 news No Comments

Rice University And OpenStax Announce First Open-Source Textbooks

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/07/rice-university-and-openstax-announce-first-open-source-textbooks/

openstax

When we think about the distribution industry being disrupted, we tend to think about music and movies, whose physical media and vast shipment infrastructure have been rendered mostly obsolete over the last decade. To a lesser extent, we hear about print, and the effect of e-readers and web consumption on books and magazines. No one is making the change particularly gracefully, and the same can be said of the textbook business, which does millions of dollars of business every year selling incredibly expensive items to students — who likely consider them anachronisms.

Rice University, which has been pushing alternative distribution mechanisms for scholarly publications for years, has announced a new initiative, by which they hope to publish free, high-quality textbooks in core subjects like physics and biology via a non-profit publisher called OpenStax College. It’s the polar opposite of Apple’s iBooks textbooks, which, while they too help drag this dusty industry into the present, amount more to a new sales vector for the publishers than competition.

Rice and OpenStax aren’t the first people to propose open-source or free textbooks. There are collections here and there, like Flat World Knowledge and Apple’s iTunes U — but they’re decidedly short on the type of books a freshman might have to buy for their year of survey courses: Biology 1, Physics 1, Sociology 1, Psychology 1. And 11 Learning has a similar idea of collaboration producing a book, but their creation model may not be economically feasible.

And of course there are the many companies that want to remove textbooks from the equation entirely. Setting up textbook platforms on new devices like Kno and Inkling, making an environment for meta-curricular activities and non-traditional learning like Khan Academy, or virtualizing the whole education experience, something with which many universities are tinkering.

But textbooks are still big business, and their utility in the education system is difficult to argue with right now. So OpenStax splits the difference: fueled by grant money from a number of private foundations (i.e. not government grants), they’re putting together full-on textbooks, peer-reviewed, professionally laid out, and all that. These textbooks will be provided for free in file form. But supplementary materials — quizzes, videos, presentations, and the like, presumably — cost money.

It would be petty to call this a bait and switch, since the bulk of the material is being provided for free. And a savvy professor or TA can scrape quite a few supplementary materials from the web already, thanks to those post-textbook services already mentioned. Providing the meat for free and the potatoes for a price is perfectly reasonable.

What remains to be seen is the quality of the textbooks. So far OpenStax has signed up “in the low tens” of colleged and universities to use the books. Institutions probably are waiting to see how the next year or so plays out: everything is in flux and to commit to one platform over another when the true costs and benefits are still unclear would be a bad move.

OpenStax’s first textbooks, for physics and sociology, will be coming in March, with others following later in the year. A strange time to make a debut, in a way, as the school year is well underway and many intro courses won’t be offered. But it will give time for the creaking machinery of academia to notice, acknowledge, examine, and judge the OpenStax offering. It may be that they can demonstrate their agility in fixing, improving, and expanding the content on the fly, which could either impress or terrify nodding faculty members who use the same text for a decade at a time.


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Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 news No Comments

The Most Overpaid CEOs In America (OXY)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/obermatt-overpaid-underpaid-ceos-america-2012-2


oil occidental irani

Executive compensation is one of the most ironic hotly-debated topics out there.  It’s hotly debated because people often complain that CEOs are overpaid.  It’s ironic because most of the people who complain about excessive pay have the capacity to do something, yet they do nothing.

You see, every year shareholders of a company are mailed a Form DEF 14A, also known as the proxy statement. In the proxy are the details of the company’s executive compensation plans, and they are typically written plain English.  If shareholders don’t like the plan, they vote it down.

But many shareholders will receive the proxy in the mail and throw it right into the trash. And by default, they vote in favor of whatever plan is recommended by the Board.

Anyways, research firm Obermatt (via The Economist) computed the excess pay of CEOs of the S&P 100 companies.  Excess pay is calculated as deserved pay less actual pay.  Deserved pay is measured considering earnings growth and shareholder return and the compensation practices of peer group companies.

On the top of the “Most Overpaid” list is Occidental Petroleum’s Ray Irani. Irani is widely considered the poster child of excessive pay.

On the bottom are fan favorites Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.

Here’s a chart of Obermatt’s rankings courtesy of The Economist:

chart

SEE ALSO: These CEOs Were Paid $100+ Million To Quit >

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Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 news No Comments

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5882542/new-york-citys-energy-consumption-mapped-out-building+by+building

New York City's Energy Consumption Mapped Out, Building-by-BuildingConvinced you’re more environmentally aware than your neighbors? Now you can find out: scientists have mapped the entire energy use of New York City, building by building.

The interactive map, created by Bianca Howard, a PhD student in mechanical engineering at Columbia University, uses publicly available data to work out which buildings are using the most energy and how they are using it. Then, it displays the energy use on a color-map. Howard’s PhD supervisors, Professor Modi, explains:

“While discussions frequently focus on electricity use, homes in New York City, whether a townhouse or a large apartment building, use far more energy in form of heat rather than electricity. Nearly all of this heat is obtained from heating oil or natural gas. In addition, current electricity distribution infrastructure in many urban areas relies on large amounts of electricity brought in from outside the city, making it difficult to support increased future use without requiring significant investment of resources and funds. We are looking at ways we can address both these issues-reducing our heating bills and increasing local electricity generation capacity.”

The resulting interactive map is great fun to play around with, allowing you to see how energy use is split down between electricity, space heating and cooling, and water heating. The best bit is that, as mentioned, its detail lets you study energy use down to the scale of individual buildings. You can play around with the map here. Every city needs something like this. [Columbia Engineering via Boing Boing]

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Monday, February 6th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

SOPA and PIPA Have Been Pulled (For Now) [Sopa]

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5877993/sopa-and-pipa-have-been-pulled-for-now

SOPA and PIPA Have Been Pulled (For Now)After Wednesday’s all-day protest of SOPA and PIPA, the bills that want to censor your internet, both bills have been shelved for further consideration, and will not be voted on as scheduled. Rep. Lamar Smith, the sponsor of SOPA, said he’s still committed to fighting piracy, but that this legislation isn’t the way to do it:

I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.

The Committee will continue work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property. We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.

We’re hesitant to say the bill is “dead”, but after the events of this week it’s unlikely we’ll see SOPA and PIPA come to a vote in their current form. This probably isn’t the last we’ve seen of anti-piracy legislation, of course, and future bills could be just as dangerous. There are still things you can do to help, and while this is a victory, it isn’t a permanent one, so we wouldn’t get too comfortable just yet. Hit the link to read more.

Photo by Aspect3D (Shutterstock).

Statement from Chairman Smith on Senate Delay of Vote on PROTECT IP Act | US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary via Ars Technica


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Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 news No Comments

The Three Ds of CES TV

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/01/08/switched-on-the-three-ds-of-ces-tv/

Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about consumer technology.

The walls of Las Vegas casinos — devoid of clocks and windows — form chambers in which time loses its mastery over the existence of those who dwell within them. So is it too for the products on display at CES, which run the gamut from things currently in stores to concept products that may not materialize for years, if ever.

Nonetheless, with Mobile World Congress and the CTIA Wireless show still vying for the attention of handset introductions and Apple and Microsoft relying more on their own events for major PC OS announcements, television remains a staple of the show, with nearly all major U.S. brands having a presence on the show floor or off-site. At CES 2012, one can surely still expect a lot of focus on 3D television. Increasingly, though, three other “D”s are coming to represent the direction of television.

Continue reading Switched On: The Three Ds of CES TV

Switched On: The Three Ds of CES TV originally appeared on Engadget on Sun, 08 Jan 2012 09:30:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Sunday, January 8th, 2012 news No Comments

Here’s The Math Formula For Structuring A Groupon Deal That Doesn’t Lose Money (GRPN)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-the-math-formula-for-structuring-a-groupon-deal-that-doesnt-lose-money-2011-12


groupon cupcake girl

We’ve all heard the nightmare stories about Groupon merchants who lost tons of money because they were suddenly overwhelmed with thousands of customers whom they were forced to serve at a loss: The British bakery that made 102,000 cupcakes. The Irish hairdressers whose customer base now consists entirely of people who only want their hair cut a discount. The Portland cafe that lost $8,000 because the owner failed to cap the number of deals she offered.

It’s not just Groupon, of course. There are loads of other daily deal sites — Living Social, Thrillist, Google Offers, etc — but they all present merchants with the same problem: The conflict between offering below-cost deals to customers in hopes of attracting long-term “regulars” and structuring a deal so that you can still make a profit. The math can be tricky because merchants have to account for two different sets of discounts: The discount to the customer and share of the payment taken by the daily deal site for publicizing the offer.

Now TheDealMix, a site that aggregates daily deals into an impressively complicated map of your neighborhood, has produced an infographic that can help businesses calculate daily deal offers so th! at they won’t accidentally go bankrupt.

And, yes, The DealMix has presented its formulas in the form of cupcakes — particularly useful given the number of bakery-related Groupon disasters that have made the headlines.

The formulas include:

Offer Price – Cost of Goods > $0

Average Customer Spend – Value of Offer + Price > Cost of Goods

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Monday, December 12th, 2011 news No Comments

Netflix’s Bad Stock Timing (NFLX)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-netflix-2011-11

Netflix “is showing investors how not to buy and sell stock,” says the Bespoke Investment Group.

Last night it sold $200 million worth of stock at $70 a share. It had to sell that stock as part of a deal to raise another $200 million in the form of convertible notes. The financial moves will dilute shareholders by about 10%, according to Credit Suisse.

The timing is really embarrassing for Netflix because it spent $200 million buying back shares at an average price of $218 during the first half of the year.

Buying high and selling low is not how you should do it.

For what it’s worth, as you can see in the chart below, Netflix’s timing wasn’t always terrible! It was pretty smart buyer until the second quarter of 2011.

chart of the day, netflix stock price and stock repurchases

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Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011 news No Comments

John Bell, Managing Director, Oglivy 360

Source: http://blog.compete.com/2011/11/14/digital-cmo-series-john-bell-managing-director-oglivy-360/

“Even Social Media needs brand management.”

At the 2011 Digital CMO Summit, John Bell, Managing Director at Ogilvy 360 shared his thought provoking presentation – Overcoming the CMO’s Dilemma. John discussed a number of key questions and challenges that CMO’s are facing as brands begin to move from experimentation into operationalizing” social media.  It’s not as simple as senior marketing executives finally “getting it.” CMOs and their immediate teams are faced with some organizational issues, capability gaps, and the unforeseen consequences of embracing social media marketing and communications. Below are the 7 big challenges that must be overcome in order to reap the largest business value from social media:

1. Challenge: The Curse of the Channel Mindset

Solution: Plan around owned, earned and paid ‘engagement’
____________________________________________________________

2. Challenge: Understanding what to value

Solution: Adopt a new model that values behavior
____________________________________________________________

3. Challenge: Uncontrolled growth

Solution: Social Brand Management
____________________________________________________________

4. Challenge: What do I do with my Web site

Solution: Develop a content strategy
____________________________________________________________

5. Challenge: Assigning the right roles

Solution: Form a “center for excellence”
____________________________________________________________

6. Challenge: Building knowledge and capacity

Solution: Train, train, train
____________________________________________________________

7. Challenge: How else does social media drive value?

Solution: Develop a social business strategy
____________________________________________________________

Hear from John as he discusses the 7 big challenges and more on the CMO’s Dilemma on the Compete YouTube Channel.

About John: John Bell, managing director at Ogilvy, developed and leads 360° Digital Influence, the world’s largest, award-winning network of social media strategists, with team members in more than 27 countries. Bell and his team have designed integrated social media strategy and programs for B2B and B2C businesses as diverse as Unilever, American Express, Dupont, LG, and Lenovo. Bell has also received recognition for his enterprise social media strategy for The Ford Motor Company.


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Thursday, November 17th, 2011 news No Comments

Treehouse Is an Elegant, Focused Online Learning Resource for Aspiring Designers and Developers [Teach Yourself]

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5857764/treehouse-teaches-you-development-and-design-elegantly-and-for-free

Treehouse Is an Elegant, Focused Online Learning Resource for Aspiring Designers and DevelopersIf you’re looking to learn some new development or design skills, Treehouse can teach your the core knowledge you need. The site offers a focused look at the basics of object oriented programming, the principals of good design, and how to make an iPhone app.

The lessons take you through your topic of choice in video form, explain everything in clear and precise terms, and award you badges as you make your way through. If you’re willing to pay extra, you’ll also get access to project videos which will take you through the process of creating real-world projects from start to finish. I’ve been meaning to improve my pathetic Objective C skills and learn to develop for iOS but had yet to come across a set of lessons I really liked. After watching a few at Treehouse I was pretty hooked. If you’ve been looking to pick up one of these valuable skills as well, their lessons are definitely worth checking out.

Note: I made an error and initially thought Treehouse was free. First, sorry for the misleading information! Second, we still think it’s pretty nice. Pricing is $25/month for basic access and $49/month for premium. (More information here.) That’s about on par with our other favorite, Lynda. Lynda offers you far more topics but Treehouse has a nice focus (and, at the moment, a more up-to-date iOS course). Sorry again that I completely missed the cost of the service, but it’s still pretty cool and worth a look if it’s within your budget.

Treehouse


You can follow Adam Dachis, the author of this post, on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.  Twitter’s the best way to contact him, too.


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Wednesday, November 9th, 2011 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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