Monthly Archives: February 2015

Snowden film Citizenfour picks up Oscar for best documentary


Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s extraordinary depiction of the start of Edward Snowden’s NSA surveillance leaking extravaganza, has won the Academy Award for best documentary.

The film shows how Snowden got in touch with the activist film-maker using the titular pseudonym, and the Hong Kong interviews with Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill in which he started detailing what he knew from his time working at the NSA.

As a rare combination of rights activism, historical record and technological explainer, it is quite unlike any other documentary I have seen (I was lucky enough to catch it at its first showing in Berlin, where it had been edited – Poitras understandably wanted some distance between that process and U.S. intelligence services.)

In her acceptance speech on Sunday night, Poitras said Snowden’s disclosures “don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the decisions that rule us are taken in…

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Limited Edition Leica M-P (Typ 240) Safari Set



We absolutely love Leica for its picture and quality components – the brand is seriously on a level of its own. Through the years, German luxury camera maker Leica has released many editions, however, we find its latest “Safari” edition our most favorite. Aside from its unparalleled craftsmanship, the Safari set offers a great value when compared to purchasing the body and lens separately. Though the price for the Safari remains steep retailing at $9,990 USD, purchasing this bundle will save about $900 USD atop getting a few extras accessories. The Safari edition includes the all new M-P Typ 240 camera body and a Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH lens. The body features Olive leather while the lens retains its classic round metal hood. Accessories such as the full grain cowhide leather strap, an SD memory card and a business card holder will be included with this set. Limited to…

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The ‘Amazon will destroy your startup’ fallacy


“But what happens if Amazon or Google decides to do the same thing?”

This is a popular venture capitalist question for tech entrepreneurs, with Amazon [fortune-stock symbol=”AMZN”] and Google [fortune-stock symbol=”GOOG”] serving as stand-ins for a much larger group of powerful corporate incumbents. In fact, it’s a primary plot-line on HBO’s Silicon Valley. The basic notion is that huge companies with huge resources are able to crush the little guy if they just put their mind to it.

Or even the not-so-little guys. Just think about all of the consternation over Google challenging Uber. Or Apple [fortune-stock symbol=”AAPL”] challenging Spotify. Or, yes, Amazon challenging Instacart.

But here’s the thing: It rarely happens.

To be clear, this is not to say that most startups succeed, or that big companies don’t often use their wealth to acquire ancillary businesses. Instead, it’s simply to point out that existing tech companies rarely see…

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Parks and Recreation takes on Silicon Valley in final season


It’s not new for Silicon Valley to be the subject for Hollywood. From the actual TV series Silicon Valley, to one off episodes in series like Veep, to the eery Black Mirror, the growing power of technology and the maturation of the industry make for good comic and dramatic fodder.

The latest is perennial NBC favorite Parks and Recreation. The feel-good show — starring Amy Poehler as Pawnee, Indiana Parks employee Leslie Knope — is going after Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google in a multiepisode storyline stretching across its final season. The tech quartet is represented symbolically as one in a company called Gryzzl, which bids for a giant chunk of land near Pawnee that Leslie wants to turn into a national park.

The year is 2017 and Gryzzl’s fingerprint is everywhere. The characters scroll through their collapsible, transparent tablets, surf free Gryzzl Wi-Fi, and communicate through Gryzzl’s social network. Gryzzl’s…

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13 Questions With Matt Rogers


Welcome to 13 Questions, a series aimed at bringing a human face to notable figures in the world of startups, hardware, and tech. Ever wonder how your favorite designer learned to love tech? Curious what’s on your favorite VC’s bucket list? Want to see the person behind the media hype? 13 Questions is here.

Matt Rogers is the co-founder and VP of Engineering of Nest Labs. Before reinventing the thermostat, Matt was an engineer at Apple. Needless to say he has made a significant contribution to consumer electronics mostly, because as he confesses below, he hasn’t taken any time off since college.

1) Is your primary device Android or iOS?
I have both, and use them both.

2) What’s your go-to driving song?
Not a song but would be NPR All Things Considered.

3) What is your all-time favorite “Saturday Night Live” sketch?
The Bears.

4) How do…

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500 Mobile Collective Makes Its First Investment In Andy OS To Bring Android To The Desktop


500 Startups’ mobile-focused micro-fund has made its first investment, putting some cash into a startup that plans to bring mobile apps to the desktop. The company’s investment is in Andy OS, an Android-based operating system thats run mobile apps on Windows, Mac, and in the cloud.

Andy OS enables users to access their favorite Android apps and content from the Google Play store on new platforms. It brings those apps to the billions of personal computers that are already out there, and gives developers a new way to reach users.

The cloud-based operating system offers all the same features you would expect, including a customizable UI and desktop notifications. It also allows users to use their phones as a remote control for games that run on their desktop.

According to co-founder and CEO Sean Murphy, Andy OS was built to bring a sort of continuity between apps that users…

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Blogging is very much alive — we just call it something else now


All it takes is the retirement of one blogger — namely, Andrew Sullivan, founder of The Daily Dish and long-time thorn in the side of the liberal blogosphere — and the social web explodes with a mixture of praise, recriminations, eulogies for the death of blogging as we know it, and righteous indignation about whether he was one of the first or not. I don’t think Andrew’s departure is the end of the world, but I confess that it did make me stop and think about the nature of blogging, and where it has gone, or is going.

One of the reasons it made me think is that Andrew (who I consider a friend) said he decided to stop blogging in part because the pace of publishing multiple items a day had worn him down after 15 years, and he was getting too old for such things. As I…

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