Posts Tagged ‘apps’


Today it’s Facebook.  

” … Over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties,”

  Symantec had to get them to come out and tell you…

And yet it amazes people continue to put things online that they wouldn’t want the whole world to see…

Story from Reuters below:

Facebook may have leaked your personal information: Symantec

12:46am EDT
(Reuters) – Facebook users’ personal information could have been accidentally leaked to third parties, in particular advertisers, over the past few years, Symantec Corp said in its official blog.
Third-parties would have had access to personal information such as profiles, photographs and chat, and could have had the ability to post messages, the security software maker said.
“We estimate that as of April 2011, close to 100,000 applications were enabling this leakage,” the blog post said.
” … Over the years, hundreds of thousands of applications may have inadvertently leaked millions of access tokens to third parties,” posing a security threat, the blog post said.
The third-parties may not have realized their ability to access the information, it said.
Facebook, the world’s largest social networking website, was notified of this issue and confirmed the leakage, the blog post said.
It said Facebook has taken steps to resolve the issue.
“Unfortunately, their (Symantec’s) resulting report has a few inaccuracies. Specifically, we have conducted a thorough investigation which revealed no evidence of this issue resulting in a user’s private information being shared with unauthorized third parties,” Facebook spokeswoman Malorie Lucich said in a statement.
Lucich said the report also ignores the contractual obligations of advertisers and developers which prohibit them from obtaining or sharing user information in a way that “violates our policies.”
She also confirmed that the company removed the outdated API (Application Programing Interface) referred to in Symantec’s report.
Facebook has more than 500 million users and is challenging Google Inc and Yahoo Inc for users’ time online and for advertising dollars.
(Reporting by Thyagaraju Adinarayan and Sakthi Prasad in Bangalore; Editing by Bernard Orrand Anshuman Daga)
© Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved.

Facebook may have leaked your personal information: Symantec | Reuters

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The Class That Built Apps, and Fortunes

May 7, 2011

ALL right, class, here’s your homework assignment: Devise an app. Get people to use it. Repeat.
That was the task for some Stanford students in the fall of 2007, in what became known here as the “Facebook Class.”
No one expected what happened next.
The students ended up getting millions of users for free apps that they designed to run on Facebook. And, as advertising rolled in, some of those students started making far more money than their professors.
Almost overnight, the Facebook Class fired up the careers and fortunes of more than two dozen students and teachers here. It also helped to pioneer a new model of entrepreneurship that has upturned the tech establishment: the lean start-up.
“Everything was happening so fast,” recalls Joachim De Lombaert, now 23. His team’s app netted $3,000 a day and morphed into a company that later sold for a six-figure sum.
“I almost didn’t realize what it all meant,” he says.
Neither did many of his classmates. Back then, Facebook apps were a novelty. The iPhone had just arrived, and the first Android phone was a year off.
But by teaching students to build no-frills apps, distribute them quickly and worry about perfecting them later, the Facebook Class stumbled upon what has become standard operating procedure for a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. For many, the long trek from idea to product to company has turned into a sprint.
Start-ups once required a lot of money, time and people. But over the past decade, free, open-source software and “cloud” services have brought costs down, while ad networks help bring in revenue quickly.
The app phenomenon has accentuated the trend and helped unleash what some call a new wave of technology innovation — and what others call a bubble.
Early on, the Facebook Class became a microcosm of Silicon Valley. Working in teams of three, the 75 students created apps that collectively had 16 million users in just 10 weeks. Many of those apps were sort of silly: Mr. De Lombaert’s, for example, allowed users to send “hotness” points to Facebook friends. Yet during the term, the apps, free for users, generated roughly $1 million in advertising revenue.
Such successes helped inspire entrepreneurs to ditch business plans and work on apps. Not all succeeded, but those that did helped to fuel the expansion of Facebook, which now has nearly 700 million users.
Venture capitalists also began rethinking their approach. Some created investment funds tailored to the new, bare-bones start-ups.
“A lot of the concepts and ideas that came out of the class influenced the structure of the fund that I am working on now,” says Dave McClure, one of the class instructors and founder of 500 Startups, which invests in lean start-ups. “The class was the realization that this stuff really works.”
Nearly four years later, many of the students have learned that building a business is a lot harder than creating an app — even an app worthy of an A+.
“Starting a company is definitely more work,” says Edward Baker, who was Mr. De Lombaert’s partner in the class and later in business. The two have founded, a social networking start-up.
Still, many students were richly rewarded. Some turned their homework into companies. A few have since sold those businesses to the likes of Zynga. Others joined hot start-ups like RockYou, a gaming site that at the time was among the most successful Facebook apps.
The Facebook Class changed Mr. De Lombaert’s life. His team’s app, Send Hotness, brought in more users and more money faster than any other in the class. And its success attracted the attention of venture capitalists.
“The class, more than anything, set the tone for us to try to start something big,” says Mr. Baker, 32,’s C.E.O.
When the Send Hotness app began to take off, Mr. Baker encouraged Mr. De Lombaert to treat himself to a new car. Mr. De Lombaert settled for a laptop. (He also put some money aside to help to pay his Stanford tuition.) They eventually sold the app to a dating Web site.
Facebook did not actively participate in the Stanford class. But some of its engineers attended sessions, and it benefited from the success of the students’ apps. “It really felt like an incubator,” says David Fetterman, a Facebook engineer who helped develop the applications platform.
The startling success of some of the class’s projects got Silicon Valley buzzing. The final session, held in an auditorium in December 2007, was attended by more than 500 people, including many investors.
“The Facebook platform was taking off, and there was this feeling of a gold rush,” said Mike Maples Jr., an investor who attended some of the classes and ended up backing one of the start-ups.
THE Facebook Class was the brainchild of B. J. Fogg, who runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford. An energetic academic and an innovation guru, he focuses on how to harness technology and human psychology to influence people’s behavior.
Mr. Fogg thought that the Facebook platform would be a good way to test some of his theories. Creating a new model of entrepreneurship was far from his mind.
At first, university administrators pushed back. “Facebook was not taken so seriously in academic circles back then,” Mr. Fogg recalls.
But there was no hesitation among students — from undergraduates in computer science to M.B.A. candidates — who were spending much of their lives immersed in Facebook.
From the start, many approached the class from a business angle. Mr. Baker, for instance, was a graduate business student but lacked technical skills, so he spent his first week interviewing engineers. “I wanted a technical co-founder,” he says.
He settled on Mr. De Lombaert, and the two, along with a third student, Alex Onsager, created Send Hotness. It let users send points to friends they considered “hot” and to compare “hotness” rankings.
Soon they found themselves in a proverbial “the dog ate my homework” situation. Three days before a presentation was due, Mr. De Lombaert accidentally deleted the computer code he was tinkering with. “We kind of freaked out,” he recalls.
Rebuilding the app would take too long. So, working around the clock over a weekend, they built another version, with a more rudimentary algorithm.
The stripped-down app took off. In five weeks, five million people signed up. When the team began placing ads on the app, the money poured in.
They had stumbled upon one of the themes of the class: make things simple, and perfect them later.
“The students did an amazing job of getting stuff into the market very quickly,” says Michael Dearing, a consulting associate professor at theInstitute of Design at Stanford, who now teaches a class based on similar, rapid prototyping ideas. “It was a huge success.”
DAN GREENBERG was sitting at the kitchen table one night when he and another teaching assistant decided to get into the app game. Mr. Greenberg, a graduate student who had done research for Mr. Fogg, hadn’t planned to get app-happy. But the students’ success whetted his appetite.
Four weeks into the quarter, he and his colleague, Rob Fan, set out to create an app that would let Facebook users send “hugs” to one another.
It took them all of five hours.
The app took off. So they moved on to apps for “kisses,” “pillow fights” and other digital interactions — 70 in all.
Their apps caught on with millions of people and were soon bringing in nearly $100,000 a month in ads. After the class ended, the two started a company, 750 Industries, named after the 750 Pub at Stanford where Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Fan where drinking when they decided to become business partners.
But juggling the business and schoolwork was too much for Mr. Greenberg, then 22. So he called his father.
“I said, ‘Dad, it is 10 p.m., and I’ve got so much stuff to do,’ ” Mr. Greenberg recalls. “ ‘We’re running this business, and I’ve got customers, and we are earning money, and we got financing and we have people to hire. But I have to write a paper tonight, and I just don’t have time for it.’ ”
His father advised him to pull a Mark Zuckerberg and drop out. The next day, Mr. Greenberg did just that.
Now 25, he works out of a glass-walled corner office in San Francisco. He is C.E.O. of his company, now called Sharethrough, which uses social media to distribute videos across the Web for companies. It employs 30 people and has raised about $6 million in venture capital. “It feels like a fairy tale when you look back on it,” he says of the class.
He has upgraded his lifestyle somewhat, but still doesn’t own a car. “I have a Vespa and skateboard,” he says.
“LOVE CHILD.” It sounds like an unlikely name for an app. But Johnny Hwin and his Stanford class team set out to build an app of that name, one that would let two users create and raise a virtual child. It never took off.
“We were overly ambitious,” Mr. Hwin says.
Seeing his classmates strike gold with simpler ideas proved to be a valuable lesson. In 2009, he began working on, a Facebook marketing tool that helped bands and musicians connect with fans online.
It opened last June and was acquired in January by FanBridge, where Mr. Hwin is now a vice president, for a few million dollars, he says.
Mr. Hwin, who is 26 and also a musician, now lives in a loft space in the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. He uses his place as a kind of salon for late-night art shows and concerts.
“With Love Child, we wanted it to be perfect,” he says. With Damntheradio, he found his first clients by showing mockups of the product. “We were able to launch within weeks,” he says.
Another class member, Robert Cezar Matei, says he had only modest success with his projects. One, he said, allowed users to send “cheesy pickup lines” to friends; another encouraged people to reveal something about themselves. After graduating from Stanford, he wanted to earn some money to go traveling, but instead of getting a job, he decided to write Facebook apps. “I’d seen my peers being so successful with apps,” he says. “If they could do it, I could do it.”
After a few false starts, he created an app that let people send points and “kisses” to friends. It struggled until Mr. Matei, who speaks several languages, translated the app. The next day, traffic jumped fivefold. He added games, and employees, and the app became one of the most popular Facebook programs in Europe. In late 2009, he sold to Zynga for an undisclosed sum.
Also in the class was Joshua Reeves, who built an app that created animations that Facebook members would send to one another as birthday greetings or other messages. It made enough money for him to quit his job in 2008 to start Buzzeo, a content management system for Facebook. A year ago, Buzzeo was acquired by Context Optional, where Mr. Reeves, 28, is now a vice president. Last week, Efficient Frontier, a digital marketing company, acquired Context Optional for an undisclosed sum.
ONE recent afternoon at the headquarters of in Mountain View, Calif., 10 engineers worked away as two employees turned their attention to a companywide project: a 24,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.
For much of the past year, has worked on developing its service, a social network for meeting new people, without much success. A few weeks ago, the work appeared to pay off: traffic took off, growing to nearly five million monthly users.
Mr. Baker says the Facebook platform is a magnet for young developers, even though the kind of simple apps that were the focus of his Stanford class now face bigger hurdles. Facebook has made it harder to develop big-hit apps by controlling how apps spread virally.

But Mr. Fogg, says that for those who were at the right place at the right time — in late 2007 — things were different. “There was a period of time when you could walk in and collect gold,” he says. “It was landscape that was ready to be harvested.”

>Gadgetwise - The New York Times Blog

AUGUST 30, 2010, 5:46 PM

Does Google’s Free Phone Service Work in Other Countries?

Google’s Call Phones from Gmail lets Gmail users turn their computers into telephones by talking into a built-in microphone or by attaching a headset. The service, Google said when it announced Call Phones last week, is restricted to callers in the United States. Calls within the United States and to Canada are free, and most international calls are around 2 cents a minute. If you also sign up for Google’s free Google Voice service, available only within the United States, you can also receive calls free through Google’s servers.
What if you’re not a lucky resident of the United States? Over the weekend, word spread on the Internet that at least some people outside the United States had made free calls to the United States and Canada from Gmail. According to several excited updates on Twitter, Gmail lets at least some users outside the country make calls as if they are dialing from inside the country. All they need do is make sure their Gmail account settings specify English (U.S.) rather than English (U.K.).
They can’t use Google Voice to take calls, but they can make them free, or cheaply. (To change the settings, log in to Gmail and click Settings in the upper right corner of the Gmail interface. Language is the first option at the top. Google will also prompt you to install a small voice and video chat browser add-on before you can make calls.)
A Google spokesman, Randall Sarafa, explained that for users outside the United States, or for Americans traveling abroad, Google’s free services might work, but they had not been officially introduced to other countries. To quote Google, “We launched the Call Phones from Gmail feature to U.S. users as our first step and will be rolling out additional localized versions in the future. Depending on local laws and regulations, if your account is set to U.S.-English, you might be able to access the feature in some other countries as well.”
Does it work for you, or did you get an error message? Let us know in the comments below.

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>What Goes Around Comes Around to Google

Anders Bylund

August 13, 2010

Way back in 2007, when Sun Microsystems was still a stand-alone business and Android a mere glimmer in Google‘s (Nasdaq: GOOG) eye, Sun had a problem with the way Android built on the Java software platform.

The problem was fragmentation: Android doesn’t run bog-standard Java code, but instead translates programs written for that platform into its own format, which is then executed by the Dalvik virtual machine that is the cold, robotic heart of any Android gadget. At the time, Google waved away the objections like Obi-Wan waving his droids through a storm trooper checkpoint: Android is part of the solution to Java fragmentation, not the problem — Sun should love Google for replacing Java with its own far-reaching standard. Sun never made any official stink about it again, even though Google’s reaction smelled like the insides of a dead tauntaun.

Until now, that is. Sun parent Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) is now suing Google for patent infringement, claiming that: “In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property.” Oracle is looking for treble damages (“triple” in legalese, not the other half of “treble and bass”) and wants to stop Google from shipping, selling, or promoting Android. That would certainly hurt Google.

This lawsuit was a bit of a shock to me, because I assumed that Google had made the problem go away by some sort of proactive action. But the legal complaint states in no uncertain terms that Google lacks the licenses required to use Java in this way.

This case echoes of a long-running action Sun carried out against Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) last decade over strikingly similar problems. Mr. Softy ended up paying $1 billion in damages for that one, and Oracle would probably love a settlement of that scale again.

I’m guessing here, but it would make sense for Google to settle this affair quickly and quietly — pay up a license fee for the right to use and modify the Java platform and then go on with business as usual. There is an alternative development framework available for Android programmers, based on the much more bare-metal C/C++ programming language. Going to that model exclusively would require hordes of Android developers to learn a new and arguably more difficult language. That would be a serious roadblock in the race to outgrow the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone store in application quantity.

Java has been released under an open-source license after all — excluding the mobile version. Oracle’s stock is falling harder than Google’s today. Are investors worried that Oracle alienates its own worldwide developer base here by raising thorny and nearly forgotten licensing issues? Discuss in the comments box below.

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What Goes Around Comes Around to Google (AAPL, GOOG, MSFT, ORCL)


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>Observing Ramadan? There’s an app for that


Ancient traditions of Islam go high-tech.

PATERSON, NJ — The most ancient traditions of Islam are going high-tech, with a slew of modern offerings for those observing the holy month of Ramadan, which begins this week.

Cell phone applications such as “iPray” or “iQuran” offer a beeping reminder of requisite prayer times, while the “Find Mecca” and “mosque finder” programs help the Muslim traveler in an unfamiliar city find the nearest place to pray.

“When I saw these applications for the first time, I thought: this is amazing,” said James Otun, who has several Islamic applications on his Apple iPhone and iPad. “Whoever came up with this idea: God bless him or her.”

The applications aren’t just for Ramadan; there are Islamic-themed programs that help users find the nearest Costco offering foods prepared according to Islamic dietary rules, learn the correct Arabic pronunciations in a daily prayer, or count how many pages of the Quran they’ve read that day — all on a mobile phone.

There also are applications, or apps, for the holy books of several other religions, from the Catholic Holy Bible to the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu scripture.

The first time Sumeyye Kalyoncu heard the Adhan — or call to prayer — through surround-sound speakers on her iPhone dock, she was overcome with nostalgia for her native Turkey. Such applications are especially popular in the US, Kalyoncu said, as US mosques do not broadcast daily calls to prayer from external loudspeakers, as they do in Muslim countries.

“These are traditions and these have been in our lives for ages, like almost 15 centuries, so they seem very old,” Kalyoncu said. “I think this is like combining together the technology and the things that we do daily.”

Kalyoncu uses an iPhone app called iPray Lite, keeping track of requisite daily prayers with a program that simulates the clicking sound of prayer beads or the turning wheel of a handheld metal counter Muslims use to keep count of prayer repetitions. Using headphones, the 24-year-old says she can now fulfill her daily spiritual obligations by counting prayers on her iPhone on the commuter bus to Manhattan from her Edgewater home.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the company doesn’t track the more than 225,000 apps for its phones by category so she doesn’t know how many are Islamic-themed. The programs aren’t just offered by Apple; Nokia has a Ramadan suite for its cell phones that consolidates everything worshippers need to know to observe Islam’s holiest month, in which Muslims worldwide observe daily daylight fasting.

 Some apps are free. Those that are not generally range from about 99 cents to $2.99, although some are more expensive.

The dates of Ramadan still are determined by the lunar calendar, and calculations can differ among Islamic communities around the world. In North America, many Muslims will mark the first day of Ramadan on Wednesday.

Otun, a technology aficionado, says the apps he uses on his iPhone and iPad make him a more observant Muslim. From the beeping reminder to stop and pray during his busy schedule running a limo service, to an app that tells him which nearby restaurants serve food prepared within Islamic guidelines, Otun says there’s no longer an excuse to live an unobservant life.

“If you forgot to pray, you might not be responsible, because you’re human; you forget and you can make it up later,” said Otun, 35. “But not now that you have those apps, that might change things in God’s level.”

 Otun’s favorite application, called Find Mecca, is a compass-like program with an electronic indicator that changes from red to green when you’ve reached the requisite prayer angle of 58-degrees, Northeast, to ensure you’re facing Mecca from any location — a requirement of all Muslims when praying.

Otun said he was amazed to see an image of Mecca on his cell phone screen for the first time, and to realize he could carry a library of religious texts with him everywhere.

 “iPhone makes you emotional,” he said. “I can’t carry 10,000 pages of books, now, you have it in your phone — it’s priceless.”

>Today TechCrunch put out an article asking “Did the iPad Preemptively Kill the US Tablet Market?” And I feel compelled to respond with a resounding “I hope not!”

I am the consummate early adopter of technology and already have a Mac Pro and until recently had an iBook laptop (ole trusty finally broke down after 4 years of aggressive use). For quite some time I have loved Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), as both an electronic innovator and a stock.

I had been eagerly anticipating the iPad’s release, as its announcement perfectly coincided with the untimely death of my aforementioned iBook. In anticipation of the release, I decided to pass on the Barnes and Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook I had won in a charity poker tournament and even bought the Western Digital My Book World 2 Terrabyte wireless external hard drive as my future data storage hub.

What I expected was a device that could function as a computer itself. Not something to complement my existing computing capacity. No. I wanted a tablet that could do everything that my iBook could do. When Apple announced the iPad in late January, I was instantly disappointed. My initial impression was that Apple’s goal was to create a pretty awesome tablet, while simultaneously preserving its capacity to upsell new Apple adopters to the Mac line of computers. Awesome alone didn’t cut it for me.

Clearly many consumers did not share my disappointment, as sales have soared past most expectations. However, that does not change the fact that there is significant room for improvement in the tablet market. Without further ado, here are the 5 things the next generation iPad must address to turn me into an eager buyer:

5. The lack of open source software.
This has been cited a problem for Apple since the early days of the company. While the Internet has helped eliminate some of the questions about software access for computing, the apps market is a feature attraction of the new mobile computing market. Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android has opened itself up to anyone to build an app, whereas Apple has set barriers to entry for its market. This has been a major factor in Google’s increasing momentum in the smart phone market and has the potential to do even more damage when it comes to Tablet Computing.

4. No changeable battery.
This has been an area in which Apple has fallen short for some time now. The iPad, like the iPod does not have a replaceable battery. While this isn’t much of a hurdle for a music device, for a computing device the story is quite different. There are numerous reasons why one would want the ability to quickly and easily insert a new battery in a “computer replacement” product. It’s far easier to go a day or two without an iPod than it is an iPad.

3. There is no scalability to the hardware.
To someone who wants more RAM on their iPad, Apple said: “no, not an option.” To someone who wants more hard drive space, Apple again said “no, not an option.” Considering how standard the SD card has become, why is it that Apple couldn’t build that capability into the iPad? There are now super-sized SD cards available for all sorts of portable technology, yet the iPad, which aims to be the most important tool in an individual’s mobile electronics arsenal, falls short of impressing. To be a true computer replacement there needs to be some kind of user-friendly scalability. Adding an SD card is simply too easy to pass up on.

2. There’s no USB drive.
Many people run third party hardware through their computer. Some may want a USB mouse, others may want to connect their digital camera to their computer for uploading pictures. Sure the future is in wireless transfers, but right now USB is an important reality for computing. There are countless reasons why someone might want that kind of access, yet the iPad has not a single USB port at all. USB is such a ubiquitous technology across electronic platforms that it’s even included in most new HDTVs as a standard feature, but not the iPad!

1. The inability of the iPad to function independently of a computer.
In many ways, number 1 is the culmination of all the previous critiques. The thing is, in aggregate, the iPad cannot replace a computer, it can only work along side it. Sure there are plenty of uses for the iPad independent of a computer, but in reality, it’s capabilities have been limited by Apple as a company making a conscious choice to limit it. Should Apple preclude competition from entering the iPad market, then they would have great authority in maintaining these limitations; however, should innovative competition emerge, the pressure on Apple would increase substantially to improve their own product (just see the DRM debate).

Disclosure: Long AAPL, GOOG

5 Things the Next Generation Apple (AAPL) iPad Must Address | Wall St. Cheat Sheet

A sleek looking iPad.

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