On Friday afternoon, we had some fun with the Yo API. We wanted to build a program to trigger actions whenever someone sent us a Yo.
From this basic idea, I actually spent a large part of my weekend writing a distributed version, and I had a lot of fun connecting the Yo API with other services (like the Mailjet API to send an email each time someone Yo’ed an account).
While playing around with the API, we also wondered why we were attracted to it in the first place. Having a closer look, we discovered that it has great lessons to teach us!
Yo is still in its infancy but they are moving fast, in a very pragmatic way.
A few weeks ago, you had no way of logging into your account again if you logged out because of a missing password. To get access to the API, you had to wait for a few days. But from the beginning, they knew that their API had a large role to play in their success!
Two weeks ago the only endpoint available was “yoall,” to broadcast a Yo to all the subscribers of an account, without reasonable rate limits.
One week ago, they launched their API dashboard, to create and manage API accounts. They also added some rate limiting (currently one call per minute), to reduce spam.
The API is like the product: simple. For now, all you can do is Yo all your subscribers (“yoall” endpoint) or an individual account (“yo” endpoint) along with getting the subscriber count (“subscribers_count” endpoint).
This simplicity lets people use the API in seconds: a simple call with cURL gives you instant feedback. It should always be that simple!
Providing clean documentation about what your API can do and how to start using it will always be rewarded by developers.
It you think about the Yo API which is still really simple (two endpoints, one parameter: the API token) they still took the time to document it and make this documentation easily accessible from the API dashboard.
Building simple things doesn’t mean you can’t offer great opportunities, and the guys behind Yo understood this! To succeed, you also need to give context to people to inspire them to create new things.
They organised a hackathon in SF two weeks ago, taking advantage of the momentum their launch has created.
Afterwards, they did a great follow-up blog post featuring all of the great ideas that were developed during the event. Featuring these projects was a great way for people who did not attend to see the opportunities that the product has to offer.
When I read this blog post, it really struck me just how many possibilities there are for building with their API. For example, the BASKETBALLBERRY project featured in the article was a source of great inspiration for me to write this client, one that sends me a Yo if my train is on time according to its schedule.
Always make it easy for developers to show you what they’ve built with your product. That’s always invaluable.
The Yo API is really straightforward, but it opens endless possibilities. The guys behind it did a great job of making developers’ lives really easy by helping them build amazing things with it.
What are your thoughts of integrating Yo in a larger context? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Read the original here: What we can learn from the Yo API
If you’ve seen a bright orange Volkswagen Type 2 labeled “Hashtack 2.0″ recently, you’ve spotted Jeremy Greenfield who has been living and moving around the country in it for the past few months trying to raise awareness for his app and get investors to back him.
Hashtack, a startup that pitched at the Seattle TechCrunch meetup this year, is a photo- and video-sharing app that brings together Facebook, Instagram and Twitter into one medium. Users can like, comment and zoom into pictures, as well as repost them, or as Greenfield says, “retack” them.
Instagram has a problem where users screenshot posts by other users and upload those photos by themselves, without the original poster’s knowledge. One way Greenfield says Hashtack tackles this is by allowing users to easily “retack” a photo they like, while also loading any descriptions and the name of the original uploader. It also applies a faint watermark to the image to show that it isn’t an original post.
Yet since users can also save videos and photos by just pressing down on them, you can upload the content by yourself and still pass it off of your own. But Greenfield says Hashtack makes the whole process easier to incentivize users from reposting other people’s photos without giving credit.
Hashtack also allows you to create your custom hashtag stream. So if you create the stream #WorldCup, you will be able to view any photo or video using that hashtag.
And this is where Greenfield says he is trying market the app. He believes the app is great for the average user, but becomes a lot more powerful in the hands of social media managers, content creators, community managers and small business owners.
This makes it easier for companies to respond to users who are engaging with them, and a company “retacking” a users post could build brand loyalty.
Hashtack is opening its first round of funding. Up until now, the project has been personally funded by Greenfield. The product was originally called Divyy, but was rebranded and released as Hashtack in March. Version 2.0 was released last month.
The app is available on iOS and an Android app is on its way.
IMAGE BY Hashtack (IMAGE HAS BEEN MODIFIED)
See the rest here: Hashtack Combines Photos From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Into One App
Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg has admitted that a week-long psychological experiment affecting almost 700,000 unaware users was “poorly communicated.”
As the Wall Street Journal reports, the company executive said:
“This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated. And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.”
The controversial tests came to light through a research paper. Led by data scientist Adam Kramer, a team of researchers altered the News Feed algorithm to show 689,003 users a larger percentage of either positive or negative content. To be clear, these were unaltered posts from people in their network – the company simply altered which posts appeared first in the News Feed.
Facebook discovered that users’ posts were influenced by those shown to them in their News Feed. Those who saw positive content were, on average, more positive and less negative with their Facebook activity in the days that followed. The reverse was also true for those who were tested with a larger percentage of negative posts in their News Feed.
Researchers are now questioning whether Facebook breached ethical guidelines around informed consent. Kramer has also posted on Facebook to apologize and explain why the study was conducted without users’ knowledge.
“We felt that it was important to investigate the common worry that seeing friends post positive content leads to people feeling negative or left out,” he said. “At the same time, we were concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook.”
He added: “I can understand why some people have concerns about it, and my co-authors and I are very sorry for the way the paper described the research and any anxiety it caused.”
Featured image credit: Ramin Talaie/Getty Images
Yahoo’s spring cleanings have extended into the summer months, the company announced today, detailing a series of product changes and closures, many of which are nearly obsolete, obscure, or just unpopular. But among the more high-profile of these closures is Yahoo acquisition Xobni, the maker of smart email and contacts management apps that were acquired last summer.
At the time of the acquisition announcement, Yahoo said people using Xobni’s products would be able to continue to do so “indefinitely.” However, in today’s post, the company points to a FAQ on the Xobni website, implying that the product’s total shutdown was previously announced. That may confuse the handful of remaining Xobni users who may have thought that as long as they had the Xobni Smartr app installed, for instance, it would continue to work even though it was no longer being actively developed or supported.
But according to this new post, today is Xobni’s last day.
Yahoo buys then kills a startup? That’s not really news, I suppose. And at least Xobni’s complete and total death was held off for a full year.
Other products getting the boot (or that already got the boot and you didn’t notice!) include a virtual makeover tool called Newlook, Yahoo Finance’s “research reports” feature, Bookmarks.yahoo.com, Yahoo People Search (bundled into Yahoo Search), Yahoo Toolbar on Chrome (replaced by Yahoo’s Chrome extension), Yahoo Shine (replaced by new magazines, Yahoo Beauty and Travel), Yahoo Voices, and the Yahoo Contributor Network. The last four in that list have yet to close, with the Toolbar dying off on July 22, while the remaining products will live until the end of the month.
It’s not surprising for Yahoo to cut its non-performing products, as the company is trying to “further its focus” on core experiences – Search, Communications, Digital Magazines and Video – as it says today. This is also not the first time Yahoo has made the decision to eliminate items from its overly large lineup – it did the same in March and April 2013, today’s announcement also notes.
Now its found its way onto the most elusive and coveted platform of all: some dude’s chest.
In honor of Tetris’ 30th anniversary, tinkerer Mark Kerger grabbed 128 LEDs, a fistful of batteries and an Arduino Uno, and crammed ‘em all together inside of a plain white tee.
The end result: Tetris. On his T-shirt. Tee-tris? Chestris?
Note: since the above video is muted, I’ve embedded the song you probably wanted to hear down below. I’ve also embedded Smooth McGroove’s a cappella version below that, because any day I get to put a Smooth McGroove video in a post is a good day:
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “the tech industry”? For many people, it’s a bunch of company or brand names, like Facebook and Microsoft. Maybe a couple of key identifying people come to mind, like Mark Zuckerberg wearing a hoodie or Sergey Brin walking about in Google Glass.
But the actual tech industry is comprised of the thousands of people who work every day in roles beyond the most high profile CEOs — the programmers, the designers, the product leads. I love working on our Cribs and Inside Jobs series, because they help shine a light on those stories. And a new network of blogs called “Hackers Of” does a beautiful job of it as well.
Hackers Of debuted earlier this year with Hackers of NY and has since spread to include Hackers of Silicon Valley, Hackers of LA, and Hackers of London, with sites for Chicago and Seattle on the way. It was all started by Dani Grant, a recent graduate of NYU who majored in computer programming. Grant now helms the Hackers of Silicon Valley site, with the other cities being covered by other tech writers.
The Hackers Of sites are simple, but powerful: Each post provides a full “snapshot” of someone who works in the tech industry, featuring a beautifully shot photograph and a short pull quote from an interview (the featured image above is from Hackers Of NY’s post about front end developer Alexandra Qin.) Often the quotes focus on programming and the projects they’re working on, but they also get into personal philosophies and motivations, work habits, and more.
They’re the kind of blogs that keep you scrolling through to read entry after entry, and make you bummed when you reach the end.
In an email, Grant told me that she started the site to get a wider network of people interested in programming. “I thought, the best way to get people to hack is by celebrating the hackers.” In a personal blog post last week, Grant elaborated on that thought:
“… In computer science, we are tasked with solving problems not just with any solution, but with the most efficient solution. In open source, the problems we solve for ourselves, we solve for the rest of the developer community. Hackers are superheroes to one another.
This is so empowering, even outside the scope of tech. What could I do to give this optimism to others, to get people hacking?
I taught an introductory coding class at school, but that wasn’t really the solution I was looking for. I wanted a way to celebrate hackers. When code is pushed, it ships without a face. If I wanted to get people excited about hacking, I had to bring back those faces.”
Overall, Hackers Of is a straightforward idea that comes from a positive place, and it’s being executed quite well. That’s how the best things in tech often start, right?
Read the rest here: Meet The Real Hackers Of Silicon Valley (And NYC, LA, And London)
To the surprise of some, Opera has released a new version of its Web browser for Linux-based operating systems.
Available to download now, the last new version of Opera for Linux was version 12.16 from around a year ago, which doesn’t include a lot of the newer features seen on other platforms. Opera stopped updating the Linux build when it abandoned its own rendering engine and browser stack in favor of Chromium. Now, a Chromium-based Opera 24 is available to download for developers.
The company said in a blog post that it had been testing the new build exclusively on 64-bit Ubuntu Linux running the Unity or Gnome Shell. Although it could work on other Linux systems, support isn’t guaranteed.
View original post here: Opera’s Chromium-based Web browser is now available on Linux
Update: This is a video that’s been shared throughout the Internet purporting to show a concerted DDOS attack coming mainly from China and concentrated on United States internet servers on the day that Facebook’s service was down for many users worldwide.
We’ve looked into this further, however, and it turns out this attack bore no relation to Facebook’s outage on Thursday. For one thing, we’re told the time stamps don’t square up quite correctly. We’ve updated this post’s headline to make that completely clear. Meanwhile, Facebook says its initial statement that the outage was due to an internal software configuration error still stands.
So, as action-packed as it is, the video above was just another of the many global DDOS attacks that regularly occur in cyberland (showing why companies like Facebook have had to erect top-notch security teams for constant protection.) Technology companies large and small are increasingly targets for such attacks — as more people come online, the potential for havoc gets larger.
Update 2: And now, the video has been pulled from YouTube for violating the site’s policy against “spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content” (the title of the video said the attack caused the Facebook outage.) You can still see a blip of the video in the screenshot embedded in this post.
Original post: This past Thursday, a number of Facebook users worldwide were unable to access the social networking site worldwide for about a half an hour. Such an outage is big news for as large a site as Facebook, and at the time, the company acknowledged the event with a short statement that attributed it to a software configuration that had been enacted before the outage.
According to footage posted by a YouTube user called Tournaments Replays that was allegedly pulled from Norse, a security intelligence company that monitors cyber attacks in real time, there appears to have been a large distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack coming mainly from China and concentrated on United States internet servers on the day that Facebook’s service was down for many users worldwide. Video of the alleged attack is embedded above.
See the original post here: This Video Shows A Day In The Life Of DDOS Cyber Attacks
The ability to identify someone is one of the biggest issues of the modern world. It’s wrapped up in everything from your Facebook profile to your application for a new passport. And digital identity is core to this.
In the US Jumio (funded by Andreeeseen Horowitz among others) offers automated ID verification via scanning the ID card, which just goes to show how important major investors think this space is.
Applying for an account, investment portfolio, loan or other financial product is pretty hard online. In most cases it requires a trip to a bank post office to verify your ID. High security ID verification is generally pretty tedious.
And it’s not just a nice-to-have. Banks must verify ID, either for anti-fraud or for anti money-laundering requirements. Usually people have to snail mail, fax or photocopy their IDs.
In other words the the area is ripe for startups – but it’s a high barrier to entry.
Coming out of Munich, the latest to join the fray is IDnow. This lets consumers verify their identity online, using their smartphone, tablet or webcam via image recognition of their ID document – like an ID card.
This is the first startup to come out of JET A (that’s the code name for jet airplane fuel), the holding company set up by Felix Haas (former founder of Amiando) who is co-founder and executive chairman of IDnow.
So here’s how IDNow works.
First you take a photo of your ID document.
An IDNow app uses the flash light of your smartphone to illuminate the official government ID and its hologram. The hologram reflect in the flash light and IDNow measures these reflections to verify that it’s an official government ID.
IDnow’s patented image recognition software then compares the person against the document it’s scanned. (All current international ID documents are supported). Next, an IDnow ID verification expert reviews the documentation via video chat.
Both financial product provider and customer are informed immediately of the results and the data is processed only on the consumer’s devices. (This setup satisfies Germany’s stringent privacy protection standards, so it could well be rolled out internationally).
This all only takes 1-2 minutes. The combination of IDnow technology and manual review means fewer mistakes in the whole process.
This is what the company has patent protected, and what sets it apart from Jumio. And, crucially, this level of security is what is required by European regulators.
Haas hopes the system will replace germany’s long held ‘PostIdent’ process, performed at Germany’s many post offices. IDnow is currently being trialled at some unnamed finance companies in Germany.
But what’s the kicker?
Because it complies with German and EU-wide regulations, IDNow can charge between 7-8 Euros per identification, whereas Jumio can only charge $1-2 for their non-regulated US solution.
Scale that up and you have a quite and interesting proposition going forward.
This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, one of the most controversial events in Chinese history. China doesn’t acknowledge the event, and is known for clamping down on the internet in the run up to the June 4 anniversary — this year it appears to have disrupted multiple Google services in the country.
TNW has spoken to China-based users and seen screenshots which show Google Maps, Google’s search engine, Google Translate, Gmail and other services failing to operate in China, in line with a report from GreatFire, an organization that keeps watch of internet censorship in China. GreatFire claims in a blog post that “all Google services” have been disrupted for the past four days, but the issues are more severe today.
Google’s own transparency report suggests that traffic from Google services has been sluggish in the country since June 1, hinting that something is going on behind the scenes. When reached for comment, however, a Google spokesperson told TNW: “We’ve checked extensively and there’s nothing wrong on our end.”
Google relocated its search engine to Hong Kong from China in 2010, following allegations that the government had hacked into Gmail accounts belonging to prominent activists. Yet, despite its absence, Google services are regularly a target for the government.
China clamped down on all Google services in the country ahead of and during the Communist Party of China’s 18th Party Congress in November 2012, while Gmail was blocked in March 2011 following the threat of rallies inspired by protests in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Tiananmen Square anniversary is a hugely symbolic incident which always draws the attention of Chinese censors. In the run up to the event, restrictions are typically tighter on microblogging services like Weibo, while Foursquare was banned back in 2010 for suspicion around a large number of check-ins at the square itself.
There is some reprieve for internet users in China, since GreatFire is offering a version of Google’s search engine that it believes could withstand China’s censorship might. This version is hosted on Amazon servers — you can find it here – and the organization believes it offers hope for beating the censors.
The idea behind the approach — which the organization calls ‘collateral freedom’ — is that the Chinese government would need to block Amazon’s entire hosting business in order to make the mirrored Google search page unavailable in China. GreatFire believes that the government wouldn’t take such a bold step, and that this approach can help other websites and companies that have gone dark in China become available for internet users once again.
The company says that there are plenty of other hosting services that encrypt their content and could be used to host mirrors. So, were its hosting with Amazon to fail, it could turn elsewhere.
GreatFire believes that its approach could easily be expanded upon by Google, which has access to a range of technologies to avoid Chinese censorship.
“There are steps that Google can take to combat this censorship, which they currently choose not to,” GreatFire wrote in a blog post. “Google can tunnel through other undisrupted Content Delivery Network services to evade the block. Google can also add censorship evading functions through its popular web browser Chrome. At the moment, even the start page of Chrome will not load in China. But Google can tweak Chrome’s code to bypass censorship.”
We expect that Google services will return to relative normality after June 4, though it appears that Google is happier to stay out of proceedings in the lead up to the anniversary this year. We’ll update this post with further details as we’re aware of them.
Image via Digital Paws Inc. / Thinkstock