Stories for Apr. 21, 2014
On The Web

The New York Times Bits blog reports on the close of InBloom, a database for student data that became a privacy lightning rod. On the one hand, it’s a great idea: there’s a lot that educators and researchers could learn from analyzing this type of data across regions, demographics, etc. On the other hand, it’s probably not a wise idea to connect students’ names with sensitive or personal information. Objectivity is key, too. You’d like to measure attributes in a way that doesn’t lend itself to educators’ biases and reinforcement of stereotypes.

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In Brief

Beats Music, the newly-launched music subscription service spearheaded by Jimmy Iovine, is in the midst of raising another $60 million to $100 million in funding, according to a Billboard report that notes that the company spent tens of millions on advertising, including its Super Bowl TV spot. However, a Beats Music spokesperson denied those claims, sending us the following statement via email: “Beats Music is not in any active process of raising more funding.” Billboard also reported that some in the music industry are disappointed by Beats Music’s uptake, while insiders unsurprisingly say that first numbers exceeded expectations.

Updated at 10:48am with a statement from Beats Music.

In Brief

Ecommerce startup Birchbox, which specializes in subscriptions to monthly beauty kits, announced Monday that it raised a $60 million Series B round, led by Viking Global Investors and including existing investors such as First Round Capital and Accel Partners. The company said that it would use the funds “to continue to tell its story through marketing initiatives, refine its mobile application, fortify Birchbox Man and develop its team worldwide.” According to Fortune, the new round gives the company a $485 million valuation, which prompted a “no comment” from Birchbox.

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Instead of a paywall around its existing content, Slate is trying to convince its biggest fans to become members of a community — membership that will bring them additional benefits, including preferential access to writers and editors at the site. But will it be enough to move the revenue needle? Read more »

In Brief

Since 2012, people have been 3D printing robotic hands for those in need through projects like e-NABLE and Robohand. Fifty-three-year-old Jose Delgado, Jr. recently swapped out his $42,000 prosthetic arm for a 3D printed one derived from Robohand and found it actually helped him accomplish more. Materials for the hand cost $26.14, but 3D Universe founding partner Jeremy Simon plans to offer kits for $50 to cut down on initial investment costs. He recently posted an interview with Delgado, along with a video of Delgado’s thoughts:

In Brief

First generation Apple TVs have lost their ability to connect to iTunes, according to a 25-page-long thread on Apple’s support forum. Users report they cannot connect to the iTunes store to download or stream movies, TV shows and podcasts, although most internet functions, such as Youtube, are working. The issue appears to be widespread and worldwide, implying an issue on Apple’s backend. Users first noticed the issue last Thursday. Apple has yet to state whether this is a temporary glitch or an intentional change to functionality. The first generation Apple TV was released in 2007 and sold until 2010. The glitch does not affect the second or third generation models.

 

Stories for Apr. 20, 2014
Stories for Apr. 19, 2014

The Structure Show 2014

ICYMI: On this week’s Structure Show, the OpenStack Foundation’s Mark Collier and Jonathan Bryce take us through the Icehouse release and why we shouldn’t get our knickers in a bunch re. the Solum PaaS project. Read more »

Stories for Apr. 18, 2014
In Brief

Nike has let go most of the members of its FuelBand wearables unit and will stop developing new versions of the device, according to a report by CNET. The tech news site quoted an unnamed person “familiar with the matter” as saying that the firm has laid off 70 to 80 percent of its 70-person hardware division and will not produce a new version of the FuelBand, but will continue to sell the existing version. Some industry observers believe Nike has decided to align itself with Apple, which is expected to launch an iWatch or other wearable device that might run Nike’s Fuel software. Apple CEO Tim Cook is a member of Nike’s board.

In Brief

On Friday, social network and recruiting site LinkedIn announced via blog post that it had officially surpassed 300 million members, with 100 million members based in the U.S. alone. Acquiring roughly 100 million users since January 2013, the company noted that much of the growth in traffic has come from two areas: internationally and on mobile. LinkedIn stressed that it was on the verge of its “mobile moment,” meaning that sometime in 2014, mobile use will actually surpass desktop traffic. Both feed directly into each other — apparently mobile accounts for more than 50 percent of LinkedIn’s international traffic already. But the company conveniently side-steps any stats related to Monthly Active Users, perhaps a sign that the company is still trying to make its platform a daily destination.

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