Category Archives: News

Facebook Acquires WhatsApp for a Whopping $19B


Probably one of the most hostile takeovers of our time, Facebook has acquired its rival WhatsApp. In terms of value creation, this is the biggest on record.

Sequoia Capital reportedly invested only $8 million back in 2011 in WhatsApp and no additional funding was announced after that. This initial investment has thus turned out to be a huge payoff. Sources say that Sequoia has between 10-20 percent ownership of WhatsApp and if this turns out to be true, they will be looking at about $3.2 billion in cash and stock.

Why WhatsApp?

Facebook currently has over 1.25 billion users and the acquisition of this popular messaging app, which is on a path to connect 1 billion people,  will only mean more control over how the word is connected.  WhatsApp currently has over 450 million active users making it larger than Twitter and LinkedIn. WhatsApp is growing by 1 million new accounts per day. It has been able to penetrate a market that Facebook has not been able to in developing countries, places where mobile take up is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, “the growth rate they have today and the monetization that’s early but promising and in place, we see a clear trajectory ahead and are excited to work together on this.”

WhatsApp is a free service that does not have any ads. Users however are charged $0.99 after a year of use. This yearly subscription will likely remain while still leaving out advertisements based on an announcement by the founders, Jan and Koum, former Yahoo engineers.

Zuckerberg has compared WhatsApp acquisition to that of Instagram, which means that it will continue to operate independently.

What do you think? Is WhatsApp worth $19 billion?

What are the Long-Term Effects of Electronics?

controllerAs more and more generations learn to use computers, phones, and GPSs from a young age, the population is beginning to see an array of negative medical results. With electronics around every corner and the ability to access them at virtually any time of the day, more and more are seeing the onset of technology-educed pain and disorders. No more are older folks catching their first glimpse of carpal tunnel after retirement, and the same goes for hunched backs and vision issues. Now it’s happing as young as one’s teens and early 20s.

However, as trends continue to progress, those ages may actually decrease. Schools now regularly include computers and tablets into their lessons, and items are coming with kid-friendly apps and accessories. Because kids are introduced to more electronics younger and younger, the side effects will only continue to increase.

The Effects

From minor aches and pains to diagnoses that require serious treatment, new and existing issues are steep a strict increase. And of course, the treatment depends on the cause. For instance, those who spend multiple hours typing or fidgeting with controllers each day are wearing wrist braces, doing arm stretches, or seeing chiropractors or physical therapists to try and reverse these effects. However, depending on the sheer number of hours spent in a static location, the typers may experience carpal tunnel, arthritis, shoulder and back pain, or even numbness throughout the arms.

Another growing condition is that of “Gameboy back,” caused from excessive hunching. Often seen in teenage boys who play video games on a regular basis, this condition can affect one’s posture, cause pain, and even bring tension within the muscles. Items like specialized chairs or being aware of how one sits can greatly reduce the chance of “Gameboy back” taking root by creating an ergonomic environment.

Other electronic-related injuries include headaches, neck pains, and eyesight issues, which occur from reading too-small text on bright screens. Regular phone or tablet readers have reported cases of obstructed eyesight, to damaged retinas, caused from reading excessively in the dark.

From aches and pains to more serious conditions, electronic devices are causing medical issues in their most frequent users. To avoid falling victim, be sure to take the proper precautions before logging in for long periods at a time. Or, if you’re already experiencing technology-induced conditions, talk to your doctor to find an effective treatment regimen.

10 Facts You Need to Know About Netflix

netflix logoIn its short lifespan, the entertainment mogul, Netflix, has been able to accomplish a great deal. They’ve twice drug themselves out from the doldrums, created their very own type of entertainment viewing platform, and now the company even accounts for a large portion of online traffic.

In the process of creating this well-loved monster, they’ve reunited (or introduced) customers with thousands of films and TV shows. Without it we wouldn’t have terms like “Netflix bomb,” we might never know what it’s like to finish an entire season in two days, and there may never have been a House of Cards.

So, what makes this rental company stand out from the competition?

10. Netflix has nearly 30 million customers.

As of mid-2013, stats sat at 29.2 million subscribers and/or renters. That’s more people who live in the entire state of Texas.

9. Half of users stream via a game console.

While the other half is used by smartphones (6%), tablets, computers (42%), computers hooked to TVs (14%), smart TVs, and Internet-capable DVD players.

8. As much as 30% of Internet traffic in the U.S. can be attributed to Netflix.

7. Netflix turned 16 last year.

Though it wasn’t on consumer radars until early 2000s, the company was founded back in 1997.

6. Customers can sign up for streaming internationally.

Including North and South America, the Caribbean, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Northern Europe, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. However, DVD rental is only available in the U.S. (likely due to storage center fees and compliance of pre-marked postage envelopes.)

5. There are 58 Netflix distribution centers for DVDs, the locations of which are top-secret.

Employees are even sworn to secrecy (and probably the U.S. Postal Service).

4. Netflix’s DVD rental side accounts for 35% of all disc-rental expenditures.

3. The Average customers spends two hours streaming each day.

2. Only 36% of users view both TV shows and movies via their streaming/rental account.

1. Netflix made $1 billion in the first quarter of 2013, $3 million of which was profit.

Not bad for a company that almost split services just two years ago.

From subscribers to titles on hand, it’s safe to say that Netflix has some impressive stats. Whether you’ve jumped on the bandwagon or are standing safely on the sidelines, they’re continuing to take on the way we watch TV single-handedly.

The Next Gmail Change: Pictures Shown Automatically Via Email

gmailFor anyone with a Gmail account, you know just how annoying it can be when, every time you log in, you’re asked which senders can and can’t show their pictures (whether attached or embedded). A feature since the mogul’s begging, this practice is still in effect years after ongoing overhauls. They’ve changed their look, opted for a new way to write emails (in the bottom of the page, so that one can still view previous messages), and created a labeling system to better point out spam and phishing schemes.

Not to mention the change from Google Talk to Hangouts, and Docs to Drive. And just as we get used to a new set of features, it’s as though they’re throwing over the next round of email accessories.

Next on their list? Automatically displaying pictures in every email – even without the user’s permission. With all the new security features put into place, Google is able to identify spam (for the most part) before it even hits the inbox. So to bank on these growing features, they thought they’d save us a few steps. No more picture approval, just email opening and a visual aspect that’s waiting to be seen.

Why the Change is Long Overdue

When was the last time you were given the option to display pictures from an email you didn’t want? (Or at least didn’t know the sender?) Half the time, it’s the display that lets us know whether or not the email is worthy in the first place. Yet, time and time again, we’re forced to click our link of approval, just to see whether or not the mail is legit.

Besides, even if there was spam sending us photos – how would it harm our computer? If anything, it’s acting as a “spam flag” alerting us all the quicker that questionable content is in the mix. With the added step taken out, we can more quickly identify crap emails and get them reported to the proper authorities.

Why there’s no telling why Google – the Internet king – waited so long to make this ancient change, it’s high time we take advantage of its new feature. Whether looking for spam, cleaning out an inbox, or searching for legitimate content, the upgrade offers a new realm of freedom.

Look to your inbox for this and more upcoming changes in your Gmail account.

Sputnik, a state-controlled search engine to compete against Yandex and Google

The Sputnik search engine, which is expected to launch anytime in 2014, will be the latest entrant into the search engines list. According to Mashable, Sputnik will be a state-controlled search engine under the Rostelecom telecom service and will be competing directly with the local search giant, Yandex, and Google.


Despite the late entry into this area, many local search engines outside of the United States control a large portion of search traffic. Yandex, for example, generates 62 percent of search in Russia with Google at number two with 25 percent. Search targeting beyond Google is thus an important marketing goal for midsize companies looking to reach more potential customers.

Giving Search Priority

Senior IT executives with search engine experience are well aware that search traffic contributes to smarter commerce. In most cases, such traffic is targeted and has a good chance of conversion. In the case of the Sputnik search engine, the goal is to target ordinary web users at the level of competition with no filtering of objectionable content. IT search professionals can take into consideration these new ways of reaching a new demographics through targeted searches that are bound to show up based on locations or search terms used.

Search traffic offers very targeted leads; people who are looking for a certain product or service with a view to making a purchase. These visitors are usually in a buying mode and having a focused marketing method through search optimization is bound to deliver. By ensuring that content posted on the company website or other online resource is optimized for these search engines, the likelihood of these new entrants picking up this content is drastically improved.

A New Search Avenue Means No Competition

Since the Sputnik search engine is a new entrant, it offers a level playing ground for any brand, organization or entity getting started into search. This is a great opportunity to get some real estate on search and promote brands while offering them the same level of viewership as other established brands. IT executives that are looking to get their feet wet into search are now in a position to onboard and reap real and immediate benefits from search.

In addition, new entrants like Sputnik can offer small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) a new approach to search with nothing to lose. For these midsize enterprises who are likewise new to search, they can go in with everything to gain.

Cell phone use may be allowed on airplanes, says FCC

phone on planeNow that flyers of all destinations can enjoy their virtual books through turbulence, landing, and even the seatbelt speech (though, for everyone’s sake, they shouldn’t), travelers are on the verge of one more flight-changing decision.

Just a few weeks after the announcement that eReaders are now safe for airplanes – from start to finish – comes the possibility of one more technology making the cut. The Federal Communications Commission now says cell phone usage just may be the next item allowed on flights, in every step of the process. Whether this comes after receiving a high amount of praise for the addition of eReaders, or has long been a process in the works, it’s obvious that flight regulations are steadily changing to keep up with growing technology.

But that doesn’t mean the public is happy about it. Just hours after the announcement, news sources such as CNN and the Huffington Post began running opinion articles about the proposed new law. The latter even went as far as to include a poll. The results show that nearly half (49%) of flyers aren’t on board with the switch, while 20% were undecided. That leaves just 31% wishing to make calls in-flight … if it’s deemed safe, that is. In addition, 63% said they would want texting to be allowed, with 22% opposing that as well.

What the Law Could Mean

It’s easy to see why many would oppose this law – planes are crowded enough. With the addition of cell phones, those we’re packed next to could be jabbering the entire time. Hopefully fellow travelers wouldn’t be that rude, but anyone who has ever sat next to a less than desirable seatmate knows that, unfortunately, that isn’t the case. And how would such cases be handled? There is nowhere for annoyed travelers to go; they must simply sit and wait it out. At least, as is, everyone is in the same boat – which is to say without the ability to chat mid-flight.

While there’s no decision as of yet, news sources and frequent flyers alike are making their opinions known on the possible addition of cell phone usage to flights. Whether undecided or strongly against, it seems as though the majority is voting for a veto, even before the law is put into place.

For more information on the upcoming FCC in-flight changes, head to their website at

The Latest on Amazon’s Drone Delivery System

droneAfter crushing the competition and creating a new standard of online shopping, mogul retail company Amazon continues to reach new heights. To keep up with their growing sales demand (and to cut back on delivery costs), the company announced it’s looking to drones, a flying delivery device. Rather than a delivery truck stopping from house to house, these small drones carry each package, cutting back on labor, manpower, and transportation resources. Money saved by Amazon, and quicker deliveries for customers – a win-win.

But drones? The devices, which will be known as Amazon Prime Air, are the same flying robot-types used in the military, only less deadly and programed to stop at your front door. Sure it’s creepy, but is it all that inefficient? Packages will likely show up quicker, a giant truck didn’t have to travel miles to deliver a single package, and no more awkward greetings from the delivery guys.

The Timeline

In theory, one could order a package and have it delivered to their door by these robotic devices. The technology is there, all it needs is a shove (and the equipment) to get it going. Legally, however, the plan is a different story. Unmanned aircraft systems – or UAS – are illegal for commercial use. The FAA currently hosts a universal ban across the country.

Thankfully for Amazon, it doesn’t look to stay that way. Just a few weeks ago, the FAA released its plan for allowing UAS for commercial use. By September of 2015, their laws must be put into place, which is a legally bound deadline. In theory, that leaves the world less than two years of computer-delivered goods. And considering those UAS rules apply to all businesses, other companies could enlist their help as well. Pizza deliveries, car parts to stranded motorists, locating lost hikers – the possibilities rely solely on the yet-to-be-determined rules.

For now, it seems as though Amazon has a few safety issues to work out. For instance, making sure their drones don’t land on peoples’ heads. Other areas, such as timelines, battery life (the eight-chopper design takes more power to run), etc. are also being looked at. Which is why they’re happy to have the head start.

Within just a few years, however, it seems as though drone delivery systems could be a reality. Flying boxes, quicker packages, and a giant leap into futuristic technologies.

The Rise of Holiday Light Shows

houseJust a few years ago, the world was in awe as the first creative light show was set to music … at someone’s home. There was music, lights, and a steady beat that meant we couldn’t turn our eyes away. One creative family decided to put a little more effort (and pizzazz) into their regular Christmas light showings, and the idea took off like wildfire. A few news stories, millions of YouTube views, a huge increase in traffic, and now its an ongoing trend. Companies are now creating products to help make the timing easier, and businesses and commercial properties are charging fees to see their own snazzy versions. Like this one on Saks Fifth Avenue that comes with three dimensions.

Years later, and the trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Now folks are able to synch the music with car stereos as they drive past. (While some opt to play a local radio station.) Patterns are becoming more complex and intricate – even integrating 3D projectors, such as the video above. Lights are coming crisper and clearer, and with the right tools, they can even play to a new song by mimicking the beat. All it takes is a little know-how and the right tools to make it work.

The Equipment

In order to create your own holiday light show at home, a few pieces of equipment are needed, such as light-controlling software, a computer, speakers, extension cords, and the light controllers themselves. Depending on the size and set up, this could easily total into hundreds of dollars, though DIY equipment is also available at a smaller sum.

For those who are less electrically inclined, however, entire kits can now be purchased with everything one needs, such as channel amp controllers, software, and the instructions to make it all work. One of the more popular companies, Light-O-Rama offers these packages in varying sizes so light shows of all intensities can get a solid start.

Whether you create the light show from the ground up, or enlist in the help of a kit to get you started, there’s no doubt the neighborhood will appreciate the efforts. From small-time home shows to elaborate routines plastered on the sides of stories-high buildings, these light shows offer a technology-based bit of holiday cheer. Check out your options today to get started on this growing winter trend.

PS4 vs. Xbox One: The console wars take a new turn


Depending on how you look at it, the game console wars just took another turn with the launch of the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One consoles.  What is even more amazing is the close and fierce competition between these two consoles in price, design, specs, and game varieties.

How do these two consoles stack up against one another?

The PS4

Playstation has always been primarily a gaming device and the PS4 stays true to the cause. The console and controller have been completely redesigned. A new controller, the Dualshock 4, comes with improved ergonomics with slightly indented trigger buttons while the analog sticks have a slightly elevated rim to keep a player’s thumb from sliding off.


Other improvements to the controller include a touchpad and a light bar. The touchpad dominates much of the middle space but is fairly responsive to touch especially for in-game navigation. A Playstation camera, sold separately, allows the console to detect the movement and depth of field in front of it via the light bar.

The PS4 comes with an additional app, the Playstation App, on both iOS and Android, which lets you carry your game beyond the big screen, on the go. You can purchase and download games for the PS4 on the move and even play from where you left off right within the app.

Some of the games you can start playing immediately you purchase the console include Killzone Shadow Fall and Call of Duty: Ghosts. The console debuts at $400.

The Xbox One

Xbox One comes in a completely new design in comparison to the previous Xbox 360. Xbox exclusives like Halo may not be motivation enough for you to purchase the console, but the added features like voice command support and motion control to the system via the Kinect will definitely make you want to reconsider your options despite the $500 price tag.

XBox One

What really sells it for Xbox One though is the fact that you can use it for more than just playing games. The machine comes with a cable port for watching your TV. What is even more interesting is the fact you don’t need to switch between the game and the TV. Simply tell ‘the One’ what you wanna watch. For instance, you can say, “Xbox, Watch ABC” and it will switch.

Other services you can access include Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, Xbox Movies. You also no longer need to fire up services like Skype and Internet Explorer separately. These have been integrated with the One and you can pull them up onto the big screen just as fast.

The Xbox One also comes with the SmartGlass app for Android, iOS, and Windows.

Bottom Line

The question of which is better, the One or the PS4, is hard to answer when you have two big players with two big consoles. Never before has gaming had two such stand-out consoles to choose from. The Playstation 4 has the best bits gleaned from three generations of systems while the Xbox One offers much broader experiences.

Why Commenting Systems on Websites Are Getting Overhauls

When you look at a popular website, the commenting system is probably one of the few places where there is little control in terms of content. However, this is about to change with two large websites and online resources, YouTube and Popular Science, announcing a revamping of their systems.


For YouTube, all comments will now be linked to a real persona via Google+. However, for Popular Science, the website has gone the easy way, removing comments entirely from their posts, and here’s why.

1. Why YouTube Adopted the Google+ Commenting System

For most of us, YouTube and Google+ are one and the same thing; they are both owned and run by Google. The Google+ social platform has largely been criticized for being a ghost town, but this is about to change when Google integrates this social layer onto YouTube. The new system offers benefits to all, commenters, video creators, and viewers. However, it may not be good news for trolls who have made the current commenting system one of the filthiest destinations on the Web.


With Google+ becoming the only way to leave a comment below a YouTube video, this may just breathe life to the social platform and bring conversations to this otherwise dead part of town. Current features of Google+ now come to YouTube including the ability to join a conversation either publicly or privately, new tools of reviewing comments, and the ability to determine what posts appear on top of a video.

Google is well aware that recent does not necessarily mean relevant, which is how the current YouTube comments operate. However the new system will see relevant comments, say from the video creator, your friends, or some other popular personality, take the top spot.

Conversations on YouTube and on Google+ will also cross the borders and appear between the two platforms. A YouTube comment that you post will now appear on your G+ stream if desired. Likewise, a G+ comment with an embedded YouTube video will not populate the comment section below that YouTube video. This offers a whole new way of video promotion and creating engagement.

2. Why Popular Science Shut Down Its Commenting System

According to Popular Science, comments can be bad for science. posted a lengthy post explaining why they came up with this decision, of course using science to state their case.


Popular Science posted a study and research information showing that commenters shape public opinion which in turn shape public policy, which in turn shape how and whether and what research gets funded. According to the site:

“Scientific certainty has now become “just another thing for two people to “debate” on television. And because comments sections tend to be a grosteque reflection of the media culture surrounding them, the cynical work of undermining bedrock scientific doctrine is now being done beneath our own stories, within a website devoted to championing science.”

While you may no longer be allowed to leave you comment on articles posted on the site, you can however share your thoughts through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email, and more.  A few select articles that lend themselves to vigorous and intelligent discussions will also be open to comments.

It is clear that uncivil comments not only polarize readers, but they also change their interpretations of the story of video.  A fractious minority has enough power to skew a reader’s perception and these two websites have clearly recognized this fact.

By blocking out inappropriate attacks and rude comments, these two approaches may very well contribute to a much cleaner and a more tolerating Internet.