Tuesday, January 31, 2012

HyperLocal App Idea: Local Laundromat Home Page

I am sitting at the Wash Tub Laundromat in Manhattan Beach, CA doing my laundry tonight. I was working on my Macbook and the owner of the laundromat asked me if I was able to get wifi on my laptop?

I explained that I have a Verizon USB stick to get my Internet connection, since there wasn’t wifi available. He said he had talked to Time Warner Cable and they said they’d install free Internet for him, but it had been months and nothing. I’m assuming they have some sort of public spaces package that routes users to a home page, upon connecting and monetizes the Internet using advertising.

The laundromat owner said he’d just pay for Internet himself. I told him about CityGrid local advertising, and said he could monetize the home page and probably end up paying for the Internet through local advertising.

Seems like a great idea for a local web application, one that helps laundromat, coffee shop and other business owners set up a default home page for their router, and make money from it using CityGrid local places and advertising.

It would be easy to go beyond just ads on a single splash page and build a quality local directory that introduces customers to other products, services and business in the local area.

As I’m traveling, and talking to small business owners about ideas for web and mobile apps, I will keep sharing with developers here, so you can take advantage of these opportunities.

from Hack Education http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KinLane/~3/DXH-ZicGcF8/

Using Twitter Bootstrap for your Local Web Application

I’m a web application developer. I can efficiently build web applications, but when it comes to the UI, I know what looks good, but I struggle to actually implement a consistent look and feel.

Usually in a weekend I can throw together a pretty complete app, but when I try to make it look good it can take weeks, and often even kills a project before it get going.

This is why I started using Twitter Bootstrap for all my web applications and prototypes. Twitter Bootstrap is a “simple and flexible HTML, CSS, and Javascript for popular user interface components and interactions”.

In the earlier days of Twitter, engineers used almost any library they were familiar with to meet front-end requirements. Inconsistencies among the individual applications made it difficult to scale and maintain them. Bootstrap began as an answer to these challenges and quickly accelerated during Twitter’s first Hackweek. By the end of Hackweek, they had reached a stable version that engineers could use across the company.

With the help and feedback of many engineers, Bootstrap has grown significantly to encompass not only basic styles, but more elegant and durable front-end design patterns. Providing a collection of CSS and HTML conventions, employing the latest browser techniques to deliver typography, forms, buttons, tables, grids, navigation and many of the common elements you need to deliver a sharp looking web application.

I used Twitter Bootstrap to deploy Hyp3rL0cal, my first set of local web app prototypes in PHP, Python and Ruby, built using the CityGrid Places and Advertising API. I’ve rolled up these prototypes, complete with Twitter Bootstrap as Amazon EC2 AMIs, so anyone can quickly deploy a local directory that looks good.

I highly recommend using Twitter Bootstrap in all your projects, it allows you to focus on what you do best, delivering the next generation of local directory or guide web applications.

from Hack Education http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KinLane/~3/FhJyJGNKd4s/

Mashery Plays API Match Maker with Developer Connect

One of the biggest areas around APIs I think needs attention in 2012 is more tools that focus on developers. There are plenty API services and tools focusing on API owners, but we need to start making sure developers are taken care of.

So its nice to see the Mashery’s new Developer Connect, which matches developers with companies looking for specific API development skills. Mashery partnered with Elance to develop the API skill matchmaking service, powered by Elance’s huge network of professional technical talent.

There are plenty of developers out there who have polished their skills working with specific APIs, either on production, or hobby development projects, and would love to find freelance work, and make some money of their talent.

On the flip-side, there are plenty of companies looking to build web and mobile applications that use one or many APIs, and would prefer to contract with developers who already have experience with those APIs.

Its a win-win situation for developers, API owners and companies looking to build on top of APIs. I think it is also a sign that the API space is really maturing. With platforms like Mashery’s Developer Connect, powered by Elance, developers may now be able to make a good living specializing in API development.

Its a great idea, I wish I had come up with it! Oh wait. I did!! In fall of 2010, and pitched it to Elance, after pitching the idea, I even built a Elance Developer Area prototype, and did a four part series on the potential.

I actually don’t have a problem with this, I thoroughly enjoy my ideas getting used, rather than sitting on the back burner. What did piss me off, is when I was offered the exclusive by Elance after they actually built their version...they sent me a Techcrunch post, saying here is your exclusive. 

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/DOhdfn1cQX8/

Four Potential Levels of an API Business Ecosystem

I'm working on a framework for the City Grid API that helps define the different types of developers that are using our APIs, helping me understand how to better support them, and ensure their success.

This particular approach is different than segmenting my developers by type of development, like web and mobile or by industry like real estate or medical. I'm focusing on the business side of the API, and identifying what developers need to be successful in the business of the applications they are building on the CityGrid API, and where I should focus CityGrid resources.

I'm breaking down our API developers into four distinct levels:

  • Open - Publicly available, self-service use of the API, with general forum and email support via developer area.
  • Associate - Motivated app developers who demonstrate their understanding of an API, submit their app for internal approval and take advantage of revenue sharing opportunities around the API.
  • Partner - Developers who already have successful businesses or have built businesses around the CityGrid APIs, and may have higher usage needs, and usually contribute some value back to the CityGrid business model and API ecosystem.
  • Incubation - Developers who have grown their businesses in significant ways, but need mentoring and investment of additional resources to take their business to the next level.

Anyone can register to use the API and become an open developer, integrating businesses, places and other related content like reviews, offers, images and videos in their web or mobile apps. The API is self-service, allowing anyone to participate.  I can speculate what these developers need, but its up to them to let me know how they are building on the API and what they need to go to the next level.

To rise up to the next level of associate, you need to demonstrate you've integrated CityGrid APis into your app, using best practices, while adhering to the CityGrid Terms and Conditions and Usage Requirements. Once approved as an associate you can start making money with your application or site using web, mobile or custom advertising, as well as taking advantage of Place that Pay.

To become a partner your business usually provides some sort of value to CityGrid, and have potentially higher usage needs when it comes to CityGrid APIs. Not every developer has the opportunity to become a partner, but with the right business model, its an option that can be negotiated.

We are all watching as technology incubators like Y Combinator and TechStars mentor and invest in tech startups from Silicon Valley to New York City. CityGrid is integrating this model into its API ecosystem. Companies like UrbanSpoon and BuzzLabs have started out as open developers, rising up the ladder, with hard work and incremental success, until they are in need of a higher level of attention from CityGrid, as well as providing a lot of value to the CitiyGrid network.

Not all companies have the capacity to approach their APIs in the way I'm laying out, but for those looking to build a vibrant ecosystem around their API, where developers can not just play with your API, but truly build businesses and the next generation of startups, you may want to consider how you can define a similar set of levels, that help you identify and meet the business needs of your developers.

Photo Credit - Sustainable Labs

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/yxmR7GA0KF4/

Monday, January 30, 2012

Review of APIs: A Strategy Guide from O'Reilly Books

I had the pleasure of getting an early copy of the APIs: A Strategy Guide, Creating Channels with Application Programming Interfaces, by Daniel Jacobson(@daniel_jacobson), Greg Brail(@gbrail), Dan Woods(@danwoodscito), published by O’Reilly Books.

APIs: A Strategy Guide, provides the essential knowledge needed for planning, implementing and managing an API in this emerging API driven world. Written by Daniel Jacobsen who has managed two of the fastest growing and progressive APIs I know of--Netflix and NPR, and Greg Brail who is probably the one individual who has deployed the most number of APIs in the industry, and not leaving out Dan Woods who's is responsible for bringing this book together.

The APIs: A Strategy Guide is sound advice for any executive, business, marketing or engineering person looking to deploy an API. But it doesn't stop there, as an experienced API product manager and evangelist it provides a framework to better look at much of what I already do, while also introducing some new concepts I hadn't considered.

From a business perspective the book describes the API opportunity perfectly while providing the necessary business, product and value chain understanding to take on an API initiative within any company. As an author who's written a book on the Business of APis, Jacobsen, Brail and Woods take it even deeper and perfectly describe the business imperative for using APIs in your company.

From a technical guide, you can't ask for a better approach than Jacobsen and Brail provide. API design is more art than science and they describe a balanced, but deeply technical approach for designing your API, wearing a very pragmatic hat, which is crucial in deploying a successful API.

Beyond technical, the book provides the necessary legal considerations that come up when deploying an API, that could make or break your efforts. There is also concrete operational advice regarding how to approach the day to day operations of your API and ensure that you are able to measure and define the success of your API.

The authors didn't neglect the most important aspect of any API, its developers. The book provides a key overview of what it will take to attract, engage and build a community of developers around your API. Without developers, your API will go nowhere.

I've personally been working with RESTful APIs since their early days and have been studying the business of APis full time for the last year and half exclusively. Reading the APIs: A Strategy Guide, I added two extremely important concepts to my API model:

  • APIs Expose Business Assets - APis are channels for exposing your most important business assets--products, services and information.
  • API is a Contract - Developers are enticed to use the API because they know they can rely on it. The contract increases confidence, which increases use. The contract also makes the connection between pro-vider and consumer much more efficient since the interfaces are documented, consistent, and predictable.

The authors leave us with the knowledge you will need build a case for an API within your company, plan, implement and manage internal, partner and public APIs. The book ends right where you will be once you successfully launch your API; the beginning. The beginning of a whole new world of innovation, R&D, equipped with a biz dev 2.0 platform that will enable your company to stay competitive in the emerging API economy.

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/1h9k08Myt9w/

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Local, Geo Landscape Roundup - January 29th, 2012

From the Foursquare Blog

  • From Starbucks to Sports Authority find your favorite places, even in a new city! - (01/27/2012) - Love Starbucks? On Starbucks foursquare pageyoull see a map with all the locations nearby, so you can pick the closest one to visit. Plus, when youre on aparticular Starbucks venue page, well show you the other closest options. The nearby map is now on hundreds of business pages, with more to come soon. Here are some places to try out! Look for the closest Zipcar locationsand get away for the weekend! Museum lovers, find all of MoMAs locationsin New York (if you’re in New York, zoom out to see them all! ). Local business love! See The Beanerys locationsin Oregon. If your gym has multiple locations, you can find the closest place to work out, even when youre travelling.
  • A police constable uses foursquare to check in with his community! #4sqFun - (01/27/2012) - Scott Mills, whos also the Social Media Adviser for Crime Stoppers International, is encouraging officers everywhere to use foursquare to connect with their neighborhoods! Scott checks in when hes giving community talks, to let people know when and where hes on patrol, or to keep them posted on breaking crime scenes. People love to comment on Scotts check-ins, come say hi when hes nearby, and evenoust him as the Mayorof the police station headquarters! See one of his awesome presentations here.
  • Candidates and students check in to the Presidential Debate at USF! #CampusHighlight - (01/25/2012) - University of South Floridahosted NBCs Republican Presidential Candidates Debate. Students, visitors, and even Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney checked in on foursquare, with the first hundred people winning a free shirt! Want to keep up with the primaries? You can follow Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and The White Houseon foursquare! If you’re interested in promoting your campus event on foursquare (for free! ), emailcampus@foursquare. com.
  • Qu guay! Madrids city badge is here! - (01/25/2012) - Follow the Madrileo listat foursquare. com/4sqcities and check in to five places on it to unlock the badge. Eat a churro for us!
  • Tell us why your hometown deserves a foursquare badge! #visitUS - (01/24/2012) - Tuscaloosa! ) As part of President Obama’s announcement to boost tourism in the U. S. , the White Housecalled on folks around the country to share what makes their city or town a great place to visit. Well, we want to know too! Inspired by the #visitUS initiative, were putting out a call for foursquare lists with all the best spots in your city. We’ll pick the three most amazing ones and creating foursquare city badges for them! How to make a list for your town! 1. Create a list at foursquare. com/lists, and make sure it has your town and the #visitUS hashtag in the name. 2. Add 20-30 of your towns best places. Include a variety of spots, from restaurants and bars, to parks, monuments, and local businesses.
  • Hey LA, now its your turn to save $5 on every Restaurant Week meal! - (01/23/2012) - New York Restaurant Week partnershipwith American Express, saving Cardmembers $5 on every lunch and dinner they have at over 300 New York eateries. Today, we’re excited to extend the same deal to hungry explorers in Los Angeles: Spend $21 hundreds of restaurants participating in dineLA’s Restaurant Week, and you’ll get a $5 credit back on your American Express statement. Redeeming your free money is just as easy as with past American Express specials:Check in at a Restaurant Week restaurant. Go to the Special screen and tap the Load to Card button (youll also be able to sync your card if you havent yet).

From the Facebook Blog

  • iOS and Android: Single Sign-On Best Practices - (01/26/2012) - Over a year ago, we introduced Single Sign-On (SSO) for Android and iOS. Today, more than 350 million active users currently access Facebook through their mobile devices. Users logged into the Facebook for iOS or Facebook for Android app can use the Login with Facebook button and, in one-click through a permissions dialog, login to your app. This saves users from typing in an e-mail address and password for apps that require registered users. Since the launch of SSO, developers implementing it in their apps have enjoyed increased user registrations and access to the Graph API to build in-app social experiences.
  • Platform Updates: Operation Developer Love - (01/25/2012) - This week we announced how to implement flashHideCallback to support "wmode=window". We are also announcing the following changes:Getting SubscribedTo and Subscribers via Graph API We are now providing the ability of reading a user's subscribers and subscribees list via the Graph API. To access this information, your app is required to have the user_subscriptions permission for the user, and friends_subscriptions permission for their friends' info. Refer to the documentation for SubscribedTo and Subscribers for more details. To access a user's subscribers list, issue an HTTP GET request to the subscribers connection like the following:https://graph. facebook. com/USER_ID/subscribers? access_token=.
  • How-To: Implementing hideFlashCallback to support "wmode=window" - (01/23/2012) - One of the Pro-Tips we mentioned late last year in our Games Tutorial to Developers creating Flash based Apps was to use wmode=opaque whenever possible. Setting wmode to any value other than "opaque" or "transparent" prevents any HTML content from being displayed at a higher z index than the Flash object. This results in Dialogs, Notifications and Ticker Flyouts being displayed under the Flash object and creates a pretty poor user experience on Canvas. As a result when Canvas Apps set wmode to "window" or "direct" Facebook automatically hides the Flash object when any Dialogs, Notifications or Ticker Flyouts are opened. To help improve the user experience we have recently introduced a new parameter for FB.

Tweets from Factual

(01/25/2012) @kevinlouie Our apologies, we were experiencing some brief issues with our v2 API yesterday morning. It should be resolved now.
(01/23/2012) Happy to release our official PHP driver. Accessing our 55 million global places is now easier than ever #php http://t.co/NmlWnvhf

From the Factual Blog

  • Factual Ruby Driver - (01/25/2012) - Ruby driver for our API. The driver supports Factual’s API features, including Crosswalk, Resolve, and geo location functionality around the Factual Places API. We put a priority on making this driver easy to use, and designed it “The Ruby Way”. It lets you focus on building your Factual queries and using the results in Ruby. It handles details like OAuth and url encoding, so you don’t have to. The driver and its associated gems are hosted at Rubygems. org. Install the driver as a gem in your project as follows:$ gem install factual-api Once you have the driver installed in your Ruby project, here’s how you create an authenticated handle to Factual:require 'factual'factual = Factual.
  • Startup Weekend San Jose Developer Contest - (01/25/2012) - We’re proud to announce that we are sponsoring this year’s Startup Weekend San Jose. At Factual, we’re big fans of Startup Weekend and their mission toinspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. We also love empowering developers to do amazing things with data faster and easier than ever before. To help one lucky team achieve their startup dreams, we will be awarding Free Accelerated Access to the Factual API for one year, plus $500 in Amazon Gift Cards to the Startup Weekend San Jose team that makes best use of the Factual API. What: Startup Weekend San Jose When:January 27 – 29, 2012 Where:2903 Bunker Hill Ln. , Santa Clara, CA, 95054 Details:http://sanjose.
  • Factual PHP Driver - (01/23/2012) - We are pleased to report the availability of the official PHP driver for the Factual API. This driver wraps our Read, Crosswalk, Resolve, and Schema APIs, providing five-line access to our 55 million global places and other structured data. ExamplesGetting Started: First, get an API key from Factual. Add your oauth key and secret to the constructor:require_once('Factual.

From the InfoChimps Blog

  • Fixies and Hipsters are Correlated? - (01/27/2012) - Depending on who you are, the sight of a gorgeously simple yet eclectic fixed gear bicycle may make your mouth water or may fill you with ire. Perhaps if you feel the former, you are the current owner of several pairs of skinny jeans, a pearl snap vintage shirt and ironic glasses. In other words, you are a hipster. According to the folks on Quora, fixed gear bicycles (or fixies) are considered to be a strong indicator of hipsterness. The folks at Priceonomics blog, as part of their effort to build a comprehensive bicycle pricing guide, have measured what kinds of used bicycles people sell and the quantity sold in cities across the US. To find where the hipsters live, they mined their database of 1.
  • The Best Pie Chart Ever - (01/26/2012) - Thanks, ilovecharts.
  • How long does it take for a cockroach to die? - (01/25/2012) - Earlier this week, YouTube revealed that users are uploading one hour of video every second to the site. It’s quite the amazing milestone, not only speaking to YouTube’s massive success, but also the mind-boggling rate at which we are producing data. Furthermore,it was revealed that the average YouTube visitor spends an average of 15 minutes a day on the site, accounting for a total of 4 billion video views per day. It can be overwhelming for most to understand the sheer size of these numbers, so to help put things into perspective, YouTube has created One Hour Per Second.
  • Economic Outlook: Mostly Typical - (01/24/2012) - Using major macroeconomic indicators, Russell Investments has created a dashboard to capture a snapshot of the state of our economy. It’s updated on the 22nd of each month with data from Bloomberg. You can click through the “Historical Details” links to read more about each indicator and its see its changes over time. Check out the legend below for complete details on how to read the chart. So, what does this dashboard tell us about the current state of our economy? For starters, we are growing at a modest 1. 8%. As youcan see from the chart, most indicators are well within “typical” range and even mortgagedelinquenciesand corporate debt are slowly coming down.

Tweets from InfoChimps

(01/27/2012) The Best Pie Chart Ever http://t.co/YDjiT0k9
(01/26/2012) @denzil_correa Which API are you using? We can have the engineers take a look ASAP.
(01/25/2012) @jonalmond2 No, we're not planning a move anytime soon and for future reference, Twitter cold calling is lame. :)
(01/24/2012) @carterrabasa Check out our Foursquare Places API... http://t.co/RGDogpm1
(01/23/2012) 4 Ways Small Businesses Can Build a Great Culture : Managing :: American Express OPEN Forum http://t.co/G77CQ6Sk via @OpenForum
(01/26/2012) One Sure-fire Way to Be a Better Leader : Lifestyle :: American Express OPEN Forum http://t.co/AgvEAQtE via @OpenForum
(01/25/2012) Turning Customers Into Fans and Followers : Marketing :: American Express OPEN Forum http://t.co/HJBWLi3m via @OpenForum
(01/25/2012) #alamw12 - Big THANKS to all our friends we saw in Dallas
(01/24/2012) 11 Vital Mobile Apps for Entrepreneurs http://t.co/sTm8DABT via @mashable
(01/24/2012) Reduce Customer Service Expenses Using Twitter and Facebook : Managing :: American Express OPEN Forum http://t.co/UaBCiHNN via @OpenForum
(01/23/2012) Starting today, we will be adding @TheDailyTrigger tweets to our feed. For infomation about iSell check out this link http://t.co/olN5UKNr
(01/23/2012) #alamw12 #referenceusa/Booth1855 sponsors the ALTAFF gala Authors Tea, Monday, January 23rd http://t.co/FeZcLWrQ…
(01/23/2012) Thinking about switching #email platforms? Some key criteria to think about before you do: http://t.co/RstNFHGo via @MediaPost
(01/23/2012) Loci 2011: Gib Olander http://t.co/mP9ytx6b via @mblumenthal
(01/25/2012) HyperPublic Blog

from Hack Education http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KinLane/~3/Ubs87xOO-cA/

Helping Voters Register with the Cost of Freedom Project

Last week during the Hackathon for Social Good in New York City, I was fortunate enough to be connected with Faye Anderson (@andersonatlarge) of the Cost of Freedom Project.  The Hackathon for Social Good was put on my WebVisions, using the hackathon model to further projects that are making a social impact in our lives.

The Cost of Freedom Project is centered around providing the necessary information and resources needed by U.S citizens to be able to vote in the 2012 elections, primarily targeted the 5 states that have strict laws requiring voters to show a government issued photo ID in order to vote.

When it comes to making a social impact, Faye’s project is a shining example, and I couldn’t ignore her need for a hacker to move her project forward.  After hearing her pitch, I joined her project team which included Lori Widelitz-Cavallucci (@lwcavallucci) a UX Designer, and Jack Aboutboul (@jackfoundation), Developer Evangelist from Twilio.

As Lori and Faye got to work on the site layout and user experience I started setting up the back-end that would be necessary to run the app:

  • Amazon EC2 Instance Running Fedora Linux and Apache Web Server  PHP 5.3
  • Twitter Bootstrap
  • DNS for Domain Setup

By the end of the Hackathon we had a site layout, with all pages setup with initial content.  All the site content is editable from a Google spreadsheet allowing Faye to maintain control over her content and crowsdsource the management of content using the spreadsheet interface.

The site uses CityGrid to pull vital record offices by state, county voter registration and local DMV offices when a user enters their city and zip code.

The Cost of Freedom Project is a great example of what you can pull together at a hackathon, but also the wide range of apps you can build using CityGrid data.  Sites do not have to be local directories, CityGrid places data can be used to build informational sites that add value to almost any process.

from Hack Education http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KinLane/~3/_klGJ93U6BI/

Saturday, January 28, 2012

International Privacy Day: Top Concerns of Activists and Data Protection Authorities

This January 28 marks International Privacy Day. Different countries around the world are celebrating this day with their own events. This year, we are honoring the day by calling attention to recent international privacy threats and interviewing Data protection authorities, Government officials, and activists to gain insight into various aspects of privacy rights and related legislation in their own respective countries.

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The Right to Anonymity is a Matter of Privacy

This January 28 marks International Privacy Day. Different countries around the world are celebrating this day with their own events. This year, we are honoring the day by calling attention to recent international privacy threats and interviewing Data protection authorities, Government officials, and activists to gain insight into various aspects of privacy rights and related legislation in their own respective countries.

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Why We Write API Documentation

This post comes from the SDK Bridge newsletter.  I find so much value from what Peter and Jonathan do over at SDK Bridge, I always have to post their newsletter here and share with all of you.

I recently received an email with the subject "FW: boring job". It was a long email chain that started with someone casting about for someone to write API documentation. It got me thinking about how most developers must wonder why on earth someone with the skills to program would choose to write API documentation instead.

"Why" is a good question to ask yourself when starting up a new year. In fact, I recently saw a TED talk video by Simon Sinek on how the most effective people, companies, and organizations, start by thinking about why they do something instead of what. In the video, Sinek brings up examples like Apple, the Wright Brothers, and even Martin Luther King, whose most famous speech began with "I have a dream" (why) and not "I have a plan" (what).

In this newsletter, I'll talk about why we write API documentation, from how it impacts the world to how it challenges us personally. But first, here's what SDK Bridge been up to since our last newsletter:

• Writing C++ documentation for software embedded into agricultural vehicles.

• Writing REST documentation for a company that creates software for governments.

• Writing REST documentation based on OpenSocial to be able to create and manage online meetings.

• Writing IT documentation for Microsoft HealthVault.

- Peter Gruenbaum, President, SDK Bridge

Why We Write API Documentation

To most developers, writing API documentation is nothing short of torture. But to a few of us, it's a fascinating area. What gets us so excited?

Enormous Impact

In case you haven't heard, the biggest technology revolution is happening since the invention of HTML. We've all heard about the explosion of smart phone, tablet, and software-as-a-service technology, but not everyone knows that APIs are what's driving all of these technologies, providing people with instant access to data. It used to be that only the people who had the data could write the software that granted access, but with APIs, the number of software developers who can create applications with that data is vastly increased. Companies are discovering that developers are doing things with their data that they had never dreamed of. It's an exciting time to be working in software.

Ask anyone in the API industry what the biggest obstacles are to creating apps, and I guarantee that they will bring up API documentation. Good documentation results in application innovation; bad documentation stifles it. API writers have the power to get an API adopted and used.

An Interesting Human-Computer Interaction Challenge

Donald Norman, the Human-Computer Interaction guru, once wrote an interesting essay of how the qualities of human beings are different than the qualities of computers. The way that we think is different than the way that machines "think", and a good user interface bridges the gap, making the computer intuitive to the person.

When your product is a software platform, then your API and its accompanying documentation is its user interface. If you want the API to be usable, then you have to figure how to bridge that difficult gap between the linear, inflexible world of computer programming and the non-linear, flexible way that people think and learn. It's a fascinating challenge.

Extreme Variety

Writing documentation for an API is a much faster process than writing the API itself. This means that an API writer often gets to learn about something, explain it, and then move on to the next thing. In just the last two years, I've gotten to learn about eCommerce, health care, traffic prediction, agricultural vehicles, online meetings, call centers, mobile phone applications, electric utilities, and noSQL databases. I even once wrote documentation to help the search for extraterrestial intelligence.

In the near future, everyone who has data will have an API to access that data, and all of those APIs need documentation. Writing that documentation is a way to get a taste of all of the different worlds that software is touching.

On the Cutting Edge

One of the big challenges of being a developer is staying on top of the latest technologies while there is so much legacy code to maintain that's built on old technology. Often developers get stuck working in old technology, wistfully wishing they could be on the cutting-edge.

Companies like to promote their platforms that use the hottest languages and protocols. That means that they will prioritize documentation for those platforms. Not only that, but I find that writers are given even more permission than developers when it comes to learning technology on the job. Between these two, API writers often get to work with the latest and greatest technologies


Enormous impact, thinking about how people learn, extreme variety, and getting to work with cutting edge technology - it's pretty cool being an API writer these days. Of course, you have to love to write and you have to love to program. But if you are good at those two things, there's never been a better time to be an API writer.

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/LxJpDPUcaYg/

Friday, January 27, 2012

Under Obama, the Freedom of Information Act is Still in Shackles

Three years ago this past weekend, on his first full day in office, President Barack Obama issued his now infamous memo on transparency and open Government, which was supposed to fulfill his campaign promise to lead the "most transparent administration in history. " Instead,  his administration has been just as secretive—if not more so—than his predecessors, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has become the prime example of his administration's lack of progress.

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We Have Every Right to Be Furious About ACTA

If there's one thing that encapsulates what's wrong with the way Government functions today, ACTA is it. You wouldn't know it from the name, but the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a plurilateral agreement designed to broaden and extend existing intellectual property (IP) enforcement laws to the Internet. While it was only negotiated between a few countries,1 it has global consequences.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hawaiian Data Retention Bill Would Force Internet Companies to Spy on Users’ Browsing Habits

UPDATE: The bill has been tabled after being greeted by "vehement opposition. " This morning, Hawaiian state legislators held a hearing on a state bill that could have dire consequences for online privacy. HB 2288 (PDF) would force any company that provides Internet access to consumers in Hawaii to keep undefined "consumer records" for two years, including historical records on the sites a user visited as well as assigned IP addresses.

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International Privacy Day: Threats to Personal Data and the People Who Fight Them

This January 28 marks International Privacy Day. Different countries around the world are celebrating this day with their own events. This year, we are honoring the day by calling attention to recent international privacy threats and interviewing Data protection authorities, Government officials, and activists to gain insight into various aspects of privacy rights and related legislation in their own respective countries.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interview with Malte Spitz, German Politician and Privacy Advocate

This January 28 marks International Privacy Day, the day that the first legally binding international privacy treaty was opened for signature to Member States on January 28, 1981. Different countries around the world are celebrating this day with their own events.

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Help Protect Gadget Jailbreakers and Video Artists from Legal Threats

EFF Launches Petition Campaign for Expanded DMCA Exemptions San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is asking the public to join the campaign to keep and widen exemptions EFF obtained in 2010 to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to help remove a cloud of legal uncertainty hanging over folks who modify electronic gadgets and make remix videos.

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Dutch Courts Join Pirate Bay Blocking Bandwagon

Last week, at the urging of the Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, the Court of The Hague ordered two ISPs to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay. This is the second major attempt by BREIN to cut off users' access to The Pirate Bay  in the Netherlands. The first, a 2010 court ruling directly against the popular torrent site, was all but ignored by its founders.

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Post- SOPA and PIPA, What’s Next? No Legislation, More Innovation.

Last week's historic protests made clear just what the tech community and Internet users are capable of accomplishing when they act together – not only have the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and its House counterpart, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), been tabled for now, but in a welcome change, the public debate has increasingly considered the interests of Internet users and the opinions of those who actually understand how the technology works.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

International Privacy Day: Fighting Data Retention Mandates Around the World

This January 28 marks International Privacy Day, the day that the first legally binding international privacy treaty was opened for signature to Member States in January 28, 1981. Different countries around the world are celebrating this day with their own events. This year, we are honoring the day by calling attention to recent privacy threats around the world and describing a few of the available tools that allow individuals to protect their privacy and anonymity.

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Department of Justice Misdirection on Cloud Computing and Privacy

Does using Cloud Computing services based in the United States create a risk of US law enforcement access to people's Data?  The US Department of Justice (DOJ) seems to be trying to placate international concern by saying one thing in international fora; but it says something quite different quite in the US courts.

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DOJ Wants to Know Who’s Rejecting Your Friend Requests

In the latest turn in our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for records related to the government's use of social networking websites, the Department of Justice finally agreed to release almost 100 pages of new records. These include draft search warrants and affidavits for Facebook and MySpace and several PowerPoint presentations and articles on how to use social networking sites for investigations.

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Egyptian Blogger Maikel Nabil Released from Prison

EFF is thrilled by the news that Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil (Sanad), detained since March 2011, was released today, just one day prior to the anniversary of Egypt's January 25 uprising. Though earlier reports suggested Nabil would not be released until the 26th, Al Masry Al Youm reported his release late Tuesday evening.

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Disappointing Ruling in Compelled Laptop Decryption Case

A federal district court in Colorado has handed down an unfortunate early ruling (pdf) in a case in which the Government is attempting to force a criminal defendant to decrypt the contents of a laptop. In United States v. Fricosu, the government seized several computers from the home of a woman charged with mortgage fraud, including a laptop containing encrypted information.

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Google and Pseudonyms: A Step in the Right Direction, Not the End of the Road

Nearly four months after first announcing it would support pseudonyms, Google rolled out changes to the account creation process for Google+ yesterday. The changes will allow users the option of choosing a nickname/alternate name to display in his or her Google+ profile, or choosing a pseudonym which is not linked a real name.

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Texas Cancels Its Drone Program For Maintenance Issues

After the Washington Post wrote about the Texas Department of Public Safety's (DPS) and other domestic law enforcement agencies' use of drones last January, EFF filed a Public Information Act request with the agency for more information. The Texas DPS was very forthcoming and not only sent us unredacted records of their program but also agreed to provide more information over the phone. The records they sent us are linked at the bottom of this post, and I was able to speak with Mr.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Local, Geo Landscape Roundup - January 24th, 2012

From the Foursquare Blog

  • Hey LA, now its your turn to save $5 on every Restaurant Week meal! - (01/23/2012) - New York Restaurant Week partnership with American Express, saving Card members $5 on every lunch and dinner they have at over 300 New York eateries. Today, we're excited to extend the same deal to hungry explorers in Los Angeles: Spend $21 hundreds of restaurants participating in dine LA's Restaurant Week, and you'll get a $5 credit back on your American Express statement. Redeeming your free money is just as easy as with past American Express specials:Check in at a Restaurant Week restaurant. Go to the Special screen and tap the Load to Card button (you'll also be able to sync your card if you have’nt yet).
  • Hit the slopes! foursquare Follow Friday, winter edition! #4sqFF - (01/20/2012) - Up for anything? Check out the Best Skiing in the World! In Vermont? This is your list. Aloha Ski and Snowboard Rentals in Park City, Utah has great recommendations, including where to stay and store your gear. Aspen/Snowmassin Aspen, Colorado has great tips and lists on where to eat, hiking spots, and more. Exclusive Resorts has a list of great US ski spots. Or, perhaps Dolce&Gabbanas list of cozy, glamorous snow spots around the world is more your style. We’ve also partnered with a bunch of ski resorts - check out their lists below, and check in when you visit to unlock their badges! Mount Snow in Vermont has tips on how to beat the crowds, food and rental recommendations, and more.
  • Where my friends at? #APIHighlight - (01/20/2012) - September Hackathon! ) that show off fun things that can be done with your friends check-ins, like sending you around the globe (or Hogwarts), all while sitting at your desk. If you're working with two monitors, they're a perfect add-on to your second screen. Arrivals is a beautifully simple and visual app that displays your friends check-ins like an old-fashioned arrivals board. Fousquare Notifications is a chrome extension that will alert you with desktop notifications when your friends check in. You can click through to add comments, and also tailor the notifications to certain friends, nearby areas, times when you're at the computer, and more.
  • Find what you're craving, and check out the menu too! - (01/18/2012) - foursquare. com/explore, which uses the 1. 5 billion foursquare check-ins from you, your friends, and the foursquare community to deliver personalized results for whatever you're craving, from burritos to bacon. Now, you can find exactly what you want, because were bringing menus to foursquare. We’ve partnered with the awesome start-up Single Platform to share over 13,000,000 menu items at almost 250,000 restaurants in major U. S. cities, with more on the way. Starting today, you'll be able to click through to menus on the right hand side of venue pages that have menu information. At a lot of these restaurants, we’ve also added a pricing icon to give you a quick sense of how fancy a night you're in for.
  • Cash back from American Express at all the best restaurants in New York! - (01/18/2012) - Spend $24 (the price of Restaurant Weeks prix fixe lunch special) at any of the participating Restaurant Week spots, get a $5 credit on your American Express statement. If you're doing the math, that means your prix fixe lunches are now under $20 bucks, and your prix fixe dinners are only $30 at over 300 of the best restaurants in New York! Redeeming your free money is just as easy as the past American Express specials:Check in at a Restaurant Week restaurant. Go to the Special screen and tap the Load to Card button (you'll also be able to sync your card if you have’nt yet). Pay with your American Express Card, and you'll see the credit on your statement in a few days!
  • A design student helps visually impaired people find their friends using foursquare! - (01/17/2012) - The BlindSpot cane incorporates a GPS-enabled smart phone and corresponding ear piece, and sends an audio alert whenever a friend checks in on foursquare nearby. There’s an option to call, or even navigate to where the friend is using tactile navigation!

From the Facebook Developer Blog

  • Platform Updates: Operation Developer Love - (01/20/2012) - This week, we launched the improved auth dialog and over 60 new Open Graph apps. Approving Open Graph Actions We are now approving Open Graph Actions. If you are new to the Open Graph, please review the Tutorial on how to use the Open Graph to integrate your app with Facebook. Please review and check your Actions against the required criteria prior to submission. Writing Questions via Graph API We recently announced the ability to read questions via the Graph API. We are now adding the option to write them. 
  • Open Graph now available - (01/18/2012) - At f8, we announced Timeline and the Open Graph - the next generation of the platform which enables people to tell their stories through the apps they use. The Open Graph has already had a significant impact on music, news, and video, but this was just the beginning. Starting today, developers can build apps that let people add anything they love to their Timelines - whether it is eating, traveling, shopping, running or taking pictures. As a part of the this launch, more than 60 apps are going live today - including Pinterest, Rotten Tomatoes / Flixster, Foodspotting, Gogobot, and more. These are great examples of how the Open Graph brings experiences to Facebook.
  • Launching the Improved Auth Dialog - (01/18/2012) - Over the past few months, weve been testing and iterating on the new Auth Dialog to incorporate feedback from users, developers and other third parties. By introducing new ways for people learn about an app and giving them more control over their data, we believe this update will benefit both users and developers. Today, were making the improved version available and announcing the migration plan for developers. More Control & Clarity for Users Similar to the inline privacy controls people have when they post content, we are introducing a new, inline privacy setting that allows a user to control who can see their app activity on Facebook.

From the Google Geo Blog

From the Factual Blog

  • Factual PHP Driver - (01/23/2012) - We are pleased to report the availability of the official PHP driver for the Factual API. This driver wraps our Read, Crosswalk, Resolve, and Schema APIs, providing five-line access to our 55 million global places and other structured data. 

From the InMobi Blog

  • Handset Stats - 2010-2011 - (01/17/2012) - What a difference a year makes! You can download the full set of statistics from the InMobi Research Centre - here are some highlights. World We're close to hitting the point when half the advert requests we get are for smartphones. While sales of smartphones have taken off in recent years - there are still millions of people using regular phones. Are you targeting them all? Europe In Q4 of 2010, Android accounted for around 16. 7% of advertising impressions in Europe. In Q4 of 2011, it rocketed to 32% - zooming past iOS. North America With dozens of manufactures churning out lots of different models, it's always really interesting to see who's up and who's down.

From the PlaceCast Blog

  • Text Tops Smartphone Usage, While Check-Ins Decline - (01/20/2012) - Insight Express released the latest update to its quarterly Digital Consumer Portrait which reveals some very interesting observations on the mobile behavior of mainstream smartphone users. As Kathryn Koegel pointed out in her AdAge column yesterday, there is an overwhelming counter-intuitive trend emerging from the data: some advanced mobile behaviors are not on an ever-increasing trajectory. Specifically, that text continues to top the charts for usage, while novelty behavior like check-ins are in decline.

from Hack Education http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KinLane/~3/Gq-gzDYXR3M/

Unanimous Supreme Court Ensures Americans Have Protections from GPS Surveillance

EFF Amicus Brief Argued that Government Installation and Use of GPS is a Search San Francisco - In a unanimous decision, the U. S. Supreme Court has confirmed that Americans have constitutional protections against GPS surveillance by law enforcement, holding in U. S. v. Jones that GPS tracking is a "search" under the Fourth Amendment. In Jones, FBI agents planted a GPS device on a car and then tracked the position of the vehicle every ten seconds for a full month without court oversight.

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Supreme Court Gets It Wrong in Golan v. Holder, Public Domain Mourns

Last week was a pretty good one for copyright law, what with a massive protest against disastrous legislation, that, hooray, got Congress to pay attention and put the legislation on hold.   Unfortunately, last week we also saw the results of another bad law that Congress did manage to push through, back before the Internet existed in anything like its present form.

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Engaging My API Developers Immediately with Rapportive

When new developers register for the CityGrid API, I get an email with their name and email address. I want to make sure each developer knows I’m here, and available to help them get up and running as quick as possible.

Emailing them as soon as they register seems a little too pushy, but following them on Twitter, with my personal Twitter and the CityGrid API Twitter account makes sense. So how do I get their Twitter handle, without spending too much time and derailing whatever I’m working on?

In comes Rapportive. For those of you who don’t know what Rapportive is, it is an browser add-on that runs in my Gmail and shows me everything about a contact I’m emailing with. On the right hand side it lists as much information associated with the email as the service can find, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

So when I get a new registration email from CityGrid APIs, I highlight the email address and it shows me information about the user. Many users don’t maintain active online profiles, so it returns nothing. However a handful, have Twitter accounts associated, which I immediately follow with my personal and CityGrid API Twitter accounts.

Both of my Twitter profiles clearly reflect CityGrid APIs, so when I follow them on Twitter, my developers know who I am, and they should now be aware that I am here to help. If they have any questions, they know they know how to find me.  

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/d37SYtGmiHg/

Sunday, January 22, 2012

API Evangelist Strategy for CityGrid

When I started with CityGrid as their API Evangelist, I wanted to make sure and share as much of my strategy with my audience here, in real-time. Of course I’ve been so busy executing I have forgotten to tell the story about what I’m doing.

So let me take a few moments to kick off telling the story of what I’m doing to build awareness of the CityGrid Places, Reviews, Offers and Advertising APIs.

Let me paint a picture from the 100K foot view, then in other posts I’ll go into more detail. Here are the areas I’m focusing on:

  • API - The CityGrid API already provides clear value and has a developer base, but there are always ways to improve. I will be providing feedback regularly, to the CityGrid API team on where we can improve on our APis.
  • API Area - Spending time in December hacking on the CityGrid APIs, I experienced first hand what it takes to get started hacking using the content and advertising APIs. While it is still fresh in my mind, I’m working on building a new getting started, publisher overview, FAQ and code samples and SDK page to help my publishers get up and running with their own development.
  • Hyp3rL0cal - To wrap my head around the CityGrid APIs I needed a project, so I started Hyp3L0cal, a playground for building local applications using CityGrid and other local and social APIs. I will be publishing all my code there, for others to use in their projects.
  • Presence - A healthy presence is important to the success of the CityGrid APIs. I am focusing on equal doses of an online and offline presence for CityGrid. The online presence consists of actively blogging, tweeting and coding on projects, while my offline presence includes a non-stop tour schedule of hackathons and conferences.
  • Publishers - CityGrid calls its developers, “publishers”. I am focusing on helping attract new publishers, and educating them about what CityGrid APIs can do for them, while also listening to existing publishers about what they need to be more successful with their web and mobile applications.
  • Landscape - CityGrid is working hard to dominate and lead the local content and advertising space, I’m spending a lot of time working to understand this arena. I’m spending a lot of time understanding the landscape and the other players like Foursquare, Factual, Yellow Pages and Google to not just understand their approach, but also help CityGrid publishers understand which tools are the best for them.
  • Internal - Not everything I’m doing is outwardly focused. I’m working hard to share what I learn from working with publishers and studying the local, social and mobile landscape and bring what I learn back to CityGrid. Internal evangelism is very important to the success of CityGrid APIs, without a larger awareness our internal teams can’t build the next generation of local content and advertising platform.
  • Weekly Updates - I’ve worked to report on four main areas of what I’m doing, to help track on what my efforts and the results I’m delivering. I provide a general overview of my week, as well as a schedule of events that I’m attending, overview of the industry landscape and list of stories I’m working on for blogging.

Of course there are a lot of details in these eight areas, but this provides an nice overview of the things I’m focusing on while evangelizing for CityGrid.

Even though I feel like I have a solid strategy around what I what need to accomplish for CityGrid, there is so much to learn on a week to week basis. That is why my weekly evaluation and updates are so important. I need to stop an evaluate what I’m doing every week and learn from it in as real-time as possible--so I can adjust quickly to prevent mistakes and maximize opportunities.

This is the best part of what I do, I’m constant learning at the forefront of technology that is changing the face of multiple industries. Not only do I get paid to do this, I get to share it here on API Evangelist so that others can learn from my success, and my mistakes.

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/GKgRBMxCm6s/

Saturday, January 21, 2012

How Do You Make Money From Your Apps?

One of the areas of API development I'm focusing a lot of energy on in 2012 is around monetization. I want to help define the playing field, of how API owners make money from their APIs, as well as how developers make money from their apps.

Both areas are extremely critical for the success of any API ecosystem. If the API owner does not have a clear path to generate revenue, the API won't be sustainable, and eventually will go away.

On the other side of the coin, developers have to be able to make money from their apps in order to sustain their work, and build a viable business around an API.

As part of my work on understanding the developer side of things, I'm doing several posts asking developers how they make or plan to make money from their apps. Two obvious ways immediately come to mind:

  • App Sales - Download and service based fees around apps.
  • Advertising - Web and mobile ads in apps.

Advertising has long held the title when it comes to monetizing apps, and iTunes and iOS sparked the mobile app gold rush. But what other ways are there?

How can developers make money from their apps in ways that make them successful and sustainable? At CityGrid we have "Places that Pay", where users get paid for showing certain business profiles, and we are working on other versions of "Content that Pays", in the future. But there has to be other innovative ways to make money from web and mobile app development.

Let me know how you are making money from your apps!

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/J2opQxF8saw/

HTML5 Developers Dominate at the Facebook Hackathons

I just wrapped up two separate Facebook Hackathons, one in New York and the other in Boston.  Both events started with presentations from various Facebook team members, demonstrating different aspects of the Facebook platform.

After the Facebook workshops, there was a presentation by Jim Zimmerman of Thuzi, a preferred Facebook mobile development shop from Florida.  During both his talks, he asked audience  to raise their hand and show which platform they developed their mobile apps on.

The breakdown in New York, from my view was about:

  • 25% iOS
  • 25% Android
  • 50% HTML5

While the breakdown in Boston, from my view was about:

  •  10% iOS
  • 10% Android
  • 80% HTML5

In both cities HTML5 was the clear choice of developers.  Even though Facebook still heavily focused on native app development during their workshops you can tell they were leaning heavily towards HTML5, by inviting PhoneGap to present, and giving away HTML5 t-shirts.

I don't think HTML5 has won the mobile battle by any stretch, but after seeing Adobes heavy focus on HTML5 at the Designing & Developing for Mobile Workshop in San Francisco, and now the dominance of it by developers at both Facebook Mobile Hacks, I think the tide is turning.

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/Aduq8eGKpSA/

The Power of the People Demonstrated Using the Internet

A recent image from ProPublica.org demonstrates the power of the people via the Internet, when it came to influencing our Government.  The image shows which members of Congress changed their position after the blackout protest of January 18, 2012.  



This shift, demonstrates the power we the people have via the Internet and how important it is that we protect this right, and keep the Internet open and freely accessible to everyone.  

from Hack Education http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KinLane/~3/uU6AwEoKwxU/

Friday, January 20, 2012

Internet at Conferences and Hackathons Shows How Existing Business Practices Can Slow Innovation

I was at the Facebook Mobile Hackathon at a hotel in Boston today, and during the event the Internet started going in and out, and eventually stopped working.

Since every demo was using the Facebook platform they required live Internet. It basically brought things to a screeching halt, when nobody could present, or hack.

This was a small event, but it hurts just as bad, no matter the event size. It happens at most events I attend, no matter the size.

For two years I coordinated the technology for many SAP events and for Google I/O. It was up to me to make sure the registration counters and other onsite technology worked without problems. So I had to have Plan A through C, which included replicated copies of live databases running on local databases, to make sure everything worked, even without Internet.

Most attendees assume that event planners just didn’t account for the size of audience and didn’t purchase enough bandwidth or network infrastructure. Having been on the other side, I’ve seen the reason.

At most event and conference centers you are at the mercy of the venue for Internet. In my early and naive days, while planning events at Moscone Center, I wanted to bring in a secondary Internet feed, so I could supplement our connection. I was told I couldn’t, it was a violation of the venue contract.

I had to use the services of the provider that had the contract with the venue. Nothing else was allowed. So I watched for two years as some pretty amazing Google I/O sessions failed.  I had local databases, so registration generally went smoothly.  

Todays hackathon was Facebook, but it was a small event. I’ve watched in the past as Google, SAP and other Internet giants are reduced nothing because the Internet has failed at their events.

In my opinion these existing business practices and contracts stifle innovation and the ability for companies and individuals to share ideas, collaborate, and learn.

As we discuss the damaging effects of SOPA and PIPA, which look to put in new ways of limiting innovation, we need to also look at what historical practices that are in place in the name of “business”, which may ensure a few individuals make money, but limit the forward motion of innovation in general.

from Hack Education http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/KinLane/~3/90HtAM3MT-8/

ACLU & EFF to Appeal Secrecy Ruling in Twitter/WikiLeaks Case

Appeal Aims to Unseal Secret Orders to Other Internet Companies Richmond, VA - Fighting to make public Government efforts to obtain Internet users' private information without a warrant, today the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) plan to file an appeal in the legal battle over the records of several Twitter users in connection with the government's WikiLeaks investigation.

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No more back room deals -- Users must have a voice in governing the Internet

MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd gave an interview to the New York Times yesterday, in which "Mr. Dodd said he would welcome a summit meeting between Internet companies and content companies, perhaps convened by the White House, that could lead to a compromise. " While framed by the Times as his acceptance of defeat (the MPAA had rejected a prior meeting), the article shows that Dodd still doesn't get it.

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The Internet Spoke and, Finally, Congress Listened!

The misguided proponents of the disastrous Internet blacklist bills have blinked. Today, Senator Harry Reid announced he would postpone a cloture vote on PIPA scheduled for next Tuesday, which means, as a practical matter, that the bill is dead for now.  Shortly after that announcement, Representative Lamar Smith issued a statement conceding PIPA's evil House stepsister, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also wasn't ready for prime time.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Join EFF''s Senate Call-In Day and Tell Your Senator to Oppose PIPA

Yesterday's anti-blacklist legislation protests were fantastically successful - in the past 24 hours, key lawmakers have withdrawn their support for the proposed legislation or come out against it - but we still have a long way to go in the fight to stop SOPA and PIPA from becoming law. On Monday the 23rd, the Senate is back in session and scheduled to vote on PIPA the next day.

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Internet Blackout Day Fires Up Digital Rights Activism Around the World

Yesterday was a defining moment for the global Internet community. The effects of the massive online blackout in protest of U. S. Internet blacklist legislation, SOPA and PIPA (H. R. 3261 and S. 968), were felt around the world as countless numbers of websites, including Google, Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit, BoingBoing, Flickr, Wired, and many others joined in the global action against over-broad and poorly drafted copyright laws that would break the fundamental architecture of the Internet.

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After Historic Protest, Members of Congress Abandon PIPA and SOPA in Droves

Yesterday, in the largest online protest in Internet history, more than 75,000 websites altered millions of web pages to stand in opposition to SOPA and PIPA, the Internet blacklist bills. Some sites — Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing, Craigslist and others — completely shut down for the day, replacing their sites with material to educate the public about the bill's dangers. Others, like Google and Mozilla, sent users to a petition or action center to express their concerns to Congress.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thank You, Internet! And the Fight Continues

Today was a truly inspiring day in Internet history.  Working together, we sent a powerful message to Big Media and the misguided proponents of the Internet blacklist legislation: we will not stand idly by and let you hamper innovation, kill jobs, wreak havoc on Internet security, and undermine free speech.  Supporters of SOPA and PIPA say the Internet Blackout day was a "publicity stunt. "  We say it was a wake-up call.

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The Internet at its Best

Today, we watch in awe as the Internet rallies to fight dangerous blacklist legislation, the PROTECT-IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House. The originality, creativity, and magnitude of action we're seeing represents exactly what these bills would harm most: the value of a vibrant and open Internet that fosters these activities. As the day goes on, we will continue to update you on Twitter (@EFF) and in this space.

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Facebook Ploy to Criminalize Add-On Service Hurts Users and Innovation

EFF Urges Judge to Block Facebook's Dangerous Claims San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a district court judge Tuesday to block Facebook's attempts to criminalize an add-on service that helped users aggregate all of their social networking Data in one place.

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Singaporean Minister Meeting with MPAA to Discuss Anti-Piracy Legislation

As protests against the U. S. bills SOPA and PIPA sweep the world, Singaporeans are under threat of censorship from their own Government. According to Channel News Asia, Singapore Minister for Law K Shanmugam recently revealed that his ministry is in discussion with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) over piracy issues. At an event organized by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), Shanmugam reportedly stated: "We will have to work with the ISPs.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Inter-Parliamentary Union Condemns Government Investigation into Member of Iceland’s Parliament

For more than a year, Icelandic Member of Parliament and EFF client Brigitta Jonsdottir—along with security researchers Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp—has fought the efforts of the Department of Justice to force Twitter to give up information about their online activities.

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January 18: Internet-Wide Protests Against the Blacklist Legislation

Join EFF and websites across the world in protesting the dangerous censorship legislation currently pending in Congress.   On January 18th, EFF will join websites across the world in standing up against the proposed blacklist bills (SOPA in the House and the PROTECT IP Act in the Senate).   EFF is calling on websites to be part of the protest by blacking out their logos, posting statements opposing the bills, and linking to our action center.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

AT&T's new Cloud API Platform

This is a guest post by Travis Spencer, a Software engineer specializing in federation, SSO, cloud computing, Web services, & enterprise architecture.

This week, AT&T announced the release of a new API platform that is made up of various components designed to simplify mobile Web application development and utilize resources only available through them. Specifically, the new offering is made up of the following:

  • A number of RESTful cloud services such as device location, MMS, digital signing, and direct carrier billing
  • An application marketplace and distribution channel
  • A hosting environment for the HTML5 and server-side components used by applications running on the platform
  • SDKs for common development environments such as C#, PHP, Ruby, and Java that can be used to call the API
  • An HTML5 client-side SDK built atop Sencha Touch that abstract away the various mobile UI differences of Android, iOS, Blackberry and others while simultaneously simplifying the integration w/ their new cloud services

These are complimented by extensive samples, documentation, forums, on-line support, and a non-production environment where you can create an unlimited number of test applications.

After joining the developer program, you can use the portal to create applications. When you do so, you specify which services your application will use (as shown in the adjacent screenshot). If you are developing a mobile Web application w/ HTML5, the SDK for that platform greatly simplifies the process and reduces the effort required.

It does this using the architecture shown in the following figure. As depicted, an HTML5 application calls the new cloud API via a proxy (possibly hosted by AT&T). This intermediary hides the security of the API in a Sencha plug-in, simplifying the programming model clients must follow.

This JavaScript library ensures that a user has authorized an application to access her AT&T resources without having to share a username or password. It does this using a standard security protocol called OAuth, which many other APIs discussed previously on this blog also use. Because all calls to the API go through this proxy, the fact that the user has authorized the application can be maintained, ensuring that this step is only done once (or at least on an infrequently basis). After this initial call, the proxy will tack on a token to subsequent ones, proving the user has granted the application the right to use their resources. (See my other blog post for a deeper dive into the security of the API.)

Once the application is done, you can deploy it into production. After doing so, you can monitor it in the same management portal. The available reports show you API response time, number of MMS and SMS messages sent, the number of errors encountered, the number of payments made, and more. This type of data will help measure ROI, optimize future releases, and better design other applications. Once the app is live, it can also be submitted to the AppCenter (though not through the portal). This widget presents applications to AT&T subscribers right on their devices, helping market your inventions.

After digging into and toying w/ this new platform for a bit, I have to say I’m impressed. Not every mobile network operator could pull this off, especially to the extent and quality AT&T has done. Their use of an industry standard like OAuth, a common architectural paradigm like REST, and an extension to a popular framework like Sencha is very modern and appealing, which is unexpected coming from an industry where the opposite is often the case. These things together w/ the fact that the API exposes resources only available from the carrier itself, certainly make the API worth checking out.

from API Evangelist - Blog http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ApiEvangelist/~3/xUZ1FNfbO60/

How PIPA and SOPA Violate White House Principles Supporting Free Speech and Innovation

Over the weekend, the Obama administration issued a potentially game-changing statement on the blacklist bills, saying it would oppose PIPA and SOPA as written, and drawing an important line in the sand by emphasizing that it "will not support" any bill "that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet. " Yet, the fight is still far from over.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Switch From SimpleGeo Places, Let CityGrid Pay You to Use Ours

With Urban AirShip shutting down SimpleGeo there are many developers left with the decision of where to go next, to get their places data, as well as context, storage and geocoding services.

CityGrid does not provide context, storage and geocoding services, but we can provide rich places data that developers can use in their web and mobile applications.

Developers can make up to as many as 10 million queries a month for FREE, all you need is to register for a publisher code, and tell us a little about your application.

In addition to FREE access to over 15 million places, CityGrid provides millions of pieces of enhanced local content, including user reviews, deals and offers, photos and videos, social media details, menus, reservations and more.

Next CityGrid provides something you could not get with SimpleGeo places data--the ability to generate revenue from your mobile and web apps.  CityGrid provides webmobile and custom ads, developers can use to monetize their apps.  In addition to advertising you can be paid to just display certain places with CityGrid Places that Pay.

All you need to get started with CityGrid is a publisher code.  CityGrid APIs are RESTful and you can search for places using a geographic search or by longitude and latitude, an get search or places detail responses in either XML or JSON.

When looking for a replacement to your SimpleGeo places data, take a look at the CityGrid API, and rather than paying for your places data, let CityGrid pay you for using ours.

from Hack Education http://www.kinlane.com/2012/01/13/switch-from-simplegeo-places,-let-citygrid-pay-you-to-use-ours/