Sailfish OS Maker, Jolla, On Questing For Scale In The Age Of Android


“It’s not every day that a new mobile operating system is born,” says Jolla’s Marc Dillon preaching to a congregation of the curious from atop a stool at Jolla‘s booth at the 2014 Mobile World Congress. This is the world’s largest mobile industry gathering. The show which annually transforms Barcelona into a city of suits and queues and shiny things.

It’s a soapbox sales pitch from the new kid on mobile’s block. And it looks really good. The Jolla booth is sizeable, sited in MWC’s first (if not its main) hall, and buzzing with interested visitors when I drop by.

Dillon tells TechCrunch he’s getting up on this public soapbox once a day to introduce the Sailfish mobile OS to potential owners and partners. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind the scenes this fledgling smartphone and OS maker is taking a lot of meetings.

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Google Adds Full Restaurant Menus To Its Search Results Pages


Here is a small but nifty update to Google Search: if you ask it to find a restaurant menu for you, it will now often just show you the menu right on the search results page. Try this for a search like “show me the menu for fogo de chao” and the menu will be right there.


As far as I can see, this doesn’t work for every restaurant yet and it’s unclear where Google is getting this data from. Right now, the number of supported restaurants also seems to be limited. Most of my attempts to trigger the menu listings were actually unsuccessful, so your mileage may vary. The searches that did work tended to be for restaurants that are also listed on, so chances are this is where Google is getting its data from.

The only way to trigger this feature right now is to type…

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If You’re Going To Watch One Video Of A 3D-Printed Clock That Writes The Time, Make It This One


The machines. They are learning. The Plotclock is a small, 3D-printed clock that forgoes the traditional gears and springs for servos and an Arduino microcontroller. It writes the time. And then erases it. Then writes the time again, continuing forever even though the white board will quickly descend into a smudgy mess of partially erased ink.

It’s a simple device: One servo lifts the pen from its dock while the other two controls the arm movement. The instructions are served from an Arduino single-board microcontroller. The rest is magic.

As 3ders points out, all the files for the Plotclock are available on Thingaverse and GitHub. You can make this small device yourself or parlay it into a larger display that uses massive arms and a classroom-sized white board and sell it to some startup for part of their seed money.

More projects like these will appear as the price…

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These Tire Caps Change Color When Your Car’s Tire Pressure Gets Low


Quick! How’s your car’s tire pressure?

Don’t know? Better go check. Which, if you’re like most people, means going out, kicking the tire, saying “seems good” and forgetting about it until something is clearly wrong.

Here’s a damned clever alternative: tire caps that change color when the pressure gets too low.

While easily forgettable, tire pressure is actually kind of a big deal. When it’s too low, you’re wasting gas (low tire pressure = extra tire touching the ground = extra friction) and potentially overheating your tire. When it’s too high, you’re screwing up your traction and making it harder for your car to come to a stop. Either way is bad news.

Using a spring-loaded mechanism tucked inside of a sealed housing, a ring around the core of the cap changes from red, to black, to yellow depending on your tire’s pressure. Red means too low; yellow means too…

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Google Sets Example By Trying To Offset Perils Of SF Gentrification


While San Francisco’s gentrification issues aren’t solely caused by the tech boom, the tech industry should aim to help the communities impacted by the influx of money and people it has brought to the city. Yesterday’s donation by Google is a great example of looking out for one’s neighbors.

Google has given $6.8 million to fund two years of the Free MUNI For Low-Income Youth program that provides SF kids free bus passes to get to school, after-school classes, and work.

Let’s be blunt. A lot of people in SF and the Bay Area are mad at the tech industry. They’ve seen rents and prices for local goods and services rise as more high-paid tech workers move in. The cushy commuter shuttle buses provided to SF employees by South Bay tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook have become a lightning rod for this angst. Protests have blocked them and shattered…

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TSA Reportedly Demands To Inspect Man’s Luggage For Bitcoin


Davi Baker wasn’t quite sure how to comply with the TSA’s demands to inspect his bags for Bitcoin. Baker had found himself in a testy exchange with airport security personnel during an enhanced screening, and they wanted an additional search of his belongings.

“We saw Bitcoin in your bag and need to check,” he recalls the TSA agent saying in a lengthy blog post about the ordeal.

The problem is, of course, Bitcoin is a completely digital currency; it’s like if Delta banned you from traveling with your Facebook profile. Baker was admittedly snarky in response, asking “What did the Bitcoin look like?”, thinking it would be impossible to describe a nonexistent physical object.

The agents had a response: the alleged Bitcoins looked like tokens and since they told him it was illegal to travel with more than $10,000 in cash, the probe was warranted. It might be easy…

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A Few Thoughts On Free Windows


Hot damn, changes. ZDNet and The Verge reported on a story that, at first blush, sounds downright strange: Microsoft may do away with charging for Windows in the future.

Microsoft selling Windows to OEM partners is even more entrenched than apple pie is to Americanism. No more of that? It’s almost unthinkable.

However, once you get past the oddity of the concept, it can make sense if you approach it properly. Let’s do this in a section-list format for brevity:

1. Microsoft has made billions selling Windows to consumers through its OEM partners. It now also sells Windows to consumers on devices that it builds. This means it has new ways to monetize a New PC To Consumer.

2. The era in which Microsoft made the bulk of its Windows income is not now. Windows OEM revenue is falling. If it weren’t for corporate PC sales, the top line that…

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President Obama Launches New Program “My Brother’s Keeper” to Help Young Black and Latino Men


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

At an event that felt like a black church service at times, President Barack Obama spoke in deeply personal terms yesterday about growing up without a father and urged the entire country to get behind his newly-launched “My Brother’s Keeper” program to help young black and Latino men.  “I didn’t have a dad in the house and I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time,” the president said of his childhood, with 20 black and Latino boys standing behind him in the White House’s East Room.

He added,”I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short.”  But Obama said he was able to be successful because he had a mother, grandparents and teachers who would “push me…

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First Lady Michelle Obama to Appear in “Parks and Recreation” Season Finale to Promote “Let’s Move”


First Lady Michelle Obama speak as actress Amy Poehler, (L) listens during a visit to the Gwen Cherry Park NFL/YET Center on February 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. The visit was part of a celebration around the fourth anniversary of Lets Move!, her initiative to ensure that all our children grow up healthy and reach their full potential. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) First Lady Michelle Obama speaks as actress Amy Poehler, (L) listens during a visit to the Gwen Cherry Park NFL/YET Center on February 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida at a “Let’s Move!” event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — NBC’s Parks and Recreation is getting a stunning new cast member for a night: First Lady Michelle Obama.  According to the Associated Press, the first lady’s office says Mrs. Obama will appear on the show’s April 24th season finale.  The show’s Twitter account said it’s “time to get real about Pawnee’s obesity,” which is  a reference to Pawnee, Indiana, the fictional town where Parks and Recreation takes place, and the first lady’s campaign against child obesity.  Obama recently appeared in a comedy sketch on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon with Fallon and Will Ferrell also designed to promote “Let’s Move.”

Parks and Recreation star Amy Poehler helped…

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Singer Akon Aims to Bring Electricity to 1 Million Homes in Africa Through “Akon Lighting Africa” Initiative


Singer Akon. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Singer Akon has launched an ambitious endeavor that aims to improve the lives of over one million people in Africa.  His new initiative, “Akon Lighting Africa”, hopes to bring electricity to one million households by the end of 2014 to help promote energy sustainability and sufficiency throughout the continent.  “The lack of electricity is currently a major problem in Africa,” reads the website for the campaign. “A significant number of households in rural areas and even urban cities do not have access to electricity. This is a real obstacle to Africa’s Sustainable Development.”

Akon, who is Senegalese-American, has partnered with local charities and corporations to aid in the efforts of the campaign by addressing Africa’s energy issue and installing solar equipment in households.  The “Right Now” singer will travel and meet with leaders in nine countries in nine days to discuss the project including Senegal, Mali, Guinea Conakry, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Equatorial…

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