All posts in “Software”

Cambassy lets you be your country’s digital ambassador

Cambassy is a new app that lets you share the favorite things about your town, city, or country. You can think of it as a sort of breadcrumb travelogue that you leave behind for others to find and lets you include phots, tips, and comments about your favorite locations.

Created by Khalid Twaim and Omar Rabea, the company one a pitch-off in Oman and showed their early versions at Disrupt in Berlin. The current version is available for iOS and Android.

“Cambassy is similar to Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, and Instagram in terms of travel inspiration,” said Twaim. “Cambassy inspires users to travel too but the inspiration is through people from their country which is a new way of inspiring.”

“The Cambassy team found difficulty in finding great content for travel destinations around the world. While tourism information was widely available, content from people who work, study, or travel abroad was not available,” said Twaim. “We were missing travel ambassadors, hence the name Cambassy (Camera + Embassy), and users who represent their country are called Cambassadors.”

The project is still in its early stages but it already has images in a few countries including Austria and Paris. It’s a clever idea and should be an interesting addition to the standard suite of travel apps.

Twitter COO Anthony Noto resigns to become SoFi CEO

Twitter COO Anthony Noto has left the company, Twitter announced Tuesday. Noto’s leaving because he accepted a CEO role elsewhere, according to the release. Just last week, the WSJ reported that Noto was mulling the top executive job at finance startup SoFi, and indeed SoFi confirmed today that he’s joining effective March 1.

Regarding Noto’s Twitter departure, CEO Jack Dorsey expressed respect and appreciate for the departing executive’s work at the social network, and sadness at his leaving.

Noto’s role will be filled by “other members of Twitter’s leadership team,” according to the company, which makes it sound like there are no immediate plans to name a new COO in his stead.

Prior to joining Twitter, Noto acted as a banging director of Goldman Sachs, and also as CFO of the NFL. He jointed Twitter in 2014 under then-CEO Dick Costolo, and has been cited as one of Twitter’s most important executives by many company observers.

SoFi lost its previous CEO, Mike Cagney, late last year, as he was pushed out following sexual harassment allegations. Noto will take over leadership of the load refinancing startup from interim CEO Tom Hutton when he starts in March.

Snapchat will now let you share some Stories outside the app

There’s no getting around the fact that Snapchat has a user growth problem, so it’s smart that the company is making it easier for people who like and use Snapchat to share content they find within beyond the app itself. Today, Snap is launching the ability to share some public Stories via links that then display the Story selected on

Stories eligible for sharing right now include those Official Stories and Our Stories found in the Discover tab, as well as Search Stories, though Snapchat says those are just what’s included “at launch,” which indicates that the types of Stories you could share will expand over time. This feature is also going live to anyone running the redesigned Snapchat app as of today, which includes test markets like Australia and Canada, and will become available for iOS and Android over the next few weeks to the rest of the world as the redesign expands globally.

Snap says that part of its motivation for launching this feature is to allow users to share content from within the app to demonstrate to people who aren’t already on the platform what it can do. It’s also aiming to make it easier for outside parties, including media outlets, to incorporate Snap-based content in their reporting. That suggests that while this feature is launching as a simple link that leads to a web-based replica of the in-app Story, eventually the plan could also involve more embed-friendly formats, similar to what Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have rolled out for their respective platforms.

  1. Fire Example – Story on

  2. Concert Example – Story on

Already, Snapchat Stories shared directly via some platforms will support in-line playback, including on Twitter, using the same web link. Also, on Facebook, you’ll see a link to the full content along with a preview, similar to how YouTube video sharing works on the platform. Snap also says that for now it’s not running Snap Ads on the web-based versions of shared stories, but that it isn’t totally ruling out monetization strategies for shared content.

While in some ways external sharing of Snapchat Stories is counterintuitive to the app’s focus on ephemerality, Snap has built that in to its sharing mechanism, too. Our Stories will last only 30 days outside of Snapchat, even via the link, for instance, and Search Stories will also expire after 30 days. Official Stories will only remain live for 24 hours – so each external share has an expiry date, which could be an interesting challenge for those looking to use them to support stories and content that outlast the Snapchat Stories themselves.

How to price cryptocurrencies

Predicting cryptocurrency prices is a fool’s game yet this fool is about to try. The drivers of a single cryptocurrency’s value are currently too varied and vague to make assessments based on any one point. News is trending up on Bitcoin? Maybe there’s a hack or an API failure that is driving it down at the same time. Ethereum looking sluggish? Who knows: maybe someone will build a new smarter DAO tomorrow that will draw in the big spenders.

So how do you invest or, more correctly, on which currency should you bet?

The key to understanding what to buy or sell and when to hold is to use the tools associated with assessing the value of open source projects. This has been said again and again but to understand the current crypto boom you have to go back to the quiet rise of Linux.

Linux appeared on most radars during the Dot Com bubble. At that time, if you wanted to set up a web server, you had to physically ship a Windows server or Sun Sparc Station to a server farm where it would do the hard work of delivering HTML. At the same time Linux, like a freight train running on a parallel path to Microsoft and Sun, would consistently allow developers to build one-off projects very quickly and easily using an OS and toolset that were improving daily. In comparison, then, the massive hardware and software expenditures associated with the status quo solution providers were deeply inefficient and very quickly all of the tech giants who made their money on software now made their money on services or, like Sun, folded.

From the acorn of Linux an open source forest bloomed. But there was one clear problem: you couldn’t make money from open source. You could consult and you could sell products that used open source components but early builders built primarily for the betterment of humanity and not the betterment of their bank accounts.

Cryptocurrencies have followed the Linux model almost exactly but cryptocurrencies have cash value. Therefore when you’re working on a crypto project you’re not doing it for the common good or for the joy of writing free software. You’re writing it with the expectation of a big payout. This, therefore, clouds the value judgements of many programmers. The same folks that brought you Python, PHP, Django, and Node.js are back… and now they’re programming money.

This year will be the year of great reckoning in the token sale and cryptocurrency space. While many companies have been able to get away with poor or unusable codebases I doubt developers will let future companies get away with so much smoke and mirrors. It’s safe to say we can expect posts like this one detailing Storj’s anemic code base to become the norm and, more important, that these commentaries will sink many so-called ICOs. Though massive, the money trough that is flowing from ICO to ICO is finite and at some point there will be greater scrutiny paid to incomplete work.

What does this mean? It means to understand cryptocurrency you have to treat it like a startup. Does it have a good team? Does it have a good product? Does the product work? Would someone want to use it? It’s far too early to assess the value of cryptocurrency as a whole but if we assume that tokens or coins will become the way computers pay each other in the future. This lets us hand wave away a lot of doubt. After all, not many people knew in 2000 that Apache was going to beat nearly every other web server in a crowded market or that Ubuntu instances would be so common that you’d spin them up and destroy them in an instant.

The key to understanding cryptocurrency pricing is to ignore the froth, hype, and FUD and instead focus on true utility. Do you think that some day your phone will pay another phone for, say, an in game perk? Do you expect the credit card system to fold in the face of an Internet of Value? Do you expect that one day you’ll move through life splashing out small bits of value in order to make yourself more comfortable? Then by all means buy and hold or speculate on things that you think will make your life better. If you don’t expect the Internet of Value to improve your life the way the TCP/IP Internet did (or you do not understand enough to hold an opinion) then you’re probably not cut out for this. NASDAQ is always open, at least during banker’s hours.

Still will us? Good, here are my predictions:

Here is my assessment of what you should look at when considering an “investment” in cryptocurrencies. There are a number of caveats we must address before we begin.

  • Crypto is not a monetary investment in a real currency but an investment in a pie-in-the-sky technofuture. That’s right: when you buy crypto you’re basically assuming that we’ll all be on the deck of the Starship Enterprise exchanging them like Galactic Credits one day. This is the only inevitable future for crypto bulls. While you can force crypto into various economic models and hope for the best, the entire platform is techno-utopianist and assumes all sorts of exciting and unlikely things will come to pass in the next few years. If you have spare cash lying around and you like Star Wars then you’re golden. If you bought bitcoin on a credit card because your cousin told you to then you’re probably going to have a bad time.
  • Don’t trust anyone. There is no guarantee and, in addition to offering the disclaimer that this is not investment advice and that this is in no way an endorsement of any particular cryptocurrency or even the concept in general, we must understand that everything I write here could be wrong. In fact, everything ever written about crypto could be wrong and anyone who is trying to sell you a token with exciting upside is almost certainly wrong. In short, everyone is wrong and everyone is out to get you so be very, very careful.
  • You might as well hold. If you bought when BTC was $18,000 you’d best just hold on. Right now you’re in Pascal’s Wager territory. Yes, maybe you’re angry at crypto for screwing you but maybe you were just stupid and you got in too high and now you might as well keep believing because nothing is certain or you can admit that you were a bit overeager and now you’re being punished for it but that there is some sort of bitcoin god out there watching over you. Ultimately you need to take a deep breath, agree that all of this is pretty freaking weird, and hold on.

Now on with the assessments.

Bitcoin – Expect a rise over the next year that will surpass the current low. Also expect bumps as the SEC and other federal agencies around the world begin regulating the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies in very real ways. Now that banks are in on the joke they’re going to want to reduce risk. Therefore the bitcoin will become digital gold, a staid, boring, and volatility proof safe haven for speculators. Although all but unusable as a real currency, it’s good enough for what we need it to do and we can also expect quantum computing hardware to change the face of the oldest and most familiar cryptocurrency.

Ethereum – Ethereum could sustain another few thousand dollars on its price as long as Vitalik Buterin, the creator, doesn’t throw too much cold water on it. Like a remorseful Victor Frankenstein, Buterin tends to make amazing things and then denigrate them online, a sort of self-flagellation that is actually quite useful in a space full of froth and outright lies. Ethereum is the closest we’ve come to a useful cryptocurrency but it is still the Raspberry Pi of distributed computing – it’s a useful and clever hack that makes it easy to experiment but no one has quite replaced the old systems with new distributed data stores or applications. In short, it’s a really exciting technology but nobody knows what to do with it.

Toyota and Lexus vehicles will finally start getting CarPlay this year

Toyota has been a holdout from CarPlay, Apple’s in-dash infotainment system that works with your iPhone. The automaker and its luxury brand Lexus have yet to offer it in any models, despite most other car companies giving in on at least a few vehicles (which tends to later to broader rollout thereafter).

The new 2019 Toyota Avalon will have CarPlay on board, however. The vehicle was unveiled today, and Toyota confirmed that it’ll have support for Apple’s system at launch. No mention of Android Auto, unfortunately, which could mean Google mobile OS smartphone fans are still out of luck for the foreseeable future.

Toyota announced that Alexa would be coming to some of its vehicles via the Entune 3.0 (Toyota) and Enform 2.0 (Lexus) infotainment system updates, but now we know that CarPlay will also be part of the package on these stems for some vehicles going forward. It’s not yet clear how many 2019 year models will include CarPlay support, or whether this will also be coming to older vehicles that are getting the Entune 3.0 and Enform 2.0 updates.

Automakers seem to have been reluctant to allow both Android Auto and CarPlay on their platforms initially, but most are coming around – and I’m willing to bet customer feedback is a big reason why.