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January 31, 2011

AT&T, the iPad and the mysterious 3G data usage

Is something hinky going on with AT&T and its iPhone/iPad data usage and billing practices?

Electronista posted a story about a new federal class action lawsuit that claims AT&T is over-stating the data that iPhone/iPad users on its data plans.

The reason this story jumped out at me today is that I ran into a similar problem with my iPad using AT&T's 3G service. I signed up for the 250 MB plan a little more than a month ago and I started getting alerts as my coverage was starting to run low.

But what I found was that my 3G data plan, for which I was paying $15 monthly for, was apparently consuming data even while I was in the Wi-Fi hotspot zone of my house. In fact, my iPad was often less than 10 feet away from my Wi-Fi router as the data plan was winding down.

I didn't understand this behavior then, and I still don't. Somehow, my 3G data plan was being used even while I was clearly on my Wi-Fi network. I did not renew my 3G plan because of the mysterious data usage leak.

So, AT&T (and other iPad/iPhone users): is this really a problem?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:06 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: *NEWS*, Smartphones, Wireless

January 28, 2011

Howard County-based Internet video distribution startup raising millions

A startup named LiveTimeNet Inc., of Savage, Md., has filed to raise $5 million in its latest round of financing efforts, according to Securities and Exchange documents.

LiveTimeNet, which was founded in 2007, specializes in Internet video content transport and delivery, using its own nationwide managed IP network, according to its website.

It boasts that its service outperforms both satellite and terrestrial transport services. The firm has two patent applications for its technology. And it's raised millions in financing over the last two years. In its latest round of financing, LiveTimeNet is seeking to raise $5 million in equity, and has already raised $1.37 million.

Last year, it raised $3.5 million in equity financing. And in 2009, it raised $2.5 million, according to SEC filings.

Clearly, somebody sees something special in this company, which currently appears to consist of three executives: Malik Khan, co-founder, chief strategy officer and chairman of the board of directors; Yousef Javadi, co-founder, chief executive officer and president; and Professor Yair Amir co-founder and chief science officer.

All three men appear to be experts in broadband communications networks, and Amir is also a professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins University. Any companies out there using LiveTimeNet's services?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:21 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Venture Cap

January 26, 2011

InvestMaryland event starts 9 a.m. Thursday - watch live here!

InvestMaryland is an initiative by Gov. Martin O'Malley to use state tax revenues -- to the tune of $100 million over five years -- from the insurance industry to fund venture capital investment in Maryland technology companies.

The goal of the initiative, which still has to be debated and approved by the General Assembly this year, is to fuel a self-sustaining cycle of investments in early-stage businesses in the state. The problem, many believe, is that there isn't enough money in the private sector for investment in early stage businesses -- hence the reason why public policy makers want to prime the pump, so to speak.

For a full rundown of the program, read my article here.

On Thursday, Jan. 27, the O'Malley is hosting "InvestMaryland" day in Annapolis, where business leaders and tech geeks will gather to discuss and presumably promote the plan. Below, you can watch a live video feed of the proceedings, starting at 9 a.m. Tune in if you care.

Watch live streaming video from ChooseMaryland at

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Events (Baltimore area), Government Tech, Venture Cap

Big news: Baltimore city opens up data spigot

Big news today out of Baltimore: the long-anticipated (by this blog) release of data sets by the city has finally arrived.

There's crime data, 311 data, tax data, parking citation data -- and much, much more. The data is available at this site:

What's cool about this new site is that it doesn't only allow you to view the data. Programmers and hackers and web geeks can export the data and come up with their own presentation methods for displaying the data.

What do you think? I want to see the mash-ups that get created with this data. Ping me if you plan on doing interesting things with it:


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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:04 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech, Web Dev & Apps

January 25, 2011

Former MedStar CEO pushing a startup, JournalDoc

Fresh off the presses at the Securities and Exchange Commission comes a disclosure about a new Chevy Chase firm called JournalDoc. Inc. I have no idea what JournalDoc is all about (if you can find any trace of it on the Internet, please help a reporter out), but UPDATE: JournalDoc, apparently, is a part of Nelson Information Systems Inc. in Chevy Chase, and is a "a customized medical-information database for doctors," according to a local site. (Thanks to "Allison," a reader who sent me the Patch link.)

I noticed that one of the people involved in the company is John P. McDaniel, the former CEO of MedStar Health, based in Columbia. McDaniel is listed as a "promoter," or founder, of JournalDoc. McDaniel, who stepped down as MedStar CEO in 2008, had at one point been considered to lead the University of Maryland Medical System.

He is currently chair of Washington Real Estate Investment Trust. He was also a past board member of 1st Mariner Bancorp, Ed Hale's bank in Baltimore.

JournalDoc filed a notice declaring that it intends to raise $1.5 million in equity funding. Others listed in the JournalDoc filing including John M. Nelson, of Chevy Chase; James Nelson, of Old Greenwich, Conn.; and Peter Seaver, of Kalamazoo, Mich. Bloomberg BusinessWeek lists a man named Peter Seaver in Kalamazoo as someone who is a founder of a consulting/investment firm called the Apjohn Group LLC.

[To see the full SEC Form D disclosure, hit the jump page...]

UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION Washington, D.C. FORM D OMB APPROVAL OMB Number: 3235-0076 Expires: June 30, 2012 Estimated Average burden hours per response: 4.0 Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities 1. Issuer's Identity CIK (Filer ID Number) Previous Name(s) x None Entity Type 0001492772 x Corporation o Limited Partnership o Limited Liability Company o General Partnership o Business Trust o Other Name of Issuer JournalDoc, Inc. Jurisdiction of Incorporation/Organization DELAWARE Year of Incorporation/Organization x Over Five Years Ago o Within Last Five Years (Specify Year) o Yet to Be Formed 2. Principal Place of Business and Contact Information Name of Issuer JournalDoc, Inc. Street Address 1 Street Address 2 4740 CHEVY CHASE DRIVE City State/Province/Country ZIP/Postal Code Phone No. of Issuer CHEVY CHASE MARYLAND 20815 301 913 2808 3. Related Persons Last Name First Name Middle Name Nelson John M. Street Address 1 Street Address 2 6616 Millwood Road City State/Province/Country ZIP/Postal Code Chevy Chase MARYLAND 20815 Relationship: x Executive Officer x Director x Promoter Clarification of Response (if Necessary) Last Name First Name Middle Name McDaniel John P. Street Address 1 Street Address 2 13032 Highland Road City State/Province/Country ZIP/Postal Code Highland MARYLAND 20777 Relationship: o Executive Officer x Director x Promoter Clarification of Response (if Necessary) Last Name First Name Middle Name Seaver Peter Street Address 1 Street Address 2 1708 Embury Road City State/Province/Country ZIP/Postal Code Kalamazoo MICHIGAN 49008 Relationship: o Executive Officer x Director x Promoter Clarification of Response (if Necessary) Last Name First Name Middle Name Nelson James Street Address 1 Street Address 2 3 Tomac Place City State/Province/Country ZIP/Postal Code Old Greenwich CONNECTICUT 06870 Relationship: o Executive Officer x Director x Promoter Clarification of Response (if Necessary) 4. Industry Group o Agriculture Health Care o Retailing Banking & Financial Services o Biotechnology o Restaurants o Commercial Banking o Health Insurance Technology o Insurance o Hospitals & Physicians o Computers o Investing o Pharmaceuticals o Telecommunications o Investment Banking o Other Health Care x Other Technology o Pooled Investment Fund Travel o Other Banking & Financial Services o Manufacturing o Airlines & Airports Real Estate o Lodging & Conventions o Commercial o Tourism & Travel Services o Construction o Other Travel o REITS & Finance o Other o Residential o Other Real Estate o Business Services Energy o Coal Mining o Electric Utilities o Energy Conservation o Environmental Services o Oil & Gas o Other Energy 5. Issuer Size Revenue Range Aggregate Net Asset Value Range x No Revenues o No Aggregate Net Asset Value o $1 - $1,000,000 o $1 - $5,000,000 o $1,000,001 - $5,000,000 o $5,000,001 - $25,000,000 o $5,000,001 - $25,000,000 o $25,000,001 - $50,000,000 o $25,000,001 - $100,000,000 o $50,000,001 - $100,000,000 o Over $100,000,000 o Over $100,000,000 o Decline to Disclose o Decline to Disclose o Not Applicable o Not Applicable 6. Federal Exemption(s) and Exclusion(s) Claimed (select all that apply) o Rule 504(b)(1) (not (i), (ii) or (iii)) o Rule 505 o Rule 504 (b)(1)(i) x Rule 506 o Rule 504 (b)(1)(ii) o Securities Act Section 4(6) o Rule 504 (b)(1)(iii) o Investment Company Act Section 3(c) 7. Type of Filing x New Notice Date of First Sale 2010-10-28 o First Sale Yet to Occur o Amendment 8. Duration of Offering Does the Issuer intend this offering to last more than one year? o Yes x No 9. Type(s) of Securities Offered (select all that apply) o Pooled Investment Fund Interests x Equity o Tenant-in-Common Securities o Debt o Mineral Property Securities o Option, Warrant or Other Right to Acquire Another Security o Security to be Acquired Upon Exercise of Option, Warrant or Other Right to Acquire Security o Other (describe) 10. Business Combination Transaction Is this offering being made in connection with a business combination transaction, such as a merger, acquisition or exchange offer? o Yes x No Clarification of Response (if Necessary) 11. Minimum Investment Minimum investment accepted from any outside investor $ 25000 USD 12. Sales Compensation Recipient Recipient CRD Number o None (Associated) Broker or Dealer o None (Associated) Broker or Dealer CRD Number o None Street Address 1 Street Address 2 City State/Province/Country ZIP/Postal Code State(s) of Solicitation o All States
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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:01 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Startups

Use your next generation iPhone, iPad as a digital wallet?

The buzz today is that Apple is reportedly planning to include Near Field Communication technology (NFC) into the next generation of its iPhone and iPad.

NFC, in case you don't know, enables devices to share information between each other at close proximity, around 4 inches. In practical scenarios, your iPhone could become your digital wallet, using NFC technology that links to your bank account and can be used at point-of-sale terminals. Imagine swiping your iPhone at the WalMart register.

For some quick and dirty background on NFC, check out this wiki.

NFC has possibilities for improving ease-of-use in mobile and electronic ticketing, electronic money payments and transfers, and multi-device communications.

Some wonder if Apple is making a play for the mobile payments market, in a way that could cut out the credit card companies. Apple has millions of subscribers to its iTunes service, and it wouldn't be a huge technological leap to use NFC and connect their users via their accounts on PayPal. MG Siegler of TechCrunch, hypothesizes.

I'm sure Visa and Mastercard would remain on the cutting edge of NFC technology, too.

But imagine a world where you're using an iPhone to buy real stuff, not just virtual goods such as music and videos, and Apple becomes the entity that's enabling the purchase. I don't know how I feel about that.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:03 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*, Big Ideas, Smartphones

The problem with 3D

Walter Murch, one of the most respected film editors of our time, crafted a very interesting perspective on why 3D doesn't work for the human brain and eye.

Roger Ebert, renowned film critic, published Murch's opinion on his blog. Take a look here:

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 9:37 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas

January 24, 2011

Twitter advertising to triple in 2011

Attention Maryland marketers and advertisers:

Heard the news? Twitter supposedly is going to attract roughly triple the advertising revenue this year, at $150 million -- compared to $45 million last year. An article in eMarketer had some numbers, including a forecast that Twitter will grow through 2012 to encompass $250 million in ad revenues.

What I want to know from Maryland companies is: Are you going to advertise through Twitter this year?

Twitter's seems to be rolling with its "promoted tweets" feature, but it's unclear -- to me, at least -- how effective its product is for advertisers.

Twitter is no where near the size of Facebook in terms of ad revenue, but eMarketer forecasts that Twitter could become bigger than MySpace in coming years. I guess that's not saying much, though.

So will Twitter become a more robust platform for advertisers and marketers? And if it does, will the increased presence of ads just annoy users who want less "noise" in their Twitter experience?

Part of the monetization challenge for Twitter is that corporate America generally does find it to be a useful communication tool for engaging customers and protecting their "brands," but how can Twitter make money off such a usage pattern?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 2:39 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Social Media, Startups

O'Malley's plan to jump-start venture capital in Maryland


It's not every year we get to see a big plan for small start-ups in Maryland. But that's what Gov. Martin O'Malley will be unveiling today, with his "InvestMaryland" proposal. It's a $100 million infusion over the next five years of state tax revenues into small Maryland-based, technology-based startups. It's not a total giveaway of revenue; rather, the state will be taking stakes in dozens of small companies over the next several years, and then hopefully, watching their investment grow as these companies grow and raise more money, merge, get acquired or go public with an IPO.

I took a close look at the plan in this article over the weekend. Below are the opening paragraphs:

Hoping to spur jobs, innovation and economic growth, Gov. Martin O'Malley wants to tap tax revenue to invest $100 million in fledgling technology, life sciences and other companies across the state.

O'Malley, a Democrat, plans to unveil details of the "Invest Maryland" program Monday as a centerpiece of his economic agenda in this year's General Assembly session. The state would invest in small businesses and start-up companies — partially through the dormant Maryland Venture Fund — and would reap both the risks and rewards.

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January 21, 2011

Sleep apnea device maker raising big bucks in Glen Burnie

NovaSom Inc., formerly Sleep Solutions Inc., a maker of a home-based sleep apnea testing devices filed a notice today with the SEC that shows it intends to raise $15 million in debt, and is already more than halfway toward its goal.

What's sleep apnea? It is "a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep." It can cause a ton of other health complications if not treated.

Most sleep apnea studies take place in a clinic or hospital setting and involve use of special devices, but are conducting over the course of one night's sleep. NovaSom's device is meant to be used in the home over the course of several nights, and the company says the home setting contributes to more accurate diagnoses.

The company says it works with physicians and insurers to prescribe the use of its device. It claims it's been used to test 60,000 people so far.

The market for sleep apnea diagnostic equipment sales is potentially vast, since it's a problem for many who have trouble sleeping but don't ever get a diagnosis. An estimated 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but NovaSom believes 85 percent haven't been diagnosed.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:20 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

Baltimore's "tremendous potential as a smarter city"

I just finished browsing the IBM Smarter Cities report on Baltimore (update: which was made possible online by the industriousness of Nick Judd, writing about it for the site techPresident. Nick got a copy of the report and put it online.)

IBM used Baltimore as a guinea pig for an initiative it's undertaking to analyze how well 100 cities are performing when it comes to using and sharing information and data. Then the brains at IBM unleashed a slew of suggestions for how Baltimore can better manage information and data, with a focus on public safety, youth services and general information technology infrastructure.

If anything, the report is a sober analysis of the tough challenges that our city government faces in striving to make complicated information systems better (and simpler?), while at the same time dealing with stark budget constraints.

At 163 pages, the report is a little dense, but it makes for some interesting reading if you're a public policy or government management wonk. Among the findings, the IBM'ers agreed with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake transition report that recommended doing a better job of centralizing the city's information technology functions.

The challenge for political leaders is picking the battlefronts that should be fought to implement these changes, and ranking their priority based on budget realities, I'd say.

It ranked the city at the bottom of a pyramid it used to show how far along it was in terms of development of a strategic I.T. approach. Below is the pyramid:


Here's the full report, via Scribd, if you choose to hack your way through it. It's actually a good way to get a little knowledge of how some parts of our city government works, what it's already doing well, and what it can do better:

Smarter Cities Challenge_IBM

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:48 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Big Ideas, East Coast, Government Tech

Google launching Groupon competitor


You're probably thinking: Gosh, you know what I REALLY NEED right now from the Web? Yet another site that wants to send me daily deals on everything from discounted pedicures to half-off prices at the local deli.

Well, folks, you're gonna get it: Multiple online news outlets are reporting that Google is planning on launching a Groupon competitor. Google failed at buying Groupon so apparently now it's introducing its own service to try and kill it.

It reportedly will be called "Google Offers."

The mad race for Google, Groupon and other big companies is for the local advertising market. Some big companies want to be the ones to crack the hyperlocal advertising and deals market, because it's worth potentially billions and no one's really tapped it on a grand scale.

Despite Google's failure at buying Groupon (for a reported $6 billion, I think), I would expect to see some major consolidation in the market in a year's time. There are, my guess, scores of Groupon clones out there, including a local one in Baltimore called Chewpons.

Hit the jump for the story I wrote about Chewpons in December.

Chewpons wants a bite of restaurant daily deals
Baltimore website starts local service for restaurants and consumers to compete with national players

December 7, 2010

Adam Marks is founder of, which sells discount coupons for local restaurants. A portion of his sales is donated to charity.
The full page archive is off line if no image is showing. Please try later.
Luring customers to his Little Italy restaurant in a tough economy has been a top preoccupation for Tony Gambino, owner of Ciao Bella. Most advertising is expensive and has upfront costs, so Gambino has turned to what is becoming one of the hottest new marketing tools: the Web-based daily deal.
It's a business model made famous by websites like Groupon, which send out daily deal announcements to e-mail subscribers who are hungry for deals and savings.Enter Chewpons, a Baltimore-based firm that launched last week. It's the latest competitor in a growing industry brimming with local and national players - and one Gambino is keen on using.

"The economy is down in the dumps; advertising is expensive," said Gambino, who sold more than 50 Chewpons coupons, which pitched $40 worth of food for $20, since last week. "It's a more affordable, more feasible way to advertise. It brings revenues in and gets people here."

Chewpons partners with local advertisers - mainly restaurants - who offer discounted coupons for deals that typically range from 50 percent to 90 percent off. Consumers can subscribe to the daily e-mails, follow Chewpons on social media websites, and share the deals with friends for additional savings.

One twist that Chewpons founder Adam Marks uses to differentiate it from competitors is that a small percentage of each customer's daily deal purchase goes to a charity. The charity can be chosen by the restaurant, or the money may go to Chewpons' "house" charity, the Maryland Food Bank.

Marks, a 44-year-old sales and technology veteran based in Reisterstown, believes Chewpons will attract more people who are looking for good local restaurant finds, but who are also attracted to the charitable aspect of the site.

Consumer interest in daily deals for restaurants is coinciding with a national uptick in the restaurant industry. The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index rose to a three-year high in October. Restaurants experienced higher same-store sales and customer traffic in October than in previous comparable periods.

At the moment, daily deal websites are a hot topic in technology, marketing and investor circles. Groupon reportedly turned down a $6 billion acquisition from Google and could go public next year. Another large competitor, LivingSocial, recently received a $175 million investment from Internet retailer Amazon.

Groupon, LivingSocial and now Chewpons are pursuing relationships with local businesses and consumers. Google, Facebook, Amazon and other big Web businesses have long sought to make deeper inroads into local advertising markets for revenue growth.

Marks trademarked Chewpons five years ago and initially ran a Web-based coupon-printing business. But as the daily deal industry heated up over the past year, Marks shifted gears and re-launched the website as a daily deal competitor. The service is focused on the Baltimore area, and eventually will offer deals to customers in other parts of Maryland and perhaps nationally, he said.

Chewpons is staying focused on restaurants, whereas other competitors focus on a broader range of deals from retailers and service providers.

So far, Chewpons has offered daily deals from Ciao Bella in Little Italy, Jilly's in Pikesville and Mr. Charles Market in Owings Mills.

Chewpons keeps about half the upfront cost of the deal, which is common among daily deal sites. For instance, if a customer buys a $20 coupon for $10, Chewpons will keep $5, a small percentage goes to charity, and the rest goes to the restaurant.

"This is starting in Baltimore," said Marks, who has a handful of employees. "This is a local business supporting local businesses and local charities. This is Baltimore. Our goal is to build and own this state."

Groupon sets a minimum limit for daily deals to encourage group buying and the spread of the deal through social media channels. At Chewpons, however, there is no minimum limit for customers to take advantage of a deal.

Restaurants, however, can limit the number of coupons that are available. Marks said that restaurants are attracted to such deals because they can get customers in the door who will likely bring others with them, and spend more money.

"When he presented it to us with the percentages and numbers, it seemed like a pretty good way to get people into the restaurant, to get some business here," said Gambino, from Ciao Bella.

Groupon, LivingSocial and similar companies already operate in Maryland. But Marks thinks his local company can compete with them.

"The goal for Chewpons is to build its [e-mail] database as large as possible," Marks said. "If the database is large, then it becomes a numbers game. You can compete with Groupon."

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:02 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Social Media

January 18, 2011

Apple: Steve Jobs on medical leave

apple-steve-jobs.jpgSome distressing news: Apple CEO Steve Jobs, perhaps the most heralded CEO of this last decade, is taking a medical leave of absence, according to the company yesterday.

This is a sad turn of events for Jobs, who had a liver transplant and in the past suffered from pancreatic cancer. Of course, his taking leave has wider ramifications potentially for Apple, which is firing on all cylinders and has never been in better shape.

John Gruber, popular Apple blogger at Daring Fireball, counsels that there's nothing to panic about. Though Jobs is a charismatic and high-profile leader of Apple, the company has a deep bench and has endured a long absence by Jobs before, Gruber says.

Today, Apple is supposed to announce its fiscal '11 first quarter results, and analysts are predicting another blow-out period for the company. This good news would temper a dip in Apple's stock today, which saw a 5 percent drop on the CEO's medical news. (Stock markets were closed yesterday when Apple announced the news -- smart.)

But there's no reason to think Apple won't continue to be on a roll for many more quarters to come as it innovates on its iPhone and iPad products, which are market leaders. But how much do Apple consumers relate with -- and trust -- the (product) wisdom of Steve Jobs? Millions of people love their iDevices and seem to appreciate the carefully cultivated image of Steve Jobs as benevolent dictator of the Apple brand.

If Jobs gets to a point where he can't even be involved in high-level executive decisions, will the company be able to develop and launch its next innovative, category-creating product -- the way it did the iPad?

The masses seem content with their iDevices and the choices Jobs makes when bringing them to market. I'd say it's an interesting relationship to say the least. What will happen in the long-term if Apple doesn't have their CEO as their greatest pitchman?

I'm actually pretty confident that Apple will be on a roll for a long time to come, even if Jobs ends up cutting ties with the company because of his health. I say that because it seems Apple has really refined the methods and process of product creativity, innovation and go-to-market strategies. This takes more than a charismatic leader, but a deeper institutional know-how and corporate DNA that's been infused in the company over the past decade.

Thousands of its employees drink the "Kool Aid" so to speak, in a good and profitable and beneficial way. This is one of Jobs' legacies as a corporate leader. He's got people who work for him who are completely committed to the enterprise.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:07 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: *NEWS*

January 13, 2011

CreateBaltimore: This Saturday, for creatives, techies, entrepreneurs and more


Too bad it's sold out -- or maybe that's good news.

"CreateBaltimore" is a participant-led conference that's taking place this Saturday at MICA. What do I mean by "participant-led"? Basically, those who are attending get to set the agenda and discussion in the sessions during the day. About 200 people will be there.

These types of conferences have their roots in the tech community, where they're generally known as "un-conferences." They should be less stuffy, more freewheeling and creative, and hopefully, have attendees leaving more satisfied that they've been engaged for hours at a time.

From CreateBaltimore's website:

CreateBaltimore is a participant-created conference for artists, cultural workers, entrepreneurs, and technologists interested in building a creative community in Baltimore.

The conference starts at 10 a.m. You can get on the waiting list here.

If you're going, try tweeting under the #createbmore hashtag.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:26 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*

10-20 Media raises $800K to continue home and garden data venture

10-20 Media, a Howard County firm, this week raised $800,000 in debt financing, which it will apparently be pouring into its business as a "home and garden marketplace data aggregator," according to an SEC filing this week.

The company has an iPhone app called GardenPilot, which puts 14,000 choices of flora from multiple retailers into the hands of consumers. It also builds online tools that helps retailers show off their offerings on their websites.

The $800,000 round is the latest of multiple investments in 10-20 Media over the past two years. The company has raised a combined $1 million in debt through three previous filings.

By the way, the term 10-20 is a trucker/CB radio term signifying your location.

Below is a snapshot of the Garden Pilot app.


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January 12, 2011

Facebook to distribute Amber Alerts

On the surface at least, this looks like a bright idea. Facebook is expected to detail tomorrow a partnership to distribute AMBER alerts to its community of hundreds of millions of users, according to PC Mag and the Inside Facebook blog

Facebook is partnering with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The devil is in the details. How will the notifications work and what information will be made available, and how often? Will they generate good leads, or mass hysteria? We'll have to wait and see.

But already, police departments across the land -- including Baltimore's -- are aggressively using Facebook to post updates about crime and public safety issues for their communities. The platform could become a very powerful tool for tracking down missing children, though, considering how quickly news, information and photographs can spread virally on the site.

Facebook's announcement on this topic is happening through a live video feed here, in Washington DC. Or watch below:

Watch live streaming video from facebookdclive at

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 12:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*

The Daily Show takes on the Verizon iPhone 4

Simply hilarious:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Verizon iPhone Announcement
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:29 AM | | Comments (1)

January 11, 2011

Verizon iPhone is real -- and it's coming Feb. 10


Big news today: Verizon Wireless will soon start selling the iPhone 4. The Verizon homepage has been updated to include the iPhone 4. Apple's homepage has it, too.

Verizon will be selling the 16 GB version for $199 with a two-year plan, starting Feb. 10.

I'm checking to see the details on the monthly plans that are offered... the rumor was that Verizon would offer an unlimited data package to differentiate itself from AT&T, which offers tiered/capped plans.

This is a huge move for Apple and for Verizon. And there's a good chance that Google's Android platform, which has gained major steam on Verizon's network, will be dealt a setback as there's likely a large pent-up demand of Verizon customers who've been lusting after the iPhone, but have until now, settled for Android.

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:16 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: *NEWS*

January 10, 2011

Facebook shutting down? Um, no.

Alright folks.... who started the rumor?

You know the one I'm talking about: that Facebook is supposedly shutting down its service on March 15th (hmmm, beware the Ides of March, anyone?)

It was a hot rumor all weekend, apparently. And when I got to the office this morning, people were still talking about it on the Interwebs. Yahoo, CNN, Mashable and other online news sources weighed in on the rumor and did their job to discredit it.

No matter that Facebook reportedly had just gotten an infusion of $500 million of investment capital from Goldman Sachs and Russia's Digital Sky Technology.

I thought it was stupid and silly from the get-go. The only interest I really have in the rumor is how it got started. I bet some sleuther can trace the rumor back to its genesis, but don't expect me to do it. I'm busy sipping my coffee and reading the real news on a Monday morning.

Speaking of real news (haha): Anybody believe the rumor about Verizon bringing the Apple iPhone to its network?

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Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:04 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: *NEWS*

January 8, 2011

Mario Armstrong's CES wrap-up: the best and worst

Mario's final broadcast is dedicated to the best & worst finds at the 2011 Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas over the past several days.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:00 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets

January 7, 2011

Mario Armstrong at CES: Gadgets, Gaming, Computers, Home Tech

Watch today at 1 p.m. EST. Latest updates from Mario Armstrong at CES. And at 5 p.m., Mario talks coolest startups, emerging tech, and auto tech.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets

January 6, 2011

Opening day at CES with Mario Armstrong, 2 pm and 5 pm

Mario Armstrong leads opening day coverage of the Consumer Electronics show in Vegas at 2 PM EST. Then he's back at 5 p.m. for more coverage, of green gadgets, wireless tech, and tablets.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:00 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets

Apple opens an app store -- for the Mac

The App Store for the iPhone/iOS platform has been a huge success for Apple and a trend-setter in the world of mobile devices. Now the company is trying to replicate that model for its desktop and laptop computer business.

Today, Apple announced that it had opened the Mac App Store for business, with more than 1,000 free and paid apps. You can launch the store on your computer with a software download at

The Mac App Store follows the iPhone App Store revenue model, meaning that app developers keep 70 percent of sales revenues, while Apple gets the rest.

This will be an interesting experiment for Apple and developers, who sell their software through other channels online and keep more of the revenues/profits for themselves. Yet, consumers who are seeking a streamlined, authenticated experience through an official Apple storefront may find the Mac App Store attractive.

But will the developers bite on it?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:21 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: *NEWS*, Apps

January 5, 2011

Marketing agency MGH tweaks competitors in a print ad


Mind you, I have nothing to do with advertising at the Baltimore Sun, but this is too juicy to not comment on:

MGH, a marketing firm, took out a full-page ad in the Monday paper to highlight its expertise in social media marketing. (See above) In an eloquent bar graph, MGH depicted its Facebook fans (aka "likes") at 2,174 -- far more than 10 other competing agencies.

MGH basically called them out, by name. Yowza! Of course, I first learned of this on MGH's Facebook page, which had attracted some great discussion on the ad, so they must be doing something right -- and hey, one could argue the ad worked to a certain extent. It got people talking. Some even wondered why a modern marketing agency bothered advertising in the "declining" Baltimore Sun. Ouch. Hey - don't shoot the messenger, folks.

But it gets better: Matthew Pugh, who works at R2integrated, the firm with the second most fans, laid down a challenge on MGH's Facebook page, which MGH apparently accepted. And Baltimore Social Media Club jumped in on the action! All we need is a steel cage, Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Ms. Elizabeth to crash the event!

Here's part of the exchange on the MGH Facebook page clipped below:


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 3:40 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Social Media

Day 1 at CES with Mario Armstrong: the pre-game show

Today at 4 pm: Mario Armstrong takes us on a tour of what to expect at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 1:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, Gadgets

Baltimore biotech Gliknik raises $3.5 million


More good news for a Baltimore startup today: Gliknik Inc., which is based in the University of Maryland BioPark, announced that it completed a $3.5 million equity financing raise. The money was raised over the course of the past seven months, the company said.

Gliknik is a biopharmaceuticals company that plans on using the new funds to initiate a clinical program in autoimmune diseases for its Stradomer platform, which are recombinant drugs. The company is working to create new treatments for cancer and immune disorders.

"An infusion of investor funding highlights a growing vote of confidence as we continue to develop new therapies for patients with cancer and autoimmune/inflammatory diseases," said David S. Block, Gliknik's president and chief executive officer. (Block is pictured above.)

Over the past six months, Gliknik has also received an additional $1 million in competitive grant funding from a federal program, a U.S. Army subcontract, and a Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development research award.

Gliknik also announced that it received a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for one of its drug programs for fighting cancer.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: *NEWS*, BioTech, Entrepreneurs & Risk Takers, Research, Venture Cap

Millennial Media, hot on mobile ad trail of Google/Apple, raises $27.5 million

Pictured: Millennial Media co-founders: Chris Brandenburg (left) and Paul Palmieri

Millennial Media, a Baltimore startup that's a top player in the growing mobile advertising industry, said Wednesday it raised $27.5 million in new investments from several venture capital firms, which it will use to continue to fund its growth.

The new funding round was Millennial's largest since it was founded more than four years ago. It has raised more than $65 million from investors. The new money comes from several existing investors in Millennial, including Bessemer Venture Partners, Columbia Capital, Charles River Ventures and New Enterprise Associates.

The company said that it plans to use the new equity investment to fund the company's global growth plan this year. It also plans to build on its acquisition of TapMetrics, a mobile analytics company it acquired last year, and consider additional acquisitions this year.

The new funding comes as Millennial, which is competing toe-to-toe in the mobile display advertising market with Google Inc. and Apple Inc., said it tripled revenues last year, though the privately held company does not disclose specific revenue figures.

A recent report by market research firm IDC showed that Millennial had 15.4 percent of the mobile display advertising market, behind Google (19 percent) and Apple (18.8 percent). Mobile display ads are showed to cell phone users while they are perusing other content, usually on mobile websites.

The company says its mobile ads reach more than 85 percent of mobile users in the United States. The total mobile ad market was estimated at more than $1 billion last year, and is expected to grow quickly over the next few years.

The mobile ad market attracted Google and Apple, who have both bought competitors of Millennial for hundreds of millions of dollars. Several months ago, Millennial was rumored to be in acquisition talks with Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry smart phones, but the negotiations reportedly fell through.

Paul Palmieri, Millennial's chief executive and co-founder, sees the mobile advertising industry applying to many different kinds of devices, from smart phones and tablet computers to appliances.

"The mobile model continues to expand beyond the phone, and is becoming the new, device based Internet via apps on everything from refrigerators to tablets to televisions," Palmieri said in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.

Millennial currently has offices in New York, London, and San Francisco, plus sales offices in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

January 4, 2011

Mario Armstrong: BaltTech's guide to Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in Vegas, baby!

The annual Consumer Electronics Show is kicking off in Las Vegas this week, and local/national tech commentator Mario Armstrong is going to giving live updates from the convention floor. For those who don't know, CES is where tons of new gadgets are released and pitched every year, from stuff that will actually go on sale to concept products that manufacturers are still tinkering with.

We'll be embedding Mario's live video feed here everyday, so tune in. Most broadcast times start in the afternoon, so grab some lunch or a cup of coffee, and waste some time at work (but at least look like you're working hard, you slacker.)

Here's Mario's schedule:

* Weds. Jan. 5th 1-2p PST (4 pm EST):
THEME: Pre-CES show consisting of CES overview, what to expect, behind the scenes, press announcement news etc…

* Thurs. Jan. 6th 11a-12n PST (2 pm EST):
THEME: Opening Day consisting of previous nights CES Unveiled event and top 3 gadgets from Unveiled, show will cover news & announcements.

* Thurs. Jan. 6th 2p-3p PST (5 pm EST):
THEME: Green Gadgets, Wireless & Tablets

* Friday Jan. 7th 10-11a PST (1 pm EST):
THEME: Gadgets, Gaming, Computers, Home Tech

* Friday Jan. 7th 2-3:30p PST (5 pm EST)
THEME: Coolest startups, Emerging Tech, Auto Tech

Saturday Jan. 8th 1:30p-3p PST (4:30 pm EST)
THEME: BEST & WORST of CES -- totally dedicated to the best & worst finds

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 11:42 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Big Ideas, Gadgets, Wireless

Eye-Fi: send your pics from your fancy DSLR camera to your iPhone

eye-fi-card.pngI own a pricey DSLR camera, a Canon, that I hardly ever use because I'm always snapping pics with my iPhone and emailing them to friends and family, or uploading to Facebook or Twitter.

It's a trend in digital camera usage that has shifted for thousands, if not millions, of people, as cell phone cameras have gotten better and the social networks we feed with pics circumscribe our lives.

That's why I never really paid much attention to Eye-Fi's photo memory cards that could upload photos from your camera to your computer or the Web (via a Wi-Fi network.) The product just didn't offer enough instant-gratification for me.

The truth is, my Canon was getting dusty, while the iPhone became the main photo workhorse in my house. I was hardly uploading pics from my Canon to computer anymore, maybe a half-dozen times a year.

But today, Eye-Fi announced a new product development called Direct Mode (which will be available later this year). And it may encourage me to do two things: 1) actually buy an Eye-Fi product and 2) persuade me to use my DSLR camera in conjunction with my iPhone to take photos and share them on the Web, wherever I am. It just might make my camera relevant again.

The new Eye-Fi cards (starting at $49) offer the "ability to transfer high-resolution pictures or videos directly and wirelessly from their camera to their smartphone or iPad within seconds," according to a company press release that landed in my inbox today.

So, basically, I can carry around my Canon, shoot great pics, effortlessly upload to my Iphone and then share with the world? That sounds like as good as it's gonna get in the realm of digital photography and mobile devices, unless the DSLR makers completely redo the guts of their cameras and embed them with cellular transmitters and GPS chips.

Well played, Eye-Fi. Well played.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:54 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Gadgets

January 3, 2011

Baltimore's tech community and its rising political voice

I've been keeping this blog for about 18 months now, and I've noticed one overarching trend during this time in Baltimore: the "tech" community is expanding and pulling in excited people from all walks of life in the metro area. Social media (Facebook/Twitter, mainly) are connecting locals more than ever before.

Perhaps most importantly, the still-relatively-small community of tech/social media geeks are organizing for different goals, from business-oriented networking events to social projects. The fact that such organization is happening, so efficiently and quickly, leads me to believe in one thing: the Baltimore tech community is developing its own influential voice -- so much so that politicians are noticing.

It may not be one unified voice. But great power potentially resides in those who know how to maximize the use of technology and the Internet.

It is nowhere more apparent than last year's local effort to organize a Baltimore application for the Google Fiber for Communities project. It started as a grassroots effort that grew to the point where it made sense for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to embrace it. Suddenly, Baltimore was gussying itself up trying to impress Google, a West Coast company who's looking to build a spanking-new fiber optic network as a test bed for new technologies.

(We also shouldn't forget how, statewide, the tech community organized to defeat passage of a tech services tax a few years back -- one of the organizers was Tom Loveland, Baltimore's "Google Czar.")

Now we see another step in the political awakening of Baltimore's tech community: Dave Troy's endorsement of mayoral candidate Otis Rolley on Jan. 1. Troy (pictured) is a Maryland Renaissance man, dabbling in various entrepreneurial and startup projects, public/social endeavors, and big-idea thinking. He's got the business chops and the technology chops to make stuff happen, and increasingly, he's paying attention to who's politically in charge. (And politics watcher Adam Meister is now watching him.) Troy helped pull together Baltimore's Google Fiber effort, along with Tom Loveland.

And Dave, mind you, is well-connected to geeks across the land, not just Maryland. Geeks know how to work the Internet and social media -- and political candidates like Rolley and Rawlings-Blake, I think, recognize that they'll increasingly need the geeks in their corner.

President Barack Obama tapped the geeks for his campaign, with great success.

"[T]he use of the Internet for political and community organizing will usher in an era of unprecedented change in American cities," Troy writes. He says of Rolley:

I support Otis Rolley in his candidacy for Mayor of Baltimore in 2011. At 36, Otis is part of the new guard. He’s qualified – he has a masters’ degree in City Planning from MIT. He has been in Baltimore since 1998. He served 10 years in the public sector and two in the private sector. As an executive, he led the Baltimore City Department of Planning and – shockingly – produced the city’s first actual master plan in 39 years.

If more geeks, in addition to Troy, break Rolley's way, we could see a very interesting and robust Internet-based campaign season break out in Baltimore for the mayoral election later this year.

Rawlings-Blake, for her part, has pushed for more transparency in city government using technology. The last we heard, her administration is working to unveil large sets of data from city agencies that will give the public -- and eager tech geeks -- material to create new Web mashups that inform the public about government operations.

For more info:

* Rolley's Website.

* Rawlings-Blake's Website.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

Amy Webb bringing Awesome to Baltimore


Hey, Happy New Year!

Did you catch the Q&A I did recently with Amy Webb, digital media consultant with Webbmedia Group in Baltimore? She's bringing something called the Awesome Foundation here to Baltimore. And she's an interesting and ambitious individual to boot.

Read on:

Amy Webb believes in the power of awesomeness so much that she wants to bring some to Baltimore.

As the founder of Webbmedia Group, a Baltimore-based digital media consulting firm, Webb moves in technology circles, where the idea for the Awesome Foundation originated.

The Boston-based foundation, begun in 2009, is encouraging the creation of chapters around the world. The idea is that a "dean" and 10 trustees at each chapter give $1,000 grants every month to a project in their community that they deem, ahem, awesome. Each board member is required to donate $100 a month to fund the grants.

Webb is the dean of the Baltimore chapter and is now recruiting trustees to help her fund Baltimore-based community initiatives each month.

A graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Webb is a former reporter for Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal in Asia, where she covered emerging technology. When she's not volunteering on boards and organizing events in the digital media world, she's advising corporate, nonprofit and government clients on how to harness the power of the Web and social media.

In a recent interview with The Baltimore Sun, Webb talked about the Awesome Foundation, her work and technology trends.

Question: Tell us about the Awesome Foundation. What's it about?

Answer: Rather than trying to reward people for huge projects that could take a long time to implement or ultimately not work out, the idea is to give people a chance to come up with something creative that somehow makes the city more awesome. The way we think about it is if the MacArthur Foundation had micro-grants to award for geniuses.

It's not a gigantic initiative. It's a way to help creative communities flourish and bring creative ideas into a city. People feel excited about the project. A thousand dollars is not a ton of money, but it's meant as a way to help get ideas off the ground.

Q: Why did you want to bring it to Baltimore?

A: Baltimore has a very strong tech community and urban development community, but I feel these groups are siloed. Or they're painting in broad strokes, and it has taken a long time to get simpler initiatives off the ground. I really, really like this city a lot. And I would like for others to see it as I do, versus it being seen as a hiccup on [Interstate] 95 between Washington and New York or, worse, [perceived as] "The Wire."

This city has a lot going for it. I would like to help the people in this city who are hyper-creative themselves.

Q: How does the group function?

A: This is not one of those things where we'll go out and approach foundations. I've had all these groups come forward and say they want a seat on the board. This is about 10 trustees and one dean who sit on the board. It's about handing someone an envelope of cash with no strings attached.

We meet once a month and we go through the proposals. We'll try to have a launch party each month. [We want] to bring different groups of people together who are doing great things.

Q: Are there any trustees to announce?

A: We're not ready. We're still in the process of putting people on the board.

We have four seats right now that are still available. But I can tell you the people we have lined up are awesome Baltimoreans. This is really intended for Baltimore City. The people who are trustees have to live in the city and be part of the fabric of the city.

Q: Since you work in media, would you be interested in seeing good local ideas for improving news and information resources in the community?

A: Absolutely. As someone who is a veteran of the industry and now is a consultant, I would love to see ideas that help Baltimore's media community and news and information. We're looking for things that will be tangible and doable.

Q: Tell us a little about your business advising companies on using the Web and social media. How is it going?

A: People started asking me how to do stuff. Five years ago, I launched a consulting business. It was just me, but the business grew so quickly I had to hire people. We work with a number of large clients. We do training for media, for parts of the federal government, foundations. We work with large PR and communications firms. We also do strategic advising.

It has really grown. And Baltimore is the base.

Q: Looking back on 2010, what were some key pieces of advice you found yourself sharing with media outlets? What were the major themes?

A: Try social media. Do you know what Foursquare is? Have you used Twitter? The reason people say "no" is they claim they don't have time, but you have to know how these things work, why they work, and why they're attractive and appealing to people.

Social networks are fundamentally changing the way we think and communicate. The biggest piece of advice is to pick a network a week and learn the fundamentals. None of this is so complicated that you can't grasp it. And then you can stop using it. But at least have the lexicon.

I tell everybody to put aside $10 a month and make that your allowance for downloading mobile apps. ... Too many people have smart phones, but they're not taking full advantage of what the phone has to offer. It's changing business strategy and a whole bunch of other things. For cost of two cups of coffee at Starbucks, that should give you at least one new app a week.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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