Fancy 6 Months Free In The Italian Alps Building Startups? Check Out TechPeaks

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A new kind of tech accelerator has launched in one of the more unlikely places: the Italian Alps. TechPeaks (see what they did there?) calls itself a “People Accelerator” because individuals and teams will be able to join it without an idea but a desire to build something. It will launch with €13 million in funding. It’s also taking more of a partnership rather than competitive approach, working with seven Technology Universities (via the European Institute of Innovation and Technology ICT Labs) and seven other international tech accelerators, listed here. The idea is to help unite the many fragmented European tech initiatives. And oh my are they are fragmented.

TechPeaks says it will have connections to the local tech university in Trento and its research centre, as well as up to €200,000 equity matching funds post-programme. We covered the region’s amazing initiatives here.

Individuals or teams with “deep technical or design” expertise can apply before April 5th and – if selected – get six months free housing, free food and a free office in the Italian Alps, plus support to get visas there if needed. Doesn’t sound bad, huh?

In terms of funding, it’s low, but comes in the form of a €25,000 grant, not equity, which might be attractive to some given that none of it needs to go for costs like office space. The €25,000 non-equity grant is made possible because Techpeaks is backed by the Trentino region of Northern Italy which wants to grow the technology ecosystem in the area.

The programme also boasts that it will have access to 40+ mentors from all over the world — the UK, US, and Russia, as well as companies like Jawbone, Eventbrite, UberVu, Zemanta, Barkbox in NYC.

Drew Nagda, Director of Corporate Partnerships for Lean Startup Machine – a partner – says the programme will use using lean methodologies.

The idea is reminiscent of the Startup Chile initiative, which offered various incentives to attract technology entrepreneurs and made a lot of noise while it did it.

Key organiser Evan Neilsson tells me: “We decided there was a void in the industry between universities and accelerators. We’ll accept Individuals and Teams. Hackers, designers and product people are applying from Russia, E. Europe, Balkans, Italy, and some from the United States. If you come with a business already, you focus on that business, but some people might love your product and would like to join you. Or you can come alone and after a month form a team with the others there and start building something new.”

Carlos Eduardo, partner of Seedcamp thinks TechPeaks is an “ambitious idea” and thinks the main challenge for it will be how to achieve the best results and convert “bright talented individuals into great founders of startups.” However he feels it has the “potential to really boost the European startup ecosystem and
motivate people, so we are very supportive.”



Google Translate For Android Gets Offline Mode With Support For 50 Languages

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Google Translate is a very useful tool for when you are travelling internationally but sadly, that’s also the time when you are least likely to have an always-on connection to the Internet. Obviously, there are a number of offline translation apps available, but if you are partial to Google Translate and you use an Android phone, you’ll be happy to hear that the latest version of the Google Translate app for Android (2.3+) now lets you download offline language packages for about fifty languages.

You can now simply select [Offline languages] in the app menu and see all the language packs available for download. You just need to download the language packs for the two languages you want to translate between and you are good to go. Google notes that these packs are “less comprehensive than their online equivalents,” but even a smaller dictionary is more useful than not having one at all.

Google also offers a Translate app for iOS, but it’s not clear when (or if) this version will get an offline mode, too.

While the offline mode is obviously the main feature in this new version, the app now also allows you to translate vertical text in Chinese, Japanese and Korean with your camera. Google added support for using camera input to translate texts last August and added basic support for translating Chinese, Japanese and Korean this way last December. This could be a killer feature for Google Glass, too, and it’d be a surprise if the Google Translate team wasn’t working on this already (especially given that Google Translate’s Josh Estelle is already a Glass user and that Translate has made some cameo appearances in Google’s Glass promo videos).

How To Run Your Own Web SMS Portal With PointSMS

How To Run Your Own Web SMS Portal With PointSMS

This tutorial will show you how you can set up an SMS web site on CentOS using PointSMS.

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Fortumo Adds Windows Phone Support To Let Developers Offer Carrier Billing For In-App Purchases

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Fortumo, the mobile payments company that puts carrier billing in the hands of developers, has announced that its brought its in-app payments solution to Windows Phone — a move that it claims makes it the only third-party payment provider to offer cross-device integration via a single SDK for payments on Windows 8, Windows RT and (now) Windows Phone.

That may be true. However, it should be noted that competitor Bango signed an agreement with Microsoft as far back as April 2012 to provide carrier billing for users of Windows Phone Marketplace.

Today’s newly announced support for Windows Phone shows that Fortumo is putting its full weight behind the Microsoft Windows desktop/tablet/mobile ecosystem. Or at least hedging its bets alongside Android and HTML5. Last October it claimed first-mover advantage by offering Windows 8 app developers (including Windows Store apps running on Windows RT and Microsoft Surface tablets) a way to get in on the carrier-billed in-app purchasing action, with support in around 80 countries and 300 mobile operators — a feature that we noted at the time is particularly relevant in emerging markets where credit card take-up is significantly lower.

For end-users, Fortumo says that using its system, payments can be completed with 2 clicks and without leaving the app, which it claims leads to more conversions. The U.S./Estonian company is also sounding bullish on the Windows Phone platform as a whole.

In a statement, Martin Koppel, co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Fortumo, said: “With Windows Phone we are seeing a repetition of what happened when Android launched –- developers who were initially cautious in porting their apps to the new operating system are starting to see Windows Phone as a viable source of revenue.”

Which, if true, means that Fortumo now stands to benefit. That’s just as well. In February, the company added around $10 million more of funding to its coffers, courtesy of Intel Capital and Greycroft Partners.

Microsoft is also talking up the news and putting some money behind it. With the support of Redmond, Fortumo will process payments for free when developers integrate in-app payments for Windows 8 or Windows Phone by May 31st, 2013.

Eventful 2.0 Gives Its 20M Users A Personalized List Of Everything Going On Nearby

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It’s not going to win any beauty pageants, but Eventful 2.0 could make sure you never get bored. It’s racked up 20 million registered users and shows of 4 million events at a time, but with today’s big relaunch Eventful gets personalized thanks to your Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, and Last.fm data. That lets it show you concerts you’ll love, along with movie times, conferences, festivals and more.

Event discovery is getting crowded with tons of new mobile-first apps, but Eventful’s been in the game since 2004. While others often only show the events they can make money off selling you tickets for, Eventful’s ambitious goal is to index every event on Earth. To do that it’s built a stable of thousands of data sources to create what it calls the world’s most comprehensive event directory.

With great data, comes great responsibility to curate, though. Eventful at one point tried using human editors to hand-pick the best events, but CEO Jordan Glazier tells me that didn’t work because his app’s audience ranged from “hipsters to moms with kids to empty nesters and everything in between.”

So instead Eventful set out to learn everything it could about its users to build a powerful personalization algorithm. Now when you first login to Eventful 2.0 for iOS, it lets you pull in your iTunes, Spotify, and/or Last.fm data along with your Facebook interests. The result is much better live music recommendations, which is critical since 70% of the events listed in the app are concerts. It also watches what artists, venues, and other things you check out to suggest similar events in the future, and you can thumbs up and down events to actively teach the app’s algorithm.

The whole design of Eventful has been overhauled too. Open it and you’re centered on a “For You” tab of nearby events it thinks you’ll like. I was impressed with its accuracy, as it actually surfaced numerous upcoming concerts I either already had tickets for or would love to go to. It even knew that while Oakland is the city over from where I live in San Francisco, I love the rock band Japandroids enough to drag myself across the bay to see them play a small club show.

There’s also tabs for the most popular concerts in your area, movie times (which is pretty unique for an event app), and an “Events” tab that lets you drill down into nearly 30 specific categories like ‘family’, ‘food’, ‘museums’, and ‘outdoors’. You can sot any of the tabs by ‘all events’, ‘today’, ‘this week’, and ‘this weekend’ if you’ve got a certain night you’re trying to fill. You can also view results on a map, and filter them to only show events in a certain radius of your location. One of Eventful’s biggest strengths is that it’s global, so it can get you entertained no matter where you are, unlike many event apps that only work in a few major markets.

Eventful’s biggest problems are its design and ticket purchasing. The app looks decidedly 2010. Lots of dead space, exposed buttons, and tiny images crammed into a dull list view. Its design is bush league compared to modern mobile event apps like WillCall with its glossy images, and Applauze’s dynamically expanding tiles. Eventful gets the job done, so if you’re all about utility you won’t mind, but the look won’t make you want to browse it for pleasure. And beyond the standard sharing features, Eventful lacks any sort of native social notification system to tell you when friends have signed up for a show, which would have helped with reengagement.

The commerce experience is pretty crummy too. While most concerts boast ticket links, they just open your Safari browser to the StubHub homepage. Glazier tells me this is due to constraints and API shortcomings of its ticketing partners. Still, Applauze managed to build StubHub purchasing directly into the app, and WillCall handles its own ticketing inventory so you can instantly buy tickets to something that looks fun. Those apps don’t have Eventful’s catalog, but still.

The 65 -person San Diego company luckily has nearly $20 million in funding, led by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, so developing an active user base may be more important that juicing monetization. To that end, the update has worked, as Glazier tells me it has boosted engagement by 40% for testers. The startup plans to port the redesign and personalization features to its Android app, and has already integrated them into its website and emails.

In the end, Eventful 2.0′s personalization is a big step forward. However, I’d mostly rely on it for event discovery, not purchasing, so it may be missing out on serious revenue. Most people find themselves stuck on the couch watching TV or diddling around on the Internet way too much. Sometimes all it takes is knowing there’s a party in your neighborhood to get you out of the house, and for that, Eventful delivers.

Download Eventful 2.0 for iOS or check out its website for event recommendations.

Yankees extend reign as MLB’s most valuable team: Forbes

(Reuters) – The New York Yankees are Major League Baseball’s (MLB) most valuable team for a 16th consecutive year, coming in at more than triple the league’s average value, according to a survey released by Forbes on Wednesday.