Database admin company Datavail raises $47M round led by Catalyst

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Datavail, a company that offers database administration for enterprises, took in a $47 million investment led by Catalyst Investors, the VC firm announced today. Tahosa Capital,  Lumerity Capital Partners, and Boulder Ventures also contributed to the funding round that gives Datavail a total of $60 million in venture funds.

Catalyst’s Tyler Newton and Susan Bihler, alongside Tahosa’s Derek Pilling, joined Datavail’s board.

MIT Researchers Train An Algorithm To Predict How Boring Your Selfie Is

MemNet Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) have created an algorithm they claim can predict how memorable or forgettable an image is almost as accurately as a human — which is to say that their tech can predict how likely a person would be to remember or forget a particular photo. Read More

Star Wars Spoilers! The Force Awakens lacks a single original idea, and you will love it anyway

Been there. Done that.

This is a review of the new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens.” I’ve just seen it. If you haven’t and are still attempting to avoid spoilers, then move along.

With that disclaimer out of the way…

The new Star Wars movie is everything I hoped and feared it would be. With J.J. Abrams at the helm, “The Force Awakens” is a nostalgia-laden callback that recycles nearly every single Star Wars plot device and trope.

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Which is too bad because there are many great things about the movie that get buried under this avalanche of un-originality. The new characters are compelling. The old ones (Leia, Han, Chewie), are used in compelling and interesting ways. And the look and feel of the movie matches the original trilogy, leaving the cold, digital mode of the prequels in the dust.

The problem is that the essential plot takes every single plot point of old Star Wars movies and re-uses them. Basically, our heroes have to blow up the Death Star. That’s right, the baddies, the so-called “First Order,” have built ANOTHER DEATH STAR! Except this one is really, really, really, really, really, really, really big.

Which leads someone in the Resistance (formerly known as “The Rebel Alliance”) to call this monstrosity: Starkiller Base. Seriously. I mean, didn’t at least of the writers on this movie gag a little when they said that name out loud?

Also: Blowing up another Death Star? That’s an idea so tired that George Lucas used it twice already.

The way they do it is, well, pretty much the way they always do. Someone has to lower the shields! And so, Han Solo leads a group down onto the Starkiller planet thingy where they have to sneak into the station that powers the shields and plant explosive devices around it. Just like in “The Return of the Jedi!”

There is a confrontation between a father figure and son (a la Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi) that ends in a somewhat similar fashion. But the explosives go off, and sorta do the job.

But then a bunch of X-Wing fighters still have to finish the job. One even skims along a trench to get into position to blow the whole thing. I mean, COME ON!

The Starkiller Base is run by a general who doesn’t get along with Darth Vader, er, Kylo Ren. And the damn thing is even destroyed just a split second before it’s about to fire on the Rebel Base. I mean, the Resistance.

As a side note, there is now a Republic and there is the First Order, which is sorta the warmed up leftovers of the old Galactic Empire. And then there’s the Resistance, which is attacking the First Order and is supported by the Republic. But honestly, it’s all oddly confusing just how these groups relate to each other.

To rewind a bit, the plot kicks with another retread: There is an important piece of information tucked in a droid that’s marooned on a desert planet. Said droid just so happens to fall into the hands of a youngster, Rey, who just so happens to be super-duper in the ways of the Force (though she doesn’t know it yet).

Kylo Ren is the new Darth Vader. He was a Jedi who being trained by Luke Skywalker, but turned to the darkside and helped destroy all the other Jedi. Luke went to be a hermit somewhere (just like Ben Kenobi!) and now everyone is looking for him. Because, he is their only hope (just like Ben Kenobi!).

Along the way, the new female lead, Rey, is trapped on a big ship where she’s being tortured by Kylo Ren (just like Leia in Star Wars!). Fortunately, Han and Chewie sneak aboard to rescue her (etc., etc., etc.)

Sprinkled throughout all of this are endless references to pluck at the heartstrings of middle-aged suckers like me: Han makes a trash compactor joke; Finn (a stormtrooper who deserted and is now helping Rey), accidentally switches on that virtual chessboard thing on the Millennium Falcon; Rey has a dream sequence just like Luke did in “Empire Strikes Back.”

The problem with turning the nostalgia-meter to full-throttle is that it continually takes you out the movie you’re actually watching and makes you think of movies you’ve already seen.

And again, this is too bad. Because the action and the performances and quality of dialogue are quite high. There are moments when people in the audience were crying thanks to the heartfelt scenes. Learning about all that happened to Leia and Han since we last saw them is genuinely heartbreaking.

Bottom line: This is essentially the movie that I feared we would get ever since it was announced that Abrams would direct. This is just the sort of over-borrowing he has pulled in his most recent movies.

“Super 8” was good, but also just a ripoff of E.T. and 1980s-era Steven Spielberg. “Star Trek Into Darkness” was a remake of “The Wrath of Khan” with a twist. Both have the same problems as the new Star Wars movie: They recycle old ideas and hammer your nostalgia glands to death.

With 8,000 Star Wars movies currently in development, let’s hope that somewhere along the line that someone stumbles across a fresh plot. With an infinite number of books having been written and fan fiction, there has to be something we haven’t seen on the screen, right?

Of course, none of this will influence your decision to see this movie or not see it. You really have no choice.

In fact, I’m going to just hit the brakes and stop my ranting here. Because I’ve got tickets to go see it again and need to leave shortly.

See what I mean? Resistance is futile! Oh wait, sorry. That was Star Trek.

New TrustRadius marketing automation report uses updated scoring algorithm

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TrustRadius has a new report out today — its 2016 Buyer’s Guide to Marketing Automation. The company, known for user reviews of software in various technology categories, has recently faced concerns that its reviews may be skewed, as vendors encourage their biggest advocates to review their software.

So what’s different about this report?

This is the first guide using TrustRadius’ new trScore algorithm, which aims to provide greater transparency with regard to reviews. This is similar to changes in consumer product reviews, many of which now indicate whether a review has been incentivized in some way. Not only does the new trScore provide greater transparency, it also modifies the way vendor-driven reviews are weighted compared with unsolicited reviews.


TrustRadius chief executive Vinay Bhagat said in a statement about the new algorithm, “There continues to be lively communication and debate around the authenticity and trustworthiness of consumer reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon and others. We believe this discussion is also very relevant to the B2B arena — perhaps more so given that the stakes for a technology selection are so high.”

The content of the report is otherwise familiar.

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It includes a definition of the software category, tips from marketers who have used marketing automation, and changes to the industry. The report also includes individual reviews of 20 vendors.

The emphasis on user reviews remains TrustRadius’ core value proposition. Other reports — from Forrester, Gartner, IDC, and others — are based more on user surveys, vendor surveys, or more qualitative interviews. Our own reports, including on Marketing Automation, are based on a combination of quantitative user and vendor surveys, as well as briefings and more qualitative interviews.

Marketing Automation spending plans

The majority of marketing automation users are planning to spend as much, or more, on marketing technology in the coming year, and many new users are adopting the technology for the first time. With more vendors than ever, the need for trusted research is growing. User reviews help TrustRadius scale its research efforts and, the company believes, allow it to position itself as trustworthy and unbiased.

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Central Coast Angels Makes Substantial Seed Investment into Santa Cruz Start-up, Inboard Technology


SANTA CRUZ, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–December 16, 2015–

Central Coast Angels, an investment group formed with the objective of providing capital and mentorship to entrepreneurial companies in the Monterey Bay region, has backed personal electric transportation leader Inboard Technology.

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Inboard's M1 Electric Skateboard with headlights (Photo: Business Wire)

Inboard’s M1 Electric Skateboard with headlights (Photo: Business Wire)

The group, made up of over 20 members who meet monthly to evaluate start-up companies, identified Inboard as an ideal company for investment. “Inboard’s first product offering, the M1 electric skateboard, will be part of the next wave in personal transportation,” said Ed Colligan, member of the Central Coast Angels, and former President and CEO of Palm. “Their product, brand and management team, many of whom are action sports experts, are a perfect fit for Santa Cruz. We believe they have an excellent opportunity to build a diverse product line and scale into a major personal electric transportation company in our region.”

“Having Central Coast Angels, who are located in our backyard, as investors and advisors is an invaluable asset,” said Ryan Evans, CEO of Inboard Technology. “It’s great to see they share our vision for the potential of personal electric lightweight transportation, and have the resources and expertise within their team to help us bring our broad product line to market.”

Central Coast Angels was founded in 2013 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to the Monterey Bay region that share a vision of increased opportunity for the people who live here. They provide early-stage financing to select innovative companies who are building businesses located in the region.

Inboard Technology Inc. was founded in 2014 and is at the forefront of the emerging personal electric transportation space. They are known for their feature rich products and a design aesthetic unmatched in the market today. Inboard Technology is based in Santa Cruz, California.

Central Coast Angels
Bobbi Burns
[email protected]
Inboard Technology
Nate Appel
[email protected]

Microsoft pulls Windows 10 Mobile update after users hit snags

Microsoft has pulled an update to Windows 10 after users reported a wide variety of issues with the upgrade process, according to a post on the company's Answers technical support forum. The patch, which was the first cumulative update Microsoft made to its mobile operating system after launching it, has been pulled from public update channels, moderator Mike Mongeau said.

Box-Salesforce Partnership Demonstrates Power Of Cloud Connectivity

Two people parachuting together in the clouds. Salesforce and Box announced a partnership today in which Salesforce customers can access Box content or content management services directly in Salesforce without applications switching or creating elaborate work-arounds. The partnership involves two pieces. First of all, there is Salesforce Files Connect for Box, a plug-in that allows for a smooth integration of Box content directly inside… Read More

Spotify launches Party, professionaly mixed playlists to suit the mood of any occasion

Spotify Party Mix

Spotify is launching a new library of playlists designed to help match the music at a party with the desired mood.

Spotify Party brings “professionally mixed” playlists into the fray, aimed at helping hosts select the right music for the occasion.These include “Reggaeton Riddims” and “Electro Blowout.”

Spotify Party

There’s also a little “mood tuner” that lets you slide to a different ambience, while “Play Queue” lets you add or remove specific songs to the existing mix.

Spotify Party Slider

The new playlists feature properly beat-matched tunes that blends songs together, which should offer a better way of playing a mix than the existing cross-fade functionality within Spotify.

Spotify will also be including some original content from DJ and producer Diplo, who created 120 new tracks specifically for Spotify.

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Spotify has been upping the ante on its playlists of late — back in May it announced mixes that adjust to suit the tempo of runners. It later launched Discover Weekly, a robo-mixed playlist that surfaces new music based on your prior listening history.

With Spotify Party, the music-streaming giant is striving to appeal to a broader demographic — those who might not be music geeks or aficionados, but want to have the “music situation” taken care of. While it already offers such a tool through Spotify Radio, which plays theme-based playlists, the addition of beatmixing makes it more suited to a party atmosphere.

The new Spotify Party features will be hitting Android and iOS from today.

Google to train 2M new Android developers in India over next 3 years


Google announced Wednesday that it plans to ramp up its engineering presence in India. Part of that push will involve launching a program to train two million new Android developers over the next three years, the company said. To do so, it will partner with more than 30 universities in India.

“Google India started with five employees in 2004 and since then has grown to be amongst the largest Google employee bases outside of U.S. with close to 1700 employees,” Caesar Sengupta, Google’s VP for Chrome and Android, wrote in a blog posting.

“And as smartphones have brought millions more online, Indians have become some of the most enthusiastic Google users. Using products like Gmail, Translate and Android, India is second only to the U.S. in total number of mobile Search queries.”

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Back in September, the company said it would be brining WiFi to 400 train stations across the country, and today the first wave of that promise is being delivered — Mumbai Central is going online.

“We are also expanding our program with Tata Trusts to connect women in rural India through a fleet of Internet bikes,” Sengupta said. “We’ve hit 1,000 villages so far, and now we are adding resources with the hope of reaching 300,000 villages nationwide within three years.”

Last month Google rolled out an update to Chrome on Android that enables data saving of up to 70 percent. Users in India and Indonesia were the first to get the update. Offline usage for YouTube on mobile also came to India first at around the same time.

Google also said the new Asus Chromebit, an $85 HDMI stick running Chrome OS, will be available in India from January. Meanwhile, at the start of this month it opened a YouTube Space — its 8th globally — in Mumbai.

“Today’s announcements are just our latest steps in our journey to bring all Indians online and make the Internet more relevant and useful for their needs,”Sengupta concluded. “There are still nearly a billion people in India who don’t have access to the Internet.”

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