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About Nicole Martinelli

Nicole Martinelli Nicole Martinelli heads up Cult of Mac Magazine, our weekly publication available on iTunes. You can find her on Twitter and Google+. If you're doing something new, cool and Apple-related, email her.

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How startup Cubr might kill the business card and foster dangerous liaisons

Rolling with Cubr. Photo courtesy Sébastien Leidgens.

Rolling with Cubr. Photo courtesy Sébastien Leidgens.

SAN FRANCISCO — Sébastien Leidgens wants to put a new angle on the business card.

His invention, Cubr, is a six-sided die that connects people through private mobile web chat. When a red, blue or green Cubr is tossed your way, you hit the website or download the app, then enter the code to start your instant message convo or share photos with the person who gave you the die. The enterprising Belgian, a former project manager at a digital marketing agency, is taking a gamble on the idea that people are tired of handing out one-dimensional cards.

“It’s a business card for non-business people,” Leidgens says in an English heavily influenced by his native French. “Young people don’t have business cards. This you can use for private situations in everyday life. It’s a lot more fun and outside of the usual public circles.”

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This app will guide you to parking — and may get you a ticket, too

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The VoicePark app could be the solution to San Francisco’s parking problems. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — A parking app that reliably helps find open spots in this congested city was coded on a turn-of-the-century tugboat in Sausalito.

The Terrapin served David LaBua as a coding den for VoicePark, a free app that uses sensors to monitor parking spots. It’s the only one we’ve tested to date that guided us to viable public spots on the busy streets of San Francisco.

“Parking is probably San Francisco’s biggest stressor, and writing about it has been very therapeutic for me,” says LaBua, who holds a master of science in psychology. “I had no intention of getting into the app game, but there was a real need for it.”

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Why iPad art is more than a passing fad — though you soon might smell it

Early doodles on the iPad looked a lot like this generation’s Etch-a-Sketch.

But in just a few years, after celebrated artists such as David Hockney have shown their iPad works in galleries, Apple’s revolutionary device has come into its own as a canvas.

The eclectic group of works above are finalists in the second annual Mobile Digital Art Exhibition (aka MDAC Summit 2014), an upcoming art-packed weekend of workshops and a celebration of digital art in Palo Alto, a stone’s throw from Apple headquarters. Take a gander and vote on them by July 31 for the People’s Choice Award.

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iPhone or Canon? A veteran photographer debates digital versus analog

During his 25-year career as a photographer, Dan Marcolina has captured moments of everyday despair and delight, from beaches and backyards to bus stations and wedding celebrations.

His work exhibits the ease of an inside joke or a knowing wink; the images are visual juxtapositions that live up to a high point of praise from Richard Avedon, who once commented that Marcolina makes images that aren’t “trying to be beautiful.”

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Ruh-roh: Your smart food scale and fitness tracker are talking to each other

The folks at The Orange Chef prepare lunch in their San Francisco offices with smart scale PrepPad.Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The folks at The Orange Chef prepare lunch in their San Francisco offices with smart scale PrepPad. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

This may be the last time you feel good about walking half a mile to get a cronut: a calorie-counting food scale and fitness tracker are on to you.

Smart food scale Prep Pad now synchs with Jawbone Up, keeping track of what you’re eating and how many calories you are burning.

It’s latest buddy system in the quantified self movement, where, as we reported earlier, your car is already conversing with your fitness tracker about how much you should be hoofing it instead of driving. Sales of fitness gadgets like the Jawbone Up, Fitbit and Nike + are over the previous year, leaving us with 19 million trackers and trainers strapped to our wrists.

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New frontier for the sharing economy: attics and basements

 Jonathan Gillon, Co-Founder/CEO, of Roost

Jonathan Gillon, co-founder and CEO of Roost, wants to help you stash your stuff. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — The latest innovation of the so-called sharing economy seems perfect for this city’s hypercompetitive rental market, where tiny apartments go for outrageous sums and space is at a premium.

Sort of like Airbnb for storage, new startup Roost connects people who need to stow some stuff — furniture, boxes of books, whatever — with individuals with room to spare in an attic or garage.

The company was founded by Jon Gillon, who came up with the idea after his older brother moved here from Texas with a Subaru full of stuff.

“We improvised,” Gillon told Cult of Mac. “I made room in my apartment in exchange for drinks and dinner. When his place was ready we were like, ‘This is a great idea.’ The light bulb went on.”

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There’s more than one way to (allegedly) bribe a Libyan — think Apple laptop

old-MacBook-Pro-13

You might not think an Apple laptop is on the same level as a Cartier watch or an all-expenses-paid blowout in Morocco, but some authorities think different.

The laptop was mentioned in an international corruption investigation into whether brokers Tradition Financial Services ponied up big bucks to win the hearts (and the business accounts) of Libyan officials for investments that netted the firm millions.

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Disruptive parking apps back off

MonkeyParking is under fire by the city of San Francisco. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

MonkeyParking is under fire by the city of San Francisco. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — You can buy and sell a lot of things in this boom town, just not public parking spaces. All three parking apps called out by the city attorney for auctioning or selling public spaces have backed off.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera slapped MonkeyParking with a cease-and-desist on June 23 and mentioned that similar apps Sweetch and ParkModo were next in line. Each took a different tack — defiant, conciliatory, quiet — but in the end, all three are on hiatus.

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Cryptic Twitter account sparks hunt for hidden Bitcoin

sfhiddenbitcoin

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a new kind of gold hidden in the hills of this city: A mysterious Twitter account is leading locals on a treasure hunt for Bitcoin.

The folks behind @SFHiddenBitcoin, which has been active since July 1, are hot on the heels of @HiddenCash, the Twitter account that made news doling out the dough of a real estate mogul.

While judges debate whether Bitcoin is money and crashing economies around the globe fear the virtual currency’s wake, it’s the coin of the realm in certain circles here. If you can handle being a “cyphervegan,” you can basically already live on Bitcoin.

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7 tips for making your live demo not suck

Myles Weissleder Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Myles Weissleder of SF New Tech. Portrait: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Myles Weissleder has witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to startup demos.

The former VP of public affairs at Meetup.com presides over SF New Tech, a showcase for disruptive hopefuls that he’s run for more than eight years. Over 750 companies including SkyBox, Twilio, Prezi, Flipboard and Twitter have come to his networking mixer to demo before a live audience in a trendy SOMA club.

In San Francisco’s competitive startup environment, you can demo your game-changing idea (or Pet Rock app) every night of the week, but SF New Tech is one of the longest-running and largest showcases. Wannapreneurs face a few hundred audience members — many of them from influential companies like Apple or venture capital firms like CMEA capital — where the mingling is fueled by drinks and tacos.

During a recent demo night, Cult of Mac sat down with the indefatigable Weissleder, who is as at home on the stage with a mic as he is hobnobbing at the bar, to get his top tips on how not to bomb when you take the stage with your great idea, hoping to find cash and connect with influencers.

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