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.
iPad artist Matthew Watkins holds a finger painting titled It’s a long way up, which is featured in an exhibit in Verona, Italy.
Matthew Watkins has brought iPad finger paintings into the real world in more formats than any other artist we know.
His digital artwork has made the leap into the tangible on carpets, cars, plexiglass and the more usual prints, videos, books and live installations at fashion shows and art events. Watkins, who lives in Southern Italy — by way of Manchester, England, and a childhood spent in Toronto — uses his personal peregrinations as a source of inspiration for his ongoing series on imaginary cities, which hovers between utopia and dystopia.
“I’m drawn to urban decay and architectural artifacts,” Watkins says of the works that were on display in a recent exhibit at Verona’s Palazzo Gran Guardia. “I’ve drawn buildings and cities since I was a child. As a teenager I would draw my own imaginary worlds. I still do.”
Design questions aside, the true mystery about Apple’s long-rumored iWatch lies in exactly what types of health-related sensors the wearable might include. A recent report claims the iWatch will sport an astonishing 10 different sensors, including one for sweat.
While pedometers, accelerometers, thermometers and every other o-meter Jony Ive can get his hands on might all make sense for a smartwatch, we’re wondering what Apple could do with a sweat sensor? Other than verify that, yes, your sweat glands are pouring out more fluid per minute than Niagara Falls during your jog?
It turns out that adding sweat sensors would do more than differentiate the iWatch from smartwatches by LG, Motorola and Samsung right out of the gate. It could make the iWatch the most “personal” device you’ve ever shackled yourself to, with surprising applications that go far beyond fitness and health.
The new Mac Pro, with its sleek cylinder design, has gotten a bad rap. While it’s light-years from the bulky, ugly first-generation Mac Pro and “built for creativity on an epic scale,” this ingenious machine, which Apple sells for between $2,999 and $3,999, looks like a common waste receptacle.
The much-trashed design recently got some love from architect Takara Maru, who carved out a spot on this sleek walnut desk for it. Some might joke that it’s to shield users from the Mac Pro’s looks, but really the aim is to reduce clutter on the desk surface so Maru can focus on home design.
The iPhone version of Picturelife is one of the best photo apps I’ve used. Screenshot: Picturelife
Remember Picturelife? It was one of our top picks for online photo storage when Everpix bit it, and now it has been upgraded to version 3.0. The highlights are a new $15 per month unlimited plan, which is really truly unlimited and can be shared with up to three other family members, plus an all-new, redesigned iOS app.
Sometimes things aren’t as easy as they could be when you’re using your Mac to plow through the day’s tasks. Cluttered screens and excess clicking become irritating and tiresome. In today’s video, we take a look at five useful Mac shortcuts that can make using your Apple computer even more efficient.
Apple and Adobe make major moves to change the way we manage our photographs. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac
Ubiquitous cloud storage and editing solutions for your photos are like buses: You wait ages for one, and then two come along at once.
Both Apple and Adobe are going all-in on allowing you to view and edit your photos on any device. Adobe has done this by bringing its Lightroom desktop app to mobile. Apple is doing it by ditching iPhoto and Aperture and starting again with the upcoming Photos app for iOS.
While the approaches are different, they both look rad. And they’ll drive a fundamental shift in the way we manage our photos.
A good piece of gear can make your life better. And, just as surely, a crappy bit of kit can turn an ordinary task into a profoundly irritating experience. This month's Lust List items keep us moving in the right direction.
Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40C
Pushing my bike into what can only be accurately described as a head-sided tailwind and attempting to navigate the tourist-riddled Golden Gate Bridge towers, I was once again thankful to have the Cosmic Carbones mounted to my whip.
There are faster hoops. There are rims that have spent more time at the salad bar. But if you are looking to go faster, over more “epic” terrain, with nary a concern about how precious your carbon wheels may be, then the Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40C (1,990 euro a pair list) should be on your upgrade shopping list. They will get you where you need to go regardless of the condition of the tarmac or what the weatherman has in store for you.
On that recent trip across the international orange landmark, I experienced just about every microclimate and terrain known to man. The braking surface worked surprisingly well in the wet foggy conditions, the climb up hawk hill was a joy and only during the nastiest of crosswinds did I notice the Carbones’ deep rim. Mavic took its sweet time releasing their first full-carbon clinchers, but they nailed the Mavic tradition of building bombproof, lust-worthy wheels. — Jim Merithew
You know what I hate about Apple computers? The precious keyboards. They look lovely, with their sleek designs and tiny little keys, but they absolutely kill my wrists and fingers. That’s why I plug a grimy old Goldtouch keyboard ($129 list when they made ‘em) into the MacBook Air that I use for work. I even take the weird-looking A-frame keyboard with me when I travel. It’s not an elegant-looking solution, but it’s a lifesaver.
I’ve dealt with typing-related RSI for decades. While I use voice recognition when I have to write something lengthy, it’s not the perfect tool to accomplish every task in every situation. Sometimes I need to hammer away on a keyboard, and when I do, the Goldtouch makes the experience far less painful. It’s split down the center, with a ball joint that lets me adjust the angle between the two halves as well as the height at the center. And the soft-touch keys just feel good to me. — Lewis Wallace
I'll admit it: I checked out Rocket Girl from my branch library
out of a thing for cat-eye glasses and an ingrained curiosity about
smart women that history has forgotten about.
Even if you don't care about either of those things, pick up this biography about rocket
scientist Mary Sherman Morgan. It's written by her son George D. Morgan,
who found that the Los Angeles Times was unwilling to print the obit he
wrote because so much of what she accomplished "couldn't be verified."
So he painstakingly pieced together her story — from her
hardscrabble childhood to some tendencies that today we'd probably call
OCD — while tracing the history of rocket science in
Rocket Girl ($18) reads like a novel (and, in fact, the work first debuted
as a play at CalTech). The story about Mary’s now-credited invention of
liquid fuel Hydyne, which powered the Jupiter-C rocket, is super-compelling.
It's a great read, whether you care that she was our first female rocket
scientist or not. — Nicole Martinelli
Sailing at the local Friday night beer can races used to be more humiliating than fun: The dispirited crew of Baby Blu almost rechristened the boat Dead F***ing Last before I got armed with Garmin's quatix marine GPS watch ($449.99 list).
As the defacto crew tactician of the decrepit Cal 20, I followed the oldest advice from racing sailors: Start first, keep ahead, finish first. Now that I'm sporting a good countdown watch and can accurately gauge the distance and time to the start line, we are often first off the mark. The navigation aids and speedometers on the quatix help us with the “keep ahead” part, though they can't do much to cover the fact that the old lady we sail desperately needs a face-lift. The best part: I got to keep our first commemorative beer glass from the first win. Arr, thanks quatix! — Stefano Maffulli
The first time I saw a Vinturi wine aerator in a Sonoma County tasting room, I pegged it for a gimmick. The woman behind the bar opened a bottle of red and poured some into a glass. Then she poured some of the same vintage slowly through the Twinkie-size plastic contraption into another glass and invited us to try the two side-by-side.
It was an effective demo.The flash-aerated wine clearly tasted better: richer, fuller, a little bit softer. More balanced and less brash. The Vinturi ($39.95 list) opened up the young wine, allowing its true character to shine through. Wine snobs have been decanting their vino forever, but dumping a bottle into a separate container and letting it “breathe” properly takes patience. The Vinturi gets the job done in seconds flat. The strange sucking sound it makes is air that’s getting mixed into the wine as it flows through the funnel-like device (thanks to the Venturi effect). It’s not for everybody, and not for every wine, but when you pop a cork and you don’t want to wait around, it’s a fantastic time-saver. — Lewis Wallace
The Shape Shifter and I just returned from a photo shoot in Utah. I could not have asked for a better travel companion. I stuffed two camera bodies, three lenses, a Q-Flash, various cords, cards, batteries and battery chargers, my laptop and oh so much more into this gear-swallowing beauty. And then I carried it on and stuffed it under my seat. Amazing.
I have also put a minimal amount of kit into it and zipped the compression zipper shut, so I could commute on my bicycle with this pack. It has waist and chest straps to keep it securely in place and plenty of pockets to help you organize your life.
Think Tank builds serious camera bags for serious photographers. If you like to travel light, like to work out of the same bag you travel with, or only carry a minimal amount of gear, then this thing is overkill. But if you travel with a pack of cameras, love adventure photography or just like to get your shit organized, I can’t say enough positive things about the Shape Shifter ($264.75 list). It’s the perfect bag for the photographer who likes to go loaded for bear. — Jim Merithew
When the standing desk craze took off, I thought it was
another overblown trend created by the same fitness yuppies that
turned gluten into the most dangerous edible compound since
trans-fats. Then I got a NextDesk Terra (starts at $1,497) and
I’ll never go back to a boring, sit-in-your-chair-till-your-ass-is-numb
The design is perfectly simple. The stained bamboo top is gorgeous and
enormous. But the best thing about the NextDesk is how smooth and
quickly it moves up and down, thanks to the 18-volt DC motors in each
leg that raise it up to a max height of 50.5 inches.
Fast-forward 18 months and not only have I cut my Red Bull dependency in half by
moving around to stay alert, I’ve become a master at typing while
dancing as Google drones through another painful three-hour keynote. — Buster Hein
For the first time in my life I was hailed a DJ hero at a picnic thanks to two things: 1) I’d downloaded the great 20 Reggae Classics and 2) I brought a Harman Kardon Onyx Bluetooth speaker.
Sitting up by the Russian River in the baking sun, there’s nothing better than the incredible sounds created by Jamaica's legendary Trojan label. And the Onyx did them justice, thanks to the four speakers and two passive radiators packed into its distinctive round enclosure. The Onyx has a stainless steel handle that makes it look a ringed planet. It’s big for a portable speaker, and well-built, but it’s light and easy to carry.
Best is that it sounded great — rich, balanced and loud. It has every connection option under the sun, including AirPlay (via Wi-Fi), DLNA and NFC/Bluetooth for our Android friends. Buttons are touch-sensitive and there’s a simple, easy-to-use app that can be downloaded from the App Store. Battery life wasn’t great (five hours unwired/ eight hours wired), but it was adequate for a long afternoon’s partying. It’s a bit pricey ($399 on Amazon) but for a speaker of this high quality, well worth it. — Leander Kahney
Robert Topala created current App Store champ Geometry Dash on his MacBook Pro. Photo: Robert Topala
Back in August, a new game arrived in the iOS App Store and almost immediately vanished without a trace.
“I received a few great reviews from news sites, but not enough to have an impact,” says Robert Topala, founder of RobTop Games and developer of the disappearing game. “Since I had no marketing budget it quickly dropped in rankings after release.”
For most games that would have been it. And if the story stopped there, it wouldn’t have been a tale of total failure: Topala wasn’t a professional coder, and had only been making mobile games for a couple years at the time. Simply finishing a game, getting it in the App Store and picking up a few accolades would have been nice enough.
Sweetch’s developers say it’s nothing like MonkeyParking, a pay-to-park app that drew the ire of San Francisco city officials. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
SAN FRANCISCO — When they learned they were next in line for a cease-and-desist letter from the City Attorney, three young entrepreneurs made haste to City Hall to salvage their dream of making circling the block for parking a thing of the past.
Parking app Sweetch lets you alert prospective parkers that you’ll be moving your car. The person leaving the spot gets $4 in credit and the person arriving pays $5. Positioning itself as a community app, Sweetch lets drivers donate the money to local charities. (If you use the Web app version, like we did when we took it for a test drive, the money is only symbolically exchanged. Your credit card details and hard cash are only required for the iOS app.)
“It was really cool that they were open to talking to us — we clarified that we’re not auctioning parking spots or holding them, we’re not anything like MonkeyParking, and they understood that,” Sweetch co-founder Hamza Ouazzani Chahdi told Cult of Mac by phone, adding that they spoke with two deputies at the San Francisco City Attorney’s office for about an hour. City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey confirmed that officials met with Sweetch but didn’t have specifics on whether the cease-and-desist order had been halted as a result of the meeting.