About mstoddart

Biz dev @Flipboard. Englishman in Seattle. Writing about technology, media and science with a smidge of food.

This is what Microsoft’s screen sharing adapter actually looks like

A step in the right direction. But the name seems curiously limiting – since it will actually work on all Miracast-capable devices.


Turns out it’s not a stick, after all: Microsoft’s Nokia subsidiary officially unveiled its answer to Chromecast Thursday, and it looks a little like a small hockey puck. The device, called Microsoft Screen Sharing For Lumia Phones – HD-10 of all things, uses Miracast to share a phone’s screen, and actually works with any Miracast-capable device, counter to what that name suggests. News about the device first popped up online two weeks ago.

microsoft miracast adapter HD-101

However, there’s a twist for Lumia phones: Microsoft’s screen sharing adapter also supports NFC, so you’ll only have to tap your phone against its screen sharing disc to launch into screen sharing mode. The adapter will go on sale later this month, and cost $79 in the U.S. as well as €79 in Europe.

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Zite is Flipping out

Big news for the future of news today.

Zite's blog

Today is an exciting day: Zite is spinning out from CNN and joining forces with Flipboard. Together, we’re going to build the most wonderful place to read news that has ever existed.

Ali Davar and I founded a company in 2005 called Worio whose mission was help people find information they weren’t getting through friends, social media, or search. Our plan was to deploy sophisticated machine learning techniques to understand people and content to build a better search engine. A short six years later, we released a news app for the iPad called Zite. The specifics were different from what we imagined in 2005, but the vision remained intact: not to “filter” news, not to save people time skimming headlines, but to understand them well enough to find that one article from an obscure blogger about medieval knitting they didn’t know existed and would have never have otherwise found, but…

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The shifting pay TV industry in two charts

Video consumption is only going in one direction. It’s only a matter of time before the migration hits a tipping point.


More than half of consumers with a connected TV have increased their use of over-the-top broadband TV sources in the last year, with 24 percent reporting a sizable increase according to data from the TDG Group. This television includes sources like Netflix (s nflx), YouTube (s goog) and Hulu, and the group’s research notes that this isn’t necessarily good news for the pay TV companies that are seeing subscriptions decline.

From the release announcing the study:

“That consumers are watching more over-the-top video is not itself surprising,” notes Michael Greeson, co-founder of TDG. “But to see such a widespread increase in OTT TV viewing is dramatic, especially as pay-TV subscriptions in the US are experiencing their greatest 12-month losses to date.”


Meanwhile, with the rise in consumption of internet TV there’s a decline in pay TV subscribers. This is the third consecutive quarter of such quarter-over-quarter declines according to…

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15 Minutes of Lame

Via Parks Image Group

Via Parks Image Group

Time Falling Through The Cracks:

Perhaps I’m at the airport and my flight is delayed. Or I’m in a taxi line that’s moving with glacial speed. Or I hit the line at Starbucks at just the wrong moment. All of a sudden I find myself with a few minutes of time on my hands — just enough to wonder what to do with this unexpected “gift”.

In the days before smartphones (yes, I can remember that far back) I may have resorted to thumbing through a newspaper or a magazine. Without any reading matter to hand I might have attempted a conversation with a similarly stricken individual next to me. Or, heaven forbid, I may have been reduced to truly “killing time” — literally waiting in standby mode, with frequent glances at my dumb-watch.

Nowadays things have improved considerably. Email, messaging and the Internet are always within reach thanks to smartphones. Moments of real inactivity are rare, provided there’s a connection. But that doesn’t mean that I use the time effectively. Faced with ten minutes of down time I’ll usually resort to simply browsing or chatting online. Which is fine as far as it goes — but I feel that there’s more I could be doing. After all, these gifts of time do add up. Between coffee, lunch, travel and errands I’m easily looking at an hour each day in my own personal holding pattern.

Today’s Limited Tool Set:

Today’s solutions either take a piecemeal approach or are pitched at a level that just isn’t helpful. If I just want to consume a particular piece of content then that’s fine — music, video, books, games are always at my fingertips. If I want to communicate with someone I’ve got plenty of options.

But if I want to actually be productive then it gets a little harder. Traditional services such as Outlook and Google Calendar work well for larger, well planned blocks of time. But they fall flat for those micro-moments. And they rely on me setting up the scheduling ahead of time. Dedicated to-do-list management apps such as Clear and Any.DO are an improvement, but they still rely upon me actively selecting what to do.

Towards a Really Personal Assistant:

What I need is an app or a service that connects the things that I could be doing with the small amounts of time I have available. For it to be really useful it needs to do four key things:

  1. It should be aware of the tasks in my typical “to do” lists — including their likely duration, urgency and divisibility (i.e. how well can they be “chunked-up”). It will need easy hooks into both general scheduling services like Outlook and Google Calendar as well as more specialized to-do list services like Clear.
  2. It will acknowledge my preferences for when and where I prefer to work on certain activities or to consume certain types of content. Location awareness and mining of previous activities will be helpful.
  3. It should provide a mix of both serious (tasks) and fun (content and / or games) — since I don’t want to feel like I’ve turned into a productivity machine. And it should allow me to control the overall mix, for example through an easy dial between “fun” and “getting things done”.
  4. It should suggest a number of choices rather than being prescriptive about the one thing to do next. Perhaps a carousel would allow me to accept or reject ideas, or to vote them up or down. This would allow the app to learn about me, and fine-tune its suggestions in the future.

Above all the app should provide intelligent recommendations for things to do that are tailored to me. Think of it as Pandora meets Clear.

It may be too much to ask, but this is the kind of really “personal assistant” that I need in my life. I suspect I’m not alone.

Netflix to combat Breaking Bad spoilers on Twitter with new ‘Spoilerfoiler’ site

A nice idea from Netflix to help readers avoid unwanted spoilers on their Twitter feeds. It highlights the opportunity for further innovation around discovery and social media. There’s a lot more Twitter can do to help users find what they are interested in, and avoid what they don’t want to see. Let’s hope there’s more to come.

Betaworks embraces crowdfunding with syndicate seed investment

Betaworks is pushing the boundaries of the current model by extending crowd-funding into active portfolio companies. Since the program is only open to Angels initially then it’s a pretty small crowd – but let’s hope it’s extended to mere mortals shortly.


Today, the U.S. government quietly lifted the general solicitation ban to make good on a provision of the JOBS Act. Now, it is legal to gain startup money from “crowdfunding” techniques — and Betaworks has announced in a blog post that it will seize the opportunity to make syndicate seed investments available for its Openbeta initiative.

Openbeta initially opened as a transparency platform — enabling users to test out new products, leave feedback, and learn about the companies that Betaworks is building even before launch. Now, Openbeta users will also be able to invest in these companies alongside Betaworks during funding periods. It’s an auspicious new feature for the startups under Betatworks’ wing, as they will be allowed to raise more add-on funding straight from the community they interact with through Openbeta.

Betaworks has confirmed that the new feature will be powered by a well-known crowdfunding process, although it…

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Native Advertising 101: Understanding the native continuum

A concise explanation of the continuum between classic banners and native ads. The apparent underpricing of native ads surely can’t last for long.


“Native advertising” is a term you’ve probably heard a lot lately. It’s come to embody a set of advertising approaches that look to integrate advertising more fully into the digital content experience. Sponsored content on Buzzfeed, “brand stories” on Facebook (s FB), promoted trends on Twitter — all of these are commonly cited examples of advertising gone native.

But publishers and brands looking to incorporate native ads into their portfolio often have a poor understanding of the “native continuum” — the gradient that exists between a classic banner ad and a fully native one. While all forms of native advertising What are the key differences? What types of ads exist along the continuum? And, most importantly, what are the benefits and drawbacks of each approach? Here’s a guide.

native ad continuum

The tourist ad

Far from being a true “native,” the “tourist” subtype is just a step up from a standard banner ad…

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