Thursday, September 27, 2012

Find: FCC chairman says we need faster internet

FCC chairman says we need faster internet sooner, defends role as a 'cop on the beat'

FCC Julius Genachowski Vox Media

In a policy speech given today at Vox Media's headquarters in Washington, DC, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski reiterated the agency's vision for broadband in the United States, and defended its role in preserving and promoting free markets. The chairman's message is a familiar one: he's been pushing the Commission's National Broadband Plan for some time, which aims to bring fast and affordable internet to all Americans. Genachowski says that while the US has come a long way in recent years to deploy fast and affordable broadband, the country faces real challenges in meeting its goals and staying competitive globally. So the question remains: how will the FCC take action on its well-known plans?

"These are the kind of challenges America..

Find: iPad's domination of tablet traffic grows, but does Amazon care?

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iPad's domination of tablet traffic grows, but does Amazon care?

tablet market share

During his keynote speech for the release of the iPhone 5, Apple CEO Tim Cook poked fun of competitors in the tablet space with a few pie charts. While the iPad's market share in the tablet space has reportedly slipped to about 65 percent, Cook noted that iPads still make up 91 percent of web traffic from tablets. "I don't know what these other tables are doing. They must be in warehouses or on store shelves, or maybe in someone's drawer."

Onswipe, a New York startup which helps publishers optimize their sites for touch enabled devices, has just released some new data, and it turns out Apple's lead could be even bigger than Cook boasted. The measurements are taken from 8.5 million unique visitors across the more than one hundred...

Find: 500 Chrome Experiments and counting...

500 Chrome Experiments and counting...

The web is capable of amazing things and is becoming more capable all the time. To show some of the potential of a better web, we launched in March 2009 with 19 inspiring examples by the creative coding community of what’s possible when combining the latest web technologies with a little code and imagination. Some of those original experiments, like Google Gravity and Ball Pool, are still popular today. But we’re pleased to say that they’ve since been joined by hundreds of other contributions from around that world that have pushed the web even further.

Today marks our 500th experiment, and in celebration, we created Experiment 500 as a thank you note to everyone who submitted their work to the site. It’s an array of interactive particles, each one of them corresponding to a different submission. You can sort them by date or by category.

Celebrating 500 Chrome Experiments

As you browse the experiments, you’ll notice that Chrome Experiments has evolved along with the web in the last 3.5 years. After Google Chrome added support for WebGL, for example, we started seeing beautiful 3D graphics experiments like Evan Wallace’s WebGL Water Simulation and HelloEnjoy’s Lights. When Web Audio came out, we received experiments that let users compose music together, such as Brandon Lockaby’s Multiplayer Piano and Dinahmoe’s Plink. This summer, with the release of Chrome for Android and iOS, we also announced a new gallery of mobile experiments, with submissions including AlteredQualia’s Multitouch Toy and Dominic Szablewski’s X-Type. Lately, we’ve seen real-...

Competition: Mozilla and National Science Foundation seek developers to build “apps from the future”

Can't see the deadline here. 

Mozilla and National Science Foundation seek developers to build “apps from the future”

Today, Mozilla and the National Science Foundation announced eight winning ideas that offer a glimpse of what the internet of the future might look like. Next up: invite developers everywhere to make these and other big ideas a reality.

Eight teams were awarded prizes today for their submissions to the Brainstorming Round of “Mozilla Ignite,” an open innovation challenge that invites developers and the general public to imagine and build applications that make use of ultra-fast, deeply programmable networks up to 250 times faster than today’s internet.

The proposed apps are aimed specifically at areas that create public benefit. Categories range from education, healthcare, public safety and clean energy to transportation, workforce development and advanced manufacturing.

Development Round now open

Now that the initial “Brainstorming Round” is complete, the challenge moves into the “Development Round.” Developers can enter the challenge now to help build one of the winning ideas announced today, or submit their own completely new proposal.

$485,000 is available in funding to support winning proposals, and all are welcome to submit at Winners will receive funding, mentorship from world-leading judges, and access to the National Science Foundation’s Global Environment for Network Innovation (GENI), one of the most advanced test-bed networks in the world.

Brainstorming apps from the future

Here are the eight winning ideas announced today from the Mozilla Ignite Challenge’s “Brainstorming Round:”

  • Real-Time Emergency Response Observation and Supervision

    Jeremy Cooperstock, Shared Reality Lab, McGill University

    This app saves lives. The goal: arm firefighters, rescue workers and first-responders with powerful new real-time data and communications. Combining live, high-quality video from multiple feeds with real-time sensor data — like heat and smoke levels — could dramatically improve decision-making and coordination.

  • Real-time ...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Example: Battle Pirates

Battle Pirates is a multiplayer Facebook game created by Kixeye that involves real-time strategy, resource gathering, and base building in order to become the strongest pirate on the high seas.  

What it solves:
Battle pirate’s is designed to keep people entertained.  This solves the problem of pure boredom.  If you have time on your hands then you should definitely give it a try.

Battle pirate’s takes place in the future after all the icecaps have melted.  The old world is totally underwater and each player is given an island fortress to start with.  bwatson@ncsu.eduOne must design their island to minimize their vulnerability to enemy attacks.  When an enemy does attack, they have the capability of taking up to 500% of what their ships cargos can hold in resources, depending on how much you have.  You can never lose all your resources just a percentage.  Should your island get destroyed, you are provided a 2 day bubble in which no one can attack you.  This allows the player to repair their buildings and get back the resources they lost.  However, you can lose this bubble if you attack someone else’s base. 
Players also have several different buildings they can build on their island.  Some of these can be upgraded and do research.  For each upgrade, the building provides new research capabilities.  Each research gives the player different bonuses such as stronger weapons, bigger cargos on their ships, and more land for your base.  The time for research and upgrades increases as you level up.  So higher players have longer research and upgrade times.

Why I like this app:
I enjoy this application because it is challenging and you get to play against other people in a social environment.  I enjoy competition and being able to play against people provides this without limit.  Playing games against a computer, one can usually figure out the pattern that the computer uses to play and exploit it.  People on the other hand are adaptive and provide alterations to their strategies when needed.  This keeps the game interesting.  Also, it’s a good way to meet people who enjoy the same type of games you do.  This application has a chat box where everyone in a localized area can chat and share strategies.

Why it is better:
I find Battle Pirates to be one of the better games on Facebook because of its graphics and constant upgrades.  Similar games usually have really cheap looking graphics.  You can tell that they do not put as much time into their application, Kixeye is constantly adding functionality and new features to keep the game interesting.  They also have a monthly event where you can win prizes such as specialty ships or weapons that can’t be researched.


Steam is a gaming software application that allows users to play video games straight from their PC or Mac. It was created by Valve corporations and is used to distribute games and other media related online. It was created in 2003 and it was written in C++.
This app is awesome
This app also allows Mac and Linux users to play from their desktop. Another reason why this app is so amazing is that it can integrate Playstation and Xbox games to be played right here from you own laptop. Of course, you will have to purchase the game first. Also you can play with millions of users over the internet. You can connect with friends, play with them, and also submit to a forum to let others know whether they liked the game that they have purchased or not. The gaming community is a growing community with the increase in technology and Steam is also evolving with it as well. Currently Steam has over 50 million users and over 1500 games. It will continue to grow due to it popularity and easy to use interface. The software provides a freely available application programming interface, Steamworks, that developers can take advantage of to integrate many of Steam's functions within their software products, including copy protection, networking and matchmaking, in-game achievements and micro-transactions, and support for user-created content through Steam Workshop.The competition of Steam games can be very competitive with the variety of games that Steam offers. Plus there is a leader board to keep track of all of its users high scores or best times. Another thing why Steam can be competitive is the achievements that the user can unlock to make the user feel that they have accomplish something by completing a certain task in the game. This makes Steam more fun for replay-ability for users who enjoy playing the same game over and over again.

As far as competition goes there is not another app quite like this one. Maybe besides Desura. Desura is the only distribution platform that supports Linux. It is a recent project that was develop in 2009, so it has not had much time to grow and fully develop yet. But a majority of gamers usually come to Steam for their gaming needs. 
How it works

Steam offers an altered finality for users can use for educational purposes for school. Also by right clicking on it on a Mac you can view its source code for further detail
Here's a link to my voice thread:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Find: PBS Off Book's 'The Art of Web Design'

Watch this: PBS Off Book's 'The Art of Web Design'

Offbook Web Design

Early web design was usually a straightforward process, with pages based on an HTML standard originally meant for sharing physics projects. As it evolved, sites became more complex, and "The Art of Web Design" explores the rules for making a site attractive without compromising its overall user experience. The growth of mobile adds another layer of challenges, but as the web matures, users end up being more fluent in the conventions of web pages and comfortable with new designs.

While some of the concepts will probably be familiar to anyone who's spent time online, the video below is a good quick look at how designers work with the structure, interfaces, and content of the web across multiple platforms. It's also the latest production..

Friday, September 21, 2012

Find: Build apps for elections with the Google Civic Information API

Google Code Blog Build apps for elections with the Google Civic Information API

Author Photo
By Chetan Sabnis, Google Politics & Elections Team

Cross-posted from the Google Politics & Elections Blog

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. To make it easier for you to build apps with voting information on the web, we are releasing our new Google Civic Information API. The API enables you to look up comprehensive voting information for an individual U.S. address, including polling place, early vote sites, contests, and local election official contact information. By releasing this API, we hope to unleash the creativity of the Internet and help you build innovative products that push civic information to your communities in interesting ways.

As you know, this type of information can change frequently as we get closer to Election Day, and we will make every effort to ensure we're returning timely and accurate data. We have also included contact information for local election officials in the API so voters can find the most accurate information.


While this API only includes voting information for elections in the U.S., we plan to expand to other countries and include other types of civic information. Please join the Google Civic Information API Forum for updates on the data available and check out the Google Politics & Elections page to find more information about the work we are doing around the election and our international elections programs.

You can get started here through the Google APIs Explorer. The API is available now, but please note that full information isn't yet available for the November 6th General Election. We expect to be able to provide full live data around the middle of October, as it becomes available. For now, we recommend building your applications using the test data we provide. We'll be using the API to power our own election tools over the coming weeks, including an embeddable app anyone can use on their site, and we're looking forward to seeing the applications you come up with!

The Civic Information API replaces our previous Google Election Center API, which will be turned down after January 1, 2013.

For questions, comments, and to showcase your apps using the API, we encourage you to use the Google Civic Information API Forum.

Chetan Sabnis is a software engineer on the Google Politics & Elections team. In his spare time, Chetan enjoys solving logic puzzles and crosswords.

Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

Find: W3C announces plan to deliver HTML 5 by 2014, HTML 5.1 in 2016

Interesting that it's not even a recommendation yet. 
Ars Technica W3C announces plan to deliver HTML 5 by 2014, HTML 5.1 in 2016

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the group that manages development of the main specifications used by the Web, has proposed a new plan that would see the HTML 5 spec positioned as a Recommendation—which in W3C's lingo represents a complete, finished standard—by the end of 2014. The group plans a follow-up, HTML 5.1, for the end of 2016.

Under the new plan, the HTML Working Group will produce an HTML 5.0 Candidate Recommendation by the end of 2012 that includes only those features that are specified, stable, and implemented in real browsers. Anything controversial or unstable will be excluded from this specification. The group will also remove anything known to have interoperability problems between existing implementations. This Candidate Recommendation will form the basis of the 5.0 specification.

In tandem, a draft of HTML 5.1 will be developed. This will include everything from the HTML 5.0 Candidate Recommendation, plus all the unstable features that were excluded. In 2014, this will undergo a similar process. Anything unstable will be taken out, to produce the HTML 5.1 Candidate Recommendation, and an HTML 5.2 draft will emerge, with the unstable parts left in.

Find: Apple's custom ARM approach for A6 pays off in JavaScript performance

Ars Technica Apple's custom ARM approach for A6 pays off in JavaScript performance

Apple's iPhone 5 is the fastest smartphone ever tested using the WebKit team's SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, apparently due to the custom core design of the A6 processor. The benchmark performs over twice as fast on the A6 as it does on the A5 processor in the iPhone 4S, and even bests smartphones running Intel's x86-based Atom processors, according to AnandTech.

AnandTech published an extensive SunSpider benchmark comparison on Wednesday morning, including results from an iPhone 5 test unit and two dozen other smartphones. The iPhone 5 turned in an impressive 914.7ms time, easily besting the 2250.0ms of the iPhone 4S—almost 2.5 times as fast. It also beat the current top Android device, Samsung's Galaxy SIII, which ran the benchmark in 1442.9ms. (The iPhone 5 is 1.6 times faster.)

It's important to note that SunSpider isn't the best measure of raw performance across platforms. JavaScript engines vary from browser to browser on different platforms, and Apple almost certainly employs optimizations in iOS that would be difficult to replicate in Android or WP7 on every available handset. However, it's notable that the iPhone 5's A6 processor is executing JavaScript significantly faster than the only Atom-based smartphone currently available, the Lava XOLO X900, which turned in a 1279.4ms score.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Example: Dropbox, The Invisible File Sharing Solution

Remember the days of copying files from your computer to a flash drive, and then back on to another computer? Or perhaps you worked on a file at home, emailed it to yourself, downloaded and revised it in the library, emailed it to yourself, went back home, redownloaded it, and then emailed it to yourself once more for safe keeping.
Those dark days are behind us thanks to the onset of cloud-based storage.
Dropbox is a company leading the revolution since 2008. With Dropbox, you can browse a familiar file system through a web interface. Users can sign up to the website for free with 2 GB provided. Additional storage is available as a reward for friend referrals to the website or through a paid, subscription-based model.
A user's uploaded files are available from any web browser or through a cross-platform application. Uploading new files is as simple as dragging and dropping into a supported web browser, and downloading is as simple as right clicking and choosing from a context menu. Better still, folders and files can be shared based on multiple levels of privacy by email, username, or simply a unique URL.
Dropbox has a simple API that allows developers to interface with it. This has led to a further adoption of the services by users. Many applications allow for saving directly into Dropbox for simplification of file storage, an idea that companies like Apple and Google have adopted with iCloud and Google Drive respectively.
The idea of Dropbox is completely simple, and the most remarkable part of the web application is that it just works. It has changed my workflow as a student by enabling me to forget about how to move files around. Instead, I can work with the confidence that a file will be there when I need it.

Example: is an online web application that enables the user to create free personalized logos from hundreds of various designs and animations. 

This web application addresses the issue of creating professional quality logos utilizing rich graphics for websites, presentations, and any other documents or files.  A person who has zero graphic design experience can employ this application to turn their personalized message into a styled logo or banner.  With hundreds of different templates & designs to choose from, the application allows a user to create something that suits their particular needs.  Flamingtext can produce company logos, animated titles for websites & presentations, names or messages for documents, and many more!  Instead of paying for expensive graphic design software or hiring a graphic designer, this free application creates your dream logo/animated text within seconds.

I am impressed with this app because of its ease of use, as well as practicality in a variety of situations.  The UI of the application lets the user customize a variety of features pertaining to the specific template chosen.  There is also a preview box, which allows you to preview how the resulting .gif image will look like before you actually produce the image to save.  The most impressive logo on the application is the signature “Flaming text”, which animates your text by “setting it on fire”.  The “Flaming text” produces such a superior quality of graphics, which you would never believe is possible by a free online application.  By selecting the size, font, font color, background color, animation speed, number of frames, etc., you can create a logo or banner for any documents.  I have used Flamingtext logos for personal webpages, presentations for work & school, and professional documents.

Flamingtext does face competition with other similar free online logo/animation generator applications.  Flamingtext’s biggest competitor would probably be, offering an online application to generate animated text and styled logos from various templates.  Other competitors would be or, which generate .gif animations from user-defined images.  I believe this application beats its competition due to the amount of customization and control the user has.  For each template you choose, Flamingtext has ten-fold more features and aspects you can specify to make the image exactly how you envisioned.  Also, the quality of animation and graphics are significantly better when compared against  With Flamingtext, the logos and banners created look very professional and as if they were created with design software. 

Example: SoundHound

Tagline: SoundHound is a music recognition application.

SoundHound is an application that allows a user to identify a song by the app listening to the music and identifying it. SoundHound is great for use on mobile devices as they are the platform of probability for the arousal of the problem. When your on a laptop or desktop your most likely listening to an online radio or audio player that has the title and artist already. SoundHound is useful when you hear a song from a source that is not your own or does not display the artist or title of a song.

I like this application for the solution that it provides and the capabilities that it provides its solution with. Not only does SoundHound provide you information about a song that your listening to, it can provide the title to songs that you don't remember the words too. If you can hum the song with the correct tone and pitch SoundHound can recognize it and provide the song's information through a Sound2Sound capability. Sound2Sound does not just gather the lyrics of a song and compare them to lyrics of songs in its database, it also can gather the overall tune and pitch of a song and compare that to a library of songs housed by similar data.

SoundHound is not the only music recognition software, its major rival is an application called Shazam. Shazam does not have the same number of capabilities as SoundHound. Shazam recognizes songs only there the lyrics of the song and gains nothing through the songs tune or pitch. Also, found through personal testing, Shazam seems to only have a library of the more popular songs, whereas SoundHound during my testing was able to recognize a fair amount of old and unpopular songs in addition to all the popular tracks.

This is the link to my VoiceThread.

Example: Rackmonkey

Rackmonkey is a tool for managing data center assets.

Rackmonkey makes keeping track of assets in a data center much easier. It maintains information about servers and switches such as IP addresses, hostnames, customer information, OS version, additional hardware informaton, rack location, room location, building location, etc.

There are several things about Rackmonkey that I like. I work with a team in a data center at IBM, and I realized just how unorganized and cumbersome maintaining multiple spreadsheets with IP addresses, customer information, etc can become. I wanted a simple, easy-to-use web interface for the entire lab. This way, clients can easily find their machines without having to remember all of their hostnames or IP addresses. This also reduces the number of support tickets or emails we receive requesting an IP or hostname that the customer may have forgotten. Additionally, Rackmonkey is open source, so my team and I can update it in the future to our liking.

There are many other asset management apps out there that function similarly. The main problem with them is that they have so much extra clutter that is unnecessary. Rackmonkey has exactly what we needed and not a lot of extra overhead features (well, most of what we needed isn't perfect – more on this later).
Basically, this app works exactly like you expect it to. You can add a device (servers/switches) and then define which building/room/rack it is in. Then, you can specify what its purpose or role is (what kind of role the server is fulfilling. i.e. Web server, file server, etc -, the hardware model/make, the OS or hypervisor, customer name, and additional notes. You can then view the racks you created and it will show a layout of the devices inside of it, by unit number (racks are arranged by unit number, each server being 1+ units tall -

There are some things that I might add in the future, such as bladecenter capability. Currently, Rackmonkey doesn't support inserting individual blades into a bladecenter if you add it to a rack. The bladecenter only appears as a huge server and any additional information about each of the individual blades within the bladecenter has to be entered in the additional information/notes section. Currently, Rackmonkey also does not support hyperlink directly on the device information pages. It only supports plain text. In the very near future, I will add this feature so that clients can easily get to their device's web interface (if it has one) without copy/pasting an IP/hostnamee. Another thing I don't like is that is consists of primarily perl scripts...and I have no experience with perl, but this isn't too big of a deal. By default, Rackmonkey uses sqlite, but I setup mysql and used it instead. Thankfully, Rackmonkey was designed in such a way that this was relatively easy to do.

Additionally, Rackmonkey also creates statistics based on the devices currently created. It will display the total number of devices, both currently inside and not inside of a rack. It will display how many devices per customer, along with links to the device's information or the device's IP/web interface (if it has a web interface). This isn't entirely necessary, but it is a nice feature. This is also something I might add to in the future, like more meaningful statistics for our use.

I cannot provide a link to Rackmonkey because it is a tool that must be downloaded and installed for your own use.

Voicethread link:

Example: Codecademy

Codecademy is a web app that facilitates self-learning for various programming languages (particularly web languages), including Python, Javascript, HTML, and CSS. The app keeps track of your progress if you sign up for a profile. A given tutorial in Codecademy typically shows an input form and an output form that can be used together to work on the tutorial and test the results. You can jump around within tutorials, either to reference previous knowledge or skip ahead to try more challenging material. With infinite attempts available for each problem, the grading system in Codecademy is designed to be lenient and promote reflection on material when problems arise (learn, try again until successful). The tone set in tutorial content is typically lighthearted and attempts to fuse humor and learning material.
I've personally worked with the HTML tutorials in Codecademy before entering CSC 342, and now I'm working with the CSS tutorials as needed. 
Codecademy's cross-platform availability (due to being a web app), progress tracking, and consistency with adding and updating content make it a great web app for me. I believe total beginners to any form of programming may have a few issues getting started, but Codecademy would be the most lenient and forgiving method to begin learning the programming languages it offers. Seasoned programmers will enjoy Codecademy's navigability, allowing them to quickly find unknown content and start learning immediately. 

Example: Pokemon Showdown!

Pokemon Showdown!
Pokemon Showdown is a website dedicated to providing a emulator where people can play pokemon competitively to see who can be the best Trainer. 
The Cons of Playing Pokemon Competitively 
Playing pokemon can be an incredibly fun game but it does have its drawbacks. First it is very difficult to get a game started with another person. The players both have to own a Nintendo DS and the same generation of pokemon game. Second training pokemon takes time, and lots of it. In a typical playthrough it can take somewhere between 70-90 hours just to beat the Elite Four and even longer after that if they wish to collect all the pokemon in that generation. Third after catching all the pokemon a typical person will then begin the process of making a team that they will use competitively. This part may seem simple, but because there are so many different pokemon the number of choices makes it hard for a player to choose only 6 to be in the team. Fourth the player must begin training his pokemon to level 100, worry about IVs, abilities, moves, nature, and items that the pokemon will hold when they go into battle. This by far is the longest and most grueling part of pokemon. Many times players will "IV train" for hours just to level up one pokemon in a certain way. Pokemon Showdown literally takes all the time involved out and lets the player jump directly into playing the game.
Why this app is awesome!
The problem is time, and Pokemon showdown cuts it all away. First pokemon showdown can be played anywhere you have an internet connection. It can be on a laptop, on a desktop, on a smartphone, and tablets. It runs 24/7 and has very little lag spikes even when there are large amounts of people playing it at the same time. Second battling takes no time at all. If you want to battle with random pokemon against a random person who also has random pokemon is one-click. If you want to make your own team that is easy too. There is a tab for team-builder. There you can type the name of the pokemon, edit its moves, IVs, nature and item that it holds. It even comes with optimal recommendations for each pokemon for competitive play. Once your done editing you can go and battle against other people on the website. There is a long list of people to choose from to randomly battle. Finally if you really want to play competitively you can join the league on the website and battle in rated battles to move up and down the ladder.  
There is not much competition in other web apps that I know of. There are always the original Gameboy games that people want to play. These are fun but they do have there drawbacks as listed above in the Cons of playing pokemon competitively. 
My guess on how this app works
Pokemon Showdown is a community driven app. Its source code can be downloaded and edited by any person who has a mac. I believe it is then reviewed by the mods and if they like it they will add the new feature into the web app. It still has a few bugs here and there where pokemon moves don't do exactly what the description says, and the game engine does not quite mirror the one found in most pokemon games, but all in all it looks and feels exactly like the one in the actual pokemon games.  

example: 8 Track

   internet radio has been the second only to social media as the internet has expanded at an exponential rate over the past decade.  the music industry is in a constant battle with websites to control the their media and increase incentives to purchase their music.  with that has come internet radio, its streaming content and normally an inability to play music on demand allows them to bypass copyright laws and allow people to music through their computers.
what it does:
   8 track is another internet radio station but it doesnt do any of the playlist generating.  all the playlists are made by fellow users that upload their music so that other users can play a mix.  music is stored on their servers and is played back through either their mobile app or their online app.  music is given tags so that users can search through mixs and find music that they like.  mixs are given their own page so that they can be shared with an embedded tag or simply copy and paste the url.  listeners can create their own account so that data can be collected on music they listen to.  the app then uses music that they were just listening to plus music that they have listened to automatically pick a new mix after the one they were listening to ends.  this helps create a seamless listening experience.  8 tracks alos keeps tracks on whats trending on the website and advertises these mixs as popular or hot.
the user experience:
   users are able create their own accounts.  this allows them to share the same music across pc to mobile devices.  users are also able to comment on mixs which allows users to communicate with each other about the music.  users are also able to like mixs or individual tracks.  this allows the user to hold a collection of music on their account for easy finding and the mixs can be played as a continues mix of mix's.  music can of course be shared through social media websites and embedded on websites.  songs are also linked to youtube  so that the song name is queried on youtube and a match is played so although 8 tracks does not infringe on copyright laws and allow usersd to play music on demand it will link to other sites that offer the music.  it also links to itunes so that your music can be easily found and purchased.
what sets it apart:
   8 tracks is rather unique in its combination of features.  its competitors like pandora or grooveshark fall short in the management of music.  8 tracks allows for music to be saved and marked but it also allows it to be random and spontaneous.  this makes it so that users discover music from people with similar tastes in music.  8 tracks creates a hybrid of playing music like a radio in that you do not have control over what song will play next but it still allows you to save and replay songs through its linking with other media sites.

Example: FratMusicRadio

Listen to music streamed online from wherever you are from a variety of different playlists offered or 'stations'.
The problem the app solves:
People love listening to music but the problem is that it can get expensive. Discovering new music is always fun but definitely not the easiest to do when software like iTunes will suggest artist in such a way that it feels unrelated and is product placement on some level. FratMusicRadio allows you to pick from a variety of playlists ranging from 'hot', 'rage', 'day drinking', 'power hours', 'classic rock' and 'country'. Not only do they offer playlists relating genres of music, they relate playlists to what activity you may be doing. Perfect for setting the mood no matter what situation you're in. Everyone loves a good day drink.
Why you like this app:
I'm always listening to music in one way or another. One thing I hate is streaming music then having to listen to commercial after commercial. I love FratMusicRadio because they limit the number of tracks you can skip per playlist AND per hour, so you don't have to listen to commercials, but you cannot just endlessly skip tracks.  This has a hidden bonus, because it forces you to listen to songs that you may not recognize the title and just instinctively skip, but you may love.  If you, in fact, don't like the song, you can always just switch to another playlist with a similar style.  This is great for parties, tailgates, casually listening to music and virtually any other situation because you can pick a playlist based off a mood, not just an artist.
Similar apps:
Some of its' competitors would be, Pandora, Spotify, GrooveShark, and iTunes.  It's better than iTunes because itunes charge you per song, and you do not have the option of discovering new music without having to look things up by yourself. It's better than grooveshark because grooveshark only allows you to create playlists and search for particular artists or songs. Its better than spotify because spotify has a limited number of playlists available, and they are created by other spotify users, so the music may not be related at all. They do have a radio feature, but to get it on mobile, it requires a monthly fee. Pandora is probably its biggest competitor because it is free on mobile, while FratMusicRadio does not have an app. Pandora does force you to listen to commercials and FratMusic does not, which is what gives it an upper hand on Pandora.
How this app works:
Its very simple, just go to and once there, pick from any of the playlist genres. Up top they give you several different playlists to pick from, then just click play. If you run out of skips, click another playlist in the genre and do it again. You can't lose, free music and no commercials. Win.

Example: Heroku

What is it/Cons
Heroku is a scalable cloud application that allow users to deploy and scale powerful apps. It is completely free until your app reaches a certain amount of traffic then you are charged based on how much traffic is occurring. A user can create a web app then push it to his Heroku locker using git. Heroku then manages the scaling and all the deployment. It even gives you a Heroku web address. One of the major drawbacks to the app is that not all languages are support. The languages that are supported are: Ruby, Node.js, Clojure, Java, Python, and Scala. Also, Heroku can use custom databases, but the default one isn't all too great.
Heroku has many great pros. If you are a budding business looking for web app hosting, it is completely free. At least until you reach a certain amount of traffic. But, if your web app is generating traffic, then surely it is making money as well. Also It is free to people who just want to learn to code and make apps.  Also a major pro, is that you can use git to push your app into deployment. This is extremely nice because so many companies now days are using github to store their projects. Having everything use git is extremely convenient.
Heroku has some big competition. Their main competition is OpenShift by red hat. It basically offers the same exact service. I know that Heroku has been around longer that OpenShift and i believe their pricing is comparable. Also Amazon's and Verizon's cloud servers are a major competition. Heroku, however, caters a little bit more towards the smaller app developer rather than the large scale company like Amazon Verizon.
How It works?
A developer can create an app. If he doesn't have a place to deploy it he can go to Heroku and create and account. Then he stores his project as a git and pushes the git to Heroku. Magically, makes that app functional and gives him a Heroku address that he can then forward his domain name too.