4 signs we’re not in a tech bubble

For someone who’s lived through one tech bubble, it’s hard not to see signs of another one every time the market starts edging upward.

Besides, no one wants to be the rube who’s the last one to realize the party’s over and the cool kids have already left. That’s why so many people are quick to jump to the conclusion that we’re in a bubble.

I’ll admit, the thought crossed my mind recently when I read that a company selling razor blades had raised $1 million from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins. That was just a few days after I learned one of L.A.’s hottest new incubators was hatching a company offering dog-sitting services.

What’s next? Sock puppets on national TV? Companies competing to ship 40-pound bags of dogfood to you? Someone raising a billion dollars to build a new food-distribution infrastructure so that they can deliver groceries to your door?

Read the rest: Dylan’s Desk: 4 signs we’re not in a tech bubble | VentureBeat.

4 signs we’re not in a tech bubble

Facebook’s Hacker Cup draws the world’s speed-programming elite

More than 6,000 hopefuls from around the world entered Facebook’s programming challenge, the Hacker Cup, in January. Three months later, just 25 finalists went head-to-head in a three-hour battle for supremacy today at Facebook’s new Menlo Park campus.

The winner will have his name (all 25 finalists are male) inscribed on a 50-pound trophy, a sort of pixelated-looking two-dimensional brass fist with the work “HACK” blazoned it, which is set on top of a cube of concrete.

There’s a $5,000 prize for the first-place winner, but most of the reward will be the glory of being named, publicly, as one of the world’s top coders. Plus, of course, there’s the thrill of going up against a roomful of world-class programmers.

Full story: Facebook’s Hacker Cup draws the world’s speed-programming elite | VentureBeat.

Facebook’s Hacker Cup draws the world’s speed-programming elite

Microsoft is about to drive a wedge into the mobile market

If the mobile market is a war, the battlefield is shifting.

As VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar recently wrote, it’s no longer a contest between the Apple iOS and Google Android mobile operating systems. Microsoft is about to shake things up in the tablet arena with the introduction of the Windows 8 operating system, which you can download in beta form now. Whether or not Microsoft succeeds, the market is about to change forever.

This new, third factor is a wedge that will dramatically shift the landscape for tablets and smartphones, but in different ways for each.

You can see the stakes of the battle in the graph of computing platform shipments by Horace Dediu of Asymco, shown above. It’s an amazing chart, showing the life and death of computing platforms over the past three and a half decades.

Full story: Dylan’s Desk: Microsoft is about to drive a wedge into the mobile market | VentureBeat.

Microsoft is about to drive a wedge into the mobile market

You will soon be using a Kinect, even if you don’t have an Xbox

In Microsoft’s vision of the future, Kinect sensors are everywhere: In your living room, your kitchen, at school, and even in the supermarket, above the fruit display.

And why not? The $150 motion-sensing device provides a cheap way to add gesture and voice controls to any application. Plus it’s got a camera and two 3D depth sensors that give computers a tool to map out spaces in three dimensions, recognize people by their faces, identify real-world objects, and create 3D models of those objects.

I spent a day at Microsoft’s Redmond campus this week attending TechForum, a small gathering of about a dozen journalists hosted by Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie. Part strategy briefing, part new-product showcase, part science fair, TechForum was a chance for us writers to see an array of recent and upcoming technologies that Microsoft’s been working on, both in its commercial products as well as in its pure research labs.

Kinect sensors weren’t the day’s primary theme, but it was fascinating to see how many contexts in which the flat, three-eyed black bar kept popping up.

Full story: Dylan’s Desk: You will soon be using a Kinect, even if you don’t have an Xbox | VentureBeat.

You will soon be using a Kinect, even if you don’t have an Xbox