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Jack Smith IV

Jack is a reporter covering tech business in NYC, Silicon Alley founders and funding, trends in tech innovation and venture capital investment.
New School Learning

HappyFunCorp Is Starting Its Own Coding School

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You may not recognize the name, but HappyFunCorp is one of the top product engineering firms in New York, and has laid down code for a corporate A-list that includes AOL, Bloomberg, AmEx and LinkedIn. With his competition consolidating and a booming economy for new apps, HappyFunCorp cofounder Ben Schippers is in a position to place plenty of young engineers in lucrative tech jobs.

The trouble is, he can’t hire anyone. You’d think the glut of NYC coding schools like General Assembly, Flatiron and App Academy would be cranking out capable product engineers, but Mr. Schippers says those school don’t prepare students to survive in the startup world. Read More

Flappy Bird

Flappy Bird Creator Emerges From Hiding With a New Game

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When Dong Nguyen suddenly pulled Flappy Bird from the app store, the manic decision was met across the world with rage, confusion and a whole lot of regained productivity. Well, that sweet period of respite from mind-numbing frustration is about to come to a sudden close.

A follow-up game called Swing Copters will hit Android phones this Thursday, Touch Arcade reports. The game will be free for download, or you can pay a dollar if you want to slowly chip away at your psyche ad-free. Read More

YouTube Killed the Video Star

YouTube Is Coming After Spotify With a Clone Called ‘Music Key’

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The Internet’s largest players are slowly figuring out that nobody wants to pay for music or movies, no matter how low the cost. So to figure out what’s next, they’re looking a the rising subscription giants like Netflix and Spotify and just, well, copying them.

YouTube is planning to launch a massive music subscription service called YouTube Music Key, Android Police reports. The service has no planned release date, but Google has already bought the domain youtubemusickey.com, and a series of phone screenshots show off the service’s basic features. Read More

the robots are coming

Study: People Are More Likely to Open Up to a Talking Computer Than a Human Therapist

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It only takes five minutes with Siri to realize that robots are miserable replacements for help from a real person. But artificial intelligence researchers haven’t given up on making robots that can do something more useful than answering basic trivia and telling us where to hide a body.

A team of researchers created an artificially intelligent robot psychologist named Ellie who can ask probing questions, read emotions with 3D cameras and get through a basic therapy session, the Economist reports. Early experiments are showing that people are more likely to be candid and emotional when they think no one is sitting there judging them. Read More

History Hour

The Smithsonian Desperately Needs Volunteers To Help Digitize Records

Good luck. (Photo via the Smithsonian)

Looking for a way to give back to your nation in a way that doesn’t include paying too much on taxes or fighting in wars on the other side of the planet? Well, now there’s a way to do your duty to Uncle Sam in the era of slacktivism.

The Smithsonian is putting out an open call to the Americans of the Internet to help turn barely legible texts from the museum’s library into a pristine, digitally catalogued database. They’ve built a pretty slick in-browser app, and have worked out a system where anyone can come in and work on the transcriptions for as little or as much time as they want. Read More

the future is now

RocketSkates, a Roller-Blade With an Engine, Raises Almost $500K on Kickstarter

Rocketskates are motorized and balanced-based — like little Segways for your feet. (Image via Rocketskates)

Every once in a while, someone will share that obnoxiously photoshopped meme of the date in Back To The Future 2 when we’re supposed to have the flying cars and hover-boards. The truth is that our world looks much closer to Marty McFly’s 1985 than it does to the fictional 2015. But every once in a while, we get a small taste of that Jetsons-style future.

A Kickstarter to fund the first batch of motorized roller-skates, called RocketSkates, has gone well beyond their $50,000 goal to raise almost $500,000 — a milestone they’ll surely reach by the time the campaign ends in 7 days. Once the Kickstarter is finished, they’ll go into mass production, and the skates will be shipping “well before Christmas,” a company representative told Betabeat. Read More

Freshly Minted

People Are Finally Getting Sick of Candy Crush, King Digital’s Stock Price Starts Plummeting

Tommy Palm, the public face of Candy Crush and King Digital. (Photo via GDC 2013)

Welcome to Freshly Minted, where we examine an overlooked deal or funding announcement in tech from the past week and tell you what you need to know and why it matters.

The deal(ish): King Digital’s quarterly report shows the people are losing interest in Candy Crush, and stock prices fell 23 percent.

Investors are trend-chasers, and in tech, those trends move particularly quickly. But when it comes being a slave to fast-moving fads, gaming companies put the rest of the tech business to shame. Read More