by April 8, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


For funny photos SnapDash is here to help. (Screen Shot)

Instead of applying filters and other edits after you take a photo with your phone, a new DC company wants to help you shape what you snap before taking the picture.

SnapDash, now available in Apple’s App Store for iOS devices, is on a mission to make photo taking more fun.

“Our theory is that the entire world likes looking at funny photos, so we want to make them easier to create,” SnapDash co-founder Daniel Hanks said.

Here’s how it works: You open the app and select from one of the categories preloaded on SnapDash. Within each category are different situations and poses for you and those you’re with to do when taking the photo, which SnapDash calls a Snaption.

The scenario you chose, like “There are bees in your pants,” is labeled at the bottom of your Snaption. Then you can publish your Snaption to SnapDash’s internal feed, as well as your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“SnapDash turns taking photos into an entertaining and hilarious social game,” Hanks said. “Unlike other video and photo apps there is a built in idea generator that provides users with suggested poses and scenarios, eliminating the need to ‘be funny’ when put on the spot.”

Like many moments of entrepreneurial inspiration, the idea for SnapDash came from apparent randomness, when Hanks was at Delaware’s Dewey Beach last summer.

While taking pictures of his girlfriend and SnapDash co-founder, Meredith Balenske and one of her friends, Hanks began yelling out things for them to do while he took their picture. Others on the beach noticed, started joining into the fun, and the pictures were distributed across Facebook.

Hanks never thought much about starting a company, but his and Balenske’s vision for SnapDash inspired him to make the jump.

And with experience in investing in technology, paired with Balenske’s marketing and public relations background, the co-founders think they’re in good position to make good on that vision.

“We truly believe we are the first and only app that does what we do, using randomness and unpredictability to set the stage for social media interactions, as opposed to adding context afterwards,” Hanks said.

SnapDash will be at NY Tech Day 2013, and is working on an Android-version of their app. You can see SnapDash in action by watching this Meet SnapDash video.

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by April 4, 2013 at 9:00 am 2 Comments

From Willis Shawver. Follow him on Twitter at @WShawver or email him at Willis[AT] 


Five smartphone apps for the urbanite. (Luis Gomez Photos)

In today’s smartphone marketplace there really is an app for everything. I have apps to check the news, the Nationals scores, when the Metrobus is coming and my bank account balance. There might also be an app on my phone that I use to annoy my cat. (Meow!)

This abundance of app options holds true for the modern-day urban dweller. Living in a metropolitan area offers a person a myriad of everyday eating, shopping, and event opportunities. With a smartphone and the right set of apps, you can take advantage of everything urban living has to offer.

Apps for Every Urbanite

Check out these apps that every urbanite should have on their smartphone.

ParkMe: Finding a parking space in Washington DC requires intuition, perseverance, and lots of luck. Fortunately, there’s an app that takes some of that luck out of the equation. ParkMe uses real-time parking data to help drivers find available parking spaces nearest to their location. The app helps users find availability and pricing for on- and off-street parking, including parking garages.  Download: Free (iPhone)

iCommute DC: Like the OJ verdict, we all remember where we were the day the NextBus DC app stopped working. We all stared blankly at the “No Prediction” message on our phones in dismay. Thankfully, the app that predicts Metro bus and train times has been resurrected and renamed iCommute DC. Predicting bus arrival seems futile, iCommute DC at least gives you a fighting chance. Download: Free (iPhone)

Seamless: You’re hungry, but you don’t want to cook. You have a smartphone, but you don’t want to actually call anyone to order takeout. You’re in luck my lazy friend, because there’s an app that’s perfect for this exact situation. Seamless provides users the ability to order food for deliver or takeout from over 12,000 restaurants in 40 cities nationwide (With nearly 500 in DC alone!). Use the app to browse restaurants by cuisine, neighborhood, or even zip code. Download: Free (iPhone), Free (Android), Free (Blackberry)

Scoutmob: Scoutmob is all about local; local events, local food, and especially, local deals. Members of the Scoutmob team visit local stores and restaurants, and handpick deals based on their personal experiences. And the best part? You don’t need to purchase a coupon to receive any of these deals. All that’s required is your smartphone and some spontaneity. Download: Free (iPhone), Free (Android), Free (Blackberry)

Matchbook: You forgot the name of that new restaurant you walked by last weekend, didn’t you? No worries. The Matchbook app is here to help. Matchbook replaces your notepad and bookmarks restaurants and bars that you’ve been meaning to check out. The app also lets you share locations with your friends, so finding your next happy-hour spot will be as easy as checking your phone. Download: Free (iPhone)

Feel free to add to the list.

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by March 15, 2013 at 8:00 am 1 Comment


Find available Wi-FI with TouchdownSpace’s new app for iPhone. (Screenshot of app)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

As remote working is under assault by companies like Yahoo and Best Buy, a DC-based company is making it easier for mobile workers to find locations with Wi-Fi.

A new feature to TouchdownSpace’s iPhone app allows anyone to locate more than 2,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the DC area.

Wi-Fi location is the latest addition to TouchdownSpace’s app, which already made on-demand office space available to mobile workers from an inventory of 240 professional workspaces.

Any user who needs an office for as little as an hour or as much as a day, can use TouchdownSpace’s app to book a space. The startup makes available to users real estate companies’ unused inventory.

In other words, TouchdownSpace is the latest in a number of companies in the collaborative consumption space. Others include Airbnb, Zipcar and Uber.

TouchdownSpace’s goal of helping mobile workers flies in direct contradiction to moves made over the past month by Best Buy and Yahoo, companies who are ending their remote working programs.

Those moves have ignited a war between those who see value in working remotely, and those who believe remote working diminishes an organization’s productivity and value.

While TouchdownSpace CEO Caleb Parker thinks Yahoo and Best Buy are missing the mark in making their decisions, he’s seizing the opportunity.

“I’m personally inviting any Yahoo employee to work from any of our locations for free,” Parker said. “I’m serious. It started out as a joke in one of our internal meetings, but I’m dead serious. Reach out, we’ll get you hooked up.”

Whether or not any Yahoo employees take Parker up on his offer, there are increasing numbers of mobile workers nationwide.

According to the Mobile Work Exchange, more than 135,000 people pledged to work from home during Telework Week in the first week of March. Doing so reportedly saved these workers $12.2 million, and prevented 7,842 tons of pollutants from entering the atmosphere.

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by February 11, 2013 at 10:00 am 0


Brothers Colin and Trevor Lyman of CrackedMacScreen. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

You drop your iPhone, shattering the screen. What do you do? Most of us think you buy another phone.

DC’s CrackedMacScreen wants you to think otherwise. Brothers Trevor and Colin Lyman fix broken Apple product screens, from iPhones to iPads and laptops. They come to you if you’re in the immediate DC area. If not, you can ship them your broken device, and they’ll ship it back, covering shipping charges both ways.

What today can be a life-saving business for phone-toting customers started for Trevor in 2009 as a way to make a little money fixing broken computer screens for Temple University students in Philadelphia.

Trevor’s first repair was on an old Mac laptop someone was selling for cheap on Craigslist because it had a broken screen. Trevor bought the computer, taught himself how to fix the screen using an online guide, and started promoting his new-found skill to Temple students he tutored.

“I told all of the kids that I was tutoring that I could fix Macs and the following week the girl I was tutoring, her friend broke her screen,” Trevor said. “Her mom called me, I went and fixed it, made a couple hundred dollars in a half an hour, and realized that there was a business there.”

In 2010 Trevor moved with his girlfriend to DC, still holding down a day job while setting up CrackedMacScreen in the District. In August 2011, Colin opened a CrackedMacScreen branch in Nashville. The next month Trevor started doing CrackedMacScreen full time in DC. A year later Trevor needed Colin to close up shop in Tennessee and head east.

“We basically proved that we could move to any major city and start a CrackedMacScreen branch, but after a year working in Nashville business was too crazy in DC for me to do it just by myself,” Trevor said.

Along with us regular folks, CrackedMacScreen has fixed devices for members of Congress and the media. The brothers blog about the repairs they do.

But will the Lymans establish CrackedMacScreen presence in other American cities?

“We feel like we’re still proving the concept here in DC,” Trevor said. “For right now, we’re concentrating on building business here through agreements and contracts with schools, businesses and government organizations.”

While understanding CrackedMacScreen may not be a lifelong, overwhelmingly profitable business, the brothers are pleased with their success.

All this growth for CrackedMacScreen comes from a business that never accepted outside investment, a recommendation Trevor makes for other entrepreneurs.

“If you can support yourself with a full-time salary while having enough time to work on other projects then why would you ever want to take investment,” Trevor asks. “We have no pressure to succeed other than our own needs, which reduces our stresses a ton.”

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by January 6, 2011 at 6:00 am 1,407 0


Anyone can be behind you. Playing with your phone while wearing earplugs is bad idea, especially while walking alone either day or night. (Luis Gomez Photos)

We’ve told you beforemanymanytimes. Don’t be stupid with your Smartphone. In other words, don’t walk down the street – especially a quiet one by yourself – in the late hours yakking away on your phone, unaware of your surroundings. Expensive phones – and they’re really just small computers with a phone attached – are much desired by thieves and robbers. (Read An Interview with “Mugged.)

Five Smartphone Tips from Police

Lately the MPD has been reporting more thefts than usual of Smartphones – iPhones and Droids – by robbers. Here are safety tips for your phone, and you, from MPD.


by May 12, 2010 at 10:00 am 1,933 2 Comments

The past week’s tally of notable crimes: 6 robberies (1 with a gun), 1 assault, 2 burglaries (1 armed, which is unusual) and 3 stolen autos. The notable geographic pattern is that 3 of the robberies and the 1 assault were in the western end of the Borderstan area.

However, the more notable pattern is what muggers and thieves are targeting: your expensive smart phone, such as iPhones and Droids. MPD Second District Commander Matthew Klein sent out this statement yesterday:

Although the number of robberies in the Second District is still lower this year compared with the same period last year, we’re seeing a recent spike in several areas along with some noticeable trends. Recently, a large number of these robberies (cases where someone is “mugged” on the street, or has an item snatched from their hands) involve Apple iPhones. This ubiquitous, expensive device appeals to criminals because it can be easily reprogrammed, or erased, and sold for quick cash.

We’re seeing folks having phones snatched from their hands as they walk down the street, or taken from tables while sitting at restaurants. Although the vast majority of these offenses do not involve physical harm to the victim, this is a disconcerting trend that deserves attention.

As always, I’m asking folks to be aware of their surroundings, especially while walking down the street and talking on the phone (try and avoid doing that if you are walking alone at night). Do not leave your phone lying on a table while dining out as this may also attract would-be thieves.

Yes, readers, it is a bad idea to talk on your cell phone or listen to your iPod on a quiet residential street after dark… totally unaware of your surroundings. Doing so makes you an easy target for muggers. The same warning applies for night-time joggers.



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