Apple needs to do more for parents

I need another iPad. This creature keeps stealing mine.

I’m getting complaints about a new kind of app purchase on Apple devices: kids hitting “buy.”

GigaOM and other press have already covered this with regards to purchases (parents are seeing big bills from kids who bought stuff in app, or even from app store since that remains active 15 minutes after a parent puts a password in), but Apple really needs to do more. Why? My kids, who are one and three years old are already very adept at getting around.

Already my sons have:

1. Deleted all my apps.
2. Deleted all my photos.
3. Downloaded new apps (turns out if they get the phone right after I’ve installed new updates, or new apps, they don’t need to put my password in).
4. Sent a tweet.
5. Called a friend.
6. Sent a video (it actually was pretty good, of me sleeping).

In some of these instances it took less than a minute. Kids are VERY fast at playing with these devices and it only takes you turning your head for a minute or two for lots of bad things to happen to your mobile devices (I’ve since locked my iPhone with a code so my kid can’t pick up my iPhone and start playing around).

And don’t give me the hooey about watching my kids closer. These are their favorite toys and contain their favorite games and entertainment. We even turn on Thomas the Tank Engine on Netflix for them to watch.

Yeah, there are some parental locks already, but it’s clear that we need both education of parents (I’ve gotten religious about backups) but also we need the parental control features to be easier to find.

I just tried to turn them on for the first time. When I go to the Settings on my iPhone I don’t see “parental controls.” Someone who doesn’t know might not even know they are there, under “Settings/General/Restrictions.” You can turn off the ability to Delete Apps and In-App Purchases, for instance, but the wording is confusing.

First of all, if you want to keep your kids from doing In-App Purchases, you have to turn “off” restrictions and it isn’t clear exactly what this does (there isn’t help for each item to explain what the consequences are).

Many parents will discover this feature on their iPhones and iPads too late. Probably only after something really bad has happened. You also can’t keep kids from deleting all your photos and videos, for instance. Since that’s already happened to me I bet it’s happened to other parents as well.

Anyway, if you have young kids and iPhones or iPads, be warned. Your kids probably will figure out how to delete apps or make in-game purchases before you do! :-)

Online training made easy with MindFlash

One of the hotter companies to move to the Valley lately is MindFlash. They moved from Southern California because they started getting tons of interest from big companies up in Silicon Valley, not to mention they wanted access to the talent, PR, and money pool that floats around Palo Alto (they are just down the street from Facebook and HP).

Why are the companies beating a path to MindFlash’s office? Because they make corporate training a lot easier than other companies. Here I discuss this business with CEO Donna Wells.

Getting into the grocery store with Aislefinder

When Curtiss Pope, CEO of Aislefinder, first pitched me a web service that lets me know what aisle the diapers are on at my local Safeway I asked myself “why do I need that?” But then I remembered all the time I wasted walking around looking for something weird, like Taragon, or tomato paste or something like that. Here he shows me how it works and we brainstorm about what else this data could be used for.

One nice thing is he didn’t try to build a bunch of apps for each mobile phone. Since the service is pretty simple it only needs to be done as a web service. Nice to see that new companies aren’t feeling pressured to build a mobile app just for apps sake.

Event planners: use Awe.sm and Plancast to study how news of your event spreads

Now that SXSW is coming you can bet that lots of people are running panels, parties, and other events, and want to know who are the influencers on how people hear about events. That’s what Awe.sm’s VIPli.st does. In this video you’ll learn how VIPli.st tracks how news of events spreads. These kinds of services will be useful for businesses to judge the ROI of their social media campaigns, and reward influencers for spreading news of their events. By the way, I never take payments from event companies to get on my own Plancast calendar at http://plancast.com/scobleizer.

Yammer: Changing the way we communicate at work

This article is republished with permission from Rackspace’s Building43.

There are a host of companies trying to change the way enterprises communicate internally. One such company is Yammer, which broke away from the pack two and a half years ago as the winner of TechCrunch50. Since then, they’ve been working hard to change the way we communicate with one another in the workplace.

“[Yammer] creates a private and secure enterprise social network — a social network just for the employees of a company,” explains David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer. It “helps expose who in the company has hidden expertise, who is contributing the most and who other people go to for answers.”

Unlike email or IM, Yammer creates a searchable database of conversations from which anyone in the company can benefit, not just those who were a part of the original discussion. Users can also use Yammer to create polls, post events and post questions. If a question has already been asked, the system will recognize this and immediately direct the user to the answer. Only current employees with an active company email address have access to the network, and the knowledge in the system remains long after employees have left the company.

Interestingly, Sacks has found that the benefits of Yammer extend well beyond enriched internal communication. “Companies that use Yammer have employees that feel more engaged, they feel more connected to their coworkers, they feel more connected to the company’s mission,” says Sacks. “As a result, you have less employee turnover.”

More info:

Yammer web site: https://www.yammer.com/
Yammer blog: http://blog.yammer.com/
Yammer on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Yammer
Yammer profile on CrunchBase: http://www.crunchbase.com/company/yammer

FoundersDen: prototype of startup heaven?

Where you rent your office space can dramatically change your opportunities. I’ve been studying this lately, having gotten around to TechStars, Y Combinator, Dog Patch Labs, and now FoundersDen.

What did I see at FoundersDen?

1. The network. Zack Bogue, one of the four guys who are running FoundersDen, is married to Marissa Mayer. Think he can’t get your company in front of nearly anyone? Well, look at the other three founders, including Jonathan Abrams.

2. Diversity of assistance. With four founders they can cover you with legal and technical help, not to mention pretty much any other startup company.

3. Diversity of companies you’ll work with. They have more than a dozen companies working here, including many of the smartest people in the business (I saw Charles Hudson working at one desk). That makes for interesting conversations at lunch, but also means you’ll find help with the problems you are facing.

4. Location, location, location. It’s right near Techcrunch and the train station, not to mention tons of other startups.

Anyway, enjoy this look around FoundersDen where we discover what could be termed as “startup heaven.” One problem, you gotta get invited to rent a desk here, so start networking!