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Mobile Technology News, November 30, 2013

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • The Secret to QuizUp's Record Setting Viral Growth
    An interview with Thorsteinn Fridriksson, CEO of Plain Vanilla Games

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    I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little strange to randomly discover a game on the App Store on a Sunday afternoon, have over 60 friends begin using it by the next day and then be interviewing the CEO/founder of the company that developed it the day after that. But, like the growth of QuizUp over the last two weeks, sometimes things escalate quickly.

    QuizUp is a new game for iOS devices that claims to be the biggest trivia game in the World. By combining an insane amount of questions and categories with gorgeous UX design, and unique social features that allow users from around the world to interact with people who share mutual interests, QuizUp has created what some are calling the most perfect trivia game ever made.

    I was lucky enough to chat with Thor Fridriksson, the founder and CEO of Plain Vanilla Productions (the creators of QuizUp) after he arrived in San Francisco on a flight from Boston. His flight had originally been delayed, delayed, delayed and ultimately canceled in Boston, but while waiting around in the terminal for hours he had the surreal experience of witnessing strangers around him playing his game. Keep in mind — a game that had just been released only a week ago, had spent almost nothing on marketing and was built thousands of miles away in Iceland.

    This is not how things usually work for mobile game developers, and what may seem like an overnight success was actually the result of almost three years of hard work and an obsession with creating an amazing product.

    Making Product Quality the #1 Priority

    According to Fridriksson, “the QuizUp you see today is actually the fourth iteration, after the team had decided to completely scrap the first three versions and start over from scratch each time.” This commitment to perfection is obvious within minutes of playing QuizUp. The colors, shapes and animations all work together in harmony to create a user experience whose elegantly simple functionality borders on magic.

    Along with taking the time to perfect every aspect of the app’s design, QuizUp took a unique approach when obtaining their trivia questions. They chose to crowdsource the questions directly from individuals passionate about their specific topic rather than paying to farm the content en masse. This resulted in over 150,000 questions in nearly 300 categories by the time they launched. Fridriksson said that, “when you go to people who are deeply passionate about a topic they will be eager to contribute quality content.” All of this attention to detail and focus on making the perfect trivia game is clear when you look at what happened after they launched.

    Engagement > Number of Downloads

    Apple’s App Store, especially the games category, is brutally competitive. All of the experts that Fridriksson and his team consulted prior to launch said that they would need to throw tons of money into marketing before they would see any organic growth. What happened was the opposite. The way Fridriksson described the growth to me was “incredibly viral,” and that after looking at the numbers from the first day they “decided not to spend another dime on marketing.” I personally left the ‘new friend’ notifications on and it was funny to watch as one of my Facebook friends would get the app, and then within twenty minutes I would see notifications that several of our mutual friends who the first person was closer with had joined. Presumably coerced by the first friend.

    Within about 10 days of release, the app has been downloaded over 1.5 million times and users were playing over 10 million games a day. These numbers even beat out the record setting DrawSomething app that was sold to Zynga for $200 million dollars last summer. Despite impressive download stats, the most impressive number by far is the average daily playing time of 40 minutes. For comparison, this amount of engagement is roughly double the average time spent on Facebook, and over triple that of Twitter.

    Users Are Making the App Their Own

    Fridriksson and his team have been blown away the outrageous amount of user engagement. But the most interesting part isn’t how much users are engaging, but rather that they are engaging in ways the team hadn’t even anticipated. Fridriksson explained to me that they are seeing “tiny social pockets” materializing within topics and through the extensive social/communication features of the app. Fascinatingly, a “social network of sorts” is organically growing within individual topics. You can go to the discussion boards of economics and history and see genuine intellectual discussions, or hop over to Justin Bieber trivia and see more “colorful” discussions.

    In some ways QuizUp is almost like a social discovery engine where you are constantly matched with new people who share mutual interests from all over the world. Even if sometimes it is only for a fleeting seven round trivia match, the game is connecting people in a uniquely compelling way. For the time being, Fridriksson and the rest of Plain Vanilla Productions are focused on keeping the service running smoothly in the face of so much unanticipated traffic. However, going forward the team has a number of exciting and innovative features planned for the future.

  • Comet ISON May Have Survived Encounter With Sun, Scientists Say
    STOCKHOLM (AP) — A comet that gained an earthly following because of its bright tail visible from space was initially declared dead after essentially grazing the sun. Now, there is a silver of hope that Comet ISON may have survived.

    New images, basically faint smudges on a screen, being analyzed Friday showed a streak of light moving away from the sun that some said could indicate it wasn’t game over just yet. “It certainly appears as if there is an object there that is emitting material,” said Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    Basically a dirty snowball from the fringes of the solar system, scientists had pronounced Comet ISON dead when it came within 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) of the sun Thursday.

    Some sky gazers speculated early on that it might become the comet of the century because of its brightness, although expectations dimmed over time. But it wouldn’t be all bad news if the 4.5-billion-year-old space rock broke up into pieces, because some scientists say they might be able to study them and learn more about comets.

    The European Space Agency, which had declared ISON’s death on Twitter late Thursday, was backtracking early Friday, saying the comet “continues to surprise.”

    Comet ISON was first spotted by a Russian telescope in September last year, and became something of celestial flash in the pan this week for its vivid tail — visible by the naked eye — and compelling backstory of impending doom.

    The comet was two-thirds of a mile wide as it got within 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) of the sun, which in space terms basically means grazing it.

    NASA solar physicist Alex Young said Thursday the comet had been expected to show up in images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft at around noon eastern time (1700 GMT), but almost four hours later there was “no sign of it whatsoever.”

    Images from other spacecraft showed a light streak continuing past the sun, but Young said that was most likely a trail of dust continuing in the comet’s trajectory.

    However, instead of fading, that trail appeared to get brighter Friday, suggesting that “at least some small fraction of ISON has remained in one piece,” U.S. Navy solar researcher Karl Battams wrote on his blog. He cautioned that even if there is a solid nucleus, it may not survive for long.

    Two years ago, a smaller comet, Lovejoy, grazed the sun and survived, but fell apart a couple of days later.

    “This is what makes science interesting,” said Fitzsimmons, who specializes in comets and asteroids. “If we knew what was going to happen, it wouldn’t be interesting.”

    ISON’s slingshot toward the sun left astronomers puzzled and excited at the same time.

    Made up of loosely packed ice and dirt, the space rock came from the Oort cloud, an area of comets and debris on the fringes of the solar system.

  • The Very Best Apple Black Friday Deals In The U.S.
    Black Friday is one of the few — if only — days of the year when Apple acts like a normal retailer. So as in years past, the electronics maker is offering one-day deals to kick off the holiday shopping season.

    But instead of price cuts on iPads and MacBooks, as Apple has done on Black Fridays of yore, it took a different tack in the U.S. this year. Apple is including Apple Store Gift Cards valued between $25 and $150 with the full-priced purchase of various products. You can see all the deals on the company’s website, but we’ve listed out the very best Apple Black Friday deals below.

    Some things, though, haven’t changed. As was the case in 2012 and in 2011, Apple is offering absolutely no deals on its best-selling product: the iPhone.

    But here is what Apple is offering:

    iPads

    • iPad Air: Get a $75 gift card with every purchase. Starts at $499.
    • iPad Mini: Get a $50 gift card with every purchase. Starts at $299. Deal only available with non-Retina display models.
    • iPad 2: Get $50 gift card with every purchase. Starts at $399.

    MacBooks and iMacs

    iPods

    • iPod Touch: Get a $50 gift card with every purchase. Starts at $229.
    • iPod Nano: Get a $25 gift card with every purchase. Starts at $149.

    Apple TV

    • Apple TV: Get a $25 gift card with every purchase. Starts at $99.

    Accessories

    And that’s not all. Check out all the deals here.

  • PlayStation 4 'starting to sell out'
    Sony’s PlayStation 4 is launched in the UK two weeks after its debut in the US and is already “starting to sell out”.
  • LiveCode 6.5 adds resolution independence for app output
    RunRev has released v6.5 of LiveCode, its simplified app development tool for iOS and Android apps. The update primarily adds resolution independence — meaning that the same app can quickly be rescaled for any screen size, whether on a phone or a tablet. This includes accommodation for displays with high pixel densities, such as the iPhone 5s and iPad Air.
        



  • Samsung UE46F8000 Review: Just How Good Is A Really, Really Great TV?
    The Samsung 46-inch UE46F8000 TV is available for around £1,499 from Currys.

    Key Features:

    • 46-inch LED pannel (1080P)
    • Active 3D (with two pairs of included glasses)
    • 3D ‘HyperReal’ picture engine
    • 40W speakers
    • Built-in WiFi, quad-core processor
    • 4X HDMI, 3X USB 2.0
    • Freeview/Freesat HD tuners
    • Smart TV with App Store
    • Pop-out Camera
    • Motion-based single remote control

    The Pitch:

    “Combining the latest Smart TV features and industry-leading interactive voice and motion controls, outstanding Full HD 3D picture quality and innovative audio, the Samsung UE46F8000 Smart 3D 46″ LED TV is undeniably the ultimate 21st-Century home entertainment hub.”

    Verdict

    In the main, TV reviews are for specialists: a group of rarified, technically minded individuals who sit around all day surrounded by panels and screens, know what things like a ‘HyperReal’ picture engine and Clear Motion Rates are, and have opinions on 8K and 16K before you’ve even seen a 4K TV in the flesh.

    For most of you – for most of us – buying a TV is a bit more depressing, and fraught, and inexact. For most people, it’s about avoiding the poorly built junk on the low end, but settling for a set below the ultra-luxury mega-tellies. Something about £500-700-ish, not too fancy… let’s all move on with our lives.

    And in the main, that’s probably just life. But every time you stare at that set for the next two-to-five years, you’ll always wonder what you could have had, if only you’d pushed the boat out a little and bought something really fun.

    The Samsung UE46F8000 Smart 3D LED TV is the answer.

    And we’re here to tell you that not only is it ridiculously named, it is also ridiculously good. Yes, the sad truth is that if you don’t have a really good TV, you probably don’t even know what a really good TV is.

    Some things are a given when it comes to a set like the F8000, of course. Take the picture. You’d expect brilliance, and that’s what you get. Experts more, well, “expert” than us have given it top marks for picture quality and straight visual fidelity, and we have to agree that it looks incredible, even without too much fiddling with the settings. The back lighting is superbly even, colours pop and black areas are inky and deep, and motion is rendered brilliantly, even without the Motion Plus frame creation system turned on. The 3D performance is great too – the very slim design of the set means that it’s easy to focus on the action on screen, and there’s no sense of flicker. Even the included pairs of 3D glasses are comfortable and well designed.

    Similarly, you’d also expect a full suite of Smart TV apps, and that’s also present and correct. The software is based around five separate screens – a Store, a Multimedia tab for playing files off USB and networks, the Live TV screen, the Apps tray and a social ‘Friends’ tab, which collects recommendations on the fly. The Apps page is well stocked on first boot, with iPlayer, 4OD, ITV, Channel 5, Netflix and Lovefilm all installed by default. There are many more apps to choose from too, and all launch and run as fast as you’d hope, thanks to the Quad-Core processor chugging away (silently) in the background. The result is that even if you don’t work too hard to explore all the options, this is a very Smart TV indeed.

    Finally on the obvious front, you have design. The F8000 is beautiful, with a curved, elegant, all-metal stand, thin bezels and minimalist touches which make it look totally stunning from any angle. Even the placement of the ports – all on the lower-left corner, makes for simple and easy cable management.

    But then there are the non-obvious features. The things that make owning a super TV like this really worthwhile. And there are so many, it’s hard to keep track.

    For starters, your main TV HDMI source isn’t just stuck on a certain HDMI input. It’s automatically found and integrated into the Smart TV software. The TV learns what you watch and can suggest new programs, all while controlling your Sky Box (or whatever) from a single remote, via an IR blaster.

    And oh, the remote. While the TV comes with a normal plastic controller, the real remote is a simple, gesture-based doodad that lets you draw channel numbers with your finger.

    If that’s not enough, the TV also lets you control your set – and watch pictures from any of the inputs, including one you’re not using – on your Android smartphone. Technically you could use your phone as a second-screen on which to play a PS4, for instance. It actually doesn’t work in practice – there’s a bit too much lag. But watching a Blu-Ray on your phone, via a games console, is undeniably neat. Elsewhere, there’s a pop-up, high-quality camera on top for Skype calls, while the included voice and gesture controls make it easy (though not always foolproof) to switch between functions at will. The TV even has good sound quality – though we’ll be damned if we know where the speakers are hidden.

    The overall feeling, once you’ve gotten used to the TV, is of something elegant, powerful and much cleverer than you have any right to expect. The Smart TV interface isn’t a janky add-on, it’s a beautiful, centralised way to experience entertainment. The live-TV integration is better than that on the Xbox One, and the picture quality is also more amazing than you’d ever really think possible.

    And this is the problem. Because whatever way you look at it, the F8000 is still £1,499 – and as such, a serious investment. If you add up the features and look at the price compared to an equivalent size TV lower down the rung, you might still find yourself leaning the other way.

    But that wasn’t really the point of this review. As we said, there are others more suited to pouring every inch of value in this TV, and its competitors.

    The point here was just to examine what owners of great TVs are getting for their money. And the sad – but sort of pleasing – answer, is simple: they’re getting lots. TV isn’t perfect in the land of the high-end screen. But it’s close. And the F8000 is the best TV we’ve ever tried in person. Sigh.

    5starstechdarkblue

  • This Duck Has The Best Hackers In The World Baffled
    For the past two years, a mysterious online organisation has been setting the world’s finest code-breakers a series of seemingly unsolveable problems. But to what end? Welcome to the world of Cicada 3301.
  • The Case Against Monitoring Teens Online
    One day after school, 16-year-old Amelia was in her room scrolling through her Facebook updates when she took a break to get a snack. When she came back, her mom was at her computer, busy reading the status updates posted by Amelia’s friends, which alluded to “gossip about who got drunk last weekend and who likes who, stuff like that,” Amelia remembered. “It was nothing, most of it probably wasn’t even true — everyone exaggerates about everything — but my mom totally flipped out.” Amelia, meanwhile, “flipped out” too, accusing her mother of spying, and having no respect for her privacy.

    Parents have nosed around in their kids’ lives ever since the invention of the telephone, but these days, technology has taken the spying game to an entirely new level with multiple points of entry, from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, Vine and Tumblr. While communicating via social media has made it easier for kids to stay connected with their friends, these largely public forums (and traceable activities) also give parents a new in to what their children may not be telling them. A study published earlier this year by the Education Database Online found that nearly half of all parents using Facebook joined the social network with the primary purpose of spying on their kids (and their kids’ friends). All but 7 percent of those parents check their child’s profile every single day, monitoring status updates, location check-ins and photos their kids post and are tagged in.

    Many parents say they do this monitoring simply for their teen’s own good. “Amelia can be impulsive, like all teens,” Amelia’s mom, Gina, told me. “And all it takes is one thoughtless tweet or provocative photo to get you a reputation. I don’t want someone to Google her name and have the first thing come up be some half-grammatically correct rant about where her algebra teacher could shove it, even if she thinks she’s just being funny. It’s not appropriate.” And given the fact that most teens have a shallow internet presence, their social media posts do often comprise much of their online identities, making what they post even more significant than that posted by adults, whose social media accounts are more likely to get buried.

    Which is why, in many ways, Gina has a point. After all, many teens don’t consider the permanence, or the public nature, of their social media posts, often blindly sharing information and photos they wouldn’t want their parents to see. And people — their parents, yes, but others, too — are taking notice. Philadelphia police arrested a 17-year-old accused of using Twitter and Instagram to instigate potential witnesses to violent crimes, while a New York Times story shared the unsurprising news that college admissions officers are reading applicants’ Facebook posts and tweets (and often rejecting them as a result). At the same time, the Internet doesn’t do much to protect teens’ privacy; with social media sites changing their rules so often it can be difficult to keep up. For example, Facebook changed its privacy rules for teens. Now, unless they specifically opt out, their status updates, videos and images can now be seen by anyone — no longer just their friends or friends of friends — raising the stakes considerably.

    And yet the answer isn’t for parents to be poised to erase their child’s every online misstep. There’s a real danger in too closely monitoring, or even limiting, teens’ online behavior. The fact is that social media is, now, a very real way of life, and to shield kids from that is to leave them underprepared for a time when their parents aren’t there to protect them. It’s like operating a car: There’s a period during which young drivers are required to drive with an adult. But that period ends, and then the kids are on their own.

    Social media freedom teaches kids an important lesson in how not to behave. What not to share. It teaches them that public is public, and some mistakes can’t be erased. That’s a hard, but necessary, lesson for people to learn. And it won’t happen with mom and dad looking over their shoulders, or at their browser history when no one’s looking. Letting kids control their own online presence is also a valuable lesson in accountability. Social media takes much of the fall for teens’ bad behavior, from enabling after-school bullying to providing a forum for inappropriate photos. But by blaming social media for kids’ mistakes, we absolve kids from certain responsibility that is theirs and theirs alone. Teens will make bad decisions both online and off, but they make the decisions. Simply put, when social media exposes a child’s bad behavior, it’s not the fault of social media.

    Which is why the best policy is to give kids their privacy, but to also make sure they’re very clear about the public nature of social media and the possible implications of potentially regrettable online behavior. Ask them to be honest with you, and be honest and upfront with them in return. Realize that going behind their backs to determine what they’re up to may only push them towards greater secrecy. 15-year-old Noelle was recently confronted by her parents about Twitter interactions she’d been having with a group of kids they disliked. She later learned they’d also been reading her emails and Facebook chats. “I was grounded for a week, and forbidden to hang out with those kids,” Noelle remembered. “Of course, it didn’t stop me from hanging out with them; I just learned to lie better.”

  • The Most Cringe-Worthy Autocorrect FAILS Of The Month
    Another month, another set of seriously cringe-worthy autocorrect fails.

    Check out the 15 best texting mishaps November 2013 had to offer below and head over to Damn You, Autocorrect for more.

    Warning, contains NSFW language.

  • On designing apps for patients & healthcare professionals, a chat with Amy Cueva, founder of Mad*Pow
    iMedicalApps sat down with Amy Cueva, founder & chief experience officer of Mad*Pow, an experience design agency specializing in healthcare. In our interview, Amy shares insider tips on how to create compelling medical apps that people will want to use.
  • Solar Power Gets Massive Boost In Connecticut As States Continue To Support Green Energy Push

    MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — As Connecticut pushes aggressively to expand solar energy to homes across the state, few supporters are more enthusiastic than Eugene DeJoannis.

    The retired mechanical engineer from Manchester has long been a booster of green energy and boasts a keen interest in home energy issues. He’s now serving as a volunteer solar ambassador promoting a state program that subsidizes home solar projects and urges homeowners to participate.

    “I have a personal fascination with the residential energy picture,” DeJoannis said. “Whenever we go to church, I invariably take out my literature and display it there.”

    Backed by a $27 million fund supplied by utility ratepayers, a campaign known as Solarize Connecticut joins as many homeowners as possible to lower the cost of residential solar installation. It annually earmarks $9 million of the available funding to finance residential installation by solar panel businesses competitively picked.

    The intent is to boost nonpolluting energy, reduce demand on the electric grid relied upon by utilities and cut dependence on overseas sources of power such as oil.

    Bob Wall, director of marketing and outreach at Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, said the agency is running solar panel installation campaigns in 22 of the state’s 169 towns and cities and has completed solar energy installation campaigns in nine towns.

    In the past 22 months, 2,160 residential solar systems contracts have been approved.

    Gary and Debbie Sweet, looking for information about putting solar panels on their house, attended a recent meeting in Manchester organized by state energy officials, bankers and solar installers. Sweet, an architect, said solar panels could slash his electricity costs.

    “It doesn’t cost me anything. Why not?” he said.

    The cost to homeowners is significantly reduced, and although it’s touted by Connecticut as a “once in a lifetime bargain,” it’s not free. Glenn Cucinell, solar division manager at Encon Solar Energy Division, which won the contract to install solar panels on homes in Manchester, said a typical system in Connecticut would cost about $24,000.

    After a state rebate of about $8,000 and a 30 percent federal tax credit available for the remaining $16,000, a homeowner’s cost for a residential solar system would be cut by more than half, to $8,000 to $12,000, which can be paid for in long-term financing.

    Connecticut’s subsidy is not unusual. Virtually every state offers loans, grants, rebates and other incentives to support broader use of residential solar panels, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. “It’s an incentive driven industry at this point,” Cucinell said.

    In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, solar energy received $1.13 billion in federal subsidies in the form of direct spending, research, tax benefits and loans, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In contrast, wind power received nearly $5 billion in subsidies, and coal was the beneficiary of $1.36 billion in subsidies.

    Andy Pusateri, a utilities analyst at Edward Jones, said solar power will not be weaned off federal and state subsidies anytime soon. Wind power is the fastest growing alternative source of power, but solar energy has a greater growth potential, he said.

    “We’re still a ways off from a competitive generation source without subsidies,” he said.

    Pusateri said politics is a factor behind the push for public subsidies of solar energy.

    “Democrats tend to favor renewable energy,” he said. “I think that’s driving that.”

    The solar campaign is part of a broader effort by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to rework Connecticut’s energy policy. It includes a greater reliance on hydropower from Canada, an increase in natural gas connections to homes and businesses and a push for renewable power such as solar.

    DeJoannis promises to keep at it with his campaign for home solar projects.

    “There’s a garden club meeting tonight. Maybe I can break in there,” he said.

  • You Thought A Rubik's Cube Was Hard? Check Out This Rubik's Building
    Rubik’s cubes are hard. Although we’ve never tried one, we’d guess that building-size Rubik’s cubes are even harder. This morning we’re wrapping our minds around the fact that such a thing actually exists, thanks to Javier Lloret, a student in Interface Culture in Austria.

    For his masters thesis Lloret designed “Puzzle Facade,” morphing an Austrian office building into a monstrous, glowing Rubik’s cube. The giant cube is meant to be cracked by a user, although Lloret’s version is even harder since the viewer can only see two sides at a time.

    The Creators Project explain the logistics on their site:

    Coded in OpenFrameworks, Puzzle Facade uses an interface-cube that holds electronic components to keep track of rotation and orientation. Then, the information is sent via Bluetooth to a computer that implements software to change the lights and color of the building facade in correlation to the handheld, interface cube.

    We can’t decide if we’re fascinated or horrified at the prospect of the urban landscape transforming into a giant, illuminated video game. Take a look at the video above and let us know your diagnosis in the comments.

  • AUDIO: Would you wear a 'SmartWig?'
    If you are bald and lost – then the ‘SmartWig’ could be just the thing for you.
  • PlanToPublish medical app provides step-by-step guidance on research manuscript production
    The PlanToPublish medical app provides step-based guidance to guide the researcher on the many steps involved in writing up research
  • Google in breach of Dutch data laws
    Google breached Dutch data protection laws by combining data on users of its different services, says the Netherlands’ privacy watchdog.
  • IT budgets to rise by 3% in 2014 as companies step up spending on mobile
    IT spending will increase by 3% in 2014, up from 1.8% last year. But shadow IT spending will add another 40% to technology budgets
  • VIDEO: The darker side of Black Friday
    As Americans flock to the shops for Black Friday’s bonanza sales, #BBCtrending investigates the darker side of the day.
  • Wave fingers, make faces: The future of computing at Intel
    The chip giant is working on “perceptual computing” technology that will sense your emotions and your body language. Here’s an inside look.
  • Inside Intel's perceptual computing lab (pictures)
    CNET visits Intel’s Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters to learn more about its work with gestures, facial recognition, and eye tracking.

Mobile Technology News, November 29, 2013

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • Comet ISON Probably Broke Up, Astronomers Say
    STOCKHOLM (AP) — Once billed as the comet of the century, Comet ISON apparently was no match for the sun.

    Scientists said images from NASA spacecraft showed the comet approaching for a slingshot around the sun on Thursday, but just a trail of dust coming out on the other end. “It does seem like Comet ISON probably hasn’t survived this journey,” U.S. Navy solar researcher Karl Battams said in a Google+ hangout.

    Phil Plait, an astronomer who runs the “Bad Astronomy” blog, agreed, saying “I don’t think the comet made it.”

    Still, he said, it wouldn’t be all bad news if the 4.5-billion-year-old space rock broke up into pieces, because astronomers might be able to study them and learn more about comets.

    “This is a time capsule looking back at the birth of the solar system,” he said.

    The comet was two-thirds of a mile wide as it got within 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) of the sun, which in space terms basically means grazing it.

    NASA solar physicist Alex Young said it would take a few hours to confirm ISON’s demise, but admitted things were not looking good.

    He said the comet had been expected to show up in images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft at around noon eastern time (1700 GMT), but almost four hours later there was “no sign of it whatsoever.”

    “Maybe over the last couple of days it’s been breaking up,” Young told The Associated Press. “The nucleus could have been gone a day or so ago.”

    Images from other spacecraft showed a light streak continuing past the sun, but Young said that was most likely a trail of dust continuing in the comet’s trajectory.

    “The comet itself is definitely gone, but it looks like there is a trail of debris,” he said.

    Comet ISON was first spotted by a Russian telescope in September last year.

    Some sky gazers speculated early on that it might become the comet of the century because of its brightness, although expectations dimmed as it got closer to the sun.

    Made up of loosely packed ice and dirt, it was essentially a dirty snowball from the Oort cloud, an area of comets and debris on the fringes of the solar system.

    Two years ago, a smaller comet, Lovejoy, grazed the sun and survived, but fell apart a couple of days later.

    “That’s why we expected that maybe this one would make it because it was 10 times the size,” Young said.

    It may be a while before there’s a sun-grazer of the same size, he said.

    “They are pretty rare,” Young said. “So we might not see one maybe even in our lifetime.”

  • Bill Nye Knows Just What He'd Do With An Invisibility Cloak&#8212And A Time Machine
    Bill Nye is many things, but being reticent isn’t one of them. From the dangers of climate change to the economic impact of evolution denial, America’s beloved “Science Guy” has spoken out on all sorts of science-related topics.

    But what does Nye think about time travel and human cloning? What would he do with an invisibility cloak? What does he think about the morality of sex with a robot? We’ve never known–until now. Keep reading for Nye’s responses to seven not-so-silly “hypotheticals” posed by HuffPost Science…

    1. If you could reengineer the human body, what is one thing you would change? I’d separate the waste disposal outlets from the reproductive systems a little more. Be good to have more durable quadricep tendons, as well–a personal issue, I admit.

    bill nye dancing
    Bill Nye on ‘Dancing With The Stars’ earlier this year. He sustained a leg injury during the competition.

    2. If you could clone one person, who would that be? Why him/her? I think you mean recreate with all the experiences and intellect of someone, who has already come into existence. I can’t think of anyone, really. I am troubled by the notion that since we’ve discovered cloning, we perhaps could or should try cloning someone. A person is a result of a life lived with other people at a certain time in history. It’s not a reproducible product.

    Cloning a person is a bad idea, because the offspring would be one evolutionary step behind his or her contemporaries. The key feature of sexual reproduction is that we get an offspring that is inherently different from the parents. Germs and parasites, which (or who) reproduce at extraordinary speeds, can’t quite deal with the new mixture of genes. My O my…

    3. Imagine there’s an open seat on the first mission to send humans to Mars. Would you sign up? It would depend on who’s mounting the mission. A few of the proposals of late seem underfunded, to put it generously, and just unrealistic.

    bill nye
    This 1989 illustration from NASA shows artist’s conception of a Mars outpost.

    4. If time travel were possible, what day/era would you want to get to? Why? What would you do? Whom would you meet? I’d go for 250 years from now, after steps have been taken to address climate change and the world’s human population has stabilized. I think my English would be intelligible that many years hence. I’d like to meet the human woman with the best smile and the best sense of humor on Earth. I claim that to have a good sense of humor, one has to be smart. A man can dream.

    5. If you could be any animal but a human, which animal would you be and why? A well cared for dog.

    6. If scientists were to create a real-life “invisibility cloak,” how would you use it? I’d disrupt climate change denier meetings.

    7. Would sex with a robot be cheating? In my view, we have sex robots already. Sex toys or “marital aids” are sold by the millions, to a large extent, as a substitute for cheating.

    robot sex poll

    Have any more questions you’d like to pose to Bill Nye? Post them in the comments section below.

  • All Art Authority apps half-price for Black Friday

    Art Authority, developers of the award-winning line of classic art apps, today announced all Art Authority apps will be on sale for half price on Black Friday, November 29, 2013. Art Authority for iPad and Art Authority for Mac will be priced at $4.99, and Art Authority K-12 for iPad at $3.99, each [...]

    The post All Art Authority apps half-price for Black Friday appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Tiffen App Sale Offers Major Holiday Savings on Photo Effects Apps

    The Tiffen Company, a leading manufacturer of award-winning digital imaging accessories, announced big holiday savings on its award-winning apps, Tiffen Photo fx for $.99 (regularly $2.99) and Tiffen Photo fx Ultra for $1.99 (regularly $4.99). Available for purchase on the iTunes Store, the Tiffen [...]

    The post Tiffen App Sale Offers Major Holiday Savings on Photo Effects Apps appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Celebrate the Season with 9 iOS Apps for Kids Free for Black Friday

    Croco Studio developer of a series of iOS learn through play apps for children 5 and under today announces that its entire catalogue of apps will be available for free download from the App Store on Black Friday, November 29, 2013. Get a head start on holiday shopping by downloading exciting new [...]

    The post Celebrate the Season with 9 iOS Apps for Kids Free for Black Friday appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • SpaceX Rocket Launch Halted By Last-Second Glitch
    By Irene and Klotz

    (Reuters) – The launch of an unmanned Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 9 rocket was aborted one minute before liftoff on Thursday due to an unexplained technical issue, company officials said.

    It was the second attempt this week to launch a communications satellite for SES, which operates the world’s second largest fleet.

    An initial attempt on Monday was called off after unusual pressure readings in the rocket’s liquid oxygen tank.

    The company’s next launch attempt is on Friday.

    Perched on top of the rocket was a 7,000-pound (3,175 kg) communications satellite owned by Luxembourg-based SES S.A., which operates a 54-satellite fleet, the world’s second-largest.

    The satellite, known as SES-8 and worth about $100 million, will be positioned to provide television, cable, broadband and other services to customers in India, China, Vietnam and other markets in Asia.

    “It’s an extremely important satellite for us,” Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer of SES, told reporters at a prelaunch gathering on Sunday in Cocoa Beach, Florida.

    “We know that as we go forward into these very significant growth markets that it’s absolutely critical that we have a cost-effective and efficient way to get to orbit. That’s really what SpaceX has brought us.”

    Previous SES satellites were launched primarily aboard Russian Proton and European Ariane rockets, which cost far more than the approximately $55 million the company paid for its ride on SpaceX’s Falcon booster, Halliwell said.

    He would not say exactly how much SpaceX undercut the competition, but did say SES got a discount by agreeing to fly on Falcon 9′s first mission to the high altitude that communications satellites require.

    In addition to a September 29 test flight of an upgraded Falcon 9, older versions of the rocket have flown successfully five times, including three missions for NASA to deliver cargo to the International Space Station, which orbits about 250 miles above Earth.

    QUARTER OF THE WAY TO THE MOON

    SpaceX aims to put SES-8 into an elliptical orbit that reaches more than 50,000 miles from Earth, about a quarter of the way to the moon.

    That altitude requires less fuel for SES-8 to fly itself into its 22,369-mile (36,000-km) high operational orbit, thereby extending its service life.

    SpaceX hoped to demonstrate its ability to fire up the Falcon 9′s upper-stage engine twice during the September test flight, but that did not work. Engineers later realized that liquid oxygen, used for chilling, had come into contact with the motor’s igniter lines, causing them to freeze.

    “It was not a complicated issue to fix. Obviously, we were glad we caught it on a mission where we were only demonstrating that second burn, as opposed to one where we have to get it done,” SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell told reporters during a prelaunch conference call.

    The company needs three successful launches of its upgraded Falcon rocket before it will be eligible to compete to carry the U.S. military’s largest and most expensive satellites, a market now monopolized by United Launch Alliance, a partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

    “There’s always some risk associated with the flight not working. So we’re very appreciative that SES would place a bet on SpaceX,” said Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive.

    SES has options for three more Falcon flights, including one on the firm’s heavy-lift rocket, which is under development and expected to debut next year.

    SpaceX’s launch manifest includes nearly 50 other launches, worth about $4 billion. About 75 percent of the flights are for commercial customers.

    “Our prices are the most competitive of any in the world,” Musk said. “We will force other rocket companies to either develop new technology that’s a lot better or they have to exit the launch market.”

    Halliwell said SpaceX competitors were “shaking in their shoes.”

    “There are a lot of people who hope that SpaceX is going to fail,” he said. “This is really rocking the industry.”

    The global satellite industry had revenues of nearly $190 billion in 2012, including nearly $90 billion in television services alone, the Satellite Industry Association trade group reported in October. The U.S. share of the market is 45 percent, the report said.

    (Editing by Christopher Wilson)
  • Africa's first start-up bus hits the road
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    London’s Science museum is hosting a three-day festival dedicates to robots inspired by nature.
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  • MacMall 60 Hour Black Friday Sale Underway!

    AlliOSNews readers, let Black Friday begin… on Thanksgiving!
    Now that you have all consumed your turkey, stuffing and are likely watching football, put those iPads and laptops to work and start saving big on MacMall’s 60 hour Black Friday sale.  It is underway now and there are savings everywhere [...]

    The post MacMall 60 Hour Black Friday Sale Underway! appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Giveaway: EasyPak 5-volt charger
    Uuuuug, so much turkey. So much stuffing. So much delicious gluttony. Take a break from the never-ending piles of food because it is time to recharge with another installment of our Holiday Giveaway Blitz! We have two EasyPak 5-volt chargers from Newtrent to give away to our readers. Just in time too. Didn’t think my phone was going to make it through another plate.
        



  • Peaches Geldof tweet could be probed
    Peaches Geldof could face a criminal investigation after naming two women who allowed their babies to be abused by Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins.
  • Briefly: Skulls of Shogun for iOS, DEVONtechnologies' update software
    Originally released for Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Steam, Skulls of Shogun is now available for iOS users. The Bone-A-Fide edition, Skulls features five episodes of single-player content, and 36 multi-player maps, playable over the Internet via turn-based Skulls Anywhere mode, or pass-and-play with up to four people.
        



  • FIFA 14 Next-Gen Review: Our Verdict On EA's Latest Football Game
    FIFA 14 is EA’s latest instalment in the titanic series of football simulations. It’s out on Xbox One and PS4 at launch.

    The Pitch:

    “With ‘Pure Shot’, players have the intelligence to adjust their stride and approach angle to find the best position for hitting the back of the net.”

    New Features:

    • ‘Pure shot’ gives players more control over positioning when attacking
    • Precision movement system with new pivots, cuts and movement options
    • ‘Real ball physics’
    • Ultimate Team + exclusive ‘legends’ mode on Xbox 360
    • Co-op seasons
    • Global transfer network
    • Refreshed graphics, teams, players

    ea

    Verdict:

    4starstechdarkblue

    Next Gen Update: The below review stands for FIFA 14 – as you’d expect it’s an improved, tightened game of digital footy, with a few remaining niggles and an arguable layer of dust that someone, someday, will blow away in an instant. Maybe.

    But on the next-gen consoles, it really is visually quite beautiful. The animations are ridiculously smooth and varieed, and the game as a whole feels different too – heavier, perhaps, but more real – kinetic – and powerful. The stadiums are brilliantly realised, the player’s look more accurate than ever – and while it won’t be until next year’s game at least before the full horsepower of the Xbox One and PS4 is used to its fullest, this is a really impressive start.

    Like Manchester United so far in 2014 EA Sports stood still with FIFA 13. The gameplay was not so much of an issue as the slowness of the game, which was inexplicably sluggish and more dawdling than the earliest FIFA versions on PlayStation 3.

    It is obvious Fifa 14 is an improvement immediately after you select your preferred language. The menu is quicker to navigate and the design is simpler than the complicated home menu of last year’s incarnation. Changing players could be an infuriating process with unlucky 13, but it’s swift in the latest offering. No longer does the ordeal resemble a stream buffering.

    Other kinks ironed out include the delay when you’re desperate to switch to ultra-attack after conceding in games. The superfluous scoreboard still appears, but it doesn’t linger for an eternity.

    The most notable difference in the gameplay is the passing and pace of the matches – which are slower. This can be altered, but it probably lends an even more realistic feel, especially since players are more confrontational, grappling and remonstrating with each other, as well as the referee.

    Players are more vulnerable, too. Real-life weaknesses have been taken into consideration though the defences are still frustratingly miserly, as EA veer away from the early-21st century FIFA editions which enabled you to tot up basketball scores. Some of the new celebrations are daft but laugh-out-loud funny. You’re never going to see Wayne Rooney do a mime act on an actual pitch.

    Free-kicks are still too dull. It would be nostalgic and shrewd of EA if they took a leaf out of FIFA 03′s book, when you could aim with a crosshair before attempting to hit the green spot (much alike taking penalties on this decade’s games) on something that resembled Sky Sports’ cricket rev counter. It was tough to pull off but so satisfying whenever you bent it like Beckham.

    Manager mode has been beefed up, with contracts trickier to negotiate, more mail to respond to and a greater emphasis on nurturing potential academy graduates. There is perhaps too much detail as it resembles Football Manager even more when FIFA is supposed to be escapism away from that life-ruining madness.

    The Global Transfer Network, admittedly, is a positive addition and more useful than filtering for the player to fill your requirements. You’re allowed to hire up to six scouts, whose experience and success varies, before assigning them to all the corners of the universe.

    Jeff Stelling is added to the Sky Sports heavy cast, while Martin Tyler and Alan Smith remember how they were driving through Wigan when news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement was announced. There’s still no Gary Neville, disappointingly, with Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend the reserve options, but the soundtrack is much more bearable.

    Online mode remains competent at best. Games are arranged quickly and the speed, depending on your broadband service provider, is decent though there is scope for improving the overall experience.

    FIFA 14 is a success and the game-makers have evidently listened to the criticism which 13 generated. With its nifty layout and slickness, it is a vast improvement and all the more enjoyable for it.

  • Drones used in jail smuggling attempt
    Prison officers’ union calls for tighter security after drones were used to try to smuggle contraband into jails in US and Canada.
  • Tip search for £4m bitcoins computer
    A man is searching a landfill site hoping to find a computer hard drive he threw away which is now worth over £4m.
  • Global real estate firm gets edge with cloud and mobile upgrade
    Real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield has achieved competitive advatage by embracing cloud and mobility
  • 'Farcical' Ashes game taken off sale
    The official video game for the Ashes cricket tour is pulled from sale after being branded “shameful”, “embarrassing” and “farcical”.
  • Why You Should Give Your Kid an iPad for Christmas (It Isn't What You Think)
    There isn’t a holiday season that goes by that most parents aren’t treated to the seasonal joy of caroling neighbors and cajoling children. There’s always something your kids want that you don’t want to give them, whether because it’s too expensive, too mature or too hard to find. But this year, you should seriously consider giving him or her that pricey iPad (or tablet) that adorns many an underage wishlist this year — not for their sake, but for your own.

    After all, I think we parents can admit that our kids — even the ones who haven’t mastered long division yet — probably know as well as we do (if not better) how to use our devices, so whatever controls we think we’re setting, we’re probably not — and that’s if we don’t have to ask them to set them for us. But in reality, most of us are as rigorous about installing parental blocks and monitoring programs as we are about securing our smartphones and password protecting our computers — which is to say, not very.

    But in the mean time, our iPads and tablets contain a whole lot of data that can be put at risk by little fingers: banking and credit card company apps, shopping apps, even geo-location data on social media sites or pictures that tell our “friends” and “followers” not only who we are, but where we are, what we have and what we’re doing. Giving your tablet to your kid will very likely impact your search history — what your search engine knows you’re looking for and finds out you’re looking at — which can have legal consequences (pirated downloads or illegal imagery, for instance) or it can just annoy you by showing you less-tailored results.

    Meanwhile, if a child is under 13, most companies — from Facebook to search engines and beyond — aren’t allowed to offer them accounts or track what they do. (Rep. Joe Barton of Texas and Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts recently introduced legislation extend that prohibition to children up to age 15.) So if your little (or not so little) ones had their own iPads and their own accounts, that which can be traced back to you won’t be.

    But the solution isn’t to deny your kids access to Angry Birds or whatever educational program you’d like to believe they spend just as much time playing. (Besides, every parent knows that an out-and-out prohibition against anything is more likely to result in extraordinary efforts to do that thing anyway.) Instead, set aside the money and get them an iPad of their very own — and make sure the Genius Bar helps you set up all those parental controls.

    That way, your child gets what she or he wants, you get the privacy protections you need and you both get the security of knowing that his or her online behavior won’t impact either of your lives for a little while longer.

    At least until they figure out how to download SnapChat.

Mobile Technology News, November 28, 2013

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • Melesta Games gives apps away Free for Thanksgiving

    This Thanksgiving, Melesta Games is saying thanks to its fans with a massive Thanksgiving Holiday Giveaway. For a limited time, players can download the company’s best games for iOS complete Free! The military-themed tower defense game Toy Defense, its sequel Toy Defense 2, the colorful match-3 [...]

    The post Melesta Games gives apps away Free for Thanksgiving appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Judge tosses lawsuit over alleged iOS 'tracking'
    US District Court Judge Lucy Koh — who just concluded a damages retrial between Apple and Samsung and will preside over the next round in the two companies’ ongoing patent battles — dismissed a consumer protection lawsuit on Wednesday that charged that iOS’ "geotracking" data — discovered in iOS 4 in 2011 to be an unprotected file that could theoretically have been accessed by third parties was deliberately designed to collect personal data without consent.
        



  • VIDEO: Can virtual reality reduce racism?
    A team at the University of Barcelona say spending a few minutes in virtual reality can change white people’s perceptions of other skin colours.
  • Bitcoin's rise divides the experts
    Fantasy money or the future of finance?
  • Time To Move To Hong Kong: U.S. Internet Is Stupidly Slow, Report Finds
    On the eve of this traditional American holiday, we’ve got some news that may be obvious to those who’ve ventured to grandparents’ and relatives’ houses where the Internet is less-than-speedy: Download speeds in the U.S. suck, a new report confirms.

    Network diagnostics company Ookla on Tuesday released its most recent country-by-country Internet Service Provider (ISP) “Speed Test” results. According to Ookla’s report, the U.S. ranks a mere 31st in the world when it comes to Internet download speeds — behind much of Europe and Southeast Asia.

    (Story continues below chart.)

    Data via Ookla.

    According to Ookla, the dismal ranking isn’t new. Since September 2011, Ookla’s monthly speed tests have always ranked the U.S. between 25th and 40th place when it comes to web speeds, Ookla spokesman Jamie Stevens said in an email.

    Ookla’s numbers are relatively consistent with a report released in September 2011 by content delivery service Pando Networks, which ranked the U.S. 26th in the world in Internet download speeds.

    Interestingly, a more recent report, Akamai’s July 2013 “State Of The Internet,” ranked the U.S. at a more optimistic 9th place. When asked about the numbers on the Akamai report, Stevens was skeptical. He claimed Akamai’s measurments, generated as a byproduct of Akamai’s content delivery services, weren’t as accurate as Ookla’s measurements, which come from dedicated speed tests.

    Whatever the numbers may be, it’s long been conventional wisdom that U.S. Internet service has problems. A multitude of factors have been blamed — including everything from the FCC not sufficiently encouraging competition to the country’s large stretches of sparsely-populated landscape.

    But with about one-third of Americans lacking broadband Internet according to the Federal Communications Commission, the cost of broadband Internet prices climbing, and the U.S. struggling to keep up with many other developed nations when it comes to connection speeds, America’s broadband providers might want to step up their game — or risk the country falling on the wrong side of the global digital divide.

  • White House Nears Decision To Split NSA, Cyber Command Leadership
    By Warren Strobel and Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON, Nov 27 (Reuters) – The White House is nearing a decision on splitting up the eavesdropping National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, which conducts cyber warfare, a proposed reform prompted in part by revelations of NSA’s widespread snooping, individuals briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

    As part of the emerging plan, the NSA likely would get a civilian director for the first time in its 61-year history, the individuals said.

    Both agencies are now headed by the same person, Army General Keith Alexander, who is retiring in March as NSA’s longest-serving director.

    While Alexander is highly regarded in the intelligence community, critics have questioned the current arrangement. They say it concentrates too much power in one individual and that the two agencies have different missions.

    NSA monitors phone, email and other communications for national security threats. Cyber Command defends Pentagon and other U.S. computer networks, infiltrates adversary networks and conducts offensive cyberwarfare.

    Two administration officials confirmed that the discussions about the split are nearing a critical stage. They spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement has been made.

    White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said President Barack Obama has not made a final decision.

    “With General Alexander’s planned departure next spring, this is a natural point to look at this question to ensure we are appropriately postured to address current and future security needs,” Hayden said. “We have no new decisions to announce at this point.”

    But one official said that it was possible a decision could come soon and could even be made public simultaneously with the results of White House reviews of NSA activities prompted by disclosures by former contractor Edward Snowden.

    An unclassified version of one of two reviews, conducted by a group of outside experts, is tentatively due to be released in mid-December.

    Snowden gave media organizations highly classified documents describing electronic snooping by the agency and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters GCHQ, that was far more extensive than previously known. He is in Russia where he was granted temporary asylum.

    Since its inception in 1952, NSA has been led by a general or admiral, with a civilian deputy director.

    Under the emerging plan, the director would be a civilian and the head of Cyber Command, which is a U.S. military command, would be a military officer.

    Reuters reported last month that Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Navy’s 10th Fleet and the Navy’s top cyberwarfare officer, was a leading candidate to be the next NSA director.

    Rogers is now more likely to take over U.S. Cyber Command, individuals familiar with the matter said.

    A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Given that we are still looking at the question of whether the position would be split, we are not yet considering preferred candidates.” (Additional reporting by Phil Stewart. Editing by Alistair Bell and Philip Barbara)
  • Xbox brings video and TV show streaming to the Web
    Microsoft’s Xbox Video store makes its way to the Web, but a Windows Phone app is still “coming soon.”
  • College Textbooks Could Be Free Under Legislation Introduced In Congress
    Legislation introduced in Congress could make buying expensive textbooks a thing of the past.

    The bill sponsored by by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) would create a grant program for colleges and universities to “create and expand the use of textbooks that can be made available online” and offered with free access to the public. Students — and anyone else for that matter — would have access to digital textbooks and not be bound to buying the latest edition stocked in a campus bookstore.

    The bill, named the “Affordable College Textbook Act,” was filed by Durbin and Franken earlier this month. A complimentary bill was drafted in the House by Reps. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) and George Miller (D-Calif.).

    Durbin cited the success of a $150,000 grant to the University of Illinois for its Open Source Textbook Initiative. Thanks to the grant, UI faculty were able to develop a book that’s available to anyone for free and can be updated when new information becomes available. Similar results were achieved at the University of California-Davis as a result of a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

    “This bill can replicate and build on this success and help make the cost of attending college more affordable,” Durbin said in a statement.

    One of the problems with traditional textbooks is that an added chapter can render an edition worthless, preventing students from saving money by buying used copies.

    The cost of college textbooks increased 812 percent since 1978, or three times the rate of inflation, according to data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzed by University of Michigan economist Mark Perry. A Government Accountability Office report found college textbook prices went up 82 percent in just the past 10 years.

    As a result, seven out of 10 undergraduates admit to skimping out on purchasing at least one textbook, according to a 2011 survey by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

    The legislation also calls for a report from the U.S. Department of Education to the Senate’s education committee by mid-2016 detailing adoption of open textbooks and how much it saves students. By July 2017, the Comptroller General of the United States would have to submit a report on what has caused changes to price of college textbooks and the impact open textbooks would have on the cost of regular, traditional ones.

    “The dirty secret about textbooks is that they don’t have to be so expensive given the rise of technology,” said Matthew Segal, co-founder of OurTime.org, which endorses the bill. “Even worse, if you put textbook debt in larger context with student debt, the affordability of college is becoming less and less tenable, and, as a result, the American dream is becoming more difficult for the next generation to attain.”

  • YouTube Commenters Have Never Sounded More Melodramatic
    Recently, Google has made efforts to clean up comments on YouTube, most notably forcing would-be trolls to sign in to the video site with their Google+ accounts. The Google+ integration is aimed at civilizing a commenting culture often the subject of ridicule elsewhere online.

    But thankfully, a web series from YouTube user Dead Parrot immortalizes the comments as they were and as we absolutely love them to be. It debuted with a simple premise: Elderly, well-to-do men in suits read off absurd conversations with the gravity of actors from PBS’s “Masterpiece Theatre.”

    The latest episode reenacts commenters on a video of a fireman rescuing a cat — basically, the most innocent of videos. But since this is a word-for-word transcription of YouTube comments, it’s therefore necessarily immature and NSFW. But you probably knew that.

    THE ORIGINAL VIDEO:

  • Cyber Safety on Cyber Monday
    Last year on Cyber Monday, consumers spent $1.98 billion shopping online, topping Thanksgiving online sales by 17 percent. That’s a serious amount of electronic traffic, which provides ample opportunities for bad actors to sneak their scams and fraudulent offers in among the deals. The best way to stay safe as you shop online this weekend is to be alert and aware of the realities of the Internet.

    To look at some of the potential pitfalls facing shoppers this season, the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) examined the registered typo variations of the top 100-trafficked websites as determined by Interbrand. We found 2,089 domain names in this category. We then examined the registration information and content for each domain.

    The data showed that only 19 percent of the domain names resolved to the target content, which means the marketplace is full of bad actors trying to fool consumers.

    So, as you go online to nab gifts for your loved ones (and maybe pick up something for yourself as well), here are a couple of common diversions and deceptions to watch for and navigate away from:

    The Pay Per Click (PPC) Site

    Pay-per-click (PPC) sites are the most common websites you’ll come across on a typo domain –PPC advertisements are tools used to monetize the internet user traffic that arrives at a domain name. They are simple to set up — there are companies that provide “parking” services that will automatically populate the site with advertisement links related to the domain name. 32 percent of domain names that CADNA examined fell into the PPC site category.

    2013-11-27-PPCSite.png

    Advertisers opt in to programs that post ads to websites — for example, a cookware advertiser would do well to have its ad seen on a cooking blog — and pay according to the number of clicks a particular ad receives. Whenever an internet user clicks on an advertising link, the advertiser pays a fee that is split between the company that provides the parking service and the domain name owner. In many instances this is a legitimate source of passive income for a domain name owner and an advertising boost for the advertiser. But on cybersquatted sites, retailers are basically paying cybersquatters for the retailer’s own traffic. While these sites are minimally disruptive to internet users, they are like parasites, feeding off the good name and work of others, so it is still best to avoid them when you can.

    The Scam/Malware Site

    Chances are, you’ve had the experience of typing a domain name into your browser bar expecting to navigate to a brand or social media site, only to be met with prompts to enter information for a prize or, perhaps, prompts to download files from the website. Downloading an attachment from such a website means exposing your computer to harmful malware, which could extract personal information that could be saved on your computer.

    2013-11-27-Scamsite.png

    Two percent of the sites CADNA examined hosted scams or potentially harbored malware. Both scenarios could expose you to fraud or theft so don’t fill out any personal information or download attachments from a website you’re not familiar with or aren’t in the habit of using in that way.

    The “Affiliate” Site

    Some brands offer affiliate programs, which allow third party website owners to post the brands’ links and banners on the third party site or to send traffic to the brand’s site directly through domain forwards (watch what happens in the browser bar — you’ll notice the redirect). In return, the owner of the site hosting the link receives a commission for every click-through that results in a purchase. These affiliate programs are meant to be mutually beneficial: Brands get traffic funneled to their sites, and their affiliates can earn a commission by providing that service. Three percent of sites examined were labeled as affiliate sites.

    Affiliates are in violation of the brand’s agreement, however, if they register and enroll trademark-infringing domains. Many sites on typo-domains are not operating under the authority of the target company. Take, for example twtter.biz:

    2013-11-27-Affiliatesite.png

    This may look like the page redirected you to Twitter, but logging in here takes you to a video on YouTube. Similarly misleading sites could do more than just redirect attention — some sites dupe Internet users into divulging personal information, purchasing counterfeit goods (or goods that will never come at all), or expose their computers to harmful malware. Don’t assume that a typo domain has the blessing of the brand it appears to be associated with. It is best to stick with a brand’s clearly communicated domain names.

    So don’t let the tryptophan in your turkey lull you into a false sense of security. Be careful this holiday season: Only visit sites that have been clearly advertised. Double check the spelling in the address bar if something looks a bit off. Don’t divulge personal information where you’re not used to doing so. And don’t download suspicious-looking attachments.

    Happy bargain hunting!

  • Are Instagram Ads Destined to Scale and Fail?
    There has certainly been a burst of negative feedback since Instagram rolled out promoted content into their users’ news feeds last week. But the fact of the matter is that an initial backlash against the launch of advertisements on a network that was previously free of them is to be expected. The roll out of ads is unlikely to cause Instagram’s user base of 150 million to abandon the network anytime soon.

    However, Instagram’s journey as an advertising platform has just begun, and the path to profitability is rife with potential aesthetic pitfalls that could see them dethroned as the “hip” social network among other rising social media platforms. Instagram will have to tread very carefully as they continue to scale their advertising model, which they surely will under pressure of a publicly-traded Facebook overlord.

    How Instagram chooses to evolve their advertising platform will ultimately determine their fate. Will Instagram retain its cool, uncluttered image with native advertising from big brands? Or will they begin to offer advertising solutions for smaller brands — expanding monetization while also putting their own “coolness” at risk?

    Instagram is fully aware of what is at stake. The company has taken an extremely careful approach to the initial roll out of advertising by notifying users ahead of time, explaining their ad format in detail, welcoming feedback on specific ads and giving users the option to hide ads which bother them. Additionally, in an attempt to ensure quality and relevancy, Instagram has limited their first advertisers to large, nationally-recognized brands that will be easy for users to identify.

    The early participation by Michael Kors, Lexus and others reflects an embrace of native advertising — with promoted posts blending (relatively) seamlessly into users’ news feeds. This approach enables approved advertising partners to launch high-impression branding campaigns that are likely to resonate with some of Instagram’s 150 million active users.

    However, even if smaller brands were eligible to advertise on Instagram, the current ad format would serve them poorly. To avoid irritating their user base, Instagram’s initial ad format does not allow advertisers to include destination URLs for users to click and complete an advertiser’s desired action — making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. The ads don’t even allow advertisers to prompt users to “follow” them via their promoted posts — another significant KPI for most brands advertising via social media. Without KPIs that can be directly attributed to Instagram advertising, the current ad format would not prove to be a measurable or viable advertising medium for anyone other than enterprise-level businesses.

    But what will Instagram look like if click-through and follow functionality becomes available to the average digital advertiser? Even with a gradual expansion, opening the platform this way will cause a jarring user experience crowded by loud banner ads and pushy calls to action highlighting free shipping and discounts. This evolution would likely be a massive turn off to users, could irreversibly damage Instagram’s brand and may hurt their chances of remaining competitive a few years from now.

    And it’s inevitable. Though Instagram has defined their mission statement as “capturing and sharing the world’s moments through photo and video features,” their real mission under Facebook is to make money. In order to become profitable and reassure investors, Instagram will have to continue to expand and monetize their platform with options that are appealing to a greater volume of advertisers. However, in order to pull this off successfully, Instagram had better tread lightly and take innovative steps to maintain a native advertising format while still expanding to serve mid-sized businesses.

  • Airbus Map Shows All The Routes Possible On The Superjumbo Jet
    Want to know everywhere you can travel on Airbus’ A380 superjumbo jet? The company has created a friendly, colorful map of all the routes fliers can take. The jet, after all, is the largest in the world, with a double-deck, wide-body and four-engines.

    With color-coded lines that branch off in different directions, the map looks more like it’s depicting a subway system than planet Earth.

    Check out the map, posted on Airbus’ Facebook timeline, below!

    airbusclass=”fb-xfbml-parse-ignore”>Post by Airbus.

  • Giveaway: PureGear Utilitarian case
    This week MacNN and Electronista are getting into the holiday spirit, and as such we are going to be giving away a lot of cool prizes from today through Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the weekend in between. Be sure to check often to get in on the action. First up we are giving away three PureGear Utilitarian cases for iPhone 4/4S and 5, or Galaxy S III.
        



  • Bercow sets sights on 'e-democracy'
    Commons Speaker John Bercow launches a special commission on “digital democracy”, saying it could pave the way for online voting.
  • Kanye West And Kim Kardashian's 'Bound 2' Motorcycle Might Have Been Sold On eBay
    By now you’ve probably witnessed the pop culture wonder that is Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s “Bound 2″ music video. Well, one eager fan decided to do one better than keep hitting “play:” He actually bought the motorcycle Kim straddles Kanye on … or at least that’s what its seller on eBay claims.

    The post appears to have gone up yesterday (Nov. 26) and was sold shortly thereafter. The starting bid for it was 4,500 British pounds, or just over $7,300.

    moto

    In the description, its seller, eBay user carmiketimm, wrote:

    2010 registered Honda CRF250 used in the Kanye West Bound 2 Video.

    Kanye came to London in October 2013 to shoot the video with Nick Knight in the Park Royal Studios.

    When we delivered the bike we had no idea that Kanye and his bride Kim would be having sex on it.

    That said, the 2010 CRF is one of the world’s most capable dirtbikes and can handle anything that’s thrown at it.

    Prior to the shoot this bike completed 5 x 2 Welsh enduros and nearly 2 Weston beach races.

    We haven’t cleaned the bike so winning bidder receives it as seen, with any marks or residues from the shoot included – possibly with some unicorn gold dust or whatever it is that Kanye shoots out of his magic penis.

    Bike located in Central London and Will ship worldwide [eBay]

    No details yet about the lucky buyer.

  • Tongue Piercing Lets The Paralyzed Drive Wheelchairs
    WASHINGTON (AP) — An experimental device is letting paralyzed people drive wheelchairs simply by flicking their tongue in the right direction.

    Key to this wireless system: Users get their tongue pierced with a magnetic stud that resembles jewelry and acts like a joystick, in hopes of offering them more mobility and independence. Researchers reported Wednesday that 11 people paralyzed from the neck down rapidly learned to use the tongue device to pilot their wheelchairs through an obstacle course full of twists and turns, and to operate a computer, too.

    “It’s really powerful because it’s so intuitive,” said Jason DiSanto, 39, of Atlanta, who was among the first spinal cord-injured patients to get his tongue pierced for science and try out the system. “The first time I did it, people thought I was driving for, like, years.”

    The team of researchers in Atlanta and Chicago put the Tongue Drive System to the test against one of the most widely used assistive technologies, called sip-and-puff, that users operate by breathing into a straw. Using the tongue, patients operated their wheelchairs a bit faster but just as accurately — and on average, they performed about three times better on video game-like computer tests, said lead researcher Maysam Ghovanloo, director of Georgia Tech’s bionics lab.

    The research, reported in the journal Science Translational Medicine, is an early step that allowed use of the device only inside laboratories. Larger studies in real-world conditions are required before the device ever could be sold. And the tongue piercing may be a turn-off for some potential users, the researchers acknowledge.

    But the work is attracting attention from specialists who say there’s a big need for more assistive technologies so they can customize care for the severely disabled.

    “For people who have very limited ability to control a power wheelchair, there aren’t that many options,” said Dr. Brad Dicianno, a rehabilitation specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who wasn’t involved with the new research. “There is some interesting promise for this tongue control.”

    Here’s how the system works: A headset detects the tongue’s position when the user flicks that magnetic stud. Touch a spot on the right bottom tooth to go right, for example. The headset wirelessly beams that information to a smartphone the user carries. An app then sends the command to move the wheelchair or the computer cursor.

    Why the tongue? “It’s unobstrusive, easy to use and flexible,” said Ghovanloo, a biomedical engineer who created the system and has started a company that is working with Georgia Tech to commercialize it.

    Most people with spinal cord injuries — or neurologic diseases that also can paralyze — still can move the tongue. It doesn’t require special concentration. The tongue is pretty tireless. And the amount of real estate the brain’s motor cortex dedicates to the tongue and mouth rivals that of the fingers and hand, offering multiple complex movements, Ghovanloo said. He led the team of researchers from Atlanta’s Shepherd Center for spinal injuries, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University.

    DiSanto, an electrical engineer who became paralyzed from the neck down in a 2009 diving accident, said the headset is less intrusive than the sip-and-puff device that he normally uses, which requires a straw-like tube to be worn in front of his face. More important, he said, the tongue drive gave him more control, allowing him to move diagonally, for example.

    As for the piercing, “there is some getting used to it,” said DiSanto, who got his in 2011. It took about a week to heal, and speaking and eating felt funny initially but he got used to the sensation.

    It’s not for everyone. The current study tested the device in 23 able-bodied participants and 11 paralyzed volunteers. By study’s end, all of the disabled volunteers preferred the tongue system to their regular assistive device, said co-author Joy Bruce, who heads the Shepherd Center’s spinal cord injury lab. But patients who were older or worried that a tongue stud wasn’t acceptable in their profession decided against participating.

    Ten other patients signed up but dropped out. One had the piercing fall out, researchers reported, while others had problems finding transportation to the study site, unrelated medical issues or lost interest.

    Ghovanloo plans to add functions to the smartphone app to let users turn on the TV or the lights with a flick of the tongue, too. He’s also made the device less visible — putting the headset’s sensors on a dental retainer instead. Studies begin soon to tell if that approach works without compromising users’ speech.

    DiSanto has signed up for that next round of testing.

    “Somebody that’s in a wheelchair already has a stigma,” he said. “If there was something that could be developed to control my wheelchair and the environment around me, to make me more independent without having to have medical devices coming out of my mouth, it would be a huge benefit.”

  • Briefly: Garmin Navigation app sale, new reddit client app for iPad
    Garmin has announced that its premium navigation apps for iOS, NAVIGON and StreetPilot, will be available at a 50 per cent discount on Black Friday. Garmin’s premium apps offer a range of features not included in its free app versions, such as being able to store map information locally on the iPhone.
        



  • Don't Worry, Microsoft And Sony Are Taking Care Of The New Game Console Glitches
    Move over, zombies. Step aside, terrorists. Aliens, out of the way.

    There are a few new foes affecting gamers that are proving to be far more destructive than any on-screen villain.

    With nicknames like “the blue light of death” and “the disc drive of doom,” they’re the game-ending glitches causing headaches for a few gamers who picked up the next-generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles at launch.

    Microsoft Corp. said Monday it’s replacing the Xbox One units of users who have reported systems that won’t read discs, an issue dubbed “the disc drive of doom.” The company said the problem is affecting “a very small number” of customers, who will also receive one free downloadable game from Microsoft Game Studios.

    Sony Corp. announced after the debut of the PS4 earlier this month that it was replacing the units for “less than 1 percent” of users whose new consoles malfunctioned and displayed a pulsating blue light. The problem was given the moniker “the blue light of death.”

    Both glitches recall Microsoft’s “red ring of death,” when production problems caused several predecessors of the Xbox One to lock up and display three flashing red lights. Ultimately, the technology giant extended customers’ warranties to three years and said in 2007 that it had spent more than $1 billion to repair the problems associated with the Xbox 360.

    “I understand these things happen, but it sucks when they happen to you,” said Donald Blankinship, an Xbox One owner who experienced a faulty disc drive after purchasing the console at Best Buy. “I can still play downloadable games until the replacement arrives, so at least there’s that.”

    Other users have reported consoles being completely unresponsive out of the box. Both Sony and Microsoft said they’re working to troubleshoot such issues and replace broken consoles as quickly as possible.

    While the issues seem to affect a minority of Xbox One and PS4 owners, the concerns could deter consumers who regularly play games on smartphones and mobile devices. Sony’s PS4 costs $399. Microsoft’s Xbox One cost $100 more and includes a Kinect sensor.

    “When I think about the Xbox brand, we want it to mean quality,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios, at last week’s Xbox One launch event. “That’s critical to us. I think you can overcome things, but we don’t plan on that. We plan on testing it — tens of thousands of hours — to make sure it’s going to be a solid launch.”

    Microsoft and Sony both announced that more than 1 million Xbox One and PS4 consoles were sold in the 24 hours after their release this month. It’s been seven and eight years respectively since Microsoft and Sony launched the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Sony said it expects to sell 5 million PS4 units by the end of its fiscal year in March.

    ___

    Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang .

  • 7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now
    It’s Thanksgiving week, which means that plenty of you have some much-needed down time to enjoy.

    It’s also Wednesday, which means we’re back with 7 fresh new sites to help you pass the hours with your family before Turkey Day.

    Check out this week’s picks below and let us know if you come across any awesome new time-wasters we should feature.

  • Mobile Technology News, November 27, 2013

    As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

    • Kingdom of Pirates Updated with New Activities and Awards

      The new version of Kingdom of Pirates made many new features available that players have been anticipating. The adventure continues with new scenes that have been unlocked. Amazing new world awaits players in this treasure-hunting journey. After the new update, another officer is able to join the [...]

      The post Kingdom of Pirates Updated with New Activities and Awards appeared first on AlliOSNews.

    • Sony files patent for 'SmartWig'
      Sony files a patent application for “SmartWig”, which it says can help navigate roads and change slides during a presentation.
    • App Promises Doing This One Thing Every Day Will Make You Happier
      What if there was a free, fast way to feel happier every day? There is.

      Expressing gratitude makes people happier, according to Tal Ben-Shahar, who’s famous for having taught a course at Harvard on happiness. In the course and in his books and talks, Ben-Shahar points to research finding that people who write five things they’re grateful for every day in a journal are happier, healthier and more successful than people who don’t.

      And yet, in this fast-paced world, we don’t express gratitude nearly that often.

      That’s where the web site Thankaday comes in. It’s a “digital gratitude journal” that helps people notice and record the good things in their lives.

      It was co-founded by Warren Shaeffer, 29, and Alex Benzer, 29, who also work together at Silverlake, Calif.-based SocialEngine, a software company that helps people create social networks. A month ago, Thankaday went from invite-only to public and open to all.

      Thankaday is like Facebook with nothing but posts expressing gratitude.
      “A lot of people feel uncomfortable consistently noting the things they’re grateful for on Facebook or Twitter because it can come off as gloating or showing off,” Benzer said. “This is a separate, safe space.”

      In addition to providing the space, Thankaday provides the nudging and inspiration needed to actually put this good idea into practice. Thankaday, which is free, sends a daily reminder email to its users, of which there are about 1,000, according to Shaeffer and Benzer. The site is mobile-friendly, and the founders plan to launch an app early next year.

      Users can either reply directly to the email with what they’re grateful for that day or they can go to thankaday.com, find inspiration from others’ posts and post directly to the site. About half of the site’s users choose to post privately — which is another distinction that sets this site apart from Facebook, Shaeffer and Benzer say.

      Shaeffer started thinking about happiness as an undergraduate at Harvard, where, he said, “everyone was talking about [Ben-Shahar's] class.” Later, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous told Shaeffer that some people in AA send emails to each other about what they’re grateful for. After some searching, Shaeffer realized there wasn’t a service like this for people outside of AA. Thus, a year ago, he created Thankaday.

      After speaking with HuffPost, Shaeffer emailed a quote that Arianna Huffington had recently posted on her Facebook, saying that it embodied the ethos behind Thankaday.

      2013-11-12-Screenshot20131111at5.01.21PM.jpg

      Check out some examples of Thankaday posts:

      2013-11-12-Screenshot20131111at4.49.33PM.jpg

      2013-11-12-Screenshot20131111at4.48.18PM.jpg

      2013-11-12-Screenshot20131111at4.38.58PM.jpg

      2013-11-12-Screenshot20131111at4.44.21PM.jpg

      2013-11-12-Screenshot20131111at4.42.19PM.jpg

      2013-11-12-Screenshot20131111at4.45.26PM.jpg

      Tell us what you’re thankful for in the comments below!

    • Barack Obama Goes To DreamWorks, Talks Banjo With Steve Martin
      GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) — President Obama has toured many a factory floor and high-tech plant during his presidency. It’s part of the job. But until Tuesday, he had never quite met the likes of Oh and Capt. Smek.

      In what qualifies as one of those special perks of governing, Obama toured the DreamWorks Animation studio of one of his top political benefactors, Jeffrey Katzenberg. All other tours must have paled by comparison. He saw motion capture technology on display and he shook hands — well, bumped elbows — with Steve Martin before the actor-comedian-banjo player transformed himself into the villainous Capt. Smek from the upcoming movie “Home.”

      But nothing could beat the short clip of another character in the film, Oh, intoning in the familiar cadences of Obama’s voice: “Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Welcome to the White House.”

      “That’ll impress the girls,” Obama, thinking of his daughters, said delightedly.

      Martin and actor Jim Parsons of “Big Bang Theory” were there to demonstrate voice recordings for the DreamWorks movie “Home” about a civilization of aliens called “Boovs.” It’s scheduled for release in November of 2014.

      Speaking to a few thousand staff and others gathered on DreamWorks’ campus, Obama praised the entertainment industry for helping transmit values of tolerance and diversity and overcoming adversity, calling it part of American diplomacy.

      “Hundreds of millions of people may never set foot in the U.S., but thanks to you they’ve experienced a small part of what makes our country successful,” Obama said. “We have shaped a world culture through you.”

      “Can’t wait to see your next movie,” Obama added with a grin.

      Entering the studio earlier for his tour, Obama extended a hand to Martin, who informed him he had a slight cold. So the commander in chief and the once wild-and-crazy guy bumped elbows instead.

      “How’s the banjo playing?” Obama asked

      “Better than ever,” Martin replied.

      Obama mentioned that Martin had played the banjo at the White House.

      “The fact that I played banjo at the White House was the biggest thrill (pause) of his life,” Martin cracked.

      “That’s how I felt,” Obama deadpanned. “Biggest thrill of my life. Inauguration? Nothing.”

      Martin and Parsons then ran through a scene. Obama appeared thoroughly tickled as he read along from the script.

      Obama also saw a demonstration of motion capture technology, known in the business as “mo-cap”

      Two actors, a woman and a man, were wearing full black body suits with colored sensors applied like polka dots to their suits. Behind them a large screen showed two animated characters, a young boy, “Hiccup,” and a young girl, “Astrid, from the upcoming movie “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

      Every movement the actors performed on the studio floor was replicated on the screen by the animated characters.

      Obama asked what the difference was between using that technology and actually drawing animation.

      “Is the advantage here that by seeing the natural movement, that can’t be replicated in your head?” he asked.

      The cinematographer told him that the technology allowed for more natural movement and more dimension and was able to take advantage of ad-libbed movement.

      “So, serendipity,” Obama said.

      After seeing a final clip from the movie, Obama turned to the reporters following him and offered an unfiltered DreamWorks commercial:

      “Coming to a theater near you!”

      Indeed, Katzenberg added: “June 13.”

      ___

      Reach Jim Kuhnhenn on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jkuhnhenn

    • Microsoft said to beef up its Internet encryption
      Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks have caused Google, Yahoo, and Facebook to pledge stronger Internet encryption. Is Microsoft next on the list?
    • Chinese state media: iPhone to launch on China Mobile December 18
      The Chinese state media outlet, Xinhua News Agency is claiming that Apple’s new iPhone releases, the iPhone 5c and 5s will see release on the company’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, on December 18. The report dovetails with previous claims of the release being on that date.
          



    • Defective Xbox One does not guarantee you free launch title
      Microsoft says Xbox One owners are entitled to a free launch game only if their console is suffering from a faulty disc drive. Those with bricked or crash-prone consoles are not eligible.
    • How Social Media Are Ruining Your Love Life

      2013-11-21-TCSocialMedia.jpg

      At the beginning of a potential new romance, both parties usually make an attempt to put their best foot forward. In an effort to dazzle your dinner date, you usually focus on your dreams of a family, how witty you can be and your excellent taste in music. This would all be well and good if blossoming relationships existed inside a vacuum, but in this era of drunken status updates, unwanted photo tags and check-ins at the trashy bar that you claim not to frequent, your best foot forward might be covered in social-media shit.

      Admit it: If you didn’t already Facebook-stalk the man you’ve made Friday-night plans with, you most definitely will after the date. The updates that your new man posts, the photos that he takes and the status updates that he “likes” have become just as important as the words that come out of his mouth on the date. At dinner you may even sporadically pull up an app on your iPhone to illustrate the story you’re telling or provide a visual of your best friend who is just too fabulous for words to describe. On their face, social media may seem like just another tool to get to know a person, but in reality, applications like Facebook and Instagram portray a distorted, disjointed and altogether imaginary version of the people we are.

      There are many social-media offenses that can lead your senses astray when evaluating a potential mate. Maybe your new man has perfected the art of portraying himself as a lover of travel or has multiple pictures of himself carrying the cutest kids you’ve ever seen on his shoulders. It would be hard for anyone not to fall in love with this catalog husband on your computer screen. So before you even sit down to dinner, visions of your perfect children and your exotic honeymoon to Bora Bora are already swimming around your brain. The problem with falling in love with someone’s two-dimensional Facebook profile is that you never know what lies beyond that sparkling smile in front of the Taj Mahal. After all, his photos might just be the most exciting thing about him. And why is he always traveling by himself?

      Then there are those rare occasions where you meet someone through that archaic medium for interaction: in person. He is charming and makes you laugh, and you leave him excited to learn more. But you just can’t wait until he returns from his work trip, so you decide to perform a harmless little Internet search on him, and like many attractive guys, he’s just not very photogenic. All of a sudden you are questioning the real connection you had with him because you are having trouble picturing your wedding photos. Or maybe his status updates leave a little to be desired. Forget being witty in person; his interests utterly bore you. So even though your first impression of him was solid, your little date with his social-media presence leaves you second-guessing your connection. Suddenly you aren’t so sure whether you will accept the dinner invitation.

      These are just a couple of the numerous ways that social media can thwart would-be relationships. And needless to say, online profiles, new “friends” and unwanted notifications can also cause unnecessary problems once a relationship has begun. We have all been guilty of going through our current flavor du jour‘s photos only to see old pictures of his former flame. Suddenly you have burbling feelings of jealousy all because of some stale images from long ago. You are his present, but social media have you living in the past.

      The truth is that the content and character of a possible love should be revealed in layers. The development of a fruitful relationship takes effort, and it is impossible to reach a level of depth with a person by meticulously parsing his Facebook self.

      The CliffsNotes of a person’s life will never give you an accurate representation of the reality. We create the image that we want to convey through our activity on social media. It’s much easier to convey the “reality” that we want to portray on the Internet than to live it in real life. My own Facebook profile portrays a character; the real me is much more complex. It would be easy to choose a boyfriend or future husband based on information from his social-media presence, but the longevity of a relationship resulting from such matchmaking techniques would probably be about equal to your iPhone’s battery life.

      Sure, social media can provide supplemental reading when studying a person’s qualifications as a potential plus-one, but you are wasting your time if you use things like Facebook and Instagram to learn about the content required to answer all the right questions.

      When it comes to dating and mating, sometimes it helps to unplug in order to connect.

    • FDA Just Banned 23andMe's DNA Testing Kits, and Users Are Fighting Back
      2013-11-25-23andUSforchangeorg.png

      Since 23andMe launched in 2007, over 500,000 Americans have had their saliva tested to learn more about their ancestry, health risks and genetic predisposition to a wide variety of factors. The price has plummeted ten-fold: just $99 for the home-test kit. The scrappy company was poised to take its product mass-market with marketing campaigns aimed at user numbers into the millions.

      Perhaps that’s why the Food and Drug Administration finally cracked down on the site. Today, the FDA shut down further sales of the saliva home-test kit, citing the “potential health consequences that could result from false positive or false negative assessments for high-risk indications… For instance, if the BRCA-related risk assessment for breast or ovarian cancer reports a false positive, it could lead a patient to undergo prophylactic surgery, chemoprevention, intensive screening, or other morbidity-inducing actions, while a false negative could result in a failure to recognize an actual risk that may exist.” In other words, the FDA think that Americans can’t be trusted with more information about their potential health risks because some people might make rash decisions with it. But banning personal genomics isn’t the answer.

      23andMe is simply doing what the Internet does best: forcing old dogs to learn new tricks. That’s what the fight between Uber and taxicab commissions is about. Same for AirBnB and hotel regulators. The only profession slower to change how they do things than doctors is bureaucrats. So the FDA’s reaction is understandable — but misguided.

      Those of us who have already used the site know the real problem is that doctors themselves are behind the curve. When 23andMe sent us our results, we followed their advice: we asked our doctor to talk about them. Most doctors didn’t know where to begin. But the more of us ask about 23andMe, the more the medical profession is catching up. Slowly but surely, they’re brushing up on genomics, taking the time to understand the site, and talking to us about our results and what, if anything, to do about them.

      By prompting such dialogue, 23andMe has sparked a revolution in how the medical profession uses genetic information. Change like that rarely, if ever, comes from within an industry; it’s almost always driven by people on the outside with new approaches and technologies that disrupt old paradigms — like the idea that genomics aren’t something “ordinary” doctors need to understand or that patients shouldn’t be active, informed participants in their healthcare.

      We’re urging the FDA not to short-circuit this revolution, and have launched a Change.org petition to rally those who agree. Our message is simple: “Please trust us — and our doctors — to make responsible use of our own genetic information. Instead of banning new technologies, the FDA should focus on educating doctors and patients about the benefits, and limitations, of genetic testing.”

      If it takes the FDA as long to sign off on innovative services like 23andMe as it does for prescription drugs (around 8 years), the medical profession will continue dragging its feet, as if genomics and the Internet were only distant tools that might some day be incorporated into medicine. But they’re here now, and they’ll continue changing medicine for the better. Doctors and patients will both adapt to the new reality of medical care personalized for our genes — but only if the FDA gets out of the way.

    • Cute cats could be key to learning
      How cute cats could be the key to learning languages
    • Teacher Very Successfully Teaches Students About Internet Safety (PHOTO)
      Well, we think this teacher certainly got her point across.

      This teacher is basically winning the Internet as the above photo continues to be making its way across the world and into viral territory. Over the course of the past few days alone, the photo has been shared at least 16,200 times on Facebook, and “liked” at least 607,400 times on Facebook.

      Teaching young students about Internet security is certainly necessary these days. According to Reuters, while Facebook enforces an age minimum of 13 years old, as of 2012, there were 5.6 million Facebook users in violation of that rule. Many young kids also have Instagram, even though the social network has the same age minimum.

      Ms. Genius Teacher, we want to find you! If anyone has information about who this is, please e-mail us at parents@huffingtonpost.com.

    • CNN Op-Ed Says College Men Need Text-Message Proof They Didn't Rape
      College men should have their sexual partners send them a text message before they get down to business to avoid a false rape charge, according to Roxanne Jones, a former vice president at ESPN.

      Jones offered this bit of advice in an op-ed published by CNN Tuesday, in which she focuses on combating “stupid girls” and discloses that she gave her son 300 condoms when he went off to college.

      Jones writes:

      Never have sex with a girl unless she’s sent you a text that proves the sexual relationship is consensual beforehand. And it’s a good idea to even follow up any sexual encounter with a tasteful text message saying how you both enjoyed being with one another — even if you never plan on hooking up again.

      Crazy, I know, but I’ve actually been encouraging my son and his friends to use sexting — minus the lewd photos — to protect themselves from being wrongly accused of rape. Because just as damning text messages and Facebook posts helped convict the high-schoolers in Steubenville of rape, technology can also be used to prove innocence.

      Jones’ column discusses the role alcohol plays in college sexual violence, but doesn’t explain how two consenting yet intoxicated co-eds would practically pull out their phones to text each other about the impending intercourse.

      If this idea was reasonable, maybe people would actually do it and not just laugh at the prospect of signing your name to prove consent in a “Chappelle’s Show” skit.

      Jones’ column received plenty of skepticism on Twitter, including from at least one CNN journalist:

      Imagine a guy saying to you — "Hey, I’ll sleep with you, but I need you to TEXT ME consent first." Hmmm. Read: http://t.co/ZHBDlTTdXR #CNN

      — Brooke Baldwin (@BrookeBCNN) November 26, 2013

      Roxanne Jones wants to invalidate the rapes of many, many people because they said yes to something that one time http://t.co/ChRp0IfyiV

      — Fiddler (@cFidd) November 26, 2013

      YOU HEAR THAT, GENTS, SEXT BEFORE YOU SEXUAL ASSAULT SOMEONE, YOU KNOW, FOR THE DEFENSE TEAM AND SHIT. http://t.co/fUKgzWjVx6

      — Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) November 26, 2013

      If you ever write "Make no mistake, no woman..is asking to be raped. But…" maybe just step away from the keybord. http://t.co/sSqdGxUEGx

      — Jake Grovum (@jgrovum) November 26, 2013

      instead of teaching your son to respect women tell him they’re all whores who just want to wrongly accuse him of rape http://t.co/XsNAGkYH1u

      — Jessica Roy (@JessicaKRoy) November 26, 2013

      Jones’ focus on stopping false rape accusations is alarming considering the overwhelming statistics about campus sexual assault: roughly one in four women become victims of sexual assault in college.

      Jones does use statistics in her piece, but not the data point that just 10 percent of sexual assaults are reported to authorities, according to the Department of Justice. Of the rapes that are reported, just 2 percent are found to be false accusations.

      And many more are never reported at all — in fact, many rape victims never tell anyone, a fact she doesn’t take into account.

      Unsurprisingly, the reaction to Jones’ advice about how to avoid a false rape accusation has been similar to the outcry following a roundly rebuked column by Emily Yoffe at Slate. Yoffe argued college women should stop getting drunk to avoid sexual assault. Columns such as these, which avoid discussion of what constitutes healthy, consensual, intimate relationships, are often bashed as “victim blaming.”

      Sexual assault on campus is real and widespread: A number of colleges are currently under federal investigations over allegations that the schools failed to properly adjudicate sexual assaults on campus — not that they wrongly punished too many alleged perpetrators. In some cases, students said their perpetrators admitted assaulting them, but schools still failed to hold the attackers accountable.

      The CNN post ends with Jones warning men, if they see a woman who’s “falling down drunk,” to not get her help and make sure she gets home safe, but instead, to “stay away, far away.”

    • iPad Mini Retina more widely available, catches first Mini
      Consumers can now waltz into many Apple stores and pick up an iPad Mini Retina for the first time. To date, availability was limited to online sales and pre-orders with customer pickup.
    • Cost-cutting HP beats Wall Street expectations
      HP’s fourth quarter earnings were better than expected, but the company remains a cost cutting story as most units and product lines saw revenue declines.
    • Speakers From Soundcast, iLuv and Eton Provide Big Sound for Small Devices
      We’re addicted to music.

      You see evidence of this wherever you go: on the street, on the bus or subway, even while standing in line waiting to buy an Xbox One. But, for REAL sound, you need to toss away those headphones and hook that phone or MP3 player into a portable speaker system.

      To feed this addiction, we need to acquire ways to surround ourselves with sound wherever we go — and the louder, the better. Why shouldn’t everyone around us also be able to enjoy it?

      With that in mind, we played with three portable speaker systems that not only break the sound barrier between you and your neighbors, but deliver superior sound quality. Plus, all of these systems are designed to be used outdoors on the deck, patio or at the beach.

      Let’s begin with the “elephant in the room.”

      The Soundcast Melody portable speaker system ($449) not only outweighs the competition, it also outplays them. From treble to bass, this Bluetooth system reproduced sounds that were clean and crisp with no dropouts (where the speaker has a problem communicating with the mobile device) and no traces of static.

      Weighing in at a hefty nine pounds, the Melody system was able to handle whatever we threw at it, ranging from jazz to classical to rock, and its attributes far outweigh its deficiencies.

      It’s key features include:

      • A built-in handle.
      • Four High-Q speakers and four bass radiators.
      • A built-in lithium-ion battery.
      • Bluetooth range of up to 33 feet.
      • Rapid battery charging.
      • A weatherproof enclosure.
      • A built-in keypad to control the device allowing you to leave your phone, etc. in your pocket.
      • It’s omnidirectional with four speakers in the front and four speakers in the back.

      The downside:

      • Price.
      • This baby’s heavy.
      • There’s no dock for either an Apple or Android device. Instead you need to use Bluetooth or plug it into the system’s auxiliary port.

      Next we have the iLuv MobiAria ($149), which features Bluetooth and NFC technology, making it compatible with any portable device.

      This is the first NFC-enabled device we’ve played with and the process can take a bit of practice. NFC stands for Near Field Communication, which means it can connect to any NFC-enabled device without any input from you. This can lead to many family spats, especially if your wife or girlfriend is listening to music using Bluetooth and you pass near the speaker with an NFC enabled phone or tablet and “steal” the speaker away from her.

      The system’s two speakers and bass radiator deliver great sound for a system that is about half the size of the Melody. The only problem we had was that it would drop connection or pick up a bit of static if the mobile device was in another room.

      The MobiAria’s key features include:

      • A slim and light design.
      • Full 3D sound using jAura Technology
      • Touch-sensitive controls.
      • A built-in USB charging port for your mobile device.
      • Voice prompts tell you when it’s ready to be paired with your device and when the pairing is complete.

      The downside:

      • There’s no dock for your portable device.
      • Frequent dropouts or static.

      Lastly is the rukus XL from Eton ($199.99), which is a bit different from any other speaker system we’ve used. It’s solar powered.

      The first thing you notice when you take it out of the box is the fold-down solar panel that can be used to power the system when you use the ruckus XL outdoors. What we didn’t realize, though, was the fact you need to fully charge the battery the old fashioned way before using the panel — a real bummer if your first experience with it is outside and there’s no electrical outlet in sight.

      But, when it’s fully charged, the solar panel works beautifully.

      Sound quality is a bit better than the MobiAria, with great bass and treble.

      It’s key features include:

      • You can stream music from any Bluetooth-enabled device.
      • It has two tweeters, two woofers and four (passive) bass radiators delivering 22 watts of power.
      • It can be powered directly from the solar panels, without using the battery.
      • It has an USB port to charge mobile devices.
      • You can store your iPhone 5 device inside the system by closing the dock door.

      The downside:

      • It can take five hours to fully charge using the solar panels.
      • Frequent dropouts, especially if the mobile device is in another room.

      More information on any of these speakers systems can be found at www.soundcast.com, www.iluv.com and www.eton.com.

      Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman’s Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek. You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net or through his website at www.jocgeek.com.

    • Here's The Video To Share With Anybody Who Still Buys Into 9/11 Truther Stuff
      MIT linguist and peace activist Noam Chomsky has delivered what ought to be the coup de grace to what’s left of the 9/11 conspiracy theories.

      During a “Policy and the Media Prism” lecture at the University of Florida several weeks ago, 9/11 truther activist Bob Tuskin asked Chomsky what he had to say about Building 7, the third structure to collapse on Sept. 11, 2001. The media, in Tuskin’s opinion, has ignored evidence about the building’s collapse.

      Chomsky shut down Tuskin’s claims. If scientists had strong evidence to support 9/11 conspiracy theories, he said, they would have presented their discoveries to other architects and engineers, would have published their arguments in scientific journals and attempted to persuade other professionals that they’d found something worth investigating.

      “There happen to be a lot of people around who spent an hour on the Internet and think they know a lot of physics,” he added, “but it doesn’t work like that … There’s a reason there are graduate schools in these departments.”

      Chomsky said the Bush administration had little motivation to identify the hijackers as Saudi, since that country is a U.S. ally, when they could have pointed a finger at Iraq, a nation they’d been hoping to invade.

      “There is just overwhelming evidence that the Bush administration wasn’t involved. Very elementary evidence. You don’t have to be a physicist to understand it, you just have to think for a minute,” he said. “The conclusion is pretty straightforward: Either they’re total lunatics, or they weren’t involved. And they’re not total lunatics.”

    • Nasdaq Closes Above 4,000 Points For 1st Time Since 2000
      By Luke Swiderski

      NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Nasdaq composite index closed above 4,000 on Tuesday for the first time since 2000, while the Dow and S&P ended barely changed.

      Retailers and homebuilders were among the best performing sectors, responding to stronger-than-expected earnings and robust housing market data.

      Big-cap technology stocks helped the Nasdaq the most on Friday to finish above 4,000 for the first time since the dot-com bubble burst in 2000 and sent the tech-heavy index hurtling.

      Tiffany & Co jumped 7 percent to $88.02 and was the S&P 500′s top performer after the luxury retailer’s third-quarter sales topped expectations. The S&P retail index advanced 0.9 percent.

      “The wealth effect because the stock market has gone up has definitely helped the upper-end folks,” said Gary Bradshaw at Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, Texas.

      Moreover, Bradshaw said gasoline prices were giving a potential boost to broad-based holiday spending. Wal-Mart Stores Inc shares rose 0.3 percent to close at an all-time high of $80.86 a day after the retailer named a new chief executive.

      Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc surged 11.2 percent to $56.29 after Men’s Wearhouse offered to buy the company for $55 per share in cash, a 9 percent premium to its Monday close. Men’s Wearhouse jumped 7.5 percent to $50.60.

      On the Nasdaq, Apple Inc gained 1.8 percent to $533.40, Google Inc rose 1.2 percent to $1,058.41 and Amazon.com Inc shares ended up 1.3 percent to $381.37.

      The PHLX Housing Index rose 2.5 percent after stronger-than-expected figures on building permits for October and a steady rise in housing prices. Ryland Group led the index, gaining 5.6 percent to $40.02 a share.

      Permits for future U.S. home construction hit a 5-1/2 year high and an index of single-family home prices notched big gains in September.

      “The takeaway here is that the whole partial government shutdown thing was a real non-event,” said Jay Mueller, senior portfolio manager for Wells Capital Management.

      The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 0.26 point to 16072.80. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.27 point, or 0.01 percent, to 1,802.75. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 23.18 points, or 0.58 percent, to 4,017.75.

      The S&P 500 has risen nearly 27 percent this year, primarily bolstered by expectations the Federal Reserve’s stimulus will continue at least until the end of the year.

      The Walt Disney Company led the Dow in percentage gain, with shares rising 2.1 percent to $71.18. The company announced better-than-expected earnings earlier in the month.

      Trading is expected to remain light this week, with financial markets closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Markets will also close early at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday.

      (Editing by Kenneth Barry)

    • The Promise of Bitcoin and The Fallacy of 'Coin'
      One cool Chicago evening in the fall of 2010 I was grabbing drinks with four friends. The El was right above us and would intermittently interrupt our conversation. One of the chaps, slightly drunk, suggested we pool resources to buy servers and ‘mine’ some Bitcoins. In my sober state (I don’t drink alcohol) all I saw was a drunken friend coming up with a crazy idea and so I ignored him. I’m now starting to think that was one of my biggest financial mistakes ever because, say what you will, Bitcoin will become a legitimate currency in the next few years (if not sooner).

      Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer digital currency with a limit to quantity available and no ‘central’ authority, is currently limited in its acceptance for transactions. That will change one day soon; such is the history of currencies until parties accept on its value and legality. We are fast approaching that day when Bitcoin will be a bonafide means of value exchange, especially in light of a U.S. Senate committee hearing that was held this past week to discuss virtual currencies.

      To better understand why Bitcoin is the future (and why ‘Coin’, see below, might fail) we need to better understand money. Money, in whatever form it has come, has been a means of carrying out a transaction where a means of exchange was necessary. First we bartered (you give me a fish I give you potatoes of equal ‘value’), then we exchanged things for cattle (two cows for a plot of land, four cows for two plots of land), then cowrie shells, then gold and subsequently other forms resembling our current understanding (paper). The value was as determined between the parties involved or by a central authority.

      The basis of Bitcoin’s viability as a currency stems from the fact that it meets all the criteria required for it to be a means of exchange and even more so in an increasingly digital world; a world where we pay for everything with cards/phones/online, ‘money’ (owned or borrowed) no longer needs to be physically existent for it’s value to be agreed upon (and this has been the case since the first credit card was allegedly issued by Diners Club in 1950).

      I can imagine Americans felt a certain reluctance to stop spending ‘buck’ (elk or deer skin) when paper money came along. And so will the reluctance to accept Bitcoin reduce with understanding. As it gains widespread understanding, Bitcoin’s value will start to be accepted by all. With acceptance will come widespread usage.

      On the flip side ‘Coin’, a buzzed about startup promising to combine all your credit cards into one, is based on a false premise. My friends were excited when they heard about Coin and promptly signed up. One gushed that it was the most innovative thing he’d ever seen, using a superlative where one was not necessary. ‘Coin’ does not by itself provide any exchange value and it solves a problem where one does not exist for the majority of people (if you have no money in your Coin then it has no value, the real problem is most people have little money). I only see a future for ‘Coin’ if it becomes the de-facto card for Bitcoin transactions.

      Coin solves a first world problem (I have too many credit cards) while Bitcoin allows people do what we’ve always done (exchange something of perceived value for another thing of perceived value). I wish I had listened to my drunk friend in the fall of 2010.

    • Walmart Now Possesses Info On An Estimated 145 Million Americans: Analysis
      Walmart has amassed a trove of personal data on 60 percent of adult Americans — possibly over 145 million people — according to estimates from a report released Tuesday.

      The retailing giant collects information on what shoppers buy, where they live and what they like via in-store Wi-Fi, Walmart.com and other company apps, according to the report. The analysis was prepared by three pro-worker advocacy groups, The Center for Media Justice, ColorofChange.org and SumOfUs. Information on shoppers allows Walmart and more than 50 third-party sites to profile customers and infer things like relative age, income, gender and race in order to target people for specific products and deals, according to the report.

      “This is part of a growing trend that leaves American consumers — particularly consumers of color and poor consumers — really vulnerable to violations of their online privacy,” said Malkia Cyril, the head of the Center for Media Justice, a left-leaning media rights advocacy group. In order to compile its figure, the report’s authors used a Walmart statement in which the company’s CEO said that 60 percent of Americans shop at the store each month. The authors then used U.S. adult population estimates, and assumed the company had information on all shoppers based on statements about Walmart data collection.

      Walmart E-commerce Spokesman Dan Toporek disputed some of the report’s findings, noting that most of Walmart’s stores aren’t Wi-Fi-enabled and that the company doesn’t track shoppers in stores. He said the company takes pains to protect customer privacy and mostly uses customer data and passes it along to third-party sites in aggregate rather than individually. So for example, the company knows that people who buy detergent are more likely to also buy fabric softener, he said, allowing the company to target deals accordingly.

      “We use that to deliver a better customer experience,” Toporek said. “Third parties don’t see that individual information.”

      While the strategy of using customer information from price scanners and loyalty cards to target customers isn’t new, what’s striking here is the large amount of data retailers now have at their fingertips, said Eric Bradlow, the co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Business.

      “It’s industry agnostic, everybody is in the game. The Googles of today, the Facebooks of today, the Yahoos of today have hundreds of data scientists working for them now trying to mine the data for useful information for the company,” said Bradlow, who studies the ways companies analyze and use consumer data. “To the degree that they can share that information legally, to the degree that they can share that information without the customer backlash, they will.”

      Walmart is building its own “massive data warehouse” and analytics team, according to Bradlow. The efforts may be aimed in part at transforming the company’s struggling e-commerce business and helping it catch up to online retail giants like Amazon, Businessweek noted Tuesday.

      “We want to know what every product in the world is. We want to know who every person in the world is,” Walmart CEO of Global E-commerce Neil Ashe told Women’s Wear Daily earlier this year. “And we want to have the ability to connect them together in a transaction.”

      Walmart is one of a growing number of retailers, including Target, Nordstrom and Brooks Brothers, that are leveraging customers’ digital footprints in the service of crafting targeted ads, sales and promotions. In one example made famous by The New York Times last year, Target knew a customer was pregnant based on her shopping data before she told her father.

      Despite the prevalence of so-called Big Data collection, it’s pretty much unregulated, according to the report. A handful of states in the U.S. have laws on the books requiring sites to be more transparent about data collection, the report noted, and in Europe, lawmakers have proposed legislation to limit businesses’ ability to profile users.

      The risks of this lax approach to enforcement are high, the report’s authors claim. One of the third-party sites where Walmart consumer data may end up, according to the report, boasts a database with information tied to 80 percent of U.S. email addresses. The trove of information it supposedly contains makes the site an extremely useful tool for online scammers if it was ever hacked, said Ian Davey, the report’s principal author and the CEO of Technologis, a mobile security consulting company.

      “Whose server is actually secure today?” Bradlow, the Wharton professor, said. “So you say your data is safe, and maybe it is and maybe it isn’t — and I think that concerns a lot of people today and rightly so.”

      In addition, retailers may end up using the data to discriminate even if that’s not their intention, according to the report, though the authors didn’t find any evidence of Walmart or other retailers currently doing this. Cyril said that if the data ends up in the wrong hands, it could put low-income and minority shoppers in danger of discrimination for things like targeted sub-prime loans. “All of these are known practices, they’re not far-reaching predictions,” she said.

      “The issue isn’t purely whether one should use personal data to market discounts,” Cyril said. “I don’t want a discount that puts me at risk of discrimination.”

    Mobile Technology News, November 26, 2013

    As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

    • Gary Vaynerchuk's New Book Is A Knockout For Social Media Managers
      Social engagement managers like myself fear a lot of things: typos; dead links; people asking if you “just tweet for a living”; and tweeting from the wrong account in Tweetdeck, or worse, on mobile late some Friday night…

      But if there’s one thing we don’t have to fear anymore, it’s building our following and justifying our job’s importance, thanks to “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” a new book by business-savvy social media evangelist, Gary Vaynerchuk, out November 26.

      gary vaynerchuck

      The strategy that inspired the title is an easy one: You don’t win a fight with a single right hook. Long before a successful K.O., there are weeks or months of purposeful training, a series of smaller jabs, careful observation, and adjustment on the fly, all in preparation for the perfect moment to strike.

      In the social world, this means that if you want to keep your followers and attract new ones, you’ve got to set your sell aside and bring content of value to them first, whether it’s humor, related news or something else. And then you’ve got to bring it again. And again. It’s the only way to win.

      But this simple strategy is one that a lot of businesses and individuals, from 100 followers to 100K, seem to be learning the hard way.

      After setting up the basic framework in the introductory chapters, Vaynerchuk then dedicates a chapter to each of the main social networks — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr — discussing technical capabilities, advising on best practices, describing the native voice of the platform, offering tips and tricks for maximizing engagement and more. He provides concrete examples, complete with screenshots, of posts that worked and posts that didn’t, and gives thorough explanations as to why each was met with the engagement (or lack thereof) it received.

      But Vaynerchuk doesn’t just stick to the “Big 5.” In a chapter he calls “Opportunities In Emerging Networks,” he briefly examines LinkedIn, Google+, Vine and Snapchat, offering insight into how they might develop, detailing what sort of content works on these platforms and making a strong case for becoming an early adopter.

      The insights, examples and advice don’t come across as remedial to active users, though. Vaynerchuk strikes a delicate balance between informative basics and expert tips, making the book a solid resource for digital natives and digital adopters alike.

      In just 188 pages, Vaynerchuk constructs an undeniable case that every business — no matter the size or niche — can establish themselves on social media and develop an engaged audience provided they have a willingness to learn each platform’s purpose, and put in the subsequent hustle to prove it. (Folks who have read Vaynerchuk’s 2009 book “Crush It” are no stranger to this classic Gary V theory: Enough hustle can get you just about anything.)

      With snappy writing, a candid voice, and a logical progression, the book is a quick read that will have you rushing to your keyboard, and potentially your boss, with ideas. So if you’re in the business of social, in the business of building your personal brand, or just in the business of business, get your hands on a copy of “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”

      And, as would be obligatory for such a review, check out the links below for ways to connect with Gary, myself, and my team of sponsored content creators at HuffPost Partner Studio.

      Follow Gary on Twitter, or give @JJJRHbook a follow.

      HuffPost Partner Studio tweets at @HuffPostPartner, but we’re also on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.

    • NSA May Have Penetrated Internet Cable Links
      SAN FRANCISCO — The recent revelation that the National Security Agency was able to eavesdrop on the communications of Google and Yahoo users without breaking into either companies’ data centers sounded like something pulled from a Robert Ludlum spy thriller.
    • Apple wins against NetAirus in iPhone 4 patent dispute
      An inventor named Richard L. Ditzik has discovered, thanks to a jury, that an iPhone isn’t just a computer and a phone slapped together. The inventor, through his company NetAirus Technologies, has sued Apple (though strangely, no other smartphone makers) claiming in a just-decided case that the iPhone 4 violated a patent that described a method for computers to make phone calls through Wi-Fi and cellular networks. A jury, in an unusual majority vote, disagreed that Apple was in violation.
          



    • Blackberry shakes up top management
      Struggling smartphone maker Blackberry shakes up its top management as part of its on-going reorganization.
    • Incipio debuts rugged case supporting Touch ID fingerprint sensor
      Case designer Incipio has announced the launch of the Atlas ID Waterproof Case for the iPhone 5 and 5s. The Atlas ID Case features intelligent Touch ID interface which is compatible with theiPhone 5s Touch ID sensor and includes a device limited warranty and accompanying registration App. Incipio’s Atlas ID Case is waterproof up to 2 meters (6.56 feet) for 30 minutes, meets US Military Standard 810G for drop protection, water and dust ingress, and has an IP68 ingress protection rating against water and dust.
          



    • &%*$#! Microsoft limits Xbox Live users' curse words
      Take heed gamers: too many obscenities uttered in Upload Studio videos could lead to loss of account privileges.
    • Lulu: The Worst App for Women, by Women
      Confession: I have no self-control. So when told about an app that might give me access to shamelessly stalk any and all of my exes with the false pretense of gaining insight into their lives (sans me), naturally I jumped at the opportunity. What transpired was a visceral reaction to one of the most jaw-dropping, stomach-curling, rosacea-inducing, sad Internet moments of my adult life. “Lulu: First-ever App For Girls,” intended as a forum where women can “share insights on love and life,” is a virtual burn book — a place where the good can be commended, the bad reprimanded and the ugly outed. In reality, Lulu is simply an unacceptable invasion of privacy, a place where women believe they are helping other women with a user-generated reference guide to dating, but in fact are just perpetuating pain for the very women they intend to protect.

      Here’s how Lulu works: Through Facebook, you can anonymously review any and all of your male friends in the following categories: appearance, humor, manners, sex, first kiss, ambition, and commitment. Women contribute valid observations — rendered, of course, in hashtags. Then Lulu churns out a rating. The site does not discriminate, which means that college-aged dating newbies making all the same mistakes we once did are branded with titles such as #F**kedMeChuckedMe. If this doesn’t seem bad enough, committed faithfuls can be assessed by the ghosts of girlfriends past with phrases like #ForgotMyBirthday and thrown into the same pool as bad boys, serial daters and dumpers, aka #TotalF*ckingDickhead #IncapableOfCommitment. This is… #WildlyOffensive.

      Let’s break it down, shall we? If you’re single, what is the first thing you do when you sign onto Lulu? FIND YOUR EX, then FIND YOUR NEXT, correct? Step one: opening the ex-files. I start in chronological order (of course) because my Type A, obsessive personality shines through even while experimenting on the World Wide Web. Instinctively, I knew my first ex-boyfriends would hurt less than my last, so I started there. A form of calculated self-protection, if you will. Reading about my high school and college boyfriends’ dalliances made me feel one poignant emotion: RE-MAD.

      Re-Mad (adj): The ungainly process of feeling or showing anger all over again.

      Now I’m reading about my ex-exes. I don’t giggle, smile or even wince that someone thought one #ShouldHaveComeWithAWarning and another was described as #TooCoolForSchool with #PornEducated #SexMoves. I felt deeply saddened that good men who treated me wonderfully for years were reduced to such unoriginal and mean-spirited hashtags. Here I am searching dates and times of when my ex-ex-ex may or may not have slept with girls post our breakup, fuming at the prospect of someone I cared about with someone else. It’s crazy-making. It’s painful. Not funny. Not fun. I found myself “re-mad” about things I had let go years ago.

      Next stop: most recent ex-boyfriend. Are any 26-year-olds out there having easy breakups? If so, please call me. I’d like to hear about them. Real life happens and break ups revolve around I love yous and marriage and children and rent and career failures and successes… all of these breakups were difficult. Some of them even worse than difficult. But that is my cross to bear, and I’ll tell you what does not alleviate the pain of a failed relationship: knowing that three months ago a man I loved slept with a one-night stand who called his #LipsKissable, his demeanor #ManChild and his commitment level “4.” Thanks, lady. I knew that. But now, I just want to know who the hell you are and how I can track you down and physically assault you. I certainly feel no sense of kinship here.

      On to the next (guy I’ve been dating). So far, he’s been lovely. Smart, funny, kind. No issues as of yet, but why would there be… unless… I could track down a list of every girl he’s dated to see if he has ever done anything to piss any of them off?! Then we’d have loads to fight about! Fab! Forget about timing and chemistry and if his grandfather died the night before he went out with “Anonymous Reviewer 24″ who called him #Absent and #NotPresent. Why would that matter?

      So by this point, if you’re single, Lulu has poured salt in your most recent wounds and deterred you from the nice guy you went out with last night.

      Maybe this “app for girls” is better suited for people in relationships? Nope. If you’re in a relationship, forget about getting re-mad, prepare for just plain mad. My close friend — let’s call him Andrew — has been with his girlfriend for two years. Aside from being a loyal, committed boyfriend to her, he has been a tremendously good friend to me. Not to mention, he’s just a really great guy. Last night, after having read the NYT article he asked his girlfriend to look him up on this app. Curiosity killed the cat, man. What transpired was hours of fighting and questioning. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it apart into a million pieces by creating a forum where other girls can talk about sex with your boyfriend!

      Let’s talk about feminism, ladies. Let’s talk about sisterhood. Support. Protection. If this was a website geared toward men, we would die. All of us. Collectively. Imagine if everyone we ever dated, kissed, slept with or exchanged I love you’s with could do this to us: #fartsinbed #likestohavesexonherperiod #wantstokisstoomuch. How do we expect respect? How do we demand respect if this is how we behave? We don’t deserve it.

      Lulu gives women the illusion of control, but the only thing I can glean from this is the opposite. Desperation for control has driven women to act like the worst version of themselves. Let’s be better before they get us back.

    • Review: Korus V400 and V600 Wireless Speaker System
      Thin. Thin gadgets are in. We blame Steve Jobs. Regardless of the source, thin devices are prevalent and popular in the marketplace, and with them comes generally tinny, lightweight sound. Bluetooth streamers are everywhere, but can introduce a delay in the audio signal, making them unsuitable for some uses. Core Brands’ offshoot Korus has a solution — a plug-and-play wireless audio solution catering to any computer with a USB connection (or an assortment of Apple iOS devices) in the Korus V400 and V600 Wireless Speaker System. Electronista has been headbanging for a month with the pair from
          



    • Qualcomm faces China antitrust probe
      China launches an antitrust probe against one of the world’s biggest chipmakers, the US firm Qualcomm.
    • Xbox One disc drive defect nets you a free launch game
      Microsoft is responding to the “very small” subset of unhappy customers whose consoles can’t play discs with a digital copy of one of four exclusive launch titles.
    • Study: Apple Stores now sell 11 percent of all US cell phones
      A new study has revealed the startling statistic that Apple’s retail stores are one of the biggest sellers of cell phones outside carrier-direct and carrier-store sales. The Apple Store chain now sells about 11 percent of all cell phones bought in the US, and is responsible for roughly 25 percent of all US iPhone sales. The study, by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, puts Apple’s retail stores just behind Best Buy (with 13 percent of US cellphone sales).
          



    • Android Not Far Beyond iOS in Quality Educational Applications
      Think Android tablets and phones lack quality educational apps? Think again.

      appoLearning, which curates the best educational apps for iOS and Android devices, conducted the first head-to-head comparison of top apps for educational categories for the iPad, iPhone, Android tablet and Android phone.

      With the exception of early childhood categories, Android is in a virtual dead heat with iOS for the top five apps per categories as selected by experts.

      “These results were quite surprising to us; we had all heard stories of the lack of great Android apps in Education for some time; but the reality is you can find great apps for Android Tablets and Android Phones in addition to iPhones and iPads,” said Alan Warms, founder of Appolicious, Inc., producer of appoLearning. “For the first time, consumers can easily compare platforms by category to find the best educational apps as determined by teachers.”

      Other results from the comparison: iPhone educational apps are actually ranked slightly higher than iPad educational apps across the board; not surprising given the larger installed market of iPhones vs. iPads and the subsequent ability to make a large investment against that market. Each of the four platforms have a significant percentage of these top five apps being paid, with iOS having a larger percentage of paid apps than Android, and also a higher average price. Again, this is not surprising because it is much harder to deliver a true freemium model in the Education category due to expectations of value upon delivery and the burst-driven use case model. Finally, Android’s success in K-12 is likely due to its focus on Google Play for Education, which was released publicly last week.

      Methodology: In conjunction with educational experts, appoLearning defined 80 categories (for example, “Fractions.”) across four age groups: Early Childhood, Elementary Education, Middle School, and High School. Next, teachers and educational experts were recruited and tasked with choosing the very best five apps for each category, scoring each app according to the appoLearning proprietary rubric, a 14-question score in addition to commentary that generates an appoLearning Report Card Score that judges Educational Content, Kid Appeal, Assessment, Features and Design, Value, and Privacy. Next, each category was reviewed by yet another educational expert or teacher for consistency and quality. Since appoLearning has almost 170 categories for the iPad today, the comparison was limited to the 80 categories developed for the other three platforms.

      AppoLearning experts used a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 running Android version 4.1.2 Jellybean as their representative tablet, and a Samsung Galaxy S3 running Android version 4.1.2 Jellybean as their representative handset. For iOS, as there are no compatibility issues, experts used various iPhones and iPads running iOS 6 and 7.

      Here is a summary of the results.

      2013-11-21-TABLE.jpg

      The result is a Report Card Score that provides essential information to parents to make good decisions around Education apps: context (not just educational apps, but elementary numeracy), credibility (not an anonymous editor, but an actual expert who can be identified and contacted), and transparency (not a hidden scale or 5-point score, but a detailed score).

      This methodology when applied across platforms allows appoLearning to compare the efficacy and quality of apps.

      The full set of expert data and reviews for each of the 400 apps for 80 categories for iPhone, Android Tablet and Android Handheld join the over 830 apps for over 165 categories for iPad on appoLearning.com. In recent weeks, appoLearning also launched a Community Picks section which lets anyone curate lists of their favorite educational apps, and a 5-Star iPad app available in the iTunes App Store. Appolicious, a mobile application discovery network, is the producer of appoLearning.

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    • Bitcoin Demystified: A Hacker's Perspective
      This is part 1 in what will be a 3 part series, which will become progressively more in depth and technical.

      The term Bitcoin has been in the news lately; Bitcoins have been rising in value with volatility, but also mystery for someone without a computer science or mathematical background. In this post I will cover the vocabulary and basics of bitcoin and bitcoin transactions.

      Basic Vocabulary:

      Wallets and Addresses manage bitcoin transactions.
      The Block Chain is a public record of every transaction that has ever occurred.
      Mining is a resource-intensive process that rewards successful miners newly “minted” bitcoin (the current reward is 25 BTC; that quantity will halve to 12.5 in 4 years)
      Miners are those who mine bitcoin. In addition to adding new bitcoin to the network, miners are necessary to process transactions and maintain the Block Chain.
      Pooled mining is when miners get together to cooperate so they can have a better chance to win new bitcoin and then share the reward.

      I did not start mining because I saw it as a scheme to get rich. I know that savvy investors, those with specialized mining hardware and hackers who got involved when mining was still cheap and easy, like my buddy Mike Renz, have beat me to it.

      I started mining because the term ‘decentralized pseudo-anonymous cryptocurrency’ is packed with buzzwords that resonate with extra clang to a recent mathematics graduate. Mining was a way to join and contribute to a network that I find fascinating, the way an economics nerd might invest on the side for fun.

      A bitcoin is not tangible like a dollar, but I can still own a bitcoin; I can spend bitcoins because there are vendors that will accept bitcoins as payment and I can trade my bitcoins for Dollars, the same way that I can trade Euros for Dollars at a currency exchange.

      Thankfully, I do not need to spend full bitcoins at a time – it’s not often that I buy goods or services between $500 and $900, which is what each bitcoin is currently trading at. In the same way a Dollar is divided into 100 cents, a bitcoin (1BTC) can be divided into decibitcoins (1 dBTC = 0.1 BTC), centibitcoins, millibitcoins, among other units. The smallest unit is called a “satoshi” (1 “satoshi” = 0.00000001 BTC), named after the pseudonym masking the group of mathematicians who created Bitcoin.

      Owning a bitcoin:

      All bitcoin transactions are permanently recorded in a public ledger. Owning a quantity of bitcoin is essentially a mark in the public ledger that a given amount of bitcoin is allocated to me. This is analogous to how your bank statement recognizes that a certain portion of your bank’s deposits belong to you; except for instead of just seeing your own deposits, withdrawals, and balance, you suddenly have access to the sum total of everyone’s transaction data, globally and in real time.

      Spending Bitcoin:

      To possess bitcoin I need an address. This address is just a string of letters and digits, like 31uEbMgunupShBVTewXjtqbBv5MndwfXhb, which serve as an identifier. The bitcoins allocated to me (or to that address) are known to be mine, because when bitcoins were transferred to my bitcoin address, that transaction was recorded in the public ledger.

      It does not matter that my bitcoin are intangible because the public ledger contains all the necessary proof for which address owns how many bitcoins. If I ever try to spend more bitcoins from a given address than are owned by that address, my peers in the network will notice the inconsistency. Each participant in the network must come to consensus on the validity of a transaction, analogous to how a bank clears a credit card transaction. If I spend more bitcoin than I have, instead of verifying the transaction and broadcasting it to the rest of the network, my peers in the network will see in the ledger that the transaction is invalid. In this way double spending and fraud is prevented.

      Say Alice has bitcoin address AAAAAAAAA, and Bob has bitcoin address BBBBBBBBB, and Alice wants to pay Bob 0.5 bitcoin for the new product that Bob promises to send her. How do Alice and Bob logistically make their transaction?

      Alice and Bob need wallets. A bitcoin wallet is software that handles transactions and manages bitcoin addresses. Alice’s wallet might be an android app, or an application she downloaded onto to her computer, or it might be web based. The wallet handles notifying the bitcoin network that Alice is transferring funds from AAAAAAAAA to Bob’s BBBBBBBBB address. Bob’s wallet sees the transaction recorded in the public ledger and updates so that Bob can see that he has more bitcoin in his wallet. After the transaction, the entire bitcoin network can see that address AAAAAAAAA is 0.5 bitcoin poorer and address BBBBBBBBB is 0.5 bitcoin richer.

      Alice never even needed to know who Bob was – bitcoin is pseudo-anonymous. Alice only needed to know that someone with the address BBBBBBBBB had a commodity that she wanted to buy. The transaction occurred between addresses, not people. The real Bob might even have tens of bitcoin addresses. Say Bob also has addresses CCCC, DDDD, and EEEE. Alice might have paid bitcoin to all of them at some time and never even realized that she was paying the same person, Bob.
      Although every transaction that has ever occurred involving bitcoin is public, tracing these transactions between addresses back to people involves the difficult task of tracing addresses back to people. Creating a brand new address for each transaction is recommended to maintain anonymity.

      You might be wondering what prevents theft. For example, if Alice can see in the public ledger that address ZZZZ owns 5 bitcoin, why can’t Alice pretend to be the owner of address ZZZZ and write a fake transaction message to convince the Bitcoin network that address ZZZZ is sending 5 bitcoin to her address AAAAAAAAA? This is where cryptography comes in.
      Each bitcoin address has an associated public and private key pair. Although everyone’s public key and address are known, only the address owner knows their private key. The private key is used to sign the transaction. In other words, Alice cannot fake a transaction from the ZZZZ address because she is not able to properly sign the transaction without the private key belonging to ZZZZ. Similar technology is used to secure network connections every time your browser visits a website where the url address begins with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’.

      In my next article I will explain the Bitcoin network, the public ledger (The Block Chain), and where mining fits in, in greater depth.

    • Mac Pro, Gold Earbuds, Other Ridiculously Cool Items Raise $26 Million To Fight AIDS
      Art, science and design collided for a cause this weekend at Sotheby’s in New York.

      An event at the renowned art auction house Saturday featured futuristic gadgets, movie memorabilia and more, raising $26.2 million for the Global Fund, which fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

      Sales exceeded $13 million, and were then matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

      Auction items were created specifically for RED, which raises money for the Global Fund through products from companies such as Apple and Starbucks.

      Check out some of the auction photos and prices below, and see more here.

      Mac Pro, a cylindrical desktop computer to be launched this December, sold for $977,000.
      mac

      A pair of 18K solid rose gold ear buds sold for $461,000.

      earbuds

      A “Star Wars” storm trooper helmet bearing George Lucas’ signature brought in $245,000.

      storm trooper

      Proceeds from these items are helping chip away at a huge goal.

      The Global Fund, the world’s biggest funder in fighting the three pandemics, recently announced that it needs $15 billion over the next three years to continue combatting AIDS, TB and malaria.

      “We are at the tipping point in the fight against HIV, TB and malaria. If we invest ambitiously now we can save millions of lives and literally defeat these diseases in our lifetime,” Joanne Carter, a former Global Fund board member, told Reuters and other news outlets this past fall.

      The Geneva-based organization accounts for about a quarter of the world’s money to fight the three diseases. The Global Fund often offers the reminder that the tools ands science exists — it’s just a matter of funding.

      Learn more about the Global Fund here.

    • If Legal Rules Can't Keep Up With Change in Surveillance Technology, How Will NSA Be Reined In?
      A year or two from now, when investigators have taken stock of all the revelations in the NSA records released by Edward Snowden, the verdict is likely to be that the exposed NSA surveillance activities were not unlawful.

      That isn’t to say the NSA’s scarfing up of email and phone call metadata filling acres of computer servers in Utah wasn’t excessive, intrusive and objectionable. It was (and, to the extent ongoing, still is). But we are likely to conclude that the agency was fairly scrupulous in its adherence to legal boundaries, and that its overstepping was infrequent, mostly unintentional and, in any event, corrected by the FISA Court in subsequent oversight proceedings.

      All this will reconfirm the truism that the legal system cannot possibly keep up with changes in technology. And the disconnect in time and relevance between the world of legal rules and the world of technology expands as the pace of technological change accelerates.

      NSA’s bulk collection of data on Americans’ emails, phone calls and Internet searches is grounded in Supreme Court decisions and federal statutes from over 25 years ago, when email was still a novelty, the internet was an experiment unknown to the general public, and Google’s and Facebook’s founders were in diapers. Fairly recent by the standards of legal institutions; ancient history by the standards of Silicon Valley.

      The law, in other words, is not a meaningful or adequate regulator of what intelligence agencies may or may not do to protect the security of American citizens. Nor will it ever be. The judiciary is ill-equipped (to put it mildly) to anticipate the next generation(s) of communications technology and to fashion legal rules and doctrines accordingly. (Indeed, the Court, in deciding technology cases, typically looks backward, not forward). And no one who hasn’t been in a coma for the last five years could have the slightest hope that our dysfunctional Congress will provide guidance.

      Still, NSA cannot be left to regulate itself. Its culture and mission cause it to exploit the full capacity of any available (and imaginable) surveillance technology. But if NSA can’t be reined in by the courts, Congress or the intelligence community itself, how will NSA be forced to sync its operations and capabilities to the reasonable expectations of the American public, mindful of the need to balance personal liberties and the imperatives of post-9/11 security?

      The least bad of all answers may be transparency — transparency that allows the people to regulate NSA directly. Although transparency about intelligence matters is something of an oxymoron, Snowden’s leaking of NSA records, combined with the recent (and unprecedented) unsealing of FISA Court decisions and administration officials’ new-found candor about some surveillance policies, show that a high degree of openness — much higher than anything seen in the years before Snowden’s leaks — can be compatible with national security.

      But can transparency be institutionalized in an agency that’s in the business of secrecy? Can NSA be made to understand that transparency is actually in its interest because the more the public knows, the more legitimacy the agency will have, the more leeway the public will give the agency?

      Don’t hold your breath.

      Peter Scheer, a lawyer and journalist, is executive director of the First Amendment Coalition. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the FAC Board of Directors.

    Mobile Technology News, November 25, 2013

    As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

    • Something About STEM Drives Women Out
      Just when the nation has a need for more workers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, research at Cornell and the University of Texas, Austin, finds that women have often found those fields inhospitable, and left for other kinds of jobs.

      In the first study to compare women in STEM with other professional women, Sharon Sassler, professor of policy analysis and management, and colleagues found that women in STEM fields have been more likely to move out of their field of specialty than other professional women, especially early in their careers; few women in either group completely leave the labor force. Their report, “What’s So Special About STEM?” will appear in the December issue of the journal Social Forces.

    • Apple buys motion sensor-making firm
      Apple purchases PrimeSense, an Israeli firm that specialises in making 3D motion detection technology.
    • Science, Engineering Degrees Grew Twice As Fast As Others, Report Says
      Efforts to encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees may be starting to sink into students’ minds, according to new data released by the National Student Clearinghouse.

      The organization’s research center found that in the last five years, bachelor’s degree completions for science and engineering disciplines grew nearly twice as fast as others. Between 2009 and 2013, science and engineering degrees grew by 19 percent, compared to a 9 percent growth among other disciplines. The NSC’s research center analyzed the growth of these degrees in two reports released Monday, one by gender and another by age.

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    • The Idea and Itinerary
      Last Wednesday, it occurred to me that I would no longer be commuting between San Francisco and New York: I decided that I wanted to live in New York, resulting in me resigning from my job in San Francisco. With only a month gap between the time that I would leave for my already planned trip to Dubai and India, I sat on my bed, anxiously wondering what I was going to do for the next few weeks, besides teach myself to build apps on Google Glass. In a moment of distraction, I checked out December flights to London and discovered that they were about $800 — the amount of money that I could make by renting out my apartment on AirBnB for one week…

      AND THE IDEA SPARKED:

      I’ve been passionate about influencing the future of wearable technology since I was 13, after reading Feed by M.T. Anderson. When Glass was released in March 2013, I knew I had to be involved in this future. Thirty thousand people have now been invited to join Google’s Glass Explorer program, myself included. The exclusivity of having Glass will not last that much longer. Now is the perfect time to travel around the world to record how people, from a wide range of cultures, interact and experience Glass for the first time, as I form ideas about how to build on the platform Google has created.

      THE ITINERARY

      Just now, at 19:47, I bought my plane ticket to Madrid. I land on December 4th and intend to be there for three days before heading to Barcelona, Paris, London and Berlin. From Berlin, I will fly back to New York to re-pack my backpack and on December 21st, I will fly to Dubai. I will be in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for two days before taking a plane to Mumbai, India. Then I will travel to Goa, where I will spend New Years, before returning to New York on January 3rd. On the 5th, I am flying out to CES in Las Vegas.

      I am looking forward to seeing everyone’s experiences through Glass and allowing people across different cultures to experience Glass!

    • Getting More Girls Into STEM Careers: Lessons From a Principal
      Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series produced by HuffPost’s Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. Join the community as we discuss issues affecting women in science, technology, engineering and math.

      I recently wrote “Engineered to Succeed: Lessons from a Student Pursuing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Career,” and began with a quote from President Obama. I begin ‘Part Two’ with a quote from the First Lady:

      “If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering and math.” — First Lady Michelle Obama, Sept. 26, 2011.

      Previously I focused on Cindy Arteaga and her experiences as a young Latina woman studying civil engineering and mathematics at Southern Methodist University — and the path that brought her to that career choice. Part two provides a high school principal’s perspective on mentoring young women embarking on STEM careers.

      Mansoureh Tehrani is principal of METSA (Math, Engineering, Technology and Science Academy) in Carrollton, Texas. Before becoming an educator, she had an IT career spanning 15 years at companies such as Texas Instruments, Apple Computers and American Airlines and knows “from the inside” what it takes to succeed in a STEM career.

      In many ways my own career path paralleled Mansoureh’s. From my own early work experiences moving through the ranks in the high tech and software worlds, I understand the challenges faced by young women who choose to pursue this career path.

      I asked Mansoureh what guidance she would give to a young woman focusing on a STEM career. “My IT career showed me that many college graduates do not have the right skills for the workforce,” explained Mansoureh. “Most knew their content, but did not know how to communicate, collaborate and innovate. I switched careers in the early 1990s to help transform public education.”

      Many young women do not have women in their lives who can serve as role models for STEM jobs. “In the past (and to some extent now) girls in most cultures did not see women, their mothers, their aunts or their mother’s friends holding jobs in high tech fields,” said Mansoureh. “So perhaps they think that kind of career is not for them either, but then I point out the number of females in the STEM fields has been growing because of schools like METSA and now many women who are working in these fields are mentoring young girls to pursue such careers.”

      Currently about 25 percent of the workforce in life sciences and 15 percent of the workforce in engineering/computer science is female. “That is better than what it has been, but not where it should and can be,” said Mansoureh. “One thing lacking in most schools is that counselors do not have the necessary training to help girls match their interest to STEM-related fields.”

      To help address this need for more training, New Tech Network is offering a course on STEM for educators who work in New Tech schools, integrating STEM and Project-Based Learning (PBL). The course asks the driving question: How can STEM teachers improve project quality and increase disciplinary literacy through College Readiness Assessments?

      Through project-based learning, New Tech Network teachers are trained to embed literacy and math to projects that have a real world application.

      I asked Mansoureh how she helps young women navigate the challenges of pursuing a STEM career.

      “In the early adolescent years, there is a certain amount of timidity as well as social barriers that young women confront,” said Mansoureh. “We also see the same happening in university settings, where young women in academics are not often sought after as leaders and do not perceive themselves as a team member. By engaging young women early on with real-world experiences and showing them how these ‘mentor women’ are in control and working on engineering solutions for a better world and positive solutions for diseases, (for example), we can help spark their interest and allow young girls to see themselves in a STEM career.”

      According to Mansoureh, METSA students also have field-based experiences where they see women working in STEM fields as well as a variety of college visits where they can speak with female students in STEM-related majors.

      Mansoureh explained how METSA works to assure that students graduate ‘college and career ready’. “METSA classes utilize project-based and problem-based learning. Students are given leadership opportunities to manage their projects in various classes. They get feedback from their peers and the facilitators to improve their leadership traits for the next project. Advisers help students research the best career, find the right college, apply and look for financial support,” she said.

      “METSA’s culture mimics a business world,” said Mansoureh. “We expect everyone to take the initiative to diagnose their learning needs, formulate goals, identify necessary resources, choose and implement appropriate strategies and reflect on their accomplishments towards completing professional quality work in a timely manner. The teachers model these attributes for the students and have dialogues with them until it becomes second nature.”

      We think it’s important for a young women pursuing a STEM career to find adults who believe in them and their potential, and to learn how to build support systems. Asking for help and learning from every encounter will further enhance the likelihood of success. Add to that a school like METSA, and you have the recipe for a successful college and career STEM experience. We’re also working on having schools like METSA be broadly available for many more young women and men.

    • Samsung's market share in Japan drops as Apple surges
      Samsung may sell the most smartphones in the world overall, but the South Korean tech giant is struggling in Japan even as its chief rival, Apple, achieves greater heights. Sunday brought word from The Korea Herald that Samsung’s share in the Japanese smartphone market dropped again last quarter, making for four straight quarterly declines. Last quarter, Samsung moved just one million units in Japan, only about one-fourth the total that Apple sold.
          



    • Memory makeover: DRAM days numbered as Japan eyes MRAM
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    • Beastie Boys vs. GoldieBlox: Viral Video Sparks Legal Battle Over Copyright Infringement
      Millions of viewers around the world may love the GoldieBlox commercial that soared to Internet fame last week, but apparently the Beastie Boys aren’t happy with one aspect of the girl-empowerment music video.

      According to The Hollywood Reporter, the hip-hop band has accused the toy company of copyright infringement for the unauthorized use of their 1987 hit “Girls”. They are reportedly arguing that GoldieBlox’s adaption of the song does not qualify as fair use, and claiming that the inclusion of “Girls” in the video is a “big problem” that has a “very significant impact.”

      The toy company responded in kind by preemptively filing a lawsuit against the Beastie Boys, their record label, producer Rick Rubin and band member Adam Horovitz in California federal court Thursday. GoldieBlox is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to “vindicate the rights” of the toy company in connection with the parody video set to the tune of what GoldieBlox and its lawyers are calling a “highly sexist song,” according to a copy of the complaint.

      The startup, founded two years ago by engineer Debbie Sterling, designs construction toys for girls. To bolster the company’s ideals, GoldieBlox rewrote the lyrics of “Girls” and filmed three young girls singing the tune while setting off an intricate Rube Goldberg machine.

      In the lawsuit, GoldieBlox is arguing that the parody video is just that — a parody — and says its objective was to “make fun of the Beastie Boys song, and to further the company’s goal to break down gender stereotypes and to encourage young girls to engage in activities that challenge their intellect, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.”

      Fair use or not, as Rolling Stone notes, GoldieBlox may run into further legal issues since former Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch, who passed away last year, specified in his will that none of his music can be used in advertisements after his death.

      Update: Nov. 24, 6:53 p.m. — A source familiar with the matter said the Beastie Boys have not made such a claim, adding that GoldieBlox has sued the band preemptively. We will update again once we receive more information.

      Nov. 24, 10:28 p.m. — A representative for the Beastie Boys explained: “There was no complaint filed, no demand letter (no demand, for that matter) when [GoldieBlox] sued Beastie Boys.”

      If you haven’t seen the GoldieBlox video that has amassed more than 7 million views on YouTube since it’s release Sunday, watch it here (for now), and let us know what you think about the conflict in the comments.

    • Racing Post site in security breach
      The Racing Post promises “stringent” new measures to prevent a repeat of a security breach on its website.
    • European Space Ball Could Bring Mars Samples To Earth (VIDEO)

      European engineers have built a novel new container that could bring precious samples of Mars safely back to Earth.

      Though no Mars sample-return mission is firmly on the books, the European Space Agency has supported the development of a proof-of-concept container built to keep Martian samples in pristine condition as they journey from their home world all the way back to Earth. A video of the Mars sample capsule shows how it is expected to open and close when in use.

      “This challenging project drew on the expertise of multiple ESA specialists,” Benoit Laine, head of ESA’s Thermal Analysis and Verification section, said in a statement. Laine oversaw the sample container project. [The Boldest Mars Missions in History]

      “It incorporates mechanical systems covering structural, thermal and mechanisms engineering but also communications, antennas and power,” Laine added.

      The 9-inch (23 centimeters) spherical container holds 11 sealed receptacles, including one designed to capture a sample of Martian air. Weighing less than 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms), the sphere should protect the samples in temperatures below minus 10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) during the long journey to Earth, ESA officials said.

      One of the most challenging missions for robotic exploration, a sample-return effort would allow scientists to work hands-on with materials from Mars in their well-equipped labs rather than rely on a robotic proxy on the Red Planet’s surface.

      Sample-return is thus widely regarded as the best way to look for evidence of Martian life. Many researchers also view the strategy as a necessary step before a manned mission, with the idea that returning Martian rocks to Earth should be technologically easier than bringing astronauts home.

      But a sample-return mission wouldn’t be as simple as placing Martian rocks in a bag, flying them back, and dropping them on the nearest lab table.

      “Because there is the potential, however remote, that the samples contain alien life, we have to comply with strict planetary protection protocols not to bring them into contact with Earth’s biosphere,” Laine said.

      After a rover fills the container with carefully selected samples, the sphere will be launched into orbit until captured by a rendezvous spacecraft. A radio emitter and retroreflectors for close-up laser ranging should simplify the encounter, officials said.

      The container will then be placed within a larger bio-sealed vessel, which will then fly to Earth and crash-land on our planet’s surface.

      “In effect, the parachute technology is not reliable enough — which means the container must be able to withstand a crash landing without a parachute,” Laine said. “The mission design therefore does not include any parachute, and the capsule literally falls from Mars onto Earth, decelerated only by the pressure on the heatshield through Earth’s atmosphere, and by the impact at landing.”

      The current capsule is a proof of concept only, but it is fully functional, having undergone testing in simulated thermal conditions and a shock test at 400 times Earth’s gravitational pull, officials said.

      The primary contractor, French company Mecano I&D, and ESA continue to refine the design of the sample return container in hopes of putting it to use in the not-to-distant future.

      Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

      Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Mobile Technology News, November 24, 2013

    As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

    • Would-Be Cheaters Reveal Their Deepest Secrets On Whisper App
      Are you thinking of cheating?

      You’re not alone. Of the many users on Whisper, a free mobile app that allows users to anonymously share their secrets, dozens are revealing their deep desires to step out on their partners — and others are confessing their indiscretions after the fact.

      Click through the slideshow below for 16 infidelity confessions too juicy to share without the guise of anonymity.

      Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Divorce on Facebook and Twitter.

    • Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig Endorses Selfies, And We Love Him For It
      Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig is here to defend the common man’s right to take selfies.

      The singer, whose own Instagram account is heavy on jovial self-portraits, voiced his support for the Oxford Dictionaries’ 2013 Word of the Year. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Koenig said:

      “I think that anybody who’s anti-selfie is really just a hater. Because, truthfully, why shouldn’t people take pictures of themselves? When I’m on Instagram and I see that somebody took a picture of themselves, I’m like, ‘Thank you.’ I don’t need to see a picture of the sky, the trees, plants. There’s only one you. … There’s all this bulls–t about ‘the younger kids today are more self-absorbed.’ It’s like, give me a f–king break! I’ve been in nursing homes, where my grandma is. I’ve seen some of the most selfish people on the planet in there. … And the world that these kids are born into literally could not get more selfish. The world is so f–ked-up and unequal and full of a–holes. You can’t blame it on the younger generation.”

      Koenig’s stance may not be universally accepted, but we fully endorse his love for selfies, if only so he’ll continue to flood his Instagram with charming photos. There’s even a Tumblr account devoted to the many smiles he’s flashed in the mirror. Here are some of Koenig’s best.

    • NY Only State Still On Board With School Data Plan
      NEW YORK (AP) — New York is the only state still fully on board with a technology company’s plan to create statewide databases for every public school student’s grades, tests scores and attendance records.

      Concerns from parents about who will have access to the information, how long it will be held and whether it will be used for marketing purposes have stalled the momentum of a startup that promised to bring efficiency and cost savings to school record-keeping. Atlanta data-storage company inBloom drew early interest from several states, but nearly all have pulled back.

      New York’s Education Department is going forward with plans to send student information to inBloom sometime after Jan. 1. A group of New York City parents sued this month to block the release of that data.

    • 21 People Who Should Have Googled It
      When you have a question you want answered online, you have two option. You can search for the answer, or create a totally unwarranted social media post to let everyone know you have a question — no matter how silly or embarrassing it is.

      These people chose the latter.

    • Hackathon App Shows Life As An Undocumented Immigrant
      When Erick Garcia first talked to VOXXI two weeks ago about participating in a hackathon hosted by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s advocacy group FWD.us, he confessed he was nervous.

      But his level of nervousness rose to a whole new level Thursday night moments before he and his team, dubbed Undoculife, found out their app was declared the winner of the storytelling category in the 25-hour hackathon.

      “I couldn’t believe it,” said Garcia, a 27-year-old Dreamer who holds a computer systems engineering degree from Arizona State University.

      The app creates a virtual world where users are put through real-life scenarios that undocumented immigrants confront in their daily lives. They are asked to make decisions and are able to see the consequences that result from their decisions.

      A real-life common scenario presents a challenge in the virtual world of #Undoculife. #DREAMerHack #Ready4Reform pic.twitter.com/mtvmfnjuSQ

      — FWD.us (@FWD_us) November 22, 2013

      For instance, Garcia explained that one of the scenarios involves an undocumented man who must decide whether to attend his daughter’s recital after work or agree to his boss’s request to stay to work longer without getting paid overtime. That scenario is meant to highlight the unfair treatment undocumented immigrants face in the workplace, as well as show undocumented immigrants how they can stand up for their rights.

      “We wanted to come up with a tool to not only empower our community and educate them about their rights and what they can do to defend themselves, but also to show what we struggle with on a daily basis,” Garcia told VOXXI.

      Besides Garcia, Dreamers who are part of the Undoculife team included Celso Mireles and Carlos Vargas. They were mentored by three tech experts: Josh Wiseman, a former software engineer for Facebook; Grace Lee, a NASA software engineer; and Khoa DoBa, senior software engineer of Zynga.

      Garcia added the app is still in its early stages of development. But he said he and his team do plan to finish it in the next few months with the help of their three mentors.

      Zuckerberg, who was a judge in the hackathon competition, described team Undoculife’s app as “one of the most impressive things I have seen in awhile.”

      Other judges included Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and FWD.us co-founder Joe Green. The judges chose winners for two other categories: best design and best advocacy app.

      “This is just the beginning. All of these are amazing projects,” Green said moments before announcing the winners.

      The hackathon was held Nov. 20 and 21 at LinkedIn’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. It brought together 20 Dreamers who were separated into eight teams and were paired up with several tech experts. They were given 25 hours to come up with prototypes of products to assist the immigration reform movement.

      Many of Dreamers selected for the hackathon hold technology-focused degrees and plan to pursue careers in the technology field. A few of them are already working for tech companies, using the work permits they received under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that the Obama administration implemented last summer.

      Originally published on VOXXI as Dreamers’ hackathon app shows what it’s like to be undocumented

    • LADEE, NASA's New Moon Dust Probe, Begins Lunar Science Mission

      NASA’s newest lunar probe has officially begun its mission to study the moon’s tenuous atmosphere like never before, as well as track how dust moves across the lunar sky.

      The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, nicknamed LADEE for short, entered its science orbit on Wednesday (Nov. 20). The spacecraft now circles the moon once every two hours in an orbit, approaching within a mere 8 miles (12 kilometers) at its closest point and soaring 37 miles (60 km) overhead at its highest point, NASA officials said in a statement. A NASA video captured the moon mission milestone as LADEE bgean its science mission.

      The $280 million LADEE spacecraft launched from a Virginia spaceport Sept. 6 and is expected to spend about 100 days probing the structure and composition of the thin atmosphere of the moon. [Photos: NASA's LADEE Moon Dust Mission in Pictures]

      “A thorough understanding of the characteristics of our lunar neighbor will help researchers understand other small bodies in the solar system, such as asteroids, Mercury, and the moons of outer planets,” said LADEE program scientist Sarah Noble, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement Thursday (Nov. 21).

      LADEE’s orbit carries the car-size spacecraft around the moon’s equator, allowing the probe repeatedly see the moon during lunar day and night. Scientists hope it will be able to see strange, glowing “rays and streamers” in the moon’s atmosphere that were first seen in early unmanned lunar photographs and reports from Apollo lunar landing astronauts.

      The spacecraft also carries a novel laser communications system to test high-speed data transmission technology for future space missions.

      The LADEE spacecraft’s low orbit around the moon requires meticulous attention to keep the probe from falling victim to the strange, lumpy lunar gravity.

      “Due to the lumpiness of the moon’s gravitational field, LADEE’s orbit requires significant maintenance activity with maneuvers taking place as often as every three to five days, or as infrequently as once every two weeks,” said Butler Hine, LADEE project manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said in a statement. “LADEE will perform regular orbital maintenance maneuvers to keep the spacecraft’s altitude within a safe range above the surface that maximizes the science return.”

      Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on SPACE.com.

      Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    • Cell Phone Calls On Airplanes May Be Outrageously Expensive
      If you’re one of the few air travelers excited about the prospect of making cell phone calls in flight, then you may want to brace yourself: It’s probably going to cost a fortune.

      While U.S. cell phone carriers aren’t yet commenting on the possible cost of domestic in-flight wireless service, experts say it’s likely they’ll adhere to pricing schemes similar to those used in global travel. Outside the U.S., where some airplanes have for years been outfitted with technology that allows passengers to make phone calls and to text in flight, customers pay the same fees to their wireless carriers as if they were roaming internationally.

      The going rate can be several dollars per minute.

      “They can demand any price because they’ve got the definition of a captive audience,” said Chris Silva, a mobile research director at Gartner, the technology research firm. “They’d be foolish not to make it expensive.”

      The Federal Communications Commission raised an Internet furor on Thursday when it announced it would consider allowing U.S. passengers to make cell phone calls when planes travel above 10,000 feet. The union representing flight attendants quickly released a statement saying the agency “should not proceed with this proposal.”

      AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile declined to comment on the FCC’s plan. But the Consumer Electronics Association, which represents technology companies, and the Telecommunications Industry Association, a trade group, reacted favorably to the news.

      On Friday, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the decision to allow cell phones on planes will be left up to individual airlines. According to the Wall Street Journal, Delta, Southwest and Virgin America consider in-flight cell phone use “virtually off the table.”

      In a statement to The Huffington Post, Jetblue said that if the FCC policy were to change, the company “would prioritize making the cabin comfortable and welcoming for all — for those who want cell service and for those who like peace and quiet.” United said in an email that it will take into account customer and crew feedback “when the FCC makes a proposal available.”

      Should the proposal go through, cellular access on airplanes in the U.S. may follow the model in place on overseas carriers, meaning it could be as just as expensive.

      “There will be some kind of roaming charge,” said John Walton, the director of data for Routehappy, a site that rates flights based on “happiness scores” like Wi-Fi availability, in-seat power access and seat size. “There would have to be some kind of charge over and above regular phone calls to actually make it worth anyone’s time to incur this capital expense.”

      Phone calls from planes equipped with technology from OnAir, a Swiss company that counts British Airways, Emirates and Singapore Airlines among its customers, is about $3 to $4 per minute, said Aurélie Branchereau-Giles, the director of communications for the company. “You would expect similar pricing” in the U.S., she said.

      Passengers using OnAir’s service, as well as AeroMobile, another provider, connect to the cellular network like it’s an international network, and are later billed through their wireless carriers.

      Many of the people who took to social media to complain about the possibility of having a neighbor barking into a cell phone during a flight would no doubt welcome prohibitively high service costs. As the Journal reports, 51 percent of people have negative feelings about passengers making phone calls on planes, according to a survey cited by the FAA in an advisory group report from earlier this year.

      But experts say that in part due to the likely high expense of making a call longer than a few minutes, any fear of having to endure someone else’s flight-long phone call is overblown.

      “The sky is not falling,” said Routehappy’s Walton. “This is not going to be a disaster for passengers.”

      Walton said the high price of in-flight calls combined with attention to social norms will prevent people from spending entire cross-country flights chatting away on their cell phones. People who talk on their phones loudly on airplanes will be viewed as rude, like those who listen to music without wearing headphones, he said.

      “I cannot say that people are going to willingly be that person on the plane who aren’t already that person on the plane for some other reason,” he said.

      Plus, people increasingly use their cell phones for purposes other than voice calls, like sharing pictures, using messaging and social networking apps and writing emails.

      “People are already feeling that it’s rude to call people” without first texting them, said Tero Kuittinen, a mobile analyst at Alekstra, a firm that works to reduce companies’ phone bills.

      As an example of cell phone use on public transit, Kuittinen pointed to the metro system in Helsinki, Finland, most of which is above ground and has cellular service.

      “You rarely see anyone talking,” he said, noting that he’s observed people instead messaging and using the photo-sharing app Instagram. “I feel like Americans are too scared of this.”

    • Briefly: New portable Wren V5BT and wearable Pulse Bluetooth speakers
      American audio company, Wren Sound Systems, is now shipping its latest speaker product, the Wren V5BT portable speaker. Powered by Intersil’s classic D2 50-watt DSP-controlled class D amplifier, the V5BT is able to deliver room-filling sound in a compact design.
          



    • Microsoft Sells Over 1 Million Xbox One Consoles In 24 Hours
      By Malathi Nayak

      SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp sold over 1 million of its new Xbox One game consoles within 24 hours of their hitting store shelves on Friday, on par with Sony Corp’s PlayStation 4 despite launching in far more countries.

      The new console, which launched in 13 countries, set a record for first-day Xbox sales and is currently sold out at most retailers, Microsoft said in a statement.

      Sony said it sold 1 million PS4 units in 24 hours after launching last Friday in just the United States and Canada. The PS4 expands to other regions, including Europe, Australia and South America, from November 29. It then hits Japan in February.

      Microsoft is locked in a console war with Sony this holiday season. The software giant hopes the Xbox One not only entices gamers but attracts a broader consumer base of TV fans and music lovers with its interactive entertainment features and media apps.

      “We are working hard to create more Xbox One consoles,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing and strategy at Xbox.

      Robert W. Baird & Co analyst Colin Sebastian has said he expects shipments of 2.5 million to 3 million units for both the Xbox One and PS4 in the fourth quarter.

      Both the PS4, priced at $399 in the United States, and the Xbox One, with a price tag of $499, offer improved graphics for realistic effects, processors that allow faster game play and a slew of exclusive video games.

      (Editing by Eric Beech and Eric Walsh)

    Mobile Technology News, November 23, 2013

    As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

    • What console war? Microsoft sells 1M Xbox Ones in first 24 hours
      That was quick. Following Sony’s successful PlayStation 4 launch last week, Microsoft has announced that it too has sold 1 million units in its first day.
    • VIDEO: Bono and Apple join forces for RED
      Bono and Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design Sir Jony Ive join forces to create one-of-a-kind pieces for a charity auction.
    • The Waywire Story. Buy vs. Build?
      When you work in the software as a service business, you hear it all the time – the decision comes down to “Buy vs. Build.”

      Which is why for me, finding myself facing that decision was ironic and challenging.

      This summer my startup was growing nicely, the market had come to embrace the concept of video curation – after a few long cold winters waiting for the practice to take hold. We’d had some great customer wins and launches, and the phone was ringing. So why not sit back and enjoy the ride? Well, it turns out that entrepreneurs don’t do that very well, and I was looking for actions and tools I could implement that would accelerate adoption and further solidify our position as the leaders in video curation.

      When you work in the software as a service business, you hear it all the time – the decision comes down to “Buy vs. Build.”

      Which is why for me, finding myself facing that decision was ironic and challenging.

      This summer my startup was growing nicely, the market had come to embrace the concept of video curation – after a few long cold winters waiting for the practice to take hold. We’d had some great customer wins and launches, and the phone was ringing. So why not sit back and enjoy the ride? Well, it turns out that entrepreneurs don’t do that very well, and I was looking for actions and tools I could implement that would accelerate adoption and further solidify our position as the leaders in video curation.

      When you work in the software as a service business, you hear it all the time – the decision comes down to “Buy vs. Build.”

      Which is why for me, finding myself facing that decision was ironic and challenging.

      This summer my startup was growing nicely, the market had come to embrace the concept of video curation – after a few long cold winters waiting for the practice to take hold. We’d had some great customer wins and launches, and the phone was ringing. So why not sit back and enjoy the ride? Well, it turns out that entrepreneurs don’t do that very well, and I was looking for actions and tools I could implement that would accelerate adoption and further solidify our position as the leaders in video curation.

      The big risks were easy to catalog. Would there be any legacy issues that we’d acquire? Either bad public perceptions, or unknown investor issues. Here we could address risks with aggressive and throughout due diligence. We spoke to stakeholders, reviewed documents, tested the waters with current customers and former users of the site. It was exhaustive, but in the end the investigation proved insightful. #Waywire had been headed in the right direction – perhaps spread thin with both an editorial and tech set of ambitious deliverables. But there was no iceberg under the water that we could run aground on.

      The rewards were a bit harder to categorize We knew that we had a good reputation in the tech press, but had passed the early launch ‘darling’ phase. Would a new product in a related category get us a warm embrace or a shrug of the shoulders? Unclear. Would we able to find efficiencies in the combined entity? We knew the answer was yes. Would the #Waywire investors be enthusiastic about the combination – our early outreach said yes.

      But the biggest question came down to one word: Distraction. And that was where we found that our team, though initially cautious, was excited to be able to bring a new Magnify.net powered #Waywire out to the market.

      It’s been a month since we closed on acquiring #Waywire. We’ve hired one of their key editorial people, brought on a founder as an Advisor, and worked closely with their investors to understand their vision, and align it with our new offering.

      We’re launched. Waywire.com.

      It’s still a work in progress, with changes in the editorial, the user-created #Wires, and the UI happening daily.

      But overall, the process of being both enthusiastic can analytical paid off. The press coverage has been through and mostly positive. The risks we were concerned about have been navigated. And overall, the energy we’ve been able to build around the new product has helped the company, the team, and our customers get a fresh look and what we’ve always believed was the emerging future of web video.

      Today, Waywire.com has 550 quality channels of content pouring into our servers. You can check them out here. And as we move toward the future, product innovation and evolution is on a fast track thanks to the acquisition.

      If I’ve learned anything, it’s this. When you buy a company – you buy more than a collection of assets. You buy a piece of their embodied karma. And at #waywire, the editorial energy and investor passion was strong. That’s something that makes the buy/build question a no-brainer.

      2013-11-22-WhyWeWire_noEdgeAAA.png

    • A Drone Just Crushed Your Best Vacation Photos (VIDEO)
      There’s nothing quite like touring the countryside from above.

      After getting the hang of his GoPro quadcopter while filming over Los Angeles, aerial photographer Clay Folden decided to branch out and traveled from Washington state to Manhattan. Along the way, he captured stunning bird’s eye views of Jackson, Wyo., South Carolina’s Folly Beach and the Florida Keys and edited them together to create his latest aerial drone tour.

      Attaching a GoPro camera to a DJI Phantom, Folden was able to film while flying the drone over sprawling landscapes, bodies of water and urban settings.

      But, it wasn’t always easy to film with a drone.

      “We did encounter some problems in the Keys. We had to launch from the dock attached to the lighthouse because the boat wasn’t stable enough. After we packed up from our second flight, the Coast Guard showed up full throttle and gave us a couple written arrests,” Folden told The Huffington Post, adding that he and his team and have been run off quite a few places.

      In all, Folden and his team traveled to Hollywood, Laguna Beach and Vasquez Rocks in California, Blaine and Puyallup, Wash., Jackson, Wyo., St Petersburg and the Florida Keys, Folly Beach, S.C., and Manhattan. See if you can name the spots where Folden filmed each scene of his aerial drone tour in the video above.

      Check out a video of the drone that was used to create Folden’s stunning video:

    • Twitter's 'Forward Secrecy' Takes Step To Make It Harder To Spy On Its Users
      By Jim Finkle
      (Reuters) – Twitter Inc said it has implemented a security technology that makes it harder to spy on its users and called on other Internet firms to do the same, as Web providers look to thwart spying by government intelligence agencies.
      The online messaging service, which began scrambling communications in 2011 using traditional HTTPS encryption, said on Friday it has added an advanced layer of protection for HTTPS known as “forward secrecy.”
      “A year and a half ago, Twitter was first served completely over HTTPS,” the company said in a blog posting. “Since then, it has become clearer and clearer how important that step was to protecting our users’ privacy.”
      Twitter’s move is the latest response from U.S. Internet firms following disclosures by former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden about widespread, classified U.S. government surveillance programs.
      Facebook Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc have publicly complained that the government does not let them disclose data collection efforts. Some have adopted new privacy technologies to better secure user data.
      Forward secrecy prevents attackers from exploiting one potential weakness in HTTPS, which is that large quantities of data can be unscrambled if spies are able to steal a single private “key” that is then used to encrypt all the data, said Dan Kaminsky, a well-known Internet security expert.
      The more advanced technique repeatedly creates individual keys as new communications sessions are opened, making it impossible to use a master key to decrypt them, Kaminsky said.
      “It is a good thing to do,” he said. “I’m glad this is the direction the industry is taking.”
      (Reporting by Jim Finkle; editing by Andrew Hay)
    • 5 Ways To Become an Effective Social Media Douchebag
      This year people will spend more time on digital media than watching TV. TIME TO FREAK OUT!!!!

      You could loose your shit, or you could do the smart thing and cash in on the fear by becoming a social media expert. Don’t know the difference between LinkedIn and Lean In? No problem! Here are 5 easy ways to earn a crazy amounts of cheddar in the exciting world of social media douchbaggery.

      Talk a big ass game
      Your job as a social media douchebag mandates that you’re condescending to anyone who knows slightly less about social media than you do. Start by establishing your credibility. Tell your friends that you were on Facebook back when The Zuck was cyber stalking hotties in his Chem class. Talk about creating apps for everything. Need to increase sales? Make an app. Have extra inventory? Make a cool app. Even if they just need a responsive website, push apps because it makes you sound like you know what you’re doing.

      Drop your Klout score into conversations
      Klout scores measure how awesome you are at social media by ranking you in a gladiator match against other social media douchebags. Drop your Klout score casually in conversation just to impress people. Don’t have a Klout score? Just make one up, nobody actually goes to the site to check. By focusing on arbitrary numbers you can ignore the point of engaging with influencers, which is really to find people that will be influential to YOUR target audience. If the biggest name in Rat Basketball (yes, it’s a thing) talks about your toilet paper product, does it really make a difference? Tools like Traackr analyze not just the most influential people but the most influential people in your field.

      Talk about how Instagram/Pinterest/Snapchat is the next Facebook
      During a recent earnings call Facebook’s Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman said, “We did see a decrease in daily users among younger teens.” Of course this was cause for alarm. Show everyone how on top of things you are by referring to any new social network as “A Facebook killer,” even if it only has 30 people and your second cousin on it.

      String together buzzwords, constantly
      Buzzwords are the bacon bits of the social media world, you should add them to liberally to everything. As long as you put at least two buzzwords in every sentence you’ll maintain the illusion that you know what you’re talking about. (Bonus points for using alliteration with your buzzwords like Knowledge KPIs). Forget the fact that succeeding in social follows the same formula as anything else in business; know your goals, plan like a madman, execute with passion measure everything, optimize based on numbers and then do it over and over again until it’s right.

      Talk about goals without ever mentioning metrics
      For now on metrics are you kryptonite. As a true social media expert you should talk about big, sassy goals and never back them up with measurements on how you would reach them. “It’s social media, we measure our success by how many times Gary Vaynerchuk exasperatedly mentions us on Twitter.” Instead of taking a goals based approach that ladders everything back your objectives, just fake it until you make it.

      When your next boatload of cash money drops at your doorstep from being a social media asshat, you’ll thank me.

    • 5 Ways HealthCare.gov Could Get Hacked
      Glitches and outages have been the main focus thus far in the scrutiny over the HealthCare.gov website – but a bigger problem could be looming on the horizon for Americans who wish to enroll on the site: hacking.

      Every coding flaw on a website presents an opportunity for hackers to get in. The main worry with the Affordable Care Act website is that it could serve as a major target for hackers who are looking to steal personal identities. Although HealthCare.gov doesn’t store this information directly on the website, it only links to it through a maze of third-party government sites (Internal Revenue Service, Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, etc.), that doesn’t make it any less risky for consumers. A hacker can just as easily compromise a website that transmits personally sensitive data, as it can one that actually stores that data. This data may have been safe on the original website (e.g., IRS.gov), but once it travels through an insecure platform, it can become vulnerable to attack.

      The concern with HealthCare.gov is that officials have basically conceded in Congressional hearings that they went live with the website in spite of numerous coding errors and security oversights – that means it’s potentially vulnerable to a wide-range of cyber attacks that could hurt users.

      In order to ensure the safety of consumers, the HealthCare.gov team needs to do more than just check all the millions of lines of code on the site – they also need to bring in outside security experts to run “ethical hacking” tests (also known as “penetration testing”) to see if it really does block hackers from getting in.

      Here are five ways that HealthCare.gov or one of the 15 state-run exchanges could be hacked:

      1. Code Injection Attacks - When a website is poorly designed, it’s often vulnerable to what is referred to in the security industry as “injection attacks.” This means a hacker can go onto the website and write a malicious code which she then tricks the website into accepting and running as its own. What the heck does that mean? Well, let’s say there’s a search box, or any type of feedback form, on the website. Instead of typing in a real question, the hacker could enter a small amount of code that the web server executes. This code might be designed to get access to private information stored on the site (such as user profiles) or maybe even to install malware that will infect anyone who visits the website in the future. One of the most widely used code injection attacks is SQL injection, or SQLi.
      What You Can Do: You can’t protect your information on the website, but you can protect your computer from getting infected by malicious code that may at some point run on that website. The best way to do this is to use a “sandbox,” like Sandboxie or SecuBrowser, to keep your browser isolated. This will stop hackers from being able to make changes to your computer or infect it with malicious scripts.

      2. Cross-Site Scripting - One specific type of injection attack that deserves special attention is “cross-site scripting” or XSS. This may sound technical, but the basic idea behind it is pretty easy to understand. A hacker goes in, and just like in the cases above, tricks the website into accepting malicious code through an input field, such as a web request or form field. The next time a person visits the site, a cross-site scripting attack will run against their web browser, stealing saved passwords and cookies from that browser. This type of attack is very common.
      What You Can Do: You can block this type of attack by installing a third-party extension in your browser – like NoScript on Firefox or NotScripts on Google Chrome. Also, don’t allow your Internet browser to cache passwords.

      3. Insecure or Weak Authentication - Websites that are poorly designed often struggle with inadequate “authentication” and “session management” – these are important security features that, when done right, protect the integrity of your account. When they’re weak or inadequate, a hacker can impersonate users and take over their accounts.
      What You Can Do: Don’t try to register or login to a HealthCare.gov account, or other suspect sites, from a public WiFi hotspot or any unsecured location. Tools like Hotspot Shield can be used to help secure wireless connections. Additionally, try to use a virtual private network (VPN) when accessing these sites. A VPN will encrypt your communication with the website, better protecting your account.

      4. Clickjacking - In this type of attack, hackers take advantage of poor security on a website to slip invisible frames over seemingly innocuous items or features on a webpage – such as an entry form, a video, or a ‘like’ button. When a person clicks on this button (for instance, “submit form”), they’re actually clicking on the hidden link slipped over the real web page – so their information is redirected to a malicious website or sensitive information is stolen. This is a complex hack and difficult for users to spot.
      What You Can Do: As with the cross-site scripting threat, you can install a third-party browser extension like NoScript on Firefox or GuardedID on Internet Explorer.

      5. Sensitive Data Exposure - Some websites make it easy for hackers: they accidentally leak sensitive data or fail to properly encrypt it. We’ve seen this before, even with well-designed commercial websites and mobile apps. For example, the site does not properly encrypt its users’ passwords (using methods like “salting” to make them harder to crack) or transmits information in clear text. Twitter and Gmail used to have this problem before they switched to default SSL encryption for all users – and Yahoo Mail just announced it’s doing the same thing. In the case of HealthCare.gov, the real risk is likely to be in how it relays data back and forth between the various third-party websites it’s linked to (e.g., IRS, Veterans Affairs, etc.) and how well it encrypts those communications.
      What You Can Do: There’s nothing you can do to protect your data on the website. But you can take steps to avoid exposing this data yourself when logging in or using the site. For instance, there are browser extensions available – like HTTPS Everywhere on Firefox and Chrome and ForceTLS on Firefox – that will automatically revert every website to the encrypted HTTPS version if that option is provided. (A lot of websites offer limited HTTPS settings, but don’t always enforce it and may even make it difficult to use. These tools automatically interface with them to enforce encryption.) Additionally, don’t login from a public WiFi hotspot, try to use a VPN and make sure you log out of the site when you’re finished. Also, don’t allow your browser to cache passwords.

      These five items represent real threats that attackers use to target thousands of websites each year. However, the U.S. has some of the best minds in the world when it comes to cybersecurity, and there’s no doubt HealthCare.gov can be fixed if the right people are given the chance to test it. It’s also important for the state-run exchanges to undergo this testing – some of them aren’t even using SSL encryption for all of their transactions, but that’s another story.

    • 10 Surprising Social Media Statistics That Might Make You Rethink Your Social Strategy
      Social Media is changing faster than ever, as if that wasn’t something everyone already knew!

      If you’re managing social media for your business, it might be useful to know about some of the most surprising social media statistics this year. Here are ten that might make you rethink the way you’re approaching social media.

      social media statistics

      1. The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year age bracket.

      • This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.
      • The 45-54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
      • For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%.
      • For Google+, 56%.

      Those are impressive numbers against the prevailing idea that social media is ‘just for teenagers.’ It certainly points to the importance of having a solid social media strategy if these age brackets fit into your target demographic.

      Rethink it: Keep older users in mind when using social media, particularly on these three platforms. Our age makes a difference to our taste and interests, so if you’re focusing on younger users with the content you post, you could be missing an important demographic.

      Read the rest of this entry »

    Mobile Technology News, November 22, 2013

    As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

    • Encrypted messaging coming to Microsoft's Office 365 next year
      New feature will automatically encrypt e-mail sent on the service, regardless of the destination. Replies and forwards of messages will also be encrypted.
    • Samsung to pay Apple $290m (£180m)
      A US jury rules that Samsung must pay $290m (£180m) to Apple for copying iPhone and iPad features in its devices.
    • Obscure FBI Unit Does The Domestic Spying That The NSA Can't
      With every fresh leak, the world learns more about the U.S. National Security Agency’s massive and controversial surveillance apparatus. Lost in the commotion has been the story of the NSA’s indispensable partner in its global spying operations: an obscure, clandestine unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that, even for a surveillance agency, keeps a low profile.
    • Engineering the Perfect Date
      The other day I realized there was something missing in my life, so I set out to find a solution. Online dating is in vogue, which makes sense. The Internet already has no small part in satisfying most of my other needs. I was pleased to learn that the latest popular dating app, Tinder, now has an Android client. Besides forcing me to reactivate my Facebook account, it seems simple enough. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that this was going to turn in to a massive time sink. Perhaps, I thought, I could optimize it?

      I did some simple man in the middle packet sniffing to reverse engineer the Tinder API. It’s pretty simple. Send your location, grab a handful of images and user ids, and tell the server which ones you liked. I wrote a minimal Python client in Ubuntu and began designing an algorithm to speed up the process a bit. The algorithm first segments the main image by finding all of the faces via OpenCV. If none are found the candidate is discarded. If multiple faces are found the end score will be the average of all of them. This seems to work since people tend to associate with those of similar levels of attractiveness. Facial attractiveness is surprisingly uncomplicated to quantify. Essentially, evolution has us seeking partners that are as “normal” as possible. Anything that is unusually big or small, any ratio that differs from \phi, or about 1.618, hurts the score. After the face(s) are identified in the image, a mask of 25 anthropometric proportion indices is overlaid and mean compliance is measured. This is also done with a custom OpenCV routine.

      2013-11-22-tinder_app.png

      The client also has messaging capabilities. After a match is identified the algorithm sends a simple message “Can I have a dance?” inspired by Mos Def’s success with “Ms. Fat Booty.” If no response is received the candidate is discarded. If any response is received, it is ignored and a follow up message is sent “Haha okay then how about we go to a fancy seafood restaurant?” — inspired by the classic meat-for-sex exchange that is common in the animal kingdom as well as among humans. The client uses NLTK to judge an affirmative or negative response. From here an Odesk virtual assistant coordinates dates. This also handles rescheduling but conflicts are not an issue as you will soon see.

      Come date night, a Double Robot loaded with over 10 hours of pre-recorded content of me rolls up to a restaurant automatically chosen from Yelp based on reviews, distance, cost, and whether or not another double of me has a date there at the time (awkward). Reservations are made via OpenTable’s API. Everything from witty, non-offensive stories to mildly embarrassing personal traits to compliments are recorded. According to the logs, candidates are often taken aback at a robot showing up, but a sincere recording complimenting their shoes immediately puts them at ease. Mostly, though, it asks questions and listens. The algorithm aims for a 4:1 ratio of listening to presenting. Based on tone of voice computed by DSP, the system knows which topics to go deeper on and which to avoid, organized in a tree structure in memory. If things are going poorly the emergency “tell me about your cat” routine is run and the microphone is muted to prevent the Speech to Text processor from running useless cycles.

      The check is paid via E La Carte and a car is called with Uber’s API. If the algorithm has not been meeting its heuristics the candidate is driven home and the robot self-destructs after uploading its data to the cloud so future iterations can learn from its mistakes. If it has been going well an AirBnB room is insta-booked and the Uber drives there. Once in the room a music playlist is algorithmically generated with Spotify and the candidate’s musical taste gleaned from their Facebook likes. At this moment an Instacart driver should be arriving with a $10 bottle of wine and fresh strawberries and an Exec delivers a NeuroSky Mindwave 3 and a Vibease Smart Vibrator.

      Both devices connect to the Double’s iPad via Bluetooth wirelessly and to the female directly. The female’s brainwaves are fed in to a Learning Vector Quantization Artificial Neural Network (FABIO). At first FABIO adjusts the parameters of the Vibease mostly at random, but partially based on previous experience. Based on feedback generated by the headset the system learns and adaptively adjusts the output parameters in order to maximize EEG amplitude. Unfortunately, the complex mathematical operations required by FABIO typically exhaust the Double’s battery in around 01:57-02:03 minutes, depending on the female. At this point the Double gruffly requests the female retrieve his charger. The robot records the candidate’s experience with a Go Pro 3 and securely uploads the video to a private Amazon S3 bucket.

      At 09:07 in the morning an Uber is automatically called for the female and three days later she will receive a heartfelt e-card/receipt. The algorithm will also wish her happy birthday on Facebook and like the top 20 percent of her Instagram photos as they are posted and start getting a lot of other likes. This continues until her Facebook relationship status switches away from single.

      Ahhh modern romance. Turing would be proud. Unfortunately I haven’t found the time to watch any of the videos since I’m too busy optimizing the algorithm.

      Visit Rob’s website robrhinehart.com, where this post first appeared.

    • The new meaning of spyware
      What happens when spooks use hacker tools?
    • Web inventor in surveillance warning
      The “growing tide of surveillance” threatens the democratic nature of the internet, warns the creator of the worldwide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
    • Global launch for Microsoft Xbox One
      The global launch of Microsoft’s the Xbox One game console took place early on Friday, 22 November.
    • How do game companies share massive files?
      How do game companies share massive files?
    • John Boehner Successfully Enrolls In Obamacare 45 Minutes After He Blogs About 'Frustrating' Experience
      WASHINGTON (AP) — Being speaker of the House doesn’t make it any easier to sign up for health care coverage using the troubled federal website. Just ask John Boehner.

      The Ohio Republican says he had to re-start the process several times while spending four hours trying to sign up at HealthCare.gov. At one point Thursday, Boehner tweeted his frustration — “Guess I’ll just have to keep trying” — along with photos of himself at a computer and the error message he says he received. The House speaker has 583,000 followers on Twitter.

      Nearly an hour after his tweet, Boehner received an email confirming he was signed up, his spokesman said.

      Boehner’s effort comes as Republicans crank up a highly organized effort to capitalize politically on the troubled rollout of the health care law’s website, as well as millions of Americans receiving policy cancellations.

      Congressional Democrats are squirming over potential political fallout from those problems ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

      President Barack Obama has apologized for problems related to his signature health care law. Administration officials have said the website, unveiled on Oct. 1, will be working better by the end of this month.

    • How Politics, Race And Socioeconomic Status Affect Parents' Fears About Tech
      By danah boyd and Eszter Hargittai for Slate

      Parents often fear technology. They worry that their children might be exposed to inappropriate pornographic or violent content online, or be negatively influenced or explicitly hurt by a stranger through social media. After hearing news coverage of horrific events, parents also fret that their kids might be bullied or bully someone else using digital tools.

      Both federal and state governments are proposing interventions to address the real or imagined plague of Internet safety issues. For example, numerous states are considering or have passed bills that would target cyberbullying specifically, while members of Congress are seeking to address privacy concerns by restricting how youth can interact with sites that collect user information. But are such moves addressing risks that youth actually face? Whose concerns are they addressing?

      To get a sense for parental concerns and experiences, we conducted a nationally representative survey of U.S. parents and guardians with children 10-14 in their household. Analyzing responses from just over 1,000 parents, we found significant variation among them. Results showed that parental concerns vary significantly by background — notably race and ethnicity, income, metropolitan status, and political ideology. For example, black, Hispanic, and Asian parents are much more concerned than whites about certain online safety matters, even when controlling for socioeconomic factors and previous experiences with the various safety issues.

      Lower socioeconomic parents were more likely to express concern about their children being bullied or becoming a bully. Asian-American parents had the highest fear about most online safety issues, followed closely by Hispanics. Urban parents were more concerned than both suburban and rural parents about every online safety issue we explored.

      How political ideology influences concern very much depends on the specific online safety issue. Liberal parents were least concerned about their children meeting a stranger while moderates were the most, with conservatives in between. Liberals were also the least concerned about exposure to pornography — here conservative parents expressed the highest level fear. Conservatives were least concerned, however, about their children becoming a bullying victim or a bully.

      We also inquired about previous experiences any of their children may have had with the issues: meeting a stranger, being exposed to violent content or pornography, and being bullied or being a bully. On the whole, very few people reported that they faced any of these problems. The most common safety issue that parents reported was exposure to pornography — but less than 19 percent reported having had experienced it.

      Overall, our findings suggest that parental concerns don’t seem to match up with their lived experiences when it comes to meeting a stranger and exposure to violent content. They are especially worried about the possibility that a stranger will hurt their child, reflecting the pervasive anxiety about online sexual predators. Yet while such encounters are extraordinarily rare, the potential consequences of such an encounter are unthinkable. Still, the salience of parental fear about strangers in our data raises significant questions. Are parents especially afraid of strangers because this risk is particularly horrific? Or does their fear stem from the pervasive stranger-danger moral panics that have targeted social media as culprits, leading to the false impression that they are more common than they are?

      How parents incorporate concerns into their parenting practices affects their children’s activities and behavior, drives technological development in the online safety arena, and shapes public discourse and policy. When parents are afraid, they may restrict access to technologies in an effort to protect their children from perceived dangers. Yet the efficacy of such restrictions is unclear. If fear-driven protective measures do little to curtail actual risk, then these actions are doing a huge disservice to children, and by extension society as a whole. The internet is a part of contemporary public life. Engagement with technology is key to helping youth understand the world around them.

      While differences in cultural experiences may help explain some of our findings about parental concerns regarding children’s online safety issues, the results raise serious questions. Are certain parents more concerned because they have a higher level of distrust for technology? Are they bothered because they feel as though there are fewer societal protections for their children? Is it that they feel less empowered as parents? We don’t know, as very little research has looked at these issues. Still, our findings challenge policy-makers to think about the diversity of perspectives their law-making should address.

      Learn more about our findings here.

      danah boyd is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens.

      Eszter Hargittai is Delaney Family Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, where she heads the Web Use Project.

      MORE FROM SLATE
      Women Are More Likely to Care for Aging Parents—And Drop Out of the Workforce to Do It
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    • Xbox.com, other Microsoft sites hit by service disruption
      Error message indicates that the Azure-hosted sites are experiencing a DNS disruption.
    • Hackproof your Facebook account
      With over one billion people connected to Facebook, we have to assume that many of them are criminals. (Criminals are people with friends too!) But the criminals we need to be concerned about are the ones who create all kinds of scams designed to do everything from getting us to open our wallets to clicking links so we enter our personal information that lets them infect our devices.

      4DHere’s some insight as to what they may do to get access to you and your account:

      Phishing: Emails coming into your inbox right now may in fact be coming from Facebook because by default, you allow that contact in your notifications settings. The problem is that at any time, scammers can duplicate these same emails and you may never know what’s real and what’s fake.

      • Never click links in Facebook emails. Instead, simply log in via your favorites menu or use a password manager. Anything you need to do is right there in your notifications menu.
      • Turn off email notifications. Do you really need 20 emails a day telling you that someone just liked or commented on what you posted? Seriously? Go feed the homeless if you have that much time on your hands.
      • Stay out of your spam folders. Most internet service providers and email providers to a pretty good job of filtering out spam and phishing emails. But if you go into spam and start clicking away, you’ll get yourself in trouble.

      facebookInfected links: Criminals know how to get your attention to entice you to click links. They create copy that is supposed to elicit emotional responses that send you deep into their rabbit hole. This status update is a perfect example of someone who is now infected because the user probably clicked on this and is now sharing it with everyone else, just like a virus. Everything about this screams CLICK ME!

      • Don’t mindlessly click links simply because you need to know what they’re going to show you. Be conscious about scams and fraud, and know scammers are paying attention.
      • Keep your browsers up to date, as well as your antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall.

      Wireless hacks: Whenever using a free WiFi connection, there is always the possibility your device, its data and your accounts can be compromised. Free WiFi is not secure; it has no encryption, and your data is right there for criminals to sniff.

      • Set up encryption on your home or office router. At a minimum, use WPA or WPA2 encryption to secure your data.
      • Use a VPN (virtual private network) such as Hotspot Shield VPN that locks down and encrypts your wireless communications.

      Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

    • 2 Men Arrested For Giving 'Free Hugs' In Saudi Arabia
      Two men were arrested by religious state police in Saudi Arabia’s capital of Riyadh for giving “free hugs” to strangers Wednesday.

      The country’s ultra-conservative police, tasked with enforcing the government’s Sharia law, arrested the duo for engaging in “exotic practices” and seized their “free hugs” banner, according to a Huffington Post translation of Arabic language newspaper Al Hayat.

      One of the arrested, Abdulrahman al-Khayyal, posted a tweet earlier that day saying he would like to give free hugs in Tahliya, a bustling shopping street. He then took to the streets with a friend and a placard that read “free hugs,” the Independent reported. (The action is part of a social movement in which strangers offer others public embraces.)

      ان شاء الله اليوم بالتحلية #فري_هق @B_swed pic.twitter.com/E78fy1qOVz

      — BirthdayBoy#Free_hug (@DAbdualaziz) November 20, 2013

      After signing a pledge promising not to repeat the act, the two men were released. However, al-Khayyal told the Independent he would continue to give out free hugs because he saw it as an act of charity.

      The outlet points out that the 21-year-old may have been inspired by a viral YouTube video (see below) that shows a man named Bandar al-Suwaid giving free hugs to young men in the same area the day before.

      As the Agence France-Presse notes, not everyone was moved by the concept: “Today it’s one hug, tomorrow it’s a free kiss, and the next day it’ll be free sex!” one person tweeted.

    • House Committee Rejects Provision Requiring Account Of Drone Casualties
      WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee rejected a proposal on Thursday that would have required U.S. spy agencies to make an annual public accounting of the number of casualties caused by U.S. drone attacks on militants overseas.

      The Republican-controlled committee rejected the measure by a vote of 15-5, according to Patrick Boland, a spokesman for Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who had proposed it.

      Earlier this month, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is led by Democrats, approved a similar provision by a majority vote with some Republicans senators voting against it.

      The provision approved by the Senate committee – and rejected by its House counterpart – would have required U.S. agencies every year to make public totals compiled by the U.S. government of both combatant and non-combatant deaths and injuries caused by U.S. drone strikes overseas.

      The House committee also rejected language that its Senate counterpart earlier had approved with the intention of bolstering scrutiny of secret spy agency deliberations about targeting U.S. citizens or residents for lethal drone strikes overseas.

      Obama administration officials have indicated that drone operations have degraded or even decimated the ranks of al Qaeda’s core organization and proven effective against al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate.

      Administration officials also have maintained privately that the number of non-combatant civilians killed or injured in U.S. drone strikes against militants has been relatively minimal – in the low dozens. Respected human rights groups have reported much larger totals.

      The Obama administration drastically increased the number of drone strikes after it took office in 2009 but attacks have tapered off in the past year.

      Schiff argued that it would require “minimal resources” for U.S. agencies to produce an annual report of drone-related casualties and that doing so would provide a “modest but important measure of transparency and oversight.”

      Congressional Republicans privately have argued that making such casualty totals public is a bad idea because at present, U.S. drone strikes against militants overseas are largely conducted as “covert actions” under intelligence-related legal authorizations.

      Acknowledging drone strikes publicly could compromise the ability of the United States to conduct intelligence operations, they argue.

      In a statement posted on his website, Schiff said he would continue to fight for drone-related reforms as intelligence authorization legislation moves toward the House floor and, later, into a conference committee with the Senate. (Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Warren Strobel and Bill Trott)
    • Cell Phones Are Involved In 1 In 4 Car Crashes. Here's What Some States Are Doing About It.
      Distracted driving is one of the biggest threats on the road, with more than a million crashes each year involving drivers talking or texting on mobile devices. Here are the states that have passed laws to limit cell phone use while driving:


      Infographic by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post.

      Copy the code below to embed this infographic on your site:

    • A New & Improved Digital Future, Or History Redux?
      Herewith, notes from a bitter, would-be messenger.

      Like always, please ignore all typos.

      While I fully comprehend the strategic emphasis on the leveraging of social networking and viral content on the part of publishers seeking to develop and sustain a business model in a time when the medium is indeed the message — or at least the profit center, though if no one actually buys anything from those annoying ads, what is it all really worth? — at some point, the notions of “X Is King” (an ostensibly new-millennium axioma that is in reality burdened by a feudalistic presumption) keeps us from recognizing the real challenge in this (same as any other) era of hastily mis-labeling, and subsequently profiteering-slash-bubble-creating from said labels: the challenge to create. By this, I mean to say that perhaps the medium isn’t the message, and instead, the message is the message.

      This new era of tech overhaul isn’t, despite the claims of many, the first element in a dialectic of creation-through-destruction; indeed, if History — which is to say, the potentially instructive repeated cycles of human nature — is relevant at all, our new era may indeed lead to the misapplication and tragically narrow constriction of a promising technology to serve short-sighted aims, in yet anther cycle of consumption and collapse, to be followed by another pseudo-renaissance ushered on by The Next New Thing.

      Simply put, although the anointed/manufactured “King” may have a (gilded) crown, it is still a naked emperor.

      We often say that “it’s all been done” and “there is nothing new under the sun”. Yet, as I have written before, when you factor in the infinitesimal number of individuals who’ve even had the opportunity to express themselves, against the nearly infinite number of ho-hums, cast-offs, and the coldly railroaded who’ve never even tried, or tried, but didn’t try, try again (discouraged through conditioning or brutal defeat by powerful interests), the fact is, we haven’t even begun to self-express the way we could, and should, given that we are, well, planetary beings desperately in need of genus/species/eco-salvation through, well, re-aligned consciousness, and the sensible utilization of Technology’s promise.

      And so, while we might admire how are all worker-bees, we should keep in mind the real-world implications of this metaphor: bees are facing an unknown threat, possibly a virus which could lead to their demise, and this affects our own existence. Corny example, I know.

      In a more immediate forecast, our innate creativity may be dwindling, in a half-life which is increasingly accelerateted by our survival/money-making/bill-paying-fueled drive to be the first to discover viral content and profit off its distribution, and this phenomenon woefully foregoes that fact that if we are all looking for “content” to spread, rather than genuinely creating (despite our claims about “Creator Classes” which are usually entirely co-opted by guv grants, think-tanks and corporate sponsorships — often same diff) we will inevitably fail to solve the problems of our time.

      Print, Radio and TV have all been declared semi-obsolete, or at least newly subservient to hybridization, lest they fail. In reality, none of these mediums/media have been developped to their full potential, simply because the motives to either make money by dangerously unaccountable corporate entities, or the motives to control the message by those who fully understand the value of the message, and are concerned with some kind of sacred text-based presumption about our universe, have kept these media from being truly useful.

      Yet, those who know the value of these media still use them. Perhaps Newscorp didn’t buy The New York Post to save a very old, American newspaper, nor to save print; perhaps it bought The New York Post for the same reason it was founded by Alexander Hamilton, albeit, with perhaps different intentions: to, in some of its pages, control the message amongst those who still read papers: the reactionary class, via distracting gossip and manufactured outrage, as well as semiotic reinforcement of territorial/ethnic/financial biases. If The Post had power in the age when Jefferson claimed his preference — albeit theoretically — for newspapers and no government over government with no newspapers, think about the power it wields in a time and place characterized by virtually no papers, despite the occasional promise of virtual papers. The Daily News is really no better. In fact, and I say this with love for what is good (“good” being an admittedly subjective term) in the pages of any and every local daily/weekly publication in this town: they are all more or less very disappointing, either totally reactionary, or self-satisfied in their conferring of pseudo-sophistication to its readers and subscribers. Where’s I.F. Stone when you need him? I really used to enjoy the media-watch column by Doug Ireland and James Ledbetter in the pages of the long-gone Village Voice of yester-yester-year.

      Given the times we are living through, bold large-scale publishing is more important than ever, lest The Tea Party — who know how to work and fund the democratic technicalities of our government, gain Major Power. Today’s nuclear option (and Constitutional semi-tragedy) in the Senate is a very good example of how extreme things have gotten.

      It’s the same with television: “Public Access” channels are controlled by one of the most powerful monopolies we know: the cable industry. So many public access shows are religious or extreme, or both — all of which ostensibly speak to glorious 1st Amen preservation, yet they are in fact carefully controlled outlets for certain kinds of ostensibly radical free speech. Additionally, how exactly, is C-Span a gift to the American people from the cable industry? Can we not give this to ourselves, is a more powerful version of C-Span not a civic responsibility and potential instrument of real participation? I really like C-Span, and they do some good work, yet it often seems the opiate of the pseudo-concerned masses, or the pressure-control valve of the angry and confused, delivering a democratic illusion, a mirage. Perhaps we should fund C-Span with a lock-boxed tax-payer trust? Suffice to say, if we had camera-parity with our government and its processes, we might evolve from the Orwellian to something more Jeffersonian, though in reality, we are all probably too lazy. Forget whether the revolution will be televised, let’s revolutionize the television. Sadly, this sounds like nothig more than an ad slogan for a new cable channel.

      Random Notes

      I was disheartened
      when I saw an interview on PBS, in which Jaron Lanier was presumptuously asked whether it wasn’t unrealistic of him to propose that micro-payments and idea royalties could be paid to those who, for example, tweet ideas which are subsequently used for profit. What if this could be done? What if ideas were the real currency, and were used genuinely — not in order to make a killing, but instead to simply make a living? Now that would be revolutionary — or rather, more importantly, on a human scale — evolutionary.

      Does a journalist really have to have a Twitter and Facebook account to sustain a paid career writing online? Even after ongoing NSA revelations?

      Why do Google/Youtube tell credentialed journalists who film live events, that they “own nothing”, citing copyright, whilst placing ads on the very same work, and paying none of it back to the journalist who posted the work? Aren’t Google/Youtube having their cake and eating it too, whilst not paying the person who gave their time in the bakery, and also punishing the individual for use of the kitchen? Very, very corny example, I know, yet it’s fairly accurate. While I have been fortunate with copyright, and I thank many artists, promoters, managers, and publicists, it would be nice for Youtube to simply pay me part of its ad revenue.

      How come Google – which just won a landmark case on books and copyright, in a victory which they claim will help keep us all reading — insist on keeping YouTube audiences post-literate by limiting word-counts for vloggers and making the reading of any write-up accompanying a video optional, whilst burdening the space with sharing options and ads, to the exclusion of a vlogger’s writing?

      When David Lynch learned that The Elephant Man was going to make a profit, he re-wrote, re-negotiated his contracts with his crew who’d given their time, so that they could be paid for the effort they gave out of their love for being part of a production, and their need to create work which they believed to be worthwhile. This should be instructive for every media company. Is there not profit enough for all who contribute? Having said this, Lynch’s spoof of at-times bloated unions and their occasional sense of entitlement, in the absolutely brilliant Inland Empire was perfect.

      Notes on tone: this is a blog, my blog. I’m not always this bitter.

      Although “Terms of Service” are legally binding, they are still unfair, and they are unfair for a very large number of reasons, and these are reasons which, if tech companies really wanted to live up to their slogans, they would change. A “community” isn’t a community, when lawyers and shareholders have the last word, and it’s collected by the NSA. Net neutrality? It died a while ago. Sill-born, actually.

    • Briefly: ESPN's new SportsCenter app, Westfield & eBay's digital retai
      ESPN Digital Media today launched its SportsCenter app for iOS and Android, that provides sports fans a comprehensive, personalized mix of preferred ESPN content. ESPN SportsCenter is considered to be an update to ESPN’s popular ScoreCenter app.
          



    • Apple updates iOS iWork suite to 2.0.1
      Apple has released v2.0.1 updates for the iOS versions of Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. Pages and Numbers have only received minor bugfixes. Keynote, however, has also gained a series of new transitions and builds.
          



    • FCC Considers Allowing In-Flight Cellphone Calls And Everything Is Terrible
      Air travel could soon get a lot noisier.

      The U.S. Federal Communications Commission next month will consider lifting a ban on in-flight cellphone calls, the The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

      The new rule, which the FCC will consider at a December meeting, would still prohibit calls from being made during takeoff and landing, according to the WSJ. But once the plane reaches 10,000 feet, fliers would be allowed to text, surf the Internet and make phone calls — whether or not the person sitting next to them is trying to catch an hour of sleep as they head home for Thanksgiving.

      Passage of the new rule would continue a recent trend of deregulation of electronics on planes. Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration loosened restrictions on electronics in flight by no longer requiring passengers to turn off devices when the plane dipped below 10,000 feet after takeoff and before landing. Travelers cheered that change, which made flying a bit less of a bore. This one may be less welcome: You can forget reading your Kindle in peace and quiet.

      Planes, like many subway cars, offer one of the few remaining respites from constant connection in modern life. Imagine being trapped in a metal tube flying 500 mph through the air while the person sitting next to you insists on telling his aunt about his day over the phone. Or arguing with his husband. Or scolding his child. No, we don’t want to imagine it, either.

      Fortunately, the FCC’s rule would not compel airlines to allow phone calls, just give them the option. Here’s hoping there are at least a few level heads running Delta or American Airlines.

    Mobile Technology News, November 21, 2013

    As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

    • Giveaway: SnowLizard SLPower 7 portable battery charger
      Owning a smart phone or a tablet is great, but having the battery die while on the go is not so great. There are various way’s to avoid having this happen, one of them being a portable battery charger. SnowLizard’s SLPower 7 charger provides 7000mAH of power that can be used to simultaneously charge two tablets or smartphones. Electronista has one of these to give away to our readers.
          



    • Apple Finally Releases Apple Store App for iPad

      It has taken what seems like ages but Apple has finally released the Apple Store app for iPad.  And based on first impressions, it is worth the wait.  It is, as you would expect, done exceptionally well.
      The Apple Store app for iPad works in many ways like the iPhone version.  Apple has however [...]

      The post Apple Finally Releases Apple Store App for iPad appeared first on AlliOSNews.

    • 'The Chris Gethard Show' Could Go To Comedy Central, If We're Lucky
      “The Chris Gethard Show” is filming a pilot for Comedy Central.

      Comedian Chris Gethard has been hosting his variety show since 2009, first at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and then broadcast online and on public access television since 2011. He announced that the cable channel commissioned a pilot on Wednesday’s episode of the show.

      “This opportunity is not going to replace ‘TCGS,’” said Gethard in announcing the possible move from public access to cable on Wednesday’s show. “If all we ever make is a pilot, we took if further than we ever thought we would.”

      According to Deadline, Funny or Die is co-producing the Comedy Central show. Will Ferrell and sometime guest Zach Galifianakis are listed as producers alongside Gethard.

      The show would air on Fridays after “The Colbert Report.” Comedy Central has seen a new hit in that time slot Monday through Thursday with the social media game show “@Midnight,” hosted by Chris Hardwick.

      The network previously worked with Gethard, 33, on the 2010 sitcom “Big Lake,” on which the actor was a last minute replacement for lead actor Jon Heder. Since then, he has released a memoir, “A Bad Idea I’m About to Do,” which IFC commissioned to be adapted into a TV pilot starring Gethard.

      Billing itself as “the most bizarre and often saddest talk show in New York City,” “The Chris Gethard Show” has accumulated a cult following due to an eclectic group of recurring characters, Gethard’s frequent interaction with his fan base, his self-deprecating and uplifting style of comedy as well as his connections within the comedy industry. For instance, in one episode he surprised a young fan by commissioning custom videos for her by Tina Fey, Seth Meyers and other comedy luminaries.

      The show also made news in 2010 when Gethard booked Diddy as a guest by reaching out to him on Twitter and encouraging his followers to do the same.

      The last episode on public access is expected to air on December 11.

    • iPad Mini Retina is a no-show at carriers
      The iPad Mini Retina is not reaching carriers, with most back-ordered for at least a couple of weeks.
    • Next Microsoft CEO: After Thanksgiving, before Christmas?
      The absence of news about Steve Ballmer’s replacement continues but perhaps not much longer. For the rank-and-file, the word can’t come soon enough.
    • Consumer Costs of Patent Trolls
      As the number of Americans using high-tech ‘Internet ready’ products continues to grow, innovators and companies race to develop new innovative offerings that cater to this widening market. Yet, it seems that with the increase in consumer offerings comes an increase in bad actors looking to profit by limiting the availability of innovative products, tying up patents from productive use, and initiating potentially costly lawsuits in the hope of easy settlements. It is patent abuse and consumers are ultimately the victims.

      Capitol Hill, the Federal Trade Commission and the White House all seem focused on the negative effects that Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs), commonly referred to as patent trolls, have on consumers. These PAEs acquire and hold patents with no interest in producing anything and with no desire to innovate. These organizations are frequently criticized for buying up and asserting patent rights through frivolous infringement claims in the hopes of recovering hefty legal settlements from those they attack.

      One may suggest that if these infringement claims lack merit, why not just take the PAE to court and allow the judicial system sort it out? Well that may be an option for larger companies, albeit an expensive one, but smaller businesses frequently cannot afford the legal fees associated with these often very complicated intellectual property cases.

      The problem gets worse, considering that some foreign governments have gotten into the patent trolling fray. France and several Asian countries have begun to form what is being referred to as Government Sponsored Patent Trolls (GSPTs). These foreign government funded and supported trolls are buying up as many patents as they can, usually patents originating in that country, and suing foreign companies and individuals for infringement. France Brevets, for example, was funded by the government to the tune of 100 million Euros. This GSPT openly states its intention to favor French businesses “in order to leverage on French assets, the best is sometimes to complement assets of French origin with assets coming from outside France.”

      The Italy-based patent troll Sisvel was founded in 1982 to collectively patent technologies that were widely used by Italian television manufacturers like Seleco, Brionvega and Imperial. Since it’s founding Sisvel has grown into a dominant intellectual property holding behemoth, which produces nothing. Sisvel currently owns the rights to 12 separate pools and patent programs, many comprised of hundreds of patents per pool. One important differentiation between Sisvel and its patent troll peers is the length it is willing to go to push its infringement accusations.

      If a foreign government subsidizes its domestic manufacturers, it would be regarded as an unfair trade practice. How is it different when a foreign government subsidizing trolling to impose costs on international competitors? There is no difference.

      The business of patent trolls prospers because even the most frivolous of suits are usually cheaper to settle than the high costs of a lengthy court battle. That means that GSPTs, and patent trolls in general, have a stranglehold over innovation, they transfer wealth from productive activities to unproductive ones. That costs American jobs.

      However, in the end, this means higher costs for consumers. These consumers are completely unaware of the impact that research and development costs can have on the price they pay for their new laptop, e-reader, smartphone, and gaming console. Indeed, it is unlikely that Grandma Flo spends much time thinking about the portfolio of intellectual property that was licensed to make certain she can view family photos. Yet, patents are a key to innovation and production; patent hoarding stifles innovation.

      Hopefully, as Congress looks for a solution to the patent trolling issue, they don’t forget important policy objectives surrounding innovation, productivity, economic growth and consumer welfare. Patent trolls advance none of these objectives.

      Steve Pociask is president of The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, a nonprofit educational and research institute. For more information about the Institute, visit www.theamericanconsumer.org.

    • Review: Nokia Lumia 1020 AT&T 4G LTE 41MP Camera With Windows Phone 8
      Nokia Lumia 1020 Camera ViewThere is an arms race in high-end, fully featured smartphones and Nokia is rolling out its big guns. The Lumia 1020 with a best-in-class 41-megapixel camera is Nokia’s wakeup call to all smartphone manufacturers, including Apple. Smartphones are no longer judged solely on how many processor cores, internal storage space or screen size they have. With mobile photography exploding and Instagram selling for $1,000,000,000, the size of the aperture and pixels, lens quality and amount of megapixels matter more now to than ever.

      Overview

      The Lumia 1020 is certainly not Nokia’s first foray into super megapixel mobile photography, but it is its best shot so far. Coupled with Windows Phone 8 Amber and specially developed Nokia photography apps, this smartphone and camera combo device gets people talking every time I use it.

      At four and a half inches with Gorilla Glass 3, its screen is larger than the iPhone 5S and has ClearBlack plus AMOLED technology. During use in bright sunlight and in completely dark rooms, the Lumia’s screen had no problem performing well enough in both situations.

      Microsoft Nokia Lumia 1020 Unboxing

      AMOLED screens use less energy while simultaneously providing a nice contrast bump when viewing websites and photos. The photos that the Nokia 1020 produce are visually richer than photos from an iPhone 4S and are closer to those from a Samsung S4. Even in low light, the Xenon flash was able to take photos with accurate color reproduction and few hot spots.

      Las Vegas Skyline Nokia Lumia 1020
      Las Vegas Skyline

      The 41MP PureView camera technology with ZEISS optics is also able to take panoramic photos with the aptly named Nokia Panorama app. This smartphone comes with a range of other photography related apps such as the Nokia Creative Studio and Nokia Smart Cam. The forward facing “selfie” camera has a resolution of 1280×960, an aperture of f/2.4 with a wide-angle lens that’s able to record video and do video calls. During the course of my extended testing, Nokia updated its pre-installed software for use with the camera multiple times. Each time the software gained interface refinements and speed.

      Pumpkin Patch Nokia Lumia 1020Pumpkin Patch

      Switching in between camera modes, settings and the video record option never resulted in a crash. There were several times I used the camera for extended periods of time to record HD video and then rapidly switched to a photo mode with ease. Once it locks onto an object, the optical image stabilization takes over nicely. Single photos take a moment for light metering and focus. To take snapshots of moving objects, the burst image function that takes 10 photos rapidly works best.

      The hardware at the core of this smartphone includes 32GB of internal storage, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of ram, a 2,000 mAh sealed battery, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n with channel bonding and a screen with better than Retina pixel density of 334 ppi. For comparison, the pixel density of Apple’s iPhone 5S Retina screen has 326 ppi. A SkyDrive account is required to download apps from the Microsoft Store and it comes with 7GB of free online storage after signing up. The SkyDrive account also backs up contacts, settings and photos where enabled.

      Nokia Beamer Hands-on Demo at Nokia World 2013 By Bill Cody @VegasBiLL

      This smartphone has a finite amount of storage space and is a little top heavy to hold because of the large lens and flash system. To help balance the weight and increase its available power, Nokia has engineered a camera grip. I wasn’t able to test the grip, however it comes with a 1020 mAh internal lithium ion battery that extends shooting time by up to an extra 55 minutes. Other nice features of the grip are a tripod mount and two-stage photo button.

      App Social For Windows Phone 8 Social App Store Overview at Nokia World 2013 By Bill Cody @VegasBiLL

      Many of the best apps are now available for this system built around a top of the line 41-megapixel sensor. I would choose the Lumia 1020 as my next smartphone. Microsoft has invested billions to buy Nokia’s mobile business and that means even more innovations for software and hardware are yet to come.

      Conclusion

      The Microsoft Nokia Lumia 1020 pleasantly surprised me in the clarity of photos produced from its 41 MP camera, the speed of its AT&T 4G LTE connection reaching up to 43 Mbps down, clear calls even in rural areas and for how many times its bundled software was updated. Apps and developers are crucial to the success of any mobile system. Luckily most of the best apps are finally available with even more planned for release soon. The camera grip is priced around $60 and the smartphone goes for about $600 off contract, $199 in-store or $99 online from AT&T on contract.

      Pros:

      • Top apps are finally available
      • 41-megapixel sensor, “lossless zoom” and optical image stabilization
      • 32GB of space and 2GB of ram help to keep functions smooth
      • DSLR-like professional manual camera mode

      Cons:

      • Non removable internal battery
      • No microSD card slot
      • Many apps not yet available
      • Gets warm with hours of extended continual use

      Microsoft has taken steps to bring hardware and software development for the Nokia brand in-house. This means that features and software for them should increase, while development time decreases.

      *4G LTE service for testing was provided by AT&T. The first photo is courtesy of Nokia. This review has been written in an objective and unbiased fashion.

    • Hubris, thy name is 'Scroogled'
      Microsoft breathes new fire into the life of Scroogled, its anti-Google campaign, with a line of products that burn Google for treating your data the same way Microsoft does.
    • A Big Piece Of Sarah Palin History Is Up For Grabs On eBay
      ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Sarah Palin’s hometown is auctioning an SUV she drove when she was mayor, years before she skyrocketed to fame.

      The small town of Wasilla, Alaska, listed the 1999 Ford Expedition on eBay Monday with a minimum bid of $10,000. The listing’s photo shows the tan SUV with a cardboard cutout of Palin in the driver’s seat. Public Works Director Archie Giddings says the hope is someone finds historic value in the vehicle because Palin drove it.

      No bids had been submitted as of Wednesday afternoon. The listing expires Nov. 27 at midnight Alaska Standard Time.

      Palin drove the vehicle during her second term as mayor, ending in October 2002.

      She went on to become Alaska’s governor until Republican presidential nominee John McCain picked Palin to be his running mate in 2008 and she resigned her state office.

      ___

      Online:

      eBay listing: http://is.gd/UDZtrw

    • New iCitizen App Brings Politics To Your Smartphone
      WASHINGTON — Whether it’s President Barack Obama’s famous declaration that “change only comes from the outside,” or House Speaker John Boehner’s insistence that his chamber is working for the “will of the people,” leaders from both parties invoke what the American public wants to push their agendas.

      But most constituents can’t even identify their representatives, let alone keep track of the myriad issues in Washington. iCitizen, a new mobile app launched nationwide Tuesday, hopes to change that.

      The app aims to boost civic engagement by letting users follow issues, get to know their lawmakers, and participate in polling. The goal, according to CEO Rod Massey, is to make politics as easy to access as looking up a restaurant, directions or movie times.

      “The fundamental goal that really drove the formation [of iCitizen] is this concept that most people really only have a voice during the election cycle, so every two to four years,” Massey told The Huffington Post in an interview. “In between those election cycles you really don’t have the ability to have an impact.”

      He added that iCitizen was designed to help people “be engaged in politics in a meaningful way” while managing their careers and families.

      The app, which is currently available for iPhone, but being developed for the iPad and Android, is simple enough to navigate with tabs for three main areas: Issues, Reps, and Polls. Users sign up, then choose from 18 different issues, including the budget, women’s rights and gun control, in order to get customized news from a variety of media outlets. They can also look up bills introduced in Congress related to each issue.

      The Reps section allows users to navigate the faces of Congress, as well as state lawmakers, and includes lawmakers’ recent votes, campaign contributions, committees and sponsored bills. There is also contact information for each, as well as his or her Twitter handle and Facebook page.

      Poll questions are mostly on current news. One asked if Obamacare was working in your state, while another tried to gauge support for a Senate bill that would end workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act).

      Asked how his team curates news from across the country, Massey said iCitizen brings together as many different sources as possible. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell (D) are on an advisory board that offers input from both sides of the aisle.

      “We’re trying to be Switzerland here, so neutral, fact-based and offer multiple perspectives, both from liberal-leaning and conservative-leaning sources, and those that might be in the middle,” he said.

      The app’s success will depend in part on whether lawmakers and their offices use feedback from the platform. Massey said his team met with different members of Congress to brief them and their staffs on how iCitizen could benefit them. He roped in his home-state members, Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R) and Jim Cooper (D), to speak at the product’s launch at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington Tuesday.

      Users also can let their representatives know where they stand, by rating them on a scale of 1 to 5.

      “We want to make sure that this is a win-win for both citizens and constituents, and for elected officials,” Massey said. He added that smartphone technology creates a “tremendous opportunity … that simply wouldn’t have been possible five years ago.”

      The team behind iCitizen isn’t the first to look at politics and say, “there should be an app for that.” Attempts include ‘Congress,’ an app that lets users look up congressional lawmakers, and ’2nd Vote’, which provides insight into how liberal or conservative companies are.

      But iCitizen provides direct engagement, and appears to have the most comprehensive database for a politics app. For a society that’s constantly buried in smartphones, and increasingly reliant on having information at its fingertips, that could be iCitizen’s secret to success.

    • Making Televisions in America and Watching "I Love Lucy:" Apple, Samsung, and Judge Lucy Koh
      In the Apple v. Samsung patent trial, the lawyers have suddenly started arguing about race. An attorney for the former made a reference in his closing statement to domestic manufacturing. He explained that when he was growing up, he watched television on an American set but now there aren’t anymore being made here. In arguing for a high award of damages, he suggested that “our economy will disappear” if we don’t protect intellectual property.

      The defense team requested a mistrial.

      United States District Judge Lucy Koh denied the motion. She did call the jury back into the courtroom to instruct them on the importance of setting aside their prejudices.

      She was right. This isn’t a racial assertion. It may well be a nationalist one.

      But the difference is crucial.

      (By way of disclosure, I am writing on one of several Apple computers I own; I also have owned multiple Samsung products. Two decades ago, I worked at the law firm that represents Apple. I consider Judge Koh a friend.)

      If Apple had said, rule against Samsung because their products are made by Asians, while our products are made by Caucasians, that would be troubling and potentially the basis for greater judicial intervention. Or if Apple had said, yellow people will benefit if Samsung wins and white people will benefit if Apple wins, that would be about as clear as possible.

      The difference between those statements and what Apple’s attorney actually said, however, is all the difference in the world. Aside from which, it happens to be true that there are no more television sets being made in the United States (except an upstart company trying to make a go of it outside Detroit of all places — the exemplar of American industrial rise and fall). The difference is that the statement was about where something is built, not about who builds it.

      As it happens, Apple also manufactures in Asia. Moreover, the high-tech light industry that is carried out in America often is staffed by Asian immigrants: the R&D has long been done by Asian engineers, and the assembly in clean rooms by Asian technicians.

      Whether the decision makers are aware of this racial background, the dispute between these tech giants has had an implicit nationalist bent from the beginning.

      Judge Koh herself shows how it’s impossible to draw lines that map race and nationalism as if they were the same. She is an immigrant. She gives a wonderful personal speech about her late grandmother and how she came to be “Lucy.” Having come from Korea, she assimilated as many children do: she watched American television. Her favorite show, which she watched with her grandmother, was “I Love Lucy,” with Lucille Ball. There is an even funnier epilogue to the story in which she explains her crush on Ball’s husband, Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz — the Judge herself married a Latino, though she explains her disappointment at his lack of musical leadership talent.

      There is a different argument Samsung might still make. Perhaps it would be more successful. The more accurate claim is not that Apple is appealing to race but that their lawyers are appealing to nationalism. Yet the openness of America to people of all backgrounds, combined with its insistence on rule of law applicable to everyone, is exactly what has made it so prosperous.

    • Samsung files motion to stop damages retrial based on USPTO comment
      In a last-ditch effort to stop the jury deliberation of the now concluded Apple versus Samsung damages retrial, Samsung has made an emergency filing based on a comment from the US Patent and Trademark Office said that an Apple patent may not be valid. According to the filing, the USPTO questions if Apple’s "pinch to zoom" patent may be valid. Samsung believes that "this PTO decision calls into question the entire jury verdict in this trial."
          



    • #BBUM Hashtag Sparks Dialogue About Diversity At The University Of Michigan
      Students at the University of Michigan are igniting a dynamic dialogue about race and specifically what it means to be black at a predominantly white university.

      After Theta Xi, a fraternity at University Of Michigan thought it was a good idea to throw a “Hood Ratchet Thursday” party invoking cultural stereotypes, black students were inspired to take action.

      The hashtag #BBUM was launched at 11 a.m. on Tuesday by the Black Student Union asking students to share their “unique experiences of being black at Michigan.” On social media, students were encouraged to post both positive and negative experiences, although a majority of the posts shared are negative.

      “The hope is to make the university more aware of what black students go through,” said University of Michigan student and BSU speaker Tyrell Collier.

      The hashtag has taken off, trending on twitter and receiving national attention.

      “I don’t think this is a problem specific to the university, I think it’s an experience that black students at predominantly white universities across the nation are facing,” Collier said to the Michigan Daily in an article about the campaign.

      Conversations like this are not isolated to the University of Michigan. A video from students at UCLA recently went viral, and sparked national interest and conversation about diversity on college campuses after shining light on the fact that the school has more championships than black male freshmen.

      And as the courts reconsider the affirmative action ban in Michigan,
      black students enrolled in the freshman class reportedly dropped from 4.6 percent to 4.1 percent.

      Meanwhile, the conversation about race, and diversity and what it means to be black at the University of Michigan is ongoing. The black student union is also inviting students to share their experiences in written form on a posting wall on campus covered in black paper.

      Although a formal response from the university hasn’t been issued yet, the school tweeted that they are listening:

      Thanks for engaging in this conversation. We’re listening, and will be sure all of your voices are heard. #BBUM

      — UniversityofMichigan (@umich) November 19, 2013

      Check out some examples of #BBUM posts:

      Smiling at people of a different race and they look away #BBUM

      — Brie Milan Starks (@Brie_Milan) November 20, 2013

      #BBUM says differently… “@umich: By the numbers, #AnnArbor and #UMich prove to be Leaders & Best! #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/qjX8WhQzmZ

      — ! (@NoChillNell) November 19, 2013

      #BBUM means that crossing the stage to get a diploma is us carrying our cross.

      — Teumessian Fox. (@MightyJacYoung) November 20, 2013

      Having to explain how the University is not diverse #BBUM

      — Brie Milan Starks (@Brie_Milan) November 20, 2013

      #BBUM being the only black person in class, and having other races look at you to be the spokesperson whenever black history is brought up.

      — Terra (@_myPrivateJET) November 19, 2013

      Having to defend your oppression to someone who is willing to argue but refuses to listen. #BBUM

      — The Real Kay ✊ (@_kaayyyy) November 20, 2013

      "Oh you’re a different kind of black.. You’re not like them" #BBUM

      — Tiara (@Tiaraevelynn) November 19, 2013

      #BBUM All the white students wondering why all the black students sit together in the Bursley cafeteria

      — Jazzy F Baby (@PecanJazz) November 20, 2013

      Im black and I go to U of M… I MUST be from Detroit #BBUM

      — Love&Basketball (@AshWillieWillis) November 20, 2013

      Culture mocked, individually overlooked…. but we remain steadfast. We can and will succeed #bbum

      — Dominique =) (@akaDesinique) November 20, 2013

      Not all of my #BBUM experiences have been negative.

      — Krystal Kymberlie (@LOVElyLegaZy) November 20, 2013

    • Google Street View And Parks Canada Team Up For Virtual Tours (PHOTOS)
      If you’re searching for a way to see Canada without leaving your desk, Google has the answer.

      The search engine giant has partnered with Parks Canada to offer virtual tours of 86 parks and historic sites spread across the Great White North. Powering the new collection of tours is the same technology behind Google’s Street View maps and the work of three teams spread across Western, Central and Eastern Canada.

      Virtual maps of Banff National Park, the Rideau Canal and even the L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site are now online and free to explore. It’s the culmination of six months of work Google employees armed with Street View cars and Trekker backpackers — think giant knapsacks with a 360-degree camera jutting out from the top — have compiled.

      15 places Google wants you to see. Story continues after the gallery:

      It’s also a way to bring online a collection of Canadian destinations, according to Aaron Brindle, a spokesperson with Google.

      “As a Canadian, I found we didn’t have any images of Parks Canada that administer some of the country’s most iconic imagery,” Brindle told The Huffington Post Canada.

      “My dad’s British and he came to Canada in the ‘60s. When he arrived, he had this postcard of Lake Louis with this amazing artist’s rendering of the lake and the hotel. Some might say it’s a stereotype but it exists for a reason.”

      So far, the collection features a mixture of locations ubiquitous with Canada, like Yoho National Park and the Fortress of Louisbourg, as well as lesser-known destinations like Cabot Tower or the Cave and Basin in Alberta.

      Earlier, Google succeeded in mapping the House of Commons as well as Canada’s Arctic community. South of the border, the company has done the same with the U.S. National Park Services to bring tours of America’s national monuments and parks.

      But there’s more to come, according to Brindle.

      “It’s a big project and it’s not finished by any means.” Brindle says the mapping will resume in the summer to give the virtual tours consistency in their images. Google hopes to virtually document 120 parks and historic sites by 2014.

      “Work in Canada is never done. It’s a vast country. We have work to do. There are so amazing places that we have yet to capture.”

      With files from the Canadian Press

      Like this article? Follow us on Twitter
      Follow @HPCaTravel

    • Kanye Blasts Zappos For Selling A 'Shit Product,' Company Responds In The Best Way
      First Taylor Swift, then Obama, now a beloved online retailer. Why does Kanye feel the need to attack everything America holds dear?

      On Monday, West started a thing with Zappos, the online mega shoe store (owned by Amazon.com) that is known for having incredible customer service.

      “I got into this giant argument with the head of Zappos that he’s trying to tell me what I need to focus on,” West says on writer Bret Easton Ellis’s podcast, released on Monday. “Meanwhile, he sells all this shit product to everybody, his whole thing is based off of selling shit product,” he says.

      We’re neither the first nor the last to say it, but it has to be said: Calm down, Kanye.

      Just after we published this Zappos responded to West in the greatest way possible, posting the following on its Facebook page:

      And yes, the link works. It takes you to this page for a “Shit Product”:

      kanye west zappos

      kanye west zappos
      That link goes to the E! story about West’s comments.

      kanye west zappos

      Touché, Zappos.

      Rapper West is obsessed with fashion, and aspires to be a big designer, so it’s not surprising that he would have an opinion about Zappos.

      What is surprising is that West would attack such an innocuous company. Zappos sells tens of thousands of different types of shoes and clothing items, all with free shipping and free returns. Zappos is also regularly listed as one of the best places to work in the U.S.

      [h/t ValleyWag]

    • If You Think You're #Blessed, You Might Want To Take A Step Back Before Murdering Someone
      Moral of the the sketch: No matter how hard you try to achieve inner peace, there’s a good chance the voice in your head that wants to destroy anything and everything in your way will ultimately win out.

    • Wireless Carriers Block Simple Solution To Phone Theft To Protect Profits, Prosecutor Says
      As cell phone robberies have soared nationwide, phone companies have found a lucrative side business offering insurance to customers who are anxious their devices may be lost or stolen.

      The top four wireless carriers will earn more than $7.8 billion this year in insurance premiums from their customers, according to an estimate by Warranty Week, an industry trade publication. Asurion, a phone insurance company that pays the wireless carriers for each policy they sell, made an estimated $98 million in profit in 2010, according to Businessweek.

      “If you do the math, the phone companies are making out like bandits,” said Richard Doherty, a director for Envisioneering Group, a market research firm.

      Now, a top prosecutor is claiming that phone companies looking to preserve their profits from selling phone insurance are standing in the way of a solution that could protect consumers from violent robberies.

      San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Tuesday that he had obtained emails showing how phone companies are blocking the introduction of a so-called kill switch that would render phones inoperable if stolen. The feature could undercut the value of gadgets now trading on a global black market, leading to a sharp reduction in thefts.

      “These emails suggest that the carriers are rejecting a technological solution so they can continue to shake down their customers for billions of dollars in insurance premiums,” Gascón said in a statement. “I’m incensed. … This is a solution that has the potential to end the victimization of their customers.”

      About 1.6 million Americans had their phones stolen last year, and about 40 percent of robberies in major U.S. cities involve mobile devices. Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have demanded that manufacturers create new smartphone technology to make the devices less attractive to thieves. In response, Apple and Samsung introduced new features this summer that they said would render stolen devices useless.

      CTIA, the industry group that represents wireless carriers, did not respond directly to Gascón’s comments. But the group has said that a kill switch would not effectively combat smartphone crime since the technology could be vulnerable to hackers.

      Phone companies have “worked hard over the last year to help law enforcement with its stolen phone problem,” the CTIA said in a statement, citing a new database of phone serial numbers being shared among carriers. Wireless companies agreed last year to share serial numbers after facing pressure from the Federal Communications Commission and police chiefs around the country to reduce cell phone thefts.

      But the database has not stopped the flow of stolen phones being shipped overseas, underscoring the need for technology that can disable devices anywhere in the world, law enforcement officials say.

      On its website, Asurion, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., says it works with carriers “to provide the most comprehensive protection plans at a low monthly cost.” The company did not respond to a request for comment.

      But in a recent blog post, the company noted that new measures being introduced to reduce thefts, such as a kill switch, wouldn’t eliminate the market for cell phone insurance. Without it, consumers will have “hundreds of dollars in replacement costs looming overhead.”

      Phone insurance plans typically cost between $7 and $11 per month, and require consumers to pay deductibles as high as $200 for a replacement phone. These are often refurbished used phones, not new ones, and Asurion doesn’t guarantee customers will receive the same model as the one they lost.

      Some have noted that they can find used replacement phones on sites like Craigslist for about the same price as the insurance deductible, and without having to pay monthly premiums.

      “The plans are expensive and not really worth it for consumers,” said Mike Gikas, who covers electronics for Consumer Reports.

    • I'm the One Who Ruined Facebook with All These Pictures of My Kids
      Written by Jen Simon for Kveller.com

      It took me a long time to admit it, but I’m the person everyone has been talking about. I’m the person who uses Facebook as a world-wide picture sharing site, a 21st century baby brag book. It’s me; I’ve “ruined” Facebook for the cool kids.

      I wasn’t always this type of person. In fact, before I turned into me, I used to hate people like me. You know the people I’m talking about: the kind of people who post funny things their kids say (or things they think are funny), share anecdotes from playdates or statistics from doctors’ visits; the kind of people who (gasp) use their kids as their profile picture. You’re not your child, I would silently fume as I would see yet another one of my friends fall victim to the rampant child-picture-appropriation on Facebook. Your child is not your identity! Your role as a parent doesn’t solely define you! I would swear that I would be different — I would still be ME (as signified by the oh-so-telling Facebook profile picture). And yet, as soon as my baby was born and was big enough to wear a hat with ears — bam, he was my profile picture. I mean, come on, how could I resist? He was wearing a hat. With ears!

      So how, after consciously trying not to, did I turn into this person? Read the rest of this entry »

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