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Mobile Technology News, December 31, 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.

  • 'Selfie,' 'Twerk' And 'Hashtag' Top Annual Most Annoying Word List
    DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan university has issued its annual list of annoying words, and those flexible enough to take selfies of themselves twerking should take note.

    In addition to “selfie” and “twerking,” there was a strong sense among those who nominated words to this year’s list that the word “hashtag” and term “Mr. Mom” had both run their course. “Selfie,” a term that describes a self-taken photo, often from a smartphone, led the way among the more than 2,000 nominations submitted to Lake Superior State University’s 39th annual batch of words to banish due to overuse, overreliance and overall fatigue. Even President Barack Obama got into the act this month when he took a well-publicized selfie with other world leaders in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

    “It’s a lame word. It’s all about me, me, me,” wrote David Kriege of Lake Mills, Wis. “Put the smartphone away. Nobody cares about you.”

    Since 1975, the list has grown to more than 800 words, many from the worlds of politics, sports and popular — maybe too popular — culture.

    “The list is made up completely from nominations. We don’t just sit around and think of words that bug us,” said Tom Pink, a spokesman for the school in Sault Ste. Marie, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

    “Twerk” or “twerking,” a sexually provocative way of dancing, found a dominant place in parlance due to Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.

    “Time to dance this one off the stage,” said Jim Connelly, of Flagstaff, Ariz.

    “Hashtag” refers to a word or phrase with no spaces preceded by the pound sign on the microblogging website Twitter.

    Others on the banned list include “Twittersphere,” ”t-bone,” ”Obamacare” ”intellectually/morally bankrupt” and anything “on steroids.” People also tired of the suffixes “-pocalypse” and “-ageddon” used to make words such as “snow-pocalypse” or “ice-ageddon.”

    And enough already with “Mr. Mom,” a reference to fathers who take care of kids. It’s also the name of a 1983 movie starring Michael Keaton, although many stay-at-home dads these days don’t like the movie stereotype of a clueless male.

    “There were almost as many nominations for ‘Mr. Mom’ as ‘selfie’ and ‘twerk,’” Pink said.

    He believes the title got traction again in 2013 due to news stories about the 30th anniversary of the movie.

    “The phrase should refer only to the film, not to men in the real world,” wrote Pat Byrnes of Chicago. “It is an insult to the millions of dads who are the primary caregivers for their children. Would we tolerate calling working women, ‘Mrs. Dad?’”

    “Adversity” and “fan base” — terms often used when discussing sports — got booed. Kyle Melton, of White Lake, Mich., said perspective is needed when referring to a millionaire athlete trying to get a first down in football.

    “Facing adversity is working 50 hours a week and still struggling to feed your kids,” Melton wrote.

    ___

    Online:

    http://www.lssu.edu/banished/

    ___

    Follow Ed White on Twitter at https://twitter.com/edwhiteap .

  • Sony troubles persist: Factories said to be target of staff cuts
    Sony is trying to make its consumer electronics business profitable. And that appears to require more cuts at production facilities.
  • 'Gift tweets' reveal overwhelming popularity of iPad, iPhone
    As is usually done after the holidays, a survey of tweets bragging that someone “got an iPad” or “Got a Kindle” on Twitter has shown yet again that iOS devices are in a class by themselves when it comes to owner pride or excitement — and provides yet another real-world indicator that end-user sales of competing devices may not match up with “shipments” reports. A test by Topsy Analytics found that iOS devices still have no real rivals.
        



  • HP adds another 5,000 jobs to layoff plan for 34,000 total
    Computer giant is increasing the number of positions it expects to eliminate as part of a years-long turnaround plan.
  • Briefly: FitBit adds MobileTrack, new Python Mac charger protector
    FitBit has announced an update to its iOS fitness app, released today in the App Store. FitBit allows users to monitor their exercise activity with their iPhone, track their stats and set fitness goals. Version 2.1 of FitBit features MobileTrack, which utilizes the M7 coprocessor in the iPhone 5s to track basic activity as it occurs.
        



  • First Sex Doll Launched Into Space And Floats Until She Blows.. Up
    It’s happened. We finally launched a sex toy into the final frontier. Go America?

    The inflatable sex doll named Missy was launched near Lake Tahoe, Calif., by one of the worlds largest distributors of adult products, CNV.com Inc.

    With the help of a hydrogen filled 4.5 pound balloon, the doll climbed over 100,000 feet above earth at a rate of 1,400 feet per minute. Apparently sex dolls can endure a lot, because Missy’s hot bod held up to extreme temperatures, air pressure and cosmic ray radiation.

    These sex toy makers aren’t f****** around.

    Missy’s material didn’t even deteriorate when temperatures got as low as -70 degrees Fahrenheit, or when she traveled against jet stream winds over 100 miles per hour.

    Cosmic ray radiation was around 100 times its earthly strength, and the atmospheric pressure was less than one percent of the earth’s atmosphere. Missy still held together without bursting… with pleasure.

    In the video description CNV owner, Dave Levine, says, “We modified the air plug on the back so that it equalized with outside pressure throughout the flight. The doll was just filled with air, but enough was allowed to vent during the course of the flight so as to prevent explosion.”

    It wasn’t until Missy’s helium balloon (cherry) popped at 102,000 that she began to fall to earth, and be ripped to shreds by the atmosphere somewhere over the Nevada desert. We guess she found her G… force.

    C’est la vie.

    One small step for sex dolls. One giant step for… sex dolls.

  • Moshi Monsters boss honoured
    Michael Acton Smith, founder of the firm behind Moshi Monsters, and Warren East, ex-chief executive of chip designer ARM, are named in the New Year’s Honours List.
  • ACLU Sues NSA For Details Of U.S. Surveillance Under Executive Order
    By Nate Raymond
    NEW YORK, Dec 30 (Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to force the U.S. government to disclose details of its foreign electronic surveillance program and what protections it provides to Americans whose communications are swept up.
    The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New York, came three days after the ACLU lost a bid to block a separate program that collects the phone calls of millions of Americans.
    The latest lawsuit seeks information related to the use of Executive Order 12333, which was signed in 1981 and governs surveillance of foreign targets.
    Under the order, the National Security Administration is collecting “vast quantities” of data globally under the order’s authority, “inevitably” including communications of U.S. citizens, the lawsuit said.
    The lawsuit cites “recent revelations,” an apparent reference to reports about U.S. spying activities in the wake of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
    “This FOIA request seeks, in part, to determine what protections are afforded to those U.S. persons and whether those protections are consistent with the Constitution,” it said.
    A representative for the Justice Department, which will defend the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    The lawsuit follows a series of requests to U.S. agencies for the information under the Freedom of Information Act, which it said have not resulted in substantive responses.
    Alex Abdo, an ACLU staff attorney, said in a blog post that the government was using the order as a way to spy on the international communication of U.S. citizens.
    “The core of the problem is that the NSA has, for years, relied upon its authority to gather foreign intelligence as permission to conduct sweeping surveillance of Americans’ international communications,” Abdo wrote.
    The lawsuit cites news reports indicating that under the order, the NSA is collecting data on cell phone locations and email contact lists, as well as information from Google Inc and Yahoo! Inc user accounts.
    Among the records sought by the ACLU are any construing or interpreting the scope of agencies’ authority under the executive order.
    It also seeks records describing minimization procedures used by the agencies related to intelligence collection and interpretation pursuant to the order.
    The lawsuit names as defendants the NSA, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Department, Justice Department and State Department.
    The case is American Civil Liberties Union et al v. National Security Agency et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-9198.
  • NSA Uses Windows Error Messages To Spy On People
    Usually an annoying popup brushed aside with a click, error messages on Microsoft’s Windows operating system may also serve as a way for the National Security Agency to spy on you.

    When a Windows program seizes up, someone using a PC can choose to send an error report to Microsoft for review. But Windows owners may inadvertently be sending those error reports to the NSA too, according to a report on Sunday by German magazine Der Spiegel detailing the work of the Tailored Access Operations division of the NSA, which is considered the agency’s top hacking unit. The revelations come from the latest document leaks of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

    An NSA presentation obtained by Der Spiegel noted that the crash reports are a “neat way” to gain “passive access” to a machine. The team can use the NSA’s massively powerful sleuthing software to cherry-pick error reports from the global stream of Internet traffic. Only data sent from a computer can be collected this way, but it can give the NSA something crucial for further hacking: the vulnerabilities of a target’s computer.

    One internal graphic suggests NSA agents mocked how easy the Windows error messages made their jobs:

    asd

    asd

    Like other tech companies, Microsoft has been in a tough position since Snowden’s leaks began. A report from The Guardian in July found that the company may have handed the NSA access to the customers’ encrypted messages and data. In recent months, Microsoft has attempted to assuage fears of government surveillance by fighting against any attempt by U.S. intelligence agencies to seize its foreign customers’ data under American surveillance laws.

    “Microsoft does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customer’s data,” a Microsoft representative said in response to the latest allegations. “We would have significant concerns if the allegations about government actions are true.”

  • Meet The People Who Think America Is 2014 Years Old
    Ah, the good ol’ U. S. of A. Land of the free, home of the uninformed.

    According to Twitter, more than a few people believe that the United States was formed 2014 years ago, and that New Year’s Day is America’s birthday. There is so much about this idea that doesn’t make sense. If New Year’s is America’s birthday, is it a different year in different countries? Did you never take any history class or speak to another human being?

    Maybe some of these people are joking. PLEASE let them be joking.

    America isn’t even 2014 years old guys, you didn’t take lap years and daylight savings into consideration. It’s already 2021 years old.

    — chris (@ChrisDoublesky) December 30, 2013

    It is crazy to me that in a couple days America will be 2014 years old!!!!! WOW

    — andrew madison (@b0ner_soup) December 30, 2013

    How is America already 2014 years old #wow

    — Kyle (@KyleDrapikowski) December 30, 2013

    wow I can’t believe America is turning 2014 years old soon

    — r. kelly (@MattBengtson) December 24, 2013

    Wait is America 2014 years old? Like that is a deep question.

    — Ashlyn Powers (@AshlynReneeP) December 30, 2013

    Hard to believe that it’s almost here. America is gonna be 2014 years old. Think about that for a minute. That’s SUPER old, guys.

    — J.Lu (@JRLu) December 30, 2013

    Wow! Can’t believe America is nearly 2014 years old! #happybirthday #landofthefree #homeofthebrave

    — Mister Cowley (@MisterCowley) December 28, 2013

    I can’t believe in a week America is turn 2014 years old! Yay us!

    — Arthur Elkind (@arthurelkind) December 23, 2013

    Not only that, but many people also think that the Earth is turning 2014 years old for some reason.

    4 DAYS UNTILL THE EARTH IS 2014 YEARS OLD !!!! pic.twitter.com/KX2Y8k6Edf

    — Psycho Prince (@CharlieThomas_) December 28, 2013

    Can’t believe the Earth is almost 2014 years old.

    — Older Freezy (@jfrebe) December 25, 2013

    Earth is almost 2014 years old wow.

    — Carlos (@hoesanddrugs) December 25, 2013

    can you believe in just 6 days the earth will be 2014 years old!!

    — Brandon :^) (@canihashtagthis) December 26, 2013

    9 days from now, Earth will turn 2014 years old. Happy 2014th birthday, Earth!

    — WOOOOOOOOO 2014 (@FWBluesFan) December 23, 2013

    Save us.

  • Somebody Brought Emoji To Life, And They're Awesome
    It’s a stretch to say that the emoji you text your friends are high art. But the real-life recreations of those same smiley faces? That’s a different story.

    “They’re really quite stupid,” Liza Nelson wrote of emoji on her website. “And they’re the best thing that ever happened to our generation. They deserve to be observed and worshipped individually.” So the Los Angeles-based artist reenacted some of her favorite Japanese emoticons with papier mâché, cardboard, paint and a few living humans.

    Others have found artistic inspiration in emoji as well. Earlier this year, artists Luciel Perte and Noah Spidermen created a video of a swirling kaleidoscope of emoji, narrated by Siri describing the different images. Another artist, Carla Gannis, covered an image of the “Garden of Earthly Delights” by 16th century painter Hieronymus Bosch with emoji of all shapes and sizes. And earlier in December, Fito Segrera presented a performance piece in which muscle simulators contorted his face into the shape of some of the better known icons.

    Here are some of Nelson’s pieces:

    ALL WET
    all wet

    DRUGS
    drugs

    GODDESS
    goddess

    MURDERBALL
    murderball

    MUSTACHE
    mustache

    POUND IT
    pound it

    PRAISIN
    praisin

    THAT PURP
    that purp

    WHO, ME?
    who me

    YUSSS
    yusss

    [h/t Wired]

  • A.I. Sex: It's Complicated, Too (NSFW)
    The runaway success of Spike Jonze’s new movie Her owes much to its already over-analyzed single sex scene — virtual, of course. The subsequent effusion of articles about interactive sex experiences concentrates on the technical stuff that can assist in creating “the closest thing to the real thing” — while forgoing all the drama, uncertainty and messiness in having to deal with an actual sex partner: How to find him/her? How to try for the serendipitous occurrence of mutual desires and appetites? What to do afterwards?

    The hi-tech gizmos already in play are multiple and diverse, and all grounded in the basic assumption that any encounter that seeks to be intimate has to be both visual (hence the necessary interplay with a webcam) and sensory (hence the electronically operated machinal devices).
    Some rely on a traditional foundation, like 3D-printed sex toys and the Limon (Minna Life). Basically a vibrator, it ostensibly can also serve as a couple’s sexual memory-bank, recording and customizing intensity levels.

    Something equally reliant on the here and now, using technology in an auxiliary way, is a new unisex product Durex, the condom colossus, has in the works. Fundawear, “touch over the internet” as aptly defined by the company, consists of, according to a YouTube video, a pair of underpants — available in male and female versions — with built-in vibrating nodes remotely activated and operated by an iPhone.

    The app’s menu is quite evolved, involving a multitude of on-screen “buttons” that each operate different nodes, allowing for a more customized — should we say “personal”? — experience mirroring what the couple would do in a “real” intimate set-up.

    Then there are the gizmos heavily reliant on technology allowing not just for the recording and digital transmission of sexual sensations, but also — to a degree — for their simulation.

    One of these is RealTouch, a product line of USB-connected sex devices (one device curated for straight men, another for gay men), promising actual “interactive sex” over the Internet. The customer can choose from over 1000 specially encoded videos that sync with the movements of real touch, while for those who apparently desire to forego the slog of acquiring and/or maintaining a significant other, the company also delivers access to a slew of “models” well-versed in the use of RealTouch’s devices, who are available “for private, one-on-one fantasy encounters.”

    All this for a price, of course, unlike a failed sexual encounter involving a real-life volunteer surrogate in Her.

    Yet, this newly garnered ballyhoo about hi-tech gizmos offering interactive sexual experiences, most of which have already been around for several years now, entirely ignores the fact that even in Her‘s image of a dystopian future not far from us, the single — and ostensibly mind-blowing and physically orgasmic — sex scene relies on no remotely operated nodes, special underwear, or USB devices, no significant other, surrogate, or model on the other side of the Internet. It consists of the act of verbal foreplay between two entities (how else to speak about the coupling of a human being and an artificially intelligent operating system the human has downloaded onto his phone, computer and other devices?) only after the two have become familiar, shared intimately mundane details about their likes and dislikes, become a staple of each other’s daily lives, and therefore forged a strong intellectual and emotional bond.

    To put it plainly: it’s about two… beings who have opened up to one another, gotten to know each other, fallen in love, and require nothing more than each other’s voice and the all-pervasive knowledge of the intensity of their bond, to reach mutual physical climax — giving a whole new meaning to the term “mind-f*ck”.

    After that happens, of course, things start getting messy. In the movie, as in real life, truly mind-blowing sex entails a profound and unique, if also febrile, connection to a specific other on every level. Enter drama and potential heartbreak. Even if your lover is a creature of A.I. (and this option seems not too faraway; aside from Japanese DARPA robots and Google’s much publicized forage into robotics Rumors abound that Google has made ground-breaking progress in creating software that understands and responds accordingly to the diverse employment of inflection, both written and spoken.

    Practically meaning, this software (still in its experimental phase) understands when we’re joking or being mysterious or just sad — at the same time, this lack of emotional understanding remains a timeless bone of contention between many couples.

    Truth is, we’re all products of a higher intelligence after all — some call it God, others call it “evolution”. When we break out, evolving beyond our “programming”, risking, feeling, discovering, truly connecting to another, then it all becomes complicated and unknown. That’s the goriness and glory of love, I guess.

  • 11 Reasons You Should Quit Facebook In 2014
    “Facebook is so annoying.” How many times have you heard that sentiment this past year? We bet a lot, because more and more people seem to be getting tired of the social media platform, especially young people.

    We’ve noticed a nationwide annoyance with Facebook over 2013. The company even admitted in October that younger teens were using the network less frequently on a daily basis. Here are 11 reasons that might convince you to let your Facebook account go in 2014.

    1. Nobody actually wants to just read about what you’re doing anymore.

    Think about it: What sounds more appealing (and believable)? Reading a status that says, “I’m currently hanging out with Will Smith!” or a picture of that person actually posing with Smith? A photo is definitely more engaging. Here’s the most-liked Instagram picture of 2013: Justin Bieber’s snap with Smith.

    When TIME interviewed teenagers about their social media use in March, 16-year-old Hamp Briley explained that kids these days don’t have time for Facebook: “Twitter’s all statuses, Instagram’s all pictures. People like to do more specific things like that instead of being on just Facebook.”

    2. Facebook makes it impossible for you to stay “private.”

    For many valid reasons (think stalker exes or potential employers), some people don’t like having their name come up when it’s typed into the Facebook search bar. However, most users this year found problems with changes to privacy settings. For one, Facebook removed the option to keep your name hidden when people search you. They also forced people to control their privacy settings on a cumbersome item-by-item basis. Today, the only way to make sure certain people can’t access your profile is to block them. Or alter your name so it doesn’t appear when people search your real one. Or, of course, quit Facebook entirely.

    3. Your parents (and even grandparents) are now watching your every move.

    fbparents

    This year seemed to be the year everyone’s mom, dad, grandmother and great aunt got hooked on Facebook. And that meant every time you posted a status about something innocuous, these Facebook novices started breathing down your neck the minute you hit “post.” We get enough scolding from our parents “IRL” — no need to let it trickle onto a social media site where our friends can laugh at our familial bickering.

    4. Or they’re posting photos of you that you would never want anyone to see

    emfb

    What’s worse than getting no “likes” on an Instagram photo you posted? Checking your Facebook and realizing that a horribly embarrassing photo of you that your mom posted is getting over 50 “likes,” along with some pretty serious mockery in the comments section.

    5. Facebook is even keeping track of what you don’t say.

    You may have been happy you didn’t post that one over-share about your extended trip to the bathroom the other day, but Facebook may have a record of exactly what you typed and what time you were about to publish it. This month, Facebook released a study revealing that they were undergoing a new type of data collection in which they were tracking when people typed content out and then removed it without publishing. Their mission is to understand why users “self-censor” themselves in updates. According to Facebook data scientist Sauvik Das, a “self-censored update” is “an entry into either [a status update or comment box] of more than five characters that was typed out but not submitted for at least the next 10 minutes.”

    6. Facebook makes you feel less positive about your life.

    165762652

    Even though the purpose of Facebook is effectively to reveal details about everything and anything you do, access to this knowledge could take a toll on your mental well-being. A recent study done by the Department of Behavioral Science at the University of Utah discovered that heavy Facebook users aren’t the happiest people out there. The researchers found that just using Facebook makes you view your life more negatively. Of 400 students questioned, “those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives.”

    7. The “friend suggestions” tell you to befriend people you don’t even know.

    Facebook’s “friend suggestions” algorithm needs some work, because these days we’re discovering that your potential “friends” are people we only know through someone else, or someone we haven’t even met at all. If you want people to stop using a platform that is supposed to connect them and bring them together with the people they care about, you should definitely adopt Facebook’s strategy of trying to get you to care about the lives of complete strangers.

    8. You realize you only know and care about only 20 people out of your 1,000 friends.

    whoareyou

    It starts to get kind of weird when you check the birthdays for the day and don’t remember who any of the five people are. How do you know them? Are they some random person you met at a bar in college one night, and in a drunken stupor decided to “add on Facebook”? Probably. Do you need to know that this person is moving to California this week? More importantly, do you care? Nope. It could be time to overhaul your friends list. Or maybe it’s time to realize that your Facebook account is being used pretty much entirely to keep tabs on these kinds of strangers.

    9. Your friends keep announcing their engagements.

    fbengagement

    There’s nothing more obnoxious than being a busy twentysomething and starting to see all of your friends post statuses about getting engaged. While you are happy for them and wish them the best in their prospects for a lasting marriage, the bombardment of status updates is starting to make you feel like something is wrong with your love life. Why aren’t you getting married? What is wrong with you? Why the hell do you need to be thinking about marriage right now?! Once that anxiety subsides, you realize you have to endure continued updates on their wedding preparation. You could unsubscribe to this friend, but you know more are coming.

    10. The excessive ads are about to ruin the whole experience.

    If the regular sponsored ads hadn’t already destroyed Facebook for you — seriously, why the hell do you think you’re obsessed with guitars and horses — the upcoming launch of video ads will definitely do the trick. Facebook started testing these annoying ads out in December. They’ll soon be coming to a newsfeed near you, automatically playing a video as you scroll through. However, the sound will only play if you click or tap on it. The good news? There is a way to block these ads from automatically playing. You just have to use a Flash blocker.

    11. It makes getting over a breakup really hard.

    fbbreakup

    Back in the days before social media, people broke up and never called the person again. It was relatively simple to move on (providing you weren’t forced to physically see the person on a day-to-day basis). But today, being able to have constant access to your ex’s timeline can easily cause serious obsessive tendencies and behavior. Samuel Axon at Mashable accurately summed up how Facebook makes breakups harder, because the platform makes your change in relationship status public and it allows you to see all the action your ex is getting.

  • Dog Who Would Rather Watch TV Than Play Is Probably A Metaphor For Something
    Come on, dog, there’s a whole big world out there. Instead of watching TV, play with a friend, chase a ball, make a New Year’s resolution… regular dog stuff. Leave the mindlessly watching whatever’s on the tube to us, the experts.
  • Rustic State Machines for Fun and Profit

    Rustic State Machines for Fun and Profit

    Video games got me into programming, and while I don’t actively try to make games anymore, every now and then I take an interest in what the experts are doing, and occasionally write modules and bindings.

    One of the key design patterns I’ve learned since then is the State pattern. Like all young, idealistic game programmers, my first programs were filled with complicated if-else branches that were nearly impossible to update or maintain, yet somehow they worked. The State pattern is something I sorely wish I’d known back then, as it solves the same problem that those if-else branches were intended to solve, but does it in a much cleaner and more modular way. The book-in-progress I linked to above does a great job of describing what the pattern is and sketches out a rudimentary C++ implementation. But C++ is a complicated, often twisted old beast of a programming language, so why not try to implement a state machine in the next-generation game programming language: Rust?

    Truthfully, I doubt that Rust will ever knock C++ off of its dominant perch in the game programming industry, at least not for a long while. But it does stand the best chance, as it combines a number of good design ideas with a trait that most new programming languages tend to brush off: speed. While I’m a huge fan of other new languages like Go, mandatory garbage collection is a potential dealbreaker for games that want to milk as much performance out of the system as possible.

    Dynamic Dispatch

    The State pattern is based on the concept of dynamic dispatch: the ability of a system to determine at runtime which code to run, rather than at compile-time. C++ uses virtual methods, Go uses interfaces, Haskell uses typeclasses, and Rust uses traits.

    If you’re familiar with how any of the other languages implements dynamic dispatch, then Rust traits should feel very familiar. A trait is defined by a set of method signatures, each made up of a name, parameter list, and return value. Other types can implement a trait by implementing the methods defined by it. Once implemented, that type can be used anywhere that trait is expected.

    So by implementing the game hero’s state as a trait, we can pass game input along to whatever record the hero’s state is currently pointing to, then use its return value to determine if that state should be updated.

    In code, here’s what we’d like to be able to do:

    2013-12-30-radtkescreenshot1.png

    This simply defines a State trait (empty for now) and a Hero struct with an inner field pointing to some value implementing State. Then when we want to process some input, we give it to the Hero and let it decide what to do based on its current state. Since we want each possible state to be able to handle its own input, State should consist of a similar, but more specialized, method for input handling. But since the Hero points to the State and not the other way around, how do we tell the Hero whether or not a new state is needed? Consider that there are three possible cases:

    1. Invalid input.
    2. Valid input, and the state should change.
    3. Valid input, but the state should stay the same.

    For this solution I’ve decided to represent these three cases using a combination of Rust’s built-in Result and Option types. A Result can represent one of two values, an error or a success, and an Optionsimply represents a value that may or may not be present. When the input fails for any reason, we want to return that as an error. But if it succeeds, we want to be able to optionally return a new state to be used. Here’s how that looks in Rust code:

    2013-12-30-radtkescreenshot2.png

    Note that this is a very simplified example, and in reality, it would also be necessary for handle_input() to take a pointer to Hero or some subset of it. However, this post is written towards a functional programming style, and as such we want to prevent states from modifying the hero’s st field directly, hence this approach.

    Here the Res type is equivalent to what I just described, since it has only three possible values:

    1. Err(...) for an error.
    2. Ok(Some(...)) for when we want to change state.
    3. Ok(None) for when we want to keep the current state.

    Now we can finish defining the Hero’s handle_input() method, which will serve as the entry-point for any State-defined ones by passing along the input and updating itself based on the result:

    2013-12-30-radtkescreenshot3.png

    For simplicity’s sake, any errors received will simply be printed to standard output.

    Writing Some States

    Let’s use this to implement two states for the Hero and define some commands for switching between them!

    2013-12-30-radtkescreenshot4.png

    2013-12-30-radtkescreenshot5.png

    Assume that our hero starts out sitting, so we have a Hero instance whose internal st field points to an instance of Sitting, which is an empty struct as it requires no additional information. But what if our hero wants to eat a burger? We simply tell him to ~[~"eat", ~"burger"], which gets passed along to the sitting implementation of handle_input(). This ends up returning a value of Ok(Some(~Eating as ~State)), which means that we should upate our hero’s state to the provided Eating instance. Eating contains one field, which is the value of the food we instructed him to eat; in this case, ~"burger". This demonstrates how each implementation of State can itself keep track of its own internal state. Telling him to ~[~"stop"] and ~[~"eat", ~"pizza"] would cause our hero to stop eating the burger and pick up a slice of pizza. On the other hand, telling him to ~[~"chew"] while eating or to ~[~"stare"] while sitting will return a value of Ok(None), since he will still be eating or sitting, respectively, after the action has finished.

    The full working example can be found here. As an exercise, try downloading the source and implementing a few new behaviors for our intrepid Hero. How would you get him to walk, or sleep? How would he react to a command to ~[~"walk"] while in the middle of a sandwich, or if he was told to ~[~"sleep"] while walking?

  • YouTube's Skippable Ads Keep 50% More Viewers
    Putting users in control can put publishers at an advantage, it seems. Google’s TrueView video ad format may let users skip YouTube pre-roll ads – but that doesn’t mean reduced engagement, says a company exec.

    “One of the most interesting findings that we’ve gotten from TrueView, both on YouTube and also off of YouTube and on the publishers that we have TrueView extended to, is we see a 50% … increase in retention for those publishers – people that come back to the site over and over and over again,” Google’s media platform sales head Jay VanDerzee tells Beet.TV.

    TrueView ads let users skip to actual content after a set number of seconds have elapsed. If users skip, advertisers don’t pay.

    “All too often people get consumed by those notion of ‘What percentage of people skip the ad?’,” VanDerzee says. ”What you really should be thinking about is, ‘What percentage of people didn’t skip the ad, and what is the value created for those publishers and users?’ It’s obviously tremendous.”

    VanDerzee was interviewed by Furious Minds CEO Ashley Swartz at Beet.TV’s TV Programmatic Summit, hosted at Xaxis and presented by Videology.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • US announces six drone test sites
    America’s aviation agency announces the six states that will test commercial drones, a step towards unleashing the pilotless aircraft in US skies.
  • People Sext When They Don't Really Want To, Study Finds
    “Not tonight, honey, I have a headache” can spare lovers from sex. But it won’t save them from sexts.

    While headlines proclaim young adults are hooked on the joys of sexting, a forthcoming study examining the practice has found college-age sexters in committed relationships frequently engage in unwanted sexting, and will exchange explicit message or photos for reasons that have little to do with attraction or arousal.

    Call it the “requisext”: an X-rated missive sent out of a sense of necessity or obligation, but not purely for pleasure. They’re more common than many might realize, and are sent nearly as frequently by men and women.

    The research, which will be published in February in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, reveals similarities between sexual behavior online and off. Previous research on couples’ sex lives has demonstrated that partners will willingly go along with sex, even when they’re not keen on it, for reasons that range from pleasing their partner to avoiding an argument. On smartphones and over email, e-sex happens for many of the same reasons.

    Working to understand the frequency of “consensual but unwanted sexting” — scientist-speak for “sexting when you’re not in the mood” — psychologists at Indiana University-Purdue University For Wayne polled 155 undergraduates who were or had been in committed relationships on their sexting habits.

    Fifty-five percent of the female respondents said they had previously engaged in unwanted sexting, while 48 percent of men had done the same. Those numbers are surprisingly similar to previous findings on so-called “compliant sexual activity”: A 1994 report determined that 55 percent of American women and 35 percent of American men had ever engaged in consensual but unwanted sex.

    But while women have typically far outnumbered men in having unwanted sexual activity the old-fashioned way, the rates of requisexting were not drastically higher among women, the study found. In this case, equality for the sexes means near-equality in unwanted sexting.

    The authors of the article argued “gender-role expectations” could be to blame. Men might be more likely to agree to undesired sexting because doing so is “relatively easy and does not require them to invest more into the relationship.” Women in turn might be discouraged from virtual sex because it fails to help them attain their relationship “goals,” the authors hypothesized.

    So what makes people feel the need to requisext — especially when the evidence can so easily come back to haunt them?

    The survey’s respondents were asked to rate ten possible motivations for their begrudging sexts, ranging from “I was bored” to “I was taking drugs.”

    People most frequently consented to unwanted sexting because they sought to flirt, engage in foreplay, satisfy a partner’s need or foster intimacy in their relationship. The researchers also found that people who were anxious about their relationships — specifically, who feared abandonment by or alienation from their lovers — were more likely to be requisexters. Digital communication could be “especially challenging” for these anxious lovers, who might increase their sexting in an attempt to make distant lovers seem closer, the study’s authors speculated.

    On the other hand, those sick of requisexting might soon be coming up with some clever “outs.” Next time, just claim you have a thumbache.

  • 17 New Year's Eve Someecards That Will Start Your 2014 With A Laugh
    Fact: New Year’s Eve is probably the most overrated night of the year. Make it better for a friend you plan to keep around in 2014 by sending a witty Someecard. They put up with you all year; it’s the least you could do.

Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • 12 Days of Gifts Day 5 – Martin Scorsese’s Hugo in HD

    Today is Day 5 of Apples 12 Days of Gifts and today’s gift is outstanding.  It is the Martin Scorsese movie Hugo, complete with iTunes Extras that includes an interview with the legendary director.
    Hugo is an orphan boy living in the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris. He learned to fix clocks [...]

    The post 12 Days of Gifts Day 5 – Martin Scorsese’s Hugo in HD appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • 2013's top memes and viral videos
    Shaking, parking, twerking and hoaxing – the viral hits of the year
  • 5 Ways Outer Space Taught Us About Earth in 2013
    Another year of the Internet has come to a close, which can only mean one thing: time for more lists! The science magazines will undoubtedly create exciting top 10′s of the most awesome things to happen in space in 2013. But some of the stories that most need telling are not the big-ticket tales of human spaceflight and new exoplanet discoveries. For most people, it’s the less flashy things that can mean the most in the lives of people right down here on Earth. And these benefits are not limited to spinoffs like microelectronics and high-tech medical technologies that people from rich countries enjoy; from human rights to food security, space assets provide incredibly meaningful humanitarian contributions to the planet. Here are five of the many ways in which space touched us down here on Earth in 2013:

    1. Space assets helped human rights workers uncover war crimes in the Central African Republic

    Since the March 2013 coup and ousting of President François Bozizé by the rebel Seleka Coalition, more than a thousand people have been killed, over 100,000 displaced, and the situation is growing worse by the day with reports of rape, torture, executions, and other atrocities. In the CAR, space-based intelligence gathering, along with the stories and research from people on the ground, lead to the United Nations’ decision in November to unanimously authorize the deployment of peacekeeping troops into the region.

    Satellite imagery becomes particularly useful in conflict zones where it is too dangerous to send in reporters and aid workers, and when affected villages are too remote to reach by vehicle. In response, Human Rights Watch has used satellite imagery to collect detailed evidence of tell-tale signs of humans rights abuses. For example, viewing arson attacks on multiple civilian villages (considered a war crime by international humanitarian law) in the CAR, such as the gold mining village of Camp Bangui, where “black burn” scars indicate around half of the village has been destroyed. In other areas, satellite imagery detailing new tent-like structures indicate mass displacement of people — another common indicator of abuses.

    In addition, the escalating violence between Christians and Muslims has incited the very real fear that genocide is imminent. In other conflicts such as those in the Sudan and in Kosovo, human rights abuse investigators have used satellites to look for mass graves — a feature commonly correlated with genocide. In fact, a mass grave was discovered by Red Cross workers a few days ago in Bengui, the CAR capital. Let us hope that this is one use satellites will not need to serve.

    2) Space assets were used in search and rescue operations in the Philippines

    We all saw the harrowing images of Typhoon Haiyan, which left 6,111 people dead, 1,799 missing, and 4.4 million homeless — a disaster so devastating and disruptive that weeks after the storm, over a thousand bodies still remain unburied.

    During the immediate aftermath of the storm, rescue workers used space assets to help to coordinate the search, rescue, and relief efforts. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) deployed satellite phones and broadband satellite terminals for data to many of the regions most affected. This allowed for those conducting humanitarian assistance to coordinate logistics when deploying medical assistance, food, and water to those in need; allowed rescue workers to figure out how to reach victims when roads and landmarks are destroyed, rendering maps useless; and helped people contact their loved ones after being separated. In addition, companies like DigitalGlobe and Astrium have already (at no charge) provided emergency workers with imagery that detail the devastating before and after images. As the country rebuilds, images such as these will be critical in assessing the damage and prioritizing recovery efforts. The United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) has collected and made available several images, all accessible to the general public.

    3) Satellites helped map the density of the world’s vegetation

    More than 800 million people worldwide suffer from malnutrition and chronic hunger. According to the World Health Organization, one of the key pillars to food security is food availability — that is, having sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis. In an effort to better understand where this is most challenging, Earth observation satellites provide detailed mapping of agriculture activities, including the distribution and condition of crops.

    In November 2103, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released a set of stunning color images detailing the places on Earth that are green vegetation rich, and the places that were lacking due to stress conditions such as drought. By compiling data gathered over the course of a year, the Suomi NPP satellite allowed us yet another way to visualize the Earth that was both data rich and beautiful. A particularly stunning view: images of the of vast North African dryness, with the green colored banks of the river Nile — the agricultural lifeblood of the regions through which it flows.

    Another valuable mapping contribution came from the European Space Agency’s Proba-V satellite, which in July after a month in space captured its own snapshot of Earth’s vegetation density. This is only one of the latest in satellites orbiting the Earth that are producing data that when combined with other information such as weather satellites, can be used for drought monitoring and mitigation, and precise early warning forecasting for regions at risk for food insecurity.

    4) Space satellites provided climate scientists with information on the record lows of Arctic sea ice

    Every year the arctic sea ice melts to its summer minimum. But on September 13, 2013, analysis of satellite data by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) showed sea ice had reached the 6th lowest level in the 35-year history of satellite measurement (1.97 million square miles). Now, this was an increase over the previous year, which was the all-time record low (1.32 million square miles); but it was still consistent with the long-term downward trend, a decline that has accelerated since 2007, and lead to a 40 percent loss of sea ice since 1980.

    The loss of sea ice cover is a leading indicator of climate change, and many scientists believe that within decades, the Arctic will be entirely ice-free in the summer months. Why does this matter? Not only do many animals depend on the ice for their homes, but native peoples of the Arctic depend on these animals for food. The ice also reflects sunlight back out into space, which helps prevent the Earth from getting too warm. Less ice means less reflection; less reflection means a warmer planet and — you guessed it — even more ice melting. Several space satellites are orbiting our poles and observing these phenomena, and will continue to report back down on Earth in 2104. Sadly, the predictions indicate the results will not be good.

    5) O3B launched a microsatellite constellation to provide affordable broadband internet to the developing world

    The ability to communicate vital information, provide education in an increasingly paperless world, and provide a platform for free speech is becoming more and more dependent on the ability to access the Internet. A 2009 World Bank study estimated that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration in low and middle income countries yielded an additional 1.38 percent in GDP growth. And many — including the United Nations — have declared universal access to the internet to be a human right.

    In developed countries, ground-based fiber has become the dominant technology for delivering broadband internet. But in developing nations, laying ground-based infrastructure can be cost-prohibitive due to geography, rural and remote populations, and low purchasing power of users. And before recently, satellite internet access was also costly, as countries would have to rely on telecommunications giants and their often steep fees to provide high-speed services to their citizens.

    The last decade has seen the popularization of small, cost-effective satellites “microsatellites” that can be combined into networks or “constellations,” which use their collective capability to deliver high-speed data, which can be an excellent lower-cost solution for emerging markets.

    One such company that is revolution this space is O3b Networks, a start-up founded in 2007. Their goal: provide broadband connectivity to the “other 3 billion” people on the planet who do not have internet access. In June 2013, O3b successfully launched its first 4 satellites (of a constellation that will reach 16), and in 2014 will begin to provide its first services. And they’ve already got users signed up: some of O3b’s first customers include governments and companies servicing Papua New Guinea, Somalia, and Peru. The company has plans to continue to extend services across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific.

    Now, I would not be a proper space geek if I didn’t at least mention the incredible feats that have been accomplished in 2013 from a high technology and exploration standpoint, such as SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule docking to the International Space Station, China landing on the Moon, or my personal favorite, finding water geysers on Europa. However, sometimes it’s valuable to look beyond the razzle dazzle, and reflect on how some of the more tangible benefits of investing in space — especially those that are improving the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable of us. To those who value protecting the child suffering from malnutrition or the refugees fleeing war, it is these stories that will connect our hearts when the money gets tight, our imaginations demand a pause from the wonder, and reality requires from us full on confrontation of the real wounds of humanity that need healing.

  • Here's To The Nerds: Celebrating A New Definition
    I’ve noticed quite recently that I only surround myself with extraordinarily nerdy people.

    Perhaps this conjures up an image of a circle of poorly-dressed, skinny dudes staying up late to play Settlers. But that’s not the case.

    (Erm, not always the case. But I’ll get to that.)

    First, lets backtrack to the mid-2000s – when our young protagonist was first entering middle school. The term “nerd” absolutely terrified me. As an Asian female in a Bostonian high school that was 95% Italian and Irish, I stuck out like a sore thumb. While it was never a true pain point, I was extremely conscious of anything that made me different from my peers – perceived or real.

  • Lizzy Caplan Imitates Rage Faces For Paul F. Tompkins
    We already loved Paul F. Tompkins’ interview series Speakeasy, which features awesome people chatting with the ever-dapper comedian over fancy cocktails. In the latest season, Tompkins has given us even more to enjoy by introducing stand-alone clips of various internet games he plays with his guests.

    Key and Peele recently attempted to break the world record for number of impressions done in under a minute, and most recently, Tompkins challenged Lizzy Caplan with doing her best versions of rage faces.

    Check out Caplan’s pretty stellar work above and her full interview below.

  • Eight Arrested In Spain Over Global Bank Cyber Heists
    MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police on Sunday said they had arrested eight people suspected of helping to steal more than $60 million from banks worldwide by hacking into credit card processing firms and withdrawing money from cash machines.
    The arrests are one of the biggest breakthroughs yet outside the United States in connection with a series of global bank heists, coordinated across numerous countries by cells which withdrew millions of dollars in a matter of hours.
    Spanish police said in a statement they had detained six Romanian citizens and two Moroccans on the outskirts of Madrid, and seized 25,000 euros ($34,400) in cash as well as around 1,000 blank credit cards, IT material and jewels after several building searches.
    The statement said the global hacking gang had been controlled by a single person, who had been arrested in Germany. The police could not be reached for comment on when the alleged mastermind had been detained.
    German prosecutors said in May they had arrested two Dutch citizens suspected of taking part in a $45 million cyber heist involving two Middle Eastern banks.
    Prosecutors in Duesseldorf could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.
    The Spanish police statement said they had acted with the help of an unnamed U.S. security agency.
    “The bulk of the organization based in Spain has been dismantled when it was starting to regroup to carry out an attack similar to previous ones, in various European Union countries and including in Japan,” the police said.
    They said the ringleader was an IT expert who hacked into the databases used by credit card processing firms and could modify security settings, including PIN number restrictions and withdrawal limits, before getting cells worldwide to fake credit cards using some of the information.
    The swiftness and scale of the heists was revealed earlier this year, when U.S. prosecutors arrested seven men suspected of the Middle Eastern bank thefts.
    Around $45 million was stolen in several attacks using faked cards bearing the names of two banks, prosecutors said, with some $40 million raided from ATMs in 24 countries in just over 10 hours in February.
    Spanish police said on Sunday 446 withdrawals took place in Madrid during a February raid, with the Spanish-based arm of the ring obtaining $400,000 in a heist totaling $40 million. They did not confirm which banks had been involved.
    Previous raids had involved withdrawals in other Spanish cities and global takings by the crime ring amounted to over $60 million, they said.
    Six further people were arrested and charged in the United States in November in connection with the million Middle Eastern bank theft.
    (Reporting by Sarah White; Additional reporting by Alexandra Hudson in Berlin; Editing by Erica Billingham)
  • NSA Hacking Tactics Revealed By Der Spiegel
    LONDON (AP) — A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency’s hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft’s internal reporting system to spy on their targets.

    Der Spiegel’s revelations relate to a division of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, which is painted as an elite team of hackers specializing in stealing data from the toughest of targets. Citing internal NSA documents, the magazine said Sunday that TAO’s mission was “Getting the ungettable,” and quoted an unnamed intelligence official as saying that TAO had gathered “some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen.”

    Der Spiegel said TAO had a catalog of high-tech gadgets for particularly hard-to-crack cases, including computer monitor cables specially modified to record what is being typed across the screen, USB sticks secretly fitted with radio transmitters to broadcast stolen data over the airwaves, and fake base stations intended to intercept mobile phone signals on the go.

    The NSA doesn’t just rely on James Bond-style spy gear, the magazine said. Some of the attacks described by Der Spiegel exploit weaknesses in the architecture of the Internet to deliver malicious software to specific computers. Others take advantage of weaknesses in hardware or software distributed by some of the world’s leading information technology companies, including Cisco Systems, Inc. and China’s Huawei Technologies Ltd., the magazine reported.

    Der Spiegel cited a 2008 mail order catalog-style list of vulnerabilities that NSA spies could exploit from companies such as Irvine, California-based Western Digital Corp. or Round Rock, Texas-based Dell Inc. The magazine said that suggested the agency was “compromising the technology and products of American companies.”

    Old-fashioned methods get a mention too. Der Spiegel said that if the NSA tracked a target ordering a new computer or other electronic accessories, TAO could tap its allies in the FBI and the CIA, intercept the hardware in transit, and take it to a secret workshop where it could be discretely fitted with espionage software before being sent on its way.

    Intercepting computer equipment in such a way is among the NSA’s “most productive operations,” and has helped harvest intelligence from around the world, one document cited by Der Spiegel stated.

    One of the most striking reported revelations concerned the NSA’s alleged ability to spy on Microsoft Corp.’s crash reports, familiar to many users of the Windows operating system as the dialogue box which pops up when a game freezes or a Word document dies. The reporting system is intended to help Microsoft engineers improve their products and fix bugs, but Der Spiegel said the NSA was also sifting through the reports to help spies break into machines running Windows. One NSA document cited by the magazine appeared to poke fun at Microsoft’s expense, replacing the software giant’s standard error report message with the words: “This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint (signals intelligence) system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine.”

    Microsoft did not immediately return a call seeking comment, but the company is one of several U.S. firms that have demanded more transparency from the NSA — and worked to bolster their security — in the wake of the revelations of former intelligence worker Edward Snowden, whose disclosures have ignited an international debate over privacy and surveillance.

    Der Spiegel did not explicitly say where its cache NSA documents had come from, although the magazine has previously published a series of stories based on documents leaked by Snowden, and one of Snowden’s key contacts — American documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras — was listed among the article’s six authors.

    No one was immediately available at Der Spiegel to clarify whether Snowden was the source for the latest story.

    ___

    Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

  • Documents Reveal The NSA's Top Hacking Unit
    The NSA’s TAO hacking unit is considered to be the intelligence agency’s top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting.
  • Will NASA's New Squishy 'Super Ball Bot' Be Next To 'Dance' On Saturn's Moon? (VIDEO)
    Could this jumble of poles one day bounce around on Saturn’s moon Titan?

    Called the Super Ball Bot, this collapsible rover prototype is being developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center for a potential mission to the planet-like moon. It is being designed to replace the heavy and costly machinery traditionally used for such exploration missions. Watch the springy bot in action in the video above.

    Landing a rover on another world is no easy feat. But for the Super Ball Bot, its light and agile build requires no parachute or other landing gear to descend.

    “Ideally, teams of dozens or even hundreds of small, collapsable robots, weighing only a few kilograms a piece, will be conveniently packed during launch and would reliably separate and unpack at their destination,” according to a report from NASA.

    The bot’s ability to absorb impacts means “falling over cliffs and rolling down hills and mountainsides may not pose any problems for the rover,” Tech Times reported.

    How does it work? The device is made up of rigid rods and flexible cables. Motors connected to the cables shorten and lengthen them, changing the robot’s shape and allowing it to roll around. The design was inspired by the principle of tensegrity, which involves placing a set of isolated compression components inside a net of continuous tension.

    nasa squishy roverA concept drawing of the mission, where many Super Ball Bots could be deployed and bounce to a landing before moving and exploring the surface.

  • Flying Yacht Is A Taste Of The Future (VIDEO)
    If a large yacht somehow fails to adequately convey fabulous wealth to you, then maybe a large flying yacht will do the trick.

    Airplane designer Yelken Octuri has come up with a plan for just such a thing: a 150-foot yacht that transforms into a seaplane.

    As you can see in this video from GeoBeats News, the 150-foot yacht has four mobile masts that can transform into wings, making the transition from boat to plane fairly seamless, at least in theory. Once in seaplane mode, the yacht has a range of 600 kilometers (about 370 feet).

    But don’t expect to be able to blow your millions on this boat-plane just yet: Octuri’s design, commissioned by three Omani princes, has been on the drawing board for at least a few years.

  • 13 Obvious Scientific Discoveries In 2013 That Will Make You Just Shake Your Head

    Common sense is no replacement for science; plenty of “everyone knows” knowledge has had its legs cut out from under it by a well-designed study. Nevertheless, some research turns up results that don’t exactly shock and awe.

    Such no-duh research usually has a serious underlying purpose, from the study of why people cheat to the roots of racism. Researchers have to understand the basics of everyday phenomena in order to understand them, after all.

    Here’s a sampling of the unsurprising research of 2013 — with a few notes on why scientists bothered.

    1. The Western diet is bad for you

    Wait … fried Snickers bars and hot dogs aren’t the foundations of a well-balanced diet? The “Western diet” of processed and fried foods with a side of sweets and red meat increases the likelihood of premature death, researchers reported in April in The American Journal of Medicine, to the surprise of no one.

    The study was slightly different than other research into how Twinkies can kill, in that it assessed overall health in old age rather that the effect of diet on specific diseases. [7 Foods You Can Overdose On]

    2. Sleeping beauty is no myth

    News bulletin: Baggy eyes, puffy skin and a bleary expression do not make for a hot look. Research published in September in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reveals the better you sleep, the better you look.

    Obvious on a day-to-day basis, no doubt — and the reason make-up was invented. But this study went beyond the morning after to find that several months of good sleep make a difference in a person’s appearance. The participants were patients being treated for sleep apnea and heavy snoring, breathing problems that can disrupt sleep without a person knowing it. After treatment, independent raters judged the participants as younger and more attractive compared with photos taken before treatment.

    3. Racists are close-minded

    Few would associate racism with open-mindedness. A study published in January in the journal Psychological Science reveals that, sure enough, racism produces a closed mind.

    People prompted to believe racial stereotypes by reading a false scientific study became less open-minded. Interestingly, this close-mindedness led to less creativity overall, even in activities having nothing to do with race. Rigid, categorical thinking underlies both racist beliefs and a lack of creativity, the researchers said.

    4. Morbid alert! Hanging is bad for the heart

    Few people probably hang themselves for the cardio benefits. A January study in the Emergency Medicine Journal confirmed, indeed, hanging is not good for the heart. The study researchers reviewed emergency medical records in Melbourne, Australia, and found that 4 percent of cardiac arrests treated were the result of hanging.

    The treatment findings, however, revealed some possibly life-saving information. Resuscitation saved the lives of 3 percent of the patients, suggesting that emergency medical technicians should give it a shot. [10 Other No-Duh Science Findings from Years Past]

    5. Cheating men have strong sexual urges

    No, really?! Guys who cheat do so because they experience strong sexual impulses, according to a study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology in September.

    This no-duh finding comes courtesy research on college students who had to reflect on sexual temptations and participate in a game in which they had to reject or accept potential dates based on photographs. The study revealed the male impulse to accept a potential partner was much stronger than the female impulse. [50 Sultry Facts About Sex]

    The study explains the gender difference in cheating, the researchers said. It’s not that men have less self-control than women; it’s that the urges they’re trying to control are stronger.

    6. Shy teens find friends online

    It’s so cliché as to be a stereotype: the mousy, shy teen, turning to Tumblr and online message boards to make friends rather than going out in real life.

    Turns out, the cliché is true, according to a study published in January in the European Journal of Personality. There’s good news, though: Online friendships boosted shy teens’ self-esteem, which prompted them to find more friends both online and offline.

    7. Take smaller bites, eat less

    Who knew? Taking smaller bites leads to eating less, according to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE in January. But wait, there’s more to this study than meets the eye. Researchers had participants take either small or large spoonsful of soup while they watched a 15-minute cartoon, so that they were distracted while eating. Eating while distracted is known to make people scarf more food than they think, a big problem in a world full of big-screen TVs and smartphones at the table. Taking smaller bites offset this increase in intake, so the findings might be helpful for those who have to multitask at meals. [7 Diet Tips That Actually Work]

    8. Umbrellas protect you from the sun

    Intrepid scientists tested the idea that umbrellas provide shade. Turns out they do. Case closed.

    OK, a little more detail: Researchers wanted to know if umbrellas, which are typically designed to shield from rain, not sun, could block harmful UV rays that cause skin damage and cancer. They found that black umbrellas blocked at least 90 percent of the harmful rays, and all blocked at least 77 percent, with white performing the worst. So if summer shade is the goal, pick a black umbrella, the researchers suggested in March in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

    9. People buy more fruits and veggies when they’re cheaper

    What’s it going to take to get fruits and veggies onto people’s plates? A price cut could help.

    In an unsurprising finding, researchers reported that discounts drive purchases of healthy foods. People given coupons bought 9 lbs. (4 kilograms) more fruits and veggies over a six-month period compared with people given only a cookbook of healthy recipes or free phone calls with a nutritionist. When the coupons were paired with cookbooks, the amount of extra veggies bought rose to 12 lbs. (5 kg), Reuters reported. What a shocker — people like deals. Still, the study points to a need to back up education with access to healthy food, the researchers said.

    10. Bad relationships depress people

    Your girlfriends are right: It’s better to be alone than to marry a loser.

    In a study published in April in the Journal PLOS ONE, researchers used a large national study of 5,000 Americans to find that people with unsupportive spouses were more likely to be depressed than unmarried people. To be fair, the study is the first to link bad relationships with depression in the general population, rather than in people already seeking help for the mental disorder. Couples therapy might be useful when one-half of a partnership is experiencing depression, the researchers said.

    11. Reality TV skews reality

    In a year wrapping up with a controversy over anti-gay comments made by the patriarch on the A&E reality TV show “Duck Dynasty,” it seems appropriate that scientists observed a not-so-surprising pattern this October. Young adults who watch reality TV are likely to believe the shows reflect, well, reality. Reality TV viewers are more likely than non-viewers to think women are nasty gossips and that fighting in relationships is common, researchers reported in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

    12. Drugs and driving don’t mix

    Getting drugged up and getting behind the wheel is a very bad idea, according to a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health published in September.

    Drivers who test positive for drugs (other than alcohol) are three times more likely to get into a fatal car crash than people who are sober. Mix drugs and alcohol, and the risk of a fatal crash leaps by 23 percent.

    Obvious, perhaps, but important, given that there are about 30,000 fatal car wrecks a year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drugged driving is less well-studied than drunk driving, and unlike the blood alcohol levels used to measure alcohol impairment, no universal measures of drug impairment exist, the researchers said.

    13. Women find musicians hot

    Many an adolescent boy has taken up guitar in hopes of getting chicks. It’s not a bad strategy, according to research published May 1 in the journal Psychology of Music. This absolutely delightful study had a man ask women on the street for their phone numbers while holding either a sports bag, a guitar case or nothing. The guy got more digits when holding the guitar case. Rock on.

    Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

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

  • Anyone Born After 1999 Won't Know What The Hell This Is (PHOTO)
    …unless they’re ironically into “90s nostalgia.” (Kids, get off our lawns.)

    Behold “The Floppy Table,” a creation by Neulant van Excel.

    floppy table

    But here’s the best part:

    Here, just take all our money.

  • BBC Hacked, Hacker Tries To Sell System Access On Christmas Day
    By Jim Finkle
    BOSTON (Reuters) – A hacker secretly took over a computer server at the BBC, Britain’s public broadcaster, and then launched a Christmas Day campaign to convince other cyber criminals to pay him for access to the system.
    While it is not known if the hacker found any buyers, the BBC’s security team responded to the issue on Saturday and believes it has secured the site, according to a person familiar with the cleanup effort.
    A BBC spokesman declined to discuss the incident. “We do not comment on security issues,” he said.
    Reuters could not determine whether the hackers stole data or caused any damage in the attack, which compromised a server that manages an obscure password-protected website.
    It was not clear how the BBC, the world’s oldest and largest broadcaster, uses that site, ftp.bbc.co.uk, though ftp systems are typically used to manage the transfer of large data files over the Internet.
    The attack was first identified by Hold Security LLC, a cybersecurity firm in Milwaukee that monitors underground cyber-crime forums in search of stolen information.
    The firm’s researchers observed a notorious Russian hacker known by the monikers “HASH” and “Rev0lver,” attempting to sell access to the BBC server on December 25, the company’s founder and chief information security officer, Alex Holden, told Reuters.
    “HASH” sought to convince high-profile hackers that he had infiltrated the site by showing them files that could only be accessed by somebody who really controlled it, Holden said.
    So far Hold Security researchers have found no evidence the conversations led to a deal or that data was stolen from the BBC, Holden said.
    It is common for hackers to buy and sell access to compromised servers on underground forums.
    Buyers view the access as a commodity that grants them the chance to further penetrate the victim organization. They can also use compromised servers to set up command-and-control centers for cyber-crime operations known as botnets, run spam campaigns or launch denial of service attacks to knock websites off line.
    The BBC offer stands out because the media company is such a high-profile organization, Holden said. “It’s definitely a notch in someone’s belt.”
    BBC has some 23,000 staff and is funded largely by license fees paid by every British household with a television.
    Justin Clarke, a principal consultant for the cybersecurity firm Cylance Inc, said that while “HASH” was only offering access to an obscure ftp server, some buyers might see it as a stepping stone to more prized assets within the BBC.
    “Accessing that server establishes a foothold within BBC’s network which may allow an attacker to pivot and gain further access to internal BBC resources,” he said.
    Media companies, including the BBC, have repeatedly been targeted by the Syrian Electronic Army, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and other hacker activist groups that deface websites and take over Twitter accounts.
    Last January the New York Times reported that it had been repeatedly attacked over four months by Chinese hackers who obtained employees’ passwords.
    (Additional reporting by Belinda Goldsmith in London and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Ross Colvin and Eric Beech)
  • 12 Days of Gifts Day 4 – Toca House Kids Game

    Apple continues the 12 Days of Gifts app giving today with something for the little ones in your life.  The Day 4 gift is Toca House, a game aimed at youngsters 2-6 years old that has them do fun, game oriented chores with five characters around the house.
    Welcome to Toca House! Help the five [...]

    The post 12 Days of Gifts Day 4 – Toca House Kids Game appeared first on AlliOSNews.

Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • Supply pinch dogs Microsoft's Surface tablets
    Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 and Surface 2 are chronically in short supply. Is this because the new tablets are flying off the shelves or just not reaching the shelves?
  • Researchers: Teens 'Embarrassed To Even Be Associated' With Facebook
    Facebook is ‘dead and buried’ to older teenagers, an extensive European study has found, as the key age group moves on to Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat.
  • Briefly: Roccat Power-Grid update, booq's Boa nerve messenger bag
    Roccat’s Power-Grid remote control software has received its first major update since October, featuring all-new code and advanced Power-Grid content found in the release of the Power-Grid SDK. Allowing users to integrate their smartphone as a remote control while gaming, Power-Grid is still in an open-beta status, which has allowed for continuous user feedback.
        



  • As Hollywood Filming Spreads Out Globally, California Loses
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — In the old days, filmmakers flocked to Hollywood for its abundant sunshine, beautiful people and sandy beaches. But today a new filmmaking diaspora is spreading across the globe to places like Vancouver, London and Wellington, New Zealand.

    Fueled by politicians doling out generous tax breaks, filmmaking talent is migrating to where the money is. The result is an incentives arms race that pits California against governments around the world and allows powerful studios —with hundreds of millions of dollars at their disposal— to cherry-pick the best deals. The most recent iteration of the phenomenon came earlier this month when James Cameron announced plans to shoot and produce the next three “Avatar” sequels largely in New Zealand. What Cameron gets out of the deal is a 25 percent rebate on production costs, as long as his company spends at least $413 million on the three films.

    “There’s no place in the world that we could make these sequels more cost effectively,” says producer Jon Landau. It is neither the archipelago’s volcanoes nor its glaciers that are attractive, because the “Avatar” movies will be shot indoors. Sure, Peter Jackson’s award-winning special effects infrastructure is there, but the deciding factor was the money. “We looked at other places,” says Landau. But in the end, “it was this rebate.”

    In exchange, the local economy will benefit hugely, Landau says, comparing the ripple effect to the boost that comes from new home construction. “We’re doing lumber, we’re catering for hundreds of people a day. We’re housing people in hotels. We’re going to a stationery store and tripling their business in a year.”

    The deal was “the best Christmas present we could have possibly hoped for,” says Alex Lee, an Auckland, New Zealand-based entertainment lawyer. The news is especially welcome because the local screen industry is facing a potential drought: The Starz pay TV series “Spartacus” finished this year and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” trilogy is set to wrap next year. Thanks to the “Avatar” sequels, the 1,100 workers at Weta Digital Ltd., the ground-breaking digital effects house Jackson co-founded in 1993, can keep plugging away through 2018.

    “It would have been a real shame if we had lost any of that talent and they had to move to follow the films,” says Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

    Driving the trend are powerful global forces squeezing the entertainment industry. Falling DVD sales are putting pressure on movie-making budgets, while the demand for ever-more-amazing special effects grows. The spread of technology and skills around the world is creating a huge number of special effects suppliers — some using cheaper labor than can be found in Hollywood.

    Government largesse has helped create mini-moguldoms in Vancouver, Montreal, London, New York and Wellington, all of which are aggressively one-upping each other to become the next new hotbed of activity. As the work spreads, branch offices of visual effects companies have opened up in new locations. Even though digital work is borderless, workers must live and be paid locally to generate the income taxes and spending that governments seek.

    The tax incentives race is destined to accelerate next year. State incentives in California — home to “Star Wars” pioneer Industrial Light & Magic — are too small to accommodate big-budget movies. Democratic Assembly member Raul Bocanegra is preparing a bill to expand their scope, but it could take months to get through committees, says his chief of staff, Ben Golombek.

    And the U.S. federal incentive, an arguably difficult-to-use tax deduction of up to $20 million per film or TV episode, is set to expire at the end of 2013.

    “Once our federal incentive ends in two weeks, you’re going to have a lot of people who are going to go elsewhere,” says Hal “Corky” Kessler, a tax incentives lawyer with Chicago-based Deutsch, Levy & Engel.

    Industry business leaders say they’re simply following the money.

    “This is no different than any other multinational business,” says Sir William Sargent, co-founder and CEO of Framestore, a London-based special effects business that worked on likely Oscar-contender, “Gravity,” and has offices in Montreal, New York and Los Angeles. “We’re just going to where our customers are.”

    Even if the U.S. moves to counteract growing incentives overseas, the efforts won’t prevent another jurisdiction from offering a bigger break.

    Joseph Chianese, executive vice president at consulting company EP Financial Solutions, says the competition to offer attractive incentives is intense. More than 30 countries and 44 U.S. states now offer tax breaks to filmmakers.

    The mix “changes daily, but it’s not going away,” Chianese says. “We have now trained a generation of filmmakers and TV makers that production doesn’t have to happen here anymore.”

    ___

    Perry reported from Wellington, New Zealand.

  • The Worst Product Flops of 2013: 24/7 Wall St.
    24/7 Wall St.: For every hot product launch this year, there has also been a high-profile launch that was a miserable failure. Many of these failures have involved great resources — including hundreds of hours of research and development and millions of dollars in marketing and advertising campaigns — as well as a legion of corporate egos and reputations put on the line.

    The editors at 24/7 Wall St. reviewed products and redesigns that were launched with high expectations this year but that have flopped catastrophically.

    (Click here to see the worst product flops of 2013)

    24/7 Wall St. only considered flopped products that met three criteria. First, the launching company must have invested significant resources in the product’s development and marketing. Second, the failure had to occur in 2013 and require significant response from the company. Third, the product’s failure had to end up inflicting sizable damage to the company’s bottom line, its reputation, or both.

    Some of the products on our list, like the Samsung Galaxy smartwatch, a combination of a communication device and a fashion statement, may have simply been ahead of their time. Others, like the see-through Lululemon yoga pants, were an embarrassment that top management unfortunately made worse. And then there were epic flops, like the HealthCare.gov Internet portal, which will probably end up as a case study in business, political science and sociology textbooks for years to come.

    A fair number of the flops came from the IT sector — not very surprising when you consider how rapidly technologies are evolving and how fickle consumers can be about the latest smartphone or tablet. But there were also tone-deaf exercises in creativity, like “The Lone Ranger,” which set new standards for cinematic fiascos.

    These are the worst product flops of 2013, according to 24/7 Wall St.:

  • WATCH: Why Binge-Watching TV Is A Really Good Idea
    Is anything better than a Saturday night filled with popcorn, pajamas and a fully charged device to binge-watch your favorite shows?

    Not according to a new study commissioned by Netflix. The findings showed that a whopping 61 percent of streaming television consumers admitted to binge-watching… and they don’t even feel bad about it. In fact, 73 percent of respondents said they feel positively about digesting television in this way. Cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken, who worked on this study, came on HuffPost Live to discuss the results.

    “In the days of the passive couch potato, you would sit on the couch and flip around the dial to find the best of your bad choices,” McCracken explained to host Mike Sacks. “This new model is much more chosen.”

    Other guests wholeheartedly agreed with McCracken’s analysis. “I definitely watch TV with a purpose now,” casting director Sara Bernstein told the host.

    The live discussion, which aired Monday, December 23, was presented by Netflix. Check out the full segment below:

  • Reddit Is Trying Something New: Making A Profit
    By Gerry Shih
    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Social news hub Reddit snagged an interview with Barack Obama last year. The big get for 2013 was reaching 90 million unique visitors a month, according to the company, on par with the likes of eBay. This season, even Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates joined its Secret Santa gift exchange.
    Now, the self-dubbed “Front Page of the Internet” is going for a milestone it has been trying to reach since its founding in 2005: profitability.
    After years of fitful experiments with paid subscriptions and display advertising, Reddit, with just 28 employees, has begun pouring resources into building an electronic bazaar.
    Company executives say they increasingly believe such a venue is the answer to their long search for reliable revenue, complicated in part by their fans’ mistrust of advertising.
    If Reddit Gifts, as the burgeoning bazaar is known, brings sustainable profitability, it would mark a turning point for an outfit that has exerted an outsized and sometimes controversial influence on Internet culture yet languished financially.
    Reddit estimates over 250,000 items have been purchased over the holiday, mostly as part of the 50 or so mostly geek-oriented Secret Santa gift exchanges – where zombie- or fantasy-themed presents, say, change hands – that users have created.
    Although Reddit won’t disclose details about how much money it has made from Reddit Gifts or its overall financial performance, it takes a 15 to 20 percent cut of every purchase.
    Usually priced between $10 and $25, the goods reflect Reddit’s young and geeky user base, from collages of cats in steampunk apparel to coffee mugs branded by Imgur.com, a repository of funny Web pictures, to an entire category dedicated to bacon-related products. More than 250 merchants supply gifts curated and “up-voted” by the community, much as articles and links are elevated on the Reddit site itself.
    ‘JUST GROW THINGS’
    The gift exchange made headlines this month after Gates signed up and surprised a Reddit user by sending her a travel book and a stuffed cow, symbol of the charity he donated to in her name.
    The company, which is hoping to position itself as a bona fide shopping destination year-round, estimates that only 14 percent of its marketplace revenue comes from the Christmas-season gift exchange programs.
    Yet those sales alone could put Reddit firmly in the black, said Dan McComas, the head of Reddit Gifts. He added that the company may choose to reinvest funds in e-commerce customer service and infrastructure.
    Chief Executive Yishan Wong, a former Facebook executive, said Reddit was “kind of” breaking even and denied that pressure was mounting on his team to turn a profit.
    In 2011, Reddit was spun out as an independently operated subsidiary by corporate parent Conde Nast, an old-line magazine empire best known for publishing Vanity Fair, Vogue and The New Yorker. Industry observers surmised at the time that the move was a step toward eventually selling off a stake to outside investors.
    “Our backers are saying, ‘Don’t worry about making money, just keep money and grow things,’” Wong said in an interview. “But I would like Reddit to be self-sustaining because I think that’s a healthy way for a business to run. It means that what you’re doing provides real value, and Reddit Gifts is so promising because it can do that.”
    Wong said he saw potential in Gifts earlier this year and began staffing up the effort to eight people.
    Although Wong is giddy about Gifts’ impact on its finances, what scale the business could reach remains unclear. Wong said he did not envision Reddit posing a threat to folksy arts and crafts e-tailers like Etsy; Reddit could carve out a space with a geekier sensibility.
    “I don’t believe in going after someone else’s market, but going after a new market of our own could be huge by itself,” Wong said.
    THE NICHE FACTOR
    Facebook struggled for years to develop a marketplace because its users aren’t in a shopping mindset when they log on.
    The same could be said for Reddit, known for its forums on politics or technology rather than for deals or flash sales, said Krista Garcia, an analyst at eMarketer, a consulting firm. A media company that enters the e-commerce business may also be caught off guard by the complexities of logistics or customer service, she added.
    “Reddit and commerce is an odd pairing, but there is more potential there versus Facebook because it’s more niche,” Garcia said. “I could see them tapping into a much more passionate audience. They need to bring the right products and merchandise that’s unusual or unique.”
    Reddit’s place at the vanguard of Internet culture – where jokes and memes gain traction alongside political debates or discussions of breaking news – is also far from assured in a fickle Web arena. Rivals like Digg.com have rapidly declined.
    The site’s hands-off attitude toward content has drawn criticism, particularly about some loosely moderated forums where, for example, pictures of women being beaten are freely disseminated.
    Reddit’s reputation also suffered after forum members mistakenly identified a missing Brown University student as a suspect in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. The rumor, which was recirculated by mainstream journalists, blazed across Twitter before authorities said they were seeking Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
    ‘FAMILY FRIENDLY’
    Conde Nast acquired Reddit for a reported $20 million in 2006 but largely left it running independently for five years, as its viewership ballooned fivefold.
    ComScore estimates it drew 21.7 million unique desktop visitors in November, up from 8.7 million a year ago. Reddit’s own estimate is more than four times that.
    The company struggled for years to find a suitable business model because its community identified with an antiestablishment ethos and distrusted heavy advertising, Wong said.
    Reddit Gifts was born in 2009 as an independent project created by McComas, a software developer and longtime Reddit user. He was brought on in 2011, and with Wong’s blessing has been hiring staff to work out of an $800-a-month apartment in Salt Lake City.
    Unlike Reddit’s sometimes laissez-faire approach to moderating its forums, Reddit Gifts will be curated to be “family friendly” as it grows, said McComas, who envisioned limiting the number of merchants to give them more individual exposure.
    Brian Linss, a former Yahoo technician who lives near Portland, said he has supported himself making TV- and film-inspired artwork since he began selling on Reddit six months ago.
    While he was able to make $1,500 to $2,000 during a “great” month on Etsy, Linss said he now makes four times as much in a good month, where his posters about the hit cable series “Breaking Bad” move swiftly.
    “Reddit is trying to assemble those merchants, and I think there’s a huge gap in the market for it,” Linss said. “People that didn’t have access to that geek culture before now have an easy portal to things that they’re not going to find at their local retailer.”
    (Editing by Edwin Chan, Martin Howell and Prudence Crowther)
  • Top 10 mobile stories of 2013
    It is clear that 2013 has been another huge year for the world of mobile. There have been phone, tablet and phablet launches, ups and downs, and a noticeable increase in the bring your own device trend that cannot be ignored
  • 12 Days of Gifts Day 3 – Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2014 iBook

    Today is Day 3 of Apple’ 12 Days of Gifts and today they have gifted all who have the app a copy of the Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2014 iBook for our reading pleasure.
    If you haven’t heard of Lonely Planet you need to give them a good look.  They produce some of the best travel guides out [...]

    The post 12 Days of Gifts Day 3 – Lonely Planet’s Best of Travel 2014 iBook appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Chromebooks surge at business in 2013, researcher says
    Google Chrome OS-based laptops accounted for 21 percent of all notebook sales through commercial channels, according to NPD Group. That’s not good news for Windows PCs.
  • Russian Astronauts Encounter Glitch With Earth-Watching Cameras Installed During Spacewalk

    Two Russian cosmonauts installed new HD camera eyes on the International Space Station during a record-setting spacewalk Friday (Dec. 27), only to have to return the devices inside due to an unspecified data glitch.

    Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy spent just over eight hours — a new endurance record for Russian spacewalks — working outside the space station to install the new Earth-watching cameras for the Canadian company UrtheCast as part of an agreement with Russia’s Federal Space Agency. But shortly after the installation, Russian engineers reported a problem receiving data from the imaging system.

    “It appears that we have seen an unsuccessful attempt at bringing those two cameras to life,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during spacewalk commentary. “The exact cause of the problem is not known at this time.” [See more photos from today's spacewalk]

    cameras spacewalkA high-resolution Urthecast Earth observation camera is seen on the exterior of the International Space Station after being installed by Russian spacewalkers Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy on Dec. 27, 2013.

    The new cameras are designed to snap detailed views of Earth from space for UrtheCast, which will then provide the imagery to customers via the Internet. They launched to the station in late November on the Russian Progress 53 cargo ship.

    “UrtheCast’s two cameras will stream unprecedented footage of our evolving Earth to anyone with an internet connection,” the company’s website promises. “In near real-time, you will be able to visit your favorite locales and learn about current events as they unfold.”

    The UrtheCast cameras include a high-resolution instrument on a swivel platform for detailed observations, and a medium-resolution instrument attached to a fixed platform. Both cameras were initially installed by Kotov and Ryazanskiy on their respective Earth-facing platforms outside the station’s Zvezda service module.

    “When the flight control team at the Russian Mission Control Center outside Moscow did not see the expected telemetry and electrical connectivity from the newly installed medium and high resolution cameras, Kotov and Ryazanskiy were directed to remove the cameras and return them to the airlock for further analysis,” NASA officials said in a statement. “The spacewalkers also were instructed to take detailed photographs of the electrical connectors mated earlier for additional review.”

    UrtheCast officials have said the company has up to $21 million worth of annual distribution agreements already lined up, and received letters of interest from potential Earth imagery customers that could be worth $79 million each year, according to a report by SpaceNews.

    cameras spacewalkCosmonauts Oleg Kotov, Expedition 38 commander, and flight engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy perform a spacewalk outside the International Space Station on Dec. 27, 2013. One of the cosmonauts is visible in this view from the other’s spacesuit helmet.

    Kotov and Ryazanskiy also installed a new earthquake-monitoring experiment, called Seismoprognoz, and removed an older experiment that tracked the seismic effects of high-energy particles in the near-Earth environment, NASA officials said. That older experiment, called Vsplesk, was installed in 2008. The spacewalkers disposed of it by tossing the experiment into space in a direction that won’t endanger the space station, NASA officials said.

    The spacewalkers also planned to jettison the frame of an old material exposure experiment, as well as retrieve a case of samples from a materials space exposure experiment during their work outside the International Space Station.

    Friday’s spacewalk was the third in a single week for the six astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station. It marked the fifth career spacewalk for Kotov — who currently commands the station’s Expedition 38 crew — and the second orbital excursion for Ryazanskiy, a flight engineer. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins and Rick Mastracchio, as well as Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, round out the crew.

    The previous two spacewalks, on Dec. 21 and Dec. 24, were performed by American astronauts to replace a vital coolant pump on the space station following a Dec. 11 malfunction. Today’s excursion was unrelated to those earlier events, NASA officials said.

    In 2013, astronauts and cosmonauts performed a total of 11 spacewalks outside the International Space Station. Friday’s spacewalk lasted eight hours and seven minutes, making it the longest Russian spacewalk in history.

    The world record for the longest spacewalk is eight hours and 56 minutes, a title won by NASA astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms in March 2001 while working at the space station.

    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.

  • Message In A Bottle Found In Arctic Glacier Ultimately Reveals Global Warming In Region (PHOTO)
    More than half a century ago, on July 10, 1959, American glaciologist and explorer Paul T. Walker was working in a remote region of the Canadian Arctic, the Los Angeles Times reports. In a quirky stroke of genius, Walker left a handwritten note to any scientists who might come behind him, and he stuck the message in a bottle under a pile of rocks.

    “To Whom it May Concern: This and a similar cairn 21.3 feet to the west were set on July 10, 1959,” the note states. “The distance from this cairn to the glacier edge about 4 ft. from the rock floor is 168.3 feet.”

    (Story continues below)
    messgae in a bottle

    Walker hoped that anyone who found the note might take new measurements and send them to his lab at Ohio State University, the Times reports. Sadly, Walker suffered a stroke mere weeks after he left the note and died a few months later. But 54 years later, his scientific mission lives on thanks to researchers who uncovered the message in a bottle.

    Dr. Warwick F. Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec City, revealed the find earlier in December and said reading the famous names of Walker and his colleague Albert Crary gave him goosebumps.

    Vincent, a biologist, and his colleague Denis Sarrazin found the note over the summer in a very remote area near the edge of a glacier, he told GrindTV Outdoor.

    “It’s a story about climate change, but it is also a story about the incredibly brave and strong men who worked in this extreme high Arctic environment in the 1950s—back before GPS and sat phone technology,” Vincent told the outlet. “This is the most remote part of North America, and the coldest coastal zone (average temperature -18C). This also makes the evidence of substantial glacial retreat of great interest.”

    The pair carried out Walker’s wish, measuring the distance to the glacier in question, just as Walker had done decades earlier. Vincent and Sarrazin’s measurement revealed that the glacier had retreated 233 feet since 1954.

    While the effect of global warming on glaciers is not a new concept, Vincent told The Huffington Post the discovery is still significant.

    “The substantial retreat of the glacier, based on our measurement on 18 July 2013 relative to that by Paul Walker on 10 July 1959, is not especially surprising given that glacier retreat as a consequence of global warming has been well documented at many places around the world,” Vincent explained via email. “But northern Ellesmere Island has one of the world’s coldest coastal climates, with average air temperatures that are similar to coastal Antarctica (where I have worked previously), and glacial melting might be less expected in such a place of extreme cold.”

    Given the fact that there is still such noticeable loss in glacial ice, this special message should be heeded by scientists around the world, Vincent added.

    “Paul Walker’s message from the past is a wake-up call to how fast our global climate is already changing, and it signals much larger changes in the future that may affect us all,” he said.

  • Ancient Vineyards Discovered In Spain Date Back 1,000 Years, Researchers Say

    Traces of ancient vineyards that date back 1,000 years were discovered in the terraced fields of a medieval village in Spain, according to a new archaeological study.

    Researchers from the University of the Basque Country found evidence that fields within the medieval settlement of Zaballa were once intensely used to grow grape vines.

    “Archaeo-botanical studies of seed remains found in the excavations and pollen studies have provided material evidence of the existence of vine cultivation in a relatively early period like the 10th century,” study author Juan Antonio Quirós-Castillo said in a statement. [In Photos: Archaeology Around the World]

    The researchers’ examination of the fields, which are still visible in the landscape, suggests they were more agriculturally suited to growing vines, rather than cereal crops, he added. The archaeologists also unearthed metal tools that were likely used to maintain the ancient vineyards.

    The village of Zaballa was abandoned in the 15th century, largely after local lords operating under a newly created rent-seeking system drove out many of the town’s settlers. Zaballa is one of more than 300 deserted settlements collectively known as Araba-Alava. Today, archaeologists from the University of the Basque Country are trying to reconstruct the region’s rural heritage by combing the remains of these deserted settlements.

    “The important thing is not just their number, but that in the decade that we have been working on this project, extensive work has been done on nearly half a dozen of them, and work at other levels has been done on nearly a hundred,” Quirós-Castillo said.

    As such, the researchers are compiling some of the most important archaeological records of medieval history throughout northern Spain, he said. “In other words, to see how the peasant community itself gradually adapts to the political and economic changes that take place in the medieval context in which these places are located,” he added.

    Quirós-Castillo and his colleagues also studied another abandoned settlement in Araba-Alava called Zornotegi. They discovered that the terraced fields in this village were devoted to cultivating cereals and grains.

    “Zornotegi has a completely different history,” Quirós-Castillo said. “Even though it was founded at more or less the same time, it is a much more egalitarian social community in which such significant social differences are not observed, and nor is the action of manorial powers which, in some way, undermined the balance of the community.”

    The researchers are pushing for the Araba-Alava settlements to be regarded as part of archaeological heritage, in order to preserve their rich history.

    “The space for traditional crops, still easily recognizable in the landscapes closest to us, are historical spaces brimming with explanatory significance to help us understand the societies of the past; indeed, they require attention which they have not had until now,” Quirós-Castillo said.

    The discoveries were reported in a special issue of the journal Quaternary International.

    Follow Denise Chow on Twitter @denisechow. Follow LiveScience @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

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

  • Cell Phone Carriers Didn't Use Tech Fixes To Combat NSA Spying: Expert
    By Jim Finkle
    (Reuters) – The world’s mobile phone carriers have failed to implement technology fixes available since 2008 that would have thwarted the National Security Agency’s ability to eavesdrop on many mobile phone calls, a cyber security expert says.
    Karsten Nohl, chief scientist with Berlin’s Security Research Labs, told Reuters ahead of a highly anticipated talk at a conference in Germany that his firm discovered the issue while reviewing security measures implemented by mobile operators around the world.
    Nohl also told Reuters that the carriers had failed to fully address vulnerabilities that would allow hackers to clone and remotely gain control of certain SIM cards. Those vulnerabilities were pointed out in July.
    While the German cryptologist criticized carriers for failing to implement technology to protect customers from surveillance as well as fraud, he said he does not think they did so under pressure from spy agencies.
    “I couldn’t imagine it is complicity. I think it is negligence,” he said. “I don’t want to believe in a worldwide conspiracy across all worldwide network operators. I think it is individual laziness and priority on network speed and network coverage and not security.”
    A spokeswoman for the GSM Association, which represents about 800 mobile operators worldwide, said she could not comment on Nohl’s criticism before seeing his presentation on the topic at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg, Europe’s biggest annual conference on hacking, security and privacy issues.
    Nohl uncovered the issue while working on a project known as the GSM Security Map, which evaluates security of mobile operators around the globe. The map, which can be found at www.gsmmap.org, is partially funded with a grant from the U.S. government’s Open Technology Fund, according to Nohl.
    None of the carriers surveyed had implemented measures for thwarting a method that allows the NSA to eavesdrop on most mobile calls by unscrambling a widely used encryption technology known as A5/1, Nohl said.
    The Washington Post reported on December 13 that documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed the agency can crack A5/1. (http://wapo.st/JolNxy ) Nohl said that method would have been blocked if carriers had applied two patches released in 2008.
    Nohl is credited with leading research teams that have uncovered major flaws in mobile technology in recent years.
    In July, he reported on security vulnerabilities that would allow hackers to gain remote control of and clone certain mobile SIM cards. The unprecedented work prompted a United Nations group known as the International Telecommunications Union, which advises nations on cyber security plans, to urge the industry to take quick action to tackle the vulnerabilities.
    Once a hacker copies a SIM, it can be used to make calls and send text messages impersonating the owner of the phone, said Nohl, who has a doctorate in computer engineering from the University of Virginia.
    A few weeks after Nohl disclosed his findings, he said it looked like most carriers had implemented fixes to prevent such attacks.
    Yet he said on Friday that while conducting research for the GSM Security Map project, he learned on closer inspection that those fixes still left plenty of room for attacks, making customers on many networks vulnerable.
    “I need to go back on what I said. The majority of the operators only addressed the symptoms, not the root cause,” Nohl said.
    He said that his firm launched the GSM Security Map project to pressure mobile operators around the world to boost security. The effort will also push researchers like himself not to be complacent.
    “We as researchers must not give up so easily like we did in July, when we said ‘The network operators addressed it. We are so proud. We changed the world,’” Nohl said.
    The group will continue to update the map, which has detailed reports for each country surveyed that describe security of individual carriers.
    In the map’s initial release on Friday, the country whose networks were rated the most secure was France.
    Not all countries are surveyed, however, because the group does not yet have enough data.
    (Reporting by Jim Finkle; additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler)
  • The Most Cringeworthy Autocorrects Of December 2013 (NSFW)
    Well, December was a doozy.

    Check out some of the best/worst Autocorrect FAILs of the month, courtesy of Damn You Autocorrect, below.

  • Man With Down Syndrome Asks For Christmas Cards, Gets 1,800 Of Them (VIDEO)
    Elliot Shirback had just one wish for Christmas. The 25-year-old, who has Down syndrome, wanted 100 Christmas cards.

    “He was sad one day; all I wanted to do was uplift him,” Shirback’s mom, Anne Daggett, told Time Warner Cable News, formerly called YNN. “I said ‘Elliot, what is it you want for Christmas this year?’ He went, ‘I just want some cards, Mom.’”

    Wanting to fulfill her son’s wish, Daggett took to Facebook last week to ask her family and friends for help.

    “If anyone can send him a card, he would love it,” she wrote in her Facebook appeal. “He has the biggest heart in the world.”

    Daggett, who lives in Lewiston, N.Y., with her son, told Time Warner Cable News that she had expected him to receive about “35 cards at best” as a result of her social media request.

    But she was sorely mistaken.

    Within days, her Facebook post went viral and Christmas cards — from all across the country — came pouring in.

    By Christmas morning, Shirback had reportedly received more than 1,800 cards, mostly from strangers. CBS News says that the young man received a Christmas card “from nearly every state in the U.S.

    “It makes me happy,” Shirback told Time Warner Cable News of the card onslaught. “It’s like a gift, like somebody loves and cares about you.”

  • 'Orange Is The New Black' Creator Jenji Kohan Has No Idea How Popular Her Show Is
    Everyone tuned in to “Orange Is The New Black” this year, right? Maybe, but Netflix isn’t releasing any dirty details.

    In an interview with The New York Times, series creator Jenji Kohan admitted she had no idea how well “Orange Is The New Black” had done ratings-wise.

    “They say things like, ‘We’re very pleased’ … they’re very cryptic,” she said, adding, “I’m finding the dark very restful and easy on the eyes.”

    In case you’re a little late to the party, “Orange Is The New Black” follows Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a privileged woman who lands in a women’s prison thanks to a drug-related crime she committed a decade earlier.

    Based on the true story of Piper Kerman, Kohan knew Kerman’s prison tales would make for a hit TV series shortly after reading her book.

    “When I read Piper Kerman’s book, I thought, ‘This is a way into a really interesting world. It’s the yuppie’s eye view to get you in there,’” Kohan said, according to Collider. “If you go to a network and say, ‘I wanna do prison stories about black women and Latino women and old women,’ you’re not gonna make a sale. But, if you’ve got this blonde girl going to prison, you can get in there, and then you can tell all the stories.”

    Season 2 of “Orange Is The New Black” will be available on Netflix in 2014.

  • Briefly: 10 Indie Mac games for $20, new Times Square Ball app
    Macgamestore.com has announced its Indie Mac Bundle promotion, a ten-game collection variety of independently-produced games available for 80 percent off their original prices. The Indie Mac Bundle includes Lilly Looking Through, Type:Rider, Journey of a Roach, Knock-Knock, PixelJunk Monsters, Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Doorways, Luxuria Superbia, The Few and Avadon. Bought separately, the ten games would cost over $100, but until January 5, the bundle is available for $20.
        



  • JibJab's 2013 Year in Review Is Side-Splittingly Irreverent
    We get it. You’re a pop culture punchline connoisseur. You can recite every twerking reference and every Carlos Danger joke by heart. Half-hearted Obamacare cracks are more of a letdown than the actual site launch was.

    But as always, JibJab.com can be trusted to push the envelope farther than its competition. Where else will you find world leaders Nelson Mandela and Margaret Thatcher bickering while in line for the afterlife?

    Despite the floods, typhoons, and Sharknados, have no fear: we guarantee that you’ll be doubled over laughing by the time the credits roll.

Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • My Five Apps: Mike's boardgame conversions
    There’s no debating it — now that the various mobile operating systems have matured, gaming is quite a draw on the current batch of smartphones and tablets. A niche category of these games are “board game” translations. Board games on iOS and Android go so much farther than classic offerings such as Monopoly and Scrabble — a number of what have been dubbed “Eurogames” have made an appearance on the mobile ecosystems, and with them come savings from purchasing them digitally rather than as a boxed physical copy of the game. This edition of “My Five Apps” will cover five of my favorite board g
        



  • How To Send Maps to Your iPhone From Your Mac

    With the release of iOS 7 and OS X Mavericks, the inter-device communication on Apple devices continues to improve.  That is evident in the Maps app that now is on both platforms.  The Maps app for iPhone and iPad has taken some deserved criticism since its debut in iOS 6 but it along with its [...]

    The post How To Send Maps to Your iPhone From Your Mac appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Apple patent suggests Siri could soon search iPhone photos
    Apple may in a future version of iOS give users the ability to search for pictures on iPads and iPhones using Siri, the platform’s built-in digital assistant. This according to a patent unearthed by AppleInsider that describes “Voice-Based Image Tagging and Searching,” a process assorting “natural language” text strings with photographs present on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod.
        



  • Rap Genius Banished From Google Search Results Over SEO Practices
    Google appears to have cracked down hard on a rap lyrics website that was allegedly trying to game its search algorithm.

    RapGenius.com disappeared from top Google search results on Wednesday, TechCrunch first reported. As of Thursday afternoon, a Google search for “rap genius” didn’t bring up a link to rapgenius.com until the sixth page of results.

    rap genius

    Founded in 2009 by three Yale graduates, Rap Genius bills itself as a “hip hop Wikipedia,” a compendium of song lyrics annotated with notes on their meanings. The site made headlines last year when it landed $15 million in funding.

    The website seems to have incurred Google’s wrath after blogger John Marbach published an email from Rap Genius encouraging affiliate writers to throw links about Justin Bieber into any random post in order to get more traffic.

    Google’s webmaster guidelines note that “any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation.”

    The Rap Genius founders responded with an open letter apologizing to Google for their SEO practices, and arguing that other lyrics sites are guilty of similar violations.

    TechCrunch reported that the two companies are working toward a resolution. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    In a different vein, Rap Genius has caught flack in the past for “translating” hip-hop lyrics in a racially insensitive way. As Gawker wrote last year:

    Another big issue with Rap Genius is that it trades on a particular noxious brand of humor that has infected the internet for years: white people “translating” rap lyrics in arch, academic prose … The presumption — one that partly fuels Rap Genius, if even inadvertently — is that rappers are too dumb to use “correct” English. A very early instance of the joke was a chain e-mail from the 1990s that offered a dry translation of Biggie’s “One More Chance (remix)” under the guise of a competition in an Oakland school district that asked students to “translate ebonics.”

  • VIDEO: Rory's technology review of the year
    The BBC’s Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones looks back at the year in tech
  • IBM: Purchases from iOS devices outpace Android by 5:1 on Christmas
    Purchases made from iPhones and iPads reportedly accounted for more than 83 percent of online shopping from mobile devices on Christmas Day, according to data published by IBM. Owners of iOS devices also outspent their Android-touting counterparts by a factor of nearly 2:1, with average purchases of approximately $94 versus $48 per order.
        



  • Use Headsets to Cut Trhough the Sea of Sounds
    It’s the day after Christmas. There are tiny paw prints on your roof, cookie crumbs near the fireplace and a cacophony of sounds coming from all of the new electronic and mobile devices.

    Want some peace and quiet? Read on!

    We have been playing with four sets of over-the-ear headphones that will make your surroundings a bit quieter.

    The gamers in your family may enjoy the RIG from Plantronics ($129.99). Although these weren’t the best for handling music, they’re definitely the most versatile of the quartet.

    The RIG allows you to play games on your PC, tablet, Xbox or PlayStation while taking calls on your smartphone. There’s no need to stop doing one thing to do the other. The key to this is contained in a separate “mixer” that allows you to switch between modes by hitting a toggle switch.

    Although the audio is good, don’t expect this set to rival the more expensive headsets, because they weren’t designed exclusively for music. But, if you want mind-numbing sound from your games, while still being able to take calls from your girlfriend and play your favorite tunes, this is the way to go.

    Other key features include:

    • Two interchangeable microphones. One’s a boom mic for games and the other is an inline mic with mute and call control
    • There are three equalizer profiles: pure, intensify and seismic
    • It features 40 mm speaker drivers

    The Street by 50 ANC headphones from SMS Audio ($279) were, by far, the best noise-cancelling audio headphones we’ve played with. We were delightfully surprised by the clarity and range of these over-the-ear headphones, which is usually lacking in noise-cancelling models.

    It’s obvious that great thought went into everything from the impressive packaging to the sleek style of the headphones., which features a removable cord and microphone for easy storage. They also come with a hard shell case instead of the usual leather-style pouch that is included with many of its competitors.

    A few of the key features include:

    • An adjustable headband
    • They’re foldable to fit easily into their case, briefcase or purse
    • An in-line microphone to take calls and adjust volume
    • A micro USB charging cable (although the active noise cancelling feature will still work (minimally) if not charged)
    • Soft leather cushions
    • 40 mm drivers

    If you need great sound without breaking the budget, check out the new JBL WR2.4 headphones ($99.95).

    This is basically a wireless kit with a transmitter hooked up to a sound source and the headphones becoming a wireless receiver. The ones we played with worked beautifully at distances up to about 70 feet. The folks at JBL say you can get crystal-clear sound at distances up to 100 feet, but we noticed a bit of static and a few breakups when we went over 70. It’s also best if you use the headphones in the same room as the transmitter.

    The sound quality was excellent without the usual pops and pings you hear with other wireless headset. Also, the transmitter has a charging dock for the headphones, so there’s no need to plug them into a separate outlet to recharge the batteries or any extra cables to fuss with.

    Key features of these headphones include:

    • A 3.5 mm stereo to dual RCA audio cable for connecting your audio system to the transmitter
    • 32-ohm impedance
    • 2.4 GHz digital bandwidth
    • Semi-closed back acoustics
    • 18 Hz to 20 kHz sound range
    • Padded ear cups and a fully adjustable headband

    Last, but not least, are the Jabra REVO headphones ($199.99). We played with the wired and wireless versions of these headsets and, for pure sound quality, preferred the one’s that didn’t cut the cable. The wireless set, although delivering great sound within about 25 feet of our sound source, experienced a bit of static and drop outs when we moved farther away or went into the next room.

    The wired version, on the other hand, delivered the pure, crisp sound we have come to expect from Jabra. What makes these headphones different from the others is the ability to connect them to a second headset, so you can share your music without disturbing everyone else around you.

    Key features include:

    • Full spectrum Dolby sound featuring the Dolby Digital Plus sound app
    • In-line controls for audio, track selection and answering phone calls
    • An ultra-flexible headband and reinforced, fabric cables
    • They’re foldable for compact storage
    • Bluetooth and NFC compatibility and autoparing (for the wireless version)

    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.

  • Bob Menendez Calls For Accountability In Target Breach
    JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — Sen. Robert Menendez wants the federal government to hold companies accountable when their customers’ financial information is stolen.

    The New Jersey Democrat is taking on the topic after last week’s revelation that information about 40 million Target customer accounts had been stolen. At a news conference Thursday outside a Target store in Jersey City, Menendez said he wants to make sure retailers are “putting their customers ahead of profits.” He announced that he had requested details from the Federal Trade Commission on whether it can fine firms for security breaches and whether laws should be changed to protect consumer data.

    “We need to know if the FTC has the teeth to hold retailers who failed to protect consumers’ information accountable,” Menendez said.

    Menendez said he “has a feeling” that the agency won’t be able to levy fines or penalties against companies. When a data breach occurred at Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx in 2006, the FTC wasn’t able to fine the stores’ parent company as part of a settlement agreement.

    “Our country’s consumers depend upon safe and secure transactions, and especially at this crucial time of year, our country’s retailers must commit to fulfilling that expectation,” Sen. Menendez wrote to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.

    Menendez said he wants the FTC to recommend if further legislative action is needed to help protect consumers against having their financial information stolen.

    Menendez said if a company doesn’t invest in security to ensure customer data can’t be stolen, “then you have to question why a company would not do that.”

    He said he may hold hearings on the Target breach.

    Target Corp. spokeswoman Katie Boylan said in an email the company is “focused on partnering with the authorities who are investigating this crime against Target and our guests, and helping our guests understand what they need to know and what steps they can take.”

    The security breach lasted from Nov. 27 to Dec. 15 and affected customers in Target’s U.S. stores.

    The retailer said it hosted a conference call for state attorneys general Monday and will have a follow-up call Jan. 6.

    Target announced Monday the Department of Justice is investigating what is being called the second-largest data breach in U.S. history. It also said it is working with the Secret Service to determine how the hack happened.

    Customers have already filed lawsuits against the company.

  • Do You Model Unhealthy Tech Habits?
    2013-12-23-Tech_Mom.jpg
    Photo: Laura St. John

    From generation to generation, we teach our kids healthy habits. Eat right. Exercise. Brush your teeth. But when it comes to your technology habit, you could be setting a bad example — without even knowing it.

    Are You Hooked?

    Picture this: You are playing with your kids and you hear your phone’s familiar chime — the one that means you’ve got a new message. Do you check it?

    When you interrupt what you’re doing to check a new message, you’re silently implying to your live, pint-size audience that the virtual message is more important than what’s going on at that moment. You also become split — half of yourself enters the virtual world while half of yourself stays in your real-life world.

    My worst habits are texting and checking my email, but I don’t want to be a half-mom to my boys! I know I’m in the wrong when my youngest son wants to grab and eat my phone, or my middle son’s voice grows louder with each “Mom, Mom, MOM!!” I snap out of it quickly, and put that phone away, out of sight, so I can be 100 percent real-life mommy.

    The Tech Addiction

    The definition of habit made me laugh (at myself and other habitual users I know). A habit is an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Ha! Ok, yeah — almost involuntary message checking — that’s me. And by just looking around, I know I’m not alone.

    We can’t totally blame ourselves about our tech habits. We’re living through an exciting technology revolution, right? As it continues to unfold, and we are handed technology with new bells and whistles, we develop new habits. They’re just not always good ones.

    How to Avoid It

    The simplest way to avoid setting unhealthy technology habits is to unplug during times that deserve your full attention. For me, that means no technology allowed near the table at dinner time. It also means leaving my laptop closed and my phone put away during the precious few hours of family time each night.

    Setting a tech boundary like this helps foster a good routine each night for my kids, and it helps me disconnect and unwind from a busy day of work. It took me just a few weeks to change my technology habits. I learned that all of my new text messages and emails — even the ones marked urgent(!) — will patiently wait for me.

    Challenge Yourself Today

    Monitor your tech habits for one day. If you are not sure if you are modeling any unhealthy tech habits, fast-forward a few years ahead. If you shudder at the thought of the teenage version of your child doing what you’re doing — such as checking his phone while eating dinner, or even worse, while driving — then you better break your unhealthy tech habit now!

  • Review: Logitech PowerShell iOS game controller
    We here at the MacNN testing labs have thought for some time that the iOS ecosystem is ideal for resurrecting old franchises with one notable exception — controls. Old-school gaming had either a control pad or keyboard and mouse in mind, and neither translate well to a small touchscreen. Apple is evidently aware of this situation, and with iOS 7, comes native OS support for a “Made For i” specified controller. Amongst the first wave of these controllers is the Logitech PowerShell controller and battery combination, and MacNN has played with it for a while now. Check to see what we thought abo
        



  • Is Apple Introducing a New Generation of "Dumb" Users?
    As a Mac user myself, I’m often the first to snap at anybody telling me “Linux is better!” or asking “Why did you purchase that machine for £2,000 when you could have got more in a PC for less?!”, but is there something behind this? Peer pressure has been present in the industry since… well… the first computer was built, and I often see many of my friends and colleagues purchasing new luxuries just because their peers are. The Macintosh is a prime example. Some of my friends use the term “convert” when they talk about me recommending the Mac to Windows users and I guess there is some truth in this. I don’t have any issue with Windows though — quite the contrary, I actually fell in love with Windows 8 when it was released last year.

    Are the people who “fall in love” with Macs stupid, gullible individuals? Well this argument could be used with any fanatic of any operating system. But there’s one thing that possibly makes the Mac user more “dumb”, as it were: the incredibly closed nature of the system — which even Steve Wozniak, the co- founder of Apple, complained about when he met me for dinner in October. Woz loves everything open-source and fights for his rights as both a software engineer and a human being. We discussed how he always told Steve Jobs that the system should be more open, to allow more customization and collaboration between its users. However, as we all know, Jobs disagreed with this and perhaps it was one of the most negative strains on their relationship at Apple. In the end, Jobs got his way (as usual), and decided to take some of the control away from his users, in order to deliver a more secure, friendlier experience. As a result of this, Linux and other FOSS (Free and Open-Source Software) Unix users, especially, have been complaining that there is much less room to innovate and build upon the system.

    When creating either Mac or iOS applications, developers are limited by what they can do. It’s slightly better for Mac devs, because they don’t have to publish their application through the Mac App Store and therefore they can freely use private APIs, but those developing for iOS don’t have a choice. They are only allowed to do what Apple’s tells them they can. For example, apps cannot interact with any of the system settings (brightness, WiFi and Bluetooth are just a few) and send/receive data with other applications locally. On one hand, many of us can just look over at the Android users huddled over in one corner of the room, joyfully pretending that they love their devices and wouldn’t change them for anything, and see that actually 80 percent of their apps are spammy, useless and poorly-designed (ok, so that’s a bit of an understatement). So iOS wouldn’t be iOS without it’s locked system — only allowing apps of supposedly superb quality to be let through the gated doors of the App Store, but then there are some really cool ideas for apps which just can’t happen because of the restrictions.

    One example of this was Soundwave. I have been following Soundwave for a while now, ever since Stephen Fry spoke about it in London at the Regent Street Apple Store. Their Irish founder, Brendan O’Driscoll, told me that at first he wasn’t able to upload the app to the App Store, having spent months building the concept from scratch. O’Driscoll then emailed Apple’s Senior Vice President of iTunes, Eddy Cue, to see if he could “pull some strings” and allow their app into the ever-growing store. He gave them some tips on how they could change their app slightly to adhere to Apple’s guidelines and they were finally able to release it. The app had over 165,000 downloads in just shy of two-and-a- half weeks back in July and has since had many more, with backing from Stephen Fry, U2′s Bono and Apple’s Co-Founder Steve Wozniak.

    soundwave

    One of the biggest hinderances of the Mac, is the slow disappearance of the command-line. Although Terminal still exists — who really uses it on a day-to-day basis? A considerable amount of my friends would do so, but they’re software developers, not every-day users, like my parents for example.

    “Command-line?! What the hell is that?”

    Without a proper, fully-functional command-line implemented into the operating system, people are no longer able to sort their own issues. If there is a unique bug in the deep layers of code on a Mac, the Apple Store geniuses will just shush you and say, “No worries dear, we’ll get a replacement in for you this afternoon!” As lovely as the “geniuses” are — they aren’t geniuses at all, and neither are the average Mac users. They’re taught to visit the Apple Store every time they have a problem with their operating system; something that many can’t do as they might not have a store located within 25 miles to their house. The horrible truth is, Mac users are pretty stuffed if something goes wrong and they can’t get to speak to a genius. To even get a replacement you must visit one of Apple’s stores to prove that your device is broken. I have often noticed, that with Linux users — they often see bugs as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn something new and fix an issue themselves. As Linux is open-source, they can then commit the changes in a new update. Many of these users are called “hackers,” but as many influential names in the industry (including Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg) have touched upon, hacking is not necessarily evil and some don’t even consider that when they use the word. Everybody is happy, no?

    Certainly some of the biggest advantages of having a Mac must be the intuitive display, the beautiful glossed icons which bounce up and down to make you forget you were ever waiting for anything and having pretty much everything given to you on a plate. But do you use a Mac, and if so, is it making you dumb?

  • This 4-Minute Speed Run Of 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3' Is Just Obscene
    Thought your Christ Air into a Rowley Darkslide followed by a front manual combo was impressive? Pfft.

    Cue the nostalgia and watch as this gamer takes down “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3″ in a blistering 4-minutes — spelling S-K-A-T-E, collecting secret tapes and smashing high scores at the speed of light. The word “God Mode” certainly comes to mind.

    [h/t Digg]

  • A Peek Into The Future -ITP's Winter Show
    Looking into the future is always tricky, but this year I’m more confident than in years past about where things are heading – and what lies ahead.

    I began my journey into the future with trip to NYU’s ITP Winter Show. ITP is a graduate program that melds art and science. Student’s projects are focused on physical things – making ideas into objects that you can touch and explore. Over the years I’v found the ITP Winter Show to be a great way to see what students are exploring, without the limitations or barriers that companies and even startups sometimes face. ITP is pure creative thought made real.

    This year’s show was more playful, more childlike, in some ways more random than years past. A proliferation of toys, characters, even puppets filled 4th floor of the NYU loft classroom space in lower Manhattan. In years past, the ITP show was a festival of silicon, LED’s and software. This year the most prevalent material was wood, followed closely behind by fabric. There were instruments, devices that mixed physical and electronic to make music – connecting user’s hands to water, pyramids of sound, even clanking kitchen objects.

    2013-12-26-ITP1.png

    If there was an overarching change from shows past, this one was much less commercial – with few ideas that seemed like they were headed for a life as a business. Rather, these were explorations of art, ideas, forms, and materials. Weavy was listed as “The Smart Loom” by Kristina Budelis, Danqing Wang, Pamela Liou, and Tan Ma. The idea was to teach weaving. The push of a button operates motors to automate the loom for new students. “Origami Fabrics” by Anne-Marie Lavigne were incredibly rigid objects made in fabric, inspired by origami folds. And the social issues of the day were represented by “NYC: FRSK04″ a robot that automated the controversial NYC “Stop and Frisk” practice by students Sam Lavigne & Fletcher Bach.

    2013-12-26-ITP2.png

    There were exceptions of course. NapChat (bit.ly/napchat) was a cuddly child’s doll that can have its audio programed remotely so parents out of town can record bedtime stories. Expect this is ToysRus by next Christmas.

    But overall this years ITP let business and tech take a back seat – as art, exploration, music, and storytelling stepped up. What does this mean? That students are feeling more confident in their ability to get jobs, and don’t need ITP to be a place to focus group business ideas? That’s one impression. Another is that technology, for tech’s sake, is now blending into the background Yes, we can make it blink, or spin, or talk – but so what? This years ITP show felt more organic, more real, more edgy, and less formed. Overall, more raw… in a good way.

  • 'Game Of Thrones' Is The Most Pirated Show For The Second Year In A Row
    Winter is always coming for pirates.

    In TorrentFreak’s annual look at the year’s most pirated television shows, “Game Of Thrones” took home the “top” spot for the second year in a row.

    With 5.9 million estimated BitTorrent downloads for the season 3 finale, “Game of Thrones” easily beat out competition that included “Breaking Bad” (4.2 million) and “The Walking Dead” (3.6 million). Unlike “The Walking Dead” or “Breaking Bad” however, “Game Of Thrones,” “Homeland” and “Dexter” — all shows on premium cable — were the only shows in the top 10 where the number of estimated BitTorrent downloads exceeded the estimated number of TV viewers.

    Piracy has become an increasingly useful way for companies to monitor the popularity of their shows. In September, Netflix VP of Content Acquisition Kelly Merryman told Dutch news site Tweakers that Netflix looks at what’s doing well on piracy sites when deciding which series to acquire.

    Even Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes sees a silver lining in the rampant piracy for “Game Of Thrones.” “That’s better than an Emmy,” Bewkes said during an August earnings call in reference to “Game Of Thrones” being the most pirated show of 2012. “Our experience is, it all leads to more [subscribers].”

    Still, not every exec or producer is touting the benefits of piracy. Earlier this month, “The Walking Dead” Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd expressed the opposite sentiment at Variety’s Content Protection Summit.

    “There’s a mistaken belief by many of my peers that piracy is somehow good, that viewers will develop a habit to pay for it,” Hurd said during a Q&A at the event. “I’m not sure they really understand other than anecdotal evidence that their ratings go up that the people who pirate are not then going to choose legal downloads or legal viewing in the future.”

  • SPEAK UP WITH JIMMY: Lessons from the Justine Sacco AIDS Tweet (VIDEO)
    2013-12-23-JustineSaccotweet.jpg

    On December 20, 2013, PR executive Justine Sacco set off a Twitter firestorm with her insensitive tweet – sent right before boarding a flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa – hoping that she would not get AIDS in Africa. In this “Digitally Speaking” segment, I talk about lessons we can learn from this “Tweet Heard Round the World”:

    1. Think twice before you speak on social media.
    2. Controversies can provide opportunities to help good causes.
    3. Forgiveness is part of the human spirit.

    WATCH:

  • eBooks vs. Print: Actually a Nonissue
    When I picked up the current Scientific American my eye was immediately drawn to the cover line, “Google Is Changing the Way You Think.” Given the sensationalist tone that often accompanies explorations of how Internet use affects cognition (even Nicholas Carr’s sedate 2007 discussion of the topic was entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Atlantic editors hoping to boost sales), the article was a measured summation of studies that indicate a) we often go online to answer questions we used to ask friends and b) relying on the Internet for information we or our friends used to remember means while we have access to more information than ever, we know less.

    Ever since the “Web” became a household word in the early nineties, there’s been a great deal of fretting, if not full-blown bursts of rage, over our increasing reliance on computers and related technologies to inform, entertain or distract ourselves, and the consequences for our intellectual culture or the functioning of our brains. The most notable in recent months was Jonathan Franzen’s hissy fit in The Guardian about our “own media-saturated, technology-crazed, apocalypse-haunted historical moment,” in which ” the physical book goes on the endangered-species list…responsible book reviewers go extinct… independent bookstores disappear, [and] literary novelists are conscripted into Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion.” And–apparently one of the bitterest pill of all–Salman Rushdie, “who ought to have known better, [has] succumb[ed] to Twitter.”

    Could those of us who remember the pre-Internet world take a collective breath and calm down? The physical book is alive and well. Booksale statistics show purchasers of e-books buy printed books as well. A recent market survey found readers under 24, the so-called “digital natives,” actually prefer printed books to e-books. Independent bookstores are enjoying an unexpected renaissance. And while I’m disappointed by the decreasing number of paid opportunities for critics and the near extinction of newspaper book review sections, there’s no lack of online venues for quality criticism, such as Full Stop, The Critical Flame, and The Rumpus (full disclosure: I review for The Rumpus). As for Franzen’s disdain for “Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion,” writers have always had to self-promote in some form, whether it’s Ben Jonson writing smarmy poems to the Countess of Rutland or Ernest Hemingway posing for beer ads in Life.

    And I am anything but a techno-utopian. I think all the money and effort spent on initiatives like One Laptop Per Child would have been put to better use in training opportunities for teachers from communities in the developing world as well as providing their schools with books and classroom supplies. And I love printed books. I occasionally splurge on books from publishers such as the Library of America, known for the quality of their paper and binding. I own a handful of first editions. And I hate many changes of recent years, such as the seemingly continuous thinning of newspapers. But we simply cannot blame everything that seems wrong with American print culture and media on the Internet.

    As for the question of whether the Internet is changing our brains–it almost certainly is. Internet use is addictive. I’ve seen the addiction in myself. I’ve seen troubling manifestations of it in small children. I check email compulsively. During evenings when I used to read books I often now flit around online from Salon to Slate to Arts and Letters Daily and, yes, Gawker. And as Nicholas Carr lamented in The Atlantic a few years ago, I sometimes find concentrated, immmersive reading harder than it used to be. But I can still lose myself in the pages of a book.

    Plus ça change. New means of transmitting information have always changed people’s brains and behavior, and people have always complained about it. Roughly 2400 years ago Plato complained that reading and writing would weaken people’s memories. And he was correct. The explosion of printed material and the near-universal adoption of silent reading during the Renaissance arguably changed how we think as well. Marshall McLuhan, famously argued that the act of silently scanning lines of printed text (as opposed to reading illuminated manuscripts out loud) had decisive consequences for Western thought and society: reading aloud to other people is a communal act; reading alone is an individual one. While McLuhan has his detractors, no historian seriously doubts Elizabeth Eisentein’s assertion in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change that “the thoughts of readers are guided by the way the contents of books are arranged and presented.” And Franzen’s complaints about our “media-saturated moment,” echo the complaints of Renaissance curmudgeons that the printing press made it too easy to reproduce existing books and publish new ones. As 15th-century Venetian magistrate Filipo di Strata put it, “The pen is a virgin, the printing press is a whore.”

    Here we are at another such moment of change. And we can choose how we respond to it. I don’t know anyone who honestly wants to go back to the pre-Web world, but Internet addiction and diminished concentration can be serious problems. So you know what? I sometimes turn off the iPad and read a book. I know parents who limit their children’s Internet time. I know people who became so concerned about how much time they spent online they canceled their home Internet access. Computers, tablets and smart phones aren’t going to blunt our minds unless we use them to do so.

    And really, Franzen, it’s fine if Salman Rushdie wants to tweet.

  • Volunteers Help Newtown Archive Every Item Received Following Shooting
    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of cards, letters, stuffed animals and children’s artwork from around the world flooded into Newtown in the days and weeks after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    The town kept everything. Some of it was preserved in its original form. Other items were documented in photos or turned into recycled material called “sacred soil,” which officials hope can be used in the foundation of a new school or to construct a permanent memorial for the 26 victims of the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting. “Nothing was thrown into a landfill,” said Yolie Moreno, a resident who headed the archiving effort. “Every single thing was saved: tags from teddy bears, paper snowflakes, everything.”

    newtown archive

    Moreno took charge of the letters, cards and artwork. Tens of thousands were sorted by state and country of origin. A group of volunteers, many of them professional photojournalists, then photographed them to create a digital record. Norwalk-based Xerox Corp. is helping create a website where people will be able to view much of it.

    The town’s library requested some of it for another website. About 5,000 pieces of correspondence will be stored there in a searchable form, Moreno said.

    “We read through them and picked out a sampling of the most poignant,” she said “It was important to us that people know that what they sent in was read, was appreciated.”

    About 30 boxes filled with handmade items also were kept and are in storage at the town municipal center. Officials hope it can be used in a future art installation in town, Moreno said.

    Many of the items are from children, such as a watercolor with the words “You don’t know how strong you are, until being STRONG is the only option you have,” and another with a drawing of a bandaged heart and the words “I know your heart is broken, because mine swells with grief for you. So I made this healed heart, knowing it could never replace the broken pieces of what you lost, but help lessen the pain, if only a little.”

    newtown archive

    The rest of it — about 400 cubic yards’ worth of letters, votive candles, wreaths and teddy bears left in makeshift shrines all over Newtown — was taken to a trash-to-energy plant in October in Bridgeport.

    Public works director Fred Hurley said all the material was treated with the utmost respect. The machines were cleaned, and plant operators made sure nothing from Newtown was mixed with anything else. The process of cremating the items was also filmed to ensure nothing was taken as a souvenir, he said.

    “The material was incinerated, and the ash was cleaned out of the furnace and separated into a box for us,” he said.

    Another cremation will be held in the spring, he said, as more material comes into town after the anniversary of the massacre.

    Plans call for mixing what is now about 2 cubic yards of sacred soil into construction materials, either bricks or cement that will be used perhaps in the foundation of a new Sandy Hook school or to help construct a permanent memorial to the massacre. No decisions have been made yet on a timeline for either of those.

    “We did a blessing on it,” Moreno said. “The respect and reverence for it was phenomenal. It was like a cremation, a transformation of all this love.”

    Holly Nelson, 39, of Walla Walla, Wash., sent in hearts made from recycled paper embedded with forget-me-not seeds. She said she was notified that one of the hearts had been chosen for the archive project. She had hoped the seeds might end up in the garden of a victim’s family, but she likes the plan Newtown crafted.

    “Even if the seeds die in the incineration process, the idea that they are being recycled into something meaningful that pays tribute after this tragedy is very special,” she said.

    ___

    Associated Press writer Dave Collins contributed to this report.

  • Computer Use May Improve Fine-Motor Skills In The Brain, Scientists Say

    Don’t worry about watching all those cat videos on the Internet. You’re not wasting time when you are at your computer—you’re honing your fine-motor skills. A study of people’s ability to translate training that involves clicking and twiddling a computer mouse reveals that the brain can apply that expertise to other fine-motor tasks requiring the hands.

    We know that computers are altering the way that people think. For example, using the Internet changes the way that you remember information. But what about use of the computer itself? You probably got to this story by using a computer mouse, for example, and that is a bizarre task compared with the activities that we’ve encountered in our evolutionary history. You made tiny movements of your hand in a horizontal plane to cause tiny movements of a cursor in a completely disconnected vertical plane. But with daily practice—the average computer user makes more than 1000 mouse clicks per day—you have become such an expert that you don’t even think about this amazing feat of dexterity. Scientists would love to know if that practice affects other aspects of your brain’s control of your body.

    The problem is finding people with no computer experience. So Konrad Kording, a psychologist at Northwestern University’s Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in Illinois, and his former postdoc Kunlin Wei, now at Peking University in Beijing, turned to migrant Chinese workers. The country’s vast population covers the whole socioeconomic spectrum, from elite computer hackers to agricultural laborers whose lifestyles have changed little over the past century. The country’s economic boom is bringing people in waves from the countryside to cities in search of employment.

    A team led by Kording and Wei recruited three groups of people: Chinese migrant workers with no computer experience, workers who were matched by age and education but did have computer experience through a job, and a control group of college students who were computer proficient. All the subjects went through a 2-week training period during which they had to use a computer mouse to play games. (That included the classic game of “Pong” played for 2 hours per day.) The researchers ran each group through a battery of standard motor control tests before and after the training.

    pong computer game
    Training people to play the game of Pong with a computer mouse improved general hand motor skills.

    The test that Kording and Wei were most interested in gauged generalizability. If you learn how to use a computer mouse, does that skill generalize to similar motor tasks? To measure the subjects’ ability to perform unfamiliar tasks, the researchers tested motor skills that involved no mouse at all, such as controlling the position of a finger when the hand is hidden beneath a cover. If expertise in using a computer mouse doesn’t generalize to other motor skills, migrant workers without previous computer experience should do far worse than the other two groups on these other tests.

    Before the training period, migrant works who already had computer experience performed better than their computer-naive peers on all the tests. Individuals without computer experience found it far more difficult to make finely controlled adjustments of the hand, especially when the hand was hidden. But after just 2 weeks of training, migrant workers with no previous computer experience performed just as well as college students at using a computer mouse and applying that skill to other fine-motor hand skills, the team reports today in Current Biology.

    “The results are surprising,” says Robert Scheidt, a biomechanical engineer at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who works with stroke victims. “Two weeks is not a long time at all” to gain a specific new motor skill, let alone boost a whole set of them. Until now, he says, the evidence has supported “narrow generalizability,” in which learning one motor skill translates to improvement only in nearly identical tasks. So for those helping rehabilitate people who have lost motor abilities, “this is exactly the result we wanted to see,” Scheidt says. The study lends support to computer-based methods for helping stroke patients to regain control of their limbs. And for healthy people who are trying to learn a new motor skill, it may be possible to accelerate learning through carefully designed computer games.

    This story has been provided by AAAS, the non-profit science society, and its international journal, Science.

  • Briefly: WLAN fix for iPhone, Mac FileVault2 password recovery faster
    Online repair service, PodMod, has found a long-term way to fix a WLAN issue found in iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s units. Some users have found that their WiFi button is not responsive, or the WLAN is not working; Pod Mod is offering repair service for these issues starting at $40. Repairs are backed by a six month warranty.
        



Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • 'Big Data' Is an Investment in Nature — and Human Well-being
    The foundation of Conservation International (CI) is built upon the integration of comprehensive data and responsive science. Those committed to this premise invest in good data and sound measurement tools to understand how nature is changing. These tools must be utilized to investigate whether humanity’s use of nature’s life-supporting services is sustainable or not. Just as regular doctor visits can help keep people healthy, the early detection of planetary problems is crucial to our survival.

    Last week in Barcelona, we announced a visionary partnership with Hewlett Packard (HP) called HP Earth Insights. This program will revolutionize the way we monitor, report and understand the health of ecosystems.

    Environmental scientists across the globe will be able to put their field research findings into mobile HP tablets and analyze and share that data in visual, user-friendly dashboards that reveal tropical changes in near real-time. HP Earth Insights will help us link tropical forest data with other data repositories at the Smithsonian Institution and Wildlife Conservation Society, and connect the dots to further populate a measure of tropical forest biodiversity known as the Wildlife Picture Index.

    Previously, most indices of biodiversity were based on data from scientific literature, which has a long lag time from collection to publication. This meant that policymakers were making decisions based on information that was often five years old. Big data and information technology will help us change that.

    As part of the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network, CI and 83 partners in 16 countries across Africa, the Americas and Asia have been meticulously gathering data on changes in biomass, biodiversity, species distribution and other indicators of ecosystem health. The data from this network offers decision makers an early warning system designed to identify potentially harmful changes arising within Earth’s ecosystems.

    TEAM focuses on tropical forests because they are central to Earth’s life-support system. These ecosystems produce 40% of the oxygen we breathe, they filter much of the fresh water that feeds and supports us and they are a source of life-saving medicines. Tropical forests also contain more than half the species on the planet, store huge amounts of the carbon we emit and support productive agriculture, making them a source of livelihood for more than 1.6 billion people. Knowing whether these forests are flourishing or ailing is central to our very well-being.

    Our scientists have recorded more than 3 million climate measurements in tropical forests and taken more than 1.4 million photographs of their diverse and wondrous animal inhabitants, using remote heat and motion-triggered camera traps throughout the TEAM Network sites. To my knowledge, TEAM is the only network that covers multiple rainforests and is coordinated in its methods and analysis.

    The ability to quickly synthesize the telltale signs of ecosystem decline — and getting that information into the hands of leaders in time for them to make informed decisions — has become a priority for CI and its partners. This is why the HP Earth Insights partnership is so ground-breaking.

    When we started TEAM 10 years ago, after it was proposed by longtime CI board member and information technology pioneer Gordon Moore, we faced a number of challenges. TEAM scientists were going into the field armed with clipboards and recording their observations and data on paper. That took prohibitively long to analyze. Our partners at HP saw this challenge as an opportunity to form a partnership that would allow us to harness the power of big data to better guide big decisions.

    This investment in gathering, synthesizing and sharing new data is necessary for creating a society that can weather the pressures of change. Over the next century, the world’s population will grow to over 9 billion people. We will double our demand for food, energy and water, and the changing climate will continue to exacerbate the uncertainties we face. Nature is the most cost-effective source we have to meet these demands. Monitoring its health will be key to ensuring a continual supply of the natural capital it provides to all of us.

    The pressures on ecosystems around the globe have never been greater, and the stakes have never been higher. We have the knowledge to develop sustainably — and now we have the tools. Nature will go on with or without us. We, however, cannot survive without nature.

    Peter Seligmann is CI’s co-founder, chairman and CEO. This post was originally published on Conservation International’s blog, Human Nature.

  • Fun Holiday Apps For The Whole Family (VIDEO)
    Holiday fun goes mobile this year with awesome apps for families that put a modern spin on traditional activities. Check out the video above to find out which apps offer advent calendars, letters to Santa (have your kids ever seen a stamp?) and more on your mobile devices.

  • Lack of Measurement Transparency for Mobile Ad Campaigns Restricts Flow of Brand Dollars

    Six years after the launch of the iPhone, and nearly two million apps later, brand advertising accounts for a meager 20 percent of mobile ad dollars. In spite of every lofty forecast of mobile ad dollars predicting an imminent skew towards brand advertising, the share of brand spend has risen from 15 percent to 20 percent in the past five years.

    Based purely on the nature of the medium, this makes little sense. Mobile leads all digital consumer media in both usage and engagement — a dream for the brand advertiser , right? Why then are brands not pushing their agencies to divert dollars into mobile? More importantly, why are agencies, the trusted advisors of brand CMOs, not recommending significantly more mobile spend? Detailed conversations with major global brands and their agencies shed much light on this contradiction. While a number of issues exist, there is one overarching concern that emerges as the biggest blocker of brand dollars in mobile.

    The lack of transparency in mobile advertising, resulting in brands not understanding the effectiveness and ROI of their ad spend, is a major concern for large advertisers. Consider a brand, say Lancome, that is seeking to raise awareness of a new women’s moisturizer. The campaign strategy is to serve a rich-media click-to-expand banner to women 35 and older, with a goal of getting the target audience to click on the banner. The brand will forward the brief to its agency, who will typically engage a Big Ad Network to execute the campaign. The way things run now, the network will go and perform its private “magic”, resulting in a media plan, which will most likely consist of a number of apps (or, less likely, mobile web sites) on which impressions will be delivered. The campaign will then run until the budget is exhausted, perhaps for a period of two to four weeks. At the end of the campaign the network will deliver a report to the agency/brand which will have, effectively, two substantive pieces of information: (a) the number of impressions delivered (say 100,000), and (b) the number of clicks that occurred (say, 500), and of course, the resultant Click-Through-Rate (CTR), 0.5 percent in this case.

    For the brand, this is not useful enough. The crucial insight of who the “clickers” are, key to understanding how effectively media dollars were spent, is missing In every other medium, brands are used to precisely understanding how effectively their budget was managed, down to the cost of each impression, click and conversion. In our mock campaign, the brand got 500 clicks. But are those “good” clicks, or “irrelevant” clicks? If 80 percent of the clicks came from women 35 or older, it’s one thing, but if 50 percent of the “clickers” were teenaged boys, its another thing altogether. Lancome needs to know that.

    More importantly, the brand or its agency has no idea of the ROI of the spend that occurred. This starts right from the fact that big mobile ad networks do not disclose the media plan used for the campaign to the advertiser. For our mock campaign above, the brand, or its agency, will not be privy to the apps (or mobile sites) where impressions were delivered, let alone the exact dollars that were allocated to each property. Nor would they know where the desired action (clicks in this case) occurred. If this were disclosed to them, they could easily figure out how effectively, or ineffectively, their money was spent. This information, when made available in-flight, can also enable campaign optimization, and after the campaign can shed invaluable light on overall ROI of spend. That, in turn, can help advertisers make key judgments regarding sources of supply (a particular source may be good for targeting middle aged men, while another one may be rich in young moms) and even more important, can help distinguish which ad network spent money more effectively. In the case of our fictitious campaign above, if the spend was equally divided across two networks, and the advertiser saw one of them yielding a far higher number of “good” clicks than the other, that would be a great indicator that one was providing much better ROI than the other.

    Unfortunately, the big ad networks are not transparent — mobile being the only medium where such lack of transparency is widespread. Yes the networks do disclose at a high level what “categories” were targeted. In our mock campaign, the network might disclose that 50 percent of impressions were delivered on entertainment apps, 35 percent on lifestyle and 15 percent on games, but that information is not useful in performing the types of necessary spend analyses described above.

    Why are the networks not transparent? Perhaps the most important motivation is the fact that networks derive 80 percent of mobile ad revenues from performance campaigns, largely CPI/CPA, driving downloads. The app world is fragmented, app popularities are famously transient, and publishers know that their hot new app has a very short shelf life — it is essential that it rises up in its native app store ranks as rapidly as possible — enter the mobile ad network with its ability to spur downloads. In these campaigns transparency is of no consequence — the iTunes app store does not care where the downloads came from — as long as there is a strong continuous download momentum, the app rises and maintains strong rank position in its category. Another major reason driving networks away from transparency is simple economics — they need to “democratize” their inventory. Consider the fact that while there are millions of apps, only a tiny fraction of them actually have a reasonably sized, engaged user base at any given time. Given the “long-tail” nature of their inventory, transparency has the potential of every advertiser competing for the five percent of apps that have great reach, while the remaining 95 percent languish in obscurity. This could create very challenging publisher relationships for the network.

    This lack of transparency greatly impedes brand advertising on mobile. Chiradeep Gupta, Manager, Global Media at Unilever, says that “absence of real information on how my brand campaign performed on mobile, and lack of data correlating my spend to eventual campaign success measures is perhaps the biggest gap preventing far greater investment on the mobile medium”. My agency colleagues equivocate. Atibhi Mehra, the Head of Mobile for Mindshare (APAC), had this to say: “our goal is to maximize the ROI of our clients’ spends. Solutions that reveal and, in turn, help optimize client spend ROI is sorely lacking and a top priority in our minds. The availability, and acceptability, of such solutions will also prompt us to advise our clients to increase their mobile spends”.

    I end with an issue that is puzzling to me. It is clear that transparency is critical for brands to spend money on mobile. But I am not sure why the brands, and especially their agencies, do not realize that even though the big ad networks do not provide (yet) the required clarity, there exist several transparent platforms on which they can run their campaigns. DSPs such as Pocketmath, Sitescout, Run, offer completely transparent inventory. Companies like Mobilewalla offer turnkey solutions that can plug into any supply source and provide campaign targeting, campaign analysis and spend management solutions that can not only allow brands to fully understand how well their ad dollars did, but also can optimize campaigns mid-flight to minimize media and spend wastage. If the agencies are worried about campaign execution (something the ad networks provide), media 2.0 companies like Full Bottle provide end-to-end services including creative production, media planning and execution on transparent platforms. While the lack of transparency is a big problem in mobile, the ecosystem has evolved to the point where there are alternatives available that allow the execution of fully transparent campaigns. If the big networks are serious about brand business, they will surely come around.

  • Target Offers 10 Percent Discount As An Apology For That Massive Security Breach
    Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel issued an apology on the company’s website Friday to the approximately 40 million customers affected by one of the largest credit-card breaches ever to hit a U.S. retailer.

    To make up for the problem, which Steinhafel said has been “eliminated,” Target is offering customers 10 percent off this weekend, the same discount Target workers get.

    “The message I would like to leave with guests is that we value their business, and we appreciate the trust they place in us as a company and as a friend and a community partner,” Steinhafel said in a video posted to YouTube. “So at Target we get a 10 percent discount if you’re a team member, and we want to extend that team member discount to all of the guests that come and shop with us this weekend as a small way to just say thank you for being a great guest at Target.”

    The discount is available Dec. 21-22, but some restrictions do apply:

    “Valid in store only. Limit one offer per guest to be used in a single transaction. Void if prohibited by law. Not valid in Canada. No cash value.”

    Hackers obtained the credit and debit card numbers of millions of Target customers over the course of 19 days, beginning the day before Thanksgiving, according to Reuters. If you are wondering whether your information has been compromised, the retailer says to call 866-852-8680. Here is the text of Steinhafel’s full apology:

    “Yesterday we shared that there was unauthorized access to payment card data at our U.S. stores. The issue has been identified and eliminated. We recognize this has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. Our guests’ trust is our top priority at Target and we are committed to making this right.

    We want our guests to understand that just because they shopped at Target during the impacted time frame, it doesn’t mean they are victims of fraud. In fact, in other similar situations, there are typically low levels of actual fraud. Most importantly, we want to reassure guests that they will not be held financially responsible for any credit and debit card fraud. And to provide guests with extra assurance, we will be offering free credit monitoring services. We will be in touch with those impacted by this issue soon on how and where to access the service.

    We understand it’s been difficult for some guests to reach us via our website and call center. We apologize and want you to understand that we are experiencing unprecedented call volume. Our Target teams are working continuously to build capacity and meet our guests’ needs.

    We take this crime seriously. It was a crime against Target, our team members, and most importantly, our guests. We’re in this together, and in that spirit, we are extending a 10% discount – the same amount our team members receive – to guests who shop in U.S. stores on Dec. 21 and 22. Again, we recognize this issue has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. We want to emphasize that the issue has been addressed and let guests know they can shop with confidence at their local Target stores.”

  • Twitter gives SPDY a leg up on Apple hardware
    The company releases an open-source software that lets people build Google’s network technology into iOS and OS X software.
  • Obama Appears To Soften His Stance On The NSA, Edward Snowden
    When the NSA scandal first broke six months ago, President Barack Obama was forceful in defending the government’s surveillance programs, while criticizing Edward Snowden.

    At his year-end press conference on Friday, the president’s defense of NSA and condemnation of Snowden appeared weakened. Speaking from the press briefing room, Obama was asked a range of questions over the hour-long span, and at the head of the list of issues was surveillance.

    Here’s how his Friday comments stacked up to remarks made over the summer:

    ON THE NSA: Then

    On June 7, Obama was asked at a press conference a) to react to the reports of secret government surveillance of phone and the Internet and b) if he could assure Americans that there wasn’t some massive secret database containing all of their personal information. The president assured onlookers that the programs were classified for a reason, but far from secret to Congress.

    “And in the abstract, you can complain about Big Brother and how this is a potential program run amuck, but when you actually look at the details, then I think we’ve struck the right balance,” Obama said.

    ON THE NSA: Now

    By Dec. 20, Obama was asked if his credibility had taken a hit with that “right balance” comment. Earlier this week alone, a judge ruled the program was unconstitutional and a presidential task force urged limits on NSA spying.

    The president replied that it was “important to note” that balance is subject to a series of judgment calls that “make sure the American people are protected.”

    “What is absolutely clear to me is that given the public debate that’s taken place and the disclosures that have taken place over the last several months, this is only going to work if the American people have confidence and trust. Now, part of the challenge is that because of the manner in which these disclosures took place, in dribs and drabs, often times shaded in a particular way, and because of some of the constraints that we’ve had in terms of declassifying information and getting it out there, that trust in how many safeguards exist and how these programs are run has been diminished. So what’s going to be important is how to build that back up.”

    ON EDWARD SNOWDEN: Then

    On Aug. 9, Obama made his thoughts clear on Snowden, saying that he did not think he was a patriot.

    “The fact is, Mr. Snowden has been charged with three felonies,” Obama said.

    ON EDWARD SNOWDEN: Now

    By Dec. 20, CBS News’ Major Garrett asked Obama what he would say to Americans who believe Snowden “set in motion something that is proper and just.”

    Obama replied:

    I’ve got to be careful here, Major, because Mr. Snowden is under indictment. He has been charged with — with crimes, and that’s the province of the attorney general and ultimately, a judge and a jury. So I — I can’t weigh in specifically on this case at this point. I’ll try to see if I can get at the spirit of the question, even if I can’t talk about the specifics.

    I have said before and I believe that this is an important conversation that we needed to have. I have also said before that the way in which these disclosures happened have been — have been damaging to the United States and damaging to our intelligence capabilities.

    And I think that there was a way for us to have this conversation without that damage.

  • Justine Sacco's Tweet About AIDS, Africa Is The Craziest Thing You'll See Today
    A public relations representative for a major media company appears to have posted a strange tweet on Friday about race and AIDS in Africa.

    A tweet sent from the account of Justine Sacco, a senior director of corporate communications at InterActiveCorp (more commonly known as IAC), said: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

    Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!

    — Justine Sacco (@JustineSacco) December 20, 2013

    IAC — which owns popular websites like OkCupid, Match.com, CollegeHumor, The Daily Beast and Vimeo — responded thus, per the International Business Times:

    This is an outrageous, offensive comment that does not reflect the views and values of IAC. Unfortunately, the employee in question is unreachable on an international flight, but this is a very serious matter and we are taking appropriate action.

    It’s possible that Sacco’s account was hacked, although recent tweets from Sacco show that she’s been traveling recently.

    Sacco did not respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

  • Why 2014 Will Be the Year Nonprofits Finally Embrace the Cloud
    A debate that has raged for years in the corporate IT world has certainly now made its way to the nonprofit sector: single vendor integrated suite versus best-of-breed combinations. It seems like there’s never been a good answer — until now.

    The Problem with Integrated Software Suites:

    More than a decade ago, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) was a game-changer for nonprofit organizations. Finally, it was possible to integrate the basic functions of a nonprofit online (CRM, email, fundraising, advocacy) to build relationships with supporters and engage them in meaningful ways in real-time. They were easy to adapt and were tailored specifically for nonprofits. Best of all, SaaS made it all affordable (full disclosure: I co-founded one of those companies).

    A decade later, we’ve seen several major acquisitions in the space, a VC takeover and some smaller players emerge in the space. But it would be hard to argue that consolidation has resulted in better products or innovation beyond a new feature or two. Nonprofits have been forced to accept inferior products in the interest of “seamless integration and simplicity” that never really transpired and with no control over future software upgrades.

    While the original intent of these all-in-one solutions was to reduce the number of data silos in an organization, this thorny issue sees little sign of improvement. In fact, supporter data is even more segregated now than it was a decade ago as the number of communication channels online has exploded.

    There are good reasons why these suite providers can’t keep up: It’s hard. Let’s assume there are 10 channels that need to be connected to get to that coveted 360 degree view of your supporters.

    It’s appealing to think that the companies that have in place sufficient platforms to accommodate three of those 10 — say CRM, fundraising and email — are best positioned to add on the remaining big seven (Facebook, Twitter, Mobile, Google Ads, CMS, DRTV, Direct Mail).

    Unfortunately, the reality is that legacy code and legacy clients make it impossible to keep up with the pace of change. The code may have been awesome five years ago, but it always ages poorly. Upgrades and integrations are agonizingly slow to push out and the increasing risk of change kills innovation.

    So to get that 360 degree view, organizations need to hire data analysts and consultants just to get some sense of how programs are performing across all these channels and data silos.

    The Cloud Changes Everything:

    Meanwhile, thanks in large part to the “cloud“, application development has exploded and there’s no shortage of innovation in any given area from email to payment processing to event management to website management.

    It has caused a major shift in the very nature of software development. While once the majority of applications were built in-house or by a vendor using a single code base that was then connected to the Internet, now software applications are mostly an elegant connection of existing services all tied together through APIs.

    This change is not just faster and cheaper for software consumers, it is a fundamental difference in how to build and implement products. It presents a completely different set of challenges, but also an amazing amount of opportunity.

    For nonprofits, never before has the case for best of breed applications been more compelling. Best of breed means using a specific software program or package for each specific business requirement. Cloud computing has made it financially and operationally viable for an organization to pick the very best application for every need. And, you no longer have to sacrifice functionality for the sake of integration.

    Integration, Integration, Integration:

    Not long ago, it was nearly impossible to make a variety of specialized apps peacefully co-exist and function as a cohesive solution.

    The cloud, with its open, flexible application architecture means that integration is far easier and cheaper to manage now than it ever was before. As cloud computing has matured, it has given rise to the “API economy.” Now, with the standardization of applications and APIs, you can easily connect different services. It’s also possible to connect offline databases.

    This dramatically weakens the principle reason that organizations were buying applications from the integrated suite vendors.

    It also gives rise to a new kind of vendor: the Integrator. It’s now your new vendor’s job to show how they can integrate their product with your other systems; integration is no longer the IT department’s shackles.

    Real Cost-Savings:

    In most cases, best of breed doesn’t just mean the technology is better, it’s also easier to use and cheaper!

    If fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify a suite purchase. The savviest nonprofits are always focused on reducing overall cost of ownership, which is just not possible with complex larger software providers.

    With subscription-based pricing, costs of a cloud-based combination are usually lower and more aligned with actual demand. In most cases, consultants and long-term, expensive service agreements are no longer needed.

    The New Challenges:

    Let’s imagine an organization has chosen ten (not unreasonable) best of breed cloud-based systems and still has a legacy database to maintain. Now, the issues lie in the areas of standardization, data integration, data flow, process flow, vendor management, and diverse and hard to transfer skill sets.

    These are very different problems to solve than we were solving ten years ago.

    How will my legacy system stay synced with my online systems?

    How can we ensure we’re not spending excessive time and money maintaining connections and managing updates?

    How can we ensure we don’t encounter a problem of “contact chaos.”

    How can we ensure that we’re not spending hours/day migrating from one application to another — never knowing who to call for support?

    How can we manage the learning curve for each new application?

    How can we know for sure our ROI of using multiple systems?

    While these are all hard problems to solve, they are solvable now. For all the groups that desire choice, flexibility and freedom to create their own suite of best-in-class technologies from multiple vendors, the cloud is the answer and it’s here now. Your organization can become nimble and responsive without technology has a hindrance, but as propeller .

    When the latest thing from Silicon Valley emerges — be it Vine or Instagram, you’ll be ready to get up and running in hours or days, and test whether or not it helps you better engage with your audience.

    Best of all, when all of your systems are integrated you have a never before seen view of your supporters and the ability to react in real-time. A nonprofit marketer’s dream come true.

  • 5 More Women in Tech Orgs You Should Know
    Folks, a while back my team and I created a list of the Top 10 Women in Tech Orgs and I’m following up with some of the suggestions that have been sent in. I checked out all of the orgs that people commented about, and appreciate the great women in tech organizations that are really getting the job done.

    Here are five more women in tech orgs that you should know about:

    App Camp For Girls teaches girls how to brainstorm, design, build and pitch iPhone apps. It’s a place where girls can put their creative power to work, concepting and building apps, while learning more about the business of software and being inspired by women who are professional software developers. The org is planning to expand beyond Portland, Oregon, in summer 2014, and are recruiting organizers now.

    Follow @AppCamp4Girls

    APPCAMPFORGIRLS

    Women Tech Council provides mentoring, visibility and networking for women. The community is built for women who currently work for technology companies, and for those that may work in technology roles in other market sectors. Women Tech Council provides leadership, resources, and mentoring for women while maintaining a strong bond with the business community supporting avenues for top technology talent and visible sponsorship opportunities. They support women-owned and women-operated technology companies, and pride themselves on recognizing women leaders and entrepreneurs in the technology business and supporting them.

    Follow @WomenTechCncl

    women tech council

    Dames Making Games is a nonprofit, educational feminist organization dedicated to supporting Dames interested in creating games. They welcome all people of any gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, race, religion, ability, nationality, socioeconomic status, and immigrant status as members. Their goals are to:

      • Demonstrate the value of diversity in a broad range of disciplines related to games
      • Highlight the achievements of diverse Toronto-based gamemakers
      • Provide a community and venue for dames to confidently explore playing, discussing, and creating games

    Follow @DMGToronto

    dames

    Women in Wireless is a great community of visionary mobilists. The org empowers and develops female leaders in mobile and digital media. They do this through inspirational panels and webinars, leadership development, mentoring, and networking.

    Follow @WomenInWireless

    women in wireless

    Women’s Coding Collective began with the merging of Web Start Women and their counterpart Codagogy. Web Start Women’s mission was to encourage women entrepreneurs in the local community to learn tech skills that would further their businesses. Then they built Codagogy to make web programming education accessible to women anywhere and everywhere. These initiatives grew and developed so that a new name was needed to encompass all that they had become, hence the Women’s Coding Collective (WCC). The WCC is an even stronger, more focused web development community for women coders and creators.

    Follow @WeAreWCC

    womens coding collective

     

     

    Any other orgs you think I should be looking at? Thanks!

  • Just Say "No" to Novelty Medicine
    Technology can be a wonderful thing. We can find the best Thai restaurant in our neighborhood, check traffic and find alternate routes when necessary, and even make a $30,000 jewelry purchase, all within seconds, all from our phones. But sometimes technology overreaches, like it did this year with novelty medicine.

    Don’t get me wrong: Technology is definitely reshaping the healthcare industry. Amazing advancements are helping doctors to more easily gather comprehensive information on their patients, view data and images in a more efficient way, and better communicate with patients. However, technology can also complicate and (even worse, hinder), patients from receiving excellent care. I’m talking about novelty, “instant diagnosis” apps and web sites.

    Novelty healthcare apps took the world by storm in 2014 because we, as a culture, love the “quick hits” and perceived control given to us by these technologies. Who wants to wait in a doctor’s office when you can figure out what’s wrong with you in seconds from the app on your phone? And every expert is telling us to empower ourselves, so what better way with these exciting new tools?

    But, like with anything that seems too easy, there is a catch. Who is delivering this diagnosis: a doctor or a developer? Is the information coming from reliable experts who can offer state-of-the-art care? No.

    I’m concerned that these novelty technologies will create a wave of paranoia and bad decisions. People could succumb to the “white coat syndrome,” thinking they have a terminal illness when they really just have a cold. Doctors’ offices could be completely flooded with people believing they are very sick, or worse their app could tell them there are “fine” when in fact they have a very serious diagnosis.

    But I sleep well at night, because I know that as consumers, we love new and novel technologies, but we are also extremely savvy. Our short attention spans work for us because we can embrace something new and exciting quickly, but just as quickly we demand the highest possible quality–and this should be absolutely no different when it comes to healthcare apps, web sites and live doctors.

    New and improved technologies like video conferencing, the cloud, and security are helping to usher the healthcare industry into this century. Check out how some of these sincere technologies are fostering better patient care:

    Cloud computing: In order to effectively treat patients, doctors need a comprehensive overview of ALL aspects of a patient’s health. By keeping medical records and imaging in the cloud, doctors can more easily access patient records with just a browser and log in. Doctors and patients no longer have to spend countless hours tracking down records, contacting previous doctors, hospitals, and insurance providers–all information will reside in the cloud so it can be quickly and easily gathered and reviewed. With a 360 degree view of a patient’s health (blood work, exam files, images, etc.), providers can better diagnose and treat their patients.

    Asynchronous communication: What a breath of fresh air asynchronous communications has been to an industry that has been held hostage by time and synchronous communication. Up until even a few years ago, the only way you could receive medical advice is if you were meeting with a doctor in person, or making a phone call, but with each of these options timing had to be perfect. And asynchronous communication meant snail mail, sticky notes (remember those?), pagers and faxes–not great options.

    Asynchronous communications releases time constraints, allowing physicians and patients to interact at different times, at the convenience of each party. You may be at the gym while a specialist is reviewing your file that was sent by your GP. Email has replaced snail mail, instant messaging and text has replaced pagers, and secure file exchange platforms like Box.com have replaced faxes.

    Asynchronous communications means doctors can study patients without them having to be in the room or on the phone. It broadens treatment time, and allows doctors to focus on the facts when they can truly concentrate and are not distracted by other patients, nurses and more.

    Precision Medicine: We aren’t quite there yet, but we need to understand the scientific links between clinical data and genomics data, and then make a diagnosis and treatment plan. We need to keep on top of the data during treatment, understand how the patient is responding, and then make informed decisions based on that information.

    Precision medicine is the process of diagnosing and treating illnesses based on individuals’ genetic make-up. This particular type of “little or individual data”–specific and comprehensive aspects about an individual’s health ranging from molecular make-up to diagnosed illnesses–will allow physicians to practice precision medicine for more efficient diagnosis and treatment strategy. In fact, practices working with individual data may be able to prepare to treat you before you even walk in the door.

    I know some people really like their novelty healthcare apps and won’t dump them just because I said so. If you use them, use them wisely–don’t bet your life on them, bet it on the people who know best. There’s a reason we don’t have computers taking care of patients. Doctors spend years and even decades in school because they need to be able to understand, interpret and analyze various types of data such as patients’ physical exams and lab work. Two hundred characters can’t do that.

  • NASA Brings Iconic Apollo 8 'Earthrise' Photo To Life (VIDEO)
    What if you could go back in time and see what the Apollo 8 astronauts saw when they snapped the iconic “Earthrise” photograph?

    Now you can.

    Nearly 45 years after Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders became the first humans to photograph Earth rising over the moon, NASA has recreated the historic moment in a short video simulation on YouTube. Just check it out above.

    The incredible scene was created using recent data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and audio records of the actual 1968 event. We can all re-live the moment together.

  • One Stat That Proves America Really Enjoys Its Porn
    Americans’ porn-watching sessions are, on average, the longest on the planet, according to a new report about the world’s porn habits in 2013.

    Released earlier this week, the report — Pornhub’s “2013 Porn In Review” — says that Americans spent an average of 10 minutes, 39 seconds on the website every time they visited this past year. That’s a whole minute longer than the average visit from porn lovers in the U.K., who claimed the second spot on the list.

    pornhub 2

    According to Pornhub, which is one of the Web’s largest porn sites, people in Mississippi (11:47), Hawaii (11:36) and Arkansas (11:32) spent the most time, per average session, watching porn on the site. In contrast, residents of Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire had the shortest porn-watching sessions.

    pornhub 1

    pornhub

    Of course, Americans aren’t the only ones who enjoy their porn. In its report, Pornhub also revealed just how many visitors it received worldwide in 2013.

    “Over the last year, our oh-so-valued users came to Pornhub an astonishing fourteen billion, seven hundred seventy–five million times,” the site writes. “That works out to roughly 1.68 million visits per hour over the entire year.”

    According to the report, January was the most popular month and Monday was the most popular day of the week for porn-viewing worldwide, while August was found to be the least popular month and Sunday the least popular day.

    As for search terms, the report says that “teen” and “milf” were among the top search terms worldwide in 2013. “Compilation,” “lesbian” and “anal” were also hot terms this year.

    For more on Pornhub’s “2013 Porn In Review,” click here.

  • Rock Star High School Robotics Team Makes New Hand For 4-Year-Old Harmony Taylor
    A Michigan high school robotics team just changed 4-year-old Harmony Taylor’s life by giving her a new hand.

    The robotics team at West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Mich., built a robohand for the local preschooler over the course of the past six weeks using a 3D printer, according to Michigan news outlet MLive. When Taylor, who was born without fingers on her right hand, attaches the device, it reflects her wrist’s movements, per local outlet WOOD-TV.

    The project came together by way of Taylor’s preschool teacher, Betty Krzyszton, after she did research on robotic hands. The students then got the materials needed for the hand from a number of local benefactors, writes MLive.

    After getting the hand on Thursday morning, Harmony proudly told MLive that she was going to paint her nails pink.

    Members of the robotics team told WOOD-TV that they were happy to participate in the project.

    “It’s a really great opportunity and we get to help people. And she really needs a hand to help her function more like the rest of us because most things are built for people with two hands,” student Aimee Kalczuk told the outlet. “We really appreciated just the opportunity to be able to do this and to be able to help somebody.”

    Taylor’s mom also said she was grateful for the gift.

    We’re very excited, she’s never had fingers on her right hand so this is going to be a whole new experience for us. To be able to catch a ball, throw a ball, actually grab things, it’s a wonderful Christmas present,” Harmony’s mom, Melanie Peterman, told local outlet WZZM-TV.

    While Harmony previously had a prosthetic hand, she outgrew the device, and her family could not afford another one. The robotics team will be making adjustments on the hand for Harmony as necessary, according to WOOD-TV.

  • News Corp Buys Social Media Startup Storyful For $25 Million

    News Corp., the newspaper publisher and media company, said Friday that it acquired Storyful, a company that gathers user-generated news and video, for $25 million to help it grow its digital and video business.

    Storyful, which bills itself as a “news agency of the social media age,” finds, verifies and acquires news content that people share online. The company distributes the content to its partners, which include news organizations and advertising agencies.

    New York-based News Corp. said its newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, is already a Storyful customer. The company said its acquisition will complement its video offerings, such as WSJ Live and the recently launched BallBall in Asia. Storyful videos generated 750 million views for its partners, News Corp. said.

    News Corp.’s acquisition comes at a time when newspaper publishers are increasingly looking for ways to make money from online video. Earlier this month, The E.W. Scripps Co. said it bought Newsy for $35 million. Newsy collects news from newspapers, TV and websites to create video news reports that people can watch online or through the company’s apps.

    News Corp. said Storyful will remain in Dublin, Ireland where the company was founded in 2008. It will hire additional advertising sales and business development staff that will be based in New York.

    Shares of News Corp. rose 30 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $17.51 in afternoon trading Friday.

  • Ursid Meteor Shower 2013 Offers Year's Last Chance To See Shooting Stars (LIVE STREAM)
    As 2013 draws to a close, skywatchers will have one more chance to see some spectacular shooting stars — and it’s all thanks to this weekend’s Ursid meteor shower. What a holiday treat!

    The Ursid meteor shower falls each year near the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere. This year’s winter solstice occurs on Saturday, Dec. 21.

    This last meteor shower of 2013 should be visible for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s expected to peak Saturday night.

    While the Ursids may be visible Friday night through early next week, viewers will have the best chance of seeing the meteor shower after the moon sets in the early morning on Dec. 22, when the sky is still dark, EarthSky reported. The U.S. Naval Observatory lists moonset times for locations around the world.

    Unlike the Geminid meteor shower, which treated skywatchers to about 120 meteors per hour earlier this month, the Ursids streak across the sky at a rate of only about 10 meteors per hour. Under the bright moon, fewer meteors may be visible each hour.

    Fortunately, the Slooh Space Camera will offer a live broadcast (with commentary) of this last meteor shower of 2013. Set to begin tomorrow night, the livesteam will feature real-time images from an all-sky camera.

    Watch Slooh’s live stream of the Ursid meteor shower in the video above.

  • NSA Arranged Secret Contract With RSA, Security Industry Pioneer
    By Joseph Menn
    SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 20 (Reuters) – As a key part of a campaign to embed encryption software that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.
    Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a “back door” in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.
    Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.
    The earlier disclosures of RSA’s entanglement with the NSA already had shocked some in the close-knit world of computer security experts. The company had a long history of championing privacy and security, and it played a leading role in blocking a 1990s effort by the NSA to require a special chip to enable spying on a wide range of computer and communications products.
    RSA, now a subsidiary of computer storage giant EMC Corp , urged customers to stop using the NSA formula after the Snowden disclosures revealed its weakness.
    RSA and EMC declined to answer questions for this story, but RSA said in a statement: “RSA always acts in the best interest of its customers and under no circumstances does RSA design or enable any back doors in our products. Decisions about the features and functionality of RSA products are our own.”
    The NSA declined to comment.
    The RSA deal shows one way the NSA carried out what Snowden’s documents describe as a key strategy for enhancing surveillance: the systematic erosion of security tools. NSA documents released in recent months called for using “commercial relationships” to advance that goal, but did not name any security companies as collaborators.
    The NSA came under attack this week in a landmark report from a White House panel appointed to review U.S. surveillance policy. The panel noted that “encryption is an essential basis for trust on the Internet,” and called for a halt to any NSA efforts to undermine it.
    Most of the dozen current and former RSA employees interviewed said that the company erred in agreeing to such a contract, and many cited RSA’s corporate evolution away from pure cryptography products as one of the reasons it occurred.
    But several said that RSA also was misled by government officials, who portrayed the formula as a secure technological advance.
    “They did not show their true hand,” one person briefed on the deal said of the NSA, asserting that government officials did not let on that they knew how to break the encryption.

    STORIED HISTORY
    Started by MIT professors in the 1970s and led for years by ex-Marine Jim Bidzos, RSA and its core algorithm were both named for the last initials of the three founders, who revolutionized cryptography. Little known to the public, RSA’s encryption tools have been licensed by most large technology companies, which in turn use them to protect computers used by hundreds of millions of people.
    At the core of RSA’s products was a technology known as public key cryptography. Instead of using the same key for encoding and then decoding a message, there are two keys related to each other mathematically. The first, publicly available key is used to encode a message for someone, who then uses a second, private key to reveal it.
    From RSA’s earliest days, the U.S. intelligence establishment worried it would not be able to crack well-engineered public key cryptography. Martin Hellman, a former Stanford researcher who led the team that first invented the technique, said NSA experts tried to talk him and others into believing that the keys did not have to be as large as they planned.
    The stakes rose when more technology companies adopted RSA’s methods and Internet use began to soar. The Clinton administration embraced the Clipper Chip, envisioned as a mandatory component in phones and computers to enable officials to overcome encryption with a warrant.
    RSA led a fierce public campaign against the effort, distributing posters with a foundering sailing ship and the words “Sink Clipper!”
    A key argument against the chip was that overseas buyers would shun U.S. technology products if they were ready-made for spying. Some companies say that is just what has happened in the wake of the Snowden disclosures.
    The White House abandoned the Clipper Chip and instead relied on export controls to prevent the best cryptography from crossing U.S. borders. RSA once again rallied the industry, and it set up an Australian division that could ship what it wanted.
    “We became the tip of the spear, so to speak, in this fight against government efforts,” Bidzos recalled in an oral history.
    RSA EVOLVES
    RSA and others claimed victory when export restrictions relaxed.
    But the NSA was determined to read what it wanted, and the quest gained urgency after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
    RSA, meanwhile, was changing. Bidzos stepped down as CEO in 1999 to concentrate on VeriSign, a security certificate company that had been spun out of RSA. The elite lab Bidzos had founded in Silicon Valley moved east to Massachusetts, and many top engineers left the company, several former employees said.
    And the BSafe toolkit was becoming a much smaller part of the company. By 2005, BSafe and other tools for developers brought in just $27.5 million of RSA’s revenue, less than 9% of the $310 million total.
    “When I joined there were 10 people in the labs, and we were fighting the NSA,” said Victor Chan, who rose to lead engineering and the Australian operation before he left in 2005. “It became a very different company later on.”
    By the first half of 2006, RSA was among the many technology companies seeing the U.S. government as a partner against overseas hackers.
    New RSA Chief Executive Art Coviello and his team still wanted to be seen as part of the technological vanguard, former employees say, and the NSA had just the right pitch. Coviello declined an interview request.
    An algorithm called Dual Elliptic Curve, developed inside the agency, was on the road to approval by the National Institutes of Standards and Technology as one of four acceptable methods for generating random numbers. NIST’s blessing is required for many products sold to the government and often sets a broader de facto standard.
    RSA adopted the algorithm even before NIST approved it. The NSA then cited the early use of Dual Elliptic Curve inside the government to argue successfully for NIST approval, according to an official familiar with the proceedings.
    RSA’s contract made Dual Elliptic Curve the default option for producing random numbers in the RSA toolkit. No alarms were raised, former employees said, because the deal was handled by business leaders rather than pure technologists.
    “The labs group had played a very intricate role at BSafe, and they were basically gone,” said labs veteran Michael Wenocur, who left in 1999.
    Within a year, major questions were raised about Dual Elliptic Curve. Cryptography authority Bruce Schneier wrote that the weaknesses in the formula “can only be described as a back door.”
    After reports of the back door in September, RSA urged its customers to stop using the Dual Elliptic Curve number generator.
    But unlike the Clipper Chip fight two decades ago, the company is saying little in public, and it declined to discuss how the NSA entanglements have affected its relationships with customers.
    The White House, meanwhile, says it will consider this week’s panel recommendation that any efforts to subvert cryptography be abandoned. (Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Grant McCool)

  • Nginx upgrade funded by fans of Google's SPDY Web protocol
    Nginx will move to the latest version of Google’s Web-speedup software with funding from CloudFlare, MaxCDN, and WordPress developer Automattic.
  • iPad, Surface, Kindle owners reveal their top gripes
    A new report from tech Q&A site FixYa cites the biggest complaints with the latest tablets from Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.
  • Murdoch buys Irish social media firm
    Rupert Murdoch’s media company NewsCorp buys Storyful, an Irish “social media news agency”.

Mobile Technology News, December 18, 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.

  • Real Racing 3 Update Brings Real Time Multiplayer Racing

    Just in time for Christmas, the team over at FireMonkey (a division of EA Sports) has released an awesome update to Real Racing 3 for iOS.  This update brings new cars and new series’ of races but the biggest new feature of all: Real Time Multiplayer racing!
    In the v2, which is now available in the [...]

    The post Real Racing 3 Update Brings Real Time Multiplayer Racing appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Facebook acquires sport data firm
    Facebook acquires SportStream, a firm that analyses social media mentions of sport and enables users to aggregate, filter and display “real-time” data.
  • Sharp's Windows 8.1 tablet has serious specs: LTE, WQXGA
    Sharp’s Bay Trail-based tablet is packed with high-end features, including a 300ppi display.
  • Rein in Your Creativity: 5 Productivity Tools for Designers

    2013-12-16-shutterstock_128298695.jpg

    By Anneke Steenkamp

    Creativity can be a blessing and a curse, depending on how you manage it. Very often individuals working in creative fields come up with spectacular ideas, but don’t have the discipline or tools to implement them. Productivity relies on finding simple methods to complete tasks. Here are some of the best tools for designers to help reach their creative potential:

    PrtScr

    When working with a group of designers, it’s handy to have a tool that can simplify the screen shot process. PrtScr is one of those helpful screen capture and annotation tools and its stylish interface and user-friendly function sets them apart from the competition.  PrtScr has a variety of functions aiding the capturing process, allowing you to make captions and scale images. Plus, this productivity tool is free!

    Pomodairo

    If a lack of time management is your downfall, Pomodairo will be your saving grace. Pomodairo is a timer and task management tool based on the Pomodoro timing method similar to that of a cooking timer. The app serves as a Pomodoro timer set with 25 minute productivity intervals. You can choose whether you want the tell-tale “tick tock” sound or just an alarm after 25 minutes.

    This tool helps you to identify interruptions during your working intervals influencing your productivity so that you could take these factors into consideration when planning your daily tasks. This application also allows for short breaks in between these works session. Use Pomodairo for your design project by dividing your tasks into small sessions of 25 minutes each.

    InvisionApp

    Design is nothing without sharing your skills and expertise. Invisionapp gives you the chance to share mockups and demos through their various design phases with your fellow designers or colleagues. The Invision App is a next generation creative sharing tool where you could even link up sketches, wireframes and innovative designs.

    This is ideal for designers trying to juggle various tasks at once and keep track of all the changes and developments made.

    Evernote

    Evernote can really boost your productivity if you know how to make the most of this application. One of the worst habits of creatives is getting lost in the information overload of their craft. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, they browse through tutorials, websites, articles and watch videos as a part of their procrastination. Evernote will help eliminate the temptation of having to read every article and follow every link by “saving it for later.”

    Evernote allows you to save pieces of inspiration by labeling them with particular tags. By installing the Evernote to your toolbar you will be able to ‘bookmark’ these pages, snippets or URLs by clicking the Evernote elephant icon. Bring some structure to your chaos by using Evernote as your online journal.

    CC Cleaner

    CC Cleaner  cleans up all the cluster and junk that accumulates on your PC. Through this clean-up service your will be able to be more productive purely because your computer will be smoother and faster once it’s “clean” and organized.

    Being a master of your craft can be tricky. Make use of these web applications and tools to simplify your work methods and keep you on track.

     

  • Apple loses NZ court fight over 'driPhone' trademark dispute
    A small-time inventor in New Zealand has accomplished something giant rival Samsung has not: he has won against Apple in court. The case revolved around Hayden Crowther’s use of the name “driPhone” for his line of waterproof phone cases. Apple, obligated by trademark law to “aggressively” protect its trademarks or risk losing them, sued over the concern that consumers would think the cases were an Apple product. A New Zealand court disagreed.
        



  • Chromebase: LG's all-in-one desktop that runs Chrome OS
    The electronics giant announces a full HD 21.5-inch screen desktop computer that easily runs Google products, like Gmail, Drive, Play, and Google+ Hangouts.
  • Facebook tourist walks off pier
    A Taiwanese tourist is rescued after walking off a pier in the Australian city of Melbourne while checking her Facebook page, police say.
  • <i>Huffington</i> Photo Issue 2013: The Year In Images
    Huffington’s year-end double issue presents the biggest news of the 2013, all through the prism of photography. It covers key categories, from national and international news to entertainment and innovations, and includes analysis from top experts in the field. Throughout, it is an effortless, visually engaging way to pause and relive the year’s most memorable moments.

    The Photo Issue, available Friday, Dec. 27, Huffington free in the iTunes App store.

    Huffington, the weekly magazine app from the team behind The Huffington Post, offers iPad users an in-depth Huffington Post experience on a mobile platform. Huffington takes the best of HuffPost’s Pulitzer Prize-winning original content–including news of the week, deeply reported features, enticing Q&As, photo essays, top-tier commentary, and notable quotes from the HuffPost community–and puts it in an elegantly designed showcase that allows readers to have a deeper and richer reading experience.

  • Google Glass takes photos by winking
    Google introduces a new feature to its Google Glass, which allows users to take a photo with a “wink of the eye”.
  • What is the appeal of Candy Crush Saga?
    How does a ‘free’ game make so much money?
  • You Are Not a Software Engineer
    You are not a Software Engineer. You do not build skyscrapers. You do not build bridges.

    You grow gardens.

    You are a Software Gardener.

  • College Student Creates Waterproof Silic Shirt (That Won't Give You Cancer)
    When Aamir Patel, 20, saw the amazing viral videos for NeverWet — a product you can spray on just about anything and make waterproof — he was hooked. That is, until he read the warning label.

    “Like a lot of people, I was mesmerized by the NeverWet and Ultra Ever Dry sprays that went viral on YouTube,” Patel told The Huffington Post. “I went down to Home Depot and bought a can to apply it on a shirt. After wearing it around for about an hour or so I started feeling dizzy and short of breath. I looked at the back of the can and was shocked after reading the warning label, which said the product was cancerous and had serious side effects.”

    As BuzzFeed notes, ingesting the stuff may cause permanent brain damage. But the potential health concern wasn’t the only problem Patel noticed.

    “I also put the shirt in the washer to soften it up since the spray made the texture hard and sticky,” he claimed. “Immediately the shirt was ruined.”

    Patel, a sophomore at De Anza College, decided he could do better.

    Now, he’s launched a Kickstarter project for Silic, t-shirts that he claims are soft, safe and washable. And if his video is accurate, they can withstand a whole lot of Gatorade.

    “I knew there had to be a way to make a product that was safe for consumer use and could last through the wash cycles,” he said. Patel claims that Silic shirts should withstand about 80 washes. Instead of a coating, Silic is made out of fibers woven with silica so the shirt is hydrophobic from the inside out. Patel suggests that this process also gives the shirts an antimicrobial quality, eliminating sweat stains and mold.

    “We use a four-way stretch polyester similar to the fabric you would find in a Nike or Under Armor shirt,” said Patel. “It is very soft and the nanotechnology does not alter its feel since it is not a topical coating.”

    He didn’t cut corners, either. Patel’s partnered with Rebecca Clark, who was formerly a designer with Vera Wang, to handle the pattern and design, and — just to be extra safe — he got the shirts BlueSign approved for safety and sustainability.

    Check out Silic’s Kickstarter campaign here, and see the shirt in action in the video above.

  • VIDEO: Exhibition shows London 'under concrete'
    New exhibition re-imagines the London which could have been
  • Meg Whitman's salary bumped from a buck to $1.5 million
    As Hewlett-Packard stock prices beat Wall Street’s expectations this year, the company’s CEO is in line for a major raise.
  • Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman Gets Raise From $1 To $1.5 Million

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman is getting a huge raise as she enters the third year of her attempt to turn around the slumping personal computer and printer maker.

    Whitman’s annual salary is soaring to $1.5 million from the $1 that she settled for during her first two years on the job, according a regulatory documents filed Tuesday. The raise approved last week is retroactive to Nov. 1, the beginning of Hewlett-Packard Co.’s fiscal year.

    HP said the bigger paycheck will make Whiteman’s salary comparable to what CEOs of similar-sized companies make. HP earned $5 billion on revenue of $112 billion during its last fiscal year.

    The Palo Alto, Calif., company’s annual revenue has fallen by 12 percent over the past two years as PC sales have declined amid a shift to smartphones and tablets. Whitman has been trying to counter the downturn by expanding into more profitable niches such as business software, data analysis and technology-consulting services.

    Whitman is a billionaire who agreed when HP hired her as CEO in September 2011 to accept a nominal salary partly because she realized the company would have to trim its payroll to offset the drop in revenue. Not long after Whitman took control, the company set out to eliminate nearly 30,000 jobs.

    HP’s revenue is still falling, but the company’s stock has risen by 20 percent since Whitman took over. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index has climbed about 58 percent during the same period. HP’s shares plunged during Whitman’s first 15 months on the job, but have nearly doubled this year in a sign of increased investor confidence in her ability to get the company back on the right track.

    Despite the rally, HP was dropped from the prestigious Dow Jones industrial average earlier this year, partly because its stock price remains well below where it stood just a few years ago. The shares closed Tuesday at $27.45, about 40 percent below their value in August 2010 when HP parted ways with Mark Hurd as its CEO amid questions about his relationship with a company contractor and his expense reports. Hurd is now a top executive at HP rival Oracle Corp., where he is paid an annual salary of $950,000.

    Whitman could afford to forego much of the salary routinely paid to corporate CEOs. Her wealth is estimated at $1.9 billion by Forbes magazine. Most of Whitman’s fortune flowed from her success running eBay Inc. during the Internet bazaar’s formative years. She stepped down as eBay’s CEO in 2008 and subsequently made an unsuccessful run to become California’s governor.

    Other billionaire CEOs who limit their salary to $1 include Google Inc.’s Larry Page and Oracle’s Larry Ellison.

    Despite her paltry salary, Whitman has still been richly compensated during her stint as HP CEO. Most of her pay has come in the form of stock awards designed to give her an incentive to boost HP’s market value. Her initial pay packages have been valued at $15.4 million to $16.5 million, mostly because of the stock award. HP hasn’t yet revealed how much stock, bonus and other perquisites that Whitman received in the last fiscal year to supplement her annual salary.

    Tuesday’s regulatory filing didn’t discuss how Whitman’s higher salary might affect the rest of her pay package for the current fiscal year.

  • China Moon Probe VIDEO Shows 'Chang'e' Nail Landing On Lunar Surface
    A breathtaking new video shows the vertiginous descent of China’s new Chang’e-3 lunar probe — and showcases the rise of that nation’s increasingly ambitious space program.

    Chinese State Television released the video of the lunar landing, which took place Saturday, Dec. 14. Check it out in the YouTube clip above from Russia Today.

    “It’s still a significant technological challenge to land on another world,” Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane’s Space Systems and Industry, told the Associated Press. “Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn’t have an atmosphere so you can’t use parachutes or anything like that. You have to use rocket motors for the descent and you have to make sure you go down at the right angle and the right rate of descent and you don’t end up in a crater on top of a large rock.”

    The landing vehicle carried China’s first moon rover Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit.” The six-wheeled, 300-pound rover will collect 3D images and take soil samples as parts of its mission to better understand the moon’s surface and its atmosphere.

    The video is reminiscent of the video shot by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they guided their lunar module to the moon’s surface back in 1969.

  • Jaguar Spoofs Mercedes Chicken Commercial Because Cat-Like Reflexes Are Better
    You may remember the recent chicken commercial by Mercedes-Benz. You know, the one that showcased the “magic” ability of chickens to keep their heads still in a display of absolute control to represent the car.

    The ad amassed more than 7 millions views on YouTube.

    But the people at carmaker Jaguar weren’t impressed.

    Watch them spoof the Mercedes commercial by plucking the chicken — because cat-like reflexes are better than magic body control.

    Do you agree?

  • Twitter study shows iPad, iPhone most popular desired tech gifts
    Apple’s iPad and iPhone are among the most desired items being mentioned on Twitter for this holiday season, according to one analysis. In a new report released on Tuesday, analyst Gene Munster pointed to a Piper Jaffray study of more than 25,000 tweets, claiming that the iPhone and iPad were among the items most mentioned in connection with a desired gift. The findings appear to jibe with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s earlier prediction that this holiday season would be “an iPad Christmas.”
        



  • Why Barrett Brown's Trial Matters
    Before he was arrested and detained, I asked Barrett Brown why he didn’t encrypt his communications. He replied, “I don’t consider myself a criminal in any shape or form and never have, and refuse to ‘hide’ from a government I see as illegitimate.”

    As a journalist who’d been around awhile and witnessed the media’s incompetency firsthand, Barrett understood the stakes in the ongoing information war, and that’s why he devoted himself with zeal to advocating for Anonymous. Erroneously pegged by the media as a “spokesperson” for the group, he merely served as a colorful character to explain its operations, though he never participated in hacking. Far more near and dear to him than Anonymous was the outfit he’d created, called Project PM.

    Project PM is a crowd-sourced investigation focusing on private contractors and their dealings with governments. It was designed to be an actionable resource for anyone interested in learning about the growing surveillance state, the activities of cybersecurity firms, and other threats. Using a combination of open source intelligence, e-mails leaked by hackers, and ordinary research, they released reports and exposed a number of alarming capabilities, particularly showing that activists and journalists were at significant risk from rogue elements of the intel community-even before Snowden blew the whole system wide open.

    It’s no accident that the DOJ, which has already been implicated in schemes to go after critical journalists and activists (see: Team Themis), has brought its full force down upon Barrett Brown, overreaching quite dramatically in the process. The existence since September of a gag order is telling, as is the earlier subpoena of his website to identify those he worked with. Altogether he’s looking at a maximum sentence of 105 years in prison, and the idea that his persecution could be unconnected to his work is absurd.

    A few months ago Rolling Stone posited that “Brown’s case is a bellwether for press freedoms in the new century, where hacks and leaks provide some of our only glimpses into the technologies and policies of an increasingly privatized national security-and-surveillance state.” Indeed. So it’s not surprising that the establishment seeks to imprison and silence those intent on using the advances of the information age to expose it. In effect, the FBI has outed itself as ever-so-dutiful servants of the private security companies Brown was researching.

    In cases involving information activists who threaten the status quo, the feds stack the deck and disregard the rule of law. It happens frequently nowadays. They twist statutes beyond recognition, overcharge the defendant and misapply due process as a crude mockery of “justice.” They exploit vulnerable personalities and prey on a defendant’s inability to gain wider support or mount a competent defense. They count on this strategy to succeed, but we can’t let them.

    There’s a small minority of people who’d rather focus on the circumstances of Brown’s arrest — that is, how he reacted to being investigated, raided, and surveilled by the FBI, while being incessantly harassed online by contractors, informants and trolls, and the very real legal threats against his mother-while ignoring the more significant First Amendment issues at stake. These people have already convicted him in their minds, despite the doctrine of “innocent until proven guilty.”

    His critics focus on a video in which he demanded his stuff back from the feds along with an apology, and vowed to investigate and expose the lead agent on his case — explicitly disavowing violence — while pledging to defend himself. He proposed to do to them what had been done to him. We could speculate about what his state of mind was when he made those statements, but what does it matter? Apart from the fact that he didn’t hurt anyone, and the very murky, questionable nature of the supposed “threat”, along with the obvious free speech implication, when one examines the rest of what he’s been charged with, these allegations patently represent the least of what he’s facing.

    More to the point, the central charges in his case threaten our right to link, and could set a legal precedent for the criminalization of transmitting certain hyperlinks. It’s a classic slippery slope. Fundamentally this is about Internet and press freedom, and it affects us all.

    The link at issue didn’t only contain credit cards — it was Statfor’s customer database, revealing the extensive connections of their clients to the government, private industry, the military and defense world, and think-tanks. One could search for email addresses or names within that list and find all sorts of noteworthy things. There’s no allegation that Barrett used this information for financial gain, that he was involved in the breach, or that he hosted it anywhere. Jeremy Hammond pled guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison for some of these actions. And yet here we are: multiple counts of identity theft and fraud. It seems like they piled on whatever they could, right?

    The question is: what does this mean for people who link to WikiLeaks? Or journalists who use leaked or stolen source material? What does this mean for technology reporters filing stories about hacks of password databases? And what about the average Internet user — should they also be prosecuted for their curiosity?

    Organizations and citizens alike devoted to a free press and digital rights are concerned.

    When agents came to his mother’s home and asked if he wanted to hand over his laptops (later obtaining a warrant), he was in the middle of writing a book about Anonymous, while still searching through the Stratfor e-mails for stories and directing Project PM. Michael Hastings reported, “They’re after his Twitter records, chat logs, IRC conversations, his computer, and apparently everything else.” They seized all those things and more. As a result of his case we now understand that the FBI expects investigative journalists to hand over their computers and sources or else they could face obstruction of justice charges.

    The search warrant listed HBGary and Endgame Systems, two firms which were written about at Project PM. Brown noted that those searching his belongings would find evidence of wrongdoing by contractors, yet “they will not choose to investigate those sorts of things.” Such is our two-tiered justice system, with a revolving door between agencies and firms.

    In recent years, many journalists covering the national security beat have been subpoenaed for their sources; although leaks are tolerated when their purpose is to make the current administration look good. The New York Court of Appeals recently held, “There is no principle more fundamental or well-established than the right of a reporter to refuse to divulge a confidential source.” Yet the colluding interests of the security apparatus and its federal enforcers don’t believe in reporter’s privilege, as exemplified here.

    If independent journalists like Brown cannot publish the truth without becoming a target of extremely selective and vindictive prosecution, the concept of freedom of the press which is vital for democracy is as good as dead. His continuing pretrial detention on an extremely dubious (and secret) basis has already had chilling effects and occurs contrary to any notion of the public interest. People are now thinking twice before linking to things.

    Ultimately it’s other voices like Barrett’s, without institutional backing or adequate shield law as protection, who are most at risk. Supporting digital security for journalists is one way forward.

    Another question raised at his trial could be the false distinction between journalism and activism, or the legitimacy of “advocacy journalism.” This is a crucial debate, but most have long recognized that standards of so-called journalistic objectivity are a joke. Before the 20th century, almost all journalists were partisan, and they were expected to be. Embedding oneself inside a worldwide movement for transparency without even the advantage of a mask, Barrett sensed where the action and the story lay, and decided to become a part of it. His experience told him that the Internet combined with a decentralized collective would be a powerful tool for political change, capable of challenging state and corporate concerns and reshaping the media landscape. His treatment, which is indicative of the perceived threat by those in power, shows that he was onto something.

    In any case, a memorandum filed by his defense lawyers puts to rest any argument about his role and status as a journalist.

    Noam Chomsky states that Barrett Brown is being “punished for the crime of taking citizenship seriously.” This is clear: he stands for values of liberty, transparency and privacy; though soon prosecutors in Dallas will try to persuade a jury otherwise. Increasingly, conscious citizens know the true score — an electronically connected generation that is skeptical of authority after a decade of failed wars and mass spying will not be fooled by their arguments.

    If the charges are not dropped or thrown out of court by next spring, and he finally makes it to trial, then we should severely doubt this administration’s commitment to the rule of law, free speech, freedom of the press, and one’s rights on the Internet. What we may witness next year is nothing other than a landmark case.

Mobile Technology News, December 17, 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.

  • Apple Releases OS X 10.9.1 Update for Macs

    After a short two month beta cycle, Apple has released OS X 10.9.1, the latest update to the Mavericks OS for Macs.  The update focuses on a lot of key areas for the OS that improve its performance or functionality.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the Mail app.
    As a side note, if you have not [...]

    The post Apple Releases OS X 10.9.1 Update for Macs appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • China survey: China Mobile deal could sell at least 12M units
    A new survey of Chinese consumers — including those not yet on smartphones but planning to move to them — predicts that a China Mobile deal that appears to be happening in spite of a lack of official announcements could result in an additional 12 million to 23 million iPhones sold in the first year. Though Apple already sells iPhones in China (including the latest models), the unveiling of a national LTE network for China and a deal with its largest carrier promises to boost the company’s fortunes substantially.
        



  • NSA data grab 'against constitution'
    A US judge rules the National Security Agency’s mass collection of telephone data is unconstitutional and an “Orwellian” invasion of privacy.
  • 3D Printing Can Turn You Into a Designer
    Recently, I learned that during a Black Friday sale, a popular consumer website offered a desktop 3D printer for sale. On the surface, it seemed rather surreal that a store, like an Amazon.com or BestBuy.com, would even be selling 3D printers. To my amazement, I found that they had sold hundreds of units in just a few hours! The result told me one thing — 3D printers are opening the door for everyday people to become designers.

    Designers are a novel breed. We think, eat and sleep design. We try to imagine the next version of something that exists, and contemplate new and innovative things that can revolutionize a task, or even an industry. What was a Ford station wagon in 1960, becomes an Audi Q7 today, thanks to innovation and design. Think “better, faster, cheaper, and easier to use.” Because design involves the desire to improve things, the idea of design becomes the motivation to turn ideas and concepts into real items. In a way, everyone is inherently a bit of designer.

    But for many people, design can seem cryptic and complicated. Knowledge of mechanism arrangement, tolerance stack up, motion kinematics, material properties, and fabrication methods are just not part of everyone’s typical abilities. But the 3D printer addresses one of the big elements — fabrication — by enabling a person to quite literally click a mouse button and build a complex object with little more than an idea and some computer-aided design (CAD) skills.

    What 3D printing has steadily turned into is an appliance, just like a stove or a toaster oven. Although there is a technology aspect in the use of a 3D printer (CAD software being the main one), for many people it’s no more complicated than learning how to use a computer or a smartphone for the first time. Companies like Google and Apple have proven that given enough technology, even grandparents and kids can learn to use a technology device.

    Today one only has to look online and see everything from custom jewelry to designer high-heeled shoes to furniture being made with 3D printers. People are fabricating toys, hand tools, and even orthopedic prosthetics, using these amazing machines. The printers themselves, and the technology that runs them, have evolved to a level where they have become both affordable and small enough to use in a household. What used to be upwards of $600,000 and the size of a large refrigerator can now be had for about $1,200 and will fit on your kitchen table.

    If you recall what the first Motorola “mobile cellular phone” looked like, it was expensive, and about as large as a medium-sized purse, with a huge battery and a goofy looking coiled “CB- radio” cord that connected the handset to the chassis. Compare that with today’s smartphone and you’ll understand the evolution that 3D printers have gone through.

    3D printing is becoming mainstream, thanks to the technology that makes them more affordable, smaller, and easier to use. What was once something from science fiction is now a reality for more and more people.

    Look into what 3D printing can do for you… because the technology door is wide open to everyone…

  • 15 Million Students Learned to Program This Week, Thanks to Hour of Code
    Hour of Code, a five-day-old initiative to get kids to take programming tutorials during Computer Science Education Week, will soon reach 15 million students, organizers said.

    From the start, Hour of Code had boosts from friends in high places. It was on the front page of both Google.com and Apple.com this week, and U.S. President Barack Obama even made a promo video. Code.org’s efforts apparently drove so much traffic to Khan Academy that the non-profit educational web site went down.

  • This Christmas House Light Show Is Next Level (VIDEO)
    Yes, that’s a lot of light.

    There are 250 strands of lights, with 100 individual bulbs per strand. That makes a total of 25,000 lights on this house in Odenton, Md., about 20 miles south of Baltimore.

    The amazing light show is put on by light specialist, Lights On Ice Crystal with the help of a neighbor.

    Lights On Ice Crystal is in his third season of decorating cheer, and told The Huffington Post in an email that all props and fixtures in display are made by him “with tons of time, zip ties and hot glue.”

    Check out his house playing Lorde “Royals” from Halloween. It will make you light right up.

    “I started setting up for Christmas pretty much right after Halloween,” he said. “There are 16 North Pole/candy canes that line the sidewalks. … New this year is the mega spiral tree to the right, which is a 10 foot tall tree I built from scratch, 8 strands of each color (red, blue, green and white) for a total of 3,200 lights on the tree.”

    The lights dance to six songs right now, but Lights On Ice Crystal is working on adding a few more tunes. Viewers can experience the holiday cheer by parking front of the house, and tuning in to 98.5 FM to listen to the lights dance with the music.

    If you would like to see the house for yourself, send a Facebook message to Lights On Ice Crystal for the exact location and directions.

  • WestJet In-Flight Wi-Fi Expected To Arrive In 2014
    In-flight Wi-Fi could finally come to Canada next year.

    In an interview with the Calgary Herald, WestJet’s CEO Gregg Saretsky told the paper the airline is poised to become Canada’s first to offer the service within the country.

    We haven’t signed a contract yet, but we’re getting very close to the short strokes on that,” Saretsky told the paper. “If we can get the last of the contract terms resolved quickly, it might be announced before Christmas. Otherwise, it will be early in the year.”

    Air Canada currently offers in-flight Internet access but only in U.S. airspace on flights departing from Toronto and Montreal to Los Angeles, according to the Airline Passenger Experience Association.

    In-flight Wi-Fi has become popular with travellers flying from the States thanks to carriers such as Delta, JetBlue or United Airlines. South of the border, airlines provide in-flight Internet access via satellite and ground-to-air signal technologies that currently don’t exist in Canada.

    WestJet has yet to announce how they’ll provide the service and remains mum on who their wireless provider will be.

    The airline said it had its eye on Gogo, one of the frontrunners in the ground-to-air sector within the in-flight Internet industry, with great interest back in September, Canada.com reports.

    The timing seems right as the U.S. lawmakers recently ruled it safe to use personal electronics during the entire flight.

    According to the Globe and Mail, Transport Canada has been mulling a possible change to in-flight electronics use ban since June. Saretsky predicts Transport Canada will eventually make the change, much like the U.S.

    “We’ve been working hard with them on this, because obviously if we get to a place where we have connectivity, we want people to be able to use their devices,” Saretsky said.

  • Cybercrime shopping list prices fall
    Why the price for hacked personal details is falling
  • MetroGnome Remixes Breaking Bad Theme Song, And It Is Awesome
    It’s been nearly three months since the widely acclaimed AMC series “Breaking Bad” ended, but fans continue to help expand the show’s legacy.

    Amid a sea of “Breaking Bad” tributes, YouTube artist MetroGnome dropped his remix in November of the TV series theme song. Aside from making an awesome song, the Indian-born artist made a video of him performing the track. Naturally, the visual component pays tribute to the show’s two stars.

  • How 'Ninjas' Are Fighting Superbugs
    “Ninjas” are coming to the rescue in the fight against superbugs.

    Researchers at IBM have developed materials one thousand times smaller than a grain of sand that attack antibiotic-resistant bacteria and infectious diseases by tracking them down in the body and stealthily ripping through the outer wall of their cells, spilling out their contents and causing them to drop dead. These breakthrough materials in nanomedicine, dubbed “ninja particles,” are miniscule, non-toxic structures that biodegrade after accomplishing their mission so they don’t build up in our bodies.

    It’s the kind of attack that this frightening wave of new bugs can’t adapt to — unlike antibiotics.

    And this discovery took place not a minute too soon. The dramatic rise in antibiotic resistance has prompted concern that we may face a future where people die from once-curable infections. Each year, more than 23,000 Americans die from superbugs, such as the notorious MRSA infection, while more than two million Americans fall ill, according to the CDC.

    Our approach is “techie” through and through. To create the ninja particles, we applied some of the same principles we’re using to shrink semiconductor manufacturing to nanoscale level. IBM researchers developed nanoscale polymer specks that can be tailored to a whole array of new uses, whether to create sterile surfaces in hospitals and restaurants or even to help find a new cure for athlete’s foot.

    For combating diseases, the polymers work as follows: once they come into contact with water or are in the body, they’re designed to self assemble into a new structure that — just like a magnet — is physically attracted to infected cells and attacks them by piercing their walls. The polymers are designed to target the infected cells based on particular electrostatic interactions. By selectively killing difficult-to-treat bacteria, they leave the surrounding healthy cells untouched.

    This armor-piercing attack is game-changing in two ways: Traditional antibiotics leave the cell wall and membrane of bugs largely undamaged, giving them a chance to evolve and become drug resistant. At the same time, the high doses of antibiotics needed to kill an infection also destroy a good number of the healthy red blood cells we need to combat the diseased ones.

    And the polymers can help put a stop to the proliferation of anti-bacterial products, from hand wipes to socks, that have had a hand in bringing about the rise of superbugs and, paradoxically, making us less safe.

    An added bonus is that these ninja particles are green. Because they’re made by taking everyday plastic bottles, we are finding a really important use for them. Instead of making a recycled park bench made out of old plastic bottles, we can now create armies of bug-fighting ninjas.

    Besides their broad application to hospitals during operations as gels, wipes or special coatings, the ninja particles could be used to replace some of the antifungal and antibiotic chemicals — such as formaldehyde — that, though in wide use by consumer goods, food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical makers, have raised health concerns or even been found to be carcinogenic.

    These kinds of uses are still years away, but the ninja particles are already off to a promising start and are on their way to taking on superbugs.

    To learn more about ninja polymers, click here.

  • Brodie Smith's 2013 Trick Shot Vine Compilation Is Insane (VIDEO)
    Brodie Smith is still at it.

    Two years after the Ultimate Frisbee star completed a pass to a receiver on a moving speedboat, Smith is still putting together mind-blowing trick shots. The University of Florida graduate has just come out with his latest video, a Vine compilation of his best shots from 2013. No longer a one-trick pony, Smith has begun to incorporate basketball, football, soccer — and even girls on bikes — into his videos.

    If you ever had doubts about Smith’s skills, chances are they will be extinguished in the next five minutes.

  • Growing pains for crowdfunding
    Why crowdfunding might not work for the small guy
  • Do Canadians Binge Watch Better Than American TV Viewers?
    Canadians binge watch TV better than Americans, eh?

    That’s what Grant McCracken, a Canadian cultural anthropologist, has learned after being hired by Netflix to study the binge-watching habits of Canadian and American TV lovers.

    According to McCracken’s study, 61 percent of the 1,500 Netflix customers surveyed said that they watch “at least two or three episodes back-to-back in one sitting every few weeks,” according to the Hollywood Reporter. While 73 percent polled said “they have positive feelings towards binge streaming TV.”

    McCracken also explained why he felt binge watching had taken off recently. He said that it was “due to a perfect storm of better TV, our current economic climate and the digital explosion of the last few years.” McCracken continued, “But this TV watcher is different, the couch potato has awoken. And now that services like Netflix have given consumers control over their TV viewing, they have declared a new way to watch.”

    So where do our Neighbors to the North figure into this? Well, McCracken observed that “Canadians watching TV astride the American colossus are just that much more engaged about analyzing what they view when streaming on their tablet and laptop, or consuming full-season DVD sets.”

    Whether Canadians or Americans binge watch better is up for debate, but with 76 percent of those polled saying that binge watching is their preferred way to watch their shows, it is clear that this marathon viewing is the “new normal.”

  • This Map Shows How 'Beyonce' Burned Down The Internet
    Never underestimate the element of surprise. Or Beyonce.

    Last Thursday, the pop star shook up the music world by announcing and dropping a new, self-titled album on iTunes out of the blue. It’s already a massive success, with 828,773 in sales over a record-breaking weekend.

    One cool way to see just how big of the surprise it was is with an interactive map created by Twitter itself. It shows where and when people started tweeting about Beyonce. The U.S. East Coast was particularly enthralled.

    Check out the map below.

    With that kind of success, you need to just dance.

    [h/t Twitter Music via Time]

  • <i>Huffington</i> Issue 80: The Yoga Story, Selfie-Help Apps And More
    In this week’s issue of Huffington magazine, we explore yoga’s unusual journey in the U.S., as it traveled far from its roots, exploded into a $27 billion industry, and found its way back to its spiritual origins. Elsewhere in the issue, we discover the proliferation of apps that let users though up their photos — from adding eyelashes to erasing lines — before posting them to social media. And don’t miss our martini taste test, sit-down with Jared Leto and much more.

    Huffington free in the iTunes App store

    Huffington, the weekly magazine app from the team behind The Huffington Post, will now offer iPad users an in-depth Huffington Post experience on a mobile platform. Huffington takes the best of HuffPost’s Pulitzer Prize-winning original content–including news of the week, deeply reported features, enticing Q&As, photo essays, top-tier commentary, and notable quotes from the HuffPost community–and puts it in an elegantly designed showcase that allows readers to have a deeper and richer reading experience.

    Download it free in the App Store today and spend a little more time with Huffington.

  • Facebook Launches 'Donate' Button
    Instead of just “liking” a cause on Facebook, users can now make a tangible difference without clicking away from the social networking site.

    Facebook unveiled its “Donate Now” button on Monday, which allows users to give money to charity while perusing an organization’s page.

    So far 19 nonprofits — including DonorsChoose, Oxfam and Livestrong –- are accepting donations via Facebook and the option will become available to more organizations soon, according to a press release.

    facebook donate

    Facebook decided to roll out the feature after experimenting with accepting donations in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

    “After seeing the generosity of people around the world toward this effort, we’ve been inspired to help everyone donate, at any time, to the organizations they care about most,” Facebook said in a press release.

    The button will collect credit card numbers and other billing information for Facebook, which could help the company with its ecommerce and gaming initiatives. TechCrunch noted.

    Thus far, a number of users have expressed their appreciation for the ease at which they can now donate.

    Love the simplicity! http://t.co/aKLTU1dvfP

    — Lynn Schafer (@lynnschafer) December 16, 2013

    Will be nice when this rolls out for all nonprofits! — Facebook Adds ‘Donate Now’ Button for Non-Profits http://t.co/o7IzYWrXuM @mashable

    — Sable Bender (@sablebender) December 16, 2013

  • Obama Meeting With Tech CEOs Amid NSA Surveillance Concerns
    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will meet Tuesday with executives from leading technology companies, including Google, Twitter and Apple.

    The White House says the meeting will focus on efforts to repair the Obama administration’s HealthCare.gov website and reforming government information technology. Leaks related to National Security Agency’s surveillance programs are also on the agenda. Obama will also discuss ways government and tech can partner to grow the economy. A number of the companies attending, including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook, are urging Obama to curb surveillance programs after the extent of the information the U.S. collects through their systems was revealed. Several companies are introducing more encryption technology to shield users’ data from government spies and other prying eyes.

    CEOs from Netflix, Comcast, LinkedIn, Etsy and AT&T will also join Tuesday’s session.

  • The Future of the Internet!
    2013-12-16-ep05_splash.jpg
    [Image Credit / Alicia Herbert]

    The Internet is a ubiquitous phenomenon that seemingly emerged out of nowhere. In my opinion, this emergence represents the most powerful example of exponential computational improvements. You don’t need me to tell you that the effects of networked computers have been overwhelmingly pervasive, but I find that too few people realize that the Internet is still in its infancy, and it’s still got a lot of evolving to do. So what is the future of this medium? How will it continue to shape our lives in the 2020s? 2030s? 2040s? Like the second The Advanced Apes video “Can We Live Forever?“, I put my futurist hat on and tried to see what we can expect from the Internet in the near-term future:

    So the major point of that video, as I stated towards the end, was to help people contextualize the Internet’s development. It is inherently difficult for the human brain to understand the overwhelming implications of exponential growth. The Internet is a great example of this because very few people saw it coming in the first place, even though its emergence was predictable from an exponential point of view. Take a look at the following graphs from Ray Kurzweil’s 2001 article “The Law of Accelerating Returns“:

    2013-12-16-linear.png
    [Image Credit / Kurzweilai.net]

    2013-12-16-exponential.png
    [Image Credit / Kurzweilai.net]

    The first graph shows the Internet’s growth on a linear scale. The second graph shows the Internet’s growth on an exponential scale. From a linear perspective, it is understandable that few people saw the Internet coming. But from an exponential scale, the Internet’s explosive emergence could be predicted with startling accuracy.

    The point of this discussion is two-fold. First, the Internet should continue to accelerate in its growth at an exponential pace until all 7 (or 8) billion of us are connected. Second, exponential growth does not just apply to the Internet, but also to all the information and communication technologies (ICT) that we build the Internet with. As a result, it is quite easy to predict what type of medium we will be communicating within during the 2020s, 2030s, or even the 2040s.

    Therefore, I don’t think it’s outlandish for me to state that the changes caused by networked computing will be the major theme of our lives.

    I tried to explore some of the major changes that I think will define the Internet in the next 2-3 decades (e.g.,2010s, 2020s, 2030s):

    • Wearable computing (which is obviously already emerging)
    • Ubiquitous global Internet connection (e.g., Google Loon)
    • Ubiquitous computation (i.e., Internet of Things; Ambient Intelligence, etc.)
    • Artificial intelligence
    • Semantic web
    • Full-immersion virtual reality
    • Inter-Planetary Internet

    There were so many aspects of these changes that I was not able to explore with great depth (i.e., like Vint Cerf’s idea for an Interplanetary Internet or Helen Duce’s idea for “The Internet of Things“), and there were also so many aspects of future Internet changes that I didn’t have time to mention at all (i.e., how will brain-interface devices and nano-assemblers interact with and enhance our experience with the Internet?)! “The Future of the Internet” is a big question to explore in only 5-6 minutes, and possibilities presented by technologies like “full-immersion virtual reality” or phenomena like “ambient intelligence” really deserve their own videos.

    Of course, because we are discussing the future, there will be disagreement (perhaps intense disagreement) about how much of an impact something like wearable computing or the semantic web will have. For example, some people think that wearable computing is too impractical and raises too many privacy concerns for it to really take off (although I would note that people thought tablets were impractical as well). Whereas some think that semantic web projects will ultimately fail to capture all of human knowledge in an explicit and logical format.

    However, the point of this video was to emphasize some of the technological possibilities. In my opinion, these technological possibilities have a high probability of being realized, even if it is more difficult to say with a high degree of certainty how we will incorporate these emergent technologies into our lives.

    From an anthropological point of view I like to think about how these technologies are already changing what it means to be human. We have always been cyborgs, but ubiquitous access to the Internet makes this increasingly evident. We can now extend our minds and preserve them on other mediums. We are curating an online presence that is becoming ever more integrated with our “real world” presence. The ICT developments on the near-term horizon will likely blur the lines between these two versions of yourself (if they haven’t already been completely blurred).

    Furthermore, ICT creates “social worm holes” that allow us to transcend previously insurmountable space-time barriers bringing the world conversation closer together at a pace that mirrors the exponential development of ICT itself. In my opinion, this brings us remarkably close to a global civilization that has eradicated geography. Where you happen to be located on planet Earth, shouldn’t matter too much in the 2030s or 2040s. Of course, eradicating geography is achievable to some degree today, as I could easily call or Skype to verbally communicate with someone in Belgium or China. But this process is relative, as I cannot easily physically interact with someone in Belgium or China because the virtual and “real worlds” have not completely blurred yet. A complete blurring will change every aspect of how we live our lives and interact with the rest of humanity. What does a planet covered in advanced easily accessible space-time wormholes look like?

    But these are just some of my thoughts on the future of the Internet, and I’m interested to know what you think. Have I missed any of the potentially world shattering near-term future aspects of the Internet? How do you think your life will change as the Internet continues to grow and evolve? Let me know below or reach out on Twitter! (@cadelllast)

    Oh! And if you liked the video, check out The Advanced Apes channel and subscribe!

  • Evernote App Update Brings Business Card Scanner For Premium Users

    I have been an unapologetic Evernote users for years now and the San Francisco based company continues to improve the service and their app to make me all-the-more productive.  The latest version of the Evernote app for iPhone and iPad brings the usual mix of fixes but also has brought a new [...]

    The post Evernote App Update Brings Business Card Scanner For Premium Users appeared first on AlliOSNews.

Mobile Technology News, December 16, 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.

  • 27 Best Vines Of The Week In 1 Video: Dec. 9 – Dec. 15, 2013 (VIDEO)
    Vine, Twitter’s micro-video social network, is perhaps the best form of entertainment for Generation Distraction. With a limit of six seconds per video, Vine allows viewers to absorb a diverse array of content in just a few minutes, and forces Vine-makers to be concise with their creations. The result is a steady supply of hilarious, surprising and inventive mini-movies.

    To celebrate this relatively new medium, we’ll be doing a weekly compilation of our favorite Vines. This week, we offer everything from a dog who’s very protective of his beer to the best way to listen to music at Walmart, and of course, what happens when dolphin impressions go wrong. If you see something you like, we encourage you to follow its creator on Vine. If there’s something you don’t like, well, just wait a few seconds and it will be over.

    Video produced by Oliver Noble

  • Keith Alexander, Rick Ledgett Discuss Amnesty For Edward Snowden
    Director of the National Security Agency Gen. Keith Alexander doesn’t believe amnesty is the answer to ending Edward Snowden’s leaks of classified documents.

    In an interview that aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday, Alexander likened the scenario to a hostage situation: If an individual was to shoot 10 of 50 hostages, Alexander explained, he shouldn’t be set free in exchange for the 40 remaining hostages.

    “I think people have to be held accountable for their actions,” Alexander said. “Because what we don’t want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data knowing they can strike the same deal.”

    However, the sentiment is not unanimous among high-ranking NSA officials. Rick Ledgett, the NSA official leading the task force to assess the damage done by Snowden’s leaks, disagrees with Alexander.

    “My personal view is, yes, it’s worth having a conversation about,” Ledgett told CBS. “I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.”

    Ledgett said some of the most worrying documents in Snowden’s possession are those that would provide a “roadmap” for other nations to protect themselves from U.S. surveillance efforts.

    To an adversary, Ledgett said, “It is the keys to the kingdom.”

  • Google buys military robot-maker
    Google acquires the engineering company that developed Cheetah, the world’s fastest-running robot and other animalistic mobile research machines.
  • Take two apps three times a day
    Take two apps three times a day
  • 'Quartered'/Weapons of Mass Distraction
    Joan:

    Quartered

    Fifteen minutes to read the morning news
    Fifteen minutes to listen — oh! To listen! To Massanet.
    Fifteen minutes to transform under steamy stream of shower
    Fifteen minutes to talk to my daughter.

    Quartered
    Into pieces life divided
    Cut up sliced priced
    Concise frame around fragments

    Fifteen minutes to make love
    Fifteen minutes to stroke the cat
    Fifteen minutes to scan the New Yorker
    Fifteen minutes to compare myself to poets therein.

    Quartered. Multi-tasking,
    Quartermaster, multi-functioned, fully maxed.
    “Extended Partial Attention:” A new breed of
    Children’s brains attuned to music, TV, computer.

    No! I wont travel that road,
    I’ll stay my course,
    Fight till the end
    For forest walks
    A day without planning
    Revel in Tsukimi — bathing in moonlight
    Making love slowly
    On an endless Sunday afternoon.

    Then fifteen minutes back to town
    Fifteen minutes to come back down
    Fifteen minutes before the phone starts to ring
    Fifteen minutes to wonder what tomorrow will bring.

    Quartered, nickeled and dimed
    Urban huntresses search for sustenance
    Something not tainted not painted with mercury
    Or lime, not raised on a farm in a cage in a clime
    Warming and shrinking. Trying like hell
    To breathe — glorious breath of life.

    Renate:

    Weapons of Mass Distraction

    Did I hear this term somewhere? Or did it spring from my own brain? If it did, it’s because I’m afflicted. A victim of electronic distraction. Call it addiction if you must. It may not be terminal but I wonder. How often do I resist the beeping, humming, ringing, burping sounds of my “devices,” or the new email fluttering onto my screen? I interrupt my writing or anything else I am doing. Just a quick glimpse, I tell myself, and my nervous system spills out a few endorphins as a reward.

    Excitement — the hook. Excitement in the morning, excitement during a meal, excitement after midnight. My iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle, iMac (no product placement intended) have a promise in store all day long, to be gobbled up like popcorn. Electronic fast food. Everything fast, fast, fast. Speed and multitasking are the genies of this age of distraction. It doesn’t matter that fast is la grande illusion. One click on a link from a friend — oh, it’s one of those French cat videos on YouTube! Wait, this is hilarious. Cat doing the ménage? Too good to be true. What else? Cat as philosopher! Who’s behind this? A little research can’t hurt, can it? Who did the music on that? Oh, there’s Shostakovich, that bumpy little waltz that Pina Bausch used in one of her pieces: a long line of dancers swinging their butts with seductive smiles. Hm, that waltz also came up in a Netflix movie I rented a week ago — what was that movie again? No idea. Didn’t Scene4 also use it for a recent opening page? Let me look that up…

    Maybe I should call myself lucky that I am only affected by a handful of devices and not (yet?) infected by the bug of video games, online poker, a new app per day, or the need to read a dozen online newspapers and news blogs to know what’s really going on. The more sources of information, the more excitement, the more an unfortunate side-effect of the drug kicks in: guilt. Lack-of-information guilt, Facebook guilt, dragging-my-email-feet guilt — all culminating in the worst, most damning guilt: wasting-my-time-with-electronics.

    I don’t have to go paranoid with brain research here — parents and doctors kvetching about the next generation of kids with brains quite different from theirs. Multitasking, speed-addicted, split-image, split-personality brains. Orwell is waving hello. I can’t imagine a more potent weapon to put people out of civic or social commission through brain clutter, information flooding (Google Glasses), constant entertainment, instant gratification. And instant forgetting.

    Let the future worry about itself. Right now, I worry about what the electronic distraction is doing to culture, my culture. Where has it gone, the culture café of the past, the intellectual center where everyone (certainly my friends) would gather to see, read, and discuss what was relevant at the moment. I remember there was a consensus, everyone reading the same authors not because they were bestsellers but because they were artistically and existentially necessary. Proust, Primo Levi, Nabokov’s Lolita, Virginia Woolf. It was unthinkable to miss out on films by Bergman, Visconti, Fellini, Godard… And even on television, everyone would rush home in time to see certain shows — Upstairs Downstairs, The Singing Detective, Smiley’s People. I think the last time I visited this café the TV was tuned to The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Prime Suspect — before people split up into either Sex and the City or Queer as Folk and The L Word.

    Now, each one of my friends sees different movies, if they still go to the movies at all and don’t prefer to wait for the Netflix release, or sit at their computer binge-streaming TV series from the past they just discovered, years later. How do you talk about Homeland with friends who are just getting into Season 1 and others who are already comparing the series to its Israeli original, Prisoners of War, with 24 episodes available only on Hulu Plus or on multi-region players accepting European-format DVDs. Even our different electronic equipment divides us.

    It’s even more fragmented when it comes to who reads what right now. How many of my friends read up on Hannah Arendt to discuss how deadly wrong she was about Eichmann? Who has been reading Erik Larson’s weak account of Hitler’s Berlin, In the Garden of Beasts, and could discuss the comparison with Edmund de Waal’s history of a Jewish family’s rise and fall, The Hare With Amber Eyes?

    These gatherings and discussions aren’t happening or are isolated incidents of virtual simultaneity you can’t count on. If you want a moment of cultural cohesion it takes a lot of organizing. You don’t get it from FB “sharing” and “friending” and “commenting” and “liking.” Our cafeteria of the electronic age has way too many temptations, turning us into separate, more or less isolated, busy little tribes — tribes of often no more than one or two, each one with singular, odd passions. French cats, flash mobs, mangas inspired by Gertrude Stein, posting customer reviews of everything bought on Amazon, revisiting tennis legends, collecting urban legends, comparing every existing version of Vissi d’arte on YouTube. Passions that can be puzzling because who else understands the method to the madness? There’s just no time, no time to share, no time to spare because, wait, that was my iPhone chirping. A text message. Hold on.

  • The Dirty Little Secret About Human Intelligence
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    We are rightly fascinated with dolphins. They have the good fortune of being cute, friendly, curious and comical, graceful, powerful and highly social. Dolphins seem familiar, like a close family friend, but alien, too, living in a world we hardly understand. We are drawn to them as they are to us, bound by a common curiosity and innate urge to explore.

    Dolphins therefore naturally give us an ideal opportunity to discover the possibility of communicating with non-humans in ways not trivial. We are compelled to follow this path because doing so teaches us something deeply important about ourselves: how humans fit into the pantheon of life. Clearly if other animals exhibit impressive intelligence appropriate to their environment, perhaps we are not as special as we’ve been taught. A good conversation with a dolphin about the latest cetacean gossip would be convincing evidence that humans are not the pinnacle of evolution, only the temporary pinnacle of one small twig on the tree of life.

    We know that Homo sapiens (wise hominid) primates are late arrivals in the history of life. Through various fits, starts, and dead ends from Australopithecus to Paranthropus, through various Homo species like erectus and habilis, to modern sapiens, our lineage is short. Our most ancient direct-line ancestors only go back at most a few million years. Modern people, looking like us, have been around for only about 100,000 years. So what exactly is this experiment we call modern Homo sapiens? Does our intelligence and ability to communicate make us special? Dolphins put us to the test.

    We are compelled to follow this path because doing so teaches us something deeply important about ourselves: how humans fit into the pantheon of life. — Jeff Schweitzer

    We humans have always thought of ourselves as particularly bright, proudly noting our compassion, humor, altruism and impressive capacity to generate language, mathematics, tools, art, and music. In citing this self-serving list, filtered to our benefit, we assume that humans possess, and other animals lack, these honorable traits or capabilities. We ignore the inconvenient fact that we choose to define and measure intelligence in terms of our greatest strengths. We arbitrarily exclude from the definition of intelligence higher brain functions in other animals. Enter the compelling interest in communicating with dolphins. We would be low on the list of smart animals if we included in our basic definition of intelligence the ability to use self-generated sonar to explore the environment and to communicate.

    Descartes was convinced that animals completely lacked minds, and his influence is felt even today. Even Stephen Jay Gould, no species-centric chauvinist, concluded that consciousness has been “vouchsafed only to our species in the history of life on earth.” With all due respect to the late Professor Gould, perhaps one of the greatest evolutionary biologists of our time, the issue is not so simple. As with almost all aspects of comparative biology, intelligence, self-consciousness and self-awareness are elements of a continuum rather than phenomena with sharp boundaries between species. Intelligence and self-awareness do not belong exclusively in the domain of humankind. Dolphins are exhibit number one. Being smart seems to be a trait unique to human beings only when we artificially designate our particular suite of characteristics as the definition of intelligence, proving that circular logic is not too intelligent.

    Let’s dig a little deeper. Intelligence can be thought of as the ability to learn from experience (acquire and retain new knowledge), and to subsequently apply that new knowledge with flexibility to manipulate or adapt to a changing environment. Or we can view intelligence as the ability to create abstract thought, beyond instinct or responses to sensory input. Originality and creativity are hallmarks of intelligence, and both are found in abundance in dolphins. Imagine if we could actually talk to them; here is a glimpse of the kinds of insights we might gain. At the Makapuu Oceanic Center in Hawaii, trainers working with a female rough-toothed dolphin named Malia praised or fed her fish only for behaviors that had not been previously rewarded. Within a few days, Malia began performing novel aerial flips, corkscrews, new tail flaps, new twisted breaches, and other never-before-seen behaviors. Malia learned early on that the trainers were looking for new acts, not repetitions of previously demonstrated talents. As her repertoire expanded, she needed to create ever more unique combinations of movements to get a reward, which she did with aplomb, performing stunts so unusual that trainers could not have otherwise encouraged the behavior through standard training techniques. This propensity for originality and creativity was not a fluke unique to one individual.

    So yes, let us strive to communicate meaningfully with dolphins. Perhaps dolphins will teach us enough about ourselves so that we can learn to adopt a more humble understanding of our position in the biosphere. Being humble about who and what we are will be easier when we recognize our kinship with our cousins in the animal kingdom.

    Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

  • Internet's Sad Legacy: No More Secrets
    Anyone who can watch you will watch you.

  • Online Dating's Surprising Lesson About Race

    2013-12-15-raceonlinedating440x500.png
    Via qz.com

    Quartz, a business and marketing website, recently released data on the Facebook dating app Are You Interested (AYI), which connects singles within the confines of their direct and indirect Facebook networks. Quartz’ data are based on a series of yes or no questions about who users are interested in, as well as response rates between users, once notified of a potential suitor. The data show that white men and Asian women receive the most interest, whereas black men and women receive the least amount of interest (see headline photo for the complex picture of racial preference by gender). The writers at Quartz summarize the findings as follows:

    Unfortunately the data reveal winners and losers. All men except Asians preferred Asian women, while all except black women preferred white men. And both black men and black women got the lowest response rates for their respective genders.

    As a sociologist, I am entirely unsurprised that race matters, especially in such a personal process like dating/mating. However, these findings may come as a surprise to the (quite significant) segments of the population who identify as color-blind; those who label contemporary society post-racial.

    And this is why dating sites are so cool. Social psychologists know that what people say and what they do have little empirical connection. Dating sites capture what we do, and play it back for us. They expose who we are, who we want, and of course, who we don’t want. As shown by Quartz, “we” fetishize Asian women while devaluing blacks.

    With a schism between what people say and what they do; between what they say and what the unconsciously think, surveys of racial attitudes are always already quite limited. People can say whatever they want–that race doesn’t matter, that they don’t see color–but when it comes to selecting a partner, and the selection criteria are formalized through profiles and response decisions, we, as individuals and a society, can no longer hide from ourselves. The numbers blare back at us, forcing us to prosume uncomfortable cultural and identity meanings both personally and collectively.

    Of course, what these sites tell us about ourselves does not stop at race. They also tell us that we care about things like income, physical (dis)ability and body size, exposing the range of isms that American prefer not to speak of in polite company, and certainly refrain from applying to themselves.

    At an individual level, how someone fills in hir preferences and the way s/he engages (or refuses to engage) interested parties, tells that individual a lot about who s/he is. But dating sites, at a cultural level, are incredibly revealing even before the first user signs up. Indeed, before anyone has answered anything, the architecture of online dating sites say a lot. Namely, they tell us what we value. They tell us which characteristics are the ones about which we are likely to care; about which we should care.

    More concretely, the moment a site prompts users to select racial identification and/or racial preference, an embedded race-based value system is both exposed and reinforced. As such, although the Quartz graph of user data is revealing, the presence of racial identification and racial preference on dating sites in general already demolish arguments about colorblindness and post-racial culture.

    Jenny Davis is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at James Madison University. She writes about social psychology and new technologies. Jenny is a weekly contributor for the Cyborglogy blog (Cyborgology.org), where this piece first appeared.

  • IBM faces shareholder lawsuit over cooperation with NSA
    Lawsuit accuses the company of concealing that involvement with a controversial surveillance led to loss of sales and stock price decline.
  • Amazon Drones: Orwellian Mayhem?
    President Obama’s proposed 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) calls for a general ban on drone attacks on American citizens. On the December 1st telecast of 60 Minutes, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled his grand vision for drone attacks on our porches and personal spaces. From a warehouse to your front door, goods delivered in record time with minimal hassle. What could possibly go wrong with that? Pretty much everything and here’s why.

    First, consider the practical implications. Gift-bearing drones raining down on unsuspecting citizens pose a potential air traffic control nightmare, not to mention a recipe for power line disasters, car accidents, and a litany of potential mistargeted or malfunctioning deliveries. The FAA is attempting to circumnavigate all of this with a series of drone safety and usage rules that Bezos hopes will take effect in 2015. But rules and practice often don’t move in sync.

    Second, look at the moral implications. Beyond the technology itself, using drones forces us to ask ourselves about the type of world we want to live in. Drones threaten the one last unhampered vestige of privacy we have: our homes. In order to accurately and safely deliver a shipment, the network of drones would need to know the intricacies of where you live and many more details about your comings and goings.

    Think of it as Google Maps to the nth degree. Whereas Google Maps show in many instances, outdated satellite imagery of your street or neighborhood, the Amazon model would need to have up-to-the-minute data. The only way to achieve that would be through a system that could constantly monitor your home, to reflect potential barriers for delivery. In other words, there would need to be some kind of eye in the sky watching your world. You may have your fence up, bushes grown, and windows shut, but the drone could see all and by default, so could Amazon or anyone else with drones in play.

    And let us not forget that Google incurred millions of dollars in fines for illegally picking up passwords and personal data from unsecured wireless networks while taking city snapshots for its map app. While this is supposedly not Bezos’ intent, the fact remains that a drone monitoring network would be able to exploit similar vulnerabilities within our home networks and so much more.

    Furthermore, Amazon or similar companies could easily start interpreting the big data it accrues to its own advantage. For example, suggesting products and services based on what it spies about you and your surroundings. Such is already the case online based on your surfing activity. The frightening concept of using satellite imagery to suggest purchases is not that farfetched. In many ways, it would be the natural next step.

    And how long do you think it would be before the government tries to utilize such information or demand such data from Amazon and others? About the only safe place left to us would be basements and crawlspaces. Does that sound like paradise? Commercial drones on the scale Bezos envisions portend a dangerous step into an irreversible version of Orwell’s “Big Brother Is Watching you” nation. That’s the opposite of our forefather’s intent for declaring independence.

    Interestingly enough, Canada and Australia already allow limited commercial use of drones. A textbook seller in Australia for example, currently delivers books to outdoor locations. Other countries want to use the technology for police procedures. And in China, a company is testing package delivery.

    Clearly, this is an issue that goes way beyond Bezos. But his recent declaration brings the debate to the forefront. If indeed this is our future reality, then this issue needs to be better understood and tightly regulated. In truth, an extra day for UPS or FedEx offers far greater value to the truths and rights we hold self-evident, more so than any benefit a drone system could afford businesses the world over.

  • What Is a Data Breach and How Do I Protect Myself?
    When protected, sensitive or confidential data is accessed or used by someone without authority, this is a data breach. This can involve any kind of data such as personal health, financial, or business related.

    3D

    Not all data breaches result from hacking into a computer. One can breach data simply by peering over someone’s shoulder at the computer screen when they shouldn’t be. It can also be elaborately planned: A company’s new employee may actually be working for an extensive crime ring to steal data from the inside. Needless to say, a data breach can lead to identity theft (among many other problems).

    In the workplace, especially retail, where credit cards are processed, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is designed to provide retailers with guidelines to eliminate data breaches. In a healthcare workplace, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) helps control who has access to personal health information.

    How can you protect yourself?

    • As a consumer you must keep your operating system updated to the latest secure version.
    • Run antivirus, antispyware, antiphishing and a firewall.
    • Protect your wireless communications with encryption and use a VPN for portable devices.
    • Use secure passwords with upper/lower case and numbers.
    • In the event someone else is responsible for a breach read very carefully any notification of a data security breach and don’t assume that the breach was accidental or that identify theft is not likely.
    • Use an identity theft protection product. It will scavenge cyberspace for any unauthorized use of personal information such as from your credit cards and Social Security number; will keep track of personal credit information; and will send an alert if suspicious activity is detected–maybe even prior to you receiving a consumer notification.

    Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention. For Roberts FREE ebook text — SECURE Your@emailaddress — to 411247. Disclosures.

  • Professor 'Totally Destroys' Student In This Email After He Asks For A Grade Bump
    College student and Reddit user TheLostCaterpillar emailed his chemistry professor on the advice of another Redditor after he noticed that he was only 0.78% away from an A.

    It didn’t go well.

    The student posted a screenshot of his professor’s response along with this explanation: “He wrote back and totally destroyed me. I feel embarrassed and stupid. Think twice before asking your prof about grades!”

  • This Dad Got The Best Christmas Present.. He Heard His Daughter's Voice For The First Time
    Ken Stehle has been deaf for more than 50 years, but with some technological magic, he heard his daughter sing for the first time last weekend.

    Ashley Stehle, 15, is a member of Villa Duchesne High School’s advanced show choir in St. Peters, Mo., according to KSDK.

    At her Christmas concert on Sunday, her dad wore his new hearing aid, which allowed him to listen to the sound of Ashley’s voice.

    “He was just closing his eyes and listening to my voice,” Ashley told the news channel. “He didn’t really care if he was seeing me because he has always seen me. He wanted to hear me and that was just awesome.”

    In September, we wrote about a deaf 7-year-old from Guatemala who heard his family’s voice for the first time thanks to a new hearing device. And last July, a 14-month-old girl heard herself for the first time after receiving a cutting-edge cochlear implant.

    Watch Ashley Stehle’s entire performance below:

  • South Florida Traffic May Soon Be Run By A Wireless Command Center That Communicates With Cars

    Imagine a future where traffic runs smoothly, crashes are rare and commute times slashed. That future is just around the corner.

    Florida, along with a handful of other states, is at the forefront of a national effort to create a system that allows vehicles to wirelessly communicate with each other and the streets and roads around them.

    “It can actually really change transportation,” said George Gilhooley, vice president of HNTB Corporation, a transportation consulting firm. “The real key driver behind it all is safety. It can save lives, prevent injuries.”

    Picture everything vehicles do — how fast they’re going, whether windshield wipers are on, if brakes are suddenly engaged — sent to a traffic command center that predicts and prevents traffic slowdowns based on that information.

    This futuristic command center can relay information to vehicles — such as encouraging them to slow down to avoid a bottleneck or crash ahead. Motorists can be warned that a traffic light is about to change or that they’re coming to a dangerous curve in the road.

    Such a system takes much of the decision-making out of the hands of motorists and into the control of computers.

    It comes as advanced technology has become more affordable and expanding highways and roads more expensive or impractical. The increasing option for transportation officials is to turn to technology.

    “You don’t have [the land],” said Mohammed Hamid, a transportation researcher at Florida International University. “When you build bigger highways, there’s no guarantee it will solve congestion problems … [Technology] gives back much more.”

    Advanced technology has transportation researchers envisioning:

    – Providing motorists information on how long they’ll be stuck in traffic after a crash.

    – Using variable speed limits in express toll lanes.

    – Opening up shoulders to traffic using advanced sensors, cameras and variable speed limits.

    – Setting up predetermined detour routes when traffic is diverted off highways and equipping those routes with extra cameras, sensors, electronic message signs and automatic detour timing plans for traffic signals.

    Such options seem possible as a wave of advances hit local roads in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Florida Department of Transportation is deploying vehicle detection sensors that measure speed, travel times and volume of traffic. More traffic cameras are coming with those sensors, along with electronic message signs.

    “Ten years ago it was managing incidents on the freeway; now it’s actively managing the arterial traffic,” said Mark Plass, FDOT traffic operations engineer.

    That’s a big deal, Gilhooley said. Controlling congestion on local roads is the most difficult to handle because of the stop-and-go traffic and busy intersections with vehicles going in multiple directions.

    “That’s doing the best you can without bringing the vehicle and highway together in real time,” he said of the new management systems in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

    In central Broward, FDOT will begin managing traffic in real-time with sensors, cameras and electronic signs in January on portions of Broward, Sunrise and Oakland Park boulevards as well as Federal Highway, State Road 7 and University Drive. In the summer, the system will be running on Pembroke Road, Hallandale Beach Boulevard, Hollywood/Pines Boulevard and the southern portion of Federal.

    That technology will allow traffic managers to act quickly when traffic slows down because of congestion or crashes by retiming traffic signals. Eventually, they will be able to predict traffic jams and work to prevent them.

    Seperately, transportation agenices are rolling out new traffic control systems that synchronize traffic signals in real time. Called adaptive traffic control, computers adjust the timing based on how traffic is flowing.

    FDOT also will install the adaptive traffic control system in Broward on Pines Boulevard by 2018 between Dykes Road and Flamingo Road, one of the most congested parts of the county.

    Interest in much of this advanced technology come as they become more affordable, making it possible to buy “off the shelf” as opposed to creating a tailor-made system such as the one used by Los Angeles to synchronize all of its traffic signals.

    “There’re more tools available and they’re getting cheaper,” said Dan Weisberg, Palm Beach County’s traffic engineer.

    The affordability of the technology comes at the right time. South Florida is reaching the point where some of its highways and roads can’t get any wider, Weisberg said. In many cases, residents resist monstrous roads, and government entities can’t afford the land to build them.

    All this deployment of new technology offers numerous opportunities. Consider it transportation’s version of data mining.

    “As more sensors are invested in the infrastructure, we will get access to more data,” said Mohammed Hamid, a transportation researcher at Florida International University. “You can do all kinds of data mining and see what’s causing what and come up with solutions and strategies.”

    The key to harnessing the technology is sharing all the information collected by different transportation agencies so an entire transportation network — including roads, highways, buses, trains and trucks — can be actively managed in real time. FDOT is working with researchers now to develop such a system.

    In concept, information about traffic jams or major accidents can be picked up by Broward County Transit, allowing it to re-route affected buses and letting its passengers know about delays and where buses are going.

    The transit system is in the midst of getting a vehicle locater system that, among other things, will allow passengers to know in real time using a smartphone application when buses are arriving. So any disruption in service or re-routing can be relayed to customers.

    Technology also is helping buses get through congested roads. Next summer, FDOT will test a bus-only traffic signal at State Road 7 and Prospect Road in North Lauderdale that will allow buses to jump ahead of the other lines of vehicles waiting at a traffic signal.

    Studies are also under way in Broward to consider giving buses green lights on Oakland Park, State Road 7, University Drive and Federal Highway.

    “For people taking the bus they want to know it’s reliable,” said Marjorie Hilaire, multimodal project coordinator for FDOT. “This technology really helps with that. If it minimizes those delays you get at certain intersections, it keeps buses on schedule.”

    astreeter@tribune.com, 561-243-6537 or Twitter @adstreeter ___

    (c)2013 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

    Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

    Distributed by MCT Information Services

  • Beautiful Wallpaper Christmas Themes for iOS 7 App Available Now

    YoungGam has announced the release of Christmas themes for iOS7: New Wallpaper, its new holiday themed entertainment app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Do you still use typical and dull backgrounds? YoungGam offers the finest wallpaper app you have found yet.
    Enjoy your own fancy wallpapers. [...]

    The post Beautiful Wallpaper Christmas Themes for iOS 7 App Available Now appeared first on AlliOSNews.

Mobile Technology News, December 15, 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.

  • New Android ioPhone mimics Apple's iPhone 5c style
    A Japanese phone maker is taking a whole page from Apple’s design book, copying almost exactly the look of the iPhone maker’s iPhone 5c. Kodawarisan pointed out Iosys’ ioPhone5 on Saturday, revealing images of a multicolored line of Android-powered devices that mimic the look of Apple’s “unapologetically plastic” mid-range smartphone. So devoted was Iosys in its mimicry that the placement of the ioPhone’s logo and regulatory information match those of the iPhone 5c exactly.
        



  • Drones Could Revolutionize Agriculture, Farmers Say
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Idaho farmer Robert Blair isn’t waiting around for federal aviation officials to work out rules for drones. He and a friend built their own, outfitting it with cameras and using it to monitor his 1,500 acres.

    Under 10 pounds and 5 feet long nose to tail, the aircraft is the size of a turkey and Blair uses it to get a birds-eye view of his cows and fields of wheat, peas, barley and alfalfa. “It’s a great tool to collect information to make better decisions, and we’re just scratching the surface of what it can do for farmers,” said Blair, who lives in Kendrick, Idaho, roughly 275 miles north of Boise.

    While Americans are abuzz about Amazon’s plans to use self-guided drones to deliver packages, most future unmanned aircraft may operate far from the nation’s large population centers.

    Experts point to agriculture as the most promising commercial market for drones because the technology is a perfect fit for large-scale farms and vast rural areas where privacy and safety issues are less of a concern.

    Already, farmers, researchers and companies are developing unmanned aircraft systems equipped with cameras and other sensors to survey crops, monitor for disease or precision-spray pesticides and fertilizers.

    Drones, also known as UAVs, are already used overseas in agriculture, including Japan and Brazil.

    And the possibilities are endless: Flying gizmos could be used to ward off birds from fields, pollinate trees, do snow surveys to forecast water supply, monitor irrigation, or plant and harvest crops.

    The technology could revolutionize agriculture, farmers say, by boosting crop health, improving field management practices, reducing costs and increasing yields.

    So far, drones have been used mainly by the military. Interest is booming in finding other uses for them, but the possibilities are limited because of regulations on the use of airspace and privacy concerns.

    The Federal Aviation Administration does not allow drones’ commercial use. Businesses and researchers can only apply for a special, experimental airworthiness certificate for research and development, flight demonstrations or crew training.

    The FAA does allow public agencies — including law enforcement and other governmental agencies — to get a certificate of authorization to operate unmanned aircraft in civil airspace. About a dozen sheriff’s offices, police and fire departments, as well as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have been allowed to use drones.

    The move has raised concerns about privacy and government surveillance, leading to drone privacy bills being introduced in most states this year and about a dozen states passing laws, most to limit drone surveillance by law enforcement.

    Those concerns, in turn, have tempered interest in developing unmanned aircraft technology for police and other crime-fighting agencies — leading drone manufacturers and researchers to focus on agriculture instead, said Josh Brungardt, director of unmanned systems at PARADIGM, a Bend, Ore.-based drone research company.

    “A small UAV flying over a field with nothing around it doesn’t create a privacy issue,” he said. “We’re talking about an operating atmosphere that’s much more benign.”

    Last year, Congress directed the FAA to grant unmanned aircraft access to U.S. skies by September 2015. The agency is in the midst of developing operational guidelines for drone use, but it said the process would take longer than Congress expected.

    Next year, the agency plans to propose a rule for small unmanned aircraft, but it declined to discuss the rule. In the meantime, the FAA is also working to choose by the end of December six drone test sites across the country.

    Blair’s drone, built in 2008, isn’t breaking the law, because his aircraft is essentially a model airplane — allowed by the FAA as long as it’s flown below 400 feet above ground level, far from populated areas and no one is compensated for the flight.

    Blair said the UAV gives him a complete, aerial view of his crops. He said he also uses it to gather historical data on his crops — which can help validate crop loss or animal damage when applying for government programs like crop insurance.

    Companies large and small are also racing to develop the technology, as are universities.

    University of Oregon researchers flew drones this summer over potato fields to monitor for disease. Oregon nurseries have also partnered with researchers to test unmanned technology to count potted trees.

    In Florida, farmers and researchers have used small unmanned helicopters equipped with infrared cameras to monitor orange trees for the deadly citrus greening, a bacterial disease that kills the trees. Greening begins at the top of the tree.

    And at the University of California, Davis, professors have teamed up with Yamaha Motor Corp. USA to fly unmanned remote-controlled helicopters to spray vineyards and orchards.

    Some farmers fear environmental groups could use the technology to spy on them — PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, recently announced plans to purchase drones to monitor factory farms.

    But Blair said use of unmanned aircraft would have the opposite effect.

    “We’re talking surgical agriculture, which allows us to be more environmentally friendly,” he said, “because we can be even more precise in how we apply fertilizer, water or pesticides.”

  • Apple's iPhone predicted to hit 68 percent US share by 2017
    Apple’s iPhone will be in the hands of more than two-thirds of American smartphone owners by 2017, according to one analyst’s new figures. Asymco’s Horace Dedieu took a look at trends in the U.S. smartphone market this week, finding that the rate of iPhone adoption has it on pace to move into a majority position in just the next few years. Dedieu posits that the iPhone will be in the hands of 68 percent of U.S. smartphone consumers as the market continues to grow.
        



  • Briefly: New iMag Pro II mobile reader, NuGuard KX Screen Armor
    ID TECH, manufacturer of automated electronic solutions, has released its new encrypted MagStripe mobile reader, the iMag Pro II, compatible for all Apple 8-pin Lightning connector mobile devices. Ideal for business use, the iMag Pro II allows accepting credit card transactions, signature debit cards, gift cards, driver’s licenses, and ID badges on one’s iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPad mini, and iPad 4. Providing bi-directional reading of three tracks of card data and supports TDES and AES encryption, using DUKPT management.
        



  • Ever Wondered What A Helicopter Looks Like Playing Hockey? (VIDEO)
    We’re sure like almost everyone on the planet, at some point you’ve wished that you could watch a helicopter ‘playing hockey’ on a frozen lake. Sadly, it’s always been an impossible dream that could only be imagined… that is until now!

    Click play to see the dream finally become a reality in this surreal video above from Bradley Friesen out of Canada that took “8 different cameras” and “250gb of awesomeness” to create. Along with a helicopter, frozen lake and puck, of course.

    Via Yahoo! Sports

  • Yahoo's Bad Week Ends With An Apology From Marissa Mayer
    Yahoo and CEO Marissa Mayer have had a no good, very bad week.

    Mayer acknowledged as much on Friday night in a post on her Tumblr, where she wrote that she and the company were “very sorry” for the prolonged Yahoo Mail outages that left people unable to access their email for several days this week.

    “This has been a very frustrating week for our users and we are very sorry,” Mayer wrote. “We really let you down this week. We can, and we will, do better in the future.”

    Mayer wrote that the problem began on Monday because of hardware issues with one of Yahoo Mail’s servers. The server powered email for about 1 percent of Yahoo Mail’s users, who Mayer said were the only ones affected by the outage. Yahoo Mail has about 289 million monthly users worldwide, second only to Gmail at 304 million, according to comScore.

    Messages sent to problematic accounts during this time were not delivered, but held in a queue. Users were very vocal on social media while the “scheduled maintenance” dragged on for several days. The problem was completely fixed by Friday.

    Yahoo faced backlash in October also after a massive redesign for Yahoo Mail left some confused, missing emails and longing for some lost features such as tabs.

    Flickr, the photo sharing service that Yahoo owns, also struggled with downtime this week.

  • Decoding Dolphin Talk: Are We Smart Enough?
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    We humans have wanted to be able to “talk” to dolphins for as long as anyone can remember. They beguile us with their intelligence, curiosity, playfulness, and sophisticated level of sociality. We sense, intuitively, that there are many layers of complexity to dolphin communication – as there are to dolphin minds – but we have yet to translate most of that recognition into a meaningful and productive path toward two-way communication with them.

    As Denise Herzing concedes in her engaging TED talk “Could we speak the language of dolphins?” we do not have a Rosetta Stone. But why? Surely, if we can travel to Mars, cure disease and create symphonies, we should be able to figure out what dolphins are saying. But in fact, despite the sophisticated and high-tech ways in which we have applied our efforts, it is entirely possible we may never communicate with them in the way we want to.

    When we think of decoding dolphinese, we mean that we would like to be able to engage in an exchange of information that looks something like this: “What are you doing?” – “I am preparing to show my child how to find fish in the sand with echolocation.” – “Oh, that sounds great.” – and so on. A simple conversation like this is still way beyond our reach.

    Despite the sophisticated and high-tech ways in which we have applied our efforts, it is entirely possible we may never communicate with them in the way we want to. — Lori Marino

    Herzing’s pioneering work is distinctive because it incorporates the components of earlier studies on dolphin communication in captivity by other prominent scientists, i.e., a whistle-based interface, a keyboard component, etc., within the framework of the natural behavior of these animals.

    But is our species really smart enough to figure out a communication system that may not only be at least as complex as our own but based on different acoustic principles and dimensions? Are we going to hit a “glass ceiling” in our understanding?

    Human language consists of vocabulary and syntax. Syntax determines the structure of a language and how vocabulary is modified to create new meanings. Vocabulary is more straightforward; it’s easier for those of us studying a second language to learn vocabulary words by connecting one word with one object. Syntax is quite another matter and much more difficult, as anyone who has attempted to correctly conjugate verbs in Spanish will tell you!

    Our relative ease with vocabulary is analogous to our ability to learn the lexicon of dolphin communication. As Herzing correctly points out, dolphin signature whistles are what researchers have studied the most – for the very reason that they are easy to measure. But dolphin communication also includes body posture, touch and different acoustic variables like echolocation, whistles and burst-pulsed sounds. And we can interpret sounds that are directly correlated with individuals, specific behaviors, or specific contexts more easily than sounds that seem to vary from one situation to another. That’s because the human brain is very good at picking up patterns of correlation. We are so good at attending to “what” goes with “what” that we often create false positives known as illusory correlations. So contact calls, alarm calls, signature whistles and other sounds with a more-or-less one-to-one correspondence with a behavior or context are going to be the first to give up their secrets because they are most like the vocabulary of a second human language.

    Likewise, we’re very good at teaching human words to other species such as dolphins, birds, great apes and dogs. Part of our success at this has to do with the fact that this task is easy for us.

    What we don’t know, however, is the basic nature of dolphin communication – whether it is dimensional or categorical or some combination of both. And we don’t know if they are combining components in ways outside of our experience and, thus, invisible to us.

    Dolphin whistles have been sampled, statistically-parsed and then analyzed to determine whether certain whistle types can be predicted from the same or another whistle type. Results show that dolphin whistle repertoires contain higher-order internal structure or organizational complexity. This suggests that their whistle “language” contains elements loosely analogous to grammar or syntax in human language. And, in her talk, Denise Herzing compared spectrograms of human language words and burst pulsed sounds made by a dolphin. Who could tell the difference?

    So, we know there is complexity in dolphin communication, but we don’t know the content or depth or nature of the vast majority of it.

    But irrespective of whether we are intelligent enough to “decode” dolphin communication, it is worth reminding ourselves that we continue to turn a deaf ear to arguably more important messages that spell out distress, poor welfare, psychological trauma and high mortality when they are captured and confined in tanks and made to perform. A colleague of mine once said that if only the dolphins murdered annually in Taiji, Japan or the Faroe Islands could say something like “Stop it. You’re hurting me!” all abuse would probably cease immediately due to the shock of hearing those words come from the victims.

    Unfortunately, we have not made the same effort to “decode” dolphin dignity and personhood. And that’s certainly worth some study.

    Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

  • 'Interstellar' Teaser Offers First Look At Christopher Nolan Film
    The first look at Christopher Nolan’s next film, “Interstellar,” is here. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, and Michael Caine, among many others, “Interstellar” is co-written and directed by Nolan (his brother, Jonathan Nolan, also worked on the script, which is based on a story by physicist Kip S. Thorne). The new teaser is voiced by McConaughey and focuses on the importance of discovery and testing human limits. The upcoming sci-fi film will detail “the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.” Check out an early look at “Interstellar” below and catch the film in theaters next November.

  • Officials Say U.S. May Never Know Extent Of Snowden's Leaks
    WASHINGTON — American intelligence and law enforcement investigators have concluded that they may never know the entirety of what the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden extracted from classified government computers before leaving the United States, according to senior government officials.
  • Google Acquires Boston Dynamics, Adding To Its Fleet Of Robot-Makers
    The rich get richer. And they also get more robots.

    Google confirmed Friday to The New York Times that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, the Waltham, Mass., engineering company that has designed robots for the Pentagon. The company, purchased by Google for an undisclosed sum, is the eighth robotics company Google has acquired in the last several months.

    Last week, the Times also reported that Google’s newest “moonshot” effort to create a division focused on building and experimenting with robots would be developed by Andy Rubin, the boss behind Google’s Android operating system. Unlike Google’s computerized glasses or driverless cars, these robots will be available only to businesses that want to streamline the manufacturing process.

    It’s unclear if manufacturing will be Boston Dynamics’ main purpose now that it is part of Google. An Oxford University study from last year predicted that 45 percent of United States jobs were “at high risk” of being lost to computerized machines.

    Boston Dynamics robots, such as BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas, have gained notoriety over the years through YouTube videos, GIFs and “the robots are taking over” half-curious, half-terrified reactions they create. The videos show agile, four-legged robots bustling through rough terrain, or sprinting around parking lots. One recent video showed their Cheetah robot sprinting 29 mph on a treadmill, faster than Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash.

    Check out a video of the WildCat in action below.

    The company was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, a former professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently has multimillion dollar contracts with the U.S. military’s advanced research division of DARPA. The New York Times notes that while Google will honor Boston Dynamics’ existing contracts, it has no plans to become a defense contractor “on its own.”

    One DARPA-funded project is the Atlas, a 6-foot 2-inch, 330-pound robot with 28 hydraulically actuated joints and two sets of hands capable of many natural human movements. The Atlas is part of Boston Dynamics’ DARPA Robotics Challenge, where seven teams compete to create a robot that can navigate rough terrain, drive a car and in DARPA’s words, “advance the technology necessary to create robots capable of assisting humans in disaster response.”

  • Lies Our High School Science Teachers Told Us
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    I’m not a scientist, but as someone whose life is all about the animals, I found Dr. Herzing’s TED talk (“Could we speak the language of dolphins?”) a fascinating documentation of work along an appealing path full of big questions. But if not a scientist, what do I bring to this conversation which appears largely about a scientific pursuit? What are my creds?

    If she was still around to admit it, Mom would acknowledge she did all she could to sidetrack my overwhelming early passion for animals (“if only I had let him have a dog, perhaps I too could say ‘my son the doctor!’”), but the causal uber-attention to cleanliness which defined the ecosystem of our Brooklyn Jewish household was matched by an emphasis on learning. And I read everything related to animals I could get my hands on.

    I earned a handful of useless degrees in the ’70s, but motivated by student debt and a long love of animals, I landed my first job at a humane society back in 1978. The first step in a 35-year career working for animals in the SF Bay Area, Washington D.C., Arizona, and a few brief jaunts here and there (programs on several Native American nations, Mexico and elsewhere).

    I prefer celebrating what we’re very good at as one species within the kingdom, as opposed to trumped up absolutes that tend to isolate us. — Ken White

    (This long and varied track record moves me to make sure readers know that all the thousands of humane societies and SPCAs throughout the nation are separate nonprofit organizations: none are chapters or affiliates of the organizations with the national name like ASPCA or Humane Society of the U.S. Unlike many other nonprofits, our organizations’ policies are set in local boardrooms rather than in D.C. or Manhattan, and for the overwhelming part gifts made to national organizations don’t trickle down to local shelters trying to save dogs and cats in your community. This is not to say that national groups do not do important work, work often well outside the scope of what is possible on the local level. It is, however, to advise the reader that IMHO it’s well worth your time to learn who is doing what to help animals in your ‘hood.)

    Best known in our community for our life-saving work with dogs and cats, unlike most local organizations, the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA’s work does not stop with companion animals. We provide care, as well, for exotic animals sometimes kept (most often poorly so) as pets, farmed animals, and for thousands of injured and orphaned native wild animals. That unusually broad mission has given me further opportunity to explore that childhood passion for all animals, and over time I am ever more drawn to discoveries which shorten that perceived distance between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animals on Mother Earth.

    It’s not that I don’t think we’re special; rather, it’s that all life is special. Maybe we are unique, but if so it is by degree. I prefer celebrating what we’re very good at as one species within the kingdom, as opposed to trumped up absolutes that tend to isolate us.

    Back in those many decades ago, 1960-70′s biology class curriculum included the “fact” that the yawning gulf separating us from “lesser animals” was evidenced by two “unique” abilities: language and tool use. Marine mammals were the first to topple that, communicating by song in that mysterious dark (first among their own kind, and then a tantalizingly “maybe with us” in early iterations of Dr. Herzing efforts), followed by primates who could learn sign language and perhaps speak with “their betters.” (Pick up a copy of Daniel Quinn’s “Ishmael” for a truly wonderful exploration of that theme.)

    Add to Dr. Herzing’s TED talk even a quick peek at the scientific journals and this year alone you’ll find tool use among brown bears (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pubmed/22367156), dung beetles using the starry nighttime sky to navigate (http://www.cell.com/current-biology/retrieve/pii/), and an example of interspecies communication among fish, eel and octopus (http://www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pubmed/23612306).

    Yes, of course I see the difference between building a nuclear reactor and using a barnacle-encrusted rock to scratch an itch; I see the difference between the mind that brings us everything from “Hamlet” to “Homeland” and two mammals agreeing on which whistle and mark means “scarf.” That’s not the point. The point is that we are not alone in our abilities, including the ability to communicate. And that point, not being alone, is a big deal.

    Dr. Herzing says: “Imagine what it would be like to understand the mind of another intelligent species on the planet.” I try to, just as I often try to recall the words of naturalist Henry Beston from his “The Outermost House,” written almost a century ago:

    “The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.” I look forward to the day we receive ambassadors from those nations.

    Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

  • iOS 7.1 Beta 2 Hits Developer Network

    Members of the Apple Developer Network have been seeded beta 2 of iOS 7.1 through the network.  The second beta follows on the original beta of the mobile OS back in November and according to our secret developer, is available for iPad and iPhone.
    iOS 7.1 has several big improvements and fixes in [...]

    The post iOS 7.1 Beta 2 Hits Developer Network appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Camera Plus App Updated With New Filters

    The new update of the Camera Plus app elevates captures and gives it a new dimension with unique handpicked photo Filters and Text options. This version adds a refreshing set of features to the innovative ‘Lumy’ and Focus Modes and delivers more than what the iPhone camera is designed for. Camera [...]

    The post Camera Plus App Updated With New Filters appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • RC Trackpad 3.0 Released – Now a Universal App with a Redesigned UI

    m3me, Inc. has announced the release of RC Trackpad 3.0 for iOS. RC Trackpad turns your iOS device into a beautiful and secure remote control for your Mac or PC. RC Trackpad has best in class wireless trackpad support with the largest selection of configurable gestures and actions. Additionally, it [...]

    The post RC Trackpad 3.0 Released – Now a Universal App with a Redesigned UI appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Amounts for iPhone brings a new way to take control of personal expenses

    Swift Fox Software is introducing Amounts for iPhone, a personal expense tracker designed to make users more aware of their spending. The app features a clean interface designed specifically for iOS 7.
    Users can add new transactions in seconds with the streamlined entry system. A receipt photo and [...]

    The post Amounts for iPhone brings a new way to take control of personal expenses appeared first on AlliOSNews.

Mobile Technology News, December 14, 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.

  • China Mobile store spotted displaying iPhone 5s, 5c
    While again not a confirmation of a formal agreement between China Mobile and Apple, one of the carrier’s resellers or retail outlets is already aggressively promoting the forthcoming LTE network and pushing the latest iPhone models as being compatible with it. An American blogger in China going by the name “PRC and Me” spotted and photographed the store in Shenzhen’s Futian district, featuring advertising material, accessories and on-display iPhones.
        



  • Taking 'A Total Disruption' Open Source
    By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

    Sundance winning documentarian Ondi Timoner isn’t in the habit of doing things in half-measures. Her latest endeavor, the web series “A Total Disruption,” features some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. The project is in a sense a quest to profile the entrepreneurial spirit of the age.

    As such, the project hasn’t been limited to the tech sector. Timoner has turned her lens on creative luminaries like Shepard Fairey and Amanda Palmer. Those two are headlining a benefit soirée for the next phase of “A Total Disruption,” that will also feature  Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and YouTuber Jhameel, this Sunday in Los Angeles.

    Timoner, borrowing a page from the tech world she’s chronicling, wants to make the interviews she’s conducted open source.

    As part of the Kickstarter rewards offered for backing the web series Timoner promised a searchable archive of the video itself, one that would let viewers go directly to the segment they found relevant.

    “The idea of sharing my footage as I create it isn’t new,” said Timoner in an interview this week. “Making it searchable down to the word is new.”

    There was just one catch:

    “I offered it in the Kickstarter without realizing it hadn’t been done before,” said Timoner.

    With one third of her backers having opted for access, the filmmaker knew she couldn’t turn her back on this aspect of the project. So a search began to find the technology and the partners who could help pull off what has turned into a feat.

    One of those partners is Akamai Technologies, the Cambridge, Massachusetts based content delivery network that has counted Facebook and Twitter amongst its customer base. Akamai will power the delivery of the video, while another partner will design the search system.

    “The companies I talk to, they all want to jump in. It’s not just about profit. They want to be part of something revolutionary.”

    Whatever tool and workflow that is developed will undoubtably be of interest to other filmmakers as well.

    Unfortunately for Timoner the money she raised on Kickstarter for this part of the project isn’t going to be enough to get the search engine going. Through fiscal sponsorship the project has gone non-profit, and that’s where the fundraiser this weekend comes in.

    The model for the event is based on something Timoner produced in her early days in Los Angeles: an event called the “The Cut” where she featured up and coming bands alongside documentary footage of those bands that she had already made.

    “The Cut” was the kind of multimedia event that was popular in the 90′s, and the template is one that seems to be coming back into vogue as a generation raised on the internet looks to find new ways to connect.

    Sunday’s lineup is a decidedly post-internet mash-up of music, art and business. Famed graphic artist Fairey will be acting as DJ, and Reddit’s Ohanian will tell stories about his adventures in start-up land.

    The event kicks off at 7:00pm, Sun, December 15, 2013 at The Echoplex in Los Angeles.

    Public media’s TurnstyleNews.com, covers tech and digital culture from the West Coast.

    Go to Turnstylenews.com | Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Tumblr

  • iPad Mini availability at Verizon, AT&T improves, supply eases
    Supply of the iPad Mini Retina appears to be easing significantly, as cellular models become more readily available at Verizon and AT&T.
  • WATCH: Apple's Mobile Marketing Gift to Retailers
    Welcome to the in-store, personalized mobile retail experience. Information where and when you need it most. Brought to you by… Apple?

    Apple debuted iBeacon, its Bluetooth-based in-store location technology, in its stores recently, offering a glimpse of the future of shopping: blending the physical with the digital. With the App Store app and Bluetooth turned on (plus a device running iOS 7), you can receive messages specific to wherever you are in the store. Maybe a special, info on upgrading, or turn-by-turn directions to whatever it is you’re looking for.

    The idea isn’t new, but the ease with which retailers will be able to try out in-store apps of their own with iBeacon means that “micro-location” targeting (it doesn’t have to be a store – you can imagine the possibilities for museums, parks and events) could see a big upswing in a short period of time.

    Which technology will win the race — Google wants a piece of the action as well – remains to be seen, but iBeacon should provide a nice boost to a feature expected to be a huge deal in retail. Not only for the consumers who opt-in, but for retailers, who will have access to some pretty useful data on store traffic and consumer patterns.

    Learn all about it in the latest episode of “The Content Brief” from Freshwire below.

    And if you missed last week’s episode on the big business of watching other people play video games, it’s right here.

  • Occidental College Accused Of Secretly Tracking 'Anonymous' Sexual Assault Reports
    Faculty and students at Occidental College in Los Angeles are accusing school administrators of tracking individuals who use an online form to anonymously report sexual assaults.

    Two students and one faculty member were contacted for meetings with school officials after using the form, according to Occidental sociology professor Danielle Dirks and politics department chair Caroline Heldman.

    The students — both sexual assault survivors — said they were contacted for meetings with Lauren Carella, the college’s Title IX coordinator, who oversees Occidental’s handling of sexual violence cases. At a faculty senate meeting Wednesday, an instructor disclosed that she, too, was contacted after using the form.

    Dirks and Heldman said they are not trying to discourage survivors from seeking help from the college, and they argue that anyone who feels comfortable reporting an assault should do so. But they added that maintaining the anonymous nature of the form is essential.

    “The reason [sexual assault survivors] are using the anonymous reporting form is because they’re not convinced they want to be interfacing with the school,” Dirks said. “They worry it may be retraumatizing.”

    One of the two students told HuffPost that she had agreed to a meeting with Carella in September to find out how the office learned of her assault. She was careful whom she told about the attack, so she assumed someone close to her had betrayed her trust and told the college.

    The student, who asked not to be identified, said she was raped as a freshman in spring 2012 by a fellow student who was set to graduate that semester. As detailed in a federal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education in April, she later learned that he had been found responsible by the college for three other sexual assaults during his time at Occidental but was not removed from campus. Because of what she saw as a failure by the college to protect her from this individual, she was hesitant to work with administrators on anything regarding her case.

    In her meeting with Carella, she said, she asked multiple times how the administrator had obtained information about her. Carella would not tell her how she got the information, the student said.

    Occidental’s handling of reports of sexual violence is currently under a federal review in response to the complaint filed with the Department of Education in April by Dirks, Heldman and 35 other students, alumni and faculty.

    The complaints allege that Occidental administrators mishandled reporting of sexual violence, failed to properly investigate such cases and did not adequately punish students found responsible. Representatives for the school admitted in October that the college had under-reported the number of sexual assaults on campus in recent years, which it is required to disclose under the federal Clery Act.

    The college created the online reporting form in the summer of 2012 to encourage students to report assaults so the school could more accurately track how often sexual violence occurs on campus. Administrators maintain they’re not tracking who’s using the tool.

    “Occidental makes no attempt to identify people who file an anonymous report, has no reason to do so, and encourages all survivors of sexual assault to choose whether to report, when to report, and by which means they report,” said Occidental spokesman James Tranquada.

    Carella did not respond to requests for comment. Tranquada said he could not disclose information about specific student cases.

    “Because the college does not know who has made an anonymous report, it is possible that the Title IX coordinator could contact a survivor who filed an anonymous report based on separate information about that specific student from a third-party source,” Tranquada said.

    Brett Sokolow, attorney and president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, explained there are situations in which a college would not be required to tell a sexual assault victim how it learned of the attack.

    If the school found out about the assault through an anonymous report, the victim would be entitled to see it, Sokolow said. But if the school learned of the assault from another student, he said, the school would not have to tell the victim that person’s name unless it had the person’s consent. (He was speaking generally and not about the specifics of Occidental’s situation.)

    “If the reporter was not a student, the institution’s policy — not Title IX — would typically govern what they would be willing or able to disclose,” Sokolow said.

    Dirks pointed to another incident that she felt raised questions about the anonymity of the online reporting form. She said she had received an unsolicited email from Erica O’Neal Howard, associate dean of students, about logging into the form after she had attempted to access the form in the summer of 2012.

    These recent allegations add to previous privacy concerns. In September, a number of Occidental faculty and staff had their computers and cell phones confiscated by the college so it could make copies of certain data for the ongoing federal investigation. At the time, Tranquada told HuffPost that the faculty and staff whose materials were seized were involved in handling sexual misconduct cases. The Department of Education confirmed to HuffPost that it did not require that move.

    “The end goal is campus safety,” Heldman said. “It’s disheartening to see that while [Occidental President Jonathan Veitch] is saying he wants to be a national leader and that we’re on that path to being one in addressing sexual violence, his actions and the action of his administrators demonstrate the opposite.”

  • Why the World Keeps Talking About 23andMe
    Co-authored with Barbara Prainsack of the Department of Social Science, Health and Medicine, King’s College London, UK

    Recent action by the FDA against the California-based personal genomics company 23andMe has sparked international attention and bemusement. While some observers agree with the FDA’s insistence that the company stop marketing their tests until they have comprehensively backed up the validity of their health claims, to others, particularly outside the U.S., these developments seem very odd. For six years, 23andMe has offered (mostly) SNP-based genetic risk calculations for ancestry, common diseases, and common traits, at ever-decreasing costs that have undercut even academic operations. By the time the company complied with the FDA and stopped offering health-related genetic risk calculations last week, it had over 400,000 users. Whether they will ever achieve their goal of reaching the 1-million mark now that they were ordered by the FDA to cease operations and are faced with a class-action lawsuit is now more dubious than ever — if they stay based in the U.S.

    23andMe Is Interesting Because It Disrupts Traditional Classifications, Not Because We Love It So Much

    The FDA is unhappy with 23andMe’s inability — or unwillingness — to provide evidence on the clinical significance of their test results. In other words, the FDA seems to have no issues with 23andMe giving customers their raw SNP data, but they want to see proof for the claims that they make about the clinical utility of their tests. As David Kroll pointed out, “Where 23andMe got into trouble was regarding … results on disease risk and drug response, potentially actionable results.” While it has been argued that the FDA has no leeway in whether or not they hold companies that make such claims to the standard of clinical validity, others argue that the FDA has no authority to regulate online genetics tests as medical devices. The definition of medical devices is open to interpretation — and some might argue that horoscopes could be the next logical target. The fact that 23andMe disclosed genetic information rather than information on one of the other “-omics” has probably acted as an extra catalyst to those who falsely fear its prophetic properties.

    Evidence from users is complex. 23andMe results have reportedly caused problems for some of their customers, while being sources of entertainment for many and of great help for others. Moreover, most commentators agree that the way that 23andMe communicates results to users is generally informative and balanced. Indeed, a considerable part of their website content did not even relate to genetics but to lifestyle and other environmental factors. To the best of our knowledge, all incidents where 23andMe results reportedly caused harm to customers were due to mistakes made by the company, and not due to the way that 23andMe was set up to operate. Making impactful mistakes is not a redeeming quality of any company, but it is not the same as making false claims. Nevertheless, it is strange that U.S. regulators are focusing on the moving target of assessing tests for their clinical validity rather than encouraging better communication of scientific and health findings by demanding that the company work harder on reducing mistakes and errors (and earmark harm mitigation funds to compensate customers when actual harm occurs).

    This is partly due to a conflation of the notions of health-related, medical, and clinical results. Although these three notions blend into one another, they signify different domains. Something can be health-related without being medical (e.g., the fact that I run in the morning because it makes me feel better), and “medical” is a wider term than “clinical.” 23andMe’s way of operating is also so distressing for regulators because the results given to customers cannot be neatly teased apart into health-related and non-health-related information, contrary to what 23andMe is trying to do now. The notion that clinical utility is the best measure of the robustness of communicating genetic risk data to customers is like saying the decibel is the best way to measure the effects of a violin concerto.

    Online Genomics Is About More Than Disclosing Genetic Information

    Besides the fact that 23andMe was one of the few companies in the health domain that was still selling their tests DTC, the one characteristic that set it apart from other services offering genetic testing beyond the clinic is that they have tried to include “citizen science” elements and encourage wide data sharing. This has played a relatively marginal role in the wider discussion. We are not uncritically applauding the way that they have been doing this, but it adds an important new dimension and direction for science. Regulators, in contrast, still operate under the assumption that there are those who produce knowledge (traditional experts) and those who receive knowledge (patients/consumers), but this is not an accurate depiction of platforms such as 23andMe, and many others. This is where the greater significance of the conflict between 23andMe and its enemies lies, and it is indicative of larger power shifts in the organization and practice of health and medicine. To the rest of the world, the priorities of U.S. authorities in shutting down a company based solidly on science and largely academic discoveries are hard to fathom. It also raises the question of why we are not seeing similar legal class actions in the U.S. against the host of OTC or DTC pseudo-pharmaceutical and vitamin producers that have done infinitely more harm.

    Follow Barbara Prainsack on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Wutbuergerin

  • Lego Stop-Motion Animation Hilariously Recreates A 1984 Macintosh Computer
    Are you a fan of the 1984 version of an Apple Macintosh computer? Because designers Jason Kinsella and Charlotte Bakken are bringing back the tech relic of yesteryear in a hilariously perfect stop-motion animation — using Legos.

    For the Lego fanatics who need more than just a 30-minute tribute, here’s Lego Bond and Lego Michael Jackson. Enjoy.

    h/t Design Taxi

    BONUS: Check out Mike Stimpson’s photographs in the accompanying slideshow.

  • Cronut Shipping: Dominique Ansel Bakery, Goldbely.com Ready To Send Dessert Across The Country
    Craving a cronut (and not a cronut knockoff) but not planning to be in New York City anytime soon? Don’t fear! Dominique Ansel Bakery and online gourmet food retailer Goldbely.com have announced a new partnership in which cronuts will be available for purchase anywhere in the continental U.S.

    Starting at 6 p.m. EST Friday, Goldbely.com will be offering batches of cronuts for purchase every hour all weekend long. Availability will range from two cronuts per hour to about 20 cronuts per hour (limit: two cronuts per buyer). The December cronut flavor — Valrhona chocolate Champagne with fresh orange-zest sugar — will come with edible gold dust on Goldbely.com.

    “Our whole goal is to find the most amazing dishes across the country and get them to people. This is obviously at the top of our list,” Goldbely CEO Joe Ariel told The Huffington Post.

    The teams from Dominique Ansel and Goldbely worked for several months to figure out how to ship cronuts without the flavor deteriorating. They finally came up with a method of baking the cronuts and instantly flash-freezing them.

    “We realized so many of our fans were hand-carrying the cronut on planes to their family and friends, and wanted to find a better way for them this holiday season,” said Dominique Ansel in a press release.

    The online cronuts are available for the same price as the bakery version — $5 a piece. Goldbely is swallowing all shipping costs. Packages will be sent via FedEx on Dec. 16.

    While the cronut sale lasts only this weekend, there will likely be more to come from the Dominique Ansel and Goldbely teams.

    “The intention is we will have many more fun things in the future,” said Ariel.

  • Briefly: GAMEVIL's card battler Kaizin Rumble, Cover app in open beta
    Mobile game creator GAMEVIL, has announced the release of its newest mobile title, Kaizin Rumble. A card battle game, Kaizin Rumble is an RPG that features a reactionary battle system. Players follow the game’s storyline as the ‘evil’ Kaizin race who aim to conquer the world. Players can collect over 750 cards, which offer in-game depth and content.
        



  • Briefly: GameEvil's card battler Kaizin Rumble, Cover app in open beta
    Mobile game creator GameEvil has announced the release of its newest mobile title, Kaizin Rumble. A card battle game, Kaizin Rumble is an RPG that features a reactionary battle system. Players follow the game’s storyline as the “evil” Kaizin race who aim to conquer the world. Players can collect over 750 cards, which offer in-game depth and content.
        



  • How The Sound of Music Revived Live Television

    NBC’s live broadcast of the musical The Sound of Music last week attracted 18.5m people. This was a larger audience than NBC has had for any non-sports event since the finale of the TV show Frasier 9 years ago. This was a three-hour, 50-year-old Broadway musical!

    What’s happening here? This is not about musicals and Carrie Underwood’s (reportedly) weak acting. The Sound of Music‘s success underscores the fact that in today’s real-time social media world, the unique characteristics of live offer big benefits over pre-taped or on demand programming — and media companies are just beginning to see and harness this powerful opportunity.

    Networks have long been aware of the power of live when it pertains to big sports events and breaking news. The Super Bowl sells out its ad inventory earlier and earlier at bigger and bigger prices every year. The big event and real-time nature drive massive viewership and, therefore, massive ad revenue. Nobody watches the Super Bowl the day after it airs.

    In an on-demand world where practically every show or video created is available to you on any device at any time, the real time and synchronous viewing nature of live sets it apart. This is only amplified when you combine live video with the Internet, creating a perfect combination of immediacy and interactivity. The beauty of live TV is that viewers can chatter on Internet platforms while watching, which serves to drive even more viewers to the live program.

    Real time activity is what has driven the popularity of Twitter and numerous messaging apps like SnapChat and Instagram. And while companies like creativeLIVE are driving live video forward on the Internet with educational content (now on 5 channels and broadcasting 24/7), the trend is for regular old TV to have more and more live programming.

    When TV was born over 80 years ago, it could only be watched live. But until recently, live had largely disappeared outside of entertainment events, sporting events, and reality competition shows (and of course, Saturday Night Live). So why did it take a 50-year old musical to revive live?

    Credit NBC who brought a beloved, well-known musical back to life and presented it as an event. How? They partnered with iTunes to produce a soundtrack, they released “making of” videos in advance of the broadcast, and execs repeatedly played up the “anything could happen” nature of live and the anxiety of the cast. This focus on the cast’s ability to carry the classic musical played to voyeuristic inclinations. Live broadcast forces its stars to be laid bare, flaws and all.

    But even with that solid marketing, timing is everything. Just a few years ago, Twitter and other real time social channels didn’t exist. Not only did The Sound of Music attract over 18 million people to the broadcast, but there were over five million people interacting with it on Twitter. Real time social media activity is where the real credit may be due.

    Not surprisingly, days after The Sound of Music aired, NBC announced plans to do another live broadcast of another musical. And no doubt execs at other media companies were buried in Tweets (or maybe plain old emails) pushing them to replicate the success NBC had.

    Thanks to the Internet, live TV is back!

  • Top Video Games 2013: What The Gamer In Your Life Really Wants
    Gaming is still widely considered a kids’ medium, but the average gamer age in 2013 is actually 30 and a full 68 per cent of gamers are over the age of 18, which explains why the top-selling games tend to be the mature-rated ones.

    These are often the best ones, too. While Nintendo still breaks ground with their “E for Everybody” platformers, much of the medium’s progression is first tested out in the adult arena. So if you have an adult gamer on your gift list, here are a bunch of titles that should hit the target.

    1. “The Last of Us”
    Naughty Dog / Sony
    PS3
    Games have long aspired to be respected as art, or at least as much as cinema, but their biggest hurdle has always been narrative. Well, that achievement has been unlocked with this unexpected epic from the folks behind the fun but far less-ambitious “Uncharted” games. “TLOS” takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has essentially been turned into zombies (they’re actually infected by a mutated fungus) with most of the survivors turning out to be even worse. As a father who lost his daughter in the chaos and became a gun-runner, you must regain your own humanity by helping escort a young girl across a ravaged America to a resistance group that may be able to use her to create a vaccine. While there’s plenty of combat on hand, it’s the sharp writing, impressive acting (both voice and motion-capture), organic art direction and bleak storytelling that set this game above its peers and earned its ream of near-perfect reviews.

    2. “GTA V”
    Rockstar North / Rockstar Games
    PS3, Xbox 360
    Rockstar has been making “Grand Theft Auto” games for forever now, and yet they still manage to surprise us with their quality. Once again, you play a criminal in a sprawling storyline that will take you from one end of a seemingly living, breathing city to the other. But it’s so much bigger this time. You’re actually playing three criminals whose stories intersect, and this new version of Los Santos, a thinly veiled L.A. first introduced in the sprawling PS2 game “San Andreas,” is so much more alive. The satire still has bite, the music has kick and there’s even a free online component that turns it, for the first time into a massively-multiplayer game in the vein of “World of Warcraft,” albeit one inhabited by metaphorical trolls rather than real ones. “GTA V” will be remembered as the game that made a billion bucks in three days, but it should be remembered as the most fully realized open-world that gaming has yet produced.

    3. Bioshock Infinite
    Irrational Games/2K Games
    Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac
    This spiritual sequel to 2007 game of the year “Bioshock” by philosophizing developer Ken Levin is set in a floating “utopian” cloud city called Columbia in the year 1912 that satirizes the idealized past as imagined by the likes of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Tea Party. The game functions as a critique of of American Exceptionalism, religious fundamentalism and endemic racism as well as skewering the ideologues on the left once the rag-tag revolutionaries rise up against the theocratic dictatorship and prove to be similarly brutal. Admittedly some of these deep thoughts are undercut by the first-person shooter gameplay which eventually turns you into mass murder rampaging through a charnel house.

    4. Dead Rising 3
    Capcom Vancouver / Microsoft Studios
    Xbox One
    Does the person on your Christmas list love zombies and have an Xbox One now or soon-to-be under the tree? If so, then you can stop shopping right now. While the original “Dead Rising” was set entirely in a shopping mall, this third iteration opens up an entire city populated with the undead. There may be a lot of zombie games on the market, but none have managed to have so many onscreen at once thanks to this game’s next-gen status. The gameplay itself is pretty straightforward — you’re a mechanic who must join forces with other survivors to escape the city before the military wipes it out. Oh, and slaughter as many zombies as you can along the way in as gory a fashion as you can.

    5. “Killzone: Shadow Fall”
    Guerrilla Games / Sony
    PS4
    For first-person shooter fans with a PS4 waiting for them under the tree, it’s hard to go wrong with Killzone. It may not be the most innovative FPS in the market, but it can easily claim the title as the prettiest. The futuristic Rt direction is a real joy to traipse through, as the arch-enemies from the long running franchise find themselves inhabiting the same planet (with a Berlin Wall type divider) following the utter destruction of the Helghast Homeworld after the last game. The bad guys are bad, but the supposed good guys aren’t much better — the wealth and technology if the Vekta is in sharp contrast to the Palestinian-like slums the Helgans inhabit — which adds an interesting wrinkle to the proceedings. Some have complained about this, but the (admittedly under-realized) subtext is that there are no truly good guys in a war.

    6. “Ryse: Son of Rome”
    Crytek / Microsoft
    Xbox One
    Crytek may be best known for their futuristic “Crysis” series, but for their first game for the Xbox One they took it back, way back, to the Roman era. Combining third-person combat with strategic command of armies (ordered about by voice) battling Barbarian hordes, “Ryse” is about as brutal as a game gets. In fact, the violence is actually far more visceral than a shooter, thanks to that up-close sword fighting and the improved graphics of the next-gen console that digitizes every drop of blood and severed limb. The increased processing power of the Xbox One also allows for far more soldiers onscreen than would have been possible in the past. The son of Rome in the title would be Marius Titus, and the game follows his rise from soldier to military leader as he seeks vengeance for the murder of his family during the era when Nero was emperor.

    7. “Call of Duty: Ghosts”
    Infinity ward/Acitivision
    Multiplatform
    “Call of Duty” has been one of gaming’s biggest franchises ever since the first-person shooter left WWII behind to engage in modern warfare. One this latest entry, which is available for both current and next-gen systems, they’ve abandoned realism altogether for a new alternate-future setting where the Middle East has been nuked and America’s primary anatagonist is the Federation, a collection of oil-producing South American states. (It’s a real treat to finally have moved on from the franchise’s fixation on evil Russians and Arabs.) The game actually begins out in space with a battle over a new superweapon before returning to Earth for the real fight amongst the ruins of the southwestern U.S. before heading further south. But the single-player campaign is still essentially an appetizer before the multiplayer main course, and this time out a good number of changes and new modes have been added to give it a literal shot in the arm.

    8. “Beyond: Two Souls”
    Quantic Dreams
    PS3
    The latest from French auteur David Cage continues his quest to meld games and cinema together into a new form of interactive drama. He is joined in this effort by Canadian actress Ellen Page who provides the voice and motion-capture performance as Jodie, a girl attached to a supernatural entity, alongside Willem Defoe, who plays a researcher and father figure. The game jumps haphazardly around the timeline, from Jodie’s being bullied at teenage house parties to her living on the streets with a community of homeless people to missions for CIA. But while the action is fine enough, it’s the more quotidian scenarios that give the game the emotional oomph Cage always aspires to.

    9. “Tomb Raider”
    Crystal Dynamics / Square Enix
    Multiplatform
    Now this is how you handle a reboot. Lara Croft is right up there with Nintendo’s Italian plumber as far as game fame goes, but before this year it seemed like the treasure hunter had nothing left to find. So Crystal Dynamics took her back to the beginning with this gritty prequel that features a young Croft still finding herself.
    Stranded on a free-roaming island populated by a crazed cult, Croft’s main objective is simply staying alive. And unlike latter-day inspired-by game heroes like “Uncharted’s” Nathan Drake, killing people is an emotionally wrenching experience for Croft rather than something to casually do between wisecracks.

    10. “Splinter Cell Blacklist”
    Created in Ubisoft’s new Toronto studio, the latest game in the long-running Tom Clancy spy series tries to blend everything that has come before to craft a game that can be played either stealthily, bloodily, or both.
    While longtime fans may miss the voice work of Michael Ironside as franchise hero Sam Fisher, they will love the character’s return to sneaky form. This twisty comeback tale of a secret terrorist organization setting off an escalating series of attacks to convince the Americans to bring their troops back home from foreign sends Fisher to ripped from the headlines locales like Benghazi and Guantanamo Bay while lightly dealing with issues like illegal imprisonment, government torture and Iran’s intentions. Admittedly, the game also boasts some unintended irony in making an NSA agent its hero in our post-Edward Snowden age.

  • Xbox One and PlayStation 4 in stock at GameStop this weekend
    Those looking to pick up a next-gen console before the holidays can try the game retailer starting Friday.
  • Glass Greets Paris: Parlez Français?
    If you’ve ever been to France, you know that language matters here…a lot. Keeping the global invasion of English at bay is a passion, so how would Glass fair in Paris?

    In Paris, much as in Spain, Glass’s arrival sparked curiosity. Walking down a street someone’s eyes would meet mine and if our eyes locked, the pedestrian would, ever so politely, ask, « Excusez-moi» and point to Glass. I’d stop and show, demonstrate its abilities but, of course, giving commands in English, they’d ask « Parlez français? » Well, not quite. It will translate French, though, and instantaneously! Ah, bon, but $1,500USD and it does not speak French!

    Glass has a lot of competition for Parisian pocketbooks, I realized quickly, but how would the techies here feel? My friend Sebastien invited me to the Remix Job Fair, an incredibly well organized Parisian startup job fair, overflowing with hundreds of job seekers happily talking to dozens of companies. Once inside, the whispers and glances crescendoed but no one approached. We needed to crack the curiosity code.

    Fortunately the opportunity arose quickly when Sebastien introduced Glass (and me) to prominent Parisian tech blogger Korben. I demoed Glass and the whisperers collected around us, unleashing pent up desire to ask and try. Soon I was encircled, person after person inquiring about Glass, wanting a photo with Glass. And, of course, they asked question: « Parle français? » Well, not quite.

    Instant celebrity got Glass an broadcasted interview with Florent Paret. He wore my Glass as I coached him through a few simple commands. “When will Glass be released in France? And when it is released will (it) Parlez français?” Wish I knew. “I’m just here to get people’s reactions,” I’d say. “I’m on a journey with Glass, not marketing it.”

    Outside this event and when not on the street, my Parisian contacts had either seen Glass before or known someone with Glass. A friend studying at IFA Paris had done a recent class project on enhancing Glass fashion appeal by partnering with Persol. She congratulated on my choice of charcoal Glass. Classy and not too flashy…

    In sum, Glass provoked less passion in Paris than in Spain, less overt desire to acquire, but still a high quotient of curiosity. To break into this city Glass will need to become multilingual and it may also need to hurdle local frugality. Parisians use a phone until it no longer works, as I learned with Sebastian, who also told me about a new no-contract phone company that provides cell service for only 20 euro a month. You want to compete against that Glass? You’d better parlez français!

  • Amazon Asked Why It's Still Selling Gun Accessories
    By Ross Kerber
    BOSTON (Reuters) – Activist investors have asked Amazon.com Inc to review its sales of firearms accessories, concerned that the online retailer offers products that could be used to convert semi-automatic rifles into weapons that fire too rapidly to be legal.
    The shareholder scrutiny of the world’s largest online retailer comes a day before the anniversary of the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, where a gunman killed 26 people. The incident led to extensive debate over U.S. gun-control laws and pressure on gunmakers and traditional retailers.
    The activists include the managers of funds that promote themselves as socially responsible investors, and a deputy of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who manages the state’s retirement fund. They sent Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos a letter on November 25 and showed it to Reuters on Thursday.
    The group of investors, which said it had not heard back from Amazon, asked for details like whether the company restricts sales of dangerous products and what percentage of revenue it generates from firearms accessories.
    The activists said in the letter that they were not suggesting the company is violating U.S. laws. “Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned that these product offerings allow your customers to increase the lethality of their weapons and to effectively convert semi-automatic weapons into machine guns, which are illegal under U.S. law,” states the letter.
    An Amazon representative said the company does not sell guns or ammunition and cited its policies in response to other questions. The company’s website notes that some jurisdictions might restrict the sale of some products. It also says it prohibits third parties from selling on Amazon “converters that can give a gun automatic capability” and “parts or accessories related to assault weapons.”
    The activists’ letter was signed by Adam Kanzer, general counsel of Domini Social Investments of New York and sent on behalf of 33 other investors that collectively have more than $490 billion under management and include Amazon shareholders. They noted the case of Newtown where gunman Adam Lanza used weapons including an AR-15 type rifle, a popular weapon that can be converted to fire more rapidly.
    The activists cited products offered for sale on Amazon.com such as a gun stock that “allows shooter to shoot as quickly as desired” and a lever for the AR-15 that “allows you to lock the bolt back and release the bolt with just a slight movement of your trigger finger which significantly improves the speed and efficiency of reloads,” according to both the site and the text of the letter.
    Similar levers were also available on the online sites of other retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Cabela’s Inc. Cabela’s also sold a similar gun stock.
    Kanzer said his firm did not contact either of the other retailers on the issue because Domini does not own their shares.
    A Cabela’s spokesman declined to comment.
    A Wal-Mart spokesman, Kory Lundberg, said the store avoids selling accessories that could be used to illegally modify a firearm. Among other restrictions, he said, it also does not sell handguns except at a few stores in Alaska, and does not sell guns online.
    (Editing by Matthew Lewis)
  • Video Games For Teens: 8 Games To Buy This Christmas
    Not a kid, not yet an adult, which makes teens are pretty hard to buy games for, since most of the ones they want are rated mature, which are theoretically for gamers 18 and older.

    Obviously, every teenager is unique and there’s a huge difference between 13 and 17. So as with all other aspects of parenting, the decisions as to which game to purchase should be made based on the age and maturity of your own particular offspring and what you deem acceptable in your own household.

    That said, there are plenty of games which are specifically rated “T for Teen,” so here’s a list of the best ones we’ve played this year, which are all good bets for this holiday season.

    1. “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag”
    Ubisoft Montreal
    Multiplatform
    Is there a better bait-and-switch history lesson than virtual assassinations? Probably not, at least not for teenage boys. The Montreal-made “Assassin’s Creed” series has always combined historical high-brow with visceral low — it’s right there in the title — and this latest entry is no different. What is different is the new focus on piracy. Naval battles were a minor but much-loved feature of “AC III,” set during the American Revolution, and they’ve taken centre-stage in this 1715 sequel starring you as proper pirate of the Caribbean.
    Though Havana, Kingston and Nassau are fascinating, historically accurate simulated cities, the best part of the game takes place on the high seas. The game’s post-release plunder includes the Dec. 17 downloadable expansion “Freedom Cry,” in which you play as a free slave from Trinidad who becomes a pirate.

    2. “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds”
    Nintendo
    Nintendo 3DS
    Talk about a link to the past — literally. The latest adventure for Nintendo’s autostereoscopic handheld console (meaning it pulls off 3D without needing special glasses) is a direct sequel to the beloved, if primitive 1992 Super NES classic “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.” But while the familiar setting and top-down gameplay offer a nostalgia blast for older fans, that’s not why this umpteenth visit to the kingdom of Hyrule to rescue its forever endangered princess Zelda is one of the year’s most critically acclaimed.
    Rather, it adds enough innovation (including non-linear exploration and the ability to turn Link into a 2D drawing) on top of its imitation (of then-ahead of its time game design) to craft a gameplay experiences that makes it a must-have for “Zelda” fans of any age. For Wii U owners hoping for their own “Zelda” hit, Nintendo has also remade their Gamecube edition, “The Wind Waker” in full HD to mark the game’s tenth birthday.

    3. “Rocksmith 2014 Edition”
    Ubisoft
    PC, PS3, Xbox 360
    Remember when “Guitar Hero” took up all the space under the Christmas tree with its giant plastic controllers shaped like guitars? Well, “Rocksmith” is kinda like that, except with actual guitars. In fact, if you don’t have your own guitar or bass to plug in, you can buy a $200 version that comes with an Epiphone Les Paul Junior.
    Either way, the award-winning “Rocksmith” is promoting itself as the “fastest way to learn guitar” (their method is dubbed the “60-day challenge”) and so it’s at least a far better use of a teenager’s time than simply getting good at pushing buttons. The new “Session Mode” lets you play with an AI band that can react to what you’re playing when you’re not jamming along to 50 familiar hits (plus many more downloadable song options) ranging from Aerosmith to Nirvana to Weezer.

    4. “Batman Arkham Origins”
    WB Games Montreal / WB Interactive
    Multiplatform
    While not quite up to the impossibly high standard the beloved Brits of Rocksteady set on the previous two games in this series, Warner Brother’s new Montreal-based studio still does right by Dark Knight (except for that damnable Deathstroke boss battle).
    This prequel takes place in the sprawling sandbox city of Gotham just two years into his career while he was still learning the ropes, was considered more myth than man and had yet to face off against much more than street thugs. Using much of the same gameplay techniques pioneered in the previous entries, as well as the general Gothic aesthetic, “Origins” shows how Batman met many of the members of his now-infamous rogues gallery, including The Joker and Bane, after a bounty is placed on his head one deadly Christmas Eve, a plot date that also makes this a perfect present to put under your tree.

    5. “WWE 2K14”
    Yukes, Visual Concepts / 2K Sports
    Xbox 360, PS3
    For their first time in the WWE ring, having bought the license after THQ went bankrupt last year, 2K make a number of minor updates and optimizations to the long-running wrestling series while retaining popular features like “create-a-superstar.”
    But the game’s real finishing move is the all-new single-player campaign called “30 Years of Wrestlemania” which pays homage to professional wrestling’s main event with 46 historical matches dating back to the company’s ’80s heyday as the WWF. For young wrestling geeks who missed watching those legendary battles on pay-per-view — Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy, “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat or Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – this game is a win-win.

    6. “The Wonderful 101″
    Platinum Games / Nintendo
    Wii U
    Hideki Kamiya, the man behind cartoony classics like “Viewtiful Joe” and “MadWorld,” takes a stab at a Nintendo game with “Wonderful 101,” a knowingly campy, combat-based game inspired by Japanese TV and movie serials known as tokusatsu (think Might Morphin Power Rangers) and kaiju (think Godzilla vs Mothra).
    The player is 101st superhero who controls the other 100 in defending the world from invading aliens. The combat-heavy gameplay involves drawing on the Wii U’s touchscreen controller to turn the horde of heroes themselves into enormous weapons. Chaotic, colourful, and admittedly kinda confusing — hence the mixed review scores — the challenging game is nonetheless a good bet for action-loving teens who own the console and are into Japanese culture.

    7. “Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate Edition”
    Multiplatform
    Netherrealm / WB Interactive
    Fighting games are the original multiplayer entertainment, and nobody fights quite like superheroes. The twist here, however, is that this time they’re fighting each other. Using the alternate-reality template set by DC’s Elseworlds imprint which take place outside of the comics’ usual continuity, as well as the the 2D fighter gameplay established in “Mortal Kombat,” “Injustice” uses an original storyline to justify its heroes vs heroes set-up.
    After the Joker tricks Superman into nuking Metropolis, accidentally killing his pregnant wife Lois Lane, the Kryptonian murders him and establishes a fascist regime which inspires Batman to lead an insurgency. Superheroes from comicdom’s more familiar universe then show up, leading to a series of one-on-one fights in familiar locals like Atlantis, the Bat Cave, Fortress of Solitude and the Hall of Justice.
    The re-released “Ultimate Edition” includes all the extra downloadable content, including playable characters like Batgirl, Martian Manhunter, Zatanna and General Zod.

    8. “Forza Motorsport 5″
    Turn 10 / Microsoft
    Xbox One
    The trouble with launch games is they rarely show off the graphical prowess of a new consoles. But that’s not usually the case with racing games. and certainly not with the ffth entry in Turn 10′s popular Forza series, which is about as pretty as one could hope for. But that’s not why Forza 5 wins its race — it’s the because it metaphorically corners so well. While it’s got plenty of assists (like a time-reversal option and a driving guide line for those who prefer a more arcade-like racer, like myself, it’s also an ace simulator when you remove the training wheels to enjoy the photorealistic tracks, car and physics.
    But the real selling features are the game makers’ collaborating with the beloved Brits of cult car show “Top Gear” and the innovative “drivatar” AI system which uses cloud computing to take the driving styles of friends and strangers alike to create the most human-like artificial intelligence to ever get behind the wheel of a digital car. In fact, your teen’s drivatar may even be out there winning races while they get their homework done so they have no excuse.

  • U.S. Wireless Carriers Agree To Make Unlocking Your Cell Phone Easier
    By Alina Selyukh

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Major U.S. wireless carriers on Thursday pledged to make it easier for consumers to “unlock” their mobile phones for use on competitors’ networks, responding to pressure from consumer groups and the top U.S. communications regulator.

    Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US and U.S. Cellular agreed to “clearly notify” customers when their devices are eligible for unlocking and to process unlocking requests within two business days, said wireless industry group CTIA.

    U.S. wireless carriers often “lock” smartphones to their networks as a way to encourage consumers to renew their mobile contracts. Consumers often get new devices at a heavily subsidized price in return for committing to longer contracts.

    The top carriers have long allowed consumers to unlock devices and take them to another network at the end of a contract term – commonly, two years – though the process varies by company and can be quite painstaking.

    Then in late 2012, the Library of Congress, the minder of U.S. copyright law, completed a new triannual review of exemptions to the law that effectively made phone unlocking illegal, even after the consumer completed the contract.

    The ruling surprised many telecom observers, outraged phone users, and finally landed on the White House’s agenda thanks to an online citizen petition that gathered 114,322 signatures, more than the 100,000 needed to spur a response. The White House sided with the petitioners.

    Unlocking then became a top 2013 policy matter for new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a former CTIA chief for whom it presented an opportunity to distance himself from his former industry.

    In November, he sent a letter to the CTIA demanding the carriers voluntarily agree to unlock phones for customers in good standing to ensure phone users still have that option.

    On Thursday, the agreement was announced and the five carriers pledged to unlock devices after the customer’s contract is fulfilled, including pre-paid ones within a year of purchase. (To read the agreement, see: bit.ly/1h3XS1G)

    “Today was an important day for consumer choice,” Wheeler said on Thursday. “Today’s commitment by wireless providers will provide consumers with more information about when and how to move their devices from one compatible network to another, should they decide to do so.”

    The agreement was welcomed by Sina Khanifar, one of the organizers of the White House petition, although he and public interest groups would still like a permanent change to the copyright law and more flexibility for consumers to unlock their phones before their contracts end – possibly without having to ask the carriers’ permission first.

    “I really wish I could hang my hat on this and say that the issue had been resolved. But unfortunately it’s only a start,” said Khanifar.

    The changes are expected to be rolled out over a year.

    BUSINESS REALITIES

    Unlike cell phone operators in other countries, U.S. wireless carriers often lock smartphones to make it harder for customers to leave their network. It helps sustain the subsidy business model of the industry, in which consumers get steep discounts to buy pricey devices like Apple Inc’s iPhone in exchange for higher monthly fees.

    Technically, too, devices sold to U.S. consumers are not compatible across all networks. AT&T and T-Mobile use similar technology standards, while another type is used by Sprint and Verizon. Some services may not work as well on phones from another operator.

    Verizon is the only carrier whose phones generally come unlocked at the beginning of a contract. The company is bound to do so through an earlier deal it had struck with the FCC.

    SELF-INFLICTED WOUND

    While Wall Street has paid little attention, the unlocking saga was a black eye for the wireless industry which was perceived to be on the wrong side of consumers’ rights.

    Inside the carriers, executives grumble that the ordeal was largely self-inflicted as lawyers from the CTIA were the ones to stir up the issue at the Library of Congress.

    U.S. copyright law had an exemption allowing unlocking of devices since 2006, but in the new review in 2012, the CTIA lawyers successfully challenged it.

    Despite opposition from the Commerce Department, the CTIA convinced the Library of Congress that the exemption was no longer warranted. They argued that new, unlocked phones were widely available and that the carriers’ unlocking policies were already flexible.

    CTIA has pushed back on the notion that it acted without direction from its members, but Jot Carpenter, vice president for federal affairs, acknowledged that the legal battle spun into a major policy debacle unexpectedly.

    “The industry won a legal argument but failed to anticipate it morphing into a policy argument,” he said in an interview. “I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from that.”

    (Reporting by Alina Selyukh,; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Bernard Orr, Kenneth Barry and Tim Dobbyn)

  • White House Makes Twitter Typo, Encourages People To Give Their Moms 'Piece Of Mind'
    The White House made an unfortunate typo Thursday while pushing for people to #GetCovered on healthcare.gov.

    @WhiteHouse sent a flood of tweets Thursday listing reasons why people should get covered. In one tweet, the White House told people getting health insurance would give their moms “piece”– not “peace” — of mind:

    #GetCovered because
    your mom will have peace of mind
    (and you will as well).
    http://t.co/GNfbftrfo3, pic.twitter.com/AP3HLgeQBV

    — The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 12, 2013

    Even Obama got in on the action, posing for a photo with a sign that said “nobody should go broke just because they get sick”:

    President Obama: “#GetCovered because nobody should go broke just because they get sick.” http://t.co/eR8TeNMAhp, pic.twitter.com/xIN98tIxLX

    — The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 12, 2013

  • This 1 Photo Proves No Square Inch Of The Earth Is Safe From Ads
    We’re reaching never-before-seen levels of ridiculousness in the advertising industry, people: Tech giant Intel has shelled out $34 million for the privilege of branding not the outside of iconic Spanish football club FC Barcelona’s jerseys, but the inside:

    intel barcelona

    There is some logic behind the decision. Ever see a football player lift up his shirt while celebrating a goal? Well, that’s when FC Barcelona’s 58 million fans will now see an Intel logo. It’s the first time that a company has ever advertised on the inside of a shirt, according to the company.

    That’s cool and all. Good for them. But at the same time, ARE YOU KIDDNG ME?

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