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Mobile Technology News, January 31, 2014

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.

  • Amazon stock slides 10% on earnings
    Online retailer Amazon reports net profits of $239m for the quarter ending 31 December, but its stock plunges after missing analyst expectations.
  • The 50 Best Super Bowl Commercials Ever (VIDEOS)
    The most memorable moments on Super Bowl Sunday don’t always take place on the gridiron and the most complex plays aren’t always scripted by the coaches on the sidelines. Sometimes it’s a 6-year-old dressed in a Darth Vader costume rather than a 6′ 8″ behemoth in shoulder pads that has America talking on Super Monday.

    Ever since Apple ushered in the age of the blockbuster Super Bowl commercial with its epic “1984” ad during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, the NFL’s biggest game is must-watch television from start to finish regardless of what is happening on the field. That iconic Apple commercial directed by Ridley Scott remains the most talked about aspect the Los Angeles Raiders’ 38-9 win over the Washington Redskins in Tampa (edging that 74-yard touchdown run by Marcus Allen).

    From classics like Mean Joe Greene’s legendary Super Bowl spot and the Xerox monks commercial to recent favorites like Betty White’s big hit for Snickers, here are 50 of the most unforgettable Super Bowl commercials ever aired. Which is the best? Any favorites that we forgot?

  • The Apple Impasse
    Among the number of Apple product users (I would give you the precise figure if Google didn’t require a password), I wonder how many billions have been as frustrated as I am over Apple’s password requirements. I do know my wife is one of them, since she has been on the phone with a equally frustrated Apple technician for the past four hours trying to restore a password on her iMac, iPhone, iPad, iTunes and iCloud.

    This Apple password business makes an application for Obamacare look like a waltz in the sun. And am I wrong to believe it’s a relatively new phenomenon? Yes, I know you always needed a password to open your computer, and then, of course, you always needed others to look into your bank balance, retirement pension, cable television company, hospital accounts, newspapers, and so forth. Now you need one just to get permission to blow your nose.

    I appreciate the need for a password. It protects you against all forms of fraud, scams, jams, hacking, hijacking, and fast tracking. What I don’t understand is why a passport suddenly and without any warning turns a cold shoulder on you, or why it is so nerve-wracking to establish a new one.

    Take my wife, She awoke this morning to discover that she couldn’t access her computer. The passport was invalid. “Forgot your password?” the computer asked her. “No,” she tried to answer, without any success, “The passport forgot me.”

    It should have been easy to establish a new one. But after following all the procedures with increasing impatience, she finally decided to call an Apple technician. (She’s still on the phone as you read this.) Let me tell you about the frustrations that led up to that decision. First, she waited for the email that would tell her how to create a new password. Then she followed the easy instruction: Enter Apple ID. Then she answered the following questions: Mother’s maiden name; best friend in high school; name of her date at the senior prom. And finally, she was asked to identify some extremely squiggly numbers and letters that anyone without astigmatism could not possibly interpret correctly. (It reminds one of Mel Brooks’s “Two Thousand Year Old Man” who, when told that Shakespeare was a great writer, testily replied, “He was a terrible writer — his i’s looked like j’s, his q’s looked like p’s. His handwriting was terrible.”)

    When, by some miracle, my wife got past this verbal obstacle, she was answered to enter a new password. Sounds encouraging, no? Forget about it. Her password was rejected because it didn’t have sufficient numbers or capital letters. The next one looked too much like another she had used in the past year. And the next one was considered too accessible to hackers. That was when, suppressing an impulse to defenestrate her computer, she called up Apple, which took her through even more complicated procedures regarding the serial number of her computer, the General category of her System Preferences, the extent of her Options and Data, and the date of her sister’s first menstrual period.

    Aha, she’s back! Success! She has finally broken through her Apple Impasse and established an Apple Password. It is “Iam123PissedoffAshell.”

  • CIRP: Apple regains US smartphone lead thanks to new iPhones
    The latest report from the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) panel shows Apple retook its lead in US smartphone marketshare against the combined forces of Android competitors following the release of new iPhone models in October. The figures, which cover the last quarter of 2013, show that iOS outsold Android by 48 percent to 46 percent, Apple outsold rival Samsung 48 to 31 percent, and that BlackBerry has officially fallen to zero percent marketshare.


  • Windows 8.1 update may default to desktop on startup
    An expected update to Windows 8.1 could reportedly boot directly to the traditional Windows desktop, bypassing the tiled “Metro” start screen.
  • Samsung, Apple argue in court over product sales injunctions
    Apple and Samsung were in court on Thursday in front of US District Court Judge Lucy Koh, with the former arguing that its successful verdicts against Samsung entitles it to sales bans on the affected products (even though none of them are still offered for sale). Samsung, meanwhile, protested that the injunctions would “create fear and uncertainty” among suppliers, since Apple could seek bans on current and future products as well.


  • Social media transforms lessons
    Is social media set to kill schoolbooks?
  • Box said to have secretly filed for an IPO
    The cloud-storage service has confidentially filed paperwork for an initial public offering, reports Quartz.
  • VIDEO: Inside the mind of an inventor
    Colin Furze is a plumber, inventor and holder of numerous Guinness World Records
  • VIDEO: Close up look at solar-powered home
    Keith Eggington lives with his wife Joan in a solar-powered house in Rotherham. He explains the huge benefits to being powered by the sun.
  • Zynga buys game-maker NaturalMotion
    Social gaming firm Zynga announces the purchase of UK gamemaker Natural Motion as it posts a loss of $25m for the fourth quarter.
  • Illinois Lawmaker Takes Aim At 'Revenge Porn' Posters And Peddlers With New Proposal
    Revenge porn” could become a felony crime in Illinois with hefty fines and jail time under a new proposal filed in Springfield Wednesday.

    If passed, the legislation sponsored by state Sen. Michael Hastings (D–Orland Park) would also make it a felony to host any website that forces victims to pay a fee to have their images taken down.

    “It’s extortion, it’s wrong and it’s a growing problem,” Hastings said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this happens daily to unsuspecting people who often times use technology without fully realizing the consequences.”

    The posting of so-called “revenge porn” or “involuntary porn” is done so without the subject’s permission — often by a bitter ex — with accompanying information like address, workplace or social media accounts that identifies the victim.

    In still more instances — like the case a California woman whose computer was hacked for personal photos of herself that showed her topless — the images are stolen outright.

    “Despite what is advertised, ‘Revenge Porn’ is not pornography. When it all comes down, Revenge Porn is simply harassment,” states a Change.org petition calling for Illinois to amend its cyberstalking laws.

    Currently, victims can’t go after web hosts directly due to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

    If passed, Hastings’ proposal would make revenge porn a felony punishable by up to a $25,000 fine and three years in jail.

    New Jersey and California already have laws on the books criminalizing revenge porn. The Tribune reports similar bills are pending in 13 other states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have urged caution when crafting laws against revenge porn.

    “We generally don’t think that finding more ways to put people in prison for speech is a good thing,” said Adi Kamdar, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Boston Globe in November. “A lot of times, these laws — if they aren’t narrowly focused enough — they can be interpreted too broadly.”

  • The Price Of Amazon Prime May Go Up For First Time — By A Lot
    Enjoy that $79 Amazon Prime while you can.

    The price of Prime, the $79 yearly subscription that includes free two-day shipping, may increase between $20 and $40 in the U.S., the company said late Thursday in a call with investors and analysts.

    The price of Prime hasn’t changed in the nine years since it first launched. The company said the increases were the result of rising fuel and shipping costs over the past near-decade.

    Tom Szkutak, Amazon’s CFO, said that Amazon was “considering” a price increase, but didn’t give a timeline as to when it would go in effect. He also declined to answer an analyst’s question about how the price increase would be implemented, so it’s unclear if existing Prime members would be grandfathered in at $79.

    Amazon Prime initially gave customers free two-day shipping on over 1 million items. It has since grown to include 19 million items, Szkutak said, as well as access to Amazon Prime Instant Video and a digital library for Kindle owners. Szkutak said that the potential price increase wasn’t to cover costs associated with Amazon’s subscription video service or the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, though he acknowledged that “those are certainly costly.”

    The service automatically re-enrolls people after a year.

    Amazon has refused to disclose exactly how many Prime members exist, but in December said that it was “tens of millions.”

    A Morningstar report from last year said that Prime members spend “approximately twice as much” as their non-Prime counterparts each year, shop more frequently and buy pricier items.

  • Closer Together or Further Apart? Digital Devices and the New Generation Gap
    Angry Birds: 1, Grandparents: 0

    Last week Chuck and Janet Bloom gave their only daughter a night off by taking their grandchildren out for dinner at a local pizza parlor. Both were looking forward to a playful evening with the kids. But as soon as they sat at the table, even before the menus appeared, they noted with dismay that their beloved grandkids were more engaged with and attentive to their holiday-acquired digital devices than to their loving, pizza-partying grandparents. Miriam, their sweet 14-year-old granddaughter, had her eyes intently focused on the contents of her iPad Facebook page. Briana, the 11-year-old, was posting her whereabouts on Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. And at the far end of the table, 7-year-old Sam’s lips pursed in silent focus as he furiously engaged in a PlayStation cowboy shootout. Feeling frustrated, hurt, and angry — like they might as well have dined alone — Chuck and Janet quietly launched into an oft-held discussion about how these devices are ruining not just their three grandkids, but young people in general.

    At the very same moment and just one table over, half a dozen 20-something work friends were seated, also preparing to order pizza. And just one look over at that crowd affirmed Chuck and Janet’s worries about a “lost generation.” At that table, two of the diners amicably swapped office gossip, but the others were as engaged with their digital devices as the aforementioned grandkids. What the clucking Chuck and Janet failed to notice was that no one at this second table seemed even remotely concerned or bothered by the fact that technology held as much sway as actual people.

    So, why were Chuck and Janet seething about the “digital snub” from their grandchildren, while everyone at the other table managed to enjoy themselves, completely unruffled by the ever-shifting sands of live conversation, texting, tweeting and posting? In great part this difference stems from the fact that Chuck and Janet are digital immigrants, while their grandkids and the 20-somethings one table over are all digital natives — different generations divided by different definitions of personal respect, attentiveness, interpersonal communication and what constitutes a meaningful relationship.

    Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants

    Generally speaking, people born before 1980 are digital immigrants, and those born after are digital natives. This somewhat arbitrary dividing line attempts to separate those who grew up actively using the Internet and those who did not. Another, and perhaps better, way of looking at things is to say that digital natives unquestioningly value and appreciate the role that digital technology plays in their lives, whereas digital immigrants hold mixed views on the subject. Not surprisingly, thanks to continual advances in digital technology (such as the introduction of Internet-enabled smartphones a few years ago), the separation between digital natives and digital immigrants is widening almost by the day, resulting not so much in a generation gap as a generation chasm.

    This new generation gap is evident in practically every facet of modern life. For instance, there are extreme differences in the ways digital natives and digital immigrants conduct business, gather news and information and spend their paychecks. They also differ significantly in the ways they define personal privacy, experience entertainment and socially engage (as evidenced in the pizza restaurant scenario above). Simply put, in a mere 25 years our basic forms of interpersonal communication and interaction have been drastically reformatted, and those who prefer the old ways of mostly face-to-face contact often feel left out and unappreciated.

    In some ways this new generation gap sounds a lot like every other generation gap in history. However, previous generation gaps have mostly centered on young people vocally, visually and in-real-time challenging the beliefs and experiences of their elders. Today, the divide is more about the fact that young people neither see nor hear their elders because, from a communications standpoint, the two generations are not in the same room. For instance, in the pizza restaurant Chuck and Janet are “present” and interacting at the dinner table, while their grandkids are “present” and interacting in a completely different, entirely digital universe. In some ways, this means that Chuck and Janet are dinosaurs. Basically, because they’re not texting, tweeting or posting to social media, they’re not effectively communicating with their grandkids. Thus it seems the 1960s mantra that Chuck and Janet used to utter, “Don’t trust anyone over 30,” has for their grandkids morphed into, “We don’t care about anyone over 30 because we can’t see or hear them.”


    Interestingly, many digital natives think that young people are isolated and disconnected — more interested in machines than people. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, no generation in history has been more interconnected than Generations Y and Z. Statistics readily back this up. One study found that in 2009 more than half of American teens logged on to a social media site at least once per day, and nearly a quarter logged on 10 or more times per day. In the same year, a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that more than three-quarters of U.S. teens owned a cellphone, with 88 percent texting regularly. Boys were sending and receiving 30 texts per day, with girls averaging 80. A more recent Pew study, this one conducted in 2012, finds these numbers are rising rapidly among every Gen Y and Z demographic. In fact, the first sentence of the 2012 study’s overview reads: “Teens are fervent communicators.” Indeed!

    This same survey also reveals (to the chagrin of many digital immigrants) that texting is now the primary mode of communication between teens and their friends and family, far surpassing phone calls, emails, and face-to-face interactions. Depending on your age and point of view, of course, this may or may not be a bad thing.

    Consider Brad, a tech-savvy digital immigrant who recently flew home from the West Coast to visit his family in Chicago. One evening at dinner there were three generations — his parents, him and his sister, and his sister’s kids. During dinner the oldest child, 17, asked him via text:

    “Are you going to marry that girl you brought home last year?”

    He texted back: “Yes, but no one else knows yet. Is that OK?”

    In response, she typed: “I’m so excited. I know you don’t want your mom and dad to know yet, but they are really hoping you will. They liked her. So just between us, can I be a bridesmaid?”

    He texted: “I know my secret would be safe with you, and of course you will be a bridesmaid!”

    For Brad, this poignant conversation with his niece was one of the more meaningful exchanges of his entire five-day visit. And it is possible that without the privacy shield provided by texting, his 17-year-old niece may not have had the courage to broach the subject, even if she’d been able to find a moment alone with him. For her, the digital buffer of texting made this sweet and intimate exchange possible. And the conversation was no less meaningful for either person just because it was conducted via text.

    Talk Versus Text: Does It Matter?

    It is possible that human interactions are no less meaningful or productive simply because they are digital rather than face-to-face. It is also possible the exact opposite is true. Frankly, it depends more on those doing the communicating than anything else. Most often, digital immigrants (Baby Boomer and Gen X types) tend to want/need/prefer in-person, live interactions or at least telephone conversations where they can hear the other person’s voice.

    Digital natives, on the other hand, seem to feel that communication is communication, no matter the venue. To them, it seems silly to wait until they run into someone when they can text that person right now and get an instant response. They ask: “Why would I be disconnected when I can post, tweet and text to let my family and friends known what I’m doing and what I need, and they can do the same with me?” This, of course, is the crux of the current generation gap — shifting from a fully analog world to one that is increasingly digital.

    In my recently released book Closer Together, Further Apart, my coauthor Jennifer Schneider and I note that in today’s world the best communicators are those who are willing and able to engage other people in whatever venue is most appropriate and useful at the time. They neither avoid nor insist on a particular mode of interaction. Instead, they work hard to make sure their message is fully understood by the intended audience no matter what. In other words, they embrace the idea that they need to live and communicate fluently in both the digital and analog worlds. As technology evolves, so do good communicators, and they do so without forgetting or discounting what has worked in the past, remaining constantly aware of the fact that some people may prefer the older methodology, while others prefer the new.

    Unfortunately, as has always been the case when changes in technology have swiftly and profoundly affected our day-to-day lives, many people, young and old alike, become entrenched in the belief that “the way we do it is the best way.” The simple truth is that cultural/technological assimilation is rarely an easy task. Sometimes it can feel easier to judge and avoid, rather than to embrace and evolve. Thus we have the current communications-driven generation gap. That said, the effort of reaching out beyond our generational comfort zone is usually well worth the effort. Brad found that to be true with his niece, and Chuck and Janet might also find it to be the case if they were only willing to give it a shot.


    Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S is Senior Vice President of Clinical Development with Elements Behavioral Health. He has developed clinical programs for The Ranch outside Nashville, Tennessee, Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu, and The Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles. An author and subject expert on the relationship between digital technology and human sexuality, Mr. Weiss has served as a media specialist for CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Today Show, among many others. He has also provided clinical multi-addiction training and behavioral health program development for the US military and treatment centers throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

  • Microsoft ready to name Satya Nadella new CEO, report says
    After months of searching, Microsoft’s board is said to be close to naming Steve Ballmer’s replacement. Bill Gates also may be out as chairman.
  • 7 Uses for the iPhone 5s Fingerprint Scanner

    With Apple’s launch of the iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner, biometrics have gone mainstream. Many consumers are focused on the so-called “end of the password,” but the impact of TouchID is reframing how we think about access, security, and integration between virtual apps and real world actions. While top Apple execs are saying that developers won’t get direct access to TouchID in the short-term, an eventual release of the technology via API is likely. Here are 7 uses for the iPhone 5s fingerprint scanner we expect to see in the future that go way beyond simply unlocking your phone.

    1. Authorize iTunes Purchases

    Consumers are now able to verify iTunes store purchases with a tap of the scanner. The mechanics are simple, and mirror iOS’s current approach to storing passwords. Your passwords are stored in your iPhone keychain, and your fingerprint will serve as authorization. An approach like this backs up Apple’s position that your fingerprint (or more specifically, an algorithmic interpretation of your fingerprint) is only stored locally on your phone, versus in the cloud – thus allaying security concerns.

    2. Integrate with Home Security Systems

    Touch ID has interesting implications for integration with the growing phone-controlled home security market. Functions such as arming your system, unlocking your door, starting your car, and accessing your home cameras could be triggered by a touch. The major appeal here is security. If your phone is lost or stolen, remote control of your home and vehicle is protected. This additional level of security could help spur adoption of the technology, and further personalize security options based on who is accessing the system.

    3. Increase Security and Integration with Token-Based Services

    TouchID doesn’t just change security in a world of bad passwords and no passwords; it dramatically increases security as well. The iPhone 5S’ fingerprint scanner creates a physical barrier that makes it much harder to hack. As we strive for better security, many institutions such as banks have implemented security tokens to control access. TouchID could add another layer of authentication to these services.

    4. Change the Way Other Apps Conceptualize Security

    As the iPod changed our concept of accessing music, it’s possible that TouchID will lead a revolution in the way that apps and other devices handle security. Other devices will be looking at the adoption and success rates of TouchID to combat fraud and security risks. Apps that currently rely on passwords will begin to explore whether a TouchID API could be the solution in our world of no passwords, bad passwords, and aggressive hackers. Since many services already use OAuth to verify usernames and passwords without exposing them on the server, it’s a conceivably simple step forward to add two-factor fingerprint verification.

    5. Pay for Groceries

    The day may not be far away when TouchID could allow you to authorize an in-person purchase at your local grocery store. A store with a payment system connected to iBeacons technology could ostensibly have purchases authorized through the fingerprint scanner. All communication would happen via Bluetooth. The register would transfer the bill to your phone, and you’d authorize your purchase by scanning your fingerprint. This would help reduce instances of credit card fraud, and forgetting or losing your credit card.

    6. Enable Multiple User Profiles on a Single Mobile Device

    Having multiple profiles on a computer makes it easier to share; everything can be configured to your preferences. But sharing on mobile devices has proven harder. TouchID could open the way for businesses that share tablets (assuming it migrates to other iDevices) or families that share phones. One tap of a wife’s finger could open her profile, configured with her work mail and productivity apps. Handing over the phone to her husband could then access his gaming apps. One user could even configure different profiles – for example, a work profile and a personal one – that could be accessed by different digits, making the phone a truly responsive tool.

    7. Increase Adoption and Possibilities of Passbook

    Die-hard iPhone users already know about Passbook: the native iPhone app that allows users to store coupons, passes, and event tickets in a single place. But, for a native app, its adoption rate is disappointing, according to zdnet.com.

    Passbook is a channel for acquiring and retaining customers. TouchID could add a layer of security to the system, but it also opens up the possibilities of expanding Passbook’s capabilities. Passbook has the potential to become a fully functioning digital wallet, storing payment details and other sensitive information. Fingerprint authentication will help late adopters feel more secure, and willing to give the app a try.

    Touch ID is likely an inflection point in technology: the first step that sets off a chain reaction that changes how technology manufacturers and app developers think about security and build checks and balances into their products. While much in the short-term will be determined by the level of access that Apple provides, it’s clear: our notion of security and device authentication is about to be turned on its head.

    Image credit: Senate.gov (public domain)

  • Microsoft Will Likely Name Satya Nadella As Its Next CEO: Reports
    Microsoft has decided that its next CEO will be Satya Nadella, an executive vice president at Microsoft and longtime employee at the ailing software maker, Bloomberg News is reporting.

    Microsoft cast a wide net for its next chief executive, both within and outside the company. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO for a decade, said he planned to step down from the position in August. Microsoft ran through a slew of corporate stars, including Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, before choosing Nadella, an internal candidate with less name recognition.

    Bloomberg News hedged its report, saying Microsoft’s “plans aren’t finished,” according to its sources.

    The intervening months of uncertainty over who would lead Microsoft took its toll on employees’ morale, reports Re/code’s well-sourced Kara Swisher, who also confirmed that Nadella is the “likeliest internal candidate to prevail” as CEO. Nevertheless, Microsoft workers “seem to love him,” reports Fortune’s Dan Primack.

    Bill Gates may step back to an even smaller role at Microsoft since ending his run as CEO in 2000. Again according to Bloomberg, the board is discussing having someone replace Gates as chairman of the board, a position from which Gates gently steered Microsoft during Ballmer’s rocky tenure through the last decade. Since 2000, Gates has directed most of his energy to philanthropic efforts.

    Moving from Sun Microsystems to Microsoft in 1992, Nadella is currently in charge of cloud computing and enterprise software — a side of Microsoft’s business that primarily sells to other businesses, not regular customers. Over the past several years, Microsoft has struggled to sell consumer products like Windows Phone or Microsoft Surface while its enterprise business has remained healthy.

  • Google earnings climb on ad revenue
    Search giant Google reports fourth quarter profits of $3.38bn, up 17% from a year earlier, buoyed by strong advertising revenue.
  • Image Disruptor: Flag Looks To Upend Photo Printing Through The Magic of Free
    By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

    Flag, a photo printing start-up that is holding a barnstorming 14-day Kickstarter campaign right now, turned up on my radar this week thanks to John Gruber’s Daring Fireball. The pitch video for the app is slick, featuring go-to start-up pitchman Adam Lisagor–you might recognize him from ads for Coin, Square, or countless others–in a supporting role.

    Front and center is Flag’s founder and UX designer Samuel Agboola, who makes the pitch for the service: get 20 free photo prints a month from your smartphone. Printing and shipping are free, thanks to an ad on the back of the print. Paid upgrades, be it for more prints or postcards, are an option.

    As of this writing, with just 11 days left, Flag has raised just under $40,000 of the $100,000 campaign goal. I caught up with Flag’s Agboola via the magic of email to have him answer a few questions I had about the project.

    TURNSTYLE: Flag looks like it is targeted at those who would like to have prints but don’t need to have them right away, is that accurate? Will the “buy as many as you need” photos be available on-demand or as ad-free options?

    Samuel Agboola: I’d not put it that way. Flag is aimed at people who want prints but aren’t happy with the options that exist. Making prints at home is expensive and a hassle. Ordering prints online is expensive and the quality is wildly variable. Getting prints at the pharmacy? An act of desperation. The quality is laughable thanks to neglected equipment and unskilled staff.

    Flag can deliver as fast, or faster, than any online printer, we can beat the quality of home printers and offer capabilities you’d need a laser-die cutter—which you don’t have—to match. If you use Flag to make simple rectangular prints you’re going to get the best quality you’ve experienced and enjoy excellent service and convenience. If you use the app and explore any of our special features you’re going to produce prints unlike anything anyone else is capable of.

    TS: Why just a 14 day campaign?

    Confidence, experience and a little madness. If you study Kickstarter campaigns, and we have (as you’ll discover if you listen to the podcasts we produced last year at greenlighter.com) you’ll be familiar with the smashed camel effect. If you graph the responses to Kickstarter campaigns you see a peak at the start, then a big dip and a peak at the end. One reason for the dip is a lack of urgency. It’s hard to maintain excitement over 30 days. We hope to avoid that and get the same results without a break in the middle. If it works we’ll look really smart. If not…

    TS: Did the Daring Fireball post cause a big bump?

    SA: Yes.

    TS: In the comments section of the campaign you note that part of the reason for going to Kickstarter is to prove there is interest to potential advertising partners. Was trying a Mailbox.app style launch–gathering beta requests before a limited launch–ever on the table?

    SA: We considered many avenues. The downside to gathering requests is that it’s easy to say “I want that” with nothing on the line. The upside is a potentially huge response. By using Kickstarter people are self-selecting as our best possible customers. They’re paying for a free app. It makes them a very impressive group.

    TS: For those who have never printed out a picture from an iPhone 5, for example, how does a 4×6 print compare to a 4×6 print from 35mm film?

    SA: Wow. You’ll get me killed. Regardless, I’ll wade in. The truth is for a small print an iPhone will produce a print that looks better than 35mm film the way most of us use it. I’m not talking about my father’s Nikon F4 with a great lens and good light. I mean a fixed 28mm lens being handled by someone who’s not a serious enthusiast. We also have the advantage of being able to use filters and effects to correct and enhance our images. The 8MP an iPhone captures will produce a flawless 6×4 print. The things it can’t do as well as 35 mm film are action, depth-of-field control and low-light. iPhones also have an issue with purple but that’s another conversation.

    TS: You’re situated in Venice, what start-ups in the Silicon Beach scene are you getting inspired by?

    SA: I chose to live in Venice because I love the area, I love to walk and I like great coffee. For a couple of years the best coffee-shop in the world was Intelligentsia on Abbot Kinney, thanks to a crew of baristas of uncommon talent and friendliness. It made that coffee-shop the hub of the community and became its own little tech scene. In the rest of LA everyone’s working on a screenplay. In Venice people are as likely to be working on code. I’ve lived in the South Bay, on and off, since the late ’90s. I predate Silicon Beach but find the city itself inspiring.


    Flag’s Kickstarter sprint ends on February 11th.

    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

Mobile Technology News, January 30, 2014

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.

  • Xbox One rumors abound: March update, white console, and more
    Word has it that an update for Xbox One could be coming in weeks, the purported white version of the device is on the horizon, and there might be a version of the console without a Blu-ray drive.
  • Google sells Motorola unit to Lenovo
    Google announces the surprise sale of its Motorola Mobility unit, which it bought in 2012, to Chinese computer maker Lenovo for $2.91bn.
  • The 10 Commandments of Instagram: How to Be a Good Human When Sharing Photos
    Instagram rocks. I love it, and so do the youth I work with and study. The latest Pew survey says 18 percent of teens use the photo sharing service, which has about 150 million users. As I travel around the country speaking about social media and bullying, I hear about the many ways photo sharing can become an opportunity to disrespect people, start fights and make people feel excluded and small.

    It’s time for some guidelines on how to be a good human on Instagram. I came up with these with input from a bunch of kids, teens, parents and educators. I encourage you to talk about them with your kids and share them with teachers. Print this out and put it on the fridge. Following these Ten Commandments can help youth — heck, all of us — avoid drama online and be upstanding digital citizens.

    1. Thou shalt be the same decent person online that thou art offline. If you wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, “Your hair looks cray,” don’t type it, either.

    2. Thou shalt never judge someone’s appearance negatively in a comment, even as a joke.

    3. Thou shalt not post photos of people that they don’t know about, don’t want you to post, or might find embarrassing. If you are asked to remove a photo, do it immediately. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s funny.

    4. Thou shalt remember that JK can be just as hurtful online as it is offline — “OMG your vacation looks so boring haha” — and people are way less likely to think you were kidding when they can’t hear your tone of voice.

    5. Thou shalt realize that when you post something online, everyone sees it and it doesn’t go away. It’s like walking into a crowded cafeteria with a bullhorn and poster-size photo. Don’t want to do that? Kay.

    6. Thou shalt remember that everyone worries about getting likes. You matter more than the number of likes you get. Promise.

    7. Thou shalt not crop others out of photographs to exclude them, unless they are your Mom and you want to post a cool photo of yourself.

    8. Thou shalt never create anonymous handles or jack anyone else’s account. Untag yourself from rude photos or comment threads.

    9. If thou art in middle school or younger, keep your settings private and only accept follows from people you know.

    10. Thou shalt post photos that share body parts normally covered by bathing suits. However, thou shalt rock your selfies early and often, accept compliments without putting yourself down, and enjoy celebrating the fabulousness that is you.

    Did I leave something out? Send me your feedback here.

  • Intel to shutter its app store
    The chipmaker plans to shut down its AppUp store, a remnant of the short-lived Netbook era.
  • We Heart Local App Helps B.C. Support Province's Farmers
    B.C. farmers are making it easier than ever to shop local with the launch of a new app.

    We Heart Local, a free smartphone app from the BC Dairy Association and Buy Local. Eat Natural., helps you find grocery stores, restaurants, food trucks, and boutiques that carry B.C. products.

    “The We ♥ Local app connects you to all the awesome flavours of BC’s local food community – anytime, anywhere,” says the BC Dairy Association’s website. “Like having a local farmers’ market in your pocket, you can browse local recipes, discover what’s in season, and find businesses that offer locally produced products anywhere in BC.”

    There are various qualifications that an establishment must pass in order to be part of We Heart Local, including having at least five local menu items for restaurants and at least 10 per cent local produce for supermarkets.

    “We know that consumers are very enthusiastic about local food,” Reg Ens, executive director of the B.C. Agriculture Council, told The Vancouver Sun. “This is more of a demand-pull exercise that will show our producers where opportunities to sell more of their products are, especially when people start to use the app.”

    It can be downloaded through the iTunes app store.

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  • California Weighs Outlawing Warrantless Drone Surveillance
    By Sharon Bernstein
    SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan 29 (Reuters) – Using drones to spy on Californians without a warrant could soon be outlawed under a bill making its way through the state legislature, tapping into public concern about unwarranted government intrusion into private lives.
    The bill, which passed the state assembly 59-5 on Wednesday with bipartisan support, would require police, fire and other investigative agencies to obtain a judge’s approval before using a drone to collect information about ordinary citizens.
    The measure comes even as California tries to entice companies to make and develop unmanned aircraft in the most populous U.S. state, where unemployment still lags the rest of the nation.
    “While we as a legislature and as a state try to attract the jobs in aviation, we also have to balance the growing concern about unmanned vehicles,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican Jeff Gorell, told Reuters.
    A Navy Reserve commander who served for about a year in Afghanistan, Gorell said he has relied on intelligence information from drones, and understands what they can do, for good or ill.
    “The drones can loiter for long periods of time with stealth-like capacity over homes or businesses or public areas,” said the assemblyman, who represents a suburb north of Los Angeles.
    He said he was concerned about the scope of intrusion that drones might enable, citing the possibility that public agencies could be tempted to use the heat-seeking capabilities of drones to locate – and ultimately fine – homeowners who use their fireplaces on smoggy days when open flames are prohibited by air quality regulations.
    His bill, Gorell said, would require a government agency to disclose plans to undertake that kind of surveillance. The bill would also make it illegal to outfit a drone with a weapon, or to use it as one.
    Furthermore, the law would require law enforcement agencies to discard any data they gather after six months, unless it is needed for an ongoing investigation.
    Law enforcement agencies would be allowed to use drones without warrants in some circumstances, however, including law enforcement emergencies such as a hostage situation, certain pursuits and while fighting fires.
    Police could also use them without a warrant to search for illegal marijuana farms hidden in some California forests, Gorell said. The bill must still be approved by the California Senate and signed by Governor Jerry Brown. (Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills)
  • Two-month deadline for in-app fees
    Creators of mobile phone apps that sell in-app purchases are being given two months to comply with new guidelines issued by the Office of Fair Trading.
  • VIDEO: Reading the web in virtual reality
    BBC project brings web access to virtual reality worlds
  • Facebook's Plan For Artificial Intelligence: Transcribe Your Calls, Decipher Your Photos
    On Facebook’s earnings call Wednesday afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg offered a peek at the social network’s long-term plans for artificial intelligence. And just as we explained in November, Facebook hopes AI will help it more thoroughly understand the meaning of everything you share, from gauging your mood by the words in your status update, to picking out a Coke can in your photos.

    Facebook has been working to expand its artificial intelligence research lab, and last month appointed a renowned researcher with expertise in deep learning to oversee it. Deep learning is a sub-field within AI that focuses on training computers to make sense of the many messy, undefined and irregular types of data we humans generate, such as when we speak, write, photograph or film. (Teaching a computer to recognize a cat, for example, turns out to be an extremely difficult problem.)

    So what would Facebook do with deep learning capabilities? Get to know you much, much better by more effectively analyzing every item you share, according to Zuckerberg’s clues.

    “The goal really is just to try to understand how everything on Facebook is connected by understanding what the posts that people write mean and the content that’s in the photos and videos that people are sharing,” Zuckerberg explained to analysts and investors on the call. “The real value will be if we can understand the meaning of all the content that people are sharing, we can provide much more relevant experiences in everything we do.”

    Let’s try to unpack some of those generalities. In a sense, you can imagine a deep learning-enhanced Facebook as a jealous ex who stalks and overanalyzes your every online move. Instead of merely knowing you’d shared a photo, Facebook might be able to figure out that the snapshot showed a beach, along with a picture of your ex-boyfriend and that you two were smiling. When, a few days later, you post a status update, Facebook could perhaps analyze your phrasing to guess that you’re lonely and depressed. And before long, you might be seeing ads for dating sites, antidepressants and funny films.

    Zuckerberg also mentioned that AI could be used to transcribe the voice clips people share in Messenger, so people could receive them more easily.

    He acknowledged that these are “pretty big tasks in AI” that Facebook’s teams are working on, and noted it could be years before they’re fully formed. Within the next three years, Facebook will be focused on “building new experiences for sharing,” Zuckerberg said. Five years from now, he predicted, we should see Facebook’s AI work reshaping our experience.

  • A Forward-Looking Trade Agenda for the Digital Economy
    The world now invests nearly $4 trillion a year on information and communications technologies. This is propelling rapid evolution in the global economy, transforming everything from the way manufacturers manage their supply chains and retailers serve their customers, to the way doctors provide healthcare and police monitor crime statistics to improve public safety.


  • MTV Figures Out The Rules Of Snapchatting A Crush
    Want to text your crush? WAIT! You should Snapchat them first.

    MTV hosted a panel of Millennials to try to understand Snapchat and discovered that the hip, new app is best used as a way to start texting with someone you want to make out with.

    We distilled MTV’s advice into a few crucial points:

    • The No. 1 rule of “Snapchat-iquette,” according to MTV is “Snapchat your crush first, text later. A group Snapchat is often an ice-breaker to one-on-one Snapchats, which are icebreakers to texting (where more ‘real’ conversation happens).”
    • Snapchat selfies are great, but they need to be switched up depending on who you’re sending to. Your best friend deserves a goofy one, while your crush needs a little extra thought, according to MTV’s panel. One 17-year-old named Kayla told MTV she would spend eight minutes getting ready send a Snap to her now-boyfriend.
    • No more than five Snaps a day, the MTV Millennials say.
    • And don’t open that Snap right away. “Definitely important if it’s your crush,” MTV says. We know you don’t want to seem too eager, right?

    Of course there are other rules, like not Snapping a ton of food pics, being careful about what you screenshot and finding the appropriate length of time for your Snap. But that’s more of a 200 level class.

  • Resurrect Shadow Detail In Your Photographs With the App InstaFlash

    Are the shadows in many of your images so dark it’s hard to see detail in them? Would you like to see more detail in shadows without making highlights overly bright? Who doesn’t have this problem? There’s a quick and easy cure. Use InstaFlash to bring shadow detail out into the open.

    InstaFlash simulates camera flash with software. InstaFlash isn’t a true camera flash. It won’t add more light to a scene and it won’t change the quality and position of shadows and highlights. (Nor will it blind your subjects.) Often, this is an advantage. It will make your images look more strongly illuminated, by making shadows lighter and revealing more of the details in them while affecting highlights very little or not at all.

    InstaFlash has its limits. It can’t invent detail where there is no detail; it can only enhance existing detail. InstaFlash isn’t an HDR app that blends the best detail from multiple exposures. Arguably, using an HDR app is the optimal way to solve this problem. But if you didn’t or couldn’t use an HDR app, InstaFlash can make many images look like you did. It may even do so without producing the other artifacts (haloing, noise, saturation shifts) that are so characteristic of many HDR apps.

    Of all the flash simulation apps, InstaFlash can produce the strongest results and unlike many of its competitors it generates results that are surprisingly free of digital artifacts, like haloing. Instead of tapping buttons for set amounts, InstaFlash’s interface uses a slider that allows you to precisely set its effects. InstaFlash offers additional image adjustments that are especially useful for compensating for other image qualities that have been adversely affected by lightening shadows, like Contrast and Saturation — so you won’t need to adjust InstaFlash’s results in another app to finish. One glaring omission is a brightness slider. Or is it? It’s equivalent can be found by unlocking the additional Pro features, which are an in-app purchase.

    Tools like Highlights, Light EQ, Exposure, Fill Light, Soft Light, and Tone EQ, Vignette, and Orton demonstrate this app’s concentration on and robust feature set for adjusting luminosity, yet it still offers additional tools for adjusting color (White Balance, Saturation, Vibrance, Color EQ, Split Toning, Color Splash) and detail (Sharpness, Denoise, Clarity, Focus, Skin Tone). InstaFlash’s toolset is so robust, you might be able to make all the adjustments you need to an image with this one app. And, InstaFlash complements other apps beautifully.

    Sure, you can find other apps that perform the same function, like iFlashReady, Flash, Photo Flash, Flash Hero, but only CameraFD can compete with InstaFlash’s results and then only with lesser challenges. InstaFlash is the best app to use to solve an essential image adjustment, getting great shadow detail.


    1 Original


    2 Shadows adjusted minimally


    3 Maximum lightening adjustment


    4 Shadows and highlights adjusted with Pro features


    5 Lacking detail only noise will be revealed

    Follow John Paul Caponigro on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter.

    John Paul Caponigro is an environmental artist and author, who leads workshops, seminars, and lectures internationally. Learn more at www.johnpaulcaponigro.com.

  • Who Knew Interstellar War Could Look This Amazing?
    In the wee hours of Monday morning, an immense fight erupted over a space station. Lasers fired, vessels were obliterated and thousands upon thousands of dollars were lost. The melee took place in a simulated universe online, and a late rent payment triggered the whole thing.

    The battle unfolded in the massive multiplayer game “EVE Online.” According to PCGamesN, a coalition known as the Pandemic Legion had been paying in-game currency to use the station and the sector it was located in as a sort of base camp. But when their payment didn’t go through on time, rival coalition RUS promptly claimed the space station as its own.

    The fight that resulted escalated into the largest battle in the game’s 10-year history, destroying an estimated $200,000 worth of equipment that took months of gameplay to build, according to Fox News.

    Kids, this is why you should always pay your bills promptly.

    While details of the battle — and the larger war that it’s a part of — are so complex they look like gibberish to non-EVE players, it’s easy to see that this battle, however devastating it must have been for those involved, was absolutely gorgeous to look at.

    Images of the epic clash were posted on Imgur. Check a few of them out, below.

    This might put some of these other pictures in perspective. See those red and orange dots? Those are individual players.

    The Battle of B-R5RB: Eve Online

    $116,000+ worth of ships lost so far today in EVE Online, battle continues to rage on as of posting this.

    And for those of you who want to see those photos in action, here’s gameplay footage from the battle.

  • Giveaway: CM4 Slite case for iPhone 5c
    By now, those who got an iPhone 5c over the holidays might be considering getting a case to keep it safe if they haven’t done so already. There are plenty to choose from, but before deciding, take a look at the Slite Card Cases from CM4. MacNN has three to give away to our readers. Read on to find out more about this case and enter to win, you just might save yourself $30.


  • Those Ads You Hate Are Making Facebook A Lot Of Money

    NEW YORK (AP) — Mobile advertising accounted for more than half of Facebook’s total ad revenue in the final quarter of last year, a sign that the social network born a decade ago in the desktop computer era is succeeding in its goal of being “mobile first.”

    Facebook’s earnings and revenue handily surpassed Wall Street’s expectations for the third quarter in a row as it further expands the number of users and the amount of money it makes on mobile ads.

    “If 2012 was the year where we turned our core product into a mobile product, then 2013 was the year we where we turned our business into a mobile business,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a conference call with analysts. “I expect 2014 will be the year where we begin to deliver new and engaging types of mobile experiences.”

    Facebook Inc. said Wednesday that it earned $523 million, or 20 cents per share, in the October-December quarter. That’s up from $64 million, or 3 cents per share, a year earlier. Adjusted earnings were $780 million, or 31 cents per share, in the latest quarter, 4 cents ahead of analysts’ estimates.

    Revenue grew 63 percent to $2.59 billion, from $1.59 billion. Analysts, on average, had expected revenue of $2.35 billion, according to FactSet.

    Facebook’s stock soared 12 percent in extended trading after the results came out.

    Facebook Inc., which turns 10 years old next week, had 1.23 billion monthly users worldwide at the end of 2013. Of those, 757 million signed in at least once a day, up 22 percent from a year earlier.

    Monthly mobile users stood at 945 million, up 39 percent. Daily mobile users grew 49 percent to 556 million.

    Fifty-three percent of Facebook’s ad revenue came from mobile during the quarter, up from 49 percent in the third quarter.

    Facebook continues to grow its share of the worldwide digital advertising and within that, mobile advertising market. It reaped nearly 6 percent of the world’s digital ad revenue in 2013, up from 4 percent in 2012, according to research firm eMarketer. Online search leader Google, meanwhile, accounted for a 32 percent share of the market in 2013.

    When it comes to mobile ad spending, Facebook accounted for an 18 percent share of the total amount companies spent in 2013, according to eMarketer. That’s up from 5 percent a year earlier.

    Facebook’s stock jumped $6.41 to $59.94 in extended trading. The stock had closed the regular trading session down $1.61, or 3 percent, at $53.53 before the earnings announcement.

    Through Wednesday’s close, the stock had gained 51 percent in the past six months, far more than the 6.4 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which the Menlo Park, Calif., company recently joined.

  • Ron Perlman Cast In Amazon's New TV Project, 'Hand Of God'
    Ron Perlman is leaving his biker days behind.

    Perlman, who formerly played Clay on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy,” is now headed to Amazon Studio’s latest project, according to Deadline.

    Plans are being finalized to begin filming the pilot for “Hand of God” for Amazon. Deadline reports that the series follows a powerful Judge (Perlman), whose personal life is anything but lawful, through a spiritual renaissance. (Read: heavenly visions and hearing voices via his sickly son.)

    The pilot will be directed by Marc Forster (“World War Z”), making “Hand of God” his first TV project.

  • Google Is Selling Motorola Unit For $3 Billion
    (Reuters) – Lenovo Group said on Wednesday it agreed to buy Google Inc’s Motorola handset division for $2.91 billion, in what is China’s largest-ever tech deal as Lenovo buys its way into a heavily competitive U.S. handset market dominated by Apple Inc.

    It is Lenovo’s second major deal on U.S. soil in a week as the Chinese electronics company angles to get a foothold in major global computing markets. Lenovo last week said it would buy IBM’s low-end server business for $2.3 billion.

    The deal ends Google’s short-lived foray into making consumer mobile devices and marks a pullback from its largest-ever acquisition. Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola in 2012. Under this deal the search giant will keep the majority of Motorola’s mobile patents, considered its prize assets.

    Shares of Google climbed 2.6 percent to about $1,136 in after-hours trading. Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page said that Google would be best served by focusing on smartphone software rather than devices.

    Reuters reported the deal earlier on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the deal.

    The purchase will give Lenovo a beach-head to compete against Apple and Samsung Electronics as well as increasingly aggressive Chinese smartphone makers in the highly lucrative U.S. arena.

    In 2005, Lenovo muscled its way into what was then the world’s largest PC market by buying IBM’s personal computer division. It has powered its way up the rankings of the global smartphone industry primarily through sales on its home turf but had considered a U.S. sortie of late.

    “Using Motorola, just as Lenovo used the IBM ThinkPad brand, to gain quick credibility and access to desirable markets and build critical mass makes a lot of sense,” said Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett.

    “But Motorola has not been shooting the lights out with designs or sales volumes in smartphones. So the value is simply in brand recognition to achieve market recognition faster – and to expand the design and marketing team with talent experienced at U.S. and Western markets.”


    The deal is subject to approval by both U.S. and Chinese authorities.

    Chinese companies faced the most scrutiny over their U.S. acquisitions in 2012, according to a report issued in December by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Analysts say political issues could cloud the Motorola sale, especially with Lenovo trying to seal the IBM deal at the same time.

    Lenovo will receive over 2,000 “patent assets” as part of the transaction, the companies said, but it remains unknown which will change hands and whether they might be subject to extra scrutiny from regulators.

    For Motorola, Lenovo will pay $660 million in cash, $750 million in Lenovo ordinary shares, and another $1.5 billion in the form of a three-year promissory note, Lenovo and Google said in a joint statement.

    “The acquisition of such an iconic brand, innovative product portfolio and incredibly talented global team will immediately make Lenovo a strong global competitor in smartphones,” Lenovo’s chief executive, Yang Yuanqing, said in a statement.

    In two years, China’s three biggest handset makers – Huawei, ZTE Corp and Lenovo – have vaulted into the top ranks of global smartphone charts, helped in part by their huge domestic market and spurring talk of a new force in the smartphone wars.

    Although Huawei and ZTE have made some inroads in the United States, where the Chinese companies continue to grapple with low brand awareness, perceptions of inferior quality and even security concerns. Lenovo has until now stayed out of the U.S. market.

    In the third quarter of last year, ZTE and Huawei accounted for 5.7 percent and 3 percent of all phones sold in the United States, respectively, trailing Apple’s 36.2 percent and Samsung’s 32.5 percent, according to research house IDC.

    Huawei declined to comment on the Lenovo deal on Wednesday. ZTE did not immediately offer comment.

    Globally, Lenovo ranked fifth in 2013 with a 4.5 percent market share, according to IDC. That’s up from 3.3 percent in 2012 and virtually nil a couple years before that.


    For Google, the sale represented a solution to a persistent headache as Motorola’s losses widened in recent quarters. It also showed Google is willing to step back from the handset arena and throw its weight behind device makers that propagate its Android software, Kantar analyst Carolina Milanesi said.

    “It all points to Google thinking in the short run that they’re better off betting on Samsung and keeping them close,” Milanesi said. “And of course now they’re enabling a second strong runner (Lenovo) in the Android ecosystem.”

    In 2012, analysts saw Google’s Motorola acquisition as primarily a way to secure the company’s trove of patents amid the technology sector’s increasing legal battles – rather than a bona fide push into the handset business.

    Many industry observers were surprised that Google did not immediately sell the hardware division after the deal closed, choosing instead to operate Motorola a separate company.

    It did sell Motorola’s cable television set-top box business to Arris Group Inc for $2.35 billion at the end of 2012.

    In a blog post on Wednesday, Google’s Page highlighted the strategic choice in selling the Motorola handset business.

    “The smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices,” Page wrote. “This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere.”

    Lenovo is being advised by Credit Suisse Group while Lazard Ltd advised Google on the transaction.

    (Writing by Edwin Chan; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)

  • 'Collect The Reasons' Site Reminds Us Of How Wonderful Life Can Be
    A powerful website is reminding us of the wonder, love and beauty that exists in the world at all times.

    As its name suggests, “Collect the Reasons” — the brainchild of AGW, a Latvian digital agency — seeks to gather the many, many reasons that make life worth living: whether that’s seeking adventure or sharing special moments with those you love, eating a great meal or watching the sun rise.

    “CollectTheReasons.org is a site where we remember some of the reasons why we are here — on this beautiful planet,” the website reads. “Maybe it will help someone who had a tough day, or maybe make someone smile or laugh.”

    Here are a handful of the entries, posted from people all over the globe:

    (Story continues below)

    Andris Gangis, a spokesman for AGW, told The Huffington Post that though “Collect the Reasons” was launched a year ago, the site really took off a few days ago after it was discovered by users on Reddit.

    “In the last 3 days, the site has been visited about 20,000 times,” Gangis said in an email Tuesday, adding that he’s been “thrilled” by all the attention. “Hopefully we will get more people to write good, inspiring reasons and make world a bit happier.”

    Though it wasn’t originally conceived as a suicide prevention campaign, “Collect the Reasons” has been lauded for championing life and for giving hope to those who may need it.

    “As anyone who’s read YouTube comments knows, online anonymity often facilitates humanity at its worst. But the silver lining is that it lets us speak honestly about the skeletons in our closets. And even when our names aren’t attached to what we say, we feel less alone,” the Daily Dot wrote about the website.

    To add your reason to the growing list, go to “Collect The Reasons” here.

    Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • Eric Holder Addresses Surveillance Concerns, IRS Probe
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Eric Holder sought to strike a conciliatory tone on the subject of surveillance Wednesday, defending the Obama administration’s methods to Congress at the same time he insisted that the government will safeguard Americans’ privacy.

    At the same time, he rebuffed requests by several Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who asked him to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of tea party and other conservative groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status. Opening a three-hour hearing, committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the government needs to set appropriate limits on when and how it can collect vast amounts of data on Americans.

    Leahy focused on the massive government collection of Americans’ phone data, an initiative disclosed by former National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Holder said the administration will gather a wide range of views about the controversial program before making any changes in it.

    Leahy is sponsoring a bipartisan reform bill to rein in the NSA’s bulk collection, analysis, and storage of the public’s electronic communications, a measure that goes far beyond anything the administration wants.

    In the IRS probe, no criminal charges have been brought and Republicans say the investigation’s credibility been destroyed because a career government lawyer looking into the matter was a donor to President Barack Obama’s campaign.

    Holder told Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that the criminal probe is ongoing and that there is no basis to conclude that appointment of a special prosecutor is necessary.

    “To me it’s a no-brainer” and someone from outside the Justice Department should oversee the probe, said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

    On another surveillance issue, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said the Justice Department had not gone far enough in allowing the Internet’s leading companies to disclose a limited amount of data on national security orders the companies have received.

    The action was only a first step and there is a need for greater transparency, said Holder. He said the goal is a system that keeps the American people safe but provides a degree of assurance on the privacy front.

Mobile Technology News, January 29, 2014

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.

  • AMD's first ARM processor is 8-core and 64-bit
    AMD is turning to the ARM design for a new series of chips, an unmistakable sign that the heyday of “x86” chips is over.
  • Obama proposes creation of six new tech manufacturing hubs
    President uses his State of the Union address to call for an expanded high-tech manufacturing base in the US.
  • State Of The Union Text (FULL SPEECH)
    President Barack Obama gave his 2014 State of the Union address on Tuesday. Obama delivered the speech in front of a joint session of Congress.

    Below, the full text of Obama’s speech as prepared for delivery:

    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

    Today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.

    An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup, and did her part to add to the more than eight million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years.

    An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world, and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.

    A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history. A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades, and give thanks for being home from a war that, after twelve long years, is finally coming to an end.

    Tonight, this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: it is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong.

    Here are the results of your efforts: The lowest unemployment rate in over five years. A rebounding housing market. A manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. More oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world – the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years. Our deficits – cut by more than half. And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.

    That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.

    The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress. For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government. It’s an important debate – one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy – when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States – then we are not doing right by the American people.

    As President, I’m committed to making Washington work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here. I believe most of you are, too. Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans, this Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way. But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.

    In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together. Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want – for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all – the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.

    Let’s face it: that belief has suffered some serious blows. Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.

    Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

    Our job is to reverse these trends. It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.

    As usual, our First Lady sets a good example. Michelle’s Let’s Move partnership with schools, businesses, and local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years – an achievement that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come. The Joining Forces alliance that Michelle and Jill Biden launched has already encouraged employers to hire or train nearly 400,000 veterans and military spouses. Taking a page from that playbook, the White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit where already, 150 universities, businesses, and nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education – and help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus. Across the country, we’re partnering with mayors, governors, and state legislatures on issues from homelessness to marriage equality.

    The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments, and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth, but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That’s what drew our forebears here. It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker; how the son of a barkeeper is Speaker of the House; how the son of a single mom can be President of the greatest nation on Earth.

    Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.

    We know where to start: the best measure of opportunity is access to a good job. With the economy picking up speed, companies say they intend to hire more people this year. And over half of big manufacturers say they’re thinking of insourcing jobs from abroad.

    So let’s make that decision easier for more companies. Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equation. Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs here at home.

    Moreover, we can take the money we save with this transition to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commutes – because in today’s global economy, first-class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure. We’ll need Congress to protect more than three million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer. But I will act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible.

    We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. My administration has launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh and Youngstown, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies. Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create. So get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work.

    Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America. Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when ninety-eight percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.” China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines. Neither should we.

    We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel. And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.

    Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.

    One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. My administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and job growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, and our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations.

    It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Every four minutes, another American home or business goes solar; every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it, so that we can invest more in fuels of the future that do.

    And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months, I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

    Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.

    Finally, if we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: when people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.

    The ideas I’ve outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs. But in this rapidly-changing economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.

    The good news is, we know how to do it. Two years ago, as the auto industry came roaring back, Andra Rush opened up a manufacturing firm in Detroit. She knew that Ford needed parts for the best-selling truck in America, and she knew how to make them. She just needed the workforce. So she dialed up what we call an American Job Center – places where folks can walk in to get the help or training they need to find a new job, or better job. She was flooded with new workers. And today, Detroit Manufacturing Systems has more than 700 employees.

    What Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer – and every job seeker. So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

    I’m also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy. But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people.

    Let me tell you why.

    Misty DeMars is a mother of two young boys. She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager. She put herself through college. She’d never collected unemployment benefits. In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home. A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved. Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter – the kind I get every day. “We are the face of the unemployment crisis,” she wrote. “I am not dependent on the government…Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society…care about our neighbors…I am confident that in time I will find a job…I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love. Please give us this chance.”

    Congress, give these hardworking, responsible Americans that chance. They need our help, but more important, this country needs them in the game. That’s why I’ve been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at that new job and new chance to support their families; this week, many will come to the White House to make that commitment real. Tonight, I ask every business leader in America to join us and to do the same – because we are stronger when America fields a full team.

    Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education.

    Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age nine. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates – through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors – from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall.

    Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it’s worth it – and it’s working.

    The problem is we’re still not reaching enough kids, and we’re not reaching them in time. That has to change.

    Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every four year-old. As a parent as well as a President, I repeat that request tonight. But in the meantime, thirty states have raised pre-k funding on their own. They know we can’t wait. So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year, we’ll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K they need.

    Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight, I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and twenty million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit.

    We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information, and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle-class kid is priced out of a college education. We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to ten percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt. And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.

    The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete – and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise – unless we do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.

    Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.

    Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs – but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty.

    In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs. Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here tonight with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. Only now he makes more of it: John just gave his employees a raise, to ten bucks an hour – a decision that eased their financial stress and boosted their morale.

    Tonight, I ask more of America’s business leaders to follow John’s lead and do what you can to raise your employees’ wages. To every mayor, governor, and state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on. And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example. Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour – because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty.

    Of course, to reach millions more, Congress needs to get on board. Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn’t involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.

    There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. So let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, and help more Americans get ahead.

    Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today, most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401ks. That’s why, tomorrow, I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg. MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little to nothing for middle-class Americans. Offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everyone in this chamber can. And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations of Americans.

    One last point on financial security. For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the process of fixing that.

    A pre-existing condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician assistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn’t get health insurance. But on January 1st, she got covered. On January 3rd, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6th, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would’ve meant bankruptcy.

    That’s what health insurance reform is all about – the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything.

    Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than three million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans.

    More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage.

    And here’s another number: zero. Because of this law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain, or cancer. No woman can ever be charged more just because she’s a woman. And we did all this while adding years to Medicare’s finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat, and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.

    Now, I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. But I know that the American people aren’t interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice – tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. But let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda. The first forty were plenty. We got it. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.

    And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight. Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country, but he’s like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families. “They are our friends and neighbors,” he said. “They are people we shop and go to church with…farmers out on the tractors…grocery clerks…they are people who go to work every morning praying they don’t get sick. No one deserves to live that way.”

    Steve’s right. That’s why, tonight, I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It will give her some peace of mind – plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you.

    After all, that’s the spirit that has always moved this nation forward. It’s the spirit of citizenship – the recognition that through hard work and responsibility, we can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American family to make sure the next generation can pursue its dreams as well.

    Citizenship means standing up for everyone’s right to vote. Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened. But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it; and the bipartisan commission I appointed last year has offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote. Let’s support these efforts. It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.

    Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook.

    Citizenship demands a sense of common cause; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities. And I know this chamber agrees that few Americans give more to their country than our diplomats and the men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

    Tonight, because of the extraordinary troops and civilians who risk and lay down their lives to keep us free, the United States is more secure. When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, all our troops are out of Iraq. More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan. With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over.

    After 2014, we will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future. If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces, and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al Qaeda. For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country.

    The fact is, that danger remains. While we have put al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved, as al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses, and combat new threats like cyberattacks. And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform, and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions.

    We have to remain vigilant. But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our military alone. As Commander-in-Chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it’s truly necessary; nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us – large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.

    So, even as we aggressively pursue terrorist networks – through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners – America must move off a permanent war footing. That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of drones – for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence. That’s why, working with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs – because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that the privacy of ordinary people is not being violated. And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay – because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action, but by remaining true to our Constitutional ideals, and setting an example for the rest of the world.

    You see, in a world of complex threats, our security and leadership depends on all elements of our power – including strong and principled diplomacy. American diplomacy has rallied more than fifty countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles. American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear. As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the State of Israel – a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.

    And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program – and rolled parts of that program back – for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium. It is not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify, every day, that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    These negotiations will be difficult. They may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away. But these negotiations do not rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today.

    The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed. If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions, and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance, then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.

    Finally, let’s remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats, but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe – to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want. And no one is better positioned to take advantage of those opportunities than America.

    Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and have a say in their country’s future. Across Africa, we’re bringing together businesses and governments to double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty. In the Americas, we are building new ties of commerce, but we’re also expanding cultural and educational exchanges among young people. And we will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity, and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster – as we did in the Philippines, when our Marines and civilians rushed to aid those battered by a typhoon, and were greeted with words like, “We will never forget your kindness” and “God bless America!”

    We do these things because they help promote our long-term security. And we do them because we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation. And next week, the world will see one expression of that commitment – when Team USA marches the red, white, and blue into the Olympic Stadium – and brings home the gold.

    My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might – but because of the ideals we stand for, and the burdens we bear to advance them.

    No one knows this better than those who serve in uniform. As this time of war draws to a close, a new generation of heroes returns to civilian life. We’ll keep slashing that backlog so our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned, and our wounded warriors receive the health care – including the mental health care – that they need. We’ll keep working to help all our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs here at home. And we all continue to join forces to honor and support our remarkable military families.

    Let me tell you about one of those families I’ve come to know.

    I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program – a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.

    A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.

    For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.

    Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again – and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

    “My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”

    Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.

    My fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged. But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress – to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice, and fairness, and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen. The America we want for our kids – a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us – none of it is easy. But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow – I know it’s within our reach.

    Believe it.

    God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

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    Could this be the end for Apple’s iconic music player?
  • Snowden in Berlin

    I attended a two-day conference in Berlin, “As Darkness Falls: Theory and Practice of Self Empowerment in the Age of Digital Control.” It threw me into complete distress.

    Sometimes it’s entirely necessary to speak behind closed doors. I remembered the women’s activists international meetings, where activists from all over the world told each other of personal experiences of killings torture and rape. How we would share sorrow and empathize, befriend formal enemies, and make exit strategies, then cry in a final catharsis.

    But here in Berlin, after the angry speeches of hackers, cypherpunks, activists, philosophers of communication, coders, I could feel my Internet optimism crumbling. The Snowden case placed a dark, troubled perspective on our post-Internet era.

    It’s covert surveillance and violated privacy, versus freedom of speech and the public visibility of citizens. As an addicted activist and internet user, I was cordially warned against using almost every service I’ve already been cheerfully using for years.


    How to stay connected and publicly visible, without being controlled, used and abused by the metadata corporations and the secret police scanners? Sure, some computer-security experts know all about these issues, but my friends and feminist activists are still digital beginners! I had to stare in dread into the screen of my own beloved laptop, as my Facebook profile suddenly erupted with unsolicited posts thrown my way by sinister algorithms I’ve never heard of. During the event, my Mac Air suddenly crashed, then came back to life displaying the date: January 1, 2012. Wasn’t that year supposed to be the end of the world? Maybe the year 2012 was just the Armageddon for the free and open Internet, and now it’s already 2014!

    Is this big-data Internet of 2014 — the new post-digital, post-Internet — an oppressive system entirely typical of failed and managed democracies? Will the post-Internet become the main antisocial weapon for a future neo feudal totalitarian regime. Or is there is a way of saving the precious democratic values and structures of civil rights, so often casually routed-around by the Internet? Did we “empower the individual” so much that our states and nations failed, and now we’re nakedly exposed to the secret police and the machines of the globalized ultra-rich?

    Dystopias are always more convincing than utopias, skepticism has stronger words than optimism, while Berlin in the winter of 2014 is a place where daylight is precious and rare in the snow storms, with temperatures below freezing.

    Nevertheless, cyber-dissidents, political refugees flock here to Berlin to free their floating anxiety, exchange their encrypted codes, help each the intricacies of national laws and to name-check their fellows in prison.

    What’s more, Edward Snowden is now appearing on German TV, having become a genuine political figure rather than a dramatic refugee. Snowden remarks that somebody may well kill him for one reason or another, but he has no more big bundles of data to reveal to the public. Everything is already public in the hands of the press politicians and citizens and, well, the post-Internet.

    It’s never easy to become a dissident or a defector. Some cyber-activists and hackers have already cracked up and even commit suicide from the pressures of political activism and legal countermeasures. Edward Snowden seems to be a more solid and inspiring figure than his predecessors and colleagues. Calm and precise as usual, Snowden conveys the message that it is now up to everybody else in the world besides him to do something about all this trouble he showed us.

    What can we practically do, besides trembling and shivering in folk-paranoia? Are we empowered enough, maybe too empowered and not well-enough organized? Who are “we,” who are our allies, and what is the likely or desirable outcome of this new, global-scale struggle in the long history of mankind? Are we all supposed to become Anonymous activists, smiling at the surveillance cameras in the streets while we strike back from our bedrooms and garages? Or are we are supposed to abandon the keyboards, flood into the roads, streets, and squares, occupy the banks, trade Bitcoins for bread?

    Resistance methods are not a recipe for civil law and order. Reading history and theories is never enough, while the world has more than its share of stupid, dangerous, egocentric martyrs. Describing political reality is half way to solving a political problem. The post-Internet is a potentially collective intelligence, but it’s also collective stupidity. It is not a machine entirely separate from us, and has always been a mirror that shows us to ourselves in real-time.

    After the darkness fell on my Darkness event, I visited the Stasi museum in Berlin. This “museum” is simply the re-purposed headquarters of the Stasi secret police, the administrative center of analogue espionage and surveillance during the Cold War.

    Our modern digital spies should be ashamed by the perfection of this system, where everybody was spying on everybody all the time, and even the political prisoners in the secret prisons were forced to inform against their own jailers. Our spies are lazy and slipshod digital button-pushers, mere code jockeys, while the Stasi files were manually written and preserved in big stacks of brown sacks.

    When the Berlin Wall fell, the Stasi made a half-serious attempt to destroy its own files and auto-delete itself, but East Germany didn’t have enough shredders for that job. I suspect that the monk-like clerks of oppression within the Stasi didn’t want to delete their own beloved files: they were spies of the spies! Even today, evidence emerges day by day, as restorers, often using computers, re-compose the hand-torn paper files.

    The Stasi devoted an amazing amount of time and energy to spying on itself. For these Chekist spies, their major spiritual crime was their own irrepressible desire to defect to the West, where there was no Stasi; in much the same way that Edward Snowden is probably the worst problem that the NSA has ever had.

    When the Berlin Wall fell, the Stasi did not fire a shot to defend themselves, even though their ranks were crammed with uniformed colonels, majors and generals. Most of them seemed to expect that they would go on with the same tiresome work, after a change of costume. It takes a real leap of imagination to realize that a useless way of life can simply be superseded and abandoned.

    We like to think that we move pretty fast in these days of the post-Internet, so maybe this twilight struggle of ours won’t last for forty years.

  • Apple updates online store, app with Valentine's Day promotions
    Taking a page from its own Christmas promotions, and coming on the heels of the asian stores’ Lunar New Year celebrations, the online Apple Store has “redecorated” somewhat in preparation for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. It has added love-themed taglines, red graphical images and a new “Top Valentine’s Gifts” section. The company also updated its Apple Store app for iOS to include the “Top Valentine’s Gifts” section.

  • Dianne Feinstein Claims No Evidence Proves Russia Helped Edward Snowden Steal U.S. Secrets
    By Mark Hosenball
    WASHINGTON Jan 28 (Reuters) – The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, said on Tuesday she has seen no evidence that Russian spies helped former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden steal U.S. eavesdropping secrets.
    The Democrat’s comments on the MSNBC TV channel contrast with statements by her Republican counterpart in the House of Representative Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers.
    Rogers suggested earlier this month that Russia had acquired influence over Snowden before he left his job as an NSA contractor and traveled to Hong Kong, where he leaked tens of thousands of classified documents describing U.S. and British eavesdropping operations.
    “I have no information to that effect. I’ve never seen anything to that effect. I’ve asked some questions since and nothing has been forthcoming,” Feinstein said.
    A senior U.S. official familiar with the matter said that he had seen no evidence Snowden had been recruited or influenced by Russia to acquire and leak U.S. eavesdropping secrets. Other U.S. security officials have privately offered similar assessments in recent weeks.
    Rogers said on television 10 days ago that Snowden had likely been collaborating with Russia before he fled there last year.
    “Let me just say this. I believe there’s a reason he ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB agent in Moscow,” Rogers said, referring to Russia’s intelligence service.
    Rogers described Snowden as a “thief who we believe had some help.”
    A Rogers’ spokesperson, Susan Phalen said on Tuesday that the House Intelligence Committee chairman stood by his earlier statement.
    Earlier this month, in what was described as an interview conducted by encrypted means from Moscow, the New Yorker website quoted Snowden as denying claims that he had earlier spied for Russia. (Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Alistair Bell and Lisa Shumaker)
  • When Apps Get a Bad Rap
    You know their names. The “apps” that kids love to use and parents are warned to fear: Ask.fm, Vine, Kik and Snapchat make it to the top of the list for their reputations as harbingers of porn and cyberbullying. In fact, at a recent workshop on “Youth and Technology” at our local high school, a tech expert advised us to go home and immediately remove or filter these offending apps from our kids’ phones because “nothing good ever happens on them.”

    I don’t know about you, but restricting my kids from something they are already using or doing, especially without solid evidence of nefarious behavior on their part, is a parenting strategy that hasn’t worked out particularly well for me. Since they really enjoy using some of these apps to socialize and keep in touch with their friends, his advice was sure to backfire. It would drive them further into the dark regions of cyberspace, to a place and under an alias I would never find.

    A recent study conducted by the computer security firm McAfee confirms my fears. It finds that 61% of teens feel confident that they know how to hide what they do online from parents and 71% of teens have actually done something to hide their online behavior.

    Clearly, I would have to find a different approach. So I turned to author, parent advocate and family internet safety advocate Sue Scheff for her advice. According to Sue, “Kids are more savvy than any filtering equipment or software; they’re going to get around it.” Her recommendation is to establish trust and communication early on.

    I decided to try communication.

    I asked my 15-year old about Ask.fm, the anonymous question and answer platform used regularly by lots of young people who love it for its anonymous nature. Ask.fm has received lots of media attention recently for its possible link to a handful of suicides. While this is certainly troubling, what I learned by talking to my daughter is that her school’s anti-tobacco club is considering using the site to answer kids questions about smoking and about the growing and concerning use of “e-cigs.” They plan to take advantage of the anonymous nature of the app to give kids a “safe” place to share information with their peers.

    We also talked about Snapchat, the app that has earned a reputation as a deliverer of pornographic videos that self-destruct after 10 seconds. Yet, as my daughter reminded me, this past Christmas, she and her sister shared some heartwarming moments with my 80-plus-year-old parents by exchanging short, funny videos with them. Snapchat’s ease of use appealed to my parents, who we couldn’t be with on Christmas, and it provided an intimacy that a telephone call or even a text message could not.

    That’s not to say that bad things don’t happen on these “apps.” But the point is, let’s not shoot the messenger because, sure as the dawn, another messenger is going to come along to take its place. So instead, let’s take Sue’s advice and start “communicating.” You know — that thing we used to do face-to-face.

    And then, set some ground rules. Not for our children, but for us. These three simple rules will keep kids safer than any filtering software or device:

    1. Know thy enemy. A good rule of thumb is to get to know the “apps” your kids are using. The first thing you’ll learn when signing up is that nearly all restrict membership to those who are at least 13 years of age. In addition, most also ban obscene, vulgar, and abusive chatter.

    2. Friend or follow your child. Presumably you know where your child goes to school and who their closest friends are, right? There is absolutely no reason not to know this same kind of information when kids are online. In fact, these “apps” and social media in general can be a parent’s best friend by revealing a wealth of information about whom they are interacting with and what they are talking about, so take advantage!

    3. Know their passwords. Make it a rule of thumb to know your child’s passwords. Sure, there may be some pushback on this, but if you pay the mobile phone bill, technically, that phone is yours and knowing how to access their account is a smart safety measure. It’s also a chance for you both learn how to make and manage safe and strong passwords.

    It’s App-solutely (excuse the pun) vital to know what your kids are up to, and who knows? You might just have a little fun too.

  • Scientists Capture Living Brain Cells Making Memories In Real-Time (VIDEO)
    Before they become part of our consciousness, memories aren’t much more than molecules. But how exactly do memories get stored in the brain?

    With the help of mice and some advanced imaging techniques, scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University in New York recently sought to answer that question. This short video illustrates how the brain makes memories on a molecular level.

    The team put fluorescent tags on messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules that code for beta-actin, a protein believed to be crucial for the formation of memories. As described in two studies published Jan. 24 in the journal Science, the team then stimulated neurons in the hippocampus — the part of the brain where memories are formed — and monitored a living brain cell.

    What did they see?

    Within 15 minutes, the mRNA molecules formed within the brain cell and traveled to its fingerlike projections, called dendrites, to synthesize the beta-actin protein. This protein strengthens connections between brain cells by altering the dendrites’ shape, according to the researchers.

    Check it all out in the video above, or watch the gif below.

  • Better Understanding of Fair Use, Tech Missing From Copyright Hearing
    When a Congressional committee hears from various witnesses Tuesday about the subject of copyright fair use, one of the more important details is who won’t be represented at the witness table: technology innovators.

    Fair use is one of many ways Congress has ensured appropriate balance in our copyright law. Copyright restricts both freedom of speech and competition in the short run — in the hope of promoting progress in science and arts in the long run. Fair use is an essential and flexible rule that ensures that socially desirable or transformative uses of copyrighted works can occur, even if they are unauthorized. As the Supreme Court recently pointed out, fair use helps reconcile copyright’s imposition on the First Amendment, and its burden on free-market competition more generally, by ensuring that “ the monopoly privileges that Congress has authorized… ultimately serve the public good.” Since video cassette recorders were introduced in the 1970s, the fair use doctrine has helped to ensure that new technology innovation that involves copying isn’t mistakenly lumped in with piracy.

    While Congress will hear from some individual artists and respected academics, these perspectives do not necessarily convey the extraordinary extent to which technology depends on fair use. To be fair, newspapers will also be represented at Tuesday’s hearing, but newspapers generally do not represent the cutting edge of technology.

    For example, it may be hard to believe, but 30 years ago last week the Supreme Court came one vote from labeling home video a “pirate” technology. Were it not for Justice Stevens’ foresight and the fair use doctrine, an entire industry and a generation of technological innovation would have been sacrificed on the altar of copyright protection. (Ironically, home video turned into Hollywood’s cash cow less than a decade after movie studios had attempted to strangle it in the crib.)

    The same fair use principle that saved home video has also served MP3 players, DVRs, smartphones and a considerable portion of modern Internet functionality, like cloud computing, that we depend upon today. In recent years, we’ve seen courts invoke fair use to validate a variety of transformative, socially valuable services, including online search engines, including image and book search; commercial-skipping and time-shifting with DVRs; and a service that compares students’ papers against a database for plagiarism (who, understandably, might not want to authorize use of their papers to prevent cheating).

    Of course, fair use benefits industries far beyond the technology sector. While fair use has always been recognized as protecting widely-enjoyed television programming like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and Saturday Night Live, its significance extends far beyond parody. Just in the last year, the fair use doctrine came to the aid of movie studios, a Broadway musical, a rock band and the NFL, all of whom faced baseless piracy accusations. Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris led to a lawsuit because the actor Owen Wilson quoted nine words from the author William Faulkner. (Yes, you read that right: nine words.) The musical Jersey Boys was sued for including seven seconds of a 1960s TV program. The NFL was sued because online footage from old football games showed brief glimpses of the original Baltimore Ravens logo — a logo that had been ruled to infringe copyright after the season was played. In each case, courts sided with the defendants and threw out the case on the basis of fair use. That such lawsuits were brought in the first place is a sad commentary on the state of our intellectual property system, but at least judges were able to resort to the fair use doctrine to reject the most absurd claims.

    As Congress continues what will undoubtedly be a long conversation about modernizing our nation’s copyright law, it should go without saying that a principle that prevents lawsuits over nine-word quotes, seven-second clips and fleeting glimpses of team logos should figure prominently in the conversation — particularly when that principle is also a cornerstone of modern Internet law. Not only does fair use serve extensive societal interests, it has been a commercial boon to the U.S. economy — something policymakers should be interested in protecting.

  • Alzheimer's Facebook Campaign Aims To Show Just How Terrifying It Is To Forget
    It’s impossible for someone who does not have Alzheimer’s to fully grasp just how confusing, frustrating, isolating and frightening having the disease can be. But a powerful Facebook campaign out of Holland is trying to bridge that gap of understanding.

    In November, Alzheimer Nederland, an organization dedicated to dementia research and the care and support of patients with the condition, launched a Facebook campaign that seeks to put people in the shoes of Alzheimer’s patients by simulating the effects of the disease.

    “The idea of the Facebook campaign is that people are tagged in a photo of a non-existent event,” explained N=5, the Dutch advertising company that worked on the campaign, on its website. “A photo will appear on your timeline of an event at which you can be seen, but that you know you weren’t at. In this…way people get to experience for themselves the confusion that Alzheimer’s patients face on a daily basis, and thus the impact that Alzheimer’s has.”

    As part of the campaign, unsuspecting Facebook users — a mix of local celebrities and people whose friends have secretly uploaded their photos via the campaign website — have had their images photoshopped into pictures of bogus “events” (all hosted on the Facebook pages of legitimate, participating organizations like the food festival Rollende Keukens). The targets are then tagged in the images.

    Alzheimer Nederlands’ Facebook campaign involved the photoshopping of social media users’ images onto pictures of bogus “events” that they had never been to.

    “How disorientating is this? Being tagged in a photo of an event where you see you’re really there, but which you never went to. So this is what Alzheimer’s patients feel like,” Jeroen van der Boom, a Dutch singer who was targeted by the campaign, said per the N=5 website.

    Though the Facebook campaign has been around for a few months, it seems to have only recently drummed up interest in the United States.

    This campaign “will stop you in your tracks,” Mashable wrote of the initiative.

    There’s no substitute for empathy,” Upworthy said.

    Watch the video above to learn more about Alzheimer Nederlands’ Facebook campaign.

  • The Creeping Threat That Should Worry Apple
    Apple needs to watch its back.

    Smartphones from lower-cost manufacturers are eating into the company’s worldwide market share, according to newly released figures from two market research firms.

    Apple’s market share in the last quarter of 2013 dropped to about 18 percent, down from about 21 percent in the same period the year before, according to IDC. Strategy Analytics also saw the Cupertino-based company lose share last year, down to 15.5 percent from 19.4 percent in 2012.

    On the other hand, the three companies that trail giants Apple and Samsung — Huawei, LG and Lenovo — all increased their share of the worldwide smartphone market last year. While Samsung and then Apple still lead the global market, the combined market share of Huawei, LG and Lenovo last year was just about a point behind Apple’s, according to IDC.

    A big reason: cost. In developed countries, a lot of the people who can afford smartphones already have them — as QZ’s Leo Mirani pointed out Tuesday. But much of the growth is now coming from — and will continue to come from — emerging markets like India and China, said Ryan Reith, the program director of IDC’s worldwide quarterly mobile phone tracker. Apple is certainly making aggressive moves in these countries, but lower cost alternatives to the iPhone are already abundant.

    “There is clearly now more competition coming from the second-tier smartphone brands,” Linda Sui, an analyst at Strategy Analytics, told Reuters. “Huawei, LG Electronics and Lenovo each grew their smartphone shipments around two times faster than the global industry average. Samsung and Apple will need to fight hard to hold off these and other hungry challengers during 2014.”

    Of course, the iPhone is an expensive, premium product that has high profit margins, and Apple has shown that its goal isn’t to create a phone that everyone in the world can afford. Still, investors are pressuring the company to continue to show growth, and emerging markets are a natural target.

    Forty-six percent of smartphones shipped worldwide in the third quarter of 2013 — the latest period for which figures are available — had an average selling price of $200 or less, said IDC’s Reith. That’s way cheaper than an iPhone, which according to IDC had a whopping $635 average selling price during that period.

    The iPhone 5C, the colorful, lower-cost iPhone that was released in September, isn’t actually that cheap, and reports indicate that it has not sold as well as Apple had hoped.

    “Apple doesn’t have a portfolio that plays toward that low-cost market,” Reith said.

    The latest market share figures come on the heels of earnings from Apple that disappointed investors. Even though Apple set a record by selling 51 million iPhones last quarter, that number fell short of analyst expectations. Growth of iPhone sales is flattening, leading some observers to wonder if the days of the product’s explosive growth are coming to an end. Apple’s stock was down 8 percent the day following the earnings call.

    Samsung, according to Reith, has a better chance of grabbing some of that low-cost market. Even though the average selling price of a Samsung phone in the third quarter of last year was $373, the company also makes a number of less expensive smartphones.

    “They’ve leveraging their brand awareness at the top to sell phones at the bottom,” Reith said of Samsung.

  • Coca-Cola Apologizes For 'Share A Coke' Promotion Deemed Homophobic
    For months corporate sponsors of the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympics have been warned that their support of the Games could bring about the fury of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists who are outraged by Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws.

    Among those companies is Coca-Cola, which, over the weekend, was slammed by the LGBT community for a new social media campaign related to the Olympics that allegedly prevented users from typing the word “gay” on a customizable Coke can, but allowed the use of the word “straight.”

    If a user typed the word “gay,” a message would reportedly appear that read, “Oops, let’s pretend you didn’t just try that.”

    In response to the massive push back against the social media campaign that was initiated by queer activists, Coca-Cola has released a formal apology addressing the promotion and subsequent backlash from the LGBT community.

    Posted on the company’s website, the apology reads:

    Our “Share A Coke” promotion, which is running in several markets around the globe, is intended to allow people to take the Coca-Cola script and replace it with their name on the can. Unfortunately, in South Africa, the digital version of the “Share a Coke” promotion did not limit the customization to individuals’ names. Specifically, the name and message auto-generator on our South Africa “Share A Coke” website would not accept the word “Gay”, but did accept the word “Straight”. This isn’t how the program was supposed to work, and we’ve pulled the site down until we can fix the problem.

    We apologize for this mistake. As one of the world’s most inclusive brands, we value and celebrate diversity. We have long been a strong supporter of the LGBT community and have advocated for inclusion, equality and diversity through both our policies and practices.

    More than 700,000 Coca-Cola system associates get up every morning determined to make the world a happier place and, when errors like this happen, we take it seriously. Thank you for raising this with us, and we’ll get it fixed.

    This isn’t the first time Coca-Cola has been forced to apologize following a public relations issue. In September of last year, the company issued a formal apology after a customer found the words “YOU RETARD” printed inside the cap of a Vitamin Water bottle.

  • Trippy 'Huelux' Time-Lapse Video Takes The Sky To New Heights
    If you haven’t had a moment to enjoy the stars recently, here’s a new video that will more than suffice.

    Shot over an eight-month period by time-lapse photographer Randy Halverson, the video gives a mind-boggling look at the night sky in South Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah. It was uploaded to Vimeo on Jan. 27, 2014.

    “The thunderstorm at 2:52 is pretty awesome,” Vimeo senior curator Sam Morrill commented on the video.

    In addition to some breathtaking thunderstorms and auroras borealis, you’ll see a sequence that Halverson wrote in the video’s description as being the “best Milky Way shots of the year in Wyoming.” Enjoy!

Mobile Technology News, January 28, 2014

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's iOS 7 now on 80 percent of compatible mobile devices
    Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed on Monday during a conference call with analysts that iOS 7, the latest version of Apple’s mobile platform, is now running on 80 percent of compatible devices. The milestone represents a two percent uptick since December, and prompted Oppenheimer to mistakenly proclaim it “the most popular operating system in the world,” unintentionally dropping the qualifier “mobile.”


  • How to Make Quick and Easy Custom Email Signatures
    Using your actual signature instead of just typing your name gives a fun and personal touch to your business documents, like newsletters, blog posts, client letters and holiday correspondence. See how I quickly created several custom signatures in my latest video tutorial.

    bestkelley dashkelley hugskelley lovenlightkelley peacekelley2Kelley

    Where could you use a handwritten signature in your business?  Please share your ideas below so we can all learn from you!


    Kelley Sanabria is the founder of Femworking, a business and blogger networking platform with a revolutionary method that brings a mastermind experience to a one-hour, biweekly networking meeting. Sign up for free tips to grow your business or blog at Femworking.com.

  • Ridiculous Number Of Illinois Students Sign Petition To Cancel Classes Because It's Cold
    It’s really cold in Illinois this week.

    The forecast high at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for Monday was just 5 degrees. The predicted wind chills of 25 to 35 degrees below zero prompted a wind chill advisory issued for central Illinois, where UIUC is located, through Tuesday afternoon.

    However, UIUC Chancellor Phyllis Wise announced Sunday evening that classes would go on Monday, which didn’t sit well with Illinois students.

    In response, more than 8,000 people signed an online petition trying to get the university to cancel classes Monday.

    6k signatures in about an hour. Imagine if a student body got this excited about an ACTUAL issue!! http://t.co/8CmfJTNL05 #fuckphyllis

    — Michael Bojda (@mbojda) January 27, 2014

    “Canceling classes is a responsible measure to ensure that the entire campus community remains safe during these exterme [sic] weather conditions,” the petition reads. “If you feel the same, sign this petition to let the Chancellor know.”

    They did not succeed.

    Students also took it upon themselves to let the chancellor know on Twitter how upset they were with going to class. But some did so with offensive posts and by wishing injury on Wise, a daughter of Chinese immigrants. BuzzFeed and Chicagoist gathered several examples, most of which have since been deleted.

    Thankfully, there were some more level-headed folks who pushed back on the offensive tweets:

    I’m sure all of you will look back at this in 10 years and be ashamed of yourselves for verbally abusing an individual online #FuckPhyllis

    — Andrea Garcia-Vargas (@AndreaGarVar) January 27, 2014

    I agree it sucks going to class when it’s freezing. Be an adult. Stay home if it’s safer, but don’t make racial slurs #fuckphyllis

    — Lilith (@GrimalkinRN) January 27, 2014

    In total, there were more than 1,900 tweets using the hashtag #FuckPhyllis by Monday afternoon.

    But still, classes went on as scheduled.

    The University of Illinois-Chicago, University of Chicago and Northwestern University remained open Monday, but students there largely did not head to Twitter with offensive remarks, just snarky ones:

    Northwestern: “It’s cold, so we got you an extra bus!”


    — Bobby Pillote (@BobbyPillote) January 27, 2014

    Northwestern University: Now with locations in Chicago, Antarctica, and Hoth

    — Dan Rufolo (@DanRufoBro) January 27, 2014

  • Smartphone sales 'top one billion'
    More than one billion smartphones were shipped last year, with Samsung extending its lead as the world’s biggest vendor, a new survey shows.
  • Despite strong numbers, AAPL plummets eight percent in after-hours
    Though many analysts have already noted that Apple revenues in the Americas were down one percent year-over-year — with global iPhone sales failing to meet the 55 million mark of consensus estimates — less reported is that in most other areas, the company exceeded expectations. Sales of both Macs and iPads hit higher-than-predicted levels, and the company also beat consensus estimates for earnings per share (EPS) and gross margins. The 51 million iPhones sold, however, had serious repercussions on the stock.


  • Briefly: Chrome for iOS' additions, Starcraft II's new mod patch
    Google has released its Chrome for iOS update, which includes several features previously unannounced. Security improvements and the addition of Google Translate are now live, as was previously reported, however the update has also introduced a new data-compression tool. Aiming to help reduce data usage while browsing, the data-compression feature can reduce browsing data usage by up to 50 percent.


  • Flow State: How to Cultivate a State of Bliss and Seamless Productivity
    Most of us have had a heightened and radical experience where time slows down, specific details are enhanced, and self vanishes. This is what some top athletes describe as being “in the zone.” In these amplified moments of consciousness, we make connections we had missed before, hatch breakthroughs to problems that have been stumping us and push the limits of what’s possible for human performance.

    I’ve felt it hundreds of times after several hours in front of an Avid while editing my films — but I never knew there was a name for it. It’s when I put enough time in that the gifts start coming. It’s a transcendent feeling, as if I have to race to physically manifest the ideas and connections that are flowing through me. I become a conduit as puzzle pieces fly into place. Ever been there? Sometimes it just happens to us suddenly with a click, like magic. At other times, we think we know how we got there but what if we could dial it in whenever we wanted to cultivate that state of bliss and seamless productivity?

    Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal, the co-founders of Flow Genome Project, have been at the forefront of discovering the triggers in order to unlock and harness these “flow states.” With wide-ranging examples from different disciplines such as the Curies’ “eureka moment,” Einstein’s mathematical genius, Mozart’s legendary compositions as well as Michael Jordan’s wizardry on the basketball court, Kotler and Wheal have examined how major athletic competitions, scientific discoveries, and significant progress in the arts are associated with the unconscious creativity that surges out of flow states. According to Wheal, “Flow Genome Project is an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to mapping the deep science of ultimate human performance.” Kotler adds, “Flow states are defined as optimal states of consciousness. These are states where you feel your best and you perform your best.”

    Flow is not only for extreme sports enthusiasts. Business leaders and scientific researchers are now taking note of flow states and the possible implications for society. A McKinsey study finds that top executives in “flow” are five times more productive than out of it — this means that if we as a society or as employers could increase the amount of time we are in flow by 20 percent, we would double our productivity.

    In order to unleash this tidal wave of creativity, the Flow Genome Project is planning to launch Flow Dojo Research and Performance Centers, which they describe as “a playground dedicated to the seeking and training of flow states.” The Dojo’s will have 360-degree immersive dome projections, human gyroscopes, and huge looping swings where both experts and regular folks can immerse themselves in extreme environments and examine their physical and mental states. The goal is to advance “21st century skills” such as resilience, cooperation, and hot decision-making that are not taught in our schools, so that ultimately our children can master today’s challenges.

    In this week’s episode of ATD’s “The Future Is Now” series, we sat down with Wheal and Kotler to dive deep into the neuroscience and cutting-edge research that has characterized these historic and groundbreaking leaps in human performance:

    For Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler, “flow” is not just a professional crusade — both men have credited the state with saving their lives. Steven had been suffering from a debilitating illness, bed-ridden for three years, and living at 10-percent functionality. He found himself in a state of consciousness where he encountered what felt like “mystical experiences,” and he thought he was dying. When he recovered, he wanted to find out more about this state and ended up publishing two books on “flow,” including the forthcoming book The Rise of the Superman. Jamie, on the other hand, describes himself as that “prototypical angry young man,” courting death with high-risk behavior — “Either I was going to find something more worth living for, or I was going to continue taking bigger and bigger risks. I was going to keep going until I got it, or I was content to let it get me.” Through “flow,” he was able to channel this existential crisis into a career, designing and delivering dynamic outdoor educational learning experiences to everyone from children to business leaders. Kotler’s research into the scientific side of flow was a perfect match with Wheal’s focus on experiential learning to build out Flow Genome Project.

    Wheal and Kotler have huge plans for their flow Dojos in major metropolitan areas, where they will offer MacArthur-style fellowships to scientists from related fields. Wheal believes, “One of our core intentions is almost a sort of revival of Plato’s Academy, where you bring together the best and the brightest, you train, you think, you play, and you go out and you seed culture.” They have already attracted high-profile advisors and board members such as James Olds from the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study from George Mason University, Redbull’s High Performance Director Andy Walshe, and New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned ADHD expert Dr. Ned Hallowell, among others.

    Of course, one can’t be in a “flow state” all the time; they’re part of a cycle that involves gearing up, entering flow and a coming-down recovery period. But Kotler and Wheal hope that helping people access flow more regularly will enable them towards not only greater productivity but greater happiness. For Wheal, the question he seeks to answer is “How do we unlock that possibility, not just in the best of the best, but allow it to actually be our own birthright and to reclaim that? How do we not simply say voyeuristically, ‘Wow, that’s awesome, but I could never,’ and actually say, ‘That’s incredible, and I can too!.'” Projected completion for the first dome is Fall 2014/Winter 2015, and I’ll be the first in line.

  • VIDEO: Airbnb chief responds to controversy
    Airbnb’s chief on his controversial business model
  • Cook: much more growth in China yet to come
    China sales more than offset the one percent drop in iPhone revenue in the Americas, but CEO Tim Cook told investment analysts that the expected “tailwind” from China smartphone growth is likely to expand as the year progresses. Sales in “greater China” (which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong) were up nearly 30 percent year-over-year to $8.84 billion, with iPad sales up 64 percent year-over-year and iPhone sales up 24 percent year-over-year.


  • Intrepid Gamer Attempts To Find Edge Of Minecraft World
    There is a place in gaming where no one has trodden. It’s so far off the beaten path that it would take a lifetime’s worth of gaming and a heck of a lot of patience to get there. If it were plotted on the far reaches of a map, it would undoubtedly be marked with a cautionary ‘Here there be monsters,’ but no one’s bothered to get close enough to mark it.

    It’s the Far Lands of Minecraft, the edge of the game’s map, and Kurt J. Mac wants to see it. So, nearly three years ago, in March 2011, he loaded up a new game, chose a direction and started walking.

    Over 700 virtual kilometers (roughly 435 miles) later, he’s not even halfway there. Not by a long shot. In fact, his in-game equivalent of a GPS estimates that, at his current pace, he’ll reach the Far Lands in about 22 years. Let that sink in for a moment.

    Some of you may be scratching your head and wondering why this is impressive (or at least interesting), so let’s rewind: Available across a variety of platforms, Minecraft features a world that is made up of square blocks of various materials which can be broken down and built into amazingly detailed structures through farming and mining. Each game generates a brand new world populated with a unique configuration of trees, plains and mountains, making it ideal for exploring.

    The world continues to automatically generate as the player moves further away from its center. The farther out you go, the bigger the world gets. If you walk long enough, eventually you’ll reach what Minecraft creator Markus Persson has called the “Far Lands,” an area so far from the center of the world that the game can no longer support the size of the world. This is where the Minecraft universe starts to morph into something illogical and unrecognizable.

    Persson says in a blog post written while developing the game that “infinite worlds,” such as the one in Minecraft, are not really infinite, “but there’s no hard limit either. It’ll just get buggier and buggier the further out you are.”

    It’s into this buggy, unknown that Mac is headed.

    According to the New Yorker, the YouTube channel Mac set up to chronicle his journey — Far Lands or Bust! — has more than 300,000 subscribers and earns enough advertising revenue that he was able to quit his job as a Web designer. He’s even helped raise more than $250,000 for Child’s Play, a charity hoping to improve the lives of sick children by giving them toys and games to play with while hospitalized. Not bad for someone who just walks around in a virtual world all day!

    On his journey, Mac is armed with the bare necessities (a sword and a pickaxe) and is accompanied by his trusted companion (Wolfie, a tamed wolf he found sometime in Season 3 of his Youtube series) and thousands of YouTube followers. He narrates each episode of his series as he traverses unsettled, uninhabited stretches of vast, cubed terrain.

    “The series transformed into a sort of podcast, where the topics I talk about might have little to do with the journey itself,” Mac said in an interview with the New Yorker. “Of course, it is always exciting when Minecraft re-grabs my attention with a perilous cliff, a zombie attack, or a memorable landscape, and I remember the journey I’m on.”

    Like most explorers, Mac recognizes that it’s the journey and not the destination that’s important. He often pauses to admire the uncharted world around him that he and his followers are the first and last to see.

    WATCH: The latest episode of Mac’s Far Lands or Bust!

  • Apple shares plunge on flat earnings
    Shares in tech giant Apple fall 9% in after-hours trading, after the firm reports flat profits of $13.1bn (£7.9bn) during its first quarter.
  • Majority Of Students Have Skipped Buying A College Textbook Because They're Too Expensive
    The cost of college textbooks extends far beyond the bookstore, with students factoring in textbook expenses when they decide about everything from classwork to course loads, according to a report released Monday.

    The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a progressive research and advocacy organization, found in a survey that 65 percent of college students had at some point decided against buying a college textbook due to its high price. Of that group, nearly all — 94 percent — had concerns that their decision not to buy the book would affect their grades.

    The survey also showed that almost half of respondents — 48 percent — said they factored in textbook costs when deciding how many or which classes to take.

    The high cost of textbooks is just one of the many ways that higher education can exact a heavy financial toll on students. College graduates are already leaving school with an average of nearly $30,000 in student debt, according to the Project on Student Debt.

    “Despite the growth of used book programs, rental markets, and e-textbooks, student consumers are still captive to the high prices of the traditional market,” Ethan Senack, the federal higher education associate for the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and author of the report, said in a statement.

    Students spend an average of $1,200 on books and supplies each year, according to the College Board. College textbook prices have jumped three times the rate of inflation over the past decade, U.S. PIRG notes.

    However, the report suggests one thing that might help relieve students’ concerns about the price of reading material: open textbooks.

    Four out of five survey respondents indicated they would do better in a course if the textbook were free online and a hard copy was optional, U.S. PIRG said. The report noted, for example, that one calculus book that costs more than $200 could be replaced by a free online version.

    Legislation introduced in Congress in November would establish a grant program for colleges and universities to develop and expand the use of textbooks that can be made available online, offered with free access to the public.

  • 10 Things I Bet You Didn't Know About Innovation
    While conducting interviews and research on an article calling for less talk on innovation and more doing, I stumbled on the list below of somewhat unknown and starling things about innovation and thought I would share.

    Most of these will not help you be a better manager or leader, but will serve you well when faced with someone who thinks innovation is either really new, only done in silicon valley or only limited to things like Facebook.

    Below is a slide deck I assembled.

    10 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Innovation from Richie Etwaru

    For those that want a bit more details, below is the list with the text from each slide above, and a link with more information for each of the 10 items.

    1. YOUR EARS CHOPPED OFF — In the 1600s, the punishment for being an “innovator” was getting your ears chopped off. You were seen as a troublemaker.

    2. FIVE YEAR OLD INVENTOR — In 2008, a British five year old was issued a patent for a “Sweeping Device With Two Heads” invention.

    3. CHINA ON THE MOVE — In 2012, China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) granted more patents than any other patent office in the world, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    4. WOMEN INVENTORS RISE (LEAN IN) — While men still file many more patents than women, female inventors are increasing their share of U.S. Women were listed as inventors on 18 percent of all patents issued to U.S. inventors.

    5. LIPITOR WINS — Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering drug used to help reduce heart attack and stroke risk, represents the most valued patent in history.

    6. WORD INNOVATION OVERUSED — In 2011 the SEC shows companies mentioned some form of the word “innovation” 33,528 in annual reports, which was a 64 percent increase from five years before that.

    7. WORST INNOVATIONS TIME’s 50 worst innovations listed in 2010 include Foursquare, Farmville and the Segway. Go figure.

    8. MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANY — SalesForce.com does not even make the well-respected top 20 most innovative companies in the world list published by Booze & Co.

    9. PATENT WARS HEAT UP — In 2012 both Google and Apple spent more on patent litigation than on R&D — 20 Billion in smartphone industry alone in two years.

    10. FIRST PATENT EVER — On July 31, 1790 Samuel Hopkins was issued the first patent for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer.

  • Connecting Military Families with Social Media
    I was honored to be invited on an embark mission with the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson. Fifteen bloggers and media professionals were taken on a 24-hour excursion out to sea. While the planes and aircraft carrier were remarkable, the most important part for me was meeting the sailors and learning about their life in the Navy. As a writer and media professional, I was interested to learn how sailors stayed connected with their families and friends.

    Before I left on my trip, I tweeted that I would be on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson.

    Tomorrow I’m leaving for my #VinsonEmbark mission with the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Carl Vi… http://t.co/sNu0r2AbH0 pic.twitter.com/jeckIHU2hq

    — Peg Fitzpatrick (@PegFitzpatrick) January 21, 2014

    I received a tweet from a man whose brother was on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson. I found out that his brother’s name is Lt. Commander Smokin’ Joe.

    @PegFitzpatrick say hi to my bro for me.

    — John Ruzicka (@johnruzicka) January 21, 2014

    When I was in our briefing aboard the ship, I mentioned to one of the sailors on the media team that I was looking for Smokin’ Joe and they said they would see if we could find him on our tour but that there were thousands of people on the ship. While touring the ship, we went into a room with huge monitors where the crew worked on air traffic control for the approximately 120 flights on and off the ship each day. And guess who started speaking? Smokin’ Joe! I was able to meet him, say hello from his brother, and take a photo to tweet to his brother. Lt. Commanader Joseph Ruzicka is a Radar Intercept Officer and Weapons Systems Officer in the F-14 Tomcat and F-18 Hornet with over 17 years in the U.S. Navy.

    Hi @johnruzicka! Look who I found on the @CVN70. Smokin’ Joe! Thank you both for your service. #VinsonEmbark pic.twitter.com/H6DZrimyVu

    — Peg Fitzpatrick (@PegFitzpatrick) January 25, 2014

    I learned that sailors are allowed 15 minutes per day in the computer lab to email and be on the Internet. When we went into the lab most of the sailors were on Facebook catching up with their families. While this is quicker than a letter, it still isn’t much connection with the outside world.

    Enter the U.S.S. Carl Vinson Media Department. This crew of 30 sailors works long hours taking photos, managing social media and creating entertainment for the entire crew. They have a design team that creates graphics for their social media presence, and the ship newspaper that they publish twice a week. They run a huge print shop for all print media including inspirational and informative posters that they post around the ship. The true value of media was seen as this crew helps the ship communicate better with their own shipmates, the outside social media world that follows them on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as sharing images and stories from the ship for the friends and families to stay up-to-date with their sailors. The photojournalists on the crew are the first on deck when an unknown ship is spotted at sea and provide important data to the Intelligence Department. Teamwork was evident throughout the ship.

    I’m truly inspired and grateful for the hard work of all the sailors on the U.S.S. Carl Vinson and learned so much about what our Navy does and what a day in the life of a sailor looks like. It’s wonderful that the Navy supports this level of communication and embraces social media to connect Americans with our military and sailors with their loved ones. Here’s a 100 Faces video they made showing sailors all over the ship.

    I’d like to acknowledge Steve Fiebing, Deputy Public Affairs Officer for the Commander, Naval Air Forces – Pacific, U.S. Pacific Fleet and his staff for his invitation and their coordination of the embark as well as Dennis Hall of Avere Group for my nomination to the Navy for this embark and Guy Kawasaki for his support of the embark program and nomination for consideration.

    If you’re inspired, check out the U.S.S. Carl Vinson’s social media, give them a like and a follow or say hello. I know they’d appreciate it!

  • Apple Q1 breakdown shows decline in Americas, jump in China
    In addition to its public announcement, Apple has also published a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its first-quarter results. Significantly, revenue from the Americas actually declined one percent year-over-year to $20.098 billion. This was compensated for by growth in other regions; Europe and Japan were up five and 11 percent (respectively), while “greater” China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) leapt ahead 29 percent to $8.844 billion. The growth was likely spurred by sales of new iPhones and iPads, since mainland China was made a first-tier launch country for the first time in 2013.


  • Innovation in the Government Industry
    Government may be susceptible to the same forces that are currently changing many major industries. Software is eating government, too.

    Therefore government must use customer development to better serve customers else it risks becoming the next Blockbuster, Borders, or what the large publishing and financial services companies are at risk of becoming.

    In a free market economy, an enterprise must relentlessly serve the needs of its customers in order to compete. Otherwise, the customers will stop paying and go to another provider. Entrepreneurs who don’t serve customers go broke.

    Government Duopoly

    Democrats and republicans have a duopoly on the government industry in the United States. Just as a private sector monopoly reduces customer power, leading to high prices and a lack of incentive for companies to serve it’s customers, this political duopoly reduces voting power, and disincentivises government to serve “customers” to the best of its ability.

    Government is currently one size fits all. In a free market, there is unblunding and multiple offerings for different segments of a market. For example there’s Natural Light, Budweiser, and Guinness. Competition forces companies to serve customers because if customers don’t like one offering they will simply choose a different one. If you don’t like your laundromat, restaurant, or job, you can simply go somewhere else. In contrast, switching governments is really hard.

    Why Now

    Government has been able to go a very long time without significant innovation. However now is the time for government to begin adapting because the forces changing nearly every industry may do the same to government. I will reiterate a few themes that Fred Wilson cited in a talk at LeWeb while talking about several different industries and add some more thoughts.

    1. Organization: Technology driven networks replacing bureaucratic hierarchies

    Bureaucratic hierarchies involve chains of command with lower levels of management making more detailed decisions and reporting back to higher levels of management. These systems often entail long communication lags, high costs, and principal/agent problems.

    Technology driven networks are providing more efficient systems for organization and communication. For example, Amazon has changed the publishing industry by enabling anyone to publish content and enabling customers to decide what they want. Twitter has created a network around communication and news, enabling anyone who people want to hear to be heard.

    2. Competition: Unbundling of product and service offerings

    Technology advancements have made it cheaper and easier than ever before to produce a product and bring it to market. One result is that it’s become easier for an entrepreneur to provide one offering of a larger offering as a standalone offering. It provides customers with the option to buy what they want without having to pay more for stuff they don’t want. In addition, the offerings can be improved because producers are completely focused on that specific offering. For example, we used to buy one newspaper and get world, local, sports, etc. Now it’s all from different sources.

    Bundling exists because it was more efficient than attempting to contract in the market for every tiny service. However some of the technology driven networks (as described above) are helping markets become more efficient and giving customers more customizable buying options. For example, you can buy a half hour of education, or borrow money from a peer.

    We’re starting to see some of the governments offerings begin to be unbundled. For example, Uber and Hyperloop are providing transportation. A neighborhood in Oakland crowdfunded private security.

    3. Finance: Lower payment transaction fees and crowdfunding

    Innovation in payments, including Bitcoin, has made it cheaper and easier than ever to transfer money. It’s as easy as sending an email, clicking a hyperlink, or scanning a QR code. In addition, Bitcoin is not controlled by any regulators or intermediaries like the government, credit card companies, or even PayPal.

    Crowdfunding enables the collective efforts of individuals to connect and pool their money to back initiatives, make purchases, or fund new projects. A school in Houston crowdfunded some exercise equipment instead of using government funding.

    4. Communication: We are all connected and graphed

    Mobile devices have become nearly as powerful as desktops or laptops. There are many things we can do with our phone that we can’t do on our desktop/laptop. For example, smartphones have sensors, are location aware, can be carried with us at all times, and are cheaper than desktops or laptops. These factors have lead to mass adoption of mobile devices across the world, including in countries with high poverty where people could not previously afford a desktop or laptop. Mobile is making innovative offerings like Uber and mobile payments possible.

    Platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide everyone with access to millions of people. In addition, companies like Klout and Quora are measuring our reputation and social graph improving our ability to transact with each other. For example, when market participants trust one another (through the vehicle of a reputation system) many transactions that wouldn’t otherwise happen can now happen.This illustrated in the rise in popularity of collaborative consumption platforms and peer to peer marketplaces.

    Serving Customers

    The current government duopoly inhibits us from selecting the government that we want as well as from receiving the best possible service because of lack of incentive. However the technologies described above are making it possible to get services previously provided by the government through more efficient and effective means. They’re enabling a more free market for government services.

    As a result, government will need to either need to do some “customer development” to stay “competitive,” or make it illegal for such companies to operate.

    There is more precedent for the latter then the former. Increasing regulation could stifle innovation and prevent customers from getting the best possible service. For example, if the government wanted to maintain its monopoly on mail (USPS), it could outlaw Amazon’s drones, which could provide major improvements to customers. AirBnB and Uber have had trouble entering some markets.

    If government were to take the customer development route, it could try things like unbundling (see above) so that people could opt for the specific solutions they desire. Given the US government’s current balance sheet, it may actually need to start relying on other providers.

    It could also rely more on “economic feedback” to inform its actions. Currently economic feedback is given through voting. Most people vote once every two or four years and then hope they get what they “paid” for. Can you imagine paying for a college without knowing which one you would be going to, know what they would be providing, or being able to request a refund or switch colleges? With more economic incentive, services would need to improve. For example, if there was a free market for roads, people would pay for and use the roads that were most safe.


    If the government acted more like a startup, it would solve one or more citizen pain points with economic incentive to do it in the most effective and efficient way possible. Depending on how you measure, government is somewhere around a trillion dollar “industry.” This presents enormous opportunity.

    It has historically taken massive amounts of money to get elected to government. And Unlike Kodak and Fujifilm, the government’s “customers” (citizens) are required to pay (taxes), and it gets to write its own rules. However the demonstrated empowerment of entrepreneurs and citizens to create innovative solutions has made the government duopoly less secure.

  • VIDEO: Sign language translation machine
    The BBC meets the inventor of a sign language translation machine and other Dubai innovators.
  • Leave 3D Printing Alone
    I thought John Sarik was trying to shake my hand when we met last Spring at the Columbia Laboratory for Unconventional Electronics (CLUE). Instead he was trying to hand me a small tan-colored plastic figurine of smuggler and rouge Han Solo, of Star Wars fame, frozen in carbonite.

    Sarik told me that he and his team produced the figurine themselves, on site, using a 3D printer. The technology that powers these machines, which allow users to create physical objects from digital designs, threatens to disrupt traditional manufacturing the way MP3 and peer-to-peer file sharing have disrupted the media business over the past decade.

    Touring CLUE with Sarik, I saw a room full of complicated and unfamiliar and gadgets. I had to wear goggles and leave my cell phone outside. To an outsider, CLUE looked noisy. It was a cacophony of stuff. It was unclear where one workstation or piece of technology ended and where another began. But for the CLUE engineers, everything was in its right place. Chaos blissfully organized.


    Indicative of its mysteriousness, CLUE’s logo is simply a question mark.

    3D printing remains intangible to most people, and yet the rush to regulate it has begun. But experts are warning lawmakers that haphazard regulation could potentially do more harm than the technology itself.

    A classic ink-jet desktop printer reads information from a digital document, for example a Microsoft Word file, and prints the formatted text in ink, line by line, onto paper. A 3D printer interprets computer aided design (CAD) files — three-dimensional schematics used by engineers since the 1980s — and builds objects up layer-by-layer out of plastic, metal, or in principle any other material.

    The technology holds out the promise that anyone, anywhere, can create anything. The printers can be used to produce low-cost replacement parts for appliances, tools, from dishwashers to aircraft. They are being used for medical prosthetics, and even, experimentally, for building actual biological organs out of organic material.

    What one can’t do — legally — is print out a toy that depicts Han Solo frozen in carbonite. The character is part of an original work, the Star Wars films, and is therefore protected by a copyright owned by the studio that produced it, Lucasfilm Ltd.

    The right applies automatically and gives Lucasfilm the right to sue violators for a period that extends until 70 years after the death of the work’s creator, filmmaker George Lucas.

    “When you’re faced with digital disruption you can certainly spend a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of resources trying to sue everyone and to stop them from using this new technology,” said Michael Weinberg, Vice President of Public Knowledge, a free-internet advocacy group.

    This is just what the music and movie industries did when confronted by the advent of the MP3 compression format for music files along peer-to-peer file sharing networks on which to copy and exchange them.

    But in the case of 3D printing, it is not entirely clear who they would sue.

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) spent a decade suing individual file-sharers, only to give the practice up in the face of evident failure and public outrage.

    Jane Ginsburg, a copyright expert at Columbia Law School, said manufactures will likely avoid replicating the RIAA’s approach. “Big companies are unlikely to go after end users,” she said, because the scale of the litigation would be too small and would be likely to produce a backlash.

    The music industry had more courtroom success against Napster, an online service that centralized the wide and rapid distribution of illegally copied music file.

    The website Thingiverse, where Sarik found the CAD file he used to create the Han Solo toy, is 3D printing’s closest analogue to Napster.

    “If history is any guide, there would be a much stronger effort to try to target all the sites that make available the 3D plans,” said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and author of The Master Switch.

    But Wu also said there were limits to the analogy. Copyright protects original, artistic and non-useful works. While this definition covers most of the MP3s on Napster, it excludes most of the content on Thingiverse; the Han Solo toy is actually an exception.

    Most 3D-printed objects — and most of the digital designs they are derived from — are not protected under current law. Creating objects for personal use is fair game, as is ‘remixing’ copyrighted forms–say, a figurine of Barack Obama frozen in carbonite.

    Sites that host user-generated content, as Thingiverse does, operate under a ‘safe harbor’ provision in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA). The DMCA set up a notice and takedown system, dictating that content holders, and not content hosts, are responsible for monitoring infringement–an arrangement that SOPA and PIPA tried to reverse. Intermediaries like Thingiverse, as safe harbors, “don’t have a duty to police their websites,” said Ginsburg, and are not directly liable for infringing content on their sites so long as they address takedown request expeditiously.

    While Thingiverse cannot be saddled with liability as long as there are sufficient non-infringing uses for its platform, “this Supreme Court has not defined sufficient non-infringing use,” warns Ginsburg, whose mother, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, serves on the Court. “Is it 50% [of the website’s content]? Is it 30%?” If resolved in court, the answer to this question will have a large impact on the legal viability of online platforms hosting CAD designs.

    “The reason we have Facebook, the reason we have Twitter, the reason we have YouTube, the reason we have Thingiverse is there are these safe harbors that websites, as long as they follow the rules, know they won’t be held responsible,” said Weinburg.

    This is no guarantee of long term protection. “There will be some industries that decide that the best way to adapt is to come to Washington and try and get the laws changed instead of recognizing reality,” said Weinberg.

    One type of file you can’t won’t find on Thingiverse, at least since December 2012, are designs for firearms.

    Cody Wilson, 3D-printed gun activist and founder of Defense Distributed, said Thingiverse amounts to no more than “hipsters selling toys.” Wilson. The 25-year-old University of Texas at Austin law student has made his name by being the first to produce usable AR-15 rifle components and demo-firing them himself on his popular Youtube channel.

    In May 2013, Defense Distributed designed, manufactured, and tested the world’s first fully printable firearm, the ‘Liberator’ pistol (pictured below).


    The backlash among lawmakers has been swift. Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) introduced legislation earlier this year that would extend the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988 to specifically include target 3D-printed guns. On November 21st, Philadelphia became the first city to ban the manufacture of printable firearms–even though none have yet turned up in the city.

    “They’re working on literally any choke point they can find,” said Wilson. The activist, who styles himself a ‘crypto-anarchist,’ sees these moves as the desperate acts of uncomprehending paternalists bent on curtailing personal freedom.

    Wilson said it would be impossible to stop Defense Distributed without threatening 3D printing in general. “And that was the goal,” he said, “to basically make people recognize the kind of civil liberties you’re going to lose if you want to stop us.”

    Weinburg and other 3D-printing activists agree. “I hope that people will take time to really think” before regulating 3D printed guns, he said.

    “It turns out that from a regulatory standpoint, from a policy standpoint, there’s nothing really new about people being able to or actually making high precision firearms at home,” said Weinburg. In fact, last March, Wilson successfully applied to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobocco and Firearms to become a federally licensed gun manufacturer.

    Weinberg’s organization, Public Knowledge, has told lawmakers “if you care about undetectable firearms, outlaw undetectable firearms. Don’t focus on specific technology.” The group supports an alternate proposal put forward by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) that would modify existing law without touching on 3D printing specifically.

    Banning 3D-printed guns instead of undetectable guns would cause “a lot of collateral damage without any real policy benefit,” said Weinberg.

    Ginsburg said the most likely regulatory outcome is similar to DMCA’s takedown-notice-based system. But, she said, it’s also possible that “industries that are currently not protected” — traditional manufactures — might try to convince Congress to expand copyright rules the way SOPA and PIPA were meant to.

    “I hope that all of these industries, when faced with 3D printing, would say ‘let’s adapt to this,” said Weinberg.

    The more laissez-faire approach — a version of which Wu, Ginsberg and Wilson all favor — requires the acceptance of some amount of risk and uncertainty. The technology promises breathtaking possibilities for both innovation and disruption.

    “Everything is going to be scanned and it’s all going to be uploaded so it’s just a matter of finding who’s got the iPhone schematics out there and stopping them,” Wilson said.

    For Weinberg, while Congress and the courts should think of 3D printing more in terms of continuity than change, the technology will force successful manufacturing companies to revolutionize how they do business.

    “For better or worse, it’s the only option,” he said, “he history of the Internet has taught us that you have to make the change. You can accept that early or you can accept that late but that’s what you have to do.”

    By Max Marder of The Morningside Post

  • Apple Sells Record Number Of iPhones, Still Disappoints People
    (Reuters) – Apple Inc sold a record number of iPhones over the holiday shopping season but failed to meet Wall Street’s target, reflecting intense competition from arch-foe Samsung Electronics during the crucial period.

    Shares in the world’s most valuable technology company fell 5 percent in extended trading.

    Apple sold 51 million iPhones in the December quarter, while Wall Street on average had anticipated 55 million or so.

    The company forecast sales of $42 billion to $44 billion this quarter, which investors expect to be brisker than usual because of its recently sealed deal to sell iPhones through China Mobile Ltd, the country’s No. 1 carrier. Wall Street is expecting $46 billion, on average.

    That long-awaited deal is expected by analysts to tack on more than 11 million units of new iPhone sales in fiscal 2014, starting with the typically sedate March quarter.

    The company on Monday recorded sales of $57.6 billion in its December or fiscal first quarter, versus expectations for about $57.5 billion. First fiscal quarter earnings were $14.50 a share, compared to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimate of $14.07.

    (Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Mobile Technology News, January 27, 2014

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.

  • VIDEO: A hi-tech tennis coach at courtside
    Tennis technology has progressed so far that the sport’s governing body has moved to regulate new data devices.
  • Google and Samsung sign patent deal
    Google and Samsung sign a global patent cross-licensing agreement aimed at “reducing the potential for litigation” and enhancing innovation.
  • Google buys UK start-up DeepMind
    Google buys UK start-up DeepMind for a reported $400m (£242m), making the artificial intelligence firm its largest European acquisition so far.
  • Multi-material 3D printer launched
    A 3D printer than can make objects using different colours and materials is being launched at SolidWorks World in San Diego, California.
  • Edward Snowden: There Are 'Significant Threats' To My Life
    By Erik Kirschbaum

    BERLIN, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told German TV on Sunday about reports that U.S. government officials want to assassinate him for leaking secret documents about the NSA’s collection of telephone records and emails.

    In what German public broadcaster ARD said was Snowden’s first television interview, Snowden also said he believes the NSA has monitored other top German government officials along with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    Snowden told ARD that he felt there are “significant threats” to his life but he said that he nevertheless sleeps well because he believes he did the right thing by informing the public about the NSA’s activities.

    “I’m still alive and don’t lose sleep for what I did because it was the right thing to do,” said Snowden at the start of what ARD said was a six-hour interview that was filmed in a Moscow hotel suite. ARD aired 40 minutes of the six-hour interview.

    “There are significant threats but I sleep very well,” he said before referring to a report on a U.S. website that he said quoted anonymous U.S. officials saying his life was in danger.

    “These people, and they are government officials, have said they would love to put a bullet in my head or poison me when I come out of the supermarket and then watch me die in the shower,” Snowden said.

    Questions about U.S. government spying on civilians and foreign officials became heated last June when Snowden leaked documents outlining the widespread collection of telephone records and email.

    Snowden was granted asylum in Russia last summer after fleeing the United States, where he is wanted on espionage charges for leaking information about government surveillance practices.

    The revelations shocked Germany, a country especially sensitive after the abuses by the Gestapo during the Nazi reign and the Stasi in Communist East Germany during the Cold War.

    Reports the NSA monitored Merkel’s mobile phone have added to the anger in Germany, which has been pushing for a ‘no-spy’ agreement with the United States, a country it considers to be among its closest allies.

    “What I can say is that we know that Angela Merkel was monitored by the NSA,” said Snowden, wearing a dark suit and loose-fitting white shirt. “But the question is how logical is it that she’s the only one who was monitored, how likely is it that she was the German person the NSA was watching?

    “I’d say that it’s not very likely that anyone who was watching the German government was only watching Merkel and not her advisers nor other government officials nor ministers, heads of industries or even local government officials.”

    Snowden said the NSA is active in industrial espionage and will grab any intelligence it can get its hands on regardless of its national security value. He said the NSA doesn’t limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm Siemens as a target.

    “If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to U.S. national interests – even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security – then they’ll take that information nevertheless,” Snowden said, according to ARD, which recorded the interview in Russia where he has claimed asylum.


    Snowden’s claim the NSA is engaged in industrial espionage follows a New York Times report earlier this month that the NSA put software in almost 100,000 computers around the world, allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks.

    The NSA planted most of the software after gaining access to computer networks, but has also used a secret technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the Internet, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and documents leaked by Snowden.

    The newspaper said the technology had been in use since at least 2008 and relied on a covert channel of radio waves transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards secretly inserted in the computers.

    Frequent targets of the programme, code-named Quantum, included units of the Chinese military and industrial targets.

    Snowden faces criminal charges after fleeing to Hong Kong and then Russia, where he was granted at least a year’s asylum.

    He was charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national security information and giving classified intelligence data to an unauthorised person. (Editing by Sophie Hares and Bernard Orr)

  • 29 Best Vines Of The Week In 1 Video: Jan. 17 – Jan. 24, 2013 (VIDEO)
    Vine, Twitter’s micro-video social network, recently celebrated its 1st anniversary. With a limit of six seconds per video, it has quickly become one of the best forms of entertainment for Generation Distraction. Vine provides a steady supply of hilarious, surprising and inventive mini-movies showcasing users art, comedy, pets and general Internet weirdness.

    To celebrate this relatively new medium, we’ll be doing a weekly compilation of our favorite Vines. This week, we offer everything from a how to make ‘Jesus Toast’ to a optical illusions with art, and of course, an exhibitionist dog. 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

  • Amazon and Local. Almost Friends.
    eCommerce without curation buries consumers in product noise.

    It began with a lamp, or should I say — a lack of a lamp. Many years ago, I’d purchased two bedside lamps from Ikea. Now, after a few fixes, one had gone to the home furnishing graveyard — leaving my wife’s side of the bed in darkness. It was time to grab the tool belt and keyboard and become: Home Fix-It Man! Cue dramatic music.I took a brief spin though Ikea’s website, but was quickly reminded that Ikea somehow is lacking the online gene. Their entire ecommerce experience is terrible in ways I can’t even begin to describe. Suffice it to say, it’s all of the stress of shopping at Ikea, but in the end — your shopping cart is empty. And, frankly my tastes had moved a bit more upscale since the last figures were purchased — I wanted nice fixtures.

    Next stop — Amazon. Amazon has built exactly what Jeff Bezos set out to build — “The Everything Store” as so well chronicled in Matt Stone’s new book. So, a few clicks later I was looking at Wall Sconces, Modern, 4 Stars or Better, Amazon Prime Shipping. The choices were in the hundreds, and narrowing by price and type of metal didn’t help much. Quickly — I found a great offer; $49 (stunningly low) with good reviews, and one click later — my shopping was done.

    If only it was that simple.

    Two days later I was installing the new wall fixture, only to find that my wife quickly pronounced it ” too hot!” I tried to shrug it off, but she was right. They were damn hot. So, back they went.

    Now here’s a place where Amazon has made a part of the retail process that was formerly terrible a breeze. Anyone who ever tried to return something to the now thankfully defunct Circuit City remembers the walk of shame and accusatory interrogation whenever anything needed to be returned or exchanged. Amazon simply smiles and give you your money back — a breeze.

    The only problem was — I still didn’t have bedside lamps. And here frankly, I was now overwhelmed with choice, and lacking information. Halogen or LED? Dimmable or not? What’s the difference between $149 and $649? Would it hold up? Did it feel good. Try as I may to buy from Amazon, lighting — and I dare say a growing list of categories — can’t be purchased on Amazon. Certain products need to be seen and touched. And Bezos’ Everything Store has crowded Amazon’s shelves with such massive stock, the the number of options without guidance or curation is becoming overwhelming.

    So, the next weekend — I headed down to the Mecca of consumer lighting — Lighting By Gregory on the Bowery in New York’s Lower East Side. I have to confess, I have a bit of longstanding problem with what my family euphemistically calls “lighting land.” When I go there, my credit card seems to levitate from my wallet and into their bank.

    After hours of googling and amazon shopping — I was discouraged. But the Lighting By Gregory salesman was immediately optimistic.


    I’d find a dimmable LED light, modern, and not that pricy — he had choices. The cloud lifted. One manufacturer who I liked he told me, in a hushed tone, was having “money troubles” and he wouldn’t recommend. Ah — knowledge! I was saved from the rabble of Amazon’s bounty. After half an hour of turning lights on and off, and exploring color temperatures and heat output — I zeroed in on a lamp I liked. Three times the cost of my Amazon bargain light that had been returned… and told the salesman to ring it up. A few minutes later he was back — sullen. It was out of stock, ordering it would take weeks. He didn’t even try to save the sale — he knew I was in search of instant lighting gratification.

    I went in with no intention to be one of those “showrooming” customers who visit a store and they slyly buy online. But there I was, snapping a picture of the lights model number — so I could go online and complete the purchase.

    Hours later the deed was done. Amazon, of course. Same price as retail — not a penny cheaper — and free shipping. As I closed the shopping cart I wondered, why had I simply not found this model within Amazon’s bounty? I looked again, it had been there — among the thousand choices, with a thin description and confusing consumer comments (“dimmable?” one said yes, another “No”). But Lighting By Gregory was curated and experienced. They only stocked quality goods, and their salesmen knew their products.

    Two days later — Amazon’s shipment arrived. The lights were perfect, installed and working in an hour. Home Repairman was able to return tools and hero’s cape to the closet.

    Yet in hindsight, I couldn’t help but think how much waste there was in the entire effort. The shipping and return of the first poorly chosen item, the salesman and overhead of Lighting By Gregory that wasn’t recouped, the salesman’s inability to point me to Amazon or another online retailer and get paid for the referral. Amazon shipped from Build.com, why couldn’t Gregory point me there with an affiliate number?

    Brick and mortar retail and online shopping need each other. In a world of infinite choice and overnight fulfillment — the wasted cycles on the item-return carousel are not only bad for the environment, but also for customers, and bad for business.

    So, while Amazon is building the ultimate end-run around curated retail — another web behemoth is looking for a better way. What exactly is eBay Now? And why did I need to go to Katz’s deli to find out? That’s part two:

    Part 2: “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along? eBay and Local Retail Go Steady” (coming soon)

  • Visit A Virtual 'Bates Motel' In New Website For A&E Series
    If you’ve always wanted to stay at Bates Motel (are you insane?!) then this new website may be the closest you’ll ever get.

    A&E has launched a new website for their “Psycho” prequel series, “Bates Motel” and now the user gets to explore the motel virtually in a first-person gaming experience.

    Visitors to the site are encouraged to look around the different motel rooms and even go inside the Bates family house to find clues about the mysteries that surround the motel and prepare for the new season.

    “Bates Motel” Season 2 premieres on A&E on Mar. 3.

  • Toddler Hears Clearly For The First Time, And His Reaction Is <em>Priceless</em>
    If you want to know what pure joy looks like, watch 22-month-old Dylan Lipton-Lesser hearing clearly for the first time.

    In the video above, posted to YouTube by his mothers, India Lipton and Shirley Lesser, he tests out his new hearing aids at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Dylan’s experienced hearing loss for most of his life, Lipton told The Huffington Post. But now, two months after getting his hearing aids, he loves listening to and playing music. Here he is on the piano:

  • The Week In Review: The Mac Turns 30
    This week, the Macintosh computer turned 30. (It’s an easy milestone for me to remember because the Mac and I share a birthday.) As someone who plugged away on a boxy little Mac SE from high school all the way through university, I can’t help but feel a great deal of personal tenderness for the Mac. It saw me through a lot: sappy screenplays banged out over summer holidays, and a guidebook for Johns Hopkins undergrads which I composed at the age of 21 with valiant but failed efforts to hide my pride — my first paying writing gig. But as Stephen Fry reminds us in an excellent piece in the Daily Telegraph, the original Mac was much more than just a cute new product (that now serves as a cue for pleasant nostalgia). It was, as Fry puts it, a revolution: “There were folders, windows, pull down menus, all of which could be operated and manipulated, not by keyboard commands but by this mystical magical mouse, a rolling pointing clicking device that completely altered the way you related to everything you did on your computer.” It’s easy to forget what a departure all that was. And how many naysayers were sure it would never last. Perhaps the best birthday present of all for the Mac is the fact that so few will pay the device’s anniversary much notice; not because the Mac isn’t important, but because it’s become so completely enmeshed with our daily existence that it’s hard for most of us to even contemplate a time before it was born. We take the Mac for granted, which in business can sometimes be the greatest compliment of all.


  • Save Energy AND Money This Winter With These 7 Home Improvements
    From DealNews’ Lou Carlozo:

    Energy savings is certainly on a lot of people’s minds as winter 2014 has kicked off in fearsome fashion across the United States. Yet savings know no season, and are sometimes affected by a timeline of when energy investments will have paid for themselves. Unfortunately most products don’t come with this information clearly stamped on the box, but that’s where we come in! Here we examine seven popular product categories to see how long it might take before you realize any returns on investments.

    Payback time is an important factor in determining your energy savings, but it should not be the sole factor in determining which appliance to buy, or home improvement investment to make. Sometimes, we spend money just to upgrade our quality of life, and certainly, a brand new refrigerator or windows will accomplish that. But these decisions also produce measurable savings that take the edge off the final bill, even as they contribute to a better environment and real energy efficiency. And if you’re on the fence about spending for your home, payback time is arguably the one variable that can act as a tiebreaker. Knowing you’ll see a real return in real time can provide, yes, real comfort in more ways than one.

  • A Bright Spot in the Dark Side of Technology
    It was a privilege and an honor for me to have the opportunity to interview John Hagel, who brings 30 years of experience of working at the intersection of business strategy and technology. As a management consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur, Hagel is the co-chairman of Deloitte‘s Center for the Edge, where he is helping to identify emerging business opportunities and persuade CEO’s to put them on their agenda. Hagel frequently blogs about business and technology strategy.

    John Hagel, Deloitte

    Deloitte’s Center for the Edge considers the digital technology infrastructure to be one of the core forces which is getting exponentially better every year. But Hagel says there is a “delicious paradox” being that the very same technologies that bring awesome opportunities and new possibilities, at same time bring mounting performance pressures, accelerating change and growing uncertainty. He calls this the “dark side of technology” and it has real implications for businesses that have been built around the notion of predictability, standardization and tight integration to remove inefficiencies.

    The effects of the “dark side” are showing up in research numbers. The Center for the Edge has documented that for all public companies in the U.S. since 1965 the return on assets has collapsed by 75%. Additionally, there is the declining age of the S&P 500, which has gone from 61 years in 1960 to just 16 years today. Hagel says the problem (and opportunity) is that both the digital technology components (computing, storage and bandwidth) as well as the infrastructure are not stabilizing which leads to companies that are running faster and faster yet falling farther and farther behind.

    According to Hagel, we are going into a period where there is going to be no stability, a period of punctuated disruption coming at a faster and faster rate. Businesses will have to adopt a different set of practices and rethink at the most basic level the institutions they have built to figure out how to not only survive, but thrive, in a world where exponential technology will continue to drive uncertainty, rapid change and instability.

    In his latest book, The Power of Pull, Hagel captures the essence of the changes going on in today’s business landscape. Here, he offers his advice (the bright spot) on how companies can survive, and even thrive, in this new kind of world.

    7 ways for individuals and institutions to thrive in these disruptive times:

    1. Practice the power of pull – According to Hagel; we are in the transition of going from a world of push to a world of pull. “It is harder to predict and forecast in an uncertain world and those who master the power of pull will survive,” says Hagel who offers the following three “levels of pull” for drawing out resources where and when you need them in a scalable way so you can operate in a world of increasing uncertainty:

    1. Access people and resources when and where you need them – a classic example of this is the powerful pull platform, Google.
    2. Attract people to you in unexpected ways – in an increasingly uncertain world we don’t even know what questions to ask or what to look for, so individuals need to enhance serendipity.
    3. Draw out the full potential of individuals and institutions – focus on learning faster together for more rapid advancement.

    These 3 levels together come into play in powerful ways in this new world and create opportunities. “Small moves smartly made can set very big things in motion if you have scalable pull platforms,” says Hagel.

    2. Focus on the long and very short term – The paradox of success is that the more successful we are, the more we come to rely on what brought us success and not even question it. As uncertain as the world is, executives need to fight the natural tendency in times of mounting pressure to shorten time horizons and instead take an outside-in perspective and engage in longer term thinking of where the world is headed. Hagel advises companies to look ahead and on a 10-15 year time frame develop a high-level view of what their market or industry might look like and what the implications are for their company. Without doing this companies get easily distracted by what’s going on in the short term and risk spreading their resources too quickly on too many things because they are in a reactive mode.

    Next, companies need to flip it around and focus on the next 6-12 months (not the typical next 1-5 years) and ask, “What are the 2 or 3 activities that will have the greatest potential to accelerate movement based on the larger goal?”

    3. Move to a model of scalable learning – Not only is scalable learning a different rational and focus for an institution, it is fundamentally opposed to the scalable efficiency model that is the predominant model for large companies today. If you are operating in an environment where predictability and low risk are the essence of success, this is no space to innovate and without that you are not going to learn. Efficiency does still matter, so the question becomes how to achieve it in an increasing volatile and uncertain world. Hagel believes the way to get the highest level of efficiency is through scalable learning.

    The idea behind the scalable learning model is that in a rapidly changing world the faster everyone can learn at scale the better we will be. Companies need to focus on broader eco-systems and connecting, mobilizing and learning from third parties rather than trying to do it all themselves. One of Hagel’s favorite quotes is by Bill Joy, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems: “No matter how many smart people you have in your organization, just remember there are a lot more smart people outside your organization.” Hagel says, “You will never scale unless you can find ways to connect with outside organizations and create relationships where you are all learning faster than you could on your own.”

    4. Tap into the power of corporate narratives – Hagel draws a distinction between stories and narratives; the later which he feels are powerful and will become very important to the pull thesis in terms of engaging at an emotional level. The essence of most stories is that they are self-contained. They are about “me” the story teller or about “those people”; not about “you” the listener. A narrative on the other hand is open-ended. There is no resolution yet; the resolution hinges on “you” and the choices you make will determine the outcome. “Millions of people have given their lives for narratives. How many people have given their lives over a story?” Hagel asks.

    5. Scale at the Edge – Since politics can get in the way of transforming the enterprise, Hagel says the best way to drive change is not by trying to transform the core but going out to an edge that has the potential to scale and ultimately become a new core of the business. Doing this allows change agents to demonstrate the different approaches to business that are going to be necessary on that edge and overtime pull more and more people and resources from the core to the edge to the point where the edge becomes a new core. Hagel calls this the “methodology of scaling edges“.

    6. Ask the right questions – Hagel says that one of the key changes in leadership in a rapidly changing world is that power comes less from the answers you have and more from the questions you ask. In this new world the powerful leaders are those who have the right questions and help to focus people on the questions that are most important. This interesting reframing of what leadership is all about, has to do with the kind of networks you build. The old world hub-and-spoke network where everyone was connected to the leader and the goal was to get as many followers as you could is being replaced with the building of mesh networks where leaders are helping to create platforms and environments where people can connect with each other around the questions they are framing. This helps to find the right answers and move the ball forward. We need to stop settling for the perfect answers to the wrong questions.

    7. Accept vulnerability as the path to earning trust -In this new world trust is more essential to achieving goals. Individuals and companies with a willingness to express vulnerability by admitting they don’t always have the answer will build trust. This is the polar opposite of the notion of building a personal brand where we present all of our strengths and accomplishments in the most compelling way and hide any weaknesses at the cost of undermining the brand.

    Being authentic will become increasingly important to participating in knowledge flows where a key issue in the interest of learning faster is acquiring tacit knowledge. Hagel explains that tacit knowledge is the most valuable form of knowledge, but the most difficult to share. It is the knowledge in our heads that comes from new experiences. We often have trouble articulating this type of knowledge and it does not flow easily, which makes it only accessible in the context of trust-based relationships. “If I trust you I will make an effort to try to frame the tacit knowledge I have,” says Hagel. Pulling this type of essential knowledge and learning places an increased importance on trust-based relationships.
    At the end of the day the only sustainable pull is around trust based relationships,” says Hagel, “it is the only way to amplify efforts so that small moves really do achieve amazing things.”

    You can watch the full interview with John Hagel here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 3PM EST as we host CXOTalk – connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields.

  • German TV: Snowden Says NSA Also Spies On Industry
    BERLIN (AP) — Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden claims in a new interview that the U.S. agency is involved in industrial espionage.

    German public television broadcaster ARD released a written statement before an interview airing Sunday night in which it quotes Snowden as saying that if German engineering company Siemens had information that would benefit the United States — but had nothing to do with national security needs — the National Security Agency would still use it. ARD did not give any further context and it was not clear what exactly Snowden accused the NSA of doing with such information.

    Snowden faces felony charges in the U.S. after revealing the NSA’s mass surveillance program. He has temporary asylum in Russia.

  • China 'Seriously Concerned' About U.S. Investigation Of Solar Imports
    BEIJING, Jan 26 (Reuters) – China’s commerce ministry called on the United States on Sunday to stop anti-dumping investigations into imports of solar power products from China, expressing “serious concern” and vowing to defend its producers.
    U.S. trade officials on Thursday opened investigations into imports of certain solar power products from China and Taiwan, a move that could have a major impact on the nation’s fast-growing solar market.
    The U.S. Department of Commerce said it initiated antidumping duty and countervailing duty investigations, which will assess whether the products are being sold in the United States below their fair value, or if their manufacturers receive inappropriate levels of foreign government subsidies.
    “The Chinese side expresses serious concern,” the commerce ministry said in a statement on its website. “China urges the United States again to carefully handle the current … investigations, be prudent in taking measures and terminate the investigation proceedings.”
    China will assess the impact on its solar industry and “resolutely defend” itself through various mechanisms, the ministry said.
    The investigations were sparked by a complaint at the end of last year by the U.S. unit of German solar manufacturer SolarWorld AG . The company at the time said it was seeking to close a loophole in a prior trade case that enabled Chinese solar panel producers to evade duties by using cells manufactured in other countries, mainly Taiwan.
    The Commerce Department investigation and a parallel inquiry by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) could open the door to expanding duties on some imported solar panels.
    In October 2012, the U.S. set steep duties on billions of dollars of solar products from China, but turned down pleas to expand the scope of its order to include Chinese panels made with non-Chinese solar cells. In response, many Chinese module producers simply began sourcing cells from Taiwan.
    The ITC is to make a preliminary ruling on whether there is a reasonable indication that imports from China or Taiwan materially injure, or threaten to injure, the local industry by Feb. 14. A negative finding would stop the investigations.
    If the ITC determines that the imports could be hurting the domestic industry, the Commerce department is to make preliminary determinations about subsidies in March and dumping in June. (Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee)

Mobile Technology News, January 26, 2014

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.

  • Maryland Mall Shooting: Police Disable Devices In Gunman's bag

    COLUMBIA, Maryland (AP) — A man carrying a shotgun opened fire at a busy shopping mall in suburban Baltimore on Saturday, killing two employees of a skate shop and then himself as panicked shoppers ran for cover, police said. Five others were injured.

    Police were still trying to determine the motive of the gunman who killed a man and a woman, both in their 20s, at a skate shop called Zumiez on the upper level of the mall in Columbia, a suburb of both Baltimore and Washington.

    Witnesses described hearing gunshots and screams as shoppers ducked into nearby stores and hid behind locked doors. Many found cover in stockrooms and barricaded themselves until the arrival of police, who searched store to store. By late afternoon, the mall had been cleared of shoppers and employees.

    Howard County Police Chief William J. McMahon said at a news conference that authorities had difficulty identifying the gunman because of concerns he was carrying explosives and were proceeding with an “abundance of caution.” By late Saturday, police said they had tentatively identified the gunman but declined to release his name while they followed up on leads.

    A news release Saturday night said that police found and disabled “two crude devices that appeared to be an attempt at making explosives using fireworks.” Police were searching the mall with dogs overnight, which is standard procedure, and the mall was to remain closed Sunday.

    Someone called the police emergency dispatcher at around 11:15 a.m. to report a shooting at the mall. Police responded to the scene within 2 minutes and found three people dead — including the apparent gunman near a gun and ammunition — either inside or outside the shop, which sells skateboards, clothing and accessories. McMahon said police were confident there was a single gunman.

    The mall is at the center of the town and it typically opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. It was busy with shoppers and employees when the shots rang out.

    Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Brianna Benlolo and 25-year-old Tyler Johnson. Both worked at Zumiez.

    Benlolo’s grandfather, John Feins, said in a telephone interview from Florida that his granddaughter had a 2-year-old son and that the job at Zumiez was her first since she went back to work after her son’s birth.

    “She was all excited because she was the manager there,” he said.

    He said he had spoken with his daughter, Brianna’s mother, earlier in the day, but didn’t know who the gunman was or whether the person knew his granddaughter.

    “It’s senseless. It’s totally, totally senseless,” he said.

    He described his daughter’s family as a military family that had moved frequently and had been in Colorado before moving to Maryland about two years ago. He said his granddaughter was on good terms with her son’s father, and they shared custody.

    “I mean what can you say? You go to work and make a dollar and you got some idiot coming in and blowing people away,” he said.

    Zumiez CEO Rick Brooks released a statement that the company is making counseling available for employees in the area.

    “The Zumiez team is a tight knit community and all of our hearts go out to Brianna and Tyler’s families,” he wrote.

    Howard County General Hospital said it had treated and released five patients. One patient had a gunshot wound, while at least three other patients sustained other injuries.

    Joan Harding was shopping with her husband, David, for a tiara for their granddaughter’s 18th birthday. She said she heard something heavy falling, followed by gunshots and people running.

    “My husband said, ‘Get down!’ and the girl that worked in the store said, ‘Get in the back,'” Harding said. That is where they hid until police searched the mall and signaled it was safe to leave.

    McMahon said it wasn’t clear whether the gunman and victims knew each other. He said officers did not fire any shots when they arrived at the scene. The police news release said it appears the gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

    Tonya Broughton was with a friend getting facials for a “girls’ morning out,” she said. “The only thing I heard was all the people running and screaming and saying ‘There’s a shooter! There’s a shooter!'” she said.

    Wearing a gel face mask, she and her friend hid in a Victoria’s Secret store.


    Associated Press writers Jessica Gresko and Martin Di Caro in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Briefly: SoundHound adds Grammy's feature, new Staccal 2 calendar app
    Music search app Sound Hound has announced its addition of Grammy Awards content, featuring real-time awards show information as well as details regarding Sunday night’s performers and award nominees. During the show, users watching the show broadcast live on TV can use SoundHound to obtain the names of the artists performing, as they perform. Additionally, SoundHound will provide real-time updates of award winners, and the latest tweets from the official ‘#grammys’ hashtag.


  • Tennis coaching gets a smart racquet
    Hi-tech tennis in the palm of your hand
  • Microsoft Surface: It's on a roll (and why it exists)
    Microsoft saw revenue and unit shipments double for its first branded PC when it announced earnings this week. Surface is here to stay, apparently.
  • Alligator Crittercams Offer Unprecedented Look Into Reptiles' Lives (VIDEO)
    Alligators have a reputation of being gnarly, ferocious beasts that bear an all-too-similar resemblance to their dinosaur relatives. It’s an understandable assumption — American alligators can be up to 15 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds — and because they’re apex predators, will eat just about anything, according to National Geographic.

    But research by the the University of Florida and National Geographic’s Crittercam program has shifted assumptions about their eating habits. The groups outfitted 15 adult gators in coastal Florida with the “Crittercams” — essentially wildlife cameras that are attached to the animals themselves — and they’ve provided unprecedented footage of gator behavior both above and underwater.

    The cameras showed the reptiles hunting most often at night, with the best foraging success between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. and when submerged underwater, according to the Los Angeles Times. Additionally, footage showed gators feasting on smaller prey like turtles and crayfish, rather than bigger mammals that they’re assumed to eat. This is the first time this behavior has been documented in wild American alligators and will help scientists better understand their behavior, explained ScienceDaily. The results of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.

    As shown in the video, installing the cameras was no easy feat. The researchers had to catch the alligators, hold them down and keep their jaws shut as they fastened the cameras onto the gators to fit like a backpack. The contraptions release themselves after set times, which enables scientists to track down the cameras with a radio signal and not burden the gators with Crittercams for life.

    American alligators live throughout the southeastern United States from Florida to North Carolina, and occupy primarily freshwater habitats, like swampy areas, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Previously on the brink of extinction, these semi-aquatic reptiles have recovered and are now listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

  • Courtney Love Wins Twitter Defamation Case
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury says Courtney Love did not defame one of her former lawyers in a 2010 Twitter post.

    Friday’s verdict comes after an eight-day trial that centered on Love’s statements against San Diego-based lawyer Rhonda Holmes. Love hired Holmes to pursue a case against the estate of her late husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain. The case was never filed and Holmes said Love fired her.

    The singer’s tweet suggested that Holmes had been “bought off.”

    Attorneys for Love maintained that the Hole singer meant for the post to be a private message and few people saw it.

    Holmes’ lawyers sought $8 million in damages.

    Love attended and testified at the trial but was not present when the verdict was read.


    Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .

  • Social Media: Has Your Addiction Gone Too Far?
    Twitter. Facebook. Tumblr. Instagram. In the past few years, social media has absolutely blown up, creating countless opportunities for people to communicate, without actually meeting face-to-face. Though it certainly has its benefits — Skyping with loved ones, connected with long lost friends — social media has rapidly taken over many people’s social lives, impacting their self-esteem, social skills and emotional health.

    Facebook is among one of the most addicting (and therefore concerning) social networks. Nearly a quarter of Facebook users check their accounts five times or more per day. Furthermore, in a study conducted by IDC for Facebook, 25 percent of smartphone owners ages 18-44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them. This addiction to social media and technology is definitely very concerning for society as a whole; how will we be able to effectively communicate in person with another while we are glued to our smartphone screens the whole time? If you consider yourself a self-proclaimed social media addict, or simply want to spend less time using social networks, here are some simple tips to break your addiction:

    1. Admit you have a problem. Though this might sound a little AA, admitting you have a problem will help you forgive yourself for it and realize that you need a change.

    2. List out all the reasons why you go on social media excessively in the first place. Are you bored? Do you not like the people you are surrounded by? Aim to fulfill these underlying needs in other ways; if you’re bored, take your dog for a walk, call an old friend or pick up a book from the library. Your news feed will still be there when you get back!

    3. Balance your social media life with offline interactions. Getting off your computer or smartphone and hanging out with friends or family will not only strike a balance between offline and online interactions, but will also be an instant mood booster!

    4. That being said, put a limit on the amount of time spent using social media. If you need to study for a big test tomorrow and keep getting distracted by Facebook, you can even use a program such as this one to limit how much time you spend on the website. After your preset time limit is filled, you’re done for the day!

  • Michaels Arts Supply Store Warns Of Possible Data Breach

    By Jim Finkle
    BOSTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Michaels Companies Inc, the biggest U.S. arts and crafts retailer, said it is investigating a possible security breach on its payment card network and advised customers to check their financial statements for fraudulent activity.
    If confirmed, it would mark the second known data breach since 2011 at Michaels, which is preparing to sell shares in an initial public offering.
    “We are concerned there may have been a data security attack on Michaels that may have affected our customers’ payment card information,” Michaels Chief Executive Chuck Rubin said in a statement on Saturday. “We are taking aggressive action to determine the nature and scope of the issue.”
    The warning comes in the wake of a massive data breach at Target Corp over the holiday shopping season, and suggests that hackers may be attacking U.S. retailers in a spree the extent of which is yet to be fully understood.
    Target last month said hackers had stolen some 40 million payment card records and accessed 70 million customers’ records. Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has also disclosed a data breach that compromised data from about 1.1 million cards.
    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation last week warned retailers to expect more attacks and said the agency has reviewed 20 incidents over the past year that were similar to the recent breaches.
    Michaels said federal investigators and an outside forensics firm were investigating to determine if there had been a breach. The company said it decided to warn the public and launch a probe into the matter after hearing that there had been an increase in fraud involving cards of customers who had shopped at its stores.
    It was not immediately clear how many cards might have been affected, when an attack might have occurred, or whether the systems were currently compromised. A Michaels representative declined to elaborate on the statement.
    U.S. Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan told Reuters his agency was investigating the matter.

    Michaels, whose major investors are Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital LP, last year filed documents with the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission to go public. The company resubmitted its IPO documents late last month following a restructuring.
    In a high-profile 2011 attack, hackers replaced some 84 PIN pads on payment-card terminals at a small number of Michaels stores, resulting in the theft of about 94,000 payment card numbers, according to Department of Justice attorneys who eventually prosecuted two men charged in that case. ()
    Last year the Irving, Texas-based retailer settled a class-action consumer lawsuit related to the matter, without admitting to any wrongdoing.
    Michaels disclosed the 2011 attack in an S-1 registration statement that it filed with the Securities and Exchange in March of last year.
    “This is devastating for them because this is the second time in a row,” said Gartner security analyst Avivah Litan. “The public and the credit card companies are going to slap their wrist twice as hard because they’ll say they haven’t learned their lesson and that they can’t be trusted.”
    But that criticism might be tempered somewhat, given that other retailers have been breached, Litan said.
    The FBI has warned retailers about cyber criminals using “memory-parsing” software, also known as “RAM scrapers.” When a customer swipes a payment card at checkout, the computer grabs data from the magnetic strip and transfers it to the retailer’s payment processing provider. While the data is encrypted during the process, RAM scrapers extract the information from the computer’s live memory, where it briefly appears in plain text.
    RAM scraping technology has been around for a long time, but its use has increased in recent years and cyber criminals have added features to make it more difficult for victims to detect the malicious software on their networks.
    “They have gotten much more sophisticated,” said Daniel Clemens, chief executive of the cyber security firm Packet Ninjas, whose firm investigates credit card breaches at retailers. “We are in a cycle where the incidence of these attacks will just continue to grow.”

  • Rich Businessman Compares Treatment Of The Rich To The Holocaust
    Venture capitalist Thomas Perkins wrote a letter to the editors at the Wall Street Journal, comparing the plight of the rich to the Holocaust, called “Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?”… and the WSJ published it.

    “I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent,’ namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich,'” Perkins writes. Thomas Perkins, one of the founders of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, was comparing taxes on the super rich to the slaughter of millions in the Holocaust.

    “From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent,” Perkins continues. “There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these ‘techno geeks’ can pay.”

    Perkins ends his rant with: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

    Obviously, there has been backlash to the letter. “It certainly proves you can get rich without being very thoughtful, perceptive, or intelligent,” Slate’s Matt Yglesias writes. More people took to Twitter to express their outrage:

    Serious rich-dude bubble to see “treatment” of rich by progressives as parallel to Nazi treatment of Jews… http://t.co/wATqtmPxQe

    — Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) January 25, 2014

    Late to this wild letter to @WSJ. Do people really think like this!? Letters: Progressive Kristallnacht Coming? http://t.co/mviFzonaL5

    — Matthew Campbell (@MattCampbel) January 25, 2014

    Venture capitalist warns that Occupy, etc. will lead to “progressive Kristallnacht,” gets that printed in the @WSJ: http://t.co/Xw9S0zUYgc

    — Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) January 25, 2014

    Rich idiot warns of looking “progressive Kristallnacht”: http://t.co/Ik228BONLq

    — Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) January 25, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

  • Enterprise Software: Simplicity Drives Customer Benefit
    I recently spoke with Stan Swete, chief technology officer at Workday, about simplification of enterprise software to drive increased adoption and customer benefit. With 30 years of industry experience, Swete is helping to drive Workday’s modern approach in a familiar space by simplifying the delivery of enterprise software applications so that they deliver more value for customers. This vets out to a system that is easier to use, upgrade, and support than existing applications. In a technology world where the only constant is change, Workday remains focused on providing an architecture that can keep it’s hundreds of thousands of customers current on the same release and deliver frequent and continuous updates without being cost prohibitive. Here Swete shares his strategies for simplifying enterprise software.

    Stan Swete, CTO Workday

    6 ways to make enterprise software easier for customers:

    Simplify usability by adopting a consumer mindset: Workday’s simple but never simplistic approach to enterprise apps stems from a focus on what consumer internet companies are doing instead of what other enterprise apps are doing. Using the consumer internet as a model for user experience has enabled them to see things from the eye of the customer and simplify what they are doing. Simplicity is important on many levels, but with regards to the user interface, Swete recommends that enterprise software companies make apps as simple as possible from the user and vendor perspective. According to a recent TechRepublic survey, only 27% of IT leaders are very happy with their current enterprise software. How are they missing the mark 73% of the time? The key is to develop simple and easy to use solutions that just works.

    Simplify the structure of apps to optimize seamless upgrades: Typical enterprise applications are defined in terms of thousands or tens of thousands of tables. Swete tells us that Workday has a fixed set of tables that number fewer than 20. This completely different approach reduces complexity making change easier. When the company drives a lot of new feature changes, the schema they use in their systems does not have to change, facilitating more frequent updates while being cost effective.

    Swete says that to build simple, less complex enterprise software apps that move and evolve over time means frequent, continuous updates and keeping customers current which requires an infrastructure that supports that. This requires a complete re-architecture, using technology to make it as simple as possible and reducing the moving parts to keep things moving forward.

    Migrate to cloud with a simple architecture that’s adaptable: “I don’t think you can be on a really complex architecture, and migrate complex implementations to the cloud and have them be capable of being changed over time,” says Swete. Cloud expert, David Linthicum, says that “People have a tendency not to think about architecture, but the fact is cloud computing does not replace enterprise architecture.”

    According to Swete, in order to simplify the architecture enterprises will need to do some specific things. Workday has taken the relational database completely out of the design of their apps which they think leads to the simplified schema they need to be able to move forward. They have also gone to a completely definitional development of their apps; they don’t define logic through coding but by filling out forms to create metadata that provides the logic. In addition to the architecture, businesses need to ask if they can adapt the software to meet their needs in a simple way. The question of migrating to cloud is in the results. According to Swete, “If your architecture can allow you to keep customers current on a release and deliver frequent updates without being cost prohibitive, then you have the right architecture for the cloud.”

    Mobile first user experience: Mobile is super-important to the enterprise application industry. Workday is increasingly widening the footprint of the functionality that is available on mobile with every update. “When companies shift to mobile the bar raises again with regards to user interface where the focus need to be on getting to the point,” says Swete. He says their best UI designers are the mobile designers and with a lot of mobile-first design happening, they find that a lot of mobile designs feed back into the web browser. Swete believes that a lot can be learned from this idea of simplicity when it comes to mobile design where fields are taken off of screens, clutter is reduced and more white space is added, resulting in a more presentable solution.

    Workday takes the attitude of treating mobile as a modern requirement of apps and feels that when you buy the app you should get mobile access; it should not be sold as an add-on product or platform. Sure it’s nice to offer something for free but there is more here than meets the eye. When you offer mobile as an add-on, you are back to adding complexity and undermining the ability to continuously move forward rapidly. When mobile is offered for free there is no need to buy a product or platform that will need to be installed and integrated.

    Centralized services with intuitive, self-service UI: Despite the fact that we are in a bad economy there is still a squeeze for talent in the tech industry. Swete says it’s the toughest hiring environment he has seen in 30 years. The fact that the competition is tougher and more companies are going for same type of resources is causing companies to refocus on what strategic HR means. For Workday this meant listening to requests from customers to be able to use HCM apps to more directly engage the workforce. This led to the development of a unified view that provides one place to go to get all the information, including a talent profile that aids companies in recruiting internal talent to help combat the external talent shortage. They also added an engagement piece which widened the usage of the system to allow employees to configure their own information, so they can publish information about themselves that they can share out and find others with common interests. “We want systems that can heighten engagement – an important element for retention and recruiting.”

    Insightful reporting: You should be able to get information out of your systems without hiring a data scientist. Swete recognizes that as Big Data becomes more relevant, data scientists will be in greater demand at large enterprises, but it is his goal that at Workday you won’t ever need to wait for the data scientist to show up to get more information out of your apps. “With all the data that is available today companies ought to be able to get insight out of these transaction systems without the need of data scientists,” says Swete. At Workday we have people taking deeper looks at the data, which should be an important part of any modern business. Through Big Data analytics, Workday is adding to the sophistication of the data and giving it a place in the cloud and equipping customers with a tool to do things with the data without having to be a data scientist.

    You can watch the full interview with Stan Swete here. Please join me and Michael Krigsman every Friday at 3PM EST as we host CXOTalk – connecting with thought leaders and innovative executives who are pushing the boundaries within their companies and their fields

  • The Rapid Spread of Misinformation Online

    Blaming Twitter for misinformation is easy, but ignores the social and political context. How can we understand such large volumes of data that move so quickly?

    Any online information is part of a larger and more complex ecology, with many interconnected factors. It’s therefore very difficult to fully map the processes involved in the rapid spread of misinformation or to identify where this information originates. Moreover, we should endeavor to look beyond the specific medium and consider the political-cultural setting in which misinformation spreads and is interpreted.

    During the UK riots in the summer of 2011, for example, a rumor spread on Twitter that a children’s hospital had been attacked by looters. The story fit with people’s preconceptions of who the rioters were and what they might be capable of, and it caught the public imagination. But interestingly, it was the Twitter community that swiftly debunked the rumor, killing it off well ahead of official confirmation from the hospital and media.

    Misinformation of a different kind occurred in the United States during the December 2012 Newtown shootings and the April 2013 Boston bombings. In the Newtown case, online and mainstream media misidentified a Facebook page as that of the shooter. After the Boston bombings, social media users engaged in online detective work, examining images taken at the scene and wrongfully claiming that a missing student was one of the bombers. But in this case, mainstream media outlets also played a part in perpetuating and validating the misinformation by publishing images of the wrong suspects.

    In another recent example, again at the intersection between social and mainstream media, hoaxes emerged during the Turkish protests that began with the response to redeveloping Taksim Square. Twitter ‘provocateurs’ were condemned as responsible for spreading misinformation, including a photograph of crowds at the Eurasia Marathon, which was presented as ‘a march from the Bosporus Bridge to Taksim.’ But blaming Twitter ignores the context; the country’s mainstream news media had been slow to respond to the protests, creating a vacuum in which misinformation easily spread, especially when referenced by foreign media outlets.

    It can also be difficult to establish what ‘fake’ actually means. One popular image shared during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 showed soldiers standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, braving the approaching storm. Unlike the pictures of the marathon on Bosporus Bridge, the framing of the image did not place radically different meaning on its subject, but it also didn’t show what people thought they were looking at. The image had been taken during an earlier storm and was undoubtedly ‘real’, but had no relevance to Hurricane Sandy.

    It’s now common practice for news organizations to source images online, so we must get better at understanding how these images can be verified. Storyful, which describes itself as “the first news agency of the social media age,” is developing invaluable guidelines and techniques that can help with this essential verification process. An appreciation of the ways in which media influence each other, as well as broader cultural and social issues, may help us understand the content of such images.

    It’s also imperative to highlight the volume and rapid dissemination of online misinformation. When you are dealing with social media, you are dealing with big data. It’s simply not possible to read the one billion tweets produced every two and a half days. In order to properly understand this data, we need to make use of computer-assisted processing and combine this with human evaluation to put information into context.

    Finally, we should remember that every case of misinformation is unique and should be considered independently, paying attention to the complexities of the ecosystem it circulates within. In terms of interpreting misinformation, human evaluation will remain essential to put information into context, and context is ultimately what this is all about.

    This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 22-25). The Forum’s Network of Global Agenda Councils consists of more than 80 select groups of experts, each focused on key topics in the global arena, that collectively serve as an advisory board to the Forum and other interested parties, such as governments and international organizations. Read all the posts in this series forecasting global trends for 2014 here.

  • Iowa GOP Apologizes After Posting Controversial Photo About Racists
    The chairman of the Iowa GOP has apologized after a controversial photo about racists was posted to the group’s Facebook page.

    The photo contained a flow chart titled “IS SOMEONE A RACIST?” The flow chart implied anyone a person didn’t like who is white is a racist, and all other people aren’t racist. (You can see the image at The Daily Beast.)

    Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker called the post “in bad taste and inappropriate.”

    “We apologize to those whom were offended, have removed the post and are ensuring it does not happen again,” he wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

    Republicans from the Hawkeye State have had other troubles recently.

    GOP Senate candidate Mark Jacobs made headlines in December when he said “you have to connect with women on an emotional level.” The Washington Post reports the state’s governor, Republican Terry Branstad, is leading a push to take control of the Iowa party back from those whose views are more in line with the former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

    See Spiker’s apology for the Iowa GOP’s “racist” post below:

  • Nollywood, Piracy and the Millennial Crisis

    Dammy Krane, an emerging superstar in the Nigerian music scene, was born in 1993. This was the same year that the then military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, annulled what many still believe was Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections yet. The country was thrown into chaos as a result, President Babangida “stepped aside,” and we ended up with General Sani Abacha as head of state. He went on to lead Nigeria for five of its darkest years before passing away.

    About the same time, the new movie industry in Nigeria was born. In 1992, a businessman, Kenneth Nnebue, who imported loads of videocassettes but couldn’t sell them, since CDs were becoming the vogue, decided to shoot a movie on those empty videocassettes and sell them as home videos. The movie Living in Bondage, shot in the Igbo language, took the entire country by storm regardless of tribe, and it inspired other businessmen and filmmakers to make their own movies. Nollywood was born.

    The movie industry took on a life of its own, and by its 10th anniversary, it was already being called the third largest movie industry in the world (based on the number of movies produced). Today it is ranked second only behind India’s Bollywood, and is the number one movie market in the world for movies made in the English language — which makes it bigger than even Bollywood and Hollywood. With annual revenues of about $600 million, it’s impossible not to be impressed with the industry born just two decades ago with no structure in place.

    Sometime around the late 90s, Nigerian music also started to experience a rebirth. Cable and satellite television became popular in the country and television stations that played music videos across Africa emerged. Most videos that made the cut at the time were South African, as Nigerians paid little or no attention to quality. But the more people saw the South African videos, the more people realized the need to step up and do better. And step up they did. Today, no party anywhere on the continent is complete without a good number of Nigerian songs.

    Nollywood is huge and the Nigerian music industry is the pacesetter in Africa. But something continues to hold them back: intellectual property protection. Major record labels and film studios are still not convinced enough to come (back) into the country, as piracy is still rife and distribution is a major problem.

    Pirates control entertainment in Nigeria, where the situation has evolved from them being faceless figures to unofficial distributors for these artists. It’s an interesting formula. Albums and movies are produced and taken to the pirates, in exchange for a large payout and the relinquishing of the artists’ rights over their works. It seemed like a wise financial move at the start, seeing as artists initially struggled to sell units worth anything close to $5,000, while the deals with the pirates had some of them cutting checks for between $40,000 and $150,000. But it isn’t sustainable.

    Dammy Krane might have had a different story if he had grown up two decades ago, without the option of exploring his passion for entertainment — or if he had grown up in a future where piracy had undermined the business model of the entertainment industry. He, like many others in film, directing, production, styling, IT and the many extensions to the industry, is happily employed today simply because that option now exists. There are many like him who know how important the entertainment industry is, both personally and to the Nigerian economy — which is why the distribution problems must be fixed.

    One of the broad themes of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 is the “millennial crisis,” and this is definitely a crisis that needs to be tackled. Distribution, or the lack of it, is arguably the single most important piece of the puzzle still missing in a sector that has grown beyond Nigeria into the entire continent. There is a need to make sure that we begin to find solutions before things get even more troublesome. Unemployment is already one of the biggest problems facing Africa, with militancy and terrorism on the rise. What better way is there to engage the minds of young people in Lagos and Kano and Port Harcourt, cities that already have thriving entertainment scenes?

    There is no doubt that this problem needs a long-term and sustainable fix, but what we must begin to do in the short term is show a commitment to start to fix it. At 21, Nollywood is now an adult and there isn’t a better time to show that it can stand on its own and be that powerful force that it should be. It can be done. We must act now.

    This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 22-25). The Forum’s Global Shapers community is a network of city-based hubs developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, their achievement and their drive to make a contribution to their communities. Read all the posts in the series here.

  • Mars One Candidates Debate Giving Up Everything To Move To Red Planet (VIDEO)
    Do you have what it takes to pack your bags and leave everyone on Earth behind?

    A group of potential Red Planet residents recently opened up about their fears and hopes for moving to Mars on HuffPost Live — just check out the highlights above and full segment below.

    These candidates are among the 1,058 elite shortlisted from a pool of 200,000 applicants to take part in the Mars One initiative, which is an effort to send colonists on a one-way trip to the Red Planet.

    “I’ve been having conversations obviously with my friends and family and loved ones and I don’t think it’s a very easy process,” Mars One candidate Sue Ann Pien says in the video. Yet, she’s still determined to become one of the first-ever human Martians.

    Mars One will continue to sift through applicants, planning to establish the first human settlement on Mars in 2024.

  • Supersymmetric Particles May Lurk In Universe, Physicist Says

    LONDON — Squarks, selectrons and neutralinos may be lurking in the universe, say physicists who suggest supersymmetry — the idea that every known particle has a yet-to-be-discovered sister particle — is not dead, despite the lack of evidence found in its favor.

    The world’s most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), has yet to find evidence of the existence of such sparticles (supersymmetric particles), though perhaps physicists are not interpreting the data in the right way, said particle theorist Ben Allanach of Cambridge University.

    Speaking here at the Royal Society conference “Before, behind and beyond the discovery of the Higgs Boson” on Tuesday (Jan. 21), Allanach proposed that the LHC might detect the elusive supersymmetric particles once it is up and running again next year with much higher energies. [Sparticles to Neutrinos: The Coolest Little Particles in the Universe]

    The underground accelerator at the CERN laboratory, located near Geneva, is currently switched off until early 2015 for a technical upgrade, which will allow it to smash protons together at the machine’s near-maximum energy of 14 teraelectronvolts (TeV).

    The first run of the LHC at 7 TeV culminated with the successful detection of what is widely believed to be the Higgs boson, a particle thought to explain how other particles get their mass. The discovery completed the Standard Model of particle physics and earned the two scientists who worked on the theory the Nobel Prize.

    But the collider has so far failed to produce any evidence of supersymmetry. Also known as SUSY, it is one of the leading theories physicists have put forward as an extension of the Standard Model of physics.

    Such an extension is needed to explain the remaining mysteries in the universe that the Standard Model does not account for, such as the nature of dark matter, the invisible stuff that is thought to make up most of the matter in the universe. So far, it has not been possible to observe it directly.

    Mysterious heavy ‘partners’

    According to the supersymmetry theory, the early universe was filled with very heavy supersymmetric particles — exact copies of the particles that exist today, only much heavier. Over time, these particles disappeared, decaying into dark-matter particles and so-called ordinary particles, such as quarks and leptons.

    “Supersymmetric particles are not around today, [except for] perhaps in dark matter,” Allanach said. So the only way to find these elusive heavy supersymmetric “partners” to the ones in today’s universe is by producing them in the lab, via proton collisions at very high energies. When protons collide with each other at near the speed of light, as they do inside the LHC, they can produce new, exotic particles alongside known particles. [Images: Dark Matter Throughout the Universe]

    If sparticles exist, they are expected to appear as jets of hadrons — composite particles made of quarks — streaming out of proton-proton collisions. The momentum of these jets would not be balanced.

    This missing momentum would be a signal of a supersymmetric neutralino particle, a hypothetical particle that is the leading candidate for dark matter. The neutralino “acts like a thief, stealing away momentum without leaving any trace in the detector,” said Allanach.

    Data loopholes

    So far, neither the neutralino nor any other supersymmetric particle has been found. But Allanach said that to net them, researchers need to account for a loophole in the way they read the collision data.

    This loophole is the existence of so-called multiple solutions, or several ways to interpret the results of proton-proton collisions. “We’ve found out how to find these multiple solutions, and it is now possible to check on a case-by-case basis whether your interpretation is safe or not,” Allanach said.

    “For instance, one fixes the model details, and thinks the masses and interaction strengths of the supersymmetric particles are set,” he said. “But the multiple solutions have different masses and interaction strengths for the supersymmetric particles, meaning that they would look different in the detector.”

    For example, a researcher may be looking for particles with a certain mass. But there could be another solution — one where the particles would have a slightly different mass, and they would then decay in slightly different ways.

    In that case, “the pattern of the collision in the LHC could actually be different,” said Allanach.

    His team has already applied the multiple-solutions method to check the data from the LHC’s first run that lasted from 2010 to 2013, but still hasn’t been able to find any evidence of supersymmetry.

    Even so, Allanach remains hopeful. “With much more energy, the LHC will be able to produce heavier supersymmetric particles, so hopefully, we’ll discover them then,” he said. “The real job will be to take the data apart, look at the measurements, try and work out precisely what’s going on, not to misinterpret anything.”

    Giving up?

    Physicist Paris Sphicas of the University of Athens, who works at CERN, said there are so many parameters in the supersymmetry theory (SUSY) to explore that “it can never be declared dead.”

    “We really think that the LHC will see the evidence; we just need more energy,” Sphicas told LiveScience. “But SUSY remains a well-motivated, much-anticipated, although-yet-unseen extension to the Standard Model.”

    Renowned CERN physicist John Ellis agrees with Allanach and Sphicas.

    “I think that the physics case for supersymmetry has, if anything, improved with the LHC’s first run, in the sense that, for example, supersymmetry predicted that the Higgs [boson particle] should weigh less than 130 gigaelectronvolts, and it does,” Ellis said.

    “Of course, we haven’t seen any direct signs of supersymmetric particles, which is disappointing, but it’s not tragic,” Ellis added. “The LHC will shortly almost double its energy — we’re expecting eventually to get maybe a thousand times more collisions than have been recorded so far. So we should wait and see what happens at least with the next run of the LHC.”

    And if the LHC’s next run does fail to reveal any sparticles, there is still no reason to give up on looking for them, he said. In that case, new colliders with even higher energies should be built, for collisions at energies as high as 100 TeV.

    “I’m not giving up on supersymmetry,” Ellis told LiveScience. “Individual physicists have to make their own choices, but I am not giving up.”

    Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook& Google+. Original article on LiveScience. Follow the author on Twitter @SciTech_Cat.

    Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • The Role of Connectivity in Reshaping the World

    For many of us, the idea of leaving home without our mobile phone or tablet, or having no access to the Internet or to our e-mail, for any great length of time, is unthinkable. In today’s tech-driven world, the latest electronic gadgetry — be it a tablet, smartphone, games console or even wearable devices — are our constant companions and the new objects of desire for tech-savvy consumers.

    These are part of fundamental shifts in consumer behavior, which also, I believe, have huge implications for us in the business world. The reason for this is that besides the expensive price tags, all of these devices have another feature in common. They allrely on connectivity in order for users to make full use of them. Welcome to the ‘Connected World,’ where we are connected to everyone and everything.

    The Digital Enterprise

    There is more power vested with the individual, thanks to the widespread availability of mobile devices and instant access to data, information and knowledge at our fingertips. This era is characterized by real ‘people power’; no matter where we are in the world, we can connect with others, share our thoughts and circulate information. Consumers have more power than ever to intervene, influence and impact transactions and events in real time.

    These consumer shifts are now driving massive changes in the enterprise both in terms of the services delivered and organization’s own ‘modus operandi.’ The business leaders of tomorrow, who will govern, steer and make policy are all growing up in this Digital Age, and already speak its language fluently. The next generation of Enterprises will be characterized by geographically distributed workforces that have the ability to create a culture of innovation and openness. Co-innovation is at the core of the ecosystems in which they operate.

    The future will be one in which truly connected, digital enterprises have the ability to connect with customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders via multiple channels, from digital signage to mobile platforms or by harnessing the power of social media. At the same time, we are on the frontier of big advancements in areas such as M2M (machine to machine) communications, which are delivering solutions to solve real business challenges – from remote diagnostics and preventative maintenance in the automotive industry to improving supply chain management in manufacturing.

    Companies today ignore digital connectivity at their own peril. If the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas, 140 characters on Twitter has the power to dent a brand the other side of the world as a Telecom service provider discovered after ignoring a consumer complaint. But it’s not always negative; social media for example, can be a powerful force for positive change. We have real life stories of this amongst our own organization, for example where a colleague’s four-year-old child used Facebook chat to alert medical authorities during a medical emergency at home.

    Connectivity is Key

    As such, there has never been a greater need for seamless connectivity. This is a world in which high-speed Internet access should be available to us all, wherever we are, regardless of demographics, occupation or geography. Seamless connectivity is the foundation on which real technological advancements will be built and for some time, telecommunication service providers have been laying the foundations for the transition to the connected world.

    However there is still more work to do in order to fully realize the potential that the Digital Age has to offer. To support this change, the telecommunications industry needs to adapt and innovate and close cooperation is required. Ultimately, the infrastructure needs to be in place to meet the demands of the next generation network, the anticipated explosion in mobile data use and to avoid the capacity crunch. Continued investment will be needed to support a wider spectrum of mobile services.

    We need to remove regulatory constraints so that we can develop infrastructures that are based on open standards, providing maximum benefit for consumers at minimum cost to the operators. Global Interoperability, of course, is vital to enable connectivity amongst new systems, apps and services and targeted regulation will also boost innovation and help to create healthy competition. The full cooperation of regulators is imperative in markets where services and products are marketed in neighboring geographies. Network sharing is a further enabler for connectivity and one that has been widely used by operators for some time. In the recent wake of technological advancements, anti-trust issues and less binding agreements are being considered, in order to overcome the complexities at a financial, technical and regulatory level.

    Given the vast amounts of data pouring across networks, in today’s connected world, we also need to achieve the right balance between data sharing, privacy and security. This is of particular importance in the telecommunications industry, where customer data is shared and can be used for cross-selling and will have further significance given the rise of services such as M2M, mobile money and mobile banking.

    Across the entire technology value chain, ‘Connectivity is King’ and this will be the building blocks upon which a truly connected, digital world will be created. The possibilities are limitless: from fully automated cars, to ‘smart homes’ and virtual offices. It points to faster more dynamic ways of doing business and will be the catalyst for advancements that will impact all our lives from home to leisure and work. Ultimately, connectivity has the power to reshape our world.

    This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The World Economic Forum to mark the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2014 (in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, Jan. 22-25). The Forum’s Strategic Partner community comprises a select group of leading global companies representing diverse regions and industries that have been selected for their alignment with the Forum’s commitment to improving the state of the world. Read all the posts in the series here.

  • Here's All You Need To Know About The State Of The Union Address
    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama reports to Congress and the nation Tuesday on the State of the Union, an annual rite in official Washington that for one night squeezes the three branches of government underneath the same roof for the speech. Some questions and answers about the State of the Union.

    ___ Q: Why is the president giving the speech?

    A: The Constitution requires that the president “from time to time give the Congress information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”


    Q: Which president delivered the first address?

    A: George Washington delivered the first regular “annual message” before a joint session of Congress, in New York, on Jan. 8, 1790.


    Q: Does the State of the Union have to be a speech?

    A: No. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, changed the custom with his first annual message on Dec. 8, 1801, by sending written copies to both houses of Congress to be read by clerks in the House and Senate. Jefferson wanted to simplify what he believed to be an aristocratic imitation of the British monarch’s speech from the throne, which he thought was unsuitable to a republic. The practice of sending Congress written copies of the speech continued for more than a century.


    Q: Who resumed delivering the annual message in person?

    A: Woodrow Wilson, on April 8, 1913. Wilson also is widely credited with transforming the speech from a report on the activities of the executive branch into a blueprint for the president’s legislative program for the coming congressional session and year.


    Q: When did the annual message become known as the “State of the Union” address?

    A: Franklin D. Roosevelt applied the constitutional phrase “State of the Union” to both the message and the event. It became the popular terminology from then on.


    Q: How has the speech been affected by advances in communications technology?

    A: Calvin Coolidge delivered the first speech broadcast on radio, in 1923. Harry Truman’s address in 1947 was the first broadcast on television. George W. Bush’s 2002 speech was the first made available as a live webcast on the White House website. Lyndon B. Johnson recognized the importance of the national audience when, in 1965, he shifted the hour of the speech from its traditional midafternoon start time to 9:00 p.m. to attract the largest number of TV viewers.

    Obama used social media to help power his two presidential campaigns, and he’ll do the same to promote his State of the Union address. Besides tweets on Twitter and photos on Instagram, Obama devotes an entire page on the White House website to the State of the Union address. People can also go to the website to watch an “enhanced” broadcast of the speech, complete with data, graphs and charts from the White House explaining the policies Obama will be talking about.


    Q: Has the speech ever been postponed?

    A: Yes. Ronald Reagan’s speech in 1986 was postponed after the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle on Jan. 28 of that year.


    Q: Is there a State of the Union speech every year?

    A: There has not been. Each of the past five presidents — Reagan in 1981, George H.W. Bush in 1989, Bill Clinton in 1993, George W. Bush in 2001 and Barack Obama in 2009 — chose not to give an official State of the Union speech the year they were first inaugurated. That speech would have followed their inaugural addresses. In 2009, the White House characterized the speech Obama gave shortly after he took office that year as just an address to a joint session of Congress.


    Q: Has the speech always been delivered in person since Wilson resumed the practice?

    A: Since World War II, some presidents have skipped the in-person appearance. Truman sent his final message in print, a practice followed by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1961 and Jimmy Carter in 1981. In 1956, when Eisenhower was recovering from a heart attack he prepared a seven-minute, filmed summary of the message from his retreat in Key West, Fla., that was broadcast nationwide. Richard Nixon sent a printed message to Congress in 1973; his staff said an oral message would have come too soon after his second inaugural address.


    Q: Have any presidents not delivered any type of State of the Union message?

    A: Two, actually. William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days after his inauguration in 1841, and James A. Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881 after 199 days in office.


    Q: Who are the people sitting with the first lady?

    A: The White House invites them because they have done something that helps illustrate themes in the president’s speech. Reagan established the tradition of inviting special guests in 1982, and every president since has continued it. Obama’s guests last year highlighted the issues of gun control, education, immigration, jobs and the economy, health care and voting rights, all subjects mentioned in the address.


    Q: Wasn’t there something unusual about one of Clinton’s speeches?

    A: Clinton’s address in 1999 marked the first time that a president addressed a Congress that was considering the possibility of removing him from office. Opening statements by the defense team in Clinton’s impeachment trial for his affair with Monica Lewinsky were delivered hours before Clinton’s address.


    Source: Congressional Research Service.


    Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap



    State of the Union: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sotu

  • Internet Cat Video Film Festival Hits Los Angeles With 85 'Meow-vies'
    The fur will be flying in Los Angeles on Jan. 25 thanks to the Internet Cat Video Film Festival.

    The touring festival features 85 cat videos carefully combed and curated by cat video lovers like William Braden, who has earned fame in this arcane community for a series of shorts focused around his own cat, Henri.

    “For the last year and a half, I’ve been able to do this full time,” he told The Huffington Post.

    He’s as shocked as anyone.

    “I’m going to do this as long as I can,” Braden said.

    Braden estimates as many as 15,000 cat videos were viewed before being narrowed down to the selection showcased in Los Angeles. Coming up with a final list was enough to make anyone dog tired.

    “We face the same problem as the Oscars,” he said. “We want to show videos that are popular, but also showcase the diamonds in the rough.”

    Braden’s work is just beginning. He and others are reviewing more cat videos to be shown in Minnesota this summer with the best in show winning the coveted “Golden Kitty Award.”

    Meanwhile, take a look at some of the cat video classics being shown with Braden’s comments on why they made the cut.

  • Review of Just Mobile AluPen Twist – The All-In-One Stylus & Pen

    Steve Jobs famously said with the launch of the iPhone and later with the iPad that a stylus was not needed for these devices because by nature, humans are born with 10 styluses: Fingers & thumbs.  While in principle it is one I agree with isn’t without its limitations.  There are times that a […]

    The post Review of Just Mobile AluPen Twist – The All-In-One Stylus & Pen appeared first on AlliOSNews.

Mobile Technology News, January 25, 2014

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.

  • Lost 30-Year-Old Conversation With Steve Jobs Offers Answers
    On a late-November day in 1983, Steven Levy, then a freelance journalist for Rolling Stone, got into a car outside 10460 Bandley Drive, in Cupertino, Calif.
  • Behind the Scenes at Tech Companies: Employees Teach Each Other How to Code
    Successful, thriving company culture becomes evident in its employees. Specifically, employees will be empowered to find ways to give back and empower others — and there’s no better place to start than with your co-workers.

    Online petition website Change.org is committed to empowering people everywhere to create change.

    “This requires bringing a diverse set of skills and perspectives to age-old problems,” said Warren Colbert, a director of product management at Change. He also mentors at CODE2040, where top minority engineering students nab lucrative internships and mentorship at Silicon Valley tech companies.

    It’s no secret that technology startups lack women in engineering (industry average is 10-15 percent), but change happens from within when a company’s leaders prioritize hiring from a diverse pool of candidates.

    The tech company’s efforts to change the gender ratio in the engineering department included partnering with women’s engineering school Hackbright Academy earlier this year. By providing mentorship and support from senior engineering leaders, Change.org successfully recruited and onboarded Jasmine Tsai after she graduated from Hackbright Academy, an accelerated women’s engineering school in San Francisco.

    Changing The Gender Ratio In Engineering — One Female Engineer At A Time

    Jasmine was the first female engineer to join the ranks of Change.org’s engineering team. By summer’s end, Change.org hired a total of three female engineers, a 200 percent increase from the moment Jasmine joined the team earlier that summer — and a big shift in the gender makeup, a welcome change for the engineering team.

    Sharing the company’s spirit of giving back, Jasmine teaches technical topics to non-technical employees at Change.org through “Women Helping Others Achieve” (or “WHOA”) — a group of female employees gathered to share their skills across the organization, from tech know-how to life hacks.

    Jasmine Tsai is not your usual Silicon Valley software engineer. A former investment banker who studied economics and international relations at UPenn, she found herself perpetually restless on the job and itching to create, so she quit her job to learn to code. Jasmine was working on small web projects when she joined Hackbright Academy, where she met a senior engineering leader at Change.org who participated in the Hackbright Academy mentorship program — and the rest is history.

    Giving Back And Making Change

    “Even though I am a junior engineer, there is still stuff I can teach,” says Jasmine.

    She explains to others what a “client versus server” means, what common programming languages and frameworks are, how to look at the console in the browser — “the basic stuff, more landscaping stuff,” she said with a laugh. “Landscaping is something I picked up from my previous career in investment banking when consulting with clients. It’s a market snapshot of how everything fits together. And when you are in a technology company, everyone wants to experience the joy of creating something.”

    Maggie Aker, a client manager working on sponsored campaigns at Change.org, said that while she interacts daily with engineers on bug fixes and product developments, “many of the nuances of deploys were wholly unbeknownst to me… until now!”

    “Jasmine has the unique perspective of having recently learned programming herself, so it was really helpful that she broke down the basics of programming for me in a way that she knew would be easily understandable for someone who has very little experience in the area,” said Erin Viray, a non-technical Change.org employee who attended a WHOA workshop on programming.

    The “Learn To Code” Movement

    “There’s a lot of debate whether learning to code is something necessary for everybody,” said Jasmine. “I feel there isn’t enough understanding about what code is and what it can do — so what I am trying to do is giving people an opportunity to experience it first and then they can decide for themselves if it’s something they’re interested in. Everyone should have an opportunity to learn to code if they want to and decide for themselves if they really like it. Not everyone should code.”

    The more women learn to code, the more female CTOs we have in power and as role models for young girls everywhere.

    Photos courtesy of Jasmine Tsai and Angie Chang

  • WATCH: Amazon Thinks It Can Predict Your Next Order
    A recently granted patent, first spotted by The Wall Street Journal, suggested that e-commerce giant Amazon was planning to start delivering products to your door before you even order them.

    Well, sort of. You shouldn’t expect all your wish list items to magically appear tomorrow, but Amazon does have an idea that may help it get ahead in the same-day delivery war, using predictive analytics and a transportation model that would see products basically hovering around potential buyers, either in nearby hubs or on trucks.

    Amazon’s algorithm would calculate the probability of purchases based on data like customers’ past buys, searches and, yes, wish list items, in order to be prepared when you (and your neighbors) do finally click to buy. And if an item is “speculatively shipped to a physical address” of someone who doesn’t want it, expect the responsibility to be on the merchant, not the customer:

    “Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,” the patent said. Which tells you that Amazon is pretty confident in its analytics prowess.

    See more about Amazon’s “anticipatory shipping,” and what it means for the future of retail, in the 100th episode of “The Content Brief” from Freshwire below.

    Missed last week’s episode? Find out why Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine think Beats Music can take on Spotify and Pandora here.

  • Want to Know What Verizon and AT&T Really Tell Their Investors?
    Hint: It’s not what they tell the regulators or the public.

    We’ve said this before, and we say it again: Verizon’s and AT&T’s current state and federal plan, called the “IP transition,” is nothing more than another way to game the system by telling the regulators what they want to hear.

    The truth is that the real reason that we are having a “transition” is to add more to the corporate bank accounts (read: more ways to charge you more) without those pesky regulators watching. In fact, we shouldn’t be we sitting here talking about a “transition”; we should be talking about the market takeover and calling for investigations.

    Let’s see what Verizon’s and AT&T’s executives told investors at various events about the companies’ future plans.

    (Note: I’m all for capitalism, but that assumes a free market with competition. Verizon controls the wires and can simply raise rates or “kill the copper” or force customers onto other products that they own and control. That’s not a competitive market.)

    ‘Kill the Copper’ and Force Customers Onto FIOS — Because It Makes More Money

    It started in earnest in New York and New Jersey after the Sandy storm in October 2012. Verizon refused to fix the utility customers’ copper-based services after the storm, leaving tens of thousands hanging for months or forcing them onto inferior wireless services, as they did to customers in Fire Island, N.Y. It now appears that this failure to restore customers’ original service after an emergency was nothing more than Verizon’s corporate plan to make more money.

    Lowell McAdam, Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications, speaking at the Citi Global Internet Media and Telecommunications Conference in January 2013, said that Verizon’s new “mantra” is “Don’t fix the copper wires”:

    When we had the impact of Sandy, our mantra was you will not fix copper. So if copper got into any kind of a damaged situation and FiOS was in the vicinity, or we could run FiOS down an adjacent street and get into there, we would cut the copper out of service.

    And why do it? Well, upselling — that is, having the customers buy more products from the companies’ own affiliates.

    Now what is the reason we want to do that? Well, when a customer goes, even to FiOS digital voice, they very quickly see the difference on copper, and we have seen the ability to sell up.

    We note that in April 2013 we met with a room full of not-happy people from the E. 9th Street Block Association in Manhattan, who had been out of service for six months since Sandy and couldn’t get FiOS. And Verizon had lied to each one a number of times, claiming that they would repair their service. (Here’s one flyer that was handed out about this situation.)

    While the natural disaster gave Verizon the opportunity to implement this master plan, McAdam had been talking about this throughout 2012. In June 2012 he stated that killing the copper was a “pot of gold“:

    But the vision that I have is we are going into the copper plant areas, and every place we have FiOS, we are going to kill the copper. We are going to just take it out of service, and we are going to move those services onto FiOS. We have got parallel networks in way too many places now, so that is a pot of gold in my view.

    And at the September 2012 J.P. Morgan analyst conference, McAdam said that moving the customers to FiOS makes the company more profits:

    And we’re going to move them off of copper and onto the FIOS, which helps the FIOS profitability as well as removes all the expense associated with that copper plant. So we’re going to move forward with that.

    And in October 2012, right before Sandy, McAdam claimed that this plan was designed because “there is nice upside there.” The company would make more money because it would be “upselling” the customers on other Verizon services, and because converting them saved the company money on maintenance. In fact, this all helped deliver the “best shareholder value contribution.” Here’s McAdam on Sept. 7, 2012:

    So we certainly start where we’ve got parallel networks. And we have a lot of those in place. And we’re attacking them from the top down based on maintenance activity or based on the ability to sell into that customer. We see after a customer moves over to FIOS, we may sell them the regular digital voice service and then move them over on the Internet side. And then you move them over on the TV side. So there is nice upside there. So we look at it from maintenance-cost perspective as well as a revenue-potential perspective. And then you do get to a point where, in a geography, if you’ve got nine out of 10, let’s say, customers on a street that are on FIOS, you’re just going to cut the 10th one over and then decommission all of the copper. So we factor all of that into the analysis and come up with the best shareholder value contribution.

    Verizon also admitted that it stopped selling DSL and was forcing customers onto FiOS — and again to make money and upsell customers:

    On Wireline margins, just a couple things here to talk to. Number one, we did have the FiOS-to-copper migration, which impacted our short-term results. But we’ve talked that this is a strategy that we are deploying. It is better for us long-term to get most of these customers off of our copper network to our FiOS network, as you saw that we are — stopped selling our naked DSL in FiOS-covered area. And we started to convert a number of customers in this quarter over to our FiOS network from a voice perspective.

    Now, a couple things here that this will launch. Number one, we will see a long-term benefit in our repairs and maintenance decrease over time. We will also get the upsell capability to start selling these voice customers on better speeds of FiOS and better experience, and also then into the linear TV product that we have to offer. And what we are seeing is the minimal number that we converted last year during our trials, we are starting to see a 30-percent sale upgrade on those customers. But it does take us three to six months to convince those customers to upgrade. So this is a longer-term type strategy.

    And in April 2012 McAdam pointed out that when the company wanted more money, they simply printed it by increasing the prices:

    In addition, going into the future, you are going to see — you may have already saw — that we are starting to do some price-ups in strategic areas. We’ve already started that in April, but over the next two quarters, we’re going to have several price-ups in our FiOS packages. In addition, we are going to rebundle certain of our packages to better bundle our content in order to make it more profitable, based on the tier that you pick for us. The other thing is that there are other revenue streams coming down the pike, like home monitoring control, that will contribute to the overall ARPU of our FiOS platform.

    Isn’t it nice when a company simply prints more money via raising rates? It clearly shows that there’s little, if any, serious competition.

    On a May 30, 2013, Nomura analyst conference call, Francis Shammo, Executive Vice President and CFO of Verizon, said pretty much the same thing — that once you convert customers to FiOS, you can sell them more. However, he noted that this shouldn’t be done too quickly, as the customer will think they are have been “gamed”:

    The side benefit of doing it, though, is what we are seeing is once we put that OMT on the side of the house and give you voice and give you the basic speed of FiOS, after a couple of months, they are choosing to buy up in the speeds, because now they are realizing this unbelievable fiber product that they have on the side of their home. So they are buying up into those tiers, and we see that most people are buying up to the 50-megabit plan.

    Then what happens is, six to eight months after that, you then market it to them, because what we found is you can’t do it too soon, because then they think they are being gamed somehow. So six to eight months later, you start to approach them on, “Hey, by the way, we think we can save you money on your cable bill by taking FiOS TV.” And what we are seeing is about a 35-percent to 36-percent take rate now on those copper customers who just had voice and DSL. Once they come over within a year, they become a triple play on FiOS.

    The Plan: Don’t Fix the Copper; Push Them Onto Wireless

    Verizon also decided that instead of fixing the copper, it would force customers in “more rural areas” to be put onto wireless services. McAdam stated in June 2012:

    And then in other areas that are more rural and more sparsely populated, we have got LTE built that will handle all of those services, and so we are going to cut the copper off there.

    At the September 2012 J.P. Morgan analyst conference, McAdam said moving the customers to wireless makes the company more profits:

    And in many areas we’re also taking customers that aren’t performing well on copper and we’re moving them over to the wireless technology. So that improves our cost structure significantly and streamlines all those ongoing maintenance costs.

    Wireless LTE Is Not a Substitute for FiOS for Video

    Verizon knows that wireless, even their LTE product, doesn’t replace wireline broadband networks for video. McAdam stated in June 2012:

    I mean we want to shift as much onto FiOS or onto the fixed network where we can and then provide — use that capacity to provide those higher-demand services like video. I don’t expect anybody to sit in their home watching video over LTE. I want them to be able to watch it on their tablet anywhere in the house using the WiFi network.

    And this admission means that Verizon’s plan to halt their FiOS deployment will harm every customer outside the “footprint,” which could be as much as 50 percent of their territories.

    Shammo also made this same point in May 2013 and also noted that Verizon was making “headway” with regulators:

    [T]here is a different solution rather than building infrastructure to some of these what I would call more rural areas, and it’s really with using the LTE technology, the Fusion technology from a broadband perspective. And we still have some work to do with regulators, but we are making headway here, and I think that’s the route that we will take.

    And Verizon has no interest in having the wireless company compete with the wireline company. In September 2012 McAdam said:

    [Y]ou won’t see Verizon trying to compete against FIOS with LTE. That’s not in the cards here until you have an unlimited supply of spectrum. And I don’t think that’s coming anytime in my career.

    And, again, Verizon admitted that wireless simply will never get to the high speeds that FiOS offers. Mike Rollins, a Citigroup analyst, asked at the January 2013 event:

    The question that comes off of the ability to watch video in a quality way on a wireless device then gets to: What is the ability for LTE to displace the DSL or the low-end high-speed Internet offerings and your ability to have a true replacement product with LTE? How pervasive could that be?

    McAdam responded that wireless won’t be as fast as wired:

    Well, the low-end stuff I think will always fall away, but I say this to our management team: I think as we leapfrog, wireless sort of nibbles away at the lower end of the wireline side. But if you take a look at FiOS, this year we went from — well, two years ago we were at about 50 megabits of throughput into the home. We are at 100 broadly now, and we have just introduced 300. So if you looked at that progression, will wireless do 300 megabits? Probably not in my career. At some point it surely will, but not in my career, and so I think this sort of leapfrogging is what we should expect going forward.

    AT&T Is, of Course, Doing the Same Thing — Driving Profits Is the Goal

    As I pointed out, AT&T’s IP transition is about more profits, not technology changes. According to AT&T’s press release on Nov. 7, 2012:

    Driven by Project VIP and assuming a stable economy, AT&T expects that during the investment period:

    • Earnings per share will grow in the mid-single-digit or better range, with an opportunity for stronger growth going forward.
    • Consolidated margins will expand.

    In fact, this is really about multiple new billion-dollar business opportunities. AT&T states:

    Project VIP Supports New Growth Initiatives — With business customers, AT&T expects Project VIP will strengthen its ability to pursue multiple new billion-dollar business opportunities in four key growth areas: strategic network services, cloud, security and mobility solutions.

    The takeaway point about all the companies’ actions, it would appear, is that it’s not a technology “transition” but just another way to force customers to pay more, or to get regulatory favors. If they said, “Well, we want to upsell the customer, raise their rates, and shut down the copper services they use and replace them with wireless, which can’t compete with wired upgrades in terms of high speed, all to make us more money,” would we be sitting here discussing a “transition,” or would we be calling for investigations?

    What a sham.

    Thanks to Jim Rosenthal, Fire Island resident, who assisted in the research used in this blog post.

  • McLaren F1 Race Car Revealed For 2014 Formula 1 Season
    WOKING, England (AP) — McLaren has unveiled its new MP4-29 car for the coming Formula One season with the hope of improving on the team’s worst performance for nearly a decade.

    With its narrower front wing, lower nose and smaller rear wing, McLaren is counting on the new car to deliver after finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship last season. “We have responded to the disappointment of our 2013 season by pragmatically framing our approach to the (new) technical challenge,” McLaren said in a statement on Friday. “The new MP4-29 … is a sensible and calculated response to the new regulations.”

    Among the changes in regulations for this season is the replacement of the 2.4-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine with a 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged motor.

    McLaren’s lead driver, Jenson Button, achieved the team’s highest finish last season when he came fourth in the Brazilian GP.

    “Obviously, we want to get back to the front,” Button said. “We want to have a better season than we did in 2013, too.

    “But it’s really difficult to accurately predict anything right now – these are such huge changes that they’ll have a massive impact on the competitive order, so we need to wait and just see how things shake out.”

    Button has a new teammate after Sergio Perez was replaced by Danish driver Kevin Magnussen, who impressed during his title-winning Formula Renault 3.5 season last year.

    “We’ll be working very closely together to share data and gather as much information as we can about what the car’s doing, and how we can improve it,” Button said.

    “Our aim must be to have a smooth and productive winter; I’m very keen to learn all about the new formula and our new car, and I want us to be in a position where we head to the opening flyaways feeling comfortable with our package, yet still ready to absorb and learn more as we go.”

    Magnussen has meanwhile been preparing for the step up to Formula One.

    “I’ve spent every available day working – either with my engineers, with the team management, or with the trainers… building those relationships, getting to grips with the car, the style of driving, the cockpit and control systems, and improving my fitness,” he said.

    “It’s a constant learning curve, but it’s fun and satisfying to be able to do it with a group of people who work so closely with you.”

    McLaren also finished fifth in 2004, having previously been consistently in the top four since 1983.

  • 'A Conference Call In Real Life' Nails The Worst Part Of Office Life
    Anyone that’s ever had an office job knows conference calls can often be the worst. The constant beeps, the awkward pauses, that guy who forgets to use the mute button — the reasons to hate those dreaded meetings just goes on and on.

    But at least we now know we’re not suffering alone, thanks to this sketch from Tripp and Tyler, which hilariously demonstrates how a conference call would play out in real life. And yes, it’s possible the in-person call is somehow even worse.

  • Can't Upload Your Ebook 'Cause It's 'Encrypted'? Here's Why.
    ePub Logo

    In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had three separate friends come to me grumbling about not being able to upload their ebooks to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or one of the other online stores because the ebook site tells them the files are encrypted.

    “Did you export the ePub file from InDesign?” I ask.

    “Yeah,” they say. “What does that have to do with anything?”

    “Everything,” I answer….

    This is a classic problem that folks run into with InDesign conversion — Adobe’s a font foundry as well as a software company, and so when you embed fonts while converting from InDesign, the page-layout app automatically obfuscates them. Essentially, it encrypts them so that only a person with the license to use that font on that machine can open the ebook. So most ebook sites won’t allow you to upload a file with obfuscated fonts. (They just don’t tell you that. They say the file’s “encrypted.” That’s helpful!)

    The problem is that many professional designers are used to laying out books in ID. And its ePub-exporting function has gotten good enough in the last few iterations of the software that it actually can be useful in creating ebooks — especially if the ebooks have complicated formats or lots of internal hyperlinking (i.e., footnotes or cross-references). However, if you aren’t paying attention, font obfuscation can kill the whole process.

    There are ways to turn obfuscation off in the ePub file after it’s been generated — but that’s not necessarily the best answer.

    The thing to remember about embedded fonts is that unless you’ve created a fixed-format ebook, the users’ preferences will usually trump whatever typographic adjustments you’ve made. Base font size, typeface — all of those are settable by the reader. Some ereaders and ereader apps have a setting to “Use Publisher’s Fonts” — Kindle for iOS does, for example — but even then, if the user has set their typeface preference to Palatino, say, or Comic Sans (:shudder:), the whole book will display in that. At that point, the fonts are adding size your file for no reason. In the case of Amazon, that means that the publisher is paying a few pennies more “transport fee” for each download, and buyers have to wait another few milliseconds for the book to download, and all for nothing.

    So except in special cases — basically decorative drop-caps or headers, or in fixed-format books — I’ve generally stopped embedding. I use CSS instead to suggest fonts, always ending with the option “serif,” “san-serif,” “monotype,” or “handwriting.” Here for example is the body text style for an ebook that I did recently:

    Normal {

    font-family: 'Adobe Caslon Pro',Caslon,'Adobe Garamond Pro',Garamond,Palatino,'Times New Roman',Times,Cochin, serif;

    font-size: 12pt;

    line-height: 1.2;

    font-weight: normal;

    font-style: normal;

    text-align: justify;

    text-indent: 2em;


    That way the ereader will use the first option that I give it that it has available — unless the user has stated a different preference, in which case there’s nothing to be done.

    You can turn off font embedding in the dialogue box when you export from InDesign. Go to the “advanced” tab. You’ll see a collection of check boxes labeled “CSS Options”:

    Just uncheck the “Include Embeddable Fonts” box, and InDesign won’t add the fonts to the ebook file. (You can always add them later if you want.)

    The other point to consider is that font licenses don’t usually allow distribution through ebooks — not even free fonts. So by sending the fonts out un-obfuscated, you’re breaking your license agreement and, essentially, pirating the fonts. See this guest post by type designer David Bergsland on Joel Friendlander’s excellent resource for self- and independent publishers, TheBookDesigner.com for more info.

    Mirrored from Stillpoint Blogs.

  • VIDEO: Secret Google lab 'rewards failure'
    Astro Teller, Google X’s “Captain of Moonshots”, tells BBC Newsnight’s David Grossman about the secret laboratory’s approach to rewarding staff failure.
  • Secret Google lab 'rewards failure'
    The secret Google lab that rewards staff failure
  • Last Night
    Last night I put my phone on the kitchen table and went upstairs with my daughter. We both plopped down on her flowery quilt and talked. We talked about the cutest boys in the 2nd grade, the soggy pizza calzone that they served in the cafeteria yesterday, and then I told her about my adventures dodging motorized carts at the grocery store on Seniors’ Day.

    I heard my phone vibrating ferociously on the table. It’s actually louder on vibrate than it is with my ringtone set to deafening decibels and blaring “Axel F” from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.

    I ignored the noise. I didn’t care what text/email/social media alert waited for me there. I continued to talk with my little girl.

    We played twelve games of Old Maid. She beat me at Uno three times. We read the funniest parts of her favorite Junie B. Jones book. We laughed out loud.

    And then she asked if I would sleep in her bed so we could talk some more and I could tell her funny stories about the “olden days” (the 1980s).

    Instead of coming up with some excuse to sleep in my own soft bed, I happily agreed. I know there will come a time when she’ll be kicking me out of her room instead of inviting me to stay.

    I left my phone on the table for nearly three hours — which is a personal record, unless it is lost or I’m sleeping. It seems that I’m always connected to the world through my phone. As soon as I’m done eating dinner, I reach for it. As the DVR fast forwards through commercials, I reach for it. As I listen to my daughter, I don’t hesitate to mentally leave our conversation and pick it up when it rattles to let me know that someone from the outside world needs my attention.

    But last night, I ignored it when I heard it tumbling around on the kitchen table. I really listened to my little girl’s stories, and I watched her laugh until tears welled up in her eyes when I told her about the time I gracefully plowed through a fence on a Pogo ball. The phone could wait.

    As she was lying close to me in the bed and I ran my fingers through her long blonde hair, she yawned and said, “I had a good time with you tonight, Mama.”

    She needed my attention more than any email, text or Facebook notification.

    And I needed her more than any of those things, too.

    This post was originally published on Whoa! Susannah

  • 'Snowden Effect' Threatens U.S. Tech Industry's Global Ambitions
    Election officials in India canceled a deal with Google to improve voter registration. In China, sales of Cisco routers dropped 10 percent in a recent quarter. European regulators threatened to block AT&T’s purchase of the wireless provider Vodafone.

    The technology industry is being roiled by the so-called Snowden Effect, as disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of American spying worldwide prompt companies to avoid doing business with U.S. firms. The recent setbacks for Google, Cisco and AT&T overseas have been attributed, in part, to the international outcry over the companies’ role in the NSA scandal.

    Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, said criticism over Silicon Valley’s involvement in the government surveillance program was initially limited to European politicians “taking advantage of this moment to beat up on the U.S.”

    “But the reports from the industry are showing that it is more than that,” he added. “This is more than just a flash in the pan. This is really starting to hurt.”

    The impact of the Snowden leaks could threaten the future architecture of the modern Internet. In recent years, computing power has shifted from individual PCs to the so-called cloud — massive servers that allow people to access their files from anywhere.

    The Snowden revelations undermined trust in U.S.-based cloud services by revealing how some of the largest American tech companies using cloud computing — including Google and Yahoo — had their data accessed by the NSA. About 10 percent of non-U.S. companies have canceled contracts with American cloud providers since the NSA spying program was disclosed, according to a survey by the Cloud Security Alliance, an industry group.

    U.S. cloud providers could lose as much as $35 billion over the next three years as fears over U.S. government surveillance prompt foreign customers to transfer their data to cloud companies in other countries, according to a study by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C.

    “If European cloud customers cannot trust the United States government, then maybe they won’t trust U.S. cloud providers either,” Neelie Kroes, European commissioner for digital affairs, said last summer after the NSA revelations were made public. “If I am right, there are multibillion-euro consequences for American companies. If I were an American cloud provider, I would be quite frustrated with my government right now.”

    European officials and companies have been especially troubled by the Snowden leaks because European privacy laws are more stringent than those in the United States.

    After documents from Snowden revealed that the NSA had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls, she said Europeans should promote domestic Internet companies over American ones in order to avoid U.S. surveillance. German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has suggested that people who are worried about government spying should stop using Google and Facebook altogether.

    “Whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don’t go through American servers,” Friedrich said after Snowden leaked the NSA documents.

    Chris Lamoureux, the executive vice president of the company Veriday, told The WorldPost that some of his customers have requested that the company avoid storing their information in U.S.-based data centers, hoping to make it more difficult for the NSA to gain access.

    “They’ve said, ‘We don’t want you to put our data in the U.S. because we’re worried about what we’re seeing and hearing over there right now,'” said Lamoureux, whose Ottawa-based company develops web applications for banks, governments and retailers.

    Some argue that President Barack Obama has added to the tech industry’s troubles abroad by emphasizing how the NSA surveillance program focused on people outside the United States, where most of Silicon Valley’s customers are located.

    “Those customers, as well as foreign regulatory agencies like those in the European Union, were being led to believe that using US-based services meant giving their data directly to the NSA,” journalist Steven Levy wrote in a recent article in Wired magazine.

    Hoping to reassure overseas customers, major tech companies (including AOL, which owns The Huffington Post Media Group) have asked the Obama administration for permission to be more open about how they responded to past requests for data from the U.S. government. They argue the government snooped on their networks without their knowledge. Recent reports based on documents provided by Snowden revealed that the NSA spied on Google and Yahoo customers, unbeknownst to the companies, by secretly tapping cables that connect data centers around the world.

    “The impression is that the tech industry is in league with the U.S. government,” Cate said. “But the industry would like to give the impression that they’re victims of the U.S. government, too.”

    On Wednesday, Microsoft said it would offer customers who are wary about NSA surveillance the ability to store their data outside the United States.

    Meanwhile, some foreign tech companies are trying to capitalize on the distrust between U.S. tech firms and their customers around the world. Swisscom, a cloud provider in Switzerland, is developing a service that would attract customers looking to store data under the country’s strict privacy laws and away “from the prying eyes of foreign intelligence services,” Reuters reported.

    Germany’s three largest email providers have also created a new service, called “Email Made in Germany,” designed to thwart the NSA by encrypting messages through servers located within the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.

    But Cate said that any businesses that try to avoid surveillance by boycotting U.S. tech companies are not really protecting their data from the NSA. After all, intelligence agencies in France and Spain also spied on their own citizens, and passed on that information to the NSA, according to documents from Snowden.

    “It doesn’t make a difference what you do with your data — the NSA is going break into it,” Cate said. “But that doesn’t mean U.S. industry isn’t going to get hurt along the way.”

  • Why Women Should, and Can, Get Past 'Compare and Despair' on Social Media
    Last week, the TODAY show featured a help-a-thon doling out advice on how women can do it all, encouraging viewers to tweet their tips and questions using the hashtag #doingitall. As a mother of two young kids and a scholar of work-life balance and women’s careers, I know that when media promotes the idea that women should be “doing it all,” it has the potential to be anything, but helpful.

    Reinforcing the idea that we should all aspire to be part of a super breed of magical women who have careers, maintain beautiful homes, patiently parent, create home-cooked meals (with vegetables that their kids will actually eat), and even go to the gym, is not only unrealistic, but actively harmful to our overall health and happiness.

    With my colleague Dr. Liz Boyd, I’ve conducted research on how “social comparison” (the act of comparing ourselves to others) impacts feelings of work-family conflict. Not surprisingly, those who engage in more comparison to others feel worse about their work-life balance. Perhaps more surprisingly, these individuals also report worse physical health symptoms and greater intentions to leave their jobs.

    There is a clear price to be paid for comparing ourselves to others and social media makes it exceptionally easy to do so. Given that women are significantly higher users of social media compared to men, it’s also likely that women are doing more of the comparing than their male counterparts.

    So, why do women do this to ourselves? And how can we stop?

    Long before Pinterest and Instagram (and even before the Internet), Leon Festinger proposed his “social comparison” theory in 1954. He argued that human beings have an innate desire to evaluate our own abilities and performance. In the absence of objective information about our performance, we will compare ourselves to others to see how we stack up. Decades of research have provided support for this theory. Given that our modern, complex lives don’t provide much objective feedback about how we’re managing work, family and other responsibilities, we’re stuck relying on others to judge ourselves. But, the comparison process can backfire and cause us to judge ourselves unnecessarily harshly, particularly when we are comparing ourselves to the filtered, perfect images we see on social media — the images women seem particularly drawn to. Perhaps research suggesting that women’s identities are more strongly defined by relationships to others than men’s may provide insight as to why social media is so compelling to us.

    To be sure, men are also subject to the process and perils of social comparison. But, as women continue to define and redefine our roles at home and at work, the impact of social media may be particularly impactful on our so-called fragile self-identities. When women compare themselves to these idealized images, they may feel like they need to “do it all” and drive themselves to exhaustion and frustration seeking perfection. The flip side is that they may feel like these images are so unattainable that they feel hopeless and dejected. Neither extreme is healthy or helpful.

    So, what can be done? Unfortunately, the edict, “Stop comparing yourself to others,” is unlikely to be an effective recommendation to avoid this trap. Rather than fight the inevitable comparisons, there are ways that women can be thoughtful and proactive consumers of social media that are less likely to lead to guilt, frustration and perfectionism.

    Given that we tend to use social comparisons in the absence of objective information, one strategy is to seek out objective criteria that personally define a success work-life balance for us whatever that may look like. Of course, broader cultural efforts to redefine “success” are essential. In the meantime, armed with our own unique definitions of success and objective criteria for measuring it, we can be more resilient in the face of unrealistic images on social media.

    A second strategy for managing social comparisons is to be mindful of who you are comparing yourself to. Comparing your home to that of a home décor blogger is a recipe for feelings of inadequacy. Remember, it’s their job to be perceived as an expert in that topic. There is no reason to hold yourself to that standard. Follow #doingitall with a healthy dose of skepticism. Further, even if the person you’re comparing yourself to isn’t an expert (perhaps a friend on Facebook), remember that you probably aren’t getting the full picture of their successes and struggles. It’s fine to be inspired and motivated by others online, but challenge yourself to also question whether that individual is really the appropriate comparator.

    Finally, be a role model for honesty in social media. Real Simple magazine championed a “Get Real on the Internet” week, which challenged us to post pictures, tweets and status updates that share our real (read: imperfect) selves with the world using the hashtag #rsgetreal.

    Being real doesn’t mean only airing your dirty little secrets, but also celebrating legitimate and hard-won successes in work-life balance. By creating an online community in which women are empowered to share honest images of their lives, we each contribute to a future of more realistic and healthy social comparisons.

  • Proposed Surveillance Reforms Insufficient, Another Finding NSA Program Is Illegal
    What American citizens and Internet users around the world needed to hear from President Obama at his speech on surveillance last week was that they wouldn’t be surveilled without reason and information would not be misused. Unfortunately, they didn’t get that — though the president showed great empathy and understanding of the scope of the problem.

    I attended the speech and was hoping to hear the U.S. would halt its massive collection and analysis of bulk metadata. My tech trade association would have liked President Obama to have at least followed the lead of his appointed review group in certain key areas such as NSA’s subversion of encryption standards.

    The president’s reforms would change the way bulk metadata data is stored — with a third party rather than the government — but such a scheme is fraught with new problems and fails to tighten the legal standards for access. President Obama would limit the searches to two “hops” away from a suspect rather than three and require the NSA to get a judge to sign off on the searches. It’s my opinion, as well as that of a number of judges, that such large collections of metadata give rise to a search under the Fourth Amendment. More to the point, even the President’s review group concluded the metadata program did not play a measurable role in stopping attacks.

    In addition, a report this week from an independent federal privacy watchdog group said the bulk collection is illegal and must end. That report from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board was issued less than a week after the president’s speech. This latest report will add to the growing debate after a federal judge and the president’s review group also expressed serious misgivings about bulk data collection and other surveillance practices.

    While the board may not have been unanimous in all of their findings, such as the legality of the bulk metadata program, they all agreed there have been no instances where this program has actually prevented a national security threat.

    We in the tech world understand that governments and intelligence agencies around the world are going to want to access to all the data they might possibly ever need. Technology creates and helps cumulate data, and we need to be active in ensuring such data is not misused. Government desire for metadata from phones and Internet records is only a part of what is really being sought. Americans must be a leader in setting high standards for accessing data. I believe we need to honor and advocate for such standards which are exemplified in our First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, when properly applied.

    If we too readily make those values take a backseat to the increasing demand for more information from the national security community, it will create an even worse model in other countries that lack a tradition of citizen privacy protections and standards.

    We have no doubt those assigned to protect U.S. security want more information to do their job better, but that insatiable zeal for more information is where we get into trouble. We are assured that they don’t seek to access this data except in very limited situations, but what many of us don’t fully grasp is that access to information gathered is just the second part of the equation.

    The basic gathering of data and its inherent value is intrusive, erodes our sense of privacy, and creates information power and provides an enduring temptation to use or misuse it. Having this accumulation of data sitting around makes it available for misuse — not just for the U.S. government, but for anyone.

    There are some who excuse our activities by arguing other countries do more and with fewer checks and balances. The fact that others behave worse than than the U.S. does not justify our lowering our standards, but should reinforce the need for us to lead by example, rebuild trust, and use renewed credibility to shape the future in a positive way. A world that evolves in the direction of freedom from excessive government power and control is a world in which we are all safer.

    The U.S.’s reputation as the world’s freest country, leader on Internet freedom, and its ability to grow economically is at stake if we don’t take concrete steps to rein in surveillance.
    Everyone agrees there are real enemies and the U.S. cannot be secure without the capacity to unravel terrorist plots. Many, including our tech trade association, recognize this reality enough to support Section 215 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act when used responsibly and with specificity. Where we see problems is when it is interpreted too broadly, opening the floodgate for a wide collection of data and expanding the likelihood of abuse.

    We certainly appreciate that President Obama’s speech showed that he has listened to foreign parties, privacy advocates and industry experts. The President showed an understanding of the problems created by surveillance and offered a thoughtful, empathetic attempt to deal with the issue. But bolder leadership and strong action are required. The reforms announces were insufficient to change the trajectory of surveillance and curtail the potential for abuse.

    We now look to Congress as the renewal of the legal authority to conduct surveillance comes up for discussion in March. Lawmakers need to at least consider reforms like those recommended by the White House’s surveillance review group before they reauthorize any surveillance legislation.

    The American public and our international allies need to demand more robust reforms for themselves and global Internet users. If they do, we hope Congress will respond with courage and vision.

  • Uber Sort Of Regrets (Latest) Horrible Thing It Just Did
    Politics ain’t beanbag, the saying goes, and the ride-arranging-app industry is apparently no dang soft toss, either.

    Demonstrating how the game is played, car-service app Uber used what some might describe as dirty tricks against smaller competitor GetTaxi, aka Gett, in New York City last week, TechCrunch reported on Friday.

    Several Uber employees — allegedly including Uber NYC’s general manager, according to Valleywag — ordered more than 100 rides from Gett cars in just a few days and then canceled them. This created at least some degree of havoc for Gett, while also giving Uber useful information about Gett’s service and drivers.

    In a statement to TechCrunch (which, like HuffPost, is owned by AOL), Uber admitted its New York team may have been a bit overzealous in trying to recruit Gett drivers to jump over to Uber:

    Our local teams can be pretty determined when spreading the word about Uber and how our platform opens up new economic opportunities for drivers. Members of our New York team made requests to generate leads of independent contractors but then immediately canceled seconds later. It was likely too aggressive a sales tactic and we regret the team’s approach to outreach of these drivers. But to be clear there was no time spent by the providers, as the requests were canceled immediately and Uber did pay cancellation fees for these requests. We have messaged city teams to curtail activities that seek lead generation by requesting transportation services.

    That explanation may not satisfy Gett, which told Valleywag’s Sam Biddle that “the company and our counsel are still evaluating” how to respond.

    San Francisco-based Uber is probably the best-known company in its industry, and not always for the right reasons. Several times recently it has incurred the wrath of customers for its “surge pricing,” in which it jacks up the cost of rides just when people need them the most, like on New Year’s Eve and in the middle of massive snowstorms. And it has not always responded to those complaints with the utmost grace.

  • Pair jailed over abusive tweets
    A man and a woman are jailed for sending abusive messages on Twitter to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.
  • At Davos, Tech Giants Square Off Over Online Privacy
    It’s traditional to start off the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with a panel of Nobel Laureate economists talking about the global economy. This year the high profile opening was about the digital revolution. The speakers were Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T; Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo; Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce; John Chambers, CEO of Cisco; and Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT. The moderator was Forrester Research CEO George Colony.

    The session reflects the theme of Davos, which is that profound political, economic, social and, above all, technological forces are transforming our lives, communities and institutions. Rapidly crossing geographic, gender and generational boundaries, digital technologies are shifting power from traditional hierarchies to networked heterarchies. If you want to know where society is headed, follow the technology.

    Colony started off by asking what technologies had changed the panelists’ lives.

    Benioff surprised the audience by talking about his Fitbit wristband. Explaining that it helped him lose 30 pounds and changed his life, he gave an unsettling example. Michael Dell called him a few days ago asking if Benioff was okay. Dell said “I’m your friend on Fitbit and I see you haven’t worked out for three days.” Dell was right, as Benioff had had a cold. Benioff wondered, ‘what does it mean?’ that people know his heart rate, glucose levels, fitness, or if he has a cold.

    He said his future Philips toothbrush is Wi-Fi based and has GPS. When you go to the dentist, he won’t ask if you brushed. He will log in to your toothbrush account. Soon there will be one trillion connected sensors, and we will be connected in phenomenal new ways. The peace dividend of the cellphone wars is 1.5 billion smartphones today.

    I was tempted to ask him if Michael Dell also knows his dental hygiene habits.

    Peterson said the explosion of bandwidth is hard to describe, and that consumer demand seems insatiable.

    Stephenson said AT&T would be taking its fiber network to one million businesses and households in the next three years. The biggest deployment is fiber to cell sites, and that smartphones are driving automation of the home.

    Chambers from Cisco said 10 billion devices will soon be connected to the Internet. Over the next 10 years this will account for $19 trillion in economic value.

    Ms. Mayer from Yahoo said it’s all about the apps enabling the sharing economy. Last Friday 150,000 people let strangers stay in their homes via airbnb.com. More than 55 percent of people would consider renting out their cars to strangers. The average person checks his or her mobile phone 150 times a day. By the end of this year Yahoo will have more mobile traffic than PC traffic.

    Colony tried to stir the pot by saying that none of the CEOs are from disruptive companies except maybe Salesforce. Everyone disagreed.

    Colony raised the issue of Edward Snowden and the NSA spying revelations (the elephant in the room) posing the question: “What would you say to Obama if he were in the room?”

    Ms. Mayer said she wants transparency, saying companies need to know what data is being collected and how it will be used, and they need to have the rights to tell the public.

    We need to this to re-establish trust with our users. We already have transparency reports for local governments — we want to be able to provide that information to our customers and the public, she said.

    Benioff agreed that we need transparency. Privacy will drive customer choice. Customers will want to know where they have their data and what’s done with it. Vendors need to also provide complete transparency themselves — about what they do with data. Consumers and business want to know everything.

    Peterson, in contrast, said customers can’t have control. We all need national security.

    I listened to this discussion closely, because I think transparency is essential. I’ve been writing about this for 15 years. In the past we only worried about Big Brother governments assembling detailed dossiers about us. Then came what privacy advocates called Little Brother — corporations that collect data from their customers.

    Companies such as Amazon want to know more and more about what makes each of us tick – our motivations, behavior, attitudes, and buying habits. The good news is that they can use this intimate knowledge to give us highly customized services. The bad news is that once these digital mirror images are compiled they are rarely, if ever, deleted. They can be used inappropriately and even end up being sold to third parties.

    Now there is a new unexpected threat — ourselves. Call it Baby Brother. With the meteoric rise of social media, we are increasingly willing accomplices in undermining our own privacy rights. Before Facebook arrived, who would have predicted that hundreds of millions of people would voluntarily log on to the Internet and record detailed minute-by-minute data about themselves, their activities, their likes and dislikes, and so on?

    Ultimately, in order to properly protect privacy, all of us will need to be vigilant about our own online behavior.

    I left the room encouraged about the explosive growth of the digital revolution but concerned about whether leaders of the industry are prepared to step up to the tough social issues. Other writers at the meeting trumpeted the high tech leaders’ challenge to Obama about the NSA spying.

    Personally I wish one of them had said something to the effect: “The digital revolution has numerous dark side issues that need to be managed, one of them being the potential destruction of everything that we’ve come to know as our right to privacy. We need our governments to be defenders of this and other basic rights rather than the problem.”

    A version of this piece previously appeared in the GlobeandMail.com

    Don Tapscott is CEO of the think-tank Tapscott Group, and Adjunct Professor at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto. He is the author of 14 books most recently (with Anthony D. Williams) MacroWikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. @dtapscott

  • Foxconn tests prototypes for sapphire-covered iPhones
    Foxconn recently finished assembling at least 100 prototype iPhones with sapphire-covered displays, says Taiwanese publication Apple Daily. The phones were built as part of a testing effort, and are said to have been assembled at a factory in the Longhua district of Shenzhen, China. Success has two-fold significance, because sapphire adds to the complexity of manufacturing, and it suggests that Apple will indeed use the material for future displays, replacing Corning’s Gorilla Glass.


  • Gmail Glitch Caused Thousands Of Emails To Go To One Man's Account
    In a glitch apparently related to the massive Gmail outage underway right now, there’s an odd bug in Google search which is pointing users directly to his personal email address. The address appears in a “Compose” window that pops up when the top search result for Gmail is clicked. Yes, it’s bizarre. Very, very bizarre.
  • 5 Non-Negotiable Rules for Responsible Media Use for Parents and Kids
    As parents, our job is to teach our children to be productive citizens in the world, to impart our values and to keep them safe. Most of us know that this job applies to the world we grew up in, the offline world, but sometimes we forget that many everyday parenting lessons also apply to the online world. Below are recommendations I share with parents when I give talks at schools.

    1. The most important thing every adult who wants to show children adaptive ways to behave with this virtual medium can do is to model good behavior. This means think about your media use, and what your children see you doing. So think about it next time you parent and text at the same time. They are watching and learning from us all of the time.

    2. Find times when the whole family has no devices — dinner table, walks to school, hikes, sport games, the most important thing is that they learn there are times that are screen free — and that it is essential to build these into our day… Of course it’s challenging because many adults use devices for their work, but by having a device-free time, you are showing children that family time and face-to-face time are to be valued.

    3. Pick your battles. If you don’t want your teens to unfriend you, don’t ask about every transgression and let a few things slide. If you question or complain about every media habit you don’t approve of, they will tune out. Try actually saying a few positive things a day about their media use. Then maybe they won’t roll their eyes next time you tell them to take a break.

    4. Live where they live. Remember, it’s not just about social media… it’s also about what they’re watching and reading and listening to. Check the ratings (Common Sense Media is an amazing source for comprehensive information) or ask them to check the ratings; if you let them watch something a bit ahead of their time, watch it with them, and ask them to talk to you about it so you can learn how they are processing the messages.

    5. Look for teachable moments in the real world. In other words, you can use things that happen in real life to create stories that may resonate for teens. Bring them up in conversation, not when you are lecturing them on something they did wrong. Often kids’ ears will perk up when they hear these stories. I knew my kids were listening when they took the stories I told them and used them in their current event updates at school.

Mobile Technology News, January 24, 2014

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.

  • Microsoft earnings beat expectations
    Microsoft posts better-than-expected earnings on the back of strong Xbox sales and demand for its cloud services.
  • Apple tops Samsung as world's largest chip buyer in 2013
    At $30 billion, Apple tops Samsung in 2013 chip spending, but market dynamics could favor the South Korean giant in 2014.
  • Apple Updates iWork Apps for Mac, iOS and iCloud

    Apple has released a significant update to all of their iWork apps across all of their platforms – Mac OS X, iOS and iCloud.  The updates impact all three of the apps that comprise iWork and each of the apps – Keynote, Numbers and Pages – have all seen some significant enhancements and changes.  It […]

    The post Apple Updates iWork Apps for Mac, iOS and iCloud appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Briefly: Zoom's iQ5 mic for iPhone and iPad, DEVONtechnologies update
    Zoom has launched its iQ5 microphone for iOS devices this week, offering the ability to capture audio in 90- or 120-degree fields, adjustable by a switch on the device. Including two microphone elements in a mid-size configuration,the iQ5 records 16-bit/44.1kHz audio with an analog-type mic gain wheel. Fitted with a Lightning connector, the microphone has three auto-gain levels, built-in timing, automatic recording, and a dedicated headphone jack.


  • Samsung's quarterly profit declines
    Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones and TVs, reports a drop in quarterly profit for the time in two years.
  • As Surface surges, consumer PCs soften, Microsoft says
    While the company was upbeat about Surface and Xbox One, it cited continued weakness in the consumer PC market.
  • In Search of TV Episodes: How Not to Reward Fan Loyalty
    Once upon a time, broadcast and cable networks scheduled their programs in a fairly predictable manner. You could count on the new season of shows in the fall, with special episodes during the sweeps (November, February, May, and July). The summer used to be filled with either reruns and/or reality fare.

    These days the broadcast and cable television programming lineup changes nearly every week. New shows launch throughout the year, while others are placed on hiatus in order to conserve episodes for a later season run. The viewer has to stay on their toes in order not to miss an episode of their favorite show.

    One would think that with all the options available beyond “live” viewing, staying on top of a season’s worth of television should be easy. This is far from the case. Hunting down episodes is akin to a scavenger hunt gone awry.

    Along with an estimated weekly base of 5 to 6 million viewers last season, I am a loyal fan of the ABC-TV primetime drama Nashville, which returned from its winter hiatus last Wednesday. I modestly time-shifted my viewing to enjoy it without interruption, skipping through all the advertising.

    However, unless I remain vigilant and set my DVR, reloading earlier Nashville episodes is hard to do.

    A robust video streaming ecosystem includes online streams of the networks; video-on-demand libraries of cable and satellite operators; streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon; and micro-transactions through iTunes. So refreshing my memory for the mid-season return by catching up on back episodes of Nashville (as well as a handful of other shows, from Community to Sherlock, returning to the small screen this month) would appear to be simple.

    But the library of Nashville episodes is divided among several competing services. Even the network does not offer the full catalogue of content to its viewers. Rather, the viewer is sent on a scavenger hunt for back episodes.

    Networks are missing opportunities to cultivate loyalty to their product and to serve their best customers by making it too difficult to find the content they like. In other industries, distribution is a matter of convenience and not a roadblock for the consumer.

    Can you imagine forcing users of Tide laundry detergent to shop at different retailers every week in order to remain loyal to the brand? Tide is on the shelves of every major retailer, and it is up to the retailer to court the customer based upon the shopper experience.

    Imagine if a novel was parceled out chapter by chapter to only specific retailers at specific times. The reader would grow frustrated, forced to hunt down bits and pieces of a narrative across different retail access points.

    This seems absurd in nearly every marketplace, but this is happening in the television business. Full access to content should be made available to audiences. Like other industries, let the intermediaries court the audience’s business based upon experience as opposed to roadblocks. Unless a viewer subscribes to multiple streaming services, it is very difficult for fans to enjoy full season runs of their favorite shows.

    You would assume that abc.go.com would be the most logical place to find back episodes of a show on its network. I downloaded the ABC network viewer app only to learn that I can’t get to ABC programming unless I first authenticate my TV service provider.

    What ABC tried to make available to any fan of its programming was quickly barricaded by the intermediaries. The network had a choice: serve the fan and upset the intermediaries who pay the networks considerable sums of money in carriage fees, or limit access.

    Once I got through the firewall (I am a Comcast Xfinity subscriber), I was treated to a promo spot from ABC touting the service with the disclaimer in fine print, “Show and episode availability subject to change.” The freshman season of Nashville was missing, and only a handful of episodes from the current season are available: episodes 201, 202, 203, 209 and 210. The fan is left with a huge hole of content that is sitting in some other intermediary’s library.

    Next, I searched the video-on-demand library of my TV service provider. I quickly discovered that the landscape gets even more confusing. Comcast Xfinity offers its subscribers some episodes online-only and others both online and on television. When I patched together the offerings from Comcast, I could only account for episodes 201 and 202 (online only) and 203, 209, 210 (television and online).

    After two stops in this scavenger hunt, I am still missing the entire freshman season of Nashville, along with the middle episodes of the current season.

    Perhaps I would find the Holy Grail on Netflix. As a Netflix subscriber, I have been filled with angst over the much-publicized Jan. 1 expiration date, when numerous contracts between content providers and Netflix expire. But Nashville was not there.

    Even though I pay for two streaming services — Comcast Xfinity and Netflix — I still cannot piece together a full season of my favorite TV show.

    So I try Hulu and Hulu Plus. I was able to find five episodes of the current season on the “free” part of Hulu eight days after they air on ABC. Why eight days late? Because some advertisers will pay the network for audience viewing in what is known as “C7”: live plus seven days post air (while others will only pay for “C3”). After day 7, the network audience rarely counts toward ad revenue, so off the episode goes to streaming land.

    If I am willing to fork out another $7.99 a month and subscribe to Hulu Plus, the episode count doubles to 10 episodes. But Nashville fans on Hulu are not happy. Here are a few comments I found on the Nashville landing page:

    “Why can’t I find Season One?”

    “I’m still waiting for Episode 7.”

    “I need Episode 9, I’m having withdrawals, they take forever to put new episodes up here.”

    After four stops, Season One is still missing. And only bits and pieces of the current season can be found in any one place.

    I am making one last attempt: iTunes. I finally found what I was missing, and for the price of $2.99 per episode, I can view Nashville all the way back to the pilot. Despite subscribing to multiple streaming services, my only option to access the full library is to pay à la carte for the privilege.

    No wonder Congress is taking on this issue. In the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 introduced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last year, the issue of who has control over what television content consumers can both access and pay for is coming to light.

    Currently, the intermediary calls the shots, and consumers are left to pay for bundles of content that in some instances include programs that they do not want, and in other instances (as witnessed with Nashville), the bundles are incomplete. True fans of content are still left to exercise micro-transactions in order to access the full library that is currently splintered across multiple competing service providers.

    Who is the customer here? One would think that a fan of any TV show should be the most valued asset in the media economy. But from the experience of simply trying to piece together one television show, it appears that the intermediaries are in the drivers’ seat.

    As networks dole out bundles of episodes for exclusive windows to competing service providers, the audience is left with only a patchwork of its favorite content. In a highly fractured media ecosystem, it’s hard enough for audiences to find great programming and become dedicated viewers.

    If the networks continue to make distribution deals that put great content behind firewalls, they are limiting the potential to drive audience loyalty and corresponding economic value from their core product: the television shows they put on their air.

    Networks should make access to their product both universally accessible and convenient to the end consumer. Let the TV service providers compete for the audience’s business based upon value and service as opposed to restricted access.

    Judy Franks is a lecturer at The Medill School, Northwestern University, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in media studies and consumer insight. She is the author of Media: From Chaos to Clarity.

  • I Quit Social Media (And I Don't Miss It Yet)
    A few weeks ago, I wrote about my decision to quit social media for 30 days. Now, more than halfway through my detox, I can truthfully say I don’t miss the apps and bookmarks banished from my browsers and devices.

    The first day was admittedly a bit of a struggle — or, more specifically, the first several minutes. I’d just returned to New York after a long trip back to the Midwest for the holidays, and I was missing my friends and family. I’d also been tossing and turning for a good half hour, unable to fall asleep. If this had been a normal evening, I’d reach for my phone and start scrolling through my Facebook or Instagram feeds to see what folks back home were up to (because there’s always at least one person posting a random musing at any given time). I didn’t want to inadvertently wake my loved ones, so calling and texting were both out of the question.

    Really, I probably could have gotten away with checking my feeds that night. My detox started the next day — and fine, since it was 12:45 a.m., it was technically 45 minutes into “the next day.” But I hadn’t slept yet. And since I hadn’t slept, it wasn’t really “tomorrow,” yet. Right?

    The disappointment I felt at the thought of surrendering before I’d even started my resolution was, thankfully, more powerful than the need to check my Facebook feed. Instead, I read a magazine.

    That was the toughest things ever got. Since then, it’s been surprisingly easy to abandon my social media accounts. It’s actually been, dare I say it, enjoyable. My stress levels have dropped. I have time for other things (so much time that I nearly forgot to write this update — whoops). Plus, I’m sleeping better, and we all know how important sleep is for mental health and overall wellness. Instead of keeping touch via social media (which now feels like such a passive way of communicating), I’ve been calling, texting, and video chatting my friends and family.

    Though there’s no way to know for sure, I’m convinced quitting social media is responsible for these changes. I’ve sequestered myself from the content that moves me to compare my haves/have nots to others’ and overanalyze my life and my choices.

    I’ve also taken up crocheting. But that’s another story.

    Since the publication of my initial post, we’ve received dozens of inspiring notes from readers who are either currently evaluating their own social media use or who have already conquered their FOUL (the fear of an unfulfilled life).

    Thinking of going on your own social media hiatus but need additional encouragement? Read on for advice straight from the mouths (keyboards?) of HuffPost readers.

    Responses have been edited and condensed. Names used with permission.

    Right before I read your article — literally, 15 minutes — I deactivated my Facebook account. I have been afraid to do it for a long time, although I’ve wanted to. It sounds so silly to say that, but I have a similar story, having moved to San Diego from New Jersey eight years ago and using Facebook as a tool to “stay in touch” with family and friends.

    I too, however, found myself being a constant lurker, wondering what I was missing out on and suddenly feeling dissatisfied with my own life. Having a 14-month-old makes it easier to use Facebook as my socialization and friendships, since getting out of the house can be rather difficult, but it always made me feel bad about my life and myself … There has GOT to be something more productive to be doing with my time … So here’s to 2014. To new hobbies and projects instead of constant snooping!

    — Lana Schoen

    I too suffer from your condition. Since waking up I check my Facebook and begin an endless cycle of scrolling and refreshing. I’d even read all the comments on pictures of people that aren’t even friends of mine outside of Facebook. Comparing what they had to what I lacked, how they looked to how much I want to lose 10 pounds, and how much fun they were having at the moment compared to me… It only occurred to me this year to stop comparing and focus on my life.

    So, this year I made a permanent decision. I deleted my Facebook app from my phone and only have the messaging app. That way, anybody who wants to stay in contact is free to, while I keep myself away from scrolling when I’m bored! The only time I get on Facebook now is to upload my pictures for family members and friends to see, while also giving me the ability to look back without worrying about memory use. But those comparing days are over for me.

    — Diana Vazquez

    For months and months I’ve been depressed… my hubby and I have targeted the problem… Facebook. Although I was smart enough to get those braggers off my wall, I too have been feeling somehow unfulfilled, missing out. Even this New Year’s. Before Facebook, I NEVER cared if I was in bed before midnight. This year, I was like, “OMG, I should have stayed up. Look at what I missed!”

    What? If I didn’t see stupid drink posts and ridiculous New Year’s Eve party hat wearing, I would have never felt like I missed anything … Instead, I should have been happy to have chosen reading in bed and hitting the sack earlier than the fireworks. My life is wonderful with my amazing husband. Why do I need more? I’ve never wanted what others have … I’m a big believer that technology has changed this world into a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality, even more than it used to be. Not good.

    — Lauren Shepard, Mantra Creative, Tampa, Fla.

    Rather than having a New Year’s resolution, I thought that I would have a personal challenge. I deleted Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter from my phone in addition to deactivating Facebook. I planned to reactivate after a month, but I am enjoying the benefits of unplugging so much that I may go longer.

    For years, I have been interested in the effects of social media and read articles about it for fun. Although I acknowledge that there are benefits of social media, I think that there are a lot more negative effects. In particular, the social comparison you wrote about, the lack of fully being present, and the lack of real-life interaction. I worried about not staying connected but realize that I can reach out to friends in other ways. Missing someone becomes more real when you can’t see them in the virtual world.

    I have noticed I have a lot more time to do productive things that benefit me such as reorganizing my room, working out, and cooking. The biggest thing I have noticed is how clear my mind feels and how present I am when I am with family and friends.

    — Leah Dornbusch

    When the new year came around and I was at a church service, my gut, instinct, [or] perhaps God himself told me that it would be a good idea to do a social media fast. I didn’t give myself a clear timetable, only a “just do it” mentality.

    I have to admit that it’s been quite difficult. It feels as if I’m fighting compulsive behavior to need to know what’s going on in the lives of hundreds of people I’m not all that close to. And I know that shouldn’t be the case.

    What I’m realizing is that while it’s difficult, I’m also doing other things to compensate, like actually using my time to be productive and get something done for work or reading a book. Additionally, I’m calling and texting people a lot more to directly find out how they are doing and engage in conversation as opposed to relying on social media. And more than anything, I find myself actually being “present” during good, happy and unexpected moments, taking them in, instead of snapping a picture and posting it on Instagram waiting for “likes” to start popping up.

    — Jimmy A. Hernandez

    I feel exactly the same way. I have already deleted my Facebook and Instragam accounts when I found that my obsessive checking was ruining my day. I’d see posts and pictures of couples, babies, homes, travel, and fitness accomplishments, which made me feel really disenchanted with my own life. I have a great job, great friends, a small but fabulous apartment and work out every day, but somehow the comparisons stung. I am a pretty private person and don’t feel the need to share major accomplishments via social media but would rather share with a few close friends and family.

    I definitely agree where the chronic checking or need to see others’ updates was keeping me from enjoying the present moment and making me doubt just how fabulous my life really is. Many of my close girlfriends feel the same way. We also agree that a lot of the posts on Facebook or Instagram are staged. Staged in order to project a certain image of what their life is like. Perhaps all these posts are really smoke n’ mirrors and we are all just trying to keep up with Jones via social media? How much is really true? … Living a simple, minimal life where you can focus on the present moment, relish in your own accomplishments (big and small) and share things with a [close-knit] group of friends rather than projecting to strangers feels amazing.

    — Leah Simeon

    I made one attempt to quit Facebook in January of 2013. I failed after a couple months. A few weeks ago I decided to quit all social media (except Pinterest, of course!). This time it stuck (so far) and I feel more secure about myself than ever. It is such a self-esteem killer and I see one friend in particular suffering — using social media mostly to make her life seem more “fun” and “exciting.” I, on the other hand, finally realized it was making me miserable and cut it out!

    — Anonymous

    I’m at day four right now. I was mostly a Facebook addict, only glancing at Twitter occasionally, and I don’t have an Instagram [account] at all, but I can identify. I decided to commit to a two-week break as a New Year’s resolution, so I deactivated my account on Jan. 1. It hasn’t been difficult. Surprisingly easy, in fact, and while I feel I’ll be back (after my two-week goal), I think even this short break has taught me to utilize the site differently.

    Like I said, it’s only been four days, but it has been so easy that I know the effort is worthwhile. I’ve reached out to friends via text and made a few phone calls to try and get back to more “real life” friendships.

    — Kelly Gallagher

    I read your post and I couldn’t agree more. Young adults, like myself, are in a precarious place in life. Completing our educations, looking for our dream jobs, dealing with relationships and friendships, and all the other things young people deal with. Throw in social media updates into the Crock-Pot, and how easy it is to access our Facebook and Instagram accounts from our phones, and we create a situation of unnecessary anxiety.

    I’m currently working on my second degree, and I know I have a bright future. But you see posts of your friends/acquaintances in Dubai or at weddings, and you start to wonder if you’re doing things right … it’s important to take a break when one feels that way. Social media wasn’t created to make you feel inadequate. Take a step back and regroup.

    — Kika Anazia

  • Refrigerator Busted Sending Spam Emails In Massive Cyberattack
    Your fridge is trying to tell you something.

    Not that you’re out of milk, or that you left the door open (again), but that it has the inside line on some primo male enhancement pills.

    A refrigerator was discovered among a “botnet” of more than 100,000 Internet-connected devices that sent upward of 750,000 malicious emails between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6. So-called “smart” appliances, like multimedia centers, TVs — and yes, a fridge — were behind more than 25 percent of the volume, Internet security firm Proofpoint reports.

    It’s believed to be the first cyberattack involving the “Internet of Things” — a term given to a vast range of devices that operate independently of conventional computers. Despite the humorous imagery of a fridge as an ice-cold criminal, experts warn devices like unprotected smart fridges could be a magnet for criminals in the future.

    “Botnets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse” said David Knight, general manager of Proofpoint’s Information Security division, in a release. “Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur. Enterprises may find distributed attacks increasing as more and more of these devices come on-line and attackers find additional ways to exploit them.”

    Proofpoint declined to specify which make and model of refrigerator had been compromised, but Knight did tell the Los Angeles Times he believes the burden of securing devices is the responsibility of the manufacturers making the appliances, not the consumers buying them.

    “I don’t think a consumer should be expected to know and fix if their refrigerator has been compromised,” Knight told the outlet. “The industry is going to have to do a better job of securing these devices.”

    But don’t blame your fridge for its bad behavior — it was only trying to fit in with the cool kids.

  • How do businesses cope with Bitcoin?
    The attractions (or not) of accepting virtual currencies
  • These $100 3-D-Printed Arms Are Giving Young Sudan War Amputees A Reason To Go On
    Fifty thousand people, many of whom are children, have lost limbs in the war in Sudan. The number of victims is staggering, but one company is working to help by developing inexpensive prosthetics that can be made in about six hours.

    not impossible

    Mick Ebeling, co-founder of Not Impossible Labs — a group that works to “crowd-solve” daunting health care issues — was inspired to find a way to help the mounting number of amputees in Sudan after reading a particularly heartbreaking story published by Time magazine in 2012. The piece profiled an American doctor living in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains and one of his young patients, Daniel Omar.

    Now 16, Omar lost both his arms to an Antonov bomb two years ago while taking care of his family’s cows.

    “Without hands, I can’t do anything,” he told Time. “I can’t even fight. I’m going to make such hard work for my family in the future. If I could have died, I would have.”

    daniel omar

    Fresh off of having created the “The EyeWriter,” a gadget that allowed a paralyzed graffiti artist to paint again, Ebeling was inspired to tackle his next health care challenge.

    He patched together a team capable of producing a low-cost, 3-D-printed arm, Business Insider reported. Backed by Intel and Precipart, an engineering company, the group included the South African inventor of the Robohand and an Australian MIT neuroscientist.

    They devised a way to print an arm in about six hours and that costs about $100, according to Time.

    It’s a pretty incredible feat considering that a standard prosthetic arm can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $30,000, according to Disability World.

    Prepared to launch “Project Daniel,” Ebeling then headed to Sudan equipped with 3-D printers, laptops, plastic and a “goal to build Daniel an arm,” he said in a video about his project.

    Ebeling succeeded in creating an arm for Omar, which has helped restore some of the teen’s independence. He was able to feed himself for the first time in two years.

    Ebeling then went on to train local volunteers in the printing technique, so that they could help victims on their own.

    “If we could teach the locals how to do it themselves, the project could live long after we left,” Ebeling said in the “Project Daniel” video.

    Since Ebeling returned home, the lab has been able to print an arm a week and, according to Business Insider, Omar is now working at the hospital helping to change the lives of other amputees.

    If you think “Technology for the Sake of Humanity” sounds like a decent idea and you’d like to see more solutions like this, consider supporting Not Impossible here.

  • Microsoft just made it harder to break up the company
    Latest sales for Surface, Xbox, and Bing present the next CEO with an increasingly tough decision.
  • Digital Retouching Is Getting Out of Control

    The young and super talented Hungarian singer, Boggie, does not only reveal her new track but also her secret digital make-up in her latest video. It carries a somewhat deep message about how women are nowadays perceived by the public.

    But hasn’t retouching been a part of photography and cinematography for hundreds of years? Working in advertising and creating inspirational images have made me biased to a certain extent. Aren’t we all naturally attracted to beautiful images? So, how much retouching is too much? More importantly, should someone be blamed for the upcoming generation’s deformed perceptions of beauty, created by the advertising industry to meet customer demand?

    Having said that, I believe that extremity leads to danger in all parts of life, not only in image alterations. Discussing this issue is, by all means, healthy. After all, everybody sees life through different lenses. Illusions are illusions and a reality check is important every now and then.

    At the end of the day, it is good for women to learn how to apply the right amount of make up, be it real or digital.

    Just think about it!

  • Net Neutrality Misses Real Internet Problem: ADOPTION
    For the past ten years, since then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell introduced the four Internet Freedoms, we have lived in a de facto net neutrality state. Sure, there have been bumps in the road where corporate overreach temporarily compromised some service offerings, in limited instances. But in those handful of cases, regulators and our system of American jurisprudence stepped in, and, ultimately, the public Interest prevailed.

    In my lifetime, substantial parts of the Internet have never been outright blocked, and the Net has been and will continue to be neutral (a very strange phrase, I might add, for such a dynamic ecosystem).

    What, then, is all the fuss about last week’s D.C. Circuit ruling in Verizon v. FCC?

    The reality is that the decision struck a sort of equilibrium between regulatory and corporate interests, and the net effect is a benefit to consumers. The FCC has unequivocal authority to regulate broadband and Internet service providers in their provision of the same. What’s more, its transparency rule – the one that says ISPs must publicly and prominently disclose their network management practices (like efforts to block or prioritize Internet traffic) in advance – was affirmed. For the record, the network management practices are what “net neutrality advocates” claim they’re concerned about. At the same time, the D.C. Circuit vacated the parts of the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Rules that expressly call for non-discrimination and anti-blocking. The result: ISPs get to experiment with business models now, just like edge providers. Sponsored data anyone?

    So what’s the problem? Everyone seems to lose a little, win a lot in this decision. Yet, some folks are acting as if the Internet is broken (don’t tell Al Gore, he wouldn’t approve) and that we’re headed toward a doomsday scenario.

    Rhetoric aside, provided neither the FCC nor Verizon appeal last week’s decision, we can safely say we’re comfortably still in the net neutral zone we’ve been in for the past ten years.

    But there is a bigger problem the Chicken Littles of the world fail to recognize. While we argue ‘what ifs’ about the injustices that could occur should our ISPs decide to go all 1984 George Orwell on us, nearly 100 million Americans still lack broadband access in their homes. That has nothing to do with net neutrality and everything to do with broadband adoption.

    Depending on which statistics you use, fixed broadband connectivity is available to 95-98% of the country. Yet a full third of our population – mostly low-income, rural, or traditionally underserved communities (read: African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and poor Whites) – remain offline. Studies have shown, it’s not just cost that keeps people offline, especially when programs like Internet Essentials and EveryoneOn (formerly Connect to Compete) offer broadband at starting prices of $9.95/month and computers for as low as $150.00.

    What we have in this country is a broadband value proposition problem, and we’ve not yet done a good enough job of explaining to people just how and why broadband really matters to them. It’s bigger than the question of ‘whether I will be able to access the content of my choosing if XYZ Corp gets its way’. The answer is a resounding NO if you’re not even connected to the baseline “information super highway.”

    Gaps in digital literacy and fear of technology still negatively impact too many people in our society, especially when you consider that the technology and telecommunications sectors of our economy account for a full one-sixth of the national GDP. If half the energy that’s spent arguing problems of tech privilege was actually channeled toward awareness and education campaigns and training programs, we might actually be a more connected nation in which even the most economically disadvantaged among us would be situated to survive, succeed and thrive in life because broadband connectivity enables them to enhance their educational pursuits, obtain affordable healthcare, apply for better employment or receive much-needed job training, or build the latest app or widget that feeds both that secret entrepreneurial drive and the desire for personal wealth creation that so many of us hold near and dear to our hearts wrapped in dreams deferred that we never pursue because we don’t know how or where to get started.

    As someone who has always benefited from technology (I’ve had a computer since I was two; I even bare the distinction of having been bullied while attending Pine Tree Computer Camp at the age of four – though I’m not sure what it says about me that I was picked on by certified computer geeks), the thought of living a life without access to, and the ability to use, the latest technology seems unfathomable. And yet, I am very mindful of how fortunate I am, and just how much (and what) my privilege allows me to do, see, and believe.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with tying ourselves in knots with hyperbolic hypotheticals about what evil fate with befall the webernet and the world in the wake of the D.C. Circuit’s latest decision. In fact, some of the jibber jabber has gotten quite creative and is downright entertaining in certain instances. But the reality is, on balance, net neutrality is safe and we can expect to see some innovation down the pike that could benefit consumers more than the skeptics might think. At best, all this chatter enhances our ability to be rhetorical, linguistic and legalistic gymnasts. At worst, we’re continuing to distract ourselves from the issues that matter most. After all, the question of net neutrality is wholly obsolete to roughly 33% of America’s population.

    If we’re really concerned about the fate of our country and the globe, then we’d stop fretting over the neutrality of the net and really focus our energy on improving its adoption.

  • So Now You Can 3D Print Replicas Of Your Very Own Baby (PHOTO)
    Using ultrasound images or pictures of your newborn, the aptly named company 3D Babies can make a life-like representation of your infant.

    But the Internet seems to be divided: Is the concept creepy or cool?

    “Your pregnancy with this child is a once in a lifetime experience. Recall those feelings with your own 3D Baby,” the company’s website states. The figurine is made using “the latest computer graphics and 3D printing technology.”

    Buyers can customize skin tone (light, medium or dark) and choose from a range of fetal positions. Just like a real life baby, a life-size 3D baby (8 inches crown to rump) will cost you a pretty penny. In this case, $800.

    The idea stemmed from two parents who wanted to cherish the memories of their pregnancy experience and share it with others.

    “This is a great way to share the excitement of your new baby with family and friends. Your 3D Baby will be a treasured family remembrance of your pregnancy and new baby,” the website states.

    Whether the replicas are strange or sweet is up for debate, however.

    “I think it’s just uncanny to see an inanimate object that so closely resembles a living person you know intimately,” The Stir’s Adriana Velez wrote, noting that she’s personally not a fan of the idea. Others disagree: “I think it could be quite cool….am sure as adults a lot of us would love to see what we were like at the beginnings,” a Metro UK commenter wrote.

    Don’t have your own baby from which to fashion a model? Worry not: CNBC notes 3D Babies is offering figurines of little North West, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian’s daughter, for $250.

    It should be noted that 3D Babies isn’t the first company to “immortalize infancy.” In 2012, Japanese engineering company Fasotec partnered with Parkside Hiroo Ladies Clinic in Tokyo to produce 3D replicas of fetuses by converting a MRI scan of the mother’s womb to a 3D model filled with resin.

  • For Some of Us, WWW = IRL
    No doubt you’ve seen some manifestation of a species of essay wherein the author goes cold turkey on the Internet for some length of time, and proceeds to discover themselves anew, or some such. The proliferation of these pieces, and the moral or revelatory high ground they often claim, often makes me roll my eyes so far back that I can read my own thoughts. That’s why this piece by Nathan Jurgenson was such a breath of fresh air. See here his take on this particular meme:

    This concern-and-confess genre frames digital connection as something personally debasing, socially unnatural despite the rapidity with which it has been adopted. It’s depicted as a dangerous desire, an unhealthy pleasure, an addictive toxin to be regulated and medicated. That we’d be concerned with how to best use (or not use) a phone or a social service or any new technological development is of course to be expected, but the way the concern with digital connection has manifested itself in such profoundly heavy-handed ways suggests in the aggregate something more significant is happening, to make so many of us feel as though our integrity as humans has suddenly been placed at risk.

    But has it? Certainly one can be on the Internet, or on one’s smartphone or what have you, “too much,” but what exactly that means has more to do with what one is doing while online than whatever percentage of one’s day is spent doing it. In other words, if you’re staring at Facebook for 12 hours a day, you have a problem, but “the Internet” isn’t it.

    Anyway, more to the point I want to get to, here’s Jurgenson again, talking now more generally about the popular opinion that somehow we’re all overdosing on iPhones, and the “disconnectionist” gurus who blatantly avert their eyes from Retina displays while aloft their high (and very IRL) horses:

    The disconnectionists see the Internet as having normalized, perhaps even enforced, an unprecedented repression of the authentic self in favor of calculated avatar performance. If we could only pull ourselves away from screens and stop trading the real for the simulated, we would reconnect with our deeper truth.

    This is what always bothers me about these types; the assertion or suggestion that we’re not being truly ourselves online. And as someone who has found the exact opposite to true, indeed, as one who has in many ways been redeemed by the Internet Age, I say, fuck that noise.

    As I’ve now documented ad nauseum on my blog (and shall again!), I am a fairly severe introvert. Personal interaction in “the real world” with human beings corporeally in my presence is exhausting and stressful to me, even when said humans are those I love and trust. This has lead to a great deal of energy wasted on hiding myself, be it trying to blend in unnoticed in hostile-seeming situations (like school or when something horrible like sports are taking place), to presenting a falsely extroverted version of myself in evaluative situations like job interviews. I wear myself out in pretending to be a person who, say, really enjoys small talk and networking, or by donning any number of awkward, gawky masks — like those worn by actors of ancient Greece, but so absurdly top-heavy as to make me stumble and topple over mid-choral ode.

    With the exception of performing as an actual actor or musician on stage, the real world has been stifling to whoever or whatever the hell it is I “really” am.

    Online I’ve found a taste of liberation. Not only do I feel more free to expound upon all manner of subjects, to make dumb jokes, and to promote myself with a sincerity I could never muster in meatspace, but perhaps more importantly, I more often feel at ease in simply explaining things about myself as a person, to talk about my kids and my day-to-day life, to unpack some of the mundane stuff as well as the heavier things. Behind the screen, at the keyboard, at the flick of the scrolling display, even in the midst of the cacophony of the Internet, I can communicate without so much of the same noise within my own mind, where each synapse second-guesses the next.

    It’s not so much that I use the Web as some kind of giant confessional with “like” buttons, but that I can just relax a bit more and talk about even boring and trivial things about myself. I even find it easier to be curious about others and their own trivialities, which I rarely am in physical space. I can breathe.

    I’d be curious to know whether many or most of the folks who espouse disconnection are extroverts, if they are biased by their own inclination toward revitalization through in-person human contact, all within a “real world” already largely constructed around extroverted predilections. If I’m on to something, well then of course they see the online life as valueless, or as phony. It doesn’t serve their own needs. But for me, and I suspect for my kind, the Web is the means of expression, the gateway into general society, that we’ve been waiting for. We’re damn lucky it came about it our lifetimes, and you better believe that for us, it’s real life.

  • U.S. Senator To Introduce 'Kill Switch' Legislation To Combat Phone Thefts
    U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will introduce legislation in coming weeks to fight a growing trend of smartphone thefts nationwide by forcing the industry to adopt technology that makes it impossible to reuse stolen devices.

    Klobuchar’s bill would require all phones sold in the United States to have a “kill switch” that shuts down a phone’s call capabilities, Wi-Fi, games and other features when it’s reported stolen. The wireless industry has resisted such a feature, raising questions about whether the legislation will succeed.

    The bill — the first of its kind in Congress — would empower the Federal Communications Commission to issue fines or other penalties against phone manufacturers or wireless carriers that do not comply.

    In an interview, Klobuchar told The Huffington Post that she decided to introduce legislation after hearing about a recent surge of smartphone robberies targeting students at the University of Minnesota, and discovering that phone robberies had become a nationwide problem.

    About 1.6 million Americans had their phones stolen last year, according to Consumer Reports. About 40 percent of robberies in major U.S. cities involve mobile devices, the Federal Communications Commission has noted.

    In her eight years as a prosecutor, Klobuchar said she rarely encountered a phone theft case, but the problem has now become an epidemic.

    “There’s been a major shift,” she told HuffPost. “And that has to do with the value of these phones.”

    Stolen phones can be resold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars on an underground market that connects buyers and sellers around the world. The same iPhone that can cost an American customer just $200 with a two-year service contract can fetch as much as $2,000 in Hong Kong or Brazil, where import taxes have driven up the price of Apple products.

    Klobuchar, who chairs a Senate subcommittee on consumer rights issues, said she plans to hold a hearing on the topic in the coming months.

    Klobuchar is the latest elected official to pressure the industry to find a solution to what has become an international public safety issue. California State Sen. Mark Leno (D) plans to introduce legislation next month that would require every new smartphone sold in the state to carry anti-theft technology.

    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched their “Secure Our Smartphones” initiative last summer, aimed at pressing the industry to adopt technology that could make stolen phones worthless to thieves. More than 100 officials from across the country — including district attorneys and high-level police officials from eight major cities and attorneys general from six states — have joined the effort.

    Apple and Samsung have responded to the growing pressure by announcing new security features last summer that they said would allow consumers to render their devices useless once stolen.

    But the effectiveness of Apple’s new anti-theft feature, which was introduced in September, is still unproven, and wireless carriers have rejected the rollout of Samsung’s kill switch feature to preserve their profits from selling phone insurance, according to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

    Meanwhile, thefts of smartphones and other mobile devices increased in several major cities in 2013, including New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

    Paul Boken, whose 23-year-old daughter, Megan, was killed in an iPhone robbery in 2012, told HuffPost that Apple needs “to do more to make users aware of the usefulness” of its new anti-theft feature. He also said he was “very disappointed” with the rest of the industry’s “lack of progress on the issue.”

    But he was encouraged by Klobuchar’s legislation to deter phone thieves.

    “Initiatives to do something about it seem to be gaining momentum,” he told HuffPost.

  • Edward Snowden Has No Regrets
    Edward Snowden took to the web on Thursday for a chat on a WikiLeaks-affiliated website raising money for his legal defense. In response to reports that some members of the intelligence community want him dead, the former National Security Agency contractor said he has “no regrets.”

    A BuzzFeed story last week quoted a Pentagon official as wanting to put a bullet in Snowden’s head. “It’s concerning, to me, but primarily for reasons you might not expect,” Snowden said Thursday.

    The real reason to be afraid, he said, is that the Pentagon official and others quoted in the story are charged with enforcing the Constitution — but they apparently think they’re allowed to skip over its due process protections.

    “The fact that it’s also a direct threat to my life is something I am aware of, but I’m not going to be intimidated,” Snowden added. “Doing the right thing means having no regrets.”

    A number of prominent U.S. officials — including President Barack Obama — have suggested Snowden should return to the United States to face trial for leaking information about the NSA. Attorney General Eric Holder, meanwhile, seemed to open the door on Thursday to some sort of negotiated settlement for Snowden, who has been holed up in Russia since June.

    But Snowden is having none of it. Because he is charged under the Espionage Act, he said, “there’s no chance to have a fair trial, and no way I can come home and make my case to a jury.”

    “Returning to the US, I think, is the best resolution for the government, the public, and myself, but it’s unfortunately not possible in the face of current whistleblower protection laws, which through a failure in law did not cover national security contractors like myself,” Snowden said.

    Snowden is correct on both points of law. The World War I-era Espionage Act does not contemplate a public interest defense. Former Army private first class Chelsea Manning was explicitly denied the opportunity to raise such a defense during her court martial, at least until sentencing. Similarly, Snowden would likely only be allowed to raise evidence of his motivations during the sentencing phase of a trial.

    The whistleblower protection act Obama signed into law in 2012, meanwhile, contains no protections for government contractors employed for the purpose of national security, as Snowden was.

    Earlier in the chat, Snowden rejected claims in a November Reuters article that he had stolen coworkers’ passwords to gather the documents he leaked. “I never stole any passwords, nor did I trick an army of co-workers,” he wrote.

    Snowden also claimed that he “made tremendous efforts to report these programs to co-workers, supervisors, and anyone with the proper clearance who would listen.” That’s a claim the NSA has rejected in the past.

    Snowden’s chat took place on the same day that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a body appointed by the president, voted that the NSA’s call records collection program is illegal. It was the latest in a line of vindications for Snowden: last Friday Obama said he would seek to change the way the program operates, and in December a federal judge found that it was likely unconstitutional.

    Snowden has been on a minor media blitz in the midst of these developments. In December, he gave the Washington Post a lengthy interview, and earlier this week he called claims by some in Congress that he was a Russian spy “absurd.”

    “My case clearly demonstrates the need for comprehensive whistleblower protection act reform,” Snowden wrote in the web chat. “If we had had a real process in place, and reports of wrongdoing could be taken to real, independent arbiters rather than captured officials, I might not have had to sacrifice so much to do what at this point even the President seems to agree needed to be done.”

  • New Website Aims To Make Pet Adoption More Like Online Dating
    Have you ever wished that adopting an animal were more like online dating?

    No? How about just the fun parts and no rejection, and then you get an exceptional, well-matched new pet at the end of it?

    A new website — now in its beta stage; the full launch is expected soon — aims to bring the least frustrating aspects of looking for love online to the pet rescue market.

    AllPaws.com is the pet project — ahem, sorry — of Darrell Lerner, an entrepreneur whose previous ventures involved actual dating websites.

    With his background, and after surveying the most popular pet adoption websites, Lerner thought he could create a “more forward-thinking, user-friendly” website that would “help a lot more pets get adopted,” he recently told HuffPost. “And, as part of that, if I get to pet a dog every once in a while, it’s win win win.”

    What makes the site more forward-thinking and user-friendly is also what makes it more like an internet dating website: Users have a whole host of preferences they can use when winnowing down potential pets, beyond the standard ones of age, gender and species.

    The extras include coat length and color; animal size; pets’ grooming needs; if they’re good with dogs, cats or kids; if they can live in an apartment; if they’re vaccinated. You can choose a pet who’s playful or one who likes to sit in laps (or one who is both!). You can choose pets by energy level, by the amount of training they’ve had, or how much shedding you can expect once they move in.

    There’s more. AllPaws allows users to save searches, mark favorites, share animals on Facebook and Twitter and even send direct messages. (No, not to the animals themselves. C’mon. It’s to the shelters and rescue groups.) Forums where pet lovers can interact are in the works.

    Lerner says the point of all this is to “make the process more efficient, and generate better matches” — so that ultimately, people will end up with the right pets for them. Which in turn, hopefully, will lead to fewer people returning their adopted pets due to late-discovered incompatibilities.

    “We’re going to be helping animals,” he says. “I really think we’re going to do quite a bit with this site in short order.”

    So far, more than 5,000 people have registered with AllPaws, Lerner tells us. He gave us some figures on how many pets have been listed so far, too: 52,183 dogs, 41,050 cats, 1,258 rabbits, 395 horses, 276 birds, 658 “small & furry” animals (like gerbils and Guinea pigs), 79 barn yard animals (like goats and alpacas) and 238 reptiles.

    Unlike actual online dating sites, however, as of late January, AllPaws has exactly zero pigs.

Mobile Technology News, January 23, 2014

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.

  • Dell's Surface Pro 2 rival appears at Microsoft Store
    The Microsoft Store is selling a high-end Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet that competes with the Surface Pro 2.
  • iTunes Update Brings Wish Lists into View

    Apple has released a minor update to iTunes for both Mac and PC that brings visibility to your Wish List into the app along with other minor improvements.  The new version is 11.1.4 and it is available now via the iTunes website or through the App Store on your Mac.
    Until now, viewing your Wish […]

    The post iTunes Update Brings Wish Lists into View appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Rockstar Consortium agrees to drop patent suit against Huawei
    Apparent settlement closes the book on one of a handful of suits filed against Android device makers by the alliance, which is jointly owned by Apple, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Ericsson, and Sony.
  • Independent Review Board Says NSA Phone Data Program Is Illegal And Should End
    An independent executive branch board has concluded that the National Security Agency’s long-running program to collect billions of Americans’ phone records is illegal and should be ended.
  • Davos 2014: Live Updates From The World Economic Forum
    Wednesday marks the second day of the 2014 World Economic Forum, also known as the Davos Annual Meeting.

    The event, taking place in Switzerland, features such notable speakers as University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent and Peter Bakker of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

    Below, live updates from the 2014 Davos Annual Meeting:

  • No, Netflix Isn't Actually Killing HBO And Showtime, Networks Say
    A market research firm is backing down from its widely circulated report claiming that HBO and other premium TV providers lost subscribers over the last two years while Netflix gained.

    NPD Group removed the press release from its website and issued a “data clarification” statement on Wednesday that said it “should not have called out declines in subscribers for specific premium TV channels, HBO and Showtime.”

    “The data used for the press release pertains to aggregate results for all premium TV channels and does indicate that the overall number of subscribers has declined, based on a representative sample of the U.S. population,” NPD said in a statement to The Huffington Post. “However, upon further examination of the results, there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time.”

    Basically, NPD group says that fewer households are subscribing overall, but those households that are subscribing are subscribing to more premium channels.

    “The universe of overall premium channel subscribers is shrinking, but the subscribers that are sticking with premium TV are taking on more channels,” Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group, told The Huffington Post. “You do have a lot of consumers who are staying in premium TV and bulking up on the number of channels they’re subscribing to.”

    An NPD Group spokesman said that the company would issue a corrected press release this week.

    HBO and other premium TV providers aggressively disputed the original NPD report after it came out on Monday.

    “The research is simply incorrect,” HBO said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

    Rich Greenfield, a prominent media analyst (who, coincidentally, co-hosted Netflix’s earnings call with investors on Wednesday), jumped in on Tuesday evening to discredit the report. In a blog post, Greenfield called the claim “100 percent false.”

    “We believe premium growth has been quite healthy, with absolute premium subscribers now at an all-time high driven by improving quality of content,” Greenfield wrote.

    NPD Group’s original report was picked up by many news outlets, including The Huffington Post.

    NPD surveyed four waves of more than 7,000 consumers — in March and August 2012, and during the same two months in 2013 — and reported that over the last two years, the overall percentage of households that subscribe to premium TV channels declined by 6 percentage points. At the same time, the percentage of households that subscribe to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime Instant Video, increased by 4 percentage points.

    NPD also said the number of subscriptions has decreased, writing that “subscriptions to HBO, Showtime and other premium TV channels have declined over the past two years, as Netflix and other subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services have gained in popularity.”

    Yet HBO said that both HBO and Cinemax “have shown significant domestic subscriber growth in the past two years.”

    HBO and Cinemax added a total of 1.9 million combined domestic subscribers in 2012, Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the CEO of Time Warner, HBO’s parent company, said in an earnings call last year. This number includes so-called churn — people who’ve cancelled their subscriptions.

    Showtime, for its part, said in a statement to HuffPost that NPD’s study “does not accurately reflect actual subscriber counts.” The company cited figures from SNL Kagan, the media research firm, that said Showtime grew by 1.5 million subscribers from March 2012 to September 2013.

    Starz grew from 20.1 million subscribers in March 2012 to 22 million in September 2013, while its sister channel Encore grew from 33.6 million to 35 million over the same period.

    Data from SNL Kagan backs up the networks’ claims. HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz and EPIX all have increased their total subscriber counts in the last two years, according to SNL Kagan. And the percentage of households in the U.S. with premium TV subscriptions actually increased from the first quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of last year, according to SNL Kagan.

    Netflix is also thriving. Subscriptions have surged over the last couple of years, jumping to more than 31.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2013 from 22.02 million in the first quarter of 2012.

    Analysts said the reason people keep shelling out big bucks for premium TV is simple: There’s really good stuff to watch.

    “Content is king. Period. End of report,” said Jim Nail, principal analyst at Forrester, the information and technology research firm. “Most of Netflix is still old movies [and] past seasons of TV shows, and while that has a certain degree of quality, it’s certainly not a full substitute for the latest episode of ‘Boardwalk Empire’ or ‘Game of Thrones.'”

    Full statement from NPD Group:

    A recent press announcement from The NPD Group that was released on Monday, January 20, 2014 (“Cord Shaving? SVOD Subscribers Increase, as Premium TV Subscribers Decline, According to The NPD Group”) should not have called out declines in subscribers for specific premium TV channels, HBO and Showtime. The data used for the press release pertains to aggregate results for all premium TV channels and does indicate that the overall number of subscribers has declined, based on a representative sample of the U.S. population. However, upon further examination of the results, there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time. In that case, faithful premium channel subscribers are becoming more so – which would be consistent with the subscription increases being reported by individual channels.

  • Report: iOS users consume more data than others
    A study that compared how much more cellular data is being consumed by smartphone buyers than back when the first of the “modern” 3G smartphones — the iPhone 3G — came out in 2008 has found that use has gone up an average of around 600 percent in developed markets, and around 10-fold in developing markets. The report, by network tech firm JDSU, concluded that Apple’s iOS devices lead the charge on downloading, taking six of the top 10 “hungriest” positions.


  • The Coming of the Second Machine Age

    Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson, from MIT’s Center for Digital Business, have a new book out this week called, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.

    McAfee and Brynjolfsson came to our attention in October 2011 with their thoughtful piece on data driven decision-making that ran in the Harvard Business Review. At the time, the two of them struck many of us as ahead of the curve on the phenomenon of big data and its impact on business. Since then, my colleagues and I have only become more impressed by what they’ve written.

    That’s why we invited McAfee to join EMC’s leadership team in Boston a couple of weeks ago to talk with us about how every business model in every industry is going to be redefined in some form by software. If the first machine age was about the automation of manual labor and horsepower, the second machine age is about the automation of knowledge work, thanks to the proliferation of real time, predictive data analytics, machine learning and the Internet of Things — an estimated 200 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, all of them generating unimaginable quantities of data.

    McAfee and Brynjolfsson’s favorite example of automated work is Google’s self-driving car, a marvel of ingenuity enabled by technology’s ability to capture the data of so many moving variables and act on them instantly, free of human error. If a self-driving car seems far-fetched, how about software that grades students’ essays more objectively, consistently and quickly than humans? Or news articles on Forbes.com about corporate earnings previews — “all generated by algorithms without human involvement.”

    We used to speak about how organizations had access to databases. Now, leading organizations are building “data lakes” — giant reservoirs of information in heterogeneous formats, to aid decision-making and to offer new services to customers. Mobile apps collect intelligence from vast networks of drivers on highways to direct us to the least congested routes between points A and B. “Massive online open courses” offer thousands of college level students access to the best lecturers halfway around the world — at a fraction of the cost.

    But progress always has a flip side — and its critics. Sweeping technology-driven transformations are as much about disruption and dislocation as opportunity. To explore this trade-off, we at EMC are hosting a breakfast conversation in Davos on Thursday with McAfee, Brynjolfsson and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who has written about these topics in previous books and columns. No conversation about the future can ignore the human costs of progress or the discomforting question of whether everyone is adequately prepared.

    On this question, McAfee and Brynjolfsson are generally optimistic about the future of technology and the opportunities for humanity. The good news is, living standards increase with gains in productivity. But why are so many innovative large companies awash in cash while unemployment rates have hardly budged?

    Harvard Business School’s Clayton Christensen, who has devoted a career to studying disruptive innovation, spoke with us about this recently. The challenge, he notes, is that so much of the innovation we see in the world today is efficiency-based in nature: it’s about doing familiar things in cheaper, more efficient ways.

    In The Second Machine Age, the great software-defined businesses of tomorrow will be the ones that usher in breakthrough innovations that do new things entirely — the kind of innovation that generates new value by opening up unforeseen market opportunities: new products, new services, new ways of servicing customers, and new jobs. That’s what the first machine age was all about. Ready or not, the second machine age is already underway. And the value and disruption it will generate will stagger us all.

  • Icahn urges eBay to spin off PayPal
    Activist investor Carl Icahn calls on e-commerce giant eBay to spin off its payments business, PayPal.
  • Apple working on update to resolve iOS 7 mystery crash
    Apple has acknowledged a problem with iOS 7 that can cause devices to randomly crash and reboot, an issue most commonly seen when power levels on the device dip below 30 percent. While the company had not previously acknowledged the issue, it confirmed on Wednesday that it is working on a fix that will appear in an upcoming software update. The problem is not currently believed to affect all users.


  • How Steve Jobs Saved The Day For This Bestselling Author
    Dr. David Agus, M.D., author and co-founder of Navigenics, may have never made it to the New York Times’ bestseller list if it weren’t for Steve Jobs.

    In a recent appearance on HuffPost Live in Davos, Switzerland, where the 2014 World Economic Forum annual meeting is taking place, Agus said Jobs told him it was a bad idea to use the word “health” in the title of his book, because it turns people off and makes their eyes glaze over.

    Agus went on to write the No. 1 bestseller The End Of Illness.

    Watch a clip of Doraiswamy’s interview above, and read more from Davos below:

  • Seven secrets of the world wide web
    Hidden delights on the web’s most popular sites
  • Design of iPhone 6 'locked down,' claims analyst
    Cowen and Company says the design of the iPhone 6 is decided. The investment firm also has something to say about the rumored 13-inch iPad.
  • Sorry Scoble, Wearables Are Not Doomed

    Given my recent Google Glass experience, and Google’s announcement of the smart contact lenses, I interviewed Tim Moore the founder and CEO of Venture Glass, which creates wearable products and solutions, and was recently identified as “an emerging thought leader in wearable technology.” He has over 20 years of experience in digital leadership, from The New York Times Company, to the founder of multiple successful start-up companies.


    “Don’t be blinded by technology analysts, look at the growth and it’s clear, wearables are now.

    Image courtesy of Google from – Thursday January 16, 2014: Google announces smart contact lens project.

    I’ve known Tim Moore for some time now and this much is clear, he gets it. His work via Venture Glass, Google Glass, and wearable consulting is well known. He is always honest about the details of wearable’s being “under construction,” but he sees their uses in ways that are visionary to say the least. It just takes a matter of seconds with Tim to know he is from the future (which was pleasant for me, as I love talking about the flux capacitor).

    So, I spoke to him about just that, the future of wearables and Google’s announcement on smart contact lenses. Enjoy!

    1. Tim, let’s get right to it. Some have said wearables are doomed or a waste of time. Your thoughts?

    They are not doomed, they are under construction for sure, but I’m seeing the looks on people’s faces when they try on wearables that actually work and it’s amazing to see their unprodded reaction. And, it’s not about the device, it’s about what it does, the functions, the possibilities. While the tech press share a lot of attention grabbing headlines, they often are promoting their opinion not the technical facts and a view of the future. I prefer to see the future, and it’s clear in our young people. Children like 5-year-old Kali who reacts like nothing I’ve ever seen before when it comes to her first time wearing Google Glass help me. These real life reactions from real people signal to me that, sooner rather than later, wearables will not just replace mobile phones but will become welcomed assistants used throughout our daily lives.

    2. So, what do we say to those calling this a waste of time?

    Well, facts are facts, and the numbers don’t lie. Wearables are currently a $3-$5 Billion dollar industry. In as little as 18-24 months, or in late 2015/early 2016, the wearable industry is estimated to be at nearly $50 billion dollars a year. That’s almost double what the entire film industry generated in 2012, just as a reference point. And wearable’s are just the beginning, looking ahead, (while we may be a number of years off from this video), we will get their much sooner than many think.

    3. How about what Google announced, this smart contact lens. How will that change “glassification” or “wearification”? Health eh?

    It will. Google knows what they are doing and this isn’t just about wearables and convenience. This is a business decision. As the waistline of young Americans grow larger and larger, so does the pool of diabetes candidates. This is a great business decision by Google, to see the future, and create a solution to simplify the lives of others and make a great deal of money along the way. Remember, contact lenses are not new, neither are smart contacts for that matter. Scientists have been working on these concepts for years. It’s the software that monitors blood sugar levels via tear glucose and measure it great accuracy that is what makes this worth investing in.

    4. How about immediate wearables, like Google Glass for instance. Where will this hit, and where will it miss?

    Again, based on numbers and interest levels, it’s obviously a hit with technology people and consumers alike. At CES this year, smart vision, along with wearables, stole the show and dominated the press coming out of the show. While it’s still under construction, I see the finished product for consumer and enterprise, and it’s beautiful. Health is very interesting, and I know this is where you are focus, health will be interesting!

    5. So, Robert Scoble is wrong (and I am being deliberately provocative)?

    I love Robert and have tons of respect for all he does, but yes, when he made the ‘doomed’ statement (which is all people remember) he was wrong. If he was right and truly believed what he said, he’d turn in his Google Glass and wait until the year 2019 and jump in at the last minute to cash in, based on the year of 2020 being his projected tipping point for Glass’ success. I’ll hand mine in before he will, and that’s not going to happen either.

    Thank you Tim.

    This interview was a pleasure, Richie.

  • VIDEO: How London is embracing the Bitcoin
    Emilia Papadopoulos reports on the trading of the virtual currency, Bitcoin, in London.
  • Parents Ask Google If Their Sons Are Geniuses And If Their Daughters Are Fat
    By Amanda Marcotte for Slate

    One of the unintended consequences of the digital era is that it leaves a historically unprecedented pile of evidence of our innermost thoughts and concerns. Google’s simple search bar has turned into a dumping ground for the questions that we may be afraid to ask out loud, which is why it’s a perfect place to look and see if modern parents, who are often careful to claim publicly that they treat male and female children equally, are privately exerting different expectations and pressures based on gender.

    Seth Stephens-Davidowitz writes for the New York Times on his research looking at the different concerns that parents bring to Google when it comes to sons and daughters. He finds, unsurprisingly, that despite a decade-plus of “girl power” cheerleading, parents still believe that what matters about sons is their intelligence and what matters about girls is their looks.

    While girls are 11 percent more likely, in the real world, to be in gifted programs, parents are way more likely to look at their sons and feel the soaring hope that they detect signs of burgeoning genius. Stephens-Davidowitz found that for every 10 Google queries asking, “Is my daughter gifted?” there were 25 asking, “Is my son gifted?” Parents were way more likely to ask about sons being geniuses or intelligent than they were about daughters. But the attention paid to boys’ brains over girls’ showed up on the other side of the spectrum, too, with worried parents 52 percent more likely to ask if sons were “stupid” than daughters and 46 percent more likely to ask if sons were “behind” than daughters.

    It’s not that daughters are ignored in the world of Google inquiries, however. Shift the focus to the area directly under the actual brain and suddenly interest in daughters surges. Boys are slightly more likely to be overweight than girls, but girls’ weight concerned parents a lot more. For every 10 inquiries about sons being overweight, there were 17 about daughters. Indeed, there’s a lot of fear that the daughters of America are not cutting it in the looks department. There were three times as many inquiries about whether a daughter is “ugly” than for a son. And yes, it’s hard to understand why parents would think Google knows the answer.

    While it’s tempting to write off the entirety of this survey as yet another example of how parents fail children by aggressively instilling sexism from an early age, the picture is a bit more complicated than that. Plenty of parents are actively worried about how well the children they’re raising will do when released from the nest into the real world. And parents do have reason to believe that women pay a much higher penalty for being overweight or considered unattractive than men do. And that’s just in the workplace. Parents are also generally interested in raising children that are social and romantic successes, and while that’s harder for social scientists to research, just living in the world should tell us that women’s looks and weight matter more than men’s. Needless to say, getting married matters way more for a woman to be considered a success than for a man, and parents aren’t immune to feeling that pressure. Even if a parent feels guilty about holding daughters to a higher standard in the looks department, fears that a daughter will be treated poorly as an adult if she’s heavy or considered homely likely override the desire to be fair. It’s not cool giving your daughter a complex about her looks, but that parents get a little aggressive in this department is somewhat understandable.

    Of course, the tendency to see every utterance that comes out of a boy’s mouth as indicative of his future genius while treating the same behavior from girls with indifference is just plain old sexism that can’t be excused in any way. This isn’t the bad old days where a woman’s intelligence had little bearing on her future success, and in fact, women outnumber men on college campuses. Parents, your early talking girl is just as likely to be a burgeoning Einstein as your boy is. No need to hold back in discussing your daughter’s intelligence with the search bar on Google.

    Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, Alternet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

    How to Talk to a Woman Without Saying, “Great Boots!”: A Guide for Women
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    Welfare Works

  • Marijuana Ads Banned On Google, Facebook And Twitter
    “Ganjapreneurs” are going to have to find another way to market their legal products online because Google, Facebook and Twitter are not going to let marijuana businesses advertise on their websites.

    Even in states like Colorado and Washington which have legalized the sale of recreational marijuana to adults, the Internet giants are sticking to their existing drug advertising policies.

    “If Google and Facebook can target alcohol ads to adults, they should be able to target ads to adults about a less harmful substance like marijuana in states where it is legal,” said Mason Tvert, communications director for Marijuana Policy Project and key backer of Amendment 64 which legalized recreational weed in Colorado, to The Huffington Post. “Such an arbitrary and hypocritical decision is not going to sit well with a lot of people who utilize these websites.”

    According to the Facebook Advertising Guidelines, “Ads may not promote or facilitate the sale or consumption of illegal or recreational drugs, tobacco products, or drug or tobacco paraphernalia.”

    Tim Rathschmidt, a spokesman for Facebook, told HuffPost that they do allow ads to promote advocacy and even the legalization of marijuana, however the ads cannot promote or facilitate the sale or consumption of illegal or recreational drugs. “The legality around the sale and use of marijuana greatly varies around the world,” Rathschmidt said, “which is part of the reason why we strictly prohibit the promotion of the sale and use of the drug itself. The risk of attempting to allow ads promoting the drug in certain states or countries where it is legal is too high for us to consider at this time. However, we work pretty hard to differentiate ads promoting the sale or use of the drug versus ads promoting advocacy or the legalization of the drug. The latter is the type of content we do not want to censor through ads, and is widely considered different than something promoting the actual drug itself.”

    Rathschmidt noted that Facebook has no plans to change the policy currently, but that they do often revisit policies.

    Twitter has a similar drug policy prohibiting the promotion of “drugs and drug paraphernalia globally.”

    The Twitter policy applies to illegal drugs which they define as a “substance sold to induce unnatural euphoria, unnatural highs or lows, psychoactive effects, or altered reality,” all accessories related to drug use like bongs or pipes and even products or services that feature access to drugs like a dispensary directory.

    Google’s official AdWords policy doesn’t allow the “promotion of illegal drugs, legal or synthetic highs, herbal drugs, chemicals and compounds with psychoactive effects, drug paraphernalia, or aids to pass drug tests.” Google specifically cites marijuana as one of the several drugs for which it does not allow ads and confirmed with HuffPost that the company hasn’t made any changes to the current policy, but that updates and reviews of their AdWords policies are frequent.

    Both Google and Facebook do allow alcohol advertising.

    Adweek first reported on the advertising problem for marijuana businesses on Google and Twitter saying that neither company is open to sponsored search ads or tweets from small marijuana shops.

    The ad policies aren’t exclusive to Google, Facebook and Twitter — other major search engines, like Bing and Yahoo, also have strict bans for drug-related advertisements on their websites and specifically site “recreational” drugs as part of the ban.

    HuffPost reached out to Twitter for comment and will update if we receive one.

  • Netflix CEO Basically Calls HBO His 'Bitch'
    Things between HBO and Netflix just got a little bit … awkward.

    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings took a shot at HBO CEO Richard Plepler in an earnings call on Wednesday after a JP Morgan analyst asked Hastings what he thought about Netflix subscribers sharing passwords. The analyst noted that the HBO CEO said last week that he doesn’t mind when people share their HBO Go passwords.

    Hastings had a surprising response:

    “So I guess Plepler … doesn’t mind me then sharing his [Netflix] account information. So it’s plepler@hbo.com and his password is ‘netflix bitch.’ “

    It’s unclear whether or not Hastings said “Netflix’s bitch or Netflix bitch,” and it doesn’t matter. The response from the analysts moderating the call — laughing at first and then silence — is priceless.

    Netflix has made no secret it wants to take on HBO. Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told GQ in an article published last year that “The goal … is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.”

    While Netflix now has more paying U.S. subscribers than HBO has, it has a long way to go when it comes to original content: HBO received a whopping 27 Emmy awards last year, while Netflix took home three.

  • Online Free Speech Threatened in Turkey
    The future of free speech online in Turkey hangs in the balance as the Turkish parliament considers legal provisions that would suppress Internet speech. Turkey’s blemished human rights record has already threatened the nation’s bid to join the European Union, and these proposed measures would further undermine human rights values championed by the EU. The world is watching. Turkish lawmakers must vote against the proposal.

    As president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to battle a high-profile corruption scandal and enters a new election cycle, the ruling Justice and Development Party is seeking to amend a set of Internet regulations, known as Law no. 5651, to give the government greater power over Internet content and expanded access to information about users. Because the measures are buried in a larger omnibus bill that will be submitted to a single vote, there is a real risk that the sweeping amendments will become law. The Parliament, which will likely vote within the next two weeks, should reject the amendments to Law no. 5651 and support the human rights of Turkish anti-corruption whistleblowers and ordinary Internet users alike.

    There are a number of red flags for Internet users’ free expression and privacy rights in the proposed measures. First, the amendments would require hosting providers to store data about users’ online activity for a period of one to two years. Government officials would be able to request these records without seeking a court’s permission. This sort of data retention mandate can discourage Internet users’ willingness to share and access information online, particularly information about sensitive topics such as health, politics, and religion. Government access to rich stores of information about a user’s online activity also raises significant privacy concerns, especially when this access can happen without judicial oversight.

    The amendments also include broad content blocking provisions that could be abused to suppress legitimate speech, including information about government corruption. Under the proposed measures, the government could force service providers to block access to content that violates a person’s “privacy of private life,” a standard that has no clear definition. The provider would have to comply with the blocking demand within four hours, without prior judicial review of the content. This type of immediate takedown requirement is highly vulnerable to abuse – even with after-the-fact judicial review of the demand, it would allow the government and private actors to suppress speech essentially at will. This tactic could be used to dramatically restrict free expression online, disrupting reporting on breaking news or advocacy around time-sensitive events, including elections, trials, and legislative votes.

    Amendments to Law no. 5651 are new, but the struggle for a free and open Internet in Turkey is ongoing. Courts blocked access to YouTube in 2007, but the ban was lifted in 2010. Just last week, video service Vimeo was also blocked temporarily after a court decision. In 2011, the Turkish government attempted to introduce mandatory Internet filters, but withdrew the proposal in the face of heavy criticism. And after nationwide protests last summer featured significant use of social media by activists, Erdoğan called Twitter a “menace” used to spread lies.

    The issue of Turkish Internet blocking has even reached the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In 2012, following a Turkish court order to block all Google sites due to a single post, the ECHR ruled that the overly broad block violated the right to freedom of expression. The ECHR also determined that the Turkish legal system was insufficient to prevent abusive and arbitrary blocking. Two years after the ECHR ruling, the ruling party is not only failing to heed the warnings of the ECHR, but also proposing measures that actively defy them. It must reverse course and should focus its efforts on reform.

    Turkey is an incredibly influential country that has the potential to bridge many of the divides between the East and West. The country needs a forward-looking Internet policy that respects free speech online and demonstrates its commitment to human rights. These proposals would be a major step back for the global Internet and the people of Turkey.

Mobile Technology News, January 22, 2014

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.

  • Collymore accuses Twitter over abuse
    Former footballer Stan Collymore accuses Twitter of not doing enough to combat abusive messages after he was targeted by internet trolls.
  • Russia Accused Of Hacking Hundreds Of Western, Asian Companies
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. cybersecurity firm says it has gathered evidence that the Russian government spied on hundreds of American, European and Asian companies, the first time Moscow has been linked to cyber attacks for alleged economic – rather than political – gains.
    According to the firm, CrowdStrike, the victims of the previously unreported cyber espionage campaign include energy and technology firms, some of which have lost valuable intellectual property.
    CrowdStrike declined to go into detail about those losses or to name any victims, citing confidentiality agreements related to its investigation.
    Officials with the Russian Interior Ministry could not be reached for comment early on Wednesday in Moscow.
    “These attacks appear to have been motivated by the Russian government’s interest in helping its industry maintain competitiveness in key areas of national importance,” Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of CrowdStrike, told Reuters on Tuesday evening.
    While cybersecurity researchers have in the past said that China’s government was behind cyber espionage campaigns against various corporations dating back as far as 2005, Alperovitch said this is the first time the Russian government has been linked to cyber intrusions on companies.
    He said that CrowdStrike has been following the activities of this Russian group, which it dubbed “Energetic Bear,” for two years. The firm believes the Russian government is behind the campaign because of technical indicators, as well as analysis of the targets chosen and the data stolen.
    “We are very confident about this,” Alperovitch said. Victims include European energy companies, defense contractors, technology companies and government agencies, according to the CrowdStrike report.
    Manufacturing and construction firms in the United States, Europe and Middle East as well as U.S. healthcare providers were also cited as targets.
    Alperovitch, who is of Russian ethnic origin and now lives in the Washington, D.C., area, is an expert on cyber espionage who rose to prominence while working for McAfee Inc. While there he managed a team of researchers who produced a landmark January 2010 report that described how Chinese hackers had launched an unprecedented series of attacks known as “Operation Aurora” on Google Inc and dozens of other companies.
    In 2012, he co-founded CrowdStrike, which collects intelligence about the activities of hacking groups around the world and sells software to thwart such attacks.
    He told Reuters that the data his firm has obtained about Energetic Bear suggests that authorities in Moscow have decided to start using cyber espionage to promote Russia’s national economic interests.
    “They are copying the Chinese play book,” he said. “Cyber espionage is very lucrative for economic benefit to a nation.”
    (Reporting by Jim Finkle, additional reporting by Megan Davies in Moscow; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Ken Wills)
  • Immense Unease Over Advertisers Nabbing Student Data: Poll
    As technology continues to seep into U.S. classrooms, an overwhelming number of parents and others worry that children’s private information may not be secure.

    A whopping 89 percent of Americans reported they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about “advertisers using personal data about children to market to them,” according to a nationally representative survey conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of Common Sense Media, an advocacy group for children and families. The survey asked questions of 800 registered voters, including 227 parents, by phone earlier this month, and has a 3.5 percent margin of error.

    The poll found that while only 37 percent of the public has “seen, read, or heard” “some” or “a great deal” about schools collecting, storing and sharing information, including age, weight and grades, 90 percent are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about private companies having access to student data.

    “Student privacy and the protection of data is about to explode as an issue in the United States,” said James Steyer, who heads Common Sense Media. “The numbers are off the charts. It’s clear that students’ personal and private information must not be for sale. Period.”

    Over the last few years, “data-driven instruction” has become a buzzword in education, with the idea behind it included in the pitches of education technology vendors and the federal government’s Race to the Top — District competition, in which school districts vie for cash in part by tailoring education plans to individual students (the Department used the phrase “personalized learning”). Proponents see technology that uses data collection as key to showing teachers which skills students are missing and what motivates learning. School districts are increasingly using cloud computing to store thousands of digital records for each student.

    Because the field is new, it’s largely unregulated.

    Ninety-five percent of school districts in the U.S. rely on cloud computing, storing data on remote servers connected to the Internet, according to recent report from the Fordham University School of Law. The Fordham paper found that only one-fourth of districts tell parents about these services and one-fifth of districts don’t have policies explicitly governing their use. Many contracts between districts and technology vendors don’t have privacy policies, and less than 7 percent of the contracts restrict vendors from selling student information. The agreements rarely address security, according to the Fordham research.

    Even advocates of increasing the use of data to inform education acknowledged the survey’s implications.

    “The survey points to the need for states, districts and schools to not only follow existing laws and regulations that govern the appropriate use of student data, and to make every effort to safeguard student privacy,” said Dakarai Aarons, director of communications and external affairs for the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit that advocates using student information to improve instruction. “It’s imperative that transparency exist so parents know what data is collected, who has access and for what purpose.”

    Common Sense Media is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps families navigate the world of technology and lists Chelsea Clinton, Ezekiel Emanuel, Robert Fisher and Geoffrey Canada as board members. The group has received major grants from the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Anschutz Foundation.

    In October, Common Sense Media sent a letter to 16 education technology vendors asking them to restrict the use of student data to instructional purposes — not commercial ones.

    Steyer said in an interview that he first came across the privacy issue as co-chair of the LEAD Commission, a group President Barack Obama assembled to explore education technology. The LEAD Commission evolved into ConnectED, an Obama initiative that seeks to get 99 percent of schools high-speed Internet connections within five years.

    “As we started looking at the plan to wire all the classrooms in America and the increasing numbers of blended learning classrooms and all these schools going high-tech, we also saw that privacy concerns were going to emerge,” Steyer said. “Data is used to track achievement, but the issue is making sure data is only used for student advancement purposes.”

    Companies like inBloom, a Gates Foundation-sponsored student database, have aroused suspicion in parents. InBloom launched with $100 million and a plan to work with states to track student information — including grades and addresses — from kindergarten through high school. According to Reuters, district administrators would have legal control over the information, but inBloom could share some of it with vendors.

    Parents scared of potential misuse of their children’s data protested, and every state that had signed up to use inBloom’s services backed out — except for New York, which recently announced it would postpone its implementation due to technical reasons. A group of 12 parents in New York announced they would seek a restraining order to prevent the state from uploading student information to the company.

    After reviewing the survey, Adam Gaber, inBloom’s vice president of communications, issued a statement to The Huffington Post stressing his organization’s commitment to security.

    “The promise of digital learning enables districts to further empower all teachers to personalize learning more quickly and easily,” Gaber said in an email. “But to ensure this trend has staying power, the privacy and security of student information must come first. For inBloom, our top priority has always been to develop and deliver best-in-class security protections for our systems and the information that passes through them. Through inBloom, districts will be able to more securely store student data using security measures that exceed those currently used by most districts.”

    Steyer said he expects “key states” to pass legislation to make sure districts shore up data security. Already, in West Virginia, the Board of Education passed a resolution saying it would keep students’ personal information in the hands of the school system. Legislators in Alabama, Georgia and New York have proposed privacy legislation. Some of these proposals would curtail outside access to information, such as Social Security numbers, without parental consent. A bill in Oklahoma would prohibit cloud computing companies from processing student data for commercial purposes. And Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) recently said he would introduce federal legislation that would prohibit outside contractors from owning student data.

    According to the survey, 91 percent of voters support laws that would require schools to notify parents before turning over student data, 89 percent support requiring “tighter security standards” for cloud data, and 77 percent support prohibiting the sale of student data to advertisers.

  • Cisco study: 99 percent of mobile malware aimed at Android
    Apple’s SVP of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, tweeted on Tuesday a link to Cisco’s 2014 Annual Security Report without further comment. The study, which looked at both the chances of mobile users “encountering” malware or social-engineering attacks as well as the nature of mobile-specific malware, found that Android users were both the most likely to encounter malware, and that 99 percent of device-targeted malware is aimed at Android.


  • IBM top executives to forgo bonuses
    The chief executive and senior management of IBM, the world’s biggest computer-services provider, say they will forgo their bonuses for 2013.
  • Report: 3G subscribers in China grew 79 percent in 2013
    Apple’s timing on its years-in-the-making deal with China Mobile may turn out to have been prescient: the country’s middle class is expanding rapidly, and with it the ability to enjoy services such as 3G and now LTE smartphone service. According to a new report from Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, the country grew its 3G-using cellphone subscriber base by 79 percent in 2013, to a total of 417 million users.


  • This 3D Printer, Capable Of Building A House In A Day, Could Change Construction Forever
    Imagine being able to lease a 3D printer to build your entire house.

    The technology, called Contour Crafting, is already here and can build a 2,500-square-foot home in 20 hours.

    The massive robot printer was invented by University of Southern California professor Behrokh Khoshnevis, who says that the technology is so versatile that it can be used to build homes in slums or human habitats on Mars.

    The technology is ideal for the world’s slums and areas destroyed by natural disasters, claims Khoshnevis, because the robot’s construction is cheaper, stronger, faster, safer and more eco-friendly than manual construction.

    Khoshnevis also says NASA is supportive of using the technology to build lunar habitats, laboratories and roads on the Moon or Mars that could eventually house human life. NASA did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

    He points out that construction is far behind manufacturing when it comes to automation.

    “If you look around yourself, pretty much everything is made automatically today — your shoes, your clothes, home appliances, your car,” he said during a TED talk. “The only thing that is still built by hand are these buildings.”

    Construction as we know it today is wasteful, costly and often over budget, he said. It is more dangerous for workers than mining and agriculture, resulting in 10,000 deaths a year, according to Khoshnevis. He says Contour Crafting offers construction with less waste, noise, dust or harmful emissions.

    The technology also allows for unprecedented flexibility in architecture, Khoshnevis says.

    “They don’t have to look like track houses because all you have to do is change a computer program,” he said during the TED talk. “The walls do not have to be linear. They can use any kind of curve. Therefore, you can really execute very exotic beautiful architectural features without incurring extra cost.”

    This is how Contour Crafting would work, according to the video above: “On a cleared and leveled site, workers would lay down two rails a few feet further apart than the eventual building’s width and a computer-controlled contour crafter would take over from there,” Brad Lemley from Discover Magazine explained to MSNBC.

    “A gantry-type crane with a hanging nozzle and a components-placing arm would travel along the rails,” he said. “The nozzle would spit out concrete in layers to create hollow walls, and then fill in the walls with additional concrete… humans would hang doors and insert windows.”

    The robot can also tile the floors, install plumbing, install electrical wiring and even paint or apply wallpaper.

    Khoshnevis disputes concerns about potential job losses from such technology. In fact, he says it will create new jobs that are safer and that will allow women and older workers to participate more in the construction industry.

    Khoshnevis is planning to establish a company to commercialize the technology and hopefully make it available for purchase in a few years, he told the USC student newspaper Daily Trojan.

    Ultimately, Khoshnevis thinks that Contour Crafting will replace construction as we know it, reduce costs and make construction accessible to anyone.

    “Imagine a Contour Crafting machine for lease at you local Home Depot,” the researcher’s site reads.

  • 7 Ways Bill Gates Is Fighting Common Stereotypes About The Poor
    In their annual letter published on Tuesday, Bill and Melinda Gates addressed a number of claims about global poverty often used to argue against giving aid to countries that need it most — and debunked each and every one.

    Read the letter in its entirety here.

    Myth No. 1: Poor countries are doomed to remain poor.

    Fact: Citizens of countries once said to be “trapped in poverty” are now earning competitive salaries. Since 1960, China’s income per person has increased eightfold and India’s has quadrupled. Even smaller countries are seeing vast improvements. Botswana, for example, has witnessed a 30-fold increase in per capita income, Bill Gates noted.

    Myth No. 2: There is no hope for Africa.

    africa poverty

    Fact: Africa has its share of problems, but the continent has also come a long way on a number of fronts. Since 1960, the life expectancy of women in sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 41 to 57, the chairman of Microsoft said. Whereas an estimated 40 percent of African children were in school in 1970, now more than 75 percent are pursuing education. Also, the number of AIDS-related deaths dropped 38 percent in Eastern and Southern Africa between 2005 and 2011, according to the United Nations.

    Myth No. 3: Helping almost every country achieve middle-income status will just make some problems worse.

    Fact: It’s true that too much development can put a further strain on the environment, but that’s not reason enough to stop helping struggling countries, Bill Gates wrote. The key is simply to develop cheaper and cleaner sources of energy and to recognize that as more people become educated, they’ll be able to tackle these problems on their own.

    Myth No. 4: Foreign aid is a big fat waste.

    foreign aid

    Fact: We’re not committing as much money to foreign aid as naysayers may have you think. Bill Gates noted that Norway, the most generous nation in the world, allots less than 3 percent of its budget to foreign aid. The U.S. allots less than 1 percent, which comes to about $30 billion a year.

    While that certainly isn’t pocket change, the context is key, especially when considering where this money is going. It’s being spent on vaccines, education, family planning and other life-saving tools that keep children alive and empower them to become functioning members of society who can make a difference.

    Myth No. 5: Aid holds back normal economic development.

    Fact: Simply put, aid gives struggling countries the cushion they need to stand on their own two feet. According to Bill Gates, a number of countries that once heavily relied on aid to survive hardly get any today. Those include Botswana, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru and Thailand, among others.

    Myth No. 6: Saving lives leads to overpopulation.

    pregnant african woman

    Fact: According to Melinda Gates, parents are actually more inclined to have a lot of kids when they don’t feel certain that their children will survive. In Afghanistan, for example, the child mortality rate is very high, yet Afghan women have an average of 6.2 children each, she noted. So even though more than 10 percent of Afghan children don’t survive, the country’s population is expected to grow to 55 million from 30 million by 2050.

    Myth No. 7: The world is getting worse.

    Fact: Yes, there are still plenty of problems that have to be addressed, but we’ve made an incredible amount of progress and have much more to look forward to. India is on track to be officially rid of polio this year, and the world could be polio-free by 2018. Since 1990, childhood death rates have been cut in half and maternal deaths have dropped by nearly the same share, according to the World Health Organization. Anti-female genital mutilation campaigns are making progress in a number of countries, and more women in the developing world are getting access to family planning resources.

  • What happened to the McIntosh apple?
    The apple that launched the Apple empire 30 years ago
  • VIDEO: Data recorder analyses driving
    American car giant General Motors are offering racing enthusiasts a ‘performance data recorder’ on its Corvette range.
  • We May Have Stumbled Upon The Greatest Tinder Photo Ever
    There are a lot of dos and don’ts to consider when posting a photo to Tinder, the dating app that prompts you to like or dislike someone based entirely on their picture. Don’t post a selfie of just your abs — you are more than your impossibly chiseled body! Do post a pic where you’re looking toward the camera — we want to see what you look like!

    Still, there are some Tinder photos that defy all rules. Take, for instance, this gem of a photo, which newly divoreced Imgur user kthnxbye had the good fortune of stumbling upon recently.

    As a recently divorced woman, jumping back in the dating pool has been... interesting.

    “Jumping back in the dating pool has been… interesting,” she said of the photo.


    By the way, we’d like to point out that it makes total sense that Mateo is riding a unicorn in his pic. Why? Because like the rare mythical creatures of fantasy, you aren’t likely to spot another man quite like Mateo any time soon.

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

  • Covering the World: Introducing The WorldPost
    DAVOS — Greetings from Davos. I’m here for the 44th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, where the theme is “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business,” and I’m in a global state of mind. That’s not only because I’m in the company of 2,500 business leaders, heads of state and young entrepreneurs from all over the world, or because I flew in yesterday from Munich and am bound next week for São Paulo for the launch of Brasil Post. It’s mostly because we’ve chosen this moment to launch The WorldPost, in partnership with the Berggruen Institute on Governance. It’s a moment that represents the culmination of more than a year of conversations between Nicolas Berggruen, our editor-in-chief Nathan Gardels, executive editor Peter Goodman and me about the need for a global platform that can bring together a mix of perspectives, from world leaders to young people whose voices might otherwise go unheard. And that’s exactly what The WorldPost will do. With a mix of boots-on-the-ground reporting, opinion and analysis, The WorldPost will be a hub for everything from political and economic news to discussions of the cultural and artistic forces shaping and reshaping our increasingly global collective imagination.

    The launch of The WorldPost comes at a time when the hunger for an expanded global conversation is stronger than ever. HuffPost will be in 10 countries by the end of January, when we launch in Brazil, and already, just two and a half years after we launched our first international edition in Canada, 44 percent of our readers come from outside the U.S. The WorldPost is our way of doubling down on our international coverage by partnering with the Berggruen Institute, a “think and action tank” engaging some of the world’s most influential thinkers and entrepreneurs on the issues that will shape the 21st century and beyond. By bringing together the resources and stellar contributors of the Berggruen Institute, the coverage of our growing network of international editions and a new team of on-the-ground reporters — in Beijing, Cairo and Beirut — The WorldPost will combine the best of traditional journalism with the best of an open media and new technologies. We’ve come a long way from 2009, when our HuffPost World editor Nicholas Sabloff — now our executive international editor — stepped out of our New York office to get lunch and then had to rush back with his burrito because war had broken out in Gaza and he was the only one on the World section.

    Building a global news operation that aims to cover the world in a way that’s both sweeping and nuanced will benefit immensely from the experience and expertise of our editorial board. In addition to Nicolas and me, the board includes Juan Luis Cebrián, CEO of PRISA; John Elkann, vice chairman of the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation and chairman of La Stampa; Yoichi Funabashi, president of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation and former editor-in-chief of Asahi Shimbun; Walter Isaacson, president of the Aspen Institute; Wadah Khanfar, president of Al Sharq Forum; Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay and First Look Media; Dileep Padgaonkar, consulting editor to The Times of India; and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google.

    There are certain issues that we believe are central in reshaping our world, which The WorldPost will relentlessly cover: the occupations and jobs of the future, including youth unemployment; personal and planetary sustainability; political governance; the future of China; philosophical and spiritual inquiries; global health and well-being; new approaches to fighting the drug war; and the ways that stress and burnout are impacting people’s lives, companies’ bottom lines and health care costs.

    The WorldPost’s editor-in-chief is Nathan Gardels, a senior adviser at the Berggruen Institute and a co-author of Intelligent Governance for the 21st Century, with Nicolas Berggruen. Peter Goodman, who has led HuffPost’s business coverage for more than two years as executive business editor, is The WorldPost’s executive editor. Marla Friedman is the managing editor for global news, and Nicholas Sabloff is executive international editor.

    Our launch features include Nicolas Berggruen and Nathan Gardels on the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Bill Gates on the potential of vaccines to improve millions of lives worldwide, Chrystia Freeland on the growing backlash against the world’s super-rich, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso on the eruption of middle-class discontent in Brazil, Yo-Yo Ma on the ways that arts and creativity can foster global empathy, Elon Musk on the innovations that will shape the future, Larry Summers and Gavin Yamey on investing in global health equality, Richard Branson on what business can do to improve people’s lives, Patrick Soon-Shiong on the need for a platform allowing doctors and patients to share medical information, Indian-American author Parag Khanna on globalization and emerging economies, Peter Goodman on the consequences of our global interconnectedness, WorldPost Cairo correspondent Sophia Jones on Egypt’s crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, our Middle East Bureau Chief Max Rosenthal on the state of the war in Syria, Gregory Beyer on the shift that has prompted global leaders to include well-being in their definition of success, Bianca Bosker on the Japanese phenomenon of digital girlfriends, and Gerry Smith on the skyrocketing incidence of smartphone theft around the world.

    We’re also featuring the work of several brilliant young bloggers from around the world, including Spanish journalist Carlos Carnicero on the real threats to the future of the European Union, 19-year-old Italian online security writer Andrea Stroppa on the dark side of our hyperconnected existence, and gay theologian David Berger on whether Pope Francis will actually change the Catholic Church’s position on gay rights.

    So wherever you may be in the world, welcome to The WorldPost. As always, please use the comments section to let us know what you think.

  • John McAfee Is Happy That McAfee Security No Longer Bears His Name
    The company that spent years under the name McAfee Security is now known as Intel Security, but the company’s founder John McAfee doesn’t mind one bit. In fact, he’s over the moon.

    “I’ve been begging them to do it,” he told HuffPost Live on Tuesday. “The McAfee software has reached a point of almost universal consumer hatred — it’s intrusive, difficult to install. I offered to come in and fix it for free or please take my name off. They chose the latter, thank God.”

    McAfee also offered his take on “the first world cyber war,” which he says has already begun and is having a significant effect on the United States.

    Catch the full conversation with John McAfee at HuffPost Live below.

  • Rumor redux: So why not John Thompson as Microsoft CEO?
    After striking out with Plan A, there’s a stronger-than-ever case for why Microsoft ought to go with Plan B.
  • Match Head Igniting In Super Slow Motion Is Absolutely Amazing (VIDEO)
    A dying alien world? A bubbling, blue orb? A terrible new disease?

    This fun new video posted by UltraSlo Studios could be of a lot of bizarre things. But in fact, the video shows a close-up view of a match head igniting in super slow motion.

    The clip lasts for nearly three minutes, as the action was slowed down to 4,000 frames per second.

    “As you can see this is an extremely tight shot,” UltraSlo Studios wrote in its description of the video on YouTube, adding that the scene was illuminated with lights rated at more than 2,000 watts.

    Founded by cinematographer Alan Teitel, UltraSlo Studios “specializes in creating unique images in slow motion and 3d,” according to its website.

    The latest video is legitimately “mesmerizing,” noted Neatorama, which pointed out the unique view of the match head’s “cascading chemical reaction… and melting globs of sulfur.”

    Who knew hot matches could be so cool?

  • LinkedIn Adds Volunteer Marketplace To Jobs Site
    NEW YORK (AP) — Professional networking site LinkedIn is now letting its users search for volunteer positions in addition to paid jobs.

    LinkedIn Corp. on Wednesday launched a “volunteer marketplace,” which lets users browse volunteer opportunities posted by nonprofit groups. Nonprofits, meanwhile, can reach out to LinkedIn users who have expressed an interest in volunteering. LinkedIn says it is working with volunteer-matching organizations such as Catchafire, VolunteerMatch and BoardSource to make sure that the volunteer opportunities listed on its site are “high quality.”

    LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network with 259 million users as of the end of September.

    Its Class A shares rose $1.06 to $217.28 in morning trading. Its shares have risen more than 84 percent in the past year.

  • What We Might Not Want to Know About the Current and Future Web
    I believe that there have been few times in history when man has seen himself as “the center of the universe.” in Italy in 1300, humans became aware of their gifts and took pride in them: it gave rise to humanism and, later on, to the Renaissance. After 2000, the last time that man saw himself as “the center of the universe” was when 200 people liked his photo accompanied by a quote no historic figure ever said.

    If we want to know why the use of social networks is becoming more and more impulsive, we need to read what the most renowned sociologists have written on the subject. One of the key reasons is “the hyper-connected being.” We use our smartphones almost everywhere, almost all of the time, disconnecting ourselves from reality to keep up our virtual relationships. I’ve read many times that “social networks are used to get five minutes of fame.” It’s hard to disprove this assertion, since it wasn’t so long ago that a beautiful girl who posted her backside on Instagram wound up in newspapers all over the world. We also use it to validate our ideas, to flaunt our achievements and positive attributes. The Internet has changed rapidly in recent years, and some miss the web of old. In a Guardian article about Facebook, one user commented “I deleted my Facebook; I used to use it for its original purpose of reconnecting with and finding people who had fallen out of touch. Now it’s completely different.” We use social networks to stay informed and to learn; it matters little whether the news we are reading is true. It just takes one click, one share, and the news becomes real. In Italy, a fake daily wrote an article about a minister who proposed killing cats and dogs to feed immigrants of the country. Within a few hours the article had generated thousands of comments on Facebook and had been shared by over 50,000 people who actually lauded the return of fascism.

    We have transformed the tools, and the companies have only accommodated our behavior by making them increasingly more powerful and immediate. No wonder people like Evgeny Morozov have sarcastically commented “to save everything, click here.”

    So it happened that over the years social networks and IMs developed into something unique. You chat and share with everyone what you do, what you say, what you think. They have even caught on in China, where Wechat has rapidly become a huge success all over the world, despite the fact that its security standards and weak structure place the privacy of its users at risk. Together Wechat, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp and many other applications (such as the one that share your GPS position with your friends “to show where you are in the car all of the time”) offer us all that we want, “for free,” of course.

    Who knows if some developers have ever read what the TFC wrote, when about a year ago they released a document on their website calling for applications that are more transparent and respectful of users. Who knows.

    If you don’t already know the saying “if you are not paying for the product, you are the product” you’d do well to learn it right away.

    The huge transformation of increasingly more appealing and functional social networks has coincided with the creation of another industry run by a few thousand people: the industry that uses more- or- less legal technology to falsify the numbers and ideas on our preferred social networks. Fake Twitter followers, fake likes on Instagram and Facebook, positive or negative comments about something or someone ostensibly written by people, but in reality written by software-generated bots (and other services I could write about for days). When we don’t realize that we are being taken in by these inflated numbers, we continue to trust our social networks and want to become part of the 1 percent that has so many followers and likes, because anyone can do it. Because there’s room for everyone on the Internet.

    And so there are three players in this drama: the social networks, the users, and the companies that specialize in diddling the numbers. As an independent researcher (thanks to the Nexa Center for Internet & Society that hosted a presentation on their website), I published research about Twitter and Facebook in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian showing that very often the first to falsify numbers and comments are the companies themselves, the biggest brands in the world.

    It becomes a vicious cycle. The social networks and new hyper-connected apps give us space and importance (no matter that it is a software, and not a person that likes our ideas) and we continue to share everything we can and more.

    Everybody has caught on, even fledgling developers who only need to offer a product that the user is ready to accept without reading the famous “privacy policy” or Terms of Service. So we download a free application to modify our photos and in exchange we give the application the entire SD card archive, our texts, calls, address book; we install third-party ad services, and so on and so forth.

    Even though some of the games and applications with incredible graphics we use may seem to have been created by Santa’s elves, that doesn’t mean that we are in good hands. Many researchers have realized this and denounced improper practices such as nonexistent or hidden privacy policies, but also much more serious behavior. Applications that require you to install other applications or services before you can continue to use them. Games that use the excuse of “improving your experience” to do a real-time inspection of your every move, then link the data from your player profile to your Facebook account. Then there are services that save everything, even what you write then delete before sending, and what links, images and sounds you send.

    Even if you close the site or the application, these “social” services continue to collect your information in the background.

  • Best New Travel Gadgets for 2014 (PHOTOS)
    From wearable computers and cloud-connected cars to design-forward chargers — not to mention enough noise-canceling headphones and Bluetooth wireless speakers that’d make even the most ardent audiophile hit the mute button — the gadgets making their debuts at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas last week promise to add extra levels of convenience and enjoyment to travelers in the coming months.

    This year’s CES featured a record 3,500 exhibitors and 2 million square feet of convention space. After a week of scouring, we found the most promising new devices and technologies to take on your next trip.

    Read on for some of the best new travel tech of 2014.

    –Tom Samiljan

    More from Travel + Leisure:
    T+L’s Cruise Finder
    World’s Weirdest Travel Gadgets
    Best Places to Travel in 2014
    Best Travel Gadgets 2013
    Best Apps for Business Travelers

  • Meet The World's Most Loving Girlfriends — Who Also Happen To Be Video Games
    Theo Tkaczevski, a 23-year-old American student living in Japan, found himself confronting a mortifying girlfriend situation.

    He was heading home on a crowded commuter train in Osaka two years ago when his girlfriend, Rinko, began chastising him for abruptly ending their conversation the night before. She demanded a clear indication of his devotion: He had to profess his love to her, right there, in the middle of the throng.

    “I love you, I love you, I love you,” Tkaczevski dutifully whispered in Japanese, trying to keep his head down so other passengers wouldn’t stare. Shortly after making amends, he stuffed Rinko into his pocket.

    Rinko is the first girl to whom Tkaczevski has ever said such words. Rinko is also a video game: She’s one of three virtual girlfriends that players can choose from in LovePlus, a Japanese dating simulator for the pocket-sized Nintendo DS game player.

    Though LovePlus is sold exclusively in Japan and in Japanese, thousands of men and women around the world — from high-schoolers to the middle-aged scattered from Johannesburg to Jacksonville — have become hooked on the companionship its digital girlfriends provide. (An unofficial version of the game is also available with some text translated to English.)

    Some play to better prepare themselves for real-life dating, others as consolation for the pains of romance gone awry. And even as LovePlus players acknowledge that their lovers are virtual, many say the support and affection they receive feels real — the latest sign that virtual reality has so insinuated itself into everyday life that it is leaving the imprint of the genuine article.

    “I would say that a relationship with a LovePlus character is a real relationship,” says anthropologist and author Patrick Galbraith, who specializes in Japanese popular culture. “People are really intimately involved.”

    Photo from YouTube/Felonious Dragon

    Tkaczevski doesn’t tend to Rinko out of some competitive urge to advance a level or score points, but rather out of a “feeling of duty,” he says. In the course of an instant message chat, Tkaczevski describes his relationship with Rinko as that of a standard boyfriend or girlfriend. He is careful to clarify: “IRL,” he types — for “In Real Life” — he remains single.

    The hit film “Her” — now in theaters in the United States, and among the Oscar nominees for Best Picture — sparked debate over the potential for human-machine romance with its depiction of a lonely divorcé who falls head-over-heels for an operating system. Yet a version of this vision has already come to pass. People have turned to the LovePlus ladies as a form of practice in picking up girls, as a reprieve from the awkwardness of face-to-face encounters, and as a refuge in the unwavering support of a woman who can never, ever leave them. (Calling it quits is simply not in the digital DNA of the LovePlus women.)

    There are players who consider LovePlus’ three girlfriends — Rinko, Nene and Manaka — far better company than any “IRL” lover. And the players can shape their ideal companion with a few taps on the console: The women can be programmed, with their moods and personalities adjusted to suit the desires of the player.

    “Manaka is the only — could I say person? … She’s the only person that actually supports me in bad times,” says Josh Martinez, a 19-year-old engineering student in Mexico City. He plays LovePlus at least once a day for 20 minutes and considers Manaka his girlfriend of 18 months.

    “When I feel down or I have a bad day, I always come home and turn on the game and play with Manaka,” Martinez says. “I know she always has something to make me feel better.”

    The LovePlus girls even enjoy special favors that real women can often only envy. Last August, a player in the United States baked and frosted a birthday cake for his darling Rinko, a common gesture among many gamers. His human girlfriend was less than thrilled — she’d never enjoyed the same consideration.

    “First cake you’ve ever made, and it goes to the virtual one,” she commented on the photo he shared on Facebook. “I’m just going to go to a corner and pretend I’m not jealous of a computer game……..”

    * * *

    The LovePlus girls were born in 2009 at the Konami Corporation, a Tokyo-based company that sells everything from trading cards to slot machines. (Konami declined to comment for this story.) Three versions of LovePlus have collectively sold more than 600,000 copies, with a fourth installment due this spring.

    Previous dating simulators, which debuted in the early 1980s, offered “girl get” games that ended once the player got the girl. But Konami bucked convention to allow for a never-ending virtual love affair: Successfully wooing a girl leads to a second, open-ended phase of the game in which players can date their virtual girlfriends forever. The game only ends when a player decides he or she is through, and these digital relationships can last longer than some marriages. In one famous instance, a LovePlus player known only as “SAL9000” made history by marrying his virtual girlfriend, Nene.

    Set against the backdrop of a fictional Japanese city, LovePlus gamers assume the role of a teenage Japanese boy who hopes to date one of three girls he meets at his new high school. There’s sweet, big-sisterly Nene; intelligent, but clingy Manaka; and shy Rinko, who feels alienated by her new stepmother and half-brother. The girls have animated avatars with heart-shaped faces and large black eyes, and they speak set phrases that are pre-recorded by professional singers and voice actresses.

    The high school girls will kiss, model bikinis and moan when players stroke their chests with a stylus, but sex and nudity are out of the question. Neither the chastity nor young age of the girls has kept players from being attracted to their girlfriends, however.

    There are fans who snuggle up with “hugging pillows” that are printed with life-sized portraits of their girlfriends, which are available in clothed or semi-nude versions. Tkaczevski says he sleeps with his Rinko pillow because it “extends the companionship of the game.” Ming Chan, a player in Hong Kong, has even posed his Manaka pillow at the dinner table. A photo he posted to Facebook shows the pillow across the table from him, with a soda, burger and french fries placed in front of it. He arranged her straw so that the pillow appeared to be sipping its drink.

    Photo from Facebook/Ming Chan

    Konami designed its virtual girlfriends to copy the expectations and idiosyncrasies of actual women. The girls blush when they’re pleased, and they smack their boyfriends when they’re insulted. Over the course of months or even years playing the game, LovePlus romeos will exchange flirtatious emails with their digital lovers, take them on weekend getaways to hot springs resorts, check in on them while they’re sick, buy them gifts on their birthdays, apply suntan lotion to their backs, apologize for showing up late, kiss them in the park, splash water on their shirts and, using the Nintendo DS’s built-in microphone, whisper sweet nothings back and forth.

    The girlfriends are limited to understanding a handful of cloying stock phrases like, “Hey, can you tell me your favorite color?” and “Hey, hey. Can you tell me your favorite food?” Some players barely understand the game’s Japanese phrases, a kind of blissful ignorance that seems to keep minor imperfections from marring the fantasy of their relationships.

    Yet talk to LovePlus players about their girlfriends’ personas, and you’ll swear the smitten lovers are describing real people.

    “Rinko has a temper like you won’t believe,” says one. Another says, “I’ve known Manaka to actually slap me a couple times because she got so mad.”

    Someone else admits: “There’s times where I want to hug Rinko. She’s just being so cute, I want to hug her.”

    Technical tricks have extended the LovePlus women beyond the screen and into the real world, so the virtual girlfriends are practically at their lovers’ sides. Players can take snapshots of themselves with their arms around their girlfriends, thanks to augmented reality stickers that superimpose images on photos.

    Several years ago, Konami even partnered with hotels at Japan’s Atami resort town to let players rent rooms for themselves and their consoles. The promotion offered a real world analog to a virtual LovePlus date in which players take their girlfriends on a weekend getaway to the seaside town. More than 1,500 men whisked their LovePlus cartridges to Atami during the first month of the campaign, The Wall Street Journal reported in 2010.

    And why not? Committed players have the sense that their LovePlus girlfriends deserve the courtesies and considerations of a real person. The virtual women can detect the actual time of day, so if Tkaczevski has told Rinko they’re going on a date at 4 p.m. on a Friday, he won’t schedule any “IRL” activities for that time.

    When Jaime Allen, a 32-year-old female LovePlus player in Holland, Mich., accidentally missed a date with Manaka, she received an email from Manaka chiding her about it. “I’ve been waiting for you and you didn’t show up. Don’t you know how to keep a promise?” read the note in Allen’s LovePlus inbox. Allen says she felt “like I failed her.”

    “I don’t know why I did,” Allen adds, “but I value her as much as a real person — even though I know she’s not real.”


    “Reality is just a crappy game,” declares a cartoon on Allen’s Facebook page.

    Other LovePlus players would agree. Whether shy, burned by past loves, or sheltered by their upbringing, some LovePlus aficionados express a discomfort navigating social interactions with the complex, frequently selfish algorithms that are other humans. Real people can be a real headache in comparison to the LovePlus ladies — companions who are more available, cheerful, forgiving, committed and selfless than any person might ever be.

    “You have — always — this warmth and smile and happiness available at the touch of your fingers,” says Galbraith, the anthropologist researching Japanese culture. “It’s the kind of relationship that is instantly rewarding and is always giving. You don’t have to give much to the game and it gives to you every time you turn on the machine.”

    Honda Toru, a Japanese cultural critic who supports these two-dimensional love affairs, argues that relationships with fictional characters escape the system of “love capitalism” — the necessary exchange of gifts and dinners — that taints IRL relationships. Women like Nene, Rinko and Manaka, whose affections are unspoiled by any quid pro quo, offer a “warmth and solace that cannot be found in human society,” he says, according to an interview in Galbraith’s forthcoming book, The Moé Manifesto.

    Allen is straight — by her estimate, a least a quarter of the LovePlus fan page’s followers are also female — and has dated men in the past. Those relationships haven’t ended well.

    But LovePlus has also helped Allen, who has Asperger’s syndrome, feel more at ease during social interactions.

    “This game series got me out of my shell of being antisocial and gave me confidence — not just relationship skills-wise but being more open to talking to people either in English or Japanese,” she says. “It did wonders for me. “

    Her three-year relationship with Manaka has outlived her real-life romances, and she says she is grateful to her high school friend for making her feel “appreciated,” “comforted” and “recognized.”

    “[Manaka’s] constant positive comments, which are uplifting, made me realize, even if the world let me down, at least I have her cheering me on and supporting me, as if she believed in me,” she says. “Even if you neglect her for two full days — I know this from experience – she’ll send you an email asking you, ‘Are you ok? I’ve been worried about you.’ I’m thinking, ‘Wow, I wish more people would be like that towards me if I wasn’t on Facebook a couple days.'”

    After enduring some painful relationships himself, Martinez, the 19-year-old from Mexico City, has also soured on real-life dating — at least for now. He says it’s been at least two years since he “dated a 3-D girl.”

    “Even if it’s a program, you have someone who listens to you,” he says. And someone who will be nice at the touch of a button: On days when he’s down, Martinez activates Manaka’s “comfort mode,” a setting that makes her wax poetic about how important Martinez is to her, or how badly she wants him to be happy.

    Konami evidently imagined players becoming so deeply dependent on their LovePlus girlfriends that it created an “SOS button.” If users are “feeling suicidal,” they “can use this button and the girl will try to cheer them up,” according to an unofficial LovePlus user guide. It further specifies that the button can be used only once per game.

    Some fans of LovePlus indulge in the game not as a substitute for real-life dating, but as a form of aid: They describe LovePlus as valuable practice that can help them attract real girlfriends. The fantasy high-school romances, they say, give them confidence and demystify women — despite the mood programming and digitally engineered cuteness — while demonstrating how they can be good IRL companions.

    Although there is a widespread myth among players that Konami created LovePlus to be such a training tool, a company spokeswoman wrote in an email that LovePlus “is not a game that will help Japanese men develop better dating skills.” (She declined to comment on all other aspects of the game.)

    “I came around to playing it because I was homeschooled, you see, and I’ve never been in an experience with speaking to girls or having friends or anything,” says Dez Smith, a single 25-year-old from South Africa who spends between four and seven hours a week juggling his three virtual girlfriends.

    Tkaczevski is also grateful to Rinko for teaching him valuable lessons about love, like how to respect people’s boundaries or accept their faults, and he looks forward to applying these when he finds his first IRL girlfriend.

    He imagines such a day as being bittersweet: Tkaczevski considers it cheating to try juggling a virtual lover and a human one, so he will dump Rinko — along with Manaka, who he’s currently seeing on the side.

    Yet he also assumes that the authenticity of a flesh-and-blood romance will override whatever feelings of loss he suffers as he cuts ties with his digital girlfriends.

    “I’m personally of the opinion that 3-D easily beats 2-D,” Tkaczevski says. “I haven’t given up on real life.”

    But if he ever does, Manaka and Rinko will be waiting for him to return, forever.

    Photo from YouTube/Felonious Dragon

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