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Mobile Technology News, January 19, 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: The house with no energy bills
    Inside Out goes inside what could be Britain’s most energy efficient house in Birmingham and finds out why it has no fuel bills.
  • Why Silicon Valley Should Write Chile a Much Deserved Thank You Note
    Three years ago, I sat on an entrepreneurship panel at Chile Day, an investment conference promoting Chile to international investors in New York. The questions from the audience, compromised largely of Chilean nationals or expatriates living in the United States, eventually settled on a nagging question: why did Chile, a stable country with a growing economy, trail other Latin American nations with respect to entrepreneurship? How could a country known for exporting everything from copper to fruit, foster innovation despite being tucked away on the western slopes of the Andes?

    Now, just three years later, Chile is known the world over for its groundbreaking “Start-Up Chile” program, a globally recognized acceleration program created and sponsored by the Chilean government. The conceit of Start-Up Chile is simple. The program invites entrepreneurs from all over the world to apply to its 4-month acceleration program. The entrepreneurs who are selected — to date hundreds have entered the program — receive up to US$40,000 in grant funding as well as a one year visa to stay in Chile.

    I recently returned from a week in Santiago, Chile, where I was invited by Start-Up Chile to serve as a judge at the latest DemoDay — essentially a pitch competition to choose the strongest of the start-ups. After a week working with entrepreneurs and companies in the program, I was impressed to learn that Start-Up Chile is attracting some interesting companies. As with any acceleration program, not every company or idea is a winner, and many companies will simply fail. That’s the nature of startups and the nature of entrepreneurship. Yet based on the DemoDay, there are some good ideas coming out of Chile.

    Interestingly, while teams hail from the world over, the Top 4 companies in the DemoDay were teams with ties to the United States. DemoDay winner, Material Mix of St. Louis, is an exchange for reusable industrial byproducts. Second place went to Totus Power of San Francisco, a company that uses electric vehicle technology to produce a low-cost battery-based power pack for use by rural schools in India. Third place finisher Click Medix is a global mobile diagnostics social enterprise aimed at the bottom of the pyramid. The company was founded by faculty and students from MIT, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon. Finally, BoxFox, founded in Indianapolis, is a marketplace that allows retailers to appraise and sell excess merchandise to authorized resellers.

    So what brings a US-based entrepreneur down to Santiago, Chile? Sure, Latin America is a growing market for start-ups, but the Southern Cone is still a long flight from Silicon Valley. The answer depends on the stage of the company and the vision of the entrepreneur. For businesses with global ambitions, Chile serves as a low-costs laboratory where a team can test and refine its value proposition. If a company has ambitions in Latin America, Chile also represents a solid entry point to the rest of the region. For everyone else, the Start-Up Chile program provides financing and a venue in which to innovate without distraction from the demands of everyday life back home. Plus, entrepreneurs get to live in a country boasting a relatively low cost of living and abundant physical beauty. Also, there’s the possibility to pick up a little Spanish in the process.

    Even as it provides clear benefits to entrepreneurs, Chile itself is a major beneficiary of the initiative. In the space of just three years, the country has completely rebranded itself in the eyes of the rest of the world (some thanks also goes to those 33 intrepid miners who were rescued after the 2010 Copiapo mining accident). Specifically with respect to innovation, Chile has abandoned its old spot in the innovation wasteland and is now known as a growing global hub for entrepreneurship. Even as the Start-Up Chile story has gotten ample global press, other Latin American nations such as Peru and Brazil have clambered to launch similar initiatives. To me, that is an astounding result for a program that some worried would risk giving foreigners a year-long paid vacation in Chile. After all, Start-Up Chile takes no equity stakes in the companies that graduate from its program. Making money off the start-ups wasn’t the point of the program at its creation. The point was to import entrepreneurs and use them as a base to build a homegrown ecosystem. And while only a few of the top companies at the DemoDay I judged were Chilean, last year’s winner, Patricio del Sol of AdMetricks, won for the home team.

    Perhaps the most surprising winner in this story, however, is Silicon Valley and the rest of the venture capital industry in the United States. The story of Start-Up Chile should not be alien to Silicon Valley. After all, the US venture capital industry was actively supported in its infancy by forward thinking government policy. Why then, shouldn’t Chile follow suit with a program that is tailored to the 21st Century? Venture capital investors in the United States are notoriously provincial, but they’d be wise to get on a plane and see what’s happening in Santiago. To find the next generation of exciting start-ups, they may need to look beyond Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley and check out what’s happening in Santiago’s Chilecon Valley.

  • Life On A Social Media Island–Where Digital Natives And Digital Immigrants Must Collaborate
    Recently, my 18 year-old son asked me, “Are you the oldest woman in social media?” While most 53-year-old women do not relish being the “oldest woman” anywhere, I found the question to be more of a compliment than a criticism. My son was half-joking with his question but it stirred me to think about how he is a “digital native” while I am a “digital immigrant.”

    One obvious example of inherent generational differences between a digital native and digital immigrant lies in the way that I conducted my initial research on this topic. I went to Google and then Wikipedia as my “sources.” Next, I went to the Urban Dictionary. Back when I was in high school, my tools and techniques for doing research were completely different. I went to the library, used the Encyclopedia Britannica, went to the card file system and used the Dewey Decimal system to locate print books on my topic. If the print books weren’t available, you might have found me using microfiche.

    Wikipedia defines the “digital native” as a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technologies and, due to interacting with them from an early age, has a greater understanding of digital media concepts. Conversely, a digital immigrant is an individual who was born before the existence of digital technology and adopted it later in life.

    Yet, when I compare my digital comfort level and expertise to that of many of my similarly aged peers, these designations don’t really hold up. Instead of the binary categories of digital native and digital immigrant, can there be a “mash-up” of an individual who gravitates to and understands the application of digital technology but is housed in a middle-aged body? Yes, that’s me and many others like me; we can remember our first Compaq portable computers in the 1980s but that doesn’t mean we are less savvy with Twitter or Facebook than younger generations.

    I used Twitter before my kids, we probably began on Facebook together, and I’ve also migrated them to LinkedIn. Part instinct and part affinity, I firmly have established myself as a hybrid in this rapidly changing world. I know that social/digital media platforms are cool and useful and that Apple has created some truly innovative hardware, but I also know that these are just fads like the Wang Word Processor, IBM Selectric, and IBM PC. It’s not hard for me to foresee i-Everything one day outdated by the next new technology.

    Although my age excludes me from the Wikipedia definition of “digital native,” digital technology is truly embedded in my life. For instance, I tweet happy birthday to my kids, who each run their own Twitter accounts and blogs. Professionally, I founded a financial services marketing firm that is well-known for helping clients to create their own digital/social media strategies. And while digital natives may understand the technology and how to operate it, it doesn’t mean that they have the expertise to implement programs that require business-level understanding. So, it’s still not a good idea to hire summer interns to run your social media campaigns. I have 20-plus years of solid marketing experience that I apply to digital technology; that is not at all about knowing which button to press.

    Furthermore, having begun my career working for Kelly Services, the leading temporary help firm, I know that the skill sets required for today’s workforce are also rapidly changing. I see evidence of this in my everyday work when I witness conflicts, lack of adoption, and general lack of awareness of how and why digital and other technologies can be used to increase productivity and efficacy in almost every sector and each office. As the mother of a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old, I can see the same generation gap playing out in workplace conflicts between digital immigrants – which are the managing directors, senior vice presidents and C-suite executives of most major corporations –and the younger, digital natives who they are trying to manage.

    Surely, this is one reason why young entrepreneurs may leave the “traditional” workplace in search of creating their own native work-setting. How can digital natives be expected to understand why large, global firms move at a glacial pace or why certain rules that they perceive as arcane and outdated even exist? If you want something, can’t you just get it or buy it? Why must a digital native “prove” the value of a digital technology platform to a digital immigrant? Is that even possible? Imagine two people speaking different languages to each other; it sounds frustrating at best. And who is leading the charge today in places like Wall Street? Digital immigrants. It sounds like a scenario that is frustrating, infuriating and probably inexplicable to the new college recruits each year. No one needs to teach them or convince them the value of something like Twitter; they’ve used it for many years. Yet, words like “tweet” and Twitter must seem like a foreign language to digital immigrants who are forced to use new technology. Adapt or die.

    Each time I see a toddler mesmerized by an iPad, I wonder what the future digital native will look like and what skills they will possess. The environment and habitat in schools are also different. My kids went to a high school with smart boards and no books. Most of the teachers were, like myself, early adopters of digital technology or they were requested early retirement. The teacher looking for the chalkboard is a dinosaur, as is the corporation that considers digital/social media strategies less important than the print ad.

    I hope that one day some young upstart asks my son if he is the oldest guy in his field.

  • The Art of Radiology
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    Nick Veasey’s passion for his work in “Exposing The Invisible” and his demonstration of what ionizing radiation and x-ray images can reveal is exciting. The expertise he manifests in creating his visual displays and his ability to manipulate the ionizing radiation equipment demonstrates even to the untrained eye the incredible level of detail that can be achieved with skill, talent, and passion for excellence. Veasey’s selected range of objects from a delicate structure such as a feather to a tractor or bus filled with human skeletons confirms that his images are a result of thought combined with the need to challenge technology to achieve visual perfection. He produces art as he interprets it where art is an individual experience defined as an image or poem or writing that elicits an emotion.

    This unique art form is of specific interest to me as a radiologist. The images are the result of selected subject matter that is expertly positioned and then exposed to ionizing radiation using precise technical factors that emphasizes some structures and deemphasizes others in order to have the ultimate creative effect. This is precisely what is involved in the “Art” of radiology. Radiology involves both producing and interpreting medical images for diagnosis of a patient’s condition. The X-ray is in fact, a work of art.

    All images are not created equal and to image creatively and with passion can be a thing of beauty. — Helene Pavlov

    Image acquisition is the taking of the radiograph and is essential to the value and usefulness of the resultant X-ray. Since ionizing radiation can be dangerous, patient positioning and selected technique parameters are just two of many considerations that the trained radiology technologist and radiologist applies in acquiring each and every radiograph. Each of these factors is critical in order to get the “beautiful”, hence, diagnostic medical image while being mindful of patient safety with regards to ionizing radiation.

    Just as Veasey carefully positions his skeletons for artistic affect, positioning of the patient for a radiograph varies with the clinical suspicion. For instance, a painful knee might be due to a small focal area of abnormality which might not be evident if the X-ray is taken with the patient standing and the knee in extension, however, if the damaged area is posterior, it might be revealed on the X-ray obtained with the patient standing with the knee flexed. Acquiring an X-ray of value requires knowledge and passion for the ultimate product. In addition to obtaining an optimal X-ray, the image must be interpreted accurately, ideally, interpreted by a trained radiologist. The more skilled the image acquisition and the more skilled the interpreting radiologist, the more value the radiograph has to both the patient and the referring physician. This scenario results in less need for additional radiographs and in many instances eliminates the need for additional imaging such as US, CT, MR, etc and thereby contributes to a more cost efficient delivery of healthcare.

    It is easy and accurate to refer to an X-ray as a plain film, plain radiograph conventional X-ray, routine X-ray etc, however, these terms, understate the skill and the value of that image and what the image can reveal. An X-ray examination is ordered to see inside of the body part; to see what makes it work; to see what is wrong; to see pathology. The faster and more accurately the pathology is identified, the faster treatment can be initialized. Ionizing radiation can be dangerous, however, in the right hands, used wisely and with expertise, it can be life saving or an instrument for the improvement of the quality of life.

    I have blogged previously on optimizing the use of imaging including modalities such as MR, US and CT by those trained in the use of this equipment to maximize the resultant image for the suspected clinical concern. A radiologist spends four years in medical school training to become a physician, then four additional years of residency further learning how to acquire and protocol imaging and image interpretation. A radiologist learns to differentiate normal from abnormal shadows and shades of grey and to recognize the obscure. Despite all this education, most radiologists continue their training even further with sub specialization fellowship programs dedicated to a specific system or organ, such as the chest, GI, GU or the musculoskeletal system. This training facilitates their abilities to acquire “beautiful” and diagnostic images and then to “exquisitely and accurately” interpret those images.

    As Nick Veasey demonstrates, all images are not created equal and to image creatively and with passion can be a thing of beauty. Veasey uses ionizing radiation and his expertise to create art. In healthcare, the radiology technologist and radiologist use ionizing radiation and their expertise and training to safely create the image that is the patients’ personal ‘work of art”, i.e. the patient radiographic image. The radiologist can be the patients’ best advocate for diagnostic accuracy and is essential in the delivery of healthcare. Radiology and imaging should not be taken for granted as they are technologically creative and integral to the “Art” of medicine.

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

  • The Best Of Bill Murray's Surprise Reddit AMA, A.K.A. The Internet's Dream Come True
    “OK, I’ll TALK! I’ll TALK!”

    That’s how the legendary Bill Murray began his surprise Reddit AMA on Friday evening in which he opened up to fans like never before.

    You can thank his upcoming movie “Monuments Men” for prompting him to interact with Redditors and answer questions about everything from his body of work to his love of golf to legalizing marijuana and even the current cast of “Saturday Night Live.”

    Check out 15 of the most interesting things we learned from his candid online chat, including the hilarious reason he wound up doing the “Garfield” movies, below. Head over to Reddit to read the full thing.

  • Amazon Just Patented Shipping Items Before They're Even Ordered
    Late last month, Amazon patented a process they’ve termed “anticipatory package shipping,” in which products would be sent to fulfillment centers near the customers most likely to purchase them, before customers even order them.

    In a bit of “Minority Report” meets Wal-Mart, the online retail giant could feasibly ship items before they’re actually purchased, filling in the relevant details — like a buyer’s address, for instance — at a later date.

    “The patent’s examples illustrate a speculative shipment system that deploys goods to specific geographical areas,” Engadget explains. “If a customer in that area places an order that matches a nearby package, it would then be redirected to its final destination.”

    Which means the complete box-set of Monty Python’s Flying Circus isn’t going to arrive on your doorstep unannounced. It does mean, however, that Amazon may shuffle the product to a distribution center nearer you for faster fulfillment when you inevitably succumb to your love of British comedy and hit the “checkout” button.

    Of course, Amazon wouldn’t ship items ahead of time in the absence of clear demand for the product. To assess that demand, reports the Wall Street Journal, factors like a customer’s previous orders, product searches, wish lists, returns and shopping cart data would all be taken into account. Shoppers who linger over an item with their mouse cursor may also attract Amazon’s attention.

    The anticipatory shipping is the latest development from Amazon that feels straight out of the future. In December, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled Amazon Prime Air on “60 Minutes,” a fleet of delivery drones that could be available within 4 to 5 years.

  • The 10 Most Innovative Companies In The World: 24/7 Wall Street
    In 2013, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted more than 270,000 patents, often to the same organizations. The USPTO awarded 76,850 patents to the top 50 companies alone.

    IBM received 6,809 patents in 2013, the most of any company. This marks the 21st consecutive year in which the company has led the U.S. in patents awarded. Based on data from IFI CLAIMS Patent Service, a company that compiles global patent data, these are the 10 most innovative companies in the world.

    Click here to see 24/7 Wall Street’s most innovative companies in the world

    Most of the top patent producers are technology companies active in a wide range of businesses. Companies such as IBM (NYSE: IBM), Canon, and Panasonic are involved in a variety of different businesses. Toshiba is active in sectors ranging from consumer electronics to nuclear power. According to Mike Baycroft, CEO of IFI CLAIMS Patent Services, these companies have a track record of developing intellectual property, “and they’re there to stay.”

    Many of the companies granted the most U.S. patents are actually foreign-based. Only three of the 10 most innovative companies in 2013 were based in the U.S.: IBM, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), and Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM). Four Japanese companies made the top 10, led by Canon with 3,825 patents. Two South Korean companies made the list as well.

    While many of the top innovators consistently make the list, the shift to mobile devices could mean opportunities for new companies. This year Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), which produce the two most popular mobile operating systems, moved well up the list. In the process, IFI noted, they passed Intel and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) as Silicon Valley’s patent leaders. Meanwhile, Samsung, which is the world’s largest mobile phone maker, is already the second-largest recipient of U.S. patents.

    Baycroft told 24/7 Wall St. he would not be surprised to see Apple and Google in the top 10 come 2014. “Even BlackBerry….had one of the strongest portfolios around, despite the fact that it is, by all other reports, stressed,” he added.

    In order to identify the 10 most innovative companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed top U.S. patent recipients in 2013, according to IFI CLAIMS Patent Services’ annual report. We also examined how these companies compared within their industry and among the largest companies in the world based on the Forbes Global 2,000. All revenue figures are also from the 2012 Forbes Global 2,000.

    These are the most innovative companies in the world.

  • Damon Lindelof And Marc Cherry Moved From Network To Cable And Never Looked Back
    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Creators of two of the most indelible dramas on network television last decade, “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives,” are making programs for cable networks now, and they speak with the zeal of the happily converted.

    “Now that we’re all here together, we can definitively agree that cable is far superior to network,” said Damon Lindelof, who worked on ABC’s “Lost” and is making a similarly complex new program for HBO, “The Leftovers.” The changing balance of power — and how proud broadcasters are fighting back — is the subtext to meetings with television industry leaders and reporters in Pasadena this month. Nowhere is that more clear than in the field of dramas.

    Once often content to air reruns, cable networks are busy establishing themselves as creators. There are 180 scripted original series on cable this year, up from 22 in 2002, said John Landgraf, FX network chief. Services like Netflix are jumping in, too.

    More important than numbers is the perception that cable is the place to turn for quality. It started with “The Sopranos,” and continues with awards and critical attention showered on the likes of “Mad Men,” ”Homeland” and “Breaking Bad.” The idea is reinforced when many of television’s key creative minds argue that cable is the place to be.

    Marc Cherry, creator of “Desperate Housewives,” said that making the soap “Devious Maids” for Lifetime “has been just a joyous creative experience.” To be fair, Cherry took “Devious Maids” to ABC first and was rejected. Now he revels in the creative freedom, saying he gets less second-guessing.

    Cherry said he has more time to work on the writing, and can include more intricate details. After acknowledging now that he went into the critically drubbed second season of “Desperate Housewives” with no plan, he learned he needs to have an idea of what will happen in a second season before beginning the first.

    Cable offers a measure of security that broadcasters, with more intense commercial pressures, can’t match. A cable series is rarely canceled in the middle of a season.

    The grind of a typical broadcast schedule, requiring some 22 episodes a year, also wears on creators — particularly now that they see an alternative. Most cable “seasons” are half that, or less. That improves quality, Lindelof said.

    “You’re not needing to fill weeks of story that are non-essential,” he said. “So, hopefully, every episode of ‘The Leftovers’ will feel like it needs to exist versus it’s just this very kind of fibrous bridge that exists between two essential episodes which all of us as TV fans, you know, really find incredibly frustrating to watch.”

    Before one conference last week, producers of several CBS dramas admitted grumbling backstage about their workload.

    “That’s an insatiable appetite,” said Jonathan Nolan, “Person of Interest” executive producer, “which is a great thing that the audience wants more of what you’re making, but it is very difficult. I feel like that number is probably calibrated … not to the length of the season or production schedules, but to the exact point at which a showrunner (producer) will have a nervous breakdown.”

    What Nolan finds exciting about being on CBS is the immediacy, writing a scene and seeing it on the air a few weeks later.

    It’s not like broadcasters are bereft. CBS’ “The Good Wife,” NBC’s “The Blacklist” and ABC’s “Scandal” are popular and creatively strong. Broadcasters still have a reach that cable networks can’t match. Television’s most popular show, “NCIS” on CBS, has roughly 20 million viewers for each new episode, twice as much as AMC’s buzz worthy “The Walking Dead.”

    “It’s a privilege to reach an audience the size that we’re able to reach in broadcast,” said “NCIS” executive producer Gary Glasberg. “The fact that we’re in our 11th season and we have the viewership that we do, 18 million Facebook fans, that’s crazy. And, you know, that’s because I’m on broadcast.”

    Networks are now looking for more limited-run series. Over the past year, CBS, NBC and Fox have each assigned executives to look specifically for these types of projects. Veteran producer Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, successful with “The Bible” miniseries on History last year, signed with CBS to adapt “The Dovekeepers” to television for a miniseries.

    Kevin Reilly, Fox entertainment president, said he’s doing away with broadcast’s traditional pilot season, where networks make test episodes of dozens of prospective series and choose among them during a furious couple of weeks in the spring. That’s a nod to cable: Reilly wants to take more time developing series to work out kinks and have a better idea of how it will work.

    Not everyone fully agrees with him, but change is in the air.

    ___

    David Bauder can be reached at dbauder@ap.org or on www.twitter.com/dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.

  • Behind in tablets, Intel pays firms to use its chips
    Why is Intel confident that 40 million tablets will ship in 2014 with its Bay Trail processors? Here’s one good reason.
  • 3D Animal Prosthetics Helps Duck Walk Again
    A very lucky duck who lost a leg to aggressive chickens is walking tall today in the B.C. Interior, thanks to 3D printing technology.

    Dudley, a five-month-old call duck, was in a pen with some chickens at K9-1-1 Animal and Rescue Services in Sicamous last August. One of them attacked his right leg so badly that the foot fell off.

    Months later, Dudley is quack of the walk, has found a mate and is standing up to animals that are ten times his size thanks to Terence Loring, a Kamloops designer who has made him a brand new leg using 3D printing technology.

    “His nickname is, from what I hear, Studly Dudley,” Loring told The Huffington Post B.C.

    Check out some photos of Dudley and his 3D prosthetic leg. The story continues below:

    The young duck may be just his first client as he joins a growing movement of innovators designing 3D prosthetics for injured animals around the world.

    Animal parts, it should be said, are not Loring’s primary business. He produces them on a voluntary basis as part of his work for his company 3 Pillar Designs, which creates 3D renderings for residential and commercial properties.

    He began designing animal parts after he was approached by his Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor, whose parents Doug Nelson and Debbie Fortin own the shelter in Sicamous.

    “I was happy to jump on this project, not having too much experience with wildlife or anything like that,” Loring said.

    THE FIRST LEG

    In designing Dudley’s leg, he drew on his background in biomedical engineering, but YouTube also proved helpful. Videos on the social networking site helped him observe the precise angle and position of a duck’s leg in each stride.

    He eventually came up with a jointed prosthetic leg made of hard plastic and sent the design to Proto3000, an Ontario-based company that produced the limb using a 3D printer.

    In the first experiment, the joint broke when Dudley stood on it, sending him face-first into the ground. So Loring designed a second leg, this time an unhinged model made of softer plastic.

    When Dudley put it on, “the first thing he started doing was wagging his little butt, and literally, he just started walking. There was no delay for him.”

    The second leg is causing some sores at the bottom of Dudley’s stump and he often snags his foot. Loring is still perfecting the design: “This is going to be the most advanced duck leg out there.”

    There’s a growing demand for this kind of animal prosthetics.

    In 2012, a bald eagle named Beauty was found starving in Alaska, unable to eat properly after a poacher shot most of her beak off. A mechanical engineer designed her a new beak using a 3D printer and a titanium mount.

    Last year, Buttercup the duck became a worldwide sensation as innovators looked to replace a foot that was bent backward when he was born.

    Novacopy 3D Printing in Memphis, Tenn. modeled a prosthesis based on Buttercup’s sister, which was later used to cast a silicone prosthesis. The company soon received requests to help animals including dingoes, chickens and dogs, MyFoxMemphis reported.

    Dudley, the young drake who was once bullied by chickens, now stands up to Elsie, the potbelly pig who checks him out when he visits the facility’s grooming shop, said Doug Nelson.

    “If the pig comes over to check him out or kind of noses him or anything then Dudley will put the run on the pig,” he said. “He runs at him and the pig is threatened by that, I guess. He takes off.”

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  • Tech Industry Finds Obama's NSA Reforms 'Insufficient'

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Technology companies and industry groups took President Barack Obama’s speech on U.S. surveillance as a step in the right direction, but chided him for not embracing more dramatic reforms to protect people’s privacy and the economic interests of American companies that generate most of their revenue overseas.

    “The president’s speech was empathetic, balanced and thoughtful, but insufficient to meet the real needs of our globally connected world and a free Internet,” said Ed Black, president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a group that represents Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other technology companies upset about the NSA’s broad surveillance of online communications.

    On Friday, the president called for ending the government’s control of phone data from hundreds of millions of Americans and ordered intelligence agencies to get a court’s permission before accessing such records. He also issued a directive that intelligence-gathering can’t be employed to suppress criticism of the United States or provide a competitive advantage to U.S. companies.

    In addition, the president directed Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to consider whether new privacy safeguards could be added to online data gathering. Although those activities are only meant to target people outside the U.S. as part of national security investigations, information on Americans sometimes gets swept up in the collection.

    Eight of the world’s best-known technology companies underscored their common interest in curbing the NSA by releasing a joint, measured critique of Obama’s proposal. They applauded the commitment to more transparency and more privacy protections for non-U.S. citizens, but also stressed that the president didn’t address all their concerns.

    “Additional steps are needed on other important issues, so we’ll continue to work with the administration and Congress to keep the momentum going and advocate for reforms consistent with the principles we outlined in December,” said the statement from Google, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and AOL.

    In his speech, Obama also directed Holder and Clapper to look into new restrictions on the length of time the U.S. can hold data collected overseas and the extent to which that data is used. He added that the U.S. won’t spy on regular people who don’t threaten national security.

    But nothing he said is likely to diminish the potential losses facing the U.S. technology industry, said Daniel Castro, a senior analyst for the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington D.C. think tank.

    The ITIF estimates that the doubts raised by the NSA spying could cost U.S. companies as much as $35 billion over the next three years.

    In the aftermath of recent NSA leaks, the companies set aside their competitive differences to come together and urge Obama to curtail the NSA’s online snooping and lift restrictions that prevent companies from publicly disclosing specifics about how frequently they are asked to turn over their users’ personal information in the name of national security.

    Obama did agree to at least one major concession to the technology industry by pledging “to make public more information than ever before about the orders they have received to provide data to the government.” The companies are hoping greater transparency will show that the U.S. government has only been demanding information about a very small fraction of their vast audiences.

    But the promise of more disclosure didn’t satisfy two different groups focused on online privacy and other digital rights.

    “Far more needs to be done to restore the faith of the American people and repair the damage done globally to the U.S. reputation as a defender of human rights on the Internet,” said Greg Nojeim, senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology.

    Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation believes there’s still a long way to go. “Now it’s up to the courts, Congress, and the public to ensure that real reform happens, including stopping all bulk surveillance — not just telephone records collection,” she said.

    Recent revelations about how much information the U.S. government has been vacuuming off the Internet threaten to undercut the future profits of technology companies that depend on the trust of Web surfers and corporate customers.

    U.S. Internet companies are worried that more people, especially those living outside the U.S., will use their products less frequently if they believe their personal data is being scooped up and stored by the U.S. government.

    Less online traffic would result in fewer opportunities to sell the ads that bring in most of the revenue at companies such as Google, Facebook and Yahoo. There is also concern that foreigners will be reluctant to do business with a wide range of U.S. companies that sell online storage and software applications that require an Internet connection.

    Obama’s proposal made “progress on the privacy side, but it doesn’t address the economic issues,” Castro said. “I don’t see anything in the speech that will prevent companies in other countries from using what the NSA is doing to gain a competitive advantage over the U.S. companies.”

    __

    Ortutay reported from New York.

    Disclosure: The Huffington Post is owned by AOL. While this story was written and reported by the Associated Press, The Huffington Post provided headlines and photo selection.

  • Adobe looks poised to release Lightroom for mobile devices
    9to5 Mac spots an offer on Adobe’s Web site for a $99 annual subscription to use a mobile version of the photo editing and cataloging software.
  • World Record For Longest Man-Made Echo Shattered In Scotland (LISTEN)
    This is a test, test, test, test …

    Intrepid scientists in Scotland fired a pistol deep inside a secret tunnel and created an echo for the history books — one that the Guinness World Record folks subsequently ratified as the longest-lasting man-made echo.

    “Never before had I heard such a rush of echoes and reverberation,” Trevor Cox, the University of Salford acoustic engineering professor who spearheaded the test, told the BBC. “My initial reaction was disbelief… The reverberation times were just too long.”

    Exactly how long did the echo last? One minute, 52 seconds, according to the Independent. The echo was recorded on June 2, 2012 and ratified by Guinness on July 2013 but only recently revealed by Cox, the professor told The Huffington Post in an email.

    The previous record was set in 1970, when the bronze doors of the Hamilton Mausoleum, also in Scotland, slammed shut to create an echo that lasted for 15 seconds, according to The Scotland Herald. (The echo created by a typical household door lasts about 0.4 second).

    The new record-breaking echo test was conducted inside a network of oil storage tanks called the Inchindown Tunnel, near Invergordon. The tunnel is longer than two football fields and is 30 feet wide and more than 44 feet high. Built on the brink of World War II, the tunnel was used for bomb-proof fuel storage for nearby warships. The tunnel was closed in 2002.

    Cox learned of the tunnel when it was featured on BBC1’s “The One Show,” according to The Independent.

    “You need a man-made structure with no windows and a smooth concrete surface with pores to absorb sound,” Cox told The Independent. “I didn’t think we’d find anything as reverberant as this.”

    (Story continues below.)
    echo testing
    Inside the oil tanks of Scotland’s Inchindown Tunnel, where the sound test was conducted.

    Allan Kilpatrick, an archaeological investigator with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland who also runs public tours of the tunnel, fired the blank shot about a third of the way into the tunnel, while Cox recorded the sound on a microphone at the other end, the BBC reported.

    Because the tunnel has no door, “you literally have to be shoved through to get in there,” Cox, who had to climb through one of the tunnel’s 18-inch oil pipes, told CBC radio.

    “It was like going underground into a Bond villain’s lair,” Cox told The Independent. “I started off just playing around, whooping and hollering. The sound just goes on and on and on.”

  • Target Under Fire For Not Revealing Hacks Earlier
    When Target and Neiman Marcus revealed they’d been hacked, they didn’t come forward willingly. The attacks against the retailers only came to light after Brian Krebs, an independent cybersecurity reporter, began asking them questions.

    The fact that both merchants didn’t disclose the thefts of customer data until they were pressured highlights what experts say is a troubling culture of secrecy with hacking victims that allows cybercriminals to thrive. Companies that get hacked often keep quiet for weeks or longer, withholding valuable information that could protect consumers and other businesses from similar attacks.

    The Secret Service and Justice Department notified Target of the breach on Dec. 13, The New York Times reported Friday. The company disclosed the attack publicly six days later on Dec. 19. Target chief executive Gregg Steinhafel has said the company disclosed the attack after it “confirmed that we have an issue.”

    It took almost an additional month for investigators to release a report on the Target breach, revealing Thursday that the theft of 40 million credit cards was part of a hacking campaign focused on multiple retailers.

    “The fact that it took almost a month for details to come out about what actually hit Target is inexcusable,” Krebs told The Huffington Post. “Target should have told the rest of the retail industry weeks ago.”

    On Friday, IntelCrawler, a cyber-security firm, said it found that six other retailers also had been hacked with the same piece of malware used in the Target attack. IntelCrawler did not identify the retailers.

    Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, said the widespread nature of the attacks highlights why companies should share data about breaches. Companies could tell each other about the IP addresses and malicious code used when they were hacked, allowing others to protect themselves against being targeted.

    “Everyone is operating in their own silo,” Alperovitch said. “People don’t share information. If these companies do not come out and say [they were hacked], we have a problem on our hands.”

    Neiman Marcus said it discovered on Jan. 1 that cybercriminals had stolen credit card data from its stores to make fraudulent purchases, but waited until Jan. 10 to disclose the attacks publicly. The breach had gone undetected since July, according to The Times.

    A Neiman Marcus spokeswoman has said the delay in going public was because the company was investigating the extent of the attack.

    Hacking victims have several motives for not talking about breaches publicly. Companies’ lawyers typically advise keeping quiet because they face potential lawsuits. The news also may damage stock prices and reputations.

    But not every victim is silent. In 2009, Heartland Payments Systems, a payment processor, revealed that millions of credit and debit cards were stolen from its computer network.

    Heartland went public, even though its lawyers advised otherwise, because “we felt it was important,” the company’s chief information officer told The New York Times last year.

    “Until then, most people tried to sweep breaches under the rug,” Steve Elefant said. “We wanted to make sure that it didn’t happen to us again and didn’t want to sit back while the bad guys tried to pick us off one by one.”

    Nearly every state has a law mandating that companies tell customers when their personal data has been compromised. But the laws give companies several weeks to investigate before disclosing a data breach. And there are no rules requiring them to share details about attacks with other businesses.

    Krebs said there should be.

    “I think it’s great there is some information out there now,” he said. “But I think it’s ridiculous that it took a story by a journalist to make that happen.”

  • Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Originals: Time To Cancel Your Cable Subscription
    There’s no doubt that Netflix has changed the way people watch television. With the abrupt and overwhelming success of “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards,” the media site is no longer limited to streaming the hit shows — it’s creating them.

    The competition is taking note. Not to be outdone, Hulu and Amazon Prime are heating things up, dipping their toes into the waters of original scripted programming. Their shows aren’t winning any major awards like frontrunner Netflix, but they’re helping change the face of television.

    Netflix

    It all started here. Throughout 2012 and 2013, Netflix produced nine different original series, which it exclusively aired along with numerous specials, miniseries and films.

    Of those nine original series, four will be starting new seasons in 2014.

    This year, political thriller “House of Cards,” supernatural horror series “Hemlock Grove” and dark comedy “Orange is the New Black” will begin their second seasons. “Lillyhammer,” a crime-drama and Netflix’s very first original series, will debut its third.

    lilyhammer

    Children can get in on the Netflix action with the series “Turbo FAST,” an animated series based on the film “Turbo,” which DreamWorks Animation Television is producing exclusively for Netflix; it’s the first of its kind. Another animated series, called “BoJack Horseman,” features the voice acting of Aaron Paul and Will Arnett, and is slated to premiere in 2014.

    And there’s more to come. Netflix will be rolling out several new original series over the next few years, including “Marco Polo,” a historical fiction show that will chronicle the famed explorer’s adventures, and “Narcos,” which will document the life and death of drug lord Pablo Escobar. Netflix is also working on several sci-fi and superhero series that are set to premiere in 2014 and after.

    Unfortunately, Netflix has not yet compiled an official, comprehensive list of all of its original series and programming.

    At only $7.99/month, Netflix is doing its best to corner the market on affordable streaming services, simultaneously amping up its original content.

    Hulu

    Hulu is barging into the realm of original content with its made-for-adults animated superhero series “The Awesomes.” The show is the brainchild of SNL’s Seth Meyers, and it features an all-star voice-acting cast with Meyers alongside Ike Barinholtz, Tara Killian, Rashida Jones and Kenan Thompson.

    Other Hulu originals returning in 2014 include “Behind the Mask,” a critically-acclaimed docuseries that looks at the world of sports mascots, “East Los High,” a California-set teen drama and “Quick Draw,” a comedy western that follows the life of a Harvard graduate-turned-sheriff in 1875 Kansas.

    And like Netflix, Hulu is exploring all genres. In 2014, Hulu will debut “Deadbeat,” a supernatural comedy that is being co-produced with Lionsgate Television, as well as “The Hotwives of Orlando,” a scripted parody of reality TV’s popular “Real Housewives” series that features prominent several prominent actresses including Angela Kinsey, Kristen Schaal and Andrea Savage.

    Hulu Plus costs $7.99/month, and viewers still have to put up with ads. Many titles and select episodes are available for free viewing.

    See all of Hulu’s original programming here.

    Amazon Prime

    Amazon.com is more than just an enormous online mall. Amazon Prime, the service that allows customers to receive free shipping on select items, also streams movies and television shows. Following Netflix and Hulu’s lead, the service is venturing into original programming.

    In April of 2013, Netflix released 14 original pilots and asked viewers to vote on which ones they would like to see turned into full length series.

    Of the five winners that are now available as full series, Hulu has developed two comedies and children’s shows. “Alpha House,” which was created by “Doonesbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau, is a political comedy about four U.S. Senators who share a home in Washington DC, while “Betas” is a Silicon Valley-themed comedy about startups and tech-culture.

    alpha house

    For kids, Amazon Prime is developing “Creative Galaxy,” an alien, art and library-themed series for young children, “Tumbleaf,” which explores the magic that happens when when imagination turns to reality, and “Annebots,” a story of two children and their robot friend.

    At $79/year, Amazon Prime costs a bit less per month than other streaming services currently available, but the selection of original content is considerably smaller.

    The amount of original content being produced by third party streaming sites is making cable companies nervous, and rightly so. The scripts are good, the actors are established and the growth possibilities are essentially unlimited at this point. With so many new original shows to choose from, it’s easy to see how Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime are revolutionizing the television industry.

  • My NSFW Sext-Only Relationship Made 'Her' Seem Not-So-Distant

    The following post contains some explicit language and imagery. It is intended for adult readers.

    The first time he sent me a photo of his dick I giggled like a schoolgirl in fourth grade sex-ed class. The photo was blurred, obviously; he didn’t want to give away too much at once. That was the policy I made for us to preserve some sense of, I don’t know, perverse virtue? That’s not at all true but it saved me more than him. I never gave him anything more than a peek at what my favourite bra looked like in my foggy bathroom mirror.

    I don’t remember what he said to introduce the picture. I laughed in any case because these kinds of pictures are really, really terrible but especially this one. It was a lumpy bit of darkness wholly un-erotic and on the verge of turning me off completely. I am sure it would receive a D- on Critique My Dick Pic (NSFW). I may have sent him back a seductive photo or maybe I faked a kind of moaning through my words about how I loved his dick so.

    I didn’t actually love his dick. I loved the things he said about his dick, the things he said he would do to me with it; the things we could do to each other. In no other way did I love him than the lengths we would go to satisfy the other. Green blobs of text appeared on my phone telling me all the ways in which he’d be a superior lover: the lover to end all lovers. He always confirmed to me in our exchange when he got off, and I to him, but I always faked it. I never could rhythmically pleasure myself to the second by second responses and respond to him.

    It’s been two years, three months and a handful of days since I met the boy who sent me that blurred photo. I’ve seen him, touched him, and kissed him once, but we’ve only gone less than two months at a time without talking since we met, which has, to date, not ended. We both had tumultuous relationships, dreamy and mediocre lovers, one-night regrets in that time, and yet here we are. Our interaction is limited to what can be said with our fingertips. We have only spoken via text. Via sext, that is.

    We met IRL by drunken happenstance on a hot October night in my hometown. I was 22 at the time; he was 20. My friends and I went to some middle school auditorium during our annual heritage-y festival. We exchanged our pinky drink tickets for some cheap beers and watered down vodka and orange juice. That night is a haze of grimy yellow flags and loud polka music and vile Neil Diamond covers. I spotted him almost immediately amid the suburban pseudo-hedonistic chaos. There was nothing particularly special to him: he was human-shaped and tall and a bit rough around the edges. I think I said something clever to him, I usually do in situations like these, and he smiled at me. Leaning in unbearably close to my face, thumbing the buttons of the jean jacket I wore, he said, “I’ve been waiting for a girl with a jacket like this my entire life.”

    There is something to be said for someone who can speak so directly, so surprisingly complete, in a text message about all the ways they want to fuck you. Each is a different version, another self. We seamlessly created our identities not like our truest selves so anything we said, he wrote, I felt, was infinite, and that was exceedingly powerful.

    The messages we sent the months after we met are obscured to me now. I can pinpoint when our sexting tryst began though; when the soft musings of “I miss you” turned into lurid statements of “I wish you were here to give me head forever.” I awoke most nights to my phone vibrating continuously with him telling me how he was going to make all of my fantasies come true and that really though, he did his best work from the bottom with me on top.

    But none of the things he said to me were new. Sexting is clumsy and ordinary now: it’s a string of “what are you wearing” and “tell me how close you are.” It wasn’t especially good in the beginning with us until his one-line aphorisms turned into novel length extraordinarily sexy thoughts. It takes someone with particular skill to make your skin pulse and fizz like freshly poured ginger ale in an icy glass without actually touching you.

    And with that he slipped between the realms of a real life lover to the idea of a great lover; synthesized and wholly automated. Our exclusivity was with our phones: we were entirely dependent on a piece of technology that bounced sexual requests between satellites until they reached the other. I consciously fed it, him, us, craving a sort of connection with him in anyway I could. When he promised me he’d visit, that he’d drive all the hours from his school to my apartment and really have me, I secretly wished he’d forget and never arrive so we could preserve whatever it was our relationship had become.

    A film like Her portraying a relationship between a man and his sultry sounding operating system rather than any singular person is a reality with which I had become acquainted though, sadly, Scarlett Johansson is nowhere in my story. It all comes down to human-made simulation of feelings: we get attached to objects rather than people in a friendly, comforting or sexual manner, and ascribe certain ideas and expectations on them that in turn humanizes them. It’s easier to slip into our imagination than truly form a bond with another. All of that takes effort. This is effortless: it’s a kind of affluence and truer comfort because it is comfort of our own making. We fluff our virtual pillows, prop them up behind us, and feel a kind of ease with which no one could possibly make, even if those kinds of things are manufactured.

    The almost two and a half years I’ve been involved with this one person via t/sext is not unlike the snapshot of our social/sexual future in Her. The difference here could be that I met the person first and then he became an object, a machine, and a mechanism of pleasure. But isn’t that the kind of thing we’ve already become accustomed to anyway? Wouldn’t this progression from real person feelings to feelings with/from a machine happen organically?

    The shift from a potential real life lover to a simulated one was rather easy. Whenever I got particularly mad at him I’d punish him by turning my phone off because that was really the only physical action I could take in our pseudo-relationship. I resented my phone. I wanted to smash it until it was nothing but shards. But I needed it to truly need him.

    I ask myself what is/was the value of not having that real life interaction. He was an unknown known thing to me; so unfamiliarly familiar in a sneaky sexy paradoxical way that elicited such a thrill. He still is in some ways, though now he makes me weary and I’ve grown apart from him. He is someone, something, I created and can easily turn to for comfort; he is, after all, simply a text away.

    I thought I gave him up for good this summer when I fell in love with someone else  —  an IRL man who rarely texted me the dirty things he wanted to do, he actually did them — but he persisted. He’d come to me earnestly saying “hi, how are you?” or “baby, please, pleeeeeease.” I turn to my phone in the night still half expecting to see a meagre “hello” permanently etched into my display. He wrote once  —  on a night I swear I was dreaming about him and he was actually holding me  - - saying, “hi, wish we still talked.” We never talked though; we said skin humming sexy things that ought to be whispered to you by a lover, not read on a screen. But I read him. I have read all of his lines. I memorized them and played them over and over because it’s what I have of him. Or maybe what I have left of him. He’s a string of words now: poorly structured sentences with terrible grammar and spelling; black and white letters on a screen; a flash, vibration, an annoying little ding noise. He is pixilated arms and legs and has no face.

    The last I heard from him was as recently as a few weeks ago when I was visiting my hometown and he asked me if I was there, if we could finally see each other. I’m still waiting to find out if we will.

    This originally appeared on Medium.

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