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Mobile Technology News, February 7, 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.

  • Is Sony disowning Microsoft and Windows? Not quite, says CEO
    Sony is leaving open the possibility of products using Microsoft’s mobile operating system.
  • Safer Internet Day Celebration Tues To Feature Senator Chuck Schumer

    Safer Internet Day event to be webcast from 9 AM to noon on Tuesday

    Safer Internet Day (SID) has been celebrated in Europe and around the world since 2004. While a few companies and organizations have sponsored Safer Internet Day programs in the U.S. over the years, there has yet to be an officially sanctioned U.S. event supported by a wide coalition of companies, non-profit organizations and government entities, until now.

    This year ConnectSafely.org, the non-profit Internet safety organization where I serve as co-director, was appointed as the first U.S. host for Safer Internet Day. On Feb. 11, it will host the official U.S. Safer Internet Day 2014 event in Washington, D.C.

    The event, which will feature U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer, will be a celebration of the positive ways in which we all use the Internet. Young people, educators, representatives from technology companies, youth-serving organizations and government officials will speak along with a panel discussion featuring students from around the country and another panel with leaders from Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Xbox Live and Google/YouTube. European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes will participate via video. In addition, the event will be streamed live on Facebook Live and at SaferInternetDay.us

    Late in 2012, then-U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and Vice President Kroes signed a joint declaration. This led to ConnectSafely’s appointment as the U.S. SID host by the European Commission and InSafe, the Brussels-based non-profit that coordinates global SID events.

    The event is supported by Microsoft, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Sprint, Symantec, Trend Micro and Twitter. ConnectSafely.org’s non-profit partners include the National 4-H Council, the National PTA, Committee for Children, Common Sense Media, the Family Online Safety Institute, iKeepSafe, the Internet Education Foundation, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

    A centerpiece of this year’s celebration is ConnectSafely’s “One Good Thing” campaign. People around the U.S. are sharing something they’ve done, benefited from or observed that either helps create a better Internet or uses connected technology to help create a better world. Then, they’re submitting these short (sometimes as little as 20 second) “selfie” videos or very brief written statements about things they’ve done or witnessed – whether big or little – and submitting them at http://OneGoodThing.us or emailing them to SID@ConnectSafely.org. You can also Tweet or post to other social media about your One Good Thing or Safer Internet Day using the hashtags #SID2014, #OneGoodThing and @ConnectSafely. And do check out what people have contributed so far by visiting the SID blog.

    Please join all of us in celebrating Safer Internet Day and each user’s efforts, big and small, to make the Internet a better place and the world a better place using the Internet and connected media!

    Disclosure: Larry Magid is co-director of ConnectSafely.org and co-chair of the U.S. Safer Internet Committee. ConnectSafely receives financial support from some companies mentioned in this article.

  • 3D Printing Has Started A Revolution
    The revolution brewing in electronics is unprecedented — even for an industry that is used to being upended. The rules that defined a century of innovation, design, and production are about to be rewritten. And modern manufacturing will be swept away.

    Few companies grasp the coming upheaval. Perhaps because 3D printing, an innovation that can come across as a curiosity, is propelling this disruption. Yet, these printers, which churn out objects by laying thin layer after thin layer of metal, plastics or other materials on top of each other, won’t tip the scale alone.

    It’s their collision with two other disruptive technologies — intelligent robotics and open source electronics — that will bring an end to the era of big and complex global supply chains. Together, they’re going to usher in the digitalization of manufacturing, by creating flexible, fast, local supply chains underpinned by software.

    The IBM Institute of Business Value recently conducted an in-depth, quantitative research that shows just how dramatically this new approach will drive down production costs, reduce barriers to entering a market, and shift global trade flows over the next decade. The study, The New Software-Defined Supply Chain found that:

    • Within 10 years, the cost of churning out products using these new technologies will be 23 percent cheaper than today’s traditional manufacturing approach. For example, by 2022, making hearing aids by using 3D printers and open source electronics would cost 65 percent as compared with current prices.
    • The minimum volume of production needed to enter a market will drop by 90 percent. Which means that existing manufacturers could face a flood of new competitors setting up in small niche markets.
    • The design cycle will speed up dramatically. Companies will use open source electronics to iterate and experiment more quickly with prototypes and 3D printing. They will then decide on the appropriate design, bypassing the need to build standardized parts, create dedicated molds, or design every piece in house.
    • 3D printing and robotic assembly will upend far-flung manufacturing operations, undercutting the need for large supplier networks and extended supply chains. By 2022, the ideal manufacturing location will be local or regional.

    The challenge is that manufacturing leaders aren’t ready for the disruption they face. Some 70 percent of the supply chain leaders we talked to admitted that they had little or no preparation for this new software driven supply chain. The picture is bleaker when it came to their plans for the rest of the decade, which included more of the same old manufacturing investments.

    If leading companies hope to stay on top in this new era, they’ll need to embrace radical change and master new skills.

    Because customers now dictate product design and retailing, companies will need to adjust their offerings more quickly and learn to do runs of smaller, more personalized batches of products. Rapid production will alter the competitive landscape, which means companies will have to re-evaluate the optimal scale of production and reconsider whether they should have a stronger local presence. Supply chains will become simpler, more flexible and localized so organizations will need to reassess where their competitive advantage lies, whether tech innovation or close ties with customers.

    What does this future look like in practical terms? Consider where one consumer goods company that churns out products in the millions of units is headed. By aggressively adopting robotics, the company slashed European manufacturing costs to levels approaching China’s. Now, the business is prepping for an era when it will produce thousands of units of a product instead of millions, and how it will need to restructure its supply chain, product design and distribution.

    The traditional manufacturing system has a powerful grip because it was successful. But it was tailored to a different time, one of mass markets, top-down design, and supply chains built on low-cost labor. Three innovations — 3D printing, robotics, and open source electronics — are breaking that mold of manufacturing. They’re ushering in a new era based on customization, on demand manufacturing, and regional, even local manufacturing. It’s a revolution in the making.

    Check out the video below to see how IBM used 3D printing to manufacture data-driven souvenirs at Wimbledon last summer:

  • Toshiba's 13-inch Chromebook available now
    The first 13-inch Chromebook is now available from Toshiba. It offers a high-quality build for a low price.
  • Olympic Google Doodle Appears To Hit Russia's Anti-Gay Law As Sochi Games Begin
    It appears Google is not a fan of Russia’s anti-gay law.

    The Google homepage featured a Doodle on Thursday of 6 athletes across a rainbow banner, with the following quote from the Olympic Charter: “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”


    The Doodle was visible across international sites, including Russia’s, as the Olympic games began in Sochi.

    Russia’s ban on gay “propaganda” to minors has sparked international outrage as gay activists have been fined across the country since the law’s implementation last year, according to the Associated Press.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s suggestion that gays were welcome in Sochi if they “leave the kids alone,” offered little reassurance.

    Recent protests around the world targeted Olympic sponsors, and AT&T was the first sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Committee to speak out, stating, “Russia’s law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it’s harmful to a diverse society.”

    The Human Rights Campaign offered their support for Google’s logo, with organization president Chad Griffin declaring in a press statement, “Alongside Olympic sponsors like AT&T, Google has made a clear and unequivocal statement that Russia’s anti-LGBT discrimination is indefensible. Now it’s time for each and every remaining Olympic sponsor to follow their lead. The clock is ticking, and the world is watching.”

    Google declined to provide a comment on the logo to HuffPost.

    This would not be the first time Google has come out in support of gay rights. In 2012, Google launched “Legalize Love,” an initiative supporting LGBT rights around the world.

    This story has been updated with responses from Google and the Human Rights Campaign.

  • LinkedIn slumps 15% on weak outlook
    Shares of professional networking service LinkedIn fall by as much as 15% after it posts a weaker-than-expected outlook.
  • Firefox for touch screens goes to beta
    As the stable version of Firefox gets additional social features, the lesser-used Beta finally gets a Windows 8 touch screen-friendly interface and Firefox for Android updates, too.
  • DIY apps and the rise of 'citizen developers'
    Don’t have the right software? Write your own!
  • They'll Sponsor Your American Dream, But It Might Cost You Your Soul
    Gaming the H-1B: A shady network of interconnected tech staffing companies in Virginia is preying on foreign graduates desperate for American work visas.

    Just days after Vishrut Kanoria graduated from a top American university on the East Coast this year, he thought he hit the job jackpot. The 22-year-old economics major, who had moved to the U.S. from India in 2009 on a student visa, knew he had to find a job at a company that would sponsor him for a work visa—or he’d be forced to move back to Bangalore.

    He found Concepts Information Technology Inc., a tech staffing company that provides IT industry professionals to larger businesses, through his school’s on-campus recruitment program. While many of his friends struggled to find employment, Kanoria packed up his stuff and drove four hours to Vienna, Virginia, to start his new life as a “business analyst.” As a consultant for ConceptsIT, he was told his job would be to translate a client’s needs into technical language so that ConceptsIT’s tech department could “implement the solutions more effectively.”

  • Fighting Zombies Just Got Intense With This Virtual Reality System
    One small game hardware startup company has found a way to show off its new technology — and breathe new life into the nation’s slowly dissipating interest in zombies — by allowing gamers to blast their way through a horde of the undead.

    With a new immersive virtual reality experience called “Inversion VR,” Zero Latency can turn any indoor open space into a free-moving, physical game environment. And now, thanks to a new promotional video for “Zombie Fort: Smackdown,” gamers are getting to see how the system works.

    So, how did the idea come about?

    While the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset made a big splash in the gaming world after the E3 gaming conference in June, the folks at Zero Latency found being tethered to a computer or console by cords a bit burdensome. So, as Project Grey notes, they made some minor adjustments.

    Inversion VR involves a room set up with tracking cameras and an Oculus Rift linked to a fully wireless gaming backpack (think: Ghostbusters proton pack). As the video demonstrates, once the Inversion VR rig is set up, gamers can — for the first time ever — navigate the play space by simply walking into it.

    And what better way to demonstrate the new technology than by surrounding users with zombies? The clip shows exactly what happens to those who dare to take up arms and don the Rift in its flagship game “Zombie Fort: Smackdown.” Players begin in a small room that is very poorly lit. If players want to see what’s coming at them, they’ll need to rely on muzzle flare (which is fine because when surrounded by zombies, one really should really never stop shooting).

    Unfortunately the system won’t be available to the general public any time soon. (After all, the Oculus Rift technology it uses is still just a prototype itself.) However, Zero Latency is showing off “Zombie Fort: Smackdown” at Pausefest, a digital innovation conference, in Melbourne, Australia, this month.

  • "Women 3.0," Taking On The Good Ol' Boys in Tech With Style
    For all the talk and bluster about diversity initiatives in Silicon Valley, the results are pitiful. Year after year, women-led technologies companies receive less than 10 percent of venture capital funding. In the first half of 2013, 7 percent of female run companies received VC funding, less than half of those applied. In 2001, the number was 5.72 percent.

    Tech companies employ an average of 12.33 percent women engineers. The numbers for executives are even worse. As Reuters reported, “9 percent of U.S. Chief Information Officers (CIOs) are female, down from 11 percent last year, and 12 percent in 2010.” That same survey revealed that about one third of the organizations had no women at all in their IT departments.

    The irony is however, that on average, women spend more time online per month, 24.8 hours compared to 22.9 hours for men. Not only are they online more, but they spend more time looking for ways to spend their hard earned 71 cents on the dollar: “Men and women visit retail sites in practically equal amounts, but women spend 20 percent more time on those sites.” And perhaps most importantly for companies looking how to finally turn a profit, women engage other users to discuss purchasing and recommendations more than men.

    Considering women spend more actual dollars on gaming consoles, books, music, toys, apparel, home and living and accessories, then perhaps these companies might put women on their staff?

    So what are the hard numbers? Well, they’re a more difficult challenge to procure than one might think. When CNN asked 20 leading companies to share their data on race and gender, 17 of them said absolutely no way. All companies with more than 100 employees are required to file these statistics with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission independent federal agency, (EEOC). Yet, CNN was forced to file a Freedom of Information Act with the EEOC and the Department of Labor. And they were denied. Denied?

    I am a woman director, which is a field that is similarly dominated by men. In researching for this blog post, we had an equally difficult time putting our fingers on the numbers of women in my field. I do know, however, that the percentage of women in the union I call home, The Director’s Guild of America, has never risen above 10 percent during my eight year membership. Discovering the same was true for my fellow female trailblazers in tech has motivated me to kick off a new series on A Total Disruption entitled “Women 3.0.”

    For the premiere episode, we join Sarah and Jinhee, co-founders of a social shopping app called Snapette, as they face this stark reality on the eve of their “demo day,” the culmination of their tenure at Dave McClure’s accelerator program, 500 Startups. It’s during this demo day that they either “make it rain” and find financing for their venture, or part ways, which will mean Sarah returns to her MBA program at Harvard and puts her startup dreams on ice for now.

    These fearless founders know the challenges they face navigating the ol’ boys club of Silicon Valley where money meets tech, but they believed in their vision. Snapette is an app that acts similar to the way YELP catalogs and locates your choice of restaurants, bars and shops in your immediate area. Snapette helps us locate a specific item of clothing in a specific location.

    The concept is sound, based on detailed research of shopping and social habits. As Sarah tells us, 34 percent of all women have taken a photo of a product in a store, 25 percent of women have shared photos with friends to get feedback and an incredible 92 percent of women share deals or offers that they find with other women. While the general concepts of local retail information, a searchable catalog of products and user-generated reviews and photo content all might sound familiar, until the creation of Snapette, there was not a centralized mobile outlet that combined it all together

    While two Harvard students launching a business venture together might not sound out of the ordinary, Jinhee and Sarah’s path is unusual because their respective time at Harvard occurred over 20 years apart. Sarah, is just 27, while Jinhee is 50 and a mother of three. These ladies embraced the fact that they are the minority in this high-tech world, and were determined to turn that to their advantage. Hoping to raise $500,000, they went on to secure $1.5 million in financing. Last year, PriceGrabber acquired Snapette, allowing Sarah and Jinhee to realize their dream of opening an office in New York.

  • GT sapphire plant could help build 100-200M five-inch iPhone displays
    GT Advanced’s sapphire plant in Mesa, Arizona — built to produce goods for Apple — appears poised to produce anywhere between 100 million and 200 million five-inch display covers, a new report suggests. Import records show that in January, the company acquired machines labeled as Intego Sirius Sapphire Display Inspection Tools. The machines are large, and able to process several slabs of screen covers at once.


  • Twitter shares dive as growth slows
    Shares in microblogging site Twitter fell by 21% after it reported slower growth in user numbers, just three months after its flotation on the New York Stock Exchange.
  • Prank Proves 'I Follow You On Instagram' Is The Creepiest Pick-Up Line Ever
    Andrew Hales of LAHWF fame is back with a prank that proves our always online and social world can sometime be a tad bit creepy when it collides with the offline.

    To all you guys and gals out there, one tip: “I follow you on Instagram” is not a pick-up line you should ever say to a stranger, even if you look a bit like Macklemore.

  • Mobile Apps For The Home Obsessed (VIDEO)
    If you find yourself sitting in your living room dreaming of paint cards or wondering how you can fix that chipped molding, you need to get a little app happy. Watch this video for great apps for the home obsessed and find resources for buying or renting a home, decorating ideas and more. Your dream home is just a tap away.

  • 'Tainted Love' Performed By Hard Drives Will Have You Geek Out
    There’s little doubt in our minds that you’re familiar with Ed Cobb’s 1964 song “Tainted Love,” made insanely popular by the 1981 cover by Soft Cell.

    What you’re not likely familiar with, however, is this cover of that cover from Gigawipf done by a series of hard drives. Press “Enter” to let this meta music cover load.

  • Planned Parenthood Welcomes Big Donation From CREDO Mobile
    The wireless carrier CREDO is making major donations to three progressive nonprofits this month to boost their respective efforts against what the company called the attacks of “right-wing” legislatures.

    The company announced Thursday that it will give a combined $206,690 in donations to Planned Parenthood, the international environmental organization 350.org and the Mother Jones Investigative Fund, according to a release obtained by HuffPost. Every month, CREDO members vote to distribute donations, generated by customers, among three progressive nonprofits. The larger share of votes a nonprofit earns, the greater proportion of CREDO’s monthly fund it receives.

    Planned Parenthood got the largest share of votes in January and will receive 39 percent of CREDO’s donations — $80,609 — to aid its battles against numerous defunding efforts put forth by congressional Republicans.

    “Recent efforts to restrict access to safe and legal abortion, as well as preventive care like birth control and cancer screenings, have a very real and devastating impact on women who already have the least access to health care,” Eric Ferrero, Planned Parenthood’s vice president for communications, said in Thursday’s press release. “CREDO’s support makes it possible for Planned Parenthood to fight back against these attacks on every front to protect women’s health and rights.”

    Last year, Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Diane Black (R-Tenn.) were so desperate to strip the nonprofit’s access to Title X family-planning grants that they introduced identical bills on the House floor within the first two days of the 2013 legislative session. Then in April, Ohio Republicans attempted to slash $2 million dollars of Planned Parenthood funding for the third time in one year. Consequently, Planned Parenthood has been forced to dedicate significant resources to fighting these measures in court.

    CREDO also awarded 350.org $66,140 for its active opposition to the implementation of the Keystone XL pipeline. And the Mother Jones Investigative Fund received $59,609 for its “critical force in exposing corporate and political corruption,” according to the press release.

    CREDO has raised more than $76 million for progressive nonprofit groups over the past 29 years, including the Rainforest Action Network, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the American Civil Liberties Union and Jobs with Justice.

    In January, CREDO became the first phone company to release a transparency report shedding light on the federal government’s controversial requests for data on its subscribers’ phone records and text messages.

  • This Is The Only Honest Facebook 'Look Back' Video
    You might not know how to feel about your Facebook “Look Back” video, an individualized montage of your time on Facebook rolled out for the social network’s 10th anniversary. But regardless of how the “Look Back” affects you, it likely isn’t the most honest account of your real life.

    Here’s a more truthful one, from comedians Tripp and Tyler.

  • Email Follies Plague Corporate America
    The modern world of Corporate America runs on email and web-based applications; consequently, employees of Corporate America are continuously sending emails, at all hours of the day and night, using their corporate email accounts. These emails, which must be automatically archived by the corporation in order to remain in compliance with data management regulations, frequently end up creating costly problems. Corporations must avail themselves of behavioral modification tools to break the expensive habits that employees armed with smartphones and mobile work email accounts have formed. Email communications can and have captured dishonest and illegal activities on the part of employees, but that is a larger issue than I can address here today. In this article, I will discuss only the relatively simple case of email “foot-in-mouth” — offhand comments made in the course of a conversation that later could be misinterpreted in a negative way.

    One major problem is an information gap between top executives and mid- or lower-level employees. While IT security personnel may have educated the execs on proper “email hygiene” and the permanence of email, other employees may be quite unaware of that aspect of their communications. The assumption that emails can be deleted by simply moving them to the trash folder is inaccurate and can lead to serious trouble for an organization.

    Take, for example, a case that emerged in the recent banking crisis: mid-level Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre, known jokingly to his co-workers as “Fabulous Fab,” sent several emails touting the role of the products he was selling in the looming banking catastrophe. “The whole building is about to collapse,” he wrote, “anytime now … Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab … standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstruosities [sic]!!!” This email, among others, implicated Goldman Sachs with knowingly misleading investors. While the suit eventually resolved in Fabrice Tourre being found liable for fraud , Goldman Sachs suffered from a major loss of reputation and endured a great deal of media outrage. Ethics and business practices aside, Fabrice Tourre clearly did not understand that anything written via a company email client, to paraphrase the Miranda warning, can and will be used against its author and indeed its host company as well.

    Another example involved the London Interbank Offered Rate, or “Libor,” which is a key interest rate estimated by major London banks in order to determine the rate that a bank would pay if it borrowed money from other banks. This rate is then used throughout all lending that those banks conduct, thereby affecting borrowers throughout the world. In December of 2012, amidst the infamous Libor-rigging scandal, the UK’s Financial Services Authority’s report quoted UBS employee-emails blatantly manipulating and attempting bribes to control the Libor: “If you keep 6s unchanged today … I will f—- do one humongous deal with you … Like a 50,000 buck deal, whatever … I need you to keep it as low as possible … if you do that … I’ll pay you, you know, 50,000 dollars, 100,000 dollars… whatever you want … I’m a man of my word.” The email from which that desperate and unethical request was cited, along with a host of others in a similar vein, are both incriminating and highly embarrassing for UBS.

    Despite the many high-profile cases involving email evidence, employees in corporate America still send these foolish emails. Employees and employers alike must remember that whether or not an employee email actively implicates the employee (and therefore the company, by association) in a very public criminal investigation with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, such emails can still severely damage a company’s business and reputation. In some cases, the loss of reputation can in itself be a killing blow. When it comes to modern court cases, email evidence often comprises the difference between a winning and losing lawsuit.

    It is beyond refute that for every email sent, there’s an excellent chance that someone, or many persons, may have kept a copy: the individual (both the sender and any receivers), the company mail server, the backup provider for either the sender or receiver, or the smart phone from which the email was sent. Regulations require that companies archive emails to some extent, and major companies who are under major scrutiny must store all their data to the furthest possible extent of technology. There are very few cases in which it is impossible for data to be retrieved or restored. How, operating in a world where any unthinking (or unethical) email sent by an employee could mean their employer’s downfall, are companies to protect themselves?

    I will leave the ethics education for companies to handle on their own. As for protecting against email folly, the solution is simple: use a tried and tested behavioral modification approach. Put a program in place that clearly outlines your company email policy (I recommend teaming this with a BYOD policy for the greatest effect), and includes examples of email communications that are prohibited during working hours, from company email clients and via company machines. Let employees know that if they send an email violating any one of those policies, the company will take immediate action against that person. This means that the next time an employee sends out, for benign example, a personal email about an eBay transaction while at work or via a work email account, the company will notify the user that such email communication is prohibited and notate the infraction on their employee file. While this change in policy may be draconian, employees will adapt much faster than one might think, and it will alleviate the worries of countless legal counsels, IT security professionals, and indeed the employees themselves — this policy protects them as well, removing the risk of having their personal communications examined in a court of law.

    Daniel B. Garrie is the executive managing partner at www.lawandforensics.com. For more information, or with questions and comments, please email at Daniel@lawandforensics.com. Daniel would like to thank Kelsey Fredston-Hermann for her editorial assistance on this article.

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