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Mobile Technology News, February 15, 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.

  • Mars 'Doughnut' Rock Mystery Solved By NASA's 'Opportunity' Rover Team
    Remember that jelly doughnut-shaped rock that mysteriously “appeared” in front of the Mars Opportunity rover? It’s no longer a mystery.

    Researchers responsible for operating the rover figured out that the Mars “doughnut” rock was flicked into view by the rover itself.

    (Story continues below.)
    mystery mars rock

    In a statement released by the Planetary Science Institute, the team explained that they confirmed the cause by using image analysis to narrow down the time frame between when the rock was nowhere to be seen and when it was first spotted. Instead of the 12-day interval that was reported, researchers determined that the rock — dubbed “Pinnacle Island” — came into view between sol 3536 and 3540. (A sol is a Martian day.)

    From there, they were able to retrace the rover’s movements to determine the origin of the rock in panoramic images.

    “Once we moved Opportunity a short distance away after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” Opportunity deputy principal investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis said in the statement. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came from.”


    NASA Mars Exploration Rover lead scientist Steve Squyres was the first to announce the discovery of the mysterious rock at an event in mid-January.

    “It was a total surprise, we were like ‘wait a second, that wasn’t there before, it can’t be right. Oh my god! It wasn’t there before!’ We were absolutely startled,” he told Discovery News at the time.

    While rover researchers worked to solve the riddle behind the Mars rock, some questioned whether NASA was sharing all the information — or even failing to investigate alien life. One astrobiologist sued NASA to compel the space agency to take a closer look at the object, which he called a “mushroom-like fungus.”

  • GPS: From launch to everyday life
    How are people using the system, 25 years on?
  • How Innovation Ecosystems Can Help Fix Healthcare
    Healthcare is in a crazy state of flux right now. Collaboration is still a foreign concept to those working in and around the establishment of hospitals, government, insurance and adjacent industries. Collaboration, however, is a keystone in building highly coherent innovation ecosystems.

    As you probably know, health policies directly impact social conditions, both in the US and globally. Ineffective health policies can lead to poor health, which then leads to poor social conditions and ultimately worsening health for the population at large. This cyclical relationship can be seen all over the world.

    Here in the U.S., ever changing mandates in reform, confusion with the public on insurance coverage, a shrinking primary care physician issue, and increasing costs around chronic diseases has many healthcare executives up all night trying to preserve their piece of the pie.

    From an innovation perspective, this chaos is a dream! The perfect storm! A serendipitous blending of the crumbling of old business models combined with simple economic models of supply and demand! What a wonderful opportunity to create new ideas to change the way people consume healthcare in the future and to collaborate to make it happen!

    Technology, especially mobile, will allow people from anywhere in the world to access care, one of the leading determinates in global population health.

    The social impact of health will not be determined exclusively through technology, but also in collaboration around how to make knowledge and action steps easy to access in and around health. Technology has enabled, at internet speed and scale, the ability for an individual to seek and share advice about their health, and the health of loved ones. Helping with health advice is engrained in all cultures and a consumer’s home computer, cell phone and wearable computers will be important data collection tools which can then communicate with clinicians or perhaps an online analytics engine in your own home.

    Consumers are expected to seek out answers independently. Whether being a suburban mom in the states, or a mom in a herding village in Asia–each wants to manage their child’s flu symptoms. Everyone, regardless of culture, age, is looking for simplicity and answers to their problems, immediately, whether it is from a health expert or peer-to-peer network.

    Healthcare might be in a crazy place right now, but it is certain to change into something different than we have today. The Global Innovation Summit, hosted next week in San Jose, will offer the opportunity to engage global innovators on how to build new businesses in this emerging consumer health market. This conference teaches what every health stakeholder needs to know — how to build a solid foundation for collaboration and innovation, especially where trust might be in short supply.

    Innovators, and their wonderful wacky ways of collaborating and re-envisioning the world, offer great hope in forming the ecosystem to transform the way people consume healthcare.

    This post is part of a series produced in partnership by the Global Innovation Summit and The Huffington Post around impact, innovation, and technology. For more information on the Summit, click here.

  • What NASA Is For: Straight From the Panda's Mouth
    A furious panda is a thing to behold.

    Ordinarily, a panda seems to be superlatively peaceful, diffidently munching bamboo. But when it gets angry, it betrays its true nature — it’s fundamentally a carnivore trying to play itself off as a herbivore. And failing.

    Last week, in Slate, I argued that NASA, like a panda, is maladapted and flirting with extinction as a result. (Panda bashing happens to be a proud Slate tradition.) The argument triggered outrage. Within hours, fueled by social media, the defense of NASA echoed around the nation, even reaching the White House. It was the anger of a panda — and contrary to what NASA aficionados believe, their response confirms just how screwed-up the agency really is.

    The fundamental problem isn’t terribly hard to understand. The lion’s share of NASA’s budget — and reputation — is for launching people into space. This was sustainable when we were in a no-holds-barred race with the Soviets, but the moment Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon, that race was over. Any human spaceflight beyond that (including the remaining Apollo missions, which started being scuttled one by one less than a year after the Eagle touched down) is anticlimax. So it will remain until a manned Mars mission becomes technologically and budgetarily feasible.

    This left NASA with a dilemma. What NASA does really well — remote missions — at best attract some passing attention from the public (and from Congress) and quickly fade from public consciousness, even though they’ve resulted in fundamental advances in planetary science, astronomy, cosmology, physics, and Earth science. NASA’s glory and continued success, on the other hand, comes almost entirely from the hurling-people-in-tin-cans-into-the-void trick, which hasn’t had any real purpose since the early 1970s.

    In other words, there’s a gap between perception and reality, between what NASA does that’s really worthwhile and what NASA perceives it must do to maintain its reputation and its budget. The last four decades of NASA’s history are an attempt to bridge that gap with sleight of hand, to draw our attention away from that internal contradiction.

    It does so by pretending that its astronauts are doing crucial scientific experiments while puttering around in low-Earth orbit. Despite NASA’s incessant cooing over its “world-class” scientific work in space, the research on board the shuttle and the International Space Station has almost uniformly been of minimal importance. Science-wise, human spaceflight compares incredibly unfavorably on a dollar-for-dollar basis with even a fiscally bloated and physically crippled unmanned craft. Even a single lean, mean, successful project like Mars Pathfinder, which cost about $200 million (maybe $300 to $350 million in today’s dollars), arguably yielded more for science than the entire multi-hundred-billion-dollar post-Apollo human spaceflight program. (Making matters worse, astronaut-run research has not just come at extraordinary fiscal expense but at grave human expense as well. As I point out in the Slate article, NASA has killed roughly 4 percent of the people it has sent into space — yes, killed, through negligence and mismanagement.)

    NASA also has had a few embarrassing episodes where it hyped bad terrestrial science as, well, ham-handed attempts to fill the gap by inflating the importance of a new field: astrobiology. (The term “astrobiology” is telling. “Astro” and “biology” are, at the moment, mutually exclusive; where you have one, you simply don’t have the other. Hopefully, that will someday change and give the field a reason for its name.)

    This sleight of hand is the core of the problem. Hype doesn’t fill the gap between perception and reality, though, and the mismatch is growing bigger each year as remote technology improves, and as budgets tighten. Unless the agency can either find a human spaceflight mission that’s worth the effort, expense, and danger or, better yet, realign its priorities so that it no longer has to dissemble about the value of more than half of the work that it does, then NASA is in danger. In short, NASA must figure out what it’s really for.

    This argument paints an unflattering picture of NASA, to be sure, and the reaction from NASA fans was as quick and fierce as a mother panda defending her cubs. Within a few hours, a NASA love-fest developed on Twitter, using the hashtag #WhatisNASAfor, to try to answer the question — or at least prove that it’s silly and presumptuous to ask it. Space fans, both civilian and insiders, joined in, and soon so did the government, including NASA itself.

    So what does NASA think it’s for? In 140 characters, how does America’s space agency justify its existence? Here it is, straight from the panda’s mouth:

    #WhatIsNASAFor? Space technologies help you in more ways than you may know. Track space back to you: http://t.co/AHcB6UngRt

    — NASA (@NASA) February 7, 2014

    Spinoffs. Yes, really.

    Any time you give a group of smart people lots of money to work together on technological problems, you’re going to get unexpected discoveries and side benefits. Whether you’re working on military systems, high-energy physics, digital imaging, or any other big high-tech problems, there will be spinoffs. But in all the world, it seems that only NASA thinks that spinoffs are a raison d’être rather than a natural consequence of doing something else well. Spinoffs (and new technology), especially medical spinoffs, figure prominently in the #WhatisNASAfor thread. Of course, if developing new medical technology is what NASA is for, that’s a valid argument, but we should probably incorporate the agency into the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Perhaps someone even higher up in government had a better idea. Luckily, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy joined in too:

    Part of #WhatIsNASAFor: The President visited a class that had “a lesson plan…around the Curiosity rover on Mars.” http://t.co/5Hb1lkTgCg

    — The White House OSTP (@whitehouseostp) February 7, 2014

    It’s a nice story, and the general theme of inspiring students and creating future STEM majors was also a salient theme in the #WhatisNASAfor thread. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that in no way do the educational benefits justify the $2.5-billion expense of the Curiosity mission. Don’t misunderstand: Curiosity was well worth the money, not because it makes a great story for kids but because it’s producing interesting planetary science. The educational value is a side benefit. In other words, NASA’s educational value is fundamentally another kind of spinoff that follows directly from doing interesting things in space. And the vast majority of interesting things in space are done by robots, not humans. The infinite variations of water floating in space are cute, but it’s a Mars panorama or a view of Saturn or even of the Sun that will trigger real awe — and inspiration.

    A few other NASA-related entities also chimed in; NASA’s Launch Services Program at Cape Kennedy tweeted about “launching across our solar system,” while NASA’s Stennis Space Center used the opportunity to plug NASA’s PR effort.

    Largely missing was NASA’s elephant in the room: its $100 to $200 billion-plus flagship, the International Space Station. As far as I can tell, there were only two governmental or official contributions that even mentioned the ISS. The first was CASIS, the organization that manages the International Space Station’s laboratory facilities. It came out swinging, offering perhaps the only official tweet that attempted directly to refute the argument made in Slate.

    The ISS: An amazing field lab producing good science & just beginning to show its long-term value #WhatIsNASAFor http://t.co/F2wfHH8pqw

    — ISS National Lab (@ISS_CASIS) February 8, 2014

    The other was ISS Research, NASA’s mouthpiece for scientific research aboard the station. How is it contributing to NASA’s purpose?

    #WhatIsNASAFor @ISS_Research Benefits for Humanity video feature and article: http://t.co/Jbutzc65R1 #CleanWater #MedicalTech #Crops #Earth

    — ISS Research (@ISS_Research) February 7, 2014

    Spinoffs. Sigh.

    The civilian contributions to #WhatisNASAfor tended to hit on similar themes. (The word cloud below represents relative frequencies of certain words in the part of the thread I captured, after meaningless phrases had been removed.)


    Inspiration, education, tech spinoffs, and the sheer coolness of some of NASA’s missions? Wonderful, but not ends in themselves. The need to escape the confines of the Earth, and the manifest destiny of colonizing space? After Apollo, this became unattainable in any meaningful way for quite a while to come.

    What’s left is science — and science is where NASA’s greatest achievements lie. NASA spacecraft are helping us answer some of the biggest questions in the universe. (Heck, I wrote an entire book describing a revolution in cosmology sparked, in part, by NASA programs like Hubble, WMAP, and COBE.) But that drive is fundamentally incompatible with the agency’s perceived need to hype bad science and trying to convince the world that its astronautic boondoggles are producing world-class scientific achievements.

    That’s NASA’s dilemma in a nutshell: despite all the agency has done, despite all it has to offer, so long as human spaceflight is at the core of NASA’s existence, it will never evolve beyond a faint echo of its prior self.

  • Facebook Provides Opportunity for Lesson in Gender Identity
    A few months ago I was filling out an online customer survey. Under “gender,” in addition to “male” and “female,” there was a third option: “other.” I thought that was impressive. Then Facebook came along and added 50. Bravo, Facebook, bravo.

    This is huge progress for transgender rights, but it also seems to be a source of confusion for the masses. In the short time since Facebook’s announcement, I’ve had quite a few people say to me, “Jeez, how many types of transgenders are there?” and, “What the hell does ‘cisgender’ mean?”

    While I did transition from female to male, I am by no means an expert on all things transgender.* That said, I thought I’d try to help by clearing up the meanings of some of the terms that, thanks to Facebook, have now gone mainstream.

    “Gender identity” is the internal sense of one’s gender, regardless of anatomy. For most people, their gender identity matches up with the anatomy they’re born with.

    “Transgender” is an umbrella term used to encompass people with various gender identities that do not match what they were labeled with at birth. Those who transition from male to female (“MTF”) or female to male (“FTM”) are included under this umbrella.

    “Cisgender” is a word that describes everyone who is not transgender — that is, people whose gender identity matches up with the sex they were labeled with at birth.

    The “gender binary” is a conception of gender in which there are only two genders that someone could be: male or female.

    People who identify as “genderqueer” reject the gender binary. They might express their identity as being neither female nor male, or as genderfluid, a mix of the two.

    Now, just because all these options are available on Facebook’s drop-down menu doesn’t mean every transgender person is going to change the gender identity listed on their profile page. I know I won’t, because although I did transition from female to male, I don’t identify as transgender — well, not anymore. I did during my transition stage. I remember sitting in my endocrinologist’s office, filling out the paperwork before my first testosterone injection. I stared at the two boxes marked “male” and “female,” not sure which one I was technically supposed to check at this stage in the game. Had there been a box labeled “transgender” or “FTM,” I probably wouldn’t have hesitated. Instead, I looked up at my doctor.

    “Should I put down ‘male’?”

    He smiled. “Isn’t that why we’re here?” he asked.

    Now I don’t even flinch. I consider myself male. That’s it. I’m the man I always knew myself to be. But I certainly don’t speak for everyone. There are lots of people out there who identify as “trans man” or “FTM,” and that’s cool too. To each his (or her, or their) own!

    *For a more thorough understanding of all things transgender, I highly recommend picking up the book Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue by Nicholas Teich.

  • Tesla Model S Reportedly Catches Fire In Toronto
    The Tesla Model S is safe. So safe, that it achieved a record score on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Rating. Still, though, the Model S isn’t fireproof.

    Business Insider reports that a Tesla Model S suddenly burst into flames in a Toronto garage earlier this month. A source told the site that the car was not plugged into its charger when it caught fire.

    In a statement to Bloomberg, Tesla wrote that it is still investigating the Toronto case:

    [W]e don’t yet know the precise cause [of the fire], but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire.

    The Model S has been in the crosshairs for fire risks in the past. After a November garage fire occurred while a Model S was charging, the company sent owners new charging adapters and implemented a software upgrade to prevent overheating.

    According to the National Fire Protection Agency, there were 172,500 car fires in 2012. Tesla claimed in a November blog post that owners of gasoline vehicles were 4.5 times more likely to experience a fire than a Model S owner.

  • Denied, Deferred, Demented
    I grew up twinned with the space age, entering elementary school just before Sputnik 1 launched and finishing high school as astronauts first walked on the moon.

    Then, in 1972, the year I graduated from college, the space age abandoned me. NASA budgets dried up, human space exploration beyond Earth orbit became null and void, and my number-one career choice paled into a remote fantasy that now seemed hollow and uninviting.

    Not that I’d prepared myself for a career in space. I grew up pre-STEM, when girls my age were routinely denied access to advanced courses in science and tech. I didn’t have the right temperament, my high-school guidance counselor told me when I tried to sign up for trig. Instead he enrolled me in art. Never again did I venture outside the safe orbit of arts/humanities that had so clearly been defined for me.

    But there remained a need to prove myself in some other medium besides that amorphous array of oils, pastels, charcoal and papier-mâché sculpture our pert art teacher insisted we engage with — when she wasn’t busy flirting with the crew-cut chemistry teacher across the hall.

    It’s been 41 years since humans last left Earth orbit. Some would say we’ve been going nowhere ever since. Others maintain that the ISS circling overhead has served its purpose as a working space laboratory by providing valuable fact-finding for future long-term missions to other worlds. Both are true, but even a dramatic space walk in orbit does not pack the same punch as would venturing untethered into untested territory.

    During this extended space-age lull, I entered adulthood, earned a doctorate, pursued multiple careers, married more than once, raised a son, wrote books, made movies, and learned HTML. I’ve been through seven cars, 11 computers, and several hundred houseplants. Then, just as 2013 was ending, I received this email:

    You and only 1057 other aspiring astronauts around the globe have been pre-selected as potential candidates to launch the dawn of a new era — human life on Mars. Congratulations. You have made it to the next round.

    I’d been shortlisted for Mars One.

    Of the 534 humans who have flown in space, 57 have been women. Of the 23 who have left Earth’s orbit and the 12 who have stepped onto another world, none have been women. But our last extraplanetary mission was four decades ago, and during the long hiatus we entered a new stage of space democratization, one that insures a more equitable selection process for future space explorers. In 2013 NASA, for the first time, chose an equal number of women and men as new astronauts. China’s new space program has already established a gender-equal norm, including women on all missions to date, and Russia, after a 13-year drought with no women in space, plans to send a female cosmonaut to the ISS in September 2014. Mars One invited anyone in the world 18 or older to apply for a one-way trip to Mars; more than 202,000 submitted video applications.

    The 472 women, including me, who have advanced to what Mars One calls Round Two have a reasonable expectation of being among the first to colonize Mars. It’s even conceivable that I could be the one to take the sure-to-become-iconic first footstep onto the surface of the red planet.

    What took us so long? Why couldn’t this have happened when I was younger, less entwined with a life I’ve spent decades getting just right? I have tenure. I have cats. I’ll be 75 when the Mars One spaceship launches. If the rumored reality-show coverage results, will anyone want to watch an old lady making her dogged way to Mars?

    On the other hand, if manned — and womanned — Mars missions had come along sooner, no one would have given me a chance to participate. I didn’t have anyone’s version of the right stuff then. I’m not so sure I can get any of it now.

    Mars One has renewed my belief that a dream deferred is not necessarily a dream denied. But at my age I have to ask: Is my dream by now demented?

  • Review: Nokia Lumia Icon For Verizon Wireless With 4G LTE
    Nokia Lumia ICON Verizon Wireless

    Nokia is upping the ante in a big way with its newest Windows Phone, the Lumia Icon. This smartphone is only available on Verizon Wireless for $199.99 with a two-year agreement. It promises to grow even more interest in the Lumia Windows Phone line for Big Red customers.


    The Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone is a dazzling blend of curved Gorilla Glass and top-tier internals that meet or beat everything that’s on the market today. That may seem to be quite a statement, but it’s one I’m happy to make.

    They have clearly done their homework with what people like and have come very close to producing a smartphone that any one of us would want. My review phone came in matte black with a brushed metal frame and a sealed polycarbonate back. It has a natural feeling curve on the back that fits well with its metallic frame. The phone measures in at 5.39H x 2.79W x .39D inches and 5.86 ounces.

    Nokia Lumia ICON Side View

    This leads up to the brilliant five-inch OLED full HD 1080p display topped with extremely tough Gorilla Glass 3. The full HD screen is nice, but its 441 pixels per inch passes up what the Retina display found on the iPhone 5s can muster at 326 ppi. And unlike other mobile operating systems, the version that this Nokia Icon has allows you to fine-tune saturation and color temperature.

    Looking and feeling great are only two aspects of what the Icon has to offer. It’s quite fast with the 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB of RAM and 4G LTE. This Nokia supports VZW’s LTE at 700/1700MHz, UMTS 850/900, and is Global Ready with GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz and 3G EVDO Rev. A 850/1900MHz. I tested it in Las Vegas about 15 minutes away from the strip in a semi-rural area inside of a building. I received several speed test results of 27Mbps+ down and 13Mbps up. Rounding out the wireless features of the Lumia Icon are GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and dual-band 802.11 WiFi b, g, n and ac. A 2420 mAh battery kept it going all day even after running various speed and WiFi transfer tests. Calls were even clear when making them in a crowded room.

    A smartphone that comes with 32GB of storage space is needed when taking photos with the Lumia Icon’s 20MP sensor. This camera sensor is the same as what’s found in the Lumia 1520, including the multi-element Zeiss optic, but adds the capability to capture photos in DNG Raw format.

    Overall design details of the Nokia Icon impressed me. For instance, the SIM card tray is removable with a fingernail. A few physical buttons run along the right side for volume, power and camera functionality. The camera shutter button has two levels to it, one to focus and one to take the shot. And last but not least, this Windows Phone has wireless charging. Wireless charging makes sense in 2014 and it’s something that every phone vendor should be including.

    Nokia Lumia Icon Unboxing Video By Chris Rauschnot @24k on Twitter

    Nokia is on a roll, as of late, with better smartphones at each turn. It shows that their product designers get what people want in a phone. Those features are large bright screens, 20MP or more cameras that produce crisp photos, brushed metal touches and polycarbonate cases to reduce weight.


    The Nokia Lumia Icon is currently available for $199 with a two-year contract on Verizon Wireless. Now is the perfect time for Nokia to have released their newest smartphone. Friends that have Verizon Wireless have mentioned that they can’t wait to get their hands on one. Its form factor, high quality construction, great camera and amazing OLED screen have me excited for this phone.

    Rating: 4.5/5


    • More comfortable smartphone to hold in one hand than the Lumia 1520.
    • Quad-core CPU and quad noise-canceling microphones.
    • Bright and clear screen that works well even in direct sun light.
    • Free cloud storage and backup service from Microsoft.


    • A full metal enclosure would have been great, but the polycarbonate back makes sense to reduce weight and increase signal.
    • Somewhat slow auto focus even with the updated Nokia Camera app.
    • No memory slot for expansion.

    Disclosure: I received a Nokia Lumia Icon at no cost for review. I did not receive compensation for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Beth Whaanga's Powerful Breast Cancer Portraits Lost Her 100 Friends, But Could Save Many More Lives
    Beth Whaanga posted images of herself after breast cancer surgery on Facebook, hoping to share her story and urge others to take preventative measures.

    What she didn’t expect was the vitriolic responses from some of her Facebook “friends” — and the subsequent outpourings of support she received when the photographs went viral.

    (Some images below are NSFW and may be considered graphic.)

    Whaanga, a nurse and married mother-of-four from Brisbane, Australia, was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 32nd birthday. After finding out that she carried the BRCA2 gene, a genetic mutation that put her at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer, Whaanga underwent a double mastectomy last November, as well as a hysterectomy, lymphadenectomy and melanoma lumpectomies. Instead of hiding her scars, she chose to speak out in order to help others affected by cancer.

    “Your scars are a physical or emotional representation of a trial you’ve been through,” Whaanga told The Huffington Post in an email. “They show that you came through the trial and survived.”

    She teamed up with friend and photographer Nadia Masot to photograph her post-surgery body in a series of portraits called “Under The Red Dress.”

    “I really felt during the shoot I wanted to portray [Whaanga’s] strength and resilience, but also have her vulnerability and pain come across,” Masot told The Huffington Post in an email. “She was unafraid of me pointing the camera at her exposed body, scarred as it is. She was confident in sharing it with me, and I think that came across.”

    beth whaanga

    Introducing the photographs on her Facebook page, Whaanga wrote:

    WARNING: these images are confronting and contain topless material. They are not in anyway meant to be sexual. The aim of this project is to raise awareness for breast cancer. If you find these images offensive please hide them from your feed. Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal but under their clothing sometimes their bodies tell a different story. Nadia Masot and I aim to find others who are willing to participate in our project so that we might show others that cancer effects everyone. The old and the young, age does not matter, self examination is vital. It can happen to you.

    beth whaanga

    Despite Whaanga’s explanation, some people took issue with the images. Hours after the photographs had been posted, over 100 people had de-friended Whaanga on Facebook, and several reported the album to Facebook for violation of the site’s photo policy. (Facebook has contacted Whaanga to inform her that they will not be removing the images.)

    beth whaanga

    “The feedback that I’ve received was that people felt that the medium was not appropriate for these images,” Whaanga told HuffPost. “They were also concerned about the graphic and confronting content of the images.”

    These objections, however, seem almost petty in light of the project’s goal: raising awareness about cancer and encouraging people to make their health a priority.

    “These photos remind the viewer to be vigilant about checking their bodies and to be more aware that this could and and possibly will happen to you,” Whaanga told HuffPost.

    beth whaanga

    “If the ‘Under The Red Dress’ project helps one man, woman or family deal with their battle with cancer, or helps one person in their preventative journey, than I’m very happy,” Whaanga told HuffPost.

    Learn more about the Under The Red Dress Project here.

  • Toyota Doesn't Want You To Plug In Its Electric Cars
    Interested in an electric or plug-in hybrid car but not so keen on having to make the schlep to actually plug in the car every time it needs a charge?

    Then Toyota’s wireless charging system will probably interest you.

    So how does it work? Basically, the system transmits electricity between a coil on the ground and a coil in the car, the automaker explained in a press release. This allows the vehicle to charge without the need for a cord. Since vehicle position relative to the coil on the ground is important, the system enables a car to automatically park itself so that it can get the best charge.

    Toyota is testing the technology on its Prius Plug-In hybrid-electric vehicle. Three lucky homeowners will get to test the technology for a year so that the company can gather information to better future wireless charging applications, the company said.

    As Automobile Magazine notes, this isn’t the first time the industry is seeing wireless charging technology for electric vehicles. The publication points out “Volvo, Nissan and automotive supplier Delphi are also testing similar systems for electric vehicles.”

    Regardless of which manufacturer comes out with the technology first, it seems that we, the lazy consumers, come out the big winners.

    Check out Toyota’s video (above) to see how the wireless technology works.

  • How to Increase the Number of Women in Tech
    Tech-industry executives say they have an extremely difficult time finding technical talent and that this shortage hurts their company’s performance. They claim to look far and wide, including abroad, yet they overlook the lowest-hanging fruit: women and minorities. The percentage of women in engineering jobs is so embarrassingly low — in the single digits or low teens — that many tech companies refuse to release diversity data. Their excuse is that the pipeline of women studying engineering is shrinking.

    This is a self-perpetuating cycle. Because there are few women in engineering, girls don’t perceive computing to be a friendly profession, so fewer are entering the field. In 1985, 37 percent of Computer and Information Science undergraduate degree recipients were women. By 2011 this proportion had dropped to 18 percent.

    The technology industry is excluding a significant proportion of our population from the growing technology economy and things are only getting worse.

    This problem can be fixed, but we need to start by acknowledging that the fault is with the employer rather than with women. Employers usually have good intentions and do not deliberately discriminate against women and minorities, but there is a hidden bias that needs to be understood and overcome. The diversity data that corporate executives usually look at are at the company level rather than at the departmental level and include lower-level administrative/support roles. If these data were analyzed at the departmental level, particularly in technology, executives would be shocked at what they saw. They would realize that the deck is stacked against women at every stage of the game.

    I talked with some of leading experts on diversity for a book I’m writing about women in innovation. Here are some of their recommendations for understanding the problem and finding solutions:

    Look at how jobs are defined. Lucy Sanders, CEO of The National Center for Women & Information Technology, says that companies need to pay attention to what types of technical jobs are given to women. Are they the low-status technical jobs? Are they high-prestige jobs such as architect and lead designer? How are the jobs defined? Are they written in such a way as to solicit response from males? For example, job descriptions that are overloaded with long lists of required skills (which may or may not be needed on day one, and could be learned on the job) may cause women to not apply if they don’t have each and every skill; men on the other hand will tend to apply if they have only a subset of the skills, Sanders says.

    Broaden the talent pool by looking beyond the usual recruitment grounds. Companies need to build ties to universities where there are high proportions of women and minorities, and to recruit at conferences such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and Women 2.0.

    Interview at least one woman and one member of a minority for every open position. Freada Kapor Klein, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, says companies should implement a rule such as the Rooney Rule for National Football League teams. This requires all teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. The key is to make sure that every hiring pool is diverse with respect to gender and race.

    Have at least one woman on the hiring team. Telle Whitney, CEO of the Anita Borg Institute, cites academic research that shows that people tend to hire those who are similar to them. She says that the demographics of the hiring team greatly influence the outcome of hiring. It also makes a difference in offer acceptance. A female candidate will recognize that the business values diversity if the interviewers are men and women, and she is more likely to join the company if offered a job, Whitney says.

    In hiring decisions, the focus should always be on competencies rather than on credentials. Klein says that degrees from a prestigious school usually weigh heavily over the ability to write code or solve problems. Candidate-screening criteria such as unpaid internships, summer international experiences, and gap years also create an unfair advantage because these are signs of a wealthy background and not earned meritocratic achievements. She says that companies should focus on “distance traveled” — such as the demonstrated ability of people who grew up in modest circumstances to overcome adversity, or to be the first in their families to go to college.

    Once we increase the proportion of women in technical roles, the challenge is to retain them and ease the transition to senior positions. In the next installment, I will detail what the experts say on retainment.

    Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Research and Innovation at Singularity University. This article first appeared in the Wall Street Journal, where he is a contributor. Wadhwa’s work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, LinkedIn Influencers blog and other places. Visit his website: wadhwa.com.

  • Court dismisses suit claiming iPhone 4S ads misrepresented Siri
    A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Claudia Wilken, has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Apple ads for the iPhone 4S were deceptive about the capabilities of Siri. In her ruling Wilken writes that the plaintiffs’ claims depended on “non-actionable puffery,” and failed to show evidence of fraud. A “reasonable consumer,” she says, would not expect Siri to work perfectly all the time; the plaintiffs charged that Apple gave the impression Siri could handle any request instantly.


  • Instagram Says No To Lovematically, A Web Service That Automatically 'Likes' All Posts
    Everyone wants to feel loved. A new web app aims to help you share the love (and receive some in return) by automatically liking every post on your Instagram. But Instagram doesn’t seem happy about this.

    Developer Rameet Chawla created the web-only Lovematically app to automate the process of satiating friends’ desires for digital affection. On Valentines Day, he opened the service up to the first 5,000 users who wished to sign up. Instagram was quick to begin blocking the app.

    A note on the Lovematically’s website informs users that Instagram is blocking the app for some. .

    Ryan Matzner, the director of Chawla’s development company, had this to say about Instagram’s attempts to shut down Lovematically:

    The service is running for the vast majority of users who’ve already signed up. I can’t get into specifics, but we architected the tool to be robust and we don’t believe it can be shutdown en mass, at least not without significant effort on Instagram’s end. Instagram appears to have made a dent in shutting us down, but they still have a long way to go. And there are numerous countermeasures we are employing. It’s a bit cat-and-mouse right now.

    On Lovematically’s website, Chawla explains his motivation for creating the app. He also describes the satisfaction of getting likes: “It’s our generation’s crack cocaine. People are addicted. We experience withdrawals. We are so driven by this drug, getting just one hit elicits truly peculiar reactions. … They’ve inconspicuously emerged as the first digital drug to dominate our culture.”

    Researchers have found that human beings have a natural tendency toward reciprocation. Lovematically aims to tap directly into that tendency and game Instagram’s system to help grow users’ social media presence. (The more likes you give out, the more you’re likely to receive in return.) Whether those likes are genuine or not seems to be irrelevant.

    Chawla says he gained 30 new followers per day during the three months after he built the app and started using it. “I’ve also noticed the reciprocal love coming in,” he adds on the app’s site. “Pre-Lovematically, my posts would average 35 likes. Now, I routinely hit the triple-digits for likes.”

    But will users care if their followers find out about all this automatic liking? Chawla claims that the possibility doesn’t seem to phase Lovematically users or their friends.

    “The primary caveat is the disappointment people feel when the automation is revealed,” he writes. “But, funnily enough, after a quick phase of disillusionment, that their adulation was automated, people quickly demand access to this magical tool.”

    Instagram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  • Chinese Singles' Valentine's Day Prank Will Warm Your Cold, Dead Heart
    There’s being bitter on Valentine’s Day, and then there’s this.

    In what can only be considered a master class in trolling, a group of singles in Shanghai banded together and bought every odd-numbered seat for a Valentine’s Day screening of a rom-com so that couples couldn’t sit together, the Telegraph reports.

    “Want to see a movie on Valentine’s Day?” the organizer of the prank, known only by the initials “UP,” taunted on an online forum. “Sorry, you’ll have to sit separately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

    A self-described “computer nerd,” UP told a Shanghai newspaper he recently had his heart broken (figures — all evil masterminds have a sad backstory) and that he had first tried to carry out the devious plan alone. When his efforts to purchase every other seat online and at the theater box office failed, he recruited some online accomplices to help him get the job done.

    But don’t hate him because he ruined your Valentine’s Day make-out session, Shanghai cinema-goers. UP was only kidding!

    “I hope all lovers understand this is just a small joke,” the prankster told the Shanghai Morning Post.

    Luckily for UP, he’s not alone in his anti-Valentine’s Day sentiment. Singles in China are so averse to the Hallmark holiday, they consider November 11 Singles’ Day — an unofficial holiday that started in the 1990s as a protest to Valentine’s Day that’s since become the biggest online shopping day of the year worldwide.

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

  • There Should Be an App for That: 10 Apps We Wish Existed

    By Chloe Johns

    What would make your life easier? If only your phone could make you a smoothie, put the kids to bed, or iron your shirt for the morning. One can only dream…

    With something more feasible in mind, here is a list of 10 must-develop apps for 2014.

    Is your mind constantly wandering? Can’t believe where the time has gone? Then download iProcrastinate.

    Use the app to select the 10 distracting websites you visit the most, and simply plug your phone into your computer. Every time you log onto Facebook or browse Buzzfeed, your phone will vibrate loudly to remind you of the task in hand. For the daydreamers amongst us, iProcrastinate also tracks keystrokes.

    So you broke up, and it didn’t end well. You’ve deleted, unfriended and unfollowed, but moving on is hard when their face still finds its way into your news feed. ‘Axe-the-Ex’ scans your social media channels and removes any trace of your Ex’s existence. When activated, your Facebook news feed will remove photos where your Ex is tagged by mutual friends, it won’t count their ‘likes’, and you will never see their re-tweets. Axe-the-Ex – for when ‘unfriending’ isn’t enough.

    Reports show that we are throwing away more un-eaten food than ever before. All this waste is bad for the environment, and bad for our pockets. NotExpired is your go to app for checking whether expiry dates are accurate. Search your food item, enter its packaging, how long it’s been open, where you stored it, and the expiry date. NotExpired will tell you if there is any longevity left in it.


    Does your team spend more time at the kettle then at their desks? Save their time with iKettle. The app chooses a team member at random, and schedules them to make a daily tea round. It will also send an alert letting them know everyone elses sugar/milk ratio. For time efficiency, tea rounds of more than 10 cups will prompt iKettle to schedule an additional team member to help.

    Going My Way?
    London black cabbies are required to learn The Knowledge. This extensive exam details the shortest routes from A to B, at any given time of the day. For when you’re elsewhere in the World, ‘Going My Way?’ can ensure you that you’re being taken the quickest way, and will send you an alert If your driver deviates from the most efficient route.


    If you’ve ever been on a restricted diet, you know how hard it is to control what goes into your food. It can look safe, but somehow a splash of soy sauce has found its way in there. iContainGluten works by docking a gluten detector (yet to be developed) to your phone. Lined with thousands of sensors, the detector can measure gluten levels by simply waving your phone over your dinner. N.B iContainSaturatedFats and iContainDairy will be available as add-ons.

    Auto Un-tag
    It’s been a messy night. You wake up at midday with a thousand push-notifications on your phone. Then the panic sets in – You’ve been tagged. A lot. By granting Auto Un-tag access to your Facebook profile, it will use algorithms from previously untagged Facebook photos to determine the types of pictures that you don’t want to be seen. Fat. Drunk. Lazy-Eyed? Never again, my friend!

    With ‘H2O’, everyone can now measure their hydration levels on the go. By pressing your thumb on a sensor pad plugged into your phone, ‘H2O’ can tell you exactly how hydrated you are from the moisture in your skin. It can also tell you how much water you need to take in to return to normal levels. Bring on the glowing complexions!


    You’re at a party or a conference and someone waves at you from across the room – You have no idea who they are. WTFIT (Who the F*** Is That?) stealthily connects with their phone and scans your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see if you’re already connected with them. Since access was granted during the initial friend request, your phone will determine if there is a match. Along with a name, it will give you 3 headline facts about that person. Look down. Read quickly. Or better yet have Siri whisper it into your ear. Awkward situation averted.

    We’ve all stayed up long into the night, drink in hand, discussing the problems in our society, and what we can do to fix them. Come morning, all is forgotten. This app will record your evening’s conversations, and pick out the best comments and ideas. This could potentially be the first app to achieve World Peace, or at the very least remind you to go to bed next time.

    Thousands of apps are developed everyday, and while your phone can’t teleport you to a meeting you’re late for (yet!) , none of these 10 apps are unachievable. So, raise that capital and let’s get developing!

  • 25 Funny Tweets To Help You Get Over Valentine's Day
    There are a lot people that can help you cope with your Valentine’s Day misery. You can get sloshed with your buddy Jack Daniels, go on a romantic dinner date with Papa John, or shack up with Ben & Jerry.

    We, however, prefer to spend our day hanging out with the funniest, most cynical comedians in the Twitterverse. And lucky for you, we kept track of the best tweets about love, romance, and our ol’ buddy Cupid. Tweet your heart out, everyone.

  • Should We Blame Russia for the Target Breach?
    Is it time to hold the Russian government responsible for the rise in sophisticated cybercrime attacks on the U.S. economy?

    As Congress recently held hearings on the Target data breach to discuss new ways to protect consumer information and prevent future data breaches, one key issue that should be on the table is how to clamp down on the foreign source of these attacks. The Target breach — possibly the largest hack in U.S. history, affecting over 110 million consumer accounts — used Russian-made malware to pull it off. That should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, some of the most notorious malware that’s targeted U.S. consumers, banks and retailers over the past few years has originated from Russia or former Soviet states: ZeuS, Citadel, SpyEye, CryptoLocker, to name just a few. In fact, roughly 70 percent of “exploit kits” released in the fourth quarter of 2012 came from Russia, according to a study by Solutionary.

    Until we tackle the Russia problem, we won’t make any real progress against cybercrime. In order to stop a leaky boat from sinking, you have to do more than just bail water — you have to plug the actual leak.

    The U.S. has already taken an aggressive stance against the Chinese government for its ongoing cyber-espionage attacks against the private sector. It needs to do the same with Russia. While the Russian government does not appear to be directly behind these cybercrime activities, neither is it doing much to stop them. A report by the Russian cybercrime intelligence firm Group-IB cited a number of reasons for Russia’s failure to thwart the proliferation of this activity inside the country: inadequate laws, weak penalties and legal loopholes for those convicted; a need for more advanced investigative capabilities and better law enforcement training; and improved coordination with other countries. In its defense, Russian authorities did arrest the creator of the BlackHole exploit kit. But they’ve failed to stop the vast majority of high-profile crimeware rings — from ZeuS to CryptoLocker.

    Russia also has another problem: “bulletproof hosting.” What is that? Bulletproof hosting refers to the practice of protecting malware-infected websites from being shut down by their service providers. In the U.S., for instance, when a website is found to contain malware, there are legal recourses to take the site offline and prevent it from being used to infect other websites. That is not always the case in Russia — these infected websites are sometimes protected from takedowns, allowing cybercriminals to thrive by having a safe platform to host their malware for infecting U.S. consumers and businesses.

    It’s estimated that cybercrime (most of it appearing to come out of Russia) costs the global economy $113 billion each year, according to Symantec. Unlike the estimated costs of Chinese cyber-espionage (which are speculative figures based on projected future values), cybercrime is stealing real money from companies and consumers every day.

    Russia’s failure to act against the cybercrime industry operating within its borders poses an advanced persistent threat to the U.S. economy. Our government officials can no longer ignore the consequences of Russia’s inability or unwillingness to act. If we’re going to hold China responsible for the cyber-espionage attacks emanating from its IP addresses, isn’t it time we confront Russia for harboring the vast majority of the world’s cybercrime industry?

  • DealNN: Mac mini, iPhone 5 and more
    Until 2/19/2014 at MegaMacs.com, get a great deal on a bundle that includes a refurbished Mac mini, keyboard, mouse, DVI-HDMI adapter and Adobe Lightroom 5 all for only $239.99, which is $50 off their regular price. That makes this about $85 less than the lowest price we’ve seen for the Mac mini alone anywhere else, and Bitcoin is now accepted as a payment method. The Mac mini features a 1.83GHz Intel core 2 duo processor, 2GB of RAM and 80GB hard drive. Included is a 30 day warranty from MegaMacs.


  • MLB completes outfitting two stadiums with iBeacon technology
    Major League Baseball has completed its first post-test iBeacon deployments at two stadiums, according to an announcement. 65 iBeacons have been put in place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. The league says that plans are underway to have over 20 parks outfitted by Opening Day; the main reason for the initial two stadiums is that the Padres are hosting the Dodgers on March 30th.


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