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Mobile Technology News, February 17, 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.

  • Google buys sound authentication firm
    Google acquires SlickLogin – an Israeli start-up behind the technology that allows websites to verify a user’s identity by using sound waves.
  • S Korea firms fined over data theft
    South Korean regulators have punished three credit card companies for their role in the country’s largest-ever theft of financial data last month.
  • Five-year-olds to study video games
    The game for five-year-olds and other Seattle start-ups
  • Data stolen in Kickstarter hack
    Popular online crowdfunding website Kickstarter is hacked, but no credit card data was accessed, says its chief executive.
  • 'iPad Pro' iffy, Microsoft Office on iPad 'alive' in 2014: Reports
    Coming soon — or not so soon — to an iPad near you: Reports weigh in on iPad ‘Pro’ and Microsoft Office coming to the popular tablet.
  • Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner Among Olympians Letting Sponsors Compose Some Tweets
    SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Between photos and insights about their Olympic experience, some Olympians are turning over their social media accounts to sponsors, agreeing to quotas of postings on Twitter and Facebook and letting other people send commercial messages in their name.

    The agents for US figure skaters Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold both say sponsors draft some of their tweets, plugging their brands. “This is the first Olympics where I actually have a social media calendar, where an athlete has to tweet or mention something on a given day,” Gold’s agent, Yuki Saegusa, said in an interview.

    “We get a list of tweets or social media things that need to be posted and then we approve them for her,” said Saegusa, senior vice president for Olympic clients at sports management giant IMG.

    Although they “encourage” Gold to post the pre-packaged commercial tweets to her 65,000 followers herself, sometimes others do it for her.

    “We want it to be from her point of view, and from her mouth and from her fingers. So we try to get her to do them — mostly,” Saegusa said.

    “We’re in a very new age now where a lot of advertising, or PR, or promotions, is social media. That’s becoming a very important aspect of marketing.”

    Wagner’s IMG agent, David Baden, said athletes’ sponsorship deals are now starting to specify “how many tweets, how many Facebook mentions and even Instagram” photos they must post.

    “That is part of the contract now. That is how important social media has become,” he said. “The last Olympics that was not the case.”

    Baden, an IMG vice president for Olympic clients, worked with skating bronze medalist Joannie Rochette at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

    He said they have access to Wagner’s account, so they can post commercial tweets to her 60,000 followers.

    “It’s not like Ashley doesn’t know about these. I mean we send her all these. She had to approve all of them, and so it’s not that she does not know what is being said. She’s seen it. She’s part of this whole process,” he said.

    “It’s just that with her schedule, and if we can make things easier, what’s the difference?”

    Sponsors make sure schedules of tweets are adhered to.

    “We’ll get a message, usually, from the sponsor, and just say(ing) ‘Just reminding you this week, these tweets,” he said. “I’ll send it to my assistant. And she’ll just say; ‘Yes, I have it already in queue to do it.'”

    The agents did not specify which of their athletes’ tweets in recent months were drafted and posted on their behalf.

    The verified accounts of both Gold and Wagner — @GraceEGold and @AshWagner2010 — have referenced their own and US Olympic Committee sponsors, in tweets and re-tweets.

    It’s not clear which recent postings were paid for, but after the Feb. 7 opening ceremony Gold sent out an Instagram photo of herself holding a lipstick applier. “Couldn’t forget the red lips,” it read. As well as CoverGirl, her Twitter profile lists other sponsors: Visa, United Airlines, Procter & Gamble Family, Smucker’s, Pandora Jewelry and Airweave.

    Baden says to fulfill their contracts, simply retweeting a tweet first sent by a sponsor isn’t sufficient.

    When on one occasion he used his own account to send a sponsor’s tweet and then asked Wagner to retweet it, “they called me and said, ‘No, no. No retweets. It has to come from her.'”

    ___

    Follow John Leicester on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnleicester

  • How A Bewildering Literary Phrase Taught Me To Love My Flaws And Limitations
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    The first assignment I was given at Oxford, where I was spending my junior year of college, was to write about the novels of Thomas Hardy, paying attention to “the disturb of the fictive.” There were eight of us in the room when our tutor pronounced these words, and we all looked at each other, dumbfounded, none of us daring to ask the woman for clarification. She was the ex-wife of a descendant of William Wordsworth, she smoked stinky French cigarettes, and she dressed, always, in black. She was terrifying.

    We were to write the essay over the course of the week and present it to the tutor at the first of our one-on-one tutorials. Off we went, bewildered and ignorant. Fictive was tricky enough, but disturb? As a noun? What on earth did it mean? We discussed the phrase over meals and coffees, but made no headway with it before it was time for us to settle in, alone, to write.

    There are moments in any writer’s work when something goes awry, or when something upsets the writer’s plan for the novel (or short story, or poem). Often, these deviations end up being for the best. — Henriette Lazaridis Power

    That first week, I was convinced the tutor was nuts and I looked ahead to a year of tutorials with dread, convinced I wouldn’t learn a thing. Instead, she turned out to be a professor of unusual intelligence and insight, and over the years, in my first career as an English professor and my current one as a novelist, I keep coming back to that strange idea of hers: the disturb of the fictive. I’ve looked through my old papers, but can’t find the essay I wrote, and I’ve Googled the phrase with no success. But the idea still fascinates me–or at least my idea of what I think it means.

    There are moments in any writer’s work when something goes awry, or when something upsets the writer’s plan for the novel (or short story, or poem). Often, these deviations end up being for the best. A novel that adheres too strictly to the outline laid out for it at the start might be too programmatic to be interesting. Sometimes, the detour becomes the road you need your plot to follow. Sometimes a character you had no intention of spending more than a few pages on can grow into a novel’s driving force.

    But there’s something more than that–and that’s what the tutor was trying to get at with her disturb of the fictive. There are instances in the work of a writer or a painter or a musician when the very energy of creation makes itself felt in the resulting art. In those Hardy novels, I think it’s in moments when it almost feels as if the narrative is a scroll that has stopped rolling while the pen keeps writing. You end up with a passage so deeply and intensely written over that it borders on the incomprehensible. And then the scroll starts up again and the novel moves on the way it’s supposed to.

    You can’t plan for these moments in your own work, but you can spot them and edit them out. Or should you?

    I’m all for writing that is meticulously cared for, and I value the same dedication in the photography or painting or acting or singing that I seek out. Still, why rid your work of the traces of its own creation? Couldn’t it be that the flaw you see but leave intact becomes your own mark of creation and identity, like the fingerprint at the edge of a potter’s vase, or the hair that drops from the painter’s head onto the still-wet canvas?

    These days, we can consume our art in conditions of perfection: CD’s with no crackle or static, photographs with no scratches. But I think we all find something intriguing in the idea of the disturbance. We love the Easter egg in the video game, the intentional flaw of a Navajo rug or a quilt. More and more of us have tired of the digital clarity of a CD, and film is still being produced for those who want the imperfections of a negative in the darkroom. Conceptual artists have long been making art that is set to decay, its disturb built in to the fictive energy that invented it. Audiobooks now come so cleanly produced that you hear only the syllables and nothing more, but I will never forget a recording of the Turn of the Screw in which I could hear the actor’s every inhalation–a poor production, no doubt, but so human.

    That is it, in the end: the disturb of the fictive is that quality in art that is human, impermanent, physical, that comes from our hard imaginative work. What I learned that week so many years ago took me a long time to truly discover. It’s in its flaws and limitations that our work comes alive, and it’s in those flaws and limitations that we reveal ourselves, as artists and as human beings.

    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.

  • 7 Random Acts Of Kindness Inspired By A Drinking Game
    When a dangerous online drinking game called “NekNomination” began spreading rapidly on Facebook and Twitter, it looked as though we’d found another reason to curse social media (and young people).

    NekNomination involves filming yourself drinking an alcoholic concoction and then nominating a friend to outdo you. The trend began in Australia but has spread across the globe, according to the Telegraph.

    But from this drinking game has come a new challenge — one that we’re promoting: RAKNominations.

    To counter the debauchery that NekNomination promotes, people have begun filming themselves doing random acts of kindness and nominating their friends to do the same.

    Here are just a few of the lovely gestures to pop up in the last week:

    1. This young man bought a bouquet of roses and randomly picked a stranger to give them to. His RAK target just happened to be an adorable elderly woman.

    2. This man bought a soup canteen, filled it with homemade soup and gave it to a homeless man, along with a new jacket.

    3. This group spent the day buying strangers coffee, paying for parking passes, and offering up banana bread to anyone they bumped into.

    4. This man went old-school and paid for the meals of people behind him in the KFC drive-thru.

    5. This young woman took the time to write a card for someone she doesn’t know. “Thank you for being you,” it reads. “I know your existence changed somebody’s life.”

    6. This woman decided to walk into a random convenience store and cover one (very appreciative) woman’s bill.

    7. This woman got creative. She walked into a book store, flipped to a random page number of a book, and went about getting that many hugs from strangers. With each embrace comes more smiles.

    h/t Metro News

  • Can You Pass The Science Quiz That Too Many Americans Failed?
    Do Americans know their science? The results are in from a new National Science Foundation survey that assessed our knowledge of basic biology, chemistry, astronomy, geology, and physics — and they don’t look promising.

    The survey shows that an alarming number of Americans think astrology has a foundation in science (it doesn’t). And too many of us don’t know what determines a baby’s sex or the correct answer to the simple true-or-false question “The universe began with a huge explosion.”

    Yikes.

    Want to test your own science knowledge? All the questions from the survey are included in the quiz below.

  • First Map of Jupiter's Giant Moon Ganymede Unveiled (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

    The largest moon in the solar system has finally received its cartographic due.

    Scientists have created the first global geological map of Jupiter’s huge, ice-covered moon Ganymede, more than 400 years after its discovery by Galileo Galilei. The map, created using observations by NASA’s twin Voyager probes and Galileo orbiter, highlights the varied terrain of Ganymede, which is bigger than the planet Mercury.

    ganymede map
    To present the best information in a single view of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, a global image mosaic was assembled, incorporating the best available imagery from NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. This image shows Ganymede centered at 200 west longitude. This mosaic (right) served as the base map for the geologic map of Ganymede (left).

    “This map illustrates the incredible variety of geological features on Ganymede and helps to make order from the apparent chaos of its complex surface,” Robert Pappalardo, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. “This map is helping planetary scientists to decipher the evolution of this icy world and will aid in upcoming spacecraft observations.” [Watch the video animation of the 1st full map of Jupiter’s giant moon Ganymede]

    The new map, which was published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), could also help scientists plan out the search for alien life, researchers said.

    “After Mars, the interiors of icy satellites of Jupiter are considered the best candidates for habitable environments for life in our solar system,” USGS Astrogeology Science Center director Laszlo Kestay said in a statement. “This geologic map will be the basis for many decisions by NASA and partners regarding future U.S. missions under consideration to explore these worlds.”

    Observations of Jupiter’s largest moon made since its discovery in 1610 have revealed many features and facts about Ganymede over the centuries. They show that the 3,273-mile-wide (5,268 kilometers) moon possesses dark, heavily cratered terrain as well as lighter, younger regions marked by many grooves and ridges.

    ganymede
    A geologic map of Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede is superimposed over a global color mosaic of the Galilean moon made of images from NASA’s Voyager 1, 2 and Galileo spacecraft.

    The moon’s features have been shaped during three major geologic periods — one dominated by impact cratering, then another marked by lots of tectonic activity and finally a third in which this activity tapered off, scientists said.

    “The highly detailed, colorful map confirmed a number of outstanding scientific hypotheses regarding Ganymede’s geologic history, and also disproved others,” said Baerbel Lucchitta, scientist emeritus at the USGS in Flagstaff, Ariz. “For example, the more detailed Galileo images showed that cryovolcanism, or the creation of volcanoes that erupt water and ice, is very rare on Ganymede.”

    Voyager 1 and 2 flew by Ganymede in 1979 during their unprecedented solar system “grand tour,” then kept on going all the way toward interstellar space (which Voyager 1 entered in August 2012). The Galileo probe studied Ganymede and many other members of the Jovian system while orbiting Jupiter from 1995 through 2003.

    You can download a high-resolution copy of the new Ganymede geologic map for free at the USGS website here: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3237/

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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

  • The Most Epic Game Of 'Pokemon' Is Happening Right Now
    We all want to be the very best, like no one ever was, don’t we? Well, as we speak, thousands of players are simultaneously trying to catch ’em all in a single online game of “Pokémon.” And you can watch (or participate!) via streaming site Twitch.

    In a massive stream called “Twitch Plays Pokemon,” someone has adjusted a setting to allow any viewer to help control the character in a game of “Pokémon” Red or Blue (it’s unclear which early version of the game is being played).

    Instead of just watching the stream and commenting on the game, every person viewing the livestream can actually play the game by typing a controller command (up, left, A button, etc.) into the stream’s chat box. Sort of like virtually passing the controller back and forth between thousands of players.

    Pretty cool, huh?

    pokemon gif
    Gif via Wario64
    The image above shows the game unfolding on the left. On the right is the chat box, where you can see the different viewers (Gulgasaur, Dum dum dugan, etc.) and the commands they’re typing to progress the game.

    Ten of thousand viewers (and counting) are participating. Talk about teamwork! Someone was paying attention to all those heartwarming messages at the end of Pokémon episodes.

    Now, there are some limitations. Players can use only one command at a time (so no A+B+select+start restarts), and the chat box recognizes only the D-pad keys, A, B, Start and Select, according to Kotaku.

    As you can probably imagine, playing a single game of “Pokémon” controlled by more than 10,000 players is no easy feat, and even the simplest task (like walking in the right direction) requires a dizzying amount of luck and patience. But these resilient players seem to be doing okay, even as their numbers swell.

    Be strong, guys. Your courage will pull you through. We know it’s your destiny, and all that other stuff in the “Pokémon” theme song.

  • Academy's 2014 Scientific And Technical Awards Highlight Special Effects
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The scientists and inventors who make big-screen superheroes, spectacular explosions and other only-in-the-movies effects possible have their own Oscar ceremony.

    Kristen Bell and Michael B. Jordan hosted the film academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards Saturday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, recognizing more than 50 of the most creative scientists and engineers in the movie business. These are the men who developed the computer technology behind the bullet scene in “The Matrix” and the animation techniques in “Life of Pi.” They’re the visionaries who build the things the film industry needs that don’t yet exist, like advanced remote helicopter cameras and the Pneumatic Car Flipper (which does what it sounds like), for which they received certificates and plaques from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    One honoree, Joshua Pines, who helped develop image-processing mathematics to standardize color, called the evening “this year’s annual winter Olympics for geeks.”

    The two Oscar statuettes were presented among the night’s 21 awards: The Gordon E. Sawyer Award to Peter W. Anderson for his contributions to 3-D technology, and an Academy Award of Merit in honor of the countless owners and operators of film-processing labs over the past century. “The Dark Knight” writer-director Christopher Nolan accepted the film lab Oscar, which will be on permanent display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles when it opens in 2017.

    Nolan described film processors as alchemists who “(turn) silver and plastic into dreams — and not just any kind of dreams, but the kind of dreams you can unspool from a reel and hold in your hand, hold up to the light and see, frozen: magic.”

    He also contributed to the film-versus-digital debate that other honorees nudged at during the night.

    Film is “the technology that lies at the heart of filmmaking,” Nolan said, “and still represents the gold standard in imaging technology.”

    Still, the majority of Saturday’s awards honored research and inventions related to digital filmmaking.

    Eric Veach was recognized for his Stanford doctoral thesis that incorporates the physics of lighting into computer graphics. Dan Piponi, part of a team who created a system to simulate smoke and fire first used in films such as “Avatar” and “Puss In Boots,” joked about his unlikely road to Oscar recognition.

    “Nobody told me if I wanted to get an Academy Award, I should study mathematics,” he said. “But that’s what I did, and here I am.”

    Bell said she learned new scientific concepts and vocabulary as she prepared for the show, adding she was happy to help honor the artists deep behind the scenes.

    “A lot of the science and technology behind making movies seem realistic, all of those geniuses are here tonight,” she said, “and I’m excited to celebrate them.”

    The rest of this year’s Academy Awards will be presented March 2.

    ___

    AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.

    ___

    Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

    ___

    Online:

    www.oscars.org

  • NSA allies 'spied on US law firm'
    Australian secret services tapped a US law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute with the US, fresh leaks by Edward Snowden suggest.
  • My quest to fix a broken iPad
    How I fixed my smashed iPad screen
  • Miranda Barbour, Accused Craigslist Killer, Admits To Slaying 22 People As Part Of Satanic Cult: Report
    SUNBURY, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman charged along with her newlywed husband in the murder of a man they met through Craigslist admitted to the slaying in a jailhouse interview with a newspaper and said she has killed more than 20 others across the country, claims police said they are investigating.

    In an interview with the Daily Item in Sunbury, Pa., 19-year-old Miranda Barbour said she wants to plead guilty to killing Troy LeFerrara in November. She also said in the interview that she has killed at least 22 other people from Alaska to North Carolina in the last six years as part of her involvement in a satanic cult. “I feel it is time to get all of this out. I don’t care if people believe me. I just want to get it out,” Barbour told the newspaper for a story published Saturday night (http://bit.ly/1gN81z3).

    Sunbury police Chief Steve Mazzeo told the newspaper that investigators have been in contact with the FBI and law enforcement in several other states.

    “From information we gathered and from information gathered from her interview we are seriously concerned and have been in contact with the proper authorities,” Mazzeo said.

    Lawyers for the couple did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press left at their offices Saturday night. An FBI spokesman referred questions to its Philly office, but an email message wasn’t immediately returned.

    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Barbour and her husband, 22-year-old Elytte Barbour. Authorities said Miranda Barbour, a petite woman with long brown hair, told investigators she met the 6-foot-2, 278-pound victim after he responded to her Craigslist ad offering companionship for money.

    Police allege in court papers that Elytte Barbour told investigators they committed the crime because they wanted to kill someone together. The couple, who were married in North Carolina and moved to Pennsylvania about three weeks before the crime, told police Miranda Barbour stabbed LaFerrara in the front seat of her car while her husband held a cord around his neck.

    She said in the interview that she doesn’t want to get out of jail and that she would kill again if she were released.

    Miranda Barbour offered little detail on the murders she claimed to have participated in in Alaska, Texas, North Carolina and California. She claims she joined a satanic cult in Alaska when she was 13 before moving to North Carolina. Online records for the woman that the newspaper identified as Barbour’s mother show her as having lived in both Alaska and North Carolina.

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