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Mobile Technology News, February 25, 2014

As developers for tablets and smartphones we like to keep abreast of the latest mobile technology developments . This is a daily digest of mobile development and related technology news gathered from the BBC, the New York Times, New Scientist and the Globe and Mail to name a few. We scour the web for articles concerning, iPhone, iPad and android development, iOS and android operating systems as well as general articles on advances in mobile technology. We hope you find this useful and that it helps to keep you up to date with the latest technology developments.

  • Bitcoin exchange MtGox goes offline
    One of the world’s biggest Bitcoin Exchanges, MtGox, goes offline amid ongoing technical problems.
  • MyFitnessPal App Goes Universal

    If you follow me on Twitter then you know that I’m a big advocate for MyFitnessPal.  The app and service allows you to easily track your diet along with your weight and other measurements to help you live a healthy(ier) lifestyle.  Now if you really have been following me a while then you know that […]

    The post MyFitnessPal App Goes Universal appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • LinkedIn tests Chinese language site
    Professional networking service LinkedIn launches a beta – or test version – of its Chinese language site as it eyes further expansion in the country.
  • EXPOSED: The Man Behind The Goldman Sachs Elevator Tweets
    A three-year parlor game has been taking place on Wall Street to identify the Goldman Sachs employee behind a Twitter account that purports to reveal the uncensored comments overheard in the firm’s elevators.
  • Profits surge at 'China's Twitter'
    Profits at Sina Corp, owner of China’s largest Twitter-like site Weibo, surge in the fourth quarter, boosted by a jump in advertising revenue.
  • Microsoft's hardware chief changes roles before Elop return
    Julie Larson-Green to become leader of My Life & Work team, which is part of the company’s Applications and Services Group.
  • Samsung doubles down on health, S5 phone and Gear Fit will include heart rate sensors
    Just two days after announcing the new Galaxy Gear smartwatches will incorporate heart rate sensors, Samsung revealed their next revision of their flagship Galaxy S smartphone will prominently feature health tracking along with its brand-new companion fitness bracelet, the Gear Fit. The Gear Fit incorporates a heart rate sensor and a curved, touchscreen AMOLED display that would differentiate itself from nearly every other current fitness tracker on the market, such as Fitbit and Jawbone. While last year’s Galaxy S4 introduced […]
  • VIDEO: First look at Samsung's new Galaxy
    Samsung is to launch its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, in April this year.
  • VIDEO: Google Glass adds new dimension to art
    Why an artist has embraced Google Glass in his work
  • Hey you, get on to my cloud
    How remote recording tech is cutting costs
  • How to Get a Busy Person to Respond to Your Email
    5 Rules for Good Email Etiquette:

    Some days I get hundreds of emails a day. It really sucks.

    The worst part is that most of the emails are important and I physically can’t respond to all of them.

    They might be emails from students of One Month Rails who are frustrated – I want to help them out. Other times they’re from people who have read my posts and want to meet up. Or they’re just from friends.

    My personal policy is to read every single email I get. That means every day I have to set aside at least an hour to go through all my email and decide what urgently needs to be responded to and what doesn’t.

    In an effort to help people cut through the noise with their emails, and hopefully free up a little bit of my time, I wanted to share a few tips that I’ve found are helpful when writing to people who are inundated with email.

    1) Keep it short

    If you can keep an email to less than 2 or 3 sentences, it’s much easier to read it right then. If your email is longer than a paragraph or two, people will often put off reading it and it will probably take you longer to get a response.

    Here’s a really long email I got recently (you don’t have to read all of it, just skim it):

    Hi Mattan,

    My name is (redacted), I am recent graduate originally from California but am currently living in (redacted) and am looking for work. I have a Bachelors Degree in Accounting, but am not having much luck finding work in that field and to be honest with you I am struggling with the idea of being an accountant as a career. I sort of always had that thought in the back of my mind while in school but stuck with it because I think it is a skill set that is often overlooked by young entrepreneurs, which is more of what I see myself as.

    Today on the news here they ran a segment stating that multiple companies within the city of (redacted) are looking for coders. I have always been interested in the idea of coding but have very limited experience. The extent of my experience in coding comes from creating some macros in the visual basic editor in Microsoft Excel, which I found to be quite enjoyable.

    I checked out the website that was advertised and I think this may be something I want to pursue. I was wondering if you could offer me some advice on where to begin. Here is the website in case you want to check it out: (redacted)

    After looking through the minimum requirements I see that I am lacking the following:

    – development experience
    – familiar with an at least one imperative (C/C++, Java, Javascript, C#, Python, Ruby, etc.) or functional language (Haskell, Scala, F#, Clojure, etc)
    – Understand basic control structures and elements of programs like loops, variables, functions, and potentially objects and classes.

    First thing that I did after seeing the requirements was type in “how to code” on YouTube and that is how I came across you and your talk “How to Teach Yourself Code”. What I am wondering is if the advice from the video still applies today and if Rails is still the way to go or where you would start if you were in my situation. One extra thing to consider is that my PC is in California and at the moment all I have access to is my chromebook. Will this be sufficient to get started or will I need something with a traditional OS?

    Sorry for such a long introductory email, but I hope you get a chance to read this and respond.

    Thank-you for the video and talk, I will be diving into more of the details you discussed in the coming days.

    Hopefully some of that snow in NY is starting to melt!

    Whoa – this is way too much work to read. You could take all the info above and boil it down into three simple sentences:

    Hi Mattan,

    I just saw your “How to Teach Yourself to Code” talk from Internet Week but noticed it was recorded almost two years ago. Does your advice in the video still apply?

    If so, can I use a Chromebook or will I need something with a more traditional OS?

    That’s better. I know that a lot of the background info is missing, but people tend to think that they need to provide way more info than the reader actually needs.

    2) Format for readability and clarity

    It’s easier to read emails that are broken down into one or two sentences per paragraph than long paragraphs.

    Here’s an example of an unformatted email I got recently:

    Hi Mattan,

    I took your April skillshare omrails class. It was a great intro class. Currently I’m following your advise by doing the Hartl tutorial. I have a question if you can give me some suggestions. Is there an equivalent to Hartl’s Rails tutorial for iPhone app development? My personal goal is to create a Rails website for my wife’s jewelry business, then an iPhone app to go along with the website idea. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Do you see how it’s really hard to read? You can’t skim it and have to do a lot more work to figure out what he or she is actually saying. Here’s one that would have worked way better:

    Hi Mattan,

    Thanks for the One Month Rails class! I’m following your advice by doing the Michael Hartl Ruby on Rails Tutorial.

    Quick question: Do you know of any classes like the Hartl Tutorial but for iPhone apps?

    The second is way easier to read and figure out what exactly the person is asking you. Break your paragraphs down into shorter sentences, separate your call to action, and use bold/italics for emphasis and to draw the readers attention to the important parts.

    3) Make it clear what you want me to do

    Nothing drives people crazier than an email where someone sends over a lot of information but doesn’t say what they’d like you to do. I often respond to those immediately by asking: What do you want me to do?

    Do you want me introduce you to someone? Do you want me read your blog post and give you feedback? Do you want me to respond with whether I’ll be able to attend an event? Be clear and say it explicitly up front.

    Here’s a really unclear email I got recently:

    I just got done watching your presentation on computer programming I’m 14 and wanted to learn it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Couldyou please help me in any way possible I really want you to respond.

    The call to action here is just “help me,” but I really have no idea what that means and how to respond to it. Compare the email above to something more concrete:

    Hi Mattan,

    I’m 14 and want to learn about programming. What’s the #1 resource you’d recommend?

    If you must send a long email with a lot of information, put the call to action up at the top. Something like: “I’m sending this email to see if you can attend the event below. Just respond with a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”

    This also helps the reader decide if they should forward the email to someone else, which they do often if they’re used to delegating tasks.

    4) Be reasonable with your request

    It’s so easy these days to send off an email in 30 seconds that would take someone over an hour to respond to.

    Please don’t tell me to go to your startup’s website and give you feedback. To actually give your product or website a thorough review and analyze it in a way that is useful actually takes a lot of work.

    If I can respond to something in less than two minutes, I’ll do it immediately. What do you want feedback on? The business model? The color of your button? The text? Be specific and reasonable.

    Here’s an example of one of the bigger tasks people often ask me to do for them:

    Hi Mattan,

    (redacted) here. You don’t know me, but your post on getting accepted to YC fired me up just now.

    Having just submitted a late application to YC myself (as a single non-technical founder) I was curious if you might give me some feedback on my application. It hasn’t been rejected yet. And my company’s been featured in Popular Mechanics (attached), Fox Business (video link) and has 300+ paying customers…so I’d like to believe I have a shot. But getting a YC alum’s opinion would be really eye-opening.

    (Then they attached their 1,000+ word application)

    If you want someone’s feedback on something, be concrete and ask a specific question that can be answered in a few minutes.

    Please don’t expect the reader to do the work to figure out what you want them to do. I consider that lazy. Don’t ask “What do you think we could do to get more customers?”

    On the same note, don’t email someone asking to pick their brain about something.

    I was wondering if my cofounder and I could take you to dinner/lunch, we’d love to tell you what we’re working on and pick your brain.

    “Brain picking” meetings are extremely exhausting because they don’t have a concrete goal and you spend most of the time trying to figure it out. Usually they’re a sign that the person emailing isn’t really sure what they want, they just want to meet in person.

    Here’s my typical response to both of the emails above:

    Sorry —  I can’t meet up in-person – but I’m happy to help. So email me any question anytime. I’m not good with big general, “Here’s my entire situation – what do you think of it?” kinds of questions, but pretty good with specific questions.

    In order of priority and amount of work involved, here’s what I usually agree to:

    i) Giving short response – ”Thank you ☺” or “That means a lot”
    ii) Answering a specific question – if I can do it in less than 2 minutes
    iii) Getting on a quick Skype / Google hangout / phone call – usually 15 minutes or so
    iv) Grabbing a coffee in person – usually 45 minutes

    This means that if you ask to meet up for coffee but I think we could do it over Skype, I’ll push for that instead.

    5) Show me why I should take the time to help you

    Honestly, this sounds harsh but it’s important.

    In the past, I tried to meet up with everyone who emailed me.

    I agreed to coffees and lunches, listened to a lot of stories and gave a good deal of advice about what I thought they should be doing. Then I’d inevitably be frustrated when people didn’t listen to any of my advice. Or they’d argue with me about why I’m wrong.

    Sometimes they’d come back to me a month or two later and just ask me the same questions. It felt like Groundhog Day.

    These days I try to prioritize the people who I think I’m going to be able to help out the most.

    The best way to figure that out is to see whether you’ve done something awesome in the past, something that indicates that you’ll be doing awesome things in the future.

    I often check people’s LinkedIn profiles through Rapportive when they email me — I’ll see where they’re working, where they went to school, and what their deal is.

    For example, I’ve learned that people who are currently working in finance but thinking about “starting their own startup” are almost always a red flag. (No offense to finance itself, I studied finance.)

    Going to a good school is a plus. Working at a startup I’ve heard of is a plus. Being a consultant or running a small company is usually a minus.

    If you don’t have anything yet in terms of experience, then put together a good looking website (not a deck) that makes it look like you put some real thought into what you’re trying to do.

    These are just a few of my thoughts about good email etiquette. What kind of tricks do you use for getting people to respond? What do you hate about when people email you? Post them in the comments.

    Mattan Griffel is founder & CEO at One Month, creators of the #1 bestselling Ruby on Rails online training program One Month Rails for first-time web app developers. Learn more at mattangriffel.com.

  • Facebook quietly ends email service
    Facebook shutters its three-year-old email system that gave users “@facebook.com” email addresses, after acknowledging few used the service.
  • Guy Smashes Finger With Mallet To Demonstrate iPhone Case Material
    Step right up! Watch this guy bash his finger with a mallet! Because what else have you got going on?

    In order to show off his company’s Impact Brand iPhone 5S Case at the Mobile World Congress, Tech 21’s Faron Sagebiel wrapped his finger in the company’s DO3 impact material and started smashing.

    Tech 21 calls the material “an intelligent combination of enhanced chemistry, engineering and design which together creates an advanced polymer formula that offers soft, low profile, flexible protection.”

    While this may not be the safest way to demonstrate that your product works, no one can argue that it isn’t entertaining. Using just the DO3 material and a solid-looking mallet, Sagebiel gives his index finger seven solid thumps. It’s worth noting that the video doesn’t show the aftermath of the test, but odds are good it went well, as it didn’t include any cries of horrible, horrible pain.

    WARNING: Don’t try this at home.

  • Rulers Who Use the Social Media They Ban
    by Cyrus Rassool
    Program Associate, Internet Freedom

    Iran’s rulers have actively used social media for international diplomacy and even for messages aimed primarily at a domestic audience. The latter is surprising, given that the government officially blocks access to such online platforms for its citizens. Jack Dorsey, founder and chairman of Twitter, publicly called out President Hassan Rouhani for using the popular microblogging service despite the fact that it is banned inside Iran.

    @HassanRouhani Good evening, President. Are citizens of Iran able to read your tweets?

    — Jack Dorsey (@jack) October 1, 2013

    Evening, @Jack. As I told @camanpour, my efforts geared 2 ensure my ppl’ll comfortably b able 2 access all info globally as is their #right.

    — Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) October 1, 2013/>

    However, Iran isn’t the only country that has drawn criticism for such hypocrisy. Here are five other countries–rated Partly Free or Not Free in Freedom House’s 2013 Freedom on the Net report–whose leaders contradict their own policies and practices on restricting social media.

    Cuba—Not Free

    @yoanisanchez Tu enfoque de tolerancia reproduce los viejos mecanismos de poder. Para mejorar tus “servicios” necesitas estudiar

    — Mariela Castro Espin (@CastroEspinM) November 8, 2011

    Since coming to power in 2008, President Raúl Castro has continued his brother Fidel’s record of restricting freedom of expression. Social media applications, such as Twitter and Facebook, are largely inaccessible for everyday internet users in Cuba due to keyword filtering and blocking. However, Raul Castro, his daughter Mariela, and the government of Cuba have all made use of Twitter to promote the authorities’ interests. Mariela has even engaged in Twitter arguments with Cuban dissidents such as Yoani Sánchez, a well-known blogger and outspoken critic of the Castro regime.

    United Arab Emirates—Not Free

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the Emirates’ prime minister and vice president, is an active Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube user. The freedom to use social media, however, does not extend to all Emiratis. Under a 2012 cybercrime law that features vaguely defined offenses and harsh penalties, 29-year-old U.S. citizen Shezanne Cassim and a group of his friends were arrested last year and sent to a maximum-security prison for creating and posting a mockumentary video about wealthy Dubai teenagers trying to adopt gangster personas. Cassim and his friends were sentenced for endangering national security and defaming the country’s image abroad. Cassim eventually was allowed to return to the United States after serving nine months in prison and paying a fine of approximately $2,700.
    Azerbaijan—Partly Free

    The Armenian lobby is our main enemy and we are the main enemy for them.

    — Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) November 20, 2012

    President Ilham Aliyev has actively used Twitter to rant against neighboring Armenia. “Our main enemy is the Armenian lobby … Armenia as a country is of no value. It is actually a colony, an outpost run from abroad, a territory artificially created on ancient Azerbaijani lands,” Aliyev wrote in a series of tweets. Yet the Azerbaijani government, especially in the wake of the Arab Spring, has grown skeptical of its citizens’ use of social media. Officials instituted a campaign to dissuade Azerbaijanis from using such services by linking them to mental illness and treason. At the same time, the government has coerced students into “liking” government policies on Facebook, and has not so subtly urged them to cease support for antigovernment movements online.

    India—Partly Free

    Photo Credit: http://shunalishroff.com

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is an active Twitter user, but in India, the largest democracy in the world, speaking out on social media can lead to imprisonment. The country’s Information Technology Act, originally passed in 2000, was amended in 2008 to include Section 66A, which allows punitive measures to be taken against anyone who posts “offensive” messages on online communication services. At least a dozen people have been charged under the statute, including 21-year-old Shaheen Dhada, who used Facebook in 2012 to criticize a municipal shutdown marking the death of a controversial politician, and her friend Rinu Srinivasan, who was arrested simply for “liking” Shaheen’s status update. Charges against the two young women were eventually dropped following a public outcry.

    Turkey—Partly Free

    Photo Credit: http://www.aktifhaber.com/ilk-tableti-basbakan-verecek-556558h.htm

    Despite his active presence on Twitter, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been a driving force behind the parliament’s efforts to silence opposition voices on the internet. This past month, lawmakers passed a bill allowing Turkey’s telecommunication authority to block any website without a court order. According to Google’s 2013 transparency report, the Turkish government made the most takedown requests of any country, with over 1,673 requests for the removal of over 12,000 items. Erdoğan has expressed his displeasure with social media, calling Twitter a “menace” and blaming it and other online platforms for stoking antigovernment protests. The Turkish authorities not only censor the internet, but have also punished those who express themselves online. Last April, a court sentenced Fazıl Say, an outspoken atheist and world-renowned pianist, to a suspended 10-month jail term for insulting Islam on Twitter. And earlier this month, Mahir Zeynalov, an Azerbaijani correspondent and blogger for Today’s Zaman in Turkey, was deported for tweets that were deemed critical of the government.

    As internet penetration rates continue to grow around the world, so too do the misgivings of political leaders who would prefer to do all the talking and force citizens to do all the listening. Social media are important tools for democratization because they allow ordinary people and civil society to talk back. The international community cannot allow hypocritical bans on these platforms to continue. Business leaders in particular must take a stand on the issue. Facebook, Google, and other web-based services working in countries where free expression is under threat should follow Jack Dorsey’s lead in pressing governments to respect their citizens’ fundamental freedoms online.

    This piece originally appeared on Freedom House’s blog, Freedom at Issue. Read the original here.

  • New Law Would Force Companies Like Target To Report Hacks Quickly
    Following criticism that Target and other retailers have been slow to publicly report attacks, Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday pressed for a new federal law that forces companies to quickly disclose when they get hacked.

    Holder called on Congress to pass a nationwide standard that forces businesses that suffer cyber attacks to notify customers when their data falls into the hands of cyber criminals.

    “This would empower the American people to protect themselves if they are at risk of identity theft,” Holder said in his weekly address. “It would enable law enforcement to better investigate these crimes — and hold compromised entities accountable when they fail to keep sensitive information safe.”

    Target has come under fire after taking six days to admit publicly that hackers accessed more than 70 million customers’ personal information in December. Neiman Marcus waited nine days after learning that it also had been hacked in January.

    Consumer Watchdog, a consumer group, has claimed the retailers may have delayed reporting the breaches to not disrupt sales during the holiday shopping season.

    Both retailers denied such claims and said they waited because they were still investigating the breaches and closing security gaps.

    But the attacks were first revealed not by the companies themselves but by a cyber-security blogger, highlighting how businesses are often slow to acknowledge cyber attacks to customers — if they do so at all.

    Companies stay quiet about getting hacked for many reasons. They have stock prices and reputations to protect, and their lawyers advise them to remain silent in the face of potential lawsuits.

    Target said that sales dropped significantly after the company disclosed the breach, and its stock has recently traded at 52-week lows.

    Waiting to admit cyber attacks deprives customers of valuable time they could spend taking steps to protect themselves from fraud, experts say.

    “When you are a victim of a hack attack, time is of the essence in terms of how you react,” said Tom Kellermann, the managing director of cyber protection at Alvarez & Marsal, a professional services firm.

    “There have been many instances where corporations have waited months to report that a breach occurred, and during that time, identity theft cases have dramatically grown in number,” Kellermann said.

    While Target and Neiman Marcus initially waited days before going public, many companies take longer or never admit getting hacked. At least six other retailers have also been attacked with the same piece of malicious software used in the Target attack, but have not disclosed the breaches publicly, according to IntelCrawler, a cyber-security firm.

    Nearly every state has a law mandating that companies tell customers when their personal data has been compromised. But the laws give companies significant leeway, allowing them to take several weeks to investigate before disclosing a data breach. Laws in Wisconsin, Vermont and Florida give companies 45 days from when they first learn about a cyber attack to notify customers.

    In the wake of the Target breach, a group of Democratic senators last month re-introduced legislation that would create a nationwide standard for companies to quickly notify consumers if their personal data was stolen. But similar bills have failed to pass in the last two sessions of Congress.

    In addition, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said last year that guidelines issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission that called on publicly traded companies to disclose cyber attacks to investors have been “insufficient.”

    Companies are often not just slow to admit cyber attacks to customers and investors. They are also reticent to notify law enforcement, frustrating many federal prosecutors.

    “Corporations may wait days or even weeks and months, or never disclose the attacks at all, for fear of exposing proprietary information,” Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, wrote in a 2012 New York Times op-ed. “But doing so makes it much harder to identify the perpetrator and prevent future economic injury.”

    In an interview with The Huffington Post last August, Bharara said that silence from hacking victims “is still an issue.”

    “It’s not just a law enforcement problem; it’s a corporate culture problem also,” he said.

  • VIDEO: Hands-on with '$25 smartphone'
    Mozilla has unveiled a prototype model of what it hopes will become a $25 (£15) smartphone for the developing world.
  • Dad Builds His Kids The Coolest NASA-Themed Desk Of All Time
    We totally wish our desks looked like this.

    Feeling rather inspired after a visit to the Kennedy Space Center with his sons, Jeff Highsmith built his boys a desk reminiscent of a NASA mission control center, the dad wrote in a recent MAKE Magazine article.

    The results are not only incredibly cool, but they also reflect a serious amount of talent on Highsmith’s part:

    cool desk

    best desk

    However, Highsmith wants to make sure the boys have their priorities straight: He wrote that his sons aren’t allowed to open the desk –- which comes equipped with light-up buttons, rocket noises and an iPad that displays space-related images -– until they’ve finished their homework.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, this isn’t Highsmith’s first rodeo when it comes to creating cool gadgets for the enjoyment of his kids. In September, he created an in-house tooth transport for the tooth fairy.

    We can’t decide which project is cooler.

    Visit MAKE to read more about Highsmith’s NASA-themed desk.

  • Watch A Snowflake Come To Life In This Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Video
    Ever seen a snowflake up close? It’s absolutely stunning.

    But how did it get that way? A new time-lapse video provides the surprisingly complex answer to that question. Posted by prolific Vimeo poster Vyacheslav Ivanov, it shows a series of flakes unfolding into the beautiful six-sided ice crystals we’ve all come to recognize.

    Snowflakes owe their gorgeous geometry to the fact that water expands when it freezes. First, a water droplet freezes around a dust particle in the atmosphere. As more water molecules land on the crystal, arms project outward in six directions. The flake’s unique shape is determined by the ambient temperature and humidity.

    Got it? Now the next time you catch a snowflake on your tongue, you’ll know exactly what you’ve just destroyed.

    (h/t io9)

  • Samsung Galaxy S5: First impressions
    Reaction from the web to Samsung’s new smartphone
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