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Mobile Technology News, March 31, 2014

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

  • VIDEO: 'But professors have beards!'
    Research from a campaign group says breaking down cultural hurdles in the classroom is necessary to get more girls interested in science and technology
  • China demand boosts Huawei profits
    Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei says strong demand from China helped it to increase annual profits by 34%.
  • Office for iPad Apps Soar To The Top of The App Store

    Launched only 4 days ago by Microsoft, the Office for iPad suite of apps are dominating the Top Grossing and Top Free apps charts in the iTunes App Store in the Productivity category.  This should not come as a surprise to many readers as these apps may very well have been some of the most longed […]

    The post Office for iPad Apps Soar To The Top of The App Store appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Albuquerque Protesters Backed By Anonymous Decry Deadly Police Shootings
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Hundreds of protesters marched past riot police in Albuquerque on Sunday, blocking traffic, trying to get on freeways and shouting anti-police slogans days after a YouTube video emerged threatening retaliation for a recent deadly police shooting.

    The video, which bore the logo of the computer hacking collective Anonymous, warned of a cyberattack on city websites and called for the protest march. Albuquerque police said their site had been breached early Sunday afternoon, but it was visible late in the afternoon after being offline for hours. The department didn’t return multiple phone messages left Sunday evening. Earlier, police spokesman Simon Drobik confirmed the disruption was due to a cyberattack and said investigators had not uncovered the source of the hack.

    Meanwhile, the protesters repeatedly marched the 2 miles from downtown Albuquerque to the University of New Mexico, holding signs protesting recent police shootings and often snarling traffic. Motorists honked, and supporters took photos with smartphones. Activists called on various city officials to resign.

    Albuquerque police in riot gear and New Mexico State Police followed the marchers, but they had not made any arrests by early evening. Protesters were seen shouting epithets at officers, who announced over a loudspeaker that the protest was an unlawful assembly.

    The protest comes as Albuquerque police have been involved in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal since 2010. Critics say that’s far too many for a department serving a city of about 555,000.

    Justin Elder, 24, followed the protest as a passenger in a car and held a sign that read, “APD: Dressed To Kill.”

    “That’s what this police force is about,” Elder said.

    As the crowds arrived back at the university late Sunday, one protester climbed a tall street sign on the city’s historic Route 66 and unsuccessfully attempted to bring it down.

    Erin Thompson, spokeswoman for the mayor, said, “Mayor (Richard) Berry is actively tracking the situation in consultation with Chief (Gorden) Eden and command staff and has been all afternoon and throughout the evening.” The mayor was holding a press conference later Sunday.

    Another protester, Alexander Siderits, 23, said he was participating because he was “fed up” with how police treat citizens. “It has reached a boiling point,” he said, “and people just can’t take it anymore.”

    The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating the department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.

    Last week, Albuquerque police fatally shot a man at a public housing complex. Authorities said he shot at officers before they returned fire.

    In the shooting on March 16 that led to the YouTube posting Tuesday, a homeless man was killed in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque. The shooting was captured on video and followed a long standoff.

    Anonymous, a loosely organized worldwide hacking group, has been blamed for breaking into confidential information and defacing websites.

    The FBI has opened an investigation into the shooting.

  • In The Not So Distant Future, Bioluminescent Trees Could Replace Street Lights
    According to Daan Roosegaarde, the future of art and design is awash with spectacular innovation.

    From giant vacuum cleaning systems aimed at eradicating smog to “smart” apparel that becomes translucent when the wearer is turned on, the Dutch artist/designer/architect has helped imagine some hair-raising projects that could propel us into a new era of aesthetics.

    His newest endeavor — a plan to replace light fixtures with bioluminescent plants — is no letdown in comparison.

    Roosegaarde is hoping to employ biomimicry to transform your average street-side trees into beacons of light for passersby. Like the luminescent abilities of jellyfish, mushrooms or fireflies, Roosegaarde, scientist Alexander Krichevsky and the State University of New York are all on the case, splicing DNA from luminescent marine bacteria with the chloroplast of a houseplant.

    The smaller-scale, glow-in-the-dark specimens would act as the basis for a project of greater proportions — light-emitting installations that look like trees. “What happens when technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of the things that we wear and the roads that we drive on?” Roosegaarde muses in the video above.

    Watch the short clip to hear the artist speak more about his ambitious plans and the reason he’s ventured to the United States to pursue his quest. Let us know your thoughts on the merging of nature and technology in the comments.

    h/t Dezeen

  • This Eerie Japanese 'Future Restaurant' Has No Employees
    Sure, waiters can be distracting. But imagine going to a restaurant and having no need to interact with a single human.

    Welcome to the future, as sketched out in a new video by a Tokyo-based tech company. In it, a customer manages to study a menu, order several items, and settle her bill, all without interference from a flesh-and-blood employee:

    “未来レストラン”へようこそ 〜 3/27 未来をカタチにする、スマートデバイス体験イベント from Recruit Tech. ATL on Vimeo.

    According to the Recruit Tech website, the technologies on display in the video are all ones that already exist, albeit in early forms: Apple’s new, Minority Report-esque indoor tracking device, iBeacon; the XBox application SmartGlass; Kinect; and the many applications developing within the growing field of augmented reality.

    It may be jarring to watch the whole solitary experience unfold, but the vision shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Last fall, a survey by the American trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News made zero waves when it concluded that casual eateries will “continue to push service duties away from people and onto technological platforms such as kiosks, tabletop devices and tablet computers.” Another NRN survey predicted that drive-thru lanes will be staffed by multilingual “Siri-like software” by 2020.

    Of course, anyone who’s been to one of Japan’s “mercilessly efficient” automated sushi joints — where a sushi plate can go for as low as $1 due to reduced costs — might tell you it’s all worth it.

  • Portraits Of The World's Great Quantum Mechanics Institutions… Their Blackboards, That Is
    For three years photographer Alejandro Guijarro traveled from one quantum mechanics institute to another, exploring the scientific havens that serve as home to some of the world’s greatest thinkers. In search of images that would provide a glimpse into the mysterious realm of physics, Guijarro captured portraits of the blackboards proudly displayed in lecture rooms across the globe. The resulting snapshots, titled “Momentum,” appear like windows into the minds of modern day geniuses, towing the line between artifacts of human progress and abstract works of art.


    Guijarro’s adventures have taken him to Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, UC Berkeley, Stanford and SLAC (The National Accelerator Laboratory) in America, CERN in Switzerland and the Instituto de Física Corpuscular in Spain. Each visit was a new experience, as he sought to photograph the blackboards without interference, freeing the swirl of numbers and symbols from their frames, and exhibiting the images that remain with very little explanation.

    “At this stage they are documents,” Guijarro explained to The Huffingtno Post. “Once removed from their institutional beginnings the meaning evolves. The viewer begins to appreciate the equations for their line and form. Color comes into play and the waves created by the blackboard eraser suggest a vast landscape or galactic setting.”

    He draws parallels to Jean-Michel Basquait’s “formulaic language” and Cy Twombly’s later canvases, noting that his particular masterpieces were created by scientists unaware of their artistic merit. What began as precise messages — equations meant to illuminate the very real possibilities of the natural world — end up, in the hands of Guijarro, as objects of contemporary photography. The lines and shapes hold secrets known only to the few who speak the language of quantum mechanics, but simultaneously appeal to the aesthetic-hungry viewers who appreciate the excitement of an objet d’art.

    “These are not works that pretend to hold any kind of objective truth. Stripped of their wrapping they are photographs of large drawings! Yet the process of finding, documenting and collecting them has a transmutational effect,” Guijarro added. “‘Momentum’ can be seen as an attempt to bridge the gap between science and art.”

  • New Animation Site Lightheartedly Celebrates Cesar Chavez
    John Grimes, a San Francisco-based cartoonist, animator, illustrator and moviemaker has recently launched the site Fizzdom.com which he describes as a place for “amusing and provocative quotes, cartoons, videos and backstories.”

    Five days a week, Grimes posts a custom-made animated GIF that takes a somewhat irreverent and lighthearted look at an issue or historical figure. But it’s not all fun and games. These posts also have other content, often including embedded video that explains the context of his animated cartoon

    One recent example if this animation of a quote from Stephen Colbert. “Why don’t we go to war on women?” Colbert asks and then answers, “They don’t have any oil.”


    Just in time for what would have been Chavez’s 87th birthday (he died in 1993), Grimes has created a cartoon that shows the union leader handing a strawberry to characters from Mad Men and then getting a sideways glance from Donton Abbey’s Lady Grantham — a woman who thought that the help should remain invisible. But Chavez made farm workers very visible as he fought to get the growers to recognize their the Unied Farm Workers Union.


    Check out the animations and his site and scroll down to listen to my 5 and 3/4 minute interview with Grimes.

  • Alibaba invests in Chinese mall firm
    Chinese internet giant Alibaba invests $692m in Intime, a Chinese mall operator, as the firm continues its investment spree ahead of its public stock offering.
  • Consumers Save $2.5 Billion A Year If A 'Kill Switch' Stops Phone Thefts, Study Finds
    Consumers could save an estimated $2.5 billion each year if proposed “kill switch” technology significantly reduced smartphone thefts nationwide, according to a new study.

    The analysis by William Duckworth, a statistics professor at Creighton University, estimates that consumers spend about $500 million each year replacing stolen phones and around $2 billion each year buying premium cell phone insurance through wireless carriers.

    Introducing a kill switch feature that allowed victims to disable their stolen devices could virtually eliminate phone thefts because criminals would no longer have an incentive to steal them, law enforcement officials say.

    If phone thefts were no longer a concern, more than half of smartphone owners say they would buy less expensive phone insurance coverage from third parties like Apple or SquareTrade that doesn’t cover theft or loss, according to a small survey of 1,200 smartphone owners Duckworth conducted along with his analysis.

    “If theft becomes a non-issue then only the most paranoid person would pay the extra money for premium insurance to cover theft,” Duckworth said in an interview.

    His survey also found that 99 percent of respondents were in favor of having a kill switch feature on their phones.

    Duckworth’s analysis comes as the smartphone industry faces increased pressure to reduce the rising number of thefts. About 1.6 million phones were stolen in the United States in 2012, according to Consumer Reports.

    Legislation requiring that every phone sold in the United States feature a kill switch has been introduced in both houses of Congress, but no votes have yet taken place.

    San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have also pressed manufacturers to introduce stricter anti-theft technology. Phone robberies have become increasingly violent, with several murders taking place across the country.

    “In addition to saving lives, the common sense theft deterrent features we have been advocating for will also help save consumers money,” Gascon and Schneiderman said in a joint statement about Duckworth’s study.

    “Manufacturers and carriers need to put public safety before corporate profits and stop this violent epidemic, which has put millions of smartphone users at risk,” they said.

    The CTIA, the wireless industry trade group, did not respond to a request for comment about the study. The group has opposed a kill switch in the past, arguing that a hacker could exploit the feature to shut down the phones of consumers or law enforcement officials.

    Gascon, however, has argued that the industry has opposed a kill switch because reducing phone thefts could hurt their profits from selling phone insurance. The top four carriers earned an estimated $7.8 billion last year in insurance premiums from their customers, according to Warranty Week, an industry trade publication.

    The major wireless carriers offer cell phone insurance through a third-party provider called Asurion, which pays them for each policy they sell.

    In an emailed statement, Asurion spokesperson Bettie Colombo said company data shows Duckworth’s analysis, which partly relies on statistics from Consumer Reports, underestimates the number of phones stolen each year. [Duckworth says he did not have access to insurance company data.]

    Colombo also said about 60 percent of insurance claims are due to lost phones, which can’t be prevented by a kill switch “and still results in tremendous cost for the consumer without appropriate coverage.”

    “Asurion has no objection to properly implemented kill switch technology,” Colombo said, but added, “there is no solution that will totally eliminate the theft of smartphones as there are other values in the black-market for the phones, such as parts.”

    Phone insurance plans typically cost between $7 and $11 per month, and require consumers to pay deductibles as high as $200 for a replacement phone — which is often refurbished, not new. Asurion also doesn’t guarantee customers will receive the same model as the one they lost.

    Last year, Apple responded to the growing pressure from law enforcement by announcing a new security feature that the company said would allow consumers to render their devices useless once stolen. Apple’s new Activation Lock was introduced in September.

    Law enforcement officials say it is too soon to determine whether the feature is effective at reducing iPhone thefts. Other smartphone manufacturers have yet to introduce new anti-theft measures.

    Meanwhile, thefts of smartphones and other mobile devices increased in several major cities again in 2013, including New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

  • Berlin: The next Silicon Valley?
    A cartoon character impersonation app and other German start-ups
  • VIDEO: Could Berlin be the next Silicon Valley?
    Berlin was at one stage famed for its innovation, with electric trams and lifts both originating in the German capital. A hundred years on, a new wave of hi-tech start-ups are helping it to regain its reputation as a hub for new ideas.
  • Bid to cut off illegal websites' cash
    An initiative that hopes to cut off advertising revenues from websites offering illegal copyrighted material has been launched.
  • House Panel: General Motors Documents Related To Recalls 'Paint An Unsettling Picture'
    (Corrects attribution, paragraph 3)
    WASHINGTON, March 30 (Reuters) – Thousands of documents from General Motors and a federal agency on the automaker’s faulty ignition switches provide an “unsettling picture,” according to a U.S. congressional committee that received the information.
    The House Energy and Commerce Committee said GM had submitted more than 200,000 documents on the ignition switches that have led to the recall of 2.6 million autos and are linked to 12 deaths. The panel said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration submitted about 6,000 documents.
    The documents, said Republican Representative Tim Murphy, chairman of the panel’s Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, “paint an unsettling picture.”
    On Tuesday, the committee will hold its first public hearing on the recalls. (Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Jim Loney)
  • How Mark Zuckerberg's Control Of Facebook Lets Him Print Money
    When Mark Zuckerberg pays astronomical prices for unprofitable start-ups like Oculus ($2 billion) and WhatsApp ($19 billion), the Facebook CEO and founder is paying with a special currency, all his own: Facebook stock.
  • Experts Told This Artist Her Dream Was Impossible. It's A Good Thing She Didn't Listen.
    British artist Sue Austin continues to push forward in ways even top experts never thought possible.

    Austin, who has been using a wheelchair for nearly two decades due to an extended illness, uses an innovative underwater wheelchair to create stunning visual art. She also hopes to challenge us to rethink the way we see people with disabilities.

    With photos, videos and performance art pieces involving her unique underwater wheelchair named “Portal,” Austin strives to redefine the way we relate to people in wheelchairs. Austin works to fight back against negative stigma, including such terms as “limited,” “held back” and “immobilized,” she said at a TED conference in 2012. She implores people to instead demonstrate the ways in which we can find the value and joy in being different.

    Austin first got involved with diving in 2005, according to the Guardian. She said the sport granted her freedom and renewed access to the rest of the world.

    But she faced some backlash when she proposed the idea of diving in a wheelchair.

    “When we started talking to people about it, engineers were saying it wouldn’t work, the wheelchair would go into a spin, it was not designed to go through water — but I was sure it would,” Austin told the BBC in 2012. With the help of dive experts, engineers, academics, and funding from places like England’s Arts Council, Austin’s vision was realized.

    Her work was brought to a larger audience when she was chosen as one of the featured artists at the Unlimited Festival, a part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad in London. The cultural program accompanied the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

    Since then, Austin and her nonprofit organization Freewheeling, an integrated arts program, have been gaining more attention, which has been one her main goals.

    “People’s reaction completely changed towards me. It was as if they couldn’t see me anymore, as if an invisibility cloak had descended, she said during herTED talk about how people responded when she started using a wheelchair. “As a result, I knew I needed to make my own stories about this experience, new narratives to reclaim my identity.”

    For more information on Sue Austin’s work, check out the Freewheeling Facebook page and Twitter, as well as some of the stunning videos on her Youtube channel.

Mobile Technology News, March 30, 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.

  • Health Care Law Changes Are Challenging The Obamacare Legacy
    WASHINGTON (AP) — As a roller-coaster sign-up season winds down, President Barack Obama’s health care law has indeed managed to change the country.

    Americans are unlikely to go back to a time when people with medical problems could be denied coverage. But Obama’s overhaul needs major work of its own if it is to go down in history as a legacy achievement like Medicare or Social Security.

    Major elements of the Affordable Care Act face an uncertain future:

    —As a 6-month-long sign-up season comes to an end Monday the administration’s next big challenge is to make 2015 open enrollment more manageable for consumers unaccustomed to dealing with insurance jargon. There’s also concern premiums will rise next year.

    —The new insurance markets created by the law are anything but customer friendly. After the HealthCare.gov website finally got fixed, more than 6 million people have managed to sign up, allowing the exchanges to stay afloat economically. But many consumers have bought policies with restricted access to top-tier hospitals and the latest medications. The website is seeing heavy traffic this weekend, and consumers may encounter a wait or last-minute glitches.

    —Nearly half the states are still opposed to or undecided about the law’s expansion of Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for the poor. As a result, millions of low-income people who otherwise would have been covered remain uninsured.

    —This year’s pitch has been about the “carrots” in the law: subsidies and guaranteed coverage. But the “sticks” are just over the horizon: collecting penalties from individuals who remain uninsured and enforcing requirements that medium- to large-sized employers provide affordable coverage.

    Many basic facts about the ultimate effects of the health insurance program remain unclear. It’s not known how many of those who have gotten coverage were previously uninsured — the ultimate test of the law. Independent measurements by Gallup do show fewer uninsured Americans, but such progress hasn’t won hearts and minds. The public remains deeply divided, with opponents of the law outnumbering supporters.

    At a recent insurance industry conference, a top administration official acknowledged the huge job still ahead.

    “The No. 1 thing that probably we’ve all learned from 2014 is that this is hard work,” said Gary Cohen, outgoing director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, the agency created to carry out the health care law. “It’s not a one-year project; it’s a multiyear project … we’re asking a lot, frankly, of consumers,” he added. “This is new for them.”

    Among those consumers is Dan Luke of St. Paul, Minn., the owner of a small video production company who had been uninsured since he was turned down for coverage last year due to a pre-existing condition. The condition? Luke was born with one eye due to a birth defect, and he uses a glass eye.

    “For 63 years I’ve had one eye,” said Luke. “They had to dig deep to find that.”

    He’s happy with the coverage he and his wife have bought; they’re saving $300 a month on premiums compared with the last time they had insurance. But he said he had to endure weeks of website run-arounds.

    “There is a lot of bureaucracy involved,” said Luke. “It’s sort of like taxes, filled with loopholes and pitfalls. They should make it easier for people to get insurance and pay for insurance, rather than have to prove so many things and jump through so many hoops.”

    Those comments echo sentiments broadly reflected in national opinion polls. Most Americans want lawmakers to fix the problems with the health care law, rather than scrapping it. A new AP-Gfk poll finds that only 13 percent expect the law will be completely repealed. Seventy-two percent say it will be implemented with changes, whether major or minor.

    Republicans have again made repeal of “Obamacare” their official battle cry this election season. But even if the GOP wins control of the Senate and Congress were to repeal the law next year, the president would veto it. Opponents would then need a difficult two-thirds majority in both chambers to override Obama’s veto.

    “It’s going to depend on the next couple of elections whether we stick with the current ACA models,” said Brookings Institution health policy expert Mark McClellan, who oversaw the rollout of the last major federal coverage expansion, the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

    “We are still a long way from a stable market and from completing implementation,” he said. But “we’re not going back to people with pre-existing conditions having no good options.”

    The administration will have to get to work quickly on a plan for next year. It is still struggling with such basics as providing consumers with clear information about the process and their options.

    Until now, those signing up have skewed toward an older crowd. That could lead to higher premiums next year, making the program a harder sell for younger people.

    Some Democratic lawmakers who voted for the law are frustrated.

    “Instead of just circling the wagons against all the political arrows that are shot against this plan, we need a little more accountability, and we need to ensure the next enrollment period is not handled as poorly as the last one,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas.

    DeAnn Friedholm, health reform team leader for Consumers Union, said her group still supports Obama’s overhaul, but with concerns.

    “The jury is out in terms of its long-term success,” she said. “We still think it’s better than the old way, which left a lot of people out because they were sick.”

  • GCHQ And NSA Targeted Private German Companies
    The headquarters of Stellar, a company based in the town of Hürth near Cologne, are visible from a distance. Seventy-five white antennas dominate the landscape. The biggest are 16 meters (52 feet) tall and kept in place by steel anchors. It is an impressive sight and serves as a popular backdrop for scenes in TV shows, including the German action series “Cobra 11.”
  • Judge bars sale of Ryan Seacrest's BlackBerry-esque Typo keyboard
    In a victory for Canadian cellphone manufacturer BlackBerry, US District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco ruled that the Ryan Seacrest-backed Typo Products iPhone keyboard case has been barred from sale. Judge Orrick ruled that BlackBerry is “likely to prevail” over the imitator in issuing his ruling blocking the Typo keyboard.


  • Teen's Science Fair Font Project Could Save Government Millions
    What began as a middle-school student’s science fair project could save the federal government millions of dollars — and all it would require is a switch to a different font.

    Fourteen-year-old Suvir Mirchandani has adapted his sixth-grader science fair project from Dorseyville Middle School in Pittsburgh — a study of the cost savings incurred by switching the font in his school’s paper handouts — to show exactly how much money the bigwigs in Washington, D.C., could save if they followed suit.

    Spoiler alert: It’s a lot.

    His project showed that switching the school’s paper font from Times New Roman to Garamond would save his school about $21,000 a year in ink costs. Spurred on by a teacher, Mirchandani submitted his research to the Journal of Emerging Investigators, which publishes the work of high school and middle-school students, CNN reported.

    The journal’s editors encouraged Suvir to see if the font switch would result in similar savings for the U.S. government, which according to the Office of Management and Budget has an estimated $1.8 billion printing budget for 2014.

    “We were so impressed,” Dr. Sarah Fankhauser, the journal’s founder, told Forbes. “We really could see the real-word application in Suvir’s paper.”

    Suvir tested his font theory with five documents from the Government Printing Office (GPO) and concluded that switching the government documents’ fonts from Times New Roman and Century Gothic (used on all government documents) exclusively to the more space-efficient Garamond would greatly cut costs in ink expenditure for both state and federal governments. The font point size remained the same in the study. He predicts the federal government would save roughly $136 million a year, and state agencies could collectively save up to $234 million annually.

    suvir mirchandani font project

    The GPO in recent years has reduced its reliance on printed documents and is working to continue the switch to digital, Suvir told CNN he’s confident his proposal is still relevant.

    “They can’t convert everything to a digital format,” he said. “Not everyone is able to access information online. Some things still have to be printed.”

  • After Sandy, Feds Consider Building Fake Islands Off The Coast

    SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — A string of artificial islands off the coast of New Jersey and New York could blunt the impact of storm surges that proved so deadly during Superstorm Sandy, according to a proposal vying for attention and funding as the region continues its recovery.

    It’s a big proposal that would cost $10 billion to $12 billion. But it’s also the kind of innovative idea that federal officials requested as they consider how best to protect the heavily populated region from future storms.

    “We’ve discussed this with the governor’s office of Recovery and Resiliency and the Department of Environmental Protection, and they all look at me like, ‘Whoa! This is a big deal!” said Alan Blumberg, a professor at New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology. “Yes, it is a big deal. It can save lives and protect property.”

    The “Blue Dunes” proposal is part of Rebuild By Design, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to come up with novel ways to protect against the next big storm. It is one of 10 projects that will be evaluated and voted on next week, but there’s no guarantee any of them will receive funding. Other ideas include building sea walls around cities, re-establishing oyster colonies in tidal flats to blunt wave action and creating water-absorbent nature and recreational preserves.

    The artificial islands plan was created by Stevens Institute, along with the WXY architectural firm and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. It is designed to blunt the worst effect of Sandy: the storm surge that pounded the coast. From Maryland to New Hampshire, the storm was blamed for 159 deaths, and New Jersey and New York alone claimed a total of nearly $79 billion in damage.

    “How do you protect New Jersey and New York at the same time from the storm of the future?” Blumberg asked. “Our idea is to build a chain of islands, like a long slender banana. The wave action and storm surge will reflect off these islands and go back out to sea rather than hitting the coast. Barnegat Bay would not be pounded, nor would lower Manhattan or Hoboken.”

    The islands 10 to 12 miles off the coast would be uninhabited, though day trips for surfing or fishing might be allowed, Blumberg said. They would be built by pumping sand atop some hard base made of rock, concrete or other material, he said.

    Steve Sandberg, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said funding for at least some of the proposals is already available as part of the $60 billion in Sandy aid that Congress passed last year. Other money could come from disaster recovery grants as well as public and private-sector funding, according to the Rebuild by Design website.

    A gap would be left between the New York and New Jersey island groups, mainly to allow water from the Hudson River to flow out into the ocean.

    Blumberg also said computer modeling has shown such islands would have produced vastly lesser damage during Sandy, Hurricane Donna in 1962 and the destructive December 1992 nor’easter.

    Aside from the formidable cost, many other obstacles remain. Stewart Farrell, head of Stockton College’s Coastal Research Center, said numerous government agencies would have to cooperate.

    “The sand borrow sites always run into strong objections from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: ‘Something MIGHT live there,'” he said. “Next in line would be the historical preservationists: You can’t cover up Captain Kidd’s treasure ships, no way! And every 19th-century coal barge is an historical treasure. Then there are abundant submarine cables, lines, pipes and rights of way.”

    Surfers aren’t stoked by the idea.

    “This would forever change the Jersey shore,” said John Weber of the Surfrider Foundation. “Bayfronts are very different from oceanfronts, and this would change oceanfronts into bayfronts. People that spent all that money to live on the ocean would be facing something very different. And this does nothing to address rising sea levels; we’ll still have homes that will still get flooded due to rising sea levels.”

    George Kasimos founded the Stop Fema Now grassroots campaign against higher flood insurance rates after his Toms River home was flooded during Sandy. He welcomed the attention on coastal prevention but said the money would be better spent on building or strengthening dunes along the existing shoreline.

    “Anything to help protect our coast,” he said. “All we need to do is build a proper dunes system, sea gates and sea walls. It seems like $10 billion to build something 12 miles out is overkill. Typical government overkill.”

    Blumberg acknowledged the obstacles but added that Sandy showed the need for new approaches to protection.

    “This is innovative thinking,” he said. “It’s 2014; it’s time to think differently.”


    Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

    Part of a periodic series about the New Jersey shore’s efforts to rebuild and return to normalcy the second summer after Superstorm Sandy ravaged many coastal communities.

  • This Chain Reaction Of 150 Mousetraps Is A Lesson In Pain (VIDEO)
    Every good experiment starts with a question and a hypohethesis. That’s the scientific method! So here’s to The Slow Mo Guys for posing this important question:

    Question: On a scale of “ow” to “OWWWWWW,” just how painful would it be for a human arm to come into contact with a chain reaction of 150 mousetraps?

    Hypothesis: It would be pretty painful.


    Just check out the video above (top) to see the whole procedure in super slow-motion.

    And if you’d like to know more about the physics of mousetraps, see Drexel University’s helpful mousetrap page.

  • 10 Things Most Exceptional CIOs Never Do

    The list below is from over two decades of observations in first, second and third person. Before publishing I asked over 50 Fortune 1000 CIOs and CTOs to review and comment; their feedback is included.

    At the core of everything below is going against the grain and the herd, and embracing counter intuition. Whether you embrace counter intuition systematically, or selectively, most of the items below are suggesting in their cognitive DNA counter-intuitive thinking.

    1. They do not try to define innovation – It’s difficult to define innovation, and if you do define innovation it means that you will set up a single process to do or capture it the way you define it. Wrong — most exceptional technology leaders learn that innovation comes in many flavors, inside-out, outside-in, evolutionary and revolutionary. If you define it you have one process, if you do not, you learn there are many processes needed to do or capture the many types of innovation.
    2. They never have secret projects – The knee-jerk reaction is to have little secret projects, or “black ops” type projects. Exceptional technology leaders will tell you that you need to do innovative projects in the open, allow folks to see, smell and marvel in its artistry. What you want is for everyone to copy the behavior of the few innovating. If you lock them in a secret room, no one knows, and no innovative behavior gets copied.
    3. They are never surprised by failure – Certain percentage of technology projects fail, it is the nature of the beast. Exceptional technology leaders set these expectations for failure with their operating committees, and investment governance stewards early in the process. When failure happens, it is never a surprise; it is usually “well that one falls in our failure bucket we prepared for“.
    4. They never start projects themselves – Folks that want/try to build a prototype usually struggle to wow business stakeholders. This is because you have to get the business stakeholders involved before you can build anything. Some leaders I know do not even draw a project in PowerPoint before engaging the customer. Every project is started by the customer, whether on the customer’s own conscious accord, or the customer unconsciously prompted (but technology leadership) to do so.
    5. They resist the need for PMO – Certain processes in large organizations do not thrive with the presence of the project police, while others do. Most exceptional leaders I consulted agreed that a PMO in the wrong place at the wrong time can be catastrophic. Some processes need low rigor, some mild, and only some the high rigor that comes with a PMO presence.
    6. They do not break projects into phases – Large phases (one, two and three) are logical “kill points” for projects. Most projects get killed after phase one, and very frequently this is because phase one is a minimally viable product that does the least that can be done, but does it well. Two things happen, the business stakeholders see no reason to fund phase two and/or three (I mean they already saw something that kind of works), and the technology leader never gets to build phase two which would deliver efficiency; and phase three, which would create business value. So large phases leave you always delivering phase one only which unfortunately only kinda works. Have 24 phases, not three.
    7. They never worry about a target state – We can barely predict what our families will do in a year, yet we try to predict what companies of thousands of employees should be like three to five years out with a target state. Worst once there is a targets state, the “target state police” start invalidate changes to the market place and new innovations by activating the “well it does not fit into the target state” card essentially locking the company away from the world for three to five years at a time. Exceptional technology leaders create a governance culture to enable an evolving model, not a target state.
    8. They do not try to build hero products – Very rarely can you build a single product that solves all of your customers ailments in a vacuum. You cannot build standalone solutions; you have to build a product that works with others. The days of platforms with stocks of information are over; exceptional technology leaders build ecosystems with flows of information. Most folks suggested that they build as little as possible, instead they orchestrate like a maestro of other products instead of a builder of a hero product.
    9. They never wait on innovation – Exceptional technology leaders do not wait to see what happens to new innovations, they disdain being a fast follower, they are habitually enterprise early adopters. They buy innovation commercially (and many times invest in the startups) early in the innovation cycle and way left of the theory of diffusion of innovation bell curve. Waiting to see what happens to an innovation means paying more for it, and being late to the party.
    10. They do not read leadership books – There are almost a million books on leadership available for purchase on Amazon.com. All noise, an echo chamber if I may. Exceptional leaders systematically and pragmatically go against the status quo. They thrive in counter intuition. As technology commoditizes, the herd gets larger and larger, go in the opposite direction.

    Do you have others to add?

    What are some of the traits you see in exceptional technology leaders?

  • Candy Crush Brings Inflated IPO Market Back To Earth
    By Nicola Leske
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – In the weeks leading up to the IPO of King Digital Entertainment, the company’s bankers scrambled to persuade investors that the maker of popular online game “Candy Crush Saga” was more than a one-trick pony, according to a source familiar with the situation.
    As the debut approached this week, the bankers’ job only got harder. On Tuesday, Facebook Inc said it would pay $2 billion for Oculus VR, a two-year-old virtual reality startup that has yet to put a product on the market. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the deal as the social media giant’s desire to bet on “the platforms of tomorrow.”
    But for some investors, the deal brought back memories of the Internet boom and bust in 1998-2001, where profitability and other financial fundamentals of companies took the back seat to a raging fad about anything with a dotcom identity, according to the source.
    Bankers underwriting King Digital’s offering had to call in favors with investors who had received large allocations in previous successful IPOs, the source said. As a result, King Digital priced the offering at the mid-point of its range of $21 to $24. But its shares tanked in Wednesday’s debut, falling 16 percent and fell further on Thursday and Friday. King Digital could not be reached immediately for comment.
    Wall Street bankers are now looking at the disappointing opening as a sign that investors are getting more cautious about the IPO market, especially when it comes to technology and biotechnology stocks. Although bankers said companies waiting in the wings so far seemed to want to forge ahead with their IPO plans, the realization is likely to moderate expectations on the size of offerings and valuations.
    “You realize that people are going to be a little bit more cautious. You realize that the valuation needs to be reflective of that cautiousness,” said Sam Kendall, global head of equity capital markets at UBS AG.
    That would mark a sharp turning point for the IPO market, in which investors have been fed a steady diet of new public offerings this year from companies yet to turn a profit. More than 50 IPOs have priced in 2014, and two-thirds of those are unprofitable, according to Renaissance Capital, an IPO investment advisor.
    Still, companies that have gone public this year have seen their shares rise 33 percent on average from their offer prices, according to Dealogic.
    “The market has gotten ahead of itself, and you’re seeing a pause in speculation, especially for biotech and some of these new tech names,” said Eric Green, senior portfolio manager and director of research at Penn Capital Management in Philadelphia, which oversees $7.5 billion.
    “Other issues, like Ukraine or whatever, end up being an excuse to take money off the table, but the fundamentals behind these companies haven’t changed, just the valuations over them. Those are coming back to earth,” he added.
    The next test for the market could come as early as next week, when a series of technology companies are due to list, including online food delivery service Grubhub.com, healthcare IT company IMS health, and software maker Five9.
    Bankers said the investor caution is more of a correction rather than a sign that the market was shutting down for new offerings.
    While investor worries about frothy valuations is giving pause to some companies in the technology and biotech sectors, companies in other industries are still forging ahead, betting that there will be enough demand for their stock.
    In financial services, for example, the U.S. Treasury announced plans to sell nearly 23 percent of Ally Financial Inc through an initial public offering to raise as much as $2.66 billion.
    One source familiar with the situation said by buying Ally investors would pay for “a value story,” unlike “the growth story” sold in technology and biotech IPOs.
    Still, both the Treasury and Ally would have liked to be able to sell the entire government stake in the bank in one go, sources have previously said. The Treasury will still be left with a stake in the bailed-out bank after the IPO.
    A spokesman for the U.S. Treasury and a spokeswoman for Ally declined to comment.
    Separately, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday that aircraft lessor Avolon was preparing for an IPO this year as it looked to take advantage of a recent boom in aircraft finance, driven by an expectation that air travel will continue to grow.
    Even in the technology sector, bankers said companies such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the Chinese e-commerce company, are likely to find sufficient demand when they come to market.
    Alibaba is expected to file for a listing in the United States as early as April with IPO proceeds that could exceed $15 billion.
    “All kinds of industries have been represented in IPOs, but it’s the splashy Internet ones that have been in the news,” said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston, which has about $220 billion in assets under management.
    “People are exercising caution, and I’d be more concerned if they were willing to pay anything at all,” Carey added. “If demand was robust for anything that came down the pike, that would trouble me.”
    (Additional reporting by Peter Rudegeair and Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Paritosh Bansal, Martin Howell)
  • Mozilla Hires Anti-Gay CEO
    Earlier this week Brendan Eich, the co-founder of the Mozilla Foundation and creator of the JavaScript language, was named the new CEO of the company. Back in 2008, Eich personally donated $1,000 in support of California’s Prop 8, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in the state.

    So now the question becomes: Should a man who openly opposes gay marriage — and even donates money in an attempt to deny basic human rights — be the face of an entire corporation that, among other things, provides Internet service to more than a billion people?

    Two Mozilla developers say no. They have chosen to boycott Mozilla upon hearing the news that Eich would be CEO. They are taking the apps they have built off the market, will not develop any more, and refuse to update existing apps.

    “As a gay couple who were unable to get married in California until recently, we morally cannot support a Foundation that would not only leave someone with hateful views in power, but will give them a promotion and put them in charge of the entire organization,” says Hampton Catlin on his blog.

    My opposition to the hiring of Eich comes down to the fact that as CEO, he represents the people and policies of Mozilla. Even though opposing gay marriage is a personal view politically, actively promoting the idea that two people who love each other cannot marry does not sound like equality. His actions and beliefs shape the company and its image. To me, Eich isn’t only bigoted but a man who feels it is his right to dictate how others should live their lives. And a person like that should never be in charge. Never.

  • VIDEO: Can UK's 'Silicon Roundabout' deliver?
    Newsnight’s David Grossman takes a look at the home of the Tech City initiative in east London.
  • 3 Psychological Theories to Help You Communicate Better with Anyone
    Psychological theories often feel a bit too complicated for me (I’m sure there’s a theory that explains why that is) but I’ve come across a few that are simple enough to understand and that I think of often, particularly when dealing with other people.

    I thought it might be fun to take a brief look at a few psychological theories that are especially relevant for business, marketing, leadership and overall communication skills. Keep in mind I’m no professional psychologist, so if you’re keen to find out more about these, definitely dig deeper into the research about each one.

    Dunbar’s Number

    Professor Robin Dunbar is an evolutionary psychologist who developed a model for predicting social factors about primates, based on brain size. Working from the brain expansion over time in primates (including humans), Dunbar was able to match brain size to social behaviors:

    Robin Dunbar used the volume of the neocortex — the “thinking” part of the brain — as his measure of brain size, because this accounts for most of the brain’s expansion within primates.

    In particular, he looked at the size of social groups, and the number of more intimate grooming partners for different primate species:

    For instance, chimps belong to social groups comprising about 50 individuals, but they have only two or three grooming partners.

    dunbar diagram

    Based on the size of neocortex, Dunbar was able to very accurately predict the size of a social group and the number of grooming partners of various primate species.


    When he applied this to humans, Dunbar found that most human social groups are made up of around 150 people:

    … the literature suggests that 150 is roughly to the number of people you could ask for a favor and expect to have it granted.

    Our more intimate clique size usually includes around 12 people. That 150 number is the important one, though. It’s (roughly) the maximum number of people that most of us can manage a social connection with. Anything above this is a struggle for our brains, so people drop off the bottom of our list as we add more to the top of it. Here’s another way Dunbar describes it:

    Putting it another way, it’s the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar.

    Writer Rick Lax actually took up Dunbar’s number as a challenge and tried to prove it wrong. In his piece for Wired, Lax explains what he learned from the attempt:

    In trying to disprove Dunbar’s number, I actually proved it. I proved that even if you’re aware of Dunbar’s number, and even if you set aside a chunk of your life specifically to broaden your social capital, you can only maintain so many friendships. And “so many” is fewer than 200.

    The experiment also encouraged Lax to pay more attention to those few, close connections he has:

    I walk away from this experiment with a newfound respect for 1) British anthropology and 2) My real friends. There aren’t too many of them, I now see. So I better treat them well.

    Dunbar’s number is particularly interesting in terms of marketing, brand-building and social media. If you keep in mind that each person you interact with only places around 150 people total in their “emotional connection” bucket, it can make interactions much easier. Rather than being frustrated or surprised that your customers don’t “connect” with your brand, think about this: each emotional connection they offer to your company is one they can’t offer to a true friend or family member. So when they do, that’s a big deal.

    You might think that Dunbar’s number is in direct opposition to the idea of social media. In fact, the number is the whole reason that the social network Path limits its users to 150 connections. However, social media also takes advantage of weak ties — the friend-of-a-friend or six-degrees-of-separation way that you might have come to know new friends on Twitter or Facebook.

    strong and weak ties

    In Morten Hansen’s book Collaboration, he describes how both weak ties and strong ties are crucial — but that the weak ties created through networking and social media were often the key to new opportunities.

    Research shows that it is not the size – the sheer number of contacts maintained by a person – that counts. Rather, it’s the diversity of connections – the number of different types of people, units, expertise, technologies and viewpoints – that people can access through their networks.

    Weak ties help here because they “form bridges to worlds we do not walk within,” whereas strong ties are most likely people in worlds we already know.

    Hanlon’s Razor

    Hanlon’s Razor is an adage that goes like this:

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    If you’ve ever heard of Ockham’s Razor (or Occam’s Razor), you might know that a razor in philosophy is designed to help us strip away unlikely explanations for a phenomenon. So, essentially, something happens (a phenomenon) and we try to explain it with a hypothesis (possible explanation). A razor helps us to eliminate the unlikely hypotheses until we’re left with the most probable explanation of the phenomenon.

    Although Hanlon’s Razor is quoted using the word “stupidity,” I prefer to use “ignorance,” since not having all the information can often be the issue where we might assume it’s stupidity (i.e. lack of good judgement).

    So let’s explore how Hanlon’s Razor works.

    The idea is that when someone appears to be treating you with malice, you should always dig deeper to see if ignorance could be the cause, instead.

    Have you ever received an email from a coworker or colleague that seemed to critique you or attack your idea? Your first reaction was probably to attribute it to malice — but if you look more closely, you might find it’s simply a misunderstanding.

    If I can’t think of at least three different interpretations of what I received, I haven’t thought enough about what it might mean. — Jerry Weinberg

    An example that illustrates this well is looking at the movie Finding Nemo: If you remember, Nemo is kept in a fish tank by a dentist, separating him from his father and resulting in a movie-length search to save him. The dentist, however, isn’t acting with malice: He actually thinks he’s doing Nemo a favor by keeping him “safe” in the tank.

    Likewise, the dentist’s niece tends to be rough with fish, misunderstanding how her actions are dangerous. Although it seems like malice to the fish, she’s actually just ignorant of the consequences of shaking a fish around roughly in a plastic bag.

    The next time you’re not quite sure how to interpret that ambiguous tweet or email, remember Hanlon’s Razor and consider giving the sender the benefit of the doubt.

    Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory

    This last theory can be useful for interacting with anyone about their job: colleagues, employees, or even a friend or spouse. The theory, published by psychologist Frederick Herzberg in 1959, suggests that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are actually measured in different ways, rather than being two ends of the same scale.

    The theory says that job dissatisfaction comes from “hygiene” factors such as the physical work environment, job security and salary. Job satisfaction, however, comes from “motivating” factors like enjoying the work itself, feeling a sense of achievement and having responsibility.

    herzberg diagram

    Herzberg spent five years conducting research into job satisfaction, due to the increase of indications of job dissatisfaction, like strikes and employees filing grievances.

    What we can learn from his research is that mitigating factors that lead to job dissatisfaction won’t necessarily lead us to job satisfaction. So, a high-paying job that offers great benefits and a comfortable working environment could still make us feel lousy if we don’t have any responsibility at work, and we never feel a sense of achievement.

    Conversely, feeling great about the work you do and being recognized for it won’t offset the issues of being paid poorly, or feeling uncomfortable about your working environment.

    This theory gives us a lot to think about in terms of understanding why certain companies are perceived as good places to work and investigating how best to motivate a team or individual at work. I think this theory also can be really powerful for those times when we listen to a friend, colleague or employee’s complaints about work. I’ll never again say something like, “but you get paid so well!” expecting them to be happy about their job.

    There are loads of theories and concepts like these which are useful to know. Do you know a good one? Let us know in the comments.

    If you liked this post, you might also like The Science of Emotion in Marketing: How Our Brains Decide What to Share and Whom to Trust and The Science of Failure: Why Highly Successful People Crave Mistakes.

    Image credits: illuminaut, Bloomberg Businesweek, MIT Technology Review, Danger and Play, Wikimedia Commons, softducks

  • Time to Change the 'Save' Paradigm
    The two Transporter options; the bring-your-own hard drive Transporter Sync, left, and the hard drive-included Transporter tower.

    Mud slides, fires, hurricanes, building collapses, theft, floods, sink holes, and especially hard disk drive crashes happen and usually take irreplaceable objects and files, especially photos, both physical and digital, with them.

    How do you avoid a catastrophic digital file loss from one of these or other natural or unnatural disasters?

    Simple. Back up your computer, your smartphone and your tablet.

    Or, perhaps not so simply since a World Back Up Day — observed each year on March 31 — had to be created to nag, goad or convince us. Suggested on the World Backup Day Website are a fraction of today’s myriad backup solutions.

    For instance, you can burn files to a CD or DVD — just be sure to store these discs in a safe, secure location.

    You can copy files onto an external hard drive; I recommend a fire- , crush- and flood-proof model from ioSafe, which I own.

    You can subscribe to a backup cloud service a la Dropbox, SugarSync, Carbonite, Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive (nee SkyDrive), PogoPlug Cloud or CrashPlan (or, for Mac users, iCloud), all of which include mobile apps for remote access to your files and charge a monthly or annual fee. You can read the most current comparative reviews of many of these from CNET here, from PC Advisor here and from About.com here.

    You can DIY your own cloud via a so-called Network Attached Storage (NAS) system — you connect your own hard drive to the Internet for remote access — such as Western Digital’s My Cloud, Seagate Central or, my new favorite, Transporter, which I’ll discuss more in a minute.

    Or, you can employ several of these backup methodologies, which is what I do — I’m a belt-and-suspenders pack rat kinda guy, paranoid about losing anything.

    While we have plenty of backup options to choose from, unfortunately software makers have not awoken to our need to save files to multiple locations.

    But first, a bit about available backup options and Transporter.

    Current solution issues

    Local hard drive storage, NAS and off-site subscription cloud storage backups each present their own shortcomings and drawbacks.

    Local hard drive storage leaves your backup as vulnerable as your main storage, doesn’t keep your files automatically synced and doesn’t provide remote access.

    I’ve found NAS systems expensive, difficult to work with, and many lack drag-and-drop file copy convenience.

    Remote cloud services come complete with nagging (if oft illogical) distrust — despite assurances, you have no idea how secure from hackers your files are, how safe they are from disaster, or the viability of the company.

    And then there’s that annoying monthly or annual service fee.

    Transporter attempts to solve all these problems.

    Not a full review

    Transporter combines many of the attributes of a local hard drive backup, a cloud-based backup service and an NAS, solving many of the aforementioned problems posed by each.

    And, with no monthly service fee, Transporter is cheaper than most of these other solutions.

    I only received my Transporter about 10 days ago so I’m still putting it through its paces, but here’s a brief outline of what is and does.

    There are two Transporter versions: a neo-modern tower, only 6-inches tall, that includes an internal hard drive, either 500 GB ($199), 1 TB ($249) or 2 TB ($349), or, a hockey puck-like version, the Transporter Sync ($99) to which you attach your own external hard drive. All get connected via Ethernet cable to your home network, and you can download iOS or Android apps to gain remote access to your Transporter files.

    By doubling up, getting two Transporters, you can create both local storage and your own remote/cloud service — just keep the second Transporter at an off-site location, such as your office. Should disaster strike one Transporter, your files are still safe on the other.

    Any changes made to files stored on the Transporter network are automatically synced throughout your Transporter network.

    You can choose to have files copied and synced to remote devices, as if the Transporter was connected directly to other PCs, or just access all the Transporter files via an Internet connection as if they were in the cloud.

    You can also share files, and each family member or workgroup member can get their own private Transporter library.

    And moving files to/from the Transporter is simple drag-and-drop, just as if it were a regular hard drive hard-wired to your PC via USB.

    In my limited time with it, I have yet to find a copy, backup, remote access, sync or share option Transporter doesn’t address. As with all systems, there’s a learning curve before you’ll grok Transporter’s internal logic and oodles of options. But at first blush, though, Transporter seems to solve all my document file organizational needs.

    But even Transporter doesn’t fix a frustrating software issue — the now antiquated single Save option.

    Twice Saved

    Through the years, document, presentation and photo software has adapted and changed with the time, offering greater range and increasingly sophisticated methods of editing, formatting, file type and organizational options.

    But document, presentation and photo software remains mummified in how files are Saved.

    Despite the plethora of devices we now own and multitude of backup options, most software only lets you Save to one location.

    I don’t know about you, but backing up would be a whole lot easier if I could designate a second or even a third place to Save a particular file. One file could then be Saved to all designated locations with a single click, eliminating extra backup steps.

    So you World Backup Day organizers: in addition to exhorting us to backup, how about nudging software programmers to provide us with multiple Save options?

  • See The Small Towns That Made It To The Big Screen
    Hollywood might seem like the perfect vacation destination for a movie-lover, but there’s so much more to film than the bright lights and big cities. Anyone who lives in a small town knows just how exciting it is when a film chooses your community either for its production location or setting. Avoid the crowds on your next vacation and visit one of America’s small towns that made it to the big screen.

    Click on the map’s pins to see which movies were filmed in or based on these small(er) communities.

  • Kathleen Sebelius Points Finger At Texas On Obamacare
    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Political opposition in Texas to the federal health care overhaul hasn’t helped enrollment numbers that lag behind expectations as next week’s deadline to sign up looms, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Friday.

    Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation. As of March 1, about 295,000 people in Texas had signed up for coverage — less than half of the target of 629,000 enrollees originally set by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Gov. Rick Perry and Republican leaders have consistently slammed the health overhaul while simultaneously refusing Medicaid expansion in a state where nearly 1 out of every 4 residents is uninsured.

    Millions of uninsured nationwide have until Monday to pick a plan or face penalties. More than 6 million Americans have signed up so far.

    “I don’t think it’s been a help when you have government officials trying to block navigators from getting information to the people. And you have everything from legal challenges to a constant barrage of misinformation,” Sebelius said. “That isn’t terribly hopeful to folks trying to figure out what the law means and whether or not the law applies to them, or whether it’s even in place in Texas.”

    Making a final push, Sebelius visited a United Way center in Austin where about a dozen navigators manned a call center for coverage-seekers.

    Texas is hostile territory. State regulators in January mandated that “navigators” who help Texas residents enroll under the Affordable Care Act undergo an additional 20 hours of training — half what Perry originally sought, but still enough to rankle nonprofits receiving federal funds to implement navigator programs.

    Perry shot back at Sebelius’ remarks, saying that the more people learn about the federal health law the less they like it.

    “Yet again, the Obama administration would rather point fingers at other people than accept any of the responsibility for Obamacare’s failure,” Perry said in a statement.

    Sebelius said sign-ups in Texas are on the upswing but didn’t offer more recent enrollment data. She also said HealthCare.gov is up to the task of handling a last-minute surge of visitors before the deadline.

    Sebelius said the site handled 90,000 simultaneous visitors at times Thursday, but cautioned that wait times on the phone are getting longer.

    “As this volume increases, we are going into sort of new territory,” Sebelius said.

    Binta Jalloh, a quality manager in the United Way office, said phone traffic is at peaks not seen since enrollment began in October. Her office had received nearly 200 calls by lunchtime Friday, including more than 50 Spanish-speaking callers.

    “The amount of calls we’re getting this week is definitely more so than we’ve gotten previously,” she said.


    Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

  • Joe Budden, Hip Hop Artist, Posts Anti-Sikh Photo On Instagram, Twitter Reacts
    Joe Budden, an American rapper and member of the hip hop group Slaughterhouse, is receiving some social media attention, and it’s not because of his music.

    On Friday, Twitter user Fateh Singh (@FatedDOE) posted a photo he came across on Budden’s Instagram account depicting a man wearing a turban and standing in an airport security line. Budden’s accompanying caption read, “Not on my watch Homeboy!”

    Racism and ignorance at its finest @JoeBudden pic.twitter.com/LgDwfBbY9l

    — Fateh Singh (@FatehDOE) March 28, 2014

    Many Twitter users joined in the dialogue, expressing their anger over Budden’s photo.

    .@JoeBudden fails to understand that “stereotypical terrorist” jokes have gotten innocent sikhs killed, post 9/11, purely off of ignorance

    — Raginder ‘Violinder’ (@Violinder) March 28, 2014

    PLEASE RETWEET: Tell Rapper @JoeBudden: Posting a picture of Indian Sikh man insinuating he’s a terroist is not cool! pic.twitter.com/tNzdne3tMA

    — Arsalan Iftikhar™ (@TheMuslimGuy) March 28, 2014

    One user addressed Budden directly, challenging him to take a serious look at his actions.

    @JoeBudden you are a human just like everyone else. Same blood runs in our veins. Your ancestors know about racism. Shouldn’t I know better?

    — Jaskaran Dhanoa (@JaskaranDhanoa) March 28, 2014

    Budden and Dhanoa subsequently entered into a Twitter discussion.

    @JoeBudden lighten up to a racist joke? Would you lighten up if I dropped the “N” word to you? Think about it, seriously. Read ur comments b

    — Jaskaran Dhanoa (@JaskaranDhanoa) March 28, 2014

    @JoeBudden So that makes it OKAY to make racist jokes? Two wrongs don’t make a right Joe. C’mon man, you’re still defending your pic/cmnt?

    — Jaskaran Dhanoa (@JaskaranDhanoa) March 28, 2014

    @JaskaranDhanoa I’m taking off, i’ll erase it cuz I like u, ok ?! Great. ✌️

    — Joe Budden (@JoeBudden) March 28, 2014

    Budden’s response may fall short of what Reddit user “european_douchebag” did after posting a mocking photo of Ohio State student and observant Sikh Balpreet Kaur. The Redditor offered an apology, saying, “Making fun of people is funny to some but incredibly degrading to the people you’re making fun of. It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post.”

    Budden did, however, remove the post from his Instagram account, though the rapper’s publicist did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

    The photo may be gone, but it appears the damage has been done.

  • My Life as a 'Highly Skilled' Immigrant
    One August morning many years ago, I found myself starry eyed and jet lagged at the Los Angeles International airport. In search of the American Dream, I had come halfway around the planet to pursue graduate studies in computer science at the University of Southern California.

    My earliest memories of the United States are of newfound friends asking me about the movie Slumdog Millionaire and arousing laughter when I referred to an eraser as a ‘rubber.’ In about a year, America was no longer a foreign place but the country I call home, the nation I want to contribute to.

    Little did I then know that the green pastures are not so green, at least not without a green card. I would soon be on a work visa (H1), joining hands with over a million engineers, scientists and doctors living as second class citizens, thanks to our broken immigration system.

    I soon graduated with flying colors and applied for jobs across the country. After a rigorous interview process, I was offered a spot at a search engine company with an acceptance rate of less than 0.5%. Excited about working with the best engineers I accepted the offer, and over the years have built a career as a software developer.

    On the surface, I’ve created a good life and lived the American dream. But in reality, thanks to the immigration limbo and the endless wait for green cards, I live a different kind of life — the life of an indentured servant. I cannot change employers or quit my job (to start a startup or go back to school). And if I ever get fired, guess what? Leaving family, friends and everything else behind, I would be tossed out of the country, like an empty beer bottle tossed into the trash can, that very day. Spouses of skilled immigrants face an even tougher life — despite being well qualified, they cannot work or even have a credit card in their names. Denied every opportunity to be productive citizens and virtually confined within the four walls of their house, they lose their self esteem and end up in a state of depression.

    Like any other patriotic American, I take great pride in serving my country. A few months after graduating from grad school, I had a chat with a local Army recruiter about volunteering in the Reserves. The recruiter was very excited about my skills — foreign languages and engineering prowess. When asked about my green card, I said I was on a work-visa and was waiting “in line” for a green card.

    I vividly remember the instantaneous change on his face, from excitement to disappointment, as if our conversation took place yesterday. It turned out that as an ALIEN (Yes, that is exactly what I am called as though I am from Mars) I cannot serve my country. Even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.

    In the age of globalization, we need to attract and retain the best and brightest to remain competitive. A Duke university study found that foreign born inventors have been credited to about 75 percent of patent applications filed by the top research universities, and another study by Kauffman foundation found that about 25 percent of engineering and technology firms have a foreign born founder. In the US, almost half of STEM graduate students are foreign born, but dejected at their lives as second class citizens during the decades long wait for green card and the plethora of problems the H1b’s face in their day to day life (from renewing a drivers license to buying a house), many of these American trained engineers and scientists return to their native countries and end up competing against the American economy — a phenomena named as ‘reverse brain drain’ by Duke University researcher, Vivek Wadhwa.

    The effects of the reverse brain drain are significant. A 2009 study by Technology Policy Institute found that in the absence of reverse brain drain and other barriers against retaining brainpower, the annual GDP will be raised by 13 billion.

    Both Democrats and Republicans agree on the need for immigration reform, and its imperativeness to our economic health. Yet, immigration reform has been stalled in the House of Representatives. Why does Speaker Boehner think that maintaining status quo — millions contributing to an underground economy, while we train the best and brightest to work for our competitors — is good policy? It is time for our politicians to put aside petty politics and come together to act on immigration reform. Til then, I will serve my country by advocating for immigration reform.

  • 9 Ideas That Can Change Everything We Think About Cities
    By 2050, a staggering 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. (Right now it’s 51 percent.) That will be about 6.72 billion humans putting pressure on a lot of aging infrastructure.

    The race is on for cities around the globe to meet the needs of a rising population amid a changing climate and a shifting technological landscape. The cities of the future will have to balance high-tech advances with sustainable living. Here are nine ways they can do that:

    1. Making Parks More Functional

    Photo Credit: Salto.

    Grass, playgrounds and jogging paths are great, but future parks will have to be more. Salto, an architecture firm based in Estonia, has designed “Fast Track,” a 167-foot-long trampoline path that challenges the very notion of what a park can be.

    Photo Credit: Salto.

    Installed in Russia, “Fast Track is a integral part of park infrastructure, it is a road and an installation at the same time,” says Salto’s design team. “It challenges the concept of infrastructure that only focuses on technical and functional aspects and tends to be ignorant to its surroundings. Fast Track is an attempt to create intelligent infrastructure that is emotional and corresponds to the local context. It gives the user a different experience of moving and perceiving the environment.”

    Photo Credit: Salto.

    Fast Track is just one example of how cities around the world are re-imagining parks and public spaces. Manhattan’s renowned High Line park was built on a series of long-abandoned elevated railroad tracks.

    the high line park new york
    Photo Credit: Getty.

    By repurposing the 1.45 miles of train tracks for a public park, the neighborhood successfully created a cultural landmark. The High Line has brought about an economic boom in the area, spurring other cities to consider how they can play with their former railroad infrastructure.

    2. Writing On The Walls

    Street art isn’t all that new, but its as a means of sparking social change and spurring urban engagement, it’s only just getting started.

    flix street art
    Photo Credit: Flickr: MSNina.

    “The street is the stage of our daily life, a place where people from different social strata coexist,” South American street artist Flix told This Big City. “And street art touches all its residents. My intention is to break paradigms, to send out a concise message that somehow wakes the psyche of each individual. I just want to dissolve the constant monotony of walking through the streets.”

    street art jr
    Photo Credit: Getty Images.

    3. Repurposing Abandoned Structures

    Old railroad tracks aren’t the only abandoned spaces getting makeovers. With the help of design firm MRS Architecture, Texas turned an abandoned Walmart into an amazing library.

    Photo Credit: Flickr, macarignan

    Photo Credit: Flickr, financeandcommerce

    With more and more big-box stores and malls standing empty around the country, ideas like this can capitalize on existing architecture in transformative ways.

    Photo Credit: Flickr, financeandcommerce

    4. Changing The Way You Think Of Bright Lights In Big Cities

    Last year, Buenos Aires partnered with Philips to convert 100,000 of its streetlights to LED technology, cutting the city’s electrical costs by 50 percent, according to a Philips press release. In addition to being the more environmentally friendly option, LED bulbs have also shown themselves to be better for safety, shedding considerably more light on their surroundings than conventional bulbs.

    On the left is a street before LED installation. On the right is the same street with working LEDs.
    Photo Credit: Philips.

    Before: left. After: right.
    Photo Credit: Philips.

    5. Growing Gardens Out Of Pavement

    Transporting food hundreds or thousands of miles isn’t just costly — it has a real impact on the environment, too. Future population centers may be able to grow much of their own food locally, creating new urban jobs while reducing the environmental impact.

    urban farming
    Photo credit: Getty Images.

    Vertical farms would contain complete ecosystems within their walls. Growing upward will require less land, an important consideration as urban populations continue to increase, says Dickson Despommier, a professor of public health in environmental health sciences at Columbia University and a champion of vertical farms.

    Flickr: Except Integrated Sustainability

    In cities like Tokyo and Lyon, France, urban gardens built atop railway stations already provide respite and beauty for weary travelers. The East Japan Railway Company even offers five rooftop Soradofarms in Tokyo, where commuters can sign up for their own farming plots.

    Flickr: eccaplan1

    6. Supporting Co-Working And Cooperative Maker Spaces

    Cubicles are so last century. Co-working spaces allow small businesses, self-employed entrepreneurs, remote workers and creatives the opportunity to enjoy the perks of an office without adhering to the structure of one. The trend reportedly began in San Francisco and has become a global movement. Co-working gives self-employed ventures a low-cost opportunity to engage and refine their ideas within a local community of seasoned, often supportive, entrepreneurs. Some speculate that cities may eventually sponsor their own public co-working spaces to encourage innovation and social entrepreneurship and avoid “brain drain” to other cities with established tech industries.

    The iHub co-working space in Nairobi is one of many emerging hubs for aspiring startups in Africa. Flickr: NetHope, Inc.

    The future of co-working is already happening. More than just workers with laptops sitting at communal tables, niche industry co-working habitats allow members to collaborate on projects and learn communally, as seen in San Francisco’s Writer’s Grotto or Detroit’s Ponyride, a hub for makers and socially conscious entrepreneurs.

    Order & Other photo courtesy of Ponyride.

    In the future, hubs built around 3-D printers will facilitate the sharing of blueprints, know-how and access, allowing anyone to design and produce their own product.

    3d printer
    A Makerbot Industries LLC Replicator Mini 3-D printer sits on display during the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

    7. Bringing Broadband Power To The People

    We live in the digital age, yet 30 percent of American homes still don’t have Internet access, the Pew Internet Project reports.

    Free public access to the Internet could be the future. Chattanooga, Tenn. has the fastest Internet service of any city in America, via a community-owned fiber-optic network that delivers free access to every business and resident. The city is already attracting new high-tech companies, and it’s been selected as the location for Volkswagen’s North American headquarters and a new distribution center for Amazon Marketplace.

    internet access
    Photo via Getty Images.

    8. Open Cities, Smarter Cities
    Forty-two percent of all the electricity used around the globe goes toward powering buildings. The next wave of development will involves making buildings smarter, greener and able to “talk” to the city around them. Smart buildings can automatically control their own temperatures, lighting and other mechanisms.

    Flickr: vwmang

    New mobile applications that allow citizens to submit online requests for urban maintenance — directing authorities’ attention to potholes, burned-out streetlights and flooding water mains — are already being tested through programs like SeeClickFix.com and PublicStuff.com. Future cities may be able to collect and share countless points of data to develop smarter solutions. This is already happening in Seattle — North America’s smartest city, according to FastCoExist — which currently makes over 1,000 data sets available to the public.

    9. Shipping Containers Get Second Lives

    Shipping containers have proven themselves to be endlessly useful — good thing, then, that the clever folks repurposing them are endlessly creative. Shipping containers are cheap, adaptable and readily available.

    Photo Credit: Flickr, teflon.

    From apartment buildings to shopping malls…

    Photo Credit: Flickr, orodreth_99

    The possibilities are endless.

  • Stitcher overhauls iOS app with new interface, function improvements
    Podcast streaming service Stitcher has released major update of its iOS app, v6.0.0. The app’s interface has been redesigned not only to match iOS 7, but to streamline navigation. The front page, for example, now highlights new episodes from favorites, as well as headlines and other news stories. A new Mini Player provides constant access to what’s playing, and the Now Playing screen has gained quick access to car mode and the sleep timer. Playlists can be accessed from anywhere in the app via a swipe gesture.


  • Blackberry posts $5.9bn annual loss
    Smartphone maker Blackberry reports a loss of $5.9bn for its latest financial year, but says it is on “a path to returning to growth and profitability”.

Mobile Technology News, March 28, 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.

  • Snoopy drone sniffs public's data
    Security firm SensePost reveals its Snoopy drone, which can steal data from unsuspecting smartphone users, at the Black Hat security conference in Singapore.
  • Lightning From Space, As Seen From The International Space Station
    This is what lightning looks like from space.

    A pair of photographs released by NASA earlier this week shows white lightning as seen by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The image above, snapped on Dec. 12, 2013, shows the space angle of lighting over Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

    To help you figure out what’s what, NASA also released a photo with a few notes:


    A second photo released by the space agency is even more ominous, showing lightning beneath a thunderhead as seen from space over Bolivia:


    While the images were taken with Nikon D3S digital cameras, NASA released them to help promote new equipment aboard the ISS. The Firestation, as it’s known, measures lightning flashes, static and the short bursts gamma rays that are released by some lightning discharges, NASA said in a news release.

    Firestation is able to view about 50 lightning strikes per day.

    NASA says the images were cropped and enhanced to improve contrast and remove lens artifacts.

    (h/t LiveScience)

  • Microsoft unveils iPad Office suite
    Microsoft’s new chief executive announces versions of Office’s Word, Excel and Powerpoint software for Apple’s iPad.
  • Mandatory porn site age checks urged
    The UK’s video-on-demand regulator calls for a change to the law to make overseas pornographic websites add age verification checks.
  • Would data geeks make better football managers?
    Would data geeks make better football managers?
  • American Media Brands Cast Web Over News in India
    The Indian news cycle has been operating at a feverish pitch of late. The world’s most populous democracy is about to choose a new government, politics is at its polarizing best, and a colorful cast of characters vying for power is supplying a constant stream of sound bytes.

    If things weren’t already spicy enough news-wise, American media players are attempting to add their own ‘Spice‘ to the mix, as they foray into the Indian market for online news.

    Like Indian food though, they better have a strong stomach to digest the challenges the Indian market will throw at them — this isn’t the first time American players have courted an online audience in India, and results have been mixed so far.

    Weaving a Tangled Web

    It was a venerable publication like The Economist which had addressed the issue of India’s online news potential in an article a few years back. Offering a pointed insight about the success of India’s print news players, the article argued that one of the main reasons why India’s newspaper barons were minting money was that online news in India was consumed by just under 7 percent of the nation’s population.

    Despite online news accounting for only 3.5 percent of ad spends, both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal launched India-specific news properties — India Ink and India Real Time, respectively.

    Fast forward a couple of years and data from Internet research firm Comscore is quoted to show how traffic from India to International news sites is hovering around the million mark each for some of the top players.

    No one though will talk about the elephant in the room when it comes to India — what is the state of monetization of online news in India? How have paywalls worked in the Indian context, assuming they have been tried in the first place?

    Consider the (disputed) market leader in “pure-play” online news in India today, FirstPost.comComscore data tells you it got 3.7 million visitors last year both from India and abroad. What it doesn’t tell you is that all the content on the website is free-to-view, and parent company Web 18 (part of the larger Network 18 Group) has had to fold many separate content verticals like the technology channel into the main news website due to poor numbers.

    Moreover, there is an interesting dynamic at play here — millions of Indians are paying for their print and TV news, but the web properties being run by the same media groups are offering their content for free to visitors.

    The fact that ad-based monetization offers severe challenges to online news sites isn’t exactly breaking news but someone’s got to pay the bills to justify the hype.

    American Media 2.0

    Trying to make money without a paywall though is not a foreign concept to American media. The standard bearer for this approach has been the Washington DC-based Atlantic Media, owner of marquee all-digital news brand Quartz. Launched in 2012, the site is said to have crossed 5 million visitors this January. Moreover, this is an online news site optimized for the new mobile and social web — evidenced from its clean-cut design as well as data that shows that the largest chunk of traffic (40 percent) comes from social networks.

    It’s easy to understand the excitement then around Quartz’s reported plans to enter the Indian market in collaboration with a relatively nascent homegrown news site Scroll.in. As things stand, the Indian edition of Quartz should be online by June this year and readers should expect a basket of both domestic coverage and International news and analysis.

    However, it’s not just the new kids on the block who are trying to shake up the online news landscape in India. As brands go, the UK-based BBC has had a deep connect with generations of Indians. In an apparent move to reinvent itself in the eyes of India’s younger demographic, it has announced the launch of a mobile news site before the Indian general elections. Where the BBC might have an edge is in its ability to deliver content in vernacular Indian languages — a capability none of the digital newbies have invested in.

    India Sync

    In line with global trends, Indian authorities too are increasingly inclined to clamp down on freedom of expression on the Internet. Digital freedoms for the online news community in India cannot be taken for granted. In 2012 Google reported a 49 percent increase in requests made in India for it to take down “offending” online content. There were more than 2,000 requests made for user data as well.

    When it comes to censorship in India it is not restricted to hard news either — guardians of cultural heritage abound in India, and they can bring powerful publishers to their knees. In the U.S., an offending news item may bring thousands of angry emails from readers; in India it is likely to have a political party piggyback the issue and lay siege to a news organization’s office.

    Then there is the larger challenge of delivering the right content to cater to the Indian masses. In a country where business and technology news is a much poorer cousin of political news, culture and lifestyle revolve predominantly around movies and television, and sports is synonymous with cricket; finding the right content mix to generate mass readership will be an ongoing challenge for American media players.

    While Quartz would like to entertain notions that the new age Indian Internet audience is eager for their offerings, maybe they should pay heed to other data about Indian digital consumption habits. Video consumption has doubled in just two years in India as per Comscore data. Google, primarily YouTube, dominates. Mobile TV channels are being aggressively marketed by a raft of new media players, some with old media moorings.

    Is the written word, whether in print or in digital, going to retain its primacy for long? The answer from India and the world may be no different.

  • Tech Revamps in Prolific Places: Touch Screens in Museums, Libraries With APIs
    When it comes to restoring historical buildings or cultural landmarks, there is a certain amount of sensitivity needed in regards to the preservation and essence of such institutions. Such anxieties are admittedly rational, given the chance of potentially disrupting and ruining a treasured artifact or institution.

    Technology solutions can help to preserve some of the world’s most prolific institutions for generations to come while maintaining historical or artistic integrity. However, incorporating new technology into a solidified cultural landmark or institution is like walking a fine line.

    One wrong decision can garner the public backlash from countless fans, members or philanthropists. Collaborating with key personnel and decision makers to understand the institutions vision as well as the perspective of visitors, fans and members is crucial.

    Preserve Tradition and Assure Future Scalability

    Incorporating technology driven processes into historical and culturally significant institutions is similar to creating remakes of popular classic films. Such projects must take into account contemporary audiences as well as long-term dedicated fans. There is a definite fine line between betraying the trust of loyal followers and selling out to catch attention from newcomers.

    For an example of such a successful technology implementation, take a look at the Cleveland Museum of Art. By incorporating touch technology and software applications for interacting with exhibits, the museum was able to update their exhibits for current and future generations, without alienating core attendees.

    Widen the Audience and Increase Exposure

    In today’s technology driven landscape, adapting an institution for present day expectations is crucial. Adults and teenagers alike have become incredibly discerning when it comes to judging technology. If you plan on incorporating touch screen technology, you should hold yourself up to standards such as iPhone and Android apps or HTML5 websites. Consider the fact that the average American spends one hour everyday on a smartphone and 13 hours per week online.

    With such exposure to new media and technology, the average visitor to a museum will be well equipped to judge the tech-savvy nature of an institution. Regardless of the technology, the main focus is to revamp an institution for the purpose of increased exposure, visitors, donations and awareness. Most of these organizations are nonprofit and depend on the dedication of their members, philanthropists and visitor donations to operate.

    Update the Experience but Maintain Authenticity

    In April 2013, the Digital Public Library of America was officially opened. The entirety of archives from multiple universities, museums and libraries across the country have been digitized and made available through this website. Not only has the project opened access to a trove of information to the public, but the development team also created an API available to app developers.

    On the main page of the website, there is an apps section which features apps for searching through the plethora of information in the libraries’ records. Such incorporation of technology to expand upon the already rich value of such an institution is a perfect example of how technology can expand upon something that is already great.

    As a technology company, it is difficult to walk the line between preservation of an institution’s historical identity, and the desire to update the experience for future generations. Thankfully, technology has the ability to open up access and widen the audience for institutions, historical or contemporary.

    Are there any institutions that come to mind that you feel could benefit from a technological upgrade?

    Himanshu Sareen is Founder and CEO of Icreon Tech.

  • The Rapid Transormation of Business Leaders Is Underway
    Some recent studies reveal a dramatically changing face of business leaders already underway; and, what the leadership needs of the future will look like. I see these and other related observations coinciding with a broader shift in our society, and perhaps worldwide. It’s towards heightened interconnection and interdependence, desire for diversity, collaboration as part of the DNA, and a major shift in attitudes about hierarchy and success.

    One study of Fortune 100 executives, featured in the Harvard Business Review, found that the majority of senior executives today went to state universities, not the more elite schools. A Washington Post report of the study pointed out that “In 1980, just 32 percent of leaders went to a public university. By 2001 that had grown to 48 percent, and in 2011 the number reached a majority, with 55 percent of corporate leaders going to state colleges.”

    Moreover, nearly 11 percent are foreign born. And while women still deal with the glass ceiling, they have a more rapid rise to the top ranks, today. Nevertheless, it’s significant to note that nearly 87 percent of corporate board seats are held by white workers. According to research by DiversityInc and the think tank Catalyst, six African Americans are Fortune 500 CEOs, and 7.4 percent hold corporate board seats; eight Hispanics are Fortune 500 CEOs, and 3.3 percent hold corporate board seats.

    Even so, it’s clear that a shift is underway along many fronts. For example, in a Washington Post interview, Wharton professor Peter Cappelli pointed out that another one of the study’s major findings was “…sharp decline in the lifetime employment model among senior guys. The percentage of top leaders who spent their entire careers at one company dropped from 50 percent in 1980 to 45 percent in 2001 to less than a third in 2011.”

    Not only is the education background and employment patterns of top corporate leaders becoming more equal over time, the orientation and skills they will need in the future are also changing. And that’s becoming increasingly visible as well. For example, a fascinating study by the Hay Group and German futurists at Z-Punkt identifies six trends that their research indicates will shape leadership needs in the years ahead. I think their findings align with similar shifts in the larger culture: an evolution in all sectors of society and in individual lives today — again, towards heightened collaboration, connection, emotional attunement to others, and diverse interdependence.

    Consider the findings of this report, Leadership 2030. It speaks of the rise of the “altorocentric” leader. In a Washington Post interview by Jena McGregor, Georg Vielmetter of the Hay Group explained that “Altrocentric” means

    …focusing on others. Such a leader doesn’t put himself at the very center. He knows he needs to listen to other people. He knows he needs to be intellectually curious and emotionally open. He knows that he needs empathy to do the job, not just in order to be a good person. (and) …leaders in the future need to have a full understanding, and also an emotional understanding, of diversity.”

    Also significant, Vielmetter pointed out, “…positional power and hierarchical power will become smaller. Power will shift to stakeholders, reducing the authority of the people who are supposed to lead the organization.”

    He emphasized that

    The time of the alpha male — of the dominant, typically male leader who knows everything, who gives direction to everybody and sets the pace, whom everybody follows because this person is so smart and intelligent and clever –this time is over. We need a new kind of leader who focuses much more on relationships and understands that leadership is not about himself.

    Regarding the younger generation, Vielmetter adds that

    With the Baby Boomer generation, you understood you climb up the ladder and you’re the boss at the end. The new generation has less and less interest to do this….for them it’s just not so important to become the boss. That causes a big problem for organizations. They offer people big jobs, and they don’t want them. They value their private life more.

    Similarly, writing in the New York Times, Tom Agan, co-founder and managing partner of Rivia, points out that the younger generations of workers can have a significant positive impact upon workplace culture and leadership. That embracing it can enhance innovation and creativity, especially when joined with the experience of older workers.

    Agan writes, “Social media permeate the personal, academic, political and professional lives of millennials, helping to foster the type of environment where innovation flourishes. So when compared with older generations, millennials learn quickly — and that’s the most important driver of innovation.”


    If corporate cultures don’t align with the transparency, free flow of information, and inclusiveness that millennials highly value — and that are also essential for learning and successful innovation — the competitiveness of many established businesses will suffer. Millennials are becoming more aware of their rising worth. Coupling their ability to learn quickly with their insistence on having a say, they pack a powerful punch.

    Those who build and sustain highly successful companies are very much in tune with and leading the kinds of shifts the above studies and observations describe. One good example is Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson who has emphasized the business value of seeking a wide, diverse range of people. Branson writes in Entrepreneur,

    Over more than 40 years of building our businesses at the Virgin Group, my colleagues and I have seen time and time again that employing people from different backgrounds and who have various skills, viewpoints and personalities will help you to spot opportunities, anticipate problems and come up with original solutions before your competitors do.

    All of these findings and observations have significant implications for corporate cultures and people’s lives, ambitions and goals — today and tomorrow. What will be the impact on outlook, vision, and management perspectives from the ever-increasing diversity of people, in conjunction with a growing shift in worker’s orientations to the job, to what they look for from management, and to what they define as “success?” All of the above are parts of a broader shift of mentality, values, outlook on life, and behavior. It will shape how people conduct their personal relationships, what they seek from their careers and from public policy, as well. There are many moving parts, and they’re all moving as we speak.

    Douglas LaBier, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Progressive Development, and writes its blog, Progressive Impact. dlabier@CenterProgressive.org. For more about him on The Huffington Post, click here.

  • Obama Decides To Seek End Of NSA Phone Records Program, But Many Questions Linger
    Civil liberties advocates cheered President Barack Obama’s step on Thursday toward ending the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone records. But they also warned the move could obscure more intrusive programs still being carried out in secret.

    In a step telegraphed earlier this week, Obama said in a Thursday statement he believes “the best path forward is that the government should not collect or hold this data in bulk.”

    “I am confident that this approach can provide our intelligence and law enforcement professionals the information they need to keep us safe while addressing the legitimate privacy concerns that have been raised,” he added.

    Obama’s still-developing plan calls for the NSA to stop collecting bulk records on who Americans call, when and for how long. Instead, that data will be sought from phone companies only when necessary for terrorism investigations, and after a special surveillance court’s approval.

    Whatever shape it ultimately takes, Obama’s proposal will still need congressional approval. The administration has rejected a suggestion made by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) to simply stop seeking court reauthorization of the program. Friday is the next deadline for seeking court reauthorization.

    Nevertheless, the plan represents a stunning turnaround for an administration whose officials — up to and including the president — have called bulk call records collection legal and necessary. When former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations were first made public in June 2013, Obama offered a full-throated defense of call records collection. As recently as a January speech, the president was grappling to preserve the program in some form by requiring phone companies to hold data longer, or by establishing a third-party group to collect the call data.

    But as two factions in Congress, whose memberships cut across political lines, battle over whether to end the call records program or to expand the NSA’s powers further, the president may have foreseen gridlock stalling reauthorization ahead of a statutory mid-2015 expiration date.

    “I suspect that there is some sort of political calculation going on here about fighting to the death [over the program],” said Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. Her group has praised the president’s proposal as a step in the right direction, but Richardson nonetheless warned of “much bigger programs going on that are flying under the radar.”

    The bulk collection of American telephone records has aroused the most bipartisan ire since Snowden’s leaks exposed it — but as Snowden’s documents have also shown, the NSA operates many other programs that collect data both domestically and abroad.

    The president did not address other collection activities going on under the same section of the Patriot Act, which could range over a wide record of business records, from product sales to library histories. Nor did the president touch on other authorities that could be used to collect the actual content of Americans’ communications, or American phone metadata offshore.

    “[The plan] satisfies the optics of reform … without looking at some of the other authorities that are far more intrusive,” said Katherine Maher, advocacy director for the global digital rights group Access.

    Even when it comes to just the NSA phone records collection, many question marks still remain.

    “In some ways I feel a little bit frustrated at the very vague information we have gotten from the White House on the proposal,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s liberty and national security program.

    The NSA is in possession of years’ worth of Americans’ phone records, in bulk. What happens to that data going forward is unknown.

    And in the future, if the administration plan is put into place, it is also unknown what will happen to phone call data that the NSA requests from the telecommunication companies and places into the agency’s “corporate store,” over which it asserts free reign.

    For these companies, important private-sector stakeholders in any changes to the NSA program, the potential effects of the new proposal are unclear. They fear being forced to reformat the data they already keep on customer calls, or having to store it longer.

    Verizon General Counsel Randel Milch blogged a statement applauding the president’s suggestions, but stressed that Congress and the administration would need to “get the details of this important effort right.”

    This article has been updated to clarify details about the NSA’s data collection, and the potential impacts of the new proposal.

  • What Do They Know? Dismissing a Viral Presumption About Millennials
    Digital media has been abuzz recently thanks to findings from a survey about how clueless Americans are concerning Internet terminology. While further investigation of the “study” suggested that it was likely a publicity stunt on the part of a public relations firm, the reaction to the findings may be more worrisome than the findings themselves. As one reporter noted,”It’s like they only interviewed my grandma and her friends!”

    Assumptions are rampant about how savvy today’s millennials are when it comes to technology in contrast to their apparently clueless parents and grandparents.

    The glitch: neither assumption is based on empirical evidence. If anything, considerable research has shown by now that there is large variation in Internet skills among young adults, often related to their socioeconomic status, and factors other than age explain skill differences across generations such as a person’s level of income and education.

    I have been surveying young adults about their digital savvy for a decade and have shown repeatedly that there is large variation in their know-how. Some young adults are quite savvy indeed; they can create their own videos from material found online and upload these to websites and garner large audiences with which they actively engage. But others lack very basic skills, such as knowing how to read and parse web addresses and understanding basic email functionality such as the role of bcc.

    Before jumping to the conclusion that this is because young adults do not use email, note that that is another unfounded assumption. They do use email although it may not be their preferred method of communication for corresponding with their friends.

    While it is certainly the case that most children and young adults have grown up surrounded by technology and indeed spend considerable time using digital media, it is wrong to equate hours spent on such devices with automatic savvy.

    Given that many youth only do a handful of things online, (such as watch playful videos, check in on Facebook or contact a friend through Snapchat) they are much less likely to be familiar with countless other web-based activities. Accordingly, they are not knowledgeable about many aspects of the online world.

    Of course, some of them are.

    But research has shown that these tend to be children from more privileged backgrounds. For example, those youth may live in a household with more educated parents. Worse, these socioeconomic differences are remarkably consistent over time. That fact I was able to uncover by surveying the same group of young adults over four years.

    Given the mounting empirical evidence about the varied skills of young adults, believing in their digital predisposition is a mistake.

    By assuming that each student who walks through the doors of an elementary, middle or high school is a fully knowledgeable online citizen, we are perpetuating societal inequalities that exist among the more and less privileged when it comes to their Internet skills and by extension, the potential benefits they may or may not reap from spending time online.

    Widespread assumptions about universal digital savvy among today’s youth are doing a disservice to that generation as it results in no time, effort or resources dedicated to improving their online know-how.

    This is how some youth end up engaging in activities that get them into trouble whether that concerns relying on incorrect information they get from a website as they write their homework assignment, or voicing opinions publicly that may jeopardize their college admission prospects. Without a moderate level of understanding of the Web and its reach, many youth have demonstrated too much trust in content they find online or they divulge information more publicly than they may have intended not recognizing the potential repercussions of such actions.

    My research with Danah Boyd has shown that college students vary considerably in their likelihood of changing the privacy settings of their Facebook accounts. Those with higher general Internet skills were more likely to have done this more often. In subsequent work with Eden Litt, we found that those with higher privacy-related Internet skills were more likely to have “changed the privacy settings or content of [their] online profile in anticipation of employers searching for information about [them].”

    Again, these actions were not universal despite only young adults participating in the study. And again, careful use of the Internet was related to one’s online skills.

    Intergenerational assumptions of relative know-how are incorrect as well. Analyzing data from the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Survey about the Internet skills of adults of varying ages, I found that among people 50 and under, there was no relationship between age and Internet know-how. Rather, higher income and higher education were related to higher Web-savvy.

    Reports are increasingly common of people losing their jobs and getting into other trouble because of what they do online. Young adults, members of the supposedly super-savvy online generation, are not immune to these scenarios.

    It is time to move past rhetorical assumptions about the universal Web-savvy of youth. By recognizing that many youth lack considerable Internet skills, we can finally take steps toward introducing relevant instruction into curricula so that we are not leaving a generation behind when it comes to tools that are now an essential part of daily life, whether at work or at play.

  • Amazon To Release FREE Netflix Competitor: WSJ
    Watch out, Netflix. Amazon is planning to launch a free, ad-supported streaming service in the coming months, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

    The move would allow customers to obtain Amazon streaming services without purchasing Amazon Prime, the $99 annual membership service that gives users access to Amazon’s library of streaming television shows and films, in addition to free two-day shipping.

    Sources familiar with Amazon’s plan also indicated to the WSJ that the service would offer free music videos.

    Such a free service would more directly pit the e-commerce giant against Google’s YouTube and Netflix, which charges $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming.

    The report comes amid an intensifying race to obtain content rights and create original programming for an online audience. Amazon last year made a $1 billion investment in original content, when it let viewers decide which of 14 original pilots made specifically for Amazon would be made into original series. Five were chosen.

    The news also follows months of speculation that Amazon will release its own set-top box next week at an event in New York City. Amazon Prime currently relies on third-party set-top boxes such as a Roku or Xbox One.

  • BuzzFeed's Perelman, We Offer Video Scale To Brands
    LONDON – BuzzFeed’s commercial stock in trade is offering sponsored editorial articles to brand marketers. Now it is extending the offering to digital videos.

    “We’ve done roughly 1,300 videos, 20% of them have over a million views.” says the publisher’s agency strategy VP Jonathan Perelman, who also recently took on its video GM role.

    BuzzFeed opened a video production studio in LA just over a year ago. Perelman says the output is clocking over 100 million monthly views: “We’re now working with brands to create shareable video content.”

    Although Perelman cites views in depicting the project’s growth, just as with BuzzFeed’s text articles, it is shareability on which the videos’ success is judged.

    We spoke with him at the FT Digital Media Conference. To view all our coverage of the conference,  visit this page.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • Woman Finds Her Stolen Facebook Photos In Prostitution Ads (VIDEO)
    Dallas Miller is not a prostitute — but you would certainly have thought otherwise if you’d seen this suggestive ad online over the weekend:

    dallas miller

    Miller, 21, told ABC affiliate WKRN.com that she absolutely did not create or post that ad on the Web. Instead, she says almost a dozen of her photographs were stolen off her Facebook page and used in prostitution advertisements on the free ad-listing site Backpage.com.

    “It’s been tough,” Miller, who lives in Whites Creek, Tenn., told the news outlet of the experience. “I definitely feel victimized.”

    Backpage.com has reportedly pulled the ads off its site.

    After Miller’s story made headlines this week, netizens stepped forward to offer support for the young woman.

    Others pointed out how Miller’s experience should be a wake-up call to anyone who doesn’t takes their online security seriously.

    “Protect your FB pics,” Trinidadian TV anchor Samantha John tweeted Thursday. “This just goes to show that your face can end up anywhere.”

    The FBI warns all social media users to always use “high security settings on social networking sites, and be very limited in the personal information you share.” For more tips on how to protect yourself online, go to the FBI’s website (here).

    (Hat tip, Yahoo! News)

  • Turkey's War On Social Media Could Scare Off Foreign Investment
    ISTANBUL — When Turkey’s embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blocked Twitter last week, Deniz Oktar, a 29-year-old CEO and co-founder of two tech startups, was more than a little worried. And after the government moved to block YouTube on Thursday, citing national security concerns, Oktar says he began to fear the worst.

    “I found my last client from Twitter,” he said, sitting in his eclectic office on Yildiz Technical University’s campus, where a slew of other technology companies are based. “What happens if Google is blocked? What happens if the Internet is taken down?”

    Oktar is one of an increasing number of young tech entrepreneurs in Turkey. He employs a small team, made up mostly of young Turks, that provides software development services to companies in the United States. His latest client is a Boston-based startup from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    For years, Turkey has tried to foster a space for tech innovation, providing support in the form of small loans and national research grants. Some of Oktar’s own work is funded through such a grant. In 2012, President Abdullah Gul spent time in Silicon Valley courting Twitter, Microsoft and the like. Gul has also boasted that a new Apple store set to open in Istanbul in April will “attract worldwide attention.” But recent moves by Erdogan and his government could stunt the country’s startup scene and scare off foreign investors from tech companies, analysts say.

    “Undoubtedly foreign investors are very scared by what is happening,” said Bayram Balci, a visiting scholar on Turkey at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Turkey was an island of stability before the Gezi Park [anti-government] protests, but now what we see is that Turkey is no longer the stable market it was.”

    This is the “beginning of something serious,” he added.

    Erdogan launched a war against Twitter last week in an attempt to stop leaks of recordings that allegedly implicate him in a massive corruption scandal. One of the recordings appears to show Erdogan telling his son to hide millions of dollars in cash. He then moved to block YouTube on Thursday after a recording surfaced of Turkish officials reportedly discussing possible military operations in neighboring Syria. Turkey’s role in the civil war remains a contentious issue, with many saying Erdogan is supporting hardline Islamist rebels within Turkey’s borders.

    The reported YouTube ban comes just days before municipal elections on Sunday, which are widely seen as a referendum on Erdogan’s political party that has ruled for 11 years.

    “Twitter…mwitter,” Erdogan said in front of thousands of his supporters last week. “I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”

    Turkey’s 10 million Twitter users are still finding ways to access the site through domain name servers (DNS) and virtual private networks (VPN). Yet there is a pervasive fear about the government’s mentality that social media and technology are the “enemy.” On Thursday, Turkey’s foreign minister said the leaked recordings were a “declaration of war” against the country.

    Erdogan accuses Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who lives in the United States and has a huge international following, of trying to undermine his rule by leaking what he says are forged videos and recordings. The battle between the two former allies has caused a dramatic political rift between their supporters and fueled divides among Turks throughout the country. The tumult is causing some foreign investors to shy away from Turkey, according to experts and entrepreneurs.

    Sevin Ekinci, a Turkish economist who regularly consults foreigners looking to invest in Turkey, said that if she was a foreign investor, she wouldn’t put her money into a company here.

    “Banning Twitter is an extreme roulette card,” she said. “My expectation is things will get worse.”

    While explaining how the social media bans are affecting the tech scene in Turkey, Oktar referenced one particular post from Hacker News, an online forum popular in the startup community.

    “I was there on business in 2010 and I said ‘Man, this is a country on the move! We need to set up an office here,'” the thread began, explaining why Turkey had the perfect cocktail for a booming tech scene. “Things have fallen apart so quickly since then,” the post continued. “Wouldn’t touch it now.”

    But it’s not just the Twitter and YouTube bans that worry Oktar. “When there are protests, none of my employees are here,” he said, referring to recent anti-government demonstrations. “Stability is very important. Clients who we are currently working with trust us enough that this is not going to be a major problem. However, new clients who do not know us are very concerned.”

    Oktar said that his Internet connection, like that of many Turks, has recently been slower than usual with more glitches — and he doesn’t think this is a coincidence. As the government goes after social media sites, rumors are running wild that the Internet will be slowed drastically or shut down altogether.

    Fast Internet is essential for his work, he said, and without it, everyday tasks like connecting with clients in the United States via video chat become difficult, costing him time and money. Many companies, he continued, are also having trouble getting Google Analytics to run on their websites, an important tool used for tracking things like how many people have looked at a site.

    Now, his team is discussing alternative ways to access the Internet.

    “I’m spending time thinking about this and I shouldn’t have to,” he said. “It’s absurd.”

    “Maybe Turkey will be the next generation of tech geniuses because we’ll all be so tech savvy,” he added, laughing at the irony. “Even my mom knows what a VPN is.”

  • Beyond Texting: Face-to-Face Communication for Teens

    Technology is a such a blessing… Until it becomes a curse. Or a crutch. Maybe it’s all three, actually, when you really stop to think about it. After all, it’s lovely to text a friend, letting her know you are running late for a get-together but being constantly tethered to a device and the never-ending beeping and ringing can be exhausting. Blessing vs. curse.

    But it’s the crutch part that resonated with me to such a level that I wrote my third book, Beyond Texting: The Fine Art of Face-to-Face Communication for Teenagers. I didn’t go willingly, as they say.

    The book was a result of being asked by my publishers, friends, and colleagues to please write a book for the younger generation. I didn’t want to do it. I texted and emailed and FaceTimed my publisher over and over again refusing. But by then my brain had been tuned into the teenagers and 20-somethings I encountered everywhere I went, and after watching so many of them, including my own, relying on their devices to make it in the world, I relented.

    Seeing teenagers constantly head down, earbuds in and hunched over their smartphones really made a mark on me. I first considered going to chiropractic school, knowing that the future generation is going to have loads of neck problems (for all of you entrepreneurs out there, may I suggest considering this line of work because surely there is money to be made) but I am no spring chicken, and small talk is my gig.

    So, the book and the blogs and the talks begin now. Not to blow my own horn, but I am basically singlehandedly saving the world. I know, I know — it’s a big job. But without face-to-face communication skills, the next generation will be unable to make conversation, ask for a date, propose to a mate and, thus, create the next generation. The entire human race could die off if we don’t start teaching our teens how to communicate! I don’t know about you, but I’d like some grandchildren one day. And someone to serve me tapioca in the home — when and if the time comes.

    How do you teach your teen the proper way to build relationships and interact with others? While my book offers an in-depth approach, these three tips will help you both get started:

    Exude Energy:
    It’s normal to feel nervous and overwhelmed when entering an unfamiliar situation. Take a deep breath and relax. Can’t? Well, fake it if you can, and remind yourself that everybody else is feeling the same way. Put away your phone and look at others in the eye, smile and extend a firm handshake. It will feel awkward at first, and you will be itching to reach for your device as a way to curb your panic, but force yourself to engage on a human level because it gets easier. I promise. By appearing energetic, interested, engaged and friendly, people will be drawn to you, making the vibe in the room even more inviting and comfortable for you and others.

    Break the Ice:
    Initiating a conversation with a stranger is a gift that keeps on giving — to both you and the your conversation partner. Even after all these years of small talk, I always enter a room with at least three topics to talk about. Always. So, here are some conversation starters that work:

    • How’d you do on the test? The essay part was the toughest for me!
    • Have you met the new science teacher?
    • Biology is killing me — can we study together?
    • I was behind you at the assembly this morning. What did you think about the presentation?
    • I love your (band) shirt. Did you know they are playing here this summer?

    There is no ‘perfect’ conversation starter, but there is always an ‘A’ for effort, so saying hello first will earn you credit. Sure, you’re going to get rejected sometimes and that’s life. But by trying, and by being kind and genuine, you have a better shot of starting a meaningful exchange.

    Introduce (and then Re-Introduce) Yourself:
    This is so basic – but so often overlooked! Sometimes you’ve managed to actually start and carry on a great conversation and you walk away realizing that you have no idea what someone’s name is and they have no idea what yours is! Give someone the gift of your name, even if you think they may know you already:

    John (to a professor): I was so happy with the B on the final

    Professor: Yes, good work.

    John: I’m John Smith – I am in your Tuesday/Thursday class and am registering for your course next semester.

    Professor: Great, John. I’ll look forward to seeing you in class.

    John: Thanks Professor Green; have a good summer.

    John re-introduced himself to his professor and established a connection. Next semester, if John needs some additional help or is looking for a reference, he’s already set himself apart from the other hundreds of students Professor Green sees every week. One small exchange can result in big things.

    When I look back on my teen years, I shudder at the memories. My hands shook during presentations. My mouth went dry when a boy talked to me. My heart pounded when I walked into a party alone. The tips I shared here — and the others in my book — are not earth-shattering but oh so necessary. Social media may be killing all of of our social skills. But by teaching our teens the basics, and helping them embrace face-to-face communication, we are saving the world! And we have a greater chance of having successful, self-supporting adult children! And grandchildren! And tapioca!

  • Warning: These Perfect Loop Gifs Will Hypnotize You
    There’s nothing quite as momentarily incapacitating as a perfect loop GIF. No matter what is occupying your mind at the moment — be it work, a first date, a bank robbery, whatever — show someone a GIF that seamlessly plays over and over, and it’s practically mandatory that the rest of the world be put on hold for at least three loops.

    German-Hungarian artist David Ope just made it a little harder to look away. His hypnotizing GIFs are so impressively smooth and beautiful that you might want to clear the rest of the afternoon to admire them.

    Can’t get enough? There’s plenty more on his Tumblr page to keep you mesmerized.

    Let your eyes glaze over. Doesn’t it look like ocean waves?

    When I clap my hands three times, you’ll get the sudden urge to give me $1,000.

    It’s like the inside of an anemome … an amemone … an anemonenene.

    Graphic, cartoon-style bouncing jello is almost as good as the real thing.

    Everyone loves a slinky. It’s science.

    Neon has never looked so cool.

    (Hat tip, The Washington Post)

  • Going Wild On The World's Most Expensive Instrument
    Stradivari’s “MacDonald” viola, poised to make history as the most expensive instrument in the world, has three bodyguards and its own white-gloved handler. But David Aaron Carpenter was going just a little crazy on it.

    For an informal recital Monday at the Manhattan headquarters of Sotheby’s, which is handling the viola’s multi-million-dollar auction later this spring, Carpenter, an acclaimed violist, had chosen to play Isaac Albéniz’s 1892 “Asturias.” The piece is fast and intense, with passages that sound like nothing so much as heavy-metal shredding. It’s more modern than most of the music the 300-year-old MacDonald must have encountered during its lifetime. Which is just what Carpenter was after.

    “Of course you can play Bach on it. But you can also play a more contemporary work and have an instrument so old and unique make it sound incredible,” Carpenter explained later. (Hear him play it in the video above.) “I wanted to showcase this instrument for what the viola could be. The fact that it’s been sleeping in a vault for about 30 years — I just wanted to wake it up and give it a voice.”

    Carpenter’s fingers danced across the neck of the viola, one of just 10 in existence made by the master craftsman Antonio Stradivari, and one of two that date from the peak of Stradivari’s career. (By comparison, Stradivari made some 600 violins). Of the two remaining violas from Stradivari’s “Golden Period,” one belongs to the Russian government, which has failed to preserve the viola’s fine exterior. The other is the so-called “MacDonald” viola, which will fetch at least $45 million, almost three times the price of the world’s next most expensive instrument, when it goes on sale later this year.

    The MacDonald is said to be in impeccable condition — “it’s as if Stradivari handed it to you from his workshop,” Carpenter observed. But after being kept in a safe for several decades, the sleeping beauty will need several years to develop its voice. Carpenter predicts its sound will only improve with time: Even in the five days since he first picked it up, he said, he’s heard the viola “[open] up tremendously.”

    “This week, it has been a joy to get to understand it,” Carpenter said. “And even though has an incredible sound at a moment, it has so much more potential than what it is.”

    Lesser fiddles tend to have a more muscular and muted sound, or develop a less pleasing voice over time, said Carpenter. What distinguishes the MacDonald is the “very sonorous,” “very vibrant” quality of its melodies, as well as its ability to project a clear, strong song.

    The MacDonald has been owned by a marquis, a duke, a baron and, most recently, the violist of the Amadeus Quartet, Peter Schidlof. He called the viola “utter perfection” in an interview shortly before his death.

    One clumsy step during Carpenter’s performance earlier this week, and the historic MacDonald could have been just that — history. Yet the violist insists he wasn’t nervous cradling the equivalent of 375 college tuitions under his chin.

    Really? Are you sure? Not even a little bit?

    No. It feels “like an extension of your body,” Carpenter said.

    “It’s the pinnacle of my career,” he added. “Every moment up until this point has prepared me to get to this moment and show the world what an instrument of this caliber can really do.”

  • 3 Myths Americans Still Believe About Innovation
    For much of the 20th century, the U.S. outpaced the rest of the world when it came to innovation. Americans soared in aviation, put the first man on the moon, discovered DNA, pushed the envelope in plastics, and invented the personal computer, the Internet and social media.

    From the perspective of technology breakthroughs — and the industries and good jobs that often result from them — the 20th century can fairly be called the American Century.

    But the outlook for the 21st century is far less clear. Signs point to an erosion of America’s innovative power and a surge in the capabilities of other nations. In 2000, America topped the list of best countries for nurturing innovation, but most recently The Economist reported it now ranks fourth. What’s more, since 2008, the number of foreign-origin patents that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted annually has surpassed the number of domestic-origin patents.

    In effect, the U.S. has neglected key innovation ingredients even as other countries have cultivated them. This neglect is rooted in three myths about innovation that are widely held by Americans.

    Myth No. 1: The Free Market Is the Only Answer

    According to this age-old myth, our capitalist society owes its wealth and way of life to freewheeling entrepreneurs and unfettered captains of industry. A corollary is that attempts to orchestrate economic activity amount to stymieing central planning. In other words, the failure of communism proved definitively that government planning is counterproductive — if not an affront to human liberty — and that it must be avoided as much as possible.

    That is an oversimplification. Several decades ago, well-funded corporate research departments generated a steady string of innovations critical to U.S. prosperity. And the private sector continues to play an indispensable role in bringing new products and services to life. But as corporate spending has shifted away from fundamental research largely due to the perceived uncertainty about the prospects of unproven technologies, America’s faith in the free market — and corresponding concern about government involvement in the economy — tends toward fanaticism.

    The narrative of America as a nation of self-reliant entrepreneurs is a simplistic, romantic story we tell ourselves. And, it gets in the way of more promising approaches to innovation that combine the public and private sectors.

    Myth No. 2: Breakthroughs Come From Solo Geniuses

    Blind faith in laissez-faire economics may stem, in part, from another popular myth: that innovation comes from heroic, solo inventors cooking up world-changing technology in a vacuum. This is a deeply held assumption for most Americans, one tied to the country’s self-image as a nation of rugged individualists. And, it’s why many believe efforts to organize innovation through teams of people or institutions are bound to fail. By definition, collective activity crimps the creativity of gifted individuals and results in something “designed by committee.”

    To be sure, achievers and innovators are smart and driven. But in field after field, there is a hidden story of success that is crucially dependent on social setting and personal and professional networks. We can do better as a country when we recognize the power of collaboration and connectivity when it comes to commercializing breakthrough technologies.

    Myth No. 3: The Best Discoveries Happen by Chance

    Closely related to the myth of the lone genius, this myth holds that spontaneous flashes of brilliance and chance mistakes are the primary way we make scientific and technological progress. The result of this belief is that there is little incentive to organize the innovation process. And, the conventional wisdom is that we should invest in pure, basic science, leave researchers alone, and hope for the best.

    As with the other two myths, the theory of discovery-as-accident has some evidence to support it. The consequences of fundamental scientific research cannot be predicted, and findings in one era may lie dormant for decades or centuries before being put to use. And some important technologies are the result of lab mistakes. But Americans go to an extreme in believing that discoveries are accidental. Our popular fascination with fortuitous failures and “a-ha!” moments hides a full appreciation of the way vital insights and breakthrough technologies often stem from planned effort and a framework of organized innovation.

    The Myths Are Alive and Well, Threatening Our Future

    These innovation myths are thriving and undermining our economic prosperity. They continue to blind us to the state of the country’s innovation system. It is unorganized to a fault. An “innovation gap” has emerged in recent decades in which businesses tend to focus on incremental product development while universities concentrate on often-esoteric basic research. This gap, and our disorderly approach to innovation, endangers our collective future.

    It’s not too late. We can better organize our innovation ecosystem of federal agencies, research universities and businesses to optimize the way our country generates breakthrough technologies. But to push forward America’s innovation leadership from the 20th century into the 21st — and to benefit the global economy and well-being worldwide — we have to face up to our faulty assumptions around the free market, solo geniuses and serendipitous discoveries. We need to rethink innovation and how to achieve it.

    Steve Currall is the co-author, along with Ed Frauenheim, Sara Jansen Perry and Emily Hunter, of Organized Innovation: A Blueprint for Renewing America’s Prosperity (Oxford, 2014).

  • Google Shows Us the Way
    I’m always on the lookout for little green shoots of sanity in the world of business. In a realm largely devoted to enriching its investors and top executives, occasionally a business — even one with a household name — will do the right thing. Few public companies now take all stakeholders into consideration when they shape their business strategy: communities, employees, customers, relegating shareholders to their proper position as only one interest group among an entire ecology of interests. A couple years ago, Google did something remarkable, considering the way most corporations consider “business as usual.”

    Here’s how it evolved.: In April 2011, Google experienced a remarkable increase in revenue — 27 percent with a 17 percent leap in income. The problem was that it didn’t live up to the expectations of stock analysts. It’s stock fell. Analysts were not only displeased by the inaccuracy of the forecast — even though the results were astonishingly good — they quibbled with Larry Page’s decision to reward employees with a 10 percent raise. He also hired another 1,900 new workers. In a conference with analysts, he snubbed his nose at all of them by announcing these moves and then shut down the event after rightly calling the companies results “tremendous.”

    No CEO of a public company wants to alienate the stock analysts. They have too much sway over stock price and, therefore, shareholder satisfaction. But Page’s move was a corrective one. In The Daily Beast, Roger Martin offered a great glimpse into the big picture here. The game, he said, that Google was refusing to play was the one where shareholders continually ask for better and better results, quarter by quarter, forcing companies to eventually do anything and everything to goose their bottom line. That often means shutting down crucial lines of business, laying people off, cutting not just fat but muscle and bone from the company’s operations. It’s destructive to everyone except those shareholders who simply want short-term gain regardless of how it cripples a company down the road. The only way to keep increasing the share price is to fuel expectations of greater returns — even though a healthy company can go through long periods of steady-state profit-making. That’s good for everyone, but the greedy shareholder who isn’t willing to hold stock for years and watch the company’s value steadily and slowly go up. (Google wasn’t offering dividends so a greedy shareholder would want only a steadily increasing stock price.) So these shareholders keep demanding pleasant surprises and when that becomes the focus for management, the real goal — producing value for customers — can quickly get obscured.

    “The only way for Google to satisfy the expectations market is to keep on creating positive surprises for its shareholders because every prior positive surprise is built into today’s stock price. Neither Google nor any other company has ever or will ever keep generating positive surprises forever. But many die trying,” Martin wrote. “They keep taking greater risks to meet more unrealistic expectations. The result, both in 2000 and 2008, was a huge and painful meltdown as all the companies trying, in their real operations, to keep feeding the expectations monster started failing spectacularly, taking real performance and expectations down with them.”

    We’re heading down the same road — we never really got off it. The quiet emergency we face in our economy and in the world of business management is to find a new GPS with which to guide our growth. Keeping shareholder value — and by that we now mean short-term growth in stock price — as our lodestar in the executive suite will only widen the perilous income gap in the developed world. And it will also lead to bubbles in stock price that always burst. Google, and some other companies, are apparently waking up to the this and taking steps away from the quarterly report mindset that is a central part of what’s eroding our economy.

    Peter Georgescu is the author of The Constant Choice. Follow him on Twitter.

Mobile Technology News, March 27, 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.

  • Get A Crowd Sourced Opinion Fast with Hammer for iPhone

    Americos Technologies’ co-founders Gaurav Khanna and Amit Khanna have found their popular quick opinion no-cost app Hammer for iPhone has been selected to the App Store’s What’s Hot section. Hammer, which was released in late 2013 for iOS, Android and as a web app, has been called “insanely […]

    The post Get A Crowd Sourced Opinion Fast with Hammer for iPhone appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • NPR Now on iTunes Radio

    As it continues to grow, iTunes Radio is continually adding content but until this week, news and information wasn’t there.  Now you can listen to all of the great news and content on NPR through iTunes radio.  The new addition is full streaming of NPR content to your iPhone, iPad, Mac or […]

    The post NPR Now on iTunes Radio appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Tim Armstrong: AOL Launches "ONE," an Automated Ad Platform for Brands and Advertisers
    SAN FRANCISCO –  AOL announced today the creation of ONE, a platform for both buyers and sellers of digital media to transact.  We sat down with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong after he presented the news as a keynote at the AdTech conference here.

    He speaks about the “mechanization” of the advertising and media business and the new role of AOL.   He speaks about the alliance with IPG Mediabrands, which will us the new platform as the charter agency.

    Earlier we published this interview about ONE with Kristi Argyilan, President of IPG Mediabrand’s Magna Global unit.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • IBM's Watson And The Human Genome
    One of the great scientific triumphs of our time has been mapping the human genome.

    Completed in 2003, the Human Genome Project identified and mapped all 20,500 genes that control human development and described the function of each. And thanks to advances in technology, we can now calculate, in just a few minutes for under $1,000, what once took $1 billion and two decades.

    However, despite these significant advances, only a few patients have benefitted from the power of genomic information. The DNA map is so large and detailed that it’s hard to follow in any logical direction. As a result, doctors today are struggling to use DNA insights in treatment.

    The difficulty of using genomic information is tragic for individuals diagnosed with life-threatening diseases like cancer. Genome sequencing can let doctors compare healthy cells in the patient’s body to cancer cells, and allows them to identify the specific genetic mutations driving the growth of the cancer. But that doesn’t automatically tell them what to do next.

    For example, if a patient has glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer with a five-year survival rate under 10 percent, doctors might spend months trying to correlate the genetic drivers of the disease with relevant treatment options after sifting through medical literature, drug databases and clinical studies. Not only is this process expensive and time-consuming, but it is available to very few patients. Instead, most glioblastoma patients will receive the standard of care: brain surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation.

    Now, some of the world’s leading cancer centers are working together to pioneer new, helpful technologies. Along with the New York Genome Center, we announced last week that NYGC will use cognitive computing to evaluate the genetic information in individual cancer cases and then comb the literature and databases of treatment options, enabling doctors to offer more personalized treatment plans.

    A new prototype of the IBM Watson cognitive computer has been designed specifically for genomic analysis and will power the project. The New York Genome Center is going to take advantage of Watson’s ability to understand human language from journals and lab notes, and test its ability to help doctors find relevant information.

    The result could lead to personalized cancer treatment at a level and scale we’ve never seen before. Watson could aid oncologists as they make treatment decisions that target genetic drivers of disease.

    The New York Genome Center says that Watson offers the hope and promise for advancing DNA-based treatment. These types of systems have the power to revolutionize how doctors practice genomics, speed up the opportunity for personalized care and improve outcomes for patients with some of the most challenging diseases.

    My company also believes that Watson will continue to play an increasingly important role in making sense of the amazing DNA map at our fingertips, allowing doctors to make better healthcare decisions in partnership with their patients. As biology grows more complex, we will require increasingly sophisticated information science tools to sift through evidence.

    We are eager to move forward with Watson and genomics. Cognitive computing just may be the answer we’ve been looking for to translate genomic insights into smarter care.

  • GoPro Over A Waterfall With Dane Jackson As He Kayaks Down Mexico's La Tomata
    If “going over a waterfall” is on your bucket list but you don’t want to get wet, here’s the next best thing.

    Kayaker Dane Jackson went over the 60-foot La Tomata waterfall in Veracruz, Mexico, and the whole thing was caught on tape from multiple angles. Jackson even wore a GoPro camera on his helmet to give you the soaking-wet first-person perspective.

    The video was posted to YouTube earlier this week by the company that makes the camera.

  • NYT CEO: We Have to Get Back to Ad Growth
    The New York Times must halt its digital advertising decline as a priority, says CEO Mark Thompson, even as he launches another paid digital service.

    Advertising, which historically has only ever grown since digital media are themselves growing platforms, fell again by a small amount during the publisher’s last quarter.

    “We are absolutely determined to get digital advertising back to growth,” Thompson tells Beet.TV. “We launched our native advertising product back in January – we have a number of contracts already signed – it could build, over time, to be a significant revenue source for us. We will be innovating elsewhere in digital advertising.”

    Thompson says “custom solutions” like page takeovers and native advertising are “the highest-value inventory” in the NYT’s ad arsenal, but “routine banner advertising” is increasingly being sold by programmatic algorithms because “data is king.”

    Thompson also unveiled an “express,” mobile-only news app, NYT Now, due to launch on April 2 at $8 per month.

    He was interviewed by Beet.TV at the FT Digital Media Conference.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • Tweeting astronaut on Space tech
    What’s it like to tweet from Space?
  • Hula, The STD App, Managed To Offend All Of Hawaii
    It’s a good time to be an awkward spring breaker. After all, there’s an app that helps you get laid in any situation. There’s Grindr for gay hook-ups, Tinder for straights, 3ndr for threesomes, and Pure for making sweet love. There’s even an app to find out if you’re good at sex at all.

    And now, after you try them all out, there’s an app that helps you get tested for STDs.

    That app is called Hula, because, according to an earlier version of its marketing, “it helps you get lei’d.” By connecting users to various STD testing facilities and providing a Yelp-like platform to review them, Hula allows users to make their results public, thus taking out some of the awkwardness and secrecy surrounding HIV and STD discussions.

    CEO Ramin Bastani explains on the company’s website that, “I started the company in 2010 because a girl slapped me in the face after I asked if she’d been tested … There has to a better way to have this conversation.”

    While Bastani’s intentions — promoting better sexual health — are hard to argue with, he has recently come under attack by many who think the app’s name is offensive. Hula, after all, is a traditional Hawaiian dance considered by many indigenous Hawaiians to be sacred, and many Hawaiians have expressed anger that hula would be used to promote sex.

    Dr. Diane Paloma, the director of the Native Hawaiian Health Program at Queens Medical Center in Honolulu, told the Huffington Post that “The biggest offense to me was the inappropriate use of hula and a vital piece of Hawaiian culture and the use of ‘getting lei’d’.”

    Paloma also pointed to the inherent irony of the name, since the native Hawaiian population experienced considerable demise after westerners introduced infectious diseases — such as venereal disease — to the islands.

    But Bastani swears Hula is not a hook-up app and that the company meant no harm. (The “getting lei’d” phrase has since been removed from the website and all marketing materials.) “The vertical we’re interested in is sexual health,” he told the Huffington Post. “Our initial thought behind the name was based on its popular cultural association. Anything Hawaiian — palm trees, luau, lei — represents a sense of beauty and being relaxed. Those two feelings are the opposite feelings that most people have around healthcare and health in a bad position.”

    While Bastani has been consulting with Paloma to better understand Native Hawaiian concerns, he says he has no plans to change the name.

    But pressure is mounting. After various local media outlets in Hawaii covered the story, a petition on change.org demanding the name be changed has picked up steam. Petitioners say that the use of hula in this way “harms native Hawaiians everywhere.”

    The petition is still far from its goal of 100,000 signees, but perhaps Bastani just needs a good alternative name to edge him along. Something that addresses his app’s do-good intentions, sexual innuendo, and venereal disease focus all in one neat package.

    Might we suggest ‘Missionary’?

    CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that the change.org petition had a goal of 10,000 signees. It is 100,000.

  • 200 Girls Learning How to Code in One of the Oldest Indian Cities in the World
    Over the past few years, Iridescent has been growing and I dont have as much contact with participants as I did before. I miss that fuel. But thankfully, every few weeks, some stories of people come through — that just make me stop and stare in amazement.

    Like this one.

    Senthil Kumar is an engineer at Qualcomm in Bangalore. His sister, Mani Mala, is an educator in Madurai, one of the oldest cities in the world (actually 2500 hundred years old).

    They learned about Technovation and took it upon themselves to bring Technovation to the young women of Madurai.

    The logistics of this undertaking are what makes this story of grit so inspiring. It really brings perspective to first-world petty griping! Some background on Madurai. It is famous primarily for its old, old, old, beautiful temples. People grow rubber and the city is known for its cultural traditions.

    That is from a tourist’s point of view. But what about its youth? They aspire just as young people all over the world. And that is the story of Senthil. I did a quick interview with him trying to understand how he became so driven and motivated. Listen and be inspired!

    Senthil and Mani Mala wanted to provide more opportunities to the young women in Madurai and recruited more than 200 women from two local universities to meet on the weekends and work through the Technovation curriculum.

    They dont have internet, but that doesn’t stop them.
    Senthil takes the night bus every Friday night from Bangalore (a 10 hour bus journey), reaches Madurai on Saturday morning. Teaches the girls. They work around the internet issue using an offline version of App Inventor. Senthil downloads the girl’s code on flash drives. He does the 10 hour night journey on Sunday night and goes straight to work on Monday.

    He has been doing this for weeks. (The Technovation program lasts 12 weeks).

    Their biggest need right now is for mentors who can help ease the load on Senthil and Mani and support the young women towards completion of their apps and business plans.

    Imagine if these young women came to Silicon Valley to present their technology solutions for a better world! It would change the baseline and horizons for the young women of Madurai.
    A step towards Empowering the Third Billion.

    Photos courtesy of Mani Mala

  • Bills Banning Online Gambling Introduced In Congress

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Lawmakers from both parties introduced legislation in the House and Senate on Wednesday aimed at banning online gambling, setting the stage for an uncertain battle in Congress.

    The measures are aimed at reversing a 2011 decision by Attorney General Eric Holder that a 1961 law used in recent years to curb Internet gaming only barred sports betting. The bills introduced Wednesday would broaden the prohibition to where it stood before Holder’s ruling.

    Three states have legalized online gaming since the Justice Department’s 2011 ruling: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Others have been considering doing so in an effort to find lucrative new sources of revenue.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chief Senate sponsor, is running for re-election this year and has been seeking to shore up conservative support for the June GOP primary. The House version is sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. Both sponsor’s states have histories of curbing gambling.

    Graham said that because of the Justice Department decision, “Virtually any cellphone or computer can again become a video poker machine. It’s simply not right.”

    Chaffetz said restoring the earlier interpretation of the 1961 law would be “putting the genie back in the bottle.”

    Each bill has co-sponsors from both parties, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who controls his chamber’s agenda, has supported legalizing online poker.

    Nevada’s other senator, Republican Dean Heller, favors Internet poker in Nevada and wants to let states decide whether to permit poker online. He also thinks a major expansion of online gambling would be “bad for Nevada and for the country,” Heller spokeswoman Chandler Smith said.

    Sheldon Adelson, a major financial backer of GOP candidates and a casino owner, has said he will spend money to try halting online gambling.

  • Yik Yak App Makers Do the Right Thing

    When I wrote about Yik Yak recently, this new social app was making headlines for being used inappropriately, and dangerously, by high school students across the country. Incidences of cyberbullying in Chicago and Georgia, followed by an anonymous bomb threat at my daughter’s school, in San Clemente, CA, quickly placed Yik Yak at the top of every parent’s and educator’s “Least Favorite App” list.

    My 18-year-old daughter, who, like many, downloaded the app after it became an overnight sensation, told me that within 24 hours of the lockdown, kids trying to use the app anywhere on or near the school could not. Curious about this, I contacted Yik Yak and spoke to co-founder Brooks Buffington.

    “We were naïve,” Buffington told me. “We designed the app primarily for college students. Using the app the way we intended it to be used requires a certain amount of maturity and responsibility, we were idealistic about who possessed that.”

    When Brooks Buffington and Tyler Droll, two recent graduates of Furman University, created Yik Yak last fall, their vision was to make a “virtual bulletin board,” or a messaging system that would serve as a blank slate for random thoughts or postings. Its anonymity is a major feature, says Buffington, “because that guy in the back row of your science class might be the funniest guy you never hear.”

    The other feature that makes Yik Yak unique is that the app uses GPS location data to bring comments to a user’s feed from other users nearby. In other words, it enables and encourages communities to share information within a geographical boundary, like a college campus or sporting event. A story Buffington likes to tell about the app’s “ideal” use happened last winter break when a college freshman missed his flight home and returned to school to find his dormitory locked. He posted his predicament on Yik Yak, and was quickly offered a couch to crash on by an upperclassman.

    Unfortunately, as we have learned from Yik Yak’s predecessors — including Ask.fm, Kik, and Snapchat — social apps tend to gain notoriety not for the ways they bring people together for good, but rather for how they enable users to communicate hurt or harm. Our knee-jerk, and normal, reaction to learning about the nefarious use of an app to label it “bad” and then counsel our kids to delete it from their phones. But this is a short-term solution, for as sure as the day is long, a new app will come along to take the place of every app they delete.

    That’s why what Buffington and Droll did next is worth knowing about.

    After finding out how Yik Yak was being used by watching the news, the pair immediately contacted Apple and requested an expedited review for their new app, which they were granted; this enabled them to quickly change the app’s age rating to 17+ (parents take note: you can place restrictions on under-17-year-old children’s phones that block them from downloading apps based on this rating).

    When some Chicago-area high schools made the news for reported incidences of cyber bullying on Yik Yak, the pair blocked the entire city of Chicago from using the app. Then Buffington spent an entire day manually, and painstakingly, applying “geo-fences” — or virtual geographic perimeters — around every school in Chicago by using their GPS coordinates. This effectively blocked students from being able to use the app when on or near a school.


    Once they saw this worked, the Yik Yak team conducted a Google search to look for a company that could help them geo-fence middle and high schools across the country. That’s how they found Maponics.

    Maponics, based in Vermont, is a company that “builds and defines geographic boundaries,” primarily to offer rich data on school attendance zones, information that strongly influences real estate valuation. According to Will Marlow of Maponics, “Yik Yak reached out to us to see if Maponics’ “location data'” could be used to prevent elementary, middle and high school students around the country from accessing the app.”

    It turned out that Maponics’ had already “mapped” nearly 85 percent of the U.S. high school population, so they were able to effectively help Yik Yik, still in its bootstrapping phase (read: cash-poor), place “geo-fences” or virtual walls around schools, thus blocking kids from using the app. (Schools not yet mapped by Maponics can contact Yik Yak directly and one of its owners will manually input the school’s location.)

    “It’s disheartening to see our app being used in an unintended way,” says Buffington. “We don’t want to see negative events become the face of the company. Every social app has its growing pains, we want to be the ones that are still around in two years or more.”

    Because that anonymous kid in the back row just might be the funniest kid you don’t know.

    What Parents and Educators Can Do To Monitor Social Apps:

    1. Prevent your under-17-year-old from downloading apps rated 17+. If they have an iOS device: Go to “Settings,” select “General” and tap “Enable Restrictions.” You can set restrictions for “Installing Apps” and “In-App Purchases” here (the slider should read off.)
    2. Since kids are really good at getting around #1 (above), a better solution is to talk to your kids, set rules, and then get familiar or cyber-wise about what they’re up to online so you can see if your rules are being followed. If you need a little help with this (especially with younger kids) you might consider installing software, like SpectorSoft, that records and replays all of your child’s Internet activity and provides a detailed report.
    3. Even better than #1 or #2 is to advocate for digital literacy or “cyber civics” lessons to be taught at your school. Understanding how (and why) to be safe and respectful online is an indispensable skill in our networked world. Besides, the best Internet block or filter in the world is the one kids carry around between their ears. Let’s teach them how to use it!
  • To Land a Job, Know How Employers Use Technology to Hire
    Effective job search strategies began changing in the mid-1990s with the appearance of the Internet. In the last few years, the widespread use of search engines and the growth of social media have changed recruiting in ways that are transparent to most job seekers. Not understanding those technological changes makes job hunting more challenging (and discouraging).

    What Has Changed About Effective Job Search?

    Recently, employers have turned to technology to help them manage the increasingly large numbers of applications and resumes they receive, an average of 250 responses for each job posting. That volume of resumes, combined with the more widespread use of search engines and social media, has created technology “traps” that job seekers need to understand in order to avoid them.

    New Technology Used by Employers.

    Employers are using technology in three major ways that are transparent to job seekers:

    1. Social media provides “social proof.”
      Employers compare the resumes and applications submitted by job seekers with what social media shows them. Do the dates, employers, job titles, education, etc, agree with the application or not? Do the other social media activities (LinkedIn groups, etc.) support the expertise and accomplishments claimed on the resume? Applicants who lack online validation of the “facts” on their resumes have a handicap. This is why LinkedIn and Google Plus Profiles can be a job seeker’s best friend.
    2. Search engines provide fast/cheap “background checks.”
      A 2010 study by Microsoft revealed that 80% of employers used search engines to discover information about job applicants. Beyond “social proof” of the resume or application, this research is a quick and cheap version of a background check. Searching through social media can help a job seeker by impressing the employer with positive information about activities and accomplishments. Or it can hurt the job seeker by uncovering potential problems and bad behavior.
    3. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) manage resumes.
      Resumes submitted to many employers, particularly large employers, are often stored in a database known as an applicant tracking system. Use of an ATS makes the keywords used in resumes even more important than in the past. A resume which doesn’t contain the “correct” keywords (those the recruiter is using to search through the ATS for qualified applicants) will not be displayed to the recruiter by the ATS. Consequently, without the appropriate keywords in your resume, your resume will not be seen, no matter how “perfectly qualified” you are for the job.

    How Job Seekers Can Climb Out of Those Technology Traps

    Job seekers can improve the probability of landing a job through their use of technology. Employers expect job seekers to intelligently use current technology as a demonstration of technical savvy and also as a demonstration of appropriate technical skills for today’s workplace. Not leveraging these technologies makes a job seeker look out-of-date, lazy, or both.

    • Use LinkedIn and Google Plus to be findable.
      Be sure potential employers find good information about you when they do their research! This is where LinkedIn and Google Plus can be your best friends. Employers hire “sourcers” to search the Internet for qualified candidates, so create robust LinkedIn and Google Plus Profiles to ensure that a sourcer’s Google search on terms like your job title or key skills finds you.
    • Manage your online reputation.
      Be careful of public online activity. Job seekers regularly lose out on opportunities because of damaging posts they have made in social media. And, job seekers without their own positive visibility (e.g. LinkedIn and Google Plus) are vulnerable to losing opportunities because they look out of date or because of mistaken online identity.
    • Research employers online.
      Research will make you a more effective candidate and will also hopefully keep you from wasting your time trying to land a job you would hate. What are their products or services? What is their latest news? Who are their officers? Are they doing well or in financial difficulty? Do you know any employees (or know anyone who knows a current employee)? Impress employers with how interested you are in them and their jobs by doing this research and including the results in your applications, resumes, and interviews.
    • Customize resumes to each opportunity.
      Demonstrate your technical capabilities by customizing your resume to the specific requirements of the job posting you are applying for. Use the employer’s name and job title in the resume – “Objective: [their job title] for [employer name]” for example. Then, trump the ATS by analyzing the keywords used on the job description, and being sure to include the keywords appropriate for you in the resume you submit. This should increase the likelihood that your resume will appear in the ATS search results for that job.

    (Read How to Find the Right Keywords for You and How to Use Keywords in Your Resume for more information.)

    Bottom Line

    The good news, according to the U.S. Department of Labor is that, every month, over 4,000,000 people do connect with jobs. So your job search is NOT Mission Impossible!

    Follow Susan on Google+ for more job search tips!

    Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for Job-Hunt.org. This piece first appeared on WorkCoachCafe.com.

  • 3D Printed Skull Saves Young Woman's Life (GRAPHIC VIDEO)
    3D printing has been touted for its ability to whip up delicious sweets, clothing, musical instruments and even cars. But as you can see in the somewhat gruesome video below, it can also save lives.

    A 22-year-old Dutch woman with a life-threatening brain disorder was recently given a whole new cranium, thanks to the help of the innovative technology. Doctors at Utrecht Medical Center in the Netherlands used a 3D printer to build a plastic prosthetic bone for what they said was the first full-skull transplant, Dutch News reports. The surgery was performed in December, lasting 23 hours.

    “Implants used to be made by hand in the operating theatre using a sort of cement which was far from ideal,” Dr. Ben Verweij, a neurologist who led the medical team at Utrecht, told Dutch News. “Using 3D printing we can make one to the exact size. This not only has great cosmetic advantages, but patients’ brain function often recovers better than using the old method.”

    The woman who received the transplant suffered from an abnormal skull-thickening condition, which was compressing her brain and impairing her ability to make facial expressions, according to Holland’s NL Times. If left untreated, the condition could have turned fatal.

    “The patient has her sight back entirely, is symptom-free and back to work, Verweij told Utrecht Central. “It is almost impossible to see that she’s ever had surgery.”

    Though the Dutch operation is considered the first full-skull transplant using 3D printing, an American man in 2013 underwent a similar surgery, in which 75 percent of his skull was replaced with an implant printed by 3D technology.

    GRAPHIC VIDEO: This Dutch-language footage shows doctors opening the patient’s brain.

  • First Asteroid Ring System Observed Between Orbits Of Saturn & Uranus (VIDEO)

    Astronomers have discovered rings around an asteroid-like body whose orbit is between those of Saturn and Uranus. At just 250 kilometres across, Chariklo is the smallest body so far found to have rings. Previously, only the giant planets — Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune — have been seen sporting them.

    Published online today in Nature, the finding indicates that rings may be a more common feature than previously thought. The discovery was an accident and a surprise, says lead author Felipe Braga-Ribas, an astronomer at the National Observatory in Rio de Janeiro. Rings are interesting celestial features, as they are often a first step in the formation of planets and moons. But matter would typically struggle to stay stable around a body with only a tiny gravitational pull. “We thought that maybe having rings was linked with the mass of the object. So finding them on a small object was very unexpected,” he says.

    rings 2
    Artist’s impression of Chariklo’s rings

    Chariklo belongs to a class of objects called Centaurs, which traverse the outer Solar System in unstable orbits and can share characteristics with both asteroids and comets. Because they are small, dark and far away, studying them is a challenge, Braga-Ribas says. His team discovered the rings while observing the way in that the asteroid blocked out light from a distant star as it passed between the star and Earth on 3 June 2013.

    The researchers found a dip in brightness, as expected, when the asteroid traversed the star. But they also detected two much smaller dips, both before Chariklo passed in front of the star, and after. Piecing together results from telescopes at seven sites across South America, the team deduced that the blips were caused by two distinct, narrow rings that were respectively 7 and 3 kilometres wide. The same technique was used to discover the rings around Uranus in 1977.

    Circular origins

    Finding rings around Chariklo solves a puzzle about the object, says Braga-Ribas. Analysis of the light coming from the asteroid had previously shown its composition changing over time. A ring system made of ice, which is sometimes seen head-on but at other times shrinks to just a thin line when viewed side-on, would neatly explain the changes, he says.

    Francesca DeMeo, a planetary scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, says the results are very convincing. “It would be really hard to explain the measurements in any other way,” she says. But how the rings formed remains a puzzle. The authors suggest that another small body could have hit Chariklo, sending debris from both bodies into a disk. Other possibilities are that a disk formed from material that was spun off from Chariklo as it rotated, or that the body released dust or ice as it travelled, much like a comet. All are plausible, says DeMeo.

    A big question is how the rings can be stable, given the asteroid’s tiny mass. If an impact caused them, it would have to have occurred at very low speed for the particles to remain in the Centaur’s orbit. But however they formed, kilometre-sized moons are likely to be ‘shepherding’, or constraining, the rings, and preventing the debris from dissipating, says Braga-Ribas.

    James Bauer, an astronomer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, says that studies of the rings’ composition will hint at their origins. Chariklo is one of hundreds, if not thousands, of small bodies in the outer Solar System that have so far been little studied. Although Chariklo could be alone in having rings, Bauer adds that this is unlikely.

    “I think there is a good chance we’ll see another ring system around a small body, somewhere in the outer Solar System,” he says. “If you start birdwatching and see a bird for the first time, the chances are it’s going to be a common bird.”

  • 'Instacart' App Does Your Boring, Weekend-Ruining Grocery Shopping For You
    It’s not the morning commute, the climb to a fifth-floor walkup, or the pressure of being surrounded by the best and the brightest in the world. In New York City, what truly separates the weak from the strong is the weekly trip to the grocery store.

    It doesn’t matter if you’re Team Whole Foods, Team Trader Joe’s, or Team I Travel An Hour To The Secret Target in Harlem, grocery shopping often involves being pushed by angry women in yoga pants who will be damned if you get the last bag of kale and standing behind men who just cannot decide which cheese to get.

    So when someone else offers to do the grocery shopping for us, we’re quick to jump at the chance to avoid all that hassle. Enter Instacart.

    The free iOS app, which got its start in San Francisco and made its NYC debut on March 26, lets customers select grocery items from their local stores. For a $7.99 fee, the order will be delivered within two hours (or at a time of the customer’s choosing).


    Grocery delivery services are nothing new. After all, Fresh Direct and Max Delivery have been in the game for awhile now, as have services like Google Shopping Express, the same-day delivery service that has been gaining traction in San Francisco. Instacart offers customers a one-hour delivery option from their local store sans a minimum amount.

    Another benefit? A personal touch.

    At least that’s what Emma, my Instacart delivery person, told me.

    “The difference is that it’s an actual personal shopper just for you,” she said. “Your food isn’t coming out of a warehouse and being put in a box and dropped on your doorstep.”

    Having a personal shopper can make a bit of a difference. For example, the food delivered to the office (a bunch of bananas, a mango, and some strawberries) was ready to eat, just as if I had selected it from the grocery store myself. With the app, customers also have the option to select alternate items in case one of their original choices is of stock. (That was the case with that mango you see there.)

    How do you like them bananas?

    “The company’s motto is to just pick what you would eat,” Emma tells me. “Remember that it’s a person getting this food.”

    While that seems like common sense, anyone who has had groceries delivered can vouch that it’s a risky business. You might open your box to a cracked egg, bruised apple, or smaller-than-expected eggplant.

    The entire Instacart process was pleasant. The app is beautifully designed and easy to operate, the delivery was speedy (I ordered at 11:03 a.m., and it was delivered at exactly 12:03 p.m.), and my food was delivered in a cute tote (as opposed to a cardboard box) by a very friendly delivery person.

    We can’t lie; the bag is a nice touch.

    The downside? Any grocery delivery is going to be significantly more expensive than just going to the store. Remember the indecisive and angry grocery shoppers? You’re paying someone to tackle those sorts of issues for you, and it’ll cost you. I paid $23 for the Instacart delivery (including tax and tip), but a quick trip down the street revealed those same items would’ve cost about $7 in-store.

    Here’s a breakdown of what the items I bought from Instacart would cost if they were purchased elsewhere:

    *Max Delivery has a $20 minimum, so our very small order wouldn’t qualify.

    Currently, Instacart is only available to Manhattanites living downtown (below 34th Street and excluding the Financial District), but it has plans to deliver to other neighborhoods in the near future.

    “[We are] looking to aggressively expand to the rest of the city and surrounding areas in upcoming weeks as we scale our operations,” an Instacart representative told The Huffington Post.

    Instacart also serves areas of Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago.

  • 'Panic Button' Just One Of The Features Of Smartphone App For Recovering Alcoholics
    CHICAGO (AP) — A smartphone app for recovering alcoholics that includes a panic button and sounds an alert when they get too close to taverns helped keep some on the wagon, researchers who developed the tool found.

    The sober app studied joins a host of others that serve as electronic shoulder angels, featuring a variety of options for trying to prevent alcoholics and drug addicts from relapsing. Adults released from in-patient alcoholism treatment centers who got free sober smartphones reported fewer drinking days and more overall abstinence than those who got the usual follow-up support.

    The results were based on patients’ self-reporting on whether they resumed drinking, a potential limitation. Still, addiction experts say the immediacy of smartphone-based help could make them a useful tool in fighting relapse.

    Mark Wiitala, 32, took part in the study and says the app helped save his life. He said the most helpful feature allowed him to connect to a network of peers who’d gone through the same recovery program. The app made them immediately accessible for an encouraging text or phone call when he needed an emotional boost.

    “It’s an absolutely amazing tool,” said Wiitala, of Middlesex County, Mass. He said he’s continued to use it even though the study ended.

    The study was published online Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

    It involved 271 adults followed for a year after in-patient treatment for alcoholism at one of several U.S. centers in the Midwest and Northeast. They were randomly assigned to get a sober smartphone app for eight months plus usual follow-up treatment — typically referral to a self-help group — or usual follow-up alone.

    The app includes a feature asking periodic questions by text or voicemail about how patients are doing. If enough answers seem worrisome, the system automatically notifies a counselor who can then offer help.

    The panic button can be programmed to notify peers who are nearest to the patient when the button is pushed. It also offers links to relaxation techniques to calm the patient while waiting for help.

    “We’ve been told that makes a big difference,” said David Gustafson, the lead author and director of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He’s among developers of the app, nicknamed A-CHESS after the center. Gustafson said it is being commercially developed and is not yet available.

    Differences in abstinence from drinking between the two groups didn’t show up until late in the study. At eight months, 78 percent of the smartphone users reported no drinking within the previous 30 days, versus 67 percent of the other patients. At 12 months, those numbers increased slightly in the smartphone group and decreased slightly in the others.

    Smartphone patients also had fewer “risky” drinking days per month than the others. The study average was almost 1½ days for the smartphone group versus almost three days for the others. Risky drinking was defined as having more than four drinks over two hours for men and more than three drinks for women. One drink was a 12-ounce bottle of beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor.

    The results for smartphone users were comparable to what has been seen with standard follow-up counseling or anti-addiction medication, said Daniel Falk a scientist-administrator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, which helped pay for the study.

    He noted that alcohol abuse affects about 18 million Americans and that only about 25 percent who get treatment are able to remain abstinent for at least a year afterward.

    Scientists are looking at new ways to try to improve those statistics.

    “There is increasing excitement regarding technology-based tools in substance use treatment, prevention and education,” said Dr. Gail Basch, director of the addiction medicine program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

    Basch, who wasn’t involved in the study, said proven methods for helping prevent relapse include patient monitoring and support from family and peers.

    “A stand-alone mobile app may not be the answer, but one can see how it could fit in nicely,” she said. “A real-time tool, as well as reminders throughout the day, could be very helpful for a recovering brain.”



    JAMA Psychiatry: http://jamapsychiatry.com


    Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner

  • Bletchley code-breaker Roberts dies
    Raymond “Jerry” Roberts – one of the last surviving code-breakers to work at Bletchley Park on high-level Nazi communications – dies, aged 93.
  • Intelligence Spies on Spies on Intelligence

    Marx couldn’t write this “who done it” political spinster tale any better. Groucho Marx, that is. An almost farcical Orwellian Kafkaesque story masterfully textured with innuendo, word play, double speak, skillful theatrical timing of appearances, disappearances and delivering of carefully crafted lines cracking a peep hole into the dark world of surveillance. This is an abysmal abyss, an invisible spying universe forever shadowing human existence in its sticky web of digital networks.

    This latest kink is but another kick in a long, twisted history that is neither the beginning nor the end of spying, and probably surfaced to pander to political winds. But what flavors this one as such a juicy subplot is the allegations made by the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein. Apparently those minding the spy universe, Feinstein and her committee, did a “black bag” job on the CIA that in turn crept around the dust inside her committee’s computers to see what they saw of what the CIA was doing. The CIA Director John Brennan, despite his agency’s checkered past, wants us to believe there is no way this happened. When the spying was on citizens, Ms. Feinstein was no friend and held firm in her staunch support of surveillance until discovering she was not immune. As the saying goes, “don’t poke the bear!”

    In the meantime, damning videos of President Bush era illegal enhanced interrogations of alleged terrorists have been vaporizing under CIA guardianship. All of this national security surveillance stuff, designed to allow us citizens to go about our daily business as usual, is making me insecure. It is no longer a question of who’s the good or bad guy or gal to American’s privacy rights in this unfolding political saga. We clearly have a totally excessive and out-of-control spying culture with systemic infrastructural malaise where Intelligence spies on spies on Intelligence.

    What is known is it’s a dangerous world — always has been. A play for supremacy requires leaders to figure out how to stay ahead of the competition. Henceforth, spying. It is perhaps an even older profession than the “oldest profession.” Around 500 B.C. the Chinese General Sun Tzu wrote in his famous The Art of War, “Enlightened rulers and good generals who are to obtain intelligent agents as spies are certain for great achievements.”

    In ancient Rome, the revered orator Cicero voiced concern over his letters being intercepted and in a letter to his friend Atticus he wrote, “I cannot find a faithful message-bearer. How few are they who are able to carry a rather weighty letter without lightening it by reading.” Roman Emperor Julius Caesar was also known to have built an elaborate spy network to stay ahead of various plots against him. Which ironically proved to fail him. In the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church was the supreme power and employed a powerful surveillance network to protect its interests.

    In the Homeland, America, spying has been a fact since the Revolutionary War. As the nation grew westward, so did spying. From Western Union, the Internet of our Wild West history, there exists a factual record of breaches of privacy and networks of spying. By World War II, the United States embraced the surveillance business by monitoring all telegraph information coming into and out of the country, and created a “watch list” of U.S. citizens suspected of “subversive” activities. Such watch lists have existed since and contains an amazing index of beloved who’s who. Dianne Feinstein is in great company.

    So, not much has changed. The real change over the course of history is how government’s spying strategies have morphed as it has absorbed changes in communication technology. Currently, the Internet has facilitated the concentration and ease with which information gathering occurs.

    It is not only all appendages of government, but public and private corporations as well that are actively or passively partners in surveillance and information gathering. The quest to profile for either monetary or political gain is here forever. Many consumer products, from handheld smart devices to cars and smart homes have enhanced capabilities to turn our inner world over to the metadata highway.

    There was a more innocent previous life of mine when I could actually pardon my angst over domestic spying by faithfully holding onto the enduring and omnipotent Bill Of Rights, and applaud the daring of whistle blowers. Unfortunately, I now accept in a quasi-numb state that there exists a grand canyon full of contradictions between lofty moral sounding platitudes of who we believe we are as a people and the sour bitter reality at the seat of power. I would favor and love this society even more if the same vital resources of an Intelligence Committee, intelligence community and intelligence gathering were about real intelligence, education, that fuels people’s capacity to navigate our universe as self-actualized. However, the Dianne Feinstein revelations point to a very different temper.

    We might as well relax, definitely stay vigilant, (it can’t hurt) enjoy the show and always remember, “Look over there, see it? Smile, you’re on digital camera!”

  • Yes, ICANN
    Freedom of speech is one of the fundamental principles of any successful democracy. Freedom of the Internet goes one step further. It’s a fundamental principle of a cooperative world, protected in large part by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Starting now, people from countries around the world are gathering in Singapore to discuss ICANN’s future; having a conversation that will play out over the course of the next year and culminate with new governance that will have significant implications for all human beings.

    ICANN keeps the Internet secure, stable and interoperable by governing the worldwide system that assigns website addresses and directs Internet traffic. According to the nonprofit organization, its international body of participants dedicate themselves to “one world, one Internet.” That’s a pretty huge responsibility, which is why up until now, the United States Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has taken a seat at the head of the table that oversees ICANN.

    But then word came out that the Obama administration had decided to hand over authority of the nonprofit organization to a non-government entity to be named at a later date. On paper, that’s a head scratcher. Why would any country willingly give up such an influential position to a vital entity with a home base located inside its own borders (Marina Del Ray, California)?

    We can thank the NSA and the Edward Snowden fiasco for that. The growing distrust people have expressed with our government threatens to make ICANN guilty by association. And if globally people voice such concerns about this neutral and vital organization, then ICANN could lose its power, leading Internet governance down a rabbit hole filled with partisan agendas and sectarian action. The ensuing debacle would also deal a serious blow to Net Neutrality, which is already at risk.

    This current state of affairs is truly unfortunate because in truth, the U.S. has been an excellent steward, considering that the intent was never to oversee ICANN, let alone for upwards of 15 years. In 1997, Bill Clinton helped create the organization within his Green Paper proposal for privatizing the domain name system (DNS); the complete fulfillment of which would have relieved us many years ago of its oversight. In spite of that thoughtful (at the time) vision, our impartiality and creation of checks and balances built into the system have led to a rather impressive run, one that has averted partisan politics and lobbyists. And, in truth, ICANN is already run by a carefully designed international cluster of entities and organizations — the U.S.A. is simply the safety container in which it is housed.

    Of course that has continuously raised eyebrows, and since ICANN was formed in 1998, many countries, organizations, and influential individuals have raised concerns about its close links to the NTIA, an entity that falls under the aforementioned umbrella of our very own U.S. Commerce Department. In lieu of recent revelations about the NSA overreaching its charter and purpose by spying on more than just our enemies but our friends and allies as well, we’ve lost a lot of credibility. And as a result, such as in the case of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose private emails and text were monitored by the NSA, we’ve lost key support as well for our stewardship of ICANN.

    So President Obama decided to separate the United States from any accusations of biased behavior and perceived back door access for our spying infrastructure. Such a decision, ultimately for whatever reason, does not come without dangers. I believe that the worst conclusion here would be for the Internet to become fragmented whereby countries and regions dictate their own unique rules and guidelines (in essence their own ICANNs). Countries already exercise their ability to block incoming websites from being accessed on their domestic Internet provider platforms. But imagine if this phenomenon became a widespread epidemic, whereby every country had its own Internet. The World Wide Web would become anything but, leading to an economic and individual rights disaster that would complicate commerce and freedom around the world.

    What we must have is a clear, enforceable, protected solution whereby ICANN does not fall under the influence of the colors of any country’s flag or political leader. Countries like Russia, China and others would relish the opportunity to cast their shadows of across ICANN’s bow. Importantly, ICANN must find a way to rise above the fray, to transcend politics in the name of freedom, technology, economics, and global communications. A viable new oversight solution must come with measures of full transparency and accountability to ensure the viability of its mission. The structure must be ironclad with a series of checks and balances built in that prevents influence or easy changes. ICANN basically needs a charter of protection similar to our Constitution in that it protects the rights of freedom and accessibility for all and enables change only with clear due process and support.

    Whatever new governance structure for ICANN, meant to go into effect in September 2015, will keep providing the entire world with access to a free Internet, without powerful corporations or individual countries pirating the processes or gaining undue advantage in any shape of form. However, if the new structure for ICANN that emerges cannot insure against outside political influence, protect our freedoms, and provide these equal accesses, then the U.S. government must withhold support and revoke its decision to abdicate. The risk is too great and the ramifications of multiple world webs forming too great to allow any other conclusion. The U.S.A. has damaged itself by its unbridled propensity to gather intelligence data on every living thing; yet the truths that we hold to be self-evident are still at our core. In the resurrection of our good standing with citizens of the world who looked up to us as the shining example of freedom and democracy, protecting the integrity of ICANN must be at the top of the list.

Mobile Technology News, March 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.

  • Apple: iOS 7 adoption now at 85 percent
    As of March 23, Apple says 85 percent of active users of iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch) are running some version of iOS 7. This follows figures that showed a majority of users — 52 percent — had adopted iOS 7 just a week after its release last September. By Christmas, it was on 78 percent of compatible devices. Some 12 percent of users are on iOS 6, with the remaining three percent running older devices limited to older releases. The rapid adoption rate of iOS releases continues to be a major security and developer advantage over Android.


  • Meet The Genius Frat Dudes Who Turned Bro Humor Into A Multimillion-Dollar Media Empire
    In 2010, Madison Wickham got a call from his old fraternity brother Ryan Young. Young was training to be a firefighter, but he also had a great idea for a website.
    Wickham cringed.

    A former psychology major at Texas State University, Wickham was working as a front-end Web designer and developer in Austin. Listening to people’s terrible startup ideas went with the territory.

    Young and Wickham had been brothers in the Kappa Alpha fraternity before graduating in 2007. While they were in school, a catchphrase caught on: “Total frat move.” Brothers said it whenever they told ridiculous stories about girls, drinking, and college.

  • Obama To Propose End To NSA Bulk Phone Data Collection, New York Times Reports
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Security Agency may be getting out of the business of sweeping up and storing vast amounts of data on people’s phone calls.

    The Obama administration this week is expected to propose that Congress overhaul the electronic surveillance program by having phone companies hold onto the call records as they do now, according to a government official briefed on the proposal. The New York Times first reported the details of the proposal Monday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the plan. The White House proposal would end the government’s practice of sweeping up the phone records of millions of Americans and holding onto those records for five years so the numbers can be searched for national security reasons. Instead, the White House is expected to propose that the records be kept for 18 months, as the phone companies are already required to do by federal regulation.

    Details of the government’s secret phone records collection program were disclosed last year by a former NSA systems analyst. Privacy advocates were outraged to learn that the government was holding onto phone records of innocent Americans for up to five years.

    In January, President Barack Obama tasked his administration with coming up with an alternative to the current counterterrorism program. Obama also said that the option of having the phone companies hold the records posed problems.

    “This will not be simple,” Obama said. An independent review panel suggested that the practice of the government collecting the phone records be replaced by a third party or the phone companies holding the records, and the government would access them as needed.

    “Both of these options pose difficult problems,” Obama said in January. “Relying solely on the records of multiple providers, for example, could require companies to alter their procedures in ways that raise new privacy concerns.”

    And the phone companies have been against this option, as well.

    In several meetings with White House staff since December, phone company executives came out strongly opposed to proposals that would shift the custody of the records from the NSA to the telecoms. The executives said they would only accept such changes to the NSA program if they were legally required and if that requirement was spelled out in legislation.

    The companies are concerned about the costs of retaining the records and potential liability, such as being sued by individuals whose phone data was provided to intelligence or law enforcement agencies, these people said. The discussions with the White House ceased earlier this year. Industry officials said they had not been in contact with the administration as new options were being considered. The executives have continued to discuss the issue with lawmakers, however.

    The administration’s proposed changes won’t happen right away. The government plans to continue its bulk collection program for at least three months, the Times said.

    The White House does not have the full support of Congress for this option, either.

    The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, has advocated for the program to continue to operate as it does. The California Democrat said she would be open to other options if they met national security and privacy needs.

    It is unclear whether the White House proposal will meet those needs.

    Leaders of the House intelligence committee are expected to introduce legislation Tuesday that would call for a similar option to the Obama administration’s.

    Under the administration’s pending legislative proposal, officials would have to obtain phone records by getting individual orders from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the Times report said. The new court orders would require companies to provide those records swiftly and to make available continuing data related to the order when new calls are placed or received.


    Associated Press writer Marcy Gordon contributed to this report.

  • Big data dating the key to romance?
    Can you find the perfect partner through data analysis alone?
  • Thousands make selfie donation error
    Donations made as part of the selfie craze are mistakenly sent to Unicef instead of Cancer Research UK, while others accidentally ‘adopt’ polar bears.
  • How Social Media Has Distorted Our Ability to Let Go of the Past
    The menus hadn’t changed much since the last time I was there — which was sometime back in the early ’90s.

    My sister-in-law Katya and I wanted a quiet GNO (girls’ night out) away from the kids and husbands. We wanted “unfussy,” where we didn’t have to change out of our jeans, and a slap of lip-gloss would do it. So we chose a “nostalgic” option: a multinational chain restaurant in the neighborhood that’s been around forever.

    The idea of going somewhere “’80s kitsch” appealed to us. As we leafed through the greasy, 40-page laminated menus with photos of all the margaritas and figure-altering appetizer options on offer, Katya looked up at me and said, “I feel like we’re at an airport.”

    I smiled weakly back at her. We both knew we’d make a mistake. The entire restaurant staff cut me off even before I admitted my thoughts out loud. They were banging away loudly at a tired and mechanical rendition of the “I-can’t-believe-I-have-to-do-this-shit-for-a-living” birthday song to a party at least five-tables strong — uncountable because several of the guests were encircling the tables with over-sized plastic cups and balloons. Not exactly the best place for a quiet catchup with your sister.

    And it all got me to thinking that really and truly, some things are best left in the past, to a special place in our minds where those experiences, like margaritas and buffalo wings at a once-beloved watering hole, can be nurtured as a fond memory and, every once in a while, called up to elicit a smile. And that’s it.

    But this generation isn’t familiar with a “natural end” to things. Social media like Facebook won’t let us bury the past where it really does belong: in the past.

    It used to be that we just moved along through life meeting and greeting and befriending people who, for better or for worse, would come and go.

    Now, however, I am “in touch” with just about everyone I’ve ever befriended, and I’m not necessarily sure that’s a good thing. After a cursory Google search, I discovered that 39 percent of respondents to one survey admitted to using the Web to look up former loves. Another set of research noted that “divorce is up 80 percent since the introduction of Facebook.”

    Before social media, we simply accepted that certain relationships and friendships died a natural death. Now we can’t let sleeping dogs lie. We push, we delve, we foray into former relationships, perhaps eager for a “do over” of an experience that we feel like we didn’t get right the first time. Maybe we simply want a repeat performance of something that meant so much to us at one point. It could be that we are simply curious. We’d do well, however, to recall how well the proverbial cat fared in its pursuit.

    But much has already been written about former loves reuniting through social media. I’m talking about the acceptance that “cool” people we’ve met or fun things we did should remain that way: “cool” or even “amazing” if only in our memory. It’s nostalgia and the association of a good feeling with a past event.

    What’s remarkable to me is how much social media has altered our ability to safeguard nostalgia for the gift that it is. By continually revisiting events and people from our past, we waste energy that could be expended in the here and now. How much do you really gain by knowing that a guy in Tucson you were friendly with just made himself a ham sandwich? Sometimes there really is a benefit to “letting go.”

    Keeping up with certain people from our past — good and kind as they may be — is a distraction at best. True, we may have shared history at some point, but ultimately, I would rather use my time focusing on the people who matter in my present, regardless of where they are on the globe. The very notion of “real time” carries so much more weight.

    Katya and I admittedly messed around with happy memories when we shouldn’t have. Visiting the multinational chain was a fun pastime at a certain time in our lives, but frankly, we’ve grown up, moved on and would have been better off catching up tête-à-tête at a local wine bar where 100 percent of our focus would have been on each other. Sometimes it really is best to take “two steps forward” and don’t look back.

    It takes a healthy dose of acceptance to decipher which experiences and people from the past are worth digging up, letting go or keeping.

    Being an expat, it’s part of my world to see loved ones come and go every six months, so I’m grateful for social media, if not dependent on it to keep up with everyone. By the same token, I’m confident that those friends and loved ones who are meant to remain in my life forever and always — outside any technology that facilitates those relationships — will.

  • This Perfectly Satirizes Every 'Serious' Record Collector You Know
    If you know anyone that “seriously” collects records, they are probably exactly like this guy.

    They organize their collection by sections for generic metal, stoner metal,death metal, punk, shoegazer, dream pop, jazz, ragtime, classical, rap, R&B etc. etc. etc. If the records aren’t organized by genre, they might just be ordered chronologically, alphabetically, or maybe even autobiographically (by a timeline of how the owner bought them).

    The record collector will show you the records that changed their life (all of them), and the records you need to own (all of them).

    “I’m not a DJ, but…”

    Enough said.

  • Delta's 'Innovation Class' Makes Networking At 35,000 Feet Easier Than Ever
    What if, instead of dreading who your seatmate might be on your next flight, you looked forward to the experience?

    That’s what Delta Air Lines is aiming for with its newly launched “Innovation Class,” a program that pairs an expert in a chosen field with an up-and-comer in the seat next to them. Delta is billing the experience as “a mentoring program at 35,000 feet.”

    The exclusive program awards both the expert and the up-and-coming professional with free first-class tickets to their destination. During the flight, the two are free to discuss their respective fields. Hopefully, they gain insight and valuable knowledge along the way.

    “We have customers flying with us who are big thinkers and innovators and are changing the world,” Mauricio Parise, Delta’s director of worldwide marketing communications, told CNBC. “We want to bring the ones succeeding in their field together with people who aspire to follow them.”

    According to Delta, the first two participants were Eric Migicovsky, the inventor of the Pebble Smartwatch, and James Patten, an interaction designer. The two flew to the 2014 TED Conference in Vancouver, B.C., last week.

    “It’s very rare to get the chance to sit down with someone in that sort of position and talk about whatever you want,” Patten said in a video for Delta after the flight. “Had we met in another context we probably would have at, at most, a five-minute conversation.”

    Delta’s next Innovation Class flight will feature Sean Brock, an executive chef, on a flight from Charleston, S.C., to the James Beard Awards in New York. To apply for the open seat next to Brock, or to see a list of upcoming flights, visit the Delta Innovation Class website.

    Watch a video of the first Innovation Class flight below:

  • Heard About Bitcoin? Nah, Been There, Done That
    Between the dramatic collapse of Mt Gox, the recent news that a Canadian exchange lost $100,000, the daily reveal of all the new things you can buy (villas, space flights, etc.) and the growing debate about whether it is a currency or a commodity, Bitcoin threatens to fatigue us all into submission.

    Given the chatter — online and in print — you would believe that this is an unprecedented paradigm shift in the evolution of currency. If you are a supporter, this is the digital Messiah. The recent volatility and misdemeanors are all part of building the brave new world, the broken fortunes of a few paving the path to good money for us all. If you are a detractor, this is an irrational delusion and the tool of choice for the modern cyber criminal. It will destabilize our attempts to forge a more robust economy and our only hope lies in effectively corralling Pandora’s new technology genie before it can do too much harm.

    I do not know if Bitcoin is a flash in the pan or if it is the future, though my tendencies are more to the latter. But I do know this is a rerun that we’ve all watched before. Twenty years ago, the Internet was going to produce hypergrowth, destroy the business status quo, and create a world without boundaries. It changed the world eventually, just not quite then and not as dramatically.

    A century earlier, both sides of the Atlantic underwent a bicycle boom as mechanized transport threatened to replace horses. In a chauvinistic world, there was talk of hypergrowth as women could ride these, making the market instantly twice as large. The first major roads were built between towns in anticipation of the hordes of future cyclists. In the end, the car overtook the bike before it could reach this apex.

    Both are evidence of how human emotion can extrapolate hints of promise today into near certainty tomorrow. Hyperbole is the clearest evidence of a bubble in the making, as we all get seduced into believing there are fortunes to be made and status to be minted.

    Bitcoin enthusiasts today are very much recreating the digital equivalent of the California Gold Rush. The currency is the answer to all our modern day problems, they claim. It is “challenging the financial infrastructure of the whole global economy, and even more, it is challenging entire generations of established political and economic theory that that infrastructure is built on”. It is anonymous, infinitely divisible, decentralized and capable of retaining value.

    I hear all that. It is still a rerun, because it is human.

    On July 27, 2007, Ginko Financial — a small nondescript bank of insufficient standing to grace the broadsheets –suspended cash withdrawals abruptly. The head of the bank, Nicholas Portocarrero, made a statement announcing that Ginko’s “reserve has been depleted” and that he had been forced into drastic measures because as soon as he replenished the reserve, people emptied it again almost immediately. “It’s a bank run in essence,” he concluded.

    A per-day withdrawal cap was introduced, though that fell by the wayside within hours. The next day, allegations of fraud began to make the rounds, despite Ginko’s claims that it had total deposits of $192 million. In retrospect, the interest rate of 61 percent promised on the account looked a bit too good to be true.

    On July 30, the bank’s main ATM started working again. Word spread like wildfire and a disorderly queue of people formed to withdraw the $10,000 they were allowed per day. In desperation, Ginko launched an unsuccessful IPO to raise further equity, with the aim of making an ambitious acquisition — a large stock exchange named AVIX.

    It was a bailout by any other name. Tragically, the IPO raised just $25,000 and was abandoned shortly afterward. Portocarrero took to the airwaves to reassure investors, asking them to be patient. “We have both tangible and intangible assets we have spent money to acquire or develop,” he said. “But they cannot simply be turned into cash for people to withdraw.”

    On August 6, Ginko offered depositors two choices: Either continue to wait to get their funds back, or take the equivalent amount in perpetual bonds that might someday be tradable. Three days later, the choice was made for them. Ginko stopped taking deposits, froze all withdrawals, and converted all its deposits into perpetual bonds. Anybody who wanted to get cash was still free to ask, but would get back only a fraction of their claim. Ginko had collapsed.

    The chances are you will never have heard of Ginko Financial. The numbers above are paltry compared to some of the other numbers thrown about at the time. And there was a lot else going on in the real world for it to register on a crowded horizon.

    And that is what makes Ginko remarkable.

    This was a bank run not in the real world of flesh and paper, but one in cyberspace. The numbers above were all virtual dollars — so-called Linden dollars — in an online world called Second Life. However, there were real losses. The Linden dollar, named after the company that owned Second Life, was convertible into U.S. dollars, and the nearly 200 million Linden dollars lost equated to $750,000 in cold, hard cash.

    Bitcoiners, like the rest of us, have short memories — even for events that occurred only a few years ago. There are differences; as history rhymes rather than repeats. But the underlying emotions driving us forward are still the same.

    Money is a testament to human ingenuity. Money is a social construct. History shows us anything — wooden sticks, huge stones, coins, gold, boxes of detergent and now, bits of enigmatic computer code — can function as money.

    Second Life and today, Bitcoin, are proof that we can create an economy and speculation out of thin air if we want — as long as there are other people and transactions to be done. Ginko Financial proved that in time, where you have people and where you have money, our natural biases and yearning for status will lead inevitably to speculation and its critical consequences.

    Once these genies of money were unleashed, Second Life’s economy evolved the way any other economy does. People realized that they could make more money by facilitating and leveraging off others.

    Some users employed teams of fellow programmers to create new alluring digi-luxuries for sale from furniture to clothes, set up sports events, wrestling promotions and so on. This was commerce.

    Others took it one step further and aided the ambition of others by providing them arenas of exchange and lending them money. This was finance.

    Eventually, there were those who, impatient to rush ahead, began to play the changing emotions, the ebb and flow of confidence, and the flows of money around them. This was speculation.

    Rampant speculation is the domain of an advanced and complex economy, that has realized — even if subconsciously — that money is a fluid concept and can be manufactured readily in arbitrary quantities by the confluence of human ingenuity and mass belief. As long as there is confidence and trust, there is money and status to be minted.

    The shifting sands of perception lead to their own bubbles. Bitcoin is but another case in point. Its journey to better or to worse will pass through boom and bust despite best intentions.

    The reason is simple.

    No financial market is truly rational. The term is just a collective noun for the hopes, greed and fears of countless participants, jostling to get ahead. And that emotion will always overload even the most mathematical of formulations.

    It’s an old movie — finance’s equivalent of It’s a Wonderful Life — and this is the latest perennial rerun. Grab the popcorn and enjoy the show.

  • 10 Reasons Why I Will Continue to Give My Children Handheld Devices

    Earlier this month, The Huffington Post ran this article titled “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12.”

    As an educator who advocates for the intentional and appropriate use of technology, I could go on about this forever. But instead I’m writing here as a mother.

    Here are my 10 reasons why I will continue giving my children handheld devices, and all other forms of technology as well.

    1. Because banning things never, ever, ever works.

    Remember when your parents wouldn’t let you watch rated R-movies, so you just went to your friends’ houses to watch them? I think I’d rather have my kids using technology and handheld devices with me beside them. Where I can engage with them, answer questions and limit content if I have concerns.

    2. Problem solving.

    When my kids get really frustrated with not being able to do something, they don’t just quit. My oldest likes to draw. We often draw together, using books or other tools to guide us. One day she could not figure out how to draw a cat and I couldn’t either. Without even asking us, she got her iPad, went to YouTube, looked up tutorials on drawing cats and taught herself with the guidance of the tutorials. She is 7. She draws amazing cats now.

    3. Technology skills.

    Let’s be honest here. We’ve seen what happens when people don’t have access to technology until their later years. (It is called the digital divide.) America is already falling behind in technology skills, making us less employable and harder to train.

    4. Expectations in school.

    I spend a lot of time in classrooms as part of my job. If you really think we should ban handheld devices for children under 12, I hope you have spent some time in classrooms recently. Classrooms of the 21st century engage students in a variety of ways bridging technology and interactive teaching. I once witnessed a third grade class making posters about specific animals, a task many of us are familiar with. But their posters had QR codes embedded on them that would jump to a GLOG (graphics blog) they had created about each animal. Mostly, from handheld devices.

    5. Interest.

    There are children out there who are motivated by technology. They are future coders. Future designers. Future engineers. I want my own kids to see everything technology has to offer. I made their Valentine’s cards light up, because I want their minds to light up with the topics it introduces. They learn to code on Scratch, they practice Spanish on their own devices, and the possibilities are just beginning for them.


    6. Because I care about their brains.

    There is a positive link between video games and brain development that doesn’t get any attention! Yes, it is only one part of the brain and there are many other parts that also need to be developed, but creative thinking and problem solving in a virtual world is something I believe will be beneficial in my children’s future.

    7. Girls.

    I’m raising two ferocious girls. Two girls who are currently very unlikely to get a degree in computer science. I want my children to know they can enter any field they want to, even the tech field. (Twelve percent of computer science degrees currently go to girls).

    8. Balanced life.

    I am 32 years old and still trying to figure out how to balance my technology life. When do I turn my phone off? When do I stop checking email? It is not only something I want to model for my children in my own practice; it is something I also want them to experience on their own. We turn the iPad off when it is time to go to a basketball game. Or climbing. Or gymnastics. They don’t throw fits. They don’t cry for it. They understand that it is one part of their day.

    9. Literacy.

    I’m a librarian. I live and sleep literacy. I’ve watched children learn to read with books, with ebooks, with apps, with flash cards and with cereal boxes. I want my children exposed to any text they will pay attention to. Including when it comes through a handheld device. We know that handheld devices can help with learning, especially when parents are involved with the interaction of the device.

    10. Reality.

    It is 2014. iPhones were introduced seven years ago. Now, half of Americans own smartphones. We should probably embrace what is here and use it to our advantage, rather than fighting with reality.

    Be involved in what your children are interested in. Learn with them. Stop reading “clickbait” articles about technology and instead explore it yourself for a while. Don’t let your own fears about something foreign to you limit the opportunities you give your child.

    This post originally appeared on hipmomlibrarian.com.

    (Some updates for those just reading. Here is my response to hundreds of you concerned with my children being nature deficient and here is my response to those calling me lazy.)

    Photos: Megan Egbert.

    Also on HuffPost:

    via the 2013 ‘Kids Count’ Report

  • The CNN Affect
    Consider the last couple weeks a case study in American infomania.

    Infomania refers to the compulsion to accumulate information, especially news, via cell phone or computer — a kind of Digital-Age hoarding disorder. (The term was coined in 1982 by Elizabeth Ferrarini, whose Confessions of an Infomaniac sounds like a Cosmo article ahead of its time.)

    The pathology of infomania is one of debilitating distraction; the infomaniac obsessively interrupts her experience of the unmediated “real world” with the virtual reality of news and social media. It’s not merely an addiction to technology. It’s an impulse to subordinate the material to the immaterial; in the original sense of the word, the infomaniac blots out things that matter with things that don’t.

    Familiar enough, but what does it look like when the media itself comes down with a case of infomania?

    For two weeks now, U.S. news has been fixated on the nothingness of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Monday’s report that the plane “ended” somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean does little to justify the hundreds of hours of transcripts summing to “No plane, no news, more on that after a brief word from our sponsors.”

    Of course, 24-hour news networks have long understood how to make any news look and sound “breaking” (hire anchors to blare factoids to taste; solicit live comment from specialists, rabble-rousers, the good-looking, etc.; call it analysis; boil down to sensational captions; scroll a never-ending ticker across the bottom for garnish), but a vanished Boeing 777 is less Wolf Blitzer than it is Alfred Hitchcock, and the lesson that mystery teaches journalism is that suspense (built up by the sort of rhetorical misdirection demonstrated here) beats resolution — forget the facts; missing information is more compelling.

    In the last couple days, in what appears to be some kind of shame-faced hangover, the media has even passed off as news a few tidbits of quasi-self-awareness. The kicker is, at least for CNN — whose ratings surged almost 100 percent in prime time last week, with Anderson Cooper leading for three consecutive days against cable’s reigning spectacle, Bill O’Reilly — the affected obsession with Flight 370 is paying off.

    In her book The Interplay of Influence: News, Advertising, Politics, and the Mass Media, Kathleen Hall Jamieson notes that most news stories are framed in one of five modes: (1) Appearance versus reality; (2) Little guys versus big guys; (3) Good versus evil; (4) Efficient versus the inefficient; or (5) Unique or bizarre events versus the routine.

    It’s number five that should give us pause. Welcome to the viral world of animals kissing; to Snowmageddons, funny dances and two-headed babies; to Kanye spoofs and Jean Claude Van-Damme’s “epic split.” Welcome, alas, to Flight 370.

    Two weeks ago, 239 passengers (including three Americans) went missing. That isn’t just unique or bizarre; it’s devastating. And yet: “It’s an incredible mystery full of human drama, with an international element,” gushed one senior CNN executive to The New York Times. “Anything international plays into our hands because we have more reporters to deploy all over the world.”

    So where does one draw the line between tragedy and thriller, between acknowledging victims’ families’ lack of closure and cashing in on a cliffhanger?

    How about, for starters, when “human drama” is used as pretext for bull sessions about black holes, the paranormal, terrorists, the Bible and/or this toy plane. Or when the “international element” is invoked to the neglect of, say, civil rebellion in Syria, Venezuela and Thailand, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, or the terrorist attack in Kabul.

    At the end of the Cold War, saturation coverage of events like Tiananmen Square, the first Gulf War, Black Hawk Down and the fall of the Berlin Wall revealed the power that mass media has to shape Washington’s policy agenda by promoting a felt sense of history as it unfolds. Political scientists even called it “The CNN Effect.”

    But then I’m hardly the first to point out the news media’s dissociation from history: “Cable news is a brutal war for rankings … The media is running wild with the airliner story, as you know, and there is a big reason why: money. The network news doesn’t want to cover important stories,” and here I should mention that this is Bill O’Reilly speaking, “like the IRS and Benghazi.”

  • Technology – The Price of Convenience or The Cure For It?
    Its 1:00pm on a Monday, and I’m chewing away on a project at my current start up. Already having skipped breakfast, and now running through my lunch hour, my brain tells me it’s time for some sort of nutrient to feed my mental engine. So, what’s convenient?

    My coworkers laugh at me, and make references to poison and carcinogens as I shove bundles of McDonald’s french fries into my mouth. Convenience always seems to be the answer to everything in America, whether it’s a way to share data (Dropbox), a way to watch movies from a smartphone (NetFlix), or to fill your stomach with something that resembles nutrition (sorry Ronald).

    When society first embarked on the journey of technology, it was all about doing things better, faster, cheaper, and easier; all monikers of convenience. Before technology, tasks were very manual, and very hand-to-mouth. Picture Farmer John picking cherries at a rate of about a bushel every 3-4 hours, and it’s easy to see why he would want something better.

    But when technology became more prevalent and mainstream, we started to look at it more as a cool way to get stuff with little or no effort. We plugged technology into fast food, making it even faster (albeit not any healthier). We plugged technology into mobile phones, adding capability for internet access, email, and even file sharing. We even leveraged technology in child and pet care, with GPS buzzers to warned us when little Billy wandered off in a crowd, or Twitter-enabled collars so that even Fido could tweet his favorite bark to his band of online followers.

    So does technology offer a cure for convenience? Is convenience so bad that we need technology to save us?

    The saving grace of technology is that we can in fact use it for good, not just for evil. We have smartphone apps that tell us how far we’ve walked, or how many calories we’ve inhaled. We have internet technologies that connect us with doctors, and enable real-time monitoring of health conditions. And technology as a basic enabler has allowed us to turn innovative, positive ideas into real items, through technologies like carbon fiber composite materials which make things stronger yet lighter weight, to manufacturing methods like 3D printing which can make objects in hours instead of days.

    Now that I’ve digested 2 days worth of fat and sodium, I realize that maybe technology doesn’t really “help” in some areas, like fast food…

    Because eating unhealthy was never meant to be product of technology – – no matter how convenient it is…

  • This 'GLIMPSE' Into Milky Way Is Clearest Tour Of Our Galaxy Yet (VIDEO)
    You’ve never seen the Milky Way quite like this.

    A new panoramic view of our galaxy is the result of 2.5 million images captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope — and is the clearest video tour of the galaxy yet made. Just check it out above.

    “If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard as big as the Rose Bowl Stadium to display it,” Robert Hurt, an imaging specialist at NASA’s Spitzer Space Science Center in Pasadena, Calif, said in a written statement. “Instead, we’ve created a digital viewer that anyone, even astronomers, can use.”

    The images were taken from 172 days of observations over a decade-long period as part of the GLIMPSE (Galactic Legacy Infrared Midplane Extraordinaire) project. From intergalactic space, the Milky Way looks a lot like a flat disc, but from our vantage point in the video we can see that most of the galaxy falls within a thin strip.

    “That’s why the GLIMPSE 360 panorama, which covers only 3 percent of the sky, captures over half of all the stars in the galaxy’s disc and over 90 percent of regions where the stars are forming,” the video’s narrator says. “In this panorama we see stars shining brightest at the shorter infrared wavelengths, rendered in blue, while dust clouds light up at longer wavelengths, seen in red. Moreover infrared light can penetrate the dusty smog that fills our galaxy, letting us see wonders that are hidden in visible light.”

    Our cosmic home sure is a thing of beauty.

  • Is Social Activism an Underrated Job Skill?

    A healthy debate is flowing around the skills that students need in order to find jobs. Should learning to program a mobile app take precedence over diagramming iambic pentameter in Shakespeare’s sonnets? Will launching a startup provide a stronger return on investment than an undergraduate degree from a traditional four-year college?

    As the “Chief People Officer” at Microsoft, I see people who take many paths to success in their chosen career. Self-taught coders fresh out of high school, mid-career entrepreneurs, recent college graduates, and parents returning to the workforce all take advantage of a range of education and skills training opportunities that fit their needs and their personalities.

    But there’s one piece of the education-to-career track that is often overlooked: social activism.

    The millennial generation has demonstrated a wonderful ability to fuse empathy with action. So many young people wake up in the morning and ask “How can I make the world a better place? What can I do to help?” Technology often helps turn that impulse into action. Technology can provide youth with access to global viewpoints, connections and experiences.

    As a result, they are aware of injustice in their own backyards and abroad — voices that are silenced, bellies that are hungry, minds that are starved for knowledge, and bodies that wither without life-saving medication. And they want to help. Technology enables them to create solutions to social issues, rally each other to effect change, and crowd-source funds to support causes around the world. It also shines a spotlight on opportunities where young people can ensure the continuation of positive experiences for others, such as teaching children how to read, or raising even more money for local charities.

    Using technology to leave the world a better place than you found it no doubt has an immense impact on society. But what does it mean for business and industry? From my vantage point, these skills matter when recruiting people who will help grow the future of any company or business. Corporations benefit from employees who have translated their concern about a societal issue into concrete action.

    Take Natasha Babayan, a high school senior from Seattle, Washington, an active volunteer at her local Boys & Girls Club, and a member of our internship program. A native of Armenia, Natasha returned to her parent’s hometown a few years ago and was stunned by its inability to rebuild after an earthquake that had struck decades before. She was deeply affected by the hardships she saw people enduring — homes made of steel scraps, leaking ceilings, long walks to fetch water from a well.

    When nonprofit Free The Children brought its community service curriculum, We Act, to her Seattle high school last year, Natasha’s empathy turned to action. She raised money to build schools in the developing world and send filtered water bottles to Ethiopia. She dreams of attaining a degree in international business so she can help strengthen the economies of the developing world. Our society and our economy will be better off because of young people like Natasha who seek to pair their education and career goals with a desire to make the world a better place.

    This Wednesday, tens of thousands of high school students, including Natasha, will be rewarded for their community service at Free The Children’s signature We Day event in San Francisco, which we’re sponsoring through our MicrosoftYouthSpark initiative. This will follow last Friday’s We Day in Seattle, which we also sponsored. It’s our way of saying “thank you” to this generation for caring about the world. If this is our future workforce, we are in great shape.

  • TED 2014: Satellites, Fireflies and Ass-Kickers
    I didn’t really know what to expect from my first TED conference. I am not a techie (far from it), nor rich (at least in the financial sense), so this wasn’t really my native habitat. Nonetheless, I was curious and determined to make the most of the opportunity I’d been presented.

    In truth the first few hours were a bit off-putting with people comparing notes about how many conferences they had attended, how long they had been donors, etc. The capper was an Ivy League professor who, when I said hello, never even asked my name but instead declared, “This is my tenth TED but this year. I am not speaking which makes it sooo much easier for me.” Then he turned and walked away. Ughhh.

    But, fortunately, my determination to keep an open mind paid off and the next four days turned out to be extraordinary. Hugh Herr, robotic prosthetics researcher at MIT, strode onto the stage on his extraordinary robotic legs. At the end of his fascinating talk he introduced Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a professional ballroom dancer who had lost a leg in the Boston Marathon bombing. Wearing her robotic leg, she danced publically for the first time since the attack. As the music faded she burst into tears as did many of us lucky enough to witness her performance.

    I met Avi Reichental, the father of 3-D printing, and understand how it works now — basically a realtime version of the Star Trek replicator. The implications are staggering for potential resource efficiencies, opportunities for consumers to self-manufacture products, and loss of traditional manufacturing jobs.

    Cyber-security expert, Karen Elazari, made the case that hackers are people too and may in fact be the immune system of our global cyber-organism. As a non-geek I had never considered these things before.

    I knew I was with the real deal of geeksville when a robot rolled out onto stage wearing Edward Snowden’s face in a telescreen. From wherever he was physically located, Snowden operated the tele-presencing robot and engaged in a live interview on the TED stage. The entire audience was rapt; both the technology and the controversial subject were compelling. The NSA had declined an invitation to speak but, following Snowden’s big reveal, reversed that decision and addressed the crowd the following day. This is certainly a complicated case and the TED audience seemed just about split on who was most in the wrong.

    I dined with firefly expert Sarah Lewis. I find these glowing creatures so enchanting that when I first saw the movie Avatar and the beautiful bioluminescent night scenes I thought of fireflies and wondered why more people didn’t find our own sparkling Earth environs as magical as those of Pandora.

    A far cry from ferry-like, peaceful fireflies, Ed Yong delivered a creepily entertaining description of parasitic insects that take over the minds of other insects and then blow them up from the inside out; and bacteria harbored in cats, that when ingested by mice, takes over their minds and causes them to seek out cats. He called it “Eat, Prey, Love!”

    I had lunch with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and half a dozen energy and climate experts to discuss global energy issues. For that one hour, talking about natural gas, solar panels, efficiency standards and carbon, I was in an oasis of familiarity.

    Then it was back to TED talks. I was moved by the courageous accounts from the son of a terrorist turned peace activist and a supermodel who had been born with male genitalia but never felt like a boy. I was fascinated by a sports science reporter describing the “Big Bang of Bodies,” as sports have selected for freakishly large or small or disproportionate body types.

    I believe I may have witnessed a future Nobel prize winner in Will Marshall of Planet Labs. His company, started in a garage in Silicon Valley, has developed and are deploying tiny satellites in a full circle around the planet. This will enable realtime monitoring of everything from the expansion of urbanization to deforestation. Had this system been in place the whereabouts of the missing Malaysian Airlines 777 would have been known within hours. Stunningly he announced that their goal was to “democratize satellite data” and so all the information collected by the Planet Labs satellites would be accessible to the public.

    Determined to exercise my body as well as my mind, I got up early two mornings to attend “the class.” I workout hard and regularly, so I was shocked by the intensity of this blend of cardio, yoga, pilates and kickboxing. Through all the butt-burning and sweat-dripping, tiny powerhouse Taryn Toomey kept shouting, “Oh yeah! Stay with it. It’s supposed to feel like that! Inhale! That pain is just all the junk, all the stuff you’re carrying. Let it go. Let it shift! Exhale!” Well, I knew I had “stuff” — everybody does — I just didn’t know I carried mine in my buttcheeks!

    And so I returned from the TED immersion experience with my back-side battered and my mind broadened. I know a bit more than I did, about things I hadn’t thought about before. I met fascinating, and a few irritating, people. I stretched my perspective. Now I’ve got to try to do the same with my seized-up glutes!

  • AngularJS: One Framework to Rule Them All?
    Last week, Brad Green, Director of Engineering and manager of AngularJS at Google published a blog post about the upcoming AngularJS 2.0 design and changes. The dispatch was nicely timed, following the publicity at O’Reilly’s Fluent conference, which was held March 11-13th in San Francisco. The conference covered the full scope of Web Platform and its associated technologies. In terms of popularity, AngularJS could be considered Fluent’s Best In Show.

    “We got far more proposals on Angular, not just mentioning it but focused on it, than on any other front-end framework. The Angular community clearly came looking to talk,” said Simon St. Laurent, Senior Editor at O’Reilly Media and Fluent co-chair. St. Laurent chaired the event with Peter Cooper, the editor of JavaScript Weekly and co-host of the JavaScript show.

    AngularJS is an open source JavaScript MVC framework maintained by Google. The framework is unique in that it allows developers to extend HTML syntax to express applications’ components clearly and succinctly. Data binding and dependency injection eliminate the need to write the bulk of the code that developers are currently writing. Plus, its templating system works well with any backend technology as all of the programming happens within the browser.

    “In my daily work I try to avoid ‘frameworks.’ When people use the term framework they usually mean ‘a collection of things tightly coupled’ and I prefer to work with loosely coupled small modules that can be combined together for simple and efficient large applications,” said Mikeal Rogers, CTO of Getable. Rogers has been actively involved in the JavaScript community since 2006 and has run half a dozen conferences for node.js and JavaScript.“I find that the best ideas of any framework get adopted, perpetuated, and eventually taken for granted by a larger ecosystem of small modules, sometimes continuing long after the framework is considered ‘hot.’”

    In what seems like a Cambrian Explosion of Javascript frameworks, web-developers must discern between hype and true advantage when deciding what to learn. The choice of framework is subjective and their application is largely dependent on the task at hand, but there is no denying Angular’s growing influence.

    “It just seemed to just catch fire,” said Burke Holland, Developer Evangelist for Kendo UI. Holland gave a presentation titled “AngularJS And The Computer Science Of JavaScript” during Fluent. “We have things like the ng-newsletter that’s come out, the docs have gotten so much better, the amount of third party libraries for integrating with Angular have just exploded. It is absolutely, right now, the most prolific Javascript framework that we’ve seen, possibly ever. I’ve been really impressed with how much people have been able to do with it given that it’s, on some levels, a complex framework. The community has been able to provide the necessary materials for people to be successful, enough so that the enterprises are making big bets on Angular being their application platform of choice for browser apps.”

    Burke has been working on a set of Angular extensions for Kendo UI, which is a web, mobile and data visualization JavaScript framework. He made the decision to pursue the extension when requests for Backbone and Knockout extensions subsided and the demand for Angular became overwhelming. This exemplifies the level of community involvement that AngularJS has received. Prior Google projects like Dart, Google Closure and Go have not experienced this level of contribution.

    “Most long-time open source contributors would consider it a negative that Google is involved if they are looking to contribute and build an ecosystem. Angular has done a good job of countering that by building Angular in its own GitHub organization outside of either Google Code or Google’s minimal GitHub [organization]. Angular also has a number of fantastic people out promoting it that are more closely associated with it than Google is, Brian Ford being the most notable, and he’s fantastic,” said Rogers.

    “In terms of usage and adoption, having a ‘Google stamp of approval’ certainly helps with a certain group of people while being community supported helps with another. Angular has somehow captured the ‘best of both worlds.’”

    AngularJS certainly has the support necessary to survive and thrive. A large community has embraced the framework and Google has a dedicated team contributing to its development. Although other frameworks and languages may have garnered similar followings before dissolving, AngularJS 2.0’s upcoming launch and the promise of Web Components seem to indicate that the best is yet to come.

    “Angular is paving the way for Web Components because it really does force developers to re-think. By the time Web Components become a standard, people will be very used to the concept of creating their own HTML tags,” said Holland. “Right now it feels kind of dirty, but when it’s an actual browser standard, people will feel much, much better about it. That’s why I think Angular is so important to the future of the web, I really do.”

    Curious if AngularJS is the right framework for you? Take the quiz:

  • Why Malaysia Airlines Texted (Yes, Texted) Families That There Are No Survivors
    When Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 decided this morning that it would cease the search for survivors after new flight data proved it crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, the company sent a text message to the families of the passengers.

    According to ABC News, it read as follows:

    Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived. As you will hear in the next hour from Malaysia’s Prime Minister, we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean.

    The text message immediately set off a firestorm, with many on the Internet quick to criticize the airliner for not reaching out to relatives by more appropriate means.

    The families were informed by text message?! Latest updates on the #MH370 news here: http://t.co/YY2SpdshxK

    — Mashable (@mashable) March 24, 2014

    A text message isn’t the appropriate way to convey the news that loved ones have died in a plane crash. An appalling decision. #MH370

    — Elite Daily (@EliteDaily) March 24, 2014

    Jesus. A text? RT @MatthewKnell: Text message sent to #MH370 survivors http://t.co/JlA7sykyHd via @BBCNews pic.twitter.com/MEsihVrlWD

    — Erin Gloria Ryan (@morninggloria) March 24, 2014

    In reality, the decision to text the families may not be as egregious as it seems.

    MH370 families have chided Malaysia Airlines, as well as Malaysian government authorities, in part because the news media has continuously received new information about the missing plane before the families over the past two weeks.

    Last Wednesday, the consternation reached a boiling point when family members stormed a press briefing. According to the The South China Morning Post, some of the relatives unfurled a banner that read, “We protest against the Malaysian government withholding information and holding up search efforts.”

    The choice to send a text message may have been a well-intentioned attempt by Malaysia Airlines officials to show families and the world that they were determined to get important information to relatives as quickly as it surfaced.

    In a statement, Malaysia Airlines clarified to Sky News that the text wasn’t their first or even the only means of informing the families. Reporter Mark Stone of Sky News posted the airliner’s full comment to Twitter:

    Malaysia Airlines did not ONLY send an SMS. The message was conveyed to all families face to face by our top management at the hotels.

    SMS and phone calls were made to those who are not in the hotels via our family support center. We wanted to ensure that families are informed via all channels.

    Kari Pricher, a CNN producer, added over Twitter that families were “prepared to receive information by text message.”

    .@richardquest assures that families of #MH370 were prepared to receive information by text message. Still, excruciating for them. @CNN

    — Kari Pricher (@KariPricher) March 24, 2014

    In the digital age, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for companies to control the flow of information. In an effort to inform families first, Malaysia Airlines resorted to text messages. It was an unideal solution, but in today’s media world, perhaps the best that it could come up with.

  • Most Wearable Devices Will Fail and the Name of the Category Will Change From Wearables to Sense-ables
    Wearables are anything but sensible, from first hand observation they are somewhat silly, as they are trying to solve a problem that can be solved by a myriad of simpler and more passive mechanism.

    If you were at CES, you could not have missed a new category of computing called “wearables.” This category of devices can be described as the FitBit gone mad. Wearables currently come in three main categories: health trackers, watches and glasses. In each of these categories some if not all devices are pivoting to solving the world’s biggest health problems.

    Almost daily, I see a new wearable device launched, and while they all are minimally viable products, they continually get sillier and sillier. We are seeing everything from wearable necklaces (like necklaces were never wearable) earrings, shoes, clothing and many other bodily accruements being outfitted with small computers/biosensors, low voltage needs and high connectivity. Like clockwork, every new device no matter how silly, calls out to the world with press releases, tweets, YouTube videos and multiple pounds of the manufacturing firm’s proverbial digital chest reckoning how disruptive some new wearable product is.

    My observation is that we have bastardized the word disruption. Most wearables are disturbing mankind under the once well-intended charter of disruption.

    While a minority of humans continue to wear these devices past the first few months of purchase, most folks (like myself) stop wearing after the nostalgia has worn off. I gave up my FitBit after about six months, my pebble watch in about six days and my Google GLASS, well I got over that bad boy in about six hours. I got over them the same way I got over my first CASIO watch, which doubled as a calculator in high school; said watch plus calculator was disturbing my life. Disruption does not have to disturb.

    Good disruption is change without disturbance.

    The hypothesis is simple, wearing something on my body that is not confortable, fashionable and delivering more value than it disturbs me is not a sustainable value proposition. So the big question is what will become of wearables? Clearly the movement of computing to the edge of the network will continue, and the connecting of things/biosensors that are not computers (Internet of Things) will continue. Wearables currently position themselves as trying to solve health’s biggest problems.

    Well, do I need to wear the solution to health’s biggest problems 24/7, or can the solution simply sense me daily/weekly?

    The solutions will become sensible, and may be called sense-ables

    Just recently, Singularity University wrote on Forbes.com about the “new generation of revolutionary biosensors that contain the power of clinical lab instruments in packages that are light, small, wireless and highly efficient.” The Human API calls for “Sensoring” all suggesting it is the sensing and sensors that matter, not where or how they are embedded/worn/adorned.

    During a Hacking the Future episode, John Nosta from Forbes.com and I landed on the construct of “implantables” or more eloquently as John coined it “dermals.” Implantables and/or dermals will do the complete opposite of what current wearables do, instead of “disrupting/disturbing” they will be dormant, unnoticeable, behind the scenes and sensing passively. Experts will argue that the problem with sense-ables are they do not provide a “stream” of 24/7 health information, instead they will probably provide a single point of time (SPOT) measure of health.

    Here are some examples of sense-ables.

    • Cars — the steering wheels, the seats.
    • Bathrooms — mirrors, toilets, toothbrushes, shower drains (for heavens sake we have scales in there already).
    • Bedrooms — pillows, mattresses, sheets.
    • Offices — chairs, pens.
    • Pharmacies — think about a “sensing room” where you go in and submit your data in 2-5 minutes.

    So what about “streaming health” thought?

    More and more we incorrectly call out for a “stream” of health information. I am guilty of this as well, here is an outdate version of my thinking around “streams” of health information. But do we need health data to “stream” to solve health’s biggest problems? Are we over-solving? Over-engineering?

    We are getting the data part of heath completely wrong.

    1. For most, a stream of personal health information from a clinical perspective is only marginally more valuable than a SPOT read of your vitals daily, or weekly (unless you need ICU type monitoring). This means embedded sensors that can sense me daily or weekly are enough to improve health exponentially without me having to “wear” a lab on me designed to stream my health.
    2. More data does not automatically mean more likely personalized medicine. Yes, we are seeing the call for me-dicine, but outside of some therapeutic classes such as oncology and a handful of others, we may never get to personalized medicine; we may never need to. We may get to personalized medicine for groups, demographics, genders, age and body types, but the commercial investment to make a pain killer designed with my “health fingerprint” in mind is just silly.
    3. The data from the human body is imperfect, and we need to focus on developing cognitive computing that “heals” the health data from human bodies before we can use it to make clinical conclusions. Otherwise, we will have false diagnosis driving global hypochondria. Until then, where the power of data from the sick can be beneficial, is where we can study health data from crowds (or in crowds) and use analytics to extrapolate from crowds (or of crowds). We will only benefit from an “index of health data” from a crowd over a stream from a person until we develop cognitive computing to heal imperfect health information sourced from imperfect human bodies.
    4. Innovations that see massive adoption eventually driving revolutions are those that help the lion’s share of society. The mobile phone drove a revolution of hyper-adoption because it is difficult to debate that it does not improve every human life it touches. My CASIO watch plus calculator from high school never drove a revolution because its adoption was ring-fenced to a small population. Most human beings will live exactly the same lives we live today, even if they wore a hundred wearable devices daily, the value of wearing a lab on the body to stream health information for exponential health value is ring-fenced to a small (but albeit unfortunately unhealthy or sick) population of society. Most of us only need SPOT measures of our health to improve our health outcomes exponentially.

    There are simply too many simpler ways to solve the problem wearables are all trying to solve — which is capturing a stream of imperfect health information and hoping for personalized medicine as a result for every human, and too many holes in the argument that they will drive a revolution. Fad for sure.

    Be sensible — build a sense-able, not a wearable.

  • Mobility management is coming of age
    2014’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona brought together the mobile telephony infrastructure industry, multiple handset vendors and large numbers of mobile app tools and platforms

Mobile Technology News, March 24, 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.

  • 'Good Wife' Leaves Viewers Shocked, Bereaved (SPOILER ALERT!)
    NEW YORK (AP) — Viewers of “The Good Wife” were gobsmacked by the sudden, unexpected death of its dashing attorney, Will Gardner, on Sunday’s episode of the CBS legal drama.

    Gardner, a prominent character portrayed by Josh Charles since the series’ debut five seasons ago, was gunned down in a Chicago courtroom by his unhinged client. He was pronounced dead shortly afterward. Once the episode had aired, Twitter lit up with astonished, sorrowful and even irate posts.

    One viewer called for a group hug, while another issued a plea for a counselor to treat jolted fans. Yet another viewer expressed hope that, as with “Dallas” long ago in revealing Bobby Ewing’s death to be only a dream, “The Good Wife” would find Gardner stepping out of his shower next week, alive and well.

    Other viewers vowed never to watch the show again, as payback.

    Gardner was a rival lawyer and former lover of the character played by series star Julianna Margulies.

    His death and Charles’ decision to exit the show had been well-guarded secrets. Charles, who entered the series with a four-year contract, opted not to re-up when it expired after last season, according to his publicist.

    Charles’ past TV work includes the ABC dramedy series “SportsNight” and a season playing a client of therapist Gabriel Byrne on the HBO drama “In Treatment.”

  • Mount Olympus Adventure Game Released for iOS

    iCOOLgeeks, the creators of the popular Tesla’s Electric Mist, have announce the release of Mount Olympus, their new point and click adventure game developed for iOS and Android. Mount Olympus is a classic point and click adventure game re-imagined to work beautifully on tablet and touch devices. […]

    The post Mount Olympus Adventure Game Released for iOS appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Briefly: AnyFont 1.1, Exak Time 2.0 released for iOS
    Font app AnyFont for iOS has released an update, v 1.1, offering users greater flexibility with font management. AnyFont allows users to install any additional font in TrueTypeFont (.ttf) or OpenTypeFont (.oft) format on one’s iPhone or iPad. In v1.1.0, users can now install multiple fonts or multiple shapes of a font at once, add or delete multiple fonts to AnyFont as a ZIP archive in one step, and preview fonts in AnyFont’s storage. Additionally included are bug fixes, including a remedy to a localization issue. Available for $2, AnyFont can be downloaded through iTunes.


  • Apple, Comcast Talks Focus On Possible Deal For Streaming TV Service: WSJ
    (Updates to add Apple declining comment)
    March 23 (Reuters) – Apple Inc is in talks with Comcast Corp to enter into a deal for a streaming-television service that would allow Apple set-top boxes to bypass congestion on the web, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
    The discussions are in early stages and there are a lot of hurdles to be crossed before a definitive agreement could be reached, the Journal said. (http://link.reuters.com/reb87v)
    Apple, which wants its TV service’s traffic to be separated from public internet traffic over the “last mile” for faster transmission, is looking for special treatment from Comcast’s cables to bypass congestion, the report said.
    Comcast and Apple declined to comment on the report.
    Apple has been in talks for a faster TV set-top box with Time Warner Cable Inc, which recently agreed to be bought by Comcast.
    Apple’s $99 TV box competes with similar streaming devices from Roku and Google Inc.
    Netflix agreed last month to pay Comcast Corp for faster speeds, throwing open the possibility that more content companies will have to shell out for better service.
    The Federal Communications Commission is in the process of drafting a new “net-neutrality” bill that would ensure that network operators disclose exactly how they manage Internet traffic and that they do not restrict consumers’ ability to surf the Web or use applications. (Reporting by Arnab Sen in Bangalore and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)
  • Apple In Talks With Comcast About Streaming-TV Service – WSJ.com
    Apple Inc. AAPL +0.79% is in talks with Comcast Corp. CMCSA -1.20% about teaming up for a streaming-television service that would use an Apple set-top box and get special treatment on Comcast’s cables to ensure it bypasses congestion on the Web, people familiar with the matter say.
  • New tool to help catch child abusers
    Victims of child sexual abuse could soon be identified more quickly, thanks to law enforcement agency work on a cloud-based archive of abuse material.
  • Fenland flooded with hi-tech firms
    Why Cambridge is the capital of start-ups
  • Be Your Family's Chief Security Officer

    Schlage is all about safety and security. But you need not be in the profession of security analyst to be vigilant about your home and family’s security. And when it comes to security, this doesn’t just mean protection from home invasions and burglaries, but anything and everything, such as online security and guarding against viruses, hackers and other fraudulent invasive cyber crimes that can really mess things up for you or a family member.

    Be your family and home’s Chief Security Officer, even if your job outside the home is unrelated to security measures. Make sure everything is safe and sound inside your home. This includes child-proofing the house; senior-proofing if there are elderly occupants; and just in general, making the environment safe—e.g., cleaning up spills on the floor to prevent a disastrous fall.

    I won’t lie: This kind of vigilance requires a lot of thought to get it rolling. It’s not second nature to many people, but they can work on that element and improve over time so that it’s automatic to put the alarm system on when going to bed.

    You must be fierce so that fires don’t start in your home, and so that you don’t end up in the news as a victim of a crime.  

    Sometimes, a person’s greatest enemy is themselves. So you have all the windows penetration-proofed, triple bolts on all the doors, maybe a protection dog and an extensive video surveillance system…but one second…you get lazy and don’t lock your doors and after you leave and you took the dog with you, then some bad guy chooses your home simply because he saw you leave. Locking your doors, that little extra effort might have saved all kinds of heartache.

    So it takes a little extra time to create a safety system, and then stick with it, to prevent bad things from happening. If you can’t make time for safety and security, you’ll have to make time for catastrophe. When you make security a habit, it really doesn’t require that much effort after a while. Lead your family and home as its Chief Security Officer.

    Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text — SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

  • Jimmy Carter Is Pretty Sure The NSA Is Spying On His Email
    Former President Jimmy Carter thinks the National Security Agency is probably monitoring his email.

    In an interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell airing during Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Carter said he favors snail mail when communicating with foreign officials.

    “[The justification for surveillance] has been extremely liberalized and, I think, abused by our own intelligence agencies,” Carter told Mitchell. “As a matter of fact, you know, I have felt that my own communications are probably monitored. And when I want to communicate with a foreign leader privately, I type or write the letter myself, put it in the post office, and mail it.”

    “Old fashioned snail mail,” Mitchell said.

    “Yeah. Because I believe if I send an email it will be monitored,” he said.

    Carter has previously expressed support for Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked documents on the NSA’s controversial surveillance programs.

    “He’s obviously violated the laws of America, for which he’s responsible, but I think the invasion of human rights and American privacy has gone too far,” Carter said in an interview with CNN last June. “I think that the secrecy that has been surrounding this invasion of privacy has been excessive, so I think that the bringing of it to the public notice has probably been, in the long term, beneficial.”

    The former president later said the United States’ democracy had been compromised by the spying.

    “America does not at the moment have a functioning democracy,” Carter said at an event in Atlanta in July.

  • Cops May Be Intercepting Phone Calls, Text Messages Through Stingray Technology
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Local police in the U.S. may be intercepting phone calls or text messages to find suspects using a new technology tool known as Stingray.

    But they are refusing to turn over details about its use or heavily censoring files when they do. Stingray pretends it’s a cellphone tower, secretly giving details of a phone’s location and information about calls and text messages.

    Police say it is useful for catching criminals. But civil liberties experts worry it violates Americans’ privacy.

    Police will not disclose details about it, including contracts with Stingray’s manufacturer. They say they are protecting police tactics and commercial secrets.

    Revelations about surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency have driven debate since last summer on the balance between privacy and government intrusion.

  • Beware! A Majority of Job References Don't Say Good Things
    For most job seekers, providing a list of references is an afterthought. The toughest part of the job search is over — landing the interview and performing well enough to get to the “final four” (or five or…). Whew — it’s almost over!

    Not so fast!

    References may be the soft (not “sweet”!) spot in most efforts to land a new job. This step near the end of the hiring process sabotages many job seekers, just short of the job offer/finish line.

    According to a CareerBuilder survey:

    • “Three in five employers (62 percent) said that when they contacted a reference listed on an application, the reference didn’t have good things to say about the candidate.”
    • “Sixty-nine percent of employers said they have changed their minds about a candidate after speaking with a reference, with 47 percent reporting they had a less favorable opinion and only 23 percent reporting that they had a more favorable opinion.”


    7 Tips for Avoiding Job Reference Disasters

    Since references can make or break opportunities for you, manage your references carefully.

    1. Be sure you have each person’s permission in advance.

    Sure, you can add names to your list of references without notifying the people involved, but that’s a risky thing to do.

    Perhaps they are on vacation or on business travel somewhere and unavailable for a few days. Knowing this in advance will help you. If the perfect reference for a specific opportunity is out of the office for several days, you can share that information with the employer and also line up a substitute or supplemental reference if the employer doesn’t want to wait.

    2. Make sure each will provide you with a good reference.

    Don’t ask if they would be a reference for you! That’s too simple a question.

    As part of number one, above, pointedly ask them if they would be comfortable recommending you to another employer. Obviously, if they say “no” to that question, don’t use them as a reference.

    Some people may give you permission to use their name, but, unless you ask, you won’t know if they will actually provide you with a good reference, as the CareerBuilder numbers show. Asking the pointed question should help.

    3. Prepare your references.

    You shouldn’t normally need to provide your list of references until you are at a job interview. So, preferably before you go to the interview, tell the people on your reference list that you will be giving their names to an employer. Let them know the employer’s name, and the names and job titles of the people who will be interviewing you, as well as the location, and other relevant details.

    If you can’t reach them before the interview, be sure to do it immediately following the interview.

    Help them to help you by reminding them of your accomplishments that are relevant to the opportunity you are seeking. If possible, draw parallels between what they know you have done and what the job opportunity requires.

    4. Confirm contact information.

    Being unable to contact one of your references because the contact information is wrong or out-of-date will NOT impress a potential employer. So, be sure, when you hand over that list of references, that the information on the list is correct and uses the preferred contact information for each reference.

    I don’t like having my cell phone number shared, but it’s fine to share my office phone number. Other people have quite the opposite preference. Re-confirm information and preferences periodically. Maybe someone has a new or better phone number or email address. Keep what you hand to employers in sync with your references’ current information.

    5. Protect your references.

    Your references are a very important asset to your job search, an asset you should protect. You don’t want to exhaust them with inappropriate or less than serious contacts. So, don’t put their names and contact information on your resume, your Facebook page, or your LinkedIn and Google Plus Profiles.

    Making their names and contact information too public risks inappropriate use (spammy phone calls and email) and badly timed contacts by employers. If possible, you don’t want your references called before you have prepared them (see #2 above), and you don’t want them bothered by everyone who sees your list.

    6. Customize your reference lists.

    To avoid over-use of any two or three references, maintain a master list of, preferably, ten or twelve people who can act as references for you. Then, from that list, prepare a short list of three or four references to take to each interview.

    If possible, customize that short list so that some people are not “used” so often that they become annoyed or less than enthusiastic about you and also so that the references you do use are as appropriate as possible for the opportunity.

    For example, if the opportunity is in a new industry for you, and one of your references currently works in that industry — or has worked in that industry in the past — add that person to the list you hand to that employer.

    7. Don’t abuse your references.

    These people are doing you a big favor, and, clearly, they can do considerable damage to your opportunities if they choose.

    Ask them their preferences on timing and method for an employer to contact them, and share that information with the employer — perhaps in a note on the reference list (“Best time to contact: afternoons, preferably not Mondays or Fridays. Best method: personal cell phone or office email”).

    Do your best to avoid bugging them by contacting them too often or having too many employers contacting them. By staying in reasonable touch with your references (monthly, in most cases), you can judge how well they are doing.

    After-Action Reporting

    Once the interviews are over and the references have been given to the employer, ask the employer their plans and their process for contacting references. If your references have indicated a preference for time and method of contact, be sure to point it out to the employer.

    Then, contact your references to let them know what the employer plans to do, and ask them to contact you when (if) they hear from the employer. This gives you another opportunity to do some reference coaching, if necessary, and to simply touch base with these people.

    Thank them, regardless of the outcome.

    If you do get the job, take them out for a very nice dinner or buy them a nice bottle of their favorite wine (maybe champagne!) or a gift card for their favorite store.

    Even if you don’t get the job, your references have tried to help you, so they deserve your thanks — maybe a fancy cup of coffee at Starbucks or a nice lunch, whatever you can afford that they would like. At a minimum, send them a thank you note.

    When “Current Supervisor’s Name” Is Required

    Perhaps you are completing an online application that requires you to provide the name of your current or most recent supervisor. Particularly if you are currently employed, providing your supervisor’s name can be risky — the reference check could “out” your job search, and cost you your job.

    In those cases, it’s a judgment call whether or not you provide the name of an earlier supervisor who works for a different employer, leave the field blank, or indicate that you will provide the information at the job interview or later in the process.

    Not providing your current supervisor’s name on the application may cost you an opportunity, if it is a “required field.” But losing that opportunity is probably much better than losing your job. Your call.

    If you were fired from your last job, or left because you didn’t get along with that supervisor, consider providing the name of your supervisor from a previous job or some other reference – hopefully prepared, in advance, using the tips above.

    For the Future

    Stay in touch with the people you have worked with, particularly those former bosses who have a good opinion of your work. LinkedIn can be very helpful for this, and so can Facebook (carefully!).

    Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for Job – Hunt.org and WorkCoachCafe.com.

    Follow Susan on Google+ for more job search tips.

Mobile Technology News, March 23, 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.

  • NSA Hacked Chinese Telecom Giant's Servers: Report
    BERLIN (AP) — U.S. intelligence agencies hacked into the email servers of Chinese tech giant Huawei five years ago, around the time concerns were growing in Washington that the telecommunications equipment manufacturer was a threat to U.S. national security, two newspapers reported Saturday.

    The National Security Agency began targeting Huawei in early 2009 and quickly succeeded in gaining access to the company’s client lists and email archive, German weekly Der Spiegel reported, citing secret U.S. intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The New York Times also published a report Saturday about the documents. Huawei objects to activities that threaten network security, said William B. Plummer, the company’s vice president of external affairs.

    “Huawei has declared its willingness to work with governments, industry stakeholders and customers in an open and transparent manner, to jointly address the global challenges of network security and data integrity,” Plummer said in an email. “The information presented in Der Spiegel and the New York Times article reaffirms the need for all companies to be vigilant at all times.”

    Among the people whose emails the NSA was able to read were Huawei president Ren Zhengfei, Der Spiegel said.

    The operation, which Der Spiegel claims was coordinated with the CIA, FBI and White House officials, also netted source codes for Huawei products. One aim was to exploit the fact that Huawei equipment is widely used to route voice and data traffic around the world, according to the report. But the NSA was also concerned that the Chinese government itself might use Huawei’s presence in foreign networks for espionage purposes, it said.

    In 2012, the House Intelligence Committee recommended that Huawei be barred from doing business in the U.S., citing the threat that its equipment could enable Chinese intelligence services to tamper with American communications networks.

    In January, the company rejected a previous Der Spiegel report claiming that its equipment was vulnerable to hacking. The magazine had reported that the NSA was able to install secret “back doors” in telecoms equipment made by Huawei and other companies.

    Der Spiegel’s latest report claims the NSA also targeted top Chinese officials, such as former President Hu Jintao, as well as ministries and banks.

  • Obama's Europe Ties Get New Test With Russia Dispute
    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s complex relationship with Europe faces new challenges during a weeklong trip as he tries to persuade allied leaders to hold firm in efforts to punish Russia for its incursion into Ukraine.

    The deepening dispute between East and West is expected to dominate his visit to Europe, which begins Monday in the Netherlands. The four-country trip was long-planned, but now provides the U.S. and Europe a well-timed chance to present a united front against Russian President Vladimir Putin. But behind the scenes, Obama will be gauging how far the still economically shaky European Union is willing to go in punishing Russia, one of its largest trading partners. He’ll also be confronted with other European frustrations with the U.S. that are bubbling just below the surface.

    Some European officials, chief among them German Chancellor Angela Merkel, are still smarting over revelations of National Security Agency spying on the continent. There’s also lingering resentment among EU leaders over what it sees as Obama’s snubbing of the alliance.

    “There’s an anger there, there’s a frustration there,” said Heather Conley, a Europe expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She added that while the Ukraine crisis may “mute” some of Europe’s irritation with Obama, “it doesn’t solve it.”

    In the Netherlands, Obama will join world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit and head a hastily arranged meeting of the Group of Seven – the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

    The latter meeting will focus on boosting financial support for Ukraine’s fledgling government, while also serving as a symbol of the West’s efforts to isolate Moscow. Russia often joins the G-7 nations for Group of Eight meetings, including a summit Putin is supposed to host this summer. Those plans are now in doubt.

    Russia is participating in the nuclear summit, but Putin will not attend. He’s sending Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to The Hague.

    Obama’s focus on Ukraine will continue in Brussels, the headquarters for the EU and NATO. A later stop in Rome will feature a highly anticipated meeting with Pope Francis. Then it’s on to Saudi Arabia for a fence-mending visit with the important Gulf ally.

    Initial punishments from the U.S. and EU did little stop Russia from annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Western officials are now warily watching Russia build up its troop presence elsewhere along the former Soviet state’s border.

    Russian officials say those troops are simply participating in military exercises. But Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, said that given Russia’s “past practice and the gap between what they have said and what they have done, we are watching it with skepticism.”

    The U.S. has warned that further Russian incursions could result in broader penalties targeting the Russian economy, including its robust energy sector. But administration officials acknowledge that American sanctions wouldn’t have the same kind of bite as European penalties, given Europe’s deeper economic ties with Russia.

    That puts Obama in the position of seeking cooperation from the sometimes unwieldy EU, the 28-country bloc that has often bristled at what its leaders see as snubs by the American president.

    The president has skipped over Brussels on all eight of his previous trips to Europe as president. He ended the practice of holding U.S-EU summits annually, preferring to hold meetings instead with individual European leaders. On the rare occasions when he has attended EU summits, the meetings have been brief and yielded little of consequence.

    “They know the president can’t stand sitting in these meetings,” Conley said of EU leaders. “They got that message very clearly.”

    The NSA spying disclosures have strained Obama’s relations with Europe, particularly with Merkel, the leader with whom he had perhaps the closest relationship. Last year’s explosive leaks from NSA contractor Edward Snowden included a revelation that the U.S. was monitoring Merkel’s cellphone.

    Former State Department official Jeremy Shapiro said that while anger over the NSA persists, Europe’s leaders are unlikely to get let that matter bleed into discussions over Ukraine.

    “Ukraine is too serious an issue for them.” said Shapiro, now a fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Russia is too serious an issue for them. And the need to work with the United States is too serious an issue to complicate it with this type of thing.”

    The crisis in Ukraine seems likely to overshadow what had been expected to be the most-attention grabbling stops of Obama’s trip – meetings with Pope Francis at the Vatican and Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in Riyadh.

    Obama has praised the new pontiff and sees a connection with Francis’ recent statements on income inequality, an issue the president is pushing at home.

    Hot-button issues in the Middle East will dominate Obama’s stop in Saudi Arabia, his second visit to the kingdom as president. During meetings with the king, Obama will seek to alleviate the Gulf nation’s concerns over U.S. nuclear negotiations with Iran and the White House’s tepid role in quelling the Syrian civil war.


    Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.


    Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

  • N.S.A. Breached Chinese Servers Seen As Security Threat
    WASHINGTON — American officials have long considered Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, a security threat, blocking it from business deals in the United States for fear that the company would create “back doors” in its equipment that could allow the Chinese military or Beijing-backed hackers to steal corporate and government secrets.
  • Revealed: Apple And Google's Wage-Fixing Cartel Involved Dozens More Companies, Over One Million Employees
    Back in January, I wrote about “The Techtopus” — an illegal agreement between seven tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Intel, to suppress wages for tens of thousands of tech employees. The agreement prompted a Department of Justice investigation, resulting in a settlement in which the companies agreed to curb their restricting hiring deals.
  • Drugstore Delivery Drones Are Coming To San Francisco
    If a toothbrush falls on your head in San Francisco, don’t be alarmed; the future is here and it includes drone-delivered drugstore goods.

    Following an unexpected court ruling in support of commercial drones, QuiQui, pronounced “quicky,” jumped on the chance to launch its business in San Francisco’s Mission District, an ideal spot because of its flat terrain and lack of tall buildings, the company says. The 24-hour service will cost just $1 in addition to the price of items and is currently inviting participants to join as beta testers.

    “Your phone will buzz, saying your delivery is here,” CEO and founder Joshua Ziering told SF Gate, noting that the drone will stay at least 20 feet in the air. “You go outside and swipe to tell it to drop your order. It will drop it and then fly away. I kind of want it to beep like Roadrunner and then fly.”

    Drugstore items — small in size and a hard to obtain if you’re bedridden with a cold — are the most practical thing to deliver by drone, the company said on their website.

    “It was the most economically viable option with the most consumer pain,” QuiQui says. “Nobody likes going when they’re sick because they don’t feel well, and nobody likes going when they’re well because there are a lot of sick people there. The pharmacy has traditionally been an awful experience.”

    Despite some speculation, Ziering told The Huffington Post QuiQui will not be delivering medical marijuana but is “trying to deliver prescription drugs,” though it has not yet named any pharmacies it’s partnering with.

    The company is apparently anticipating some backlash, especially given that it’s launching the service in the home of the original Google bus protest.

    “Well, we know that gentrification is a hot topic in the Mission and we want to be sensitive to that,” a QuiQui representative stated. “We understand that drones cruising around the neighborhood may not be well received. We’ve worked extra hard to make sure our drones are quiet and respectful of the neighborhood. For example, we avoid schools and parks on our flight paths.”

    QuiQui and other commercial drone companies may soon face legal hurdles if the Federal Aviation Administration begins to regulate such aviation, or if it appeals the court’s decision last month to invalidate the FAA’s fine against a photographer using a drone to shoot and sell his art.

  • Apple rumor claims all-new, 12-inch MacBook Air
    The MacBook is getting a makeover sooner rather than later — if chatter from China is accurate.
  • Loblolly Pine Tree Sets New Record For Biggest Genome Ever Sequenced (VIDEO)

    A loblolly pine tree on the 17th hole of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia blocked so many of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s shots that in 1956 he tried to get the tree chopped down. Now, loblolly pines (Pinus taeda) are making a different kind of history: Their genome is the largest of any organism yet sequenced.

    The tree’s extensive use for research and lumber in the southeastern United States made it an early candidate for genetic sequencing. However, its large genome was too cumbersome for conventional whole-genome shotgun sequencing, which sequences short fragments of the genome and then stitches the results together. In a new study, reported today in Genome Biology and Genetics, researchers bolstered the shotgun approach by preprocessing the individual fragments using genetic cloning, allowing them to more easily assemble the complete genome.

    Using a single pollinated pine seed, the team assembled the largest genome ever sequenced: 22.18 billion base pairs, more than seven times longer than the human genome. The team found that 82% of the genome was made up of duplicated segments, compared with just 25% in humans. The researchers also identified genes responsible for important traits such as disease resistance, wood formation, and stress response; they did not, however, find any genes for ruining presidential golf games.

    See more ScienceShots.

    This story has been provided by AAAS, the non-profit science society, and its international journal, Science.

  • #NoMakeupSelfies Raise Millions For Cancer Research
    Who says hashtags and selfies are a waste of time?

    The social media trend #nomakeupselfie has garnered more than £2 million (or $3.3 million) in funding for Cancer Research UK, the organization announced on Twitter on Thursday. What’s more, the impressive sum was raised within 48 hours.

    It all started earlier this week, when group officials noticed social media users were tagging photos with #nomakeupselfie and #cancerawareness, apparently in an effort to support the fight against the disease, the Independent reports.

    Cancer Research UK then stepped in and told folks how to actually use those hashtags for tangible results. On Tuesday, the group set up a text donation number and encouraged people to give £3 (about $4).

    Millions were soon raised for cancer research.

    No makeup selfie half way through chemo. Make a difference! @TheChristie @TeenageCancer @CR_UK #nomakeupselfie pic.twitter.com/Eio2EUbeV3

    — Emma Newton (@newtonemmax) March 20, 2014

    Love @flyingLucky @VirginAtlantic crew getting involved for @CR_UK #nomakeupselfie. Text BEAT to 70099 to donate pic.twitter.com/TmsVF6UuTL

    — Richard Branson (@richardbranson) March 21, 2014

    Here’s my #nomakeupselfie for @CR_UK and of course I donated! Great idea to get more people involved! pic.twitter.com/wy4awwYQnT

    — Helen Anderson (@Melonladybaby) March 21, 2014

    Though they weren’t involved in initiating the trend, the group’s elated by the results.

    “We’re over the moon. When we do a social media campaign we want to engage as many people as possible, and this has taken off like crazy,” Aaron Eccles, Cancer Research UK’s head of social media, told the Guardian.

    Other health awareness organizations have since jumped on the bandwagon, including the British Lung Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society, which has so far raised more than £400,000 ($551,760) in donations.

    @IrishCancerSoc donations double in last 24 hours as a result of #Nomakeupselfies to €440K and counting! Thank You! pic.twitter.com/UtsRQXWMR0

    — Irish Cancer Society (@IrishCancerSoc) March 21, 2014

    But many are on the fence about the trend. Here’s what skeptics are asking: Is this just narcissism masked as charity?

    “You can’t help but wince at the fact uploading a picture of what you actually look like is now being deemed ‘brave’, especially when being held up against cancer,” Yomi Adegoke wrote in a blog for the Independent on Wednesday. “The only ‘awareness’ it seems to be promoting is self. Despite good intentions it’s coming across as smug and self congratulatory, for doing very little and let’s be honest – if you’re not donating, what are you doing bar seeking praise for having the cojones to ditch the contour?”

  • Michelle Obama Stresses Freedom Of Speech In China Visit
    BEIJING (AP) — U.S. first lady Michelle Obama told Chinese professors, students and parents on Sunday that she wouldn’t have risen to where she was if her parents hadn’t pushed for her to get a good education.

    Mrs. Obama made her comments before hosting a discussion about education on the third day of her visit to the country aimed at promoting educational exchanges between the U.S. and China. “Education is an important focus for me. It’s personal, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents investing and pushing me to get a good education,” said Mrs. Obama.

    “My parents were not educated themselves, but one of the things they understood was that my brother and I needed that foundation.” She said she and her husband wanted as many young people as possible in the United States and the world to have access to education.

    She then hosted a roundtable with a handful of Chinese professors, students and parents at an event at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing that was attended by new U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus and closed to media.

    Mrs. Obama plans to visit the Great Wall later Sunday and have lunch with her mother and daughters at a restaurant in a former school near a section of the wall.

    On Saturday, she gave a speech at China’s prestigious Peking University in which she promoted the free flow of information and freedom of speech, the only time during her trip that she has brought up a contentious issue. China routinely filters out information deemed offensive by the government and silences dissenting voices.

    Those remarks by Mrs. Obama were absent from China’s state media but were circulating in social media, where they were widely praised.

  • Privacy Is More Than Locking Your Doors

    There are 10 distinct meanings of privacy.

    Protecting Reputation

    You’ve heard of money management, right? Well, there’s also reputation management. There’s a difference between having facts about a person and then making judgments based on those facts. Often, judgments are skewered, and the result is a soured reputation.

    Showing Respect

    We must respect one’s desire to keep personal data about themselves personal. That’s why it’s called personal data. It’s not so much that revealing one’s private information would do little, if any, harm. It’s the principle of respect that’s the bigger picture.


    Trust is vital in any kind of relationship, from personal to commercial to professional. When trust is broken in one relationship, this could cause a domino effect into other kinds of relationships.

    Social Boundaries

    We all need a sanctuary from people’s interest in us. When boundaries are crossed, relationships can be tarnished. Nobody really wants everyone to know everything about them, or vice versa.

    Freedom to speak freely

    We’re all free to think whatever we want without fear of repercussion, but turning those thoughts into speech is what can create problems—both real and perceived.

    The Second Chance

    Thank goodness that once we get our foot stuck in the railroad track, we can yank it out and start over. Having privacy promotes the second chance, the ability to make changes.


    You’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a transaction you can complete in public or online without forking over your personal data. Minus cold cash transactions, just about every move we make requires some revealing of personal information. And the more that your data is out there, the more likely someone can use it to control you.

    Freedom of Political Association

    Due to privacy, we can associate with political activities, and nobody ever has to know whom we voted for for a political office.

    What others think of You is none of your Business

    Privacy means never feeling you must explain or validate yourself to those near or far.

    Robert Siciliano home security expert to Schlage discussing home security and identity theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.

  • Physicists Calculate Mass Of Top Quark, Heaviest Elementary Particle

    In the first joint result from the world’s two leading particle colliders, scientists have determined the mass of the heaviest elementary particle, the top quark.

    The measurement was made using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Tevatron at Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. Four separate experiments found a joint value for the top quark of 173.34 (+/- 0.76) gigaelectronvolts divided by the speed of light squared, scientists announced Wednesday (March 19) at a physics conference in Italy.

    “The combining together of data from CERN and Fermilab to make a precision top quark mass result is a strong indication of its importance to understanding nature,” Fermilab director Nigel Lockyer said in a statement, adding, “It’s a great example of the international collaboration in our field.” [Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature]

    The four LHC and Tevatron experiments — ATLAS, CDF, CMS and DZERO, respectively — are the only ones that have observed top quarks, which are 100 times the mass of a proton. In addition to top quarks, there are five other types, or flavors, of quarks: bottom, up, down, charm and strange. (For instance, protons are made of two up quarks and one down quark, whereas neutrons contain two down quarks and one up quark.)

    The new particle mass will allow scientists to test the mathematics of quantum connections among the top quark, the Higgs particle — the particle detected by the LHC in 2012, which explains how other particles get their mass — and the W boson, the carrier of the electroweak force.

    top quark

    Theoretical physicists can now investigate how the mass of the top quark will affect predictions of the stability of the Higgs field (the field associated with the Higgs particle), and the effects on the evolution of the universe. In addition, the new value will allow scientists to test for inconsistencies in the Standard Model of particle physics and discover new physics to describe the nature of the universe.

    More than 6,000 scientists from more than 50 countries were involved in the research. The CDF and DZero experiments first detected the top quark in 1995, based on about 300,000 quark events produced by Fermilab’s Tevatron (which was shut down in 2011). The LHC at CERN has produced the world’s most top quark events, almost 18 million since it began running in 2009.

    The four experiments at Fermilab and CERN used different methods to measure the top-quark mass, and each experiment had released their results previously. By collaborating closely to understand each other’s methods and uncertainties, the teams were able to combine the measurements into a single robust value.

    “Collaborative competition is the name of the game,” CERN’s Director General Rolf Heuer said in a statement. “Competition between experimental collaborations and labs spurs us on, but collaboration such as this underpins the global particle physics endeavor and is essential in advancing our knowledge of the universe we live in.”

    Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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

  • Businesses of the future…with Samsung devices, of course (pictures)
    The Korean electronics giant operates a showroom — called the Executive Briefing Center — at its North American headquarters in New Jersey to show potential business customers what Samsung technology they can use to change their operations.
  • Samsung shows business customers how to be high tech
    The Korean electronics giant operates a showroom in New Jersey to demonstrate technology it has for hotels, financial firms, retailers, and other businesses.
  • Turkey Tightens Twitter Block
    By Daren Butler
    ISTANBUL, March 22 (Reuters) – Turkey said on Saturday that Twitter was “biased” and had been used for “systematic character assassinations” of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government, a day after Turkey’s ban on the site prompted an international outcry.
    The Turkish authorities blocked Twitter late on Thursday, hours after Erdogan vowed to “wipe out” the social media service during the campaigning period for local elections on March 30.
    Leading condemnation from Western governments and rights organizations, the White House said the Twitter ban undermined democracy and free speech.
    The site remained blocked in Turkey on Saturday. Those trying to access Twitter found an Internet page carrying court rulings saying that the site had been blocked as a “protection measure”.
    Many Turks reported difficulties in accessing not just Twitter but the Internet as a whole, according to media reports and comments on social media.
    Erdogan’s office said in a statement that the ban on Twitter was in response to the company’s “defiance” in failing to comply with hundreds of court rulings since last January.
    “Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” the prime minister’s office said.
    In recent weeks, audio recordings have been released via Twitter on an almost daily basis purporting to be telephone conversations between senior government members and businessmen that reveal alleged corruption.
    “It is difficult to comprehend Twitter’s indifference, and its biased and prejudiced stance. We believe that this attitude is damaging to the brand image of the company in question and creates an unfair and inaccurate impression of our country,” the statement from Erdogan’s office said.
    Similar measures have been taken on the same grounds in other countries to prevent violations of personal rights and threats to national security, it added.
    Erdogan is battling a corruption scandal which he says is a plot to undermine him by a U.S.-based, Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is a former ally whose network of followers include influential members of Turkey’s police and judiciary. Gulen denies orchestrating the graft investigation.
    Erdogan’s government has responded to the scandal by tightening controls of the Internet and the courts and reassigning thousands of police and hundreds of prosecutors and judges, often demoting them.

    Erdogan, who is campaigning for his party in local elections next week, did not talk about the Twitter ban at rallies on Friday and Saturday.
    Many Turks have been able to get around the Twitter ban, either by using virtual private network (VPN) software or changing their Domain Name System (DNS) setting, effectively disguising their computers’ geographical whereabouts.
    But on Saturday morning, many people reported that computers that had been set with DNS numbers widely circulated to help people get around the ban were unable to access the Internet.
    “Apparently alternate DNS servers are also blocked in Turkey. New settings are being circulated,” wrote one Twitter user.
    There was no official comment on whether alternate servers had been blocked. By early afternoon many on Twitter were reporting that the alternative DNS settings were working.
    The Turkish government has said it is in talks with Twitter and that the ban would be lifted if the San Francisco-based firm appointed a representative in Turkey and agreed to block specific content when requested by Turkish courts.
    The company said in a subsequent tweet that it stood with its users in Turkey who rely on Twitter as a “vital” communications platform. It said it hoped to have full access returned soon.
    (Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

  • In pictures: Highlights of Ted 2014
    The best moments from Ted 2014 in Vancouver

Mobile Technology News, March 22, 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 speeds WebP image format, brings animation support to Chrome
    Other browser makers are unmoved by file-size advantages of the image format, but Google is pressing ahead. And it’s saving terabytes of network usage a day on its own sites.
  • Virgin Mobile cuts prices on contract-free iPhone 5s, 5c models
    Sprint subsidiary Virgin Mobile, which sells CDMA iPhone models without an obligation to a monthly contract, is running a sale on both the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s, with the 16GB 5c starting at $315, with the 32GB at $385. The iPhone 5s is available for $385 (16GB), $455 (32GB) or $525 (64GB). There is a catch to the offer: the iPhones are all locked to Virgin Mobile, and the carrier doesn’t unlock the phones. Under current US law, it is illegal to unlock a carrier-locked smartphone without the company’s blessing.


  • Why I Share My Closet With Hundreds of Women
    For TueNight.com by Margit Detweiler

    Gwynnie Bee CEO Christine Hunsicker (Photo: Margit Detweiler/TueNight)

    “I’d size down, for sure — it runs big,” says Mara, a Gwynnie Bee staffer. She sits behind a makeshift checkout table eyeing me as I hold up a sheer, floral-patterned top. “We’re about the same size I think?”

    I’m trying on a handful of shirts, at bargain basement prices, here at Gwynnie Bee’s second anniversary party in founder Christine Hunsicker’s Manhattan apartment. I can’t resist a good deal. More often I’m perusing online, on Gwynnie Bee’s near-revolutionary shopping site for plus-sized women.

    The two-year-old company (three if you count the years Hunsicker spent conceiving it) is like Netflix for clothing; your “closet” is akin to your “queue.” You choose a one-10-piece-out-at-a-time plan and closet the clothes you like. (Yes, in the GB community parlance, “closet” is used as a verb.) When you’re done wearing an item, you toss it back in a USPS, pre-postage-paid blue bag they provide (no washing necessary) and they’ll ship you your next item. They launder everything meticulously and retire clothing when it’s even slightly worn, so if you don’t mind sharing clothes with strangers, you’re good.

    Actress Ashlie Atkinson (Rescue Me, Bored to Death and the forthcoming Us & Them), whom I met at the last GB event, shared a tip with me:

    “I tend to accumulate things wherever I go,” says Atkinson. “So in order to have cute things to wear on trips and extra room for souvenirs, I always pack as many Gwynnie Bee items and blue mailer bags as I can.”

    Before she returns home she just uses the prepaid mail bags to return the worn clothes. “Voila! More room in the suitcase!”

    At the risk of sounding like an ad, I’ve been a member for the last year or so, so I’ll vouch for being 100 percent biased. I freaking love it. As a woman who wears plus-sized clothes, it’s always a struggle (or at the very least, time-consuming) to find clothing that looks good, for a good price that has any sense of style. Friends say, “I got such a deal at Uniqlo!” or “Have you been to Joe Fresh?” — seemingly oblivious to the fact that those stores carry no higher than a 14 (and a skinny 14 at that). Shopping is often a carefully strategized, often stressful trip to a department store’s dowdy collection or an expensive and time-consuming online perusal.

    Enter Gwynnie Bee, the monthly clothing subscription service that stocks sizes 10-34 and curates a collection of trendy mid-market finds. You can choose from designers like DKNY, Three Dots and IGIGI to pricier Anna Scholz and Kiyonna to Canadian vintage-look designer Cherry Velvet. The prices aren’t cheap (e.g. you can have three garments out at a time for $79 a month), but comparatively you can move more pieces of clothing through your wardrobe than the cost of one dress.

    As a fan of GB, I wanted to chat with the 36-year-old Hunsicker — turns out she’s a fellow Pennsylvanian girl — and find out more about the brain behind the brand.

    A Princeton grad, Hunsicker started her career in tech start-ups. (Gotham Gal has a great write-up on Hunsicker’s background, pre GB). Ambitious and hungry for experience, she worked her way to the top at advertising company Right Media, until Yahoo acquired them in 2007 for $850 million dollars. She describes a “quick turnaround project” at Drop.io, which was acquired by Facebook after only five months. Ready for her own project, she soon turned her attention to something more hive-minded.

    Speaking from experience, having a service that’s solely dedicated to the plus-size market is pretty special.  I always have to break it to straight-sized pals that this isn’t for them. What made you decide to focus on this market?

    The choices for plus are horrible. Plus-size women are three times more likely to shop online, not by choice, frankly, but because there are very few brick and mortar options — and they’re pretty crappy experiences. When you look at the statistics, and realize how much of the population actually fits in size 10 and above, and that it’s the overwhelming majority of the population? It doesn’t make any sense. Everyone else is focused everywhere else. We can really make an impact.

    There have been a couple of other ah-ha moments. When you’re putting on 10-15 lbs and your clothes don’t fit the way they did before but you really don’t want to go out and buy anything, because you’re not accepting the extra weight? It’s convenient to move up and down in sizes seamlessly but it’s also a self-esteem thing. If it looks good because it fits properly, I feel better about myself.

    You’ve been able to build a strong community of members and supporters for your site it seems. The comments in the ratings section of the site are sometimes hilariously insightful  — they don’t hold back.

    We really look at our members as an extension of our product group. We’re pretty good at letting our members be totally transparent with us. You can tell us we screwed up shipping. You can tell us you don’t like our styles. You can tell us we’ve let you down because you haven’t had the color green three launches in a row. And you can post it publicly. What you can’t do is say anything bad about another member. A lot of our staff are members and we hired some of our members to come in and do customer service because they were so enthusiastic about stuff it carried us forward.

    What appealed to you about the sharing economy model?

    Two reasons — one that’s emotional and another that’s utilitarian. On the utilitarian front, you can’t buy all the things you want. Even if you could, it’s wasteful. It’s just so much cheaper to have a much bigger wardrobe and share it among other people. Essentially you’re raising the utilization of the core good in the economy; each person can pay a sliver in order to get the same kind of value out of it. I like the efficiency.

    From an emotional standpoint, the fact that you can wear so many more clothes in so many different prints and take more risks? It makes clothing so much more fun.

    When you think about whether you’re going to buy something, there’s a pretty high consideration barrier. Does it fit perfectly? Can I afford it? Does it go with other things that I have? What does this piece of clothing say about me? How many more months can I wear it before the season turns over. Are people going to recognize over and over again? With our model all you have to do is say, “Do I like it enough to try it?” And that to me is such an easier question to answer.

    You certainly have the business plan nailed down. And you never got an MBA?

    No, I did a bunch of start-ups instead. In my opinion you can get an MBA in a classroom, which is usually valuable from a networking standpoint, or you can get one on the job. If you’re willing to take a ton of risk, you can join a three-person startup that may totally fall on its face — you can get an MBA that way too. I remember calling home to my parents after I quit my first job. I was a strategic financial analyst — a very steady job but very stressful in its own way. My mom and dad understood that career path. When I told them I was joining a start-up, they were like “what are you doing? You’re taking a 50 percent cut in salary!” They couldn’t understand the risk element. I was like it’s ok, I’ll eat ramen noodles and Campbell’s soup — it’s fine. It was such a foreign concept to them. Every week they’d call and ask how the company was doing and I’d say, “It’s failing, it’s failing spectacularly.” You can learn a lot that way and have the scars to show for it. That was my approach.

    When we first met, you told me about how an ever-changing closet of clothing was kind of in your DNA?

    My aunt was a seamstress and she would make outfits for her daughter and me. My cousin and I would swap and trade clothing — this went on essentially until I went to college. We never wore anything twice. We would then take our clothes to a consignment shop and sell it, get money to buy more material at Jo-Ann’s fabrics and my aunt would make us something new. So I grew up around patterns and sewing and experimentation with clothing. I never knew my size because my aunt would just buy patterns and tweak them for me. Everything always fit so I never had that experience of going in and trying on clothes that weren’t going to work for me. They weren’t fancy clothes, but I was very very spoiled. When I left for college and I suddenly had to start buying clothes, I hated it. Nothing fit!

    You’re not plus-sized yourself are you?

    I’m a big weight fluctuator. I’ve been in sizes 16 and 18 before. I’m happy to be where I am now, but I have no illusions that it’s a permanent thing. My best friend is plus-size and I know how hard it is for her to find clothing. I still actually can’t convince her to become a member. She’s still in this, “I don’t want any clothes” kind of mindset. I don’t think women need to feel bad about themselves — and that’s what we’re trying to change. We want to promote a very body positive culture.

    And the name Gwynnie Bee — where did that come from?

    Not a great story around that. I wanted to do a children’s book series. The main character was named Gwynstance. I was a strong-willed seven-year old.

    Read more of Margit Detweiler’s “MidgeMadge” column on TueNight. You can find her on Twitter @Margit.

    About TueNight:
    TueNight is a weekly online publication for women to share where they’ve been and explore where they want to go next. We are you, part two. www.tuenight.com

  • Federal Judge Chastises Justice Department In NSA Dispute
    WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge is taking the Justice Department to task for failing to inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that a federal court in California had issued preservation orders for phone data collected in a government surveillance program.

    The chief judge of the surveillance court, Reggie Walton, said Friday that the Justice Department should have made him aware of the preservation orders. Walton is demanding a written explanation from government lawyers. The judge says he expects the government to be far more attentive to its obligations in its practice before the court.

  • Google's Apparently Sick Of Hearing People Complain About Glass
    Apparently, Google is starting to get defensive about Glass.

    On Thursday, the company took to Google Plus and released a post titled “The Top 10 Google Glass Myths.” The writeup contains several counter-claims to some of the familiar gripes people have about the technology. Here are some examples:

    Myth: “Glass is always on and recording everything”
    Google: “Glass isn’t designed for or even capable of always-on recording”

    Myth: “Glass marks the end of privacy”
    Google: “People feared the same when the first cell phone cameras came out.”

    It makes sense for Google to address some of these common complaints. After all, for a product that’s being marketed as the future of technology, a lot of the news surrounding the device hasn’t been so positive.

    Last year, a woman was given a traffic ticket for driving with her Glass (though it was later dismissed), and this month, a West Virginia state legislator sought to ban drivers from using the technology while on the road. In addition, more and more bars and restaurants are banning Glass entirely.

    This isn’t the first time Google has attempted to keep the peace when it comes to Glass, either. Last month, the company released an etiquette guide for Explorers, or those currently testing Glass. “Respect others and if they have questions about Glass don’t get snappy,” the post notes. “Be polite and explain what Glass does and remember, a quick demo can go a long way.”

    In a blog post for The Huffington Post, Google Glass enthusiast Robert Scoble recently said Google is losing steam in its adoption of Glass. He pointed out the technology has been in its prototype phase for nearly two years with little tangible movement toward launch.

    It’s unclear if the negative public reception is holding the product back, but it’s apparent Google seems keen on protecting Glass’ image.

  • Crying Baby's Mind Is Blown When He Sees Himself Crying
    When trying to get a baby to stop crying, sometimes you have to get creative. A dog might do the trick, or dad’s singing, possibly even Biggie.

    All YouTuber NojiBera’s kid needs is a video of himself sobbing to realize he should STOP CRYING.

    Hey, whatever works?

  • Microsoft revises privacy policy in wake of Hotmail search case
    Blowback in handling of corporate espionage case forces Microsoft to promise stronger policies protecting privacy of Hotmail account holders.
  • Obama Meeting With Tech CEOs To Discuss NSA Concerns

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is meeting with CEOs from leading Internet and technology companies to discuss their concerns about privacy and National Security Agency programs.

    The White House says Obama will host the leaders Friday in the Oval Office. The meeting comes two months after Obama gave a speech proposing changes to NSA spying programs following public and industry concern.

    Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will join the meeting. So will Drew Houston of the file storage site Dropbox and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

    Zuckerberg wrote on his own Facebook page last week that he had called Obama to express his frustration over damage he says the government is creating for everyone’s future. Zuckerberg says it seems like it will take a long time for true reform.

  • If You Ask This Woman How Many Children She Has, She'll Say, '32'
    Annmarie Richards operates on unconditional love.

    This became clear to Joel Robbins, Matthew Butler and Jenny Ljung when the trio was out to a business dinner with her in Aruba in February 2013. Richards, 54, is a salesperson for Unicity International, a company that sells products that “improve overall physical health and wellness,” according to its website. But she only does this on the side for a supplemental income.

    Her full-time job is “Mom.” And she has 32 children to look after.

    “When Jenny asked her how many kids she had and she said that, we all thought, ‘What? What do you mean?'” Robbins, 28, who produced the short film above, told The Huffington Post. Together, he, Butler, 28, and Ljung, 26, run GoBoka Play, a YouTube channel that partners with companies that promise to donate funds to the subjects of GoBoka’s videos.

    The idea is this: If you view a GoBoka video, a company will donate money to a cause.

    “A lot of young people or college kids or anyone, really, want to do humanitarian things, but they don’t have the money to help out,” Robbins explained to HuffPost. “With GoBoka, instead of donating a dollar, all they have to do is play, like or share a video.”

    They call it, “playing-it-forward.”

    So, when Richards explained at dinner last year that she’s devoted her life to taking in homeless children off the streets of Jamaica, the GoBoka team knew they had to make a video about her. Last December, they flew to Jamaica and filmed Richards and the children whose lives she’s changed. She says she has 32 kids because over the years, 32 children have come in and out of her doors — many of them have gone on to graduate from high school and find meaningful work, according to the video above.

    “We sent them to school, we bathed them, we washed them, and we took them in. We took care of them,” Richards says. “How we do it is we take you on unconditionally, we don’t need to know where you’re from, we just know that the love in our heart … is a reason to help another child.”

    If Richards’ video reaches 50,000 views by April 10th, the Make Life Better Foundation, Unicity’s charity foundation, will donate a computer lab to Richards’ kids.

    Annmarie Richards

    Robbins, Butler, and Ljung.

    h/t Viral Viral Videos

  • Forums: the true faults of iPhone photography
    This week in the MacNN forums, Mac Elite “PeterParker” started a thread discussing the pros and cons of taking pictures with an iPhone from the point of view of someone who has studied professional photography. Today, one Mac Elite hit their head against the wall while trying to figure out problems with iTunes 11, and turned to the forums looking for advice.


  • Knowing When to Say TTYL8R as We Navigate the World of Digital Communication

    Not quite a digital native, I am part of a generation that is minding the digital gap. I wrote postcards from summer camp, exchanged handwritten letters with my grandmother and still send cards to loved ones on occasion. But I also remember the big buzz around the advent of email. More recently, and admittedly more reluctantly, I have joined the masses of texters, electronic chatterers and (audible “eek!”) tweeters.

    Navigating this brave new world, I fight against the impulse of skepticism. After all, new methods of communication may enhance the boundaries of our interactions, for example by facilitating close contact despite geographical distance. At the same time, digital communication can widen the gap of miscommunication between us.

    A few weeks back, for example, I kept a text message to a family member brief because I was about to lose phone service when the train went underground. The shortness of my note caused concern. Thankfully, my family member followed up for reassurance that all was well with me and between us.

    A patient of mine recently described drowning in some digital quicksand after an argument with her friend: The day after their fight, the friend repeatedly instant messaged. My patient was in a meeting and unable to immediately respond. When she wrote back, her friend indicated that it was obvious to her that the patient was not remorseful because she had not responded to the earlier messages. The dispute escalated.

    Is technology the culprit? It’s impossible to know for certain, but a growing body of research investigating the impact of new media on human relationships does invite finger-pointing. For example, recent surveys indicate that in the U.S., text-messaging is the most common cell-phone activity and in young people, text-based dialogue (i.e., instant messaging) is the most frequent method of digital communication. Yet text-based communication is associated with weaker bonding between two individuals as compared to video or in-person interactions.

    That online communication lacks the usual signals of emotion and attention is both obvious and empirically proven (and arguably, may be true of snail mail too). Findings from a recent investigation suggest that our biological response differs between online and in-person interactions, with the latter more likely to induce an increase in the bonding-related hormone oxytocin. That said, some couples do report that online communication methods have allowed them to resolve an argument that was difficult to resolve face-to-face.

    Thus, the blame game seems neither fair nor productive (and when is it, really?). Instead, let’s use our energy to problem-solve digital dilemmas, to evaluate how to use available communication pathways, and to decide when to say TTYL8R and opt for face-to-face conversations:

    1. Respect the character limit. Texts and tweets have character limits for a reason. These modes of communication are best suited for brief interactions — confirming plans, sending a short note of support or a reminder — rather than lengthy conversations.

    2. Beware of tone deafness. The tone with which you type — particularly a sarcastic sentiment or joke — may not be the tone with which your message is read. Consider developing shorthand or using a pre-existing source of digital etiquette (even Emily Post’s great-great-grandson has a word or two on this) with your partner. Maybe it’s indicating when you are JK (just kidding!), VENTING FRUSTRATION (all CAPS), or using italics or *asterisks,* to signal sarcasm.

    3. If it’s a serious matter, consider whether or not your mode of communication reflects that. What are the benefits of sharing serious news or concerns over text, chat, or email? Could the use of new technologies increase chances of miscommunication? How might your relationship or sense of self be strengthened if you choose to face matters of consequence in person (or if long-distance, then by video chat)?

    4. Put yourself in your communication partner’s shoes. Ever find yourself unable to promptly respond to a text message because you are otherwise occupied? Ever get an email that demanded a thought-out response for which you did not have an immediate answer or the time to craft it? Ever find that an instant message dialogue is taking you into sensitive territory, as you sit in a bustling office? If you are upset that your text, email or chat remark is not met with immediate response, try to remember that the recipient may not be available or ready to respond for any number of reasons, most of which you have probably experienced too.

    5. Take a digital time-out. If what started as a straightforward digital interaction has become fraught, especially if you or your partner is overheating, step away from your device! Technology facilitates fast communication, but it does not necessitate it. A break will help you gain perspective and clarify your thoughts. If you absolutely cannot let the conversation go, consider a longer-form method — while snail mail is so last century, email is only so last decade.

    Though the possible communication choices are plentiful and quickly evolving, the pace of technological advancement will not outpace our need to communicate. And we (me, my patient and even you, reader) are all in it together. As we navigate these new technologies, let’s be patient with one another. Because, be it through modern or old-fashioned communication methods, we are all trying to provide information, convey empathy, express love, longing and frustration. To connect.

  • How Tipping Is Changing in the Digital Age
    by Michael Y. Park

    Your smartphone has staged a coup on your social life, invaded your mealtimes, and probably gobbles up more of your free time than your best friend (unless her name is Siri).

    And now it’s changing how much you tip — and you may not even be aware of it. Mobile-phone apps, Square, the new Starbucks digital-tipping service, and similar 21st-century doohickeys are beginning to render our wallets superfluous, and the digital age is establishing new standards for how much gratuities for eating out should be.

    “Fifteen percent is old school,” said Manny Pena, owner of Astor Row Cafe in New York City. “Twenty percent is the new 15 percent.”

    Pena, whose restaurant uses Square, has seen tips increase noticeably in the past couple of years, and said it’s more than the expected tip creep that’s associated with generally rising prices. At Molly Moon’s Ice Cream in Seattle, owner Molly Moon Neitzel said that her scoopers went from making about $8 an hour in tips to $12 an hour since her stores embraced digital tipping. Adam Mesnick, owner of the Deli Board in San Francisco, said tips used to make up from 5 to 10 percent of total daily sales. Now? Tips range from 7 to 16 percent of sales.

    For Pena, the explanation is that the act of tipping has become a lot more abstract: Even the stingiest customer doesn’t feel quite the same punch in the wallet when he scribbles a couple of numbers onto an iPad instead of counting out and handing over a wad of cash.

    “I think there’s some kind of a casino effect,” he said. “You don’t comprehend that it’s real money.”

    But credit cards have been around a long time, so the increases can’t be explained merely by the fact that the U.S. is transitioning to a cashless society.

    It’s all about what’s really valuable to people who eat out, said Mark Egerman. He’s a co-founder of Cover, a service that could be described as the restaurant version of the taxicab app Uber — Cover users who go to one of the hundreds of Cover-affiliated restaurants in New York City don’t even have to wait for a check when they’re done eating — the bill (and the tip) are taken care of through their Cover account via their smartphone app. The average New York City diner tips 18.8 percent, but the average Cover user tips 21.7 percent. Though he acknowledges that his clients are a self-selecting group that makes more money than the average New Yorker, Egerman is convinced digital services like his are primarily making people tip more because of simple psychology.

    SEE MORE: 23 Spring Recipes For Warmer Weather

    “Tipping down is rare,” he said. “But the No. 1 reason people do tip down is waiting for the check. One of the reasons for that is that waiters spend too much time swiping cards. By removing that, waiters spend more time with guests.”

    And pampered guests are happier guests, and happier guests are bigger tippers. So in a sense, customers who use apps or digital tipping services are tipping more because they’re willing to shell out a couple extra bucks for something more precious to them: their time.

    Still, payment apps and digital services don’t shy away from nudging customers toward generosity.

    When the Big Apple’s taxis began adopting credit-card readers, many lifelong New Yorkers were shocked to discover that they’d apparently been undertipping their cabbies for years–at the checkout screen, they were presented with their tip choices, with 20 percent being the smallest option. (A small, easily missed button in the corner allows riders to enter other amounts.) Of course, they hadn’t really been undertipping before, but thanks to the way the screens were laid out, 20 percent became the new norm overnight. It’s a strategy known as anchoring, subtly or not so subtly establishing a new standard by shifting the choices you present. If you want Team Big Tippers to score more touchdowns, you’re going to help them immensely by moving the 50-yard line toward the goal.

    The same goes for most digital-payment services that include a tipping option. Most offer restaurateurs and shop owners the choice of letting customers tip by percentage or flat-dollar amount, or whether to switch from flat dollars to a percentage-based tip if the total bill comes to, say, $10 or more. Some allow them to set the default percentage as the tip — customers can adjust the percentage at checkout. Unsurprisingly, most customers pay the default. Cover’s standard default, for example, is 20 percent. Square customers have a feature called Smart Tips that allows customers to either leave no tip or one of three tip percentages on bills of $10 or more — the lowest percentage is 15 percent, the highest 25 percent. Clearly, the implication is that the “generous” 15 percent tip your dad used to give is no longer considered quite so generous.

    Even something as seemingly mundane as deciding to have a two-part payment screen with a tip screen that comes before the signature screen, instead of a single screen with both, can make a tremendous difference. Neitzel found that out when a glitch in the Square service turned her two-screen payment into a one-screen for a few hours one day.

    “The employees noticed immediately that they were making way less tips,” she said.

    That extra line asking whether you want to leave a tip makes a big difference to how much a server takes home at the end of the shift, it turns out. Now, when it comes to baristas, ice-cream scoopers, and sandwich-shop counter guys, tipping is no longer just an afterthought. Customers have to consciously click “no tip” before completing their transaction.

    SEE MORE: 22 Recipes Everyone Should Know How to Cook

    “I wouldn’t use the term ‘tip-shaming,'” Neitzel said. “I would say, as a citizen of the world, every decision we make that impacts other people should be made with consciousness. If you do not tip someone for a tip they provided, it should be a conscious choice, not one a machine makes for you.”

    “It’s a nice friendly reminder,” Mesnick said.

    Both restaurateurs and digital-payment providers said people shouldn’t get the impression they’re designing their products to favor servers or fleece money out of customers. Instead, it’s about giving customers more flexibility when it comes to gratuities.

    For example, the Starbucks digital-tipping app offers four options: no tip, 50 cents, $1, and $2. When the average coffeeshop customer makes small purchases but is increasingly likely to pay for them with a credit card, leaving any tip at all can prove a hassle. Digital tipping solves that problem.

    “No more, ‘How do I tip my barista without going to an ATM to get cash?'” said Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills.

    And Egerman said companies like his are well aware that you’re not going win over many customers if you sap all the fun from going out.

    “We considered adding a feature where the tip screen could say, ‘You just chose to tip 16 percent. In New York City, the average is 18 percent.'” he said. “But we decided the last thing people want on a night out is their phone shaming them.”

    Still, some servers aren’t convinced that they’re really sharing in the bounty of the digital age at all.

    “I think people are tipping probably more precisely because there are so many apps out there to figure out what your tip is, but I haven’t seen a big change,” said Darren Cardosa, a New York waiter who blogs under the alias The Bitchy Waiter. “I think it’s a wash — people are rounding up or rounding down. And I don’t know many waiters who appreciate Groupon groups or those social-media deals.”

    But Chase McCown, who writes about his Los Angeles restaurant travails on his Bitter Waiter blog, said he’s happy that his tips will soon be coming to him in the form of abstract ones and zeros instead of cold, hard cash — with one caveat.

    “I’d just tell people to keep taking into account service that went above and beyond,” he said.

    Prefer cash? Here are the 10 best tip jars we’ve ever seen

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  • Phil Spencer on Xbox One 'always-on' debacle: 'We could have been more clear'
    On the final day of the Game Developers Conference, the head of Microsoft Studios opens up about the Xbox One’s tumultuous road to launch and the company’s indie game relationship.
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    My son has been having conversations with imaginary characters. I know, because I can listen to some of them, and even see pictures.
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    Hey XP users, time to move on — Microsoft is saying in no uncertain terms by offering $100 off a new PC.
  • The Funniest Someecards Of The Week
    Well, this week was a real stinker. Spring came, but cold weather remained, the media continued to be a Flight MH370 sh*tshow, and everyone’s March Madness brackets were ruined on Day 1.

    Let’s take one last look back, and then move on. We picked the funniest Someecards from the past week. Send, send away!

  • 'Ghoster's Paradise' Is Every Wronged Woman's New Anthem
    Yes, it’s a thing. It’s not just you.

    You know what we’re talking about: From the urban sludge of un-dateable men you’ve unearthed a potential gem. You have a few great dates and then homeboy vanishes into thin air. You feel confused and rejected, experiencing something in between psychological warfare and emotional blue balls.

    There are a few names for it: the fade out, the fade away, getting “ghosted.” When comedy writer Hannah Vanderpoel identified the trend and confirmed its prevalence among 20-something women, she decided to make a video about it.

    Quick synopsis: Girl dates guy. Guy ceases all contact. Girl consults girlfriends. Girlfriends compose a rap opera condemning every stage of the fade out.

    Part public service announcement, part poetry for the straight single girl, the video is a warm embrace for anyone who’s received the ghost treatment. Coolio’s ’90s hit “Gangsta’s Paradise” provides a fitting beat and lyrical guideline. “Been spending most our lives, living in a Ghoster’s Paradise. Go out maybe once or twice, no call after an amazing night.”

    What’s wonderful about “Ghoster’s Paradise” is that it doesn’t get its kicks solely from the desperation of single women, but lampoons the men who can’t be bothered to let a woman know if they plan on seeing her again. It’s not a ballad — it’s lyrical roast.

    While our mothers waited for a guy to call, millennial women have access to multiple social media outlets to confirm or deny any and all factors that could account for delayed communication. We put enough faith in technology to fly us in the air and take pictures of our bones, but in a state of relative lust with an unrequited text in play, we lose all confidence in a phone’s ability to deliver a text message.

    In the unlikely event our protagonist’s devices are perfectly healthy and he actually hasn’t contacted her, she wonders “Were you kidnapped or did you die?” (When the alternative is “he’s just not that into you,” we definitely prefer the abduction theory.) In a later verse, she exclaims: “You posted a Vine, so I know you’re not dead!” Ugh, sorry girl.

    At the end of the video, the aggrieved — draped in animal fur and slick shades with her lady crew by her side — addresses unfinished business with this ghost. Unlike the ghost, we’re not gonna front: The ending is victorious.

    [h/t The Gaggle]

  • Twitter Ban In Turkey Prompts Even More Tweets
    When Turkish Prime Minster Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “wipe out” Twitter on Thursday, he set himself up for a showdown with the company, the international community, and crucially — with Turkey’s social media savvy population.

    Erdogan declared his war on Twitter during an election rally on Thursday, saying he would wipe out the service and did not care what the international community had to say about it. “Twitter, mwitter!,” Erdogan added gleefully (The phrase roughly translates to “Twitter, schmitter!”).

    The Turkish prime minister was drumming up support ahead of local elections on March 30 and a potential presidential run later this year. But Erdogan has been dogged by corruption scandals and popular protests against his government and the strongman had often blamed social media for aggravating tension.

    Just hours after Erdogan’s comments, at midnight on Thursday, Turkish telecoms watchdog BTK announced Twitter had gone down citing court orders. Shortly after, accessing Twitter.com in Turkey returned a page describing the site’s removal.

    Here’s what people in #Turkey are seeing when they try to access Twitter: pic.twitter.com/jRl5CO3JaL

    — grasswire (@grasswire) March 20, 2014

    A mere three hours later, however, more tweets went out from the country than on a regular day before the ban — according to Turkish data analysis company Gonzo Insight 2. 5 million to be precise, or 17,000 per minute.

    In an eruption of outrage, Turkey’s Twitter ban became the top trending topic early Friday.

    Twitter is blocked in Turkey, and ironic worldwide trending topics #TwitterisblockedinTurkey pic.twitter.com/QLrMl4TtPZ

    — Burak Sonmez (@burkilemos) March 21, 2014

    Well that’s backfiring. The whole world is watching, Turkey. #TwitterisblockedinTurkey pic.twitter.com/mexOESV7Qd

    — Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) March 21, 2014

    Twitter’s policy team sent out a tweet with instructions on circumventing the ban by using SMS, retweeted by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey.

    Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.

    — Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014

    Turkish tweeps got even more creative, circulating instructions on how to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get around the ban. One Twitter user posted a photo of a Turkish cellphone full of VPN apps.

    a list of apps on an average turkish phone. in case. pic.twitter.com/qOkafKV5Sy

    — Engin Onder (@enginonder) March 20, 2014

    Another route around the Twitter ban, changing your Domain Name System (DNS) server, spread like wildfire.

    Govt blocks twitter in Turkey. Here’s the Google DNS workaround step-by-step #TwitterisblockedinTurkey #twitter pic.twitter.com/sJVSU1ojwh

    — Eduardo Oliveira (@eduoliveira98) March 21, 2014

    For those in Turkey already locked out of the site, the instructions have been widely posted where they can be seen — on the streets.

    Twitter is blocked in Turkey. On the streets of Istanbul, the action against censorship is graffiti DNS addresses. pic.twitter.com/XcsfN7lJvS

    — Utku Can (@utku) March 21, 2014

    Main opposition party (CHP) in #Turkey publicizes DNS #’s to circumvent #twitter block. As seen in Istanbul pic.twitter.com/XjIvnudfgG

    — Abdelrahman Ayyash (@3yyash) March 21, 2014

    Turkey’s Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc, who is known to have had frequent fall-outs with the prime minister, went on tweeting as normal on Friday with an innocuous post about his schedule.

    Bugün Manisa’da olacağız…

    — Bülent Arınç (@bulent_arinc) March 21, 2014

    Meanwhile, Turkish President Abdullah Gul flouted the ban and took to… Twitter.. to express his discontent. “One cannot approve of the complete closure of social media platforms,” he posted on his official account.

    Sosyal medya platformlarının tamamen kapatılması tasvip edilemez.

    — Abdullah Gül (@cbabdullahgul) March 21, 2014

    The president had earlier spoken out against Erdogan’s previous clampdown on web freedoms, although some analysts note that Gul has not blocked Erdogan’s measures and accuse the pair of playing a good cop, bad cop routine.

    Turkey’s angry Twitter users responded to Erdogan’s challenge in force on Friday, mercilessly mocking the prime minister on the social network.

    Twitter is incredibly popular in the country. According to Gonzo Insight data, 10 million tweets are posted each day from the country on average , a figure that may yet be dwarfed by the Twitter explosion on Friday. Pew’s Conrad Hackett noted that a higher proportion of Turkey’s internet users use social media than in the U.S.

    Take a look at some of the best tweets in the slideshow below.

Mobile Technology News, March 21, 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.

  • Starbucks App Gets A Beautiful Update for iOS

    This week Starbucks has released a significant update to the Starbucks app for iPhone.  The update is a beautifully crafted app that is eye appealing but also function, providing all matter of information on your Starbucks account and where you are on your way to your next coffee reward.
    The app’s […]

    The post Starbucks App Gets A Beautiful Update for iOS appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Microsoft in email privacy storm
    Microsoft is caught up in a privacy storm after the technology firm admits it read the Hotmail inbox of a blogger while pursuing a software leak investigation.
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    Twitter users in Turkey report that the social media site has been blocked in the country.
  • MtGox finds 200,000 lost bitcoins
    Bankrupt Japanese firm MtGox says it has found 200,000 lost bitcoins worth millions of dollars in a digital wallet from 2011 that it no longer uses.
  • Kamala Harris Calls California A Major Target For Cyber Criminals
    By Laila Kearney
    SAN FRANCISCO, March 20 (Reuters) – California has become a major U.S. target of cyber crimes committed by outlaw groups with ties to Eastern Europe, China and Africa, according to a report by state Attorney General Kamala Harris released on Thursday.
    As part of a broader report on international organized crime groups, Harris said about 17 percent of attempts to hack into major computer networks in the United States in 2012 were aimed at California, which is the most populous U.S. state.
    “Transnational criminal organizations are relying increasingly on cybercrime as a source of funds – which means they are frequently targeting, and illicitly using, the digital tools and content developed in our state,” Harris said in a statement attached to the 97-page report.
    In addition to computer crimes, Harris’s report detailed activities of international organized crime groups including human trafficking and drug smuggling, along with classic scams.
    Many groups are organized along ethnic lines, with ringleaders often outside the United States and foot soldiers and victims in immigrant communities in the country, it said.
    “The growth of transnational criminal organizations seriously threatens California’s safety and economic well-being,” said Harris, who plans to lead a series of meetings in Mexico next week to discuss the problem.
    Criminal groups with ties to the former Soviet Union and Central Europe run gangs throughout California, including the Armenian Power gang, which has links to cyber-crime, financial fraud, identity theft gambling, narcotics and human trafficking, the report said.
    More than two-thirds of methamphetamine imported into the United States comes through California from Mexico, trafficked by international gangs, Harris said.
    In addition, the state’s technology and entertainment-driven economy has made it particularly vulnerable to computer virus attacks and stolen intellectual property, the report said.
    The amount of online activity used for copyright infringement across the world has grown about 160 percent from 2010 to 2012 and threatens to affect California more than other U.S. states, the report said.
    “There is little doubt that over the years digital piracy has robbed creative industries based in California of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and jobs,” it said.
    Online fraud schemes in which goods or services are purchased online but never delivered have affected Californians more than people in other states, the report said.
    “As transnational criminal organizations evolve in the search for profits, California will continue to be an attractive target,” Harris said. (Editing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
  • Microsoft defends opening Hotmail account of blogger in espionage case
    Company says it cracked open the Hotmail account of an unnamed blogger involved in a Windows 8 espionage case in part because he was selling Windows Server activation keys.
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    The consumer group Which? calls for broadband firms to give customers the speed and service they pay for, as 45% claim they suffer slow download speeds.
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    Twitter users in Turkey report that the social media site has been blocked after PM Erdogan vowed to “wipe out” the website.
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  • The Problem Of Trespassing On Niche Dating Sites – Lauren Davidson – The Atlantic
    Black People Meet connects African-Americans looking for love. JDate facilitates dating between Jewish people. Our Time allows the over-50 set to find partners of a similar age. But no one’s checking IDs at the door.
  • Why Right Now the Future Belongs to Google, Not Apple
    When I first read that Google, the company that seems to know everything about us, was swooping in to acquire Nest, the company that strives to make home automation a cinch, for a hefty $3.2 billion, it wasn’t the money that left me stunned, the amount is now only a sixth of what Facebook recently splurged; it was something else.

    A company which began operating out of a garage 15 years ago, with a humble search engine as its only offering, has suddenly become the epicenter of our digital universe. Even before I could realize, Search was omnipresent, Chrome was my gateway to the web, Gmail was my go-to email service, YouTube was called upon to catch up on missed episodes, Maps was summoned every time I stepped into an unknown territory, Drive was backing up my photos as soon as I clicked them, and my brilliant Nexus 5 simply became an extension of myself.

    Google had taken over, even before I could press pause.

    The search giant has infiltrated almost every sphere of our digital interaction and made the experience richer, more satisfying and rather beautiful. Their suite of services simply feels all-encompassing, with your Google ID being the key to a thousand doors. There are many big-name brands which often try to achieve this, but either their endeavor feels too intrusive or they just fail without a whimper.

    This one though, this particular one, seems to be nailing it.

    Why the Nest acquisition seems like a watershed event is because of the avenue Google is trying to open up  —  this is not your game-changing smartphone app, or an eye-popping web service, but a solid tangible product that Google aims to weave into its ecosystem. It’s their first foray into something so different from their core services, something which is popularly and rather pompously called the Internet of Things. Yes, you could almost hear the cacophony around the term settle down as soon as this acquisition was made, and another multi-billion dollar industry was born.

    And with this, Google one upped all its rivals, all in one fell swoop.

    Offhand, it’s rash to say that Google is winning the race. To better discern the tussle within the Valley, many files need to be decoded.

    Stuck in 1 Infinite Loop

    The address of Apple’s headquarters seems to typify its dilemma somewhat accurately. To begin with, they have vehemently refused to liberalize its notorious iTunes software, sadly our only (legal) way to get data flowing to and from an iOS device. Only the other day I had to restore my iPad to its original state and trusted iTunes to run the errand for me. I use the word “trusted” because I was not trying to attempt something which Apple throttles me to. After wasting a lot of time and a handful of bandwidth, iTunes refused to install the software package it had downloaded  —  iOS 6.1.3. It was only later that I realised that Apple had a peculiar penchant for not allowing even a slightly outmoded version of iTunes to download their latest version of iOS  —  iOS 7 in this case. And since Apple’s servers are hardcoded to prevent anyone from legally installing any other OS than their newest one, their trusted lieutenant iTunes was denied permission to install it on my iPad.

    Ingenious. Shrewd. Dumb.

    For all their attention to detail and obsession with precision crafted products, all Apple could have done is have iTunes give me a short staccato message asking for an update in order to restore my iPad. Simple.

    But iTunes is only a small part of the argument. If a company is making more money than the whole of Microsoft from only one of their products, it must be doing something right.

    The iPhone. It enjoys an exalted status among the sea of smartphones, maybe because it started the juggernaut, and warrants a beefy study of its own.

    When Steve Jobs asked his engineers to design a phone which doesn’t require physical buttons to receive and end calls, they didn’t know what had hit them. But it was precisely this level of brilliance and skill which Jobs demanded that gave birth to one of the most iconic devices in world history, a cult classic. On June 29, 2007, Apple effectively blew every phone manufacturer’s socks off and left consumers in awe. The media went as far as calling it the “Jesus phone.” It is conjectured that Android, now the world’s most used smartphone OS, is said to have been tweaked generously following the iPhone’s announcement.

    It’s not difficult to see why. A touchscreen which renounced styli, pinch to zoom, flick to scroll; it was almost bewildering why such beautifully simple innovations ever evaded the developers’ mind. Suddenly, the competition’s best offerings looked like a tribute to a bygone era. Apple had done to the smartphone what they had accomplished with the MP3 player. They had changed the game yet again. Everyone wanted an iPhone.

    But seven years, half a billion iPhones and the sad demise of a CEO later, Apple is, let’s admit it, starting to look jaded. It’s almost like that venerated magician who seems to have run out of tricks & keeps running the same show to please gullible children.

    It’s easy to say that a new iPhone still generates the kind of hysteria which any other phone could only dream of. But truth to be told, even if Apple sat on its haunches and re-branded the iPhone 5s as the iPhone 6 this fall, it would still sell in the same, if not better numbers.

    The company which took the world by storm with its revolutionary iPhone 4 has sadly skimped on true innovation ever since. We had expected iPhone 4S to be as groundbreaking as its predecessor. Much to our chagrin though, 4S suffered first from a rejigged launch cycle & second, from the absence of anything even remotely breathtaking. Admit it, Siri is a fizzled firework.

    Apple’s creation seemed all the more uninspiring when only a few months ago, Samsung had launched the Galaxy SII, a widely acclaimed device which heralded the onslaught of Android.

    Jobs departed only a couple of days after the 4S was unveiled. Amid the torrent of due encomiums, it was secretly rumored that he was in fact working on the iPhone 5, and that the 4S was always supposed to be a minor update. “Great” I thought, dismissing the 4S as a mere aberration in Apple’s glorious pedigree of devices.

    Longer screen, slimmer profile, chamfered edges: iPhone 5 —  aging wine in a shiny new bottle.

    The sheen had come off, and the Apple’s magnum opus had slipped from being the industry’s gold standard to something that was more in demand for the bitten fruit seared on its back.

    With the iPhone 5c, Apple employed what seems like one of their more devious marketing moves  –  Pulling the plug on a classier ex flagship and sneaking in a plastic toy in its place only to make the current, more expensive flagship look more covetous. Whatever happened to creating a groundbreaking product and letting it speak for itself?

    Don’t get me wrong  —  I am a huge fan of their iMacs and Macbooks and the gorgeous new Mac Pro. I think OS X is still the desktop OS to beat. And with the iPad mini, they’ve nailed the mini tablet like it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I wish, alas, that I could say the same about iOS7 as well. It’s full of bugs, the animations are choppy, the gradients are whacked out and it looks like it’s been designed keeping the kitschy iPhone 5c in mind. It’s funny, almost cartoonish.

    But again, Apple sells. It sells its wares in huge numbers, like HUGE. The iMac recently completed 30 years and Apple did their best to cash in on the occasion. Financially at least, things were looking skywards.

    Investors were expecting outstanding returns from Apple’s Q4 2013 sales. They were left disappointed, once again; and their stock dipped once again, and once again Tim Cook came out and proclaimed that they have some great stuff lined up for the year. Good old rhetoric.

    Some argue that Apple is paying the price for their “walled garden” approach, while others quip that Apple’s mojo departed with Jobs. I just think that they’ve been averse to taking risks while the competition has leapfrogged way ahead.

    Their loyalists might call it an Apples to Oranges comparison; eerily though, Apple’s logo is almost beginning to look like an accidentally designed prophecy symbolizing a healthy bite taken out of their monopoly.

    Right Out of the Window

    They launched a tablet when it was still a term used mostly for therapeutic advice, their smartphone OS once powered almost every touchscreen phone in the market. Its desktop OS was loved by users and praised by critics, and its portable music player was being billed as the definitive iPod killer.

    Years later, the Surface tablet is still finding its feet in the tablet market, Windows Phone 8 is still just warming up, Windows 8 has been criticized by users and well, critics, and the Zune has completely ceased to exist.

    So where did Microsoft, a brand which inspired fierce devotion, and in its heyday, had people queuing up to buy the next best version of Windows, go wrong?

    They got hung (pun intended) on a BSOD obsessed Windows Vista. Yes, nothing else.

    Why, you ask? So after developing a rock solid and visually pleasant Windows XP, Microsoft and their developers merrily incubated the next version of Windows, only to come out after half a decade with an OS which was half as robust as its predecessor, had scorn inducing issues with software and hardware compatibility, and consumed more memory than most could afford.

    It had without a doubt received a fresh coat of paint (those hate-it-or-love-it frosted glass effects) and looked nothing like Windows XP. But, alas, if it isn’t skin deep, it isn’t beauty. Unsurprisingly then, it was widely panned not only for its shortcomings but also for how it ripped off Mac OS X in some ways. The contempt against Vista reached a crescendo when OEMs had to bow to users’ demands to downgrade their newly purchased computers from Vista to XP.
    3D icons was Vista’s leitmotif.

    It was a jolt to Microsoft, like a stationary Bentley being hit by an invisible force, like a giant been wrenched out of a bad dream. Only, it wasn’t a dream. They knew that quick amends were in order and soon got back to their drawing board to unveil, two years down the line, Windows 7. It was widely adopted by the still wailing users of Windows Vista and smugly accepted by Windows XP loyalists. Pride salvaged, Microsoft thought.

    What they didn’t realize was that they had totally, entirely and comprehensively missed the bus which carried a huge placard saying “Smartphones and tablets this way. So long computers!”

    So when smartphones and tablets did eventually take over and computer sales dwindled, Microsoft was like a deer caught in the headlights. It was unbelievable. They had failed to spot a trend which is cannibalizing the market they thrive on. They were in daze, clueless and hapless.

    Enter Windows 8, Microsoft’s ambitious move to unite phones, computers and tablets. Can one really do that? Maybe sometime in the future, or maybe never, but with the existing ecosystem, certainly not today. Windows 8 seems to be suffering the same disdain as Vista, with users clamoring for the traditional Windows experience over the pastel dyed one which Microsoft is desperately trying to push down everyone’s throat. It’s almost too radical a change for an average Joe coming off Windows 7. They’ve already issued a bevy of updates to assuage customers, but Windows 8’s vision and an average PC user’s utilitarian needs simply do not fall in line.

    Of course their Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT are doing a good job of running its hardware but here’s a blunt truth — ever since the market for handheld devices exploded, Microsoft has always been playing catch-up. Why? One, their Windows Phone OS arrived a little too late and that too half baked —  no copy paste remember? Second, the much needed updates have been terribly scant. For comparison, Android received at least 3 major updates in the last year and a half, while Windows Phone basically stagnated. It’s excruciatingly hard, as they realise now, to proselytize an Android or iOS user into an altogether different ecosystem.

    Nokia, Microsoft’s obtainment, is trying to keep afloat with a heavily forked version of Android in Nokia X. What defies logic is their plan to lure users to a high end Windows Phone device if they savour using the company’s mid-range droid. Wouldn’t I just buy a high end Droid from the competition’s offerings instead? Best of luck Elop. But the Finns have to be lauded for pulling out all stops and creating Android totting handsets which most consumers hoped for but never quite expected. Also, it’ll be interesting to see how this Android experiment pans out under Microsoft’s umbrella when the acquisition becomes official sometime later this year. But I digress.

    The question remains  — why couldn’t a company of Microsoft’s scale and resources, despite their best efforts, could do nothing to stem first, the ebbing PC sales, and then the user base lost to Apple and Google.

    The rot for Microsoft started soon after Bill Gates went out figuring waterless toilets and free vaccines while heads like Tim Cook and Larry Page spent every waking second of their lives on driving growth in their organizations. Steve Ballmer’s bombastic mannerisms (never before or since has a CEO leapt out of a cake at a company bash!), scathing product reviews which often left the developers shattered and the products scrapped, and the lack of a fresh perspective has eroded a chunk of their core user base. He’s a sales guy heading a tech company after all! “Maybe I’m an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on,” Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal. “As much as I love everything about what I’m doing,” he added, “the best way for Microsoft to enter a new era is a new leader who will accelerate change.”

    2013 will go down in history as the year when Mac sales finally overtook PC sales. And Apple should pat themselves for this because even after all its foibles Windows still rules the roost when it comes to market share, and it will, in all probability continue to do so for years to come, just without the halo around a newly purchased PC.

    Satya Nadella, the newly crowned CEO of the tech giant has already proved his mettle in the cloud and enterprise division of Microsoft and has his task cut out. He has reiterated that Microsoft needs to reinvent itself in a “cloud and mobile first world.” Led by someone who has risen through the ranks, and shepherded by the genial Gates himself, Microsoft is expected to shed all baggage and begin afresh, looking for new peaks to conquer, in weather that is at best, inclement. The climb will still be a steep one.

    Mudit is an engineer, analyst and writer. Register for the soon to be launched ProsePot.com

  • Netflix CEO Slams Web Companies Over Net Neutrality
    Netflix CEO Reed Hastings gave Internet Service Providers a strongly worded piece of his mind over net neutrality in a blog post on the company’s website on Thursday.

    In a post titled “Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality,” Hastings laid out why cable giants should be doing more to strengthen net neutrality and “protect our consumer experience.”

    “Some big ISPs are extracting a toll because they can,” Hastings wrote. “They effectively control access to millions of consumers and are willing to sacrifice the interests of their own customers to press Netflix and others to pay.”

    The blog post comes less than a month after Netflix struck an “interconnect” deal with Comcast to give the streaming giant a direct connection to the broadband provider, instead of through third-party providers. The deal is meant to improve both streaming quality and speed for Netflix’s library of movies and TV programs.

    Since the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in January struck down a Federal Communications Commission order that Internet providers such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner Cable had to abide by the principles of network neutrality, treating all users equally, Netflix has been feeling the squeeze. Without net neutrality, ISPs are free to charge more or throttle speeds for data-heavy services such as Netflix streaming or Skype video calling. Since the ruling, Comcast and Verizon customers have complained of a steep drop in the quality and speed of their Netflix streaming.

    Hastings wrote that “while in the short term Netflix will in cases reluctantly pay large ISPs to ensure a high quality member experience, we will continue to fight for the internet the world needs and deserves.”

    Comcast executives see things differently.

    “We are happy that Comcast and Netflix were able to reach an amicable, market-based solution to our interconnection issues and believe that our agreement demonstrates the effectiveness of the market as a mechanism to deal with these matters,” David L. Cohen, Comcast executive vice president, said in a statement responding to Hastings’ blog post.

  • 5 Advanced Strategies for Saving Money When Shopping Online
    Savvy shoppers already know that when shopping online, it just takes a bit of motivation and research to beat the sticker price on almost any item. Retailers make the experience a labyrinth of discounts, promo codes and rewards cards — most people end up getting discouraged and paying the full price.

    I’ve compiled some of strategies we’ve either used or considered using at Zinc to ensure that our customers get the best possible price on their purchases. Individually, each strategy can save you a few percentage points, but when applied together, these often lead to some serious savings.

    1. Use the right credit card. This is the simplest way to save anywhere from 2% to 5% on everything you purchase online. For example, Amazon offers 3% cash back with the Amazon Rewards Visa. By far the best deal I’ve found is the Target REDcard, which offers both 5% cash back and free shipping. Even a credit card that isn’t co-branded can often get you 2% cash back at any retailer. There’s no cost to opening or maintaining these cards — just remember to pay them off!

    2. Subscribe. Many online stores, including Amazon and Target, now offer between 5% and 15% off a purchase if you subscribe to ordering it regularly. Even with these discounts, the retailers tend to make money from customers who forget about the subscription (the classic “gym membership” model). If you remember to cancel it when you no longer need the subscription, you’ll end up saving a good bit of cash.

    3. Buy at the best possible time. Amazon is notorious for dynamic pricing, where the prices of items change many times per day based on a black-box algorithm, and more and more retailers are adopting this pricing method. Products can sometimes fluctuate up to 15% in price within a couple of hours. Tools like CamelCamelCamel monitor historic price changes and will let you see if the item frequently sells for a better price, which can help you predict when is the best time to buy.

    4. Share in the affiliate revenue. Most retailers have some sort of affiliate program that pays other websites for bringing them traffic that creates purchases. Several sites, like Ebates and MyPoints, actually allow the consumer to share in this affiliate revenue for a rotating set of categories. All you have to do is use these sites’ referral links when buying goods in those categories, and you’ll get some cash back through PayPal — usually anywhere between 2% and 5% of your order.

    5. Be smart about merchants. When looking at different merchants on sites like Amazon and Ebay, you should consider more than just the price. For example, if you are buying multiple items, finding them from the same merchant will often save you money on shipping costs. An even cooler secret — if you find merchants based in the same state as you, you can often get your item delivered in two or three days, even if you purchase with standard shipping. But a seller in a neighboring state is even better, because they’re less likely to charge you sales tax on the purchase!

  • Twitter Blocked In Turkey: Internet Company Investigates Reports
    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey restricted access to Twitter on Friday hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to “root out” the social media network where wiretapped recordings have been leaked, damaging the government’s reputation ahead key local elections this month.

    Many users trying to access the network early on Friday were confronted with a notice from Turkey’s telecommunications authority, citing court orders for the site’s apparent closure. Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler said the company was “looking into this now,” without saying whether an outage had occurred in the country.

    Twitter’s @policy account earlier sent out messages telling Turkish users in both English and Turkish they could send out tweets by using short message service, or “SMS.” It was unclear if tweets sent this way would be viewable within the country.

    European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes criticized the ban on her Twitter account as “groundless, pointless, cowardly.”

    “Turkish people and the (international) community will see this as censorship. It is,” she said.

    The Internet has in the past weeks been awash with incriminating leaked recordings, including one in which Erdogan allegedly instructs his son to dispose of large amounts of cash from a residence amid a police graft probe. Erdogan, who denies corruption, said the recording was fabricated. Links to the recordings were posted on Twitter.

    At an election rally on Thursday, Erdogan vowed to take steps against Twitter regardless of “what the international community will say.”

    Erdogan insists the recordings are fabricated and part of plot by followers of an influential U.S.-based Muslim cleric to discredit the government ahead of the March 30 elections.

  • Briefly: Starbucks iOS app adds tipping, more PFiddlesoft updates
    Starbucks’ iPhone application has received an update, released today. Redesigned with an improved interface and a personalized dashboard experience, the app now features digital tipping for US company-operated stores. Users will receive a push notification after each eligible transaction, and can tip their barista up to two hours after their purchase. Starbucks v3.0.0 also includes a “Shake-to-Pay” function, allowing a shaking gesture to display the paying barcode at the register. Additionally added is the ability to share rewards milestones on Facebook and Twitter, and one’s entire account hi


  • Woman Tweets To Find Man She Met On A Plane, Modern-Day Fairytale Unfolds
    When Erica Domesek’s Prince Charming didn’t leave behind a glass slipper, she decided to resort to social media to track him down.

    While flying on an American Airlines flight on March 15 from Dallas to Calgary, Canada, Domesek, the founder of the DIY lifestyle brand, “P.S. – I Made This,” hit it off with the man sitting next to her, Yahoo reported.

    After departing the plane without exchanging contact information or last names, she tweeted at the airline for help:

    Dear @AmericanAir: just got off my flight with my future husband, but didn’t catch his full name. Wanna be match maker #flight1037

    — P.S.- I made this… (@psimadethis) March 16, 2014

    They replied saying that they’re not able to give out passenger information, but wished her the best of luck in finding him and told her to keep them updated on the search:

    @psimadethis We’d love to help you find your “Happily Ever After”. We’re unable to give out passenger information. Did you have (1/2)

    — American Airlines (@AmericanAir) March 16, 2014

    @psimadethis something else in mind? (2/2)

    — American Airlines (@AmericanAir) March 16, 2014

    Cinderella was pretty persistent:

    @AmericanAir he was sitting in the front row first class wearing a blue sweater, his name is Clauco. He was born in Torino & lives in soho.

    — P.S.- I made this… (@psimadethis) March 16, 2014

    @AmericanAir this is like a modern day Sleepless in Seattle. I know @stacylondon @SophiaBush @SgtFelicity will help me find HIM

    — P.S.- I made this… (@psimadethis) March 16, 2014

    Don’t worry, folks. Her friend ended up spotting Clauco and, while Domesek declined to provide any further details to Yahoo, we think this love story has a happy ending. At least, we hope it does:

    @AmericanAir all I an say: I’m grateful to Flight1073, my @SamsungMobileUS watch (w/ his photo) & friend I saw @ Apple store who knew him xo

    — P.S.- I made this… (@psimadethis) March 16, 2014

    h/t Yahoo

  • 745 Foot Sky Sculpture Hovers over TED Talks in Vancouver

    Janet Echelman, an urban airpsace artist is a dream weaver or Spider Woman. Hover over the City of Vancouver, she has suspended a 745-foot sculpture in the sky, half the size of the Brooklyn Bridge, over Vancouver for the 30th Anniversary of the TED Talks. Together with Google Creative Lab digital artist, Aaron Koblin, she has created a one-week transformation of a large airspace in downtown Vancouver between the Fairmont Hotel and the new Vancouver Convention center that passersby will be able to light and color with their mobile devices at night. Echelman is known for her fluid, wind and air dream catchers in the sky, woven like fishermen’s nets and using fibers from Saco, Maine, fifteen times the strength of steel.

    “It’s a metaphor for a way of being in the world in that you need to be able to go in, share what you want to share and leave without a trace. It’s like going camping. It’s a light footprint.”

    I sat down with Echelman in her studio in Boston days before her sculpture, titled Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, was hoisted into the sky and asked her about the influences that have made her a darling of the media art world. She has a commission for none other than the Gates Foundation going up this Fall and her piece, Every Beating Second hovers over the SFO airport to name a few. She talks about her early days at Harvard, working for American artist Robert Rauschenberg in Bali and the discovery that the Ancient Colosseum in Rome once had a Valerium suspended in air over the gathering of it’s people as her inspiration for Vancouver.

    How is this sky sculpture in Vancouver different from your others?
    It’s the first test of my sculpture woven into the city at this scale. I’ve been working on it for the last three years and it’s hard to believe it’s finally going to be real. It’s the first test of my sculpture woven into the city at this scale. It’s 745 feet. It’s a huge jump in technical challenge and it turns out that even for a soft net sculpture, when you increase the size, the wind forces grow exponentially. My engineer told me, ‘you’ve doubled the length of your sculpture but your wind forces are ten times larger.’

    What materials do you use?
    I’m using highly engineered fibers. One is called Spectra. It is fifteen times stronger than steel and we weave it into a twelve strand hollow grade being donated by Yale Cordage in Saco, Maine.

    How long will it be in Vancouver and where will it go next?
    It’s being unveiled March 15th and it will stay up for a full week and two weekends and there are several cities working on plans to bring it to their city next.

    Can you tell us who?
    No. Major cities you know and love.

    How high is the Vancouver sculpture suspended?
    We’re drilling into the roofs of major buildings, putting our steel structure in place, the piece is packed and getting ready to unfold on the ground. We’re closing the street all night.

    How do you get permission to drill into buildings?
    As they say with dating… it only takes one. I ask very nicely! Sometimes you have to ask more than one person. Canada aviation had to approve this. We had federal, provincial and municipal hurdles to cross. For the city, we have four different permits. We have a development permit, a building permit, a noise ordinance permit, and two road closure permits. The number of hurdles was daunting.

    This work in Vancouver is designed to be agile and to travel as an idea from city to city. Therefore it needs to mobilize smoothly using only what already exists in the city and so it’s a different endeavor. It’s about being able to adapt and work with what’s already on the site. We’ve attached to the top of a twenty-four-storey Fairmont hotel and to the brand new Vancouver Convention Center with its giant grass roof.

    What emotions do you think your soft structures evoke?
    I think it comes from a memory of being a toddler holding onto my mother’s legs, her skirt billowing above. It’s this sense of being protected yet being connected to open infinite space and it’s preverbal. That’s why it’s so hard to describe. It’s this deep human emotion that is at the core of all my work and its scale is part of that sensation of being small and protected. It’s not scale for its own end.

    What artist has influenced you?
    Working for Robert Rauschenberg. When I was 22, I was living in a village in Bali and he was searching for someone in Asia to help coordinate his exhibitions there and I started helping him and was his personal guide because I spoke the languages in Indonesia and Malaysia.

    After graduating from Harvard, I lived in Ubud, Bali and he asked to see my pictures of my art and then he asked to curate one of the first solo exhibitions of my work. I was making these batik canvasses and I had shown him pictures of them sort of flopping in the wind but when I brought them in for the exhibition, we framed them on stretchers. He made this comment that has reverberated with me for years. He said that if I returned them to their original state when I was making them, of being loose, that even the air currents in the gallery would interact with them and make them move. He felt I should let them return to the way they were. Years later I thought back to this idea of returning them to the state when I was making them and now that’s what I do. It’s about completely soft works that are soft enough to be influenced by the changing currents of wind. He was really a big influence conceptually on my work.

    The Full Interview with Janet Echelman is at TheEditorial.com. This is an exclusive excerpt for Huffingtonpost.com

  • 'Basic Skills' or 'Soft Skills:' What Should Be Taught and Tested?
    Tom Friedman’s New York Times column on February 23 How to Get a Job at Google is a wake-up call for students in or graduates of America’s elite colleges and universities. And, from my humble perspective, it’s a wake-up call for Pre-K-to-high school students, teachers, and parents too. Why? Because a universal assessment of what it will take to succeed in any workplace applies to all job-seekers of this generation, and Friedman’s column offers particular encouragement to those who fall short of the top grades or who attend less highly ranked colleges, or none at all.

    Gary Burnison, CEO Korn/Ferry International, posted a blog response to Friedman on LinkedIn on March 13 highlighting “this is how to get a job anywhere.” (Graphic: Max Griboedov / shutterstock)

    Is creative brain power more valuable than formal education? Google’s Brin, Page, and Schmidt seem to belong to a school of thought that is quite familiar to me and my MIT Media Lab‘s heritage led by Papert, Minsky, Negroponte, and now Ito, and even Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge;” “learning-by-making rules;” and “learning to learn is more important than memorizing information.”

    Don’t get me or Friedman or Media Lab folks or Google’s hiring practices wrong: To the extent that grades reflect certain expertise in the skills today’s organizations and companies require, some test scores are still valid. Grades indicate either natural talent or the ability to apply oneself to learning certain skills that may not come naturally, and playing the game of school — all are desirable qualities in one way or another.

    Mastery of the so called ‘basic skills’ (on which America’s children are currently being tested) are assumed in today’s workplace, whether taught in K12, college, or learned on the job later in order to keep up. However, I believe that for any job, that is even vaguely technical, in all fields — business, health, government, education, entertainment — that will also mean new scores on “new knowledge and skills,” including inventive thinking, digital literacy, fluency in digital participation, digital communication, coding and making digital stuff. And that’s where I’m heading with this essay.

    Friedman clearly notes how Googlers have found that “the old basic skills are not enough,” the more important advantage is ability or capacity to “learn above” the basic skills. That means, the ability to ask big questions, see connections, draw parallels and distinctions, think originally and follow leads, and do it objectively, creatively and collaboratively. The reason this is absolutely essential to Google, and to all organizations that are shaping the new economy, is that innovation and learning to learn new-stuff-on-the-fly are key to their success, and innovation demands perceiving what was not there before and doing whatever you can to learn it.

    That is why I think Google’s articulation of the ‘soft skills’ of leadership, innovation, humility, teamwork, and ownership is so right-on. Soft they may be, but these skills constitute a combination that is essential to the core work of innovation, which rarely happens in instantaneous individual breakthroughs but rather evolves through collaborative group endeavors in which personal adaptability is a necessity.

    From my own experience working in R&D and tech organizations in academia and industry, and being involved in intense futuristic R&D efforts and entrepreneurship over the past three decades, I know that the difficult part is learning how to work in teams in which you may find yourself playing a contributor role one day, a leadership role the next day, and find you have no role at all on yet another day. Knowing when and how to step forward, when to question, when and how to step back, and when and how to exercise influence and teach or direct are the key skills to what Google’s Senior VP of Operations, Laszlo Bock, calls “emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership.”

    This absolutely requires humility, for successful innovation can only be driven by learning, imagination, and by data, never by ego. Therefore, it is extremely important to create learning environments where learners get to stimulate their brains, through brainstorming, thinking imaginatively, researching big questions and innovative ideas that result in new learning processes and learning outcomes (e.g., new data, problem visualization, long-term projects, new products, original digital artifacts that represent new thinking).

    In fact, our Globaloria results from the past seven years in America’s schools demonstrate that successful ideas come not so much from students with the highest grades or test scores, but rather from “average” or “below” kids. They don’t know what they don’t know, and they are not afraid to put their thinking and creative ideas “out there” for others (in the class and on the learning network) to respond to and collaborate on.

    2014-03-20-IditHuffpostImage.png (Photo: Globaloria Students / Globaloria Flickr).

    Of course, innovation (at all levels of expertise) also has a high failure rate, so in addition to humility, you need a relentless belief that you can get stuff to work, that you can build something with your ideas (that they do not remain ideas), and you need to take ownership of that belief so it becomes self-motivating.

    So, yes, Google has got this right and Tom Friedman too. But the attributes we need to cultivate in youth these days so they can grow into getting a job at Google, or any job in the coming economy (NYC School System, Uber, Cisco, Twitter, Electronic Arts, Ford Foundation, Mount Sinai Hospital, NASA, GAP, the Obama administration, or their newly-created start-up), are attributes that in no way belong exclusively to the elite and can be achieved by everyone, if we give them engaging opportunities, starting young.

    And in this spirit, here’s a tale from the field:

    Like many principals in our network, Mr. Kamar Samuels, Principal of the Bronx Writing Academy in NYC, has been recently inspired by the ‘soft skills’ we’ve been explaining and teaching his Globaloria students this year, 283 of them in 6-7-8 grades. So much so, that he recently called my team to a meeting to talk about “expanding into a school-wide Globaloria strategy of a 3-year plan to offer it to every teacher and every student in BWA middle school.” Mr. Samuels says he sees it as “a way to transform learning and thinking across my school in everything we do and teach.” He told us he is super motivated for every teacher and every student to do Globaloria, not just for learning computer science and engineering skills, but also to cultivate these special ‘soft skills’ he have seen emerging among his students, sensing that doing it school-wide can make it even more impactful for the culture he is building (and yes, he also cares about test scores, being part of the NYC public school system, but seem to select another route to get there–by engaging his students in STEM & Computational Inventiveness and thinking about learning in a new way).

    Here’s a video clip from EACPA, a 5-year-old charter school in East Austin, where education leaders Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Gonzales believe just the same: that these fuzzy ‘soft skills’ Friedman is talking about are the ones they want each and every student in their schools to experience every day and hone for life.

    Unfortunately, our intuition says this is the way forward, but many in our society tell us we still have a long way to go. It’s not yet intuitive that inventing and making stuff such as designing, coding and building video games can address these specific ‘soft skills’ — though not implausible either. As important as these ‘soft skills’ are, the real breakthroughs will be in identifying their specific epistemology (the process in which they’re acquired) and their impacts on livelihood and success once acquired.

    I work with administrators and leaders in many communities across the nation who are making me realize a tipping point. Still, understanding methods for teaching these soft skills requires a society’s serious shift in mindset. Some of us have been at it for three decades prior to Friedman’s great op-ed, doing R&D, publishing, winning awards for papers, books and learning products. The “Google’s hiring principles” are getting us somewhat closer to being embraced by mainstream school administrators to include these practices as part of their core curriculum as well as in state/national standards. No doubt ed-tech investing AND testing reform must follow.

Mobile Technology News, March 20, 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.

  • Next annual profit jumps by 12%
    UK High Street fashion retailer Next reports a 12% increase in profits for the last year to £695m.
  • Imagination announces ray-tracing graphics for future mobile devices
    Imagine Technologies, the company that provides graphics subsystems used in Apple’s iPhone and iPad processors as well as other GPUs, has announced a new version of the PowerVR graphics architecture, called “Wizard,” that adds realism and better lighting and transparency effects to graphics by using selected ray-tracing effects alongside traditional rasterization. The technology is already supported in the just-announced Unity 5 gaming engine.


  • Flappy Bird to return, says creator
    Addictive mobile game Flappy Bird will return to Apple’s app store, confirms creator Dong Nguyen, but without setting a specific date.
  • Ovivo UK shuts down without warning
    British firm Ovivo Mobile shuts down without warning, citing “reasons beyond our control” in a posting on its website.
  • VIDEO: Trying Sony's virtual game-changer
    The BBC’s Richard Taylor was one of the first to try out a prototype of Sony’s virtual reality headset “Project Morpheus”.
  • A Hunch Isn't Science: Still No Evidence That Touch Screens Are Good for Babies
    Dimitri Christakis, co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) recommendations to discourage screen time for children under 2, has changed his position. He did so, despite the acknowledged lack of supporting research, based on what he frankly identifies as a “hunch” associated with development of the iPad. In an opinion piece for JAMA Pediatrics, the noted pediatrician says he now believes parents can allow up to an hour of daily “interactive” screen time for children under 2. Christakis conjectures that interactive screen time has benefits similar to playing with blocks, which is known to promote literacy.

    Unfortunately for babies, his hunch has been trumpeted as news by NBC’s Today.com and is morphing into a dictum for parents seeking guidance about whether and when to introduce their infants and toddlers to screens. The stories many parents will see are likely to leave out both nuance and the lack of supporting research. Already, a widely-read story on The Huffington Post reports that “babies can benefit from touch screen devices if used 30 to 60 minutes a day.” A headline for another story reads “Hand over the iPad: Seattle doctor says babies should use tablets.” So far, no article has included comment from the AAP or from other authors of its evidenced-based recommendations.

    The JAMA Pediatrics piece, “Interactive Media Use at Younger Than the Age of 2 Years: Time to Rethink the American Academy of Pediatrics Guideline?,” is confusing. The article’s most succinct and visible takeaway is a misleading table comparing features of three categories of objects: “traditional toys,” “touch screens,” and “television.” The table purports to show that touch screens have more of these positive qualities than traditional toys and television. Later, however, Christakis indicates that the table doesn’t compare touch screens with traditional toys in general. Instead it seems to compare them with one unidentified toy. It’s puzzling that the example Christakis gives of a “traditional toy” is a jack-in-the-box, whose sole function has always been to startle unsuspecting babies.

    Christakis identifies touch screens, but not traditional toys, as “interactive,” defined as able to “prompt reactions … based on something a child does.” Many traditional toys do meet that standard. A tower of blocks falls if a child builds it too high. Clay can be molded into myriad shapes. Balls roll, bounce, or veer. Even dolls and stuffed animals that neither move nor talk on their own are remarkably interactive by Christakis’s definition, in that children invest them with meaning, personality, and actions that evolve over time and use.

    Touch screens, but not traditional toys, are also described as “tailorable,” defined as behaving differently based on the child’s age and preferences, and “progressive,” changing complexity as a child ages. Blocks, clay, balls, dolls, stuffed animals, and all sorts of other traditional toys meet these criteria as well. The objects themselves may not change, but they evoke evolving possibilities for use as children grow. One look at the increasing complexity in the ways an 18-month-old, a 3-year-old, and a 7-year-old play with these objects shows that they meet Christakis’s criteria for tailorable and progressive.

    It’s troubling that many features Christakis identifies in his comparison are complex and deserve more exploration and explanation. He describes the electronic interactivity of touch screens as a potential boon for young children’s learning, but ebooks that talk and make sounds at the touch of a finger have been shown to discourage the kind of adult/child conversations proven to promote literacy. There’s no research on the impact of touch screens’ instantaneous response on a baby’s developing capacity for stamina, patience, and problem solving, but common sense suggests it should be considered.

    Christakis bases his hunch on the benefits of touch screens to babies on his belief that they promote a sense of agency, or what he describes as a feeling of “I did it!” He doesn’t mention that many popular apps for babies, like Play-Doh Creativity ABC’s or Fisher-Price’s Laugh and Learn, deprive children of agency, because their activities only allow one correct, predetermined response. In fact, a recent study shows that the “interactivity” of many bestselling apps for young children is limited to the physical acts of swiping or tapping. Most discourage the creativity, initiation, and wide range of possible responses offered by many traditional toys.

    From a public-health perspective, what’s most worrisome is Christakis’ suggestion that as much as an hour each day of app time for under-2s is a “judicious use of interactive screen media.” Since he makes no distinctions between newborns and toddlers, the article implies that it’s fine for parents to start infants on tablets and smartphones from birth. It’s ironic that he legitimizes daily screen use for infants at the same time that he raises concerns about the “potentially addictive” nature of touch screens.

    Christakis describes the “emergence of problematic Internet use in older children and adolescents” and speculates that “we may now begin to see compulsive use of iPads among our younger children.” Given the plasticity of babies’ brains and the formation and reinforcement of behavior patterns by repeated experiences, why would a noted pediatrician and researcher encourage parents to begin their children’s lives with an hour of daily touch-screen exposure?

    The combined credibility of JAMA Pediatrics, Christakis’s reputation as a researcher, and his place on the AAP Council on Media and Communication are going to make it harder than ever for parents to make informed decisions about how, when, and whether to introduce their infants to touch-screen technologies. Relevant research will be available in coming years. Given Christakis’s own concern that screen time may be addictive and may replace activities proven to be beneficial, babies could be harmed if his hunch leads more parents to encourage an hour a day of touch-screen time for their youngest, most vulnerable children. Meanwhile, no baby will be harmed if parents continue to follow the AAP’s current, evidenced-based recommendation and keep their infants and toddlers screen-free.

  • Rand Paul Compares Republican Party To Domino's Pizza: 'We Need A Different Kind Of Party'

    BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s criticisms of President Barack Obama and other government leaders over recent surveillance disclosures were warmly received on Wednesday at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Paul, who is considering a presidential bid and is seen as one of several GOP front-runners ahead of 2016, held forth for 30 minutes on what he perceives to be abuses of government spy programs and a lack of oversight of the National Security Agency.

    “I find it ironic that the first African-American president has without compunction allowed this vast exercise of raw power by the NSA,” said Paul, noting that other black heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr. were targets of illegal government spying.

    Paul called for the creation of a bipartisan congressional committee to address allegations raised by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that CIA agents secretly searched Senate computers.

    He said he hoped that such a commission would be similar to the Church Committee of the 1970s, referring to the special Senate panel that exposed CIA abuses and pushed through laws limiting the intelligence community’s powers.

    Dressed in blue jeans, white Ralph Lauren shirt with logo, red tie and cowboy boots, Paul spent much of his time trying to connect with his college-age audience, warning several times that their phones and computers were easily accessed by government snoops.

    “I believe what you do on a cellphone is none of their damn business,” he said to applause.

    He compared the Republican Party to a Domino Pizza’s ad campaign in which the company admits to having made bad dough in the past but promising change in the future.

    “We need a different kind of party,” he said.

    Paul was asked his thoughts on Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor who leaked thousands of pages of sensitive documents exposing embarrassing intelligence practices. Snowden is living in Moscow, afraid of criminal prosecution if he returns to the United States.

    Paul said that he had “mixed emotions” about Snowden. On the one hand, Paul said Snowden broke the law, but that he shouldn’t “be shot or stung up.” On the other hand, Paul said Snowden helped expose “an intelligence community that’s drunk with power, unrepentant and unwilling to relinquish power.”

    He said that “they’re only sorry that they got caught. Without the Snowden leaks, these spies would still be doing whatever they please.”

    The event, which drew about 400 people, was organized by the campus Republican club, who filled the hall to capacity. Still, no protesters at this famously demonstrative campus were visible and he drew a large crowd of well-wishers on his way off campus.

  • TED's New Voice: Powerful, International, Engaged
    Every year, a thousand or so people from around the world gather to cross-pollinate. Brain scientists talk with filmmakers. Architects hang out with anthropologists. Internet entrepreneurs have a coffee with artists and musicians. Strangers meet, old friends connect, and global conversations start with real world human conversations. The event is called TED, and this is year is it’s 30th year anniversary. A lot has changed in 30 years. Thirty years ago Nicholas Negroponte opened up TED. Today, Negroponte was back to open TED.

    In his first TED Talk, Negroponte said we’d move from the computer mouse to using our fingers to control interfaces.

    In 1995 Negroponte was called crazy for predicting “that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet.”

    Today Negroponte says that the buzz around “the Internet of Things is tragically pathetic.” He says that the idea wasn’t just to put an oven control panel on your phone — but to make the oven intelligent. “You want to put the chicken in the oven and it realizes you’re cooking it for Nicholas and he likes it this way.”

    Today, Negroponte asks the question: “Will Internet access be a human right?”

    Negroponte makes a far-fetched prediction, in the future: “We are going to ingest information — we’re going to swallow a pill and know English and swallow a pill and know Shakespeare,” says Negroponte. “It will go through the bloodstream and it will know when it’s in the brain and, in the right places, it deposits the information.”

    Later that day when TED Curator Chris Anderson surprised the room and invited Edward Snowden on stage, the room sat up and took notice. Snowden arrived via remote robot — and Anderson interacted with the remote Snowden as if he was in the room. So much so that Snowden-bot after his TED Talk exited the stage and “walked the loop” running into Google’s Sergey Brin for this impromptu photo-op. TEDsters didn’t immediately all embrace Snowden, but much like his appearance at the SXSW conference in Austin the week before, you could feel his efforts to engage the tech community begin to thaw critics.

    “Trusting any government authority with the entirety of human communications without any oversight is too great a temptation to be ignored” said Snowden. Anderson invited World Wide Web founder Tim Berners Lee on stage to join the conversation with Showden, and Berners Lee was quick to proclaim him a hero.

    In the first two days, the stage was chock full of leaders, visionaries, and dreamers. From Larry Page to Bill and Melinda Gates, to musician Amanda Palmer. But unlike the TED of old – the new TED isn’t a closed door secret society. In fact, it’s increasingly open. The main stage presentations were streamed free for local Vancouver schools, and to TEDx groups around the world. And TED talks from the 5 day event will be put online — for free — over the course of the year. Already the Edward Snowden talk is live — and more talks will go live in the coming days.

    With more the 2 billion views logged on the web — and growing — it’s clear that TED is proving that knowledge, ideas, and innovation are driving a new kind of video. A new network of ideas — that’s certainly an idea worth spreading.

  • Larry Page on Google's smart future
    Larry Page has been talking about privacy, government surveillance and Google’s robotic future at the Ted conference.
  • Lil Bub And Instagram Help Find Loving Homes For Pets At SXSW
    We all know social media basically exists for the sole reason of sharing adorable animal pics. But one recent initiative demonstrated how posing with a pooch can garner more than just likes.

    Lil Bub, South by Southwest and Instagram recently teamed up to find loving homes for cuddly creatures. Through a meet-and-greet and photo opp at the annual music festival in Austin, Texas, the famous Internet cat helped raise $7,000 in three hours for animal rescue centers, Mashable reported.

    “The people who attend SXSW are influential, and are using their networks to promote adoption and to help share photos of these adorable guys. I think it’s really powerful,” Olivia Melikhov, ASPCA’s senior manager of social media, told Mashable.

    There has been no shortage of amazing moments at this year’s SXSW, including a private concert for a fan injured in the SXSW car crash, or that time Lady GaGa had someone puke on her, but we think a charity initiative involving the Internet’s favorite cat definitely tops the list.

    Lil Bub, the goofy and lovable dwarf cat with a jaw deformity that causes her tongue to permanently hang out of her mouth, uses her internet fame for good. Her website calls her “an advocate for homeless and special needs pets all over the universe.” and to date she has raised more than $60,000 for various charities.

    It’s no wonder that SXSW hosted so many animal friendly events, with Austin’s current standing as the largest no-kill city in the nation. A report from the City of Austin revealed that the city shelters have a 91 percent live animal outcome, with 4,3000 dogs and cats rescued in the three month period the study covered. That’s a number made all the more impressive by the fact that 6 to 8 million cats and dogs are entering shelters each year, according to The Humane Society of the United States.

    It’s more important than ever to help loving, adoptable animals find permanent homes. Good thing, in Austin at least, there is no shortage of friendly faces willing to help out. As Instagram partnerships employee Charles Porch told Mashable, “Our community is so powerful on Instagram and they love a reason to get together and if we can pair that with dogs that need to be adopted, then these dogs are going to have the most beautiful photography of any dog up for adoption today.”

  • Ex Microsoft staffer arrested for allegedly stealing Win 8 trade secrets
    A former Microsoft employee has been charged with passing on Microsoft trade secrets involving Windows 8.
  • Electronics and Anxiety: A Family Affair
    Much has been reported about the pervasive use of electronics by teenagers and the need for parents to have a screening policy against the overuse of screens. Well, it turns out that parents are often part of the problem, not the solution, as many moms and dads have become overly attached to their smartphones, iPads, laptops and social media. In fact, today’s preoccupation with screens extends throughout the family, with Generation X and Y parents, boomer grandparents and even babies involved: Fisher Price is marketing a baby bouncy seat with an iPad holder, and now there is a potty seat that comes with an iPad holder.

    What is the effect of this “all in the family” technology? These new techie toys are coming to market quickly, and our society has an insatiable appetite for them. Caught in the vortex, research hasn’t had a chance to catch up, and we won’t have definitive data about the effects of this lifestyle revolution for years to come.

    We do, however, now know some things that are troubling. Let’s start with babies. Developmentally, babies, from the time they are born, seek contact with human faces. They learn language through human interaction. The value of connecting with others comes from the early, loving connection to significant others. Social, non-verbal language development depends on the experience of relating with others. Further, research suggests that TV watching before the age of 2 leads to a higher incidence of attention problems and obesity. As far as the impact of babies playing with iPads, my instinct says it can’t be good.


    As a child psychologist, my biggest concern about the explosion of screen use among all of us, including babies, is that it interferes with sustained face-to-face, intimate contact with family members. Again, how this will affect social and emotional development is an unknown, but it’s clear that screens divert our focus from humans into gadgets in a way that is highly individualized and not social. And it’s not only the impact of screens on our children and babies that is problematic; it is also the impact of parents who may be physically with their kids, but actually not connected to them because today’s moms and dads are often distracted by screens as well.

    While we typically feel compelled to respond to the constant barrage of emails, texts, calls, etc., we are not connecting in a meaningful way. And ironically, if we try to extricate ourselves from our gadgets, we often feel anxious that we are missing something important.

    When I became an intern years ago, I was given a beeper to be used when I was “on call,” and I remember how anxiety-producing it was when it would go off. When wearing it, I was always aware that I was working on some level, and I wasn’t free to relax when playing with my kids, making dinner or even resting. In the last few years, like many doctors, I have given back my beeper and use my cell phone instead, since they both serve the same function. However, now, everyone has a cell phone, and we are often expected to be on call, on-demand, 24/7.

    How many of us, especially parents, would not feel anxious if we left home without our phone? How many would feel compelled to go back home to get it? The first thought is, What if something bad happens and I don’t have my phone? What if my child gets sick at school, and they can’t immediately reach me?

    Anxious Stories

    A mother of a preschooler was at a doctor’s appointment and her phone was turned off. As she was leaving, she quickly looked at her phone and said, “My stomach dropped — my son’s teacher texted me 20 minutes ago that he was complaining of a belly ache, and I didn’t instantly respond!” In fact, not responding instantly to teachers or to your children now feels like Bad Parenting 101. And, what if work sends an email that you don’t immediately respond to? This doesn’t make a good impression on your boss or a client. And how many of us can say we never received a work-related call, text or email in the evening, weekends and/or on vacation that demanded our immediate attention? Even when looking for a vacation spot, consider how important it is to have Internet access.

    As a child psychologist, I hear vexing tales about technology and anxiety every day. I recently saw a mom who was telling me how her 12-year-old daughter had been rude to her that morning, so she took her phone away. But then she told me she had to give it back to her. When I asked why, she said, “Well, we had a long drive to get to this appointment, and then she would have to sit in the waiting room, and I couldn’t expect her to do all that without her phone!” Then she paused, and we both burst out laughing, realizing how silly that sounded! It made it so clear how much our family life and expectations have changed in this techie age.

    In another example, a parent of a 7-year-old boy was talking to me about the incredible peer pressure his son feels to have the latest electronics. He said, “As parents, I think we are going to look back at all this and say, ‘What were we thinking?'”

    Again, it’s a family affair. While parents are complaining about their kids’ use of screens, kids are now complaining about their parents being on screens. “My mom is always on her phone.” “My dad is always on his computer.” In short, potentially valuable family time is routinely being interrupted by the buzzing of screens. In fact, texting while driving has been determined to be as dangerous as drunk driving. Have we reached the point where parenting on devices should be compared to drunk parenting because of the level of distraction?

    In some of my family therapy sessions, we have had to establish rules limiting screens, not just for the kids, but for the parents as well. One father I work with agreed to turn off his phone on evenings and weekends until after his young children were in bed. However, he admitted he had to hide it away because it would be too tempting to use it. Like so many other parents, he felt anxious. Unfortunately, too many of us feel incredible pressure to be constantly available to others — but this often the wrong kind of attention, and it comes at the expense of offering genuine, sustained attention to our loved ones.

    Today’s family is typically a matrix of everyone, at every age, at home together. But we’re not talking, we’re not really connecting. We’re fixated on our screens. And if this is the new normal, why shouldn’t we add to the picture a baby in a bouncy seat with an iPad? No one in this family is looking at her anyway.

    The Techie Takeaway

    So, how can parents deal with this dilemma?

    First of all, it’s vital that families carve out private time to talk with each other without distractions. For instance, at certain times of the day, all screens should be shut off. Examples include meal times and short car trips, times when conversation should be encouraged.

    Family interaction such as playing games, going on outings, etc. should also be encouraged and made part of your routine, as long as electronics is off limits!

    Overall, we need to reevaluate our time on screens vs. quality time with our kids.

    Indeed, this problem is all in the family, and it is all-important to address.

  • Need to Know: Answers to the Questions That Every First-Time App Developer Asks
    Apps are increasingly becoming a vital part of how businesses deliver services and goods to consumers, in fact Gartner predicts that by 2017 apps will generate more than $77 billion in revenue and be downloaded more than 268 billion times. For anyone that wants to capitalize on this massive growth market, where do you begin? What resources do you need? Is there a DIY solution, or must you spend exorbitant amounts of your resources on creating a professional app?

    Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner or you just have an idea for an app, your first course of action should be to determine whether or not there is market demand for your app — and you can do this through your own primary research with little to no cost incurred, save for the effort you devote to educating yourself. Speak with your customers and trusted associates, visit online marketplaces and determine if there is an existing app that is similar to what you have in mind: How many downloads does it have? How are people using the app? What are they saying about it in the comments? Are there pitfalls or gaps that can be exploited? You can take all of these cues and more in determining whether or not you or your business should pursue the development of your app.

    Once you have reached your conclusion and you’re ready to take the next steps, where do you go from there? To help guide the first-time app developer, I’ve created a few helpful tips below that come as a result of my own experience in what was once an uncharted territory.

    iOS or Android?
    This is most likely going to be one of the first questions you ask after you’ve made the decision to build an app, and it’s an important one. If you ask around some people will give you an answer based on their own personal bias, (do they own an iPhone or a Droid device?) but what’s important to think about is who YOUR audience is. When you check your web analytics are you seeing more visitors from Android or iOS devices? Talk to your customers! What are some of their favorite apps and why? Once you do a bit of your own market research you’ll feel more comfortable with making this important decision.

    To Be Free, or Not To Be Free?
    Although this will depend on your marketing budget, when in doubt, go free. There are plenty of avenues for monetizing your app, like in-app purchases, iAds/AdMob, etc. but the most important element when launching your app will be engagement, and if you’re working with a limited marketing budget it will be easier to engage users with a free app.

    Do NOT Try To Get Sneaky with Apple or Android Rules
    The wisdom of crowds — when you’re browsing two similar apps and you see that one has 1,000 downloads and the other has 20, you’re naturally inclined to choose the app with more downloads. While there are ways to create the appearance that your app is more popular than it really is, I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT attempt to break Apple or Android’s rules and pay for downloads to inflate your numbers. This could lead to any number of damaging outcomes, the least of which is getting your app yanked from the marketplace and doing long-term damage to you and/or your brand’s reputation.

    What’s It Cost?
    The development of a professional Android or iOS app can run anywhere from $1,000 – $200,000+. Now, if you have the budget allocated for using your resources to create a $50,000 app, that’s wonderful! However, I, along with most entrepreneurs I know do not have that kind of budget, and the options which enable anyone to create a professional, personalized app for FREE are an industry game-changer and worth looking into.

    I Built It, I Published It, Am I Done?
    No! The mantra, “if you build it, they will come” does not apply here. In order to maintain a consistent user base you will need to monitor how your app is being used and what your customers are saying about it. Tweaking your app based on these signals will be important to the growth of your user base and brand.

  • How Netflix Revolutionized Human Resources
    Netflix is a great way to kill a few hours with a binge-watching marathon, but it turns out the company is also a wonderful example for how to treat employees.

    Patty McCord, Netflix’s former chief talent officer, spoke with HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani about some of the company’s most innovative human resources moves.

    Perhaps the most surprising was getting rid of paid time off. McCord said the idea seemed crazy to some, but it made perfect sense to her.

    “We realized that for our salaried, professional employees, we weren’t keeping track of the time they came to work, the time they left for home. We were keeping track of the work they did,” she said. “It seemed kind of ridiculous to have all these policies about what whole days you could take off when … people work at home, they work on their phones, they’re involved in their activities that are about what they accomplish all the time.”

    Learn more about Netflix’s innovative HR policies in the full HuffPost Live conversation below.

  • How Stepping Away From Your Computer Can Actually Make You More Productive

    Everyone makes mistakes when it comes to technology. Some are terrible at doing regular data back-ups because it’s not a high priority (you know who you are). Many have hundreds (thousands?) of emails sitting in an inbox right now. And, as I’ve mentioned before, there are those who skip using any form of virus protection — which means, you’re living on a razor’s edge.

    Yet, there’s one mistake you’re probably making right now that is much more serious. It’s one that could be causing serious health problems like depression and anxiety. And, someday — in the not too distant future — it could play a role in workplace lawsuits, new employment laws and technical restrictions.

    The problem: You’re not taking enough breaks from the computer.

    Experts say this constant screen time is causing some major health issues. There’s a condition called Screen Apnea where, as you stare at your screen, you literally stop breathing. As you anticipate the next email or news item, you hold your breath, cutting off oxygen to your brain. Related to this is a condition called Present Shock, which means you are constantly “in the moment” scanning for tweets, Facebook posts, and other tidbits. Having this constant flow of information can make you agitated, cause undo stress and even lead to depression.

    More From Inc:
    One Word You Should Eliminate From Your Vocabulary
    How to Be Way More Productive
    11 Powerful Quotes to Inspire Your Team to Embrace Change

    Of course, long typing sessions and too much surfing are also not good for your health in general — it means you’re not getting up and moving around, your back is probably stiff, and you’re not communicating with your coworkers.

    Fortunately, there’s a solution to this locked-in screen obsessiveness. First and foremost, become more aware of the problem in yourself. Take conscious breaks from the screen and go for a quick stroll. Look out the window or read a paper document. Constant clicking from one thing to the next can be stressful, so it’s important to break that cycle.

    Next, try to find some accountability. If your problem is that you stay glued to a daily news feed too much, find someone who can text you once in a while to meet up for a coffee break. Make a plan with a coworker to bug each other periodically as a way to break up your computer time.

    Finally, there are quite a few apps that can help. There’s one called Take A Break for the Chrome browser that flashes a little icon every 15 minutes as a reminder to stop surfing. A few tools help you measure your anxiety right from your desk. And, many smartphones come with a timer you can use to encourage a break or to set a reminder that alerts you about working for too many hours in a row.

    More than anything, heed this warning: too much focus on the computer screen is becoming a serious problem, one that is not getting any better.

    Does this tech problem hit close to home? How do you make sure you get screen breaks?

  • Fake Tor client in App Store said to be laced with adware, spyware
    A Tor client on the App Store, Tor Browser, is actually a fake app saturated with adware and spyware, according to complaints. The app is said to have been reported to Apple in December; at one point the company suggested that the app’s creator, Ronen, would be allowed to respond, but no news has emerged since, and the app remains on sale for 99 cents.


  • Fake Tor client in App Store said to be laced with adware, spyware
    A Tor client on the App Store, Tor Browser, is actually a fake app saturated with adware and spyware, according to complaints. The app is said to have been reported to Apple in December; at one point the company suggested that the app’s creator, Ronen, would be allowed to respond, but no news has emerged since, and the app remains on sale for $1.


  • Boston Missed Connection Heroically Shames Misogynist Jerk
    The Missed Connections corner of Craigslist is generally reserved for late-night lust seekers, hungover lotharios who left the bar without a number and the occasional earnest attempt to leverage a shared gaze to a first date. Now, we can add platform for feminist solidarity to the list.

    When a male passenger took it upon himself to offer some unsolicited weight loss advice to a female rider, he probably had no idea his suggestion that a woman “RESPECT” herself would result in an Internet shaming with Aretha Franklin-level reverberations. A woman who witnessed this gross exchange took to Craigslist to avenge her fellow passenger — speaking for any woman who has received an unsolicited comment on her appearance, but also for — you know — anyone generally in favor of human decency:

    missed connections

    You got up right before the Stony Brook stop and said something in a low voice to the woman next to you. You exited the train and she burst into tears. I asked her what you said — and in between sobs she goes: “He said ‘Have some respect for yourself and lose some weight.'”

    This guy deserved a scarlet letter (the choice A-word is not adultery here…), and a fellow commuter was happy to give it to him. The spot-on missed connection tears the man — and his terrible behavior — right down:

    Oh shit, you said that to a complete f**king stranger, an innocent person trying to read a book on her ride home!!! Yeah dog, you sure did, and then you turned heel and walked off like the miserable coward you are.

    You publicly humiliated another human and made her cry. How truly f**king horrifying of you. She was totally stunned, and devastated. . .is that what you wanted to see happen? Are you that much of a nightmare that you are PLEASED by making people cry? Total strangers even?

    The author hypothesizes the perp’s personal state affairs with a precision any woman who’s confronted a misogynist jerk will recognize:

    You: blond, slicked hair, hipsterish. You manage to be both tasteless and sanctimonious, and something tells me you brag about loving Bukowski even though you only made it 80 pages deep into Women. You definitely think you’re smarter than everyone, and you love reflective surfaces. You work in design/tech/oh wait, who cares, you don’t f**king matter. You treat women like garbage, but don’t worry — we hate you. You have a stank on you, and a lot of us can smell it…truly a dookiestain made flesh. You don’t have an original thought under that stupid haircut. You are a straight up f**king bully, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Bullies are the absolute worst.

    The thing is, part of you knows this, and you’re upset that no one treats you like the special snowflake you believe yourself to be. So you say horrible things to strangers in public to make yourself feel better. Stop being such a f**king bully and shitting on other humans just because your wounded-ego feels like taking a dump. No really, just f**king stop.

    And in case this gentleman hasn’t already been made aware of his virtual public slaying, the author recruits women of Boston to enlighten him:

    Any of my fellow feminist vigilantes who might be reading this: keep an eye out for a white dude, around age 30, who looks like a wacker version of Macklemore, if that’s possible. Make sure you remind him of his insignificance.

    Her words for the aggrieved? “Keep your head up girl, it’s not even about you. I hope it didn’t ruin your day.” The thought that we might all have our own fairy god-feminist lurking just around the corner is a lovely feeling.

    [h/t Jezebel]

  • Customer Loyalty With a SXSW Interactive Twist
    Those who go to Austin, Texas for South by Southwest Interactive, otherwise known as SXSW Interactive, know they’re going to enjoy an incredible conference filled with great panels, fantastic networking parties, and once in a lifetime exposure to amazing people and brands in the tech space. This year was no different and, despite the rain and mass amounts of attendees, were a lot of examples of companies going above and beyond.

    Let’s look at a few of those success stories where glowing customer service and superior experiences lit up the gloomy, Austin sky.

    1. Zirtual — Clients of Zirtual got the royal treatment as the company went above and beyond to be there for their loyal customers. A pre-conference email went out inviting clients who attended SXSW to a special party at the W Hotel and, here’s the great part, offering a variety of concierge services while visiting the city. Check out this excerpt from their client communication:

    • Forgot your phone charger at the hotel? We got you.
    • Need lunch picked up and dropped off to your booth? We got you.
    • Your friend has your badge and he’s across town? We got you.
    • Want a bottle of wine delivered to a client you just met with? We’ve got you here, too.

    Zirtual also had bike messengers available to clients and at the ready for pick-ups and deliveries. All this great service was completely free of charge as a special thank you to the company’s loyal client base. “While we know that our ZA’s are hard at work (behind the scenes) providing our clients with the virtual assistance they need during Southby, we really wanted to be able to offer them the luxury of a truly comprehensive personal assistant experience,” said Maren Kate, Founder & CEO at Zirtual. “Taking care of these small, but time consuming tasks, allows them to focus on what’s really important and feel confident in letting us handle the rest.”

    2. Airbnb — Those groups renting accommodations through Airbnb got an email before heading out to Austin to help ensure a smooth trip. Group leaders were reminded of the specific, logistical information they should pass onto their entourage. Plus, the company set up a dedicated phone number for their clients in Austin. However, the customer service didn’t stop there.

    Airbnb was scouring social media for mentions of SXSW or Airbnb and randomly giving people rewards. What is a reward? Well, it seemed to vary. For example, a group sharing an Airbnb rental was given a Whole Foods gift card, a tweet earned one man a pair of cowboy boots, whereas another person was given a $500 Airbnb credit. Equally important, Airbnb listened for complaints online and remedied them quickly.

    3. General Assembly — Didn’t have a SXSW Interactive pass? Well, General Assembly wanted to help folks go to Austin in style with three of their besties. The company hosted a sweepstakes that offered round-trip airfare (from anywhere in North America, Europe, Asia, or Australia); accommodations at a private house with a pool; coffee meetings with tech industry experts from hotspots like New York City, San Francisco, and L.A.; a $1,000 Uber credit to use for transportation (which would come in handy due to their surge pricing during SXSW); and VIP passes to a variety of special events. No skimping; all top of the line.

    4. Rackspace — Now, this one is totally in sync with the spirit of SXSW Interactive. Rackspace hijacked StartupBus for a special, creative experience. Eight buses carried 250 entrepreneurs to Rackspace’s headquarters in nearby San Antonio and the company hosted a two-day event. In short, participants boarded the busses as strangers, formed teams, developed ideas, and built products in a 72-hour period while on the road in the StartupBus. Then, for two days, while at Rackspace HQ, they participated in working sessions and a mini conference with tech gurus such as Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble.

    5. Cottonelle — You wouldn’t necessarily think that a toilet paper brand would be on the SXSW Interactive bandwagon, but anything goes in Austin. Cottonelle created a comfy Refresh Lounge, which offered a much-needed respite for weary conference-goers. They offered back massages, hair stylists and make-up artists for those who needed a touch-up (something many people really appreciated since the rain was making hair frizzy and mascara runny), and even free, travel-size samples.

    Brands know that by creating a memorable experience for customers and attendees at SXSW Interactive, they’ll get more exposure than they could at a dozen other conferences combined. Smart companies pulled out all the stops to ensure they created experiences that people would share and remember — and share again.

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