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Mobile Technology News, April 2, 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 Releases Safari 7.0.3 for Mac

    Apple has posted the latest version of Safari, their web browser for Mac.  Safari 7.0.3 fixes several issues and brings new levels of security to the browser.  Most of the features in the update focus on usability such as improving how the address and search bar behaves and improving the credit […]

    The post Apple Releases Safari 7.0.3 for Mac appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Apple Releases Updates to iWork Apps for Mac and iOS

    With the release a week ago of Microsoft’s Office for iPad, it wasn’t a question of if Apple updated iWork apps but only a matter of when.  That when is today with the Cupertino company releasing updates for all three of the iWork apps – Keynote, Numbers and Pages – for both Mac OS X and iOS as […]

    The post Apple Releases Updates to iWork Apps for Mac and iOS appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Schiller takes stand in Apple vs. Samsung patent trial
    Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, took the stand on Tuesday in the second Apple-Samsung patent trial. His testimony following opening arguments, in which Apple asked the jury for more than $2 billion in damages against Samsung (and “reasonable” licensing fees for the copied patents), while Samsung’s attorney characterized the amount as “gross overexaggeration,” suggesting a $40 million figure and asking $6 million for its two disputed patents.

        



  • Tech to add punch to your parties
    How to create a hi-tech celebration
  • How 'easy read' makes sense of jargon
    How weighty texts can be shrunk to bite-size nuggets
  • "What's a Tinder?"
    2014-04-01-Online.Dating.jpg

    Tinder? What’s a Tinder? As my mom pursued Google a completely perplexed expression came across her face, and she read allowed, “tinder (noun), a dry substance that readily takes fire from a spark?” That’s when I considered how I could explain to someone from a “pre-Internet generation” the mobile application that seems to be ruling the hookup culture and sex lives of young people today.

    Studying abroad in Spain, I’ve been a bit out of the loop from reality. So I was shocked when one of my beautiful, intelligent, and reasonably independent friends told me with genuine enthusiasm that she finally went on her first Tinder date.

    Though her review was less than favorable. “We texted for a while after, but he was only interested in a cheap hook up and nothing more.” As a third party observer I wanted to tell her how ridiculous this sounded to me. To expect anything more. An application using only your Facebook photos to rate, text, and date whatever gender preference you enter? In five pictures you press the heart symbol or give them the X. It’s completely based on the physical, with little profundity. If he was interested in something more “significant,” more “substantial,” wouldn’t he look for it in the real world?

    Later that same day another friend, male, recently graduated from college, mentioned he was going to meet up with a girl from Tinder as well. He raved about how informed she kept and how interesting her mind was. Fascinating descriptions about a girl he clicked “hot” on when her image came up on Tinder. It was as if he thought it necessary to provide disclaimers for using the dating application (for its intended purpose). I then got a Snapchat of another girl laying on a couch with the caption “Tindering, hungover on a Sunday…” Suddenly my most unsuspecting friends are legitimately using this app that seemed to have started out as a practical joke.

    As the most used application during this year’s winter Olympics; it’s taking, not just the U.S., but the entire world by storm. UrbanDictionary.com is defining it as “the McDonalds for sex.”

    Even my Spanish classmates at the University of Sevilla always walk in on Mondays with entertaining stories of who they met and what they did that weekend, many of them “gracias a Tinder.” When I asked a student why she uses Tinder she replied, “I mean, it’s a sexy and exciting way to kill time I guess.”

    After considering this, I realized how rewarding the concept could be. We are all programed to desire praise, to crave attention and affection. Tinder has created this compact world that offers all of these things to its clients. Quiet teens and successful intellectuals alike, Tinder allows you to interact and experiment with virtually no consequences. Users engage in interesting conversations, keep their minds active, and are able to maintain an anonymity until the lights go off. It’s allowing people to more freely express themselves. Tinder is making sexting a common trend, and helping to make promiscuity more socially acceptable than ever.

    Although, at the same time it detracts from a certain element of affection, connection, and in consequence, respect for the other person as a human being with their own three-dimensional story, fears, and fantasies. Here lies the danger of relying on a mediator (Internet especially) in our relationships, sexual and otherwise.

    Another friend and user of Tinder remarked that he hadn’t actually chatted with anyone yet. “I just like going through the pictures that people post. Catching that chubby girl for trying to make herself look skinnier. It’s really funny.” Ouch. It calls to attention though, that online people can carefully plan their every word, picture, post. We construct an identity for ourselves that is a fallacy of our true self.

    On a coffee date you can’t stop and ask for advice on how to reply, or post a photo of “your good side,” with a flattering filter. We’re creating impossible expectations that make the ideal seem better than the real. These unrealistic expectations, this charade that we are all constantly living posh and luxurious lives (as shown in the Tinder website commercial) simply isn’t true. Everyone has a bad hair day. The standard discourse that apps like Tinder (only one of the many) are perpetuating is not one we should be raising for ourselves nor our sexual partners.

    If not before, it’s now clear that today’s youth is conditioned to continuously seek new and diverting media as forms of entertainment. A two-hour documentary can be condensed into a 5 minutes spoiler, and now the dating process can be shrunk to the glowing rectangles of our cell phones and intermittent chats throughout the day.

    In what direction are we going? Are people soon going to be bored with Tinder all together and start seeking out relations in new spaces? Perhaps the most ingenuous people will find sex or even love in a mere hard drive or an operating system like Joaquin Phoenix’s character as the soft spoken writer in the recent movie Her. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not too far off base. #makesyouwonder

  • Twitter Founder On Why He Turned Down Facebook's $500 Million Offer
    Biz Stone knew he wasn’t interested in selling Twitter when he and his business partner Evan Williams were driving to Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters.

    “I came up with the idea that, why don’t we, if it comes to it, say a number that’s so outrageous that no one could ever possibly accept,” Stone recalled in an interview with HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressy Tehrani.

    “I thought of the biggest number I could think of — $500 million — and we laughed until we couldn’t breathe about how ridiculous it sounded.”

    What Stone and Williams couldn’t have expected was Mark Zuckerberg’s willingness to pony up.

    “Mark said, ‘that’s a big number,'” Stone recounted. But sure enough, “…the offer came through. [Facebook] was like, ‘okay, we’ll do it.'”

    Ultimately, no figure — not even $500 million dollars — could motivate Stone and Williams to sell the platform they’d nurtured since its conception.

    Williams went on to write “a really respectful note” declining the offer and explaining that the two wanted to build the company and see it through themselves.

    To find out more about Biz Stone’s experiences with Facebook, pick up his recently released book “Things A Little Bird Told Me.

    Watch Biz Stone’s full interview with HuffPost Live below:

  • James Clapper Confirms Warrantless Search Of Americans
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has conducted warrantless searches of Americans’ communications as part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance operations that target foreigners located outside of the U.S., the administration’s top intelligence official confirmed in a letter to Congress disclosed Tuesday.

    These searches were authorized by a secret surveillance court in 2011, but it was unclear until Tuesday whether any such searches on Americans had been conducted. The recent acknowledgement of warrantless searches on Americans offers more insight into U.S. government surveillance operations put in place after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The government has broadly interpreted these laws to allow for the collection of communications of innocent Americans, practices the Obama administration maintains are legal. But President Barack Obama has promised to review some of these programs to determine whether the government should be conducting this type of surveillance at all.

    “Senior officials have sometimes suggested that government agencies do not deliberately read Americans’ emails, monitor their online activity or listen to their phone calls without a warrant,” Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado said in a joint statement. “However, the facts show that those suggestions were misleading, and that intelligence agencies have indeed conducted warrantless searches for Americans’ communications.”

    Wyden has pressed the administration on whether these searches on Americans have occurred. In a March 28 letter to Wyden, James Clapper, the government’s top intelligence official, said the NSA has searched for Americans’ communications within information it collected when it targeted foreigners located outside the U.S. In his letter, Clapper also pointed to a declassified document released last August that also acknowledged the use of such searches and stated that these searches were reviewed, and there was no finding of wrongdoing. It was unclear how often these searches are conducted.

    Documents disclosed last year by former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden showed that the government collects mass amounts of data from major Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook through one of its programs designed to target communications of foreigners located outside the U.S. The government is not allowed to use this authority to collect Americans’ communications, but conversations of innocent Americans are collected inadvertently. When this happens, the NSA is required to take certain measures to hide the communications of Americans that have nothing to do with foreign intelligence.

    In 2011, the government sought and received approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to search for Americans within the communications it already possessed through its collection of conversations of foreigners outside the U.S. Such searches would only be permissible if there were a foreign intelligence purpose.

    Former NSA deputy director Chris Inglis said this authority might be used to search for the target of a terrorist attack. As an example, Inglis said if the government was concerned that terrorists were plotting to attack the New York Stock Exchange, the NSA could search for the term “New York Stock Exchange” among the conversations it collected in its targeting of foreigners overseas.

    Wyden, Udall and other civil liberties advocates call this type of search a back-door loophole in the law that governs surveillance of Americans.

    “If a government agency thinks that a particular American is engaged in terrorism or espionage, the Fourth Amendment requires that the government secure a warrant or emergency authorization before monitoring his or her communications,” Wyden and Udall said.

    The Obama administration contends the searches are legal because they are searching information they lawfully obtained.

  • Chelsea Manning's New Lawyer Decries 35-Year Sentence
    Army Private Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence for leaking reams of classified information is out of proportion with the offenses for which she was convicted, the lawyer who will represent her in court-martial appeals said Tuesday.

    Manning began serving her confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in August for sending hundreds of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents, plus some battlefield video, to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Manning retained Albuquerque, N.M., attorney Nancy Hollander and her law partner Vincent Ward last month for the next phase of her military court proceedings. Hollander pointed out in a telephone interview that Manning’s sentence far exceeds the prison terms of 2 1/2 years or less that U.S. courts have given to others who disclosed government secrets to media.

    “It’s a very long sentence compared to other sentences for similar kinds of situations that I’m aware of, or even dissimilar situations like rape and murder,” Hollander said.

    Military prosecutors at Manning’s trial called the former intelligence analyst an anarchist hacker and traitor who indiscriminately leaked information she had sworn to protect, knowing it would be seen by al-Qaida. It was among the largest leaks of classified information in U.S. history.

    Manning supporters consider her a whistleblower who exposed U.S. war crimes and diplomatic hypocrisy while working in Iraq.

    Manning, then known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in July of 20 crimes, including six violations of the Espionage Act, but was acquitted of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. After sentencing, Manning declared a desire to live as a woman named Chelsea, having been diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

    With good behavior, the 26-year-old from Oklahoma could be released as early as February 2020, according to her trial attorney, David Coombs.

    Hollander said it would be premature to discuss legal strategy, since she hasn’t yet received a transcript of Manning’s trial from which to begin crafting an appeal.

    Nevertheless, “I know the issues that I believe are some of the main issues that will come up,” Hollander said. Beside the sentence length, she said the case raises issues “big issues” about freedom of information and why the government keeps certain things secret.

    “It’s the kind of work we do, and it’s a righteous case,” Hollander said.

    Hollander’s background includes national security and civil-rights issues. She currently represents two Guantanamo Bay detainees in U.S. Military Commissions proceedings, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of orchestrating the 2000 al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

    Hollander has no military court experience but her partner Ward is a former Navy prosecutor.

    Manning can’t file an appeal until Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commander of the Military District of Washington, D.C., has finalized the trial findings. Coombs has asked Buchanan to reverse the convictions and 35-year sentence.

    Coombs is not representing Manning in appeals but is helping her pursue a legal name change and hormone replacement therapy in prison.

    WikiLeaks’ publication of diplomatic cables, warzone logs and videos embarrassed the U.S. government and its allies. U.S. officials warned of dire consequences in the days immediately after the first disclosures in July 2010, but a Pentagon review later suggested those fears might have been overblown.

  • Western New Mexico University Covers Its Website In Babies
    Western New Mexico University covered its website in babies Tuesday.

    As in little human babies. It’s kind of adorable. Or creepy. We haven’t decided yet.

    wnmu baby landing

    The home page features ads for babies to learn ABC’s in online classes and skipping pre-school to start work on a college degree in the summer.

    baby abcs

    Lower on the WNMU website are several stories featuring babies and this amazing baby GIF:

    The university also explains that it plans to do some research using the babies, like this one on Freshmen 15:

    The “Hungry 8” as they have been nicknamed by many, were selected at random during the first trimester of their mothers’ pregnancies. For the entire first semester, the Hungry 8 were on a strict diet of three meals a day from the Mustang Dining Hall.

    Or the news release WNMU links to regarding a study about babies taking selfies:

    A new study shows that Generation Z has something in common with that of its parents – its addiction to selfies.

    Recently added to the Oxford Dictionary as an official word, Selfies is defined as “the act of taking a picture of yourself and posting it for everyone to see.” It seems everyone from President Obama to Ellen Degeneres are joining in on the seemingly selfish act of promoting themselves to their social media followers. Now babies are in on the fun.

    Ugh, we really don’t want to have to start reading trend pieces on Generation Z.

    But yes, it is all in the spirit of April Fool’s Day, in case you had any doubt. It’s all clarified in a text that pops up when you click on the tab at the top of the page:

    We love babies. They are awesome. We were once babies and we all wish we still were. But honestly, it’s just April Fools, so why not!?

  • 'Game Of Thrones' Gets An Honest Trailer
    If you had to explain the “Game of Thrones” series to someone in just a few phrases, it would probably sound something like this: “Lots of sex, even more violence, too many characters to count.” Right?

    The series is so complex and grandiose that it’s taken a ridiculous number of trailers for HBO to feel that it’s adequately hyped up fans for the upcoming fourth season. Well, we’ve got one last trailer, and it’s really the only one you’ll ever need.

    Screen Junkies has created an honest trailer for “Game of Thrones” and it’s beautifully blunt. They’ve boiled the series’ plot down to “everyone fights to sit on the world’s most uncomfortable chair, while completely ignoring the invasion of ice zombies that threatens to kill them all,” and really, that’s not far from the truth.

    Here are a few more lessons we learned from the honest trailer: Stay away from Sean Bean; King Justin Bieber’s the worst; No one else can remember everyone’s names, either.

    Now sit back and enjoy.

    tv show gifs

  • When Chrome Attacks — And Quick Fixes for Other Things, Too
    2014-03-29-computerproblem152211_640.png

    My computer is my life. Really.

    I’m not a gamer. Or a hacker. Or fully “networked” Millennial. But I’ve had this jones since ‘way back in the ’70s, when the Chicago Sun Times became one of the first newspapers to go completely digital and made my life as a reporter sooooo much easier.

    That’s a long way back. I mean, I even owned one of those big, boxy TRS80s back in the day — that Radio Shack thing. And, thankfully, I also had an engineer boyfriend who could program it to do far more than it was designed to do. Tough sledding, back then. But I still loved it.

    Today, my “mother ship” desktop is the hub around which my entire life revolves. It’s a tool for me, not a toy. It even saved my life once, when I was struck down by what turned out to be a very grave illness that my doctors in Tucson could not diagnose, let alone treat properly.

    Bedridden and desperate, I used my trusty computer to discover I had the symptoms of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which had a mortality rate that scared me sideways. I immediately Googled the Mayo Clinic, where doctors were eventually able to slow it down and save my life.

    But… I’m not a real “geek.” So when my computer gets “sick,” I panic. I’m as afraid of the Geek Squad as some people are afraid of dentists. Like dentists, they always seem to find more things wrong than I expected, and the fixes always cost ‘way more than I can afford.

    After Chrome crashed my computer a few times last week — and I discovered Google Support doesn’t care that Chrome is increasingly crashing PCs running Windows 7 — I was forced into one of my epic, all night searches for answers.

    I never found one. I’m back with Firefox for the time being. We’re getting along well so far.

    But I did find some good stuff to add to my repertoire of quick fixes for not just Chrome but Firefox and everything else. Here’s a list of little tweaks for people like me — if you’re a computer pro, try not to laugh. If you’re a “seat of the pants” PC user like me, you’re welcome:

    • Sometimes Firefox makes my Comcast home page and other “graphics rich” pages go haywire — no graphics, just wonky, unformatted text all over the page. If that happens to you, clear your history. That’s right. Clear your history and restart Firefox. All the graphics will come back.
    • If the same thing happens with Chrome, and just refreshing the page won’t help, right click the screen and click on “Inspect Element.” This panel full of stuff that looks like Greek to me will rise up from the bottom of the screen, and all the graphics on the page will come back. So close the panel…and rock on. ‘Til next time. Chrome is finicky like that.
    • Chrome will also crash sometimes because it’s in conflict with your other software. Type “chrome://conflicts” Chrome’s address bar and hit “Enter.” A list of magical things that may be crashing Chrome will pop up — the ones that are known to crash Chrome will have a little red message about that below them. It’s up to you, then, to remove them or not.
    • If Chrome is making your computer freeze up, black out or otherwise misbehave, forcing you to do forced shutdowns that can damage your PC, you can create a new profile from Chrome’s Settings screen. Just open “Settings” page from Chrome’s menu and click Add new user under Users. The switch to the new profile and see if Chrome keeps crashing. And if it works for you — it didn’t work long for me — you can get your old bookmarks, etc., back by signing into Chrome with your Google account to sync the data from your old profile.
    • BIG NOTE: This only worked for one day for me. Then, Chrome froze my screen yet again. I managed to open enough of the start menu to get to the shut down button — that’s how weird things got. Then I uninstalled Chrome in Safe Mode and shut down again, just to be sure.

    • Sometimes a rogue search engine or other evil thing will hijack your browser home page or start slowing down your browser to a crawl. If you’ve tried everything else you know, click the Start button and type “about:config” in the little space at the bottom of your Start list. You’ll get a long list of programs. Right click and “reset” the offending one, and it will disappear from your browser.
    • Sometimes the crashes are a sign that you need new drivers or updated software, even if you regularly allow Windows Update to do that for you. I discovered that my display driver needed updating even after I was told it was up to date by right clicking on it via Device Manager in my search for possible conflicts.

    I used to pay for a program to do that, but it started to pop up incessantly and sometimes couldn’t find or install drivers as promised. The free version of File Hippo finds the old stuff and takes you to a Web site full of links to the makers of the software or hardware that needs updating. I like that because you’re getting it from the “source.”

    AMD, in fact, had an “auto detect” feature that found the right download for me, so I could be sure I was running the right update. You can also bookmark those pages in case you need other information later — if you’re like me, you may never have visited them before. And when you see the resources available, it kinda makes you feel a little bit more secure.

    Finally, after discovering all the Chrome fixes by myself, I came to this page from How to Geek that tells you all that and more. The “SFC.EXE /SCANNOW” trick — see the bottom of the page — was a revelation. Windows will find and fix faulty system files that may be causing constant crashes if all else fails. I’m always nervous when a command prompt box pops up. But How To Geek tells you how to handle that and almost everything else that could go wrong with your computer — with pictures to help you follow each step correctly.

    I’m on their newsletter list now. And the mother ship is back in action. Beam me up, Scotty…

    Image credit: Pixabay

  • iWork for iCloud gets fresh upgrades; iOS/Mac updates coming today
    Apple has made some improvements to iWork for iCloud, according to pop-up messages. All three web apps in the suite — Pages, Numbers, and Keynote — have been given better support for Retina displays, a new editor tab, and upgraded sharing functions. The latter let people set shared documents as view-only, and open documents directly via iCloud Mail.

        



  • Facebook, Oculus Rift, and an Already Imagined Future
    Discussing Facebook with people who know me always reminds me of that Conan O’Brian joke he told the graduating class at Harvard about how for the rest of their lives, whenever they do something stupid they will inevitable hear the words “…and you went to Harvard?!” as if doing so should exclude you from all stupidity for life.

    Because — and here is the disclaimer — my girlfriend works at Facebook, so in my case it is always “…but your girlfriend works at Facebook” if I have anything but a negative opinion about the place. To answer the common follow-up question, no, I don’t know anything at all about Facebook that supersedes the knowledge of your average tech-news reader. But my limited attachment to Facebook does need to be said ahead of time so that if you can’t possibly trust me to present an unbiased opinion, you can save yourself the time and stop reading here.

    All disclaimers aside, what I did want to write about was Facebook’s newest acquisition of Oculus Rift and the reaction by the media and investment pundits who seem to signal this more as a CEO out of control than a company that — I believe — appears to have a very obvious plan in mind.

    To explain, let’s back up a bit. In 1992, Neil Stephenson published the book Snow Crash. I’m not sure when I first read it, but if I had to guess it was 1998 or so. The story itself is not my favorite, but the first 100 pages were absolutely unbelievable to me. In it, Stephenson outlines with a large amount of detail how a futuristic virtual world would operate, even down to the placement of advertising. Stephenson’s vision seemed so complete that ever since I read it I’ve personally been boring anyone who would listen about how obvious the possibilities and economic rewards would be for the company who built a successful version of this world.

    More recently — and way more entertaining — one could read the book Ready Player One for a further view into the finer details of what is feasible when it comes to virtual worlds and their ability to connect everyone, no matter their socioeconomic status. I’m sure there are more books about this, but science fiction isn’t really my thing so please excuse me if my references aren’t the greatest examples.

    My point in bringing these up in relation to Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift is my belief that someone at Facebook also realizes the possibilities and the importance as a company to look forward. Sure, understanding why people would want to strap a computer to their head and disappear for a while is confusing for many, including me as it is nothing I’m interested in doing either. But judging by the Oculus Rift community and their ability to raise over $2 million from 10,000 people on Kickstarter should tell you that people are definitely interested. Furthermore, looking at that same community’s heated reaction to the acquisition shows us that they are also passionately and emotionally invested in the product.

    Of course, Facebook is a long, long way from making a successful virtual world with heavily engaged users, but if anyone has the infrastructure to make it happen it would seem a company with over one billion logged on users and a lot of money might be a really good start. Pair that with owning the best hardware to date and you can see why maybe now isn’t the time to write this all off to reckless spending.

    Personally, I have no idea if it will work. I only have an opinion I’ve held since first reading Snow Crash that there is a lot of incentive in making a virtual world a literal reality. Of course you could point to other tepid attempts, like Second Life, to demonstrate that it won’t work, but even with their limited resources, embarrassingly sparse world, and closed environment, Second Life was able to gain a respectable amount of highly active users. (Life 2.0 is a great documentary on Second Life if you’d like to know more.)

    Though ultimately, at its worst this is — as many believe — just a hasty and foolish purchase by a company who by cursory glances appears to be spending recklessly on anything and everything. Although conversely, this could be the acquisition that seals Facebook’s fate as the top company of the future, a possibility that any investor would be remiss to consider after evaluating what is most likely the train of thought of those making the decisions at Facebook.

    And on the possible chance this is what they are thinking and it does work — in perfect unison with their internet.org global partnership — the implications are almost unimaginable to anyone but the most astute science fiction author.

    But don’t listen to me, just read Snow Crash and Ready Player One and come to your own conclusions about the possibilities of a future where virtual worlds generate the lion’s share of ad revenue for their invested companies.

  • The Search for Intelligent (Business) Life on Earth
    Since the 1890s, man has been using technology to try and find signs of intelligent life in the universe. Nicola Tesla, the brilliant inventor and engineer, was said to be one of the first when he suggested that an extreme version of his wireless electrical transmission system could be used to contact Martians.

    Some years later, when Tesla was investigating atmospheric electricity, he observed repetitive signals that he thought came from Mars. It turned out that he had just misunderstood the technology he was using. Tesla was followed by Guglielmo Marconi, Lord Kelvin and David Peck Todd who all believed they could use radio technology to contact Martians. No one to date has managed to contact any extraterrestrials (that we know of), sadly. However, their devotion to using new types of technology to prove a fascinating theory is reflected in many 21st-century technology innovators.

    Today’s search for intelligent life orbits a little closer to planet Earth, with companies delving into universes of data rather than looking to the stars. Their goal is to make their business operations more intelligent by integrating analytics, social and mobile technologies into their processes and the applications that enable them. This is called intelligent business operations (IBO).

    Firms are working to integrate proprietary and historical data with exponentially expanding masses of valuable new and real-time data, known as big data, in order to improve the way in which they respond to outside challenges.

    This new data follows years of technology innovation, which has created billions of online devices, which in turn create data. Mountains of new information flows in from social media, new internal corporate processes, retail and market transactions, electronic sensors and other devices every day. In terms of the rate of change and throughput of the data – it’s not just big data – it’s fast data too.

    By 2020, Gartner predicts there will be up to 30 billion devices — or things — connected to the Internet with unique IP addresses. This compares with 2009, when there were a “mere” 2.5 billion connected devices.

    This digital revolution, the Internet of Things, is a virtual world where things can be anything from a person with a heart monitor to a digital tire pressure sensor in your car, or smart electricity grids communicating with each other. All of these things create data, and the data can tell a story. The story might be about the personal spending habits of an iPhone user, or it could be about the engine capabilities of an 18-wheel truck.

    If you can get the story right, there is a pot of gold at the end. Gartner predicts that the total economic value-add from the Internet of Things will be $1.9 trillion dollars in 2020. The trick is to winkle out the story, thus identifying a trend or a pattern or an anomaly that you can use intelligently.

    Enter IBO. IBO puts real-time analytic intelligence and decision-making into the very lifeblood processes of the business. The result of this is being intelligent business-adapting decisions, based on the big, fast data blood flowing through the business’ veins.

    This might be pushing real-time offers to mobile consumers based on their locations, optimizing logistics operations to re-route shipping to reduce carbon footprints, or detecting and preventing fraud while (not after) it is in process.

    An IBO platform converges a number of powerful technologies into a modern in-memory analytics and “decisioning” architecture — including real-time messaging, in-memory data grid, complex event processing and streaming analytics, business process analytics and visual analytics.

    Together these capabilities can give a business 180 degrees of visibility — and the ability to respond at lightning speed. Using IBO, the next generation of big, “fast” data at Internet-of-Things scale can be collected, analyzed and responded to intelligently.

    As businesses look to the discover intelligent life in big data, IBO is the new technology that will enable this. Tesla would be envious.

  • Twitter Founder Biz Stone Talks How The Platform Serves Users
    It was the idea of individuals using Twitter for creative purposes that inspired the platform’s co-founder Biz Stone to create it.

    “I’m a people person,” he told HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressy Tehrani in an interview on Tuesday to promote his book “Things A Little Bird Told Me.” “I found out that the thing I like most — the thing that I like to do the most is help other people. That just gives me joy. And, you know, you could say that with Twitter I was helping people have freedom of expression.”

    That’s the reason building Twitter was a thrill.

    “It’s wonderful when you discover what you really love, because than you can just go for it,” he said.

    Stone seems to be doing just that. He recently developed Jelly, a social Q&A app for iPhones.

    “Once you know what you want to do with your life, you feel empowered,” he concluded.

    Watch Biz Stone’s full interview with HuffPost Live below:

  • First Two 'Hobbit' Films Get An 8-Bit Makeover
    In case you (somehow) managed to miss the first two “Hobbit” films, we’ve got a quick and easy way for you to catch up. Quite a lot of chit-chatting and trotting across the countryside takes place over the nearly six combined hours of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” so if you’d like to skip all of that and get to the action, here’s your chance.

    CineFix has given your favorite denizens of Middle Earth a video game makeover and condensed all of the “Hobbit” films’ most exciting moments into one Game Boy-style 8-bit (well, actually 16-bit) video.

    As awesome as this clip is to watch, we wish it were an actual game — we want to choose our own adventure!

    Check out the video below to watch Bilbo and the Dwarves make their way across a very boxy-looking Middle-earth.

  • 8 Crazy Hollywood Inventions That Actually Exist
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    By By Robin Farmanfarmaian, Vice President of Strategic Relations and Founding Executive Producer of the Exponential Medicine conference at Singularity University.

    Hollywood. They invent a lot of gadgets to cover up what would otherwise be gaping plot holes. “Back to the Future” would just be a movie about a crazy scientist who drives a tacky sports car, and Katniss and Peeta would never have made it through “The Hunger Games.”

    However, to the excitement of Trekkies everywhere, not all of those inventions are completely imaginary. From contact lenses that give you Superman’s vision to the DARPA-funded BigDog military pack mule that resembles something out of “RoboCop,” real-life mad scientists and nutty professors are coming up with some pretty strange inventions. Here are some more Hollywood gadgets that actually exist.

    1. Mech Robots as Seen in ‘Pacific Rim’
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    Guillermo del Toro’s homage to “Godzilla” features humanity’s struggle against an alien race called the Kaiju. The only thing standing between these creatures and the total annihilation of mankind are soldiers piloting giant mech robots called Jaegers.

    Well, in case “Pacific Rim” becomes a reality, you too can have a giant robotic warrior of your own. Back in 2006, the Japanese company Suidobashi created a working diesel-powered mech robot. If you have $1.5 million to spare, you can pilot your very own Kuratas warrior.

    2. Liquid Metal as Seen in ‘Terminator 2’
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    We’ve all seen the T-1000 in “Terminator 2” chase Arnold and company around LA. However, many didn’t know this movie inspired far more than the third and fourth installments of the Terminator series. For a few scientists, the movie inspired them to make liquid metal and self-repairing computers a reality, which are now not only revolutionizing the manufacturing industry, but military applications as well.

    The self-repairing technology has even spread into the biomedical field with bandages that speed up healing time in humans (similar to the gel adhesive in “The Hunger Games”).

    3. Face Replacements as Seen in ‘Mission Impossible’
    In “Mission Impossible,” Tom Cruise and his team make the act of switching faces look as easy as putting on a mask. Well, if you’re in the market for a new face, you’re in luck. In what could be a revolutionary change to the plastic surgery industry, scientists have already begun to perfect face transplant technology.

    4. Body Modification as Seen in ‘Gattaca’
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    While making someone taller by adding artificial bone is a little ways off, we can produce bone models that meet individuals’ exact specifications in the event of a massive bone fracture with 3D printing technology.

    Bone models used to be too expensive and take too long to complete, but now a model can be made in about a week, costing only $150. Scientists have already printed human veins, too, and they are hard at work trying to replicate other organs.

    5. Real-Life Tricorders as Seen in ‘Star Trek’
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    While tricorders were standard issue for the Starfleet, those of us living in the 21st century are pretty impressed by these real-life versions.

    The TellSpec is a handheld tool designed to help people better understand their environments and the foods they’re consuming. Just point the device at a wall to detect mold, or scan a piece of food to identify hidden culprits that trigger allergies, such as gluten, aspartame, soy, and nuts.

    2014-04-01-Scandu.jpg

    Scanadu Scout is a scanner packed with sophisticated sensors that allows you to perform a physical exam on yourself in an instant. It can track your heart rate variability, temperature, and more to give you insights into your overall health and stress level.

    6. Widespread Surveillance as Seen in ‘Eagle Eye’
    Shia LaBeouf wisely attempted to avoid being seen in a movie we wisely avoided seeing. To its credit, though, “Eagle Eye” did have some spectacular tech that’s now being put to use in a few of America’s major cities. For example, Microsoft’s Domain Awareness System in conjunction with the NYPD had every square inch of Manhattan covered with cameras.

    Other surveillance programs allow access to every security and phone camera in the U.S. There’s even a screensaver that shows live surveillance feeds from around the world. It’s not just Big Brother; the whole world is watching.

    7. Hologram Communications as Seen in ‘Star Wars’
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    Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella

    We may have been introduced to the galaxy far, far away a long, long time ago, but “Star Wars” remains the king of movie tech motivators in real life. Not only has the White House been forced to respond to a petition to build a Death Star on their website, a real-life lightsaber has been invented, and Tupac’s hologram in 2012 opened the door to some truly Jedi-worthy communication.

    8. Robot Assistants as seen in ‘I, Robot’
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    Will Smith is basically Blade in “I, Robot,” except the vampires have been replaced by robot servants. Although you can implant a computer chip in your arm like Smith, you’re better off spending the money on a Roomba.

    While these new gadgets might seem like science fiction, exponential technological development means the type of tech we will experience in the future will be unrecognizable from what we consider advanced today. Soon, what we are capable of producing in real life may outpace Hollywood movie magic.

    Visit XPRIZE at xprize.org, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and get our Newsletter to stay informed.

    This material published courtesy of Singularity University.

  • 10 Ways to Engage Children and Families in Reading With the Power of Technology
    Dr. Seuss once said, “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.”

    March is National Reading Month, a time to celebrate the importance of reading, foster children’s growth as readers and promote a lifelong love of literature.

    Technology has opened up possibilities for reading that were unimaginable a decade ago. Technology has improved the reading experience for children by making it more interactive. E-readers and other devices also have made it possible for children to have a 1,000-book library in the palm of their hands.

    While technology is a powerful tool to engage children in reading, families play a critical role in helping children develop their literacy skills, beginning at birth. And that role doesn’t stop when children start school.

    It’s increasingly important for families to take the time to read with their children. Research shows that engaging both children and their parents in reading can increase the amount of learning a child takes away from a book. The same holds true for e-books and other electronic media. After all, as author Emily Buchwald once said, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

    Whether using an e-reader or physical book, the following are some ideas for families to inspire children to read and help them improve their literacy skills.

    1. Encourage reading in your home Set an example by reading in front of your child for both pleasure and practicality. You can even create a special space in your home where you can read together.

    2. Spend 30 minutes each day reading together When reading with your child, ask your child to describe what is going on in the scene or happening in the story.

    3. Sign your child up for a library card A library card is essential and free for your child to gain access to countless numbers of books. E-books can even be borrowed for free from many local libraries.

    4. Attend a library event Most libraries hold weekly or monthly events, such as story times, that you and your child can attend together.

    5. Become involved at their school Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher to help monitor his or her progress, and ask what you can do at home to support their reading.

    6. Applaud your child for reading Reward your child for reading a certain number of books or finishing a challenging book just as you would other activities such as basketball or piano.

    7. Give books as presents Give books as a gift, especially on topics your child will love, to encourage and support their interests.

    8. Help your child write their own stories Encourage your child to write stories based on his or her experiences or favorite characters from other books, movies or TV shows.

    9. Make flashcards to learn new words Help your child study new vocabulary words or create colorful bookmarks to mark his or her place.

    10. Utilize free reading programs like the Family Reading Experience, Powered by Kindle It engages the entire family to support better literacy outcomes for children. The program features fun activities in English and Spanish using both physical books and e-books to help children better understand reading fundamentals.

    During the month of March and all year round, it is critical to focus on the joys and importance of reading and to take the time to read with children. Technology provides access to a wealth of books and information, and engaged families help motivate children to read and learn.

    Dr. Seuss said it best, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

    Sherri Wilson is a senior manager of family and community engagement for National PTA, a nonprofit association dedicated to being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Wilson develops and implements programs designed to increase family and community engagement in education. Prior to joining National PTA, Wilson served as director of the Alabama Parent Information and Resource Center.

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