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Mobile Technology News, April 15, 2014

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

  • TechMom Tuesday: Not Sold in Stores

    The TechTots and I recently loaded up the TechMom Mobile and headed south for a long weekend celebrating my father’s 70th birthday.
    (We’ll call him PapaStavo – he doesn’t get a Tech moniker because he is clueless when it comes to all the newfangled gizmos and gadgets. You know, like the concept of […]

    The post TechMom Tuesday: Not Sold in Stores appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • VIDEO: Sensors to prevent pain for amputees
    Researchers at the University of Southampton have developed three-directional pressure sensors which they say could prevent dangerous sores for thousands of patients
  • Florida's One Spark Crowdfunding Festival Sparks a Fire
    If you haven’t heard of One Spark yet, something tells me you soon will.

    “The world’s first crowdfunding festival,” as it’s known, started in Jacksonville, Fla., last year and had a decent go of it in 2013. It’s a simple, yet powerful concept — present an edgy yet fun festival atmosphere that also connects innovative startups with venture capital. Attendees simply download an app, roam around and soak in the ambiance, and vote on the “creator” projects they like most. From artists and bands to interesting tech ideas, top vote-getters hustled on the streets and at their vendor booths to grab the lion’s share of funding in the One Spark kitty. Investors have ponied up in the millions, and competition is fierce for the money up for grabs.

    Attendance last year was strong, but this is the year that One Spark officially blew up. An estimated 260,000 people packed Jacksonville’s urban core over the five-day event. For a city that has struggled to get anything at all truly going downtown, it was an exhilarating sight to see.

    I knew something special was in the air when we headed downtown for One Spark Saturday, packed onto Jacksonville’s much-maligned Skyway railway service. Normally it’s practically riderless. But as the throngs headed downtown, the Skyway finally felt like riding the rails is supposed to- jammed, bustling, like a subway ride in New York or an El hop in Chicago. And instead of sullen straphangers, people were smiling. Talking. Laughing at the simple excitement of a packed Skyway train!

    One Spark is now going global, with a satellite event event planned this fall for Berlin.

    But the festival will always have its home base in Jacksonville, says founder Elton Rivas, who, with a few smart friends, has changed the game in the River City. “We were tired of hearing that we had to move away from Jacksonville to do something cool,” Rivas said. “So we decided to make it happen here.”

    I for one am glad he did.

  • Sensors to prevent pain for amputees
    Researchers have developed a new type of pressure sensor – dubbed a “second skin” – which they say could prevent dangerous sores.
  • 3D sound tests carried out by BBC
    The BBC’s attempt to create 3D sound recordings
  • Hi-tech start-ups aim for the stars
    New tech helps small firms shoot for the stars
  • Google Wants To Put A Camera On Your Eyeball
    We knew Google was experimenting with computerized contact lenses, and we knew Google’s been selling cameras that strap to your face. So maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that Google want to place a camera on your eyeball. But we are anyway.

    The tech giant filed a patent application (published last month) that describes a contact lens that can take photographs and transmit them to a smartphone or other device. Similar to Google Glass, which almost appears quaint compared to a freaking contact lens computer, this device would be controlled by blinking. The patent was discovered by the blog Patent Bolt, where you can read a lengthy report.

    google contact
    A sketch of Google’s hypothetical contact-cum-camera.

    Like it did when it proposed a glucose-monitoring contact lens for diabetes patients, Google pitched its eye camera as a cause for common good.

    To make its case, Google describes a situation in which the contact lens could prove helpful. Imagine a blind man walking toward an intersection. Without Google’s camera lens, the blind man may not be able to sport a moving car, putting him in danger. With one, the camera could give the person an audio warning via his phone.

    But the patent also mentions some superhuman abilities the lens could give healthy individuals, including changing focus and offering a wider peripheral view.

    As with all patents, this shrunken version of Google Glass is a castle-in-the-sky idea that may never come to market. But Google engineers would not be the first to dream of cameras nestled right against our eyeballs. I mean, even “Futurama” called it with its “eyePhone” episode, though Google’s version does seem less painful:

    mindy corporon

  • NSA stories take Pulitzer Prize
    The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers share the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism for a series of stories on US electronic spying.
  • The Role of Print in Our Technological World
    In our hyper-connected world, people have grown accustomed to getting answers immediately. My generation has grown up with the mindset that if you have a question, just ask Google. We tend to take the wealth of information online for granted. At least, I used to.

    I pride myself on being rather tech-savvy, having co-founded a nonprofit solely through the combination of email, Skype, Google hangouts and Twitter. I get all my news in my Feedly reader (and when I say all I mean if I don’t check it until lunch — I have over 100 headlines to digest) and am a devoted iPhone note-taker. All of this to say that when people complained that print newspapers were dying, I wasn’t the least surprised. After all, news on the go was more convenient, especially if it fit in your pocket. Why would anyone want a bulky weekly review that was probably outdated by the time it reached your doorstep?

    One trip to the offices of the most widely read daily French paper, Ouest France, was enough to make me rethink my position. Taking notes on the new French Prime Minister Manuel Valls’s first speech alongside a team off journalists, I told myself that if there was something I didn’t catch, I could always find the transcript online later. The irony was, I was surrounded by some of the very people who would be responsible for putting that article out there. I’d gotten so used to having information at my fingertips that I’d stopped thinking about how it got there. And here I was, witnessing news being made; not in the conventional sense of witnessing a historical event but in that I was literally seeing the flesh and bones “news” being pieced together. It was impressive, to say the least, hearing reputed professionals asking each other whether this adjective needed to be accorded, or if a certain piece was ready to run in the evening edition or simply planning stories and constructing sections for tomorrow’s paper.

    Surrounded by all this newspaper magic made me feel like I was back in a time where print was the only way people got their news, and frankly, it was nice. So when one of the journalists asked me if I would subscribe to a weekly paper were I an adult, my response startled even myself: I said yes. Talking about how simply consuming headlines deprived me of the gripping prose of some of the big-name papers and how I liked the feel of real paper reminded me of how reading on a screen doesn’t feel like I’m truly reading and internalizing the content. In that way, I guess I like an honest to goodness paper for some of the same reasons I could never give up real books. As much as I love my Kindle and online PDFs for increased consumption, I often feel like I’m not properly savoring the book.

    And as these words were coming out of my mouth, I realized, technology has disconnected us almost as much as it has brought us closer together. Now, as I’m studying abroad, physically estranged from practically everyone I know, I’m no stranger to what technology can do. I’m reminded how amazing it is when I see my family every week on Skype, participate in a conference taking place miles away thanks to Twitter, bounce article ideas off of the community of HuffPost Teen writers that has sprung up on GroupMe or help my friends back home choose a prom dress via Facebook. But although the worldwide web has succeeded in shrinking the world, so to speak, it has also created a culture of individuals stuck in their own electronic universes. Many of my peers are even scared of using their phones to actually call someone, preferring to hide behind their screens in what passes as communication. The constant stream of information has captivated our attention to the point that we are slaves to or devices, checking them constantly, becoming more and more incapable of carrying on a real conversation, so engrossed are we in what’s going on elsewhere.

    The demise of print publications has been touted again and again as the beginning of the technological revolution, and as a harbinger of an even more connected word that awaits us in the not-so-distant future. But the world it is a-changing and I’m a big believer that we need to change with it. Desperately clinging to a slim hope that paper will have a massive comeback is, in my opinion, a tad delusional. As history has shown us, old technology will always be followed by newer innovations, but it’s up to the medium to stay alive. When TV came along, everyone thought that was the end of radio, but they adapted and emerged diminished yet not eliminated. So it must be with print publications: though the focus may continue to shift online, news corporations and the newspapers through which they spread the word are still relevant; they simply need to find a way to stay profitable in tandem with their online counterparts. Perhaps, like the New York Times does, a limited amount of content available to free users or a premium of information unlocked by a paid subscription. Whatever the answer, I believe at least a small part of our world still needs the comfortable familiarity and reliable trustworthiness that print publications provide.

    Author’s note: I’m aware of the irony that this is being posted under a subset of an online-only media corporation… Here’s hoping I at least inspire a headline: “Tech-Obsessed Teen Comes Out In Support Of Print Media.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I'm Scared and Doing It Anyway
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    “I’m scared and I’m doing it anyway.” Those are words I’ve lived by since being diagnosed with a brain tumor 10 years ago.

    Ten Years.

    Unlike astronaut Chris Hadfield, who worked since childhood diligently preparing for and dreaming of his scariest moment, I didn’t practice walking through spider webs a hundred times in order to learn to face fear with patience and calm. There isn’t an anti-gravity simulator for life – and even if there were I would not have wanted to test it.

    Maybe I was preparing for my moment too; I just didn’t realize it.

    I learned how to face fear when I had no other choice.

    Ten years ago, I was living a completely normal life: commuting to my job to climb the corporate ladder, and planning a wedding to the nicest guy I’d ever met. The things you take for granted when you’re 28 years old.

    Then I had an ear infection and a wooshing sound in my right ear that wouldn’t go away after a round of antibiotics. The doctor ordered an MRI to make sure it wasn’t anything serious.

    It was.

    At what I thought was a routine appointment in 2004, I met my little white blob face-to-face for the first time: A golf ball-sized brain tumor had lodged itself behind my right inner ear, intertwined with the delicate, wet-tissue-paper strands of my hearing, balance and facial nerves for what the doctors guessed was five years before it was found.

    Ten years ago this month I had the first of two surgeries to remove it. As Chris described his preparation for the shuttle’s launch into space, I was eerily reminded of my own final moments of life as I knew it.

    The foam slippers and white cotton gown I wrapped nearly twice around me as I climbed onto a gurney for the first time. Being surrounded by instruments meant to monitor every step of the exploration that the neurosurgeons were making into my brain. And the moment when I thought we were past the worst of it, when I was in pajamas easing into my new life at home after surgery number two, and woke up one morning in the most excruciating physical pain I have ever experienced.

    Another diagnosis: bacterial meningitis.

    The third trip to the hospital felt like a space walk in some ways. I was hallucinating worlds away from my loved ones and the reality we used to share together. My mind was creating some of the most amazing images I’d ever seen of snowy mountaintops, soft cat fur, and wheat fields bending in the wind.

    Chris asks each of us: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

    My scariest moment was not brain surgery, although it felt that way at the time. What was scarier was after I returned to ‘normal’ life, and realized that I didn’t particularly like it. I wasn’t fulfilled at work or in my relationships. There wasn’t a little white blob to blame anymore, and that meant it was up to me, gulp, to build the life I wanted for myself.

    I was going to have to face demons that I’d carefully avoided up until then: fear of being alone, fear of failing, fear of disappointing the people I had always looked to for approval…

    Facing danger is not always a choice, but you can choose to face fear.

    The gift my brain tumor gave me was that scary things didn’t seem so scary anymore. Suddenly I had perspective – not only on what I was really afraid of, but also on my own mortality.

    I changed careers. I got divorced. I moved to a new city. Each of these choices was scary – but the alternative was worse. It was not living.

    In the 10 years since my brain surgeries I’ve had some of the best, most exhilarating moments of my life. They came from daring to be who I always wanted to be, but had been afraid to admit before.

    As Chris says, Fear Not — or be scared, and do it anyway.

    Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

  • An Exercise in Private Enjoyment
    A few weeks ago, I found myself sitting at my favorite bar with a new book and glass of wine. Outside, the weather oscillated between sleet and snow, enhancing the warm coziness of the scene inside.

    If it sounds like I’m waxing poetic here, I am. Bear with me.

    The moment was romantic and picturesque, and I was overcome with the uncommon calmness of being alone.

    So, naturally, upon realizing and appreciating my solitary contentedness, I felt compelled to share the moment with the masses.

    I snapped a photo with my iPhone. In the foreground were my book and full glass of wine, illuminated by the table’s twinkling candle. In the background were the gray windows and bustling bar. Instagram’s fanciful filters added a seductive golden haze to the photo. Moment = captured.

    And then, just as I was going through the social media motions, about to click “Share,” I experienced an unfamiliar hesitation: Why can’t you just enjoy this for what it is? Don’t rob this happy solitude of its essence by sharing it.

    I clicked out of Instagram and resumed my reading, but I had trouble concentrating. I felt a disconcerting pride in having resisted the temptations of social media. And I felt an even more disconcerting pull to succumb and just upload the damn picture already.

    The unbidden thought crossed my mind that this kind of internal conflict was ripe for clinical analysis. After all, it was recently debated in the New York Times whether immediate gratification via social media was “making us narcissistic — overly focused on ourselves, with an outsized vision of our own influence.”

    “Good god,” I wondered, “Am I some sort of attention-loving egoist?!”

    Probably. But — mercifully and worrisomely — we all are.

    Pick your poison: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat, FourSquare, LinkedIn, etc. etc. We are all champions and victims of social media’s self-actualizing allure.

    For the majority of us who willfully participate in this contemporary ritual of sharing, enjoying moments privately has become a sort of exercise — a deliberate resistance to the intoxicating acknowledgement and approval of our peers.

    But does sharing really just boil down to a pseudo narcissistic craving for acknowledgement and approval? Not entirely.

    I mean, sure, that’s part of it. As Maureen O’Connor discussed at length in New York Magazine, “like addiction” is a thing. Simply: We all care if our shares get likes. (Don’t pretend like you don’t, you self-righteous contrarian. I know you care!).

    But that’s not even the half of it.

    Why go to a crowded restaurant when you can just eat at home? Why share a photo when you can just print it for your own personal collection? Because we are human and, as Aristotle so famously noted, “Man is by nature a social animal.”

    By nature, we crave and depend on social engagement. It just so happens that now, in this technological era, our social impulses have found another outlet via a handful of social media channels.

    I love social media. I love when my best friend from high school, who I haven’t seen in a year, Instagrams a photo from her trip to Turks and Caicos. I love when my friend SnapChats me a video of his commute home from work, featuring a woman riding a horse along the road. I love when my buddy tweets a link to a fascinating and random article about the Darwin Fish that I would never have stumbled upon otherwise. I love when my college debate buddy updates his LinkedIn with a new and impressive job title. I love when my little sister, who’s studying abroad, uploads a Facebook album chronicling a trip with her band of travelers, none of whom I have met but with whom I feel a connection.

    With each update, I am enriched and feel an in-the-moment connectedness that is nothing if not genuine.

    But, as with any social phenomenon, social media has its detractors. The disillusioned brush aside the likes and comments as being “disingenuous,” requiring “little effort.” They say conversations via social media don’t feel “real.” They complain that social media platforms are a playground for one-upmanship and bragging. They insist that if the relationship is meaningful, it will endure via more “legitimate” means, like email or telephone. Oh, how detached even those mediums must have seemed to previous generations.

    Though I empathize, I fundamentally can’t stand these arguments. How sanctimoniously dismissive and unappreciative they are of the evolving global landscape.

    We live in an increasingly transient world. Kids go to summer camps hours away from home. When they get to college, many more are going out-of-state, and an increasing number are studying abroad. The internship and job search has become international in scope, with the highest number of Americans living overseas to-date.

    True, this global access is not enjoyed by everyone, but the pool of people to whom it is available is only increasing. By the time many of us reach late adolescence, our social networks span states and continents. Just because we don’t have time or energy to consistently invest in maintaining this plurality of friendships doesn’t render the friendships less legitimate. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day.

    I may not have had a prolonged conversation with my dear friend from Italy in over a year, but I engage with him regularly. I know from his Instagram that he won his swim meet last weekend and he knows from my Facebook that I was recently on vacation to visit my sister. So, it wasn’t weird at all when I woke up this morning to an email from him, asking me to help him translate his resume from Italian to English. Similarly, it wouldn’t be weird at all if, next time I’m in Italy, I crashed with him for a few days.

    Social media has come to supplement, not replace, more traditional mechanisms of interaction. We still email. We still talk on the phone. We still meet for dinner. We still travel great distances to visit one another. The difference is, we no longer have to spend hours “catching up.” Social media keeps us caught up so that we can dive right back into the relationship, as if we’ve been together, in the moment, all along.

  • The Internet Reacts To US Airways' NSFW Tweet Exactly How You Would Expect
    In case you missed it, US Airways tweeted out a very NSFW image of a woman and a toy plane. We’ll leave the rest either to your imagination, or to see yourself.

    The Internet is now responding in obvious fashion. Below are some of the best responses to the image.

    GOT Spoilers or that @USAirways Tweet — Which are you more upset you came across in your Twitter feed?

    — Connor Finnegan (@elconndorpasa) April 14, 2014

    i mean how does the @usairways social media nerd explain this? so yeah that was on my desktop um because yeah…forget it i fired myself

    — drew olanoff (@drew) April 14, 2014

    what has been seen cannot be unseen

    — Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) April 14, 2014

    So, @ElleRafter, are you satisfied with that feedback?

    — Cooper Fleishman (@_Cooper) April 14, 2014

    Right now CNN is on the phone with @USAirways. “I heard you found a plane?”

    — Michele Catalano (@inthefade) April 14, 2014

    Hey @USAirways how do I charter a plane into my vagina?

    — Pornhub Katie (@Pornhub) April 14, 2014

    What The US Airways Tweet Gets Wrong About Plane Travel

    — Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) April 14, 2014

    Miracle on the Hudson — Foster Kamer (@weareyourfek) April 14, 2014

    someone at @usairways misheard and thought their job was to provide exceptional customer cervix

    — jon hendren (@fart) April 14, 2014

    Does US Airways charge for nuts?

    — Donda (@dondalynn) April 14, 2014

    Charging $60 to check 2 bags is still the grossest thing US Airways has done.

    — Vanessa Ramos (@thatRamosgirl) April 14, 2014

    Seems @USAirways finally deleted those tweets. Here’s a completely safe for work re-enactment. I promise, it’s safe. pic.twitter.com/4gc6HUewcr

    — Zach Woosley (@GingeFC) April 14, 2014

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  • Watching a Wedding: Social Media in 3D — How Internet Paradigms Cast and Script Real-Life Events
    Last summer, I attended a wedding ceremony in Las Vegas. I did not know anyone there. I was not invited as a guest, nor was I present in any occupational capacity; neither was I crashing it. I simply happened upon it.

    It’s not uncommon to pass wedding parties in Vegas, but this was the first time I had ever chanced upon an actual ceremony being publicly conducted. This wedding took place in front of an artificial waterfall at the center of a shopping mall connected to one of the city’s most prestigious hotel/casinos. It might have been a beautiful ceremony but the effect was diminished in a colossal atrium intersected by escalators shifting throngs of casually dressed, disinterested tourists up and down between floors of shops.

    A velvet rope cordoned off the sanctified space from the surrounding commotion, segregating participants and invitees from everyone else. Within, invited guests sat in neat rows of chairs temporarily set up for the event. Without, interested onlookers lined the velvet rope, accreting on escalators and second-floor balconies as they gawked, gossiped, and speculated in hushed veneration; a few impassive passersby glanced indifferently in unbroken stride. The fact that the wedding was taking place in the middle of the atrium made it impossible to ignore: one couldn’t just walk by without noticing it.

    Bride and groom uttered vows amplified by microphones and directed by an impersonal celebrant presiding over the ceremony with a precipitancy akin to playing a movie at one and a half times its normal speed. Nearby, an extraneous dais, swathed in purple cloths and scattered with flower petals, provided a grand resting place for three pianos that were never played; apparently they were present for another event. Instead, music was provided by a violin player of generic appearance who was more formally dressed than either of the two bridesmaids.

    2014-04-13-IMG_5908.JPG
    Standing, from left: Photographer; celebrant; bridesmaid; groom; bride (behind bridesmaid in blue); bridesmaid; violin player. Note the spectator taking a photo on the escalator in the background.

    As I stood at the edge of the velvet rope, dubiety gnawed at me. Why am I here? Why should I care? Why are other spectators so enthralled by the activities of complete strangers? Why would the bridal party even want so many spectators to watch what normally would be a private event? To me, everything seemed anticlimactic, as if the crowds and the commercial venue were sapping a momentousness from the event as it was occurring.

    Perplexingly, the situation felt oddly familiar, and I soon realized why. Although the event was happening before me in three dimensions, I felt like I was on the internet.

    On the internet, conversations, photos, and thoughts once held private and made privy to only a select few are shared indiscriminately with acquaintances and strangers alike. Social media makes spectators or performers out of all of us, depending on which role we assume or are assigned. This fuels either a narcissistic craving to be the center of attention or a compulsive urge to vicariously participate by watching those who are.

    The social media ethos is polarizing. In the “real” world, social relationships used to not be clear-cut; categories of friends and acquaintances were defined in fairly open-ended terms. This is not the case anymore. Social networks and smartphones encourage people to divide each other into groups: “friends” and non-friends, inner and outer circles. These categories determine the interactive potential of their constituents, but not necessarily how much they are allowed to see.

    Just as we now categorize each other, all social media participants may be objectively divided into two categories: grandstanders and bystanders. In the case of the internet, the grandstanders are the people creating the content in the form of pictures or words; the bystanders are merely looking at or reading them. The bystanders are only on the consciousness of the grandstanders collectively, insofar as they confer a small amount of value to their spectacle by watching, aggrandizing the egos of the grandstanders and lending weight to their demonstration by providing it an audience.

    At the wedding, invited guests could be considered part of the grandstander category because they are present in the inner circle and therefore are part of the supporting cast of the performance. Their digital counterparts might be people commenting on someone else’s photos, posts, or conversations. The uninvited guests are the bystanders. Their digital counterparts might be strangers or distant acquaintances looking at someone’s published content without the implicit or explicit privilege of participating.

    A third category exists behind the scenes: the enablers, who profit from the grandstanders’ performances. They are sustained by the interplay between grandstanders and bystanders. In the case of the wedding, the hotel/casino was paid $4,000 for providing the venue. Online, the system of enablers is more complex and less transparent.

    The grandstander/bystander/enabler pattern has always been applicable to celebrities, sports figures, writers, and others involved with mass media; but it has become applicable to everyday people publishing personal news via social media. Usually this phenomenon takes place in the digital dimension, where connection to the physical world is indefinite. Increasingly, however, it spills off networks of computer screens and over into the physical world.

    By way of social media, the grandstander/bystander paradigm has embedded itself into our sensibilities, revolutionizing the dynamics of social events taking place in three dimensions. Instead of participating in activities on equal footing, all present are divided into groups of invitees and non-invitees. We can watch an ordinarily private event involving complete strangers, such as the wedding that I witnessed, happening before us without being a part of it. In so doing, we are acutely aware that we are mere spectators. A ceremony that normally would take place behind closed doors may be engineered to be viewed by an audience. The participants may bask in the attention of an audience while keeping it at bay with a palpable but nearly invisible line. The separation between invitees and non-invitees is more tenuously delineated than it would be in a private ceremony. In a public wedding, the tangible value conveyed by an invitation decreases, as the only things distinguishing invited guests from the public are a velvet rope, a piece of paper, and a chair. However, this deficit of tangible value is made up for in the way of increased status: enhanced by the presence of the public, the special rank of invited guests is visible to all.

    Privacy lends a certain gravity to events like weddings. At private events, invited guests and live witnesses’ participation is special and meaningful. The guests’ presence is a mutual privilege; it is exclusive. Now, in cases such as this wedding, exclusivity is transferred from the tangible benefit of seeing the wedding, to an intangible subjective benefit of the privilege of seeing the wedding within the rope, visible to all spectators. It also opens up their event to be discussed and critiqued by strangers.

    The experience of the wedding is reduced to a shell. The bride and groom value their guests and observers as accessories to a performance. Awareness of the spectators and increased self-awareness under their gaze is a distraction from the actual wedding for both the wedding party and the invited guests. The spectators, in turn, don’t care about the people who are getting married. They mean nothing to them; they are complete strangers. Yet the bystanders enjoy watching the wedding because of the idea it represents. They feel important because they have witnessed a life-changing event of someone, even if they are complete strangers. In this way, the grandstanders become accessories to their spectators. They are only important to one another as abstractions, like cartoon characters. The bystanders might as well have been watching a wedding between two animated paper dolls. The idea of the wedding takes precedence over its personal significance.

    How do we define “social media”? Generally, it is used to refer to things in the context of the digital world, making its exact definition elusive, subject to the constant mutations of that mercurial arena. Does it necessarily exist only in the digital realm? Perhaps a broader definition of social media is necessary in order to account for ways in which it defines us.

    Increasingly, events are only seen as meaningful if they are shared with third parties. This wedding illustrates the extent to which our physical world is currently being defined by principles generated in the digital one. The conventions of social media are no longer confined to digital venues. They continue to distend flat screens, cannibalizing three-dimensional life only to bring it back to computerdom.

    I did not stay for the duration of the ceremony. I had more important things to do.

  • Google Buys Drone-Maker For Supposedly Non-Evil Reasons
    Google announced Monday that it is buying New Mexico-based drone maker Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed sum, the Wall Street Journal reports. If you recognize the name, it’s because Facebook was reportedly in talks to buy the same company.

    The thing is, Titan Aerospace doesn’t exactly have a huge number of drones yet. In fact, the company only has two: the solar-powered Solara 50 and the Solara 60, both of which can reportedly stay in flight for five years. If you’re interested, the Solara 50 can carry 70 pounds and the Solara 60 can carry around 250 pounds.

    Google plans to use the drones in part for its Project Loon initiative, an attempt to send high-altitude balloons into the sky to connect more of the world to the Internet.

    Facebook similarly hoped to purchase the company as part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s plan to spread the Internet across the world, but don’t feel too bad for Zuck. His company acquired a drone-maker called Ascenta for $20 million at the end of March with the same plan in mind.

    Facebook and Google have been known to fight to acquire up-and-coming companies. Last year when Facebook offered to buy the photo-messaging app Snapchat for $3 billion, Google was rumored to have offered the company $4 billion.

    Google will also likely use the drones to take photos for Google Maps and assist in on the project Makani, in which the company hopes to create an airborne wind turbine that is tethered to the ground as it generates electricity flying through the air.

    “It’s still early days,” a Googles spokesperson told WSJ, “but atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems, including disaster relief and environmental damage like deforestation.”

  • These 'Wearable Eyes' Make Your Face Look More Friendly Than You Feel (VIDEO)
    As any flight attendant or waiter knows, it can be exhausting to keep a friendly smile plastered on your face for hours on end–especially when customers turn grouchy. And looking friendly can be even harder for those of us cursed with a “b*tchy resting face.”

    But now a researcher at Tsukuba University in Japan, Dr. Hirotaka Osawa, thinks he has a solution: don a pair of his freaky-deaky robotic eyes and they’ll fake your emotions for you. Just check them out in the following video. (Story continues below).

    The lenses of the new “wearable eyes,” called AgencyGlass, display a pair of virtual eyeballs that can move back and forth, up and down. They help the wearer maintain proper eye contact with others by using an external camera to detect faces and a gyroscope and accelerometer to sense motion. They also blink, and glance upward to simulate a “thoughtful expression.”

    Aside from helping college students get away with taking secret naps in class, Osawa believes his device may help relieve people’s “emotional labor,” the enthusiasm and set of proper emotional responses required in many service jobs. Since engineers use robots to extend our physical abilities and enhance our intellect, Osawa wanted to create a technology that could enhance our social skills too, he said.

    But the new technology is not without its critics. Some blast it for being deceptive, and others say it’s an example of how our relationship with technology can go awry.

    As Simon Head, author of Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans, quipped in an email to The Huffington Post, “Why not a wearable face and a wearable voice so that we can vegetate in an inert stupor while our cyborg self deals with the world on our behalf?”

    What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

  • US Airways Tweets Out VERY NSFW Photo Of Woman With Toy Plane
    US Airways apologized for an extremely graphic photo that it shared earlier today, depicting a naked woman in a sexual position with a toy plane.

    On Monday afternoon, the airline tweeted the photo to a customer who was complaining about their service. US Airways said in the tweet, “We welcome feedback, Elle. If your travel is complete, you can detail here for review and follow up.”

    WARNING: THE IMAGE BELOW IS A GRAPHIC, EDITED VERSION OF THE TWEET. CLICK HERE TO REVEAL IT

    It took almost a full hour before the company removed the tweet, and it has already made its rounds on the Internet.

    A representative of US Airways told The Huffington Post that they were looking into the incident as of 3:25 p.m.

    The company sent out a follow-up tweet after the original NSFW image garnered more than 500 retweets.

    We apologize for an inappropriate image recently shared as a link in one of our responses. We’ve removed the tweet and are investigating.

    — US Airways (@USAirways) April 14, 2014

    And if you must absolutely see the image in its completely un-blurred, original posting, then so be it. Again, this is VERY NSFW.

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  • Go Tell it on the Mountain
    2014-04-14-photo720140411175025.jpg

    Time for true confessions…again….

    Here goes:

    From the mountain….

    I spent an entire weekend with entrepreneurs, doers of cool and great things; creative creator types; people who care about people, the world and the environment; successful business people who transcend mere digital ideas…and no one — NO ONE — mentioned the words app or social network…as in the latest Facebook killer, monetization, second or third screen, Web 3.0 or any other meaningless digibabble.

    In fact — as a group, there was a lot of discussion about how to switch off — how always being on inhibits and impedes true creativity — and the value of being able to listen, to respond…to have human interface — action and reaction.

    No doubt some of you are reading this and rolling your eyes, assigning me a Luddite status, automatically assuming I just don’t get it… out of touch… not with it — you get my drift…

    WRONG.

    In fact, not just wrong — sadly and inexorably wrong.

    Digital is everything… but not everything is digital.

    This has been my mantra and platform for years — but never have I been more certain of this notion than when I drove down from Powder Mountain, Utah, in near-whiteout conditions Sunday noon after an amazing, energizing and frankly humbling weekend on the mountain at Summit Series.

    I will let you read up on Summit Powder Mountain — one of the rules of inclusion is no posting or other social digital activity while you are there — wake up world — this is the real thing — not the latest BS on some tanked-out faux celeb or incessant stupid chatter about some party stuff — and they want the conversation to stay inside and focused — no finger distractions while you are in the creative mode — while its implications ripple out when we leave — real communication…

    What a reminder about what really drives ideas, thoughts, creativity… conversation — people talking, sharing, eating together, listening, reacting, hiking, skiing — in short — the very things that have propelled humankind to the top of the bio heap.

    So I listened to Chris Wink, the founder of Blue Man Group, talk about the power of “Life Force” to enhance creativity — not just inspirational, but seriously actionable.

    I joined a hike with Chase Iron Eyes, a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a lawyer and tribal judge — who spearheaded a crowdfunding campaign to raise $9 million to save sacred sites in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and learned how animals taught us social networking — brilliant, think about it…there was something before Twitter…while we shared the commonalities between the Sioux view of creation and the mystical Jewish Kabbalah — and they are similar — amazing.

    John Forte talked about personal accountability and prison and how to make many inmates productive members of society — and he sang (beautifully) and left us all energized to do and raise our voices.

    And Wade Davis taught us that diversity is what makes the world — not homogeneity.

    I could go on and on — but what really makes it all work is that you sit with them and the other participants who have started companies, produced movies, created social movements, thought great thoughts, shared brilliant ideas and who, bottom line, care and want to do.

    So what’s my point? No one mentioned apps or social networks — and I am serious.

    We are so jaded and skewed in our thinking that true creativity is being stymied and atrophied because we don’t get that digital isn’t everything…

    We need to learn to shut down our devices from time to time — to listen — to interact — to be amazed by life and messy endeavors — not just by codes and algorithms…

    If you really want to see “Big Data,” open your eyes and ears…it’s out there for all of us to tap into — it’s called the Universe and it’s waiting for you. Ask Chase Iron Eyes or the animals who preceded Twitter… Listen:

    “Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.” Maya Angelou

    And there you have it — we all have it — I was lucky enough to get to Powder Mountain to rediscover it — to have its memory revived- but it’s there waiting for any and all to grab it.

    So go a day — unplug — don’t say “app” — forget about monetization — pretend that social networking means listening and talking and listening some more… remember the animals…

    What do you think?

    PS — We are all one….

  • Here's What's Important About the Internet of Things Day 2014
    April 9, 2014 was the Global Internet of Things Day and people and organizations from all over gathered to talk about the next NEW thing.

    More than social media, more than smart phones — and maybe because of social media and smart phones — the Internet of Things can and will radically change our lives.

    Everything from smart toilets that can monitor medical conditions, to your smart refrigerator automatically ordering orange juice when you start running low, to smart forklifts that are radically reconfiguring the manufacturing value chain — the way the world works is about to get really exciting.

    Just the fact that companies like Cisco, IBM, GE, and many more are participating in things like the Global Internet of Things day is huge. The best kept secret right now in business is how much money is actually going in to research and development in this area.

    Why? Because the Internet of Things might literally unlock trillions of dollars in business value over the next few years.

    Here’s a short YouTube video on some presentations from #IoTDay

    Beverly Macy is a thought-leader, author, and educator in emerging technology in business. Email her at beverlymacy@gmail.com.

  • Portable Power Everywhere
    Goal Zero and Suntactics

    Spring has sprung, but this past winter was one of the most extreme in recent memory. In fact, according to weather.com, the United States suffered more than its share of extreme weather and climate events in the past three years. There have been devastating tornadoes (like the one that destroyed large parts of Moore, OK, back in May 2013), Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and a literal parade of deadly tornadoes in 2011.

    Weather.com’s experts admonish us to prepare for more large-scale climate events that will cause extreme property damage, contaminate water supplies and cripple power grids resulting in prolonged power outages.

    Being prepared for an extreme weather or climate event means having a sustainable back-up power supply. Companies like Goal Zero and Suntactics offer a range of solar-charging panels and power solutions for emergency situations, as well as on-the-go power for hikers, hunters, campers and photographers.

    Goal Zero’s smallest kit, the Guide, is able to power or charge small devices, such as phones and tablets. Its 2200mAh battery can be charged via USB or by plugging it into a solar panel, such as Goal Zero’s Nomad 7 Solar Panel, for three to six hours. Or Suntactics’ sCharger-14, which outputs 5V (2800mA), 14 watts via two USB ports and can actually charge two devices simultaneously.

    Goal Zero Guide 10 and sCharger-14

    If you need portable 12V power, check out the Escape 150. It is a 14,000mAh power pack that can be charged by A/C or by plugging it into Goal Zero’s Escape 30 Solar Panel Briefcase for four to eight hours. The Escape 150 will power a laptop or charge a camera, but you can plug almost anything with a standard A/C power cord into it.

    Goal Zero Escape 150

    Just a few months ago, I used Goal Zero’s 26lb, Extreme 350i Power Kit, which features 350Wh, 33Ah of power, during a three-day blackout in a very remote location. It took 12 hours to charge with Goal Zero’s Escape 30 Solar Panel Briefcase and it worked brilliantly! I was able to power my MacBook Air and a satellite phone, as well as a small refrigerator. I now keep this kit in my bottom desk drawer, and I can tell you from personal experience, when you need a solar-chargeable power supply, you are really happy you have one.

    Goal Zero Extreme 350i Power Kit

    Whether you’re without power for an afternoon, a day or a week or you have to travel to a remote location where power is not available, solar-power charging panels could not be simpler to use. You literally just plug them in and the sun does the rest.

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