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Mobile Technology News, April 25, 2014

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

  • eBay Apps Add Passbook Support and Improved Home Page

    eBay has updated their iPhone and iPad apps with several new features that should make your eBay experience even better.  For the iPhone version of the app, you now have an updated Home page which gives you much more information.  You will now be able to see your Watched items, Feed and eBay Deals […]

    The post eBay Apps Add Passbook Support and Improved Home Page appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Apple Improves Mac Pro Ship Times to 3-5 Weeks

    Yesterday the Online Apple Store updated the shipping times on the all powerful Mac Pro down to 3-5 weeks.  The update is a significant drop from the previous 2-3 months that had been reflected until yesterday and could be an indicator that Apple is finally catching up with demand on their flagship […]

    The post Apple Improves Mac Pro Ship Times to 3-5 Weeks appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • RunKeeper Update Brings Personal Goal Dashboard to Your iPhone

    RunKeeper is one of the long standing health & fitness apps in the App Store and the latest update brings more personalised information to you for your goal tracking.  The new Personal Goal Dashboard allows you to create fitness goals and check your progress on all of your Training Plans from one […]

    The post RunKeeper Update Brings Personal Goal Dashboard to Your iPhone appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Netflix Joining Programming Lineup Of 3 U.S. Cable-TV Services
    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix’s Internet video service is about to join the programming lineup of three small cable-TV providers in the U.S., a breakthrough that acknowledges the growing popularity of online entertainment.

    The agreements with Atlantic Broadband, RCN Telecom Services and Grande Communications gives Netflix’s subscription service a channel on the TiVo boxes that the three cable services provide their customers. Netflix will debut on Atlantic and RCN on Monday and then will expand on to Grande’s service by end of next month. Collectively, the three cable-TV services have about 820,000 subscribers scattered through nine states and Washington D.C.

    Although that’s a small fraction of the cable-TV market, the deals represent another milestone for Netflix Inc. as it tries to make its Internet video service more like premium channels such as HBO and Showtime.

    Netflix already had landed spots on the cable-TV boxes of services in England, Denmark and Sweden, but hadn’t been able to make similar inroads in the U.S. until now. The company’s nearly 36 million U.S. subscribers typically have to buy a separate device, such as video game console or a player from Roku or Apple Inc., if they want to stream video on to their TVs. That method usually requires a separate remote and an additional step to flip over to a different TV input to see the picture.

    Now, Netflix will be like any other channel on the cable-TV dial except that it relies on a high-speed Internet connection to deliver its video.

    “We think this signals a new generation of cable-TV service of offerings,” said David Isenberg, Atlantic’s chief marketing and strategy officer. “It’s a watershed moment.”

    He likened what Netflix is doing for Internet video to what HBO did for cable-TV when that service began transmitting through satellites in the early 1970s.

    Netflix has been striving to become more HBO-like since it expanded upon its DVD-by-mail service and began offering Internet streaming seven years ago. In the past two years, the Los Gatos, Calif., company has been featuring more original programming, such as the critically acclaimed “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black,” to persuade more U.S. subscribers to pay $8 per month for its service.

    To help pay for its rising programming costs, Netflix plans to raise its prices by $1 or $2 by July. The higher prices initially will only affect new customers.

    HBO, which is owned by Time Warner Inc., views Netflix as such a competitive threat that it has steadfastly refused to licenses its old TV shows, such as “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” to the Internet video service. Those HBO shows instead will be streamed through a rival Internet video service offered through Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime shipping service as part of deal announced earlier this week.

    “HBO fears Netflix’s growing industry power,” BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield wrote in a Thursday blog post. “We suspect HBO wanted to balance Netflix’s growing media industry hegemony by helping to bolster their largest direct-to-consumer … competitor — Amazon.”

    Unlike their partnerships with HBO and Showtime, the cable-TV providers aren’t offering a Netflix subscription as part of their bundled packages. People will still have to open a Netflix account through the company’s website or mobile application, although Atlantic is trying to make that process easier by offering a way to sign up on the TV screen.

    Netflix is still hoping to be added to the programming lineup of a major cable-TV service. It seems unlikely that Netflix will make its way onto a cable box offered by the biggest service, Comcast Corp any time soon. The relationship between the two companies has grown frosty because Netflix is opposing Comcast’s proposed $45 billion purchase of another major cable-TV service, Time Warner Cable Inc.

    RCN Telecom has 440,00 subscribers in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Leigh Valley, Pa. Atlantic, which is owned by Canada’s Cogeco Cable, has 230,000 subscribers in western Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Miami Beach, Fla. and Aiken, S.C. Grande has 150,000 subscribers in Texas.

  • Tech giants settle hiring court case
    Four of the biggest technology firms – Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe – settle a class action case alleging they conspired to hold down salaries.
  • Tenative jury form for Apple-Samsung patent trial released [U]
    [Update: both sides file arguments against the form] On Wednesday, US District Court Judge Lucy Koh published a draft form that jurors in the second Apple-Samsung patent trial will fill out to assign damages and royalties due — if any — to both Apple and Samsung as warranted by their findings of infringement. Apple is suing Samsung over its alleged copying of five patents, while Samsung is countersuing over claims Apple infringed on two patents the Galaxy S5 maker purchased after the first Apple-Samsung patent trial.



  • Learning the Lessons of the InBloom Failure
    The controversy over how to manage and store sensitive student data reached boiling point this week. InBloom, the non-profit organization backed by a $100M grant from the Gates Foundation, closed its doors over parental concerns about the potential misuse of that data and other privacy and security fears about how students’ information might be used, manipulated or get into the wrong hands.

    Similar to the effort to digitize medical records, there is a compelling argument to create comprehensive electronic records in order to create personalized learning experiences for every student. InBloom was a highly ambitious, though flawed attempt, to move from a rather inefficient, bureaucratic and often paper-bound set of records to an easy-to-use, accessible, cloud-based system that seamlessly moved with the child through her school years, as she changed classes, years, schools and even localities.

    Ideally, inBloom would give an individual teacher a wealth of information about how best to teach, support, encourage and challenge each student in front of him and ensure any special needs of a child were flagged and responded to. And it would provide the basis for a number of coming innovations including the idea of a “flipped” school — where students learn at the own pace via video tutorials at home and do “homework” in groups at school.

    Unfortunately, the creators of the project simply had insufficient regard for privacy issues and had not thought through the public concerns of such a broad sweep of data that was included in the digital records — from social security numbers to the name of Dad’s significant other. It appears that inBloom lost sight of the need to involve parents in the creation and implementation of the project. Iwan Streichenberger, the CEO of inBloom now admits that “we have realized that this concept is still new, and building public acceptance for the solution will require more time and resources than anyone could have anticipated.”

    Perhaps he should add a dose of humility to that list, as well. Technology leaders love to talk about disruption. That kind of attitude built great companies like Microsoft and Apple and then others that came along to disrupt them. Many believe, as do I, that the educational system, which often resembles its 19th century forbears rather than the 21st century world we live in, also needs some creative disruption. The problem is that the “users” are our kids and parents nervous of something new and unfamiliar. And, of course, teachers and district level administrators must also feel ownership of the dramatic changes the “disrupters” have in mind.

    An unfortunate consequence of the inBloom collapse is a rush by some lawmakers to draft well-intentioned, but potentially flawed bills. Already we have seen moves by both California and Maryland to legislate away the ability to truly innovate in this space. The unintended consequences of such laws would mean that our kids would be at a potential disadvantage in getting the kind of specific, personalized education we all want for our children.

    As a parent of a high school student, I highly value the almost daily reports I get from my daughter’s school through Edline that provides us with every assignment, every homework grade and test score, even the slides and videos used in class. The level of information available through these personal, digital records and transcripts is truly amazing and a huge boon to us as parents. I, for one, would not want a digital, online service like Edline to go away.

    Instead, let’s keep our eyes on the prize. We need to keep innovating in the education space or our kids will fall even further behind and not be ready for the demands of a global and digitized world. Let’s use the extraordinary tools that allow for data handling and storage to create highly individualized learning environments for our students. Let’s include parents as well as teachers and the administrators in the discussions about what is necessary and acceptable in terms of what information is kept and what is not. Let’s address the privacy and security issues head on and then build a real sense of trust among parents.

    And let this be the beginning of the effort to create the kind of schools and learning experiences we want for our kids. We can’t let this one, imperfect effort be our only attempt. We can work this out.

  • How to mint your own virtual money
    How easy is to coin your own virtual currency?
  • VIDEO: Did Pixar make Steve Jobs funny?
    Ed Catmull, President of Pixar, explains how Steve Jobs use of humour in presentations was influenced by his time at the animation firm.
  • Big data dividend for small firms?
    Can small firms compete with big business on data analytics?
  • What Your Cell Phone Conversations Inspire
    2014-04-24-phone.png

  • 19-Year-Old With Cancer Offers A Heartbreaking Farewell To All Of His Facebook Fans
    A teen with cancer was not ready to let his fans go without a proper goodbye.

    Stephen Sutton, a 19-year-old from England, has been chronicling his battle with cancer on social media since last January after he found out it his disease is incurable. He has amassed a following of more than 300,000 on his Facebook page, “Stephen’s story,” and almost 150,000 on Twitter. He has also raised more than $3 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust via JustGiving.com.

    But after his lung collapsed on Sunday, Sutton thought the end was near. So, he offered up a “final thumbs up” to those who have supported him.

    “I will continue fighting for as long as I can, and whatever happens next I want you all to know I am currently in a good place mentally and at ease with the situation,” he wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “That’s it from me. But life has been good. Very good.”

    He also gave thanks to all those close to him.

    “Thank you to my mum and the rest of my family for everything,” he said. “Thank you to my friends for being amazing. Thank you to my medical team for the hard work and effort they’ve continually they’ve put towards me. And thank you everyone else for sharing this wonderful journey with me.”

    The post has since garnered more than 140,000 likes. Sutton tweeted about the response:

    Truly humbled by all the support, I am following it as best as I can an it is all hugely appreciated

    — Stephen’s Story (@_StephensStory) April 22, 2014

    Tonight’s show of love and support epitomises how great people can be

    — Stephen’s Story (@_StephensStory) April 22, 2014

    The world is a truly wonderful place

    — Stephen’s Story (@_StephensStory) April 22, 2014

    Sutton took to Facebook on Thursday to inform fans that he is “still here and fighting,” although his recovery was very “unexpected.”

    His goal is to take it day by day.

  • Verizon Blockbuster Data Breach Report Is Bad News for Organizations
    co-authored by Dr. Stephen Bryen, CTO, Ziklag Systems

    2014-04-24-photo29.JPG

    Verizon has published a blockbuster report on Internet “data breaches” which has garnered major headlines because it fingers Eastern Europe (primarily Russia) as a greater source of attacks than those from East Asia, primarily China. Prepared with the cooperation of 50 companies in different parts of the world, the Verizon study classifies “data breaches” into different categories –but the two most important stand out visibly from all the others. These are “point of sale” attacks and “cyber espionage” attacks.

    A point of sale attack is one of the ways, but not the only way, to steal money. Point of sales attacks are most common in the retail industry (think Target), with the largest number in hotels, motels and the food service industry.

    A cyber espionage attack is an attempt to steal valuable proprietary information, defense and government secrets, or significant information on individuals connected with these organizations and industries. The data is rather interesting in that the biggest victims of cyber espionage are manufacturing companies, professional groups and companies (including law firms, accounting and tax related organizations, computer systems design companies and services, and scientific research organizations), and mining companies (most importantly oil and gas industries).

    One of the unfortunate problems with the Verizon Report, is that it has aggregated important categories using broad North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. Trying to understand who was targeted and why is, at best, guesswork.

    A second major difficulty is that the Verizon Report can only provide data on actual reports made by the targets or victims of data breaches. Actually, we do not know how many organizations, both government and private sector, actually report an incident; in fact there is good reason to believe that wherever possible the tendency in both sectors either is not to report an incident, or to minimize the impact on its business or operations. If, for example, a company were to reveal that a critical technology it owns was stolen, its share price would collapse. If a bank reported its central computers have been hit by thieves, people will move their money to a safer locale. If the Defense Department reported that its secret stealth technology was stolen (in fact, it has been, as can seen in Chinese versions of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter), it might face Congressional hearings or even budget reductions. For all these reasons we can be certain that the Verizon Data is missing big chunks of important information. We can also be sure that Congress has been asleep at the wheel.

    A related problem is the linkage between government spying and criminals. There is no spy agency in the world that works in a vacuum. Spy agencies, in and of themselves, are not centers of technology excellence. They are centers for spying, and they buy the technology, know how, and help they need from outside companies and individuals in order to get the job done.

    In some countries it has been often alleged that there is a close tie between criminals and spy organizations. For example, Russian intelligence has been accused of working with the Russian Mafia (for example, see William Jasper’s article, “Organized Crime is Big Business for the KGB” ) and intelligence services in other countries are often linked in some manner to criminals or criminal organizations. Added to this is the problem that once trained as a spy, there is the potential for the same individual to freelance, often to steal money or engage in forms of extortion.

    Spy agencies around the world, including the U.S., also use private companies, organizations and individuals to do things they would rather not be caught doing themselves. This means anything and everything from stealing personal information, leaking to newspapers, to crashing companies, disrupting banking or commerce –even to waging war. So long as spy agencies operate this way, criminality will increase even more. Of course this subject is well outside of the Verizon Report on Data Breaches, but it is more than worth pondering the consequences.

    One highlight of the Verizon Report is how quickly cyber attacks are recognized and dealt with. Here the news is generally bad. For the cases which the Verizon team reviewed, 47% of the intrusions were not discovered “for months” and 68% of them were discovered by outsiders, not by the organization or company. While in most cases the intrusion could be fixed in hours or days, it almost doesn’t matter if everything has already gone out the door.

    Thus, thanks to the Verizon Report we know that that it takes far too long to recognize that a business or organization has suffered a cyber attack. In today’s world, where it is getting easier and easier to exploit organizations through the web, often originating in mobile devices (phone and tablets), the problem of detecting a breach and fixing it is growing worse, instead of improving.

    Unfortunately rather than seeing an improvement in cyber security, the threat continues to increase and, with it, the risk to our economy and to national security.

  • Your Netflix Bill Could Go Up Even More. Blame The Government
    Netflix made clear earlier this week that by the end of June, the streaming company will raise prices by $1 or $2 per month.

    But if new rules proposed by the FCC go into effect, that increase could be just be the beginning.

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated new rules to his fellow commissioners Thursday related to “net neutrality,” or the idea that all web traffic should be treated equally. The rules would allow Internet service providers, like Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable, to charge companies for faster delivery of content to their customers.

    Consumer advocates say that companies like Netflix, among others, may have to pay in order to keep up with the competition and make sure their customers can binge-watch reliably. An official from the FCC said on a call with reporters Thursday that the agency will review these prioritization deals on a case-by-case basis to make sure they’re “commercially reasonable.”

    Netflix isn’t happy about the proposal.

    “The proposed approach is the fastest lane to punish consumers and Internet innovators,” Netflix said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

    The streaming giant has been outspoken in favor of stronger net neutrality rules. Days after the U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the open Internet order in January, which is why the FCC needs come up with the new rules, Netflix executives warned of a “draconian scenario” in which an Internet provider could “legally impede the video streams that members request from Netflix, degrading the experience we jointly provide.”

    “In the long-term, we think Netflix and consumers are best served by strong network neutrality across all networks, including wireless,” Netflix wrote in a letter to shareholders.

    Consumer advocates also warned of higher Netflix prices down the road.

    “If Netflix wants its content to work and to be appealing to customers, more appealing than the content that the cable company or ISP are offering themselves, then they’re going to have to pay,” said Derek Turner, a research director at Free Press, a nonpartisan advocacy group. “And their margins are quite thin, and that means they’re going to have to pass those costs along to their consumers.”

    Netflix, which sends huge amounts of data across networks, relies on fast and reliable connections so its customers can binge-watch “House of Cards” in HD. Netflix is a data hog — at peak times, it accounts for nearly a third of traffic being delivered to homes in the U.S., according to Sandvine, a company that makes broadband network equipment.

    In February, Netflix reluctantly agreed to pay Comcast for direct access to its network. Netflix speeds had been declining on Comcast’s networks for months due to congestion, and the two companies had been in a standoff as to which one should shoulder the costs to upgrade the network.

    A month after Netflix made the deal, Reed Hastings, the company’s co-founder and CEO, said the FCC should establish stronger rules that would extend to this web infrastructure.

    The new rules will not do that, a senior FCC official confirmed Thursday.

  • This Astronaut's Spacewalk Selfie Literally Tops All Others
    Some selfies are better than others. This one, snapped by an astronaut in orbit hundreds of miles above the Earth’s surface, tops them all–literally. And given that the ambient temperature during an orbit ranges from 250 degrees and minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s likely the hottest selfie, too–or the coldest.

    The space selfie was taken by NASA astronaut Steve Swanson on Wednesday during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station (ISS). Fellow astronaut Rick Mastracchio then shared his colleague’s shot on Twitter.

    An EVA selfie. The space suit makes it very difficult to get a good selfie. I tried several today. pic.twitter.com/GvMEOj3ewu

    — Rick Mastracchio (@AstroRM) April 23, 2014

    And while there have been several space selfies taken aboard the ISS, two weeks ago, Swanson (also known as “Swanny”) took the crown for the first Instagram photo shared directly from the station.

    In November 2013, Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide snapped a selfie against a backdrop of empty space (see below). Many called the pic, which featured Earth and the ISS reflected in his visor, the best selfie ever.

    pic.twitter.com/g9bLaiu3k6— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) November 17, 2013

    Take that, Bieber.

  • Women Play Video Games. Can We Cut The Sexist Crap Now?
    You really shouldn’t need any more proof that women are a huge part of the video games industry, but we’re going to give you some anyway.

    According to the Entertainment Software Association’s annual “Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry” report, women enjoy gaming as much as men, with 48 percent of gamers identifying as female and 52 percent identifying as male.

    gender gap

    The age and gender breakdown of gamers in this year’s report on the computer and video game industry.

    The gap between male and female gamers has shrunk since last year’s report, which said 45 percent of gamers were female and 55 percent were male. Even greater is the difference between 2014 and 2008, when men outnumbered women 62 percent to 38 percent.

    The 2014 report also found that female gamers 18 and older significantly outnumber the archetypal teenage boy gamer.

    The ESA says its annual gathering of facts and figures is the most targeted of it’s kind. The group pulls data from more than 2,200 nationally representative households, interviewing the heads of households and the most frequent gamers in the households.

    The gaming industry has earned itself quite a reputation for sexism. Many female gaming reporters and game developers have spoken out about the harassment, threats and mistreatment they’ve faced just for being women who care about games. And that’s saying nothing of the countless female gamers who mute their microphones or hide their gender to avoid harassment while playing games online.

    But the increase in attention has led to more conversations about women in the gaming-related workplace, as well as in the games themselves.

    On April 23, an opinion piece by gaming news site Polygon’s Jonathan McIntosh attempted to explain the subtle, everyday sexism facing female gamers. “I can be sure that my gaming performance (good or bad) won’t be attributed to or reflect on my gender as a whole,” he wrote of being a male gamer, continuing, “I can walk into any gaming store and see images of my gender widely represented as powerful heroes, villains and non-playable characters alike.”

    One hopes the ever-increasing numbers of female gamers will help this industry reform. Perhaps gaming newsrooms or development studios will soon become more female-friendly places of employment, and more games will be designed that feature a strong, central female character.

    The ESA’s report concludes that consumers spend $21.53 billion on the gaming industry. Imagine how much more profitable it could be if it started treating half its audience equally!

  • Russia's Bloggers To Face Stifling Restrictions Under New Law
    Russia’s parliament approved measures to tighten control over bloggers, drawing accusations that lawmakers are stifling a final bastion of free speech in the country.

    On Tuesday, the Russian lower house passed a bill that requires all blogs with more than 3,000 daily visitors to register with Roskomnadzor, the state’s agency for media oversight, semi-state-owned network RT reported.

    The new restrictions were approved as an amendment to an anti-terror bill and will obligate bloggers with a significant following to sign posts with their real name. Blogs will face restrictions similar to those applying to mass media outlets, including bans on extremism, pornography, electoral propaganda, and even “obscene language.”

    The measures will take effect in August and will also apply to social network sites and personal websites.

    The bill effectively bans anonymous blogging on popular sites. In addition, bloggers will be held responsible for verifying the accuracy of all information posted on their sites, including comments posted by others, according to Reporters Without Borders. Blogging services and social networks will also be required to keep user data for six months, raising fears that authorities will use this information to track down internet users.

    Russia’s new bill has come under intense scrutiny, both in and outside the country.

    International human rights organization Human Rights Watch called the legislation “another milestone in Russia’s relentless crackdown on free expression.”

    Reporters Without Borders warned that the bill is likely to reduce the space for free debate in Russia even further. “Like previous reforms, this bill’s sole aim is to increase control over online content,” RWB said.

    Internet advocates described the amendment as a recipe for self-censorship, as bloggers do not have the same resources as media organizations to monitor content, fact-check claims and fight costly legal battles.

    Within Russia, bloggers have reacted furiously. Bloomberg reported that popular opposition blogger Andrei Malgin has warned that the law’s goal is “to kill off the political blogosphere by the fall.” Members of a human rights council set up to advise the president have equally criticized the bill, calling it heavy-handed and counterproductive, according to ITAR-TASS.

    Amid the government’s increasing clampdown on the press, blogging is refuge for lively and critical debate in Russia. Blogs such as the one kept by Putin-foe Alexei Navalny have gathered a massive following, providing activists with a large platform to formulate dissent.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that in recent months, however, the Kremlin has intensified its attacks on dissident voices, bringing down media chiefs and blocking independent news sites. In January, Russia passed a law allowing online publications to be banned if they call for “unsanctioned” protests, a measure that forced the closure of Navalny’s website.

  • Amazon profits thin as expenses jump
    Internet retailer Amazon reports a 32% jump in profit to $108m in the first quarter, but investors worry over increasing expenses.
  • Microsoft earnings beat estimates
    Microsoft earnings decline to $5.66bn, but beat market estimates as new chief executive Satya Nadella’s push into cloud computing pays off.
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