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Mobile Technology News, April 26, 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.

  • Review of Racing Elements – A Beautiful Racing Themed Weather App

    In the world of F1 photography – as with drivers and teams – there are big names. It could be argued that none are bigger than the surname Cahier.  Paul-Henri Cahier and his father Bernard have captured 60 years of F1 moments and personalities and both are legends in the field.  Now you can enjoy […]

    The post Review of Racing Elements – A Beautiful Racing Themed Weather App appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Apple vs. Samsung, day 11: a twist in the tale
    What had started off with all parties thinking it was the final day of testimony turned into a protracted and difficult legal exercise, as US District Court Judge Lucy Koh and attorneys for both sides wrestled with the surprise ruling from the Federal Court of Appeals, which resurrected a previously-dismissed lawsuit between Apple and Motorola that involves one of the patents being fought over in the Apple-Samsung trial.

  • Higher court throws monkey wrench into Apple-Samsung trial
    A ruling in a completely different Federal court regarding one of Apple’s patents at issue in the current Apple-Samsung patent trial will require extra testimony from experts on Monday, after both sides rested their evidence cases on Friday. Apple’s “data detector” patent, and specifically the portion of it that deals with a “server analyzer” to interpret user actions, was reinstated in a different case against Motorola, resulting in a different interpretation of what that means, which will need to be explained to the jury.

  • Apple unveils iPhone 5 sleep/wake button fix program
    Apple has initiated a repair program for a subset of its iPhone 5 devices that may have issues with the sleep/wake button on the top of the unit. The company says “a small percentage” of the units, which were manufactured between the debut of the smartphone on September 21, 2012 and March of 2013, are prone to have the issue (not caused by abuse or other factors). If a buyer’s iPhone 5 has a qualifying serial number, Apple will fix the unit and supply a loaner iPhone while it is being repaired.

  • Boston Marathon Bib Theft On The Rise Due To Social Media
    BOSTON (AP) — A man in a white tank top with a big red heart on the front. Another wearing all blue. A woman with clothing from a St. Louis running store and one who printed “Lauren” on her shirt.

    They all had one thing in common, though: Boston Marathon bib No. 14285. Kara Bonneau logged onto the race’s official photo site this week and saw pictures of four other people who ran Monday’s race in copies of the bib she earned — and paid for. She posted those pictures on Instagram and asked for help in identifying the unofficial runners, known as bandits.

    Now the Boston Athletic Association is investigating and the tight-knit running community is asking whether social media are giving new legs to a tradition that is almost as old as the race itself. With runners bragging about their bibs on Instagram, anyone with a computer can find a bib and print a copy, making banditry even easier at the same time that security threats make it more of a concern.

    “The BAA does take these matters seriously,” executive director Tom Grilk said Friday while stressing that the bandits went through the same security checkpoints as the official runners.

    “The adjudication committee will decide what action will be taken,” he said, “with full consideration to the impact of cheating on those who have worked so hard to qualify and those who give so much of themselves to raise money for our outstanding local charities.”

    There is a long and even proud tradition of bandits in the Boston Marathon, with Roberta Gibb running unofficially in 1966 to shatter the ban keeping women from the race. But while adding a few hundred unofficial runners in the race’s infancy might have been a minor inconvenience, the growth of the event — and the security needs after last year’s bombings — have made banditry a bigger problem.

    With the official field expanded to 36,000 this year to include the thousands stopped along the course when the bombs went off at the finish line and thousands more who wanted to run in support, BAA and public safety officials told bandits to stay away.

    “Fluids, medical care, and traffic safety, are provided based on the number of official entrants,” organizers said on their website. “Any addition to this by way of unofficial participants, adversely affects our ability to ensure a safe race for everyone.”

    But there’s another problem with bandits, and it’s the one that makes serious runners chafe like cotton shorts on a cold day: Because Boston requires most runners to meet a qualifying standard, showing up on race day is only part of the feat.

    To those who qualified, bib bandits are a sort of modern-day Rosie Ruiz taking a shortcut to the finish line.

    “There’s two parts of that marathon: There’s qualifying to get there, and then there’s running it. Anyone can go the 26.2 miles,” said Michael Sullivan, who found another man wearing his bib No. 10055 in the race photos. “Anybody who has strived to run it, or strived to get there, or is a runner who understands how difficult it really is.”

    Those outed for running with false bibs say they didn’t mean any offense. After Boston TV station WCVB ran a story on Chelsa Crowley’s banditry — she ran with her Twitter handle on her shirt — her husband, FourSquare founder Dennis Crowley, posted an apology on the station’s web site.

    “Yes, using a duplicate number to get Chelsa into the starting corral with me was wrong,” he wrote, explaining that they were separated near the finish line last year because of the explosions. “Our intent was never to ‘steal’ anything from anyone — our intent was to finish the Boston Marathon together as we tried to do last year.”

    The BAA said it will spend the next two weeks looking at the results before declaring them official. Those who were found to run with duplicate bibs can be banned from future Boston Marathons and other BAA events.

    Sullivan said he simply wants them to be exposed: “Their family and friends need to know they cheated,” he said.

    It was one thing when runners would merely join the race to see what it would feel like to be part of the Patriots’ Day event. But using a fake bib and getting all the amenities available to the registered runners — including the finisher’s medal — is what “ticks me off,” Sullivan said.

    “In my little community, we don’t even wear the race shirts they give us for just registering until after we finish,” he said. “It’s not a life and death thing. . It doesn’t take way from my awesome experience in Boston.

    “People who are not runners, they don’t really have that sense of how hard it really is,” Sullivan said. “They say, ‘What’s the big deal?’ I’m on the side of the fence that says, ‘Just do the hard work to get there.'”

  • VIDEO: The flying robotic pop band
    A team of US robotics experts has programmed a squadron of drones to play live music.
  • Comcast Just Accused Netflix Of Screwing Its Users To Make A Point
    The war between Netflix and Comcast is entering surreal territory, with both companies accusing the other of conspiring against them.

    In a blog post published Thursday by Jennifer Khoury, a Senior Vice President of Corporate and Digital Communication at Comcast, the company claimed that Netflix had purposefully slowed its customers’ streaming speed and signal strength in the past in what Comcast believes was an attempt to smear the Internet service provider’s name.

    The post is the latest in a war of words between Netflix and Comcast, which escalated on Monday after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings expressed his disapproval of a proposed Time Warner Cable and Comcast merger in a letter to shareholders. If approved, Hastings wrote, the combined companies would hold “even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers.”

    Earlier this year, Comcast customers complained of a drop in the buffering speed and visual quality of their Netflix streams. Some complained that the service had essentially become unusable. Netflix eventually paid Comcast for stronger connections and better service for its customers in February.

    But according to Khoury, Netflix, not Comcast, was to blame for the traffic jam. Khoury even claimed the service sabotaged customer streaming in order to make it look like Comcast was at fault.

    “As at least one independent commentator has pointed out, it was not Comcast that was creating viewability issues for Netflix customers, it was Netflix’s commercial transit decisions that created these issues,” Khoury writes.

    The “independent commenter” that Comcast referenced is industry analyst Dan Rayburn. In a March blog post, Rayburn claimed Netflix had sent web traffic to Cogent — a broadband provider that served as an intermediary between Comcast and Netflix — despite Cogent not having the ability to handle Netflix’s traffic.

    In Rayburn’s eyes, the decision was meant to make Internet service providers look bad.

    Just before that, Hastings wrote a strongly worded blog post slamming Internet service providers, including Comcast, for what he believed to be discriminatory practices against Netflix and its subscribers in the wake of a still-evolving controversy over the future of net neutrality.

    “Some big [Internet service providers] are extracting a toll because they can,” Hastings wrote. “They effectively control access to millions of consumers and are willing to sacrifice the interests of their own customers to press Netflix and others to pay.”

    If Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal report on the FCC’s plans for a new net neutrality platform proves true, in which content providers may have to pay Internet service providers for faster access, then the battle between Netflix and Comcast is set up to only grow more contentious. As of now, it’s not exactly clear who’s telling the truth.

  • Don't Do It, Sad Clown; You Can Still Get A Job!
    Think the sad clown trope has been overdone? You might think again when you watch this twisted video which, at first glance, appears to be an ad for a job-seeking website.

    In the video (below), the out-of-work alkie mirth-maker is about as obsolete as his message machine. So he tries something drastic — and it isn’t a seltzer in the face.

    The spot conveys the message that you might want to put desperate moves on hold until you’ve tried Jobbuilder.co.uk. Sadly, the employment site doesn’t exist, AdWeek pointed out. The link leads instead to a portfolio for a filmmaker who goes by the name Crobin.

    And we thought there was hope for sad clowns everywhere.

  • Briefly: eBay iOS app update, Sell on Etsy app release
    Today eBay announced updated apps for iPhone and iPad, adding improvements to its buying and selling features. Allowing eBay users to access the online marketplace to buy or sell items, v3.3 for iPhone and iPad features increased app speeds, and for iPad only, a new in-store pick-up option for local purchases is included. New Passbook support that enables quick access to key information like store location, directions, hours and order number. For iPhone, the app now includes a personalized feed preview, displaying items based on a user’s interests. Additionally, re-listing and pricing items ha
  • Netflix Strikes MSO Deal For Own Channel
    Looking more like a regular TV network, Netflix has struck deals with a number of small multiple system operators and TiVo which will give the subscription video on demand service its own cable TV “channel.”
  • Isabella Huffington Shares Her Family's Phones-At-Meals Philosophy
    The Huffingtons have a rule: No phones at family meals.

    Isabella Huffington, Arianna’s daughter, said it happened when at one meal, her father, sister and mother were all on their phones — and it caused her to break down.

    “I just started weeping because I was just so frustrated,” she said at Thrive, The Huffington Post’s second Third Metric conference on redefining success beyond the two metrics of money and power. “I just kept trying to get their attention and no one was talking to me … and that’s when they realized, we’re all together and we’re all on our phones right now. … After that, we had a no phones at meals rule.”

    Watch the clip above for more on Isabella’s philosophy on tech use.

  • Justin Bieber's Instagram Photos Searched In Vandalism Case
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Surveillance footage from Justin Bieber’s home appears to show the pop star high-fiving friends and celebrating after throwing eggs at a neighbor’s home in January, an investigator’s affidavit released Friday shows.

    The description of Bieber’s reaction to the incident that authorities say caused thousands of dollars in damage to the neighbor’s home is included in documents filed to support a search warrant obtained in March. A Los Angeles County sheriff’s detective obtained the warrant for Bieber’s account with the online photo-sharing site Instagram, searching for evidence to match his outfit with the surveillance footage. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to charge Bieber in the egg-throwing incident, which happened Jan. 9 at the singer’s home in a gated community in Calabasas.

    Detectives have said the amount of damage to the neighbor’s home warrants a felony prosecution of Bieber, which if filed would be the most serious case the troubled pop star has faced. He has been charged with assault in Toronto, and he faces a trial in July on a charge of driving under the influence in Miami.

    A man matching Bieber’s description is seen on footage running toward the neighbor’ house and returning to a group of friends and exchanging high-fives a short time later.

    “Suspect Bieber and the other males appeared to be laughing and celebrating,” the affidavit signed by Sheriff’s detective Ginni Alvarez states.

    Alvarez participated in a search of Bieber’s home on Jan. 14 in which surveillance footage was retrieved. Two months later, the investigator obtained the search warrant for Bieber’s Instagram account, looking for images of the singer in a white sweatshirt and baseball cap that would match surveillance video shot before and after the egg-throwing incident. The warrant does not state whether any footage of Bieber actually throwing eggs at his neighbor’s home was retrieved.

    Bieber’s attorney Howard Weitzman declined comment.

    The warrant was first reported by Los Angeles Fox affiliate KTTV on Thursday night.

    Bieber, 20, was delayed at Los Angeles International Airport by authorities on Thursday after returning from an international trip. His publicist Melissa Victor confirmed the singer was subjected to “secondary questioning” by customs officials but was released without incident.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jaime Ruiz said he could not comment on a specific passenger’s interactions with agents when entering the country unless the person was charged with a crime.

    Bieber frequently posts photos in Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and allows users to post images from their mobile phones. Law enforcement agencies now routinely search suspects’ social networking accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter searching for evidence of wrongdoing. If postings are going to be used as evidence in a case, a search warrant is frequently obtained to gather information directly from social networking companies.

    Earlier this week, Bieber apologized for offending people after posting two images from the Yasukuni Shrine in Central Tokyo that commemorates 2.5 million war dead, including Japan’s 14 convicted war criminals. The site is seen as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism and has been criticized by the nation’s neighbors, who were subjected to atrocities by Japan’s military in the 1930s and 1940s.

    Bieber removed photos he posted from the shrine.

    Bieber gained stardom with his debut album at age 15, but he has had a string of recent legal troubles. He’s scheduled to go on trial in Miami in July on charges of driving under the influence and resisting arrest and the Toronto assault case is also pending.


    Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

  • Google's Glass Explorer Program Was A Social Experiment That Backfired
    Google Glass was introduced without a clear explanation of what it was supposed to be used for. When promotional videos started to show people going about their daily routine, it quickly became clear that what we were being sold wasn’t a gadget, it was a lifestyle. The actual product was the intoxicating prospect of instant access to information. Glass offered to be much more than a device, it was a ticket into an exclusive club that promised special abilities.

    In a much celebrated launch, Google allowed early adopters to shell out $1,500 get a prototype version of Glass and be part of its “Explorer Program.” But this wasn’t so much a product rollout as it was a social experiment. Through this strategy, Google was able to get thousands of people to challenge society’s conventions on privacy and connectedness without having to address it directly.

    Over a year later, Glass has yet to gain mainstream acceptance. Society remains largely unmoved. Instead, in some places, it has become a divisive and controversial technology. It appears the experiment has backfired – but Google likely knew this would happen, it’s a risk they took.

    The hype is fading, the wheels on the bandwagon are starting to come off, yet Glass is far from gone. In part, because it is actually quite a useful and promising technology. Augmented reality and wearables could provide significant benefits to our lives in certain situations. What’s strange is Google chose not to focus on this; instead of showing the many ways Glass can enrich the work of doctors, fire fighters, or extreme athletes, the company chose to let the technology loose into the world to see what happened.

    Speaking to Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici, the executive in charge of marketing for Glass admitted that the company deliberately decided to roll the product out in this way. He explained, “I see it as quite a necessary symptom of a company that’s trying to be disruptive.” Yet he sees Glass’s greatest weakness as its lack of availability – giving inadequate attention to the most important issues and suspicions that Glass creates, whether warranted or not. That’s a problem for all of us, not just for Google’s bottom line.

    Since the initial announcement, its legions of techno-optimist supporters have contradicted themselves about the promise and perils of the device. On one hand, they’ve preached that Glass is transformative because it’s not like a smartphone, it allows for many new possibilities. But when it comes to discussing the social implications, they then argue that the technologies aren’t that different.

    Technology enthusiast Robert Scoble believes that the ingredient Google is missing is “empathy.” In a broader sense, when someone looks at you with Glass it is the equivalent of having a smartphone pointed at you. Even though the devices aren’t always recording, there are different conventions to taking a photo compared to talking on the phone. It’s not techno-phobic to prefer not to be recorded when speaking with friends – it’s natural.

    There doesn’t seem to be widespread opposition to wearable technology, you don’t hear about people being harassed for wearing a FitBit. Something about Glass is different. When you wear Glass you are challenging the social values of the people around you on behalf of the world’s most powerful corporation.

    Whether this version of Glass is a commercial success remains to be seen, but a whole host of competitors are working on their own glass devices. Over time, the design problems will be worked out, it’s likely that “smart” glasses will be indistinguishable from regular ones. If we are to get to a point where people can feel comfortable wearing the technology, and have the people around them feel unperturbed as well, there are two underlying issues that must be addressed.

    The first is the fading allure of a completely connected lifestyle. A decade of smartphone usage is starting to wear us down; Glass represents our worst fears about never being able to unplug. Established technology companies seem especially unprepared to handle these changing sentiments. To the vast majority of people, the argument that Glass gets technology out of the way by putting it directly on your face is not convincing. There are legitimate concerns that it can amplify the disconnect and power imbalance between people.

    The second is that we need to rethink the notion that we should have no expectation of privacy in public. This was once a common sense observation used to protect the work of journalists; what it has become is something entirely different. This idea wasn’t built for a time of ubiquitous sensors, smart cameras, and analytics. It was never meant to be used as a blanket justification for private companies to track, measure, and catalog your every move outside of the home. It’s becoming an anti-social tool used by corporations to gather your personal information – and we should reconsider how far we are willing to let it go.

    A world where everyone is wearing Glass requires us to have different priorities than the one of today. Nobody wants a world where they feel uncomfortable speaking in public or they are discriminated against for what they choose to wear. Google’s strategy has shown that we are not ready to have this thrown at us, but we could gradually get there one day. We haven’t seen the last of Glass – and it surely hasn’t seen the last of us.

    Follow @twadhwa

    This article originally appeared on Forbes – Disruption and Democracy. Check out my upcoming book, Identified: How They Are Getting To Know Everything About Us

  • Forums: transfer movies from iPhone to iPad
    Today in the MacNN forums Junior Member “phkc070408” was looking for a way to transfer movies from an iPhone to an iPad and attempted to use AirDrop, but discovered that would not work and has yet to find a suitable solution. One Mac Elite was wondering why a message would pop up over videos saying “Flash wants to store info on the computer” and they are unable to get it to go away.

  • Virtual Reality Lets Dying Woman 'Walk' Outside Again
    Sometimes a simple walk outside can mean so much. Even if it’s not quite the real thing.

    Last December, Roberta Firstenberg died of cancer at the age of 76. Before the throat tumor formed, her granddaughter Priscilla said that Roberta loved to travel and garden. She baked cookies. She was known for her delicious banana bread.

    But cancer ultimately robbed Roberta of her ability to travel or ride in a car without great pain. Even the vibrations from being pushed in a wheelchair proved too much. That’s when Priscilla, a 29-year-old video game artist, reached out to Oculus Rift’s customer support center. She asked for one of the startup’s popular virtual reality headsets that would allow her grandmother to “walk” outside again.

    And the result can be seen in the video below, which was taken just a month before Roberta died.

    “The Oculus Rift gave her options and gave her an experience that made her feel like she could walk again, without people having to hold her,” Priscilla wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “She got to go up stairs on her own. She got to do a great number of things we couldn’t give her.”

    Since the video was posted in November and picked up interest again this week, Priscilla said the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Commentators with immobile loved ones said they wanted a headset of their own.

    Priscilla admitted that she doesn’t watch the video now, preferring instead to remember the happier moments before her grandmother became ill.

    “I can hear the difference in her voice, as it was getting tired from being used too much towards the end of her response,” Priscilla wrote, while also remarking how difficult it was to hear the sound of her sick dog in the background, the same dog she said she buried under her grandmother’s cherry blossom tree just a few days after filming. “The video has been described as ‘beautiful and sad’ by many. But because events are still fresh with me, it’s a marker of the most struggling time of my life.”

    Most recently, Oculus Rift has been best known for its $2 billion buyout by Facebook, which imagines using the technology for non-gaming purposes like virtual classrooms and doctor visits. But Priscilla insists that her video wasn’t a PR stunt for the headset.

    “It’s about using something that was thought of as just a video game, a toy,” Priscilla wrote, “and turning it into something more important than anyone could ever really understand.”

  • This Robotic Golf Caddy Follows You Around Like A Baby Duckling
    Looking for the perfect accessory to match your hovercraft golf cart?

    Look no further than Stewart Golf’s X9 Follow, a robotic golf caddy that follows you around the green like a baby duckling.

    The caddy, set to retail in June for just north of $2,500, uses a Bluetooth remote to sense a golfer’s location and walking pace, then adjusts its own speed to obediently tag along at the player’s heels.

    Here’s a more technical description, from the Stewart Golf website:

    In addition to the bluetooth electronics system, there are two further antennas that power the X9 Follow.

    Mounted on each of the rear motors, the two antennas work together to create two zones; a neutral zone and an active zone. When the handset is inside the neutral zone, the X9 Follow will remain stationary. As the handset enters the active zone, the X9 Follow’s electronics system will automatically & independently alter the speed of each rear motor to keep its pace. When the golfer (and therefore the handset) come to a stop, the X9 Follow will continue until the handset is back inside the neutral zone when it will also stop.

    And when you finish playing golf, you can always dress it up like R2-D2 — just don’t take it through any sinkholes.

  • Google+ Isn't Dead. It's Just In A Coma And On Life Support
    Google has not, and probably will never, announce that Google+ will be “sunsetted” (the company’s favorite euphemism for killed off). But the Internet giant might as well have this week when the guy who has been running Google+ since day one said he’s leaving.

    On Thursday, Vic Gundotra announced that he’d be moving on from Google after eight years with the company. “[I’m] forever in debt to the Google+ team,” he wrote in a farewell note on Google+. “This is a group of people who built social at Google against the skepticism of so many.”

    “There are few people with the courage and ability to start something like that and I am very grateful for all your hard work and passion,” CEO Larry Page followed up in his own message on Gundotra’s efforts with Google+. He added that the company will continue to invest in growing Google+.

    But beyond pleasantries, evidence is piling up outside Mountain View that while Google+ isn’t going to die, the idea that it will ever be a peer to Facebook (or even to Twitter and Instagram) is dead. Dust off your Google+ page and you’ll see there’s a small but passionate contingent of people using the social network, which appeals to them with some buttons and doodads (especially for photos) that Facebook just doesn’t have.

    But following Gundotra’s departure, TechCrunch has a report that reveals two other potential death blows dealt to Google+, which seem to suggest that Google will stop trying to make the social network happen.

    First, the employees who built the core of Google+ will be reassigned to different teams. The Google Hangouts engineers will go to Android, and many of the rest will likely be assigned to mobile efforts, according to TechCrunch. It’s hard to imagine Google+ ever rivaling Facebook with that many fewer people working on and thinking about Google+ daily.

    Second, everyone’s least favorite part of Google+ — the requirement that your Google+ profile be integrated into all other things Google — will reportedly be scaled back. The policy was a necessary evil of making Google+ work, quietly nudging people to “join” the social network all while annoying the hell out of them, most notably by requiring a Google+ account to comment on YouTube. It allowed Google+ to juice its user numbers and announce a bewildering 58 percent jump in active users over five months. But forcing people to join is no way to build a social network that people will voluntarily use.

    For its part, Google is denying Google+’s death. “Today’s announcement has no impact on our Google+ strategy — we have an incredibly talented team that will continue to build great user experiences across Google+, Hangouts and Photos,” a spokesperson told HuffPost. Google+ employees publicly pushed back against the article, too. “Let me simply say that this entire TechCrunch article is bollocks,” Google+ chief architect Yonatan Zunger wrote on Google+.

    Theres’s nothing wrong with a deep-pocketed tech company throwing products and services up against the wall to see what sticks. But that strategy, which is also deployed by Facebook, Twitter and Amazon with success, only works when companies are willing to cut their losses and kill products that need to be killed.

    Google+ was different. It was conceived as a so-called “social layer” (Google’s words) to all other things Google, rather than a standalone project that could just be shuttered. Google actually is good at trimming the fat, like it did with Google Reader, Google Buzz or other products that the company realized over the years weren’t popular. But ironically, Google has dropped several projects recently to protect Google+.

    The Google+ profile you haven’t looked at in months isn’t going away anytime soon. The difference is that Google is going to start paying a lot less attention to it, too.

  • Apple vs Samsung: The Battle for the Green Halo
    By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues


    Yesterday, I was invited to join the live BBC World Service show, Business Matters to discuss Apple’s green manifesto and its rivalry with Samsung. I was interviewed by the BBC’s talented Manuela Saragosa. Here’s a transcript of the highlights. Listen to the full interview here (our discussion starts at 26:00).

    Saragosa: It was Earth Day on Tuesday… there’s been no dimming of the lights here at the BBC…but technology giant, Apple has been laying out its green manifesto to mark Earth Day. The company’s CEO Tim Cook put out a video, announcing a new scheme that allows any product made by Apple to be returned to the company for recycling.

    Our guest, Alison van Diggelen is in California’s Silicon Valley. Alison, green business issues are your thing, what do you make of Apple’s manifesto? Is there substance to it do you think?

    van Diggelen: I think there is substance to it. The reason they put out this video is: Greenpeace has been snapping at Apple’s heels for quite some time. I did a story a couple of years ago (for NPR’s KQED Radio) when they were looking at data centers. Greenpeace came up with their own quasi Apple ad (cunningly called iCoal, see below), showing that every time you download something or send a photo on your iPhone, you’re putting more smog into the atmosphere. It was very clever and got Apple’s attention, and now they’re really moving ahead (According to a recent EPA report – Apple is now in the top 10 clean energy users nationally and uses 92% clean energy). One of their major data centers (in North Carolina) where they do Apple iCloud, has 100% green power: clean energy, using solar and fuel cells.

    In the video, they’re doing a little chest thumping, saying “Look at us – here’s what we’re doing!” And of course, launching it on the week of Earth Day was a very clever move, a strategic move…

    I do think Apple deserves to be lauded. It could do more, but I think shining a light on what it’s doing so far is good.

    Saragosa: But it’s come a hugely long way. I know that in 2006, Greenpeace published its first guide to green electronics and at that point it rated Apple among the worst companies (it ranked 11 out of 14 companies). I suppose things have changed quite a lot since then.

    van Diggelen: Yes. I think Greenpeace deserves credit for doing what it can to put the pressure on. This report it released went through all the major tech companies: Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter (Amazon), saying: “Here’s what they’re doing folks!” Companies that you think of as pretty green and green advocates like Google, they’re not doing enough. They could do more.

    The interesting thing with Tim Cook that your listeners will definitely be interested in is that at a recent shareholders’ meeting, someone stood up and said: “We don’t like what you’re doing with all those clean energy data centers. Couldn’t you be using your funds to make better products…do other things?”

    Saragosa: But is that a widely held view?

    van Diggelen: This is the interesting thing: Tim Cook struck back at them. He said: “We believe that we must make the world a better place.” He stood up and said this to the shareholders…”If you don’t agree with it, sell your shares!” Which was quite gutsy of him I thought. Since then Richard Branson (CEO Virgin Atlantic etc) has said the same (He recently wrote, “Businesses should never be entirely focused on the bottom line…I would urge climate deniers to get out of our way!”) So I think it’s great to see high profile CEO’s like Tim Cook and Richard Branson are doing that, and saying: Hey! We need to think about the environment, we need to think about our impact on the environment. I’m cheered by that.

    Listen to more of our discussion re Apple vs Samsung battle, copycats, tech recycling, green building and one innovative way China is dealing with its killer pollution.

    Read more about Apple’s green manifesto at Fresh Dialogues and about Google’s Green Dream at Fresh Dialogues

  • The Top Pros and Cons of Life in the Twitterverse
    One of the best things about Twitter — indeed, perhaps its greatest appeal — is in its accessibility. It’s easy to use both for sharing information and for collecting it. Twitter provides unprecedented access to our lawmakers and to our celebrities, as well as to news as it’s happening. A recent study out of MIT even suggests that analyzing crowd statements on Twitter may allow researchers to predict the future, citing as one example early tweets associated with the 2013 coup d’état in Egypt.

    But Twitter — and all that accessible information — has some undeniable downsides, too.

    I hate Twitter because:

    Self-esteem may suffer.

    An obsession with everyone’s online goings-on, to the point where you neglect what’s happening in your own life right in front of you, can fuel feelings of isolation and self-doubt. Though no studies have looked specifically at the effect of Twitter, a 2012 study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking found that the longer people spent on Facebook each week, the more they agreed that everyone else was happier, cooler, and generally better off than they were.

    It saps productivity.

    Some researchers believe that the combined effort of keeping up with Twitter — taking the time to craft a post, responding to others, and mining the feed for news you’re interested in — saps productivity. (Similar studies have revealed that Facebook makes you fat.) And, of course, all that evidence of how much time you spend on Twitter could give employers reason to worry that the habit is getting in the way of your actual work.

    Everyone’s watching!

    Misuse of Twitter can be a recipe for career trouble, since employers also use it to screen out employees. The careerbuilder.com survey found that many employers reject potential employees whose Twitter profiles include provocative photos, evidence of drug use or drinking, negative posts about previous employers or co-workers, or comments that might be interpreted as racist, sexist, or ageist. Who could forget 2013’s Justine Sacco scandal, in which the PR exec’s last minute tweet before boarding a 12-hour flight got her fired before her plane had even landed: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

    It can be tempting to trash talk.

    Twitter makes it easy to bash others, which generally has the opposite of its intended effect: Harsh words about others may make them look bad, but make you look worse. Case in point: Miami Dolphins footballer Richie Incognito went on a Twitter tirade against former teammate Jonathan Martin at a time when he was attempting to improve his public perception. Expressing his frustrations so publicly only seemed to make things worse. Days after his rant, Incognito went off Twitter. Similarly, Charlie Sheen’s Twitter-bashing of Ashton Kutcher’s performance on Two and a Half Men has only brought more attention to Kutcher — and kept Sheen seem stuck in the past.

    I love Twitter because:

    It’s an easy way to share ideas and access the news.

    A recent poll by the Associated Press and CNBC found that 44 percent of Twitter users turn to Twitter for breaking news at least some of the time, and 16 percent turn to it “frequently.” So much for the newspaper — or news longer than 140 characters for that matter.

    It’s great for self-promotion.

    Twitter can be an excellent way for those searching for work to market themselves, since so many companies use social media for recruiting purposes, seeking out potential employees who share their philosophy or have good ideas. The recent survey by careerbuilder.com cited earlier found that nearly half of all employers use social networking sites to research job candidates.

    Great for self-promotion… but better for promoting others.

    While Twitter is a good place to promote your own business or brand, too much self-promotion can turn followers off, which is why it’s a good idea to work in a healthy amount of promotion and praise for others. Spreading good news about others will benefit you anyway: Chances are that if you tweet good news about others, they’ll do the same for you in return.

    It may be used to predict the future (sort of).

    Some researchers believe that Twitter can be useful for predicting certain outcomes — elections, box office sales, political protests — as well as human behavior. Though there are many variables — how to know if a post is genuine, for example — there is reason to believe that paying attention to what people are saying and how they’re feeling can be useful. And Twitter certainly provides more access to that than ever before.

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