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Mobile Technology News, June 30, 2014

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

  • Apple’s New TV Ad Highlights Parenthood & iPhones

    Apple has released another new television advertisement today, highlighting the pleasures and challenges of parenthood which can be helped the iPhone.  It is a quick 1 minute ad but it is packed with features of the iPhone itself along with apps that can help parents in their day-to-day… or day-int0-night. The ad highlights really every […]

    The post Apple’s New TV Ad Highlights Parenthood & iPhones appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Aperture & iPhoto for OS X Users – What You Need to Know

    As many of you have read by now, Apple announced to 9to5Mac this weekend that they are ending development on Aperture, their professional photo management and editing app, as well as their more consumer oriented iPhoto.  The move comes in the wake of the announcements around OS X Yosemite at WWDC 2014 where the new […]

    The post Aperture & iPhoto for OS X Users – What You Need to Know appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Do robots pose a threat to our jobs?
    Will workplace robots cost more jobs than they create?
  • Facebook attacked for emotion study
    Facebook is criticised after it emerges it conducted a psychology experiment to test emotional reactions of nearly 700,000 users without their knowledge.
  • So You Are Shocked Facebook Did #psyops on People?
    Well then. Let’s start with a working definition of psyops.

    Here is some background on the Facebook mass psychological testing as being reported recently. The study about the test itself, an interesting take on it by another scientist.

    You should not be either shocked, or surprised. Companies in the social media space run an implicit yet often almost silent social compact with you. The social networking or social media company develops, tests and produces a product you want to use.

    In order to use it, you have to click through terms of services or terms and conditions. These are lengthy legal documents created by very smart lawyers to basically protect the company from almost anything.

    Most people literally never bother to read these “click thrus,” and instead just literally do that.

    Click thru.

    By doing so, one should expect to be spied on by companies and governments alike. One should also expect to be used in a multitude of “experiments,” “a/b testing,” and “algorithmic adjustments.” Expect this daily.

    People forget the internet is not theirs. It is actually “domain” of some powerful companies that access our data, b.c we give it up freely.

    — Alan W. Silberberg (@IdeaGov) June 29, 2014

    . @IdeaGov we give it up, yes; but not so sure it is all that “freely” (& even less likely to be “knowingly”). Choice = merely an illusion.

    — Adrienne Mead (@AdrienneMeadEsq) June 29, 2014

    The social compact between you and the big social networking companies is implicit, if mostly silent. We get to use things like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Secret, Whisper, Google, Bing, etc. without paying in hard dollars (usually.) What we pay for it with is the invisible digital currency. That of your life on display for anyone with an algorithm, and a way to analyze that data can easily see. Either use these services and accept that in part or do not use the services. But this is the hard choice we all face, if you ever stop to think about it.

  • Poland's gaming champions
    How two school friends created a global blockbuster in Warsaw
  • KLM Under Fire For Offensive World Cup Tweet
    Dutch airline KLM made a big social media no-no when it tweeted an image celebrating the Netherlands’ World Cup win.

    Minutes after the Dutch team beat Mexico, the airline posted the following:


    The picture contained an cartoonish picture of a man wearing a sombrero and a poncho. Twitter users found the tweet to be racist and offensive.

    Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who has nearly 2 million Twitter followers, called out the airline:

    .@KLM I’m never flying your shitty airline again. Fuck you big time.

    — Gael Garcia Bernal (@GaelGarciaB) June 29, 2014

    The airline quickly deleted the post.

  • Improving Healthcare and Reducing Cost Through Clinical Data Analytics
    Jim needs to have his knee replaced. He is a 52-year-old former long-distance runner who has recently picked up on CrossFit and often wears a Fitbit. To schedule the surgery, he goes online and coordinates his family’s calendar with the calendars of his surgeon and the pre- and post-operation nursing teams. He is asked a few personal questions: In the past year, did he ever have trouble covering co-payments? Does he have friends or family who can transport him to rehabilitation therapy? Does he have to climb stairs to reach his bedroom?

    After a short wait he receives his Quality and Risk Report Card. The report card says he is an excellent candidate for total knee arthroplasty (TKA). However, his recent trip to the urologist for kidney stones and urinary tract infection (UTI) suggests prophylactic antibiotic therapy prior to the surgery to reduce the risk of surgical site infection. And, because of his lack of adherence to prior clinical treatment plans, a post-discharge care coordination team will be engaged before he leaves the hospital.

    If all of this sounds worlds apart from the kind of surgery your father might have experienced, it is. I spoke with Randy Salisbury, chief marketing officer of Streamline Health Solutions, about how healthcare is rapidly moving from relatively subjective decision-making based on isolated incidents to more evidence-based medicine; becoming connected, predictive and personalized. The days of the trip to the doctor resulting in referrals followed by the same tests and questions repeated over and over are nearing an end. Patients are taking a more active role in their own care. With relevant historical information about the patient and the experiences of patients like them, care teams can avoid undesired outcomes such as surgical site infections, ongoing pain, stiffness and poor physical function. This can save thousands of dollars in unreimbursed follow-up care costs for hospitals and health systems and can help keep patient satisfaction high.

    Randy Salisbury, CMO of Streamline Health Solutions

    How is all this possible?

    Although hospitals and health systems have long monitored financial and operational data, the difference comes with tracking clinical data. This includes information such as a patient’s diagnosis, treatments, prescriptions, lab tests and hospitalizations.

    Clinical data is extracted from a variety of sources, including electronic health records, information exchanges, disease registries, and even personal health devices and direct patient surveys. Examining clinical data completes a 360-degree view, enabling providers to analyze their patient populations, understand which individuals need the most help and proactively reach out to give them the care they need. When intelligently applied, clinical analytics help not only support a hospital’s bottom line, but also improve patient outcomes and reduce avoidable readmissions.

    What’s behind the drive toward analytics?

    For one, it’s you, me and everyone else who waits to get help for a medical condition until they are sweating and complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. It is no secret that “reactive” healthcare is more costly than preventive care designed to keep patients out of high-cost settings such as the emergency room.

    Encouraging “wellness,” in fact, lies at the heart of healthcare reform initiatives that move away from fee-for-service reimbursement and toward value-based, accountable care models that tie together cost and quality of care. For hospitals, this shift means that future success depends on the ability to use data and analytics to improve both financial and clinical performance.

    How it works

    In the past, evidence-based treatment has meant following well-studied care protocols. With increased access to clinical data and advances in computing power, however, predictive analytics can provide a new kind of evidence to drive action. Aggregating and analyzing information about a broad population of patients over extended periods of time can help care managers understand — and therefore facilitate — the root causes of good outcomes for individual patients and for patient populations.

    Predictive modeling helps care managers identify patterns in a population’s health in order to prospectively determine individual risk scores. These scores can then be used to triage the work of a care team, allowing them to focus first on patients at highest risk. In the earlier example of Jim, the TKA patient, predictive analytics helped identify him as a high risk for surgical site infection — and therefore in need of prophylactic antibiotics — or it might identify him as being inexperienced with physical therapy, which is a critical component of post surgery success.

    Predictive modeling, whether based on claims data, medical records or patient-supplied risk assessments, can segment individuals prior to service and address a myriad of concerns before they turn into problems. This can be done through:

    • preventive care and wellness activities
    • chronic disease management programs that teach patients how to care for themselves, such as when to take their medications
    • better care coordination, for example, making sure medical records are sent to a skilled nursing facility prior to a patient’s transfer from the hospital

    Clinical analytics can quantify everything from patient outcomes to readmissions and emergency department visits, to wait times and utilization of high-cost services. This new level of insight and transparency is good for both clinical outcomes and for business. In addition to setting internal benchmarks to measure cost and quality performance, for instance, clinical analytics also can help an organization compare how well it stacks up against its competitors and use that data to negotiate better payer contracts. It gives hospitals the ability to quickly make strategic decisions to improve clinical quality, reduce costs, optimize resources and enhance their competitive positions.

    The benefits to patients are equally strong. By providing a holistic understanding of patients, analytics ushers in a new era of personalized healthcare. Clinical analytics have the power to arm individuals with timely, relevant information to help them make good health choices. This 360-degree view helps doctors predict risk for disease and response to treatment, supporting better diagnoses, safer drug prescribing and more effective treatments. Over the years, both as a patient and in his role as an executive for a leading healthcare analytics solution provider, Randy has witnessed this evolution first hand.

    Forward-looking hospitals have already begun to embrace clinical analytics — and that means their patients can enjoy a life well-examined. With that will come lower costs, reduced readmissions, improved outcomes, and a better overall patient experience.

    This post was co-authored with Randy Salisbury, chief marketing officer of Streamline Health Solutions, Inc.

  • VIDEO: Nasa tests Mars landing technology
    US space agency Nasa has successfully tested a flying-saucer shaped space craft that could help scientists plan future missions to Mars.
  • What's New On Netflix In July?
    While it feels like June has only just begun, we are in the final hours of the summer month. Some of us may not be ready for July, but there is one thing we can all agree is great news: the beginning of the month means new movies and TV shows on Netflix. When you want to beat the summer heat and couch surf for a few hours, here are the new additions to cleanse your viewing palette:

    TV Shows:
    1. “Animorphs: Seasons 1 & 2” available on July 1
    2. “Knights of Sidonia” Season 1 available on July 4
    3. “Hemlock Grove” Season 2 available on July 11
    4. “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” Season 1 available on July 17
    5. “Baby Daddy” Season 3 available on July 18
    6. “Melissa & Joey” Season 3 available on July 18
    7. “Hell on Wheels” Season 3 available on July 19
    8. “Lost Girl” Season 4 available on July 24
    9. “Continuum” Season 3 available on July 26

    1. “12 Angry Men” available on July 1
    2. “A Raisin in the Sun” available on July 1
    3. “Bad Santa” available on July 1
    4. “Basic Instinct” available on July 1
    5. “Boyz N the Hood” available on July 1
    6. “City of God” available on July 1
    7. “Dead Man Walking” available on July 1
    8. “Fever Pitch” available on July 1
    9. “Funny Face” available on July 1
    10. “Gandhi” available on July 1
    11. “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” available on July 1
    12. “Legends of the Fall” available on July 1
    13. “Patton” available on July 1
    14. “Philadelphia” available on July 1
    15. “Primal Fear” available on July 1
    16. “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” available on July 1
    17. “The Karate Kid” available on July 1
    18. “The Karate Kid II” available on July 1
    19. The Karate Kid III” available on july 1
    20. “The Manchurian Candidate” available on July 1
    21. “The Parent Trap” available on July 1
    22. “Under the Tuscan Sun” available on July 1
    23. “Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo” available on July 1
    24. “American Ninja” available on July 1
    25. “Ararat” available on July 1
    26. “The Babysitter” available on July 1
    27. “Best Defense” available on July 1
    28. “Blue Chips” available on July 1
    29. “Body of Evidence” available on July 1
    30. “Can’t Buy Me Love” available on july 1
    31. “Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke” available on July 1
    32. “Crimson Tide” available on July 1
    33. “Croupier” available on July 1
    34. “The Dark Half” available on July 1
    35. “Don’t Look Now” available on July 1
    36. “Eight Men Out” available on July 1
    37. “Halloween: Resurrection” available on July 1
    38: “The Hunt For Red October” available on July 1
    39. “Jersey Girl” available on July 1
    40. “The Keys of the Kingdom” available on July 1
    41. “Madeline” available on July 1
    42. “Mean Girls” available on July 1
    43. “My Girl” available on July 1
    44. “My Girl 2” available on July 1
    45. “People I Know” available on July 1
    46. “Phantoms” available on July 1
    47. “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” available on July 1
    48. “Venus” available on July 1
    49. “Renoir” available on July 6
    50. “Homefront” available on July 9
    51. “Out of the Furnace” available on July 9
    52. “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” available on July 11
    53. “Sleeping Beauty” available on July 12
    53. “The Master” available on July 14
    54. “Hitch” available on July 14
    55. “The Last Days” available on July 15
    56. “Christmas with the Kranks” available on July 26

  • You May Have Been A Lab Rat In A Huge Facebook Experiment
    A newly published paper reveals that scientists at Facebook conducted a massive psychological experiment on hundreds of thousands of users by tweaking their feeds and measuring how they felt afterward.

    In other words, Facebook decided to try to manipulate some people’s emotional states — for science.

    The research involved Facebook’s News Feed — the stream of status updates, photos and news articles that appears when you first fire up the site. For a week in January 2012, a group of researchers, variously affiliated with Facebook, Cornell University and the University of California, San Francisco, altered the algorithm that determines what shows up in News Feed for 689,003 people. One group was shown fewer posts containing words thought to evoke positive emotions, such as “love,” “nice” and “sweet,” while another group was shown fewer posts with negative words, like “hurt,” “ugly” and “nasty.” The findings were published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a scientific journal.

    The researchers were studying a phenomenon called “emotional contagion,” a fancy psychological term for something you’ve almost certainly experienced: If you spend more time with a happy-go-lucky friend, you end up being more of a ray of sunshine yourself. (Same goes for sadness: Hang with a Debbie Downer, and you likewise become a vector for gloom.) Researchers have found that emotions can be contagious during face-to-face interactions, when a friend’s laugh or smile might lift your spirits. But what happens online? Facebook was trying to figure that out.

    It turns out that, yes, the Internet is just like real life in this way. People who were shown fewer positive words on Facebook tended to turn around and write posts of their own that contained fewer positive words (and more negative words). And people who were shown fewer negative words tended, in turn, to write posts with fewer negative words and more positive words.

    Hypothesis: proven!

    In the PNAS article, lead researcher Adam Kramer and his team note that “the effect sizes from the manipulations are small.” And in a statement to The Huffington Post, Facebook offered justification for doing the research.

    “This research was conducted for a single week in 2012 and none of the data used was associated with a specific person’s Facebook account,” a company spokesperson told The Huffington Post. “We do research to improve our services and to make the content people see on Facebook as relevant and engaging as possible. A big part of this is understanding how people respond to different types of content, whether it’s positive or negative in tone, news from friends, or information from pages they follow. We carefully consider what research we do and have a strong internal review process.”

    Still, reaction against Facebook was swift when the story was picked up by Animal and then the A.V. Club:

    I wish I hadn’t quit Facebook so I could quit them all over again.

    — John Birmingham (@JohnBirmingham) June 28, 2014

    “Facebook isn’t just the place you see pic of your friends —it’s also an exciting research lab, with all of us as potential test subjects.”

    — Alba Mora Roca (@albamoraroca) June 29, 2014

    Get off Facebook. Get your family off Facebook. If you work there, quit. They’re fucking awful.

    — Erin Kissane (@kissane) June 28, 2014

    The researchers’ findings aren’t exactly trivial. If positivity begets more positivity online, we may be overblowing the whole idea of “F.O.M.O.,” or “fear of missing out” — the idea that pixel-perfect beach pictures and other evidence of fun fills Facebook friends with jealousy, not joy.

    Facebook employs a group of data scientists to study user activity and publish their findings, often pegged to events like Valentine’s Day and national elections. But until now, the research has mostly fallen into the category of “observational studies” — that is, research that involves someone poring over existing data and trying to draw conclusions from it.

    The News Feed manipulation, though, is a different beast. It’s an experiment, in which scientists create the data by tweaking one variable to see if it affects another. That’s what’s disconcerting: The “things” being manipulated in this case are people on Facebook — i.e., basically everyone with an Internet connection.

    If you don’t remember agreeing to being a Facebook guinea pig, well, you must not have read all of the site’s mind-bogglingly complex terms of service when you set up your account. Within those TOS is language specifying that Facebook members consent to having information about them used for “internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement.”

    Even though this research was not illegal, Susan Fiske, the Princeton University psychology professor who edited the study for PNAS, was queasy about it. Fiske told The Atlantic:

    I was concerned until I queried the authors and they said their local institutional review board had approved it — and apparently on the grounds that Facebook apparently manipulates people’s News Feeds all the time.

    Facebook apparently manipulates people’s News Feeds all the time.” That’s comforting.

    [New Scientist via Animal]

Mobile Technology News, June 29, 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.

  • Facebook Tinkered With Users' Feeds For A Massive Psychology Experiment
    Scientists at Facebook have published a paper showing that they manipulated the content seen by more than 600,000 users in an attempt to determine whether this would affect their emotional state.
  • NASA Mars 'Flying Saucer' Returns To Earth
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A saucer-shaped NASA vehicle testing new technology for Mars landings rocketed high over the Pacific on Saturday and deployed a novel inflatable braking system, but its massive parachute failed to fully unfurl as it descended to a splashdown.

    Control room cheers that greeted successful steps in the complex test rapidly died as the parachute appeared to emerge tangled. “Please inform the recovery director we have bad chute,” a mission official ordered.

    NASA planned to hold a news conference on the flight Sunday.

    The vehicle, called the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, was testing methods for slowing big, heavy spacecraft hurtling into the thin Martian atmosphere.

    Despite the parachute problem, “what we just saw was a really good test,” said NASA engineer Dan Coatta with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

    After taking off at 11:40 a.m. PDT from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, the balloon boosted the disc-shaped vehicle over the Pacific. Its rocket motor then ignited, carrying the vehicle to more than 30 miles high at supersonic speeds.

    The environment that high up is similar to the thin Martian atmosphere. As the vehicle prepared to drop back the Earth, a tube around it expanded like a Hawaiian puffer fish, creating atmospheric drag to dramatically slow it down from Mach 4, or four times the speed of sound.

    Then the parachute unfurled — if only partially — and the vehicle splashed down about three hours later.

    Since the twin Viking spacecraft landed on the red planet in 1976, NASA has relied on a parachute to slow landers and rovers.

    But the $150 million experimental flight tested a novel vehicle and parachute. At 110 feet in diameter, the chute was twice as big as the one that carried the 1-ton Curiosity rover through the Martian atmosphere in 2011.

    Coatta said engineers won’t look at the parachute problem as a failure but as a way to learn more and apply that knowledge during future tests.

    “In a way, that’s a more valuable experience for us than if everything had gone exactly according to plan,” he said.

    Viewers around the world with an Internet connection followed portions of the mission in real time thanks to cameras on board the vehicle that beamed back low-resolution footage.

    A ship was sent to recover a “black box” designed to separate from the vehicle and float. Outfitted with a GPS beacon, the box contains the crucial flight data that scientists are eager to analyze.

    “That’s really the treasure trove of all the details,” Coatta said. “Pressure, temperature, force. High-definition video. All those measurements that are really key to us to understanding exactly what happens throughout this test.”

    The test was postponed six times because of high winds. Conditions needed to be calm so that the balloon didn’t stray into no-fly zones.

    Engineers planned to conduct several more flights next year before deciding whether to fly the vehicle and parachute on a future Mars mission.

    “We want to test them here where it’s cheaper before we send it to Mars to make sure that it’s going to work there,” project manager Mark Adler of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said during a pre-launch news conference in Kauai in early June.

    The technology envelope needs to be pushed or else humanity won’t be able to fly beyond the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, said Michael Gazarik, head of space technology at NASA headquarters.

    Technology development “is the surest path to Mars,” Gazarik said at the briefing.


    Associated Press Science Writer Alicia Chang contributed to this report.

  • Someone Beat 'Super Mario Bros' In Under 5 Minutes

    A video gamer who goes by “Blubbler” online just set a new world record for beating 1985’s “Super Mario Bros.” — aka the original “Mario” game — by completing it in 4 minutes and 57.69 seconds. That blows the previous record out of the water by a full two-fifths of a second.

    It almost goes without saying that “Blubbler” is much, much better than you. Just look at these moves!

    Watch the entire run below. Most likely, your 8-year-old self will be filled with awe and envy.

    [h/t Kotaku]

  • Fleshlight Launchpad Lets You Have Sex With Your iPad (NSFW VIDEO)
    Ever get the sense we’re getting too attached to technology?

    Masturbatory aid purveyor Fleshlight has released the Launchpad, an iPad case that allows a man to attach his Fleshlight directly to an iPad, so that he can simulate sex with whomever — or whatever — is on the screen.

    That’s right. While you’re not busy getting a handy from a robot or practicing oral sex on your smartphone, you can now just go ahead and bang your iPad.

    The Launchpad — which runs $24.95 and does not include an actual Fleshlight — was two and a half years in the making, according to Deadspin.

    “We gathered a lot of data and people are moving in masses to watching their adult content via mobile devices, so the Fleshlight LaunchPAD is the perfect accessory for men everywhere,” Fleshlight spokesperson Daniel Pacheco told Mashable. “We’re happy to see that men view this as an outlet of fulfilling their sexual fantasies and men’s pleasure products are getting more widespread acceptance just like women’s sex toys.”

    An ad for the Launchpad garnered hundreds of thousands of views before being removed “because its content violated YouTube’s Terms of Service.” The NSFW ad, which can still be viewed on Fleshlight’s website, shows a long-distance couple about to engage in some sexy time via webcam.

    The ad is shot mostly from the perspective of the man, who asks his girlfriend to put on some lingerie before he straps into the Launchpad.

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  • Fighter Jet's Landing Gear Fails, So Pilot Lands Vertically On A Stool, On A Boat
    On a wing and a prayer. Oh, and a stool — don’t forget the stool!

    Capt. William Mahoney made use of each on June 7, after the front landing gear on his AV-8B Harrier jet failed shortly after take off from the USS Bataan, an amphibious assault ship currently out in the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Navy Times. Unable to make a conventional landing, the Marine had to set the jet down by lowering it vertically onto a modified stool on the ship’s top deck.

    In a video of the incident, Mahoney explains he knew he had a problem shortly after taking off. He radioed back to the ship, then flew past the control tower at an altitude of 300 feet, hoping the exact issue could be diagnosed from afar.

    Lacking a quick airborne fix, he had no choice but to land the approximately 46-foot-long, 31,000-pound Harrier using a procedure to support the jet’s nose on a stool fixed to the ship’s deck.

    “The ship had this amazing invention that was… basically a stool, that was built specifically for this reason,” Mahoney recalled in the video.

    The pilot slowly lowered the jet down to an elevation 20 feet above the deck, then was instructed to land it.

    “I can’t see the stool,” he says in the video, recalling his thoughts at the time. “I don’t even know it’s there. I remember looking for it and thinking, ‘Oh, boy. This is going to get interesting.'”

    Nevertheless, he lowered the jet — “It dropped more than I expected,” he said — which ultimately came to rest with the nose bouncing directly on the stool.

    Only after he landed did Mahoney say the nerves really hit him. “I had to sit there for a minute, and remember how to shut the jet off… it was a pretty big relief. I didn’t realize how much I was shaking until I got out of the aircraft.”

    WATCH the impressive landing, below:

  • Aereo Goes Dark After Major Supreme Court Loss
    On Saturday, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia announced that his company would “pause our operations temporarily” after a Supreme Court decision struck a major blow to its business model.

    The 2-year-old startup threatened to upend the broadcast television industry by setting up small antennas in about dozen U.S. cities to pick up broadcast TV channels and streams those signals to computers, smartphones and other devices. The service was available for $8 a month.

    Those broadcast signals from Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS are available for free to anyone with an antenna, but cable companies like Comcast are required to pay billions in fees for the right to include their channels in cable packages. In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling, maintaining that Aereo was infringing broadcasters’ copyrights by retransmitted their programming.

    The ruling was a big victory for broadcasters and cable companies, who worried that a decision favoring Aereo would open the floodgates for similar businesses that would drive consumers away from high-cost TV packages. Critics contend that services like Aereo gave consumers more choices and that the Supreme Court decision gives broadcasters more power to raise prices.

    Read Kanoija’s entire blog post below:

    “The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.” – Charles Kettering, inventor, entrepreneur, innovator & philanthropist

    A little over three years ago, our team embarked on a journey to improve the consumer television experience, using technology to create a smart, cloud-based television antenna consumers could use to access live over the air broadcast television.

    On Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court reversed a lower Court decision in favor of Aereo, dealing a massive setback to consumers.

    As a result of that decision, our case has been returned to the lower Court. We have decided to pause our operations temporarily as we consult with the court and map out our next steps. You will be able to access your cloud-based antenna and DVR only until 11:30 a.m. ET today. All of our users will be refunded their last paid month. If you have questions about your account, please email support@aereo.com or tweet us @AereoSupport.

    The spectrum that the broadcasters use to transmit over the air programming belongs to the American public and we believe you should have a right to access that live programming whether your antenna sits on the roof of your home, on top of your television or in the cloud.

    On behalf of the entire team at Aereo, thank you for the outpouring of support. It has been staggering and we are so grateful for your emails, Tweets and Facebook posts. Keep your voices loud and sign up for updates at ProtectMyAntenna.org – our journey is far from done.

    Yours truly,

    Chet Kanojia

  • BT apologises for broadband outage
    BT apologises after “many” users in the UK had problems connecting to the internet, but says the issue has now been resolved.
  • Research Scientist Ved Chirayath Organizes NASA's First Official Gay Pride Contingent In San Francisco
    San Francisco’s LGBT Pride parade will welcome astronauts and other NASA employees among its many revelers this year.

    Ved Chirayath, who is currently enrolled at Stanford University in an aeronautics and astronautics graduate program and a Point Foundation scholar, received permission from NASA to have their first official contingent in San Francisco’s parade, which takes place June 29.

    Chirayath, who works at NASA’s Ames Research Center’s Earth Science Division, said over 100 of his colleagues and their friends and family members will also join the parade, wearing T-shirts and other accessories emblazoned with rainbow logos. Meanwhile, vehicles pulling a satellite and a test model of a supersonic jet will also be on hand.

    “NASA’s commitment to workplace diversity, equal opportunity and a supportive environment for minorities, such as myself and the LGBT community, have made it the world leader in aeronautics and space exploration and I am so touched to see support from NASA HQ for our NASA Pride Parade Float and LGBT rights,” Chirayath told The Huffington Post in an email.

    He then added, “NASA’s mission to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown makes it, to my mind, the coolest and most supportive place to work and I am proud to be marching this Sunday and representing NASA at the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade.”

Mobile Technology News, June 28, 2014

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

  • Should you buy an iPhone 5s now, or wait for the iPhone 6?
    If the rumor mill is correct, Apple will launch a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 on September 19, which is less than 100 days away (it may also launch a larger 5.5-inch model at or around the same time). Typically, as the anticipated launch event gets closer of any product, sales of the previous generation model begin to taper. So is it worth hanging on for Apple’s next-generation smartphone, or should you jump in and grab an iPhone 5s now anyway? For some people answer to the question is a no-brainer — wait, and get the next iPhone because it is literally going to be bigger and better. However, there are

  • Man facing paralysis codes new voice
    The man who wrote software to keep his own voice after paralysis
  • Is YouTube's Fan Funding a Threat to Crowdfunding Services?
    By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told the crowd at the annual VidCon gathering of online video fans and creators something they wanted to hear yesterday: that the 800-pound gorilla of video was getting into the crowdfunding business.

    Wojcicki announced Fan Funding, a pilot program now being used by a few YouTube creators that will allow viewers to tip the makers directly in any amount up to $500. This puts the video service in a similar, if not the same, business as crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Patreon. Actually YouTube name checks all three of those services in the short graph it put up on the Creator blog the site uses to communicate with its cadre of creators.

    So here’s the question: is this an existential threat to any of the crowdfunding sites? Let’s go through them, as a group and case by case, after the jump.

    For starters let’s look at what YouTube is offering.

    Fans will be able to make one-off payments to a creator via their channel. According to reporting by Tubefilter, the channel support page will be customizable by creators. At the moment, however, the pages I’ve looked at are uniform: pop-up overlays that allow for pledges in the amount of $1, $5 and “Other.”

    Tubefilter also reports that “(for) each transaction, YouTube will take a 5% cut, plus 21 cents.” This will put the YouTube cut of direct support at the low end of the crowdfunding spectrum.


    Let’s kick off the compare and contrast with the king of crowdfunding, Kickstarter. From a pure numbers stand-point the YouTube offer is better: Kickstarter takes 5% for itself and Amazon payments slices off another 3-5% in processing fees.

    Kickstarter doesn’t need to worry too much, however, as the framing between Fan Funding and what they offer could barely be more different. The all-or-nothing nature of Kickstarter makes it clear that the service is reserved for getting something specific–if not necessarily big–done. The structure of campaigns can be used to build excitement around a project in a way that a tip jar just doesn’t do. It would be hard to imagine Seth MacFarlane offering to match funds for Reading Rainbow to the tune of a million dollars outside a campaign structure.

    Moreover, Kickstarter isn’t all that closely tied to YouTube as a platform. There are other verticals on Kickstarter that make up a large bulk of their traffic.


    Much of what is true for Kickstarter goes for IndieGoGo, whose financial terms are a little better for all our nothing campaigns: 4% plus similar car processing fees. The sticker point comes with IndieGoGo’s flexible funding rules. Under those terms creators get to keep whatever they get, but are penalized an additional 5%. Video creators who are not confident they will raise all that they need may find themselves better served by directing attention to a lower-risk tip jar.

    Still, IndieGoGo is playing a larger game than YouTube videos.


    Here is the first service that might be adversely affected by YouTube’s entry into Crowdfunding. The processing fees hover at around 4%, and Patreon takes an additional 5% as their cut. One economic advantage that can play into Patreon’s hands will be scale: the service processes just one payment a month from patrons, and the credit card fees are split amongst all the creators who are pledged to.

    Patreon also casts a wider net than YouTube, but it is undeniable that creators on the video service are a big part of their community of users. This means that the influx of Series-A capital which was announced earlier this week is well timed. Patreon is going to have to compete by providing a better service for their users than YouTube is able to supply. Part of that means customer service, something that YouTube has never had a good reputation for.

    The other advantage over what’s been done so far with YouTube Fan Funding (and we’re talking 24 hours here, so let’s not read too much into what has been done) that Patreon has is the campaign language they’ve been able adopt. Patreon doesn’t frame the service they provide as just a tip jar, but as a tool for communities of fans to help creators work towards specific goals.

    The Others

    Subbable and Seed & Spark come to mind as other platforms that may be caught in the “splash zone” of YouTube’s maneuver.

    Seed & Spark has little skin in this game at the moment, as ongoing web series have not been a major part of their focus. On top of  that the super-transparent structure of Seed & Spark is light-years beyond the “give me money” button Google has built for YouTub creators.

    Subbable, on the other hand, is one of the rare projects that the VlogBrothers Hank & John Green create that hasn’t turned to gold. The very event where YouTube made the Fan Funding announcement, VidCon, is their creation. Perhaps Subbable hasn’t been that much of a focus for the duo, who have found wild success in other endeavors. If it were to fold, would the brother’s Green even miss it?

    A Quick & Dirty Final Analysis

    What I love most about crowdfunding as a beat is that despite the existence of self-proclaimed experts and some insane success stories we’re still at the beginning of this model. Unless you count NPR and PBS, in which case we’ve had this model forever and now it’s just “regular folks” who are taking advantage of the idea.

    Fan Funding only adds to the options that digital creatives have for financing their work. I can see it benefiting established “brands” like The Young Turks and Soul Pancake a lot more than it does up and comers. A tip jar being less of a falling cry than a targeted campaign is. For creators who want to grow their audience along with their financial resources a considered strategy that deploys a higher-cost, but potentially higher impact service like Kickstarter or Patreon is going to be the way to go. One for jumpstarting a project or reaching behind current capacity, and the other for keeping a regular tide of cash coming in.

    The current iteration of Fan Funding is low hanging fruit, but it’s also a dessert course: the service just isn’t structured to provide steady income or a big payday. Tuber’s looking to sing for their actual supper are going to want to keep their options open.

    Public media’s TurnstyleNews.com, covers tech and digital culture from the West Coast.

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  • Learners at the Center of a Networked World
    Technology is an essential element of our everyday lives. It empowers individuals with more information, more options and more customized experiences, at home and everywhere else.

    Technology has transformed every aspect of our lives, but its current capacity and future potential to transform education and the very way children learn may yield its greatest results yet.

    It has the power to accelerate learning, expand parental choice, provide better tools for teachers and make education more exciting and engaging — both inside and outside the classroom. When education is reorganized around the interests and needs of students, and schools embrace the innovative tools available today, students can achieve extraordinary success.

    Recognizing the need to rethink education in today’s digital world, the Aspen Task Force on Learning and the Internet released “Learner at the Center of a Networked World.” This landmark, cross-sector, cross-partisan report provides clear recommendations to state leaders on how they can advance learning and innovation while keeping the needs of children at the center of the debate and the solutions.

    The Task Force is comprised of 20 innovative and respected experts in the fields of technology, public policy, education, business, privacy and safety. As a result of a year of study, outreach to stakeholders and public input, Task Force members are calling for a new paradigm of learning — an innovative education system that places the student at the center of education.

    This enables all students to learn in their own style, to learn at their own pace, and to collaborate with others while doing so. To realize this vision, states should consider policies and practices that embrace learning both on and offline; foster learning networks, equity of access, interoperability and digital literacy; and protect the safety and privacy of students.

    Here are the highlights of our recommendations:

    Innovative education must be built on high academic standards and strong, transparent accountability to prepare students to thrive in a rapidly evolving, networked world. Students should have the power to decide in which learning opportunities they participate. We recommend states and districts develop competency-based systems for recognizing the acquisition of these skills. Students must have access to interoperable learning networks that allow them to earn credit for what they have learned regardless of where they learned it — whether from a museum, a library, an after-school program, a massive open online course (MOOC), or in the classroom. In these competency-based models of learning, what you know is more important than where you go. These credits should be recognized by schools and institutions of higher education as well.

    Learners must possess the digital literacy necessary to effectively utilize today’s media platforms. We must empower students and educators with the knowledge and skills to thrive online. We recommend reforming the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program to focus on broadband and internal Wi-Fi connections. Doing so will support the online, blended and flipped learning models that harness faster broadband connections in today’s classrooms as well as the continued evolution of digital learning and other yet-to-be-developed education models of the 21st century. Meanwhile, the public and private sectors should explore innovative partnerships to bring broadband access to all students.

    Students must be able to learn in safe and trusted environments. Outdated laws and regulations should be modernized to keep pace with the evolving education landscape. But, trust must go beyond mere compliance with privacy laws. It must involve transparency and openness, data stewardship, accountability, oversight, and enforcement. We recommend policy makers and education leaders establish secure mechanisms for reporting students’ academic progress.

    Schools and content providers must build trust with parents, students and teachers about student data. We recommend developing new technological solutions to protect data, including providing a privacy dashboard that allows parents to see their children’s data and gives them the ability to turn on and off certain sharing features, leaving these personal choices to the students’ families.

    The education community has not yet fully taken advantage of the power of technology, and we are hopeful this report jumpstarts the national conversation about accelerating learning in the 21st century.

    We hope to see education and business leaders, communities and parents commit to moving these recommendations forward in the coming year.

    Most importantly, we hope education becomes increasingly centered on students and not adults in the system. Providing access to a quality education for every student is the key to restoring opportunity and the right to rise in America.

    Jeb Bush served as the governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and is chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Rosario Dawson is an actress and co-founder of Voto Latino, a nonpartisan civic-engagement organization.

  • Sharks, Galapagos and a Peaceful Coexistence
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    As an ocean scientist, undoubtedly, the most frequent question I am asked is about sharks. Is it safe to go into the ocean?

    Based on how sharks have been portrayed in movies, television and in the news, a great number of people believe that humans are considered a snack sensation in the ocean. In reality, people are not good shark food. No juicy blubber or rich omega-3 oils, essentially just a bag-o-bones and water.

    Statistically speaking, you are more at risk when driving to work or toasting a piece of bread (fatal toaster accidents are more common than shark “attacks”). Most so-called shark attacks are not acts of intentional hunting; they are cases of mistaken identity or a response to a perceived threat or competition. In the historical record, even brief non-contact encounters or sightings have been called attacks. That does not mean that the tragedy for those who are injured or fatally wounded by sharks should be minimized. And creating tools, such as Hamish Jolly’s intriguing wetsuits, which might help to minimize deleterious shark incidents, is certainly a good thing.

    Shark Encounters
    In all my years of diving, snorkeling and swimming in the ocean, including having twice lived underwater in the Aquarius Reef Base habitat for up to two weeks and diving six to nine hours a day, I have never been seriously threatened by sharks.

    I’ve seen sharks, been approached by sharks and have been circled by a group of large, beefy hammerheads. Moments of apprehension quickly give way to fascination and a deep appreciation for their silent and powerful grace (no, they do not growl as has been suggested in several bad B-movies).

    The Amazing Galapagos
    I am currently in the Galapagos Islands as science advisor to Celebrity Xpedition, a small cruise ship. Here in the Galapagos, sharks are a wonder to behold. The Galapagos Park Service naturalists speak reverently about sharks and people here have taken action to protect them. With the passengers aboard we are actively on the lookout for sharks. It is one of the day’s highlights if we are lucky enough to snorkel beside a whitetip reef shark or watch as a Galapagos shark swims slowly around the ship.

    In addition to whitetips, we see skittish blacktip sharks and, if one is really lucky, a big fat hammerhead. Also known to cruise the Archipelago are the less frequently seen silky, tiger, bull, whale and mako sharks.

    Sea lions here have been known to make a game of pulling the tail of a whitetip shark resting in a cave. I imagine it is an undersea version of “chicken” and not a practice I recommend. Sometimes we see Galapagos sharks feeding on fish alongside sea lions, pelicans and diving blue-footed boobies. It goes squarely against the ingrained notion that sharks are relentless hunters, feeding on anything and everything at hand. Sea lions are on the menu for the larger pelagic sharks, but, in coastal waters, they tend to co-exist without bloodshed.

    Nature at Its Best
    The Galapagos Islands allow one to experience nature like nowhere else on earth. The wildlife as well as the landscape is well protected and respected. Except for the inhabited towns, the islands are kept principally pristine (other than the vagaries of human introduced invasive species or the impacts of climate change). A licensed Galapagos Park naturalist must accompany all visitors, and animals have the right-of-way.

    Watching and swimming with sharks in the Galapagos, where they are not attracted by bait or legally fished, helps us to understand and appreciate their true nature and important role as top predators in the ocean ecosystem. It also allows us to comprehend how humans and sharks, as well as other animals, can coexist with respect and remarkable interaction.

    El Niño
    As I sit here writing, we wait to see if a strong El Niño will occur this year as many scientists have forecasted. Years of experience and several days of snorkeling suggest that the water is warmer than usual for this time of the year. Strong El Niños in the Galapagos shut down upwelling thereby curtailing ocean productivity. Sea lions, marine iguanas, the iconic blue-footed booby and even sharks can suffer from the lack of food and many may die. It is not possible at this time to determine if climate change has or will strengthen El Niños, but, for now, we have our fingers crossed that the approaching one will be weaker than predicted. And we continue to go out on in search of the ever-majestic shark.

    We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com.

  • New NSA 'Transparency Report' Raises More Questions Than It Answers
    For years, big Internet companies like Twitter have released “transparency reports” to show users how often the government asks for their data. Now the National Security Agency is getting in on the act: The agency released its first-ever such report on Friday, complete with Internet-ready charts meant to show its use of “national security authorities.”

    But the report, produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the orders of President Barack Obama as a response to Edward Snowden’s leaks, still leaves a lot unsaid — and the numbers it does disclose may conceal more than they reveal.

    “This report is inherently untrustworthy,” said Amie Stepanovich, senior policy counsel at the digital rights group Access. “Every number in this report could be significantly smaller than it actually is, or be changed in order to protect what the intelligence community would call their methods and sources.”

    The report does reveal that, according to the government, it spied on more than 90,000 foreign targets in 2013 under the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The government also reported that 248 U.S. citizens or residents had their information, stored by telecommunications companies, subject to queries in databases like the NSA’s domestic phone-calling records dragnet.

    But neither of those numbers conveys how many people the NSA is actually surveilling. In the NSA’s lingo, “targets” could include people, groups or entire countries. The agency also relies on an executive order to spy on foreigners in bulk if it thinks the collection will not also scoop up Americans’ communications, but there are no indications of how many records are collected under that authority.

    “The actual number of people who have had their information wrapped up could be incredibly, exponentially larger because of that word ‘target’ that they use,” Stepanovich said.

    One interesting nugget the report does reveal is that all 90,000 foreign targets were swept up under a single order granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees much of the NSA’s surveillance. The controversial section of the law giving the government that surveillance authority was approved as a way of putting the George W. Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program under judicial oversight.

    “How do you get almost 90,000 targets with one order?” wondered Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. “It calls into question what the court is really approving.”

    The domestic phone dragnet also picks up many more people than the number in the report suggests. Because the NSA analyzes phone calls placed and received by people with up to three degrees of separation from the initial person queried, it potentially ran the numbers on millions of Americans. And for the NSA’s purposes, corporations are people, too — so the 248 “persons” in its report could mean many more actual humans are the subjects of initial searches.

    One thing the report does show, said Stepanovich, is that the NSA embarked on a massive bulk collection program to spy on a relatively small number of Americans. She questioned why a more targeted collection program would not work.

    “They’re collecting information on 248 people, very personal information, for a program that has never been shown to be effective,” she said. “For a purpose that we don’t even know, because it’s not doing what they say it’s been doing — it’s not protecting against terrorist attacks.”

    The government has been careful to mention in its own report some of the caveats about the numbers it contained. Other caveats have been identified by researchers only after carefully parsing reports from the surveillance court or information from Snowden’s leaks.

    Both Stepanovich and Granick believe the NSA has much further to go toward truly opening its books.

    The agency still has yet to respond to a question Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) posed to NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett about how many Americans it is performing “backdoor” searches on by looking through the communications that foreign targets exchanged with Americans. Ledgett on June 5 promised a response within two weeks, but there has been no public announcement yet that he has followed through. The House voted on June 19 to end such “backdoor searches.”

    “This is a baby step forward,” said Granick. “This doesn’t answer the questions that the public and Senator Wyden and others have been asking. And we are going to need more information.”

  • Blimp Buzzes NSA Data Center In Anti-Surveillance Protest
    Anti-surveillance groups flew over the NSA’s massive Utah data center in a blimp on Friday in a dramatic protest against government surveillance.

    Greenpeace, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation and the conservative Tenth Amendment Center sent up a message on a thermal airship for a flying protest above the agency’s $2 billion data center, which critics charge could be used to store nearly limitless amounts of Americans’ private information.

    “NSA illegal spying below,” read a message on the blimp, with an arrow pointing straight down to the Bluffdale, Utah center.

    “The public needs to be brought into the Congressional debate around surveillance reform happening right now,” the EFF’s Rainey Reitman said in a statement. “We’re flying an airship over the Utah data center, which has come to symbolize the NSA’s collect-it-all approach to surveillance, and demanding an end to the mass spying. It’s time for bold action in defense of our privacy.”

    Greenpeace said it offered its blimp for the protest because the NSA’s surveillance also jeopardizes the basic free speech and free association rights of its environmental advocates. The conservative group, for its part, joined the fly-by to show that electronic surveillance is not a partisan issue.

    nsa blimp

    Journalists who have attempted to photograph the Utah data center have occasionally encountered hostile reactions. But the airspace above the data center is not restricted, so Greenpeace was apparently within its rights to fly the blimp overhead.

    Asked for comment on the dirigible escapade, NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines essentially said the agency’s critics should get their heads out of the clouds.

    “All of NSA’s operations are conducted in strict accordance with the rule of law,” she said in a statement.

  • There's Nothing Left To Be Afraid Of
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    I must surely have a unique perspective on the subject of being eaten alive because, well, I have been. I lost my right arm from my elbow down to a shark and most of my right leg. But, strange as it might sound, I still don’t bear the creatures any ill-will. In fact, I’m the first person to support the cause of shark preservation.

    I’ve always been terrified of sharks. So even I found it a bit odd that I chose a career as an Australian Navy Clearance Diver. Then again, I’ve never been accused of doing anything too smart. But, doing my job, even my buddies knew that I was scared and used to pin pictures of giant Great Whites on my locker at work. Yet it was never enough to stop me. I had a job to do, a mission to complete, a task at hand and that always came first.

    Besides, I told myself, I had more chance of dying on my motorbike on the way to work than when I was diving. That’s what I reminded myself when I was underwater and started seeing shadows moving in the murk anyway. And the fateful day, four years ago, that a bull shark finally got me, I didn’t see it coming… I was taking part in an anti-terrorism exercise, and I’d been swimming on my back.

    So as someone growing up scared of sharks, I completely understand other people’s fear; that all-encompassing terror of being torn to shreds in front of your own eyes. I get it, and I’ve coached many people to battle that and to be able to enter the ocean for the first time.

    Because, of course, from the beginning of time, humans have feared what they don’t understand and then tried to kill their enemies. We’re seeing that happening right now with the Western Australian government deploying drum lines and killing sharks indiscriminately. They reckon that is much easier than to live happily alongside them. Meanwhile, those who preach saving animals and the planet are routinely portrayed as tree-hugging hippies with dreadlocks and smelly armpits.

    But the world is changing and that’s just as well because the planet and its inhabitants are in dire trouble. All of us.

    Is it really logical to fear being eaten by a shark so much when far more people get killed crossing the street while looking at their smart phones? We have exponential world population growth creating massive shortages in food stocks, civil war in a post U.S.-stabilized Iraq disrupting fuel supplies, religious zealots murdering thousands, storm fronts wiping out whole towns, sink holes sucking up streets, mosquito-borne diseases killing over 700,000 people a year and more people killing themselves each year than are ever nibbled by sharks. We clearly need much more protection from ourselves.

    On the plus side, science and technology are allowing us to re-align the balance between mother earth and ourselves. And thank God for those smart people, I say. Without them, I’d be walking around on a peg leg with a hook hand instead of this electronic leg with six micro processors, a gyroscope, an accelerometer and a hand that functions by measuring the electrical impulses created by the flexion of my forearm muscles. For a double amputee, I have an incredible quality of life.

    At the same time, scientists have created a banana with six times the amount of vitamin A, which could potentially save so many lives blighted by malnutrition around the world. An Australian solar plant has generated “supercritical” steam that rivals fossil fuels. Tesla has created the first commercially available electric sports car, and it looks awesome. And another bunch of scientists, we now know, have created a shark-deterrent wetsuit to protect ourselves and, in turn, protect our sharks.

    What a great idea! As well as looking after ourselves, we really need to look after our wildlife, too. It’s the breadth and diversity of the animals that exist on our planet that help make our own lives so rich and meaningful. David Attenborough and the late Steve Irwin have for decades been attempting to share this wondrous world with all of us in the hope that we might find the same love for it that they have and to inspire others into acting as guardians against those that would do them harm.

    There are not many of us who are going to go through an encounter with our worst nightmare that leave us with vital bits missing and with nothing left to fear. But our world is made more amazing by its danger, more exciting with its risks. People are hurt and killed every minute of every day, and yet we’re not cave-dwelling troglodytes living in fear of everything around us.

    Instead we embrace our world and relish in its grandeur. My message is to be inspired and amazed and frightened at its beauty and danger but, more importantly, do what you can to protect it and all that it holds before there’s nothing left to love… or to be afraid of.

    We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com.

  • 5 Apps To Help Change The World
    Forget about Angry Birds and Yo. These apps aim to educate and empower — and are the newest tactic for tech-savvy activists.
  • Apple Maps gains Flyovers of Tokyo, Utah's Zion National Park
    Apple has extended coverage of Maps’ Flyover feature to two more locations. The most important of these is the Japanese capital of Tokyo, where people can now see 3D views of scenery like the Tokyo Tower or the Imperial Palace. In the United States, Maps users can toggle Flyover for the canyons of Utah’s Zion National Park.

  • WATCH: A Shark-Deterrent Wetsuit (And It's Not What You Think)
    Ocean swimmer Hamish Jolly wished there was a wetsuit that could keep sharks at bay — so he invented one. Find out how he did it, and how you could apply the same techniques to create an innovation of your own.

    We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com.

  • This Will Make You Long For Your 1990s Cell Phone
    Do you remember when “app” was short for nothing except “appetizer” and phones were things you made calls on?

    We do, and this jokey graphic from comedy site Kind Of Normal suddenly has us pining for the days of the Nokia phone. Because even with their bells and whistles, smartphones still can’t compete with the sturdier, simpler phones of our youth. I mean, do you guys remember how amazing that game Snake was!? You can’t compete with that.

    Now, are these things “facts”? According to a strict definition of the word, LOL. But they are in our hearts.

    cell phones before

  • Smartphones, Smart Ruling
    Technology changes everything, including the influence of Supreme Court precedents. One of the most durable legal doctrines is stare decisis, the idea that courts should follow legal precedents in the interest of stability and predictability of law. But some precedents, especially precedents in Fourth Amendment search and seizure jurisprudence, become meaningless when technology intrudes, and then older and pristine bright-line rules have to give way.

    In several recent Fourth Amendment cases that implicate new technologies, the government has argued that technology changes nothing, that the quality and quantity of the government’s intrusions into privacy should not alter the rule or the result. So, for example, the government argued that its bulk telephone metadata program, operated by the National Security Agency, was a permissible investigative technique because it was a logical extension of the Supreme Court’s pen register decision, which allowed the government to collect telephone numbers dialed by users. The court reasoned that since the telephone data is known by the company that processes and charges customers for the calls, the customer has no reasonable basis to expect that the data is private. But as Judge Richard Leon observed in a historic ruling, compared with the discrete and limited pen register device, the massive, indefinite, and historical collection of millions, probably billions, of present and past telephone calls, loaded into a vast database and retained by the government perhaps forever, or as long as the U.S. is fighting terrorism, is nonsensical and dangerous.

    It may be that the government’s position in the telephone metadata case is logically correct, however perverse. If, as the government argued, it is authorized to collect some telephone calls for a discrete period of time, as the pen register precedent holds, then the government should be allowed to collect all telephone calls forever. The government’s logic is reminiscent of Benjamin Cardozo’s famous warning to judges about the “tendency of a principal to expand itself to the limit of its logic.”

    The government’s expansive logic similarly was employed when investigators installed a GPS device on the defendant’s car and tracked him for a month. No warrant was obtained for the intrusion, but the government claimed that no warrant was necessary. The Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling, rejected the government’s argument. As in the metadata case, the government argued that an earlier Supreme Court ruling squarely controlled a 30-year-old precedent in which the government put a beeper on a car and tracked its movements for a single short trip. Logically, if a motorist has no special privacy from being watched electronically by the government for a day, why should she have any special privacy for a week, or a month? But as Justice Sonia Sotomayor pointed out in her influential concurring opinion, technology changes dramatically the constitutional rules for privacy. The fact that the government can watch you for a finite moment in time does not give the government the right to watch you forever. The idea that we give up a certain amount of privacy when we appear in public or convey information to third parties is an ill-suited norm for the digital age, in which technology gives government the power to secretly watch people constantly, always, during both important and mundane activities, and to obtain precise records of all of these activities, and to store and mine these records indefinitely — forever.

    This week’s unanimous cellphone search ruling by the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, seems almost anti-climactic, or at least an easy call. According to the Supreme Court precedent, which the government relied on aggressively, the immediate search of a defendant and his possessions contemporaneous with his arrest is reasonable and requires no warrant. The fact that the property searched happens to be a cellphone should not matter, the government claimed, pointing to the well-settled doctrine of “search incident to arrest,” which is based on two search rationales: The person arrested might have a weapon he could use to harm the arresting officer, or the arrested person might try to destroy evidence in his possession. Indeed, as the government argued, a cellphone might contain incriminating evidence that, upon arrest, could be destroyed, so, logically, a search of the cellphone is within the rule. In fact, in a leading case relied on by the government, there was no evidence that could be destroyed; the defendant was arrested for a traffic infraction. And the defendant could not gain access to the package that had already been seized by the police, so there was no realistic threat to the officer’s safety. No matter, said the Supreme Court. The arrest itself justified the immediate search.

    But technology changes everything, the court unanimously concluded, in rejecting the government’s arguments. The court made the point succinctly, and powerfully. Cellphones are “a pervasive and insistent part of daily life,” indeed “an important feature of human anatomy.” More than 90 percent of American adults own a cellphone, the court noted. Because of its immense storage capacity, cellphones are different from cigarette packages, wallets, briefcases, and even diaries possessed by the person arrested. A cellphone “contains the sum of an individual’s private life.” The court showed a close familiarity with cellphone technology, describing “gigabyte storage capacity” (the smartphone capacity of 16 to 64 gigabytes, and 16 gigabytes translates into millions of pages of text, thousands of pictures, and hundreds of videos); “apps” (the average smartphone user has 33 apps, “which can form a revealing montage of the user’s life,” noting as well the expression “There’s an app for that”); “cloud computing” (the capacity to display data stored on remote servers); and “remote wiping” and “data encryption.”

    The Supreme Court rejected the government’s reliance on precedent and its arguments about the dire consequences of the court’s decision on the ability of the government to fight crime. The court pointed out that the government wasn’t being deprived of evidence, only being fored to accept the inconvenience of obtaining a warrant to search the phone. Also, if there are exigent circumstances, the government can make a warrantless search. But as in the metadata and GPS technology cases, in balancing the government’s interests against the near-Orwellian intrusions into privacy, privacy wins, and even when the logic of earlier Supreme Court precedents might suggest otherwise.

  • Using 3D Printing And Design To Change The Way We Look At Disability
    The technology involved in creating artificial limbs has come a long way in the last few decades. We have now witnessed a paralyzed man kick a soccer ball at the opening ceremonies of the World Cup, and a double-amputee snowboarding champion stun the audience on Dancing With The Stars. Today’s prosthetics include advanced sensors and elements of robotics and nanotechnology, and there are some incredible developments taking place with integrating the body and the mind.

    Yet for all the progress that has been made, these devices still look cold, industrial, and impersonal.

    To Travis Ricks, an incredibly accomplished athlete, advocate, and educator – and amputee of eleven years – design has been the missing ingredient. Available prosthetics look obviously fake, but, he says, “you’re stuck with what they give you: skinny legs and generic covers.” While there have been some flashy presentations with soaring rhetoric, not much is actually out there that looks good and is available to consumers at a reasonable price point.

    UNYQ (pronounced: unique), a start-up based in San Francisco and Seville that is barely a month old, has set out to change that by selling affordable 3D printed prosthetic leg covers, known as “fairings,” directly to consumers. The company was co-founded by legendary entrepreneur Eythor Bender, who is best known for developing a prototype bionic exoskeleton that allows paraplegics to walk again. Bender, who has worked with the disabled for over 20 years, was frustrated by the lack of consideration of style in the medical device development process. Despite all the progress made in other areas, the devices still look more or less like a “wooden stick.”

    Bender wants to challenge what we think is possible with prosthetics. Using 3D printers, UNYQ can capture the individuality of a person while providing them with an exactly symmetrical replacement limb. The same way that 3D printing has revolutionized the way we create hearing aids, Bender believes that something similar is possible with artificial limbs.

    Here, he draws a fascinating parallel to eyeglasses: we would never presume that everyone wants to wear the same pair of glasses, we value style because it reflects our personality; prosthetics should be the same way.

    The lack of options has been frustrating for doctors as well. “As a clinician, and as a female as well, I’ve never been able to have a good option to offer patients in terms of cosmetic covers,” says Katie Taylor, a prosthetist who is joining UNYQ as their Clinical Director. “Historically they’ve been made with foam and a plastic covering that doesn’t look like real skin. They get dirty, they’re difficult to replace, and very expensive. Often times, people just don’t wear them. For the first time I’ll be able to say, here’s an option for you that’s actually really cool. Instead of feeling self-conscious, they can feel stylish, fashionable, and beautiful.”

    While the fairings themselves are very fashionable, their greater significance has more to do with quality of life. Prosthetics can sometimes cost several tens of thousands of dollars, and any efforts that help to ease their maintenance or improve their usage is welcome by everybody. But most importantly, it can change the way amputees feel about themselves by directly addressing the psychological trauma that they suffer from their disability.

    With UNYQ, Bender’s goal is to give choice back to consumers in a field that’s been historically dominated by intermediaries. Ordering the fairings directly is a shockingly simple process: you choose a design from their website (or design your own), take eight photos with your phone, wait four to six weeks for delivery, and, four screws later, your prosthetic leg now looks and feels completely different.

    But the world is full of promising technologies that don’t make much of an impact because they never become accessible to the people that need them. When describing his 2011 exoskeleton demonstration at TED Bender struck a surprisingly sad tone, “I felt like I was teasing them.” He described how he was he was able to “turn no into yes,” but the technology was so expensive that it would not be able to make a widespread impact for many years to come. For him, that simply doesn’t cut it anymore – bold techno-utopian pronouncements by themselves are not enough.

    To that end, his company announced yesterday that they are cutting all of their prices in half – with their product line now starting at just $500. Thanks to higher-than-anticipated demand, improved sourcing, and advancements in process as they’ve scaled up, Bender now feels completely comfortable calling his products affordable. He hopes to one day be able to print more of the leg with better materials and expand to other limbs as well. “The body is a very complicated thing to replace,” he reflected as he laid out his plans to further blur the boundaries of fashion, technology, and medicine.

    As for Ricks, he’s increasing his involvement with UNYQ in an attempt to get this out to more people, saying that “he loves wearing the product.” He feels more confident when he has his fairings on. It used to be that something as simple as putting on a pair of pants could be very frustrating. He would get insecure when it was windy, but now his legs are symmetrical. The product doesn’t replace what he’s lost, but it does give him dignity, control, and pride.

    Ricks explained, the change is drastic, “I get stopped by people who tell me how great my fairings look. In eleven years of being an amputee, I’ve never had people tell me that my leg is badass.  They are saying that my disability is really cool.”

    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

    (Source: UNYQ) In 2011 Ricks became the Triathlete National Champion at the USA Paratriathlon National Championships in New York City.

    (Source: UNYQ) Paralympic track and field athlete Lacey Henderson showing off her fairings.

  • Audi confirms plans to roll out CarPlay-capable vehicles in 2015
    Audi has announced plans to offer CarPlay-equipped vehicles beginning in 2015. The integration is said to be the result of “intensive dialog” with Apple, and work at Audi’s Silicon Valley development lab. Which models will get CarPlay, however, has yet to be revealed, and it’s not known if custom apps or features will be used to distinguish Audi’s take on the platform.

  • You Will Enjoy This Video To A Reasonable Extent & Find Its Point Of View Agreeable
    Please watch this video wherein Glove and Boots make some interesting points about clickbait headlines. We’ll just be over here, not making your day, changing your life or blowing your mind in any way.

    Also, take our poll:

  • MacFamilyTree, MobileFamily Tree get major 7.2 updates
    Synium has released v7.2 updates for its OS X and iOS genealogy apps, MacFamilyTree and MobileFamilyTree. Both make major changes, including scrapping and rewriting the Reports section. Users can pick from a number of different preset report types, including a new Descendancy option, and display or export them in 16 languages. Custom watermarks, borders, ornaments, and font scales can be applied, and Synium has improved aspects like printing, PDF export, and narrative reports.

  • These Are The Colleges With The Faster Internet Speeds (INFOGRAPHIC)
    Turns out that money doesn’t buy everything, or at least not Internet speed.

    Colleges and universities with the biggest endowments do not have the fastest Internet, according to an analysis conducted by Valore Books and TestMy.net.

    Their infographic of the results lists the top 25 Internet speeds in megabits per second (mbps) based upon how long it takes each school’s network to download and upload. Internet speeds are then compared with the top ten endowments, showing that the wealthiest schools don’t have the best Internet.

    The only commonality is Texas A&M University, which ranks as the forth-fastest Internet speed and seventh-largest endowment.

    The prize for fastest Internet goes to Lamar State College-Port Arthur, which has an endowment of $8 million (roughly 4,000 times less than Harvard’s endowment, which is the largest in the U.S.). Harvard may have money, but they’re seriously lacking Internet speed.


  • Uber Offering Gay Marriages In San Francisco This Weekend
    Uber seems to be delivering everything these days — and now they’re even offering something for all of you gays looking to get hitched.

    For one day only, June 28, queers in San Francisco can request a wedding on demand from the popular transportation smartphone app. According to Uber, the service will be available from noon to 6 p.m. by selecting “UberWEDDING” and simply dropping a pin. If accepted, your wedding party will be en route complete with an on-site notary, a violinist, flowers, candles, dessert and champagne.

    Additionally, Uber will also provide couples with honeymoons courtesy of HotelTonight and Alaska Airlines… all at no cost to the user. What a way to celebrate San Francisco Pride!

    The only thing Uber asks is that couples have the necessary paperwork available prior to their wedding party’s arrival.

    Congrats to all you soon-to-be uber-gay-married queers — and to newly married queers everywhere!

    (h/t Towleroad)

Mobile Technology News, June 27, 2014

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

  • Apple Drops The Price of The iPod Touch Lineup

    Apple has made some significant changes to the 16GB iPod Touch and has lowered the price across the board on all of the iPod Touch lineup.  The new pricing was announced yesterday and should help slowing sales.  The 16GB iPod Touch has been updated to the array of colours that have been available on the […]

    The post Apple Drops The Price of The iPod Touch Lineup appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Get Drink Recipes Based on Whatโ€™s In Your Bar with Shake-It-Up!

    Shake-It-Up! allows users to serve up drinks in a fun Tiki Bar Setting and create their own custom bar by simply touching on the alcoholic or non-alcoholic ingredient and dragging it to their bar. For their personal Shake-It-Up! experience they can also choose their own look from a variety of Tiki Backgrounds. Once they create […]

    The post Get Drink Recipes Based on What’s In Your Bar with Shake-It-Up! appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Report: Walmart to cut iPhone 5s, 5c on-contract prices permanently
    Walmart is planning to again permanently lower prices on the current iPhone models, cutting the cost of an iPhone 5s on contract to $99, a drop from its previously-discounted price of $149. The iPhone 5c will see an even more dramatic drop, down to $29 from $49. At most other outlets, the 5s sells for $199 and the iPhone 5c for $99 with a two-year contract commitment. The permanent new pricing is said to take effect beginning tomorrow, but only for in-store sales rather than Walmart’s online store.

  • How to Stay on Your Health and Fitness Game When You're a Busy Entrepreneur

    A healthy you = a healthy business. But that’s easier said than done. Follow these tips to squeeze health and fitness into your schedule.

    By Jillian Lorenz and Ariana Chernin (Founders & CEOs, Barre Bee Fit)

    As entrepreneurs and startup leaders, we subject ourselves to a variety of unhealthy habits: Lack of sleep, over-extension and stress, and inconsistent diet and exercise regimens. While we may not want to admit it, these burdens can affect more than just the bags under our eyes or the size of our waistlines — in fact, we’re likely impacting the one thing we’re working so hard to perfect: Our business.

    Countless studies have linked healthy diets and regular exercise to increased mental agility and overall productivity, arguably two of the most important skills for an entrepreneur. Why, then, do we choose to put our health on hold, opting to “do it later” or point to our rolodex of excuses when the importance is so very clear?

    Physical activity boasts benefits such as improving your mood, clearing your mind, and offering a natural state for meditation — all of which are key ingredients to being your freshest, best self.

    As fitness experts and entrepreneurs of our own boutique fitness brand, we know firsthand the difficulty in maintaining healthy lifestyle habits when stressed and over-extended. To combat this constant conundrum, we compiled a number of our own tips and remedies to help you find this balance.

    1. Get an Early Start
    You likely already wake up early, but this also means you should be going to bed at a reasonable hour, allowing your mornings to be a time to focus on yourself.

    Meditation and movement is one of the best ways to start your morning. We recommend doing five sets of one minute plank holds — an energizing and mentally engaging way to start your day. Mornings are also a great time for your workout. This routine gives you energy to start your day. Plus, exercising in the morning is like taking a shower: Beneficial and best of all, checked off of your to-do list.

    2. Plan Ahead for Moments of Snacking Desperation
    Prepare a variety of healthy snacks at the beginning of each week. Bags of almonds, fresh produce and hard boiled eggs are great ways to tide you over should meetings run late throughout the day. This also ensures that when you do sit down for a meal, that you’re not overeating.

    3. Sneak in Mini Workouts
    If you’re unable to fit a workout into your morning routine, find ways to sneak in mini-workouts throughout the day.

    Take five-minute breaks to do tricep dips and pushups next to your desk; you work not only your arms, but also your legs and core! If that doesn’t work, take your conference calls standing or go on walks during brainstorms with team members.

    4. Drink Water — Lots of It
    Always stay hydrated throughout the day. Keep a water bottle at home and at work so you’re never without access to one.

    5. Push out the Stress
    De-stress with a series of push-ups. When you’re engaging a series of muscles to perform a specific action, your shift your focus. These are the perfect remedy after receiving a less-than-pleasant email or phone call.

  • Is tech saving the music industry?
    Is audio streaming saving the music industry?
  • Amazon 'bullying' UK publishers
    The online retailer Amazon is accused of ‘bullying’ smaller UK publishers in the latest round of contract negotiations.
  • Viral Hoax Garners Thousands in Sympathy Funds Online
    It turns out that a Jackson, Mississippi KFC did not, in fact, kick out a disfigured 3-year-old for disturbing other customers with her injuries. Earlier this month, the grandmother, Kelly Mullins, posted that accusation on Facebook. She said she and her granddaughter stopped by a KFC for sweet tea and mashed potatoes on their way home from the hospital and were asked to leave by an employee.

    The story got picked up by local media and, as often happens nowadays, went viral. People were outraged. A gofundme.com website was set up and brought in $135,000 in donations. A Las Vegas plastic surgeon offered his services at no charge. KFC promised to donate $30,000 toward the child’s medical care, no matter how their investigation turned out. As it turned out, two separate investigations by KFC failed to corroborate Kelly Mullins’s story. Store surveillance footage and register receipts didn’t produce any evidence of the incident. It just didn’t happen.

    On the surface, the story was a compelling mix of sympathy and outrage. Who could fail to feel sympathy for this precious little girl, who was viciously attacked by pit bulls? Who could fail to feel outrage at such callous actions by a nameless fast-food worker? I hate to admit it but, when I first read the story, I didn’t even consider the possibility it might not be true. After all, I could see the heartbreaking pictures of little Victoria Wilcher, with her mauled face and patch over her right eye. Victoria was real; she had a face, while KFC is a faceless (except for the Colonel), big corporation, with thousands of employees, one of whom could easily have been a jerk.

    I believed the story because there was just the right amount of truth to cloud my thinking. But what do we all swear to, if we happen to find ourselves giving testimony in a courtroom? We swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth — at least, that’s how I remember it from TV. Kelly Mullins, Victoria’s grandmother, apparently told enough of the truth to get the ball rolling, to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars, but certainly not the whole truth and with a great deal more than the truth mixed in. I believed it and so did others.

    KFC, to its credit, or to the credit of its PR people, are sticking with their $30,000 pledge to help Victoria. Gofundme.com has suspended the donation campaign and offered refunds. I’m not sure what the Las Vegas surgeon will do, though, I suspect, he’ll still offer his services pro bono. Part of me is angry at the family for lying to, what turned out to be, a global audience via the Internet, insisting the story was true, right up to when it was proved to be a hoax. Part of me — a bigger part of me — continues to have sympathy for the 3-year-old. Someone, who really needs help, is getting help, which is good. The lousy part is that help comes filtered through lies and deception.

    I don’t really know the motives of the grandmother for making up the lies in the first place, or the family for sticking with those lies until it blew up in their faces. Maybe they were just desperate and maybe they were just hoping money. The person who doesn’t really have a motive in any of this is Victoria. She’s just a 3-year-old recovering from a horrific injury. In the aftermath of this story, I hope that’s who people focus on. Our outrage may have been deliberately misdirected and misplaced but our sympathy was well-placed.

    Even though I know I can’t believe everything I read or see on the Internet, sometimes I still do; shame on me. There are people who use lies and deception with unclear motives on the Internet; shame on them. Next time, I’ll be more careful.

  • In Praise of 'Small Data': How Targeted Analytics — Not 'Big Data' — Are Transforming Education Today
    I hate buzzwords.

    There sure are a lot of them in education technology — probably enough to fill out a bingo card. Some of them have gained more traction than others, but there’s one in particular that makes me cringe: big data. As in, “BIG DATA HAS COME TO EDUCATION!”

    “Big data” might be the most hollow, misused term in education. For all of the chest-pounding about how big data has come to education, how are colleges and instructors actually using it –now, in 2014?

    We’ve long heard that big data will revolutionize education the way it has other areas of our lives, like business, sports and medicine. All of the problems facing our education system could be solved if only we could take advantage of the piles of student data that exist, or that might exist if we had in place the technology to track it.

    But the fact of the matter is that true big data does not exist in education today, and its long-rumored arrival is confusing the conversation about the use of analytics in education. Big data has become the euphemism for our greatest hopes for education — and our greatest fears. But instead of thinking of big data either as certain doom or the white knight coming to save us, we should focus on how data and analytics can be used in achievable, responsible ways to support instructors and improve student performance. Today.

    Big Data: Where we are (and where we aren’t)
    Real “big data” is massive and unwieldy: Think location information, spending history, medical records, dietary information. The idea is that if we know everything about a student, we’ll be better able to help that student — and future students who fit a similar profile. It’s a great vision.

    But we’re just not there yet. Privacy remains a serious and understandable concern, with many education companies still needing to display the rigor, thoughtfulness and transparency in order to win the public’s trust. There’s also the question of implementation. Are our schools — whether it’s K-12 or higher ed — really ready to start using all of this data to start shaping instruction? No one has been more vocal in their support of the digital transformation of education than I have, and even I have doubts and concerns about using data in this way.

    So what can we deliver today? How can we use data in the classroom without all the baggage that comes with “big data”?

    The power of analytics
    One of the more useful trends in education today is analytic-driven instruction, the strategic application of analytics based on targeted sets of learning data — things like assignment scores, time spent on the material, progress in an adaptive learning environment. What we’re talking about here is the strategic use of learning data with a direct correlation to student performance. Think Google Analytics, not the Human Genome Project. Or, at the risk of introducing another buzzword, call it “small data.”

    Small data is more focused on examining precisely how well a student understands specific course material and on finding the best way to support that student’s learning in the near term. These tools aren’t paying attention to whether the student had Frosted Flakes or Cheerios for breakfast the morning before a test, but they’re looking at what matters most. If an instructor sees that a student is spending a lot of time on homework but not performing very well on it, the instructor can quickly see that something might be wrong — and get a clear idea of what that something might be and how to fix it. It’s that simple.

    I’d argue that small data is doing far more to advance the way we deliver instruction, particularly in higher education, than its bigger cousin. Colleges across the country are already using small data to gain insights that they can actually use to help improve student performance. After all, instructors are the core of the learning experience and should remain there — even in the analytics-powered classroom. If data is cool, analysis is powerful. And action driven by analysis is transformative.

    The future of data in education is enormously bright — and admittedly big. As an industry, we’re continuing to evolve, and while the future of “big data in education” is uncertain, the ability of analytics to support instruction and improve student performance is anything but. I love to think big, but I believe that for the moment, we should keep our focus where we believe it can make the most meaningful impact: on using intelligent analytics to make smaller bodies of education data as powerful and actionable. For the moment, we can be proud of that.

  • The Whole Entire World Binge-Watched 'Breaking Bad' Because Of Course
    Drama is coming.

    According to a survey conducted by TiVo, 91 percent of viewers said they’ve binge-watched TV shows, meaning they watched three or more episodes of the same show in a row, and there is a bunch of drama at the top. “Breaking Bad” was the most watched show, with 35 percent of respondents saying they binged on it. The AMC drama was followed by Netflix’s “House of Cards” at 29 percent and HBO’s “Game of Thrones” at 25 percent.

    Other notably binged shows included “Walking Dead,” “Downton Abbey,” various “Star Trek” versions, “Homeland,” “Mad Men,” “Doctor Who” and “NCIS,” according to Variety.

    Additional findings conclude that 40 percent of respondents binged within the last week, around 75 percent have watched an entire series in 30 days and, in a huge shift, only one-third of respondents believed binging had negative connotations. A survey from last April showed more than half of respondents thought binging was a negative practice.

    The survey was conducted using TiVo subscribers, which means it’s not indicative of the U.S. population as a whole; however, it does explain why even if Walter White is the one who knocks, everyone is probably too preoccupied to come to the door.

    tv show gifs

  • Apple Stores begin prepaid activations for T-Mobile, AT&T iPhones [u]
    [Update: Apple also offering AT&T GoPhone prepaid iPhones as well] As rumored, Apple has begun doing in-store activations of iPhones on prepaid carriers. The first carrier to confirm this is T-Mobile, which is running a related promotional sale. People who buy a new iPhone with a prepaid plan are eligible for a $50 discount, so long as a device is activated in-store, and they sign up for “$50 or $70 worth of service.” Shoppers opting for a Simple Choice postpaid plan instead can get a $50 iTunes gift card. T-Mobile hasn’t announced an end date for the deals.

  • College Professors Read Bad Online Reviews Of Themselves (VIDEO)
    You’ve probably seen Jimmy Kimmel’s brilliant segment where celebrities read mean Tweets about themselves.

    In a similar vein, The Peak, the student newspaper of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, recently put together a clip of college professors at the school reading online reviews of their classes.

    While reviews submitted to the school and websites like Rate My Professors might not be as brutal as Twitter, this feedback must be hard to swallow.

  • Twitter Celebrates Ramadan 2014 With 'Hashflags' And Much More
    Ramadan 2014 is upon us and Twitter is joining in the celebrations this year with special icons, instant iftar times, and an interactive map.

    Ahmad AbouAmmo, Twitter’s Head of Media Partnerships for the MENA region, rolled out the new features with a blog post, saying, “Ramadan is an important event around the world — full of celebration, friends and families. We look forward to seeing how many of you come together to share these special moments on Twitter.”

    So what can we look forward to this year?

    1. Special ‘Hashflags’

    When you hashtag your tweets with #Ramadan or #Eid, a small crescent moon or Eid icon will appear after the words. World Cup fans will recognize this feature, which has places country flags after tweets hashtagged with participating teams.


    2. Personalized Iftar Times

    Al Arabiya has partnered with Twitter to offer a location-specific service that tells you when you can break your fast each day. By tweeting @AlArabiya with the hashtag #iftar followed by the hashtagged name of your city (ie #London), you will get a reply with the correct iftar time. This also works for the beginning of the fast, with the hashtag #imsak instead of #iftar.


    3. Tweet Map

    Ramadan will be celebrated by millions of people across the globe, and now you can see exactly where people are talking and tweeting about it with an interactive map made by Simon Rogers. The map also tracks common Ramadan greetings, plans, and feelings. Click below to explore.


    4. Special Ramadan TV Content

    Some TV shows have been created just for Ramadan, with corresponding Twitter accounts for the characters.

    Response to Twitter’s holiday gesture has been positive so far.





    #RamadanKareem from @HuffPostRelig ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

  • These Google Doc Spreadsheets Have LGBT Pride And It Is Perfect
    We never thought it was possible that a spreadsheet could celebrate LGBT pride — or get us even remotely excited — but Google has found a way to make both happen.

    And it is fabulous.

    Currently, in honor of LGBT Pride Month, there is a hidden easter egg in Google Doc spreadsheets. All you have to do to activate it is type in the letters below.

    Happy (virtual) Pride!

  • Have You Ever Had Sex With Someone You Met On The Internet? Jimmy Kimmel Wants To Know
    The World Wide Web can answer pretty much everything, but Jimmy Kimmel has one question that still remains: Have you ever had sex with someone you met on the Internet?

    Let’s face it. More often than not, that person you swipe right in Tinder isn’t Mr. Right. But who’s to say they can’t be Mr. (or Mrs.) Right Now?

    Kimmel sent his cameras out to Hollywood Boulevard to find out in the latest “Pedestrian Question.”

    “Jimmy Kimmel Live” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.

  • Kim Kardashian's Video Game Makes The Quest For Fame Seem Tedious And Exhausting
    I spent a couple of hours playing Kim Kardashian’s newly released iOS game, “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” and all I learned is that the quest for fame and fortune — specifically when you don’t have actual talent — is tedious and exhausting.

    It’s fitting that the goal of the game is to rise from a lowly store clerk to a bonafide celebrity by gaining fans and working your way up from the E- to A-lister status — because who knows the ropes better than Kim Kardashian?

    After downloading the (thankfully) free game on my iPhone, I was able to customize an avatar to vaguely resemble myself, and begin my journey to stardom. After working a shift at the So Chic boutique, adjusting mannequins and folding shirts, my avatar finally got to lock up for the night. Who should appear then but Kim K of course, asking if the store was still open. (Of course! Anything for you, Kim.)

    After hooking Kim up with a hot red dress (that I had to insist on not charging her for), she invited me along to a photo shoot. Of course she tells me to wear something “dressier” than my old crop top and jeans, and I changed into a body-hugging white cut-out dress, that Kim actually wore on a date night with Kanye back in October.

    Players gain fame by completing tasks, so after helping out at Kim’s photo shoot, she set me up with a manager, who later hooked me up with a publicist. During the course of the game I’m introduced to various models, moguls, paparazzi and more people who can allegedly help me on my journey to the A-list. I’m repeatedly asked if I want to either flirt with or network with any of these people, and each choice affects my future. Later, Kim tells me that one way to gain fame is to date other famous people. Because, duh.

    kim kardashian video game

    One progressive aspect to the game is that my avatar was actually asked which gender I was interested in dating, before I met up with a male model of Kim’s choosing.

    kim kardashian game

    Over the course of the couple hours I played the game, my avatar did three photo shoots, walked a runway show, worked two shifts folding clothes, started a feud with another celebrity wannabe, went to a club opening in Miami and threw a drink in said wannabe’s face, was photographed by the paparazzi and took the bus between Downtown LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and LAX dozens of times. (Why my avatar wasn’t practical enough to save for a car while living in Los Angeles is beyond me).

    When all was said and done and I could no longer stand all the phone calls from my manager Simon telling me a gig materialized, I was exhausted. Yes, trying to get famous while having no talent is really tiring. That also might explain why my avatar was repeatedly told that I didn’t have enough energy to finish my tasks, and was asked if I wanted to purchase — with real money, naturally — more stars that would give me energy. (You didn’t think a Kardashian would put out a game that was completely free, did you?)

    In the end, the constant travel and repetitive nature of the fame game itself — coupled with my avatar’s lack of energy (aka my lack of willingness to shell out actual cash on the game) — kept me from ascending to the top of the A-list. But you know what they say, it takes money to make money. Which is something the Kardashians know all too well.

    Perhaps what is saddest about the game in general is how much it likely mirrors Kardashian’s own life, with an endless string of photo shoots, promotional duties and club openings. It’s a reminder of exactly what she has to do every day to make sure the world still knows she exists.

  • This Jaw-Dropping Video Reveals How To Make Things Invisible
    How can you make something invisible, that is, without using a cloak? This easy experiment just might be the “solution.”

    A new YouTube video from At-Bristol, a science center in England, shows how you can use light to make something disappear in the blink of an eye. Just check it out above.

    All you need is a couple of pyrex glasses and a sweetener called glycerol — if you can’t find that, vegetable oil and baby oil will also work. You might want to grab a pair of gloves too, because the experiment can get a bit sticky.

    “Here I have a beaker full of glycerol,” science educator Ross Exton says in the video. “If I take a pyrex test tube and place it into the beaker, we can still see it because of the air in the tube — but if I dip it just below the surface, it vanishes.”


    But as Exton explains, the reason for this isn’t magic. See, in a beaker of normal water, “as light passes from one material to another, it changes speed and direction,” Exton says in the video, “allowing us to the see edges of the tube.”

    That’s because the beaker and the water have different so-called refractive index, meaning light travels through them at different speeds.

    What makes glycerol so special is it has the same refractive index as pyrex glass — so when light passes through a beaker full of glycerol, it doesn’t change speed and direction. And as a result, it doesn’t reveal the test tube hidden inside. Voila!

  • I Started the First Gay Pride Celebration in My Town After My Facebook Event Went Viral
    This story was produced in partnership with Facebook Stories. Submit your own Facebook story here.

    My spouse Shronn and I have been married for 14 years. Each year we drive an hour away to Tulsa for the pride parade, but this year we had plans to be out of town so I wanted to do something earlier in the month to celebrate with some friends. I thought we could bring out a rainbow flag and have a picnic in our backyard. I created an open Facebook event so friends could invite friends, but I only expected about 15 people tops.

    I had no idea I was about to create the first gay pride event in my hometown of Tahlequah, Okla.

    Within a week, 50 people had joined the Facebook event. Then it was 100. I realized this would spill out of my yard and into the park by my house. I had to get a permit from the city so we could do the picnic there instead. And the event was still growing. People I had never met were RSVPing and inviting their friends.

    My wife and I, along with a few friends, worked together to organize everything. Shronn got a flash mob together to dance. Drag queens from Tulsa volunteered to perform. A DJ offered his services. Local vendors wanted to set up booths.

    This was such a different experience than a decade ago when I was president of the Young Allied Gays group in college and we couldn’t get support from any businesses or organizations. We’d get something like cups from a local business and they’d want to make sure we didn’t name them as a supporter. Now, every vendor in town wanted to help.

    The RSVPs continued to pour in.

    It wasn’t just people from the LGBTQ2 — Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited — community. It was straight allies and heterosexual families, too.

    The event had taken on a life of its own. It really showed the need and desire for something like this in our town. I had an elderly couple tell me that they never thought they’d see the day when this could happen here.

    Of course, all of this wasn’t without some controversy. We heard that some people had called the city to complain about our upcoming event, but the city stood by us and let us use the park as planned.

    On the day of the picnic, we were excited but braced for protestors and drama. Thankfully, that’s not what we found. The whole day was so positive from start to finish. About 600 people showed up, which was huge for our town of around 16,000. My favorite part was how many people brought their kids. There were probably 100 kids running around with flags, face paint and balloons. I had people tell me that they were so happy to be able to take their family to something like this.

    Another special moment was talking to a teenager I recognized from seeing around town over the past few years. Every time I used to see him, I felt this need to give him a smile or an affirming nod because I could tell he was gay and I wanted to let him know he wasn’t alone. At the picnic we were able to finally meet and talk, and I told him I had been trying to look out for him. He told me his mother was “coming around” to the reality that he was gay. The picnic was his first pride event and the first time he’d seen drag queens. It made my day to see him there having such a good time.

    The group of us who had organized the event had such a passion for what we were doing, we knew we wanted to keep things going after the picnic. We filed paperwork to become a non-profit organization called TahlEquality. We’ll be raising money and developing community outreach programs for young people who identify as LGBTQ2 or who are struggling with their sexuality.

    The picnic will go on, too. We’ve decided we want this to be an annual event in Pride Month, and we’ve already reserved the park for next year and have a list of about 100 vendors who are interested in participating. We’re excited to see it get bigger and better every year.

    I might not have set out to do this originally, but I’m proud we could show our neighbors that we are not just a few “others” down the street. We’re a whole community who are raising children, paying taxes, living, dreaming and loving in every corner of our town.

    Carden Crow is a journalist in Tahlequah, Okla. Donate to TahlEquality here.

  • Smartphones: The New Cigarettes?
    I’ve never been a smoker, but I’d like to think that what I’ve seen from my smoker friends has given me enough of a window into the relationship that they have with their cigarettes.

    They have a habit of impatiently twiddling their fingers, an anxiety for which the only salve seems to be a firm grasp on their pack of cigarettes and to politely excuse themselves before retreating to a designated smokers’ area. If we happen to be somewhere that smoking is allowed, they light up and shut themselves off from socializing until their cigarette has burned out.

    Sounds an awful lot like how many of us behave when it comes to our smartphones, doesn’t it?

    There’s the same, ceaseless desire to reach into our pockets to check our text messages, emails, Facebook and Twitter feeds lest we fall out of the loop for 10 whole minutes. There’s the same social black hole that forms when we’re doing so, often when we’re in the middle of conversations with other people physically present. And it’s not until we answer that email or text, are updated on someone’s social media status or look up an inane “Did you know?” fact that’s been nagging us that we return to the world of the conversationally competent.

    An addiction to cigarettes threatens to do significant damage to one’s physical health. When it comes to smartphone addiction, it’s our social health that we should worry about.

    “You just need an ability to be yourself and no be doing something,” Louis C.K. explained to Conan O’Brien last September. “That’s what the phones are taking away, is the ability to just sit there … That’s being a person.”

    Whereas a cigarette addict craves nicotine, smartphone addicts crave something to fill those moments of “forever empty,” as Louis C.K. called it. Those idle moments when we’re overcome by a fatalistic feeling that “it’s all for nothing and you’re alone.” What does it say about our devolving social habits that we’re starting to treat the time we spend with others as one of those idle moments? Why do we need the reassurance of being plugged-in to not feel alone even if we’re surrounded by other people?

    It’s starting to cost us the ability to just sit there and engage in conversation. An actual, honest-to-goodness conversation without smartphone-induced interruptions every 10 minutes. An honest-to-goodness conversation where the only interruption is when other people arrive, say “Hi” and join in.

    For the most part, we’ve started to wean ourselves off of cigarettes, armed with the knowledge that it was the nicotine telling us that we needed to smoke. Now it’s time to similarly wean ourselves off of smartphones when it comes at the expense of our social interactions. It’s when we stop depending on them to make ourselves feel less alone that we can actually look up and acknowledge anyone and everyone who’s around us, rendering that feeling harmlessly moot.

  • If 'Game Of Thrones' Were Made On An '80s VHS, It Would Be Like This (No Spoilers)
    If you were born in the ’80s or earlier, then you probably have a deep appreciation for the HD clarity we get to watch TV in today. But what if your favorite show (“Game of Thrones” ahem, ahem) was shown on VHS?

    The intro would probably look exactly like the video above.

    You’re welcome in advance for the nostalgia and lack of spoilers.

Mobile Technology News, June 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.

  • The Weather Channel for iPad App Finally Gets an iOS 7 Update

    The Weather Channel for iPad app has received a much overdue update that brings it more inline with the look and feel of iOS 7.  The update, which is free and in the app store now, gives the iPad version a similar look to the recently updated iPhone version of the app. The Weather Channel […]

    The post The Weather Channel for iPad App Finally Gets an iOS 7 Update appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Apple Seeds OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 Beta

    One week after the last beta, Apple has released the 4th beta for OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 to their developer community.  Build 13E25 hit the developer portal earlier today and has developers continuing to focus on the same key areas as it has been in previous beta releases. This latest beta asks developers to focus […]

    The post Apple Seeds OS X Mavericks 10.9.4 Beta appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • (VIDEO) Mobile Has Become the "Dominant Digital Advertising Platform," GroupM's Rob Norman
    From being a niche advertising sector not too long ago, mobile advertising has fast become the dominant digital advertising platform, says Rob Norman, Chief Digital Officer of GroupM Worldwide in this interview with Beet.TV   The rapid  transformation has been propelled by Facebook and Twitter, he explains.

    The transformation to mobile provides new opportunities and challenges to marketers and their agencies, he notes.  Also in the interview he talks about the rise of “native advertising.”

    We interviewed him during the Cannes Lions Festival at the MediaCom rooftop terrace of the Hotel Martinez.

    Please find much more coverage of Cannes Lions on this page.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • IT firms top government spend list
    IT companies benefited most from government contracts in 2012 and 2013, an analysis of public spending suggests.
  • Costco online now carrying iPhones, iPads at up to $121 discount
    Nearly four years after Costco and Apple had a falling out that resulted in the discount chain pulling all Apple products from its warehouse outlets, the discounter is now again selling iPhones and iPads, albeit in a limited fashion for the time being in its US stores. After first bringing back iTunes gift cards to the stores, the Costco Mobile online store is now carrying 16GB models of the iPhone 5s and 5c, as well as the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, with discounts as high as $121 off retail.

  • If This Note Doesn't Convince Your Boss To Let You Watch The U.S. Soccer Game, Nothing Will
    Really want to watch the U.S.-Germany game on Thursday, but don’t know how you’re going to get off work? The U.S. men’s soccer team has you covered.

    The team’s official Twitter feed sent a ready-to-go get-out-of-work note to its one million followers on Wednesday. And, well, it’s pretty perfect:

    us letter

    We also transcribed it in case it’s hard to read in its original form format whatever reason:

    To whom it may concern:

    Please excuse _____________ from work on Thursday, June 26th.

    I understand that this absence may reduce the productivity of your workplace, but I can assure you that it is for an important cause. The #USMNT has a critical World Cup game vs. Germany and we will need the full support of the nation if we are to advance to the next round.

    By the way, you should act like a good leader and take the day off as well. Go USA!

    If your boss doesn’t let you root for your country after reading that, well, then maybe you need to find a new boss. The game is at 12 p.m. EST.

  • VIDEO: Police capture crime scenes in 3D
    Police forces are using the latest scanning technologies to record crime scenes
  • Two Of The Nation's Largest Library Systems Will Start Lending Wi-Fi
    As libraries around the country make the shift to web-savvy information and resource hubs, two of the nation’s largest public library systems will soon start lending the Internet itself.

    Patrons of the New York City and Chicago Public Library systems will be able to check out high speed mobile Wi-Fi hot spots thanks to a pair of digital innovation grants awarded Monday by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

    The two public library systems were among the 19 winners of the Knight News Challenge, in which more than 700 applicants vied for grants by submitting proposals aimed at “strengthening the Internet for free expression and innovation.”

    Under Chicago’s $400,000 “Internet To Go” program, patrons will be able to check out Wi-Fi hotspot devices for up to three weeks at a time. A spokesperson for CPL told The Huffington Post that the library has no launch date for the program just yet, but it will start in six neighborhood branches where Internet adopting rates are “particularly low.”

    The program will also include one-on-one digital literacy and skills coaching, according to the Knight Foundation.

    With New York City’s half-million dollar grant for their “Check Out The Internet” initiative starting in September, patrons will be able to check out a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to one year. Currently, 27 percent of New York city households lack access to broadband Internet, according to the Knight Foundation.

    The Wi-Fi lending programs could have implications for library systems outside major metro areas, as well. As City Lab notes, the New York proposal already includes plans to share the program’s insights with the state library systems of Kansas and Maine.

  • Amazon Fire Phone: An #EpicFail
    Amazon Fire Phone

    Amazon finally unveiled its long-awaited smartphone, the Fire Phone. #epicfail #at&texclusiveareyoukidding #tooheavyandawkward #toolate #seenitbefore #wherearetheapps #shouldhavecalledzuckandaskedfirst #jeffwhatwereyouthinking

    Built around the Amazon Prime experience, the Fire Phone runs the same heavily tweaked version of Android found on the Kindle Fire. That means it’ll have access to the 240,000+ apps in the Amazon Appstore, but not every app in the Google Play store (which is roughly five times as big as Amazon’s Appstore). What’s missing? Most notably Snapchat and YouTube.

    Firefly and the Amazon Experience

    The phone is a market leader in one category: helping you buy stuff from Amazon. That’s thanks to the phone’s “Firefly” feature, which is “basically an everything-scanner.” Once you open up the Firefly app (via a dedicated button on the side of the phone), you can point your phone at just about any item — a DVD, a bottle of water or any number of 70 million other products — and the Fire Phone will display it on Amazon. Firefly can also scan text like phone numbers, restaurant signs and QR codes, then identify that text to make calls, create contacts, send emails, go to websites and more.

    Amazon Fire Phone's Firefly

    Firefly also recognizes a quarter of a million movies and TV shows and 160 live TV channels. It taps into Amazon’s X-Ray feature to show you relevant info about what you’re watching, like the cast and plot. Like Shazam, Firefly can recognize songs, then let you download those songs or add them to a Wish List. Unlike Shazam, you can then use that information to buy concert tickets on StubHub or create an iHeartRadio station around that song.


    Inside, the phone has a 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 2 GB of RAM, a battery that Amazon says should last “all day” and a 13 MP camera (that can also shoot 1080p video).

    The standout hardware feature is the phone’s four cameras positioned at the four corners of the phone’s 4.7-inch screen. These cameras create “Dynamic Perspective,” a custom-designed sensor system that responds to the way you hold and look at your phone.

    What’s that mean? If you’re buying a Yankees ticket on Stubhub, you can look 90 degrees to the left and right of your seat like you’re in the stadium. It also means that the phone can access hidden panels or perform shortcuts based on the way you tilt your phone. The feature also helps you read books or long web pages without ever touching the screen.

    Odds, Ends and Nice Features

    Amazon’s 24/7 tech support feature, “Mayday,” is also included in the Fire Phone. First included in the most recent wave of Kindle Fire tablets, Mayday offers free, live, on-device tech support where Amazon’s experts will guide you through any issues you’re having on your device. Amazon also says you can get Mayday help in 15 seconds or less, with no waiting in line and no appointments required.

    Amazon’s also offering some nice free perks with the device. The big add-in is a free year of Amazon Prime (normally $99) with every phone purchase. If you’re a Prime customer already, Amazon will tack on 12 months to your subscription. Amazon’s also including 1,000 Amazon Coins (a $10 value) for apps, games and in-app purchases with the phone. Finally, for photo fanatics, Amazon is offering free unlimited Cloud Drive storage for pictures you take with the Fire Phone.

    The Fire Phone will be an AT&T exclusive (at least to start), and is now available for pre-order (to launch on July 25). It’ll run you $200 for the 32GB version and $300 for the 64GB model along with the standard two-year contract.

    Amazon Fire Phone

    Should You Buy One?

    If you live in the Amazon ecosystem — if you’re a Prime customer, addicted to Amazon Instant Video, newly-launched Amazon Prime Music and the Kindle Owners Lending Library — this phone was made for you. It’s the best parts of Amazon condensed into a device small enough to fit into your pocket.

    For everyone else, the phone is good, but not a must-own device. While the hardware is acceptable, the app offerings will leave sophisticated users wanting. The phone also doesn’t have Bluetooth LE, which is bad news for wearables. It was also rumored that Amazon might offer the phone for free or underwrite service costs, but neither of those happened, which is a big relief to other Android manufacturers. More importantly, the Firefly technology will undoubtedly end up as an app, or be given away free to other manufacturers, when Amazon realizes that it cannot sell enough phones by itself.

    While I’m hugely impressed with the nascent image recognition software and I am sure it is the beginning of a new era in mobile assisted living, for all but the biggest Amazon junkies, it may be early to jump into the Fire.

  • Too Much Information!
    I have a quote on my desk by the iconic 20th century photographer Ansel Adams, whose beautiful and meticulously crafted landscapes are breathtaking tributes both to the beauty of the American west and the power of flawlessly executed art. While his photos appear to capture and represent the spectacular power of pure nature, seemingly untouched by modern man, Adams used large-format cameras for high resolution, filters to highlight contrasts, and the Zone System, a technique he pioneered to achieve the best film exposure and development.

    “There is nothing worse,” Adams said, “than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.”

    Wise words for marketers and communications experts these days.

    In this age of almost unfathomable depth and accuracy of measurement, we are able to capture sharper images of audience, reach, interaction and engagement than ever before. With real-time analysis, brands are now able to inform their communications and marketing initiatives with extreme precision.

    So why must we wade through so many fuzzy concepts?

    Perhaps it is because there is a big difference between information and insight. And while insight is what everybody claims to want, it is information that many organizations are drawn to in an attempt to increase their odds for success.

    Who can blame them? They are suddenly competing and engaging in more markets, on more platforms, with more people than ever before. If they are told that there is a tool that will exponentially increase their ability to understand and speak authentically with their increasingly diverse and dispersed stakeholders, how could they possibly pass on that opportunity?

    My frustration rests more with the communications professionals and brand managers whose passion, faith and wishful thinking for measurement is eclipsing their ability to think strategically. And who are downgrading the value of creativity, insight and strategy by overselling the capabilities of what are essentially just tools. Amazing, powerful tools — but only as useful as the minds that employ them and the insights and actions they inform.

    Still, some agencies and organizations are like an over-equipped armies whose generals believe there is a military solution to every problem. Resources have been allocated, on both the client and agency sides, to develop, procure and employ these tools. So dammit, we are going to use them.

    And we should use them. Not the other way around.

    I love the power and efficiency of digital measurement, but I am beginning to fear that too much information is not inspiring insights, and driving greater levels of creativity and boldness, but rather drowning them in rising floodwaters of data.

    With such incredible tools of research and discovery now readily available, there is the expectation that every idea can and must be reduced to quantifiable fact to ensure success. And if an idea can’t — if it is too new, too strange, too risky — then it is smarter and safer to go with the idea that can be justified with data.

    We want the tools to do the critical thinking for us. And that is just not how it works.

    The magic — and power — of unexpected and well-executed creativity is in its ability to surprise and amaze. Rarely does that spark survive when it is forced to consist of and conform to the sum total of its parts. When the expectation is that everything can be clearly quantified, the goal is to leave no room for error. Instead, it often leaves no room for surprise.

    The elimination of surprises — pleasant and unpleasant alike — may be in some way reassuring to the most devout digital fanatics, and the brand managers who have fallen under their spells. But it is utter, dreary tedium for consumers — and a veritable death knell for the kind of passionate, deeply resonant engagement that forges lifelong relationships with brands.

    When metrics and measurement drive the creative process rather than inform it, they quickly become a weak proxy for insightful, inspired thinking. Adams passionately understood the critical need for technical expertise — but in the service of creative vision, not at the expense of it. If we don’t maintain that same careful balance as we hurtle towards ever-greater levels of innovation and precision, we could easily see the stunning panoramas of great brands slowly reduced to an endless series of hastily snapped, uninspiring digital snapshots.

  • Protesters interrupt Google event
    Google has announces a raft of new services and products at its annual developer event – but its event is twice interrupted by protests.
  • Google Wants You To Put This Piece Of Cardboard On Your Face
    At Google’s annual developers conference on Wednesday, the company spent hours talking up various new thingamajigs. But perhaps the most striking thingamajig of them all was this cardboard contraption Google wants you to wear on your face.

    google cardboard

    The contraption, which Google is calling Cardboard, is meant to turn your Android smartphone into a “no-frills” virtual-reality headset. Is this one of Google’s very elaborate pranks? Maybe. But Google at the very least handed out kits to make Cardboard to some lucky developers on Wednesday. There’s even an official Google page and Google Play app for it.

    GIF via Engadget

    Even if Cardboard works as advertised, it clearly still is more PR push than mass-appeal product. Like a Google Doodle, it’s the fun sort of project the company occasionally undertakes to bolster its cool factor.

    Google also posted online instructions on how to make the headset yourself. But that requires buying cardboard, magnets, Velcro and lenses and then cutting the cardboard like so:

    google cardboard

    Call us incredulous, but we don’t think this is a weekend DIY project most people will complete. Also, we can’t figure out if you can order the ready-made cardboard cutouts online, which raises some eyebrows.

    Why would you want to literally strap a phone to your face? Google has a few app ideas:

    • “Earth: Fly where your fancy takes you on Google Earth.”
    • “Tour Guide: Visit Versailles with a local guide.”
    • “YouTube: Watch popular YouTube videos on a massive screen.”
    • “Exhibit: Examine cultural artifacts from every angle.”
    • “Photo Sphere: Look around the photo spheres you’ve captured.”
    • “Street Vue: Drive through Paris on a summer day.”
    • “Windy Day: Follow the story (and the hat) in this interactive animated short from Spotlight Stories.”

    Google said that two employees working in Paris, David Coz and Damien Henry, came up with the idea for Cardboard as part of the company’s famed “20 percent time” program, in which workers are encouraged to take a fifth of their time at work to explore their own ideas.

    While it’s likely that, yes, Google isn’t serious about convincing the masses to adopt Cardboard, serious Silicon Valley money has been being throw at virtual reality tech lately. In March, Facebook bought the maker of the VR-headset Oculus Rift for $2 billion. So it’ll be no surprise to see Google eventually wade into the virtual waters seriously someday, too.

  • VIDEO: Protester interrupts Google event
    One Google’s biggest events of the year, its I/O conference held in San Francisco, is interrupted by protests.
  • The Fall of Facebook – and What's Next
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    Today, we live in a world where our identities are defined by a collection of our posts, comments, and photos. Advertisers and marketers analyze this content to make predictions about us, gleaning hidden details from the hints we leave behind. In fact, Facebook opened labs this past year to surface more information from our data. However, most of us would argue that our online identities are not who we really are. Rather, it’s the mask we have to wear in today’s social Internet.

    My team in Berkeley wondered how many people knew they live a double life on online networks. The idea though was not so simple so we wondered if we could produce an engaging visualization that demonstrated the concept. For the last few years, my team had been building tools to predict the impacts of political decisions so we had a knack for making interesting web visuals.

    After a few weeks of tinkering with ideas, we came up with a novel concept called Five Labs that predicts your personality based on your Facebook posts, utilizing a language analysis method designed at the University of Pennsylvania. When we launched, our application saw a flood of interest. Publications from The New York Times to The Economist wrote pieces on it. By the first week, we had analyzed over 200 million personalities.


    Although many of the app’s predictions mirrored people’s own self-images, one of the broadest sentiments was that we captured something very interesting: the discrepancy between a person’s online identity and their real-life identity.

    However, this discrepancy has been fueled by more than just our concerns about how an employer or family member might perceive us online. There’s a much more fundamental reason for us creating this false identity: when we broadcast on social media, we don’t know who’s listening.

    Because of this, we’re not able to tailor our message for specific contexts like we do in person. For instance, a dinner table conversation with our parents will invariably be different than one with our college roommates. So instead, we construct vanilla profiles, focused on announcements that generally make us look good. And thus, Facebook is now less of a place to socialize and more of a repository of how we would all like to be perceived: our own individually-authored Wikipedia profiles if you will.

    Most people forget but Facebook was a much different place in the early days. Connecting people in context was the main value to its users. Your posts were visible by only those in your college network–people of your age, who spoke your language and understood your struggles.

    This spawned an intimacy that made many of fall in love with the network. You could have unfiltered and serendipitous conversations with your friends and acquaintances–whether about politics, music, or just shooting the breeze. It felt like real-life. You could almost say it was like an Internet house party, a term I’m borrowing from technologist Josh Miller.

    As the network absorbed new demographics outside of college campuses, the original privacy model that it operated under faded. As a quick bandaid, Facebook adopted arcane privacy-filters that were so detached from our existing patterns of communication that few knew how to use them. Thus, without knowing who might be listening to us, most of us just ended up keeping quiet.

    It’s starting to become clear that it may not be possible to return to the rich network we saw in the early days, if Facebook is in the driver seat. For better or for worse, many young people have resorted to photo-centric networks like SnapChat and Instagram, where the users are largely their own peer groups. Context on these networks was not part of the product’s original aim; it was largely a side-effect since new social technology is adopted by young people first anyway. So as the next wave of adoption comes from older demographics, it is possible that we’ll see these networks get displaced as well.

    As vapid as social networks might seem to outsiders, communication is vitally important to our lives. It helps us feel connected and it can create real value for society. Mobile phones, after all, have substantially reduced poverty across Africa.

    Over the last year, my team has been focused on creating a network of private conversations called Five. It will allow us to engage online in an intimate setting like we did in Facebook’s heyday.

    Perhaps with Five, we might be able to take off the mask we’ve all been wearing for the past few years.

    We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com.

  • Susan Sarandon's 'Thelma and Louise' Throwback Selfie and Other Selfies We Love
    Last week, Susan Sarandon posted a selfie of herself with Geena Davis, her Thelma and Louise co-star. She wrote, “Inventors of the #selfie at it again. #ThelmaAndLouise.” The photo recreated the unforgettable snapshot that the two actresses take of themselves in the Oscar-winning 1991 buddy film. (Incidentally, Thelma and Louise wasn’t just a masterpiece. It also helped ignite the career of one of the supporting actors in the film — a guy named Brad Pitt.)

    And so it appears that the selfie isn’t entirely a new invention. It’s just that these days, they are such powerful tools of communication. With one simple snapshot, the selfie is a unique way to be intimate with a celebrity or get a glimpse into their life. The star can tell a story or send a very personal message like no other. As James Franco — who has been called “the selfie king” — wrote in The New York Times this past December, “Selfies are avatars: Mini-Me’s that we send out to give others a sense of who we are… I am actually turned off when I look at an account and don’t see any selfies, because I want to know whom I’m dealing with. In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, ‘Hello, this is me.'”

    To honor the trailblazing Sarandon and Davis, check out these memorable celebrity selfies in this Parade story.

  • The Best Websites For Getting Designer Furniture At Bargain Prices
    Spring has come and gone and the only “refreshing” you managed to get done was finally getting your duvet into the washing machine. We get it — upgrading your home takes time and, well, money.

    And we all approach that refresh differently. For some of us there’s the friends and family discount or sample sale. For others, there are the retail websites whose singular mission is to bring us designer furniture at bargain prices — which, let’s face it, are the best kind of retail websites there are. And with these we’re talking old favorites and late adopters to the online shopping scene; those places where eBay meets designer showrooms and relationship-ending meltdowns don’t exist. (Yes, we’re looking at you, IKEA.)

    Here’s why we love them and why you should love them, too.

    This five-year-old flash-sale site is still the place to go for new and vintage home goods and daily inspiration by way of its editorially-driven blog.
    online furniture
    What You’ll Find: Timeless pieces like silver mint julep cups, chinoiserie furniture and all manner of thing evoking the French countryside. “New” classics, including blue and white Hmong textiles, brass animals and vintage matchstrikers are also often thrown into the mix.
    Price Range: Accessories to furniture from $6 to roughly $5,000
    Good To Know: One Kings Lane’s vintage team is comprised of merchants with specialized academic and professional backgrounds in the antique and vintage industry.

    This 70,000-member marketplace (pronounced “curb”) is about buying and selling locally. Since its founding, the site has offered a shipping option for decor-hunters who want to buy one-of-a-kind items in other cities.
    furniture websites
    Price Range: High-end designer items range from $800 (for lamps and small furnishings) to $10,000 (for large pieces).
    What You’ll Find: Everything from late 19th century furniture, a Victorian aquarium and iconic mid-century designs, including Adrian Pearsall tables and Herman Miller Eames loungers in pristine condition. A recent luxury collection featured the stunning pair of Dux Folke Ohlsson chairs, shown here.
    Good To Know: Although the Krrb classifieds are billed as being “gloriously uncurated,” they actually are edited by Krrb staffers to make sure that the listings remain free of mass-produced items.

    Viyet, which originally launched in April 2013 and relaunched earlier this month, takes reselling furniture to the next level.
    furniture sites
    What You’ll Find: The top echelon of the home furnishings market, including brands like Holly Hunt, Hickory Chair, Baker and Knoll, which are largely only available to-the-trade only.
    Price Range: The average resale price point on Viyet is $1,800 (a mark down from an average retail price of $4,600, CEO, Elizabeth Brown notes).
    Good To Know: You won’t find any low-quality camera phone photos of the items you’re shopping for here. After potential consignors submit their items for consideration through an online submission form, items are vetted to assume that they meet the site’s basic criteria: designer brand; retail value of over $1,000 for furniture, $500 for lighting, and $100 for accessories; good or like-new condition or the ability to be restored to those conditions with a little TLC. If they pass the test, every piece on the site is photographed professionally in-home, measured, and authenticated.

    Though its primary focus is fashion and beauty, the ingenuity that is The Hunt — a site that uses crowd-sourcing to help you find items you’re looking for — is destined before long to fulfill our home-decor-shopping dreams.

    furniture sites

    What You’ll Find: Any amazing piece you’ve spotted on Pinterest or Tumblr, but weren’t sure where to buy.
    Price Range: It all depends on the retailer where your dream item is sold.
    Good To Know: In addition to crowd-sourcing details on that specific sofa, rug or bedding set, the site also allows you to post a photo of what you’re looking for, specify your budget and the community will find similar suggestions for you.

    Even though it’s backed by e-retailer giant Wayfair.com, the editorial arm of this flash-sale site (run by a former magazine editor) give it a well-curated, not-so-mass-market feel.
    furniture sites
    What You’ll Find: Furniture, housewares, décor accents, lifestyle accessories and giftables of all kinds, including products designed by celebrities such as Courteney Cox, Nicole Richie and Nicholas Sparks among others. The site has also been known to tap leading home design bloggers, interior designers and even boutique hotels to curate sales.
    Price Range: Anywhere from $20 to $50 for smaller accents and kitchen gadgets; $150 to $350 for small scale accent furniture; and $300 to $1,000 for larger case furniture.
    Good To Know: One-of-a-kind items do crop up on the site regularly, as do unique collections like a recent sale, which featured actual props from the set of ABC’s “Modern Family.” Come holiday season, the site also sells fresh-cut Christmas trees.

    Hiring a designer is one way to get your hands on some magazine-worthy, high-end goods, but let’s face it, few of us really have a budget for that. Enter Decorist, who’ll take a photo of your room and send you back two mood boards picked out by a real-life design pro with products within your price range.
    What You’ll Find: Style-based home decor and furniture finds (i.e. if you like modern you won’t see the same items as someone with more traditional taste), plus “bite-sized” design advice through three affordable designer services.
    Price Range: Designer services range from a free designer Q&A to a $169 Mini-Makeover.
    Good To Know: The Decorist experience starts with a proprietary, interactive design profile, from which the site’s team of “treasure-hunters” hand picks every one of the finds customers see. (Translation: You don’t have to sign up for every flash-sale site to find that one perfect rug you’ve been hunting for — these experts will do it for you.)

    In response to customer feedback over the years, flash-sale site Gilt has expanded its offerings to include brands made exclusively for the company and beefed up its mobile presence with app-exclusive sales, first-looks and personalized sales that launch every day, featuring members’ favorite brands and styles.
    online furniture
    What You’ll Find: Home items run the gamut from decor to furniture to bedding. Recent sales included props from Oscar-winning films like Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” (including the actual lifeboat seen in the film, which sold for $40,000!) and Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”
    Price Range: Everyday items start at $20; one of kind items can go from $500 on up.
    Good To Know: Once a week you can find a sale dedicated to pet bedding and tech accessories, on occasion.

    This modern furniture retailer is doing for your home what Zappos did for your wardrobe since it launched last year: Offering designer pieces with a modest price tag — thanks to their behind-the-scenes work cutting out the middleman and allowing people to shop directly from factories — and a no-questions-asked return policy.
    online furniture
    What You’ll Find: Collections offered in the same stores selling Minotti, Flexform, Walter Knoll and other luxury brands… at as much as 50 percent off the in-store price.
    Price Range: From $39 to $3,499, and everything in between.
    Good To Know: Consumers are offered a 30-day home trial period with complimentary shipping and returns to the continental U.S.

    DOT & BO
    This flash-sale site takes some of the pressure off having to decide which home decor piece to buy within the next 24 to 48 hours. Unlike its competition, Dot & Bo runs its sales longer than a day or two.
    online furniture
    What You’ll Find: Modern furniture of all kinds, including the hugely popular mid-century Slope chairs with seat, base, and customizable color options.
    Price Range: Decorative items under $30 to beds and dining tables around the $2,000 mark.
    Good To Know: The site often features custom-made pieces and vintage finds like mid-century credenzas and sideboards, as well as some higher priced items, such as platform beds.

    Have something to say? Check out HuffPost Home on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.


    Are you an architect, designer or blogger and would like to get your work seen on HuffPost Home? Reach out to us at homesubmissions@huffingtonpost.com with the subject line “Project submission.” (All PR pitches sent to this address will be ignored.)

  • RCA Fills Niche Market with Internet Music System
    Remember RCA?

    Remember their logo featuring a dog listening to a gramophone?

    Although it’s not the audio and television giant it used to be, the company is still around and has been developing products for what has become known as “the niche market.”

    Among those products sits an Internet Music System ($199.99), which consists of a seven-inch Android tablet, two speakers, a CD player and radio packaged together in one nice, sleek package.

    The key to the system is the tablet, which connects to the speakers, etc. via Bluetooth technology. Once connected you can use any Android app to stream music to the system or watch a video. You can also use an HDMI cable to attach it to most TV sets.

    The one we played with worked flawlessly, easily connecting to our WIFI network so we could play music we’ve stored on the cloud. The sound from the small, plastic-encased bookshelf speakers was a bit better than we expected, delivering a full range of sound ranging from decent bass to clear, crisp treble.

    We were also able to use the system to play our favorite CDs or CD/RWs consisting of tunes we had downloaded from the Internet.

    The tablet can be docked with the system or removed and used the same way you use any Android tablet. And, since it runs Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean), you can install any of the apps that are available in the Google Play Store.

    The resolution of the tablet isn’t much to write home about. It’s only 800×480, which is a lot less than we’ve come to expect from more expensive models, but it’s more than adequate for streaming music and watching YouTube videos. We suggest attaching it to a high definition monitor or TV for movies, etc.

    Its other key features include:

    • One gigabyte of RAM and four gigabytes of flash memory
    • Up to four and a half hours of battery life
    • A micro SD card slot, micro USB jack, headphone jack and a microphone jack
    • 20 watts of power for each speaker
    • A preset equalizer that can be set to flat, jazz, pop or classical
    • A 27-key remote control

    Overall, this is a nice, inexpensive Internet music/video system that can be used in the bedroom, office or workroom. Although it’s not really “portable,” the built-in battery allows you to move it out to the deck or patio.

    Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman’s Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek. You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net or through his website at www.jocgeek.com.

  • VIDEO: Highlights from Google's I/O event
    Richard Taylor details Google’s new smartwatch, car and television initiatives as well as its new unified look for Android.
  • Android Wear watches go on sale
    Google reveals LG and Samsung are both making their first Android Wear watches available for pre-order and explains how they will work.

Mobile Technology News, June 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.

  • Unique iOS Word Game App: RoJo WORD Free Released

    Word game lovers rejoice! “RoJo WORD Free,” a new version of RoJo WORD by ZiggityZoom, was just released for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It is a universal iOS app that can be played solo or with friends.  RoJo WORD Free (Universal App) – Free – Download Now RoJo WORD (Universal App) – .99 Cents […]

    The post Unique iOS Word Game App: RoJo WORD Free Released appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Survey: 35 percent of Android users might switch to larger iPhone
    A new survey of future smartphone buyers by RBC Capital Markets suggests that a new iPhone with a larger display could help Apple chip away at some of Samsung and other rivals’ sales of Android-based big-screen smartphones and “phablets.” Analyst Amit Daryanani, who recently raised his 12-month target price for AAPL stock to $100, told investors that the study showed that screen size was a significant factor in consumer resistance to buying an iPhone.

  • iWork for iCloud Now Remembers Last Document Edited

    Apple has quietly updated the iWork for iCloud apps which now remember which file you were editing last in each of the applications, Keynote, Numbers and Pages. The new feature means that not only with the iWork for iCloud apps remember the file you were working on but it will remember your location within that […]

    The post iWork for iCloud Now Remembers Last Document Edited appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Analysts update price targets for AAPL on strength of iPhone
    Analyst Charlie Wolf of investment firm Needham has taken the unusual step of breaking his twice-yearly cycle of AAPL price target updates, revising a forecast announced back before the most recent stock split that has remained “underwater” — below the trading price — since well before the split occurred. Wolf’s previous guess of $590 (or a split-adjusted $86.32), issued back in February, has now been upgraded to a conservative $97 target. Other analysts have also raised their estimates for the company recently.

  • Federal Judge Rules Warrantless Bulk Surveillance Is Legal
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has affirmed the legality of the U.S. government’s bulk collection of phone and email data from foreign nationals living outside the country — including their contact with U.S. citizens — in denying a man’s motion to dismiss his terrorism conviction.

    It was the first legal challenge to the government’s bulk data-collection program of non-U.S. citizens living overseas after revelations about massive, warrantless surveillance were made public by former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden. The program also sweeps up information about U.S. citizens who have contact with overseas suspects. This type of surveillance played a key role in this case.

    Lawyers for Mohamed Mohamud, a U.S. citizen who lived in Oregon, tried to show the program violated his constitutional rights and was more broadly unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Garr King on Tuesday denied that effort.

    The ruling also upheld Mohamud’s conviction on terrorism charges. In his decision, King rejected the argument from Mohamud’s attorneys that prosecutors failed to notify Mohamud of information derived under the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act until he was already convicted.

    Suppressing the evidence collected “and a new trial would put defendant in the same position he would have been in if the government notified him of the (surveillance) at the start of the case,” King wrote. “Dismissal is not warranted here.”

    Mohamud’s attorneys argued that such a failure withheld important information from the defense team.

    Mohamud was convicted last year of attempting to detonate a bomb at Portland’s Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in 2010. The purported plot was actually an FBI sting, and the bomb was a fake.

    The bulk data collection under FISA permits the U.S. government to sweep up information regarding foreign nationals “reasonably believed” to be outside the U.S. But it also includes the incidental collection of data from U.S. citizens communicating with people in other countries.

    That was the case with Mohamud, whose email communications with two terror suspects were used as evidence at his trial.

    Both of those men, U.S. citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, were killed in drone strikes in 2011. The federal government classified the men as enemy combatants. On Monday, a federal court released the Justice Department memo justifying their killings.

    Mohamud also communicated with a friend who was believed to have traveled to Pakistan to attend a terrorist training camp, according to evidence presented at the trial.

    Other potential challenges to foreign surveillance watched the Portland case closely, said Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Hanni Fakhoury, including a pending challenge in Colorado.

    Mohamud “is at such a significant disadvantage,” Fakhoury said. “He doesn’t even have the evidence to make the challenge. That’s the whole problem in this whole regime of after-the-fact (informing of suspects).”

    Indeed, King said in his ruling that Mohamud’s attorneys didn’t have classified information provided by prosecutors to King, and therefore could only speculate as to the evidence given falsely or omitted by the government.

    “This is insufficient,” King said in the ruling. “I realize the difficult position the defense team is in, but the denial of a (hearing) is commonplace in the FISA context.”

    King held that Mohamud’s most persuasive argument was that, even if the original surveillance were lawful, the subsequent use of that information on a U.S. citizen required a warrant. Previous federal appeals court rulings have said that the government needs a warrant to test pills seized in an unrelated search or to search a computer for more information that the warrant sought.

    Those rulings, the defense argued, meant King should apply the same standard to the evidence seized.

    But King disagreed.

    “I do not find any significant additional intrusion,” King wrote. “Thus, subsequent querying of (collected data), even if U.S. person identifiers are used, is not a separate search and does not make (such surveillance) unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”


    Reach Nigel Duara at http://www.twitter.com/nigelduara .

  • There Are 'Tens Of Billions' Of Habitable Planets In Our Galaxy, Astronomer Seth Shostak Says
    The question of whether humans are alone in the universe may have an answer sooner rather than later.

    The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has always been a needle-in-a-haystack effort, utilizing radio and optical telescopes to seek out alien signals from deep space. In the past few years, thanks to NASA’s extraordinary Kepler spacecraft, many extrasolar planets have been discovered, expanding the potential for finding habitable worlds.

    “Unfortunately, it’s probably still a needle-in-a-haystack because we don’t know how many needles are out there,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute in California.

    “What we do know that we didn’t know, even a year ago, is what fraction of stars have planets that might be habitable,” Shostak told The Huffington Post. “And these days, the answer is maybe one in five. That’s a preliminary analysis of Kepler data. We now know that there are going to be lots of worlds out there where you could have life.

    “The number of habitable worlds in our galaxy is certainly in the tens of billions, minimum, and we haven’t even talked about the moons. You know, moons can be habitable, too. And the number of galaxies we can see, other than our own, is about 100 billion. So 100 billion times 10 billion is a thousand billion billion [habitable planets] in the visible universe,” he said.

    Shostak is featured in Tuesday night’s episode of Science Channel’s “Alien Encounters” series, which explores the idea that an alien presence on Earth has spawned a generation of human-alien hybrids who eventually connect with a powerful quantum super computer. So far, he noted, the concept of one species breeding with another is just the stuff of sci-fi.

    “It’s science fiction, of course, that they’re coming here to breed with us, to make hybrids. We don’t do that with other species of our own planet very often. We might crossbreed a couple species, but nobody here has got experiments to crossbreed humans with mayflies or something like that,” Shostak said.

    “Maybe with parrots — that would be good because then maybe we would live longer, and we’d still be able to talk. We don’t do that kind of thing because it doesn’t make any sense biologically.”

    Given the staggering number of potentially habitable planets now thought to exist by astronomers, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology was interested enough to invite Shostak and Dan Werthimer, director of SETI’s research center at the University of California, Berkeley, to testify before the committee last month. Shostak and Werthimer told lawmakers that more funding would increase SETI’s chances of finding that elusive proof of ET’s existence.

    “I told them it would be a couple of decades,” Shostak said, “and explained to the committee why I thought that was the right time scale to find some sort of life. You might find it in the solar system. You might finally build a telescope that could find oxygen and methane in the atmosphere of nearby planets around other stars — we could build that today except for the fact that there’s no budget, but there may be budget within 20 years to do that. And the third approach, of course, is SETI.”

    “Each of these has a decent chance of succeeding,” he added, “and I also think that one of them will.”

    Watch the full congressional hearing here.

    “Alien Encounters” airs Tuesdays on Science Channel at 10 p.m. Check your local listings for more information.

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  • VIDEO: Where donkeys power the internet
    Herdsmen in Turkey are using solar panels tethered to donkeys to power their internet sessions.
  • Get Organized… from the Road!
    We women entrepreneurs are busy — it’s a fact. These days, that’s the nature of the game. But taking your business to the next level might be easier than you think. After all, who needs more stress?

    When you’re traveling and trying to nail down new business, you don’t want to leave your current customers in the dust or feeling unappreciated. However, you certainly don’t want those potential new customers to end up suffering from a pitch cut short or a mispronounced name. So, what do you do?

    You get with the mobile program.

    Business owners newer to travel may be skeptical, but seasoned traveling professionals know what to do when it comes to staying organized on the road. My first recommendation? Use apps. Check out this suite of professional tools that will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your business, even on the go.

    Amp Up Your Apps for Customer Satisfaction
    Thanks to the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, the time is prime for business owners to go mobile. There are literally iPhone and Android apps for almost anything nowadays. And even if there isn’t an app for something you want, you could even create your own! (But that’s a subject for another article.)

    Tracking and interacting with potential and current customers while on the go is always a challenge. For example, what do you do if you need to complete a customer sale on the fly? You don’t want to put that customer off, lest they decide not to buy from you. Hint: download and use Square. It’s the easiest way out there to accept credit cards on the run. It’s so simple, you can make a customer sale right from your smartphone, with little more than a tap and a swipe. It’s not just convenient; it’s secure. Credit card information is encrypted the moment you swipe. Request your free Square Reader and start taking mobile payments today.

    Is your CRM mobile friendly? Never miss a beat with your customer base with Insightly CRM mobile access. Not only can you download and use the Insightly app on any smartphone or tablet, you can access all these great small business CRM features from either the mobile version on your smartphone or from your computer, making the experience synonymous no matter what device you use to log in. (Pro tip: A new version of the Insightly iOS app is right around the corner.)

    DRIVE Your Success Home
    Sick of dealing with multiple file versions, countless emailed documents, and messy revisions? Keep all your important docs in one place with Google Drive. Google Drive allows you to share documents with your team members and clients from anywhere in the world. Use the “See revision history” tool to review everyone’s changes to your dynamic documents (and to revert to an older version in case of error)!

    Need to have an in-depth group conversation? Try GoToMeeting. This cool conference app allows you to have full-fledged virtual meetings on your iPad, smartphone or any Android device. Seriously, it’s a cinch… with all the bells and whistles you need to make any meeting a success. A cheaper option is join.me. This nifty mobile communication tool lets you share screens with others or join an online meeting at lightning fast speeds.

    “Remember Everything.” How good does THAT sound? That’s the tagline of the handy Evernote app. Keep voice or written notes, store pictures of business cards, receipts and itineraries — nearly any type of note format you can think of — and keep it all organized so you can easily find everything later.

    Between staying in touch, staying productive and keeping everything organized, your business should be in good shape, and so should you — even on the road. You don’t have to use ALL of the apps I’ve mentioned, but dive in and start looking around to see what suits you and your business best. I’ll tell you one thing: when I’m on the go (which is often) I don’t know where I’d be without my apps!

  • Should we fear intelligent robots?
    Should humans fear the intelligent robots of the future?
  • What We Talk About When We Talk About Sharing: 10 Social Media Dos and Don'ts for Filmmakers
    Two weeks ago I introduced the updated Seed & Spark’s Social Media Handbook 2.0  and focused on 10 Tips For Crowdfunding Filmmakers. Since then, you’ve thought carefully about which platforms to focus on. You’ve chosen consistent handles, uploaded profile pics and cover photos that reflect your key art, etc.

    So now what? What exactly do you talk about every day?

    Maintaining social media platforms for your film is not entirely different from running your own personal account. The key difference is in your goal-setting. You may use your personal Facebook page to make the hometown Mean Girls jealous of your oh-so-glamorous filmmaker life. But in networking your film, you are aiming to build an audience that will invest in you, either with their wallets or their own social capital. So make people want to come along for the ride.

    How do you do that? Certain tenets translate.


    Photo courtesy Hernani Larrea, Creative Commons

    1.  DO give people insider access. Most people have never made a movie, and those who follow films and filmmakers are curious about how it’s done (even if your movie doesn’t star George Clooney). If you can give them a peek behind the curtain — in photos or video clips, show them the movie set, the editing room, the festival premiere–they will feel invested and be more apt to help if they can.

    2.  DON’T be a narcissist. Once you attract followers, you want them to engage, return and remain. Give them something to latch on to–have an issues doc? Set up Google alerts about your topic and share relevant news. For narratives, introduce the characters and what they have to say. “Watch my movie!” or “Donations welcome!” or “I’m so great!” gets old, and fast.

    3.  a. DO take your time. Everything you do on social can be seen, shared and, eventually, judged; this all reflects back on you and your film. Take time with your text (avoid typos), and make sure your key art and shared photos are professional, hi-res, and snazzy.

    b. DON’T overthink. The flip side of the above is this: social media is fleeting. Spending a day and a half vetting every post with every member of your team is counter-productive. Go with the flow and get the information out while it’s still timely. And then start thinking about your next post.

    4.  DO “commune” with your fans. You’re trying to build a community, and there’s a reason “community” and “communicate” share the same roots.  So if someone replies to a post, sends a private message, or tags your film page in their own post or tweet, answer them back — even if they didn’t ask a specific question. Just say hi, say thanks, or ask them how they heard about your film. Or ask them about the last movie they loved. Commune!

    5. DON’T assume people will visit your website. Just because you write the best-blog-post-ever on myfirstmovieisgreat.com doesn’t mean that anyone will see it, your mom included. Use social networks to push your content out into the world… and to spread the word about your film, your campaign, your amazing DP, your upcoming festival screening, anything.

    6.  DO try to create viral content. Take the time to learn Photoshop basics. Once you’ve got mad skills, create a series of images with words superimposed; these “memes” can be the best kind of shareable content. Choose stills from your film and superimpose quotes from your characters on them. Introduce your team with photos and fun facts. (Ex: have the sound editor explain his job in a snappy sound bite.) You never know what will resonate, so keep trying!

    7.  DON’T be lazy. As tempting as shortcuts may be, automatic cross-posts between platforms (Twitter to Facebook, Instagram to anywhere) are a no-no. Instead, craft posts that make the most of each platform’s strengths. Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but Facebook isn’t. @Handles and #hashtags do not always travel well. Instagram photos on Twitter require an extra click to view. Get the picture?

    8.  DO join the conversation. In addition to talking to your own friends and fans, like and follow fellow filmmakers and people related to your film (or the issues within). Acting as your film page on Facebook, take the time to “like” other pages. Read Twitter to know what people are saying about issues important to you (and your film), and then RT, reply and converse (but don’t spam). If they like what you say, they will follow back.

    9.  DON’T forget to say thank you. You don’t have to do it in every post (in fact, don’t!), but let your supporters know how happy you are they are on this journey with you. Call out people on social who’ve got your back. You know how nice it is to feel appreciated, so return the favor.

    10.  DO be creative. You’re a filmmaker! You have ideas! Let them flow! Try new things (a behind-the-scenes video blog? a pop quiz about your film? a confessional about your filmmaking fears?), and don’t be afraid. Social media is of-the-moment–no matter how perfect, your tweet will probably be forgotten tomorrow, so if you screw up, try, try again.

    And with that, you’re off! Remember, as a filmmaker, you’re already a storyteller. You’re just finding a new way to tell this story — sometimes, in 140 characters or less.

    A version of this post first appeared on Seed & Spark, a film site that offers a unique crowdfunding platform for those interested in fair trade filmmaking. Check them out!

  • Apple reverses course on apps using incentivized ads, sharing
    Apple is backtracking somewhat on an App Store policy that blocked apps “incentivizing” elements like video ads or social sharing, say sources in the video ad industry. Rejections have reportedly shrunk, and in some cases previously-removed apps have been allowed to return. Incentivizing ad views is now permitted again, as is asking users to post about an app on social networks.

  • European bank 'hit by cyber-thefts'
    A security firm reports finding evidence of Trojan malware being used to steal money from 190 customers of a major European bank.
  • GOP Rep's Chief Of Staff Resigns Following Porn Star's Tweet
    Rep. Steve Stivers’ (R-Ohio) chief of staff resigned Tuesday after an ex-girlfriend tweeted a photo of the aide’s penis to the congressman’s Twitter account on Saturday, according to Politico.

    Adam Kuhn, the now-former staffer, told Politico that he “was the victim of an attack on Twitter from a woman” with whom he’d been in a relationship.

    “I realize and apologize I had used poor judgement in my personal life regarding this relationship. The woman who posted this has reached out to me to apologize,” Kuhn said.

    The woman, Jennifer Roubenes Allbaugh — who happens to be a former porn star — was apparently upset about the ending of her relationship with Kuhn, which led her to tweet, “I hate you, AJK, you selfish pompous a—hole … Now we’re even.”

    This news comes a day after an apparent NSFW selfie surfaced from a Naval War College professor and little over a week after a picture of a man wearing a giant penis costume was posted on Missouri state Rep. Mark Parkinson’s (R) Twitter account.

    Allbaugh, who calls herself the “Pornstar Pundit and debate lover” and has made over 200 adult films, told Politico that she “just wanted to teach the pompous a— a lesson.”

    This is not the only time a politician has been embroiled in an internet scandal.

    Former member of Congress Anthony Weiner embarrassingly admitted in July 2013 that he had been caught sexting for a second time. And former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned from Congress in February 2011 after he sent a shirtless photo of himself to a woman on Craigslist.

  • Jimmy Chen: Why I Want to Build High-Tech Products for Low-Income Americans
    Silicon Valley, HBO’s scathing satire of the tech business, is full of characters who are convinced that their “Uber for cats” is going to change the world. The show shines a light on a very real Silicon Valley phenomenon. In a world with no shortage of big problems, software companies tend to build apps which make life more convenient for the already comfortable. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    I’ve always been drawn to making an impact. In grade school, I dreamed of being a policymaker or lawyer, because I thought those people improved people’s’ lives directly by making new laws. When I got to college, I realized that you could also change the world by building something new. With the right skills, an idea could be transformed into a usable software product over the course of a weekend. I was immediately hooked.

    Fast forward to today. Six very different technologists — Stephanie, Avi, Ciara, Shazad, Margo, and I — have been selected by Significance Labs to spend three months building new technology for low-income Americans. We’re excited to apply our diverse backgrounds towards solving some tough problems.

    I come from San Francisco, where I spent four years as a product manager at LinkedIn and Facebook. Both are mission-driven companies which spent a lot of time thinking about how to use their software to create social good. The problem is that the social good created by most new technology is unevenly distributed. A disproportionate number of new tech products aim to solve the problems of young urban technologists, simply because those are generally the people who define and build those products.

    It’s difficult to empathize with a set of daily challenges that are radically different from our own, so we default to building apps that incrementally improve the lives of those most similar to us. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that, but we have not built enough software for the low-income Americans who need it most.

    This summer, I’m hoping to make a dent in that problem. I believe that empathy is the best starting point. I can’t walk in someone else’s shoes, but I’ve tried to inch closer by spending hours talking to a variety of people from all walks of life. It’s been a whirlwind. The low-income Americans who spoke to us have consistently displayed amazing amounts of resilience, humor, and pride while letting us see a slice of their lives.

    In the coming weeks, the other Significance Labs fellows and I will dive more deeply into specific problem areas so we can begin to craft solutions. Our team has a broad set of interests and specializations ranging from financial inclusion to college completion, and we’re anxious to learn more. Although we know it will be challenging to build meaningful new technology products from scratch in a mere three months, we’re all determined to make at least a small difference in the lives low-income Americans. We’ll share our story — successes, failures and insights — with you here. We’re excited to have you along on our journey. Because we don’t need better selfies. We need technology that actually makes the world a better place.

  • Edge-Of-Space Balloon Test Flight Brings New World Record
    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An Arizona company says it has successfully completed the first small-scale test flight of a high-altitude balloon and capsule being developed to let tourists float 20 miles above the earth.

    World View Enterprises of Tucson said Tuesday that it launched the flight last week from Roswell. CEO Jane Poynter said the system broke the world record for highest parafoil flight, lifting a payload to 120,000 feet.

    “It went really, really, really well,” Poynter said. “Actually, the guys hit the ball out of the park. We’re thrilled.”

    The system uses a balloon similar to that used in 2012 to lift Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner 128,000 feet to make a world-record breaking 24-mile sky dive. That flight also launched from the Roswell airport.

    Poynter said last week’s flight was the first testing all the components together. It used a balloon about third the size of that planned for passenger flight to lift a payload of about one-tenth of what will be used to carry passengers.

    The company is still planning to begin its $75,000 per-person flights in 2016, she said. The balloons will lift a capsule carrying six passengers and two crew members 20 miles up, where they will float under a parafoil for about two hours before floating back down to earth. The capsule will be big enough for the passengers to walk around.

    The selling point is the view of the Earth and seeing its curve, the company says. Other space-tourism ventures under development will rocket passengers the full 62 miles into space but on much shorter flights.

    In filings with the Federal Aviation Administration, World View said it planned to launch its flights from Spaceport America in New Mexico. But Poynter Tuesday said that no final decision has been made on where to base the flights.

    Spaceport is where Virgin Galactic plans to launch its first space-tourism flights at a cost of $200,000 per person. Development of Virgin’s spacecraft has taken longer than originally planned, and it is unclear when the company, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, will make its first flight. The company’s newest target date is the end of this year, but it has said that for each of the last several years.

    “I don’t think anyone considers us in a race,” Poynter said when asked if they might beat Virgin Galactic to passenger flight. “We don’t consider us in competition because the experience is so completely different.”


    Follow Jeri Clausing at http://twitter.com/jericlausing

  • Amazon's Master Of Commerce Move Into The Phone Game
    Alistair Goodman is the CEO of http://placecast.net/, where he leads a team of mobile, technology and marketing experts who have created the most scalable, proven, location-based marketing system currently available.

    Mobile is so 2010. So why would Amazon throw its hat into the game of phones?

    That’s the thing — it didn’t. The company is headed into battle in two other markets full of potential: real-world commerce and digital advertising.

    Amazon has focused its business almost solely on e-commerce since its launch in 1994. Twenty years later, the vast majority of commerce still takes place in the physical world; a 2014 Q1 US Census report shows that digital sales account for just 6 percent of total sales.

    So, if 94 percent of sales still happens in the real world, how does Amazon conquer this territory? It introduces a phone.

    The Fire Phone can recognize a physical object, scan a bar code, and quickly provide you with Amazon’s prices, taking showrooming to a whole new level. And then, the company is able to unlock that other 94 percent of commerce spend that it previously couldn’t touch.

    Should retailers be shaking in their proverbial boots? Probably.

    With an active user base of 244 million, Amazon has become a trusted provider of goods. Now, those who trust the company already can buy an Amazon phone that makes it even easier to find what they want and order it with a couple of clicks. Even if just 10 percent of active users buy a Fire, that’s still 24 million people who will have access to Amazon’s low prices, vast inventory, and shipping.

    But real-world commerce isn’t the only new frontier for Amazon; the Fire Phone unlocks mobile advertising opportunities for the company, making it the third viable player in the thriving space, along with Google and Facebook.

    In 2014, mobile advertising in the U.S. will total $17.73 billion and reach over $35 billion by 2017, eclipsing online advertising spend, according to analysis from eMarketer. Google and Facebook combined took home over two-thirds of mobile ad spending last year. Now, Amazon could give these two companies stiff competition due to its customer relationships and new features on its phone that aren’t available on Apple or Android devices. Amazon becomes the third major player with a mobile device tied to an immense database of browsing and past purchase data.

    With this phone, Amazon is able to do exactly the same thing as Google and Facebook: utilize customer identities and interest to bring targeted mobile ads to them on their phones. But Amazon has a distinct advantage: Its users have already bought something from them! As a result, the company is even better-equipped than other companies to use past purchase data to send highly tailored mobile ads to consumers. Amazon will be able to guarantee brands a pre-qualified, “in-market” audience. Who else can do that?

    In his demo of the Fire, Bezos made the real-world connections for the phone absolutely apparent, talking about how easy it is to walk down the street and use Firefly to recognize signs, goods, etc. This feature opens up so many doors: the ability to recognize places in the real world, to search for things you want based on what Amazon knows you are interested in, and the ability for Amazon to harness that data for more relevant recommendations.

    In effect, the Fire could provide an understanding of the physical world and merchant locations and, when combined with everything else Amazon knows about a user, actually deliver on the promise of “Marketing that consumers find really valuable, not intrusive.” Now imagine that they start pushing you the occasional recommendation when you’re near a physical store. Imagine you can get a reminder for something you have scanned when you’re near a place to buy it, with Amazon taking its cut for driving that real-world transaction. That massively changes the game of mobile marketing.

    Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with the Altimeter Group, discussed the real impact of the Fire Phone with the New York Times: “Scan a product or listen to music, and you’re delivered straight to the page on Amazon on which you can purchase it. Impulse shopping just went to a new level.”

    Amazon is not in the mobile business, the phone business or the Internet of things business. And while analysts appear divided on the short- and long-term impact of the Fire for Amazon’s overall business model, they should agree on one point: Bezos and Co. are the masters of the commerce business, and the Fire Phone is just one tool that can be used to help it gain its slice of the immense cash flow happening not online, but on Main Street.

    I would even go so far as to say that the Fire Phone will be key to the Amazon growth strategy for the next 50 years. Congratulations, Mr. Bezos. Well played. The only thing I am wondering is, Why isn’t the phone free?

    This article originally appeared on TechCrunch on June 21, 2014.

  • The Fast-Paced World of the Past
    As a kid, I was always considered a bit of an oddball. A genealogist from the age of 10, there times when I felt a bit “stuck in the past,” enveloped in a world where ancient handwriting, dusty documents, and historical events were paramount. While my friends were becoming experts in Nintendo and perfecting their basketball skills, I was pouring over my family tree and bugging my parents about mysterious great uncle Henry.

    Flash forward nearly 20 years and so much about my beloved hobby has changed. From unprecedented levels of digital record access combined with innovation in search technologies, family history has become a fast-paced digital industry – one that is making waves across the world. As a professional genealogist, I find myself working in an incredibly competitive industry, where acquisitions and mergers make big news, new start-ups appear every week, and every player competes to develop new technology to outsmart the others.

    When I meet up with my video game loving playmates of my childhood, they’re surprised that of all of us, I’m the one working in the exciting world of tech.


    The perception of family history – and those involved – typically fall into a narrowly defined demographic box. The image of a grandmother pouring through books in a local library is often first at hand. In reality? Family history is a booming, growing, global industry. Just take a look at a recent IBIS report on the industry, which reveals more than 10,000 active businesses, from sole-proprietorships to technology giants, generating one billion dollars in yearly revenue. From 2008 to 2013 the industry grew by 10% and is poised for further growth in the coming years.

    Family history has found a younger demographic through social media. Consider the NextGen Genealogy Network (NGGN), an online community dedicated to promoting the future of family history and encouraging younger generations in this pursuit. In less than four months their Facebook presence grew from 8 to 1,000 and continues to grow on a daily basis. This modern, future-focused genealogical organization is pushing the boundaries of membership, engaging with social media, video, and other technologies to make the past more accessible. NGGN isn’t the only resource using social media to connect others to their past. The #genealogy hashtag is a flurry of activity, often playing host to more than 1,000 conversations every 48 hours. Some Twitter users participate in regular, topically focused discussions through #genchat three times a month.

    There are more opportunities than ever to learn about family history. The industry’s focus on education has never been stronger. Webinars, Google+ hangouts, and live streams from some of the industry’s most popular events are commonplace. RootsTech, held each February in Salt Lake City, streams sessions to thousands of attendees across the world. Their most recent event gathered 13,000 in-person attendees (up from 8,000 the year before) and had more than 130,000 participants through live stream sessions.

    Further evidence of this fast-paced, growing industry is its new-found popularity on television. Who Do You Think You Are? traces the journey of celebrities as they uncover their past starts their fifth season in July on TLC and the popular Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. will return to PBS in the Fall. Genealogy Roadshow, the latest television program for family history, answers questions from everyday Americans similar to Antiques Roadshow and is gearing up for a second season (and is currently accepting stories).

    Family history’s attraction as a business proposition continues to grow. A few years ago genealogy had just two leading players – Utah based Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, the free, non-profit genealogy service offered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. With millions of records online both companies made headway in opening new doors to those interested in their past. Since then, the family history industry has seen considerable growth. Two additional global players have arisen to offer a variety of records, search methods, and other products. Both are headquartered well outside of Utah, often considered the family history capitol of the world. Findmypast.com is a British based company, known for placing millions of historical newspapers online and offering exclusive access to original records from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The second, MyHeritage.com calls Tel Aviv, Israel home and continues to offer a set of core family history records and developing search technologies.

    The business of family history is customer-driven, with each major player looking for its own competitive edge. Among the four industry leaders, each offers a matrix of services, including data and products that allow anyone to make and share a simple discovery on their family tree. As 21st-century, technology focused businesses they continue to push the current market. Just this week, Mocavo.com, a forward thinking, technology focus startup from Boulder, Colorado was acquired by Findmypast. Mocavo’s innovative “free forever” platform is industry changing. They launched the entire U.S. census index, a key starting point for family history in the U.S. for free – the first commercial company to do so. Other successful startups, including Geni.com and Archives.com have also been quickly acquired by MyHeritage.com and Ancestry.com respectively.

    In a unique twist (which could probably only happen in the family history industry), the major non-profit player, FamilySearch.org, entered into exciting partnerships with Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com earlier this year which will bring billions of records from across the world to customers over the next several years. The family history machine doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.

    What will the next few years hold for the industry? The possibilities are endless. One thing in family history is certain – there is always something more to uncover and another story to tell. Technology and innovation will only push forward our ability to discover something more.

    Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • The danger of 'emotional' machines
    A German journalist worries that artificial intelligence will soon be able to trick and influence humans.
  • Powerful Ad Shows What A Little Girl Hears When You Tell Her She's Pretty
    A new Verizon commercial cites a sad statistic by the National Foundation of Science: 66 percent of 4th grade girls say they like science and math, but only 18 percent of all college engineering majors are female.

    People have offered many potential explanations for this discrepancy, but this ad highlights the importance of the social cues that push girls away from math and science in their earliest childhood years.

    The video depicts one girl’s development from toddler to teenager. She wanders curiously through nature, examines the plants and animals around her, creates an astronomy project, and builds a rocket with her older brother. But all along the way, she hears many all-too-common refrains from her parents: “Who’s my pretty girl?” “Don’t get your dress dirty,” “You don’t want to mess with that,” and “Be careful with that. Why don’t you hand that to your brother?” These statements are subtle, but the ad suggests that they can ultimately discourage girls from pursuing traditionally male-dominated STEM subjects in school.

    According to AdWeek, the powerful commercial is the result of a partnership between Verizon and Makers and is narrated by Girls Who Code founder, Reshma Saujani.

    The video ends with a thought-provoking question: Isn’t it time we told her she’s pretty brilliant, too?

    It sure is.

Mobile Technology News, June 24, 2014

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

  • TechMom Tuesday: Quite the Sticky Pickle

    Today’s column is brought to you by the theme of “Well no kidding Captain Obvious.” But I shall share this tale of terror as a reminder to everyone out there. Under no circumstance, should you use your laptop in the presence of liquids – especially any containing sweetener. Syrup will congeal to create quite the […]

    The post TechMom Tuesday: Quite the Sticky Pickle appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Science Fiction Come True: Moving A Paralyzed Hand With The Power Of Thought
    An accident at the beach left Ian Burkhart paralyzed. Now, the 23-year-old Ohio man is trying to become the first person to move his hand using thoughts and technology.
  • Job listings point to future Siri languages expansion, improvement
    Recently-posted jobs on Apple’s website point to the company working on expanding the number of native languages Siri understands, with a particular accent on countries and regions that represent developing markets for Apple. The company is looking to hire “language engineers” who are fluent in Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, Thai, Arabic, and the languages of northern Europe — Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish. Apple is also planning to beef up Siri support for Japanese, Cantonese, Australian and British English.

  • Microsoft Improves OneDrive Pricing & Storage Limits

    Let the cloud storage wars begin.  That seems to be where we are heading as Microsoft becomes the latest company to slash the pricing and storage limits of their consumer cloud-based storage service OneDrive.  It is clear that Microsoft is going to put a horse in this race as it reshapes itself as an app […]

    The post Microsoft Improves OneDrive Pricing & Storage Limits appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Google's Nest unveils kit tie-ups
    Nest is allowing activity wristbands, colour-changing light bulbs and cars to communicate and control its smart thermostats and smoke alarms.
  • Google 'testing' domain name service
    Google unveils plans for its own domain name registration service that will allow consumers “to search, find, purchase and transfer” domain names.
  • USPTO exhibit at Denver Public Library honors Steve Jobs
    A week or so ahead of the grand opening of a new US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) building in Denver, Colorado, the central library branch of the Denver Public Library is hosting a USPTO-created exhibit featuring life-size models of the some of the many inventions and patents that are jointly or solely credited to Steve Jobs, the co-founder and twice former CEO of Apple. “Patents and Trademarks of Steve Jobs: Art and Technology that Changed the World” will run through September.

  • Business travel in hi-tech facelift
    The technologies making business travel less of a drag.
  • Will Television Be Our Ruination?
    Didn’t the ancient Greeks — Plato or Aristotle — recommend that all things be done in moderation? Leave it to those ancient Greeks to hit the nail on the head, because that advice (along with “Know thyself” and “Payback is a bitch”) comes very close to falling into the category educated people might call “wisdom.”

    Not to be snotty, because it’s obvious that those ancient philosophers knew what they were talking about, but if Greece had followed its own advice, it wouldn’t have suffered that embarrassing financial meltdown traceable to “immoderate” — indeed, insatiable — greed, and wouldn’t be facing the dreadful austerity measures it now faces. But I digress.

    Because the dictum “moderation in all things” makes eminent sense, it raises an entertainment question: How much television is “too much”? Is that even a fair question, or is it too subjective to be meaningful? Because if we believe there is such a thing as “too much” TV, by whose standard do we make that determination? Do we ask a psychiatrist? A professor? A CEO? Do we ask the Greeks? As far as I know, there is no mention of television in the Bible.

    Consider: If we take the view that we can, in fact, watch “too much” TV, then what’s our cut-off point going to be? Forty hours a week? Fifty hours? Fifty hours sounds excessive, but believe me, it can be easily done, even in Athens. Conversely, if we insist that “too much” TV is simply a construct invented by snobby people, does that give us permission to watch as much as we like? Can we watch 90 hours a week without guilt?

    Of course, this problem derives not from some character flaw, but from technology. This is totally a technological dilemma. It wasn’t that long ago when there were only three major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS), along with a sprinkling of local stations. Moreover, with VCRs not yet invented, there was no way to record a show for later viewing. We either saw it live, waited until summer to see it in re-runs, or we missed it (and were forced to do something other than watch television).

    But today, with cable TV, the networks not only number in the hundreds, but we can record shows for later viewing. We not only get to see any show we like, we can plan our day or week (or life) around them. We can rent movies, have movies mailed to our home, and stream movies. Not only movies, but TV shows, and not only relatively recent TV shows, but vintage TV shows. For crying out loud, we can go on YouTube and watch shows from the 1950s and 1960s.

    The problem with television is that there is too much of it. Too much great stuff, too much good stuff, too much crap, too much in-between. And because all the new stuff is gushed over by the critics, it naturally makes me want to see it. I want to see everything. There was a time when the notion of “binge-watching” would have disgusted me. Today it comes dangerously close to defining me.

    David Macaray is a playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor, 2nd Edition).

  • VIDEO: Close-up look at Harley's electric bike
    Iconic motorbike manufacturer Harley-Davidson has revealed its first electric motorcycle.
  • Yahoo CEO Sleeps Through Dinner With A Bunch Of Executives
    Marissa Mayer is taking work-life balance to a whole other level.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the company’s CEO slept through a dinner meeting last Tuesday with the Interpublic Group, a major advertising holding company. She admitted as much to some of the attendees, the WSJ reports.

    Mayer had been set to speak with executives representing the likes of brewer MillerCoors and Greek yogurt maker Chobani at the dinner, which was arranged as part of the Cannes advertising festival.

    But several attendees, including Interpublic Group CEO Michael Roth, ended up leaving before she got there, according to those familiar with the matter.

    “It is another instance where she demonstrated that she doesn’t understand the value of clients, ad revenue or agencies,” one WSJ source said. Another anonymous source told Business Insider that Mayer had executives rearrange busy schedules so the dinner could be held at 8:30 p.m. sharp.

    “We aren’t commenting on the story other than to say that we value our partnership with IPG and all of our advertisers,” a Yahoo spokesperson wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.

    Earlier in the week, spectators lit up Twitter during Mayer’s presentation, calling it both overly scripted and unnecessarily promotional.

  • Forget Everything You Knew About The Circus — This Is Trapeze As Fine Art
    We wish every trapeze performance were this mesmerizing.

    The artistic technology installation in the video above blends a trapeze artist’s movements with stunning audio and visual effects. The project, called Ljós, made its debut two weeks ago at the Italian art festival “Festival della Fiaba,” a rep for fuse*, the company behind the installation, told The Huffington Post.

    Ljós’ builds a visualization and audio experience based on the movements of an acrobat — in this case, the very talented Elena Annovi. All of her movements are captured through the use of the Kinect motion capture camera and synced to the audio and video through various methods.

    “Ljós is the translation of the latent elements of dreams into visible contents,” the video’s Vimeo description states. “The body is the medium through which the connections between light, sound and movement are explored, leading the spectator into an unreal space, rarefied and disorientating.”

    Watch the video above, and tell us what you think by tweeting at @HuffPostArts.

    (h/t The Collectors Project)

  • The Business of Sharing: How Technology Is Changing the Concept of Ownership
    The idea of ownership is rapidly changing. As society continues to advance, technology has spearheaded the transformation of the way we work, live, and play. With co-working spaces popping up all over the world, and companies like AirBnB and Lyft, we are moving towards a socio-economic system built upon sharing our time, talents, and resources.

    The physical concept of a community-oriented space where people could meet and work was born in a Berlin hackerspace in 1995. Technology was the joining force of creating these collaborative workspaces that were later defined by American game designer Bernard de Koven as “co-working”. He described a shared space brought together by technology and collaborative creations through “working together as equals.

    These spaces foster creativity and connectivity. Studies have shown that these individuals are working less, by working more productively; thus encouraging a true work-life balance. These spaces can cut companies’ real estate rent by 50 percent or more, depending on the city and any amenities. Spaces like this also open up funds to further grow and support their organizations. While most co-working spaces are utilized by freelancers, entrepreneurs, and businesses that need a remote location due to heavy travel, brick-and-mortar companies are adopting concepts from the shared office space model. For example, State Street, a financial firm out of Boston, has been developing an internal co-working space for its employees. Some major companies, like coconut water brand Vita Coco, were birthed out of co-working spaces. Technology was the driving force behind this concept, and the demand is ever increasing.

    Through tech platforms, companies like AirBnB are fostering change with way we live and travel. AirBnB is a website that allows users to rent out their homes. The lender gets extra cash from their apartment or home and the renter has the luxury of having an authentic experience in a new place, often cheaper than the hotel alternatives. As a by-product of AirBnB, local economies see a boost. The outer boroughs of NYC received a $105M in additional funds from AirBnB guest spending. They have brought over half a billion dollars of economic activity to NYC and $824M in the U.K.

    People worldwide are posting their homes online to help pay their rent or mortgage, reduce their debt, plan for a trip, or support a freelance or entrepreneurial career. However, financial motives are not always a driving force of a sharing economy lifestyle. Companies like Couchsurfer, a competitor to AirBnB, is a website hosting a community of travelers that allow other travelers to crash on their couches when exploring new cities.

    The sharing economy is permeating the transportation and travel industry not only in destination, but also the means to get there. Through technology, we now have platforms like Lyft that allows users to share their cars. The stay-at-home-mom can now use her station wagon to carpool customers. The idea of a shared platform is beneficial for all. Not only does it bring the supply to the demand, but also it provides a source of passive income for users, and meets demand. Uber is another technology-driven company that is closing the gap between supply and demand. Through creating this combo of taxi and private car services, they make more money, have a wider reach, and have the opportunity to create more jobs. Consumers have the benefit of having a car when they want it, with very little effort and waiting. No more waiting in the rain for a taxi!

    Subscription models have altered the way we consume and collect music. Gone are the days where we had CD towers for our ever-growing music library. The need for an iPod is slowly becoming obsolete. Music technology companies like Spotify and Pandora, while offering users the option for free music, also have subscription models, allowing users to access almost any song or any album at any time. Pandora introduces users to new music and provides an endless stream of music based on artists and songs that listeners like. Spotify allows you to play any song or album while integrating the social aspect of seeing what your friends are jamming to, or following their playlists.

    Subscription models are also used in offline forms, further promoting the idea and benefit of the sharing society. The first community bike-sharing program was in the Netherlands in the mid-1960’s. However, it wasn’t until the 1990’s, with the use of “smart technology” to prevent bikes from getting stolen, that the programs began to flourish. Today, there are over 500 bike-sharing programs worldwide. The great thing about subscription models on tangible items, like bikes, is that one only possesses the item in the moment, for that specific need. With the bike-sharing program, you pick up the bike, ride it, and drop it off at your location. You now have the luxury of not having to worry about this bike. You don’t have to lock it up, worry about it getting stolen, and if the weather or your temperament changes, you aren’t obliged to ride it home. The annual membership program in NYC costs a third of the average priced bicycle. In Chicago, you can rent a bike for 24 hours for $7.

    Even the way we gather information has evolved to be more collaborative and shared. Platforms like Twitter quickly spread information to large groups of people. Sites like Reddit, a news, entertainment, and social website allows users to submit articles and then vote the articles up or down on the list, thus determining the “top read” stories of the day. Companies like Pulse allow users to view articles on subjects they are particularly interested in.

    This move to a more minimalistic, shared society is more collaborative, cost-effective, and efficient. Everyone’s needs are met with minimal resources. Less human and physical capital is wasted. With technology continuing to advance our lives, in combination with the sharing economy, people are paying the bills, saving for that dream vacation, working more flexible hours, collaborating and meeting new people.

  • Adele Won't Be Dropped From YouTube Without A Fight
    Indie record labels are refusing to get on board with YouTube’s forthcoming streaming subscription service, claiming the terms of YouTube’s deal favor major record labels. And now these indie labels have some backup.

    YouTube, which is owned by Google, has become a massive online source for streaming free music and has more than 1 billion visitors per month. The company recently reached an agreement with major rights holders that would make ad-free music available to consumers for a fee. Last week, after a number of indie labels came out against plans for a premium YouTube service, YouTube announced that “in a matter of days” it would blacklist artists and record labels refusing to sign on.

    The Music Producers Guild, a membership-based group of industry producers and engineers, released a statement on June 20, lambasting Google’s subscription model and the company’s treatment of indie labels.

    From the statement:

    With regards to the recent dispute between YouTube and independent labels and the unfavourable terms which You[T]ube seeks, without negotiation, to impose upon independent record labels, the Music Producers Guild is deeply concerned about Google’s apparent abuse of its monopoly and associated market power and the adverse affect this will have on the wider industry and funds available for innovative and creative content production in the future.

    A YouTube spokesperson previously told The Huffington Post that of all the music labels which had previously inked deals with YouTube to share in ad revenue, only 5 percent have yet to sign on with the new ad-free, subscription-based service.

    Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s head of content and business operations told the Financial Times, “We’re paying them [indie labels] fairly and consistently with the industry,” but he did not disclose the terms of the deals.

    Independent labels together account for roughly a third of the music industry’s market share and represent artists including Adele, The White Stripes and Vampire Weekend.

    YouTube has yet to begin removing content owned by labels that did not agree to the ad-free premium deal.

  • Should Cryonics, Cryothanasia, and Transhumanism Be Part of the Euthanasia Debate?
    An elderly man named Bill sits in a lonely Nevada nursing home, staring out the window. The sun is fading from the sky, and night will soon cover the surrounding windswept desert. Bill has late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and the plethora of medications he’s on is losing the war to keep his mind intact. Soon, he will lose control of many of his cognitive functions, will forget many of his memories, and will no longer recognize friends and family.

    Approximately 40 million people around the world have some form of dementia, according to a World Health Organization report. About 70 percent of those suffer from Alzheimer’s. With average lifespans increasing due to rapidly improving longevity science, what are people with these maladies to do? Do those with severe cases want to be kept alive for years or even decades in a debilitated mental state just because modern medicine can do it?

    In parts of Europe and a few states in America where assisted suicide–sometimes referred to as euthanasia or physician aid in dying–is allowed, some mental illness sufferers decide to end their lives while they’re still cognitively sound and can recognize their memories and personality. However, most people around the world with dementia are forced to watch their minds deteriorate. Families and caretakers of dementia patients are often dramatically affected too. Watching a loved one slowly loose their cognitive functions and memories is one of the most challenging and painful predicaments anyone can ever go through. Exorbitant finances further complicate the matter because it’s expensive to provide proper care for the mentally ill.

    In the 21st Century–the age of transhumanism and brilliant scientific achievement–the question should be asked: Are there other ways to approach this sensitive issue?

    The transhumanist field of cryonics–using ultra-cold temperatures to preserve a dead body in hopes of future revival–has come a long way since the first person was frozen in 1967. Various organizations and companies around the world have since preserved a few hundred people. Over a thousand people are signed up to be frozen in the future, and many millions of people are aware of the procedure.

    Some may say cryonics is crackpot science. However, those accusations are unfounded. Already, human beings can be revived and go on to live normal lives after being frozen in water for over an hour. Additionally, suspended animation is now occurring in a university hospital in Pittsburgh, where a saline-cooling solution has recently been approved by the FDA to preserve the clinically dead for hours before resuscitating them. In a decade’s time, this procedure may be used to keep people suspended for a week or a month before waking them. Clearly, the medical field of preserving the dead for possible future life is quickly improving every year.

    The trick with cryonics is preserving someone immediately after they’ve died. Otherwise, critical organs, especially the brain and its billions of neurons, have a far higher chance of being damaged in the freezing. However, it’s almost impossible to cryonically freeze someone right after death. Circumstances usually get in the way of an ideal suspension. Bodies must first be brought to a cryonics facility. Most municipalities require technicians, doctors, and a funeral director to legally sign off on a body before it can be cryonically preserved. All this takes time, and minutes are precious once the last heartbeat and breath of air have been made by a cryonics candidate.

    Recently, some transhumanists have advocated for cryothanasia, where a patient undergoes physician or self-administered euthanasia with the intent of being cryonically suspended during the death process or immediately afterward. This creates the optimum environment since all persons involved are on hand and ready to do their part so that an ideal freeze can occur.

    Cryothanasia could be utilized for a number of people and situations: the atheist Alzheimer’s sufferer who doesn’t believe in an afterlife and wants science to give him another chance in the future; the suicidal schizophrenic who doesn’t want to exist in the current world, but isn’t ready to give up altogether on existence; the terminally ill transhumanist cancer patient who doesn’t want to lose half their body weight and undergo painful chemotherapy before being cryonically frozen; or the extreme special needs or disabled person who wants to come back in an age where their disabilities can be fixed.

    There might even be spiritual, religious, or philosophical reasons for pursuing an impermanent death, as in my novel The Transhumanist Wager, where protagonist Jethro Knights undergoes cryothanasia in search of a lost loved one.

    There are many sound reasons why someone might choose cryothanasia. Whoever the person and whatever the reason, there is a belief that life can be better for them in some future time. Some experts believe we will begin reanimating cryonically frozen patients in 25 to 50 years. Technologies via bioengineering, nanomedicine, and mind uploading will likely lead the way. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on developing these technologies that will also create breakthroughs for the field of cryonics and other areas of suspended animation.

    Another advantage about cryonics and cryothanasia is their affordability. It costs about $1,000 to painlessly euthanize oneself and an average of $80,000 to cryonically freeze one’s body. It costs many times more than that to keep someone alive who is suffering from a serious mental disorder and needs constant 24-hour a day care over many years.

    Despite some of the positive possibilities, cryothanasia is virtually unknown to people and is often technically illegal in many places around the world. Of course, much discussion would have to take place in private, public, and political circles in order to determine if cryothanasia has a valid place in society. Nevertheless, cryothanasia represents an original way for dementia sufferers and others to consider now that they are living far longer than ever before.

  • You've Never Seen Anything Like This Hand-Drawn Video Game
    If your grandparents had video games, we now know how they would have looked.

    A new game called “Cuphead,” which is set to be released in 2015, is animated in the style of a 1930s cartoon. In fact, it was created the same way that cartoons were created back then, using hand-drawn cel animation and watercolor backgrounds.

    Painstaking? Sure. But the final product really does make the game look like it’s from another era:

    For comparison, here’s Disney’s 1937 film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”

    And 1928’s “Steamboat Willie.”

    “Cuphead,” which was previewed at this year’s E3 conference, is the first by Canadian developer Studio MDHR. And unlike other throwback video games, there’s no 8-bit music to be heard here. The game’s soundtrack is entirely made up of original jazz recordings, composed by Kristofer Maddigan.

    The game’s creators describe it as “a classic run and gun action game heavily focused on boss battles.” While they haven’t yet announced every way you’ll be able to play it, we do know it will be released on Steam (PC) and XboxOne.

    When you do get your hands on it, you can play as either “Cuphead” (on the left in the below photo) “Mugman” (on the right). If a friend joins, you can play as both.


    All in all, we’re excited.


    [h/t The Daily Dot]

  • OtterBox debuts Resurgence battery cases for iPhone 5 and 5s
    Casemaker OtterBox has announced Resurgence, a new line of battery cases, initially designed for the iPhone 5 and 5s. Each case is rated at 2,000mAh, and will automatically stop charging an iPhone once the device hits full power. OtterBox also promises that users can still do wired sync with a Resurgence equipped, and use an included headphone jack extender to hold headphone cords.

  • The App Store and the Top Tenth of One Percent
    At this year’s WWDC in June, Tim Cook announced the App Store has reached over 1.2 million apps. While this diverse and competitive app ecosystem has proven incredibly successful for the top-performing 200-300 apps, being discovered is a daunting and increasingly expensive proposition for the hundreds of thousands of other apps. Many app developers think the fault lies with the App Store, whose heavy bias towards surfacing and keeping ‘top performing’ apps in the spotlight reinforces this disparity. Currently, just 1/10th of 1 percent of apps control the entire App Store market, leaving the rest of the 1.2 million apps virtually unknown.

    Apple’s main effort to increase app diversity and discoverability has been to feature unique and exceptional apps on the main App Store screen. For larger iOS developers and mobile development companies, this is an amazing opportunity to gain access to the most-valued real estate in the store. For indie developers or smaller shops, this can sometimes be the only way to get an app noticed at all. Unfortunately, the current App Store has very limited real estate and limited time (usually just one week) for the app to be featured. To further complicate things, selection is entirely based on Apple’s changing internal criteria and interests, which means there’s no way to anticipate or plan to be featured.

    With natural App Store discoverability a major issue for developers, the price for marketing apps continues to increase. As more firms bid for limited marketing options they drive the price up. Fiksu’s estimate of cost per app install has been steadily rising since 9/13 from $.83 to its current $1.24.


    It was these problems that inspired the massive overhaul of the the App Store. We think these changes will have a huge impact on discoverability and CPI costs:

    Trending Searches: Details on this are scarce, but we suspect this will display apps as they start getting traction in the app store, rather than simply highlighting the hits in the Top sections. This is an incredibly exciting feature, since it will provide tools for well-designed apps to get exposure as they rise. Marketing campaigns can be shorter and smaller, using ads to spark initial discovery then allowing this new feature to carry the app up through the ranks.

    Video Previews: App Store shoppers will soon get to watch short videos of an app in use. These previews will be a huge improvement in communicating each app’s value props, features, usability and design. While not related specifically to discoverability, these should nonetheless reduce the cost of marketing great apps by sparking user interest.

    Continuous Scroll: This fantastic feature eliminates the concept of “the fold”, and further encourages users to browse and explore freely. With the ubiquity of LTE data and continuous scrolling throughout the Internet this is a necessary (and overdue) usability improvement.

    Editor’s Choice Logo: Apps awarded Editor’s Choice often fade after their week in that spotlight. Soon, Editor’s Choice selections will have that logo stamped clearly on the app’s details page. Continuing to surface Apple’s stamp of approval on an app will invariably increase downloads per impression, thereby decreasing CPI.

    App Bundling: Developers with larger portfolios can sell their apps in groups, encouraging users with bulk-purchase discounts. This could significantly reduce CPI rates, with a single ad potentially spurring multiple downloads.

    At the WWDC Tim Cook said, “We are really investing a ton in the App Store.” We believe him. These changes should increase overall downloads, diversify the apps downloaded and significantly reduce apps’ CPI.

    Joseph Farrell
    EVP of Operations
    BiTE Interactive

  • Encryption: The Problem is the Man in the Middle
    co-authored by Dr. Stephen Bryen, Chairman & CTO, Ziklag Systems

    Encryption is becoming a big deal these days and some of the top companies are implementing it for their customers. Somewhat leading the pack is Google, which is focusing on Gmail. But others, such as Skype, have been encrypting video and voice chats for some time. Clearly this is a good thing for users.


    However, there are a myriad of problems surrounding the use of encryption, especially in the case of public carriers like Skype, Google, Microsoft and others. And the issue is becoming a growing problem as cloud base storage systems and so-called secure email services claim to employ encryption to protect users.

    The first thing to understand is that most commercial encryption systems have servers that act as pass-through transactors for email, video conferencing and the like. When an email, or Skype call is processed on one of these servers, the message is decrypted and then re-encrypted if the recipient of the message or video call is encrypting. If the recipient is not using encryption, then the message is generally sent in the clear to the recipient. To give an example, Google has been using a type of secure transaction based on what is called Transport Layer Security or TLS. If you are downloading email through the Gmail system (even from other accounts you own), during the set up phase you will be asked if your alternative email service uses TLS.

    TLS is a mediocre form of security, but it is absolutely no security on the Google server itself. There are commercial and “other” reasons why this is so.

    Google’s Gmail makes its money by scanning emails and pushing advertising and promotions to its Gmail users, generally through the Google Chrome browser. This is a very big business. The online ad market is estimated to be worth $25 billion annually, and some experts, including Google’s top display-ad executive, Neal Mohan thinks the market will grow to as much as $200 billion. Google employs more than 100 executives to support the scan and advertise business. It is not something Google can afford to abandon, and of course, Google is not doing that.

    A second reason Google and most other providers are not encrypting traffic that transits their servers. is the government. All these companies –Google, Yahoo, Microsoft to name a few, depend on the government for their very survival. Thus while they may, for public consumption, be willing to jump up and down and say how much they value privacy and abhor government interventions, they all cooperate with the government. This means responding promptly to both court orders and so-called National Security Letters requesting access to certain accounts. This reaches even further than just National Security and can likely include many government-led investigations for crime fighting, and even more worrisome, “crime fighting” that is really political maneuvering. We still have a lot of learn from the IRS scandal and the so-called missing emails.

    What is true of Google is likewise true of Skype. Government access to Skype was confirmed in leaked top secret documents obtained by Edward Snowden and made public by Glenn Greenwald. In the NSA’s Prism program, one document shows how the Skype server stores information and how Prism can access it.


    Again, the issue is that whatever transacts into the Skype server is there for the taking.

    Servers, therefore, are the primary issue not only because they enable lawful spying to protect national security, but the servers can be targeted by hostile governments, criminals and “ordinary” hackers.

    Typically a server should be housed in a truly secure location and should be managed by people who are not security risks. No major company today claims that it has in any way vetted its employees to guard against theft of data at the server, and even if they made the claim, it is far from clear they have a ways and means to go about handling such a problem. In the government itself, only people who work on classified servers require vetting and such vetting involves careful background checks including any criminal record or convictions. Even the government method fails: largely because the government outsources this work to third parties who are in it for the money, not necessarily providing hard core assessments. Edward Snowden was “cleared.”

    Private companies cannot rely on the FBI, CIA or any other government agency for help in checking out employees. They need to use private companies to try and assist, but this is time consuming and expensive, and often the work is poor. Private commercial servers are quite understandably highly vulnerable to “insider” attacks. Some foreign governments are known to have planted people in many top companies just for this reason.

    Servers can also be hacked from the outside through the Internet. Government servers experience hack attacks thousands of times every day on its servers. So do companies in the critical infrastructure, such as Defense and Aerospace firms and energy companies. And companies in the competitive space are often hit by cyber attacks to steal vital proprietary information. The matter is made infinitely worse if public providers such as Gmail and Skype, and many others, are used routinely by company employees.

    Encryption is only successful when the server is in the control of the enterprise and the enterprise has sound security policies that cover both its fixed network and its mobile communications. Many, if not all, so-called secure mobile phones are run from servers controlled by unknown persons, often in third countries where no one can say what the security situation really is, who is behind the organization, and what recourse a user has if he or she is compromised. A third party man in the middle is a very big risk. The risk grows greater when the provider is offshore and cannot be reached through reasonable lawful means.

    Here is a recommendation: the best servers are servers controlled by the enterprise or organization, provided the organizations or enterprise implements prudent security and strong oversight of its operations. The use of commercial services is a bad idea for protecting corporate and government information and should be avoided at all costs.

Mobile Technology News, June 23, 2014

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

  • Mathe Alarm Clock Forces Oversleeping Users to Solve Math Problems

    Oversleeping-prone students, parents, workers, travelers and everyone else who wants to make sure that their alarm clock actually does the job that it’s supposed to do – i.e. reliably wake them up on time, so they can start their day off on the right track – can now download the new Mathe Alarm Clock app […]

    The post Mathe Alarm Clock Forces Oversleeping Users to Solve Math Problems appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • (VIDEO) Canadian Video AdTech Firm Acquired by Google for DoubleClick Deployment
    mDialog, a Canadian firm that has built a live video ad insertion engine, has been acquired by Google, the company announced in a blog post.  More in this report from TechCrunch.  Terms have not been revealed.

    Last year at the Brightcove customer summit, we spoke with Greg Philpott is the founder and CEO.  We have republished that video today.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • (VIDEO) Maker Studio Finds Majority of Views Now via Mobile
    CANNES, France –  Maker Studio, the giant multi-channel network of some 50,000 YouTube creators, is finding a majority of its views, as much as 60 percent, coming from mobile, says Erin McPherson, Chief Content Officer of Maker, in this interview with Beet.TV

    This amount of mobile consumption is higher that the 40 percent that YouTube ascribes.

    Maker was purchased by The Walt Disney Company earlier this year in a deal worth between $500 and as much as $900.

    We spoke with McPherson at the Cannes Lions Festival earlier this week.

    Please find all our videos from Cannes published right here.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • System Monitor Utility for iOS Gives Detailed System Info on your Device

    System Monitor Utility for iOS is an app that is designed to grant a quick overview not only of the hardware of iOS devices, but as well as detailed information about running processes or memory distribution. System Monitor Utility delivers all the informations about the hardware and software that users probably would pay more attention […]

    The post System Monitor Utility for iOS Gives Detailed System Info on your Device appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Spotify: Don't fight streaming
    The founder and CEO of Spotify Daniel EK tells Newsbeat it “doesn’t make sense” for artists to withhold their work from streaming sites.
  • VIDEO: UK needs better 3G for streaming
    A senior boss at Sony music in Sweden tells Newsbeat streaming will become more popular in the UK with better broadband, 3G and 4G speeds.
  • Beware of the Refrigerator
    With the purchase of Dropcam by Nest, owned by Google, the announcement of the HomeKit platform by Apple at WWDC, and the release of Samsung’s Smart Home at CES earlier this year, the tech giants signaled that they are committed to interacting with consumers outside of the traditional mobile and desktop devices.

    While the companies’ approaches to “smart homes” are different, with each leveraging their existing assets (Google – Nest, Apple – app platform, Samsung – home appliances), concerns about privacy remain.

    Technology companies will know when we open the refrigerator, forget to turn off the oven, and leave the lights on in the bedroom. The increase in the granularity of the collected data of people’s movements broaches a new set of issues with regards to what consumers are willing to share versus the compelling benefits of having such technology integrated in a home. Although the use cases of this data are seemingly limitless, the ways in which tech companies will actually utilize the data remains unclear.

    In a blog post last week, Nest stated that:

    Like Nest customer data, Dropcam will come under Nest’s privacy policy, which explains that data won’t be shared with anyone (including Google) without a customer’s permission. Nest has a paid-for business model and ads are not part of our strategy. In acquiring Dropcam, we’ll apply that same policy to Dropcam too.

    While ad supported platforms often offer free products in exchange for information from consumers, ranging from phrases entered into a search engine to updates of our social media profiles, smart homes involve hard goods that are purchased. Should we be relieved by that? Is the Metafilter quoteIf you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold” still relevant?

    Of course, privacy is incredibly important to consumers, and the breach of privacy, whether through hacking or being inundated with advertisements, is a serious matter. What we tend to forget is that ultimately, the responsibility of privacy management does not rest solely on the shoulders of technology companies; it rests on consumers too. More often than not, we eagerly participate, if not outright embrace, the various apps and devices that provide incredible benefits in terms of safety, convenience, and general improvement in our daily lives. These benefits do (and should) have a cost associated with them. Whether that cost is simply the monetary transaction linked to the purchase of smart home products or evolves to something far more like Big Brother is yet to be seen. However, for the symbiotic relationship between companies and consumers to thrive, trust is paramount.

    The myriad of issues associated with this will require a dialogue between tech firms and consumers to determine proper costs and benefits. That said, in light of a generation who so easily tags photos on Instagram, shares articles on Twitter, swipes right on Tinder, posts updates on Facebook, rents apartments on Airbnb, perhaps we have already grown comfortable with strangers, and perhaps we gave up our privacy a long time ago.

  • The iPhone as Personal Time Capsule
    Last week I got a new iPhone. This is not by any means an extraordinary event. I had some downtime at work so I hopped across the street and 30 minutes later had a slick, gold 5s. I had been using a 4G (not a 4s) well past its prime. It was time to join everyone else in 2014.

    When I got home I put the old phone in a red Baccarat box in my closet, with every other iPhone I’ve owned since the first once came out. Most people turn them in when they upgrade, but for me, each phone has captured a distinct period of time. They’re like little time capsules. I have pretty much every single text anyone has ever sent me. I know I could keep the digital conversation going by simply transferring the data, but I see each new phone as the start of a new era. At least that’s how it worked out.

    I got my first iPhone shortly after breaking up with a long-term boyfriend in 2007. A breakup that, ironically, was sparked thanks to information gleaned when he asked for help setting up his iPhone, the week that they first came out. He didn’t have the patience to sit on the phone with AT&T, and no good ever comes when you give your girlfriend your email password.

    The texts and photos on my first iPhone are of a specific single girl in era in Manhattan. Before people started using texting to write Russian novels to each other, it was used in a perfunctory manner. Meet me at the movie theater at 6:45. Or I bought ingredients at the farmers market. Making stew tonight! Just the vanilla back and forth of modern dating. I was never anxious about texts from men or summoned friends to try to analyze their deeper meanings. They were just words on a screen, a warm up before the Big Show later on.

    The 3GS was purchased about a month before my son was born. I tapped away on it in the delivery room while I waited for the Pitocin to kick in. My first photos of him — which were quickly uploaded to Facebook — were taken on that phone. It was the device I used to light my way around a dark apartment when he woke up at four in the morning. There are texts about the Christening, logistics about traveling with an infant to get to a friend’s wedding and updates from the part-time nanny. Once I was back at work and socializing again, it’s full of plans to go to places like the Brandy Library, Employees Only and the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park hotel. These are places that just an earlier iPhone model before would have been out of my price range, and when I didn’t know anyone who appreciated Macallan 18.

    The 4G came during a period of professional and personal limbo, when I was unsure of what I wanted to do in several areas of life. The phone itself became symbolic of the era, slow and clunky and not quite with the times. The 4G served its function, but as I’ve leveled up, so has my technology. It’s the phone, though, that I got the first call from my agent,on, the phone that rang when I got good news about a job, and the phone that delivered text messages from friends who humored me along the way, as well as from people who bailed on me just a hair too early.

    I doubt the Smithsonian will ever have an exhibit of the Collected Texts and Data of Pauline Millard. There isn’t much documented drama on any of them. I save the airing of grievances for phone calls and in-person sit downs, much like Tony Soprano. But I love looking at the first texts people sent, those early communications when you’re just getting to know someone, before complications like lingering ex-girlfriends and general human neurosis factor into the equation. It’s a learning tool. You can see where you were wrong, where you could have been more assertive and where you should have just put down the phone and occupied your mind with something else.

    I’m always amused when I find a nostalgic piece online about what we’re losing since personal letter-writing has become obsolete. While the idea of finding a bundle of love letters in an attic is romantic, it assumes that everyone in days of yore was a wordsmith, mailing off every thought as it occurred. Writing in any form takes skill and focus. Some people are better at it than others. Just as there are people today who are disinclined to write, this was also the case when Roosevelt was in in office. There are just some stories we will never know about, because someone didn’t put pen to paper.

    In February 2012, Sherry Turkle gave a TED talk about how we may be connected, but we are actually quite alone, and that “sips of communication” are replacing real human interaction. While it’s true that texting at the dinner table is a little rude, it’s exactly these “sips of communication” that make up the details of life that you don’t want to forget, and the ones that would never have made it into that yellowing pile of letters, tied together with ribbon.

    The idiosyncratic one liners I shoot off to my childhood friends who live in other states keep the relationship fresh. I squeal in public when a girlfriend sends over a photo of her engagement ring. I grin bittersweetly when I re-read the texts from the guy who, years ago, in an attempt to get me to meet him at Babbo, claimed he just saw a woman who looked exactly like me standing on a corner in the West Village. Was I around? How about I join him for a drink? (It wasn’t me on the corner, but what a great way to non-awkwardly get in touch with a woman you hadn’t seen in a while.)

    It’s been reported that people sometimes have a hard time moving on from breakups because the entire relationship is documented in front of them everyday, on their screen. I can see how that can be distracting. Perhaps the cure is to just get a new phone, one with no texting or photo history, just a blank queue behind the little green app, ready for the next chapter. The old phone doesn’t have to go away to that Apple store in the sky. It can go live in a box in your closet, so as not to interfere with the here and now.

  • UK chart to include streaming
    The Official Charts Company announces streaming through services like Spotify, Deezer and Napster will count towards the UK’s weekly singles chart from July.
  • Who will win the World Cup in 2050?
    Will robots compete on a level playing fields with humans?
  • American Bar Association Gives Lawyers Green Light To Scan Jurors' Social Media Sites
    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lawyers have been given the green light to scan the social media sites of jurors.

    The American Bar Association says it’s ethical for lawyers to scour online for publicly available musings of citizens called for jury service — and even jurors in deliberations. But the ABA does warn lawyers against actively “following” or “friending” jurors or otherwise invading their private Internet areas.

    Though judges now universally admonish jurors to refrain from discussing trials on social media, the nationwide lawyers group for the first time is addressing how deeply attorneys, their investigators and their consultants can probe for information that might signal leanings of potential jurors, or unearth juror misconduct during trials.

    Jurors’ online postings have disrupted many legal proceedings over the years, causing mistrials and special hearings over the effects of Facebook musings, tweets and blog writings about their trial experiences. Lawyers and judges have also been wrangling over how far attorneys can go in assembling a jury with help from online research of jurors’ social media habits.

    A few judges have denied lawyers permission to research social media sites as overly invasive while others have allowed it. One company has gone so far as to develop a software product that promises to create a juror profile through social media posts and monitor jurors during the trial.

    The ABA’s ethics committee began reviewing the issue about two years ago and concluded in April that looking at Facebook posts, Twitter tweets and other information gathered passively is ethical research.

    “It’s like any other publicly available information,” said Donald Lundberg, an Indianapolis, Indiana, attorney who helped draft the ABA’s opinion as an ethics committee member.

    Lundberg said one of the thornier issues for the committee was whether lawyers could view LinkedIn and other social media sites that notify members that they have been searched.

    Ultimately, the ABA committee decided a LinkedIn search was ethically sound, which runs counter to an opinion issued by the New York City Bar Association in 2010 that said any notice sent to a potential juror about a search amounts to an unauthorized communication.

    “We stay away from LinkedIn and similar sites,” said Leslie Ellis, a Washington D.C. jury consultant. “We don’t want to do anything that would make them uncomfortable to serve.”

    Ellis said her firm has been asked on occasion to conduct social media searches of prospective jurors, but only when their names are available days before they arrive at the courthouse. Ellis said prospective juror names generally aren’t available until the morning jury selections begins and that time-constraints limit what can be found online.

    “Social media searches are time consuming and expensive,” Ellis said. “What takes so long is confirming that you found the right person.”

    At least two state bar organizations have addressed online searches of potential jurors.

    The Missouri Supreme Court requires lawyers to research potential jurors’ litigation history on a Web site that tracks lawsuits in the state. The Oregon State Bar published an opinion last year that’s in line with the ABA guidelines, saying lawyers can access publicly available social media information, but can’t actively “follow” or “friend” potential jurors.

    The California State Bar, the biggest state bar in the country, has not addressed the issue, spokeswoman Laura Ernde said.

    Some lawyers are sold on social media searches and have been following the practice for some time.

    Last year, New York defense attorney Barry Berke hired a jury consultant firm and instructed it to search social media sites of potential jurors in the insider-trading case of Michael Steinberg. The consultant was looking for anti-Wall Street comments or other signs of possible bias. Prospective jurors thought to be biased were removed from the pool. Still, the former SAC Capital Advisors executive was convicted of insider trading and sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison.

    Other lawyers who haven’t searched previously now say they will embrace the practice.

    “I will be doing it for every trial,” said Khalid Sheikh, a suburban Detroit, Michigan, defense attorney.

    Late last month, a jury was deliberating whether Sheikh’s client was guilty of first-degree murder when the lawyer’s 26-year-old son wondered aloud what the jurors were saying on social media sites.

    “I said they shouldn’t be saying anything,” Sheikh said, but decided to check anyway. He discovered a juror had made Facebook posts about the case before and after he was empaneled.

    After his client was convicted of first-degree murder, Sheikh asked for a new trial, alleging that the posts violated the judge’s rule against jurors discussing the case. “Not cool a young man is dead another young man will be in prison for long time maybe,” the juror allegedly said.

    On Monday, the judge denied Sheikh’s motion for a new trial, ruling the posting was innocuous. Sheikh plans an appeal.

  • Yahoo Wants You to Linger (on the Ads, Too)
    Four editors were deep in debate at Yahoo Food’s offices in Manhattan: Would Yahoo visitors click on a feature about foods of the ancient Silk Road, or would they prefer a guide to cheese fries and other snacks that go well with ranch dressing for the Final Four basketball games?
  • How Messaging Apps Are Changing the Way Businesses Connect With Customers

    “Both WhatsApp and Secret represent the ascendency of the phone book over the friend graph. It’s back to the future.” — Tweet by David Sachs, Founder/CEO of Yammer

    The modern era in many ways has been defined by the one to many movement, ushered in by radio, broadcast television, and then finally the Internet. With the advent of social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, this power of one to many was extended to the masses.

    Now there are signs that we are at an inflection point and could see a rapid shift in the opposite direction. Driven by mobile devices and massive adoption of messaging apps, consumer preference is trending back to the one-to-one connection. This harkens back to my advice for social media success: think telephone not megaphone.

    In her 2014 Internet Trends Report, Mary Meeker of venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers concluded that people around the world are growing less interested in broadcasting to large audiences à la Facebook. The trend toward interactions with a smaller group of close contacts has fueled the rise of what Meeker calls the “Global Messaging Ecosystem.”

    I spoke with Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer of LivePerson, a leading provider of digital engagement solutions, about this trend back to one-to-one communication and what it means for brand marketing. As CMO, Anurag must stay ahead of trends in customer communication and interaction, not only to maintain LivePerson product leadership, but also to continually improve how LivePerson communicates with their own customers and prospects.

    Anurag Wadehra, CMO LivePerson

    Anaraq points out that earlier this year, Facebook acquired WhatsApp, one of the biggest of the messaging apps, for $19 billion. WhatsApp counts 450 million active monthly users who send out an average of 50 billion messages a day, and it adds 1 million users every day. “WhatsApp is the only app we’ve ever seen with higher engagement than Facebook itself,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the time of the acquisition.

    WhatsApp’s competitors are also posting incredible numbers. Tencent WeChat, based in China, has more than 350 million users and has been growing 125% year-over-year. Line, from Japan, boasts nearly 300 million users who tap out 10 billion messages a day. Other key players include Snapchat in the U.S., KakaoTalk in Korea and Viber from Israel.

    The ascent of mobile over the more traditional Internet is speeding up. Globally, mobile accounted for 25% of total web use in 2013, up from 14% the previous year. More than 80% of China’s Internet users are mobile, higher than any other country. Even so, Meeker said she sees “lots of upside” in the growth of smartphone users. As of the fourth quarter last year, global smartphone users accounted for only 30% of total mobile phone users. “Someday very soon, everybody will have a smartphone,” says WhatsApp’s mission statement.

    Why is mobile messaging so attractive and how has it so quickly become the new standard for connection? One key factor: what Meeker calls the shareable web. Mobile devices make content and rich-media immediately ownable and shareable. According to Meeker, more than 1.8 billion photos are uploaded and shared daily across these platforms. These photos are not findable: more and more people are choosing to share one-to-one, creating richer, more personal connections.

    Businesses are looking for the best ways to take advantage of the mobile messaging boom. According to her report, U.S. consumers spend 20% of their time on their mobile devices, but only 4% of U.S. advertising is spent on mobile ads — clearly a mismatch. Meeker estimates that there is $30 billion to be made in mobile ads, and the industry is just leaving that money on the table.

    The new era of more intimate messaging presents a major opportunity for businesses not only to convert traffic into buyers, but also to become part of this inner circle of what Anurag calls digital first consumers.

    As every e-commerce entity discovers, whenever you can get a customer to chat, one-to-one in real time, that customer is far happier with their experience, and thus far more likely to buy. Messaging apps present an interesting opportunity for brands to have more meaningful engagements with customers and create lasting friendships rather than mere transactions. Eventually, businesses will find they are either included in customers’ mobile messaging apps — or left to watch from the sidelines.

    One thing is clear: The customer is the driver and they are connected and communicating with each other very differently than just five years ago. Successful businesses will learn how to engage customers on their terms — the way they want, wherever and whenever they want.

    This post was co-authored with Anurag Wadehra, chief marketing officer of LivePerson.

  • Why Science Says You Can't Lose Those Last 5 Pounds
    Never mind the “Freshman 15.” It’s the “Fifty 5” that is the real killer. Once you hit midlife, losing those final five pounds just becomes near-impossible for many people. It turns out, it may not be your dieting commitment as much as other factors — including some environmental ones. Here are five reasons why science says you may be struggling:

    You don’t sleep well.
    Sleep, it turns out, is the easiest way to lose weight. We’ve all been there: After a restless night of tossing and turning, we wake up exhausted and crave fuel for our bodies. As we start to nod off all day long, what do we do? Grab for food to give us a jolt. Ah, if only we had slept well.

    WebMD says there are dozens of studies that say people who sleep less tend to weigh more. In one study that lasted 16 years, almost 70,000 women were followed. The results: Those who slept five hours or less a night were nearly a third more likely to gain 30 pounds or more than women who slept seven hours per night.

    Sleep deprivation actually changes your basal metabolic rate, which means it slows down how many calories you burn from doing those basic life-sustaining activities, like breathing and maintaining body temperature. Combine that with your body’s craving for additional “fuel” on the day after a bad night’s sleep and there you have it.

    Solution to those final five may lie in your bed. Get a good night’s sleep!

    You are exercising too much instead of eating less.
    Sure we all know that weight loss is a combination of dieting and exercise. But science says it’s more the dieting part. Decreasing food intake is much more efficient than increasing physical activity to lose weight. Think of it like this: You can not eat one bag of chips for 300 calories or you can run for half an hour.

    To be fair, you really do have to do both. But for the final five, maybe try a little less intake? And just a caution: Science also has shown that exercising a lot can actually stimulate your appetite.

    You don’t wash your fruits and vegetables.
    Pesticides on your fresh produce contain substances that increasingly have been linked to obesity and weight gain. The effects that environmental toxins have on weight actually begin very early in life. Recent studies have linked exposure to environmental pollutants while in the womb with being overweight and having excessive body mass index later in life.

    As you age, your metabolism slows and it’s harder to lose weight. Scientists have long noted that just the act of losing weight also slows our metabolisms. This excessive slowdown is called “adaptive thermogenesis,” and researchers say it seems to occur because of increased concentrations of pollutants in the blood.

    Jumpstart your diet by washing all produce thoroughly and trying to buy organic when you can. And some swear by detoxes as a component of successful dieting.

    You keep leftovers in plastic.
    BPA — bisphenol A — is an industrial chemical that has been around since the 1960s. It’s in your water bottle, your storage containers, what you wrap leftovers in to keep them fresh. It also may be an enemy of the final 5 as it impacts your metabolism.

    According to the Mayo Clinic, there is research showing that BPA can seep into food or beverages from those containers made with BPA. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says BPA is safe at the low levels that occur in foods, others are more skeptical. The fight over the safety of plastics isn’t new. As Mother Jones noted in this investigative piece published a few months ago, way back in 1987 they were discussing how BPA impacts the endocrine system — the network of glands that controls metabolism.

    Simplest solution: Ditch the plastic in favor of glass or products marked “no BPA.” AARP, which recently ran a post on the topic, adds this tip: Wash your hands frequently when you’re at work; toxic compounds known as PBDEs are often found in office furniture and carpeting.

    Your thermostat is set too high.
    While it’s hard to fathom this being the case of a menopausal woman experiencing hot flashes, your room temperature may be too high. Lowering the thermostat helps your body produce a hormone that stimulates the growth of something called brown fat. Don’t worry; brown fat is your friend. It keeps your organs warm by burning calories, which is a good thing. Brown fat tends to disappear with age, which is not such a good thing.

    According to AARP’s story, “Lowering your thermostat from 75 to 68 degrees stimulates brown fat and increases calorie burn by 100 calories a day.” A little less optimism came from the New York Times when it reported on the brown fat study. The paper quoted Dr. André Carpentier, an endocrinologist at the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec and lead author of one of the new papers, as saying, “As for deliberately making yourself cold if you want to lose weight, there is still a lot of research to do before this strategy can be exploited clinically and safely.” Party pooper, that one.

Mobile Technology News, June 22, 2014

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

  • Duplicate Detective For Mac On Sale โ€“ $2.99 This Weekend Only

    FipLab makes some great apps for Mac and this weekend, one of their best is on sale for 40% off.  Duplicate Detective allows you to quickly and easily find duplicate files in any folder on your Mac.  Normally the app is $4.99, but this weekend you can get it for $2.99. Duplicate Detective – SALE […]

    The post Duplicate Detective For Mac On Sale – $2.99 This Weekend Only appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Oldest Pope Video Ever Made Shows Pope Francis Wasn't The First Tech-Savvy Pontiff
    Pope Francis has been a real social media blessing for the Catholic Church with his informal demeanor and off-the-cuff remarks resounding across Facebook and Twitter. But he wasn’t the first pontiff to embrace new technology, as this video shows.

    This 1896 clip of Pope Leo XIII in the Vatican is likely the first video ever recorded of a pope, says U Catholic, who posted it. Though grainy, it shows him blessing the camera, according to Aleteia. The recording was done by William Kennedy Dickson, who invented an early motion picture camera.

    The audio in the second part is Pope Leo XIII chanting the Ave Maria in Latin, and is the oldest known audio recording of a pope. Leo XIII served as pontiff until the age of 93, making him the oldest ever pope. He had the third longest pontificate and was known for developing many important social teachings of the modern church with his Rerum Novarum encyclical.

    In a world where every little one of Pope Francis’ doings, from the profound to the mundane, is broadcasted by the media, it’s refreshing to see the evidence of a time when video was a total novelty.

    h/t Aleteia

  • Drone Captures Massive Yacht Fire As $24 Million Boat Is Engulfed In Flames (VIDEO)
    You’ve probably never seen a fire quite like this.

    San Diego boat captain Kurt Roll was using a remote-controlled quadcopter drone to shoot aerial footage at a shipyard in Chula Vista, California on Thursday when he spotted a plume of smoke rising in the distance. Roll decided to use his device to get closer to what appeared to be a massive boat fire, and managed to capture some incredible, close-up footage of a yacht going up in flames.

    In a video Roll posted to YouTube, the drone nears the yacht fire before pulling back to show the sheer enormity of the blaze.

    According to ABC 10 News, the 112-foot boat, called the Polar Bear, apparently caught fire in an accident at the shipyard shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday. About 100 workers at the marina were evacuated during the blaze, which firefighters were eventually able to put out.

    The yacht belonged to Larry Jodsass, a retired electrical engineer, and was worth an estimated $24 million.

    “Am I angry? No. Anger is not the right word,” Jodsass told NBC 7 San Diego. “It was my toy, my wonderful, beautiful piece of equipment. I think it’s the most beautiful boat that ever has been built.”

    Watch the drone footage of the yacht fire in the video above.

  • Google Considering Building A Cable Across The Pacific Ocean: WSJ
    Google Inc. is weighing an investment in a new, multimillion-dollar cable across the Pacific Ocean, people familiar with the matter said, a move that comes as big technology companies send an increasing amount of traffic across private networks.
  • GirlsAskGuys Closing Cross-Gender Gap
    We often solicit the advice of strangers online. Platforms like Answers.com aggregate millions of questions and answers on a whole host of topics. There are niche services like Yelp for restaurant reviews and Angie’s List for local businesses.

    Typically, however, there’s an assumption that the people we’re seeking insights from are somehow of like-mind. But sometimes we want to know what the polar opposite are thinking, particularly what the opposite gender might think about various topics. How much better does my face look with this amazing mustache (38 percent)? Are low-riding jeans still in (I hope not)? Should I call a girl 28 times in the span of three days after an event (most definitely)?

    Enter GirlsAskGuys.

    Founded in 2007 by Turkish-immigrant Tolga Tanriseven, he dreamt it up at a bar with a friend. Both had girlfriends, so they weren’t making any, well, moves. Rather, they watched other girls and guys hit on each other.

    “I kept seeing a lot of rejections from both sides,” Tanriseven recently said. “It wasn’t about who approached who. Instead the issue I kept seeing was guys were approaching girls the ways they thought was right or cool instead of figuring out how girls liked to be approached. Vice-versa was true as well in the rare cases where a girl approached a guy. “

    After detoxing, GirlsAskGuys began its start, and the company has experienced exponential growth year-over-year, with more than 10 million monthly uniques to date. Although the company has had both English and Turkish sites, Tanriseven and his team recently launched a Spanish version, with a Portuguese version expected to launch soon. Sites in other languages are expected to roll out in the next year.

    As of May, GirlsAskGuys had received more than 2 million questions and more than 35 million answers, helping to close the cross-gender gap. The questions come from all across the board. In the last minute alone while writing this, answers have been posted to questions including, “32 year old hitting on a 20 year old: creepy? Or not?,” “Is it gay that I’m thinking of getting a pedicure,” and even the risqué such as, “Do girls check out dick prints?”

    Given the line of questioning, it’s probably safe to say that the community is primarily comprised of the under-30 crowd. And don’t let the name mislead you — guys are also allowed to ask questions. In fact, only a small majority of the questions asked are from girls and answered by guys. The company is also moving beyond its roots as a place where strangers ask each other questions. A popular feature is the poll, where members can ask simple questions such as, “Which of these mustaches looks best?,” and get answers from hundreds or even thousands of respondents. Plus, the platform is also now commonly bringing experts in to comment.

    GirlsAskGuys appears well positioned to take the next steps. Jim McKelvey, co-founder of digital payments firm Square, is among the company’s advisors. And after raising $1 million in the fall of 2013 – much of it from St. Louis-based private equity firm O’Brien Capital – Tanriseven has eyes on growth. He will soon embark on a fresh round of fundraising believing that, despite all the clutter taking place in the Web, GirlsAskGuys is a focused platform that allows people to seek a diverse range of opinions from people eager to help a stranger in need.

    “In almost any topic, you want to hear from someone who has been there before and experienced whatever that situation may be,” he said. “This is especially true for relationships and dating.”

  • Tina Fey & Amy Poehler Use Craigslist To Cast For 'The Nest'
    As if we needed another reason to count down the days until “The Nest” arrives in theaters! The production team behind Amy Poehler and Tina Fey’s forthcoming film — in which they play estranged sisters (!!) — used Craigslist to find a few last-minute cast members in East Meadow, Long Island.

    Originally found by Vanity Fair, the ad said the film was looking for “professional manicurists/ pedicurists to portray female Korean nail salon workers” for a “Tina Fey & Amy Poehler Film.” Universal confirmed the ad was real, and that some lucky nail artists in the tri-state area probably experienced the coolest Friday of their lives.

    “The Nest” already gained attention from basically everyone who loves fun after Maya Rudolph signed on to play Poehler and Fey’s childhood friend. The film follows the sisters as they spend a weekend packing up their childhood home, before throwing a huge party as one last hurrah. Ike Barinholtz, John Leguizamo and James Brolin also co-star. See the first photos from filming here, though they don’t include any images of Craigslisters at a nail salon.

    “The Nest” is scheduled for release Dec. 18, 2015.

  • Plan to tackle phone blackspots
    Mobile phone operators could be made to share networks in rural areas where signals are weak, under plans being considered by ministers.

Mobile Technology News, June 21, 2014

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

  • Update to iOS 7.1.2 coming, said to fix Mail issues
    Despite no developer release, Apple is in fact working on an iOS 7.1.2 update that will likely appear in late June or early July, and offer some fixes for known issues in 7.1.1, say reports. The update, which first began appearing in web logs on various sites last month, is now said to have been handed over the carrier partners for approval. The incremental update is said to fix some known issues remaining in Mail and a lock screen security issue, as well as adding more support for Apple’s iBeacons.

  • T-Mobile reports more than 12,000 signups for iPhone 5s 'Test Drive'
    Proclaiming “the way we buy wireless in this country is patently absurd,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere on Thursday announced a promotion called “Test Drive,” where prospective customers get a free week’s use of the network — on a new iPhone 5s, also provided by the company — to see how they like it, with no cost or obligation. Twenty-four hours later, Legere reported that over 12,000 new users have already signed up for the program, which begins on Monday.

  • Google's Nest Reportedly To Buy Dropcam For $555 million
    (Reuters) – Dropcam, the home-monitoring camera startup, will be bought by Google Inc’s Nest Labs for about $555 million in cash, a technology news website reported on Friday.
    The deal was signed on Friday and is yet to close, according to the report by Recode.net.
    Nest confirmed the acquisition in a blog post on Friday, but did not specify the price tag. Neither Google nor Dropcam were immediately available for comment.
    Dropcam plans to move from San Francisco to Nest’s offices in Palo Alto, California, Recode wrote.
    Nest makes smart thermostat and smoke alarms and was bought by Google earlier this year for $3.2 billion.
    (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bangalore; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
  • Computing a Cure for HIV: 9 Ways Supercomputers Help Scientists Understand and Treat the Virus

    An atomic model of the HIV-1 capsid, or shell.

    HIV/AIDS has caused an estimated 36 million deaths, according to the World Health Organization, and remains a major menace worldwide. Today approximately 35 million people are living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), including more than 1 million individuals in the United States.

    The tendency of HIV to mutate and resist drugs has made it particularly difficult to eradicate. Some treatments have shown progress in slowing or even stopping the progress of the virus, but no cure or vaccine has been discovered that can truly stamp out the disease.

    In the last decade scientists have begun using a new weapon in the fight against HIV: supercomputers.

    Scientists harness the power of thousands of computer processors simultaneously to better understand how the HIV virus interacts with the cells it infects, to discover or design new drugs that can attack the virus at its weak spots and even to use genetic information about the exact variants of the virus to develop patient-specific treatments.

    Among the researchers using supercomputers to study HIV is Klaus Schulten, the keynote speaker at the 2014 International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany. Schulten, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, invented the Nanoscale Molecular Dynamics (NAMD) software program, one of the most widely used tools for understanding diseases at a molecular level.

    Supported by the National Science Foundation and using some of the nation’s most powerful supercomputers, teams of researchers are pushing the limits of what we know about HIV and how we can treat it.

    Below are nine examples of how scientists are applying massive computing power and computational know-how to combat the disease.

    1) Modeling HIV: from atoms to actions

    An atomic-resolution simulation of the structure of the HIV capsid.

    In order for HIV to infect non-dividing cells, the HIV virus must enter the cell and entice cellular proteins to act as chaperones, ushering the virus toward the cell nucleus and helping it integrate its genes into the cell’s genome. This infection process offers opportunities for medical intervention and may suggest new HIV treatments. However the dynamics of the process can only be “observed” through computational modeling and simulation.

    The size of the HIV capsid, or shell, combined with its irregular shape, had long prevented scientists from simulating the full capsid structure with adequate resolution. But researchers from Klaus Schulten’s group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, using the National Science Foundation-funded Blue Waters supercomputer, observed how the capsid interacts with drugs and host proteins at the atomic level. The model, consisting of about 1,300 proteins and 4 million atoms, is currently the largest entry in the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank, a repository for the three-dimensional structural data of large biological molecules.

    2) Discovery of hidden pocket in HIV protein leads to ideas for new inhibitors

    A hidden pocket within a vital HIV protein can be targeted by drugs that act as “molecular wedges.”

    Researchers from the University of California San Diego, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the National Cancer Institute collaborated on an effort to discover new drug candidates to combat HIV.

    With the help of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the scientists ran molecular simulations to capture the movements of a small pocket on the virus’ surface that they believed could be targeted by drugs to prevent the replication of the virus. Using the pocket as a target, they virtually screened thousands of compounds and tested 16 for their ability to block HIV infection in human tissue cultures. Ultimately, they discovered two compounds that inhibit HIV replication and block the activity of reverse transcriptase as effectively as a leading FDA-approved drug, nevirapine. The researchers believe these compounds have the potential to develop into future drugs and are exploring them further.

    3) Preventing HIV from reaching its mature state

    Coarse-grained molecular model of a mature HIV-1 viral capsid shows its armor-like structure.

    The mature capsid of the HIV virus comprises thousands of interlinked proteins that act like a suit of armor around the virus’ genetic material. If this armor-like structure does not form, then the virus is unable to infect cells.

    Researchers from the University of Chicago used the Kraken supercomputers at the National Institution for Computational Science (NICS) to study how the mature HIV capsid formed. They found that the seemingly complicated behavior of the capsid’s self-assembly was relatively simple once they understood the shape and behavior of the proteins that made it up. The work advanced our understanding of the HIV life cycle and is inspiring the development of new drugs to disrupt the virus’ growth. Results appeared in the Biophysical Journal in October 2012.

    4) Crowdsourcing a cure

    A screenshot of an active Foldit puzzle. The leaderboard shows the top score of each player/team.

    After scientists repeatedly failed to piece together the structure of a protein-cutting enzyme that plays an important role in HIV, they called on the players of FoldIt, an online puzzle video game, to find a solution. Using FoldIt “citizen scientists” were able to determine how the enzyme folded and solved the mystery of its structure. With further help from the game players, researchers were able to identify target drugs to neutralize the enzyme.

    FoldIt is part of an experimental research project supported by NSF and developed by the University of Washington’s Center for Game Science in collaboration with the UW Department of Biochemistry. The case of the crowdsourced protein structure serves as a critical example of how games with a purpose can solve real-world problems.

    5) Virtual screening of HIV inhibitors

    Scientists simulated two proteins that play a key role in HIV in order to find novel inhibitors.

    A team of researchers from Pennsylvania used computer modeling and virtual screening, powered by supercomputers, to identify novel inhibitors of HIV and better understand how they react with the HIV virus. They focused on small molecules that block the interaction between the receptors on the surface of human cells and an important protein on the surface of the HIV envelope.

    Using the Blacklight system at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the researchers virtually screened more than 10 million compounds to find small molecules that would be a good molecular fit for the protein that they were targeting. From the 10 million they identified six small-molecule, HIV-surface protein complexes that display unique modes of binding. Taken together they constitute what the researchers believe is a potent class of entry inhibitors against HIV.

    6) Membrane effects

    The simulated structure of the HIV-1 viral assembly protein Gag.

    Some proteins that anchor HIV to cell membranes are thought to promote the development of the virus. Researchers have found that combining experimental methods with computer simulations can reveal much about the cell-binding dynamics.

    Hirsh Nanda of the National Institute of Standards and Technology leads a research team that studies the initial stages of the formation of new HIV virus particles in an infected cell. During these first steps, HIV proteins latch onto cell membranes.

    Using the Kraken supercomputer at the National Institute for Computational Science, Nanda’s team was able to study the forces that govern protein assemblies on membranes in far greater detail and much faster than if they were using their lab’s computers. Kraken also greatly accelerated the analysis of experimental neutron-scattering data that they used to compare with simulations.

    The simulations revealed that an important HIV surface protein simultaneously binds to the cell membrane and to viral RNA in order to change shape, and how another HIV protein transitions between compact and extended structures upon anchoring to the cell membrane. These discoveries are inspiring new treatment approaches that center on membrane interactions.

    7) Computing patient-specific treatment methods

    Scientists translate HIV sequence data into digitized information to rank HIV inhibitors.

    Doctors know that there are many different strains of HIV, and that drugs for the disease do not have the same effects in all people. Subtle genetic differences between strains and among individuals lead to a range of treatment outcomes. Using the NSF-supported Kraken and Ranger supercomputers, researchers from University College London and Rutgers University determined the shape of a key protein involved in HIV infection in an individual patient and then ranked the drug molecules most likely to block the activity.

    The project demonstrated how researchers might use genetic-sequencing techniques and massive computations to design patient-specific treatment protocols in near-real time. In the future it is expected that this type of patient-specific drug selection will become routine.

    The research was reported at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was published in the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation.

    8) Preparing the next generation to continue the fight

    Students at Merrimack College performed virtual HIV screens using supercomputers.

    At Merrimack College in Massachusetts, students are learning how to conduct virtual screening using the Stampede supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Virtual screening uses computational methods to identify small molecules that are likely to bind to a known drug target, often a protein. The method has become a valuable tool for many biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

    The activity exposes students to massive computing resources and shows them a method of conducting science that few previously knew existed. It’s one of many ways that educators around the nation are beginning to prepare students for the workforce of the future by incorporating computational techniques into their curriculum.

    9) A boy and the BEAST

    Armand Bilge next to a poster explaining his award-winning HIV research project.

    When Armand Bilge was a 10th grader at Lexington High School in Massachusetts, he created a map and timeline that identified when HIV arrived in the Americas, and where and when HIV spread across these continents. To do so, Bilge used a combination of molecular-sequencing software and NSF-funded high-performance computing resources.

    As a member of an after-school computer club, Bilge used a software program called BEAST to create a detailed evolutionary tree based on similarities and differences in the 3,000 nucleotide subunits of a gene among 400 known HIV strains. The software ran on the CIPRES (CyberInfrastructure for Phylogenetic Research) science gateway, a public resource developed by the San Diego Supercomputer Center and supported by NSF that allows those interested in evolutionary relationships to study virtually every species on Earth.

    Bilge’s conclusions support previously published results of HIV experts that suggest that “a single introduction of the virus in Haiti in the mid-1900s resulted in its dispersion across the American continent.” The project won first place in biology for the 2012 Massachusetts Science and Engineering Fair.

  • Can Pi Be Trademarked?

    Intellectual property law is complex and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but, roughly speaking, creative works can be copyrighted, while inventions and processes can be patented. In each case the intention is to protect the value of the owner’s work or possession.

    For the most part, mathematics is excluded by the Berne convention of the World International Property Organization (WIPO). An unusual exception was the successful patenting of Gray codes in 1953. More usual was the carefully timed Pi Day 2012 dismissal by a U.S. judge of a copyright infringement suit regarding Pi, since “Pi is a non-copyrightable fact.”

    Pi Period

    In January 2014 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Brooklyn artist Paul Ingrisano a trademark on his design consisting of the Greek letter Pi followed by a period. It should be noted here that there is nothing stylistic or in any way particular about Ingrisano’s trademark; it is simply a standard Greek Pi letter followed by a period. That’s it: Pi period. No one doubts the enormous value of Apple’s partly eaten apple or the MacDonald’s arch. But Pi.?

    We live in an era of aggressive patent trolling by vulture patent firms. There is vast amount at stake. Think of the current smartphone-patent wars and the sometimes-successful patenting of life forms. Additionally, it is often cheaper for a firm to pay than to go to court. A vague patent can be a “nice little earner,” and even established firms such as Microsoft and Apple therefore go patent trolling. Other firms are more willing to “open source” some of their intellectual property, such as, for example, Tesla’s announcement that it will open some of its patents to help spur the electric automobile industry.

    What Happened Next?

    To underscore that he means business, Ingrisano, through his lawyer, Ronald Millet, sent a letter to Zazzle.com, a Pi novelty company, demanding that they “[i]mmediately cease and desist” their “unlawful” usage of the Pi trademark or “any confusingly similar trademark,” and, within 14 days:

    1. Provide an accounting of all sales of any products containing their trademark.
    2. Provide an inventory of all relevant products.
    3. Disclose any other uses, electronic or print, that have been made of the trademark.
    4. Provide an account of the date when the Pi trademark was first incorporated into their products, a list of all known links to Zazzle’s webpage, and a list of third parties who offer such products.

    The letter threatened attorney’s fees and “treble money damages.” The full text of the letter is available here.

    Implied in the letter is the plaintiff’s position that “any confusingly similar trademark” includes the Pi symbol itself, without the period, since none of the products offered by Zazzle features a Pi followed by a period. Indeed, according to a report in Wired, Ingrisano’s attorney Millet has asserted that many items for sale by Zazzle “clearly have a pi sign and look similar enough that folks out there might confuse it with products that my client also sells.”

    Zazzle responded by temporarily banning all garments featuring the Pi symbol, which involved “thousands of products,” according to the Wired report. But two days later, after being flooded with complaints, Zazzle restored the products. Millet is consulting with Ingrisano as to their next step.

    Along this line, it is amusing to note that a Pi design is featured by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) as a finalist for its 2014 T-Shirt Contest (and the design includes one formula that one of the present authors was instrumental in discovering). Will MAA be challenged as well?

    The Smiley Face

    This spat is reminiscent of a dispute over the “smiley face” between litigants Walmart Stores and SmileyWorld, a London-based company that registered rights to the smiley face many years ago on behalf of Franklin Loufrani. The dispute was finally settled in June 2011, under undisclosed (but likely quite expensive) terms.

    Unlike the Pi case, no one has argued that the smiley face has scientific significance! But the case does demonstrate that such disputes must be taken seriously. Moreover, the smiley face is a defined and recognizable image, and Loufrani explicitly makes no attempt to stop the use of it in email as plain text, such as :).

    Pi in Modern Mathematics and Science

    The Pi. trademark, and the aggressive actions taken by the trademark holder, may seem amusing and are certainly unfortunate for Zazzle and its owners, employees and customers.

    But much more is at stake here. If Ingrisano and his attorney prevail in their legal actions, this would mean, in effect, that anyone who uses the Pi symbol in any context would live under the threat that they might receive a similar “cease and desist” letter, with the threats of significant financial loss. This would be an unmitigated disaster for modern mathematics and science.

    It is not the slightest bit an exaggeration to say that Pi is the most important irrational constant of modern mathematics. Each year the Pi symbol appears in thousand of published books and in tens (possibly hundreds) of thousands of technical papers, not just in books and papers related to geometry but in fields as diverse as statistics and quantum physics.

    In fact, the numerical value of Pi (expressed in binary digits) is contained in every smartphone ever produced, since the computations performed to process wireless signals (using the “fast Fourier transform”) inherently involve Pi.

    Pi appears in several guises in the equations of quantum physics and therefore is central to semiconductor electronics. Pi even arises in GPS technology, since the frequency of clock signals broadcast by GPS satellites must be adjusted according to the formulas of Einstein’s general relativity, the equations of which involve Pi.

    The mind reels at the thought that the authors of every mathematical, scientific or engineering paper that uses a Pi symbol must live under a cloud of worry that they too might be accused of “trademark violation” by including Pi symbols in their articles. And can we really not put Pi on our posters and T-shirts?

    Also, if Pi is placed under a cloud of trademark violation, what is next? The letter e, the base of natural logarithms, which is almost as ubiquitous as Pi? The “sigma” summation sign (another Greek letter)? The integral sign?

    What to Do

    Unlikely? Perhaps. But to even approach such a path, to place even a glimmer of doubt or worry into the workings and communications of modern science, would be an unmitigated disaster. No precedent even remotely approaching this scenario must be tolerated by the scientific community. Must the American Mathematical Society or the International Mathematical Union trademark all mathematical symbols — including 5! — as logos and release them under a general public license?

    No, the best solution is simply to rescind the Pi. trademark and block any future attempts at trademarking mathematical symbols. There definitely are precedents for such action, including the June 2014 action by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Washington Redskins’ registration of their image, which was ruled as disparaging to Native Americans. Surely the needs of the worldwide mathematical and scientific community to use standard notation free from trademark worries is an equally compelling justification.

  • This Popular Video Game Is Becoming a College Varsity Sport — With Hefty Scholarships
    CHICAGO (AP) — Note to parents: All those hours your kids spend blazing a trail of destruction in video games may not be a complete waste of time, after all.

    A small private university in Chicago is offering hefty scholarship for players of one game in particular, League of Legends, which has become one of the most popular games for organized team competitions. Robert Morris University Illinois announced its new program this month and said it recognizes the growing legitimacy of what are known as “eSports.” The school says it also wants to give credit to those with a competitive spirit who don’t necessarily want to play traditional sports such as basketball or football.

    Associate Athletic Director Kurt Melcher, who will be in charge of the school’s new varsity eSports program, said Friday that he expected a certain amount of surprise and attention, but was surprised by just how much feedback he’s getting.

    “It’s interesting. There’s two sides: There’s the gamers side, who feel like they’ve been vindicated or liberated,” he said. “Then there’s the hardcore athletes side, who say, ‘What do you mean? That’s not a sport.'”

    Melcher said League of Legends is a competitive game that demands team strategy and mental prowess, and spending money to recruit the best will deliver the types of committed students who are drawn by scholarships for traditional sports. The school is even hiring a coach for its team.

    Starting this fall, the scholarships will cover up to 50 percent of tuition and 50 percent of room and board. That’s worth up to $19,000 per student. Robert Morris says it is among the first in the nation to offer such substantial scholarships of this type.

    League of Legends players control warriors battling it out in a science fiction-like setting.

    Dispelling any doubt about its popularity, a League of Legends championship sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles last October.

    The game is very challenging and demands a well-thought strategy, Andrew Dixon, a Robert Morris senior, told WLS-TV.

    “You have the physical — you have like football and basketball and all that — this is a very mentally taxing game, especially when you’re being pitted against five other individuals,” he said.

    Dixon, who is from the Chicago suburb of Lockport, is also on the university’s volleyball team and sees similarities between the virtual and the real sporting worlds.

    “Even when you lose, you’re able to go back and evaluate your game play,” Dixon said. “A lot of times you’re able to record matches and review them, kind of like watching game film.”

  • MI5 focus on tracking Syria fighters
    The Home Office says it “will not tolerate” online terrorist videos, after internet footage appears to show UK jihadis trying to recruit people to join them in Iraq.
  • Glenn Greenwald On Why Privacy Is Vital, Even If You 'Have Nothing To Hide'
    LOS ANGELES — Journalist Glenn Greenwald defended the value of digital privacy and slammed those who dismiss its importance during a stop on his national book tour Thursday.

    “We all need places where we can go to explore without the judgmental eyes of other people being cast upon us,” he said. “Only in a realm where we’re not being watched can we really test the limits of who we want to be. It’s really in the private realm where dissent, creativity and personal exploration lie.”

    He said that people who downplay the importance of privacy typically say, “I have nothing to hide.” But, he added, those people aren’t willing to publish their social media and email passwords.

    Greenwald published a series of stories last year based on leaked documents on United States surveillance from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. He recently published the book No Place to Hide about the fallout from Snowden’s actions.

    “When we think we’re being watched, we make behavior choices that we believe other people want us to make,” he said. “It’s a natural human desire to avoid societal condemnation. That’s why every state loves surveillance — it breeds a conformist population.”

    Greenwald went on to lambaste journalists, politicians and business leaders who have said that digital privacy is unnecessary. He criticized Google chairman Eric Schmidt for saying on CNBC in 2008 that “if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Greenwald argued that it’s detrimental to assume that someone who wants privacy — say a person calling an HIV clinic or suicide hotline — should be treated with suspicion.

    “There are all kinds of things we want to hide from other people — that we tell our psychiatrist, our lawyer, our doctor, our spouse or a stranger on the Internet — that have nothing to do with criminality,” he said.

    Greenwald also took on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for her 2013 op-ed in USA Today, in which she said that collecting call records doesn’t count as surveillance if the actual conversations aren’t recorded. At the time, some people responded online by calling for her to publish a list of people whom she spoke to every day. “Of course, she would never do that,” Greenwald said.

    He also scorched MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus and The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg, who all said last year that they don’t feel threatened by the NSA’s surveillance.

    “If you look at those people, they all have something in common. They wake up every day and defend the people with the most power,” he said. “Of course they’re not threatened. They’re right — they probably don’t have anything to worry about.”

    “You will never hear, ‘Oh, I’m not interested in privacy'” among people who work for places like Wikileaks or the Occupy movement, he added. We all value privacy, he said, but it is especially crucial for dissidents and targeted groups — and anyone who might fall into those categories in the future.

  • Girl's Delightfully Old-Fashioned Letter Gets Her Dad A Week Off From Work At Google
    A Google employee is getting a week off work to spend with his daughter, thanks to an impassioned letter she wrote to his boss.

    google letter

    “Dear google worker,” the letter reads. “Can you please make sure when daddy goes to work, he gets one day off. Like he can get get a day off on wednesday. Because daddy ONLY gets a day off on saturday.”

    The little girl’s plea didn’t stop there.

    “P.S. It is daddy’s BIRTHDAY!” she wrote. “P.P.S. It is summer, you know.”

    Daniel Shiplacoff, the father’s boss apparently saw the letter and responded with a letter of his own.

    google letter

    Dear Katie,

    Thank you for your thoughtful note and request.

    Your father has been hard at work designing many beautiful and delightful things for Google and millions of people across the globe.

    On the occasion of his Birthday, and recognizing the importance of taking some Wednesdays off during the summer, we are giving him the whole first week of July as vacation time.


    Shiplacoff confirmed to HuffPost that the exchange was real and that his employee, whom he regards as a valued member of his team, will be getting the vacation time.

    (Hat tip, The Blaze)

  • How Accurate Is Your Activity Monitor? Fitbit, Jawbone And Others Put To The Test
    Your trusty activity monitor says you burned 300 calories during your morning run, but can you really trust it?

    According to a study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University, activity monitors may not be as accurate as you’d expect them to be, with some of the most popular devices on the market getting it wrong at least 10 percent of the time.

    “People buy these activity monitors assuming they work, but some of them are not that accurate or have never been tested before. These companies just produce a nice-looking device with a fancy display and people buy it,” study author Gregory Welk said, per a media release.

    For the study, which was published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Welk and his team tested the calorie-counting accuracy of eight activity monitors, including the Fitbit One, Jawbone Up and Nike FuelBand.

    Here’s how they fared (ranked by error rating):

    1. BodyMedia FIT: 9.3 percent
    2. Fitbit Zip: 10.1 percent
    3. Fitbit One: 10.4 percent
    4. Jawbone Up: 12.2 percent
    5. ActiGraph: 12.6 percent
    6. Directlife: 12.8 percent
    7. Nike FuelBand: 13 percent
    8. Basis Band: 23.5 percent

    The accuracy of activity monitors has come under scrutiny before.

    Researchers, for instance, previously expressed skepticism about the devices’ ability to track sleep and movement.

    Still, despite the imperfections, some researchers insist the benefits of activity monitors outweigh the flaws.

    “They may not be accurate [for counting calories],” Glenn Gaesser, the director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University in Phoenix, told The New York Times last year. “But for many people, they’re inspirational, and if using one gets someone to move more, then as far as I’m concerned, it’s serving a good purpose.”

    (Hat tip, CNN)

  • The Triumph of the (Internet) Commons
    Many social scientists believe that communities are bad at sharing in commons systems where access to a shared resource is free. Garret Hardin called this the tragedy of the commons (TOC) in a famous Science article. In reality, commons systems work very well and survive for centuries. Now the commons is thriving on the Internet.

    Hardin argued that if a herdsman puts out an additional animal that stresses the fragile grassland ecology, the benefit is to him alone, whereas the cost is borne by all other users of the commons. So the grassland gets overgrazed to the point of irreversible damage.

    Yet people are not stupid. They notice if other users of the commons break the rules. In reality, a commons system is a cooperative arrangement rather than a competitive Darwinian arena.

    Hardin Ignored Commons Self-Governance

    Economist Elinor Ostrom researched commons systems around the world. Contrary to the inevitable unfolding of Hardin’s tragedy, she found that some commons systems are stable over centuries and promote effective sharing of all manner of resources, from irrigation water to fish stocks, game animals, forest products, and roofing materials.

    Why do commons systems persist despite the self-interested temptation to cheat? The simple answer is that they work because they are effectively self-governed. When commons resources are both valuable and fragile, users are willing to bear a cost to themselves to ensure that the commons operates fairly and that access to that resource continues.

    Stable commons, such as those that regulate the use of scarce resources for mountaintop communities in Switzerland, work because they have detailed and effective systems of rules that are enforced by social conformity pressures and penalties.

    As electronic communities shrink distance, a generation of (mostly) young people has begun to look upon the Internet (and even the entire global ecosystem) as something tightly interconnected and mutually supportive, like a mountaintop community.

    Global Commons and the Internet

    The level of cooperation achieved on the Internet would be surprising if people really were the selfish brutes of the TOC. Instead, we find them sharing information and entertainment freely on sites like YouTube or Twitter and slogging away for the better good by writing and editing entries in Wikipedia. The cooperative economy involves not just sharing books and toys and even cars but extends into bastions of capitalism like banking and finance.

    The Internet allows people in developed countries to reach out across the globe and finance small businesses in microlending programs that breathe life into humble enterprises such as sheep breeders in Kazakhstan buying a new ram.

    The work of financial banks is also being taken on by crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Crowdfunder that put up the funds for projects such as doing historical research or building a solar plant.

    Donors may provide funds as gifts or opt to receive in-kind payments once the project is up and running, such as getting free vegetable deliveries from an urban garden.

    The philanthropic global commons is viable seemingly because donors enjoy meaningful participation in online communities that create a better, and more hopeful, world.

    Of course, participants can also make their own lives better by saving money. Parents are often frustrated by buying new clothes for their children and seeing the youngster outgrow them in a few months. ThredUp operates as a clothing commons that allows parents to share their castoffs with others, and it seems to work well because it operates under a system of sensible rules: The clothes must be in good condition, users are rated by peers, and cheats are ostracized after one warning. The Internet may be good for commons systems because it makes governance so efficient.

    Business professor Jeremy Rifkin of the Wharton School believes that the sharing economy will continue its rapid growth long into the future, until capitalist enterprises shrink to a small proportion of the global economy. He argues that Internet sharing brings down costs, thereby cutting into capitalist profits.

    Is capitalism really dying? As a keen observer of the financial world, I doubt that sharing is going to take the profit out of businesses. For instance, Microsoft continues to sell its products to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) even though rival products, such as Open Office, are shared online for free. It does so because it functions as a legal monopoly.

    There are many other legal monopolies, such as cable companies, banks that can stay in business mainly by charging arbitrary fees, oil companies that acquire drilling rights on public land for a song, not to mention hospitals and drug companies, among many others.

    In another post I explain why I think that the cooperative commons can continue to grow even as the profits to large corporations continue to rise. Just look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who, like Andrew Carnegie and others before them, put their outsized profits into the charitable commons.

  • The 50 Best Quotes From 2014 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity

    With another festival almost over, Cannes Lions continues to capture the intersection of entertainment, business, culture and advertising. The festival has hosted an amazing range of speakers — here are some of the standout quotes from this year.

    “More than ever before, culture is defined by mass society. Our job as marketers is to nurture it.” -@gannon_jones – Head of Brand Marketing at MillerCoors.

    “The last person I ever want working for me is someone who says ‘that’s not in my job description.” – @neiltyson – Astrophysicist

    “Building great brands is a mix of magic and logic, a blend of art and science.” – @keithweed – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever

    “Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.” – Gail Sheehy – Author

    “Rule of storytelling: When a character is shoved against a wall, shove them against a wall harder.” – Aaron Sorkin – Writer

    “The heart knows today what the mind will learn tomorrow.” – @ThamKhaiMeng – Worldwide Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather

    “Be Willing To Get Fired For A Good Idea.” – Spike Jonze – Director

    “You have to be able to swim in backlash.” – @kanyewest

    “Silence is not an option in a socially networked world.” – Wendy Clark @wnd – Coca-Cola Marketing Chief

    “With a lot of firsts comes a lot of pressure.” – David Wise – Olympic Gold Medalist

    “There’s never been such a premium on creativity. It must cut be used to cut through the clutter.” – @keithweed – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever

    “To achieve longevity you will have cycles. No one gets there in one straight shot.” – @RobLowe – Actor

    “The key is not in using technology for efficiency, but to create emotion to move people.” – Yasu Sasaki – Executive Creative Director at Dentsu

    “Think like a marketer. Behave like an entertainer. Move like a tech startup.” – PJ Pereira – Chief Creative Officer at Pereira & O’Dell

    “If we start expecting women to lead, we won’t be surprised when they do.” – @sherylsandberg – COO Facebook

    “Sport brings together the best values we have as human beings.” – Marcello Serpa – Creative

    “People who are winning will love you. People who are losing will hate you. Both are opportunities.” – Ash Bendelow – Managing Director of Brave

    “In fashion you have an inbuilt connection with a brand so content is not disruptive/invasive.” – @pulsefilms

    “Whether you work in social, mobile or data you need to step back & think about how to simplify” – @keithweed – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever

    “No one is dumb who is curious.” -@neiltyson – Astrophysicist

    “I hire people not roles. Limiting creativity to ‘creatives’ limits everyone. Set ideas free.” – Michael Lebowitz – Big Spaceship

    “Tell me the truth! Make my life more interesting or leave me the f**k alone.” – JaredLeto

    “Move from ‘marketing to people’, to ‘marketing with people’.” – @keithweed – Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Unilever

    “If all you have is your work, your work eventually suffers. You need to have work/life balance.” @RobLowe – Actor

    “We are all born creative. We just got it educated out of us.” -@ThamKhaiMeng – Worldwide Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy & Mather

    “If you don’t make mistakes you’re no longer on the frontier. The mistakes you make should be mistakes no one has ever made before.” – @neiltyson – Astrophysicist

    “Brands have positing and very often not a point of view.” – David Alberts – MOFILM

    “Don’t tell a little girl she’s bossy. Tell her she has executive leadership skills.” – Sheryl Sandberg – COO Facebook

    “We know that dreams fuel innovation.” – Bertrand Piccard – Co Pilot at Solar Impulse

    “Brands are selling our self-esteem back to us, through association. We need to own our brands.” – Kanye West

    “When advertising is great, it’s transcendent. It’s art.” -@JaredLeto

    “I veer away from trying to understand why I act. I just know I need to do it.” – Ralph Fiennes – Actor

    “Would I want to receive a one to one message from a brand, product or service that I like? Absolutely!” – @sherylsandberg – COO Facebook

    “When you’re feeling overwhelmed in business, one smart idea can beat the biggest Super Bowl ad.” – Courtney Love

    “Write what makes you laugh not what you think will make someone else laugh.” – @Aiannucci – Writer/Director

    “The intersection between linear storytelling and social engagement is the next big thing.” – Jeffrey Katzenberg – CEO of DreamWorks Animation

    “Speed trumps perfection.” – Wendy Clark @wnd – Coca-Cola Marketing Chief

    “The bridge between reality and a dream is work.” – @JaredLeto

    “Social is the gateway for what to watch and when.” – @MakerStudios

    “We are the creatives with teeth. We know ideas are more important than our personal wellbeing.” -@kanyewest

    “The new role of agencies is designers of narrative spaces for brands.” – @Sid_Aarki – CEO of Aarki

    “I like to judge on the jealousy factor.” – Promo Lions Juror

    “We produce 15 percent of the content. Consumers produce 85 percent.” – Wendy Clark @wnd – Coca-Cola Marketing Chief

    “An important part of a work relationship is shared values: What is authentically you and what is authentically us?” – @SteveStoute – Translation

    “We need to push the envelope by creating more immersive non-linear stories.” – @gastonleg – Worldwide Chief Creative Officer at SapientNitro

    “There would have been no Beats deal without [Jay Z’s] Samsung deal.” – Kanye West

    “Stop making ads! Start making content!” – @erin_mcpherson – Chief Content Officer at Maker Studios

    “We have to do work that matters. It’s not more, it’s more GOOD.” – Wendy Clark @wnd – Coca-Cola Marketing Chief

    “Creativity is not a verb but a noun. Let’s stop activities and processes and focus on actually making creative things.” – RP Kumar – EVP International Strategic Planning at Ketchum

    “Do really, really well in the important things. Not in all.” – Ash Bendelow

    “I built a career on volunteering for the hard stuff.” – Maryam Banikarim – CMO at Gannet

  • Navigating the 'Fog of Data Ignorance'
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    “Part lies, part heart, part truth, part garbage” — this quip from R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck back in the ’80s says a lot about the Big Data anxieties Jennifer Golbeck discusses in her new TED Talk. The conflicting feelings people have about big data breed confusion. With apologies to Churchill, it’s a conundrum, wrapped in a dilemma, agitated by distrust and evidently correlated with how much you like curly fries.

    Having led a global initiative for a number of years strengthening the trust, transparency and empowerment of individuals in the use of personal data, I couldn’t agree more with Jennifer on the overwhelming complexity of personal data. The conundrums she points to are the emerging attributes of a hyperconnected world. Whining about the complexity of modern times won’t help.

    As Senior TED Fellow Eric Berlow notes, we need to get to the other side of complexity — to simplicity. But getting there will be no simple task. The personal data narrative is conflated, the uncertainties are expanding, and we are all shrouded in what author David Brin calls a “fog of data ignorance.” Anxieties are high. The trust deficit is deep. Many have resigned themselves to saying (to crib another R.E.M. lyric), “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”

    And I feel fine. Jennifer’s TED Talk is an example of a richer, more nuanced, and globally informed dialogue on personal data that is quickly gaining momentum. The energy fuelling the ascendant narrative comes from multiple sources. For example, the voices of the most vulnerable and the global south are being addressed in the open data movement, the risks of data harms (at the individual, community and societal level) are being evaluated and managed in increasingly pragmatic and practical ways. Global research initiatives (PDF) on innovative personal data management systems (which granularly assess the context of usage to ensure the consent of individuals) are taking root.

    Lots of good stuff is happening and Jennifer’s talk provides a front line perspective on pragmatic ways to move forward. Most importantly, her talk highlights the need for effective transparency, particularly with respect to how the high priests of data science can glean insights from seemingly innocuous bits of digital exhaust. But as everyone knows, transparency is itself a paradox; with too much transparency, you get a haze of opacity. Those 30-page end user agreements we all agree to, but never read, are just one example of opacity through transparency.

    Effective transparency is not a one-way mirror that reduces individuals to being spectators on how their data is used. Instead, meaningful transparency requires both inbound and outbound information flows. It requires institutions (commercial and governmental) to listen and act upon the wants and needs of individuals. We need better feedback loops and tools to strengthen the choice and control individuals have over how data about them is used in a variety of contexts. And the burden and risks can’t just rest on the shoulders of individuals. The ecosystem needs to pivot even further from being user-centric to being holistically user-centered.

    Additionally, beyond Jennifer’s insights that arise when individuals actively and intentionally like certain things (such as curly fries) on Facebook, we also need to be aware of the increasing volumes of passively observed and inferred data that are continually generated about us and arguably even more powerful when combined with other data. Beneath our awareness, billions of connected sensors and advanced algorithms are creating highly detailed profiles about us and enabling increasingly accurate inferences about our future intentions. Being in the dark about all the raw data that’s being collected about us is one thing. But being blind to the inferences and probabilities of our own personal futures is another. As noted legal scholars Mireille Hildebrandt, Tarleton Gillespie, Nicholas Diakopoulos and Ryan Calo all separately note, we need to focus on the accountability of algorithms and the sharing of intended consequences to individuals.

    I know that last sentence was a mouthful. Have another curly fry, watch Jen’s talk one more time and think about it.

    We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com.

  • 12 Female Characters Disney Will Never Make Movies About
    Disney princesses tend to fit a certain mold. They are pretty and enigmatic, and they are good role models. After the release of “Frozen,” however, some questioned if Princess Elsa and her sister, Anna, were good enough role models for viewers. That is when a DreamWorks animator named Jason Porath began wondering which other female characters might land on a “reject” list.

    Then, the idea for Rejected Princesses was born. The site consists of a collection of illustrations featuring interesting female characters who Porath believes deserve some “time in the sun.”

    “The idea behind the illustrations falls under two categories: it’s part satire of the narrow mold that mainstream animated movies have historically fallen under, and part putting the spotlight on lesser-known stories that I, at least, find super interesting,” Porah told The Huffington Post in an email Friday.

    “Disney (or DreamWorks, or Blue Sky, or whomever else) could totally make sanitized versions of these stories if they wanted to — I think there’s ample evidence of that out there,” he continued. “The point is that most of the women I’ve illustrated don’t fit the ‘kid-friendly animated princess’ template, and the resulting marriage of that idea with their stories is often hilariously incongruous.”

    Porath quit his job at DreamWorks shortly after discussing the controversy surrounding the “Frozen” characters in order to pursue independent ventures, according to E! News. Rejected Princesses is now his focus, and he hopes to one day compile their tales in a book.

    He acknowledged to HuffPost that animation studios are progressing and expanding their storytelling.

    “The animation industry in general is gradually moving forward with more interesting and varied depictions of women … and I’m excited to see where that takes us.”

    Check out some of the women below and head over to Rejected Princesses to read their stories.

    [h/t io9]

  • Yo Hacked Just Days After $1 Million Investment
    Yo, an app whose function consists solely of messaging the word “yo” to other people — and whose rise says a lot about the overwhelming absurdity of Silicon Valley — has been hacked.

    TechCrunch reported on Thursday evening that three Georgia Tech students had claimed to gain access to the app’s phone numbers. One of them told the site that “we can get any Yo user’s phone number.” Yo founder Or Abel later confirmed that his app was undergoing “security issues,” and that “some of the stuff has been fixed and some we are still working on. We are taking this very seriously.” Yo users reported the issues on Twitter:

    Yo, I’ve been hacked http://t.co/Il1TGRS653 pic.twitter.com/HyFS8jy5TA

    — Derek Ross (@derekmross) June 20, 2014

    Yo may be little more than a gimmick. But it’s a gimmick that has received more than $1 million in funding. After The Financial Times reported on Yo’s financial backing and its origin story — the app was created in a mere eight hours — it took off in popularity and created a Twitter firestorm. As of this writing, it ranked as the third most downloaded free app for the iPhone.

  • Big Data, Democracy and The Path Not Taken
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    Computer scientist Jennifer Golbeck’s TED Talk, ‘”The Curly Fry Conundrum: Why Social Media ‘Likes’ Say More Than You Might Think,” performs a critical public service: enlightening Internet users about how little control they really have over their personal information in an environment where even a seemingly benign ‘like’ of a fast food item can be used to predict highly personal user traits. Those who already make a conscientious effort to protect sensitive information about their finances, medical or sexual history, political or religious allegiances will be especially disturbed to learn the extent to which their online discretion can be thwarted by increasingly sophisticated algorithms combined with the power of large commercial data sets.

    Yet in concluding that the path to legal and policy solutions to this problem is hopelessly blocked by failed political institutions and craven corporate disregard for consumer interests, Golbeck succumbs to a dangerous, self-fulfilling fatalism, one all too common among other well-meaning proponents of her alternative solution — namely, to simply arm individual users with more digital tools to fight back.

    First, it is hard to share Golbeck’s faith that in the absence of collective action, individual consumers seeking to protect themselves are likely to win an escalating technological arms race against entrenched big data interests whose profit margins depend on the status quo. Of course, given that consumers are already at a considerable disadvantage, improved tools to empower them to protect their own information will be welcome. Yet even if Golbeck is right that there are large numbers of consumer-friendly computer scientists eager to develop affordable, easy-to-use tools to help users assess the risk of their actions online, or to securely encrypt their data, are we to imagine that the parties whose business models currently depend on consumer helplessness will simply wave the white flag? Or will they employ their massive advantages in wealth, size, technoscientific capital and political influence to blunt the effect of these new consumer tools or render them technically obsolete?

    As Golbeck herself admits, in the realm of online commerce users are increasingly the product being traded, rather than informed parties consenting to a mutual transaction over which they have real negotiating power. Given such massive asymmetry, can individual consumers really count on being rescued by a disorganized corps of publically minded, self-funded computer scientists, hackers and software engineers riding white-horse algorithms?

    More dangerous, however, is Golbeck’s suggestion that we must resign ourselves to the fact that our elected representatives and the political/legal institutions they supposedly serve will not be among the cavalry. She notes, “it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to get a bunch of representatives to sit down, learn about this, and then enact sweeping changes to intellectual property law in the U.S. so users control their data.” Of course, this sort of thing — sitting down, learning about important matters of public welfare, and making the necessary legal and policy changes to serve the public interest — is actually those representatives’ entire job. What should truly shock the democratic conscience is how many Americans today likely share Golbeck’s view that it is futile to expect our own lawmakers to do their work of protecting us, and that we must instead find better ways to do it for them.

    Evgeny Morozov is right when he claims that a poisonous synergy is growing between optimistic predictions of technological fixes to social problems on the one hand, and political ‘realism’ (read: fatalistic cynicism) about the prospects of modern democratic institutions on the other. This confluence of techno-optimism and political pessimism has engendered a gradual shift in the perceived burden of protecting the public interest, lifting the expected burden from those powers whose very political legitimacy depends on their providing such protection, and shifting the burden back to private individuals, who still pay their taxes and perform a range of civic duties in exchange for the protection they no longer expect to receive.

    Our current political leadership, many of whom openly pride themselves on obstructing rather than performing actual governance, are thus not unlike spoiled adult children subsidized by a public who, like passive, broken-down parents, find it easier to just keep writing checks than to demand and enforce a new arrangement.

    Golbeck is absolutely right that emerging science and technology — and I include big data and predictive algorithms — have immense untapped potential to benefit the public interest and to help individuals protect and freely exercise their political, economic and personal autonomy. But she is wrong to suggest that this potential can be secured without first renewing Americans’ flagging political determination to be governed well.

    We want to know what you think. Join the discussion by posting a comment below or tweeting #TEDWeekends. Interested in blogging for a future edition of TED Weekends? Email us at tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com.

  • 15 Seconds to Infamy
    Ubiquity is not tantamount to notoriety. In fact, it may be a recipe for anonymity. Due to Big Data, everyone has less than Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame. In fact, 15 minutes of fame in our current technocracy is enough to create a hagiography since it’s such an anomaly. The bar has dropped in terms of fame, but the mass of men who live Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation” exhale just a breath, a small cry which is quickly swallowed up by the next bottom feeder, with the food chain itself growing larger and more desperate at the bottom and increasingly rarified at the top.

    This is the essence of Facebook whose narcotic is the enticement of a validation that’s quickly flushed into oblivion. It’s almost a paradigm of addiction with hope spiking a high, followed by the come down and the need for another dose of fleeting attention. Evanescence is the constant in this equation. And yes, it’s very much like flushing the toilet. You go on FB and flush your exultation into a chorus of wails and cheers. And here is the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics.

    The loudness and frequency of the cry (the number of flushes) is inversely proportionate to the amount of attention you will receive. So if you want to half your infamy, respond to “What’s on your mind?” on your Facebook homepage twice as frequently. It’s like the lynching victim whose cries for mercy only whet the appetite of the mob. We are all on our way to being silenced. Once you’re born you begin to die. But in the current environment naked attention seeking is a recipe for obsolescence. Indifference is a swarm of cyber bees attacking with their own poisonous bytes.

    This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy’s blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.

  • Things Get Surprisingly Deep When CollegeHumor Dares You To Watch A 3-Minute Video
    Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those scary pop-up pranks. All you have to do is sit still for three minutes.

    In a video that’s part satire, part PSA and (oddly enough) part meditation exercise, CollegeHumor’s Adam Conover dares you to watch this video. The entire thing. Without fast-forwarding. Or pausing. Or opening up a new tab.

    Honestly, it’s harder than you might think.

    Watch until the end. Why? Because he dared you, of course, but don’t be surprised if you come away from it with a renewed sense of understanding about the time you spend online.

  • Path launches separate Path Talk messaging app for iOS, Android
    Social network Path has spun off its chat functions into a separate app for iPhone and Android users, Path Talk. One of the app’s key features is security; although messages won’t vanish instantly, Path is promising that they’ll be deleted from servers 24 hours after delivery. Another feature is Ambient Status, which can be used to tell Path contacts when a person is nearby, traveling, or even when their device is low on battery.

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