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Mobile Technology News, July 31, 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 Seeds OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 Beta 1 to Developers

    In what will likely be its last significant update, Apple has seeded OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 Beta 1 to their developer community today.    The beta is available exclusively through the Apple Developer portal and is accompanied by a beta version of Safari 7.0.6.  As we all know, OS X Yosemite will supersede Mavericks in […]

    The post Apple Seeds OS X Mavericks 10.9.5 Beta 1 to Developers appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Samsung profit hit by phone slowdown
    Profits at Samsung Electronics fall 20% in the second quarter, hurt mainly by a slowdown in smartphone sales and a strong Korean currency.
  • FCC Chair Asks Verizon To Explain 'Disturbing' Plan to Slow Wireless Speeds
    The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday called Verizon’s new plan to reduce speeds for certain data-guzzling wireless customers “deeply troubling” and asked the company to justify the policy.

    Verizon said last week it would begin slowing speeds for wireless customers with unlimited data plans who stream large amounts of high-definition video on their phones. The company said the policy would start in October and would only apply to customers who are in the top 5 percent of data users and are connected to cell towers with high demand.

    The company said the policy was for “network management” and told customers they could switch from an unlimited plan to a usage-based plan, which would not be affected. Usage-based plans, however, are subject to data caps and financial penalties for customers who exceed them. Such plans have become a lucrative part of many wireless carriers’ business models.

    In a letter Wednesday to Verizon Wireless, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he found the company’s new policy “disturbing” and suggested it may be a “loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams.”

    Wheeler asked the company to explain how the new policy does not violate rules the company agreed to follow when it was given permission to use the wireless spectrum to offer 4G wireless service. Under those rules, Verizon is barred from interfering with customers’ wireless experience, except for “reasonable network management” like maintaining security and reducing congestion. Verizon could be fined up to $1.5 million if it is found to be violating FCC rules, according to an agency spokeswoman.

    “It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its ‘network management’ on distinctions among its customers’ data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology,” Wheeler wrote.

    “I know of no past Commission statement that would treat as ‘reasonable network management’ a decision to slow traffic to a user who has paid, after all, for ‘unlimited’ service,” he added.

    The rules Wheeler cited are unrelated to the debate over net neutrality, the idea that Internet providers treat all Web content the same.

    Verizon wireless spokesman Thomas Pica declined to comment on Wheeler’s letter, saying the company had not yet reviewed it.

    “However, what we announced last week was a highly targeted and very limited network optimization effort, only targeting cell cites experiencing high demand,” Pica said in an email. “The purpose is to ensure there is capacity for everyone in those limited circumstances, and that high users don’t limit capacity for others.”

  • Broken robots 'learn to keep going'
    Engineers take a step towards having machines that can operate even when they are damaged by developing a robot that can teach itself to walk, even with a broken leg.
  • Can one bad blog blight a business?
    Can firms defend themselves against irate reviews?
  • Shakira Dethrones Volkswagen's 'The Force' As Most Shared Ad Of All Time
    The force is no longer with the Darth Vader kid.

    The Volkswagen ad “The Force,” which featured a child dressed as the iconic Star Wars character, was dethroned as the most shared ad of all time by Shakira’s “trackvertising” World Cup video with Activia, according to marketing technology company Unruly.

    The pint-size galactic menace premiered during the 2011 Super Bowl and in those three years has been shared 5,372,945 times via Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere according to Unruly’s data. The Colombian singer, however, beat those numbers in a little over two months.

    Shak produced her World Cup-inspired video for her single “La La La” in collaboration with Activia yogurt, and in support of the World Food Program. The video shows the company’s logo at the beginning and the end but also subtly features extras drawing the brand’s iconic smile on their stomachs throughout the production.

    Since its debut on May 22, the “La La La” music video has garnered 5,375,756 shares. The collaboration is what Unruly is calling “the most successful example of a brand capitalizing on the growing trend of ‘trackvertising,’ where a brand and musical artist co-release a video which is both a musical track and advertisement.”

    The video’s partnership with the UN’s World Food Program has also helped millions of children. A link below the YouTube video connects viewers to a page where they can donate towards the organization’s mission to provide nutritious school meals across the world.

    Currently, the website says it has been able to provide 3,719, 250 meals thanks to the partnership.

    “It is fantastic to see such a positive response for the video,” Activia’s global marketing director Nicolas Frerejean told Unruly. “Reaching more than 250 million views and becoming the Most Shared Ad of All Time in just two months is incredible! We are delighted that we have been able to relay our message of support to the World Food Programme through the video ‘La La La (Brazil 2014).’ Partnering with Shakira to support the School Meals initiative is a great fit between Activia’s beliefs in good nutrition for all and the engagement that Shakira has demonstrated for a long time to support access for every child to quality education.”

    The video’s success should come as no surprise considering Shakira was recently crowned the most liked person on Facebook, with over 100 million followers.

    “I can interact meaningfully with [fans] on a regular basis. And the response is immediate,” the singer told the Wall Street Journal. “[Having the most popular Facebook page] is something I never necessarily anticipated but a really welcoming and heartwarming surprise.”

    Say good-bye to Kid Vader below and hello to Shakira’s reigning “trackvertisement” above.

  • A Dad's Hysterical Attempt at Decoding Hashtags
    Explaining “what you do” to your parents is not exactly easy when you work in social media. I know, I know — Facebook is now considered “your mom’s social media outlet,” but even if she does have a profile (which mine does not), she still likely thinks all a social media manager does is play around on Facebook and Twitter all day. Being in the field myself, I know that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

    When I attempt to explain what I’m doing at work to my parents, they try their best to understand, but I know they have no idea what I just said to them. In an effort to educate my parents about social media and show how different generations use it, I asked my 60-year-old dad to define the following popular hashtags. And even I couldn’t have imagined all of the glorious, absurd things he came up with.

    #TBT
    Dad’s answer: To Be Tagged (At least he’s speaking “social media lingo” here.)
    Correct answer: Throwback Thursday

    #OOTD
    Dad’s answer: Over Out, Totally Done (But, we’re just getting started with this, Dad.)
    Correct answer: Outfit of the Day

    #YOLO
    Dad’s answer: Your Love (Yes, just “your love.”)
    Correct answer: You Only Live Once

    #FOMO
    Dad’s answer: For Our Mutual Offering
    Correct answer: Fear of Missing Out

    #WCW
    Dad’s answer: Will Call Wednesday (My pops really likes events, apparently.)
    Correct answer: Woman Crush Wednesday

    #MCM
    Dad’s answer: Man Crush Monday (I gave him a hint on this one, but you go, dad!)
    Correct answer: Man Crush Monday

    #TFM
    Dad’s answer: Totally Foul Mood
    Correct answer: Total Frat Move

    #F4F
    Dad’s answer: Fun For Family (I’m having fun…)
    Correct answer: Follow For Follow

    #SMH
    Dad’s answer: Sign My Hat
    Correct answer: Shaking My Head

    #ICYMI
    Dad’s answer: I Caught You Messaging Internally
    Correct answer: In Case You Missed It

    Well, he got one correct at least, right? When I read off the correct answer coupled with his awesomely wrong responses, we all had a good laugh. I think it’s apparent that my dad knows less about social media (and my job) than he thought. Now that he does know what these popular hashtags mean, it won’t be long before we see his outfit of the day. Either way, he was a good sport about the whole thing. #FunForFamily

  • New Kindle Feature Suggested By The Onion Would Actually Solve Glaring Problem With E-Readers
    The rise of e-readers may have made the success of books like Fifty Shades Of Grey possible by allowing people to read privately in public, but that doesn’t mean that privacy doesn’t come with its own set of problems.

    Simply put, if you’re making your way through James Joyce’s Ulysses, you want people to know you’re making your way through James Joyce’s Ulysses. Showing off a little is your right as a book reader.

    But e-readers make it so that the titles you’re reading are visible only to you — a clear design flaw for proud members of the literati.

    Thankfully, satirical news site The Onion came up with the perfect solution in the video above.

    In addition to being thinner and smarter, The Onion’s redesigned Kindle would also “loudly and repeatedly announce the title of the book you’re reading so that everyone knows how smart you are.” So whether you’re chapters-deep in Vonnegut or paging your way through Murakami, you (and your incredible taste in literature) are set.

    “You know, I wasn’t planning on getting a tablet. I love that feeling of paper in your hands as you angle the cover for everyone to see, but this Kindle is just as good,” says Brandon Soloner, (fake) Kindle Flare user.

    The Onion also imagines what Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz would (probably not) say if the product was released: “The only thing that matters is getting my work into the hands of readers, so they can impress strangers and maybe sleep with someone who thinks they’re interesting.”

    Prepare your e-bookshelves, readers. This Kindle Flare is starting to sound like a really good idea.

  • Amazon Will Pay You $1 To Choose Slow Shipping
    One of the best things about being an Amazon Prime member is getting free, two-day shipping.

    Prime members with a little patience, however, are now getting an extra benefit: $1.

    Starting Wednesday, prime members who choose “No-Rush” shipping on any order will get a $1 credit for Amazon’s Instant Video> service.

    The Instant Video service offers new releases like “Snowpiercer.” It’s different from Prime Instant video, which offers some free video to Prime members.

    amazon shipping

    You can watch the videos on your computer, phone, tablet or via a streaming video device like a Roku. Your “No-Rush” order will arrive in 5-7 business days.

    Amazon raised the price of Prime by 25 percent — to $99 from $79 — earlier this year, citing increased fuel and shipping costs.

    The promotion is a brilliant way for Amazon to get people more comfortable with downloading movies and TV shows from its service, or, put another way, get more people into Amazon’s “content ecosystem.” If you’ve spent a few months getting discounts on downloads, and built up an Amazon library of movies and shows, then you may be more likely to go back to Amazon for full price purchases — instead of, say, iTunes, which has similar stuff.

    Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Timothy Stenovec contributed reporting.

    [via Yahoo Tech]

  • Westboro Baptist Church Will Protest Pretty Much Every Tech Company
    The Westboro Baptist Church is heading out on a “God Hates the Media Tour,” with plans to picket pretty much every major technology company in Silicon Valley.

    ValleyWag noted WBC’s announcement on Wednesday. The quasi-religious group, known for its vitriolic anti-gay rhetoric and picketing of funerals, will kick off its latest crusade on Aug. 12. Facebook, Google and Apple headquarters are just a few of the sites on the docket.

    From a July 25 press release about the stunt:

    God hates the media; in all its forms. God did not set these social media networks in place to facilitate perverts pursuing their divers filth; nor do they exist for paedophile grooming, spreading sodomite agenda, other wicked political ropaganda or propagating mountains of false doctrine. On the contrary, all these media platforms have one purpose; to spread the gospel far and wide. Though you labour in vain to demonize and stop the words we speak; you only succeed causing more people to see, hear and be convicted [all sic].

    The WBC’s rationale behind the slew of tech protests is muddled.

    In a release about the Apple picket, the group calls the company’s late co-founder, Steve Jobs, “a rich, proud fool who now inhabits hell.” The group is also protesting YouTube, because the site “has a long history of removing videos and comments that are biblically accurate.”

    Even Reddit is a target of the Aug. 12 event, because the site’s late co-founder, Aaron Swartz, was “a poster boy for this online community: a fag, an atheist and a thief.”

    Before the tour begins, however, WBC will host a Reddit AMA on Aug. 10. We’re expecting a level-headed and informative exchange of ideas.

    See the full press release below.

    westboro

  • 16 Instagram Accounts Every Pit Bull Lover Should Follow
    It’s #PitBullWeek here at HuffPost, a time to celebrate the often overlooked and under-appreciated pups that many have come to know and love.

    While many shelter pets are in need of a loving forever home (if you’re looking for a new companion, check out these adoption sites, or head to your local shelter), not all of us are in a place to adopt just yet. So, if you don’t have your own pit bull handy to cover you in kisses, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best pibble-related Instagram accounts out there to help you get your fix.

    Take a look, and if you do have a pooch of your own, tweet a photo to @HuffPostGreen or upload one to Instagram and tag them #PitBullWeek. We’ll share some of the best on our social accounts.

    HuffPost Green is launching a week-long, community-driven effort to bust the myths and raise awareness about pit bulls, a maligned “breed” that often bears the brunt of dated, discriminatory legislation that can make it near impossible for these dogs to find a forever home. You can follow along with HuffPost Pit Bull Week here, or on Facebook and Twitter where we’ll be using the hashtag #PitBullWeek.

  • Tor attack may have unmasked users
    Users of the “dark net” service Tor who visited hidden websites may have had their identities revealed by a five-month long cyber-attack.
  • The Milky Way Galaxy May Be Way Less Massive Than We Thought It Was
    Surprise! Our home galaxy is no pipsqueak, but it isn’t nearly as massive as scientists used to think.

    Astronomers often refer to the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, which is around 2.6 million light-years away from us, as the “twin galaxy” of our own Milky Way. But a new study indicates that the two galaxies are quite different when it comes to mass. The research, from an international team of scientists, shows that the Milky Way is about half as massive as Andromeda.

    “We always suspected that Andromeda is more massive than the Milky Way, but weighing both galaxies simultaneously proved to be extremely challenging,” researcher Dr. Jorge Peñarrubia, an astrophysics lecturer at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said in a written statement. “Our study combined recent measurements of the relative motion between our galaxy and Andromeda with the largest catalogue of nearby galaxies ever compiled to make this possible.”

    Some previous studies indicated that the Milky Way is more massive than Andromeda, but the researchers said that these studies measured only the mass of the inner regions of our galaxy neighbor and not the outer regions.

    For the new study, the researchers measured the speed, position, and motion of nearby smaller galaxies. Then they used those measurements to arrive at an estimate of the shape and mass of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

    “By studying two massive galaxies that are close to each other and the galaxies that surround them, we can take what we know about gravity and pair that with what we know about expansion to get an accurate account of the mass contained in each galaxy,” one of the researchers, Dr. Matthew Walker, an assistant professor of physics at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said in a written statement. “This is the first time we’ve been able to measure these two things simultaneously.”

    And the mass of a galaxy includes its dark matter as well as its ordinary, visible matter. Dark matter appears invisible because it doesn’t absorb, reflect, or emit light — but scientists know it exists because they see its gravitational effects in the universe.

    Dark matter makes up 90 percent of each galaxy’s mass, according to the researchers. But, they say, Andromeda contains twice as much dark matter as the Milky Way.

    Most of the weight of these galaxies is present in the form of invisible dark matter,” Dr. Yin-Zhe Ma, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia in Canada, who was also involved in the study, said in a written statement. “We don’t know much about dark matter so this discovery means we’ll get a chance to study it from within our own galaxy.”

    The new study was published in the current issue of the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

  • Teen Behind Hilarious Celeb Parody Photos: Ignore Bullies And 'Embrace Difference'
    Liam Martin is Instagram’s teen version of “Weird Al” Yankovic.

    His cheeky celebrity tributes toe the line between parody and promotion, but the results are so funny it ultimately doesn’t matter if they’re an homage or not — and the Internet seems to agree. Under the handle @waverider_, the 17-year-old New Zealander has amassed more than 1.5 million Instagram followers, largely by riffing on iconic celebrity portraits.

    SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS

    He’s covered Miley Cyrus’ infamous wrecking ball to Kim Kardashian’s Vegas Magazine cover. But any target is seemingly fair game — even wearing “oversize sweaters.”

    Liam told The Huffington Post he first started with the celebrity riffs after dressing up like the Little Mermaid. “The photo was a success and really seemed to entertain people,” he said. “So I decided to keep doing that.”

    Despite his apparent popularity, Martin, who describes himself as “very weird and open,” is an outspoken advocate against online bullying.

    “Doing what I do generates a backlash of negative comments,” he told HuffPost. “People need to be careful about what they say to others and embrace difference, as opposed to trying to destroy it.”

    In a five-minute YouTube video posted last year, Liam spoke out against bullying, self harm and suicide, telling Buzzfeed he hopes to help people feel more comfortable in their own skin.

    Check out some of Liam’s cheeky parodies, below:

    For more, visit Liam’s Instagram page.

  • 11 Ways To Lose All Your Friends On Social Media
    Social media affords you the chance to be a wonderful mix of creative, connected and ever-so-slightly self-centered. The right balance keeps your friends and followers up-to-date on your life without being overwhelming. Sadly, this is a lot easier said than done. Here are some ways that you may be falling towards the more annoying side of the spectrum, arranged by social network.

    Facebook:

    1. Writing on your best friend’s wall too often
    We know you two are texting (or sitting next to each other) while you’re writing on each other’s walls, so are five posts a day really necessary? We’re totally happy that you’ve found your soulmate and everything, but try to keep these posts to a minimum.

    2. Changing your profile picture every day
    We understand that you have daily profile picture remorse and feel the need to switch back and forth between your four most recent defaults, but don’t punish the rest of us for your indecision. Pick one and just stick to it for a little while. You look great, we promise.

    Instagram:

    3. Instagramming every meal you eat
    Everybody thinks to themselves, “Food Instagrams are so annoying, but I just can’t help myself on this one. This _____ looks so delicious, I have to Insta it!” No, you don’t. That is what foodporndaily.com is for. So unless you’re absolutely dying to Instagram the cookie cake you just spent your Friday night baking, please refrain.

    4. Two in one day
    This is self-explanatory. If you’re Instagramming two pictures in one day (and it’s not your birthday or some seriously special occasion), you know what you’re doing isn’t right. Restrain yourself. You can Instagram the second one tomorrow.

    5. Inside joke captions
    We want to like this picture of you and your friend because it’s cute, but if you make the caption something really cryptic and inside joke-y, we feel like we’re out of the loop and probably won’t toss it a like. So proceed at your own risk.

    Snapchat:

    6. Ten in a row with zero responses
    If you’re sending out a bunch of mass snaps to someone who never responds, it may be time to take them off the go-to list. It’s possible they enjoy them and just can’t match your level of wittiness with a response, but better to be safe than sorry. Save your hilarity for those that respond.

    7. 400-second Snapchat stories
    Yes, we have seen this. No one is interesting enough for 400 seconds of snaps. Edit this down, we beg of you.

    8. Legitimate conversation over Snapchat
    Why are you trying to make plans with me over Snapchat? You have my number. There’s no reason to send me a selfie with a caption that says “Wanna hang out tonight?” Just text me — it makes infinitely more sense.

    Twitter:

    9. Extremely vague tweets
    You know this isn’t a diary, right? People are supposed to be able to understand what you’re referring to in your tweet. So tweeting something that is supposed to seem intriguing and dramatic like, “It’s the worst when this happens,” or “OMG so excited, 3 more hours!” will only frustrate your followers. We will favorite your tweet when you elaborate.

    10. Subtweeting
    Subtweeting is when you tweet at someone but you don’t tag them. This is sort of like vague tweets, except kind of worse, because you’re attempting to be vague, but in reality it’s clear who you’re talking about. For example, “I hope you’re happy with her.” Here it’s clear that the tweeter is referring to her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend, and it’s making us sort of uncomfortable. Avoid if at all possible.

    11. Changing your name so many times on Twitter that we don’t know who you are
    If it takes us over 30 seconds to figure out who you are every time you tweet, you have gone too far. There’s nothing wrong with your real name. Or that nickname that you’ve had forever. But keep it at that.

    Obviously, we are all guilty of these bad habits from time to time. It’s easy to slip when you’re bored or having a particularly great time with your friends. That said, if we can ban together and try to eliminate these social media faux-pas, it will be a happier world for all.

  • Snapchat, A Company That Has Never Made Any 'Money,' Is Valued At $10 Billion
    Snapchat, the company behind the app that made disappearing photos cool, is in talks with Chinese investors about an investment that would value the company at $10 billion, Bloomberg News is reporting.

    That number, if you didn’t catch it the first time, is a one followed by 10 zeros. Coincidentally, $0 is the exact amount of revenue this company has generated in its existence, as far as we know. Welcome to the tech industry.

    According to Bloomberg, the group of investors includes Alibaba, the mega-success Internet company that’s essentially the Chinese version of Amazon. These guys aren’t dumb. The reason Snapchat or any other company without a way of making money raises funding is that investors expect them to be super-profitable someday.

    A Snapchat spokesperson declined to comment on the valuation when reached by email.

    Brushing off early, big-dollar offers is a large part of how Facebook became Facebook and Google became Google. Coincidentally, both of those companies reportedly tried to buy Snapchat for $3 billion and $4 billion, respectively. Snapchat is said to have turned down both offers.

    It’s hard to reconcile what money means to regular folk — who spend 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. collecting it to feed and bathe themselves — with what money means in Silicon Valley. Burger King and Western Union, which don’t get to breathe the air under California’s tech bubble, must sell hamburgers or process wire transfers to justify their own $10 billion valuations.

    Even in Silicon Valley terms, $10 billion is a crazy big number. Airbnb and Dropbox are also valued at $10 billion, based on their most recent rounds of funding this year. Small difference between those two and Snapchat: They have revenue, and Snapchat doesn’t.

    After enduring mockery for turning down billions to hold onto his little disappearing-photo app, Snapchat’s 24-year-old CEO Evan Spiegel suddenly looks like the smartest guy in the room. The only thing we can mock him about now are the misogynistic emails from his fraternity days in college.

    Could he be building a new Facebook or Google? Maybe. But there’s another possible fate. In 2010, Groupon’s Andrew Mason turned down a $6 billion overture from Google. Today, Mason, who has since been fired from Groupon, is a self-employed musician.

    This story was updated with a reply from Snapchat.

  • New 'Interstellar' Trailer Is Out Of This World Amazing
    Christopher Nolan surprised Comic-Con attendees last week by premiering the new trailer for his forthcoming feature “Interstellar,” and now hoi polloi can experience the fun all on their own. Paramount released a new teaser for “Interstellar” on Wednesday, one day after a snazzy new website for the film appeared. This one looks incredible, mysterious and thrilling. Nolan mentioned “2001: A Space Odyssey” during his Comic-Con appearance, so that should give fans a baseline of what to anticipate. Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and your blown mind star in “Interstellar,” which arrives in theaters on Nov. 7. Watch the trailer over at the “Interstellar” website by punching in the access code “7201969″ (the date of the moon landing). An official embeddable version of the “Interstellar” trailer will be available on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET, but it’s up on YouTube here now in an unofficial capacity.

    interstellar trailer

    interstellar trailer

  • Amazon Finally Explains Why It's Fighting A Big Publisher
    Amazon is finally opening up about its fight with publisher Hachette.

    The two companies have been embroiled in contentious negotiations over e-book pricing for months. Until now, no one was talking about the specifics of the deal.

    In a post on the Kindle forum Tuesday afternoon, Amazon said it wants to lower the price of most e-books it sells to $9.99. Thirty percent of the sale would go to Amazon, 35 percent to the author, and the remaining 35 percent would go to the publisher.

    “A key objective is lower e-book prices,” the message, signed by the Amazon Books Team, said. The company added that $14.99 and $19.99 for e-book titles are “unjustifiably high” prices because the digital books don’t have the same printing, warehousing, transportation or other costs bound books do. “E-books can be and should be less expensive,” Amazon said.

    In the Kindle forum note, Amazon said it thinks Hachette isn’t giving enough of the profits from e-books to authors. “But ultimately that is not our call,” the company wrote. Amazon’s proposed solution is to lower prices, which it says will mean more money all around because customers will buy more books.

    According to the company, customers would buy 1.74 copies of an e-book priced at $9.99 for every copy of an e-book priced at $14.99. When a lot of e-books are sold — Amazon used 100,000 copies as an example — that math works out in favor of everyone, at least according to Amazon.

    “[I]f customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000,” Amazon said. “So, at $9.99, the total pie is bigger,” Amazon noted.

    Amazon also said the lower prices are necessary to compete against “mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more.”

    Michael Pietsch, the Hachette Book Group CEO, offered the publisher’s take on the controversy to The New York Times earlier this month. “This controversy shouldn’t be misinterpreted,” Pietsch said. “It’s all about Amazon trying to make more money.” Hachette didn’t return a request for comment on Wednesday morning.

    Amazon’s unusual disclosure about the terms it seeks from Hachette comes after months of stalled negotiations with the publisher, the fourth-largest in the country. To pressure Hachette, Amazon earlier this year removed pre-sale buttons on some Hachette titles and delayed shipping times on others. The company even took the drastic step in May of recommending that customers order Hachette titles at other bookstores.

    Authors have mixed feelings about the dispute. Some independent authors, who’ve benefitted from Amazon’s self-publishing platform, have come out in support of the giant retailer. “Major publishers like Hachette have a long history of treating authors and readers poorly,” reads a petition, spearheaded by Hugh Howey, an independent author. “Amazon, on the other hand, has built its reputation on valuing authors and readers dearly. The two companies didn’t simultaneously change directions overnight.”

    But some big-name bestselling authors, like Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver and James Patterson, say they’re stuck in the middle, and have asked Amazon in an open letter to “resolve its dispute with Hachette without hurting authors and without blocking or otherwise delaying the sale of books to its customers.” Hundreds of them have urged their readers to email Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos “to change his mind.”

    Amazon’s stock is down almost 20 percent this year, and the company is under intense pressure from shareholders to make more profit. It posted losses last quarter of $126 million, even though it reported revenue of $19.34 billion. The company said that it expects to lose between $410 million and $810 million this quarter.

    Novelist Roxana Robinson, who is president of the Authors Guild, said she doesn’t buy Amazon’s claim that lower prices for eBooks will lead to more sales.

    “They don’t include any sources for the study that they cite, so it’s unclear how they reached the numbers they put forth,” Robinson said by phone Wednesday. “The idea of simply lowering eBook prices over and over isn’t necessarily good for all authors.”

    “Amazon keeps promoting the idea that an eBook should cost much, much less than a hardcover because the cost of producing it is so much lower. But what they aren’t acknowledging is that an eBook represents an enormous amount of time from the authors,” Robinson said. “It’s an investment of time and intellectual energy from the author, and time and money from the publisher.”

    This article has been updated with comment from the Authors Guild.

  • 'Sharknado 2' Is Set To Break The Internet, Twitter Be Warned
    Last year, the buzz around “Sharknado” blew us all away, and now that the sequel is upon us, star Ian Ziering warned the “nerds” over at Twitter headquarters, to get “those servers backed up because a storm is coming … and it’s a huge ‘Sharknado’ wave,” he told Mashable.

    Reports say that the first “Sharknado” generated more than 600,000 tweets mere hours after it aired, peaking at more than 5,000 tweets per minute, according to The Hollywood Reporter. To put it in perspective, some numbers indicate that’s more than double the Red Wedding episode of “Game of Thrones.”

    Now, with “Sharknado 2: The Second One” adding even more famous names like Vivica A. Fox, Kari Wuhrer and Mark McGrath and going all out on promotions with dedicated programing on Syfy, a Comic-Con panel and more, this time Twitter might not make it out alive.

    #Sharknado2TheSecondOne already started trending more than 12 hours before the premiere. Check out some of the best tweets and a live stream below:

    Better than Christmas morning…it is upon us. #Sharknado2TheSecondOne pic.twitter.com/sXAtWwaV7P

    — Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) July 30, 2014

    Do I need to watch Sharknado before I watch #Sharknado2TheSecondOne to understand the plot?

    — Nick Kremydas (@Kremydas) July 29, 2014

    Sharknado 2 comes on tomorrow! Just got gas for my chainsaw! #soexcited #Sharknado2TheSecondOne

    — Alex Hoover (@hoover_has_not) July 29, 2014

    I’m glad I’m not in #NewYork! @SharknadoSyfy @IanZiering @TaraReid @alroker #Sharknado2TheSecondOne pic.twitter.com/G1SQLxyJTZ

    — Belen De Leon (@Belen_DeLeon) July 30, 2014

    SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE! IT IS TONIGHT! IT IS SCIENCE! WATCH IT! @SyfyPR #Sharknado2TheSecondOne pic.twitter.com/wYFVHSCaMl

    — Jennifer Wilkerson (@_jenneryy) July 30, 2014

    If you’re not watching #Sharknado2TheSecondOne tonight are you even alive?

    — Kyle Zimmermann (@kdzimmermann) July 30, 2014

    Trying to be prepared for Twitter crashing when #Sharknado2TheSecondOne airs tonight.

    — BrianDau (@BrianDau) July 30, 2014

    It’s the day of the #Sharknado2TheSecondOne premiere but my phone does not have a shark emoji. How am I supposed to express my excitement?

    — Erica Lockerbie (@eLockerbie) July 30, 2014

    Happy #Sharknado2TheSecondOne Day!

    — Saira (@SairaSherman) July 30, 2014

    If you’re excited about #Sharknado2TheSecondOne you need to get your life together

    — Matt Walker (@walk1nine) July 30, 2014

    #Sharknado2TheSecondOne Tweets

    [h/t Mashable]

    “Sharknado 2: The Second One” premieres Wednesday, July 30, at 9:00 p.m. ET on Syfy.

Mobile Technology News, July 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.

  • Amazon pledges $2bn India investment
    Amazon, one of the world’s largest online retailers, says it will invest a further $2bn (£1.2bn) to boost its operations in India.
  • Instagram reveals new Bolt photo app
    The picture-based social media site has revealed a new Snapchat-style app that lets users send temporary messages.
  • WaterField Designs Unveils 15-inch Solo and 13-inch Indy for MacBooks

    WaterField Designs, a leading San Francisco manufacturer of custom-fitted laptop sleeves, bags and cases for digital gear, unveils a new 15-inch Outback Solo to fit the larger upgraded MacBook Pro Retina and a new 13-inch Indy leather satchel to fit the smaller Retina. The Outback Solo sports a rugged look, combining waxed canvas with premium […]

    The post WaterField Designs Unveils 15-inch Solo and 13-inch Indy for MacBooks appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • UK to allow driverless cars on roads
    The government is to outline measures that will allow driverless cars on public roads in the UK by 2015.
  • The Apple Enterprise Push Quietly Continues Moving Forward

    The Apple enterprise push from the consumer realm quietly but steadily continues as evidenced by their latest patent application.  Over the course of the last few months I’ve pointed out that the Apple has started to move the enterprise telephony goalposts with the introduction of  a new mobile security tool along, video and voice integration […]

    The post The Apple Enterprise Push Quietly Continues Moving Forward appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Peers query 'right to be forgotten'
    Demands for web firms to remove personal data to respect people’s “right to be forgotten” are unreasonable, peers say.
  • The tech firm helping a tough area
    The tech firm helping San Francisco’s tough Tenderloin area
  • VIDEO: Sun bracelet measures UV exposure
    Testing a digital bracelet that measures sun exposure
  • Sleep sensor smashes Kickstarter goal
    A 22-year-old British entrepreneur’s new sleep-tracking device cracks $1m (£590,000) on the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform in five days.
  • Briefly: Grovemade's metal iPhone docks, Kindle for iOS 4.4
    Accessories producer Grovemade has announced the introduction of a limited edition run of iPhone docks comprised of metal. Called the Black Dock, the new product is available with a solid steel or brass base, combined with an aluminium cap that is protected with a matte black coating. The Black Dock is designed for iPhone 5/5s/5c and the 4/4s, and weighs 3 pounds.



  • Ford Motors to replace BlackBerry with iPhones for over 9,300 workers
    Automaker Ford has announced that it will transition at least 9,300 corporate employees from BlackBerry models and flip phones to iPhones over the next two years. The change, which will cost the company nothing above the normal cost of a replacement cycle, is a blow to BlackBerry, but the Canadian smartphone maker can take solace in the fact that Ford chose BlackBerry’s QNX for its next-generation Sync infotainment system, replacing a previous Microsoft-based one.



  • NASA's Mars Rover 'Opportunity' Breaks Distance Record
    Twenty-five miles and counting!

    On July 27, NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity broke the record for the greatest distance traveled off-Earth, the space agency said. The rover surpassed the previous world record of 24.2 miles, which was set in 1973 by the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 2 lunar rover.

    As of Monday, Opportunity’s odometer read 25.01 miles, NASA said. Of course, the rover moves regularly — so the world record is only climbing.

    Opportunity has driven farther than any other wheeled vehicle on another world,” Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in a written statement. “This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance.”

    (Story continues below.)
    rover

    The record-breaking drive is quite the accomplishment for NASA, which sent the Opportunity rover to the red planet in 2004. Though Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit, outlasted their estimated 90-day lifespans, NASA lost contact with Spirit in 2010 after it became trapped in sand.

    Opportunity broke the U.S. record for the greatest distance driven off-Earth in May 2013 when it surpassed the mileage set in 1972 by the Apollo 17 moon rover.

    Next up, Opportunity’s operators are looking to break the marathon mark of 26.22 miles.

  • Facebook's High School Reunion Problem
    I like Facebook. Oh, it gets a bad rap sometimes. And it’s easy to criticize. Sure, it’s a bit of a distraction from the important things in life. But without Facebook, how else would I get constant invitations to play Candy Crush? Also, it’s fun to take those Facebook personality quizzes, like “Which Passion Of The Christ Character Are You?” and “Which Member of Norway’s 2006 Winter Olympics Team Are You?” (answers: God and speed skater Hedvig Bjelkevik) Actually, my only real problem with Facebook is that it has killed one of our great American traditions, the high school reunion.

    High school reunions used to take place ten years after you graduate, or twenty-five years after you graduate. Now, high school reunions take place every morning, while you sit at your computer not doing work, browsing your former classmates’ update statuses. “Hey, the chubby guy I sat next to in biology class ran another marathon this weekend. I guess I should ‘like’ it?”

    The thing I got most out of reading Charles Darwin is that human beings are not supposed to stay in touch with everyone from high school. It’s unnatural — like genetically modified food or heterosexual sex. Rather, during our teenage years, we’re in a monkey-like state. Then we evolve; we leave high school, maybe holding on to a couple of good friends if you’re lucky, then we start our lives, occasionally running into a school acquaintance at Target, and then years later we get together with all our classmates for a night of reminiscing, drunkenness, seeing who got weird-looking and revenge sex. This has been the natural, biological evolution of graduation-to-reunion for millions of years. It’s why Alabama won’t teach it in science class.

    Sure, high school reunions still exist. But they’re not the same. Now, people go into their reunion already knowing the stuff they used to learn at the reunion… which was the whole point of going to the reunion. High school reunions used to be all about the “surprise” factor. Whoa, James is religious now!? Darlene is hot now!? Kyle married our English teacher!? But, because of Facebook, everyone already knows this information. So now when you meet and greet your former classmates, the conversation is more like, “So what do you think about this weather we’ve been having?”

    Before Facebook, the time-honored high school reunion was the place to discover which classmates are now successful and which classmates are now failures. Before Facebook, the high school reunion was the place to discover which classmates are now happy (IE the ones who found their soul mate and got married) and which classmates are now miserable (IE the ones who found their soul mate, got married and then had children). Now, at least based on the Facebook update statuses that people write about their lives, apparently everyone is happy and successful. Look how everyone is smiling in their vacation pics.

    And, shallow as it may be, let’s be honest; the biggest reason to attend your high school reunion has always been to find out how your former classmates look. But, of course, with Facebook, I bet most high school reunions don’t even bother to hand out name tags at the door anymore. Everyone already knows how everyone looks. (note: I looked good at my high school reunion. Painful as the process may be, subjecting my face to a twice-a-week chemical skin peel is really paying off.)

    We’re all connected now. And this is nice. It’s a good thing. The at-one-time bullies are Facebook friendly with their victims. Former prom queens chat on-line with the unpopular nerds. The kids who were jocks are now… well, they’re still a**holes. But for the most part, Facebook has broken down the cliquish stereotypes we assumed our former classmates to be. The kids you partied with are now adults, sharing political views and news about their lives and — though smothered underneath a pile of selfies — even the occasional deep thought.

    But for better or worse, social networking technology has rendered another American tradition irrelevant. And that’s kind of sad. At least I assume it’s an American tradition. Do other countries have high school reunions? I’m thinking Iraq probably doesn’t. “Hey, does anyone know if Saddam is coming tonight? He what?! Wow. Okay, then I guess that means he’s not coming.”

    There have been a million movie and TV show plots in which the protagonist attends his or her high school reunion — often with the hopes of seeing an old flame or looking to settle an old score or to apologize to a classmate they once hurt and they still feel guilty about it. I bet that today’s high school students have trouble relating to these storylines. The mystery of “whatever happened to so-and-so” is a fading era, replaced by “so-and-so just changed their relationship status.”

    And that’s what high school reunions are really about, and that’s what technology has taken away from us… the excitement of mystery. And that’s a small thrill that those-still-too-young-to-have-attended-their-first-high-school-reunion will miss, without even knowing they miss it. Enjoy your ten-year reunion, twenty-eight-year-olds. But know that when you walk through the doors, there won’t be any surprises.

    There’s no mystery anymore. I mean, the next Avengers movie doesn’t even come out for another year, but I already know the plot. I already know everything about the new superhero characters. And I want to know everything about the movie, but yet I don’t. But yet I do. But yet I don’t. But yet I do. Do you see what I’m saying? (I’m saying that I’m a geek.)

    Similarly, I love that Facebook allows me to keep in touch with so many people from my past. Thank you, Facebook. It almost makes up for funneling our personal information to government agencies and using us as human guinea pigs to sell more soda. It’s comforting to be a mouse click away from so many names that, without computers, would’ve probably just drifted into that hazy retrospective part of our brain that self-activates anytime we’re driving on an unfamiliar back road and a Sarah McLachlan song pops up on the radio. And yet, perhaps “comforting” is really just a crutch. Are our memories not enough? Sometimes I think that we’re missing out by not missing out. Eh, whatever. Most of these people will eventually unfriend you, anyway.

    Of course, there are people who choose not to be part of the social networking world, who would never join Facebook. But those are the same people who have no interest in high school reunions, anyway. They’ve moved on, living in the “now” without regret, grabbing hold of every new adventure that comes their way. They don’t want to waste their time dwelling on about random former acquaintances of which they only have vague recollections. In other words, people who aren’t on Facebook are no fun.

    Yes, Facebook has eliminated the need for reunions. I’m going to make a prediction. One, competitive eating champion Joey Chestnut will surpass seventy franks during next year’s July 4th Hot Dog Eating Contest. And also, in time, the traditional high school reunion will be phased out, disappearing from the cultural landscape, just like landline telephones and Miley Cyrus’ dignity. Replacing it will be a new sort of “reunion”, frequent and more spur-of-the-moment casual get-togethers. Update Status: Hey, everyone from high school! Some of us are getting together at Applebee’s tomorrow night. If you’re in town, stop by! And, hey, that could be fun, too.

    Here’s a personal story…

    Years ago, back in my college days, I met a beautiful girl who sat next to me during a summer class I was taking. We struck up a conversation, which then led to an exciting, unforgettable, romantic, passionate affair that lasted until the end of the summer. Then I moved back to my hometown. We never saw each other again.

    Over the years, from time to time, I tried looking her up. I’m dying to see what she’s doing these days. But she had a very common name. And, honestly, I never really knew that much about her. So I was never been able to find her. And I’m sort of glad about that. Sure, I’m curious. But, in this case, I’ll take the mystery and the memories over the banal comfort of the present.

    Nevertheless, if you happen to be reading this essay, Gwyneth Paltrow, I hope you’re doing well and I’d love to hear from you so hit me up on Twitter!

  • Can Technology Disrupt the Boardroom?
    As baby boomers retire, the boardroom is ripe for a makeover and its composition is likely to change meaningfully over the coming years. This opens up opportunities for tech companies to disrupt board recruiting, an opaque process currently driven by insiders. What compelling offerings and viable business models could a technology platform provide?

    Boardrooms today look like retired gentlemen’s clubs.

    Board members are typically hired by CEOs who’s top criteria is that new board members get along with current board members, according to Light & Pushor, authors of reference book Into The Boardroom. Often, this means in-network hiring of people with prior board experience, which is a very limited pool and it shows in board composition, which is mostly retired men sitting on multiple boards:

    - Only one in three board members is serving on their first public company board and most board members serve on multiple boards, according to leading board recruiting firm Spencer Stuart.

    - Board members serve an average of nine years on a board, which means that some companies need to raise mandatory retirement ages to allow experienced board members to serve longer. The average age of a board member has risen to 63 from 60 10 years ago, and most of the newly elected board members are retired. The picture looks a little better in Europe where the average board member is 58 and serves for six years, according to board recruiting firm Egon Zehnder,

    - Maybe not as dramatic as age, gender and ethnic diversity are also lacking with only 18 percent of women and 18 percent of minorities on U.S. corporate boards. Silicon Valley is surprisingly trailing with only 63 percent of boards with at least one woman, vs. 91 percent for S&P 500 companies.

    Credible board recruiting platform requires qualified pool of board candidates.

    A board recruiting platform caters to two types of constituents: board candidates, people interested in serving on boards, and companies looking to fill board seats. Our research shows that there are more candidates than seats so the platform needs to help surface the strongest candidates, and train the others to become more skilled board candidates.

    There is lots of evidence that people interested in taking board seats are eager to signal it, so one of the first offering of a board recruiting platform would be to entice and reward board candidates for creating accounts and listing themselves as open to being considered for a board seat.

    To increase their likelihood of being shortlisted by companies looked to fill a board seat, they could take some leadership training and certification that would prepare them for contributing to boards such as leading by influence, contributing effectively to audit committees, driving CEO succession planning, etc.

    A solid pipeline of qualified board candidates will attract the attention of companies seeking to fill board seats. But to be compelling, the platform needs to assemble a short list of the most qualified candidates, or maybe even offer the high-touch service of sourcing a board member. These services would be especially valuable to public companies which need to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations and are required to make board recruiting transparent. Pre-IPO companies, which often need to fill many board positions in a short amount of time, could also benefit from such service.

    Viable board recruiting platform caters to CEOs. Pricing & partnership strategies are key.

    Companies will typically seek no more than one to two board members per year, so board recruiting remains a niche market and it is fair to ask whether this niche is big enough for one, two, or possibly three technology platforms to survive and thrive. The following revenue streams need to be explored:

    - Membership fee to all board candidates, priced at a few hundreds of dollars, maybe with some premium packages,

    - Tuition for board preparation courses, ranging from a few thousands to tens of thousands of dollars for corporate-sponsored executive programs,

    - Fee for creating a shortlist of pre-qualified board candidates for public companies required to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley regulations for transparent board recruiting, priced at tens of thousands of dollars,

    - Success fee for filling a board seat, something which executive recruiting firms already do and which costs tens or sometimes even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Knowing that there are tens of thousands of board seats to be filled in the U.S. every year, and probably a dozen qualified board candidates per board seat, we are looking at a handful of $100M businesses, which may not be attractive to venture capitalists, but are certainly very viable operations. And if combined with other CEO-level services such as fundraising, incubation and advisory board recruiting, it could make for a really attractive offering. Any taker?

  • Tweeting My Way Through Narcolepsy: Social Media & Chronic Illness

    Blood tests, urine tests, skin tests. CBC, MRI, EEG. Needle in my back, electrodes in my hair, speculum in my you-know-where. After spending the majority of the past year undergoing extensive medical testing, I wanted my doctor to find something wrong with me. As I sat in the waiting room, I browsed the WebMD app playing a twisted game of “Would You Rather.” Looking at disease descriptions, I asked myself, “Would I rather be diagnosed with this or be told the symptoms are all in my head?” Every time, my conclusion was that the diseases — some requiring pills to cure, others requiring surgeries — were “better” than no diagnosis at all.

    But ultimately, something in between happened. I was diagnosed with narcolepsy, an autoimmune disorder in which the neurons that produce hypocretin — the hormone that keeps us awake — are gradually depleted. The result? Overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. There is currently no pill, surgery or lifestyle change that can replace these neurons and the available symptom management options are not incredibly effective. Like millions of Americans, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness.

    As I walked back to my car I got out my phone and opened Twitter. And no, I did not tweet a sad-face selfie or emoji — which hashtag is the opposite of #blessed? I searched Twitter for “narcolepsy” and found what has since been the key to my coping process: a community.

    Using #narcolepsy, #nchat, #narcolepsyfamily and more, narcoleptics around the world were communicating with each other around the clock. The most regular narcolepsy tweeters were millennials like me, coping with the disease while also trying to delay adulthood. My Twitter friends directed me to a private Facebook group with an even larger network of patients, of all ages. Together on these platforms we share advice, rants, inspiration, jokes and even form campaigns to spread awareness and fight stigma.

    Of course, support groups are not a new concept. But unlike a weekly meeting at your local middle school gymnasium, social media spaces represent what futurists will tell you are core values of Generation Y: collaboration, convenience and customization. It is precisely the combination of these three features that makes social networking platforms especially fitting for chronic illness communities (of all ages).

    1. Collaboration.

    Online support groups, in the form of discussion boards, have been around since the dark ages of the internet. However, the architecture of these sites does not support the collaborative features that have evolved in true social networking platforms. Now support groups are thriving on both mainstream platforms like Facebook and specialized platforms such as PatientsLikeMe, DailyStrength, and HealthCheckins. These sites provide templates for support groups, but patient communities together determine the dynamics and norms through collaborative mechanisms of filtering and feedback (i.e., tagging, voting/”liking”, rating, bookmarking, commenting). Patient communities can thus take charge in continually adapting and updating these spaces to best serve their needs.

    2. Convenience.

    Social networking platforms provide time-space freedom, allowing users to decide when and where they interact. Many platforms feature both real-time communication (status update feeds, chatrooms, instant messaging) and asynchronous communication (discussion threads, individual blogs, email). Most sites are accessible both via computer and mobile devices. Such flexibility is especially vital for patients with limited mobility, intensive treatment schedules, rarer conditions with a small number of patients in different locations and time zones, or in my case, a tendency to sleep through appointments.

    3. Customization.

    Users are given much of the power in determining their participation in online social networks. Patients decide which other users they wish to follow or “friend”, giving them control over the information that they see in their feeds. It is up to the patient to decide how much information to share with community members, if at all. Patients can communicate in private one-on-one conversations with other patients, in subgroups (chatrooms, group messages), or post content visible to the whole community (user profiles, status updates, board or “wall” posts). Most platforms offer a range of privacy control options, with many allowing completely anonymous participation. This is important for chronic illness patients who often feel stigmatized or are concerned about protecting their health information from their wider social networks or employers.

    While there is little risk in seeking comfort and motivation from online communities, there is some concern about patients relying on these sites for medical information. Because social media content is user-generated, the quality, validity and authenticity of information can be inconsistent. Dr. Sean Young of the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior has issued recommendations on how health providers can help curb this problem by participating in online communities and providing content and links with accurate health information.

    Considering the ubiquity and constant evolution of social networking platforms, it’s safe to assume these technologies hold much promise for the well-being of chronic illness patients of every race, gender, creed and, yes, generation.

  • How Visuals Can Help Deaf Children 'Hear' (STUDY)
    By: John Varrasi, American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    Published: 07/28/2014 02:24 PM EDT on LiveScience

    John Varrasi is a senior staff writer for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He contributed this article to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

    The Cooper Union in New York City is combining engineering and acoustics to create a unique learning environment for deaf and hearing-impaired schoolchildren. The college has installed an interactive light studio at the American Sign Language and English Lower School in New York City. The studio, comprising a 270-square-foot space, is equipped with a wall-mounted digital-projection system that works in conjunction with specially designed computer programs to display entertaining images and graphics on an interactive screen. The pre-kindergarten children using Cooper Union’s interactive light studio learn through their interactions with the moving images and light pulses — the displays enable the kids to actually understand the intricacies of sound, despite their hearing impairments.

    “We are creating a learning environment in which deaf and hearing-impaired children can explore and appreciate the various qualities of music and sound through the interplay of light and vibration,” said Melody Baglione, a professor at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, who advised and mentored seven students on design aspects of the interactive light studio. “We have developed technologies enabling the children to visualize sound.” [Science As Art: Soundscapes, Light Boxes and Microscopes (Op-Ed )]

    Interactive projector system

    At the core of the interactive light studio is a series of computer programs specially designed to inspire curiosity and fun among the children. One of the programs is a virtual fish tank, in which images of fish follow and respond to the movements of children in front of the screen. Baglione’s students wrote the program, which incorporates an Xbox Kinect sensor along with the em>Open Frameworks programming language to detect the contours of the moving children.

    The second program uses sound from a microphone, musical instrument or prerecorded song as inputs. When a child stands in front of a target, a component of a digitized song — such as the keyboards, percussion or vocals — plays. When all of the targets are triggered, the full song plays. In this way, the children can create their own music composition by moving their bodies.

    “Both hearing-impaired and deaf children can participate in creating sound inputs and visually seeing the responses,” said Baglione, who along with her students used a grant from The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to launch the studio. “By creating discrete visual responses to different frequencies and sound levels, the children begin to understand sound and music in quantifiable terms.”

    Sound to light, talking flowers

    In another program, Cooper Union students adapted a wall with images of “talking sunflowers” that transform sound to light. The flowers have embedded microphones that trigger different colored lights, depending on the frequencies of the sound in the room.

    After exploring several options for converting audio input to visual input, Cooper Union students selected the “colorganic spectralizer,” a type of spectrum analyzer equipped with a microphone and able to operate on standard AA batteries. The Cooper Union students installed seven colorganic spectralizers, modifying each with surface-mount soldering to accommodate five-volt capability that brightens the LED lights. The main benefit of the devices, according to Baglione, is the full interactivity the analyzer provides for the children.

    “Deaf and hearing-impaired students, in particular, benefit from the design of a sound-to-light installation employing microphones to provide visual feedback,” says Baglione.

    Electronic fireflies

    One wall in the studio incorporates an interactive, electronic simulation of fireflies that the schoolchildren can move around while observing pulses of light. Each of the fireflies is a self-contained circuit board that synchronizes its flashing with other fireflies in the immediate vicinity, a mode of nonverbal communication enabled via infrared sensors and other electronics. When the flash of a neighboring firefly is detected, the voltage across a capacitor experiences a sudden impulse, advancing the firefly’s charging cycle closer to its neighbor’s. In interacting with the electronic fireflies on the wall, the children are engrossed in play, arranging and rearranging the fireflies according to the patterns of flashing lights.

    “Interacting with the fireflies entertains the children and teaches the kids about the emergence of visually intriguing patterns and rhythms,” said Baglione. “The program encourages the children to move and investigate cause and effect.”

    Students at The Cooper Union built more than 60 circuits, and introduced children’s books relating to the subject, which enabled teachers to incorporate lessons.

    Inspiration

    The Cooper Union’s interactive light studio enables deaf and hearing-impaired children to experience sound in unique ways and to overcome the limits of physical disabilities. But the studio brings other tangible benefits, according to Baglione — it enables the children to experience and appreciate the wonder of science and engineering, possibly inspiring future career pathways in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM ).

    “The strong STEM component in the interactive light studio rendered the project suitable for funding under the ASME Diversity Action Grant program,” said Tatyana Polyak, director of Student and Early Career Programs at ASME.

    The studio also had a direct positive impact on the student designers at The Cooper Union.

    “The interactive light studio demonstrates the role of technological innovation in helping disabled persons,” said Baglione. “The project offered undergraduate engineering students an opportunity to improve their technical and professional skills and develop a broader appreciation of the contribution of engineers in improving society.”

    Author’s Note: Melody Baglione and most members of the design team on the interactive light studio are members of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

    Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debates — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook, Twitter and Google +. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science.

    Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. ]]>

  • Harry Reid Says He Has The FCC's Back On Net Neutrality
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he’ll defend the Federal Communications Commission against congressional Republicans if it decides to support net neutrality with new regulations requiring Internet providers to treat all data equally.

    “Let me be clear: I support net neutrality,” Reid wrote in a letter Monday to progressive online groups. “I will lead the fight to protect any Open Internet rules promulgated by the FCC against the inevitable Republican attack against such rules.”

    Groups that include Daily Kos, Credo, MoveOn, Color of Change, and Demand Progress had asked Reid to speak out on net neutrality, noting that unlike House Minority Leader Pelosi (D-Calif.), he had held his silence since the FCC revealed a preliminary plan in April.

    That plan, which FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler seems inclined to approve, may allow broadband companies to charge extra for fast Internet access. Progressives are still working to change Wheeler’s mind in favor of regulation.

    Progressives want the FCC to reclassify broadband companies as public utilities, forcing them to treat every website equally. Republican leaders have promised to fight that step in Congress.

    Reid did not take an outright position on reclassifying broadband companies. But he did affirm that if the FCC decides that declaring the companies utilities is the best path, he will support it. Cable companies are major donors to Reid’s campaign, but the letter suggests he is willing to cautiously buck them on an issue near and dear to online organizers.

    Those organizers turned out big during the recent FCC comment period on various net neutrality proposals, contributing many of the more than 1 million comments that flooded the comission. A second comment period will end on Sept. 10.

    David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said in a statement that Reid’s letter “makes it clear that the Senate Democrats will defend” the FCC, even if it decides to reclassify cable companies as utilities under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

    “The FCC can no longer lean on vague political concerns as an excuse pass its ‘slow lanes’ proposal,” Segal said. “This rule must be made on the policy merits, and Title II is the only option that protects the Internet.”

  • Martha Stewart: Why I Love My Drone
    Because it’s a useful tool. And that’s a good thing.
  • Which One Of These Paintings Is Smaller Than A Poppy Seed?
    One of these images is smaller than a period at the end of a sentence; the other is a masterpiece by Claude Monet. You might be hard-pressed to spot the difference, because researchers at Singapore’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering have developed a new technique to produce microscopic art that looks just like the real thing.

    monet microprinting

    The team of researchers created the microscopic replication (the image pictured on the right), using an ink-free printing technique that involves a nanostructure of aluminum pillars.

    So where do the colors come from?

    The researchers focused beams of electrons on top of the metal pillars, causing the aluminum to resonate at different frequencies and give out varying colors depending on the size of the pillar. The researchers were able to build a palette of 300 colors, broadening their options for artistic expression, by differing the distances between each pillar and then transferring the color pixels onto a silicon substrate, according to NanoWerk, a nanotechnology news site.

    “Each color pixel on this image was mapped to the closest color from a palette that we created using arrays of metal nanodisks, and the code spits out a series of geometries corresponding to this color,” Joel K.W. Yang, an assistant professor at Singapore’s University of Technology and Design told Wired. “A single drop of dye from a typical printer would already be about the size of the entire print made with our technology.”

    Art is just the first step. Eventually, Yang and his team — who published their paper on aluminum nanostructure printing in the June 13 online edition of Nano Letters — hope to apply the technology to security and counterfeiting applications and potentially even holography one day, according to NanoWerk.

    To see more examples of nanotech art, check out “The Art of Nanotech” interactive slideshow on PBS.

Mobile Technology News, July 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.

  • How To Enable Dark Mode in OS X Yosemite Beta

    There has been a lot of talk since WWDC 2014 about Dark Mode in OS X Yosemite.  Dark Mode, for those who are not sure, allows you to turn the translucent menus, toolbars and window headers dark instead of the standard translucent look that is dominating the new look of OS X Yosemite.  Why would […]

    The post How To Enable Dark Mode in OS X Yosemite Beta appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Take Our Poll – Have You Installed OS X Yosemite Beta Yet?

    [Editors Note:  This post will remain at the top of AlliOSNews through 31 July.  Newer news items will be directly below this post] Last Friday Apple released the public beta of OS X Yosemite, the upcoming version of their desktop Operating System which is due for general availability in September of this year.  The Yosemite beta, […]

    The post Take Our Poll – Have You Installed OS X Yosemite Beta Yet? appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Religion On Wikipedia Is A Recipe For Controversy As 'Edit Wars' Rage On
    (RNS) When he was a student at Brigham Young University three years ago, Anthony Willey came across a Wikipedia page on Mormons. What he read filled him with frustration.

    The article focused on polygamy, which seemed odd since Mormons officially outlawed the practice in 1890. “It didn’t say what Mormons believe or what made them unique,” Willey said. “I had the thought, ‘Who’s editing this stuff?’ and that got me hooked.”

    Since editing that page and adding 50 percent to the content, Willey has made more than 8,000 edits to the editable online encyclopedia, mostly on articles related to Mormonism. His top edited pages include entries on Joseph Smith, Mormons, Mormonism, and Black people and Mormonism.

    The problem confronting many Wikipedia editors is that religion elicits passion — and often, more than a little vitriol as believers and critics spar over facts, sources and context. For “Wikipedians” like Willey, trying to put a lid on the online hate speech that can be endemic to Wikipedia entries is a key part of their job.

    Religion is among several of the top 100 altered topics on Wikipedia, according to a recent list published by Five Thirty Eight. Former President George W. Bush is the most contested entry, but Jesus (No. 5) and the Catholic Church (No. 7) fall closely behind.

    Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (No. 35) and Pope John Paul II (No. 82) are included, as well as all manner of religions, like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, Christianity and Scientology. And countries and topics with religious sensitivities are also controversial, including global warming and Israel.

    pages

    Wikipedia is the fifth most-trafficked website on the Internet and its complex policies and regulations for editing — more than 50 of them — for editing the open-source site total nearly 150,000 words (thick enough for a book).

    Any registered user can create an entry on Wikipedia, a collaboratively edited encyclopedia. Volunteers write Wikipedia’s 30 million articles in 287 languages.

    Willey, 29, is now a Wikipedia administrator, which gives him more administrative privileges within the volunteer-driven website. The physics graduate is looking for full-time work, so his editing is only an occasional side project. And it’s only partly driven by his faith.

    “I don’t edit as an agent of my religion,” Willey said. “I’m not going out of my way to promote a certain point of view. I am motivated by when people say things that aren’t true.”

    It could be tempting for Wikipedia editors to portray their own faiths in the best light, or for people outside of the faith to paint a negative picture. In 2009, Wikipedia banned people using the Church of Scientology’s computers and some of Scientology’s critics from changing Wikipedia articles about Scientology. Wikipedia said members of the church and some critics engaged in “edit wars” by adding or removing complimentary or disparaging material.

    “The worst casualties have been biographies of living people, where attempts have been repeatedly made to slant the article either towards or against the subject, depending on the point of view of the contributing editor,” a committee wrote in its decision to ban users.

    Some users might go out of their way to portray a religion in a bad light. Several years ago, a user who went by the name Duke53 attempted to ensure Mormonism’s sacred undergarments got as much exposure as possible — it’s not a topic the church generally likes to discuss. He added images to as many articles as possible, including to Wikipedia articles such as “Clothing” and “Church etiquette,” regardless of whether the images were relevant.

    When Willey edits an article, he says, he avoids inserting opinions and instead uses a trusted source, such as Richard Bushman, a respected emeritus historian at Columbia University.

    “Even if I don’t agree with something in his book, for the purposes of editing Wikipedia, it keeps me honest,” Willey said. “It makes it very hard for people to argue with me because when it comes to editing something on Wikipedia, it all comes down to who has the best source. If I’m promoting the view of the best source, I’m always right.”

    He will occasionally edit pages on other religions, such as Islam or Baha’i, or general articles on Christianity. “Nobody likes to be misrepresented,” he said.

    Those who engage in outright hate speech are dealt with swiftly and blocked, but combating more subtle hate speech can be tricky.

    “If somebody’s abiding by the rules, it’s hard to block a contributor who’s writing an article if they’re ambiguously promoting something,” Willey said.

    Roger Nicholson was on the same path as Willey, editing Wikipedia pages related to Mormonism for two years to experience what the editing was like. His story, featured in the Deseret News, ended after he decided all the “edit wars” weren’t worth the headaches.

    “It’s kind of like the Wild West of the Internet,” said Nicholson, who works with a group called FairMormon instead. “You could spend days and accomplish the change of a few sentences and that was it.”

    Among the Wikipedians, a large percentage self-identify as atheists, followed by Christians, Muslims, Pastafarians (devotees of the farcical religion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster) and Jews.

    Most of the edits to Wikipedia articles, especially ones on religion, are made by men, according to a 2011 study by the University of Minnesota. Women accounted for just 7 percent of the edits on religion articles.

    John Carter, a 51-year-old office worker in St. Louis who is Catholic, will sometimes help edit more controversial pages, including ones on Scientology, Martin Luther and Wikipedia’s list of new religious movements.

    Many of the smaller religious groups have editors who are deeply passionate about them, but some smaller religions that aren’t as appealing to Westerners (including Native American or Central Asian American traditions) are covered less well, Carter said.

    “An enemy (or friend) of a ‘cult’ in Ecuador could find sources supporting their personal positions and the obscurity of the topic in English will make it hard or impossible for most of us to confirm or deny,” Carter said.

    Carter, Willey and other editors discussed editing religion pages in a Q-and-A with Wikipedia last year where an editor with the user ID Sowlos said there was quite a bit of overlap between religion and mythology on the website.

    “If a mythology is a sacred narrative or collection of traditional stories, then all religions include mythologies as integral constituents of what they are,” Sowlos wrote. “However, many people feel uneasy referring to stories from their respective religions as ‘mythology’ for fear that it will be interpreted as indicating a lack of factual integrity.”

    Using Wikipedia’s rules, Carter says, religion can be difficult to independently verify, especially when there’s a range of opinions about what events took place and what they mean.

    “No one has any real evidence that Jesus rose from the dead or not — how do you give the various opinions balanced coverage? And was he God, or a god, or something else?” Carter said. “Even nominal Christians disagree on those and several other significant topics.”

  • What REALLY Happens at Comic Con
    San Diego’s Comic Con is the premier event for fans of all things comics and action-packed entertainment. Seeing as how there are quite a few fans of “entertaining” things, the crowds that descend on Comic Con are mammoth, creating interminable lines.

    How bad are the Comic Con lines? So bad that the seasoned comic veterans DweebCast found themselves with enough time to record a surprisingly good (and hilarious) music video about “What REALLY Happens at Comic Con.”

    Watch the video from DweebCast above.

  • Malware Can Hide in the Most Obvious Places

    You never know when malware will bite. Even browsing an online restaurant menu can download malicious code, put there by hackers.

    Much has been said that Target’s hackers accessed the giant’s records via its heating and cooling system. They’ve even infiltrated thermostats and printers among the “Internet of Things”.

    It doesn’t help that swarms of third parties are routinely given access to corporate systems. A company relies upon software to control all sorts of things like A/C, heating, billing, graphics, health insurance providers, to name a few.

    If just one of these systems can be busted into, the hacker can crack ‘em all. The extent of these leaky third parties is difficult to pinpoint, namely because of the confidential nature of the breach resolution process.

    A New York Times online report points out that one security expert says that third party leaks may account for 70 percent of data breaches, and from the least suspected vendors, at that.

    When the corporation’s software remotely connects to all those other things like the A/C, vending machines, etc., this is practically an invitation to hackers. Hackers love this “watering hole” type crime , especially when corporations use older systems like Windows XP.

    Plus, many of the additional technological systems (such as videoconference equipment) often come with switched-off security settings. Once a hacker gets in, they own the castle.

    The New York Times online report adds that nobody thinks to look in these places. Who’d ever think a thermostat could be a portal to cyber crime?

    Security researchers were even able to breach circuit breakers of the heating and cooling supplier for a sports arena—for the Sochi Olympics.

    One way to strengthen security seems too simple: Keep the networks for vending machines, heating and cooling, printers, etc., separate from the networks leading to H.R. data, credit card information and other critical information. Access to sensitive data should require super strong passwords and be set up with a set of security protocols that can detect suspicious activity.

    Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClear ID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

  • Alien World's Size Measured With Unprecedented Accuracy

    Astronomers have made the best-ever measurement to date of the radius of an alien world.

    Using observations by NASA’s Kepler and Spitzer space telescopes, researchers determined that the exoplanet Kepler-93b is 1.48 times the size of Earth, confirming its status as a super-Earth — a world slightly larger than our own — and allowing scientists to conclude that the planet is very likely composed of iron and rock.

    “With Kepler and Spitzer, we’ve captured the most precise measurement to date of an alien planet’s size, which is critical for understanding these far-off worlds,” lead author Sarah Ballard, of the University of Washington in Seattle, said in a statement. “The measurement is so precise that it’s literally like being able to measure the height of a six-foot-tall person to within three-quarters of an inch — if that person were standing on Jupiter.” [The Strangest Alien Planets]

    Kepler-93b, which lies about 300 light-years away, orbits a star that’s about 90 percent as wide and massive as the sun. The rocky planet circles its host at only one-sixth the distance Mercury orbits the sun, resulting in a likely surface temperature of around 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit (760 degrees Celsius).

    Ballard and her team used a new observing technique developed for Spitzer, combined with frequent observations from Kepler, to confirm that Kepler-93b is indeed a planet rather than a false positive.

    The two telescopes noted how much the star dimmed as the planet crossed its face. In the visible-light wavelengths observed by Kepler and the infrared wavelengths captured by Spitzer, the signal remained the same.

    In addition, Kepler studied the stellar dimming caused by seismic waves within the star, making it one of the lowest-mass targets of astroseismic study. These measurements allowed for a more precise computation of the star’s radius, which in turn led to a more refined solution for the planet’s width, researchers said.

    The combined data reveal that Kepler-93b boasts a diameter of approximately 11,700 miles (18,800 kilometers), with an error of only about 150 miles (240 km) — the approximate distance from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia.

    Combined with Kepler-93b’s previously computed mass of approximately 3.8 times that of Earth, the refined radius allowed scientists to calcuate that the planet’s density is nearly twice that of Earth. This implies that iron and rock dominate the composition of Kepler-93b, researchers said.

    The planet’s temperature and proximity to its star make it unlikely that Kepler-93b could hold on to gases at its surface. However, based on its physical measurements, Ballard and her team found a 3 percent chance that it could contain an extended atmosphere.

    “Ballard and her team have made a major scientific advance while demonstrating the power of Spitzer’s new approach to exoplanet observations,” said Michael Werner, Spitzer’s project scientist.

    Spitzer may not be able to keep making such measurements for much longer. In May, a NASA senior review panel recommended ending the mission, which launched in 2003, unless additional funding can be found.

    The research was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

    Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Forget Selfies, Dronies Are The New Must-Take Travel Photo
    Selfies are so last season.

    Meet “dronies,” the cooler, more adventurous, amped-up sibling of the oft-maligned selfie.

    A “dronie” is basically a selfie from the sky, taken not at arm’s length from your smartphone but from an uber-cool drone that flies above you, photographing not only your face, but your (hopefully) beautiful surroundings.

    According to The Telegraph, “dronies” are best taken as short videos, rather than single images. “Dronies” are even being encouraged by the New Zealand Tourism Board, which is piloting drones on ski runs to photograph skiers and snowboarders.

    The “dronies” are then sent to the skier or boarder’s phone, ready to be shared with friends, like the video below.

    So yea. It’s a thing. See?

    Are you ready to take a “dronie”?

  • New life for museum arcade machines
    Arcade game enthusiasts rally round after a plea on a fans’ forum to help restore eight machines owned by the UK Computer Museum in Cambridge.
  • Apple May Be Spying On You Through Your iPhone
    By Joseph Menn
    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Personal data including text messages, contact lists and photos can be extracted from iPhones through previously unpublicized techniques by Apple Inc employees, the company acknowledged this week.
    The same techniques to circumvent backup encryption could be used by law enforcement or others with access to the “trusted” computers to which the devices have been connected, according to the security expert who prompted Apple’s admission.
    In a conference presentation this week, researcher Jonathan Zdziarski showed how the services take a surprising amount of data for what Apple now says are diagnostic services meant to help engineers.
    Users are not notified that the services are running and cannot disable them, Zdziarski said. There is no way for iPhone users to know what computers have previously been granted trusted status via the backup process or block future connections.
    “There’s no way to `unpair’ except to wipe your phone,” he said in a video demonstration he posted Friday showing what he could extract from an unlocked phone through a trusted computer.
    As word spread about Zdziarski’s initial presentation at the Hackers on Planet Earth conference, some cited it as evidence of Apple collaboration with the National Security Agency.
    Apple denied creating any “back doors” for intelligence agencies.
    “We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues,” Apple said. “A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data.”
    But Apple also posted its first descriptions of the tools on its own website, and Zdziarski and others who spoke with the company said they expected it to make at least some changes to the programs in the future.
    Zdziarski said he did not believe that the services were aimed at spies. But he said that they extracted much more information than was needed, with too little disclosure.
    Security industry analyst Rich Mogull said Zdziarski’s work was overhyped but technically accurate.
    “They are collecting more than they should be, and the only way to get it is to compromise security,” said Mogull, chief executive officer of Securosis.
    Mogull also agreed with Zdziarski that since the tools exist, law enforcement will use them in cases where the desktop computers of targeted individuals can be confiscated, hacked or reached via their employers.
    “They’ll take advantage of every legal tool that they have and maybe more,” Mogull said of government investigators.
    Asked if Apple had used the tools to fulfill law enforcement requests, Apple did not immediately respond.
    For all the attention to the previously unknown tools and other occasional bugs, Apple’s phones are widely considered more secure than those using Google Inc’s rival Android operating system, in part because Google does not have the power to send software fixes directly to those devices.

    (Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Mobile Technology News, July 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.

  • Artist Launches Bonsai Trees And Other Lovely Plant Arrangements Into Space
    We’ve heard that outer space is, visually speaking, a pretty majestic experience. Yet although the galaxy beyond is undoubtedly filled with stars and misty clouds for days, there aren’t any decorative touches around to spruce up the space.

    Enter Tokyo-based artist Azuma Makoto, aka the official interior decorator of outer space. For Makoto’s recent artistic endeavor, entitled “EXOBIOTANICA,” he launched a 50-year-old Japanese white pine bonsai, along with an arrangement of orchids, hydrangeas, lilies and irises, into the great beyond.

    flower

    The carefully arranged greenery was expelled from planet earth from Black Rock Desert, Nevada — also the location of the Burning Man Festival. The whole project was taped, thanks to the six GoPro cameras strapped to the balloons which carried the plants. As you could probably guess, the juxtaposition of crisp floral arrangement and the empty wilderness of outer space is a surreal sight to behold.

    “I went to Amazon, Brazil last year and created art pieces with plants that were full of aliveness in dense forest where I could hear groan from the earth,” the artist explained to the Huffington Post. “This was a mind-blowing experience since I really felt that I was arranging the plants onto the earth. For this EXOBIOTANICA project, one of my inspiration sources was curiosity – I asked myself, ‘what would it happen when I arrange plants on the globe, from up in the sky?’ as a concept that is completely opposite of what I did in Brazil.”

    The goal was simple: “I wanted to explore how flowers and plants would bloom, decay and change outside of the earth. I wanted to seek and tell how their beauties will look with the earth as its background.”

    p

    Before actually launching the flora into outer space, Makoto, in collaboration with John Powell of JP Aerospace, “experimented number of times under low-temperature and did rehearsals for camera’s angles beforehand so that we would able to estimate what would happen to some extent.” Despite all the preparations that took place, nothing could predict the staggering beauty that results from the strange and enchanting vision of a domesticated floral arrangement floating through the unbridled Milky Way.

    Now that he’s tackled outer space, Makoto has set his sights on artistic destinations closer to planet earth, though just as visually compelling. “For the next steps I would like to try various conditions such as the bottom of the sea, volcano, the Arctic and the Antarctic to see what kind of expressions flowers and plants would display. These challenging concepts make me excited by only thinking about it.” We cannot wait to see where Makoto brings his lucky bouquets next.

    See the breathtaking photos below and let us know your thoughts in the comments:

  • This Is What The World Looks Like, According To Quantum Mechanics
    The realm of quantum mechanics tells us that humans experience 40 conscious moments per second. These individual frames, or sequences of “now,” amount to the way we perceive time flow. We don’t realize the gaps in between these conscious moments, hence the fluid movement of our lives.

    caro

    While we live in the vivid frames that make up our experiences, one artist has attempted to capture the gaps — or blinks — in between the 40 moments. In a project that seems to stall time while illuminating its flip book-like passing, Isabel M. Martinez catches the hiccups of everyday perception in her stunning series “Quantum Blink.”

    The photos are constructed from two separate exposures, snapped only instants apart. The people inside the “frames” are acting out daily rituals, crossing the street or zipping a jacket, and seem caught in a state of unreality. Rather than simply stuck in one specific moment, the subjects appear somewhere in between the sequences of activity and the blinking millisecond of stopped time.

    “I am looking for the line that divides the finite (probability) from the infinite (possibility),” Chilean-born Martinez writes. “If time is a succession of instants, I want to see what lies in between them. I am after the gaps between instants of consciousness.” The striped pattern we see in the portraits “is the result of masks placed in-camera,” Martinex adds. “This feature allows me to blend two images together and at the same time keep them from fully fusing onto one another.”

    Resembling a punctured piece of film, the photos are nearly incomprehensible as solid snapshots, mimicking the ins and outs of entropy. While it’s not precisely what the world might look like in a quantum vision, the work is a slightly startling project that forces the viewer to decipher what’s real and what’s imagined, effortlessly urging us to reconsider the anatomy of a second.

  • Who Should Decide? States' Rights, Local Authority and the Future of the Internet
    2014-07-23-localauthority_0.jpg“[W]ithout power and independence, a town may contain good subjects, but it can have no active citizens.”  That was the conclusion of Alexis de Tocqueville after touring a youthful American Republic in the early 1830s, as recorded in his classic Democracy in America. Today we are engaged in a renewed debate about the authority of governments closest to the people.

    On July 16, by a vote of 223-200, the House of Representatives voted to strip the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the authority to allow communities the right to determine their broadband futures.  Republicans voted 221-4 in favor.

    In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, 60 Republicans insisted that the federal government shouldn’t interfere with the 20 state laws that either prohibit or severely inhibit municipally owned broadband networks. “Without any doubt, state governments across the country understand and are more attentive to the needs of the American people than unelected federal bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.,” they wrote. A similar letter, signed by 11 Republican senators, asserted, “States are much closer to their citizens and can meet their needs better than an unelected bureaucracy in Washington, D.C. … State political leaders are accountable to the voters who elect them….”

    The Republican rationale is that state legislatures should be given deference over Congress and federal agencies because they are closer, more attentive and more accountable to their constituents.  The same reasoning should lead Republicans to agree that city councils and county commissions should be given deference over state legislatures and state agencies, but it doesn’t.

    The Senate letter warned that the FCC “would be well-advised to respect state sovereignty.” But Republicans apply the principle of state sovereignty so inconsistently that it’s hard to call it a guiding principle.

    In 1992 the Supreme Court ruled that states could not compel online vendors without a physical presence in that state to collect sales taxes unless Congress gave permission.  In May 2013 the Democratic Senate voted to give them that permission.  House Republicans refused. Loss of state and local revenue for 2013 was estimated at $1.7 billion. For those who may be unaware, the issue at hand is not whether we should pay taxes when we buy goods online. Almost all states require us to do so.  The question is whether online vendors must, like brick and mortar stores, collect those taxes.

    Exasperated by Republicans’ hypocrisy on states’ rights, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-California) asked a Special Investigations Division (SID) to examine legislative actions since George W. Bush took office insisting the federal government would not “impose its will on states and local communities.”  The 2006 report found “a wide gulf between the pro-states rhetoric of Republican leaders and the actual legislative record.”  It cited 57 instances of Republican-approved bills preempting state authority.

    One occurred when the Republican House voted to prohibit states and cities from demanding competition in broadband services.  Using language eerily similar to that used recently by Republicans in their recent letters to the FCC, six organizations representing state and local officials maintained that state and local officials, “those closest to understanding and meeting the needs of our citizens,” should make such decisions.  Republicans were unmoved.

    The Paternalism of Republicans

    When not hiding behind the states’-rights mantra, Republicans argue that they’re protecting us against ourselves:  We might support the construction of a sure-to-fail municipally owned network.  In May FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler gave the small-”d” democratic response:

    I understand that the experience with community broadband is mixed, that there have been both successes and failures. But if municipal governments want to pursue it, they shouldn’t be inhibited by state laws that have been adopted at the behest of incumbent providers looking to limit competition.

    The debate about whether to build a muni broadband network has proven to be one of the most considered, transparent and democratic of all policy debates, certainly far more considered than those made in Washington and state capitols

    Usually citizens vote on the issue directly through ballot referenda. Corporate opponents outspend community proponents by 10- to 25-to-1 or more. In many cases state laws prohibit cities from campaigning for their own proposal.

    Republicans and private telecoms maintain that cities lack the capacity to build and manage broadband networks.  They’re empirically wrong.  Of the 160 municipally owned broadband networks, the successes vastly outnumber the failures.  Muni networks, not Google, offered the first gigabit service. Muni networks have saved their communities hundreds of millions of dollars, created tens of thousands of jobs, and become a firm foundation for economic-development initiatives.

    If the FCC is allowed to proceed, it will first respond to a petition from muni networks so successful that surrounding communities want to connect to them but are forbidden by state law. In this context, the argument that the state is protecting cities against themselves is ludicrous.

    That so many muni networks have succeeded is a testament to their communities’ entrepreneurialism, creativity and patience. Lawsuits delay operation for years at a significant financial cost to cities. The huge customer base of telecom companies allows them to negotiate far lower prices for cable channels than tiny muni networks.  Cities that build networks often are prohibited from tapping into other city funds if needed, while private telephone and cable companies freely use profits gained from cities in which they have a monopoly to engage in predatory pricing against muni networks. After Monticello, Minnesota, built a network, Charter Communications slashed its combined cable and broadband package price from $145 to $60 per month while maintaining the higher price in nearby cities Duluth and Rochester.

    The Success of Communities

    For cities that persevere, the rewards can be very great.  Tiny Kutztown, Pennsylvania, saved the community an estimated $2 million in its first few years, a result of lower rates by the muni network and reduced prices charged by the incumbent cable company in response to competitive pressure. In 2004 Gov. Ed Rendell gave Kutztown an award for its network. Shortly thereafter, to his lasting shame, he signed a Verizon-sponsored bill preventing other Pennsylvania communities from replicating Kutztown’s success.

    Bristol, Virginia, population 17,000, estimates its network has saved residents and businesses over $10 million. Lafayette, Louisiana, estimates savings of over $90 million.  The economic and financial benefits of munis have been amply catalogued by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and its Community Broadband Initiative.

    Sometimes the arguments of private corporations are bizarre. After five North Carolina cities proved muni networks could be wildly successful, Time Warner aggressively lobbied the state legislature to prohibit any imitators.  Time Warner insisted it only wanted a level playing field. “The bill is intended to create a level playing field so if local governments want to provide commercial retail services in direct competition with private business, they can’t use their considerable advantages unfairly,” Time Warner declared.

    You have to go a far piece to believe that tiny Salisbury, North Carolina, has a competitive edge over mammoth Time Warner, with annual revenues of $18 billion, more than 500 times greater than Salisbury’s $34-million budget, and 14 million customers to Salisbury’s Fibrant network customer base of 1,000.

    But after Republicans gained control of the North Carolina legislature in 2012, the bizarre became the basis for public policy. The legislature passed the Time Warner bill.

    Aside from their many quantifiable economic benefits, muni networks also generate equally important unquantifiable benefits.  One is far greater accountability. No longer must people rely on distant corporations for better service. Leaders in Wilson, North Carolina, describe this benefit of muni networks as the “strangle effect.” If you have problems with the network, you can find someone locally to strangle.

    For Harold DePriest, head of Chattanooga’s state-of-the-art municipally owned broadband network (and electricity company), an even more fundamental issue is involved. “[D]oes our community control our own fate, or does someone else control it?” he asks. Questions about the digital divide and net neutrality can be debated and decided at the local level, not in some distant boardroom or by Congress, federal agencies or the courts.

    The Freedom to Choose

    If Congress allows the FCC to proceed and the FCC overturns state bans, an even more fundamental obstacle will stand in the way. Cities and counties are not mentioned in our Constitution.  This has has led courts to decide that local governments have little or no standing in our federalist system.  Established law relies on the famous 1868 dictum of Judge John Foster Dillon:

    Municipal corporations owe their origin to, and derive their powers and rights wholly from, the legislature. It breathes into them the breath of life, without which they cannot exist. As it creates, so may it destroy. If it may destroy, it may abridge and control.

    Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to foster competition.  The text of the 1996 law was crystal-clear:

    No State or local statute or regulation, or other State or local legal requirement, may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide any interstate or intrastate telecommunications service.

    If a state or local government is in violation, “the Commission shall preempt the enforcement of such statute, regulation, or legal requirement to the extent necessary to correct such violation or inconsistency.”

    If anyone doubted the meaning of the phrase “any entity,” they had only to read the congressional record. Consider Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Mississippi) comment:

    I think the rural electric associations, the municipalities, and the investor-owned utilities, are all positioned to make a real contribution in this telecommunications area, and I do think it is important that we make sure we have got the right language to accomplish what we wish accomplished here.

    But the Supreme Court didn’t find the language clear at all. In 2003, by an 8-1 decision, it affirmed prohibitions on municipal networks.

    The Supreme Court argued that established law considers cities and counties “created as convenient agencies for exercising such of the governmental powers of the State as may be entrusted to them in its absolute discretion.”

    Ultimately, then, this is a fight not about broadband but about democracy and the locus of authority.  Of course, corporations prefer to fight to protect and expand their privileges in 50 remote state capitols rather than in 30,000 local communities.  But genuine democracy depends on allowing, to the greatest extent possible, those who feel the impact of decisions to be a significant part in the making of those decisions.

    Whatever Congress or the FCC decides, we need to challenge the concept that the communities in which we live are simply vassals of our state legislative lords.  This can be done on many levels.  Perhaps the most effective and productive can occur at the state capitols. A broad coalition cutting across parties and ideologies marching under the banner “freedom to choose” may be powerful enough to challenge the seemingly inexhaustible financial resources giant corporations have available to influence politics and politicians.

  • 'Ring Cam' Lets You Record A Marriage Proposal Without Lifting A Finger
    In an age when marriage proposals frequently go viral, there’s a lot of pressure to capture the big moment in just the right way.

    But what if you don’t have a four-man camera crew or Hollywood-worthy film editing skills? That’s where Ring Cam comes in.

    The Ring Cam, which was launched in October 2013, is basically a ring box with a tiny camera inside. So when it’s time to pop the question, the bride- or groom-to-be’s reaction is instantly captured.

    ring cam

    Ring Cam is the brainchild of four college students from Michigan. One of its creators, Scott Brandonisio, sat down with Good Morning America to discuss the perks of the new device.

    “Only the person proposing actually knows its there,” he explained. “So you’re able to capture that genuine element of surprise.”

    Indeed, most viral proposal videos involve elaborate schemes in which camera men are clearly visible. As you can see from Ring Cam’s past proposals, the shocked reactions are the best part of the videos.

    The gadget can be purchased for $149.00 to $249.00 from the company’s website, or you can rent the box for just $99.

    Be sure to watch the Good Morning America segment above for more info.

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  • Brazil To Unleash Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
    iflscience

    When you think about the deadliest animal in the world, what immediately springs to mind? Sharks? Hippos? Crocodiles? While these animals may look the part, the biggest killer amongst us is much more inconspicuous, and it can deliver that one potentially fatal bite without you even noticing. I am of course referring to the mosquito. Mosquitoes kill more people each year than all other animals combined, and on average they kill even more people than humans do. It is estimated that over 1 million people die per year from mosquito-borne diseases, such as Malaria and Dengue Fever, and millions more endure pain and suffering.

    Tackling this problem has proved a formidable task in the past, but a very small U.K.-based company called Oxitec has been developing and implementing an exciting and cost effective technique that could help curb vector-borne diseases in problem areas without the negative environmental impacts that other approaches often bestow. This sustainable technique, which involves the release of “sterile” insects into the wild, has already proved a success story in several dengue mosquito trials in different areas of the world, and it can also be applied to control other insect problems such as agricultural pests which risk food security. Furthermore, a factory in Brazil is set to be opened next week in order to raise and release these mosquitoes on a commercial scale in order to tackle Dengue Fever.

    Dengue Fever

    Dengue Fever is the fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease in the world; incidence has increased 30-fold over the last 50 years, and currently it affects around 50-100 million people each year and causes around 25,000 deaths. It’s a viral disease spread primarily by two species of mosquito; Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopticus, although the former is responsible for the majority of transmissions. Dengue is sometimes nicknamed “breakbone fever” because of the agonizing bone pain associated with the illness, and severe cases may result in the often fatal manifestation dengue hemorrhagic fever.

    Currently there are no vaccines or effective antiviral drugs, meaning that mosquito control is the only viable option to control the disease.

    Mosquito Control Techniques

    Dengue mosquitoes may bite at any time of the day, unlike the malaria mosquitoes (Anopheles) which generally bite at night time. This means that mosquito nets aren’t going to curb infection. One possible solution is the use of insecticidal aerosols which are dispensed across infested areas, but this reactive response is far from ideal because the chemicals can persist in the environment and cause problems, and non-target species will undoubtedly also be affected. Resistance also often develops over time, rendering the chemicals useless.

    Another way to control mosquitoes is the environmentally benign Sterile Insect Technique (SIT). This initially involved blasting mosquitoes with radiation in order to induce sterility, but this often damages the insects, meaning that many won’t go on to mate when released. While this may be an option for other, larger insects, it has proved for mosquitoes.

    Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

    Oxitec’s solution is an advancement of SIT, which involves the insertion of a lethal gene into male mosquitoes that prevents them from being able to successfully reproduce. Although the insects are not truly sterile, they can be considered sterile because they die before reaching sexual maturity. Released “sterile” males will therefore seek out females to mate with, competing with wild males, and the resultant progeny will contain the lethal gene and therefore die before they can mate. If a sufficient number of mosquitoes are released, the females will be more likely to find a “sterile” male, and a substantial drop in population can be achieved in a remarkably short period. The flight range of dengue mosquitoes is also around only 200 yards and they’re restricted to urban areas, making it easy to control populations with this technique as “zones” of release can be established to ensure sufficient area coverage.

    The sophisticated yet simple system also involves the insertion of a fluorescent tag called DsRed that allows careful monitoring of mosquito populations after initial release; a “track and trace” system, says Hadyn Parry, CEO of Oxitec. This means population control can be maintained over time through repeat release, which will be guided by monitoring fluorescent mosquito levels. The technique doesn’t necessarily eliminate mosquito populations; rather it keeps them at such a low levels that disease transmission no longer occurs. Within many dengue areas, the mosquitoes are actually an invasive species that shouldn’t be there anyway, and have entered the area by hitch-hiking on boats or planes.

    dengue brazil

    What if the genes stop working? Oxitec have so far looked at around 150 generations of GM mosquitoes and no resistance has been seen- the gene is stable. If the gene somehow does stop working in the field, this can be easily picked up by monitoring levels of fluorescent mosquitoes.

    Should We Be Worried About These Mosquitoes?

    The phrase “genetically modified” immediately rings alarm bells for many, and the controversial legacy of GM crops means it’s a no-brainer for some to immediately dismiss these insects as potentially dangerous “franken-mosquitoes” that could do more harm than good. But these GM mosquitoes are the opposite of GM crops. GM crops are designed to have advantageous traits that persist, and one concern of GM crops is the potential for hybridization with other plant species that could result in a loss of diversity and ultimately control. The Oxitec mosquitoes, however, are designed to have negative traits that won’t persist since they all die; it’s a dead-end system that can’t be picked up by other species.

    The lethal genes inserted into the mosquitoes also cannot be passed onto humans, and the protein produced is non-toxic to us and isn’t found in their saliva, therefore the technique is safe. According to Parry, the environmental consequences are also negligible, and assessments are made prior to release in an area to examine whether the mosquito is a keystone species, i.e. if it is critical to the food chain of another species.

    Success So Far

    Oxitec’s dengue mosquitoes have so far been trialed in the Cayman Islands, Brazil and Malaysia, and within four months of release the A. aegypti populations were reduced by 85 percent. A trial in Panama was also initiated in May which will hopefully yield similar results.

    Back in April, following successful trials that resulted in a 96 percent reduction in dengue mosquitoes, the National Technical Commission for Biosecurity (CTNBio) in Brazil approved the commercial release of Oxitec’s GM dengue mosquito, meaning that they can produce and release mosquitoes themselves. A factory is set to be opened next week in Campinas, New Scientists reports. As part of an expanded research program, Oxitec’s mosquitoes will be released in Jacobina, Bahia, and if approval is granted by the Brazilian Health Surveillance Agency, a larger release will ensue. Bahia is just one of many areas plagued by Dengue, and a state of alert is in force in 10 rural districts.

    Scaling-up these programs is simple; a coffee cup sized container contains about 3 million eggs, so tackling larger areas in future projects shouldn’t pose problems, and after an initial couple of months of training in monitoring the responsibility can be passed on to local health authorities.

    Alternative Techniques To Eliminate Dengue

    While Oxitec is the only company advancing GM mosquitoes, other groups are trialing alternative methods in order to reduce mosquito-borne diseases. One such example is the Eliminate Dengue (ED) research program which aims to investigate whether naturally occurring, harmless bacteria called Wolbachia can reduce the ability of mosquitoes to transmit dengue between people.

    Wolbachia is estimated to be naturally present in around 60 percent of insect species, but not the mosquitoes involved in malaria and dengue transmission. It has been demonstrated that when present in A. aegypti, Wolbachia blocks dengue virus transmission by these mosquitoes, although there exists some confusion over the exact mechanism behind this.

    Similar to the GM mosquitoes, projects will involve the controlled release of mosquitoes into dengue areas. These Wolbachia infected mosquitoes will breed with wild mosquitoes and consequently spread Wolbachia throughout the insect population. Laboratory tests have also shown that Wolbachia infections may also reduce the transmission of other viruses such as yellow fever. ED trials are currently underway in several countries, such as Indonesia and Australia.

    One possible drawback associated with this method is that over time, the mosquitoes could adapt to infection and the protection against dengue may wear off.

    Other Applications

    The ever-growing human population is a burden on our resources, and food security for future generations is a problem. Oxitec are currently working on producing sterile insects to tackle agricultural pests that can damage crops, which threatens food quality and quantity.

    Oxitec would also like to be able to apply their technique to the Anopheles mosquitoes that carry malaria, although since several different species transmit the malaria parasite it is a slightly more complicated situation.

    Hopefully with continued efforts, implementation of this sustainable technique will result in positive changes to growing worldwide problems such as dengue fever that threaten the lives of so many people.

    This article also appears on IFLScience.com

  • 70 Percent Of Child Sex Trafficking Victims Are Sold Online: Study
    In 2014, buying a child for sex online can be just as easy as selling your old couch or posting an updated resume.

    Astonishing statistics dug up by Thorn, an agency that studies technology’s role in sex trafficking, found that sites like Craigslist are often used as tools for conducting business within the industry. Incredibly, 70 percent of child sex trafficking survivors surveyed by Thorn were at some point sold online.

    “People are posted and sold online multiple times a day,” Asia, a survivor of sex trafficking, told Thorn. “As far as the ad that was posted up [for me]… just [like] you can go find a car, there was a picture, and a description, and a price.”

    At least 105,000 children in the U.S. are being sexually exploited, according to the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the expanding underground industry has no intention of slowing down. The FBI considers sex trafficking the fastest-growing organized crime, and online channels allowing for the exploitation are only making it easier for predators to do business. NPR reported in March that the Justice Department believes child sex trafficking could generate a staggering $32 billion a year.

    Many times, pimps work as expert manipulators to start young people in the business, promising a relationship and wealth. Tina Frundt, who founded Courtney’s House in 2008 to protect children from sex trafficking, wrote on Women’s Funding Network about her experience with a coercive man who played a role in her abuse.

    To Frundt, abusers are dangerous because of their misleadingly supportive nature.

    “This is the same man that took me out to eat,” Frundt wrote on the website. “[He] listened to me when I wanted to complain about my parents, gave me words of advice.”

    If you or someone you know is a victim of sex trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center by phone at 1-888-373-7888 or text BeFree (233733).

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  • Let's Stop Persecuting 'Auschwitz Selfie Girl' for Smiling at a Camera
    2014-07-25-selfie.jpg
    This selfie of a girl in front of Auschwitz has prompted unfair social media outrage.

    I grew up Jewish so I’m naturally very sensitive to the horrors that took place at Auschwitz during the Holocaust. I’m also very critical of Holocaust deniers and those who would minimize what the Nazis did to Jews, gays and other “undesirables.”

    But I think we need to give that young girl who took a selfie of herself at the concentration camp a break. Alabama teenager Breanna Mitchell has been vilified in social media for gross insensitivity for doing what many others have done before her.

    I’ve been to concentration camps and other infamous places including ground zero in New York, Anne Frank’s house in Amsterdam and battlefields in the U.S. and other countries were countless people were slaughtered, and I’ve seen people taking pictures of themselves in front of the scene with a big smile on their face. It’s natural. It’s what we’re taught to do when we stand in front of a camera.

    Breanna tweeted and told a TV interviewer (scroll down to watch) that she does “understand what happened there” and had planned to visit there with her dad who died a year before she was able to make the trip.

    Had this been a seasoned politician or journalist, I would criticize them (perhaps gently) for misjudgment. But this is a teenage girl who visited the site because she has a strong interest in the history of World War II and the Holocaust. If anything, she should be congratulated for caring about what happened there.

    2014-07-25-died.jpg

    If I saw her partying at the site or trying to diminish the horror and historical importance of what happened there, I would think she was being insensitive, but smiling? Come on, we’re all taught to smile in pictures. I’d like to think I would have the judgement not to smile at such a locale, but I honestly can’t swear that I’ve never posed with a smile for a picture at such an important but horrible place.

    It’s hard not to agree with her followup Tweet, asking people to “quit tweeting, to quoting, retweeting and favoriting my picture.”

    2014-07-25-omg.jpg

    Video of Breanna explaining on TV

  • Sharing is Caring. But Not in the Sharing Economy.
    The sharing economy is taking the world by storm — creating multi-billion dollar companies overnight and inspiring millennial entrepreneurs to squeeze cash out of anything and everything they have lying around the house. The popularity of the concept isn’t surprising given Generation Y’s adoption of sustainability and zero-waste as a part of their lifestyle rather than a choice. Companies, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs riding the sharing economy wave like to call it a benevolent disruption — the organic evolution of inefficient markets that comes from empowering regular Americans to maximize their own assets.

    It’s also first-rate spin from master manipulators in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street. The “sharing economy” is a reductive term that blurs the line between groundbreaking enterprises that tap into unused resources and charlatans looking for a quick payday. From unauthorized “party houses” in residential neighborhoods to profiteering from public parking spots, the so-called sharing economy is more about greed than altruism.

    The underlying concept may work in economic theory, but not in practical application. The vast majority of sharing economy startups aim to build bridges between buyer and seller without any consideration for other audiences. No understanding that private and public properties only exist in the context of the community and the neighbors and peers in it. No recognition that the sale, lease or sharing of products and services cannot be conducted in a bubble.

    Successful businesses value consumer loyalty, but not at the cost of alienating everyone outside of the financial transaction. Brands like Coca-Cola and Nike remain top names in spite of the occasional bump in the road because they build relationships while maintaining awareness of their community. Buzzy sharing economy companies like Airbnb and MonkeyParking ignore this business truism. In fact, they appear blind to everyone not adding to their revenue stream. They come off like professional cabals of squatters who seek to circumvent the social compact for a few bucks.

    These types of startups offer a lot of sharing without caring. They claim to be unassociated third parties, taking a small fee for “facilitating” transactions between two groups interested in making a deal. It’s the same faulty logic drug dealers use to deny accountability for inexcusably anti-social behavior.

    The extensive public relations campaigns and the tech media industry that laud the power of the sharing economy are deliciously ironic. They simultaneously suggest we’re all in this world together while furthering the distance between haves and have nots. More importantly, they offer a glimpse into the struggle for the soul of Silicon Valley and San Francisco. In the hotbed of American innovation, tension between millennial entrepreneurs and those outside the tech world is boiling over. Protests shut down streets, bricks are thrown at windows and name-calling has become an art form. From all corners of society, factions are at odds over rising costs, gentrification, and the #jerktech of the sharing economy.

    It’s easy to view the strife as a culture clash between young and old, but even among millennials flocking to these trendy urban centers, there is a pervasive sense that the tech world is pushing the boundaries of good taste and public trust. The Daily Show’s report on the “Google Glass Explorers” tales of discrimination went viral because it’s insightful, comedic and hugely depressing to watch wealthy, intelligent, successful young people so remarkably detached from real human connection.

    The “sharing, not caring” phenomenon is exacerbated by major tech media outlets, which slavishly report on every whispered rumor and idea from big tech firms. Take Fast Company’s coverage of Airbnb’s new branding campaign: a 1,500-word love letter to CEO Brian Chesky. The fluff piece – commonplace in the media coverage of the sharing economy – barely touches upon the company’s many troubling controversies. In the ode to the company’s genius, the reporter also strangely failed to recognize that the central image of the branding overhaul bears an uncanny resemblance to female genitalia.

    Sycophantic media outlets aside, there’s no denying the public’s shared hatred for waiting at the checkout line, the gas pump or box office. Patience and fair play are necessary parts of life that technology can never subsume. We grudgingly accept waiting as a way to stay connected with other humans – and remember the experience of lining up for coffee is still one of the most powerful ways to make friends.

    The violation of a social compact may piss people off, but cheating them out of taxpayer dollars is a more serious offense. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is waging war against armies of high-priced political and media consultants paid from Silicon Valley’s deepest pockets. Their primary argument, that their businesses are inherently impossible to regulate, is intellectually arid. All the lawyers, lobbyists and communicators in the world can’t spin away the fact that taxes are a necessary evil to pay for education, police and transportation services.

    It takes time for the law to catch up to innovation, so there is no panacea on the horizon. But there are plenty of good examples of companies – like TaskRabbit and BlaBlaCar – that legitimately embrace collaborative consumption, value public trust, and don’t dodge common-sense regulation. They understand that legal circumvention never works, that there is a world beyond their digital wallets. They skip the public relations and instead work on smart solutions.

    Millennial entrepreneurs enamored with the sharing economy must take a step back and think about what “sharing” really means. Think back to the first time they heard the word. On Sesame Street or Barney or another kid’s show. Right after Cookie Monster got through with the “C is for Cookie” song, it was there: “sharing is caring.” It made sense in the simple days of childhood and more sense now.

  • Cellphone unlocking bill without bulk unlock ban passed by House
    In an unexpected move, and avoiding a potential fight, the House of Representatives has passed bill S517, aiming to make cellphone unlocking legal. The amended bill, passed by the Senate last week, was passed with no changes — a controversial clause of the bill previously passed by the House, prohibiting bulk unlocking by companies, has been removed from the final passed version.



  • Obama To Sign Bill Making It Legal To Unlock Your Cell Phone
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation on Friday to give mobile-phone users the right to ‘unlock’ their devices and use them on competitors’ wireless networks, something that is now technically illegal.

    The legislation cleared the Senate last week. President Barack Obama said in a statement that he looked forward to signing the bill into law.

    “The bill congress passed today is another step toward giving ordinary Americans more flexibility and choice, so that they can find a cell phone carrier that meets their needs and their budget,” Obama said.

    The lawmaking follows a 2012 ruling by the Library of Congress, the minder of U.S. copyright law, that effectively made phone unlocking illegal, even after the consumer completed the contract with its wireless carrier.

    U.S. wireless carriers often tether, or “lock,” smartphones to their networks to encourage consumers to renew mobile contracts. Consumers, for their part, can often buy new devices at a heavily subsidized price in return for committing to long-term contracts with a single carrier.

    In December, major wireless carriers – including Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc – struck a voluntary agreement with the Federal Communications Commission to make it easier for consumers to unlock their phones after contracts expire.

    Under current law, someone who unlocks their phone without permission could face legal ramifications, including jail.

    New legislation, welcomed by consumer advocates, reinstates the exemption given to mobile phones in the copyright law before the controversial 2012 ruling by the Library of Congress and calls on the officials there to reconsider the issue during its next round of reviews in 2015, potentially expanding the exemption to tablets and other devices.

    “Today’s action by the House moves us closer to alleviating any confusion stemming from the Copyright Office’s 2012 decision,” Jot Carpenter, vice president of government affairs at the wireless association CTIA, said in a statement.

  • Verizon to begin throttling some 'unlimited' LTE users
    Starting October 1, Verizon will begin throttling some of its “unlimited” LTE users, according to an official announcement. The carrier promises that only five percent of that group — those using 4.7GB or more per month — will be affected, and “only in places and at times when the network is experiencing high demand.” Unlimited 3G access has been throttled in a similar manner for some time.



  • Wikipedia Bans Changes From Anonymous House Users After 'Disruptive Editing'
    Wikipedia has instituted a 10-day ban on edits from anonymous users from a single House IP address because of “persistent disruptive editing.”

    The ban, which began Thursday, is in response to edits such as one that called the news source Mediaite a “sexist transphobic” blog “that automatically assumes that someone is male without any evidence.”

    The changes were made after Mediaite wrote about increasingly off-kilter edits from Capitol Hill following the launch of @congressedits, a Twitter account that publicizes anonymous edits from congressional IP addresses.

    The article was sparked by reporting from Pando Daily, which looked into a number of recent changes regarding conspiracy theories that were highlighted by @congressedits. For example, the “Moon landing conspiracy theories” page was edited from a House IP address to say it was “promoted by the Cuban government.”

    “That same IP address recently edited the page dedicated to Diana Princess of Wales (adding in her reputation as a markswoman), COINTELPRO (removing the claim that the FBI acted illegally) and Bohemian Grove (adding the single word ‘allegedly’),” Pando Daily reported.

    The user talk page for the banned House IP address now includes a lengthy back-and-forth between would-be editors and Wikipedia administrators.

    “Out of over 9000 staffers in the House, should we really be banning this whole IP range based on the actions of two or three?” one person asks, to which an administrator noted that users who sign in to their own Wikipedia account are still able to make edits from the House IP address during the ban.

    Later in the thread, someone expresses anger that members of Congress would be playing on Wikipedia, to which another user says the edits are likely being made by staffers. However, there’s no way to know for sure.

    (h/t The Hill)

  • Yahoo Harassment Case: Why No One Is Saying 'Rape'
    2014-07-25-yahoologo.png
    The case of a high-profile female Yahoo executive allegedly sexually harassing her female subordinate has shocked Silicon Valley. The lawsuit filed by engineer Nan Shi claims that her boss, Maria Zhang, forced her to have sex on multiple occasions. When she complained, Yahoo did nothing to help. In fact, they fired her.

    “Zhang told Plaintiff she would have a bright future at Yahoo if she had sex with her,” says the complaint. “She also stated she could take away everything from her including her job, stocks, and future if she did not do what she wanted.”

    Last week, Zhang filed a counter-suit, charging defamation of character. She says Shi was a lousy employee who is simply looking for a big payoff from Yahoo.

    The allegations are hardly unusual. Over the last 30 years, workplace harassment suits have become routine, as more and more women proliferate the business world and the policies and resources to support such incidents have improved dramatically. In 2011, there were over 11,000 complaints of sexual harassment made to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): 84 percent filed by women and 16 percent filed by men.

    Occurrences of same-sex harassment are rare, even less than the rate of men reporting sexual harassment cases against women. However that number is on the rise. The EEOC says claims have doubled in the last five years. But you likely haven’t heard about them.

    Do you remember anything about this 2009 Cheesecake Factory settlement? Or this $2 Million car dealership case from earlier this year?

    “Pics Or It Didn’t Happen”

    One look at the Comments section on any of the articles that have popped up in the past two weeks offers insight to why. Most don’t bear repeating. When two women are involved the popular social media retort, “pics or it didn’t happen” is among the tamest. And not surprisingly, the vast majority appear to be from men who find the abuse claims “hot.”

    However when two men are involved the tone differs, radically. Comments range from homophobic slurs and hate speak to justifying behaviors as horseplay and locker room antics. And yet the Supreme Court’s 1998 Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services offers clear-cut boundaries, for the latter issue at least.

    One thing is crystal clear: same-sex abuse isn’t taken seriously. Despite how far the U.S. is moving forward with recognizing equality in same-sex relationships, parenting and employment rights, the notion of two people of the same sex harassing or abusing one another is considered a joke.

    In fact, you’ll notice that nowhere in any of the reports has the term “rape” been used. Not once. Now imagine if a male boss had forced his female employee to have sex or risk losing her job — would that be rape?

    Whether or not the alleged abuse actually took place — or if the accused Yahoo exec is even attracted to women — is moot. The message to anyone who is legitimately being abused, whether in a same-sex relationship or professional dynamic, is loud and clear. If you come forward, no one will take you seriously. Your highly painful and frightening situation will be mocked and trivialized.

    Same-Sex Abuse Cases Hushed Up

    And yet the latest study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs indicates that same-sex couples are actually at greater risk of abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. According to the coalition, in 2011 there were 3,930 reported cases between LGBT couples, with the number of domestic violence deaths triple the previous year.

    Abuse of any kind is an isolating experience. And the inherent isolation that many marginalized groups experience only exacerbates the problem, with some LGBT cut off from their families after “coming out” or lacking the equivalent resources made available to heterosexual individuals. There is also a false perception that women don’t hurt each other and that a fight between two men is a fair fight.

    There is tremendous pressure to have same-sex relationships recognized as loving and committed — and some worry that exposing the high abuse rate will damage those efforts. Gay rights advocacy groups like San Francisco-based CUAV, have speculated there is an intentional hush-hush coming from within the LGBT community itself, fearing bad press will only cause further stigma. Just look at the reaction to the Yahoo story.

    Breaking The Taboo

    Would you go public with something as private and traumatic as sexual abuse if you thought no one would believe you? Or worse yet. Even if they did believe your claims, they’d still just laugh at you.

    We can’t forget that there is a “coming out” process for victims of abuse too — one that clearly will challenge our own biases whenever same-sex people are involved. Once all the facts of this case emerge and the sensationalism has died down, we have an opportunity for those underlying issues to rise to the surface.

    With same-sex marriage now legal in 19 states and the laws restricting LGBT employment and parentage tumbling down, the topic of same-sex abuse will become more and more important, and unfortunately, more common.

  • Users of iOS iPhoto may lose Journals, Books, Slideshows in iOS 8
    Beginning with iOS 8 beta 4, Apple is warning owners of iPhoto for iOS that some features may not make the transition to its replacement, at least at first. Much as with iPhoto on the Mac, users will eventually be migrated over to an all-new, native Photos app, a huge overhaul of the existing iOS Photos app. When trying to run iPhoto in the current beta of iOS 8, an error message now appears stating that iPhoto isn’t supported; instead, people are offered the choice to migrate data to Photos, with the exception of “layouts and text added to Books, Journals and Slideshows.”



  • Dear God, J.Crew Is Selling Hashtag Shorts
    Because life is absurd and nothing makes sense anymore, clothing store J.Crew has decided to start selling a pair of shorts in “hashtag print.”

    What is “hashtag print”? It’s exactly what you think it is: a print with a bunch of #s on it. You know, like on Twitter? Get it, guys? Hashtag #relevant, am I right?

    Who knows why we’re taking fashion tips from techies, but here we are.

    hashtag shorts

    And here are the #s in all their close-up glory:

    hashtag shorts

    Will these #shorts sell? If trends in actual hashtags are any indication, the answer is no. Maybe the apocalypse isn’t so impending after all.

    [h/t Sam Biddle]

  • Learning From Failure in the Digital Health Business
    You know the old saying, “You learn more from your failures than your success.” But ouch, those failures can smart. At a recent Digital Health Summer Summit in San Francisco, three brave former CEOs from gone, but not forgotten companies, Zeo, HealthRally and Healthrageous took the stage to share their personal schools of hard knocks.

    David Dickinson (pictured below), now the Chief Innovation Officer & SVP, Business Dev. at Optum Labs, founded Zeo, one of the first sleep monitoring systems. The company shut its doors in 2013. The monitor included a wireless-enabled, sensor-equipped headband that users wore while they slept. It communicated with a bedside display alarm clock that captured the data transmitted from the headband. Zeo spent heavily on marketing as competition from more general purpose gadgets like Fitbit grew. Zeo generated sleep data, but the data, Dickinson now understands, needs a practical, actionable advice.

    2014-07-24-DavidDickinson.png

    Zack Lynch (pictured below), Executive Director & Founder, Neurotech Industry Organization co-founded HealthRally, one of the earliest social networking cum crowdfunding models. Betting that money was a good incentive to live a healthier life, groups were encouraged to create financial rewards for meeting health goals. HealthRally no longer exists but Lynch continues to harness the power of apps and products to foster behavioral change. “You just need to know that 99 percent of all health related startups will fail for various reasons,” he says.

    2014-07-24-LynchZach.png

    Healthrageous, an early company that combined wireless biometric sensors, smart phones, individualized coaching, incentive programs and social network support to help people achieve their personal health and wellness goals, was sold to Humana. Its founder, Rick Lee (pictured below), is now the Executive Chairman of M3 Information and still actively involved in the health startup space. He cautions that VCs need to be carefully vetted and scrutinized. As a general stereotype, they can also be a bit ADD he says. That said, “Treating consumers as consumers of their own healthcare is where the future is,” he adds.

    2014-07-24-RickyLee.jpg

    Lisa Suennen of Venture Valkyrie interviewed the three CEOs and summed it up like this, “Entrepreneurs don’t spend enough time testing their assumptions and meeting their customers before they launch.” Adding, “It doesn’t matter if you think your idea is good, it only matters if the people who you hope will buy from you think it’s good.”

    Here are ten tips from CEOs who learned the hard way, brushed themselves off and did it again.

    1. Identify a problem that America has, not one that you have, and solve that problem. Remember, not everyone is a white 26-year-old guy living in Silicon Valley.

    2. Go to market with an unfair distribution advantage. Launch with a TV show, have your partners push their channels, etc. A little bit of press coverage and a few tweets aren’t going to do it.

    3. Your business model is more important than your brand.

    4. Technology is great, but psychology wins. There’s so much seduction with the latest invention, but can you understand how to motivate behavioral change?

    5. Beware of placing your bet on any one distribution channel. Be multifaceted.

    6. Consumer digital healthcare is a mile wide and a mile deep. It’s very complicated. You have to do a lot and do it well.

    7. Innovation is inherently risky. Don’t be afraid. Be bold, be brave, and whatever you do, don’t be conservative.

    8. If your board of directors isn’t helping you achieve your goals, then build your dream board to advise you.

    9. Beware of falling in love with early anecdotal data.

    10. Know when to pivot and do it while you still have 12 months of burn rate. Whether it’s a change in talent, business strategy or market focus.

    Watch the videos from the conference to understand more about learning from failure:

    Dave Dickson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KCGvhZIkyQ&list=PL8QZjsOU7Vktd-Zk0_75yzmFBxLI_JDyJ

    Zack Lynch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5XNbOf3QC4

    Rick Lee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ey3v3FuNbEA

    Robin Raskin is founder of Living in Digital Times (LIDT), a team of technophiles who bring together top experts and the latest innovations that intersect lifestyle and technology. LIDT produces conferences and expos at CES and throughout the year focusing on how technology enhances every aspect of our lives through the eyes of today’s digital consumer.

  • Take A Break From The Heat With The Funniest Someecards Of The Week
    This week had some very high highs and some very low lows.

    Let’s start with the high: Weird Al finally hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with his album “Mandatory Fun” and we couldn’t be happier!

    The low? The trailer for “Fifty Shades Of Grey” was released. This is how we felt about it.

    Now, let’s try to forget we ever subjected ourselves to watching that. Distract yourself with something MUCH more enjoyable, this week’s most hilarious Someecards. Check out our favorite cards of the week below.

  • The Power of Second Chances
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    I got a first-hand look at how our criminal justice system could be used to transform lives — not just punish — while serving as a prosecutor in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

    In one case, an 18-year-old young woman was arrested for selling drugs on a San Francisco street corner. She normally would have ended up behind bars for a felony conviction that would have followed her for the rest of her life. Instead, she pled guilty, accepted responsibility and entered an innovative re-entry program for nonviolent, first-time drug offenders. During the program, she was closely supervised and provided the resources and support she needed to turn her life around. Among the requirements: enrolling in school, performing community service and getting a full-time job. She thrived in the program. After graduating, she received a full scholarship to attend a university and finished her first semester with a 3.8 GPA.

    The program, called Back on Track, was one of the first re-entry programs in a District Attorney’s Office. It would go on to become a national model, reducing re-offense rates from 53 percent to less than 10 percent while saving tax dollars — the program cost about $5,000 per person, compared to more than $50,000 to spend a year county jail. Perhaps even more importantly, it helped save lives and strengthen families and communities. The power of second chances was never more evident than at the yearly Back on Track graduation ceremonies. There, smartly dressed mothers, fathers, siblings, children and community members celebrated the young graduates as they prepared to embark on much more hopeful futures.

    For far too long, our criminal justice system has been stuck using one gear — the incarceration gear. We lock up too many people for far too long, for no good reason, and we’re doing so at great economic, human and moral cost. As a prosecutor, I saw the same offenders arrested, prosecuted and locked up, only to come back time and time again. I saw low-level, nonviolent offenders return from prison and jails more hardened and posing a greater threat to our communities than when they went in. And I saw African Americans and Latinos arrested and jailed at egregiously greater rates than whites.

    Our “incarceration only” approach to public safety has left us with bloated prisons and jails, wasted tax dollars and sky-high recidivism rates (more than half of those behind bars end up back in prison within three years after they are released). Today, though, there are some very heartening signs that we may be ready to leave failed policies behind. A bipartisan effort currently is underway to reform federal drug sentencing laws, with leaders from both sides of the aisle calling for new approaches to address mass incarceration. At the state and local levels, a handful of states — such as Texas and New York — are closing prisons by using evidence-based programs and funding services that are designed to reduce re-offending. A movement to “ban the box” also is growing around the country, with cities, counties and states choosing to give formerly incarcerated people a fair chance at the job opportunities they need to get back on track.

    What else can we do to redesign our system and achieve justice, increase public safety and transform lives?

    At the front end, we can stop over-incarcerating low-level drug offenders and the mentally ill, and instead, champion sentencing reform. Decades-old War on Drugs penal code sections in most states treat non-violent drug offenses as felonies, which means people end up with significant time behind bars and lifelong consequences, instead of getting the addiction treatment and services they need.

    We can demand smart solutions that use our prisons and jails for those who have committed the most serious and violent crimes, while using proven strategies, such as probation supervision, drug courts and other treatment-focused services, for people who have been convicted of low-level offenses. Job and education-focused programs like Back on Track create pathways to productive lives at a fraction of the cost of incarceration.

    On the back end, we can make sure that people who have served time and paid their dues to society have the support, services and a real shot at a fair chance to build new lives, reconnect with their families and stay out after they get out.

    We can also use the savings from reducing the number of people behind bars to fund programs that help victims of crime and violence and prevent crime from happening in the first place. Interestingly enough, a recent survey by Californians for Safety and Justice found that even crime victims don’t believe that prisons and jails rehabilitate people. Instead, a majority of crime victims believe we send too many people to prison, and they called for more investment in education, mental health and drug treatment, supervised probation and rehabilitation.

    It’s time to shift gears on criminal justice and embrace proven approaches that can not only give people a second chance but also ensure safety for our communities. That’s what our justice system was supposed to do in the first place.

    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.

  • Production of new iPads, 5.5-inch iPhone yet to begin, rumor claims
    Although mass production of a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is underway, other Apple products due this fall — including new versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini, and the 5.5-inch iPhone — have yet to begin assembly, according to Chinese-language publication UDN. The new iPads are expected to enter production in September, but there is no reported timeframe for the 5.5-inch iPhone. UDN makes no mention of the iWatch, something generally anticipated in the fall.



Mobile Technology News, July 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.

  • Potential 5.5-inch iPhone flex cables, SIM trays leak
    A new set of pictures from a Taiwanese enthusiast site could provide the first evidence of the existence of a 5.5-inch iPhone if legitimate. The images, showing flex cables for the volume-mute button as well as the wake-sleep control, also include an unknown longer flex cable previously unseen in an iPhone model, as well as a set of micro-SIM trays. All are said to be for a 5.5-inch iPhone which has been long-rumored, but to date little credible evidence exists for its production.



  • Senegal’s cattle rustlers challenged
    Squaring up to Senegal’s cattle rustlers
  • British Man Builds Gigantic Farting Butt, Lets 'Er Rip At France
    Who cut the fromage?

    Colin Furze, a British plumber and prank aficionado, headed down to a cliff in Dover, England, on Thursday to see if he could produce a machine-made fart loud enough to be heard in France, which sits on the other side of the 21-mile-wide Straight of Dover.

    “So the grand plan is to become noisy neighbors but on an international scale,” Furze wrote on his website, ahead of Thursday’s demonstration.

    The deafening, fart-like noise was produced using a valveless pulsejet engine that creates a fiery tail when ignited.

    The best part of it all? Furze’s machine was rigged to fit inside a giant buttocks.

    France we are ready to go at 6pm pic.twitter.com/hTsLcHRqoT

    — colin furze (@colin_furze) July 24, 2014

    Furze said on his site that he hoped to startle unsuspecting Frenchmen relaxing on the beach across the strait.

    Though it’s unconfirmed if denizens of France’s northern country heard Furze’s flatulence, the crowd seemed to have felt the good vibrations.

    Just witnessed history! @colin_furze and his pulse jet as he farted at France. #fartonfrance #fartatfrance pic.twitter.com/HR4HiMEj1C

    — sarcastic asshole (@Ebissell98) July 24, 2014

    Watch Furze explain the construction process behind his fart machine in the videos below:

  • Crowdfunding Critic: Pond wireless charging system
    Historically, MacNN and Electronista have covered few, if any, in-progress crowd-sourced projects unless there was something unusual about them, like making 100x their goal. Starting this week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons we’re going to look at crowd-funded projects that we find interesting. Keep in mind that we aren’t specifically endorsing any projects, or telling you that there aren’t any risks in funding a prospective project, we’re just pointing out something we found that we like. Please do your research before investing! That all said, our inaugural crowd-sourced project this wee



  • Neil Degrasse Tyson and 48 Other Emojis We Wish We Had
    Words don’t always do a conversation justice — especially when that convo is text based.

    You’re there texting your bestie and an overwhelming sense of glee sweeps over you. What to do? Say it with an emoji, of course.

    With the announcement of Unicode 7.0 and 250 new emojis in the works (what would we do without “Man in Business Suit Levitating“) Microsoft has imagined what the new update missed — adding 49 more emojis you seriously wish you had.

    The Euler diagram below pretty much solves any need you could imagine. So, you’re a hippie with a distinctly geeky interests? Don’t worry, there’s a Neil deGrasse Tyson for you to express yourself. Oh you’re a college girl getting a degree in business? Here’s your bottle of Fireball.

    …and we can all pretty much agree: dinosaurs are universally cool.

    microsoft emoji_full

    via Microsoft Social Listening

  • Amazon reports $126m quarterly loss
    Amazon reports a loss of $126m in the second quarter and warns of slowing sales.
  • This iPhone App Lets You Turn Any Photo Into An Emoji
    It was only a matter of time: Now you can be an emoji, thanks to a new app.

    Imoji, posted to the App Store on Thursday, allows iOS users to turn the pictures they take — or save — into emojis for iMessage. What’s more, The Next Web notes, users can choose to make a sticker private, or opt to make it public for others to use in their own conversations. That means any user has the chance to create the next ultra versatile emoji (think: clapping hands or poop with eyes).

    (Story continues below)
    imoji
    The Imoji app allows users to select from a set of pre-saved creations.

    As the promotional video (see above) shows, the user edits his or her photo and then drags it to the center of the screen. The app then sends the creation to the user’s chat in iMessage.

    According to TechCrunch, the app offers users a variety of simple editing tools such as zoom, crop and cut. Both Next Web and TechCrunch note that the app’s interface is initially hard to use and takes a bit of learning. However, both sites said that working with Imoji gets easier with practice.

    In an interview with Forbes, Imoji co-creator Tom Smith explained Imoji was initially sent out to 100 “designers and influencers.” He said the amount of stickers sent and created before the app’s actual release has already surpassed his expectations.

    The Imoji app is available for free download at the Apple App Store.

  • Is 'Seinfeld' Coming To Netflix?
    Have you been scrolling through your Netflix queue recently and noticed a disturbing amount of missing “Seinfeld” episodes. Yeah, us too.

    You’d think one of the most popular on-demand streaming services in the world would already have one of the most popular TV sitcoms ever, but Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer have been left out. Jerry Seinfeld hosted a Reddit AMA earlier today and the comedy legend confirmed the news every “Seinfeld” fan has been hoping to hear, sort of.

    Asked if talk of taking the comedy show online and making it available to subscribers was actually real, Seinfeld replied semi-cryptically: “You are a very smart and progressive person. These conversations are presently taking place.” We’re not sure if this is the first time negotiations between the streaming company and the show have happened, although we highly doubt it, but we’re crossing our fingers that a deal is made. After all, why watch a few syndicated reruns every night when you can watch all 180 episodes in one sitting?

    tv show gifs

  • 'Game Of Thrones' Emoji Are Coming
    If you thought “Seinfeld” emoji were as good as it gets, you know nothing, Internet.

    Elite Daily has developed new “Game of Thrones” emoji, and with everything from memorable characters to awesome “GoT” items, they’re guaranteed to please the old gods and the new.

    Tyrion Lannister
    tyrion

    Jon Snow
    jon snow

    Littlefinger
    petyr

    Daenerys Targaryen
    dany

    White Walker
    walker

    Crossbow
    bow

    Valyrian Steel
    sword

    Drogon
    dragon

    The Iron Throne
    throne

    Hodor
    hodor

    Direwolf
    wolf

    George R.R. Martin
    martin

    Hand of the King’s pin
    kings hand

    Joffrey Baratheon
    king

    Dragon Eggs
    eggs

    Arya Stark
    arya

    Westeros Wine
    wine

    Direwolves
    wolves

    Khal Drogo
    khal

    Unfortunately, these are just for show as of now, but with the nonstop, growing popularity of the HBO series, it should be only a matter of time before all men must text “GoT” emoji.

  • 11 Tricks to Get Engineers to Sort of Respect You
    As we all know, software engineers are the smartest, sweetest, most pretentious bastards in corporate America. I should know – I’m engaged to one of them. But there’s no need to sacrifice your lifelong happiness like I did. Here are eleven quick ways to get a software engineer to say those five little words: “I sort of respect you.”

    1. Send text-only emails
    2014-07-24-image.jpg
    Engineers aren’t impressed with your fancy headers, bold red text formatting or inline images. What they are impressed with is multi-level ascii lists. If you want emphasis, put it in between *two asterisks.* If you want over-emphasis, put it between _two underscores_. And never ever end any email with “cheers.”

    2. Talk about things being “orthogonal”
    Whenever a new point is introduced, say something like, “Isn’t that orthogonal to this conversation?” Even if it isn’t, you still get points for saying “orthogonal.”

    3. Mention the first article of Hacker News
    Go to Hacker News and read the first headline. Memorize it. Then, next time you’re chatting with an engineer, mention it. Work it into the conversation, no matter what it is.

    Sample conversation:

    You: Hey Jill
    Jill: Hey
    You: Wow can you believe Firm Inefficiency?
    Jill: I KNOW!
    You: Crazy right? Anyhoo, quick question for you…

    4. Make fun of product managers
    There’s no faster way to get on the good side of most engineers than making fun of product managers. Huge bonus points if you yourself are a product manager  –  but in that case, your ego may be too inflated to make fun of yourself effectively, so here are some jokes you can use.

    Joke #1
    What does a Jeopardy loser and product manager have in common?
    They both ask a lot of stupid questions.

    Joke #2
    What’s the best way to pay a product manager?
    American Express. They love taking credit for things.

    Joke #3
    What happened to the product manager who could only write three lines of code?
    He got promoted.

    Get a few engineers within earshot and tell one of these jokes, and you’ll have their sort of respect in no time.

    5. Make your desktop background a picture of Linus
    2014-07-24-image2.jpg

    Linus who? Torvalds. No you don’t need to know who that is.

    6. Leave an emacs buffer open
    Leave an emacs buffer open on your desktop. I don’t know what it is either. Fill it with a bunch of words like “git” and “reddit” and “cloud” and “fetch.” If you really want to get him excited, use org-mode. Pro tip: Engineers think of org-mode as the Pearl Jam of organizational major modes.

    Pro tip: Engineers think of org-mode as the Pearl Jam of organizational major modes.

    7. Compliment his design skills
    Complimenting an engineer’s design skills is a lot like faking an orgasm –  it’s empty flattery but it’ll pay dividends in the long run, maybe even get you a free dinner at Sizzler (i.e., the top of the list the next time something is broken). Don’t underestimate the power of a non-specific comment about his use of white space or the font on her buttons.

    8. Become a grammar nazi
    Engineers aren’t professional grammarticians, but they love correcting people. Even more, they love making you feel stupid. So get on their good side by pointing out the difference between e.g., and i.e., where the period goes in et.al, and the correct usage of the phrase, “begging the question.” For bonus points, discuss Latin roots.

    9. Compliment her rig
    Say how great her rig is. Keep it ambiguous.

    10. Say “you don’t look like an engineer”
    One of the best things you can do to get on an engineer’s good side is make him feel as much like a regular person as possible, without insulting his intelligence. Say things like, “You’re too cool to be an engineer,” or “Nice kicks!” or “You are the least awkward person I know.” Note: This only works on male engineers.

    11. Food and alcohol
    2014-07-24-image3.jpg

    When all else fails, order some pizza and buy some beer. The good kind. Engineers love pretending to be beer snobs. Filling their stomachs and getting them drunk will definitely get you the sort of respect of every engineer you work with.

  • No Security: Hope X Is (Not So) Decadent and Depraved — Day 2
    This is Day 2 of my journal shooting my history on computer hacking at HOPE X Conference at the Hotel Pennsylvania July 18-20, 2014. You can read day 1 here.

    Day 2

    10:00am- First thing this morning I snorted one ritalin, drank one and a half cups of black coffee and I’m eating a red apple right now at the hotel. I slept like a rock after HOPE X day 1. My sinuses shut down during the night from yesterday’s heavy drug intake, but a lovely nurse sorted me out at 5am. I was asked to be on HOPE’s radio show today, which is a great honor. They are also looking for Phiber Optik. Maybe we can go on together. That would be fun…

    I’m set up at the same spot at HOPE with my crew waiting for our first interview with Tiffany Rad. Tiffany is a high powered Washington attorney who is also a computer security analyst. I am slightly concerned about my questions, which I wrote on the fly at 9pm last night. What I find so hard about documentary filmmaking is doing all the research before every interview. I wonder if all of the people I am filming expect me to be fully versed on their body of work. I should make an attempt to be. I don’t know anyone who does this much research.

    My business partner John Torrani and Adam Torkel are setting up the lights and camera. Its almost showtime and I find their sober presence soothing.

    12:01 pm-Finished interviewing Tiffany Rad, she was brilliant. Tiffany explained computer security from a very accessible and learned perspective, she studied it much in the way she studied viruses and bacteriology. There were definitely some excellent insights. We quickly flagged down Cheshire Catalyst for an interview. He was game and was a lot of fun. I can tell he has a few pre-prepared statements but more or less had some funny insights. He’s one of these guys who caught on to phone phreaking early and stayed the course. His story runs from TAP to 2600 etc. I just ran into my pal Dave Buchwald (who designed miles of art for 2600 The Hacker Quarterly among other things) before the talk. We some loose plans to get together but he had to bail early.
    Gotta go- keynote by Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden. Mad hype.

    1:25pm- I did my last dilaudid. Waiting for the keynote to begin. My crew and I got into the main room where the speakers are. This is really supremely lucky as there are quite literally people waiting outside the hotel trying to get in. All of this excitement has a lot of people on edge. John texted me from his location on the side of the ball room, where he has been regulated to film with the rest of the press. I’m nonplussed at this point. Thank god for Xanax. 2600 mastermind Eric Corley just started the intro. This is going to be great.

    2:30pm- Everything running late. Ellsberg was fantastic. It was a stellar speech, the only black dot on an otherwise perfect experience were the two idiots sitting behind me who were voicing their mundane opinions. Loudly. I had to tell them to shut up and everyone in the immediate vicinity looked thankful that I spoke up. Ellsberg is a brilliant speaker. His words flow, his story is riveting. I’m sure you will be able to find his hour long inspiring and succinct speech online, and I encourage everyone to watch it. After the talk I saw Ellsberg coming out of the bathroom with Cheshire Catalyst. Next up is Ed Snowden in conversation with Ellsberg. I’m going to film this on my iphone now and post it to my NO SEC column in its entirety….

    4:10pm- Nevermind it was streamed. You’ve seen it by the time you read this. I had a little bit of time with Ellsberg for an interview following the talk. He was gracious and patient despite having been through quite a lot today. I’m a bit star struck around him. Growing up with a father who was an art director at Hustler, you develop a great appreciation for what Ellsberg did with the Pentagon papers. Although my film is about hacking and not whistleblowing, we need a respected voice like his to address that subject.

    5:00pm- Everything was pushed back an hour. We did a five minute pitch in the lightning talks. My producer John Torrani and I tag teamed it. I thought it was really good. Got some laughs.

    7:00pm- I show up at Radio Stetler for my scheduled Radio Interview. Nobody is there. Oh well… tomorrow may work.

    8:38pm- I’ve had enough. We pack up….we are all totally burnt. The room we have been in is so unpleasant, aesthetically speaking, and windowless, we are all suffering from a lack of oxygen and an overdose of stimulation.

  • UK Supermarket To Use Food Waste To Power Itself
    Where does all the leftover food go when the grocery store closes at the end of the day? Maybe it’s repurposed somehow or thrown out, but what if it could help a supermarket become energy independent? A Sainsbury’s supermarket in the United Kingdom will soon power itself with leftover food waste and disconnect from the National Grid.

    Sainsbury’s is partnering with Biffa, one of the U.K.’s largest waste management companies, to make this possible. Sainsbury’s trucks its food waste from all over the U.K. to Biffa’s plant in Staffordshire. Biffa then converts it into biogas, and this biogas is then burned to meet the energy needs of a location in the town of Cannock.

    “Sainsbury’s sends absolutely no waste to landfill and we’re always looking for new ways to reuse and recycle,” said Sainsbury’s’ head of sustainability Paul Crewe in a press release. “We’re delighted to be the first business ever to make use of this linkup technology, allowing our Cannock store to be powered entirely by our food waste.”

    Not all of Sainsbury’s’ food becomes biogas. To ensure no waste goes to landfills, Sainsbury’s also donates food that’s safe to eat to its charitable partners to feed the underprivileged, or to the Knowley safari park to feed the animals.

    Biogas is a renewable fuel, created when bacteria feast on organic matter in a large tank in the absence of oxygen. This is called anaerobic digestion, and Sainsbury’s is the process’ biggest user in the U.K. In a statement, the company says they generate “enough energy to power 2,500 homes each year.”

    Biogas is composed mostly of methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas if released uncombusted. Burning the fuel releases carbon dioxide, but unlike natural gas, coal or oil, which release carbon that was once sequestered underground, biogas is created from organic sources already a part of the carbon cycle and is carbon-neutral.

    Biogas power generation can be a solution for remote areas in need of energy. Wind and solar can be intermittent depending on the weather, but biogas is more reliable. Plus, anaerobic digestion doesn’t just have to depend on food waste. Manure and other agricultural wastes can be converted to biogas as well.

    Check out the infographic below to see how the Sainsbury’s biogas power plan works.
    sainsburys

  • Obamacare Website Getting So Much Traffic It's Surprising Experts

    This story was co-published with NPR’s “Shots” blog.

    For months, journalists and politicians fixated on the number of people signing up for health insurance through the federal exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act. It turned out that more than 5 million people signed up using Healthcare.gov by April 19, the end of the open-enrollment period.

    But perhaps more surprising is that, according to federal data released Wednesday to ProPublica, there have been nearly 1 million transactions on the exchange since then. People are allowed to sign up and switch plans after certain life events, such as job changes, moves, the birth of a baby, marriages and divorces.

    The volume of these transactions was a jolt even for those who have watched the rollout of the ACA most closely.

    “That’s higher than I would have expected,” said Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “There are a lot of people who qualify for special enrollment, but my assumption has been that few of them would actually sign up.”

    The impact of the new numbers isn’t clear because the Obama administration has not released details of how many consumers failed to pay their premiums and thus were dropped by their health plans. All told, between the federal exchange and 14 state exchanges, more than 8 million people signed up for coverage. A big question is whether new members will offset attrition.

    ProPublica requested data on the number of daily enrollment transactions on the federal exchange last year under the Freedom of Information Act because the Obama administration had declined to release this information, a key barometer of the exchange’s performance, to the public. The administration also has not put out any data on the exchange’s activity since the open enrollment period ended.

    The data shows so-called “834″ transactions, which insurance companies and the government use to enroll new members, change a member’s enrollment status, or disenroll members. The data covers the 36 states using the federal exchange, which include Texas, Florida, Illinois, Georgia and Michigan.

    When Healthcare.gov rolled out last fall, insurance companies complained that the information in the 834s was replete with errors, creating a crisis at the back-end of the system.

    Between April 20 and July 15, the federal government reported sending 960,000 “834″ transactions to insurance companies (each report can cover more than one person in the same family). That includes 153,940 for the rest of April, 317,964 in May, 338,017 in June and 150,728 in the first 15 days of July. The daily rate has been fairly stable over this period.

    It was not immediately clear how many of the records involved plan changes or cancellations and how many were for new enrollments.

    An insurance industry official estimated that less than half of the transactions are new enrollments. The rest are changes: When an existing member makes a change to his or her policy, two 834s are created 2014 one terminating the old plan and one opening the new one.

    Charles Gaba, who runs the website acasignups.net that tracks enrollment numbers, estimates that between 6,000 and 7,000 people have signed up for coverage each day on the federal exchange after the official enrollment period ended. Gaba’s predictions were remarkably accurate during the open enrollment period.

    “That doesn’t account for attrition. That doesn’t mean that they paid,” Gaba said. “That’s been based on limited data from a half dozen of the smaller exchanges, extrapolated out nationally.”

    The federal data obtained by ProPublica confirm some other facts about the rollout of Healthcare.gov, which was hobbled initially by technical problems. The slowest day was Oct. 18, when no 834 transactions were sent. That was followed by Oct. 1, the day the website launched, when a grand total of six records were sent to insurers.

    By contrast, the busiest day was March 31, the official end of open enrollment, when 202,626 “834″ reports were sent to insurers. The entire last week in March was busy.

    About 86 percent of those who signed up for coverage on the federal exchange were eligible to receive government subsidies to help lower their monthly premiums. Those subsidies are being challenged by lawsuits in federal court contending they aren’t allowed by the Affordable Care Act.

    Two federal appeals courts came to conflicting decisions Tuesday on the permissibility of the subsidies (one said yes; the other no). They will remain in effect as the cases proceed in the courts, the Obama administration said.

    The next time that the general public can sign up for coverage through the exchanges is from November 15 to February 15, 2015.

    Click here to download the data (Excel or CSV) released to ProPublica under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Read our previous coverage of the Affordable Care Act and share your story.

  • Google quizzed over deleted links
    Watchdogs are told that Google has complied with more than 45,000 requests for links to be erased from its European search results.
  • Family Asked To Deboard Plane After Dad Sends Tweet Criticizing Gate Agent
    A Minnesota dad isn’t exactly feeling the “LUV” after he and his two kids were removed from a Southwest Airlines flight last weekend following confusion over the airlines’ boarding process for children.

    Duff Watson was traveling with his two kids, ages 6 and 9, from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon, when he says the agent at the gate prevented him from boarding early with his children. As an “A-List” passenger, Watson told CBS Minnesota he’s entitled to priority boarding. The gate agent let Watson through but wouldn’t let his children board the plane with him.

    “I am not trying to game the system,” Watson told ABC News in an interview Wednesday. “I’m not going to leave my kids alone to board. That doesn’t make sense.”

    With no other option, Watson says he and his family waited to board the plane later, with Watson promising to alert Southwest customer service to the agent’s conduct.

    “I thought she was very rude and wanted to complain to customer service, so I asked her: ‘Can I get your last name?’” he recalled to ABC News. “She told me: ‘You don’t need my last name for anything,’… [and] I told her: ‘Real nice way to treat an A-list member.’”

    As promised, he shot off a complaint to Southwest’s Twitter account, which, Watson told KARE 11, read in all caps, “RUDEST AGENT IN DENVER. KIMBERLY S. GATE C39. NOT HAPPY @SWA.”

    After sending the tweet, the family, which had since boarded the flight, was called out via the plane’s loudspeaker and asked to gather their belongings and leave the aircraft.

    The agent he’d disagreed with earlier had called them off the plane, says Watson, because she felt “threatened because he used her name on social media.” He says he was told “that unless he deleted his post, she was calling the cops and the family would not be allowed back on the plane.”

    Watson says he ultimately deleted the tweet as the agent looked on, and the family was allowed back onto the flight with his children, who by that point he says were in tears over the incident.

    In a statement published Thursday morning, Southwest Airlines apologized for the incident and said they’ve discussed the matter with Watson:

    Southwest Airlines appreciates and is active in social media, and it is not our intent to stifle Customer feedback. Social media is a very valuable avenue for engaging with our Customers. On Sunday, July 20, a Southwest Airlines Employee and Customer were having a conversation that escalated about the airline’s family boarding procedures. The Customer was briefly removed from flight #2347 from Denver to Minneapolis/St. Paul to resolve the conversation outside of the aircraft and away from the other Passengers. Our decision was not based solely on a Customer’s tweet. Following a successful resolution, the Customer and his family were able to continue on the flight to Minneapolis. We are thoroughly investigating the situation. We have reached out to the Customer and offered vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.

    WATCH the full CBS Minnesota segment, below:

  • Audra McDonald And Jimmy Fallon Sing About Life's Biggest Questions In Another Yahoo! Answers
    Life is full of tough questions like, “How do I become the life of the party?” and “What do I do if I think an ice cube is stuck in my throat?”

    Fortunately, Tony winner Audra McDonald is back to sing more Yahoo! Answers with Jimmy Fallon and “The Good Wife’s” Josh Charles. These lounge singers have such silky smooth advice, you almost won’t believe it’s real.

    Like seriously.

    “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC.

  • This Little Stick Tells You If Your Drink Was Drugged
    Plenty of women can relate to the fear that comes along with putting a drink down at a crowded party or bar: Did someone spike this cocktail? Was I just roofied?

    Now, there’s a gadget — a little stick — designed to ease that date-rape drug anxiety. It’s called pd.id, or the “personal drink ID.”

    Here’s how it works: Stick the pocket-sized gizmo into your drink, and it will scan for color, conductivity and temperature. It then takes that information and compares it to a database of drinks it knows by connecting to an app on your phone.

    If it finds that the drink is red wine and nothing more, a green light flashes. But if it spots a common date-rape drug like Ambien or Rohypnol, the red light lets you know to pour it out and consult the smartphone app, which will tell you what was in it.

    pdid
    The pd.id in action.

    While the high-tech industry has been mired with its own gender-balance problems, Wilson said he has been encouraged by the support he has received from his techie colleagues.

    “A lot of men don’t understand the issue of sexual assault,” founder David Wilson told the Huffington Post. “But men are now becoming more aware.”

    Wilson, a former IT consultant living in Toronto, began working on pd.id three years ago. Since then he has launched a campaign on Indiegogo to raise $100,000 to fund his project. Even if his project fails to meet its fundraising goal, he said, it will at least have raised awareness of the issue. So far, it’s raised about $12,000.

    Statistics about the prevalence of date-rape drugs are difficult to come by, but in 2005 the U.S. Department of Justice found 4 percent of sexual assault victims had been drugged. (And drugged or not, nearly one in five women have been raped or experienced an attempted rape, according to a 2011 survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

    Trying not to oversell his device, Wilson called pd.id a “warning system” like the song-identifying Shazam app. Similar to how Shazam might have trouble finding a match in a crowded bar, “noise” in a drink — like dishwasher soap residue — could fudge the results.

    But Wilson said this technology is already used by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. And even when the stick can’t pin down exactly what’s in the drink, the red light will still flash to let you know to think twice before taking a sip.

  • Musician Traverses Iowa, Recreates 'Blue Danube' Waltz With The Sounds Of Wind
    In a new mini-documentary by Siemens, musician Will Bates harnesses the sounds of wind power in Iowa to recreate Strauss’ “Blue Danube.” Partnered with the company, Bates sought to enhance the beauty of turbines by combining their modern aesthetic with classical music. And to prove that Iowa’s beauty is more than just corn, he embarked across the Hawkeye State to assemble the iconic waltz.

    Armed with microphones and PVC pipes, Bates experimented with wind in his studio in New York before heading out to the Midwest. “We had first envisioned creating an original piece but felt the scale and style of the Blue Danube waltz was well suited due to its recognizable sound and the quality of the tones,” said Bates in a Q&A with Siemens. “It is haunting when translated.”

    In 2013, Siemens was contracted to build the United States’ largest on-shore wind power installation in southeast Iowa, to be completed by the end of 2015. The 448 new wind turbines will supply 317,000 households with clean power and create over 1,000 new jobs. Throughout the United States, Siemens has installed enough wind turbines to power approximately 3 million households.

    Despite the recession, Iowa’s economy is growing, according to the Mid-America Business Conditions Index from Creighton University. In June, however, Iowa’s economy slowed slightly, allowing Minnesota to reach the top spot among the Midwestern states.

    “We filmed just after a very hard winter –- rough on the farmers like the one who’s field we filmed and recorded on,” Bates said. “It made the work feel all the more important as we featured how the local economy is impacted by this wind power and the local manufacturing for the turbines behind it. I think this greater message helped make the project something unique and unusual –- bigger than just the music itself.”

    According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, between 2011 and 2012, wind generation in Iowa rose by 31 percent. And among all 50 states, Iowa ranks first in portion of energy coming from wind generation.

    Listen to the full version of Bates’ “Blue Danube” below:

  • Dear Progressives, We're Not Doing It Right
    When I was a kid, I fell in love with musicals. All the other boys could quote baseball player stats and football scores all day long, but it wasn’t my thing. I, on the other hand, reveled in discovering the breadth of Patti LuPone’s career or learning every lyric from Weird Romance, an Off-Broadway flop from 1992 featuring some amazing performances. This was the little world I owned — no one knew more about it than I did.

    In high school and college, I started discovering other people who had the same thrill over hearing the name “Chita Rivera” as I did. Finally I was discovering my community. People who were unabashedly obsessed with Broadway became the folks I could identify with and I wanted to spend my time with (as annoying as that may sound to the non-musical theatre afficianado).

    Netroots Nation is one of a few annual convenings of people who work in progressive campaigns, organizations and advocacy. The conference that brings thousands of progressives together prides itself on being on the cutting edge, whether it be the introduction of new technology, discussions about the past, presence and future of the movement, or hosting speeches where politicians compete to be the most progressive of all.

    Over the years, Netroots has led by example, making sure that sessions submitted have diverse panelists and trainers, including a “Transgender Ettiquette” statement in the program and the panels themselves represent an extraordinary array of important issues affecting the entire progressive community. But something’s not trickling down.

    A common criticism of progressives (mostly from other progressives) is that we’re all talk. Terms like “radical inclusivity,” “privilege” and “intersectionality” dominate our discussions, but like the hypocrisy of some religious folks who don’t practice what they preach, many of us fail at incorporating these memes into our daily work.

    Last week saw several examples where we failed to live up to the progressive values we hold as ideals for our movement.

    Sharing the conference hotel with us was a science fiction convention called DetConOne. As I moonlight as a voice actor on Pokémon, I’m extraordinarily familiar with the costumes, the discussions and the feel of conventions like that one. One thing that strikes me about the sci-fi/fantasy fan community is that acceptance and pride are unspoken community agreements. They are unapologetically nerdy, inspiringly proud of how they look in a costume, and most importantly — always kind to one another — to a degree that I’ve never experienced in any other community I’ve been a part of.

    2014-07-23-482743_423232081097599_1469695603_n.jpg

    As the week progressed, I frequently caught some Netroots attendees rolling their eyes or saying things that were less-than-accepting of the attendees from the other conference. While I did catch this a handful of times, there were several who were quite willing to admit they too, were big fans of the genre — a few even purchased registrations to the other con.

    The final night of the conferences, there were several hotel parties going on at the same time. Two full floors of parties from the Sci-fi fans and a handful of events for Netroots attendees. For each of the Netroots parties, there was a barrier for entry. Folks were being denied admittance from different events for a variety of reasons — some people were invited and others clearly were not. At one party, I was told directly that I wasn’t supposed to be there because I didn’t have a special bracelet.

    2014-07-23-DSC_4323.JPG

    Naturally, I didn’t want to be where I wasn’t wanted, so I wandered down to the Sci-Fi con’s parties and was welcomed in the door of all of them — free drinks and food and even a dance party complete with a proud, tattooed, transgender woman DJing and a room full of pirates, wookies, lefty organizers, dreamers and dream defenders dancing the night away.

    When moments like this and others were mentioned on Twitter and Facebook, the first response was a defensive one. “It wasn’t me…” “I would never snicker at someone else…” or “I’m always welcoming and affirming of everyone!” I’m sorry, but that’s no longer enough if we are going to continue to march under the progressive banner. Progress doesn’t mean sitting and waiting for others to come to the table. Progress is showing others, by example, that they are wanted and respected at the table. We claim to be the place where everyone is welcome, but if you really think about it — that’s not what we’re living. It may be what we’re saying, but it’s not how we act.

    And it wasn’t just about the parties and it never has been. At nearly every gathering of progressives, the most common feedback is frequently that it wasn’t diverse enough, not inclusive enough or that people felt alienated and alone because of their identity. Our first response to this can never be “Well, everyone was invited — it’s their own fault for not showing up.” If we take a second to actually be progressive and think about why this may be such a common problem, we can then begin to make it better.

    We have an opportunity to take a step back and start living the things we talk about. We get so very stuck in the game playing, the climbing and the “fighting for others,” that we stop understanding anything about those “others.” We need to change that.

    When a science fiction convention is more affirming, less body-shaming, more welcoming and less sneering than a conference with 3,000 plus “progressives,” we’re doing something wrong. I loved Netroots Nation in Detroit this year, but we need to do better as a community. I don’t know about you, but I want to be part of a movement where the Muppet fans, the Star Wars lovers, and yes, even that little boy belting out “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” are all encouraged to sit at the table.

Mobile Technology News, July 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.

  • Hands-on: Power Support Air Jacket for iPhone 5s, iPad Air
    Finding the right case to protect your gadgets can be an expensive hit-or-miss affair. With plastic smartphone cases typically priced at around $20-$30 and tablet cases typically priced at around $30-$40, it can be an expensive mistake if you end up with one that you aren’t happy with. Power Support is a Japanese-based company that has been making Apple accessories for the past few years. In particular, they are known for developing relatively thin and light, translucent polycarbonate cases for Apple’s iPhone and iPad range that are popular because they help to preserve the beautiful appearan



  • Cook: iPhone 5c, not 5s, was fastest-growing phone in June quarter
    One of the most surprising things analysts heard on Tuesday in Apple’s quarterly earnings conference call that was low on surprises was that year-over-year growth of the iPhone 5c is strong — so strong, in fact, that its share gain outpaced that of its previous-year rival in the mid-tier “slot” in Apple’s lineup, the iPhone 4S, at the same point in the previous cycle. In fact, Apple CEO Tim Cook told analysts that it even outpaced the growth rate of the iPhone 5s vs the iPhone 5, and the 4S versus the iPhone 4, each in their respective tiers.



  • StubHub Says It Was Victim Of Cyber Fraud Ring; Arrests To Be Announced
    By Deepa Seetharaman and Jim Finkle
    SEATTLE/BOSTON (Reuters) – eBay Inc’s StubHub online ticket resale service said it was the victim of a massive international cyber fraud ring, the details of which authorities plan to disclose on Wednesday as they announce arrests in the case.
    StubHub’s head of global communications, Glenn Lehrman, told Reuters late on Tuesday that his firm has been working with law enforcement around the world for the last year on the case.
    Lehrman said he could not say how much money was involved or how many people were being charged ahead of announcements planned by authorities in several countries on Wednesday.
    Fraudulent charges were posted after hackers obtained user credentials by hacking into other sites, then used them to log in StubHub, he said.
    “We did not have anyone who hacked into our system,” Lehrman said.
    He said the schemes involved a “pretty intense network of cyber fraudsters working in concert with each other.”
    Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance will announce details about the arrests along with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the City of London Police and the U.S. Secret Service, according to a release from Vance’s office on Tuesday.
    A spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s office declined to elaborate.

    (Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Joseph Ax in NEW YORK; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Christopher Cushing)

  • Electronic Arts earnings surge 51%
    US video game publisher Electronic Arts reports a 51% jump in profit for the April-to-June quarter, boosted by strong sales of titles like Titanfall and FIFA 2014.
  • I Tried Amazon's Fire Phone — Here's Why I Won't Buy It
    I’ve been using the Fire Phone, the long-anticipated smartphone from Amazon, for the last few days. It’s a fine phone …

    The 4.7-inch screen is significantly bigger than one on my puny iPhone 5S, and it’s been a pleasure for reading, browsing Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and making calls and texting. It has a fast processor and the camera takes decent pictures. I like the way it fits in my hand. It’s a lot like any similarly priced, newly released smartphone.

    … But I’m not going to buy it.

    Amazon reportedly spent four years working on the Fire Phone. The retail giant is releasing it on Thursday, only on the AT&T network, with a starting price of $199 with a contract, or $649 without. The high price tag surprised many when Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the phone last month in Seattle. After all, Amazon is competing on price with the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S5, premium devices from the undisputed rulers of the smartphone market. And the price is a departure from the company’s past approach to selling devices. Amazon sells its Kindle line of eReaders and tablets at cost, profiting when people buy books and other goods on Amazon.

    Like its Kindles, the point of the Fire Phone is to get you to buy stuff on Amazon.

    And it’s incredibly easy. All you have to do is push a button on the side of the device, point the phone’s camera at an object or its barcode, and — just like that — the Amazon product page appears, allowing you to buy with the tap of a finger. This feature, which Amazon calls “revolutionary,” also can recognize phone numbers, email address, songs, TV shows and movies.

    firefly
    “Firefly” recognizes products, making it very easy to buy them on Amazon.

    It’s impressive at first, and fun to show to other people, but I found that I had little practical use for it. It’s not a feature that would make me want to get the Fire Phone.

    Amazon did give me a reason NOT to buy its phone, however: The Fire Phone’s operating system.

    Don’t get me wrong — Fire OS, Amazon’s Android-based-but-not-actually-Android operating system — is incredibly easy to use. Easier, I think, than Android itself. And if you have questions about your phone — how to set up your email, how to take a screenshot, anything — you can tap the incredibly useful “Mayday” button for 24/7 help from a live tech support person.

    But since it’s not Android, you don’t have access to Android’s huge app store. That’s an issue because Amazon’s app store, although growing, is only a fraction of the size of Google’s and Apple’s.

    A lot of the big apps are there — Facebook, Instagram, Pandora and Spotify, for example. But hundreds of thousands aren’t.

    Here’s how this affected my life over the last few days. Each morning when I walk to the subway on my way to work, I like to use the WNYC app to listen to my local NPR station. But there’s no WNYC app for the Fire Phone.

    On the train, I catch up on The New York Times, but that app’s also absent from the Amazon app store.

    Snapchat, the wildly popular ephemeral messaging service, is also missing.

    Amazon said it’s “in discussions” with The Times and Snapchat, and a WNYC app is “targeted.” The company didn’t give a timeline.

    Like millions of people, I rely heavily on Google. But no Google services are available on the Fire Phone. That means Fire Phone owners can’t use the many apps Google offers, like Chrome, Gmail, Google Maps, Google Authenticator or Google Drive. Amazon says Google “is welcome to submit their apps at any time to the app store.”

    tammy duckworth

    Amazon’s maps app could not locate Col du Lautaret in the French Alps when the search was one letter off.

    Google Maps is without a doubt the best mapping application. Just think back to the outrage directed at Apple when it removed Google Maps from the iPhone two years ago. I use Google Maps, whether I’m using an iPhone or Android, and don’t want to use another mapping program. But there’s no Google Maps on Amazon’s phone.

    You’re stuck with Amazon’s own maps app, which I had a mixed experience with. It navigated successfully to the beach on Saturday, but while watching the Tour de France earlier in the day, it returned no results for a search for “Col de Lautaret,” a mountain the cyclists climbed in that stage of the race. I inadvertently misspelled it — it’s “Col du Lautaret.” But even spelled incorrectly, Google knew what I meant and showed me exactly where it is in the French Alps.

    I also found myself longing for the Gmail app instead of Amazon’s mail app. The familiar (and polarizing) “primary” “social” and “promotions” tabs don’t carry over to Amazon’s app — Amazon says this is Google’s doing — so all your email is grouped together. Even after a few days, I didn’t get used to this.

    Along with Firefly, Amazon is pushing something it’s calling “Dynamic Perspective” as a feature that differentiates Fire Phone from the competition. Dynamic Perspective uses sensors to track how you hold and move the phone. This allows some images — notably on the phone’s lock screen — to appear like they’re moving with you, or that your view is changing when you move your head or the phone. But what’s more useful is that it gives you one-handed control of the phone. When you’re texting or emailing, a twist of the wrist brings up the photo gallery, so you can easily add a photo. When you’re in the home screen, a twist one way gives you an easy view of the weather and your calendar, and a twist the other way gives you access to the app store, games, music, videos and, of course, Amazon Prime.

    Dynamic Perspective takes a bit of time to master — errant wrist flicks bring up menus at the wrong time. But it’s a nice feature.

    Amazon is asking a lot of customers who switch to the Fire Phone — learning a new phone operating system, and giving up familiar Google products and access to huge app stores. That’s a tough sell. People are fiercely loyal to their operating systems. According to a survey by 451 Research/Yankee Group, 93 percent of current iPhone owners intend to stay with Apple, and 79 percent of Android owners intend to stay with Android.

    I doubt that Firefly, Dynamic Perspective and easy shopping on Amazon is going to seriously test that loyalty.

    It’s not enough to test mine.

  • Memphis Businessman Allegedly Raped Woman On Job Interview In His Home (GRAPHIC CONTENT)
    Recently released police documents detail an alleged grotesque rape of a mother of four who wanted a housekeeping job in the home of a Memphis businessman.

    The suspect is the businessman himself, Mark Giannini, the co-founder of IT company Secvice Assurance, according to WREG . He allegedly repeatedly raped a 26-year-old for several hours until she blacked out on June 19.

    Police seized a trove of sex toys, women’s underwear, prescription drugs and firearms from the 49-year-old’s Eads, Tennessee home and a Lamborghini sports car, according to the newly released Shelby County Sheriff’s department files reported by WMC.

    (Complete copies of the report can be read here, though readers should be aware it contains a graphic description of the alleged rape.)

    The woman told sheriff’s investigators she allowed Giannini to drive her to his home for an overview of the house cleaning and office work he needed someone to do.

    Giannini allegedly served her “a drink that tastes like a pop-up.” The woman told Giannini that she wanted to leave but he began kissing her aggressively and pulling her hair.

    The crime report says Giannini performed several sexual acts on the woman against her will and forced her to consume urine, blood and fecal matter, telling her it was part the job interview, according to WBTV.

    The woman says she blacked out and doesn’t know how she got back to her room in a nearby Motel 6 where her family found her.

    Relatives brought her to a hospital where ER staff said she was frothing at the mouth and exhibiting symptoms similar to someone who had overdosed on drugs.

    An attorney for Giannini said his client is not guilty and claims he was set up, according to WNCN.

    Detectives arrived at Giannini’s gated home on June 23, but a man who answered the intercom system said the suspect was not home and he refused to allow the investigators to enter the property, according to another affidavit. The detectives forced themselves onto the grounds and found wet footprints leading into the woods from the back of the home.

    Giannini soon presented himself to officers on the street outside of his home. He was “perspiring profusely and had fresh cuts and scratches on his legs,” according to a detective’s sworn statement.

    The subsequent search turned up more than $16,000 in cash, 24 firearms and various pills of Viagra, Xanax, hydrocodone and other medications.

    Detectives also removed an inventory of items spanning several pages that includes samples of human hair, boxes and baskets of women’s panties and shoes sorted by size, a sheriff’s badge and ID , handcuffs, duct tape, sex toys and nipple clamps.

    Giannini has been charged with two counts of aggravated rape, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a firearm, according to Fox 13.

    He was released after posting $150,000 bond.

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  • Sexual Assault Witnesses At Occidental College Subjected To Vile Harassment Emails
    On June 6, a stranger from Powersite, Missouri, emailed a female witness to a sexual assault case at Occidental College in Los Angeles to complain she represented “what’s worst about America.”

    Two days earlier, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil liberties nonprofit known as FIRE that mostly focuses on free speech issues, had announced it was working with a John Doe who was suing Occidental. Doe, a pseudonym for an anonymous freshman, was expelled in December after Occidental found him responsible for sexual assault. FIRE contended in an email blast to followers that the expulsion lacked due process for the accused.

    “What kind of a radical fucking man hating dyke are you?” the angry stranger asked the witness in the email. “Please, slice your goddamn wrists, nail your pussy shut and go wait tables before you harm someone else. It’s bitches and whores like you who give women a bad name.” (The witness requested anonymity for this story an attempt to avoid further harassment.)

    The email author presumably got the witness’ name through a confidential investigator’s report that FIRE had posted online, along with its announcement supporting Doe. The report was prepared by an independent attorney hired by the college to investigate the sexual assault allegation filed against Doe by a female freshman, whose name was redacted. The woman had sex with Doe on Sept. 8, 2013, but she and witnesses contend she was too drunk to consent.

    Since FIRE’s publication of the report on June 4, at least four of nine witnesses named in the document have received harassment online. One now plans to transfer to another school.

    “How can you feel anything but terror when you read through these vile comments online that are only directed at the survivor and the women in this case?” the witness who received the Missouri email told HuffPost.

    Occidental faces intense pressure to improve how it handles sexual violence on campus.

    In the spring of 2013, a group of 37 students, alumni and faculty filed two federal complaints against Occidental for its alleged failures handling such cases. Occidental is among 68 colleges currently under investigation by the Education Department over similar concerns. Some of the women who have publicly come forward against the private California college have faced harassment in the form of scurrilous emails and social media messages — similar to what other women around the country have reported experiencing after filing their own complaints.

    But in the case highlighted by FIRE, no one initially attempted to go public. The reported victim, who was 17 at the time, never wanted to speak to the press — and still doesn’t. None of the witnesses were aware that their participation in a confidential investigation would be posted online for anyone to read, and picked up by news outlets like the Los Angeles Times and Fox News.

    Attorneys for Occidental asked FIRE in June to take down the investigator’s report, saying it was taken from the college’s “secure system” in violation of school policy.

    Complainants and respondents “are prohibited from downloading, copying, distributing or retaining those records,” Occidental spokeswoman Samantha Bonar told HuffPost. “The investigative report was one such record in this case, and the College believes that it was removed from the ‘view-only’ website in violation of College policy.”

    Aidan Dougherty, a male witness interviewed for the case, who agreed to speak on the record for this article, said disclosure of witness names sends a message. “Future witnesses might not step forward or tell the whole truth because they do not want their friends and family — let alone the world — to know that they had been drinking or smoking the night of an incident, all important pieces to a testimony,” he said. Several other witnesses either declined to comment or could not be reached for this story.

    The alleged victim reported the incident to the college and the police a week after it occurred, on Sept. 16, 2013. Local prosecutors declined to press charges, but the college launched an investigation that resulted in finding Doe responsible for sexual assault in December. Doe sued Occidental on Feb. 19, 2014.

    A series of text messages submitted to the court show both parties were aware they were engaging in sexual acts. But the questions are whether the woman was too drunk to comprehend the situation, and whether the accused assailant should have realized she was too intoxicated to consent. FIRE and the lawsuit say it’s unfair to blame Doe because both individuals were intoxicated, and allege the college was quick to punish him in an attempt to mute criticism of school amid the ongoing federal investigation.

    Occidental hadn’t done much initially to protect the confidential investigator’s report, but tried to after the FIRE’s involvement escalated publicity of the case.

    The document has since been submitted to Los Angeles Superior Court as part of the lawsuit and is accessible to anyone. Occidental’s request to seal the portions of the lawsuit was denied in June, with a judge declaring, “I don’t understand why [it] is so pressing in June when it wasn’t so pressing in February.”

    Dougherty said publishing the names of witnesses leaves Doe and the reported victim vulnerable as well.

    “FIRE may have omitted the names of the survivor and the perpetrator, but the fact that they publicized the witnesses’ names nullified everyone’s privacy,” Doughery said. “It does not take a lot to put two and two together to find out who the omitted persons are when you include the names of both their roommates, the residence hall they live in, and their room number.”

    None of the parties involved have taken responsibility for making the confidential documents public.

    “John Doe’s attorney has refused to answer the question of how they obtained a copy of the ‘view-only’ investigative report, and FIRE thus far has refused to remove it from its website,” said Bonar, the Occidental spokeswoman.

    Doe’s attorneys declined to explain to HuffPost how they got the investigator’s report. They said it was necessary to submit it to the court, where it became open record, “in order to appeal Occidental College’s administrative decision to expel the student.”

    Robert Shibley, FIRE senior vice president, declined to remove the investigator’s report from his group’s website for the same reason he supported the judge’s denial for sealing portions of the lawsuit. “The public interest lies in transparency, especially when the charge is so serious and the procedure is as flawed and unjust as it was in this case,” Shibley said in an email to HuffPost.

    “I am sorry to hear that people are allegedly being harassed for their involvement in the Occidental case,” Shibley said. “As should be obvious, FIRE is in no way responsible for such activity and neither encourages nor facilitates such activity.”

  • Fly on the Facebook wall documentary
    How to make a documentary in the social media age
  • Apple Q3 breakdown shows biggest growth in China
    In addition to its official announcement, Apple has also posted a detailed breakdown of its fiscal Q3 results. “Greater China” — including Taiwan and Hong Kong — continued to lead the charge regionally, with its revenue increasing 28 percent year-over-year to $5.935 billion. Europe and Asia-Pacific each advanced 6 percent, to $8.091 billion and $2.161 billion, respectively. Apple’s most important market, the Americas, rose 1 percent to $14.577 billion. Global retail numbers were up 1 percent to $4.104 billion.



  • Microsoft profit falls on Nokia loss
    Technology giant Microsoft reports a 7% fall in profits to $4.6bn in the second quarter, hit by a $692m loss at its newly-acquired Nokia handset division.
  • The 'Seinfeld' Emoji Are Here, And They're Spectacular
    No wait for you! The “Seinfeld” emoji have arrived!

    Earlier this month, it was announced that the guys behind the Seinfeld2000 Twitter and Instagram accounts developed a new set of emoji inspired by the show, and now they’re here and available for a free download on iTunes. Giddy up!

    Technically these aren’t traditional emoji since they’re currently available through an app rather than your iPhone’s keyboard; however, you can still write out the message you want, save it and then post to social media or text, according to Death and Taxes.

    Android support will reportedly be added if demand is high enough.

    Check out some of the emoji in the slideshow below, and yada yada yada, visit iTunes to download the app.

  • Apple reaps $37.43 billion in third-quarter revenues
    Apple revenues rose 6 percent year-over-year to $37.43 billion in its third fiscal quarter, which ended in June, the company has announced. Profits were up 12.3 percent to $7.75 billion, while earnings per share climbed from $1.07 to $1.28 when adjusted for the recent 7-to-1 stock split. Gross margin increased from 36.9 percent to 39.4 percent.



  • Dropping the Needle: Disruptive Innovation and Higher Education
    More than 30 years ago I would huddle with other music majors at our college’s music library, the cords from our headphones stretching over each other’s record players as we tried to cram a semester of classical music listening into a few hours at the end of the term. We know our professor would randomly “drop the needle” on records during our final exam, challenging us to identify a composition and its composer by its structure, instrumentation, motifs and harmony. The music library of our generation was a room with 12-inch records, record players, and headphones.

    There was some great bonding that came from roaming the small library, stretching our headphone cords all the while, comparing notes on our strategies to recognize open fifths, plagal cadences, Mozart’s use of the clarinet, or Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” chord. In the end, one learned to recognize the compositional attributes that made a piece a chanson, a sonata, a recitative, through-composed, atonal, and so on. You were trying to make sense of an aural landscape having been dropped in the middle of it. It was very exciting, stressful, and chaotic.

    In much the same way I am trying to make sense of our era during a sabbatical from my day-to-day responsibilities at Marymount California University. I had committed early on to trying to get up-to-date on literature regarding wellness, resilience and disruptive innovation. I started this week with a pile of New Yorker magazines, trying to ease myself back with a predictably high-quality publication that offers the occasional cartoon chuckle. I got lucky because, over the course of a couple of issues, I got a sense of how the American higher education sector feels about disruptive innovation.

    Disruption theory comes from the business literature, but it has been co-opted by other sectors as it provides a framing device that helps us make sense of the fast-paced 21st century. Harvard professor Jill Lepore’s article, “The Disruption Machine,” along with the letters to the editor that followed, goes after the theory put forward by her Harvard colleague, Clayton M. Christensen. While some subscribe to the theory as a way to identify successful companies, Lepore plays the contrarian, sharing that theory is really about how things go wrong: “Disruption is a theory of change founded on panic, anxiety, and shaky evidence… a competitive strategy for an age seized by terror.”

    Lepore takes the reader through the ages (enlightenment, reason, industrial, evolution, technology) to support an argument that we see our current age as an era “founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse… and an apocalyptic fear of global devastation.” Lepore portrays the disruption ethic as applied in modern business as: “Forget rules, obligations, your conscience, loyalty, a sense of the commonweal. Don’t look back. Never pause. Disrupt or be disrupted… the time has come to panic as you’ve never panicked before.”

    Many academics weighed in on Lepore’s article over the last month. The University of Maryland’s David B. Siclia challenged disruption theory when citing Alfred D. Chandler’s research that found successful companies evolved a great deal, but “without self-cannibalizing their hard-won know-how for the sake of change.” UT Arlington’s Kathryn Hamilton Warren wondered why “the idea that something that works must be changed for change’s sake — and that change in and of itself is seen as progress — is an economic driver.” There are a good number of points of view about the Lepore vs. Christensen debate to be found online if you are interested.

    Why is it important for us to contemplate this debate? Disruption theory is now so pervasive that it presents itself to our students in the classroom and when they enter their professions. University presidents and newspaper editors are being dislodged from their appointments for “failing to be disruptively innovative,” as Lepore puts it. Politicians and influential thought leaders have predetermined that the same technologies that provided us with the “Angry Birds” app will revolutionize higher education. University graduates have ambitions of becoming entrepreneurs who will disrupt their chosen industry, create great value in a new company, and then sell it.

    Disruption theory correctly observes that many businesses ultimately fail because they are not organized in a manner that easily allows for adaptation to rapidly changing environments. Quite simply, the ones that succeed do so when they provide products or services that society desires to buy or support. Successful organizations are always developing new products or services, relying on the law of averages to play out. Some things will succeed and some will fail, but organizations need to resource the development of new initiatives knowing that not all will fly.

    In other words, organizations resource failure. In an “on demand” culture, it is quite understandable that most feel that “failure is not an option,” but that runs counter to everything we know about human learning and development, and, of course, university research. Finding information or data no longer challenges young professionals, but are they equipped to discern what is significant in the seemingly endless supply of information pouring out of the Internet fire hydrant?

    In recent years American higher education has absorbed national conversations about MOOC’s, Title IX, for-profit colleges, accountability, and unacceptable graduation rates. Our society is conflicted about economic stratification, immigration, wars in the Middle East, and global warming. All of this is happening while universities are trying to preserve what they have done really well for nearly for a thousand years: putting students in classrooms with faculty who can inspire them about what it means to be human. Environments where character formation is at the heart of the enterprise.

    Higher education’s entire value proposition is seriously being reconsidered by modern society, often because it is not considered innovative enough. Picture the stress of the modern world relentlessly pressing in against the four walls of university classrooms, beckoning students to forego the undergraduate degree with the siren songs of venture capitalism, creating value, making one’s “nut” by the age of 30, etc.

    Is this an era of disruption? There can be little doubt that the constant barrage of infotainment influences how we perceive personal and societal circumstances. Do we have time to reflect on what we are learning from our families, our colleagues, our students and our research?

    For some unknown reason I took breaks from my work today to learn that there are Internet followers who believe Steven Spielberg has killed dinosaurs; that snorting ground-up rhinoceros horn was trendy in Vietnam; and that the walnuts I had ordered from Amazon were on the delivery vehicle making their way to my mailbox.

    Did I need to know any of this? Is this what “dropping the needle” is now for me? What is different from the records that our faculty assembled in that old music library and the infotainment that technological innovation is delivering to me all the time? Is this what disruption feels like?

  • Apple earnings up on iPhone sales
    Apple reports quarterly profits of $7.75bn up 12%, helped by strong sales of its iPhone.
  • FLIR One thermal imaging iPhone case preorders commence July 23
    Thermal imaging company FLIR will launch pre-orders for its infrared camera-containing case on July 23 at AM. Once mounted, the case for the iPhone 5 and 5s displays a live thermal image of the world right on the phone’s screen, giving users the ability to “see” in an array of conditions, including complete darkness.



  • Gravity Explained, In One Simple Video
    Albert Einstein once described gravity as the warping of space and time in his theory of general relativity. But what exactly does that mean?

    YouTube personality Edward Current attempts to simplify this theory in a new YouTube video, using a so-called “Spacetime Stretcher,” built mostly out of materials from his garage and the hardware store. Check out the video above.

    “As a falling object’s path goes increasingly in the space (down) direction, it goes a little bit less in the time direction,” Current wrote in the video’s YouTube description. “Gravity is effectively converting some of its travel through time into travel through space.”

    Got that? On different social media websites, science enthusiasts have been praising the video for demystifying an otherwise mind-boggling concept.

    “The best explanation of gravity I have seen,” YouTube user Tjaart Blignaut wrote in a comment.

    Still, gravity remains one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. Even though scientists can explain how it behaves, they are still trying to pinpoint what causes gravity and how it really works.

  • How The EU's 'Right To Be Forgotten' Rule Is Backfiring Completely
    When the European Union’s so called “right to be forgotten” policy was instituted in May, news outlets worried that the ruling could have a negative impact on the media. But according to journalism.co.uk, some publishers are finding the opposite.

    The policy, which mandated that Google would have to delete links to articles if a person involved in the story asked it to, was instated to give people more control over the information that can be found about them online. It was celebrated as a big win for privacy rights, particularly by those who want stories about their past arrests or wrongdoings gone from the web for good.

    Some outlets, like the Oxford Mail, expressed concerns that the ruling might be “misused” by criminals and public figures like celebrities and politicians who “want to hide embarrassing stuff.” What actually happened was a little different.

    The Mail saw the link to its story about a man caught shoplifting removed from Google in July. In response, the website wrote about what happened, republished information about the shoplifter, and attracted tens of thousands of new, curious readers.

    “Whoever has asked Google to remove this story, it’s not worked,” assistant editor Jason Collie said. “It’s brought it to a much wider audience.”

    According to Collie, the story brought in only 28 views at the time of its original publication. But since re-reporting the story, it has been read more than 13,000 times.

    The Oxford Mail is one of many outlets in the UK to begin using this tactic, journalism.co.uk said. The method is to write a new story, “repeat the link,” and put the deleted information back into Google. In other words, publishers are using the EU’s attempt to hide a story to bring even more traffic to that story than the original may have ever gotten on its own.

  • Apple Sold 35.2 Million iPhones In Just 3 Months

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple’s growth prospects are looking brighter as anticipation builds for the upcoming release of the next iPhone, a model that is expected to cater to consumers yearning for a bigger screen.

    The latest evidence of Apple’s mounting momentum emerged Tuesday with the release of the company’s fiscal third-quarter report.

    Earnings rose at the highest rate in nearly two years as Apple Inc. sold 35.2 million iPhones during the period. The iPhone shipments climbed 13 percent increase from the same time last year, even though many people are believed to be holding off on new device purchases until the next version comes out this fall.

    “From an execution perspective, we did a really great job,” Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said in an interview with the Associated Press. “We have some things in the pipeline that we think people will really be excited about.”

    Apple earned $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per share, for the three months ending June 28. That represented a 12 percent increase from income of $6.9 billion, or $1.07 per share, at the same time last year. It’s the first time that Apple’s earnings have increased by more than 10 percent since the quarter that included the September 2012 release of the iPhone 5 — the last time that the company boosted the device’s screen size.

    The earnings per share for the latest quarter exceeded the average estimate of $1.23 per share among analysts surveyed by FactSet.

    Revenue rose 6 percent from last year to $37.4 billion — about $600 million below analysts’ forecasts.

    If media reports based on leaks from Apple suppliers prove accurate, the iPhone 6 will boast a screen of at least 4.7 inches compared to the current 4-inch display. Some analysts also speculate Apple will simultaneously unveil an iPhone with a 5.5-inch screen.

    An iPhone with a larger screen probably would unleash a flood of sales among Apple fans interested in a smartphone that would make it easier to read and see other features. A bigger-screen iPhone might also tempt consumers already accustomed to the larger screens on a variety of smartphones running on Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

    Apple is also widely believed to be gearing up to release a smartwatch, a move that would mark the first time the company has entered a new device market since Tim Cook replaced Steve Jobs as CEO nearly three years ago. Jobs died in October 2011 after a long battle with cancer.

    The chances of Apple unveiling a high-tech watch as a complement to the iPhone looked even more likely Tuesday when Apple was granted a U.S. patent for a touch-screen device designed to be worn on wrists. Sketches attached to the filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office indicated that Apple intends to call the device, “iTime.”

    Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet declined to comment on the filing or patent approval.

    The iPhone’s third-quarter sales growth was strongest in Brazil, India, Russia and China, where device sales increased 55 percent from last year. The gains are testament to the ongoing allure of Apple’s marquee product seven years after the first iPhone came out.

    Apple’s trend-setting tablet computer, the iPad, seems to be losing some of its appeal amid a bevy of less expensive alternatives. The Cupertino, California, company shipped 13.3 million iPads in the latest quarter, a 9 percent drop from the same time last year. It marks the second straight quarter that the iPad’s sales have fallen from the previous year.

    Meanwhile, Apple’s sales of Mac computers increased 18 percent from last year.

    Apple is counting on a partnership forged with IBM Corp. last week to help boost iPad sales to corporate customers and government agencies.

    Some analysts believe a larger-screen iPhone could also undercut iPad sales in future quarters, but Cook didn’t sound worried in a Tuesday conference call with analysts.

    “We still think there is significant innovation that can be brought to the iPad and we plan on doing that,” Cook said.

    Investors have been flocking back to Apple after an extended stretch of disillusionment. Just 15 months ago, Apple’s stock had plunged by 45 percent from its peak reached in September 2012 amid concerns about tougher competition and the company’s ability to innovate without Jobs.

    Propelled by high hopes for the next iPhone and the potential release of a smartwatch, Apple’s stock has surged 18 percent this year. After closing at $94.72 Tuesday, the stock is just $6.01, or about 6 percent, away from setting a new high. The shares shed 62 cents to $94.15 in Tuesday’s extended trading.

  • Net Neutrality's Brain Drain and Distraction
    As a national community, we debate and think often about the impact of the Internet on our lives. The issues that emerge in those conversations are tied to real needs – for affordable connectivity, access to laptops and mobile tech for learning and business, as examples. Latino tech leaders talk about the stories of Dreamers organizing on social media via mobile devices, and how they kept up with el Mundial at work, by checking Facebook from their phones.

    Net neutrality doesn’t even come up in conversation. Yet the outcome of the seemingly never ending debate over net neutrality or the “Open Internet” does have an important effect: it distracts us from the real issues facing the Internet and those depending on it.

    Latinos and their leaders understand the real issues facing the Internet. They want an ever faster Internet with even more video, more bandwidth, and next-generation technology. From a policy perspective, the community wants more school connectivity and a national focus on digital skills so that all students learn 21st century creation and coding skills alongside math and history. We know this is key to better prepare young people to participate in the digital revolution that has helped create multi-billion dollar businesses like Uber, Whatsapp and Airbnb – all of which represent the future of the economy, yet lack significant Latino participation.

    Our full and focused attention on bridging those gaps, stimulating and spreading the digital economy to everyone, and realizing universal broadband adoption must be our community focus. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), and 42 national minority serving organizations so rightly highlight this point in their filed comments in the FCC net neutrality proceeding.

    The open Internet is critical to maintaining a flourishing broadband innovation environment, as broadband technology and digital skills are the tools for small business, communication and virtually all key activities. A recent survey by Mobile Future finds that 83 percent of Latino small business owners surveyed experience productivity gains and 62 percent credited business growth from integrating mobile tools into their business.

    Maintaining an open Internet basically means having an Internet ecosystem where providers of all kinds of legal content have open and non-discriminatory access to the nation’s privately owned broadband networks. Clearly, it is vital to ensure the continued benefits of broadband innovation and participation online. It should be equally clear, though, that we already have an open Internet. And current laws give the FCC adequate power to deal with violators of net neutrality should that become necessary, without turning to an outdated regulatory scheme that would treat the Internet like the telephone. This is what activists are proposing when they support reclassification of the Internet under Title II of the Telecom Act. No community would benefit from this dramatic change in treatment of the Internet.

    We can maintain a balanced approach that supports future investment and innovation in the broadband infrastructure, while also reestablishing robust protections for the open Internet. A June essay by Georgetown business professor and telecom policy expert John W. Mayo warns that a decade of debate over economic regulation of the Internet is creating the false impression that America is limited to two stark and unattractive choices. One, a laissez faire free-for-all market where government is little more than a spectator. And two, a market regulated like a telephone utility under Title II of the Communications Act, an environment where speed and innovation would become an endangered species.

    As Mayo points out, Section 706 of the same Communications Act provides for “a congruence between legal authority and sound economic policymaking.” Section 706 focuses the FCC’s authority on preserving and expanding output in the telecom industry while giving the public maximum access to advanced telecom services. It gives the FCC flexible authority to deal with any future anti-competitive behavior, because that behavior would discourage growth.

    With the Section 706 arrow in the FCC’s quiver, there is no need to choose between what Mayo calls “the pitfalls of either a completely unregulated Internet or last century’s public utility regulation model.”

    But still, the fight over net neutrality continues to draw undue attention and drain our national energy.

    Last month, I participated in this Google hangout on net neutrality hosted by Elianne Ramos and featuring FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Arturo Vargas from presente.org, during which I argued again that the battle over net neutrality is diverting precious energy from the real issues – the pressing needs – facing Latinos in the 21st century digital economy. While a small group of “consumer advocates” threaten that the Internet would be destroyed unless we enact anything but the strictest, most outdated regulations, the real issues falter from the spotlight. Regulations created eight decades ago for the old telephone system look nothing like the policies that have governed the Internet since its beginning and resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment leading to technologies we take for granted – names like FiOS and XFINITY, Google Fiber and 4G LTE. Those groups would like to see the modern Internet treated like your abuela’s old rotary telephone from a legal standpoint.

    There is a clear disconnect.

    Of course, Latinos value the open Internet, and want the web to remain as open a platform as it has always been. But net neutrality is a debate hijacked by fear-driven hypotheticals, and not much more. Since the 2010 net neutrality rules were adopted, the investment in the United States’ communications infrastructure continues to increase, while Title II like regulations in the European Union continue to hinder investment. The plan put forth by FCC Chairman Wheeler would seek to accomplish what the 2010 rules did while reestablishing rules of the road that guarantee access to all legal content without degradation (or slowing), and put in place rules that guarantee transparency for the ISPs. It’s the kind of middle-ground plan that protects an open Internet without unnecessarily imposing strict regulatory oversight over the broadband ecosystem. Extreme, public utility-style regulation would reverse progress on Internet expansion and adoption nationwide and would fail to make the Internet faster, more affordable and more accessible.

    Perhaps most importantly, the Chairman’s plan, and the ideas supported by MMTC and a national community of leaders is one that would put this debate behind us, so that we can focus on the real issues of today, and the policies that will deliver the Internet of tomorrow.

    The FCC’s Open Internet docket is open for your replies through the fall. It still craves input from all communities, calling for openness, innovation, and investment. It takes all three of these things, plus an active, inclusive entrepreneurial culture to deliver the Internet of tomorrow. You can email a reply comment about what you want for the Internet to the FCC at openinternet@fcc.gov.

    Jason Llorenz, JD is a scholar at Rutgers University School of Communication and Information, where he teaches courses in technology policy and social media. His research focuses on universal digital inclusion in the digital economy. Twitter: @llorenzesq

Mobile Technology News, July 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.

  • China's Huawei sees sales jump 19%
    Chinese telecom equipment and smartphone maker Huawei reports a 19% jump in sales to 135.8bn yuan ($21.9bn; £12.8bn) for the first six months of the year.
  • In Comcast/Time Warner Merger, Public Interest Is Paramount
    New York State’s Public Service Commission (PSC) is currently reviewing Comcast’s plan to purchase Time Warner Cable for over $45 billion, a merger which would link the nation’s two largest cable companies. This merger has the potential to affect millions of New Yorkers who rely on Time Warner Cable for TV, phone, and internet access at home and at their place of business. As a result, it is critical that state and federal regulators review the proposal to determine whether it is truly in the best interests of consumers.

    On Monday, I submitted testimony to the PSC, urging it to do just that. For Comcast, this is an opportunity to do the right thing by introducing itself to the New York market as a company that values equitable access and understands that its product–the fourth utility of the modern age–must be available to all New Yorkers. If Comcast fails to provide a detailed, practical plan to both address the ongoing digital divide in New York City and ensure its long-term commitment to net neutrality, the PSC should reject the merger.

    As Gotham’s residents know all too well, our city is stuck in an internet stone age. According to a study by the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, New Yorkers not only endure slower internet service than similar cities in other parts of the world, but we also pay higher prices for that substandard service.

    Today, nearly 3 million New York City residents lack internet access at home and many entrepreneurs who hoped to launch businesses in former industrial districts within the five boroughs have had to abandon (PDF) those plans after discovering high-speed internet connections were not available.

    While there is a significant digital divide in New York on socioeconomic lines, the truth is that no neighborhood is immune from poor internet. As a report (PDF) I issued last year found, from Tribeca to Tompkinsville, the Upper East Side to East Flatbush, the South Bronx to Sheepshead Bay, communities across the city and throughout the state are affected by poor broadband.

    To date, Comcast’s effort to close the digital divide have focused on its “Internet Essentials” program, which provides internet access to low-income Americans for $10 a month. However, the program’s limited eligibility has kept connectivity beyond the reach of millions of Americans. For instance, the program is not offered to childless couples or low-income individuals.

    A recent analysis of customers in Time Warner Cable’s service area found that of the 4.6 million households that earn less than the amount that would qualify them for the federal government’s free and reduced-price lunch program, only 1.7 million would qualify for Internet Essentials.

    The PSC should press Comcast to significantly expand the reach of Internet Essentials and to provide a concrete outreach plan to communities that have low rates of internet use.

    Comcast not only has a duty to work to close the digital divide, but also must ensure that the internet remains a place where all people can engage in robust discussion on an equal footing and where the power of ideas, rather than the size of one’s pocketbook, guides the marketplace. That’s why the PSC must carefully examine Comcast’s commitment to net neutrality.

    In recent months, Comcast has squeezed additional payment out of content providers, such as Netflix, in exchange for preferential access to its network.

    This type of arrangement is concerning, because if fiber-optic networks are up for sale to the highest bidder, it both threatens to undermine the entrepreneurial energy of the internet and could also lead to higher prices for consumers to access content. Simply put: a merger without a commitment to the principles of net neutrality is not in the public interest.

    Under a new law signed by Governor Cuomo in April, cable companies must affirmatively demonstrate that mergers are in the public interest in order to secure approval.

    As a result, the PSC has a duty to hold Comcast’s feet to the fire and ensure that its proposed merger with Time Warner will not only protect consumers, but will contribute to an internet infrastructure that can support a 21st century economy in all five boroughs.

  • Rewriting the Innovation Code for Latinas in Technology
    In preparation for the upcoming Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit this October, at Google’s campus in Silicon Valley, I have been on a quest to identify Latinas around the country who are innovating in technology and across STEM fields.

    I admit I stepped into this search with some trepidation – informed by reports and articles that continuously characterize Latinas as avid consumers and early adapters of technology, but significantly less engaged in the creation of new technology tools, in tech entrepreneurship or innovation.

    But, as I delved deep into my social media networks, inquiring for names of Latinas who were innovating in technology, I began to see the new faces of innovation. Online research also revealed these new faces – as I pieced together “Top Latinas in STEM or Technology” lists, articles and interviews from online magazines, news digital platforms and blogs. Not surprisingly, I also found many of these women actively engaged on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ communities.

    THE REVEAL: OBSERVATIONS AND INSIGHTS

    My talent scout for Latinas in technology revealed some interesting observations and insights, three of which I outline below, followed by some recommendations to be considered.

    Latinas are Not Just Consumers of Technology,
    They are also Technology Innovators

    Undeniably, Latinas over index non-Hispanics in the consumption of digital and mobile technology (Nielsen’s report presents robust data on this). But, it is important to recognize that Latinas are, indeed, contributing to and creating new technology tools across college campuses, at work and online. Furthermore, they are leveraging technology to grow their businesses, advance their careers, and create social impact in their communities. To illustrate this point, I highlight three women I recently came across – they will all be speaking at the upcoming Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit.

    • Meet Lisa Morales-Hellebo, the co-founder of the New York Fashion Tech Lab, an accelerator that she launched with Springboard Enterprises and the Partnership Fund for NYC. Her previous fashion tech startup, Shopsy, leveraged patent pending, smart data, remix technology to allow women to shop online the way they shop offline. Lisa is an alumna of both Springboard Enterprises and TechStars, and currently serves on the Board of Advisors for SNOBSWAP and Voysee.
    • Meet Zoraida Velasco, the Co-Founder of Dinnergy, an app created to introduce carbon budgeting principles into real world solutions, to bring awareness and foster real action towards energy reduction. The Dinnergy team will be launching the mobile application through a pilot program in partnership with Tufts University Dining Services. The program will focus on reducing emissions across the entire supply chain, providing energy and emissions data to dinning services and students across the campus.
    • Meet Judy Tomlinson, the CEO of FashionTEQ, a fashion-forward, wearable technology company, which combines high-tech with high fashion in conjunction with smartphone technology. Judy is also the Founder of CCO for AvocSoft, a company focusing on the development of mobile applications featuring simple user interfaces and powerful functionality. AvocSoft has launched a variety of successful applications, some of which have been ranked #1 in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

    There many more Latinas in technology like Lisa, Zoraida and Judy. And, there are a greater number of aspiring and emerging women who are innovating in isolation, detached from the resources, networks and ecosystems necessary to advance their technologies.

    Current Accelerator Models Are Not a Good Fit

    It is no secret that the high-tech world is ideally suited for white, privileged males (often young and single). Consider the traditional models of accelerators – these are highly selective infrastructures especially designed to help launch and scale new startups. These programs connect tech entrepreneurs to mentorship, advice, practical training, resources, influential networks and investors.

    There is a plethora of barriers obstructing women and, especially Latinas, from gaining access to top accelerators like the Y Combinator and TechStar. First, getting into these programs is fiercely competitive, with admissions rates as low as two percent. Second, female founders are a hugely underrepresented minority. In 2011, only four percent of Y Combinator companies had a female founder, increasing to 10 percent in 2013 – an all-time high. We can safely assume that the stats on Latina founders within these accelerators are staggeringly lower. This is precisely why Manos Accelerator, an organization that exclusively focuses on Latin American tech entrepreneurs, matters. Manos’ inaugural class had seven startups – five of them with Latina co-founders.

    Yet, even with increased access to these programs, Latinas (and many women, in general) are faced with another limiting barrier: the 12-week commitment to leave their homes (often travel out of state) to immerse themselves in a highly intensive, long hours program. For Latinas, who place a salient value on family, the 12-week commitment is often a deal breaker.

    Embracing the “Tech Startup” Label Matters

    Consider Airbnb, an online platform that helps connect people who have space to rent with those who are looking for a place to stay. It was recently featured as a tech startup in Fortune Magazine. There are other similar examples of online ventures labeled “tech companies,” including Huffington Post, Care.com and AngiesList.com. Which brings me to Latina bloggers and digital media publishers.

    For years, thousands of Latina bloggers and online publishers have been making their mark on the blogosphere, publishing relevant and informative content across all life-style areas. For a significant number of Latina bloggers, these online platforms are a business – they connect brands to targeted audiences, write product reviews, promote brand campaigns, write advertorials, and monetize incoming traffic with a range of ads and affiliate programs.

    Yet, their business models have remained constrained within the blogging practice when, in fact, a large percent of Latina bloggers are tech entrepreneurs. Clara Gonzales is a good example. She is the Founder of DominicanCooking.com, a hugely popular online collection of traditional Dominican recipes. Since 2001, Clara, an Industrial Designer by profession, has monetized her platform using smart business models and scaling up to reach millions of people. She is, indeed, a tech entrepreneur running a tech company.

    Do the tech startup and tech entrepreneur labels matters? Absolutely. Identifying Latina bloggers (who monetize their platforms) as tech entrepreneurs allows them to be included in a new conversation, and opens up new opportunities for business growth, support and funding.

    RECOMMENDATIONS

    How do we begin to address and close the innovation divide, as it pertains to Latinas in this country? This is an important conversation, and one that includes a policy-driven top-bottom approach, in combination with a grassroots bottom-up approach. Below, are three recommendations as starting points.

    Local/Regional Latina-Focused Tech Networking Events Are Needed

    Face-to-face connections with other like-minded Latinas and tech influencers can have a profound impact on the retention of Latinas’ enthusiasm and aspirations as tech entrepreneurs. Creating networking spaces and networking opportunities fosters role modeling, collaboration, guidance and exchange of ideas/resources. The upcoming Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit aims to achieve these goals.

    Bring the Incubator/Accelerator to Her

    Given Latinas’ high digital connectivity, virtual incubators/accelerators are an ideal model for reaching Latinas who do not have luxury of participating in traditional program models, where in-person attendance is required. While virtual accelerator programs are beginning to emerge, none are exclusively focused on the specific needs of Latina tech entrepreneurs.

    One Size Accelerators Do Not Fit All

    The level of expertise, experience and resources among Latina tech entrepreneurs is wide ranged. Programs designed to help advance their startups need to be flexible and accommodating, without sacrificing quality of training and mentorship. Besides flexibility in program structure, flexibility in time to achieving milestones is key. Programs need to meet Latina founders where they are at – in their startup journey. While some women might need 12-weeks to complete the program, others might need much more than that. Flexible incubators will offer Latina tech entrepreneurs more control over their startup experience, and a greater sense of self-efficacy, as they are able to better manage both their personal and professional commitments.

    College Campuses as Pre-Incubators for Aspiring Latina Innovators

    An increasing number of colleges are offering coding courses, computer science majors, entrepreneurship programs and access to innovation labs. Connections to mentors, resources and even seed funding might also be available through colleges, making these educational environments ideal tech ecosystems and incubators for aspiring Latinas innovators. Creating these opportunities at Hispanic-serving institutions, in particular, will help level the playing field for aspiring and emerging Latinas in tech.

    REWRITING THE INNOVATION CODE FOR LATINAS IN TECH

    Efforts to significantly advance Latinas in technology will require the identification and implementation of disruptive models to meet their needs and circumstances. The tech space needs an innovation makeover, with women – and Latinas of all walks of life – in mind. Most importantly, the technology industry needs to recognize that an industry without women representation is an industry in crisis.

    Our country’s global economic power and influence greatly depends on our innovation competitiveness. Investing in the innovation of the fastest growing female population might yield the best return-on-investment in this country’s recent history.

    Join us at the Latinas Think Big Innovation Summit, to continue this conversation.

  • VIDEO: Is this the future of urban travel?
    Futuristic city transport offers hands-free steering
  • Social media 'aid doctor complaints'
    A rise in complaints against doctors reflects the role of social media and negative press coverage of the medical profession, according to a report.
  • Slovakia's successful app entrepreneur
    ‘I wanted to make products for people’
  • Wall Street Journal's Facebook Page Hacked
    The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook page was hacked by an unknown source Sunday morning.

    The hacker made false claims that a U.S. Air Force One crash had occurred. The post came on the heels of the Malaysian Airlines plane that was shot down on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board.

    A second hacked post said that Vice President Joe Biden was set to address the nation regarding the crash.

    Looks like The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook page got hacked. pic.twitter.com/elCUBVOzKF

    — Erica Peterson (@erica_RPC) July 20, 2014

    The Wall Street Journal eventually deleted the posts and informed its readers that it had been “compromised.”

    The hacking was reminiscent of a similar incident in April 2013, when the Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked by the Syrian Electronic Army. The tweet claimed that President Obama was injured after two explosions hit the White House. This past December, the Washington Post was also hacked, compromising employee usernames, passwords and other personal information.

    (h/t: Mashable)

  • 5 Livestreams from the Hackers on Planet Earth Conference You Can Watch Now
    Here’s today’s essential livesetream for anybody really interested in governmental and corporate, well, dominance, of our private lives, the use of technology to fight for human rights here and overseas, or net neutrality — which to be certain, isn’t merely about traffic speeds, it’s about the idea that like humans, “All bytes are created equal” and when a company can shut down a site for donating to Wikileaks but you can still donate to the KKK via, say, PayPal (whatever your view of either), Net Neutrality is irrefutably already DEAD. Here’s a link to the live-stream to the HOPE — Hackers On Planet Earth conference’s final day, happening now, in New York City. Here’s to a Sunday well-spent, binge-streaming.

    To watch the live feed which can be switched from three rooms: The Manning Room, The Serpico Room and The Oslen Room click HERE The Manning room is the default room; when you arrive there, you can click on the options above the video window to go to another panel.

    Here’s a select listing from today’s twenty-five panels which might be of interest and can all be streamed live:

    Teaching Electronic Privacy and Civil Liberties to Government 12PM

    A look at the differences and commonalities twixt privacy rights advocates and well-meaning government employees who want to do their jobs faithfully whilst respecting the rights of their fellow citizens, to ensure that, as the program guide notes “privacy and civil liberties are as important to democracy as is security”

    The Science of Surveillance, 1PM

    A data-based examination of the limits placed on The NSA, measured against actual practices, measured against constitutional parameters.

    Travel Hacking with The Telecom Informer 2PM

    Starting from the premise that “If you think like a hacker, travel doesn’t have to be expensive” this panel promises to teach you how to score “tickets for an around-the-world trip for under $219, and how you can also travel for little or nothing.”

    North Korea – Using Social Engineering and Concealed Electronic Devices to Gather Information in the World’s Most Restrictive Nation 4PM

    The title is self-explanatory

    Self-Publishing Success 4PM

    Again the title is self-explantory; many of us have become jaded about self-publishing and this panel expaining how to use existing platforms for fun and profit may give you some new ideas, and restore your faith in that book you’ve been meaning to write.

    The schedule for today’s panels, all of which can be live-streamed, can be found HERE

  • New App eEcosphere Aims To Change How We Share Sustainability Ideas
    There are many websites, phone apps, and books telling us how to “be green,” “save energy” or “reduce your carbon footprint.” There are dozens of labels claiming a product is ecofriendly or carbon neutral. But just having that information doesn’t mean that we will use it. Which sources can we trust? Why should we be motivated to do what they say? These questions continue to plague those in the advocacy community and those who just want to help others live a more sustainable lifestyle.

    Andrew Krause, co-founder of eEcosphere, hopes the app can help address these problems. It offers sharable, easy advice on how to make your life more sustainable.

    “Our vision is to help people, specifically millennials, connect with actionable ideas in their network so they can work together, near each other or from afar, on the causes that matter to them,” Krause told The Huffington Post. He says he knows they cannot compete with general social networks like Facebook and Twitter, so they hope to use them as a tool to spread sustainable ideas.

    When it comes down to it, Krause says, trust is more important than information in decision making. On top of this, the main source of behavior change is social comparison — “people like to be similar to others,” he says. That’s why sharing and seeing what others are doing makes up a big part of eEcosphere. The app will allow users to cooperate on different sustainability goals that are straightforward and specific, for example suggesting that you “bring a takeout container to a restaurant” instead of just “reduce food waste.”

    eEcosphere’s developers hope to use collaboration and planning to make you and your friends more sustainability-minded. The app allows you to complete “challenges” to figure out how to green a certain area of your life and add these ideas to your “plan.” It also allows any user to post ideas for being more sustainable. User’s suggestions range from the familiar – “hang your clothes to dry” – to the more out there “stop washing your jeans.”

    Story continues below.
    eecosphere

    The app also features ideas from businesses with sustainable ideas – for example, a challenge by Justin’s, an all-natural nut butter company, helped users figure out how to make their homes more bee-friendly to help protect vital bee populations.

    Once you complete an idea, you post a picture of it. When you complete “the eat less meat” idea, for example, post a picture of the water-saving, emissions-reducing vegetarian dinner you made. This then shows up as a completed idea on your plan. You can see what your friends and others are completing and share on Facebook and Twitter. The app’s developers hope that because sharing is easy and because photos add transparency and accountability, they will be able to create a network of sharing personal, actionable ideas.

    The app has been released for iOS and you can download it here. Krause says they hope to build the app and its community “around the lifestyle that people want using sustainability as a lens, not a destination.”

  • Rand Paul Mocks Obamas For Wanting Daughters To Have Minimum Wage Jobs
    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) questioned President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for wanting their children to have minimum wage jobs, telling a crowd of Silicon Valley Republicans that he has “opposite” hopes for his own sons.

    Speaking at San Francisco’s Reboot conference Saturday, Paul criticized the Obamas for wanting their teenage daughters, Malia and Sasha, to experience minimum wage work.

    “The minimum wage is a temporary [thing],” Paul said, according to Politico. “It’s a chance to get started. I see my son come home with his tips. And he’s got cash in his hand and he’s proud of himself. I don’t want him to stop there. But he’s working and he’s understanding the value of work. We shouldn’t disparage that.”

    Paul’s remarks came in response to an interview the Obamas gave to Parade Magazine in June, during which the president and first lady described their own experiences with minimum wage work.

    “I think every kid needs to get a taste of what it’s like to do that real hard work,” Michelle Obama said when asked if she wants her daughters to get similar work experience.

    “We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair,” the president added. “But that’s what most folks go through every single day.”

    Paul, who has been a somewhat frequent visitor to Silicon Valley in recent months, also knocked the president as unfriendly to the tech industry and questioned the logic of Bay Area residents voting Democratic.

    “I come out here and people say, ‘We loved President Obama, you know. We’re all for President Obama. We’re from the tech community,’” Paul said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Why? Why would you be? He’s not for innovation. He’s not for freedom. He’s for the protectionism crowd. You know he’s for the crowd that would limit the activities of these companies.”

    He also urged tech executives to take a stand against the National Security Agency’s controversial surveillance tactics, pressing Silicon Valley leaders to “pledge that they will fight tooth and nail against the government” in favor of civil liberties.

    “If someday the public thinks that Gmail equals government mail, and you’re not being protected, the backlash will not only be against government – it will be against private entities,” Paul warned, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mobile Technology News, July 20, 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.

  • VIDEO: Can a robot write sacred scriptures?
    An exhibition at the Jewish museum in Berlin is showcasing a robot which has been programmed to write the sacred Jewish scriptures, known as the Torah.
  • The CEO Pivot Puzzle
    Product definition is a challenge for any startup. But it’s significantly harder for a company that is in an evolving market.

    Ben Horowitz – in his new book ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’, makes a compelling argument for how not to define product strategy.

    In making the transition from Loudcloud to Opsware, Horowitz was performing what has now become known in startup circles as a pivot. It’s a fork in the road where the company must change or fail. It’s not easy.

    Explains Horowitz; “The product plan was weighed down with hundreds of requirements from our existing customers. The product management team had an allergic reaction to prioritizing potentially good features above features that might help beat Blade Logic (a competitor).”

    This makes total sense of course. The product team is on the front line – they were the ones who heard the product requirements from customer. Customers who pay the bills. Customers who know their names.

    Horowitz explains the logic this way: “They would say ‘how can we walk away from requirements that we know to be true to pursue something that we think will help?’”

    This is the challenge of all tech companies in emerging markets. And Horowitz is spot on when he says, “figuring out the right product is the innovators job, not the customers job.”

    The customer knows what their needs are today – or yesterday. It’s the product team’s job to innovate and build for the future. For the next need.

    “innovation requires a mix of innovation, skill and courage”, says Horowitz.

    Ted Turner famously said that before CNN was launched, if a focus group of cable customers had been asked if they wanted 24 news, they would have voted thumbs down. Customers know what they have, not what they might want to have.

    There are plenty of hard things about being a CEO. Seeing around corners is part of the job. Not just predicting the future, but inventing it and building it. Having customers is great, listening to customers is important, but counting on their product needs to help guide product is a recipe for disaster.

    Which is why Horowitz gave ‘the speech’. He told his team: “I don’t care about any of the existing requirements. I need you to reinvent the product and we need to win.”

    In 2007, the company founded as Loudcloud in1999 had evolved into Opsware and sold to HP for 1.6 Billion dollars in cash.

    There are plenty of Hard Things about being a CEO – but balancing market demands with product vision is the true test of what a CEO and a company is made of.

  • Constitutional Rights in the Digital Age
    The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Riley v. California held that the police must obtain a warrant before searching the cell phone of someone who has been arrested. This decision applied the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — which prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures” — to take account of vast advances in technology since the time the Constitution was written.

    What should Riley tell us about how the development of technology affects other constitutional protections? In particular, how does the rise of the Internet affect the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to free speech?

    The Court’s decision in Riley rested on a simple premise: Cell phones are different from ordinary physical objects. The latter may be searched following a lawful arrest. The former, after Riley, may not. That is because, to use the Court’s own words, “Modern cell phones, as a category, implicate privacy concerns far beyond those implicated by the search of a cigarette pack, a wallet, or a purse.”

    So if searches of cell phones are different from searches of ordinary physical objects, then should online speech be analyzed differently from offline speech? The logical answer is yes. Just as cell phones are different from ordinary physical objects, the Internet is dramatically different from earlier speech mediums. And the Court should acknowledge those differences in determining the scope of First Amendment protection for speech.

    The differences between offline and online communication closely parallel Riley‘s distinction between ordinary physical objects and cell phones. One such distinction is quantitative. As the Court wrote in Riley: “One of the most notable distinguishing features of modern cell phones is their immense storage capacity. Before cell phones, a search of a person was limited by physical realities and tended as a general matter to constitute only a narrow intrusion on privacy.” This quantitative distinction extends to online speech. A large distribution of fliers might reach a few thousand people; in contrast, a public posting anywhere on the Internet can be read by billions. For instance, reddit.com — where anyone can post content — reports between 15 and 20 million unique visitors per month.

    Riley also noted qualitative differences between ordinary physical objects and cell phones. The Court stated: “The term ‘cell phone’ is itself misleading shorthand; many of these devices are in fact minicomputers that also happen to have the capacity to be used as a telephone. They could just as easily be called cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers.” That is, cell phones “collect[] in one place many distinct types of information — an address, a note, a prescription, a bank statement, a video.”

    The Internet likewise enables qualitatively different speech. Internet speech incorporates linking, which — not unlike the cell phone in Riley — aggregates a great quantity of information in a single place and creates a close connection between original and linked material. A much greater quantity of Internet speech is anonymous, and research indicates that anonymity breeds incivility as well as harassment and threats, which research has found disproportionately affect women. As many people have learned the hard way, the combination of the Internet and other electronic forms of communication enable the viral spread of information in a manner vastly different from people passing copies of a news article from hand to hand or calling up their neighbors to spread a juicy bit of gossip. And Internet speech is often both permanent and easily retrieved in a matter of seconds using a search engine, in stark contrast to the effort required to locate a yellowed news clipping stored in a box in the attic.

    The First Amendment should take account of these differences between online and offline speech, as the following examples illustrate.

    Consider, first, the doctrine of obscenity. The Supreme Court held in Miller v. California that speech is obscene only if “the average person, applying contemporary community standards,” would believe that the allegedly obscene item appeals to the “prurient interest,” or an excessive and unhealthy interest in sexual matters. The Court specified that contemporary community standards should be evaluated locally: that is, what counts as prurient in Topeka might not in San Francisco. Yet while perhaps locally-calibrated evaluation made sense in 1973, when Miller was decided, the standard requires updating now that an image posted on the Internet is theoretically viewable by anyone in the world.

    Second, the Supreme Court will soon take up the question of whether and how the First Amendment protects arguably threatening speech posted on the Internet. The Court recently granted review in Elonis v. United States, a case involving a man who was convicted under a federal law that criminalizes “true threats” after he posted disturbing rap lyrics about his ex-wife on Facebook. The lyrics included such statements as:

    There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts. Hurry up and die, bitch, so I can bust this nut all over your corpse from atop your shallow grave. I used to be a nice guy but then you became a slut.

    The defendant’s lyrics also involved a number of other violent statements, including a reference to “making a name for himself” with a kindergarten shooting and a fantasy about killing an F.B.I. agent. An issue in the case is whether the statements were “true threats” — in particular, whether the defendant’s claim that he did not intend his statements as serious threats should matter. Here again, the distinct qualities of the Internet make a difference. Because the Internet filters out voice and demeanor cues, online statements provide less information about the seriousness of the statement, and are thus more likely to be reasonably interpreted as threats. Likewise, because the Internet is not tied to a particular physical location, disturbing statements are more alarming to a reasonable person: one doesn’t know whether the person making the threats is in a different state or in the next room. The Court should take these realities into account next term in fashioning a “true threats” doctrine for the digital age.

    Third, the Internet medium poses novel considerations when it comes to First Amendment doctrine governing hate speech. The Court’s past decisions on that issue have been mixed: in RAV v. City of St. Paul, the Court unanimously struck down a hate-crime ordinance that had been interpreted to criminalize cross-burning, while in Virginia v. Black, it upheld a statute that criminalized cross-burning so long as “intent to intimidate” was proven. Yet there are good reasons for the Court to analyze Internet hate speech differently. First, the Internet facilitates the gathering of like-minded individuals united by their hatred of particular groups. Second, the anonymity of the Internet facilitates easy expression of hateful ideas. And finally, Internet hate speech sometimes leads to serious real-world consequences: consider, for example, the ease with which al-Qaeda’s hateful anti-American sentiments facilitate recruitment of new members.

    Fourth, the phenomenon of “revenge porn” — the distribution of intimate pictures of another person without that person’s consent — is another instance in which First Amendment analysis should take account of the unique characteristics of Internet speech. Some have argued that new state laws criminalizing revenge porn are, in at least some instances, constitutionally sound and good policy; others are more ambivalent. But broadcasting intimate images to the public via the Internet is quantitatively and qualitatively different from, say, distribution of such images by mail. I do not mean to imply that offline non-consensual distribution could not also be prohibited consistent with the U.S. Constitution. But First Amendment analysis of statutes criminalizing Internet revenge porn should not ignore the real-world differences associated with online distribution. The Internet allows easy dissemination of large quantities of revenge porn, facilitates the viral spread of such material, and potentially preserves the material online indefinitely, with devastating consequences for victims.

    The Supreme Court’s decision in Riley is a timely acknowledgment of the need for Fourth Amendment doctrine to take account of developments in technology. It’s time for the Court to do the same with other areas of constitutional law, starting with the First Amendment.

  • These Apollo 11 Mission Photos Will Transport You Back To A Remarkable Day In History
    “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.” — Inscription on the plaque of the Apollo 11 lunar module.

    On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong made history when he landed on the moon with Buzz Aldrin and took that first “small step for mankind” on the lunar surface. Forty-five years later, we remember that day during the Apollo 11 mission as one that changed the world forever.

    Now, you’ve probably seen the incredible, iconic image of a boot print on the moon — and that photograph of Aldrin posing next to the U.S. flag.

    But have you seen what the astronauts ate for breakfast the morning of the launch, or the photo of them peeking through a small window to greet their wives after their return home?

    Scroll through a rare collection of photographs below to relive the mission from start to finish.

  • How To Add An iTunes Gift Card to Passbook

    This week Apple in Australia, Japan and The United States gave iTunes account holders the ability to add iTunes Gift Cards to their Passbook on their iPhone.  It saves you from having to go to a store and purchase them and scan them in to iTunes in order to use them for app, books, movies […]

    The post How To Add An iTunes Gift Card to Passbook appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Customer Service Hall Of Shame: 24/7 Wall St.
    When it comes to companies we dread dealing with, we all know who they are. Let’s put it this way, would you rather go to the Apple Genius Bar to fix something with your iPhone or to the Bank of America teller to reverse a surprise interest charge?

    It’s perhaps no wonder Bank of America leads the nation in bad customer service. The massive U.S. financial institution has made the Customer Service Hall of Shame every year since 2009.

    Click here to see 24/7 Wall St.’s customer service hall of shame:

    In collaboration with research survey group Zogby Analytics, we polled 2,500 adults about the quality of customer service at 150 of America’s best-known companies in 15 industries, asking if that service was “excellent,” “good,” “fair” or “poor.”

    Those with the highest percentages of “excellent” rankings make up the Customer Service Hall of Fame; those with the highest share “poor” ratings make up our Customer Service Hall of Shame. (See how the survey was done and full results on the last page of this article.)

    Many of the other companies with the bottom-rated customer service have earned spots on the Hall of Shame list in the past. Eight of the 10 companies in the Hall of Shame have made at least three previous appearances since 2009.

    It is difficult for businesses in some industries to win consumer praise. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup — three of the largest banks in the country — received some of the worst customer service ratings in the nation.

    For banks, the many fees they charge may contribute to a customer’s poor evaluation of a company. “As soon as you take out your Bank of America ATM card you get charged,” said Praveen Kopalle, professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

    In addition to unpleasant and repeated charges and fees, these large banks engaged in questionable and often unlawful behavior that contributed to the housing crisis. For example, “[Banks] assured customers that [mortgage-backed securities] were actually good products when, in fact, they were pretty toxic,” Kopalle said.

    Cable and satellite TV companies are another segment that has repeatedly received poor customer service ratings. Shep Hyken, a customer satisfaction expert, explained that these companies are often unclear about their service charges. “Customers get shocked when they get their bill,” Hyken said.

    In some instances, companies have little incentive to offer good service. “If people really don’t like the customer service that they receive from telecom companies, they don’t have a lot of choice,” Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, explained. Without competition from other companies, “there is just not that pressure to deliver great service.”

    Future consolidation in these industries may exacerbate the problem. Companies like AT&T and DirecTV, as well as Time Warner Cable and Comcast, are driving merger and acquisition activity that will likely close this year, pending government approval.

    Many of the companies with the worst customer service, however, are still market leaders and manage to maintain impressive profit margins. Seven of the 10 companies in the Hall of Shame dominate their industries.

    This is 24/7 Wall St.’s customer service hall of shame:

  • Review: Patriot Fuel+ 6,000 and 9,000 mAh mobile backup batteries
    Mobile device batteries are better than they used to be, but there’s always a scenario where users could use more juice. Upgrade manufacturer Patriot has a solution — it has a line of portable batteries intended for charging devices on-the-go, called the Fuel+. In theory, a booster battery is easy — implement a battery, some ports, and a way to charge the battery, and done. In actuality, proper execution of an external battery is a bit more complex. Does Patriot have the balance right? Check our review to find out.



  • Watch NASA's Curiosity Rover Zap A Rock On Mars With A Laser

    NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars has set off some fireworks on the Red Planet with the zap-zap-zap of its high-tech space laser.

    On Saturday (July 12), Curiosity photographed sparks flying from a baseball-size rock blasted by the 1-ton robot’s laser-sampling Chemistry and Camera instrument, known as ChemCam. You can see the laser flashes in this new video of Curiosity’s work from NASA, which compiles pictures taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager camera on the rover’s arm.

    While Curiosity has fired its laser at more than 600 different targets since touching down on Mars in August 2012, the rover had never captured images of the resulting sparks before Saturday, NASA officials said.

    curiosity laser
    NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on its arm to catch the first images of sparks produced by the rover’s laser being shot at a rock on Mars.

    “This is so exciting! The ChemCam laser has fired more than 150,000 times on Mars, but this is the first time we see the plasma plume that is created,” ChemCam deputy principal investigator Sylvestre Maurice, of France’s National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Toulouse, said in a NASA statement.

    “Each time the laser hits a target, the plasma light is caught and analyzed by ChemCam’s spectrometers,” Maurice added. “What the new images add is confirmation that the size and shape of the spark are what we anticipated under Martian conditions.”

    The rock, which rover team members named “Nova,” sports a layer of dust and is rich in aluminum, silicon and sodium, researchers said. Its composition is similar to other stones Curiosity has zapped recently.

    Last year, mission scientists announced that a site near Curiosity’s landing zone called Yellowknife Bay could have supported microbial life billions of years ago. The rover left Yellowknife Bay last July and is now embarked on a long trek to the base of Mount Sharp, which rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) into the Red Planet sky.

    Curiosity’s handlers want the six-wheeled robot to climb up through Mount Sharp’s foothills, reading the rocks for clues about how Mars shifted from a wet and relatively warm world in the ancient past to the cold, dry planet it is today.

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Netflix Is Testing A Privacy Mode So You Can Hide Guilty Pleasures
    Embarrassed about some of those Netflix movies you’ve been watching? Is there a show you’re avoiding so it doesn’t appear in your “Recently Watched” section? We feel you.

    Now Netflix is testing a privacy mode that will keep what you watch from showing up in your activity log, according to Gigaom. Yep, it’s pretty much like private browsing or “Incognito Mode” on your web browser, so you can hide all of your guilty pleasures from those who share your account. Also, if you have a burning urge to watch “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” but really don’t want Netflix to recommend a bunch of reality shows to you, this new mode also prevents that from happening.

    The feature is currently being tested across all Netflix markets, but not everyone will be able to use it. Whether it will become available to all subscribers depends on the test run. “We may not ever offer it generally,” Cliff Edwards, director of corporate communications and technology, said. Till then, you’ll just have to pray no one looks through your activity log, or find a way to be proud of your love for Disney Channel Original Movies.

    [via Gigaom]

  • 'Fragments Of Him' Video Game Explores Queer Love And Loss
    A dark and groundbreaking new video game is slated to hit the market this winter that follows the experiences of one man following the death of the love of his life.

    A new take on queerness in video gaming, “Fragments of Him” has previously been available in a free, initial version that is reportedly “quite basic and linear.” This new, full version is expected to expand further, with a look into the life of the deceased man, as well as allow the user to follow him on his final day. Designer Mata Haggis told Rock, Paper, Shotgun,

    “There’s gonna be different gameplay mechanics in the final version –- not just removing objects. You’ll be progressing the story by making choices, too.The story will be slightly branching, but it’s still gonna have that same emotional journey if you go through it. Also each time you play through, you might get slightly different perspective –- slightly different lines of dialogue and whatnot. While it is a linear emotional journey, there are different ways to go along that path.”

    Check out the trailer for “Fragments of Him” above or head here to read more.

    (h/t Towleroad)

  • Japan's Rotating Seats Solve Train Travel's Greatest Woe (VIDEO)
    For motion-averse passengers, enduring a rocky train ride in a seat facing backward can be a painfully nauseating experience.

    But for those in Japan, this particular travel woe might be a thing of the past with the most ingenious idea ever: automatic rotating train seats. When the train reaches its final destination, all the seats spin around to face the direction the train is traveling in.

    According to The Telegraph, seats on Shinkansen, Japan’s high-speed bullet trains can also be manually rotated to create six-seat and four-seat configurations, so you and your travel buddies can all sit together.

    With train travel looking up in the U.S., rotating seats would be a welcome addition for those who get motion sickness from riding backward or prefer to travel facing forward. And we all know that train travel is the best, so why not make it that much better?

  • VIDEO: Piracy alerts to be sent to households
    Warning emails are to be sent to people who are downloading music and films illegally.

Mobile Technology News, July 19, 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.

  • Analysts find no consensus on expected fiscal Q3 iPhone, iPad sales
    With just a few days to go before the actual sales figures are revealed, analysts are at a loss to come up with a strong consensus on how many iPhones and iPads the company actually sold in the calendar second quarter, which ended June 30 (Apple refers to this as fiscal Q3). The iPad figures are even more befuddled, since last quarter’s drop in iPad sales — 16 percent year-over-year — was explained by CEO Tim Cook as changing inventory numbers rather than an actual drop.



  • The Apple Enterprise Play Taking Shape With IBM Deal

    One of the killer features of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 that will be coming this fall is the ability to answer a call coming in on your iPhone on your Mac.  I highlighted this in an article I wrote back in June on how Apple may very well move the enterprise telephony goalposts […]

    The post The Apple Enterprise Play Taking Shape With IBM Deal appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • UK anti-piracy action set to begin
    People in the UK who persistently pirate music and movies will soon start getting emails warning them that their actions are illegal.
  • Weekend Roundup: Double Barrel Game-Changing Events — A Civilian Plane Shot Down Over Ukraine and The BRICS' Alternative to The World Bank and IMF
    As the cyclical violence in the Middle East continued with an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, two game-changing events happened elsewhere. If the suspicions that the Malaysian airliner was shot down over eastern Ukraine by Russian-supplied rebels prove correct, the implications are vast for Russia’s relations with the West, and in particular Europe and NATO. The founding of the new BRICS Development Bank to rival the World Bank and IMF — mostly capitalized by China and based in Shanghai — marks the beginning of a major shift away from Western dominance of the global financial order.

    Writing from Kiev as the world awaits a verdict on who shot down the Malaysian airliner, Ukrainian Parliament Member Olga Belkova charges Vladimir Putin with playing a double game with conciliatory words while he continues to support pro-Russian separatists. Parag Khanna sees the new BRICS bank as the cornerstone of an alternative world order.

    WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from the frontlines in Gaza and Jerusalem on the human impact of that endless conflict. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy worries about the anti-Semitic tone when opposition to Israel’s action in Gaza conflates Israel and the Jews.

    The rift between the U.S. and Germany over spying has further escalated this week with the exposure of another U.S. double agent. Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and his colleague Lothar Determann look at the larger issues of surveillance, sovereignty and privacy in the digital age. Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman warns that the close post-war alliances between the U.S., Germany and Japan are unraveling.

    Young-hie Kim writes from Seoul that the current “honeymoon” between China and South Korea is worrisome if it goes too far and alienates Japan and the United States. The editorial board of the popular Shanghai website, Guancha, mocks the recent intervention of Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong, in current Hong Kong affairs.

    On the refugee front, Alex Nowrasteh points out that child migrants are not fleeing to the U.S. from Nicaragua because gangs, drug and violent crime are at very low levels in that country once at war with the U.S. Actress Keira Knightley draws attention to the recurrent plight of refugees in camps in South Sudan.

    Chetan Bhagat, India’s most famous English-language blogger, who is also a screenwriter, writes from Kolkata about his effort to change the country’s course with his columns, novels and screenplays.

    In an interview with The WorldPost, Bill Gates’ “guru” Vaclav Smil — who says he never blogs and doesn’t have a cell phone — argues that more efficient new technologies actually increase, instead of decrease, the consumption of energy and resources.

    Finally, UNICEF’s Olav Kjorven reflects on his recent visit to a Shinto shrine in Japan and the critical importance of “spiritual capital” to development.

    WHO WE ARE

    EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Nicholas Sabloff is the Executive International Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s 10 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s World Editor.

    CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

    EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun). Sergio Munoz Bata is Contributing Editor-At-Large.

    CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy) and Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review). Katherine Keating (One-On-One) and Jehangir Pocha (NewsX India) .

    The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

    Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

    ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

    From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.

    MISSION STATEMENT

    The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

    We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

  • LA Engineers Building Hot Tub Cadillac
    As automotive ideas go, this one’s all wet — and that’s exactly how its inventors want it.

    Two Los Angeles-based engineers are on a race to set the first world record for the fastest hot tub ever, according to Barcroft TV.

    It’s been a dream of Phil Weicker and Duncan Forster since 1996 when both were attending McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

    The two were drinking when they somehow decided turning an old car into the world’s first drivable, fully operational hot tub was a good addition to their bucket list, according to Yahoo! News Canada.

    Eight years ago, they purchased a 1969 Cadillac Coupe DeVille for $800 and turned it into a “Carpool DeVille” by removing the seats, filling the interior with water and installing all the mechanics of a customized hot tub.

    “We just had to do it,” Weicker told CBC News. “We just had to go 100 miles an hour in a hot tub because it’s never been done before, because we think we can.”

    The “Carpool DeVille” seats five people and the V8 engine not only propels the car but it heats the water to over 102 degrees.

    The trunk holds the pump, filter and overflow tank. The twosome has added a marine throttle to control the car’s speed; pushing forward accelerates and pulling back slows down.

    Forster doesn’t recommend slamming on the brakes in this vehicle since water would splash on to the windshield and back into the driver’s face.

    A low-tech solution for that may be in the works.

    “We’re wondering if we should equip a helmet with a snorkel just to be sure,” Forster told CNN.

    Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $11,000, Forster and Weicker are putting the finishing touches on the hot tub Cadillac.

    Now the duo are hoping to race it next month at Speed Week, an event held every August at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah that is open to vehicles of all types.

    “Nobody’s ever gone a hundred miles an hour in an open-air self propelled hot tub while sitting neck deep in soothing warm water,” they wrote on their Kickstarter page. “We aim to correct that mistake of history this August.”

    To be fair: There is no existing speed record for hot tub Cadillacs so even if the car only makes it up to, say, 60 mph, it’s safe to say they’ll still own the record.

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  • This 'Game Of Thrones' Dubstep Remix Means Bass Drops Are Coming
    Hodor isn’t the only DJ in Westeros.

    YouTube star MetroGnome, the guy behind that sick “Breaking Bad” remix, is back again, and this time he’s out to rule the Seven Kingdoms with a dubstep “Game of Thrones” cover.

    This literal “Song of Ice and Fire” comes complete with lines from the HBO show, some mid-performance surprises and a bass drop so low it goes right out the Moon Door.

    Enjoy.

  • DJ Turns The Sounds Of A Classroom Into The Feel Good Song Of The Summer
    Pencils on desks. High-pitched giggles. Balls launched (briefly) into the air. We bet you’ve never heard the sounds of a school quite like this before.

    Edgar Camago is a San Francisco third grade teacher and also a music producer. For the second time, he’s combined his two livelihoods to create an original song using sounds from the classroom as well as vocals from his students, and instruments played by them.

    It’s a fitting anthem for the rising fourth graders as they tackle new challenges, and a good reminder for the rest of us: “Fight, fight, fight! Fight the good fight!”

  • Is the World Ready for a Video Game About Slavery?
    2014-07-18-thralled.png

    By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

    Speaking about Miguel Oliveira’s Thralled using the language of video games can be difficult.

    Thralled is an interactive experience about a runaway slave in 18th century Brazil who becomes traumatized over the disappearance of her baby boy,” Oliveira told me as we met in the University of Southern California’s Doheny Memorial Library in the week leading up to this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. “So the whole experience is about going through a historic representation of her memories and trying to find out what happened to the kid.”

    With Thralled, Oliveira is at the forefront of a growing movement among emerging game designers to create experiences that go far beyond the highly polished shooters and retro classic homages that take up the bulk of gamers’ mindshare. It’s a movement emerging from the recently reorganized USC Games program, which has turned one of the top game design schools in the nation into the cradle of the indie games scene.

    Yet Oliveira said he’s “kind of hesitant to call (Thralled) a game in the first place, because of the stigma that’s attached to the term.”

    The mechanical language of video games is very much present, however. A game controller is used to guide the character Isaura through the Brazilian wilderness. As part of the story she carries her infant son, and a critical part of solving puzzles includes pressing the button that gets her to hold her child closer. This calms his cries, and prevents her from being discovered by a phantom that stalks her.

    “You’re holding the baby yourself, in a way. By interacting with the character in such a way, by guiding and helping the character through those motions you’re really in it in a different way than in a novel or a film.”

    Thralled also differs from game experiences in its intent. Others seek to entertain or educate, while Oliveira chases a different “e” word: empathy.

    “It’s really an exploration of the relationship between mother and son, within this larger context of slavery and an exploration of how slavery–or what the extreme circumstances of slavery put this person through–affects that relationship.”

    Thralled began as Oliveira’s senior thesis project, and was showcased at the annual Demo Day the Interactive Media & Games program puts on at the university. There it was seen by Ouya’s head of developer relations Kellee Santiago, one of the luminaries of the indie game scene. Santiago offered Oliveira a chance to create a fully realized version of the game in exchange for an exclusivity deal with Ouya.

    That’s the business side of the story, but far more interesting is Oliveira’s motivations for making a game about the human impact of slavery. Part of the reason, he offers, is because slavery is something that we still live with.

    “Some estimates point to 27 million people suffering under slavery today. That’s a really high number.”

    Yet the core reason is Oliveira’s desire stems from his childhood in Portugal.

    “Growing up in history class I’d hear these stories: ‘Oh the Portuguese are heroes in history.’ We found out this and we found out that and they really focused on the glories of the Portuguese and the achievements. But what they failed to mention, what was never really talked about was that Portugal was the nation that pioneered the slave trades. The nation under which the majority of Africans were enslaved. It’s estimated that between 30 and 50 percent of all human beings trafficked in the slave trade of the colonial ages were victimized by Portuguese and Brazilian people.”

    Oliveira points to racism as a direct effect of the Atlantic slave trade that we still live with: attitudes that were formed to justify the debasement of other human beings.

    “I feel like this is such a large problem, and a lot of people say that racism doesn’t exist anymore. Which is of course baloney, right? If we are to talk about this issue I really feel like we have to talk about the origin of that issue.

    “That’s really what Thralled‘s about.”

    In spite of its tone Thralled still looks and feels like a puzzle platform video game. That means it has the potential to draw the criticism that it is making light of a heavy issue.

    “We are extremely carful to try and not trivialize the subject matter,” said Oliveira. “So really it will be up to each person. If people say that the subject is trivialized just because it’s being depicted through this medium, I don’t think that would be a valid reason, really.”

    As the medium of gaming matures alongside its earliest adopters we are going to see more attempts to tackle serious subject matter. Thralled is part of a wave of experiences, like the much talked about That Dragon, Cancer which is also set for the Ouya, that are bubbling out of the gaming underground and gaining attention from a more mainstream audience.

    The generation that never knew a world without video games is beginning to find its voice, and how they speak will prove as interesting as what they have to say.

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

    Go to Turnstylenews.com | Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Tumblr

  • A Judge Just Gave Prosecutors Access To Someone's Gmail
    By Joseph Ax
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge in New York has granted prosecutors access to a Gmail user’s emails as part of a criminal probe, a decision that could fan the debate over how aggressively the government may pursue data if doing so may invade people’s privacy.
    U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein said Friday he had authorized a warrant to be served on Google Inc for the emails of an unnamed individual who is the target of a money laundering investigation.
    Gorenstein said his decision ran counter to several other judges’ rulings in similar cases that sweeping warrants give the government improper access to too many emails, not just relevant ones.
    But he said the law lets investigators review broad swaths of documents to decide which are covered by warrants.
    Google did not respond to a request for comment.
    The ruling came three months after U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis in New York said prosecutors can force Microsoft Corp to hand over a customer’s email stored in an Ireland data center.
    Microsoft has appealed, in what is seen as the first challenge by a company to a warrant seeking data stored overseas.
    Companies including Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, Cisco Systems Inc and Apple Inc have filed briefs in support of Microsoft, as has the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group. A hearing is set for July 31 before U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in New York.
    The government’s ability to seize personal information has grown more contentious since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden leaked secret documents in June 2013 to media outlets outlining the agency’s massive data collection programs.
    In June, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled police generally need a warrant to search an arrested suspect’s cellphone, citing privacy concerns.
    Gorenstein’s ruling joined a public debate playing out among several magistrate judges, who typically handle warrant requests. It is unusual to issue lengthy opinions on such matters particularly when, as in Gorenstein’s case, the judge approves the application.
    In April, John Facciola, a magistrate in Washington, D.C., rejected a warrant for the Apple email account of a defense contractor as part of a kickback investigation, one of several similar opinions he has authored recently.
    Last year, a Kansas magistrate denied warrant applications for emails and records at Google, Verizon, Yahoo! Inc, Microsoft unit Skype and GoDaddy in a stolen computer equipment case.
    Both judges said the warrants were overly broad.
    On the other hand, several U.S. appeals courts have rejected motions to suppress such searches, Gorenstein said.
    Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, applauded Gorenstein for explaining his reasoning in writing, though he said he disagreed with the analysis.
    “The more voices and opinions we can add to the discussion, the better,” he said in an email.

    (Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Richard Chang)

  • Jimmy Fallon Shares The Most #AwkwardBreakUp Tweets Ever
    Breaking up can sometime be a little awkward, especially if immediately after you get your hair stuck in a tree for 20 minutes.

    In honor of the upcoming “Bachelorette” finale, Jimmy Fallon decided to make this week’s “Hashtag#awkwardbreakup, and some of these are doozies:

    After my bf cheated I broke up w/ him in front of his friends.Walking away I got my hair caught in a tree & was stuck there #awkwardbreakup

    — Sam Kopp (@skopp32) July 17, 2014

    7th grade boyfriend. Our mothers were friends so I asked my mom to break up with him through his mom. #awkwardbreakup

    — Jamie Mank (@JamieMank) July 17, 2014

    At the end of me and my boyfriend’s date night, he gave me a long kiss and then said “you won’t be getting that ever again” #awkwardbreakup

    — Giselle B. Johnston (@GiselleBunchman) July 17, 2014

    Watch the video above to see the rest and start feeling better that at least your ex never announced your breakup on “Kiss Cam.”

    “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on NBC.

  • Dispatches From a Connected Future
    2014-07-17-Drone.png

    Unmanned aerial vehicles developed by Yan Wan from the University of North Texas are capable of providing wireless communications to storm-ravaged areas where telephone access is out. The vehicle was one of the cyber-physical systems showcased at the Smart America Expo.

    Anyone looking for a glimpse into the technologies that will change our lives, businesses and organizations in the coming decades received an eyeful at the Smart America Expo in Washington, D.C. in June. There, scientists showed off cyber-dogs and disaster drones, smart grids and smart healthcare systems, all intended to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

    The event brought together leaders from academia, industry and government to showcase the results of six months of rapid team-building and technology development. The Expo demonstrated the ways that smarter cyber-physical systems (CPS) — sometimes called the Internet of Things — can lead to improvements in healthcare, transportation, energy and emergency response, and other critical areas.

    Among the demonstrations at the Expo were the first commercially available autonomous vehicle (Aribo), which the U.S. military is testing on its bases; a number of interconnected home — and hospital-based sensors and software systems designed to create a “closed loop” of healthcare coverage; drones capable of delivering Wi-Fi to disaster areas; and dogs instrumented with sensors, cameras and haptic devices to allow them to glean information from dangerous environments and respond to handlers.

    2014-07-17-SmartAm1.jpg

    The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy launched the Smart America Challenge in December 2013 as a way of galvanizing the development of the Internet of Things. The Challenge brought together more than 100 researchers, who organized themselves in 24 teams. The June Expo was the culmination of the first phase of the project and gave a sense of the potential of collaborations around cyber-physical systems.

    “So many of the breakthroughs of today and tomorrow are at the intersections of systems coming together to deliver compound awesomeness,” said Todd Park, United States Chief Technology Officer and a keynote speaker at the event. “1+1+1 equals a super cool robots or an exoskeleton.”

    Industry, academia and government are all investing heavily to develop the core technologies that will allow devices to communicate and cooperate with each other far better than they do today. But the scientists doing this research — like the machines they are working on — often are not aware of, or in communication with, each other.

    “Our nation had made significant investments in CPS in various sectors but they weren’t talking to each other,” said Geoff Mulligan, a Presidential Innovation Fellow who, along with Sokwoo Rhee, organized the event. “What if each researcher was to put their piece on the table to see how they fit together?”

    The Smart America challenge sought to de-fragment the research environment and build collaborations that tie disparate pieces of R&D together.

    “Innovation and progress are best done in partnerships where government, academia, and industry work together to promote growth and a safe and secure society,” said Chris Greer, director of the Smart Grid and Cyber-Physical Systems Program Office at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

    The National Science Foundation has been a strong supporter of cyber-physical systems research, investing more than $200 million in the area over the last five years. These investments were noticeable in the researchers represented at the Smart America Expo. Eight of the 24 teams included members of the academic community supported by NSF. Many other projects were built of fundamental, NSF-supported research.

    “Advances in cyber physical systems hold the potential to reshape our world with more responsive, precise, reliable and efficient systems,” said Farnam Jahanian, head of computing at NSF. “NSF investments have supported researchers across the U.S. who have laid the foundation to enable the deep integration of computation, communication, and control into physical systems — to make cyber physical systems a reality today.”

    Below are 6 examples of NSF-supported research from the Smart America Expo:

    1) Cyber-equipped dogs lead the way in search-and-rescue

    Researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU) showed off pioneering work demonstrating the potential of technologies that allow dogs to gather information, and stay safe, during search and rescue operations.

    “What we’re hoping to do here is to begin the field of canine-computer interaction,” said David Roberts, professor of computer science at NCSU. “When we start to think about canines interacting with computers, the range of possibilities is essentially endless.”

    Among the applications they’re testing are computer-assisted training, remote communication with dogs in the field and tools to help people with guide dogs better understand what their dogs are doing.

    They accomplish these tasks by equipping dogs with video, audio and gas sensors (in the case of emergency response), as well as inertial measurement units that provide information in real time about the dogs posture and physiological monitors. Together, this information provides a detailed picture of what the dog is doing and enables handlers to characterize their emotional state.

    The last type of capabilities that they are working on enables handlers to communicate with dogs from afar. Using audio cues and haptic inputs (like the vibration on a phone), they are training dogs to respond to different commands in the field or around the house.

    2) Tele-robotics puts robot power at your fingertips

    In the aftermath of an earthquake, every second counts. The teams behind the Smart Emergency Response System (SERS) are developing technology to locate people quickly and help first responders save more lives. The SERS demonstrations at the Smart America Expo incorporated several NSF-supported research projects.

    Howard Chizeck, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, showed a system he’s helped to develop where one can log in to a Wi-Fi network in order to tele-operate a robot working in a dangerous environment.

    “We’re looking to give a sense of touch to tele-robotic operators, so you can actually feel what the robot end-effector is doing,” Chizeck said. “Maybe you’re in an environment that’s too dangerous for people. It’s too hot, too radioactive, too toxic, too far away, too small, too big, then a robot can let you extend the reach of a human.”

    The device is being used to allow surgeons to perform remote surgeries from thousands of miles away. And through a start-up called BluHaptics - started by Chizeck and Fredrik Ryden and supported by a Small Business Investment Research grant from NSF — researchers are adapting the technology to allow a robot to work underwater and turn off a valve at the base of an off-shore oil rig to prevent a major spill.

    “We’re trying to develop tele-robotics for a wide range of opportunities,” Chizeck said. “This is potentially a new industry, people operating in dangerous environments from a long distance.”

    3) Local 3D printing hubs bring manufacturing back to U.S

    Imaginestics is a start-up out of West Lafayette, Indiana, founded by Nainesh Rathod. At the Smart America Expo, Rathod was part of a team that demonstrated the potential impact of what they are calling “Smart Shape Technology.”

    The system Rathod and his collaborators developed lets you can take a picture of a part of a larger device with a mobile phone, and then identify a local retailer where this part can be found or instantly print it at a local neighborhood 3D printing service provider.

    The demonstration showed how Smart Shape Technology — using novel shape search, active label, smart hubs and 3D printing technologies — can create local jobs and increase local skills.

    “This technology doesn’t have to be locked up in big business,” Rathod said. “To make it available at our fingertips is within reach.”

    Rathod was twice a recipient of NSF’s Small Business Innovation Research grants, which helped to turn his radical idea into a business with several hundred employees.

    “NSF to us has been a big risk-taker,” Rathod said. “When we went to them and said we’re thinking about this, they didn’t throw us out the door. They basically said: great idea, here’s some money, see what you can do. They played, I think, a foundational role for us. Without that kind of a beginning, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

    4) Drones for disaster relief

    At the Smart America Expo, Yan Wan from the University of North Texas exhibited unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) she developed that are capable of providing wireless communications to storm-ravaged areas where telephone access is out.

    Typical wireless communications have a range limit of only a hundred meters. However, using technology developed by Wan and her colleagues, they were able to extend the Wi-Fi reach of drones to five kilometers. The secret is designing directional antennas that can rotate and adjust automatically to assure a strong connection.

    “This technology would be very useful in disaster scenarios when the cell towers are down and there’s no communication infrastructure,” Wan said. “However in order to enable the information dissemination between the rescue teams and control centers, we need to have a structure available to make this happen. And this is what we’re trying to provide.”

    In a grant from NSF, Wan is applying similar technology to next-generation aviation systems. One day, Wan’s research will enable drone-to-drone and flight-to-flight communications, improving air traffic safety, coordination and efficiency.

    5) Healthcare that follows you from home to hospital and back

    Through a decade of research and development, Marjorie Skubic, from the University of Missouri, has created a suite of health care technologies that identify when individuals fall in their homes or when their physical behavior changes over time. These technologies incorporate data from passive sensors, infrared cameras and smart detection algorithms to find signs of degenerative conditions and provide a quick assessment to help avoid further health declines.

    “These technologies help people get the help they need early, so we can treat and address health problems when they’re still small before they become catastrophic,” Skubic said.

    However, how does a physician at a hospital know about and use information gathered by devices like those designed by Skubic for the home? And likewise, how does information about a patient’s condition in the hospital get incorporated into technologies like Skubic’s when they return to their home?

    As part of the Closed Loop Healthcare team, Skubic worked to connect the technologies she’s created with those developed by other teams with similar health care goals. The team’s ultimate aim is to “close the loop” of healthcare coverage so devices, data and doctors’ diagnoses can be integrated for the good of the patient.

    6) Helping healthcare technologies communicate

    Julian Goldman, a physician at Mass General Hospital, knows better than most the frustrations that doctors face when they’re confronted with computer systems and devices that just won’t communicate with each other.

    His lab has been a pioneer in developing open source software and standards designed to integrate the various technologies used in homes and hospitals. Goldman’s lab created a computing platform called Open ICE (Integrated Clinical Environment) to begin to address these problems. The effort, in turn, led to the development of a community of like-minded researchers and manufacturers that would like to break barriers in health care through better information exchange, better communication among medical devices and between medical devices and electronic health records, and ultimately through smart apps designed to improve patient safety and decrease the cost of health care.

    “Our involvement with Smart America has been an exciting, six-month, wild ride,” said Goldman, who co-chaired the Closed Loop Healthcare team with Marge Skubic. “We’ve all learned a lot from each other. Our contact, and our work together, has influenced our perception of our work, including how to make our own work more accessible to collaborators. That is extremely valuable and typically very hard to do.”

  • Regional anesthesia app gives guidelines for anticoagulation therapies

    Regional anesthesia iPhone medical app review on anticoagulation guidelines

    The post Regional anesthesia app gives guidelines for anticoagulation therapies appeared first on iMedicalApps.

  • User-Unfriendly Online Ticket Sales
    Co-authored by Alan Daley

    So, you want to attend a concert featuring one of your favorite performers? Why not buy your tickets online and use the convenient venue seating charts? Well, comparing prices between online vendors can be difficult and time-consuming. And, many online vendors like it that way, as we will explain.

    When it comes to buying event tickets online, there is often a lack of upfront transparency that makes comparing vendors a real challenge. Yes, with patience and scrolling through the search results for a venue, you can find tickets for sale by the primary vendor and resellers. However, it is unlikely that you will know the final cost of your tickets at this stage, because few vendors reveal an “all-in” price that includes everything they expect you to pay. It is that lack of transparency that can lead consumers to not having all the information they need to make good buying decisions, and some online vendors have no incentive to make it easier for you to compare these prices.

    Here is what we found in analyzing prices for a recent Beyoncé and JAY-Z concert in New Jersey. After reviewing the primary vendor’s (Ticketmaster’s) offerings, we felt the prices seemed a little high and decided to compare prices for ten popular ticket resellers, like StubHub, Easy Seat, TicketsNow, RazorGator and others. While we considered some different sections and rows, the seats we considered were about equidistant from the stage, had similar elevations, and had similar stage-viewing angles (some slightly right, some slightly left). Overall, the comparisons seemed to be fair. The choices were always good or, at least, so we thought.

    We began comparing prices on reseller websites by selecting similar sections and rows where tickets were still available. We immediately found some vendor prices that were substantially lower than other vendor prices. However, even after selecting seats and putting them in the shopping cart, we still did not know our final costs.

    Only at checkout did we finally discover the price of the tickets often include “service fees” for each seat, as well as “delivery” or “handling” charges for the entire transaction. In fact, the primary seller and eight of the ten resellers that we analyzed charged these service fees later at checkout, whereas TM+ and StubHub included them in the upfront price. In some cases, these late-revealed service charges increased the early-stated seat price by more than 30%.

    What we found was that going through each vendor’s selection and checkout process was tedious and quite time-consuming. In our sample of ticket vendors, we found high-priced vendors sometimes selling tickets at nearly one-third the cost higher than low-priced vendors for the identical section and row. Of course, you will not be alerted to this unless until you work your way through each of the vendors’ tedious selection and checkout process. In the meantime, you feel under pressure to buy your ticket quickly, as a shot clock could expire and force you to start over from the beginning. If price comparisons are important to you, we found the lack of “all-in” pricing to be not consumer friendly.

    In our sample, five of the ten resellers charged extra (usually $7.50 extra) for electronic delivery of the tickets. That seemed excessive, considering that electronic delivery is most efficient and produces little direct cost for the ticket vendor. Parking at the event was priced at $64.95, which also seemed outrageously high.

    In other words, simply comparing upfront ticket prices does not provide consumers enough information on the final costs of the purchase. The reality is that some online vendors offered cheaper ticket prices upfront, but then tacked on higher fees at the end. It worked like a bait-and-switch tactic — where consumers are enticed to buy cheaper items only to be charged more in the end.

    What could the reason be for user-unfriendly online ticket sales? The confusing process gives sellers better information than buyers. That, in turn, means that buyers do not have sufficient information to make informed buying decisions. Confusion favors sellers, and it often leads consumers to pay more for event tickets than they would have if only they had better information been available to them. In other words, many online ticket sales websites are set up to make ticket price comparisons tedious and time-consumers, and they encourage consumers to make snap decisions while facing a shot clock. They are designed to be user-unfriendly and potentially cause consumers to overpay, but it does not have to be that way.

    In the airline industry, there are plenty of intermediaries (Priceline, Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz and Kayak) that search and provide reliable fare information that saves time and money for consumers. Ideally, for online ticket buyers, there should be “all-in” price data too, but industry standards are missing and, therefore, policymakers need to push for more upfront transparency. The online ticket sales business is ripe for an infusion of upfront honesty in its pricing.

    In short, public policy needs to focus on giving consumers better information in order to empower them to make better buying decisions. Requiring online ticket providers to show the all-in price before taxes would provide that information and heighten market competition. That regulation would be virtually costless to the industry and it would have immense benefits to consumers.

    That would be a public policy long overdue.

    Alan Daley and Steve Pociask write for The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research, a nonprofit educational and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.theamericanconsumer.org.

  • Astronaut Hank Hartsfield, Who Led First Flight Of Space Shuttle Discovery, Dies At 80

    NASA astronaut Henry “Hank” Hartsfield, who in 1984 commanded the maiden mission of the space shuttle Discovery, died on Thursday (July 17). He was 80.

    Hank Hartsfield’s death came as a result of complications from back surgery he had several months ago, according to his fellow astronaut and STS-41D crewmember Mike Mullane.

    “Obviously, I have many, many memories of my time with Hank,” Mullane wrote online on Thursday. “He was a great commander and pilot and I’ll always feel honored to have been a member of his crew.”

    Hartsfield became a NASA astronaut in September 1969, just two months after the first moon landing. He waited 13 years to make his first spaceflight, serving as the pilot on shuttle Columbia’s STS-4 mission, the fourth and final test flight of the winged orbiter program. [7 Notable Space Shuttle Astronauts]

    Launching on Columbia on June 27, 1982, Hartsfield and commander Thomas “Ken” Mattingly circled the Earth 112 times while performing experiments and operating a pair of classified missile launch-detection systems. Returning to Earth a week later on Independence Day, the STS-4 crew was greeted by then-President and First Lady Ronald and Nancy Reagan at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

    The STS-4 mission was the last to be flown before NASA declared the space shuttle operational.

    “‘Operational,’ to me, is a tough term to explain,” Hartsfield told collectSPACE.com in a 2006 interview. “In my view, the whole time we were flying [the space shuttle] it was a test vehicle, although we called it operational. We used it and did a lot of great things [but it was not] operational by the way I look at it, having been a test pilot and looking at airplanes.”

    Hartsfield’s second shuttle mission assignment came two years later as the commander Discovery’s first flight, but the STS-41D mission set another first before ever leaving the launch pad.

    Originally scheduled to lift off in June 1984, Hartsfield and his crew of five were just four seconds from launch when a faulty main engine forced the shuttle program’s first-ever abort, followed by a hydrogen fire on the pad. It took two months to recover, but Discovery safely launched on Aug. 30 on a six-day flight to deploy communication satellites and conduct science. [Space Shuttle Discovery: 10 Spaceship Facts]

    During the mission, Hartsfield and his crewmates gained a nickname, the “Icebusters,” after using the shuttle robotic arm to successfully knock off a hazardous ice buildup on the outside of the orbiter.

    “We had to get rid of the icicle because if it stayed on there, the concern was that when we started entry [back into the Earth atmosphere] it was just about the right place to break off and then hit the [Orbital Maneuvering System] pod,” Hartsfield explained in a 2001 NASA interview. “If you hit the OMS pod and broke those tiles… that’s where the propellant is for the OMS engines, you know, and that is not a good thing to have happen.”

    “I operated the arm and broke the icicle off,” he recalled. “We were really relieved to see that go away.”

    Hartsfield returned to orbit for his third and final flight as commander of Challenger’s STS-61A mission in October 1985. In addition to being the first flight to be funded and directed by a foreign country (the former West Germany, overseeing the European-built Spacelab module mounted in Challenger’s payload bay), the eight-member 61A crew set the record for the most astronauts to launch and land on the same spacecraft.

    The seven-day flight conducted more than 75 experiments over the course of 112 orbits, marking the last time space shuttle Challenger would fly in space. The orbiter was lost in flight in January 1986.

    With STS-61A’s landing, Hartsfield had logged a total of 20 days, 2 hours and 50 minutes in space, having circled the Earth 321 times.

    “I flew on Columbia, Challenger and Discovery,” Hartsfield told collectSPACE.com in 2009. “I was fortunate to be the commander of the first flight of Discovery, and [it] turned out to be a pretty doggoned good bird.”

    Henry Warren Hartsfield, Jr. was born on Nov. 21, 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama. He earned his bachelor of science degree in physics at Auburn University in 1954, performed graduate work in physics and astronautics at the Air Force Institute of Technology and Duke University, and received his master of science degree in engineering science from the University of Tennessee in 1971.

    Hartsfield joined the Air Force in 1955 and graduated from the test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, where he was serving as an instructor when he was recruited as an astronaut trainee for the Manned Orbital Laboratory. The project would have seen Hartsfield fly to space onboard a Gemini spacecraft to work on a reconnaissance platform, had it not been canceled in 1969.

    With the end of the MOL program, Hartsfield and six other trainees transferred to NASA’s astronaut corps. Before his own three shuttle flights, Hartsfield served on the support crews for the fifth moon landing, Apollo 16 in April 1972, and for all three missions to the United States’ first space station, Skylab, between May 1973 and February 1974.

    Hartsfield retired from the Air Force in 1977 but continued at NASA well beyond his time flying in space. He served as the deputy chief of the astronaut office and the deputy director of flight crew operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston before holding management positions at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Before leaving NASA in 1998 to become an executive at the Raytheon Corp., Hartsfield helped set the ground work for the International Space Station, serving as the deputy manager of the space station projects office, among other positions related to the orbiting laboratory. He retired from Raytheon in 2005.

    hank hartsfield
    Hank Hartsfield thanks the audience for its applause at the 2009 U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

    Awarded Air Force and NASA medals and the recipient of the 1973 Gen. Thomas D. White Space Trophy, Hartsfield was inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983 and U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2006. Hartsfield was bestowed an honorary doctor of science degree from his alma mater, Auburn University, in 1986.

    Hartsfield is survived by his wife Judy Frances Massey, daughter Judy and two grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter Keely, who worked as a contractor to the space shuttle program and died in March 2014.

    Follow collectSPACE.com on Facebook and on Twitter at @collectSPACE. Copyright 2014 collectSPACE.com. All rights reserved.

    Copyright 2014 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Tablets' Coming Dominance Sign of Fast-Twitch Nature of Retail
    Gartner’s recent proclamation that tablets will soon overtake PCs in the global market was hardly shocking.

    Mobile devices have increasingly become the go-to device for the growing number of global citizens who live their lives online. Big PC players, like Intel and Hewlett-Packard, have been bracing for the day for years. And think of your own home? Any chance a tablet — at the kitchen table, on the couch, in bed — has replaced a desktop or laptop in the family room?

    For e-commerce retailers, the fact that manufacturers will ship 320 million tablets and only 316 million PCs in 2015 is an inflection point worth noting — and a reminder that they need to be ever vigilant for changes in consumer behavior.

    It is more important than ever, for instance, that e-tailers make sure their sites are optimized for tablets and that they know how to stay connected with consumers no matter how many different devices a shoppers users — phone to tablet to laptop — during one shopping excursion.

    2014-07-17-tabletuser.jpg

    Sucharita Mulpuru, who follows e-commerce for Forrester, isn’t sure the move to tablets will be a big disruption for most retailers. But she does have some advice.

    “If anything,” she says, “they just need to make sure that their content is optimized and that their sites don’t crash on different tablet browsers.”

    The shift outlined in Gartner’s report is certainly an opportunity for reflection. (Gartner, by the way, could not provide an analyst to comment on the report in a timely fashion.) Think of the tablet’s coming statistical victory over the PC as one of those milestones, like when the Dow breaks 17,000 or McDonald’s sells its 300 billionth burger — an historic moment and a chance to think about where we’re going.

    And for e-commerce enterprises and their customers, where we’re going is mobile. Forrester’s research points to the 200 million smartphone subscribers and 100 million regular tablet users and predicts that by 2018, sales executed on phones and tablets will hit $293 billion, more than half of all U.S. e-commerce. And tablets will be driving that growth, accounting for $219 billion of the 2018 sales total. (Not to mention that a recent study by marketing firm Custora found that tablet shoppers convert at twice the rate of smartphone shoppers.)

    Given those numbers, it would seem that optimizing sites and making sure yours doesn’t crash on tablets’ browsers would seem like a given. But dealing with the differences in the laptop experience and the tablet experience is nothing to grow complacent about.

    In fact, the need to be nimble to make sure that your products can be found, is another reminder that consumers can’t buy online what they can’t find online. I’d argue that consumers’ practice of flitting among phones, tablets and desktops is also an argument for the need for retailers to remember that consumers aren’t hung up on how they’re shopping.

    2014-07-17-RandomTablets.jpg

    The Custora study of tablet shoppers found that the percentage of consumers shopping across devices has tripled in less than two years, reaching 12 percent. Those consumers don’t see themselves as shopping on phones or shopping on tablets or shopping on desktops. They are just shopping; and retailers need to be communicating with and recognizing individual customers across all those channels.

    Yes, the statistics on tablet sales vs. PC sales are fluid and fleeting. While the macro-trend is for slower PC sales, they actually saw a sales spike last quarter, owing to businesses’ need to replace old machines and XP users’ need to replace an operating system that Microsoft no longer supports.

    “Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend, especially in Western Europe,” Gartner Research Director Ranjit Atwal explained in the company’s press release. “This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets.”

    And, ironically, the growth in tablet sales has been sluggish this year, with consumers apparently waiting for larger screens, according to Gartner.

    But the overall long-term trend is undeniable. Consumers are moving to mobile and retailers need to be ready for all that comes with that.

    Cover photo of iPads by Matthew Pearce and photos of tablet user by Juhan Sonin and tablets by Siddartha Thota published under Creative Commons license.

    Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Reach him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com and follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.

  • Nelson Mandela Doodle May Just Be Google's Best Yet
    What better way to spend #MandelaDay than reading wise words from the civil rights hero himself?

    Google is celebrating Nelson Mandela’s birthday with what is perhaps their greatest doodle to date. Friday’s homepage featured an interactive slideshow of animated quotes from the late anti-apartheid leader.

    The former president of South Africa, who was born July 18th, 1918, would have been 96 today. Mandela died in December 2013 at age 95.

    See the doodles below.

    nelson mandela google

    nelson mandela gogle

    nelson mandela google

    nelson mandela google

    nelson mandela google

    nelson mandela google

  • Why people play real-life simulators
    Why people play computer games that simulate everyday activities
  • When We Explore The Deep Sea, We Are Exploring For Our Own Survival
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    In 1953, on the heels of a discovery of a second coelacanth specimen in the Comoros Islands off Madagascar’s coast, J.L.B. Smith, the man who described the species, wrote in the Times of London: “We have in the past assumed that we have mastery not only of the land but of the sea… We have not. Life goes on there just as it did from the beginning. Man’s influence is as yet but a passing shadow. This discovery means that we may find other fishlike creatures, supposedly extinct still living in the sea.”

    Unlike the coelacanth, which was thought to have gone extinct, we have known for centuries that giant squid have existed in our oceans’ depths. But unable to observe them alive in their deep sea home, we have understood very little about how they live, where they live and how they behave. That is, until 2012, when Drs. Edith Widder, Steve O’Shea and Tsunemi Kobodera filmed the elusive and mysterious giant in its natural deep-sea habitat for the first time — a landmark moment in ocean exploration and an example of how technology and ingenuity can overcome the monumental challenges we face in exploring the deep. But it is a drop in the vast ocean-sized bucket of amazing discoveries waiting to be found.

    As a scientist, I want to explore the great wonders our ocean has to offer. As a conservationist, I need to explore the vital human-ocean connection: how the ocean can provide for people and how our impacts affect the health of our oceans. This is critically important for us this century. Our population is rapidly growing toward nine billion people and our demand for food, fresh water and energy is predicted to double. Healthy oceans can help ease the increasing burden our population is placing on this planet, but we need to be able to explore, observe and learn about the oceans in their entirety in order to protect and conserve them effectively.

    I am no stranger to deep-sea exploration. In fact, I was on the same research vessel, just before the filming of the squid, making a documentary that would later become the Shark Week program Alien Sharks of the Deep. We sank a whale carcass, which had died from apparently natural causes and washed up on shore, 2,000 feet below the Sea of Japan and then descended in submersibles to observe the ensuing feeding frenzy by an array of creatures.

    Although we did not get to film the giant squid or observe any species new to science, we did manage to film an important and often overlooked part of the ocean life cycle. When animals in the ocean, particularly large ones like whales, die and sink to the bottom, they create their own micro-ecosystem, sort of like an oasis in the desert. Hagfish, deep sea isopods and the large and powerful six-gill shark all showed up to feed on the buffet we had set on the sea floor.

    Making these kinds of observations are incredibly important to understand how the ocean works. Think of it like an antique watch. As long as it keeps ticking, you will know what time it is. What happens if it is not keeping accurate time or it stops? You can’t understand what the problem is by just looking. You have to crack it open and when you do, you find an intricate and complicated system of gears designed to make this machine function. Unfortunately, getting inside every part of the ocean is not as simple as opening a watch.

    The deep sea is the most hostile environment on Earth. Reaching it requires the same kind of methods, technology and expertise required for exploring space. Yet, despite the similarity in how we employ technology to explore both the ocean and space, there is a great disparity between the amount of funding put toward space exploration and ocean exploration. The result? We have better maps of the surface of Mars than we do of our own planet’s sea floor.

    There are no doubt countless discoveries to be made under the surface of the sea, whether they are species we know to exist but have yet to observe in their own habitat, species new to science or those species thought long extinct. All of these types of findings fit together in a jigsaw puzzle that, as it reaches completion, reveals to us how people fit into the picture and how we can best manage, conserve and protect the oceans for our own benefit.

    It is imperative that we keep pushing the limits of our ocean. We will not find megalodon, but we might find the key to our survival on Earth.

    Greg Stone is the Chief Scientist for Conservation International and the executive vice president for CI’s Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans. He will appear on the show ‘Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss’ which airs during the Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

    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.

  • Apollo 11 Mission's 45th Anniversary Reminds Us To Never Stop Taking Small Steps
    Forty-five years ago, on July 20, 1969, crew members of Apollo 11 made history when they walked on the moon.

    “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,” U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered as he became the first human to set foot on the surface of the moon at 10:56 p.m. EDT. Buzz Aldrin followed shortly thereafter and became the second man to walk on the lunar surface.

    The pair, two of the three members of the Apollo 11 crew, spent the next two hours exploring completely uncharted territory.

    Decades later, they are still among only a handful of people who have ever touched down on the moon. Humankind has not visited the moon since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.

    (Story continues below.)
    neil armstrong moon 1969
    One of the few photographs of Neil Armstrong on the moon shows him working on his spacecraft on the lunar surface.

    neil armstrong moon
    Astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. walks on the surface of the moon, with seismographic equipment that he just set up.

    In honor of Apollo 11′s 45th anniversary, the Slooh Space Camera will broadcast live footage from the lunar surface on Sunday, starting at 8:30 p.m. EDT. A panel of experts, including Slooh host Geoff Fox and astronomer Bob Berman, will be online to discuss mission details and share some anecdotes they’ve heard from the crew.

    Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are also toasting Apollo 11 pioneers Armstrong, Aldrin and the third crew member, Michael Collins, for their successful mission.

    [W]e’d like to salute the Apollo 11 crew,” U.S. astronaut Reid Wiseman said in a video produced to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the launch. “Forty-five years ago, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins embarked on humanity’s boldest journey. Apollo 11 not only achieved its mission to perform a manned lunar landing and return safely to Earth, it raised the bar of human potential.”

    Watch Slooh’s live broadcast on July 20 in the video, below.

Mobile Technology News, July 17, 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.

  • Blue introduces Mikey Digital for Lightning-based iOS devices
    A little less than two years after it introduced its first digital 30-pin attachable microphone for the iPhone and other iOS devices, Blue Microphones is finally bringing out a Lightning-based version that works natively with the iPhone 5 and later models such as the iPhone 5s and Retina iPad mini. The new Mikey Digital includes two condenser microphones — identical to the ones used in its popular Yeti and Snowball microphones — and thanks to its reversible Lightning connector is now able to pointed either forwards or backwards.



  • Briefly: Wooden iPhone amplifier, SmartScore NoteReader app
    A new acoustic amplifier has been released for iPhone, composed of a natural wood construction. The Eight is hand sanded and hand oiled, making the wood structure the center of the design. Made of walnut and Birdseye maple, the iPhone dock features a built-in microphone, and its speakers are inspired by the shape of an ear, with conically-shaped chambers that produce aesthetically pleasing sound. The iPhone is accessible for use while in the dock, and its built-in slot includes a Lightning cable that can charge an iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s. Priced at $300, the Eight wooden dock is available inter



  • Microsoft Layoffs Expected Thursday
    SEATTLE — Last week, Microsoft’s chief executive hinted in a long company memo that big organizational changes were coming soon. That time has arrived.
  • Reaching Gen Y-Fi: Tween Girls and the Power of YouTube
    My 11-year-old daughter and her posse of upcoming middle schoolers are more social media savvy than many of the professional mavens who get paid to reach them. With an iPhone in her hands more often than I want to admit, my daughter intuitively understands what her followers will respond to and what will get shared.

    Every Instagram photo she posts is critically analyzed, edited and enhanced. She agonizes over each caption and hashtag. Posts come down if they aren’t getting enough “likes.” Using a host of apps like Pic Collage, Frame Magic and After Light, she creates surprisingly arty music videos and montages. And she’s not alone.

    If a 5th grader can create such highly-produced content with the technology she’s carrying in her palm, the rest of the advertising and marketing world may have to work harder to keep up with an increasingly astute generation of sophisticated consumers. And staying relevant with Gen Y-Fi, weaned on social media, is more important than ever.

    There are 20 million children between the ages of 9 and 13 who are responsible for more than $200 billion in sales a year, according to the Global Association for Marketing and Retail. More than 70 percent have cell phones or smartphones by the time they are 17 years old. About 60 percent of kids receive their first cell phone between the ages of 10 and 11 years old. Today’s tweens raised on technology may be too young to even wear braces, but they know the difference between good and bad content, hard selling and friendly sharing. In fact, they are their own individual brand producers, curating their feeds and cultivating their online persona. Posts are deliberate and reflect their emerging identity.

    They aren’t on Facebook because they are too young — 13 years old is the minimum age to join. But these kids are avid Instagram and Snap Chat users documenting the minutiae of their days and sharing their clothes, purchases and passions with a growing universe of “friends.”

    Long gone are the days when a TV commercial got my daughter to ask me to buy the latest Barbie house. These days, my daughter and her friends are most influenced by the growing sisterhood of YouTube stars. Fourteen-year-old Amanda Steele’s “Makeup by Mandy” YouTube show boasts 1.2 million followers. Steele also has an active presence of Vine, Pinterest and Instagram. This year, the bubbly, blue-eyed brunette from Southern California sent me to the mall more times than all of the catalogues and commercials ever have, simply because my daughter wanted to emulate Mandy’s style.

    The tween set, a highly impressionable cohort of girls living somewhere between pre-pubescence and puberty have fallen hard for these relatable influencers, girls who could be their pretty older sister, neighbor or friend. It’s the authentic way in which they share, reporting from their bedrooms or living rooms, that make these YouTube sensations feel trusted to their young fans. Many of the so-called stars are still wearing braces themselves. They admit their own imperfections and share strategies on how to hide pimples or overcome awkward moments and that is part of their charm. It’s an accessorized Judy Blume on YouTube.

    The challenge with this audience of tween girls is that they are fickle and fleeting. They don’t yet have brand loyalty, which may be why many brands just choose to ignore them. At 9 years old, they are shopping at Justice, and at 11, it’s Delia’s and Forever 21. Trends blow through faster than you can say “Rainbow Loom” and brands need to stay ahead of it. Their quickly changing bodies mean that what works one year, doesn’t work the next.

    Nevertheless, this audience is driving the spending at home. Unlike shopping for boys of the same age, where moms direct most purchases, the shopping of female tweens is driven largely by the girls themselves. These savvy girls know what the latest combat boots are at Urban Outfitters, the cardigan at Brandy Melville and the bathing suit at Delia’s. The online sorority of influencers leads the girls to the latest trends.

    Brands need to show their love to this audience because the girls will love you back, even if it’s briefly. Real, authentic, relatable with a dose of cool — that’s what Gen Y-Fi tweens want to see and that’s what will make their moms go shopping.

  • British cyber-jihadist jailed in US
    UK computer expert Babar Ahmad, who admitted providing material to support the Taliban, is sentenced in a US court to 12-and-a-half years in prison.
  • Never Seconds
    Two years ago, a nine-year old girl in Scotland told her father she wanted to be a journalist. She didn’t want to wait. So her father suggested a blog about her school lunches. Together they figured out how to set one up, and called it Never Seconds, because someone had already claimed Oliver Twist’s “More Please.”

    Her father suggested a Latin pen name: Veritas Ex Gusto. She preferred a humble, Anglo-Saxon moniker: Veg. One blunt syllable. So, with permission from teachers, Martha Payne started taking photographs of school lunches at Lochgilphead primary school, a two-hour drive west from Glasgow. She posted them, with ratings on how good, or bad, they were, and reviewed the meals in simple terms: “I would have preferred more than one croquette.” Alongside her stark shots of measly portions of frequently fried, often processed-looking food, she ranked them on a number of different gradients. Some were so precise they were funny, such as “pieces of hair” and “number of mouthfuls.” (Her blog could have been called Never Hair, since the food on her prison-style tray was generally hair-free.) The response was astonishing. Within a week her site had drawn more than 100,000 visitors, as school kids from around the world began sending her photographs of their own institutional meals. She posted them as well. It became a kind of crowd-sourced watchdog group to improve school nutrition standards. She argued, correctly, that improved nutrition would sharpen minds and improve health.

    When her posts were getting 50,000 views per day, she decided to partner with her grandfather, who supported a program in Africa called Mary’s Meals. The charity was founded in 2002 by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, who lives near Martha in Argyll, Scotland. As of last year, it was feeding more than 600,000 children in 16 countries, including Malawi, Liberia, Kenya and Haiti. The reasoning was simple: offer meals to poor children in Malawi in exchange for their attendance in school. Result: healthier and smarter kids in places where they are needed most. She began to promote the program and donations came in: only £2,000, but enough money to feed 300 African kids for an entire year.

    It seemed this shy, blue-eyed girl had become, almost simultaneously, an Internet sensation, a philanthropist, and an investigative journalist. Encouraged by the response, she doggedly kept documenting the nutrition her school was doling out to students . . . until it became a threat to the people who ran the school. It wasn’t her fault, actually.

    The local paper published a photograph to show little Martha standing beside a cook who was sautéing something over flames with the headline: “Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies.” That awkward pun changed everything. Martha was told to shut down her blog. The school was feeling too much heat. She wrote a regretful farewell post.

    The international response was swift and overwhelming. Thousands of protesting emails swamped her father’s inbox. The media from around Britain and elsewhere overwhelmed the telephone switchboard where her mother worked attempting to interview her. The school backed down; the blog went back up. Donations increased by a factor of 100. People were outraged that she wouldn’t be able to raise enough money for Mary’s Meals to build a new kitchen in Malawi, which was her goal: she wanted to get to £7,000. After she started posting again, donations soared to £130,000.

    Though her blog is languishing now, it has drawn an astonishing 10 million visitors. She and her father published a book last year, Never Seconds, telling the story of her journey. Each copy sold will provide 25 school dinners in Malawi.

    Anything this soft-spoken little girl does next will be fascinating, though maybe she just wants to be a schoolgirl again for a while. Her story is immensely encouraging and inspiring, and yet if you watch her on Vimeo, you’ll see a little girl so stricken with stage fright that she buries her face in her father’s arm and lets him read her speech for her.

    It’s touching to see the power of this child’s honesty and initiative coupled with the genuine vulnerability of a child her age. The goodness within her drove her to overcome the limitations of her role as a kid in a remote town, and, in her own way, she changed a small part of the world, with incalculable results. It’s hard not to choke up when you see her father look down at her, mid-way through the talk, to say, off microphone, “I’m just so proud.”

    Peter Georgescu is the author of The Constant Choice.

  • Cannes 2014 #Shingerview: Yin Rani, Campbell's Soup Company
    2014-07-16-20140716_131258.png

    “The challenge is how do you stay iconic, because too quickly you can go from being iconic to old-fashioned. I think you have to be really clear about what made you iconic to start with, be really true to that, and just use all the tools at your disposal to continue to tell that story in ways that are relevant.

    Yin Rani, VP of Integrated Marketing at Campbell’s Soup Company, spent some time with me at Cannes to talk about her new role at the CPG giant. Having joinied Campbell in December, Yin is responsible for establishing the strategic direction for Campbell advertising, media, global design and digital marketing and social media.

    Watch as she talks me through how Campbell keeps up with the ever-changing CPG consumer, how they keep the brand iconic, and why she loves integrated marketing.

  • Manuel Noriega Sues Activision Over 'Call Of Duty: Black Ops II' Portrayal
    By Andrew Chung
    (Reuters) – Former dictator Manuel Noriega may be serving time in a Panamanian prison for the killing of political opponents, but that doesn’t mean he likes being portrayed in a video game as a murderer.
    Noriega, 80, has filed a lawsuit against video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc, saying the company is using his image in its wildly popular “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” game without his permission, in an effort to “increase the popularity and revenue” from the title.
    The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
    In the complaint, Noriega said he had been damaged by Activision’s portrayal of him as “the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes,” including kidnapping and murder, adding that Activision was using his likeness to heighten the game’s realism and increase sales.
    Noriega is seeking unspecified restitution as well as lost profits.
    “Call of Duty” is one of the video game industry’s biggest successes, racking up more than $1 billion in sales just 15 days after its release in 2012.
    Neither Noriega’s attorneys nor a representative of Activision were immediately available for comment.
    Noriega was military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989. He was an informant for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, according to historical accounts.
    He also worked with Colombian drug cartels and was eventually indicted in the United States on drug and racketeering charges. A U.S. military invasion in 1989 ended his rule and brought him to the United States.
    Noriega was convicted in the United States in 1992 and served a prison sentence until 2010, when he was extradited to France to serve a sentence there. France then sent him to Panama, where he remains in jail for crimes committed during his rule.
    Noriega is not the only public figure to sue video game makers for the use of their image.
    Earlier this month, actress Lindsay Lohan sued the makers of “Grand Theft Auto V” in New York Supreme Court. And Electronic Arts in May reached a $40 million settlement in a suit that contended it improperly used the images of U.S. college football and basketball players.

    (Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Ted Botha and Leslie Adler)

  • The 10 Smartest Celebrities On Twitter, According To Time Magazine
    Leonardo DiCaprio is the smartest celebrity on Twitter, according to a recent analysis released by Time Magazine.

    The “Wolf of Wall Street” star’s tweets rank at an average reading level of grade 7.5. Time speculates that, as an environmental activist, DiCaprio often tweets about ocean conservation and global warming, which most likely helped him earn the top spot.

    For their study, Time used a popular reading comprehension test known as Simple Measure Of Gobbledygook (SMOG) and analyzed the reading levels of the tweets produced by the 500 most-followed celebrities on Twitter. The SMOG test measures the number of three-syllable words used in the text of a tweet to calculate the years of education required to understand it.

    Here are the top 10 smartest celebrities on Twitter, according to Time. We’ve included unrelated sample tweets from each celebrity, because of course:

    Leonardo DiCaprio

    #Didyouknow the ocean is the #1 protein source for over 1 billion people worldwide? #OurOcean2014 http://t.co/o4EdAoLqLk

    — Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) June 16, 2014

    Pattie Mallette

    Dear Sweet Beliebers, Please stop telling me my son makes you horny. Its NOT something a mom wants to hear. Love Mom #ThingsYouDontTellMom

    — Pattie Mallette (@pattiemallette) July 12, 2014

    Jimmy Kimmel

    Are hamsters recyclable?

    — Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) July 4, 2014

    Ludacris

    Lovin this UFC fight right now!!!

    — Ludacris (@Ludacris) July 6, 2014

    Green Day

    EAST BAY: By the Punx, For the Punx, About the Punx. http://t.co/fOnHLXnQgF #eastbaypunk #punk pic.twitter.com/9aF5nf0oL9

    — Green Day (@GreenDay) June 3, 2014

    Samuel L. Jackson

    HAPPY FATHERS DAY to all the MEN that are Positively engaged in the lives of their kids!! U sperm donors need not apply!

    — Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) June 15, 2014

    Usher

    .@shakira Seems like @adamlevine just couldn’t let you have all the fun #BlondeMoment pic.twitter.com/56rhr55RXJ

    — Usher Raymond IV (@Usher) May 8, 2014

    JWoww

    LOL tonight’s #MarriageBootCamp is drama & I’m hoping I don’t go into labor watching it lmao I’m live-tweeting the craziness… you ready!?

    — JWOWW (@JENNIWOWW) July 12, 2014

    Wyclef Jean

    You fail only when you stop questioning yourself and your talent #ClefWords

    — Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) June 3, 2014

    Jessie J

    Me: “Mum do you want a peppermint tea? Mum: “No thanks, can I have a hot water. #Turnup

    — Jessie J (@JessieJ) July 4, 2014

    Not impressed? In another analysis of more than 1 million tweets, Time found that the average Twitter user tweets at a fourth-grade reading level. You can test your own Twitter grade level or any other Twitter user’s here.

  • Killer Robot Remix
    Eric Schechter’s recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, In Defense of Killer Robots, presents a reprise of some frequently debated positions on the place of robotic, lethal decision-making.

    As is often the case in such opinion pieces, technological veracity takes a back seat, unfortunately. Yes, it is easy to paint those who wish to ban autonomous robotic killing as technologically ignorant — after all they may be stopping research progress before we invent the next, greatly ethical killing machine. But this attitude is far from the truth: the roboticists dedicated to barring robotic killing aren’t shutting down research; they are helping to formulate policy precisely because they understand the technical details of robotic machines in real detail.

    Schechter makes several arguments that require some technical calibration, and so let’s dive into with a technical eye. His first substantive argument is that humans already depend on machinery, so why not let the machines act autonomously in the easy cases?

    Autonomous weapons systems of the near future will be assigned the easy targets. They will pick off enemy fighter jets, warships and tanks — platforms that usually operate at a distance from civilians — or they will return fire when being shot at.

    Easy targets in war are, in reality, something of an oxymoron, and the concept that jets and tanks are far from civilians is an absurd comment when we pause to consider modern, urban warfare: just visualize Syria and Iraq, for starters. Indeed, the reason pilots and machines work together is because they benefit from the particular strengths of each — the judgment of humans combined with control loops that only technology can provide. The fact that such coupled systems work does no service to the argument that we ought to subtract the human from the system for even better performance. If you wish for more detail about human-robot systems, I heartily recommend reading P.W. Singer’s Wired for War.

    Schechter’s second argument is a fairly common restatement of the “Ethical programming” trope advanced in the media:

    The machine then goes out and identifies targets; and right before lethal engagement, a separate software package called the “ethical governor” measures the proposed action against the rules of engagement and international humanitarian law. If the action is illegal, the robot won’t fire.

    If you are technically interested, I encourage you to read Ron Arkin’s book, Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots for the real details. For those of you not about to read the computer code — this solution proposes, among other things, a guilt value in the robot.

    Every time it kills civilians, we add to guilt, like a bank account. And as time passes, guilt decays and reduces in value (especially if the robot kills bad guys). Now here’s the governor bit: whenever guilt is above a value — say, 100 — then the robot formulaically becomes less willing to shoot.

    This is what happens when we reduce human decision-making to mathematics that can be programmed in Java. Technically, ethical programming is a rhetorical device. It is like performance art, meant to broaden one’s perspectives. It is not a technical solution to the problem of making robots ethical, for real. Schechter’s writing is unintentionally mixing an aspirational metaphor with real-world engineering, and that is a disservice to the readership.

    Then there is the third and last argument that I will engage — a classical example of value hierarchy from the study rhetoric. Schechter points out the war is terrible and evil:

    But why is raining bombs down on someone from 20,000 feet any better?

    His point is, simply put, that war sucks. People are unethical. Killing is already rampant. And therefore robots might be better, even if they’re not perfect. This sets up a false argument in favor of robot killing, simply by distracting you with the horror of non-robot killing. I remember the CEO of a robot manipulator company years ago justifying the unemployment caused by assembly line automation by stating, “Far more jobs are lost to outsourcing than to automation with our robot arm.” Yes, that’s irrelevant to the ethics of his product. But it is a rhetorically useful effort in distraction.

    In the end, even a primitive level of lethal decision-making, done well, would require robots to understand social culture, to perceive the world at least as well as we humans and to understand, deeply, the ramifications of their actions. Those are problems that Artificial Intelligence researchers continue to work on to realize their dreams of truly intelligent machines.

    The goal is many, many decades away; and banning killer robots will not impede this research in the least. Schechter’s choice is a false one: the ban on killer robots is rational, humanitarian and, on balance, the far better option.

  • eBay earnings beat expectations
    Online retailer eBay reports profits of $676m during the period from March to June, beating analyst expectations after a ‘challenging quarter’.
  • Here's How To Get HBO Without Paying For Cable
    Still holding on to your cable TV so you can keep HBO? Already cut the cord and regretting it knowing you can’t watch “The Leftovers”? Did your ex’s roommate’s dad change his HBO Go login that you were (secretly) using?

    We feel your pain, but we also have some incredibly good news. There is now a way you can still have HBO (legally!) without paying a ridiculous cable bill or borrowing logins. According the the Wall Street Journal, a handful of cable and Internet providers have package deals that allow you to get HBO and Internet only, but they’re kind of secret. Here’s what you need to ask for:

    • Comcast offers “Internet Plus”, which is Internet with 10+ channels, HBO and HBO Go.
    • Time Warner Cable offers “Starter TV + HBO,” which includes 20+ channels with HBO and HBO Go. To get Internet though, you’ll need to add a separate plan.
    • Verizon FiOS offers Internet, HBO or Showtime and local channels with the package deal “50/25 Mbps + Local News and Sports + HBO (or Showtime).”
    • AT&T U-Verse offers “HBO Internet Plus,” which is just what it sounds like.

    If your local company doesn’t offer any of these great plans then, well, we guess you’ll just have to move (anything for “Game of Thrones”).

    [via Wall Street Journal]

  • DirecTV reveals digital-only NFL Sunday Ticket subscriptions
    Satellite TV provider DirecTV has announced its first digital-only subscription plans for NFL Sunday Ticket. Subscribers will have to wait until September 7th for the first games, and will only be able to watch out-of-market events, but will have access to them on phones, tablets, computers, and/or consoles without also having to have a satellite or cable package. Costs begin at $200 for a subscription covering phones, tablets, and computers. A separate console-only plan is $240; the $330 Max plan covers all devices, and further includes access to the Red Zone channel and DirecTV’s new Fant



  • Yes, You Can Now Have A Drone Photograph Your Wedding
    When it comes to wedding photography, the sky’s the limit — literally.

    Iowa-based Picture Perfect Portrait and Design is offering a brand new service to brides and grooms looking for unique ways to capture their wedding: drone photography.

    Owner and photographer Dale Stierman said the idea came to him after seeing drones used for real estate.

    “I thought it was a great idea and just knew there was an angle for wedding photography,” he told The Huffington Post. “There are endless possibilities for camera angles that no other photographer can get.”

    Stierman shot a wedding via drone recently at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, Iowa, which sits right on the Mississippi river. This was the result:

    2014-07-16-DroneWedding2_pictureperfect.jpg
    Photo courtesy of Picture Perfect Portrait & Design

    According to Stierman, this is a normally impossible shot to get — “Airplanes can’t get low enough to do it.” Here’s another shot with the bridal party:

    2014-07-16-dronewedding_PicturePerfect.jpg
    Photo courtesy of Picture Perfect Portrait & Design

    Of course, it’s not an easy operation. “You can’t shoot a whole wedding with a drone, but you can shoot it for about 30 minutes,” Stierman said. That means everything has to be planned out before the Big Day.

    “We plan it out about a week before the wedding, then we have the shots set up when it’s time to shoot,” he said.

    In order to make sure each 30-minute session runs smoothly, Stierman communicates by two-way radio with a team on the ground, who directs the wedding party on where to go and what to do. He also has an expert flyer controlling the drone.

    “The whole thing’s remarkable,” he said.

    Couples can add a drone shoot to their photography package for about $400. The company has the capability to shoot all over the U.S.

    What do you think — would you want a drone to photograph your wedding?

    Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Sign up for our newsletter here.

  • Facebook Is Just Giving Away Free Internet To Some Teens
    Facebook is giving students access to the Internet.

    On Tuesday, the company announced a new pilot program to provide free Wi-Fi access to high school students in Forest City, North Carolina, a Facebook data center site. The company is working with a North Carolina-based nonprofit Internet provider called PANGAEA, Tech Crunch notes.

    In recent months, Facebook was thought to be losing its appeal among teens, though a recent survey from Forrester Research found that younger people are using the site in greater numbers and with more frequency than other social networks. But Facebook once admitted during an earnings call last year that it was having trouble keeping young teens on the site.

    Facebook is building off a previous initiative by Rutherford County Schools that provided more than 6,000 of the district’s middle and high school students with personal laptops. Administrative officials soon learned that nearly half of those students had no access to Wi-Fi at home, the statement said.

    As of right now, Facebook says it is providing the service to 75-100 homes in neighborhoods surrounding a school. The company worked with the town to create and establish Wi-Fi end points that give the entire area coverage. Facebook says it hopes to expand the program if the trial is successful.

    This program is still very early in its development,” Facebook’s Keven McCammon wrote in an announcement. “And we all have a lot of work to do to build out this network and ensure that it performs well for the students who need it.”

  • Finally! A Beautiful Piece of Wearable Tech

    Over the past year, several wearables devices have emerged to give people an alternative to constantly checking their mobile phones for updates. However, there is only one device that has materialized at the intersection of couture and technology. Ringly makes smart jewelry and accessories that connect to users’ mobile phones via bluetooth to “put your phone away and your mind at ease.” Ringly’s debut product is a cocktail ring that comes in four different styles. Each ring lights up and vibrates when the user receives a new notification, and users can customize which notifications they receive by using the Ringly app.

    “One of the reasons I started the company is I was missing things all of the time because I keep my phone in my purse,” said co-founder, Christina Mercando. “I wanted to solve that, but I also started to notice everyone around me always having to keep their phone out at the dinner table and it interrupting certain things. I love conversation and I love restaurants and eating and it’s just one of those things that bothered me that I wanted to help fix.”

    Mercando and co-founder Logan Munroe worked on the launch of Ringly for a year. During that time, they went through seven product iterations and months of fundraising. They discuss their experience developing the product in this week’s Floating Point’s Podcast.

  • Nathan Fielder Says His Bizarre Bill Gates Impersonator Will Return To 'Nathan For You'
    On the July 8 episode of “Nathan For You,” Nathan Fielder attempted to boost a struggling souvenir shop’s sales by staging a film shoot, inviting customers to be “Extras” and directing them to shop at the store.

    While that may sound like a solid plan, Fielder ran into a catch: legally, he actually had to produce a movie. It was a challenge, but not only was he able to slap together enough footage to create his short film, “The Web,” but he also stumbled upon one of the best/worst Bill Gates impersonators of all time.

    “You know, in comedy, when you see the same joke or see the same thing over and over, it becomes slightly less funny? He is maybe the only thing I’ve ever encountered where every time I watch him, it doesn’t get any less funny,” Fielder told The Huffington Post. “He’s a very interesting and strange man.”

    As it turns out, Fielder’s Bill Gates was chosen after replying to a casting call (they put one out after discovering the industry’s most reputable Bill Gates impersonator was no longer in the biz). Fielder decided to take a chance on him with very little vetting, which ended up being a great decision.

    “This guy responded, saying he was a professional Bill Gates impersonator,” Fielder explained. “It was kind of a last minute thing, so I didn’t have much time to talk to him before we brought him out. As soon as we started, it seemed like he only knew two facts about Bill Gates: That computers used to be bigger, and Bill Gates is somehow associated with Microsoft.”

    If you were as enamored with the Gates impersonator’s performance as Fielder was, rest assured that he will return later on in season two.

    “He actually comes back later in the season, in another episode. I found another way to use him and I think it’s just as good,” Fielder said. “The next time I talk to him, we have a bit of a personal conversation. We only show a little bit of it, but he had a very weird thing happen to him when he was younger.”

    Oh, boy. We can only imagine what that “weird thing” could be, but based on previous “Nathan For You” stunts, it’s bound to be highly ridiculous.

    “Nathan For You” airs Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.

  • These Brands Want Girls to Care About STEM
    The latest trend of empowerment marketing has inundated us with positive messages for women. But some brands aren’t letting their message end with a campaign spot. Armed with statistics that girls are likely to be less interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) after the early years of their education (and that only 24 percent of STEM employees are women) some brands have decided to try and do something about that.
  • Cutesy robot Asimo gets upgraded
    Honda’s Asimo robot has grown up – its latest upgrade gives it enhanced intelligence, added dexterity and the ability to run 5.6mph.
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