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Mobile Technology News, August 7, 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.

  • iPhone 6 Launch Event Anticipated for September 9th

    The anticipation around a new iPhone launch every year is always a big news maker and this year is no exception and if anything it is bigger this year.  With anticipation around larger displays, the iPhone 6 launch event is likely going to prove to be one of the biggest news makers for Apple in the last few years.  I know I’m eager to see the new iPhone 6 but I’m not sure if I’m as excited as my partner in arms Tricia. All indications, from multiple sources, are pointing out that the iPhone 6 launch date is going to

    The post iPhone 6 Launch Event Anticipated for September 9th appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • MyFitnessPal App for iOS Updated with Improved Navigation

    The universal MyFitnessPal app has been updated with several improvements around navigation and entering food into your daily food diary.  I am a big fan of MyFitnessPal (my current daily diary logging streak is now at day 510) and it is one of the apps that has helped me lose and keep off 100lbs (45kg) over the course of the last 4 years.  If you want to follow me on MyFitnessPal, you will find me as ClintonAlliOSNews (original, I know). The biggest change in this update of the MyFitnessPal app is around navigation.  Gone are the menu driven entries and

    The post MyFitnessPal App for iOS Updated with Improved Navigation appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Russians Mock Obama With Racist Laser Projection On U.S. Embassy In Moscow
    President Barack Obama received birthday greetings from around the world when he turned 53 years old on Monday, but some of those wishes weren’t exactly well.

    In Russia, protesters used lasers to beam a crude, racist image of Obama onto the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. The image showed the president in a birthday hat with a banana going in and out of his mouth followed by projections of the words “Obama” and “happy birthday” in English.

    The Moscow Student Initiative took responsibility for the stunt on VK, a social network popular in Russia.

    Racially-charged messages aimed at Obama have been cropping up with alarming regularity in Russia. Also on the president’s birthday, a banner depicting Obama as the “Three Wise Monkeys” — see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil — was unfurled near the U.S. Consular Section in Moscow, The Washington Post reported.

    Images of the banner made the rounds on Twitter:

    Across from the US embassy in Moscow today, Russians hung this racist banner addressing Obama on his 53rd birthday. pic.twitter.com/wqhX9ILE8W

    — Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) August 4, 2014

    In June, a series of racially-charged posters were displayed around the city of Perm, with one showing the president with a banana, The Moscow Times reported.

    And in February, former figure skater Irina Rodnina, who helped to light the Olympic flame in Sochi, tweeted a racist image of Obama with a banana. Rodnina, a three-time gold medalist, is currently a politician.

    (h/t Independent Journal Review)

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  • Genealogy: Tips for When You're Stuck in the 19th Century
    My story is not different from thousands of yours. Srul Avram Yisroel Kvar (or was it Kwar? or Kfare?) lived in a town called L’Viv (spelled ten ways come Sunday) somewhere in the Ukraine. He married Chaya Sara and while they never saw the United States, their children, at least most of them, took that wild ride through Ellis Island. Ironically, after the long voyage, most of them never escaped the Bronx.

    Every few years I get the urge to dabble in genealogy. And every few years it gets a little easier. In the early 90’s it was Family Tree Maker, replete with multiple floppy disks. Ship manifests and census were just becoming available digitally. Not for the faint of heart.

    Then, I moved to Ancestry.com, which is a fabulous program that ultimately bought Family Tree Maker. Using Ancestry on the web for just ten minutes, I can generate a nice three- generation family tree with access to a treasure trove of documents from census, news obits and other sources. Ancestry is an easy program with quick results.

    In my most recent foray I used MyHeritage (pictured below), a relatively new product that has a few unique features including something they call SmartMatch. Basically Smartmatch is like crowd-sourcing your genealogical tree. If one of your entries appears in some other user’s tree, you get an alert and can contact them. This feature makes genealogy about as addictive as The Match Game. Each time I’d score a new record or relative, it was an adrenaline surge.

    2014-08-06-MyHeritage.jpg

    But honestly, if you’re going to be serious about tracing your roots, it’s still a slog through an often convoluted history of changed names, remarriages and unrecorded moments. At the end of a bunch of hours entering what you do know about your family, it’s pretty typical that you find you know what you know and know what you don’t know. In desperation to get past the same family roadblocks I called Schelly Talalay Dardashti, the genealogist who consults for MyHeritage. Dardashti also runs a Facebook genealogical group called Tracing the Tribe and she gave me a few important pointers. Since MyHeritage lets me search many of the things she mentioned without leaving the program, I made quick progress.

    Here is a quick list of some helpful hints from Schelly:

    • Start with yourself and work backwards. Many people make the mistake of starting their family trees with the oldest known relatives and working down.
    • Use the 1940 US Census. It became publically available just last year and lists full household names, occupations and family members. A new treasure trove that’s available through all the genealogy programs.
    • Use the Social Security Death Index. I worked backwards through a full generation on my mother’s side simply by finding my grandfather’s death certificate. Just adding an exact date and place of death opens up quite a bit of family mystery.
    • Use EllisIsland.org but remember, not every ancestor from a foreign country came in through Ellis Island. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia also processed many immigrants.
    • Use the ships manifests, which are all handwritten. They may contain spelling/human errors so take some liberty and search slight variations in spellings.
    • Use military records. Draft registration cards include physical descriptions like hair color, height – fascinating sources of information.
    • Visit Stevemorse.org– a clearinghouse for helping you find genealogical information.

    And here are some of my own tips from my experiences:

    • Don’t go it alone — corner that cousin or aunt. Sit them down and let them add some different perspective from their family’s point of view. You’ll flesh things out much more quickly.
    • Visit the cemetery. Just by entering in the date of the death of relatives buried in our cemetery plot, I could access the Death Certificates which held a lot of family information including age, place of death, spouses, children and more.
    • To get any real work done you’ll need to pay. Most of the genealogy programs let you do a certain amount of record keeping for free, but to access their records you’ll want a yearly subscription. You can save money by researching on public sources but it’s significantly more time consuming. Average fees are about $70 a year.
    • After two pretty intensive months, my tree has grown wider with more information. It actually goes back five generations now, which is a big improvement over the three I started with. Still, I was unable to go back further than the Shetl in the Ukraine, but at least my own kids will be spared some of the agony when they get around to caring.

    My tree is public — if you know something I don’t, send an email.

  • Tech activity 'overtakes sleeping'
    The communications regulator Ofcom indicates that on average, UK adults spend eight hours and 41 minutes of their day on media devices.
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  • Homeland Security Contractor Reports Computer Breach
    (Updates with DHS statement, paragraphs 3-4)
    WASHINGTON, Aug 6 (Reuters) – A company that performs background checks for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Wednesday it was the victim of a cyber attack, adding in a statement that “it has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack.”
    The computer breach at Falls Church, Virginia-based US Investigations Services (USIS) probably involved the theft of personal information about DHS employees, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the story.
    DHS said it had suspended all work with the company amid an investigation by the FBI. A “multi-agency cyber response team is working with the company to identify the scope of the intrusion,” DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement.
    “At this time, our forensic analysis has concluded that some DHS personnel may have been affected, and DHS has notified its entire workforce, out of an abundance of caution, to advise them to monitor their financial accounts for suspicious activity,” he said, adding that employees whose data had likely been compromised would be informed.
    The Office of Personnel Management had also suspended work with USIS, the Post said, adding that government officials do not believe the breach has affected non-DHS employees.
    “We are working collaboratively with OPM and DHS to resolve this matter quickly and look forward to resuming service on all our contracts with them as soon as possible,” USIS said in the statement on its website. (http://www.usis.com/Media-Release-Detail.aspx?dpid=151)
    “We will support the authorities in the investigation and any prosecution of those determined to be responsible for this criminal attack,” it said.
    “Experts who have reviewed the facts gathered to-date believe it has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack,” the company said.
    USIS says it is the biggest commercial provider of background investigations to the federal government, has over 5,700 employees and provides services in all U.S. states and territories, as well as abroad. (Reporting by Eric Walsh; Editing by Eric Beech)
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  • Connected Cars in the Mainstream
    When it comes to connected cars in the U.S. — a new wave of combined auto and communications technologies that are revolutionizing the way we drive — I’m asked the same question over again: when will connected cars become “mainstream?”

    Judging by a look at the news, the answer is now. Consider a few stories that came out over the last week:

    • Influential tech publication CNet reported that in the four weeks since GM began shipping cars with an AT&T 4G LTE radio embedded inside, 98 percent of its customers have opted to try out the free trial. “It’s a scary high acceptance rate for the trials,” CNet quoted Mary Chan, president of GM’s global connected consumer, as saying.

    • The CNet report was followed by coverage by other tech publications including PC Mag and Ars Technica. These outlets’ attention seemed captured by what Hot Hardware called “rabid demand” for the service.

    • The CNet story bolstered a report by Heavy Reading “Mobile Networks Insider” predicting the connected car market would grow by more than 500 percent, saying “growth in the connected car market now is being driven primarily by two factors. First is the increased demand for wireless connectivity. Second, global regulatory mandates are requiring the usage of telematics for safety purposes.”

    • The day after Heavy Reading’s analysis was published, Parks Associates released data underscoring support of vehicle owners for connected car features. The report, Connected Cars: Revenue Opportunities “features research and analysis on market trends, big data analytics, [usage-based insurance], emergency assistance, stolen vehicle recovery, location-based services, infotainment, Wi-Fi hot spots, and safe-driving technologies.” The report makes the link between consumers’ desire to be connected in the car with their connected lifestyle outside of the car, pointing out that “[o]ver 80 percent of U.S. broadband households with a mobile phone service have a smartphone, which is a gateway device for connected cars.”

    • GM isn’t the only “mainstream” entity mining connected car potential. Last week, the promise of these technologies was noticed when the Wall Street Journal, MSN, and other Wall Street watchers put the spotlight on an initial public offering (IPO) by auto tech company Mobileye. These very “mainstreet” media outlets called Mobilieye — which makes cameras that “see” the road ahead of cars, useful for driverless applications — the “hot” IPO on the Street, and pointed out that mutual funds were big winners in the deal.

    • Finally, Ford and CTIA — The Wireless Association (which represents Verizon, AT&T, and other connectivity giants) announced the first-ever app developer conference for automotive at CTIA’s SuperMobilityWeek mega-conference in September. On announcing the gathering bringing these industry giants together, CEO and President Meredith Attwell Baker said that combining auto experts and app developers is an example of the “transformative possibilities” that will “translate into a better and more technologically advanced driver experience.”

    Not a bad week for the connected car — and the technologies within it that are adding up to transform our travel in the same way cell phones changed the way we communicate.

  • This Engagement Photo Was A Complete (But Happy!) Accident
    While snapping photos at the Ulster County Fair in New York, a woman happened to capture the most romantic moment of any couple’s life: their marriage proposal.

    But, as a Redditor explained Wednesday, the woman didn’t know the couple or how to get the photo to them. Fortunately, the power of the internet was on her side.

    The Redditor explained that the friend’s mom is an amateur photographer and took a slew of pictures that day. She then posted the pictures on Facebook. When her friends noticed the proposal picture, they urged her to find the couple.

    By the time the post had been on Reddit and Facebook for a few hours, the couple had already been tracked down and given the photograph.

    “She found them,” the Redditor wrote in the comments. “She had this pic posted on her Facebook page and it was revealed she didn’t get a chance to show them … After a bunch of positive feedback on Facebook she tracked them down and got them this awesome pic!”

    Gotta love happy endings!

    Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Weddings on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Sign up for our newsletter here.

  • Why OKCupid's 'Experiments' Were Worse Than Facebook's
    Facebook recently published the results of its 2012 entitled Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In this experiment conducted on ~700,000 its users, Facebook:

    test[ed] whether emotional contagion occurs outside of in-person interaction between individuals by reducing the amount of emotional content in the News Feed. When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred.

    Facebook apologized, claiming the test was product research that had been “poorly communicated” to the users and they “want to do better in the future and are improving [their] process based on this feedback.” It’s disappointing Facebook did not take full responsibility, state all such experiments will no longer be permitted and clearly apologize for this violation of trust and emotional manipulation of nearly three quarters of a million users. But no matter how Facebook responded, millions would still have walked away feeling deeply troubled by a company with so much access to its users’ personal data and such casual disregard for their emotions and privacy.

    Considering the powerful and sustained public, regulatory agency and press backlash Facebook received, one would think most social companies would rush to reassure their users that they were not performing such experiments. We would expect promises that they respected their customers and never tampered with data — especially for corporate gains or experimentation. It is only logical similar companies would want to distance themselves from Facebook’s scandal by communicating their respect for their users’ privacy and providing assurance that they take every step to deliver their services ethically. After all, these companies need users to remain relevant, and a user base can vanish in a moment (as seen with MySpace).

    2014-08-06-puppet_articlesmall_9439.jpg

    Doubling down

    In a surprising and seemingly unprovoked admission, OKCupid’s cofounder Christian Rudder smugly admitted to wholesale manipulation of a portion of its users’ data by intentionally misleading people about their compatibility percentages. Instead of apologizing or quietly ceasing his company’s user experiments, Rudder brashly justified his company’s manipulations and mocked those with concerns as naive and misinformed saying, “you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site.”

    Looking for love

    For users coming to a site like OKCupid expectation, emotion and self-perception play a huge part in how they interact with the site and with other users. Tinkering with match results does more than just skew behavior, it violates an assumption of trust. OkCupid’s experiments were callous and manipulative, affecting far more than what people post online. To be clear, Facebook manipulated people’s emotions. But these were not fake posts from fake friends. They were real posts about real things happening in users’ friends’ lives. While these posts affected people’s mood, I do not believe the effect was profound, long-lasting or based on false information.

    But OkCupid simply lied, falsifying their results and intentionally mismatching people. This manipulation invariably lead to countless terrible dates, wasted money, increased frustration and quite likely questions as to why these users could not find the love they were seeking. OKCupid cruelly disregarded the one thing most people protect above all else.

    2014-08-06-broken_heart.jpg


    Analytic, A/B testing and implied consent

    Almost all providers of internet services use tools like Google Analytics or Omniture to monitor user activity, determining how long they stay on a page, which ads or content we click on or when we leave for another site. With A/B testing companies can understand which of their product’s value propositions resonate most with a group or with consumers in general. It is how advertising adapts and how products remain relevant. I’m sure it would be of no shock to any of us to read a research paper showing how negative or positive ads language influences click-through rates and ROI. Not only is this okay, it is a vital part of good corporate citizenship.

    One could think of A/B testing as manipulation since advertisers are presenting different messaging to see which gets more clicks. This would be true except for one major difference: we know the ads are selling us something. We are informed, and being informed we consent to the ads and understand their messaging should be treated with scrutiny.

    Analytics and advertising research is what OKCupid’s Christian Rudder is trying to cite when he talks about these “experiments” that “everyone else is doing.” But OkCupid’s behavior could not be further further from that kind of ethical research. Proper analytics research does not involve misleading the user. OKCupid’s users had no way of knowing or suspecting this deception, so how could they appropriately filter the content and provide any form of consent?

    The result is manipulation of people’s lives, time, money and emotions and an abuse of one’s customer base.

    Corporate citizenship, ethics and the cost of manipulation

    Rudder’s glib, staggeringly arrogant response on the matter floored us here at BiTE. We understand OKCupid is a business with a product and as such will conduct research to improve its offerings, but this absolute lack of respect for OKCupid’s customers is neither ethical nor acceptable, and is a breach of the principles of corporate citizenship.

    Joseph Farrell is EVP of Operations, BiTE interactive

  • Finally, Some Good News For Anyone Who Owns A TV Or A Cell Phone
    Consumers just dodged a bullet.

    Actually, make that two bullets.

    This week, there were two different mergers in the works that would have brought together giants of telecom and media. On Tuesday, both of those deals fell apart. Sprint decided to abandon its $32 billion plan to acquire T-Mobile, and Time Warner, parent company of HBO and CNN, successfully blocked what could have been an $89 billion offer from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

    Unless you’re one of the disappointed shareholders of T-Mobile or Time Warner, this is probably good news for you. The busted deals come at a time when other major telecom and media companies are looking to enact mergers that would leave consumers with even fewer options than they already have.

    A combined Sprint and T-Mobile would have meant less competition and may have put an end to T-Mobile’s brash tactics, which have recently shaken up the wireless industry to the benefit of consumers. And further consolidation in the media industry, which is already dominated by a small handful of players, would have meant an even smaller number of giant companies controlling what we watch.

    Of course, just because these two deals fell through doesn’t mean there’s not a push for greater consolidation elsewhere. Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, is still trying to steer a $45 billion deal for Time Warner Cable past regulators. And AT&T and DirecTV are pursuing a marriage to the tune of $48.5 billion. But this week’s failed mergers at least give some hope to consumers looking for more choice.

    Let’s start with the Sprint and T-Mobile deal, which from the beginning was unlikely to get past regulators.

    Sprint and T-Mobile are the third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers in the U.S., controlling 16 and 14 percent of the market, respectively. After AT&T withdrew its $39 billion bid for T-Mobile in 2011 — because of fears that regulators would shoot it down, just as with the Sprint deal — T-Mobile had to get aggressive with pricing to compete with Verizon and AT&T, industry giants that each control a third of subscribers.

    Since then, T-Mobile has goosed the industry with a series of bold moves — doing away with two-year contracts, eliminating roaming charges for calls and data in over 120 countries and, most recently, not counting streaming music from services like Spotify against monthly data plans.

    The so-called “uncarrier” strategy has worked, helping T-Mobile add millions of customers. It has also forced the bigger players to change the way they do business to keep subscribers from going to T-Mobile.

    Simply put, T-Mobile’s underdog status has been good for consumers.

    Had Sprint succeeded in taking over T-Mobile, then our options for wireless carriers would have have gone from few to even fewer. It’s also unlikely that the combined Sprint-T-Mobile, which would have been an entity nearly the size of AT&T or Verizon, would have any incentive to offer plans that beat the bigger guys.

    “T-Mobile has become an agitator to the industry,” Lina Khan, a policy analyst at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy group, told HuffPost in June, when news of the proposed merger broke. “I think that allowing it to merge with Sprint would sap the industry of some of the competition that’s been vital for the public.”

    As for Fox’s bid for Time Warner, Murdoch’s company backed away not because of regulatory worries about competition, but because Time Warner executives “refused to engage,” The New York Times reports — possibly because the executives wanted more money.

    Had the Fox-Time Warner deal gone through, it would have been part of a decades-long trend of media consolidation. A handful of huge companies, including Disney, Time Warner and Fox, control much of what we watch on TV. Comcast owns NBC and MSNBC; Disney owns ABC and ESPN; Time Warner owns CNN and HBO… and the list goes on.

    “It’s always troubling when we have an already concentrated media landscape consolidating further, so maybe breathing a sigh of relief is appropriate right now,” Sherwin Siy, vice president of legal affairs at Public Knowledge, a consumer advocacy group, said of the rejected 21st Century Fox-Time Warner deal.

    Although we have more ways of accessing our entertainment than ever before, consumer advocates say a problem with media consolidation is that it can lead to the suppression of certain viewpoints. Would you want Comcast-owned NBC giving you the latest news about net neutrality?

    Siy said that media consolidation can also prevent independent producers from getting their movies and TV shows in front of viewers. With fewer independent television channels, it’s increasingly difficult for independent creators to get exposure, so you’re seeing less diversity in content.

    “When we’re talking about consolidation between media companies, the effects on consumers aren’t always just in terms of the pocketbook,” Siy said.

    Although these two deals are off, for now, the consolidation trend isn’t by any means dead.

    “I don’t think we should read this as a turning point,” Albert Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, an advocacy group that focuses on increasing competition in the interest of the consumer, said of this week’s failed deals. “It certainly will be a relief to the federal agencies that they don’t have to add these mergers to all the others they’re currently having to investigate. But I don’t think it represents a significant change in the tide.”

    It’s unclear how long Sprint and T-Mobile will go without pursuing another deal. Sprint’s argument is that it needs T-Mobile in order to compete with AT&T and Verizon, and as The Wall Street Journal notes, the two companies could revisit the marriage when the regulatory environment has changed.

    Of course, Time Warner Cable and Comcast, as well as AT&T and DirecTV, are still charging ahead to make their mergers a reality.

    “I think the consolidation in some industries reflects a kind of a contagion, and everyone caught the bug about the same time,” said Foer. “It doesn’t mean the bug has been killed.”

  • Gmail Makes It Easier To Unsubscribe From That Newsletter You Hate
    If you’re like 99 percent of people, you regret 99 percent of all email lists you’ve ever signed up for. Do you really need to know the latest about that mediocre band you once drunkenly bought a T-shirt from? No, you don’t.

    Mercifully, the Gmail team announced Wednesday that it has made unsubscribing from all your horrible email lists a little easier. Normally, it’s pretty hard to find the “unsubscribe” button on one of those emails. But now…

    … when a sender includes an “Unsubscribe” link in a Promotions, Social or Forums message, Gmail will surface it to the top, right next to the sender address. If you’re interested in the message’s content, it won’t get in the way, and if not, it’ll make it easier to keep your inbox clutter-free.

    Here’s what that little “Unsubscribe” button looks like, courtesy of the Gmail team:

    unsubscribe

    Google announced this feature like it’s an entirely new thing. But if the comments below the post are to be believed, it looks like the company has been experimentally rolling out the “Unsubscribe” button for some time:

    1
    gmail
    3

    Oh, and if you’re subscribed to a list that does not have a “Unsubscribe” button, well, there’s nothing we can really do for you. Good luck.

    (h/t VentureBeat)

  • 'Awesome Baby Name' Site Helps Parents Pick Kids' Names Based On Domain Availability
    A variety of factors go into choosing a baby name — family traditions, popular trends, pronunciations and apparently, domain name availability.

    Awesome Baby Name is a new online tool that allows parents to choose a name for their child based on website domain availability. Basically, the site asks parents to input their last name and baby’s gender and then it generates a list of name options based on domains that haven’t been purchased. So, you can guarantee that your child will have access to the URL of firstnamelastname.com.

    Going one step further, each name option provided by Awesome Baby Name comes with a link to the domain name registrar namecheap.com, so parents can purchase their future child’s domain name immediately.

    Business partners Karen X. Cheng and Finbarr Taylor were inspired to create awesomebabyname.com after a conversation they had over lunch one day. Cheng was complaining that because she has a common name, she’ll likely never get to own karencheng.com and “has had to battle with other people in the search rankings on Google,” Taylor told The Huffington Post in an email. “She joked that she would ensure the domain name is available before naming her future child so they can avoid these issues,” he added. “I then joked that there should be a service that does this for you.”

    Taylor is a software engineer and Cheng is a designer and marketer. Six months after their joking conversation, they built Awesome Baby Name together over the course of a weekend.

    “It’s important to give your children a fighting chance of having good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in the 21st century,” Taylor stated. “We use search engines all day long to answer our questions and find things, including people. Imagine being called John Smith and trying to get a ranking on Google search. It’s important to give your child a unique name so that people, like potential employers, will be able to find them easily in the future.”

    Awesomebabyname.com just launched this week, but according to a “parents served” visitor tracker at the bottom of the homepage, it has already been used by over 176,000 people. Still, Taylor and Cheng can’t guarantee that all of these visitors were actually parents seeking baby names for their own children. “Looking for celebrity names is pretty fun,” he said. “Kate Kutcher and Maximus Gosling were some favorites we found.”

    (hat tip: Business Insider)

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  • Bold Obama Stand Shakes Up Net Neutrality Debate
    President Barack Obama edged up to questioning the Federal Communications Commission’s newly proposed net neutrality rules, a heavily criticized plan that would favor Internet content providers that can afford to pay more for faster delivery of their services.

    Obama campaigned heavily on net neutrality during his 2008 election, but has been largely silent on the issue since the FCC voted to kill it with new Internet service rules that would create “fast lanes” for content providers that can afford to pay for them; those that can’t will be hit with slower traffic.

    Obama echoed one of progressives’ major criticisms of the new rules at the U.S. Africa Business Forum in Washington on Wednesday, saying he is in favor of “an open and fair Internet.”

    “One of the issues around net neutrality is whether you are creating different rates or charges for different content providers. That’s the big controversy here,” he said. “You have big, wealthy media companies who might be willing to pay more but then also charge more for more spectrum, more bandwidth on the Internet so they can stream movies faster or what have you. And I personally — the position of my administration, as well as I think a lot of companies here is you don’t want to start getting a differentiation in how accessible the Internet is to various users.”

    The president said an open Internet will allow for “the next Google or the next Facebook” to enter the arena, and succeed.

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said that he, too, opposes paid prioritization — but critics argue that his proposal will create just that. The FCC is an independent entity within the executive branch and is free to ignore the weight of the president’s opinion. Google and Facebook have both come out against allowing providers to charge for priority services, a policy that would cut deeply into their margins.

    “There’s another problem, though — there are other countries — and I think this is what you were alluding to — that feel comfortable with the idea of controlling and censoring Internet content in their home countries, and setting up rules and laws about what can or cannot be on the Internet. And I think that that not only is going to inhibit entrepreneurs who are creating value on the Internet; I think it’s also going to inhibit the growth of the country generally, because closed societies that are not open to new ideas, eventually they fall behind,” said Obama.

    HuffPost previously compiled a primer on the brief history of the net neutrality debate:

    In 1996, the Telecommunications Act updated the original 1934 Communications Act, New Deal legislation that prevented monopolies from dominating the means of communication. In 2002, under pressure from the cable and phone industry, the Bush administration’s FCC classified broadband as an “information service” rather than as a “telecommunications service.” It is, quite plainly, a telecommunications service, but the FCC deemed it otherwise for the sole purpose of avoiding the legislative requirement that neutrality rules be written to protect the Internet from control by major corporations.

    By 2005, the phone and cable companies had begun publicly discussing their plans to subvert net neutrality. “Why should [companies] be allowed to use my pipes?” Southwestern Bell CEO Ed Whitacre told BusinessWeek. “The Internet can’t be free in that sense … for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!”

    Earlier [in 2011], the Supreme Court ruled that the FCC could not regulate broadband as an “information service.” It had already ruled in 2005 that the FCC could classify broadband as a “telecommunications service.” So, following the 2010 court ruling, the FCC announced plans to reclassify broadband as what it actually is.

    Telecom lobbying went into high gear. The GOP launched an attack arguing that Obama was attempting to take state control of the Internet, as if regulating broadband the way that phone lines are regulated amounted to nationalization.

    The telecom lobbying effort soon came to focus around an effort to pressure FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski not to reclassify broadband, but to leave it unregulated until Congress acts. The telecom position has the virtue of making perfect sense on the surface: Congressional action is of course superior to regulatory action, all things being equal. But all things are very far from equal.

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blackberry apps

Blackberry application development

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