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Mobile Technology News, August 15, 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.

  • Catching Liars
    From a distance of 20 feet, without your knowledge or consent, the surveillance cameras, microphones and physiological sensors apply computer algorithms to process your gait, facial expression, gestures, voice, posture, heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature — determining within seconds if you are lying or telling the truth.

    “Diogenes,” the lie-catching machine in the sci-fi screenplay that a friend and I wrote 20 years ago, made no mistakes. And its mere existence changed the way people interacted: Bargainers would no longer agree to meet in person, juries became superfluous, salesmen were forced to be honest in their claims, and suspicions of marital infidelity were resolved in an instant, for a fee.

    In real life we aren’t quite there yet, but our recent research on truth and falsehood is getting closer than I ever expected it would. I’ve spent nearly 40 years studying how changes in demeanor (face, body and voice) might betray a lie. I focused on serious lies in which life, freedom, reputation, or the continuation of an important relationship were at stake, rather than the white lies of everyday life such as politeness, flattery or exaggeration. The original impetus was to help doctors evaluate whether psychiatric inpatients claiming to no longer feel depressed were lying so that they could commit suicide free of the hospital’s supervision. Responding to interest from law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, my associate (the late professor Maureen O’Sullivan) and I extended our focus to lies about taking money, or false claims about a strongly held political opinion. Since 9/11 our experiments have focused on the lies told by political extremists, in hope that our results will have relevance to anti-terrorism. We set the rewards for success and the punishment for failure as high as ethics committees permit.

    We have not found the modern equivalent of Pinocchio’s nose, nothing in face, body, voice, speech or physiology that is unique to lying and never present when someone is worried, thoughtful, cautious, perplexed or nervous. While some still pursue that goal (and a few claim to have found it), I doubt that such a silver bullet exists. Instead, our measurements of facial muscular movement, gestures, voice and speech uncover what I call “hot spots” — signs that something is amiss, that the full story is not being told.

    The typical hot spot is a momentary conflict between the words spoken and the sound of the voice, the gesture, or the facial expression. Just as important are very brief microexpressions that can flash across a person’s face in one 25th of a second. A microexpression looks exactly like a normal facial expression, except it happens so quickly that most people don’t see it. It always is a sign of a concealed emotion — sometimes deliberately concealed, sometimes just a repressed emotion. Just as important is a slight edge in the voice that doesn’t fit calm words.

    In our experiments in which there are only two possibilities — someone is either lying or telling the truth — hot spots allow high accuracy in distinguishing one from the other. In real life hot spots occur for many reasons, such as remembering an argument at breakfast with your spouse, worrying about missing a flight, or annoyance at the screening process at an airport. Lying to conceal malicious intent or past wrongdoing is only one, and not the most frequent, reason that hot spots occur where terrorists might lurk.

    Nevertheless, learning how to identify hot spots can be useful in figuring out where to probe further in an interview, or whom among the millions each day who wait in line in our airports to ask a few questions about the purpose of their trip. We are training law-enforcement and national-security officials, here and in England, to identify hot spots, emphasizing that they are not signs of lying, only signs that something might be amiss. People can learn to recognize the microexpressions in an hour, and the benefit lasts. We don’t know how long it takes to learn to recognize the many other hot spots, who learns the most and the least, or when a refresher course is needed.

    Another line of active research is trying to develop the modern equivalent of our sci-fi lie-catching machine, Diogenes. The hardware and software that identifies hot spots in real time isn’t ready for prime time now, but it is progressing. Soon automated hot-spot detectors could evaluate facial expressions and bodily physiology instantly, from a distance. Before it is deployed as a substitute for a highly trained human observer, it is essential to determine whether it is as accurate as such an observer, and to ensure that, if it were to be used as an aid rather than a substitute, it doesn’t distract and lower observer performance.

    The ACLU has complained that recognizing hot spots leads to the apprehension of not just terrorists but wanted felons, illegal immigrants, and smugglers. I am afraid that there is no terrorist-specific hot spot, but I am not personally convinced that it is bad to identify others who might be breaking the law. Another criticism is the possibility that members of minority groups, especially those whose names or appearance suggest that they might be Arabs, may be more uncomfortable in places such as airports and, for that reason, may show up more often as suspicious. That is possible, and even warning about it during training may not be sufficient to avoid such mistakes. However, I favor deploying an independent organization to check periodically on the performance of those doing hot-spot detection, to make certain that they are not slipping into racial profiling.

    Another concern is what happens to the information picked up by an automatic hot-spot detector. Suppose the heart-rate and blood-pressure readings strongly suggest that someone is on the verge of a heart attack. After a warning that an emergency room might be a smarter destination than an airplane for such a person, what will happen to this private medical information? Regulations need to be developed to insure that it is erased rather than secretly sold to employers and insurance companies.

    People around the world are already using and teaching these new approaches to identifying people who might intend harm. There is no putting this genie back in the bottle. The issue is how to use these new methods wisely, cautiously, and with safeguards for privacy and civil liberties.

    This post was updated from an article by Paul Ekman for the Washington Post in 2006.

    Paul Ekman, a retired professor of psychology at the University of California San Francisco, has been studying facial expressions and gestures for more than 40 years. He is the author of many books. His most recent book, Moving Towards Global Compassion, is available as an e-book at paulekman.com.

    To receive updates on news regarding facial-recognition technology, “like” and follow the Paul Ekman Group on Facebook and Twitter.

  • VIDEO: Out of Office reply: digital detox
    The BBC’s David Grossman looks at a new trend – the digital detox.
  • VIDEO: What jobs will robots take over?
    What’s the chance a robot will take your job?
  • Tesco tablets have data reset flaw
    Hiding data by using a factory reset option does little to delete potentially sensitive information, suggest researchers.
  • VIDEO: Digital storytelling of the Somme
    The tech turning you into a corporal in 1916
  • Smartphone stress: Are you a victim?
    Are we becoming victims of the ‘always on’ work culture?
  • Facebook Donates $10,000 To Politician Fighting Gay Marriage
    Facebook made a $10,000 donation in May to the reelection campaign of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who has received national attention for fighting a court ruling that would make gay marriage legal in the state.

    The donation, first reported by QSaltLake, is listed in a filing for Reyes’ 2014 primary campaign on the State of Utah Financial Disclosures website.

    Here’s a screenshot of the filing:


    And closer up:

    facebook donation

    In an email to The Huffington Post, a Facebook spokesperson offered a statement on the donation:

    Facebook has a strong record on LGBT issues and that will not change, but we make decisions about which candidates to support based on the entire portfolio of issues important to our business, not just one. A contribution to a candidate does not mean that we agree with every policy or position that candidate takes. We made this donation for the same reason we’ve donated to Attorneys General on the opposite side of this issue — because they are committed to fostering innovation and an open Internet.

    Facebook has made many political contributions, even starting its own PAC in 2011. The company has also donated $8,500 to the reelection campaign of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is a particularly vocal proponent of marriage equality.

    In response to the donation, QSaltLake Assistant Editor Bob Henline has launched a Change.org petition, asking the social network to “publicly decry this bigotry and make an equal or greater contribution to the campaign of Charles Stormont who is also seeking the office of Utah Attorney General.” Reyes’ opponent has publicly supported LGBTQ equality.

    “I’m an activist within the community, and Sean Reyes has drawn my distaste for his comments about the LGBT community,” Henline told HuffPost. “So I wanted to see who was funding his campaign, and when I looked through the disclosures, I discovered that Facebook was his second-largest contributor. Being a Facebook user, I have always assumed that it was pro-equality and pro-diversity, so it shocked me.”

    In the “Reasons for Signing” section of the petition, one commenter wrote: “As a gay man and an avid user of Facebook, I can’t understand how a company that values diversity and inclusion would give this politician money! My marriage is something that he [Reyes] is fighting very hard against.”

  • Photos From Ferguson And 1960s Protests Side By Side Make It Clear How Little Has Changed
    A young black man in sunglasses holds a sign with bold print in full view of the camera: “I AM A MAN.”

    The word “am” is underlined. He’s not just stressing the word, he’s insisting on it. Around him, there are others with similar signs, black ink on white paper. Some look into the camera lens, some stare ahead, defiant.

    For years, this description would have fit the iconic Builder Levy photograph captured during the 1968 wildcat sanitation strike in Memphis, Tennessee, shortly after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. But as of a few days ago, people are finding a second photograph far too similar.

    Still fighting to be recognized as human beings 50 years later. #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/VPpzhURS9b

    — zellie (@zellieimani) August 14, 2014

    Michael Brown, 18, was walking in his grandmother’s neighborhood in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9 when he was fatally shot by a police officer.

    A crowd gathered around the site, as did a flock of police cars. Tensions grew. The “militarized” police response to the protests that followed set armored vehicles, tear gas and rubber bullets against civilians.

    For many, the scene in Ferguson looks like something out of the 1960s, when such responses were far too common.

    Internet users across the country soon began uploading photos of the police response to civil rights protests and photos from Ferguson and comparing them side by side. The similarities are striking, as are the questions they raise.

    Someone please remind me what year it is again? #ferguson pic.twitter.com/33cebmojwV

    — Brenna Muncy (@brennamuncy) August 10, 2014

    Left: Police dogs attack protester in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. Right: A police dog in front of protesters in Ferguson.

    The Civil Rights Act is 50 years old. These two pictures were taken 50 years apart. Behold our progress. #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/8PNn8eteO2

    — Jackie Summers (@jackfrombkln) August 13, 2014

    Left: Police officers stare down civil rights activists marching to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965. Right: Police officers stare down a group of protesters.

    The #Ferguson police look more militarized now than the actual National Guard, here from the 1967 Newark riots: pic.twitter.com/qk3CKqSp8o

    — Mike Konczal (@rortybomb) August 13, 2014

    Top: Armed National Guardsmen advance toward a little boy during the 1967 Newark Riots. Bottom: Armed police officers advance toward an unarmed protester.

    Top: A sign reading “NO KILLER COPS IN OUR COMMUNITY” is held aloft by a protester. Bottom: Protester holds sign reading “KILLER COPS WILL NOT GO FREE!” during the 1964 Harlem Riots.

    Ferguson has happened before. In America. A lot. Just didn’t get tweeted. pic.twitter.com/fvvePyvgRl

    — Evan Hill (@evanchill) August 14, 2014

    National Guardsmen march toward smoke from the 1965 Watts Riots’ streetfires.

  • Apple, Google: Cure the Tall Video Epidemic

    While recently riding the A train to midtown Manhattan, a drunk homeless gentleman occasionally sipping from a near-empty bottle of gin was, er, “entertaining” the shoulder-to-shoulder riders in the crowded car with a somewhat stilted serenade of something resembling a song.

    Two bemused passengers decided to video record the, er, performance, with their smartphones and tablets. (Note: the video above is NOT the one I witnessed, but merely an example.)

    I was fascinated — not by the unfortunate yowling soul and not why the passengers felt compelled to digitally capture this pathetic man’s misery, but by the way these amateur archivists were holding their smartphones and tablets to video record the sad tableau.


    You see, if you hold your smartphone or tablet vertically to shoot video, you are going to end up with a vertical video. A tall, thin video. Appropriate maybe to record a LeBron James dunk, a rocket launch or a nasty Anthony Weiner selfie, but not much else.

    Tall video is an act against nature. We have two eyes — to see wide (and to make sure a predator isn’t sneaking up on us). Shooting a tall video is like experiencing life while wearing an eye patch and blinders on either side of our one remaining good eye, as bizarely as that might look.

    But I kind of understand this portrait positioning propensity. It’s a leftover from the Flip Video craze a few years back. Flip video recorders, and most of their pre-iPhone copycat ilk, were held vertically, yet still captured widescreen videos. As Flip owners graduated to a smartphone, they retained Flip’s hold-tall shooting style, ignoring the tall smartphone result.

    You’d think that after the first tall video you viewed, you’d get the message and turn your phone sideways, to so-called landscape-mode, to capture future footage. After all, everywhere you go, movies are widescreen. Do you ever see tall movies? Can you imagine the uproar at your local multiplex if Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was projected on a screen shaped like the Washington Monument?

    Of course not. So why would you hold your smartphone vertically to shoot widescreen video? Do you think the phone will magically turn that tall image on your smartphone display sideways? Smartphones may be smart — but they’re not THAT smart.

    But they could be.

    Apple or Google to the rescue?

    Apple’s updated iOS 8 is due with the iPhone 6 in about a month. It’d be great if the geniuses in Cupertino, along with Android engineers, made the video capture mode widescreen as the default, regardless of how one holds the phone, with the widescreen video simply displayed across the top of the tall display. If either Apple or Google actually think someone wants to shoot a tall video, just make “Tall” an option.

    Now that I think about it, we don’t have to wait for Google. Since the Android operating system is eminently futz-able, any of the leading Android phone makers — Samsung, HTC, LG, Motorola, et al — could easily institute widescreen video as the default video recording setting regardless of the position in which the phone is held. If one maker did it, perhaps the others would follow.

    But until Apple, Google or a major Android phone maker correct this video recording orientation issue, please follow these simple rules for shooting video with your smartphone:

    Rule #1: Hold your smartphone or tablet horizontally.

    Rule #2: See Rule #1.

    And if you spy other vertical videographers, gently suggest they rotate their smartphone or tablet 90 degrees. They may look initially annoyed at your interference, but will eventually (and literally) see the widescreen benefits.

  • Lenovo bucks market trend with strong PC sales
    Lenovo has reported net profits of $214m for the quarter ending 30 June, up 23% compared with the same period a year ago
  • Higher-end iPhone 6 models may get sapphire screens, says WSJ
    Apple is “considering” using sapphire screens for more expensive models of the new iPhones it’s planning to ship this fall, sources tell the Wall Street Journal. The prospect is said to be dependent on whether or not it can get enough sapphire. Numerous earlier reports have gone back and forth about whether Apple will use the material, which is costly in large part because it’s in short supply.

  • Have Social Media Researchers Taken Permanent Leave of their Senses?

    Certainly it’s disturbing that social media sites allow researchers to manipulate us. But what’s even more disturbing is that some of these scientists (such as Jeffrey T. Hancock, co-author of the infamous Facebook study in which the posts of 700,000 non-consenting users were manipulated to see how this affected their emotions) now seem to want to pretend that the relative ease with which research can be conducted on the internet has given rise to a brand new ethical dilemma: is it permissible to conduct research on unwitting internet users? (see Vindu Goel’s NYT article, 8/13/14)

    In Goel’s article, Hancock is quoted as saying, “I liken it a little bit to when chemistry got the microscope.” Well, sure, and it’s fine to deceive and manipulate microorganisms in a petri dish, as far as that goes. But that doesn’t explain why Hancock would be so baffled at the outrage that followed the disclosure of his study. Humans are not microorganisms, and the invention of social media sites does not mean that our society’s core moral values have changed in some way that now makes it permissible for human beings to be deceived and manipulated.

    In other words, the ethics of scientific research remain unchanged: you still need to get the subject’s informed consent. This involves giving the subject the answers to such questions as: what are the possible side effects? (Of the 700,000 involved in the Facebook study, presumably at least a few of them developed symptoms such as anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, etc.); what legal rights are the subjects giving up?; what is the purpose of the study?; and, will the results of the experiment be freely disseminated, as legitimate scientific research is supposed to be, or will the results be available only to a select few corporate or government officials?

    Of course, knowing the answers to such questions will influence the proposed subject’s decision as to whether or not to participate. And that’s apparently what some researchers don’t like. But then again, they never have liked this aspect of human-based research. It’s inconvenient. It makes things much harder on them. And that’s as it should be. We wouldn’t allow researchers to slip a drug in the water supply for an entire city of 700,000 people in order to study its effects on their emotions.

  • TODAY Live Stream – Barry Wacksman and Chris Stutzman on #AOLBUILD Moderated by @SHINGY

    From digital ad agency R/GA, authors Barry Wacksman and Chris Stutzman take the #AOLBUILD stage to present their new book “Connected by Design”, which identifies the seven principles companies must follow to create and deliver new value for customers and capture new revenue.

    Tune in to the #AOLBUILD live stream TODAY at 4:30PM (EST) HERE on AOLBUILD.COM

  • What Do I Need to Know and When Do I Need to Know It?
    Another day, another big hack discovered. According to reports from the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications, a small group of cyber criminals based out of Russia were apparently able to collect around 1.2 billion usernames and passwords from more than 400,000 websites globally. The company that identified the hack, Hold Security, estimates that this hack is impacts more than 500 million people. Think about it: nearly one in ten people worldwide were apparently impacted by this attack. If true, wow.

    Hold Security also – at least initially – said that for a fee it would provide website operators with information that would enable them to determine whether they were breached and would assist with future ongoing threat monitoring.

    I won’t go into the merits of the decision of Hold Security to charge for the information it has collected … that’s a discussion for another day. But it does raise an interesting series of questions about what one should do if it comes across evidence showing a website breach or if a company has an obligation to track down this kind of information.

    This type of situation is typically much cleaner when the entity retaining the information about the breach is a law enforcement agency. Odds are officials will notify you of the breach, even if they will not share details of how they learned of the attack or when. Congress is also trying to make this kind of scenario less complicated by allowing for increased information sharing between the public and private sector. Of course that effort is stymied in large part due to concerns about protecting the privacy of individuals (thank you very much Mr. Snowden).

    For me, the most interesting questions though relate to what a business owner should do in this kind of situation. Do they pay up to the security vendor to find out whether their digital house has been broken in to? Are they obligated to do so under any kind of express or implied obligation? Or perhaps they follow the old Sgt. Schultz defense (“I see no-zing, NO-ZING!!”). And if they do pay the “security fee”, can they seek reimbursement from insurance carriers for the money spent, much less the money spent to identify and fix the vulnerability as well as any associated damages.

    I am not sure where this is going to go, but it is certainly a thread worth following. Most would agree that cyber intrusions are only becoming more numerous, and so companies – and in particular their directors and officers – are going to have to confront these kinds of issues sooner or later. I would note that there are certainly are plenty of tools already available that can help detect these kinds of attacks (automated information sharing, continuous monitoring, etc.), but the cost of those tools may not be within every company’s budget.

    Still, the fundamental question remains; how far does a company have to go to find out whether it has suffered a breach? Some sort of line has to be set, if for no reason other than letting companies know what they should do every time someone says “Hey, pssst, buddy, pay me $50 and I’ll tell you if you were hacked today.”

  • 9 Tech Tips for Long-Distance Dating: A Tinder Success Story
    Co-written with Corey Jones

    Caitlin: I first met Corey when I asked him, “is that your twin?

    Seriously, who does that — posts a picture, of himself and his (nearly identical) twin — on a dating app? After my initial confusion, I swiped right, since they both looked aight.

    C’mon, Corey Tinder, help a sister out. Which one are you?

    Corey: What I remember most are three things:

    1. First was the line itself — “is that your twin?” The physical similarities between my brother and I have drifted over the years, but she was the first to make the connection.
    2. Then, there’s the fact that she pinged me first. Bold move, and I was much more willing to pay attention because of it.
    3. Lastly, she described herself as “omni-directional.” WTF? What does that even mean?
    4. Okay, there’s a fourth. She was a babe. And an independent one, at that. It was hot.

    Fast-forward 15 months, and you’ve got C+C forever. (You can see pics here.) Yep, we’re a living, breathing Tinder success story. A regular, modern-day marvel. The only problem? We’re no longer dating within the 15-mile radius for 28 to 34 year-old males.

    Translation: Corey moved to LA. (Pause for sob. And then, resume.)

    How’s that for ironic? Technology brought us together because of proximity, and now, it’s keeping us together, despite the distance.

    So — since we’re too busy to invent a long-distance dating app for dating app-introduced couples, we’re sharing some ways that we’ve made our relationship work… with more technology.

    (We also know we’re not alone, so we’re hoping to get some of yours. Tweet them here, with the hashtag #YesAnd.)

    Here’s how we use technology to keep our Tinder success story alive.
    (As for the tips, Caitlin’s are odds. Corey’s are evens.)

    1. G-chat all day, errrrry day. That moment when he starts waxing intellectual about the morality of a landing page? Almost like you’re there. You go, Stanford GSB. (As in, Graduate School of Business.)

    2. Prioritize with a calendar. Distance sucks, but I treat my relationship as an utmost priority, the same way I treat everything else that matters most to me in life. Being busy is no excuse to bury your relationship on your priority list. You’ll regret it when she dumps you, trust me. (More on this in future posts.) As a general rule, Caitlin and I aim to see each other three times a month, and we plan at last two weekends in advance.

    3. Put it in his FaceTime. Communication is almost 100 percent nonverbal (93 percent, to be exact). Even chatting on the phone prevents you from seeing body language, which makes up almost half (45 percent) of how people understand and related to each other. That’s why I’m so grateful we live in the age of video: Video texts, Google Hangout, Skype. That moment when I first see Corey at the end of a day on FaceTime, nothing else seems to matter.

    4. …And Facebook. Those obnoxious couples that selfie their way off your News Feed? To all your friends, you’re now one of them.

    5. Say “I Love You”… on all channels. Gents — its 2014. Nothing wrong with spilling your soft side out more often than you’re comfortable with, much less to your gal. Say “I love you,” and keep saying it. There’s no such thing as saying it enough, if you mean it.

    6. Get on top (of mind). Leave clothes in his closet, so he thinks of you all week. (Yes, especially those tiny shorts he loves.) Stock up each other’s bathroom, so you don’t have to lug your toiletries every weekend. Then, cook a TON before you leave, so he’ll literally metabolize you two times per day until Friday. Not that you’re crazy or anything. (Bonus points for Instacart pre-deliveries, so you can optimize your time together. In other words, not at the store.)

    7. Can you still call it sexting if it’s only foreplay? Enough said. Please refer to #3. The power of video, folks.

    8. Know technology’s limitations. Be patient. The nuances of face-to-face communication are lost when you’re forced to connect online and over the phone. Don’t dwell on what your partner “meant” by something if you think there are two ways to interpret a text, or an email, or whatever. Whatever you “thought” they meant won’t matter tomorrow. (Consider video texts, to diminish miscommunication.)

    9. Turn the tech OFF to make time for yourselves. We are inundated with events and people to see each time we visit each other’s cities. Be social from time to time, but also be conscious of nurturing what matters most — YOU GUYS. It’s okay to skip that rager for an evening of doing nothing. (Sometimes, doing nothing is the most fun we ever have).

    Once close, and now so far. Okay, not so far when compared to bi-coastal couples. (Pause for full-body shiver and cringe.) But STILL.

    Dear technology,

    We love you, and we hate you.

    You connected us, and keep us communicating on two ends of this Cali state. But seriously. Sometimes, even you can’t augment the human experience.

    But for now, we’ll continue with you, hoping for the day that you really do offer time travel.


  • Here's How the 3rd Most Funded Kickstarter Literally Became the Coolest

    Invention and innovation is what makes America great. The ability to see a problem, work towards resolving it and sharing the resulting product with all of mankind is why I fell in love with entrepreneurship. It’s about the constant pursuit of pushing mankind forward that makes me feel all gooey inside.

    Thanks to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, anybody with a good idea and enough backers can bring their invention or innovation to the market. This makes me so happy to be alive right now. Just seven years ago this wasn’t possible. Before crowdfunding, if you had an invention you had to go through the tedious process of raising capital from investors or licensing your patent to a larger business to bring your product to the market. This was a tremendous risk because without sales an inventor wasn’t able to prove the concept. Thanks to crowdfunding that’s all changed.

    Innovation is a word that describes the 3rd most funded Kickstarter project most appropriately. It’s also the coolest Kickstarter project ever. The Coolest is a multi-purpose cooler developed by inventor Ryan Grepper.

    “Ever since I can remember I’ve noticed inefficiencies and had fun thinking about how I might solve those problems. I’ve always viewed the world through that lens. My two biggest loves are spending time with family and friends and the great outdoors. I’ve used coolers my whole life and this product is everything I wanted in a cooler. It was a personal passion. I loved it myself and then when I started showing it to friends and family they had such an enthusiastic response that I thought I might be onto something.”


    The Coolest is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s the Swiss Army knife of coolers. This cooler has everything!

    • 18v Battery powered rechargeable blender
    • Removable waterproof Bluetooth speaker
    • USB charger
    • LED lid light
    • Gear tie-down
    • Cooler divider/cutting board
    • Extra wide easy rolling tires
    • Integrated storage for plates and knife
    • Bottle opener

    Beyond the allure and “cool factor” of the Coolest, I was even more intrigued by Ryan Grepper and his story that brought the Coolest from a simple idea to becoming the 3rd most funded project on Kickstarter. What’s even more interesting is that the Coolest almost didn’t happen. It was initially launched on Kickstarter last November but failed to meet its $125,000 goal. It missed the mark by $22,812. As of the writing of this article the Coolest has raised $8,286,568 proving that if at first you don’t succeed, you can dust yourself off and try again.

    Icanbesociety.com chronicles the stories of Internet elite’s like Ryan Grepper, who have turned their passion into a lucrative business. I had the opportunity to interview Ryan, where he shared his story and encouraging words of wisdom for aspiring inventors, entrepreneurs and crowd funders.

    What were your business goals and objectives for your Kickstarter campaign?
    “I simply wanted to reach my funding goal of 50,000 dollars. That was what I considered the minimum amount I’d need to move the idea forward.”

    Why did you decide to seek funding on Kickstarter as opposed to seeking funding from investors or other more traditional sources?
    “Kickstarter, and crowdfunding in general, offers great opportunity for creators and inventors. The traditional model often involves ramping up for production before a single sale has been made. Kickstarter allows you to minimize your risk and place your idea directly before your potential customer much earlier and for less cost. If enough people are willing to vote for your idea with their wallet you know that there is real interest in your concept. If you don’t hit your goal you can either re-evaluate and adjust as I did after my first Coolest campaign or move on to the next idea.”

    Many crowdfunding campaigns have difficulty gaining traction. Did you do any marketing or promotion to draw more traffic to your campaign and what do you think is the most common misconception about crowdfunding?
    This is actually my second Kickstarter campaign for the Coolest. When I launched my first campaign for the Coolest last November I thought that if you started with a good enough idea people would find it and success was inevitable. Perhaps many people may feel that way.

    When the campaign failed I took a hard look at what went wrong. I did not give up. I saw that there was interest and I hoped that with a few strategy changes the Coolest could be a success.

    Here’s what I learned:

    1.) Kickstarter is a very visual medium. I needed to advance the design of the Coolest prototype to best showcase my vision. I advanced the design and am thrilled that folks are connecting with it.

    2.) Time of year really does matter. It sounds obvious now, but launching a product when backers are most likely to be receptive makes a difference. I thought we could appeal to tailgaters and Christmas shoppers in November, but that did not work. Re-launching in July has been perfect because people are in the frame of mind to consider a cooler.

    3.) It’s critical to develop a following before the campaign. I was encouraged that there were people who showed interest in the Coolest and we worked hard to nurture and grow that excitement in between our first and current campaign. By the time we launched we had a core group of interested backers and I can’t believe how that excitement has grown. I am beyond grateful for every single backer.

    If Kickstarter or a similar crowdfunding platform like it didn’t exist, how would this have impacted your ability to bring the Coolest to the market?
    “Crowdfunding allows inventors to test their ideas quickly and see if they resonate with potential customers. Without crowdfunding I would likely have tried to approach a large company to license it from me, which would have been a real challenge without proven customer interest in this new category of a cooler. I likely would have just enjoyed my personal prototype and moved on to an easier invention to license.”

    To review the full Q&A interview with Ryan Grepper, visit: icanbesociety.com/coolestcooler

    Michael Price is an entrepreneur and author of What Next? The Millennial’s Guide To Surviving and Thriving in the Real World endorsed by Barbara Corcoran of ABC’s Shark Tank. An advocate of ideas for radical change, he has received critical acclaim for his lessons in education, career, entrepreneurship and personal finance.

  • Photo may show fully-assembled iPhone 6 logic board
    A photo obtained by a Taiwanese news site is said to show a fully-assembly logic board for the iPhone 6. Some visible components include the SIM slot, Toshiba flash memory, and what may be a Wi-Fi module at the base. Other important components however, like the processor, are concealed by electromagnetic shielding.

  • NASA's Stardust Probe May Have Nabbed Dust From Interstellar Space

    Seven tiny grains of rock captured by NASA’s comet-chasing Stardust probe in 2004 may be visitors from the vast reaches of interstellar space, researchers say.

    These interstellar dust motes from Stardust are fluffier and more diverse than expected, findings that could one day shed light on the origins of the solar system, scientists added.

    Interstellar dust motes are bits of rock that permeate the enormous spaces between the stars. Supernovas and ancient stars produce interstellar dust, which contains elements such as carbon, nitrogen and oxygen that are necessary for life. [NASA’s Stardust Probe Returns to Earth (Video)]

    interstellar dust
    This false color image shows a diffraction pattern from the first interstellar dust candidate Orion, collected by NASA’s Stardust spacecraft in 2004.

    “By analyzing interstellar dust, we can understand our own origins,” said lead study author Andrew Westphal, a planetary scientist at the University of California at Berkeley. “Just as people go to Africa to look for fossil hominids, say, 4.5 million years old, trying to understand the origins of humanity, we want to look at stuff that helped form the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.”

    A comet-chaser captures interstellar dust

    NASA launched the Stardust spacecraft in 1999 on a mission to collect dust from the wake of Comet Wild-2 (pronounced “Vilt-2”). Stardust rendezvoused with the comet in 2004 and, in 2006, returned its sample container back to Earth via parachute. [How the Stardust Mission Worked (Infographic)]

    But while Stardust captured samples of Comet Wild-2 on one side of the craft’s collector tray, the other side was pointed away from the comet to catch bits of interstellar dust in a stream emanating from about the direction of the constellation Ophiuchus. The tray was exposed to space for 195 days to capture particles in tiles of silica aerogel, a porous material resembling frozen smoke, which possesses a sponge-like structure that is 99.8 percent air.

    Now, nearly a decade after Stardust’s samples reached Earth, a preliminary analysis of the material suggests that seven of the dust motes the probe caught may have origins outside the solar system. If that is confirmed, these tiny flecks of rock will represent the first specks of interstellar dust a spacecraft has ever returned to Earth.

    “These are the very first contemporary samples of solid material from outside the solar system that we’ve identified,” Westphal told Space.com. “Instead of looking at interstellar dust with telescopes, now we get to look at samples we collected from space with microscopes.”

    Volunteer Stardust scientists

    The scientists enlisted the aid of volunteers around the world in the Stardust@home project. These citizen scientists, who called themselves “Dusters,” helped study more than a million digital images of the microscopic impacts that particles made on the aerogel and on pieces of aluminum foil on Stardust located between the aerogel tiles on the collector tray.

    “The Dusters as a community are really good at finding tracks, much better than we are,” Westphal said.

    The researchers and citizen scientists analyzed 71 tracks that particles made as they crashed into the aerogel tiles. The analysis was unable to identify two of the tracks, but revealed that 66 were caused by spacecraft debris, leaving three potential grains of interstellar dust. Their discoverers named these particles Orion, Hylabrook and Sorok.

    Bruce Hudson, a retired carpenter in Ontario, Canada, chose the name Orion due to his affinity with space; Naomi Wordsworth, in Buckinghamshire in England, took Hylabrook from a poem by Robert Frost; and Westphal and his colleagues named Sorok.

    “Sorok was track 40, and ‘sorok’ means 40 in Russian,” Westphal said.

    The scientists also looked at 25 craters made on Stardust’s aluminum foil, which was not originally planned as a surface to collect interstellar dust. Four of these pits were lined with partially melted residues that were chemically different from anything on the spacecraft, hinting they came from interstellar dust.

    “They were splatted a bit, but the majority of the particles were still there at the bottom of the crater,” study co-author Rhonda Stroud, a physicist and nanoastronomer at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

    Dust grains from interstellar space

    The interstellar dust motes Stardust collected are extremely tiny.

    “Three of the biggest particles weigh roughly 3 picograms, or trillionths of a gram — a trillion of them would fit onto a teaspoon,” Westphal told Space.com. “The other particles are more like a femtogram in mass, which is a thousand times smaller than a picogram. All in all, the amount of interstellar dust Stardust captured was less than a millionth the amount of cometary material it collected.”

    The researchers analyzed these dust grains using powerful microscopes. “One X-ray microscope we used is the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, which is a synchrotron the size of a small shopping mall,” Westphal said. “Others we used are the Advanced Photon Source near Chicago and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, which are the size of large shopping malls. These are instruments we could never hope to fly in space — that’s one major advantage of sample return missions.”

    interstellar dust
    The keystoning apparatus cuts a picokeystone out of NASA’s Stardust spacecraft interstellar dust collector at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

    These seven grains proved surprisingly diverse in size, composition and structure. The small ones differ greatly from the large ones, and may have experienced different histories.

    “The relatively simple picture of interstellar dust grains more or less having the same structures is not right,” Westphal said. “Each particle must have its own individual complicated history.”

    Three of the particles also contained sulfur compounds. This is significant, as some astronomers previously argued sulfur does not occur in interstellar dust particles, the researchers said.

    In addition, many of the bigger particles were unexpectedly fluffy, made up of an agglomeration of other particles. By contrast, the simplest models of interstellar particles suggest the motes should each consist of a dense particle.

    “The fact that the two largest fluffy particles have crystalline material — a magnesium-iron-silicate mineral called olivine — may imply that these are particles that came from the disks around other stars and were modified in the interstellar medium,” Westphal said in a statement. “We seem to be getting our first glimpse of the surprising diversity of interstellar dust particles, which is impossible to explore through astronomical observations alone.”

    Galaxy samples locked in space dust

    Scientists have previously looked at interstellar dust grains within primitive meteorites, and have also used aircraft to collect interstellar dust motes in Earth’s stratosphere that probably came from comets.

    However, these are not contemporary interstellar dust grains like the ones Stardust returned. “We think those are much older than the solar system, survivors of the violent process involved in converting the solar nebula into the solar system,” Westphal said. “They don’t fully represent what interstellar dust is like, since they had to be tough to survive, while other stuff that is more fragile did not survive well at all.”

    In comparison, the dust from Stardust “is relatively new, since the lifetime of interstellar dust is only 50 to 100 million years,” study co-author Anna Butterworth, a research physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement. “We are sampling our contemporary galaxy.”

    The amount of interstellar dust particles Stardust collected is unexpectedly small based on observations of interstellar dust carried out by the earlier Galileo and Ulysses space probes, Westphal said.

    “The number of particles Ulysses and Galileo saw was much larger than accounted for by astronomical observations of interstellar dust,” Westphal said. “Our observations are more in line with the astronomical observations.”

    One possible explanation for this discrepancy comes from the fluffiness some of the particles. “The pressure from sunlight is significant on such particles, and if the particles are sufficiently fluffy, instead of accelerating toward the solar system because of the sun’s gravity, it might not make it into the solar system.” In other words, when interstellar dust tries to get close to the sun, sunlight might be pushing many of the particles outward with more force than gravity draws them inward. Ulysses and Galileo may therefore have seen more interstellar dust particles than Stardust because they were in more-distant regions of the solar system.

    A taste of interstellar space?

    Westphal cautioned that the researchers still need to carry out additional tests before they can definitively say that these are pieces of debris from interstellar space. The scientists will analyze oxygen isotopes in the specimens; stable atoms of oxygen have anywhere from eight to 10 neutrons in their nuclei, and matter in the solar system has proportions of these distinct isotopes of oxygen that differ from materials found elsewhere in the galaxy.

    The potential interstellar material is difficult to analyze because there is so little of it. However, “instruments do exist to do these measurements, ones that did not exist when the spacecraft was launched,” Westphal said. “That’s the huge advantage of having sample- return missions. You can use state-of-the-art technology you could never fly in space, and that did not exist when the missions flew.”

    The scientists noted that more interstellar dust could be discovered from the Stardust collector trays. An additional 100 tracks found by Dusters have yet to be analyzed, and only 77 of the 132 aerogel tiles have been scanned to date. Westphal said he expected to find no more than a dozen particles of interstellar dust in total.

    “I invite people to participate in the ongoing Stardust@home project, and just have fun looking for interstellar dust,” Westphal said. “Citizen scientists are making real contributions there.”

    Westphal noted, “This is only the first glimpse we have of the diversity and complexity of interstellar particles. It’s too early yet to take what we’ve learned about the interstellar medium here to learn more about the formation of the solar system, because we have so few particles in our collection. What we want now is a new mission whose goal is collecting hundreds or thousands of particles, not just a small handful.”

    The scientists detailed their findings in the Aug. 15 issue of the journal Science.

    Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on Space.com.

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

  • Cell Phone 'Crashing' Is Even More Fun At The Beach
    An inspired photobomb is a thing we all know and love — but, as it turns out, the audio version of that can be just as fabulous.

    Tech-savvy ladies and gentlemen, we give you cell phone crashing.

    In this video from Mediocre Films, Greg Benson — who has famously cell phone crashed in airports and at Disneyland — moseys up to people who are yakking loudly on their phones, talking on his as if he were on the other end of their conversations.

    Although Benson handles each situation with a smile, the reactions of his victims may surprise you.

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