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Mobile Technology News, August 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.

  • Police 'breach social media rules'
    Hundreds of police officers in England and Wales have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines, an investigation reveals.
  • RBC: Apple could sell 75 million 'iPhone 6' units by year's end
    Amit Daryanani of RBC Capital Markets, who currently forecasts sales of 56 million iPhones in the December quarter, has told investors that depending on availability and features, the next generation of iPhones could sell as many as 75 million units in the final quarter of the year, which would be an all-time record for any manufacturer, even Apple itself. By comparison, last year Apple ordered 60 million units ahead of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c debut.

  • Briefly: Gazelle locks iPhone sell price, Airmail 1.4
    Gazelle, a company which focuses on buying used phones, has announced a limited offer on locking the current selling value of an iPhone. Until September 9, Gazelle will give customers who wish to sell their current iPhone a locked price value, allowing until October 10 to send the device in. The purpose of this promotion is to maintain the same price value for a phone to be traded in even after the anticipated release of the iPhone 6, which will inevitably decrease the value of iPhones currently owned. Once Gazelle receives a traded in device, it is inspected to verify the claimed condition an
  • Windows XP upgrade proves tricky
    Upgrading Windows can be tricky and expensive
  • VIDEO: Video games made for blind players
    French developers have launched a “video-less” game for blind and visually-impaired players.
  • 'Video-less' 3D game made for blind players
    The video-less video games
  • EE top in UK mobile performance
    EE has again been ranked top overall in research comparing the performance of the UK’s mobile networks, with Vodafone coming last.
  • Pay-as-You-Go Solar Financing Can Finally Eliminate the Kerosene Lamp
    Today in Africa over 600 million people live without access to electricity; that’s between 60 – 65% of the continent’s population. To meet basic energy needs like lighting, the majority of the off-grid population burns kerosene fuel. Kerosene produces smoke that is devastating to health, and releases black carbon that contributes disproportionately to global warming. It is also shockingly expensive. An energy consumer in the US pays about 10-15 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for electricity from a utility. The same consumer in rural Kenya pays an equivalent cost of $8 per kWh for kerosene. These expenditures easily add up to 10% or more of an African family’s income.

    How can this situation change? One possibility is grid extension. Unfortunately, extension requires significant investment and there is no indication that it will keep pace with population growth. Another possibility is distributed solar. If there’s one thing Africa has in abundance, it’s sun.

    There are now several companies (e.g., Greenlight Planet, d.light Design, Nokero) producing rugged, thoughtfully designed solar lamps that are ideal entry-level replacements for kerosene. With technological advances in LEDs and increases in photovoltaic efficiency, a bright, solar-powered lamp can now retail for as little as $10 for several years of product life. Even ignoring the superiority of the light they produce, these lamps should be crushing the kerosene market on cost alone, but they aren’t. Why not?

    Cashflow and trust are two major factors. To take them in turn:

    Cashflow: Kerosene can be bought by the liter, or half liter, or quarter liter, depending on how much cash is available. Ten dollars, by contrast, requires saving, and saving is hard, particularly for those living on a daily budget.

    Trust: Turning sunshine into a light that burns at night is uncanny. Add to that the reputational damage done in some markets by poor-quality solar products introduced in the past.

    It is within this framework that pay-as-you-go financing for solar lamps makes sense. People pay a dollar or two upfront to take a solar lamp home and try it out. Then each week they purchase an allotment of energy for their lamp, just like buying kerosene, or airtime for a prepaid phone. Africa’s expansive cellular network and sophisticated mobile money platforms (like Safaricom M-Pesa) have provided a foundation for elegant technical approaches to “remotely enforce” these micro-loans and drive down servicing costs: if the customer misses a payment, the lamp deactivates until they pay again. But unlike kerosene or airtime, each payment accrues towards the final price. When the customer reaches this price, the lamp is permanently unlocked and the energy is free. Families save hundreds of dollars in offset kerosene expenses.

    The majority of the current effort in pay-as-you-go technology is being applied to higher wattage solar-powered devices and home systems (see Fenix ReadyPay, M-Kopa Solar, Mobisol among others). Angaza is among the few companies focused on designing pay-as-you-go technology for all product tiers, including $10 study lamps. When purchased over time, for $1-2 per week, these lamps are truly affordable to all families living beyond the grid. By breaking through the cashflow and trust barriers with a non-threatening, accessible, entry-level solar lamp, off-grid energy consumers of all income levels can finally be free of kerosene. This first step paves the way to meeting the energy needs of off-grid populations with clean distributed solar for perpetuity, with powerful concomitant benefits to community health and the environment.

  • Social Media's New Dark 'Secret'
    What would you say if no one knew who you were and could never find out? Would you share your deepest, darkest secrets? Would you finally tell the world what you think of your awful boss?

    When identity and accountability are removed from our social-media posts, the result isn’t pretty. Many are finding this to be true through the use of the new social mobile app Secret.

    Secret is an application for smartphones that provides a totally anonymous forum for people from all walks of life to post whatever they’d like. Some post embarrassing stories; some post stories of their sexual conquests; some post the things they could never say to anyone in their real lives. The app allows us all to know what it’s like for that Catholic priest sitting in the confessional booth all day, listening to confession after confession. But unlike confessional, this app doesn’t offer forgiveness.

    One community that has really taken a liking to the Secret app is the gay community in large cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and right here in New York. At times, a scroll through one’s feed on Secret feels like walking through a back room in an underground sex club: The stories and gratuitous and graphic sexual acts, the tales of sex with multiple partners in one night, of orgies and kinks and other alternative bedroom preferences, are enough to make even the most seasoned amongst us blush — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Continue down the thorny path and you’ll find confessions of unprotected sex, concealed HIV statuses, infidelities — you name it. It’s like a good episode of Taxicab Confessions.

    Juicy, right? Well, unfortunately, there is a moment when the fun stops. It’s the moment you realize that these people posting are your friends, people you interact with on a daily basis. Secret constructs your news feed from people you actually know. They are your Facebook friends, Twitter contacts, names in your address book. After a while there’s that moment when the human being inside you asks, “Did I just have sex with someone concealing that they are HIV-positive?” or, “Is this person who’s speaking about cheating on their boyfriend my boyfriend?” It’s a breeding ground for suspicions and doubts. That’s not exactly a fun way to spend your social-media time.

    On occasion, there’s no need to question whether or not the person being mentioned is you. In New York’s drag and nightlife community, performers and personalities are finding themselves being called out by name in all manner of awful slander. It’s not just the posting of a bad review of a show or performance that someone saw and didn’t like but damaging tales of their personal and professional lives being broadcast right out. Name calling, betrayal, harassment, social judgment — all these things are there for all to see. It’s one big, awful high-school bathroom wall.

    This isn’t a blog post about being nice to each other or how we all need to stick together as a community, because I feel that goes without saying. This is a post about what I have learned from walking, blindfolded, into an open-mic night before the New York Secret community. Everyone wears masks, and that is nothing new. What I didn’t know was just how hideous and awful a face can be under that mask. Take away the identity and accountability and people have the freedom to be as cruel and vicious and ugly as they see fit. You want to tell someone who wronged you that they have a small penis and no one likes them? Go right ahead. You want to post a picture of it? Even better. You want to tell that drag performer who took three hours to get dressed to come down and perform for you for tips in a loud and crowded bar that she’s not worth anyone’s time and that she should go kill herself? Step right up. This is your chance to be the awful person you can’t be in your normal life. Who could resist such an opportunity?

    Sure, it’s fun to hear people’s confessions and secrets. Not a whole lot has changed from the days in the schoolyard when you heard about Susie BigBoobs showing Bobby McFootball her tits behind the gymnasium. People still get a kick out of knowing what they shouldn’t know, and because of that, apps like Secret will always remain popular. The part that scares me is that in the world we have now, we continue to come up with ways to be awful to each other. Bullying and taunting follow people through their entire lives, and it’s not just a problem for our children. Just ask the drag queen who was brought to tears onstage during a late-night cabaret show in New York when discussing recent anonymous attacks against her on Secret. Who benefits from that?

    As the kids say these days, “haters gonna hate.” Nothing is going to stop cruel people from being cruel, except maybe a skydiving accident. However, we are in control of who we keep around us, and I feel that more people should take solace in that. Using applications like Secret is a choice. One has to choose to download it, choose to open it, choose to post, and choose to read. As I said before, this isn’t a post about how we should be nice to each other and how we should be sticking together as a community. But maybe this is a post about making a different choice.

  • Camouflage sheet inspired by octopus
    Basing their work on the techniques used by octopuses and cuttlefish, US engineers have produced a flexible, colour-changing material.
  • The Fare-ness of Uber, Airbnb, and the Sharing Economy
    The recent announcement prohibiting the use of Uber in Berlin by the city’s Department of City and Regulatory Affairs comes on the heels of vocal opposition of the transportation service from taxi unions in several cities, including Barcelona and London. Another sharing economy player, Airbnb, faces significant challenges from the well-established hotel industry in cities across the globe.

    The democratization of services that were previously so safe guarded is at the heart of the opposition, as regulators attempt to protect the unions and companies that have dominated the markets for transportation and accommodation, respectively.

    Instead of finding ways to work together with companies in the sharing economy, many local government officials support the significant reduction in the number of options available to consumers by hindering the growth and expansion of Uber (as well as competitors such as Lyft and Sidecar) and Airbnb in their cities.

    What politicians, unions, and regulators must accept is that the sharing economy is permanent. Attempting to ban it isn’t a viable option. Consumers have had a taste of a wider range of transportation and travel accommodation options and prices, and, not surprisingly, they’ve embraced it.

    The long standing dominance of taxi unions and hotels around the world have led to expensive fares and limited options. These are only two of the many arenas that are ripe for innovation. In the coming years, many such disruptive companies will emerge, changing the way cities and consumers operate. The fact that there is such resistance to challenging the status quo illustrates an outdated mentality that needs to change. The increased competition in previously dormant industries will hopefully lead all players to continue to innovate and provide the best, most cost effective solutions for consumers.

    Naturally, the safety of residents is certainly a consideration of local governments, as the Berlin press statement mentioned. Concerns, such as who is accountable for injuries caused by a reckless UberX driver or damage to an apartment caused by a party thrown by an Airbnb renter, are valid and absolutely need to be addressed.

    Berlin leaves open the potential for reconsideration of the decision to prohibit Uber, while Airbnb’s offer to pay hotel taxes illustrate that these two companies are willing to fight to remain in their markets.

    Innovation can’t be muzzled, and a little competition is good for everyone.

  • Upstart's P2P Lending Platform Aims at Young Borrowers

    By Adam Ludwig

    For would-be borrowers with little credit history, getting a loan can be a nightmare. But one important group of applicants are young, well educated, and entrepreneurial–and would probably be favorable credit risks. Dave Girouard, CEO of the online peer-to-peer lending platform Upstart, believes access to capital is vital to young people’s careers. That’s one reason he left his job as president of Google Enterprise, which brings Google Apps to schools and businesses, to launch Upstart in April 2012 with partners Paul Gu and Anna Mongyat (another Google refugee). Techonomy asked Girouard to respond to questions about how lending platforms like Upstart can help investors and borrowers alike.

    Do you specifically target younger borrowers, and if so why?

    We serve borrowers of all ages, as long as they are at least 18 years old. But for sure we have particular skills and the ability to serve “thin file” borrowers–those without much history of credit.

    The decision was a product of three observations. First, access to capital on fair terms is critical to young people; money is a fundamental building block of a career. Second, people without significant work or credit history are screwed by the consumer credit market. They’re presumed to be risky just for lack of proof otherwise. And third, there’s a ton of data available about individuals that lenders don’t ask about that is highly predictive of a person’s ability to repay a loan such as where they went to school, what they studied, and how they performed academically. The idea of looking at education-related data to predict creditworthiness owes itself to the Google hiring model–it’s the same data we used to make hiring decisions, so why not use it to make credit decisions? By understanding the person’s employability and earning potential, we can identify “future prime” borrowers before other lending platforms can.

    Explain how Upstart’s peer-to-peer lending and borrowing component works.

    We’ve created a platform that brings together high-quality borrowers and investors who can choose to invest in those loans. It’s a win-win in that borrowers get lower interest rates and investors can get attractive yield, relative to other investment opportunities.

    Investors can actually browse through loans and invest any amount, starting at $100, in any loan. Alternatively, with auto-invest, an investor can simply create a filter that describes the type of loans he or she wants to invest in, and the amount of dollars per loan, and the investments can be made automatically by the system, with a particularly weekly or monthly budget. We service the loan and redistribute the repayments back to investors, making it super easy to invest on the platform and generate great returns.

    What kind of information about the borrowers do you provide to lenders?

    Although the loans are anonymous, the investor can see a lot of information about the borrower–credit score, monthly income, existing debt obligations, schools attended, test scores, and more. In addition to all the information you’d see on a more traditional lending website, you get insight into the borrower’s education, which is critical to understanding his or her employability.

    Why are only accredited investors allowed to invest, and can you briefly explain how someone becomes an accredited investor?

    Accredited investor is a definition created by the SEC. For individuals, you have to either have $1 million in assets, or earn at least $200,000 for each of the last 3 years ($300K for a household). It’s a self-reported concept, rather than something you apply for with the SEC.

    The only path to allowing other retail investors to invest on Upstart would be to register the security with the SEC. There’s a tremendous amount of cost, complexity, and risk in that path, and it’s not something that makes sense for us as a business right now. Concepts like the JOBS Act may impact this in the future, although the current incarnation of that legislation is focused on equity investments in emerging businesses.

    Why did you choose to distribute the risk to investors using a peer-to-peer model instead of originating the loans and collecting the returns?

    We believe that creating a marketplace where we charge minimal fees to build and support the platform can have the most impact over time. Online lending is powerful when it eliminates the spread by directly connecting investors and borrowers. As a platform, we have the proper incentive to reduce costs and get borrowers the best possible rates. And because we forfeit the origination fee to investors on any loan that defaults (something no other lending platform does), our interests are aligned with platform investors.

    In terms of short-term profitability, it would probably make sense on our balance sheet to be the lender ourselves, but that’s ultimately not as disruptive and valuable over time.

    Do you ask borrowers how they intend to use their loans? If not, do you compile information about how disbursed loans have been used?

    Yes. About 60 percent of borrowers are using the loan to pay off credit cards. Eight to ten percent are using the loan to either take a coding course or pay off a private student loan. The rest are split between relocation, a major purchase, or expanding a business.

    What is the average size of an Upstart loan, and what is the average borrower age?

    The average loan is between $14,000 and $15,000. Our average borrower is about 28 years old.

    What are average interest rates for borrowers and returns for lenders?

    Interest rates can range from about 6 percent to 18 percent, with an average of 11 percent. Returns for lenders range from 6.2-12 percent depending on the loan grade. The average return is 10 percent.

    Have you considered using social media and a borrower’s social graph as criteria in determining credit-worthiness?

    We’re a data-driven company, so we’re not into making leaps of faith about whether signals from the social graph may or may not indicate creditworthiness. Does the fact that your Facebook friend has a high FICO score suggest that you’d be a good borrower as well? I have no idea. So until somebody can show us something conclusive, we’ll stick to variables and methodologies we know to be predictive. [Girouard says he’s heard of the social micro-lending platform Lenddo, which uses social media to calculate credit-worthiness, but in developing countries only. He says he does not know enough to comment on its methods.]

    With many recent graduates carrying significant student-loan debt, how do you feel about potentially increasing their debt burden–in many cases at significantly higher interest rates?

    That’s not what we’re doing. The majority of Upstart borrowers are using proceeds to pay off credit cards. On average, they are reducing their interest rate by 600 basis points–that’s a gigantic improvement in terms of cost of credit. Others are paying off high-interest private student loans, so reducing their monthly payments. An installment loan doesn’t just save you money over credit cards; it also results in a better FICO score. And that decreases the cost of the mortgage you might want in later years.

    The debt-to-income ratio of our borrowers is significantly lower than on either Lending Club or Prosper, and we’re very proud of this fact.

    Original article published on Techonomy.com.

  • Humin: The Next Billion-Dollar App?
    I decided to invest in my first app.

    It’s called Humin, and it launched this week (and was the #1 trending app on launch day).

    It is going to make life easier (and it’s going to be the next billion-dollar company).

    Allow me explain why it’s so epic…

    Context is key. Where did you meet that guy?

    How often do you run into someone and can’t remember when, why, or how you met them?

    It happens to me all the time. I travel a lot and I’m meeting people constantly, and adding people to my list of contacts in my phone just doesn’t cut it anymore.

    In our new world of abundant information, social networks, and exponentially improving technology, I really need more “context.”

    This is why Humin is brilliant.

    It organizes your relationships (i.e. contacts) in the same way you think about them — by their context not just in alphabetical order.

    For example, Humin will know when and where you met someone.

    It will show you their picture and pull data from their social media profiles. It also organizes your contacts based on the city you are in and the strength of the relationship you have.

    My favorite part: You can search for people with phrases like: “That guy I met at TED in Vancouver,” or “the woman who I met last week who works at Google and is from New York.” Humin finds the person that matches those criteria.

    Ultimately, Humin will replace the “Contacts” apps on your phone with a much more powerful and intuitive piece of search software.

    Download the iOS app here: Humin.com

    Big data and machine learning win

    Platforms that leverage automation and machine learning software (like Humin) will win in the long run.

    At its core, Humin uses machine-learning algorithms to understand and make sense of the data surrounding your relationships.

    The app learns with whom you communicate the most. It keeps track of the strength of your relationships. It can even predict when you might want to get in touch with someone again, based on where you are and how you talked to them in the past.

    Time and time again, we see that automated, algorithmic platforms can make life easier by adopting to your needs.

    Humin gets it right.

    Interface moment: Designing for the human experience

    It is also beautifully designed.

    I’m not talking about just the interface. I’m talking about the human experience.

    The Humin team has spent that last two years testing, iterating and testing to understand exactly how we use and want to use our contacts app.

    I often talk about interface moments catalyzing an increased rate of technology adoption. A major piece of this “interface moment” is the user experience.

    Humin has done a phenomenal job at refining their user experience. It’s fun and intuitive.

    It’s an exponential organization!

    I’ve known Humin’s founder and CEO, Ankur Jain, for a long time. He’s a member of the XPRIZE Innovation Board.

    He has put together an impressive team with many features of an exponential organization, and Ankur is certainly an exponential entrepreneur.

    After years of testing and data-driven decision making, Humin has finally launched.

    How to download

    If you’re an iPhone user, give Humin a try. I predict you’ll love it. Download the iOS app here: Humin.com

    The Android version is coming soon (within the next few months). Stay tuned.

    Why I invested

    I’m constantly looking for the top exponential entrepreneurs and exponential startups to back with my time and money. At my Abundance 360 Summit, I’ll be sharing with my A360 community some of the hottest startups in areas like big data, machine learning, drones/robotics, crowdsourcing, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about A360 you can apply here.

    Best of luck to the Ankur and the Humin team on their launch!

    Each week, I write a blog on exciting emerging technologies and trends. Sign up at AbundanceHub.com to ensure you don’t miss them.

  • Change Your Password With LEET
    I am an advocate of strong passwords — inconvenient, long, strong passwords.  7-1d7w!Ka was my Yahoo! password until a few hours ago.  Can you guess the phrase I based it on?  Hint … it’s written in LEET and it is a famous phrase from the 1939 movie classic, The Wizard of Oz.  Got it?

    7-1d7w!Ka  is an abbreviation for, “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” The letter “T” is represented by a the number “7.”  The uppercase letter “I” is represented by a “1.” The lowercase letter “i” is represented by an “!” and the other letters are just letters.

    Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.  Gets shortened to: T-IdtwiKa, which gets translated to LEET as: 7-1d7w!Ka, which is about as strong of a password as you can create and it’s very, very easy to remember.

    Here’s a simple LEET table.  Try to make a few long, strong passwords by picking a favorite phrase or quote from a movie or book and using the first letters of each word to construct your password.















































































































































































    Making very strong, inconvenient passwords and using them is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself against casual hackers.

    That said, we all have dozens of websites that we visit and it is really not a brilliant idea to use the same password for all of them.  You can do it, but it increases the risk that one good hack will give you a serious headache.

    There are two programs I like that solve this problem.  One is free, but a little geeky.  The other is 50 bucks, but works like a charm.  KeePass (Windows) and KeePass X (Mac) are free, open source password managers.  And 1Password is a $50 very nicely packaged solution that will let you automatically create and manage a large number of extremely long, strong, cryptic passwords on all of your devices: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, etc.

    The value of this kind of password management software is that, not only can it help you create excellent passwords and autofill them for you, it can help you change your passwords very quickly — and that is the only thing you can do about the Yahoo! Hack.

    You must change your Yahoo! password now.  There is an online tool from Sucuri Malware Labs that can tell you if your account was one of the ones that were hacked, but you should just change your password anyway.

    The more we put our lives in the cloud, the more vulnerable we are to this kind of hack.  Getting a handle on password management is a best practices requirement for success in a connected world.  So check out some password management software and get a system in place.  Sadly, this will not be the last time you need to be vigilant about passwords or cyber-security.

  • Encourage Women's Involvement in Tech at an Early Age
    The U.S Department of Labor predicts that the country will add 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2022. However, you don’t need hard data to tell you that all facets of the burgeoning economy will be touched by tech. Technological literacy is already essential for many jobs and that number is only growing.

    As the future of work moves inexorably towards tech, it is shocking and troubling to see just how underrepresented women are in the tech world. Mirroring trends present pretty much industry-wide, Apple’s recently released diversity report shows that women represent just 30 percent of its employees. This is (depressingly) 10 percent better than the tech sector as a whole.

    What can explain this?

    The data seems to suggest that while the problem manifests itself in the workplace at startups and large organizations, it begins much earlier on. According to a study by the Girl Scouts of America, only 13 percent of girls say a STEM-related career would interest them.

    This lack of interest only seems to intensify as time goes on. According to a survey of high school students by the ACM, 47 percent of girls considered a career in computers a “bad choice” for them, compared to the 38 percent of boys who thought it would be a “good choice.” The same study found that girls associated programming with words like “boredom” and “nerd,” while boys picked “interesting” and “problem solving.”

    It’s not like this aversion to coding is innate. The first programmer ever was the brilliant Ada Lovelace, who basically invented the profession to take advantage of Charles Babbage’s proto-computer. Rather, it appears that this difference in perception has to do with culture and education.

    Close your eyes and picture a developer. Chances are you pictured a gangly, socially awkward guy in a hoodie. This is the image that has long been perpetuated by popular culture.

    Girls who might otherwise be interested in computer science may not want to be in a profession they see as “nerdy”. In addition, many educators might place disproportionate focus fostering talent in those who appear to be “stereotypical programmers,” while not devoting as much attention to those outside this narrow mold (i.e. girls).

    These combined forces may seem benign but they combine to create an environment where girls are discouraged from pursuing programming at an early age.

    So what can we do?

    Luckily, many have already realized there is an issue here and have begun developing programs to help reverse this trend. Initiatives like Girls Who Code have already started to gain traction, and in June Google donated $50 Million to the Made With Code project.

    While initiatives like these are certainly important, in order to inspire real change there must be recognition and response on an institutional and educational level. In a recent interview with Business Insider, Sheryl Sandberg put it much better than I can.

    “At the broadest level, we are not going to fix the numbers for under-representation in technology or any industry until we fix our education system and until we fix the stereotypes about women and minorities in math and science.”

    It’s our duty as entrepreneurs to help foster an interest in technology in women and other underrepresented groups at an early age by actively engaging with local communities groups, schools and educational institutions and established organizations that are directly taking on the problem like Girls Who Code or Black Girls Code.

  • Photo shows Lightning cable with reversible USB connector
    A new photo (below) from well-known leak source Sonny Dickson shows what’s said to be an Apple Lightning cable with a reversible USB connector. While current official cables are reversible on the Lightning end, the USB connector can only be facing a single direction when it’s plugged into a computer. Dickson isn’t the first person to show images of updated Lightning cables, but a leak from last week came from a more questionable source, especially since third parties manufacture Lightning cables with and without Apple’s permission.

  • San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed Endorses Ro Khanna
    Ro Khanna (D) received a key endorsement on Friday from San Jose, California, Mayor Chuck Reed (D) in his bid to unseat Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.).

    “I am happy to endorse Ro Khanna because his pro economic growth and fiscally responsible policies will help create good paying jobs for middle class families in the Bay Area and are right for Silicon Valley,” Reed said in a statement posted on Khanna’s campaign website.

    Reed elaborated on his endorsement of Khanna in comments published by the San Jose Mercury News.

    “Our Silicon Valley team in Washington would be greatly strengthened if we add Ro Khanna,” Reed said, adding later that he feels “we need to step up our game in Washington” and noting his endorsement of Khanna over Honda is “nothing personal.”

    San Jose is known as the “capital of Silicon Valley” and is a major hub for technology companies. The technology industry has been a vastly important constituency for Khanna.

    Khanna, a former official in President Barack Obama’s Commerce Department, tweeted his pleasure with the endorsement:

    San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed is an American hero, and I am honored to have his endorsement http://t.co/U6TSFJhLQ6 #CA17

    — Ro Khanna (@RoKhannaUSA) August 17, 2014

    Honda’s campaign communications director, Vivek Kembaiyan, scoffed at the endorsement, saying in comments published by the San Jose Mercury News that “Reed may call himself a Democrat, but his track record of pushing to overhaul unions, oppose gay marriage, block minimum wage increases and eliminate limits on campaign contribution suggest otherwise.”

    “Reed’s endorsement of Khanna is just further reflection of his conservative values,” he added.

    The race between the corporate-aligned Khanna and the progressive-backed Honda has been fraught with mud-slinging on a variety of issues ranging from campaign finance to the use of racial politics.

    Khanna and Honda were the top two vote-getters in the June open primary, and they will face off against each other in November.

  • 5 Tools for Empowering and Protecting Citizen Journalists in Ferguson
    This post was originally published on The Toolbox, a technology and social change site founded by Peter Gabriel.

    Since the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown took place in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, a heated conflict between the police and demonstrators in the area has escalated to the point of national emergency. On August 16, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a curfew beginning at midnight and stressed that police enforce the rule by communication only. However, reports that police officers fired tear gas at protestors in the streets flooded Twitter last night. Accounts of protestors throwing Molotov cocktails at officers, looting businesses, and blocking roads have also been cited. Attempting to quell the chaos, Nixon called in the National Guard today to “help restore peace and order and to protect the citizens of Ferguson.” Last week, Amnesty International sent a 12-person delegation to the St. Louis County city to observe police and protester activity and train local activists on non-violent demonstrating.

    Adding fuel to the fire, the New York Times reported that Brown’s autopsy shows he was shot at least six times, including two shots in the head. No gun powder was found in Brown’s body, which suggests that he was not shot at close range. Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for New York City, flew to Missouri on Sunday to conduct the autopsy at the Brown family’s request. According to the NYT, he reviewed the autopsies of President John F. Kennedy and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has performed more than 20,000 autopsies throughout his career.

    During times of crisis, trusted new sources can be hard to come by. The race for breaking stories and accumulating page views takes precedence in most media circles. Not being in Ferguson myself to witness how this story is developing, I’m not sure what to do other than try to inform people of the tools available to help them share firsthand accounts of what’s happening on the ground and to inform them of their human rights.

    Here are some digital tools to aid residents and empower citizen journalists in their hour of need in Ferguson and beyond.

    I’m Getting Arrested does exactly what it sounds like it does. The mobile app enables anyone, with one click, to broadcast a custom message to SMS numbers in the event they are arrested.

    is an open source app that enables journalists to produce and publish professional-grade news with their Android phone as safely and securely as possible.

    Informacam creates a snapshot of the environment in which an image or video was captured to answer questions regarding the “who,” “where” and “when” of an incident, and then encrypts and sends the files to a trusted source.

    Panic Button, which was developed by Amnesty International, turns your smartphone into a secret alarm for when you’re in trouble. Features include emergency SMS, a location map, rapid and discrete alerts, and data protection.

    The UDHR Universal Declaration of Human Rights app
    provides important human rights information in multiple languages, and allows users to share articles via e-email, SMS and social media.

    What web or mobile apps do you think would be useful for the people of Ferguson?

  • Labour commits to GDS and will resign employment contracts
    The Labour party has said it will build on GDS’s work and retain the network’s staff if it wins the 2015 general election
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