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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
    2014-08-18-DaveGheadshotforTechonomy.jpg

    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.

    A

    @

    4

    ^

    /

    /-

    aye

    B

    8

    6

    13

    |3

    /3

    ß

    P>

    |:

    C

    ©

    ¢

    <

    [

    (

    {

    D

    )

    |)

    [)

    ?

    |>

    |o

    E

    3

    &

    ë

    [-

    F

    ƒ

    |=

    /=

    |#

    ph

    G

    6

    9

    &

    C-

    (_+

    gee

    H

    #

    }{

    |-|

    ]-[

    [-]

    )-(

    (-)

    /-/

    I

    1

    !

    ¡

    |

    ]

    eye

    J

    ]

    ¿

    _|

    _/

    </

    (/

    K

    X

    |<

    |{

    |(

    L

    |

    1

    £

    |_

    1_

    ¬

    M

    |v|

    |/|

    //

    (v)

    /|

    //.

    ^^

    em

    N

    ||

    //

    []

    <>

    /V

    ^/

    O

    0

    ()

    []

    °

    oh

    P

    |*

    |o

    |”

    |>

    9

    |7

    |^(o)

    Q

    9

    0_

    ()_

    (_,)

    <|

    R

    2

    ®

    /2

    12

    I2

    l2

    |^

    |?

    lz

    S

    5

    $

    §

    z

    es

    T

    7

    +

    -|-

    ‘][‘

    U

    µ

    |_|

    (_)

    L|

    v

    V

    /

    ^

    W

    VV

    //

    ‘//

    |/

    ^/

    (n)

    X

    %

    *

    ><

    }{

    )(

    ecks

    Y

    ¥

    J

    ‘/

    j

    Z

    2

    7_

    ~/_

    >_

    %

    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.

    StoryMaker
    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

Mobile Technology News, August 17, 2014

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

  • OneFootball for iOS Review

    This weekend here in England has been the start of the 2014-2015 football season.  All the leagues, most notably the Premier League and the Champions League, start in earnest as do many of the European leagues across the continent.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been looking for a good app for my iPhone and iPad to follow my favourite teams along with keeping up with news from around the various leagues.  I think I’ve found it in OneFootball for iOS. OneFootball for iOS allows you to select your favourite team and follow them in detail as well as get push notifications during

    The post OneFootball for iOS Review appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Multi-collaborative Virtual Visual Inspiration Boards
    Co-written by Marc Marheineke

    2014-08-16-visualinspirationboards.jpg

    Designers harness inspiration from all sorts of things, including visual images. A designer’s workspace walls are plastered with images of abstract art, photos of fashion models, competitors’ products, as well as, previous and current design projects. Pinned to tack boards, drawn on whiteboards or taped to the walls, this so-called “wallpaper” is, in effect, the visual reference world of designs in progress.

    When designers formally present their design discourse for proposed concepts, internally or for clients, they make use of image-boards to relay the users’ persona, lifestyle, trends and various inspirational sources. As one might imagine, there is a lot of reshuffling and re-use of images going on from presentation to presentation and, I once heard a CEO of an international design consultancy proclaim: “If I see one more iPod on a board, the person responsible will be fired!”

    There is nothing as inspiring, and telling, as walking though a studio and soaking in the creativity. During my time with BMW, Chris Bangle, then head of design, used to roam the studio late in the evening gathering a sense of his team’s progress and posting small yellow stickers with observations, ideas and encouragement. Coming to work in the morning, there was nothing as motivating as finding a note saying: “Like this direction – its cool!”

    When designers are co-located, the traditional “wallpaper” approach works well. However, when teams are globally distributed and engaging with communities of dispersed participants, sharing of visual information needs to be online to be readily available to everyone.

    The previous offline information, consisting of images on tack-boards is now often imbedded in PowerPoint presentations, working their way across continents. The challenge of relying on PowerPoint as a day-to-day reference for use in online meetings, web and video conferencing, is that these tend to be static. Dispersed designers are unable to edit, change or add ideas in a collaborative and simultaneous manner.

    Also, it can be a nightmare keeping track of “which version of the PowerPoint is the latest” in keeping everyone up-to-date. An easily understandable and usable online interactive whiteboard could be one way of making online design teams more productive. This is because we are literally working “together” in order to spark creativity – just as might happen in brainstorming meetings.

    A study of thirty-one design students from Germany and Tunisia revealed that virtual whiteboards contribute to fast idea generation and efficient idea selection within the early phases of an innovation process. First, people perceived the virtual whiteboard as motivating to quickly create new ideas and contribute to the discussion (blue line). Second, ideas are connected into new ideas (orange line). Third, when it comes to the phase of agreement, chatting on selected arguments, in combination with the high velocity of the real-time whiteboard, supported an efficient process of mutual understanding.

    2014-08-16-ideaconnectcomment.jpg

    Hence, Virtual Whiteboards combine the easy transmission of information with the potential to actively and collaboratively discuss problems and find solutions in a timely manner. Reviving the physical whiteboard and making it accessible for colleagues from across the continent creates fun, a common ground, and thus supports the creativity (to solve problems) in the community.

    Designers could apply this information practically by using an online visual discovery tool, such as Pinterest. Communities of designers could then not only be more organized but also have an effective and efficient way of sharing images, making comments and using the number of cross board pins to gauge the “wisdom of the crowd.” Pinterest, along with other sharing-boards, can greatly aid designers when collecting ideas for projects, since users can create and share collections of images, called “boards,” using visual bookmarks, called “Pins.” Chat features also enable the community to exchange points-of-view and ideas, thereby making remote collaboration much more fun and effective.

    Special thanks to Marc Marheineke for researching and co-writing this article.

  • Elon Musk Fulfills Ice Bucket Challenge With A Little Help From His Five Sons
    Tech titan Elon Musk became the latest celebrity to complete the “ice bucket challenge” Saturday, aided by a delightful contraption that allowed his five sons to dump water on him simultaneously.

    The challenge asks participants to either donate money to the ALS Association or film themselves pouring ice water over their head. Those who complete it then ask others to do the same.

    Musk made good on a challenge from Bill Gates, who had himself been challenged by Mark Zuckerberg. In turn, Musk challenged Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, Johnny Depp and skateboarding legend Tony Hawk.

    But Musk’s impressive engineering has nothing on Oprah’s scream.

    Watch Musk complete the challenge, above.

  • Mobile Phones Save Lives in Timor-Leste
    A pregnant woman has one foot in the grave. This common saying reflects the reality in many developing countries: bearing a child is one of the main risks to a woman’s life. In the poor countries of the world, giving birth is both one of the most significant days in a woman’s life but also a time when she is closest to losing it.

    2014-08-15-healthpost.jpg

    In Timor-Leste, a tiny country just north of Australia, progress against maternal deaths has been slow. Since independence from Indonesia in 2002, the country has made great efforts to provide trained midwives for pregnant women who seek them, but a wide gap remains. The rural population is widely dispersed in mountainous terrain and often far from health facilities. More than half of all babies in Timor-Leste are born at home with help only from family members. As a result, many women and babies die in those first few hours and days after birth.

    USAID has been working with the Timor-Leste government’s Ministry of Health since 2004 to help find solutions to this terrible problem. In 2011, U.S.-based NGO Health Alliance International (HAI) won a USAID Child Survival and Health Grant to try a new approach.

    “We realized that one basic reason that many women didn’t give birth with professional help was that their contact with midwives was so brief that they weren’t able to develop a sense of trust and confidence,” said Susan Thompson, HAI’s Program Director, based in Seattle. “There also was a lot that women could do to have a healthy baby that they didn’t know about, and it couldn’t be conveyed in the usual two or three short prenatal care visits.”

    How to help the health system to bridge that gap between women and their midwives? Noting the dramatic increases in mobile phone use throughout the country, HAI proposed the first use of this technology as a permanent behavior-change tool. The focus for this mobile phone technology is in Manufahi District, where cell phone ownership was fairly high at nearly 70 percent, but use of midwives or doctors for deliveries at 19 percent was well below the national average. Ministry statistics estimate that the district has about 11,000 women of reproductive age, and expected 2,200 pregnancies the first year of the project.

    2014-08-15-manajusta.jpg

    The project is called “Mobile Moms” or Liga Inan (“connecting mothers”) in the local language of Tetun. The project team matched the technological opportunity to the needs of government health system and developed a dual approach to making use of the widespread availability of mobile phones.

    First, working with Catalpa International, a software development group in Timor-Leste, the project team created an internet-based program to send SMS maternal health messages twice a week to pregnant women in Tetun, the language most widely spoken. The messages detail important actions that the women can take to safeguard their pregnancies, and include advice on postpartum and newborn care for the first six weeks after delivery.

    Second, the project facilitates phone conversations between midwives and the expectant mothers at critical times. Women can send SMS messages very cheaply to ask for information or assistance, and midwives call them back at the project’s expense.

    Health officials in rural Manufahi District have been supportive and intensely involved since the beginning. Director of District Health Services Teofilho Tilman said that they have “seen … a significant increase in the number of women receiving antenatal care and delivering at the health facility” since the project began. Over the first year in Same Subdistrict the number of women using a midwife for their delivery, either at home or in a birthing facility, has doubled.

    In a recent study of the impacts of this project on health professionals, midwives consistently reported that they liked the service because they could better follow the progress of their patients and meet their needs. In her response, one midwife said:

    For me, it helps… because before Liga Inan we didn’t know the condition of the mothers. Through Liga Inan, we have their number and we know their due date. So for example, in November we know which mothers will give birth. We match that info with the data here to check, and if they didn’t come to the health facility, we call to find out how they are.

    Same Subdistrict midwives have now enrolled nearly 1500 women in the project. Close to 800 women have completed their pregnancies and received the special postpartum SMS messages to help them give their babies a healthy start in life. With support from Australian government funding, the mobile phone project has now begun scaling up services to adjoining districts.

    2014-08-15-amalia.jpg

    Women participating in Liga Inan provide the project with valuable input about project impact and success. Amalia Martins Calapes from the town of Same did not participate in the program through her first two pregnancies. During her third, she did. And it helped her stay motivated to adopt healthy behaviors at home and seek care from her midwife.

    Today, Amalia agrees with Timor-Leste’s new saying for mothers:

    “Healthy mothers and healthy babies give us a strong nation.”

  • (VIDEO) Facebook Closes on LiveRail Acquisition, our Interview with CEO Mark Trefgarne
    SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook’s acquisition of LiveRail for a reportedly $400 – $500 million, which was announced on July 2, closed yesterday, reports TechCrunch.

    Last week in San Francisco, we interviewed LiveRail CEO Mark Trefgarne about next steps.  While LiveRail will operate and serve its clients as a stand alone entity, the company moving its headquarters to Facebook offices in Menlo Park, New York and London.

    Explains how the technical infrastructure of Facebook will enhance the LiveRail offering.

    While TechCrunch reported the sale price, it has not been publicly disclosed.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • We May Soon Be Able To Charge Our Phone Using The Sound Of Our Voice
    What if you could charge your phone just by yelling at it?

    That’s the idea behind a recent collaboration between scientists at Queen Mary University of London and Nokia. The team is working to develop a prototype charger that could replenish the battery of a mobile phone using human voices, music or even background noise.

    “Being able to keep mobile devices working for longer, or do away with batteries completely by tapping into the stray energy that is all around us is an exciting concept,” researcher Dr. Joe Briscoe said in a statement released by the university. “We hope that we have brought this technology closer to viability.”

    So how does it work?

    To harvest energy from sound, the team used a type of nanotechnology called nanorods, which are capable of generating electrical energy and responding to vibration in sound. For the prototype, engineers attached electrical contacts on both sides of the rod in order to transform the sound vibrations into energy and capture the charge.

    So far, researchers have been able to generate five volts of electricity with their prototype, which is enough to charge one phone.

    While the hope is that sound-powered devices could replace conventional chargers, Briscoe admits that sound vibrations may not produce quite enough energy to do away with current charging methods entirely.

    “I believe charging phones this way could be a part of the future, but there probably isn’t enough energy in sound to remove the need for conventional charging completely,” Briscoe told Mashable. “It could help to reduce how often we need to charge our phones, though.”

    Transforming sound into battery power is not a novel idea. We first heard of a sound-charging phone that would power itself with the user’s voice when a team of Korean researchers revealed their prototype in 2011.

    However, now that engineers have partnered with a communications technology corporation, it seems much more likely that a sound-powered charger may soon be a reality.

  • QR Codes For Downloads Starting This Week

    Hi everyone!  Over the past couple of weeks I have been working on ClintonFitch.com, my Windows Phone focused site (it’s been dormant a few years).  While most of you don’t really care about that part, some of you do and have provided me a little feedback of what you would like to see here on AlliOSNews.  That is QR Codes. Starting this week QR codes will start appearing here on AlliOSNews on reviews and app announcements.  The links to these will continue to be on the posts as well but for those who want to use a QR scanner on

    The post QR Codes For Downloads Starting This Week appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Anti-Semitic Hate Speech Online Prompts Renewed Efforts To Fight It
    BERLIN (RNS) It’s been 17 years since Suzette Bronkhorst co-founded the Dutch Complaints Bureau for Discrimination on the Internet, but she said she doesn’t remember the level of anti-Semitic speech on social media platforms ever being this high.

    “There are thousands of incidents and we’re getting so many complaints,” she said of her organization, which registers complaints of hate speech online. “There’s been a huge surge since Gaza.”

    The Gaza conflict, which has led to the deaths of 1,900 Palestinians and 68 Israelis, has also sparked a wave of counter speech, with organizations like Bronkhorst’s attempting to tackle hate speech by debunking myths and stereotypes on blogs, forums and social media.

    “There’s a lot of chatter on the Internet that is not based on fact and there are different ways in which you can do counter speech,” said Bronkhorst, whose organization goes by the name MDI. “For instance, if there’s a discussion on Facebook, you join in and you try to give counterpoints to people who are just ill-informed.”

    In one instance, Bronkhorst’s volunteers asked a Twitter user writing “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” whether he really wanted to murder people by gassing them. The user removed the tweet, apologized and said he didn’t mean it.

    In July, the number of Dutch-language anti-Semitic Facebook pages ran into the hundreds, according to MDI, which cannot keep up with the amount of hate-fueled posts, ranging from statements such as “Jews must die” to those praising Adolf Hitler. On Twitter, the hashtag “Hitler was right” appeared more than 10,000 times in July in connection with Gaza and became a trending topic, says MDI.

    Sergey Lagodinsky, a lawyer and a member of the Jewish community’s representative assembly in Berlin, said comments by friends on Facebook shocked him.

    “It’s hardly tolerable because people are being attacked,” said Lagodinsky. “You have a lot of people who you thought were friends who articulate things in a way which leaves you speechless.”

    Berlin’s Technical University has just started a project analyzing around 100,000 Internet texts to see how anti-Semitism spreads online on social media and in comment sections, chatrooms and forums.

    “The Internet plays an important role here as more drastic use of language can flourish through links between websites as well as user anonymity,” said Matthias Jakob Becker, a member of the research team.

    The team has found that not only Islamist and right-wing circles have resorted to old canards, such as Jewish world-domination conspiracy theories, but so, too, has the educated middle class.

    Anti-Semitism is a particularly sensitive issue in Germany. Special police protection is provided for Jewish buildings, ranging from synagogues to bakeries, and the growing anti-Jewish sentiment even prompted the country’s biggest newspaper, Bild, to wade into the fray.

    On its website, the newspaper created a button depicting a Star of David and the slogan “stimme erheben: nie wieder Judenhass” (raise your voice: never again Jew hatred) that people could share online. It has also added interviews with celebrities, politicians and ordinary people speaking out against anti-Semitism. Bild encouraged readers to tweet against anti-Semitism under the hashtag “stimme erheben.”

    While the campaign ran for just one day, Tobias Froehlich, a representative for Axel Springer, Bild’s owner, said the publication may follow up with similar campaigns.

    “You can still find it online and of course, depending on how the news develops, you could see it again in our newspaper,” said Froehlich. “The voice against anti-Semitism isn’t just for one day.”

    Members of Germany’s Jewish community said the Bild campaign is a reminder that Jews in Europe are generally safe and that while anti-Semitism is a reality, it’s mainly kept in check.

    “The online world is a tool of propaganda for hate speech against everyone,” said 29-year-old Giulia Pines Kersthold, a Jewish New Yorker and author who has lived in Berlin for six years. But she added: “I have never really felt unsafe as a Jew in Germany and I would say that I still don’t.”

    In France, where pro-Palestinian demonstrations in July culminated in attacks on eight synagogues, many Jews are fleeing to Israel.

    Between January and June, 2,830 French Jews emigrated to Israel. That number is expected to exceed 5,000 by the end of 2014 — marking the first time in modern history that a full 1 percent of a western Jewish community will move to Israel in a single year, according to the Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency for Israel. In 2013, 3,288 French Jews left for Israel.

    Yonathan Arfi, vice president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, called the anti-Semitic surge a new phenomenon that has intensified thanks to the Internet.

    “It is a space without laws,” he said. “You have many people on the Internet who are Jewish and easily accessible to people who target them.”

    Bronkhorst at MDI acknowledges the difficulties but is optimistic and hopes the project will expand to other organizations in the International Network Against Cyber Hate, of which MDI is a member.

    “It’s a matter of resources right now,” said Bronkhorst. “We’re going to do it and we can only do it if we all work together to change our neighbor and let our neighbor change another one — one drop at a time to make an ocean.”

    (Angela Waters and Jennifer Collins contributed to this report.)

Mobile Technology News, August 16, 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.

  • Picture of claimed 5.5-inch 'iPhone 6' parts published
    Taiwanese Apple blog Apple Daily has published pictures of three components it claims are parts from the oft-discussed but little-seen 5.5-inch version of the “iPhone 6.” The photos show what are said to be the display, logic board and battery of the device, but at least two of the three parts are identical to the claimed 4.7-inch iPhone, casting doubt on the entire report. The battery, however, may be a genuinely new part, and is said to be nearly double in capacity compared to the current iPhone 5s battery.



  • Paying for life's basics by Bitcoin
    The newsagent bringing the virtual currency back to basics
  • Beating the Heat before Central Air
    2014-08-14-frigfan.jpg

    How does one beat the dog days of August? It’s easy! Open your Westinghouse refrigerator, prop a fan in front of it, and let the cool air do the rest. At least until your mother finds out. Jane Dornfeld of Edina did just that, although her comfort was short-lived. Given that air conditioning was not common in most homes in 1955, people had to find creative ways to get comfortable; sacrificing the family food supply is not typically the best approach.

    2014-08-14-ice.jpg

    An alternative to a fan in front of an open refrigerator is to place a fan directly on top of 400 pounds of ice. These women who sold advertising at the St. Paul Daily News used that method to get through a stifling work day during the heat wave in the July of 1936. Judging by their smiles, it appeared to work.

    2014-08-14-carice.jpg

    Blocks of ice serve other purposes, too. Why use a fan when direct contact offers immediate relief? In this instance, truck driver Frank Smith of Minneapolis chills his motor with a slab of ice, also during the scorching heat wave of 1936.

    2014-08-14-sleepingoutside.jpg

    The summer of 1936 was one of the most brutal in terms of the heat during the 20th century. So much so that numerous St. Paul residents resorted to sleeping outdoors on the grass to get some much needed respite.

    2014-08-14-hydrate.jpg

    Of course, the quickest way to cool off is to step directly into the path of water jetting out of a fire hydrant, which is exactly what this Twin Cities area boy did in 1938. Doesn’t that look refreshing?

    To see more historic images of summer, visit Minnesota Historical Society’s Collections Online.

  • Back to School: 9 Must Have Tech Essentials for College Life
    With summer vacation coming to an end, it’s time to start thinking about getting geared-up for the school year. Sure, most kids already have laptops and backpacks by this stage, but there are a few more must-have tech gadgets they’re sure to need. From a new tablet to portable chargers to keeping things organized in the dorm room, here are my picks for top tech back to school essentials.

    2014-08-15-GalaxyTabS8.4sq.jpg

    TABLET
    Tablets are fast becoming an essential item for today’s connected students. They’re portable, easy to tote around campus, and with built-in Wi-Fi, can connect from almost anywhere on a college campus. Android-loving smartphone users will want to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablet. It has a brilliant Super AMOLED display, making this the perfect tablet for watching Netflix videos or browsing images. Multi-tasking college kids will appreciate the ability to browse the web while watching videos. SideSync 3.0 lets you seamlessly connect your Galaxy S5 phone to your tablet so you can transfer data, cut and paste text and even send and receive voice calls directly from the tablet. Battery life should last a full day on campus.
    The Wi-Fi only 8.4-inch tablet starts at $399.99 and the 10.5-inch starts at $499.99.

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    EXTRA BATTERY FOR YOUR PHONE
    Students know it’s virtually impossible to get through the day without charging their smartphone. But what do you do if you don’t have a charger or can’t find a convenient outlet? The $79.99 MyCharge Freedom 2000 case for iPhone 5/5S protects your phone from drops and bumps in an attractive, slim case which houses a 2000mAh battery which can fully recharge your phone. What I like about this particular case is the access to the headphone jack and charging port on the bottom of the phone. Other cases require an adapter for some headphones to reach the jack, or you need to remove the bottom of the case. This one-piece design makes it super easy to recharge using the built-in cable tucked into the back of the case.

    2014-08-15-nomadkey2.png

    PORTABLE CHARGER
    If a phone case isn’t your thing, the tiny $29 NomadKey attaches to a keychain, so you always have it with you. It’s available with a Lightning or micro-USB connector, so you can charge up from any USB port available. I also like the NomadCard which slips into a wallet like a credit card and can charge and sync your phone.

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    iPad KEYBOARD CASE
    There are plenty of keyboard cases on the market that turn your tablet into a laptop by connecting an integrated Bluetooth keyboard. Only the Custom Quest iPad keyboard case with retractable strap gives you the ability to carry your iPad like a shoulder bag. The $70 case comes in a variety of colors, has a suede interior to nestle your tablet and a flip-out rechargeable Bluetooth keyboard. When you want to travel light, toting only your iPad, a retractable handle pulls out from the edge of the case, letting you sling it on your shoulder in style.

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    SUPPORT YOUR PHONE AND HOME TEAM
    When you’re away from home and want to show off your home team pride, the OtterBox NFL Edition Defender Case has you covered. The cases have an impact-resistant exterior and cushioning foam for accidental drops and fumbles, as well as built-in screen protector to guard against scratches and scrapes. Logos of all 32 NFL teams are available for iPhone 5/5S and Galaxy S4/5 for $65.

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    DRIVE WITH CONFIDENCE
    When you’re driving in an unfamiliar location, having a GPS to help guide you is critical. What sets the $229 Magellan RoadMate 6230-LM apart is the integrated DashCam located on the back that records your trip in HD. It features a 120-degree wide angle camera that constantly records video onto a memory card. The video is over-written unless the integrated G-sensor detects sudden speed changes or motion. Any impact locks the video and data so it can’t be deleted. That way you have a real time video record in case of any traffic accident or event.

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    QUIRKY CORDIES
    Tangled cords on your desk are not only a mess; they can be so distracting, especially when you’re trying to find earbuds to quietly listen to music while you study. There’s nothing more annoying than having your chargers and cords fall behind your desk when you’re not using them. Tidy up your workspace and keep cables in place with with Quirky’s $5 Cordies. These small, colorful devices have rubber grips with four slots and a weighted base to help keep your cables and cords organized and where they belong.

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    MUSIC EVERYWHERE YOU ARE
    There are lots of Bluetooth speakers on the market but the Jawbone Mini Jambox is completely portable, comes in nine fun colors, and packs a punch when it comes to sound. It connects via Bluetooth 4.0 to your mobile device and turns your dorm room into an instant party or movie theater. There’s also a line-in for wired audio sources. The speaker can get about 8 hours of battery life before needing to be recharged and doubles as a speakerphone. At $170 the Mini Jambox is a little more costly than others, but the sound and slim profile make this one so easy to throw in your pocket and take with you to the party.

    ANTI VIRUS PROTECTION
    Nothing keeps you from being able to study or write term papers faster than downloading a virus. Security software is imperative to have on campus, especially since students use a lot of free, open Wi-Fi to get online. Software such as Trend Micro Security 2015 or BitDefender helps protect students’ devices from becoming infected with malware or potentially hacked.

    2014-08-15-PooPourri.jpg

    STOP BATHROOM ODOR
    Lastly, living in tight quarters is tough, as is sharing a bathroom. Really, who wants to talk about embarrassing bathroom odor or be known as “that guy?” While a can of Lysol in the bathroom helps to mask the odor, Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray stops it before it begins by trapping the smell below the water’s surface. A few squirts into the bowl before you do your business forms a protective layer of essential oils that keep the odors buried under the water. With names like Trap-A-Crap, Royal Flush and Flushionista, these will likely be a welcome addition to the dorm room.

  • When You Google Gaza: Techies' Ambitions on the Embattled Strip

    Nearly four weeks into Operation Protective Edge, Ahmed Borai is explaining how to separate hydrogen from seawater. Gaza’s sole power plant was bombed out of commission four days earlier, leaving Gaza City blacked out and reducing the rest of the strip to two hours of electricity a day. The gasoline needed to run a generator costs two dollars a liter, the plant could take a year to repair, and Ahmed doesn’t have that kind of time or money to spare. So he’s using a car battery and a converter to run high voltage through a barrel of water to create an alternative — albeit highly explosive — source of fuel.

    “We’re bombed at any time here,” he declares over Facebook chat, “so not a big deal.” But while he concedes his workaround is “scary”, Ahmed has bigger worries. “If I lose the internet, I lose my company.” Fabraca, a 3D printing and product design company that he founded in early 2013, now includes four other employees from India, Serbia and Armenia, and the income it generates supports his entire family.

    2014-08-15-ahmedborai.jpg

    Ahmed is not the only young entrepreneur on the strip seeking innovative solutions to economic straits. Imposed after Hamas won elections in 2007, the Israeli blockade of the strip has seen the implosion of much of Gaza’s private sector. As unemployment rose to over 50 percent, Ahmed’s father was one of many who lost his livelihood. At that time, Ahmed recalls, “a young man should think of either involving [himself] with the government or … finding a job somehow.” With no way to study abroad, factory work unpalatable, and his family depending on him, he wracked his brain for “a business that can’t be affected by Palestine crises.” Through Fabraca he has managed to achieve a measure of that independence. “The most effective thing in my life is that I built my work on the internet,” he declares, so it has “no boundaries, no one can control it.”

    In recent years, other residents of the San Francisco-sized strip have also turned to online business platforms in hopes that virtual space will prove less vulnerable than on-the-ground infrastructure. One of its biggest success stories is Unit One, a company with a staff of over 200 that provides software development, data entry, online marketing and e-content development at what its founder, Saady Lozon, calls “highly competitive prices.” Lozon points out that each year, about 150 students graduate from Gaza’s four universities with degrees in IT-related fields, “and we’re trying to use the skills they have.” To skirt opposition to women working in mixed environments, his 150-member data entry team is all female; per the company’s corporate social responsibility policy, 10 percent of these employees are disabled.

    2014-08-15-saadylozoncenter.jpg

    While Gaza’s startup sector is still nascent, would-be entrepreneurs in Gaza have gotten a boost from partners like Google, which along with NGO Mercy Corps and local partners sponsors both a startup accelerator, Gaza Sky Geeks, and an annual startup weekend that attracts hundreds of competitors. Last December, three of those teams received investment from private investors outside Gaza for the first time; this year, the number of applicants to Startup Weekend Gaza doubled. “The tech sector offers the opportunity to work despite borders not being easy to cross,” says Iliana Montauk, Mercy Corps’ digital economy program director in the West Bank and head of the Sky Geeks. “Startups are a way to connect to the world, and people are thirsty to be a part of that. When we brought [judges] to Gaza, they said they’d never seen such thirst anywhere else.” Because security restrictions make it harder for men to obtain visas, women are especially vital for startups’ networking capacities. In this June’s competition, women made 36 of the 71 total pitches, and judges awarded a special prize to Boom Baby Boom, an app for pregnant women and mothers designed by 16-year-old Sofiya Mosalam.

    2014-08-15-unitonedataentryteam.jpg

    Three weeks later, the IDF informed Sofiya’s family that their house was targeted, so they moved in with friends in what they hoped was a safer neighborhood. From there, working on four hours of electricity a day, she is now creating an aid campaign, complete with video, for Gazans who are worse off. Saady too left his house after an air strike demolished his next door neighbor’s house and severely damaged his. Nevertheless, he estimates that his team managed to fulfill 60 to 70 percent of their orders until the loss of the power plant reduced them to 10 percent of normal capacity.

    While the latest ceasefire has given him the chance to hook up more solar cells and generators, upping his daily power supply to roughly six hours, it remains to be seen whether negotiations will yield a significant easing of the current blockade, and with it improved chances for entrepreneurs based in the strip. For his part, Saady remains doggedly hopeful. Though he admits to sadness about the loss of his house, what he most wants to recover is Gaza’s self-sufficiency. “We have to live and build up Gaza by ourselves.” Google the word “Gaza”, he laments, “and what comes up is images of people who’ve been killed, blood, and destruction. We have to show the world that Gaza is beautiful and its people have lots of energy, that we aren’t living off of wars and we don’t need relief from anyone.”

  • Bill Gates Takes On ALS Ice Bucket Challenge As Only He Can
    The beauty of the#ALSIceBucketChallenge is that it requires minimal equipment. Anyone can raise awareness with the help of some ice water and a medium-sized container. But if we’ve learned anything about tech magnate and philanthropist Bill Gates in the decades he’s been on the world stage, it’s that he doesn’t do anything halfway.

    Gates was challenged to the icy cold bath by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who himself made do with a simple plastic container for his ice.

    Instead of taking the easy route, Gates rigged up his own water-dumping contraption (complete with pull-string), setting a new standard for the challenge. We’re eager to see if the three people he tasked with completing the challenge — Elon Musk, Ryan Seacrest and Chris Anderson — try to outdo him. We’ll be surprised if they can.

    With or without all the trappings and specially rigged ice bucket structures, it’s incredible to see how everyone’s coming together to help combat the neurodegenerative disease. Particularly if that means we get to see some of the world’s most brilliant minds completely drenched.

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  • 'Last Week Tonight' Is Trolling Tinder With A Chicken Profile &amp; It's The Best
    On Sunday’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver mocked Vladimir Putin’s ban of some U.S. agricultural products by announcing that if the Russian president was breaking up with our chicken and soybeans, they’re now single and on the prowl.

    “I’m warning you, Russia, I’ll put U.S. chicken on Tinder right now,” threatened Oliver, showing an image of a chicken in the dating app. “This is real. Check Tinder right now, it’s actually there. Some pervert with a chicken fetish just hit the fucking jackpot.”

    In the days since, the chicken has apparently been swiped right at least a few times, because the Tinder chats that have taken place are ridiculous and wonderful.

    Tweeting screen grabs of them with the hashtag #ChickenTinders, the @LastWeekTonight social media editors seem to be having a field day.

    Also, guys are gross.

    This guy really wanted to make it work…
    #ChickenTinders pic.twitter.com/WD5dYQVJ32

    — Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) August 13, 2014

    Gross metaphor, bro. #ChickenTinders pic.twitter.com/aOALkqD658

    — Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) August 14, 2014

    Reminder: The only picture we posted is a headless uncooked chicken costume. #ChickenTinders pic.twitter.com/XKFUkFDW50

    — Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) August 15, 2014

    This guy even stumped autocorrect. #ChickenTinders pic.twitter.com/xvKzmj2GaW

    — Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) August 15, 2014

    Okay maybe this one was a little mean… #ChickenTinders pic.twitter.com/hs5ar2kpsH

    — Last Week Tonight (@LastWeekTonight) August 15, 2014

  • Remembering a Few Things We Forgot
    Okay, so everything isn’t perfect in geekland! We get it. We’re fallible and forgetful (insert old age jokes here).

    With that in mind, we dove into our piles of gadgets and discovered we unintentionally left four noteworthy items out of our past blogs. There are probably more, but we haven’t yet worked our way down to the deepest depths of the piles of boxes in our office.

    The GOgroove BlueSYNC Wud Retro Wood Bluetooth Wireless Speaker ($59.99) from Accessory Power resembles an old-fashioned, walnut wood-encased stereo radio, but looks can be deceiving. This retro device not only sounds great, but offers many of the features you’ll find in it’s higher-priced, digital brethren.

    The first thing you notice when you take it out of its box is a leather handle and a knob at the top, which actually turns the speaker on and off and controls the volume. But, once it’s turned on, the functions become a bit more high tech:

    • It is Bluetooth and NFC (near field communications) compatible
    • It boasts a wireless range of more than 30 feet
    • It’s truly portable, weighing in at a hair more than 1.5 pounds
    • It has an auxiliary port to accommodate devices without wireless connectivity

    We tested its wireless range moving from room to room, trying to detect a crackle, pop or loss of signal and were pleased to discover it never lost connectivity with our devices.

    Next is the Minx Go ($199) from Cambridge Audio. This is a smaller version of the Minx Air 100 we wrote about last week and is much more portable.

    The Minx Go may be small in stature, but it contains an array of five speakers: two titanium tweeters, two two-inch woofers and a subwoofer. Also we found that, although the sound was a bit “bass-heavy,” it was able to adequately handle the full range of audio we pumped through it. Truthfully, the booming bass can be a bit overpowering at times, but this seems to be a chronic condition found with most speakers in this price range.

    Other features include:

    • Eighteen hours of battery life per charge
    • Bluetooth compatibility
    • An auxiliary input for non-wireless devices
    • A Bluetooth range of 33 feet
    • A small, built-in stand that flips out from the bottom of the case

    ShareBrands Stereo Headphones ($65) combine comfort and decent sound plus 25 percent of what you pay goes to one of five charities, depending on the color you choose: green helps the environment, blue donates to men’s and children’s health causes, pink for women’s and children’s health, yellow for education and red to help fight poverty.

    These were the only headphones we tested that didn’t feature any form of wireless connectivity. They do, however come with a 5.7-foot cable. Plus there’s a control button that lets you answer phone calls.

    Last is the MoovMic Detachable Boom Microphone ($19.95) from Headset Buddy.

    This is an attachment for headsets that come without microphones and, although a bit cumbersome to use, easily convert older headsets into fully functioning multimedia devices.

    The MoovMic attaches to the earpiece of over-the-ear headsets using a magnetic clasp and a wire adapter kit that combines the wire from the MoovMic and the wire from the headset into one 3.5 millimeter plug that fits the microphone port on most computers. Unfortunately, the combination of the magnetic clasp and the wires can sometimes be a bit unweildly resulting in the clasp falling off of the earpiece. This, according to a person that “reviewed” the item on Amazon, can be fixed by simply using a piece of scotch tape.

    The microphone itself worked perfectly, with no distortion or cutouts. We were able to use it to chat online without a hitch.

    Other features include:

    • An adjustable gooseneck “boom”
    • It filters out background noise
    • You can purchase adapters to allow it to work with any device, ranging from smartphones to tablets

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

  • Astronomers Think This Cosmic Rubble Pile May Show Us How To Avert An Asteroid Disaster
    Astronomers are keeping a close eye on asteroid 1950 DA, which is expected to give Earth a close shave on March 16, 2880.

    The strange asteroid — essentially just a half-mile-wide collection of rubble rather than a rocky lump — could cause tsunami-like waves if it were actually to collide with our planet. Fortunately, the chance of 1950 DA colliding with Earth has been pegged at just one in 4,000.

    That’s good news for our descendants, of course. Even better is this: astronomers at the University of Tennessee believe that 1950 DA might point the way to an effective means of eliminating other asteroids that do pose a meaningful threat to our planet.

    In a new paper published in Nature on August 14, 2014, the astronomers theorize that the asteroid might be held together not by gravitational forces but by intermolecular bonding known as Van de Waals forces.

    “We found that 1950 DA is rotating faster than the breakup limit for its density,” lead researcher Dr. Ben Rozitis, a postdoctoral scholar at the university, said in a written statement. “So if just gravity were holding this rubble pile together, as is generally assumed, it would fly apart. Therefore, interparticle cohesive forces must be holding it together.”

    Astronomers have long suspected that these forces apply with smaller asteroids, but there has never been any opportunity to confirm past predictions. But now astronomers tracking near-Earth asteroids — including space rocks similar to the one that crashed last year in Chelyabinsk, Russia — could use lessons from 1950 DA to divert or destroy other space rocks, as long as they are held together by the same cohesive forces.

    How would such a space rock be destroyed? “With such tenuous cohesive forces holding one of these asteroids together, a very small impulse may result in a complete disruption,” Rozitis said in the statement.

  • This Bjork Film Will Be Like A Bjork Concert But With &lt;em&gt;More Bjork&lt;/em&gt;!
    Bjork fans, life has been kind to us as of late.

    First there was Bjork’s eighth full-length studio album, a cosmic masterpiece called “Biophilia” — as the Jews say: Dayenu, or it would have been enough.

    Then came an interactive app accompanying the album, in which a main “mother” app branched out into a network of mini-apps, one for each song, each incorporating elements of music, engineering, design, cinema and philosophy. It would have been enough.

    Then Bjork went on tour and it was glorious. It would have been enough.

    bjork

    Then Bjork’s “Biophilia” app was transformed into an experimental school curriculum designed to draw children into the depths of their imagination. It would have been enough.

    Then MoMA announced a massive retrospective of Bjork’s sounds, film, visuals, instruments, objects, costumes, and performances slated for this fall. It really would have been enough!

    And now, Jacqui Edenbrow and Gloria Films are releasing a documentary chronicling Bjork’s multi-sensory tour. The concert film, titled “Biophilia Live” and directed by Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland, was recorded live at Bjork’s show at London’s Alexandra Palace last year. The film will combine Bjork’s live performance with animated sequences to enhance the tripped out Bjork experience.

    The Creator’s Project debuted the film’s trailer above. It looks, not surprisingly, totally wonderful. The film will screen at select locations around the world beginning in September. See a complete list of screenings here.

    May this chain of Bjork-related happenings go on forever. Amen.

  • Facebook-Stalking Wife Learns Husband Has 3 Other Wives: Cops
    Darnell Pixley is in at least one complicated relationship.

    The 49-year-old from Newbury, South Carolina was arrested Wednesday and charged with bigamy after his wife spotted wedding photos of him and another woman on Facebook, the Associated Press reports.

    She turned to investigators, who found a November 2013 marriage certificate to the other woman.

    Investigators also found that Pixley is allegedly married to two additional women in unions dating back to 1988, according to WIS.

    Each of his alleged wives lives in a different South Carolina county.

    Newbery County Sheriff Lee Foster told the station that Pixley may have even more wives. Pixley was “not into wanting to talk” about his marital status, Foster said.

    “[Pixley] had made just a few comments regarding that he thought maybe it was a misunderstanding, but past that, he didn’t have anything else to say.”

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  • Amazon's New Phone 'Traps' You: Consumer Reports
    CNBC

    The new Amazon Fire smartphone doesn’t measure up against its competitors and “traps” its users in the Amazon ecosystem, according to a new review by Consumer Reports.

    While the Fire, which wants to be the ultimate shopping phone, taps into all Amazon has to offer, other phones can provide most of those benefits, Mike Gikas, an editor at Consumer Reports, said Thursday on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.”

    Instead, users are “trapped in Amazon’s retail world.”

    amazon fire phone

    “What happens with the Fire is that it’s locked out of Google’s Play app store, which prevents people from downloading very popular Google apps” like Gmail, Google Maps and the search tool Google Now, Gikas said. “These apps work together in a very interesting and compelling way that a lot of people like.”

    More from CNBC:
    – This could be what the new iPhone 6 will look like
    – Facebook anger: Users slam Messenger app
    – Not so smart? Bank deposits by phone

    That said, the Fire isn’t “awful” or necessarily doing anything wrong, he noted.

    However, when you tally up the test results and compare them to the 100 other smartphones the magazine tested, the Fire “didn’t add up to a high enough score.”

    One issue was that its battery life is much shorter than its rivals. The phone provides about 10 hours of talk time, compared with other phones that can go close to 20 hours or more, Gikas said.

    He thinks a better smartphone is the new LG G3 phone. He likes its ultra-sharp HD display, the battery life and camera. He also said its interface is simpler and smarter.

    “These are the things that people who use smartphones appreciate,” Gikas said.

  • Talking to "Biologist's Imagination" Author William Hoffman
    By Meredith Salisbury

    2014-08-15-BiologistsImaginationWilliamHoffman.jpeg

    In a new book called “The Biologist’s Imagination,” authors William Hoffman and Leo Furcht from the University of Minnesota Medical School take a spin through the history of biological innovation in an effort to shed light on current trends and expected future developments. The authors weave historical threads–such as pioneering studies of genetic traits in the mid-19th century and the effects of the animals and diseases brought to the Americas in the wake of Columbus crossing the Atlantic–to help readers make sense of what’s happening today. They track biological and technological innovation from its earliest days, but focus on what’s happening now: the state of the pharmaceutical industry, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, scientific intellectual property, and more. The book covers a number of topics relevant to Techonomy, so we chatted with Hoffman to find out more.

    When it comes to synthetic biology, there’s an inherent tension between fears of genetic modification and the critical need to use resources more efficiently. How does this get resolved?

    In this country, you’ve got a very interesting split. It’s been 20 years now since the Flavr Savr tomato was approved by the FDA. There have been countless studies, and they haven’t shown anything convincing that we should be alarmed about, as far as food intake is concerned. (For effects on the environment, the jury’s still out.) But you have a very strong reaction against GM food in some quarters. I think this is going to take a long time, and scientific studies showing that food from genetic modification is safe will have marginal impact. This goes beyond scientific evidence and into the cultural realm.

    We’re also seeing a lot of turmoil in the nascent field of consumer genomics. Where do you see that heading, particularly given FDA’s actions with 23andMe last year?

    Consumer genomics will persevere. People want the information and there’s no reason they’re not entitled to it. But the FDA does have the responsibility to insist that what companies say about personal health information based on genetic data is accurate and can be verified. There’s no question that new models of ongoing regulatory reform and standards are needed so that agencies can adapt. One of the big problems we have at agencies such as FDA is rapid turnaround of personnel. You’ve got to be able to hire smart people and keep them employed over a longer period of time–they’ve got to like what they do and be compensated decently for what they do, otherwise they will leave. If you want to have a top-notch and moderate regulatory framework, it’s got to be funded and you’ve got to keep people on board.

    You talk about the importance of open-access publishing, which allows anyone to read research papers without pricey subscriptions to scientific journals. What’s happening in this arena now?

    Federal funding agencies are moving forcefully into mandates that journal articles be available at least after a certain period of time; that’s also happening in the European Union. A lot of this is being driven by patient advocacy groups. They’re tired of seeing information sequestered–they want it available so patients are served.

    Your book covered regions such as Research Triangle Park that have emerged as major biotech hubs. What lessons can we glean from these successful clusters that might apply to cities attempting to revitalize, like Detroit, where Techonomy is hosting a public conference in September?

    The solid research base and physical infrastructure are critical for this field: how that base is supported, locally as well as federally, and how it links its activities with the local industrial community. As these communities revitalize, simply creating greater self-awareness through networking and entrepreneurial associations becomes all the more important. The tacit communication within these concentrations is very important; people need to know what other people are doing. Another thing is to use existing research and industrial strength to create the conditions for existing embedded know-how to move into bio. With respect to Detroit, Wayne State University is strong in biomaterials research. So is Ford.

    What is the role you see for the growing group of amateurs getting involved in biological research, the trend known as biohacking or DIYbio?

    I am intrigued. We’re fairly early in a biological revolution and the tools are coming fast and furious. There’s always been a tension, even in the beginning of the industrial revolution, between the credentialed and the uncredentialed. So-called biohackers are largely uncredentialed in the academic sense, but they are very creative people. Many of them work in established community labs now, like BioCurious. They’re involved in crowdsourced design, and they get crowdfunding. They’re outside the standard mainstream practice of laboratory science, but they’re going to be part of this.

    Original article published on Techonomy.com.

  • Drones Pose Threat To Firefighters, Wildfire Managers Say

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Drones flying over wildfires could lead to firefighter injuries and force retardant bombers to be called off, wildfire managers say.

    At least three drones have flown within or near restricted airspace intended for wildfire fighting aircraft so far this year, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise announced Friday. That’s up from one incident last year.

    “We’re seeing an increase in people wanting to film from a distance with hobby aircraft,” said spokesman Mike Ferris, noting wildfires are often buzzing with low-flying planes and helicopters. “If you had one of these would you fly it near an airport?”

    In June, a drone was spotted at the Two Bulls Fire near Bend in central Oregon. Drones have also been spotted at a fire in Washington state that destroyed hundreds of homes, and another that went aloft at a Northern California wildfire.

    “Anytime that that happens, folks working these fires are going to feel compromised and they’re not going to want to fly until they’re sure the airspace is safe to fly in,” said Aitor Bidaburu, chair of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group at the center. “We have enough hazards on the ground.”

    Managers said tankers trying to make drops to protect firefighters or homes might have to turn away if a drone is in the area.

    The Federal Aviation Administration allows hobbyists to use model aircraft or small drones as long as they keep them away from airports, fly them under 400 feet and keep the aircraft within sight of the remote-controlling operator at all times.

    However, wildfires typically have temporary flight restrictions that extend up and out from the fire so helicopters and retardant aircraft can do drops without worrying about other aircraft. The restrictions include small drones.

    “If they’re going to be flying these things, they need to educate themselves,” Ferris said.

    Those seeking to fly drones near wildfires might be able to do so legally, but they would first need permission from wildfire managers. The center said individuals using drones that interfere with firefighting efforts could face civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

    Center spokesman Randy Eardley said some state agencies fly drones over fires to find hotspots, but the operators are communicating with wildfire managers.

    “The problem with these hobbyists and recreationists is we have no communication with them,” he said.

  • How the FCC Can Save Net Neutrality and Still Ruin the Internet
    Prolonged discussions of Federal Communications Commission regulations are typically about as stimulating as a fistful of Ambien — except when it comes to net neutrality.

    With the FCC poised to issue new rules governing how Internet service providers manage and price the traffic that flows through their networks, Americans woke up and spoke up so loudly that they crashed the agency’s website last month. The million-plus comments from concerned citizens were the most the FCC has ever received during a proposed rule’s public comment period — and just a few hundred thousand shy of the number of complaints that poured in after Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction.” When we’re comparing tech regulations to Super Bowl nipple slips, you know we’re in a different kind of debate.

    You probably haven’t had a chance to read all 1,067,779 comments. Neither have I. But most support an outcome preserving the wide-open Internet that birthed our current era of innovation, transformation and disruption. The question now is how to achieve this.

    The debate so far has been oversimplified: Are you for net neutrality or against it? That reductive framing may lead us to embrace a solution that doesn’t solve the problem.

    From where I sit at CALinnovates, representing tech companies dependent on the open Internet to survive, this debate is incredibly important. Disruptors like ride-share platform Sidecar and conference-call service Speek shouldn’t be forced to bid against deep-pocketed giants — or anyone, for that matter — for their share of bandwidth. Nor should they be forced to adapt to regulations that would suppress new ideas or hamstring the entrepreneurs who hatch them.

    They, along with countless other startups and aspiring innovators, agree: We need an outcome that preserves the openness of the Internet.

    Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Let me explain. The leading proposal in Washington to achieve that goal is to reclassify broadband providers as “telecommunications services.” This would allow the FCC to regulate providers using authority granted it under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

    As you have undoubtedly noticed, the Communications Act of 1934 was passed in 1934. That means the FCC is gathering input as it considers adopting the same legislative framework for the Internet that existed back when “wireless” meant the hand crank on your grandparents’ AM radio.

    Title II turned our nation’s telephone system — a single network operated by a single company, Ma Bell — into a highly regulated utility, just like water and electric companies. While they helped protect consumers from the excesses of a corporate monopoly, Title II’s restraints hardly made that phone network an innovative one.

    Ask your parents: Under Title II, innovation in telecom meant being able to buy a different color of the same phone chosen by the monopoly at a price set by the government. This same law can’t accommodate today’s sprawling, bustling, magically fragmented Internet, a miracle of technology unimaginable in 1934 — or even in 1996, when the act was updated for the “modern” era.

    By turning the Internet into a utility, we’ll bleed tech innovation with a thousand paper cuts. Would we even know what an iPhone is if Steve Jobs had to run his pricing models past the FCC? Would Twitter be fomenting revolution if Jack Dorsey needed to check with regulators about what kind of data can be shared online and by whom?

    It sounds far-fetched, but that’s how it would work. Under Section 214 of Title II, common carriers have to ask for approval before discontinuing nonperforming platforms or launching new ones.

    Shoehorning Internet companies into Title II won’t just slow Silicon Valley down to Beltway-at-rush-hour speed; it will also render impossible a great many things that have become part of our daily routines, like using on-demand services from location-based smartphone apps.

    Under Section 222 of Title II, companies have a duty to protect the confidentiality of customers’ proprietary network information. Sounds benign, right? Well, it means wireless location data could no longer be shared with Internet companies for mapping or advertising. Location-based companies would be limited by, in the regulators’ lyrical stylings, the “use or disclosure” of “call location information concerning the user of a commercial mobile service.” In plain English, that means companies like dating service Tinder, car navigation service Waze and ride-sharer Uber could soon become relics of the past. At the least, they would have far higher hurdles and costs in launching and attracting investment capital.

    The big losers in all this would very likely be startups and the consumers they seek to serve. For large, established digital companies, these new regulations would probably just be an inconvenience. For startups that don’t have the resources to fight Title II classification, or the in-house legal teams to interpret the new requirements, the rule changes would be a death knell.

    Before we trade the devil we know for the devil our grandparents knew, we should pause to ask ourselves whether legally defining the Internet as a utility will keep it both open and innovative — or act as a drag on creativity and growth.

    I’m pro-net neutrality, but anti-1934-style strangulation. Where does that leave me? According to the approaches under consideration, I may soon be a man without a country. Good thing the Internet, at least for now, doesn’t require a passport.

  • "Live a Big Life, and Let Your Voice Be Heard"
    2014-08-14-00000031.JPG

    Women in STEM: Meet mother-daughter pair Natae Rayner and Gayle Darby

    Natae Rayner did not know what she wanted to be when she grew up. A cheerleader in college on a ballet scholarship, Rayner had a variety of interests, but no clear career direction. So she asked her mother for advice. Rayner’s mother, Gayle Darby, had one question for her daughter: “What do you want out of life?”

    Rayner answered, “I want to be independent. I want to be able to make my own money. I want to have a nice car to drive. I want to own my own home. I want to be able to travel and do great things.”

    Her mother replied, “If that’s what you want, why don’t you take an automotive class?”

    Although this is not typical mother-daughter advice, Darby was speaking from first-hand experience. At the time of their conversation, Darby was finishing her own BS in Automotive Technology, after having had a successful career in the Railroad Industry.

    Rayner took her mother’s advice. The first and second women ever to graduate from Weber State’s Automotive Technology program, both Gayle Darby and Natae Rayner have excelled in their careers in automotive. In fact, they both hold management positions overseeing training at luxury automotive companies. Natae Rayner is General Manager of Training and Development for Audi of America, and her mother, Gayle Darby, is National Manager of Dealer Development for Lexus College at Lexus, under Toyota Motor Sales of USA.

    Inspired by their story, I talked to both women about how they decided to pursue non-traditional careers for women, the challenges they have faced, the opportunities they have made for themselves and the advice they have for women pursuing STEM careers.

    Yury: Natae Rayner, what did you think when your mother first told you to consider a career in automotive?

    Rayner: My mom has always been successful in everything that she has done, so when she said, ‘Try something different. Try something that’s not typical for a woman, because you will succeed in that area’ I considered it. At first I was kind of like, ‘Okay, automotive, huh. Well, let me try this, let me put one toe in this.’ So, I took one class and enjoyed it. I continued dancing and cheer leading but I decided to go full-force into the automotive technology program. And from there, I started taking every class I could possibly take. It was a real kick. I took the paint and body classes, which was really exciting, really fun and really different. I even started working at a parts warehouse, so I could still be immersed in the automotive area.

    2014-08-14-ToyotaJapan2002.jpg
    Rayner in Japan receiving Technical Training (diagnosis and repair) in order to develop training courses for US dealers

    Yury: What has it been like to be a woman in the heavily male-dominated automotive industry, both in school and then in the corporate world?

    Rayner: I would say for the most part, it’s a very supportive environment. You don’t really know what to expect when you put yourself in that situation, but I would say 99% of the time, I was supported through school, being the only woman in the program. You put yourself out there and hope that people will accept you and that it will feel right, that it will fit. Really for the most part, it was an amazing experience.

    The funny thing is, is when I started my first job (at Toyota), I started off in the technical training area. It was right when the Prius was launching for the first time in the United States, so I was writing hybrid courses. I was writing technical information on engines and then I would have to stand up and train our trainers that were out in the field. So you can imagine all these older men who were set in their ways and there’s me — this 21-year-old blonde little girl — coming in to teach them how a hybrid system works. It was scary; there were times that I was really nervous, not necessarily because I didn’t know that I had it, but because I was being judged. But, it went very well; I proved myself to them, we became the best of friends and to this day, I still talk to some of those men. Everybody was very supportive. I have found that throughout my career. Have I been tested? Yes. But, overall it’s been a really good experience.

    Yury: Gayle Darby, what was it like when you started at Weber State as a woman in the Automotive Technology program?

    Darby: When I was starting school I thought I was the only one who didn’t know anything. I was the only woman, and I looked around at all these guys and thought they all worked on cars with their dads and knew what they were doing. I came to find out, they didn’t know a thing, either!

    Yury: What was it like when you started at Toyota, and what have you learned in your career there?

    Darby: My first job at Toyota was in quality assurance. The first thing I did in quality assurance was to lead groups of Japanese men to do port-of-departure and port-of-entry inspections on the Lexus vehicles. That meant I was leading men that were of an older generation. I noticed they would never look at me; there was never any eye contact. And it was kind of scary. I thought, ‘Gosh, what’s wrong?’ And then I started to inquire a little more and realized it was very much their culture and started to study their culture more.

    I certainly had really challenging days, but it just got easier and easier. And then, you start creating laughter and having a lot of fun and connecting. I had 4 regions when I moved up to Senior Engineer. I had Taiwan, Canada, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. When I traveled to Taiwan, I was doing dealer visits and when I did the dealer visits, the men would hold up these signs from each dealership, saying, ‘Welcome, Mr. Darby.’ They had no idea I was a woman. And then they would profusely apologize and say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.’ I was like, ‘No, no problem.’

    But what I really understood through these different experiences is that business starts at the dinner table. It’s really important to get to know people; it’s important to connect and bond. That was such a valuable lesson in my life: ‘Just slow down and understand that it’s getting to know each other, getting to trust each other. Getting to that point where you can laugh at yourself and have fun.’ You build relationships through that.

    Yury: What advice would you give to women who were interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

    Rayner: I think there’s so much opportunity in many areas that have been previously male-dominated in the past. We are so much more empowered as women. And so, I guess my advice would be to look at every single avenue and to have the confidence to go into these non-traditional areas. Because, just like my mom said, just because you’re male, does not actually mean you know exactly what you’re doing. We’re all people and we’re all in this together. Businesses need strong, successful women with confidence that can come in and lead and be a guiding light and inspiration to other women. I have a couple women technicians out in the dealerships right now. I’m mentoring them and helping them understand that they can do this, they can do this well and they can grow into anything that they need.

    Darby: My lesson is: Move beyond the fear. I think everybody has fear. I think it’s really important. You just have to move beyond it because it’s so limiting otherwise. Live a big life, and allow your voice to be heard! I know that’s a scary thing but get out there and be brave and be heard and move beyond your own fear. And celebrate the wins and just be humble enough to laugh at yourself.

    Carrie Yury is Director of Research and Insights at BeyondCurious, an innovation consultancy that develops mobile-first solutions for enterprise clients, including TMS.

  • Dad's Challenge For 'Real Men' Is Going Viral (And It Doesn't Involve An Ice Bucket)
    Your Facebook feed has probably been pretty filled lately with ice bucket altruism, but with any luck, it’s about to get a little more crowded.

    “All right, I don’t really do Facebook videos or anything like that, but I guess since everyone else is doing a challenge, I figure I should do one too,” dad Kendell J. Smith says in the clip, initially referencing the viral ice bucket video challenge to benefit ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. “So this is my challenge out there to anybody that wants to accept it. See if you can do this.”

    But when he reaches down, he doesn’t pick up a bucket full of cold water; he picks up his son. His challenge — one for “real men,” the viral clip’s title notes — requires a much different sort of commitment.

    According to the National Center For Fathering, about 24.7 million children in the United States live apart from their biological fathers. That’s a full 33 percent of American children overall, but the phenomenon affects different demographics disproportionately.

    And while it is definitely possible to live apart from your kids and have a good relationship with them, a Pew Reach Center report found that about half of fathers who don’t live with their kids only saw their children a few times a year, or had no visits at all. In addition, almost one-third of those fathers corresponded with their kids over the phone or via email less than once a month.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children with involved fathers have much better social and educational outcomes. They are more likely to grow up healthy, more likely to succeed and less likely to become involved in crime or be incarcerated.

    “Fathers are more than just ‘second adults’ in the home,” renowned sociologist Dr. David Popenoe wrote in his book, Life Without Father. “Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”

    So when Smith reaches down to pick up his son, it means something.

    “Be a father,” Smith says, his son now in his arms, his gaze trained on the camera. “Take care of your kids. Be there in their lives and mean something to him,” he says.

    He plants a kiss on the toddler’s cheek and receives a tiny smile in return.

    The video is titled “New Challenge… Only Real Men Can Do This,” and we have to say we agree. Father and son, against the world.

  • Network upgrade levels the playing field for Infiniti Red Bull Racing
    Formula One team Infiniti Red Bull Racing uses AT&T network and UC services to stay in the running after big changes to sporting regulations
  • Barclaycard wearables to monitor customer behaviour
    Barclaycard is launching a scheme testing the data collection capabilities of its contactless payment band bPay

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:

    seanreyesfacebookdonation

    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.

    Vertically.

    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.

    Sincerely,
    C+C

  • 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.”

    2014-08-13-Coolest.jpg

    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.

Mobile Technology News, August 14, 2014

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

  • Apple announces ban on n-hexane, benzene for its products
    Thanks to the work of activists in raising awareness of the potential risks of some chemicals used in the production process of its products, Apple has announced that it is now restricting suppliers from using n-hexane and benzene in the final assembly process, even though the company’s own investigation showed there was no direct danger of contamination for Apple workers. Because of the potential effects, the chemicals (used mostly for cleaning) are no longer permitted.



  • Lenovo posts 23% jump in profit
    The world’s biggest maker of personal computers, Lenovo, sees a 23% jump in net profit as laptop sales outperform industry average.
  • 'Doubtfire Face' Aims To Raise Awareness For Suicide Prevention
    Since the tragic news of Robin Williams’ suicide broke, fans have shown an outpouring of support by sharing their favorite memories, films, quotes and stand-up bits.

    But advocates have been careful to also open up a dialogue about depression — which the comedian had talked candidly about — and ways in which people who are facing mental illness can seek help.

    To help make the taboo topic more accessible, a group launched the “Doubtfire Face for Suicide Prevention” initiative.

    The group is inviting advocates to recreate a sidesplitting scene from “Mrs. Doubtfire.” It’s the moment when Robin Williams’ character — who plays a man dressing up as a female nanny — is at risk of being discovered. To protect his identity, he quickly slams his face into a cake so it appears as though the nanny is just wearing a cleansing mask.

    “She” then belts out a signature “Hello!”

    The premise is to encourage supporters to welcome suicide prevention.

    Once participants upload a video (using shaving cream, whipped cream — really anything) they are then tasked with nominating someone else to get involved, using the hashtags #DoubtfireFace #SayHelloToSuicidePrevention and #RobinWilliams.

    The goal is to raise awareness for the little-talked about figures.

    In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes and it claims more than 38,000 lives each year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

    It also hopes to raise $500,000 for the organization.

    “We have to do more to prevent such tragic deaths through greater awareness of mental health issues, warning signs, effective interventions and treatment,” AFSP said in a statement following Williams’ death. “Suicide is preventable and we all have a role to play to end the tragedy of suicide.”

    Learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and how you can donate to the “Doubtfire Face” initiative here.

    Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • Super-fast net: F1's new frontier
    How super-fast broadband is driving F1 success
  • New iPhone 6 part leaks include front panel, buttons, SIM tray
    Luxury customization outfit Feld &amp; Volk has published new photos of a collection of alleged iPhone 6 parts. The most prominent depict a front panel, offering a closer glimpse at cables, attachments, and edges. The edges are visibly rounded, presumably meant to blend seamlessly with the phone’s back panel.



  • Anonymous Threatens To Release Name Of Officer In Ferguson Police Shooting
    The hacker group Anonymous claims it has the name of the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer involved in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager over the weekend.

    But in a rare display of caution, the group said Wednesday it is waiting to release the officer’s name until it can be confirmed.

    “We have the name of the shooter,” the group tweeted. “We just can’t verify. We need to either talk to witnesses or get a second leak source.”

    One member of Anonymous told HuffPost the hacker group wanted “to be absolutely positive it is correct.”

    “There have been instances in the past where anons have released erroneous dox,” the Anonymous member “katanon” said in an interview via online chat room, referring to the hacker slang of exposing a person’s true identity online.

    Ferguson teenager Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed Saturday by a police officer while walking with a friend from a convenience store. Police say Brown hit the officer and tried to steal his gun, but Brown’s friend, who witnessed the shooting, has told reporters the officer ordered them onto the sidewalk and threatened Brown with his weapon.

    The shooting has sparked several days of contentious protests in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb with a mostly black population and a mostly white police force. Officers have fired rubber bullets and tear gas into the crowds, and some protesters looted local stores.

    Ferguson police initially said they would release the name of the officer involved in the shooting, but changed course on Tuesday, citing online threats made against the officer and the police department.

    Meanwhile, Anonymous has tried using its hacking skills to pressure the police to release the officer’s name. On Tuesday, the hackers posted online the home address and phone number of St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar, as well as a photo of his house.

    A Twitter account belonging to Anonymous tweeted: “Jon Belmar, if you don’t release the officer’s name, we’re releasing your daughter’s info. You have one hour.” The group, however, did not appear to follow through on the threat.

    On Sunday, the hackers posted a YouTube video in which a computer-generated voice demanded that Missouri’s congressional representatives introduce legislation to “set strict national standards for police conduct and misbehavior.”

    The video warned that if police disrupted the protesters, the hackers would publicly release the emails and personal information of the police department and “take every Web-based asset of your department and government offline.”

    A cyber attack by Anonymous brought down the city’s email system Sunday night, and Ferguson’s mayor asked the city’s IT department to take down all personal information from its website, according to the local TV station KMOV. On Wednesday, a reporter for the station tweeted that the city’s email system and website were working again.

    The Anonymous member “katanon” told HuffPost the group’s main goal was to bring more attention to the shooting.

    “Personally, I would like nationwide protests and the issue to not be swept under the rug yet again,” the member said. “‘Just another dead black kid’ is getting very, very old.”

    Anonymous has joined previous protests triggered by allegations of police brutality. In 2011, the group hacked myBart.org, a website for San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit riders, and leaked personal information of users. The attack was in retaliation for a decision by BART to cut off underground cellphone service to shut down a protest against police violence.

    Gabriella Coleman, a professor of anthropology at McGill University who studies Anonymous, said the group had largely been quiet over the past year.

    “Anonymous has been on hiatus,” said Coleman, author of the forthcoming book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: the Many Faces of Anonymous.

    But Coleman said the group’s involvement in the Ferguson protests may signal the hacker collective is back — “at least for awhile.”

    “They’ve gotten so much attention,” she said, “and that emboldens them.”

  • 10 Surprising Part-Time Work-From-Home Jobs
    There are a lot of reasons to work part-time, and even more reasons to work from home. What do you get when you combine the two? A pretty great way to work. And for people with special circumstances, like stay-at-home parents, retirees, people with disabilities, graduate students, caregivers, military spouses, and many others, part-time work-from-home jobs offer a chance to stay professionally active while attending to the needs of others or themselves.

    Recently, my company analyzed thousands of part-time work-from-home jobs posted over the last year to determine which career fields offered the most opportunities to work this way. Based on the top 10 career categories with these jobs, we’ve found some pretty interesting and surprising jobs that can be done from home while working fewer hours.

    Here are 10 surprising part-time work-from-home jobs.

    Search Engine Evaluator (Computer & IT)
    For people with a broad interest in popular culture, this part-time work-from-home job requires you to search the internet and rate search results and content, in order to help clients make search results more relevant. If you really enjoy surfing the web, this is a fantastic part-time job option.

    Study Interviewer (Medical & Health)
    Organizations need telephone interviewers to help them conduct national, longitudinal studies related to a variety of health issues like tobacco use, weight loss, and others. Interpersonal and communication skills are a must, and previous experience in medical studies certainly helps.

    Nanny Placement Coordinator (Customer Service)
    There are lots of organizations that help families find caregivers like babysitters, nannies, and elder care professionals. In this part-time work-from-home job, people call candidate references, coordinate schedules, follow up on nanny placements, write job descriptions, and even interview and hire candidates.

    Nursing Adjunct Faculty (Education & Training)
    RNs who enjoy teaching will find a number of adjunct faculty positions for online courses. Don’t let the “online” part fool you — the requirements for these roles are very high. Candidates must have at least five years of clinical experience and their RN license, and a doctoral degree is preferred.

    User Interface (UI) Designer (Web & Software Dev)
    Often thought of as full-time roles, part-time at-home jobs do exist for experienced web and mobile application designers. Typical requirements include several years experience designing web application interfaces and a strong understanding of usability principles.

    Foraging Guide Writer (Writing)
    Foraging is just one example of the many surprising topics we’ve seen advertised for part-time work-from-home writers. Other topic areas include generalized anxiety, conspiracy theories, Downton Abbey, global conflicts, good news, endurance sports, and automotive journalism.

    Language Interpreter (Inbound Call)
    What happens when a doctor is treating a patient who speaks a language other than his own? Medical interpreters help out! These part-time work-from-home jobs require a professional voice and bilingual abilities in English and another language like Samoan, Portuguese Creole, Cambodian, and many others. Interpreters help with industries like insurance, healthcare, and finance.

    Gaming Support Representative (Call Center)
    Call center jobs are fairly common in the work-from-home sphere, but gaming support is an interesting twist. These professionals provide user support for gaming platforms by offering customer service and troubleshooting over the phone.

    Virtual Physical Education Teacher (Teaching)
    Online public and private educational institutions need teachers from all subjects, including physical education, to offer students virtual instructional sessions. The responsibilities of this job are much the same as an in-school phys ed teacher: plan lessons and activities, monitor student progress, report grades, and even manage virtual student clubs.

    Hotel Sales & Catering Tester (Sales)
    Not your typical sales job, this part-time at-home role requires people to test other catering and sales managers for their ability to sell products and services. For people with previous hotel sales and catering experience who are looking for supplemental income, this is a surprising way to utilize those skills in a remote job.

    The next time you find yourself considering a part-time job, don’t assume you’re limited to the typical or traditional part-time jobs you’ve heard of before. With a little bit of searching, you can uncover really surprising jobs that will allow you to work from home in an interesting role.

  • 4-Year-Old Is Heartbroken By The Idea That Deleting Photos Means They're Gone For Good
    Forever is a pretty incredible concept when you’re young. Forever is longer than anything you remember, longer than you’ve been around, longer than your parents have been around — and quite frankly, you can’t imagine a world before them.

    So 4-year-old Cadence’s heartbreak at learning exactly what “deleting” something means — that the photo of her Uncle Dave is probably now gone forever — seems pretty adorably appropriate.

    Four-year-old problems might just be the new “first world problems.”

  • YouTubers Do Kim Kardashian (The Game)

    We’re super excited to introduce the first episode of our series looking at trending apps and mobile games. For our inaugural episode, we would like to take a look at Kim Kardashian: Hollywood with YouTubers Brock Baker, Jacks Films, Olga Kay and Bart Baker.

    Having said this, let’s get the ball rolling shall we?

    You’ll most definitely want to check out Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Whether it’s to make fun of it as Olga pointed out or to watch dollar bills drop from under Kim’s skirt as Bart pointed out. It’ll certainly be entertaining all around.

    The game which was launched June of this year by Glu Games Inc. has undoubtedly received a lot of attention. So much attention, in fact, that it has been estimated that the game will make $200m by the end of the year.

    It’s something of a phenomenon for sure.

    Will you be purchasing the game?

    What game should we play and review next? Let us know!

  • Xbox gets Tomb Raider as exclusive
    Microsoft reveals Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an exclusive for its Xbox platform despite Sony’s PlayStation consoles enjoying stronger sales.
  • South Korea's Only Astronaut Just Quit Her Job
    Yi So-yeon, South Korea’s first and only astronaut, just quit her job.

    The 36-year-old engineer cited personal reasons in her resignation letter to the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, according to media reports in Korea.

    Yi, who has been on a leave of absence to pursue an MBA in the U.S., became the first Korean in space in 2008 when she rode on a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station. She spent 11 days on the ISS and then spent the next four years working for the institute before deciding to pursue the degree.

    In the wake of Yi’s resignation, South Koreans are questioning the government’s decision to spend millions in taxpayer money on the astronaut, The Korean Herald reported. The institute reportedly spent more than $25 million to send her into space.

    Yi herself faced criticism last year for her decision to pursue her MBA. She defended her decision at that time by saying her goal was to advance Korean space technology, adding, “It was a decision I made after realizing that I can’t live the rest of my life talking about what I did in space for 11 days.”

  • Are Women Really Suffering from 'Tinderella Syndrome'?
    When one of my favorite radio stations, WCCO in Minneapolis, called me to discuss the ‘Tinderella Syndrome’ and wanted my take if women weren’t able to approach and meet men offline because of their addiction to Tinder and mobile dating apps, I thought the concept made no sense to me at all.

    In an article on the Daily Mail, it mentions that Psychologist Emma Kenny believes that online dating breeds impatience and insecurity. Are singles really insecure because they’re dating online? I don’t think so. I know some women might feel badly offline that they aren’t meeting anyone, and they are taking matters into their own digital hands by creating online dating profiles and swiping right and left on Tinder with the hopes of connecting with someone to meet IRL.

    Here are the reasons I don’t believe in the ‘Tinderella Syndrome.’

    1. Mobile apps make it easier to connect with people close by. Let’s face it. We’re all busy people juggling work, social calendars and family commitments. Those who are interested in meeting someone close by can easily log onto Tinder by signing up through Facebook, posting six photos, and can take the time to view a profile instead of just swiping right or left to give a digital thumbs up or down on a profile. If the profile indicates they’re really looking to meet someone for a relationship, they can start chatting instantly if it’s a mutual match.

    2. Almost 35 percent of married couples met online. A study from the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that about one-third of marriages were as a result of online.

    3. A Pew Research study shows that 59 percent of Americans think that online dating is a good way to meet people. With over half of Americans thinking online dating is the way to go, remember that most singles are using mobile dating apps, which speed up the process.

    4. Mobile dating apps and online dating sites help those who are shy communicate with potential dates. It’s my opinion that using dating apps and dating sites only helps those who are too shy to approach someone in a bar to say hello. By chatting online, I think self-esteem can be improved and communicating skills with potential dates will also become easier. The key is to take your relationship from online to offline and meet IRL.

    5. Online dating stigma is pretty much gone. It’s a matter of time that the stigma for Tinder or mobile dating apps for hookups will also diminish. Already we are seeing many relationships of couples who’ve found love on Tinder.

    If you’re worried that Tinder doesn’t result in meeting in person, if your mutual match isn’t communicating with you or interested in meeting, just move on. Tinder reports they are seeing 10 million matches a day and 850 million swipes per day. With all of that activity, it’s pretty easy to figure out who’s playing the game and who will want to meet. If their profile is rather empty and they only say, “hey,” it’s probably not going to become a meaningful relationship.

    In my conversation with John Hines from WCCO – CBS Radio, I told him that Tinder is known to have a membership base of mostly 18-34 year olds and many aren’t looking for a serious relationship and are hooking up. But some are truly looking for a new digital outlet to find a date or love. Tinder fills that need.

    Yes, Tinder is like a game and it asks you to keep playing instead of suggesting that you meet in person. There will always be those who love the digital ego boost of flirting online, with or without Tinder. However, there will always be those who truly are looking for a connection. Tinder makes it easy to connect. It’s up to you to decide if the relationship is ready to move offline.

    If you truly believe you can’t meet someone offline because you’d rather chat online, think about how your life was before the days of Tinder. Were you able to have conversations with interesting people at a party? Did you find offline chemistry before or ever smile at someone at a coffee shop? Online dating is just one way to engage with healthy communications. A combination of online and offline dating will indeed help you find someone compatible to date.

    As time goes on, we will see that more and more singles in their 40s and up will also be using Tinder, due to the ease of creating a profile and the flexibility of connecting on the fly with singles in their geographic area. I have a feeling, they’re also meeting people offline as well.

    Do you believe in the ‘Tinderella Syndrome?’

    Julie Spira is an online dating expert and was an early adopter of Internet dating and is the founder of CyberDatingExpert.com. Julie helps single women and men find love on the Internet, on Tinder, and other mobile dating apps. For more dating advice, follow @JulieSpira on Twitter and sign up for the free Cyber-Dating Expert Weekly Flirt.

  • New Express Clutch Will Charge Your Phone, Change Your Life
    Wearable technology is in, and major retailers are catching on.

    Express is the latest to hop on board with the “smart” trend, introducing an accessory that is sure to be a game-charger…ahem, game-changer.

    charger

    Called the “Portable Charger Clutch,” this new accessory literally lives up to its name. It charges your smart phone (iPhone or Android) by using a USB device and a mini-charger that remain inside a “pouch” within the clutch. There’s enough juice to fully charge your phone twice.

    charger

    Many startups have already created purses that will charge your phone, (like the emPOWERED, the Everpurse or this Cuyana tote) but the items are far more expensive. Express is one of first major retailers to offer a clutch that will resonate with a wider array of consumers, making the purse less of a luxury item and more of an affordable must-have.

    Available in black, red and leopard, the smaller size will retail for anywhere from $59.90 to $69.90, while larger clutches will set you back $89.90 to $99.90.

    To get even more bang for your buck, we’d also recommend keeping the clutch in your daytime backpack, briefcase or tote so your phone is fully charged when you’re on the go. Check out the photos below:

    charger

    charger

  • Oregon Man Claims Apple Store Employee Handed Him Receipt With Anti-Gay Message
    An Oregon man is crying foul after a local Apple Store employee allegedly handed him a receipt printed with an anti-gay slur in place of an email address.

    The Oregonian reports that Adam Catanzarite, who self-identifies as queer, was handed the receipt after he purchased a set of $29 earpods from the Pioneer Place Apple Store in Portland on July 8.

    A photo of the receipt, which Catanzarite posted on both Facebook and Imgur, shows “f@g.com” printed in the space normally reserved for customer emails.

    A spokeswoman for Apple told The Oregonian that the company is aware of the incident, but did not comment further, according to the report.

    Earlier this year, a transgender woman filed a complaint against Bistro 18 hookah bar in Washington, D.C., after she and eight friends (including four women and two gay men) allegedly received a receipt with “gay bitches” written on it.

    In 2013, a server at a Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Kansas was shocked to find that customers had left behind an anti-gay message on their bill in lieu of a tip.

    Two months later, a lesbian waitress at Gallop Asian Bistro in New Jersey was let go from her job after a purportedly homophobic note she received from a family criticizing her “lifestyle” and denying her a tip turned out to be a hoax.

  • Michael J Fox charity turns to tech
    The Michael J Fox Foundation and Intel have teamed up to equip Parkinson’s patients with wearable sensors to help monitor the disease.
  • AT&amp;amp;amp;T offers $200 off 4G iPads with Next upgrades to iPhone 5s and 5c
    AT&amp;T has begun a new promotion aimed at people on Next upgrade plans. If a subscriber buys an iPhone 5s or 5c, the carrier is offering $200 off a cellular-equipped iPad. That brings the price of a 16GB cellular Retina Mini down to $329, and an equivalent Air to $429. There are other stipulations as well however, namely that an iPad has to be activated under a two-year wireless agreement on a Mobile Share Value plan or a standalone data plan.



  • Soon We'll All Be Having Sex With Robots, Maybe: Scientist
    If you take selfies now, you could be boning robots later.

    That’s the message, basically, of researcher Stowe Boyd of GigaOM Research, who was quoted in a recent report by Pew Research on the role robotics and Artificial Intelligence will play in our future daily lives. The report is more concerned with whether robots are going to steal our jobs, but what’s a report on robots without at least one mention of some hot android action?

    “Robotic sex partners will become commonplace, although the source of scorn and division, the way that critics today bemoan selfies as an indicator of all that’s wrong with the world.”

    Translation: Future society might judge our digital love, but it won’t be able to stop us from doing it.

    selfieAre we SURE that hand is human…

    Assuming — and desperately hoping — that the report’s assertion that “the penetration of AI and robotics will be close to 100% in many areas” isn’t referring to sex (100 percent is a LOT), Boyd’s is the only mention of bot boinking in the report.

    But Boyd is far from the only one envisioning an automatedly amorous future. Indeed, people are already getting it on with machines. And even those who haven’t yet gone in for a robot handjob or blowjob say they would. A recent poll found that one in five people in the United Kingdom would have sex with a robot if they got the chance.

    (Hat tip: PandoDaily)

  • The Real Reason Facebook Is Forcing You To Download Messenger
    A little over a year ago, Facebook launched Facebook Home, software designed to take over some smartphones completely. It was a huge flop, but the message was clear: Facebook was on a mission to dominate the time you spend on your phone.

    The company’s recent controversial move to force iPhone and Android owners who want to keep chatting with their friends to download Facebook Messenger, its three-year-old standalone messaging app, is evidence it’s still trying to hog your time. And if it can’t take over your entire phone, it is going to bombard you with different apps until the effect is more or less the same.

    Facebook says it’s forcing people to move to Messenger because the app is faster and has more features. But the real reason is that the company wants to protect itself by diversifying its offerings. Simply put, Facebook doesn’t want to end up like another Myspace, all but abandoned for the next big thing.

    “Imagine a future where the News Feed becomes less important to people,” said Nate Elliott, a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, a research company. “They don’t want people to stop using Messenger just because they stop going to the News Feed. And that’s the risk they run if it’s all bundled together.”

    It’s a strategy Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, has alluded to in recent months. Earlier this year, the company announced Creative Labs, a unit dedicated to creating new apps that “support the diverse ways people want to connect and share.”

    “So what we’re doing with Creative Labs is basically unbundling the big blue app,” Zuckerberg told The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo in an interview in April.

    “I think on mobile, people want different things,” he said. “In mobile there’s a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences.”

    Facebook’s unbundling of Messenger fits with a series of moves the company has made over the past couple of years.

    In 2012, it spent $1 billion to buy Instagram. That seemed like a pretty big number until February, when Facebook announced it would buy the popular messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion. Since then it has also bought Moves, a fitness-tracking app, and Oculus VR, a company that makes virtual reality technology.

    For many of the companies it bought in the past, Facebook incorporated their technology into existing products and/or shuttered the services. But Instagram, WhatsApp, Moves and Oculus will continue to live on their own (though it’s unlikely they’ll be immune from Facebook’s influence).

    It’s probably what Facebook would have done with Snapchat, the hugely popular ephemeral messaging app, if Snapchat hadn’t reportedly spurned a $3 billion offer from the company last fall.

    So if (or when) you get tired of scrolling through pictures of your friends’ kids on the News Feed, you’ll log into Facebook less — but you’ll likely still use Facebook, because you’ll use Messenger and WhatsApp to communicate, Instagram to share photos, Moves to track how far you’ve walked, and any other app Facebook buys or designs in the future.

    “Having individual apps that fill a wide range of needs, no matter how different those needs, can help Facebook dominate the mobile experience,” said Elliott. “They want to offer a response to every possible mobile moment. Putting each of their tools into a separate app will insulate them should users lose interest in any one of the things Facebook offers.”

    And because Facebook is a giant advertising company, the more you use its apps, the more it knows about you.

    “Facebook is in the business of selling advertising, so the more touchpoints they have with their users across various apps and services, the more advertising revenue they stand to generate,” said Gene Dolgin, a senior manager at Endeavour Partners, a consulting firm.

    The strategy seems to be working for Facebook — four of the five top downloaded Android and iPhone apps in June, according to App Annie, an apps analytics company, are Facebook-owned, or will soon be Facebook-owned: Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. (The WhatsApp acquisition isn’t yet completed, according to a Facebook spokesperson.)

    Not all of Facebook’s attempts to diversify, or “unbundle,” have been successful, however. Facebook discontinued its Snapchat clone, Poke, and its Instagram rival, Camera, after they failed to catch on. Neither Slingshot, another attempt at an app with disappearing pictures, nor Paper, an app that mixes updates from your friends with news, have been hits with Facebookers.

    But for now, people don’t seem to be getting tired of tapping the blue icon and thumbing through the News Feed. The company reported that in the second quarter of the year, daily active users on mobile had increased 39 percent.

  • Man Reacts Through Text To Discovering His Brother Is Gay On Reddit
    This warms our cold hearts.

    When Reddit user thecly provided his brother with his username so that he could see a discussion he was engaged in on the social networking and news site, he forgot that he had also posted in the “gaybros” subreddit. As a result, thecly was outed to his brother.

    But we’re happy to report that he couldn’t have handled the news better.

    iphone

    Thecly’s little brother also reportedly added, “He’s a pretty nice guy and I love him to death, ain’t nothin gonna change that. ;)”

    Nothing like unconditional love and family support.

    (h/t The Gaily Grind & Instinct)

Mobile Technology News, August 13, 2014

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

  • VIDEO: Warning over computer viruses
    Almost 11,000 people had their computer hacked by a virus last year, giving cyber criminals access to personal data.
  • Candy Crush maker reduces forecasts
    The makers of mobile game Candy Crush Saga reduce their 2014 forecast after lower-than-expected second-quarter results.
  • 'House Of Cue Cards': Jimmy Fallon Proves 30 Rock Is Just As Sinister As Washington
    In the latest “Tonight Show” parody, Jimmy Fallon shows us how working at NBC is actually a lot like the Netflix series “House of Cards.” There’s backstabbing, a lot of talking to the camera and even a crazy twist.

    Like Fallon says, you’ll probably love it even more than using someone else’s Netflix password.

    “House of Cue Cards” Part 1

    “House of Cue Cards” Part 2

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

  • Good Technology reports jump in government, financial use of iPads
    A new report from Good Technology on enterprise mobile use has shown that Apple’s iOS continues to be the overwhelmingly dominant choice of systems for corporate mobility, with some 88 percent of all business app activations and 90 percent of tablet activations on the platform. However, Android apps climbed to 12 percent of app activations, a gain of four percentage points from the previous quarter, while Android devices climbed to 32 percent of activations versus iOS’ 67 percent.



  • Dirty Bird Fried Chicken Arouses Controversy With Logo Resembling Penis
    A catering company called Dirty Bird Fried Chicken aroused some controversy with its suggestive logo.

    Some people who see the logo think it resembles a rooster. Others think it resembles a penis at the point of no return.

    Mark James, the logo’s designer insists it’s supposed to be a barnyard bird.

    “We were given the name Dirty Bird as the brief, and started working on ideas. We looked at the initials, DB. Then worked with the lowercase ‘db’ linking them to form the shape of a rooster. It’s a graphic representation of a rooster incorporating the initials. It depends on how you look at it,” he said according to the Mirror. “I’m not sure there have been any complaints. A few comments, but it’s in the eye of the beholder, as they say.”

    Company owner Neil Young insists he never intended the logo for his Cardiff, Wales food truck to appear phallic.

    “We’ve never really thought about it like that. Our designer created a d and b for ‘dirty bird’ then pushed them together to make a cockerel,” he told Wales Online.

    Just to be clear: Dictionary.com defines “cockerel” as “a young domestic cock, usually less than a year old.” And the word “cock” in this definition means “rooster.”

    Young and James may be crying fowl about the reaction to the allegedly unintended innuendo, but it should be noted that the food truck does also have saucy giant posters telling customers to “Touch My Thigh” and “Touch My Breast.”

    dirty bird fried chicken

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  • Vine's six-second superstars cash in
    Vine clip creators cash in on their fame
  • Naval War College Professor And Snowden Critic Out After X-Rated Twitter Picture
    A frequent Edward Snowden critic and former National Security Agency analyst who was involved in an investigation over “inappropriate” content shared on Twitter is leaving his job at the Naval War College, he announced on Monday.

    “Sorry to say I’m severing my affiliation with Naval War College,” John Schindler wrote on Twitter. “I had a great time there but it’s time to move on. Thanks for your support.”

    A picture of Schindler’s penis was posted to Twitter in June by a woman who described it as part of a consensual exchange, but one that eventually turned sour.

    Naval War College spokesperson Cmdr. Kelly Brannon told the Associated Press that Schindler’s departure came after an investigation of the risque photos was concluded at the end of July. She told the news service that Schindler resigned voluntarily after being informed of possible outcomes of the investigation.

    Before the photo incident, Schindler assailed Snowden as a potential spy, and once asked whether he should call Army leaker Chelsea Manning “Glen or Glenda?” — an apparent double reference to the fact that Manning is transgender and to journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is gay. Schindler also frequently trumpeted his affiliation with the Naval War College.

    After the photo controversy, Schindler wrote on his blog that his actions “showed poor judgment and were inexcusable.” The woman who posted the photos, meanwhile, wrote online that she was “truly sorry.”

  • 'Women Against Feminism' Parody Twitter Account Says 'LOL No Thanks' To Gender Equality
    The “Women Against Feminism” Tumblr has sparked some interesting conversations on the Internet, among both people and cats. And now we can add an LOL-worthy Twitter account to the long list of responses.

    The Twitter account @NoToFeminism hilariously parodies #WomenAgainstFeminism (the account’s bio reads: “lol feminism no thanks“), using sardonic tweets to comment on the misguided movement.

    The blatantly misconstrued thoughts on feminism such as “I don’t need feminism because my sex life is not a political agenda” are even clearer in a @NoToFeminism translation: “I don’t need fesimnim because I prefer old men to be in charge of my reproductive system it is comforting like putting on grandads cardigan.” Well, when you put it that way.

    Take a look at some of our favorite tweets from @NoToFeminism below:

    I don’t need femsies because i APPRECIATE it when strange men remind to smile i am so forgetful i forget i should be smiling constantly

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 12, 2014

    I don’t need fesimnim because I prefer old men to be in charge of my reproductive system it is comforting like putting on grandads cardigan

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 7, 2014

    I don’t need fisenm because it’s easy, for allowance just give your daughter 75% of what your son gets so she won’t be surprised as an adult

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 11, 2014

    I don’t need fisimens because I like when men are chivalrous and open doors for me or give me their jacket or expose themselves on the bus

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 11, 2014

    I don’t need fisemin because people always assume you mean a man when you say ‘doctor’ but that’s just because only men can be doctors

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 11, 2014

    I don’t need femimesm because when men call me a bitch for rejecting them I imagine they mean I’m a female dog that is so nice dogs are cute

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 9, 2014

    I don’t need feminism because Men’s Rights Activists must have some good points otherwise they would be called Men’s Wrongs Activists!!!!!!!

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 11, 2014

    i don’t need femsisen because women SHOULD be kicked out of restaurants for breastfeeding i don’t want that baby fed before me i am hungry

    — WomanAgainstFeminism (@NoToFeminism) August 11, 2014

    Feminism, shmeminism.

    [h/t The Daily Dot]

  • Mobile Security vs. Blackphone Marketing and Sales Hype
    co-authored by Tom Malatesta, CEO, Ziklag Systems

    For those focused on the subject matter, yesterday’s Tweet fest from TeamAndIRC and Blackphone was both curious and good theatre. 2014-08-12-geeksphoneblackphone1.png

    Silent Circle is a venture backed company and has raised some serious funding, part of it from Ross Perot, Jr. They have entered into a partnership with a small company in Spain to produce an allegedly “secure” mobile phone. Their global headquarters are now in Switzerland, presumably to position themselves as a truly neutral and “unbiased” international company. Silent Circle teamed up with Geeksphone, a small company that markets phones it does not make. Their Smartphones are either Android or Firefox based. The company supposedly has expertise in adapting operating systems and arranging for off shore manufacturing of their products.

    Since the Snowden leaks began, privacy advocates have been hyper ventilating about the range of NSA’s operations, particularly on the domestic front. Because we live in a globalized world, NSA’s operations are a fire starter and both the press and myriad cyber security personalities and entities have been dancing around the fire and stoking the flames by making or insinuating anti-NSA sentiment to promote their products. NSA performs an incredibly important role in protecting Americans but it also appears they play an unintentional supporting role in hyping cyber and mobile security products.

    So the question is, do Blackphone’s promotional efforts live up to the actual performance of the device? It seems not. Hacker Justin Chase at the recent Black Hat USA Security Conference in Las Vegas (a great event) got his hands on a Blackphone and had some fun with it. We know from reading the Tweets and press that he found vulnerabilities in a brief time frame. Three announced. Maybe more kept private. The company reacted and claimed this and that stating their team is still looking into the vulnerabilities they have found so far, with one portion still being examined and that will be disclosed privately when fully understood. In other words the device has a problem. It may or may not be remedied.

    The world of cyber and mobile security has a great many hacker capabilities and individuals that labor for the dark side. A large number of companies work hard to mitigate threats and increase the productivity of users. Significant investment is going into the space. Blackphone has done a lot of PR since the Mobile World Conference in February 2014.They state on their website that their product is the result of the best privacy minds in the industry and that they have the best-of-breed hardware without the usual security compromises.

    It would seem Justin Chase disagrees with them. So is the Blackphone hype or reality?

  • Tim Cook Is 'Not Satisfied' With Apple Workforce Diversity
    By Christina Farr
    SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc on Tuesday released a report on employee diversity, and its numbers are similar to those of other Silicon Valley companies, prompting Chief Executive Tim Cook to say there is still work to be done.
    The employee survey comes on the heels of recent reports from technology companies Google Inc and Twitter Inc, but it is unique in one significant way. It alone is accompanied by letter from a company CEO, in which Cook stresses the company’s commitment to being “innovative in advancing diversity.”
    Blacks and Hispanics make up about 18 percent of Apple’s workforce, a ratio that is about triple of those of most other tech firms. Nine percent of its workers did not disclose their ethnicity.
    Apple breaks down the numbers into three categories: leadership, technology and non-technology. The technology category, which is 80 percent male, includes Genius Bar employees and engineers.
    The numbers include its large contingent of store management employees. Apple runs 254 retail stores in the United States and 427 globally, according to its most recent quarterly report.
    “As CEO, I’m not satisfied with the numbers on this page,” he wrote. “They’re not new to us, and we’ve been working hard for quite some time to improve them.”
    But Cook noted that Apple’s definition of diversity goes beyond traditional categories such as race and gender. “It includes personal qualities that usually go unmeasured, such as sexual orientation, veteran status and disabilities,” he wrote.
    The diversity reports have spurred a national debate about the lack of diversity at Silicon Valley’s tech companies and how to improve the ratio. At Google, some 70 percent of employees are also male, and 61 percent are white. Twitter’s overall employee population is 70 percent male and 59 percent white.
    While Apple’s numbers are similar to those of its competitors, some experts say that the company is a step ahead of the rest.
    “Apple will do everything it can to make their workforce look more like the population they serve,” said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications and marketing at the Human Rights Campaign. For 13 years running, the HRC has awarded Apple a perfect score on its corporate equality index, which rates American workplaces on LGBT equality.
    After taking the reigns, Cook promoted Cuban-American Eddy Cue to a leadership role at Apple, and brought on former Burberry chief executive Angela Ahrendts. The company also recruited Lisa Jackson, the first African American to head up the Environmental Protection Agency, to run its environmental efforts.
    In recent years, Apple executives have spoken out publicly in support of a variety of social and environmental causes, including diversity, accessibility and human rights. Cook made an appearance at the San Francisco Pride Festival for the first time this summer to cheer on thousands of employees and their families who showed up. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/29/usa-gay-tech-idUSL2N0PA0IW20140629)

    (Reporting By Christina Farr; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

  • The Entire History Of Amazon Kindle In 1 GIF
    In case you’ve forgotten how clunky the Amazon Kindle used to look, check out this new GIF chronicling the e-reader’s transformation from 2007 to today.

    Created by tech review site Gadget Love, the animation shows Kindle shedding its cumbersome keyboard, then a few arrow buttons, before finally donning a touchscreen:

    Amazon has continued to invest in the Kindle over the years, despite some road bumps with the device’s popularity. While Amazon doesn’t reveal sales numbers for its devices, tablets like the iPad have eaten into e-reader sales. But if the iterations are any indication, Amazon isn’t ready to give up yet on its flagship e-reader.

    (Hat tip: Mashable)

  • VIDEO: JustPark may 'revolutionise parking'
    A technology firm which claims it is going to revolutionise parking in the capital has just won backing from a major investment firm.
  • How Google Explains the World
    I sure hope someone somewhere is archiving all Google autocomplete data. If I were a social anthropologist living in the year 2150, not that far off in the larger scheme of things, I would be very interested in what hundreds of millions of people were searching the Internet for in the early part of the 21st century, a time when paper books were still easy to find and only a select few were using 3-D printers to print their condoms and toothbrushes at home. I would sigh with nostalgia for these good old days in the same way we sigh about The Roaring Twenties or La Belle Époque. Technically, you had to have been there for nostalgia but who wants to get technical.

    When Google first became popular, I, along with countless others, started playing doctor on Google. It did not take me long to realize that with a few “intelligently” framed keywords, even the most benign of symptoms easily led to a fatal diagnosis. Days were spent worrying about the almost certain throat cancer Dr. Google suggested I had after three days of an earache. The only thing left to do then was to Google how many days I had to live, but I wanted to leave some things to my doctor and insurance company, after all. This was pre-2008 — the medieval dark ages of the great wide Interweb.

    In 2008, Google launched Autocomplete and I thought to myself — “This changes everything.” (In usual 20/20 hindsight, I now feel I should have copyrighted this three-word phrase because it has since been used, with abandon, by almost every new iPhone launch and every popular smartphone game involving birds, aliens or both.) I digress, though.

    When in 2008, Google launched Autocomplete, then coyly named “Google Suggest,” I hastily planned to take a few days off from work just to soak myself in the pool of endless possibilities that this had just opened up. This was voyeurism at its best.

    The 2013 film, Her, nominated for five Academy awards tells the story of a man who develops a relationship with an intelligent operating system. Every moment, tens of thousands of people around the world are playing out parts of that story, to varying degrees.

    The whys, whats and hows of human existence, from the mundane to the existential, are now being asked in the Google search bar, countless times a day. The seven Google Autocomplete questions below show a sliver of these sometimes funny, sometimes sad and often telling snapshots of the human condition.

    2014-08-12-Screenshot2014071719.20.34.png

    2014-08-12-Screenshot2014071719.35.20.png

    2014-08-12-Screenshot2014071719.30.33.png

    2014-08-12-Screenshot2014071719.29.33.png

    2014-08-12-Screenshot2014071719.29.52.png

    2014-08-12-Screenshot2014071719.37.37.png

    2014-08-12-Screenshot2014071719.35.38.png

  • Sony reveals PlayStation TV launch
    Sony will launch its PlayStation TV in the US, UK, and Europe in the autumn in a bid to take on other streaming television consoles like AppleTV and Roku.
  • Beats Music now being pushed to new iOS device users
    People setting up an iOS 7 device for the first time are now seeing Beats Music among the list of recommended Apple apps, according to anecdotes. The App Store splash page is otherwise full of titles like iBooks, Podcasts, Find My iPhone, and the iWork suite. Notably Beats Music is the only one to require payments, since it’s based on monthly subscription plans.



  • This Flow-Motion Video Provides An Eye-Opening Window Into North Korea
    With the abundance of technology available today, it’s possible to explore the world’s most exotic locations right from our computer screens. However, one place we read about often — but hardly ever see — is North Korea.

    That’s about to change.

    rob whitworth nk cityscape

    In “Enter Pyongyang,” British photographer Rob Whitworth and city branding expert JT Singh present a look at Pyongyang, North Korea through blending time-lapse photography, acceleration, slow motion, HD and digital animation. From four days’ worth of filming, they’ve produced a video that blends beautiful scenery with intimate shots of ordinary urban life.

    In an email to The Huffington Post, Whitworth said that their level of access to the city — organized by Beijing-based Koryo Tours, who also paid for their travel expenses — had never been provided to a foreign film crew before.

    rob whitworth nk soccer

    However, with this opportunity came a set of restrictions. Images of North Korean leaders could not be cropped, and the city prohibited filming of construction or military sites, he said. The filmmakers also note on the video’s Vimeo page that filming was “closely assisted” by the North Korean government’s tourism guides.

    There is much debate over the ethics of tourism to North Korea, with critics saying visitors — however unwittingly — can provide funds and propaganda material to a state accused of committing atrocities against its people. The video also focuses on urban life in the capital city, while in rural areas the UN found has evidence of starvation, mass incarceration and torture.

    rob whitworth nk metro 2

    Despite the filming restrictions, Whitworth said their visit to Pyongyang was “beguiling.”

    “It was so different from the ground up,” he said. “For example, the lack of advertising really makes you aware of how completely saturated we are with it in the West. The country’s culture struck me as very reserved and polite. Despite an evident lack of resources, the people were very dignified.”

    rob whitworth nk metro train

    Whitworth said one of his favorite moments on the trip — a visit to a skate park on the group’s last day — shows that some sights in North Korea are more familiar than you might think.

    “There was something so disarming about skating around on a sunny afternoon, racing kids around corners, getting laughed at when you fell over,” Whitworth said. “It could have been anywhere on earth.”

    rob whitworth nk tower

  • How To Watch The Perseid Meteor Shower Online (LIVE VIDEO)
    Prepare for the peak!

    The Perseid meteor shower is set to swing into full view in the overnight hours between Aug. 12 and Aug. 13. The sky show was partially obscured by the supermoon earlier this week. But during the peak, well-situated skywatchers should be able to see 30 to 40 meteors per hour, weather permitting.

    For the best view of the Perseids, skywatchers should step outside between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m., according to NASA, which whipped up a handy map to show where in the world the shooting stars will be visible.

    (Story continues below)
    map

    For astronomy buffs who can’t see the show in person, Slooh Space Camera will live stream the Perseid meteor shower starting at 7 p.m. EDT — check it out above. The webcast will feature views of the shower from a telescope in the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa.

    NASA will offer its own live stream of the shower, with coverage from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. The space agency’s webcast, available here, will begin at 9:30 p.m. EDT.

  • Is This Your Car?
    We’ve known for months that a new contractor was about to build in our neighborhood. We were excited as well as a bit nervous. New home construction comes with all sorts of variables and challenges for the existing neighbors. There’s the headache of construction debris, the constant traffic, the noise, and the influx of the labor force. Yet we’re looking forward to a new set of neighbors. Our quiet, unassuming neighborhood was about to go through a 180-degree about-face. But we needed it. We needed someone to come in and turn our neighborhood around, fix our pool, finish the clubhouse, and maintain the amenities. So although the transition could be challenging, the end result would be worth it. Or so we hope, because the jury’s still out.

    The builder would also come into this relationship with challenges. And as the tenant of the home across the street from their new model home, one would assume that the builder would want to start off on the right foot with the new neighbors.

    So imagine my disappointment when the first words out of the mouth of the initial point person in this new relationship was, is this your car? Not good morning, not my name is, not hello.

    “Is this your car?”

    “Yes.”

    “We’re about to start building here, you need to move it.”

    “And good morning to you, too.”

    Sheesh!

    Here’s the deal folks. You only get one shot at a first impression. One. Who’s going to make that impression? Not your CEO. Not your CFO. Not your Director of Human Resources. Chances are it’s going to be a front line team member or your social media.

    I don’t care if you’re selling dreams, a new lifestyle, horsepower, bicycles, artichokes, or an opportunity to retire in luxury. You best make the right first impression or all of that may go right down the drain.

    Now imagine if that first encounter with this builder came with a greeting: “Good morning, I’m Robert Jones. I’m head of construction for West Field Construction and tomorrow morning we’re going to start building across the street. This is Julio, he’s our Construction Supervisor and here’s our contact information should you ever have any concerns. And your name is?”

    Your social media should be in sync with your company’s. If you’re going to be on social media, no matter what you’re selling, make sure that your people are portraying the same image as their employer. If you own a strip club, no one will be surprised to see photographs of pole dancers showing off their legacy. For the rest of us, your people better have it buttoned up. If you want to go out on the town with your co-workers on Friday night, go right ahead.

    2014-08-10-drunk_girls.jpg

    But DO NOT post anything on your social media about how you “Love hangin’ with the Wild Bunch at Company XYZ!”

    Remember, your social media may be someone else’s first impression of your company. And when a prospect interacts with your social media, what will their first impression be? Make sure it counts. And if your team isn’t accurately representing their employer, perhaps it’s time for some counseling.

    As for my builder, there’s always the next project and another shot at making a better first impression.

  • It's a Start-Up World
    2014-08-12-emergingcollective3.jpg

    Over the last decade the number of start-ups in the New York City area has exploded. New York now ranks second in the nation behind Silicon Valley, and its numbers are growing at more than twice the pace of its West Coast competitors.

    To some degree, any business being launched from scratch is a “start-up.” However, over the last decade the term has taken on providential airs. The ideal start-up promises to disrupt conventional ways of doing things, imagine novel social orderings, and remodel our commercial and personal interactions. For the next few months, I will dedicate this blog towards profiling young New York City start-ups that appear to be fulfilling this promise.

    Emerging Collective: serving emerging artists from emerging markets.

    Emerging Collective is the brain child of Raj Udeshi, a graduate of ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s technology incubator, and the co-founder of HiddenLevers, a macro stress testing and predictive analytics technology company. Founded barely seven months ago, Emerging Collective intends to challenge today’s euro-centric art market by fostering north-south dialogue and cultivating artists from emerging economies.

    I interviewed its founder, Raj and staff members, Karima Gottschlack (Project Manager) and Asa Keeler-Wolf (Art Direction):

    What’s it like launching a start-up in New York?

    Raj: As the financial crisis was happening in 2008-9, Bloomberg worried that there would be a talent exodus from New York. And it’s true, lots of talented people left for Asia and Europe. Atlanta, where we have HiddenLever’s other headquarters, was also a big receiver of New York people.

    Bloomberg wanted to prevent this, so he began cultivating cheap office space. Also, he decided to pivot the spotlight towards start-ups and away from Wall Street. He began attending NYC Tech Meetups, and now they’re creating this giant tech campus on Roosevelt Island, trying to make the future of tech come to New York.

    When I founded Hiddenlevers in 2009, the cofounder was in Atlanta, and we had 4 people in New York and 4 in Atlanta. Soon though we decided to shift all our operations to New York, not only for the finance connections but also for the cheap office space.

    Partially thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts, there are all these new co-work spaces with à la carte pricing. Everything’s month to month. If I were to do this in Atlanta, or in Chicago where I grew up, I would have to sign a year-long lease, and go through a credit check. Here I just sign up for month to month and they accept me if they like my business plan. I can grow organically, expand and contract as I want. All services included.

    Sure, in Atlanta, you have tons of people who work out of garages and homes. However, I feel that starting a real project requires a certain level of professionalism. You need office space where you can come to work properly, and where you have to prove yourself.

    How has this changed the start-up ecosystem in New York?

    Raj: The explosion of co-working spaces has revolutionized the environment for start-ups. Above all, there’s the water-cooler effect. It’s amazing to have all these creative minds working together. I get advice from the other entrepreneurs; learn from them and they learn from me.

    For instance, when I was in the Bloomberg incubator, whatever resources or ideas we had would be especially bolstered by the people who didn’t like our ideas. We’d go back to the drawing board and figure out something better.

    How has it been moving from a finance start-up to an art one?

    Raj: I think there’s actually a lot of cross over. Lots of management principles are the same, and skills like people management, and business sales. For instance, I use the same gorilla methods to find spaces for my artists that I used before to acquire financial data. We have a tech start-up mentality for Emerging Collective, even if it is officially an art non-profit.

    Being in New York makes that easy. The New York brand is very helpful for tech, art and finance. There’s so much great talent coming out of the local art and business schools. So talent recruitment is a lot more seamless. People are coming here to make their dreams happen. If you’re trying to do something next level, you come here.

    How does that contrast with Silicon Valley?

    RaJ: Unlike in the Bay Area there’s a lot of industry expertise in New York. You have all these people with great experience, who are disillusioned with their various industries. So you get exiles from those industries who move into start-ups. For instance Karima and Asa both took pay-cuts to make things happen over here at Emerging Collective.

    All the industry expertise in the Bay area is tech, so it’s internal. Here in New york, there’s fashion, finance, retail, event planning, the art world. There’s tons of different industries, so you can staff up all sorts of start-ups.

    What do you think attracts people to start-ups?

    Raj: People like the work-life balance of start-ups. For kids coming out of school now, there’s a lot of disillusionment with the government and with traditional companies. For instance, there’s a lot of time wasted in corporate jobs. People hang out, and there’s all this unnecessary face-time. For people interested in working really hard and building something, start-ups are the way to go.

    What do you think makes a start-up successful? Did you have good investors for HiddenLevers?

    Raj: HiddenLevers is entirely bootstrapped and self-funded. We are really rare that way. We never did a round of fundraising.

    When you use cloud-based software, your business is very scalable. You can build it up organically. People think that getting Venture Capital (VC) funding is winning, but it’s just getting started. I was never interested in that model. It means you have a gun to your head and a real job. Go big or go home. Instead I built a small business, which I have been continuously scaling.

    If you want your project to be successful, you need to take advantage of three or four macro-trends in the larger economy. It can’t be you against the river. The river has to go with you. For HiddenLevers this was the growth of big data analytics, stress-testing by the Federal Reserve, and images as communication – visually representing market trends.

    For Emerging Collective, two macro trends are the explosion of globalization and a new focus on emerging markets. Phaidon, the publisher, recently came out with a book called Cities of the Future that focuses on the global south. Also the next Ted Global Conference is called Ted Global South and will be in Rio de Janeiro. You are also starting to see action in all these new markets; not just the BRICS but even peripheral ones. It’s really exciting stuff. Not just China but Lebanon.

    Another macro trend is a new hunger for immersive experiences. People expect more from the shows they are going to. People want to see, touch, feel. In this era in which material items are a commodity, experience is a luxury. Live music is back. People want to have a look inside the creative process. They want to see how the food is made. So we want to work with artists who create an experience.

    Where did you get the idea for Emerging Collective?

    RaJ: The idea came from a group of people, friends and associates, who travel frequently in the global south (Sao Paolo, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Delhi, Bogota, Beirut, Johannesburg). You see a lot of those places sending people to and from New York; lots of migration. The art scene in these areas is dynamic. There’s this really incredible mix in these Southern urban centers of tech savvy, economic growth, and geo-political stakes: the emergence of democracy from political oppression (Bogota, Hanoi), or, conversely, the descent into chaos in Syria or Egypt.

    The way to tell these stories is through art. Especially since journalists are often killed in these places for writing the truth. So people who want to expose these issues turn to art.

    We think the art scenes in the global south deserve more exposure. The art market today is too euro-centric. For instance, even though China is now the world’s biggest art market, you don’t see enough Chinese art. This is part of the nature of the gallery scene. It’s tough to crack into it as a new artist.

    Asa: Raja and I met at Art Basel in Miami, and we were both tired of white wine, white walls, and white people, as the environment for viewing art. New York is hungry for new ways to engage in art and society. I saw this project as potent and promising.

    Raj: Very central to what we do is expanding the north-south dialogue, finding a common ground between the emerging world and mature markets. We try to cultivate a mentality of not having the US and Europe in control of everything.

    How do you make this happen?

    RaJ: We have a mentorship program; a dual artist residency. One globally recognized senior artist and an emerging artist; a top talent, who will be a future star. We have them come from different parts of the world and meet.

    New York is littered with world-renowned artists, and we’ve already seen significant interest from big name artists to do something like this. The north-south dialogue is something that will become more and more important over the next fifty years as the world gets smaller and as this country also gets smaller.

    So what will be your first exhibition?

    Our first exhibition will be a renowned Chinese activist artist living in exile, and a younger Iraq war veteran from here in the United States.

Mobile Technology News, August 12, 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.

  • UK satellite's view of Planet Earth
    The UK’s TechDemoSat captures video of the deep blue Earth in what is thought to be a first-of-its-kind movie sequence from a wholly British-built spacecraft.
  • Purest-ever silicon in quantum fix
    Physicists make the purest silicon ever seen, solving a supply problem for research into quantum computers.
  • Robin Williams' Final Instagram Shows Touching Family Photo
    Robin Williams, the beloved actor who died of an apparent suicide Monday, posted a touching photograph on Instagram two weeks earlier that showed him holding his daughter, Zelda Rae Williams, when she was a young child:

    Williams, who was 63 years old, is survived by three children: Zachary, 31; Zelda, 25, and Cody, 22. Zelda is also an actress. His wife, graphic designer Susan Schneider, with whom he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, said in a statement Monday that she was “utterly heartbroken.”

    “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings,” she added. “As he is remembered, it is our hope that the focus will not be on Robin’s death but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.”

    Fans took to Williams’ Instagram page to express their own grief, and dozens of celebrities paid tribute on Twitter.

    In earlier Instagram posts, Zelda Williams shared pictures of her family in happier times:

    According to his publicist, the actor had been suffering from severe depression. Last month, HuffPost confirmed Williams had checked into a rehab facility in Minnesota in what representatives said was an effort to maintain his sobriety.

    Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • The eclectic, electric collective
    The eclectic, electric geek artist collective
  • Quantum computers to crack the world
    Could superfast computers take us back to a digital dark age?
  • How to Keep Your Car from Becoming a High-Tech Death Trap
    2014-08-10-hbcarforHP.jpg

    What if driving your car exposed you to the tender mercies of online criminals the same way that using a credit card at Target last fall or trusting personal information to a Heartbleed-compromised site did?

    You may already be exposed

    2014-08-10-charlieandchris.png

    Last year, security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek showed, using some late-model cars, that a laptop aboard a speeding vehicle could be used to steer it off the road. This week, Miller and Valasek released a follow-up study of some cars’ exposure to remote attacks over the Internet that lists the models they found most and least hackable. (If you own a 2014 Dodge Viper, Audi A8, or Honda Accord, congratulations!) [Photo credit: Miller & Valasek]

    More features = More risk
    As more and more cars are connected to the Internet and embellished with new features, such as adaptive cruise control and parking assist that rely on software and embedded computing devices, the risk of a remote hacker killing or maiming drivers and passengers will only grow.

    Have such lethal incidents occurred yet? Probably not, given the technical difficulty of pulling off such a feat. But the truth is that we don’t really know. According to a group led by computer security experts, new high-tech cars lack the capability, akin to an aircraft’s “black box,” to gather the data needed to document and investigate such acts.

    That group, a grassroots organization called I am the Cavalry, found the car industry so lacking in attention to computer security that it just published an open letter to the industry’s CEOs asking them to work with computer security researchers to improve the security of new cars now — before a disaster occurs that harms drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.

    The automotive industry has often resisted calls for safety improvements, dating back at least to the publication in 1965 of Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed. In the years after that book’s publication, despite that resistance, car safety in the U.S. was improved (including the requirement of seat belts in all cars starting in 1968), after which Americans’ rate of auto deaths began an unprecedented decline that continues to this day.

    What you can do

    2014-08-10-petition.png

    Want to tell the car industry to do the right thing and work with security professionals to make high-tech cars safer for you and your family? Click on and sign the above petition at Change.org posted by I am The Cavalry — and tell your friends to do the same.

    Better security is about more than just cars

    Computer security is arising as a problem that can endanger you and your family for a variety of products besides cars. New gadgets for the home (e.g. Internet-connected security systems and door locks), medical devices, and our public infrastructure are all becoming more dependent on software and Internet connectivity in a society-wide development known as the Internet of Things. I’ll be covering many more of the consumer safety issues raised by the technology in cars and the Internet of Things at my blog, StateoftheNet.Net.

    I am The Cavalry, which is seeking nonprofit status, plans to help improve safety in all industries where the rapid adoption of technology affects public safety and human life. In the video below that I shot at a press event at this year’s DEFCON conference in Las Vegas, the organization’s founders, security researchers Josh Corman and Nick Percoco, explain how they have learned to adapt a popular hacking technique called fuzzing to influence manufacturers and policymakers by what they call “fuzzing the chain of influence:”

  • Is Your Child Old Enough to Text and Post Online?
    What is the “right” age for youngsters to begin texting and using social media?

    As the Mom of two young daughters and an educator on bullying prevention, I field this question frequently. Truly, there is great debate on the subject among professionals, along with a whole lot of hand-wringing by parents. As adults, we are all-too-aware of dangers online — both from anonymous predators and familiar “frenemies” who use the Internet as a weapon. Indeed, social media sites are ripe for cyberbullying. Kids (and adults!) feel liberated to post cruel messages and taunts online without the discomfort of having to say to a peer’s face.

    As with most aspects of childrearing, there isn’t a simple one-age-fits-all guideline for starting to use social media or texting. From “safety” and “convenience” to the ever-urgent “all the other kids have them” rationales, ultimately, each family will make their own decision about what is “right” for their kids. In this day and age, almost every child will be exposed to technology sooner rather than later.

    So, while I do not offer black and white answers to parents as far as “right ages,” what I do offer are suggestions for teaching kids how to use technology in ways that reflect family values and respect the dignity of their peers.

    1. Choose Your Words Carefully

    If you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, don’t send it via text or the Internet. Technology makes it too easy to say things that are impulsive or unkind. Also, the person reading your message can’t see your expressions or hear your tone of voice. Sarcasm and humor often get lost in translation on the ‘net, so avoid their use. Type carefully as well; avoid using ALL CAPS since they make it look like you are angry or YELLING.

    2. The Internet is Not a Weapon

    Don’t gossip about other people while you are online. Your words can be misinterpreted, manipulated and forwarded without your permission. Plus, it’s not fair to talk about people when they can’t defend themselves. Likewise, social media sites should never be used to strategically exclude peers who are “on the outs” of a peer group or to “de-friend” a person after a fight.

    3. Who is this Message For?

    What happens in cyberspace stays in cyberspace — forever! Though you may think you are sending your private message or photo to a single recipient, keep in mind that it can be cut, pasted and forwarded to an infinite number of people. Never post a photo or message that you wouldn’t want “everyone” to be able to view.

    4. Kindness Matters

    Be kind and do not ever use email to say ugly, nasty or mean things about anyone or to anyone. ANYONE. Ever! Stop and ask yourself, What would Mom think if she read this? Post accordingly!

    5. Take a Breather

    In this world of instant messaging and constant contact, you may be tempted to say whatever comes to your mind in a given moment. Don’t do it! Slow down and think before you post whatever thought, comeback or reaction is on your mind — especially if you are feeling an intense emotion like anger or sadness. Wait until you have had a chance to think things through and cool your head before you post a message that can’t be taken back.

    Signe Whitson is an author and international educator on bullying prevention, crisis intervention, and child and adolescent emotional and behavioral health. For more information or workshop inquiries, please visit www.signewhitson.com and check out Signe’s latest book, 8 Keys to End Bullying: Strategies for Parents & Schools.

  • Teen Choice Awards Might Have Been Rigged, Twitter Freaks Out
    They did it for the Vine.

    During the Teen Choice Awards Sunday night, August 10, Vine stars, Cameron Dallas and Matthew Espinosa, exposed a possible scandal by revealing that the award show had actually contacted winners days before voting closed. Savvy Twitter users quickly posted screen grabs of the tweets and the hashtag #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards started trending.

    That’s honestly annoying. We voted our asses off and it didn’t even count. #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards pic.twitter.com/RHTHNseeBc

    — ur not Taylor Caniff (@Hayitschloeee) August 11, 2014

    In addition to the Viners’ tweets, some tweeters also posted screen grabs from last year’s show stating that producers have the final say on the winners.

    HOLY SHEETT #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards pic.twitter.com/Y10fwDRxRR

    — *:・゚✧⋆ Ella ⋆✧ *:・゚ (@ridedallas) August 11, 2014

    Needless to say, Twitter flipped the flip out.

    the perfume picture was days before the voting closed,yet they’re dressed the exactsame #teensdonthaveachoiceawards pic.twitter.com/dkEXzyOHJd

    — One Direction ♕ (@1DirectionFabs) August 11, 2014

    My childhood has been a lie. All the times I spent voting for nothing, lol. #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards pic.twitter.com/4PXaMvUVMI

    — TYSM CARTER (@BeliebinMagcon) August 11, 2014

    I’m probably just gonna vote for the People’s Choice Awards…….. #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards

    — Adrian çåštrœ (@adriguzcas) August 11, 2014

    Just look at how many times Adam Sandler has won for funniest male and you can tell it’s rigged #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards

    — Christopher Palumbo (@Veroswene) August 11, 2014

    Reading the reaction to the news that the Teen Choice Awards were rigged. In a related story, I can’t breathe. #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards

    — Austin Shinn (@untitleduser) August 11, 2014

    No one is watching next year! I know I’m not I’m super pissed… #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards

    — cara hemmings/malik (@caramckeown) August 11, 2014

    #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards I love Ariana but there is no way Beyoncé could have lost to her unless it was rigged which it was

    — THANK U AUSTIN ILYSM (@RocinKidrauhl) August 11, 2014

    And of course some cynical tweeters had to jump in and give their opinions.

    The #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards hashtag is hilarious if you want to see kids learning for the first time nobody cares about their opinion.

    — Maître Esquire (@SpicyTunaTroll) August 11, 2014

    #TeensDontHaveAChoiceAwards This hashtag brought to you be the #RainIsWet Institute.

    — Nick Sestanovich (@Nsestanovich) August 11, 2014

    The practice of producers contacting winners has reportedly been in place at various award shows for a while. So though it probably won’t change anything, the Vine stars should rest assured that the unexpected backlash against the show was pretty much the equivalent of giving the Teen Choice Awards the #SmackCam.

  • These New Wireless Speakers Help Quell Our Music Addiction
    Being music addicts, we need access to our tunes in the bedroom, living room, boardroom and dorm room – – – even outdoors, if possible. With that in mind, we took a look at five wireless speaker systems and weren’t disappointed.

    On the surface, they all have the same features: Bluetooth connectivity, awesome sound and, in all but one case, portability. But there are several features that also make them “unique.”

    The most expensive of this quintet is the Minx Air 100 from Cambridge Audio ($449).

    The Minx Air we played with offered WiFi and Apple AirPlay connectivity in addition to Bluetooth, plus:

    • Internet radio, with access to thousands of stations
    • Support for aptX, which delivers CD-quality sound via Bluetooth
    • Its Balanced Mode Radiator (BMR) speaker drivers vibrate horizontally delivering a wider range of sound than conventional drivers that pulsate “in and out.”
    • Five presets, which eliminate the need to access a smartphone app to change channels for Internet radio
    • Access to 20,000 Internet radio stations using the free Air app
    • A bass port integrated into the speaker’s handle, which acts as a subwoofer to enhance bass

    At first we thought the enhancement of the “thumping lows” using the bass port would be overwhelming and, truthfully, a bit annoying. To our surprise the enhancement proved to be a welcome addition to the sound experience, proving to be subtle rather than annoying.

    The folks at iLuv let us play with two new speaker systems, the SyrenPro ($129.99) and the MobiRock ($199.99).

    The SyrenPro is fine as a standalone portable speaker, but really shines when it is linked to another SyrenPro, which is controlled by the first – – – or base – – – unit.

    Basically the speaker is designed to deliver true stereo, or simulated surround sound, throughout the room. It can also be taken outdoors and give you up to four hours of sound using a built-in battery.

    Other features include:

    • It’s waterproof and UV resistant
    • Its design allows it to deliver 360-degree sound
    • There are voice prompts to aid you with pairing the speaker to your mobile device and a second speaker
    • There’s an aux-in port to accommodate devices that don’t offer Bluetooth compatibility
    • jAura sound enhancement technology balances the full range of sound, from treble to bass

    As with all of the others in this group of speakers, the SyrenPro delivered better sound quality than we expected from a portable speaker.

    The MobiRock speaker adds NFC compatibility to Bluetooth making it easier to pair your mobile device to the speaker system. NFC is also known as near field communications, which, when enabled on your smartphone or tablet, can link your device to speakers, etc. without needing to enter a code or go through the pairing process. Simply put, and NFC-enabled allows another device to “see” it when it is within range.

    The MobiRock can also charge your phone wirelessly, using Qi technology, which is showing up in many of the new smartphones and tablets. You can also purchase Qi adapters.

    Basically, the MobiRock offers all of the features found in the SyrenPro (except for the ability to link to a second speaker), but there are a couple of other features that set it apart:

    • Top mounted, back lit touch controls for power, volume, track changes and Bluetooth and NFC pairing
    • An USB charging port for devices that can’t be charged wirelessly

    The Albergo Clock Radio with Bluetooth from Tivoli Audio ($249.99) is a bit more than your standard AM/FM radio.

    By combining the standard features of an AM/FM clock radio with Bluetooth, the folks at Tivoli have expanded its capabilities, allowing you to stream your favorite tunes to the device.

    The radio is also customizable. The one we played with was a pre-production unit, so it didn’t come with any of the variety of designs now offered by Tivoli. In addition the Albergo offers the following features:

    • A remote control that allows you to change stations, adjust volume, access the radio’s station presets and other functions.
    • A telescoping antenna to receive FM signals
    • The ability to set the clock automatically by tuning into an FM station that offers Radio Data System (RDS) technology. This is the same technology some radio stations use to transmit the names of songs to radios, etc.
    • You can set the alarm using either the remote or the alarm button on the radio
    • A built-in equalizer and other options can be accessed by pressing the Menu/Select button on the radio or remote

    Last, but the most fun to use, are Pulse by Sengled light bulbs featuring JBL sound ($169.99). Essentially, this is a pair of LED bulbs with built-in JBL speakers. You just screw them into an overhead light socket, pair them with your device and you get great sound.

    Truthfully we were amazed by the sound quality these bulbs delivered, rivaling any of the other speakers featured here.

    Like the SyrenPro, you wirelessly connect to a “master” bulb that controls what is played through its so-called “slave” bulbs. This includes track selection, volume and all of the other controls you’d expect from a portable speaker system.

    The big difference here is the Pulse master can control up to eight additional bulbs, enabling you to play your music in multiple locations.

    Other features include:

    • You can control the speakers and lights using a downloadable Android or iOS app.
    • These are LED bulbs, which mean they consume less energy than conventional light bulbs
    • The bulbs “dim” to a lower wattage when the speakers are activated, but you’ll hardly notice a difference
    • You can assign one of six different audio settings via the built-in equalizer function, and launch media players such as Pandora, Spotify and others using the smartphone app
    • The bulbs are rated at a life expectancy of 25,000 hours

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

  • This Water-Based Tractor Beam Could Confine Oil Spills, Control Floating Objects
    We may be one step closer to building a real-life tractor beam.

    Scientists in Australia have developed a water-based tractor beam, and while it’s not exactly the marvel made famous by “Star Trek,” it’s pretty darn impressive. It can control water flow patterns, maneuver floating objects and could even help confine oil spills.

    A tractor beam is a popular term which, I think it captures quite well the basic principal,” lead researcher Dr. Horst Punzmann, an engineer at the Australian National University in Canberra, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “You put an object there and it propagates, it floats backwards to the source of the wave.”

    And Punzmann and his team were able to do much more than make an object change course and travel backward.

    “We’ve managed to manipulate floating objects to move toward the wave, to move in the direction of the wave or to keep them stationary in the flow,” Punzmann explains in a video released by the university (see above). It shows researchers using the wave-manipulation device to steer a ping-pong ball around a tank.

    To manipulate the ball, researchers first determined the size and frequency of the waves required to move it. Then they observed the surface movement produced by the waves.

    “We found that above a certain height, these complex three-dimensional waves generate flow patterns on the surface of the water,” Dr. Michael Shats, a professor in the university’s College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, said in a written statement.

    Shats added that existing mathematical theories cannot describe the currents produced by the larger waves.

    “It’s one of the great unresolved problems, yet anyone in the bathtub can reproduce it,” he said. “We were very surprised no one had described it before.”

    While the water-based tractor beam is new, Punzmann’s team is not the first to propose the idea of a working tractor beam. NASA previously awarded scientists a $100,000 grant to investigate particle-moving technology.

    And in 2012, researchers in Singapore detailed how a special type of laser, called a Bessel beam, might be used to push an object backward toward the beam’s point of origin. In 2013, a team in Scotland debuted a working prototype capable of moving minuscule particles.

    The new research was published in the August 2014 edition of the journal Nature Physics.

  • The Bullying Epidemic and Ways to Counter It
    I remember reading earlier this year about the case of Michael Morones in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is an 11-year-old boy who liked the cartoon, My Little Pony. He was part of a growing fanboy base called “bronies” (bro ponies).

    Unfortunately, because Michael loved My Little Pony, he was taunted and bullied at his school. The bullying became so bad that Michael tried to kill himself by hanging. His parents found him, but he had already lost a lot of oxygen to his brain and may never fully recover.

    Something ugly is happening in our schools, and it’s become an epidemic. The National Education Association estimates that every day 160,000 kids miss school because they’re afraid to go and be attacked or bullied by other students. According to the National School Safety Center, there are over two million bullies in our schools who bully nearly three million students every year. Seventy one percent of students in K-12 report incidents of bullying at their school.

    Bullying by our youth is getting worse but there are people and organizations out there trying to do something about it.

    It’s important to start educating children when they’re young. There are some cutting edge efforts being implemented by various organizations and companies both here in the U.S. and around the world to deal with this abuse.

    Lectura Books, based in Los Angeles and a leading publisher of bilingual children’s books, has released a new book called Boy Zorro and the Bully. The Pew Hispanic Research Center reports that,

    In 2011, for the first time, one-quarter (25 percent) of public elementary school children were Hispanic. This follows on the heels of other Hispanic student population milestones. In 2007, more than 25 percent of all kindergarten students were Hispanic for the first time, and in 2006 Hispanics reached the one-quarter milestone among all nursery school students.

    So, having a book about bullying that is in both English and Spanish and speaks to the rising epidemic of bullying is a timely idea.

    As Lectura Books says,

    Young elementary age students will find comfort in Boy Zorro and the Bully, a delightful story about a little boy named Benny Lopez who believes that it is his job to somehow save the world. He helps many people throughout his day, but he really has to find a solution at school when he walks into a situation where his friend is being bullied and he needs to act. Every school can also download a play about how to deal with bullying to perform at school. This book is deigned to help foster communication between parents, students and school administrators regarding their anti-bullying policy.

    Bullying is not just an epidemic in the U.S. In Finland, there is a national anti-bullying program called KiVa. It is registered in 90 percent of the country’s schools and has been quite effective.

    According to the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, “KiVa has been evaluated in a large randomized controlled trial including 117 intervention schools and 117 control schools. The program has been shown to reduce both self- and peer-reported bullying and victimization significantly. It influences multiple forms of victimization, including verbal, physical and cyberbullying. In addition, positive effects on school liking, academic motivation and achievement have been reported. KiVa also reduces anxiety and depression and has a positive impact on students’ perception of their peer climate. A remarkable 98 percent of victims involved in discussions with the schools’ KiVa teams felt that their situation improved. Finally, Finnish data from more than 1000 schools that started the implementation of KiVa in fall 2009 showed that after the first year of implementation, both victimization and bullying had reduced significantly.” The KiVa program is now being used in the Netherlands, Wales, the state of Delaware in the U.S., Sweden, Luxembourg and is being tested in Japan.

    A big problem in today’s networked world is cyberbullying. Interestingly, one of the most successful anti-cyberbullying programs has been implemented by Riot Games, the publisher of most popular video game in the world, League of Legends. Sixty-seven million active players play the game every month. Riot Games noticed that players were being harassed in a classic case of online abuse, that is, cyberbullying.

    As Wired magazine reported,

    In response, the company assembled a ‘player behavior team,’ bringing together staff members with PhDs in psychology, cognitive science and neuroscience to study the issue of harassment by building and analyzing behavioral profiles for tens of millions of users.

    As they looked at the problem, the behavior team realized they needed to implement a community-wide reform program.

    In the end they learned that you need to “involve users in the moderation process, set defaults that create hurdles to abuse, give clearer feedback for people who misbehave and — above all — create a norm in which harassment simply isn’t tolerated.” More importantly, just because something is online doesn’t mean it’s a technological problem; it’s really a social problem.

    Just like Boy Zorro and the Bully and Finland’s KiVa program, Riot Games came to the conclusion that it’s all about a “social shift in norms.”

    To stop and end bullying really means setting social norms and sticking to them and making sure there are real consequences for bad behavior. It requires focus and persistence but, as Lectura Books, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, and Riot Games have learned, change occurs one step at a time. Let’s hope that with programs and books like these that there won’t be anymore young people who commit suicide or try to because they’ve been bullied. It’s time to step up and stop the madness.

  • Creativity Isn't Free
    At a Silicon Beach conference recently there was a panel about YouTube celebrity: how to grow your following, how to keep it, how to make the analytics of that video platform bend to your will. Five panelists were celebrities by design; they took that analytics stuff seriously and made content they knew would hit big based on the trends among their target demographic.

    The sixth guy had just made a cool piece of art that struck a chord so it garnered millions of views. He was the one who didn’t know what to do next.

    And I was struck by this distinction between running a business and being a creator: the first requires testing, a constant back-and-forth dialogue with the audience, the customer, because if those potential customers don’t want the product or service then the product or service needs to pivot till it becomes something they do. Serving them is the point, making money is the means of knowing if that whole serving-them-thing is working, and it’s a successful business if it does both as times change.

    We creatives don’t like to think of ourselves in those terms. We have a love/hate relationship with personal branding and ourselves as product (if the audience doesn’t want what I have, well screw ’em). In our savvier moments we might think, “Of course. This is the world we live in now and branding is power. I’ll make choices about what to do next based on what will be easier to promote and how successful I think the project will be.” In our more vulnerable moments we think, “I just gotta make this thing. I’m passionate about it; I don’t care if there’s a frickin’ built-in audience. Nobody made anything important from a place of fear.”

    As well we should. We can’t really make art that surprises us, that surprises a generation, that changes lives like the best stuff that changed ours, if we’re constantly A/B testing and checking the analytics.

    But we might have to try.

    Because we don’t really want to screw our audience. We want to be relevant, we want to make something that speaks to people and goes viral, and we may even want to make money at some point. I’m heartsick hearing about talented, brilliant actor friends who’ve been at it for a decade and are beaten down by the industry, who’ve lost their confidence somewhere in the cocktails they mix for another stranger and the yeses they say to another unpaid web gig. And who maybe even think they don’t deserve to make money, because poverty is an artist’s lot in life.

    I’m pretty sure there are two types of people in the world: theater people and non-theater people.

    And theater people don’t have to do — or even have ever done — theater to belong in that category. It’s a mindset. It’s an idealistic, we-spirited, gurgling river of “sure!” It’s let’s-put-on-a-show gumption and the-show-must-go-on perseverance. It’s a profound belief that what a group can make together, even in an unassuming ramshackle room, has the power to break people open, uplift society, save the world. And that that’s worth it even if there’s no money when the group disbands and leaves that room behind. Non-theater people, of course, are too practical for that crap. “Pay me,” they say.

    And… they’re kinda right.

    I love theater people. But I hate when they — when we — undervalue our worth. When we take a gig that pays everyone else on set but us, because we’ll be getting exposure. When we get defensive or flustered having to tell hard-skills types that we got a degree in theater, because deep down we’re still a little ashamed of being romantics and embarrassed that we think poetry might actually matter. When we let agents, or execs, or anyone dismiss us because they can, because they assume there’s a more pliable, more commercial, more symmetrical version of us about to land in LA — and there probably is. When we’re scared to walk away from a bad deal because will we ever work again?

    Another panel at the Silicon Beach conference involved a website user-experience expert answering an audience question about cutting costs, with the response, “Remember, good content is expensive.” Yeah, ‘cuz web content producers have a rate and they don’t work for less. They respect what they do so the whole tech industry is forced to as well, begrudging though they may be about it.

    For us creatives, our unions set our minimum under certain circumstances, but I think we have to fill in the rest. Be a guild in our own lives and in our friends’ and colleagues.’ Train our industry to respect what we do even if it secretly begrudges us. Who cares. It’s a business.

    As this gentleman says:

    Tell us what you’ve done to turn around an unpaid situation. Share your story.

    Let’s throw some gumption on our gumption.

    A version of this article first appeared in Ms. in the Biz.

  • Couple Dies While Trying To Take Selfie On Cliff: Report
    A couple reportedly plunged to their deaths Saturday while attempting to take a selfie on a cliff in Portugal.

    Touring the ocean views around Cabo de Roca, a married couple, accompanied by their two young children, posed for a photo along the cliffside in a dangerous spot past a protective barrier. According to local news reports, witnesses said the Polish couple fell while trying to take a selfie.

    The children, aged 5 and 6, reportedly witnessed the fall.

    Local authorities recovered two bodies from the bottom of the cliff on Sunday. They are estimated to have plunged about 260 feet into the ravine below.

    The two children were taken into custody by Polish officials shortly after the incident. They are currently receiving psychological care and are expected to be reunited with family members who are en route to Portugal.

    Meanwhile, police are investigating the circumstances of the deaths, which have thus far been labeled an accident in news reports.

    Sadly, this is not the first time someone has suffered grave injuries while attempting to take a photo. In another incident reported earlier this month, a man is believed to have accidentally killed himself while posing for a selfie with a loaded gun.

    Clarification: The text has been updated to clarify that the couple was from Poland.

  • These Men Say The 'Kim Kardashian: Hollywood' Game Isn't Just For Women
    Kim Kardashian venturing into the mobile app market was hardly a surprise, and the subsequent success of the virtual-celebrity game was equally predictable (it’s currently the third most popular iPhone app). But that men would unabashedly play “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” to no end? That was certainly unexpected.

    One such devout player — Greg Seales, a writer for the Daily Dot — touts having successfully hacked the game by downloading a file that offers infinite energy packs — or “K-star Packs” — so the player can become “an A-lister overnight, completely for free.”

    “Some people think [hacking the game] is more similar to the Kardashians, because they kind of hacked their way to fame, if you will,” he told HuffPost Live’s Caitlyn Becker on Monday.

    Despite being a fan of the show, he said he doesn’t feel he owes the famous family any money, though he would gladly shell out for a “Khloe expansion pack.”

    Kevin Fanning, an author as well as a proud “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” player, claims the app is “definitely not just a girl thing or woman thing.”

    “I definitely have always been super interested in the Kardashians, and Kim especially, but it’s not just that,” he said.

    The game “sort of encapsulates something that’s happening in our culture right now,” he explained, “where there’s …[this] ability to sudden[ly] become famous sort of out of nowhere that kind of almost mirrors a lot of what’s happening on the Internet lately.”

    According to Fanning, the democracy of the Internet makes the game feel more realistic, and therefore more rewarding to play.

    “There’s something really interesting in this story about starting from nowhere and working your way up and becoming really famous that is really, really fun in a game,” he said. “It’s something that seems really, really accessible in real life to an extent that it never has in the past.”

    Watch the clip above to hear more about what’s drawing these dudes to the Kim Kardashian igame.

    Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live’s new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

  • If You Thought You Were Mad At Comcast Before, Listen To This Phone Call
    A frustrated Comcast customer has apparently discovered one way to avoid terrible service from a cable company: Record every conversation you have with it.

    An Oregon man, who goes by “Tim Davis” online, on Sunday published a recording of a series of phone calls he had with Comcast customer service representatives after his Internet went on the fritz. Those recordings saved him from $182 in bogus charges, he claimed.

    At first, Comcast told him that he wouldn’t be charged for fixing his service, but then gave him a surprise bill for $182. The company insisted he pay that bill — until he told customer service that he had recorded all their past conversations.

    Comcast customers around the country consistently have nightmarish customer-service experiences. Comcast is currently seeking regulatory approval to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion, a deal that would make the largest cable company in the world even bigger. Critics of the deal argue that a telecom so large would have even less reason to offer decent customer service.

    When Tim, who declined to share his real last name to protect his privacy, moved to a new apartment in Eugene, Oregon, about a month ago, he installed his modem and set up his Wi-Fi himself, he said on his YouTube account. Soon after, his Internet connection began to stop working for 5 to 10 minutes at a time.

    “I do a lot of work from home, and it was an issue not having Internet,” Tim told the Huffington Post over the phone. He said he works as a senior IT analyst for a large company.

    He called Comcast. Tim and the representative figured out that the problem was caused by the cable outside of the apartment and that Tim hadn’t done anything wrong. The rep said Tim wouldn’t be charged for the repair. He recorded this call and all his subsequent ones, which you can listen to below. The story was first picked up by the Consumerist.

    But after a Comcast technician fixed the problem, Tim was billed $132 for failing to install his modem properly, which was never the issue. To boot, he was charged another $50 for having Comcast set up his Wi-Fi network — something Tim had already done himself.

    comcast bill

    So he called up Comcast again. Tim said he was put on hold for an hour before he hung up. When he called back, a rep named Daisy said she had good news: Comcast had subtracted $100 from his bill for “service discounts.”

    But that left Tim still on the hook for the remaining $82. When he protested, Daisy offered to upgrade his Internet connection instead of refunding him, arguing that there was simply no way she could remove the charges or reimburse his account.

    Tim said he had a recording of a phone call in which Comcast told him he wouldn’t be charged. Finally, after one more phone call, Comcast backed down and gave him back his money.

    “Why were you not able to do that before?” Tim asked.

    “Again, that is a valid charge,” Daisy said. “But since I advised my manager that there is a recording, and you were misinformed, then he’s the one who can approve that $82.”

    “You’re telling me that if I didn’t have a recording of that call, you wouldn’t have been able to do it,” he said.

    “That is correct, yes.”

    Comcast told HuffPost that it’s investigating the calls.

    “This is not the type of experience we want our customers to have, and we will reach out to Mr. Davis to apologize to him,” Comcast representative Jenni Moyer said. “Our policy is not to charge for service visits that are related to problems with our equipment or network. We are looking into this to understand what happened and why it happened.”

    As an IT specialist, Tim said that he has trained tech support teams before. “The reason I recorded this call is that I expected this,” he said.

    What he didn’t expect was the tremendous reaction to his video on websites like Reddit, where his video became the top post shortly after it was published.

    “If you look at the comments on Reddit, hundreds of people have had the same experience,” he said.

    Last month, Comcast made headlines after another customer recorded and published a phone call with customer service. In that call, a Comcast rep refused to let a couple cancel their service when they wanted to switch cable and Internet providers.

    Internal documents later published by The Verge show how Comcast’s “retention specialists” systematically try to dissuade subscribers from canceling.

    Earlier this year, a survey of 70,000 U.S. consumers found that cable companies and Internet service providers each constituted the two most hated industries in the entire U.S. economy. Comcast, which is in both businesses, was rated the second-lowest in customer satisfaction in the two sectors.

    (h/t Reddit via Consumerist)

    This post has been updated throughout to reflect comments from Tim.

  • (VIDEO) Ebuzzing's Daily: We'll Be 30% Programmatic In Three Years
    Online video ad technology group Ebuzzing reckons nearly a third of its business will be made up from automated ad trading, as it increasingly creates private ad marketplaces with trading desks.

    “We work with Xaxis, Accuen, Vivaki and these trading desks to build our specific, high-quality marketplaces,” according to the company’s north America GM Jim Daily.

    “Our programatic side of the business is straight video units where you just need an MP4 or YouTube link to go live in 10 to 15 minutes… that business will shift subtly to programmatic over the next two to three years … 30% programmatic and 70% managed serves in a year or two.”

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

  • Watch This Teen Age From 12 To 19 In Just Over A Minute
    Ever wondered how much your face ages in a day, or a year, or even over the course of seven years? Well, 19-year-old Hugo Cornellier has the answer — and the video to prove it.

    From age 12 to 19, Hugo took a selfie every single day, resulting in what is most likely the coolest 1 minute and 34 seconds you will see today. Throughout the video, his long hair, beard, and background guests come and go, but all the while we’re able to recognize Hugo’s face, maintaining the same expression throughout.

    Check out the video above to see the seven year time lapse and join us in wishing our selfies were this awesome.

    [h/t: Elite Daily]

  • Buzzfeed receives $50m investment
    A venture capitalist firm has invested $50m in the internet-media company Buzzfeed to expand coverage and produce more videos.
  • New 'Nathan For You' Stunt Counts On Pregnant Women Giving Birth In Cabs
    Nathan Fielder has no shortage of bizarre ideas on how to improve business, but only this one counts on a child being born in the process.

    In a preview clip from this week’s “Nathan For You,” Nathan pitches a ridiculous new scheme to a struggling cab driver whose business has taken a hit due to ride-share programs like Uber.

    Could providing free cab rides for pregnant women be a good thing? Of course. But if Nathan has his way, at least one of the moms-to-be will already be a mother by the time she exits the vehicle.

    “Nathan For You” airs Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central

Mobile Technology News, August 10, 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.

  • America's Best Companies To Work For: 24/7 Wall St.
    No one knows more about a workplace than its employees. Employee opinions reflect basic measures, such as pay, perks, benefits, and hours worked. But they are also influenced by factors such as a company’s culture, internal politics, and even general mood — intangibles that can be lost in internal audits and consultancy surveys.

    While companies have websites, public relations teams, and recruiters to tailor their message to prospective hires, employees have far fewer forums to communicate their views. Glassdoor.com, a career community website, provides the opportunity for employees to give their own opinions, and for potential employees to research the company. To identify the 75 Best Companies to Work For, 24/7 Wall St. examined company ratings provided by current and former employees to Glassdoor.com. (See how we made our list on the last page of this article.)

    Click here to see America’s best companies to work for.

    Employees in certain sectors are far more likely to offer a positive opinion of their employer than others. Technology companies are certainly well represented among the highest-rated employers, as are consulting firms. Of the 75 best companies, only 12 received an average rating of 4.0 or higher out of 5. Of these, four are in the technology space — Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Riverbed Technology — and three are consulting firms.

    Being a market leader also appears to help. Many well-reviewed companies are the leaders in their respective industries, and as a result are financially successful. Apple, Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Walt Disney are all among the top-rated employers on Glassdoor.com and among the largest public companies in the world by market capitalization. Others are leaders in public relations, like Edelman and auditing giant EY, formerly Ernst & Young.

    Many of the best companies to work for have cultivated an extremely strong reputation among the broader public as well. American Express, Facebook, Google, and SAP are all among the best companies to work for and among the top companies by brand value, according to brand consultancy BrandZ. Top employers also perform well according to other measures of brand awareness, such as CoreBrand and Interbrand.

    Not surprisingly, companies with strong employee reviews also give CEOs good grades. It would seem leadership matters, not just for running a company and producing returns for shareholders, but also for promoting employee satisfaction. Among the 75 best companies to work for, 38 have CEOs with an approval rating of 90% or higher. In all, just 10 CEOs have an approval rating below 80%, and all have the endorsement of at least two-thirds of their employees.

    Employees at these companies also frequently cite a good office culture and work-life balance. In many cases, employees also praise a company if it promotes learning or training opportunities and career development. At several of these companies, employees also note a good benefits package, which is uncommon in many industries, such as retail.

    These are America’s Best Companies to Work For, according to 24/7 Wall St.

  • NASA 'Flying Saucer' Passes Flight Test, Engineers Say (VIDEO)
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sending heavier vehicles and, eventually, humans to Mars requires first testing new technologies to see if they actually work.

    But it’s infeasible to conduct experiments on the red planet, so to mimic Mars’ low-density atmosphere, NASA sent a saucer-like test vehicle high above the Earth. NASA engineers announced Friday that the June mission’s main objective was met: The vehicle, called the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, flew to 190,000 feet (57,900 meters) at more than four times the speed of sound and simulated Martian landing conditions.

    “The vehicle did an amazing job of getting to the right speed and altitude,” said Ian Clark, principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    The experimental flight, which cost about $150 million and was conducted from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii, was intended as a dry run for two more tests scheduled for next year.

    One of the technologies NASA engineers tested is an inflatable, doughnut-shaped ring around the edge of the saucer-like vehicle that deploys like a puffer fish in one-third of a second, slowing the vehicle. In the test run, the saucer went from traveling at Mach 4.3 — more than four times the speed of sound — to a breezy Mach 2, making the inflatable device a success, NASA engineers said.

    The second technology is a 100-foot-wide (30-meter-wide) parachute, which virtually disintegrated the moment it was released. In the months ahead, NASA will try to figure out how to properly deploy the parachute, Clark said.

    “The idea of taking 200 pounds of Kevlar and nylon and deploying it at 2,500 mph, 200 pounds that inflated would be the size of a small warehouse, is certainly a challenging endeavor. There’s a lot of physics with this problem that we’re now gaining new insights into that we’ve never had before,” Clark said. “And we’re going to take all of that knowledge, and feed it toward our flights next year.”

  • Facebook's Switch To Messenger App Going Just As Terribly As You'd Expect
    Facebook members are sending the social giant a pretty clear message: Your app stinks.

    “Terrible app” and “to hell with this” are just some of the things people are saying online about the latest version of the Facebook Messenger app, which will soon take the place of the messages function on Facebook’s mobile app. Though the Messenger app first launched in 2011, Facebook began alerting users this week that they had to download the app in order to continue to send and receive messages on iPhone and Android devices.

    The switch has peeved users, many of whom thought Facebook’s messaging function worked just fine. A blog post originally published on The Huffington Post in December, which has gone viral this month, warns users about the chat app’s “insidious” terms of service and its “attempt to collect so much information and take control of our devices.”

    Though Facebook has countered the post, telling the Wall Street Journal that many of its claims are overblown and outdated, users still don’t appear to be so willing to make the mandatory migration.

    Facebook told The Huffington Post on Saturday that the app is a work in progress.

    “Our goal is to focus development efforts on making Messenger the best mobile messaging experience possible and avoid the confusion of having separate Facebook mobile messaging experiences,” a Facebook representative wrote in an email. “Messenger is used by more than 200 million people every month, and we’ll keep working to make it an even more engaging way to connect with people.”

    Since Facebook started forcing people to switch over, Messenger has climbed to the top spot for free apps in the Apple App Store. That said, the newest version of the app has a terrible 1-star rating.

    apple

    apple 2

    Over on the Android App Store, things aren’t much prettier:

    android

    android 2

    Of course, there are some easy things you can do to avoid the forced switch. For one, you could quit Facebook. Or, you could just simply email or text your friends. If you’re feeling super adventurous, you could also try picking up the phone and calling them.

  • Amazon Wants You To Fight Its Battle With Hachette
    Amazon and Hachette are officially engaged in a tug-of-war game, and now the e-retailer is reaching out to customers for a little extra leverage for its side.

    On Friday night, Amazon launched ReadersUnited.com, a website dedicated to urging readers to take a stand in its messy contract battle with the French publisher, The New York Times reported. The site features a letter from the Amazon books team, asking customers to directly email Hachette’s CEO, Michael Pietsch, and tell him to “stop working so hard to overcharge for e-books.”

    The move appears to be a direct rebuttal to an earlier letter signed by over 900 authors — including both authors who’ve been published by Hachette and ones who have not — that asks readers to contact Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and founder, and weigh in on the matter. The letter, which is signed by best-selling authors like Stephen King and Barbara Kingsolver, as well as many others, will be published in a full-page ad in Sunday’s New York Times, according to Bloomberg.

    The two letters are the latest shots fired in a dispute between the two companies over e-book prices. In May, Amazon began holding Hachette hostage by raising prices and refusing to restock some Hachette titles on its site.

    In its letter published Friday, Amazon argued that Hachette is preventing it from lowering e-book prices.

    “E-books can and should be less expensive,” the retail giant wrote in its letter. “Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices.”

    But in their open letter, the authors maintain that Amazon is unfairly holding them hostage by refusing to sell certain books.

    “It is not right for Amazon to single out a group of authors, who are not involved in the dispute, for selective retaliation,” the open letter, penned by the author Douglas Preston, reads. “Moreover, by inconveniencing and misleading its own customers with unfair pricing and delayed delivery, Amazon is contradicting its own written promise to be ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company.'”

    In a statement provided to The Huffington Post on Saturday, Preston, who writes thriller novels, said that Amazon’s letter misrepresents the authors’ views, and the writers “take no position on the dispute between Amazon and Hachette.”

    Preston wrote:

    What we are united on is this: we strongly object to Amazon blocking and impeding the sales of books, hurting authors, and inconveniencing readers as a negotiating strategy. We authors helped Amazon become one of the largest corporations in the world. Amazon used book sales as the cutting edge to selling everything. And yet, when Amazon gets in a dispute with a publisher over terms, it retaliates against the authors by blocking or otherwise impeding the sales of their books. Surely Amazon has other negotiating tools in its portfolio without targeting authors and damaging our livelihoods every time they get into a rough patch negotiating with a publisher. It’s as simple as that.

    Pietsch, Hachette’s chief, and a representative from Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

  • How Technology Can &lt;em&gt;Help&lt;/em&gt; You Tune Back Into Nature
    The summer months have an uncanny way of making us realize how much time we don’t spend outdoors. The days are longer and the grass is greener, yet we’re still chained to our desks (despite how much we’d rather be soaking up rays of natural sunlight in lieu of fluorescent bulbs).

    By now, we all know how much better off we would be if we did spend more time among the elements. Living near nature — and taking advantage of it — helps us stay physically fit, improves our mood, boosts our brainpower and keeps our sense of wonder alive. Last year, British mental health experts confirmed that getting back to nature through walking and gardening can be more effective in combating symptoms of stress and depression than medication.

    Yet, we seem to be spending less and less time outside — children, particularly. It only takes five minutes of outdoor play each day to help with a child’s physical and mental development. But growing numbers of young ones don’t even log that little amount of time. “More kids today are interested in the natural world than ever before… but far fewer are experiencing it directly, on their own or with their friends, and that’s what counts: this is about more than nature,” naturalist, broadcaster and author Stephen Moss told The Guardian. “Nature is a tool to get children to experience not just the wider world, but themselves.”

    Richard Louv, the founder of the “nature deficit disorder” principle, put it best when he said, “The future will belong to the nature-smart — those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

    But while technology can get in the way of our ability to experience nature, it can also enhance it. There are many ways that modern-day advances not only connect us with the natural environment, but also create a more immersive and fulfilling experience in in the environment. Ready to reconnect with nature? Here are three ways technology can help take your outdoor experience to the next level.

    Defy human limits.

    skydiving

    Let’s face it — man could not enjoy the experience of flight without the help of technology. From hang gliding to skydiving, the “smart” equipment is just as important — if not more so — than the person using it. Think about the technology and design that went into developing hang glider wings, for instance. The wings are actually a nylon fabric parachute modified into a triangular airfoil, and their design was inspired by research completed by NASA engineer Francis Rogallo in the 1960s. The “delta wing” parachute is lightweight, durable, easily maneuvered by human hands and the reason the sport of hang gliding exists at all.

    While extreme sports certainly carry risks, they can also provide a sense of transcendence, personal identity and motivation. There’s something to be said about being able to see the world from a bird’s eye view.

    Chart new territory.

    hiking woods

    Hiking is one of the best nature-based activities for the mind, body and spirit. And sometimes, veering off the beaten path and making one of your own can help you connect with Mother Nature on an even deeper level. GPS technology — accessible to the masses now, in the form of watches and handheld devices — can help you do this while staying safe.

    Global positioning systems can do just about anything these days. From the basics of reading information from the 30 satellites orbiting the Earth to coming equipped with touchscreen surfaces and geotagging cameras, handheld GPS systems from companies like Garmin, Magellan, DeLorme and Rand McNally can be an adventurer’s best friend. With a little sense of direction, you can quell your worries and just enjoy being in the moment, exploring the natural space that lies ahead.

    Ditch the treadmill.

    run outside

    There’s no need to feel restricted to cardio machines in your neighborhood gym with such a wide selection of fitness apps available on your smartphone (yes, we’re encouraging you to use your phone this time). Whether you’re focused on calories burned, steps taken or overall pace, there’s a program to take those details off your mind and let you enjoy your activity in the present moment.

    Apps like Argus, Fitocracy, MapMyFitness and Moves have tracking and analytics features that can help even the biggest gym rat step outside and work up a sweat while immersed in Mother Nature. Many of these apps also allow you to explore local running trails and routes other people have mapped beforehand. You’ll feel far more revitalized surrounded by green and breathing in fresh air, than contained within a gym’s four walls.

    But what if you can’t ditch the office?

    nature on computer

    This is meta — it is possible to use technology to channel nature to combat the health effects of too much tech use. Use your computer screen to help you test out the 20-20-20 rule, advice originally given to tech blogger Amit Agarwal by his doctor to combat eyestrain. Every 20 minutes, open one of your favorite natural images on your monitor — a beach, an open field, a mountain peak, you name it. Slide your chair back 20 feet (or as far as reasonably possible in your office setup) and simply gaze at the image for 20 seconds without distraction. Not only will your eyes thank you, but you’ll be reminded of the world that’s waiting for you outside of your office.

    And if you’re feeling particularly impulsive with your decision-making — ready to send a hasty email or pounce on an online sale — take a moment first to mentally check out by looking at a natural image on your computer screen. A new study from researchers at Utah State University found that it may help provide an increased sense of self-control, Fast Company reported.

  • Check Out These Emojis Designed Just For Lesbians
    Attention queer women: there may very soon be emojis — like a fish taco, a turkey baster and a U-Haul moving truck — just for you!

    From designer Kimberly Linn comes a series of humorous emojis intended to be used by women who have sex with women. While not necessarily available on a smartphone — yet — Linn is currently showcasing her work through the Instagram page lesbianemojis.

    The designer plans on soon making these emjois available in prints and, who knows, maybe your smartphone provider will pick them up one day! The Huffington Post chatted with Linn this week about her work.

    The Huffington Post: Why did you decide to design these emojis?
    Kimberly Linn: Basically how it all came about was my friend Katie and I were drinking wine one night on my front porch and talking about some lesbian stereotypes we’ve all fallen into. I was looking down at my phone looking at my “recently used emojis” and realized I only use emojis that can be interpreted in gay ways. She and I started spitballing emojis that could be released that were only for lesbians. We wrote out a list of about 100 of them and I started designing them. I’m an art director at an ad agency and she’s a writer/actor and we both are always looking for side projects that feel pure and not so commercial. It’s still in its infancy but we plan on rolling new ones out at least once a week.

    Emojis are becoming increasingly culturally relevant — why is it important to have emojis specifically for the lesbian community?
    Lesbians, like anyone else, like to see a part of their world and identity reflected back at them. It’s not just “emojis for lesbians” but emojis that represent lesbians. Making that iconic expression not only allows a sense of community but also gives a humorous insight to others about our lives. I remember when I was coming out, I definitely felt alone. I was slightly tomboyish and I didn’t have a sense of belonging. Only at 22 did I finally make my first gay friends. Suddenly my love of plaid was shared. My penchant for moto boots versus ballerina flats was understood. And I wasn’t too tomboyish or too anything. I was perfectly me.

    Are these emojis mostly meant to be humorous? Why did you decide on these specific designs?
    These emojis are completely meant to be humorous. I would hope that nobody would be offended by them, but you never know what will set people off. If you stop inside [Los Angeles gay bar] the Abbey on a Wednesday I guarantee you will encounter half of these emojis: a snapback with the word “Boi,” lots of Chucks, at least 10 lesbians smoking Parliaments on the patio, a couple bow ties and me in a fancy blazer. My favorites are definitely the U-haul truck (which was appropriately numbered two because of that joke, “what does a lesbian bring on the second date…a U-haul”) and the Home Depot. We’re an efficient handy group of people. And how we decided on the specific design was that we basically wrote out a list of 100 or so and I began just designing the ones that felt like would be the easiest ways for people to understand what this project is all about and where we were headed with it.

    SheWired noted that you will be making prints of these emojis. When will they be available?
    Katie and I plan on getting a site up pretty soon where people can buy prints. I want people to be able to hang one up at their office desk or wherever when they find one that resonates with them. And I’d definitely like to make them available as greeting cards.

    Head here to visit the Lesbian Emoji Instagram page.

  • VIDEO: John McAfee in surprise Google rant
    Notorious computer security pioneer John McAfee has used a surprise appearance at a hacking conference to warn of threats against “freedom” thanks to privacy issues with technology.

Mobile Technology News, August 9, 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.

  • Dances With Google Glass
    In June 2013, Google launched a competition on Twitter soliciting bids from people interested in beta-testing its latest foray into wearable high tech. Since ‘beta-tester’ conjures up visions of bearded geeks in hoodies glued to their Retina displays, some marketing genius at Google coined the term ‘Google Glass Explorers’ and put a snapshot of a dusky model with pouty lips, a tousled mane, and a sleek band of titanium on her forehead, on the home page of Glass.

    2014-08-09-glass_2565322b.jpg
    (Photo: Reuters)

    The world was invited to pitch its ideas to Google, appended to the hashtag #IfIHadGlass. The winners would have to pony up $1,500 for the privilege of membership in a highly exclusive club of early adopters, but were expected to drive everyone else mad with envy.

    A year later, several thousand Google Glass Explorers find themselves roaming the earth, muttering “OK, Glass” and tapping their temples vigorously. And although Google can congratulate itself on effectively crowd-funding the development of its latest gadget, the demographics of its Explorer program and the blowback from its unfocused marketing strategy indicate a singular failure to engage the public imagination.

    Geeks in hoodies still dominate the Glassian landscape — as far as one can tell from the chatter on the online Explorers forum. (Ballet to the People may be the only Glass Explorer who dons a tutu to go to work.) Explorers are overwhelmingly male, and they avidly share their videos taken #throughGlass while jumping out of planes, stand-up paddleboarding, conducting orchestras, and other extreme sports. They test Glass’ navigational powers while trekking through the Andes, and train medical students by livecasting surgical procedures. They give speeches using Glass as teleprompter, and surf the web hands-free while going through airport security.

    But outside the Explorer community, intrigue over the transformative possibilities of this tiny but powerful computer has often given way to outrage over perceived invasion of privacy – particularly in San Francisco, where Google and other tech firms have become a symbol of corporate greed, their luxurious employee buses propelling us into an Orwellian future. Bars, strip clubs and a growing number of workplaces have banned Google Glass, and Glass Explorers have reported verbal and sometimes physical abuse. (Ballet to the People was assaulted by a vigilante at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, while photographing a lobby art installation. All around her, tourists and theater patrons were busy committing crimes against privacy with their smartphones, but the high-tech device over her eyes apparently marked her as Public Enemy #1.)

    Had Google confined its Explorers beta-test to a handful of industries in which Glass could have the greatest impact — medical science, empowering the disabled, law enforcement, workplace innovation, professional sports, and the performing arts come to mind — it might have avoided much of the negative press and paved the way for a less turbulent commercial launch.

    Google appears to have come to this realization rather late in the game: recently, it bestowed grants on five non-profits who will use Glass in their community outreach, and chose five technical development collaborators who will use it to innovate in the workplace.

    The recent hiring of a fashion marketer to manage the Glass project in the run-up to its commercial launch may be an attempt to dispel the geek factor, though it is unlikely to tamp down the hysteria around Glass as spyware.

    Does it matter whether the masses think Glass looks dorky? Businesses and governments are likely to embrace its transformative power. They will use Glass to conduct site inspections, forensic examinations and audits. They will use it to enhance the instant replay, to diagnose illness, to track and disarm explosive devices. Even if retail consumers show a lack of enthusiasm for slingshotting angry birds at swine #throughGlass, the technology still represents a multi-billion dollar business for Google.

    Thus it is troubling that the company has done so little to address concerns about privacy intrusion — apart from issuing a ban on facial recognition software, and publishing a feeble guide to Glass etiquette. Conspiracy theorists are having a field day.

    Yet it is shortsighted to blame an ingenious advance in technology for a social ill that has been spreading since Al Gore invented the World Wide Web and tablets and smartphones became ubiquitous. Banning Google Glass will not stop creepy behavior, nor will it prevent the amassing of personal data by social media giants and the NSA. As long as consumers demand free web content and the ability to express themselves freely online — in exchange for which they blithely hand over their personal data and their Instagrammed wedding photos — they can hardly yell foul every time someone invents a handier device to facilitate the racket.

    Perhaps the outrage over Google Glass will finally provoke a radical shift in our culture of surveillance, with consumers spurring tech companies to innovate in ways that reinforce civil society, and regulators who vigorously back consumers.

    Amid the swirl of controversy surrounding Glass, Ballet to the People assembled four of the hottest young dance-makers in San Francisco to experiment with the technology.

    Modern film techniques have whetted the perspective of the audience as voyeur, allowing the layering of fantastical effects that are impossible in the theatre. But until now, the dancer has always been the object of the viewers’ gaze.

    With Google Glass, we can, for the first time, integrate what the dancer sees into the work that she is performing. We can send text and audio instructions to the dancer via the tiny prism display on her forehead. We can send her visual inspiration, or deliberately disrupt her concentration.

    At the heart of the groundbreaking experimental film, entitled Capture, Milissa Payne Bradley pays sly homage to the iconic Russian classic Swan Lake – using Glass as a magical tool that transforms sea birds into young women, trapped on the beach at San Francisco’s Lands End.

    Dexandro “D” Montalvo collaborated with his dancer, Babatunji Johnson, to convey the experience of dance from the eyes of a dancer, and the evolution of breakdance from gestures that implicitly mark out a dancer’s social identity. Montalvo puts his dancer on the street, against the backdrop of a wall in the Mission District, which a graffiti artist has claimed as a canvas for his own self-expression.

    Lauren Benjamin worked in the movement style of House Dance, whose freedom, positive energy and playful spirit to her evokes the qualities that children naturally bring to their exploration of the world. Hence her choice of a school playground setting – in contrast to the gritty, late-night, underground dance clubs where House Dance originated.

    Robert Dekkers plays with the notion that we use technology to hide, to craft and project an image of ourselves. His dancers wear Glass to signify a partial revealing (and concealing) of one’s genuine self.

    As engineers continue to refine Glass, as business finds more ingenious applications for it, and as competitors debut other wearable computing devices, Google may shed its reputation as the North Korea of the tech world and Glass will win acceptance just as television did in a world previously dominated by radio. Dancers and dance filmmakers in particular will embrace Glass as an instrument that heightens their story-telling power.

  • Badass Feminist Robot Puts Pie Charts On Actual Pies
    What, you ask, is better than a feminist robot? A feminist robot with a sweet tooth, obviously.

    As part of Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s second ever Art + Technology Lab, artist Annina Rüst has crafted a robotic installation entitled “A Piece of the Pie Chart,” commenting on the lack of ladies in both artistic and technologic environments. Highly aware of her minority status in her spaces of work, Rüst crafted a machine that generates edible pies adorned with pie charts, illustrating gender disparity in a variety of art and tech spaces.

    A Piece of the Pie Chart at Stadtgalerie Bern, November 2013 from Annina Rüst on Vimeo.

    The pie-happy machine, which you can see in action above, springs an automatic assembly line into action. Users put pre-baked pies, made by the artist’s family members, onto a conveyor belt, where a heat gun warms the pie’s top layer so the pie charts can stick. Robot arms pick up a pie chart and a vacuum cleaner suspended from the ceiling sucks up the diagram, and the arm places the chart atop that delicious and informative pastry. A webcam posts each newly baked protest on Twitter, before the pies are displayed in a gallery setting or put to more political use.

    The pies can also be mailed by the exhibition visitors to the places where the data originated to remind companies, universities, and public sector entities how large (or rather small) the piece of the pie is that women in technology can claim for themselves,” the artist explains on her website. “Mapping gender data onto images of edible pies is a way of adding a material representation to gender statistics. It is also a way to add more urgency to the feminist cause.”

    Gender is a very contentious topic in the tech world,” Rüst explained to The Creator’s Project. “Many technologists immediately get defensive when the topic of gender and technology is discussed. I therefore chose a ‘sweet,’ humorous, seemingly non-threatening form of protest using pies.”

    Like an alternative form of satire, Rüst warms others up to pressing ideas through a seemingly innocuous vessel — baking.

    pie

    The combination of technological machinery and domestic labor also creates an interesting intersection of domains normally associated with disparate genders. Incorporating household objects like vacuums and baked goods into the very fabric of technology actively opens up a space where these two arenas can coexist and — more importantly — collaborate.

    “It’s a Rube-Goldberg-like contraption that mixes robotics hardware with more domestic tools such as a vacuum cleaner, a heat gun, and baked goods,” said Rüst. “So far, many people have commented that they like this eclectic mix of robotics and the domestic because it helps them imagine a technology future designed by an equally eclectic and diverse set of technology producers. In short, I am happiest when I can appeal to an audience’s sense of imagination.”

    Rüst is one of two female participants in this year’s Art + Technology Lab. The first edition of the initiative, which took place from 1967-1971, featured dozens of artists and, you guessed it, no women. This year the ratio of women to men is 1:3, which, though a great improvement, still leaves more work to be done.

    Feminist protest art that uses different forms of data collection, analysis, and visualization has existed for at least 43 years and yet gender parity is not yet reality,” Rüst wrote in a blog piece for LACMA. “This doesn’t discourage me. Rather, I think that a multitude of voices and approaches are needed. Gender data collection, analysis, and visualization needs to be applied to other areas of life as well—in my case, technology creation. My pie visualizations emphasize economic and workplace implications for women working in the art and tech world and in intersections thereof.”

    Help women get a piece of the pie by following Rüst’s project here.

  • 'Sketchy' app sparks racism row
    A new app called SketchFactor, which uses crowd-sourced data to alert users to ‘sketchy’ areas, is in hot water after some accuse it of being racist.
  • Dear Gawker, Not All 'Sketchy' Neighborhoods Are Black Neighborhoods
    Racism. Let’s talk about it. Plenty of people mentally wander to a different place when the topic of racism arises — a place somewhere between discomfort and distrust. While this is a congested intersection, it’s not a bad spot to park. On the contrary, this is exactly where we should go and dwell when the the subject of racism surfaces because it may be the only way we can work toward getting unstuck.

    That’s why I was in some ways pleased when I saw the Gawker blog post “Smiling Young White People Make App For Avoiding Black Neighborhoods” in my Facebook newsfeed late last night. In this post, Sam Biddle writes that the new app, SketchFactor, which launched today, is a “racist app made for avoiding ‘sketchy’ neighborhoods, which is the term young white people use to describe places where they don’t feel safe because they watched all five seasons of The Wire.”

    Now hey, I love The Wire, and I appreciate the blogosphere for cultivating a community of liberated writers who can quickly and publicly share their views. But what I’m not understanding is why Biddle didn’t reach out to SketchFactor’s founders, Allison McGuire and Daniel Herrington, for an interview or even a mere quote to explain their intentions for the app before he published the post and before the app went live.

    *Full disclosure: I met McGuire almost a year ago during UN Week at a lunch I organized for nonprofit leaders.*

    After reading the Gawker writeup, I emailed McGuire asking her if she’d be interested in being interviewed so she can share her goals for SketchFactor. She said yes immediately, and wrote “for the record, the author of the Gawker post *never* talked to us.” Since the article has gone live, McGuire and Herrington have received dozens of messages via social media saying that they should be raped, stabbed and killed.

    “The goal of SketchFactor,” is to improve city navigation on foot and shed light on trouble spots throughout cities across the U.S,” says McQuire. “One of the categories people can report on is racial profiling.”

    This means if you feel like you’re being racially profiled you can report the incident to SketchFactor as being “sketchy” whether you’re black, white, yellow, red or polka dotted and striped. Racial profiling is also highlighted as a main factor on the app’s site. Nowhere on the site or within the app does it say that “sketchy” equals black. The Gawker post implies that since the founders are white, they must undoubtedly consider black neighborhoods as sketchy.

    2014-08-08-photo.PNG

    So does SketchFactor sound like a racist app to you, or does it sound like perhaps, a number of readers saw the title of the article and reacted hastily without either fully reading the post or doing any research on the app? Unfortunately, with all the speed and real-time sexiness of social media comes the potential spreading of misinformation or lack there of.

    There are a number of apps similar to SketchFactor. There’s CitySourced, a mobile civic engagement platform that enable residents to identify civic issues (public safety, quality of life, environmental issues) and report them to their city hall. There’s HarassMap, a tool for anyone who has been harassed or assaulted and for witnesses to harassment and assault all over Egypt to anonymously share and report their experiences. There’s Protect Brazil, an app designed to facilitate reports of violence against children and adolescents. To my knowledge none of these apps have been deemed racist.

    So racism. Let’s talk about it. But first let’s define it. In the book Portraits of White Racism, David Wellman defines racism as a “system of advantages based on race.” By “system” Wellman is referring to beliefs and actions of individuals, as well as institutional practices and policies. Based on this definition, does racism still exist in modern society? While the world has come a long way since Jim Crow laws, racism is still alive. Debates over affirmation action, the exhaustive, controversial and often inaccurate media coverage of the Trayvon Martin case, and the fact that there has been little to no reporting done on any of the 64,000 black women missing in America are indicative of this hard, cold truth.

    So let’s not make it worse. Good people of the Internet, I encourage you to read everything you can before taking an official stance on topics that spread like wildfire via social media. I implore you to openly discuss anything your heart desires, especially tough topics like racism. But be informed first.

  • An Instagram Worth a Thousand Likes: What Our Photos Are Really Saying About Us
    “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

    Arthur Brisbane, author of the famed adage first outlined in 1911, likely had no idea how clairvoyant his words would eventually become. In his Emoji-less, Instagram void world, Mr. Brisbane still foresaw the power of a picture.

    Decades later, one could discern that our generation speaks at a trillion miles a minute with the rapid circulation of picture texts, Tumblr posts and Snapchats. That’s without considering how many words Arthur would accredit to a GIF, a Vine or a YouTube video.

    But the discussion never really was about how we were communicating — rather, the focus has always been centric around what we are saying. Arguably, a picture has become far more than a mere 1,000 words to an average Millennial. 2014-08-07-6394946623_6023a9844e_m.jpg Our lives revolve around platforms that shove endless, mesmerizing streams of photos in front of our eyes. Just last year, Facebook pulled a 180° on its 1.3 billion users and unleashed a disarmingly simplified image-focused redesign that automatically buried text heavy status updates and posts underneath pictures of friends’ smiling faces. Even Twitter, a platform rooted in plain 140-or-less Tweets, underwent a facelift that introduced “Visual Tweets” that embedded previews of photos and videos directly into a users’ timelines.

    So the question remains: What exactly are we communicating to each other?

    Within the flurry of social medias, it’s unsurprising that Instagram has steadily gained clout over other popular platforms. How else could the phrase “selfie” blossom? Underneath who-knows-how-many layers of Lo-Fi and Valencia filters, the answer — quite literally — is staring us in the face.

    Selfies, the new age portrait, noiselessly scream “LOOK AT ME.” Now, before you’ve rolled your eyes and picked your phone back up searching for a new notification, take note: this seemingly obvious message carries impactful side effects that are seriously changing the mindset of our coming generations.

    2014-08-07-5684115572_55bc83414f_z.jpg

    A like once literally conveyed, “I like this,” or “I like what you’re saying.” Over time, as the population realized how social media could alter one’s own image perceived by their friends and the rest of the world, a like transformed into “I approve of you, what you are saying and/or what you look like.” And as people became glued to their newsfeeds with less excuses to simply overlook a post or two, the mere absence of a like became an outward expression of the opposite.

    I feel it in my own conscious when I prepare a photo to post on my Instagram feed; a muted, but present voice that questions if the clothes I’m wearing are well framed, if the filters I’ve carefully chosen will appear flattering and if what I’m posting is interesting enough to garner likes from my followers. Right under our noses and double-tapping fingers, social media wordlessly transformed from a place to share into a defining partition of our own self-image.

    That’s not to say the influx of social media influence hasn’t birthed positive results as well. I’ve seen friends of various talents smartly utilize the ability to directly connect with people all over the world to become “Internet famous.” As a part time model, I’ve seen how Instagram can function as an unofficial digital business card for photographers, businesses and fans to interact with. A friend’s personal journey to lose weight and become fit has launched her page into one of a yoga icon that has collected hundreds of thousands of followers along with sponsorship offers from dozens of clothing brands designed for bendy yogis.

    As both a woman and a young person, I am constantly bombarded with controversial headlines that demand society to stop using Photoshop to manipulate unrealistic body images and upset about fat-shaming, skinny-shaming and race-shaming. You name it — someone is likely shaming it. Perhaps the underlying reason why I always desire to look more tan in my photos is the same as why Kylie Jenner suddenly looks like she’s 25-years old and constantly drowsy (read: drunk) when she’s barely had her driver’s license for a year.

    Society’s acceptance used to be a judgment isolated to unlucky celebrities and vicious tabloid magazines. Social media, our constant frenemy, has abridged that gap and bared our selves — our faces, our bodies, our clothes, our doings and our thoughts — for the entire online world to judge. As the younger generation begins to infiltrate our social medias and whichever that may arise next, it will be important to refocus the meaning of a like, a comment or a follow. Nudging the notoriously disdainful atmosphere of the Internet away from narcissistic popularity contests and celebrity-dom and further towards a platform of useful, thought-provoking information as it once was could recapture the thoughtfulness and positivity of the Millennial generation.

    A picture does speak a thousand words. So what will you say today?

  • How to make cyber scams go pop
    How Batman can help you avoid online scams
  • What Computer Geeks Taught Me About the Future of Aging
    2014-08-07-HackFest_students.jpg

    Sometime in the near future, our nation may not have enough qualified workers to serve every older American who needs services and supports.

    That’s more than a little scary, especially for baby boomers who are turning 65 at the rate of about 10,000 a day.

    I am one of those baby boomers. But I’m not scared anymore. And I have an energetic group of computer “geeks” to thank for that.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m still concerned about the future of aging services. By 2050, there will be 89 million Americans between the ages of 65 and 84.

    These older adults will make up about 20 percent of the U.S. population. That’s the highest percentage of older Americans we’ve ever seen in this country.

    The real challenge will come from another demographic fact. The Pew Research Center estimates that by 2050 — just as the number of older people is ballooning — there will be significantly fewer working-age people available to care for them.

    So why am I not scared?

    Geeks to the Rescue

    The computer geeks who eased my fears about aging were college students participating in an event called the “LeadingAge HackFest.”

    Teams of 4-to-6 participants spent two days last October holed up in a Dallas hotel trying to create a technology-driven tool that would improve the lives of older adults and their families.

    The technology solutions devised during the HackFest all-nighter were pretty impressive. But the technology itself wasn’t what eased my fears about the future of aging services.

    What set my mind at rest was the realization that we might actually be able to solve our looming caregiver crisis by enlisting the help of some pretty non-traditional partners — partners like the young techies who traded their weekend plans for an opportunity to hit on the next big idea in aging services technologies.

    To be frank, providers of aging services need lots of help from people just like this — people who, up until now, we have never invited into our care settings.

    It’s Not Just About the Technology

    LeadingAge will again be encouraging young men and women to develop promising age-related technology solutions during this year’s Hackfest, which takes place Oct. 18-20 in Nashville.

    But, why stop there? Why not encourage providers of aging services to enlist other nontraditional partners who could help us address the challenges associated with an aging population?

    These new partners need just three basic characteristics — all of which I witnessed at the LeadingAge HackFest:

    An interest in the challenges facing older people, even if those challenges aren’t directly related to their course of study or career path.

    A belief that they have what it takes to improve the aging experience.

    A willingness to collaborate with older adults and providers of aging services to come up with solutions that actually have a chance of working.

    There’s a long list of new partners who could help us change the lives of older people if we would only ask. Here’s the short list:

    Retirees

    Who understands the needs of older people better than older people? So why don’t aging services organizations hire more of them?

    Let’s recruit retirees to work in our care settings. Let’s create flexible, part-time jobs that appeal to their retired lifestyle.

    These older workers might share jobs with younger workers who would carry out the more physically taxing aspects of caregiving.

    Retired health care professionals, including doctors and nurses, could serve as mentors and coaches for younger and less experienced staff.

    Family Caregivers

    Many dedicated family members have already answered the call to help husbands, wives, and parents cope with illness or late-life challenges. In the process, they have acquired a host of skills that could really benefit aging services organizations and the people we serve.

    With formal training, these family caregivers could become key members of our care teams when they are no longer needed at home.

    High School Students

    High schools are in a great position to educate their students about the aging process. They can also help dispel the myths about older people that often keep young people from entering the field of aging services.

    Our care settings could give these students a place to gain practical caregiving experience and to decide if they wanted to make caregiving a career.

    Providers of aging services might even consider offering financial support to help students pursue certification and degree programs that enhance their skills.

    College Students

    Nursing homes, assisted living communities and community-based service agencies could provide life-changing service-learning opportunities to college students pursuing a variety of degree paths.

    Some providers of aging services already support training programs for nurses, doctors and other health professionals. More providers should open their doors to professionals-in-training as well as a variety of scholars in non-clinical fields.

    It’s not hard to imagine how a drama major might be inspired to become a nursing home’s activity director.

    A technology major might decide to join a retirement community’s IT department. A culinary student could become an assisted living community’s next chef.

    The possibilities are endless, as long as we don’t limit our imaginations — or the imaginations of our new partners.

    Welcoming New People to the Team

    Attracting nontraditional caregivers will require some nontraditional decisions from aging services organizations. We’ll need to:

    Create and sustain relationships with people who have never been on our radar screens. That will take ingenuity and persistence.

    Design jobs that will make young people and retirees want to come to work every day. That’s a challenge for any employer.

    Invest in rigorous training programs and offer competitive salary and benefits packages.

    Foster a corporate culture that respects workers, offers them the freedom to use their skills creatively, and welcomes them as integral and fully functioning members of the care team.

    All this may sound hard. But if the energy and excitement of the LeadingAge HackFest is any indication, it is far from impossible.

    The HackFest made two things abundantly clear. An investment in welcoming nontraditional partners to the field of aging services will bring new energy and excitement to our care settings.

    It will also provide new hope to the people who are depending on us to be there for them if and when they need services and supports in the future.

  • Judge Strikes Down Techtopus Wage Theft Settlement
    The judge overseeing the landmark Silicon Valley wage theft antitrust lawsuit has struck down the $324 million settlement reached between most of the class action plaintiffs and the defendants — Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe.
  • Church Leader Jerald Hill Suspected Of Attempted Dog Sex
    A church leader in Roach, Missouri, is out of a job after being arrested for allegedly trying to arrange a sexual encounter with a dog.

    Jerald Hill, 56, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of attempted unlawful sex with an animal and attempted animal abuse.

    Authorities began investigating Hill after the Boone County Sheriff’s Department Cyber Crimes Task Force got a tip about a Craigslist post by a man looking for two types of animals for sex.

    One of the chosen animals was a dog, but investigators declined to mention the other type of animal, the Columbia Tribune reports.

    An undercover detective contacted Hill by email and offered a dog for sex. The two then arranged a meeting in Columbia. When Hill arrived, he was arrested without incident, according to CBS St. Louis.

    Hill was released after paying $1,000 bail.

    The allegations have had a negative effect on Hill’s job as the CEO of the Windermere Baptist Conference Center.

    A day after Hill’s arrest, church leaders released a statement saying that the organization is “concerned for the well-being of Jerry,” but will meet next week to start “the process of looking for a new president and CEO,” according to APBnews.com.

  • Judge Orders Rape Accuser To Turn Over Facebook Account
    JOSH CORNFIELD, Associated Press

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey judge has ordered a teen who accused a man of rape to turn over access to her Facebook account, providing another example of social media’s growing use in courtrooms and the resulting privacy concerns.

    Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Billmeier this week agreed to a request from David Stevens-Parker’s defense attorney, and the judge said he will privately review two weeks of Facebook postings for any comments related to the alleged rape before deciding whether any can be used in court.

    Defense attorney Andrew Ferencevych said he wants to see if there are any hints that the sex was consensual. Stevens-Parker, 22, was charged with providing the then-16-year-old Princeton girl with alcohol before sexually assaulting her in April 2013.

    Assistant Prosecutor John Carbonara said Ferencevych cited a state court ruling that allowed a defense attorney to require a victim to submit to an eye exam, but Carbonara argued that ordering the teen to turn over Facebook access was a greater invasion of privacy. He said courts don’t typically order crime victims to turn over information.

    If you asked a typical teen whether having an eye examination or giving over Facebook passwords was more of an invasion, “I guarantee 100 percent of them would say to look at your Facebook,” Carbonara said. “That’s the predominant way they communicate to their friends on a lot of issues.”

    Content from social media is routinely used in court, but the New Jersey case is different because it involves a judge ordering an alleged victim to turn over information, said Wendy Patrick, a prosecutor and former chairwoman of the California state bar ethics committee.

    “It’s used all the time and the reason is because the Internet has become a confessional,” Patrick said. “It’s a place where everyone is an open book.”

    Patrick noted that authenticating content found on social media is often the most difficult part of trying to use it as evidence.

    Among the other recent cases where posts on Facebook and other social media have been used in court:

    —The case of two Ohio high school football players convicted of raping a 16-year-old West Virginia girl drew international attention because of the role of texting a and social media in exposing the attack.

    —Also in Ohio, a grand jury decided not to charge anyone in a public sex act that was photographed by witnesses and later reported by the woman as a sexual assault after images circulated on social media.

    —A defense attorney for a man convicted of killing a University of New Hampshire student spent several hours going over Facebook pages and conversations in an attempt to convince jurors that the state’s star witness was possessed by imaginary characters.

    Carbonara said that the teen victim in the New Jersey case told him she was willing to turn over the information to the judge. Patrick said that it’s good to know that she isn’t opposed to the judge reviewing her Facebook page.

    “Think how you would feel if someone went into your room and said, ‘I must read your diary to see if anything is relevant?'” Patrick said. “It’s just invasive.”

  • Levar Burton's 'Tweeting Rainbow' Needs A Kickstarter Immediately
    This video definitely deserves a Retweet.

    Levar Burton already surpassed the Kickstarter goals for his “Reading Rainbow” app, and now he’s setting his sights on a new project. In “Tweeting Rainbow,” Burton takes on Twitter, teaching kids about everything from Favorites to what @SnoopDogg means by his cryptic tweets about condiments.

    Just take a look. It’s not in a book. It’s “Tweeting Rainbow!”

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

  • A Misguided Fraternity Movement Is Revealing The Worst Aspects Of Frat Boy Culture
    A self-propelled “movement” from male interest website Total Frat Move is stirring up debate over the nature of Greek life, bringing out both the worst and best elements of fraternity culture.

    As TFM announced on their website last week, “There’s an important movement afoot. It’s time to stand up and tell the world why we need frat. Why do you need frat? #WhyWeNeedFrat.”

  • Looking Through the Screen
    Back in May of this year, a video on YouTube titled “Look Up” went viral. Almost everyone I know has watched it. If you haven’t, I’ll fill in the blanks. It was an inspirational poem about taking a break from technology and how you can miss so many great opportunities because you’re too busy scrolling through social media.

    But out of the 45 million-plus people who watched it, how many people actually did something about it? How many people had the willpower to say, “Wow, my phone and all this technology is really taking lots of meaning out of my life. I’m going to use it less and focus on more important things”? Most people, myself included, thought, “Wow, that was so great and eye-opening. I should tweet about it,” and subsequently went back on their phones and carried themselves as they would do any other day. Some may deem it a revolutionary video, but no revolution of any significance actually occurred.

    Of course, technology has its obvious pros. Without it, how would this video have spread? How would we get news, information or birthday notifications, without any of the innovations we have today? How would you even be reading this article? We are able to meet new people, connect with old friends, learn things we wouldn’t have access to otherwise and so much more. But when a 2-year-old child can use an iPhone or an iPad just as well (or better) than a middle-aged adult, should there be concern?

    Kids should be familiar with technology, that is perfectly true. But should they be playing mind-numbing games instead of finding a good place for hide and seek, coloring on iPads instead of coloring books, watching YouTube videos instead of playing outside? Children of this new generation will have no idea what life used to be like without technology. I’m not saying I’m immune to all of this — I was born in 1997 — and ’90s kids have developed some sort of superiority complex that makes us believe that we’re the last generation with common sense, had childhoods filled with quality TV shows that didn’t involve dogs blogging and the last ones whose baby pictures weren’t taken with smartphones.

    In some aspects, I guess our seemingly absurd claim does have some merit. We were raised and taught to socialize, not to stay on our phones all day. But in this day and age, when my friends and I get together, we end up spending as much (maybe more) time on our phones as we do socializing. You get together to share on social media how much of a good time you’re having with all your friends, when in reality, everyone is quite bored. The foreign term that is “socializing” has been reduced to people sitting in the same room as their friends, silently, on their phones. As the world goes on and technology keeps advancing, will our ability to interact with other people slowly fade into oblivion?

    We are in the “Me” Generation.’ All we care about is the amount of followers we have on Instagram or Twitter and how many likes our last selfie got — we’re completely self-absorbed in this superficial digital world. I’ve even had people message me and start a seemingly normal conversation about school or friends, when their ulterior motive is revealed: “Oh, and by the way, could you pretty please go like my profile picture? I just liked yours. :)” Is this really what our world has come to?

    Yes, of course technology is not the number one cause for everything that’s wrong with the world. It is not the cause for the uncountable number of people in some parts of the world lacking basic human rights, governments being corrupt, inequality, etc. And sure, technology raises awareness for all these existing problems. But this media that has made us into “social” beings at all times is causing much anxiety and depression. People feel they aren’t loved if they don’t have enough followers, or their picture only gets 10 likes. You see your friends doing all the things you weren’t invited to, you see all the things you could be doing and yet you’re sitting on a couch scrolling through your phone for the 15th time in an hour. We see so much more of the real world and so much more fake photo-shopped images, and we combine the two into some Utopian view of what life could be if we tried, yet it’s so impossibly perfect that we’re never able to reach that point, and it saddens us.

    Without technology, I wouldn’t even be able to write or post this article; our knowledge would be so limited compared to what it is now. And I know that after reading this you might think about it for a while and then you’ll trot back to your daily digital life while I return to mine. And even though I know how it is and I want to “look up” and see the world around me, I end up looking down. This four-inch screen is no replacement for reality, but that is where we find our life. Maybe, we can start by looking up when we want to look down, just once a day; it might not be so bad after all.

  • Chatroom 'rape' woman sent to jail
    A woman who used internet chatrooms to try to arrange for strangers to rape a former work colleague is jailed for six years.
  • 9 Gorgeous Houses That Prove Your Dream Home Is Also A Green Home
    What is sustainability, and what would it look like in your own home? There are a lot of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, like going vegetarian or driving an electric car, but chances are your house maybe be having a larger impact on the environment than you’d like.

    Almost half of the energy your home consumes comes from heating and air conditioning. Unless your house is completely coated in solar panels, more than half of the electricity you’re using is probably generated from coal, gas and oil.

    “Green building” is an effort to curb the environmental toll of inefficient homes, and it’s taking hold in the construction sector. The Huffington Post reached out to nine architects to talk about their stunning projects that are not only sustainable, but beautiful too.

    1. This beautiful butterfly alights on the California hills — and saves you water.
    butterfly house
    Spreading its wings out over the hills of Northern California, Feldman Architecture’s Butterfly House thrusts its owners into the drama of its perch. Not only is the house itself beautiful, but looking out its wall of completely open windows its hard not to be overcome by the drama of the view, says principal architect Jonathan Feldman*.

    “When the clouds go over [the hills] or the fog rolls in, they suddenly become these really cool, exciting personalities that people are living through,” Feldman told The Huffington Post. “It’s cool to have a nice photograph on your wall but these guys are immersed in that landscape every day of the year.”

    The shape of the roof allowed Feldman and his team to incorporate something that he is most excited about: rainwater collection. With California’s recent drought strengthening its grip on residents, rainwater collectors can be assets for people willing to spend a little bit more money. “The long view is worth considering,” Feldman said.

    In the long run, strategizing how a house uses water — including used water — can significantly reduce the pressure a home puts on the environment. “People need to take this water shortage way more seriously,” Feldman said, but added that other projects are showing new possibilities. “We have urban projects where we’re using all the shower water and laundry water to flush the toilets and water the landscapes. That’s something I’m super excited about.”

    *The architect Jonathan Feldman is not related to the author of this story, also named Jonathan Feldman.

    butterfly house
    butterfly house

    2. Recycling has never looked this good.
    eagle ridge
    Situated on Orcas Island in Washington, architect Gary Gladwish’s Eagle Ridge Residence emphasizes the use of recyclable materials. “I don’t rule something out just because it’s used,” Gladwish told HuffPost. “Some of the appliances, the fireplace, all of the wood siding, the material for the bathroom counters, all of that was used, upcycled or recycled material.”

    The Eagle Ridge Residence also uses structural insulated panels, which can cut down on waste and costs considerably. The panels save time in construction, produce less waste on the site and save money in energy costs, since less heat is escaping the structure.

    “The waste stream in this country is greatly contributed to by construction,” Gladwish said. In building the home, all the waste generated by its construction was taken off site in five loads in an SUV. According to the project’s description, the majority of this waste was recyclable as well.

    eagle ridge
    eagle ridge

    3. A little positioning can make spending on heating and air conditioning a thing of the past.
    manifold house
    Los Angeles’s Manifold House takes advantage of southern California’s year-round warm climate to control the home’s temperature. Using strategic positioning and careful planning of the home’s indoor shapes, architect Aaron Neubert and his team from ANX push toward “passive” solutions to keep their buildings naturally cool.

    What really interests Neubert is how knowledge of passive ventilation has fundamentally changed the design process. “If you’re bringing fresh air through plant material or over water, it increases the cooling of the space, and the question becomes how do you make that beautiful?” he told HuffPost. “It becomes interesting, because you’re not just talking about aesthetics with the client, you’re talking about performance.”

    In the Manifold House, windows and vents within the home can help keep the house at the desired temperature. This precise tuning of the air channels in the house completely removes the need for typical air conditioning systems.

    manifold house
    manifold house

    4. Solar panels can be easy on your eyes — and your wallet.
    lowrise house
    In Menlo Park, California, the Low/Rise House uses an electrifying approach to keep the house very low-carbon: an array of solar panels. Hidden from view along the home’s flat roof surfaces, the array reduces the overall energy demand of the house significantly. The house is also positioned to remove the need for air conditioning during the day, even when it gets to be hotter than 100 degrees. Together, there is almost no draw on the grid for power.

    “In order for green building to be successful, sustainability shouldn’t be obvious, it should be an integral part of your design,” principal architect Dan Spiegel of the Spiegel Aihara Worshop told HuffPost. Even though the solar panels are nearly invisible, they will provide the house with almost all its power, and pay themselves back in less than five years.

    To keep the house tightly insulated, the solar panels aren’t bolted to the roof. No holes are drilled through the building envelope; instead, ballasts keep the solar panels in place and ensure that if the solar array ever needs to be adjusted, the roof will not be needlessly damaged.

    low rise
    low rise

    5. What could be better than a house on Martha’s Vineyard? A house MADE OF Martha’s Vineyard.
    island house
    Driving through a grove of trees and a meadow on Martha’s Vineyard, you’ll come across what architect Peter Rose calls “good behavior in a precious landscape.” The Island House by Peter Rose + Partners in Edgartown, Massachusetts is a green vacation home for a family of five that does its best to have a low impact on the island.

    “The house is almost invisible, and much smaller than the house it replaced,” Rose told HuffPost. What gives the house its cloak of invisibility is its wood siding, made of unfinished wood that weathers naturally over time, and a green roof, populated by local sea grasses. The roof collects water into a cistern, irrigates the land around the house and keeps the house independent in terms of its water use.

    “Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most precious, beautiful places in this world,” Rose said. When designing the home, providing the owners with the opportunity to experience the location was key. Passive cooling keeps the temperature stable, even when letting the outside in. “When the windows open up, you drift into a beautiful landscape.”

    island house
    island house

    6. With a bit of planning, you can build a normal sized house with 30 percent fewer trees.
    main street house shed
    “Getting a building right, so it endures, is the first step,” SHED Architecture & Design’s Thomas Schaer said about the construction of the Main Street House in Seattle, Washington. The house uses advanced framing and a bit of extra planning to significantly cut down on its material usage and costs.

    “In standard framing, you don’t need to align your studs, and there’s so much extra wood, it’s almost idiot proof,” Schaer said in an interview with HuffPost. “But with advanced framing, with extra care and planning, you can use 30 percent less of everything.” Advanced framing also prevents the transfer of heat from the interior to the exterior, creating more insulation, which keeps the house’s temperature more steady.

    Requiring less materials then means requiring less lumber for construction. Areas the size of Panama are cut down every year for wood and paper products, and advanced framing can be a driving force for reducing our demand for wood. Schaer says that this is a common practice in Canada, but the United States has been slow to move away from standard framing.

    main street
    main street

    7. Get rid of your heating and air conditioning and replace it with…concrete?
    courtyard house
    To architect Ted Cameron of DeForest Architects, sustainability is more than being fashionable in looking for solutions; true progress is made in designs that have more than just “green lipstick on.” His Courtyard House, situated on Lake Washington in Seattle, is certainly fashionable, but its structure is what makes it so green.

    Much of the Courtyard House’s structure is made of concrete, which uses radiant heating to keep the house’s temperature regulated. “The radiant floor of the house evens out the spiking of temperature,” Cameron said. The home faces the sun and absorbs heat during the day, and then uses its stored heat to stay comfortable at night. “The house cools down at night and stays cool at night,” even without an air conditioning system.

    “There is a trend to return to modernism now, but green building won’t fall out of favor,” Cameron said. “Resources and fossil fuels can’t just be wasted anymore.”

    courtyard house
    courtyard house

    8. Don’t sacrifice; you can still live large even if you build small.
    lavaflow 5 craig steely
    Large homes are a symbol of status in the United States, but architect Craig Steely asks, “Do you really need to build that big?” Lavaflow 5, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the island of Hawaii, is remarkably small. At 1,100 square feet, it provides a comfortable home that uses as much energy as it generates.

    By stripping away extraneous materials and space, the footprint of construction becomes much smaller. “I’ve always been inspired by how good buildings look before they’re finished,” Steely said in a phone interview. “They look compelling, powerful and strong; but then they become covered, clad, buried and killed in layers of requirement.” Steely’s skeletal structure is all “sharp and bones,” which affords less space for rot and mold to grow.

    The small frame and roof of the house were prefabricated in San Francisco and shipped to Hawaii, where they were assembled in five days. The house also uses passive cooling to keep the house at a comfortable temperature and a solar heating system to provide the home with hot water without the need for gas.

    lavaflow 5
    lavaflow 5

    9. Seal your envelope tight and heat your home with a hair dryer.
    park passive house nk
    “This house is a vision of how things should be. Energy and water are two of our top priorities,” said Joe Giampietro of NK Architects. “If you’re building any other way, your house is outdated as soon as its done,” builder Sloan Ritchie agreed. The Park Passive House in Seattle, designed by NK’s Marie Ljubojevic and Lauren McCunney, has cut its energy consumption by 90 percent thanks to the careful design of the architect and builder.

    “We really try to balance with the environment,” Giampietro told HuffPost. Part of what helps the house conserve energy so effectively is its tight envelope; the envelope prevents the outside temperature from affecting the inside temperature when all the windows and doors are closed and allows heat to spread through the house easily. “Theoretically, the net energy needs of the house can be met by a small heat source, like a hair dryer,” he said.

    Jennifer Ritchie is the wife of Sloan Ritchie, and together they live in the home comfortably. Ms. Ritchie, accustomed to her previous home, had difficulty managing all the captured heat at first, but quickly learned how to keep the house cool all day. “I owned a 1912 Craftsman home that had been ordered out of a Sears catalog that wasn’t even insulated,” she said. “With the multi-locking windows and insulation, it makes things really quiet and it reduces our electricity and gas bills significantly.”

    park passive
    park passive

  • This Device Claims To Make Texting And Driving Totally Safe
    The dangers of texting and driving are well-known, but a San Francisco-based startup has a device it claims will let drivers use a phone safely while barreling down the road.

    The video above introduces us to Navdy, a device that sits on your car’s dashboard and projects information from your smartphone onto a 5.1-inch-wide glass display. The device is also hands-free: you can simply swipe left in front of you to answer a call, or right to dismiss a notification. This way, you can keep your eyes on the road, or at least looking forward, while using your phone.

    Sleek and user-friendly as it may seem, such technology does not ensure driver safety. Hands-free infotainment technology is no cure for distracted driving, according to more than 30 research studies. Although hands-free devices let drivers look straight ahead, a 2013 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that, even when drivers keep their eyes on the road, mental distractions can still be dangerous. As a driver’s mental workload increases, their reaction time slows and brain function is compromised, causing them to scan the road less and miss visual cues.

    navdy screen

    Not distracting at all.

    Navdy attempts to reduce this danger by enabling any notification on your phone — texts, calls, social, navigation — to be read aloud or disabled entirely.

    The technology behind Navdy — called a Heads Up Display (HUD) — has existed in fighter planes since the 1950s, and automakers have been trying to bring it to the mainstream market for three decades. On its website, Navdy claims that more than 4 million HUD-equipped new cars were sold between 2010 and 2013. But its high cost has kept it largely confined to luxury vehicles — until now. Navdy retails at $499.

    navdy swipe

    Navdy also reminds potential customers that not every local law in the U.S. is fully down with hands-free texting. Its FAQ says “it is your responsibility to use Navdy in a way that complies with applicable laws.”

  • Watch This Magician's Mind-Bending Illusion Very Closely.. It Makes Order Out Of Chaos
    Magician and New York Times crossword puzzle wizard David Kwong says we’re wired to solve puzzles and make order out of chaos — and he’s got a trick to prove it.

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

  • Chatroulette Guy Isn't Doing What You Think He's Doing. Or Is He? (NSFW?)
    “Chatroulette is a great way to make friends and form lifetime bonds and relationships. It is a place of sharing ideas, and an opportunity to connect with people from around the world,” said nobody ever.

    Let’s face it, when you sign on to Chatroulette, you are signing on to see d*$%. That is, unless you come across comedian Jonny of JonnyTV.

    Watch the video to the very end. Trust us — the twist has a twist.

    Porn For Women,” anybody?

  • App from the Cleveland Clinic helps assess symptoms of multiple sclerosis

    Neuroscientists at the Cleveland Clinic have developed an iPad-based tool for assessing disability and symptoms from multiple sclerosis.

    The post App from the Cleveland Clinic helps assess symptoms of multiple sclerosis appeared first on iMedicalApps.

Mobile Technology News, August 8, 2014

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

  • Apple Releases iTunes 11.3.1 Podcasts Fix

    Apple has quietly released a minor update to iTunes aimed at helping resolve some lingering problems with Podcasts for some users.  The new iTunes 11.3.1 update is available now for Mac through the Mac App Store (check under Updates) or you can download it from the iTunes site.  If you are a iTunes user on PC, you can use the Apple Software update app to get the latest update. Functionally, this update is identical to the iTunes 11.3 update in July.  All this update does is address an issue that some users where having with Podcasts.  Specifically, Apple states Tunes

    The post Apple Releases iTunes 11.3.1 Podcasts Fix appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • NFL Now App Launches for iOS

    The National Football League pre-season is underway and the NFL wants fans to have a great experience no matter where they happen to be:  Home, Work, Stadium or on-the-go.  Today the NFL Now app has launched in the app store and it brings all the action of the NFL and your favourite team to your iPhone or iPad.  The app isn’t a streaming app but rather a repository of content and video to help you enjoy the NFL experience more than just simply watching the game itself.  But, with the NFL Now Plus in-app purchase you can get real time

    The post NFL Now App Launches for iOS appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • From Whale Songs to the Beatles: Computer Analysis of Musical Styles
    Dr. Eric Schulman proposed the contention that “the purpose of science is to get paid for doing fun stuff if you’re not a good enough programmer to write computer games for a living.” I disagree with that statement. Science can be a good reason to do fun stuff also for those who have decent programming skills.

    I have always had high interest in music and art, but unfortunately I am not creative or talented enough to actually create them. Being well aware of my limitations, I took the typical career path of those who really like something but are not so good at it: I went into criticism. But instead of becoming a critic myself, I developed an algorithm that turns the computer into an art and music critic, being able to analyze visual art such as pieces by Pollock and Van Gogh, or music such as that of the Beatles.

    As in so many other research projects, the result was quite different from the initial objective, which was to analyze the vocal communication of whales. Many species of whales communicate by producing vocal messages that travel long distances underwater, but the nature of these calls is not well understood. To analyze large databases of whale sounds, I developed, with a graduate student, Carol Yerby, a computational method that “learns” and classifies different sounds made by whales. The calls were annotated manually by thousands of volunteers through a project called WhaleFM and then analyzed by our algorithm to map the different calls made by the whales. The algorithm works by extracting from each sound sample a comprehensive set of numerical descriptors reflecting the audio data, and then applying pattern recognition and statistical methods to analyze these numerical values and measure the similarity between each pair of sound samples.

    When we asked the computer to visualize the similarities between the sounds of the different whales, we noticed something interesting. The dialects of whales that live in the same geographic locations where more similar to each other than to those of whales living in other locations. The results were consistent for both killer whales and pilot whales. So the algorithm showed that whales, just like humans, have different accents based on the geographic location they live in.

    Vocal communication of whales sounds like songs whales sing to each other. So if our algorithm was able to analyze songs made by whales, we started to wonder how well it could analyze songs made by humans. The intersection between computing and the humanities is one of my research interests, so it just made sense to give it a try.

    Together with graduate student Joe George, we started to explore how the audio-analysis algorithms could be used to analyze music. We applied the algorithm to the studio albums of several well-known popular music bands, and naturally we started with the Beatles. Surprisingly, the computer sorted the Beatles albums by their chronological order, although it did not have any information about them other than the audio data. So by just “listening” to the music and analyzing all albums, the algorithm was able to determine which album was released before which. It even identified that the songs on Let It Be were recorded before those on Abbey Road, although Let It Be was released later.

    In a similar way we tested several other bands, such as ABBA, Queen, and U2, and the algorithm was able to deduce the chronological order of the albums automatically. In the case of U2, the algorithm detected just a mild change in the band’s musical style during the late ’80s and early ’90s. For Queen the algorithm sorted the albums in almost perfect chronological order, but it also automatically separated Hot Space and subsequent albums from the previous albums, which agrees with the band’s shift from their ’70s musical style to their ’80s sound.

    One band that we were not able to analyze was Led Zeppelin. The algorithm was not able to produce anything sensible by analyzing the albums of that band, and it seemed that for the algorithm each album was a world in itself, separated from the other albums. For more recent music we attempted to analyze the studio albums of Taylor Swift, but the computer just clustered the albums together, without identifying musical differences between them. We used that experiment as a negative control, but our attempt to study modern music was terminated rather prematurely, after my student refused to perform analysis of the albums of Justin Bieber.

    The main purpose of the algorithm was to provide a way of studying music in a quantitative fashion, but such algorithms might eventually have some practical uses, such as music discoverability. In the era of big data, computers will help by searching huge music databases and identifying the music we are likely to enjoy but would not have otherwise known about. When these algorithms become sufficiently smart, they will complete the transformation of the music-consumption culture, providing equal opportunity to all musicians to make their work accessible to their target audience without necessarily signing a contract with a mighty music label or making their way into radio station playlists.

  • Online game maker Zynga cuts outlook
    Online game maker Zynga cuts its outlook for 2014 as its losses continue to widen, and due to delayed launch of new games and features.
  • 'Virgins Wanted' At NYC Film Festival
    Nothing arouses controversy like a movie about a man and a woman auctioning off their virginity.

    A documentary called “Virgins Wanted” purportedly tells the true story of what happened in November 2012, when Catarina Migliorini and Alex Stepanov attempted to sell the rights to their first sexual experience. The documentary makes its U.S. debut Aug. 14 at the Chain NYC Film Festival.

    The film’s premiere marks the end of a six-year effort for filmmaker Justin Sisely, who organized the auction. In the process, he discovered that auctioning off a person’s virginity is not easy to do.

    “Women who want to auction their virginity see it as a quick and easy way to make a lot of money,” Sisely told The Huffington Post. “However, this is not the case. It took me almost three years to find bidders prepared to pay large amounts money for a girl’s virginity.”

    When Sisely wasn’t struggling with Migliorini’s visa problems, he had to contend with legal threats from Brazil’s attorney general, who threatened him with sex trafficking charges if Migliorini went through with the “deal.”

    The Brazilian-born Migliorini allegedly received a winning bid of $780,000 for her virginity from a Japanese man known as “Natsu,” while Stepanov was offered a paltry $2,600 from a 43-year-old Australian woman named “Kasandra Darlinghurst.” Stepanov was initially offered $3,000, but turned that down when he learned the bidder was male.

    In the film, Darlinghurst explains that she chose to purchase Stepanov’s virginity more out of mercy than lust.

    “I just feel like he shouldn’t be just losing his virginity for money,” she said. “He should lose it because he really wants to, whether that’s a one-night stand or a relationship.”

    The film being showed at the festival is actually four episodes of what has been turned into a six-part reality series.

    Sisely said the series is being shopped to TV networks around the world, and there are a few U.S. outlets that have expressed interest in showing the series.

    Chain NYC Film Festival director Kirk Gostkowski was unfamiliar with Sisely’s controversial virgin auction when he first saw the film.

    “I actually thought it was a romantic comedy,” he said. “But I was impressed. It’s extremely fascinating. If the people in this film are acting, they deserve Academy Awards.”

    The Huffington Post has not seen the completed film, but the summary on the film festival website suggests that Stepanov initially developed a crush on Migliorini and tried to talk her out of selling her virginity and have a real romance.

    Instead, Migliorini chose to go through with the auction.

    The film’s key scenes revolve around the first meeting between Migliorini and Natsu. She has long maintained that no sex took place and has previously claimed that she decided not to lose her virginity via the auction because she felt Sisely misled her and tried to defraud her.

    She also alleges that when she went to meet the mysterious “Natsu” at a restaurant in Sydney, Australia, he didn’t match the description Sisely gave her.

    Sisely admits he was just as shocked when the alleged Japanese millionaire showed up.

    “Natsu was a shock to all of us. We were prepared for someone different as you can see in the documentary,” he said. “Despite who Natsu was, Catarina’s fate was in her own hands. Catarina handled the situation extremely poorly and it cost her everything.”

    Sisely has not spoken with Migliorini since filming completed around the end of 2012.

    “I am looking forward to the series airing so people can see what really happened,” he told HuffPost.

    Since filming ended, Migliorini has attempted to capitalize on her fame in Brazil by holding a second virgin auction and, when that didn’t work, creating a “Bachelorette”-type reality show.

    Neither project has panned out. Sisely says he isn’t surprised.

    “Catarina made a lot of false accusations and it has become apparent that she is unsuccessful at many things,” he said. “I think people generally get what they deserve.”

    Sisely has a better relationship with Stepanov, the male virgin.

    “I speak to Alex occasionally to see how he is,” Sisely said. “He was working in hospitality and living on his own the last time I spoke to him.”

    This is an improvement for Stepanov, who reportedly agreed to sell his virginity as a way to combat social anxiety he said was so severe that it prevented him from attending college classes.

    “I tried to concentrate on the project and see what it brings me because, at the end of the day, I thought, ‘I’m just going to do the thing and when it’s going to be too hard, I’m just going to pull out.'”

    Although Sisely’s Virgins Wanted website continues to get submissions from other interested virgins hoping to cash in on their sexual experiences, he has no plans to stay in the virgin auction business.

    “I am tackling suicide in my next feature documentary series,” he said.

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  • VIDEO: How the Panama Canal was built
    BBC News tells the story of the construction of one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
  • One million on 'superfast broadband'
    More than a million people in the UK now have superfast broadband speeds, according to the government.
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    The virtual tech giving the physical world a makeover
  • Three Strategies for Promoting Mcommerce via Your App
    Morgan Stanley analysts have projected that by 2015, mobile Internet usage will surpass its desktop counterpart, and according to eMarketer, sales in global mobile commerce (m-commerce) will easily exceed $100 billion by 2017. As a result, merchants aiming to increase m-commerce sales are continuously opting for mobile app solutions. While apps that exclusively function as ecommerce platforms traditionally drive revenue, savvy marketers are also using branded apps to promote sales, build brand loyalty, and drive customer engagement.

    There are a number of different approaches you can take to promoting mcommerce within your mobile app, but here are three approaches to consider:

    1. Freemium Economy. A portmanteau of the words “free” and “premium,” the phrase refers to apps that are free to download and use but require payment to acquire additional in-app perks. Business analyst firm App Annie released a report indicating that 98% of Google Play’s income in May came from freemium apps – illustrating just how lucrative this method can be. Gaming apps like Candy Crush use this approach, often enticing users with a free game that delivers a great user experience and then offering additional services – extra lives, boosters, etc. – for a charge.

    Many well-known productivity and communication apps work on this principle as well. Dropbox offers users an initial amount of storage space for free and the option to purchase additional gigabytes when they need more room. Scale is important when setting the price: WhatsApp, the messaging subscription service, charges a dollar a year after the free first year, but with 450 million users, that’s more than enough.

    2. Social networking. This approach functions to leverage social influencers to drive m-commerce and is especially effective for brands that are focused around a niche audience. Our work with the VigorWay app is a great example – it’s a social network for health & fitness enthusiasts, providing a platform where they can share adventures and connect with other like-minded people. Once users feel well-connected with the community, they’re more than likely to buy additional items that are sold through the platform.

    Our team also developed Pippit, a beautiful mobile community that bridges blogging with social media and aims to transform how people share and find what they love. The app lets users follow their favorite bloggers, friends and brands all while being able to share personal blog posts, photos and videos. Like VigorWay, Pippit helps users discover new content and allows social influencers to tag where products can be purchased. .

    3. Simplified purchasing. The third approach borrows a page from Amazon’s book and makes it as simple as possible for users to buy products. This strategy is based on delivering a seamless purchasing experience, ideally giving users the opportunity to view highly relevant content and purchase items with just one click.

    CoffeeTable, an iPad app, is a platform we helped build that delivers a simplified purchasing experience that drives m-commerce. The CoffeeTable app turns your tablet into a virtual coffee table, and since it’s digital, no logistics costs are involved in delivering catalogs. The app tracks browser behavior, helping users discover similar and relevant items, which they can then purchase seamlessly in an expressway.

    Apps are a powerful way to drive m-commerce, even if they don’t primarily function as an ecommerce app. With the right strategy, you can use your brand’s app to accurately target customers, track user behavior and deliver more relevant offers, all while providing users with a useful and intuitive user experience.

  • Heartbroken Dad Asks Reddit To Transform His Son's Photo, Immediately Gets His Wish
    Reddit has won our hearts yet again.

    About a month after Redditors helped a grieving dad Photoshop a picture of his infant daughter, the online community has rallied once more to help another parent with a similar request.

    “My son passed away a few years ago after two short weeks in the hospital and I have no pictures of him without all of the tubes,” user Jstefut wrote on the social news site on Wednesday. “I saw a father make this same post and was amazed by the response. If anyone can remove the tubes from this photo, I would be extremely grateful.”

    Several Redditors immediately rose to the challenge. Within a few shorts hours, the Redditor saw his wish fulfilled.

    The Photoshopped image above, created by Reddit user William Gates, has been the favorite so far. “I simply saw an opportunity to help someone and took it,” Gates told the Daily Dot, adding that he’s fulfilled several Photoshop requests from Redditors in the past.

    In a follow-up post Wednesday, Jstefut, who claims to have never used Reddit before this request, thanked the online community for its efforts and thoughtfulness.

    “To everyone on here, I want to thank you for the kind words and for all the different pictures you’ve made,” he wrote. “It’s so great to see a community just taking time out of there [sic] day to help someone else and show them love. I’ve tried to thank message everyone who’s made a pic so far personally, but if I’ve missed you so far just know I appreciate you and I will try to talk to you soon.”

    “Everyone, just try to surround yourself with love,” Jstefut concluded.

    Last month, Nathen Steffel asked Reddit community members if they could help Photoshop a picture of his late daughter, who had died after a long battle in the hospital.

    “Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?” Steffel asked.

    Reddit gladly obliged, and the result — as it is in Jstefut’s case — was astounding. “I was emotionally taken back by all the support and personal messages from families who shared a similar experience of grief,” Steffel told The Huffington Post at the time.

    Oh, Reddit. Sometimes you really knock it out of the park.

  • Black Twitter Calls Out Associated Press For Renisha McBride Tweet, And It's Spot On
    The Associated Press is usually known for its journalistic integrity, but the news outlet’s framing of a murder conviction has drawn outrage on social media. And, as is common with Black Twitter, much of that criticism was funny, ironic, lightning fast, and given its own hashtag: #APHeadlines.

    Theodore Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder and manslaughter Thursday in Detroit for the shooting death of Renisha McBride. McBride, 19, had been in an accident several hours before she died on Nov. 2. When she appeared on Wafer’s porch in a Detroit suburb and banged on his door at 4:30 a.m., she was injured, highly intoxicated, unarmed and potentially looking for help. She died when Wafer shot her in the face through his locked screen door.

    After the verdict was announced, the AP tweeted this update:

    MORE: Suburban Detroit homeowner convicted of second-degree murder for killing woman who showed up drunk on porch: http://t.co/parUipYRxw

    — The Associated Press (@AP) August 7, 2014

    However, many saw emphasizing McBride’s drunkenness as a unfair way to present the story.

    @AP why does this sound sympathetic and victim blaming please ??

    — BUTWHEREARETHEGIRLS? (@ChiMo___) August 7, 2014

    The AP shared the story again, rewording the new tweet to take out reference to McBride’s intoxication.

    Jury convicts Michigan man in killing of unarmed woman on his porch (rewords language from previous tweet): http://t.co/2nyobBY4Fx

    — The Associated Press (@AP) August 7, 2014

    But that can’t stop a hashtag. Thus, #APHeadlines was born, and plenty of other … unexpected ways of framing news stories emerged, with tweets mocking the AP’s alleged victim-blaming in reimagined views of history.

    Like if Hurricane Katrina was instead thought of as a real estate opportunity for the people of New Orleans:

    The poor of New Orleans leave their cramped apartments to wait out hurricane in spacious Superdome #APheadlines

    — sharon (@skrspooky) August 7, 2014

    Or if slave traders generously gave away free vacations:

    #APHeadlines millions of Africans complain after free cruise to the Americas; slave traders find them ‘ungrateful’ pic.twitter.com/EolDxEiz4Y

    — W.E.B DemBois (@Phil_Cosby_) August 7, 2014

    And if school shootings were kids’ faults:

    Students across America steal bullets from reasonable gun owners, hide them internally. #APHeadlines

    — LOLgical Jordon (@dyrbert) August 7, 2014

    If Martin Luther King Jr.’s death wasn’t an assassination:

    BREAKING: Stray bullet strikes uppity negro speechifying on balcony #APHeadlines

    — Joe Black (@joeblackzw) August 7, 2014

    If Jesus died because he wasn’t in good enough shape:

    Homeless blasphemer from low-income Nazarene family, low on stamina, fails to survive crucifixion. #APHeadlines

    — Marissa Jackson (@LaToubabNoire) August 7, 2014

    And many, many more.

    Officers Provide Impromptu Pet Therapy To Calm Violent Teen Mob #APHeadlines pic.twitter.com/US8Xh5gPME

    — CJ (@LowKeyLeftE) August 7, 2014

    Children flee tourist locations in Latin America in hunt for government handouts and comfy beds in deportation centers. #APHeadlines

    — Carolyn Martinez (@CMartinezClass) August 7, 2014

    Firemen cool teens off. Providing relief from the Suns hot rays. #APHeadlines pic.twitter.com/NOHbmQQisb

    — DJ QUEEN (@THEDJQUEEN) August 7, 2014

    RT @AP How Ted Wafer’s porch is the real victim. #APHeadlines

    — Detroit O (@BlameOtis) August 7, 2014

    #APHeadlines LAPD helping out Negro civilian after his car stopped pic.twitter.com/gYgbtjfdkj

    — Clayton Pea (Zulu) (@ZuluPeabody) August 7, 2014

    #APHeadlines Philanthropic millionaire innocently requests immigration paperwork of Taliban affiliated President

    — ❤Mina_Mosley❤ (@DSTBlaze) August 7, 2014

    Heroic Neighborhood Watch Volunteer Spares Minority Youth From Pain Of Adulthood Disappointments With Gun #APHeadlines

    — Zandar (@ZandarVTS) August 7, 2014

    Black people suffer mass delusion that they deserve basic human decency and respect. #APHeadlines

    — Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) August 7, 2014

    Beyond Twitter hashtags, McBride’s death also incited conversations about race and media bias, the lack of value black women have in society and disparities in the criminal justice system. This latest Black Twitter response highlights those issues in a way the community has often done in the past like the #DangerousBlackKids that took off after the verdict in the Jordan Davis case was announced. Although the tweets may be rooted in humor, they drive home a powerful point.

  • Baggage Culture and Why Embracing Transhumanism Doesn't Come Easy
    Twenty years ago, while in college and wondering why everyone else in the world wasn’t hell-bent on trying to live indefinitely via the promising fields of transhumanist science, I began working on the idea of what mass culture is and if it was holding back people from wanting to maximize their lifespans and human potential. I came up with the concept baggage culture, which is explored in detail in my novel The Transhumanist Wager and its philosophy Teleological Egocentric Functionalism (TEF).

    Upon the request of my friends at Movement for Indefinite Life Extension (MILE), I recently condensed my thoughts on baggage culture in my speech at the Brighter Brains Future of Emotional Health and Intelligence Conference at University of California, Berkeley. Here’s a summary of that recent talk:

    For many thousands of years now, the human race has been indoctrinated to submit to orthodoxy and to cower before authority, and to swallow endless nonsense from both. We have been brainwashed to sacrifice our innermost desires, our most obvious needs, our most natural outlook on reality, just to live as a hostage in a cage of carefully regulated and fabricated cognitive existence. Virtually everyone and everything–our countries, customs, faiths, leaders, relatives, friends, lifestyles, even our own memories–have been manipulating and pressuring us to shun fresh, unconventional thoughts. Especially transhuman-oriented thoughts. There has been a pervasive worldwide moratorium on thinking about what the human being is capable of and its possible evolutionary advancement in terms that make a substantial difference in reality.

    Why has this happened? To transhumanists, the reason is obvious: We–the people of the world–have allowed it to happen. Each of us is guilty for not heeding a higher calling: a more logical, more ambitious, more sublime direction for our life, and a journey to our best self. Our great flaw is the mistaken way in which we choose to interpret existence; our subscription and obedience to the cultural constructs that government, organized religion, ethnic heritage, mega-corporations, and mass media have built around, and within, nearly every thought and action we make. Their web of indoctrination has wholly swamped our lives. Sadly, most of us don’t even know this has happened. Most of us are living on this planet in utter delusion, conforming to a largely manufactured and forced reality.

    Throughout our lives and modern history, civilization has erroneously subscribed to the vision that the human being is a marvelous, ingeniously assembled specimen of life: a work of divine creation and sweeping beauty, whose culture and intellect is profound like the cosmos itself. What a joke. The cruel truth is we are a frail, hacked-together organism living within a global culture of irrationality, pettiness, and deception. The specific reason our existing human culture is so malformed is that, throughout history, past cultural constructs of more primitive societies were not discarded as they became irrelevant or outdated. To survive, it was not evolutionarily required to rid ourselves of unnecessary idiosyncrasies and practiced customs–such as nonsensical superstitions, masochistic religiosity, and shackling morality–even though they were foolish to uphold. As a result, damaging, wasteful, and useless behavioral patterns were passed on both socially and individually from generation to generation.

    So now, modern humans are a weighed-down species, burdened by cumbersome past rubbish that’s mostly crudely stacked, obsolete cultural constructs through which our minds perceive reality. I call this baggage culture. And it’s caused nearly all human life to be degenerate and apathetic compared to what it could be. Our species’ mindset and powers of perception are currently too lumbering and unfit for what a sophisticated, nimble entity really needs of itself. Our lives are cursed because of the polluted cultural prism our thoughts must exist within and communicate through. In Sisyphean tragedy, we are doomed to grovel, to falter, to repeat our same pathetic mistakes, day after day, year after year, century after century. We need to transition from our defective culture into a new one that directly confronts these issues and sets our minds and transhuman possibilities free.

    The twisted history of our baggage culture extends back many millennia. It started long ago with the inception of civilization, when charismatic leaders and ruling clans began forming permanent communities. Over time, these rulers learned they could preserve their platforms of power by controlling their communities’ thinking and behavioral patterns. Their agendas were simple: dominate with fear through violence; stifle revolutionary and freethinking ambitions; teach adherence to leadership and community before self; implement forms of thought and behavioral control that encourage social cooperation and production, such as communal customs, prayers, taboos, and rites. Variations abounded, but these were the early convoluted versions of human culture and its main intent: to control. Henceforth, culture’s core function became a means of forcing conformity, to transform the individual into a tool of submission and production for the ruling elite.

    As generations passed, these rulers and their predecessors continually revised and enlarged their constructs of culture, force-feeding the functional and nonfunctional–rational and irrational–parts to our forbears. Naturally, it didn’t take long in evolutionary terms before people everywhere existed within a universal baggage culture, full of compounded dysfunction. Of course, in modern times, control of human culture has changed hands from the ruling elite to whole governments, religious institutions, multicontinent ethnic groups, and most recently, to mega-corporations and mass media. As the complexities and population of the world ballooned, baggage culture continued to prove versatile and useful to whatever cause it engaged. Nations governed through it. Religions preached through it. Ethnic groups taught their heritages through it. Big business sold through it. And the media communicated through it.

    To cement their authoritarian agendas, these supersized institutions’ advancing baggage culture implemented ever more effective methods of control over society. Chief and most potent amongst them was the inversion of reason, where cultural forces obliged us to rationally accept the irrational. By corrupting the rational way we thought and interpreted life, they simultaneously corrupted the necessity and power of reason altogether. In that devious way, mysticism, ancestral divinity, the supernatural, religion, and even the institutions’ all-important puffed-up selves were seen as valid outcomes of a supposedly sensible, straightforward, and successful society.

    Among many others, altruism, filial piety, and consumer addiction to unnecessary materialism were other methods of control. However, to transhumanists, the most grotesque of all the methods was the perpetuation of fear in our lives; not by the threat of violence, but by implicit guilt. This powerful psychological addiction of worrying about what others think of us, and about what is socially acceptable to others, has been systematically instilled in humans for thousands of years, perpetrated by every world religion, ethnicity, and government. Its aim is to weaken people’s wills and to silence their most precious independent tool: the ability to freely, guiltlessly, and publicly judge and criticize the world around them. In that way, people became afraid to pick apart others and their behaviors; afraid to deride society and its routines; afraid to upend their own world and circumstances; and, ultimately, afraid to differentiate between good and evil, utility and irrationality, strength and weakness, equal and non-equal–essentially all value itself. Such pervasive social control through the fear of others’ opinions has left us meek, ashamed, and largely unwilling to openly question or challenge a thing like the omnipresent state. Or our sacred heritages. Or the rife sense of needing to be wealthier than our neighbors. Or our supposedly sinless and perfect gods. The spicy, troublesome, confrontational bigot in us is often our best and most useful part, and they have strangled it out of most of us in the guise of what they call “open-mindedness” or “politically correct social behavior.”

    Ultimately, implicit guilt and culture’s many other devices of submission are designed to make us totally subscribe to one single concept: we should be afraid to rise to being as powerful an entity as we can; we should be afraid to try to become an omnipotent God. That is the essence and outcome of our baggage culture.

    The truth is so simple to see once we understand it: Religion, ethnic heritage, state power, material addiction, and media entrapment are nothing more than pieces of an intangible psychological construct designed to keep us thinking and living a certain way. It’s designed to keep us in fear of becoming as powerful as we can be; to keep us producing for others and contributing to their overall gain, and not our own.

    Today, our species’ baggage culture is a gargantuan mindless monster, consuming and dominating everything it can. Even its main pushers–the overarching institutions–can’t control it anymore; instead, they always find it controlling and devouring them. There’s no escape from the confusion and redundancy anymore, from the vestigial aspects of stacking useless cultural constructs upon each other. If you think one tailbone in the human body is pointless, imagine a hundred of them weighing you down. Figuratively, that’s what baggage culture looks like. Many of our thoughts are piles of ignorance and erroneous ideas stacked upon piles of ignorance and erroneous ideas. We are unable to think freely and escape our slovenly, derelict pasts.

    This, sadly, is baggage culture. And it’s the primary reason we don’t demand more of our lives and of our possible transhumanist future.

  • Top 5 Ways Brands Can Shape the DIY Phenomenon
    From the big global players to the emerging online brands, everyone wants in on the DIY phenomenon. But it’s the brands that go beyond product customization to embrace the creativity of the world around them in the most relevant ways that will win.

    1. Drive culture
    Last year our global Cultural Traction study showed that Apple was struggling to keep up with the cultural conversation and losing its vibrancy. But if it’s recent acquisition of Beats by Dr Dre and its latest TV campaign ‘Stickers’ are anything to go by, Apple is reconnecting with the world around its brand. The ad features the MacBook Air customized with various clever pop-culture references from Breaking Bad to Snow White and everyone’s favorite cartoon dad – Homer Simpson. Getting creative with the customization trend, Apple’s logo interacts with the fast moving artwork, placing the brand firmly in the center of a constantly shifting culture.

    2. Create engaging experiences
    It’s not just the fast moving tech brands that are successfully leveraging DIY to offer better brand experiences. In the US, McDonald’s have started to offer a ‘build your own burger’ service where customers can craft their own burger contents using a tablet at the order point. Similarly, Starbucks is launching a customization option for its cold beverages after successful trials in the US, Japan and Singapore. These brands understand that people want to play a creative role in the story of their brands and so they offer creative and sensory experiences beyond the moment of consumption.

    3. Connect with the creators
    One step further than inviting people to participate in creative brand experiences is to enable the creators who are already out there making. Rising e-commerce site Etsy calls itself ‘the most beautiful marketplace in the world’, not only giving us a place to buy and sell unique creations for the home and wardrobe but also allowing creative people all over the world to connect with and inspire each other.

    4. Offer a helping hand
    Consumers today are expecting more from brands and looking for value beyond traditional products. The DIY hype is the perfect backdrop to offer up new skills to drive people’s creativity. Take British telecommunications giant O2 who have developed an online initiative; Learn to Code with Decoded. The program gives UK school children the opportunity to learn the history of programming before experimenting for themselves with HTML, JavaScript and CSS. Taking inspiration from O2 could mean that not only do consumers get more value from brands, but learn something that helps them toward perfecting a craft and also gives the brand an opportunity to engage at multiple touch points.

    5. Think about the bigger picture
    Brands that go beyond participating in the DIY trend to actually shaping it understand that they need to be relevant to multiple areas of people’s lives. Global sportswear brand Adidas has taken trainer customization one step further than its rival Nike with plans to launch an app that allows customers to print their personal Instagram photos directly on to the ZX Flux trainer. Beyond customized color, fabric and features, Adidas is bridging the gap between the world of digital and real life; inviting people to be artists in their own right and materialize their favorite memories. The app is creative and allows individual expression, but most importantly is useful and relevant.

    Craft. Connect. Co-create. Become a part of the DIY ecosystem making it relevant to your brand and crucially, everyday life.

  • Is the Internet of Things a Solution or Just Another Problem Waiting to Happen?
    This question originally appeared on Quora:Is the Internet of Things a solution looking for a problem? Why or why not?

    2014-08-07-BRILL.jpeg

    Answer by Jonathan Brill, Start-up Specialist

    Internet of Things is a collection of technologies that are one critical component of making dumb, inefficient, resource-wasteful systems become smart. What does smart mean? In the context of a smart home, it would mean providing the maximum level of comfort while using the least amount of resources.

    One example: if you own a home you likely employ a number of systems that make your space more comfortable and nice to live in; things like a heating and cooling system, an electrical system, a water heating system, and if you have a nice yard, an irrigation system. Most of the existing versions of those systems in homes today are at least ten years old, and what we would classify as very dumb, almost mechanical, but definitely manual. When you’re cold you might turn your thermostat up which activates your heater and then proceeds to heat up the air in your entire living space. You may or may not remember to ever turn it off when you’re comfortable again or when you leave.

    A smarter version would understand what comfortable means, make you comfortable (in whatever room you’re in and are going to be) and then disengage when you’re no longer awake or home. This is what “smart” thermostats like Nest are trying to achieve. They’re smarter, connected, and use data about behavior to keep you comfortable using less resources.

    If you took that capability and added it to every system in your home, you could be more comfortable while using a fraction of the resources. That these technologies aren’t pervasive is a result of resource cost not being high enough and component cost not being low enough.

    But those of us who are excited about this space and follow it expect that to change over the next year or so.

    More questions on Quora:

  • 12 Midwest Startups That Are Changing the Status Quo
    When you think of tech innovation, huge companies like Facebook or Apple may leap to mind. These behemoths undoubtedly made a worldwide impact, but some of the biggest game changers aren’t happening on a global scale. They aren’t even happening in Silicon Valley.

    Between the East and West coasts, the region some call the Silicon Prairie is thriving economically, with considerable growth in investment and jobs. Midwestern entrepreneurs are proving a knack for finding niches and solving problems, from startup pitches here at Verge in Indianapolis to Dwolla in Des Moines shaking up the financial industry.

    This list showcases 12 startups in a wide range of industries and Midwestern locations, but they all offer a unique twist that may leave convention far behind.

    Like this list? Please share it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Think we missed an innovative Midwestern startup? Give your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Bitcoin Momentum Grows in Emerging Markets
    By Min-Si Wang

    2014-08-07-bitcoinemergingmarkets.jpg

    [Image via Shutterstock]

    Bitcoin is gradually making progress as a medium of exchange in developing countries. While it can be volatile as an investment asset, it has real utility as an instrument for payment and money transfer, especially in places where conventional payment systems are immature. Because Bitcoin facilitates instant payment through peer-to-peer technology, most transactions can be completed in less than 10 minutes no matter how distant the two parties are. In addition, each transaction is recorded in a public ledger, enhancing transparency and trustworthiness.

    Consequently, a supportive ecosystem is quickly evolving around the digital currency. Companies–mostly startups–are building exchanges, trading and payment platforms, wallets, and storage and remittance services. There are now around 65,000 bitcoin transactions a day currently, and 13 million bitcoins are in circulation globally. (That converts to about $8 billion at a recent USD/BTC exchange rate of $589/BTC). But bitcoin’s ability to scale further hinges on consumer confidence and the development of services that allow users to securely store and transact in bitcoins.”

    To be sure, consumers are increasingly familiar with many of the concepts behind bitcoin in emerging markets like parts of Africa, where alternative cashless payment solutions like M-Pesa’s mobile money are already popular. A recent survey by mobile payment company Jana found that over half of respondents from Asia and Africa expressed confidence in investing in bitcoin. Consumer confidence is especially high in Kenya, home of M-Pesa, and 74 percent of Kenyan respondents said they would feel comfortable investing in digital currency.

    A number of intriguing startups in Asia and Africa are offering various bitcoin-related services. Below are a few notable examples:

    BITCOIN EXCHANGES

    The first live bitcoin exchange in the world, Vietnam’s VBTC, offers trading services, multisignature wallets (used to reduce the possibility of fraud by employing several private keys), and bitcoin storage. The firm’s founder says that Vietnam’s high inflation rate makes bitcoin an attractive alternative to the national currency. While local regulators have issued warnings about bitcoin risks, VBTC is bullish on the digital currency’s potential in Southeast Asia and beyond.

    In neighboring China, BTC China is one of the world’s largest exchanges for the digital currency. In addition to providing trading and exchange services, BTC China offers a wallet app, Picasso, which enables users to sell bitcoins by pushing a few buttons. But Chinese regulators are as leery of bitcoin as their Vietnam counterparts: China’s Central Bank has restricted the transfer of bitcoins in China.

    REMITTANCE SERVICES

    According to the World Bank, remittance flow, or the amount of money sent back to their home country by global economic emigrants, reached $414 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow to $540 billion by 2016. As bitcoins become easier to acquire in developed countries where remittance flow originates, bitcoin startups can offer the migrant population international transfer at a significant discount to traditional providers like banks and Western Union. Bitcoin remittance can be verified, settled, and signed off on for free in a few minutes, making the transfer efficient. Kenya-based startup Bitpesa, which serves the African diaspora in the UK and aims to expand to other African countries, currently offers remittance service at only 3 percent per transaction. By contrast, Western Union and banks often charge transfer fees of between 9 and 20 percent. PayPal, a popular inexpensive transfer method in developed countries, is not available in Kenya.

    PAYMENT AND WALLET SERVICES

    BitPago, a bitcoin payment startup targeting Latin America, charges 5 percent to process credit card transactions and handles bitcoins for free for hotels and hostels. Based in Argentina, the founder, Sebastian Serrano, was inspired by hyperinflation and the economic damages that currency volatility has caused there. Another LATAM start-up, Moneero, allows users to manage accounts and sub-accounts in bitcoins. Moneero also provides secure wallet services, Moneero Social and Moneero SMS, which allow users to transfer bitcoins through both mobile and social media.

    Users in developed markets still account for the majority of bitcoin transactions, but penetration is increasing in emerging markets. While the U.S. dollar accounts for approximately 80 percent of bitcoin trading volume, trading volume in China grew from 0.4 percent in 2012 to 4.7 percent in 2014. One of the most popular bitcoin exchanges, BTC-e, is based in Bulgaria.

    As the bitcoin ecosystem continues to expand, emerging-markets startups are gaining the attention of venture capitalists from the developed world. BitPago has raised $600,000 from investors including Boost Bitcoin Fund and Pantera Capital, while BTC China has raised $5 million in Series A funding.

    Much like the development of mobile money in Africa, emerging markets present incubation and growth opportunities. There’s a consumer appetite for alternate currency in these places where inefficient financial systems often levy high service fees for both individual customers and small businesses. In Latin America, Asia, and Africa, bitcoin use will just keep going up.

    Min-Si Wang contribues on topics relating to finance and e-commerce for Techonomy. She currently works in tech M&A as a consultant, and has experiences in international development for Planet Finance and the Clinton Foundation.

    Original article published on Techonomy.com.

  • Israel, Gaza, War &amp; Data: Social Networks and the Art of Personalizing Propaganda
    It’s hard to shake away the utterly depressing feeling that comes with news coverage these days. IDF and Hamas are at it again, a vicious cycle of violence, but this time it feels much more intense. While war rages on the ground in Gaza and across Israeli skies, there’s an all-out information war unraveling in social networked spaces.

    Not only is there much more media produced, but it is coming at us at a faster pace, from many more sources. As we construct our online profiles based on what we already know, what we’re interested in, and what we’re recommended, social networks are perfectly designed to reinforce our existing beliefs. Personalized spaces, optimized for engagement, prioritize content that is likely to generate more traffic; the more we click, share, like, the higher engagement tracked on the service. Content that makes us uncomfortable, is filtered out.

    In a broadcast society, there were gatekeepers, the editors, and they controlled the flows of information. Along came the Internet and it swept them out of the way, and it allowed all of us to connect together, and it was awesome. But that’s not actually what’s happening right now.
    — Eli Pariser, the Filter Bubble.

    We’re not seeing different viewpoints, but rather more of the same.

    A healthy democracy is contingent on having a healthy media ecosystem. As builders of these online networked spaces, how do we make sure we optimizing not only for traffic and engagement, but also an informed public?

    gazainfographic1
    Instagram co-tag graph, highlighting three distinct topical communities: 1) pro-Israeli (Orange), 2) pro-Palestinian (Yellow), and 3) Religious / muslim (Purple)

    Media Constructs Reality

    As I’m writing this post, details of an Israeli Air Force missile attack near the entrance of a United Nations school in Rafah are emerging. The attack killed at least 10, injuring many more. The IDF claims it had targeted three members of the Islamic Jihad riding a motorcycle near the school, not the school itself.

    Within the hour, top English-language news portals are leading with the story (see image gallery):

    • The New York Times: “Airstrike Near U.N. School Kills 10”
    • Google News: “US ‘Appalled’ by ‘Disgraceful’ UN School Shelling”
    • CNN: “U.N. Calls Strike near Gaza Shelter ‘Moral Outrage'”
    • Huffington Post: “State Dept: Israel Shelling ‘Disgraceful'”

    When we take a look at some of the top Israeli digital media portals, there’s little mention of the incident at all (headlines translated from Hebrew):

    • Ynet: “IDF Redeploys Troops, Hamas Shoots 95 Rockets Today”. There’s a minor mention of the incident far below the fold.
    • Mako (Channel 2 News): “IDF General: ‘we will go in and destroy every tunnel that we discover'”. Not a single mention of the U.N. school incident.
    • Nana: No mention of the incident.
    • Ha’aretz: Leads with an article about the U.N. school attack.

    As you can see, there’s almost no mention of the incident across major Israeli media portals. Ha’aretz does cover the story, but Ha’aretz also has less than 10% readership, as it is considered to engender extreme liberal views. In the fallout of this war, the paper is also losing subscribers angered by published articles critiquing the IDF.

    Israelis are convinced that media around the world is one-sided, anti-Israeli, and heavily biased towards the Palestinian cause. Yet few come out against their own clearly biased, heavily concentrated and privately owned media (see: Mozes family , Sheldon Adelson).

    The following illustration, created in 2012 in response to CNN’s whitewashing of Bahrain dictatorship, has been popularly shared across Israeli Facebook pages over the past weeks. It depicts common Israeli sentiment towards western media, as irrational and detached from reality.

    Bu Carlos Latuff karikatürü İsrailliler tarafından sosyal medyada en çok paylaşılan karikatürlerden biriymiş pic.twitter.com/fYsFeZx6Ri

    — Meltem (@saymelha) August 5, 2014

    This illustration originally created by Carlos Latuff, a cartoonist, artist and activist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was heavily shared amongst Israeli users on Facebook over the past month.

    These very deliberate choices made by media outlets affect our reality, how well we’re informed as a public. Should Israelis show more sympathy towards the U.N. school attack? And if so, who is to blame?

    On social network sites

    … the landscape is much more nuanced, and highly personalized. We construct a representation of our interest by choosing to follow or like specific pages. The more we engage with certain type of content, the more similar content is made visible in our feeds. Recommendation and scoring functions learn from our social connections and our actions online, constructing a model that optimizes for engagement; the more engagement, the more traffic, clicks, likes, shares, and so forth, the higher the company’s supposed value. Our capitalistic markets appreciate a growing value.

    FACEBOOK

    Facebook plays a key role at disseminating information to the population at large. While some Israelis share news articles in their feeds, many use content sourced by a number of very popular Facebook pages. These are public pages that typically surface funny memes, or buzzfeed-style attention-grabbing images, highly shareable content perfect for Facebook feed-style interactions.

    StandWithUs (413k likes), an international non-profit organization dedicated to “informing the public about Israel and combating extremism and anti-Semitism” had no mention of the U.N. incident. The same goes for Kikar Hashabat (117k likes) and Tweeting Statuses (605k likes), a heavily followed humor and media curation page.

    Instead, the following map of the Gaza Strip as a minesweeper grid was posted, with the following comment: “currently spreading on WhatsApp”.

    Gaza Strip Minefield… #Meme #Funny #Lol http://t.co/abmgjztcuT pic.twitter.com/V7xu5UDrBz

    — Funny Pics (@weknowmeme) August 1, 2014

    The group’s moderator clearly received the image from a WhatsApp group, and posted to this public FB page, which received over 11k likes, hundreds of shares and so far, 133 comments, ranging from critiques to justifications; a highly polarized stream of comments.

    Once again, the Israeli sources had not even a single mention of the U.N. incident. It wasn’t covered by Israeli media, nor was it surfaced through popular Facebook pages.

    TWITTER

    The graph below represents Twitter accounts responding to a different incident at the UNWRA school in Beit Hanoun between July 25th and 30th. It is still unclear who is to blame for firing at the school, although someone clearly learned their Google SEO tricks (click here to see who comes up first on Google search).

    Nodes are Twitter handles, and their connections represents who follow relationships. The larger a node, the higher its centrality, the more followed that account is within this group. The closer together two nodes, the more connections they share. Different colors represent communities, effectively regions that display significant levels of connectivity; nodes of the same color are much more inter-connected compared to the rest of the graph.

    gazainfographic
    This network graph details the landscape of Twitter handles responding to the UNWRA school bombing.

    Network graphs are mathematical tools used to model relations between objects, and are incredibly helpful when working with social data. Analyzing their structure helps us gain insight into our culture and society. In this case, we see a clear separation between the two sides. On the right, a clearly “pro-Palestinian” group of activists (in green) as well as a variety of media outlets and journalists (in gray). The gray cluster of bloggers, journalists and international media entities is closely connected with the group of pro-Palestinian activists, which means that information is much more likely to spread amongst the two. This structural characteristic of the graph reinforces general Israeli sentiment regarding international media bias.

    gazainfographic
    The “pro-Palestinian” side.

    Two of the most popularly forwarded posts from within this side of the graph are:

    I’ve just been to the UNWRA school that was shelled last night 13 dead. 4 shells bracketed school. Targeted or not, area is civilian.

    — Paul Mason (@paulmasonnews) July 30, 2014

    Our correspondent @paulmasonnews holds up shrapnel collected at UNWRA school in Gaza http://t.co/hQ8jNFwV1h #c4news pic.twitter.com/uS726ISRU8

    — Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) July 30, 2014

    Alternatively, on the other side we encounter the “pro-Israeli” groups, including media outlets, Israeli public personas, and various American zionists (light blue), as well as American conservatives and Tea Party members (dark blue).

    gazainfographic
    The “pro-Israeli” side.

    Popularly shared posts within this group include:

    How many times can UNWRA claim to be “shocked” by rockets in their schools before people stop buying it? Third time: http://t.co/qwhB9HiBDl

    — Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) July 29, 2014

    What is UNWRA ? $1 billion annual budget to teach this to the Gaza kids: #hate #war #Nakba Day http://t.co/7FEY9TgMYL pic.twitter.com/OYTdME4FHm

    — TB. (@tom_bench) July 30, 2014

    * * *

    There’s a clear difference in frame when we compare one side of the graph to the other. None of the information shared is false per se, yet users make deliberate choices about what they choose to amplify. This is a representation of their values, and the values of their connections. Messages passed along in one side of the graph will never reach the other.

    Certain nodes are more strategic when trying to bridge between the two sides. In this case, Haaretz accommodates the most connections on both the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli sides of the graph, having the highest betweenness centrality. Compared to all other nodes in the graph, Haaretz is most likely to spread throughout the wider network. It has the most potential for bridging across biases and political barriers.

    INSTAGRAM

    On Instagram we see similar dynamics play out. The language used to describe pro-Israeli content includes tags such as: #IsraelUnderFire #IStandWithIsrael #PrayForIsrael and #Peace. On the other side of the conflict, we see: #FreeGaza, #PrayForGaza, #Genocide and #BoycottIsrael.

    gazainfographic
    The following tag cloud represents co-occurence of hashtags on Instagram posts. The larger a tag, the more times it appeared. The tighter-connected two tags are, the more times they appeared together.

    Content and conversations on Instagram are split into several camps, where once again, we’re effectively all talking to people like us.

    Call it Homophily, call it the Filter bubble, it is a prevalent phenomenon everywhere we turn.

    Capitalism vs. democracy

    Personalized online spaces are architected to keep us coming back for more. Content that is likely to generate more clicks, or traffic is prioritized in our feeds, while what makes us uncomfortable, fades into the ether.

    We construct our social spaces – we may choose to follow a user, like a page or subscribe to updates from a given topic.

    gazafacebook
    Choosing to ‘like’ the Israeli politician Miri Regev produces a list of similar politicians.

    When we like a Facebook page we are recommended other similar pages (see: collaborative filtering) based on past actions taken by other users on the site. For example, when I chose to follow Miri Regev (left above image), a conservative Right-wing Israeli politician, the system recommends other Right-wing Israeli politicians, many of which share her political agenda.

    The underlying algorithmics powering this recommendation engine help reinforce our values and bake more of the same voices into our information streams.

    AN EXPERIMENT:

    Facebook’s trending pages aggregate content that are heavily shared (“trending”) across the platform. If you’re already logged into Facebook, you’ll see a personalized view of the trend, highlighting your friends and their views on the trend. Give it a try.

    Now open a separate browser window in incognito mode (Chrome: File->New Incognito Window) and navigate to the same page. Since the browser has no idea who you are on Facebook, you’ll get the raw, unpersonalized feed.

    How are the two different?

    PERSONALIZING PROPAGANDA

    If you’re rooting for Israel, you might have seen videos of rocket launches by Hamas adjacent to Shifa Hospital. Alternatively, if you’re pro-Palestinian, you might have seen the following report on an alleged IDF sniper who admitted (on Instagram) to murdering 13 Gazan children. Israelis and their proponents are likely to see IDF videos such as this one detailing arms and tunnels found within mosques passed around in their social media feeds, while Palestinian groups are likely to pass around images displaying the sheer destruction caused by IDF forces to Gazan mosques. One side sees videos of rockets intercepted in the Tel-Aviv skies, and other sees the lethal aftermath of a missile attack on a Gazan neighborhood.

    The better we get at modeling user preferences, the more accurately we construct recommendation engines that fully capture user attention. In a way, we are building personalized propaganda engines that feed users content which makes them feel good and throws away the uncomfortable bits.

    We used to be able to hold media accountable for misinforming the public. Now we only have ourselves to blame.

    In Search of Sanity

    I was surprised to find a relatively sane discussion happening in one social network – Secret.ly, an app that lets you share anonymous messages with your friends. The service published a page with a list of posts about the conflict. I found one of particular interest, not only for the topic, but the actual discussion that unfolded. The combination of anonymity and some proxy for social ties seemed to calm down the typically polarized and extreme tone of conversations.

    gazasocialmedia

    In closing,

    We need to be more thoughtful about adding and maintaining bridges across information silos online. In the Twitter example above, Ha’aretz is clearly positioned well in the network to make important impact on both sides, yet due to that, Ha’aretz also struggles to find its core audience, hence secure enough budget to operate and grow. If you made it this far down the article, you clearly care about the topic. There are two ways you can help:

    • Help make Ha’aretz financially stable by paying for an online subscription (less than10 per month).
    • Donate to 972mag.com (and its Hebrew counterpart – Mekomit.co.il), both provide fresh, original, on-the-ground reporting on events in Israel and Palestine, with a strong commitment to human rights and freedom of information.

    Thoughts? Comments? Find me here – @gilgul

  • Tablet-Based Games May Relax Anxious Kids Before Surgery (STUDY)

    BY JANICE NEUMANN
    NEW YORK Wed Aug 6, 2014 3:33pm EDT

    (Reuters Health) – Playing with an iPad mini before going under anesthesia could relax some kids more than a sedative would, also making life easier for their parents and hospital staff, according to a recent study.

    “Anxiety is a major source of concern for children going to the hospital for anything, but especially for surgery and it’s also a major source of dissatisfaction for their parents,” said lead author Dr. Samuel C. Seiden. “That whole process of leaving parents or having someone put a mask over your face can be a very traumatic experience.

    “That’s why we spent a lot of time thinking about how we could make this less anxiety-provoking for children,” said Seiden, a professor of pediatric anesthesiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

    Many hospitals have reported using music, videos and games to distract kids from their fears in recent years, sometimes as an alternative to sedation, Seiden told Reuters Health.

    He and his team wanted to test the iPad mini as a distraction method because it is interactive and easy to use.

    For the study, which is published in the journal Pediatric Anesthesia, 108 kids ages 1 to 11 years old were randomly assigned to receive either oral midazolam syrup – a sedative similar to valium or xanax – or an Apple iPad mini before going under anesthesia for surgery.

    Kids who received the iPad chose an age-appropriate game and started playing with it when it was time to leave their parents to go for preoperative anesthesia, and could play right up until the time they received the anesthesia.

    The other group received the sedative at least 15 minutes before anesthesia.

    Researchers found that kids ages 1-11 who played with the tablet showed a 9-point decrease in anxiety (on a scale of 100) when they separated from their parents compared to kids who received the sedation.

    Kids ages 2-11 who played with the tablet when anesthesia was first being administered showed a 14-point decrease in anxiety compared to the kids who got a sedative.

    Recovery room stay was also shorter by almost half in the tablet group (87 minutes in the tablet group versus 111 minutes in the midazolam group). The study also found that 81 percent of parents in the tablet group were very satisfied with the separation compared to 59 percent in the sedative group.

    “It used to be very common to give kids under 8 a sedating medication but now our default practice is, if the kid is over 4, we expect we can distract with a tablet,” Seiden said. (A video demonstrating how the tablet would be used with a child before anesthesia can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/1oDCaqR).

    Side effects of midazolam syrup can include shallow breathing, airway obstruction and nausea, although Seiden said the drug has a low rate of allergic reactions. But, he added, the drug does not always work and can sometimes cause agitation.

    Alisa McQueen, assistant professor of pediatrics and director of the pediatric emergency medicine fellowship program at The University of Chicago, told Reuters Health that iPads are a popular distraction method used throughout Comer Children’s Hospital, where she works.

    She recalled an infant who was calmed by an app that played womb sounds during a lumbar puncture. McQueen is researching the use of iPads as a distraction method for kids in the ER.

    “The iPad is unique in how interactive it can be, and how we can adapt it to different children’s age/developmental level/personal preference,” McQueen wrote in an email. But, McQueen cautioned, the distraction isn’t a cure-all.

    “The iPad is incredibly effective, but it isn’t magic and doesn’t work for all kids,” she said. “So it’s quite unusual to have a kid truly terrified – screaming and uncooperative – who is instantly calmed by the distraction.”

    McQueen noted that a table included in the study report with suggested apps and programs by age would be an important resource for doctors interested in using tablets for distraction.

    “A small study like this one isn’t the end-all be-all, of course, but it certainly contributes to a growing literature that tablet-based distraction is a worthy alternative – and ultimately may even be superior – to midazolam,” McQueen said.

    SOURCE: http://bit.ly/V1Pcmf Pediatric Anesthesia, online July 17, 2014.

    Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

  • I Hope I Am Reincarnated as a Smart Phone
    In my next life, I want to come back as a smart phone.

    I may be a 40-ish, over worked, under-appreciated, slightly burnt out spouse and mother of teen boys, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember the good stuff. It wasn’t that long ago that each day ended with story time and kisses goodnight, and mornings included blaring alarms, screaming babies, fighting teenagers, or the wandering hands of my passionate husband.

    It seems like only yesterday, I was being inundated with millions of questions about everything and anything from my bright-eyed, curious toddlers… Mom, how does the car go? Mom, how do the baby chicks breathe in the eggs? Mom, can we watch a movie? Mom, can you read to me?

    I recall the days when my girlfriends would call me up to make plans for a “girls night” or simply stop in for coffee, so we could catch up on the latest gossip and life… I remember scheduling play dates and sleepovers, and the seemingly endless flow of kiddos swarming around the open fridge hunting for snacks before they headed back out to play.

    Back “then”, there were board games and card games at the dinner table, and talking with our mouths full. Hearing dad come home from work meant playing outside, science projects in the kitchen, friends by the fire pit and cuddling in front of the TV.

    But all that changed when we started our relationships with our devices.

    Today, we live “Life by smartphone” and it’s literally sucking the connection out of all of us.

    These days, instead of falling asleep to pillow talk and being awakened by wandering hands, it’s dozing off to the gentle glow of the ipad screen and being awakened by the bling, bling” of a text message followed by the clicking and tapping of fingers typing out a reply.

    My teens no longer need to seek my counsel for their endless questions, because everything they could ever need to know is more easily answered by eHow or Google, than waiting for mom’s long, thought out anecdotal replies.

    My Girlfriends don’t do “girls night out” or pop in anymore… those dates have been replaced with the much more convenient Google hang out… where no one has to worry about dividing up the check or getting dressed and everyone can multi-task as necessary.

    My kids don’t bring buddies home at lunchtime or plan sleepovers, because they never need to leave the house in the first place. If they do, it’s way easier to text an invite than come all the way home to ask.

    We don’t play games at the dinner table anymore… the kids might lose their points on the latest video game or we might miss a comment or “like” on a thread. It’s way more fun to post pictures of dinner than talk over it. Besides, who would hear you when everyone is wearing earbuds?

    There is no more “leaving work at the door”. If we aren’t on the phone when we walk through the door, there is always an email to answer, a text to reply too, a fire to put out or a quote that needs to get done by tomorrow’s meeting. Work is now 24/7… and the reasons are simple: “My paycheck pays for your cell phone and internet!” and we all know where the priorities now lie.

    Our phones have become our lovers, our mentors, our office assistants and our best friends. They have replaced all that once kept families connected, devoted and happy… they have become the envy of every parent who longs to be fondled by their spouse like a touch screen, focused on like Facebook or admired like Google.

    We pine for the chance to see a sparkle in our child’s eyes that isn’t the glare of blue light…to be a greater source of laughter than YouTube or to literally experience that hot new restaurant down the street with our friends, instead of just giving a virtual thumbs up to a “pin” or check in.

    Yes, I remember a time when I was younger and happier and, dare I say it, more “connected” to my family. A time before smartphones and social networks. A time when connecting meant being connected. But I fear that those days are long passed and will only continue to become increasingly technology focused.

    Today, as I see it, I have only two choices since I will never be able to get back to the good ole days; I can either move “off the grid” and up to the mountains where there is no wi-fi, electric or cell reception, or I can accept the modern world in which I live and what my life has become as a result and just put on my Big Momma panties and deal with it.

    …Or I suppose I could get really lucky and in my next life, be reincarnated as a smart phone.

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