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Mobile Technology News, September 27, 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.

  • Consumer Reports: iPhone 6 'bending' controversy overblown
    Adding to new suspicions that some of the “iPhone 6 Plus easily bends” videos appearing on the web may have been staged, Consumer Reports has now weighed in with the results of its own independent testing that largely refutes the claims that the phones can bend easily. After testing both models of new iPhone, as well as some other smartphones and phablets, the lab found that while the new iPhones were indeed less resilient than the iPhone 5 or Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3, the HTC One (M8) is actually the most prone to deformation.

  • Analysts raising price targets for AAPL on sales strength, China debut
    After falling four percent on Thursday, Apple’s stock closed out the week by bouncing back and regaining more than half the drop as Wall Street reacted positively to the company’s refutation of the “bending” controversy. Some new questions are being raised about the original video that started the kerfuffle, as careful observation reveals that the video was edited (and the reported noted in the video that his iPhone 6 was already slightly bent before demonstrating the flaw). Investment firms Stifel Nicolaus and BMO Capital Markets have both raised their target prices for AAPL.

  • Accused Cop-Killer Eric Frein Researched How To Elude Police Manhunts
    Eric Frein, the military enthusiast wanted for killing a Pennsylvania state trooper and seriously wounding another, conducted extensive Internet searches on how to survive in the wild and elude police manhunts, state police Lt. Col. George Bivens said Friday.

    “We are convinced that Eric Frein has been planning this attack at least for a couple of years,” Bivens said at a news conference. “This information is supported by a search of a computer hard drive.”

    Frein’s research also included various law enforcement technologies, Bivens said. The Internet searches were conducted on “a computer that did not belong to him, but it was one he had access to,” Bivens told reporters.

    “It did give us a lot of insight into some techniques he might be employing [and] it gave us some insight about what his escape might involve,” said Bivens.

    Bivens declined to discuss who owned the computer or how Frein was linked to it.

    “He did have his own computer and my understanding is he removed the hard drive prior to this crime,” Bivens said.

    Frein, a military enthusiast with extensive training as a marksman, has been the subject of a massive manhunt for the Sept. 12 shooting of Pennsylvania state troopers Alex Douglass and Bryon Dickson. The troopers were ambushed during a shift change outside the Blooming Grove barracks in northeastern Pennsylvania. Dickson was killed.

    Frein, 31, faces charges of homicide of a law enforcement officer and attempted murder, police said. He also is wanted on federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

    The manhunt has involved more than 1,000 members of law enforcement, Bivens said. It has centered in the area around Canadensis, a town of less than 3,000 residents, where Frein lived. Police are combing through dense forest, which may be giving the fugitive cover.

    “There is nothing in our investigation that indicates Frein has left the area,” Bivens said. “I suspect he wants to have a fight with the state police, but I think that involves hiding and running, since that seems to be the way he operates.”

    Bivens said authorities believe Frein has a radio with him, which he may be using to listen to broadcasts about the manhunt. The lieutenant colonel also said records indicate Frein purchased items prior to the shooting that are typically used in the construction of bunkers.

    “We are aware of some purchases he made and those have been thoroughly investigated,” Bivens said.

    Bivens added, “We have not located that bunker.”

    On Wednesday, authorities said Frein has been spotted in the woods several times since the shooting and has left a trail of empty cigarette packs and dirty diapers. The discoveries have earned Frein the moniker, “Diaper Sniper’ and the creation of hashtag #DiaperSniper on Twitter.

    On Friday, Bivens said it has been more than 48 hours since Frein was last spotted by law enforcement.

    While acknowledging the search for Frein has been challenging, Bivens said authorities will not back down.

    “You are a coward,” Bivens said in a direct appeal to Frein. “We are not intimidated. We will not leave … We have a clear mission with specific objectives … We will find you and we will bring you to justice.”

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  • Weekend Roundup: ISIS Has Unified the World; Climate Change Has Divided It
    This week, the U.N. Security Council stood united in a unanimous resolution to fight what President Obama called the ISIS “network of death.” Yet, despite pleas for the world to act together on global warming, the leaders of India and China failed to even show up at the U.N. Climate Summit. India’s environment minister actually announced that his country would not cut carbon emissions and that the burden should fall on the developed countries.

    As the U.S. struck ISIS targets in both Syria and Iraq, Pope Francis visited Albania, a Muslim-majority country that is one of the poorest in Europe. Writing from Tirana, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama reports on the pope’s visit and his inspiring message of peace, hope and tolerance.

    Writing from Canberra, the former head of the International Crisis Group, Gareth Evans, points out the limits of America’s anti-ISIS strategy. Former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke argues that ISIS is drawing the U.S. and its coalition further into conflagration in order to further its own aims in the region.

    Reporting from a remote village in central Turkey, WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones tells the harrowing story of two hostages who were released by ISIS last week. “It was a fine line between life and death,” one tells her.

    In this week’s “Forgotten Fact” series, the WorldPost turns to Boko Haram in Nigeria, revealing how the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls doesn’t tell the whole story of what’s going on in that country.

    As world leaders focused on climate change at the U.N. summit this week, the WorldPost gathered an array of voices to address the subject. Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan calls for global unity to act now. California Governor Jerry Brown writes about how the climate challenge can be met “from the bottom up” at the sub-national level. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon describes how his city is becoming eco-friendly. Writing from New Delhi, environmental scientist V. Rajamani says India is experiencing a climate “fever” caused by human economic activity.

    WorldPost Beijing correspondent Matt Sheehan heads to the coal-fired heartland of China to report on daily life at ground zero of climate change. He also writes about Chinese funemployed college grads “gnawing the old.”

    In an interview with the WorldPost, one of Europe’s leading statesmen, Swedish Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, ponders Putin’s motives and next moves in the Ukraine conflict. Writing from Moscow, Dmitry Gorenburg writes that many Russians, including Vladimir Putin, believe that the U.S. is out to overturn governments it doesn’t like by instigating “color revolutions” from within.

    Futurist Peter Schwartz warns that “challenger” states such as China, Brazil and Germany could end the Internet as we know it and break it down into national nets where information is controlled. Writing from Jerusalem, Yuval Noah Harari, author of the new blockbuster book, “Sapiens,” fears that, with new scientific advances in genetics, social inequality could translate into “biological inequality.” Philip Mirowski worries that robots are increasingly being designed to supplant human decisions. Chandran Nair looks at the impact of robots in overpopulated Asia.

    Finally, Zeng Jinyan — the wife of China’s famous environmental dissident activist Hu Jia — writes about what it is like to live under constant surveillance and harassment by China’s security police.


    EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Nicholas Sabloff is the Executive International Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s 10 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s World Editor.

    CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

    EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

    CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editor-At-Large.

    The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

    Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

    ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

    From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


    The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

    We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

  • KFC Is Giving Away Ridiculous Fried Chicken iPhone Cases
    Cluck, cluck. Who’s there?

    Something totally bonkers. KFC is giving away a number of fried chicken themed iPhone cases to customers in Japan to commemorate the birth of the company’s late founder, Colonel Sanders. And whatever you just imagined in your mind, the actual product is even more bizarre: an advertisement shows an iPhone encased in a very large, presumably plastic drumstick, gripped by a young woman happily chatting away while a plump Colonel Sanders keels over in laughter on the ground.

    We’re laughing, too, Colonel.

    kfc drumstick

    In addition to the giant leg of iPhone, KFC Japan unveiled similarly chicken-themed goodies like a drumstick-shaped USB drive, a drumstick computer mouse, drumstick dangle earrings, a massive plush drumstick hat (for the sartorialists), and a keyboard with chicken shapes for letters (excepting the letters K, F, and C, of course):

    kfc chicken keyboard

    Unfortunately for anyone with lofty ambitions about talking into a Flintstones-esque chicken leg, KFC’s “Colonel Day” contest closed on September 24.

  • Apple no longer signing iOS 7.1.2, preventing downgrades
    Apple has officially stopping signing iOS 7.1.2, reports say. The move means that people who already have iOS 8 installed won’t be able to downgrade. The v7.1.2 firmware can still be downloaded by iPhone 4 owners, however, since their devices are incompatible with iOS 8.

  • Forums: iOS 8.0.2 update fixes some reported issues
    Today in the MacNN forums, members are discussing the second update to iOS 8. Some report no problems as of yet, others are stating there are some things missing such as recent pics. One Junior Member was trying to figure out why it was that every time they used “Find My iPhone” on the iPhone 6, it erased all their music.

  • Bendgate: 5 Things Apple Will Do Next
    There are at least two ways to revitalize a broken brand image: redesign the product or redesign people’s expectations around the experience of consuming the brand. Guess which path Apple will choose!

    Botox “gives you a frozen face”, Olestra “causes diarrhea”, Coke “causes cancer”, Starbucks “is a capitalist monster.” Many brands suffer from so-called doppelgänger brand images – negative images and meanings about a brand that circulate in popular culture and that compete with the brand owner’s intended image.

    Now it’s Apple’s turn with Bendgate – the newly discovered flaw that the iPhone 6 can bend. Apple may offer a new phone to affected consumers or change the phone’s design in the next round. For now, based on historical experience (e.g., Antennagate), it will use emotional branding tactics to redesign culture, consumer expectations – in short – the entire iPhone 6 experience. To pursue this goal, Apple (and Apple fans) will argue that…

    1. All phones bend! (Generalization)

    One popular brand image revitalization tactic is to move the problem away from the specific product to the entire category. Saying that bending is a key feature of all phones – be they LG, Blackberry, Samsung or Apple – and thus shifting the frame from the specific to the general will de-emphasize the problem for Apple and make bending phones like empty printer cartridges or expired yogurt – a fact of life.

    2. Don’t you know anything about physics? (Authorization)

    A second brand image revitalization tactic often encountered during doppelganger brand image crisis is authorization – bringing in the power of science and experts in to “normalize” a particular behavior of an object such as an antenna or a piece of aluminum. Through this move, critics will come across as Luddites who have slept through their physics lecture whereas iPhone users have done their science homework.


    3. Have a look at our people! (Humanization)

    A related tactic to downplay a doppelganger brand image is humanization – here presenting Apple’s iPhone development team. Showing how the people develop the product humanizes the production process – it shows personal dedication and care and, thus, reframes Bendgate as an unfair caricature of passionate and hardworking people who sacrifice time with their families for the greater good.

    4. Handle it like a pro! (Capabilization)

    Fourth, a bending phone is never the result of faulty R&D. Rather, it just happens as a result of improper handling. Here Apple will shift responsibility from the material level or development process to the individual consumer. Apple may take the stage very soon or post videos that demonstrate how phones ought to be handled or held properly – and how not to. Consequently, whoever has a bent phone is rendered incompetent or hasn’t simply followed the rules.

    5. Tight pants aren’t cool! (Ridiculing)

    Lucky for Apple, Bendgate has already been associated with tight pants. So, on the same note of shifting societal expectations rather than changing the product itself, Apple may likely de-emphasize Bendgate by associating it with consumer vanity or lack of sense of fashion. Tight pants say more about bad consumer taste than about the quality of the iPhone.

    6. Bonus tactic: Almost nobody complained! (Minimization)

    Lastly, Apple may take the wind out of Bendgate’s sails by claiming that only a very small number of consumers have actually complained about their iPhone being bent, thereby reducing the brand image crisis to a creation of unfair competitors or sensationalist bloggers.

    Well, they actually just did.

  • Kabbage or Traditional Banks: Which Is Best for Your Small Business Loan?
    With the advent of online business lending services like Kabbage, it’s easier for small businesses to get the funding they need to get off the ground. But is it always the best option to go with an online lender like Kabbage? Sure, it is easier to get qualified for Kabbage and it often has lower rates, but it can also have shortcomings when it comes to certain small business needs. Here’s a good breakdown of when you should consider Kabbage for a loan and when you should stick with a traditional bank:

    Kabbage: If you’ve been turned down for a loan at a traditional bank.

    Traditional bank loans are more difficult to qualify for than Kabbage, so if you’ve been turned down by the bank, try to get approved by Kabbage. As opposed to a loan, Kabbage gives its users a line of credit that they can borrow against. If your financials aren’t strong, they’ll give you a lower line of credit, and as you borrow and pay back loans on time, your line of credit will increase. It works well for sites that don’t need a huge loan upfront.

    Banks: If you need more than $100,000 in loans.

    Kabbage only loans up to $100,000 at a time, and it can take some time to actually get approved for that much credit with Kabbage. If you have a large amount of upfront costs and need more than $100,000 to get your business up and running, you will need to stick to the traditional bank route when searching for your loan.

    Kabbage: If you just need short-term micro-loans.

    Kabbage gives each user a line of credit from $500 to $100,000 based on their credit-worthiness. You can then use that to borrow any sum of money up to your line of credit, with the catch that you must pay it back within 6 months. So if you have a $5,000 line of credit, you can borrow up to $5,000 from Kabbage. If you only need $1,000 here and $6,000 there for expenses, it makes sense to use Kabbage.

    Banks: If you need more than 6 months to pay off your loan.

    However, if you want to take out larger sums and need more than 6 months to pay them back, it might be smarter to try for a traditional bank loan. Kabbage only allows you to loan money for up to 6 months, so if you borrow $50,000, you have to pay that entire sum back (plus interest) within the 6 month timeframe. This is why Kabbage works better for micro-loans.

    Kabbage: If you want to pay less interest.

    The good news is, since Kabbage loans have a shorter payback period, they generally don’t charge as much interest as traditional banks. In fact, they only charge a varied 1-13.5 percent in the first two months, and then it is a flat 1 percent rate for the next 4 months, which is significantly lower interest than traditional banks charge. If you only need a small loan and can pay it back within the 6-month time period, you can save on interest by going with Kabbage.

    Banks: If you want to work within your established bank.

    If you already have a business account with a certain bank, there can be benefits to sticking with your bank, especially the ease of getting the loan money and paying it back. While Kabbage offers easy money transfer and payback, it is all done through PayPal, which can be a turnoff for many borrowers.

    Kabbage: If you need to get approved fast.

    Traditional bank loans can take a while to get approved, and the paperwork involved is usually extensive. With Kabbage, all you have to do is link any of your financial institutions to Kabbage (including eBay, PayPal, Etsy, Amazon or even your traditional bank), and you can be approved for a line of credit in seconds. Kabbage determines the amount of your line of credit based on your financial information, so the more financial sites you link, the better.

    Want to know more about Kabbage? Here is a good breakdown of the service.

  • Autonomy: The Self-Driving Car and You
    Audi announced last week that it has become the first automaker to receive approval to test its self-driving cars on California’s public roads. Autonomy (both technical and political) is about to shift into high gear.

    We could be forgiven for thinking this is a vaguely interesting gewgaw in a world benumbed by technological gadgetry. The iPhone Six is out, for crying out loud… But like those who scoffed at Karl Benz’s strange “Motorwagen” in 1900, we’d be overlooking a revolution.

    The thing about self-driving cars is that it’s not about the car, it’s about movement, and the implications of autonomous movement are huge. Give it a few years, but with a bit educated imagination we can see:

    – Zero ownership: with “selfie” cars, there is really very little reason for owning a vehicle. If in a matter of mere moments you could “order up” a car of your choice from a fleet of free-roaming, auto-piloted cars, then why in the world would you need one parked in the driveway? Vehicles would be owned and operated by a handful of efficient companies that know just the right number of vehicles to have operating at any one time to serve the maximum clientele. The vehicles would be immaculately cleaned, well maintained, and safe. Doubtful? Today’s rental car companies do this already…

    – Accurate “sizing”: if owners are no longer tethered to their vehicle, the free market will quickly discern the right mix of vehicle types. The vast majority of daily commuting is by one person with practically no cargo. Commuters, then, are likely to order a small, compact, cheap car for that morning’s trip instead of, say, a truck (how many empty pickups do we see charging around town today?). If they need to hit Home Depot on their way home, they order the truck instead of the Vespa… The idle capacity stored in our vehicles that we obligingly pay for, maintain, park, and pay insurance on will largely disappear.

    – A real-estate revolution: if vehicles are constantly on the move, being perpetually routed to where they are needed, parking lots become largely obsolete. Some of the world’s most valuable real estate is locked away under asphalt, particularly in urban centers. This use of space is expensive and wasteful ($538/month in midtown Manhattan, $161/month national average). As parking lots disappear, they will be repurposed toward higher and better uses (how about “parks”?). Architecturally, eliminating the need to store parked vehicles will be an aesthetic boon. Gone will be the monolithic parking garage; gone too, will be the ugly double-door façade of the modern suburban home.

    – Freed resources. There are an estimated 253 million operable cars and trucks in the U.S. today. Conservatively estimating a $12,000 value per vehicle, the nation is sitting on about 3 trillion dollars (nearly the annual government budget) in mechanical capacity that often sits unused. Autonomous vehicles, while certainly not free, will almost certainly be used more efficiently, channeling that capital into more worthwhile pursuits (Toaster Strudels and Gaming Consoles probably…). The other side of the coin is the freed human capital. We spend around 540 hours a year in our cars, 38 in traffic alone. If you’re like a frightening majority of us, you spend tiny slivers of that time texting, tweeting, grooming, and brokering peace with kids in the back. But mostly, the driver is engaged in trying to outmaneuver his or her traffic foes; stopping at lights, obeying the speed limit, maintaining vehicle separation, and generally avoiding one of our leading causes of death. Autonomy frees those hours for (conceivably) better use, hours almost certainly better spent than driving badly…

    Those are just the obvious, logistical impacts of autonomous locomotion. The other glaring benefit (and don’t tell the bureaucrats) is that it helps make portions of the state obsolete. With little or no vehicle ownership, the requirement for drivers’ licenses, vehicle registration, titling, and insurance largely goes by the board. California legislators are giddy about their stylish new regulatory permits for driverless cars; they’ve also unwittingly sounded the death knell for the DMV. Few tears will be shed…

    Of course, there’s always a good chance for regulatory buffoonery. It seems quaint now, but the English Parliament passed a series of Locomotive Acts, culminating in its 1865 decree that all self-propelled automobiles be restricted to 4 miles per hour in the country and 2 miles per hour in city limits. Known as the “Red Flag Act”, it required all vehicles be manned by a crew of three, as well as a pedestrian to walk ahead of a laden vehicle with a red flag to warn the world of their non-traditional existence.

    The rules made a certain amount of sense (particularly to those in the horse-drawn carriage industry), but for 37 years they thwarted the United Kingdom’s embrace of the automobile. There will almost certainly be an equivalent of the Red Flag Act (is there any more appropriate name?), and administrators with ties to those heavily invested in the status quo will make political hay by convincing us that the rules “just make sense.” Fair warning.

    In the end, though, the force of the autonomous individual is a universal solvent, and the self-driving car will be a cheerful addition to our modern age. Buckle up, it’s going to be an exciting ride…

  • 5 Reasons Why I'm Mellow on Ello (For Now)

    I don’t usually post about consumer technology trends, but this week I’ve been amused and concerned by all the rumblings, especially from my Bay Area friends, about a new service called Ello. Because social media and networking platforms are so critical to the engagement efforts of — well — every NGO or nonprofit I know, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on why I’m mellow on Ello for now.

    Ello is a for-profit social network built in collaboration by a small team of designers, developers and product folks mostly in Colorado, Vermont and New York. With the promise of being “simple, beautiful, and ad free,” the as-of-now invite-only service seems to have caught a wave of perfect dissatisfaction with Facebook. As a result, my feeds have been lit up this week with requests for invites from those who don’t yet have access to the site.

    Here are five reasons why I don’t think Ello is for me — and why, in fact, the new service might be a bad idea for anyone who cares about the influence of social networking platforms on community and on culture:


    Not being able to trust Facebook has been the number one issue that those in my social circle have complained about. Indeed, this unease is so often projected onto Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that I bet most Facebook users feel they know the guy.

    I don’t see how Ello — a for-profit — serves in this regard. If trust was your key complaint about Facebook, then a community-run, distributed, decentralized service like Diaspora would be a much better option. But to date I haven’t see much chatter or interest about the four-year old nonprofit service.


    In my case “simple, beautiful and ad-free” aren’t really the core features that I am looking for. With social networks so critical these days I’m more interested in “ubiquitous, solid, and community-owned.”


    I know the Bay Area is a place where load of folks think nothing of plopping down $2,500 for a bike (which, ironically, is exactly what Ello’s CEO Paul Budnitz is best known for selling), but a social network where you have to pay for the service will inevitably just become a gated community. Is that where you want to spend your time? One of the reasons FB has gone global is because everyone can afford it, including those in the developing world.


    Want a web app or mobile app version Ello? Too bad, and Ello doesn’t think that’s a big deal: “A standalone iPhone and Android app is coming later this year. Until then, just bookmark Ello on your device. Ello works great.”

    I get that Ello claims to still be in beta mode, but launching a social network in 2014 without mobile tools means these guys are nowhere close to ready for primetime. What are they planning to do for scalability, security, multilingual, etc.?


    Ello says they designed a web service they’d want to use. Fair enough! But rather than beautiful I just see retro twee. In fact the whole thing reminds me of fancy pickle makers trying to make their products evoke Delancy Street nostalgia. When 2014-era software designers feel they need to “harken back” to the glory days of typewriters it’s a good indication that innovation won’t be the main driver of the experience. Not saying it needs to be, of course, just saying that a web service built for web designers may not be for all of us.

    Does all this mean I love Facebook and G+?

    No way. I worry all the time about the corrosive nature of equity investment and shareholder expectations for these for-profit behemoths. But while those two services certainly don’t pass all (or most) of the above tests, both have crack product teams developing tools that really do work for most people, and both have made access a huge priority.

    I also recognize and acknowledge that my own ability to criticize may be limited. I’m no first mover, wiling to jump ship to a new service before everyone else gets there. I just don’t have time or interest. But I am a huge fan of the idea of all of us migrating to a social platform that is more community-oriented.

    So I’m mellow on Ello, at least for now. But I’ll be keeping an eye on my Facebook feed just in case, and I’m sure my network will let me know how it goes.

  • This Prank Will Disturb Everyone With A Cell Phone
    Most of us are terribly guilty of checking our cell phones constantly — but consider exactly how fast you check your phone when you hear that tonal alert!

    It’s pretty darn fast, as this video from the social provocateurs at YouTube channel Whatever proves. They pranked a host of unsuspecting people by having a man play the ‘notification’ sound on his phone as he walked by.

    Like clockwork, everyone whips out their devices immediately. We can’t decide if this prank is hilarious or a little bit sad — probably both, because it ‘dings’ so close to home.

  • Watch What Happens When 30 People Are Asked To Loan Their Phone To A Stranger
    If you needed to make a call but your phone was dead, would a stranger help you?

    The folks at BuzzFeed decided to answer this question by asking 30 random people on the streets of Los Angeles if they could borrow a phone.

    You might be surprised by the results, because almost every person — 28 out of 30! — helped. And many even offered a phone charger, bus fare and more.

    Time to pay it forward and be a better stranger to others!

  • Apple Joins Rush To Fix Shellshock Bug Infecting The Internet
    Apple said Friday that it was fixing a security flaw in some versions of its operating system for Mac computers, joining other tech companies that are rushing to patch the so-called Shellshock bug affecting more than two-thirds of machines connected to the Internet.

    In a statement to The Huffington Post, an Apple spokesperson said the “vast majority” of people using OS X are not at risk, but some people who use advanced versions may be affected by the bug and “we are working to quickly provide a software update.”

    Google said it has fixed its code to avoid the bug, while Amazon told customers of its cloud service how to avoid the bug, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    On Wednesday, security experts said they had found a security hole in widely used software called Bash, which stands for Bourne-Again Shell. Bash is used in more than 70 percent of web servers, routers, computers and other machines connected to the Web.

    The security flaw, nicknamed Shellshock, has drawn comparisons to the recent Heartbleed bug because they both involve errors buried inside computer code used by numerous websites and tech products. Hackers can exploit flaws in computer code to install malicious software and steal passwords and other sensitive information.

    Heartbleed, which was found in April, allowed hackers to steal passwords, credit card data and Social Security numbers from two-thirds of websites using the flawed OpenSSL software. Its discovery drove many tech companies to recommend that their users change their passwords, although only about 40 percent of users did so.

    Security experts said the Shellshock bug could be more serious because it potentially allows a hacker to steal more than passwords or other data from a web server. If hackers can exploit the Shellshock flaw to infect a web server, they can also infect an entire website with malware and take over the computers of those who visit that site, according to David Jacoby, a senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.

    It remains unclear what websites, if any, have been infected so far, though security researchers said they are seeing attempts by criminals to take advantage of the flaw.

    So what can you do to protect yourself? Not a whole lot.

    While Internet users could change their passwords to protect themselves from the Heartbleed bug, there is little they can do to avoid the Shellshock bug other than to wait until companies patch the flaw.

    Internet users can, however, make sure that they have antivirus software on their computers and that their computers have been updated with the latest security patches, Jacoby said. If an infected website is spreading malware, it will try to embed itself in visitors’ computers through a flaw in an unpatched program.

    Satnam Narang, a security response manager at Symantec, urged people not to panic.

    “If a website gets breached, then consumers should be worried,” he said. But that hasn’t happened yet, he said.

  • Conan Gets Involved In 'Bendgate' With Parody Commercial
    In case you haven’t heard, there’s a slight chance (very slight) your new iPhone 6 could bend in the pockets of your tight pants. And people are not happy about it.

    While Apple customers were busy complaining, however, the writers at “Conan” were imagining how Samsung might respond to the so-called bendgate scandal. On Thursday’s episode, host Conan O’Brien debuted a parody commercial showing off Samsung’s new “unbendy” phone design.

    Jam-packed with sexual innuendo, the spot proudly tells potential costumers that Samsung Galaxy phones are “rigid and stiff when you buy them.”

    Now that’s one “raging phoner” you don’t have to keep in your pants.

    H/t Reddit

  • Phoning
    Everyone has a phone, of course. Even though we weren’t rich, my family had a phone when I was young. The phone number, I remember, was 3773. Nice. Our phone was on what was called a party line. That meant that if some other family (our party line) was using their phone, we had to wait until they finished their conversation before we could use ours. Alternately, we could eavesdrop on their conversation, which of course you weren’t supposed to do. That wasn’t worth the time, since they never had anything interesting to talk about.

    Nowadays people rich and not rich have phones, preferably the carry around kind. The phone on the desk at home, no matter how sleek, has fallen from favor, may even gather dust. While the carry around phones have advantages, they lack interesting numbers once used such as Plaza5— or Watkins9—. My phone at home is listed in the directory as 744— instead of Rhinelander4— which it once was. That’s a considerably decline.

    So, yes, even if you have only rice and beans for supper, you feel the need for a carry around phone today. And you do carry it around. With it you have a screen to stare at as you walk down the sidewalk and cause someone coming toward you either to move aside or walk into you. With it you have something to use at breakfast in a restaurant to call your friend to talk about what movie she’d like to see and say I’ve already seen that and anyway I have a manicure appointment at 3 o’clock while (not to be underrated) simultaneously annoying the hell out of a guy nearby who had hoped for a quiet meal.

    A carry around phone also can take photos, obviating the need for that expensive Canon that you just bought last year. It can flash newspaper and magazine articles on its screen. It can remind you of dates with the dentist or the boy you hope to go to bed with.

    That phone can also employ new word usage. I’m thinking of the word “text.” Anyone who’s gone through school knows that a text is a textbook that you use in a history or geometry class. It’s a noun. But nowadays not just a noun. “I’ll text you the time for the meeting…” my friend types on the screen and sends it as a text message (texts it) to the screen on mine. This, I’ve only recently come to learn, is the preferred way to communicate–not by email or plain old telephoning. When asked why someone types a message rather than using his voice to send it, I’m told that it’s faster. That’s better just left.

    As I recall, we had the same phone in our house all the years I was growing up. You can bet that won’t happen with a carry around phone. A number 4 edition will quickly become passe and everyone you know will have traded it in for a number 5 edition and so on. This is called planned obsolescence, employed by the manufacturer for…well, for obvious reasons.

    I’m not a fashionista but every now and then I submit to wanting to keep up with the times, so just now I decided to trade in my number 4 edition for a number 5, especially because the change was free. I went to a store located near my apartment which stocks, conservative estimate, 25,000 small items, gadgets, that are used by people savvy about electronic appliances but maybe puzzling to everyone else.

    At that store I hoped for a simple exchange of one phone for the other, itself a rather simple notion. The manager is a well-built fellow of age maybe 30, but when he isn’t there, the store is manned by a couple of younger folks of age maybe 20, who provide customers with music from a tape they obviously know, since they sing along lyrics that, i’m embarrassed to say, I can’t understand.

    They brought out a number 5 edition phone which turned out to be faulty, something realized only after two days of them and me trying unsuccessfully to move material over from the one I was turning in. Ultimately, the manager pinpointed the issue, came forth with another number 5 edition and did the couple of hours work to set it up. I went by today to leave him a small gift.

    If all that was worth the trouble, I don’t know, as my new phone is new. I plugged it into a wall socket to make it work (to be repeated daily), and looked sympathetically at the phone on my desk, old and reliable, which I can use just by picking up the receiver…anytime.

    . . .
    Stanley Ely writes about communication issues in his new book, “Life Up Close,” in paperback and ebook.

  • The Funniest Someecards Of The Week
    Happy New Year! Happy first week of Fall! Happy new iPhones! What a happy week we had!

    Or ya know, if you’re not Jewish, you didn’t celebrate the new year. If you’re allergic to all things pumpkin spice, you were NOT excited about Fall. And if you got a new iPhone, it’s probably bent, so scratch that, too. If these all apply to you, sorry, your week must have sucked.

    But, wait! It’s not too late to turn your week around. Send someone a funny Someecard and you’ll feel great about yourself, therefore leading to happiness. Check out the funniest cards of the week below. Our work here is done.

  • Military's Tiny Implant Could Give People Self-Healing Powers
    If a tiny device could be implanted in your body to give you self-healing powers, would you want one?

    That question is on many minds now that the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced that just such a device is in the works: an electronic implant, injected via a needle, that would monitor the health of internal organs and help the body heal itself when illness or injury strikes.

    The implant — being developed as part of the agency’s ElectRx (pronounced “electrics”) program — would “fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness,” DARPA program manager Doug Weber said in a written statement.

    “Instead of relying only on medication — we envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker,” Weber continued. “It would continually assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns tailored to help maintain healthy organ function, helping patients get healthy and stay healthy using their body’s own systems.”

    There’s no word yet on when such a device might become available, but a spokesman for the agency said clinical trials might begin within five years.

    DARPA says the ElectRx implant would work via a process akin to neuromodulation. That’s the body’s built-in biological feedback system in which the peripheral nervous system — the nerves linking the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body — monitors and regulates the body’s response to injury and infection.

    DARPA says the implant could be effective against diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease to epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.

    (Click here for larger image)

    Neuromodulation devices aren’t new. Some are being used to help patients with conditions like Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain. But DARPA says that unlike the anticipated ElectRx device, existing ones are bulky and imprecise and require invasive surgery to implant.

    So far, public reaction to the ElectRx program has been mixed.

    Some netizens lauded the news. “As a person with rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years I would volunteer for this in a hot minute,” enthused Facebook user Melody Peters this week after reading about the implant, LiveScience reported.

    Other people expressed worries that the implant could be put to nefarious uses. As Facebook user Christine Golden asked, “Will it include an undisclosed ability to track those who receive one?”

    What do you think of this self-healing implant? Weigh in below.

  • Why You Shouldn't Trust Facebook Posts About 'Amazing' Relationships
    Sorry about this, but there’s a new study out that will probably make those who are already unsure about their relationships feel even worse.

    People in relationships post more about their significant other on Facebook on days when they feel “more insecure about their partner’s feelings” than normal, according to a study published recently in the academic journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

    A group of researchers led by Lydia Emery, a Ph.D. student at Northwestern University, surveyed 108 straight couples at a small university in Canada. The scientists asked each partner to keep their own daily diary for two weeks, writing down how they felt their relationship was going every day. Then they looked at how each participant publicly interacted with their sweetheart on Facebook, tallying up any wall posts, status updates and photo comments made between the couple. The research team saw an uptick in interactions when one partner felt down about his or her relationship.

    facebook relationships
    Things may or may not be going well between Rihanna and my colleague Maxwell.

    In recent years, there’s been a flurry of research examining how romance blossoms and wilts on Facebook, perhaps because people are worried that the social network is ruining romance. It’s true that Facebook has so much information on you that its data scientists can predict with scary accuracy whether or not your relationship is a fling or the real deal.

    So why do people post more about their partners when they feel like things are rocky? To validate themselves in front of their friends? To remind their partner that they exist?

    Whatever is the case, know this: If you’re going to post a lot about your relationship, you probably will irritate the hell out of all of your Facebook friends.

    [h/t Science of Us]

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