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Mobile Technology News, November 30, 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.

  • The New York Times, Kim Kardashian and the Information Apocalypse
    It all began on Saturday morning.

    The New York Times didn’t come.

    When I wake up each morning, there’s a print copy of the New York Times at my door. Before I dive into the swirling information vortex that is my day, I read the paper. But lately, I find myself asking ‘why?’ I’m not one of these hard-copy romantics. I don’t have any historic love for paper over screens, or the need to hold an object in my hand.

    But the other day, the paper didn’t come.

    And so, I was forced to change my info-rhythm. No big deal, I thought I’d just read the NY Times on my iPad. Now, perhaps it was an unfortunate day to go ‘cold turkey’ on single source, handheld, print, but I took the plunge.

    I opened my iPad before coffee, and found myself staring straight at Kim Kardashian’s naked rear-end. It was everywhere, my Facebook feed, my Twitter follows, even on LinkedIn. Now, maybe that’s your idea of breakfast reading, but it was for me a large distraction. My daily ritual of stepping to the world of ideas was turned upside down.

    It lead me to think about the difference between a single thread information delivery device, like the print edition of the NY Times (or any other print publication, or book for that matter) and the multi-threaded nature of a connected device.

    Perhaps with discipline, I could learn to open the NY Times app, and not Facebook. But then there are IM’s and emails that have come in from the night before, each hopping and flashing demanding attention. All of them urgent. All of them important to their sender, but each of them without context.

    The thing is, patterns matter. The way we shape our days, the rhythm of our lives, the way our brains are trained to gather, organize, and process information. And until the arrival of the information apocalypse – we were almost keeping up.

    But the shear volume of information has swamped our ability to engage it thoughtfully, and the pressure of advertisers to make the web a mass medium has driven information publishers into faster, broader, coarser information outbursts.

    I wonder how Tim Berners-Lee feels about Kim Kardashian’s naked attempt to ‘break the web’. Is the swarm of attention-grabbing info-bites the place he imagined when he thought about what the prefix ‘www’ could bring us?

    The good news is, our current state of raw information delivery won’t be the end of the road for our emerging digital lives. The next step, after information overload, is coherent information organization. An emerging layer above the raw web called Curation. Curation isn’t simply a filter or a category, is a holistic way of thinking about information organization.

    Curated information will meet our needs in new ways, based on a simple principal that in a world of information abundance, people don’t want more, they want less. Human scale information, organized and delivered to meet their needs.

    • Information isn’t all equal, and timing matters.
    • People or organizations that flood my feeds with irrelevant content will be relegated to the ‘black hole’ of isolation, take out of my field of vision.
    • Respecting people’s time and attention earns you points in the new information economy.
    • Junk information, tracking pixels, cookies, and ads that h

    aunt me risk turning loyal customers into users of intelligent ad blockers and filters.

    What it comes down to is I want to be able to fit my content consumption to my needs. Hard news when I want it. Info from friends and family about their adventures, when I’m in a more social frame of mind, and light fluffy news if and when I want that. But the nature of the nitchified web, advertisers can’t continue to expect to operate mass-media principals.

    The drive as advertisers to struggle to reach mass audience as the web becomes more specialized is turning each of my distinct tools and services into content that is trying to be all things to all people all the time. That simply isn’t going to remain a principal that works.

    Yes, Kim Kardashian broke the web. But she did something good as well. She woke up a small but emerging community of information consumers who don’t want her oiled posterior to be the web we leave for our children.

  • Barclays set to offer video banking
    Barclays is set to offer some customers one-to-one video banking from 8 December, before rolling the service out to other customers from next year.
  • Printing 3D Sex Toys At UPS Is Now A Reality
    At UPS, you might be able to pick up a different kind of package.

    The company began offering 3D printing services over the past couple of months, and UPS rules don’t explicitly prohibit customers from using those printers to create sex toys, intrepid reporters at the Daily Dot learned this week.

    A UPS representative told the site they won’t allow patrons to print out items like weapons or anything that’s the intellectual property of someone else. When the Daily Dot asked about sex toys, the rep said there’s no company-wide rule against them, but since each store is individually owned, the owners of a particular store could make their own anti-erotic policy.

    The site also points out there are already websites available that offer free downloadable sex toy patterns for 3D printers.

    Printable sex toys are nothing new, but being able to just pop by a UPS store (assuming you live near one of the 100 locations currently offering 3D printing) certainly adds a level of convenience.

    Pricing for the printing service depends on the size and complexity of whatever you’re printing out. CNN reports that an iPhone case would cost around $60, while a replica femur bone would set you back about $325.

    And hey, if 3D printing isn’t your thing, but you still want something customizable, you can always get a plaster cast of your (or someone else’s!) penis.

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  • Robert Downey Jr. Discovers Gay Fan Fiction Photo After Googling Himself
    Robert Downey Jr. may be a super star but just like us mere mortals, he can’t resist the urge to Google himself once in a while.

    And that’s exactly what the “Iron Man” star recently did… with hilarious (and super hot) results:

    Downey Jr. apparently stumbled across a fan-created photo of his character from “Iron Man,” Tony Stark, in a compromising position with Loki, a villain from the “Thor” movie franchise.

    Fan fiction involves the creation of (often sexual) story lines and art inspired by classic film and comic book characters and is immensely popular on the Internet.

    Downey Jr. isn’t the only actor who seems to be amused by the idea of fans having their way with his character.

    In July, when “Guardians of the Galaxy” star Chris Pratt was asked about fan fiction and told that fans thought his character should be hooking up with other male super heroes, he replied, “Like, me, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr.? I’ll have to say I agree.”

  • Stone Age Axe Discovered Stuck Into The Ground With Handle Still Attached
    Archaeologists have unearthed an incredibly rare flint axe from the Stone Age that just may have been used in an ancient ritual.

    The 5,500-year-old discovery — found jammed into the Earth with its wooden handle still attached — was part of an ongoing excavation on the island of Lolland in Denmark.

    “When we suddenly realized that we had actually found most of a complete hafted [with its handle still attached] axe, stuck 30 centimeters down into the seabed, we knew that this was a very special find,” Søren Anker Sørensen, an archaeologist at the Museum Lolland-Falster involved in the excavation, said in a written statement.

    stone age axe
    Stone Age flint axe discovered in Denmark with its handle still attached.

    A paddle, two bows, and 14 axe shafts were found nearby, all of which were standing upright. The researchers believe these artifacts were lodged into the ground deliberately, perhaps as sacrificial offerings.

    The museum hopes to uncover more artifacts that may hold clues to such ancient rituals by continuing its excavation for another year or so, until construction begins on a new underwater tunnel that will link Lolland to the German island of Fehmarn.

    Earlier this month, a set of ancient human footprints were found as part of the ongoing excavation.

  • All Angry Birds Games for Windows Phone Free This Weekend

    If you are an Angry Birds games fan on Windows Phone, it is a good weekend to be you.  Through this weekend you can get all of the Angry Birds games free for your phone through the Windows Phone Store.  The games, along with Bad Piggies and several other games, are a part of Microsoft’s Deals Hub in the Windows Phone Store app. To make it easy for you, I’ve linked to all of the Angry Birds games for Windows Phone here along with Bad Piggies. Angry Birds Go! Angry Birds – The Original Game Angry Birds Epic Angry Birds

    The post All Angry Birds Games for Windows Phone Free This Weekend appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • How #Christian Hashtags Rally The Faithful And Lure Trolls
    WASHINGTON (RNS) Standing on the sidewalk outside an imposing downtown church, Michael Corral carried a portable loudspeaker and a handmade wooden cross with an old-fashioned message: “REPENT & BELIEVE.”

    “They’re twisting Scripture to see through their sins,” he said, as a group of pro-LGBT evangelicals met inside.

    “They’re twisting Scripture to see thru their sins.” #TRPinDC protester Michael Corral, attends Capitol Hill Baptist pic.twitter.com/4AHzatTO9e

    — Sarah Pulliam Bailey (@spulliam) November 8, 2014

    Meanwhile, halfway across the country, conservative activist Eric Teetsel was monitoring the same conference from his home in Kansas, firing off 140-character tweets using the conference hashtag, #TRPinDC.

    “I have more respect for those who acknowledge what the Bible says and reject it than those who twist it to serve their goals,” tweeted Teetsel, the executive director of the Manhattan Declaration project, which works to preserve traditional marriage.

    I have more respect for those who acknowledge what the Bible says and reject it than those who twist it to serve their goals. #TRPinDC

    — Eric Teetsel (@EricTeetsel) November 7, 2014

    It was essentially the same message, but two different mediums and two different audiences. In 2014, activists like Teetsel can reach a far broader audience — 3,600 followers in his case, not counting retweets — than streetside evangelists like Corral.

    Some leaders use trending topics or hashtags to build momentum around a certain conversation. The idea is that by pointing followers to a catchy hashtag, activists can spark conversation and rally supporters around a cause. On Monday (Nov. 24), for example, Twitter lit up with the hashtag #PrayForFerguson after a grand jury decided not to indict a white police officer who fatally shot a black teenager.

    One of the earlier noteworthy mobilizing campaigns included #KONY2012, a movement founded by a Christian, who launched a campaign to try to capture African Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. First Lady Michelle Obama famously participated in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign after more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

    But everyone on Twitter is learning that a hashtag cuts both ways — it can be hijacked or lampooned by detractors, and it’s a key way that online activists are pushing back against opposing messages or what some might even call hate speech.

    Last week, embattled comedian Bill Cosby posted a photo of himself and wrote: “Go ahead. Meme me! #cosbymeme.” The idea immediately backfired, as people began making rape allegations against him. The New York Police Department, too, asked followers to send photos of themselves posing with officers and using the hashtag #myNYPD. The effort morphed into a slew of negative tweets about aggressive policing.

    #mynypd finds so many ways to be a racist threat to people’s rights and lives pic.twitter.com/u5Q09Ll9A5

    — Joel Reinstein (@JoelReinstein) April 22, 2014

    The Duggar family of TLC’s “19 Kids And Counting” recently posted about daughter Jessa Duggar’s marriage to Ben Seewald and the criticism they received for posting a photo of the chaste young couple kissing.

    “We challenge all married couples to take a happily married picture and post it here,” they posted. Several same-sex couples gladly took up the challenge, knowing full well that the Duggars have spoken out against homosexuality.

    When more than 1,000 Southern Baptists gathered in Nashville last month for a massive Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission conference on homosexuality, the live stream set off fiery debate. Its official hashtag, #ERLC2014, was quickly hijacked with negative responses.

    Aaron Meares, an evangelical pastor in western Michigan, wasn’t able to access the conference’s live-stream feed, so he followed the #ERLC2014 instead. At a conference that was notable for its kinder, gentler tone toward gays, “seems there’s a vast diff. in tone b/w the presenters and the critics,” he tweeted.

    Am unable to lifestream #ERLC2014 . Following the hashtag instead. Seems there’s a vast diff. in tone b/w the presenters and the critics.

    — Aaron Meares (@aaronmeares) October 27, 2014

    Evangelical author Barnabas Piper saw the hits from the other side coming in live time as Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler gave the opening address. “It’s daylight, trolls,” he tweeted, using the online term for take-no-prisoners critics. “You have to wait until sundown to tweet about #ERLC2014.”

    It’s daylight, trolls. You have to wait until sundown to tweet about #ERLC2014.

    — Barnabas Piper (@BarnabasPiper) October 27, 2014

    Evangelical author Rachel Held Evans did not attend the conference but followed the live stream, offering steady pushback to the conference speakers to her more than 56,000 followers. “You can’t promote a livestream and hashtag and then get annoyed when people use it,” she tweeted.

    You can’t promote a livestream and hashtag and then get annoyed when people use it. #ERLC2014.

    — Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) October 27, 2014

    One of the conference sponsors said his company considered promoting materials through the official conference hashtag but decided against it because he didn’t want his product associated with a feed that was already ripe with conflict.

    Most organizers know online dissent is part of the game.

    “It doesn’t bother me,” said ERLC head Russell Moore. “I think that just goes with the territory of social media right now. I think most people know that and understand that.”

    Most LGBT-focused gatherings don’t receive the same level of online vitriol, said Zach Ford, the editor of ThinkProgress LGBT, a blog hosted by the progressive Center for American Progress. He attended and wrote about the Nashville conference, and many attendees, he said, were surprised that messages of “love your LGBT neighbor” weren’t better received.

    “I think a lot felt taken aback,” Ford said. “There’s a big disconnect between intent of message and reception of message.”

    Ford said there’s also a difference between hate speech — so prevalent on the Web — and speech that is perceived as hateful.

    “When you call something hate speech, you’re assigning intent,” he said. “What I learned from my conversations with people at Nashville is that they don’t intend harm against gay people. They don’t understand that messages that they’re reinforcing are received as hateful.”

    Back in Washington, the Reformation Project’s pro-gay evangelical conference attracted a smaller crowd — about 350 — but also a lot less activity on its #TRPinDC hashtag. One reason? The conference wasn’t live streamed to remote audiences.

    Indeed, Ed Stetzer, a veteran observer of the evangelical scene and a prominent pollster, tweeted that he was “glad to see people are (generally) not trying to troll #TRPinDC. It is a shame that so many use Twitter to twist & distort.”

    @edstetzer @VinesMatthew Trolling happens and is annoying. But you can’t characterize all dissent as such. Most know the difference.

    — Rachel Held Evans (@rachelheldevans) November 7, 2014

    Matthew Vines, the young gay activist who organized the Washington conference and has gained notice for his crusade to change evangelical minds on homosexuality, said the opposition in Nashville was more personal because much of the rhetoric was focused on a person’s sexual identity. His conference, meanwhile, centered more on scriptural arguments.

    “It’s easy for marginalized groups to say it’s OK to be just as vitriolic and as aggressive and uncharitable with people who have been harming them. ‘We’re the unprivileged ones,’ so people can justify things that I think should be considered more carefully,” Vines said. “Even if you are a marginalized group, that doesn’t give you free rein to do whatever you want in terms of how you interact, even if they have more power than you.”

    Either way, he said, Twitter spats can serve to get more people to pay attention to the conversation.

    “Robust criticism … and having a voice is a necessary first step in eventually changing people’s minds,” Vines said. “For the SBC crowd, the dynamic is different. They have never not had a voice in the public square, and their views used to carry more influence in the culture than they do today.”

Mobile Technology News, November 29, 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.

  • Uber Disciplines Manager Accused Of Tracking Reporter
    Uber has disciplined its lead NYC manager after he was accused of invading a customer’s privacy.

    “We have concluded our investigation and taken disciplinary actions,” Uber representative Natalia Montalvo said in a statement obtained Friday by The Huffington Post.

    Montalvo did not give specifics on what Josh Mohrer, Uber’s New York City general manager, did wrong or how he was punished. But the company acknowledge it started reviewing Mohrer’s actions 10 days ago after a BuzzFeed story revealed that Mohrer tracked tech reporter Johana Bhuiyan’s Uber travel data without her permission.

    “Access to and use of data is permitted only for legitimate business purposes,” said an Uber statement issued last week on the investigation. “Violations of this policy do result in disciplinary action, including the possibility of termination and legal action.”

    Mohrer will keep his job as general manager for New York City, but it was unclear if or how the “disciplinary actions” will affect his role, reported Slate, the first outlet to confirm Uber’s move.

    Mohrer improperly used Uber’s internal “God View” system to keep tabs on Bhuiyan when she was traveling to Uber’s New York headquarters to conduct an interview, BuzzFeed reported. “There you are,” Mohrer said to Bhuiyan when she arrived. “I was tracking you.”

    “God View” can be used to find the location of both of both Uber vehicles and customers, but as Uber’s privacy statement said, “only for legitimate business purposes.” Mohrer did not ask Bhuiyan’s permission to track her, BuzzFeed reported.

    BuzzFeed’s piece on “God View” prompted Uber to clarify its privacy policy and the company confirmed that it had hired an attorney from Hogan Lovells to help steer its privacy practices.

    The controversial company has been struggling to save face in recent weeks. In addition to the alleged “God View” privacy invasion, Uber Vice President Emil Michael suggested at a dinner that the company should dig up dirt on journalists critical of its business. Both Michael and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick later apologized for the statement.

    Uber — founded in 2009 and based in San Francisco — is reportedly in talks to raise $1 billion to put its total valuation in the range of $35 to 40 billion.

  • Websites creak on record Black Friday
    Retailers including John Lewis and Currys head for record online sales as frenzied shopping swamps websites.
  • 4 Cyber Monday Tips for the Smart Shopper
    2014-11-28-ID100293661.jpg

    Yes, it’s that time of year again. Online shoppers will spend countless hours in front of their computer screens to get the best Cyber Monday deals. If you don’t like waiting in long lines, this may be your only chance to get those holiday shopping discounts.

    It’s difficult to ignore the growth of this new retail holiday. Companies are increasingly creating marketing strategies to lure in more online customers. In 2013, Cyber Monday sales increased by 15.7% to a whopping $2.29 billion.

    Are you ready to grab great deals and not become an online impulsive buyer? Here are four tips to save you some cash and sanity:

    1. List Your Desired Purchases
    What do you really want to buy? Experts recommend not going grocery shopping when you are hungry. So, it’s safe to say not to go online shopping if you have no clue what you want to buy.

    You can even narrow down your categories: technology, clothing, cosmetics, or household goods. Once you have a list, you can hold yourself accountable when you’re searching for designer jeans, instead of a nice television for the family room.

    2. Focus on Coupon Websites
    Year-round extreme coupon folks swear by their coupon websites. Check out ChameleonJohn, RetailMeNot, and Hip2Save. These sites offer amazing savings in one central location. No more scouring through hundreds of web pages for every single item you want. You can conveniently browse through a wide selection of discounts.

    Remember to think about your budget while sifting through all the deals. Will the 10% savings on a certain item be worth it? Or could you find an alternative, less expensive brand? Don’t get overwhelmed by all the coupons. Do your due diligence before submitting your final order.

    3. Stay Connected on Social Media
    Companies like to offer special discounts through their social media accounts. Last year, iOS and Android accounted for more than 90% of online sales. If you are targeting particular stores, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. For example, leading online retailer Newegg usually provides exclusive sales to its Facebook fans.

    In addition, it would be helpful to subscribe to the newsletters and text service of your favorite stores. You may get inundated with multiple messages, but it will help with finding the best savings. Plus, you can always unsubscribe later if you get too annoyed.

    4. Beware of Scams
    Don’t fall victim to online scams that can lead to identity theft and closed credit card accounts. Resist the temptation to “like” a Facebook page in order to receive a “free” iPhone 6. You won’t be receiving pricey tech items for pennies on the dollar.

    Don’t get stuck on copycat websites. They are easy to spot. The sites will have numerous misspellings and awkward page formatting. Also, watch out for spam emails claiming to be from UPS or FedEx. You won’t be receiving any “free” gifts from these shipping companies.

    Be a smart shopper on Cyber Monday. With a little preparation, you can get all your holiday shopping deals.

    Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Syrian hack attack forces pop-ups
    A number of websites have been compromised to display a message from a group identifying itself as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA).
  • The Quadrofoil Hopes To Be The Boat Of The Future
    If Teslas are the cars of the future, the Quadrofoil hopes to be the boat of the future.

    The electric personal watercraft looks like something James Bond would drive over Lake Como in a high-speed chase. Sleek and futuristic looking, the watercraft uses hydrofoil technology to “fly” above the surface of the water, making it virtually emission-free.

    Hydrofoil technology is not new, but according to Quadrofoil’s president and CEO, Marjan Rožman, “What is new on Quadrofoil are electric drive and patented steering technology that enable stability and agility at the same time.”

    As the boat reaches a speed of 6 knots (about 7 mph), its hydrofoil wings create lift and raise the boat out of the water, which, Rožman told The Huffington Post, enables it to be driven through most environmentally protected sanctuaries. Its nearly silent, all-electric motor also means there’s no oil or exhaust to muck up the marine ecosystem. The design’s hollow hull and composite, lightweight construction also makes the vessel “almost unsinkable,” as the website puts it.

    Rožman boasts that the state-of-the art, touchscreen steering wheel is the only control mechanism on board. It displays how much battery power is left, as well as the boat’s speed and range. The Quadrofoil can travel more than 60 miles on a single charge, according to designers.

    The smooth ride, however, comes at a cost. The boat comes with a $18,700 price tag, has virtually no onboard storage, and reaches a top speed of only 21 knots (about 24 mph). Rožman recognizes the challenges, but told HuffPost his goal is for “Quadrofoil to become a synonym for electrical personal watercrafts,” with future models offering more.

    Quadrofoils are due to ship out in March next year, and available for pre-ordering on Quadrofoil’s website.

  • As Bricks and Clicks Merge, Geeks Are Discovering Politics
    As with the first industrial revolution, the merger of Clicks and Bricks forces us to ask: Which laws need to be updated, which are just irrelevant, and which are barriers to entry created by special interests? Best placed to help our internet billionaires contribute to this important project are — politicians, civil servants, lobbyists and other political hangers-on, looking for lucrative work.

    America’s statutes, policies and regulations (Laws) are designed for a non-digital world — a world where a taxi was something you hailed on the street, not by clicking a smartphone app. The world of Bricks (i.e., the older traditional economy) and Clicks (i.e, the newer tech-fueled economy) are merging. With this merger, we are forced to examine our existing Laws (a point also made by Fareed Zakaria). As companies scramble to lobby the government for the most favorable results, political types and high powered lobbyists will be in great demand (e.g., David Plouffe — a key strategist behind President Obama’s two presidential wins — recently joined Uber).

    Originally, computers (e.g., the IBM 700/7000 series circa 1952 ) had little direct interaction with the world of Bricks. They were used for: artillery trajectory tables, payroll and accounting, and similar behind-the-scenes work. The machines took up entire rooms, and operated in batch mode(1).

    Moore’s law (computer processing power doubles every 18-36 months) has proved unrelenting. As processing costs decline exponentially and other technologies advance, the worlds of Bricks and Clicks are merging.

    Cabs have existed for centuries — London has had taxi service since 1654. And renting out a spare room has been happening for centuries. What has changed — and the impact is dramatic — is the decline in transaction costs and the resulting increase in market efficiency brought about by adding the world of Clicks to the world of Bricks. This has triggered the rise of the sharing economy, among many other manifestations.

    Innovations — such as, Uber’s uniting dynamic pricing, smartphones, GPS, stored billing information, a two way rating system (you rate the driver and the driver rates you) and much else — make the new economy a very efficient system for transacting business, thereby resulting in more business activity.

    But merging Clicks with Bricks creates friction with old Laws from the pre-Click world, which can be categorized as:

    1. Laws that remain necessary, in some form, in our digital era: For example, most cities have auto inspection and safety rules for vehicles, particularly for vehicles that carry paying passengers. The safety concerns are the same, whether the passenger is picked up by Lyft, Uber or a traditional car/taxi service. These Laws served a legitimate purpose prior to the merging of Clicks and Bricks, and that purpose remains applicable, even in the digital age.
    2. Laws that are obsolete in the digital era: As an example, in a different time, when horses were the major mode of urban transportation, all sorts of Laws were created specifically for an era of horse traffic. Most of these are now irrelevant, or have been repealed. But those remaining from that era must be re-examined (and eliminated or revised) if unnecessary or detrimental to new needs and goals.
    3. Laws that never had any good reason to exist, but were the result of special interests creating barriers to entry, as discussed in more detail below.

    As Adam Smith said:

    People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

    One way for businesses to conspire against the public is to have government create artificial barriers to entry, and thereby generate unearned profits for politically connected businesses.

    For example, the number of yellow taxis allowed on the streets of NYC at any one time is restricted to 13,437. No matter how great the demand, the capacity of the streets, the time of year, or the strength or weakness of the NYC economy — only 13,437 yellow cabs are allowed. The number 13,437 doesn’t reflect a perfect balance of the laws of supply and demand — demand for the privilege of driving a yellow cab far outstrips the supply. The current price for a medallion (i.e., the right to have a yellow taxi on the streets of NYC) — about $1 million — reflects this high demand.

    NYC medallion owners are a concentrated special interest group, with a financial interest in limiting the issuance of new medallions. The general public also has an interest in the taxi industry — more and better service — but for most people, this isn’t their highest priority. For medallion owners, however, the taxi medallion is of utmost importance since it represents their very livelihood. Medallion owners, therefore, can have an outsized influence on this one narrow issue. But the rise of Uber and similar services means we suddenly have new and powerful interests at the table, challenging old rules.

    This isn’t just about the taxi industry. This challenge will occur across the entire economy. One benefit of this merging of Bricks and Clicks is a “housecleaning” of our Laws. As significant new participants emerge, they’ll seek to remove government barriers that hinder their business models. However, these new competitors will behave as Adam Smith predicted, and attempt to create new barriers to trade benefitting their own interests. Arguably this process has already begun – newcomer Uber was recently accused of encouraging taxi regulations that would favor its business model, and make it more difficult for new entrants. Capitalism is innovative and efficient, but not always admirable.

    My one prediction: For both well-funded new competitors (trying to revise or create Laws that benefit their interests), and old form competitors (with tremendous incentives to protect their turf), civil servants, politicians, lobbyists and others of their ilk will be in high demand!

    (1) In this period computer programs were typed on punch cards and left to run overnight at a data center; by the way, punch cards were still in use as late as the mid-1980s).

    An earlier version of this blog appeared as:
    Strauss, Steven. “Regulation for Bricks, Clicks, and the Sharing Economy.” Aspen Journal of Ideas. Aspen Institute, Nov. 2014. Web.

    Steven Strauss is the John L. Weinberg/Goldman Sachs & Co. Visiting Professor at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

  • Sony makes experimental paper watch
    Sony has developed a watch made from e-paper as part of an initiative to experiment with the use of the material for fashion products.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson Has Adorable Advice For First-Graders, And Here's What It Is
    What could be cuter than a conversation between Neil deGrasse Tyson and a first-grader?

    Earlier this month, the famed astrophysicist called on six-year-old Kaitlynn Goulette to ask him a question while he was delivering a lecture at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.

    When the young girl asked, “How can first-graders help the Earth,” Tyson didn’t tell her to recycle or invest in solar panels. Rather, he encouraged her to not lose her natural curiosity to explore the Earth that she so desperately wants to help. Check out the exchange in the YouTube video above.

    “He’s just told this little girl that she too can be a scientist,” YouTube user Tiffany Henry commented on the video. “I am feeling all the joy in the world right now.”

    There’s no question that children have an innate enthusiasm for science. Just watch first-and second-graders in this “Talk Nerdy To Me” episode below.

  • A Guide To Lumia Denim

    With the rollout of Lumia Denim expected to start literally in days, I thought it would be a good idea to post a guide of what you can expect in the next major release of the Lumia OS that runs on Windows Phone.   Lumia Denim is a firmware update that will eventually make its way to every Windows Phone running 8.1.  This update is sometimes referred to as Update 1 although it is unclear if Microsoft will actually call it that when the time comes to release it.  Regardless of the naming, Lumia Denim is a big update for Windows

    The post A Guide To Lumia Denim appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Three pondering bid for O2 or EE, say reports
    As BT conducts sales talks with both O2 and EE, reports have emerged the owner of Three is also preparing a bid for one or other of the two networks
  • Emergency repairs for cracked phones
    A broken screen on a smartphone might not seem like one of the most pressing problems – but firms are now offering a very quick fix.
  • Interview: Fujitsu CTO Joseph Reger on human-centric innovation
    Joseph Reger, Fujitsu’s EMEIA CTO, discusses human-centric innovation and the need for responsible attitudes to technology
  • Airport raids tackle cyberthieves
    Cyberthieves who used stolen credit cards to buy airline tickets are targeted in raids at 80 airports.
  • Portsmouth Water starts migration from custom mainframe to IFS ERP
    Portsmouth Water has started switching over custom mainframe applications to IFS in a bid to improve data use and customer service
  • Graphene promise for body armour
    The “wonder material” graphene could be used to make bulletproof armour, new research suggests.
  • CGI secures communications between pilots and air traffic control
    Satellite communications firm Inmarsat has outsourced the provision of security IT and services to CGI

Mobile Technology News, November 28, 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.

  • Briefly: NewerTech's new Screen Armor for iPhone, Lego Batman 3
    NewerTech has introduced an update to its line of Impact X-Orbing Screen Armor, now available for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Featuring military grade, triple-layer protection, the self-adhesive layer requires no water or other liquids for easy, bubble-free installation. the screen protector is compatible with cases, and includes a lifetime limited warranty. Regularly priced at $20 for iPhone 6 and at $25 for iPhone 6 Plus, the Impact X-orbing Screen Armor for the latest iPhones can be ordered through NewerTech. An instant rebate, which can be applied upon ordering at the time of this writing,



  • Apple's Black Friday 2014 event
    It is now officially Black Friday and we wanted to get things started off on the right foot, so we have rounded up a selection of items from Apple’s Black Friday sale. This year Apple has combined their Black Friday promotion with the World AIDS day promo announced earlier this week. With qualified purchases, customers will receive Product (RED) gift cards on everything from iPhones and iPads to iPods and Beats by Dr. Dre headphones.



  • AT&T GoPhone Lumia 635 Only $49.99 on Amazon

    Let’s get those Black Friday deals going a bit early.  If you want to get your hands on a great little Windows Phone, go straight over to Amazon and pick yourself up a Lumia 635.  Right now it is only $49.99, $50 off the regular price.  That’s without any contract requirements. AT&T Nokia Lumia 635 – No Contract GoPhone If you haven’t had a chance to read my review of the Lumia 635, you can do that here.

    The post AT&T GoPhone Lumia 635 Only $49.99 on Amazon appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • VIDEO: The watch that fires lasers
    BBC Click looks at some of the week’s technology highlights.
  • Finding long lost treasures of the deep
    Finding bounty in the depths of Davy Jones’s locker
  • VIDEO: How to avoid out-of-battery rage
    New ways to stop your smartphone running out of battery
  • Social media told to simplify terms
    A report from the UK parliament says Facebook, Twitter and other social networking firms need to make their terms and conditions clearer.
  • Two-thirds of UK staff bring wearables to work
    IT bosses say 69% of UK staff bring wearables into their organisations, according to a survey by Trend Micro
  • UK swells list of banned websites
    The High Court bans a further 53 piracy sites, more than doubling the number that the UK’s leading net providers must block.
  • Ex-GCHQ boss warns on phone biometrics
    Mobile devices using biometric data should be better designed to protect security and privacy, according to the former head of GCHQ, Sir John Adye.
  • Syrian hack attack forces pop-ups
    A number of websites have been compromised to display a message from a group identifying itself as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA).
  • Techies U R Da Best
    Just for the record, I’m thankful for my family, my work, my country, and those fighting to keep me safe. I deeply appreciate the gift of a beautiful sunrise, a long walk on the beach, and a swim in the ocean, and every day I get to be on the planet with my three oversized, goofy dogs, Polly, Dorothy, and Hank.

    But I want to offer a special thanks to the technologists of the world — all those who work anonymously in the world’s labs and engineering departments to come up with the circuits, code, and contraptions that have combined to change life as I know it.

    I know that technology sometimes cheapens our lives, diverts us from deeper meanings, pollutes our world, and, in the wrong hands, even threatens our lives. (It can also break our hearts, as I learned when my hard drive crashed, taking with it months of work that even computer geniuses working in a “cleanroom” in California could not bring back to me. Back up your files, people.)

    I like it anyway.

    I know that science is making people healthier, the world cleaner, societies safer, transportation faster, humanity more hopeful. And I appreciate all of that. I really do. But this “thank you” is all about me, a member of a generation that knows that “cc” on your email actually stands for “carbon copy.” (Those sheets of paper with ink on them that you put between two pages of blank paper in a typewriter are thankfully all gone.)

    In ways my children never can, because they were swaddled in technology’s benevolence, I have points of reference. I remember the heady liberation of my first three-minutes-per-page fax machine, and my first cellphone, which was the size of a brick. I’ve been in line at the post office.

    To all the technologists who have made my life easier, faster, and better, thank you for (in no particular order):

    • The fact that I don’t have to get out of the chair every time I want to change a channel.
    • The more than 600 channels beamed from space. I only watch seven of them, but I like knowing they’re there. You never know when you’ll want to see a cheetah chase a wildebeest.
    • Putting the great, global brain of the Internet at my fingertips. Need the current population of Zimbabwe? It’s 15,149,838.
    • GPS maps and the soothing voice of the lady who tells me when and where to turn. She’s a genius.
    • Cable television programming that gives me The Honorable Woman instead of Wife Swap.
    • The fact that one device that can be smaller than a deck of cards holds my appointments, my work, and contact information for everybody I know. When necessary, I can use it to make a phone call.
    • Text messaging and Snapchat. Sure, it’s ruining the English language, faces look freaky, and it’s not very personal. But with a husband constantly traveling, a son running his own business, a daughter at college, and me walking the quiet halls of an empty nest, I’ll take it. After all, “Luv U” is now a universal language.
    • Twitter, which is great and so important and lets the folks who sign up on my site know what I had for lunch and where I ate it. I can even post a picture of the food.
    • Instagram, which shows important people in my life (and some I don’t even know or would care to know) the most private parts of it — even if they are not particularly interested.
    • The fact that I’m able to find the perfect pair of shoes without leaving the house — and then send them back for free when I realize they aren’t as perfect as they looked.
    • Giant TV screens and theater-quality sound, with nobody munching popcorn right behind me or with a giant head right in front of me. Just three big dogs in my lap, snoring.
    • The fact that I can buy the two songs from a CD that I want without paying for the eight that I don’t.

    Most of all, dear technologists, thank you for putting me in charge. You have moved power from the center to the edge. You have broken down the barriers. You have removed the filters. You have created an electronic democracy that Thomas Jefferson would have loved.

    I look forward to hydrogen cars, household robots, and Moon colonies.

    Until then, thanks again for my iPad.

  • Ubisoft apologises for Assassin bugs
    The head of the games studio behind Assassin’s Creed Unity emails players apologising for glitches in the game and offering compensation.
  • Twitter Now Tracks What Other Apps You Have On Your Phone
    NEW YORK (AP) — Twitter said it is now tracking what other apps its users have installed on their mobile devices so it can target content and ads to them better.

    Twitter Inc. said Wednesday that users will receive a notification when the setting is turned on and can opt out using settings on their phones. On iPhones, this setting is called “limit ad tracking.” On Android phones, it’s “opt out of interest-based ads.” San Francisco-based Twitter said it is only collecting the list of apps that users have installed, not any data within the apps. It won’t collect the app lists from people who have previously turned off ad targeting on their phones.

    Besides advertising, Twitter said knowing what apps people have downloaded can improve its suggestions on what accounts to follow and add relevant content to their feeds that isn’t advertising.

    A recent Pew Research Center poll found that people sometimes have conflicting views on privacy. About 80 percent of Americans who use social networking sites are concerned about third parties, such as advertisers, accessing data that they share on the sites, according to the poll. At the same time, most are willing to share some information about themselves in exchange for using such services for free.

    __

    Online, how to opt out: http://bit.ly/11V3yJq

  • Law ends regulator logo on devices
    Electronic devices sold in the US are no longer required to display certain regulatory symbols and text, thanks to a new law.
  • The IPv6 dilemma – are we making the same mistake?
    In 2012, the Regional Internet Registry for Europe claimed the five internet registries each had just 16.8 million IPv4 addresses left
  • European MPs want Google break-up
    A landmark vote at the European Parliament has called for Google’s search business to be separated from its other businesses.
  • Uber Suspends Operations In Nevada
    (Reuters) – Ridesharing company Uber suspended its operations in the U.S. state of Nevada late on Wednesday in a setback that it said would cost nearly 1,000 jobs.
    Companies such as Uber allow passengers to summon cars using apps on their smartphones, rather than calling a taxi company, and have gained popularity in dozens of U.S. cities over the past few years.
    But they face opposition from taxi companies and some officials who argue the upstarts do not face the same stringent regulations as do traditional cabs, and insurance companies want their drivers to carry more expensive insurance policies.
    Uber’s decision to temporarily suspend its service in Nevada came after a legal setback.
    On Tuesday, a Washoe County District Court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the company from statewide operations, siding with Nevada over regulatory concerns in a case that was referred to the court by a split panel of the state’s Supreme Court, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
    “It’s unfortunate that Nevada is the first state in the nation to temporarily suspend Uber,” spokeswoman Eva Behrend said in a statement, adding the shut-down would cost nearly 1,000 jobs.
    “We remain committed to working with Nevada’s leaders to create a permanent regulatory framework that affords Nevadans the flexibility and innovation offered by Uber,” Behrend said.
    Requests for comment were not immediately returned by Nevada’s Attorney General’s office.

    (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Chicago; Editing by Pravin Char)

  • Happy Thanksgiving To US Readers

    To all of my readers that are in the United States, I want to take a moment to wish each of you a happy Thanksgiving today.  I hope that each of you have a day of food and fun with family and friends and that you each get to your destinations safe & sound today. I, like many, have an endless list of things to be thankful for in my life including my own family and friends.  I am also thankful for each of you who come and read my random musings, opinions and reviews.  I appreciate that I’m on

    The post Happy Thanksgiving To US Readers appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

Mobile Technology News, November 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.

  • Candy Crush maker chairman resigns
    The chairman of King Digital, the maker of the popular mobile game Candy Crush, Melvyn Morris, has resigned and is taking a break from the UK firm.
  • Why <i>Interstellar</i> Should Be Taken Seriously — Very Seriously
    A few of my closest friends are physicists. In fact, when I went to see Interstellar, I made sure one of them was at my side. My physicist pal and I loved the movie, and to us (especially the physicist) the physics of the story were merely a layman’s version of the real thing, but that was the right way to do it. A third member of our viewing party, a girl whose interests could be described as more spiritual than scientific (not that the two are mutually exclusive), utterly despised it. What I couldn’t figure out, despite her attempts to explain, was why. I kept coming back to the conclusion that it was because she didn’t understand it, but the reality is that plenty of people — very intelligent people — don’t fully understand the physics behind Interstellar, but its ratings would suggest that they don’t mind the confusion.

    The truth, though, is that she just wasn’t interested.

    Many people just aren’t interested in space.

    Too many.

    NASA accounts for only 0.58 percent of our annual budget, yet the average American believes we are spending too much on space exploration and research. Compare that with the only 37 percent of Americans who believe that our $1.2-trillion annual defense budget is too high.

    To those who have seen the movie, the condition of our planet during that film seems like a realistic preview of the disasters that climate change will bring, and spending more money on our military isn’t going to stop those disasters. In fact, a larger military is more likely to lead to the deadly wars described in the movie and add to the carbon buildup that is almost exclusively responsible for climate change. Climate change is here and will only get worse over our lifetime. Widespread natural disasters, famine, and probably wars will all soon be part of the reality of our survival on this planet unless we do something just as drastic as the Armageddon that we’ve caused.

    Is NASA going to save us by taking us all to a different planet? Not likely, though colonizing other planets actually isn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility, especially with Mars and Europa literally on the horizon. But what most people don’t realize about NASA is how many incredible inventions have emerged as mere byproducts of their space-faring missions — like microwaves and duct tape.

    After talking to a few people about the movie, it occurred to me that not only do many people not fully understand the physics of space travel, but they hold the physics portrayed in the movie to be closer to fantasy than to science. This is indubitably not the case. Interstellar is one of the most scientifically accurate science-fiction movies ever made. To those who doubt my authority, the producers of Interstellar hired a physicist from Cal Tech to check and double-check their physics throughout the movie.

    Interstellar is not just a movie but a warning, one that should be taken very seriously. The Dust Bowl-esque apocalypse that is portrayed in the movie puts climate change in a perspective that even its diehard deniers can understand, and the social statement of portraying NASA as a secret organization under a society that believes the Moon landing was faked highlights how foolish our public opinion on space spending is. We need to fund NASA more, not less. With $1.2 trillion for just one year, NASA could put colonies on the Moon, Mars, and Europa in our lifetimes, and we’d get to reap the benefits of every piece of technology that is yielded as a result.

    Better battery technology, solar technology, nuclear fusion, quantum-entangled communication and processing, artificial intelligence, cryogenic sleep, medical advancement, and many more breakthroughs we can’t even imagine — this is just a taste of what we could have in our lifetime if we funded NASA just a little bit more than we do today. The full $1.2 trillion is not even necessary. Ask most scientists and they’ll tell you that we are trapped by the paradox of our own economy. We have the intellectual and physical resources necessary to solve climate change, global hunger, and most disease and travel anywhere in the Solar System we want, but we don’t have the economic resources. The reason this is a paradox is that the economy is entirely man-made. In essence, we are needlessly restricting our own progress, but that is just the way our world works right now. So fund NASA! We are only now beginning to realize the trouble we are in when we should be desperately searching for solutions. Funding NASA will bring not only the necessary advancements that could save our planet but advancements that will improve the quality of life for everyone (again, like microwaves).

    The one shining light, despite the lack of public space funding, is SpaceX. Opinions on the merits of space exploration turning into a private industry are mixed, but the social benefits are still present. The company’s founder, Elon Musk, announced that SpaceX would be designing a fleet of low-orbit satellites to bring wi-fi to the entire planet. Take that promise as a taste of the real-world benefits of funding modern space travel beyond just saving our lives. Who wouldn’t want worldwide free wifi?!

    Fund NASA, invest in SpaceX, write your congressperson, and vote. Space travel isn’t just cool. It isn’t just something to do because we can. If Interstellar has anything to teach us, it’s that space travel can save our species. The truth is we might need saving very soon.

  • Europe to vote on Google break-up
    The European Parliament will later vote on whether Google’s search business should be separated from its other services.
  • VIDEO: Faces transformed with digital masks
    Turning faces into digital works of art
  • Adoption of iOS 8 rises to 60 percent after pause
    Apple’s iOS 8 adoption rate has returned to normal levels following a brief stagnation in the wake of the botched 8.0.1 update that was only very briefly available but caused havoc for the thousands who downloaded it, and temporarily made users hesitant to upgrade. In an update on iOS 8 distribution posted to its developer website, Apple said 60 percent of users registered with the iOS App Store are now running some version iOS 8 (up four percent from two weeks ago), with 35 percent running iOS 7 (down five percent from the same period).



  • Weekend Roundup: Can an 'Elderly and Haggard' Europe Defend a 'World of Rules' Against Russia?
    As Pope Francis slammed Europe as “elderly and haggard” in an address this week in Strasbourg, the speaker of the Polish parliament, Radek Sikorski, warned in the WorldPost that Europe’s starkest challenge is defending “a world of rules” against an aggressive Russia. Writing from the Vatican for our “Following Francis” series, Sébastien Maillard looks at the “holy ghostwriters” behind the pontiff’s tweets and encyclicals.

    WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul on yet another retrograde move in Turkey’s modern history taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who declared this week that men and women can’t be equal. Though Erdogan still considers the Kurdish Democratic Union Party a terrorist organization, Nazand Begikhani writes from Iraqi Kurdistan about how women from that party who have taken up arms to defend their fellow Kurds from the radically misogynist Islamic State are also advancing equal rights in their own society.

    This week, as the Israeli cabinet moved to define Israel as a “Jewish state,” the French parliament, like other European parliaments of late, is voting on whether to recognize a Palestinian state. Writing from Paris, Bernard-Henri Lévy argues passionately that such a move, intended to enhance peace, will perpetuate war.

    Once again, the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program have failed to reach an agreement. Muhammad Sahimi places the blame squarely on the “excessive demands” of the West and lists Iran’s “major concessions.” Writing from Abuja, Olaiya Phillips chronicles the threats to the Christian community in northern Nigeria from Boko Haram. Writing for HuffPost Maghreb, Rebecca Chaouch looks at the phenomenon of “Taqwacore” that combines punk music and Islamic piety.

    WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports that the crackdown in Hong Kong has finally come: the key leaders of the protest movement have been arrested and the demonstrations sites are being cleared. Writing from Singapore, Kishore Mahbubani argues that, despite predictions of doom by many in the West, Asia is on the brink of a “golden era.”

    As Ferguson, Missouri erupted again this week in racial violence, Howard Fineman writes that the world is questioning whether America can live up to its ideals. The Rev. Madison Shockley‘s experience tells him blacks always seem to end up on the losing end of racial conflicts.

    Geophysicist David Waltham takes a millennial look back to trace how oxygen-creating bacteria evolved to make Earth a livable environment, and wonders if humans can do the same. Finally, Robert Kuhn looks at the philosophical questions raised by the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar.

    WHO WE ARE

    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 11 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior 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 Editors-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.

    MISSION STATEMENT

    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.

  • Happy Thinks-giving
    2014-11-25-THinksgiving2.jpg

    I have seen the future. And in it, people will not find pleasure and status by acquiring, using and displaying the latest electronic devices. Instead, the people who carry no electronic device will be those who command attention, respect and even envy.

    In the future, the wealthy will pay others to carry and tend to their technology. Artists and spirit-seekers will give up wearable computers to find inspiration. Lovers will unplug because ecstasy and devotion are far more impactful powered only with the electricity of eye-to-eye and skin-to-skin and soul-to-soul connection.

    You want future facts? Try these:

    • The Big Die-off – We are in the midst of the 6th great extinction. Hundreds of species have died out. Thousands more are endangered.
    • Urban Explosion66 percent of the world population will live in cities by 2050 – a mushrooming from 3.9 billion (2014) to 6.3 billion (2050)
    • Loss of Human Habitat - Climate change means the sea level is rising fast. This leads to more flooding for the coasts where many people live (39 percent of the US population). By 2100, depending on how much our ice caps melt, London could be submerged and many coastal areas where people live in Africa, Asia and the Pacific could be rendered uninhabitable.

    What does this mean? Here’s my take: In a crowded world where most people live in cities, where we escape from the physical crush of humanity only to jostle in busy digital habitats, true luxury will be defined as the opportunity to encounter our world only with our senses.

    We will crave sitting outside, unencumbered by earbuds or video, uncoupled from computer games, free from the digital design equivalent of potato chips, the eating of which only makes you want more.

    The fortunate will sit patiently under the stars and wait for one to fall.

    We will aspire to listen to the tide lap up the beach, to climb through a wood and feel our legs and lungs work and see the steam pour from our mouths and rise from our skin.

    People will pay top dollar to wake up first thing and go outside to watch the sunrise and pray.

    In the damp forest, questers will saunter and stop and celebrate the find of a large red-domed mushroom.

    Caffeine lovers will pay extra to drink coffee outdoors and stare at the java steam lifting skyward illuminated by the morning sun. Others will look on and be impressed. Imagine – to have the time to drink from a cup without a lid!

    The minions indentured to their own electronic convenience will yearn to revolt and shake off the shackles of being on-line all the time.

    The lack of possessions will be seen as liberation.

    And the idea of enough — not too little, not too much, awareness and appetite in balance — will seem like a melody of such enchantment and rarity that men will trade gold just to hear it for a few moments and women will offer their dearest gift, friendship, just to sing along.

    So, here’s an idea.

    This year, turn Thanksgiving into Thinks-giving.

    Unplug.

    Yup. The whole day without digital engagement. No screens. No big balloon parades. No football.

    Just people. And nature. And reflection. And breathing in and out. Oh, singing and dancing, too. You can watch or participate. It just has to be happening in front of you, or around you, or in your imagination.

    My guess is this kind of inhabiting the future will not only be a shock, but will probably bug the hell out of anyone who tries it. You see, the noise of our lives echoes in our brain long after we power down our modern tools for connection.

    Still, it’s kind of tempting. An adventure. To give up your handheld to actually hold another’s hand. What would it be like? To go to the future and live like a king simply by turning everything off. Except your mind. And your heart. And your spirit.

    What might you learn?

    Cross-posted on Thinking Philanthropy.

  • Mail, Calendar and People App for Windows Updated

    Microsoft has released a sizable update to the Mail, Calendar and People app for Windows, bringing a whole host of improvements and update to each of the apps.  The update is available now in the Window Store now on your Windows 8.1 PC.  Mail by far received the biggest update, bringing such features as a Sweep feature to clean up your Outlook.com inbox and the ability to drag-and-drop messages into folders. Here is a complete rundown of all of the improvements in each of the apps: Mail • See all messages from your favorite people in one place. • See

    The post Mail, Calendar and People App for Windows Updated appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Here's Everything Expiring From Netflix On Dec. 1
    The beginning of a new month might mean that a handful of new movies and TV shows are coming to Netflix, but sadly there are even more expiring on Dec. 1. While you’re digesting Thanksgiving feasts this weekend, drag the family to the TV and start watching these movies before they’re gone for good. Because if you don’t rewatch “Uptown Girls,” “Spice World” or “Dirty Dancing” while you can, we bet you’ll regret it.

    Expiring on Dec. 1:

    “‘night, Mother” (1986)
    “1941″ (1979)
    “An Officer and a Gentleman” (1982)
    “The Apostle” (1997)
    “Assassination” (1987)
    “Audrey Rose” (1977)
    “The Believers” (1987)
    “Better than Chocolate” (1999)
    “The Big Hit” (1998)
    “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings” (1976)
    “Blood & Chocolate” (2007)
    “Body Count” (1998)
    “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (2008)
    “Bushwhacked” (1995)
    “Chaplin” (1992)
    “Cheech & Chong: Get Out of My Room” (1985)
    “The Choirboys” (1977)
    “The Cockeyed Cowboys of Calico County” (1970)
    “Coffee and Cigarettes” (2003)
    “The Cold Light of Day” (1996)
    “The Colombian Connection” (2011)
    “The Constant Gardener” (2005)
    “Corpo Celeste” (2011)
    “Count Yorga, Vampire” (1970)
    “Cry-Baby” (1990)
    “D2: The Might Ducks” (1994)
    “Dirty Dancing” (1987)
    “Dirty Dancing: Havana Night” (2004)
    “Dororo” (2008)
    “Double Indemnity” (1944)
    “En la Cama” (2005)
    “Event Horizon” (1997)
    “Eye for an Eye” (1996)
    “Fairy Tale: A True Story” (1997)
    “First Knight” (1995)
    “Five Easy Pieces” (1970)
    “Flight of the Intruder” (1991)
    “Foreign Student” (1994)
    “Free Men” (2011)
    “Funny Lady” (1975)
    “The Ghost and Mrs Muir” (1947)
    “The Girl from Petrovka” (1974)
    “Going All the Way” (1997)
    “Going Berserk” (1983)
    “The Great Waldo Pepper” (1975)
    “Holiday Favorites: Vol. 1-5″ (1952 – 1954)
    “House of Voices” (2004)
    “How to Frame a Figg” (1971)
    “I’m Not Rappaport” (1996)
    “Imagining Argentina” (2003)
    “Invaders from Mars” (1986)
    “Ishtar” (1987)
    “Joe Gould’s Secret” (2000)
    “Joe Kidd” (1972)
    “Johnny Mnemonic” (1995)
    “Killer at Large” (2008)
    “King of the Hill” (1993)
    “Lonely Hearts” (2006)
    “Loser” (2000)
    “Magic Trip” (2011)
    “Magicians” (2007)
    “The Man Who Cried” (2001)
    “Mission Impossible III” (2006)
    “Minnie and Moskowitz” (1971)
    “Monkey Shines” (1988)
    “Mr. Mom” (1983)
    “A Murder of Crows” (1999)
    “Night of the Creeps” (1986)
    “Opal Dream” (2006)
    “The Other Side of the Mountain” (1975)
    “The Other Side of the Mountain, Part 2″ (1978)
    “Our City Dreams (2008)
    “Pandaemonium” (2000)
    “The Paper Chase” (1973)
    “Paper Soldiers” (2002)
    “Paradise Alley” (1978)
    “The Parole Officer” (2001)
    “The Pirates of Penzance” (1983)
    “Prairie Love” (2011)
    “The Presidio” (1988)
    “The Promise” (1979)
    “The Proposition” (1998)
    “Ram Dass: Fierce Grace” (2001)
    “Reds” (1981)
    “Restless City” (2011)
    “The Return of Count Yorga” (1971)
    “RoboCop 2″ (1990)
    “School Ties” (1992)
    “The Sci-Fi Boys” (2006)
    “The Serpent and the Rainbow” (1988)
    “Set Up” (2011)”
    “Spice World” (1998)
    “Star Trek: Generations” (1994)
    “Steel Magnolias” (2012)
    “Summer Rental” (1985)
    “Swashbuckler” (1976)
    “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)
    “They Might Be Giants” (1971)
    “The Untouchables” (1987)
    “Thursday” (1998)
    “Uptown Girls” (2003)
    “The Vampire Lovers” (1970)
    “Walker” (1987)
    “W.C. Fields and Me” (1976)
    “Year of the Horse: Neil Young & Crazy Horse Live” (1997)
    “Young Sherlock Holmes” (1985)

  • The Regeneration Generation: A Conversation With Bob Hariri, Vice-Chairman and Co-Founder of Human Longevity Inc.
    Bob Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., is the vice chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell-therapy diagnostics and therapeutics company he co-founded in 2013 with Craig Venter and Peter Diamandis, which is focused on extending the healthy, high-performance human lifespan. Utilizing technological advancements in genomics, bioinformatics, computing and cell therapy, HLI plans to develop therapeutic solutions to some of the most complex yet actionable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and dementia. A recipient of the Thomas Alva Edison Award in 2007 and 2011, the former CEO of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, and one of the pioneers of the global cell-therapy industry, Bob recently sat down with me to discuss his current work on the frontiers of aging and cellular science.

    You’ve formed one of the most provocative and promising companies working in the cellular sciences. How did you get together with Craig Venter and Peter Diamandis of the X PRIZE?

    I am very fortunate to have two remarkable visionary friends in Craig and Peter. I have admired the work that Craig has done in the broad landscape of genomics and synthetic biology and have always been inspired by his pioneering approach as an entrepreneur. Peter is one of my closest friends, and I have marveled at how he has, virtually single-handedly, reinvented incentivized competition, catalyzing a new generation of cutting-edge businesses. The three of us realized that we shared many common passions, among which was a desire to impact human health and society by exploring aging as a targetable disease. All of us have ventured, failed and succeeded by seeking to answer scientific questions based in real-world experience and offering solutions. We all took paths that were challenged, in some cases ridiculed and rejected, by established scientific institutions. In part that’s because invention without relevance or context has less impact than true innovation. We all saw aging as an opportunity to innovate, not as an obstacle to human progress and prosperity.

    What is the mission for Human Longevity?

    Our mission is to extend the healthy lifespan by developing high-resolution diagnostics and stem-cell-based therapies. The tools we will develop are designed to attack the sources of premature death at the genomic and molecular level that are also linked and can be used to preserve and enhance cognitive function, physical capacity and overall vitality.

    Can you tell me what the day-in, day-out working relationship with Craig and Peter is like? How do you collaborate?

    For me, it is both a privilege and a humbling experience being part of a team with Craig and Peter. The raw genius of my two partners is staggering. What makes it all the more exciting is the depth and breadth of their interests, passions and personalities. We are very much alike. We are close friends, and we are optimists and hard workers. And all of us are more interested in getting things done than in taking credit for something. We work well together because we don’t see scientific failure or being wrong as setbacks but as teachable events. As a team, we are all very comfortable with risk and that makes the work environment at HLI the hottest show in town.

    Can stem cells prevent aging and even turn back the clock?

    We believe that stem cells that are functioning well can play an important role in extending health and improving physical and cognitive performance and cosmetic vitality. Our work in stem cells has shown that if you can identify and measure individual variation for specific markers of disease at particular ages, you can identify the factors that predict the variability in how cells change over the lifespan. Then, using the information derived by interrogation of the genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, we can tailor treatments to how individuals get sick and improve their health.

    You have an innovative business model that will tap the power of the world’s most comprehensive database on human genotypes and phenotypes. Can you tell me how this data will be applied?

    We are not simply a data company. Some press accounts claim that we are engaging in “big science” and will compete with other institutes that are creating their own sequencing centers.

    We recognize that most discoveries are the result of small groups taking completely novel approaches and sharing their findings. Instead, we are going to generate the most comprehensive and complete human genotype, microbiome, and phenotype database, identify the most creative people and give them the freedom to make their own affiliations.

    Will HLI commercialize therapy products for aging? What is the game plan for the years ahead?

    In order to develop the tools designed to attack the sources of premature death at the genomic and molecular level that are also linked and can be used to preserve and enhance cognitive function, physical capacity and overall vitality, we need data. So our goal over the next year is to accumulate the largest genomics data set. Our goal is to sequence over 1 million full human genomes, microbiomes, MRI body-image scans, metabolomes, etc. We will commercialize therapies for diseases that are associated with the biological and molecular breakdown associated with aging. And we will develop a preventive healthcare model that will take baseline measures of stem-cell function, monitor that in real time and correct any drift from optimal activity with stem-cell therapy.

    Do you plan to commercialize therapies outside the confines of the traditional drug-discovery and -development model?

    I have always said that placental stem cells were the platform for developing products and personalized medicine outside of the one-receptor/one-target/one-drug model.

    When I started Anthrogenesis (which became Celgene Cellular Therapeutics in 2003), I wanted to show that the placenta was not just the best source of stem and progenitor cells and biomaterials, but that the unique biology of the organ was the source of tremendous therapeutic potential. We’ve shown that placental cells and the extracellular-matrix scaffolding biomaterials can be produced in such quantities and consistency that doctors could use them the same way they prescribe small molecules or biologic agents. HLI will be able to program stem cells to both modulate and stimulate cell functions to treat disease and extend healthy aging.

    In what areas do you expect to make the first breakthroughs?

    I can’t predict what HLI will commercialize first. We will follow the science. That said, we believe that we’ve just scratched the surface of what the combination of digitized DNA and biological data and stem cells can do for the human condition.

    Longevity is a red-hot field in medicine, and many companies are jumping into the mix. How do you feel about Google’s Calico venture? Are they competition for you?

    We are thrilled and excited that a remarkable company like Google has invested so actively in biomedicine and see Calico as part of what will be a rapidly expanding enterprise of age management or wellness. I hope there are many more companies who participate in helping people live longer, healthier lives.

    Can you tell me about the partnership between HLI and Celgene? What do you hope to accomplish?

    HLI just signed an agreement with Celgene Cellular Therapeutics (CCT) to license, develop, and co-promote one of Celgene’s proprietary placental-cell population, PSC-100, in age-related clinical indications.

    We have the opportunity to explore a variety of applications for this unique cell population, including sarcopenia, a condition associated with aging characterized by degenerative loss of skeletal muscle mass, quality, and strength. Celgene has also made an equity investment in HLI.

    If you had a crystal ball, what does the future hold for cellular therapies and aging? What do you think the field looks like 20 years from now?

    I believe stem-cell innovations will have a quantum impact on the kind of people we can be. Throughout our short history on this planet, our progress can be measured by our ability to thrive. By this, I don’t just mean the fact that we will live longer and live better or that, as a result, we will spend less on health care. Rather, I believe the technological and physical evolution of our species will increase the capacity to share, and to be more flexible, inventive and determined in the face of uncertainty.

    These citizens of this new way of life will be known as “the regeneration generation.”

    The regeneration generation will be able to tackle challenges and pursue endeavors consistent with the speed by which new paths are discovered and imagined. Living longer at a time when the supply of ideas and inventions increase more quickly will exponentially increase the opportunity to pursue many more possibilities.

  • Crush Cyber Monday With These 3 Tricks
    If you plan to go online on Cyber Monday to score some deals for your holiday shopping, you’re not alone. Last year, 131 million people shopped online during the Monday following Thanksgiving, according to USA Today, spending nearly $2.29 billion.

    For this year, we tested out some of the best online tools to make Cyber Monday a little less hectic for you. We also spoke to consumer expert Andrea Woroch to get some tips on how to optimize your online shopping.

    1. Prepare Sunday Night

    Do some research over the weekend before you go online on Monday. You can start your search with our partners at DealNews, a site that spends all year researching the best sales.

    Make a list of what you want in a draft in your email or as a Google Doc. Woroch recommends bookmarking pages and saving your payment information on sites you’ll know you’ll be using.

    gift card granny
    Visit a site like Gift Card Granny if you plan to spend a lot at one store for Cyber Monday.

    If you know you’ll be shopping at a certain site, one way to save money is to buy a discounted gift card ahead of time. Sites like Gift Card Granny sell people’s unwanted gift cards, and you can save anywhere from 3 to 70 percent.

    2. Download A Price Comparison Tool

    Even with a bunch of research into the best deals on Cyber Monday, you may still be spending too much. Make sure you’re truly getting the best price by downloading a price comparison browser extension. One of the best free ones out there is PriceBlink — not only because it browses the most number of trusted online merchants, but also because it combines many functions of other sites into one single tool.

    cyber monday priceblink
    PriceBlink automatically checks prices on an item you’re viewing.

    Whenever you are on a product page, a yellow bar will pop up and notify you if your item is listed for less on over 11,000 stores across the web. Where PriceBlink stands out from other price comparison extensions is that it also shows a chart of price trends, so you can see if it’s truly the right time to buy.

    priceblink savings
    PriceBlink lets you click directly to cheaper retailers and view price history.

    If you add an item to your Wish List (another button in the browser), PriceBlink will notify you if the item’s price drops in the future — something PoachIt.com, an app and browser extension, is also well-recognized for. PriceBlink also gives you coupon codes. It’s available for Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

    3. Look For Automatic Coupon Codes

    A lot of sites offer discount codes in the lead up to Cyber Monday. You can find some of them using PriceBlink, but other extensions are helpful in this department as well. Honey for Google Chrome or Coupons Helper for Firefox are two we recommend. Both browser extensions will automatically apply coupons to items in your cart.

    Woroch said her favorite coupon site is Coupon Sherpa because it allows you to search by store and product categories. While many sites have outdated codes that don’t work anymore, Coupon Sherpa is backed by a team that curates and categorizes sales, she said.

    coupon sherpa
    Coupon Sherpa offers in-store and online discount codes.

    If you’re going to be buying a lot and often, you might want to sign up for a service like Freeshipping.com. The subscription service is similar to Amazon Prime, and offers free shipping from retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Sears and cash back for a monthly fee of $13.

    And if you need to meet a minimum order to get free shipping from a major retailer, Woroch suggests checking whether the company offers in-store pickup for free.

    Happy shopping!

  • Cheap iPhone Supposedly Getting The Ax From Apple
    Phil Schiller, Apple’s marketing chief, stood on stage at the company’s headquarters in California last year and introduced the iPhone 5C, the “cheap,” colorful plastic iPhone. “Everyone’s really excited about this,” he said.

    Actually, they weren’t.

    Starting at $99 on contract and $549 off contract in the U.S., the 5C was supposed to be Apple’s “budget” phone. It was meant to appeal to people in emerging markets like China and India.

    But it turned out people all over the world were much more excited about the pricier iPhone 5S, which outsold the 5C in some places by margins as high as 5 to 1 in the days after the launch, and 2 to 1 in the U.S. in the months after.

    Now, a new rumor says the 5C may be going the way of the dodo.

    MacRumors, citing a report in Taiwan’s Industrial and Commercial Times, reports that Apple may discontinue production of the iPhone 5C in the middle of next year.

    This is only a rumor. And it’s unclear, of course, if Apple will stop selling the phone at that time or at any point before it announces a new phone. Apple did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

    If the company does stop selling the 5C halfway through next year, it would be a departure from its typical strategy — Apple tends to stop selling the entry-level iPhone when a new phone is announced in the fall, not in the middle of the year. But Apple seems like it’s already scaling back the 5C — it didn’t update the phone in the fall, and the only version of the 5C available on Apple’s website is the 8-gigabyte model. In the U.S., it’s free with a two-year contract or $450 without.

    None of this is actually bad for Apple. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, Apple’s flagship phones that came out in September, are breaking sales records. Neil Cybart, an Apple analyst who blogs at Above Avalon, estimates that the company will break another record this quarter and sell a whopping 68 million iPhones, a 33.3 percent increase over the same period last year.

    With the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple did the opposite of what it did last year — it actually raised the price of the iPhone. The 6 Plus starts at $299 on contract ($749 off contract) for a 16-gigabyte model. But many people have opted for the 64-gigabyte version of the phone, paying $399 ($849 off contract).

  • Keira Knightley Knows 'The Imitation Game' Has 'A Lot Of Inaccuracies'
    Few fact-based dramas escape criticism of historical inaccuracy, and “The Imitation Game” is no exception. Based on the life of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), the mathematician who broke the Nazi’s Enigma Code during World War II, effectively changing the course of the war, “The Imitation Game” has been under fire since June for its depiction of Turing’s homosexuality and his relationship with Joan Clarke. But Keira Knightley, who plays Clarke — Turing’s fiancée and fellow code-breaker — in the film, has had no shame in admitting to the various discrepancies between real life and the finished feature.

    “As far as her relationship with Alan, they were engaged. They were great, great friends. She was at the center of the breaking of the Enigma Code,” Knightley told HuffPost Entertainment during an interview in October. Yet the actress admitted flat out that things had to be changed for various reasons. “There are a lot of inaccuracies in the film as to life. What was actually said, and the reasons that they actually got engaged, I think are slightly different than the film,”

    Knightley, 29, said that the focus of “The Imitation Game” was the story behind cracking the code, not just the history of Clarke and Turing’s relationship. “If you’re making a film just about that period and just about the reasons he asked her to marry him,” Knightley said, “then I think you can really go into the truth of it. But unfortunately you’ve got two and a half hours and what you’re doing is trying to tell a bigger story, so you have to pick and choose. I think what we’re trying to get to is the essence of what it was. And at that time with Alan, to my knowledge, he didn’t have another affair, or an affair actually, with a man. His big friendship was with a woman and he did ask her to marry him.”

    imitation knightley

    The dramatic license extended to Clarke’s backstory as well. The film shows her arriving at Bletchley Park, the location of the British government’s code-breaking operation, after solving a crossword puzzle to pass Turing’s test. Instead, Clarke’s Oxford professor helped push her into the program (though the government did recruit people at the time using crossword puzzles).

    Another liberty is taken with Clarke’s parents, who are shown objecting to her work at Bletchley Park since the government school mostly employed men. “The whole thing with the family isn’t, to my knowledge, true,” Knightley said. “It was sort of put there to show what she was up against as far as society goes.”

    But that struggle was inherent in Clarke’s story already: “They ended up putting her in as a linguist even though she didn’t speak any other language in order to try and get her a bit more money,” Knightley said. “I think that’s fascinating because that’s still the center of the feminist movement today: a place at the table and equal pay. And we’re talking about the 1940s, and now it’s 2014 and obviously women’s rights are better, but not best.”

    And yet while many of the facts about Turing and Clarke were massaged for “The Imitation Game,” Knightley — who has made her fair share of historical dramas in the past, including “The Duchess” and “A Dangerous Method” — doesn’t really mind the variations. “In all of these stories, often truth in filmmaking, it’s not a documentary,” she said. “It is a drama, so ultimately you have to go for the drama.”

    Which is what “The Imitation Game” tries to accomplish, enlightening audiences on the story of the so-called father of theoretical computer science above all else. As Knightley said, the film emphasizes aspects of Turing’s life related to the breaking of the Enigma cipher as “the most extraordinary thing that he did.”

    “The Imitation Game” opens Nov. 28.

  • The Dybbuk Inside My iPhone
    Since I discovered the voice-enabled texting function on my iPhone, I have been texting like a teen, sending lengthy missives to my friends’ and associates’ cell phones at a prodigious rate and speed.

    As fellow texters can attest, the glitch in the system is Auto-Correct, a function I cannot seem to disable. Throw in my penchant for speaking quickly and constantly, with a higher-than-average usage of Yiddish, Hebrew and otherwise foreign phrases, and you get a one-woman factory of unintentionally hilarious or inane text messages.

    Gathering Auto-Correct fails has become a business of its own with sites like Damn You, Auto Correct serving as the Breaking News portal on the front line of this contemporary trend,.

    But between bouts of hysterical laughter or cringing embarrassment, I have noticed that my AutoCorrect does more than mangle the meaning of my words.

    It provides an often eerily psychic service, offering up insight, midrash, candor and submerged truth instead of my glib spoken words.

    Overriding my vocalizations, my personal AutoCorrect serves as a cyber-Ouija-board, spelling out that which I am trying to ignore, forcing me into a direct confrontation with reality.

    Once a sporadic phenomenon, my iPhone’s psychic powers have grown, along with its chutzpah. Shyly offering up its findings at the beginning, it is now fully empowered to zap me with whatever what it believes I need to confront in my life.

    For instance, earlier this week, when I texted a friend about a client who has been verbally abusive, his first name appeared as “enemy.” Staring at the word in its text box, I realized that the time had come to sever this business relationship.

    Further on the subject of work-related intervention, AutoCorrect changed my chirpy “I can do that,” to “I can’t do that,” when an unreasonable demand was recently placed on me.

    While I am inclined to be diplomatic, my iPhone steers me towards radical honesty. Though seeking to soothe a friend who had put on significant weight, the word “fabulous” appeared as “fat ass,” forcing me to reconsider whether I needed to lie.

    An insincere compliment for an unappetizing dinner was revealed as phony when “marvelous” became “mob violence.” And the exclamation “Oops!” appeared as “Boobs” when talking to a busty friend about what she should wear to a work event. When I saw the word, after shrieking with laughter, I realized I was trying to figure out how to tell her to avoid plunging necklines.

    While I am being evasive, my iPhone forces candor; texting my husband as to my whereabouts late one night, my claim that I was leaving the gym suddenly turned into a marriage-imperiling “leaving with him,” which was creepy, given that I had been schmoozing in the lobby of the JCC with a mutual friend for the previous hour. When I was trying to dissuade a relative from dropping by during the day by claiming that I was “not home,” the words “I’m home” wrote themselves instead.

    When I am troubled by something, my iPhone finds ways to let me know that IT knows: on a day I was very sad, the word “cold outside” turned into “suicide.” Another such time “coming home” became “me alone.”

    The standard Hebrew proclamation Mazel Tov, rendered upon the news of a difficult (but healthy) birth became “muscle tough,” which was entirely accurate from the mother’s point of view and the salutation Chag Sameach, which means Happy Holiday morphed into “hog some ass,” which is essentially what takes place on most Jewish holidays.

    Indeed, “Hog some ass” so appropriately captures the spirit of the day that it has become my standard tongue-in-cheek greeting on the eve of all holidays, Jewish or otherwise.

    I could go on and if I were speaking this post by voice-enabled text message, my psychic AutoCorrect would turn it into something else, I am sure.

    Or maybe it would leave this one thing alone, as I am finally reporting the truth.

    Though I’ve claimed that there is a Dybbuk inside my iPhone, I realize that nothing sinister or nefarious is going on.

    On the contrary, whatever force is possessing my iPhone appears to know me better than I know myself.

    It know that I need to extricate myself from an abusive client and decided to help me come to that decision by pointing out the truth about the business relationship.

    Thanks, iPhone. Or AutoCorrect.

    That is what a good friend would do.

  • Elonis v. US: Are 'We the People' Useful Idiots in the Digital Age?
    Back in the heyday of the old Soviet Union, a phrase evolved to describe gullible western intellectuals who came to visit Russia and failed to notice the human and other costs of building a communist utopia. The phrase was “useful idiots” and it applied to a good many people who should have known better…That’s you and me, folks, and it’s how the masters of the digital universe see us…They hear us whingeing about privacy, security, surveillance, etc., but notice that despite our complaints and suspicions, we appear to do nothing about it.– John Naughton, The Guardian

    “Who needs direct repression,” asked philosopher Slavoj Zizek, “when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?”

    In an Orwellian age where war equals peace, surveillance equals safety, and tolerance equals intolerance of uncomfortable truths and politically incorrect ideas, “we the people” have gotten very good at walking freely into the slaughterhouse, all the while convincing ourselves that the prison walls enclosing us within the American police state are there for our protection.

    Call it doublespeak, call it hypocrisy, call it delusion, call it whatever you like, but the fact remains that while we claim to value freedom, privacy, individuality, equality, diversity, accountability, and government transparency, our actions and those of our government overseers contradict these much-vaunted principles at every turn.

    For instance, we disdain the jaded mindset of the Washington elite, and yet we continue to re-elect politicians who lie, cheat and steal. We chafe at taxpayer-funded pork barrel legislation, and yet we pay our taxes meekly and without raising a fuss of any kind. We object to the militarization of our local police forces and their increasingly battlefield mindset, and yet we do little more than shrug our shoulders over SWAT team raids and police shootings of unarmed citizens.

    And then there’s our love-hate affair with technology, which sees us bristling at the government’s efforts to monitor our Internet activities, listen in on our phone calls, read our emails, track our every movement, and punish us for what we say on social media, and yet we keep using these very same technologies all the while doing nothing about the government’s encroachments on our rights.

    So the government continues to betray our trust, invade our privacy, and abuse our rights, and we keep going back for more?

    Sure we do. After all, the alternative — taking a stand, raising a ruckus, demanding change, refusing to cooperate, engaging in civil disobedience — is a lot of work. What we fail to realize, however, is that by tacitly allowing these violations to continue, we not only empower the tyrant but we feed the monster. In this way, as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, what starts off as small, occasional encroachments on our rights, justified in the name of greater safety, becomes routine, wide-ranging abuses so entrenched as to make reform all but impossible.

    First, the government lures us in with a scheme to make our lives better, our families safer, and our communities more secure, and then once we buy into it, they slam the trap closed. Doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about militarized police, private prisons, red light cameras, DNA databases, surveillance cameras, or zero tolerance policies — they all result in “we the people” being turned into enemy #1.

    In this way, the government campaign to spy on our phone calls, letters and emails was sold to the American people as a necessary tool in the war on terror. Instead of targeting terrorists, however, the government has turned us into potential terrorists, so that if we dare say the wrong thing in a phone call, letter, email or on the Internet, especially social media, we end up investigated, charged and possibly jailed.

    This criminalization of free speech, which is exactly what the government’s prosecution of those who say the “wrong” thing using an electronic medium amounts to, is at the heart of Elonis v. The United States, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

    If you happen to be one of the 1.31 billion individuals who use Facebook or one of the 255 million who tweet their personal and political views on Twitter, you might want to pay close attention, because the case has broad First Amendment implications for where the government can draw the line when it comes to expressive speech that is protected and permissible versus speech that could be interpreted as connoting a criminal intent.

    The case arose after Anthony Elonis, an aspiring rap artist, used personal material from his life as source material and inspiration for rap lyrics which he then shared on Facebook. For instance, shortly after Elonis’ wife left him and he was fired from his job, his lyrics included references to killing his ex-wife, shooting a classroom of kindergarten children, and blowing up an FBI agent who had opened an investigation into his postings. Despite the fact that Elonis routinely accompanied his Facebook posts with disclaimers that his lyrics were fictitious, he was charged with making unlawful threats and sentenced to 44 months in jail.

    Elonis is not the only Facebook user to be targeted for the content of his posts. Indeed, the common thread running through the growing number of cases like Elonis is the use of social media to voice frustration, grievances, and anger, sometimes using language that is overtly violent. These cyber “public squares” may be the only forum left for citizens to freely speak their minds and exercise their First Amendment rights.

    Unfortunately, the Internet has become a tool for the government to monitor, control and punish the populace for behavior and speech that may be controversial but are far from criminal. Indeed, the government, a master in the art of violence, intrusion, surveillance and criminalizing harmless activities, has repeatedly attempted to clamp down on First Amendment activity on the web and in social media under the various guises of fighting terrorism, discouraging cyberbullying, and combatting violence.

    We would do well to tread cautiously in how much authority we give the government to criminalize free speech activities and chill what has become a vital free speech forum. If free speech is not vigilantly protected, democracy is more likely to drift toward fear, repression, and violence. In such a scenario, we will find ourselves threatened with an even more pernicious injury than violence itself: the loss of liberty. In confronting these evils, more speech, not less, is the remedy.

  • The Real Reason Girls Don't Like to Code

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    I recently sat down for a visit with friend who is running a program focused on STEM, and his insights into the boy/girl ratio were discouraging. “We offer coding camps and courses and work hard to get the word out to everyone. We send invitations to all of the girl-focused organizations. But last time, we only had one girl show up.  This time? None.”

    A study released by Google indicated that when girls aren’t familiar with technology, they view STEM as hard, difficult and boring. But here’s the thing: I honestly don’t believe that girls are turned off by STEM because it’s hard or simply because girls think they’re bad at math. Girls aren’t wimps or wilting flowers; they don’t shrink from challenges just because something isn’t a strength. When girls are inspired, when they believe the payoff is worth the risk, discomfort, fear or effort, they can be unrelenting in the pursuit of a goal. Self-doubt doesn’t stop a girl when she wants something bad enough.

    The problem isn’t that girls don’t think they can code; the problem is that they don’t want to code badly enough to get past any of their doubts or weaknesses. If you think about it, why shouldn’t girls be turned off? Think of what we see in movies, television — or in the news. The entertainment industry rarely portrays ”tech” characters with anyone young girls easily identity with; far too often those characters are either bad boy bro-culture or awkward misfits – neither of which are stereotypes that inspire girls to imagine themselves enjoying a career spent coding. And if you read tech news at all, you know how often it is filled with stories of badly behaving executives, unequal pay for women, and limited opportunities for funding for women in tech. We, as a culture, really aren’t doing a very good job of selling tech to girls.

    If we are going to get more girls into STEM and have them like it, I firmly believe we need to change the “why” of these programs and events. Consider that have girls have flocked to Girl Scouts for over a century, in large part, because Girl Scouts play to girls’ natural strengths of leadership and social problem-solving.

    We need to stop telling an entire gender they need to embrace STEM because it’s good for their brain or if they don’t, boys will get all the good, high-paying jobs. It’s not working, and I’m kind of glad, because it means girls aren’t buying the logic that they need to do something just because boys do. We need to play to girls’ strengths and invite them to participate in projects that create solutions for social issues or problems that they care about – and then offer accessible tech which empowers girls to stop thinking about doing STEM and just use the technology, developing skills along the way as a means to an end. When STEM is simply a set of skills and tools to help solve problems we care about, it takes the scary out of tech.

    Besides, girls most definitely embrace tech — think of the evolution of selfies since the introduction of camera phones, of Instagram videos and photos with powerful storytelling in the unique framing and juxtaposition of images, and even the storyboarding on Pinterest — all predominantly female audiences using tech as the background for their creative expression.

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    Our team at APPCityLife recently flew out to California as a technical sponsor for a local weekend challenge focused on solving congestion problems. When I asked one of the attendees, what motivated her and her companion to come to the event, she said, ”We don’t either one of us know how to develop apps, so we just showed up hoping someone else here would like our idea enough to take it for their own project and run with it.”

    I should add that she told me this as she stood next to me moments after she and her team were named the winners. She stood there smiling at her other two team members, shaking her head in dismay. “We won. We won,” she said. She paused and then said again, ”We won!”

    Imagine that.

    Imagine waking up early on a rainy Saturday morning to attend a local hackathon — and being willing to do that without any hope of participating in any meaningful way beyond attempting to convince someone else with the right skills to take your idea and run with it. But when she and her companion heard the announcement that our platform was available to attendees, they wanted to learn more. We initially developed our platform for our own needs of robust app development and management, but its user-friendly interface makes it more easily accessible for those without prior coding experience. The need for such a gateway platform in the civic space inspired us to begin opening it up to the public through events like that weekend’s hackathon.

    The couple attended our brief bootcamp and eventually teamed up with another attendee. For the rest of the weekend, the three worked under the mentoring of our team to build out their prototype mobile application and test the viability of the original ideas of a woman who believed her solution could improve the experience of riders while helping stimulate the local economy. She showed up with an idea and left with the understanding that she didn’t have to give her idea away to someone else with the right skills; she and her team could own it themselves and create their own solution.

    It has been one of my proudest moments in my company when we were able to celebrate the success of her team. It was something to realize we were able to offer a portal into this incredibly rich world of tech, and our team of mentors made that experience a positive, rewarding one.

    The response since the hackathon has been more than I expected. I was happy with an early win and validation, but I wasn’t expecting what followed. Invitations are starting to roll in for our team to bring our platform to civic and tech events across the U.S as well as Mexico City. We’ve entered very early conversations with a few educational institutions about launching gateway STEM programs. And we have already forged exciting new partnerships with inspiring groups like the Geek Girls Club of the YWCA of the City of New York, which, by the way, is also the oldest women’s organization in the U.S.. In fact, our team will host our first bootcamp of the year this coming January in the heart of New York City for high school girls who are actively exploring this rich, exciting world of STEM, whether by traditional means or something else in-between.

    The demand is high and growing rapidly. We’re a small startup, but we’ve already imagined great things that we simply got busy and made happen. I am committed to push forward with one of our more lofty goals — to empower those who have had little or no access or enough valid reasons to enter the world of STEM. I am hoping others will be inspired by our early wins – like when our civic bootcamp ended up with over 50 percent women in attendance – and that others will be inspired to support and join our efforts so we can begin to change the “why” for more girls and help shift the metrics just a bit more every time in the right direction. Together, I firmly believe that we erase the real and imagined barriers into tech by creating easier access to gateway platforms which lower the barrier of entry for so many groups who have believed themselves a poor fit for whatever reason within this world of STEM.

    That’s a pretty powerful “why”, don’t you think?

  • Why You Should Care That Tim Cook and Michael Sam Are Gay
    Have you heard the news that Apple CEO Tim Cook is gay? Are you thinking, “OK, was anybody asking?” or perhaps more pointedly, “Who gives a flying fuck?”? Then this blog post is for you!

    First, I have two guesses about who you are:

    1. You are not gay.
    2. You have not dealt with scores of people assuming that you, a straight person, are gay.

    How could I be so presumptuous? Actually, it’s easy:

    1. If you were gay, you would understand the importance of coming out.
    2. If you were straight but people were constantly assuming that you were gay, you would understand the importance of coming out.

    I’m being snarky, I know. It’s just that I get frustrated when I hear people criticize public figures for making announcements about their sexuality with sentiments akin to “I didn’t ask, and I don’t care.” There was a whole lot of this when Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL, came out prior to draft day.

    To be fair, the media made a ridiculous spectacle out of this story. Even I got tired of hearing about whether he would get chosen by a team and what that might or might not reveal about the NFL, but that was the media’s doing, not Sam’s.

    Which brings me to the reason I get so frustrated with people who feel that Sam and Cook didn’t need to make announcements about their sexuality. You see, there’s this thing that happens to gay folks who don’t fit the general stereotypes (i.e., the shaved-headed butch for women, and the dramatic, gesture-prone hairstylist or interior designer with a propensity for lilting Ss for men.) The thing that happens is that people assume we’re straight. I know because it happens to me, and I am neither particularly butch nor girly.

    Which leads to my next question : If it happens to me, how often do you think it would’ve happened to a guy like Michael Sam? I can tell you how often: all the time. And each time it happened, Sam would’ve had to make a split-second decision to either correct the inaccuracy or keep quiet. My friend’s wife, who is a very feminine, Hilary Swank-looking lesbian, has to make this decision when her real-estate clients see the rock on her ring finger and assume that she has a husband at home. If she chooses to correct them, she might lose their business or face hostility, but if she chooses to keep quiet, things can get tricky.

    Tricky how, you might ask? Well, imagine that you are conversing with someone and the person assumes that you live in a box. You do not, in fact, live in a box. You live in a house, but you don’t correct the person because, well, there are lots of people who don’t look kindly on houses, and besides, you had this same conversation yesterday with someone else, and you just don’t feel like doing it today. The next thing you know, the person begins asking you questions about the box you supposedly live in: Where did you get it? How do you like it? How long have you lived there? Do you and the box want to have kids? (OK, that last one only makes sense if the box is a husband, which it is in this analogy.)

    So, while it may be true that you personally never asked whether Michael Sam was gay, the odds are that most people who looked at him would’ve assumed he was straight, which means that his options were to either come out or to live with droves of people presuming his heterosexuality. Can you imagine how many questions he’d have to answer about his box?

    2014-11-22-photo.JPG

    When I came out to my mother many years ago, she struggled with the news for a time. She was afraid for me, afraid of what I might face if I lived openly. At one point she told me that I ought to keep the details of my “personal life” to myself. My sexuality was my business, nobody else’s, she said.

    In response, I asked her when was the last time she’d casually mentioned my father in a conversation. She did it all the time. “Nick and I went to the movies this weekend,” she might tell a co-worker on a Monday morning. Did she realize that she was talking about “her sexuality” every time she mentioned her husband? Of course not, because she was merely talking about her life, which is, like, a thing that people do, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need labels — straight, gay, bi, queer, trans — at all. Instead, people would just be people, but that’s not reality. We live in a world where individuals size each other up and make assumptions. As long as this continues, coming out is going to remain a necessity, especially for public figures.

    If you yearn for the time where people announce that they are gay and no media outlet is interested in running the story because, yawn, who cares, guess what: You’re not alone. Plenty of gay people yearn for that time too. Michael Sam and Tim Cook probably yearn for that time. I know I do, but we aren’t there yet.

  • 4 Great Online Tools for Music Lovers
    Music is the cornerstone of human culture. No matter who you are or what you do, a great song can make you feel happy. A certain track can remind you of unforgettable experiences, like your first kiss, honeymoon, or the birth of your child.

    In this new age of technology, you don’t have to listen to the same tunes every day or wait for the radio station to play that hit song you adore. Instead, you can access what you like right now and explore the newest sounds by upcoming artists.

    Here are four online tools to keep you connected with the music you love:

    2014-11-26-flvto.png

    1. Flvto
    Ever wanted to convert your favorite music videos to any format of your choice? Well, you’re in luck. Flvto does just that! This online tool converts from YouTube to MP3. Simply paste the YouTube video link into the text box and press the “Convert to” button. This YouTube converter takes only 15 seconds. Then, enjoy your music in high-quality sound.

    This downloadable software also converts lengthy videos, including entire YouTube playlists with up to 99 songs. MP4, AVI, and MOV are additional format options, and it can convert from SoundCloud, Vimeo, Dailymotion, and other music sites.

    Flvto offers to save your converted songs to Dropbox or to send them to your email. The service is available to people all over the world in 20 different languages.

    2014-11-26-8tracks.png

    2. 8tracks
    Ready to jam to something different today? 8tracks is a combo of Internet radio and social networking. It allows you to discover new music by searching through existing user-generated mixes. If you want to share your exceptional taste with others, you also can create your own personal mix.

    The music tool’s search ability is one of its core features. Every playlist comes with multiple tags. These tags are based on a mood, activity, music genre, or a combination of choices. By creating a unique combo of tags, you can find your perfect playlist. 8tracks will definitely help you explore beyond your current taste in music.

    2014-11-26-hypemachine.png

    3. Hype Machine
    Stay up-to-date on the hottest music trends. Instead of subscribing to multiple blogs, you can check out Hype Machine. This website brings together all the popular music in one streamlined fashion. It aggregates the recent songs from a selection of music blogs and then lists them on its main page.

    Hype Machine’s new app works the same way. In addition, the app gives you the option to stream the music. This is a great tool to monitor music trends and find new music.

    2014-11-26-jog.fm.png

    4. jog.fm
    Pump up your workout routine! Find the right music for your run, jog, or walk with jog.fm. This app detects your running pace and plays the best songs automatically. No more searching through terrible songs to find the perfect one. Use the app to play your music from your iTunes library.

    It also learns your favorite tunes. If you skip a song enough, it won’t be played anymore. Stop spending precious hours crafting the perfect playlists. Let jog.fm handle it for you.

    The search is over! Use these great online tools for all your music obsessions.

    Images courtesy of each company’s website.

  • Uber CEO Must Reveal Emails In Lawsuit, Judge Rules
    By Dan Levine
    OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick must disclose some of his emails to plaintiff lawyers in a lawsuit accusing the car service of misleading customers about how it shares gratuities with drivers, a U.S. judge said on Wednesday.
    An Uber customer filed a proposed class action lawsuit against the company earlier this year, saying an advertised 20 percent gratuity is “false, misleading, and likely to deceive members of the public” because Uber keeps a substantial portion of the money.
    Uber’s business practices have come under scrutiny, with some customers alleging privacy violations. Earlier this month a senior Uber executive caused an uproar when he told journalists that Uber should consider hiring researchers to examine and disclose activities of media critics.
    Kalanick apologized for the executive’s comments and the company hired an outside law firm to review its privacy policies.
    In the driver gratuity lawsuit, plaintiff attorneys argued that Kalanick and other executives should disclose emails that contain evidence about Uber’s tipping practices.
    The company said that would be overly burdensome because such policies are set by the general manager in each city, which operate as their own “individual business,” according to a court filing.
    At a hearing on Wednesday in an Oakland, California federal court, U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu said Uber is a new startup with relatively few employees.
    Driver gratuities is an issue that Kalanick and other top executives “are likely to be involved in,” Ryu said.
    The case is Caren Ehret vs. Uber Technologies Inc in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-0113.

    (Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Richard Chang)

Mobile Technology News, November 26, 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.

  • Smartphone eye team in funds appeal
    The team behind a portable eye examination kit that uses smartphones is crowdfunding to raise funds for its new innovation.
  • HP revenues fails to impress markets
    Technology giant Hewlett-Packard’s fourth quarter earnings failed to impress investors ahead of its big business split next year.
  • Apple gadgets, accessories dominate Time's top 10 for 2014
    Time magazine has picked out its top 10 Gadgets list (among other Top 10s such as Video Games and Toys) for holiday season shoppers, and unsurprisingly Apple devices or accessories dominate the selection, taking four out of the 10 slots — the most of any single company. In a list that seems determined to rank some promising but nascent technology higher than one would expect, the rankings are puzzling for the surprising amount of “vaporware” on it — including its top choice, the coming-next-year Apple Watch.



  • VIDEO: The computer circuits made of slime
    Researchers at Plymouth University have built a musical bio-computer.
  • VIDEO: How to hack a molecular microscope
    A PhD student from Brunel University London has saved himself £100,000 by ‘hacking’ his own kit.
  • Pressure on Universal Credit’s digital service mounts as testing begins
    Risks remain for Universal Credit as DWP continues its twin-track gradual roll-out of live and digital services
  • VIDEO: Mobile showers for the homeless
    The San Francisco bus showering the city’s needy
  • VIDEO: Should online surveillance be wider?
    Technology companies have to do more to flag up terror threats on their websites, Prime Minister David Cameron has said.
  • Police Body Cameras Seen As A Fix For Ferguson-Style Killings
    WASHINGTON — Michael Brown’s family did not just decry a grand jury’s decision to bring no charges against the police officer who killed the 18-year-old on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. They also offered a solution — require all police to wear cameras on their bodies.

    “While we understand that many others share our pain, we ask that you channel your frustration in ways that will make a positive change. We need to work together to fix the system that allowed this to happen,” the Brown family said in a statement Monday night.

    “Join with us in our campaign to ensure that every police officer working the streets in this country wears a body camera,” they said.

    It’s an idea that has gained momentum since police Officer Darren Wilson gunned down Michael Brown Jr. in August, with witnesses offering differing accounts of what happened. Ferguson police started using the cameras shortly after the killing, and departments across the country have been trying them out, including Dallas and New York City. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called for deploying the cameras broadly, as well.

    The cameras, which can be worn on sunglasses or clipped to a shirt, have won the backing of both civil libertarians and police groups. Civil liberties advocates argue that video records prevent cops from abusing their authority, while law enforcement groups note that a person cannot falsely accuse an officer if their encounter is recorded.

    A recent study commissioned by the Police Foundation, an organization devoted to law enforcement research, found that the devices dramatically lowered complaints of police abuse.

    In the study, about half the police force in Rialto, California, wore cameras during patrols for a year. At the end, there were just three complaints of excessive force against the officers — down from 28 in the previous 12 months.

    “The findings suggest more than a 50 percent reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions, and nearly 10 times more citizens’ complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment,” the report said.

    Other experts, including those at the Department of Justice, have reached similar conclusions.

    Use of the cameras does have downsides, however. There are no across-the-board standards for how and when the devices should be used, or for how the footage created should be used. It is possible for police to tamper with the recordings, or to simply refuse to turn on the cameras. A recent investigation by the Times-Picayune in New Orleans found cameras often were not used when they should have been.

    Privacy advocates have also raised concerns, noting that storing such videos is open to potential abuse, with the possibility of potentially embarrassing encounters winding up on the Internet. The technology also may eventually be paired with other investigative tools, such as facial recognition software, opening up the chance for even greater surveillance of law-abiding citizens.

    More On Ferguson From HuffPost:

    Photographic Evidence Reveals | ‘First Year Law Student Could Have Done Better Job’ | 61 Arrested | Ferguson Smolders After Night Of Fires | Protest Locations | Americans Deeply Divided | Police Chief: ‘Worse Than The Worst Night We Had In August’ | What You Can Do | Darren Wilson Interview | Darren Wilson Could Still Face Consequences | Timeline | Students Protest | Photos Of Darren Wilson’s Injuries Released | Shooting Witness Admitted Racism In Journal | Peaceful Responses Show The U.S. At Its Best | Reactions To Ferguson Decision | Prosecutor Gives Bizarre Press Conference | Notable Black Figures React | Jury Witness: ‘By The Time I Saw His Hands In The Air, He Got Shot’ | Thousands Protest Nationwide |

  • New Yorkers, Times Have Changed: Charge Your Car or Fill It Up?
    Electric vehicles are getting a lot more efficient and popular to drive in New York City.

    Did you know there are more than 150 commercial electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Manhattan, as listed in the online database PlugShare, compared with only 39 gas stations, according to a Wall Street Journal Analysis of New York Department of Finance Records. A decade ago, there were 60 gas stations, but station owners are making more money now by selling their high-value Manhattan real estate than by selling gasoline. Could this signal a new era of electric transport in the city?

    Just inside the entrance to Time Warner Shops at Columbus Circle, a young couple strolling with their morning coffees stops in their tracks when they see a sexy, red sports car. The woman bends over to touch the shiny car, a brand new Tesla Model S. On the other side of the car, the man taps a touch screen that gives more information about its specifications and offers him a test drive right out of the mall’s basement parking garage. As they discover that the sports car is actually an electric vehicle (EV), their eyebrows raise with delight. Another pair passing by notices their amusement and curiously stops their shopping to examine the display too. Their new interest in the spiffy car parallels a gradual transformation occurring in automobile transport in New York City.

    ALL IMAGES © 2014 Maya Albanese Photography, All Rights Reserved.

    2014-11-25-ClientsLookingatTeslaModel.jpg
    A couple stops to check out a Tesla Motors Model S on display at Time Warner Center Shops in Manhattan.

    In July of this year, 11,500 electric cars were sold in the U.S. compared to 7,500 in July 2013, a 35 percent increase year over year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. There are purchase options on the market that appeal to a variety of consumers: 20 different all-electric models from a dozen different brands- BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Volkswagen, Fiat, Kia, Nissan, Tesla, and Smart Car- that range in price from $23,000 to $100,000+.

    The increase in EV ownership is mirrored by an expansion of car charging infrastructure in NYC. One year after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of ChargeNY, a program to invest in 3,000 EV charging stations across the state by 2018, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) says that 500 new stations have already been installed. In the last month, the NYPA and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) unveiled ten new charging stations in White Plains and two at Niagara Falls International Airport.

    “Local and federal politicians have supported electric charging in Manhattan, and as electric vehicles become more common, the network will organically grow to support them,” said Will Nicholas, a Tesla Motors spokesperson.

    Tesla is a luxury EV manufacturer, founded in 2003 by billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk, a former co-founder of PayPal. It sells EV’s online and in company-owned showrooms, a significant departure from the standard dealership sales system in the U.S. marketplace.

    The Tesla Model S starts at a base price of $71,000, and with add-ons, the cars generally drive off the lot in the range of $80,000 to $100,000. A BMW five-series car could be considered comparable in size and design at a price tag of closer to $60,000, but this is an impractical comparison since the core technology is different and the costs of maintenance and re-charging are much lower in a Tesla than in a conventional car that uses gasoline.

    The Internal Revenue Service offers up to $7,500 in tax credits for the purchase of an EV, and new research and development into battery technology should bring down prices in the near future. Tesla recently opened its Gigafactory in Nevada to facilitate the mass production of EV batteries and bring down their cost by at least 30 percent, which would make them competitive with mass-market automobiles.

    Just below the Tesla Model S display at Time Warner Shops, people rush in and out of the basement parking structure with bags and brief cases, seldom noticing the signage designating the area as an EV charging station. Tesla has installed a series of chargers in the garage across from a ChargePoint station. ChargePoint is the world’s largest network of EV charging stations and developed a mobile app to assist customers in locating 20,000+ stations. ChargePoint users can also calculate their greenhouse gas savings from driving an EV instead of a conventional car.

    The attendants working for Central Parking Company watch carefully for EV drivers in case they need to clear the parking spots with chargers for them. “We see maybe two to three people come in to charge an EV each day; sometimes a BMW or a Porsche, but more often Tesla’s and Smart Cars. They’re fun to drive and they’re quiet,” explained Gelin, one of the attendants.

    Gelin hears a variety of feedback from his customers who drive EV’s, “I talked to one customer who drives a Smart Car, and she said it only costs her $4 to charge her battery to full.” This is noteworthy savings on the average $4 per gallon spent to fill a car with gasoline in the city.

    Gelin is hesitant to get an EV, “Driving back and forth in traffic in Manhattan every day, I wouldn’t want to keep having to charge it. I’d rather get a hybrid, so I at least have the option of using gas.”

    According to Nicholas, this is a misconception. When an electric car is idling, energy is only being used for peripheral functions like heating or air conditioning, whereas conventional vehicles burn gasoline while they idle. “In some instances, an electric car can be much more efficient than an internal combustion engine in congested driving situations,” says Nicholas.

    Third-party applications have been developed to support the increase in EV drivers and infrastructure. In 2010, a group of self-proclaimed “electric vehicle enthusiasts” developed an app called PlugShare, an interactive map that lists over 100,000 charging stations worldwide. PlugShare does not manufacture or operate its own charging stations, but rather is a database that enables more than 120,000 EV drivers to search and filter for the stations that best fit their needs, as well as review and comment on them.

    2014-11-25-ChargePointStation.jpg
    ChargePoint is a network of more than 20,000 EV chargers that can be searched on the company’s mobile app, or on PlugShare’s app.

    “What we discovered was that it’s not that the infrastructure didn’t exist, it’s that people just didn’t know it was out there,” said Forrest North, PlugShare’s Chief of Operations. PlugShare created the first comprehensive listing of stations and gave EV owners the option to share chargers in their own homes with each other. It has become another player in the “new sharing economy” pioneered by companies like ZipCar and AirBnb. According to North, approximately 10 percent of the plugs registered on the app are home chargers that people are sharing free-of-charge.

    PlugShare just announced new collaborations with auto dealers to make sure that their salespeople and customers are aware of the growing efficiency of driving an EV in the U.S.

    “Another barrier we noticed is that some dealers were not that well-informed on EV’s, and in some cases, they were even discouraging them. PlugShare will be integrated into the cars’ dashboard navigation systems, so EV’s will come with in-dash access to the largest mapped database of charging stations,” says North.

    Some critics still claim that EV’s are just as polluting as other cars, because electricity often comes from dirty power sources such as coal-burning plants. But, according to the latest Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report, the percentage of Americans getting electricity from coal has decreased over the last two years. Based on utility emissions data from the Environmental Protection Agency, UCS states that 60 percent of Americans now live in areas where EV’s contribute fewer greenhouse gas emissions per mile than even the most efficient hybrid cars.

    “Cars not only burn gas, they pollute and are detrimental to human health. From the day a car is sold, it only gets dirtier. With an EV, you can choose any source of electricity, now and in the future,” says North.

    Despite the ongoing environmental debate, PlugShare data shows that there are 417 commercial EV charging stations in the greater New York City metropolitan area. While commercial infrastructure is widely available, at-home charging remains the most popular option.

    “The vast majority of EV owners can charge at home or at their workplace. If they had a regular car, they’d need to go to gas station. You can’t install a gas station in your home,” says Forrest.

    In a city that is still recovering from the shock of empty gas pumps in the chaotic aftermath of Superstorm Sandy two years ago, there are obvious advantages to being free from reliance on the island’s declining gas stations.

  • The Structure Dilemma
    Are you a Diamond or Graphite?

    Clue? You could be either. It’s all a matter of organisation.

    The world of high growth tech start-ups typically revolves around speed and deft execution. Every day is an ongoing race to do things bigger and better; a day can blur into a week which blurs into a month, the only constant factor being change: product shipping, new team members joining (11 for us the other week!) and new offices opening. A break might consist of a meeting conducted over a brisk walk around the block, twice if you need to discuss something in detail. Juxtaposed against this permanent state of acceleration, Stream, with its no fixed schedule and anarchic approach, seemed both mysterious and alluring.

    I am not the typical start-up employee. I have adopted the start-up mentality as a way of life but, in the beginning, its fluctuating dynamics were foreign to me. I joined Percolate from Sotheby’s, the esteemed auction house and the oldest company traded on the NYSE. Naturally, it is a place deeply entrenched in tradition, and it is a very well-oiled machine. I worked in the Watches and Clocks department, where I spent my days with objects that were often several hundred years old, ranging from complex Patek Philippe watches similar to this one just sold last week, to vintage Rolexes, to utterly charming 19th century automatons, like this Ethiopian Caterpillar.

    When I arrived at Percolate, it was clear from the beginning that not only was rapid change a way of life for us internally, the media landscape was also changing dramatically. As I spent day after day sitting with clients and agency partners listening to their challenges in this evolving new world, everybody acutely felt the challenges that social and mobile had introduced to their marketing efforts in some way, shape or form. All of us in the industry are well aware that these factors have extraordinary, and difficult, implications for marketing, largely because the operational infrastructure that exists today does not support either this type of scale or pace of production and distribution.

    At Sotheby’s, when I was confronted with a problem, I had all the best restorers, herpetologists and ornithologists on speed dial to fix any problems that arose, no matter how rare or obscure. If I needed to identify a single feather on a 200 year old object, I knew who to call. Unfortunately, no such Rolodex existed in this brave new world. To be clear, there were many experts in marketing, in digital, in branding, and so on, but there was no roster of tried and true experts, in the sense that we were all contending with a very new landscape. We were watching the merging of two previously separate disciplines: marketing and technology, and the challenges we encountered simply hadn’t existed before.

    My most memorable and fruitful conversations with clients and agency partners in this context always revolved around the resulting new challenges; they often lingered on difficult questions with no clear answers, and they were always stimulating and thought provoking. I often wished that I could spend the entirety of these meetings only discussing these issues. They seemed to warrant much more time than simply the first 15 minutes of a meeting. To think of these challenges as merely context seemed to be a massive understatement to me.

    I wasn’t sure what to expect of Stream, but I knew in advance that there was something irresistible about its dialectical format, especially given it would take place in the birthplace of dialectics: Greece. My inner nerd was completely thrilled just hearing about this. Of course, I was also very curious having seen the attendee list, which drew from across a wide span of industries and roles. However, industry conferences often give me reason to hesitate, as I find those worthwhile attending are few and far between. Too often, keynote addresses can drag on as speakers on the conference circuit rehash presentations given multiple times at other conferences, and conversations are harried with everybody hurrying to exchange as many business cards as possible.

    Set aside the fact that there are no keynote presentations at Stream, and conventional powerpoints are in fact banned – what I quickly came to realize about Stream, additionally, was that it broke down a series of barriers, making it a very different conference experience, namely because:

    1. Conversations are off the record
    2. For better or worse, you are confined to a geographically limited space for an extended period of time
    3. Hierarchy is deconstructed with anybody hosting a discussion on any topic

    Moreover, the environment is designed for chemistry. The existence of only one coffee bar means that chance encounters are highly likely in the afternoon when jet lag kicks in. Communal dining means that somebody (anybody) could sit down next to you during lunch or dinner. These often yielded the best and most unexpected of conversations.

    The attendees of Stream, of course, are vital to this chemistry. I read an interesting blurb tucked into the back pages of the FT last week which referenced the research of Yale sociologist Professor Nicholas Christakis, who studies how people interact when they come together in groups. He uses an analogy to compare graphite to diamonds, thinking of humans as metaphorical carbon atoms, who can come together to form either substance, depending on how they are arranged.

    This insight cast light onto what I found to be the most remarkable aspect of Stream – that somehow, the Stream team had assembled a group of people, who when they came together, formed not merely a common substance like graphite, but something much rarer and brilliant, akin to a diamond. My initial inclinations around that attendee list were right on target; some of us may never have crossed paths outside of Stream, and most of us would never have wound up in the same place all at once, otherwise.

    There were a number of conversations about talent at Stream, but what wasn’t addressed was that while attracting and retaining talent when it comes to individuals is certainly a tough challenge, constructing groups and building teams to collaborate and work effectively together is perhaps even more difficult, and I would argue, even more important. As marketing merges with technology, it becomes increasingly important to collaborate across these disciplines that were once separate.

    The constant change which defines our industry today also requires constant creativity to deal with its ever evolving set of challenges. For the mind to contend with the unknown, it can benefit from the removal of parameters. What if there were no established way of doing things? What if you could discuss anything? What if you could create anything? I think of our annual hackdays at Percolate where the business and product teams come together to dream up new ideas and products, temporarily removed from any firm roadmap or client requests, and the unexpected, brilliant ideas that always emerge from it. Stream, similarly, was a unique environment, devoid for rules, for precisely this type of open ended discussion so important to navigating the difficult challenges we face today as an industry. I attribute its success to the chemistry and environment so thoughtfully constructed by the Stream team, not only in terms of format, but in terms of the group dynamics that would take shape over the weekend – it was no small feat.

    Thank you, Martin and Yossi, for inviting me. I hope you’ll invite me again!

  • Technology, Communication and Religion
    Many a pundit has suggested that the Internet has stirred — or is a symptom of — the greatest technological revolution since the dawn of the industrial age, or even the invention of the printing press in 1448. In fact, they could well be understating the impact of technological advances in all areas of our life, including our spiritual lives.

    Religious communities and all of the relationships therein are being reshaped with remarkable rapidity. Technology is creating greater symmetry in relationships between clergy and congregants and encouraging greater institutional transparency. Many of these changes are positive, while others, such as distractions within interpersonal interactions and the search for meaning, may be causing challenges.

    No matter one’s feelings about the interaction of religion and technology, religion is being pushed, cajoled, uplifted, and profoundly changed by the technological advances of our time and merits greater study.

    The two of us had the opportunity to join with the Reverend Paul Raushenbush, Executive Editor of Huffington Post Religion to more deeply examine the ways that changes in communication technology, and particularly the Internet, are affecting religion — from the vantage point of someone at the cutting edge in his presence within both spheres.

    In a time of change, what remains constant? Where does authority come from in a decentralized world? What are the implications of the “always-on” nature of public speech today? How has technology created new ways to pray?

    This video, and many similar reflections, are part of the Sinai and Synapses Discussion Forum, which is currently exploring the question, “Are We Using Technology or Is Technology Using Us?

    We look forward to your reactions and to continue the conversation about these ever-unfolding changes.

    VIDEOS

    Part 1: Who has authority?

    Part 2: New kinds of relationships

    Part 3: What does public speech look like now?

    Part 4: New ways to pray

    Full conversation:

  • Study validates Fitbit, doctors should consider prescribing to patients

    A study determines the accuracy of Fitbit’s step count and other metrics.

    The post Study validates Fitbit, doctors should consider prescribing to patients appeared first on iMedicalApps.

  • These Are Some Of The Best Deals On Headphones This Black Friday
    Headphones are the perfect gift for any tech lover this holiday season, and there are a whole lot of great deals on popular models right now. Typically, headphone prices range from reasonable to outrageous. But between Thanksgiving sales, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you should be able to get a good deal on a new pair.

    To help you out, we’ve chosen a few of the best sales of the year. All of the sales below are available online unless stated otherwise.

    skullcandy
    Skullcandy In-Ear Headphones
    Sale price: $8.88
    Original price: $18.88
    Store: Walmart
    Sale time: Starting Thursday 8 P.M., but unclear for how long.

    beats by dr dre beats solo
    Beats by Dr. Dre Beats Solo HD On-Ear Headphones
    Sale price: $80
    Original price: $152.99
    Store: Best Buy
    Sale time: Starting Thursday 5 P.M., but unclear for how long.

    bose
    Bose QuietComfort 3 Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones
    Sale price: $199.95
    Original price: $349.95
    Store: Bose
    Sale time: Now through Dec. 1, 2014, or while supplies last.

    bose
    Bose MIE2 mobile headset
    Sale price: $79.95
    Original price: $129.95
    Store: Bose
    Sale time: Now through Dec. 1, or while supplies last.

    beats studio wireless
    Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphone
    Sale price: $275
    Original price: $341.95
    Store: Amazon
    Sale time: Already on sale, but unclear for how long.

    sony
    Sony – Extra Bass Over-the-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
    Sale price: $99
    Original price: $199.99
    Store: BestBuy
    Sale time: Already on sale, but unclear for how long.

  • The Secret Lives of LinkedIn Users
    I have over 1,250 LinkedIn connections. Most people would consider me an active LinkedIn user. Still, I don’t have the faintest idea what I’m doing on LinkedIn. In search of answers, I surveyed hundreds of fellow users and asked them to describe what they do on LinkedIn. What astonished me was the distinction between their front stage and back stage behavior.

    “What do you say you do on LinkedIn?”

    1. Build my professional network.
    2. Document my work experiences.
    3. Showcase my technical capabilities.
    4. Promote my personal brand.
    5. Discover new career opportunities.
    6. Share my expertise.

    “What do you actually do on LinkedIn?”

    1. Admire my own profile.
    2. Debut a headshot that looks like my younger, better-looking sibling.
    3. Edit my headline and summary ad nauseam.
    4. Examine my credentials from the POV of my client/hiring manager.
    5. Discover who my top stalkers are.
    6. Neutralize their creepiness by stalking them back.
    7. View a hottie’s profile in the hopes that he or she reciprocates.
    8. Connect with attractive people for no other reason than they’re fun to stare at.
    9. Request to connect with my crush from college who I never met in person.
    10. Develop a sense of intimacy with Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Cuban, and other famous businesspeople who I’m following.
    11. Rub my accomplishments unapologetically in the faces of those who doubted me.
    12. Endorse borderline-strangers whose skills I know nothing about, with the expectation of receiving endorsements in exchange.

    Let’s connect on LinkedIn!

  • Here's Why Online Shopping Is The Way To Conquer Black Friday
    This week marks the joyous (or not-so-joyous) occasion known as Black Friday. There are so many deals we want to nab, our heads are spinning — and we haven’t even set the Thanksgiving table yet.

    The good news? Staying home in your turkey coma is a better way to get Black Friday deals than schlepping to a store. MUCH better.

    “I do not recommend anyone going to a physical store on Black Friday,” says Mark LoCastro of DealNews, a site that analyzes and confirms thousands of retail offers per day. “There’s no need to. The vast majority of in-store deals will be online in some shape or form.”

    Wait, how is shopping online the way to win Black Friday? A few reasons:

    1. “Doorbusters” exist in limited quantities.

    Those big deals you hear about prior to Black Friday may not be all that plentiful — it’s likely that only shoppers who camp out for days or show up extra-early will get them.

    Best Buy’s 50-inch Panasonic TV is the deal that has shoppers hyped this year, LoCastro says. But, “if you’re not one of the first twenty people in line, you’re not going to get it.” Indeed, a rep at our local Best Buy said she was “not allowed to disclose” how many of the TVs were in stock — and we have a feeling this spells bad news.

    2. There are comparable — if not better — deals online.

    While Best Buy’s big deal may be limited on the shelves, LoCastro points out, some of its other top deals — like a 55-inch Samsung for $900 off — are available online as early as RIGHT NOW.

    Similar principles apply to many of the other housewares we’re coveting: Retail expert Brad Wilson estimates that Kohl’s stellar KitchenAid mixer deal will be even better online than in stores, as he expects the Kohl’s website to offer an extra coupon for the mixer sometime on Thursday or Friday. And while crowds will mob Target for their Dyson vacuum doorbuster, you’ll find a Hoover vacuum for 50 percent off, just sitting on their website. We call that a win.

    3. You can hit tons of stores instead of just one.

    When you line up for a doorbuster, Wilson points out, you’re subjected to the few top deals at just one store. Online, the deals run far and deep — and nothing is off-limits.

    The one store you should hit, in fact, doesn’t even exist in brick and mortar: Amazon is offering a series of lightning deals all week, in which customers can score huge discounts on electronics, clothing and toys as often as every 10 minutes. By setting price alerts for the item you want and using comparison sites to figure out where it’s cheapest, you’ll be a much more savvier shopper online.

    4. And Thanksgiving is the new Black Friday, anyway.

    Times have changed — as the experts see it, Black Friday is no longer Black Friday. “The best deals are on Thanksgiving now,” Wilson says. And since we aren’t proponents of spending family holidays at the mall, we’ll stay home and click our way to deals early on Turkey Day morning. Then it’s on to the good stuff(ing)!

  • Top 10 Streaming Video Trends You Can Expect in 2015
    2014-11-24-StreamingMediaWest2014.png

    Serial entrepreneur and mobile consultant Hannah Bree Hanson and I were in attendance at the Streaming Media West Conference last week in Huntington Beach, CA. The event featured a veritable who’s-who of industry leaders including Verizon, Limelight Networks, Wowza, Skype, and NFL Now, Tivi, and Ramp.

    Here’s the top streaming video trends you can expect to see in 2015:

    1. Better Personalization:

    Video content providers are becoming obsessed with “meta-data”. It’s a buzzword becoming more popular and is driving the personalization and search industry. As NFL Now head Cory Mummford shared in his keynote speech, all 32 clubs are streamlining meta-data for the user.

    Cory Mummery of @NFL keynote at #smwest. How NFL Now automates #metadata for highlight vids. Plays have an ID, and Meta is map’d to video

    — Al Falaschi (@DigitalMediaAl) November 18, 2014

    This breaks down to specifics – videos are being better tagged so each viewer is getting exactly what they want in their video feed so they aren’t seeing junk. A Cowboys fan who has Peyton Manning and Arian Foster on his Fantasy team is only getting Cowboys highlights along with Manning and Foster, and in order of importance. Users will get what they want, when they want, in one linear feed.

    2. Higher Quality:

    With more broadcasters switching to 4k and Skype integrating its new product  Skype TX, technology and broadcasters are interested in serving the increased pixels that TV’s, phones and tablets are offering to consumers. Hardware companies are racing to compete for the best quality, and content providers are striving to provide video that will look clear and network quality. Skype stepped up to the challenge by providing Broadcasters with Skype TX starting in Sept of this year – with key partners like Oprah, Ted Talks, Ellen, and ESPN, it’s essential Skype provided it’s partners with a high quality solution that allowed hosts to engage with fans and influencers with better video quality.

    3. YouTube Influencers Promoting Brands:

    It’s no secret only a few brands have managed to harness the power of YouTube. Red Bull, Nike, and GoPro have managed to master the difficulty of pleasing the fickle Millenials subscribing to YouTube channels. But only six of the  top 100 YouTube channels are actually brands, which shows that corporations are behind the times. The real masters are single influencers creating channels and creating their own brands – with barely any funding.

    A few brands, such as Mountain Dew, have realized the power of these influencers and hired them to bring their fans over to their own brand. Although this trend hasn’t quite caught on most likely to fear of higher levels, brands need Millenial eye balls and Brendan Gahan, Founder of digital video marketing firm EpicSignal believes that this is the future of brands growing their presence on YouTube.

    4. The three M’s – Millenials, Multi-Culturals, and Mobile:

    Suzanne Rainey of Xposure Media shared that when it comes to streaming television, the networks are focused on these three M’s. Millenials are the trend setters, multi-culturals are growing in numbers, and mobile is becoming omnipresent. The networks have been focused on these three M’s, and it’s not likely to stop anytime soon.

    The Social Power of Millennials

    5. Improved Ad Experience:

    You may have noticed the ads on YouTube, Hulu, or any other streaming video service are beginning to improve. Testing across the industry has shown that pre-roll ads (the first ad that pops up) greatly annoys users, so “best practice” is to start showing pre-roll one out of every four video shown in succession.

     
    Users are going to start seeing more improvements such as this in the way ad content is being served. Not only are they going to get better ad timing, but better ads in general. Web ads in the past were limited due to contracts with actors and brands focused on serving their best to television. As more and more users cut the cord with cable, brands are evolving.

    6. Interactive Video:

    More tweets, more Facebook, and more stats will likely effect not only pre-recorded, but live streaming video. Broadcasters know that interacting with fans and the “bandwagon” effect pushes ratings higher, so infusing opinionated tweets from fans who likely agree with what everyone else is thinking is going to continue to dominate.

    7. Second Screen Experiences:

    You know you’re watching How to Get Away With Murder….but you’re also playing Candy Crush on your mobile phone. Although networks have given you a hash tag (#htgawm in this example) to use Twitter as a second screen platform, it’s likely you’ll start seeing more apps you can participate from – take quizzes, tweet, engage with other fans, and find out more about the show. It’s not enough you’re watching, you must be immersed in the experience! USA Network has been on the forefront, and other networks will follow.

    Stop by & meet the folks behind @TiviVideo truly interactive video streaming, booth 117 #smwest #TiviLaunch pic.twitter.com/0g3MGcaJp4

    — Tivi (@TiviVideo) November 18, 2014

    8. Streaming Video at Work:

    Streaming video isn’t just for watching your favorite shows and how to videos, it’s a tool companies are going to start adopting more at the office. With travel becoming more costly, traffic creating a less productive environment and grumpy employees, companies are likely to start using technology and  live streaming video as a solution for meetings for higher productivity. Companies are building internal video sharing platforms to share best practices to streamline work processes. Don’t be surprised if you’re videoing your day and sharing with a co-worker who shares your title across the globe.

    9. Your Favorite Shows Might Not Get Canceled:

    Nielsen announced that they’re going to start tracking streaming. Just now. This has been a huge battle with networks over the past several years as Nielsen has had a difficult time with its traditional methodology meshing with new technology. Some viewers watch their favorite series on streaming sites, which doesn’t give the full picture of just how popular some series are. Some fans have cut cable and watch on Hulu Plus, or might just start getting into a series on Netflix. Sherry Brennen, VP of Strategy and Sales at Fox Networks shared that Nielsen often reports low numbers on the night a show airs, but intenal numbers that tracks a show over 30-days across all platforms shows viewership consistency – and often rising.

    Overnight ratings no longer matter

    A May 2014 episode of the CBS drama “Person of Interest,” for instance, logged 10.499 million total viewers in Live + Same Day numbers. When Live + 7 Day is factored in, the episode drew 14.489 million total viewers, a 38 percent boost. Meanwhile, at NBC, both “The Blacklist” and “Grimm” enjoy delayed viewing lifts of 45 percent.

    10. Fragmented Content:

    Everyone will have an app to stream their in-house content. HBOGo will soon be available to the general public, CBS is now charging if your cable provider doesn’t participate, and has plenty of classic shows such as I Love Lucy available. NBC, FX, ABC, USA, all have apps for their vast content libraries, adding advertising and allowing for networks to determine more about their viewers using analytics through mobile.

    HBO Go finally comes to Xbox One – HBO Go, the premium streaming service for cable subscribers, is coming… http://t.co/vp0v9uBDTY

    — OmarBoulakjar® (@omarboulakjar) November 20, 2014

    This unfortunately is not what the user wants. Users are more interested in one place for all the content. At some point users who want this will get exactly what they want (personalization – see #1) in order of importance, in one place, for a hefty price. For free and with ads, it will remain fragmented.

  • Solving the "STEM Paradox" With the Global STEM Alliance
    Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report released its STEM Index of the United States. It revealed that student aptitude for and interest in science, technology, engineering and math has been essentially flat for more than a decade, at the same time that the need for STEM skills continues to grow.

    This situation is being replicated throughout the world. The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) recently released its own report, in which it characterizes the international STEM crisis as a “STEM paradox.” It’s not that there aren’t enough STEM graduates – the problem is that there aren’t enough work-ready graduates. Other challenges include a “brain drain” from developing countries and a lack of women in STEM fields, which makes it impossible for employers to fill all their STEM job openings.

    The NYAS report also outlines how partnerships between governments, corporations and institutions can solve problems in the STEM workforce pipeline. In response to these needs and opportunities, the Global STEM Alliance was created last year. It’s an international collaboration of public and private entities that harnesses the collective mindshare of corporations, local and national governments, nonprofits, students and STEM leaders. This Alliance will bring together STEM professionals of different ages and cultures to develop often-missing foundational skills and adapt to specific environments. The Alliance will engage and prepare the next generation for careers that encourage global economic development and the innovation needed to address and overcome today’s biggest challenges.

    The goal of the Global STEM Alliance is to create an environment where governments, businesses, nonprofits and schools all work collaboratively to encourage students’ interest in STEM and train them for the jobs of today – and tomorrow. The three critical elements of a strong STEM ecosystem are:

    Soft and hard skills: A combination of classroom learning with real-world experiences deployed throughout the educational system to give students both the technical and professional interpersonal skills they need to succeed;
    Mentoring to impart vision: A culture of mentorship that empowers all involved to understand the importance of and opportunities that lie within STEM; and
    Incentivizing innovation: Government incentives that encourage companies to invest in innovation and scientific research to create promising job opportunities for STEM graduates.

    Immediate and cooperative action is required in order to fill STEM gaps. The Alliance has committed to mentoring 1,000,000 aspiring STEM leaders in over 100 countries by 2020, creating STEM leaders in developing nations and promoting economic development worldwide. The Alliance already has among its members corporate partners like Cisco and government partners like Malaysia, Benin and the city of Barcelona.

    The global STEM crisis is bigger than any one entity to conquer. Our highly connective world poses many challenges but also affords tremendous opportunities. It creates both the need for more STEM professionals and the means to meet that need via international collaboration and innovation. Educational institutions, organizations and governments do not have the knowledge and financial resources required on their own, which is why the Global STEM Alliance came into being. It brings together these three spheres of influence to prepare the employees of today and tomorrow for the jobs that will continue to propel our world forward on its trajectory of greater economic development and connectedness.

    Additional information on the Global STEM Alliance is available here.

    To see Wim Elfrink, Executive Vice President, Industry Solutions & Chief Globalization Officer, discuss the initiative, click here.

  • A New App that Tells You How to Get Where You Want to Go Using Pictures
    2014-11-25-MCCWayfindingApp1024x678.jpg

    Interior GPS is a new app that tells you by using pictures how to get where you want to go inside large buildings.

    “When I took my wife to the hospital a year ago to see a doctor, we had a lot of trouble finding the doctor’s office,” Jules White, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Vanderbilt University says. “Afterwards, I thought about the difficulty I had had locating rooms at conventions, at the football stadium, and the airport. Why not develop a GPS for inside buildings–one that shows you in pictures how to get where you’re going? I asked myself.”

    White’s app is already in use at the 1.2 million square foot new convention center in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s now working on a pilot for a large hospital group and is getting inquiries about his app every day from as far away as Australia.

    To find a location, you download the app which knows where you are in a building. After selecting where you want to go (from a displayed list), the app shows you picture by picture how to get there. “Pictures work a lot better than just a list of directions,” White adds. He mentions using the app in large shopping centers as well.

    “There are other applications,” White adds. “One makes it possible for anyone going into a grocery or a drug store–or any store–to find the product they are looking for immediately. You don’t have to hunt for something or ask where it is.”

    “It struck me as the next logical step in finding out where you’re going inside a structure, or how to find what you want to buy quickly,” White says.

    White was educated at Brown University and Vanderbilt and previously taught at Virginia Tech University. Two years ago he had a one man art exhibit at the Gregory Way Gallery in Beverly Hills.

    His new company, Ziiio, Inc., is located in Nashvillle.

    “We can save people a lot of time and frustration when they’re trying to find where to go inside,” White says. “It’ll save money as well.”

    When I first learned about White’s Interior GIS app, the context that came to mind was not a large convention center or airport, but a large forest. What if the app could help a farmer find medicinal plants? What if it could help you detect wild varieties of agricultural crops?

    While White’s concept for interior GIS started when he was looking for the doctor’s office, it could help with navigation within large, complex environments where picture-based navigation would be far more useful than written directions.

    When I asked White about the possibility of extending the use of the app in this way, he said, “We are used to maps always being the best form of directions, but pictures can work a lot better sometimes. As long as the pictures are recent, they give you confidence that you are going in the right direction, even if it is in a forest or other area that we don’t normally need to get around in.”

    While it may not have been the original intent, this is an app which could have global relevance in parts of the world where people rely heavily on finding forest plants and biodiversity for their daily sustenance.

Mobile Technology News, November 25, 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.

  • Conquering the Skills Gap: The Industry Talent Consortium
    Not so long ago, people, processes, data and things functioned independently. Today, the Internet of Everything (IoE) brings them all together by combining human and machine interactions in ways that only science fiction writers could have dreamed of. Information derived from these networked connections creates new capabilities, richer experiences and incredible economic opportunity. Cisco predicts that between now and 2022, $19 trillion in value is at stake for organizations willing to take advantage of the immense IoE opportunity.

    Every industry and company will have new opportunities to create smarter products and services, create more convenience for consumers and begin to bring work-life integration to a whole new level. Finance, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, oil and gas and every industry you can think of will rise to new standards to be globally relevant and competitive as well as provide safer and more interesting environments to work within.

    These are all great opportunities to improve our lives, our health and our cost of living but these opportunities come with an ironic twist. Even with a pool of over 11 million
    unemployed people in the US to choose from, 45 percent of employers cannot find qualified candidates for their open jobs. Klaus Schwab, Chairman of the World Economic Forum, encapsulates our current dilemma: “We have entered a global economy where talent and skills shortages challenge economic and business growth around the world.”

    The skills gap has had its skeptics, but the time for skepticism is over. The gap is real,
    and it is serious. In the new war for talent, Employers are facing particular challenges finding people with the necessary skills for new industry jobs such as data scientists, cyber-security specialists, industrial network engineers, mobile app developers and network programmers.

    A skilled and competent workforce will be required to realize the business outcomes, productivity gains and organizational efficiencies that are attainable through IoT. There is a need for re-skilling the existing talent pool and bringing new employees into the workforce to align with the skills needed for the future.

    This task has proven easier conceptualized than done, yet it must be done well and as quickly as possible. It’s too big for any one entity to tackle; it requires a group of dedicated stakeholders. Toward that end, partners from all spheres of influence have created the Industry Talent Consortium. It’s a gathering of employers, academia, industry change agents and human capital solution providers to connect talent who have the pre-requisite skills to employers — after necessary training and certifications.

    Subject matter experts from these key areas are assembling now:

    • Academia (The New York Academy of Sciences, MIT, Stanford) will help prepare students through degree programs, professional development and in partnering with companies to provide training for the jobs of the future.
    • Human Capital Solution Providers (Careerbuilder) will help identify top jobs, regions, supply/demand and skill gaps.
    • Employers (Rockwell Automation, Davra Networks, GE) are looking to hire individuals for the new job roles.
    • Change Agents (Cisco, Xerox, Rockwell Automation, Udacity, Pearson, Knod) will create education curriculum, training and certifications that will help train and validate the skills needed for the new jobs.

    These Consortium members will work collaboratively to identify skills gaps and then address it on several fronts. They will identify individuals with the appropriate experience to re-skill or up-skill, create and deliver the necessary training and certification programs, and enlist identified talent to take part in degree or certificate programs. Consortium members will then hire those individuals for the jobs that will make the promises of IoE a reality. The Industry Talent Consortium is a line in the sand drawn for the sake of our collective future and will adapt and grow as needed to ensure a more connected world of greater possibility and prosperity for all.

  • Chase debuts new TV ad promoting Apple Pay partnership
    Megabank Chase has aired a new TV commercial featuring the band Bleachers using a Chase Freedom credit account to purchase a variety of items and services ahead of a rooftop gig in Los Angeles — with the difference being that the band members used their iPhones and Apple Pay instead of their credit cards. A representative from Chase told AdAge that representatives from Apple were involved in the creation of the ad, but asked mainly that the Apple Pay be shown in realistic situations.



  • VIDEO: Meet Robo farmers Mantis and Ladybird
    From weed detecting to a robotic dairy – the tech that could help farmers be more efficient
  • Tech sector leading Ukraine's revival
    How Ukraine’s tech sector is look to Europe for a brighter future
  • 'Ass Hunter,' Game Where Users Kill Gays, Removed By Google App Store
    Google has removed a game from Google Play that involved the killing of gay people for sport and survival.

    ass

    Called “Ass Hunter,” users reportedly downloaded the game over 10,000 times and gave it over 200 five-star ratings prior to its removal. According to The Independent:

    In the game, players control a hunter with a shotgun who must kill naked men before they approach him. If they are able to reach him then the game shows a cartoon depiction of the men having sex with the hunter… That description remains cached on Google, though the page has now been taken down. Cached versions of the original site continue to be held by Google.

    The description of the game listed by its makers is even worse. According to Towleroad it read:

    Play and do not be gay! Legendary game where you are hunter and your mission is to kill gays as much as you can or escape between them to the next level. Gays may be hidden in bushes and unexpectedly catch you. Remember when they catch you they will do with you whatever they want.

    ass2

    The game is reportedly several years old but was downloaded at an exponential rate after recently being made available in the Google app store.

    A petition for to see the game removed from the app store was launched at the end of last week.

    A spokesperson for Google confirmed to The Huffington Post that the app is no longer available on Google Play. He did not comment on how the app ended up on the site in the first place but noted, “we remove apps from Google Play that violate our policies.”

    (h/t Towleroad)

  • Expensive Baby Monitors Give False Reassurance, Researcher Says
    By: Stephanie Pappas
    Published: 11/21/2014 10:29 AM EST on LiveScience

    Monitors meant to reassure parents that their sleeping babies are still breathing are “smarter” than ever — but the devices are still not proven to keep little ones safe.

    Thus, any peace of mind brought by these monitors, which can cost several hundred dollars, is false reassurance, according to a new article in the journal BMJ.

    New monitors, marketed by startups such as Owlet and Sproutling, are sold as consumer devices and not medical devices. This distinction means they don’t have to go through testing to prove that they really keep babies safe. And studies of at-home monitoring in the 1980s and 1990s found no evidence that tracking a baby’s pulse or breathing could prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), which is the sudden, unexplained death of an infant, usually during sleep.

    “They just don’t work,” said David King, a lecturer in pediatrics at the University of Sheffield in England who authored the new article. [7 Baby Myths Debunked]

    SIDS fear

    For parents, SIDS is a terrifying prospect, particularly because there are no clear answers as to what causes it. The diagnosis is made when an autopsy, review of the death scene and medical investigation provide no answers as to why a baby younger than age 1 died. The vast majority of SIDS deaths occur before 6 months of age. The current best understanding of SIDS suggests that abnormalities in the regions of the brain that control breathing may put babies at risk of not waking up or shifting positions if their oxygen intake is insufficient.

    About 2,000 infants in the United States die of SIDS yearly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That makes SIDS the leading cause of death among infants between 1 month and 1 year old. Nevertheless, SIDS is very rare: Data show that 53.9 babies per every 100,000 live births die of SIDS, according to CDC data. This translates to 0.054 percent of infants.

    Monitoring baby

    Devices that monitor babies’ vital signs while they sleep have been around for decades, but the newest generation of these devices promises more ease and convenience. Owlet, for example, is developing a socklike pulse monitor that syncs to parents’ smartphones. (The monitor is not yet on the market but can be preordered for $250.) Sproutling uses an ankle monitor to sense a baby’s heart rate, skin temperature and motion, and promises to let you know “if your baby is sleeping soundly or if something is wrong,” according to the product’s website. Sproutling’s monitor is likewise available for preorder for $259.

    The marketing for these products does not refer to SIDS, but rather states that the devices watch for changes in heart rate or temperature.

    “They have to tread quite a fine line,” King said. As nonmedical devices, the monitors can’t be marketed as preventing a medical condition, including SIDS. However, the language used to market the monitors plays on SIDS fears, King said. Even medical-grade monitoring does not appear to protect against SIDS. A major study of more than 1,000 infants, published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1988, found that instances of slowed heart rate and interrupted breathing during sleep are common in even healthy infants, and that most of these abnormalities vanish before the babies reach the ages during which SIDS peaks — between about 2 months and 4 months old. Thus, events that may cause at-home monitors to alert parents to potential danger are not linked with SIDS.

    As a result of this and other similar research, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against at-home SIDS monitoring.

    However, the makers of the next-generation monitors defend their products.

    “I have hundreds of comments from Owlet testers, and none of them focus on SIDS,” Kurt Workman, founder and CEO of Owlet, wrote in a statement to Live Science. “They just want to know if something is wrong.”

    The current product is not a medical device, Workman said, but the company is working on another monitor, for which it will seek Food and Drug Administration approval, Workman said. Monitors tested in the 1980s and 1990s required multiple sensors and wires, and parents often gave up on using them out of frustration, he said.

    “We are in a new era with new possibilities, and shouldn’t hold ourselves back because of the constraints we had 30 years ago,” Workman said.

    Sproutling, which makes a fitness-tracker-type monitor that can collect data on babies while they’re asleep and awake, did not respond to Live Science’s requests for comment.

    The recommendation against using these types of monitoring devices to keep babies safe from SIDS may be discouraging to parents who hear constant warnings about SIDS danger. First, King said, parents should remember that the “vast majority of babies are healthy and fine,” and speak to their doctors about any concerns.

    Second, parents and caregivers should follow the recommendations proven to reduce the risk of SIDS, King said: Place babies on their backs to sleep, avoid bed-sharing, keep soft bedding out of cribs and don’t smoke.

    Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

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

  • 'If Toddlers Texted' Tumblr Shows What Little Kids Would Share On iMessage
    Have you ever wondered what toddlers would say if they could text? A new Tumblr tackles that question head-on, and the results are highly entertaining.

    “If Toddlers Texted” presents imagined conversations between a tech-savvy, texting toddler and some of the key players in his/her life — mommy, daddy, grandma, Caillou, Elsa and more. From messes to potty training to birthday parties, the text conversations encapsulate all the unpredictable chaos of toddlerhood.

    The genius behind If Toddlers Texted, a mom who asked to remain anonymous, told The Huffington Post in an email she drew the idea for the Tumblr from her real life. “The inspiration came from watching my own kids play with my iPhone and imagining what they would text if they could,” she said, adding, “I’m sure toddlers would tattle on parents to grandma, learn annoying habits from their BFF Caillou and send texts to mom asking for milk or fresh socks.”

    Below is a small sample of the comically accurate fake convos. Really only a toddler would be sneaky enough to offer Santa a bribe via text…

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  • Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini Review


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    Exuberant but not refined, most portable Bluetooth speakers look like they’re designed for jocks, juveniles or jokers, with gentlemen left in the lurch. However, the aptly named Esquire Mini by Harman/Kardon fills that gap. If you ride polo ponies, look great in a tux, prepped at Andover and summer in Oyster Bay, then this is the speaker for you.

    Of course, you don’t need to be quite as elite as all that: at $150 at the time of this writing, the unit is premium priced but not over the moon.

    Part of what you’re paying for is design, materials and build quality. With a precision cut ceramic-coated metal front grille in black, brown, white or (coming soon) tan, a matching leather back and leather hand strap (sorry, vegans), plus accents in brushed aluminum and a bit of chrome, this slim, rectangular speaker drips with elegance. It’s so sophisticated, in fact, that it’s somewhat unisex: with its rounded corners and edges, the white one I tested looks just like a lady’s clutch, yet it’s still masculine enough for a gentleman.

    I also tested a black unit; it reads as a tad more male but would still do well in distaff hands too. In any color, this is one of the classiest looking small speakers around. In matters of appearance, the attention to detail is exquisite: for instance, the chrome kickstand on the back of the unit has an almost imperceptible rubber foot to prevent the speaker from sliding around while in use. That foot is black on the black unit and white on the white. The slant of the kickstand echoes the angle of the openings on the front grille. And the handstrap is held together by a metal button that has a slash embossed in it, again echoing the grille’s diagonal openings.

    The control buttons and indicators are likewise elegant, and are simple to use. There’s no NFC, but pairing was easy, and reconnecting was automatic.

    Of course, in choosing a speaker, looks aren’t everything. Timbre matters too, obviously. When it comes to sound, the Esquire Mini is a bit more challenged. Indeed, the performance question is a complicated, because my review unit sounded good until it suddenly didn’t.

    First, the good part. Throughout most of my testing, the Esquire Mini delivered crisp highs and mids, and even at maximum volume there was little or no distortion. Bass was fair, but with the low end of the frequency response at 180 HZ according to the specs, the Esquire Mini doesn’t even attempt to reproduce some of the lows that other speakers do and instead omits the lowest frequencies from musical instruments and even human voice (in contrast, slightly larger portables can go down to 60 HZ or so). That left some tracks feeling a bit thinner than on other speakers. The soundstage felt full so long as you were within about ten feet of the unit, while at fifteen feet or more it was apparent that the music was coming from a discrete place. So, the Esquire Mini would be good for personal listening and small groups, not loud, wild parties that demand room-filling sound.

    So far, a reasonable speaker, albeit with significant bass compromises related to its svelte form factor. But one day my test unit suddenly and inexplicably developed a terrible distortion that made whatever I played sound like the speaker was wrapped in static-y, vibrating tissue paper. This was true with various songs and from both of my sources, a Galaxy S4 streaming Spotify via strong WiFi and an iPod Touch 5th Gen playing downloaded MP3s. It wasn’t a problem with bass response, since the problem was very apparent with, say “Motherboard” by Daft Punk, which is not especially bass heavy.

    I tried backing off from full volume to around 50%, but got no relief. The battery was 3/5 full, so it wasn’t not a low battery issue, and the problem persisted even when I plugged the speaker into a USB power source. It wasn’t a Bluetooth problem either, since the distortion was the same using an aux audio cable. And it wasn’t a problem with my sources, because when I connected them to other speakers via BT or the aux cable, I got clean sound.

    I tried the unit multiple times over several days, but the problem persisted. Finally, I set it aside. Soon afterwards, the company sent me a second unit to review – the black one mentioned above – and it showed no problems whatsoever. Indeed, to make matters even more confusing, when I returned to the white unit a week later, I found that it was now problem-free as well. Wtf?

    The Esquire Mini also functions as a speakerphone. The sound was crisp on both ends and there was little or no problem with echo. Another plus is the USB power out, which lets you use the speaker to charge your cell phone.

    A word about accessories: the Esquire Mini includes a tangle-resistant USB cable but no charger; you’ll have to supply your own (such as this one) or use a USB port on your computer. At a fairly average 8 hour battery rating (and less if you crank the volume), you’ll want to be sure to bring a charger or your laptop when on the go. Also, there’s no case included. To keep the attractive finish from getting scuffed or scratched, you’ll want to keep the unit protected when traveling with it. (This 4″ x 6″ velvet bag, not tested, should fit reasonably well.) For a product at this price point that is indeed marketed as a travel speaker – one publicity photo shows a businessman in a private jet (!) listening to the Esquire Mini – a case or a velvet carry bag plus a USB charger would be welcome additions.

    So where does this leave us? Frankly, I’m a bit uncertain. Perhaps my experience represents a freak defect. For those who can afford $150 for a portable, personal speaker and can sacrifice a bit of bass in return for killer looks, I wish I could recommend the Esquire Mini wholeheartedly. But the distortion was real, so I’ll leave it to you to decide whether to purchase this great looking speaker or not.

    ——-

    Compare and contrast: If you’re looking for an elegant, light-weight, very small speaker and decide that the Esquire Mini isn’t for you, the only other choice I know of with premium materials and build quality is the Soundmatters foxL DASH7. It’s got good bass for a small speaker and in months of use has never had a glitch. On the down side, it costs $50 more than the Esquire Mini, is a little less chic looking, and is slightly awkward to use (the buttons can be a little hard to press and the pairing process is a bit opaque).

    Check out “The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis,” available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. Visit my website (jhandel.com), follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets

  • Effort To Clone Woolly Mammoth Takes Big Step Forward
    Scientists are one step closer to cloning a woolly mammoth, thanks to the results of a new autopsy conducted on a remarkably preserved specimen of the species discovered last year.

    The 40,000-year-old mammoth, nicknamed “Buttercup,” was found in permafrost on the remote Siberian island of Maly Lyakhovsky. When scientists cut into the carcass, its fresh-looking flesh oozed dark blood, raising hopes that DNA could be extracted.

    (Scroll down for gallery of images below.)

    Scientists believe that the key to cloning the prehistoric beast is finding a complete copy of its DNA. That wasn’t found in this case, but the scientists did recover long fragments.

    Plans call for researchers from South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation to analyze tissue samples from the carcass over the next two years, with the hopes of finding an intact genome.

    “There is the possibility of finding something that’s amazing,” Insung Hwang, a Sooam scientist who was involved in the autopsy, told NBC. “We are very hopeful that this mammoth can give us an accurate genomic map that we can use as a template in the future to possibly bring back the mammoth.”

    Even if researchers turn up empty-handed, some say it may be possible to combine snippets of Buttercup’s DNA with elephant DNA to make a mammoth-elephant hybrid that could sport the mammoth’s big tusks and its woolly coat, Live Science reported.

    No matter what, scientists are all but bonkers over Buttercup.

    “As a paleontologist, you normally have to imagine the extinct animals you work on,” Dr. Tori Herridge, a paleobiologist at the Natural History Museum in London, who was involved in the autopsy, said in a written statement. “So actually coming face-to-face with a mammoth in the flesh, and being up to my elbows in slippery, wet, and frankly rather smelly mammoth liver, counts as one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It’s up there with my wedding day.”

    The autopsy revealed that Buttercup likely lived through eight calving seasons, and was around 50 years old when she died. The researchers determined that she was probably trapped in a peat bog and then killed by predators.

    The full results of the autopsy will be revealed in the Smithsonian Channel’s “How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth,” which airs on Sunday Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. EST.

  • Why You Shouldn't Wait For Cyber Monday To Shop Online
    Shoppers who don’t want to face the crowded stores on Thanksgiving or Black Friday but still want to get some good deals often shop online on Cyber Monday. But the Monday after Thanksgiving is no longer the best day for online shopping.

    Every year, sales start earlier and earlier. Now, many start on Thanksgiving — both in brick-and-mortar stores and online — so you’re better off shopping earlier to catch the best deals. Here’s why:

    Most of the good deals start way before Cyber Monday. Amazon started its Black Friday sales a full week before Black Friday (and 10 days before Cyber Monday). Other stores, such as Best Buy, will have special online-only deals on Thanksgiving.

    You won’t be alone if you start shopping on your phone during Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is projected to be the biggest mobile shopping day of the year, according to Adobe.

    The deals are not as good. Your best bet for online shopping is actually Thanksgiving, according to research by Adobe. Online prices are lowest on Thanksgiving, higher on Black Friday and even higher on Cyber Monday. Now you officially have an excuse to shop on your phone while your family argues.

    What you want could be sold out. The things you want to buy are probably available in limited quantities, and a lot of things could be sold out by Monday. Adobe measured how often online shoppers were looking at out-of-stock items and found that Cyber Monday was the top day for people to land on out-of-stock items’ pages, suggesting that people were having a hard time buying what they were seeking.

    Amazon is taking advantage of this by creating deals that exist only for a limited time or while supplies last.

    You’re more likely to get your gifts in time for the holidays. As you may recall from last year, UPS had difficulty getting packages to their destinations by Christmas. Amazon ended up offering people $20 gift cards if their gifts were delayed. The earlier you shop, the better the chances are that your items will arrive in time for the holidays.

  • The Reason Normal Gloves Don't Work On Your Smartphone
    Most of us have been there. It’s miserably cold outside and you need your phone or other touchscreen device, and you know how frustrating it is to remove your gloves to use your phone.

    This is mere inconvenience in a city like San Francisco, where we need only wear gloves with fashion. But it’s brutal if you’re living in Buffalo, NY,  this past week.

    So why doesn’t your smartphone respond when you’re wearing gloves?

    What’s happening at the physical level, is this. There are two main kinds of touchscreen technologies: capacitive and resistive. Resistive, the earlier of the two technologies, relies on the force of pushing down on the touchscreen of your device. Whereas a capacitive device screen requires actual touch.

    2014-11-23-ec4feefc9ddc5335a438764171628c14.jpg

    Every touchscreen phone manufactured in the last few years uses the capacitive touchscreen. They are able to register movements by picking up on fluctuations on the screen’s electrical field.

    2014-11-23-1b40aa70d1339bed6fcf4c1e5d847f8f.jpg

    When you apply pressure to the screen, it will only recognize the action if it has an electrical current. The naked hand delivers these electrical impulses directly to touchscreens. However, most fabrics don’t allow this current to pass through.

    2014-11-23-TouchScreenCapacitive2.jpg

    This is why the wool mittens your Aunt Vi made, won’t work on most touchscreen devices.

    Not the Mittens Grandma Gave You

    2014-11-23-2cosglovesnewstyle1.jpg

    The “touchscreen glove” was developed to address this stifling condition. These touchscreen-capable gloves solve use conductive materials or the gloves’ fingertips to transmit electrical current from your body to the device. Conductive fibers consist of a non-conductive or less conductive substrate, then coated or embedded with electrically conductive elements like carbon or copper.

    Touchscreen gloves cost anywhere from $20 to over $100 a pair. One online retailer even ranks them with this Top 5 Touchscreen Gloves  list. Of course, you can make your own.

    These gloves work, and you can bet they’re going to be a hot gift item this holiday season.

    ‘Tis the Season to Be Conductive

    In 2013, the total U.S. market size for the glove and mitten manufacturing revenue was reported at $147.7 million. These statistics cover all companies, both public and private, of cut and sew gloves, those excluding those disposable rubber gloves you use in chem lab.

    Now pair that with the estimated six percent of the U.S. smartphone population looking forward to upgrade their phones, and it’s potential for a lot of “smart glove” sales.

    Let’s face it — people need these things in winter. Without them, we can’t communicate with one another. The point best illustrated in this made-for-YouTube video one reviewer described as “the best product jingle I have ever heard in my whole life.”

    I can text. I can call. I can surf. I can do it all with my gloves on. With my gloves on.

  • Commerce Bank gains support for Apple Pay
    Another financial institution, Commerce Bank, has added support for Apple Pay mobile payments. The bank operates chiefly in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Colorado. It hasn’t made an formal announcement, but is now listed in an official Apple Pay support document. Commerce customers who want to use Apple Pay are currently limited to personal MasterCards, even though the bank also offers Visa.



  • New Sony Ad Markets PlayStation With 'Sexy' Female Doctor
    Women may represent nearly half of the gaming market, but video game companies are still catering first and foremost to heterosexual men.

    A new ad reportedly published to Sony’s European YouTube channel on Friday has drawn criticism for its depiction of a “sexy” female doctor that equates gaming on the PlayStation Vita handheld device to masturbation.

    The Verge called the ad “embarrassing for everyone,” pointing out that it’s obviously targeting teenage boys. Boing Boing called the marketing campaign “so dumb” that it “must be fake.”

    Sony’s commercial was quickly set to private, meaning it can’t be viewed from the main account. However, it was hosted elsewhere by a third party on YouTube.

    It’s unclear if the ad was pulled from the official YouTube page in response to criticism about its portrayal of women.

    Representatives from Sony did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the agency that reportedly made the ad.

    Despite marketing efforts like this, an increasing number of gamers are women. In fact, statistics published this year by the Entertainment Software Association say that 48 percent of game players today are female.

    Still, women have struggled to gain recognition in the gaming sphere. In recent weeks, the #GamerGate controversy has put a spotlight on issues of sexism in the video game industry.

    The Sony commercial advertises the “remote play” feature that allows the handheld PlayStation Vita device to act as a second screen and play games from a connected PlayStation 4 console. In other words, users could move from the big TV in the family room to another location with their Vita without interrupting gameplay.

    “I know you’ve already done it today, and I bet you really enjoyed yourself,” the ad’s “Dr. Grace Powels” says. “How many times did you do it yesterday? Are you afraid you’re doing it too often? In the bedroom under your blankets? Or perhaps you prefer the kitchen or in the toilet?”

    “You no longer have to feel ashamed. Everybody’s doing it, because it’s fantastic. And now you can keep going all day long. Don’t you like that? You don’t even need to stop. And if you want to, you could even join me,” she adds.

    The ad is just the latest in a long tradition of “sexy” video game commercials aimed at straight men — in 2008, Heidi Klum appeared in lingerie to advertise “Guitar Hero: World Tour,” a 2001 ad for “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” featured a writhing woman in bed who appeared to be sexually involved with a squirrel, and so on.

    Outlets like BoingBoing and The Verge also pointed out that a 2012 PlayStation Vita magazine ad similarly sexualizes women in an attempt to market the handheld’s unique functionality — traditional buttons and a touchscreen on the front and a “touch pad” in the back:

  • Europe Declares War on Google!
    Word leaked out on Friday in Brussels that The European Parliament is going to call for the break-up of Google. That must be a tough pill to swallow for Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. Sorry Mr. Schmidt, apparently you can’t bully the European continent the way you’ve recently attempted to bully technology leaders such as Tim Cook about Google’s modus vivendi.

    Recently I wrote about how Google, for all intents and purposes, exists as a textbook example of an overbearing monopoly. In that regard, John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil Company have nothing on Schmidt and his cast of Google characters. That led to my second point, mainly questioning why the U.S. doesn’t lay down the gauntlet by enforcing The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the 4th Amendment.

    Someone finally has, albeit from a different continent. While America ignores its own laws and turns the other cheek, look who comes along to drop a nuclear bomb on Google? Europe. Forget about Europe’s stand on the right to be forgotten, in which to date, some 171,000 requests have been sent to Google to remove links. That’s marbles compared to if the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, follows through on Parliament’s recommendation. I sense there’s a storm of sweat cascading down foreheads on the Menlo Park campus..

    So what does this mean to you, me, and the guy down the street? Nothing yet in the U.S. of A. But over in the old world, which suddenly becomes a new one mind you, you could expect the following to happen. Google will have to unbundle its search engine from all its other services such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, and more. Google will also be prohibited from giving favorable treatment in its search results to its own services. According to the Financial Times, “The commission has been investigating concerns over Google’s dominance of online search for five years, with critics arguing that the company’s rankings favor its own services, hitting its rivals’ profits.” Apparently, no one’s having the wool pulled over their eyes overseas.

    Don’t think Google doesn’t see the writing on the wall. In a speech last month in Berlin in defense of his baby and integrating Google’s own content within search results, Schmidt claimed, “We created search for users, not websites.” Furthermore, regulation would “deprive sites of valuable traffic and disadvantages their businesses.” Really? Then tell me this sir, why, as I like to point out, does Google collects the following information:

    Consider that at this very moment, Google has the means to know:

    • What you are doing online (Google Chrome)
    • What you are doing offline (Android and Chromebooks)
    • What you are doing at home (Nest)
    • Where you are in your home (Nest)
    • What you are working on (Google Drive)
    • Who you are connected to (Android, Gmail, Google+)
    • Who you are talking to (Android, Google+)
    • Who you are emailing (Gmail)
    • What you are listening to (Google Play)
    • What you are watching (YouTube)
    • Where you are (Android)
    • Where you are going (Google Maps and self-driving car)
    • When you are going (Google Calendar)
    • What you are looking for (Google Search)
    • How to manipulate your reality (Magic Leap)
    • Watching you everywhere (DigitalGlobe)

    Money talks which is why Google walks away with your information and sells it to the highest bidder. It’s downright creepy. Now that Europe is about to shake Google’s moneymaker, you can rest assured that Google will fight back guns a blazing. Good luck with that because Europe is a lot less sympathetic to your causes. And where there’s smoke, in this case, Europe’s regulatory actions, there will ultimately be a call within the U.S. for fire, which Google, in its best Smokey the Bear impersonation, will want to avoid at all costs.

    This is a monumental action and an important first step in people around the world taking back their rights and information. I can only hope that it leads us to follow suit within our own borders. Way to go Europe!

  • KC James And Ry Doon Describe The 'Pandemonium' Of Being A Vine Star
    For Vine personalities like KC James and Ry Doon, who have millions of followers on the social media app, posting hilarious six-second videos has given them a shot at fame. In a HuffPost Live interview, the pair discussed their newfound celebrity and their interactions with their die-hard fan bases.

    “If you go out of your room to the lobby and try to get a Starbucks, it can turn into pandemonium,” James told host Alyona Minkovski.

    Most of the chaos is fueled by zealous fans looking to snap a photo with the online personalities.

    “[There are] a lot of selfies,” Doon added.

    Despite the craziness, James said that he loves being approached by fans because it gives him an opportunity to put a face to the users with whom they interact online.

    “It’s cool because you get to see a lot of people who know your videos that you might not actually know about because when you see comments online, you don’t look at them sometimes as real people,” he said. “But when you see 50 people that know your lines from your videos, it’s super cool.”

    As much as they love their fans, James and Doon said greeting their fans’ parents is actually the most exciting part of the gig.

    “That’s, like, the biggest compliment,” they chimed in unison.

    Learn more about life as a Vine star by clicking here to check out HuffPost Live’s conversation with KC James and Ry Doon.

    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!

    Follow HuffPost Teen on Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pheed |

  • BT in talks to buy mobile operator O2
    BT is currently in talks with Telefonica over buying the mobile network operator O2.
  • BT in talks to buy O2 from Telefonica
    Telecoms giant BT is in talks with Telefonica about buying the O2 mobile network in the UK from the Spanish firm.
  • Feds Warn Against Surgery Device That Can Actually Spread Cancer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators have strengthened their warning against use of a once-popular device for gynecologic surgery that can spread unsuspected cancer, saying its risk is only justified in a fraction of patients.

    The Food and Drug Administration is updating its April safety warning, now saying doctors should not use the devices, called laparoscopic power morcellators, for performing a hysterectomy or removing uterine fibroids “in the vast majority of women.”

    The FDA’s Dr. William Maisel says there are safer options for the procedures for most patients — but he said the device may be appropriate for some women.

    One manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, directed surgeons to stop using its device for the procedures in April, when concerns about inadvertently spreading cancer inside women’s abdomens first arose. It’s now conducting a worldwide recall.

  • App Store downloads surge in October off iPhone 6, 6 Plus sales
    App Store downloads surged to a record 7.8 million per day average for the top 200 free iOS apps in October, says mobile marketing firm Fiksu. That represented a 42 percent increase from September, and a 39 percent jump year-over-year. The firm says it expects the trend to continue into the holiday season. It appears to have been kickstarted by sales of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which first launched on September 19, but which has been been gradually rolling out to more and more countries.



Mobile Technology News, November 24, 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.

  • North Carolina Could Be The Newest Legal Battleground For Uber and Lyft
    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina has become an attractive market for smartphone-based car services such as Uber and Lyft, which are drawn to the state’s mid-sized cities that have college students and young professionals but lack extensive mass transit. It’s also one of many states where little regulation exists outside of traditional cab and limo services.

    Uber currently offers rides in 10 cities in North Carolina, ranging from Wilmington and Asheville to the larger Raleigh and Charlotte. The company says that’s more than any other state but California. Six of those cities have populations greater than 200,000, and all are home to universities. The companies’ expansion has legislators in North Carolina and elsewhere scrambling to study their business models ahead of sessions in 2015 when they could address insurance, car inspections or criminal background checks. Throw in concerns from traditional taxi companies and insurance lobbyists, and Uber and Lyft’s public policy staffs should stay busy.

    At a meeting this week of North Carolina’s Revenue Laws Study Committee, co-chairwoman Rep. Julia C. Howard said she anticipated someone would introduce a bill, but she wasn’t aware of a specific proposal yet.

    “We’re getting into some tall weeds here,” Howard said, referring to the nuances involved after a colleague asked about pricing differences between Uber, Lyft and taxis.

    Lyft and Uber use a smartphone app to link customers with drivers selling rides in typically noncommercial cars or SUVs, allowing people with little or no professional driving experience to make money. Uber also works with licensed limo drivers in some markets. Both services make drivers undergo criminal and traffic background checks, and drivers are rated by customers. Uber and Lyft say they also provide commercial auto insurance in North Carolina that kicks in when rides are ordered.

    At least 20 legislatures are likely to take up legislation on such services in 2015 after several passed laws this year, said transportation analyst Douglas Shinkle of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    “This is definitely the most fast-moving, from kind of zero to 60, policy issue … that I’ve worked on since I’ve worked at NCSL,” said Shinkle, who’s been with the organization since 2005.

    At the North Carolina meeting, Uber and Lyft touted their insurance coverage and background checks — two key areas considered by legislatures in 2014. While several of those bills failed, Colorado passed a law to regulate the companies, and California lawmakers set insurance standards.

    “We’re seeing all over the country that cities and states are taking interest in companies like Uber because what we’re seeing is that consumers are flocking to these new technologies,” Rachel Holt, Uber’s Regional General Manager for the East Coast, told North Carolina lawmakers. “We’re very supportive of reasonable, commonsense regulations.”

    However, Uber and Lyft have faced several lawsuits in the past year across the U.S., claiming the companies operate in violation of state and local laws governing taxis.

    Michael Solomon, president of the Taxi Taxi cab service in the Raleigh area, said Uber and Lyft drivers should obtain commercial license plates and have more extensive commercial insurance, just as traditional cab services are required to do.

    “Any person who collects a passenger for a fee, no matter how it’s collected, should be held to the same standard,” he said.

    The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America told North Carolina lawmakers that Uber and Lyft should offer more coverage for drivers any time they are logged into the app and available to drive. While the companies offer commercial coverage when drivers are on their way to pick up a customer or have them in the vehicle, PCI attorney Oyango Snell said there’s a significant gap during the period when drivers are waiting to line up a fare.

    During that period, Uber and Lyft drivers in the state rely on a combination of their personal policies and contingent liability coverage provided by the companies.

    A North Carolina-based scholar on entrepreneurship said regulation for Uber and Lyft must strike a balance “between the ‘Wild West’ and the very strict rules that apply to old economy players.”

    “I don’t think the answer lies in applying the same framework to this new player,” said Arvind Malhotra, a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. “New rules and regulations have to be crafted to make it a level playing field.”

    The on-demand, GPS-based car services aren’t just appealing to riders — the flexibility is also drawing drivers who never worked in the industry. Jeremy Collins, 31, began driving his 2011 Honda Accord for Uber in July, a few weeks after it launched in Durham. He planned to drive part-time to earn extra money while his wife completes a graduate nursing program at Duke, but he ended up quitting his job as a waiter. He says he never drives more than 35 hours a week, but can make $1,300 in that time.

    He lives in an apartment building near campus that’s home to a lot of graduate students, so he can sit on his balcony with a coffee and wait for the app to match him with riders. He typically ferries students and others in the Duke community, and he’s worked out a rhythm where he says he rarely works a late night.

    “I’m able to keep us afloat with our Uber pay,” he said. “I don’t have a boss, and I work when I want. … It’s worked out really well for us.”

  • New Malware Used For Surveillance In 10 Countries, Symantec Says
    An unidentified nation may have developed a “highly complex” surveillance tool that targeted companies and other victims in at least 10 countries including Russia and Mexico, Symantec Corp. researchers said.
  • New computer spying bug discovered
    Computer security firm Symantec discovers what it says is one of the most sophisticated pieces of malicious software ever seen.
  • 11 Things You Didn't Know About 'iCarly'
    In 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 …

    With his hit shows “Drake & Josh” and “Zoey 101″ coming to an end, Dan Schneider was focused on his next project. The new series starred “Drake & Josh” alum Miranda Cosgrove as a girl making her own web series with her best friends, played by Jennette McCurdy and Nathan Kress. After debuting in early September 2007, “iCarly” opened to strong ratings and never looked back, eventually overtaking “SpongeBob” as the network’s most-watched show.

    Schneider recalled the experience on his blog:

    I never dreamed the audience would embrace “iCarly” the way it has … within less than a year, we saw “iCarly” become more than just a successful show. Thanks to the fans, “iCarly” became part of American pop culture.

    emma
    Emma Stone on “iCarly.”

    iCarly” ran on Nickelodeon for seven seasons. The series received critical acclaim and even drew huge celebrity guest stars like Emma Stone, Jack Black and Jimmy Fallon on its way to becoming one of the Nickelodeon’s most successful shows of all time. Fan’s loved the series’ interactivity, but now, even two years after series finale “iGoodbye” aired Nov. 23, 2012, there is still a lot viewers don’t know.

    She’s Carly. She’s Sam. And these are 11 things you didn’t know about “iCarly”:

    Image: Giphy

    1. Jennette McCurdy hated a lot of the food she had to eat.

    sam

    On the show, Sam eats pretty much everything she can get her hands on, but McCurdy told RadioFree.com that she definitely differs with her character there:

    There are times when I have had to eat food that I hate, like for example the pie. Or on the first episode, I had to eat so much ham I threw up, and then had to go eat more. That was horrible! I had to eat Cheez Whiz … Didn’t like that.

    The actress said the props department worked hard to make the food great, but she revealed to Rosie O’Donnell in a 2012 interview that she hasn’t had ham since the first episode.

    2. You can actually call Sam’s phone number.

    Image: Giphy

    According to iCarly Facts Tumblr, the episode “iLost My Mind” gives out an actual working number for Sam Puckett.

    Calling the number “503-664-0452″ connects you to a voicemail message from Sam basically saying to hang up because she’ll never check her messages.

    3. No one knows what the goat did to Carly.

    goat

    One of the greatest mysteries from “iCarly” comes in the episode “iGot A Hot Room.” In one particular scene, Carly mentions an infamous incident with a goat at a petting zoo.

    Schneider wrote in his blog that he gets asked a lot about what the goat actually did to Carly, sometimes even by Cosgrove herself, but that it will probably always remain a mystery:

    When we wrote that script, the writers and I had fun thinking about things the goat might have done … but we all had different ideas. And, as you know, it was never stated in the episode. So, this one is up to your own imagination. There is no correct answer. It’s anyone’s guess.

    4. Carly was very close to being named Sam or Josie.

    tv show gifs
    Image: YouTube

    When answering fan questions about how he decided on a name for the series, Schneider said it came from talking with Steve Molaro, who’s now executive producer for “The Big Bang Theory.” The show creator said the main character’s name in his original script was Sam. That would have been Carly’s name, except the URL for iSam was already registered. Schneider said he then bought the URL for iJosie.com, but he later decided on iCarly.

    Had Schneider been able to buy iSam.com, Carly and Sam would likely have been Sam and Kira, respectively, which were the characters in the original script.

    5. “iCarly” gets away with a lot of hidden adult jokes.

    guppy

    Whether it’s Disney movies or Nick, a lot of kids programming has been shown to have hidden adult humor in it, and “iCarly” isn’t any different. Smosh outlines a lot seemingly innocent jokes that could be taken to have a double meaning. Others more blatant examples are the “Fifty Shades of Grey” reference above and Freddie’s apartment number, which you can see in this scene from “Sam & Cat” bares a striking resemblance to certain texting emoticon:

    freddie

    6. There’s even more “Drake & Josh” crossover than you think.

    drake

    “Drake & Josh” references are scattered throughout “iCarly.” Examples include Carly and Spencer (Jeremy Trainer) both watching themselves on “Drake & Josh,” visual references like pictures and even this gem from Drake Bell, which appeared on the episode “iBloop”:

    Before “iCarly” debuted, there were also references to the show in “Drake & Josh.” Most notably, a movie marquee in “Drake & Josh: Really Big Shrimp” had a message from Schneider thanking Molaro and also saying, “Now She’s Carly.”

    7. The cast’s reactions to fan videos were real.

    Image: Giphy

    Fans could actually go on iCarly.com to send in videos, suggestions and interact with the show. The “iCarly” writers then incorporated fan feedback into the programming, which made the show a very real experience.

    In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Cosgrove talked about the crazy videos fans would send in and said the cast’s reactions to these videos on the show were real. She recalled one fan video that involved someone squirting milk out of their eyes that made the cast scream “at the top of their lungs.”

    Cosgrove also told Kimmel that in her spare time she makes funny videos with her friends, which basically means she’s Carly Shay in real life, too.

    8. You can visit the Shay’s apartment building, but it’s not where you think.

    bushwekk

    Though the Shay’s supposedly live in Bushwell Plaza in Seattle, the actual building seen on the show is nowhere near there.

    A variety of sources report exterior shots of the Shay’s apartment building are actually from the Eastern Columbia Building in Los Angeles. Images of the building are said to be digitally altered for the show.

    maps

    9. “iCarly” had a secret “Harry Potter” connection.

    Image: Giphy

    To win a bet against Freddie in “iFence,” Sam reads a book called “The Penny Treasure.” Previously, she hasn’t been interested in reading, but Sam learns to enjoy it and describes the experience as “TV in your head.”

    In real life, “The Penny Treasure” doesn’t actually exist. Apparently the book used in the episode was a copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” with a fake cover put on it.

    10. You can actually visit websites from the show … sort of.

    computer

    Since the show is all about a girl and her friends making a web series, a variety of other made up websites are also mentioned. These include iGibby.com, Nevilocity.com, SamPuckett.com and many others.

    You can actually visit these sites, but Carly’s nemesis Neville will probably “rue the day” when he finds out that these sites are all set up to redirect to iCarly.com.

    11. “iCarly” creator Dan Schneider always knew how the show would end.

    tv show gifs
    Image: Tumblr

    Schneider wrote on his “iGoodbye” blog entry that he knew how he wanted the series to end from the very first season, and that’s exactly how it turned out:

    I had this vision of the front door opening, Carly hearing her dad’s voice, turning, breaking into a huge smile, yelling “Dad!” and running into his arms. I saw that scene in my head back in 2008. So, it was kind of surreal when we filmed that very scene, in 2012.

    And … we’re out.

  • New web data powers plan for police
    A law forcing communications firms to keep details that could help identify criminals using the internet is being planned by the home secretary.
  • Awful Behavior At Tech Companies Probably Does Not Hurt Their Bottom Lines

    NEW YORK (AP) — Silicon Valley seems to have more than its share of companies behaving badly. Among up-and-comers in the tech world, privacy abuses and executive gaffes have become viral sensations. But is all that bad behavior actually bad for business?

    Last week, Uber sparked controversy after a top executive suggested spending $1 million to dig up dirt on a journalist critical of the driver-on-demand company challenging the taxi establishment in cities. It’s only the latest time Uber has been called out, either for actions by its drivers or its corporate culture. The company also is investigating one of its New York employees for tracking another journalist’s ride, which has raised fears that Uber is misusing customers’ private location information. So far Uber’s investors, which include Google Ventures and prominent venture capital firms that poured $1.2 billion into the company at its latest funding round, have remained quiet. So is Uber’s much-criticized corporate behavior just part of the package, a reason even, for its meteoric rise and ability to go after smaller rivals and the taxi establishment? Or is it a liability for the company, its Ayn Rand-loving libertarian CEO and its backers?

    “I think it’s going to alienate some potential customers but I doubt, given what’s happened to date, that it’s going to make a big difference,” said Robert Hurley, director of the Consortium of Trustworthy Organizations at Fordham University in New York.

    So far, the controversies haven’t put the brakes on Uber’s skyrocketing valuation ($17 billion at last count, and reportedly heading to nearly double that), or its popularity among people who can use the app to hitch rides. There are calls to boycott the company on Twitter, and many have vowed to go to its smaller rival Lyft. But on Friday Uber was ranked 35th among the most popular free apps on iTunes — up from 37th on Monday.

    “If it’s a brand (people) like — and Uber is a brand (people) like — they have a few get out of jail cards,” said Allen Adamson, managing director of the branding firm Landor Associates.

    Uber did not respond to requests for comment.

    Not that Uber is an anomaly in the industry. Some tech companies have had executives with domestic violence charges or who have gone on tactless Facebook and Twitter rants. Earlier this year, the hot dating app Tinder settled a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed by a co-founder. It claimed that Tinder’s founders engaged in “atrocious sexual harassment and sex discrimination” against a former vice president at the company, calling her names and threatening to strip away her co-founder title. The suit hasn’t crimped Tinder’s style: the product reportedly makes over 14 million matches a day.

    Public relations problems aren’t limited to startups. Last month, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told women they shouldn’t ask for a raise and just trust “good karma” instead. The punchline? He made the statement, for which he later apologized, at a conference celebrating women in computing.

    “You have these CEOs that don’t have much filter and get in trouble,” said John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. But unlike in the old days, it’s hard for things to get buried in the age of blogs, Twitter and Reddit. “There is much less ability to wipe the slate clean,” he notes.

    Some established tech companies have rolled out new features without disclosing privacy implications, all while professing respect for customers’ personal data and privacy. Take Google, for example. The company, which was founded with the motto “don’t be evil,” has faced scrutiny from European regulators for secretly scooping up users’ personal data transmitted over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks in cities around the world for at least two years. In the U.S., Google paid $500 million to settle a U.S. Justice Department investigation that alleged the company’s top executives allowed ads for illegal pharmaceutical drugs to be distributed through its marketing network. Yet it is far and away the leader in online search and owns other widely used services such as Android and Chrome.

    “Until a company does something that personally impacts the consumer, this kind of bad behavior will only influence the decisions of customers for whom these are highly sensitive issues,” said Maclyn Clouse, University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business.

    __

    AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story from San Francisco.

Mobile Technology News, November 23, 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.

  • This FCC Commissioner Did A Reddit Chat. It Did Not Go Well.
    WASHINGTON — On Friday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Mignon Clyburn took to Reddit to do an “Ask Me Anything” session and answer questions about her job. But she soon found herself on the defensive against Reddit users angry about how the FCC has handled net neutrality rulemaking.

    The FCC is currently weighing whether to classify the Internet like a utility and restrict Internet service providers from charging content providers for faster Internet access. This month, President Barack Obama announced his support for that approach, known as “Title II.” But net neutrality advocates are concerned that the FCC might go with a different proposal, which would allow for some degree of paid prioritization. Opponents of this plan say that it would threaten the openness of the Internet by making it harder for smaller sites to compete.

    When asked about her position on net neutrality, Clyburn, who is one of five FCC commissioners appointed by the president, said that she supports “a free and open Internet.” She pointed out that in 2010, she supported Title II and a ban on paid prioritization, which is what Obama is asking for now. But she did not explicitly say that she still supports this plan. Instead, she wrote that she has “many of the same concerns I did four years ago, but have vowed to keep an open mind.” Clyburn did not go into detail about what those concerns are.

    Later, she said that “if we think the right policy goal is to ban paid prioritization, we should determine the appropriate legal authority to do so,” contending that “Title II on its own does not automatically ban paid prioritization.” A commenter dismissed her statement as a “talking point.”

    Over the summer, the FCC accepted nearly 4 million public comments about net neutrality — an overwhelming number of which opposed allowing Internet service providers to charge for faster Internet access. One commenter asked Clyburn if the FCC listens to the public. She responded, “Public comments absolutely influence the FCC deliberations, including rule makings.”

    Another user asked: “How can we (the Internet!) make ourselves heard in this process? Because it begins to seem like the e-mail campaigns and the phone calls do not have a large effect on convincing the FCC to reclassify ISPs under Title II?”

    Clyburn responded: “I disagree completely. Your voices are being heard and your comments are being read.”

    But many Redditors didn’t agree, complaining about the number of Clyburn’s answers and their substance. For their responses, check out the full discussion here.

    Clyburn’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Igor Bobic contributed reporting.

  • Amazon Signs Lease For Possible Store In Manhattan
    NEW YORK — Soon, going to Amazon may mean more than just typing in a URL.

    The online retail giant has signed a lease for a massive space in midtown Manhattan that some speculate could become its first brick-and-mortar store.

    Located in the heart of the Herald Square shopping district, the space occupies about 470,000 square feet in 7 W. 34 St., a small office tower.

    Vornado Realty Trust, which owns the building, said in a press release Thursday that the lease will last 17 years.

    “We have leased this building primarily as corporate office space and we intend to sublease to other tenants the ground floor retail space,” Kelly Cheeseman, an Amazon spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement to The Huffington Post on Saturday.

    Cheeseman did not respond to repeated questions about whether a portion of the space will be used as a storefront.

    No plans for an experimental brick-and-mortar Amazon store have been announced, but an anonymously sourced report in The Wall Street Journal last month claimed that the space would house the company’s first physical store. According to the report, the space would function as a warehouse, with a limited stock for same-day deliveries within New York City, pickup, and exchanges and returns on products.

    Wendy Kopsick, a spokeswoman for Vornado, directed questions to Amazon.

    This past Friday, Amazon workers drove around New York in a refitted food truck, selling tablets, e-readers and Fire TV sticks to customers on the street — which, if nothing else, suggests the company is willing to experiment with the distribution side of things.

    Amazon doesn’t only sell online. It also is deploying the food truck model. pic.twitter.com/Th01CCHJ60

    — Emily Steel (@emilysteel) November 21, 2014

    Opening a physical store would come with certain risks. It costs money to lease and manage a space, and to hire staff for a new operation. Despite founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’s seemingly ceaseless quest to explore new ventures — one reason why the 20-year-old online bookseller now produces tablets and streams TV shows — the physical retail market has eluded him. In many states, Amazon customers avoid paying a sales tax on purchases because the company does not have a physical outpost within those states’ borders. (New York, however, does levy a tax on Amazon buys.)

    Still, e-commerce makes up only 6.5 percent of the $4.73 trillion retail market, according to the research firm eMarketer. And amid calls by investors to focus on profitability, that other 93.5 percent may look appetizing to Amazon.

  • This Is What You Would've Seen If You Flew Around Inside The Buffalo Snowstorm
    While most people in the Buffalo, New York area were hunkered down this week as over six feet of snow piled up outside their windows, James Grimaldi was out seeing the sights, courtesy of his drone.

    The West Seneca man flew his drone into the storm on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post — navigating the device around snow-laden trees for a bird’s-eye view of his neighborhood, all while snow fell at a rate of 4 inches an hour.

    Grimaldi flew the drone again after the storm cleared, capturing yet more dramatic footage, which can be seen below.

    WATCH the Buffalo snowstorm drone footage above, and the post-storm video below:

  • Microsoft Music Deals App for Windows and Windows Phone Updated

    The Music Deals app for Windows and Windows Phone has received a minor update this week, brining several new features including Share, Pin, Home and Help buttons. For those who aren’t familiar with the Music Deals app, it is a relatively new app that brings deals to Xbox Music users weekly. Music Deals gives you access to the best music at 80% or more off! Each week, you’ll find a top new release for $.99, and 100 or more great albums for $1.99 or less. Music Deals will keep you informed about the latest and greatest deals. The updates in

    The post Microsoft Music Deals App for Windows and Windows Phone Updated appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • 'Yo Jackass, We All Think Our Kid Is the Cutest'
    As social media has mutated into a ravenous, many tentacled time-eater, news from our friends about their families’ triumphs and trials has become omnipresent, unrelenting — a never-ending vacation slide show from hell. As a result, every day there’s a new complaint from those who follow: too much self-promotion in my feed. Too many photos of other people’s posh vacations. Too many selfies! No one wants to see what you had for lunch/what your baby had for lunch/how cute your cats are. And yet the posts keep coming.

    “For the love of God, stop posting 9,000 pictures of your baby on Facebook,” pleads an author on Chicago Now. “You know the type I’m talking about. That mom who genuinely thinks her baby is cuter than all the others.” Indeed, social media and babies are a particularly dangerous combination. A 2010 study by the Internet security firm AVG Technologies found that 92 percent of American children under the age of two have some kind of digital profile, with images of them posted online. But posts chronicling the every adorable move of our friends’ babies and kids certainly aren’t the whole of the online offensiveness: Elite Daily lists the 50 most annoying people you encounter on Instagram, including the Internet Model, the Fashionista and the Rich Kid — and I can certainly list a few more — while others offer endless advice on how to politely ask your connections to be less boastful, less prolific and less, well, annoying.

    Part of the problem is that social media just makes sharing — oversharing — way too easy. A click of the button on a digital camera, a quick download, and the picture or video clip is flying to your Facebook feed. But there are also plenty of studies supporting the addictive nature of social media, and how obsessive posting works directly on the pleasure centers of the brain.

    And yet the real problem here is not that we’re an addiction-addled culture of oversharers, though that may indeed be true. Instead, it’s that we’re a culture of complainers. We use complaints as icebreakers or to bond with others: What’s with this weather? What’s with our boss? We use complaints to establish rapport. Studies have suggested that complaining adds years to your life by helping us release tension. But we also complain because it’s in our nature, and we’re more apt to complain than to do something about it. Complaining about the social media habits makes this ever more clear, and has become a favorite topic of conversation: Who’s most annoying in your feed? Because of course, the solution to dealing with the oversharers clogging our feed is painfully obvious: Unfollow them. Stop engaging. Delete.

    But can we? Or have the followers become as obsessed and addicted as the oversharers, the ones who do it for the “Likes”? We tend to issue blame on the people who post, but we’re hooked, too. Obsessive posting, after all, is a result of obsessive following — if there were no audience at the ready, there would be no need or reason to post. Consider as an example the end of relationships that take place over social media, from that of your college friends to that of representative Mark Sanford, who ended his engagement to María Belén Chapur via public Facebook post. We’re not talking about the change in Relationship Status from “Married” to something else, but long, drawn out, intimate details that we’re shocked and horrified to read — and yet read we do. recently, I followed along as two old friends ended their long-term relationship by posting all the last details of each other’s transgressions. I knew that this was not information I wanted to have. And yet I read it. All of it.

    This, of course, is what keeps people overposting. It’s not their inherent flaw, or simply their desire to be heard. It’s our willingness to listen. The only way people will stop oversharing, or badly sharing, is to refuse to be their audience. That’s not something we’re willing to do. So instead we complain, and pretend to wonder what it is we can do about all these selfies filling our feeds. But if you really want your friends, colleagues and the strangers who appear in your feed to stop being so obnoxious, inappropriate and self-promotional, you know what to do. It’s as simple as hitting Unfollow.

  • If You Blast Your Wine With Sound Waves, Does It Taste Better? We Tried To Find Out
    Here’s a weird one to bust out at your next dinner party: A new machine says it can make your wine taste better by blasting it with sonic energy.

    The Sonic Decanter recently reached its $85,000 goal on Kickstarter, with more than 700 investors jumping in to support the project. (There are still a couple of days left for others to nudge their way in for a discounted rate on the product.) It purports to use ultrasound energy to change the molecular properties of non-carbonated red and white whites, making the drink “smoother” and more flavorful.

    Wine connoisseurs may wonder exactly how this is superior to a normal decanting process, which involves pouring wine into a separate bottle to remove sediment. According to a video on the Kickstarter page, the Sonic Decanter removes oxygen from the wine — the opposite of what normal decanting does — which supposedly helps preserve flavor for longer.

    We found the Sonic Decanter to be something of a mixed bag, at least in its current, pre-production form. The makers sent The Huffington Post a prototype unit to put to the test. Editors from HuffPost Tech and HuffPost Taste teamed up for a blind tasting: We poured eight cups of “pre-decanted” white wine and eight cups of “post-decanted” white, then did the same for the red. Here’s what we discovered.


    The wines we purchased weren’t fancy — but supposedly, that doesn’t matter where the Sonic Decanter is concerned. (Photos by Damon Beres for The Huffington Post)

    First of all: The process takes a bit of time. You have to wait 20 minutes for the Sonic Decanter to operate on a bottle of red, and 15 minutes for a bottle of white. During that time, the prototype made a bit of noise, but Mike Coyne — CEO of Dionysus Technology Concepts, the company that will make the Sonic Decanter — told HuffPost via email that the final product will be sound-engineered and quieter.

    Click to listen: Our Sonic Decanter prototype was a bit noisy, though you probably wouldn’t notice if you had a few folks over.

    By and large, our testers seemed to enjoy the red wine after it had been through the Sonic Decanter process. We didn’t tell them which cups had been through the Sonic Decanter and which hadn’t, but we did take note of their comments. Our tasters didn’t mention any dramatic differences, but a couple of people said the non-decanted wine seemed “more acidic,” and someone else noted that it seemed to be “missing something.” One editor added that the non-decanted wine had a “harsher aftertaste.”

    The white wine fared considerably less well in our taste test. Before starting the Sonic Decanter, you pour in two cups of cold water for the bottle to rest in. But remember, the process takes a full 15 minutes — enough time for a drink to warm up a bit, even under normal conditions — and we also noticed that the machine itself seemed to warm both the water and the wine bottle during the decanting process. That’s not great for a glass of white.


    Before you use the Sonic Decanter, you fill it with cold water.

    All of our white wine tasters noticed the warmth immediately and said it made drinking the wine less pleasant. Those who weren’t too distracted by the temperature noted that the decanted white was “smoother” with “less bite,” but everyone still preferred the cooler glass.

    Coyne didn’t seem too surprised by this outcome. The Sonic Decanter process apparently results in a temperature increase of 3 to 4 degrees for the wine — an effect that Coyne said should not be present in the final product. He also said it’s important to replace the water between each bottle — we added some cool water the second time around, but didn’t switch it out completely — and noted that the wine bottle can be re-chilled after the decanting process.

    In general, he said, people do say they notice the effects more in red wine.

    “Red wine has more components than white wines that are affected by the Sonic Decanter process. Therefore many testers report that the improvement is more noticeable in red wines,” Coyne told HuffPost.

    Is there actually anything to the science of the Sonic Decanter? John Giannini, a vineyard and winery consultant who teaches winemaking classes at Missouri State University, told HuffPost that he wasn’t totally sure.

    “I’m not an expert on sound waves,” said Giannini, “but intuitively it seems they would disrupt polymerized compounds, which would have a negative effect.”

    He did say that because the red wine tasted better to some testers, there might be merit to the idea.

    The Sonic Decanter goes into production next year and is expected to ship in May 2015.

Mobile Technology News, November 22, 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.

  • Square, Sephora, Tickets.com, Disney app add support for Apple Pay
    In addition to today’s announcement by Square that it will bring support for Apple Pay to its app and systems early next year, a number of other merchants have also unveiled Apple Pay support or are planning to soon. Venues that utilize Tickets.com as their online ticket provider, for example, have now adopted support for Apple’s iPhone 6-centric payment method, and some apps will soon be offering an Apple Pay option for online purchases.



  • School Official Apologizes For 'Good-Natured' Retweet About Mixed-Raced Couples
    An assistant principal who has come under fire for a racially insensitive retweet says she has been put on administrative leave and that she does not harbor racial prejudices.

    Earlier this week, students at Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Virginia, walked out of class to protest a retweet from the high school’s assistant principal, Amy Strickland. The retweet showed a picture of a group of black boys and white girls dressed for a high school prom, with the caption “Every white girl’s father’s worst nightmare.”

    I could have been any one of the boys in the picture,” student Michael LeMelle said to local outlet WAVY-TV earlier this week. “And I really don’t see myself, like I said earlier, as anyone’s worst nightmare.”

    In a statement provided by her attorney to local ABC affiliate 13 News Now, Strickland responded to the controversy.

    Strickland said that both of her daughters attended prom with African-American students, and that the retweet was an attempt at “good natured humor concerning mixed race couples attending a high school prom.”

    “Because I have two daughters who in fact did attend proms with African American dates, I casually forwarded the ‘tweet’ last June to one of those daughters. The ‘retweet’ from last June has now resurfaced and become the object of intense media criticism and calls for my dismissal from Booker T. Washington on grounds of racism,” she said.

    “Media reports suggesting that I am racially prejudiced are one thousand percent false, as my record and my many students, colleagues, friends, and family members who are African American can and, if necessary, will attest. I deeply apologize to anyone I have inadvertently offended,” she added.

    The statement also notes that Strickland was previously named teacher of the year in a predominantly black school system.

    According to a previous report from WAVY-TV, the tweet originated from the account @OrNahhTweets. It is not clear where the photo came from. Strickland’s statement says she sent the tweet months ago — before she started working at the high school.

    Norfolk Public Schools spokeswoman Elizabeth Mather told The Huffington Post over email that she did not have any new information to share about the situation, noting that it was a “personnel matter.”

    The local branch of the NAACP also chimed in on the controversy prior to Strickland’s statement. Norfolk Branch NAACP President Joe Dillard told WAVY-TV in a statement that the organization is launching its own investigation into the situation.

    “We hold the administration accountable for their actions. We will not tolerate racism in this city and definitely not in the education system. Booker T. Washington High School is a fragile school; and the last thing we need in our community are students walking out of school in protest to racist administrators,” says the statement.

    In an op-ed for the local outlet The Virginian-Pilot, columnist Kerry Dougherty criticized Strickland for the tweet, but said that she probably did not have prejudiced intentions.

    “I believe her, just as I believe it was an unwitting mistake to retweet that picture. Strickland is certainly not the first person to regret a retweet,” she wrote. “Instead of drumming a dedicated educator out of her job over a 6-month-old posting on social media, Norfolk school officials – and students – should accept Strickland’s apology and seize the opportunity to discuss the pitfalls and pluses of Twitter and Facebook.”

  • How Facebook Is Shaping Who Will Win the Next Election
    Here’s an obvious, yet poorly understood fact: A single social network could have a major influence on who gets to control our government in the future.

    This isn’t an accusation of corporate conspiracy or a condemnation of a technology company’s power grab — this is just a reality born out of the fact that Facebook has become ubiquitous in our daily lives.  Facebook is where most of us now go to see what issues our friends are discussing.  It’s become a window into understanding what the people closest to us care about.  As a result, the design, policies, and algorithms chosen by the company are having a major impact on how elections are run and how the electorate gets their information.  A study the company conducted on its users found that increasing exposure to hard news “measurably increased civic engagement.”

    That leaves Facebook in a peculiar and unenviable position — no matter what its intentions are, even minor decisions will have political impacts.

    Every product change it makes leads to a set of winners and losers, and often these have their own unintended effects.  A small alteration in deciding what types of stories get promoted, or what types of behaviors are highlighted, could potentially sway the outcome of an election somewhere.  There is nothing it can do to make every side happy, and even doing nothing is a decision that has its own consequences.

    The company announced yesterday that it was shutting down a feature that the Obama campaign used in 2012 to register over a million voters.  During the election supporters shared access to their list of Facebook friends with the campaign through an app.  Researchers have found that while people often view political messages with skepticism, they are more receptive and trusting when the information is coming from somebody they know.  The feature was credited with boosting Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts which were crucial to his victory, but Facebook has decided to disable this ability in order to (rightfully) protect users from third-party apps collecting too much of their information.

    When this feature was first released it provided the enterprising Obama campaign with a large advantage over the less technologically-inclined Romney campaign. Whenever there is an opportunity to advance the way messages are delivered to specific groups, political strategists are going to race to see who can most effectively use it to their advantage. So many elections have come down to mobilizing a relatively small portion of the voting population.

    In addition to helping candidates target their messages and influencing how we perceive the importance of issues, Facebook has also proven its ability to impact voter turnout.

    In fact, they’ve been testing this directly — for years.  In this area the company has been far less hands-off; starting in 2008 the social network has been showing users a “voting button” on election day specifying which of their friends had voted and allowing them to inform their network they had voted as well.  While seemingly insignificant, Facebook’s data scientists found a substantial impact.

    In a study actually titled “A 61-million-person experiment in social influence and political mobilization,” the company checked public voting rolls to see whether those who had the button presented to them actually showed up to the voting booth.  Many of them did — the company believes that its efforts led to an additional 600,000 voters casting their ballot.  (Professor Jonathan Zittrain reminds us that the contested 2000 presidential election came down to only 537 votes in Florida.)  There was a control group who did not have the button shown to them, but it’s not clear how these users were selected.  Facebook plans to roll this out in more elections, all over the world.

    The company insists that it favors no particular ideology and that its efforts are “neutral.”  The first part is likely true, but the second is not possible.  The company’s algorithms take into account a proprietary mix of our own biases, connections, and interests combined with Facebook’s business priorities; that is the farthest thing from neutral.  Facebook says it just want to encourage “civic participation,” but politically mobilizing the subsection of people that are on their network is not without its own impacts.

    Ben Smith of Buzzfeed sees large opportunities for campaigns in the “inexpensive viral populism” Facebook can provide, he believes that the ”viral, mass conversation about politics on Facebook and other platforms has finally emerged as a third force in the core business of politics, mass persuasion.”  With digital ad spending up and over 500 campaigns now directly paying social media companies in this last cycle, the growth and reach of Facebook is only going to increase.  The most recent midterm elections alone saw 184.2 million likes, shares, and comments.  That means that future Karl Roves will need to know how to capitalize on the intricacies of targeting Facebook posts and ads.

    Taken together, this puts Facebook in an incredibly powerful position to determine the political future of the several countries where it is most popular.  Whether it wants this responsibility or not, Facebook has now become an integral part of the democratic process globally.

    This article originally appeared on Forbes — Disruption and Democracy.

    Check out my upcoming book, Identified: How They Are Getting To Know Everything About Us.

  • Drones Sighted by Pilots Landing at JFK Airport in New York City Show New Risks
    A string of drone sightings this week by airline pilots flying into John F. Kennedy International Airport highlights aviation risks posed by the increasingly popular unmanned aircraft.
  • Test Prep Company Uses Pictures Of Kim Kardashian's Derriere To Teach Kids Math
    This is one place we never expected to see pictures of Kim Kardashian’s behind: in SAT test-prep questions.

    Earlier this week, test preparation company Catalyst tweeted a photo of Kim Kardashian’s famous photos from Paper magazine with math questions on it. According to Catalyst founder and CEO Jared Friedland, the math questions involve “three types of circle questions that the SAT asks over and over again,” he told The Huffington Post over the phone.

    The company tweeted:

    As patriotic, pop-culturally-minded Americans, we couldn’t help but see Kim Kardashian’s recent photos as an opportunity to teach SAT math.

    — Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014

    #KimKardashian #SAT #math pic.twitter.com/SHpOw3KEvh

    — Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014

    #KimKardashian #SAT #math pic.twitter.com/E0u85CQPa9

    — Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014

    #KimKardashian #SAT #math pic.twitter.com/9DAoa9gxPZ

    — Catalyst Prep (@CatalystPrep) November 20, 2014

    Friedland told The Huffington Post that the company, which helps prepare students for the SATs and ACTs, tries to use “pop culture and humor to relay important strategies to students. Most other test prep companies take it as a given that if you’re preparing for the SATs or GRE it’s going to be a boring endeavor. We reject that notion.”

    While the tweets have since gained attention around the web, Friedland said, “This tweet was something we did on a lark. We, like many Americans, were checking out the photo shoot and the spread.”

    Follow HuffPost Teen on Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pheed |

  • Niche Apps: The Next Wave of Social Media
    Let’s face it, Facebook is a social media leviathan. With more users per day than some countries have people, the social networking phenomenon is beginning to run into a problem: it’s become too popular. In fact, even President Obama recognizes that it’s lost its luster; ever since mom, dad and your great aunt you haven’t seen in 10 years sent you a friend request. It’s become a place to track the growth of family members’ offspring and read about the 17 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Probably Your Best Friend.

    In fact, a recent report shows that holders of all things cool, millennials, are leaving Facebook with the social network down 3 million users in that demographic over the past three years.

    So where are these makers of cool going? They’re neglecting their Facebook apps in favor of more specified apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder and Yik Yak, where they’re less likely to run into their grandmothers.

    This shift in the coolness of the social media giants is causing a new wave of social media to enter the market: niche apps. While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow users to maintain contact with anyone who requests them, niche apps are designed to offer more specialized services, thus allowing people to make a different kind of connection with others. Users of niche apps sign up for accounts with a specific agenda in mind and use those apps to meet that specialized need, whether it be for dating a certain type of person or getting laundry delivered in their area.

    Even the social media giants are starting to get in on the niche trend. For example, Facebook now offers a messenger app that is entirely separate from its original app. The concept of creating apps and networks that allow people to meet others with similar interests or intentions offers a new realm of possibilities. These networks are meant for people of a certain profession or industry, or maybe for those with a specific hobby, or who have survived a serious illness, making niche social media apps the virtual support groups of the future.

    One reason why these niche apps are becoming so popular is the ever growing rise in preference of using mobile apps, rather than a computer with Internet access. Millennials are the makers of cool here because they were born at precisely the right time. The older members remember the earlier days of the Internet but are willing to adapt to the ever-changing atmosphere of technology, while the younger members don’t remember a life before iPhones and the App Store.

    As the popularity of mobile technology continues to grow, the demand for social media apps becomes more and more specialized. Facebook has too many features that just aren’t convenient for mobile use; Snapchat’s features are far more basic, mobile-friendly, and limited to a specific function: the app is to share nonpermanent images and small bursts of text with a user’s friends on the network, and nothing else. The conversations can’t be saved for later viewing; and a user’s prospective employee cannot simply access a Snapchat account to see what a user has been up to lately.

    Twitter has the brevity that mobile users appreciate, but its web presence and permanence of its posts also make it unattractive to Millennials who want to use social media as a way to vent about their lives without threat of repercussion. Enter: Yik Yak, whose anonymity allows users to post what they please without wondering if their boss will run into it. In fact, if a user tries to post identifying information such as a phone number on Yik Yak, the app will delete both the post and the account.

    As mobile continues to grow, it’s clear it is the future of social media. Young users crave social media that is more specific to their needs, and offers basic functions that are mobile-friendly, a need which niche apps readily meet. With need-specific apps growing in popularity over the last year, it’s obvious that 2015 will bring even more apps to quell even the quirkiest user desires.

    Kevin Deegan is Chief Technology Officer of On.com, a People Discovery Engine that helps users meet new people through photos. Deegan started his career at age 13 when he began writing code and creating websites, and has spent the last 7 years in the professional web/app development space. Deegan holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

  • Solving the Threat to our Energy Grid
    co-authored by Dr. Stephen Bryen, Founder & CTO Ziklag Systems

    2014-11-21-110901EnergyGridPhotohmed0910a.grid6x2.jpg

    Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency and head of the US Cyber Command has warned Congress that our energy grid is under threat of cyber attack. His warning comes after independent reports tracked intrusions targeting energy companies, health care systems and other components of our “critical infrastructure.” The warning advised the House Intelligence Committee about the threat, but it lacked concrete steps to prevent cyber attacks that could hobble the United States in a crisis.

    It is clear we need more than warnings. There is no thought through national policy on how to properly protect the energy grid, telecommunications, defense systems and industries, or our emergency preparedness system. Certainly the US government has warned for years about cyber vulnerabilities and urged computer security. But our policy makers, who mean good, haven’t the vaguest idea of what to do about protecting America’s computer-driven networks.

    Even so, a vast array of security companies, some tiny, some bigger, some traditional defense companies looking to expand their revenue base, have emerged offering different solutions, all of which sound like witch doctor incantations. None of them can demonstrate that their “solutions” have stopped any potential adversary from successfully attacking our critical infrastructure. All the empirical evidence points in the opposite direction. Despite spending, the situation is far worse now than ever before, and is likely to grow ever more dangerous. Countries such as China and Russia may have found our Achilles heel –they are acting that way and pouring in resources to do us in. They are smart to do so: it is highly profitable for them to steal our secrets, empty our banks and threaten our well being. The cyber attack industry also is semi-privatized, meaning that even rogue players can cause irredeemable harm. Are our nuclear missile systems safe from cyber attack? Our command and control systems secure? No one can say for sure.

    The problem concerns computer networks and machine controller systems known as SCADA. SCADA are systems that manage our refineries, power grids, nuclear power stations, manufacturing processes and anything that is automated. It was a Siemen’s SCADA system sold to Iran and used to refine uranium that was attacked by the now famous Stuxnet worm (ostensibly a joint US-Israeli attempt to slow Iran’s nuclear weapons program). We use the same exact systems just about everywhere. The Russians and Chinese no doubt have taken Stuxnet apart, so they know how to do it. Of course they were helped by all the nice cyber folks who published all of Stuxnet’s secrets!

    A good first step would be to design a new, secure SCADA controller that replaces all the SCADAs operating in our critical infrastructure. A US-only secure SCADA should replace SCADA devices everywhere in the critical infrastructure. The US government should sponsor a crash R&D program. It is important to do all this secretly. The Chinese and Russians and the rogue actors need to be kept totally in the dark.

    Fixing SCADA is only a first step, but a badly needed one.

    In parallel, we need new, secure operating systems for our sensitive computer networks to replace unsuitable commercial products which, unless changed out, will lead to our destruction. Commercial network operating systems cannot be repaired -they must be scrapped. This is a tall order: but we have the expertise to do the job. In fact, even the Chinese are already putting in place their own operating system development to keep Western intelligence agencies out. We can build even better ones. We need to urgently.

  • Briefly: Evernote 6.0, Bushel device management system
    Evernote has released a major update for its OS X app, bringing support for Yosemite. Over-all performance speed has been improved, introducing a redesigned interface with a lighter color theme, and new icons. Users now have more control over tables they create, with new color and style customizations available. Notes can be searched for via OS X’s Spotlight function, and sending notes to others can now be done while remaining in the app. Many bug fixes and crashing issues have also been resolved in the latest app iteration. Evernote is free to download, with premium subscriptions available.



  • Passwords: Secret Pieces of Us Revealing Something More
    My grandpa is one of those people who is very logical about everything, especially when it comes to passwords. He is the person who the tech people love, because he picks a random stream of numbers (there is that app that can randomly generate one for you) with no correlation to himself so no one would be able to hack it, and he also changes it often.

    We all know that the random string of numbers and letters formula should be followed when creating a password, and yet, a lot of us opt for something more personal, something that we can remember and that is a part of us–but we construct it in a way that will hopefully not be cracked by someone else.

    I personally am horrible when it comes to remembering random numbers–the fact that I know my I.D. number for school is a miracle–so I decided to take the cheesy route and use a variation of my anniversary date with my boyfriend because we got together when we were fifteen and that is of course what you did at the time. I still use it today because we are long distance and it is a way for me to take a part of him with me wherever I go (queue the “awws”).

    I saw this article in the New York Times, by Ian Urbina, about keepsake passwords, and the backgrounds for the password choices were so fascinating. People are making stories for their passwords without really thinking about it, and it was really interesting to see how they opened up to Urbina as he got them talking.

    The stories that really caught my attention were the motivational ones. I would have never thought to put a goal in a password, but it really makes sense. Passwords are things we have to draw upon and remember in our daily lives, so making one to help you eat healthier or to remind you of a hardship that you overcame and don’t want to go back to is probably one of the most clever things I have ever heard of.

    One of my favorites in the New York Times piece was the story of Mauricio Estrella’s motivational passwords and how most of them actually worked. One of these was: “to help quell his anger at his ex-wife soon after their divorce, Estrella had reset his password to “Forgive@h3r.”‘ And as he had to change his passwords, he kept the motivational ideas coming.

    So seeing these awesome stories got me thinking about what stories my fellow peers might have behind their passwords. When I went asking around to see what other people chose to lock away their emails and Facebooks with (which was slightly awkward considering I’m asking people to somewhat entrust me with something private), I was immensely impressed by how much thought was put into their passwords.

    In addition to making the passwords close to their hearts, a lot of people put considerable thought into what would trick others. I usually tack something extra on the end of mine in hopes that I won’t see some random hacking on my Facebook wall, but so many people took it to the next level.

    The three girls that were brave enough to share their passwords with me all had some sort of motivational/proud moment aspect attached to their passwords, as was expressed in the Times piece.

    Kalynn shared with me that at her community college, they were required to change their passwords every 90 days. This required some creativity and memory skills on her part, so she would always make them motivational to a goal she wanted to achieve that was related to school. One of hers was “transfer2014″ and that’s exactly what she did. She is now attending CSU San Marcos.

    She also said that she uses variances of her anniversary with her boyfriend, because that is an easy one to remember. Sentimental and motivational? This girl has got it down.

    My Swiss German partner in crime, Sarah, is the definition of a hard worker and a big dreamer. I always see her running around, textbooks in hand and schedule jam packed with events, because she knows she wants to graduate and move on to bigger and better things.

    When I asked her about some passwords she uses, she said “Ever since I was 5, I wanted to go to UC Santa Barbara, so my passwords always had something to do with UCSB.”

    As we know, opinions change, and she now attends UC Santa Cruz, but keeps the tradition up. She now uses UCSC as the basis for some of her passwords, along with other numbers to make sure no one can hack it.

    She also really likes to travel and makes passwords based on the places she wants to go. Some examples she shared were: something with Brazil in it for her music station passwords, bank stuff is locked away by something that contains Zürich, sports she does something with Australia, and social media gets Spain.

    I think that is really clever, especially since traveling seems to be on everyone’s agenda, though not many people actually make the effort to get out there and do the traveling bit. I have no doubt in my mind that Sarah will visit each and every place that she sets her mind to.

    Holli’s story is of a pride-based password. She’s one of those people who knows what she wants and will go out there and get it, and not let anyone stand in her way. She paid her way through college, got good grades, and graduated with a degree in something she loves and has a passion for.

    This was a proud moment for her, so her school’s name earns a place in her password, so she can be reminded of her accomplishment and remind herself to aim higher and dream bigger.

    Positive thoughts lead to positive results, and these passwords really let that logic shine through. The next time I need to change a password, I think I’ll definitely go the motivational route.

    While all the girls went for the motivational approach, the guys that I interviewed opted for more of a “what makes me, me” take on their passwords. There was a good mixture of childhood memories that got to tag along for the ride and still be used in passwords today, and also current hobbies/quirks that make them who they are.

    My boyfriend Ian is a true video game player, and loves the games inside and out. From storylines to the artistic wonders of the game, they are a work of art to him as much as they are something fun to do. He’s the kind of person who will spend three hours discussing the ending to a favorite game with a buddy, just like people love doing with books and movies.

    Because video games are a big part of his life, he likes to create passwords based on a few of his favorite characters and games at the time. This makes it easy for him to remember the passwords, as well as integrate a passion that makes him who he is.

    When I asked my friend David about his passwords, he said they were the “definition of nerdy.”

    “One of my passwords contains the name of my favorite anime character. I thought it would help since most people wouldn’t guess a Japanese name,” he said.

    I thought this was very clever since he was able to add a flare of who he is, while also thinking of how to avoid getting hacked.

    When Razma told me his password story, I couldn’t help but laugh at how cute it was. He said when he was five he made up an imaginary dog because his mom doesn’t like animals so he couldn’t have a real one.

    He uses the dog’s name for his password, so even if the hint “pet’s name” comes up, people will get confused because he has never had a pet. This is a great way to have a childhood memory live on, and trip potential hackers up along the way.

    I wanted to see if this streak of “what makes me, me” passwords would continue into different generations, so I asked my dad about his password.

    He said he uses his old license plate number from his first car back in Switzerland, where he grew up. He had his own car, but shared the plates with his dad, so they would have to trade off and wait until the other one was home before they could go anywhere. (In Switzerland the plates stay with the person, not with the car).

    He uses the password because it has letters and numbers (the techs are smiling), as well as a reminder of his dad, whom he doesn’t get to see very often, and of course the good old days of being 18.

    What’s so interesting about these stories is that the Times piece also found many people who use passwords that define themselves in some sort of way. Because in the end, making it about a memorable event or dream or aspiration is the best way to help us remember without making it easy to guess.

    Do you have a cool keepsake password that you now have a sudden urge to share with the world?

    The New York Times magazine will continue reporting on ”The Secret Life of Passwords.” If you have a keepsake story to share for publication, please email the reporter at urbina@nytimes.com. And obviously, please don’t send him current passwords.

    Maybe it’s motivational, maybe it’s about you, maybe it’s an ode to pizza because pizza is the bomb–who knows?

    Get your story out there and see who can relate.

    By: Francine Fluetsch, UC Santa Cruz

  • This Proposal From Space Will Warm Your Nerdy Little Heart
    One Seattle man took his love for his girlfriend to new heights – literally – by executing a marriage proposal from 90,000 feet in the air.

    In 2012, Jason Hakala of Cut Video (the same folks that brought you the viral pot-smoking grannies video) and a few of his friends planned to release a weather balloon into space to honor the 50th anniversary of John Glenn’s orbit around the earth. Jason had already been thinking about popping the question to his girlfriend Stella at that time and thought it would be cool to incorporate a proposal into the launch mission.

    “Initially that is what it was — a tribute video to space exploration with the addition of my proposal video,” he told The Huffington Post via email. “But later it became more about the proposal. I think there is something romantic about it, in a very nerdy and unique way.”

    cute couple photo
    Jason and Stella

    Jason and his team built a structure using PVC pipe and attached the weather balloon, an iPhone, a GoPro and a GPS unit, which they launched from a field three hours east of Seattle. The GoPro was pointed towards the iPhone as it played looped video of Jason’s marriage proposal, as well as the John Glenn tribute. (Watch above)

    2014-11-21-112114launch_recovery_02.JPG
    Jason and the structure post-flight. The iPhone still works!

    launch materials
    The launch materials

    weather balloon prep
    The weather balloon being filled with helium during launch prep

    They tracked the balloon’s path using the GPS unit so that they could find it when it landed several hours and 200 miles later. Stella was there for both the launch and the landing, but Jason said she never suspected a thing.

    aftr the launch
    The couple after the landing

    The following day, he took Stella and her family on a hike where he played her the proposal video footage from space (she, of course, said “Yes!”). The most romantic part of it all? The crazy amount of effort he put into it, she later told Jason.

    she said yes
    Stella after the proposal

    The happy couple first met in high school in Honolulu, Hawaii but reconnected 10 years later in Seattle. They married in Hawaii in August 2012 and are now parents to a 13-month-old daughter named Suvi, who can be seen in the adorable photo montage at the end of the video above.

    jason hakala family
    The Hakala family

    This just reinforces what we’ve always known: there’s simply no love like nerd love.

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

  • New York City Could Kill Uber If It Wanted To
    New York City taxi drivers want the city to revoke Uber’s license to operate. But there may be a simpler approach that might actually benefit New Yorkers: Just put more taxis on the street.

    Uber is thriving in New York mainly because bad government policy limiting the number of available taxis created a huge business opportunity. Better government policy can take it away.

    Neither Uber nor the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission immediately responded to requests for comment.

    Here’s a chart of the population of New York and the total number of licensed cabs in the city, going back to when its medallion system of taxi licensing was first introduced in 1937.

    new york taxis

    Astonishingly, there wasn’t a new medallion issued in New York for almost six decades: There were precisely 11,787 cabs in New York from 1937 to 1996, when the first modern medallion auction took place.

    Between 1996 and 2010, more than 1,400 new cabs hit the streets. That’s better than nothing, but it didn’t do much to change the ratio of people to cabs:

    new york cab people

    That basically flat line up to 2013 was Uber’s business opportunity. In an increasingly wealthy city with a growing population, the number of people per cabs stayed at post-war levels for decades after that made any sense.

    New York City doesn’t just need more cabs, it needs way more cabs per person. New York has about three cabs per 1000 residents. Washington, D.C., has twelve. Las Vegas has six.

    The further this people-per-cab line drops, the worse it is for Uber. The real improvement in this ratio didn’t come until Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s green “borough cabs” hit the street. Green cabs are just like the city’s iconic yellow cabs, except they can only be hailed outside of Manhattan (though they can drop riders off in Manhattan). Twelve-thousand green cabs started operating between 2013 and 2014. Another 6,000 are due to be licensed in 2015, along with 2,000 new yellow cabs between 2015 and 2017 (those cabs, which are still subject to final city approval, are the dotted lines in the charts).

    Uber all along has considered taxis to be the villains in its story. Uber is right that strictly limiting the number of cabs in New York is bad policy that enriches medallion owners and hurts riders. It also hurts the public as a whole –- even the non-taxi-riding public. Medallion sales are a solid source of revenue for New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget is counting on $1.5 billion in revenue from medallion sales over the next three years. For a city struggling to balance its budget, that’s significant.

    But if taxi owners are the villains, Uber is not necessarily the hero. Privatization doesn’t have to be the only response to bad public policy. The best response to bad public policy is often just good public policy. New York City could prove that by continuing to massively increase the size of the city’s regulated cab fleet.

  • Three Killer Photo Apps
    2014-11-21-0751.jpg

    As smartphone cameras continue to get better, mobile photography will amaze us even more. Social media has made us addicted to telling stories, and photos bring those stories to life.

    It’s not just about taking a good picture anymore. With the right photo app, you can transform memories into works of art.

    So, get off the default settings of your camera. Expand your options, and explore the apps below to hone your photography skills.

    1. Moldiv

    By the makers of JellyBus Inc., Moldiv offers a powerful photo collage editor. Select the type of collage you desire from a wide variety. Import pictures from your Photo Library or capture new images. No need to import photos one at a time. This app allows you to pick all of your photos for a single layout at once.

    Adjusting photos are even easier. For individual pictures, you can choose from 50 photo effects. Wherever your inspiration leads, zoom, pan, rotate, or mirror each photo. If you select “Frame Adjust,” you can control the ratio of the layout, corners, shadows, and spacing.

    If that wasn’t enough, Moldiv gives you the option to add text to your collages. From traditional to modern fonts, personalize your work. Choose your text’s color, texture, and pattern. Are you in love with stamps? This app has that covered, too. Mold any image into a cool stamp. Then, shape, rotate, or move your unique stamp.

    What’s a collage without the bragging? Save your collage in full resolution (standard, medium, or maximum). Let your friends experience your work. You can share via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr. All the best collage tools are packaged in this app, and you get a wonderful result.

    2. Cycloramic

    This app made a splash with its appearance on the TV show Shark Tank. Cycloramic provides perfect panoramic photos through visual and auditory cues. You receive up to 44MP panorama output. Plus, you can enhance your pictures with frames, stickers, and filters.

    For iPhone 5 and 5s users, simply balance your phone on a flat surface and the internal vibration motor will cause the phone to spin on its own. As the phone rotates, the app will take multiple photos and stitch them together. That’s it! Now, you have a great panoramic photo.

    No worries iPhone 6 users, you can enjoy the same great experience, too. Just place your phone between the prongs of your power adapter and the phone will spin. Unfortunately, these hands-free capabilities are not available on the iPhone 6 Plus, due to its size.

    3. Snapseed

    Mobile photo editing can be a hassle with multiple clicks. Snapseed provides an easy, usable interface. Now, you can simply swipe to adjust brightness, contrast, and color. You still get all the same powerful editing and enhancing capabilities.

    Swipe up and down to select your photo effects and left to right to adjust its strength. When editing, you have the option to compare your work to your previous edits. The app also includes a popular “tilt shift” effect that gives photos a miniaturized look.

    Spruce up your photography. No more excuses for pictures that look “blah.” Try these three amazing photo apps to give your pictures a well-deserved facelift.

    Image courtesy of Epicva.com

  • FCC Chief Braces For Wave Of Lawsuits Over Net Neutrality
    (New throughout, adds comments from Wheeler, background)
    By Marina Lopes
    WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) – U.S. regulators expect Internet service providers to sue the government over any changes in the way they are regulated and must reevaluate any proposals to make sure they stand up in court, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said at a meeting on Friday.
    Last week U.S. President Barack Obama said Internet service providers should be regulated more like public utilities to make sure they grant equal access to all content providers. This touched off intense protests from cable television and telecommunications companies and Republican lawmakers.
    “Let’s make sure that we understand what is going on here. The big dogs are going to sue regardless of what comes out,” Wheeler said.
    “We need to make sure that we have sustainable rules, and that starts with making sure that we have addressed the multiplicity of issues that come along and are likely to be raised,” he added.
    Wheeler did not explicitly address the reclassification of Internet service providers and a spokesman said he is still evaluating multiple options. Experts have said reclassification could be challenging to argue in court. A decision is not expected before 2015.
    On Nov. 12, AT&T Inc said it would stop investing in high-speed Internet connections in 100 cities until the Web rules were settled. (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by David Gregorio)
  • Forums: Siri fails and iOS 8.1.1 comments
    This week in the MacNN forums, members share amusing tales of times that Siri has failed them, providing examples of how Siri doesn’t always understand what is really going on. Comments are piling up faster than the snow in Buffalo about the latest update to iOS 8, with some saying it made things better while others aren’t so sure it has helped much at all.



  • This Smartphone Case Prints Your Photos Instantly
    Remember Polaroid cameras? Back in the day, the idea of snapping a picture and seeing the results instantly was amazing.

    Now, our favorite camera — the smartphone — doesn’t allow for instant prints, but a small company based in France might soon make that function a reality. The startup Prynt is developing a smartphone app and case that works as a printer to print pictures straight from a phone.

    CEO Clément Perrot stopped by the TechCrunch headquarters to show off the prototype.

    The whole thing appears to work simply enough. You can snap and print a picture instantly with two clicks of a button, or open the app and pull photos from your camera roll or social networks to print them.

    The photo prints in about 50 seconds.

    The current prototype holds one sheet of photo paper and prints a photo in 50 seconds, Perrot explains in the TechCrunch video. However, the company aims to have the device print photos in 30 seconds and hold up to 30 sheets by the time it launches next year.

    Photos are currently sent from a smartphone to the printer using Bluetooth technology, but the final product will plug into the phone, making the process quicker, according to the company’s site. Within the app, users will be able to order the paper, estimated to be 30 cents per sheet, according to TechCrunch.

    The product is expected to sell for $99 in a Kickstarter campaign to be launched in January 2015, Chief Marketing Officer Vikram Chudasama told The Huffington Post via email. The prototype currently fits smartphones with about 4-inch screens, but Perrot told TechCrunch the company plans to make bigger models as well. The app works with iOS and Android.

  • European Parliament Eyes Google Break-Up
    (Adds details of probe, context, lawmakers and industry comments)
    By Alexei Oreskovic, Julia Fioretti and Alastair Macdonald
    Nov 21 (Reuters) – The European Parliament is preparing a non-binding resolution that proposes splitting Google Inc’s search engine operations in Europe from the rest of its business as one possible option to rein in the Internet company’s dominance in the search market.
    European politicians have grown increasingly concerned about Google’s and other American companies’ command of the Internet industry, and have sought ways to curb their power. A public call for a break-up would be the most far-reaching action proposed and a significant threat to Google’s business.
    The draft motion does not mention Google or any specific search engine, though Google is by far the dominant provider of such services in Europe with an estimated 90 percent market share. Earlier on Friday, the Financial Times described a draft motion as calling for a break-up of Google.
    Google declined to comment.
    The motion seen by Reuters “calls on the Commission to consider proposals with the aim of unbundling search engines from other commercial services as one potential long-term solution” to leveling the competitive playing field.
    Parliament has no power to initiate legislation and lacks the authority to break up corporations, and while the draft motion is a non-binding resolution, it would step up the pressure on the European Commission to act against Google.
    Google already faces stern criticism in Europe about everything from privacy to tax policies, and has been wrestling with a European court’s ruling that requires it to remove links from search results that individuals find objectionable.
    The company has grown so large as to inspire distrust in many corners, with a chorus of public criticism from politicians and business executives.
    “It’s a strong expression of the fact that things are going to change,” said Gary Reback, a U.S. attorney who has filed complaints on behalf of companies against Google over fair search. “The parliament doesn’t bind the commission for sure, but they have to listen.”

    RESOLUTION “VERY LIKELY” TO BE ADOPTED
    Europe’s new antitrust chief said she would take some time to decide on the next step of the four-year investigation into the Internet search leader, after her predecessor had scrapped a proposed settlement with the company.
    European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who took over from Joaquin Almunia on Nov. 1, said she would take a representative sample of views from parties involved in the case and check on the latest industry developments before taking any action.
    Resentment, however, has been building in Europe for years.
    Google has tried to counter that mistrust, which its executives believe is linked to European perceptions of the United States in general. But recent revelations about U.S. surveillance practices, including that Washington monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, have ignited a strong backlash, particularly in Germany, where the historic experiences of Nazism and Communism have left people deeply suspicious of powerful institutions controlling personal data.
    Andreas Schwab, the German Christian Democrat lawmaker who co-sponsored the resolution, told Reuters it was “very likely” it would be adopted as both his own center-right group, the largest in parliament, and the main center-left group supported it. Schwab proposed the resolution along with Spanish centrist Ramon Tremosa earlier this week.
    In a statement on Wednesday, the two said Google had failed to propose adequate remedies during the antitrust investigation by the commission. Vestager has said she wants time to study the dossier after her predecessor decided against a settlement with Google that would have ended the case.
    Google “continued thereby to suppress competition to the detriment of European consumers and businesses,” Schwab and Tremosa said.
    In a position paper, they cited a number of possible solutions to what they saw as Google’s abusive dominant position in search engines and its ability to drive Internet traffic to favored sites. If these failed, then, they suggested, legislation should be tried.
    “In case the proceedings against Google carry on without any satisfying decisions and the current anti-competitive behavior continues to exist, a regulation of the dominant online web search should be envisaged,” they said.
    Reflecting broad suspicion of Google, other parties in parliament may also support the non-binding resolution.
    Jan Philipp Albrecht of the Greens said: “Search engines like Google should not be allowed to use their market power to push forward other commercial activities of the same company.
    Officials at the European Commission could not be immediately reached for comment.
    It was also not clear how U.S. regulators would respond. In a major victory for Google, U.S. regulators in 2013 ended an investigation into the Internet company and concluded that it had not manipulated Web search results to hurt rivals. It did get Google to agree to change some of its business practices, including halting the “scraping” of reviews and other data from rivals’ websites for its own products.
    Rivals such as Yelp Inc argue that the company is squeezing them out in Internet search results.
    The review site, which has complained that Google ranks its own content higher than Yelp’s, said on Friday that the Internet search service harms users by favoring its own products, for instance social network Google+, which also carries review content.
    “By hardwiring Google+ in the largest category of search, Google isn’t just stifling innovation, it’s harming consumers,” Luther Lowe, Yelp Director of Public Policy, told Reuters. (Additional reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco, writing by Edwin Chan; editing by James Dalgleish, Peter Henderson and Bernard Orr)

  • VIDEO: Twitter co-founder defends application
    The chairman and co-founder of Twitter is in London for the global launch of his new company ‘Square’.
  • Holiday Gifts for Girl Geeks
    While there may be a dearth of women in Silicon Valley’s C-suite, there is no shortage of women who love high-tech gadgets. To keep those women filled with joy this holiday season, check out these innovative gift ideas for girl geeks. Of course, geeky guys may like them too.

    2014-11-18-Sleepbracelet.jpg

    Getting to sleep can be challenging for those who can’t say goodnight to their devices. The perfect gift for those whose circadian rhythms could use a little help is a sleep bracelet from Philip Stein. The bracelet uses natural frequency technology to help us dream sweetly. Wear it nightly and get some rest this holiday season, and beyond. (philipstein.com, $395).

    2014-11-19-KitchenThermometerLifestyleiPhone_Chicken2.jpg
    Struggling with a giant Thanksgiving turkey or a small candy recipe? Foodies will love iDevice’s kitchen thermometer. While it can’t cook dinner for you, it will tell your phone when your food has reached the perfect temperature and is ready to serve. Although the two probes may be reminiscent of Frankenstein, they allow cooks to keep track of two meals at once. (iDevice.com, $79.99).

    2014-11-19-GalileoBlack2x2.jpg
    Holidays are filled with memorable photo ops. Why not give those boring selfies a break and get a more sophisticated picture experience with Motrr’s Galileo. This handy docking station lets users take 360 degree panorama shots, time lapse photos and can even track movement. And if you are not home, you can control the device from your computer and still get a perfect shot of Santa sliding down the chimney. (motrr.com, $149).

    2014-11-18-surface.jpg
    Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is another cool gift with multiple unusual functions. My favorite is the pen’s ability to take a screenshot of any web page with just one click. Users can then mark up web pages, pictures and documents and share them with friends and colleagues. Casual writers will love OneNote, the device’s super easy way to write anything from lists to a novel. (bestbuy.com $799).

    2014-11-18-mirror.jpg
    Every woman needs to look amazing before she can tackle those fabulous holiday parties. One of the most advanced (and fun) mirrors on the market is the Simple Human sensor mirror. This high tech make up mirror lights up when you approach it, and then turns itself off when you walk away. The mirror also simulates natural sunlight, is cordless, and is powered by an environmentally friendly LED bulb. (simplehuman.com, $200).

    Happy Holidays!

  • Study uses dermatology app to monitor for melanoma risk related to sun exposure

    Swedish researchers test a smartphone based telemedicine platform for assessing sun exposure & risk of malignancy.

    The post Study uses dermatology app to monitor for melanoma risk related to sun exposure appeared first on iMedicalApps.

Mobile Technology News, November 21, 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.

  • Uber's Michael Said To Retain Support Amid Controversial Remarks
    Emil Michael, the Uber Technologies Inc. executive whose criticisms of journalists led to calls for his firing this week, is so far withstanding that pressure.
  • Ship times for iPhone 6 models now dropping in time for holidays
    The US online Apple Store has recently revised the wait time for an online-ordered iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, just in time for the holiday buying season. The units are still very constrained, but are slowly catching up with demand, based on changes to ship times on Apple’s website. The two higher-end iPhone 6 models now have a US ship time of seven to 10 days, while the 16GB model now has a five-to-seven day wait time. The larger iPhone 6 Plus has dropped to a seven-to-10 day shipping window for the 16GB model, but still has longer times on larger-capacity units.



  • Crowd investing opens up high finance
    How crowd investment platforms are shaking up start-up land
  • VIDEO: The drone that fights fires
    BBC Click looks at some of the week’s technology highlights.
  • Russian site lists breached webcams
    Data privacy watchdogs are warning the public about a Russian website that provides links to breached webcams, baby monitors and CCTV feeds.
  • VIDEO: 'Childbirth pain' lessons for men
    A hospital in China is trying to teach fathers-to-be about the experience of giving birth.
  • Briefly: Carousel by Dropbox for iPad, new iPhone cases
    Photo gallery and sharing app, Carousel, has received an update, now allowing support for iPad users. The Dropbox-made app provides a private way to share, store and organize image and video content, and instantly back up files to one’s Dropbox account. In addition to now supporting use on iPad, the latest version of Carousel now supports integration with Instagram and Whatsapp. Free to download, Carousel requires iOS 7 or later.



  • 'Sweet Peach' Probiotic, Developed By Two Men, Will Make Women's Vaginas Smell Like Peaches
    Two science startup dudes introduced a new product idea this week: a probiotic supplement that will make women’s vaginas smell like peaches.

    Austin Heinz and Gilad Gome, the founders of biotech startups Cambrian Genomics and Personalized Probiotics respectively, previewed their plans for a line of customer-specific probiotics, including the “Sweet Peach,” at the Nov. 19 DEMO conference. The probiotic is designed to prevent yeast infections and UTIs, but will also make women’s genitals smell like ripe fruit.

    “The idea is personal empowerment,” Heinz said during the presentation, according to Inc.’s Jeff Bercovici. “All your smells are not human. They’re produced by the creatures that live on you.”

    Initial reactions to “Sweet Peach,” which the pair hope to crowdfund using Tilt, have been negative. Nitasha Tiku at ValleyWag called the proposal a “waste of science,” Selena Larson at Daily Dot found it “completely outrageous,” and Maria Aspan wrote in a piece for Inc., “can they please keep their peachy bullshit far, far away from my uterus?”

    In a phone interview with The Huffington Post, Heinz said that the idea was inspired by their friends’ and girlfriends’ recurring issues with UTIs and yeast infections.

    “We have no intentions of making all women’s vaginas smell like peaches,” he told HuffPost. “The idea is to pair DNA sequencing with DNA synthesis so that we can sequence microbiomes and then write personalized solutions for people.”

    It’s unclear why one of these solutions is “correcting” women’s natural odors — and essentially creating yet another reason for women to feel bad about their bodies — but Heinz is unconcerned about the negative backlash thus far.

    “Usually the first wave of press around something is pretty unsavory,” he told HuffPost. “And then people find the science behind it.”

  • OMG! Teen Breaks His Own Speed-Texting World Record
    This Brazilian teen is all thumbs — really quick thumbs.

    Watch Marcel Fernandes Filho break his own Guinness World Record for the fastest time to type a text message on a mobile device.

    Guinness said that Filho, who used a Fleksy keyboard app on an iPhone 6 Plus, typed the following in 17 seconds without any errors:

    “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”

    And you thought you were good when you could write something like “ru at concrt?” while sipping a soda.

    Filho reset the record Nov. 7 in Brooklyn, New York.

    Last spring, he banged out the same phrase in 18.19 seconds.

    A college student majoring in physics, Filho told CNN after his previous effort that despite his texting proficiency, he has his priorities straight. “I don’t consider myself addicted to using smartphones, as I don’t spend all day using them,” he said.

    Anyway, congratulations to the best in text.

  • This App Knows Your Drink Preference Better Than You Do
    It’s no big secret that the craft beer scene has exploded in recent years, which means consumers are sometimes faced with an intimidating selection on store shelves. The choice is no longer “Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada,” but “Allagash Curieux or Stone Ruination or Zombie Dust or Old Heathen Imperial Stout…”

    A new app called NextGlass wants to help you manage all of your beer (and wine) options by personally crafting recommendations based on your tastes. You tell the app what you like, then hold your phone up to a drink’s label in a store to receive its estimation of how much you’ll like it:

    nextglass taste profile
    You tell NextGlass what you like, then it uses your phone’s camera to scan drink labels and let you know how much you’ll like them.

    What makes NextGlass stand out is how it makes those recommendations. Unlike other recommendation apps, it’s not predicting what you’ll like based on similar brands or what other people say. Rather, it uses the actual chemical makeup of the drink. Trace Smith, the company’s chief operating officer, said that around 30,000 bottles of beer and wine have been tested for the app using a high-resolution mass spectrometer — a device that measures chemicals in a substance.

    “Each bottle that we run through the mass-spec, we get over 20,000 individual chemical attributes. We’re looking at each of these bottles at a molecular level,” Smith told The Huffington Post during a phone interview. “We see the data of what they do and don’t like, and based on that info, we see what other bottles they’ll like.”

    nextglass beer
    NextGlass also tells you how much alcohol, calories, and carbs are in a given drink.

    Once you try a beverage, you can rate it on a four-star scale in the app. NextGlass looks for trends in the chemical makeups of the brands you like, and uses that information to predict how much you’ll like something else. To make sure they had a good handle on how to use the data, the NextGlass team worked with Sean Owen, a former senior software engineer at Google and current director of data science at Cloudera.

    NextGlass also has a social networking component, so you can add friends and cross-reference tastes — if you’re planning for a party, say.

    Smith told HuffPost that moving forward, NextGlass may be available on desktops so you can network and look drinks up without your phone. He also said that, big-picture, the team would like to expand the data they look at beyond wine and beer.

    “We’d love to be able to have our users walk into a Safeway or a Public or a Costco and scan a box of cereal or a jar of peanut butter or an Odwalla drink and be able to see a score and say, will I like this? Will my wife like this?” Smith said.

    The app is free and available on iOS and Google Play. Smith said the app will always be free for users, but starting in 2015, NextGlass hopes to offer analytics from the app to retailers and breweries to help companies reach users based on their tastes.

  • Google and Rockstar end patent suit
    Google and patent consortium Rockstar – which includes Apple as an investor – agree to settle a patent litigation suit.
  • VIDEO: Can Candy Crush strike lucky twice?
    The creators of the wildly successful mobile game Candy Crush release its follow-up: Candy Crush Soda Saga.
  • VIDEO: Warning over webcam streaming sites
    The public is being warned about a Russian website that is streaming live footage from thousands of webcams in people’s homes.
  • America First Credit Union begins offering Apple Pay support
    Another bank, America First Credit Union, has announced support for Apple Pay. Beginning today, customers will be able to register AFCU’s Visa card, and use it to make mobile payments. Apple Pay requires an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus at retail; for app-based payments, people can also use an iPad Air 2 or an iPad mini 3. Early next year, the Apple Watch will become another retail option.



  • New Kickstarter wearable, Hush, aims to outperform other sleep peripherals

    These cleverly designed smart ear plugs take a completely different approach to sleep

    The post New Kickstarter wearable, Hush, aims to outperform other sleep peripherals appeared first on iMedicalApps.

  • A Stanford University Debate: Transhumanism vs. Anarcho-Primitivism
    2014-11-19-ZoltanvsZerzandebatephoto.jpg
    Zoltan vs. Zerzan Debate — Photo by Kourosh Afrashteh of Project Prometheus

    Last Saturday night at Stanford University, I had the honor of publicly debating the world’s leading anarcho-primitivist philosopher John Zerzan. As a transhumanist, I differ from Zerzan on just about every topic. According to Wikipedia, anarcho-primitivism “advocates for a return to a non-’civilized’ way of life through deindustrialization.” Transhumanism advocates for the continued use of science and technology to improve and change the human species. Simply put, Zerzan encourages everyone to give up civilization and go back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. And I encourage everyone to do more to speed up technological and scientific progress. It was a meeting of polar opposite views. The debate headline was: Zoltan vs. Zerzan.

    Hosted by the Stanford Transhumanist Association in the university’s Geology Corner Auditorium, the debate was deliberately formal. John and I each took three 5-10 minute turns at a podium. Additionally, a 20 minute Q & A followed the debate. Unfortunately, the main video camera recording the event failed. Luckily, a second recording exists from laptops that captured the entire debate, but the quality is mediocre at best. Additionally, the footage misses the most exciting parts of the event, such as loud anti-civilization hecklers or the anarchist-dominated 140-person audience. The vibe in the auditorium was quite tense, and some transhumanists were worried about safety issues because no university security was present. In the very back stood people who some suggested were black bloc participants: individuals who dress in black, wear face-concealing masks and gear, and cause civil unrest. Many of them came to meet John Zerzan, who is well known as a past confidant of the Unabomber and has also had associations with many anarchist-type groups.

    All this made for an exciting event. Below I share just a small portion of some of the most interesting statements made in the debate. Some of the sentences are verbatim, and others are paraphrased for easier reading.

    2014-11-19-hpzerzan3.jpg
    Zoltan Istvan and John Zerzan during Q & A — Photo by Stanford Transhumanist Association

    EXCHANGE I:

    Zoltan Istvan: Imagine what the world would look like if we gave up some of the technologies we have, if we gave up progress, if we essentially gave up civilization. The world would be very difficult, at least for all of us in the modern world today. John Zerzan and a lot of anarcho-primitivists are asking us to give up the modern world that we have evolved through, that we have adapted to, that we have created.

    John Zerzan: I consider transhumanism an unhealthy fantasy. Primitive lifestyles–a time before domestication–didn’t destroy the natural world, didn’t objectify women, didn’t have armies and temples and war, didn’t have everyone working their ass off, like we have now.

    EXCHANGE II:

    Zoltan Istvan: I’m going to begin with a story, perhaps one of the luckiest things I’ve done in my life. I was the first foreigner to visit basically an untouched primitive tribe in the island nation of Vanuatu in 1995. I returned and filmed the tribe six years later for the National Geographic Channel. The problem there is that almost half the people born in the village don’t survive to adulthood. What anarcho-primitivists are forgetting, that while primitive lifestyles might be more natural and harmonious with nature, people like that don’t have the medicines, technology, and science to stop basic diseases and early death. The village lived in a constant state of mourning due to the frequent deaths of its people.

    2014-11-19-MarekiBushTribe1.jpg
    Zoltan Istvan greets the chief of Mareki village — Photo by Zoltan Istvan

    John Zerzan: Zoltan said people could get to be astronauts if they wanted. I don’t think that’s a healthy thing a person would want, to tell you the truth. Consider what it takes to take a picture of the Earth from the moon. There’s a massive industrial basis for that. In fact, there’s an industrial basis for so many of the nice modern things we have today. Except the cost is the destruction of this plant, destruction of the biosphere. That is unmistakable.

    EXCHANGE III (closing statements):

    Zoltan Istvan: This question sums up the difference between transhumanists and anarcho-primitivists: Why is being an astronaut cool? Zerzan said he didn’t think it was “cool.” It’s the symbolism of the question: Who are we? What are we doing on Earth? Where are we going? Transhumanists want to survive and thrive. We want to conquer nature. For a lot of humans that want to become more than they are–being an astronaut, being a scientist, being an explorer…conquering disease, conquering death, conquering the things that plague humanity–these are some of the coolest, most beautiful, most meaningful experiences that humans have ever had.

    In short, a lot of the problems, a lot of the suffering, a lot of the dilemmas that the human race faces will be eliminated, cured, fixed, and overcome by technology–and that is something that is going to make us all better.

    John Zerzan: We haven’t talked about the one big issue in the world: overpopulation. It turns there are two big institutional events that created the unnatural population levels on Earth. The first is domestication in our species. The second is the Industrial Revolution, which is the basis for all modern technology, and which occurred because of millions of people doing grunt work. You have to basically enslave millions of people to have your toys.

    I read on Zoltan’s website a quote he wrote: “We didn’t evolve through billions of years to remain animals.” But we are animals. And some transhumanists want to become machines. I don’t quite get that. Zoltan and I are really on opposite sides.

    CONCLUSION:

    John Zerzan and Zoltan Istvan amicably shake hands. They are both actively looking for other venues to debate each other in again.

  • Feminist Hacker Barbie
    Internet users create a web app to edit the pages of a controversial Barbie book.
  • Fewer People Plan To Shop On Thanksgiving This Year
    Could the country’s biggest box stores be losing their so-called “War on Thanksgiving”?

    Fewer Americans plan to spend their turkey day shopping this year compared to 2013, according to a report released Thursday by the National Retail Federation.

    Only 18.3 percent of people (25.6 million people) who said they will shop on Thanksgiving weekend plan to do so on Thanksgiving Day, according to NRF. That’s down from the 23.5 percent of holiday shoppers who said they would shop on Thanksgiving Day last year.

    The NRF polled 6,593 people, 61.1 percent of whom said they plan to shop either Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Based on the poll, the NRF expects 140.1 million Americans to shop throughout the course of the weekend, which is down slightly from the 140.3 million expected last year.

    The decline comes as more and more of the nation’s biggest retailers prepare to kick off their holiday shopping sales on Thanksgiving Day, instead of the following day, known as Black Friday.

    Considered the biggest shopping weekend of the year, Black Friday and the days around it have grown into a giant turf war for the nation’s brick-and-mortar stores, all struggling to stave off the effects of a sluggish economic recovery and facing fierce competition from online retailers.

    Kmart plans to kick off its Black Friday sales at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and stay open 42 hours straight. Most Walmart stores will be open all day on Thanksgiving as well, with Black Friday deals starting at 6 p.m.

    Jeff Shelman, a spokesman for Best Buy, recently told The Huffington Post that the electronics retailer began stretching its Black Friday shopping into Thanksgiving Day last year after noticing it was losing shoppers to competitors who opened earlier on Thursday.

    “The reality is, customers have shown that they want to shop on Thanksgiving evening, and we want to be there to serve those customers,” Shelman said.

    Deisha Barnett, a spokeswoman for Walmart, said the nation’s biggest retailer is “cautiously optimistic” about Thanksgiving weekend.

    “Competition is definitely heavy out there,” Barnett said. She did not disclose how many shoppers she expects to come out on Thanksgiving this year.

    Last year, sales on Black Friday actually fell 13.2 percent compared to 2012 because more shoppers were coming out on Thursday. Stores generally count on holiday shopping for a huge portion of their annual sales.

    In recent years, however, this aggressive push has come under scrutiny from shoppers and workers who accuse large retailers of waging war on Thanksgiving — a day, like Christmas, when stores have historically remained closed. Many low-wage workers now have to sacrifice the holiday to staff store openings that are generally pretty chaotic, and sometimes even dangerous.

    That said, retailers maintain that Thanksgiving weekend has become the “Super Bowl” of the retail industry, and that employees generally are pretty excited to work.

  • 'Poorest of poor' test talking tech
    A charity is to give away 2,000 Talking Book audio computers to some of Ghana’s poorest communities after securing funds from Unicef and ARM.
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