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Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • Sony's Interview makes $15m online
    Controversial Sony film The Interview becomes the studio’s most downloaded film ever, just four days after its release online.
  • 'The Interview' Becomes Sony's No. 1 Online Movie Of All Time
    By Liana B. Baker

    Dec 28 (Reuters) – Sony Pictures said on Sunday that the “The Interview” had been purchased or rented online more than 2 million times, generating more than $15 million in the first four days after the controversial comedy’s wide theatrical release was shelved.

    This would rank the film, which angered North Korea and triggered a cyberattack against the studio, as the No. 1 online movie ever released by Sony Pictures, the company said in a statement.

    The film has also brought in $2.8 million in the limited theatrical run that began Christmas Day in more than 300 mostly independent theaters, according to tracking firm Rentrak.

    Sony is likely to reap larger receipts. The company’s first online revenue figures do not include Apple’s iTunes purchases or rentals after Apple agreed on Sunday to carry the movie on iTunes, the biggest and most-used store of online content.

    The $44 million film starring Seth Rogen and James Franco had been expected to gross at least $20 million in its opening holiday weekend if it had gone to wide release, according to Boxoffice.com.

    After large movie theater chains refused to screen the comedy following threats of violence from hackers who opposed the film, Sony stitched together a limited release in theaters and a $5.99 video-on-demand (VOD) rental option on YouTube, Google Play and other sites starting Dec. 24. (Reporting by Liana B. Baker and Mary Milliken; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

  • Sony Says PlayStation Still Has Problems, Is Getting Back Online
    By Jim Finkle and Liana B. Baker
    BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Sony Corp’s PlayStation Network suffered connection problems for a fourth straight day since hackers attacked the video game network, and the company said on Sunday that service was gradually being restored.
    The hacker activist group known as Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for disrupting both the PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Live on Christmas Day. Service was restored to Xbox Live on Friday.
    “We are currently experiencing widespread network issues that are being addressed,” Sony said in a statement on PlayStation’s maintenance website.
    Hours earlier, Catherine Jensen, vice president of consumer experience at Sony Computer Entertainment America, said on the PlayStation blog that the network was “back online.”
    Some gamers said on Twitter that they were able to access the PlayStation Network on Sunday, but others took to the microblogging site to complain about the continuing outage. It was not clear how many of the 56 million video gamers who use PlayStation still suffered problems.
    On Sony’s Twitter customer support account, AskPlayStation, a representative wrote, “Network services are gradually coming back online.”
    Sony has been the victim of some of the most high-profile security breaches in history.
    In late November, Sony Pictures’ computer system was taken down by hackers protesting the film, “The Interview,” which depicted the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed the North Korean government for the attack.
    Lizard Squad has claimed responsibility for attacks on the PlayStation Network in early December and August of this year. The August attack coincided with a bomb scare in which Lizard Squad tweeted to American Airlines that it heard explosives were on board a plane carrying an executive with Sony Online Entertainment.
    In 2011, hackers stole data belonging to 77 million PlayStation Network users.

    (Editing by Tiffany Wu)

  • 'The Interview' Is Now Available On iTunes
    After being made available on YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and Sony’s own film-dedicated site, “The Interview” is now on iTunes. Apple added the comedy on Sunday, available for rent at $5.99 or purchase at $14.99 in the U.S..

    “We’re pleased to offer ‘The Interview’ for rental or purchase on the iTunes Store,” Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr said in a statement.

    “The Interview” also opened in 331 theaters across the nation this Christmas weekend, earning $2.8 million from its limited release.

    In other news about “The Interview”: Seth Rogen and James Franco and co-director Evan Goldberg will live tweet the film with fans starting at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday.

    Tomorrow @JamesFrancoTV, @evandgoldberg and myself will be LIVE TWEETING #TheInterview at 2pm PST! Join us! It’ll be like Pop-UP Video!

    — Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 28, 2014

  • Facebook Apologizes To Bereaved Father For 'Year In Review'
    Facebook rolled out a new feature this December called “Year In Review,” a post that showed up on users’ News Feeds highlighting their most popular photos of the year. Users could view their Year In Review and choose to share it with friends with a line reading “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.”

    For some, however, 2014 was not such a “great year,” and some were upset to see these automatically generated posts appear in their News Feeds. Web design consultant and writer Eric Meyer was disturbed to see that his Year In Review featured photos of his daughter, who died this year.

    “For those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year,” Meyer wrote in a blog post last Wednesday.

    “To show me Rebecca’s face and say ‘Here’s what your year looked like!’ is jarring,” Meyer wrote. “It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong. Coming from code, it’s just unfortunate.” The Washington Post’s Andrea Peterson highlighted Meyer’s blog in a story Friday, bringing it to Facebook’s attention.

    Facebook expressed remorse for the accident in its response. “[The app] was awesome for a lot of people, but clearly in this case we brought him grief rather than joy,” Jonathan Gheller, the product manager for Facebook’s Year in Review app told the Post. The team is considering ways to improve the Year In Review, he said. Gheller also personally emailed Meyer an apology.

    In a blog posted Saturday called “Well, That Escalated Quickly,” Meyer said he did not expect an apology from Facebook. In fact, he says he didn’t even expect that anyone but his close friends and family would read his blog.

    “So the first thing I want to say: I owe the Year in Review team in specific, and Facebook in general, an apology. No, not the other way around,” Meyer wrote. He said that the email from Gheller was “sincerely apologetic,” and Meyer is sorry that he “dropped the Internet on his head for Christmas. He and his team didn’t deserve it.”

    Facebook did not immediately respond to request for further comment from The Huffington Post.

  • 24 Of The Most Awe-Inspiring Astrophotos Of 2014
    Don’t get us wrong. Space-based telescopes like Hubble and Spitzer brought us absolutely stunning images of deep space this year.

    But some of the most out-of-this-world images of space taken in 2014 came from star-obsessed photographers right here on Earth.

    Your friends at HuffPost Science asked you to share your best astrophotography, and we’ve rounded up the best right here–along with our favorites from around the web.

    Just take a look below for 24 photos of auroras, the Milky Way, the Supermoon, and more. Enjoy!

    Photos curated by Damon Scheluer and Macrina Cooper-White.

  • VIDEO: The most tweeted and posted of 2014
    Social media monitoring company Brandwatch has revealed 2014′s most talked about news event.
  • Congress Likely To Make Big Decisions On Drones Next Year

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is on the verge of proposing long-awaited rules for commercial drone operations in U.S. skies, but key decisions on how much access to grant drones are likely to come from Congress next year.

    Federal Aviation Administration officials have said they want to release proposed rules before the end of this month, but other government and industry officials say they are likely to be delayed until January. Meanwhile, except for a small number of companies that have received FAA exemptions, a ban on commercial drone flights remains in place. Even after rules are proposed, it is likely to be two or three years before regulations become final.

    That’s too long to wait, say drone industry officials. Every year the ban remains in place, the United States loses more than $10 billion in potential economic benefits that drones could provide, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, a trade group.

    “We need some sort of process that allows some of the low-risk operations,” said Jesse Kallman, the head of regulatory affairs for Airware, a drone technology company backed by Google Ventures. “I think Congress understands that, and hopefully they’ll take steps in the coming year to address that.”

    That appears to be what some key lawmakers have in mind. “We in Congress are very interested in UAS,” Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said at a hearing this month, referring to unmanned aerial systems, or drones. “We understand UAS are an exciting technology with the potential to transform parts of our economy. … It is our responsibility to take a close look.”

    One of the committee’s first priorities next year is writing legislation to reauthorize FAA programs and overhaul aviation policy. The bill is expected to include directions from lawmakers on how to integrate drones into the nation’s aviation system. The last reauthorization bill, passed in 2012, directed the agency to integrate drones by Sept. 30, 2015, but it’s clear the FAA will miss that deadline.

    The FAA is expected to propose restricting drones weighing less than 55 pounds to altitudes below 400 feet, forbid nighttime flights and require drones be kept within sight of their operators. Drone operators may also be required to get pilot’s licenses, a possibility already drawing fire from critics who say the skills needed to fly a manned aircraft are different from those needed to operate a drone.

    Shuster indicated he’s concerned that requiring pilot’s licenses might be burdensome and unnecessary. And keeping drones within sight of operators would be too strict and limit their usefulness, he said.

    The reason for keeping drones within line of sight is that they don’t yet have the ability to detect and avoid other aircraft.

    AUVSI, the drone industry trade group, recently hired Mark Aitken, former legislative director to Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., as its government relations manager. LoBiondo is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, which will write the FAA reauthorization bill.

    “We’re really looking at an incremental approach still,” Aitken said. “It’s not something that is going to happen overnight.”

    FAA officials have been working on drone regulations for nearly a decade. The agency twice drafted regulations that were later rejected by the White House or Transportation Department. The FAA has long maintained that unmanned aircraft must meet the same regulations as manned aircraft unless waiving or adjusting those regulations doesn’t create a safety risk. However, FAA officials more recently have begun talking about “risk-based” regulations, giving industry officials hope the agency might propose a blanket exemption from regulations for the smallest drones — usually defined as weighing under 5 pounds — as long as operators follow a few basic safety rules. Canadian authorities recently approved a blanket exemption for very small drones.

    Congress already is getting pushback from private and commercial pilots who worry about possible collisions. The FAA receives reports nearly every day about drones sighted flying near manned aircraft or airports.

    “As a (Boeing) 737 captain, I’ll be damned if myself and 178 other people are taken down by a 12-pound or a 50-pound or a 150-pound piece of metal coming through my windshield,” said Ben Berman at a recent forum hosted by the Air Line Pilots Association. “There are too many near misses occurring every day like this.”

    Mark Baker, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which represents private pilots, said online videos show that “operators are flying near airports, in the clouds and in congested airspace.” He called such actions “reckless” and said they will inevitably lead to a collision.

    FAA regulations permit recreational users to fly small drones as long as they stay at least 5 miles away from an airport, limit flights to less than 400 feet in altitude, keep the aircraft in line of sight and fly only during the daytime.

    Last week, drone industry trade groups teamed up with the FAA and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign aimed at amateur drone operations. The campaign includes a website, www.knowbeforeyoufly.com , where operators can find FAA regulations and advice on how to fly safely. The trade groups said they also plan to distribute safety pamphlets at industry events and are working with manufacturers to see that safety information is enclosed inside the package of new drones.

    Retailers say small drones, which are indistinguishable from today’s more sophisticated model aircraft, were popular gifts this Christmas.

    ___

    Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

    ___

    Online:

    Drone safety campaign: http://www.knowbeforeyoufly.com

Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • 8 Worst-Run Companies In America
    This story was originally published by 24/7 Wall St.

    What makes a company truly poorly run? Businesses make mistakes almost daily, and industries can transform rapidly, eroding even a market leader’s competitive advantage.

    Companies that are struggling may have declining fundamentals, such as revenues and earnings. Ultimately, however, it is the market that determines how well, or poorly, a company is run. All of the eight businesses identified by 24/7 Wall St. as America’s worst run companies declined in three key measures — earnings per share, revenue, and share price — in the last year.

    In order to be considered truly poorly run, a company must have a track record of missed opportunities, mismanaged risks, poor operational decisions, or executive malfeasance. In short, a company must demonstrate a pattern of decision making that calls into question the ability of its management and directors to adequately provide returns to shareholders.

    While the U.S. stock market has enjoyed a rally in the past five years, the worst run companies reviewed by 24/7 Wall St. failed to match the S&P 500 rise of 82% during that time. Some of these companies have actually lost market value over that stretch. Avon Products (NYSE: AVP) is the most notable example. Avon’s share price tumbled nearly 74% over the last five years, as its China business transformed from a huge growth opportunity into a boondoggle.

    Some of the poorly managed companies have missed opportunities on which others capitalized. Among the best examples is McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD), which did not follow fast-casual rivals in creating a menu that was simplified and customizable. GameStop (NYSE: GME), too, missed a major opportunity to make a name for itself in digital distribution for video games, a market that game maker Valve entered over a decade ago when it launched Steam.

    In other instances, companies have made poor operational decisions. An example is the slow pace at which Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) has closed locations. Staples built an online business without adequately downsizing its brick-and-mortar locations, even though sales did not justify the large number of stores.

    Click here to see the worst run companies

    In some cases, management decisions may not have had shareholders’ best interests at heart. Freeport-McMoRan’s (NYSE: FCX) acquisition of two oil producers in 2012 immediately raised questions of self-dealing and led to a shareholder lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged that, with six board members holding seats on one of the companies involved, Freeport directors were effectively using company funds to bail out their own investment.

    Many of these companies are not without hope. McDonald’s could outperform if it is able to again draw in customers with an improved menu. Mattel (NYSE: MAT), too, might surge if kids rediscover the appeal of Barbie. And IBM (NYSE: IBM) may rise if the company becomes more competitive in cloud computing.

    In order to determine America’s worst run companies, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed all S&P 500 stocks that declined in the past year. We then screened for companies where the trailing 12-month revenue and diluted earnings per share had declined from the year before. 24/7 Wall St. editors then reviewed this list for companies that had missed major opportunities to expand, made operational choices that undermined their financial performance over a multiyear period, or whose managers and directors failed to adequately serve shareholder interests. Figures on revenue and diluted EPS, as well as industry classifications, are from S&P CapIQ. One-year share price data, also from CapIQ, is as of December 8, 2014.

    These are America’s Worst Run Companies

  • Sony Playstation Still Down After Cyberattack
    (Adds that FBI is investigating attack, comments from Sony executive)
    By Jim Finkle
    BOSTON, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Sony Corp worked for a third day on Saturday to restore services to its PlayStation network as the FBI said it was looking into the disruption, which began on Christmas Day.
    “We are aware of the reports and are investigating the Sony PlayStation matter,” Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jenny Shearer said via email. She did not elaborate.
    Meanwhile Sony said on Saturday that the attack had prevented some people who received consoles for Christmas from using their new machines on the PlayStation network, which lets gamers compete with people around the world via the Internet.
    “If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log onto the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console,” Sony executive Catherine Jensen said on the company’s U.S. PlayStation blog.
    Some customers posted complaints about the outage on the blog. “Three days without PSN. That’s absurd,” said one of them.
    “We understand your frustration,” Jensen responded early Saturday afternoon. “Our engineers are working to restore service as quickly as possible!”
    Later in the day she said the company had restored access for some users and would keep bringing more back online. Sony declined to say how many of PSN’s 56 millions users had been affected by the attack.
    The blog said the problems were the result of “high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online game play,” which is widely known as a distributed denial-of-service attack.
    It was Sony’s second recent high-profile encounter with hackers after an unprecedented attack on its Hollywood studio, which the U.S. government attributed to North Korea and linked to the release of the low-brow comedy “The Interview.”
    A hacker activist group known as Lizard Squad said it was responsible for the PSN outage as well as delays on Microsoft’s Corp’s Xbox network; Microsoft quickly fixed the problem.
    The group has claimed responsibility for previous attacks, including ones on PSN in early December and August.
    The August attack coincided with a bomb scare in which Lizard Squad tweeted to American Airlines that it heard explosives were on board a Dallas-to-San Diego flight carrying an executive with Sony Online Entertainment.
    Sony has been the victim of some of the most notorious cyberattacks in history. Besides the breach at its Hollywood studio, hackers stole data belonging to 77 million PlayStation Network users in 2011. (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Stephen Powell and Steve Orlofsky)
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson's Provocative Tweets About Christmas Started An Internet Flame War
    Neil deGrasse Tyson undoubtedly hopes you and your family are having a wonderful holiday season. Nevertheless, a series of tweets sent by the astrophysicist on Christmas have incensed some, as he provocatively questioned both the significance of the holiday — and the reason we celebrate it.

    Tyson kicked off the tweets by posing this cheeky question to his nearly 2.9 million followers:

    QUESTION: ThIs year, what do all the world’s Muslims and Jews call December 25th? ANSWER: Thursday

    — Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 25, 2014

    Tyson followed up the rhetorical question by wishing a happy birthday to a significant figure who was born on Christmas:

    On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642

    — Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 25, 2014

    Before pausing to reflect on the history of the day:

    Merry Christmas to all. A Pagan holiday (BC) becomes a Religious holiday (AD). Which then becomes a Shopping holiday (USA).

    — Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 25, 2014

    Finally, Tyson ended with a Rudolf-themed physics lesson:

    Santa knows Physics: Of all colors, Red Light penetrates fog best. That’s why Benny the Blue-nosed reindeer never got the gig

    — Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 25, 2014

    The messages drew a strong response across the Internet, with incensed commenters referring to the physicist as “a bigoted hack” and a “satanic shrill,” among other names.

    On Friday, apparently in response to the strong reactions his statements drew a day earlier, Tyson again took to Twitter, this time to ponder, “Imagine a world in which we are all enlightened by objective truths rather than offended by them.”

    Tyson has since posted a lengthier response on his Facebook page, in which he explains the calendar calculations behind his birthday wish for Isaac Newton, and distances himself from calls he’s anti-Christian. “If a person actually wanted to express anti-Christian sentiment,” he writes, “my guess is that alerting people of Isaac Newton’s birthday would appear nowhere on the list.”

    READ the full post in full, below:

  • Aereo Cleared To Auction TV Streaming Technology In Bankruptcy Deal
    (Reuters) – A bankruptcy court has allowed defunct video streaming company Aereo Inc to auction its TV streaming technology assets, according to court papers published on Friday.

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday that Aereo could sell its assets, after the company reached an agreement with broadcasters over the sale process.

    These broadcasters include CBS Corp, Comcast Corp’s NBC, Walt Disney Co’s ABC and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc’s Fox.

    Under the agreement, Aereo will allow the broadcasters to attend the auction of the assets and provide them a weekly update on the status of the sale process.

    Aereo filed for bankruptcy in November, five months after the U.S. Supreme Court said it violated broadcasters’ copyrights by capturing live and recorded programs on miniature antennas and transmitting them to subscribers for $8-$12 a month.

    That decision effectively closed down New York-based Aereo, whose business model was to offer a less-expensive alternative to cable television.

    The case is In re: Aereo Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-13200.

    (Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)

  • Xbox and PlayStation rebuild service
    Xbox and PlayStation make progress in restoring their gaming sites after a hacking attack that caused severe problems over Christmas.
  • Insurers Dogged By Claims Of Slanted Sandy Reports

    NEW YORK (AP) — When Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast, flood insurance companies working for the Federal Emergency Management Agency dispatched an army of structural engineers to do some detective work.

    Their assignment: Find out how much damage to policyholders’ homes was caused by surging seawater and how much predated the storm.

    Now, two years later, lawyers representing about 1,500 homeowners are trying to prove that some engineering firms hired to inspect the damage issued bogus reports to give skeptical insurers ammunition to deny claims.

    Broken foundations, the lawyers say, were falsely blamed on poor construction or long-term settling of the soil. Cracked and warped walls were written off as being due to old age.

    So far, there’s been a little proof available publicly. Some engineers who worked the coast after the storm say a lot of homeowners were simply unaware of long-standing, but hidden problems exposed by the storm.

    But the issue got the attention of a federal judge in New York after a Long Island family uncovered evidence that an engineer who examined their property had been instructed by a supervisor to reverse his initial finding that the flood caused irreparable structural damage.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary Brown ordered insurers to produce reams of additional records that could help reveal whether engineering contractors edited damage reports in ways that improperly minimized payouts to hundreds or even thousands of storm victims. “These unprincipled practices may be widespread,” Brown wrote in his Nov. 7 order.

    New York’s attorney general has opened a probe. FEMA has asked its inspector general to investigate.

    Homeowners made similar claims about doctored engineering reports after Hurricane Katrina, when some insurers were accused of trying to shift blame from the 2005 storm’s winds to its monster flood, which wasn’t covered by homeowner policies.

    This time, though, there is no wind-versus-water fight, and it isn’t clear why any insurance company would have a motive to cheat. Most were merely processing claims for FEMA; none of their own money was at stake. The government pays insurers marginally more to approve a claim than to deny one.

    “There is simply no incentive … to try to guide the engineer to an opinion, or to try to find no coverage,” said Henry Neal Conolly, president of Wright Flood, the nation’s largest flood insurance company. He wrote in an email to The Associated Press that he was “not sure at all what the alleged conspiracy is or could be not to pay claims.”

    Lawyers for flood victims have suggested that fighting claims is so deeply ingrained in the insurance industry’s DNA that it is applying the same bare-knuckle tactics to the National Flood Insurance Program out of force of habit. Others say the industry knows the program is under financial strain and is trying to help preserve it so they can continue to collect fees for selling and serving policies.

    Insurers can also be penalized by FEMA if they pay a claim later determined to be invalid, though in recent years those sanctions have been rare and light. From 2011 to 2014, FEMA imposed just $742,000 in penalties on flood insurance contractors that were found to have overpaid claims, according to agency figures. That’s a trifling amount compared to the $8.1 billion in flood insurance payouts made to 132,000 Sandy victims.

    To homeowners who feel shortchanged, motive doesn’t matter.

    “I can’t say why it’s happening, but it’s definitely happening,” said Chris Gerold, an attorney representing some of the roughly 1,500 homeowners in New York and New Jersey who are suing over what they say are improperly denied flood insurance payments.

    The scrutiny of engineering firms began after a New York couple, Deborah Ramey and Robert Kaible, raised questions about damage reports prepared on a badly flooded investment property they owned in Long Beach.

    The engineer who visited the house in December 2012 initially concluded that it suffered a partial foundation collapse in the flood. But those findings were rejected by a supervisor at his engineering firm, Louisiana-based U.S. Forensic. The manager then rewrote the report with a reverse conclusion, that the home’s sloping floors and tilted walls were the result of long-term settling, not flooding. As a result, the bulk of the insurance claim was denied.

    The family complained so loudly that their insurer, Wright Flood, asked U.S. Forensic to do a second inspection.

    When the engineer returned, he was carrying his first draft of the report, which the family read and photographed.

    U.S. Forensic stood by its work, saying the report was changed because the original draft contained gross errors and unsupported assumptions. But after conducting hearings, Brown ruled Nov. 7 that the revisions, made by an engineer who hadn’t actually visited the property, were “baseless.”

    The judge also said some details within the report appeared to have been invented to cover up shortcomings of the initial inspection. He accused U.S. Forensic of engaging in “reprehensible gamesmanship” and ordered all insurance companies in Sandy-related litigation in New York to disclose any similar draft reports.

    Since then, a Texas lawyer, Steve Mostyn, has filed additional lawsuits accusing another engineering firm of misconduct.

    The suits said a manager at HiRise Engineering, of Uniondale, New York, completely rewrote two reports submitted by a freelancing Brooklyn engineer, Harold Weinberg, then affixed his signature without his consent.

    In one of those reports, Weinberg had written that “the entire cellar, including the slab and the foundation walls” of a Brooklyn home “were damaged extensively” by the flood. That was replaced by a conclusion that “there were no structural damages observed that were caused by flooding.” The final report blamed cracks in the house on regular building settlement over many years.

    HiRise did not respond to a request for comment.

    Lawyers for most of the suing homeowners said they have been getting additional documents over the past few weeks and are reviewing them, but have yet to receive the bulk of the paperwork.

    At the urging of members of Congress, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate wrote to insurance contractors Dec. 5 saying he was “deeply concerned” about allegations of underpayments and “disreputable engineering practices.”

    “We must do better,” he wrote.

    Fugate also expressed concern about criticism that insurance company lawyers might be on track to spend more to litigate claims than it would cost to settle them.

    On Dec. 2, a panel of magistrate judges said some industry lawyers were unreasonably delaying settlements and unnecessarily inflating legal costs for both sides. So far, FEMA has spent $12.4 million on litigation related to Sandy flood insurance.

    After Sandy, engineering firms working for the insurance industry relied heavily on independent subcontractors with varying levels of experience to investigate damage.

    The job included a close examination to look for signs that the damage was there before the flood. In dozens of reports reviewed by the AP, engineers wrote that they ruled out flood damage after noticing previous repair attempts, like shims placed beneath sagging support beams or layers of patching material built up over a crack.

    Engineering experts told the AP that it isn’t always easy to say for sure what caused damage. Nevertheless, engineers were told not to hedge their findings or express uncertainty.

    “It is critical that you provide conclusive and unambiguous opinions as to causation,” said instruction materials that HiRise provided to at least one inspector. “Weakly worded conclusions using words such as ‘appears,’ ‘may have,’ ‘likely,’ etc. will be rejected by our clients.”

    Several independent engineers who inspected homes in Sandy’s aftermath told the AP they were occasionally challenged by supervisors who felt findings were unsupported by the evidence or could have been worded differently. But those engineers said they only changed their reports if they agreed with the suggested alterations.

    “At the end of the day, it was my judgment and my opinion,” said Frank Sadeghi, whose Island Heights, New Jersey-based firm, Morgan Engineering LLC, inspected about 100 homes for HiRise.

    John Mann, an engineer who inspected more than 100 homes after Sandy, said many of the changes suggested for his reports were grammatical in nature.

    Bill Mancini, an engineer who did inspections for U.S. Forensic, said the company gave him a template report containing boilerplate language he was supposed to use when he drafted his conclusions. But he said he was never pressured to turn in a dishonest report by his supervisors.

    Some homeowners and their building contractors, on the other hand, pushed hard for reports that could be used to justify a bigger insurance claim, he said.

    “There’s a lot of fraud,” Mancini said.

    In training materials prepared for court-appointed mediators, two lead attorneys for flood insurance carriers, Gerald Nielsen and Bill Treas, said they believed that a “very large percentage” of the suits filed by policyholders involved “significant issues of misrepresentation.”

    They also said the threat of an audit would keep insurers from settling lawsuits unless homeowners could document proof of additional covered damage.

    There are no FEMA financial penalties for insurers found to have underpaid claims. The government picks up most of the costs of litigation.

    “It is safer for the … carrier to simply let the court rule at a trial upon the merits than to agree to a settlement not in accord with FEMA’s view of FEMA’s rules,” Nielsen and Treas wrote.

    ___

    Kunzelman reported from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

    ___

    The AP National Investigative Team can be reached at investigate@ap.org.

  • The 29 Most Spectacular Space Photos Of 2014
    The year 2014 was a stellar one for spaceflight, what with ESA’s Rosetta mission putting a robotic lander on a distant comet and NASA successfully testing its Orion spacecraft.

    But 2014 was also a great year for space photography, as you can see from these remarkable 29 images (scroll down) picked for your viewing pleasure by your friends at HuffPost Science.

    Join us for a trip through the cosmos–and be prepared to pick your jaw up off the floor.

    Photos curated by Damon Scheluer and Macrina Cooper-White.

  • North Korean Internet, 3G Mobile Network Shut Down For Hours
    By Jack Kim
    SEOUL, Dec 27 (Reuters) – North Korea called U.S. President Barack Obama a “monkey” and blamed Washington on Saturday for Internet outages it has experienced during a confrontation with the United States over the hacking of the film studio Sony Pictures.
    The National Defense Commission, the North’s ruling body chaired by state leader Kim Jong Un, said Obama was responsible for Sony’s belated decision to release the action comedy “The Interview,” which depicts a plot to assassinate Kim.
    “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unnamed spokesman for the commission said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, using a term seemingly designed to cause racial offense that North Korea has resorted to previously.
    In Hawaii, where Obama is vacationing, a White House official said the administration had no immediate comment on the latest North Korean statement blaming the United States for the Internet outages and insulting the president.
    Sony canceled the release of the film when large cinema chains refused to screen it following threats of violence from hackers, but then put it out on limited release after Obama said Sony was caving in to North Korean pressure.
    Obama promised retaliation against North Korea, but did not specify what form it would take.
    North Korea’s main Internet sites suffered intermittent disruptions this week, including a complete outage of nearly nine hours, before links were largely restored on Tuesday.
    But its Internet and 3G mobile networks were paralyzed again on Saturday evening, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported, and the North Korean government blamed the United States for systemic instability in the country’s networks.
    Dyn Research, a U.S. firm that monitors telecommunications infrastructure, said on Saturday that North Korea’s Internet access had been restored after a national outage that lasted more than five hours.
    Jim Cowie, Dyn’s chief scientist, said it was a “sharp” outage that appeared to immediately sever access across the nation, and the restoration also appeared to be equally fast.
    “It could have been something as routine as maintenance or it could have been a continuation of the things we saw in the past week, which looked more like attacks,” Cowie said.
    In its statement on Saturday, the North again rejected an accusation by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation that North Korea was behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures, and demanded the United States produce evidence for its allegation.
    The National Defense Commission also dismissed U.S. denials of involvement in North Korea’s Internet outages.
    “The United States, with its large physical size and oblivious to the shame of playing hide and seek as children with runny noses would, has begun disrupting the Internet operations of the main media outlets of our republic,” it said.
    In a separate commentary, the North denied any role in cyberattacks on South Korea’s nuclear power plant operator, calling the suggestion that it had done so part of a “smear campaign” by unpopular South Korean leaders.
    A South Korean official investigating the attacks this week, which led to leaks of internal data from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, said Seoul was not ruling out North Korean involvement.
    “The South Korean puppet authorities are working hard to link this case with (us), though the truth about it has not been probed,” Minju Joson, the official publication of the North’s cabinet, said in a commentary carried by KCNA. (Additional reporting by Julia Edwards in Hawaii and Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Kevin Liffey, Mark Heinrich and Dan Grebler)
  • Mars Hill Church's Former Pastor Mark Driscoll Is Back With A Flashy New Website
    Pastor Mark Driscoll may be aiming for comeback.

    The disgraced evangelical preacher, who recently resigned from the Seattle megachurch network he spent 18 years building, has reportedly launched a website filled with sermons and other free resources.

    News about the website emerged just days before Mars Hill Church formally dissolves on Dec. 31, Seattle PI reports.

    Along with offering sermons and free ebooks, the website also asks for donations. It claims the funds will be sent to “Learning For Living,” an “application-pending registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.”

    Mark DeMoss, a friend who serves as Driscoll’s pro bono spokesperson, told HufPost that the pastor recently set up Learning For Living to manage his Bible teaching content, since he can’t provide content through Mars Hill anymore.

    It is a low-key operation with no paid staff. He simply wanted a way to make sermon and written content available, much of it for free, some of it for a contribution, and is doing so now at markdriscoll.org. Learning for Living is the non-profit organization name through which people can contribute and/or order materials. He just got it up and running in recent days.

    The Huffington Post used the IRS’ “Exempt Organizations Select Check” to search for an organization in Washington state named “Learning for Living” that is currently eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. The search yielded no results on Tuesday.

    Patheos blogger Warren Throckmorton noted that that Driscoll’s website was registered to the Mars Hill Fellowship. In fact, Driscoll’s design closely resembles the church’s current site. However, Mars Hill’s current Communications & Editorial Manager Justin Dean told The Huffington Post that the similarities end there:

    That domain is one that Mars Hill has had registered for quite some time but we never used. It has now been transferred to Mark Driscoll, and the domain registration to Mars Hill Fellowship is outdated (I believe it is now updated). The site is in no way affiliated with Mars Hill Church or Mars Hill Fellowship.

    Driscoll has largely stayed under the radar since his resignation in October. He did, however, preach briefly at the Gateway Church Conference in Dallas-Ft. Worth. He told the crowd that his family was receiving death threats, and asked for prayers.

    “I’ve cried a lot lately,” he said. “It’s been a rough season for the family.”

    The pastor’s fall from grace can be traced back to a number of factors — including allegations of plagiarism, crude comments he made online under a pseudonym, and questions about church finances. He was removed from the church planting group Acts29 last August, according to Seattle PI.

    However, the bio on his website omits that stain on Driscoll’s reputation. It simply notes that Driscoll is the organization’s co-founder, while listing other redeeming qualities.

    Pastor Mark Driscoll is a Jesus-following, mission-leading, church-serving, people-loving, Bible-preaching pastor. . . With a skillful mix of bold presentation, accessible teaching, and unrelenting compassion for those who are hurting the most—particularly women who are victims of sexual and physical abuse and assault—Pastor Mark has taken biblical Christianity into cultural corners rarely explored by evangelicals.

    But can Driscoll’s reputation survive the fall? According to megachurch expert Scott Thumma, it depends on how many people he can draw back into his fold.

    “If (Driscoll) can continue to draw people in and have a successful ministry, then his authority — even if it has been questioned — will still rest on what he’s producing,” Thumma told RNS.

  • When will man become machine?
    What will smarter machines mean for the future of the human race?
  • North Korea Blames U.S. For Shutting Down Its Internet, Says Obama Was Behind 'The Interview' Release
    HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea called President Barack Obama “a monkey” and blamed the U.S. on Saturday for shutting down its Internet amid the hacking row over the comedy “The Interview.”

    North Korea has denied involvement in a crippling cyberattack on Sony Pictures but has expressed fury over the comedy depicting an assassination of its leader Kim Jong Un. After Sony Pictures initially called off the release in a decision criticized by Obama, the movie has opened this week.

    On Saturday, the North’s powerful National Defense Commission, the country’s top governing body led by Kim, said that Obama was behind the release of “The Interview.” It described the movie as illegal, dishonest and reactionary.

    “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest,” an unidentified spokesman at the commission’s Policy Department said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

    He also accused Washington for intermittent outages of North Korea websites this week, after the U.S. had promised to respond to the Sony hack.

    There was no immediate reaction from the White House on Saturday.

    According to the North Korea commission’s spokesman, “the U.S., a big country, started disturbing the Internet operation of major media of the DPRK, not knowing shame like children playing a tag.”

    The commission said the movie was the results of a hostile U.S. policy toward North Korea, and threatened the U.S. with unspecified consequences.

    North Korea and the U.S. remain technically in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The rivals also are locked in an international standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile programs and its alleged human rights abuses. The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against North Korean aggression.

    Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Sony Tries Unusual Experiment With Simultaneous Release Of 'The Interview' In Theaters, On Demand
    LINDSEY BAHR, AP Film Writer

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — “The Interview” was never supposed to be a paradigm-shifting film. But unusual doesn’t even begin to describe the series of events that transpired over the past few weeks, culminating in the truly unprecedented move by a major studio to release a film in theaters and on digital platforms simultaneously.

    Sony is in uncharted waters now with the film, which earned $1.04 million from 331 locations on Thursday, according to studio estimates, in addition to the untold VOD grosses.

    “Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience “The Interview” on the first day of its unconventional release,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures in a statement.

    For a film that would have just come and gone in the usual 3,000 theaters without much fanfare, the $40 million comedy has now become an accidental case study in the world of day-and-date releases, in which titles are available both in theaters and for digital rental simultaneously. The industry is watching closely to see just where audiences will choose to place their dollars in the coming days and weeks. The big question is whether or not this strategy could be viable for major releases in the future.

    While a $3,142 per-theater average and sold-out showings when audiences had the option to watch the film from the comfort of their own homes is nothing to scoff at, analysts agree that it probably doesn’t signal the beginning of a significant change in how Hollywood does business.

    Day-and-date releases are nothing new, for one. Independent distributors have embraced this strategy for years. But those are generally small films with even smaller budgets_ones that can’t afford a more traditional, widespread marketing campaign.

    For the major studios, it’s never really been an option.

    Theater chains depend on exclusive first-run content to survive. If audiences were given the choice to just rent anything from a mid-budget comedy to a $200 million blockbuster on the day of its release, theaters would undoubtedly suffer.

    “The last thing the major theater chains want is for this kind of strategy to be employed by the major studios on a more frequent basis,” said BoxOfficeGuru.com editor Gitesh Pandya. Earlier this year, Warner Bros. experimented with an unconventional day-and-date release for “Veronica Mars.” Theater chains Regal and Cinemark declined to screen the film because of its online availability. The film ended up showing on 270 screens, most of which were AMC.

    “The relationship between big studios and exhibitors is so monumental that they’re not going to start changing things around anytime soon. Possibly down the road, little by little. But the old-school model of putting your major releases in 3,000 theaters nationwide will stay intact for the time being,” Pandya said.

    Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for box office tracker Rentrak, agreed. “Theatrical is the engine that drives everything else. I don’t think this is a sudden gateway to studios wanting to release films this way,” he said.

    Also, “The Interview” is an imperfect case. Patriotism, free speech, pure curiosity and even the desire to be part of the nationwide conversation have all played in to why audiences flocked to theaters on Christmas Day to see the movie.

    “Awareness is through the roof,” Dergarabedian said. “People went out to the theaters and made an event out of it. They’re going to be talking about this for a long time. That’s a very interesting and unusual phenomenon that’s usually reserved for films like ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘Star Wars.’ “

    Added Pandya: “Audiences who would otherwise never go to see a Seth Rogen movie were hearing about it and decided to come out to see what all the fuss is about.”

    Long-term prospects for “The Interview” at the box office remain a mystery. Pandya believes that theatrical grosses will be frontloaded, and that’s at least partially attributable to the quality of the film.

    “The movie is mediocre,” he said. “If it were a brilliant film, the word of mouth would carry it week to week.” He predicts a dramatic drop off when the holidays end.

    Also, the public may never know how the movie fared on the digital platforms. Smaller distributors like Radius-TWC, who released “Snowpiercer” on demand while it was still in theaters, have started pulling back the veil on VOD financials, but it’s unlikely that Sony will ever give the public a peek into “The Interview’s” success or failure online.

    “I’m sure they’re not that impressive. For studios, the biggest part of reporting box office is to brag,” Pandya said. “If the numbers aren’t brag-worthy, they’re probably going to keep it in their own files.”

    “The Interview” might now forever be in the history books, but it probably won’t change the way audiences see new movies. For the big movies, theatrical will always come first, Dergarabedian said.

    “It’s a system that works and audiences like it,” he said.

    Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Amazon's Enormous Same-Day Delivery Growth Comes At A Price
    Amazon hit a new record for its same-day deliveries this holiday season, with 10 times as many items shipped as last year, the company announced in a Friday press release.

    With the company racking up all these speedy deliveries, it might be worth revisiting the woes of workers tasked with transporting items from the e-commerce giant’s warehouses to customers’ doors.

    In April, The Huffington Post’s Dave Jamieson profiled Myron Ballard, a driver based out of Washington, D.C., for LaserShip, a shipping service hired by Amazon to meet its same-day delivery deadlines.

    Technically hired as an “independent contractor,” Ballard received little support for the work he was doing. Delivering about 150 Amazon packages a day might have earned him, on average, $225.

    But that money was spread thin covering his expenses.

    Per Jamieson’s story:

    Ballard had to purchase the cargo van he drives for work. He doesn’t get reimbursed for the wear and tear he puts on it; for the gasoline he pours into it on a near-daily basis; for the auto insurance he needs to carry; or for the parking tickets he inevitably racks up downtown. He doesn’t even get reimbursed for the LaserShip uniform he’s obliged to purchase and wear.

    “It’s like they want us to be employees, but they don’t want to pay for it,” the 45-year-old Ballard said at the time.

    Amazon has little incentive to change this system. Here’s why it works out so well for the retail company:

    For starters, a delivery company using independent contractors avoids paying payroll or unemployment taxes on its drivers, as well as workers’ compensation insurance — never mind basic workplace benefits like health coverage and a 401(k). Such companies also aren’t obliged to pay workers overtime under federal law, meaning no time and a half when the delivery day stretches into a 12-hour shift. And since they pay drivers on a per-delivery basis, they don’t owe them anything for non-delivery work, like loading the van at the warehouse before hitting the road, a task that can take up to two hours.

    Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

    Make no mistake, Amazon has reason to celebrate success right now. In October, the company faced its biggest quarterly loss in 14 years, leading some profit-hungry investors and pundits to dub CEO Jeff Bezos a “grinch.” Sales growth, especially during the retail industry’s coveted holiday season, is one way of proving Amazon is on the right track. But during a time of year when everyone, delivery drivers included, traditionally celebrates with family, it may be worth looking into the real costs of this same-day delivery service.

  • VIDEO: Hackers hit Xbox and PlayStation
    Microsoft and Sony have been working to restore internet platforms for their Xbox and PlayStation gamers’ consoles.
  • Your Life. Your Family. Your Money. All Equal Need for Cyber Security.
    You got hacked!

    It is like the new “You’ve got mail.” Except no one wants this. The revelation that someone else has become you. Or your family, Or now has your money. A collective “UGH” goes out just at the thought.

    Well, this was the year that Cyber-security (personal security) became Paramount in people’s mind-share. Whether it was Target, Home Depot, Equifax, Sony, JP Morgan, and the list does not stop there. We all suddenly became more aware of *some* of the dangers faced in an interconnected, digitally woven world of 1s and 0s we now inhabit. Unless you live on top of a non wifi enabled mountain; or in a non wired cave somewhere.

    As the founder of Digijaks – which is a cyber security company focused on the dangers of social media and mobility; I have both seen many problems and helped many people and businesses with them. Last year we released the Cybrs8f mobile app on android, which was really an early alpha attempt at trying to educate people about how Cyber Security actually equals Personal Security.

    We have are now getting ready to release two consumer products for digital family safety and see the tremendous need for the average person to start taking steps to protect their lives, their families and their money for real.

    Cyber War is here. It is both sponsored by Nation States (as may or may not have been the case with Sony Pictures Entertainment) as well as hacking cartels, drug cartels, Russian + Chinese Mafia as well as numerous offshoot groups of terrorist and disgruntled people. I have been writing about the dangers we all face for several years now. But now is the time to actually start paying attention. For real.

    I have said it before, and will say it again here, now. The United States finds itself in a new war. A constant 24 hour/7 day a week/365 day a year war that is both hot and cold at the same time. In fact it presents the most asymmetrical threat to our national security since the founding of this country.

    Cyber war. Cyber terror. Electronic Warfare being aimed at our military, our intelligence, every government agency, utilities, banks, critical infrastructure like power, water, sewage, hospitals, police and other first responders. Yes. This is happening, now; probably even in your town or city or state.

    Just imagine cities across America without power for extended periods. Imagine in your mind, no running water. No electricity. No fresh food deliveries. Hospitals suddenly finding themselves with no ability to treat sick, or dying people. Imagine this, and realize all it takes is a successful hack attempt into a critical infrastructure choke point to cause this, sight unseen, maybe not even leaving fingerprints or evidence of how things got hacked.

    Almost every move you make online, or when you are using any electronic communications is watched, monitored, cataloged. License plate cameras are spying on your movements, with almost no regulation. Actual cameras are all over the place; with also little to no regulation on data use and privacy. GPS, Cookies. Beacons. RFID tags on everything from food to clothes in the stores, to your electronics. These are the tools the governments, companies and bad guys out there have almost ubiquitous access to.

    California is leading the charge in helping consumers, again. The State formed the Calfornia Cyber Security Task Force, of which I am a member. This is a first in the nation effort, and we are writing policies to help businesses, schools, organizations and citizens alike. But this effort is just starting, and the average citizen can’t wait. Neither can businesses. 2014 served as the wake-up call. To all of us. Listen to it and respond to it. Do not just sit around and hope you will be ok, You won’t be if you just do nothing.

    Luckily there are many companies and organizations devoted to protecting you out there providing solutions for the protection of your data, and to try to help make privacy an actual option. Use them. Make sure you follow privacy guidelines and ensure your settings online, on your smart phones and in the apps you use are set tightly. This is a step in the right direction. But just a baby step.

  • Tesla Announces Major Upgrade To Original Roadster
    Perhaps Tesla CEO Elon Musk fancies himself a Santa Claus.

    On Friday, the electric carmaker announced highly anticipated upgrades to its original battery-powered sports car, dramatically improving its travel range on a single charge.

    The Roadster, introduced in 2008, will be able to cruise up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco with the new longer-range battery, the company said in a blog post. The upgrade also includes new parts to bolster the aerodynamic design of the car, and tires with less rolling resistance.

    The update is expected to increase the Roadster’s range by up to 50 percent when the car is driven at moderate speeds and on flat terrain.

    “There is a set of speeds and driving conditions where we can confidently drive the Roadster 3.0 over 400 miles,” the company said, referring to the latest model of the car.

    Tesla will begin demonstrating road tests of the upgrades in the next few weeks.

    This doesn’t meant that buyers can once again purchase a new Roadster; the car, which started at $110,000, was discontinued in 2011. There are no plans to begin manufacturing and selling them again, a Tesla spokeswoman told The Huffington Post.

    For now, the upgrade only applies to the Roadster. In a tweet on Thursday night, Musk said such improvements will eventually come to the Model S, the company’s flagship sedan and the only car it currently sells.

    Should mention that a battery pack upgrade is not coming soon for the Model S, but it obviously *will* happen long-term.

    — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 26, 2014

  • 'The Interview' Makes $1 Million On Christmas
    “The Interview” raked in $1 million at the box office on Christmas Day, Sony Pictures reported on Friday, and stands to make a few million more throughout the holiday weekend. The much-discussed comedy about North Korea opened in approximately 300 independent theaters on Thursday after it was released online Wednesday.

    Many theaters reported sold-out screenings, and co-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen even made appearances at theaters in Los Angeles to thank moviegoers for their support.

    Considering the incredibly challenging circumstances, we are extremely grateful to the people all over the country who came out to experience ‘The Interview’ on the first day of its unconventional release,” Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution, said in a statement. Bruer also noted that “The Interview” was only released in 10 percent of the theaters that originally planned to show the film.

    Of course, the comedy almost didn’t make it to theaters since major movie chains opted out of screening “The Interview” after hackers threatened terrorist attacks on places that showed it. Sony pulled the film from its release schedule last week, but reversed its decision on Tuesday. Independent theaters rallied behind the movie and Sony made the film available to rent or buy via streaming services like YouTube and Google Play. (Here’s a full timeline of the events surrounding the release of “The Interview” for reference.)

    The $1 million estimate does not include online rentals and purchases, and Sony hasn’t announced its online sales yet.

  • Trippy Time-Lapse Video Packs 12,500 Photos From The ISS Into Just Six Minutes
    It doesn’t get any more awesome than this.

    A new time-lapse video from the European Space Agency (above) lets you look back at six months of photos from the International Space Station in just six minutes.

    The time-lapse features 12,500 photos captured by ESA astronaut and social media celebrity Alexander Gerst. The images include shots of auroras, the Milky Way, lightning, cities at night, and more. Gerst shared many of the images on Twitter over the past year during his time aboard the ISS.

    “Seen from a distance, our planet is just a blue dot, a fragile spaceship for humankind,” Gerst said in a written statement. “We need to understand the Universe we live in to protect our home.”

Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • PlayStation, Xbox Networks Suffer Outages On Christmas Day
    TOKYO (AP) — Sony’s online PlayStation store and Microsoft’s Xbox site suffered disruptions to users on Christmas Day in the latest possible cyberattack on the electronics and entertainment company.

    The PlayStation Store Twitter feed said Friday that some users were having trouble logging into its network. It said engineers were investigating.

    A notice on the Xbox website said it knew some users were having trouble signing in. it said, “We’re aware of this issue, and we’re working to find a fix ASAP!”

    Earlier this month the PlayStation store also experienced spells of inaccessibility. That followed a cyberattack on computer systems of Sony Pictures Entertainment that led to the release of confidential information on the Internet.

    A hacker group calling itself Lizard Squad appeared to take responsibility for the disruptions on its Twitter account.

    Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Xbox and PlayStation online crash
    Xbox and PlayStation online services have been suffering technical problems, amid claims a hacking group has disabled their services.
  • 'The Interview' Draws Sell-Out Crowds After Sony Flips On Release Cancellation
    By Luc Cohen and Alicia Avila

    NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES, Dec 25 (Reuters) – “The Interview,” the Sony Pictures film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, opened in more than 300 movie theaters across the United States on Christmas Day, drawing many sell-out audiences and statements by patrons that they were championing freedom of expression.

    Co-directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, who also co-stars in the low-brow comedy with James Franco, surprised moviegoers by appearing at the sold-out 12:30 a.m. PT (0830 GMT) screening of the movie at a theater in Los Angeles, where they briefly thanked fans for their support.

    Sony Pictures this week backtracked from its original decision to cancel the release of the $44 million film after major U.S. theater chains pulled out because of threats by the group claiming responsibility for a destructive cyberattack on Sony last month.

    The United States blamed the attacks on North Korea.

    Movie theater managers and patrons alike said they believed there was nothing to fear, and the initial screenings on Thursday were uneventful.

    The audience at the first screening of the film in New York City, at the Cinema Village in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, remained silent during a scene showing the death of Kim Jong Un in the downing of his helicopter.

    Matt Rosenzweig, 60, of Manhattan, said the moments that drew the most applause had to do with the idea of acting against censorship rather than animosity toward North Korea.

    The film is available online in the United States on Google Inc’s Google Play and YouTube Movie and to customers of Microsoft’s Xbox Video, as well as on a Sony website, www.seetheinterview.com. It can be seen in Canada on the Sony site and Google Canada’s website.

    A Sony spokeswoman on Thursday said she had no figures on the number of downloads so far or on how well the movie was doing at the box office.

    A spokesman for Microsoft also said he had no information yet on downloads and declined to say if the company had taken any special security measures or stepped up customer support.

    “Of course, it’s safe to say holiday season is always a very busy time of year for any consumer electronics company,” Sean McCarthy, general manager of Microsoft’s Xbox Product Services, wrote in an email. “So we work hard to ensure the stability of our infrastructure when so many consoles are activating for the first time.”

    RAUCOUS APPLAUSE

    Cinema Village manager Lee Peterson, who declined to provide details of security precautions, said the New York Police Department planned to have officers outside the theater. He said he had also heard from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    There was no visible police presence outside or inside the Cinema Village for the first screening.

    In Los Angeles, where the film drew a sell-out crowd for the 12:30 a.m. showing, people who held cups of warm cider as they waited for the theater to open said they came to show support for freedom of speech and freedom of choice.

    The movie, which is playing in theaters in major metropolitan areas as well as in smaller cities ranging from Bangor, Maine, to Jasper, Indiana, features Rogen and Franco as journalists who are recruited by the CIA to assassinate the North Korean leader.

    Sony decided to release the film after U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as such Hollywood luminaries as George Clooney and Republicans and Democrats in Washington, raised concerns that Hollywood was setting a precedent of self-censorship.

    In Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, where the first screening at 11:45 a.m. PT was only half full, some filmgoers were blunt about their reasons for attending.

    “You need to stand up for these things,” said Dennis Lavalle, an acting teacher who came with his daughter. “And I am not going to let a country that regularly depicts in video the nuclear Armageddon of this country and that’s OK, and we can’t make a satirical picture about something that is not going to happen.”

    MOVIE FANS HAPPY

    The audience in Manhattan exited the theater to a throng of network TV cameras and a crowd of people lined up for the next showing.

    “It was more serious, the satire, than I was expecting,” said Simone Reynolds, who saw the film while visiting from London. “There’s a message for America in there too about America’s foreign policy.”

    North Korea has called the film an “act of war.”

    Most fans simply called “The Interview” a funny movie.

    Ken Jacowitz, a 54-year-old librarian from the New York borough of Queens, called it “a funny film made by funny people.” He had a message for North Korea and the hackers: “You have given this movie whole new lives.”

    (Additional reporting by Mary Milliken, Eric Kelsey and Jed Horowitz; Writing by Leslie Adler; Editing by Howard Goller and Steve Orlofsky)

  • Bitcoin Bowl and the Disruption of Fiat Currency
    On the day after Christmas the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the University of Central Florida Knights will square off in the Bitcoin Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

    In several short years few will recall the game itself, especially not those on the Trop’s Party Deck. But, historians will note that 2014 was the year that a major American college football bowl game was named for a post-national cryptocurrency associated with techno-libertarians and anonymous transactions.

    As much as it sounds like the premise of a near future, science fiction novel, it is happening.

    And, why not?

    The Bitcoin Bowl is a perfect end to 2014, the year that “the future” happened. After all, 2014 was the year in which American retailers started selling 3D printers, the U.S. Navy began mounting lasers on its ships, humans landed robots on Mars and an asteroid, analysts began asking whether home based solar power could kill off American utilities, and state-sponsored hackers raided Hollywood.

    It’s only appropriate that we’d end the year with the Bitcoin Bowl. And it’s quintessentially American to celebrate a new and disruptive technology with a televised sporting event from a massive, air conditioned arena in the subtropics.

    While the student sections from NC State and UCF will party at the Trop, cheer for their team and hit the clubs in St. Pete, the real story will be how TV (in this case ESPN) educates Americans on bitcoin. In many ways this is Bitcoin’s first TV extravaganza. And the available public opinion data (18 polls and counting from 2013-2014) suggests that most American viewers will be hearing about bitcoin for the 1st time. In May 2013 only 23 percent of Americans had heard of Bitcoin, much lower than in the UK (32 percent) and Argentina (38 percent). By March of this year, according to a Reason-Rupe online survey, only 19 percent of Americans had heard “a lot” or “some” about Bitcoin. But by May this number had increased to 37 percent in another online survey. And in May a survey sponsored by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors found 51 percent of Americans having at least some level of awareness of Bitcoin. All of this means that the Bitcoin Bowl itself will function as a basic awareness raising event.

    Given the ample number of surveys on the subject, American public opinion on alternative digital currencies is fairly clear. Most Americans still haven’t heard much of anything about Bitcoin. As with most new technologies, there is some skepticism and fear of the unknown. Those most aware of Bitcoin are most supportive of it and generally believe that it should be legal. But, those with little information on Bitcoin generally believe that it should be illegal. Many of these older, Middle-Americans may not be ready for horse and buggy fiat currency to be displaced by the sleek and somewhat mysterious Mercedes of 21st century crypto currency. But, despite current skepticism, survey research among American experts in IT (conducted by HP and the Ponemon Institute) “expect digital currencies to overtake paper currencies in the future.” Bitcoin, or alternative digital currencies that come after it, may be the wave of the future. They are at least one alternative future.

    And Bitcoin has a clear set of younger, future forward supporters. The Reason-Rupe research finds that “Millennials, Gamers, Independents and Libertarians say Bitcoin should be allowed.”

    But, it’s fair to say that given its anonymous nature and use outside nation-state sanction, Bitcoin is viewed with some suspicion by many aware of it. In a November 2014 survey in the UK 28% felt that Bitcoin had a bad reputation compared with 13% saying that it had a good reputation. This is no doubt tied to a perception that those transacting in Bitcoin may be doing so in the shadow economy or for subterranean reasons. Of course, this may all be true, but as almost anyone in America might point out, criminals have been transacting in cash for a very, very long time.

    Beyond current public opinion, alternative digital currencies like Bitcoin stand at the intersection of several critical trends:

    1. The rise of tech-enabled individual power relative to the nation-state.
    2. Technological disruption of industrial and pre-industrial systems like publishing, education and now currency.
    3. The digitization of payments and their move online.

    So enjoy the Bitcoin Bowl. Watch it on ESPN or enjoy the party at the Trop and cheer for the Wolfpack or the Knights. But mark this moment as another step in disruptive 21st century innovation. Because, when I take my seat at Tropicana Field, I’ll have ringside seats on history. And when you tune in, you will too.

  • Obama Caves To Girl Scout Lobby, Wears Tiara In Photo
    President Barack Obama eschewed one of his self-professed rules of the job for a Girl Scout troop earlier this year.

    Ignoring his own stern warning to not “put stuff on your head if you’re president,” Obama donned a tiara while posing for a photo with Girl Scout Troop 2612, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. White House photographer Pete Souza shared the photo for the first time on Wednesday.

    “Still editing 2014 Year in Photos. I may include this one even though it’s a posed photo,” Souza said on Instagram. “This is from the annual White House Science Fair. The kids from Girl Scout Troop 2612 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, convinced the President to wear a tiara with them for their group photo. The girls had exhibited a Lego flood proof bridge project.”

    The White House Science Fair took place in June, and focused on girls and women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields who are inspiring the next generation of scientists.

  • Which Windows Phone Did You Get for Christmas?

    Now that Christmas has come for many, it’s time to see which Windows Phone you received this holiday!  Give me your vote!

    The post Which Windows Phone Did You Get for Christmas? appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Google's Christmas Doodle Contains A Plug For 'The Interview'
    It appears Google really wants you to spend your Christmas watching “The Interview.” Just check out the note at the bottom of its festive Doodle.

    google doodle

    Yesterday, Google began streaming “The Interview” on Google Play and YouTube, a week after Sony allegedly approached the search engine giant asking for help distributing the film. The comedy, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is also available on Microsoft’s Xbox Video and on SeeTheInterview.com. It will be playing on Christmas Day at about 300 movie theaters across the country.

  • Seth Rogen And Evan Goldberg Show Up To L.A. Screening Of 'The Interview'
    Eager moviegoers got an early Christmas present if they happened to stop by Los Angeles’ Silent Movie Theatre on Thursday morning. Run by nonprofit Cinefamily, the theatre hosted a 12:30 a.m. showing of “The Interview,” and co-directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg dropped by to introduce the film.

    .@Sethrogen and @evandgoldberg introducing THE INTERVIEW! pic.twitter.com/0WIWUL0AvE

    — The Cinefamily (@cinefamily) December 25, 2014

    You are the best, we thought this might not happen at all,” Rogen told the crowd, according to NBC News. “If it wasn’t for theaters like this and people like you, this wouldn’t be fucking happening.”

    seth rogen cinefamily

    If you haven’t been following all the controversy surrounding the release of “The Interview,” here’s a brief rundown of why the film almost didn’t make it to theaters: Earlier this month, hackers made terror threats against places that planned to show the film, and major movie theater chains decided not to show it. Sony yanked the comedy from the release schedule, but then flipped on its decision and made plans to release the film via VOD streaming services and in independent movie theaters, like the Silent Movie Theatre.

    To see footage of Rogen and Goldberg’s surprise visit, head over to NBC.

  • Is Your Christmas Present Spying on You?
    T’was the night after Christmas, when all through the house

    Every stripe of device with no need of a mouse

    Sent oodles of data to that Cloud in the Air

    While their owners slept soundly, with nary a care…

    When it comes to gifts from the Internet of Things department, there’s no jolly guy in a white-trimmed red suit with a bag full of presents, no magic reindeer clip-clopping on the roof. In fact, it’s far more likely that you’ll never discern the pitter-pat of digital feet when you connect that IoT gift to your WiFi — whether it belongs to members of a marketing team, cyber thieves or your garden-variety voyeur.

    You know what I mean here. I’m talking about the new smart everything: televisions, various household help such as thermostats and water heaters, garage door openers, alarms, lights, medical devices, fitness wearables and baby monitors with many more connected devices coming early and often to a store near you.

    You’ve hopefully heard this before with regard to your Facebook account and other social media sites, but it bears repeating: Whenever you are offered something free of charge or for a negligible fee, assume that you are the product. Often you are unwittingly pitching the product to acquaintances who are likely to buy the same thing — this goes for all those products that ask to share information about your new acquisition on social media upon registration — or you are helping the service that you just subscribed to (by purchasing their device) to perfect itself.

    In a perfect world, this would be… well, perfect. In the real world, IoT is still in the Wild West stage of its evolution. Indeed, smaller companies are rushing IoT products to market in a mad dash to beat bigger brands that have more at stake when it comes to security and therefore roll out new products and services with more deliberation and caution. As a result, you can’t always be so sure that your data is going to be safe. Over the past few years, we’ve learned the hard way that there is no such thing as too safe or secure when it comes to cybercrime, and there are a whole host of organizations out there — both big and small — that are doing a miserable job of protecting you.

    Just this year, a fitness wearable sold by Jawbone collected data about users’ sleeping patterns after an earthquake in California and published it. The data was anonymized but still many users protested because they didn’t realize that the product’s privacy policy allowed Jawbone to do that. A similar device called FitBit transmitted information about users’ sex lives. FitBit stopped tracking sex activity, Forbes reported, and Jawbone said its privacy policy is really clear and the company doesn’t share individual data without consent, Re/Code reported. Both information gushers were enabled by untoward privacy policies unread by early adopters and users’ false assumption that these products came with privacy controls set tightly as a default. The rule here should be as follows: Assume you need to set your own long and strong password, and that every shred of your personal information is being passed along to third (and fourth and fifth) parties, and to set your permissions accordingly.

    The fact is that few of us know much about the Internet of Things, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting it in our homes and on our bodies. But as we snatch up connectable products with reckless abandon this Christmas season, the number one issue we face is the protection of our privacy and the security of our data.

    The market for IoT products is snowballing. There are as many connected devices out there as there are human beings on the planet, and while estimates vary wildly, the lowball projection for 2020 is 25 billion IoT devices (the upper range is double that number). That’s three to six IoT devices per person on the planet.

    This year, on Christmas day, a record number of products that connect to the Internet will be turned on and start conversing with the companies that manufactured them. If the lucky owners of this holiday season’s latest crop of IoT products only knew the downside of the seamless convenience promised (but not always delivered) by web-enabled products, they might be as sleepless as every child was on the night before Christmas.

  • Hack threat comedy released in US
    The Sony Pictures comedy The Interview opens in some US cinemas and online, after a major cyber-attack and threats over its release.

Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • Happy Holidays Everyone!

    I want to take a moment to wish all of the readers and followers of ClintonFitch.com a very happy holidays.  Today I will be celebrating Christmas with my family which undoubtedly will involved a bit of new technology for some of my family.  It will also be a time of food and fun as we get together.  It also means that I will be taking a few days off to spend with friends & family but I will be back posting updates on Monday. If you get a new Windows PC, Tablet or Phone, be sure to check out my

    The post Happy Holidays Everyone! appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Sony comedy The Interview opens
    The Sony Pictures comedy The Interview opens in some US cinemas and online, after a major cyber-attack and row over its release.
  • Keeping your Christmas gadgets safe
    Basic steps to keeping your Christmas gadgets safe
  • North Korea's Cyberattack Capabilities
    LONDON (AP) — North Korea’s microscopic corner of the Internet has had a rough couple of days, suffering seven outages in 48 hours, according to one Web traffic monitor.

    The mysterious problems have some talking of a retaliatory cyberattack by the United States, which holds Pyongyang responsible for last month’s spectacular hack of Sony Pictures. American officials have fueled speculation with vague denials, but security experts say North Korea’s Internet infrastructure is so skeletal that even amateurs — or a simple glitch — could have brought it clattering down. “A large city block in London or New York would have more IP (Internet Protocol) addresses than North Korea,” said Ofer Gayer, a security researcher at Redwood Shores, California-based Incapsula Inc.

    Even on a good day, Web watchers see less Internet traffic from North Korea than from the Falkland Islands, a North Atlantic archipelago of fewer than 3,000 people, said Gayer. Media companies like Sony easily dwarf the communist country’s web presence.

    He said that if the network was targeted by a kind of distributed denial-of-service — or DDoS — attack, the list of suspects is endless.

    “Any kid that knows how to run a small-sized DDoS amplification attack can do it from his home.”

    For many, the uncertainty over the outage — and lingering doubts over who hacked Sony — illustrates how little we can really know about attacks in the Information Age.

    “This whole incident is a perfect illustration of how technology is equalizing capability,” Bruce Schneier, a respected security expert, said in a blog post. “In both the original attack against Sony, and this attack against North Korea, we can’t tell the difference between a couple of hackers and a government.”

    Here’s what is known:

    FOR TWO DAYS, NORTH KOREA STRUGGLED TO STAY ONLINE

    After spending a significant chunk of Monday offline, North Korea’s Internet had two short outages Tuesday morning, according to Jim Cowie, the chief scientist at Dyn Research, an Internet performance company.

    Cowie characterized the outages as a “return to instability,” and said they were the same type of outages that caused the original disruption.

    Hiccups continued until Wednesday. Internet monitor BGPmon says it has detected a total of seven interruptions, with the last hour-long outage reported between 6:30 and 7:45 GMT.

    IT DOESN’T TAKE MUCH TO KNOCK NORTH KOREA OFF THE WEB

    North Korea has a tiny online footprint, thousands of millions of times smaller than that of the United States or even archrival South Korea. Gayer, the Incapsula researcher, pegged the country’s total bandwidth at 2.5 gigabits per second, a minuscule amount of traffic which could easily be overwhelmed by a denial-of-service attack. Only last week, a London teenager pleaded guilty to a cyberattack against an anti-spam group which clocked in at 300 gigabits per second.

    SPECULATION IS RAMPANT

    U.S. officials have refused to be drawn over the online mischief, feeding speculation that American retribution may be to blame for North Korea’s Internet problems.

    “Ask the North Koreans if their Internet wasn’t working,” said U.S. State Department representative Marie Harf in response to questions about the outages on Tuesday. “I would check with them.”

    The attack doesn’t fit the pattern of an American cyber-strike, said Dan Holden of Arbor Networks, which works to block denial-of-service attacks. He said online activists may be to blame, and social media chatter provides some support for the claim.

    One prominent account linked to Anonymous, the amorphous collective of self-appointed cyber-vigilantes, briefly claimed credit for knocking North Korea offline before it was itself was yanked from the Internet by Twitter. Rival claims — from obscure groups carrying names like “Lizard Squad” or “Gator League” — were even harder to assess.

    THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE

    North Korea’s Internet has gone dark before. In March 2013 the nation experienced connectivity problems for the better part of a day and a half.

    The North Korean government blamed the United States for the problems, but their cause has never been publicly confirmed.

    ___

    Eileen Sullivan in Washington contributed to this report.

  • Say Hello to the World's First Smart Suitcase
    Technological advances continue to amaze me on a daily basis. From the latest and greatest apps that help you navigate streets while avoiding traffic and speed traps to the constant evolution of the ways people can connect via the next social media platform, there always seems to be something interesting popping up that catches my eye.

    2014-12-24-TwoBluesmarts.jpg

    But a carry-on suitcase that you can lock, weigh and track all from an app on your smartphone? Mind blowing! Personally, I never thought there would be technological advances on a product that is designed specifically to carry my underwear from one destination to the next.

    Well the guys over at Bluesmart proved me wrong and are making their revolutionary product a purchasable reality in 2015. They have already crowd sourced over 1.3 Million dollars, from just under 9,000 donors, shattering their original goal of 50,000 dollars to mass-produce the “Smart Suitcase.”

    The Bluesmart team has also been making their presence known all over the globe, showing off their prototype at trade shows from San Francisco to Hong Kong and have been featured as the next big thing in many technology blogs and online publications.

    From a design perspective, the suitcase is perfectly made for the global road warrior, those who spend much of their daily life in and out of airports.

    2014-12-24-BluesmartiPhoneAttached.jpg

    The Bluesmart is made with a hard plastic shell, retractable handle, wheels that turn every which way, and most importantly, it is perfectly sized to make sure your bag stays with you on the plane instead of being recklessly tossed under the plane by baggage workers who sometimes just don’t care about your fragile sticker.

    2014-12-24-BluesmartiPhoneCharge.jpg

    By far one of the coolest features of the Bluesmart is the ability to charge almost all of your devices from tablets to smartphones. There is a built in battery that is able to fully charge your devices six times over. I can personally recall many times that I wasn’t able to find a charging station at the airport. Even worse, having to fight my way past other weary travelers all desperately trying to suck the sweet energy juices from the outlet to charge dying smartphones while yapping away on important business calls. The Bluesmart changes all of that with its own USB outlet that is hooked up to an impressively powerful battery.

    2014-12-24-BluesmartHandleAngle.jpg

    Let’s backtrack a little bit to before one even arrives to the airport. As you are finished stuffing all of your clothes and souvenirs into your suitcase while praying to the travel gods that you are not going to be over the weight limit, you simply pull up the handle of the Bluesmart and check the weight on the app.

    You are also able to digitally lock and track your suitcase using your smartphone. If by chance you become separated from your suitcase, the automatic lock mechanism can be configured to kick in making it impossible for others to access your goods. Also, you can see where your suitcase may have strayed off to using the maps feature on the app. The suitcase also comes with a key for backup as well. This feature makes it TSA friendly as they can still access your suitcase just in case you do in fact decide to check your bag.

    The team over at Bluesmart is working on a few other technological features and enhancements to add to the app and the way you use your suitcase. They claim using the Bluesmart will be like having your own personal travel assistant seeing as you will be able to track your trips and view your travel patterns.

    This is definitely a product I am excited about purchasing in 2015.

    For more information on the release and additional features or information of the Bluesmart please go here.

  • A Brand New World In Which Men Ruled
    In the history of American higher education, it is hard to top the luck and timing of the Stanford class of 1994, whose members arrived on campus barely aware of what an email was, and yet grew up to help teach the rest of the planet to shop, send money, find love and navigate an ever-expanding online universe.
  • Best Tweets: What Women Said On Twitter This Week
    Christmas has finally arrived and the women of Twitter are very excited. Instead of putting out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, Abbi Crutchfield is changing it up a bit this year: “Believing in Christmas magic as an adult means you can stay up late for Santa by bar-hopping.” Sounds about right to us.

    It’s safe to say Santa won’t be bar-hopping, just house-hopping. Which got Twitter user Susan Burke thinking “I bet Mrs. Claus really hates that song Santa Baby.” At least Mrs. Claus won’t have Charlene deGuzman to worry about, given her clever romance-avoidance technique: “*eats the mistletoe.*

    For more great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.

    Just ate the most interesting salad. It had gingerbread cupcake in it! No lettuce or anything, just cake & icing.

    — alyssa kramer (@kramediggles) December 22, 2014

    I bet Mrs. Claus really hates that song Santa Baby.

    — Susan Burke (@ThatSusanBurke) December 24, 2014

    I will stay awake for as long as it takes me to find something to watch on Netflix, then I will fall asleep two seconds after pressing play

    — Caro (@socarolinesays) December 23, 2014

    I’m in Walmart on xmas eve. Do with that what you will. (Hopefully “that” involves saving me”.

    — Amanda Seales (@amandaseales) December 24, 2014

    Believing in Christmas magic as an adult means you can stay up late for Santa by bar-hopping.

    — Abbi Crutchfield (@curlycomedy) December 23, 2014

    I always have to shower after I park my car, because I can’t stop ridin’ dirty.

    — Jess! (@ImJESSPlayin) December 23, 2014

    Can’t decide if I should cancel the date I have this Friday on Christmas Eve, Christmas or the day of. Don’t want to seem rude!

    — Lauren Greenberg (@LaurenGreenberg) December 24, 2014

    i guess i kind of get jesus cause every year we throw him a birthday party and he’s like no thanks to showing up

    — lauren ashley bishop (@sbellelauren) December 21, 2014

    Be vigilante this holiday season for disease runs rampant; three friends have already caught “feelings” and the symptoms are disgusting.

    — Adrienne Airhart (@craydrienne) December 24, 2014

    Pretty sure the deepest circle of hell is a mall on Christmas Eve.

    — Ellie Hall (@ellievhall) December 24, 2014

    Maybe we aren’t as smart as past generations, but we’re like way cuter in pics.

    — Bookish (@BookisherBunny) December 23, 2014

    It’s an epic battle during the holidays between being lonely but still not being able to stand most people.

    — heather* (@heatherlou_) December 23, 2014

    2015 is less than two weeks away and we still don’t have USB ports in our arms to charge our phones with

    — Kate Beckman (@Kate_Beckman) December 21, 2014

    Guys guys guys. What if Jdate had a jingle called “All I Want for Christmas is a-” oh wait am I allowed to make this joke?

    — erin mallory long (@erinmallorylong) December 24, 2014

    IHTM: I Went On A Made-For-TV Holiday Movie Binge And Learned ‘Career Women’ Die Alone

    — Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) December 24, 2014

    I almost just accidentally watched your end of the year social media video, that was a close one.

    — Molly (@MollySneed) December 22, 2014

    when u realize it’s 3 days till christmas pic.twitter.com/sJJ3cagRyw

    — Typical Girl (@ReIatabIeFemale) December 22, 2014

    our dads are all at Walgreens buying our presents right now

    — Mary Charlene (@IamEnidColeslaw) December 24, 2014

    treat yourself with the same tenderness, benefit of the doubt, and understanding that you did with your worst ex

    — Mallory Ortberg (@mallelis) December 21, 2014

    These holiday endorphins are really getting to me. I am closing way too many emails with Love for people I’m not really there with yet

    — Michelle Markowitz (@michmarkowitz) December 23, 2014

    Calls ghost busters to get rid of the Christmas spirit

    — Just Jane (@jdforshort) December 22, 2014

    *eats the mistletoe*

    — Charlene deGuzman (@charstarlene) December 24, 2014

    When you run out of Christmas wrapping paper pic.twitter.com/IdPIiki6vU

    — Kardashian Reactions (@KardashianReact) December 22, 2014

    Every Jewish male comedy writer should just wish he were as witty as Nicki Minaj

    — Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) December 17, 2014

    This guy at speed dating asked if I have any weird tattoos I was like lol not if you love The Golden Girls.

    — Jess [ham] (@thejessbess) December 15, 2014

    Dear 2015,

    Please have more chill than 2014 did.

    Love,
    Earth

    — Mackenzie Kruvant (@mkruvant) December 22, 2014

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas and I was sexting my TC…

    — CinderellaHips (@latte_drama) December 22, 2014

    My mom asked why I was putting hummus on pumpkin bread and I snapped at her for always questioning my choices. #HomeForTheHolidays

    — Amanda Duberman (@AmandaDuberman) December 23, 2014

    As soon as fb gives us the option to post stickers in statuses, all of my posts will be limited to cats kneading dough and typing on laptops

    — Rebecca Darling (@RococoVintage) December 22, 2014

    Season 2 of Serial: Who the f hacked Sony?

    — olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) December 22, 2014

    Walmart’s new name is “The Stuff Library” based on how many times I’ve used things and then returned them when I was done.

    — Ali Spagnola (@alispagnola) December 22, 2014

  • Devon Coley Charged After Allegedly Posting Threat Against NYPD
    NEW YORK (AP) — Police have increased security at some stationhouses and made at least four arrests over threats made since the deadly shootings of two officers last weekend, and the mayor vowed Wednesday to protect officers.

    Emergency Services Unit officers were providing additional protection at two Brooklyn precincts, where they were stationed starting Tuesday. Police said Wednesday they were remaining vigilant while investigating the origin of the threats, which they didn’t detail. Meanwhile, an 18-year-old was facing charges of making a terroristic threat after authorities said he put up a menacing photo and message online on Saturday hours after the afternoon ambush of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos by a gunman who had signaled his plans on social media.

    Teenager Devon Coley posted a photo on his Facebook page Saturday night of a gunman shooting at a patrol car, symbols showing a gun pointed at an officer’s head and a caption with his local precinct’s number and “next,” according to a court complaint.

    His lawyer, Daniel Ades, said Wednesday that the state terroristic-threats law was being misapplied.

    “Nobody’s condoning threats against police,” he said, but “even if this is proven, it doesn’t amount to a crime.” He noted that the law requires a “reasonable expectation or fear” that a threat meant to influence government or intimidate the public is about to be carried out.

    Prosecutors sought $250,000 bail for Coley, who was already facing unrelated gun possession and other charges, the New York Post reported. Court records show a judge released him without bail on the threats charge.

    Officials said they had assessed hundreds of online postings and calls to emergency lines, initiating about 40 threat probes, with about half of those being closed or referred to other agencies.

    The police department said one 52-year-old man had been arrested after walking into a Manhattan stationhouse and saying: “If I punch you in the face, how much time will I get?” and refusing to leave.

    In addition, two Staten Island residents were arrested in separate incidents on Tuesday. A 16-year-old was arrested on a charge of making a terrorist threat and a 46-year-old man was charged with making a false report.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio denounced the various threats Wednesday and said the city “will protect the men and women who protect us.”

    “New York City stands with our police officers in this time of tragedy, as we do every day, and our city will not be intimidated by those spouting hateful, violent messages,” he said in a statement.

    In Colorado, a 33-year-old military veteran was arrested Monday for posting online threats calling for the killing of current and former police officers under the name “Vets Hunting Cops.”

    And in Northern California, presidents of the three biggest Northern California police unions warned that recent anti-police sentiments are threatening officers’ safety. Recent demonstrations against police brutality have devolved into tasteless vilification of officers, including chants calling for dead police officers, the union heads said in a letter posted online Tuesday.

  • Too Busy to Write Your Annual Family Newsletter? Here's a Better Idea.
    A few years ago, I joined a group of engineers at a hack-fest and afterwards, they invited me to join them for a three day start-up accelerator course. The invitation saved me $5,000. The biggest “take away” idea I learned from the course was this: that when you give a gift to someone else, the most important thing is NOT the price tag, that is, how much you spent on that person. The most important thing is number of happy memories it links to in their mind.

    Everyone in the room agreed on this one. When you give a gift that connects us to pleasant MEMORIES from the past, this is the gift that will be talked about the most and valued the most.

    So who won this year’s BEST prize award? The answer may surprise you, and it begins with a story from my childhood.

    When I was young, we didn’t have copy machines. We had Smith and Corona and IBM typewriters. We had carbon paper, and mimeograph machines. In the 1960′s, when the first Xerox machines hit the market, each copy came out WET. Each one had to be dried separately, like laundry on a clothes line!

    To keep our far flung family connected, my mother would take out five sheets of onion skin paper, put a sheet of blue carbon paper between each one, and then roll the five-layered newsletter into the typewriter. Using only one page, she would share the most memorable news from the year with us. We referred to our mother as the Great Communicator. As children growing up, we always believed that the most favored one was the one who got the first or second copy. After that, the words became more difficult to read on the 4th and 5th copies.

    This was the generation that I grew up in. We wrote an annual newsletter, and sent it via the latest technology: mail, email, and various social media to family and friends.

    Now, Facebook has come up with an algorithm that will instantly win the hearts and minds of those who dare to click on the post that shows up on their page that includes the picture of one of their friends and as in my case reads: Alexia’s Year

    I boldly clicked on one titled: Colleen’s Year. I happily scrolled through a series of 10 images of Colleen enjoying life with family and friends. The BEST surprise was waiting at the end. I clicked a short message that mentioned my name. And suddenly, to my surprise, a series of 10 images and captions, posted by me over the year on FB, was presented with a question at the end.

    The question? Do you want to edit the captions? When ready, click POST. 2014-12-24-ScreenShot20141224at8.18.23AM.png

    I scrolled through the photos and read the captions several more times. The choice was perfect. Sure I could have added another favorite photo or two, or edited the captions, however, these were the words that came from ME and expressed the joy, happiness, or pleasure I felt at that moment in time!

    The perfect gift? The gift that keeps reminding you that despite life’s ups and downs, there were so many joyful, happy, loving moments in your life that: “Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus!”

    ALEXIA PARKS is a Virtual Mentor with the United Nations, author, and one of Newsweek’s “50 People Who Matter Most On The Internet.” She is also CEO and founder of the 10 TRAITS Academy. It is the only leadership training program in the world based on the New Science of the Female Brain.

  • Facebook To Face Lawsuit Over Scanning Users' Messages
    By Nate Raymond
    (Reuters) – Facebook Inc must face a class action lawsuit accusing it of violating its users’ privacy by scanning the content of messages they send to other users for advertising purposes, a U.S. judge has ruled.
    U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, on Tuesday dismissed some state-law claims against the social media company but largely denied Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit.
    Facebook had argued that the alleged scanning of its users’ messages was covered by an exception under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act for interceptions by service providers occurring in the ordinary course of business.
    But Hamilton said Facebook had “not offered a sufficient explanation of how the challenged practice falls within the ordinary course of its business.”
    Neither Facebook nor a lawyer for the plaintiffs responded to a request for comment Wednesday.
    The lawsuit, filed in 2013, alleged that Facebook scanned the content of private messages sent between users for links to websites and would then count any links in a tally of “likes” of the pages.
    Those “likes” were then used to compile user profiles, which were then used for delivering targeted advertising to its users, the lawsuit said.
    The complaint alleged that the scanning of the private messages violated the federal and California state law.
    According to Tuesday’s ruling, Facebook ceased the practice at issue in October 2012. But the company said it still does some analysis of messages to protect against viruses and spam, the ruling said.
    The lawsuit was filed by Facebook user Matthew Campbell and seeks class action status on behalf of U.S. users who sent or received private messages that included website addresses in their content.
    The case is Campbell v. Facebook Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 13-5996.

    (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

  • Quantum Physics Just Got A Tiny Bit Easier To Understand, As Two Oddities Merge Into One
    No one is about to claim that quantum physics is now easy to understand, but maybe it’s not quite as devilishly complicated as we thought.

    New research suggests that two of the quantum world’s most mysterious features–the uncertainty principle and wave-particle duality–are simply two sides of a single coin.

    “The connection between uncertainty and wave-particle duality comes out very naturally when you consider them as questions about what information you can gain about a system,” Dr. Stephanie Wehner, an associate professor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and one of the scientists behind the research, said in a written statement. “Our result highlights the power of thinking about physics from the perspective of information.”

    Wave-particle duality is the idea that elementary particles can exhibit wave-like behavior–for example, as seen in the classic double-slit experiment. The uncertainty principle holds that it’s impossible to know both the position and momentum of a particle at the same time.

    The proposed unification of the two features may bring new advances in cryptography, Dr. Patrick Coles, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing in Canada and one of Wehner’s collaborators, told The Huffington Post in an email. For example, he said, it could point the way to provide “perfectly secure” online credit card transactions.

    In addition, the advance promises to make it easier for physics students to make sense of a field that is notoriously difficult to understand. Instead of having to learn two separate phenomena, Coles said, “they can just learn the uncertainty principle and then deduce the competition between wave and particle behavior as a consequence of the uncertainty principle.”

    But perhaps most significant is that the unification may change the way scientists see the physical world–as happened when 19th Century scientists discovered that electricity and magnetism aren’t distinct forces but just different manifestations of a single force we now call electromagnetism.

    “Although our work is not at that level of impact, our work does affect how physicists view the structure of quantum theory,” Coles said in the email. “Most physicists believe that quantum theory applies to every object around us, including ourselves. Even though it is weird to think of the particles inside us sometimes behaving like waves, that is the strange truth.”

    Coles said the key to the new research was to use mathematics to translate the language of wave and particle behavior into the language of uncertainty. He offered the following analogy:

    “When we came across the literature on wave-particle duality, it was like trying to read hieroglyphics. The big breakthrough that we made was to discover a Rosetta Stone, or construct a Rosetta Stone, that allowed us to translate these hieroglyphics into our native tongue… it was especially fun because no one had ever translated these hieroglyphics before.”

    What do other physicists make of the research?

    Dr. Robert W. Spekkens, a physicist on the faculty at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, called it “a very nice result” and “significant,” adding that “the more we understand the connections between different quantum phenomena, the better our chances of making sense of the foundations of quantum theory.”

    A paper describing the research was published Dec. 19 in the journal Nature Communications.

  • This is the best critical care medical app available for iPhone

    A look at the best critical care medical available for iPhone

    The post This is the best critical care medical app available for iPhone appeared first on iMedicalApps.

  • Hey Cabbies, Apps Are Cheap!
    2014-12-22-taxistrike.jpg
    I threatened in a recent post to write more about how the Sharing Economy and the social sector could, in some fashion, enhance each other. But ever since, the more I’ve read and thought about it, the more frustrated I’ve felt that this mutual enhancement is to be discovered.

    All the recent Uber crap just seemed to underlie an ineluctable point: Behind every prosperous sharing economy company, sits a smart capitalist maximizing profits. If part of the sharing economy speaks to the human need to share and part of the sharing economy speaks to the human desire to save money and maximize convenience, the people who own the companies are utilizing the first part to fuel the second part, and deriving immense profit therefrom. And whatever you may think of capitalism as an organizing principle, it is most emphatically not sharing. This is what Marxists would call a “contradiction.”

    While we’re at it, remember all that stuff about the ‘means of production’? Think about Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Task Rabbit, Next Door, even the revered Etsy and compare them to traditional companies. The owner of a factory owns the building and machines. Even more so, he controls all the work processes that connect supply to demand. Likewise, the owner of a financial services firm owns the computers and terminals and, on some level, the connections through which the intellectual capital of the firm can reach customers.

    What does a sharing economy company own? An application that allows people to pool their labor and assets conveniently and economically. And a brand built on that application. Uber, for example, disintermediates traditional cab companies by inserting itself as the intermediary.

    So here is a very interesting idea in a Nation article by Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert called, “Socialize Uber; It’s easier than you think.” What I particularly like is the notion of the ‘second user advantage.’

    Now think about what the capitalist managers at Uber are doing with their cut of the company’s money. They are fighting regulators and hiring lobbyists in order to bring down the incumbent taxi-medallion business. They are also spending money on advertising, in order to get customers interested in using a ride-sharing service. These are both expensive projects, and they open the door for competitors. Newer ride-share ventures can piggyback on Uber’s success and take advantage of these new terms, with Uber having already spent all that initial money. This is called ‘the second-mover advantage,’ and it explains why Uber is such a vicious company.

    What has Uber’s ascent taught us? I would say we have learned: (1) People will climb into cars driven by just about anybody not holding a knife between his teeth if…(2) you can get a car when you need it at a reasonable price.

    Lyft tries hard to sell the warmer, fuzzier part of the Sharing scene. The pink mustache. The first bump. The sit next to the driver and talk about Lyfe. But Lyft doesn’t come close to Uber’s ubiquity and seems to be somewhat more expensive.

    Uber’s bad press made me think more about my own car hiring predilections. The fact is that when I use cabs (infrequently) I want to get from Place A to Place B safely and for the lowest possible cost. The bottom line is that I perceive Uber to be faster and cheaper than Lyft and I know that both are faster and cheaper than calling a traditional cab. I can’t rationalize protecting cabbies’ livelihoods (i.e. medallion owners’ profits) as a major consideration, and while there was a brief moment when I loved Lyft’s mustache and driver-bonding, that has passed. So has Uber captured my trade, regardless of whether I’m holding my nose?

    Per Konczal and Covert, not necessarily. Let’s disintermediate Uber! Apps are easy. Even the taxi companies have apps now. What’s tough is the rigor of setting up a working workers’ collective. But the incentive is there. All the drivers are unhappy, it seems. The cabbies are seeing their secure livelihoods vanish. The Uber and Lyft drivers feel squeezed by their companies’ quest for profits. Sure, there are some happy part-time drivers who relish the flexibility and for whom the income is at least somewhat discretionary, but for any driver who is, say, supporting a family on his or her take-home, it doesn’t matter whether it’s Uber, Lyft, or Yellow — it’s a tough slog to make it work economically. They have become “landless peasants” to use Leo Mirani’s apt phrase from his recent piece in Quartz.

    But they are landless peasants who own their cars! (The cabbies usually own cars too, though not their cabs). A workers’ collective, that didn’t have to build investors’ and owners’ equity, should be able to compete economically. And that slice of the Sharing Economy that actually values sharing (as long as it gets its rides on time and at a decent price!) could stop holding its nose.

    As Konczal and Covert say, “… a transition to workers’ owning their firms is necessary, economically smart, and one way for workers to gain power in the digital age. Because you know what worker-run firms do? Share.”

    Or per Tony Greenham, head of finance and business at the New Economics Foundation (as quoted in this excellent article in the Guardian)…

    What I would be impressed by is the ‘sharing economy’ companies trying to get social justice. The whole concept of sharing isn’t very compatible with the accumulation of private capital, after all what’s irreversible is the technological element. But maybe some of these platforms would be more socially responsible if they were owned by the users, rather than venture capitalists in Silicon Valley.

    In June, cabbies all over Europe struck and blocked traffic in opposition to Uber. By so doing they handed Uber massive publicity, annoyed the public (a.k.a. their customers) and appeared themselves to be self-servingly impervious to the reasons Uber has succeeded. As workers, they were essentially defending their bosses’ right to profit. They’d be better served creating their own alternative.

    (Photo tagged for noncommercial reuse by Luke MacGregor/Reuters.)

  • 'The Interview' Gets VOD Release Via YouTube, Google Play
    A day after Sony authorized screenings of “The Interview” in a limited number of theaters, the studio announced that the film will also be available via on-demand services.

    As first reported by CNN’s Brian Stelter and later confirmed by Sony, viewers are able to rent or buy the film from YouTube Movies, Google Play, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and via SeeTheInterview.com. (The cost is $5.99 to rent, and $14.99 to purchase).

    “Last Wednesday, Sony began contacting a number of companies, including Google, to ask if we’d be able to make their movie, ‘The Interview,’ available online,” David Drummond, SVP Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer at Google, wrote in a statement. “We’d had a similar thought and were eager to help — though given everything that’s happened, the security implications were very much at the front of our minds.

    “Of course it was tempting to hope that something else would happen to ensure this movie saw the light of day,” he continued. “But after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be).”

    Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton also released a statement about the streaming debut:

    We never stopped pursuing as wide a release as possible for ‘The Interview.’ It was essential for our studio to release this movie, especially given the assault upon our business and our employees by those who wanted to stop free speech. We chose the path of digital distribution first so as to reach as many people as possible on opening day, and we continue to seek other partners and platforms to further expand the release.

    I want to thank Google and Microsoft for helping make this a reality. This release represents our commitment to our filmmakers and free speech. While we couldn’t have predicted the road this movie traveled to get to this moment, I’m proud our fight was not for nothing and that cyber criminals were not able to silence us. No doubt the issues we have confronted these last few weeks will not end with this release, but we are gratified to have stood together and confident in our future. I want to thank everyone at Sony Pictures for their dedication and perseverance through what has been an extraordinary and difficult time.

    Sony’s decision to stream the film was also praised by President Barack Obama.

    “The president welcomes the news that people will be able to decide for themselves whether or not to see this film, and appreciates Sony’s work on this effort over the past few weeks,” White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement. “As the president made clear on Friday, we do not live in a country where a foreign dictator can start imposing censorship here in the United States. With today’s announcements, people can now make their own choices about the film, and that’s how it should be.”

    In addition to the on-demand release, Sony will debut “The Interview” in select theaters on Christmas Day. (Here’s a list of all the theaters showing “The Interview.”) According to Variety, Sony is also in discussions with Netflix about possibly streaming “The Interview” to subscribers within the next few days.

    As noted by SeeTheInterview.com, watching the film online is currently limited to only viewers in the United States.

    Last week, it was unclear if people would ever see “The Interview.” Following terror threats made by hackers against theaters that planned to show the film, major chains like AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, Cinemark, Cineplex Entertainment and Carmike Cinemas pulled “The Interview” from schedules. Sony then dropped the film from its release schedule.

    Soon after, Sony was criticized by members of the Hollywood community and President Obama, who called the cancellation “a mistake.” On Tuesday, Sony flipped its decision and announced that the film would make it to select theaters on Christmas Day, its previously scheduled release date. Independent movie theaters around the country amended their schedules to add showtimes.

    Before the Wednesday VOD announcement, there were other rumors about an online release. On Sunday, it was reported that Sony would release “The Interview” via Crackle, the streaming video service the company owns, but that speculation proved untrue. BitTorrent also said it would allow Sony to release the film via its platform.

    Co-directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, “The Interview” focuses on what happens when the C.I.A. enlists an entertainment journalist (James Franco) and his producer (Rogen) to assassinate Kim Jong Un (Randall Park). You will now be able to watch the comedy as Rogen and Franco probably always intended: at home with a joint. Just don’t do it alone.

    I need to say that a comedy is best viewed in a theater full of people, so if you can, I’d watch it like that. Or call some friends over.

    — Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) December 24, 2014

  • Understanding Modern Art Is Really This Easy
    Say it with us:

    A photo posted by @thelightweights on Dec 12, 2014 at 8:57pm PST

    And this has been your holiday PSA from HuffPost Arts&Culture. Long live modern (and post-modern, and post-post-modern) art.

    h/t Instagram

  • Using Your Phone Is Changing Your Brain
    By: Bahar Gholipour
    Published: 12/24/2014 09:13 AM EST on LiveScience

    All that texting is changing your brain.

    A new study shows that the delicate, repetitive finger movements that people use on their smartphone’s touch screen result in a change in the brain’s sensory-processing area.

    The findings suggest that a common, daily activity such as smartphone use could teach scientists about the details of brain plasticity, which is the ability of the neuronal networks to conform to changes in the body or the environment.

    “Smartphones offer us an opportunity to understand how normal life shapes the brains of ordinary people,” said study co-author Arko Ghosh, a neuroscientist at University of Zurich in Switzerland.

    The body’s entire surface is mapped out in a part of the brain called the somatosensory cortex, which receives signals from sensory receptors on the skin and other organs. So, for example, if you touch something with your fingertip, or if you bite your tongue, the region of the cortex that corresponds with those places in the body would receive the signal.

    But these areas can adapt and become more sensitive when a particular part of the body is used frequently. For instance, violinists show greater activity in the somatosensory cortex in response to touch on the little fingertip, compared with people who don’t use their little fingers as much. [4 Unusual Ways Music Can Tune Up the Brain]

    In the new study, researchers set out to examine whether people who frequently use their fingers to work with smartphones undergo a change in the somatosensory cortex. They used electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the brain’s electrical activity in response to touch on the thumb, index and middle fingertips. Of the 37 participants in the study, 26 used touch screen smartphones and 11 used old-fashioned cellphones.

    The results showed that the people who used the touch screens had greater activity in brain areas associated with the fingertips, compared with those using cellphones.

    Interestingly, the researchers said, this change in the processing of sensory information was closely related to how intensely and how frequently people used their fingers, particularly their thumb tip.

    “Remarkably, the thumb tip was sensitive to the day-to-day fluctuations in phone use: the shorter the time elapsed from an episode of intense phone use, the larger the cortical potential associated with it,” the researchers wrote in their study, published today (Dec. 23) in the journal Current Biology.

    The findings suggest that “repetitive movements on the smooth touch screen reshaped sensory processing from the hand and that the thumb representation was updated daily, depending on its use,” the researchers said.

    In other words, the brain may be continually shaped by people’s use of personal digital technology, they said.

    Email Bahar Gholipour or follow her @alterwired. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Originally published on Live Science.

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

  • Your Favorite Childhood Christmas Presents Have Gotten A Whole Lot Cooler Since 1994
    Remember what was on your Christmas list in 1994? Here’s a few hints: In the same year, O.J. Simpson was acquitted, “Forrest Gump” was a smash hit at the box office and — guess what? — the Internet was born.

    It was a big year, especially for Tech. Your list likely had some SNES games and plenty of computer gear to make sure you were the coolest kid on America Online. But a lot’s changed since then.

    Let’s take a quick trip down Tech’s memory lane and check out the hottest tech gifts of 1994 vs. the most-wanted gadgets from today.

    1. PlayStation vs. PlayStation 4

    1994 marked the Japanese release of the original Sony PlayStation. The console that altered the landscape of the entire gaming industry boasted 32-bit graphics and was hailed for embracing 3D gaming. Twenty years later, people are clamoring for its descendent, the PlayStation 4, which offers features fans of the original could scarcely dream of.

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    2. Sega Saturn vs. Nintendo Wii U

    Sega Saturn was released in Japan in 1994 and went on to largely be a flop, getting bested by the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. This year, the Wii U is lagging in sales behind competitors Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One. Nintendo will need to rely on the sales of new games like Mario Kart 8 and Super Super Smash Bros. U to avoid a fate similar to Sega.

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    3. Donkey Kong Country vs. Apple iTunes Gift Card

    Donkey Kong Country was a popular choice on just about all Super Nintendo owners’ Christmas lists in 1994. The game is still a classic, but these days the casual gamer might prefer stocking up on smartphone games with an iTunes gift card.

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    4. IBM Simon vs. iPhone 6

    The IBM Simon is commonly recognized as the first-ever “smartphone.” Retailing for $1,100, it featured a touchscreen and apps, including a calculator and even a calendar. In the 20 years since Simon, smartphones have obviously gotten a lot smarter, but they’ve gotten a lot smaller too. Simon weighed a full 1.2 pounds, compared to the iPhone 6′s featherlight 4.55 ounces.

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    5. Power Macintosh 6100 vs. iMac

    1994 was the year Apple released the first of its Power Macintosh models, featuring a processor speed of 60 MHz. A top-of-the-line iMac today boasts a processor speed of more than 3 GHz, many times faster than its 20-year-old predecessor.

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    6. IBM Thinkpad vs. iPad Air 2

    The IBM Thinkpad may have once been at the forefront of computing you can take with you. But the device now seems anything but portable when compared to the iPad Air 2. The Thinkpad weighed in at about 3 pounds, while the iPad weighs less than a pound.

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    7. AOL Dial-up vs. Amazon Prime

    An AOL subscription used to be a golden ticket to hour after hour spent surfing the Information Superhighway. Today, broadband Internet is nearly a given, and a subscription to streaming service Amazon Prime makes it all the more worthwhile.

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    8. Doom II vs. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

    Doom II was one of the first first-person shooter video games ever when it came out in 1994. The genre has endured, and 20 years later, the latest installment of war simulation, Call of Duty, is highly sought after this holiday season for bringing a similar — and ever more realistic — brand of shoot-em-up.

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    9. Iomega Zip Disk vs. 2 Terabyte External Hard Drive

    The Iomega Zip Disk may have made life a lot easier for those trapped in the world of the floppy disk, but to anyone today the data storage method is laughable. The Zip Disk held just 100 MB of data, barely a fraction of what external hard drives can hold today.

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    10. QuickCam vs. GoPro Hero 4 Camera

    Ah, the QuickCam. Was all the time spent trying to get it to actually work really worth the pay off? The QuickCam may have become a popular online accessory but these days digital cameras like the GoPro not only work reliably, they’re smaller, higher quality and more durable.

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    11. Bigscreen TV vs. Flatscreen LCD TV

    TVs have come a long way in the past 20 years, from boxy contraptions forever perched atop sturdy tables to sliver-thin screens we can hang just about anywhere we darn well please. What’s more, they’re just about cheaper than ever.

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  • How Mobile Phone Compatible Hearing Aids Are Creating A New Market For 'Hearables'

    Advances in healthcare have always gone hand-in-hand with the development of new, effective technologies. From the development and widespread use of the artificial pacemaker to advancements in joint replacement, technology helps people living with severe medical conditions live fuller, more active lives.

    “Hearables” — the next “wearable” health trackers – are the next frontier in the convergence of healthcare and technology.

    Why? Because it is time for an update to digital hearing aid technology.

    Since the introduction of digital hearing aids in the 1980s, technology has enabled us to make great strides in the industry. First, hearing aids have been miniaturized by smaller platforms and in turn these powerful platforms have enabled sophisticated sound processing algorithms that give the user a more natural listening experience. Further, we have expanded the hearing aid to a complete hearing system that connects wirelessly to accessories that allows improved hearing even in noisy environments and with the TV and telephone.

    To go from hearing aid to hearables we now directly connect hearing aids with iOS devices.

    Over the past year we have witnessed hearing aids permeate into the mainstream consumer technology world. While hearing aids are at their core, medical devices, this shift marks an important time in raising awareness of the technological advancements hearing aids have made since the 80s. There is enormous opportunity and potential in the hearables market and our work in the area is just starting.

    The introduction of Made for iPhone hearing aids has prompted more people to address their hearing losses, knowing tech savvy solutions exist, across all age groups. This is particularly important in reaching the many boomers who have some degree of hearing loss. Age aside, all hearing aid wearers are looking for discreet, convenient and connected solutions that encapsulate the best sound quality. Hearables represent what wearers are looking for — smarter hearing.

    Further, the term hearables is making strides in eliminating current stigmas and preconceived notions of what a hearing aid is, and how it is used to treat hearing loss. Today’s hearing systems allows users to connect with their families, to enjoy sounds in all listening environments and live their lives uninterrupted by hearing loss. Advancements in technology help make this happen.

    As a new and innovative class of healthcare devices, hearables are now being recognized as game-changing technological advancements beyond healthcare professionals and patients. The technology community has welcomed GN ReSound smart hearing solutions at the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) in Las Vegas for the past two years.

    It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in the hearing health industry. By collaborating with the technology industry, we are able to integrate the latest advances and best audiology practices to optimize our products. Hearables will only continue to cement their place as a major advancement in healthcare, as we continue to develop intuitive products and programs that further increase accessibility for the hearing impaired.

  • Use NORAD's Tracker To Follow Santa All Around The World
    Now that Christmas Eve is here and Santa’s arrival is fast approaching, it’s time to track the where the jolly old man is right now!

    The North American Aerospace Defense Command, better known as NORAD, is keeping up with its annual holiday tradition of following Santa Claus’ progress as he flies around the world in his sleigh. Using radar, satellites, jet fighters and special Santa cams, NORAD detects Kris Kringle’s route and posts photo and video updates onto the official Santa tracker.

    See where Santa is currently and check out how many gifts he has delivered so far:

    Legend has it that NORAD’s tradition began in 1955 after a Sears department store in Colorado Springs placed an ad in the local paper for its “Santa hotline.” But the telephone number for kids to call Santa was misprinted, and instead of calling Sears’ hotline, children reached their local CONAD (the Continental Air Defense Command, which later became NORAD). Luckily, the director of operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, was on duty at the time, and he instructed his staff to check their radar and give the children updates on Santa’s location. And so, the NORAD website states, “a tradition was born.”

    Over the past 59 years, NORAD has made countless improvements to its Santa tracking service to keep up with modern technology. You can now keep up with Santa’s progress in many ways — checking the tracker at noradsanta.org, emailing noradtrackssanta@outlook.com, pressing the OnStar button in your car, or following the Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube channel, or Google Plus. There’s also an official NORAD Tracks Santa app. And as always, you can get updates from volunteer phone operators by calling 1-877-HI-NORAD (1-877-446-6723).

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Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • North Korea partially back online
    Some internet services have been restored in North Korea after a severe outage, amid a cyber security row with the US.
  • North Korea Internet Links Restored Amid U.S. Hacking Dispute
    SEOUL/WASHINGTON, Dec 23 (Reuters) – North Korea, at the center of a confrontation with the United States over the hacking of Sony Pictures, experienced a complete Internet outage for hours before links were restored on Tuesday, a U.S. company that monitors Internet infrastructure said.

    New Hampshire-based Dyn said the reason for the outage was not known but could range from technological glitches to a hacking attack. Several U.S. officials close to the investigations of the attack on Sony Pictures said the U.S. government was not involved in any cyber action against Pyongyang.

    U.S. President Barack Obama had vowed on Friday to respond to the major cyber attack, which he blamed on North Korea, “in a place and time and manner that we choose.”

    Dyn said North Korea’s Internet links were unstable on Monday and the country later went completely offline.

    “We’re yet to see how stable the new connection is,” Jim Cowie, chief scientist for the company, said in a telephone call after the services were restored.

    “The question for the next few hours is whether it will return to the unstable fluctuations we saw before the outage.”

    Meanwhile South Korea, which remains technically at war with the North, said it could not rule out the involvement of its isolated neighbor in a cyberattack on its nuclear power plant operator. It said only non-critical data was stolen and operations were not at risk, but had asked for U.S. help in investigating.

    South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday the leak of data from the nuclear operator was a “grave situation” that was unacceptable as a matter of national security, but she did not mention any involvement of North Korea.

    North Korea is one of the most isolated nations in the world, and the effects of the Internet outage there were not fully clear.

    Very few of its 24 million people have access to the Internet. However, major websites, including those of the KCNA state news agency, the main Rodong Sinmun newspaper and the main external public relations company went down for hours.

    Almost all its Internet links and traffic pass through China, except, possibly, for some satellite links.

    “North Korea has significantly less Internet to lose, compared to other countries with similar populations: Yemen (47 networks), Afghanistan (370 networks), or Taiwan (5,030 networks),” Dyn Research said in a report.

    “And unlike these countries, North Korea maintains dependence on a single international provider, China Unicom.”

    NO PROOF, CHINA SAYS

    The United States requested China’s help last Thursday, asking it to shut down servers and routers used by North Korea that run through Chinese networks, senior administration officials told Reuters.

    The United States also asked China to identify any North Korean hackers operating in China and, if found, send them back to North Korea. It wants China to send a strong message to Pyongyang that such acts will not be tolerated, the officials said.

    By Monday, China had not responded directly to the U.S. requests, the officials added.

    In Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Monday it opposed all forms of cyberattacks and that there was no proof that North Korea was responsible for the Sony hacking.

    North Korea has denied it was behind the cyberattack on Sony and has vowed to hit back against any U.S. retaliation, threatening the White House and the Pentagon..

    The hackers said they were incensed by a Sony comedy about a fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which the movie studio has now pulled from general release.

    Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research, said of the outage in North Korea:

    “There’s either a benign explanation – their routers are perhaps having a software glitch; that’s possible. It also seems possible that somebody can be directing some sort of an attack against them and they’re having trouble staying online.”

    Other experts said it was possible North Korea was attacked by hackers using a botnet, a cluster of infected computers controlled remotely.

    “It would be possible that a patriotic actor could achieve the same results with a botnet, however the President promised a proportional response,” said Tom Kellermann, Chief Cybersecurity Officer at Trend Micro.

    “The real issue here is that nonstate actors and rogue regimes will adopt this modus operandi in 2015. The use of destructive cyberattacks will become mainstream.”

    China is North Korea’s only major ally and would be central to any U.S. efforts to crack down on the isolated state. But the United States has also accused China of cyber spying in the past and a U.S. official has said the attack on Sony could have used Chinese servers to mask its origin. (Additional reporting by Meeyoung Cho in Seoul; David Brunnstrom and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Ben Blanchard and Megha Rajagopalan in Beijing; Jeremy Wagstaff in Singapore; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

  • Signs of Life at Blackberry
    Just when many had considered Blackberry dead, it is showing signs of life. The company took a wrong turn when it lost its focus and tried to chase the consumer market that rapidly became the domain of the iPhone and Android platforms. In the early days, it had some unique advantages — a QWERTY keyboard with real keys instead of a touchscreen, better security, faster speed, and longer battery life — the kinds of benefits enterprises and governments want. It appears that with the introduction of the Blackberry Classic, the company is going back to the future.

    Where things started to go wrong

    The seeds of Blackberry’s demise started from the beginning when the company (originally called RIM or Research In Motion) was product-driven rather than market driven. For the co-CEOs (another problem from a management structure point of view), the world existed inside the four walls of their company and in the heads of their “brilliant” product designers and developers. They were oblivious to what their constituents wanted. At the beginning, they were brilliant, and their Blackberry phone was so popular and addictive to members of its target audience that it was often called the “Crackberry.”

    Formidable competitors entered the market

    Apple entered the smartphone market with a virtual keyboard product it dubbed the iPhone. Not long after, Google copied the look and feel of the iPhone with its Android platform, which various manufacturers adopted rather than reinvent the wheel. The iPhone and Android quickly ate into the Blackberry’s market share.

    Disparaging the competition

    RIM did what many companies do when they lose business to formidable competition. They started to “badmouth” their competitors by calling them amateurs at the same time they copied the virtual keyboard and touch screen design of their products. In fact, when RIM introduced its Playbook tablet computer to compete with the iPad, it used the headline “Amateur Hour is Over.” The problem is that RIM shot itself in the foot with numerous journalists calling RIM an amateur. More importantly, the companies they were disparaging in their advertising — Apple and Google — became the most valuable tech brands in the world.

    Years of floundering and mounting losses

    The combination of disparaging competitors while emulating their designs and chasing after their consumer audiences backfired and started a downhill slide that saw the firing of the business founders and co-CEOs as well as considerable corporate instability and mounting loses.

    Loss of brand identity

    To make matters worse, RIM changed its corporate brand to Blackberry — the name of its formerly popular smartphone product line. This was a huge mistake that showed its underlying weaknesses in marketing. The name RIM was firmly established, and gave the company a flexible platform on which it could build other product lines. By changing the name to Blackberry, any negatives associated with the Blackberry product line or operating system would likely spillover to all other products and harm them too. That is what happened.

    The advantage of company and product brand separation

    Marketing-savvy companies use their company brand judiciously. It is the reason why the Coca-Cola Company called its original diet cola product — TAB, with no reference to Coca Cola in the name. TAB was a risky product because it used saccharin (the only artificial sweetener at the time), which left a funny after-taste in numerous taste tests. For similar reasons, Toyota called its luxury brand Lexus. In their market testing, they discovered that baby boomers (the key target audience at the time) remembered early Toyotas as small and ugly — images that were incompatible with a luxury brand. It is also why Clorox does not put its name on its Hidden Valley brand of salad dressing.

    What is encouraging about Blackberry now

    Blackberry’s new CEO, John Chan, is making moves that show he has a marketing brain. He has done research and discovered that the company’s key target audience is the enterprise market — comprised of business and government users and those that want keys on their smartphones. To satisfy the needs of this market, he has introduced the Blackberry Classic, which offers a QWERTY keyboard with real keys, better security, faster email, greater speed and longer battery life. What a novel concept. Be market driven, identify the audience that prefers your products over competitors, find out why, and give that audience what they want. When everyone else is “zigging,” or chasing after the consumer market, Mr. Chan has correctly surmised that it is perhaps a good idea to “zag” and target the enterprise market of businesses and governments. Also, what is great about Mr. Chan. He has given the financial markets a realistic view of where the company stands today. His predecessors seemed to brag and boast that they were going to take down competitors.

    The outcome is already good

    What is the result so far? Since he has taken over, Blackberry’s stock has risen 28 percent. Assuming there are no major hiccups and based on what I have seen so far, I think that Blackberry is moving in the right direction for the first time in many years. Finding out what the target audience wants (that it is not getting from competitors) and giving it to them is the right, market-driven approach. I wish Mr. Chan and Blackberry the best of luck.

  • Cyberwar or Cybervandalism?

    The whole story would likely be rejected as a Hollywood plot, on the grounds that nobody would believe it could ever happen, even as comedy or farce. A dictator is insulted by an upcoming movie — a comedy about his own assassination — and he unleashes his hackers on the studio to take revenge, by posting their embarrassing emails and then prevents the movie’s release by making ludicrous threats to theaters? Preposterous!

    Nevertheless, here we are, pondering how to react. The United States government will likely take some sort of revenge of our own, and we may in fact already be doing so. As I write this, there are stories circulating that North Korea’s internet (such as it is) is going haywire. What an odd coincidence, eh?

    President Obama, in his year-end press conference, called North Korea’s actions “cybervandalism.” This outraged John McCain, who called the North Korean Sony hack an “act of war.” Others have called it an act of “cyberterrorism.” While on one level it doesn’t make a dime’s worth of difference what politicians call it, the interesting thing is how nebulous these terms are, mostly due to their newness.

    The basic concept has been around for a while, though. Ever since modern life (including the military) became reliant upon computers, people (Hollywood included) have pondered doomsday scenarios, from War Games to The Terminator (Skynet) to The Matrix. Two of those movies came out in the 1980s — Hollywood’s been having fun with this theme for a while, now. But nobody’s ever really accurately defined what does and what does not constitute an act of war delivered through computer networks.

    Does hacking into a private entertainment corporation’s computer files constitute an act of war? Against whom, exactly? Japan, or the United States (remember: we are talking about Sony)? The very idea seems kind of silly. Or maybe not. Replace “entertainment” in that first question with “nuclear power” and it starts seeming a whole lot less silly and a whole lot more warlike. The nuclear power industry is run by private energy corporations, after all. The fallout from an attack on a private corporation could change from “being forced not to release a movie” to “actual, literal nuclear fallout” — a much different level of societal danger.

    An attack on America’s power grid delivered through computer networks — even without bringing nuclear power plants into it — would likely be seen as an act of war by most Americans. If a blackout suddenly struck the East Coast at rush hour, many lives would be endangered and doubtlessly some deaths would occur as a direct result (just picture all those intersections without stoplights, for starters). If this were traced to a foreign malicious actor, my guess is that John McCain wouldn’t be the only one talking about cyberwar. If it involved screwing up the controls of a nuclear power plant that resulted, somehow, in a meltdown or release of radioactive material, there would be few who wouldn’t label it an act of war.

    President Obama chided Sony for not releasing the movie anyway. It was fairly safe for him to do so, since the actual risk of a North Korean terrorist attack in U.S. theaters is fairly low. But what if the bad actors involved in this story had been Islamic terrorists? Would it have been so easy a call in that case? Many agreed with Obama in denouncing Sony’s cowardly behavior, but a few years back, very few American newspapers printed the cartoons mocking Islam that caused such a furor from Denmark. In that instance, seeing what the reaction had been, almost no American publication stood in solidarity for the rights of free speech and the right to publish material which offends religious sensibilities. So while it’s easy to denounce Sony today, when circumstances were a little different, fear ruled the editorial and corporate decisions. Sony gave in to terrorists out of their own fear, but when the fear was a lot more realistic and plausible, the American press — en masse — also gave in to fear of terrorism.

    The Sony hack itself was not an act of war or terrorism. Neither was leaking embarrassing emails a terrorist act. The threats against the theaters were unequivocally terrorism, however. Threatening a civilian population to achieve military or political ends is one workable definition of what constitutes terrorism, and threatening violence on the opening day of a movie certainly seems to fit the bill.

    But what if there had been no violence threatened at the theaters? When you separate out that part of what happened, you are left with an attack against a corporation. This attack wasn’t carried out for industrial espionage reasons — a whole category of computer mischief that most big companies have to protect themselves against. North Korea wasn’t trying to copy or profit off the files they stole, to put it another way. They were trying to inflict damage on Sony in order to pressure them to kill a particular movie. Some might describe that as corporate terrorism (terrorism against a corporation instead of a nation, in other words), but it doesn’t really fit the classic definitions of either terrorism or warfare. Again, this is an entertainment company and the email leaks were designed to embarrass them. Which succeeded, in fact. It might be seen differently if the company involved was building warplanes, or ships for the Navy. Or maintaining the electrical grid.

    What I wonder, in all the debate, is how America would react if a foreign actor decided to introduce havoc into our production of nuclear weapons. My guess is that we wouldn’t be dithering over which term to use if that ever happened — if a virus were introduced which screwed up our uranium processing plants, for instance. The only debate, then, might be between calling it “cyberwarfare” or just a plain-vanilla “act of war.” Either way, we would agree that we had been attacked. We would probably seek revenge or retribution for such an action. We might even march our troops off to wage war against such a foreign country.

    I bring all this up because there is one word that has been noticeably missing from this entire debate. The word is “Stuxnet,” and it is the name of a computer virus. In secret — with no public debate or discussion in Congress — America (and possibly Israel) may have developed this virus for a very specific reason, and then unleashed it on the internet to do its damage. The virus attacked one country in particular, and it targeted the machinery for refining uranium. The country was Iran.

    Are we at war with Iran? No, not really. We certainly haven’t declared war or anything, and we have no “police action” or other warlike euphemism going on at the moment. And yet, if it is true that America had a part in creating Stuxnet (our involvement has never been officially confirmed, I should point out in all fairness), then we did all we could to destroy their centrifuges. If the same thing had happened to us, we would definitely call it an act of war. We might even go to war against the country that launched such an attack.

    Defining new terms like cyberwarfare isn’t really the only issue at hand. America, once again, can really only hypocritically take the moral high road on cyberwar. Sure, we all like to get indignant over North Korea deciding what movies we are able to watch here in our free society, but we may have already done far worse to other countries. Mind you, I’m not saying that what Stuxnet did to Iran was or wasn’t the right thing to do — that’s a much larger argument than what I’m saying here. All I’m pointing out is that our hands might not be squeaky clean when it comes to cyberwar. The media and the politicians really don’t want to bring Stuxnet up in the midst of all our high dudgeon on North Korea, but just because we don’t want to talk about it doesn’t make it go away: we may have already done worse things than stop a foreign movie’s release. We’ll probably do so again in the future, if we think it’ll be effective.

    No matter what you call it — cyberwar, cyberterrorism or cybervandalism — it’s not going to go away any time soon. It’s a reality of modern computerized life. We should all get used to the whole range of such attacks, because from multinational corporations to national armies to extortionists to greedy thieves, this mischievous genie is never going back into the bottle. Our enemies will continue to use it, and so will we, when we think it’s worth the risk.

     

    Chris Weigant blogs at:
    ChrisWeigant.com

    Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant
    Become a fan of Chris on The Huffington Post

     

  • The agents fighting online jihadists
    The agents fighting online jihadists
  • No More Scrolling, Facebook Search to the Rescue
    Your neighbors are throwing their annual over-the-top New Year’s Eve party and you want to wow everyone with an award-winning sweet potato soufflé pie recipe you remember reading last year on Facebook.

    But you can’t remember who posted it and if the recipe called for ground ginger or fresh ginger.

    Up until this past week, the ability to search for Facebook information that one of your friends posted was impossible, and the only way to find it required knowing the person who wrote it and scrolling through all of their posts; a very time consuming task.

    Now those in the United States using Facebook on a desktop, or with the iPhone app, can find anything that has been shared with them. Other countries should have the option in a few months. Just type what you remember from the post you want to find and Facebook will give you back several results by posts, people, photos, pages, places, groups and even events.

    2014-12-21-fbsearchpie.jpg

    So search for those award-winning recipes or that cool gadget a friend mentioned that you think your spouse would like. Your scrolling days are over.

    Facebook Privacy

    This is a good time to check your privacy settings and read my article from last year “How to Prevent Facebook’s Graph Search From Costing You Your Job.”

    The same way that you will be able to find posts and photos that have been shared with you, your friends will be able to find your content, even your old embarrassing photos.

    If you need to review the privacy settings of your content, go to your Facebook profile, select the “activity log,” then click on “your posts” and you will see who has access to your posts. If you need to make changes, open the post menu, the small “v” on the right hand side, select “edit privacy” and select one of the three options: public, friends or more options.

    2014-12-21-fbactivitylog.jpg The more options menu is where you will be able to share a photo to a smaller group of friends, if you have them as a list. In my case, all of my content is public, but I have a list of friends from college. If I only want to share a photo with them, under more options I can select that list and only those friend will be able to see it, or find it later with the new Facebook Search.

    As you create content, add proper descriptions to help your friends and family understand your content now. This content optimization will also help them if they use Facebook Search in the future.

    Don’t just add a photo and say, “This is an amazing park.” A better description would be “Great snorkeling at Biscayne Bay National Park. The park has one of the largest #coral reefs in the world.” If you use hashtags, all users, even those that are not your friends will be able to find your content.

    As far as the sweet potato soufflé pie recipe I was searching for, I need 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and one 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced. Thanks Facebook Search!

    Your Turn

    Are you optimizing your content to take advantage of Facebook Search? How about the content for your business page? While I was searching for the sweet potato soufflé pie, I also found posts from a local TV station and a restaurant that mentioned what I was searching for. Increase the users that can find you by making your content public and use the keywords people search for. Do you have shareable content on your personal page and your business page that match what users are searching for? Add your comments below.

    Julio Fernandez is Vice President of Search Marketing & Analytics for SocialShelfspace.com, a marketing agency that combines search engine optimization with influencer outreach to deliver measurable effects. His previous posts covered Google’s Knowledge Graph as well as Facebook graph Search and privacy issues. When not working on a search optimization project, Julio is looking for new recipes to try, and uploading food photos to Facebook.

  • E-readers 'damage sleep and health'
    If you curl up under the duvet with an e-book for a bedtime read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health, US doctors have warned.
  • How GPS delivery is changing shopping
    GPS brings the world to your front door
  • Time for Net Neutrality Opponents to Reconsider Their Position
    For years, major Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have told the FCC and Congress that adopting strong Net Neutrality rules would harm investment and prevent companies from building out their broadband networks.

    This is the central argument ISPs have made to prevent the FCC from adopting real open Internet protections.

    And some legacy civil rights groups have echoed this claim, insisting that Net Neutrality would harm communities of color by deterring investment and widening the digital divide.

    But over the past few weeks, this argument has been exposed as nothing more than a ruse meant to deceive lawmakers, regulators and the public.

    Earlier this month, Verizon’s chief financial officer admitted at an investors’ conference that strong Net Neutrality rules treating ISPs as common carriers would not hurt investment:

    “I mean to be real clear, I mean this does not influence the way we invest. I mean we’re going to continue to invest in our networks and our platforms, both in Wireless and Wireline FiOS and where we need to. So nothing will influence that. I mean if you think about it, look, I mean we were born out of a highly regulated company, so we know how this operates.”

    This is a far different story than the one Verizon and the other ISPs have been telling in Washington. But the company was forced to tell the truth at this conference because it’s unlawful to deceive investors.

    And Verizon wasn’t alone. CEOs and financial heads of Charter, Comcast and Time Warner Cable also said during the same conference that strong Net Neutrality rules would not discourage investment.

    It might be surprising to hear these company leaders speak the truth, but we’ve known for some time now that the ISP investment argument was a lie. Indeed, groups like Free Press have been explaining this reality for years, noting that regulation is not a key driver of investment decisions.

    The acknowledgment from the ISPs’ own top executives comes at a critical moment in the Net Neutrality debate, since the FCC is expected to decide soon whether to adopt real open Internet rules — or to allow ISPs to discriminate online.

    And companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have spent millions lobbying Congress and the FCC over the past year to prevent the Commission from reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers — which is the only way to protect the Internet.

    For too long it appeared that the industry’s false claims on investment were taking root. After the FCC’s rules were struck down last January, Chairman Tom Wheeler subsequently proposed rules that would allow ISPs to create slow lanes online for those that couldn’t afford to pay new tolls.

    But Wheeler had to reassess his plan after a record number of people and dozens of members of Congress protested this approach. In November, President Obama called on the FCC to pass the strongest Net Neutrality rules possible. That meant, Obama said, treating ISPs as common carriers to prevent online discrimination.

    Unfortunately, this public outcry hasn’t stopped the companies and their allies from continuing to push their dishonest investment argument in their effort to kill the open Internet.

    Industry front groups like the Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership continue to recite the industry’s deceptive talking points on this topic.

    And the industry may also continue to draw support from legacy civil rights groups, even though parroting the ISPs’ false claims runs counter to what the ISP execs revealed to their own shareholders.

    Many are surprised to learn that legacy groups like the NAACP and LULAC that oppose strong and enforceable Net Neutrality rules also enjoy a close relationship with the major phone and cable companies.

    A new report from the Center for Public Integrity, for example, found that the National Urban League, which opposes real Net Neutrality, has received significant financial donations from industry players like Comcast.

    The Comcast Foundation awarded nearly $2 million to the Urban League and its affiliates in 2012-2013. The Verizon Foundation gave $590,000 during the same period. Meanwhile, David Cohen, Comcast’s powerful executive vice president (and head of its foundation), sits on the Urban League’s board of trustees, as do representatives from AT&T and Verizon.

    Given that the ISP execs have now debunked their own investment argument, will groups like the Urban League reconsider their position on Net Neutrality?

    Or will they oppose President Obama’s call for strong rules?

    Will they change their position considering how the open Internet has facilitated greater political activism and consciousness, especially among younger members of our community?

    This activism has demonstrated that protecting the open Internet is a critical racial justice and human rights issue. The Internet has allowed Black and Latino activists to mobilize against unjust criminal justice and immigration policies.

    This activism led Obama to grant millions of undocumented immigrants relief from deportation. And the open Internet has also enabled people to organize massive demonstrations against the police killings of unarmed black men and youth.

    So as we enter 2015, perhaps it’s time for the civil rights groups that have aligned themselves with AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to make a New Year’s resolution and stop using industry talking points that have been discredited.

    Instead, we hope such groups will join the growing number of racial justice leaders who are fighting to ensure our voices will always be heard online — and never silenced.

  • Marissa Mayer 'Balked' At Hiring Gwyneth Paltrow Reportedly Because She's Not A College Grad
    Gwyneth Paltrow has won an Academy Award. She’s launched her own lifestyle brand, starred in dozens of movies and is worth tens of millions of dollars. But all that didn’t qualify her for a job at Yahoo.

    According to Sunday’s cover story in the New York Times Magazine, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer didn’t want to hire the popular actress to be a contributing editor at Yahoo Food — at least in part because she never graduated from college.

    “Even though the actress Gwyneth Paltrow had created a best-selling cookbook and popular lifestyle blog, Mayer, who habitually asked deputies where they attended college, balked at hiring her as a contributing editor for Yahoo Food,” the article reads. “According to one executive, Mayer disapproved of the fact that Paltrow did not graduate college.”

    Mayer, who earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Stanford, took over Yahoo two years ago. Since then she has struggled to remake the company into the successful tech giant it once was, and some have been critical of her management style.

    Paltrow reportedly dropped out of the University of California, Santa Barbara, to pursue an acting career.

    A spokesperson for Yahoo declined to comment. Representatives for Paltrow did not respond to The Huffington Post’s requests for comment.

    Of course, a college degree can be quite helpful in landing a job, and college graduates tend to earn a lot more than their peers without a degree. But there are some very successful people without that credential. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard.

    Still, we could see why Mayer might hold a grudge in this area. Just look at Tumblr’s CEO David Karp, who never even enrolled in college. Mayer bought Karp’s blogging platform in 2013 for $1.1 billion, and the deal hasn’t paid off yet in terms of increasing Yahoo’s revenue.

  • China Obliged by Its 'Internet Sovereignty' Policy to Aid U.S. Against North Korea
    Last week in The WorldPost we published a piece by China’s Internet czar, Lu Wei, who argued for “cyber sovereignty,” or “Internet sovereignty.”

    According to this view that China is robustly promoting worldwide, the Internet should operate under the laws and rules of the given nation-state across whose territory information is transmitted.

    Lu also wrote that “It is the essence of the development of the Internet that the Internet should bring peace and security to humans [and] should deny access to criminals and terrorists.”

    Internet sovereignty works both ways: If China wants its rules respected in cyberspace, it also has to respect the rules of the U.S. and other nation-states which, like China, outlaw criminal use of the Internet and threats of 9/11-type terror — such as those North Korean-sponsored hackers aimed against Sony and any Americans who might have summoned the courage to go to the cinema to watch “The Interview,” which lampoons North Korea’s leader.

    Citing American intelligence sources, the New York Times reported on Sunday that the Sony hacking attacks were “routed through China” and thus any counterattack on North Korea “would impinge on Chinese sovereignty.”

    By the logic of Lu Wei, and by his declaration against the use of Internet for criminal activity and terrorist threats, China is thus obliged to aid the U.S. in denying North Korea access to the means of launching the kind of attacks it has on Sony and America’s moviegoing audiences.

    The case for action by China is even stronger if a report in The Daily Beast by Michael Daly is proven true. Daly claims that North Korean hackers are housed at places such as the Chilbosan Hotel in Shenyang, which is jointly owned by China and North Korea.

    I know from many personal conversations with Chinese strategists that they are fed up with North Korea, a sentiment echoed earlier this month by Lt. General Wang Hongguang, who wrote in the official Global Times that “China has cleaned up the D.P.R.K.’s [North Korea's] mess too many times. But it doesn’t have to do that in the future.” Expressing a view I’ve often heard expressed in Beijing about North Korea, he also said “If an administration isn’t supported by the people, ‘collapse’ is just a matter of time.” And, he added, China is not anyone’s savior if they are bound to collapse.

    China’s leaders need to look hard at the “Chinese Dream” they are trying to realize for their country and decide if that dream rests more on cooperation at this defining moment with the world’s other largest economy, the United States, or on an absurd and outdated allegiance to the bizarre and historically obsolete feudal regime of the Kim family in Pyongyang.

    A new rules-based order for the 21st century — in which China is a leading partner — will not be conjured up in some academic seminar room at the Central Party School in Beijing or at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. It will be forged by necessity in decisive moments for China’s leaders like this one.

  • Remote Desktop App for Windows Phone Updated

    Microsoft has released an update to their Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone.  The update, version 8.1.7 for those keeping score, brings the normal bug fixes but also brings a new feature that heavy users will find a big benefit.  Now you can pin apps to the Start screen on your Windows Phone. In addition to this, automatic refresh of Azure RemoteApp has been added to this update for those who use that service. The app is free and available now in the Windows Phone Store Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone – Free – Download Now

    The post Remote Desktop App for Windows Phone Updated appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Apple Makes $3B By Selling iPhones With Barebones Storage: Report
    As you’ve likely realized by now, Apple’s good at getting your money. One surprising way the company has been doing that is by shortchanging you on storage.

    If you buy the cheapest iPhone, the 16GB model, you’re asking for trouble down the line: slowdown, prompts to purchase cloud storage, and just not enough room for your apps and multimedia. Next time, you’ll learn your lesson and you’ll buy a more expensive iPhone with better storage. That’s where Apple gets you.

    A new report published Thursday on Above Avalon, an Apple analysis blog, says the company will enjoy $3 billion in profit in 2015 because of its smallest model, which has been referred to as “handicapped” and “terrible.”

    If Apple offered consumers more storage — 32GB versus 16GB — as the cheapest option, the company potentially would take a $3 billion hit, according to author Neil Cybart’s estimates.

    “If Apple keeps doubling the lower tier, the lower model, at a certain point, most people are just going to buy that model,” Cybart told The Huffington Post in a phone interview. “For most people, that’s enough. The average selling price of the phone starts to decline. For Apple, that’s a longer-term concern.”

    Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

    Apple doubled the storage for the more expensive iPhones when it launched the iPhone 6 this year: the middle tier went from 32GB to 64GB and the top tier went from 64GB to 128GB. But it maintained the small 16GB storage at the entry level. The report suggests that the entire reason Apple produces the 16GB phone is to “get people to buy the 64GB option” the next time around. Once consumers are at the more expensive 64GB option, they usually become dependent on that storage level and stay there when they upgrade in the future.

    Sixteen GB just isn’t enough for most people. The 16GB iPhone has been slammed for barely offering enough storage to comfortably run iOS 8, Apple’s latest mobile operating system, let alone whatever else you put on the device — photos and video, for example.

    It’s no big secret that iPhone users love to upgrade models, which Apple banks on. If Apple expands the storage on the entry model, it risks giving consumers little incentive to move beyond the cheapest option in the future. Or worse, according to Cybart’s report, consumers would downgrade to the cheaper options when they upgrade models.

    Down the line, that could impact the “average selling price” of the popular smartphone. As Chuck Jones, an industry analyst, explained on Forbes, Apple made money with its iPhone 6 launch in part because of the demand for greater memory. The 64GB iPhone 6 is $100 more than the 16GB, but Cybart told HuffPost it only costs about $15 more to produce — and that means profit.

  • Hands On: Calista (iOS)
    Everyone’s familiar with current trends in photos that keep popping up across the Internet. One part indie-rock and one part Photoshop, their soft colors and multiple filters have become the new cool thing. Originally these images took time, effort, and at least a basic understanding of Photoshop. Now, however, something like Calista by ThinkSuit gives users the ability to make these straight from the comfort of a handheld device.



  • As North Korea Loses Internet, Anonymous, Others Question Whether It Really Hacked Sony
    WASHINGTON — North Korea’s Internet service went down in a suspected cyberattack Monday, just days after the U.S. government blamed the country for hacking Sony Pictures Entertainment and the White House said it was considering a “proportional response” to the crime.

    Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at the U.S.-based Internet performance company Dyn, which first detected North Korea’s Internet problems, told HuffPost Monday that the explanation could be benign. But, he added, “another explanation is that [North Korea is] experiencing a DDOS attack” — that is, a distributed denial-of-service attack, a common type of hack.

    “This does not look like anything that we’ve seen before,” said Madory.

    Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, wouldn’t respond to questions about U.S. culpability Monday. Instead, she referred HuffPost “to the North Koreans for questions about their systems.”

    The allegations of attacks and counterattacks, the non-denials and the unanswered questions add yet more chapters to an international drama that has engulfed a movie studio, derailed a Christmas-season blockbuster and pitted a totalitarian regime against the U.S. government. And no one seems to be exactly sure what is happening, or why.

    On Friday, the FBI released a statement blaming the North Korean government for the massive cyberattack against Sony last month. President Barack Obama also said over the weekend that he was considering re-adding North Korea to the United States’ terrorist watch list.

    But North Korea has continued to deny that it’s behind the Sony breach, and the group that has claimed responsibility — the hacking collective Guardians of Peace — is mocking the FBI online, according to The Daily Beast. Some security researchers, as well as members of the hacktivist group Anonymous, are questioning whether there is enough evidence to blame North Korea at all.

    “I have yet to see evidence of North Korea behind this,” Kyle Wilhoit, a senior threat researcher at Trend Micro, a Japanese security firm, told HuffPost on Monday. Wilhoit argued that just because the FBI sees similarities between the code used in the Sony hack and other North Korean malware doesn’t mean it was the same attacker.

    “The language of the binary (Korean) is a bad way to attribute anything,” he said in an email, adding, “I know the US likely has far more data they can’t share, but until I see some proof, I’m skeptical.”

    Marc Rogers, head of security for the recurring hacking conference Def Con, argued in a blog post Sunday that the FBI’s claim that certain Internet protocol (IP) addresses point to North Korea “is perhaps the least convincing of all.” IP addresses, Rogers noted, “are often quite nebulous things.”

    Meanwhile, Kim Zetter wrote in Wired that nation-state attackers “generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security” or post “stolen data to Pastebin,” as occurred in the Sony hack. “These are all hallmarks of hacktivists — groups like Anonymous and LulzSec,” Zetter wrote.

    A hacktivist associated with Anonymous told The Huffington Post that “Anonymous doubts that [North Korea] did that Sony Attack.” As to who might be behind it, the hacktivist suggested “a troll or the U.S. government. Some people just want to see the world burn :P ” (Here’s the reference, for those unfamiliar.)

    Another hacktivist associated with Anonymous, who goes by the Twitter handle @AnonyOps, told HuffPost that “unless these ‘unnamed US officials’ go on record and present the evidence, I’m suspicious.” AnonyOps added, “When it comes to malware, because so many nation states are some of the most prolific developers of it, I’ll wait until the proof is public.”

    But other cybersecurity experts who are closely following the hack say the FBI’s North Korea claim may indeed have merit.

    Dmitri Alperovitch, the co-founder and CTO of CrowdStrike, which conducts data breach investigations, said that independent of the FBI, “we have a high degree of confidence ourselves” that North Korea was behind the attack. (He said he “can’t discuss” whether his company is investigating the data breach with Sony.)

    Alperovitch believes the hack is the work of “Silent Chollima” — the name CrowdStrike has given to a group of North Korean hackers who have been active since at least 2006. Silent Chollima launched a major attack in 2009 against dozens of websites in the United States and South Korea. Alperovitch acknowledged that Silent Chollima hasn’t posted stolen materials on Pastebin before, as has happened with the Sony data, but said that “when you have a trail of breadcrumbs a mile long that’s all pointing the same direction and you’ve got a motive with the movie, it’s pretty clear that this is the same actor.”

    In June, North Korea threatened to retaliate against the United States unless it agreed to not release “The Interview,” a comedy directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony had scheduled “The Interview” for a Christmas release date, although it’s now not clear when or in what form the movie might see the light of day.

    Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton told NPR’s “All Things Considered” on Friday that he has hired Mandiant, a FireEye company, to do forensics on the hack. Richard Bejtlich, chief security strategist for FireEye and a former Air Force intelligence officer, said he is not allowed to comment on clients.

    “I understand why some people” have doubts about attributing the Sony hack to North Korea, said Bejtlich. But he added that “they are holding investigators to a standard that likely exceeds those found in courts of law.”

    All of which brings us to Monday, when North Korea’s Internet began suffering widespread outages. The White House had, in the days proceeding, ruled out what one Defense official described to The New York Times as a “demonstration strike” in retaliation. During a Monday briefing, Marie Harf, a spokeswoman for the State Department, called on the North Korean government to “admit the culpability and compensate Sony” for the financial damage the hacks have caused.

    But Harf also offered an interesting choice of words when discussing the administration’s possible response to the responsible parties.

    “As the president said, we are considering a range of options in response,” she said. “We aren’t going to discuss, publicly, operational details about the possible response options — or comment on those types of reports in any way — except to say that as we implement those responses, some will be seen, some may not be seen.”

  • Teen's Solution To Avoiding Awkward Questions During The Holidays Is Genius
    “So… do you have a boyfriend?”

    When you’re feasting at home during the holidays, cringe-inducing questions from your relatives are not only annoying, they can sometimes be downright invasive.

    Lucky for you, Arianna Simon, a 17-year-old from Rockland, N.Y., created a brilliant solution for navigating these family events, while completely maintaining your sanity.

    “I was talking to my mom about how much I hate answering the same five questions over and over during the holidays, so she hinted that I just make a handout for my family,” the teen explained in an email to The Huffington Post. “She was beyond shocked when I actually followed through with her idea.”

    Lo and behold, this pamphlet was born before Thanksgiving dinner:

    arianna simon

    “When I handed them out on Thanksgiving, it was more of a gag joke than anything else. Everyone thought the idea was great and took it well,” said Arianna. “I was surprised though, because I didn’t have anything to talk about with some family members! Overall, I think the pamphlet was a hit and I loved not talking about the same things.”

    So this holiday season, take a pointer from this teen by making your own handout and distributing as you see fit. And on behalf of holiday dinner-eaters everywhere, we salute you, Arianna.

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

  • Lonely Dwarf Galaxy Spotted 7 Million Light-Years From The Milky Way
    The Milky Way’s neighborhood is a bit more crowded than we thought.

    Using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a Russian-American team of astronomers has discovered an isolated dwarf galaxy about 7 million light-years away from our galaxy.

    Dubbed KKs3, the “dwarf spheroidal” galaxy is located in the southern sky in the direction of the constellation Hydrus. It’s the most recently discovered member of the so-called Local Group of galaxies, which includes the Milky Way as well as the Andromeda Galaxy and dozens of other galaxies.

    (Story continues below image.)
    galaxy
    A negative image of KKs 3 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The core of the galaxy is the right-hand dark object at top center, with its stars spreading out around it. (The left-hand of the two dark objects is a nearer globular star cluster.)

    As galaxies go, KKs3 is pretty small. It’s total mass is about one ten-thousandth the mass of the Milky Way, according to the astronomers. And it’s only the second isolated dwarf spheroidal galaxy ever observed in the Local Group. (The first, known as KKR25, was discovered by the same astronomers in 1999.)

    Finding objects like KKs3 is painstaking work, even with observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope,” Prof. Dimitry Makarov, of the Special Astrophysical Observatory in Karachai-Cherkessia, Russia, and one of the members of the team, said in a written statement. “But with persistence, we’re slowly building up a map of our local neighborhood, which turns out to be less empty than we thought. It may be that are a huge number of dwarf spheroidal galaxies out there, something that would have profound consequences for our ideas about the evolution of the cosmos.”

    The discovery was described in Monthly Notices of The Royal Astronomical Society.

  • North Korea's Internet Appears To Be Under Mass Cyber Attack
    Internet connectivity between North Korea and the outside world, though never robust to begin with, is currently suffering one of its worst outages in recent memory, suggesting that the country may be enduring a mass cyber attack a few days after President Obama warned the US would launch a “proportional response” to North Korea’s hack against Sony.
  • This 'Drinking Jacket' Will Open, Hold And Chill Your Beer
    Need a last minute gift this holiday season? Self-proclaimed professional drinker Zane Lamprey has you covered with The Drinking Jacket, just the latest Kickstarter built around a high-tech product meant to help you drink better.

    The Drinking Jacket not only keeps you warm while consuming beverages but it boasts a bunch of accessories to tend to your drinking needs. The jacket features a sunglasses holder and a neoprene-lined “beer koozie” breast pocket:

    drinking jacket pocket

    A bottle opener zipper

    drinking jacket opener

    Slip-resistant drinking mitts

    drinking jacket gloves

    An inside pocket that can easily hide a flask and an outside money pocket.

    drinking jacket hidden

    As Lamprey explains in the campaign’s video (above), the product allows you to keep your drink cold, your body warm and leaves your hands free to do other things. What started as a simple idea to add a bottle opener to a hoodie eventually became the ultimate drinking jacket, Lamprey told The Huffington Post in a phone interview Monday morning.

    It’s the perfect tailgating accessory, and it’s surprisingly not hideous. He’s offering the product in gray, maroon, black and blue.

    “I went on CNBC wearing it, and they didn’t realize it,” Lamprey said.

    Lamprey admitted that he’s been wearing the prototype he created 40 days ago nearly every day.

    Lamprey is the host of National Geographic’s “Chug” — where he travels the world exploring different drinking cultures. It airs Monday nights.

    This isn’t Lamprey’s first crowdfunding campaign. He funded his television series through Kickstarter. He’s also designed many other drinking-related products, including coolers, games and T-shirts.

    So far, the jacket has raised nearly $500,000, far exceeding its initial goal of $50,000. You can pledge $85 on Kickstarter to receive your own jacket or $500 to party with Lamprey in Los Angeles or New York City. The product won’t start shipping until March 2015, but he’s created video e-cards you can send as gift IOUs for the holidays. The campaign closes Dec. 22.

    [H/T Mashable]

Mobile Technology News, December 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.

  • South Korea Nuclear Plant Operator's Computers Hacked, But Officials Say No Risk To Safety Of Reactors
    SEOUL (Reuters) – Computer systems at South Korea’s nuclear plant operator have been hacked, but only non-critical data has been lost and there is no risk to the safety of nuclear installations including the country’s 23 atomic reactors, the company and the government said on Monday.
    The attacks come amid concerns that North Korea may mount cyberattacks against industrial and social targets after accusations by the United States that Pyongyang was responsible for a devastating hacking assault on Sony Pictures.
    South Korea is still technically at war with the North.
    South Korea’s energy ministry said it was confident that its nuclear plants could block any infiltration by cyber attackers that could compromise the safety of the reactors.
    “It’s our judgment that the control system itself is designed in such a way and there is no risk whatsoever,” Chung Yang-ho, deputy energy minister, told Reuters by phone.
    An official at Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP), the nuclear plant operator that is part of state-run Korea Electric Power Corp, told Reuters that the hacking appeared to be the handiwork of “elements who want to cause social unrest”.
    “It is 100 percent impossible that a hacker can stop nuclear power plants by attacking them because the control monitoring system is totally independent and closed,” the official said.
    Neither Chung nor the KHNP official made any mention of North Korea.
    They also said they could not verify messages posted by a Twitter user claiming responsibility for the attacks and demanding the shutdown of three aging nuclear reactors by Thursday.
    The user who was described in the posting as chairman of an anti-nuclear group based in Hawaii said more documents from the nuclear operator will be posted if the reactors are not closed.
    Seoul prosecutors are conducting a criminal probe into the leak of data from KHNP, including blueprints of some nuclear reactors, electricity flow charges and radiation exposure estimates.
    They have traced the IP used for a blog carrying the stolen documents to an online user in a southern city who has denied knowledge about the postings and claimed his user ID has been stolen.
    (Additional reporting by Sohee Kim; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
  • VIDEO: Testing out a hoverboard
    The BBC’s Richard Taylor tests out a hoverboard that uses magnetic levitation.
  • Could North Korea Take Over the Internet?
    The cyber attacks on Sony have given rise to much commentary on the sophistication of the North Korean state’s cybersecurity program. The hermit kingdom is far from alone in its offensive and defensive cyber build up with numerous nations around the world seeking to join the list of the cyber powers. But just how much damage could North Korea do? To help answer that question, let’s go to Dr. Charlie Miller, who says that he can crash the Internet and take control of some of the most protected computer systems in the world.

    Miller, now a cybersecurity analyst at Twitter, was the first person to break into Apple’s iPhone; he discovered a software flaw that would have allowed him to take control of every iPhone on the planet. He has won the prestigious Black Hat cybersecurity competition, among numerous other awards, and worked for the NSA for five years. In 2010, while presenting at a NATO Committee of Excellence conference on cyber conflict in Tallinn, Estonia, Miller conducted a thought experiment — if he was forced to, how would he go about crashing the Internet and taking control of well-defended computer systems? In the scenario that he imagined, former North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il had kidnapped and induced him to “hack the planet” — to control as many protected systems and Internet hosts as possible so as to dominate cyberspace. Miller then cataloged all of the steps that would be required to meet this audacious and dastardly goal.

    He would need people — roughly 600 working throughout the world, and a way to communicate with them. The trick would be identifying them — a task made easier if Miller or another expert in the field was a willing co-conspirator with a North Korean intelligence agency like the Cabinet General Intelligence Bureau.

    Miller’s army would need funding and “weapons” like botnets, distributed denial of service attacks, bots, and — above all — zero-day exploits that take advantage of fundamental flaws in programs. These weapons would often use the Internet, but to complete his hack, Miller would also need to compromise hard, protected targets that are often “air gapped,” or not connected to the Internet. High-profile attacks like Stuxnet, the exfiltrated documents published by WikiLeaks, and the 2008 breach of classified U.S. government systems are examples of these types of attacks on supposedly isolated targets. Attackers look for entry points that are poorly defended with the goal of using one host to infect others on the closed network. This could be accomplished by low-tech means, such as through a simple flash drive.

    Lastly, Miller would need time. For the first three months, his cyber army would search for vulnerabilities. From three to nine months, zero-day exploits would be identified and used to take over routers. After one year, some hard, protected targets would be compromised. At eighteen months, sufficient zero-day exploits would be found and air-gapped systems compromised to begin final planning. Finally, after two years, the attack could start manifesting itself assuming that no law enforcement agency or other group identified the attackers in the meantime, which is a rather large assumption.

    The bottom line, according to Miller, is that the Internet and even air-gapped computer systems may be controlled or crashed for roughly $50 million, which is reportedly less than what North Korea spends on cybersecurity annually. Richard Clarke, among others, has warned that North Korea will not shy away from using its cyber warfare capabilities in a conflict. This danger is posed by other isolated regimes as well, and there is “anecdotal evidence that unknown parties have explored the possibility of disrupting the global network.”

    Sound ripe for a spy thriller? What is good for genre-writing enthusiasts is rarely an ideal starting point for policymakers. According to some commentators, such narratives merely serve to inflate fears and undermine constructive efforts to enhance cybersecurity, and it is true that such a scenario is highly unlikely. But there is some value to be extracted from this tale. The vulnerabilities that Miller points to are real and require our attention if we are to ensure that fiction does not become reality, and that the most recent cyber attacks on Sony are the end and not the beginning of a new era in state-sponsored cyber attacks.

    This post is an excerpt of Scott Shackelford, Managing Cyber Attacks in International Law, Business, and Relations: In Search of Cyber Peace (Cambridge University Press, 2014), available here.

  • North Korea Threatens To Attack U.S. If Obama Retaliates Over Sony Hacking
    A top North Korean defense committee threatened attacks on “the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland” if President Barack Obama retaliates over last month’s cyberattack on Sony Pictures, according to a statement posted Sunday to the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

    “The army and people of the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] are fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels,” said the statement, which was attributed to North Korea’s top policymaking institution, the National Defense Commission. The statement did not provide further details of the threatened attacks. Pyongyang has a long history of issuing ominous warnings to other nations.

    The statement said that President Obama is ‘recklessly’ spreading rumors about North Korea’s involvement in the recent cyberattack on Sony Pictures.

    North Korean officials on Friday denied having a part in the Sony hack after the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation released a statement concluding that “the North Korean government is responsible for these actions.” Obama said he was considering a proportionate response, including adding North Korea back to the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism.

    Sony canceled its Dec. 25 release of “The Interview,” a comedy directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, after hackers threatened to attack screenings of the film, prompting major theater chains to pull it. The movie concerns a fictional assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and reportedly includes a graphic depiction of Kim’s head exploding.

    In Sunday’s statement, the National Defense Commission said it had “clear evidence” that the U.S. government was involved in the making of the film, with the intention of undermining Kim’s regime. It’s not clear what evidence, if any, exists to support that claim.

    The commission praised the hackers for their “righteous action,” but added that the hackers acted independently of the regime.

    “We do not know who or where they are but we can surely say that they are supporters and sympathizers with [North Korea],” the statement read.

    Pyongyang could not resist bragging about the “tremendous losses” to Sony caused by the data breach, in which confidential Sony emails and unreleased movies were posted online. The attack is believed to be one of the most expensive corporate hacks in history.

    “One may say this is the due price incurred by wrong deed, the evil act of hurting others,” the statement said.

  • 16 Christmas Someecards That Will Have You Ho-Ho-Ho-ing With Laughter
    Is it just us, or have their been an abundance of hilarious Christmas cards floating around the Internet this year?

    From clever cards to awesome card outtakes to cards for couples that are more naughty than nice. You can find a funny card for literally anyone on your list… if you’re organized, bought the cards, found the addresses, and sent them out in the mail. Butttt, let’s be real. That’s probably not happening.

    Might as well let Someecards do the heavy lifting instead. Merry Christmas, y’all!

  • McCain Calls Sony Hack An 'Act Of War'
    WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) are at odds over whether the cyberattack on Sony Pictures, which the FBI has blamed on North Korea, should be considered an “act of war.”

    “I don’t think it was an act of war,” Obama told CNN Sunday. “I think it was an act of cybervandalism that was very costly, very expensive. We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionally.”

    But McCain, in a Sunday appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” advanced a different argument.

    “The president does not understand that this is a manifestation of a new form of warfare,” said McCain. “When you destroy economies, when you are able to impose censorship on the world and especially the United States of America, it’s more than vandalism. It’s a new form of warfare that we’re involved in, and we need to react and react vigorously.”

    McCain suggested that the U.S. should begin by reimposing sanctions against North Korea that were lifted during the George W. Bush administration.

    He also argued that the U.S. government should do more to engage people in Silicon Valley to help address cybersecurity issues.

    “It’s very hard to determine where national security ends and personal privacy begins,” said McCain. “This is a continuing debate that we have. I’ve been to more meetings on cyber than any other issue in my time in the Congress, with less accomplished than any other, and it’s time we sat down together.”

    North Korean hackers are believed to have targeted Sony Pictures over the film “The Interview,” a comedy directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg that includes a scene of Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s head exploding. “The Interview” was scheduled to premiere on Dec. 25. North Korean officials had deemed the film itself an “act of war” several months ago.

    Sony canceled the film’s release last week, citing security concerns.

  • 'SNL' Investigates The Story Of Christmas With A 'Serial' Parody
    This weekend, “Saturday Night Live” investigated the story of Christmas, “Serial” style. In a sketch parodying the mega-popular “This American Life” spin-off podcast, the show tried to figure out whether Kris Kringle’s story about delivering presents to all the world’s homes in one night could really be true. “Serial” listeners will find Cecily Strong’s impression of Sarah Koenig and Aidy Bryant’s of Cristina Gutierrez pretty spot-on, and your favorite email service even makes an appearance.

  • US mulls putting NK on terror list
    The US is considering putting North Korea back on its terrorism sponsors list, President Barack Obama says, after a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.
  • Obama: U.S. Reviewing Whether To Put North Korea Back On Terrorism Sponsor List
    HONOLULU (AP) — The United States is reviewing whether to put North Korea back onto its list of state sponsors of terrorism, President Barack Obama said as the U.S. decides how to respond to the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment that law enforcement has blamed on the communist nation.

    Obama described the hacking case as a “very costly, very expensive” example of cybervandalism, but did not call it an act of war. In trying to fashion a proportionate response, the president said the U.S. would examine the facts to determine whether North Korea should find itself back on the terrorism sponsors list.

    “We’re going to review those through a process that’s already in place,” Obama told CNN’s “State of the Union” in an interview to air Sunday. “I’ll wait to review what the findings are.”

    North Korea spent two decades on the list until the Bush administration removed it in 2008 during nuclear negotiations. Some lawmakers have called for the designation to be restored following the hack that led Sony to cancel the release of a big-budget film that North Korea found offensive.

    Only Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba remain on the list, which triggers sanctions that limit U.S. aid, defense exports and certain financial transactions.

    But adding North Korea back could be difficult. To meet the criteria, the State Department must determine that a country has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, a definition that traditionally has referred to violent, physical attacks rather than hacking.

    Obama also leveled fresh criticism against Sony over its decision to shelve “The Interview,” despite the company’s insistence that its hand was forced after movie theaters refused to show it.

    While professing sympathy for Sony’s situation, Obama suggested he might have been able to help address the problem if given the chance.

    “You know, had they talked to me directly about this decision, I might have called the movie theater chains and distributors and asked them what that story was,” Obama said.

    Sony’s CEO has disputed that the company never reached out, saying he spoke to a senior White House adviser about the situation before Sony announced the decision. White House officials said Sony did discuss cybersecurity with the federal government, but that the White House was never consulted on the decision not to distribute the film.

    “Sometimes this is a matter of setting a tone and being very clear that we’re not going to be intimidated by some, you know, cyberhackers,” Obama said. “And I expect all of us to remember that and operate on that basis going forward.”

    North Korea has denied hacking the studio, and on Saturday proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. to determine the true culprit. The White House rejected the idea and said it was confident North Korea was responsible.

    But the next decision – how to respond – is hanging over the president as he vacations with his family in Hawaii.

    Obama’s options are limited. The U.S. already has trade penalties in place and there is no appetite for military action.

    Reach Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

  • Want Your Cookies To Look Really Fancy? Try This 3D Printer
    Behind on your holiday baking? Maybe a 3D printer would help.

    Natural Machines, a Barcelona-based startup, has created a 3D printer for food, called the “Foodini.” It won’t do all the work necessary to make a batch of cookies, but it at least helps with assembly, giving non-experts a way to make intricate food creations.

    Here’s how it works, with some help from a video put together by Reuters. In the video, the machine is a large prototype, but the consumer product appears to be fully enclosed and designed not unlike a microwave.

    First, start with a recipe — one of your own, or you can choose from an online database put together by the Foodini makers and in the future, other Foodini owners. The printer can help prepare pasta, pizza, quiches, cookies, brownies, chicken nuggets, burgers and really whatever you want to shove in there. Gather your ingredients, mix them up and then pack them into a capsule that will snap into the device to dispense your food.

    Put the capsule in the Foodini.

    Use a touchscreen to tell the machine what you want to make, and it will dispense your batch accordingly — in a few minutes you can have the base for a beautiful cookie.

    Then you can add toppings. That’s easy when its icing or sauce, but if you’re looking for something else — chopped mushrooms, say, you’ll have to do some more prep without the machine. The device doesn’t bake or cook whatever you make, but that may be an addition for the future.

    Is this even edible? This guy proved it was, after the cookie was baked separately.

    So there’d still be some work involved in making cookies and other stuff with a Foodini, but maybe not as much as there would normally be. Owning a “Foodini” is like having your own food-processing plant, except you can control what goes in and see what comes out, cofounder Lynette Kucsma wrote in a LinkedIn post.

    Kucsma told Reuters that she hopes the machine will make people buy fewer pre-processed foods.

    The company launched an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign in April 2014, failing to meet a goal to raise $100,000. But it is scheduled to make a small number of Foodinis early in 2015. The device should cost about $1,300.

  • U.S. Consulting UK, Australia, New Zealand On North Korea Hack Response
    By Julia Edwards
    Honolulu (Reuters) – The Obama administration is consulting the UK, Australia and New Zealand, among other countries in hopes of organizing an international response to the cyberattack on Sony Pictures that it has pinned on North Korea, an administration official told Reuters on Saturday.
    The U.S. is also consulting South Korea, Japan, China and Russia for help reining in North Korea.

    (Reporting by Julia Edwards)

  • Microsoft Work & Play Bundle – $149 At Microsoft Stores

    Okay, so if you follow me on Twitter then you have undoubtedly seen my posts throughout the afternoon on the Microsoft Work & Play Bundle that I picked up today at my local Microsoft store here in Dallas. Seriously peeps, the Work & Play bundle @microsoftstore is a huge deal. $149 for 12 Months @xbox Gold & Music, @skype @office365 Home — Clinton Fitch (@ClintonFitch) December 20, 2014 I appreciate that I may be beating the proverbial dead horse.  I got it… but this is a seriously good deal peeps if you use these services from Microsoft.  Even if you

    The post Microsoft Work & Play Bundle – $149 At Microsoft Stores appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • BitTorrent Urges Sony To Release 'The Interview' On Its Paid Service
    Filing-sharing giant BitTorrent is urging Sony Pictures to release “The Interview” on its new, paid service.

    The software company, synonymous with illegal music and movie pirating, had several talks this week with the embattled movie studio about debuting the canceled Seth Rogen action-comedy as a “bundle” of links to files that can be controlled and sold to users legally. Sony scrapped plans to debut the picture in theaters next week after suffering a devastating cyberattack by hackers linked to North Korea — apparently in retaliation for the film’s depiction of the fictional assassination of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

    “A group of hackers stopped an American company from releasing a commercial film — this should not stand,” Matt Mason, the chief content officer at BitTorrent, told The Huffington Post on Saturday. “This is wrong and we can help make it right.”

    BitTorrent bills its bundle service as the most lucrative means for artists and studios to distribute music, ebooks and films. It has positioned itself as an alternative to streaming services as more artists, such as Taylor Swift, abandon Spotify and Pandora in protest of the meager cut of revenues they receive. In September, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke became arguably the most famous musician to sell an album exclusively through a bundle. It was downloaded more than 1 million times.

    The only overhead for the content creator is the 10 percent cut of each purchase that BitTorrent takes and the cost of processing the payments through PayPal or a credit card company. The artist is usually left with, on average, 85 percent of the revenue, Mason said.

    That could be the file-sharing network’s best pitch.

    Sony stands to lose almost $200 million on the movie, according to Bloomberg. Canceling the film stirred public outrage, and calls for the studio to release “The Interview” online have grown louder over the past few days. Some have declared it a “civic duty” to see the film.

    During a Friday appearance on CNN, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton said no major video-on-demand distributors or e-commerce sites had offered to screen the film.

    Sony did not respond to a request for comment.

    Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon and platforms like iTunes and Google Play would undoubtedly court a similar cyberattack if they released the movie. And Sony has been reluctant to offer the film at all. The hackers, who the FBI claims are agents of Pyongyang, have threatened to release more of its trove of humiliating internal emails and documents if they reversed plans to drop “The Interview” altogether.

    BitTorrent works as a peer-to-peer file-sharing network, with about 170 million users running the software each time their computers share files. It would be nearly impossible for hackers to suppress the movie as the files bounced between viewers’ computers.

    Plus, BitTorrent is beloved by hackers. The BitTorrent protocol — a means by which computers communicate with each other — makes up nearly 3.4 percent of all bandwidth used for file-sharing worldwide, making it by far the most popular software in that category.

    “This is a way for Sony to not only deliver the film in a real way, but get out on the side of the hacker community,” Mason said. “This is an issue that’s bigger than ‘The Interview,’ bigger than the Sony hack — it’s really about free speech.”

  • Briefly: Procreate Pocket illustration app; Switcheasy's new releases
    Savage Interactive has released an iPhone version of its illustration app Procreate Pocket, a scaled-down version of its iPad app Procreate. Intended for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, Procreate Pocket is powered by a 64-bit Silica engine, offering a variety of drawing tools and 250 levels of “Undo.” Among its features, its 18 layers of Blend Modes allow for versatile composition, and 1080p video recording option can document all stages of the drawing process without interruption. Priced at $3, Procreate Pocket requires iOS 8.1 or later.



  • Google Doesn't Want To Go It Alone With Driverless Cars
    Google doesn’t want to be the next Ford.

    The Internet behemoth, bent on building the first fully-automated cars, said Friday that it plans to partner with traditional automakers when development of its self-driving technology is complete.

    “We don’t particularly want to become a car maker,” Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car project, told The Wall Street Journal. “We are talking [with] and looking for partners.”

    Auto executives in Detroit and abroad confirmed they had been approached by Google, the Journal reported.

    Google did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

    Recent advances in driverless technology have ignited competition in Silicon Valley. Google announced in April that its automated cars could successfully detect and avoid pedestrians and bicyclists. In October, Tesla Motors equipped the new D line of its Model S sedan with a limited autopilot feature. Mercedes-Benz’s latest S-Class features a “traffic jam assist” that allows the car to automatically follow the vehicle in front of it at at low speeds.

    Still, fully automated vehicles have a long drive ahead of them before they hit the market.

    Regulatory and insurance policies will have to come first. Moreover, the technology faces serious ethical questions — namely, if an accident becomes unavoidable, who should die?

    Consider this scenario, spelled out by Jason Millar in the September issue of Wired:

    You are travelling along a single-lane mountain road in an autonomous car that is fast approaching a narrow tunnel. Just before entering the tunnel a child errantly runs into the road and trips in the centre of the lane, effectively blocking the entrance to the tunnel. The car is unable to brake in time to avoid a crash. It has but two options: hit and kill the child, or swerve into the wall on either side of the tunnel, thus killing you. Now ask yourself, Who should decide whether the car goes straight or swerves? Manufacturers? Users? Legislators?

    Google is as yet unprepared to answer that question.

    “People are philosophizing about it,” Ron Medford, the director of safety on Google’s self-driving car project, told The Associated Press last month, “but the question about real-world capability and real-world events that can affect us, we really haven’t studied that issue.”

  • 'The Interview' Porn Parody Is Really Going To Upset Kim Jong-Un: Hustler Boss
    Nothing screams freedom of speech like a good ol’ American parody porn film.

    Hustler boss Larry Flynt announced that he’s producing a parody version of ‘The Interview’ as a response to the film being pulled from theaters amid threats by hackers linked to North Korea.

    Sony’s move was criticized by President Barack Obama, as well as Hollywood A-listers like George Clooney and Sean Penn.

    But Hustler Video is not backing down. The parody, which is titled “This Ain’t The Interview XXX,” will be released first quarter of 2015.

    In “The Interview,” Seth Rogen and James Franco travel to North Korea in a plot to kill leader Kim Jong-un with an exploding tank shell that blows off the dictator’s face. What raunchy surprises will the Hustler treatment of the film have in store?

    “If Kim Jong-un and his henchmen were upset before, wait till they see the movie we’re going to make,” Hustler founder and chairman Larry Flynt said, according to AVN. “I’ve spent a lifetime fighting for the First Amendment, and no foreign dictator is going to take away my right to free speech.”

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  • Microsoft Store Super Saturday Deals

    Today is Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas here in the United States and the Microsoft Store has put together a lot of great deals for you today.  I have put together a list of the deals that are running today online and at the retail stores and some of these are outstanding deals.  While you will have to pay extra at this point to get it shipped to you by Christmas, you will still be able to get a great price on some great Windows PCs, Tablets and Phones. Surface Pro 3 – Free Sleeve and $100 Gift

    The post Microsoft Store Super Saturday Deals appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Best Tweets: What Women Said On Twitter This Week
    The holiday season is officially here. Mary Charlene is definitely in the Christmas spirit, tweeting: “My ugly Christmas sweater perfectly matches my ugly personality.” Oh.. adorable.

    Twitter user Tammy is celebrating a bit differently this year, tweeting, “Tequila has never made my clothes fall off. // Challenge accepted.” Sounds like a great way to ditch that ugly sweater.

    For more great tweets from women, scroll through the list below. Then visit our Funniest Tweets From Women page for our past collections.

    My favorite Christmas carol is the one where they blame the weather for their social anxiety and just stay home.

    — (maura) (@behindyourback) December 18, 2014

    [During Interview]
    “Do you have any questions?”
    - Yeah, inTitanic why did Jack sink when he died but everyone else floated?

    — Jamie Lynn (@Jay_FrickinLynn) December 14, 2014

    “this salad is really hitting the spot”
    - no one ever

    — Carly Ledbetter (@ledbettercarly) December 15, 2014

    my ugly Christmas sweater perfectly matches my ugly personality

    — Mary Charlene (@IamEnidColeslaw) December 17, 2014

    I’m Irish on my mom’s side, narcissistic maniac on my dad’s.

    — Shalyah Evans (@ShalyahEvans) December 17, 2014

    Just got sent a bottle of red wine and a blanket at work, because apparently someone wants me to accomplish nothing today.

    — Emma Gray (@emmaladyrose) December 16, 2014

    “I had to wonder.. are our girlfriends our real soul mates, and males are just biological accidents?” – me if I was a popular dating blogger

    — Callie Beusman (@cal_beu) December 16, 2014

    Home for the Honda Days

    — shelby fero (@shelbyfero) December 16, 2014

    I am in my own clique, just me, myself, and all my other personalities

    — Feeds On Your Soul (@tiemespankme) December 17, 2014

    Hypocrites

    Because the world needs yet another derivative of assholes.

    — ALICE (@In_Twittaland) December 15, 2014

    Always hated Merry-Go-Rounds.

    I can go nowhere in my own life.
    And not get nauseous doing it.

    — Ginger (@GingerJ17) December 16, 2014

    Plug the coffee maker into an Ethernet hub to see what happens.
    Not (too) much.

    — ~Tweety~ (@XAIMMadellynne) December 15, 2014

    I’ve noticed that my last hour at work is usually spent coming up with different reasons as to why I can’t cook dinner when I get home.

    — NotTHATSheila (@peb671) December 16, 2014

    You know you’re tired when you drop something and negotiate with yourself how badly you need it…before you bend down to pick it up.

    — blondie (@Blonde4Dayz) December 16, 2014

    Who called it “twittercide” and not “doing something productive and meaningful with your life?”

    — protolalia (@protolalia) December 17, 2014

    Those stick figures on the back of cars represent what’s in there?

    *Attaches pics of dried cheese sticks, 13 random socks & biohazard sign*

    — Marl beans (@Marlebean) December 16, 2014

    The amount of times you tell yourself it doesn’t matter is directly proportional to how much it does.

    — Ann (@writerPT) December 16, 2014

    You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why. Life gets worse when you’re an adult.

    — Tweets by Dreidel (@OhNoSheTwitnt) December 17, 2014

    Tequila has never made my clothes fall off

    Challenge accepted

    — Tammy (@OkieGirl405) December 16, 2014

    “whale” is the weakest insult ever. oh, i have a giant brain and rule the sea with my majesty? what have you accomplished lately, steve?

    — Lindy West (@thelindywest) December 19, 2014

    Imagine me, sexting you.
    Nope.
    More sitting on the toilet.

    — NickyNackyNoo (@BritishNicx) October 10, 2014

    Ways to get me to fall in love with you:

    1. Be a donut.

    — The Alicianater (@leechee420) December 19, 2014

    Follow HuffPostWomen’s board Funny Tweets From Women on Pinterest.

  • Scrap Tire Playgrounds Lighten Landfills, But Raise Cancer Fears
    The fire burned for nine months, billowing toxic black smoke thousands of feet above its Appalachian valley source and across five states. It would take 20 years and $12 million to clean up the remains of the tire heap.

    At the time of the 1983 Rhinehart, Virginia, tire fire, about 90 percent of America’s discarded tires went to landfills. There, they would take up massive amounts of space, occasionally ignite, and collect water that created fertile breeding grounds for disease-transmitting mosquitoes. Today, in part because of actions sparked by the Virginia disaster and many smaller tire fires, more than 90 percent of the nation’s approximately 230 million tires scrapped each year are put to use — burned as fuel, incorporated into asphalt roads and, increasingly, shredded into components of products such as synthetic turf sports fields and children’s playgrounds.

    Industry leaders tout this as a win-win for businesses and the planet. But others say we’ve simply swapped one bad set of environmental health risks for another. And these critics highlight moves by industry and government to promote lucrative landfill diversions, such as ground-up tires — so-called crumb rubber — despite acknowledging hazards.

    Meanwhile, the old tires keep coming.

    In 2007, a committee of state, academic, industry and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representatives published action plans to “promote increased use of ground rubber made from scrap tires” in playgrounds, sports fields and colored mulch, among other products. The toxicity, volatility, leachability and flammability of the tire products were noted in the document, as was a need to “identify and mobilize champions” to “enhance market growth” in the face of these “barriers.”

    Nearly 60 million tires were ground up for reuse in 2013.

    “How do you turn a hazardous material into something you can sell the public on? I would say they’ve done an ingenious job,” said Nancy Alderman, president of the nonprofit Environment and Human Health Inc., who has advocated against the use of crumb rubber where children play.

    crumb rubber

    Crumb rubber contains carcinogens, advocates warn. (Lynne Peeples)

    “On the face of it, recycling material that is otherwise going to waste piles sounds good,” said Linda Chalker-Scott, an associate professor of urban horticulture at Washington State University Extension. In fact, she is among proponents for the use of scrap tires in energy production and rubberized asphalt.

    But as Chalker-Scott wrote in an academic fact sheet, set for publication soon, that grinding up old tires can put their toxic components — including polyaromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals and carbon black — in close contact with people, pets and the environment.

    Chalker-Scott’s expertise is in rubber mulch, a bark look-alike made from recycled tires and popular in yards and children’s playgrounds. “Some of what leaches out of the rubber as it decomposes can be pretty toxic,” she said.

    The same worries are spreading among athletes, coaches and parents. In May, a college soccer coach in Seattle sparked a national conversation with her suspicions concerning a number of current and former soccer goalkeepers who had developed rare cancers. They had all played on artificial turf fields infilled with recycled rubber tire crumbs.

    The new-generation synthetic fields began popping up in the 1990s. Nearly 10,000 of them can now be found at schools, parks and professional stadiums, each providing a home for about 40,000 scrap tires. While initially pricey, the turf generally holds up better to weather and wear than natural grass.

    Public health experts have given some credence to rising concerns over possible health risks, including cancers, although they underscore the need for more study before any definitive links can be made.

    “The research is not solid yet one way or another,” said Chalker-Scott. “But that’s the whole problem — it hasn’t really been studied.”

    Susan Buchanan, associate director of Great Lakes Center for Children’s Environmental Health and an assistant professor of public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, shared her worry about the particular vulnerability of young children exposed to the loose little black bits on fields and playgrounds. She also noted the dearth of data.

    “I think the EPA promoted this in good faith,” said Buchanan. “But they did not have adequate data on the safety of exposure in children. The data are still inadequate.”

    In the wake of the recent alarm, some schools and municipalities have canceled plans to install crumb rubber turf. Lawyers, such as Connecticut’s Ed Jazlowiecki, who called crumb rubber “the next asbestos,” are collecting names for class-action lawsuits. And citizen-advocates are pushing their local governments to change policies.

    Carolyn Dennis, a health advocate in Kentucky, is calling for her state to stop issuing grants for schools and municipalities to use crumb rubber. A Lexington news station recently told the story of one former local soccer player who has twice battled lymphoma. The athlete’s twin sister, who chose not to play competitive soccer growing up, never developed cancer.

    “Something has got to change,” said Dennis.

    Dick Brown, spokesman for the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, noted in an email to HuffPost that he is reviewing the crumb rubber issue. “The division has not asked for applications to apply for the next round of funding,” he said.

    Industry representatives emphasize that the emerging cancer stories, while tragic, remain anecdotal. They also point to research they say supports the safety of crumb rubber. Among their highlighted studies is one published by the EPA in 2009.

    An EPA spokeswoman said in an email to The Huffington Post that the agency’s research was “very limited in scope” and was “intended to determine a testing method to study tire crumb, not to determine the potential health risks.”

    “The agency believes that more testing needs to be done, but, currently, the decision to use tire crumb remains a state and local decision,” added Rachel Deitz, the EPA spokeswoman. Deitz said the EPA no longer has an initiative to reduce tires in landfills.

    Recycled tires are one of five options recommended by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as a shock-absorbing playground material “to reduce the severity of injury to children when they fall,” said Scott Wolfson, a spokesman for the commission.

    “The CPSC is always interested in new research or more data to be brought to our attention regarding any sort of risk of exposure or chronic hazard to children,” added Wolfson. “We’re trying to address an acute hazard for children but always cognizant of the role we play to try to address chronic hazards to children.”

    Some destinations for scrap tires remain less controversial, including energy production with low-emission technologies, and rubberized asphalt. From 800 to 2,000 old tires can be incorporated into one lane-mile of roadway, said Dan Zielinski, a spokesman for the Rubber Manufacturers Association. In addition to fewer tires in landfills, he added, drivers get a durable, quieter road that requires less maintenance than standard asphalt.

    Zielinski also emphasized how individuals can help reduce the number of scrap tires: “Look for a high-mileage tire, keep up with wheel alignments and rotations, and maintain proper air pressure to keep them on the road as long as possible.”

    Generating fewer scrap tires also means fewer will be exported, which remains the fate of some 250 million tons of U.S. tires every year. Some of those tires put in additional mileage abroad, but all eventually become scrapped.

    Evans Afriyie-Gyawu, environmental health and toxicology researcher at Georgia Southern University, has begun investigating a practice he has so far confirmed in at least six countries, including Ghana: The burning of scrap tires to singe meat. His preliminary data suggests the cooked meat is contaminated with toxic chemicals. But perhaps even more concerning to him are the massive plumes of toxic smoke that he has seen meat processing plant workers and children inhaling.

    “This is a huge problem,” said Afriyie-Gyawu. “It doesn’t sit well with me at all.”

Mobile Technology News, December 20, 2014

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

  • Apple Pay already accounting for one percent of all digital payments
    A study by research firm ITG suggest that Apple Pay — introduced only last month — is already accounting for one percent of all digital payments. The firm also noted that those using Apple Pay increased spending using mobile payments, and tended to use the technology frequently — resulting in a jump in sales at top merchants that accepted Apple Pay, such as Walgreens, Whole Foods and McDonald’s. Each of the three retailers grabbed double-digit shares of the Apple Pay pie.



  • Sony 'will not drop' N Korea film
    Sony Pictures says it is looking at alternative ways to release film satire The Interview, cancelled in the wake of a cyber-attack.
  • 2014 Is Ending, but This Wave of Technology Disruptions Is Just Beginning
    2014-12-20-imrs.jpeg

    The sun is setting on 2014, but we’re about to watch a new wave of technologies rise and remake the world. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

    Changes in technology are happening at a scale which was unimaginable before and will cause disruption in industry after industry. This has really begun to worry me, because we are not ready for this change and most of our leading companies won’t exist 15-20 years from now. Here are five sectors to keep an eye on:

    1. Let’s start with manufacturing.

    Robotics and 3D printing have made it cheaper to manufacture in the United States and Europe than in China. Robots such as Baxter, from Rethink Robotics, and UR10, from Universal Robots, have arms; screens which show you their emotions; and sensors that detect what is happening around them. The cost of operating these is less than the cost of human labor. We can now have robots working 24×7 and doing some of the work of humans. Over time, these robots will become ever more sophisticated and do most human jobs. The manufacturing industry is surely going to be disrupted in a very big way. This is good news for America, Europe, and parts of Asia, because it will become a local industry. But this will be bad for the Chinese economy — which is largely dependent on manufacturing jobs.

    In the next decade, robots will likely go on strike, because we won’t need them anymore. They will be replaced by 3D printers. Within 15 to 20 years, we will even be able to 3D print electronics. Imagine being able to design your own iPhone and print it at home. This is what will become possible.

    2. The reinvention of finance

    We are already witnessing a controversy over Bitcoin. Many technology and retail companies are supporting it. Crowdfunding is shaking up the venture-capital industry and making it less relevant because it provides start-ups with an alternative for raising seed capital. We will soon be able to crowdfund loans for houses, cars, and other goods. With cardless transactions for purchasing goods, we won’t need the types of physical banks and financial institutions that we presently have. Banks in the United States seem to be complacent because they have laws protecting them from competition. But our laws don’t apply in other countries. We will see innovations happening abroad which disrupt industries in the United States.

    3. Health care

    Apple recently announced Healthkit, its platform for health information. It wants to store data from the wearable sensors that will soon be monitoring our blood pressure, blood oxygenation, heart rhythms, temperature, activity levels, and other symptoms. Google, Microsoft, and Samsung will surely not be left behind and will all compete to provide the best health-data platforms. With these data, they will be able to warn us when we are about to get sick. AI-based physicians will advise us on what we need to do to get healthy.

    Medical-test data, especially in fields such as oncology, is often so complex that human doctors cannot understand it. This will become even more difficult when they have genomics data to correlate. Over the last 15 years, the cost of human genome sequencing has dropped from the billions to about a thousand dollars. At the rate at which prices are dropping, the cost of sequencing will be close to zero in a few years and we will all have our genomes sequenced. When you combine these data with the medical-sensor data that the tech companies are collecting on their cloud platforms, we will have a medical revolution. We won’t need doctors for day-to-day medical advice any more. Robotic surgeons will also do the most sophisticated surgeries. We’re going to disrupt the entire health-care system.

    4. Now take the energy industry.

    Five years ago, we were worried about America running out of oil; today we’re talking about Saudi America — because of fracking. Yes, fracking is a harmful technology; nevertheless it has allowed America to become energy independent and will soon make it an energy exporter. And then there is solar energy, which some people have become negative about. But it is a fact solar prices have dropped about 97 percent over the past 35 years, and, at the rate at which solar is advancing, by the end of this decade we will achieve grid parity across the United States. Grid parity means it’s cheaper to produce energy at home on your solar cells than to buy it from utilities. Move forward another 10 or 20 years, and it will costs a fraction as much to produce your own energy as to buy it from the grid. This means that the utility companies will be in serious trouble. This is why they are beginning to fight the introduction of solar. If solar keeps advancing in the way it is, it will eclipse the fossil-fuel industry. Solar is only one of maybe a hundred advancing technologies that could disrupt the energy industry.

    When we have unlimited energy, we can have unlimited clean water, because we can simply boil as much ocean water as we want. We can afford to grow food locally in vertical farms. This can be 100 percent organic, because we won’t need insecticides in the sealed farm buildings. Imagine also being able to 3D print meat and not having to slaughter animals. This will transform and disrupt agriculture and the entire food-production industry.

    5. Communications

    Yes, even this industry will be disrupted. Note how AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have seen their landline businesses disappear. These were replaced by mobile–which is now being replaced by data. When I travel abroad, I don’t make long-distance calls any more, because I just call over Skype. Soon we will have WiFi everywhere, thanks to the competition between companies such as AT&T and Google to provide superfast Internet access. We will be able to make free calls over open WiFi networks.

    ***

    In practically every industry that I look at, I see a major disruption happening. I know the world will be very different 15 to 20 years from now. The vast majority of companies who are presently the leaders in their industries will likely not even exist. That is because industry executives either are not aware of the changes that are coming, are reluctant to invest the type of money that is be required for them to reinvent themselves, or are protecting legacy businesses. Most are focused on short-term performance.

    New trillion-dollar industries will come out of nowhere and wipe out existing trillion-dollar industries. This is the future we’re headed into, for better or for worse.

    This column was adapted from Wadhwa’s talk on Big Think, watch it below:

  • Hacker wars in the Ukraine conflict
    Virtual battle for eastern Ukraine
  • 11 Perfect Gifts For The Instagram Addict In Your Life
    Instagram has already blessed us with five new filters and other updates this holiday season. But if you’ve got friends who just can’t get enough of the photo-sharing network (and we all do), you may need even more Instagram-themed gifts.

    And wow, there are a lot of them. People have created all sorts of ways to not only improve your Instagram photos, but to bring them out of your smartphone and into your real life. Instagram calendar, anyone? Here’s a sampling.

  • Elon Musk's Hyperloop Could Be Just 10 Years Away
    Hyperloop, the ultra-fast tube transport dreamed up by SpaceX founder and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, could be ready for passengers in as few as 10 years.

    In a 76-page report released on Dropbox on Thursday, a new startup called Hyperloop Transportation Technologies laid out plans for building Musk’s futuristic transportation system, which could cut travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco down to 35 minutes. The trip takes between three and four hours by Amtrak train, and more than six hours by car.

    The system would carry passengers in pods moving as fast as 800 miles per hour, according to the white paper. The plan laid out by Musk — who has no involvement in the project, and did not help with the paper — has broadened beyond the two California metropoles. Hyperloop Transportation has drawn up maps with lines connecting every major U.S. city.

    hyperloop

    Housed within a newly-launched crowd-funding company called JumpStartFund, the startup offered wildly varying estimates for the cost of the project — anywhere between $7 billion and $19 billion.

    Hyperloop CEO Dirk Ahlborn told The Huffington Post that the wide potential price range is due to the unpredictability of prices for materials and other expenses over the next decade. He said wealthy donors and investors are already approaching JumpStartFund, of which he is also chief executive, about pledging money.

    He admitted his 10-year timeline might be ambitious. It does not account for the political opposition and regulatory hurdles that would undoubtedly dog a new form of public transportation being built up the coastline of the country’s most populous state.

    “We’re working very close with the public and being very transparent,” said Ahlborn, a German-born entrepreneur based in Los Angeles.

    If he finds it too difficult to build the inaugural Hyperloop in California, he may choose to build it in another country.

    “For us, it’s mostly about building the Hyperloop,” he said. “We want to see it in the U.S., but if it makes more sense to do that somewhere else, then so be it. The goal is to build it.”

    The other goal is to keep it cheap. While his plan envisions making luxury pods available, Ahlborn said the estimated ticket price for economy-class seats would be about $20 to $30. But he said rides would ideally be free — perhaps supported by ads, to take advantage of time spent with a captive audience of travelers.

    hyperloop
    As with air travel, Hyperloop plans to have luxury and economy class pods.

    “You have the passenger for 30 to 40 minutes,” Ahlborn said. “This is not a venture for good, it’s a commercial company, so it has to make business sense. But we’ll see.”

    In the meantime, recent publicity about the Hyperloop has drummed up interest. His team of about 100 engineers, who are paid largely through stock options, seems set to expand.

    “I would say that, on average, we’re receiving 10 to 20 new applications per hour,” he said with a laugh.

  • Sean Penn Says Pulling 'The Interview' Gives ISIS 'A Commanding Invitation'
    Sean Penn has joined George Clooney, Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin and Barack Obama in blasting Sony for its decision to pull “The Interview” from release. In a letter sent to Mother Jones, Penn noted that Sony’s move — which happened after the company reportedly put the fate of “The Interview” in the hands of theater owners, who decided against running the film — had given ISIS “a commanding invitation.”

    “I believe ISIS will accept the invitation,” Penn wrote. “Pandora’s box is officially open.”

    As with Clooney and Apatow, Penn noted that Sony’s decision set a disturbing precedent:

    The damage we do to ourselves typically outweighs the harm caused by outside threats or actions. Then by caving to the outside threat, we make our nightmares real. The decision to pull ‘The Interview’ is historic. It’s a case of putting short term interests ahead of the long term. If we don’t get the world on board to see that this is a game changer, if this hacking doesn’t frighten the Chinese and the Russians, we’re in for a very different world, a very different country, community, and a very different culture.

    Late Friday, Sony released a statement defending itself against claims that it had made a misstep in its handling of “The Interview.”

    Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment. For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film The Interview released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.

    The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.

    Let us be clear – the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.

    After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.

    Read Penn’s letter over at Mother Jones.

  • Kim Jong-un vs. Kim Kardashian: Who's Winning The War For The Internet?
    One is ranked No. 80 on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful Celebrities. The other is No. 49 on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful People. Both are hell-bent on nothing short of Global Worldwide Domination.
  • Weekend Roundup: New Code War Is Not Funny
    It took an insolent Hollywood comedy mocking the surreal character of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to awaken us to the dangers of a new code war, a war in which geopolitical and geo-cultural battles will be duked out in cyberspace. As Alec Ross, America’s top digital diplomat when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, writes this week in The WorldPost, “the weaponization of code is the most significant development in warfare since the weaponization of fissile material.”

    Other battles are also shaping up to determine the contours of our digital future. Lu Wei, China’s Internet czar, makes his case for sovereign rule over cyberspace. Amy Chang examines how the Chinese campaign for “Internet sovereignty” will rupture the World Wide Web.

    This week’s Forgotten Fact notes the threat by North Korea’s culture and film minister to “obliterate” American and Japanese movie studios that make fun of North Korea, and recalls other bizarre threats by that country in the past.

    In a WorldPost editorial, we argue that China’s one-party political system can only remain effective if it allows open expression “as an avenue of self-correction.” From yet another angle, Enrique Dans writes from Madrid about “the sorry tale” of Google News shutting down its Spanish edition instead of agreeing to demands of newspapers to pay for links to content.

    WorldPost partners at Singularity University list the “8 Most Game-Changing Innovations of 2014.” We also publish this week “The World’s Most Influential Thinkers of 2014″ in conjunction with the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute in Zurich.

    Writing from Mexico City, Mexico’s former foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, argues that falling oil prices have hit Venezuela’s ability to subsidize Cuba, thus forcing its opening to the U.S. Falling oil prices combined with sanctions imposed by the West on Russia over Ukraine have sent the ruble reeling downward, undercutting Vladimir Putin’s strongman posture. Writing from Moscow, Ivan Sukhov chronicles the unraveling of Russia’s social system. Russian economist Sergei Guriev writes that even Russians are fleeing the ruble.

    The look-the-other-way tolerance of jihadis in Pakistan has backfired badly, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., Husain Haqqani, writes in the wake of the Taliban massacre of schoolchildren in Peshawar this week. Writing from Karachi, Beena Sarwar also argues that Pakistan must discard its “good Taliban, bad Taliban” distinction. Bina Shah writes that, with everything from a surge of rapes in India to the kidnapping of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in Nigeria, women have been “the ultimate battleground” in 2014. U.N. envoy and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown writes from Kinshasa that unaffordable school fees are stymying education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    Writing from Amman in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack, Jordan’s Queen Rania laments the spread of extremists who have “hijacked” Islam and calls for her fellow followers of the faith to condemn them. Writing from Nairobi, jurist George Kegoro writes that Al Shabaab in Kenya, like the Islamic State in the Middle East, is seeking to establish a “caliphate” through terror against non-Muslims.

    Writing from Beijing, Dragonomics Managing Director Arthur Kroeber says the West must get rid of its illusions about China becoming democratic. President Xi, he observes, heads a strong, not fragile, party-ruled state that is here to stay. Former Hong Kong Governor and Oxford Chancellor Chris Patten hopes the West can get over its “obsession” with recent failures and stand up to “illiberal” states like Russia and China. Cheng Li and Lucy Xu explain why the Obama Administration is reluctant to embrace Xi’s idea of a “new type of great power relations” that implies equality between China and America. WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan looks at the daily life of a Muslim migrant family trying to make it in Beijing.

    Writing from New Delhi, Pawan Khera notes the significance of the just concluded U.N. Summit in Lima, Peru on climate change where, for the first time, developing countries have agreed to take on the burden of carbon reductions just as the rich nations have in past agreements. Writing from Berlin, parliamentarian Phillip Missfelder calls for applying the principle of sustainability to Germany’s foreign as well as environmental policy.

    Finally, to get a handle on the scale of the despair, WorldPost’s Middle East correspondent in Istanbul, Sophia Jones, reports on a new video produced by the U.N.’s Refugee Agency that asks what would happen if Manhattan’s 1.5 million people — which equals the number of child refugees from the Syrian war — disappeared. She also reports on a triumph of music amid the misery by telling the story of a child prodigy pianist and Syrian refugee, Tambi Asaad Cimuk, who is headed to Carnegie Hall.

    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. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.

    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.

  • New Stonehenge Discovery Hailed As 'Most Important In 60 Years'
    Archaeologists studying Stonehenge and its environs say they’ve unearthed the remnants of an untouched, ancient encampment that dates back 6,000 years–a find that could rewrite British prehistory.

    “This is the most important discovery at Stonehenge in over 60 years,” Professor Tim Darvill, a Bournemouth University archaeologist and a Stonehenge expert who was not involved in the new discovery, told the Telegraph. And as he told The Huffington Post in an email, the discovery overturns previous theories that “Stonehenge was built in a landscape that was not heavily used before about 3000 B.C.”

    But if scientists are buzzing about the discovery, they’re also bummed about a new government plan calling for the construction of a new tunnel underneath Stonehenge.

    The discovery was made during a dig at Blick Mead, a site about 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. Researchers found charcoal dating back to 4,000 B.C. and evidence of “possible structures,” according to a statement released by the university. They also unearthed burnt flint and tools, as well as the remains of aurochs–ancient cattle that served as food for ancient hunter-gatherers.

    The researchers plan further analysis on the artifacts but say they’re worried the tunnel construction could damage the site and get in the way of their work.

    “Blick Mead could explain what archaeologists have been searching for for centuries–an answer to the story of Stonehenge’s past,” David Jaques, the University of Buckingham archaeologist who discovered the encampment, told The Guardian. “But our only chance to find out about the earliest chapter of Britain’s history could be wrecked if the tunnel goes ahead.”

    Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument consisting of a ring of standing stones, is located eight miles north of Salisbury, England in Wiltshire. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1986.

  • Sony CEO Says President Obama, Press 'Are Mistaken' About What Happened With 'The Interview'
    Shortly after President Barack Obama called Sony Pictures’ choice to cancel the release of “The Interview” in the wake of threats made by hackers a “mistake,” the studio’s CEO, Michael Lynton, told CNN that critics of the decision don’t understand the full story.

    “I think actually the unfortunate part is in this instance the president, the press and the public are mistaken as to what actually happened,” Lynton said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. “We do not own movie theaters. We cannot determine whether or not a movie will be played in movie theaters. So, to sort of rehearse for a moment the sequence of events, we experienced the worst cyber-attack in American history and persevered for three and a half weeks under enormous stress and enormous difficulty. All with the effort of trying to keep our business up and running and get the movie out to the public.”

    Sony’s lack of proprietorship became clear when major chains such as AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment and Cinemark withdrew plans to screen the film after hackers invoked Sept. 11 to threaten theaters that supported the film. At the time, Sony had no plans to cancel the release, instead reportedly urging theaters to make their own decisions. Sony’s statement, released Wednesday, said the reversal came “in light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film ‘The Interview.’”

    “The movie theaters came to us one by one over the course of a very short period of time — we were very surprised by it — and announced that they would not carry the movie,” Lynton told CNN. “At that point in time we had no alternative to not proceed with a theatrical release on the 25th of December. [...] We have not caved. We have not given in. We have persevered. And we have not backed down.”

    Lynton noted the requests for a video-on-demand release of “The Interview,” but he said no major VOD distributors have stepped forward. “We don’t have that direct interface with the American public, so we need to go through an intermediary to do that,” he said.

    Lynton’s full interview airs tonight on “Anderson Cooper 360.”

    Sony Pictures also released a statement about “The Interview” in conjunction with Lynton’s interview:

    Sony Pictures Entertainment is and always has been strongly committed to the First Amendment. For more than three weeks, despite brutal intrusions into our company and our employees’ personal lives, we maintained our focus on one goal: getting the film The Interview released. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion.

    The decision not to move forward with the December 25 theatrical release of The Interview was made as a result of the majority of the nation’s theater owners choosing not to screen the film. This was their decision.

    Let us be clear –- the only decision that we have made with respect to release of the film was not to release it on Christmas Day in theaters, after the theater owners declined to show it. Without theaters, we could not release it in the theaters on Christmas Day. We had no choice.

    After that decision, we immediately began actively surveying alternatives to enable us to release the movie on a different platform. It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so.

  • Undercover Video Reveals Harsh Conditions Inside Apple Supplier Factory
    An Apple supplier is violating the company’s standards for worker treatment in its Chinese factories, according to a new video report from the BBC.

    The video, captured by an undercover reporter who got a job at a factory run by Pegatron, a Chinese manufacturer making Apple products, renews some longstanding safety and health concerns about the workers making Apple goods. The report raises issues similar to those in a New York Times investigation of Apple’s Chinese suppliers nearly three years ago, which found that “[e]mployees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week,” and that some workers “say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk.”

    After the Times report, Apple said it had hired an outside company to audit factories.

    The BBC found several issues during its undercover reporting:

    First, the undercover reporter has his ID confiscated after getting the job, according to the video. Workers are required to hold IDs in China:

    In a required health and safety examination, workers shout the answers, apparently making it difficult for anyone to fail, according to the video:

    Workers are instructed to check boxes indicating that they will work standing up, and work nighttime shifts, according to the video. Shifts can run up to 16 hours at a time, and one undercover reporter — the BBC did not say how many were sent in total — said he had to work 18 days in a row after being denied time off, according to the video:

    The BBC reporter said workers would sleep next to their equipment. Apple reportedly told the BBC that nap breaks are not unusual:

    Pegatron spokeswoman Ming-Chun Tsai told The Huffington Post via email that “we are looking into the program’s allegations fully.”

    Chris Gaither, a spokesman for Apple, referred HuffPost to a letter from Apple Senior Vice President of Operations Jeff Williams that has been published by several news organizations.

    The letter is a lengthy rebuttal to the BBC’s claims. For the most part, it focuses largely on issues raised in the BBC’s report that are unrelated to factory conditions — namely, allegations that Apple uses tin from dangerous, illegal mines in Indonesia that exploit child labor. Williams said he was “appalled” by conditions in Indonesia, but that the company wanted to “stay engaged and try to drive a collective solution.”

    In response to the video of the Pegatron factory, Williams said that Apple is committed to improving conditions, writing, “The reality is that we find violations in every audit we have ever performed, no matter how sophisticated the company we’re auditing. We find problems, we drive improvement, and then we raise the bar.”

  • Sorry Google, This Isn't About SOPA, It's About You
    This week came news — via the leak of Sony documents — that State Attorneys General have opened up an investigation against Google. And that the movie industry has provided them with evidence to back up claims that Google is facilitating content theft, while others have shown that Google is making it easy to illegally buy drugs and steroids, stolen credit card and counterfeit passports and other fake documents.

    And Google is shocked, shocked, to find that a group I oversee – the Digital Citizens Alliance – has been supported by the movie industry, and that we’ve demonstrated that Google is falling short of its promise to “don’t be evil.” Instead, Google wants to frame the State Attorneys General efforts as an attempt to resurrect the SOPA-PIPA battle to combat piracy.

    Sorry, Google, this is about you, not SOPA-PIPA. For the record, I didn’t support the SOPA-PIPA legislation when it was being debated and haven’t changed my view. So, Google and Digital Citizens are on the same page about that legislation.

    Google seems adamant against any form of blacklisting of dangerous websites. Except, of course, when it isn’t. In 2006, Google funded an initiative called Stopbadware that was operated by Harvard’s Berkman Center. I know, I helped Google launch the program that identified websites that exposed Internet users to computer viruses and other malware. Google-funded researchers reviewed the sites and if they found malware, then Stopbadware blacklisted them. Stopbadware has blacklisted over one million websites that it deemed dangerous.

    Sadly, Google’s willingness to make the Internet safer seems to stop there.

    Three years ago Google agreed to pay $500 million to make go away a Justice Department investigation that showed that the company helped overseas pharmacies illegally market prescription drugs in the United States. After that, why should we be surprised that State Attorneys General would be concerned about Google’s role in endangering their citizens?

    Now, what the State Attorneys General appear to be focused on is not what SOPA-PIPA was about, but more specifically Google’s questionable behavior.

    And that behavior is this: Google seems to oppose nearly all efforts to combat websites that promote the sale of illegally obtained drugs, content theft, scams, counterfeits or fake IDs, perhaps because in the past Google has stood to gain financially from these sites.

    We know because Digital Citizens has worked on all of these issues, although about only 20 percent of our work has involved Google. And we’ve actually gone to bat for Google by condemning criminals counterfeiting their Google apps.

    Google doesn’t like the fact that Digital Citizens gets funded in part by the movie industry. Actually, we get funding from lots of others as well, some of which are also concerned with your behavior, and others who care about online safety issues like unethical online pharmacies, counterfeit products and fake IDs.

    For example, Digital Citizens pointed out that Google allowed drug dealers to promote Oxycontin, Percocet and other narcotics on YouTube; that had nothing to do with the motion picture industry. And when the media got interested, Google removed thousands of YouTube videos under pressure. And when Digital Citizens pointed out that Google was allowing illegal steroids to be marketed on YouTube, and the media got interested, the company once again removed hundreds of videos. And when Google was found to be allowing thieves to promote the sale of stolen credit cards on YouTube, Google hurriedly removed those videos as well.

    See a pattern? In other words, Google only acts when shamed or pressured. And when it really feels the heat, it writes a big check, like it did with the DOJ.

    For the most part, Digital Citizens doesn’t publicize our members because we do a lot of edgy stuff, such as sting operations where we videotaped online pharmacies offering to illegally sell narcotics to a 15-year-old or credit card thieves offering to sell us stolen credit cards. We also shed led light on the amount of illegal drug sales going on in the so-called DarkNet marketplaces.

    This Sony hacker leak will come and go, as will juicy details of company emails. And here’s what we will be left with: serious concerns about Google’s willingness to protect consumers. Our reports exposed the fact that Google allowed criminals to promote drugs, counterfeits and stolen credit cards on its online properties – and worse, that Google made money by selling ads in conjunction with those activities.

    State Attorneys General are independent law enforcement officials who take a lot of information from interested parties, then make up their own minds if there is a case to pursue. And I admire them for it. When State Attorneys General took on the tobacco industry a decade ago, they heard from interested parties about behavior that endangered their citizens. That’s their job, and they do it well.

    So Google, no matter how you spin it, your willingness to help criminals and other bad actors is under scrutiny. And it will continue to be so until you change your behavior and live up to your promise to be a great company.

  • Directors Guild Of America Defends 'The Interview,' Wants To See It Released
    The Directors Guild of America agrees with President Barack Obama and the rest of the chorus criticizing Sony Pictures’ decision to cancel the release of “The Interview” following terrorism threats.

    DGA President Paris Barclay released a statement on the group’s website Friday. He indicated that he would like to see “The Interview” receive some sort of distribution:

    As the events of the past weeks have made painfully clear, we are now living in an age in which the Internet can enable a few remote cyber criminals to hold an entire industry hostage. This unprecedented situation demonstrates that even basic rights such as freedom of expression can quickly fall prey to those who would misuse and abuse the Internet to steal from, intimidate and terrorize our industry and our nation, and stands as an excruciating illustration of the heightened need for the federal government to increase its efforts to protect our society against cyber crimes, terrorism and all of its implications.

    We hope that instead of the “chilling effect” on controversial content, this incident becomes a rallying point for all of us who care about freedom of expression to come together and champion this inalienable right. We stand by our director members Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and hope that a way can be found to distribute the film by some means, to demonstrate that our industry is not cowed by extremists of any type.

    Earlier on Friday, Obama held a press conference in which he called Sony’s decision a “mistake.” Obama and Barclay’s comments reflect similar sentiments from Judd Apatow and many others within the Hollywood community.

  • Here's What James Franco Has Been Up To Since Sony Pulled 'The Interview'
    Hollywood responded with outrage on Wednesday after Sony canceled the release of “The Interview,” scheduled for Dec. 25. But the film’s stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco, have remained silent since preemptively nixing all press appearances on Tuesday.

    Franco (or “Flacco,” if you’re Obama telling the nation that Sony made a “mistake“) has been a busy boy. The actor/writer/director/poet hasn’t let Sony’s decision — which could set a deeply troubling precedent for future films and freedom of expression — slow him down.

    Here’s what James Franco has been up to since Sony canceled “The Interview”:

    1. He saw Emma Stone on Broadway in “Cabaret.”

    #Emmastone kills it in @cabaret!!!!
    #alancumming is so good I started smoking and slapped his ass.
    ❤️Bye NYC!❤️

    — James Franco (@JamesFrancoTV) December 17, 2014

    2. He celebrated Hanukkah with Lady Gaga.

    Happy Hanukkah ❤️ @ladygaga + me.

    A photo posted by James Franco (@jamesfrancotv) on Dec 12, 2014 at 9:55pm PST

    3. He partied with Marina Abramovic, Courtney Love and MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach.

    Holiday party with klaus and the ladies: #marinaabromavic @ladygaga @klausbiesenbach @courtneylove

    A photo posted by James Franco (@jamesfrancotv) on Dec 12, 2014 at 10:00pm PST

    4. He promoted his other film, “Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha.”

    5. He turned the tables on a paparazzo.

    6. He made a cameo for the final episode of “The Colbert Report.”

    Goodbye @thecolbertreport We love you!!!!!

    Uma foto publicada por James Franco (@jamesfrancotv) em Dez 12, 2014 at 9:33 PST

  • Blackberry in revenue slide
    Troubled smartphone maker Blackberry reports a larger than expected drop in revenue, as it struggles to convince consumers to buy its phones.
  • What To Watch On Netflix With The Whole Family Over The Holidays
    It’s the holidays, which means spending lots of time with family and spending even more time with Netflix. But when deciding what to watch, you may want to avoid anything too inappropriate (your grandma may not be a fan of the Quaalude-induced chaos of “The Wolf of Wall Street) or too dark and gory for the cheery season (i.e. “American Horror Story”).

    After you get through Netflix’s best Christmas TV episodes, here are the best movies to watch with the whole family that aren’t the same old holiday classics:

  • Petitioners Demand Sony Release 'The Interview,' Stand Up To Terrorist Threats
    Want to see “The Interview”? So do a lot of other would-be moviegoers, dissatisfied with Sony Pictures’ decision this week to scrap the controversial film (which depicts the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un). And some have whipped up online petitions in an attempt to change studio executives’ minds.

    Sony’s decision — made following terror threats sent by the hacker group responsible for breaching the corporation’s computer systems in November — was met with plenty of criticism this week. On Friday, President Barack Obama said Sony “did the wrong thing.” Writer and producer Aaron Sorkin called the ordeal “an unprecedented attack” on free speech, while celebrities posted reactions on Twitter in various shades of disgust.

    The hackers, of course, were pleased with the company’s decision. The group, which the FBI has claimed is connected to North Korea, released a statement calling the decision “very wise” and suggested additional leaks would not be made unless the studio “made additional trouble.”

    For those who would like Sony to do just that, options are limited. The studio, which not even George Clooney could convince industry leaders to defend, has said it has no plans to release the film in any form. But petitioners hope Sony might listen to the voice of the people.

    From Change.org: “Please release ‘The Interview’ and stop letting terrorists decide which movies Americans get to see.”

    From the statement:

    When Sony and the major theater groups declined to release “The Interview” because hackers threatened us and told them not to, they literally negotiated with terrorists. And, as even a cursory knowledge of modern American cinema would tell you, negotiating with terrorists is bad.

    Add your signature here.

    From We the People: “Urge Sony pictures to release the film ‘The Interview’ and protect our 1st Amendment.”

    From the statement:

    We want our government to defend our first amendment by urging Sony to release “The Interview” and offer protection to movie goers as well as those involved in the production of the movie.

    The White House is expected to respond to any We the People petition that receives more than 100,000 signatures within 30 days. You can also add your signature here.

    Will signatures get anything done? We can’t say. Although their exact impact remains unquantified, online petitions have achieved results in the past.

    And besides, there’s always the (very, very) slim chance Sony lets Gawker screen the film instead.

  • What is FBI evidence for North Korea hack attack?
    Why the FBI linked North Korea to the Sony hack attack

Mobile Technology News, December 19, 2014

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

  • Sony Cancels Studio Tours In Wake Of Hacker Threats Over 'The Interview'
    Sony has canceled tours of its Culver City, Calif., studios in the wake of hacker threats which have already scuttled the release of the Seth Rogen and James Franco film, “The Interview.”

    Tours were canceled last week and will not resume this year, The Hollywood Reporter said.

    The two-hour guided walking tour takes guests through sound and scoring stages as well as the sets of TV shows such as “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune,” according to the website.

    The studio is concerned that someone could stray from the group, TMZ reports.

    As of this writing, tours through Jan. 2 are listed as “sold out” on the ticketing website, and no dates are available for purchase beyond that point.

    On Wednesday, Sony canceled the release of “The Interview” after hackers who stole corporate documents, emails and other data threatened terror attacks on any theater showing the film.

    The movie is a comedy about a plot to kill North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The U.S. government reportedly believes North Korea is behind the attack and the threats.

  • VIDEO: 'Easy to hack companies like Sony'
    Marc Maiffret, a former hacker who is now an internet security expert, says it is easy for a hacker to break into a company Sony.
  • eBay Splits From ALEC
    Dec 18 (Reuters) – eBay Inc said on Thursday that it will end its association with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a political group that other tech companies dropped earlier this year due to its views on climate change.

    “After our annual review of eBay Inc’s memberships in trade associations and third party organizations we’ve decided not to renew our membership with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),” an eBay spokeswoman said.

    Critics fault ALEC, a coalition of state lawmakers and companies, for promoting measures to deny the existence of climate change, defund public services, oppose Internet neutrality and limit workers’ protections.

    In September, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said his company wanted out because ALEC was “literally lying” about climate change. Yahoo Inc, Facebook Inc and Yelp Inc left ALEC soon after. (Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Leslie Adler)

  • VIDEO: Testing Skype's real-time translator
    Microsoft has launched a test version of the Skype Translator which decodes conversations in Spanish and English in near real time.
  • VIDEO: DIY electronics making home 'smart'
    The do-it-yourself electronics maker littleBits has released a “smart home” automation kit.
  • Top 10 Holiday Gifts for the Tech-Lover
    Baby, it’s cold outside, but inside the holiday shopping frenzy is heating up. As you race to get your last-minute gift-buying done, here are 10 great options to consider for the tech-lover on your list:

    Smartphone: Samsung Galaxy ALPHA
    A smartphone is like the window into your life. The Galaxy ALPHA is more than just smart inside. It’s the first Samsung Galaxy smartphone with a high-quality metal frame and luxury look and feel. It’s resilient and gorgeous. The advanced camera with real-time HDR allows you to take vibrant shots even in awkward lighting conditions. The Ultra Power Saving Mode means the Galaxy ALPHA won’t let you down. The extended battery power will kick in when you need it most.

    Wearables: Gadgetree Bluetooth Hat
    The perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone on your list is a unique toque designed by Canadians for our Canadian winters. During the January deep-freeze keep warm and cozy while rocking out to your favorite tunes in your Gadgetree Bluetooth hat. No need to fumble in your pocket or purse with frozen fingers for your smartphone. Built directly into the hat is a Bluetooth module, speakers and integrated buttons for listening to music, answering phone calls, and carrying on phone conversations with the built-in mic. The Bluetooth hat is powered by a rechargeable battery that lasts for 6 hours and is charged by a mini USB adapter.

    2-in-1 Laptop to Tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
    This is the ideal gift for that special someone who wants it all. It’s a lightweight tablet that can replace your laptop. It runs Windows 8.1 Pro, so you can install all your favorite desktop software, including Microsoft Office Suite and all your must-have favorite programs. But this device is not just for work; it comes built-in with apps like Skype, OneDrive, and Bing Smart Search, plus thousands of apps available at the Windows Store. When your work is done, kick back, detach the screen from the keyboard and relax with your tablet to watch movies, utilize your apps or scroll through your pictures taken with the 1080p camera. Multiple user accounts let each family member personalize their space on the same device. And the family safety features that protect kids when they’re online make this a perfect family gift from Santa.

    Office 365
    Santa cannot deliver a mobile, tablet or laptop to anyone on your list without also getting the elves to wrap up a subscription to Office 365. Office 365 is a subscription service built to help you and your family get things done from virtually anywhere and on any device. You have access to your personal documents and settings when and where you want them – regardless of whether it’s your PC, Mac, tablet, iPad or smartphone. One subscription will cover them all – up to 10 devices. The 1TB of storage will mass all of your holiday memories; 100 videos, 70,000 family photos and 10,000 Christmas carols plus room for 1 million Office documents that you can share with your friends and family. With an active Office 365 subscription, you never have to worry about upgrading your Office because you always have access to the latest Office applications, features and services.

    Mophie Space Pack
    The Mophie Space Pack for iPhone 5/5s is the first battery case that incorporates either 16Gb or 32Gb of built-in storage and charges your phone with the flick of a switch. Add 100 percent additional battery power to your smartphone to extend the talk time with your family and friends throughout the holidays. Download the Space app to manage and organize up to 32,000 more photos, 28 hours more video, and 18,000 more songs.

    House of Marley “Get Together” Speaker
    Crank up the Christmas carols on the House of Marley “Get Together” Speaker that is made of earth-friendly materials: a natural bamboo front and the back panels are covered with Marley-exclusive REWIND fabric, composed of reclaimed hemp, organic cotton and recycled plastic bottles. House of Marley created a great sounding stereo that is both gorgeous and environmentally sustainable. Stream your Christmas carols wirelessly from your favorite Bluetooth-enabled devices, or hook your wired devices up via the built-in 3.5 mm audio jack and let the carols fill your house for 8 hours thanks to the rechargeable lithium battery.

    Gadgetree Party Light
    Perfect for the teenager or 1970s dancing queen on your list is the Bluetooth Party Light speaker with a stylish disco light system from Gadgetree. Stream your music easily via Bluetooth from your smartphone, tablet or laptop, or connect directly to your home audio system. The disco lights, excellent audio quality and bass plus the 3 hours of playback time makes the Party Light an ideal fun gift. And the built-in FM tuner is an added retro bonus that will get party started!

    Headrush Headphones 4.0
    What better gift to give – or receive – then the gift of music? The wireless Bluetooth Headrush 4.0 headphones give the listener a booming, crisp sound plus an endless array of features. The headphones connect to your music collection stored on your smartphone or tablet via NFC pairing. Manage everything from your earpiece with tactile touch controls; select your music, adjust your volume and even answer in-coming calls by simply swiping the earpiece.

    Beats Solo 2.0 On-Ear Headphones
    Beats Solo 2.0 on-ear headphones are for the music lovers on your list. The headphones have titanium-coated driver technology that provides crystal-clear highs and deep, rumbling lows in high definition sound. These ergonomically designed ear cups and flexible headband are perfect for long listening sessions. Stay connected to family and friends throughout the holiday season by easily switching between songs and incoming calls with the in-line controls and built in micro-phone.

    Parrot – Mini Drone Jumping Sumo
    Young and mature adults, and Santa and the elves, will be jockeying for the Parrot mini drone with wheels on Christmas morning and throughout the entire holiday season. The robotic style toy can be programmed to drive in a straight line, zigzag, spin around in circles, roll and jump over 80 centimeters in height while knocking out objects in its path. Control every move through your smartphone or tablet via a free app and Wi-Fi. Plus, the Jumping Sumo comes equipped with a wide angle, built-in camera that captures video and streams live views to the piloting screen. Record of all the adventures of the Jumping Sumo’s journey!

  • A Look At North Korea's Cyberwar Capabilities
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Most North Koreans have never seen the Internet.

    But the country Washington suspects is behind a devastating hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment has managed to orchestrate a string of crippling cyber infiltrations of South Korean computer systems in recent years, officials in Seoul believe, despite North Korea protesting innocence. Experts say the Sony Pictures hack may be the costliest cyberattack ever inflicted on an American business. The fallout from the hack that exposed a trove of sensitive documents, and this week escalated to threats of terrorism, forced Sony to cancel release of the North Korean spoof movie “The Interview.” The studio’s reputation is in tatters as embarrassing revelations spill from tens of thousands of leaked emails and other company materials.

    Despite widespread poverty, malnutrition and decades of crippling U.S.-led economic sanctions, Pyongyang has poured resources into training thousands of hackers who regularly target bitter rival Seoul.

    A look at the country’s suspected capabilities and where experts believe the authoritarian nation is heading with its cyber program:

    —NORTH KOREA’S CYBERARMY

    South Korea’s former spy chief and a North Korean defector put the number of professional hackers at between 1,000 and 3,000. These numbers from Seoul’s intelligence agency in 2010 and a leaked North Korean government document from 2009, which contained an order from late leader Kim Jong Il, may be outdated. But they agree that North Korea trains hackers at top schools to launch attacks on cyberspace mostly targeted at South Korea.

    Defector Kim Heung Kwang said he trained student hackers at a university in the industrial North Korean city of Hamhung for two decades before defecting in 2003. Hackers also are sent to study abroad in China and Russia.

    In 2009, then-leader Kim Jong Il ordered Pyongyang’s “cyber command” expanded to 3,000 hackers, Kim said, citing a North Korean government document that he obtained that year. The veracity of the document could not be independently confirmed.

    Kim, who has lived in Seoul since 2004, believes that more have been recruited since then, and said some are based in China to infiltrate networks abroad.

    Simon Choi, a senior security researcher at Seoul-based anti-virus company Hauri Inc., said North Korean hackers have honed their skills from various attacks in South Korea. Choi, who analyzes malicious codes from North Korea, said the country’s skills have improved and it is able to disguise malware as harmless computer code.

    The perception of growing cyber security threats from North Korea has prompted South Korea’s defense ministry to beef up its cyber warfare capabilities.

    —PAST CYBERATTACKS

    South Korea blames North Korea for carrying out at least six high-profile cyberattacks since 2007 with many more unsuccessful attempts at infiltrating computer systems of businesses and government agencies. In the six cases, hackers destroyed hard drive disks, paralyzed banking systems or disrupted access to websites. Some of these attacks were so crippling that in one case a South Korean bank was unable to resume online banking services for more than two weeks.

    The first suspected cyberassault by North Korea took place on July 7, 2009 in the form of “denial of service” attacks on dozens of websites of South Korean and U.S. government agencies. Hackers triggered intense traffic from tens of thousands of “zombie” PCs that are crippled by malware. Initially, South Korea’s spy agency pointed the finger at North Korea. Some experts later said that there were no conclusive evidence that Pyongyang was behind it, but South Korea came to see the attack as a prelude to a growing cyber threat from the North.

    A similar infiltration was carried out on March 4, 2011. Hackers attacked about 40 South Korean government and private websites, prompting officials to warn of a substantial threat to the country’s computers. The targets included websites belonging to South Korea’s presidential office, the foreign ministry, the national intelligence service, US Forces Korea and major financial institutions.

    One month later, South Korean bank Nonghyup was the victim of a damaging cyberattack on the country’s financial industry. It took the bank more than two weeks to recover and resume online banking and ATM services. South Korean authorities concluded that North Korea was responsible for the April 12, 2011 attack.

    A smaller scale breach linked to North Korea was on South Korean daily newspaper JoongAng Ilbo on June 6, 2012. Hackers changed the home page of its website and destroyed data in its editorial system.

    One of the most damaging attacks took place in 2013. The March 20 cyberattack struck 48,000 computers and servers, hampering banks for 2-5 days. Officials said that no bank records or personal data were compromised but staffers at three TV broadcasters were unable to log on to news systems for several days, although programming continued.

    Three months later on the anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, dozens of government and media companies were hit by malicious code and denial of service attacks.

    —WHAT NEXT FOR NORTH KOREA’S CYBERWAR

    Experts believe that for impoverished North Korea, expanding its warfare into cyberspace is an attractive choice because it is cheaper and faster to develop malicious computer codes than to build nuclear bombs or other weapons of mass destruction. Online attacks can be performed anonymously, another upside for the infiltrators.

    It is also a battle in which North Korea has little to lose. Unlike South Korea where commerce and many aspects of daily life are dependent on the Internet, only a fraction of North Koreans can go online. In South Korea, a crippled website or a disruption of online banking poses great inconvenience.

    “North Korea has very few Internet-connected PCs so they have little in the way of being attacked. But South Korea has a huge IT infrastructure that can come under attack,” said Choi, the security expert. That provides ample targets for North Korean hackers, he said.

    Choi believes the North’s hackers are highly skilled and organized with the capacity to “freely hack into other computer systems without any limits.”

    Experts have warned of the possibility that North Korea could mobilize its hackers to attack key infrastructure such as power plants.

    —CAVEATS

    What the world knows about North Korea’s cyberwarfare capabilities comes mostly from intelligence agencies and North Korean defectors who left the country before 2007 when the first major cyberattack linked to North Korea occurred in South Korea.

    North Korea’s nuclear capabilities have been a point of pride for the isolated nation, but it has never openly admitted the existence of a state-trained cyberarmy.

    The North has denied Seoul’s accusations it is responsible for cyberattacks in South Korea. In the Sony Pictures case, North Korea said it might have been the work of sympathizers.

  • 13 Totes Adorbs Gifts For Your Internet-Obsessed Frenz
    If you’re struggling with what to get your Reddit-obsessed friends for the holidays this year, maybe it’s time to admit who you are and go all in on Internet jokes.

    You don’t even need to create your own. Many of the Internet memes you already love have been transformed into everything from clothing to gadgets, thanks to the creative types at Etsy and Zazzle.

    Don’t be embarrassed to go full-on nerd with your more casual friends either. Memes were everywhere this year. Even your mom and dad surely remember #AlexFromTarget and Pharrell’s hat?

  • Where You Can Watch 'Team America: World Police' Online
    In the wake of Sony canceling its release plans for “The Interview,” some theaters decided to screen “Team America: World Police” as an act of protest. But on Thursday, Paramount pulled “Team America” from being shown in public. Even “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin was banned from screening the 2004 comedy. (“I guess I should contact our new North Korean masters to ask them what movies we will be allowed to show at the Cocteau,” Martin wrote on his LiveJournal, referencing the theater he owns.)

    But for those who want to watch “Team America” over the next few days, there is hope. The film, which focuses on the title do-gooders as they attempt to save the world from Kim Jong Il, is streaming now on Netflix. “Team America” is also available to rent or buy at Google Play, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu and Flickster, among other services.

    All of which is to say …

  • You Probably Just Lost A Bunch Of Instagram Followers
    Many were slain in the Great Instagram Purge of 2014. The photo-sharing app went on a cleaning spree Thursday, deleting inactive and spam accounts and causing people’s follower stats to drop left and right.

    It seems like celebrity accounts suffered the most. Web developer Zach Allia has put together a nifty infographic showing the carnage among Instagram’s 100 most popular accounts. By Allia’s numbers, Justin Bieber lost more than 3.5 million of his 23 million followers in the purge, while Kim Kardashian lost 1.3 million of her 23 million followers and Beyoncé lost more than 800,000 of her 22 million. A moment of silence, please.

    Thursday’s cull didn’t just happen out of the blue. For the past week, Instagram has displayed a little notice letting users know it would be deleting these types of accounts. But people were still shocked and appalled to see their numbers plummet.

    Instagram got rid of spam followers/non active accounts today. I lost 15K. #RIP

    — Joe Santagato (@JoeSantagato) December 18, 2014

    Instagram now verifying users. Spot on. I lost 200 followers with the clean up. Can’t wait to see who bought theirs! #Instagram

    — Paul Smith Jnr (@PaulSmithJnr) December 18, 2014

    For what it’s worth, nobody is losing real followers — only robots and dead accounts. There was at least one other episode of this in April, when Instagram began cleaning out bogus accounts, so not everyone will be affected this time around.

    Want to boost your numbers with new followers? We’ve got some tips.

  • Holiday Gift Guide: Techie Edition
    Hurray!! The holiday season is right around the corner! And that means… shopping! That’s why I have come up with a foolproof holiday gift guide that will make any traveler very happy.

    Power Cube

    Aside from being super adorable, these guys make your on-the-go office easy and stylish. There are a couple of models you can choose from.

    The first one:

    2014-12-18-GreenCube.jpg

    comes with 5 outlets.

    The second one:

    2014-12-18-BlueCube.jpg

    has 4 outlets, and a dual USB plug.

    And this last option:

    2014-12-18-Greycubewithcable_1.jpg

    also comes with a cable for those of you who need the length.

    The coolest part is…

    2014-12-18-stackingtogether_2.jpg

    they’re stackable!!

    Pro Tip: They aren’t the lightest thing in the world, but they are certainly portable and will make your life much easier.

    Cable Organizers

    These gadgets will make ANY traveler mighty happy. Who the heck wants to spend their precious holiday time unraveling cables?!

    This first guy:

    2014-12-18-firstorganizeropen.jpg

    is the STM Cable Wrap Travel Organizer. It’s perfect for anyone who travels with lots of equipment that requires lots of cables (like me!)

    It has larger pockets for larger items (like chargers),

    2014-12-18-pullinfchargeroutofpocket.jpg

    smaller pockets for cables (and your headphones),

    2014-12-18-showingsmallerpockets.jpg

    and it even has a zipper! Perfect for batteries and other loose items you don’t want falling out.

    2014-12-18-showingzipperpocket_1.jpg

    This next option:

    2014-12-18-Blueoneopen.jpg

    is the Cordito Cord Organizer. This little guy is perfect for smaller cables, such as earphones or USB cables.

    It also comes with a pocket

    2014-12-18-pullingcableoutofpocket.jpg

    where you can store any extra cables.

    And this is what it looks like when it’s rolled up:

    2014-12-18-soniashowingitrolldup.jpg

    Small, beautiful and portable! Triple threat.

    Gear Ties

    The ultimate cable accessory! These are the magical wormy guys that turn this…

    2014-12-18-beforeafterwithouttitle.jpg

    into this!

    Magic. No matter what cable organizer you have, these guys will always come in handy.

    External Battery Packs

    These mean extra juice on the road; music to every traveler’s ears.

    I even have two options for you: one for iPhone users and one for Android fans.

    2014-12-18-soniaholdingupbothexternalbatteries.jpg

    All you have to do is charge them up, and when your phone dies, no matter where you are, just plug it in!

    The Android version also has a little something extra…

    2014-12-18-USB.jpg

    a USB drive!

    Pro Tip: Neither of these will charge your phone 100%, but they’ll give you just enough (usually 50-60%).

    All Pictures Courtesy of Mariana Hellmund

  • What Was It Like to Teach the President of the United States How to Code?
    What was the one line JavaScript that president Obama wrote as part of the Hour of Code 2014?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

    2014-12-18-leonardo.jpg

    Answer by Hadi Partovi, CEO, Code.org

    It was only two weeks ago that I had the incredible fortune to personally ask the President of the United States to kick off the Hour of Code by trying it himself. I still can’t believe it actually happened.

    Many have asked me what is the code that President Obama wrote. It was a single line of JavaScript:

    moveForward(100);

    That code is all it took to get Elsa to move 100 pixels to finish drawing a square, in a secret, un-released JavaScript version of our Code Studio tutorials featuring Anna and Elsa from Frozen (see the block-based version of the tutorial at http://code.org/frozen).

    The President asked if he needs to type the F in upper-case, and he got the () and the ; right too, he was very precise and didn’t make a typing mistake.

    Drawing one line to finish a square isn’t hard, it’s not rocket science. And that’s exactly the point. That’s how computer science starts. You don’t write a fully-fledged game when you write your very first line of code, you write something as simple as PRINT “Hello World”.

    As hacker extraordinaire and Code.org spokesperson Elena Silenok famously said in the Code.org launch video, her first code was to draw a red circle and a green square.

    Computer science is about starting small, learning how to tell the computer to do the simplest, easiest thing and then building from there. It all starts with a first line of code. ‪#‎HourOfCode‬ #moveForward

    Some other more personal details:
    The girl who taught the President to code (Adrianna) came from an incredibly tough neighborhood in Newark that had just had a neighborhood shooting days earlier. One of the victims had been their former classmate, so she and all the kids were shaken up. This day was a total fairy-tale for them.

    The hat the president wore is my hat. I had put it on the table next to Adrianna, and she asked him if he wanted to wear it. But he decided not to keep it, so I kept it afterwards. And now I’m deciding between wearing it every day for the rest of my life vs framing it and never wearing it again!

    The President’s opening remarks were the most amazing endorsement of our organization, he mentioned the name Code.org three different times! You can watch in the first video below, he says “Code.org is doing some incredible work… All across the country people are doing code,” and then references our programs to collaborate with schools, etc.

    P.S. It’s not every day you get to take 20 students to the White House to teach the President how to code using a product your team built over the last year, to kick off a world wide campaign for your almost-two-year-old nonprofit. I mean, wow. I owe immense thanks to my team, and the support of all the partners, 75,000 teachers, and 50 million parents and students who helped make this day happen. I will remember it forever, thank you.

    More questions on Quora:

  • Generation Z: A World Gone Cyber
    Say hello to Generation Z – We are a generation of those born beginning in 1995, living in a society where everything is possible and the main communication channel is the internet.

    Over half, 50% of youth report being cyber-bullied. Being the Bullseye target of a cyber-bully can happen to anyone. No longer is the overweight or geeky kid the popular choice when it comes to being harassed. Anyone is fair game. Advanced social media technology has given those who feel the need to tear others apart plenty of cyberspace to cause collateral damage. Computers won’t change the world, people will. Computers are the tools we’ll use. No other generation has dealt with the new age culture that takes the term “bullying” to a new level.

    I was tortured by a cyber bully and thankfully, I survived with the help of my family and was able to pick up the pieces and move on. Many feel there is no way out and call it quits. Many ask, “How can someone so young possibly feel there is no reason to live?” I understand their thoughts. When you are a tween, your social existence is your everything. One person can torture a youth without uttering a word… the silent kill. That silence rang louder than ever when I stared at my computer screen for what seemed like a lifetime, reading hateful words typed with one purposeful click at a time. Then came the silence and inner chaotic thought, how will I face everyone at school?

    Traits such as confidence and self-esteem play an important role when youth are faced with aggressive online behavior. Empowerment along with cyber education will result in a reduction of suicide and human trafficking rates while creating a more balanced future cyber generation.
    As I fight an urgent need for mandatory life skill/social media classes in all schools, I embrace sharing my empowerment with youth as they deal with the tough pressures of today’s media driven society.

    Cyber-Bullying Survival 101

    Facebook

    Who are your “friends?” – Purge your friends list! Keep only those who are truly friends you personally know. The number of friends, likes or comments will never reflect your self worth. You’ll see what I mean after you take a look at your ratio of friends and comments you receive on Facebook. Your newsfeed will become real news with real friends. You will most likely have your true friends cell numbers so this positive purge will reduce your direct messaging on fb, therefore resulting in an instant reduction of the likelihood of negativity. Keep your account PRIVATE! I can’t stress this enough. The boy or girl your crazy about will find you without Facebook, I promise!

    Instagram

    This photo app can be fun and used for good, however tweens and teens are depending on this app to validate their self-worth. The obsession with the number of followers, likes, and comments, or lack thereof, can take over the original idea of this app. At the end of the day, the numbers game no longer matters. Again, keep your account private and add only those you personally know and like. Tweens and teens feel the need to have a high follower count in order to be popular. You’re not popular when you are a stranger, strive for quality followers you engage with. Post and comment appropriately. If your friends are those you like, there is no need to be negative, ever! So, you think your invisible? Think again. Human Traffickers prey on Instagram accounts. Girls are sharing their locations that lead those who prey right to their door. Turn off location services and stay safe. Following someone you don’t know? Delete them… It’s not worth the risk.

    Twitter

    Twitter’s fun 140 character tweets allow us to share our latest news or how we’re feeling at the moment. This application is an easy one for tweens and teens to vague tweet. Tweeting about how you hate it when someone does a certain thing or acts a certain way is sure to be on the receiving end of negative attention. Someone is going to screenshot and text your tweet sending it viral and with less than 140 characters you have officially started drama. My best advice for Twitter is to keep your tweets positive and THINK before you tweet. Follow only those you know and keep your settings private unless your account is a business. These tips reduce your direct messages, giving little room for negativity in your social networks. Try tweeting less negative thoughts. Keep it positive for those who follow you! If you’ve got time to tweet how awful your life seems, you’ve got time to tweet sweet.

    Communication is my top all-time tip for any youth who feels the negativity of bullying. Mentors are a positive source and can provide that light youth may feel impossible to see. Talking through the incident with someone can oftentimes give a new perspective and remedy to the situation. I didn’t reach out when I was cyber-bullied because I felt humiliated and embarrassed even though I knew I had done nothing wrong. Again, school and friends were my world and that world had been shattered. Never feel ashamed…reach out and talk it out! We are living in a world of instant communication. Safety on all levels is vitally important to youth, however the idea of parents having access to their child’s social media accounts is met with great resistance. Teens want their privacy and parents want to protect their kids from the unknown. Here’s my suggestion for a great compromise: It’s no longer considered “weird” or “lame” for parents to have social media such as Instagram or Facebook. So, by agreeing to allow their parents to follow them on social media, teens are maintaining a certain level of privacy, while also keeping their parents in the loop as well. Oftentimes we reflect our feelings and emotions through social media, so if a teen is suddenly posting sad quotes, or just simply stops posting all together, this could be an alert for parents to ensure that their chid is happy.

    The power of confidence gives youth a positive edge on dealing with negativity. Those who choose to bully many times lack self-esteem and confidence, resulting in feelings of jealousy that turn to hate. Youth that lack attention and/or are bored have a tendency to become a bully. Finding a hobby or passion while surrounding oneself with like-minded friends can play a positive role in a youth’s level of confidence and self-esteem.

    My generation Z’s world of communication has launched to a new galaxy. Further education, empowerment, communication and mentorship will allow us to rock a world gone cyber.

    2014-12-18-IMG_4057.JPG

  • These #WorstDateIn5Words Tweets Will Make You Laugh At How Awkward Dating Is
    Whether you’re single, in a relationship or adrift in the sea known as “It’s complicated,” just be happy if you can’t relate to any of these dating snafus.

    The Twitter hashtag #WorstDateIn5Words was a trending topic on Thursday and prompted thousands of tweets from people who have lived to tell the tale of dates gone wrong — as well as people who can write a good 5-word joke about one.

    From seriously awkward conversation starters (“I’m not racist but…”) to levels of discomfort we can only imagine (“His ankle bracelet started beeping”) and some clever nods to dating in the movies (“Titanic”), here are some of the funniest #WorstDateIn5Words tweets the Internet had to offer:

    Men’s Rights Activist

    “I’m a Men’s Rights Activist.”

    #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Charles Clymer (@cmclymer) December 18, 2014

    His Mom Bought Dinner

    His mom paid for dinner. #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Jenna Amatulli (@ohheyjenna) December 18, 2014

    Hemingway Off Base

    #WorstDateIn5Words For Sale: baby shoes – worn.

    — Jesse Neil (@JTrainNeil) December 18, 2014

    Flashback To 2012

    #WorstDateIn5Words “I voted for Mitt Romney”

    — coolgal518 (@quintywinties) December 18, 2014

    IT’S A TRAP

    #WorstDateIn5Words
    “Does this smell like chloroform”

    — Brett (@Brett_B_) December 18, 2014

    Oh, Baby

    “I think my water broke.” #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Michael Kimmel (@mkimml) December 18, 2014

    [Shiver]

    “Let’s go see One Direction” #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Andrien Gbinigie (@EscoBlades) December 18, 2014

    That Never Ends Well

    I’m not a racist but #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Bridie Jabour (@bkjabour) December 18, 2014

    Neither Does This

    “White people experience racism, too!” #WorstDateIn5Words

    — SocialJusticeKrieger (@UnseenPerfidy) December 18, 2014

    Three’s A Crowd

    She brought her boyfriend along #WorstDateIn5Words pic.twitter.com/ZLh6gRZPbD

    — Rich Mason (@heyitsRichMason) December 18, 2014

    Gotta Stay Moisturized

    “Lotion goes in the basket.” #WorstDateIn5Words

    — TODD SPENCE (@Todd_Spence) December 18, 2014

    Damn You, Chris Hardwick

    Sorry, hang on – hashtag war… #WorstDateIn5Words

    — TrivWorks (@TrivWorks) December 18, 2014

    Check, Please!

    Hey, where’d my kidney go? #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Bryan Behar (@bryanbehar) December 18, 2014

    Every Rose For Herself

    Boat sank, wouldn’t share raft!! #WorstDatein5Words pic.twitter.com/I80dGnALBa

    — Joey to the World! (@joemessin) December 18, 2014

    I’ll Show You My Record If You Show Me Yours

    #WorstDateIn5Words
    “Who DOESN’T have a felony?”

    — Roger Craig Smith (@RogerCraigSmith) December 18, 2014

    Tough Roomie Sitch

    “Ah, here’s my roommate: Mom.” #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Ethan Fixell (@EthanFixell) December 18, 2014

    Whoops, Gotta Run!

    #WorstDateIn5Words His ankle bracelet started beeping

    — PaulaInTulsaOK (@PaulaInTulsaOK) December 18, 2014

    Hat Game Level: Zero

    #WorstDateIn5Words the guy wore a fedora

    — Jennette McCurdy (@jennettemccurdy) December 18, 2014

    ‘Nuff Said

    Two more testicles than expected. #WorstDateIn5Words

    — Uncle D.L. (@VeryHeavyUncle) December 18, 2014

    “Ghostbusters” Rules

    There’s no Dana. Only Zuul. #WorstDateIn5Words pic.twitter.com/zr92II8c6e

    — Stay Puft (@staypuft) December 18, 2014

  • 5 Things Your SEO Strategy Needs to Focus on Entering 2015
    Yes, it is that time of the year again when everyone starts to predict what SEO will look like in the coming year. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. There are public updates as well as refreshes and tweaks that occur on a regular basis. Rather than throwing out theories or predictions, I want to discuss five things that you should already be focusing on as we enter 2015.

    1. ROI Should be the Metric You Track, Not Keyword Rankings

    Determining whether or not an SEO effort is successful based on keyword positions is completely reckless. Ranking reports that show your website is ranking high for a bunch of keywords looks great but it doesn’t always translate to leads, sales and revenue. In fact, some SEO companies will target low competition, virtually useless keywords, just so they can tell you that you are ranking #1 on Google.

    As a business owner, which statement would you want to hear from your SEO company?

    • Great news! Your website is number one on Google for the keyword ‘free widget information’ but we don’t know if it has produced any revenue. Buy, hey congrats — you are number one! Woo hoo!
    • Last month’s infographic was responsible for earning 72 inbound links and it also pulled in 67 leads, 18 sales and17,360 in revenue.

    Is a fancy keyword ranking report more beneficial or knowing what your return on investment was? If you aren’t measuring the success of your SEO effort in terms of ROI now is the time to start.

    2. Earning Links Instead of Building Them

    Inbound links are going to remain the biggest signal, or vote of confidence in terms of authority and trust, that Google uses in their algorithm. This isn’t going to change. Not in 2015 and probably not in the years to come.

    For the past couple of years the focus has turned to building high quality links. Well, this has evolved into a hybrid SEO-Public Relations approach, and watch for more companies to combine their SEO strategy with a more traditional PR approach moving forward.

    Earning a single link on a high quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic and brand exposure. Look for traditional PR and SEO to work hand-in-hand in 2015.

    3. Optimize for Mobile Traffic

    Back in 2012 ComScore predicted that mobile traffic would exceed desktop traffic in 2014, and they were correct. You can take a look at this infographic for more information from that report. Google loves responsive websites and they make it perfectly clear that they feel the best user experience is achieved via a responsive design. There is now a “mobile-friendly” notation next to websites in the mobile search results that Google deems to be mobile friendly. Bing has also made it public that they prefer a single responsive URL. If your website mobile friendly? Run it through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to quickly find out.

    4. Pay Attention to the Red Headed Stepchildren Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo

    Every year the million-dollar question is, “Can anyone step up and compete with Google and capture a larger percentage of the search volume?” Will this happen in 2015? While Google will remain top dog, there have been some recent events that signal that some of the other search engines could capture a bit more of that share in the coming year.

    Firefox ended their deal with Google, and Yahoo is now the default search engine for the browser. Google’s deal also ends with Safari in 2015, and reports have both Bing and Yahoo trying to ink that deal. The option to switch default browsers in iOS 8 and OS X from Google to DuckDuckGo also exists. You need to have visibility across all search engines since options other than Google becoming available.

    5. Smarter More Defined Social Media Presence

    Years ago social media was simply a platform to share content, so businesses would sign up for every social platform available. It is now a very powerful marketing channel and customer service channel. Your social audience expects you to engage with them on a more personal level.

    It is more effective to focus on two or three social media platforms and be extremely active and accommodating. This not only helps you generate more leads, sales and revenue for your business, but it also helps to build a very loyal following that will share your content. This can introduce new people to your brand and even present opportunities to earn links.

    Want additional free online marketing tips? Make sure you sign up for the Market Domination Media weekly newsletter. Click here to instantly download a free copy of “The Complete A-Z Online Marketing Strategy Guide” and sign up to receive free online marketing tips in your inbox every week.

  • A Timeline Of Events That Led To The End Of 'The Interview'
    Even after a massive cyber attack was perpetrated against Sony Pictures by hackers, it still appeared that Sony would release “The Interview” in theaters. Stars Seth Rogen and James Franco were participating in interviews and the studio went ahead with the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles. “Before we start this, honestly, we just want to thank [Sony Pictures co-chair] Amy Pascal for having the balls to make this fucking thing!” Rogen said to the rowdy crowd on Dec. 11. Six days later, “The Interview” was pulled from release altogether. Ahead, a rundown of the events that led up to Sony’s controversial decision.

    Dec. 16

    Hackers make a threat against theaters that will show “The Interview.” “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” hackers wrote in a note posted on Dec. 16. “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.”

    Seth Rogen and James Franco cancel their media appearances. Either one or both of the stars were scheduled for multiple interviews, including appearances with Seth Meyers and BuzzFeed. Those were canceled in the wake of the threat.

    Sony tells theaters they can do what they want with the film. While Sony was not going to cancel release plans for “The Interview” on its own, the New York Times reported the company left the ultimate fate of the comedy in the hands of theater owners.

    Carmike Cinemas drops plans to screen “The Interview.” Based in Georgia, the company operates 278 theaters in 41 states.

    Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema cancels the New York premiere. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the theater made the call and not Sony.

    Dec. 17

    Malls pressure the major movie theater chains to drop the film. According to the Los Angeles Times, mall owners “were putting pressure on theaters to bail on the movie, fearing any threat could scare away consumers during the busiest shopping season of the year.”

    AMC Entertainment, Regal Entertainment, Cineplex Entertainment and Cinemark announce they won’t support “The Interview.” Combined with Carmike and some other small companies, approximately 1,646 movie theaters in North America won’t show the comedy. “Due to wavering support of the film ‘The Interview’ by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theaters,” a representative for Regal said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

    Sony pulls “The Interview” from theaters. The Sony statement:

    In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

    Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

    After rumors persist that Sony might release the film via on-demand services, the studio announces that likely won’t happen. “Sony Pictures has no further release plans for the film,” a spokesperson says. According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Matthew Belloni, that decision was potentially made with an eye toward insurance recovery.

    Dec. 18

    Sony announces it won’t release “The Interview” around the world either. It seems “no further release plans” extends to the international markets as well.

    A source tells BuzzFeed that a future release is possible. While there are “no discussions at this time” about the future of “The Interview,” BuzzFeed reports there “could be discussions at a later date.”

  • 5 Social Advertising Mistakes to Avoid
    All good things must come to an end. And sadly, we’re nearing the end of the golden age of organic reach. But there is saving grace. And that hope rests in social advertising. I know what you’re thinking… “$$$.” And while it’s true that paid social can be costly, the ability to target specific subsections of your audience — with content that appeals to them specifically — is a worthwhile investment.

    That being said, that investment is completely wasted if you’re not effectively running these paid campaigns. And too many brands are committing grave errors during the process.

    Here are the top five mistakes marketers make when it comes to social advertising… and how you can avoid making them.

    Watch this video or continue reading.

    Mistake #1: Not Running Enough Tests

    You can’t just put ads out there, sit back and wait for them to work. Social campaigns need adequate planning — and it’s just as much about mathematics as it is about copywriting and design.

    You might have an ad that has always outperformed others, supported by five years of data. You may know your social audience inside out — you know their interests and you know what content they respond best to. It this situation, the temptation is to just keep targeting the same audience segment with the same style of creative using those winning copy lines.

    Resist this urge to rely on templates. No matter how experienced you are or how much historical data you have, social media can always throw you a curve ball.

    The rule of thumb is to use at least 5-10 percent of your media budget for testing.

    If 10 percent testing produces insightful results, step it up and see if you can learn more. Don’t go nuts though, as you don’t want to fall foul of mistake #2 (you’ll see what I’m talking about in a moment).

    Whether these tests involve a different audience, alternative copy or creative tweaks, it’s about challenging preconceived ideas about what works for your brand, market sector or the platforms that you use.

    Mistake #2: Running Too Many Tests

    Your first test throws up a gem and your latest social campaign is your best yet. You are sold on testing. For your next campaign, you go all out and variant test 37 different images of horses to 43 audience segments in 36 countries.

    Dial it back.

    Testing isn’t just throwing variants out there and then just seeing what comes back. Depending on the size of your budget, horse image 7B might only be exposed to 17 people in Portugal. Your sample size is way too small. Even if that image wins, you’ve learned absolutely nothing.

    The number of people exposed to each variant needs to be large enough to take randomness out of the equation.

    Flip a coin three times and it’s quite possible you’ll get three heads. Flip a coin 100,000 times and it’s very hard to deviate very far from a 50-50 split of heads and tails. Having a big enough sample size is the way to ensure that your results aren’t just a fluke.

    Sample size is a whole subject on its own that we can’t cover here, but for practical use you want to keep your sample sizes as large as your budget will allow. Although a sample of 400 will give you reasonably reliable results, 1,000 would be better, 10,000 would be even better, and so on. The larger the sample size, the more confidence you can have in your results.

    Testing is essential to social advertising success. But don’t go wild and start throwing money away on weird targeting options or an insane number of designs. Move slowly and iterate from your best performers. Then, when you have statistical proof that a variant is working, you can commit more spend to that variant.

    Mistake # 3. Confusing Correlation with Causation

    You have analyzed the data and found that the R coefficient is close to one (this is “nerd talk” for a perfect positive correlation between two sets of data). But did you really isolate every single factor and ensure that no other variables played a role?

    If there’s one thing that everyone should know about correlation, it’s this: correlation does not equal causation. Just because things are associated, you can’t infer that one causes the other.

    Marketers unfortunately still see a statement like: “There is a correlation between using our social media tool and increased car sales.” And interpret its meaning as: “Using our tool will get more people to buy cars.”

    That’s simply not true.

    Always ask yourself what other events could have influenced the relationship between data sets A and B. Then test against those other variables. While this will help, also keep in mind that you can’t prove causation without conducting a proper experiment that isolates all of the variables.

    Mistake #4: Not Monitoring Comments Under Unpublished Posts

    Your customer care team is doing a stellar job — all incoming messages from Facebook and Twitter are processed and dealt with in a timely manner. But then, for some unknown reason, customer satisfaction plummets. Why?

    Dark Facebook posts or unpublished tweets are the culprits.

    Unpublished posts are fantastic — they let you test content without showing these posts to your entire audience. But there’s a problem when one team (or agency) runs your paid and a separate team/agency handles the day-to-day community management: neglected comments. These dark posts still get shares, likes and comments, but nobody is monitoring them because they don’t fall under organic activity on Facebook and Twitter.

    When customers reply to your paid content on social channels, they expect the same responses as your normal posts. And if you neglect them, they’ll be just as unhappy. Their experience with your brand is tarnished as a result.

    There is a simple fix for this dilemma: use an integrated paid social platform. That’s a fancy way of saying that you should make sure your social media management software can also house your paid social activities. This ensures that all engagements are routed into the normal workflow. A comment on a dark post will find its way to your community managers and receive the necessary TLC. Regardless of the channel (organic or paid), you want to deliver the same positive brand experience for your customers.

    Mistake #5: Doing Everything Manually

    You probably have the best paid team out there. They don’t even mind working nights and weekends. But this doesn’t mean they should. Manual tasks that don’t require human skill shouldn’t be done by humans.

    You don’t need someone to constantly check the performance of campaigns, or wait and see how organic posts perform, before you adjust your spend. If you have certain parameters (e.g. engagement rate) that you are waiting for these posts to hit, you can preset these and then automate the process using workflows in your platform. And frankly, you should.

    In the time it takes to pull reports, analyze them, then argue back and forth as to whether you should boost a post… that post might not even be relevant anymore. You’ve missed your opportunity.

    Let your paid platform automate as many tedious tasks as possible, so that you can save your team valuable time and brain power.

    But… it’s important to not blindly promote posts based on engagement metrics. Sentiment must be taken into account. One post might have a higher engagement than the other one, but there could be more negative comments than positive on the first one. Your automation platform must be sophisticated enough to take sentiment into account.

    Paid media strategies are a part of the overall brand experience

    Optimizing your paid social benefits your brand financially — ensuring that your dollars aren’t wasted. But more importantly, it’ll also help you create better and more consistent brand experiences. Simple tweaks like resolving dark posts in the same environment as regular posts go a long way in showing your customers that you’re there for them at every touchpoint.

    If you want to dive deeper into the topic and the “how-to” magic behind smart paid social strategies, download this e-book “Everything You Need to Know About Paid Social“.

  • Coming Soon: Cell Phones That See Like We Do
    By Noah J. Nelson (@noahjnelson)

    We may call the devices in our pockets “smartphones,” but they are relatively blunt instruments. Designed to respond to our commands usually inputed as text; although a shaky understanding of the spoken word is slowly dawning on them. They have “eyes” to see in the form of cameras, but what these devices know about the world around them is limited. Not so “smart,” after all.

    All that is about to change.

    You may have heard of Google’s Project Tango, a mobile phone that is the first to bring the magic of “machine vision” to mobile. Recently I had the chance to talk with the CEO of the company that makes the chip that powers Tango– the Myriad– Remi El-Ouazzane of Movidius.

    El-Ouazzane joined from technology mainstay Texas Instruments, and has become the company’s chief evangelist–sharing the company’s vision of a future where machines not only see, but understand the world around them.

    “If we are to enable machines to see the way humans do,” said El-Ouazzane, “they must be able to capture images as well as process them to extract an understanding of what it sees. To extract understanding, machines need to run complex vision algorithms to detect and track specific objects, or to recognize the environment by extracting 3D models of the scene, or enable interaction with the environment with augmented and virtual elements in a seamless way.”

    The first wave of applications, which will make their way to head-mounted displays, wearable cameras and drones include a veritable laundry list of capabilities according to El-Ouazzane: from rapid auto-focus and extreme low light all the way to object detection, and modeling and scanning for 3D printing with practically every stop along the way you can imagine just this side of teleportation.

    More interesting than the list of features the chips will unlock is what happens when the devices are able to do some of the thinking for themselves.

    “For example,” said El-Ouazzane, “smart home automation devices will be able to adjust house settings based on who is in the house and movement patterns thanks to the ability to do visual sensing accurately in real-time. Also, wearable cameras carried around the neck or on a lapel will extract intelligence from the scene; for example, the device will guide a blind person on the street or inside a store or recognize and remember the name of the person the user is speaking with.”

    Those who follow the tech world closely know that a lot of these applications have been running around the lab or have been available with special equipment. What’s changing now is the ability to pack this technology into mobile devices.

    “The biggest hurdle has been the mismatch between hardware and software algorithms. Machine vision requires extremely capable hardware to ensure it can run smoothly in real-time. Hardware has just now started to offer enough performance to align with these software requirements, allowing mobile devices to run tasks that would’ve been too complex for a phone just a few years ago.

    “Despite this progress, most devices still struggle with the more complex machine vision tasks like feature recognition or mapping a space using a camera, placing greater strain on the core components of a mobile device. This is why our technology is a crucial element for mobile devices looking to use machine vision. It helps compensate for some of the aspects that traditional hardware may struggle with, freeing up the technology to provide a more seamless experience to consumers.”

    You might find yourself wondering, as I did, why there is a need for a dedicated chip for these kinds of functions. Why not just run detection software on a mobile CPU. The chips in our phones now, after all, are as powerful as desktop computers from a few years ago.

    “This ultimately comes down to providing the best experience to users,” said El-Ouazzane. “A CPU is designed to generally handle a wide range of tasks, from the Android operating system to managing your music library or running any and every app. The CPUs are very flexible, and they can be programmed to handle a diverse range of workloads, but this makes them naturally inefficient if you were to use them to enhance machine vision processing.

    “To burden the CPU or other resources on the general purpose Applications Processor (e.g. GPU, DSP) with the task of image or vision processing, would result in a limited experience with excessive latency (i.e. processing time) and higher power that might drain battery life more quickly. This is the same reason we use GPUs for graphics intensive work on the display side. They are specifically designed for rendering and shading and display-specific tasks that free the CPU to work on other operations.”

    Movidius’s Myriad series, updated to the Myriad 2 this past July, does for vision processing what GPUs do for graphics. Complex algorithms are accomplished with limited power consumption.

    “And by keeping the machine vision processing very close to the camera sensor on such a specialized chip, we are providing users with a low power, high performance platform that dramatically decreases latency (compute time) for machine vision tasks.”

    Of course I couldn’t talk with a CEO about whiz-bang future tech without asking him what his company’s advancements meant for gaming and entertainment.

    “Imagine being able to map a real world space through a camera on your phone into a virtual world instantaneously in real-time for use as the backdrop in a video game–for example, think of a real-time Minecraft but based on what your camera sees. Better machine vision technology would allow phone to accurately map the surrounding world, extracting things like depth from images to create a more realistic experience.”

    The kicker however, is that El-Ouazzane said that the Myriad chips could provide a solution to a problem that’s been working in the background against the wide adoption of commercial virtual reality:

    “Better machine vision technology can greatly reduce the latency or “motion sickness” currently hurting the VR industry. By cutting down on the lag a user experiences (namely, the frame refresh rate and reaction time), we can deliver a more fluid experience that better engages people in the technology.”

    We’ve already seen the adoption of external sensor cameras in VR set-ups from both Oculus and Sony. More energy efficient chips that were powering the same tracking processes could mean a sped up adoption of head-mounted displays as mobile devices acted as either trackers, or as trackers and displays combined.

    Imagine, if you will, a version of the Samsung Gear VR–or a competing device–that was able to reckon a tracking model using what it was able to “see” around it without external markers. This would allow for the kind of quality we get from systems with an “observer” camera all while relying on a single device.

    What can’t we see yet?

    That would be the world that will come to pass when technology like the Myriad series is as commonplace as GPUs and the motion sensing chips that are currently getting packed into smartphones.

    Public media’s TurnstyleNews.com, covers tech and digital culture from the West Coast.

    Go to Turnstylenews.com | Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Tumblr

  • Social shopping takes off in Asia
    The latest trend driving Asian spending sprees

Mobile Technology News, December 18, 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.

  • Alamo Drafthouse In Dallas/Fort Worth To Show 'Team America' Instead Of 'The Interview'
    Sony may have pulled “The Interview” in wake of hacker threats, but at least one movie theater isn’t letting North Korea off the hook. The Alamo Drafthouse is planning to run “Team America: World Police” in its place at its Dallas/Forth Worth location.

    We’re just trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation,” creative manager and programmer James Wallace of the Richardson, Tex., theater told The Hollywood Reporter.

    The 2004 musical by “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone features an all-puppet cast, with a puppet version of North Korea’s then-dictator Kim Jong Il as its foul-mouthed main villain.

    (NOTE: The clips in this piece, and some of the text below, contain NSFW language.)

    On its website for the event, the Alamo Drafthouse is promising to turn the movie into both a singalong and a quote-a-long:

    “We’ll have subtitles for all the songs and all of our favorite quotes, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to scream out ‘AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!’ at the top of your lungs. And yeah, we will have American flags, red white and blue streamers, balloons, and more for everyone. And THAT is how true American heroes will be celebrating this year, but if you want to let the terrorists win…well, that’s your prerogative.”

    North Korea had no official reaction to “Team America,” at the time. Kim died in 2011, leaving his son — and “The Interview” target — Kim Jong Un in charge.

    His regime has been angry over “The Interview” since Sony began promoting it earlier this year. The U.S. government has linked the Sony hack attack to Pyongyang.

    The Dallas/Forth Worth Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson, Tex., will show “Team America: World Police” on Dec. 27 at 7 p.m.

    (h/t Mediaite)

  • FBI Warned Theaters Of Potential Cyberattacks Over 'The Interview'
    BOSTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation released a warning on Tuesday, advising theaters and other businesses associated with Sony Corp’s Hollywood studio’s film “The Interview” that they could be targeted in cyberattacks.
    The private document, which was obtained by Reuters, said that “anyone associated with the production, distribution and promotion” of the film “could possibly become the target of cyberattacks.”
    Sony Pictures Entertainment pulled the film from its planned Dec. 25 release on Wednesday after top U.S. movie theater chains canceled plans to show it in the wake of a devastating hack at the Hollywood studio and threats on Tuesday of further attacks if it were shown. (Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
  • Sprint facing fines for charging customers for unwanted services
    Mobile phone service provider Sprint could be facing a fine of as high as $105 million or other disciplinary actions from the FCC after a study by the agency concluded that the carrier was willfully participating in a practice called “cramming,” in which users are often tricked into signing up for “premium” services (such as ringtones or special messages) from a third-party, which then adds monthly charges to the user’s bill. Like AT&T and T-Mobile before it, Sprint has run afoul of authorities for taking a cut of these scams, and thus having an incentive to allow them to continue, despite cus



  • Obama On Sony Hack: People Should 'Go To The Movies'
    President Barack Obama says that threats by the hackers responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment shouldn’t deter Americans from going to movie theaters over the holidays.

    In an interview with ABC News airing Wednesday, Obama said his administration is taking the breach seriously, but that moviegoers should feel safe.

    “Well, the cyberattack is very serious,” Obama said. “We’re investigating it. We’re taking it seriously. You know, we’ll be vigilant. If we see something that we think is serious and credible, then we’ll alert the public. But for now, my recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

    Last month, anonymous hackers breached Sony’s servers and began to release a series of document caches obtained from the company’s computer system. The leaks included a number of sensitive emails and files, including employee Social Security numbers, salary information and film scripts. The attack is believed to be in retaliation for “The Interview,” a comedy about an attempt to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    U.S. officials have reportedly determined determined that North Korea is behind the cyberattack.

    On Tuesday, the hackers threatened individuals going to see “The Interview,” invoking the September 11 terrorist attacks. The threat prompted several major movie theater companies to pull the film. On Wednesday, Sony canceled the film’s Christmas Day release and said it had “no further” plans to release it.

    Mitt Romney, Obama’s Republican rival in the 2012 presidential campaign, also addressed the threats, urging Sony to make “The Interview” available for free online:

    .@SonyPictures don’t cave, fight: release @TheInterview free online globally. Ask viewers for voluntary $5 contribution to fight #Ebola.

    — Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) December 18, 2014

  • U.S. Officials Determine North Korea Is Behind Sony Hack: Reports
    U.S. officials have determined that hackers working for North Korea are behind the Sony Pictures Entertainment attack, multiple news outlets reported Wednesday.

    According to NBC, the hack originated outside of North Korea, but appears to have been carried out by individuals working for the North Korean government.

    Sony began working with law enforcement earlier this month following the November breach on the entertainment company’s servers by anonymous hackers. The hack resulted in the leak of many sensitive emails and documents, including film scripts. The attack was believed to be in retaliation for the release of “The Interview,” a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.

    While officials told the AP and CNN that an announcement would come in the near future, The New York Times reports that the White House is still weighing how it will respond to the attack:

    Senior administration officials, who would not speak on the record about the intelligence findings, said the White House was still debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea of what amounts to a cyberterrorism campaign.

    Officials said it was not clear how the White House would decide to respond to North Korea. Some within the Obama administration argue that the government of Mr. Kim must be directly confronted, but that raises the question of what consequences the administration would threaten — or how much of its evidence it could make public without revealing details of how the United States was able to penetrate North Korean computer networks to trace the source of the hacking.

    The FBI, who is leading the investigation into the Sony hack, warned theaters and other businesses associated with the film that they could be targeted by cyberattacks.

    Earlier Wednesday, Sony announced it was canceling plans to release the film on Christmas Day after the nation’s largest movie theater chains said it would pull the film from their screens due to threats by the hackers invoking 9/11.

    “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” the film studio said in a statement. “We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.”

    A Sony representative later said the company has “no further release plans” for the film.

    This is a developing story and has been updated.

  • 14 Nerdy Gift Ideas For The Star Wars Fanatic In Your Life
    As Jabba the Hutt might say, bargon wan chee kospah ooh (“There will be no bargain!”). But don’t let that stop you from getting something nice for the Star Wars fan in your life this holiday season.

    Now’s the perfect time to buy your Star Wars items. Anticipation for the next film, “The Force Awakens,” is high following the release of a teaser trailer. But it’s not as high it will be next Christmas, when the movie will have just been released.

    There are perhaps as many bits of Star Wars merchandise as there are planets in the galaxy far, far away, but we’ve found a little something for everyone.

  • EU Bureaucrats Want to Dictate What Content Americans Can View on U.S.-Based Websites
    Freedom of speech suffered a serious blow when, last May, the European Union’s highest court, in the so-called “Right to be Forgotten” decision, ruled that Google must remove search results that infringe individual citizens’ privacy rights under EU law. A first amendment red line had been crossed. A major publisher of information — which is what Google, in its search business, most emphatically is — had been directed by government authorities to censor its content.

    But the impact on free speech could soon get much worse. Google has received over 186,000 requests for deletion of search results and has agreed to approximately 40 percent of those requests. It has complied with Right to be the Forgotten ruling by removing search results and links on the foreign language versions of the Google search engine serving EU member countries. (google.fr, google.de, google.it, etc.). Not from Google search engines worldwide, however; and most significantly, not from the English language version of Google seen in the US (google.com).

    But the EU now says that’s not enough.

    In new guidelines, the region’s privacy regulatory body interprets the Right to be Forgotten ruling as requiring Google, when removing search results and links, to remove them from all of the company’s search sites worldwide. “Limiting de-listing to EU domains . . .cannot be considered a sufficient means to satisfactorily guarantee the rights of data subjects according to the (Right to be Forgotten) ruling,” the guidelines declare. “In practice, this means that . . . de-listing should also be effective on all relevant domains, including .com.”

    That is a big step, one that even China, the master of internet censorship, has never taken. While China’s “Great Firewall” prevents Chinese citizens from accessing numerous websites based abroad — like FaceBook, most Google services, Twitter and the Wall Street Journal, to name some of the biggest — it does not try to block you or me from using those websites or to limit what we can see on those websites.

    Of course the Chinese government cares not at all about protecting the privacy interests of its people, which is what the Right to be Forgotten is about. The EU version of internet censorship, because of its relatively benign motivation, may seem to pose at most a minor threat to free speech. That, however, is a grave miscalculation.

    That the EU, or any foreign government, can dictate what Americans may read on U.S.-based websites is an alarming prospect. Although the Right to be Forgotten ruling, to date, may have affected content that is mostly trivial, the precedent of governmental censorship across borders, once established, can’t be easily confined to information that society doesn’t much care about.

    If bureaucrats in Belgium have the power to force Google’s removal, worldwide, of links to a Spanish citizen’s 10-year-old record of an arrest for marijuana possession, then they also have the power to purge all search engine links — including on the English language version of Google — to a Mother Jones magazine story about corrupt EU banks, or articles on Wired about EU members’ collaboration with NSA’s mass surveillance of European internet and phone traffic.

    The assault on first amendment safeguards consists of the exercise, by a foreign sovereign nation, of extra-territorial censorship–specifically, to deny US citizens access to information on US-based websites, accomplished through removal of links on Google (and other search engines) and, in some cases, removal of the linked content itself from the publishing website.

    It is one thing for a foreign nation to limit what its own citizens can find on the internet. It is quite another for that country to dictate what Americans can see on the internet.

    Extra-territorial censorship, a new phenomenon, is a form of governmental extortion made possible by the internet and the global reach of information businesses. Google is particularly vulnerable due to its size and the importance of particular foreign markets. Google can’t risk being excluded from the huge EU market. It’s share of EU internet search stands at about 85 percent, nearly three times as big as Google’s share of the China internet search market at its highest, before Google withdrew from direct competition inside China.

    The U.S. government has been on the sidelines of Google’s battles with the EU (which is also pressing an antitrust investigation against Google). Relations between Google and the Obama administration have chilled considerably as a result of revelations about the excesses of US intelligence agencies (which, quite apart from their harm to civil liberties, have hurt Google’s business with foreign customers).

    But the issue of foreign government censorship of Google — and through it, of the myriad U.S.-based news and content businesses to which Google links — cries out for U.S. government push-back against the EU. The administration has a responsibility both to protect American sovereignty and to assure that the first amendment’s guarantee of a free and independent press does not become a casualty of globalization.

    Peter Scheer, a lawyer and journalist, is executive director of the First Amendment Coalition. The views expressed here are his alone; they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the FAC Board of Directors.

  • 'Serial' Gets The Perfect Finale In This Funny Or Die Parody
    But, who did it?!

    That’s the only thing on “Serial” fans’ minds these days, since the podcast that took over the Internet will air its final episode on Thursday. In a new video fromFunny or Die, former “SNL” cast member Michaela Watkins stars as Sarah Koenig, obsessed with finding out who killed Hae Min Lee in 1999. “I don’t know anything!” she says.

    Oh, but look! There are the executives from Mail Chimp! “This child murder has been really great for Mail Krimp,” they say.

    Koenig, in real life, has said that we may not get a “Hollywood ending” out of the podcast, but in this video, we do.

  • VIDEO: US navy develops 'fish' robot
    The US military has been showing off its latest catch.
  • Growing the Next Generation of African Coders
    Everyone’s talking about it. It’s the topic of the moment. I’m doing it right now. Even President Obama’s doing it.

    It’s learning to code. codeX is doing it in Africa. Our mission is to train 100,000 African developers (or more) in the next 10 years (or less).

    Why?

    Africa is home to 200 million young people, soon to be the largest working age population in the world. Less than a third will graduate from high school and only 12% will get any sort of tertiary education.

    At the same time, Africa’s billion people are getting online faster than you can say “hit me on Whatsapp.” The number of Nigerians on Facebook doubles every quarter. Kenya has one of the highest tweeting populations in the world. Check out Chief Kariuki’s Twitter stream!

    So who is going to build Africa’s digital economy? It has to be Africans, because they know what the rising consumer class wants and what problems need to be solved. They also know how to solve them, once they have the tools. And at the moment, far too few do.

    2014-12-16-IMG_4003.jpg

    I’m writing this sitting in a computer lab in Kayamandi, a township of mainly informal shacks, outside of Stellenbosch. It’s only a 10 minute drive from Spier Wine Farm, where I’ve spent the last 3 incredible days at the first WPP Stream Africa, talking with and learning from some of the world’s most talented humans. Everyone there showed incredible support for codeX, and voted for us to win The Pitch, the last major event of the (very) un-conference.

    Sixteen hours after I stood onstage talking about how codeX addresses the Pitch brief for a social enterprise that tackles youth unemployment and empowerment, I’m watching Lindani Pani, one of the coders from our codeX pilot, mentor a group of young would-be coders through the Javascript course on Codecademy. The course is in English, but he’s advising them mainly in Xhosa, and they are flying through the modules. They don’t want to leave when the elderly staffer comes to lock up. And when she finds out they are learning “how to control the computer,” she asks me if she can come to the next session too.

    Running Open Days is part of our recruitment strategy to find the best talent, no matter where they come from. We’ve partnered with libraries and non-profits in some of Cape Town’s poorest areas to give computer access and mentors for free to people who want to learn coding basics, and we’ll take the stars into codeX in 2015. (We also have a crowdfunding campaign to run a 2 week bootcamp in January specifically for girls, because they are much harder to recruit.)

    2014-12-16-IMG_4156.jpg

    Lindani took a minibus taxi here from his home in Khayelitsha, another township nearby, where more than a million people live. Three months ago, Lindani was working as a salesman at a big box store, making $300 a month that he used to (just barely) feed his twin sons. He is one of the few who had a job at all. He had never seen a line of code, but he knew that computers could be controlled from taking a PC networking course at a local computer training center called Silulo Ulutho. And he wanted to learn how to do it.

    In the last 12 weeks, Lindani has built a personal website, a blog, an app to manage money in group saving collectives known locally as stokvels, and an app to increase transparency and efficiency in minibus taxis–since he uses one every day. Working in teams, using agile methods, he’s learned to code, but he’s also learned to learn — about user experience, about business models, and importantly, about his own learning experience itself. Today, he’s already passing what he’s learned onto another 6 young people from the surrounding shacks who showed up on a Saturday to learn to code.

    In South Africa, a starting salary for a junior developer is about $1000 per month, and it goes up exponentially from there. So once Lindani finishes codeX, he’s looking at about a 300% salary increase, just for starters.

    And that’s if he decides to go work for someone else at all. His real ambition is to start a company doing development work for other people, because he knows that while there are a whole lot of great ideas on the continent, there are not nearly enough people who can execute them. Yet.

    But what if there were an oversupply of developers in Africa?

    What problems could be solved once people are armed with the technological tools to solve them?

    Perhaps an app for informal moneylenders, the main source of accessing capital for most Africans, to track lending and borrowing? Perhaps a logistics management tool for health care workers delivering AIDS medicines around informal settlements? Perhaps a website to reduce corruption in the construction industry?

    Those are just a few of the prototypes our coders have already built. And that’s 8 of them in the first 3-month pilot (which we had 800 applications for).

    Imagine what 100,000 could do.

    We need your support to do it. Please get in touch if you want to get involved.

    @lsabeth3
    @project_codeX

  • AMC Theatres Tests Out Movie-A-Day Subscription For $45
    Call it Netflix, but for movie screenings.

    AMC Theatres will begin testing a subscription service next month that will allow subscribers to attend one film per day without paying for a ticket, the company announced on Tuesday.

    The service will cost up to $45 per month, and will only be available in Boston and Denver during the initial trial period. To create the service, AMC Theatres partnered with MoviePass, which helps create subscription packages for theaters. The new service will be called MoviePass Premium.

    AMC Theatres operates 4,959 screens in the United States, which makes it the second-largest theater chain in the country. But the company has faced dwindling audiences in recent years, which has forced it to try new ways of getting people in seats.

    “This pilot will provide more convenience for our guests, and responds to the preferences of many consumers for monthly subscriptions such as music and magazines, which we believe will increase the frequency of movie going,” Christina Sternberg, AMC’s senior vice president of corporate strategy and communications, said in a statement.

    Like the music and print magazine industries, movie theaters are struggling. The share of Americans who attended at least one screening this year held steady at 77 percent, but the number of films the average person saw in theaters dropped to 7.3 from 7.7 last year, according to the Nielsen 2014 Moviegoing Report released last week.

    Young people led the decline. Since 2007, moviegoing has become steadily less popular among people ages 12-24. This year, people in this age group saw an average of 7.1 movies in theaters, compared with 8.4 in 2013.

    nielsen moviegoing
    The number of people ages 12-24 attending movies has steadily fallen off since 2007.

    AMC’s main way of responding to that trend has been to increase prices. In the third quarter of this year, AMC jacked up its average ticket price to $9.48, a 5.3 percent spike, according to The New York Times.

    At that price, film buffs who go see one movie a day for the entire month of January would spend $293.88. By comparison, a $45 monthly subscription sounds like an offer you can’t refuse.

    AMC gets paid full price every time someone uses their Movie Pass, the Times noted. The bet is that most people won’t take full advantage of the deal. Indeed, if you wound up only seeing seven films a year, like the average American, you’d wind up shelling out $77 per movie.

  • Here's Every Guy You'll Meet On Tinder In Under Three Minutes
    Spoiler alert: you’re probably still single.

    Looking for a boyfriend in the age of Tinder has taken a lot of the pressure out of first dates. You swipe right, you choose a bar, you grab a drink and within an hour, you pretty much know if it’s going anywhere or not. But having your pick of the area’s most (and least) eligible bachelors at your fingertips can also be a bummer, especially when you realize that most of them are highly undatable.

    In a new sketch from Michelle Markowitz, David Ross and Stephen Parkhurst, one woman gets to experience all the joys that Tinder has to offer, including self-indulgent jerks, cheap, crabby idiots and the one guy who you could sort of see yourself with (if he didn’t live in another state).

  • Sprint Sued For 'Cramming' Cell Phone Customers
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Sprint Corp over unauthorized charges on customers’ cellphone bills, a practice known as cramming, in the agency’s first foray into mobile payments.

    Marking the third cramming-related government enforcement action this year, the CFPB alleges that from 2004 through 2013, the wireless carrier allowed third parties to charge consumers tens of millions of dollars for services like ringtones or text-message horoscopes that consumers had not requested, while keeping 40 percent of the gross revenue.

    The Federal Communications Commission is weighing a $105 million cramming fine against Sprint.

    “Sprint mistreated consumers egregiously by creating a billing system that invited illegal third-party charges and processed them in a highly irresponsible manner,” the CFPB’s director, Richard Cordray, said.

    Sprint expressed disappointment in being the target of the CFPB’s lawsuit and disputed the accusations, listing various steps it said it took to monitor third-party charges, such as hiring an outside compliance vendor and vetting billing companies.

    “We strongly disagree with (the CFPB’s) characterization of our business practices,” Sprint spokeswoman Stephanie Vinge Walsh said in a statement.

    “It appears the CFPB has decided to use this issue as the test case on whether it has legal authority to assert jurisdiction over wireless carriers,” she said in an email.

    In July, the Federal Trade Commission sued T-Mobile US Inc over similar billing issues, and in October, the FCC and the FTC settled such a case with AT&T Inc.

    For the CFPB, which oversees consumer financial products such as mortgages and credit cards, Wednesday’s case marked the first public action coordinated with the FCC.

    “If a company is processing payments over a mobile network, that’s something that the bureau has jurisdiction over,” the CFPB’s deputy enforcement director, Jeff Ehrlich, told reporters. “We’ll take action against anyone who violates the consumer financial protection laws.”

    FCC spokespeople said the FCC and the CFPB have agreed to continue close cooperation “on this and other cases on behalf of wireless customers nationwide.”

    Verizon Communications Inc is the only nationwide wireless carrier that so far has not been subject to government actions over cramming. The FCC’s investigation of T-Mobile is ongoing.

    Prodded by state attorneys general, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile last year agreed to stop billing customers for third-party services.

    The case is Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Sprint Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cv-9931.

    (Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by G Crosse and Leslie Adler)

  • Apple notifies iOS devs about Feb., June deadlines for 64-bit support
    Apple has issued a new notice to developers, reminding them of two important deadlines concerning 64-bit support in iOS apps. As was previously announced, those submitting new titles to the App Store must implement 64-bit support — and use the iOS 8 SDK — by February 1st. Additionally, the company now says that updates to existing titles must meet the same standards as of June 1st.



  • Largest Movie Theater Companies Drop 'The Interview' (UPDATE)
    UPDATE: Sony said in a statement that “The Interview” will not be released in theaters on Dec. 25.

    In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

    Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

    EARLIER: The five largest movie theater companies have dropped “The Interview” after threats from the Sony hack. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Cineplex Entertainment have joined Carmike Cinemas in pulling the film from release.

    Landmark Sunshine Cinemas also canceled its New York premiere of the film, and another Northeast chain with 55 locations, Bow Tie Cinemas, decided to abandon plans to show the film following the threats. “The safety and comfort of our patrons is foremost in our minds,” Bow Tie CEO Ben Moss told Variety. It was previously reported by TheWrap that ArcLight Cinemas would not show “The Interview,” but in a statement given to The Huffington Post, a representative said that no decision has been made.

    Carmike Cinemas, was first to drop “The Interview,” which is scheduled for release on Christmas Day. The decisions to pull “The Interview” come after a cyber hack against Sony Pictures threatened the theaters that showed the film. “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” a note published Tuesday read.

    When the threats surfaced, officials from the Department of Homeland Security told the Huffington Post that even though they were aware of the note, “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”

    Combined, these companies make up approximately 1,646 movie theaters in North America.

    “Due to wavering support of the film ‘The Interview’ by Sony Pictures, as well as the ambiguous nature of any real or perceived security threats, Regal Entertainment Group has decided to delay the opening of the film in our theaters,” a representative for Regal said in a statement to The Huffington Post.

    Representatives for Sony, as well as AMC, Cinemark and Cineplex Entertainment were not immediately available for comment. According to Variety, Sony executives have reportedly discussed releasing “The Interview” via on-demand services.

    A previous version of this story stated that ArcLight Cinemas had pulled “The Interview.”

  • Colliding Galaxies Mount 'Spectacular Light Show' In New NASA Image
    Just in time for the holidays, NASA has released a new photo showing a spectacular light show created by a pair of merging galaxies 130 million light-years from Earth.

    The photo is a composite image of the spiral galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163, located in the constellation Canis Major.

    (Story continues below image.)
    merging galaxies
    Spiral galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163.

    The image is a mash-up of X-rays captured by NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory (shown in pink), visible light data from the Hubble Space Telescope (shown in red, green, and blue), and infrared data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (shown in red).

    What makes NGC 2207 and IC 2163 look so dazzling? Together, the galaxies are home to 28 separate “ultraluminous” X-ray sources. The X-rays they produce are more intense than those produced by most star systems.

    NGC 2207 and IC 2163 were discovered by English astronomer John Herschel in 1835.

  • The Best Apps for Your Bright or Gifted Child
    When it comes to electronics, no mother or father, or grandparent or caregiver, it seems, is immune to the often challenging, frustrating, enlightening and educational tug of war relationship their child has (daily) with the almighty smartphone, tablet or other mobile device. As a parent, we struggle with how much time we should allow our child to “play” on these brave new modes of technology. We wonder what content and types of applications we should approve for our children’s absorbent minds. We struggle with the right rules to put in place for these post-modern toys and games.

    As parents of bright children, we waffle between not wanting our children to be plugged in too much and the realization that some of these systems of entertainment are actually providing our children with solid, goal-oriented problem solving skills and means of achievement not found elsewhere. It is indeed a balancing act but one that, if navigated wisely, can prove fruitful to our children and ourselves.

    With the holiday season upon us, we have an opportunity to both foster our children’s love of these apps as well as provide holiday presents that are extremely low in cost. It is a win-win situation, allowing us to get our children something they will love, continue stimulating their minds in ways that allow them to fine tune their smarts in the guise of actually having fun, and it doesn’t hurt our pocket books to do so.

    One important note is that apps are for all different age groups so it is important to evaluate them first before deciding if they are appropriate for your child. One way to check is to visit the Common Sense Media website which provides ratings on a variety of scales regarding the suitability of apps (along with movies, books, TV. shows and video games).

    Here are some great ideas to get you going providing something for every kind of budding child from the curious scientist to the prodigy mathematician to the creative artist to the meticulous engineer:

    1. Animoto – an app that turns photos into professional videos with the addition of music and text.

    2. NASA – an app for following NASA videos, mission information and latest news while exploring over 13,000 images from the archives of space.

    3. Simple Physics – an app for designing and simulating structures like tree houses and carnival rides.

    4. SketchBook Pro - an app for unleashing creativity on the screen as if it were a canvas: draw, paint, sketch the imagination into fruition.

    5. Trainyard - an app for strategizing the drawing of puzzle-like train tracks in order to get colored trains to their corresponding stations.

    6. Words With Friends – Scrabble-like tile word game that can be played with friends over mobile applications.

    7. Wikipanion - an app giving access to the online encyclopedia source that allows easy search, navigation and display of entries plus bookmarking features.

    8. BrainPOP Featured Movie - an app that features a new movie everyday. After watching the movie, a quiz pops up to test comprehension and memory.

    9. Playtime Theater - an app for creating a puppet show inside a customizable interactive castle with provided characters, props and sound effects and the ability to record the shows.

    10. GarageBand – turns your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch into a collection of Touch instruments and a full-featured recording studio.

    I hope these ideas will entertain, engage and educate your children during this holiday season. Happy Holidays!

  • Briefly: Mujjo's gray wallet iPhone case, Google Wallet update
    Mujjo has introduced its Leather Wallet Case line-up for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in gray, as part of its Desaturated Collection. The wallet case is designed to hold two to three essential cards without sacrificing a thin profile. The case is available in two styles for iPhone 6 – one with the card slot angled upright and the other with an 80 degree angle pocket – and the 80 degree angle pocket case is available for iPhone 6 Plus. Pricing for the Desaturated Collection begins at $40, and cases can be purchased through Mujjo.



  • New Blackberry 'back to its roots'
    Blackberry launches what it calls a “no-nonsense” smartphone in a bid to win back business customers.

Mobile Technology News, December 17, 2014

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

  • Sony Hacking Fallout Explodes As Theaters Cancel 'The Interview' Showings
    NEW YORK (AP) — Threats of violence against movie theaters. Cancelled showings of “The Interview.” Leaks of thousands more private emails. Lawsuits by former employees that could cost tens of millions in damages.

    The fallout from the hack that began four weeks ago exploded Tuesday after the shadowy group calling themselves Guardians of Peace escalated their attack beyond corporate espionage and threatened moviegoers with violence reminiscent of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Department of Homeland Security said there was “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters,” but noted it was still analyzing messages from the group, dubbed GOP. The warning did prompt law enforcement in New York and Los Angeles to address measures to ramp up security.

    Those security fears spurred Sony to allow theater chains to cancel showings of the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy “The Interview,” that has been a focus of the hackers’ mission to bring down Sony. Carmike Cinemas, which operates 247 theaters across the country, was the first to cancel its planned showings of the film, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It remains to be seen if other chains will follow suit.

    GOP also released a trove of data files including 32,000 emails to and from Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton in what it called the beginning of a “Christmas gift.”

    And two former Sony film production workers filed lawsuits alleging the Culver City, California company waited too long to notify nearly 50,000 employees that data such as Social Security numbers, salaries and medical records had been stolen.

    The filing follows another lawsuit this week from two other former Sony employees accusing the studio of being negligent by not bolstering its defenses against hackers before the attack. It claims emails and other leaked information show that Sony’s information-technology department and its top lawyer believed its security system was vulnerable to attack, but that company did not act on those warnings. Sony potentially faces tens of millions of dollars in damages from a class-action lawsuit, said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment law professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

    In “The Interview,” Rogen and Franco star as television journalists involved in a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Speculation about a North Korean link to the Sony hacking has centered on that country’s angry denunciation of the film. Over the summer, North Korea warned that the film’s release would be an “act of war that we will never tolerate.” It said the U.S. will face “merciless” retaliation.

    The film’s New York premiere is scheduled for Thursday at Manhattan’s Landmark Sunshine, and it is expected to hit theaters nationwide on Christmas Day. It premiered in Los Angeles last week.

    But on Tuesday Rogen and Franco pulled out of all media appearances, canceling a Buzzfeed Q&A and Rogen’s planned guest spot Thursday on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.” A representative for Rogen said he had no comment. A spokeswoman for Franco didn’t respond to queries Tuesday.

    The FBI said it is aware of the GOP’s threats and “continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate this matter.” FBI director James Comey last week said that investigators are still trying to determine who is responsible for the hack.

    The New York Police Department, after coordinating with the FBI and Sony, plans to beef up security at the Manhattan premiere, said John Miller, the NYPD’s top counterterrorism official.

    “Having read through the threat material myself, it’s actually not crystal clear whether it’s a cyber response that they are threatening or whether it’s a physical attack,” Miller said. “That’s why we’re continuing to evaluate the language of it, and also the source of it. I think our primary posture is going to be is going to have a police presence and a response capability that will reassure people who may have heard about this and have concerns.”

    Following a commission meeting earlier Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said his department takes the hackers’ threats “very seriously” and will be taking extra precautions during the holidays at theaters. The National Association of Theatre Owners had no comment on the developing situation. Neither Sony nor representatives from individual theater chains, including Carmike, responded to requests for comment.

    Since the hack surfaced late last month, everything from financial figures to salacious emails between top Sony executives has been dumped online.

    The nearly 32,000 emails to and from Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Lynton leaked Tuesday include information about casting decisions and total costs for upcoming films, release schedules for Sony films through 2018 and corporate financial records, such as royalties from iTunes, Spotify and Pandora music services. They include information about new electronics devices such as DVD players and cell phones. They also include budget figures for the Motion Picture Association of America, of which Sony is a member, and at least one email about a senior Sony executive who left the company. The emails also include banal messages about public appearances, tennis matches, home repairs, dinner invitations and business introductions.

    In their warning Tuesday, the hackers suggested Sony employees make contact via several disposable email addresses ending in yopmail.com. Frenchman Frederic Leroy, who started up the yopmail site in 2004, was surprised to learn the Sony hackers were using yopmail addresses. He said there was no way he could identify the users.

    “I cannot see the identities of people using the address … there is no name, no first name,” he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. He said yopmail is used around the world but there are “hundreds and hundreds” of other disposable email sites.

    Leroy, who lives in Barr, outside Strasbourg in eastern France, said he heard about the Sony hackers yesterday on the radio but knows nothing more. He said he has not been contacted by any authorities.

    ___

    Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington, D.C., Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles, Jake Coyle and Tom Hays in New York and Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.

  • Carmike Cinemas Pulls Sony's 'The Interview' Amid Threats
    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carmike Cinemas has decided to cancel its planned showings of “The Interview” in the wake of threats against theatergoers by the Sony hackers.

    Sony Pictures Entertainment told theater owners on Tuesday that it would be supportive of their individual decisions on whether or not to show the film, which is still set for a Christmas release, according to multiple reports. The late developments came just hours after the hackers released a data dump that they’re calling a “Christmas gift.” Included in the latest breach are emails from Sony Pictures co-chair and CEO Michael Lynton, as well as specific threats against patrons of the comedy, which depicts an assassination attempt against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    In a chilling message invoking the memory of 9/11, the hackers urged audiences to stay away from venues showing the film.

    Carmike Cinemas operates 278 theaters across the country and is the first theater to pull the screenings of the controversial film, according to Hollywood trade publications The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

    The Georgia-based company is the fourth largest cinema chain in the nation, following Regal, AMC, and Cinemark, none of whom commented on their plans for “The Interview” showings.

    The Department of Homeland Security has said that there is no credible intelligence to indicate a threat, but is still investigating the message.

    The National Association of Theatre Owners had no comment about pulling of the film by its members. Neither Sony nor representatives from Carmike responded to requests for comment.

  • Apparently, The Holiday Season Is Also Cheating Season (INFOGRAPHIC)
    ‘Tis the season for cuffing — and for some people, that’s true even if they’re already in relationships.

    Mobile dating app Clover announced this week that there’s been a 300 percent increase in sign-ups from people already in existing relationships during the month of December.

    Take that data with a grain of salt, though; of the 150,000 respondents, only 6 percent of women were already dating someone, compared to 4.5 percent of men — a very small percentage of Clover’s user base overall.

    Check out more of Clover’s findings below:

    cheat

    Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Divorce on Facebook and Twitter. Sign up for our newsletter here.

  • Ideas for Increasing the Numbers of Women Tech Leaders
    A recent piece on the New Yorker‘s financial page titled “Valley Boys” caught my eye. Its discussion focused on demographic reports released this year from big tech companies. To sum it up, the reports and article described tech as a “man’s world.” As a computer scientist, technology executive and woman, I am troubled and puzzled by this characterization. I wonder: why are there so few women leaders like me in technology companies? Also, what might we do to change the environment so that fewer biases block women’s success in my field?

    As the New Yorker piece points out, the numbers look grim: 45 percent of tech companies don’t have a single female top executive. The number of female computer science majors is dwindling. I’ve written before about how to inspire more women to pursue careers in technology fields. Inspiring them to aspire to tech management is even harder, especially when articles like the New Yorker‘s draw attention to the daunting, uphill battle that women in tech can face.

    When I consider how to inspire other women to think about their long-term careers in technology, I want to encourage them to think big. There really is no reason more women can’t reach leadership positions in tech like I have, and those of us already here can help with that.

    I have three ideas that I think will help companies to become “bias interrupters” as the New Yorker references. These ideas will help to grow the number of women succeeding in tech and growing into positions of tech leadership.

    1) Women tech leaders need to tell their stories.

    Women executives in technology need to tell their stories, not just the one about breaking the glass ceiling but also about our paths to careers in tech. This brief “elevator pitch” can inspire others to see themselves in our shoes longer-term. For me, I’ve talked often about my parents raising me gender-neutral, with the same expectations, toys and activities that they’d have offered a son. This helped me to develop in a way that led me to feel my choices were wide open and not limited by my gender. Whether raising sons or daughters, sometimes our kids just need to hear “you can do it,” whether they’re on a soccer field or thinking about majoring in computer science in college. Positive encouragement goes a long way from parents and also from role models in fields that young women are considering. In telling our stories, we need to be honest about the mistakes we made and obstacles we scaled, too, so that younger women can learn from us.

    2) Tech leaders need to think actively about eliminating prejudice and increasing fairness in all processes, from hiring to retention to managing ongoing cultural shifts.

    To change the conversation about women in tech from how few of us are here to how many of us might get here, we have to begin at the beginning. How might companies change their recruiting and interviewing policies to attract more women? The New Yorker remarks on how Google asks the same interview questions of all candidates. This would be a great policy for all tech companies to adopt.

    Then there’s the problem of retention. Women who get here often don’t stay. Why? I’ve written before about the “brogrammer” culture, and this is one major reason. It turns women off. Companies need to find a way to eliminate it. Hiring more women will help, but, until then, blending gender on teams and paying careful attention to leading in a gender-neutral way will help.

    It is important to keep discussing gender-balance in the workplace, as numerous studies have shown how gender-balance is a net-positive for a company. More balanced teams are more innovative and successful. Open and honest internal conversations, as I’ve done with our women’s leadership group at RingCentral, help. Raising the conversation with other professionals, as in this recent piece I wrote for Project Eve, is important, too.

    So often, companies think of how their products might be disruptive in industry. We could ask ourselves the same question by turning inward: how might we disrupt the way companies are run by doing things differently? How might hiring, retaining and promoting more women improve our company’s culture for both genders?

    3) Tech managers can encourage our employees to focus on and build on their strengths.

    Knowing both what you are good at and also that you are good at it counts for a lot in this field. In my case, I know that my strengths include solving hard technical problems as well as motivating teams to be innovative. The more I focus on my strengths, the stronger they become, and the more people notice and consider me expert in those areas. Good managers must pay gender-neutral attention to employee confidence. It is known that men will advocate for themselves more than women. If we are to hire and retain more women, we must promote them more, too. This may mean that we have to help them speak up for themselves more. I consider it a “win” when I hear any employee, male or female, say “I’m good at that.” Confidence is among the best assets an employee can have.

    It’s also disruptive for women not to conform to a “norm.” I have spoken about how I’ve never been uncomfortable working alongside men, even tolerating their sports-talk and cigar bars. Sure, I’m a woman — one who always enjoyed playing sports. I’m also one who will wear skirts and heels to the office. I don’t have to be one way or the other. “Norms” disappear and workplaces become more gender-neutral when we treat each other more like we’re the same than like we’re different because of our gender.

    Even if companies do all of these things, it’s going to be hard work to get more women in tech and in tech leadership positions. I am convinced that the best route is to start somewhere: get more women to join tech companies, including some who aspire to leadership. Support them strongly and help them evolve into role models who will encourage more of the same. With 45 percent of tech companies absent women executives, there are too few women like me who young computer scientists can imagine as themselves 20 years down the line. The more we focus strategically on these issues now, the better for diversity in leadership – and successful innovation – in the longer run.

    See more posts on women in technology, innovation and more by clicking here to link to Kira’s personal blog.

    You can also find Kira on Twitter by clicking here.

  • Heather McDonald Sounds Off On Instagram's Nipple Ban
    Comedian Heather McDonald doesn’t blame Instagram for its highly-disputed ban on nipples.

    In a conversation with HuffPost Live, the host of the forthcoming TLC series “All About Sex” said Instagram has a responsibility to protect users from pornographic photos.

    “Instagram has those rules to protect from pornography and things like that, and kids are on it,” McDonald said. “When they [Instagram] take down someone’s nipple photo, it’s not because they hate women.”

    McDonald was a frequent guest on “Chelsea Lately”, E!’s late-night show starring Chelsea Handler, who famously slammed Instagram for removing a topless photo she posted of herself riding a horse.

  • Using BitLocker and Windows 8.1 with Bing

    Like many of you, I use USB key drives all the time to move data around from device-to-device or to share data with a colleague.  I also use Bit Locker to Go on those drives, especially if they are going to be out of my hands (think UPS or FedEx) to that colleague.  As you may know, BitLocker is a file encryption system which allow you to protect your files by encrypting the drive those files reside on.  That can be your entire hard disk in your PC, an external disk or a USB drive.  So long as you have

    The post Using BitLocker and Windows 8.1 with Bing appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Top Celebrity Moments Of 2014, According To Instagram
    If it wasn’t posted to Instagram, did it even happen? Not if you’re a celebrity.

    Good thing the people who tinker around behind the scenes at Instagram came up with a list of the top celebrity moments of 2014:

    1. Blue Ivy and Beyonce killed it as Michael and Janet Jackson for Halloween.

    Janet and MJ

    A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Oct 10, 2014 at 2:39pm PDT

    2. One Direction’s Liam Payne joined Instagram, teens rejoiced.

    Da boyyyzzzzzZ

    Zdjęcie zamieszczone przez użytkownika Liam Payne (@fakeliampayne) Kwi 4, 2014 at 2:50 PDT

    3. Solange’s wedding was better than your wedding.

    4. Kimye actually broke Instagram records with their wedding photo.

    Una foto publicada por Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) el May 5, 2014 at 7:58 PDT

    5. Taylor Swift one-upped everyone by leaving comments on her fans’ Instagram photos.
    taylor
    [@dreamingswiftie]

    6. Justin Bieber stopped slacking off, and teased some music.

    Cold waters

    Um vídeo publicado por Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) em Jul 7, 2014 at 6:18 PDT

    7. Alicia Keys announced she was pregnant!

    8. Beyonce took care of those pesky breakup rumors.

    My favorite hue is JayZ Blue

    A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on Jul 7, 2014 at 2:18pm PDT

    9. LeBron James asked a mathematical question.

    6 or 23?……

    A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on Jul 7, 2014 at 8:38am PDT

    10. In this moment, Allison Williams had no idea her #tbt photo would be a million times better than NBC’s “Peter Pan Live!”

    Thrilled to be playing Peter Pan live on NBC in December. I’ve been rehearsing for a REALLY long time.

    A photo posted by Allison Williams (@aw) on Jul 7, 2014 at 6:39am PDT

    11. Ariana Grande’s boyfriend, Big Sean, showed her some Insta-PDA.

    12. 1997′s self-proclaimed “King of the World” joined Instagram.

    13. Taylor Swift had super secret listening sessions with fans, because she’s Taylor Swift.

    Yes we are ladylike. #1989SecretSessions

    Ett foto publicerat av Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) Okt 10, 2014 at 12:21 PDT

    14. Rihanna decided to give Instagram a second chance.

    Hellurrr #badgalback

    Ein von badgalriri (@badgalriri) gepostetes Foto am Nov 11, 2014 at 10:08 PDT

    15. Britney Spears just wanted the simple things in life.

    How I spend my Saturdays….lol.

    Un vídeo publicado por Britney Spears (@britneyspears) el Jun 6, 2014 at 11:55 PDT

    16. North West sat front row at Givenchy for Paris Fashion Week.

    Reserved for Mademoiselle North West #Givenchy

    Uma foto publicada por Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) em Set 9, 2014 at 5:59 PDT

    17. Channing Tatum celebrated Father’s Day for the first time.

    First Father’s Day with my girls!

    A photo posted by Channing Tatum (@channingtatum) on Jun 6, 2013 at 3:46pm PDT

    18. Supermodels Gisele Bundchen and Heidi Klum celebrated the World Cup. Go soccer/football!

    Vai Brasil!!!!! Go Brazil!!!! #WorldCup #CopadoMundo

    A photo posted by Gisele Bündchen (@giseleofficial) on Jun 6, 2014 at 11:11am PDT

  • After Copyright Debacle, Hollywood Tries Again with State Attorneys General
    “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”

    The wisdom of this old adage is again demonstrated in recent media reports which indicate that the entertainment industry has sought to entice some state attorneys general to utilize their prosecutorial powers to block Internet sites. Hollywood knows how controversial that proposal is; state attorneys general may not.

    Three years ago I wrote in this space about a disastrous entertainment industry-backed legislative proposal that pursued the same goal, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). That bill, according to the National Journal, “once had broad bipartisan support and was a top priority for the entertainment industry, [but] has become a dirty word.” Despite warnings from engineers, security experts, human rights advocates, and many Internet users, many members of Congress initially championed and rushed toward passage this extremely ill-considered bill.

    That miscalculation led to one of the largest grassroots uprisings in recent political history, and certainly the largest ever involving technology policy. Even the MPAA later likened it to the Arab Spring. Thousands of websites participated in an Internet Blackout in January 2012. Members of Congress who had been assured the issue was uncontroversial found their office mobbed, and their phone banks and inboxes swamped with millions of phone calls and emails in a single day. Tumblr users alone made over 87,000 calls to Congress; at one point, 2,000 calls per second were attempted to Congressional offices. Overnight, the bill gained dozens of Congressional opponents and lost over a dozen supporters; it even became a subject in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, drawing criticism from nearly all candidates.

    Those rapidly defecting members had been led down the proverbial garden path; they were persuaded that the effort was not technologically destabilizing censorship, but rather righteous law-enforcement. They were misled. Three years after paying the public relations price for that mishap, members of Congress are understandably wary of doing anything that looks even remotely like SOPA.

    This is apparently why the entertainment industry turned its focus from Washington to the states, devising what some accounts allege to be a prosecution-for-hire arrangement, where the legal heavy lifting is outsourced to industry-funded law firms, and AGs assume they will reap the benefits of media coverage cultivated by industry funded PR firms. This arrangement is predicated on the assumption that there will be PR benefits to cultivate, however. Taking history as a guide, site-blocking mostly generates PR catastrophes. Following SOPA, for example, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) floundered through a series of misadventures as it seized the domain names of websites that were not, in fact, infringing IP rights.

    Some state attorneys general, perhaps including Mississippi’s Jim Hood, may not recall the Internet Blackout and don’t know the controversial history of site-blocking. This may explain why they are venturing into this political minefield. The entertainment industry’s actions, however, cannot be explained by mere ignorance. Since SOPA, Hollywood has publicly claimed a preference for Internet collaboration over combat, yet these recent media accounts suggest that it is waging a secret war in state capitals.

    As the New York Times recently covered, reasonable questions can be asked about the propriety of influence-driven law enforcement decisions. In addition to questionable ethics, this is bad business. If the money being spent to ghost-write legal process for media-hungry attorneys general were instead invested in forging partnerships to find new ways to reach consumers using technology and digital distribution, rights holders, online services, and consumers alike would benefit. Instead, we seem to be re-fighting the battles of yesteryear, except this time the victims of political backlash will be in state capitals, rather than on Capitol Hill.

  • Seth Rogen & James Franco Cancel Press Appearances Following Threats Against 'The Interview'
    After a terror threat made by hackers against anyone who plans to see “The Interview” was published, Seth Rogen and James Franco have canceled planned press appearances set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. According to a source close to Rogen, the promotional schedule will be reevaluated after Wednesday. Representatives for Sony Pictures, which is distributing “The Interview,” and Franco were not immediately available to comment.

    Thus far, Rogen and Franco have pulled out of an interview they were supposed to do with BuzzFeed (as part of the site’s BuzzFeed Brews live event series) and Rogen’s appearance with Seth Meyers, which was scheduled for Thursday. A planned interview with HuffPost Live set for Thursday had also been canceled.

    The news comes the same day that hackers cited the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in a note published online. “We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” the note read in part. (Read the full threat here.)

    An unnamed official at the Department of Homeland Security told The Huffington Post via email that “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”

    The film’s New York premiere is set for Thursday. According to The Hollywood Reporter, plans are still in place for that screening to occur at Manhattan’s Sunshine Cinema. Whether customary interview opportunities will be available on the red carpet is unclear. Sony did not allow interviews during the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles last week. “If you’re going to ask me questions, I’m going to run away!” Rogen said to Variety reporter Dave McNary before the screening began. (Per McNary, Rogen did follow through on his threat.)

    Rogen and Franco have made press appearances since the cyberattack against Sony Pictures became widespread. The duo appeared with Howard Stern to denounce media coverage of the hack. “I do think it’s fucked up how everyone is doing exactly what these criminals want,” Rogen said.

    And speaking to ABC, Rogen told George Stephanopoulos that he had no regrets about making the film. “At this point, it’s too late to have any [second thoughts],” Rogen said. “I like the movie. I can’t, in my head, over-connect everything surrounding it with the movie itself. [...] We set out to make a movie that was really entertaining to audiences. I genuinely think we did that. And that’s where my job ends.”

  • The Plot for Tech to Drive You Crazy
    It’s a plot I tell you. Little things about the tech world are designed to make you think you’re crazy. Here’s my list of things that drove me to tech-stress this year. What’s on your list?

    Phone Cases: Never mind the fact that there are enough of them so that each person on the planet can own 10, but they’re all flawed, each in their own way. I’ve used cases that I had to hold open like a book to my ear, others that made it impossible to plug in a headphone jack, and others that made volume control untouchable. Never mind the fact that you pay all this money to own a skinny phone and then add a case that causes serious pocket bulge (Hint: I did love my phone cover with my photo on it, given to me as a gift. It singlehandedly got my phone returned to me twice as people matched the phone to me — the one seated in 10B).

    Tablets and their on/off switches: Watch someone pick up a tablet device and observe the machinations as they try to turn the darn thing on. My favorite turn-ons are the ones that camouflage the button into the molded plastic casing. These make me feel like I’m reading Braille, hunting for the on switch. The other variant is the indent that you need serious nail strength to depress, or the ones that build the on switch right into the cover, ensuring you’ll accidentally turn on to off when you pick it up.

    Videos that pop up but don’t shut up: Fess up, you’ve been surfing the web or answering some email in some boring meeting and suddenly a video pops up with a big sound blaring. You’re now the center of attention as some women talking about poop deodorant emanates from your speakers. And you, of course, cannot figure out which window to close to shut her up because the ad creators prefer you didn’t have that power (Tip: Make sure sound is off in public places — which is a chore in and of itself, since there are multiple ways for sound to make itself heard even when you’ve drove to silence it).

    Syncing calendars: I’m really happy that my phone, tablet and notebook can all share a calendar. I’m not happy when they’re all in the same room. A pending meeting sets off enough alarms to make my home sound like the war room.

    Home entertainment systems: I love my husband. I hate his home entertainment system. By the time I fiddle with the four requisite remotes and awake the various sleeping components, I inevitably have forgotten what I wanted to watch or worse still, it’s half over.

    The cloud: Don’t get me started. The cloud has become the Internet’s version of the kitchen catch-all drawer — the latest excuse for being clueless about where your stuff is. You use Dropbox. My Dropbox hit the “full” limit months ago and I haven’t had a chance to clean. I use Google drive. I need to remember whether it was me who initiated the file creation or you… what kind of organizational system is that? It’s not a structure… It’s a memory test. As Joni Mitchell said, “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now… I really don’t know clouds at all.” She, however, wasn’t betting her life’s work on them.

    Passwords: I bought my eighty-something-year-old mom her own iPad this year thinking about how much joy it would give her. First task was to get some music. Do you have any idea how many passwords it takes to get a song off the web? First there’s your WiFi connection at home, then you’re prompted for your iCloud name and password, next your iTunes name and password, then your Amazon name and password (for a little comparison shopping). Again, by the time we got to the music selection we’d actually forgotten what song we were looking for (“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney version). To add insult to injury, once purchased we had to figure out where it lived.

    Wireless is not: Don’t get me wrong… Bluetooth is the martini of the digital age — smooth and sophisticated but, have you noticed that going wireless with Bluetooth is never wireless? Have you ever bought a Bluetooth device that didn’t require cables — often special cables? USB cables and plugs spawn like salmon in the spring, they are flaky about working from device to device, and I still haven’t found a good way to organize them yet. Happy for any suggestions.

    What’s your biggest peeve of 2014? Please share on the social media of your choice. Which gets me to another peeve — there are too many of them. But I’ll do my best to check.

    Robin Raskin is founder of Living in Digital Times (LIDT), a team of technophiles who bring together top experts and the latest innovations that intersect lifestyle and technology. LIDT produces conferences and expos at CES and throughout the year focusing on how technology enhances every aspect of our lives through the eyes of today’s digital consumer.

  • Sony hackers threaten US cinemas
    Hackers targeting Sony Pictures have threatened to attack US cinemas showing the studio’s controversial film The Interview.
  • How I Lost My Wife to an iPad and How I Plan to Get Her Back: A Year Later
    Some of you may be wondering, who read my blog last year, how I’m doing? Did I indeed win the battle for the heart and soul of my amazing wife and beat the little tin man for her devotion and adoration — not to mention quality time spent? Or did I lose ground?

    Well, I’m not winning. May have actually lost ground to that silver, square creep. I tried so hard. Flowers, frequent hugs and maximum empathy — empathy even during trivial conversations that normally would have gone in one ear and out the other. While I manufactured over-the-top attention and interest. I absorbed every chat as if I couldn’t wait for more. Hung on every word.

    And attention? — I lavished it. At every turn. I juiced up my love gauge and reached out and reached out and reached out. But the tin monster stayed by her side through it all. Mocking me. Showing me up. Always the one in her lap, gazing up at her as if she’s a saint. Idealizing her and making her feel relaxed, excited and alive.

    Oh, I had my moments. Love was not lost on my dear lover. But I’m afraid she squeezed me in. Between love fests with the rectangular guru. Yes, he’s a guru. He surfs the web for her, offers her games, and connects her with her friends. Acts as if he invented Facebook.

    I think one day I heard him talking. May be my paranoia, but he’s a clever dude. Can’t help wondering if he whispers to her, “Hold me — we’re one?”

    He follows her everywhere. Except maybe the shower. I’m sure there will be a version of him someday — the waterproof one — where he sneaks his way into her private time, soaking up the warm water, sparkling as beads of water drip down his glass face. Offering her games and attention as she rests in the tub, oblivious to time and space. After all, she has warm water and sneaky square man with her.

    He has so many faces like love faces, looks of excitement, coy, winsome and demure stares as she pokes at him with her finger. Her love finger I believe. He loves her finger. It’s his love language.

    Do I sound jealous? You bet. But I have to pretend — pretend he’s part of the family. Part of the marriage. He goes to bed with us at night. I can never get away.

    So I continue to compete. I have my stealthy ways. I occasionally hide him under the pillows and have done everything but throw him in the garbage. But he’d find a way out. I swear sometimes he has legs.

    I continue to watch and wait. To see if I can gain ground, to get her to hold me like she does the little, mechanical freak. Even though I’m often invisible, I’m continuing to fight back. I can’t lose any more points — or I may end up giving up and resigning myself to the crumbs off the table. I know she loves me, but I’m not so sure I have a hold on her like that cold, thin pervert.

    But here’s my fighting plan. My “Art of War.” I have a few tricks up my sleeve. And I’m determined to win. I plan to win. I’m going to win. Here goes:

    1. Last year, I planned to find ways every day to get her attention. That told her I love her. Hugs and touch that showed her I’m thinking of her and loving her in action. This year? I will ramp up the physical stuff. Hold her even more. Because I’ve got arms. Like I said last year, see if you can compete with that Mr. silver god. And just to remind you, you don’t have any arms. Ha ha ha!!!

    2. Last year, I committed to asking her how she’s doing. And I listened well. No matter what she said — including the minor chatting over nothing. Try chatting thin man. Oh yes, you can’t really talk can you. Forgot. Ha ha ha!

    3. Last year, I did all kinds of things to affirm her. I called her my lover, best friend, soul mate. I even told her at length why she’s my best friend. But when I finished, I noticed her purse and his puny head popping out the top. He heard everything. He learns from what I do. He needs to stay home when we go on dates. With the dog!

    4. Last year I reminded myself of the strengths I have to give her. Such as my ability to reach out and love, give and even forgive. My desire to give her the best life a man can, with actions that tell her she’s on my mind and in my heart. I told her she’s the love of my life, hoping to plant a seed of hope — that she might give up I-Pad-god-man and only think of me. But it’s the creepy tin man who rides by her side, like a secret service agent ready to take a bullet for her. He’s always there. Always. I keep hoping for the bullet.

    5. And finally, last year, I made her feel like a princess in and out of the bedroom. I made her a priority in my schedule. I did extra handholding. Took her out on romantic “happy hour” dates. I opened the car door when possible, held her hand into the restaurant and pulled out her chair for her when she went to sat down. I turned up the romantic juice — never demanding, always thoughtful — as best I could. But he was always watching in the background — ever perky and ready for the finger jabs and constant attention to his hardened, cold face. Tricky little b________________ — bugger. Whether by her side or plugged into the wall for recharging, he watches for his turn. He wants to be her lover – really. He just waits for some kind of “lover” app that would rid him of me. God help me — literally — if such an app comes on the market.

    So what will I do different this year? I’ll continue this year to make her feel like the prettiest woman in the world. Because she is. I’ll continue to make note of her uniqueness and support her in her hobbies and in those experiences that bring her joy in life. She has a wonderful mind and I’ll continue to explore her thoughts and insights into the day-to-day events and what she’s hoping for the future.

    And I’ll touch and hold her out of love and desire to make her feel special. You have no arms tin head. So back off.

    I’ll seduce her into my life with care and attention — the kind of love a man should bring into his woman’s life — his best friend and lover. I’ll be specific about that. I’ll think up ways to surprise her with affirmations and interesting ways to say, “I love you” and “You’re the only girl for me.”

    I hope to prevail in 2015. The electronic monster, clever as he may be, will take a back seat to the kind of fertile energy and charisma I am ramping up. Watch out tin man. Step aside square head putz. You’re just a bundle of pre-programmed zeros and ones — nothing really unique about you. I’ve only begun to fight. I’m stepping up glass face. Watch me!

    I will prevail.

  • Virtual galleries open new markets for art
    Online art sales boom, led by Chinese buyers
  • Watch 2014's Best Viral Videos In One Epic Mashup
    There were daredevils who went higher, farther and to the most extreme. There were dogs who made us laugh and people who inspired us to dance, dance, dance. There was one dad who dressed up as Spider-Man to make his kid smile, and another who zoomed around a racetrack to do the same. Strangers kissed on camera, Bill Gates took the Ice Bucket Challenge and athletes everywhere pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible.

    The aforementioned are just a handful of some of the best and most-watched videos of the year, videos that have all made it into a new, high-octane, year-end compilation video by YouTuber Luc Bergeron, aka Zapatou.

    According to Bergeron, who has been creating these compilation videos for several years, the recent best-of mashup features a whopping 233 video clips.

    Watch them all in the sequence above to relive some of YouTube’s funniest, most inspiring and most adorable moments of 2014.

  • HP Stream 8 Windows Tablet Plus Free T-Mobile 4G Data At The Microsoft Store

    There is another great deal going on at the Microsoft store on a Windows Tablet.  Right now you can get the HP Stream 8 Windows tablet for $161.10 which includes a free 200MB of 4G data from T-Mobile.  And that data folks is free.  No contract as long as you own this highly rated 8″ tablet.  Normally the HP Stream 8 is $179.00 by itself. HP Stream 8 Windows Tablet with Free 4G Data from T-Mobile – $161.10 – Microsoft Store Online If you are looking for a budget friendly but powerful 8″ Windows tablet, the HP Stream 8 isn’t

    The post HP Stream 8 Windows Tablet Plus Free T-Mobile 4G Data At The Microsoft Store appeared first on Clinton Fitch.

  • Apple defeats $1bn case over iTunes
    Technology behemoth Apple has been found not guilty of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour by a jury in California.
  • #Yoga… The Online Edition of Our Once Beloved Practice
    Yoga has long been a very powerful force in my life. It’s something that swooped in and saved me from a deeply dark and deprecating time, and for that I am forever grateful. To this day I use breathing techniques and certain stretches to better my day, my attitude, and myself as a whole. Due to a sustained injury, I’m not in a place, at present, where I have access to practice in a heated room (the real good stuff — in my opinion), surrounded by the energy and emotion of other breathing, grieving, forgiving bodies. However, my hiatus from a typical yoga practice has taught me that yoga is whatever you choose it to be, wherever you choose it to be. It’s personal, intimate, exceedingly vulnerable at times, and although explorative and exciting, it’s very individual and completely (and most importantly) ego-less. After all, regardless of yoga being incredibly accessible (popping up around corners like Starbucks — gross), at it’s core it’s a spiritual and ascetic discipline.

    And yet, if you were just to flick through your social media channels, you’d probably beg to differ. Intimate? Vulnerable? Spiritual? Ego-LESS? And I’d have to agree with your scoffing. For example, #yogaeverydamnday is now a hash tag that trends worldwide (I’m convinced, solely to give me an ulcer). And although I’m sure some self-indulgent moron came up with it with good intentions, it comes off as tacky and vulgar. There are definitely monks trying to bust the fuck out of their coffins (monks are buried in coffins, right?) right now to burn down our franchises and break all of our phones. And who could blame them?

    Especially since there’s this new breed of yogi who wears spandex tit tops and posts photo after video after photo of themselves “practicing yoga” — personifying narcissism and yet doing it in the name of a practice whose sole intent is to unify and better the individual and others around them.

    And the worst part about all of it is the people out there who comment and praise these photos, fueling the fire. “OMG YOUR ABS ARE SO FIT HOW DO I GET THOSE ABS?” “OMG YOU’RE SO AMAZING!” “OMG YOU’RE THE MOST AMAZING EVER!” Those people make me want to put my foot in a blender. Are you smoking crack? Your fingers are better utilized picking your fucking nose than typing those comments. And you may think, hey! Maybe those people are being inspired. But that’s the thing. Those photos released out into the world aren’t convincing anyone to experience the real and incredible benefits that yoga has to offer. They’re advertising commercial advantages like abs or cute, tight clothing that not everyone can wear or afford (or have the stomach for). They’re creating yet another thing we look at and yet don’t explore further (due to intimidation, etc), causing jealousy and a desire for this very physical and surface benefit of yoga (honestly, all of these people need to take aerobics, talk through class while chewing gum and then go home and throw themselves out of a fifth story window).

    In my opinion, the true benefits of yoga can’t be captured in a showy photograph. How could you Instagram bettered sleeping patterns, increased patience and gratitude, decreased anxiety and depression, improved mental strength, and the realization that the physical will host, manifest and, most crucially, release the emotional (if you let it).

    One of the reasons I fell in love with yoga was because of how inclusive and compassionate it was. How it helped inspire and improve the quality of life for those with physical and mental difficulties instead of alienating them because they could or would never be able to sport booty shorts (which, FYI, show everyone all of your pubes the second you bend over), or achieve the impossibly perfected figure we all lust after and see daily in the media. And now it’s bombarding our social media streams, hanging out upside down in front of the Eiffel Tower, or the Himalayans or (my favourite) splayed out on the floor of a bedroom… like a stripper.

    How about we start a new hash tag that doesn’t offend the very essence of the practice itself, and connotes a genuine, encouraging and all-inclusive message? Something that wouldn’t wanna make me hurl if I came across it in my feed. Something, perhaps, like #thisismyyoga (and please can these photos be humble? Mostly clothed? And at most once a month? K cool thanks)?

    Mindfulness is key. Namaste… (bitches).

  • Sony Hackers Threaten People Who See 'The Interview,' Invoke 9/11
    Hackers have promised that “the world will be full of fear” following the Christmas day release of “The Interview.”

    “Remember the 11th of September 2001,” the hackers write in a new note reportedly posted Tuesday on Pastebin, a site that lets people easily share text.

    Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security told The Huffington Post that they were aware of the threats and investigating them. However, the official from the Homeland department, who declined to be named, emphasized that “there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.”

    “The FBI continues to work collaboratively with our partners to investigate the Sony attack,” Jennifer Shearer, a representative for the FBI, told HuffPost.

    The chief executive of Sony Entertainment, Michael Lynton, confirmed that the company is working with federal agencies, sending this email to employees Tuesday:

    “We are aware of the latest threat and are working closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Please remain vigilant,” Lynton wrote in the email, which was forwarded to HuffPost by a Sony employee. He added that workers should contact the FBI if they have “information relevant to the investigation.”

    Stars James Franco and Seth Rogen cancelled press appearances intended to promote the film at least through Thursday, and a reporter from the L.A. Times tweeted that theater owners are considering pulling the movie over the threats.

    SONY HACK: We are getting word that theater owners likely might PULL #TheInterviewMovie over latest hacker threats. #SonyHack

    — Joe Bel Bruno (@JoeBelBruno) December 16, 2014

    The hackers warn people to stay away from places screening “The Interview,” a comedy about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un distributed by Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, according to reports in Buzzfeed and Fusion.

    “How bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” the note reads.

    Sony has recently been subjected to a massive leak of internal documents following a hack by a group calling itself Guardians of Peace. The company has demanded that news outlets refrain from reporting on the information released through the hack.

    The new message is the first to directly threaten violent action. According to Variety, it reads in full:

    Warning

    We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
    Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
    The world will be full of fear.
    Remember the 11th of September 2001.
    We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
    (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
    Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
    All the world will denounce the SONY.

    Update: This story has been updated with comment from the Department of Homeland Security as well as information from Sony.

  • Sony hacks: Sorkin says media are 'morally treasonous'
    Aaron Sorkin blasts Sony hack stories
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