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Mobile Technology News, April 17, 2015

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.

  • Why SAP Is the Dominant ERP Provider
    Customer Relationship Management software as a subset of ERP, with integrated services is now a requirement for any company north of $5 million in revenue per annum.

    One of your greatest challenges is wading through a growing list of vendors and their single marketing automation services mapped to your in-house technology, staffing and strategic business requirements.

    The market is healthy but consolidating, according to Gartner’s latest reports, the CRM market grew 13.7 percent last year from $18 billion in 2012 to $20.4 billion in 2013.

    Growth drivers continue to be the investment enterprise and SMB companies are making in all types of digital marketing and customer experience initiatives — outbound activities necessitate downstream measurement and analysis.

    The vendor list of market leaders is fragmented, with SAP, SalesForce, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft, all with double digit market share, except for IBM.

    2015-04-16-1429225433-3576082-CRMMarketShare2013.jpg

    Competition is fierce, as major players fight for market share across global markets and try to build in more robust functionality with suites of products and services to serve midsize to large enterprise companies.

    SalesForce dominates the market; but, SAP remains the number two position; but is the leader in terms of revenue generation and in more narrow verticals: customer service and ecommerce.

    The Cloud is Driving CRM Adoption

    We are now in the age of the cloud with CRM, 41 percent of all CRM systems sold in 2013 were SaaS (cloud) based across all companies, regardless of size.

    The cloud is easier to deploy, provides legacy data integration, can be quickly implemented (that’s a relative term of course) and will not strain your existing IT structure.

    Four Critical Functions any CRM Vendor Should Provide Your Business

    Every business, regardless of size, struggles with understanding who is buying your products and services, or why not, and then digging into meaningful data.

    Lead management or sales funnel deep dive integration, whichever term you prefer, is critical: extracting a finite number of unqualified contacts and opportunities from multiple sources including web forms, email and direct marketing campaigns, social media, tradeshows and webinars.

    Onboard analytics, KPIs and Business Intelligence; the ability to transfer or move data between applications, encompassing source applications (web sites, referral systems) and execution applications like email used in closed loop marketing. You must be able to identify patterns in your aggregated data.

    Again, lead flow analysis and nurturing via a sales funnel:
    append missing data that is pulled from third party sources and then store it in a database with matching information associated with a specific lead or customer.

    Integrated APIs and templates with third party applications with published API specifications and integration with all social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) and mainstream marketing data from call/contact center, virtual and real world events (aggregated data).

    2015-04-17-1429229292-5272253-manandlightbulb.jpeg

    What Makes SAP a Great Choice?

    In the ancient days, the saying in business was you would never be fired for making the “safe” choice with IBM. SAP has usurped IBM in today’s world; they are now the dominant player in CRM and ERP solutions, with a broad suite of applications.

    With locations in more than 130 countries, and just under 300K customers worldwide and a dominant position as the leader in enterprise applications and software, they are the market leader for good reason.

    SAP Business ByDesigjn is an enterprise focused ERP and CRM system that facilitates end-to-end integration for critical business functions, including finance, HR, Supply Chain Management, Project Management, Compliance and Customer Relationship Management.

    And SAP offers no fewer than four business applications for SMB and SME companies: Business One and Business All-in-One are robust mature solutions that can be deployed on premise as an ERP system, while Business ByDesign and Sales on Demand represent SAP’s foray into the cloud.

    SAP has been aggressively making acquisitions to cement and grow its market share, including recent deals with Oracle and Microsoft to strengthen it’s SaaS and Cloud Services. Like any market leader, SAP training and support is readily available with a large group of suppliers.

    Competition is again fierce in this market; but SAP has hung on to their dominant position with an aggressive “take no prisoners” business model and as earlier, aggressively acquiring other companies and cutting deals to offset competitive forces.

    SAP HANA is Robust and Comprehensive

    SAP’s HANA is at the center of SAP’s technology driven quest for competitive strategy and market share dominance. In layman’s terms, it’s a set of blazing fast database technologies, allowing an application that sit on top of it to run very fast. It can be deployed as a cloud solution or via the platform where your core SAP business suite resides.

    HANA is a robust, powerful technology that offsets any problems you may have with business processes and calculations caused by the “need for unquenchable speed” – huge amounts of data can be read and processed, with no impact whatsoever on calculations or processes.

    And, SAP HANA was designed as an in memory platform that can not only be accessed and utilized by IT but the entire company, enhancing business processes and enabling your company to conceptualize and utilize new business use cases.

    Your Choices are Infinite but SAP is the Market Leader for Good Reason

    My focus in writing this post was to provide just a compressed outline of SAP’s technology and position as the market leader.

    Deployment of any/all ERP and CRM applications or technology is challenging and takes methodical planning. It’s not an easy process and requires dedicated personnel to manage and optimize.

    But, CRM technology, regardless of the vendor you choose, is an investment in “command and control” technology that will deliver long term ROI if deployed properly and integrated with your business rules.

    SAP is managed by a team of very talented executives, is shifting it’s focus to the cloud to leverage growth in the SaaS market, financially sound and technically sophisticated and has a customer installed based of over 300K blue chip companies.

    They are an innovative aggressive company, with significant resources and support capabilities and a market leader for good reason!

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    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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    BBC Click’s LJ Rich looks at some of the best of the week’s technology news
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  • Starbucks Announces S'mores Frappuccinos, For A Limited Time Only
    S’mores, that ooey-gooey favorite of campers and kiddos alike, is getting a liquid makeover this summer.

    Starbucks will release a new, limited-time layered S’mores Frappuccino on April 28 to remind people of the “nostalgic summer experience of roasting” the tasty treats, a spokeswoman for the company told The Huffington Post.

    The drink will be made with a foundation of marshmallow whipped cream and milk chocolate sauce, followed by graham crackers, coffee, milk and ice. It’s then topped off with the same marshmallow whipped cream and bits of graham cracker.

    The S’mores flavor also comes in a bottled-coffee version, though sadly neither drink offering will come with a crackling fire or roasting tongs.

    broadway

    As we all know, seasons basically begin and end according to the release of specific Starbucks drinks, like how the return of the PSL ushered in the earliest fall ever. Though this new drink certainly sounds delicious, it almost seems like it might be more appropriate for a cooler time of year.

    But perhaps it’s best the S’mores Frap is arriving soon, as consumers also have the new Ben & Jerry’s beer — yes, you read that right — to look forward to in the fall. And really, can we ever get enough?

    H/T Cosmpolitan

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  • Wikileaks publishes Sony documents
    Wikileaks has published hundreds of thousands of emails and documents from a cyber-attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment last year.
  • WikiLeaks Releases Massive Archive Of Hacked Sony Documents
    NEW YORK (AP) — Sony’s hacking problems aren’t over yet.

    Whistleblower site WikiLeaks on Thursday put hundreds of thousands of emails and documents from last year’s crippling cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment into a searchable online archive. It’s the latest blow for the entertainment and technology company struggling to get past the attack, which the company estimates caused millions in damage. The website founded by Julian Assange said that its database includes more than 170,000 emails from Sony Pictures and a subsidiary, plus more than 30,000 other documents.

    Sony Pictures blasted WikiLeaks for creating the archive, saying the website was helping the hackers disseminate stolen information.

    “We vehemently disagree with WikiLeaks’ assertion that this material belongs in the public domain,” the company said in a statement.

    But Assange said the documents should be available to the public. Although they had been online, it was in a compressed format that wasn’t easily searchable.

    “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation,” Assange said. “It is newsworthy and at the center of a geo-political conflict. It belongs in the public domain. WikiLeaks will ensure it stays there.”

    The WikiLeaks site lets users find emails, documents or an entire cache of files through searches using keywords, people who sent or received emails and types of files. The site made a name for itself in 2010 when it began publishing diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning.

    Assange is currently battling a detention order in Sweden, where he is wanted by prosecutors in an investigation of alleged sex crimes. He has avoided being extradited to Sweden by taking shelter in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012.

    Sony Pictures’ troubles began last December after it suffered an extensive hacking attack and release of confidential emails ahead of its release of “The Interview,” a comedy that centers around the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. A group calling itself Guardians of the Peace took credit for the attack, and U.S. intelligence officials said the group was linked to North Korea, but no official link has been made.

    The attack exposed tens of thousands of sensitive documents, including studio financial records, employment files and emails between Sony executives. Some emails revealed exchanges between Oscar-winning producer Scott Rudin and Sony Pictures’ co-chair Amy Pascal that contained a frank assessment of Angelina Jolie’s talent and racially offensive jokes about President Barack Obama’s presumed taste in movies. The company announced in February that Pascal would transition to a job as the head of a new production venture at the studio.

    Sony Pictures at first shelved “The Interview,” but it was later opened in a limited release.

    The studio’s parent, Tokyo-based Sony Corp., launched an overhaul of its own security in 2011 after hackers broke into its PlayStation Network gaming system and stole data of 77 million users.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Going Against the Flow: Jessica Tenuta, Cofounder of Packback
    Jessica is the Cofounder and Head of Design of Packback. Packback is the first company to offer on-demand One-Day eTextbook Rentals for $5 or less per day, allowing college students to rent and pay for their books only when they actually need to read. Packback launched publicly in March of 2014, after appearing on the national ABC hit TV show Shark Tank where they signed a deal with Mark Cuban. Packback recently closed out $1.5M in seed funding from Mark Cuban and some of Chicago’s most notable investors. Today, Packback helps over 135,000 students nationally save on their college textbooks.

    Jessica also has unique experience working in design in venture capital, as an one of two Design Fellows at Lightbank and a Brand Designer Listen Ventures. During her time in venture capital she worked with more than a dozen brands, including Fooda, Raise, Snapsheet, Factor 75 and Signal (formerly BrightTag). Through her experience as a design co-founder of a start-up and a designer for numerous portfolio companies in two venture capital firms, she has seen first-hand how design can accelerate an early-stage company’s growth by creating an emotionally powerful, engaging brand experience.

    2015-04-16-1429211932-1014193-Jessica.png
    Jessica Tenuta (Photo Credit: Jeffrey Lewis Bennett)

    Q: What does entrepreneurship mean to you, and what underlying characteristics do you see in successful entrepreneurs?

    JT: Entrepreneurship is proof that one person can identify something they want to change in the world…and actually make that change happen. Whether addressing big or small problems, entrepreneurs get to rewrite reality. That’s incredibly empowering, but it requires a very unique balance of skills that are often times at odds with one another; confidence balanced with humility, independence balanced with the ability to learn from others, big vision balanced with the ability to execute details, and strength balanced with flexibility.

    But I think the number one most critical characteristic an entrepreneur must have is empathy. It allows you to understand and relate to your customers, hone your product and your messages, understand what someone else wants before crafting a pitch to them. It turns complicated business problems into simple human decisions.

    Q: What are you most proud of in your professional career? If you could do something over in your life, what would it be?

    JT: I’m most proud that we have been able to create unique opportunities and empower other young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses as students through the Packback Brand Ambassador Program. Our Ambassadors learn first-hand how to run a start-up by running a team at their school, while getting access to one-on-one mentorship, Q&A sessions with Packback’s investors, business plan reviews and more.

    My founders and I started a professional business fraternity together in our freshman year, and so much of what we learned through that experience we still use to this day in our business. We wanted to create an opportunity like what we had in starting our fraternity, for students to learn and apply real business skills outside of the classroom and gain the confidence they need to push themselves beyond what they ever thought they could accomplish as students.

    If I could do something over again, I would spend less time worrying about the places where I felt insufficient. I spent so much time worrying about what I didn’t know, waiting until my skills were “good enough” before diving in and learning by doing. Now, I try to take a “lean” approach my own personal development; I use every new challenge we encounter at Packback as an opportunity to learn something new. Instead of chasing perfection (which in life-and in starting a business-inevitably leads to failure), I work towards constant and consistent improvement.

    Q: Tell us about an instance where you had to go against the flow to realize your goal.

    JT: We were juniors in college at Illinois State University when my cofounders (Mike Shannon, Kasey Gandham, and Nick Currier) and I started Packback, and set out to partner with some of the nations’ largest textbook publishers to change the $8 Billion textbook industry forever. It took a bit of naivete and a heck of a lot of passion to take on an enormous industry as college students and believe we could be successful.

    Many companies have attempted to disrupt the textbook space. We had to go against the flow to believe that we, as juniors in college with no pre-existing connections to the publishing world, could be successful in this business where others had not. But what we lacked in experience we made up for in resourcefulness, tenacity, passion for the problem and an eagerness to learn from other entrepreneurs who have gone before us.

    Q: I know you and your husband are both founders of Packback. What is it like to work with your spouse?

    JT: For us, working with one another is the best thing we’ve ever done. Professionally, we have very complementary skill sets and ways of approaching problems that let us work incredibly well together. Kasey is truly visionary, and has an amazing capacity for surfacing new opportunities and paths to explore. I am a problem solver; I love to break down the vision into what problems we are really trying to solve and ideate resourceful solutions.

    Working together allows us to be both fully invested in growing our business and growing together, instead of separately. The start-up life is demanding and requires your full passion, but working together allows us to share that burden with someone who not only understands the demands of working in a start-ups, but is equally committed to the success of the business. To me, it makes so much sense; your spouse is your best friend, the person you chose to spend your life with, your most trusted collaborator. Who better to start a business with?

    Q: LinkedIn style – If you were to give advice to your 22 year old self, what would it be?

    JT: Well, for me 22 was just one year ago! We are learning so much every day, that I’m sure every year I’ll have a new piece of advice that I wish I could pass on to my college-age self. But right now, I would tell my 22 year old self to use fear as a compass to uncover opportunities.

    I was painfully shy in High School and my early years in college. In my junior year of college, I forced myself to go to a weekend-long networking event that I was completely terrified of, and when the weekend came to a close I had grown so much in the span of just a few days. After that, I knew that I could use my fears to my advantage. When I feel that fear again, I know I’ve stumbled on an opportunity for growth.

    In personal growth, or in starting a business, risk is directly equal to reward. The more terrifying a challenge feels, the more likely it is to be an amazing opportunity. If an idea feels safe and proven, the path might be predictable…but so is the cap on your reward. Think big, embrace the fear, and dive in…because when you come out the other side, you’ll be so glad you did.


    Follow Jessica Tenuta at @jessicatenuta, and check out the other interviews in Going Against the Flow series at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charu-sharma/ or thestartupsutra.com.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Common Core Tests Stopped In Three States Because Of Technical Issues
    LAS VEGAS (AP) — A problem with a computer server is stopping Common Core testing in Nevada, Montana and North Dakota after a previous technical issue delayed it last month, officials said.

    The three states contract with the New Hampshire-based Measured Progress to administer the tests, which are linked to the hotly disputed federal education standards. The company said in a statement Wednesday that its platform isn’t able to support the number of students taking the tests, although server capacity was increased beyond what the tests’ creator, Smarter Balanced, said was needed.

    It marked the second technical problem Measured Progress has had in recent weeks with the computerized English language arts and math tests. Some students have already taken it, and officials say they are working to resolve the issue. In March, state schools officials had to delay the start of the testing period by up to two weeks because the company reported a problem with software.

    North Dakota education officials called it a “single, problematic anomaly” with the delivery system.

    But the latest system crash prompted the Montana Office of Public Instruction to go as far as to offer waivers to the mandatory test for this year. State Superintendent Denise Juneau said she expected most schools to move forward and extended the testing period into June.

    The schools chief said it’s unclear what consequences in terms of federal funding could be handed down to the noncompliant schools. But deciding to opt out this year is an acknowledgement that the delays have caused a lot of problems. Among the headaches: the logistics of scheduling computer lab time to accommodate all 77,000 students required to take it.

    “I just don’t think Measured Progress was ready for that influx,” Juneau said.

    In Nevada, limited testing is expected to resume Thursday and Friday, with the disruption expected to be fully resolved by Monday. About 210,000 students in grades 3 through 8 are expected to take the tests by the end of the school year.

    The Nevada Department of Education said students in the southern part of the state had trouble logging in to the Smarter Balanced assessments Tuesday and Wednesday before the tests were formally suspended.

    Judy Osgood, a state spokeswoman, said Nevada likely hit the server’s capacity because Clark County School District started the test on Monday. The nation’s fifth-largest school system includes all of the Las Vegas metro area.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Watch Jay Z's New Video For His Blue Ivy Song 'Glory'
    On Thursday, Jay Z dropped the video for his 2012 song “Glory,” which was dedicated to his daughter Blue Ivy. The video was released exclusively on Tidal and features footage from the rapper’s rehearsal sessions for his 2012 performance at Carnegie Hall. Keep an eye out for appearances by Alicia Keys, Nas, Liza Minnelli and more.

    The artist-owned streaming platform has recently premiered new videos for Beyoncé’s “Die With You,” Rihanna’s “American Oxygen” and also teased Madonna’s latest video “Ghosttown.”

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Giant Exoplanet Discovered 13,000 Light-Years Away Is Among The Most Distant Ever Seen
    A newly discovered alien planet is one of the most distant yet spotted.

    Known formally as “OGLE-2014-BLG-0124Lb,” the gas giant was detected by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and the OGLE Warsaw Telescope at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. It’s about half as massive as Jupiter and is about 13,000 light-years from Earth.

    That’s far.

    “For context, most of the planets we do know about are a factor of 10-100 times closer than OGLE-2014-BLG-0124,” Dr. Jennifer Yee, a NASA Sagan Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., and lead author of a paper describing the planet, told The Huffington Post in an email.

    (Story continues below image.)
    exoplanet milky way
    This artist’s conception shows the newly discovered alien planet, which is about 13,000 light-years from Earth.

    A distant world. Astronomers discovered the planet by exploiting a curious phenomenon known as “microlensing,” in which gravity from one star shifts the light emitted by a more distant one — like a sort of cosmic magnifying glass.

    If a planet is orbiting the nearer star, it can cause a “blip” in the magnification. Astronomers can use these blips to characterize and mark the distance of planets tens of thousands of light-years away, just like OGLE-2014-BLG-0124Lb.

    exoplanet milky way
    This infographic explains how NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope can be used in tandem with a ground-based telescope to measure the distances to planets using the “microlensing” technique. Click on image to enlarge.

    “The OGLE-2014-BLG-0124L discovery is important because it is the first time Spitzer has been used to measure microlens parallax for a planet,” Yee said in the email.

    Far, far away. The microlensing technique has helped astronomers discover about 30 distant alien planets in our Milky Way’s bulge, the galaxy’s central area of mostly old stars, gas, and dust.

    The farthest known exoplanet resides some 25,000 light years away in the bulge of our galaxy, Yee said in the email. The bulge is a very different environment from the Milky Way’s disk, where our own solar system is located.

    According to Yee, no exoplanets have been found outside of our galaxy, which spans about 100,000 light years.

    exoplanet milky way
    This artist’s map of the Milky Way shows the location of some of the farthest known exoplanets, including OGLE-2014-BLG-0124Lb.

    “We’ve mainly explored our own solar neighborhood so far,” Dr. Sebastiano Calchi Novati, a visiting Sagan Fellow at NASA’s Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., and a co-author of the paper describing the newfound exoplanet, said in a written statement. “Now we can use these single lenses to do statistics on planets as a whole and learn about their distribution in the galaxy.”

    Comparing planets to planets. Astronomers hope not only to gain a better understanding of the distribution of planets in the Milky Way, but also to gather enough detail about distant planets to compare them with those closer to Earth. More than 1,000 exoplanets closer to home have been discovered by the planet-hunting Kepler mission and ground-based observatories, Space.com reported.

    “We would really like to know whether planets form in the central bulge of our galaxy the same way that they do here, near the sun, where the overwhelming majority of planets have been found,” Dr. Andrew Gould, professor of math and physical sciences at Ohio State University, and a co-author of the paper describing the newfound exoplanet, told The Huffington Post.

    The Christian Science Monitor reported that the Spitzer telescope is scheduled to observe about 120 more “microlensing” events this summer, which could lead to the discovery of even more distant exoplanets.

    The paper describing the latest exoplanet finding was published in the February 2015 edition of The Astrophysical Journal.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • 'Sorting House' Twitter Account Will Place You In Hogwarts House
    For Potterheads who’ve always wondered what Hogwarts house they belong in, wonder no longer: This Twitter account will tell you.

    Not only will @SortingBot assign you into a Hogwarts house, but the “Harry Potter” parody account will tweet it to you in an oh-so charming (and somewhat nonsensical) rhyme.

    @andrea_lisky Your back is smug, your chin cabal, yet you are not severe
    From this intrusive recipe, a Slytherin is here!

    — The Sorting Hat Bot (@SortingBot) April 16, 2015

    @iennadt I am the glitzy Sorting Hat, I’m watching when you browse
    So I deduce that Gryffindor’s the right place for your house

    — The Sorting Hat Bot (@SortingBot) April 16, 2015

    Darius Kazemi is the brains behind the bot, so thanks to him, all you have to do is follow the account and then anxiously patiently wait for your results.

    Good luck, everyone.

    H/T Seventeen

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  • Am I Really Blind? Adapting to Adaptive Technology
    When I mention this to friends, they laugh and suggest the same interpretation for my confession. “Maybe,” they begin, their voices pensive, “you’re not always conscious of your blindness because you have no light perception — there are no fuzzy images and there’s no light to remind you of what you can’t see.”

    Although I don’t completely dismiss their analysis, I believe the main reason why I can live alone, teach, write and go about my business without dwelling on my blindness is because of technology. I have an app that decodes paper money, another that describes the colors and patterns on my clothing, and I even have a talking microwave that always wishes me a great day. I’m constantly texting and emailing as my guide dog, Oslo, and I mosey through the city, and I’m only conscious of being blind when someone with vision points out my lack of sight.

    One day, I had just finished my lunch at a diner in downtown San Francisco, and was about to put a few bills on the table, when I heard an older woman say, “Let me get your lunch.”

    Puzzled, I shifted my face towards the unfamiliar voice and asked if she was the manager. She answered in the negative and explained she was just a customer.

    “You shouldn’t carry cash,” she continued. “You’re gonna get ripped off.”

    Her comment braced my nerves. Yet, I reminded myself that, like most people, she was probably not familiar with adaptive technology. So, I decided to give her a demo. I took my phone out, scanned a bill and heard my cell read the currency.

    “Let me pay for your lunch. You’re blind and you need my help,” she said.
    Wondering if the volume on my cell was too low, I shook my head and asked Oslo to find the register.

    As I paid for my meal, I heard the woman speak from a few feet behind me, “I know how to help you. My favorite movie is The Miracle Worker.”

    I felt my face go hot. Helen Keller may have done some great things in her life, but as a modern man in the 21st century, I find it incredibly irritating to be compared to someone born in 1880. Not to mention, being deaf and blind is a completely different journey, as missing two senses is not the same as missing one.

    “I don’t need your help,” I huffed, walking towards the exit door. “I have Siri.”

    Weaving around a crowd on the sidewalk, I wondered why some people are unable to make the connection that, because of technology, being disabled is not what it used to be.

    The next day, I arrived at my Capoeira studio early and caught the tail end of an Afro-Brazilian dance class. Feeling inspired by the live drumming, I had Oslo sit next to the wall as I joined the samba session in the middle of the room.

    Smiling, I swayed back and forth, recalling my clubbing days in Rio. The music came to an end and the class was adjourned. Ambling my way back to Oslo, I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard a guy say, “You dance well. You remind me of that movie Dancer in the Dark.”

    “I hate that movie,” I said dryly. “It’s not accurate at all.”

    “But it won so many awards,” he defended. “Are you sure we’re talking about the same movie? It had Bjork in it.”

    I assured him we were referring to the same movie and then dove into what I didn’t like.

    “The character is not a believable blind person. I know plenty of blind people and I have never met one who walks on train tracks to avoid getting lost, or one that could fool their employer into believing they can see,” I said.

    “Well, how are people supposed to know what’s real and what is not?” he asked.

    I paused for a few seconds, unsure of how to answer. Flashing back to the woman from the diner, I said, “Well, one of the reasons why there are so many bad disability movies is because directors don’t cast real disabled people.”

    After class, Oslo and I arrived home and I began to scan my snail mail. As my laptop read an offer from my local pizza parlor, I realized that it isn’t just movies contributing to a false perception of disability, but also the lack of disabled faces in popular culture at large. Maybe someday there will be a hip show with a funny, romantic or even slutty disabled protagonist. But, until then, I’ll just keep flashing my tech toys around.

    Belo Cipriani is a freelance journalist, the award-winning author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams, and a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Learn more at www.BeloCipriani.com. You are also invited to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Instagram updates nudity rules
    The social network has updated its community guidelines with details on nudity and abuse.
  • Find Your Lost Phone Immediately With This Simple Google Trick
    If you’re the type of person who’s always losing your phone, it’s now really easy to find it again — if you have an Android.

    Thanks to a new update from Google, you just have to type “find my phone” into Google Search, and it’ll show you where it is with startling accuracy. It can also make your phone ring if you still can’t figure out exactly where it is.

    We tested it Thursday, and it mostly works, but you have to make sure your phone’s location settings are enabled. (Which makes sense!) The ring function did not work on a phone set to vibrate, though Google says it’s supposed to ring at “full volume.”

    When you use the “find my phone” function, your phone will display an alert.

    Google has long allowed you to locate your devices through the Android device manager page, so this isn’t exactly groundbreaking material. But the search update is a bit more convenient. It’s also sure to impress your friends for a few seconds!

    Try it out on Google.com.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

  • Is Google a fading force?
    Why is Bing gaining on Google in the US?
  • US Navy develops 'swarming' drones
    The US Navy is developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, that can be launched from a cannon and “swarm” in a co-ordinated attack.
  • BallotBots: Play the political machine!
    BallotBots is all about the general election, except the leaders and voters are robots. Play the game on your mobile or your laptop. Warning: It’s addictive.
  • Google's Handwriting 'Keyboard' Could Save You From Typos
    Smartphones are a great communication tool — when their crummy keyboards aren’t messing everything up with typos and autocomplete mistakes.

    Enter Google Handwriting Input, a new keyboard app released Wednesday for Android devices. It allows you to simply draw your messages rather than typing them out. It works with absolutely any existing Android app and supports 82 different languages, including Chinese. Best of all, it’s a free download via Google Play.

    Many products have grappled with solving the problem of touchscreen keyboards. TV personality Ryan Seacrest has a line of Bluetooth keyboards called the Typo, which attaches to iPhones and iPads so that you can type on physical buttons. A simple search for “smartphone keyboard” on Amazon surfaces many similar products. And apps like Swype present completely alternative methods to typing altogether.

    But nothing is as natural as handwriting, at least for those of us who still recall learning composition in grade school.

    Google Handwriting Input works pretty well, even when you’re working with abstract emoji. It recognized that I was scribbling the “sleepy” face on the Google Hangouts app:

    google handwriting input

    Generally, the software perfectly transcribed my words, though it got a little tripped up with capitalization and spacing when I was explaining the keyboard to my girlfriend. That said, my handwriting is pretty terrible, and it did at least get all of the words right:

    Google Handwriting Input isn’t the first handwriting “keyboard” app for mobile devices. MyScript, available on iOS and Android, has been around for some time and has racked up hundreds of thousands of downloads.

    But Google’s offering is comparatively robust. It supports more languages and offers the promise that it draws on “many years of research at Google,” with data pulled from Translate Apps, Mobile Search, and Google Input Tools — other products that have used handwriting recognition. Unlike those products, though, you don’t need to be online for Google Handwriting Input to work.

    You can try the keyboard for yourself here.

    — This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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