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Mobile Technology News, February 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.

  • The Disappointing Contradictions Of WhatsApp Being Acquired By Facebook
    It’s rare to find a company in Silicon Valley that refuses to turn its users’ information into advertising revenue.

    Google, Microsoft, and Twitter all do it – the last few years have been an arms race to see who can delve deeper into your life to get you to part with your money. But the founders of WhatsApp, a smartphone messaging service that is wildly popular around the world, proudly declared they would never make their users the product. They built their brand off of this guiding philosophy and used it to differentiate themselves in a crowded market.

    It appears these deep moral convictions were short-lived though. WhatsApp has just sold for a massive sum to Facebook, the company that has aggressively turned your social interactions into a revenue source. Whatever promises of autonomy the founders are giving to users right now mean little – the 450 million+ WhatsApp users are now part of the Facebook empire. The same entrepreneur who once said that ads are “insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought” is now on the board of a company that has built one of the most invasive advertising platforms in history.

    There have been some early assurances that we won’t be seeing ads on WhatsApp. However, there are also ominous warnings of a coming monetization once growth reaches a certain level.

    But ads are just one aspect of not making the user the product – it’s far more complex than what you see on your screen. Like Google, Facebook is becoming a collection of apps and services instead of a single website. Just as Google has used the Google+ social network as a tool for consolidating personal information, Facebook has been singularly focused on becoming your online identity. What you say and do in one place is sure to be analyzed for use in another – and there have been no specific promises made about collecting, sharing, and analyzing the content of messages, relationships, and financial information that WhatsApp holds.

    It’s no surprise that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would act shrewdly in the interest of his company or that a business would try to make the most amount of money it possibly can. The story behind WhatsApp is a remarkable tale of hardship, vision, and perseverance. But once the celebrating and armchair analysis are over, what is left is a cautionary tale for consumers. In the rough, fast-moving world of technology, start-ups simply don’t have the credibility anymore to tell you how your information will be used down the line. So as users, you must act accordingly.

    WhatsApp is hardly alone; throughout the industry there is a focus on short-term gain over long-term impact. Few entrepreneurs want to build brands that last anymore. Silicon Valley looks down upon those who are not trying to sell out to a corporate giant as soon as possible. Just look at the criticism that SnapChat founder Evan Spiegel received for having the “audacity” to turn down an acquisition offer from Facebook. This gets to a greater contradiction at the heart of start-up culture today: the rhetoric is all about being different while the reality is starting to resemble corporate business as usual.

    In a company blog post, WhatsApp has made one final promise: “Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing.” Whether that is actually true or just more marketing and spin is up for the users to decide. All they need to do is look at what happened yesterday to see what lies ahead.

    This article originally appeared on Forbes – Disruption and Democracy. Check out my upcoming book, Identified: How They Are Getting To Know Everything About Us

  • VIDEO: Recreating zero gravity on film
    Gravity’s director Alfonso Cuaron and effects house Framestore on the painstaking process of creating the film’s award-winning special effects.
  • Ukraine Protester Olesya Zhukovska Tweeted After Being Shot In Neck
    KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — “I am dying,” Olesya Zhukovska, a 21-year-old volunteer medic, wrote on Twitter, minutes after she got shot in the neck by a sniper’s bullet as deadly clashes broke out in the center of the Ukrainian capital between protesters and police.

    The tweet, accompanied by a photo of her clutching her bleeding neck and being led away under fire, went viral, as social media users around the world presumed she had died and shared their grief and anger. But Zhukovska survived.

    She has become a symbol of the three-month protest of President Viktor Yanukovych’s government and a movement for closer ties with the West and human rights.

    “We stand for freedom, for our rights, for social independence, for democracy, for freedom of speech, for everything, for a normal life,” she told The Associated Press from her hospital bed in Kiev.

    Zhukovska was injured Thursday morning, when government snipers began firing at protesters on Independence Square, known as Maidan, a bastion of the demonstrations that began in November to protest Yanukovych’s decision to freeze ties with the European Union and seek financial aid from Russia.

    Scores were killed and hundreds injured in clashes this week in the deadliest violence Ukraine has seen in modern history. In the course of the protests, police have deliberately targeted journalists wearing press identification and medics labeled with white crosses, prompting an international outcry.

    Zhukovska, from a small town in western Ukraine, is a jolly paramedic with wavy dark hair and a birth mark on her right cheek. She has been volunteering as a nurse in the opposition’s sprawling tent camp on the Maidan for nearly three months, sleeping in tents, in dormitories set up in several administrative buildings seized by protesters, and in the homes of sympathetic Kiev residents.

    “I am apolitical, I am not member of any party. I am simply with the people,” a weak and pale-looking Zhukovska, her neck bandaged, told the AP. “I couldn’t watch this on TV. I had to be with the people.”

    She said she was shot as she walked around the camp with several friends. She became disoriented and thought that a grenade had exploded near her.

    “And then they told me: ‘Sweetheart, a sniper has shot you,'” Zhukovska recalled. “Then I looked at my hands and they were covered in blood, and I said, that’s it, I am dying.”

    One photo making the rounds on social media shows Zhukovska looking shocked, her eyes closed, clutching her bleeding neck and being led away by activists. As soon as she was taken to an ambulance, she said, she grabbed her phone and with fingers covered with blood, she tapped out “I am dying,” on her Vkontakte account, the local equivalent of Facebook. It is also linked to her Twitter page. Then, a doctor in the ambulance took the phone away.

    Soon, Twitter exploded with expressions of sorrow and rage, as many users feared she was dead. As of Friday night, Zhukovska’s post has generated more than 6,200 retweets. After hours of agonized waiting Thursday night, Oleh Musiy, a top medic for the protesters, told AP that Zhukovska had survived. Mykola Dyomin, head doctor at Hospital No. 17, where Zhukovska was admitted, said she has undergone surgery and should be discharged in about a week.

    “I am alive! Thank you to all those who are praying and supporting me,” she tweeted Friday. “I am in the hospital; my condition is stable for now!”

    Health Minister Raisa Bohatyryova, a top Yanukovych ally, visited the hospital where Zhukovska and scores of other injured activists were being treated Friday. She condemned violence against Zhukovska and said the government was not to blame.

    “Everything should be investigated,” she told reporters. “But if today, we as society, start assigning grades to everyone or passing personal judgments, it would be wrong, it wouldn’t be safe.”

    Bohatyryova’s words fell flat with one protester at the hospital, who shouted at her with his voice trembling with rage: “If only you knew, bitch, what I have lived through! I will never forgive you for what you did.”

    Zhukovska’s spirit was unwavering.

    “As soon as I get better, of course, I will go to the Maidan,” she said.

  • 'We Are All Barbie Girls' Illustrations By Colleen Clark Show What It Would Look Like If Dolls Represented All Women
    How great would it be if Barbie came in all dress sizes, body shapes and ethnicities?

    That’s what student and illustrator Colleen Clark thought when she was approached by Marie Claire South Africa to illustrate what a “feminist” Barbie might look like. For Clark, that meant an inclusive line-up of dolls that could represent every woman.

    “I was very inspired by the idea that feminism is as simple as accepting others and yourself unconditionally,” Clark told The Huffington Post in an email. “I wanted to make the point that ‘Feminist Barbie’ wouldn’t have just one look, style, or culture to her, because feminism should include everyone.”

    Though Barbie is in some ways a good role model for children — as Charlotte Alter at TIME pointed out, she’s had around 150 different careers — the doll’s ridiculous proportions are potentially harmful to girls’ body image.

    “I think that our continuous discussion of Barbie’s influence on girls has made her more diverse than ever, and hopefully it will only get better from here,” Clark told HuffPost.

    Check out her amazing illustrations below.

    barbie girls
    barbie girls
    barbie girls
    barbie girls

  • Mixed ruling for illegal downloaders
    A Canadian court orders a web firm to name customers accused of illegal downloads, but imposes conditions on the movie company that brought the case.
  • Most Air Travelers Support Ban Of Cell Phone Calls On Planes
    WASHINGTON (AP) — It looks like the government is more conflicted about cellphones on planes than most travelers. Even as one federal agency considers allowing the calls, another now wants to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Passengers — particularly those who fly often — oppose allowing calls in flight, polls show. In line with that sentiment, the Department of Transportation signaled in a 22-page notice posted online Friday that it wants to retain a ban on the calls. But the notice comes just two months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to pursue lifting the ban. Transportation regulates aviation consumer issues. The FCC has responsibility over whether the use of cellphones in flight would interfere with cellular networks on the ground.

    Congress is also getting into the act. Lawmakers are pushing legislation to require transportation regulators to implement a ban on the calls.

    Echoing some travelers’ concerns, the Transportation Department said in its notice on Friday that it believes allowing passengers to make cellphone calls “may be harmful or injurious” to other passengers.

    This is because “people tend to talk louder on cellphones than when they’re having face-to-face conversations,” the department said. “They are also likely to talk more and further increase the noise on a flight, as passengers would not be simply talking to the persons sitting next to them but can call whomever they like.”

    Some planes already have seat-back phones in place, but they are rarely used, it said.

    The “concern is not about individual calls, but rather the cumulative impact of allowing in-flight calls in close quarters,” the department said.

    In an Associated Press-GfK poll three months ago, 48 percent of those surveyed opposed letting cellphones be used for voice calls while planes are in flight, while 19 percent were in favor and 30 percent were neutral. Among those who’d flown four or more times in the previous year, the rate of opposition soared to 78 percent.

    Delta Air Lines told the government last year that 64 percent of its passengers indicated that the ability to make phone calls in flight would have a negative impact on their onboard experience.

    Among the most ardent opponents of lifting the current ban are flight attendants, who worry that phone conversation will spark arguments between passengers and even acts of violence.

    “Allowing passengers to use cellphones during commercial flights will add unacceptable risks to aviation security, compromise a flight attendant’s ability to maintain order in an emergency, increase cabin noise and tension among passengers and interfere with crewmembers in the performance of their duties as first responders in the cabin,” said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents nearly 60,000 flight attendants at 19 carriers.

    The current FCC ban was adopted in 1991 based on concern the calls planes might interfere with cellular networks on the ground, but technological advances have resolved those worries. In 2005, the FCC cleared the way for airlines to begin offering Wi-Fi in flight.

    Last October, the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates safety, dropped its ban on the use of personal electronic devices such as tablets, music players and smartphones to send email, to text or to surf the Internet during takeoffs and landings. The agency said it is no longer worried the devices will interfere with cockpit electronics. However, phone calls during takeoffs and landings are still prohibited.


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

  • Non-Profits and Social Media: 3 Steps to Defining Your Audience


    I recently wrote about how non-profits and NGOs need a plan to guide their social media efforts. One of the first steps in that plan is determining exactly who you’re trying to reach. An understanding of your audience should drive your entire social strategy. It will help you determine your goals, messaging and tone, and help give a better understanding of social analytics.

    Step One: Determine a Social Media Target Audience

    (Hint: your social media may not always target the same audiences as your website or other marketing channels)

    Choose a group of three to six audience types and create a journey map. Really get into it. Think of the people who make up each type: who they are, what they like to do and what they may want from an organization. From there, define why they’re the target:

    • Why are they important to your social strategy?
    • What actions do you want them to take?

    Step Two: Find Out How the Target Audience Uses Social Media

    Research, research, research… and more research. The information is out there; Pew Research studies, blogs and SlideShares are all good places to start. Questions to keep in mind:

    • What actions do your audiences take?
    • What are they looking for online?
    • What are they talking about?
    • What social platforms do they use the most?
    • What are they engaging with?
    • What time of day are they most active?

    Step Three: Do Some Internal Digging

    Find out more about your current fans and followers. You may be reaching an audience that you hadn’t planned for and that can factor into your strategy. Start by determining who your influential followers are and what they have in common with followers of your peers/competitors. From there you can figure out what content they are engaging with the most. Some great tools to get a better grasp of audience demographics are:
    Twiangulate — to help find connections/overlap in followers with peers and competitors
    FollowerWonk — allows for search of Twitter bios and other graphs and demographic information
    Facebook Insights — it’s vital to keep and eye on insights as well as specific fans of your organization’s page to get an understanding of who is already in the audience
    Statigram — shows most active Instagram followers and posts

    Now What?

    Brainstorm! Consider this research as a significant piece of the overall social media strategy puzzle. Use the information you gather to inform your content strategy — if researchers are looking for facts, incorporate more infographics and stats into your tweets. If donors are seeking a behind the scenes look at your organization or results from fundraisers, make sure to include photos of your next big event or stats about how much was raised on your Facebook page.

    Non-profits and NGOs need to stop thinking like an organization and begin thinking like their constituents. In turn, these social good organizations can enhance the online experience of their constituents and more importantly their lives.

  • An Urban Librarian's Manifesto to SXSW Interactive
    2014-02-20-VectorSilhouette_Cowboy.jpg Hello from the quiet profession. Hello to all you beautiful dreamers, you benders of time and space, you visionaries of the bright technological future. We love your leaps forward, we love the things you have made possible and we love you for the barriers you will lift away in the days to come.

    We welcome you to our journey, the great shift of information and entertainment to people, every people, all the people, everywhere, for free. You create games, design communications interfaces, make work go faster and smarter. You find ways to parse data for the next generation. You make information and entertainment accessible for people.

    Librarians have been doing these same tasks for years. We give people knowledge, entertainment, skills, inspiration. We are both outlet and portal. We are the human interface on the great sum total of (wo)mankind’s knowledge and sometimes we can offer that little bit of knowledge that will save your life. If not your life than that of someone you know or someone they know or somebody nobody knows but they still found their way through our doors.

    While our image may often be dusty and bespectacled there is an innate trust in our brand. If a librarian told it to you then it is probably true. That trust can extend to your idea if you convince us that it works. Everyone can access us and most everyone trusts us. It is an amazing network to use to get the word out, your word, any word whatever word that may be.

    Libraries have always been tech friendly. We created MARC and OPAC and we did it 50 years ago. In the new paradigm, libraries are increasingly active in knowledge acquisition using direct training and resources to grow job readiness, small business growth, and personal development. We don’t just sit there and wait for people to come and pull down the knowledge to their best abilities. No, in the modern library we take an active part in training and the intellectual development of our users.

    Find a librarian at SXSW Interactive — there are going to be a lot us there. Your perceptions and expectations of the profession will be challenged. There is a good chance that the librarian you meet will be much cooler than you expect. Think about how you are going to deal with that. Open your perceptions. Show us your library card and impress us with just how wonderfully beautifully fantastically brilliant you are then let’s use that to make something and to impact our communities for the better.

    This post was originally featured on urbanlibrariansunite.org.

    Urban Librarians Unite will be presenting at SXSW. They will also be out on the streets doing mobile reference and adult storytime, find us, ask us questions, talk to us. You may be surprised by what modern librarianship is like.

  • Fitbit issues recall of popular fitness tracker Force, cites concern about rash, suspends sales
    At iMedicalApps we’ve been covering the issues related to the Fitbit Force causing a rash for a few weeks now. When we published a review comparing the Jawbone UP24 to the Fitbit Force, it was met with several comments from readers stating how they were starting to develop a rash from the Force. We followed it up with an article focusing on the rash, and we wrote how we felt the Fitbit Force’s rash problem was more widespread than people […]
  • The Real Reason Facebook Bought WhatsApp
    Like a line from The Social Network, Facebook is acquiring WhatsApp for $16 billion or so (you wanna know what’s cool?). You may have seen the news bit.

    Let’s put it in some perspective. I’ve analyzed M&A since 1994, every major Internet deal, IPO and more. Some are guppy and some are whale. When whales mate there’s an unmistakeable bumping sound that even the Kazakhstan Navy picks up, a slap of thunder.

    Remember Woodstock? Well, maybe not because most of us were not born or were wee toddlers back then. But you know what it is, right? If not here’s the history: It was the 3-day love fest in upper New York state where throngs gathered to see each other naked while listening to Jimi Hendrix experiment with guitar and chemistry (that’s my edited Wikipedia version of it anyway).

    Well, think of Facebook as the place, the farm near Woodstock. A place. Why go there?


    WhatsApp is a band, like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

    Because Facebook’s biggest hole, biggest weakness (even for a company generating billions in revenue) is a reason to use it.

    Imagine Woodstock without the music. No naked bodies and no dreams of peace and love. Just an echo of farm animals (animal farm?).

    This will continue to be Facebook’s weakness. Why use it? It’s one reason with my new stealth mode venture HAPN (sign up for beta hapn.info) we focus 100% on the “why use it” factor. The core center value proposition has to be there.

    Connecting friends is great but not enough. That idea played well in 2005-2010 or so.

    So Facebook is smart to branch out via these acquisitions, acquire diversity of experience. Especially with its stock trading high, the currency is there to knock down these deals.

    And yes, we’ve seen these movies before. Yahoo made many mistakes along the way but NOT acquiring companies when it traded in the $150 BILLION market capitalization range. Facebook is not making that mistake. So far.

    In terms of valuation, Facebook is paying what looks like 30x revenue for WhatsApp, more like 15x two years out. Three years out looks even better, maybe 8x or so. Everyone laughed when Google bought YouTube in what was then an “absurd” price. But now YouTube is the place where most teens go for video, music, TV and more.

    So Zuckerberg is smart. First Instagram and now WhatsApp. What’s next? I bet more. Lots of acts (small and large) must fill the stage called Facebook for it to be a success longer term. Peace, love, web and roll.

  • 10 Surprisingly Sturdy Items For Your Home Even You Can't Break (PHOTOS)
    We’ve all been there. You’re hosting a dinner party and the gorgeous glass pitcher crashes to the ground. Or your kids bumped into your favorite lamp while playing in the house (which you’ve told them not to do a million times).

    We feel your pain. That’s why we’ve rounded up these 10 items that look every bit the part of their higher-priced, more fragile friends but will survive a lot longer than the average thing you’d pick up as a replacement. Because everyday chaos happens — but that doesn’t mean you have to trade style for practicality.

    The Mushroom Lamp
    As demonstrated at the imm Cologne and Maison & Objet 2014 furniture and trade shows in Paris, the lamp gently rocks from side to side after being knocked over until it comes to rest in a standing position, where it puts “normal” light fixtures everywhere to shame.

    Menu Rubber Vase
    rubber vase

    Acrylic Stemless Wine Glass
    wine glass

    Acrylic Pitcher

    Polycarbonate Rocks Glass
    rocks glass

    Vivaldi Collins Glass

    Pedestal Bowl
    pedestal bowl

    Acrylic Dinnerware

    Outdoor Dish Sets
    more dinnerware

    And, of course, this chair

    Have something to say? Check out HuffPost Home on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.


    Do you have a home story idea or tip? Email us at homesubmissions@huffingtonpost.com. (PR pitches sent to this address will be ignored.)

  • Fitbit Recalls Fitbit Force After Complaints Of Severe Rashes
    Fitbit has recalled its popular activity-tracking wristband, the Fitbit Force, after a number of customers complained of serious skin rashes, blisters and peeling skin after wearing the device.

    Fitbit announced on Friday that it has stopped selling the Force and is recalling all previously sold Fitbit Forces, which have been on the market for just four months. After The Huffington Post and others last month reported customer complaints of severe skin irritation, Fitbit hired independent labs and medical experts to test the devices. They found the device caused skin problems for 1.7 percent of wearers. Fitbit will refund Fitbit Force owners the full retail value of their devices.

    “On behalf of the entire Fitbit team, I want to apologize to anyone affected,” CEO James Park said in an open letter to customers.

    Fitbit has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the public’s growing appetite for “wearable” devices to monitor physical well-being. Startups like Fitbit and Jawbone, along with established players such as Nike and Samsung, have competed to sell wristbands and clip-on devices that can track such data as calories burned and hours slept.

    Fitbit leads the pack in wearable bands, selling more wristbands than any other company during the second half of 2013, according to analysts at Canalys.

    In an email, the company said that skin irritation was likely the result of an allergic reaction to “materials” in the device. After apologizing and offering a refund to affected customers last month, Fitbit said the rashes and peeling skin may have been caused by sensitivity to the device’s elastic band, to nickel in its stainless steel or to bacteria that may accumulate on the band.

  • Comcast, Time Warner Cable To Face 'Monopsony' Claims In Antitrust Case
    By David Ingram
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – If U.S. antitrust enforcers decide to challenge the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable Inc, it may be because of an idea with a funny-sounding name that has been gaining currency in government offices.
    The idea is monopsony power, the mirror image of the better-known monopoly power but a concept that is just as old.
    A monopoly is one seller with many buyers, while a monopsony (pronounced muh-NOP-suh-nee) is one buyer with many sellers. A textbook example is a milk processor that is the only option for dairy farmers to sell to, and that then forces farmers to sell for less.
    The U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division is all but certain to examine the potential monopsony power, or buying power, that a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable would have over media companies that provide TV programming, according to lawyers with expertise in antitrust law.
    The combined company would have a near 30 percent share of the U.S. pay television market, Comcast has said, as well as be a major provider of broadband Internet access.
    “It’s a potential concern,” said Maurice Stucke, a former Justice Department antitrust lawyer who is now a University of Tennessee professor and of counsel at the law firm GeyerGorey.
    “It’s not as much in the limelight as monopoly, but monopsony has always been part of the antitrust laws,” he said.
    Monopsony concerns tend to have a lower profile because they may not directly affect consumers. The harm to the market comes if suppliers go out of business, which reduces society’s overall output, or if suppliers have less money to invest in new technology, equipment and expansion.
    Consumers may even benefit from monopsony if a company cuts its prices, although the savings are not always passed along. In the case of Comcast-Time Warner Cable, it could be argued that a more powerful pay TV operator may be able to lower fees if it can negotiate lower programming costs with the TV studios.
    “It’s a monopsony problem when it threatens to decrease output. If all it does is reduce cost, it’s a good thing,” said Herbert Hovenkamp, a University of Iowa law professor.
    He added: “Monopsony is one of those things that is frequently claimed and rarely proven.”
    Princeton University economist Paul Krugman criticized the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger in a February 15 post on his New York Times blog titled, “Monopsony Begets Monopoly, And Vice Versa.”
    Comcast “is able to extract far more favorable deals from content providers than smaller rivals,” Krugman wrote. “And if it’s allowed to acquire (Time Warner Cable), it will be even more advantaged.”
    Others say it is hard to see how a media conglomerate like Walt Disney Co, or even smaller content providers, would feel much pain from slightly lower payments or from one fewer way to distribute shows.
    “Given the rapidly increasing number of avenues for distributing content, I think that’s far-fetched,” said Jeffrey Eisenach, an economic consultant who has done work for Comcast in the past but is not working on the merger.
    Asked about the possibility of a monopsony challenge, a spokeswoman for Comcast pointed to a 2009 federal appeals court ruling that said there was “overwhelming evidence” that the communications marketplace was competitive. The ruling threw out a regulation designed to limit market share among companies such as Comcast to 30 percent.
    “Today there are even more types of video competition than when the court threw out the case,” Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice wrote in an email.
    She said TV networks can distribute their programs to consumers in many ways, such as DirecTV’s satellite service or Verizon’s FiOS video service. There are also video streaming sites, such as Netflix and Hulu.
    Antitrust experts said Comcast and Time Warner Cable may be able to address some government concerns by extending the terms of a settlement that Comcast signed with the Justice Department in 2011 to secure approval to buy NBC Universal. For instance, Comcast promised to make programming, such as cable news channel CNBC, available to competing pay-TV companies.
    Review of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal is expected to take several months. Either the Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission will examine it for antitrust compliance, while the Federal Communications Commission will rule on whether it is in the public interest.
    The antitrust standard is whether the deal would substantially lessen competition. If government lawyers believe it would, they could sue in federal court. Sometimes even the threat of a suit is enough to scuttle a deal.
    Monopsony has been getting more attention within the Justice Department. A senior staff economist, Gregory Werden, wrote a paper in 2007 arguing that the original U.S. antitrust law, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, was designed to protect sellers as well as end-user consumers.
    In 2010, the department drew attention to monopsony concerns when it released revised guidelines for corporations considering mergers. The guidelines replaced a document from 1997 and included an expanded discussion of monopsony.
    When suppliers do not have “numerous attractive outlets for their goods or services,” the two agencies “may conclude that the merger of competing buyers is likely to lessen competition in a manner harmful to sellers,” the guidelines said.
    Wal-Mart Stores Inc has routinely faced criticism that it has monopsony power because of its ability to drive down the prices it pays suppliers. But the retail giant’s defenders say there is little evidence that suppliers are hurt, and Wal-Mart’s low prices for customers also make it popular.
    Monopsony is most often an issue in agriculture.
    In 1999, the Justice Department feared that Cargill Inc’s plan to acquire part of Continental Grain Co would concentrate the market for buying corn, soybeans and wheat, and it approved the acquisition only after the global commodities trader agreed to sell off grain elevators.
    The Justice Department sued in 2008 to block the combination of two of the top four U.S. beef packers, JBS SA and National Beef Packing Co, saying it would have hurt both cattle suppliers and consumers. The companies abandoned the deal four months later.
    In the context of the pay TV market, a key question is how a channel would fare if it were not carried by a merged Comcast-Time Warner Cable.
    “If you’re told you can’t reach 30 percent of a potential market, how significant is that for a competitor who wants to produce? That’s a technical question,” said Peter Carstensen, a University of Wisconsin law professor.
    “You’ve got to put the data together. You’ve got to come up with a plausible story, with witnesses, with the econometrics, to make that case,” he said, “and whether that can be done convincingly, I don’t know.”
    (Additional reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Howard Goller and Tiffany Wu)
  • Elders Try Flappy Bird With Hilarious Results (VIDEO)
    Flappy Bird is hard enough for millenials, but imagine if you didn’t grow up with computer games?

    In TheFineBros latest installment of their “Elders React” series, the comedy team sat a group of elders down in front of the latest gaming craze Flappy Bird.

    The game, which made waves for both its simplicity and its difficulty, has recently been taken down. Previously, it was available in Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google play store.

    Apparently, the people downloading the game onto their mobile devices weren’t much different than the elders playing it for TheFineBros — they also found it horribly frustrating.

    “This is torture, you know?” one woman said.

    “I hate this and I hate you guys!” another exclaimed.

    Watch the video to see more!

  • Forums: Larger iPads? Yea or nay?
    This week in the MacNN Forums, members debate the practicality of larger iPads in the thread titled “What would a larger iPad really be good for?” which was started by Mac Elite “PeterParker,” who wondered if iPads portability is actually its best feature. In the thread titled “iMessage black hole” Mac Elite “abbaZaba” was trying to figure out why it was that when people switched from an iPhone to a phone running Android, messages sent from iMessage would seem to get lost — and they wondered if fellow forum-goers had a similar experience.


  • Apps released after publication of 2013 ACC/AHA guidelines offer insights into future opportunities
    Here we look at the apps released around these major guidelines, searching for insights on how apps are being used to implement practice recommendations.
  • 5 Reasons Your Company's Mobile Recruitment Strategy Is Failing
    Mobile technology has completely changed the job search and hiring process. Whereas candidates once sat at a computer to job search, recruiters now have to deal with a slew of candidates who are passively job searching as they browse their iPad or check their smartphone throughout the day.

    Plenty of companies have developed mobile recruitment strategies to adapt to this change in candidate behavior. In fact, 33 percent of Fortune 500 companies have adapted their career sites for mobile devices.

    But optimizing a career site for mobile devices isn’t the only thing companies need to do to drive mobile recruitment. If your company has done this but still isn’t seeing an improvement in hiring volume or quality of candidates, it may be a sign your mobile recruitment strategy has holes.

    Here are five reasons your mobile recruitment strategy be failing, no matter the size of your organization:

    You aren’t focusing on passive candidates. Your mobile recruitment strategy doesn’t just mean optimizing your career site for mobile devices — it means attracting candidates who may not even be on the job search in the first place. Try inbound marketing techniques like adding regular blog content, social media updates and contests, mobile-optimized YouTube videos, or SEO landing pages to draw in potential candidates. These techniques offer a backwards approach to getting candidate eyes on your job openings.

    You haven’t checked the time. On average, people look at their mobile devices in the morning between the time they wake up and when they get to work or class — between 6:30 and 9:15am. They check their devices again during lunch, between 11:45am and 2:20pm, and finally, from 4:30 to 9:45pm. Think of it this way: people used to take smoke breaks during work — now, they take Facebook breaks. Your mobile recruitment strategy should anticipate job candidates will be searching during these times in order to respond to postings in a timely manner.

    You’re silent. Uncertainty can be expected in the job search process, but job candidates don’t like to be ignored — they want to be kept in the loop as to the status of their application or resume. If your mobile recruitment strategy doesn’t include live-manning social media or an online talent network to answer candidate questions, job seekers may come away with a negative perception of your company. Your team should be living in online and mobile channels during the times mentioned above and live-manning social media feeds, email accounts, or incoming messages.

    Your mobile sites are too messy. Perhaps your company has attempted to reach passive candidates with blog posts or webinars. This is a great strategy, but it won’t work if your content isn’t optimized for retargeting or easy bookmarking. Remember, you don’t have a candidate’s full attention on a mobile device — often, they’re checking these devices during a commute, on a bus, or while sitting in front of the TV. They may not have time to watch a webinar or read a lengthy blog post, so make it easy for them to come back to this content on the Web later.

    Your process lags. If your mobile recruitment process relies on asking candidates to complete the next steps of their job search away from your site, like checking LinkedIn for job openings or switching to a new webpage to apply, it’s too complicated and you’ll lose interest. Consider using software to ensure the process is seamless on their mobile devices. Look for social recruiting software that allows companies to mobilize their employees to help with referrals and curate talent networks via automation. Software like this can ensure your recruitment process doesn’t leave any holes.

    Creating a solid mobile recruitment strategy for your company means paying attention to minute details. Follow these tips for fine-tuning your process, and watch your new hires soar.

    Kes Thygesen is the co-founder and head of product at RolePoint, a complete social recruiting suite that provides unrivaled access and reach to quality job candidates. Connect with him and RolePoint on LinkedIn and Twitter.

  • The Story Behind That Insane Shanghai Tower Climb

    The insane YouTube video of Vadim Makhorov and Vitaly Raskalov swept across the interwebs this week, inducing vertigo everywhere. Not only was a stomach-dropping video produced, but some pretty jaw-dropping point of view photos as well. We corresponded with Vadim Makhorov, one half of Team ‘ontheroofs’.

    Hi Vadim, thanks for taking the time! The video of your climb is crazy, but it’s not the first you’ve ever done. What made you so interested in climbing these landmarks?

    Yes, we do have a lot of videos. We started shooting them ever since we climbed the Moscow Bridge in Kiev. We climbed to the pylon right by the cables that time. The video got more than 1.5 million views.

    We climb to the top of buildings to see the city from an unusual angle. But this is just a small part of what we do.

    Are you particularly proud of this one?

    No. How can you be proud of climbing somewhere high? I think only professional mountaineers can be proud of their ascents.

    What sparked your interest in photography?

    I started taking photos four years ago. It was completely random. I just took a few shots with a camera phone and I liked it, so I bought a camera and off we go.

    Is photography a hobby or a profession?

    There’s a saying that the best hobby is the one that also feeds you. That applies here.

    Do you plan out your climbs and shoots before you do them? What goes into planning it?

    Yes, we do plan them. Every time it’s different. It’s hard to say what goes into planning. We wouldn’t be too happy if other people followed in our footsteps. It’s extremely dangerous.

    What were you feeling during your first climb?

    Unsurprisingly, I felt complete delight. You could see the whole city, and the people below me looked like ants.

    Are you ever afraid of getting caught by the police?

    Nope, we are not afraid. ‘Hunting season’ is open on us. Not because we have broken the law, but because our actions had a public outcry. The police don’t like it when something goes against their rule book.

    What equipment do you take with you on your shoots?

    I’ve been shooting with Canon5D Mark III, Canon 70-200 4L, 17-40 4L. Vitaly shoots with exactly the same lenses, but Canon 6D camera instead.

    Do you do any other type of photography?

    Yes, we not only take photos from the roof tops, but also underground. We do take a lot of photos during our travels, but that’s mostly for ourselves. I also shoot a lot of industrial shoots – factories and such.

    How did you find out about 500px and what do you like about it?

    It was a while ago, when 500px was just getting started. I signed up for an account at the time when you needed a promo code to get access. I wasn’t active in the beginning because I thought that my photos were not worthy of being on the site.

    I like 500px because you can see really great photos there. The same cannot be said about other photo sharing sites, especially Russian ones.

    You guys are heroes now. What are your plans for the future?

    Plans for the future? I’d love to continue to travel, and don’t stop at the current progress. But apart from the travel plans we have lots of ideas. We are keeping them discreet, but you’ll find out about them in the due course.

    Owls. Yay or Nay?

    I wonder why this is a traditional question for you? I’m pretty neutral to owls.

    What are your thoughts on rooftopping? Daring or dangerous?

  • The Egonomics of Clout (Klout): Don't Let Ego Outrank Your Influence in Business
    Before we begin. Yes, I spelt Clout correctly!

    The dictionary definition of ‘clout’ reads: a heavy blow with the hand or a hard object or “a clout round the ear.”

    Else it refers to an influence or power, especially in politics or business such as “I knew she carried a lot of clout.”

    Clout v Klout

    Your initial grammatical skepticism is, however, understood and is symbiotic of the new social language of business and marketing in a digital age powered by social influence.

    Last week news broke that Lithium Technologies was to acquire ‘Klout’, a business that focuses on analyzing who is influential in social media, and a term more synonymous with digital savvy marketers — for a fee reported to be at least $100 million. It is no surprise that technology and vanity = money. Note: I like what Klout is doing, but more on that later.

    Both humans and brands in this day and age are largely vain and egotistical beings, spending considerable amounts of time improving our collective online appearance and worrying about what others think of us. The rampant rise of social media, proliferation of online personas and image crafting has no doubt only fueled these flames. But when does vanity become ego and ego become egotistical? When do brands cross a line? And are new media ‘ego-metrics’ of influence actually useful to your business? The answer, I believe, lies below:

    Vanity Marketing and Ego-metrics

    For years now marketers have used vanity as a brand-building tactic in comparison to traditional product marketing. The focus here was on the individual. Combine this with the aspirational qualities of said brand and this manifests into an altogether more enlightening, experiential brand appeal. You no longer owned a product, you became a brand.

    Nike is a great example of ego focused branding. The product actually comes second as marketing is focused around the user, a user who achieves great things, a user who is on a path to self-betterment and that just so happens to be using Nike products while doing so.

    With Nike, you don’t so much need the product to succeed. The consumer uses the product because they succeed. They “Just do it.”

    Photo courtesy of Nike

    Recently Nike’s vanity marketing came head-to-head with ego defined, a certain Kanye West, culminating in a newsworthy clash of egos. While on stage as part of his latest sellout tour, superstar rapper Kanye West led a six minute long rant about his failed celebrity endorsement with the brand.

    “Even though Nike wouldn’t take his call, other forward-thinking companies will.”

    Taking this well documented fall out between ego (aka Kanye West) and the [was] Nike relationship, it is clear to see how the lines between vanity marketing, influence and endorsement have blurred.

    The Ego v The Egotist

    The line between the ego and the egotist is a fine one. Whilst ego can be viewed as a philosophy of introspection, self-awareness and pride, egotism can be viewed as self centered, arrogant and result in narcissism. It is fine for any business, brand or individual to have ego. We are human and have feeling of pride and self worth. However the fine line between being viewed as ‘proud’ or as ‘boastful and arrogant’ is tight. It’s a well-trodden path, that arguably in recent times many brands have crossed.

    This battle of ego v’s egotist can act in a multitude of ways: both invoking support and developing affinity for a brand or distancing you entirely, whether purposefully or not.

    Grey Poupon’s recent brand overhaul plays on their once strong brand ego in a satirical sense. They purposefully pull no punches, if you don’t know enough about the product you simply don’t cut the mustard.


    Another example is shown by U.S. clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch. Their policy for actively only hiring good looking people (so it seems) and even making them stand around in their stores topless allows us to question this further.

    Photograph: Richard Young/Rex Features

    Technology, Social and Ego-metrics

    This phenomenon may have been born out of this rise in marketers attempting to grade influence, joining the ever-increasing requirement for brands to define this. To develop and encourage the adoption of these ego-metrics to feed their own ego, and incite headlines that see them included in lists of “most influential brand” or “widest social reach”.

    Many social platforms themselves thrive on ego and vanity, the burning desire for individuals to tell people exactly what they’re doing at this exact moment in time, or posting pictures of their lunch. However when brands replicate this behavior wander too far past the line, it moves them away from proud or self-aware, to downright arrogant and narcissistic.

    This is no less why many ego based technology tools exist in the first place. Through developing a variety of influence-orientated metrics, this ultimately enables brands to position their influence [read: ego] against their competitors. They consider these ‘ego-metrics’ as part of their core marketing KPIs, utilizing vanity based figures to help them thrive on their ego and set them apart from others.

    The Black Market of Influence

    This focus on influence metrics has inevitably caused an increase in attempting to game them. Ego, it seems, also belongs to the stakeholders whose jobs are defined (and appraised) by these influence metrics. The currency of social influence can be seen through multiple companies offering Facebook likes, Twitter followers or YouTube views at a cost, just Google ‘buy Facebook likes’ to see for yourself.

    Not long ago did stories orientated on ‘like’ or ‘click farming’ start hitting the headlines and, reminiscent of the old days of SEO, like ‘exchanges’ are also getting relatively widely discussed. This inevitably caused the major social networks to set out on a mission to protect their own ego, by attempting to uncover false or duplicate accounts and clamp down on this kind of activity. But the process of commoditizing influence had already started, and the demand was very real.

    Suffice to say, partaking in any of these activities ultimately means that you’re diluting your audience in a quest for quantitative, ego-driven influence metrics. You’re not an influencer; you’re a ego-driven fake. And what’s worse is you’re investing in your own ignorance. If there were ever an ROI (in this case Return on Ignorance) you’d be scoring highly indeed.

    Ego and Influence

    The key difference between ego by quantity and ego by quality is that the latter has a focus based on merit. This merit defines your clout, in the very true sense of the word.
    Don’t forget that, much like any form of genuine interaction with your consumers, there is no short cut, no get out of jail free card.

    We should not forget here that that social platforms themselves thrive on ego and vanity, the burning desire for individuals to tell people exactly what they’re doing at this exact moment in time, or posting pictures of their lunch. However when brands replicate this behavior, they wander too far past the line and it moves them away from proud or self-aware, to downright arrogant and narcissistic.

    Real influence has to be earned, and when you consider whether or not you are actively influencing your customer, then think of the end-user and focus on the recipient. If you’re struggling to envision this (because you bought your way to 100,000 Twitter followers) then your question already has an answer.

    This is less of a case of influence and more one of an over inflated ego. To paraphrase John Hall (Influence & Co), the focus should be on being meaningful vs. reaching an audience.

    Content Clout

    Real influence should be directly correlated to pure quality content and not by social votes that can be bought, exchanged or listed subjectively.

    Klout, now matter how imperfect some may say it is, does actually look at influence by value and quality influenced by merit. The future of real qualitative influence will go one step further using quality content as part of the new influencer equation.

    Quality content is a key catalyst in the formation of influence. Klout is now aiming to present content from others that can be shared. This new type of content curation ties into the user’s social graph giving them the ability to view and share content content that resonates/influences them.

    Don’t Let Ego Outrank Influence

    Ultimately the game hasn’t changed here and ego and vanity marketing is here to stay. There is a fine line to tread, but if you create great enough content, marketing then it will do more than just empty your shelves. It will develop your clout as a brand, captivating your customers’ imaginations. It will embody their aspirations and align them alongside you and your brand vision, defining your brand perception. Developing your ego with theirs. Utilizing their influence and social reach to leverage your return on influence.

    However, don’t succumb to the mistakes commonly made by many attempting to grade influence through volume-based, un-scientific and crude measurements such as follower counts. Influence does not equal follower count. Vanity metrics are not always the right metrics and are sometimes dangerously misleading. Use them at your peril.

    End Note

    There exists an entire generation now that are digitally enabled, comfortable and most importantly, vocal. Stay focused, humble, empathetic and understanding when your customers always in sight and earshot when you’re conducting your marketing activity. Focus on quality of content to avoid some of the misleading vanity metrics that people throw your way. Focus on genuine influence. Klout is actually heading in the right direction.

Mobile Technology News, February 21, 2014

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

  • Google Street View Captures Remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands For First Time
    Want to visit America’s largest conservation area? Tough luck: the massive Papahanaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which includes most of the northwestern Hawaiian islands, is closed to the public.

    But, as we all know, Google specializes in making private things public, and for once, we’re very grateful.

    Last July, lucky staffers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent a week in the conservation area with Google Street View Trekker equipment. The thousands of images they captured across five remote islands (Tern Island, East Island, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, and Pearl and Hermes Atoll), were recently made public, allowing folks like us to finally witness even a smidgen of the untouched sites’ beauty and wonder.

    Papahanaumokuākea (learn to pronounce it here) encompasses 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean — an area, Hawaii magazine points out, that is larger than all of the National Park Serivice’s sites combined.

    Its coral reefs are home to thousands of marine animals, including many endangered species, and the picturesque beaches see 22 different species of birds. The area was declared a cultural World Heritage Site as well as a natural one because of its significance in Hawaiian culture.

    The five newly mapped islands lie about 550 to 1200 miles northwest of Honolulu.

    Click each island name below to check them out for yourself:

    Tern Island
    tern island

    Pearl and Hermes Atoll
    pearl and hermes atoll

    Lisianski Island
    lisianski island

    East Island
    east island

    Laysan Island
    laysan island

    (h/t Hawaii Magazine)

  • Meg Whitman: Traditional PCs drive growth, not just tablets
    HP CEO says PC market contraction is slowing and customers need more than just a tablet for ‘real work.’
  • Google unveils 3D sensor smartphone
    Google unveils a prototype smartphone with “customised hardware and software” that enables it to create 3D maps of a user’s surroundings.
  • VIDEO: Xiaomi takes on smartphone rivals
    China’s Xiaomi is not yet a global name, but the smartphone maker is now hoping to expand beyond its native China. Puneet Pal Singh speaks to Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra.
  • WhatsApp CEO Is Against Whatever Facebook Is For
    Mark Zuckerberg may be Facebook friends with the guys whose company he just bought for $19 billion. But by all indications, Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s CEO and Facebook’s newest board member, just doesn’t like Facebook very much.

    Koum’s Facebook profile is sparse by comparison with most, with airtight privacy settings that keep strangers from viewing his friends, his photos and his interests. His Facebook profile picture is as blank as they come: It’s a plain, white square.

    When asked in a 2012 interview with The Recapp to name his favorite apps other than WhatsApp, Koum listed just three: “On my iPhone 3GS, I use Instagram, Twitter and Touch,” he said.

    Facebook, the company that just made Koum a billionaire several times over, is notably absent from that list.

    The portrait of Koum that emerges from his interviews and social media posts over the past several years is that of a company founder who jealously guards his privacy and staunchly rejects both data collection and mobile advertising — values that clash with the core principles on which Facebook is built.

    WhatsApp was created around the premise that it should collect as little information about the people using its service as possible. This commitment grew out of Koum’s personal experience with intrusive government surveillance during his childhood in the Ukraine, where he saw friends and dissidents punished for private speech. Though Facebook is certainly no totalitarian regime, the company does track each message that passes through its servers. Koum emphasized how different this model is from WhatsApp’s in an interview with Wired just before the acquisition.

    “I grew up in a society where everything you did was eavesdropped on, recorded, snitched on,” Koum said. “People need to differentiate us from companies like Yahoo! and Facebook that collect your data and have it sitting on their servers. We want to know as little about our users as possible. We don’t know your name, your gender… We designed our system to be as anonymous as possible.”

    Koum has stressed in previous interviews that he seeks to keep his personal life and his business affairs private, while Facebook prefers to have us make our lives an open book. Koum’s Facebook profile could almost pass for a spam account, though it’s the only “Jan Koum” who is friends with WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, and the account is an administrator of the WhatsApp Facebook group. Koum did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Koum has also been an outspoken critic of online advertising, arguing that it intrudes on what he considers the intimate space of a smartphone and is quickly forgotten. Facebook, of course, draws most of its revenue from brands that pay to reach its more than 1 billion members.

    “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need,” Koum tweeted in 2011, quoting a line from the movie Fight Club.

    Koum and Acton have said publicly that they oppose data tracking, another favorite practice of Facebook that undergirds its core business.

    “Everything is tied to our rejection of advertising,” Koum told El Pais in 2012. “We worked for a long time at Yahoo! and when we left we decided to create something that would have nothing to do with this model where the user is the product — something that would be a more conscious, private experience.”

    The difference between the values of Koum and those of Facebook is hardly bad news for the company. If anything, it may be to Facebook’s advantage — and its members’ — to have a strong advocate for privacy and anonymity in the upper echelons of the social network. And the timing is especially fortuitous for Facebook, which faces growing competition from apps like Snapchat that lets users, and their messages, disappear.

    Whether Koum’s principles will be made to disappear within Facebook, however, is another matter entirely.

  • How to Find Someone's Secret Hangups by Looking at Their Profile Photo

    Image by freeparking (Flickr), CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

    You are judged by your appearance. Fully aware of this reality, you dress and style yourself accordingly (whether you care to admit this or not). What you might not realize is how often you are judged by your online appearance — namely your social media profile photos. Even if you have only the most rudimentary of online presences, your chosen avatars may get more views (and judgment) than your actual face.

    My interest in the revelatory nature of profile photos piqued after I kicked off ArtCorgi, a site that makes it easy to commission original, personalized art from up-and-coming artists. Many people commission social media profile images and avatars through our site as part of a concerted effort to take ownership of (and control) the way they come across online. The images they commission reflect their values, their interests and their best attributes.

    I found myself wondering if profile images are something that require more thought and careful presentation. And I realized that they do. Whether in the midst of email correspondence, Twitter and Facebook chatting, or online background checking, people are judging your online profile photos — and they might be saying more about you than you’d like.

    The Maslow’s Need Hierarchy of Profile Photos

    One way to look at online avatars is through the perspective of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychological theory that ranks human psychological needs from the most fundamental to the most refined and developed.

    By Factoryjoe, CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

    Those who are barely functioning in society are stuck with needs at the bottom of the pyramid; those who are thriving pursue those at the top. People find it difficult to focus on more refined needs when their basic needs are not met (so even very successful and self-aware people can find themselves mentally plunked back to the bottom of the hierarchy when they feel they’re in danger or are incredibly hungry).

    Conveniently, Maslow’s needs can be seen pretty clearly in many individuals’ profile photos, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter cover photos, and pictorial updates. Let’s explore them.

    Physiological Needs

    The physiological needs associated with Maslow’s hierarchy have to do with basic everyday needs: air, food, water, sleep and sex.

    These needs shine through in those ever-popular profile and social media photos depicting subjects with hot girls/guys. They can also be seen in profile photos in which the subject is posing with food (or perhaps just showcasing the food alone).

    You may think that frequent online food photo posters might just really like food, but some psychologists suggest that the behavior may be associated with eating disorders (both associated with being overweight and underweight). Disorder or not, those touting sex and food in their social media profiles are communicating their strong desire to have physiological needs met.

    Safety Needs

    Per Maslow’s hierarchy, safety needs are associated with a desire for security, physical safety, employment, health, property and family.

    Profile photos particularly revelatory of these needs include those touting personal wealth (showing off big purchases, nice houses or expensive vacations) fancy jobs (tradeshows, important meetings, etc.) and fitness (running marathons, biking and showing off nice muscles). Those showing off their various forms of security may be revealing their heavy orientation around that particular need.


    The love/belonging needs associated with Maslow’s hierarchy address family, friendship and sexual intimacy.

    Surely you can name several friends whose profile photos feature not just themselves, but themselves ensconced alongside a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, son, daughter or pet. Those who mostly post photos of themselves with the ones they love (or just the ones they love) may be quite likely to be caught up on this rung of the hierarchy.


    Maslow’s take on esteem relates to gaining others’ respect, achieving great things, being self-confident and getting along well with others.

    Nothing screams a need for esteem like a profile photo featuring the subject speaking on stage (surely you’ve seen the token TED Talk headshot floating around on more than a small handful of profiles). Other profile photos suggesting esteem needs include those depicting impressive feats (e.g. the subject climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or receiving an award) and being surrounded by smiling friends and colleagues. Esteem needs might also be reflected in the presentation of images other than oneself in a profile photo: the use of images touting causes, showcasing celebrities or depicting a favorite fictional character communicate an individual’s desire to be associated with a certain group or movement.


    Self-actualization involves reaching the pinnacle of one’s ability: accepting facts, abandoning prejudice, acting in a moral manner, solving problems and becoming creative and spontaneous.

    The profile photos of self-actualized people are amongst the most difficult to pin. The most common behavior amongst those considered to be self-actualized (successful leaders, CEOs, etc.) is to post straight-on headshots. This could have just as much to do with these people having professional headshots done for other purposes and designated teams managing their online appearances as it has to do with their supposed enlightenment. But if one is at peace with oneself and focused on higher goals, is a straightforward headshot not the most logical thing to use for an image that is supposed to depict… well… a straightforward headshot?

    Think Through Your Online Image

    Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is simply one of many psychological theories and by no means a universally-accepted means by which people’s psychological needs can be placed. That said, it doesn’t hurt to take time to consider what your profile photo says about your interests, needs and values, and Maslow’s hierarchy offers a simple structure to use.

    I encourage you to evaluate your present online avatars (and other social media photos) to determine if they line up with the identity you wish to project.

    When in doubt: get a nice headshot!

  • Domain shift sends cyber world dotty
    How new top-level web domain names will transform business
  • Amazon Prime Pricing: A Sensitive Subject
    Churn Data Belies Intent to Renew Memberships
    Loyalty Depends on Video, Other Factors

    Consumer Intelligence Research Partners released new survey analysis of member loyalty and price sensitivity of Amazon Prime members from Amazon, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). This analysis indicates that Prime membership is growing even as customers already cancel memberships at a higher-than-expected rate, and a price increase could dampen membership growth.

    Based on our survey analysis, we estimate that as of February 7, 2014 Amazon had approximately 26.9 million Amazon Prime members, an increase from our estimate of 16.7 million as of September 30, 2013. Amazon Prime members account for 45% of all Amazon customers (see chart). Among Amazon buyers, 32% are not and never have been Amazon Prime members, while 23% previously had a Prime membership that they did not renew.

    Amazon Customer Prime Membership Status


    Almost a quarter of Amazon buyers in the survey period had a Prime membership, but let it lapse. One way to look at this is that Amazon Prime is not for everyone, but trying out Amazon Prime is for almost everyone. About three-quarters of those that did not renew their membership did so because of cost.

    Among Amazon Prime members, almost all intend to renew their current membership at the current $79 price. 94% of survey subjects “definitely” or “probably” will renew their membership (see chart).

    Intent to Renew Amazon Prime


    CIRP also checked the renewal intent at the proposed $99 and $119 prices, and found dramatically different results. At $99, under half of subjects think will either definitely or probably renew. And at $119, 40% of subjects say they will definitely not renew their membership.

    Frequent use of Amazon Prime free Instant Video seems to be the most powerful lever to promote loyalty. Among frequent users of the Amazon Prime Free Streaming Video service, defined as those that use it at least once a week, 100% say they will “definitely” or “probably” renew their Amazon Prime membership, assuming the current price. At $99, 69% of frequent video users say they will “definitely” or “probably” renew, and at $119, 29% say they will “definitely” or “probably” renew.

    Amazon has created a set of loyal customers using both free shipping and free streaming video benefits of Amazon Prime. Yet it seems that even these dedicated customers have their limits, and a 50% price increase to $119 could push a significant portion of them away from Amazon Prime.

    CIRP based these findings on its survey of 300 subjects who made a purchase at Amazon.com in the three-month period ending February 7, 2014.

    For additional information, please contact CIRP.

  • Barclay's analyst downgrades AAPL on growth worries
    There is a tendency among analysts to think of Apple as only “the iPhone maker” and ignore its other products and services, feeling that the fortunes of its most popular and profitable product — the iPhone — is the key to the company’s overall health, at least in terms of its performance on Wall Street. Barclay’s analyst Ben Reitzes told investors in a memo on Thursday that he expects AAPL to stay within a narrow range for the next two years.


  • No Games, No Ads, No Gimmicks: Why WhatsApp Is The Startup Silicon Valley Deserved
    Two days ago, if I’d mentioned the name Jan Koum, you would’ve had no idea who I was talking about.

    Today, you might recognize him as the now billionaire CEO of WhatsApp, the messaging service that on Wednesday announced it was acquired by social networking juggernaut Facebook in the largest acquisition ever for a venture-backed company.

    The deal has understandably drawn a staggering amount of media attention. There are now profiles of Koum and his humble beginnings and statistics justifying the deal’s high price tag. The publicity has shed some light on this otherwise very understated company run by a couple of very private men.

    And the more I hear about Koum, the more I think Silicon Valley needs to be taking notes. In a land of pushy 20-something wunderkind CEOs and data leak scandals, he’s a 37-year-old black sheep who just wants to build a great product without media attention, without selling his customers’ data, without even worrying about advertising his product. No muss, no fuss. And, bigger than that, he’s just a nice guy about it — a quality that extends to his product and how he does business. (Apparently, it’s paid off.)

    So, Mark Zuckerberg, you spent $19 billion bringing WhatsApp into the Facebook fold. Want to get your money’s worth? Here are some lessons you can learn from your new Facebook board member:

    • Stick to Your Guns: In the beginning, Koum said there would be no advertisements. Five years later, WhatsApp still has no advertisements and has no intention of using them anytime soon. Koum repeatedly states that WhatsApp stores no data from its users; he says it doesn’t need to if it’s not making ads. There’s absolutely no money-grab aspect to WhatsApp. It’s just a great service for which you pay a small fee.
    • Make it Easy for the Consumer: One of the key elements of WhatsApp — what helps to make it work — is that it’s very easy for the consumer to use. It syncs with your address book. You don’t have to build a new friends list or remember a password or find a username that’s not embarrassing. You use the phone number and list of phone contacts you’ve been building for years.
    • Don’t Get Fancy: …if it sacrifices quality. In a market in which messaging services have become saturated with features like desktop versions or usernames, WhatsApp has been keepin’ it clean and simple. The result is an easy to use, consistent product that is never bogged down with unnecessary features and buttons. It doesn’t worry about how brands will use it to connect to consumers. It doesn’t worry about attracting teenagers. It does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to provide an easy, convenient messaging service for the consumer. Nothing more, nothing less. And more than 400 million monthly active users seem to like that.
    • Patience is a Virtue: If you make it, they will come… if it’s good. WhatsApp watched its service grow, slowly, throughout the course of several years with no marketing effort on its part. Focusing on organic growth, WhatsApp spread by word of mouth from user to user — a strategy that was so effective that even charging for services early on didn’t hinder the product’s growth.
    • No News is Good News: WhatsApp doesn’t really bother with a lot of media hype. Leave Apple and Google to their “look at me” product launches and rumor mills; WhatsApp has instead asked bloggers and journalists to stop spreading rumors. In an interview at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference last May, he politely asked bloggers to be more “responsible,” since addressing rumors distracts from what’s important: building a great product.
    • Stay Humble: It’s a mark of Koum’s “good-guy-edness” that his product has more active users than Twitter, and we’re only finding out about him now. He has routinely avoided the limelight, stayed out of the public eye and focused on his product first. In the same interview at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference, he said he’s concerned he’s wasting time being interviewed when he should be answering customer service emails. Based on what I’ve read about him, it doesn’t seem likely that attitude will change now that he’s a multi-billionaire.

    So Silicon Valley, are you taking notes? Because you should be.

  • Can Your Phone Teach You a New Language?
    This post first appeared on The Linguisticlast, a blog dedicated to language learning and all things language. You can follow The Linguisticlast on Twitter at @linguisticlast. 

    Spoiler alert: No, your phone cannot teach you a new language. Your ability to accomplish that depends entirely on you and your motivation, but having a smartphone can certainly help. Here’s how:

    1) Live Your Digital Life in Your New Language.

    The very first thing I always do when trying to learn a language is change my phone — along with my email accounts, social media accounts, search browsers, etc — into that language. Do not underestimate the power of passive learning. Before you even crack open a phrasebook, you’ll know words like “send,” “delete,” “edit,” “message,” “cancel,” and all sorts of other vocabulary just from using your phone on a daily basis.

    2) Find A Flashcard App

    Hey — the ’90s called. They want your paper flashcards back. The cool kids now use flashcard apps on their phones. I love my flashcard app, Flashcards Deluxe. Why? With the app, you can create all of my own flashcards, with up to five sides, and upload them to your phone using either Google Drive or Dropbox. You can choose how you’d like to learn your flashcards, either through a standard sequence or by using a spaced repetition system (SRS). Spaced repetition knows when you’re likely to forget a piece of recently learned information because it tracks your performance and usage history. It then sequences your flashcards so that that information is constantly fresh in your mind. I would actually go so far as to say that flashcards comprise the lion share of my language learning method. And because I have them on my phone, they’re always there with me — on the metro, in the waiting room at my dentist’s office, before I turn out the light and go to sleep. My point, flashcards and I have a very intimate relationship.

    3) Your Phone As a Dictionary

    Finding a good dictionary on your phone can be tricky, but it’s crucial, especially while you’re in public. During my first few weeks in France, I often found myself glued to my phone in supermarket aisles trying to figure out what I was buying. After you start speaking and gaining some confidence, switch to a monolingual dictionary to challenge yourself.

    4) Change the Music You Listen To

    This is one is fairly self-explanatory. I love to look up the lyrics to foreign language songs and translate them line-by-line. The result is that no matter how rusty my Spanish gets, I think it’s likely I’ll always know all of the words to Bacilos’ “Caraluna.” It’s also worth mentioning that the language in which a song is sung can change the music itself. As William Weir writes on Slate, “English-only listening habits deprive us of the natural rhythm and melody of other languages — the nasal vowels of French, the alveolar trills of Portuguese, the consonant clusters of Czech.”

    5) Learn a Language Through… Your Texts?

    Yes — texts. You read that correctly. Texting with your native speaker friends will help you pick up on phrases you would otherwise miss in ordinary conversation. Write them down; look them up; ask your friends what they mean. Texts are little goldmines for finding slang words and colloquial expressions you’d otherwise miss in a classroom setting or while speaking.

    6) Podcasts

    Podcasts can help you learn everything from Portuguese to Pashto, and they’re a great way to spend a period of time during which you’d normally listen to music or the radio, like your walk to work.

    7) Duolingo

    Though I haven’t personally used the Duolingo app, Apple named it 2013’s “free iPhone App of the Year.” My friends who use it swear by it, and some have gone so far as to say it’s addicting. The app works like a game: You advance through different levels while learning your target language. In the process, however, you help to translate chunks of the Internet. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Duolingo’s founder, Luis von Ahn, also created reCAPTCHA, which does the same thing, except with those annoying CAPTCHAs you have to decode to prove you’re human. Pretty cool, huh?

     8) For iPhone Users: Bonjour Siri!

    Siri is now available in for use in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, and Korean. It just so happens that those are some of the most widely learned languages as well. How convenient! In my experience trying to use Siri in French and Spanish, I’ve had difficulty if my pronunciation is off, but I also have plenty of difficulty using Siri in English as well. I’ve found that Siri’s voice recognition ability has greatly improved with the introduction of iOS7.

  • HP's Q1 beats estimates as PC business surprises
    The PC business didn’t suck nearly as bad as feared, and Hewlett-Packard’s first quarter benefits. The company sees strong enterprise demand for PCs as Windows XP systems are tossed.
  • Let's Put an End to '30 Under 30 Lists' and Recognize What Is to Come in Your 30s As a Woman in Tech
    I read an article today about how the lists that the tech world put out like “30 under 30,” top blah blah blah under blah, etc. are really really wrong. We should stop doing them. The author of that post from The Huffington Post, Carolyn Gregoire, writes about some things that I want to think more about and talk about here.

    All these lists focus on one thing: how young you are and how wonderful you must be for doing something awesome like becoming a CEO at a certain age where most normal people don’t. There has always been this obsession with young people doing cool and awesome things, but now it is more than ever focused on tech blogs and media lists focusing on the success of young people in their career. These lists are making it hard for anyone over 40 to be seen as someone doing something great. Why can’t we just recognize greatness at any age? Age should not be part of a discussion in whether or not you are successful.

    I am turning 30 in a couple of months, and this article stuck out to me because soon, I will never ever be able to be on a list like this. I never made it on a list like that and for some reason, that makes me sad. What if those lists didn’t exist? Then, I wouldn’t be feeling like this. I bet I am not alone.

    I also start to think about what I have done later on in my career in my 20s. I have learned so much over the course of my 20s, and I think as I move into my 30s, I am more in a place than ever before where I should be celebrating my successes. If it took me longer to do it in my 20s, then fine. We need to stop putting so much pressure of people at certain ages as to what success should look like for them.

    Make success whatever it should be to YOU and have it be at whatever time in your life you want it to be. It should not be relative or contingent upon an age.

    In my 20s, I was and still am obsessed with doing my best. I actually don’t think that will change just because I am turning 30. I am already stressed out enough. I don’t need the media constantly comparing me to people. I compare myself to people already and don’t need them doing it to me as well. Playing devil’s advocate, I do think that it helps to keep 20-somethings motivated to do more and more with their time. When you see these lists, you start asking yourself questions… Are you good enough? Are you doing enough? All these thoughts start streaming through my mind when I see these kinds of lists… Why don’t I have my own company? Why am I not a CEO?

    I can tell you why… I AM NOT READY FOR THAT. What I am ready for is to learn as much as possible in my 20s to prepare me for my 30s. I am ready to learn as much as I possibly can in my role here at HubSpot. I need to learn how to be the best sales person ever and that is what I am doing right now. Learning. I want to take that knowledge and then in my 30s or 40s or 50s — who knows when? — take that knowledge and bring it to another company where I can make a huge difference. I don’t know if being a CEO or doing something so fantastic in my 20s would be a good thing for my long-term goals. Don’t let these lists and the media tell you what success is for your 20s — or any time in your life.

    Say I had been on one of those lists — one of those 30 under 30 lists — by now. That probably would have meant I had started a company. My 20s would have been way different than they were. I don’t know if they would have been better or worse. Would I have learned more? Would I be smarter now? Who knows? I don’t care, though, because I am secure in what I am doing with my 20s. I made a proactive decision to learn as much as I can here at the company I work for now in my 20s and moving into my 30s even. I want to take that knowledge and experience and do something with it in my 30s, 40s etc. when I am smarter, older and more knowledgeable than I am now. I hope that pays off for me.

    Your 20s and 30s are for figuring things out. Like I said, I don’t know everything and from what I have seen and even experienced for myself, the older I get, the more I learn and the wiser I become. I should keep figuring things out in my 20s and get really good at what I do so in my 30s or 40s, I can crush it with that knowledge and experience.

    Apparently, amazing things happen for people in their 30s. I look forward to it. Bring it on, 30.

    Since my 30th birthday is right around the corner, I keep having these weird moments where I am thinking to myself Holy cow, have I done enough? Am I doing what I should be doing? Am I on the right path? All those things that happen to people before a moment that the world has made seem like a big deal. They say your 30s are the time for breakthrough moments. Maybe my breakthrough moment will be in the next 10 years.

    Here’s my number one point: Later on in your life, you will know more, have experienced more and will likely do better at what you set your mind to doing.

    Hopefully, everything I am learning now will help me in my later years in my life. I hope that the things I have learned in my 20s in the business world will set me up for even more success than if I had been super-super-successful (in the eyes of the media) in my 20s. I personally think I have been successful in my 20s. Who is the media or blogs to tell someone what success is in their 20s?

    What do you think about not hitting what the tech blogs and tech media says is success in your 20s? Is that okay?

    This post originally appeared on Womenpreneurs.

  • Inequality, Productivity, and WhatsApp

    If you ever wonder what’s fueling America’s staggering inequality, ponder Facebook’s acquisition of the mobile messaging company WhatsApp .

    According to news reports today, Facebook has agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion.

    That’s the highest price paid for a startup in history. It’s $3 billion more than Facebook raised when it was first listed, and more than twice what Microsoft paid for Skype.

    (To be precise, $12 billion of the $19 billion will be in the form of shares in Facebook, $4 billion will be in cash, and $3 billion in restricted stock to WhatsApp staff, which will vest in four years.)

    Given that gargantuan amount, you might think WhatsApp is a big company. You’d be wrong. It has 55 employees, including its two young founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton.

    Whatsapp’s value doesn’t come from making anything. It doesn’t need a large organization to distribute its services or implement its strategy.

    It value comes instead from two other things that require only a handful of people. First is its technology — a simple but powerful app that allows users to send and receive text, image, audio and video messages through the Internet.

    The second is its network effect: The more people use it, the more other people want and need to use it in order to be connected. To that extent, it’s like Facebook — driven by connectivity.

    Whatsapp’s worldwide usage has more than doubled in the past nine months, to 450 million people — and it’s growing by around a million users every day. On December 31, 2013, it handled 54 billion messages (making its service more popular than Twitter, now valued at about $30 billion).

    How does it make money? The first year of usage is free. After that, customers pay a small fee. At the scale it’s already achieved, even a small fee generates big bucks. And if it gets into advertising it could reach more eyeballs than any other medium in history. It already has a database that could be mined in ways that reveal huge amounts of information about a significant percentage of the world’s population.

    The winners here are truly big winners. WhatsApp’s fifty-five employees are now enormously rich. Its two founders are now billionaires. And the partners of the venture capital firm that financed it have also reaped a fortune.

    And the rest of us? We’re winners in the sense that we have an even more efficient way to connect with each other.

    But we’re not getting more jobs.

    In the emerging economy, there’s no longer any correlation between the size of a customer base and the number of employees necessary to serve them. In fact, the combination of digital technologies with huge network effects is pushing the ratio of employees to customers to new lows (WhatsApp’s 55 employees are all its 450 million customers need).

    Meanwhile, the ranks of postal workers, call-center operators, telephone installers, the people who lay and service miles of cable, and the millions of other communication workers, are dwindling — just as retail workers are succumbing to Amazon, office clerks and secretaries to Microsoft, and librarians and encyclopedia editors to Google.

    Productivity keeps growing, as do corporate profits. But jobs and wages are not growing. Unless we figure out how to bring all of them back into line — or spread the gains more widely — our economy cannot generate enough demand to sustain itself, and our society cannot maintain enough cohesion to keep us together.

    ROBERT B. REICH’s film “Inequality for All” is now available on DVD and blu-ray, and on Netflix in late February. Watch the trailer below:

  • Kepler Space Telescope's Amazing Discoveries Highlighted In New 'Deep Astronomy' Video
    How much have we really learned about alien planets?

    Twenty years ago, we knew nothing about any other worlds outside of our solar system. Now, we’ve discovered the Milky Way is teeming with planets just like Earth.

    That’s thanks to NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which launched in 2009 to explore our galaxy’s interplanetary systems. A new video from the YouTube channel Deep Astronomy highlights some of the telescope’s amazing discoveries. Just check it out above.

    “The Kepler space telescope has opened up a new era of astronomy in our lifetimes,” Tony Darnell, video blogger and social media manager at the Space Telescope Science Institute, says in the video. “For the first time in our history when we look up at the night sky, thanks to Kepler, we know that there are more planets up there than there are stars.”

    So far, Kepler has looked at just a small slice of the Milky Way, discovering 3,538 potential worlds — 104 of them are in the so-called “habitable zone,” meaning their environment could potentially support life, and 10 are about the size of Earth, according to NASA.

    In fact, NASA data suggests that there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone. Wow.

  • iPhone leads to surge in China Mobile's high-speed data subscribers
    China Mobile added 14 million more high-speed data subscribers in January, a growth faster than at any other time in its history, according to data from Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White. The 7.4 percent increase is attributed mainly to the iPhone, which Mobile started selling on January 17th. In December, by contrast, Mobile’s high-speed base grew by less than 6 percent.


  • Google Wanted To Buy WhatsApp, Too
    Two separate sources have told me that’s how much Google (GOOG) offered to purchase WhatsApp.
  • What State Lasts The Longest (And Shortest) In Bed?
    If you’ve got some time, head to New Mexico.

    Fresh data from Spreadsheets, a sex-tracking App launched last August, may show how your state measures up — endurance-wise — to its neighbors.

    “We’re creating a sort of thermometer for sex,” co-creator Tyler Elick, 29, told The Huffington Post. In addition to how long you’re lasting, Spreadsheets can keep track of thrusts per minute, audio levels, and frequency of sex.

    “Our goal is to provide a product that … connects people on an intimate level,” he said. Elick and co-creator Danny Wax “saw a need in the market” when they realized that people were already tracking activities like their runs and sleep cycles.

    This week, Nerve.com compiled a state-by-state rundown of averaged sex times, which can be seen below. The data comes from approximately 5,000 users and 23,000 individual sex sessions in the U.S. (there are about 10,000 users worldwide). Here’s the list, from longest to shortest:

    1. New Mexico (7:01)

    2. West Virginia (5:38)

    3. Idaho (5:11)

    4. South Carolina (4:48)

    5. Missouri (4:22)

    6. Michigan (4:14)

    7. Utah (3:55)

    8. Oregon (3:51)

    9. Nebraska (3:47)

    10. Alabama (3:38)

    11. Delaware (3:33)

    12. Hawaii (3:28)

    13. Wisconsin (3:22)

    14. North Dakota (3:18)

    15. Arizona (3:17)

    16. Maryland (3:15)

    17. Mississippi (3:10)

    18. Rhode Island (3:09)

    19. Connecticut (3:07)

    20. Texas (3:06)

    21. New Hampshire (3:04)

    22. Wyoming (3:03)

    23. New York (3:01)

    24. Pennsylvania (2:58)

    25. Maine (2:58)

    26. Washington (2:51)

    27. Iowa (2:50)

    28. Illinois (2:49)

    29. North Carolina (2:47)

    30. Tennessee (2:46)

    31. Kansas (2:38)

    32. California (2:38)

    33. Massachusetts (2:31)

    34. Florida (2:29)

    35. New Jersey (2:28)

    36. Indiana (2:26)

    37. Virginia (2:23)

    38. Oklahoma (2:21)

    39. Colorado (2:21)

    40. Minnesota (2:19)

    41. Ohio (2:18)

    42. Louisiana (2:17)

    43. Kentucky (2:14)

    44. Arkansas (2:08)

    45. District of Columbia (2:08)

    46. Nevada (2:07)

    47. Georgia (2:07)

    48. Montana (2:03)

    49. Vermont (1:48)

    50. South Dakota (1:30)

    51. Alaska (1:21)

    But before you New Mexicans start swelling with pride, (or you Alaskans shrink in embarrassment), keep in mind that it’s tough to say what — if anything — these stats actually represent.

    According to the Nerve.com writeup, these times represent intercourse alone because “the app doesn’t cover foreplay,” but Elick told HuffPost that’s just not true.

    “Our app isn’t purely about penises entering vaginas,” he said. “Our app is more about tracking entire amounts of sexual activity. If that includes foreplay for people, we’re open to that.”

    While a user can set the phone on a mattress to monitor “movement,” the timing feature of the app can be used as a simple timer. One user may opt to start the timer before foreplay begins, while a different user could interrupt the mood completely to go fiddle with his phone prior to entering thrust-city.

    However, with the median at around two and a half minutes, we really hope people aren’t clocking in until the main event.

    Elick was quick (but not as quick as an Alaskan — hey-o!) to point out that some users may also be skewing the results low by pulling out the app to show a friend or partner, and running the clock for only a few seconds.

    Either way, though, Elick believes the stats are valuable because of the kinds of conversations they can spark.

    “Real data makes people more comfortable and ideally less highly sensitive … or over-sensationalist about physical intimacy,” he said.

    Elick also wants people to know that he and Wax don’t have access to data for individual users or sessions. Instead, they rely on Google analytics, which aggregates the duration and session count for particular regions. “We don’t want to be the sexual Big Brother here,” he said.

  • Poor UX Could Kill Your Start Up
    If you have a tech start up, the chances are you are trying to get to grips with product design, but you can’t afford to pay a full time UX designer to help develop your interface. Good user experience is essential if you are trying to scale your product, but money is always an issue for start ups. I know of many cases where start ups have ended up with poor UX as a result of trying to keep costs down by hiring a graphic designer to work on their product. This blog will hopefully help you navigate this journey better.

    In the pre software days, designers used to make things look pretty. The job description “UX designer” started in Silicon Valley in the 1990s. It has only become mainstream in the last decade. When a UX designer is doing their job well, using software is effortless, meaning that often they only get noticed when things went wrong. UX is the design behind the visual.

    Good UX people always have the mantra of “I am not the target audience” running through their heads. They can also predict ahead, i.e. if you do customer discovery, people will largely tell you what you want to hear. They also think they want different things to what actually works for them. An experienced UX designer will see through a lot of this and be able to predict what people will like.

    Remember graphic designers still do great work. They will make your website look slick and are essential for your branding and content marketing. But you need to know when to stop using a graphic designer and start using a UX designer if you are creating a product. This can be confusing; I have witnessed firsthand how graphic designers, keen to win business, may tell start ups they can do UX work. To try and avoid this, you need to know the following.

    1. What product and UX work they have done before — you don’t want them to be learning on your time. Make sure you have a look at this closely. Website design is totally different to designing a product.

    2. Is the person you are communicating with going to be doing the hands on UX work? If not, things can get lost in translation. Especially if they are off shoring the work which happens a lot in UK and Ireland.

    3. You expect them to be asking you a lot of questions, as a good UX designer will know that user experience is influenced by a multitude of things such as:

    • marketing copy
    • speed
    • functional performance
    • colour scheme
    • personality
    • customer support,
    • set expectations
    • financial approach.

    I recently attended a UX training course and the lecturer, Colman Walsh, who has worked in UX for the last 15 years in Silicon Valley and Europe explained

    “Because of the word ‘design’, UX often gets conflated with styling. But they’re not the same. UX is a problem solving discipline. Identifying problems, solving them and designing elegant solutions. Styling is often part of the solution, but doesn’t have to be.”

    Lets look at some practical examples. Survey monkey have built up a huge reputation around good UX. Having recently used the software (initially for free and then paying) the experience was a good one from start to finish. I have tried to break down why it was good and why I will use survey monkey again and recommend it. These second two benefits show that good UX is critical to the success of software.

    Survey monkey is clear about what it is offering you, it is helping you create and distribute a better survey without over loading you with advice. The process is streamlined from start to finish, and when you have completed the survey the analytics are good. You can take a number of months break from pre paying the monthly subscription and your data will still be there. All this and more means that survey monkey has totally nailed the UX without the graphics being anything special while you are working through the process.

    For those like survey monkey who have mastered UX, it is easy to see their money spent on this area is giving a great return on investment. For you and me it is sometimes harder to join the dots from good UX work to the bottom line of your business. However, good work is being done here by Elisabeth Hubert and others who are actively working towards mapping user experience activity to business value.

    Always remember that the ability to understand and communicate can be as, or more, important than graphic ability with a UX designer. It is also a much more iterative process than you might expect, so be patient!

Mobile Technology News, February 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.

  • Canonical CEO claims Apple cornered market on sapphire screens
    Ubuntu developer Canonical has told investors and analysts in a conference call that part of the reason it had been unable to produce a planned 4.5-inch smartphone running the Linux-based OS was because (in addition to financial issues) Apple had “scooped up” the entire three-year supply” of sapphire screens the company had planned to use. While not a confirmation that Apple plans to create a 4.5-inch display in a future iPhone, the quote seems to reaffirm that Apple is planning to incorporate the practically-unscratchable material in its future products.


  • Facebook Buys WhatsApp and It Will Be Huge for Them

    The first headline that hit me today when I turned on my iPad was from the Wall Street Journal proclaiming Facebook buys WhatsApp for $19b.  It’s a big, big number but the acquisition could prove to be a pivotal point for Facebook and the landscape of social networking in general.  The deal is a […]

    The post Facebook Buys WhatsApp and It Will Be Huge for Them appeared first on AlliOSNews.

  • Signs point to first Microsoft Surface tablet with LTE
    Microsoft may be getting ready to add 4G/LTE to a Surface product. To date, Surface tablets have only come with Wi-Fi, putting them at a disadvantage when competing with rival products like the iPad.
  • Homeland Security Drops Plan To Collect License Tag Data
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department abruptly reversed course Wednesday and dropped plans to ask a private company to give the government access to a nationwide database of license plate tracking information.

    Secretary Jeh Johnson directed that a contract proposal issued last week be canceled. The proposal said Immigration and Customs Enforcement was planning to use the license plate data in pursuit of criminal immigrants and others sought by authorities.

    Gillian Christensen, an ICE spokeswoman, said the contract solicitation was posted “without the awareness of ICE leadership.”

    “While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs,” Christensen said.

    The department said Johnson has ordered a review of the proposal.

    The contract notice came amid growing concerns about government surveillance of U.S. citizens but didn’t address potential privacy consequences.

    Before the notice was canceled, Christensen said the database “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals.”

    Law enforcement has been using license plate readers for several years, but privacy advocates have raised concerns that the unchecked collection of such information could allow for the tracking of an average citizen’s every movement. Lawmakers around the country, meanwhile, have been wrestling with whether or how to control the collection and use of license plate data.

    At least 14 states are considering measures that would curb surveillance efforts, including the use of license plate readers.

    License plate readers — essentially cameras that snap rapid-fire pictures of license plates and vehicles as they pass — are in use in a host of locations, by private companies and law enforcement. But it’s not just the license plate number that gets recorded. The readers — whether they are mounted to police cars, traffic lights or toll booths — record the date, time and location of the vehicle when the picture was taken.

    According to the contract proposal, the government wanted “a close-up of the plate and a zoomed out image of the vehicle.”

    The Homeland Security Department also wanted instant and around-the-clock access to the records and is asking for whoever wins the contract to make the information available through a smartphone app. It is not clear from the contract notice how long individual records would be kept or what other government agencies may have access to the trove of records.

    Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the San Francisco-based civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said those unknowns represented serious privacy concerns.

    “The base level concern is that license plate data is location data, and location data is very revealing,” Lynch said. “It can tell you a lot about a person’s life: where they go, who they associate with, what kind of religion they practice, what doctors they visit.”

    In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the collection of license plate scanner data and warned that millions of records were being collected with little or no safeguards for people’s privacy.

    Catherine Crump, an ACLU lawyer, said Wednesday she was pleased to hear that the department has canceled the contract proposal but still worried about that it might be brought back to life at some point.

    “While we are heartened that it looks as though the plan is off the table for now; it is still unexplained why the proposal was put forward and why it has been withdrawn,” Crump said.

    The government’s contract proposal was published amid revelations of surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. Privacy advocates have argued that NSA phone data collection programs and other surveillance programs are gobbling up massive amounts of information about U.S. citizens who have no ties to criminals or terrorists, which the government has said the programs are designed to target.

    Classified NSA documents, leaked to news organizations, showed the NSA was collecting telephone records, emails and video chats of millions of Americans who were not suspected of a crime.


    Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap

  • Facebook to buy WhatsApp for $19bn
    Facebook buys popular messaging app WhatsApp for $19bn (£11.4bn), in a deal Mark Zuckerberg describes as “incredibly valuable”.
  • University Of Maryland Reports Massive Data Breach
    COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — The president of the University of Maryland says there has been a breach of a database that contains personal information about more than 300,000 faculty, staff, students, and others.

    Wallace Loh said in a statement posted Wednesday on the university’s website that the database contained records of those who have been issued a university ID since 1998.

    Loh said the database has information from the College Park and Shady Grove campuses. The records include names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and university identification numbers.

    The university is working to determine how the breach occurred. Loh said state and federal law enforcement officials are investigating.

    The University is offering one year of free credit monitoring to anyone affected by the breach.

  • Intel CEO talks Apple, water-cooled PCs, carbon nanotubes
    Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, in a wide-ranging Reddit AMA, addresses Moore’s Law, tablets, overclocking, and carbon nanotubes, among other topics.
  • WhatsApp and Facebook's Unite and Conquer Mission
    The news that Facebook will spend $19 billion to acquire WhatsApp, a mobile messaging app with more than 450 million users, marks the latest phase in what has emerged as Facebook’s defining strategy: The unite and conquer approach to social networking.

    Facebook is no longer focused solely on building out Facebook, but is willing to meld itself into whatever shape, service or brand fits your socializing needs at a particular moment of your day. To expand its empire and place itself wherever we are, it’ll spend dearly to buy whatever diverse services we value.

    For several years now, Facebook has tried to position itself as the go-to messenger for every message we send, publicly or privately, baiting us with features like “chat heads” or the ability to send voice recordings. Buying WhatsApp, which processes 19 billion messages a day, clearly goes a long way toward fulfilling that mission. As soon as all the CEOs and lawyers sign on the doted line, nearly a half-billion people who were messaging off of Facebook will instantly begin routing their chats through Mark Zuckerberg’s domain.

    But beyond that, Facebook’s WhatsApp deal makes it clear that Facebook isn’t content to be Facebook. Facebook wants to be the hub for any social interaction you have over the Internet — alone or in groups, broadcast or whispered, permanent or self-destructing, written or photographed, under the Facebook logo or a different mascot. The WhatsApp acquisition, which follows on Facebook’s Instagram buy and its failed bid for Snapchat, suggest more than an effort to find the “next big thing” and cultivate it under Facebook’s wing. Facebook wants whatever is the new big thing. (Like Instagram, Facebook confirmed that it will continue to run WhatsApp as a standalone app.)

    “If you think about the overall space of sharing and communication, there’s not just one thing that people are doing. People want to have the ability to share any kind of content with any audience,” Zuckerberg said in an earnings call last month. “There are going to be a lot of different apps that exist, and Facebook has always had the mission of helping people share any kind of content with any audience, but historically we’ve done that through a single app.”

    We’ve thought of Facebook’s growing ecosystem of services as revolving around and expanding the core Facebook experience. We’re thinking too small. Zuckerberg is dreaming of an even larger universe of services that aren’t tied to Facebooking, but communicating — full stop.

    This has obvious advantages for Facebook’s business. A broader suite of services means bringing on more users (WhatsApp is particularly popular outside the U.S.), claiming more of people’s time and sucking up more of their information, all of which helps Facebook woo advertisers.

    But what about for those of us who use the services? It feels harder and harder to escape Facebook’s reach while still being social online. While the WhatsApp acquisition will no doubt stoke privacy fears, there’s another, less-discussed consequence of this unite and conquer approach: The rapid spread of the Facebook ethos, which values true identities, oversharing and the vague goal of “connecting” above all. Instagram looks a great deal like it did before Facebook acquired the app. But even there, there are subtle changes, like the push to tag friends in photos.

    The principles and values that Facebook holds dear are becoming harder to escape as it exports them to whatever new satellite it brings into its orbit. Our online identities are part of the unite and conquer push: Whenever possible, Facebook prefers to combine our online activity to create one comprehensive, exhaustive persona.

  • WhatsApp's CEO Crashed Zuckerberg's Valentine's Dinner To Make A Deal
    On Wednesday, Facebook announced a huge, $19 billion deal to buy the messaging app WhatsApp.

    But that staggering sum wasn’t the only thing about the acquisition that’s shocking.

    After Mark Zuckerberg made him an offer on Feb. 9, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum apparently crashed the Valentine’s Day dinner of the recently married Facebook co-founder and his wife, Priscilla Chan, at their home to finalize the purchase.

    That’s not all.

    “The two men entered into negotiations, eating a plate of chocolate covered strawberries intended for Ms. Chan, the people briefed on the matter said,” The Times reports. Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson confirmed the strawberry swipe in his account, too.

    Not only did Koum get the money, he also got their strawberries. What likely started out as a romantic night for Zuckerberg and his wife ended up with Zuckerberg agreeing to hand over $19 billion.

    We’ll bet that Koum had the best Valentine’s Day of them all.

  • Trying To Meet A Guy Online? Apparently, You Shouldn't Call Yourself A 'Woman'
    When Britney Spears crooned “I’m not a girl, not yet a woman,” she probably didn’t know that the virtual dating landscape would favor the former. If we weren’t already bombarded with unsolicited prescriptions for how to behave online, now we’re supposed to consider whether calling ourselves “women” is worth the opportunity costs.

    Apparently, referring to yourself as a “girl” instead of a “woman” in your online dating profile will get you more male suitors.

    This helpful information comes from an infographics series published on Wired earlier this month, which focused on what words earn online daters the most attention. Researchers collected data across OKCupid and Match.com.


    According to the findings, females who refer to themselves as “girls” receive 16 percent more attention than those who refer to themselves as “women” in their profiles. Meanwhile, it is 28 percent better for men to refer to a member of the opposite sex as a “woman” than a “girl.” So it’s super sexy and evolved for men to call us women, but off-putting for a lady to refer to herself as such.

    What if grown-ass women went around saying they were looking for “boys”? They would be universally considered creepy, if not predatory. Perhaps men find self-professed “women” threatening? Sigh. We know they’ll catch up someday.

    As per usual, these statistics offer some interesting insight into how courtship is performed in the 21st century. But do we actually care about a 16-point potential loss for properly labeling ourselves? Not really. We’ll stick with Bey on this one.


    [h/t Slate]

  • Inspiring Our Children to Pursue STEM Through the Olympics
    The world’s top athletes are competing at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Their talents and abilities are truly amazing. Their preparation and dedication to their sport and their country are inspiring. No doubt, millions of children watch these athletes with similar dreams of achieving athletic excellence. But as I previously wrote, the likelihood that any child will reach the pinnacle of sports is slim. However, there is great opportunity for our athletically passionate students to continue their love of sports through their careers. The fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) have as much to do with athletics as the athletes themselves, and the Olympics show us just how much STEM goes into making our athletes, and the fields they compete on, ready for competition.

    From the half pipe to the ice rink and the snowboard to the speed skating suit, STEM experts make the 2014 Winter Games possible. Each Olympic season is better than the one before it — the events are safer, the Olympians are faster, and the techniques are more precise. Material scientists and chemical engineers are key to the innovations that allow our athletes to perform at the top of their game. They create the equipment our athletes use continues to get better, faster, stronger, more flexible and more durable. Material scientists and chemical engineers are the brains behind are skis and snowboards. They design them to withstand high speeds, vibration and torsion. Whether the athlete competes in the downhill or the slalom, the ski must be tailored to the particular sport. The skates used by speed skaters, figure skaters and hockey players are each different, and have evolved over time to allow the athletes to turn tight corners at full speed, perform a triple axel, or turn instantly in pursuit of a puck.

    The clothing worn by our athletes is just as intricately designed and manufactured. To go faster, Olympians must dawn revolutionary suits made of special materials invented and designed by top scientists and engineers. The suits worn by speed skaters, for example, must counteract drag and take factors like wind resistance and air flow into account. But for athletes like ski jumpers, their suits must capture air to keep them lifted for as long as possible.

    Engineers also play a vital role in the stadiums, arenas and venues in which our athletes perform. The half pipe in Sochi is taller, longer and larger in radius than any previous Olympic half pipe. The increased size lets the snowboarders get higher, turn faster and perform stunning tricks. Engineers considered the laws of gravity and used their knowledge of energy, velocity and momentum to create a half pipe that allows athletes to perform 1440 degree twists. What our students learn in high school physics class are the very principles at play here. The taller the pipe, the larger the walls and the more gravitational energy athletes experience, giving them the ability to lift higher. The larger the radius of the pipe, the easier the athlete can deal with the considerable force experienced from gravity and friction.

    Consider Shaun White and the half pipe. White experiences two to five times his own weight in G-forces from the friction of the snow on his board. He pushes back against those G-forces through his calculated performance, maintaining the perfect balance on his snowboard as he does so. As he moves up the pipe, he builds kinetic energy, and at the height, the kinetic energy is converted to potential energy, which allows him to move faster down the pipe and back up the other side. All of this energy creates momentum that allows him to perform the fascinating twists and tricks for which he’s known. Without engineers perfecting and continuously improving the venues and equipment, these new gravity-defying jumps and tricks would not be possible.

    But to perfectly execute those tricks, the athlete and his or her coaches and trainers must be knowledgeable in STEM as well. For example, to engineer the perfect jump, figure skaters must consider and routinely adapt to changes in angular velocity, height, speed and momentum. A triple axel toe loop looks effortless, but it’s not without careful planning, precision and STEM.

    STEM is the foundation of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Engineers and scientists are responsible for the innovative technologies that continually produce new and improved equipment. Computer programmers and digital electronic manufacturers must create precise timing devices that measure the one-thousandth of a second that may be the difference between an Olympic gold and disappointment. Doctors, trainers and scientists each have a role in the training, muscle recovery, injury prevention and healing that our athletes need to perform at the top of their games.

    Athletics are important in our culture and in teaching our children life lessons and skills. So we tell our children to pursue their passions, but we should also tell them about the exciting career possibilities created by studying the STEM disciplines — jobs that will allow them to continue being involved in their passions. And while they may never be the 1500-meter speed skating World Champion, they might be the next inventor of the fastest speed suit in the world.

    Project Lead The Way is the nation’s leading provider of STEM education programs for students in elementary, middle and high school. Through world-class curriculum, high-quality teacher professional development, and a network of business and educational leaders, PLTW is preparing students for the global economy.

  • IKEA Discontinues Beloved Shelf, Prompts Internet Fury
    IKEA thought it could discontinue a shelf popular with record collectors without causing much commotion. Now it has to face the music.

    IKEA plans to stop selling its iconic “EXPEDIT” shelf and replace it with a different wall unit, IKEA spokesperson Janice Simonsen told the Huffington Post.

    That news, first mentioned on IKEA Germany’s Facebook page, has set off an Internet cacophony, fueled mostly by vinyl record collectors, who say that the EXPEDIT has been the perfect shelf for storing records (among other things) for over a generation.

    “Enter the house of any record collector in the world and the chances are you’ll stumble upon an Expedit shelf,” wrote Vinyl Factory, a British music company.

    German vinyl-lovers have launched a Facebook campaign, “Rettet das Ikea Expedit Regal” (Save the IKEA Expedit bookshelf), which has already garnered more than 16,000 likes. An American version of the page launched on February 18th.

    IKEA will replace EXPEDIT with a similar shelf called the KALLAX, which Simonsen said “has the same internal sizes and uses the same internal fittings.” It will also have rounded edges to be more child-friendly.

    IKEA will sell EXPEDIT shelves until they’re all gone, it confirmed, and the KALLAX will hit stores on April 1st.

    “I think our customers may be worried that they won’t have the wonderful function and flexibility that they had with EXPEDIT, but this is not the case,” said Simonsen.

    On message boards and social media, fans are expressing worries that the KALLAX will be less sturdy and not available in some of the same sizes as EXPEDIT.

    Despite the fact that the KALLAX does seem awfully similar to the EXPEDIT, thousands of the distressed are still venting on Twitter. Most of the mourning tweets are in German and French, but here are some English-language highlights of The Great EXPEDIT Panic of 2014:

    I think I’m having a panic attack. MUST. GO. STOCK. UP. RT @core77 IKEA to Discontinue the Expedit

    — Edward M. Bujanowski (@edwardmichael) February 19, 2014

    Ikea discontinuing Expedit: estimates millions of relationships saved due to fewer assembly fights. http://t.co/tdzDXUxxnx

    — David Hicks (@ALL_CAPS) February 19, 2014

    Let’s pray to the IKEA gods that this Expedit wipe out doesn’t spread to the Americas. http://t.co/XD1fFrMqNQ via @cestuncoupdetat

    — Christine Varriale (@certaintragedy) February 19, 2014

    Vinyl nerds descend on Ikea to purchase all the endangered Expedit pieces. #hipsterapocalypse

    — Melissa Bernais (@melissabernais) February 19, 2014

    @The405: IKEA to discontinue Expedit shelves = worst. decision. ever. http://t.co/wJAYZGIXc7@jodapersoda aargh! Literal disaster

    — J.M.O. (@Johnwantstea) February 19, 2014

    Can’t wait for the 25th anniversary deluxe reissue of Ikea’s Expedit. #angryrecordstoreclerk

    — Jeff Conklin (@avantghettonyc) February 19, 2014

    Goodbye, @DesignByIKEA Expedit. I’ll never stop loving you.

    — Matt Gill (@hcmg) February 19, 2014

  • Just How Dangerous Is A Giant Comcast?
    It’s been more than 100 years since the U.S. Supreme Court determined that one of the biggest companies in the world, Standard Oil, was an illegal monopoly and would have to be broken apart.

    The size of the company didn’t automatically violate antitrust law, the court ruled. Rather, it was the way it wielded that size that was a problem. The oil behemoth forced railroads to slash prices and agree to preferential deals to ship its products, driving smaller competitors out of business. Standard Oil came to control 90 percent of U.S. oil production through these methods, and the court determined that this led to higher prices and less oil, harming the overall market.

    The antitrust laws the court used to decide the century-old case will be tested again in coming months, as regulators take a close look at Comcast’s $45 billion offer to acquire its smaller rival Time Warner Cable. The deal would make Comcast, the largest cable company in the country, even bigger. The new communications giant would also control broadcast and cable television networks, movie studios and theme parks that Comcast has swept up in past acquisitions.

    “It just creates this massive player — this one entity that sits at the crossroads of everything,” Michael Weinberg, a vice president at Public Knowledge, said in an interview last week. “They don’t just dabble in it. They dominate it.”

    Comcast is not Standard Oil — it isn’t accused of sending thugs to intimidate rivals, for example, as Standard Oil’s founder John D. Rockefeller is alleged to have done — but there are enough similarities between the companies to give consumer activists, and potentially regulators, cause for concern.

    Like Standard Oil, which began as a small Ohio concern, Comcast emerged from obscurity to dominate its industry. In 1990, Comcast was a Pennsylvania company with $657 million in annual revenue. In the years since, under the leadership of CEO Brian Roberts, the company has swallowed cable providers and TV networks, among other businesses, around the country, and revenue has swelled to more than $64 billion.

    In some of the markets in which it operates, Comcast is the only entity that offers cable and broadband service, to the great frustration of many customers who say this veritable monopoly starves them of choice, and leads to higher prices. The Time Warner Cable acquisition would further expand the company’s reach — Comcast would have about a third of broadband subscribers and 30 million pay TV subscribers in the U.S.

    A Comcast-Time Warner Cable behemoth could use its muscle — not unlike Standard Oil — to wield power over related industries, potentially starving competitors of resources, antitrust experts said.

    A stronger Comcast could charge higher rates to deliver streaming video from companies like Apple, Netflix, YouTube or Amazon, though it pledged to hold off on doing so until at least 2018 under its agreement to acquire NBCUniversal. TV networks may also be afraid to strike deals to sell their shows to online streaming services out of fear Comcast would retaliate by giving them unfavorable positions in Comcast’s TV channel lineup.

    Content creators just couldn’t afford not to do business with a company as powerful and far-reaching as a Comcast-Time Warner Cable giant, Weinberg said.

    Antitrust lawyers say the Comcast buyout poses a deep challenge for the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, the two federal agencies that enforce antitrust law and will decide if the deal can proceed.

    The Standard Oil case, by today’s standards, was cut and dry. In the early years of the 20th century, a muckraking journalist wrote an exposé on how the company used its massive clout to bully railroads and pipeline companies into lowering prices, then undercut competitors to such a degree they were forced to sell out, or go under. In one instance, Rockefeller used the threat of a secret alliance with railroads to intimidate more than 20 Cleveland refiners to sell out to Standard Oil at bargain prices, an event known as the “Cleveland massacre.”

    The Justice Department then launched an investigation under newfound authority granted by the Sherman Act, an antitrust law passed in 1890 to broad acclaim.

    Antitrust reviews have expanded over the years to include deals that would combine two or more existing companies, with the goal stopping monopolies before they happen. The measuring stick authorities use is whether the formation of the new company would “substantially lessen competition.”

    This is something of a soothsaying exercise, said antitrust experts.

    “They are trying to predict the likely effect of something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Spencer Waller, the head of the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies at Loyola University in Chicago.

    This task is made more difficult by the special circumstances posed by the Comcast deal. Unlike most mergers and buyouts, such as the proposed takeover of T-Mobile by Sprint that the Justice Department has signaled it will oppose, Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t compete head-to-head in any market.

    Comcast has also said that the combined company’s cable TV customers will represent 30 percent or less of the market. That is the maximum market share allowed under an older Federal Communications Commission rule, which is no longer in place. In 2009, it was struck down by an appeals court, which declared it “arbitrary and capricious.”

    Sena Fitzmaurice, a vice president of government affairs at Comcast, said that existing Time Warner Cable customers would benefit from Comcast’s innovations. As examples of past efforts, she cited the company’s robust video-on-demand service and said Comcast has increased broadband internet speed 12 times in as many years.

    “Additional consumers would get to benefit from these innovations as a result of the transaction,” she said in an email to The Huffington Post.

    A new megacompany would have powerful control over the cable grid and over content providers, Waller said. “This is very troubling,” he said — but also very difficult for federal authorities to evaluate.

    Comcast is certain to argue that its competitors encompass far more entities than traditional cable providers. As evidence of that, the company can point to the national trend of declining cable subscriber rates, which many attribute to increased competition from satellite providers like DirectTV, from streaming video companies and even from Internet portals like Google.

    This is boilerplate merger and acquisitions strategy, Waller said. Companies that seek to expand their holdings typically argue that they face competition from as wide array of entities as possible.

    But that argument is not airtight. The companies Comcast mentions as potential competitors do not yet offer near the breadth of services sold by the company, even in its present form. Sports coverage is a prime example. Comcast owns NBC, which paid $4.4 billion to broadcast the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi and three subsequent Olympics. By way of comparison, that is a significantly greater sum than Netflix plans to allocate for its entire 2014 programming budget.

    It will be up to the Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission to determine whether given these market realities, existing competitors offer services that are reasonable substitutes, said Herbert Hovenkamp, an antitrust law professor at the University of Iowa. “Substitutes have to be sufficiently robust to keep services down near cost,” he said.

    In Comcast’s favor, as it makes its case, is an unbroken track record of success before regulators, most notably its 2009 acquisition of NBC Universal. “I think their experience with getting previous deals through, particularly the NBCU takeover, has to be helpful,” Stifel Nicolaus analyst David Kaut told the Wall Street Journal last week. “They know the ropes. And they seem to do a good job of getting out in front of some of the antitrust/regulatory objections by offering commitments that soften up the resistance.”

    Comcast, for its part, has cast the combination of the two companies as favoring consumers. “It will provide exciting consumer benefits” and “deliver better services and technology to Time Warner Cable’s subscribers,” the company said.

    Comcast CEO Brian Roberts even deemed the acquisition “pro-consumer,” “pro-competitive,” and “in the public’s interest.”

    But to many current subscribers, these claims are hard to swallow. The company charged roughly $156 per month per customer last year, and cable companies consistently rank at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys. The average cable TV bill — not including taxes, fees or promotions — has increased 97 percent over the past 14 years, according to SNL Kagan, a media research firm.

    High prices, ultimately, are what led to Standard Oil’s demise. The movement that led to the investigation was sparked by farmers, who were outraged by the huge cost they had to pay to get their crops to market.

    Antitrust experts said regulators will try to gauge whether a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable would face enough competition to keep prices in check.

    Last week, in a conference call with reporters, Comcast Vice President David Cohen fielded a question about what the Time Warner Cable buyout might mean for cable and Internet bills. “The impact on customer bills is always hard to quantify,” he responded. “We’re certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or even increase less rapidly.”

  • This Is Why It Was So Insanely Cold Last Month
    That incredibly cold, it-hurts-to-be-outside weather that much of the U.S. experienced last month may come back to bite the country again next week.

    So what’s causing these temperature extremes?

    The polar vortex is a mass of winds that form over the Arctic each winter, and tend to move in a circular motion around the region, according to NASA. This year, however, a few factors caused the vortex to dip south, like the jet stream moving further south than usual and a low-pressure system forming over Canada, according to the video.

    As this animation progresses from early December 2013 to early January 2014, you can watch the polar vortex — represented by the purple colors — bend southward over time. It features data collected by NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Mission instrument, and shows temperatures at 3,000 feet above the Earth’s surface.

    As NASA points out on their website, this year’s cold wave set many temperature records. And that wasn’t all: flights were canceled, Canada experienced frost quakes and a jail escapee returned to prison because it was so cold.

  • Homeland Security Department Wants Access To License Plate Data
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department is proposing that a private company give it access to a nationwide database of license plate tracking information, according to a federal contract proposal.

    The department said the database would be used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help track down criminal immigrants or others wanted by authorities. The contract notice, published last week, comes amid growing concerns about government surveillance of U.S. citizens but doesn’t address potential privacy consequences. ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said Wednesday the database “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals.”

    Law enforcement has been using license plate readers for several years, but privacy advocates have raised concerns that the unchecked collection of such information could allow for the tracking of an average citizen’s every movement. Lawmakers around the country, meanwhile, have been wrestling with whether or how to control the collection and use of license plate data.

    At least 14 states are considering measures that would curb surveillance efforts, including the use of license plate readers.

    License plate readers — essentially cameras that snap rapid-fire pictures of license plates and vehicles as they pass — are in use in a host of locations, by private companies and law enforcement. But it’s not just the license plate number that gets recorded. The readers — whether they are mounted to police cars, traffic lights or toll booths — record the date, time and location of the vehicle when the picture was taken.

    According to the contract proposal, the government wants “a close-up of the plate and a zoomed out image of the vehicle.”

    The Homeland Security Department also wants instant and around-the-clock access to the records and is asking for whoever wins the contract to make the information available through a smartphone app. It is not clear from the contract notice how long individual records would be kept or what other government agencies may have access to the trove of records.

    Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the San Francisco-based civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said those unknowns represent serious privacy concerns.

    “The base level concern is that license plate data is location data, and location data is very revealing,” Lynch said. “It can tell you a lot about a person’s life: where they go, who they associate with, what kind of religion they practice, what doctors they visit.”

    In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union criticized the collection of license plate scanner data and warned that millions of records were being collected with little or no safeguards for people’s privacy.

    Lynch said contract proposal is also so broad it’s worrisome because of the volume of records that could accessed by the government.

    “We’ve seen that some of these vendors have databases of millions, it not billions, of plates,” Lynch said.

    The government’s contract proposal comes amid revelations of surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency. Privacy advocates have argued that NSA phone data collection programs and other surveillance programs are gobbling up massive amounts of information about U.S. citizens who have no ties to criminals or terrorists, which the government has said the programs are designed to target.

    Classified NSA documents, leaked to news organizations, showed the NSA was collecting telephone records, emails and video chats of millions of Americans who were not suspected of a crime.


    Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap

  • Facebook To Buy WhatsApp For $19 Billion
    If Facebook can’t have Snapchat, it’ll reach deep into its pockets to buy the next best thing.

    Late Wednesday, Facebook announced that it will buy the popular instant-messaging app WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion sum — $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion in stocks upfront, plus another $3 billion in restricted stock over the next four years.

    Facebook has shown a keen interest in developing or, with its $173 billion valuation, outright buying mobile messaging apps. Last year, Snapchat, a 2-year-old app that allows people to send disappearing photos and videos to one another, rebuffed a $3 billion offer from the social network.

    But the 5-year-old WhatsApp is far more established, and has fetched its owners a far greater sum. This month, it had 450 million monthly users, having added 100 million of them in the last four months of 2013 alone.

    WhatsApp is essentially a replacement to traditional text messaging. But unlike costly texts, which eat into cell phone owners’ data plans, WhatsApps messages are sent over the Internet if connected to WiFi

    “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “We do this by building services that help people share any type of content with any group of people they want.”

    “More than 1 million people sign up for WhatsApp every day and it is on its way to connecting one billion people,” he added.

    Zuckerberg promised that WhatsApp will operate independently within Facebook, similar to how the photo-sharing app Instagram has been kept separate from Facebook proper after it was acquired for $1 billion in 2012. The social network has its own well-used messaging app, called Facebook Messenger, that Facebook has pushed its members to download over the past year. Zuckerberg said that Messenger and WhatsApp will not be merged.

    Aside from Messenger, Facebook’s efforts to grow in messaging have fallen flat. Poke, a Snapchat clone that also lets people send disappearing messages, failed to gain traction when released at the end of 2012. Instagram Direct, a recently introduced and widely touted Instagram feature lets people privately share photos, also doesn’t seem to be well used.

    So far, WhatsApp has forgone ads and instead made money by charging 99 cents to cell owners after 12 months of use. The app is initially free to download and is popular among young people who want to send photos and texts to friends abroad without being hit with high international data fees. The subscription fee is new territory for Facebook, which over its decade-long existence has reiterated again and again on its homepage that it is “free and always will be.”

    In a blog post, co-founder and CEO Jan Koum, who founded WhatsApp with fellow former Yahoo executive Brian Acton in 2009, insisted that “nothing” will change for customers. That includes ads: “you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication,” he wrote. “There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles.”

    CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the day of the acquisition announcement.

  • Mothers' Voices Could Be The Extra Push Preemies Need To Feed (STUDY)

    NEW YORK Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:50am EST

    (Reuters Health) – A pacifier-activated recording of mother singing may improve a premature baby’s feeding, which in turn could lead to its leaving the hospital sooner, according to a new study.

    One reason premature babies sometimes have to stay in the hospital for a while is that they haven’t developed the strength and coordination to nurse properly. Babies who can’t feed yet stay in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and rely on a feeding tube.

    Doctors and nurses usually give those babies a pacifier whenever possible to help them practice sucking, which can speed up the learning process and shorten their hospital stay.

    From previous studies, researchers know that infants also respond well to certain types of music and that their mother’s voice can help increase heart and lung stability and growth and improve sleep.

    “People are finding out that the influence of parental voice in the NICU is important, so these results are not surprising,” said senior author Dr. Nathalie Maitre of Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

    “This is yet another example that parents really do make a difference to their babies’ development,” she said.

    The researchers studied about 100 premature babies who had been born between 34 and 36 weeks of development and were relying primarily on a feeding tube (babies are considered full term if they are born between 39 and 41 weeks).

    All infants got what babies usually get in the NICU, including pacifiers, skin-to-skin contact whenever possible and gradual introduction to breastfeeding.

    Half of the infants also received five daily 15-minute sessions with a special pacifier device that senses when the baby is sucking and plays a recording of the baby’s mother singing “Hush Little Baby.”

    Infants in both groups gained about the same amount of weight during the five-day study, but those with the special pacifiers tended to eat faster when they could. They took in 2 milliliters of fortified breast milk per minute compared to less than 1 milliliter in the comparison group by the end of the study, the researchers reported Monday in Pediatrics.

    Infants in the recording group were also able to eat without a feeding tube more often – six and a half times per day versus four times in the comparison group – and ate almost twice as much when they did.

    In the pacifier recording group, infants spent an average of 31 days using a feeding tube, compared to 38 days in the non-recording group.

    Shorter hospital stays for preemies can have many benefits, said Jayne M. Standley, the inventor of the pacifier-activated music device, called the “PAL,” used in the study.

    “Premature infants thrive in the home with earlier discharge, parents are relieved to have their babies home from the hospital as soon as possible, and medical costs are greatly reduced,” Standley told Reuters Health in an email. “This study has implications to change NICU treatment for feeding problems of premature infants.”

    Standley, from Florida State University in Tallahassee, didn’t participate in the new research.

    “We know that newborn infants can recognize their mother’s voice because they can hear it in the womb and have ample opportunity to learn what it sounds like,” said Amy Needham, who studies infant development at Vanderbilt University.

    “Hearing their mother’s voice when they suck properly on the pacifier helps them develop proper sucking behavior because the mother’s voice acts as a ‘reinforcer,'” said Needham, who was not involved in the study.

    Maitre had theorized that certain types of carefully chosen music and a mother’s voice are both preferred for sucking, and that a tool that uses both might train babies to eat faster.

    “It goes back to Pavlov’s dog,” she said. “It’s not romantic, but you can take advantage of behavioral training.”

    The pacifier device she and her colleagues used measures the pressure and rhythm of sucking. It can’t be constructed and needs to be administered by a professional, Maitre said, but it is commercially available and not very expensive. The researchers also had a music therapist select the lullaby, whose melody had to stay within one octave and be very repetitive.

    Parents might ask if there is a therapist at the hospital who can help record their voice and play it to their baby, since most therapists can be trained to do this, she said.

    Meanwhile, parents should know that spending time talking and singing to their baby can help.

    “You can start by singing to your baby. During breastfeeding is a perfect time to do it,” Maitre said.

    SOURCE: bit.ly/NZ2FIT Pediatrics, online February 17, 2014.

    Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

  • Plane Windows Are SO Last Century; Video Screens Are Where It's At
    Windows are so passe.

    The Spike Aerospace S-512 will forgo the typical, tiny porthole windows and will sport giant displays that cover the supersonic jet’s interior walls.

    A spokesperson for Boston-based aerospace engineering and consulting firm Spike Aerospace informed The Huffington Post that the S-512 is expected to cost between $60 million and $80 million and that the jet is being designed to reach a cruising speed of Mach 1.6 (approximately 1,217 mph) and a max speed of Mach 1.8 (approximately 1,370 mph). The S-512 is slated for delivery to customers in December 2018.


    The company writes on its website that it expects initial purchasers of the plane to be businesses that can benefit from the jet’s shortened travel times, allowing employees to spend less time in the air and more time conducting business on the ground. Wired notes that the S-512’s speed will allow the plane to make the trip from New York to London in “less than four hours.”

    All the while, passengers will be able to view the environment surrounding the supersonic jet on giant screens playing a live feed from exterior-mounted cameras. Spike Aerospace told HuffPost that the screens can also display other media, such as movies.

    The company wrote in a blog post that it ditched windows on the S-512 due to the added weight, parts count and additional structural support required to integrate these relics of the past.


    Unbelievable, you say? Hardly.

    High-tech display “windows” are already available for sea cruises. Passengers staying in interior staterooms of Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas are now able to experience epic ocean views from the comfort of their rooms via an 80-inch wall-mounted screen that displays the feed from a bow- or stern-mounted camera.

    With Navigator of the Seas already sailing the open waters, and the Spike Aerospace S-512 set to be flying the clear blue skies before the end of the decade, it seems that people may be spending more time seeing the world through the lens of a camera.


  • Wireless System Could Offer A Private Fast Lane – NYTimes.com
    SAN FRANCISCO — In a spacious loft across the street from the Bay Bridge, Steve Perlman did something last week that would ordinarily bring a cellular network to its knees.

Mobile Technology News, February 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.

  • Las Vegas Sands Corp: Hacking Went Further Than Email, Websites
    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Tuesday that hacking into their websites and internal systems last week went deeper than the company had previously known.

    All of the Las Vegas-based company’s sites were down for six days after hackers posted images apparently condemning comments CEO Sheldon Adelson made about using nuclear weapons on Iran. Sands said hackers crashed its email system and stole employees’ Social Security numbers.

    But a video posted online appears to catalog stolen information that goes much further.

    Sands spokesman Ron Reese said the company is reviewing the 11-minute video that appears to show dozens of administrator passwords, including passwords for slot machine systems and player information at Sands’ Bethlehem, Pennsylvania casino. It also shows employee files and a diagram of the company’s internal networks. He said the company did not know about the additional incursions until it started investigating the video.

    “We have now determined that the hackers reached at least some of the company’s internal drives in the US containing some office productivity information made up largely of documents and spreadsheets,” he said in a statement. “We are reviewing the video to determine what, if any, customer or employee data may have been accessed.”

    The FBI, Secret Service and Nevada Gaming Control Board are investigating the hacking. Neither of the federal agencies would comment on the matter, and Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett also declined to comment, saying he had not yet seen the video.

    A person using the name Zhao Anderson sent the video to The Associated Press on Monday by email, and it was also posted on YouTube by a person using the same name. The AP could not verify the person’s identity, or the information contained in the email.

    Reese declined to say whether Sands had changed its administrative passwords in response to the hacking.

    The hacking affected Sands’ corporate website, as well as the sites for casinos in Las Vegas, China, Singapore, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Sands restored the websites Monday afternoon, though not exactly as they were before the attack.

    Adelson is an outspoken supporter of Israel and a generous donor to U.S. Republican Party campaigns. He spoke in October about dropping a nuclear bomb on Iran, saying strength was the only thing the country understands.

    The hackers at one point referred to themselves as the “Anti WMD Team.” Cybersecurity experts say it could have taken several months for so-called “hacktivists” to complete an attack on Sands’ networks.

    Sands, which is the world’s largest casino company in terms of revenue, also owns the world’s largest casino, in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau. The company’s net income was $2.31 billion last year.

    Sands has not said what effect the hacking attack has had on the company’s bottom line. Sands has said it has been able to continue booking visitors by telephone.

    Since the hacking became public last Tuesday, Sands stock has risen about 3.7 percent to $80.69.


    Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier

  • WSJ: iPhone jumps to seven percent share in China
    Apple is now the fifth-largest cellphone maker in China, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal based on numbers from analyst firm IDC. The iPhone maker leapt a full percentage point in the last quarter of 2013 on the strength of its iPhone 5s and 5c, and the report does not even include sales from China Mobile, with which Apple finally inked a deal in December. The surge in sales moved the iPhone into a seven percent share of the smartphone market.


  • Nude scanner mobile app ad banned
    A TV advert for a mobile phone app, which showed images of a naked woman, is banned after it was broadcast during Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks.
  • Apple's iPhones sales in Russia doubled in 2013
    While a hair over a million and a half iPhones sold sounds (and is) pretty bad for a company with the influence and presence of Apple, the 1.57 million units sold in Russia in 2013 represent something of a (small) triumph: not only does it double the number of iPhones sold in the country compared to 2012, the iPhone was unavailable on any Russia’s major carriers for the entire first half of the year.


  • VIDEO: LiFi: Internet by the power of light
    Professor Harald Haas shows Rory Cellan-Jones technology that beams an internet connection via a standard light fitting.
  • The internet through a light bulb
    Rory Cellan-Jones imagines internet connection through overhead lights.
  • Humans in Space: Finding a Shared Voice

    Art courtesy of Mark Maxwell

    Within a year or so we will begin to see the first commercial human spaceflight systems come online, and the first steps to opening space to the people of Earth will have been taken.

    After more than 25 years of political trench warfare, reeducation and demonstration by a hardened band of space revolutionaries that we know what we are doing, we are at last beginning to transition the government-run command economy in human spaceflight into one shared with the private sector — to the benefit of all.

    Those on the front lines, on both sides, know just how tough a battle it continues to be. Yet we are seeing it happen, in many small ways and some that are highly visible, such as the berthing of the first U.S. commercial spacecraft from SpaceX and Orbital Sciences to the space station while companies like NanoRacks and Bigelow are using it to develop their own businesses — while helping the agency do its job.

    In fact, I recently walked away from the battle between those pushing for what I call the “Senate Launch System” (Congress’ latest government megarocket) and those fighting to create a NewSpace commercial space transportation industry. After helping birth the baby of commercial spaceflight and then protecting it from those who felt threatened by its promise, the latter are now finding that it is not just beginning to stand on its own two feet but taking flight — literally.

    But this is (to steal a phrase) only one small step. To quote Robert Heinlein, “Once you get to Earth orbit, you are halfway to anywhere in the solar system.” Well, I hereby leave the orbit part to others. I am focused on the anywhere.

    For me the next job begins at that hundred-mile mark and includes banging some heads together in our own space community. As for right now, we are our own worst enemy. Be it those heading to the Moon, Mars or the space between worlds I call “free space,” each of us seems to think ours is the only worthwhile goal. And of course we also each have our own favorite spacecraft, our own perfect solutions and systems and approaches, and everyone else be damned, because my way is the space highway.

    We are like a group of maniacal subdivisions of a church — all true believers, yet each with our own definition of heaven, our own way of getting there, and armed with ammo belts full of facts and PowerPoints that we can unleash on anyone who has the temerity to assume he or she has a viable idea, approach or destination worth considering. It has to stop or we will all face failure.

    I know whereof I speak, as I have been guilty of doing just this (and if I may say so myself, I am pretty good at it). And while I am not suggesting some sort of awkward group geek hug, I am suggesting that right now is the time to find commonalities, areas of agreement, and, at least at the highest level, some sort of unity in what is, to me, clearly and easily the most important undertaking in the history of humanity — if not life itself.

    That may sound grandiose and overstated, but it isn’t. And anyone reading this who “gets it” knows what I mean. Whether you work on or support the government Orion or the private Dragon spacecraft, the international space station or Bigelow’s private space facilities, whether you spend your days in a Loral cleanroom or soldering a cubesat in your garage, whether you are a staffer in Washington or bring doughnuts for the local space society meeting, whether you are an astronaut or just nuts about astronomy, at some level you understand the import and possibility of what is out there — or you wouldn’t be doing what you are doing.

    So let’s for a moment put down our flags, quit stomping on each other’s footprints and work on a unified vision that will support all of our dreams yet allow all of us to do our own thing, do it in our own way and go to those places we each want to go.

    In the next year or two we have a huge opportunity, and we cannot blow it. Here’s why I say this:

    We are exactly between presidential elections, as close to a calm period as there might be in terms of politics.

    The first citizens are about to start flying into space — including many high-wealth, high-profile opinion makers.

    American companies are at last about to bring the flying of astronauts back home to the United States from Russia.

    The first credible humans-to-Mars plans are starting to weave together in public-private partnerships. In fact, I can say with some authority that this will also be the case in terms of the Moon and asteroids as well. As these megamissions and projects collide with budget realities, it is becoming clear that they must work together to achieve their own goals — be it science, profit or building a new society.

    Throw in pressures to respond to Chinese and Indian initiatives on the Moon and Mars and we have what is needed to do something important — that is, if we don’t blow it — as we have done so many times before.

    So what can we do to leverage these (and the many other opportunities I don’t have room to list here) in a way that will enable us all to do this important work and at the same time realize our own dreams?

    First, we must all agree that our goal is to explore and open the frontier of space to expand the domain of humanity and life. This, above all things, is the key to the next stage of opening space.

    Second, we must create a shared core agenda to make this happen as quickly as possible, and not only as cheaply as possible but in a way that best leverages our investments in capital and taxes in terms of the amount of knowledge and wealth we return to Earth, and the chance for participation available to everyone, in this country and the world.

    Then, we need to use the voices and volume once dedicated to pronouncing our own individual solutions to communicate this shared top-level set of goals and the basic agenda we agree upon to the rest of the world. We need to create a new conversation, not about where we go and how but about why it is important that we go at all, and how we all win if we do.

    Look, I may be many things, but I am, by this time, not naive. I am not suggesting that battles between proponents of various destinations and technologies will end by sprinkling magic space dust over everyone. (Could that be a market?) Heck, that’s what makes some of this fun. I am just suggesting that we agree to disagree on the details and destinations, base the winners on the merits, and focus on agreeing why we are doing this, and how we can all do it together so that everyone wins — then selling that to the world.

    So do we rise together or hang out there alone, under a canopy of stars we will never reach?

  • Can crowdsourced reviews be trusted?
    Can we trust the reviews?
  • Hacking Wicked Social Problems With Renaissance Thinkers and Gamers
    You can’t cure advanced cancer of the brain with a knife. Not often anyway. Or at least not without causing major damage. We have learned that simple chop-and-carve techniques doesn’t work when every cut against a tumor causes damage to neural pathways that control vital organs of the body. The brain, our legions of organs and their functions are connected in a system of intricate regulation of the numerous flows of fluids and electrical signals that drive and keep our bodies alive and healthy. Curing advanced cancer of the brain is a wicked problem.

    Likewise, you can’t fix wicked social problems with linear thinking and scalpel approaches. Wicked social problems are tumors in our social fabric, often deeply rooted in the command-and-control systems of our societies. Witness Obamacare. “Shock and awe” all over again: years of negotiation and design, stalemates and lawsuits, renegotiation and redesign, ripple effects as sequester hit our institutions. We felt the tremors into the farthest corners of our society. There’s no end in sight. And why would we expect there to be one in the first place? Does a perfect solution even exist? Wicked social problems are – by definition – protracted and complex. They are multi-dimensional in that they require the consultation of many stakeholder groups and the development of incentive systems that align them toward change. Social innovation, its governance and its impact toward more just, sustainable and healthy communities, is the defining challenge of the 21st century.

    Of course, we can’t afford to throw our hands in the air and walk away from the challenge. That is not the American spirit. We are the people that designed the Marshall Plan, the Bretton Woods system, the New Deal and the Apollo program. We have proven that we can tackle wicked problems with persistence, conviction, ingenuity and lots of diverse innovation talent. We can do it again to achieve impact for wicked social problems.

    For starters, we need to change the way we think: In the post-WWII world, we have honed a western tradition of linear, short-term cause-and-effect thinking into an extreme craft. It is being taught in our business schools, practiced in our institutions and abused by our political officials during election times with promises of rapid resolution of wicked problems. This type of thinking serves one purpose: to reassure our anxious selves in 30-second “blitz-reflections” that we can cut in and cut through, make some progress, accept collateral damage, and move on. So we run in circles, cutting into organ after organ, institution after institution, patching up and growing new ones if we have to. We sleep better telling ourselves that doing something is better than doing nothing. But balance the system we do not. The next tumor grows. The next institution collapses. The next system collapse is around the corner.

    Instead, we need to tackle wicked social problems with multi-dimensional, inclusive solutions. Easier said than done, for sure. Here’s one approach:

    Business people need to create ecosystems in which diverse sets of talents are induced to think like DaVinci: across disciplines and stovepipes so we can gain new insights and synthesize new solutions. Luckily, some of this is already being done in pockets, but it’s still not the mainstream approach. This week, a thousand cross-disciplinary thinkers and doers from all over the world will converge on Silicon Valley to take part in the Global Innovation Summit to learn how to create effective innovation ecosystems.

    Really what we need is a new system of ecosystem entrepreneurs. Business people who orchestrate the Renaissance crowd toward solutions. They need to consult with biologists to borrow from nature’s ways of creating equilibria, anthropologists to gain justice wisdom from communities in far off places, psychologists to chart patterns of irrational behaviors, linguists to understand how language systems regulate emotions, thoughts and traditions, etc. etc. We need to put the best thinkers in those fields into one space with artificial intelligence researchers, design professionals, entrepreneurs, financiers and economic strategists to align interest and build the right teams to create systemic solutions for lasting impact.

    But most of all, we need hackers, gamers and producers. They will help us stitch the content from disparate disciplines together. They will use the collective wisdom and insights to design gaming engines that can optimize social, environmental and economics pay-offs. They understand motivation, achievement, rewards, good and bad addictions, crowds and multi-player interactions. And they know of the unintended consequences of complicated socio-technical systems in which culture, commerce, and community collide! They will make sure the Renaissance content “plays” well.

    Can’t mitigate climate change through a system in which everybody gains, including industry? Can’t design a social security system that is fair to current and future generations? Can’t figure out equitable water supply in the Middle East across political, ethnic and religious fault lines? The social system hackers and gamers will get you there, with a little help from their renaissance thinker friends.

    This post is part of a series produced in partnership by the Global Innovation Summit and The Huffington Post around impact, innovation, and technology. For more information on the Summit, click here.

  • 90,000 People Are Playing Pokemon Together, And It's Beautiful
    Remember that epic Pokémon livestream-turned-game called Twitch Plays Pokémon we told you about Friday? Well, while you were enjoying your “House of Cards” Valentine’s binge, those 10,000 players refused to rest in their quest to become a Pokémon master. And it seems like they invited a few of their friends to help.

    It’s been almost 6 straight days of Pokémon madness on Twitch, and more than 93,000 players are now participating in the game.

    (Story continues below.)
    Twitch Plays Pokemon -  a social experiment
    It looks a little something like this.

    Background (ICYMI): Twitch is a livestream site where viewers can watch another player’s game footage in real time and comment via a chatbox, similar to the chatrooms of yore. In this game of Pokémon, someone has modified the chatbox so that viewers can type commands to control the actual game, basically turning the chat feature into a controller that everyone can use at the same time.

    This was madness with 10,000 players. With 90,000 it’s just impossible.

    So now, the chatbox has been modified again. According to Joystiq, the stream’s creator turned the chat function into a sort of voting system. Players still input the actions they want to see, but instead of the onscreen character doing those actions, the typed commands become votes. These votes are tallied every couple seconds by the computer, and the action that the most viewers selected is the one the game character performs.

    Players can also vote to have an action completed a certain number of times. Let’s say you log into Twitch Plays Pokémon and want the character to go to the right three spaces. You input “right3.” Then 50,000 other viewers do the same. Since your action has received the most votes, the character moves to the right three spaces. If only 40,000 viewers had typed “right3” and 50,000 had typed “right2,” the character would move to the right two spaces. Majority wins.

    Make sense?

    Twitch plays Pokemon: HELP ME!!
    Relax, it’s gonna be OK.

    Well, it gets a teensy bit more complicated. As you may have guessed, not everyone is happy with the new voting system, and some have taken it upon themselves to try and sabotage the game. So, to make things confusing for everyone, a new layer of voting has been added.

    Players can now type in “democracy” to maintain the voting system, or if they just want to watch the world burn, they can type “anarchy” to go back to the old methods of playing, where every inputted action was completed by the character.

    Aaaaaaand anarchy ruins everything.

    Needless to say, that chatbox is complete mayhem.

    Twitch Plays Pokémon, while seemingly trivial, is proof of the power of the Internet. The game has grown exponentially in five days and has adapted and continued to thrive with each passing day. In-game progress continues, despite the best efforts by those trolls screaming “anarchy” in the chatbox.

    Joystiq reports that there are a Twitter account, subreddit and GoogleDoc to track the game’s progress and goals.

    All in all, Twitch Plays Pokémon has become something beautiful, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

  • The 30 Second Habit That Can Have a Big Impact On Your Life
    There are no quick fixes. I know this as a social science junkie, who’s read endless books and blogs on the subject, and tried out much of the advice – mostly to no avail. So I do not entitle this post lightly. And I write it only having become convinced, after several months of experimentation, that one of the simplest pieces of advice I’ve heard is also one of the best.

    It is not from a bestselling book – indeed no publisher would want it: even the most eloquent management thinker would struggle to spin a whole book around it. Nor is it born out of our world of digital excess and discontent. Instead, it was given by a man born in the 19th century, to his teenage grandson, today in his fifth decade.

    The man in question, an eminience grise of the business world, is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He has helped devise brands that are household names. These days, working only when he feels he has something to offer, he is parachuted in to solve stock price threatening corporate crises. Occasionally, when he’s sufficiently interested, he pens speeches for Fortune 500 CEOs and politicians, his words billed out out at six figures. He is exceptionally well read, and also writes prolifically. Novels. But just for fun: on completion, he destroys them. He does not see the point in being published, or of seeking publicity in general. Amongst his friends are some of the most powerful people on the planet – from business leaders, to politicians, actors and other luminaries of the arts. But Google him, and you will find barely a ripple on the cyber seas.

    I met him first over a coffee in his apartment, to discuss the strategy for a highly political non-profit working in Africa. Around his table sat an eclectic mix of very vocal people. Our host, making the coffee, said almost nothing. But on the few occasions he did interject, with a brief question or observation, it invariably clarified exactly what mattered– politely sweeping away the sludge of opinion that clogs such discussions. It was masterful: like watching a conductor of the London Philharmonic coaxing a small town student orchestra into shape.

    So when he shared some of the best advice he’d ever received, I was captivated.

    If you only do one thing, do this

    He was in his early teens, about to start senior school, when his grandfather took him aside and told him the following:

    Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds – no more, no less – to write down the most important points. If you always do just this, said his grandfather, and even if you only do this, with no other revision, you will be okay.

    He did, and he was. In everything he has done since, with such accomplishment, and with enough room still to experience life so richly. He later inducted into the pact both his sons, who have excelled in their young careers.

    I’ve been trying it out for a few months. Here’s what I’ve found so far:

    1. It’s not note taking: Don’t think, just because you write down everything in a meeting, that you’re excused from the 30 second summation. Though brief, this exercise is entirely different from taking notes. It’s an act of interpretation, prioritisation and decision-making.
    2. It’s hard work: Deciding what’s most important is exhausting. It’s amazing how easy it is to tell yourself you’ve captured everything that matters, to find excuses to avoid this brief mental sprint – a kind of 100 metres for your brain.
    3. Detail is a trap: But precisely because we so often, ostensibly, capture everything – and thus avoid the hard work of deciding what something counts – that everything is worth less. So much of excellence is, of course, the art of elimination. And the 30 second review stops you using quantity as an excuse.
    4. You must act quickly: If you wait a few hours, you may recall the facts, but you lose the nuance. And this makes all the difference in deciding what matters. Whether it’s the tone in someone’s voice, or the way one seemingly simple suggestions sparks so many others, or the shadow of an idea in your mind triggered by a passing comment.
    5. You learn to listen better, and ask better questions: Once you get into the habit of the 30 second review, it starts to change the way you pay attention, whether listening to a talk or participating in a discussion. It’s like learning to detect a simple melody amidst a cacophony of sound. And as you listen with more focus, and ask better questions which prompt actionable answers, so your 30 second review becomes more useful.
    6. You’re able to help others more: Much of what makes the 30 second cut are observations about what matters to other people. Even if the purpose is to help better manage different interests in future conversations, it also helps you understand others needs, and so solve their problems. This does not surprise me: in months of interviewing people who make generous connections, I’ve been struck by how many have their own unconscious version of the 30 second review: focused on the question of how best they can help.
    7. It gets easier and more valuable: Each time you practice, it gets a little easier, a little more helpful and little more fun.
  • Here's How Much Tesla Owners LOVE Their Cars
    Move over, Vanilla the Volkswagen Beetle. There’s a new vehicle in town that’s getting all the loving from its owners: the Tesla Model S. According to a new study, the electric sedan scored highest among all vehicles for generating owner “love.”

    Global marketing company Strategic Vision’s study determined owner love toward a vehicle by asking owners to score their car based off ownership and dealership experience related to “commitment, overall satisfaction, total top emotional responses, proposed repurchase loyalty and actual repurchase loyalty.”

    Out of a possible 1,000 points, the Tesla scored 852.

    Strategic Vision’s report also listed the most-loved cars for a number of vehicle classes (small car, SUV, truck and so on), and the only other car that came close to being as loved as the Model S was Hyundai’s $61,250 Equus, which scored 821 points to earn the title of most-loved luxury car — that is, if you don’t consider the overall most-loved car, the Tesla Model S, a luxury car.

    Despite a handful of instances in which the vehicles caught fire, the Model S has also received lots of love from critics. Both Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine named the Model S its Car of the Year and Automobile of the Year in 2013. The car even managed to score a 5.4 in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s five-star safety rating system.

    No word from Edward Smith, the man who claims to have made love to 999 cars, on how good a lover the Tesla Model S makes.

    Be sure to check out the gallery (below) to see all the cars Strategic Vision found to be the most loved in their class.

  • Can Elon Musk Replace Steve Jobs? Tesla and Apple Innovation
    There’s been much talk this week about the secret meeting between Elon Musk and top Apple executives. Some speculate that there may be an Apple-Tesla merger this year, others say collaboration is almost inevitable. Bottom line: Apple needs some serious visionary power to keep its innovative reputation alive. Is Elon Musk the next Steve Jobs and would he want to be?

    Last year, I interviewed Elon Musk in one of his most revealing public appearances, and he exposed a complex character that is both deadly serious yet comedic at times; driven yet rather sensitive; single-minded, and yet eclectic in his desire to change the world in multiple ways.

    Musk told me the story of how he met Steve Jobs at a party in Silicon Valley. It did not go well. Even so, Musk says “Steve Jobs is way cooler than I am.”

    Let’s take a closer look at the two men and see what makes them tick.

    That sensitivity was apparent several times during our dialogue when his eyes welled up in response to my questions about the future of NASA, Neil Armstrong’s testimony, and candlelight vigils for the EV1 (at 28:35, 1:04:00 and 39:50 in the video). Steve Jobs was also known to weep.

    Musk has many traits in common with Jobs and yet in subtle ways their characters are distinct.

    Here are five revealing moments from our conversation that emphasize the common threads.

    1. Ability to Sell Great Ideas

    Jobs used his infamous “reality distortion field” to push his teams hard to achieve much more that they thought was possible. His oft-quoted phrase was “insanely great” and his product launches were passionate and brash.

    Musk is more pragmatic in his approach, he rarely uses buzzwords*, and although his product launches are often equally dazzling, his delivery is less assured, more halting.

    *Granted, he does talk about getting a “money shot” of his Greenhouse on Mars idea (at 30:00 in the video).

    “In the beginning there will be few people who believe in you or in what you’re doing but then over time… the evidence will build and more and more people will believe in what you’re doing. So, I think it’s a good idea when creating a company to … have a demonstration or to be able to sketch something so people can really envision what’s it’s about. Try to get to that point as soon as possible.” — Elon Musk

    This Word Art of our 90-minute conversation reveals no catchy buzzwords, though the word THINK stands out prominently.

    2. Obsessive Attention to Detail:

    Stories abound of Steve Jobs’ intense attention to detail. He notoriously spent months agonizing over the internal layout of the Mac computer’s circuit board.

    “I want it to be as beautiful as possible, even if it’s inside the box. A great carpenter isn’t going to use lousy wood for the back of a cabinet, even though nobody’s going to see it.” — Steve Jobs

    When his team failed to deliver on his vision, Jobs often flew into terrible rages. Case in point: the first fanless computer.

    By contrast, Musk is known for his attention to detail and being a demanding boss, but he focuses his Vulcan rage at the media over issues like damning test drives, media coverage of Tesla car fires; and at foes such as auto dealerships.

    His rage also turns inward. For example, when he discovered the wrong type of screw used in the Model S sun visors. He reportedly said, “they felt like daggers in my eyes.”

    While doing pre-interviews with Musk’s colleagues, I heard a revealing story about his obsession with the Tesla Model S key fob. A colleague described how he agonized for weeks over the shape, the girth, the weight of the fob till it was just right. Take a peek at the end result and see if you think it was all worth it.

    When I visited the Tesla factory (on assignment for KQED), I heard a similar story from the mechanics working on the iconic Model S door handles. Responsive door handles that sit flush with car doors looked like mission impossible, yet Musk and his team eventually prevailed. The result is so highly prized that my tour guide, Gilbert Passin (VP for manufacturing at Tesla) forbade me to take close-up photos of the components.

    3. Ability to Think Differently Stems from Splendid Isolation

    When I asked Musk if he was a lonely kid, he replied:

    “I wasn’t all that much of a loner…at least not willingly. I was very very bookish.” — Elon Musk

    As a kid he was consumed by his own world, reading books like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and playing Dungeons and Dragons for hours. Musk found coding a piece of cake and created his own software at the tender age of 12. Thanks to his bookish childhood, his innovative ideas could flourish without being squashed by friends or family.

    Similarly, Jobs had an isolated childhood, and was bullied at school. He did no competitive school sports and was obsessed by electronics and gadgets.

    4. Deep Thinking

    Although Jobs was less techie, more visionary; and Musk is a geeky engineer who prides himself on innovation using scientific first principles, both are deep thinkers.

    Elon Musk explained how The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy inspired him while he was looking for the meaning of life as a teenager.

    “It highlighted an important point, which is that a lot of times the question is harder than the answer. And if you can properly phrase the question, then the answer is the easy part. To the degree that we can better understand the universe, then we can better know what questions to ask. Then whatever the question is that most approximates: what’s the meaning of life? That’s the question we can ultimately get closer to understanding. And so I thought to the degree that we can expand the scope and scale of consciousness and knowledge, then that would be a good thing.” — Elon Musk

    Walter Isaacson, the author of Jobs’ biography wrote that Jobs felt throughout his life that he was on a journey — and he often said, ‘The journey was the reward.’ But that journey involved resolving conflicts about his role in this world: why he was here and what it was all about. He had a lifelong interest in Zen Buddhism and they discussed whether or not he believed in an afterlife.

    “Sometimes I’m 50-50 on whether there’s a God. It’s the great mystery we never quite know. But I like to believe there’s an afterlife. I like to believe the accumulated wisdom doesn’t just disappear when you die, but somehow it endures.” — Steve Jobs

    5. Impact

    Although Musk isn’t yet the household name that Jobs has become, those who’re familiar with Musk’s work and genius compare him to Leonardo da Vinci and The Atlantic recently described him as one of the most ambitious innovators of this era. And what about Steve Jobs? He was described in the study as “a star of popular culture.”


    During our interview, Musk shared the story of his brief encounter with the great Steve Jobs. The two were introduced by Google’s Larry Page at a party and Musk describes Jobs as being “super rude” to him. Nevertheless, this didn’t dent his admiration for the Apple guru. Here’s our dialogue:

    Elon Musk: “The guy had a certain magic about him that was really inspiring. I think that’s really great.”

    Alison van Diggelen: “Is it that magic that you try to emulate?”

    Elon Musk: “No, I think Steve Jobs was way cooler than I am.”

    Although Apple fans will agree strongly with that assessment, feedback at YouTube loudly contradicts Musk. Here’s one of the more polite reactions: “Sounds just like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. Except Elon Musk will probably end up being much more memorable than Steve Jobs :P”

    Musk is right, today Steve Jobs is still generally perceived as being “way cooler” than him. But that could change.

    What will the history books conclude, in 10 or 20 years from now?

    Steve Jobs certainly has big shoes to fill, and Elon Musk is already beginning to fill them, but on his own terms. Musk’s eyes are firmly focused on the electric car, space travel and solar. I don’t see him ceding control of Tesla to Apple, although collaboration makes sense.

    Musk’s legacy will depend on his ability to see his grand visions come to fruition. First, he must complete his “Secret Master Plan for Tesla,” which includes the creation of a popular mass market electric car; and second, his vision of making space rockets reusable just like modern day jets.

    One day, he may even achieve his life’s mission of dying on Mars, but as he describes it, “Just not on impact.”

    Now that would be insanely cool.

  • Dropbox's Hiring Practices Explain Its Disappointing​ Lack of Female Employees
    “If someone came in right now and announced that the zombie apocalypse had just started outside, what would you do in the next hour? What is something that you’re geeky about? What is a superpower you would give to your best friend?” These are the types of questions that you could be asked if you apply for a job at Dropbox. Business Insider culled these and other quirky interview questions from a career website, Glassdoor.

    Dropbox, which provides online storage, is clearly looking for creative people who can think outside the box and wants to make interviews more fun. It is not alone; many Silicon Valley companies ask such questions. The problem is that such questions are fun only for people who understand the jokes — and who can think like the young men doing the interviews.

    They don’t lead to better hiring outcomes as Google learned. Its senior vice president for people operations, Laszlo Bock, said last June in an interview with New York Times, “…we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

    Such hiring practices also disadvantage women. They hurt the employer by limiting the talent pool. They fortify the male dominated frat-boy culture that Silicon Valley is increasingly being criticized for.

    Telle Whitney, CEO of Anita Borg Institute, which is working on getting more women to study computer science and have more women fully engaged in creating technology, says its research shows questions such as these cause women to get screened out more often than men. As an example, the superhero concept is going to resonate much more with men, as demonstrated by the demographics of the superhero movie attendance. Whitney cites research which shows that a strong and pervasive stereotype of computer professionals as devoid of a social life alienates women. Subtle cues in the physical environment of companies such as Star Trek posters and video games lead to women being less interested in being a part of an organization when compared to a neutral office environment. This causes women to self-select out of technology jobs.

    Indeed, the trend is getting worse. In 1985, 37 percent of computer science undergraduate degree recipients were women. By 2011 this proportion had dropped to 18 percent. Most technology firms refuse to release gender and diversity numbers. Data collected on Github explains why. Dropbox, for example, had only 9 women in its 143 person engineering team as of October 2013. That’s 6.3 percent in an industry in which 18 percent of the hiring pool is women.

    Dropbox recently completed $250 million of funding at a valuation close to $10 billion according to the Wall Street Journal. It is rumored to be heading towards an IPO. The company has been expanding its hiring yet the number of women in management is declining. Kim Malone Scott, who headed operations and sales, left in April 2013; Anna Christina Douglas, who headed product marketing, left in August; and VP of Operations Ruchi Sanghvi left the company last October.

    Two former female employees and one current employee of Dropbox shared their concerns with me. They asked not to be named because they had signed non-disparagement agreements and feared negative consequences for their careers if they spoke critically of Dropbox. One wrote in an email, “When I interviewed for Dropbox, I was interviewed in a room called ‘The Break-up Room,’ by a male. It was right next to a room called the ‘Bromance Chamber.’ It felt weird I would be interviewed in such a strangely named conference room.” She said that “every time the company holds an all hands ‘goals’ meeting, the only people who talk are men. There are no females in leadership. The highest ranking is a team lead on the User Ops team.”

    She spoke up because she believes that “having more females in leadership positions results in more females; when they all leave those positions, it signals poorly to the rest of us.” Freada Kapor Klein, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, was invited in by Dropbox to talk about hidden bias research and how it may apply to startups. Her husband, Mitch Kapor, also came to the talk as someone who has been a successful entrepreneur and feels that the culture set at the outset of a company is critical. (Coincidentally they became shareholders in Dropbox when the company bought a startup in which they had invested.) Klein says that Dropbox executives, like other startup founders, honestly believe they are a meritocracy and are unaware as to how hidden bias operates. Employee referrals play a large role in their hiring as in most start-ups which further introduces bias and makes the culture exclusionary.

    Her advice to Dropbox? “Founders are looking for ‘objective’ measures such as school ranking, GPAs, SAT scores, but fail to recognize that these are biased. Dropbox and other start-ups should pioneer new ways to identify people who can succeed on the core set of job responsibilities. Perhaps a question on how Dropbox might be used to solve income inequality or the unaffordability of housing in San Francisco would reveal as much about someone’s creativity — and more about their character — than questions about superheroes.”


    Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke’s engineering school and distinguished scholar at Singularity and Emory universities. His past appointments include Harvard Law School and University of California Berkeley.

  • Receivers/Amplifiers from Pioneer and Harmon Kardon can Enhance any Surround Sound System
    Discrimination can be good or bad. For example, discriminating against people or things is a BAD thing, but having a so-called “discriminating ear” can be beneficial, especially when choosing a receiver/amplifier for your surround sound system.

    With that in mind, we put our ears to the test as we played with new receivers from Pioneer and Harmon Kardon. The differences between the two — other than price — were subtle, at best, with both performing flawlessly.

    The Pioneer Elite SC-71 ($1,000) is rated at 150 watts per channel for a 7.2 surround sound system (at six ohms) or 120 watts (at eight ohms). Truthfully this blows away my older $1,800 Yamaha receiver, which is rated at 75 watts per channel.

    Weighing in at a hefty 30 pounds (similar to the old Yamaha), the SC-71 boasts connections for every type of component including component and composite audio/video cables, HDMI cables and optical sound cables.

    Its most notable features include:

    • Eight HDMI input and two HDMI output connections.
    • Speaker terminals for eight speakers including two subwoofers plus two networked speakers.
    • An USB port for digital audio or to connect an Apple or Android device.
    • Apple AirPlay compatibility.
    • Internet radio compatibility.
    • Several Dolby enhanced audio presets, ranging from “concert hall” to “rock.”
    • Dolby True HD/Dolby Pro Logic IIz/Dolby Digital Plus audio for movies and TV.
    • 63 AM/FM presets.
    • Compatible with Windows 8.

    The Harmon Kardon AVR 1710 ($600) lacks the bevy of inputs found on the SC-71, but still boasts five HDMI inputs and one output and one composite and two analog connections.

    This doesn’t mean it sacrifices on pure, beautiful sound. The AV 1710 is a 7.2 channel surround sound amplifier rated at 100 watts per channel, which (again) is better than my older, more expensive receiver. It’s also a lot lighter, weighing less than 10 pounds. It also features:

    • An MHL/HDMI port to handle streaming HD video devices.
    • Speaker terminals for seven speakers including two subwoofers plus two networked speakers.
    • An USB port for digital audio or to connect an Apple or Android device.
    • Dolby True HD/Dolby Pro Logic IIz/Dolby Digital Plus audio for movies and TV.
    • Several Dolby enhanced audio presets, ranging from “concert hall” to “rock.”
    • Apple AirPlay and Bluetooth compatibility.
    • Speaker terminals for eight speakers including two subwoofers.

    Basically the choice boils down to the types of connections you need and the clarity of the sound (although there’s very little difference between what the “discriminating ear” can hear at 150 watts per channel or 100 watts).

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

    The author has no financial ties to either of the companies discussed above.

  • On Zombies and Cyber Attacks
    During the winter of 2013-14, amidst the school delays and extreme weather conditions in much of the United States, the federal Emergency Alert System issued a warning, but perhaps not the one people expected: “Civil authorities in your area have reported that the bodies of the dead are rising from their graves and attacking the living. . . . Do not attempt to approach or apprehend these bodies, as they are considered extremely dangerous.” Hackers had reportedly penetrated the system to issue a “bogus zombie alert” in yet another “disturbingly common” episode showcasing the myriad vulnerabilities buried in “critical systems throughout [U.S.] government . . . .” Aside from being fodder for bored hackers, such weaknesses can be exploited by cyber criminals, terrorists, and nation-states, which makes securing “critical infrastructure” a key test of effective cybersecurity policymaking. Thus far, though, it is a test that many nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and India, are failing. However, the release of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework could signal a new chapter in securing critical infrastructure not only in the United States, but also in the European Union and potentially around the world.

    Nations are taking varying approaches to enhancing critical infrastructure cybersecurity. What has emerged is a governance spectrum with the United States, United Kingdom, and India preferring a more voluntary approach, while other cyber powers, including China, are opting for a larger role for the state. The European Union so far seems to fall toward the middle of the spectrum, with calls for establishing “appropriate cybersecurity performance requirements” as well as mandatory reporting for cyber attacks having a “significant impact” on firms operating across a broad array of sectors.

    Time and experience will demonstrate whether a more voluntary or regulatory approach is more effective at securing critical infrastructure. The former, for example, holds the benefit of innovation through experimentation, but the lack of enforcement mechanisms can make the uptake of best practices haphazard. Consider the electric grid. The United States has more than 3,200 independent power utilities, unlike Germany, which has four major providers. Organizing the efforts of a handful of utilities is a far easier undertaking than ensuring the uptake of best practices across thousands of disparate actors.

    To help realize the promise of a largely voluntary approach of securing critical infrastructure, President Obama issued an executive order that tasked NIST with developing the Cybersecurity Framework in February 2013, which promises to be a “prioritized, flexible, repeatable, and cost-effective approach” to help “manage cybersecurity-related risk while protecting business confidentiality, individual privacy and civil liberties.” Many commentators have gauged this effort as falling short of what is required, but it could help shape a cybersecurity duty of care.

    Over time, the Framework could shape the cybersecurity reform efforts of other nations and regions, including India and the European Union, where it has already peaked the interest of E.U. policymakers. Evolving cybersecurity best practices could even be made enforceable through industry councils similar to the process by which norms from the nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Council became binding through Congressional action in the wake of the 2003 northeast blackout. One hopes that it will not take a major cyber attack, or a zombie invasion, to galvanize similar action to enhance security for critical infrastructure.


    For further information on this topic, see MANAGING CYBER ATTACKS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW, BUSINESS AND RELATIONS: IN SEARCH OF CYBER PEACE (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2014); Beyond the New ‘Digital Divide’: Analyzing the Evolving Role of Governments in Internet Governance and Enhancing Cybersecurity, STANFORD JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW (2014).

  • 25 Documentaries Every Arts & Culture Lover Needs To Watch Right Now
    We’ve all sat in front of our Netflix accounts, tirelessly sifting through film and television genres like “Dark Biographical 20th Century Period Pieces” and “Quirky TV Shows Featuring a Strong Female Lead,” never quite finding that perfect piece of cinematography. Defeated by your own streaming service, you haplessly watch another beloved episode of “Twin Peaks” thinking this just can’t last much longer.

    While we won’t deny the overwhelming allure of David Lynch, we will give you a list of 25 documentaries every Arts & Culture lover needs to watch. From Dutch prostitution heroines to the man behind Pee-wee’s Playhouse to indie gaming to vintage gig posters, these are the historical gems you should be adding to your queue right now.

    1. Cutie and the Boxer(2013)

    A candid portrait of a 40-year marriage between Japanese “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Even if you’re not particularly fond of contemporary art, this doc shines a light on the anger, sacrifice and confrontation involved in an aging relationship. And you can’t help but fall in love with Noriko.

    2. Beautiful Darling(2010)

    “Beautiful Darling” tells the story of Andy Warhol muse, Candy Darling. Born James Slattery, Darling became a Factory film star, garnered the attention of Tennessee Williams and aspired to Hollywood, all before her untimely death from Lymphoma at 29.

    3. Paris is Burning (1990)

    This is your introduction to all things 1980s NYC drag, with a heavy emphasis on voguing and balls. “We’re not going to be shady, just fierce.”

    4. Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2012)

    Need we explain more? Let the trailer above tell you all you need to know about the subcultural phenomenon.

    5. Degenerate Art: The Art and Culture of Glass Pipes (2011)

    Have you ever considered glass pipe-making a facet of American folk art? As the conversation around legalized marijuana continues to grow, maybe you should.

    6. Meet The Fokkens (2011)

    Louise and Martine Fokkens are identical twins who for over fifty years worked as prostitutes. Familiar to many who’ve frequented Amsterdam’s Red Light District, the women freed themselves from the oversight of pimps, ran their own brothel and set up the first informal trade union for prostitutes. This is their story.

    7. First Position (2011)

    Enter one of the world’s largest ballet competitions, the Youth America Grand Prix. There are tiaras and tutus, along with intense global competition and unbelievable adolescent ambition. You do not, we repeat, DO NOT have to love dance to be fascinated by this documentary.

    8. Good Ol’ Freda (2013)

    This documentary outlines the life of Freda Kelly, the secretary and longtime friend of the Beatles. She was there all 10 years of the Fab Four’s career — actually, 11, since she was around before they hit it big and after they cruised to an end.

    9. The Rape of Europa (2006)

    Before George Clooney launched his own version of the “Monuments Men” story, “The Rape of Europa” illustrated the extent of Nazi art plundering and the efforts of Allied forces to minimize the damage.

    10. Inside Pixar (2013)

    From “the little studio that could” to the animated children’s movie behemoth that it has become, Pixar has done so growing up over the last few years. Art and tech nerds alike, this one is for you.

    11. A Band Called Death (2012)

    We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, you’ve got to watch this rockumentary about the Black punk group that predated Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones.

    12. Beauty is Embarrassing (2012)

    Wayne White is the man behind “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” He’s an artist who’s done a Smashing Pumpkins video, visuals for Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time,” “Beakman’s World,” and “The Weird Al Show.” “Beauty is Embarrassing” covers all this and more.

    13. Indie Game: The Movie (2012)

    These are the “underdogs” of the gaming industry, who’ve created works like “Super Meat Boy,” the adventures of a skinless boy in search of his girlfriend, who is made of bandages. Yes.

    14. Helvetica (2007)

    Shout out to the typography lovers everywhere and all those individuals who fervently craft Word documents in a font lovingly known as Helvetica. These are its origins.

    15. Fame High (2012)

    “We always want to find that one special student,” says an ominous voice in the “Fame High” trailer. Yup, it’s that high school — the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), where future actors, singers, dancers, and musicians are made.

    16. Just Like Being There (2012)

    Thanks to MONDO and Gallery 1988, the world is becoming even more excited about the vintage gig poster, those stunning works of graphic design and illustration that pay homage to music’s greatest acts. Need to brush up on your gig poster history? Here’s your chance.

    17. The Black Power Mixtape: 1967-1975 (2011)

    This is a portrait of the Black Power Movement in the United States, as captured by Swedish journalists and filmmakers. Beautiful cinematography and a stunning historical documentary of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

    18. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

    You’ve definitely heard about the Chinese artist and political dissident by now, but you might have procrastinated and not yet viewed Alison Klayman’s biographical doc. Well, it’s on Netflix and you have no excuse.

    19. Upside Down: The Creation Records Story (2010)

    Creation Records will go down in history as one of the world’s most successful independent music record labels, or “the ultimate fucked-up family.” Check out “Upside Down,” a definitive history of the label, and make your own assessment.

    20. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (2011)

    She launched Twiggy, hailed Barbara Streisand’s nose, advised Jackie Onassis, made waves at the Factory and Studio 64. This is an overview of the “Empress of Fashion”s 50-year reign.

    21. The Art of the Steal (2009)

    This is THE scandal of the art world, as the trailer declares. (It involves the Barnes Foundation, $25 billion and a bunch of conspiracy theories. Oh, art.)

    22. Greenwich Village: Music That Defined A Generation (2012)

    This is the Greenwich Village documentary you’ve been waiting for. “Greenwich Village is mostly a state of mind, but in the Village everyone is young inside.”

    23. The Antics Roadshow (2011)

    A Banksy-directed documentary that looks at the art pranks, acts of art vandalism and general activist antics that have rocked the world.

    24. Pina (2011)

    Everything you ever wanted to know about contemporary choreographer Pina Bausch. Or, for the unitiated, a beautiful, 3D documentary chock full of knowledge that will impress your cultured friends.

    25. I Think We’re Alone Now (2008)

    “I Think We’re Alone Now” introduced the world to Jeff and Kelly, two people who claim to be in love with the 80’s pop singer Tiffany. Happy viewing!

  • Despite Skepticism, Many People May Embrace Radical Transhumanist Technology in the Future
    As long as they’re earthbound, most people shrug off the idea of being anything other than a biological human. Some people are even repulsed or angered by the concept of scientifically tampering with the human body and brain too much. However, the time is coming when radical technology will allow us to expand and significantly improve the abilities of our minds and the forms of our bodies. A transhumanist age is nearly upon the human race — an age where cyborgs, sentient robots, virtual lives based in computers and dramatically altered human beings may become commonplace.

    Already, there are hundreds of universities, laboratories and companies around the world where transhumanist projects are underway. A transhumanist is a person who aims to move beyond the human being via science and technology. Some of the most eye-opening projects are military-oriented, such as the “Iron Man” armor suit being created for American soldiers. Trials runs of the suit are tentatively scheduled for this summer. Another well-known project is at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden where scientists are connecting robotic limbs to the human nervous system of amputees, essentially creating cyborg-like people. The first arm surgeries are scheduled to occur in less than 12 months. Of course, private companies like Google are also very much involved in the broad field of transhumanism. They are spending many millions of dollars on creating artificial intelligence, which one day may have its own sentience and be thousands of times smarter than humans. Renowned futurist, Ray Kurzweil, is one of Google’s top technologists working on the project.

    Even though some of these technologies seem frightening to the layperson, they should be here in a matter of years, not decades. One of the most exciting and controversial ideas of transhumanism is the complete integration of the human mind with a machine. Similar to the extraordinary technology featured in the movie The Matrix, humans may be able to download themselves into computers and live virtual existences.

    Lately, I have been speaking more frequently about mind uploading in conferences, interviews and in casual conversations with friends. I often get asked in a highly dubious way: Could you really just let yourself disappear into a machine, Zoltan?

    The study of how and why human beings and society accept technology and innovation is fascinating. Generally, people are wired to be wary and afraid of treading new paths and considering unknown ideas; we are engrained with a powerful “flight” mechanism, designed to preserve our safety and well-being. Yet, that has hardly stopped civilization from progress. The first time fire was seen by our homo erectus ancestors, it was likely treated as a great evil or a monster. Later, it became our species’ foundation for warmth, disease-free food and light. The history of anesthesia is similar. At first, some considered it too unnatural before realizing how useful it was for successful surgery and medicine. Even the automobile was considered too loud and problematic when it first came out. Nonetheless, like all great technologies, society did embrace it, even if skeptically at first.

    In time, many humans will also come to view mind uploading and virtual lives as just as important and real as biological human lives. Already on sites like Kickstarter, there are companies looking for funding that will create thought-capturing headsets and haptic feedback suits to bring us that much closer to complete virtual world immersion. Even virtual sex, considered bizarre by most, will likely come to be a popular way to enjoy intimacy with a partner. In an increasingly busy world where many travel for work and are away from loved ones for days at a time, such intimacy may be welcomed. Some may laugh at these concepts now, but the personal computer was laughed at by many too when it first came out.

    A concept I’ve defined in my philosophical writings as the “futurization of values” promotes the idea that people should try to live according to where they believe they are going in life, and not only where they actually are. With science and technology advancing so rapidly, it would be valuable to begin examining the perspective from our projected future selves. In this way, we might not be so skeptical or afraid of new technology that might be beneficial to our species. Rather than mock and shrug off such advances that will soon be a part of our lives, we might consider instead what their value is and how they might improve our lives and those of our loves ones.

  • There Are More People Playing 'Candy Crush' Than There Are People Living In Australia (MAP)
    King Digital Entertainment, the developer behind the immensely popular “Candy Crush Saga” mobile game, has announced plans to go public, and its F-1 form reveals quite a few interesting nuggets of information.

    The form, filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, contains facts and figures for potential investors, including the number of Daily Active Users (DAUs) for each of King’s five mobile games: “Candy Crush Saga,” “Pet Rescue Saga,” “Farm Heroes Saga,” “Papa Pear Saga” and “Bubble Witch Saga.” The most impressive of these games is hands down “Candy Crush Saga,” which has more than 93 million active users per day.

    To put that number into perspective, we checked the populations of a few places to see how their number of residents measured up against the “population” of “Candy Crush.” As it turns out, there are more people playing “Candy Crush Saga” every day than there are people living in France (65.7 million), the United Kingdom (63.2 million), Germany (81.9 million), Canada (34.8 million), or the entire continent of Australia (22.6 million). In fact, there are only 12 countries with populations greater than the 93 million players who swipe virtual sweets for points every day.

    That’s a heck of a lot of candy.

    Check out the map below to see which 12 countries still have “Candy Crush Saga” fans beat (orange) and how many countries are dwarfed by the game’s impressive user numbers (red).

    candy crush map

Mobile Technology News, February 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.

  • What Social Business Looks Like Beyond Social Media (INFOGRAPHIC)
    Sure, your business is killing it on Facebook and Twitter. With thousands of likes and followers, one might expect business to be booming.

    What many may not know, however, is that it takes a village — or in this case, collaboration, to take a business to the next level.

    By utilizing not merely social platforms, but also mobile and cloud technologies, see how businesses of all sizes are going from simply “liking” to leading using social business tactics in the infographic below.

    *Click to expand.*

    What Social Media Looks Like Beyond Social Business

    Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.
  • VIDEO: Crowdsourced boats to map the seas
    Crowdsourced boats log what lies beneath the UK seas
  • How to cash in with off-the-peg apps
    How you too could become a mobile games mogul
  • Can Europe go its own way on data?
    Can Europe keep its data to itself?
  • More signs that Apple A8 chip production is approaching
    Apple may be gearing up for A8 processor production if its relationship with TSMC pans out.
  • Tesla Protests Bills That Would Curb Its Expansion
    OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Tesla Motors enthusiasts drove their electric cars to Olympia on Monday to protest legislation they said would prevent the company from opening and operating additional facilities in Washington state.

    Tesla lobbyist Daniel Witt told supporters at the Capitol that under legislation currently proposed, Tesla would not be able to expand beyond the two stores and service centers it operates in Seattle and Bellevue. Language in House Bill 2524 and its companion Senate Bill 6272 says the Department of Licensing would no longer be able to issue additional facility licenses to Tesla because of its status as a vehicle manufacturer and not as a dealer. The company sells cars directly from the manufacturer to the consumer.

    “We’re eager to see this language out of the bill,” he said.

    Bill and Jean Hotchkiss of Vancouver, Wash., bought their Tesla Model S online in April 2013, a process Bill Hotchkiss called seamless.

    Bill Hotchkiss said that they came to Olympia, in part, because, “it cost us nothing to get here.” The car currently sold by Tesla can go up to 265 miles on a single battery charge.

    The Model S begins at about $70,000 but can top $100,000 with options. Washington state has the most Tesla Motors Inc. cars per capita in terms of sales, Witt said.

    Both bills, which also clarify existing laws between car dealers and manufacturers, have passed through one committee and are in their respective Rules Committees.

  • Where William Howard Taft's Steam-Powered Car Calls Home

    SANDWICH — It was Presidents Day in 1909 and William Howard Taft was watching television at the White House.

    Another car commercial came on.

    “Come on down!” said the pitchman. “What’s it going to take to put you in this 1909 White Steam Car today?

    Of course there was no Presidents Day back then and no TV either.

    But President Taft loved cars and he may have been the guy that got the whole Presidents Day/car sale thing going.

    One of his beloved autos calls Cape Cod home.

    “He was the first president to be officially transported by automobile as opposed to horse-drawn carriage,” said Jennifer Madden, director of collections and exhibitions at Heritage Museums & Gardens.

    For more than 40 years, Taft’s White steam car has been in the collection of vehicles displayed at the J.K. Lilly III Automobile Museum.

    A cheerful and gregarious man, Taft was a big auto enthusiast even before he helmed the country for four years starting in 1909.

    “When he became president, one of the first things he did was get some money to buy a fleet of automobiles and this car was one of them,” Madden said. “But, of course, while he was president, he had a chauffeur to drive him.”

    In addition to the White steamer, the 27th U.S. president also acquired two Pierce-Arrow limousines, according to the White House Historical Association. At the time, nobody was able to tell whether gasoline, steam or electrical power was going to corner the car market, Madden said.

    “Steam had its advantages because it was familiar to people — people knew it from locomotives and steam-powered factories,” she said. “It was safe, it was quiet, water was available everywhere.”

    But the drawbacks could cause road rage these days. The mechanically complicated vehicles took 10 to 40 minutes to warm up, for example. “You’re basically waiting for water to boil, like cooking pasta,” Madden said, adding that it wasn’t long before gasoline-powered vehicles were the favorite.

    Taft apparently liked that the White steamer helped him hide from the paparazzi.

    “The $4,000 Steamer became a favorite of the camera-shy president when he discovered he could conceal himself from pesky press photographers with a carefully timed burst of steam,” according to a 1993 article in Popular Mechanics magazine.

    It is unclear whether Taft’s steamer made the road trip to Provincetown in 1910, when the president dedicated the 252-foot-tall Pilgrim Monument. “Road conditions at the time were not great,” said Madden.

    The public can see Taft’s White steamer when the museum opens for the season April 19. ___

    (c)2014 the Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, Mass.)

    Visit the Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, Mass.) at www.capecodonline.com

    Distributed by MCT Information Services

  • Parenting in a Wired World

    Parenting in our exceedingly connected, wired world can leave mothers, fathers, and caretakers alike wondering how to manage it all. The fast pace of life, combined with the use of multiple devices draws our attention away from our loved ones. At the same time, many of us notice our inner world beckoning us back for deeper connection. What actions do we take to find peace amidst it all?

    We have all observed with sadness entire families with their heads down in a device … barely noticing one another other. What if we took those moments to take a breath and set an intention to let the human beings we love take precedent over electronic devices, as Hands Free Mama Rachel Macy Stafford suggests?

    Our breath and presence alone is unlikely to unwind our own childhood patterns. As parents, we must also work to get in touch with those parts of ourselves that we have forgotten, discover where we have been wounded, and commit to new ways of being and living in the world, as Dr. Shefali Tsabary so skillfully suggests. Easier said than done, but nonetheless an honorable commitment to make as a parent or caregiver.

    My path to conscious parenting began many years ago, and although I’ve come a long way, it still feels as if I have so much more to learn. Perhaps for most of us, the willingness to be open to learning coupled with investigating our internal worlds is the easiest first step. Knowing what we don’t know allows for curiosity and wonder to play their parts in the way we raise our children.

    When my eldest son was only three years old, I asked him to tell mommy if ever he thought I needed to breath and take a break. I was dumbfounded by how often I would hear his little voice saying “breathe, Momma.” I would look at him, say thank you, and take a centering breath so he could see my energy shift and calm. He was my teacher then, and he remains one of my greatest teachers now.

    Many in the Wisdom 2.0 Community share an inner compass pointing us to the need for a new paradigm in the way we navigate this journey called “parenting.” We will explore this topic and many more at this year’s conference, beginning February 14th in San Francisco, California.

    Tickets are still available for the day-long Children, Family, and Parenting Intensive on Monday February 17th. You can find more information here.

    This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Wisdom 2.0 in conjunction with the fifth annual Wisdom 2.0 Conference, held this weekend (Feb. 13-16, 2014), in San Francisco. Wisdom 2.0 is the premier event exploring the intersection of wisdom and technology. For more information about the conference, visit www.wisdom2conference.com. To see all the posts in the series, read here.

  • Social Media Week 2014 Promotes Discussion About Tech's Role In Business And Society
    Feb. 17 marks the beginning of Social Media Week 2014, a time for thoughtful discourse about how the always-changing technology landscape is impacting business, society and individual lives.

    Social Media Week has been going strong since its inception in 2009. This year, more than 30,000 people in eight cities across the world are expected to engage in the conversation, the event’s founder Toby Daniels told HuffPost Live’s Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani.

    Jordan Freeman, The Huffington Post’s vice president of brand strategy and development, said Social Media Week creates the perfect forum to have a discussion about what direction in which the proliferation of technology is taking the world.

    “The rise of technology has caused this 24/7 connection, and in some ways that’s great, and in some ways it could have a very negative impact on the way we’re managing our careers, our relationships, our families and our lives,” she said.

    Learn more about Social Media Week 2014 in the full HuffPost Live conversation below.

  • Krugman Slams Comcast-Time Warner Deal
    Last week’s big business news was the announcement that Comcast, a gigantic provider of cable TV and high-speed Internet service, has reached a deal to acquire Time Warner, which is merely huge.
  • Microsoft inks digital signature integration deal with DocuSign
    Partnership will allow users of the office suite to digitally sign documents from within Microsoft’s desktop apps.
  • Roaming makes visitors 'switch off'
    More than a quarter of travellers in Europe turn their phones off completely to avoid roaming charges, research from the European Commission suggests.
  • Samsung allegedly dropped as producer of A8 in favor of TSMC [u]
    (Updated with LTE chipset claims) Apple has dropped Samsung as a manufacturer of the A8 processor in 2014, a TechNews Taiwan report claims. Samsung is said to be having trouble manufacturing the chip using its 20nm process. TSMC, though, is allegedly capable of meeting Apple demands, and is predicted to take on all A8 production this year.


  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk Met With Apple Executives: Report
    Two of the world’s most innovative companies may have discussed working together or even joining forces, according to a San Francisco Chronicle report.

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with Adrian Pierca, Apple’s head of mergers and acquisitions, last spring as analysts were suggesting Apple acquire the electronic carmaker, the Chronicle reported Sunday, citing an unnamed source.

    “While a megadeal has yet to emerge (for all of its cash, Apple still plays hardball on valuation), such a high-level meeting between the two Silicon Valley giants involving their top dealmakers suggests Apple was very much interested in buying the electric car pioneer,” the report said.

    (Read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle here.)

    Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post. Tesla declined to comment.

    Apple and its CEO Tim Cook spent much of last year fighting off concerns from analysts and investors that the company had lost its innovative edge. While the company added new technologies to many of its products in recent years, Apple hasn’t launched a new product in a new category since 2010, when the iPad first came out, according to USA Today.

    Acquiring Tesla could ease some of those worries. Nothing says “IT’S THE FUTURE” quite like a car that runs on electricity with a fancy touchscreen that tells drivers where they can charge up next. And Musk, a co-founder of PayPal, has become somewhat of a Silicon Valley darling, unveiling ideas like the Hyperloop — an idea for an elevated transit system that could get people from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just 30 minutes — to much fanfare.

    Andaan Ahmad, an analyst at German bank Berenberg, said as much when he suggested Apple buy Tesla in an open letter to Cook in October. Ahmad argued Apple needs “an out of the box” move into a new market, according to CNNMoney. Otherwise, he wrote, Apple’s future will only be about how much money the company can continue to squeeze out of the iPhone.

    In addition, if Apple acquired Tesla, the tech giant would get the added benefit of bringing an innovative leader like Musk into the fold. “You could strike up a partnership and obtain a new iconic partner to lead Apple’s innovation drive,” Ahmad wrote.

    Apple isn’t the only tech giant to explore the auto world. Google has a project in the works for driverless cars that would keep people safer on the road.

    Musk has signaled in the past that an Apple buy isn’t out of the realm of possibility. “They do have a lot of cash,” he told Bloomberg in an interview in May.

    This story was updated after Tesla declined to comment.

  • Meet The Man Who Uncovered The Target Hack
    SAN FRANCISCO — In the last year, Eastern European cybercriminals have stolen Brian Krebs’s identity a half dozen times, brought down his website, included his name and some unpleasant epithets in their malware code, sent fecal matter and heroin to his doorstep, and called a SWAT team to his home just as his mother was arriving for dinner.
  • Here's Proof That Beautiful Math Equations Affect The Brain Just Like Great Art
    What’s beautiful to you? A sunset? The face of a loved one? A favorite poem or song?

    Mathematicians sometimes say they find beauty in mathematical formulas, and a new brain scan study confirms that equations can activate the brain in much the same way that great art does.

    “To many of us, mathematical formulae appear dry and inaccessible, but to a mathematician an equation can embody the quintessence of beauty,” study author Dr. Semir Zeki, professor of neuroesthetics at University College London, said in a written statement. “The beauty of a formula may result from simplicity, symmetry, elegance or the expression of an immutable truth.”

    For the study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Zeki and his colleagues recruited from local colleges 16 male and female mathematicians between the ages of 22 and 32. The mathematicians were asked to review 60 mathematical formulas and to rate them on a scale ranging from minus five (ugly) to plus five (beautiful). Two weeks later they re-rated the equations while in a functional MRI (fMRI) scanner.

    fMRI scanners show neurological activity by measuring changes in the flow of blood inside the brain. The scans in the study showed that appreciating beautiful formulas is correlated with activity in the medial orbito-frontal cortex, a region at the front of the brain. Appreciating art or music is correlated with activity in that same region.

    Srinivasa Ramanujan’s infinite series (below) and Riemann’s functional equation didn’t fare well in the study. They were rated ugliest.

    final formula
    Srinivasa Ramanujan’s infinite series of 1/pi, which was rated as the ugliest mathematical formula.

    Which of the 60 math formulas were rated as especially beautiful? There were three: the Pythagorean identity, the Cauchy-Riemann equations, and Leonhard Euler’s identity (see above, top).

    It’s a real classic, and you can do no better than that,” Dr. David Percy, a professor affiliated with the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications in the U.K., told the BBC about Euler’s identity. “It is simple to look at and yet incredibly profound, it comprises the five most important mathematical constants… It also comprises the three most basic arithmetic operations–addition, multiplication, and exponentiation.”

    Dr. Steven Strogatz, professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, offered a different take on the new research. “Some beautiful equations are like art, but others are more like great jokes,” he told The Huffington Post in an email. “They’re surprising and true at the same time. That’s what makes them so delightful.”

  • The unknown consequences of extended tablet use by children is a concern to many experts
    Since the release of the iPad, tablet use has proliferated among the general population including children that can barely walk. Children easily scroll through apps, stream videos and play games, yet there is some concern among pediatricians and other health experts that too much time spent on tablets can hinder their education and social development.
  • Vodafone wins 500,000 4G customers in six months
    The mobile operator celebrates the milestone that sees it rolling out the faster data connections across 208 cities and towns in the UK
  • Google Integrates with comScore's Cross-Platform Measurement Tool
    PALM  SPRINGS, CA –  At the IAB annual leadership meeting, Google and announced its full integration with comScore to measure the impact of cross-platform ad campaigns.   Here is is the comScore press release.

    For an overview on the agreement and its implications for the digital industry, we spoke with Serge Matta, president of comScore.

    You can find this post on Beet.TV.

Mobile Technology News, February 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.

  • Google buys sound authentication firm
    Google acquires SlickLogin – an Israeli start-up behind the technology that allows websites to verify a user’s identity by using sound waves.
  • S Korea firms fined over data theft
    South Korean regulators have punished three credit card companies for their role in the country’s largest-ever theft of financial data last month.
  • Five-year-olds to study video games
    The game for five-year-olds and other Seattle start-ups
  • Data stolen in Kickstarter hack
    Popular online crowdfunding website Kickstarter is hacked, but no credit card data was accessed, says its chief executive.
  • 'iPad Pro' iffy, Microsoft Office on iPad 'alive' in 2014: Reports
    Coming soon — or not so soon — to an iPad near you: Reports weigh in on iPad ‘Pro’ and Microsoft Office coming to the popular tablet.
  • Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner Among Olympians Letting Sponsors Compose Some Tweets
    SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Between photos and insights about their Olympic experience, some Olympians are turning over their social media accounts to sponsors, agreeing to quotas of postings on Twitter and Facebook and letting other people send commercial messages in their name.

    The agents for US figure skaters Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold both say sponsors draft some of their tweets, plugging their brands. “This is the first Olympics where I actually have a social media calendar, where an athlete has to tweet or mention something on a given day,” Gold’s agent, Yuki Saegusa, said in an interview.

    “We get a list of tweets or social media things that need to be posted and then we approve them for her,” said Saegusa, senior vice president for Olympic clients at sports management giant IMG.

    Although they “encourage” Gold to post the pre-packaged commercial tweets to her 65,000 followers herself, sometimes others do it for her.

    “We want it to be from her point of view, and from her mouth and from her fingers. So we try to get her to do them — mostly,” Saegusa said.

    “We’re in a very new age now where a lot of advertising, or PR, or promotions, is social media. That’s becoming a very important aspect of marketing.”

    Wagner’s IMG agent, David Baden, said athletes’ sponsorship deals are now starting to specify “how many tweets, how many Facebook mentions and even Instagram” photos they must post.

    “That is part of the contract now. That is how important social media has become,” he said. “The last Olympics that was not the case.”

    Baden, an IMG vice president for Olympic clients, worked with skating bronze medalist Joannie Rochette at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

    He said they have access to Wagner’s account, so they can post commercial tweets to her 60,000 followers.

    “It’s not like Ashley doesn’t know about these. I mean we send her all these. She had to approve all of them, and so it’s not that she does not know what is being said. She’s seen it. She’s part of this whole process,” he said.

    “It’s just that with her schedule, and if we can make things easier, what’s the difference?”

    Sponsors make sure schedules of tweets are adhered to.

    “We’ll get a message, usually, from the sponsor, and just say(ing) ‘Just reminding you this week, these tweets,” he said. “I’ll send it to my assistant. And she’ll just say; ‘Yes, I have it already in queue to do it.'”

    The agents did not specify which of their athletes’ tweets in recent months were drafted and posted on their behalf.

    The verified accounts of both Gold and Wagner — @GraceEGold and @AshWagner2010 — have referenced their own and US Olympic Committee sponsors, in tweets and re-tweets.

    It’s not clear which recent postings were paid for, but after the Feb. 7 opening ceremony Gold sent out an Instagram photo of herself holding a lipstick applier. “Couldn’t forget the red lips,” it read. As well as CoverGirl, her Twitter profile lists other sponsors: Visa, United Airlines, Procter & Gamble Family, Smucker’s, Pandora Jewelry and Airweave.

    Baden says to fulfill their contracts, simply retweeting a tweet first sent by a sponsor isn’t sufficient.

    When on one occasion he used his own account to send a sponsor’s tweet and then asked Wagner to retweet it, “they called me and said, ‘No, no. No retweets. It has to come from her.'”


    Follow John Leicester on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnleicester

  • How A Bewildering Literary Phrase Taught Me To Love My Flaws And Limitations
    Click here to watch the TEDTalk that inspired this post.

    The first assignment I was given at Oxford, where I was spending my junior year of college, was to write about the novels of Thomas Hardy, paying attention to “the disturb of the fictive.” There were eight of us in the room when our tutor pronounced these words, and we all looked at each other, dumbfounded, none of us daring to ask the woman for clarification. She was the ex-wife of a descendant of William Wordsworth, she smoked stinky French cigarettes, and she dressed, always, in black. She was terrifying.

    We were to write the essay over the course of the week and present it to the tutor at the first of our one-on-one tutorials. Off we went, bewildered and ignorant. Fictive was tricky enough, but disturb? As a noun? What on earth did it mean? We discussed the phrase over meals and coffees, but made no headway with it before it was time for us to settle in, alone, to write.

    There are moments in any writer’s work when something goes awry, or when something upsets the writer’s plan for the novel (or short story, or poem). Often, these deviations end up being for the best. — Henriette Lazaridis Power

    That first week, I was convinced the tutor was nuts and I looked ahead to a year of tutorials with dread, convinced I wouldn’t learn a thing. Instead, she turned out to be a professor of unusual intelligence and insight, and over the years, in my first career as an English professor and my current one as a novelist, I keep coming back to that strange idea of hers: the disturb of the fictive. I’ve looked through my old papers, but can’t find the essay I wrote, and I’ve Googled the phrase with no success. But the idea still fascinates me–or at least my idea of what I think it means.

    There are moments in any writer’s work when something goes awry, or when something upsets the writer’s plan for the novel (or short story, or poem). Often, these deviations end up being for the best. A novel that adheres too strictly to the outline laid out for it at the start might be too programmatic to be interesting. Sometimes, the detour becomes the road you need your plot to follow. Sometimes a character you had no intention of spending more than a few pages on can grow into a novel’s driving force.

    But there’s something more than that–and that’s what the tutor was trying to get at with her disturb of the fictive. There are instances in the work of a writer or a painter or a musician when the very energy of creation makes itself felt in the resulting art. In those Hardy novels, I think it’s in moments when it almost feels as if the narrative is a scroll that has stopped rolling while the pen keeps writing. You end up with a passage so deeply and intensely written over that it borders on the incomprehensible. And then the scroll starts up again and the novel moves on the way it’s supposed to.

    You can’t plan for these moments in your own work, but you can spot them and edit them out. Or should you?

    I’m all for writing that is meticulously cared for, and I value the same dedication in the photography or painting or acting or singing that I seek out. Still, why rid your work of the traces of its own creation? Couldn’t it be that the flaw you see but leave intact becomes your own mark of creation and identity, like the fingerprint at the edge of a potter’s vase, or the hair that drops from the painter’s head onto the still-wet canvas?

    These days, we can consume our art in conditions of perfection: CD’s with no crackle or static, photographs with no scratches. But I think we all find something intriguing in the idea of the disturbance. We love the Easter egg in the video game, the intentional flaw of a Navajo rug or a quilt. More and more of us have tired of the digital clarity of a CD, and film is still being produced for those who want the imperfections of a negative in the darkroom. Conceptual artists have long been making art that is set to decay, its disturb built in to the fictive energy that invented it. Audiobooks now come so cleanly produced that you hear only the syllables and nothing more, but I will never forget a recording of the Turn of the Screw in which I could hear the actor’s every inhalation–a poor production, no doubt, but so human.

    That is it, in the end: the disturb of the fictive is that quality in art that is human, impermanent, physical, that comes from our hard imaginative work. What I learned that week so many years ago took me a long time to truly discover. It’s in its flaws and limitations that our work comes alive, and it’s in those flaws and limitations that we reveal ourselves, as artists and as human beings.

    Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today’s most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email tedweekends@huffingtonpost.com to learn about future weekend’s ideas to contribute as a writer.

  • 7 Random Acts Of Kindness Inspired By A Drinking Game
    When a dangerous online drinking game called “NekNomination” began spreading rapidly on Facebook and Twitter, it looked as though we’d found another reason to curse social media (and young people).

    NekNomination involves filming yourself drinking an alcoholic concoction and then nominating a friend to outdo you. The trend began in Australia but has spread across the globe, according to the Telegraph.

    But from this drinking game has come a new challenge — one that we’re promoting: RAKNominations.

    To counter the debauchery that NekNomination promotes, people have begun filming themselves doing random acts of kindness and nominating their friends to do the same.

    Here are just a few of the lovely gestures to pop up in the last week:

    1. This young man bought a bouquet of roses and randomly picked a stranger to give them to. His RAK target just happened to be an adorable elderly woman.

    2. This man bought a soup canteen, filled it with homemade soup and gave it to a homeless man, along with a new jacket.

    3. This group spent the day buying strangers coffee, paying for parking passes, and offering up banana bread to anyone they bumped into.

    4. This man went old-school and paid for the meals of people behind him in the KFC drive-thru.

    5. This young woman took the time to write a card for someone she doesn’t know. “Thank you for being you,” it reads. “I know your existence changed somebody’s life.”

    6. This woman decided to walk into a random convenience store and cover one (very appreciative) woman’s bill.

    7. This woman got creative. She walked into a book store, flipped to a random page number of a book, and went about getting that many hugs from strangers. With each embrace comes more smiles.

    h/t Metro News

  • Can You Pass The Science Quiz That Too Many Americans Failed?
    Do Americans know their science? The results are in from a new National Science Foundation survey that assessed our knowledge of basic biology, chemistry, astronomy, geology, and physics — and they don’t look promising.

    The survey shows that an alarming number of Americans think astrology has a foundation in science (it doesn’t). And too many of us don’t know what determines a baby’s sex or the correct answer to the simple true-or-false question “The universe began with a huge explosion.”


    Want to test your own science knowledge? All the questions from the survey are included in the quiz below.

  • First Map of Jupiter's Giant Moon Ganymede Unveiled (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

    The largest moon in the solar system has finally received its cartographic due.

    Scientists have created the first global geological map of Jupiter’s huge, ice-covered moon Ganymede, more than 400 years after its discovery by Galileo Galilei. The map, created using observations by NASA’s twin Voyager probes and Galileo orbiter, highlights the varied terrain of Ganymede, which is bigger than the planet Mercury.

    ganymede map
    To present the best information in a single view of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, a global image mosaic was assembled, incorporating the best available imagery from NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. This image shows Ganymede centered at 200 west longitude. This mosaic (right) served as the base map for the geologic map of Ganymede (left).

    “This map illustrates the incredible variety of geological features on Ganymede and helps to make order from the apparent chaos of its complex surface,” Robert Pappalardo, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a statement. “This map is helping planetary scientists to decipher the evolution of this icy world and will aid in upcoming spacecraft observations.” [Watch the video animation of the 1st full map of Jupiter’s giant moon Ganymede]

    The new map, which was published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), could also help scientists plan out the search for alien life, researchers said.

    “After Mars, the interiors of icy satellites of Jupiter are considered the best candidates for habitable environments for life in our solar system,” USGS Astrogeology Science Center director Laszlo Kestay said in a statement. “This geologic map will be the basis for many decisions by NASA and partners regarding future U.S. missions under consideration to explore these worlds.”

    Observations of Jupiter’s largest moon made since its discovery in 1610 have revealed many features and facts about Ganymede over the centuries. They show that the 3,273-mile-wide (5,268 kilometers) moon possesses dark, heavily cratered terrain as well as lighter, younger regions marked by many grooves and ridges.

    A geologic map of Jupiter’s largest moon Ganymede is superimposed over a global color mosaic of the Galilean moon made of images from NASA’s Voyager 1, 2 and Galileo spacecraft.

    The moon’s features have been shaped during three major geologic periods — one dominated by impact cratering, then another marked by lots of tectonic activity and finally a third in which this activity tapered off, scientists said.

    “The highly detailed, colorful map confirmed a number of outstanding scientific hypotheses regarding Ganymede’s geologic history, and also disproved others,” said Baerbel Lucchitta, scientist emeritus at the USGS in Flagstaff, Ariz. “For example, the more detailed Galileo images showed that cryovolcanism, or the creation of volcanoes that erupt water and ice, is very rare on Ganymede.”

    Voyager 1 and 2 flew by Ganymede in 1979 during their unprecedented solar system “grand tour,” then kept on going all the way toward interstellar space (which Voyager 1 entered in August 2012). The Galileo probe studied Ganymede and many other members of the Jovian system while orbiting Jupiter from 1995 through 2003.

    You can download a high-resolution copy of the new Ganymede geologic map for free at the USGS website here: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3237/

    Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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

  • The Most Epic Game Of 'Pokemon' Is Happening Right Now
    We all want to be the very best, like no one ever was, don’t we? Well, as we speak, thousands of players are simultaneously trying to catch ’em all in a single online game of “Pokémon.” And you can watch (or participate!) via streaming site Twitch.

    In a massive stream called “Twitch Plays Pokemon,” someone has adjusted a setting to allow any viewer to help control the character in a game of “Pokémon” Red or Blue (it’s unclear which early version of the game is being played).

    Instead of just watching the stream and commenting on the game, every person viewing the livestream can actually play the game by typing a controller command (up, left, A button, etc.) into the stream’s chat box. Sort of like virtually passing the controller back and forth between thousands of players.

    Pretty cool, huh?

    pokemon gif
    Gif via Wario64
    The image above shows the game unfolding on the left. On the right is the chat box, where you can see the different viewers (Gulgasaur, Dum dum dugan, etc.) and the commands they’re typing to progress the game.

    Ten of thousand viewers (and counting) are participating. Talk about teamwork! Someone was paying attention to all those heartwarming messages at the end of Pokémon episodes.

    Now, there are some limitations. Players can use only one command at a time (so no A+B+select+start restarts), and the chat box recognizes only the D-pad keys, A, B, Start and Select, according to Kotaku.

    As you can probably imagine, playing a single game of “Pokémon” controlled by more than 10,000 players is no easy feat, and even the simplest task (like walking in the right direction) requires a dizzying amount of luck and patience. But these resilient players seem to be doing okay, even as their numbers swell.

    Be strong, guys. Your courage will pull you through. We know it’s your destiny, and all that other stuff in the “Pokémon” theme song.

  • Academy's 2014 Scientific And Technical Awards Highlight Special Effects
    BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — The scientists and inventors who make big-screen superheroes, spectacular explosions and other only-in-the-movies effects possible have their own Oscar ceremony.

    Kristen Bell and Michael B. Jordan hosted the film academy’s Scientific and Technical Awards Saturday at the Beverly Hills Hotel, recognizing more than 50 of the most creative scientists and engineers in the movie business. These are the men who developed the computer technology behind the bullet scene in “The Matrix” and the animation techniques in “Life of Pi.” They’re the visionaries who build the things the film industry needs that don’t yet exist, like advanced remote helicopter cameras and the Pneumatic Car Flipper (which does what it sounds like), for which they received certificates and plaques from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    One honoree, Joshua Pines, who helped develop image-processing mathematics to standardize color, called the evening “this year’s annual winter Olympics for geeks.”

    The two Oscar statuettes were presented among the night’s 21 awards: The Gordon E. Sawyer Award to Peter W. Anderson for his contributions to 3-D technology, and an Academy Award of Merit in honor of the countless owners and operators of film-processing labs over the past century. “The Dark Knight” writer-director Christopher Nolan accepted the film lab Oscar, which will be on permanent display at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles when it opens in 2017.

    Nolan described film processors as alchemists who “(turn) silver and plastic into dreams — and not just any kind of dreams, but the kind of dreams you can unspool from a reel and hold in your hand, hold up to the light and see, frozen: magic.”

    He also contributed to the film-versus-digital debate that other honorees nudged at during the night.

    Film is “the technology that lies at the heart of filmmaking,” Nolan said, “and still represents the gold standard in imaging technology.”

    Still, the majority of Saturday’s awards honored research and inventions related to digital filmmaking.

    Eric Veach was recognized for his Stanford doctoral thesis that incorporates the physics of lighting into computer graphics. Dan Piponi, part of a team who created a system to simulate smoke and fire first used in films such as “Avatar” and “Puss In Boots,” joked about his unlikely road to Oscar recognition.

    “Nobody told me if I wanted to get an Academy Award, I should study mathematics,” he said. “But that’s what I did, and here I am.”

    Bell said she learned new scientific concepts and vocabulary as she prepared for the show, adding she was happy to help honor the artists deep behind the scenes.

    “A lot of the science and technology behind making movies seem realistic, all of those geniuses are here tonight,” she said, “and I’m excited to celebrate them.”

    The rest of this year’s Academy Awards will be presented March 2.


    AP Entertainment Writer Ryan Pearson contributed to this report.


    Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .




  • NSA allies 'spied on US law firm'
    Australian secret services tapped a US law firm representing Indonesia in a trade dispute with the US, fresh leaks by Edward Snowden suggest.
  • My quest to fix a broken iPad
    How I fixed my smashed iPad screen
  • Miranda Barbour, Accused Craigslist Killer, Admits To Slaying 22 People As Part Of Satanic Cult: Report
    SUNBURY, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman charged along with her newlywed husband in the murder of a man they met through Craigslist admitted to the slaying in a jailhouse interview with a newspaper and said she has killed more than 20 others across the country, claims police said they are investigating.

    In an interview with the Daily Item in Sunbury, Pa., 19-year-old Miranda Barbour said she wants to plead guilty to killing Troy LeFerrara in November. She also said in the interview that she has killed at least 22 other people from Alaska to North Carolina in the last six years as part of her involvement in a satanic cult. “I feel it is time to get all of this out. I don’t care if people believe me. I just want to get it out,” Barbour told the newspaper for a story published Saturday night (http://bit.ly/1gN81z3).

    Sunbury police Chief Steve Mazzeo told the newspaper that investigators have been in contact with the FBI and law enforcement in several other states.

    “From information we gathered and from information gathered from her interview we are seriously concerned and have been in contact with the proper authorities,” Mazzeo said.

    Lawyers for the couple did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press left at their offices Saturday night. An FBI spokesman referred questions to its Philly office, but an email message wasn’t immediately returned.

    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Barbour and her husband, 22-year-old Elytte Barbour. Authorities said Miranda Barbour, a petite woman with long brown hair, told investigators she met the 6-foot-2, 278-pound victim after he responded to her Craigslist ad offering companionship for money.

    Police allege in court papers that Elytte Barbour told investigators they committed the crime because they wanted to kill someone together. The couple, who were married in North Carolina and moved to Pennsylvania about three weeks before the crime, told police Miranda Barbour stabbed LaFerrara in the front seat of her car while her husband held a cord around his neck.

    She said in the interview that she doesn’t want to get out of jail and that she would kill again if she were released.

    Miranda Barbour offered little detail on the murders she claimed to have participated in in Alaska, Texas, North Carolina and California. She claims she joined a satanic cult in Alaska when she was 13 before moving to North Carolina. Online records for the woman that the newspaper identified as Barbour’s mother show her as having lived in both Alaska and North Carolina.

Mobile Technology News, February 16, 2014

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

  • My quest to fix a broken iPad
    How I fixed my smashed iPad screen
  • No, Facebook Didn't Crush Upworthy's Traffic

    Have you seen this graphic?

    Upworthy Crash -- Graphic by Business Insider

    Media analysts have been buzzing this last week about how this chart proves that a December change to the Facebook newsfeed algorithm is bringing the Upworthy media empire crashing down. Upworthy received nearly 50 million viewers in November, while their web traffic in December and January after the change was considerably lower. The timing here makes the cause obvious, right?

    Not so fast.

    Viral Sites Still Thriving

    Business Insider claims that “a quick survey of sites that post similar traffic to Upworthy show that they also saw peaks in November and declines in December, after the Facebook algorithm change.” However, an audit of other viral media websites shows this not to be the case. As Upworthy’s traffic went down, others saw an uptick. Utrend.tv and Distractify both grew from November to December, and ViralNova had no significant change. If the newsfeed algorithm change really was the culprit, you’d expect to see similar drops in viewership across the board.

    What Really “Crushed” Upworthy’s Traffic

    Upworthy is playing a numbers game. Not everything online can go viral, and that’s even true for a site like Upworthy.

    Upworthy's Top Stories - Graph via Scanvine

    A small number of Upworthy posts make up a majority of their shares and pageviews.

    Take a look at Upworthy’s traffic from Quantcast for the entire past year, and you’ll see clearly how a majority of their traffic comes from sporadic “viral” hits.

    Upworthy Yearly Traffic by Quantcast

    In November, Upworthy happened to have two particularly viral posts: “9 Out Of 10 Americans Are Completely Wrong About This Mind-Blowing Fact” and “2 People Described The Same Person To A Forensic Artist And This Is What Happened” both drove a huge number of people to their site. This resulted in a much higher monthly viewer count than usual — and you wouldn’t expect to see that many viewers again until the next time Upworthy happens to find back-to-back super-viral hits.

    So, the real story here isn’t that December and January had low traffic. It’s that, by chance, November had massive traffic, and that just makes every other month look small in comparison.

    This article was originally published at ShareProgress.org.

  • Kickstarter Hacked, Site Says Some Data Stolen
    Hackers breached the crowdfunding website Kickstarter and made off with some user information, the site revealed on Saturday.

    In a blog post, Kickstarter’s CEO Yancey Strickler wrote that though the hackers didn’t obtain any credit card data, they did gain access to other information about Kickstarter’s members, such as usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses and phone numbers. The site did not divulge details about the hackers’ methods.

    “On Wednesday night, law enforcement officials contacted Kickstarter and alerted us that hackers had sought and gained unauthorized access to some of our customers’ data,” the blog post reads. “Upon learning this, we immediately closed the security breach and began strengthening security measures throughout the Kickstarter system.”

    Kickstarter “strongly” recommends that all users change their passwords. The site, which allows people to fund projects ranging from independent films to gadgets for custom rewards, has over 5 million members.

    “We’re incredibly sorry that this happened,” Strickler wrote in the post. “We set a very high bar for how we serve our community, and this incident is frustrating and upsetting. We have since improved our security procedures and systems in numerous ways, and we will continue to do so in the weeks and months to come.”

    Read an email regarding the hack from Kickstarter CEO Yancey Strickler to the site’s members below:


  • 12 Reasons Google+ Isn't As Bad As You Think
    Sit down for this: I use Google+, and I love it.

    Having said that, you might be thinking that I, like the parent company aggressively pushing the social network, should stop trying to make Google+ happen. After all, how many social media accounts does one really need?

    When I first told a friend on Myspace about Facebook, she rolled her eyes. Maybe in the same way you might have shrugged off Twitter when you first learned of its existence. Both have been called fads. So has the entire Internet, for that matter.

    So why join Google+ in addition to (or even in lieu of) Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their ilk? It started for me as curiosity after I had used Google Buzz. It wasn’t that I was “done” with Facebook, but I wanted to see what Google could bring to my social networking experience, which I thought was still lacking.

    On Google+, I’ve found a blank canvas to create, share and interact with people all over the world. It’s a chance to be openly expressive on a platform where there are no preconceived notions of people who think they “know” me. You might have a lot of strong political opinions or a love of food porn pictures that you want to share with the world, but hold back on Facebook in fear of what your friends might think.

    You can enjoy this blank canvas and find a place to share what you’re truly passionate about, too. Here are 12 reasons you should give Google+ a second chance, if you haven’t already:

    1. Easily Control Who Can See Your Stuff

    Let’s say, for example, you want to share a post with only 10 people, but not the entire world. It’s as simple as typing your friends’ names into Google+’s share box. And if someone’s not on Google+? If you include their email address, they’ll get an email that lets them read your post. (Though the email will, understandably, ask them to join the network.) On Facebook, you must go through the tedious process of creating a specific group of people to privately share anything, and you can’t share outside the social network. And what about disabling comments or reshares? Can’t do it on Facebook, but you can on Google+.

    huffpost post

    2. Google+ Is A Photographer’s Paradise

    Google+ is full of amazing photographers, but you don’t have to include yourself in that category to appreciate what the social network offers. Google+ can automatically back up your Android or iPhone pictures privately as you take them (no other social network does that), and offers you tools to improve the tone, color and saturation of your so-so camera phone pics. There’s also something called “Auto Awesome,” a set of photo-editing tools that can automatically merge a burst of five or more pics into a GIF, erase people in the background of photos or add animated snow and twinkle to shots, among other tricks.

    3. Unlimited Space To Rant

    It’s unclear exactly what the character limit is on Google+ — some say it’s 100,000 — but it’s absolutely clear you get a LOT more space than other social networks offer. Facebook only lets you rant for about 60,000 characters, and, of course, Twitter give you only a paltry 140. Neither allow any of the flourishes like bolding or italics that Google encourages. If you’re looking for some free self-expression and have plenty to say, Google+ is the place for you. Have at it, Interwebs!

    4. You Can Find Your Interest Soulmates

    Google+ lets you join or create a “Community” on any topic you are passionate about — immediately connecting with people who also love zombies, or whatever you might be into. The communities can be used as places have passionate discussions, or just for meeting like-minded friends. You can also create a private community and save posts to read later. Do you like travel, sci-fi, or animals? You can find fellow enthusiasts on Google+.

    Right now, Facebook is where your family and friends are. Google+ is where you can discuss your interests and passions with people who like the same things you like.

    google communities

    5. Celebrities Ignore You On Twitter, But They Won’t On Google+

    Celebrities didn’t take to social media in big, genuine ways until Ashton Kutcher blew up on Twitter. Now, instead of just reading their tweets, you can regularly find all kinds of VIPs on Google+ who will give you the time of day, including astronaut Chris Hadfield, actress Jeri Ryan, tech geek Robert Scoble and Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. Even luminaries like President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama might actually give you face time on the social network that Reddit or Twitter can’t emulate.

    Jeri Ryan hanging out in 2012

    6. Did I Mention How Awesome The People On Google+ Are?

    The best part of the entire Google+ experience is meeting other regular people. People have dated, fallen in and out of love, gotten married, made lifelong friendships, formed business relationships, gotten new jobs and found places to crash when traveling abroad — all from hanging out on this network. Anything can happen: One day I was made into a zombie by Canadian artist Byron Rempel. The next day I hung out with Dell founder Michael Dell. Spend enough time on Google+, and you’ll (virtually) run into characters like bodypainter Paul Roustan, toy collector Michael Mozart, news anchor Sarah Hill, radio personality Jane Ellen and chef Larry Fournillier.

    Australian artist Ashlan Nathens displays a love note he made in honor of Google+ community

    7. You Can Start Your Own Hangout On Air Show And Reach The World Through A Live Video Broadcast

    A Hangout On Air is a live HD video event that you can schedule in advance, easily invite people to watch on Google+, and use in a number of awesome ways. People have used them to host their own videocast to talk about Game of Thrones, chat with photographers, hold an “Open Mic,” and even interview Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.

    Every week, you can join a FOX-11 Los Angeles Celebrity Interview Hangout to interact LIVE with a mix of cool celebs, meet up in the Virtual Star Party to see views via telescope that are out of this world, join the Collectors Hangout to discover the largest cool collections of anything from Legos to World War II memorabilia, weigh in on how your sports team is doing in the Sportschat.TV, or find out what tech device to purchase in an episode of Google+ Weekly.

    On Google+, there was a Virtual Landing Party for the Curiosity Rover from NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Paul Roustan showed us how he bodypaints a nude model (NSFW), the community got to interact with Vic Gundotra, the head of Google+, the National Finals Rodeo Fanfest in Las Vegas was brought to life in hangouts, and there was even an online music concert festival rocking Google+!

    A Virtual Star Party on Google+

    8. Star Wars Tuesday

    Forget Twitter and its Follow Friday. May the +1 be with you.

    9. Google+ Hangouts Happen In Real Life, Too

    A “hangout in real life,” or HIRL, happens when a bunch of Google+ enthusiasts actually meet in person. I’ve organized three HIRL weekends so far in New York. When you meet people you’ve hung out with on Google+, it can feel like you’ve known them forever. This following HIRL moment is from a concert of Google+ musicians, in which Canadian singer Ryan Van Sickle invited me up on stage for my New York singing debut.

    10. Google+ To Learn About Google Glass

    Unsurprisingly, those who’ve shelled out hundreds of dollars for the privilege of testing a Google product have taken to Google+ in a big way. There are a ton of excellent Google Glass-related photos, videos and other information on the social network for those thinking about buying the face computer when it finally goes on sale at the end of the year.

    If you want to watch people using Google Glass, circle Glass Explorers Brett Lipton, Daniel Fontaine, Bobbie Today, Derek Ross, Robert Warren, Jeris JC Miller, Laurie Des Autels, Mike Elgan, Shaker Cherukuri, Katy Kasmai and Peter McDermott to get a taste.

    11. GIFs!

    With the exception of Tumblr and more recently Pinterest, Google+ is the only major social network to let you share and view GIFs. Posted GIFs animate on both desktops and mobile devices, and you can even choose a GIF as your profile pic or cover photo.

    12. One Last Thing: There Are Currently No Ads On Google+

    And of course, if you do try Google+, don’t forget to circle HuffPost.

  • FantasySCOTUS: The Online Fantasy League For Supreme Court Enthusiasts
    HOUSTON (AP) — In many ways, it’s a fantasy league like any other, with players obsessing over mounds of data and minutia, teams sporting a variety of colorful names like “RISK It for the Biscuit” and projections that are bound to be way off.

    But in this fantasy league, it’s not the NFL’s Calvin Johnson or Peyton Manning who are the stars but a group known for its skills not on the playing field but in the courtroom: the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. In FantasySCOTUS, participants try to predict how the justices will vote in each of the cases that come before the high court during its term, which runs from October to late June or early July.

    Josh Blackman, a Houston law professor who started the online game more than four years ago, said the site is a fun way of understanding an institution that for many people remains mysterious and far removed from daily life.

    “People want to know what are they doing, and this is just one way of kind of peeling back the curtain,” said Blackman, who teaches at South Texas College of Law.

    FantasySCOTUS started “almost like a joke,” said the 29-year-old Blackman.

    The idea came in 2009 when he kidded with a friend about what the betting odds would be in Las Vegas over the then pending ruling from the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case, which lifted many restrictions on corporate spending in political elections.

    Blackman and another person built the site in a month and launched it in November 2009. Within 24 hours, 1,000 people had signed up. Today, the site has more than 20,000 participants.

    While most players tend to be lawyers or law students, the site also has political scientists and engineers as well as other professions.

    Blackman said the site’s best players are 75 to 80 percent accurate.

    A correct guess on a justice’s vote to either affirm or reverse a case earns 10 points. Correctly guessing how all nine justices vote earns a 100 point bonus. The high court votes on about 80 cases per year.

    The winner each season of FantasySCOTUS earns the title of “chief justice” and a golden gavel with their name inscribed on it. While there are no cash prizes, there are “lots of bragging rights,” Blackman said.

    Jacob Berlove, 30, of New York City, has been the holder of those bragging rights for three years running.

    What makes Berlove’s accomplishment more impressive is that he never went to law school. Berlove, who has also never played fantasy football, currently works in medical billing. But he has been interested in the high court since elementary school.

    “I’m certainly never going to sit on the Supreme Court. The best I can do is show that I perhaps understand the way the justices are operating,” he said.

    But Berlove isn’t playing this season, saying the lack of a cash prize has made it difficult to devote so much time to the game.

    Blackman said he is considering adding a cash prize next year.

    Kathleen Arberg, a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court, declined to comment about the fantasy league.

    Blackman said he has heard that the justices are aware of his website.

    FantasySCOTUS has also led to the creation of the Harlan Institute, a nonprofit Blackman started that’s established a version of site that is used as a teaching tool in high schools across the country.

    Anthony Sabino, a law professor at St. John’s University in New York City, said while the idea of the fantasy league might sound silly at first, he believes it can be a good way to educate the public about the high court. A 2012 survey by the FindLaw.com legal information website found that nearly two-thirds of Americans couldn’t name a single member of the Supreme Court.

    “It makes people aware of the court and when you become aware of the Supreme Court, you become aware of your rights as an American and that is very, very important and that is always to the good,” said Sabino, who teaches business and constitutional law.


    Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

  • Electric fish inspire agile robots
    Electric fish from South America are opening up new ideas in underwater robotics, inspiring vehicles that can swim through dark, cluttered environments.
  • Eavesdropping On Law Firm Shared With N.S.A.
    The list of those caught up in the global surveillance net cast by the National Security Agency and its overseas partners, from social media users to foreign heads of state, now includes another entry: American lawyers.
  • Hey Microsoft, Surface 2 is great, but clear up something please
    The Surface 2 and the Nokia tablets are great hardware with a dim future — but Microsoft could fix that.
  • Screen manufacturer Japan Display planning $4 billion IPO
    Japan Display, the company currently responsible for manufacturing some of the screens for Apple’s iPhone 5c and 5s, are readying an IPO offering to raise $4 billion in capital to expand production capacity and aid in development of future technologies. The company, formed of the display units from Hitachi, Sony and Toshiba and Japanese government backing, currently holds a 17 percent share of small and medium-sized displays in the world market.


  • Frank Gehry: What Is The Connection Between The Dancing Shiva And The Disney Hall?
    Frank Gehry is the acclaimed architect of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles — which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. This interview for The WorldPost is adapted from a conversation with The WorldPost editor Nathan Gardels from the current NPQ.

    “When I look outside the door what do I see? An airplane flying over, a car passing by. Everything is moving. That is our environment. Architecture should deal with that.”

    WORLDPOST: You once commented on your fascination with a dancing Shiva sculpture that belonged to the Norton Simon Museum. And you seem to have tried to capture this “frozen motion,” as you put it, in your buildings in Bilbao and at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles.

    Interestingly, your attempts to capture this “frozen motion” in architecture correspond to the scientific pursuits of Ilya Prigogine, the chaos theory physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1977.

    “If the clock was the symbol of classical science,” Prigogine has said, “sculpture is more the symbol for today. Sculpture is time put into matter. In some of the most beautiful manifestations of sculpture, be it the dancing Shiva or in the miniature temples of Guerrero, there appears very clearly the search for a junction between stillness and motion, time arrested and time passing. It is this confrontation — a hidden unity just like dark and light — that will give our era its uniqueness.” A sculpture like the dancing Shiva is the symbol of the new work being done in physics because it “embodies some elements that conform to given rules and other elements that arise unexpectedly through the process of creation.”

    Though your buildings look as if you’ve throw together disconnected fragments, isn’t there really a synthesis, a hidden unity as Prigogine suggests, in your designs?

    GEHRY: You are absolutely right. I am amazed to hear this quote from Prigogine. That too is what I am seeking, though guided by intuition and not so consciously by intellect. It is all about a sense of movement. When I look outside the door what do I see? An airplane flying over, a car passing by. Everything is moving. That is our environment. Architecture should deal with that.

    For example, the best way to look at the building I did in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany is to go across the road to the bar and just sit there and look out. Big trucks are whooshing by. When they come along the road, they fit into the form of building. The movement of the trucks doesn’t conflict with the motionless building, but integrates with it.

    I didn’t do this on purpose, but intuitively. Such a building strikes me as very much like the dancing Shiva. I used to sit there and just look at Norton Simon’s dancing Shiva. It was a remarkable sculpture. I swear it was moving. How did they do that?

    I had a similar feeling when I saw the Elgin Marbles. The shield of the warriors seemed to be thrusting out. You could just feel the movement. These observations affected my work very much. When I would go out to the suburbs and see these huge tracts of housing under development, I was fascinated. You would see row after row of wood frames going up with piles of wood stacked all around. It was really vibrant. It looked far better than when the houses were actually finished.

    the disney hall

    I used to fantasize: What would it look like if you just threw all those piles of wood into the air and just froze them there in mid-air? It would be magnificent. Indeed, the great organ in the new Disney Hall has some of that sense to it.

    disney hall organ

    WORLDPOST: In Los Angeles there is neither utopia nor ruins — the downtown has been completely eradicated four times in the last 100 years. Creating architecture here is like building in a “pure space.” This corresponds to something the poet Octavio Paz said — that we live in the permanently temporary present of “pure time” without a past, since all utopias have failed, and with an undetermined future.

    One might even say that your Disney Concert Hall is more a perfect symbol of Los Angeles than its sponsors imagined. Pure time meets pure space in the frozen motion of those metallic waves. That is our reality today.

    GEHRY: I suspect there is some truth here, that I have tapped into something that is going on, that my buildings represent a certain way of seeing. At a personal level, though, it is hard to claim such things.

    I’m not a theorist, but a vacuum cleaner. I listen. I look. And then I represent with my tools. As for the pure space of the present, there are a lot of constraints. Why do our leaders, and the public at large, want to live so much in the past? It seems the less faith they have in the future, the more they want to anchor their identity in the past. But the past is gone. It is a fiction of our insecurity. To anchor architecture in the past is to build nostalgic parks. It is to make ersatz out of heritage. And it is denial.

    Authentic Theme Parks

    WORLDPOST: Arata Isozaki, the Japanese architect who built Los Angele’s Museum of Contemporary Art, says he likes to build in America because there is no irony. Relative to old societies like Japan, there is no ancestral territory, and thus little if any distance between the context and whatever new it is you want to create. There is no conflict with history in America which, as (the French philosopher) Jean Baudrillard has put it, is essentially “space plus a spirit of fiction” — in other words, pure space.

    Isozaki contrasted this with his concert hall in Kyoto, where the traditionalists fought against his design as unfitting for Japan’s ancient spiritual center. Isozaki argued back that Kyoto was little more than a theme park where tourist buses unload groups of Japanese looking into a past that has no reality for them today.

    “They might as well be wearing Mickey Mouse ears,” Isozaki told the enraged traditionalists.” With the arrival of pure space, the authentic becomes inauthentic and vice versa.

    GEHRY: As far as it goes, I have to agree. At the same time, though, there is, of course, something that is different. Kyoto grew out of a refined culture over the centuries. It evolved a method of building and an aesthetic that meant something. It was fashioned in a crucible of time, feeling and culture that was related to a spiritual connection with nature. When I took my kids there, it became an important part of their experience.

    Disney World isn’t that. It is a ride. It is a fantasy. It is a built movie. Kyoto wasn’t. It may be abused as a theme park now as Isozaki says. But its origins are real. And it is valuable to see Kyoto just as it is valuable to see a Picasso.

    Asia and the Generic City

    WORLDPOST: Rem Koolhaas, the Dutch architect, has declared that the city as we have known it is gone. We have arrived in the age of “the generic city,” liberated from “the captivity of the center” — and the personality, identity and constraints associated with that. Connected in cyberspace, we will all live in the floating, unanchored periphery. Should we leave our vague regrets behind and just embrace this open future?

    GEHRY: That is freedom. I suppose it is the pure space you’ve been talking about. And Rem is probably right that this form will cover most of the planet.

    WORLDPOST What is your favorite city?

    “I see in Tokyo today what I see in my favorite writer, Salman Rushdie. He’s like James Joyce, his novels are episodic and open-ended — they go all over the place, in seven directions at once. The characters have layers of identity — plural identities .”

    GEHRY: Tokyo is my favorite city visually. It is partly the density that I like, but also the transitional quality. They have the history, but they didn’t stop because of it. On one street you will find a temple next to an eight-story building from the 1950s next to a 30-story building constructed in the 1970s. Then they plastered neon signs all over and stuck a roadway in the middle of it all going off into space. It is dynamic, like those erector sets we used to play with as kids. Along the freeways and down at the Tokyo Bay, they build these Godzilla-size convention centers. But they are tasteful, more invested with architecture than you might find in America. They are clearly plugged in to a style sense.

    Then they will build those wacko indoor ski resorts that look like the Eiffel Tower. It is weird, but beautiful. I see in Tokyo today what I see in my favorite writer, Salman Rushdie. He’s like James Joyce, his novels are episodic and open-ended — they go all over the place, in seven directions at once. The characters have layers of identity — plural identities.

    Now, when they go the next step — as they already are in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo — there are only 50-story buildings and it looks like 6th Avenue in New York. Then they lose it. When they get that big, they need more land. And that is when they overpower everything else.

    tokyo temple skyscrapers

    WORLDPOST: What is your image of the future city? For Koolhaas, the old cities of Asia will give way to the Generic City as they are obliterated with megastructures to accommodate the demographic deluge. That will happen either in an ordered way, as in Singapore, or in a more dystopian way, as in Blade Runner. Simply, as Koolhaas puts it, “the past is too small to inhabit.”

    GEHRY: I don’t know if we’re capable of speculating about the future. We know bits and pieces, but we can’t know what the aggregate is going to look like. I don’t have any hopes that it will be much to be excited about, though. Today, there are pockets of sanity that are of a scale where they are still visible in the chaos. In the future, the pockets of sanity will become tiny. Perhaps then the buildings I’m doing that look like they are moving will ultimately dematerialize into ether. The mega-scale will overpower all else. In rapidly growing Asia, they are interested in building, not architecture. I’ve been invited to China, but I’ve turned them down because I know the people building on large scale there are Donald Trumps. Chinese Donald Trumps. As a friend of mine says, it is already over in China for architecture.

    *This interview for The WorldPost is adapted from the current issue of NPQ.

  • First line-up for iPhone 6 begins in Japan
    A Japanese blogger decided to line up for the iPhone 6, after being spurned of his chance to be the first person in line for an iPhone 5. Apple fan and performance artist Yoppy donned his iPhone cosplay, and started queuing for the new phone outside of the flagship Apple store in Tokyo, Japan, likely to wait for months before an official announcement will be made about its release by the company.


  • Future Particle Colliders May Dwarf CERN's Enormous Large Hadron Collider

    LONDON — So, physicists have found the Higgs boson. What next?

    It took three years for the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), to spot the elusive Higgs boson particle, which is thought to explain how other particles get their mass.

    It took the international science lab CERN much longer, though, to build the machine beneath the mountains straddling France and Switzerland — nearly two decades, and at a cost of billions of dollars. There, protons are blasted through the 17-mile-long (27 kilometers) ring, where they crash into each other, and the resulting energy is converted to new and sometimes exotic particles.

    However, if scientists want to look for new physics discoveries beyond the Higgs boson, in the form of new exotic particles and interactions, even the Large Hadron Collider may not be enough, said Terry Wyatt, a physicist at the University of Manchester who works on the LHC’s ATLAS detector, one of seven particle-detector experiments conducted at CERN.

    Speaking at a conference on the Higgs boson here at the Royal Society in January, Wyatt outlined what kind of enormous science experiments would be needed to go beyond the science that the LHC may deliver.

    At first, and perhaps for the next decade, the LHC will have to perform at much higher energies to find new physics. In fact, once it’s restarted in 2015 after a technical upgrade, the collider will be capable of operating at a maximum collision energy of 14 tera-electronvolts (TeV). [Beyond Higgs: 5 Elusive Particles That May Lurk in the Universe]

    Future upgrades, probably sometimes around 2022, will involve the replacement of the collider’s current accelerator-ring magnets with much stronger ones, Wyatt said. This way, the LHC will become a more powerful accelerator in its own right, and it may even get a shiny new name: the High Luminosity LHC.

    That upgrade will not significantly increase the machine’s collision energy, although it will boost its luminosity by about 10 times — in other words, the number of proton-proton collisions it can achieve at a given time will grow tenfold, increasing the volume of data it produces by the same factor.

    lhc magnet
    A powerful new magnet will allow the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest atom smasher, to study two to three times more proton collisions. These collisions create myriad subatomic particles like the Higgs boson.

    If that’s still not enough to spot new particles and confirm any extensions of the Standard Model, or the reigning model explaining the behavior of subatomic particles, a bigger and more powerful replacement may eventually be inevitable, said Wyatt, the former leader of the DZero Experiment, which investigated the fundamental nature of matter at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s (Fermilab) Tevatron collider in Illinois.

    Circular or linear

    One idea is to switch to far higher collision energies than the LHC can produce — for example, with a 50-mile-long (80 km) accelerator ring that would be three times larger than the LHC. Just like its predecessor, it would be housed at CERN, and collide protons. The first geological feasibility studies are already being carried out.

    The larger ring and more powerful magnets would yield much higher collision energies of about 80 to 100 TeV, and possibly lead to many more massive new particles. However, said Wyatt, high-energy field magnets for this possible LHC successor would be a big technical challenge, because magnets of the kind used to build the LHC are not able to reach the required field strengths. [Photos: The World’s Largest Atom Smasher (LHC)]

    “The tunnel to house such a machine might possibly be completed by around 2040,” he added. “In addition, such a tunnel could also house an accelerator to collide electrons and positrons at a much lower energy, but nevertheless sufficient to produce and study Higgs bosons.”

    Another suggestion for a next high-energy particle collider is to build a linear machine, provisionally titled the International Linear Collider (ILC). It is not yet clear where it would be housed, but some researchers in Japan have proposed to build it there.

    Instead of moving particles in a circle, the machine would be a straight accelerator some 19 miles (31 km) long. It would no longer be colliding protons but instead lighter-mass particles — electrons and their antimatter partners called positrons — sent from either end of the tunnel.

    It is tricky to accelerate such light particles in a ring collider, because each time they make a loop, they radiate energy, which means the electron doing the rounds would quickly lose most of its energy.

    To smash electrons at very high energy, a linear collider makes more sense. It would be a straight pipe with a particle accelerator at either end, through which electrons and positrons would be sent to smash and annihilate each other. (When matter and antimatter collide, they annihilate each other.)

    The machine would accelerate the particles to much higher energies of up to 1000 giga-electronvolts. If approved, it might deliver beams sometime in the 2030s, Wyatt said.

    However, a linear collider would produce fewer collisions than a circular one. “This is because the beams of particles pass through one another only once and then are lost, whereas in a circular collider, they pass by one another thousands of times a second,” Wyatt said.

    Even higher-energy linear electron-positron colliders might be achievable if a novel acceleration technique being developed at CERN can be shown to work. This technique uses a very intense but low-energy beam to produce the power to accelerate a low-intensity but very-high-energy second beam.

    Muons, not protons

    Finally, scientists are looking into a possibility of a ring that would smash muons — the heavy cousins of electrons — together. It could potentially be housed at Fermilab, Wyatt said, but it probably wouldn’t be built anytime soon — maybe sometime between 2040 and 2050. [Images: Inside the World’s Top Physics Labs]

    Muons have masses between those of protons and electrons — they’re much heavier than electrons, so they don’t radiate all their energy away as they zip around a circular collider, but they’re not quite as heavy as protons. Protons are made of other particles, and when they collide, some of their energy washes away, as the proton breaks up into more elementary particles.

    The collider would only accelerate muons at around 3 to 6 TeV, according to Wyatt.However, muons are elementary particles; colliding them would mean pretty much all of their energy would go toward creating new particles. This would make the data of a muon collider rival with those of a much-higher-energy proton accelerator — at least for some physics studies and searches for new particles. However, muons are also very unstable; they decay almost immediately when produced in the lab.

    Such technical difficulties must be overcome before it makes sense to build a muon collider.

    Starting now

    There is a reason for all the speculation about more powerful colliders. If scientists want to use a next-generation machine from the moment the LHC is no longer able to meet their needs, then the research and development need to happen how.

    Any decision to start construction of such a machine would have to be made by the end of this decade, as it might take a decade or two to build the structure, Wyatt said.

    The scientists won’t know whether their research into the next generation of particle colliders will ever be used.

    “We have the LHC now because of the foresight and efforts of the leaders of the field in the 1980s, and it’s our responsibility to start planning for a healthy future for elementary-particle physics in decades to come,” Wyatt said.

    Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science. Follow the author on Twitter @SciTech_Cat

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

Mobile Technology News, February 15, 2014

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

  • Mars 'Doughnut' Rock Mystery Solved By NASA's 'Opportunity' Rover Team
    Remember that jelly doughnut-shaped rock that mysteriously “appeared” in front of the Mars Opportunity rover? It’s no longer a mystery.

    Researchers responsible for operating the rover figured out that the Mars “doughnut” rock was flicked into view by the rover itself.

    (Story continues below.)
    mystery mars rock

    In a statement released by the Planetary Science Institute, the team explained that they confirmed the cause by using image analysis to narrow down the time frame between when the rock was nowhere to be seen and when it was first spotted. Instead of the 12-day interval that was reported, researchers determined that the rock — dubbed “Pinnacle Island” — came into view between sol 3536 and 3540. (A sol is a Martian day.)

    From there, they were able to retrace the rover’s movements to determine the origin of the rock in panoramic images.

    “Once we moved Opportunity a short distance away after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” Opportunity deputy principal investigator Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis said in the statement. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came from.”


    NASA Mars Exploration Rover lead scientist Steve Squyres was the first to announce the discovery of the mysterious rock at an event in mid-January.

    “It was a total surprise, we were like ‘wait a second, that wasn’t there before, it can’t be right. Oh my god! It wasn’t there before!’ We were absolutely startled,” he told Discovery News at the time.

    While rover researchers worked to solve the riddle behind the Mars rock, some questioned whether NASA was sharing all the information — or even failing to investigate alien life. One astrobiologist sued NASA to compel the space agency to take a closer look at the object, which he called a “mushroom-like fungus.”

  • GPS: From launch to everyday life
    How are people using the system, 25 years on?
  • How Innovation Ecosystems Can Help Fix Healthcare
    Healthcare is in a crazy state of flux right now. Collaboration is still a foreign concept to those working in and around the establishment of hospitals, government, insurance and adjacent industries. Collaboration, however, is a keystone in building highly coherent innovation ecosystems.

    As you probably know, health policies directly impact social conditions, both in the US and globally. Ineffective health policies can lead to poor health, which then leads to poor social conditions and ultimately worsening health for the population at large. This cyclical relationship can be seen all over the world.

    Here in the U.S., ever changing mandates in reform, confusion with the public on insurance coverage, a shrinking primary care physician issue, and increasing costs around chronic diseases has many healthcare executives up all night trying to preserve their piece of the pie.

    From an innovation perspective, this chaos is a dream! The perfect storm! A serendipitous blending of the crumbling of old business models combined with simple economic models of supply and demand! What a wonderful opportunity to create new ideas to change the way people consume healthcare in the future and to collaborate to make it happen!

    Technology, especially mobile, will allow people from anywhere in the world to access care, one of the leading determinates in global population health.

    The social impact of health will not be determined exclusively through technology, but also in collaboration around how to make knowledge and action steps easy to access in and around health. Technology has enabled, at internet speed and scale, the ability for an individual to seek and share advice about their health, and the health of loved ones. Helping with health advice is engrained in all cultures and a consumer’s home computer, cell phone and wearable computers will be important data collection tools which can then communicate with clinicians or perhaps an online analytics engine in your own home.

    Consumers are expected to seek out answers independently. Whether being a suburban mom in the states, or a mom in a herding village in Asia–each wants to manage their child’s flu symptoms. Everyone, regardless of culture, age, is looking for simplicity and answers to their problems, immediately, whether it is from a health expert or peer-to-peer network.

    Healthcare might be in a crazy place right now, but it is certain to change into something different than we have today. The Global Innovation Summit, hosted next week in San Jose, will offer the opportunity to engage global innovators on how to build new businesses in this emerging consumer health market. This conference teaches what every health stakeholder needs to know — how to build a solid foundation for collaboration and innovation, especially where trust might be in short supply.

    Innovators, and their wonderful wacky ways of collaborating and re-envisioning the world, offer great hope in forming the ecosystem to transform the way people consume healthcare.

    This post is part of a series produced in partnership by the Global Innovation Summit and The Huffington Post around impact, innovation, and technology. For more information on the Summit, click here.

  • What NASA Is For: Straight From the Panda's Mouth
    A furious panda is a thing to behold.

    Ordinarily, a panda seems to be superlatively peaceful, diffidently munching bamboo. But when it gets angry, it betrays its true nature — it’s fundamentally a carnivore trying to play itself off as a herbivore. And failing.

    Last week, in Slate, I argued that NASA, like a panda, is maladapted and flirting with extinction as a result. (Panda bashing happens to be a proud Slate tradition.) The argument triggered outrage. Within hours, fueled by social media, the defense of NASA echoed around the nation, even reaching the White House. It was the anger of a panda — and contrary to what NASA aficionados believe, their response confirms just how screwed-up the agency really is.

    The fundamental problem isn’t terribly hard to understand. The lion’s share of NASA’s budget — and reputation — is for launching people into space. This was sustainable when we were in a no-holds-barred race with the Soviets, but the moment Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the Moon, that race was over. Any human spaceflight beyond that (including the remaining Apollo missions, which started being scuttled one by one less than a year after the Eagle touched down) is anticlimax. So it will remain until a manned Mars mission becomes technologically and budgetarily feasible.

    This left NASA with a dilemma. What NASA does really well — remote missions — at best attract some passing attention from the public (and from Congress) and quickly fade from public consciousness, even though they’ve resulted in fundamental advances in planetary science, astronomy, cosmology, physics, and Earth science. NASA’s glory and continued success, on the other hand, comes almost entirely from the hurling-people-in-tin-cans-into-the-void trick, which hasn’t had any real purpose since the early 1970s.

    In other words, there’s a gap between perception and reality, between what NASA does that’s really worthwhile and what NASA perceives it must do to maintain its reputation and its budget. The last four decades of NASA’s history are an attempt to bridge that gap with sleight of hand, to draw our attention away from that internal contradiction.

    It does so by pretending that its astronauts are doing crucial scientific experiments while puttering around in low-Earth orbit. Despite NASA’s incessant cooing over its “world-class” scientific work in space, the research on board the shuttle and the International Space Station has almost uniformly been of minimal importance. Science-wise, human spaceflight compares incredibly unfavorably on a dollar-for-dollar basis with even a fiscally bloated and physically crippled unmanned craft. Even a single lean, mean, successful project like Mars Pathfinder, which cost about $200 million (maybe $300 to $350 million in today’s dollars), arguably yielded more for science than the entire multi-hundred-billion-dollar post-Apollo human spaceflight program. (Making matters worse, astronaut-run research has not just come at extraordinary fiscal expense but at grave human expense as well. As I point out in the Slate article, NASA has killed roughly 4 percent of the people it has sent into space — yes, killed, through negligence and mismanagement.)

    NASA also has had a few embarrassing episodes where it hyped bad terrestrial science as, well, ham-handed attempts to fill the gap by inflating the importance of a new field: astrobiology. (The term “astrobiology” is telling. “Astro” and “biology” are, at the moment, mutually exclusive; where you have one, you simply don’t have the other. Hopefully, that will someday change and give the field a reason for its name.)

    This sleight of hand is the core of the problem. Hype doesn’t fill the gap between perception and reality, though, and the mismatch is growing bigger each year as remote technology improves, and as budgets tighten. Unless the agency can either find a human spaceflight mission that’s worth the effort, expense, and danger or, better yet, realign its priorities so that it no longer has to dissemble about the value of more than half of the work that it does, then NASA is in danger. In short, NASA must figure out what it’s really for.

    This argument paints an unflattering picture of NASA, to be sure, and the reaction from NASA fans was as quick and fierce as a mother panda defending her cubs. Within a few hours, a NASA love-fest developed on Twitter, using the hashtag #WhatisNASAfor, to try to answer the question — or at least prove that it’s silly and presumptuous to ask it. Space fans, both civilian and insiders, joined in, and soon so did the government, including NASA itself.

    So what does NASA think it’s for? In 140 characters, how does America’s space agency justify its existence? Here it is, straight from the panda’s mouth:

    #WhatIsNASAFor? Space technologies help you in more ways than you may know. Track space back to you: http://t.co/AHcB6UngRt

    — NASA (@NASA) February 7, 2014

    Spinoffs. Yes, really.

    Any time you give a group of smart people lots of money to work together on technological problems, you’re going to get unexpected discoveries and side benefits. Whether you’re working on military systems, high-energy physics, digital imaging, or any other big high-tech problems, there will be spinoffs. But in all the world, it seems that only NASA thinks that spinoffs are a raison d’être rather than a natural consequence of doing something else well. Spinoffs (and new technology), especially medical spinoffs, figure prominently in the #WhatisNASAfor thread. Of course, if developing new medical technology is what NASA is for, that’s a valid argument, but we should probably incorporate the agency into the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Perhaps someone even higher up in government had a better idea. Luckily, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy joined in too:

    Part of #WhatIsNASAFor: The President visited a class that had “a lesson plan…around the Curiosity rover on Mars.” http://t.co/5Hb1lkTgCg

    — The White House OSTP (@whitehouseostp) February 7, 2014

    It’s a nice story, and the general theme of inspiring students and creating future STEM majors was also a salient theme in the #WhatisNASAfor thread. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that in no way do the educational benefits justify the $2.5-billion expense of the Curiosity mission. Don’t misunderstand: Curiosity was well worth the money, not because it makes a great story for kids but because it’s producing interesting planetary science. The educational value is a side benefit. In other words, NASA’s educational value is fundamentally another kind of spinoff that follows directly from doing interesting things in space. And the vast majority of interesting things in space are done by robots, not humans. The infinite variations of water floating in space are cute, but it’s a Mars panorama or a view of Saturn or even of the Sun that will trigger real awe — and inspiration.

    A few other NASA-related entities also chimed in; NASA’s Launch Services Program at Cape Kennedy tweeted about “launching across our solar system,” while NASA’s Stennis Space Center used the opportunity to plug NASA’s PR effort.

    Largely missing was NASA’s elephant in the room: its $100 to $200 billion-plus flagship, the International Space Station. As far as I can tell, there were only two governmental or official contributions that even mentioned the ISS. The first was CASIS, the organization that manages the International Space Station’s laboratory facilities. It came out swinging, offering perhaps the only official tweet that attempted directly to refute the argument made in Slate.

    The ISS: An amazing field lab producing good science & just beginning to show its long-term value #WhatIsNASAFor http://t.co/F2wfHH8pqw

    — ISS National Lab (@ISS_CASIS) February 8, 2014

    The other was ISS Research, NASA’s mouthpiece for scientific research aboard the station. How is it contributing to NASA’s purpose?

    #WhatIsNASAFor @ISS_Research Benefits for Humanity video feature and article: http://t.co/Jbutzc65R1 #CleanWater #MedicalTech #Crops #Earth

    — ISS Research (@ISS_Research) February 7, 2014

    Spinoffs. Sigh.

    The civilian contributions to #WhatisNASAfor tended to hit on similar themes. (The word cloud below represents relative frequencies of certain words in the part of the thread I captured, after meaningless phrases had been removed.)


    Inspiration, education, tech spinoffs, and the sheer coolness of some of NASA’s missions? Wonderful, but not ends in themselves. The need to escape the confines of the Earth, and the manifest destiny of colonizing space? After Apollo, this became unattainable in any meaningful way for quite a while to come.

    What’s left is science — and science is where NASA’s greatest achievements lie. NASA spacecraft are helping us answer some of the biggest questions in the universe. (Heck, I wrote an entire book describing a revolution in cosmology sparked, in part, by NASA programs like Hubble, WMAP, and COBE.) But that drive is fundamentally incompatible with the agency’s perceived need to hype bad science and trying to convince the world that its astronautic boondoggles are producing world-class scientific achievements.

    That’s NASA’s dilemma in a nutshell: despite all the agency has done, despite all it has to offer, so long as human spaceflight is at the core of NASA’s existence, it will never evolve beyond a faint echo of its prior self.

  • Facebook Provides Opportunity for Lesson in Gender Identity
    A few months ago I was filling out an online customer survey. Under “gender,” in addition to “male” and “female,” there was a third option: “other.” I thought that was impressive. Then Facebook came along and added 50. Bravo, Facebook, bravo.

    This is huge progress for transgender rights, but it also seems to be a source of confusion for the masses. In the short time since Facebook’s announcement, I’ve had quite a few people say to me, “Jeez, how many types of transgenders are there?” and, “What the hell does ‘cisgender’ mean?”

    While I did transition from female to male, I am by no means an expert on all things transgender.* That said, I thought I’d try to help by clearing up the meanings of some of the terms that, thanks to Facebook, have now gone mainstream.

    “Gender identity” is the internal sense of one’s gender, regardless of anatomy. For most people, their gender identity matches up with the anatomy they’re born with.

    “Transgender” is an umbrella term used to encompass people with various gender identities that do not match what they were labeled with at birth. Those who transition from male to female (“MTF”) or female to male (“FTM”) are included under this umbrella.

    “Cisgender” is a word that describes everyone who is not transgender — that is, people whose gender identity matches up with the sex they were labeled with at birth.

    The “gender binary” is a conception of gender in which there are only two genders that someone could be: male or female.

    People who identify as “genderqueer” reject the gender binary. They might express their identity as being neither female nor male, or as genderfluid, a mix of the two.

    Now, just because all these options are available on Facebook’s drop-down menu doesn’t mean every transgender person is going to change the gender identity listed on their profile page. I know I won’t, because although I did transition from female to male, I don’t identify as transgender — well, not anymore. I did during my transition stage. I remember sitting in my endocrinologist’s office, filling out the paperwork before my first testosterone injection. I stared at the two boxes marked “male” and “female,” not sure which one I was technically supposed to check at this stage in the game. Had there been a box labeled “transgender” or “FTM,” I probably wouldn’t have hesitated. Instead, I looked up at my doctor.

    “Should I put down ‘male’?”

    He smiled. “Isn’t that why we’re here?” he asked.

    Now I don’t even flinch. I consider myself male. That’s it. I’m the man I always knew myself to be. But I certainly don’t speak for everyone. There are lots of people out there who identify as “trans man” or “FTM,” and that’s cool too. To each his (or her, or their) own!

    *For a more thorough understanding of all things transgender, I highly recommend picking up the book Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue by Nicholas Teich.

  • Tesla Model S Reportedly Catches Fire In Toronto
    The Tesla Model S is safe. So safe, that it achieved a record score on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 5-Star Safety Rating. Still, though, the Model S isn’t fireproof.

    Business Insider reports that a Tesla Model S suddenly burst into flames in a Toronto garage earlier this month. A source told the site that the car was not plugged into its charger when it caught fire.

    In a statement to Bloomberg, Tesla wrote that it is still investigating the Toronto case:

    [W]e don’t yet know the precise cause [of the fire], but have definitively determined that it did not originate in the battery, the charging system, the adapter or the electrical receptacle, as these components were untouched by the fire.

    The Model S has been in the crosshairs for fire risks in the past. After a November garage fire occurred while a Model S was charging, the company sent owners new charging adapters and implemented a software upgrade to prevent overheating.

    According to the National Fire Protection Agency, there were 172,500 car fires in 2012. Tesla claimed in a November blog post that owners of gasoline vehicles were 4.5 times more likely to experience a fire than a Model S owner.

  • Denied, Deferred, Demented
    I grew up twinned with the space age, entering elementary school just before Sputnik 1 launched and finishing high school as astronauts first walked on the moon.

    Then, in 1972, the year I graduated from college, the space age abandoned me. NASA budgets dried up, human space exploration beyond Earth orbit became null and void, and my number-one career choice paled into a remote fantasy that now seemed hollow and uninviting.

    Not that I’d prepared myself for a career in space. I grew up pre-STEM, when girls my age were routinely denied access to advanced courses in science and tech. I didn’t have the right temperament, my high-school guidance counselor told me when I tried to sign up for trig. Instead he enrolled me in art. Never again did I venture outside the safe orbit of arts/humanities that had so clearly been defined for me.

    But there remained a need to prove myself in some other medium besides that amorphous array of oils, pastels, charcoal and papier-mâché sculpture our pert art teacher insisted we engage with — when she wasn’t busy flirting with the crew-cut chemistry teacher across the hall.

    It’s been 41 years since humans last left Earth orbit. Some would say we’ve been going nowhere ever since. Others maintain that the ISS circling overhead has served its purpose as a working space laboratory by providing valuable fact-finding for future long-term missions to other worlds. Both are true, but even a dramatic space walk in orbit does not pack the same punch as would venturing untethered into untested territory.

    During this extended space-age lull, I entered adulthood, earned a doctorate, pursued multiple careers, married more than once, raised a son, wrote books, made movies, and learned HTML. I’ve been through seven cars, 11 computers, and several hundred houseplants. Then, just as 2013 was ending, I received this email:

    You and only 1057 other aspiring astronauts around the globe have been pre-selected as potential candidates to launch the dawn of a new era — human life on Mars. Congratulations. You have made it to the next round.

    I’d been shortlisted for Mars One.

    Of the 534 humans who have flown in space, 57 have been women. Of the 23 who have left Earth’s orbit and the 12 who have stepped onto another world, none have been women. But our last extraplanetary mission was four decades ago, and during the long hiatus we entered a new stage of space democratization, one that insures a more equitable selection process for future space explorers. In 2013 NASA, for the first time, chose an equal number of women and men as new astronauts. China’s new space program has already established a gender-equal norm, including women on all missions to date, and Russia, after a 13-year drought with no women in space, plans to send a female cosmonaut to the ISS in September 2014. Mars One invited anyone in the world 18 or older to apply for a one-way trip to Mars; more than 202,000 submitted video applications.

    The 472 women, including me, who have advanced to what Mars One calls Round Two have a reasonable expectation of being among the first to colonize Mars. It’s even conceivable that I could be the one to take the sure-to-become-iconic first footstep onto the surface of the red planet.

    What took us so long? Why couldn’t this have happened when I was younger, less entwined with a life I’ve spent decades getting just right? I have tenure. I have cats. I’ll be 75 when the Mars One spaceship launches. If the rumored reality-show coverage results, will anyone want to watch an old lady making her dogged way to Mars?

    On the other hand, if manned — and womanned — Mars missions had come along sooner, no one would have given me a chance to participate. I didn’t have anyone’s version of the right stuff then. I’m not so sure I can get any of it now.

    Mars One has renewed my belief that a dream deferred is not necessarily a dream denied. But at my age I have to ask: Is my dream by now demented?

  • Review: Nokia Lumia Icon For Verizon Wireless With 4G LTE
    Nokia Lumia ICON Verizon Wireless

    Nokia is upping the ante in a big way with its newest Windows Phone, the Lumia Icon. This smartphone is only available on Verizon Wireless for $199.99 with a two-year agreement. It promises to grow even more interest in the Lumia Windows Phone line for Big Red customers.


    The Nokia Lumia Icon smartphone is a dazzling blend of curved Gorilla Glass and top-tier internals that meet or beat everything that’s on the market today. That may seem to be quite a statement, but it’s one I’m happy to make.

    They have clearly done their homework with what people like and have come very close to producing a smartphone that any one of us would want. My review phone came in matte black with a brushed metal frame and a sealed polycarbonate back. It has a natural feeling curve on the back that fits well with its metallic frame. The phone measures in at 5.39H x 2.79W x .39D inches and 5.86 ounces.

    Nokia Lumia ICON Side View

    This leads up to the brilliant five-inch OLED full HD 1080p display topped with extremely tough Gorilla Glass 3. The full HD screen is nice, but its 441 pixels per inch passes up what the Retina display found on the iPhone 5s can muster at 326 ppi. And unlike other mobile operating systems, the version that this Nokia Icon has allows you to fine-tune saturation and color temperature.

    Looking and feeling great are only two aspects of what the Icon has to offer. It’s quite fast with the 2.26GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 CPU, 2GB of RAM and 4G LTE. This Nokia supports VZW’s LTE at 700/1700MHz, UMTS 850/900, and is Global Ready with GSM 850/900/1800/1900MHz and 3G EVDO Rev. A 850/1900MHz. I tested it in Las Vegas about 15 minutes away from the strip in a semi-rural area inside of a building. I received several speed test results of 27Mbps+ down and 13Mbps up. Rounding out the wireless features of the Lumia Icon are GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and dual-band 802.11 WiFi b, g, n and ac. A 2420 mAh battery kept it going all day even after running various speed and WiFi transfer tests. Calls were even clear when making them in a crowded room.

    A smartphone that comes with 32GB of storage space is needed when taking photos with the Lumia Icon’s 20MP sensor. This camera sensor is the same as what’s found in the Lumia 1520, including the multi-element Zeiss optic, but adds the capability to capture photos in DNG Raw format.

    Overall design details of the Nokia Icon impressed me. For instance, the SIM card tray is removable with a fingernail. A few physical buttons run along the right side for volume, power and camera functionality. The camera shutter button has two levels to it, one to focus and one to take the shot. And last but not least, this Windows Phone has wireless charging. Wireless charging makes sense in 2014 and it’s something that every phone vendor should be including.

    Nokia Lumia Icon Unboxing Video By Chris Rauschnot @24k on Twitter

    Nokia is on a roll, as of late, with better smartphones at each turn. It shows that their product designers get what people want in a phone. Those features are large bright screens, 20MP or more cameras that produce crisp photos, brushed metal touches and polycarbonate cases to reduce weight.


    The Nokia Lumia Icon is currently available for $199 with a two-year contract on Verizon Wireless. Now is the perfect time for Nokia to have released their newest smartphone. Friends that have Verizon Wireless have mentioned that they can’t wait to get their hands on one. Its form factor, high quality construction, great camera and amazing OLED screen have me excited for this phone.

    Rating: 4.5/5


    • More comfortable smartphone to hold in one hand than the Lumia 1520.
    • Quad-core CPU and quad noise-canceling microphones.
    • Bright and clear screen that works well even in direct sun light.
    • Free cloud storage and backup service from Microsoft.


    • A full metal enclosure would have been great, but the polycarbonate back makes sense to reduce weight and increase signal.
    • Somewhat slow auto focus even with the updated Nokia Camera app.
    • No memory slot for expansion.

    Disclosure: I received a Nokia Lumia Icon at no cost for review. I did not receive compensation for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  • Beth Whaanga's Powerful Breast Cancer Portraits Lost Her 100 Friends, But Could Save Many More Lives
    Beth Whaanga posted images of herself after breast cancer surgery on Facebook, hoping to share her story and urge others to take preventative measures.

    What she didn’t expect was the vitriolic responses from some of her Facebook “friends” — and the subsequent outpourings of support she received when the photographs went viral.

    (Some images below are NSFW and may be considered graphic.)

    Whaanga, a nurse and married mother-of-four from Brisbane, Australia, was diagnosed with breast cancer on her 32nd birthday. After finding out that she carried the BRCA2 gene, a genetic mutation that put her at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer, Whaanga underwent a double mastectomy last November, as well as a hysterectomy, lymphadenectomy and melanoma lumpectomies. Instead of hiding her scars, she chose to speak out in order to help others affected by cancer.

    “Your scars are a physical or emotional representation of a trial you’ve been through,” Whaanga told The Huffington Post in an email. “They show that you came through the trial and survived.”

    She teamed up with friend and photographer Nadia Masot to photograph her post-surgery body in a series of portraits called “Under The Red Dress.”

    “I really felt during the shoot I wanted to portray [Whaanga’s] strength and resilience, but also have her vulnerability and pain come across,” Masot told The Huffington Post in an email. “She was unafraid of me pointing the camera at her exposed body, scarred as it is. She was confident in sharing it with me, and I think that came across.”

    beth whaanga

    Introducing the photographs on her Facebook page, Whaanga wrote:

    WARNING: these images are confronting and contain topless material. They are not in anyway meant to be sexual. The aim of this project is to raise awareness for breast cancer. If you find these images offensive please hide them from your feed. Each day we walk past people. These individuals appear normal but under their clothing sometimes their bodies tell a different story. Nadia Masot and I aim to find others who are willing to participate in our project so that we might show others that cancer effects everyone. The old and the young, age does not matter, self examination is vital. It can happen to you.

    beth whaanga

    Despite Whaanga’s explanation, some people took issue with the images. Hours after the photographs had been posted, over 100 people had de-friended Whaanga on Facebook, and several reported the album to Facebook for violation of the site’s photo policy. (Facebook has contacted Whaanga to inform her that they will not be removing the images.)

    beth whaanga

    “The feedback that I’ve received was that people felt that the medium was not appropriate for these images,” Whaanga told HuffPost. “They were also concerned about the graphic and confronting content of the images.”

    These objections, however, seem almost petty in light of the project’s goal: raising awareness about cancer and encouraging people to make their health a priority.

    “These photos remind the viewer to be vigilant about checking their bodies and to be more aware that this could and and possibly will happen to you,” Whaanga told HuffPost.

    beth whaanga

    “If the ‘Under The Red Dress’ project helps one man, woman or family deal with their battle with cancer, or helps one person in their preventative journey, than I’m very happy,” Whaanga told HuffPost.

    Learn more about the Under The Red Dress Project here.

  • Toyota Doesn't Want You To Plug In Its Electric Cars
    Interested in an electric or plug-in hybrid car but not so keen on having to make the schlep to actually plug in the car every time it needs a charge?

    Then Toyota’s wireless charging system will probably interest you.

    So how does it work? Basically, the system transmits electricity between a coil on the ground and a coil in the car, the automaker explained in a press release. This allows the vehicle to charge without the need for a cord. Since vehicle position relative to the coil on the ground is important, the system enables a car to automatically park itself so that it can get the best charge.

    Toyota is testing the technology on its Prius Plug-In hybrid-electric vehicle. Three lucky homeowners will get to test the technology for a year so that the company can gather information to better future wireless charging applications, the company said.

    As Automobile Magazine notes, this isn’t the first time the industry is seeing wireless charging technology for electric vehicles. The publication points out “Volvo, Nissan and automotive supplier Delphi are also testing similar systems for electric vehicles.”

    Regardless of which manufacturer comes out with the technology first, it seems that we, the lazy consumers, come out the big winners.

    Check out Toyota’s video (above) to see how the wireless technology works.

  • How to Increase the Number of Women in Tech
    Tech-industry executives say they have an extremely difficult time finding technical talent and that this shortage hurts their company’s performance. They claim to look far and wide, including abroad, yet they overlook the lowest-hanging fruit: women and minorities. The percentage of women in engineering jobs is so embarrassingly low — in the single digits or low teens — that many tech companies refuse to release diversity data. Their excuse is that the pipeline of women studying engineering is shrinking.

    This is a self-perpetuating cycle. Because there are few women in engineering, girls don’t perceive computing to be a friendly profession, so fewer are entering the field. In 1985, 37 percent of Computer and Information Science undergraduate degree recipients were women. By 2011 this proportion had dropped to 18 percent.

    The technology industry is excluding a significant proportion of our population from the growing technology economy and things are only getting worse.

    This problem can be fixed, but we need to start by acknowledging that the fault is with the employer rather than with women. Employers usually have good intentions and do not deliberately discriminate against women and minorities, but there is a hidden bias that needs to be understood and overcome. The diversity data that corporate executives usually look at are at the company level rather than at the departmental level and include lower-level administrative/support roles. If these data were analyzed at the departmental level, particularly in technology, executives would be shocked at what they saw. They would realize that the deck is stacked against women at every stage of the game.

    I talked with some of leading experts on diversity for a book I’m writing about women in innovation. Here are some of their recommendations for understanding the problem and finding solutions:

    Look at how jobs are defined. Lucy Sanders, CEO of The National Center for Women & Information Technology, says that companies need to pay attention to what types of technical jobs are given to women. Are they the low-status technical jobs? Are they high-prestige jobs such as architect and lead designer? How are the jobs defined? Are they written in such a way as to solicit response from males? For example, job descriptions that are overloaded with long lists of required skills (which may or may not be needed on day one, and could be learned on the job) may cause women to not apply if they don’t have each and every skill; men on the other hand will tend to apply if they have only a subset of the skills, Sanders says.

    Broaden the talent pool by looking beyond the usual recruitment grounds. Companies need to build ties to universities where there are high proportions of women and minorities, and to recruit at conferences such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and Women 2.0.

    Interview at least one woman and one member of a minority for every open position. Freada Kapor Klein, founder of the Level Playing Field Institute, says companies should implement a rule such as the Rooney Rule for National Football League teams. This requires all teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior football operation jobs. The key is to make sure that every hiring pool is diverse with respect to gender and race.

    Have at least one woman on the hiring team. Telle Whitney, CEO of the Anita Borg Institute, cites academic research that shows that people tend to hire those who are similar to them. She says that the demographics of the hiring team greatly influence the outcome of hiring. It also makes a difference in offer acceptance. A female candidate will recognize that the business values diversity if the interviewers are men and women, and she is more likely to join the company if offered a job, Whitney says.

    In hiring decisions, the focus should always be on competencies rather than on credentials. Klein says that degrees from a prestigious school usually weigh heavily over the ability to write code or solve problems. Candidate-screening criteria such as unpaid internships, summer international experiences, and gap years also create an unfair advantage because these are signs of a wealthy background and not earned meritocratic achievements. She says that companies should focus on “distance traveled” — such as the demonstrated ability of people who grew up in modest circumstances to overcome adversity, or to be the first in their families to go to college.

    Once we increase the proportion of women in technical roles, the challenge is to retain them and ease the transition to senior positions. In the next installment, I will detail what the experts say on retainment.

    Vivek Wadhwa is Vice President of Research and Innovation at Singularity University. This article first appeared in the Wall Street Journal, where he is a contributor. Wadhwa’s work has also appeared in the Washington Post, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, LinkedIn Influencers blog and other places. Visit his website: wadhwa.com.

  • Court dismisses suit claiming iPhone 4S ads misrepresented Siri
    A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of California, Claudia Wilken, has dismissed a lawsuit claiming that Apple ads for the iPhone 4S were deceptive about the capabilities of Siri. In her ruling Wilken writes that the plaintiffs’ claims depended on “non-actionable puffery,” and failed to show evidence of fraud. A “reasonable consumer,” she says, would not expect Siri to work perfectly all the time; the plaintiffs charged that Apple gave the impression Siri could handle any request instantly.


  • Instagram Says No To Lovematically, A Web Service That Automatically 'Likes' All Posts
    Everyone wants to feel loved. A new web app aims to help you share the love (and receive some in return) by automatically liking every post on your Instagram. But Instagram doesn’t seem happy about this.

    Developer Rameet Chawla created the web-only Lovematically app to automate the process of satiating friends’ desires for digital affection. On Valentines Day, he opened the service up to the first 5,000 users who wished to sign up. Instagram was quick to begin blocking the app.

    A note on the Lovematically’s website informs users that Instagram is blocking the app for some. .

    Ryan Matzner, the director of Chawla’s development company, had this to say about Instagram’s attempts to shut down Lovematically:

    The service is running for the vast majority of users who’ve already signed up. I can’t get into specifics, but we architected the tool to be robust and we don’t believe it can be shutdown en mass, at least not without significant effort on Instagram’s end. Instagram appears to have made a dent in shutting us down, but they still have a long way to go. And there are numerous countermeasures we are employing. It’s a bit cat-and-mouse right now.

    On Lovematically’s website, Chawla explains his motivation for creating the app. He also describes the satisfaction of getting likes: “It’s our generation’s crack cocaine. People are addicted. We experience withdrawals. We are so driven by this drug, getting just one hit elicits truly peculiar reactions. … They’ve inconspicuously emerged as the first digital drug to dominate our culture.”

    Researchers have found that human beings have a natural tendency toward reciprocation. Lovematically aims to tap directly into that tendency and game Instagram’s system to help grow users’ social media presence. (The more likes you give out, the more you’re likely to receive in return.) Whether those likes are genuine or not seems to be irrelevant.

    Chawla says he gained 30 new followers per day during the three months after he built the app and started using it. “I’ve also noticed the reciprocal love coming in,” he adds on the app’s site. “Pre-Lovematically, my posts would average 35 likes. Now, I routinely hit the triple-digits for likes.”

    But will users care if their followers find out about all this automatic liking? Chawla claims that the possibility doesn’t seem to phase Lovematically users or their friends.

    “The primary caveat is the disappointment people feel when the automation is revealed,” he writes. “But, funnily enough, after a quick phase of disillusionment, that their adulation was automated, people quickly demand access to this magical tool.”

    Instagram did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

  • Chinese Singles' Valentine's Day Prank Will Warm Your Cold, Dead Heart
    There’s being bitter on Valentine’s Day, and then there’s this.

    In what can only be considered a master class in trolling, a group of singles in Shanghai banded together and bought every odd-numbered seat for a Valentine’s Day screening of a rom-com so that couples couldn’t sit together, the Telegraph reports.

    “Want to see a movie on Valentine’s Day?” the organizer of the prank, known only by the initials “UP,” taunted on an online forum. “Sorry, you’ll have to sit separately. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

    A self-described “computer nerd,” UP told a Shanghai newspaper he recently had his heart broken (figures — all evil masterminds have a sad backstory) and that he had first tried to carry out the devious plan alone. When his efforts to purchase every other seat online and at the theater box office failed, he recruited some online accomplices to help him get the job done.

    But don’t hate him because he ruined your Valentine’s Day make-out session, Shanghai cinema-goers. UP was only kidding!

    “I hope all lovers understand this is just a small joke,” the prankster told the Shanghai Morning Post.

    Luckily for UP, he’s not alone in his anti-Valentine’s Day sentiment. Singles in China are so averse to the Hallmark holiday, they consider November 11 Singles’ Day — an unofficial holiday that started in the 1990s as a protest to Valentine’s Day that’s since become the biggest online shopping day of the year worldwide.

    Keep in touch! Check out HuffPost Divorce on Facebook and Twitter.

  • There Should Be an App for That: 10 Apps We Wish Existed

    By Chloe Johns

    What would make your life easier? If only your phone could make you a smoothie, put the kids to bed, or iron your shirt for the morning. One can only dream…

    With something more feasible in mind, here is a list of 10 must-develop apps for 2014.

    Is your mind constantly wandering? Can’t believe where the time has gone? Then download iProcrastinate.

    Use the app to select the 10 distracting websites you visit the most, and simply plug your phone into your computer. Every time you log onto Facebook or browse Buzzfeed, your phone will vibrate loudly to remind you of the task in hand. For the daydreamers amongst us, iProcrastinate also tracks keystrokes.

    So you broke up, and it didn’t end well. You’ve deleted, unfriended and unfollowed, but moving on is hard when their face still finds its way into your news feed. ‘Axe-the-Ex’ scans your social media channels and removes any trace of your Ex’s existence. When activated, your Facebook news feed will remove photos where your Ex is tagged by mutual friends, it won’t count their ‘likes’, and you will never see their re-tweets. Axe-the-Ex – for when ‘unfriending’ isn’t enough.

    Reports show that we are throwing away more un-eaten food than ever before. All this waste is bad for the environment, and bad for our pockets. NotExpired is your go to app for checking whether expiry dates are accurate. Search your food item, enter its packaging, how long it’s been open, where you stored it, and the expiry date. NotExpired will tell you if there is any longevity left in it.


    Does your team spend more time at the kettle then at their desks? Save their time with iKettle. The app chooses a team member at random, and schedules them to make a daily tea round. It will also send an alert letting them know everyone elses sugar/milk ratio. For time efficiency, tea rounds of more than 10 cups will prompt iKettle to schedule an additional team member to help.

    Going My Way?
    London black cabbies are required to learn The Knowledge. This extensive exam details the shortest routes from A to B, at any given time of the day. For when you’re elsewhere in the World, ‘Going My Way?’ can ensure you that you’re being taken the quickest way, and will send you an alert If your driver deviates from the most efficient route.


    If you’ve ever been on a restricted diet, you know how hard it is to control what goes into your food. It can look safe, but somehow a splash of soy sauce has found its way in there. iContainGluten works by docking a gluten detector (yet to be developed) to your phone. Lined with thousands of sensors, the detector can measure gluten levels by simply waving your phone over your dinner. N.B iContainSaturatedFats and iContainDairy will be available as add-ons.

    Auto Un-tag
    It’s been a messy night. You wake up at midday with a thousand push-notifications on your phone. Then the panic sets in – You’ve been tagged. A lot. By granting Auto Un-tag access to your Facebook profile, it will use algorithms from previously untagged Facebook photos to determine the types of pictures that you don’t want to be seen. Fat. Drunk. Lazy-Eyed? Never again, my friend!

    With ‘H2O’, everyone can now measure their hydration levels on the go. By pressing your thumb on a sensor pad plugged into your phone, ‘H2O’ can tell you exactly how hydrated you are from the moisture in your skin. It can also tell you how much water you need to take in to return to normal levels. Bring on the glowing complexions!


    You’re at a party or a conference and someone waves at you from across the room – You have no idea who they are. WTFIT (Who the F*** Is That?) stealthily connects with their phone and scans your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see if you’re already connected with them. Since access was granted during the initial friend request, your phone will determine if there is a match. Along with a name, it will give you 3 headline facts about that person. Look down. Read quickly. Or better yet have Siri whisper it into your ear. Awkward situation averted.

    We’ve all stayed up long into the night, drink in hand, discussing the problems in our society, and what we can do to fix them. Come morning, all is forgotten. This app will record your evening’s conversations, and pick out the best comments and ideas. This could potentially be the first app to achieve World Peace, or at the very least remind you to go to bed next time.

    Thousands of apps are developed everyday, and while your phone can’t teleport you to a meeting you’re late for (yet!) , none of these 10 apps are unachievable. So, raise that capital and let’s get developing!

  • 25 Funny Tweets To Help You Get Over Valentine's Day
    There are a lot people that can help you cope with your Valentine’s Day misery. You can get sloshed with your buddy Jack Daniels, go on a romantic dinner date with Papa John, or shack up with Ben & Jerry.

    We, however, prefer to spend our day hanging out with the funniest, most cynical comedians in the Twitterverse. And lucky for you, we kept track of the best tweets about love, romance, and our ol’ buddy Cupid. Tweet your heart out, everyone.

  • Should We Blame Russia for the Target Breach?
    Is it time to hold the Russian government responsible for the rise in sophisticated cybercrime attacks on the U.S. economy?

    As Congress recently held hearings on the Target data breach to discuss new ways to protect consumer information and prevent future data breaches, one key issue that should be on the table is how to clamp down on the foreign source of these attacks. The Target breach — possibly the largest hack in U.S. history, affecting over 110 million consumer accounts — used Russian-made malware to pull it off. That should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, some of the most notorious malware that’s targeted U.S. consumers, banks and retailers over the past few years has originated from Russia or former Soviet states: ZeuS, Citadel, SpyEye, CryptoLocker, to name just a few. In fact, roughly 70 percent of “exploit kits” released in the fourth quarter of 2012 came from Russia, according to a study by Solutionary.

    Until we tackle the Russia problem, we won’t make any real progress against cybercrime. In order to stop a leaky boat from sinking, you have to do more than just bail water — you have to plug the actual leak.

    The U.S. has already taken an aggressive stance against the Chinese government for its ongoing cyber-espionage attacks against the private sector. It needs to do the same with Russia. While the Russian government does not appear to be directly behind these cybercrime activities, neither is it doing much to stop them. A report by the Russian cybercrime intelligence firm Group-IB cited a number of reasons for Russia’s failure to thwart the proliferation of this activity inside the country: inadequate laws, weak penalties and legal loopholes for those convicted; a need for more advanced investigative capabilities and better law enforcement training; and improved coordination with other countries. In its defense, Russian authorities did arrest the creator of the BlackHole exploit kit. But they’ve failed to stop the vast majority of high-profile crimeware rings — from ZeuS to CryptoLocker.

    Russia also has another problem: “bulletproof hosting.” What is that? Bulletproof hosting refers to the practice of protecting malware-infected websites from being shut down by their service providers. In the U.S., for instance, when a website is found to contain malware, there are legal recourses to take the site offline and prevent it from being used to infect other websites. That is not always the case in Russia — these infected websites are sometimes protected from takedowns, allowing cybercriminals to thrive by having a safe platform to host their malware for infecting U.S. consumers and businesses.

    It’s estimated that cybercrime (most of it appearing to come out of Russia) costs the global economy $113 billion each year, according to Symantec. Unlike the estimated costs of Chinese cyber-espionage (which are speculative figures based on projected future values), cybercrime is stealing real money from companies and consumers every day.

    Russia’s failure to act against the cybercrime industry operating within its borders poses an advanced persistent threat to the U.S. economy. Our government officials can no longer ignore the consequences of Russia’s inability or unwillingness to act. If we’re going to hold China responsible for the cyber-espionage attacks emanating from its IP addresses, isn’t it time we confront Russia for harboring the vast majority of the world’s cybercrime industry?

  • DealNN: Mac mini, iPhone 5 and more
    Until 2/19/2014 at MegaMacs.com, get a great deal on a bundle that includes a refurbished Mac mini, keyboard, mouse, DVI-HDMI adapter and Adobe Lightroom 5 all for only $239.99, which is $50 off their regular price. That makes this about $85 less than the lowest price we’ve seen for the Mac mini alone anywhere else, and Bitcoin is now accepted as a payment method. The Mac mini features a 1.83GHz Intel core 2 duo processor, 2GB of RAM and 80GB hard drive. Included is a 30 day warranty from MegaMacs.


  • MLB completes outfitting two stadiums with iBeacon technology
    Major League Baseball has completed its first post-test iBeacon deployments at two stadiums, according to an announcement. 65 iBeacons have been put in place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. The league says that plans are underway to have over 20 parks outfitted by Opening Day; the main reason for the initial two stadiums is that the Padres are hosting the Dodgers on March 30th.


Mobile Technology News, February 13, 2014

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

  • Real or not, 'iPhone 6' photos are everywhere
    No telling if this it’s the real iPhone 6, but some design features are certainly plausible.
  • Google's Woodside said to be hired as Dropbox's new COO
    Shortly after Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the phone-maker’s CEO is reportedly stepping down to become the operating chief of Dropbox.
  • Federal Judge Blocks The Apothecary Shoppe From Selling Execution Drug To Missouri
    OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A federal judge late Wednesday temporarily blocked an Oklahoma compounding pharmacy from selling a drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for use in an upcoming execution.

    The temporary restraining order was issued in a lawsuit filed a day earlier in U.S. District Court in Tulsa by Missouri death row inmate Michael Taylor. His attorneys allege that the department contracts with The Apothecary Shoppe in Tulsa to provide the drug set to be used in Taylor’s Feb. 26 lethal injection. The lawsuit argued that several recent executions involving the drug, compounded pentobarbital, indicate it will likely cause Taylor “severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain.”

    The state has not revealed the name of the compounding pharmacy supplying the drug, and The Apothecary Shoppe previously declined to confirm or deny that it was the source of a drug used in an earlier Missouri execution.

    Taylor, 47, pleaded guilty in the 1989 abduction, rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old Kansas City girl.

    A pharmacy spokeswoman did not return a telephone call seeking comment earlier Wednesday. Phone and email messages were also left with the Missouri Department of Corrections.

    One of Taylor’s attorneys, Matthew Hellman of the Washington, D.C., law firm Jenner & Block, said the lawsuit focuses attention on the drug used in Missouri’s lethal injections and the laws regarding compounding.

    “This is not an acceptable option,” Hellman said.

    Missouri corrections officials turned to The Apothecary Shoppe to supply compounded pentobarbital after manufacturers of the drug refused to provide it for lethal injections, according to the lawsuit.

    In January 2012, a Danish company that had produced pentobarbital under the trade name Nembutal sold the exclusive rights to the drug to an American company, Akorn Inc., on the condition that Akorn not sell the drug for use in executions.

    “Those manufacturers do not want medication to be used for executions,” Hellman said.

    Taylor’s lawsuit questions whether the pharmacy can legally produce and deliver compounded pentobarbital. It says the pharmacy is not registered as a drug manufacturer with the Food & Drug Administration and alleges it violates federal law each time it delivers the drug across state lines to Missouri corrections officials.

    Along with asking for a temporary restraining order, the lawsuit seeks an injunction barring the pharmacy from delivering “this unidentified, unregulated, untested and unsafe pharmaceutical product.” Hellman declined to say whether The Apothecary Shoppe also sells compounded pentobarbital to states other than Missouri.

    Several recent executions that involved compounded pentobarbital indicate use of the drug will subject Taylor to “inhumane pain,” the lawsuit says.

    One such execution was that of Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Lee Wilson, 38. Within 20 seconds of receiving the lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on Jan. 9 Wilson said: “I feel my whole body burning.” The lawsuit alleges the statement describes “a sensation consistent with receipt of contaminated pentobarbital.”

    The lawsuit also sites an Oct. 15, 2012, execution in which South Dakota death row inmate Eric Robert, 50, cleared his throat, gasped for air and then snored after receiving the lethal injection. His skin turned a purplish hue and his heart continued to beat for 10 minutes after he stopped breathing. It took 20 minutes for authorities to finally declare Robert dead.

    “These events are consistent with receipt of a contaminated or sub-potent compounded drug,” the lawsuit says.

    Use of the same drug in Taylor’s execution could result in a similar reaction, Hellman said.

    “It is extremely disturbing,” he said.

    On Monday, Missouri Corrections Department Director George Lombardi told a legislative panel that the agency pays for the drug to be independently tested to make sure it works and is sterile. He also said the agency had found no substantial issues in a background check of its current supplier.

    Lombardi did not release the name of the pharmacy that provides the drug, saying Missouri could not carry out lethal injections if that information were released. He said the state pays $8,000 in cash to the pharmacy for the drug.

  • Comcast To Buy Time Warner Cable: Reports
    Comcast is set to buy Time Warner Cable in an all-stock deal, CNBC’s David Faber reported Wednesday night.

    Faber shared the news on Twitter, announcing that the deal would be made on Thursday morning. The reported acquisition will be for about $159 a share.

    The New York Times notes that the expected deal will total more than $44 billion. The companies expect the merger to be completed by the end of the year CNN’S Brian Stelter reports, but will likely draw regulator scrutiny.

    Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable in all stock deal worth $159 per $TWC share- sources. Deal set for tomorrow morning. Ratio is 2.875 $CMCSA.

    DAVID FABER (@davidfaber) February 13, 2014

    Comcast will indicate willingness to divest 3m subs from combination with $TWC– sources.

    DAVID FABER (@davidfaber) February 13, 2014

    Comcast deal for $TWC does not face ownership cap restrictions, but sure to get tough review from FCC.$CMCSA wants to avoid consent decree.

    DAVID FABER (@davidfaber) February 13, 2014

    Bloomberg News corroborated the report, noting that the deal would combine the largest two U.S. cable companies. The resulting company would have over 33 million subscribers, making it by far the largest of any U.S. cable provider as noted by CNBC.

    According to Bloomberg, Charter Communications had also been vying for the cable carrier, offering around $132.50 a share to Time Warner Cable. Charter’s bid was rejected.

    CNN’S Brian Stelter noted on Twitter that “For Comcast, the crown jewel of [Time Warner Cable] is the New York City market. Soon [Comcast] will have its 30 Rock studios AND the cable pipes beneath.”


    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comcast Corp. has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. for $45.2 billion in stock, or $158.82 per share, two people familiar with the matter said late Wednesday.

    The deal will combine the nation’s top two cable TV companies and make Comcast, which also owns NBCUniversal, a dominant force in both creating and delivering entertainment to U.S. homes.

    The deal was approved by the boards of both companies and, pending regulatory approval, is expected to close by the end of the year, the people said.

    The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced formally. An announcement is set for Thursday morning, they said.

    The price is about 17 percent above Time Warner Cable shares’ Wednesday closing price of $135.31 and trumps a proposal by Charter Communications Inc. to buy Time Warner for about $132.50 per share, or $38 billion in cash and stock.

    Time Warner Cable shareholders will receive 2.57 Comcast shares for every Time Warner Cable share they own. Once the deal is final, they will end up owning about 23 percent of the combined company, one of the people said.

    Charter had pursued Time Warner Cable for months but Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus had consistently rejected what he called a lowball offer, saying he’d cut a deal for $160 per share in cash and stock.

    For a time, Comcast stayed in the background, waiting to purchase any chunk of subscribers that a combined Charter-Time Warner Cable would sell off. Charter had planned to finance its bid with $25 billion in new debt. As part of a plan to pay off the debt quickly, the company considered selling off some of its territories after a deal had closed. Time Warner Cable’s Marcus had also balked at the huge debt burden the Charter takeover represented.

    Instead, Comcast now plans to divest 3 million pay TV subscribers after the deal closes. With 22 million of its own pay TV customers and Time Warner Cable’s 11.2 million, the combined entity will end up with about 30 million subscribers when the deal is complete, a level believed not to trigger the concern of antitrust authorities. A formal cap was dissolved years ago by regulators, but divesting subscribers could help the deal get approved more quickly.

    Comcast is taking the position that because Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t serve overlapping markets, their combination won’t reduce competition for consumers, especially in the face of rivals AT&T and Verizon, which compete with the cable operators to provide both pay TV services and Internet hookups. Both AT&T and Verizon are growing quickly. They ended 2013 with 5.5 million and 5.3 million pay TV subscribers, respectively.

    Comcast and Time Warner Cable are expected to save $1.5 billion in annual costs over three years, with half of that realized in the first year, one of the people said.

    Comcast also plans to add an additional $10 billion in share buybacks at the close of the deal, on top of a recent plan to boost its share buyback authority to $7.5 billion from $1 billion, the person said.

    Conceding that it had lost the takeover battle, Charter issued a statement Wednesday saying, “Charter has always maintained that our greatest opportunity to create value for shareholders is by executing our current business plan, and that we will continue to be disciplined in this and any other (merger and acquisition) activity we pursue.”

    Even before the deal had been formally announced, it was being denounced. Public Knowledge, a Washington-based consumer rights group, said in a statement Wednesday that regulators must stop the deal, because it would give Comcast “unprecedented gatekeeper power in several important markets.”

    “An enlarged Comcast would be the bully in the schoolyard,” it said.

  • Lenovo net profit jumps 29 percent in 3Q on PC sales
    Chinese electronics giant reports $265 million in net profit in the third quarter on shipments of 15.3 million PCs.
  • Troubling Number Of Minority And Female Students Took This AP Exam In 2013
    The Advanced Placement Computer Science exam clearly has a problem when it comes to minority and female high school students.

    The College Board — the association responsible for creating and overseeing AP testing — on Tuesday released its annual report on AP exam participation and performance, noting that a vast majority of AP Computer Science test-takers in 2013 were white males. Of the more than 20,000 students to take the exam last year, 81 percent were male and 54 percent were white. Only 9 percent of the test-takers were Latino and 3 percent were African-American.

    The following graphs break it down:


    ap exam

    Senior research scientist Barbara Ericson of Georgia Tech University provided a separate analysis of the test data, painting an even bleaker picture of the situation in some parts of the country. Her analysis reveals no African-American students took the AP Computer Science exam in 11 states, and that not a single female, African-American or Hispanic student took the test in Montana or Mississippi.

    The numbers suggest that the world of technology, which is already dominated by white males, may continue being a white man’s club.

    Deborah Davis, the director of college readiness communications at The College Board, told The Huffington Post in an email that the organization recognizes these problems and has been taking steps to up the number of minority and female test-takers.

    “The College Board is deeply committed to increasing access to rigorous computing courses, particularly for underrepresented female and minority students. In order to address this issue, we have collaborated with national organizations, other nonprofits and the private sector to ensure expanded access,” wrote Davis.

    More than 1 million students took AP exams in 2013, according to The College Board report. Nine percent of these test-takers were African-American, and 19 percent were Hispanic.

  • Why isn't Siri like AI in movies?
    Why the next artificial intelligence apps won’t be as silly as Siri
  • First alleged shots of iPhone 6 casings posted on Twitter
    An anonymous tipster on Twitter has posted a series of images of what is allegedly Apple’s iPhone 6 casing. The tipster has posted a range of new photos to twitter that appear to contain the first shots of a new iPhone. The case components are similar to that of the iPod touch, but have both what appears to be a TouchID home button, as well as the larger flash opening as seen on the iPhone 5S.


  • The Reverse Facebook Detox: Why I Finally Joined
    You might call me a late adopter.

    At a time when many people are taking a break from social media, I have taken a decidedly contrarian view — after years of holding out I have finally joined Facebook.

    I am one of roughly 18 people in the free world who until now refused to establish a status on Facebook. And lest you think I am a recluse, let me assure you, I am not. I shop online, watch Mad Men on airplay, and listen to current music, sometimes on digital radio. Some might even say I am hip and cool. Well, I might say that.

    In any case, Facebook always seemed intrusive, not to mention self-indulgent: new mothers documenting their babies’ every bowel movement, Aunt Jane parading pictures of her eight cats, former schoolmates flaunting fabulous book deals. Did I really want to waste my time posting the trivialities of my life? Or, conversely, poring over the particulars of others’ lives and lamenting the missed opportunities of my own: parties I didn’t attend, vacations I passed up, endeavors I never undertook.

    For 10 years I avoided the siren call of the social networking giant, afraid to be sucked into this unique vortex of narcissism and voyeurism — the same one causing many to now leave the site. Recently, though, a few trends and incidents changed my mind.

    First, I finally realized that the preferred method for social interaction had become Facebook. Exclusively. “Hey are you going to the event at The Mansion Saturday night? Oh that’s right, you’re not on Facebook.” The pretext seems to be that by virtue of “not being on Facebook,” not only am I not privy to these activities, but I am not even invited.

    Second, I was no longer up to speed on important news: government shutdowns, huge fires raging downtown, celebrity breakups. Some studies suggest that 30 percent of people now receive their news through Facebook. Whether what they are reading can legitimately be termed news is up for debate. Nonetheless, individuals who have never picked up a newspaper or browsed a magazine in their life are telling me about current events. And I mean very current. By the time my morning paper arrives the print is old, offering information that is way past its expiration date on the Facebook feed.

    Speaking of expiration dates, apparently even obituaries have gone the way of Facebook. I recently learned of the passing of a friend’s dad through one of my friends, who heard it first… on Facebook.

    However, aside from these recent trends — old trends to you early adopters — it was a final incident over the holidays that sealed my decision. While skiing with my family before New Year’s, I received an interesting email. (Remember email?) It included a picture of the ski patrol at our resort attending to a fallen skier. It seems that a member of the fallen woman’s group caught her on film — I mean digital — and promptly posted the picture (of her lying prone on the stretcher) on Facebook. A close friend of mine discovered it on her Facebook wall and, knowing my technological limitations, emailed me the photo.

    Thankfully, the wounded skier sustained no major injuries. I can’t vouch for the photographer’s well-being, although despite my limited knowledge of Facebook, the term ‘unFriended’ rings a bell.

    Regardless, this paparazzi ski shot and its presumably unwilling subject opened my eyes to the final truth: Facebook is inescapable.

    At its root, my avoidance of Facebook — not to mention Twitter, Instagram and all other assorted social media — has been grounded in the need to shield myself, to remain disconnected, literally, from probing eyes and sharing fingers. What I’ve realized is this: any attempts to maintain privacy and control is futile. My absence doesn’t’ prevent me from being exposed — it just means I don’t know about it. As Joseph Heller pointed out, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

    Rest assured my life is hardly worth posting about, although my own slip ups could fill quite a few newsfeeds. Despite my reservations I have succumbed. I can no longer deny Facebook’s utility. It is the new landline, the newsfeed, the modern-day rolodex. Not to mention it’s the quickest link to all those Buzzfeed quizzes that tell me what career I am ideally suited for, or which 80s rocker I most resemble.

    With Facebook turning 10, some say I’m so late to the party it’s already over. Indeed, teens have already decided it is no longer cool. (The fact that it is no longer cool goes a long way toward explaining why I am finally joining; as a consequence of being a contrarian, the truth is I am terminally uncool.)

    The question I’ve been wondering is: will it make me happier? I will soon find out.

    What I can say with reasonable certainty is that I will refrain from posting accidents and incidents that befall my friends. If you notice me breaking this promise, feel free to get in touch. You know where to find me.

  • What Shows To Stream On Netflix If You're Single This Valentine's Day
    This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday. While for couples that probably means a romantic night out on the town, the single folks out there may need a little more help avoiding excessive Facebook stalking and 3 a.m. “why am I single?!” meltdowns.

    Luckily, we (and Netflix) are here to make your Valentine’s Day a lot more awesome. Here’s a guide to what TV shows to watch if you happen to be flying solo on Feb. 14.

    If you’re single and loving it …
    olivia pope
    Because nothing screams “independent woman” more than our favorite White House fixer Olivia Pope. When you’re that cool, important and have such great clothes, you don’t really have time for a relationship anyway. Get the hint, Fitz.

    “Orange Is The New Black”
    Prison may not be a walk in the park, but most of the “Orange Is The New Black” ladies are single and they manage to have a blast behind bars. Having great friends is just as good, if not better than having significant other … never mind that a few of them fall in love with each other.

    “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”
    Because you’re so great at being by yourself that you don’t even need someone to hold your hand through those creepy rape and murder scenes!

    If you’re heartbroken …
    jess and nick new girl
    “New Girl”
    Not only has every “New Girl” character suffered from extreme heartbreak, but it seems like someone gets rejected or dumped every other episode. See? Everybody hurts, sometimes.

    “Arrested Development”
    Falling in love with your cousin is bad, and being married to a Never Nude is even worse. Love isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be! Plus, you know you need a good laugh.

    “The Walking Dead”
    Because it could always be worse.

    If you’re cynical about love …
    don draper
    “Mad Men”
    In case you need more proof that love doesn’t last, spend a few hours with Don Draper.

    “30 Rock”
    Liz Lemon has dated her fair share of losers (Dennis Duffy, anyone?), and is famous for choosing her couch and night cheese over a date. Can you blame her, cynics?

    “House Of Cards”
    Because Frank Underwood once said that he loved Claire “more than sharks love blood,” which is an interesting way of putting it.

    If you’re still crushing on that guy from high school …
    “Freaks And Geeks”
    No one knows the pain of unrequited love more than Lindsay and Sam Weir. As an added bonus, you get to watch James Franco, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel play high schoolers and fall in love all over again.

    “The O.C.”
    Because you know you’re still crushing on all those beautiful people, so why not spend a night staring at them instead of your crush’s high school yearbook photo?

    “One Tree Hill”
    Because Haley and Nathan met in high school, and they got married. So there’s definitely still hope.

    If you’re a true romantic …
    ted mosby
    “How I Met Your Mother”
    Because Ted really, really believes in love. And although his faith in love has gotten a little annoying over the past nine seasons, it’s still very heartwarming.

    “Parks And Recreation”
    Is there any question that Leslie and Ben are the cutest couple on TV these days? Well, at least in Pawnee …

    “The Office”
    We know, we know. The last few seasons of “The Office” got a little ridiculous. But was there anything more romantic than Jim and Pam pining after each other in Seasons 1 through 3? Nope.

    tv show gifs

  • No One Stays King Forever: What Apple Should Learn From Microsoft's Stumble

    John Gruber published a smart essay about Microsoft on his Daring Fireball blog last week, adding perspective to the appointment of Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella. The gist of Gruber’s essay is that Microsoft’s redemption, if there is to be one, will involve its ability to become a leading provider of cloud services. That’s the next big thing, and that’s where Microsoft has advantages, in terms of technology and business experience, over everyone else.

    All fair points, but what Gruber overlooks — and this is ironic given the fact that his blog is mostly devoted to covering Apple — are the lessons that Apple should learn from Microsoft’s stumble.

    Lesson One: No one stays king forever.

    Lesson Two: Lock-in leads to disaster.

    Let’s look at Lesson One. It’s hard to imagine today, but in the 1990s Microsoft wasn’t just a dominant player in tech; it was downright terrifying. Everyone lived in fear. In 1997 I wrote an article for the New York Times Magazine about a little software company in Cambridge, Mass. called Firefly, whose CEO, Max Metral, said something about Microsoft that I will never forget:

    “The reality of the software business today is that if you find something that can make you ridiculously rich, then that’s something Microsoft is going to want to take from you. All we can do is meet with them and try to see what they’re going to do to us when they feel like doing it. If they want to kill you, they’ll kill you.”

    Ten months after that article was published, Firefly was acquired by Micrsosoft, and was never heard from again.

    Apple today doesn’t dominate mobile devices the way Microsoft did the PC market. Microsoft once controlled 95 percent of PCs. Apple’s share in smartphones is around 15 percent, and its share in tablets is around 34 percent.

    But market share figures don’t really paint the full picture. The fact is that Apple got in early and has done a better job than anyone else in this space, and therefore has staked out a strong position. Apple was even, for a time, the biggest company (by market valuation) in the world.

    Though its stock has fallen, Apple’s business remains one that any company would envy. Last quarter Apple generated $58 billion in revenue and kept $13 billion as net profit. That’s a 23 percent net profit margin, meaning out of every four dollars Apple takes in, one dollar goes to the bottom line. That is incredible.

    Nevertheless, history shows: Nobody stays on top. Before Microsoft’s reign of terror, IBM held an even stronger choke-hold on tech customers. Sony was once a powerhouse. So were Digital Equipment Corp. and Sun Microsystems. Sun “put the dot in dotcom” back in the first dotcom bubble, and seemed invincible. Does anyone remember DEC or Sun today?

    Things change. New technologies come along. Leaders fail to adapt, as Clayton Christensen pointed out 17 years ago in The Innovator’s Dilemma.

    That’s a lesson in that for Apple and its fans. But somehow, in their minds, Apple is different. Apple has some magic that prevents it from being susceptible to the same law of gravity that has pulled every other market leader back down to earth.

    Maybe so. We’ll see. But let’s look at Lesson Two.

    As Gruber points out, citing an essay by Brent Simmons, the Microsoft of old was all about creating services that only ran on Microsoft’s operating systems and required Microsoft’s developer tools. That’s changing now, as Microsoft’s cloud business, Azure, has a policy of working with everyone and everything.

    Nadella is the guy who ran that group. Last summer he shocked the tech world when he used a Mac onstage at a Microsoft event. Now he’s running the whole company.

    Smart! Gruber thinks it’s great. Openness is the way to go! It’s important to play well with others in this new post-PC world.

    So where is Apple on that front?

    Apple is all about creating its own little bubble world where it’s all Apple all the time. The advantage to this approach, according to Apple, is that you get a more beautiful, perfect, curated experience. Sure, it’s a trade-off. You’re living in a walled garden. But it’s such a nice garden! Who would want to leave?

    As Apple fans see it, Microsoft ran a closed system out of selfishness. But not Apple. Apple is different. Apple locks you in because it cares so much about its customers.

    The truth is, companies are open when they’re underdogs, because they have no choice. Then when they get on top they’re all about lock-in. This happens over and over again. This was the case with IBM. It was the case with Microsoft. It was the case with Sun and EMC during the dotcom boom, when they could (and did) bully their customers. It’s the case with Apple today.

    Why do companies do this? Because they can’t help themselves. Because “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” as someone, either Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead or English historian Lord Acton, once said.

    Companies can’t resist the urge to squeeze as much money out of customers as they can. To put this in terms of one of the “laws” that the tech industry is so fond of: The openness of any company is inversely proportional to the square of its success. Or something like that.

    The problem is that when powerful companies start trying to lock in their customers, they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction.

    Microsoft, humbled now, will embrace openness as it tries to claw share away from Amazon and become the dominant provider of cloud services. We’ll see a new Microsoft — a happy, friendly Microsoft. That old bully Microsoft? Oh, he’s long gone, replaced by a kinder, gentler, friendlier Microsoft.

    Of course, if and when Microsoft becomes king again, watch out. We’ll see the old Microsoft back in action. Not because the same cast of characters (Gates, Ballmer, et al) will still be in charge. This will happen no matter who’s in charge. Because it’s human nature.

    As for Apple? My sense is Apple is still rising, and still has big things to come. But Apple should learn from Microsoft what happens when you squeeze your customers too hard. Because someday, history tells us, Apple will be where Microsoft is today — trying to craft a comeback, and promising to play nice with others.

    Dan Lyons is a marketing fellow at HubSpot, a software company in Cambridge, Mass. He was previously the tech editor at Newsweek, a tech columnist at Forbes, and the creator of “The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs,” written in the person of “Fake Steve Jobs.”

    This piece first appeared on HubSpot: blog.hubspot.com/opinion/2-lessons-apple-should-learn-from-microsoft

    Visit Dan Lyons’ website at www.realdanlyons.com.

  • Now running on a Chromebook near you: Windows
    Google inks a deal with VMWare to bring legacy Windows applications to its Chrome OS-powered Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.
  • China's Moon Rover May Be Dead
    Poor rabbit.

    China’s lunar rover — known as the “Jade Rabbit” (or “Yutu” in Chinese) — is dead, state media reported Wednesday. The rover experienced mechanical problems late last month and never recovered.

    Though engineers worked to resolve the issues, the rover “could not be restored to full function,” Agence France-Presse reported. And low temperatures on the lunar surface may have had something to do with the rover’s early demise.

    As New Scientist reported, China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander and the Jade Rabbit successfully “hibernated” for the first lunar night, which is equivalent to half a month on Earth, in order to escape the extreme cold. Surface temperatures on the moon range from extreme hot to bitter cold. Under the worst conditions, temperatures on the moon can plummet to minus 243 degrees Fahrenheit.

    But the rover reportedly failed to enter hibernation on Jan. 25 for the second lunar night. When rover operators attempted to communicate with the Jade Rabbit on Monday, they were unsuccessful. It seems the rover, which touched down on the moon in mid-December, is calling it quits early in the midst of its three-month mission.

    As China’s first lunar rover, the Jade Rabbit was a major asset for the country’s rapidly advancing space program. China is the third nation to send a rover to the moon. The U.S. and the former Soviet Union also achieved the feat.

    China’s space agency has yet to release a statement.

  • U.S. Relaxes Gag Order, Permitting Google, Facebook et al to Disclose Scope of NSA Access — But What if the Firms Don't Know?
    Ever since Edward Snowden began leaking classified documents about NSA surveillance, Google and other tech companies have wanted to reveal the extent of the NSA’s access — pursuant to orders of the secret FISA Court — to their customers’ accounts.

    They have wanted to disclose specifics on NSA access not just because they care about transparency, but because they expected the information to be reassuring: showing the actual incidence of court-sanctioned surveillance to be much lower than customers feared, based on news stories using NSA documents leaked by Snowden.

    Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook (among others) filed motions in the secret FISA Court-with the support, incidentally, of an amicus brief filed by my organization, the First Amendment Coalition-requesting modifications to gag orders that had barred them from virtually all public comment. In January the Justice Department acceded to some of the requests, agreeing to new censorship rules permitting disclosure, albeit on a delayed basis, of NSA requests that resulted in access to companies’ user data, including access to user content (e.g., emails).

    This week the companies made the newly okayed disclosures. They revealed, for the period January to June of 2013, that…

    Google provided content on somewhere between 9,000-9,999 accounts.
    Yahoo provided content on somewhere between 30,000-30,999 accounts.
    Microsoft provided content on somewhere between 15,000-15,999 accounts.
    Facebook provided content on somewhere between 5,000-5,999 accounts.

    The numbers are substantial — some 60,000 accounts for all four firms; half of that for Yahoo alone — but they are, of course, just a fraction of all the companies’ accounts. Facebook by itself has over 200 million users in the U.S., and more than one billion worldwide.

    Does this mean fears about out-of-control NSA surveillance are disconnected from reality? Not necessarily. The tech companies have disclosed information on NSA access for the cases that they know about. Call these the “front door” cases in which NSA, playing by the rules, knocks on the tech firms’ doors, announces itself, and presents its papers from the FISA Court.

    But what of NSA’s secret “back door” access to the companies’ user data and message contents? I’m referring to news accounts, first published in the Washington Post in November, about NSA’s copying of Google user data and content-secretly, without Google’s knowledge-by exploiting unprotected communications links in Europe. The news accounts were based on Snowden documents .

    If NSA does, in fact, have a secret backdoor channel into Google’s user data and communications, it hardly matters how scrupulous the agency is in adhering to applicable legal rules restricting access through Google’s front door.

    Google of course can’t be transparent about the government’s access to customer information when Google itself is aware of only part of that access. And Google’s customers, particularly its customers residing outside the US, will continue to doubt Google’s ability to protect their privacy.
    Peter Scheer, a lawyer, is executive director of the First Amendment Coalition. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the FAC Board of Directors.

  • Twitter Is the 21st Century Newspaper
    Despite being everything from a behind-the-scenes celebrity perspective to a catalyst for world peace, Twitter has long suffered from an identity crisis. As detailed in Nick Bolton’s recent book, Hatching Twitter, even the founders could never fully agree on the purpose.

    In recent years, Twitter has appropriately referred to itself as an information network, a big separation from a social network like Facebook. Like I described in a prior piece, Twitter’s foundation of an interest graph is stronger than Facebook’s reliance on a social graph from a long term perspective.

    As outlined in the book, the original sign of Twitter as a real-time news source was the earliest users reporting (of all things) a San Francisco earthquake. Then again, the moment when Twitter was truly cemented in history occurred five years ago when US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to make an abrupt landing in the Hudson River, and the first news “reporting” came from Jānis Krūms, a rescuer who took a picture of the passengers standing on the wings of the plane and shared on Twitter as fellow rescuers were heading towards the plane. It’ll forever be an iconic image, and an iconic moment in time.


    Photo by Jānis Krūms

    Yet, at the end of the day, what makes Twitter so amazing as a crowdsourced news source is its natural ability to become the ideal newspaper for each and every one of us. We choose our sources. They choose the content.

    One of the best parts of Twitter as the 21st Century newspaper is your news sources can be a wide variety of sources. Whereas traditional newspapers have delivered the news in a second-hand context, Twitter allows you to learn the story from a first-person point of view. Put in other words, rather than hearing about the game from a reporter, you can hear the real story from the athlete who actually played the game. Best of all, if you like both points of view weaved together, you can do just that.

    At the end of the day, we all have interests across multiple categories so the niche sources will often deliver the most appealing content. Following hashtags of interest has become a common practice, but while they may offer a great snapshot into the general sentiment towards a certain topic, they can also be extremely noisy with commentary from people you could care less to hear from.

    If you really want to make the most of Twitter, you should treat it like a typical newspaper: Each subject matter should be split up into a different section. While Twitter has offered the ability to curate Lists around specific topics for a long time, they have struggled to emphasize the best usage.

    While Twitter is currently tinkering with their design, they should strongly consider this notion: If Twitter can truly become our 21st Century newspaper, Twitter Lists are our 21st Century newspaper sections.

  • Unplug With Randi Zuckerberg

    In celebration of the fifth annual National Day of Unplugging (NDU) — from sundown Friday, March 7 to sundown, Saturday, March 8 — the nonprofit Reboot is asking individuals and families to reconnect with each other by putting down their smartphones, tablets and computers for 24 hours.

    The topic of families unplugging is especially close to home for today’s NDU interviewee Randi Zuckerberg, who has joined Reboot’s National Day of Unplugging as an advocate for the annual digital detox.

    Today, she shares how she unplugs and what it means to her family.

    Randi Zuckerberg Talks Unplugging

    1. How did you get involved in unplugging?
    When I had my son almost three years ago, I became much more conscious of how often I was using my devices in his presence. Though he was just a baby, I realized he could tell when I wasn’t giving him my full attention.

    2. What do you do when you unplug?
    Unplugging is my way of becoming present and truly connecting with the people around me. On the weekends, my husband and I take our son out to the park or to dinner “alone” by leaving our phones at home.

    3. What is the most overrated piece of modern technology?
    I think some of the most common apps on smartphones are replacing our dependance on our own memories — maps, notes, calendars and reminders, to name a few. I personally use these tools all the time, but I’m trying to step back and appreciate the power of my own memory once in a while!

    4. Do you make unplugging a regular practice? If so, how?
    In a world where people are expected to be reachable 24/7, it is really hard to make unplugging a regular practice. I used to feel so guilty when I took more than a day or two to answer emails when others were depending on my quick response. But since creating Dot Complicated, I have become much more proactive about creating unplugged moments throughout the week.

    5. Any plans for the next NDU?
    I’ll be at South by Southwest this year during the National Day of Unplugging. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to connect with people in person. Though you’ll see some of the most connected techies and social media influencers at SXSW, it’s great to see how they still value the power of personal, one-on-one interaction.

    6. If you could unplug and spend time with one person for an hour, who would it be and what would you do?
    I would unplug and spend that hour at the park with my son, Asher. He loves trains, and there’s this cute little park near our home where he would ride the choo-choo train all day long if he could. Or Beyoncé — but don’t tell Asher!

    Zuckerberg, is CEO and founder of Zuckerberg Media, a tech savvy production company, and editor-in-chief of Dot Complicated, a modern lifestyle community and blog. Zuckerberg was an early employee of Facebook where she pioneered live streaming initiatives and struck groundbreaking deals with ABC and CNN. She has been nominated for an Emmy and is ranked among the “50 Digital Power Players” by the Hollywood Reporter. Zuckerberg is the author of Dot., an illustrated children’s book about a spunky little girl obsessed with electronic devices. She lives with her husband, Brent, and son, Asher, in Silicon Valley.

    Join Zuckerberg and the NDU community in taking stock of our digital use. Share what you do when you are unplugged by snapping an “I UNPLUG TO ____” photo. Upload it to www.NationalDayofUnplugging.com or post it to Facebook or Twitter with #unplug.

  • PCs sales may suck, but people still are buying Nvidia GPUs
    The company reported better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and revenue as graphics chip sales climbed.
  • Soledad O'Brien Teams Up With Google
    Soledad O’Brien’s production company is teaming up with Google as she prepares for her first speaking tour, the former CNN host told the Huffington Post Wednesday.

    Google will expand O’Brien’s Starfish Media Group using Google+’s Hangouts, Google Apps for Business and by creating a YouTube channel to allow the company to reach a broader audience. The search giant will also sponsor the “Soledad O’Brien Presents Black in America” speaking tour beginning February 17th, where she will travel to college campuses and art centers in five cities to engage a larger audience in conversations about social change.

    In an interview, O’Brien said that the partnership, which she stressed was “non-exclusive” —meaning that she is free to make deals with other companies—is part of her goal to make Starfish Media a “multi-platform” company.

    She also said she was looking forward to the speaking tour, explaining that, after years as a news anchor, she has no fears or nerves about taking her series in front of a real life audience.

    “The speaking tour is very different than doing a show, where, you can have momentary jitters about nailing a break, getting to commercial on time, or finishing the interview in four minutes,” she said. “I’m not nervous about anything…. I’m looking forward to things getting challenging.”

    O’Brien added that, compared to hosting a morning show where time is limited, the tour will give her “a lot of freedom” to “have someone’s full story told.”

    Even though she is expanding her profile away from the screen, O’Brien’s schedule is still full of television commitments. It has been nearly a year since O’Brien left as host of CNN’s morning show in February 2013, but she has maintained her ties to the network. As part of her partnership with CNN, O’Brien has been continuing her “In America” series. She has also been making content for other news organizations such as Al Jazeera America, where she is a contributor.

    O’Brien spoke optimistically about AJA, which launched in August 2013 as a channel for “real news,” but has since struggled to reach a strong audience.

    “Growing an audience takes time– I think what they’re doing has been to put high quality pieces on, and that’s the best strategy,” O’Brien said. “Some networks talk about a commitment to good journalism and just do entertainment. But the quality of their reporting has been tremendous.”

    Looking forward, O’Brien told HuffPost Media that she is preparing a number of documentaries to air on CNN and Al Jazeera America. She anticipated that the next installment of the ““Black in America” documentary series will air on CNN sometime this summer. O’Brien is also shooting a piece for HBO’s Real Sports and looking forward to finding new partners for her company.

  • White House Offers Help To Industry On Cyberattack
    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Whited House on Wednesday offered to help U.S. businesses protect their computer systems from cyberattacks that President Barack Obama called “one the gravest national security dangers that the United States faces.”

    Administration officials warned during an event at the White House that an attack on critical sectors of the U.S. economy could put the entire country at risk. “It boils down to this — in cybersecurity, the more systems we secure, the more secure we all are,” said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. “We are all connected online and a vulnerability in one place can cause a problem in many other places.”

    The administration released a 39-page guide urging vital industries like transportation, financial, health care and energy to assess their risk and take action to close gaps. The Homeland Security Department also launched a voluntary program for businesses to get help at no cost from its cybersecurity experts about ways to counter threats.

    The cyberthreat to the U.S. has been heavily debated since the 1990s, when much of American commerce shifted online and critical systems began to rely increasingly on networked computers. Security experts began to warn of looming disaster, including threats that terrorists could cut off a city’s water supply or shut down electricity.

    But what’s emerged in recent years, according to cyber experts, is the constant pilfering of America’s intellectual property. Administration officials say it’s difficult to put an estimate on the losses, especially since businesses don’t always know or tell the government if they’ve been attacked.

    The guidelines and voluntary program come on the one-year anniversary of Obama signing an executive order calling for their creation. Obama wants Congress to pass legislation that would give the government more power to secure networks and deter attacks, but lawmakers have disagreed over the need for legislation.

    AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who joined chief executives of electric utility Pepco and defense contractor Lockheed Martin on a panel at the White House event, said he opposed more government regulation and pointed to fear as “the best incentive that I have in this regard.”

    “That’s what motivates on this nonstop,” Stephenson said. “It just scares the living hell out of us.”

    Stephenson said companies must proselytize that fear to their suppliers as well as their employees. Workers need more training to prevent against attacks, he said, and suggested that staff who knowingly or inadvertently violate systems should face stronger penalties, maybe even “go home for a period of time.”

    “It can be fatal if you have an exposure in this area,” Stephenson said.

    Obama did not speak at the event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, but instead issued a written statement. “America’s economic prosperity, national security, and our individual liberties depend on our commitment to securing cyberspace and maintaining an open, interoperable, secure and reliable Internet,” he said.


    Follow Nedra Pickler on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/nedrapickler

Mobile Technology News, February 12, 2014

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

  • Camera Falls From Plane And Lands In Pigpen (VIDEO)
    We’re always skeptical of videos that appear too good to be true (we’re looking at you, Jimmy Kimmel), and this one has all the makings of a potential viral hoax.

    But it’s still pretty good.

    The video, posted on YouTube by a user with no other history there, appears to show a GoPro camera falling from an airplane and landing in a pigpen. Moments later, a curious pig comes along and tries to figure out if the fallen object is edible.

    Enjoy the ultra-closeup views of the pig’s tongue.

    “Camera falls from a sky diving airplane and lands on my property in my pig pen,” the user, Mia Munselle, writes in the description. “I found the camera 8 months later and viewed this video.”

    She also linked to the video on her Twitter page, mentioning the brand of the camera.

    Several users on reddit speculate that the funky split-frame effect near the end is caused by the frame rate of the camera almost (but not quite) synching up with the speed of the camera’s spin as it fell.

    So, we’ve got to ask…

  • Mozilla gets into content creation with Voices
    As part of Mozilla’s diversification initiative, the maker of Firefox is looking to make news — from the other side of the camera.
  • Bing censors Chinese search results in the US?
    When it comes to sensitive political topics, Microsoft’s search engine allegedly delivers different results for English searches than those in Chinese.
  • The Goat Simulation Video Game You Never Knew You Wanted Is Coming Your Way Super Soon
    Remember that goat simulation video that went viral last week?

    Well, it’s going to be a real game come spring. Yes, really.

    The video that made the rounds on news and gaming websites was actually just developer Coffee Stain Studios “playing around with a bit of programming stuff,” according to the video’s description. But that didn’t stop the Internet from realizing that a goat simulation video game is exactly what everyone has been waiting for.

    Now, Coffee Stain Studios is bringing this braying joy into our lives as an actual game.

    A new video (watch above) with the description “OKAY INTERNET YOU WIN, IT LOOKS LIKE GOAT SIMULATOR IS OUR NEXT IP” has appeared on the developer’s YouTube account. The post includes links for interested parties to preorder the game on Steam for $9.99.

    The developer’s site says the game will be small and polished but that it will contain all the hilarious bugs from the videos. No specific release date has been announced.

    To say we’re excited would be an understatement.

  • How The Meritocracy Myth Affects Women In Technology
    The numbers on women in the tech industry are so out of whack that ladies register in the single digits: Women account for just 6 percent of the chief executives of the top 100 tech companies, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology. And a New York Times count found that only 8 percent of venture-backed startups are founded by women.

    As NPR’s Tell Me More host Michel Martin put it in our Facebook chat on this topic Thursday, “You can debate the why but not the what.” The disparity of women in science and technology is real, and among girls in high school or younger, the numbers don’t seem to be improving.

  • Some Things You Might Not Know About Facebook's Look Back Videos
    Last week, hundreds of millions of Facebook users received their very own Look Back videos, featuring images they posted over the years on Facebook edited a sweeping movie montage format. Hundreds of millions have watched these films, some with tears in their eyes.

    The 62-second clips got even more attention when Missouri man John Berlin made a heartfelt plea to Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg to unlock his late son’s account so that he and his family could watch the young man’s video. (Berlin’s son was just 21 when he passed away in 2012.) Facebook complied. Berlin received a personal call from Zuckerberg himself and the family shared the video online.

    According to a Facebook representative, the company wanted to make a small gesture to thank the billion-plus Facebook users for posting their great experiences over the years. And what better time to thank users than during the company’s tenth anniversary.

    To learn 7 things you might not know about the Look Back videos, go to the full story at Parade.

  • Mozilla to sell New Tab page ads in Firefox
    Paid advertisements are on their way to Mozilla Firefox’s New Tab page in an attempt to show more sites to first-time browser users.
  • This New Product May Drastically Change The Battlefield For The Better
    U.S. combat troops may soon benefit from faster and more effective relief from gunshot wounds on the battlefield.

    The U.S. Army has requested expedited approval from the FDA for XStat, a new product that has the potential to decrease troop casualties during warfare. The product acts as a modified syringe — injecting specially coated sponges into deep tissue wounds to stop hemorrhaging, Popular Science reports.

    “[Medics] wanted something that was like a ‘fire and forget,’ so they can inject it and move on to treat the next wound,” John Steinbaugh, an Army veteran and former Special Forces medic, told New York Daily News.

    Steinbaugh joined a team of veterans, engineers and scientists at Oregon-based RevMedX in 2012 to develop XStat.

    Compressed sponges injected by XStat to help clot bleeding.

    If a soldier is shot on the battlefield today, the wound is packed with gauze — an exhausting, painful and unreliable method to stop bleeding. Gauze is only FDA-approved for external use, but “everyone knows that if you get shot, you have to pack gauze into the wound,” Steinbaugh told Popular Science.

    After seeing early prototypes of XStat, the U.S. Army agreed to give RevMedX $5 million in funding to complete the product.

    One advantage of XStat is how quickly it works. The sponges expand in the wound to fill the entire cavity in about 15 seconds. And, because they to cling to moist surfaces, they resist extraction from the body — even in cases of severe bleeding, according to Popular Science.

    “By the time you even put a bandage over the wound, the bleeding has already stopped,” Steinbaugh told the outlet.

    Another benefit of the product is its size. Steinbaugh told Medill Reports that each medic could likely carry two-to-three packets of three syringes each, replacing the need to carry five “bulky” rolls of gauze.

    According to the Daily News, XStat is in the final stages of approval with the FDA to make it a reality on the battlefield.

  • Why I Just Quit My Job at Apple


    About a month ago, after years of designing in various industries, making websites for small-time clients, working at failed and debatably successful startups, and fiddling with random side projects, I had been offered an interview at Apple. I couldn’t believe it. I had just totally revamped my portfolio, and I was now actually good enough to be considered as a candidate at Apple. In my eyes, Apple is, hands down, the most highly-regarded company a designer could work for.

    They set an interview date, and I started to brace myself for a bunch of gotcha questions and hard design problems that I would have to whiteboard in front of a design team. I had also assumed such a big company would take many rounds of interviews to make a final decision. I was pleasantly surprised when I only had to interview with three people for less than an hour, and the interview was pretty standard. I drove back to SF from Cupertino, and I replayed the interview in my head. It seemed like it went well, but I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. I didn’t want to be disappointed if they rejected me.

    It turned out it did go well. I received a call the same day, and they told me I knocked it out of the park. They offered me a contract position as a mobile designer. Wow! I was so ecstatic that I had screamed when I got off the phone. My parents and family were super excited when I told them the news. I had posted the news to Facebook, and I had never gotten so many likes and congratulations on anything before. I got more likes when I announced that I got a job at Apple than when my daughter was born. People that I friended years ago and never talked to since were sending me messages. I changed my title on Twitter, and suddenly people started following me that probably never would have a week before. People were so excited for me that I decided to celebrate with drinks one night, and the turnout was amazing. It felt so great to have people want to celebrate this achievement with me.

    I couldn’t sleep the on the nights leading up to my start date. I was nervous and excited. I felt like getting an offer from Apple had validated my talent as a designer. I thought about the long, unorthodox journey that lead me to Apple. I wondered, “What does this mean for my career? What will I be working on? Where will this take me? Will I ever finish the iPhone app I’ve been working on on the side?” I had so many questions.

    Then I started. I immediately was uneasy about the rigid hours and long commute, but at least I could be one of those notorious tech people whizzing to and from San Francisco on a private bus with Wi-Fi. (I’m especially intrigued by the bus thing because I grew up in San Francisco and have seen the cultural and economic shift that’s resulted from this tech boom and the last. Now ironically I was one of the techies who some people think is ruining the city.) I hardly (hardly meaning never) saw my daughter during the week because the hours were so inflexible. I had also taken a substantial pay cut, but I figured I was making a long-term career investment by working for such a prestigious company. On-boarding was super bumpy, and they had so many passwords, accounts, and logins that it took nearly a month just for me to get on the server. There were meetings all the time which were disruptive to everyone’s productivity, but they seemed to be a necessary evil in a company that’s so large with such high-quality products. It was all a bit bothersome, but nothing that would be a big problem in the long-term I thought.

    Then my immediate boss (known at Apple as a producer), who had a habit of making personal insults shrouded as jokes to anyone below him, started making direct and indirect insults to me. He started reminding me that my contract wouldn’t be renewed if I did or didn’t do certain things. He would hover over my back (literally) like a boss out of Dilbert and press me to finish some mundane design task that he felt urgently needed to be examined. He was democratic about his patronizing and rude comments, but it didn’t make me feel any better when he directed them towards my team members. I felt more like I was a teenager working at a crappy retail job than a professional working at one of the greatest tech companies in the world.

    I tried to tough it out and look at the bright side of things. I was working at Apple with world-class designers on a world-class product. My coworkers had super sharp eyes for design, better than I had ever encountered before. I loved the attention to detail that Apple put into its design process. Every single pixel, screen, feature, and interaction is considered and then reconsidered. The food in the cafe was great, and I liked my new iPad Air. But the jokes, insults, and negativity from my boss started distracting me from getting work done. My coworkers that stood their ground and set boundaries seemed to end up on a shit list of sorts and were out of the inner circle of people that kissed the producer’s ass. I started to become one of those people that desperately wanted Friday evening to arrive, and I dreaded Sunday nights. Few of my friends or family wanted to hear that working at Apple actually wasn’t so great. They loved to say, “Just do it for your resume.” Or “You have to be the bigger man.” Or “You just started. You can’t leave yet.”

    This morning I got up a bit later than usual, and I missed the one Apple bus that stops by my house. I ended up driving to work in slow traffic. I was thankful I didn’t have to drive every day. But I was still thinking that I’d rather be taking my daughter to her preschool like I did on some mornings before I started at Apple. I got into work and immediately had to go to another meeting. It went fine, and then I got back to my desk. Without so much as a hello, my boss hit me with another weird low-blow insult wrapped up nicely as a joke. I tried to ignore it and get back to work, and I realized I just couldn’t focus at all on my job. I was too caught up thinking about how I should deal with the situation. Should I put in my notice? Could I make it to the end of my contract? Could I switch to a different team? How could I find a new job if I was always stuck in Cupertino? Maybe I should bop my punk boss in his nose? No don’t do that, Jordan.

    Then at lunch time I wiped the iPad data clean, put the files I had been working on neatly on the server, left all their belongings on my desk, and I got in my car and drove home. I left a message for my boss and told him he’s the worst boss I had ever encountered in my entire professional career and that I could no longer work under him no matter how good Apple might look on my resume. The third party company that contracted me is furious because I’ve jeopardized their relationship with Apple, and of course they feel that I’ve acted highly unprofessionally by walking out. I’m not really proud of myself for doing that, and I do feel terrible for destroying the long relationship I had with the recruiter who helped me land the interview. This is all an especially difficult pill to swallow because I was so excited to work for Apple. I’m not sure if this will haunt me or not, but all I know is that I wanted to work at Apple really bad — and now not so much.

    p.s. I’m currently looking for a new design job. Please contact me if you have one that’s cool.

  • Who Knew Bill Nye's Takedown Of Creationism Would Sound So Spiritual? (VIDEO)
    When Bill Nye squared off against creationist Ken Ham in last week’s highly anticipated debate, America’s beloved “Science Guy” was concerned mostly with knocking down his opponent’s pseudoscientific arguments.

    But at times his rhetoric took on a surprisingly poetic tone.

    “Where did we come from?” Nye asked the crowd at one point. “What was before the Big Bang? To us this is wonderful and charming and compelling. This is what makes us get up to go to work every day.”

    Nye’s eloquence caught the attention of YouTube user melodysheep, who used Nye’s words and some mesmerizing music to create a surprisingly inspiring video mashup — check it out above.

    The creationism debate itself, which was covered extensively by The Huffington Post, caused quite the stir on Twitter and across the internet. Maybe the video will help create some calm.

  • An Open Education Not Ready to Be Open
    I am a tried-and-true supporter of open coursewares. They enabled the first steps of my becoming a software engineer. So much of my knowledge today is indebted to people who have graciously shared theirs on the internet and a generous ethos of enabling access to worlds you did not previously know.

    But anyone that has actually studied with online open courseware knows it is terribly lonely and difficult, even for very motivated learners. When I was studying from Stanford’s online introductory computer science class in Taiwan, the only thing that alleviated the lack of help resources was the blog of a girl who had also completed one of the classes on her own. When I absolutely needed some hints on how to progress forward, I consulted her blog’s solutions for quick and limited hints. To me, lifting her solutions wholesale (or “cheating”) had no value. If I didn’t do as much of it as possible myself, the knowledge was not mine.

    When I started looking for jobs as a software engineer, I put up completed assignments as part of my portfolio on Github to demonstrate my knowledge. An added benefit of that was other self-learners began to reference the repository. It uplifted me to know that there are people all over the world wanting to learn more of their own volition; I felt connected to them after my own journey.

    My experience is not a rare one. Many aspects of it, especially the knowledge sharing, are common among people who have self-studied their way to life-changing paths.

    This is why I was genuinely surprised when I received an email request from a Stanford CS instructor to remove my solutions from Github, claiming that availability of my solutions could seriously jeopardize the academic futures of the current students. Many of them had no self-control over cheating or willfully cheat because they simply did not care. It was my responsibility to remove this “temptation” out of their way.

    After confirming with him that my sharing of solutions was not in violation of any rules, I declined his request to uphold my principles. Instead, I offered to add some disclaimers to warn Stanford students against referencing the assignments. Unfortunately, this proposal was considered insufficient by him — he deemed that I “could not be reasoned with” and that the availability of my solutions to be against the spirit with which such material are shared.

    This was in spite the fact that the FAQ for this open courseware clearly states that it hopes students can self-form communities online to help each other for assignments without solutions and that such “support should be obtainable via a quick web search”.

    While I still believed in the soundness of my motivations, his insistence got me to reflect on the unspoken paradoxes between a closed, formal education and its simultaneous attempt to be “open.”

    Some things to reflect on, without absolute answers:

    1. How does a school reconcile the consequences of making a course open?
    When the school shared their courses online, did they not predict that solutions would also be shared? Despite the instructor’s claim that he had emailed the handful of people with posted solutions and they had complied, a quick Google search revealed dozens of other solutions still posted. Why did the school continue to use unmodified assignments for its own closed course?

    As generous as it is to post course material, learning on your own could be extremely difficult without a reference to solutions. The articulated hope of self-forming learning communities for online classes is impossible without the allowance of sharing and discussing answers freely. It is not worth much for a school to claim to embrace open education when it cannot fully embrace the consequences of openly shared knowledge.

    While I believe that the effectiveness of open coursewares without TA support would greatly decrease if solution sharing is forbidden, this should be spelt out in the guidelines if its is a legitimate concern.

    2. Should a school rethink its policy on cheating?
    The primary argument that the instructor gave me was that even if a student has “inadvertently” cheated through an initially casual reference, the consequence was large and irrevocable — forming an indelible mark on the academic record.

    It troubles me deeply that a school and its instructor still act more like authoritarian parents even at the university level. What does it say about our education system when young adults could not be trusted to make their own decisions and take advantage of the world-class resources around them, or to rebound from a real inadvertent mistake?

    3. Should a school reflect on the nature of its assignments?
    Of all the troubling implications, the worst was the disconnect between completing an assignment and how work is done in the real world. In the working world, knowledge is constantly augmented through open source sharing, consulting of previous experiences, and working collaboratively. This enables us to advance our collective intelligence as a whole. So little of this is evident in how we expect students to exercise their knowledge.

    In the end, I removed the solutions, because I respected the teacher going out of his way to try to construct an “effective” learning environment for his students, even if that is a bubble. My initial refusal seemed to seriously pain him, and I do not enjoy emotionally traumatizing someone whose heart is in a good place.

    It took me a long time after graduating from an Ivy League school to fully grasp the true value of knowledge without the presence of grades (I had never cheated, but the specter of grades always loomed larger in a school than learning for its own sake). Access to knowledge and the subsequent mastery of it is such a precious and beautiful thing, but it could only be truly appreciated when you are trusted as an individual to utilize it for purposes larger than impressing an artificial system.

    (A longer form of this also appears in Medium).

  • 'TIME' App Predicts Your 'Perfect Marriage Date,' In Case You Were Confused
    According to a new app, I should get married in seven months and 26 days — if I want to keep up with my friends, that is.

    A new web app brought to us by TIME magazine analyzes your Facebook friends’ ages and relationship statuses to determine the median age of your married friends (in my case, 24.3 years old) and suggests that you tie the knot around that same time.

    According to the methodology, the app only counts friend who list their date of birth, including the year. TIME researchers estimate that only 25 percent of users list this information. Furthermore, the app’s calculation only includes people who have their relationship status listed as “married,” “engaged,” “in a domestic partnership,” or “in a civil union.” In other words: a very small selection of the average user’s Facebook friends. In my case, that selection encompasses 10 or so Facebook friends who are already married or engaged and sharing that information on the Internet — all of whom are around my current age — and disregards around 900 people in my social network who might get married later in life.

    The app is mildly amusing, but mostly because it is so pointless. The age at which your friends are getting married should never influence the choices you make in your own personal life — we advocate getting married if and when you are ready to do so. (Never getting married is also a perfectly valid life decision.)

    So thanks, but no thanks, TIME. I’ll probably have other plans on my “perfect” wedding date, but thanks for worrying about me.

  • How to Stop Giving a F@$% What People Think

    We’re all guilty.

    Every day from the moment we wake up, we live our lives caring what other people think of us.

    We accept the status quo for what it is because everyone around us does.

    We tip toe our way through life by doing things in order to please others, not because it’s what we believe in. Eventually our actions, appearances, and lives become molded by how we think other people perceive us.

    How are these pants going to make me look? What will my colleagues think if I spoke out? Are those people talking shit behind my back? If I take this job, what will my friends and family think of me?

    Just writing that paragraph alone gave me a headache…

    It’s exhausting. It’s dreadful. It has to stop.

    Living a life that follows the ideal notions of what other people think is a terrible way to live. It makes you become the spineless spectator who waits for other people to take action first. It makes you become a follower.

    Worst of all, it makes you become someone who doesn’t take a stand for anything.

    Today is the last day we live a life dictated by others. Today, we’re going to get to the bottom of the truth. Today is the day we stop giving a F@$%.


    No one really cares

    Believe it or not, we’re not that special.

    We go through our days thinking about how other people might be judging us. But the truth is — those people are thinking the exact same thing.

    No one in today’s “smartphone crazed” society has time in their schedule to think more than a brief second about us. The fact of the matter is, when we do have time get our thoughts straight, we’re too busy thinking about ourselves and our own shortcomings — not others.

    A study done by the National Science Foundation claims that people have on average 50,000-plus thoughts a day. This means that even if someone thought about us ten times in one day, it’s only 0.02 percent of their overall daily thoughts.

    “You’ll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” — David Foster Wallace

    It is a sad but simple truth that the average person filters their world through their ego, meaning that they think of most things relating to “me” or “my.” This means that unless you have done something that directly affects another person or their life, they are not going to spend much time thinking about you at all.

    I’ve always enjoyed watching performers trying to hustle some change at the New York City train stations. These guys simply don’t give a F@$%.

    But the more interesting observation I made is how the spectators react. Rather than watching the actual performers, most people are looking around to see how other people are reacting. If people were laughing, they would start laughing too. But if people weren’t paying attention, they would also pay no mind.

    Even when provided the blatantly obvious opportunity to judge someone, people are still thinking about how others may perceive them.

    Once you understand that this is how people’s mind works, it’s a big step towards freedom.

    You can’t please everyone

    It’s impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations.

    There will always be people — no matter what we say or how we treat them — that will judge us. Whether you’re at the gym, at work, taking the train, or even online playing Call of Duty. Even now it’s happening. You will never be able to stop people from judging you, but you can stop it from affecting you.

    Think about the worst thing that could possibly happen when someone is judging you or what you’re doing.

    I guarantee that chances are — nothing will happen. Absolutely nothing. No one is going to go out of their busy lives to confront us, or even react for that matter. Because as I mentioned before, no one actually cares. What will happen, is that these people will actually respect you for claiming your ground. They may disagree with you, but they’ll respect you.

    Start standing up for what you believe in — causes, opinions, anything. You’re going to have people that disagree with you anyways, so why not express how you truly feel?

    “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in life.”– Winston Churchill

    I’ve learned that it’s better to be loved by a few people you care about, than to be liked by everyone. These are family, friends, spouse — the people who love you for who you are, and the people who will be there for you during your worst times. Focus on these people. They’re the only people that matter.

    You reap what you sow

    Worrying too much about what other people think can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the way we think starts to become the way we behave. These individuals become people-pleasers and overly accommodating to others, thinking it will stop them from being judged.

    In fact, the opposite is true. Most people don’t like push-overs and are turned off by it. The behavior we use in an attempt to please others, can actually cause the opposing effect.

    If how we think affects our behaviors, then how we behave affects who we attract.

    This means that if you’re a push-over, then you’re going to be attracting others in your life who are also push-overs. Vice versa.

    This can be quite a dangerous path to go down if you don’t recognize its consequences.

    It’s been said that we are the average of the five people we hang out with the most. When we start to attract and associate with the same people that share our weaknesses — we’re stuck. We stop growing, because there’s no one to challenge us to be better. We start thinking that this is the norm and we remain comfortable. This is not a place you want to be.

    Now let’s talk about the cure. Here are five ways to stop giving a F@$%.

    Reclaiming your freedom

    1. Know your values

    First and foremost. You need to know what’s important to you in life, what you truly value, and what you’re ultimately aiming for. Once you know who you really are and what matters to you, what other people think of you become significantly less important. When you know your values, you’ll have something to stand up for — something you believe in.

    You’ll stop saying yes to everything. Instead, you’ll learn to say no when friends pressure you to go bar-hopping, or when a tempting business opportunity that distracts you from your business.

    When you have your values straight, you have your shit straight.

    2. Put yourself out there

    Now that you know what your values are, it’s time to put yourself out there.

    This can be done several ways. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Blogging
    • Wearing a polka-dot sweater
    • Public speaking
    • Flirting/asking someone out

    Keep in mind that when you’re doing any of these activities, you have to speak your mind. Be honest with yourself and what you share, because the world doesn’t need another conflict-avoider who does what everyone else does.

    3. Surround yourself with pros

    Surround yourself with people who are self-assured, and live life without comprising their core values. These people will rub off on you quickly.

    One of my best friends, Cody, has been a big influence on me. Having spent the summer with him, I’ve observed countless times where he strongly voiced his opinion on controversial topics. What I learned was that he was simply voicing opinions that people already had in their heads, but were too afraid to voice. People admired him for being so honest and direct, even when they disagreed with his views.

    Thanks for not giving a F@$%, Cody.

    4. Create a “Growth List”

    OK, now we’re getting personal.

    I haven’t told anyone this, but I have this list called the “Growth List.”

    A Growth List is comprised of all the things in life that makes you uncomfortable. These are fears, insecurities — anything that gives you the jitters.


    Here’s how it works.

    You start by writing all the things that make you feel uncomfortable.

    Then one-by-one, you do them. Once you complete the task, you move on to the next. Repeat.

    My first growth task was taking a cold shower (The Flinch). I turned the water as cold as it could get, and I could feel my body shake before I even entered the shower.This was the inner bullshit voice in my head talking.

    It was hard at first. But surprisingly, it got easier the second time. Then even easier the third time. Before I knew it, my body stopped shaking — I was no longer uncomfortable, I’ve conquered my fear.

    This exercise does wonders. I have yet to find a better way to get out of my comfortable zone. You can read all the books in the world about being confident or getting over your fears, but if you don’t take action, you’re just someone who’s read how to ride a bicycle without ever having ridden one.

    5. Travel alone

    If you’re looking for an ultimate transformation that combines all of the points above, you should travel alone. Traveling with other people can be fun, but you won’t get the opportunity to truly get out of your comfort zone.

    You’ll be exposed to different social cultures, break social norms that you didn’t even know existed, and ultimately be forced to burst out of your small bubble.

    Bring as little as possible, and fit everything into one backpack. Plan nothing, except for a one-way flight ticket to your destination — figure everything else out when you’re there. Trust me, you’ll be just fine.

    It won’t be easy initially, but don’t get discouraged. Being comfortable with the uncomfortable will grow with time. I continue to struggle with it everyday, as do many others. But you need to get started today.

    The world is already full of people who obey the status quo.

    But the people who don’t give a F@$% are the ones that change the world.

    Be the latter.

    Start living life the way you want, be fearless like you once were as a child, and always, always stand up for the truth.

    Someone has to.

    This article was inspired by the work of Julien Smith & The Flinch. It first appeared on Medium.

  • 'Science Of Kissing' Video Shows Crazy Effect Smooching Has On Your Body
    Kissing feels good–no doubt about that. But why does it feel good, and what happens inside your body when you lock lips with a loved one?

    The answers to those questions are surprisingly complicated, as Joe Hanson of the YouTube channel It’s Okay To Be Smart explains in a new video. Kissing, he says, involves five of your 12 cranial nerves and more than a dozen facial muscles–and that’s just the beginning.

    “Your first kiss brings on a rush of novelty as a flood of dopamine acts on the same brain reward centers triggered by drugs like cocaine,” Hanson says in the video. “Thanks to epinephrine and norepinephrine, your heart beats faster and you get a wave of oxygenated blood to your brain which makes your pupils dilate. Maybe that’s why we close our eyes when we kiss.”

    Fascinating. Still, researchers claim there’s a lot left to learn about kissing. So, this Valentine’s Day you may want to run some field tests! Science needs you.

  • 'Let It Go' According To Google Translate Is A Hilarious Mess (VIDEO)
    For now, at least, Google Translate isn’t as accurate as a human translator. Words tend to slip and slide as if on ice, and the more translations you pile onto a single phrase, the stranger and more awkward it becomes.

    Vassar College student Malinda Kathleen Reese recently performed a lyrical experiment where she used the site to translate “Let It Go,” the song from Disney’s “Frozen” that has taken over the Internet, one-by-one through a dozen languages.

    The results are hilarious, as expected.

    Reese warns in the description that she “can’t belt like Idina Menzel,” but if we’re being honest, the power of her voice delivering the truly ridiculous lyrics was half the fun.

    Watch the video above and see for yourself.

  • These 100-Year-Old Best Friends Share Their Hilarious Thoughts On Today's Pop Culture (VIDEO)
    When these ladies first met 94 years ago, the world was a completely different place.

    Irene Cook and Alice Jensen were born in Chicago in 1913, ABC7 reported. They met at St. Gregory’s School in first grade and “took to each other almost immediately,” Jensen told the outlet.

    In 1918, the year they met, Woodrow Wilson was president, Congress was grappling with an amendment that would give women the right to vote and World War I was being fought.

    Now, the two 100-year-olds are still best friends, and recently appeared on the “Steve Harvey Show” where they shared their thoughts on today’s pop culture — chatting about everything from selfies and twerking to Justin Bieber and iPhones.

    Between not believing that someone actually named their child North West and referring to Justin Bieber as “Justin Beaver,” these two are nothing short of brilliant.

    Watch the hilarious video above for their full appearance on the show.

  • Goldman Handed Out Cosmetic Mirrors And Nail Files At Women's Coding Event – NYTimes.com
    Goldman Sachs was the biggest sponsor of a Harvard event last weekend aimed at women interested in computer science. But the Wall Street bank’s conference swag at the event was found off-putting by at least one attendee.

    The conference, Women Engineers Code, or WECode, which was organized by an undergraduate student group at Harvard, featured stacks of cosmetic mirrors with the Goldman Sachs logo, a photograph posted to Instagram shows. The Instagram user also said that the bank brought nail files to the event.

  • <i>Huffington</i> Issue 88: Virtual Love, Ty Burrell And More
    In this week’s issue of Huffington magazine, we mark Valentine’s Day with an unconventional kind of love: the virtual kind. Elsewhere in the issue, we discover the staggering amount of sexism in the classical music world, and speak to Americans who are too poor to afford Obamacare. On the lighter side, don’t miss our sit-down with Ty Burrell, a taste test of canned chilis, and much more.

    Huffington free in the iTunes App store

    Huffington, the weekly magazine app from the team behind The Huffington Post, will now offer iPad users an in-depth Huffington Post experience on a mobile platform. Huffington takes the best of HuffPost’s Pulitzer Prize-winning original content–including news of the week, deeply reported features, enticing Q&As, photo essays, top-tier commentary, and notable quotes from the HuffPost community–and puts it in an elegantly designed showcase that allows readers to have a deeper and richer reading experience.

    Download it free in the App Store today and spend a little more time with Huffington.

  • Nikkei: Sony in negotiations to supply iPhone front camera modules
    Sony is preparing to supply Apple with front image sensors for a future iPhone release, according to a report. While Sony already provides the vast majority of CMOS sensors for the rear cameras of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, the manufacturer has apparently entered negotiations to offer both the front and back camera modules to Apple for its devices.


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